N.S.C. – Wasp in a Jam Jar

Wasp in a Jam Jar
1996 Meltdown (MDM 101)
Devon, England, United Kingdom

Miriam – Lead vocals
Ashley – Guitars
Triggs – Guitars
Sharon – Acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Rachel – Bass guitar, backing vocals
Rog – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Anointed
  2. By Faith
  3. You Stepped In
  4. Follow
  5. Show Your Love

Side 2:

  1. Wrong Again
  2. Pray
  3. Dreams
  4. Keep On
  5. He’s Always There

The weird title of this demo actually comes from a review of a past demo from the band, where the reviewer actually praised the band’s musical ability, but thought the recording was so crude that the guitars made the band sound like a wasp in a jam jar. They have obviously fixed that problem here, so I think referencing that review in the album title was meant as a light-hearted joke. I think this album was released on CD as well. The sound is kind of a heavier guitar alternative rock, somewhere between Welcome Race Fans by Dakota Motor Co and Happily Ever After by Hoi Polloi. There were at least two albums before this one (No Second Chances – the wasp album – in 1993 and Anointed in 1994) as well as at least on after this one (Bramph! In 1999). Based on their 1993 release, I assume NSC stands for No Second Chances.

Autovoice – 00000011

1996 Flaming Fish Music
Ontario, Canada

Steve Shoe – Vocals, programming
Johnny Space Echo – Programming, sound effects

Side 1:

  1. Standardization
  2. Project DV-8
  3. Decay
  4. Infinitum

Side 2:

  1. If You Want Someone Build a Conscious Machine
  2. End of Transmission
  3. Ens Cogitans
  4. The Initial

Autovoice is an electronic/industrial band that is still going to this day. You can actually find this album on BandCamp – I usually only digitize these re-released tapes to see how the original compares to what was released. A few bands seem to like to George Lucas their older releases – which is not always a bad thing. I just like to see. I can’t really tell any difference from this tape and the one on BandCamp, except for of course the two extra bonus tracks on BandCamp. Well, and the songs on BandCamp sound remastered. The sound itself is a bit darker and ambient than your typical industrial, while still retaining a definite industrial sound. There are also influences of noise and darkwave in many places as well.

Trilemma – Trilemma

1996 (no label)
Allenstown, Pennsylvania, USA

Rob Stanich – Guitars
Rich Stevens – Bass, drum programming

Bob Kemp – Guest vocalist

  1. Flight of the Bumblebee
  2. When
  3. I Never Thought
  4. No Fear
  5. The Unseen

This is a very low budget DIY effort that is mostly two people recording most of the music. You can tell they recorded one instrument and then went back and played another instrument over that one with it playing live – there are multiple pops and recording levels starting each song that shows where different tracks were played. Generally, they seem to be going for a heavy metal sound, but it is so lo-fi that the exact genre is hard to tell. Of course, the drum programming gives it an industrial feel as well, a fact that they wait until the last track to finally take advantage of. It might have been cool if they could have taken this industrial approach to all of the songs. The track list above is what actually appeared on the tape – the J-card was actually wrong a bit.

Casa Alianza – Sanctuary: Songs for the Voiceless

Casa Alianza
Sanctuary: Songs for the Voiceless
1996 (no label)
Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom

Eve & The Garden:

Alison Eve – Vocals, classical guitar
Paul A. Davies – Electric guitar, classical guitar, synth lead guitar, background vocals
Phillip Rainey – Bass
Alyson Rainey – Violin
Paul Cudby – Drums, percussion

The Rumors are True:

Helen Turner – Lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Rachel Coates – Acoustic guitar, low whistle, vocals
Jason Bell – Chapman stick
Richard Coates – Drums, percussion

Side 1:

  1. Eve & The Garden – Sanctuary

Side 2:

  1. The Rumors are True – Close to Me

This demo is basically a split tape recorded to benefit Casa Alianza, an organization that works to protect street children in Guatemala. The contact information is in England, so I am guessing these are two UK based bands raising money for relief work in Central America. Eve & The Garden is an ethereal folk band – the synths and violin probably adding to that feeling. Their song does surprisingly pick up the pace during the chorus – wasn’t expecting that. The Rumors are True is a Celtic folk band that reminds me of Iona in some ways, but more on the folk side. Having a chapman stick and low whistle on their song probably helps that comparison, but those two instruments are always a plus in my book.

Luxury – Nude at Last

Nude at Last
1996 (no label)

  1. Honeymoon
  2. I Don’t Hate Her Anymore
  3. Velvet
  4. Touch
  5. Flaming Youth Flames On
  6. When the Curtain Falls
  7. From the Lion Within
  8. Hell or Highwater

This tape was a compilation put together by Luxury after their first Tooth & Nail release Amazing and Thank You, but before their second release The Latest & The Greatest. It mostly contains songs off of previous (at that point) releases and two preview songs from the upcoming release. “Honeymoon” and ” I Don’t Hate Her Anymore” were the lead tracks from Tinsel by The Shroud (the first name for Luxury). “Velvet” and “Touch” were the first two tracks from Candy, Darling? by Shroud (the second name for Luxury). “Flaming Youth Flames On” is the original version of this song, originally released on the band’s split with Sunbrain. This version is different from the version later on Amazing and Thank You. “When the Curtain Falls” is the version that was the closing track on Luxury’s demo It Might as Well Be Skin. The two new songs (as the time of this release) – “From the Lion Within” and ” Hell or Highwater” – were both later released on The Latest & The Greatest, and the versions here sound the same as the ones on the official release. So you can pretty much find all of these versions of these songs on their BandCamp page, with the exception of the early version of “Flaming Youth Flames On.”However, the final version of that song is on their page.

Blank Face – Three Free

Blank Face
Three Free
1996 (no label)
Elmwood Park, Illinois, USA

David J. Pisciotto – vocals and instruments

  1. Sin Disease
  2. On the Cross
  3. Thirst

If you listened to many industrial compilations back in the day, especially those that were on R.E.X. Music, then you have already heard 2/3 of this tape and know it is a great tape. Blank Face got some attention for their songs on the comps and then seemed to vanish. The sound here is guitar-driven industrial, more hard rock/heavy alternative in style than heavy metal, but still well made. This was the second of two known demos from Blank Face, the other being Trinity. I haven’t heard that one, so I don’t know if any songs repeat from here to there. The third song on this tape that most haven’t heard fits in great with the others stylistically.

Igniter – Fall of the Nation

Fall of the Nation
1996 (no label)
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Mike Better – Vocals
James Martinez – Guitars
Michael Travieso – Guitars
Steve Valdez – Bass
Ron Travieso – Drums, percussion

Side 1:

  1. Psalms 91
  2. Heaven’s Gate
  3. Where Do We Go From Here
  4. Fall of the Nation
  5. Rose of Sharon

Side 2:

  1. Call to Love
  2. Holy Flame
  3. Black Widow
  4. Dominion

Back in the mid-90s, after the Great Grunge Onslaught, few bands were out there doing full on heavy metal. There were several metal bands around, but so many were going nu-metal, grunge, ____core, etc. Most were calling it quits. So it was interesting to hear Igniter raising the heavy metal banner without shame in 1996. No real hints of grunge/nu/core here. Lots of traditional metal, power metal, commercial metal, and neo-classical metal. San Antonio was a mecca of heavy metal back in the day, and it looks like “the day” lasted well after the 80s for some bands. Lesser demo tapes than this one have become legends in the underground metal circles online.