Friday, February 27, 2009

KISS - True Analog Warriors

Can this possibly end well?
KISS, despite repeatedly showing disinterest in doing anything but re-recording their old material to re-claim the publishing licensing fees, have confirmed they are making a new album to be released this fall. Paul Stanley will be producing and they are supposed to be writing the whole thing themselves without co-writers. Come on dudes, can Desmond Child really be asking for that money in this economy? I do appreciate the band most concerned with appearing larger than life, perhaps even more than Manowar, is going at it reasonably DIY. And on tape to boot.

But as much as I love Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer doesn't have the best song writing track record.

Here is one of the biggest hits from his old band Black N' Blue

Now that is out of the way, I trust Paul Stanley. More than I trust Gene. Paul is the guy who pulled shit out like Magic Touch on his last solo tour. Yeah, Dynasty album tracks! And they sounded amazing. If he can dominate the record, I think we'll be ok.

Here's a little Magic Touch. This is what I want the new KISS record to sound like!

Remembering "Don't Tread"

I woke up yesterday with one of the solos from "Double Coyote," Ted Nugent's blues-rock guitar duel with himself on Damn Yankees' second album, and realized I needed to hear it - and the songs that went with it - once again, so I downloaded it. I should note that I bought Don't Tread on tape from BMG when it came out in 1992 at the highly impressionable age of eleven, so that while other people grew up with the Nuge's solo work, I subsisted on the super group more than a few have insisted "ruined Ted Nugent." However, despite the slur (or maybe because of it?), I loved the album then - my first real hard rock purchase - and have ever since.

That said, I've come to realize what schizophrenic piece of work Don't Tread really is. Its release date probably didn't help - releasing anything to a rock audience in 1992 that didn't sound something like Nirvana seems like the career equivalent of trying to build a sand castle in front of a tsunami - but as Seth and I were discussing mere moments ago, that's peripheral to the music itself. By my count, in addition to the blues rock guitar duel, Don't Tread has two ballads, a country rock cut that morphs into arena rock, a handful of hard rock variations, and "Uprising," which - in what had to be a sign of the future - had my favorite riff of the whole album, a simple, thunderous piece of rock guitar that - when combined with the tribalistic drumming that surrounded it - had more in common with metal idioms of the day than it did with the rest of the album. While I love every note of Don't Tread, I can see why it wasn't such a hot seller: it takes a lot of patience (or the open mind of a kid exploring a completely new world) to get through something so convoluted.

My ultimate Faith No More playlist

In the spirit of Metal Hammer in honor of the Faith No More reunion, I submit to you my essential Faith No More playlist.

1 Introduce Yourself
2 Digging the Grave
3 From Out of Nowhere
4 The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
5 We Care A Lot
6 Naked in Front of My Computer
7 Evidence
8 Midlife Crisis
9 Epic
10 Ugly in the Morning
11 The Real Thing
12 Easy
13 As the Worm Turns

What is yours?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Metal Artwork in an Online World

Interesting article on about the trials and tribulations of bringing metal into the age of the music download. The problem isn't a fear of piracy, mind you - at least not for this article - but losing the connection to the art work that metal musicians, designers and label executives feel is a big part of what makes the music so special.

Unlike many of the musicians quoted in the article, my music experience has been almost entirely art-less: I had (and still have) a large CD collection, but ever since transferring my CDs to those big books in college, I haven't spent a lot of time digging through booklets...and I do so even less now, when all of my collection lives on my hard drive. To be honest, while I can see the point that both the writer and many of his sources are making, a lot of the article comes off as the reflections of an older, less with-it crowd that hasn't quite accepted where the world of music is heading (particularly when they don't realize that "online" and "digital" are not synonymous and that CDs are a form of digital music production): physical publishing is going to become much more of a sideline as we progress. While I agree artwork should still be part of the equation, as the world goes more and more online and the browser becomes a bigger and bigger center of what we do with computers, I suspect that companies will be publishing the extras that come with buying an album online instead - and unlike what's suggested by some, it won't be with an eye towards making printable copies. After all, if you can look at the same size artwork as you would on an LP on your computer screen, or pick out the details on a phone screen the size of a CD cover, and get added features in the digital version that you'd never get in print, why spend the time making a printable booklet?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thoughts on King Diamond playable in Guitar Hero

I was already leaning towards a purchase of Guitar Hero: Metallica when I heard that King Diamond would be a playable in game character, with the classic top hat and bone microphone. You know, a lot like that image to the left.

So then I started thinking about who else would be awesome obscure playable characters in future Guitar Hero games. (For the record I prefer Rock Band but they don't do this stupid guest star shit)

David Yow! Wouldn't that be a fun motion capture session? David Yow with those MoCap ping pong balls on his penis. Besides Guitar Hero needs some Duane Denison riffs. Personally I would want to play Boilermaker or Wheelchair Epidemic.

Joey Demaio! Aren't all of the backing musicians in this game just modeled after him anyway? I would also like to see if loincloths and codpieces are tame enough to allow Guitar Hero to keep its T for Teen rating. Also, I think Joey can really use the money right now. And to add to that Guitar Hero wish list, let me play Hail and Kill or Brothers of Metal!

Gaahl! Not only would the Gorgoroth singer be a delightfully creepy addition to the game, there is a great business opportunity for Activision here. Let people buy the dresses that he and his twink boyfriend have designed. Also a great boss battle can be Gorgoroth vs Gorgoroth.

Who else would you put into a future Guitar Hero game?

Thoughts on Queensryche's Newest Track

Queensryche has put "If I Were King," one of the tracks from American Soldier, up on, for all to check out and...enjoy?

As Blabbermouth points out in their announcement, the lyrics of American Soldier were inspired by interviews that Geoff Tate did with current and former soldiers, and - on this track at least - Queensryche does their best to remind you of their sources: audio clips from the interview that kicked off this particular track get top billing at the start and middle of the song. On top of that are some fairly mundane - by Queensryche standards, at least - lyrics about regret, being unable to change the past, and the sort of top level grief analysis that doesn't lend itself to much introspection. The accompanying music doesn't help either: it moves with really going anywhere particularly interesting, with an entirely forgettable melody that recalls this band at its most tired-sounding. It's not bad...but it's not that good, either. If the remainder of American Soldier sounds this watered down, not only are we in for some big disappointment, but for all of Geoff Tate's pride in his artistic statement, he and the rest of the band have missed a huge opportunity to make something interesting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

And speaking of Van Halen.......

Revel in this live performance of Girl Gone Bad from Montreal in 1984. When they start pulling out the 1984 or Fair Warning deep cuts I'll welcome them back as a touring band. This is amazing. The most underrated track on the 1984 album.

Or speaking of completely fucking awesome Van Halen deep cuts how about Sunday Afternoon in the Park people? They put it right towards the end so as the drugs kicked in you could feel it nice and slow.

Casual Fridays: David Lee Roth Edition

I have been listening pretty much exclusively to David Lee Roth solo material for the last couple of days, with the brief exception of some 1984 cuts. To share the good times, please watch the video for Just Like Paradise below.

Marvel at the majesty of Steve Vai's doubleneck heart shaped guitar. Be puzzled by the use of synth bass when you have Billy Sheehan in your band.

And although I wanted to show you Skyscraper and write about 5,000 words on Steve Vai's genius it is sadly not up on YouTube. So you will have to settle by keeping the party going with "Hot Dog and a Shake." I believe that is innuendo for "my penis and some sperm" but I may just not be smart or clever enough for this game......

Metal and Coffee

I'm sure many of you are coffee drinkers. I came into this particular habit within the last nine months, motivated by the health benefits purportedly given by drinking a certain measure of this acid-laden water every day. In my defense - if a defense need be given for a chemical addiction - I had psychological trauma to work through, brought on by several years servitude as a busboy in a coffee shop (and not the fun, sitcom kind of coffee shop, either). In any case, after I started drinking coffee regularly, I discovered I really like it black (you know, like I like my metal).

I should mention that when it comes to beverages, if there's a possibility that people tend to distinguish the beverage by its flavors - as they do with wine, beer, and whiskey - and I like what they're drinking, I'll latch on to this concept pretty quickly and do my best to find the flavors, too. With coffee, this flavor discovery is pretty easy to do, with even the free coffees my company provides to its caffeine-starved drones having a variety of easily-distinguishable tastes, brought on no doubt in part to help their makers distinguish their products from the competition. I was on my way to get a helping when it occurred to me: flavors of coffee are like flavors of metal.

For example: I started today with a cup of some dark, evil substance whose smoky fury was the taste equivalent of blast beats and tremolo strumming, foreshadowing my selection of 1349's Hellfire as the soundtrack for the first part of my work day. After lunch, as the caloric intake and a sleepy Friday afternoon started to weigh heavily on my eyelids, I felt the desire for a more melodic dose of caffeine - the desire to taste something like a Moonsorrow guitar line - and opted for a mug of French Vanilla. Baroque, bleak, or brutal: no matter what I'm feeling aurally, there's probably a coffee taste to match that feeling orally.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The 200th post spectacular!

On the occasion of the 200th post on this blog, although only 16 of them are mine, please enjoy Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom playing Vivaldi.

In my opinion this is the most touching rendition of the song that has ever been performed by a man who wears nail polish.

Josh Freese, American Hero

Josh Freese is the drummer for Nine Inch Nails, DEVO, and other bands that are not as Baroque, Bleak, Brutal approved as the first two. He has just officially forever upped the ante with his alternate distribution packages. Personally, I want to go to a strip club with Mark Mothersbaugh! Perhaps even more so than mini golfing with him. Someone call Bob Lefsetz stat!

-Digital Download of "Since 1972" (including 3 videos)

-CD/DVD Double Disc Set
-Digital Download

-CD/DVD Double Disc Set
-"Thank You" phone call from Josh for buying Since 1972. You can tell him what you like about the record that you purchased, or what you thought sucked. Ask whatever you want, like "Is Maynard really THAT weird?" or "Which on of Sting's mansions has the comfiest beds?" or "Are Devo really Suburban Robots that monitor reality or just a bunch of Dads from Ohio?" or "Why don't the Vandals play more stuff off the first record?" It's your 5 minutes to yack it up. Talk about whatever you want.

$250 (limited edition of 25)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Signed Drum Head and Drumsticks.
-Go on a lunch date with Josh to PF Changs or The Cheesecake Factory (whatever you're into.)

$500 (limited edition of 15)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download
-Signed Cymbal and sticks
-Meet Josh in Venice, CA and go floating together in a Sensory deprivation tank (filmed and posted on youtube)
-Dinner at Sizzler (get your $8.99 Steak and "all you can eat" Shrimp on)

$1,000 (limited edition of 10)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Signed Cymbal, Drum head and Drumsticks.
-Josh washes your car OR does your laundry....or you can wash his car.
-Have dinner with Josh aboard the "Queen Mary" in Long Beach, CA
-Get drunk and cut each other's hair in the parking lot of the Long Beach courthouse (filmed and posted on youtube of course)

$2,500 (limited edition of 5)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Get a private drum lesson with Josh or for all you non-drummers have him give you a back and foot massage (couples welcome)
-Pick any 1 member of the Vandals or DEVO (subject to availability) to accompany you and Josh to either the Hollywood Wax Museum or the lunch buffet at the "Spearmint Rhino"
-Signed DW snare drum.
-Take 3 items of your choice out of his closet (first come, first serve)
-Change diapers and make bottles with him for an afternoon (after hitting the strip club)

$5,000 (limited edition of 3)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-Josh writes about a song about you and make available on iTunes.
-Co-direct a video with him for the song about you and throw it up on the youtubes.
-Josh gives you and a friend a private tour of Disneyland
-Get drunk together. If you don't drink we can go to my Dads place and hang out under the "Tuba tree"
-Stone from Pearl Jam will send you a letter telling you about his favorite song on "Since 1972"

$10,000 (limited edition of 1)
-Signed CD/ DVD and digital download
-Signed DW snare drum from A Perfect Circle's 2003 tour.
-Josh gives you a private drum lesson OR his and hers foot/back massage (couples welcome, discreet parking)
-Twiggy from Manson's band and Josh take you and a guest to Roscoe's Chicken n' Waffle in Long Beach for dinner.
-Josh takes you and guest to "Club 33" (the super-duper exclusive and private restaurant at Disneyland located above the Pirates Of The Caribbean) and then hit a couple rides afterwards (preferably the Tiki Room, Haunted Mansion and The Tower Of Terror)
-At the end of the day at Disneyland drive away in Josh's Volvo station wagon. It's all yours....take it. Just drop him off on your way home though please.

$20,000 (limited edition of 1)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download.
-A signed drum from the 2008 Nine Inch Nails tour.
-Maynard James Keenan, Mark from Devo and Josh take you miniature golfing and then drop you off on the side of the freeway (all filmed and posted on youtube)
-Josh gives you a tour of Long Beach. See his first apartment, the coffee shop on 2nd St where his buddy paid Dave Grohl $40 to rip up tile just weeks before joining "Nirvana." See the old Vandals rehearsal spot, the liquor store he got busted using a Fake I.D. at when he was 17 (it was Dave from the Vandals old ID). Go check out Snoop Dogg's high- school. For an extra 50 bucks see where Tom and Adrian from No Doubt live.=2 0For another $25 he'll show ya where Eric from NOFX and Brooks from Bad Religion get their hair cut.
-Spend the night aboard the Queen Mary and take the "Ghosts And Legends" tour. (separate spooning.)
-Josh writes 2 songs about you and it's made available on iTunes and appears on his next record (you can sing back up on em, clap, play the drums, triangle, whatever....)
-Drum lesson OR foot and back massage (once again...couples welcome and discreet parking available)
-Pick any 3 items out of Josh's closet.

$75,000 (limited edition of 1)
-Signed CD/DVD and digital download
-Go on tour with Josh for a few days.
-Have Josh write, record and release a 5 song EP about you and your life story.
-Take home any of his drumsets (only one but you can choose which one.)
-Take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from TOOL's Lamborgini OR play quarters and then hop on the Ouija board for a while.
-Josh will join your band for a shows, record, party with groupies, etc....
-If you don't have a band he'll be your personal assistant for a month (4 day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)
-Take a limo down to Tijuana and he'll show you how it's done (what that means exactly we can't legally get into here)
-If you don't live in Southern California (but are a US resident) he'll come to you and be your personal assistant/cabana boy for 2 weeks.
-Take a flying trapeze lesson with Josh and Robin from NIN, go back to Robin's place afterwards and his wife will make you raw lasagna.

Parker Lundgren Joins Queensryche

Queensryche has announced their new guitarist. Parker Lundgren looks like a complete douche nozzle, he's marrying the boss's daughter - which I guess can be awkward or not depending on how the two interact, but definitely no groupies on tour - and (in addition to the Tate family connection) he's Geoff's man by coming from the Geoff Tate solo project touring band. The Blabbermouth link above includes a YouTube clip of Parker playing in Seattle, but unconveniently cuts out before we can really see what he can do.

Here's what piques my curiousity: publically, it looks like Queensryche just put themselves that much further into Geoff Tate's pocket by hiring his future son-in-law. This arrangement may make for a lack of confict, but stability doesn't always make for most exciting music. Maybe we'll see if there are any new sparks in the live set when the band comes around this spring; if not, I'll be happy to fall back on mocking that killer rose neck tattoo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Everything Is Blue In This World

The mind of Trent Reznor is a mysterious thing. After two years of living in the rarefied air of a label-free existence, releasing two stellar albums, completing a tour that was tour de force as much as it was series of concerts, and tapping into the communal world of the Internet far more effectively than any other high-profile musician, Reznor is...hanging things up. Really? That's it? From forefront of the revolution to farewell tour in a few short weeks?

Speculation time: from the number of mentions Reznor has made in his blog about the difficulties he ran into executing the Lights in the Sky tour (including one in the farewell post) - and this from a guy who clearly has no problems communicating only what he wants the public to know - I suspect burnout. It's tough fighting against the inertia of an industry and it has to be even tougher when half of your band decides to part ways. It just seems a shame to go on hiatus (again) when the momentum has really started rolling again.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Necro Sexual ?

As unmetal as a song like "Walking in Memphis"  is, I believe I may have stumbled across a verse which seems to infer that the ghost of Elvis Presley is in fact, participating in a vile act . 

March Cohen, piano balladeer of the Bruce Hornsby 80/90'2 AOR ilk had a huge hit with this song. Fucking Cher covered it. Doesnt strike anyone on Earth as anything remotely metal. And this..

"Saw the ghost of Elvis, on Union  Avenue
Followed him up to the gates of Graceland
Then I watched him walk right through
Now security they did not see him
They just hovered 'round his tomb
But there's a pretty little thing
Waiting for the King
Down in the Jungle Room".

It would seem that....
1. The narrator has the ability to percieve the supernatural, rather naturally (metal!)
2. The narrator has his eye on both the movment of the guards, who are either unaware or choose to turn a blind eye ("did not see him"), to the going's on  at  Graceland after hours, and the literal going's on in the jungle room. which would make him a survalliance creep (slightly metal).
3. The fact that the narrator knows there is a "pretty little thing"= young pussy  waiting for the King. 
Can we infer that the narrator is in service to to the ghost to deliver sweet meat? Which is King Diamond levels of unsettling.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Fourth Wave of Extreme Metal

I was listening to Blut Aus Nord's newest release - which is fantastic, by the way - earlier today and got to thinking about the differences between the current waves of extreme metal in Europe and the United States. While there are some points of commonality - perhaps enough to call this some sort of wave (like the Fourth Wave name that I arbitrarily stuck in the title) - here, bands like Nachtmystium, edit: Baroness, Krallice, and Wolves in the Throne Room are making sounds that are not only more or less recognizable as extreme metal (you might call some of them metalgaze; Seth, who loves the concept as a crossover point between the indie and metal portions of his musical soul, prefers "not metal") but also seem to use nihilism as a creative focal point: think Nachtmystium's Blake Judd screaming "We came from nothing/and are nothing" during "Assassins."

Meanwhile, over in Europe, while the aesthetic remains basically the same - and here I'm thinking of bands like Keep of Kalessin, Moonsorrow, and Blut Aus Nord - the focal point is more the enormity of external forces that shape our lives (or, as I put it recently, making me want to live in a hut in the wilderness) than the emptiness of existence. Frankly, I find the later concept more appealing; maybe I just like the idea of struggling fruitlessly against something more than I like the idea of struggling fruitlessly against nothing. Or I've just seen The Big Lebowski one too many times.

Progressive Nation Pt. 2, a rebuttal

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! Dream Theater and Zappa Plays Zappa on the same bill!

Aside from all the other great things about this, the high profile gig will probably lure some A-list members of the original Zappa band to join on the tour. Here's hoping for more Vai/Bozzio action.

I don't know Beardfish and Pain of Salvation is not my cup of tea, but I wasn't planning on showing up when doors opened anyway.

I hope it is at Terminal 5 again. This bill screams for some Hallo Berlin beer boots beforehand.

Progressive Nation Volume 2

I've heard that Zappa Plays Zappa is pretty intense, so I say this with a big grain of salt, but isn't it a bad sign when a package tour hires what's essentially a cover band as their main opener? I mean, is the state of progressive music so bad that Mike Portnoy can't find a band he likes to open for Dream Theater that is playing music of a more recent vintage than the early 1990s?

That might be a little harsh. I suspect the real reason Portnoy tapped the Zappa crew is that he knows there's a good crossover between fans of the two groups and he's looking to give people more reasons to come to the show. Good strategy for the tough economic times and all that, but I hope he's not relying on two relative unknowns from Sweden to expand peoples' horizons.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Journey made $44 Million in 2008

I've got nothing.....

Roadrunner, what is your angle?

So I am on the Roadrunner mailing list. I normally tune out most of what they send but today's headline was "Exclusive News About Dream Theater's Upcoming Album..."

So I opened it...and they make me click through to read the "exclusive news" and those results are below. I don't really get their angle. That is neither news nor exclusive, as it has been on Blabbermouth. They are making an album and Portnoy/Pertrucci are producing. No shit. They produce ALL the records. As someone who works online and with web marketing in my professional life I have been trying to figure out why they sent this out. Are they trying to see who is an active user on their mailing list? Hoping to increase page traffic? I don't see any advertising they would be boosting their traffic for. So why make me click through on an email for completely useless information? WTF? Any ideas?

Coming Signs of the Apocalypse

Apocalypse of suck, that is: Limp Bizkit is getting back together and going on tour. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it a rule that nostalgia acts have to wait at least a decade - preferably fifteen years - before deciding to milk their fame a bit more? That shit's got to settle, boys; brew up until it's good and ready.

Of course, I'd prefer if "good and ready" meant "never ever again," but there is one positive to the return of the guys who made nu-metal the shitshow we know and hate: Limp Bizkit gives out quotes that are rife with unintentional comedy. For example:
"We decided we were more disgusted and bored with the state of heavy popular music than we were with each other. Regardless of where our separate paths have taken us, we recognize there is a powerful and unique energy with this particular group of people we have not found anywhere else. This is why LIMP BIZKIT is back."
That's right, people: it's not for the money, it's not because of Fred Durst's failed acting/directing career, and it's certainly not to capitalize on metal's popularity. Limp Bizkit is imposing themselves upon because they know their music will make a difference.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

METALlica Guitar Hero is METAL, I get it

Gotta love the guy from Neversoft boasting about how Metal he is on the Playstation Blog.

But I have seen the track listing for the game, and yes there is more Pete Seeger and Lynyrd Skynyrd than Mercyful Fate.

So don't show me your fucking Celtic Frost, Kreator and Voivod vinyl album covers if you aren't planning on putting them in the game. It just makes you look like a douche nozzle.

Headbang Hero will be my death!

Watch the below video for Headbang Hero. Yes it is a rhythm game for headbanging. Eric and I have both had our headbanging misadventures, and I am still trying to find the perfect remedy for the three days of intense pain I get after gigs which is now affectionately referred to as the "bang over."

Of course I can kvetch all I want but the fact remains, I would OWN this fucking game. I can do the up and down, the Dethklok twirl, and the crazy bald drunk guy attack bang with the greatest of ease.

I just hope this game won't give me the dreaded headbanging induced ONSTAGE STROKE

Trent Reznor producing new Jane's Addiction record?

How did this come about?

All week Trent has been posting on his blog pictures of him in the studio with Stephen Perkins and Eric Avery.

Now he just posted this:

I thought nothing could have me at all interested in a new Jane's Addiction album. And suddenly, everything has changed.......

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dave Mustaine - Sleepwalking through Metal

Tonight started the Priest Feast tour in Europe with Judas Priest, Megadeth, and Testament.

I saw this tour in 1990 at Nassau Coliseum. Priest was promoting Painkiller, Megadeth was supporting Rust in Peace, and Testament was supporting Souls of Black. Great show! And Megadeth played a much better set than this:

01. Sleepwalker
02. Take No Prisoners
03. Wake Up Dead
04. Skin O' My Teeth
05. Washington Is Next
06. In My Darkest Hour
07. Hangar 18
08. Tornado of Souls
09. Symphony of Destruction
10. Peace Sells
11. Holy Wars

Sleepwalker indeed! They have been doing a variation of this set since they first Mustaine started playing live again around 2003! This is why I can't get fired up about seeing them anymore.

Why don't you surprise me for once? I would be fine if you pulled Tornado of Souls if it would net me Hook in Mouth, or Liar, or maybe something spicy like Skull Beneath the Skin!

How many times can I see you play this same boring assed set with that weird thin live sound I have heard you use in too many small indoor rooms and large outdoor venues to blame anyone but the band?

Even Judas Priest gets it enough to pull out new tunes every few years to keep people interested. Why not throw me some surprises like Metallica did this year? Oh yeah, I went there........

Is Therapy Metal?

Reading up on Rob Flynn of Machine Head's description of how he and bassist Adam Duce are in therapy because they were otherwise ready to break up the band and it made me wonder: do we want our rock stars going through therapy? In part, therapy seems like the sort of soft-touch thing the machismo side of metal would never want to hear about, let alone contemplate, but I think there's also a touch of self-reliance that metal fans expect to come from the music. After all, we've all got stories about how the music got us through some tough times, and maybe there's an expectation that it should be able to help us through anything, no matter how difficult.

That's one side. The other side is comparing what happened with Machine Head - Flynn quits the band in Paris and prepares to board a flight back home the next day only to change his mind after Duce calls him up and says they need therapy to repair their relationship - with what happened to, say, Black Sabbath, where band members kept getting fired because they were trying to solve their problems with drugs. Frankly, I think I'd rather see stability.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Hot Fucking Lanta

The best ad for Scion since Frisky Dingo, the Scion rock fest is rolling into Atlanta on 2/28.

Although my geographically challenged mind decided Atlanta must only be about 6 hours away, not 16, the BB&B crew may roll down for this. It is every band I like!

Hopefully Andre 3000 will have a stripper pole up by the stage so my fantasy of watching hos from the dirty souf shake their booty to Boris can finally be fulfilled. Sexxy.

High on Fire
Wolves in the Throne Room
Harvey Milk
Toxic Holocaust
A Storm of Light
Pig Destroyer
Septic Flesh
Trash Talk
Evil Army
US Christmas
Apocalyptic Visions

Are the European Metal festivals any good?

Anyone ever go to one of the very big European festivals that happen every summer? All the lineups look so good as to be completely disgusting.

"According to, SLIPKNOT, HEAVEN AND HELL, MÖTLEY CRÜE, DREAM THEATER, BLIND GUARDIAN, CARCASS, TARJA, EPICA, VOIVOD, TESLA, PAUL GILBERT, CYNIC and NAPALM DEATH have been confirmed for this year's edition of Italy's Gods Of Metal festival"

That is truly something for everybody.

Somehow, I'm Not Surprised

Headline from Blabbermouth on Friday: "MEGADETH Bassist Says New Album Has 'Old-School Kind Of Thrash-y Vibe'." Not that having a thrashy vibe is a bad thing - although was there really a lot about United Abominations that wasn't thrashy? - but is anyone really surprised that six months after Metallica does their best to go back to their roots with Death Magnetic, Megadeth is putting out press like they're following suit? Congratulations on following the trends once again, guys.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Metallica at the Prudential Center

As I alluded to a few days ago, I caught Metallica's triumphant return to the New York area on Saturday. Brooklyn Vegan has the review about right (and some sweet-ass pics), although I should say that the sound for Machine Head in the commoner's section up in the hills was a far more palatable - if admittedly trebly after The Sword's low-end brick of fuzz - piece of engineering. Maybe the sound guy slacked off on the second night.

Anyway, it took me a few days to process this show, because I got to thinking about the subjective quality of the live experience. Throwing out the really complicated factors - things like amount paid for tickets, quality of available merchandise, and where I'm standing/sitting - there's still relative physical comfort, crowd energy, sound quality, whether I've seen the band before and have a level of expectation, how well I know their music, and so on and so forth...and that's without even thinking about the band's performance!

Take the expectations for this particular show:
  • Previously, I had seen Metallica once, Machine Head once (well technically twice, but the second time I was running back and forth between a venue entrance and a parking lot trying not to have a stress-induced heart attack), and The Sword not at all.
  • The Metallica show is one of my top three performances of all time.
  • I've written blog posts lauding both The Blackening and Gods of the Earth, I know both The Sword and the portion of Machine Head's catalog they'd still dare play live well enough to pluck out riff changes and song titles from my head-banging-adled brain, and Metallica's music was one of the staples of my adolescence.
To say I was completely frickin jazzed-out for this show would be an understatement: I'd been ready to go since I purchased the tickets in September and woke the morning of with a mish-mash of melodies and gently-sweating palms. Expectations were very high.

During the show, I observed the following:
  • Crowd energy: not that there were many people in their seats in section 123 for The Sword or Machine Head, but I was the only one standing throughout. I can take pride in my stand against the indifference of other fans, but it definitely wasn't the same rush as it would have been with a large, pumped up crowd. I've found that I go to concerts in part to surrender myself to a very safe form of mob psychology for a bit, so it's always disappointing when there's no mob to join.
  • I cannot headbang like I used to: or maybe it was trying to do so for 4 hours straight that did me in. I couldn't hold my head up properly until Wednesday and I'm probably lucky I don't have whiplash.
  • Drunk and starving: I did not eat anything until after I got home that night, some 12 hours after lunch. I also drank a fair amount of beer. It's probably fortunate that, unlike the drunken fuck behind me, I didn't fall over several rows of seats at least once.
  • Use of intro tapes: maybe they were trying to avoid instrument changes, or they're finally getting old and need more breaks, but using more than one intro tape per show seemed a little odd.
In the end, I can tell you I had an excellent time that I paid for several times over the next few days. At first blush, I can tell you I had a better time at my first Metallica show, but as far as why, I can only guess that there's some combination of too-high expectations (and maybe a lack of "Creeping Death"?) to blame. Overall, not part of the fabled top three, but definitely in my top 20.

Slipknot at MSG

Slipknot did a pretty killer job last night at MSG. The show was very stripped down. There was almost no spectacle, just 9 tight musicians on stage. I did wish for a little more of a strong visual element but I guess in these bleak economic times a $49 concert ticket doesn't get you much production. The set leaned very heavily on the self titled album and IOWA. It was fun being very close to the Clown and watching his interaction with his roadie who was charged with constantly filming him, raising and lowering his drum kit, and catching his aluminum baseball bat when it was flung high into the air.

Two things that bummed me out:
#1 The guitarists cheat live and don't play all the crazy riffs from the records. The best example of this is the Blister Exists. They don't do the amazing run in the verses which to me defines that whole song.
#2 They didn't play three of my favorite songs, The Heretic Anthem, Pulse of the Maggots, and All Hope is Gone. Shit the last song is the TITLE TRACK of the new album. Is it just too complex for the live show? The chorus is so fucking awesome. Oh well....

All in all a good show, set list below.

Intro/(Sic) Intro
Wait and Bleed
Me Inside
Before I Forget
Dead Memories
Left Behind
The Blister Exists
Frail Limb Nursery
Everything Ends
People = Shit

Spit it Out

Coheed and Cambria....the verdict?


The only thing about their set which rocked was Richard Christy's intro telling the crowd at MSG he had so much fun watching them at Bamboozle he pissed his pants rather than get up to use a bathroom.

Other than that? Not so much. Shitty emo with the occasional Chris DeGarmo riff. At least they didn't fuck up their Maiden cover live, like Machine Head did last week in Newark. That was just disgusting........

Thursday, February 05, 2009

In praise of a Cavalera free Sepultura

I'm going to cut straight to the chase here. Sepultura was awesome with Max and Igor, but is also fucking awesome without them. In fact, the Cavalera free Sepultura is making better music than than Max and Igor are right now.

Last year I saw both Sepultura and the Cavalera Conspiracy at Irving Plaza. Sepultura put on a show with much more passion soul and intensity. Andreas Kisser was an animal, Derrick Green respected the old material, and they played almost everything I wanted to hear. In contrast, although the Cavalera Conspiracy did play a ton of classic Sepultura tracks, they did so in rushed abridged medleys that showed a complete contempt for the classics.

And so Sepultura just put out a new record no one bought. I mean seriously, they did less than 2,000 copies so far in America. It is called A-lex, based on the Clockwork Orange novel, and is really great. The only reason I haven't listened to it more is that the new Kreator and Napalm Death keep calling out to me. But no one is going to listen to it because there are no Cavaleras. However you shouldn't get caught up in names. Just listen to A-lex and feel the soul of this inspired and still energized band.

Coheed and Cambria: one last chance.....

I have never gotten Coheed and Cambria. I keep hearing how they sound like Rush and Queensryche, how they have created their own mythology, and are the prog rock darlings of the kids. But personally, I don't hear it. They sound like any other emo band with semi-Metal leanings to me.

But I want to like them. I love that Dragonforce exists. Say what you want about that band, American kids are listening to Power Metal and that is good enough for me. And they took Turisas on the road with them! But C&C? I just don't get it.

Tonight I am going to see Slipknot at MSG, which I will review. Opening are Trivium and yes, Coheed and Cambria. I am really hoping the live show helps me get the appeal. Trivium I am not even trying to catch. Fuck that band. But maybe tonight will be the night.

To understand how Coheed and Cambria are almost, but not quite likeable please check out their cover of the Trooper, embedded below. Somewhere around where the synths come in and the esoteric vocal harmonies I'm lost. And there is nothing proggy about it at all!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

In awe of Napalm Death

How can a band 28 years into their career just start hitting their stride? The new album Time Waits for No Slave received a 9.5 from Blabbermouth which is completely deserved.

This powerhouse has managed to become simultaneously heavier and catchier as they have gotten older. The amount of inspiration you can hear in their last few records (have you heard Smear Campaign? Holy shit!) is inspiring in and of itself. It is the antidote to feeling jaded. Every year this band comes along and puts out a record BETTER than their last.

I don't know what fuels their hate. Maybe Shane Embury is really angsty about his hair, who knows. But the new evolution of the Napalm Death sound into thrashier grindier territory is welcomed, along with the addition of high screams to compliment the death grunts. Napalm is at their peak, at a time when they have no reason to be. Well played sirs, well played.

The BBB crew is going to check them out at the Blender in April with fucking Katalklysm, Toxic Holocaust and Trap Them (a band I will be writing more about soon). To headline that bill is BALLSY. Right now there is no better band for the job.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Happy Trails, Mike Stone

Well, I guess we know why Michael Wilton recorded all of the guitars on American Soldier: Mike Stone just announced he's quitting Queensryche so "he can focus on other musical endeavors." Nice words to be sure, but now I wonder: did the band cut Stone out of the recording process and he quit in disgust, or did he check out during the writing/recording process to put together Speed X and the band fired him in private? I guess we'll have to wait for the unauthorized biography to find out.

Battle Metal and a Walk in the Snow

It's snowing right now in New York; thick, heavy flakes that pour from the sky in a torrent of individual fluff. When I left work to go to class, I decided to walk the half-hour from office to school instead of taking the train, inspired in part by the unworldly beauty of a snowfall. Beauty in the streets of Manhattan is a rarity and I suspect that one of the reasons why I live here is because the few interruptions in the pervasive ugliness are that much more enjoyable in their few short moments.

However, I did have some additional motivation: serendipity dictated that it was time for me to cycle through another album to listen to during my trip. Scrolling through the list of artists, I came across Turisas and - imagining "To Holmgard and Beyond" in my ears - I put on The Varangian Way.

Inspiration comes in odd forms. As I left the building, the call of the wild-in-a-bottle storm and the music's story of a man going on a quest of discovery steered me away from the close comfort of the subway and out into the snow, where I gladly toiled - displacing myself into the frozen ropes pulling a longship in "Portage to the Unknown" - along the blocks across town. As I walked, I gradually sank into thought, jumping from the story in The Varangian Way to the vagaries of my own situation.

I use music the way others use drugs: if I focus on a song in the right way, I can channel all kinds of powerful emotions: anger, sadness, ectasies of power and ectasies of joy. Recently, it seems that the music that's attracted me most is gloomy and atmospheric, conjuring up dark coniferous forests and the struggle of the single man against the enormity of unfeeling nature. There is individual heroism in these songs, there is the wildness of communing with the animal within, but there is also an enormous sense of fatalism and the knowledge that one person cannot win against the tide of life. Morbid perhaps, but hauntingly beautiful at the same time.

Reflecting on this trend, I worried at first that I was just now discovering subconcious feelings of unfulfilled desire, brought on by my increasingly practical mode of living, but further probing revealed the truth: it's just fear. Fear for what's happening to the institutions of our economy, fear about the future of my own employment, fear that I'm powerless to stop any of the forces moving the world around me with strength of titans. It's irrational to be sure, but it's there - and it's hiding in my thoughts, waiting for a walk among the furies of nature to surface.

Sunday, February 01, 2009 Download

I'm in the process of downloading the free copy of the concert recording from the show last night that Metallica provided with my ticket. In addition to demonstrating that Metallica - or Metallica management Q-Prime - "gets it" (where "it" equals the realization that the money in the 21st century music business is in ticket sales and merchandise and everything else is the taste to get the fans in the door), the download shows that someone had a sense of humor: the Java application that downloads the files for you is called "nugster."