Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Most Metal Country

My buddy Seth just sent me a link to Finland's Top 40 chart, where reside a bunch of Finnish titles, some pop selections imported from the States and...most of Metallica's catalog? Confused, I asked him when the Finnish equivalent of Billboard released this chart. "It's current," he said. "I guess they don't use release dates - if Metallica is selling, put 'em up there!" We examined further and picked out at least four metal acts in the top 40, including six of the top ten. It is therefore my great pleasure, without any further ado (or additional research into say, the charts of Sweden and Norway) to name Finland the most metal country on Earth. They should really use this in promotional materials: "Come to Finland, see the lovely countryside and hear the power metal gracing the airwaves, because we're the Most Metal Country on Earth. Take that, Scandinavia."

I DO Inspire the Best in People

Damn, does this warm the cockles:

The publication: Scanner: A Nerve Blog
The topic: Crush of the Week: Wendy O. Williams
The relevant line: "
We're especially into the song "Jailbait." But not the Motörhead version. The Wendy O. Willliams and the Plasmatics version."

What the post doesn't mention is that the writer is my good pal Nicole Pasulka, who used to work with me until she fled for the world freelance (I know, who does that). Nicole first heard the cover after I mentioned that I had seen a video (now lost from YouTube) of Wendy O. and Motorhead playing the song together back in the early 1980s. Now she's using that first experience to give Wendy O. some big props. Makes me feel like I've made a difference today...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wooo! Drugs!

I was listening Skid Row's Slave to the Grind to start off this fine workday and had one of those epiphany moments I do so enjoy because they're a quick way to feel clever: "Aha!" I said. "'Monkey Business' is almost definitely about a drug habit!" Then I checked the lyrics and saw it was really more the bridge that's about heroin, fitting into a song addressing the darker side of society from the perspective of the darker side of society, but it made me think of all of those great songs from the metal catalog about drugs.

My three favorite examples are all by Black Sabbath: "Hand of Doom," "Snowblind" and "Sweet Leaf," although I think I noticed "Hand of Doom" first. Not long afterwards, my sister was doing a project for school where she had to report on drugs in popular culture and - for some reason - she came to me. I wasn't a druggie, so I like to think it was my superior knowledge as the elder sibling that led her to seek me out. In any case, I saved the day with an instant answer: "Check out Black Sabbath," I said. "'Hand of Doom' is all about heroin. Makes a perfect example for your report." And, because I knew she enjoyed creeping out her classmates as much as I did, I added, "Plus, it's Black Sabbath, so it's very metal in a way the kids in your class won't get." I think she ended up getting an A.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Trials of Uncool

While putting together the source material (aka, "watching the show") for my latest review (review here, photos here), I had my second-ever encounter with what I like to call the "my publication's not cool enough" syndrome. To be honest, the syndrome is an underlying current in all of my comped tickets because I tend to get attached to the guest lists of opening bands - in the case of this show, I enjoyed myself courtesy of Kataklysm - but it really expresses itself when it comes to photographing headliners. As it turns out, not every band is as psyched to have someone from take pictures of them as I would hope, so twice in the past seven months - first with Megadeth and now with Dimmu Borgir, I had the pleasure of being barred from the photographer's well by the main act. As I result, every time I pack up my camera, I think, "will tonight be another night where I won't get to shoot the whole show because we're not cool enough? Will I chose to take pictures from the audience like every other fan, or just cut my losses?" Tough dilemmas, my friends, tough dilemmas indeed.

"Not being cool enough" is an odd feeling because after six shows, I'm starting to recognize certain photographers by sight; guys who clearly work for major metal publications because of their large cameras and consistent photo access. Even though I've never talked to any of these guys, the cool guys who can take pictures of any on they want, I feel a little intimidated: do they notice? Will they somehow take advantage of my lesser status by blocking me out of a key shot in a (sometimes over-) crowded well? Does it really matter, because they're professionals and I'm just an amateur exploring a hobby? The rational consciousness shrugs off, the irrational subconscious thinks about a little too much to be healthy.

The other half of the story is that the "not cool enough" syndrome is a little irrational. is the biggest website you've started to hear of, with millions of visitors each month; so why doesn't it get the respect of major metal magazine when it comes to photo passes? The problem is perception, I'm sure; those millions of visitors tend not to be in the right demographic, so doesn't have the same presence in the metal landscape as a Kerrang! or Metal Maniacs despite having many, many more readers as a whole. Fixing that perception will take a lot of work and isn't really something I can control, but that doesn't stop me from dreaming - and fearing - every time I pick up a camera.