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HARVEY MILK

Experimental/Post Metal • United States


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Harvey Milk biography
Harvey Milk is an American Experimental Metal band hailing from Athens, Georgia. Harvey Milk's style is heavily based in Sludge and Stoner Metal, with thick, slow, and heavy riffs encompassing an experimental compositional style that often delves into raw noise. The band was formed in 1992, disbanding in 1998 before reforming in 2006. Although more well known now, Harvey Milk remains an icon of the underground experimental metal scene in the United States, drawing comparisons to bands like The Melvins.

In 1994, the band released their debut album My Love Is Higher Than Your Assessment Of What My Love Could Be followed by 1995's Courtesy And Good Will Toward Men and 1997's The Pleaser. After a long break, the band reformed and released their fourth full length album entitled Special Wishes in 2006. Their fifth album, Life... The Best Game In Town was later released in 2008, and marked a shift to Aaron Turner's (of Isis fame) Hydrahead Record label. 2009 saw the release of S/T - The Bob Weston Sessions, a limited run Album of previously unreleased material. Their latest album, A Small Turn Of Human Kindness was released in early 2010. Along with these full length albums, Harvey Milk has produced several singles and other compilational releases.

The band is named after Harvey Milk, San Fransisco and California's first openly gay city supervisor, who was assassinated in 1978.

Harvey Milk is:

Creston Spiers
Stephen Tanner
Paul Trudeau
Kyle Spence

Harvey Milk official website

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Life...the Best Game in TownLife...the Best Game in Town
Hydra Head Records 2008
Audio CD$8.50
$2.03 (used)
Courtesy & Goodwill Toward MenCourtesy & Goodwill Toward Men
Relapse 2006
Audio CD$15.00
$12.00 (used)
Special WishesSpecial Wishes
Troubleman Unlimited 2006
Audio CD$23.99 (used)
Small Turn of Human KindnessSmall Turn of Human Kindness
Hydra Head Records 2011
Vinyl$19.03
$10.66 (used)
Kelly SessionsKelly Sessions
Escape Artist 2004
Audio CD$9.99
$8.30 (used)
My Love Is Higher Than Your Assesment of What MyMy Love Is Higher Than Your Assesment of What My
Relapse 2007
Audio CD$10.46
$1.99 (used)
PleaserPleaser
Relapse 2007
Audio CD$14.56
$4.96 (used)
Harvey MilkHarvey Milk
Hydra Head Records 2010
Audio CD$7.37
$1.60 (used)
SinglesSingles
Import
Relapse Records UK 2003
Audio CD$10.54
$4.99 (used)
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HARVEY MILK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HARVEY MILK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 3 ratings
My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be
1994
3.91 | 3 ratings
Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men
1996
3.05 | 2 ratings
The Pleaser
1997
2.95 | 3 ratings
Special Wishes
2006
4.00 | 1 ratings
Life... The Best Game In Town
2008
3.00 | 1 ratings
Harvey Milk
2010
3.46 | 3 ratings
A Small Turn of Human Kindness
2010

HARVEY MILK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HARVEY MILK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HARVEY MILK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Singles
2003
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Kelly Sessions
2004

HARVEY MILK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

HARVEY MILK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Small Turn of Human Kindness by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.46 | 3 ratings

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A Small Turn of Human Kindness
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars I recently heard an interview with Creston (guitar, voice) and Kyle (drums) from Harvey Milk, conducted by Jeff Olson (former member of the metal band Trouble), and I was surprised to hear that the band thought that their well-received "Life... the Best Game in Town" was their worst album. While I think it is safe to say that that album is their most accessible and conventional, it certainly doesn't reek of "sellout" in the least. It's a hard core Harvey Milk album with a few bones thrown to the more garden variety metal-heads, but the songs are consistently strong to my ears, and it really rocks hard and true. But given the band's thoughts on it, I guess their subsequent release of this album, "A Small Turn of Human Kindness", makes a little more sense.

Borrowing the title of the album from the first song on their first album, right away you can tell that Harvey Milk has decided to make a record like the ones they started with in the 1990s -- art-damaged, head-wrenching sludge. Like their early masterwork "Courtesy and Good Will Towards Men", this album plays like one long piece, divided into seven tracks but organically flowing together with the inevitability of a river of lava.

Before I get to the songs themselves, first a general word about what I mean by "art damaged sludge". Low frequencies, played slowly and loudly. Delivered in a way meant to feel like a blow to the head. It's more about heaviness and sonic impact than about "rock" per se. But here is where Harvey Milk differs from other bands that might bear that label: their instruments sound so natural and unbothered by technology (i.e. fancy effects or production) that you can almost FEEL the guitar pick hitting the string, or the drum stick hitting the drum heads. There's a very tangible, physical, REAL sound going on, and for me that adds immensely to its personal appeal. It's so natural sounding that I even have a hard time thinking of it as "metal", though that's largely due to prejudices from growing up in the 1980s that haven't quite faded away.

It begins with an untitled instrumental, a slowly plodding fanfare on electric guitar, an angular guitar riff played slowly and deliberately, punctuated by crashes on the bass and drums. This turns out to be an introduction to the first vocal track, "I Just Want to Go Home", where raging howls of pain are answered by a feedback-based guitar solo that demonstrates Creston Spiers's incredible control of his tone (playing that slow is harder than it sounds!). This leads directly into the linking piece "I Am Sick of All This Too", essentially a tension-building rhythmic exercise with the trio playing in unison. "I Know This is No Place for You" follows, for the first time giving us something that resembles a hard rock song (albeit barely), with a steady (though still slow) beat and an identifiable chord progression. The second half of the album follows suit, offering little in the way of recognizable hooks, but much in the way of difficult, emotional music. While the template of their early albums is clearly the inspiration here, their added tightness and sense of melody from their later albums keeps things fresh and dynamic.

Though it's hard to notice on first listen, since the music is characterized by spare simplicity and empty spaces, the band has clearly taken some time with the arrangements, adding piano (a key element of the aforementioned "Courtesy..." album), and usually at least one overdubbed guitar for texture and harmony. The overall "story" of the album, if there is one, concerns the agony of self-doubt, fear of the future, and helplessness one may face in dire circumstances - a personal crisis Creston went through, perhaps? Not my business really, but the lyrics read like a letter to his wife - a letter of complaints, fears, concerns, and serious questions about how to move forward. In a perverse way, though, there is a ray of humor through all this. Maybe it's the song titles, which thematically hold the album together with their similarity to each other and their over-the-top narcissism.

As of this writing, this is the last Harvey Milk album to appear. The band generally doesn't commit to much or show their hand very often -- they seem to record when and only when they feel like it, resulting in small bursts of activity bookended with long periods of silence. But this album has the ring of a new beginning, a fresh start based on the band's core values of art-damaged sludge that really sounds like nothing but Harvey Milk. This is a fine album that bodes extremely well for the band's future.

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 A Small Turn of Human Kindness by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.46 | 3 ratings

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A Small Turn of Human Kindness
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

3 stars The sound of doom in slow-motion

I hit my head here the other day. I was fixing to go to bed, and just as I had laid down and put my mind at ease, the family cat Speedy starts yelping outside the house. She is a small cat, and with the amount of big karate felines we've got lurking around in our neighbourhood, we don't have the balls to let her spend the night outside. Mostly because she's got the balls - never shying away from a good fight. Anyways, I open the door to our driveway, and SCREEEEEEECH she goes hammering her claws into my bare feet, with yours truly getting the fright of my life - loosing my balance and tumbling down the brick-lain entrance head first.......... Still got a bump in the back of my head, and I keep tasting metal for some reason.

This album, whilst not the best from the band, has continued to evolve during my recent anti ballet stint. For example: I needed to work out this afternoon - feel my body work and sweat profusely, just to get that feel of 'sick' and headache off my shoulders and out of my wobbly vessel, and off I went on my stationary fitness bicycle going nowhere fast.

The overwhelming raw power of this release then proceeded to take its effect on me. The slow crunching guitar riffing that feels like metallic waves of sound crashing over you - to the deep bellowing vocals, this album is anything but meek and whimsical. Instead it comes off like a huge gulp of sweat, blood and hairy iron stashed together in some towering musical wall that encloses you in a small paranoia inducing cell.

10 minutes before the automatic on-board computer tells me that it's ok to stop, I feel a sudden rush of fatigue and nausea - my heart races and cold sweat springs out of my forehead like small icy darts. I can't do this anymore, I tell myself and literally throw my increasingly large corpus off the bike - lying down on the cold dirty floor. I stay there for the remaining time of this album, and all of it's natural heaviness - the incessant riffing and big booming drums sweep right through me like a wild uncontrollable storm. I am helpless and yet oddly comfortable with this scenario, and my head feels better for some reason, I just need to keep still and finish the album, keep down big boy.

Now, from approaching this album like I would any other metal release these days, that is with some trepidation and lack-lust, it has now transformed into something of a mental voyage - I'll even venture as far as to say spiritual. The stark black themes here, revolving around the endless lack of humanity in the humans we meet on a daily basis, have already been covered brilliantly in the band's gritty teutonic past, and yet somehow this album still feels strong and cohesive without ever coming off as a carbon copy of themselves.

Their sound is one of doom gloom and slow-motion funeral corteges - like a huge metallic raven flapping its wings in ultra slow bursts. If you can imagine a solo-less Slayer being run at the wrong speed - ever so apathetic and crawling, then you're pretty close to the teutonic sludgy doom of Harvey Milk.

One thing I feel can get a wee bit bizarre is the fact that Harvey Milk originally was a hugely inspirational politician in San Francisco. The first openly gay person to be elected into the mayor's castle no less. And whilst I am aware of the odd fist-fighting, jawbreaking, tobacco chewing big lump of manly gay person, more than often you'll associate these men with jazz-hands, the limp wrists and ABBA - and those trades are just about as far away from this band as you can possible get. I actually got one of my old friends to listen to Harvey Milk, and seeing as he has a natural affinity for the same sex, I thought it interesting to hear what his thoughts were.

As it turns out these thoughts of his were actually very close to mine, and while we both were able to see the fun factor of this conundrum, he told me that it was nice to hear somebody out there spreading some light on this wonderfully inspirational figure without ever coming off as something taken out of a Broadway show. I tend to agree with him. Real human power and strength is something you can't lock up in stereotypes. 3.5 stars.

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 The Kelly Sessions by HARVEY MILK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2004
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Kelly Sessions
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars After releasing the different-as-night-n-day back to back albums "Courtesy and Goodwill Towards Men" and "The Pleaser" in the late 1990s, Harvey Milk disappeared for a while, presumably to go back to their day jobs and families. Their cult fan base was kind of left hanging; the band had not announced a breakup, but they didn't seem to be working on anything either. Until their return to action in 2006, things were eerily quiet in Milk Land, with the exception of two archival releases, one of which was The Kelly Sessions.

I'm not sure who Kelly is, but consider this release as the equivalent of a "Peel Sessions" album: alternate versions of studio tracks, some previously released in other versions, some songs otherwise unreleased, probably recorded around the same time as "Courtesy and Good Will Towards Men". In fact, this album makes a pretty good overview of the early Harvey Milk days, both in their very early Melvins/Jesus Lizard/Helmet mode and in their more mature, avant death-crawl mode. The recordings are all crystal clear and energetically performed, basically live but with some key overdubs filling out the sound.

The first track is a hidden track, 10 harrowing minutes of the "Courtesy and Good Will Towards Men" standout "My Broken Heart Will Never Mend", which can only be heard if you rewind the CD 10 minutes before track 1 starts. It's a perfect example of the "avant death-crawl" I referred to earlier. Track 1 proper gives us the early song "Dick Slater" (a song otherwise unreleased on any Harvey Milk album), which would have fit perfectly on Helmet's "Strap it On" album - midtempo stop-start tricky time signature riffing with gruffly shouted vocals. "Brown Water" is another alternate version of a "Courtesy...." song, just as long, slow, and painful as the hidden track was, but giving us a taste of the remarkable finesse of this band as well. Long sections of the song are incredibly quiet, with Creston Spiers' guitar and barely-sung vocals building tons of tension, which is then released in thick rivers of lava when the loud part comes in. "Plastic Eggs", also from "Courtesy....", makes an appearance here as well, though the opening guitars are strangely murky and not as effective as on other versions.

"Dating Pressures" is another very early track that was previously unreleased, although the 2010 release of the self-titled "Harvey Milk" album ended up containing this song too. It sounds a lot like the Jesus Lizard to me - a slow (but not too slow) steady drum beat with a descending note riff shared by the guitar and bass, with spoken/growled Spiers vocals. A good headbanger. "Blackbeard" and "Come and Spit" are two more songs you will only find here - slow, dissonant, and full of sludge.

The early arena-rock anthem "Anthem" closes the album with a rockist attitude. For some reason, this song never really did it for me. But wait -- then there's a short snippet of Creston's solo acoustic rendition of Leonard Cohen's "One of Us Cannot Be Wrong" (also on "Courtesy..."), one of Milk's most touching and vulnerable moments.

This album is a great addition to any fan's collection, and a fine snapshot of the band at their early peak. I'd choose this over the similar "Singles" archival release for its superior sound and song selection, but I'd probably recommend an official studio album or two before buying this. At the time of this writing, I believe it's out of print anyway. Long live Harvey Milk!

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 Life... The Best Game In Town by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Life... The Best Game In Town
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars One of Harvey Milk's finest releases, this album has a bright, confident sheen that manages to be very accessible (to metal fans, anyway) while also being subversively experimental and daring. While their prior album (Special Wishes) was a mixed bag of moments of genius together with moments of boredom, this album is solid all the way through, and the high points are as good as anything they've ever released. This is anthemic sludge/stoner rock that not only dares to be different, it also dares to be fun and rockin'.

In addition to the usual three suspects (Creston Spiers on guitar and vocal, Stephen Tanner on bass and vocal, and Kyle Spence on drums), the band has added doom/drone legend Joe Preston (guitar, vocal) to the group, well known in underground circles as a former member of Earth, The Melvins, Thrones (his solo project), and Sunn 0))). Though it's hard to tell where his contributions are exactly, his presence no doubt inspired the band to new heights. Preston only stayed around for this one album, but who knows, he may be back. He's always popping up somewhere in the underground metal world.

Right off the bat, this album knocks you off your feet with the 8-minute "Death Goes to the Winner", one of the most incredible songs they've ever done. It begins with a tranquil, lovely melody sung by Creston (not bad for a guy more known for his gutteral roar), and accompanied by two clean guitars. Then a thundering slab of molten lava steams in for the chorus, followed by another quiet verse, and then the chorus again. Then - it's Takeoff Time! In the second half of the song, the rhythm section pounds out a slow choppy rhythm as Creston goes completely bananas on his guitar, eking out sounds that would make the Butthole Surfers nervous. In between this, he screams out select lines of the Velvets' "Waiting for the Man", followed by a winking reference to "A Day in the Life" before stopping suddenly and hitting a long piano chord to fade out (just like on the Sgt Pepper album, ha ha). A thoroughly damaged and cathartic track that will stay with you forever.

After this, the rest of the album maintains a high level of quality, from accessible midtempo headbangers like "Decades" and "Motown" (the latter actually has hit potential), to fast thrashy numbers that are difficult to play ("A Maelstrom of Bad Decisions", "Barnburner", the Fear cover "We Destroy the Family"), to dramatic, emotional epics with plenty of weirdness ("Roses", "Goodbye Blues"). So it's a nice variety of sounds, and the songs feel more powerful and developed than they did on the prior album.

There's another musical joke hidden at the end of the album. After the elaborate, multi-part epic "Goodbye Blues", there is a moment of silence, followed by a brief cover of the Loony Tunes theme, punctuated with a loud gong that is a clear reference to the Moody Blues "Days of Future Passed" album's finale. Those guys...

I'd recommend this album as a good entry point for metal fans who aren't quite ready for the avant garde yet. This album will give you your metalhead thrills, while convincing you that experimental noise can be fun too.

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 Special Wishes by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.95 | 3 ratings

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Special Wishes
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

3 stars After a seven year silence, Harvey Milk returned out of nowhere in 2006 with Special Wishes, their fourth album. Considering that their last two albums before the hiatus were about as dissimilar as they could possibly be (the avant-chamber-noise of Courtesy and Good Will Towards Men and the Southern fried hard rock orthodoxy of The Pleaser), it must have been difficult to imagine what the Milk would look like this time.

This time around, Harvey Milk leans a little closer to the accessible side of their sound, though they do keep things heavy and serious, as opposed to the more rockin' fun stuff on The Pleaser. Wanting to further develop their unique identity as sketched out on their first two albums, but wanting to avoid dwelling too deep in the avant garde, they split the difference, offering some more "difficult" tracks and some more "accessible" tracks.

In the case of this album, the band makes a stronger impact with the "difficult" songs -- the album begins with two of them: the career highlight "I've Got a Love" is stark, primal, and features one of Creston Spiers' best vocal performances, angry and desperate, expertly controlled. "War" follows with a marital beat, an interesting structure, and a similarly grim mood.

After that, things are kind of hit and miss. "Crush Them All" goes on a bit too long without much variation; it reminds me of an average early Soundgarden song. "Once in a While" is a bit rough on the melodic vocals, weakening the song. "Instrumental" puts the balance right, revisiting their fast-riffing-in-odd-meters kind of numbers they made their mark with in the early days. "The End" is pretty good but the chorus feels a bit stale. "Old Glory" is the most successful of the "accessible" rockers, a fierce anthem that both criticizes and pays tribute to The South - very powerful, very moving, a definite highlight. Things close out with the 8 minute "Mother's Day" a powerful but ultimately confusing ballad featuring violin. Promising, but not quite the big finish I hoped for.

In all, the album shows the band progressing, beginning a new phase of their career, but it ultimately falls short on about half the songs. Still, gripes aside, this is a good album from a great band, and has at least two undeniable classics in "I've Got a Love" and "Old Glory".

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 Harvey Milk by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars Released in 2010, this is actually Harvey Milk's long-lost unreleased debut album, recorded in the early 1990s with Bob Weston (of NC-based Merge Records; he was also a member of Shellac with indie legend Steve Albini). The cassette pictured on the front is the actual final master tape of the planned album that for some reason never happened. Considering all this, it's got great sound, far better than the bootleg-quality one might expect given the circumstances.

Several of these songs (the real long ones) were eventually re-recorded and included on the band's proper debut album, My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be: "Jim's Polish", "Merlin is Magic", "My Father's Life's Work", and "FSTP". The versions are actually not that different from the "official" versions, and are probably better consumed in the context of that album, though fans will definitely want to have both. The song "Plastic Eggs" was later re-recorded for their second album, "Courtesy and Good Will Towards Men" in a slightly better version, and "Anthem" eventually was re-recorded for their boogie-riffic third album "The Pleaser".

The remaining songs are not completely new to Harvey Milk fans, as "Blueberry Dookie", "Smile" and "Probolkoc" all appeared on a messy odds-and-ends collection cheekily entitled "Singles" during the band's long hiatus at the beginning of the century. And "Dating Pressures" was also previously seen on the second archival release during the hiatus, The Kelly Sessions. As with all the other tracks, the versions are slightly different (and with more clear sound, in the case of the "Singles" tracks").

Now that we have that out of the way, what does it sound like? Early Harvey Milk is not quite as slow and torturous as they would soon get, and still owed a heavy debt to fellow sludge bands like the Melvins and the Jesus Lizard. Even at this early stage, though, Creston Spiers (guitar), Stephen Tanner (bass), and Pauly Trudeau (drums) have a unique sound, both individually and together, and attack these difficult songs with power and confidence. Spiers' vocals may be a sore spot with some, as he takes the howling shriek of the Jesus Lizard's David Yow and turns it into something not just maniacal, but pained as well.

Though this is primarily a release for those who are already fans, it's a very worthwhile album that gives a new look at Harvey Milk's early days.

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 The Pleaser by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.05 | 2 ratings

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The Pleaser
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

3 stars This consistently intriguing Athens avant-sludge band made its early name on punishingly slow, earth-shaking low-end guitar noise. The power trio lineup of guitar/bass/drums approaches their music as a chamber quartet might, with no instrument really acting as "backup" to any of the others -- each part seems to be deliberately thought out to deliver the punishing noise in the most artful manner possible. This approach reached its zenith on their masterpiece, "Courtesy and Good Will Towards Men". And then, having released one of the most difficult albums in history, they decided it would be fun to put out a southern rock boogie album, and then didn't release anything else for almost 7 years.

On the one hand, there's something subversive about hearing a band this creative and talented taking on jock rock anthems like "Rock and Roll Party Tonite" or "US Force". One thing that becomes abundantly clear is that guitarist Creston Spiers could go head to head with just about any hotshot guitarist in the business and "out-rock" them if he wanted to. This is Lynyrd Skynyrd on angel dust with an angry bear at the mic.

But there's more to the story. If this was just a jock rock album, it wouldn't be worth me writing about it right now. There are other songs that rank among their best -- the start/stop impossible time signature riff monster "Shame", the oh-so-wonderful slow blues "Lay My Head Down" (similar in approach to Zep's "Since I've Been Loving You". Try following the chords!), the still-a-bit-weird-like-the-earlier-stuff "Red as the Day is Long", and the undeniably kick-ass opener "Down".

This is NOT progressive rock in any way, but rather an interesting detour for one of the most interesting and undefinable metal bands you'll ever hear.

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 Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.91 | 3 ratings

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Courtesy and Good Will Toward Men
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars [November 2012: Changed rating from a '5' to a '4'. As impressive as it is, it's not *quite* cohesive and consistent enough to earn a 5. I'll leave the review as is for now, see below]

One of the most uncompromisingly bleak albums I've ever heard. Not even "horrid" and "terrifying" as is the case with Scott Walker's latest album. But in this case, it sounds like a musical version of a man dying on his deathbed, in severe pain but unable to do anything about it. Whoda thunk that a band from sunny Athens GA could produce something like this. Recorded by Dave Barbe, formerly of power pop band Sugar (with Bob Mould). It just doesn't make sense. To further confuse things, the very next album they made ("The Pleaser", 1999) was riff-happy classic rock and roll, a la ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy, or Lynyrd Skynyrd. And it was also good.

It's hard to tell where this band is really coming from on this release. It's a long double-length album with most tracks clocking in over 7 minutes. The exact words are mostly inaudible, but the message comes through loud and clear. Creston Spiers (a rather normal looking tall and lanky man who is a teacher for his day job) sings like a grizzly bear with its leg caught in a trap, and plays guitar like the guitar has a cold, but you can tell those choked sounds are well rehearsed and developed, as he repeats them flawlessly throughout the recording. The rhythm section rarely falls into any sort of pattern, just a meandering sludge pit of misery and despair. I don't know what it is, but it sure as heck feels like art, and damn good art at that. You'll usually find it listed under "Metal", but I think that tag is only accurate to the extent that the guitars are heavy and slow, and the vocals howl and growl. Switch a couple of instruments, and you might as well call it RIO, though. What is going on here?

Deathly quiet sections alternate with tortured howls and guitar/bass/drum assault, never reaching a tempo much beyond a painful crawl. Towards the end, everything else drops out, and Creston sings in his pained voice with just an acoustic guitar, a deathbed rendition of a Leonard Cohen song "One of Us Cannot Be Wrong". The placement and song choice certainly have some gravity to them -- maybe to give a touch of old school class to this otherwise completely-out-of-nowhere album.

Join Harvey Milk through an unpleasant trip through Pain. One of the more intriguing bands I've discovered in years, and this is their Pain Opus, sometimes called their Masterpiece. After a several year hiatus following the Pleaser album, they came back in the mid 00's with a more approachable brand of sludge (not unlike the Melvins), and continue to be on fire creatively, albeit sporadically.

This is one of those "Life" albums that you can just tell is Important (with a capital "I"), even before you've fully understood it, and which sounds like nothing else you've ever heard. Beautiful ugliness, confounding yet really hits you in the deepest pit of your heart. As strange as it feels putting this album in the same class as "Close to the Edge", I think "5" ratings were made for this kind of experience. For me, anyway, this album is a near-perfect specimen of Sludge Art; of Rage, Despair, and Surrender. Noise. It may not be Prog as you understand it, but it's really something else.

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 My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be by HARVEY MILK album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.95 | 3 ratings

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My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be
Harvey Milk Experimental/Post Metal

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars This is a strange one. Even people who know what Harvey Milk are about will probably say "huh"? upon first hearing this album. It walks a tightrope of sorts between Melvins-like sludge metal and, well, chamber-prog. Lots of open spaces, purposeful dissonance and distant roars and howls. the opening track is almost inaudible for the first half or so, and even then it's really mostly drums you hear. In fact, the drums almost function as a lead instrument in conjunction with the bass and guitar. All three are playing gnarled, unusual patterns in a VERY slow tempo, locking together in a way that's not always apparent at first.

The relatively short tracks "Merlin is Magic" and "Women Dig It" are the closest they come to showing their "rockist" tendencies, which would become more pronounced in later years (and were more pronounced in earlier pre-debut album years, though not here), if only because they display the most accessible grooves here, though they're still pretty abstract to the untrained ear. By contrast, "F.S.T.P." and "My Father's Life's Work", both hovering around the 10 minute mark, are slow, tortuous crawls through mortal anguish; the remarkable thing is that they still manage to impart a sense of humor in there, hard though it may be to explain without further research. Even more impenetrable is the odd sludge/classical fusion of "The Anvil Will Fall", with an orchestral middle section (no guitars or drums) playing and excerpt of Gustav Holst's Jupiter (from "The Planets"). Very strange sounding, and grimly poignant. The finale, "All the Live Long Day", is possibly the most primal thing here, with a sledgehammer striking an anvil repeatedly, forming part of the rhythm track, in between tortured howls.

Overall, I have to applaud this sort of album. Any album that keeps me guessing not just what will come next, but what the band's overall strategy is, certainly has my interest and attention. And knowing what I now know about the band and their catalog as a whole, it's all coming together and making sense, kind of.

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Thanks to Any Colour You Like for the artist addition.

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