Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beyond Possession

Beyond Possession - Tell Tale Heart 1985
Beyond Possession - Is Beyond Possession 1986
01. Beyond Possession - Tell Tale Heart, 1985 Vinyl 7" 33 ⅓ RPM Reissue
     Fango Records - FR-001
     Reissue from 1991
02. Beyond Possession - Is Beyond Possession, 1986 Vinyl LP Album
     Death Records, Metal Blade Records - DRR 008, 72168-1
Don't sweat it, I am not starting a reload campaign: technically, this is not a repost since the previous Beyond Possession worship service only featured the Repossessed CD (which contains both these records). I might do that again with original vinyls for past CDs-only posts (Sacrilege BC! Crumbsuckers! Ludichrist!). Why? Because vinyl sounds better? No, because I am a nostalgia addict. I am fond of manipulating records from the warm years of my youth. I did not take many pictures, I do not have a photo album, everything is in the records which trigger long reels of memories. The Beyond Possession LP is particularly potent in that regard and I won't tell you why. But 1986 was such a hot year. And so are Beyond Possession, who still sound amazing today. The 7" is a great little piece of HC/punk, but the LP is one major ass kicking crossover masterpiece. It is like the side-project of Attitude Adjustment and Steve Harris, it really is the spirit of crossover - wild but tamed, brilliantly executed, catchy yet dark. Maybe it was too ahead of its time or something, but the non-explosion of this record on the worldwide metal and punk scenes remains a mystery to me. Still A-MA-ZING 30 years later!
!ZER Beyond Possession ZER!
Remove brackets and unzip: [possessizer]
Wait... did I just emit some anti-vinyl blasphemy? What, vinyl does not sound better than CD? No I don't think vinyl sounds better than CD. Objectively, vinyl is an inferior medium with much less dynamic range, weaker stereo separation, poorer sound to noise ratio, much narrower frequency response and generally inferior precision than CD.
I too prefer the LP physical object: it is larger than a CD, and size matters. Also, it smells better and has no stupid jewel case that will break on the first occasion. And I love color, transparent vinyl (the new Goatwhore LP is a terrific semi-white/semi transparent marvel) - and picture discs. I love picture discs, they sound horrible but I love them anyway.
On the other hand, the case protects the CD, while the LP protects its sleeve. But more importantly, vinyl degrades much faster. After 35 years of vinyl and 25 years of CD consumption, I have lost 10 times more LPs than CDs and I own 5 times more CDs than LPs, which makes a 50 to 1 loss ratio. By "lost" I mean LPs or CDs that have major problems (LPs that skip or pop so hard that some songs cannot be played, CDs with unbearable clicks and unplayable songs). I've always been extra careful with my records. My daughters suffered merciless terror when they only crawled near the records. But vinyl is just too fragile, it does not age well. And another thing that bugs me endlessly is that horrible background noise, and all the pops and crackles that you can get even on a brand new record (just got the new Thou double LP - I think I will sell it and buy the CD instead, on the first play it already sounds worn out like a 1978 LP that was forgotten in a wet wasteland with sand storms). I do spend a lot of time cleaning up the vinyl rips I post here. So yes, you might very well prefer vinyl to CD, but it is for other reasons than audio quality. Or maybe you do like the noise and muddiness of vinyl (and factor this as "warmth", how many times did someone tell me that vinyl sounds "warmer" than CD).
Yes there are many CDs (and I often complain about them here) that sound horrible compared to the LPs. These are invariably remastered versions of old albums done by deaf people who think using an L2 or L3 Ultramaximizer to 11 is a great idea because it sounds louder. Try the disgusting reissues of the 1st Living Death, the Hallow's Eve box set, or many others. Horrible shit indeed, but not because of the CD medium. This is due to incompetency and laziness from the piece of meat between the chair and the keyboard.
The vinyl trend bugs me a bit. It has become stronger and stronger for 10 or 15 years, while CD is disappearing. This is strange, except if you factor in the hipster wave. But why do we prefer an inferior medium which costs 2 to 4 times the price of the CD version? Isn't it an IQ test? Are we on the orbit to 2505? I bought the double Thou LP for $25 + tx (almost $30) while the CD was available for $10. I am still scratching my head (yeah that LP looks very nice... but that's it!). When I can buy a digibook or other especially creative designed packages, it's always a winner, it beats an LP. I wouldn't trade the latest Autopsy, Triptykon, most Corrupted, several Gargoyle releases etc. for their LP versions.
What really makes me laugh is the fact that we release LPs... although the whole recording process was digital. Recording, mixing, mastering, it's all done on a computer, then it's put on a fragile analog medium with background noise. Isn't that absurd?
In the 80s, it was very hype to have an AAD or ADD label on the record sleeve, digital was a hot quality tag. DDD was totally hype. Today the production process is always DDD, 100% digital (anyway most current artists wouldn't be able to play their stuff right enough with analog technology because analog means NO EDITING!) and we crave to put it on analog support... Yo.
And then there are the economical and ecological factors. Making vinyl is more expensive and consume much more resources and energy than CDs, and they are sold for more money with more profits. Therefore anti-capitalist earth protectors should save their soul and never buy LPs. They should not buy CDs either, they should even not download any music because the computer industry and the internet are evil pits of consumerism and pollution. I don't care, I do not have a soul, but if you were a good mammal, you wouldn't go to Youtube, visit this blog or even use anything like a computer, you earth-sucking parasite. You should live in a tree and wait for the universe to dissolve. Oï!
OK, end of the rant, time to eat.

PS: Here is what Neil Kernon (producer, Judas Priest, Macabre, Nile...) has to say:
I always think that it's funny when people say that something "wasn't mastered for vinyl" or "was only mastered for CD" because mastering for vinyl is a process where the audio path has to be much more stringently controlled and restricted than for CD mastering.

Vinyl doesn't allow the presence of much out of phase content, for several reasons. OOP content occupies lateral space within the groove, and too much of that can make a stylus, or even a cutter head while mastering, jump out of the groove. Therefore, all OOP content, which can often be desirable from a creative point of view in mixing - as in making sounds fly around the room and sound and even feel awesome - has to either not be included in the mix at all, or the low end of the whole mix has to be "bass phased" - basically made into mono artificially.

On top of that, really low frequencies, partly for the same reason, cannot exist on vinyl, so low end has to be filtered out.

Similarly, high frequencies and sibilance can distort vinyl easily, so they also have to be tamed as well. Of course, a good mix probably shouldn't have too many nasty things in it in the first place, but I've seen phenomenal sounding mixes cause problems in vinyl mastering, simply due to the restrictions of what can actually be cut onto the lacquer. It's often a crapshoot.

I witnessed a situation that went on for days where Ray Staff, the chief mastering engineer at Trident, was having trouble cutting a Cat Stevens album. It sounded really excellent, but simply couldn't translate to lacquer without either skipping or distorting horribly. That meant having to go back and alter the mix substantially - which actually wasn't a wide or sibilant mix at all - so that it could even be cut. To this day, that particular case still remains a mystery, but there was just a weird combination of things that literally prevented several of the original mixes from making it to vinyl.

So, taking an album that was mixed without any consideration that it might even end up on vinyl at all - and trying to master it often results in using a lot of restrictive things like low end filtering, bass phasing and the like. Therefore the whole low end curve and spatiality of the vinyl version might well sound totally different to the CD version.

None of these unfortunate restrictions are actually present in the digital world. I spent the first decade of my career both discovering, and then trying to work around limitation after limitation of getting a nice, wide mix onto vinyl without causing problems for the cutter head, or frying it with too many high frequencies. Once digital came out, I was finally able to take home a full-frequency, unfiltered version of the mix, rather than one that had to be compromised for vinyl.

Combine that with the ever-present clicks and pops and bangs, and vinyl can go and jump in the lake for all I care.

Complete discussion here.


  1. What a delightful rant. Hopefully it makes way through the cerebral membrane of some younger folks. Nostalgia, preference, prejudice, stand alone despite entitlement demands for justification. Art is not science. Art is subjective. The laws of physics are not suggestions. The laws of mathematics/economics are not suggestions. Flush my shitboomer peers, what they don't know by now, they refuse to know. Return the denial! Rise Up. Eat the cannibals.

    Anarcho-Capitalism Or Else.

    Woodchuck Pirate
    aka Raymond J Raupers Jr USA

  2. Easily the greatest pro-CD rant i've ever seen. We should preserve it for future generations.

    Anyhow, regarding the bad sound quality of CD reissues of the first Living Death album, are you referring to the older 2001 Shark Records remaster or the recent 2014 High Roller Records reissue because IMO the High Roller Records release is really good since it contains both the original 1984 Mausoleum Records mix and the far superior 1985 Earthshaker Records remix on one disc with equally excellent sound quality for both versions.

    1. Oh, I wasn't aware of the HRR rerelease. Have to check this out... If I remember well, the Shark Records CD was ok, but I bought a Brazilian reissue from 2006 that had bonus tracks and this was not listenable.

    2. There must be another psychological factor in favor of the vinyl trend: the religion of bio and "natural" products. Vinyl is analog, appeared before CDs and do not reflect light, so they must be more bio-natural than CDs. Therefore, they are better. Have you noticed that most movies have a fucking vinyl scene? When a character listens to music in a movie, he does not play a CD, he does not listen to an ipod, HE PLAYS A VINYL.

    3. I did not know there were "vinyl scenes", due to my abandonment of television and movies. I remember being told that Beatles were "meant" to be listened to analog only. That still stands as possibly the most absurd comment I've ever heard on the subject, especially in absence of evidence that any of the fab 4 were audiophiles.

      I perceive the core element of the vinyl trend as mere conformity, trying to be more through "things". It isn't about the "thing", it's about being a member of the club. Reason has nothing to do with it. A similar analogy is the Harley Davidson poseurism, strapping the American Flag to the bike, casting aspersions at Jap bikes. Harley Davidson has zero claim to freedom as it's a socialist's bike. In the 80's Harley Davidson petitioned the federal government to invoke trade tariff penalties of several hundreds of dollars against consumers who chose to buy a competitor's large CC rated bike. Fuck Harley Davidson's definition of freedom. I wouldn't own one even if they were giving them away free. Harley Davidson does not deserve to exist today. It would be a welcome relief to never see another Harley Davidson poseur scene ever again. Southpark nailed Harley Davidson poseurism straight between the eyes. It's good to make history.

      Woodchuck Pirate
      aka Raymond J Raupers Jr USA

    4. This is why the show Sons Of Anarchy is doubly ironic: violent thugs riding Harleys calling themselves the sons of anarchy. Yo.

      Yes, for a few years there has been this hipster trend in movies. As far as the turd engine called the movie industry is concerned, CD or other music sources do not exist.
      So, you have a close-up on the needle as it gets down on the LP and then the crackling starts. Then the character sighs heavily and grabs his green tea.

      I envy you, I am too weak to entirely avoid watching movies. I have a 5% ROI, 1 movie in 20 is ok or great. I guess it must be enough for my neuron. DEAD SNOW 2!!

  3. So what's better the Beyond Possession vinyl rip or the CD rip???

  4. Because of all this discussion, i have decided to pull all the vinyl off of my house and replace with CD's. Thanx y'alls!!

  5. As a musick nerd and a pretentious record collector asshole I think the matter dictates the medium. 320k rips for the mobile phone (that's my mp3 player when I'm out for a walk) and for mp3 CDs in the car. Vinyl for ritualistic nostalgia (pretentious asshole reference). CDs because I collect what I like (pretentious asshole reference again). Flac rips on external HDDs plugging them from my PC into the stereo for loud playback while I'm home alone, thus preserving the physical copies (pretentious blah).
    Bad mixing and/or mastering can ruin a recording regardless of the physical format presented to the end consumer. Nowadays, record companies tend to prefer brickwall mastering. The result is that what you hear is just louder but the dynamics are lost, depending on compression rates. They've been doing that for quite a while. Remember Unsane's "Occupational Hazard" CD from
    1998, it's an ongoing slab of loudness, the only subtility being the silent parts between the individual songs.
    "Made to be played loud at low volume" is printed on my pressing of the first Damned record. That's 1977 for the lot of the audiophiles. And it definetely is loud and I still love the way it sounds. Anyways, The Sonics already did that in the 60s.
    Bad production/mixing examples:
    "Beyond the Gates" by Possessed.
    Ultra cool LP package but it sounds like recorded in a giant tin can. Still can't listen to that as a whole, regardless of the good songs.
    Metal Church - The Dark. As much as I loved the first record (great songs - at least side A, crisp sound), I absolutely HATE that big hair metal drum sound on the second one. Cool songs, but those drums...

    Wow, what a rant. I guess I qualify as a nerd.

    1. Excellent, thanks. A man (I guess) by my own heart. Which makes me want to digress on the mp3 vs. lossless topic. This article is very interesting!

      Now for something completely different: one of this week's Google requests that led someone to this blog is: animal 1980 porn

    2. Yeah Beyond The Gates is mixed like shit. Carl Canedy should be whipped with barbed wire. Pleasure of the Flesh too. Thrash bands who adopted the hair metal mix recipe failed.

  6. Those MP3/lossless tests are always VERY questionable. To do a proper test: 1) playback systems need to be analogous. A solid system will flush out the differences, while comparing on a computer or portable device will not give the imaging and harmonics that will shine a bright light on the two very different files. 2) what age is the person, because a younger person who has never heard anything but MP3s or the radio, who is also used to auto-tune and highly digitalized effects, will likely prefer the sound of MP3s and not be able to pick out differences. A younger person who has only ever known compression has a much different ear than someone who is used to wide dynamic range etc. A younger person is going to key into loudness rather than depth and spacial qualities. The loudness wars have changed things. 3) various other key variables that pay service to such a test and making the information gleaned to be of some real use.

    1. 1) How do you play a CD, FLAC or any digital format on an analogous system? I plug my CD or laptop into my amplifier.
      2) a) file compression and sound compression are completely different and unrelated things b) file compression does not mean data loss (FLAC is compressed) 3) I agree with the problem of loudness wars, but it is not related to file compression at all; modern, ultra (sonically) compressed recordings do sound shitty whether in mp3 or lossless.




Click here for more info about reloads.