Red Rum Trance – Red Rum Trance

Red Rum Trance
Red Rum Trance
1998 (no label)

Matt Frantz – Electric guitar, fretless guitar, bass, classical guitar, synthesizer, acoustic and electric drums

Side 1:

  1. Shrill Chasm (Down Into The Rabbit Hole, Down Into The Fault Line, What It Is To Be A Chisel)
  2. Rhythmic Clawing (It Wants Out, You Can Hear It, You Can Feel It, What Is It?)
  3. What You’re Feeling?/That Scares Me (Marching Rush, What Do You Mean Creativity? I’m Just Writing Down What I’m Feeling)
  4. Creepwalking (Walk Like A Creep, Walking In Your Creep)
  5. Lungs Filling With Fluid (Lungs Still Filling, Swelling Blister, Slowly Convulsing Violin)
  6. Casting Out/Killing Witches (Pushing It Down, Burning It Back)
  7. Alpine (Acoustic Fallout, Aerial Trapeze)

Side 2:

  1. Oriental Fighting Style (Constant Attack From All Angles At Once)
  2. Lazy Guillotine (Mutating Metal In Motion)
  3. Taunt, Taunt, Jab, Jab (Dominant Monkey)
  4. Red Rabbit Staring You Down (White Rabbit Turning Red, Chaser, Down Into It)
  5. Clash Classical Crash (Confrontational Tones)
  6. Sailing Off The Edge Of The Earth (Suspended In Firmament, Clear Through, A Sea Serpent Myth)
  7. Dead Calm (Twelve Feet Deep, Warm And Translucent)
  8. Snap (A Transcription Of A Dream)

As the cassette says above, this is most of the tracks that were later released as Red Rum Trance. Red Rum Trance is Matt Franz, and this was his third solo album. I believe that Red Rum Trance was also the name of the project as well at the time it was released. All of the tracks are on BandCamp now, so you can see that for some reason, two tracks from side one (“Out of the Ashes” and “Startle-Swarming”) were left off of this tape. The sound here is experimental noise made on guitars and percussion instruments/percussive things. There are recognizable rhythms and song structures here, so it’s not completely noise, but those rhythms and structures are often very free form and mixed with noise as well. Frantz describes this as a mixture of “Industrial, Ambient, Tribal, Jazz, Oriental Folk, and Noise.” That is pretty accurate. I kind of like it.

The Smiley Kids – Still Smilin’ After All These Years

The Smiley Kids
Still Smilin’ After All These Years
1998 (no label)
Denver, Colorado, USA

George Hosni – Vocals, guitar
Kevin Wickes – Guitar
Marc Denny – Bass
Mike Wygant – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Jesus Is My Shrink
  2. Left Behind
  3. Frowney Clowney
  4. Fill the Gaps
  5. Alone?
  6. The Plants are Dying
  7. Egohead
  8. Love To Your Enemies

Side 2:

  1. Sk8 and Smile
  2. Always O.K.
  3. Score Goals Not Drugs
  4. Monkey
  5. Useless
  6. Helping Hand
  7. It’s Not Us

Smiley Kids were a skate punk band with some pop punk leanings that eventually signed to SaraBellum Records to release Don’t Get Bored in 1999. Nine of the songs here would be re-recorded on Don’t Get Bored. Additionally, the band released 13 of these songs on the Skate and Smile compilation in 2001. “The Plants are Dying” and “Egohead” from this tape did not make the compilation, although the later Don’t Get Bored version of “The Plants are Dying” is on the compilation. There are also some occasional hints of ska, crust, and other punk flavors here and there. The song I remember the most from compilations back in the day was “Fill the Gap (Foundation),” which is a very catchy song.

The Undecided – Demo

The Undecided
1998? (no label)
Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada

Matt Fast – Vocals
John Paul Peters – Guitar
Dan Thomas – Bass
Steve Dueck – Drums

  1. Disfigured
  2. Forgotten
  3. Lost
  4. The Challenge

The Undecided were a pop punk band mostly known for releasing two albums for Tooth & Nail Records. Apparently the band formed once, released a full-length, called it off for a while, then came back in 1997 with a new bassist and eventually released their first CD for T&N in 1999. This tape has no date on it, but it has the new bassist, and all four songs appear again on their self-titled T&N debut. So I guessed 1998 for a date, but it could be 1997 or 1999. The sound on this demo is typical of your late 90s pop punk – fast, poppy punk with layered background vocals. Some punk purists don’t claim it as punk, but for fans of this sub-genre, they do it well.

Vital Decision – Vital Decision

Vital Decision
Vital Decision
1998 (no label)
Jönköping, Sweden

Simon Rosén – Guitar, black vocals
Johan Ylenstrand – Guitar, death vocals
Daniel Hermansson – Bass, synth, guitar on “Preludium”
David Johansson – Drums

Fredrik – Bass on “Calling Your Name”

  1. Preludium
  2. The Dead Will Leave Their Graves
  3. Live Forever
  4. Persecution Until the Day of Victory
  5. Calling Your Name

Highly polished teen pop from Sweden! Just kidding. This is obviously extreme metal – mixing some black metal with a lot of death metal. Something in the water in the northern end of Europe must be infecting a lot of people with the extreme metal bug. I have been to Sweden, but I unfortunately did not catch it. I’m not an expert on this style of music, but I like it when it is done well, and I enjoyed this tape. It seems there are some better riffs here than you typically find in death metal. Johan and Simon were also in Crimson Moonlight at this time.

Jeremiah’s Grotto – Afraid EP

Jeremiah’s Grotto
Afraid EP
1998 (no label)
Gainsville, Florida, USA

Chris Siegle – Vocals, guitar
Brian Gray – Guitar
Dan Gray – Bass
Jonathan Farnell – Drums

  1. 5
  2. 20/20
  3. Raining Small Colors
  4. One Second of Grace
  5. Lost Impurity
  6. Afraid

So this appears to be a rare demo by Jeremiah’s Grotto, but it turns out this has 6 songs from the full-length Raining Small Colors demo. To my ears, it sounds like they are even the same versions as the songs on the full-length. But this demo says the songs were recorded in February of 1998, while the full length was recorded in June 1998. So I am not sure if they just forget these songs were recorded earlier, or if they were just able to pull off near identical recordings a few months later.

The Calm – Confessions of a Thirsty Tongue

The Calm
Confessions of a Thirsty Tongue
1998 (no label)
Manassas, Virginia, USA

Ellyn Bussey – Vocals
PJ Bussey – Guitars, programming
Daniel Wilkinson – Bass
Tim Shoemaker – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Riddle in Red
  2. Plight of a Hypocrite
  3. Inner Mission
  4. Letter to a Long Lost Friend
  5. The Raging Calm

Side 2:

  1. Shadow’s Hold
  2. Out from the Shadows
  3. A Breath of Fresh Spirit
  4. Gift Giving

This appears to be the last demo from The Calm, a band that was formed when two members of Taker and Armageddon teamed up with the vocalist from Sorrow of Seven. Well, one of those Taker/Armageddon guys was married to the vocalist from So7, so it was a natural team-up. Also of note is that no band members are listed on the tape itself, so the information above is from various online sources. It seems that this demo finds the band leaving behind some of the gothic influences and going for a mix of traditional metal and progressive metal. “Out from the Shadows” is a re-recorded version of “The Choice” from their 1994 demo. I am not sure if any other songs on this tape are re-named versions of older songs from that demo or their 1995 demo, though. I just recognized that song because it was included on HM Magazine’s Hard Music Sampler 73 in 1998. After this, PJ and Dan formed a band called Attic Symphony that is referred to as “mostly instrumental epic melodic heavy metal.” I should check that out.

Equinox – Ceremony of the North Wind

Ceremony of the North Wind
1998 (no label)
Gwinn, Michigan, USA

Michael Chevalier – Vocals, Rhythm guitars, keyboards, drums, programming
Sean Bedore – Lead guitars
Daniel Meneguzzo – Bass

Side 1:

  1. Demonized
  2. King of Worms
  3. Within the Light of Satanas

Side 2:

  1. The Lost Son
  2. Beyond the Neverending
  3. Ceremony of the North Winds

This one was a big shock. I was expecting some kind of pop album with Celtic or Viking touches based on the album cover and title. This is full blast black/death metal with hints of symphonic metal here and there. They had one demo before this called The Adonis Chronicle, and after this demo they changed their name to Draco to avoid copyright problems with Equinox. They released this demo or a re-recorded version of this demo as Draco and then split up. As you can see above, the tape only has song titles and no other information. The rest I found online.