Monday, 25 December 2017

Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

Back in July this year a new Integrity album dropped. A few weeks earlier the pre-orders went live and, as was to be expected, there were several versions available. I had a couple of people message me and tell me that their thoughts were with me. I mean, it's pretty well documented that I have a few Integrity records, and I think people almost felt sorry for me knowing that I was immediately put in this position whereby keeping up was going to be a difficult and expensive game.

Well, truth be told, I felt a weird mix of excitement and apprehension. On the one hand, a new Integrity record was bound to be something that I was into, but having to shell out for several copies wasn't something that I was overly excited about. So when the pre-orders went live I hesitated, and then before I knew it the most limited version was already sold out. Fuck my life. Then I just felt confused and didn't know what to do. So I did nothing.

A few weeks later and I still hadn't ordered anything, but then I stumbled on an opportunity to pick up several copies in one go and from one source, which actually made it relatively cheap and easy. And once I was off the mark, I just went for it. In a relatively short space of time, I had the full set accounted for. So here goes...

First up, the test press. This is a 3 x 12" in a cover handmade by Dwid.

Next up is the most limited 'regular' version. As you may know, Relapse Records always make a limited edition of 100 copies of every release on clear vinyl. These are not sold to the public, but given to friends of the label and band. Given that it's not possible to buy this version, I'm pretty stoked to have been given a chance to buy one.

You're probably not surprised that a triple LP is gonna come in a gatefold sleeve, the inside of which contains a live photo of the band.

The back carries on the same artwork as the front. It's pretty dark shit.

There are also two inserts - a lyric sheet, and a booklet of art.

So that's pretty much the package. As you can see, there's a lot going on, and a lot of time and effort clearly went into it. It looks awesome. So all that remains is to quickly run down the other versions...

The most limited 3xLP version is this Blue / Grey / Clear Tri-color version, limited to 100 copies. This was the one that sold out super fast at pre-order stage.

Interestingly, this isn't actually a 3 x LP at all. It's a 2 x LP with a bonus 12". That's an important detail, as the bonus 12" was only given away with the first press copies direct from the label. But aside from the clear vinyl version, the bonus 12" is only on black vinyl.

Next is the other pre-order version that was initially available, being the 'blue and grey half and half with splatter', limited to 400 copies.

Next, the first press 2xLP versions. The first is this 'milky clear with splatter', limited to 100 copies:

Another first press 2xLP version is the 'clear with blue smoke', limited to 100 copies. To me, this one looks like one glow in the dark record and one pale blue record. But what the hell do I know?

And finally, the first press was rounded out with this standard black vinyl version, limited to 1,200 copies:

Then, after those versions, two second press colors were released. The first is this 'silver & baby blue merge w/ splatter' version, limited to 200 copies:

The second version of the second press is the one that I'm still waiting on. So that will have to follow in a separate post at some later date.

Anyway, as usual I put this post off for far too long. I received a couple of copies, and then a couple more a couple of months later, and then a couple more a couple of months after that. At some point I decided that I would wait until I had them all before I put them up on the blog. But before I knew it, the year had pretty much ended and I was still waiting for one copy, so I decided to just put this post up anyway. Somehow it seems more appropriate to have this post up in 2017 rather than wait until that final copy comes in.


Anonymous said...

As massive an Integrity fan as I am, I might be alone in finding this album quite underwhelming!
Now don't get me wrong, I love Integrity and have a silly amount of their records but this record sounds like dwid fronting an average metal band with terrible guitar solos all over the place topped off with that God awful track with those backing singers!!!
I think my distaste for the record started when the pre-orders went up with all the gimmicky flags and slip mats bumping the price up. That and the insane prices for shipping! Almost $80 for A record including shipping, fuck that!
It made me realise that all the stuff Integrity have released in the last 10 years is very subpar. I've bought all the splits in the last few years and all the Integrity tracks are very forgettable.
The last good record they made was To Die For.
Integrity were good in their prime but now seem to be clinging onto past glories...

mcs said...

I understand what you mean. At first I was scepticle of this record. I didn't mind the high prices, because in a way it showed me that Integrity are still relevant to enough people that those people would spend ludicrous amounts to get the record. But if it hadn't sold out, would I have paid that price for the most limited one? Possibly not. The slipmat and whatever else wasn't something I gave a shit about, and the copy I got didn't actually come with one... but then again, I paid WAY less than the pre-order price for my copies.
Anyway, at first I didn't like the sound either. At first it kinda sounded like a Pulling Teeth record with Dwid doing vocals. Too many solos, and the general guitar sound seemed a bit off. But after giving it more time, I started to appreciate it more.
I think my overall conclusion is that it is good, although not their best. But when you look back at their catalogue, I don't think the past ten years are 'off track' at all. Because when you look back further, after they did 'Seasons', they carried on and put out some really weird releases - the Integrity 2000 releases, and also 'Closure'. Those releases don't really fit their earlier sound, and I honestly think that most of the releases in the past ten years sound more like Integ than 'Closure' or the Integrity 2000 CD release did. But then again, that's what has always kept them interesting to me. Dwid's trademark vocal remains constant, but the underlying music changes regularly. Some like it, some don't. But just because they go in one direction for one record doesn't mean they won't change direction on the next one.
Finally, when you say that they were good in their prime by are now clinging on to past glories - I guess it depends on exactly when you think their prime was. Some think it was all downhill after the first album. Some think their prime was right up to (and including) 'Seasons'. Others would stop at 'Humanity'. I doubt many people would say that their prime went beyond 'Seasons' though... although, as you say, 'To Die For' was great. But that was after a few dodgy releases.
Me, I genuinely believe that some of the songs of the past ten years DO rival their earlier period. The 'VVe Are The End' 7" is great, and I think 'The Blackest Curse' is right up there too. And half of 'Suicide Black Snake'.
So I see where you are coming from, and I can see why you say what you say. But I don't entirely agree. But overall, whatever peoples' opinion on this record or any of the records of the past ten years, I think it's great that they are still putting records out on a semi regular basis. I think this is much more admirable than some of the bands from 30 years ago who are still touring and charging high guarantees to play the same 15 songs over and over, year after year.

Mike said...

I'm not sure what would intimidate me more, writing up a blog post for all these pressings or sitting down to listen to a triple LP for Integrity. Ha!

Willem RWHAF said...

damn you Marcus, I still need one copy of it to listen to