Friday, August 28, 2015


So I started making some of my own memes, and thought I might as well start posting some here. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blasphemy: Fallen Angel of Doom (1990)

Say you run across some backwoods boys slitting the throat of an animal at just the right moment to create the proper bucking motion. You might get out of there alive, but only if you hand them a third-generation tape of Slayer's Hell Awaits. Those boys would go on to create something like Blasphemy.

Fallen Angel of Doom is a perfect blend of mindless, bestial aggression, primitive instrumental work, and an instinctive sense of musicality. I'd swear none of these guys have had a music lesson in their lives, but the songs are great anyway. Many of them are just unrelenting aggression with well-timed cymbal crashes or lobotomized Slayer solos as accent. But the best tunes also have breakdowns, and the rhythmic sense of them is unfuckwithable. Your head will be banged by the likes of "Darkness Prevails."

The production is murky, and a little uneven. But other than the over-loud intro and outro synths, I wouldn’t change a thing on this magical bit of backwoods Canadian chemistry. It's no wonder Nuclear War Now is reissuing it.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 21, 2015

Doomed: Wrath Monolith (2015)

We’re All Doomed

Normally by this point in the year I’ve given out two or three perfect scores. This is the first for 2015.

In metal, the riff is king. The German death/doom monolith Doomed have a fucking lock on riffs. Massive lurch-and-stumble rhythms all around here. And their sound is just perfect. I’m reminded of a mix of Evoken and Doom:VS, with a pinch of Triptykon. It’s a brutal, pummeling death metal sound in a shambling march, with never-ending dynamics and obviously distinct, memorable songs. Sometimes, also, more melodic elements and squealing pinch harmonics reminiscent of My Dying Bride.

I’ll highlight two songs to illustrate the point. “The Triumph – Spit” may be the best tune on here. It begins with a fantastic stuttering riff and a compelling clean-ish lead, but eventually they charge ahead with a full-on death metal assault. “Looking Back,” on the other hand, has morose melodies worthy of Pallbearer, and partially foregoes the death growls in favor of clean vocals (and they’re no slouches there, either).

But that’s not the full extent of the variety. Every song on here is worthwhile, the pacing is excellent, and the production is exquisite. Get on this.

Doomed were complete unknowns to me before. And now they’ve dropped the gauntlet. So far, this is the best album of the year.

The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Career Advice

I just got an e-mail from a student at a top-tier law school* wanting some advice for
a young man covered in tattoos who never wants to say to a character and fitness committee that he enjoyed, say, Craft’s Fuck the Universe? Should I wear my Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses shirt to law school, and when? And how do I steer myself to a job that doesn’t make me want to retch?
Most of this will apply to any metalhead who wants to enter a professional career, but I'm going to focus on lawyers.

So, first of all, your musical taste is not going to come up unless you bring it up. Nobody asks that question, and only music snobs care. (And yes, all metalheads are music snobs.)

Tattoos, on the other hand, might be a problem. Thankfully you'll be wearing a jacket any time it matters. If that doesn't cover up your tattoos, I can't help you. I'm sure there are places and specialty areas where it won't matter, but I'm not knowledgeable about what those might be.

As far as your clothing choices in law school, I think you have to get a sense for the culture of your school. If most people are wearing T-shirts, then wear whatever T-shirt you want. It won't matter, at least not unless you're wearing something particularly offensive. Law school is interesting in that you won't be able to simply remain silent in class. You will be called upon to speak, and your intelligence and thoughtfulness will be what informs your cohorts' opinions of you. Certainly more than the shirt you're wearing.

In your professional life--which starts for real after your first year of law school, for most--your work and your attitude are going to speak for you. If you have the right attitude and put out solid work, then people will like you. Don't start blasting Destruktor on your first day, though. Get comfortable in the office first, and then, if you think it's OK, and people already have a sense of you, you can play music in your office. At a reasonable volume of course. And if someone comes in to talk, have the decency to turn it off so you can listen to them without distraction. If someone hears your music, but they already like you, they'll find it curious or weirdly charming.

Now, on to what I think is the most difficult question: How to get into a job that you don't hate. Oscar Wilde famously said, "The study of law is sublime, and its practice vulgar." I found that to be true in most cases. There is probably a positive correlation between vulgarity and pay, too. The more ambitious you are, I suspect, the more disgusting your ultimate career is likely to be. As for me, I landed in a small firm in a relatively small town (Lincoln), so it wasn't terrible by any means. But the private practice of law is always going to involve two things: counsel and salesmanship. The counseling part was fine. I often enjoyed it. But ultimately I found any kind of salesmanship to be too distasteful for me. And that's why I landed in government.

If I said any more on the topic, I'd only be speculating. I believe you can get a feel for the culture of an office through an interview. But any place where they demand top-tier law school students and work everyone 80 hours per week is going to be a soulless hellpit. If you want to make six figures out the gate, that's what you're looking at. If you want to love your job, find some area that's meaningful to you and try to work in that field.

There is one piece of advice I can give that I know for certain is good: Don't let law school or your career take over your entire life. My law school cohorts told me, after our first year, that I had the right idea. I made time every day to read for pleasure. You need to keep a hobby and make personal time every single day. Firstly, because it's just not worth it if you can't. And secondly, because you really don't need to work that hard to succeed in law school. You're probably more intimidated than you need to be. You got in, and that means you're smart. You can handle it. Maybe not if your goal is to be in the top ten percent, but if that's your goal, you're asking the wrong person.

I hope this helps.

*Incidentally, in looking at school rankings so I could remove the name of the school, I realized that based on LSAT scores, I likely could have gone to a top ten law school. Oh, well. I prefer where I am in life now.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Destruktor: Opprobrium (2015)

One of the best parts of Ride the Lightning is that part in “Fight Fire With Fire,” where Hetfield warns, “Soon to fill our lungs the hot winds of death . . . .” Destruktor play a similar riff on “Eradication.”

That’s the level of speed and aggression these Australian black/death metal tyrants keep up for nearly an entire full-length album. It’s got a whole lot of blastbeats and violent riffs. Which anyone can do, given enough stamina. But I bring up classic Metallica because there’s a similar hell-bent musicality to the riffs on Opprobrium that was more common a generation ago than it is today.

Destruktor write actual songs. It’s not just blastbeats and a constant stream of guitar chords. They slow down, ever so slightly, the dynamic tension giving the sense of someone pulling a baseball bat back to get a little more room to swing it at your head. And like I said, the riffs are musical.

Out of all the ugliest Hells Headbangers stuff so far this year, this may be the one you need the most.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Coffins: Craving to Eternal Slumber (2015 EP)

Regular guest reviewer joanismylover is right:
Coffins doesn't seem to do anything particularly special - it's just death metal. They aren't ground-breaking - others drop-tuned before they did. They aren't the most talented on the block - technical this is not. They are just heavy as fuck.
And what else is there to say, really?


The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

. . .

. . .

. . .

What, are you still fucking here? You haven't preordered Craving to Eternal Slumber yet? The fuck is wrong with you? This is purest death metal. Heavy, sometimes slow and sometimes mid-paced, with fantastic riffs and the perfect distillation of the death metal sound. And, as joanismylover observed, it's fun. They don't create some depressive atmosphere or make you feel like you're in a tomb. They just make you want to snap your neck. Or someone else's.

Necks will be snapped. You should be taking part in that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Die Choking: Die Choking and II (2014)

Die Choking is a fucking great name for a band. It's short, brutal, and imperative. Not just Someone Should Maybe Die of Asphyxiation At Some Point, but Die Choking. That means you, and it means now.

A more fitting moniker there never was.

Die Choking and II are the band's first two EPs, both released last year and both clocking in around six minutes. They are manically fast, with song lengths only occasionally 90 seconds long. There are enough riffs in either EP to easily fill a twenty-minute record, but the jackhammer delivery is a much more exciting way to experience it.

The tunes combine grind, hardcore, crust, and death metal and even though they fly by at dizzying speed you can still groove to them--sometimes. When they're not beating the back of your skull with a commercial-grade cheese grater, anyway. And they do slow it down a little, in places, but it's not like they ever get genuinely slow. It's more like fast, faster, and balls-in-a-lawnmower.

The Verdict:
Die Choking: 4 out of 5 stars
II: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This bodes well for their upcoming full-length III, due October 22. You can already hear it now, though.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Skepticism: Ordeal (2015)

Updated 7/27 with music clip

Skepticism was one of the first funeral doom bands, and they’re still going strong. If you don’t have the patience for it, move on. But if you’re into it, you’ll definitely want to check out Ordeal.

I think most people instinctively believe it takes a lot of skill to play fast, but not to play slow. I think that’s dead wrong. If you’re playing fast, you don’t need to keep a consistent tempo to sound good. Just listen to early Venom. But playing slow—funeral doom slow—takes an enormous measure of restraint and patience, and a steady heartbeat. As if to punctuate just how skilled they are, Skepticism opted to record their fifth full-length album live in front of an audience. For 78 incredible minutes, they maintain the pace and the mood. Point taken: These Finns are amazing.

So, fifth album—about that: Twenty-four years active with a remarkably consistent lineup, and only five albums. That’s the result of brutally high standards. (Check the ratings on their Metal Archives page if you don’t believe me.) Those standards have not let up in the slightest here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Steve Von Till: A Life Unto Itself (2015)

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about any dark Americana music. But a new Steve Von Till isn’t something I could just ignore, is it?

The record again finds our man in the pattern of playing a few acoustic guitar chords, singing a line, playing a chord, singing a line, and playing a few more chords. He doesn’t really play and sing at the same time, which is a perfectly acceptable way to approach this kind of music. However, sticking to that pattern the whole record, and playing everything at the same pace for a full 45 minutes, might bother some listeners.

Thankfully, other dynamic elements are here to save it from becoming too monotonous. Beautifully morose fiddle and percussion weave into “A Language of Blood,” while elsewhere you can hear synths, piano, and even a few heavy, distorted guitar riffs.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Perversor: Anticosmocrator (2015)

Perversor is a Chilean band who play bestial black metal. It’s brutal, ugly, and uncompromising. I must be a sucker for this kind of stuff, because it seems I never hear one that I don’t like—but then again, I mostly listen to the ones that come out on Hells Headbangers, and if any label knows their shit, it’s them.

I couldn’t tell you what sets them apart from similar acts, but I can tell you Anticosmocrator is good. The thing that stands out to me is their use of tempo shifts to prevent the music from becoming an undifferentiated mass. Sort of like the lurch-and-stumble of doom, but it’s more of a stutter-and-attack in this case.

It’s not for the faint of heart. So enjoy.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars