Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mocking Boring Thrash

In addition to writing (independently now - woo!) concert reviews, I've picked up some work writing album descriptions. They're a bit like reviews, except I can't write anything negative (or anything too negative) because they're written for a retailer, which is in the business of selling CDs, not informing the public about their musical value. It's an interesting creative challenge, because it can mean finding the good in things that are, well, mediocre. Fortunately, thanks to MySpace, I can filter out the real trash before it comes to me, so to this point, if I'm writing to recommend something it's because I actually like it - which is why I bother linking to the reviews from my clips page.

Of course, there are always the ones I was happy to let get away, or the pieces I wrote that omitted my sharper criticisms for the sake of the client's request - but there's no rule that says I can't talk about those albums here. In other words: new feature, where I bash crappy metal albums, or cover the other side of my reviews. Let's begin.

Flash back to a couple of weeks ago. I'm perusing the weekly list my editor sends me with the week's additions. All of these albums either are or were on the Billboard 200 in the past year, and because I'm a Clear Channel-hating luddite who has way too much nostalgia for rock radio from the mid-1990s, I've generally never heard of three-quarters of the artists on the list because they're (presumably) on the airways and I'm not listening. In any case, unless I get lucky and something like ObZen or Ghosts I-IV gets on the list, I'm going to need to do some research through Google, Wikipedia, and MySpace.

This particular week's pull is pretty grim. There's Down's third album, which I really want to like because I like both Pantera-era Phil Anselmo (despite his being a huge douchebag) and Corrosion of Conformity such as they were when "Albatross" was a single, but I can't because it's legitimately terrible. There's Atreyu's latest release, but I liked them better when they were called Van Halen. And then there's a group called Black Tide.

Wikipedia tells me that Black Tide has an average age of very young (well under 20) and that they have a throwback late 80s thrash sound. Equally much seems to be made of their youth and their sound, which should set off alarm bells: I liked Silverchair when I was 14, but not too long afterwards I released how terrible that first album was and how part of the hype was that it was a rock album recorded by sixteen-year-olds. Anyway, I'm intrigued, so I find their MySpace page and take a listen. Very quickly, I am appalled. Even worse, I grow bored.

There's no doubt that Black Tide is a very talented group of musicians, with a pair of shredders who can play much better than I ever could. They even have a cool name for their lead single (if that's how you can describe a MySpace track): "Warriors of Time." Here's the problem though: take every NWOBHM and thrash cliche you can think of - twin guitar harmonies, fast paced palm mute riffs with thin, crunchy distortion, backing vocals that can easily be chanted by a large crowd - slap a nice production veneer on it, and you've got Black Tide. Their music is a faithful, boring reproduction of metal from twenty years ago, without any new touches or twists (besides the better recording quality) that would help them stand out from a crowd. I hate boring music. I will not review boring music. I will make fun of it instead. So, Black Tide: if you can cook up something new and interesting for your next album - even in the thrash vein - I will gladly give it a listen. Until then, you're getting far more attention than you deserve.


Mathdude said...

Good stuff as usual. Hey I've got a subscription to Classic Rock Mag and it comes with a CD or DVD each month. This month's CD is GNR-esque bands. You ever hear of Endeverafter? This song Baby Baby Baby blew my mind in the way hearing Running With the Devil and Big Bad Moon did when I first heard them.

Eric said...

Just checked out their MySpace: VERY LA, but definitely in a fun way. Makes me think of LA Guns or - as you so aptly put it - GNR.

Mathdude said...

One of my Tracks of the Week is Baby Baby Baby if you're interested in downloading.