Monday, October 20, 2014

Death Denied: Transfuse the Booze (2014)

Intravenous Polish Brewtality

I’ve mentioned this time and again, but it’s worth mentioning again: My early 20’s found me in love with Black Label Society and the southern metal version of Corrosion of Conformity. Poland’s Death Denied are once again taking me back to that time, with their first full-length album.

When I reviewed EP Appetite for Booze, I thought it sounded more like COC, and now I think it sounds more BLS. That’s not a huge shift, exactly, but who would want it to be? The opening riff of “River of Booze” is solid Zakk Wylde-esque material. “The Morning After” (which has an excellent BLS riff) also makes use of a trick Wylde often does on the whammy bar (hey, I’m no guitarist, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s done). These guys are strong, determined, merciless, forever.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dark Americana Briefs, Volume 17

If God is vengeance, we all have it coming.

Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (1967)
4 out of 5 stars

With great tunes like "As I Went Out One Morning" and "All Along the Watchtower," it's easy to see why Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding is considered one of the greatest albums of all time. A consensus top 10 across genres and decades, if ever there was one. And Dylan is considered perhaps the greatest songwriter of all time. For my part, I enjoy it a great deal, the downbeat mood with acoustic guitar, drums, and harmonica being a style I enjoy, and the melodies solid. But I can't give it a perfect score for two reasons. One, I think this is one of those where lyrics are what elevate it, and I simply can't pay much attention to lyrics; they are nearly meaningless to me. Two, Dylan's voice sounds vaguely like Randy Newman.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)

A Reason to Fight

I'm a bit of a nerd. And I love to read, but I don't have the time/motivation to read a book in a weekend. It takes me a bit longer. So as I may have mentioned before, I set out to identify and collect some of the classics of science fiction. I'm still going through that collection that I amassed mostly over a decade ago.

Joe Haldeman's The Forever War is the latest book I finished. It deals with the prospect of interstellar war--and if you think war is hell on Earth, then you haven't seen anything. The hostile environments of space and distant planets make survival that much more difficult. Those unusual tactics and pitfalls are an intriguing part of the story, but they are not the most interesting part of it.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Death Metal Briefs: Clearing the Docket

Thrice Dead

I've had some of these waiting for review for far too long, so let's get to it.

Concrete Icon: Perennial Anguish (2013)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Concrete Icon play lumbering death metal in the vein of Domination-era Morbid Angel. It's sort of like being slowly crushed by a steamroller from your legs on up to your skull, with some great halting rhythms and a big, burly sound.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Fides Inferno: Correspondence (2011)

Drone That's Actually Good

Reading magazines, blogs, and other sources of metal news: That’s a pretty good way to find out about new music. But they’re really no substitute for personal recommendations. Fellow metal blogger Apteronotus alerted me to the existence of Fides Inferno because he thought it sounded like something I’d like. Yes, yes it does.

In strict genre terms, Correspondence is a drone metal album. I’ve documented a number of my attempts to get into drone metal, which have been mostly unsuccessful, but this is better. Whoever makes up this band have committed some horrendous act, and have fled to the wilderness, dogged by physical manifestations of the devil.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Occultation: Silence in the Ancestral House (2014)

Stay Occulted

I very much enjoyed the previous Occultation album. My take on that was that it was female-fronted occult rock which actually sounded occult, not just, you know, B-movie style witchy. That’s thanks in no small part to the lead guitars provided by the Negative Plane guitarist. You can imagine, then, that I was pretty excited to get my hands on Silence in the Ancestral House.

Unfortunately, the new album doesn’t live up to my high hopes. The formula hasn’t changed all that much. This time, my early impressions were that it sounds much like Ghost’s first album, but with a strong preference for doom and those crazy lead guitars intact. Which sounds like an awesome idea, but it doesn’t hit the mark.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Tummler and Solomon: You've Worn Out Your Welcome (2014)

Three Bearded Dudes from Washington State

Doom just seems so simple. Why is it that there is such a wide gulf between the good ones and the bad ones, when, on the surface, they don’t seem all that different?

Tummler and Solomon don’t seem all that remarkable. Which is why it’s so remarkable that their level of quality on this debut album is so high. You’ve Worn Out Your Welcome is an example of the good kind of mellow stoner doom with drone leanings. Since explaining why it’s good or bad is kind of the purpose of a review, I’ll make an attempt at it. In the end it’s mostly an examination of what they don’t do wrong rather than what they’re doing right, but such is the nature of the beast in a genre with such well-established traditions.

Mastodon: "The Motherload" Video

Social Justice Warriors at It Again

So, Mastodon recently released a video for "The Motherload." Now, as I've said before, Mastodon had already released my two favorite songs of the last decade--"Curl of the Burl" and "Colony of Birchmen." Well, "The Motherload" is number three on that list. Just so you know where I'm coming from.

The video, in the band's long-standing practice, is silly. It's a parody of a 90's metal video which somehow turns into a dance contest (or really, a twerking contest) among a bunch of big-bottomed girls. Then it goes psychedelic in one of the funniest moments of music video history.*

So, what's the deal? Apparently, some people found it sexist. Or, more properly, one guy put himself out there to say that it was sexist in an effort to get attention. Maybe others have followed suit, I really don't know.

First of all, to that claim, the only real answer is "Fuck off." It's a metal music video. What exactly do you want out of it?

But I'll bite. If you're a regular reader, you already know where I stand on claims of social injustice in metal. No, I'm not a misogynist, but there is simply no place for social justice warriors in metal. Not only does metal not have a unifying agenda, but it's often transgressive. No one should be telling any metal band what they should or shouldn't do. Metal is not here to follow and reinforce ideal social norms.

Putting that aside for a moment to address the actual claim, it's impossible to back it up.** OK, yes, it does have women shaking their asses. A lot of them. But you'd have to be an idiot to watch this video and think that it's exploitative. It parodies exploitation, and the combination of sheer excess and overall tone make that quite clear. And if you're still not convinced, just look at the women's faces. Do they look like they feel exploited? On the contrary, they look empowered, and they look like they're having fun.

The only mistake Mastodon made was by responding in a slightly defensive posture. They should have just laughed it off, and all would be right with the world.

Only an adolescent would be turned on by this. Only a moron would be offended by it. For everyone else, it's just funny. So just knock it off already.

*I am really not qualified to make that claim. I don't really watch music videos much. But it is funny.
**See what I did there?

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Slipknot: Iowa (2001)

Iowa Is Close to Home

For nostalgia’s sake, I’m going to go see Slipknot next month. In anticipation of that, I’m trying to figure out how 32-year-old me feels about the band that the 22-year-old me loved so much. I began that with a review of the debut, which left me with an understanding of why I loved them, but not really feeling it the same way I used to.

Iowa, on the other hand, holds up pretty damn well. Most other bands I was into at the time released their angriest albums first, then softened up after the fact. Korn, Static-X, Disturbed, and fucking Staind. (I can’t stand thinking about myself listening to Staind, easily the worst offender of that bunch.) Slipknot’s sophomore release, on the other hand, is their most ripping and violent.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Wreck and Reference: Want (2014)

Machine of Confusion

Wreck and Reference isn’t a metal band, but it’s certainly extreme. Sort of like Botanist in that way—Botanist’s Otrebor is actually the one who told me about this project. But this is the first time I’ve heard some Botanist influence in Wreck and Reference, particularly the piano parts in “Apollo Beneath the Whip.” But that’s jumping too far ahead.

Wreck and Reference is more of an industrial band, I guess? I’m not really clear on the proper terminology when you get into that area. Simile and metaphor are my preferred tools, so let’s try it out. W&R is like Nine Inch Nails reimagined by Sigh. A much more off-the-wall beast, vastly more intimidating and chaotic, but with some root similarities.