VARIOUS ARTISTS  Fiesta Comes Alive  CD   (Slap A Ham)   4.98

Long before the Maryland Death Fest became the country's premier live festival for underground extreme music, Spazz frontman and Slap-A-Ham label boss CHris Dodge was holding a yearly bash at the legendary Gilman St. Project in Berkeley, California called Fiesta Grande. The annual festival started in 1992 and featured a weekend chock full of the most punishing grind/hardcore/punk/doom/crust/sludge/noise bands around, and the lineup of any given year of Fiesta Granda would be a who's who of extreme music, with many of the most crucial underground bands of the decade appearing. 2000 was the last year of the festival, but it had been documented a few years prior with the 1997 compilation Fiesta Comes Alive on Slap-A-Ham, which featured forty tracks taken from various live performances that span five years of Fiesta Grande.

After Slap-A-Ham shut down in 2002, most of the label's releases disappeared, including this one, but we just found a lost stash of this amazing comp for really cheap, much to my surprise. This disc is like a holy grail for powerviolence fans, filled to the brim with total aural devestation!

There are ripping tracks from the world's best Infest clone, Lack Of Interest, Excruciating Terror, Bludgeon, a scathing performance of "Backstabber" from Dystopia, No Comment, mighty Floridian sludgelords Cavity, Discordance Axis laying waste with the 57 second "Panoptic", legendary grinders Phobia, a short blast of synth-loaded sci-fi grind from The Locust, Gob's punishing bass-heavy sludge, a pure wall of blastnoise from Enemy Soil, hilarious mutant hardcore from Nuclear Armed Hogs, FOUR massive tracks from Man Is The Bastard (whose nearly six minutes of material here alone makes this worth picking up), blazing grindcore and thrash from Capitalist Casualties, Stapled Shut, Cop Out, Spazz, No Less, Hellnation, Utter Bastard, His Hero Is Gone, Evolved To Obliteration, Crossed Out, Benumb, and hardcore legends M.D.C. doing "Nazi's Shouldn't Drive".

Some of my favorite moments on here are Cali doomtitans Noothgrush and their devestating "Gage", the murky, droning, angular Satanic sludge of Cattlepress's "My Only Wish Is To Destroy", the totally fucked-up Man Is The Bastard-meets-Hellhammer PV-slop of Agents Of Satan, and freaked-out psychedelic gangsta-powerviolence from Plutocracy. The whole compilation RULES though, it's pretty cruycial if your a fanatic for 90's West Coast hardcore and grind as ALL of the greats are featured here, with anywhere from one to four tracks per band, and appearances from cult East Coast bands like Enemy Soil and Discordance Axis. The sound quality ranges from tinny and rough on the oldest recordings, to totally in-your-face and punishing for the most recent stuff, and the tracks are bookened with loads of stage banter and crowd involvement. If you were there, this is a forty-nine minute timewarp to the greatest extreme hardcore party that ever existed during the 1990's, and if you weren't able to make it (like me), this gives you a thorough taste of just how nuts those shows were.