Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nekrofilth: Filling My Blood with Poison . . . (2009 Demo)

Maggots in Your Skull

Last year, Nekrofilth satisfied those of refined taste with their tasteful full-length debut, Devil’s Breath . Hells Headbangers, always eager to cater to those of us with delicate musical palates, took notice, and decided to reissue the band’s 2009 demo, Filling My Blood with Poison . . .

This Cleveland steamer apparently knew exactly where to go, right from the start. Although, to be honest, it’s not like this is a particularly difficult thing to do. These are simple hardcore/thrash riffs played with reckless abandon, and where there are solos it’s like they just fucked around for a second or two with the intention of going back to fix it later. But they didn’t. Because they clearly don’t give a fuck, and it shows in all the right ways.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jesters of Destiny: Fun at the Funeral (1986)

Faith Restored

I’ve got to be honest: I’ve never been a big fan of Faith No More. Not that I dislike them, exactly. I will say I don’t feel one way or the other about their reunion.

Why bring them up here? Jesters of Destiny was an L.A. band that could easily have been their peers. Maybe even the superior band. This is a reissue of their only record, 1986’s Fun at the Funeral, and it really gives off a Faith No More vibe. The punk-inflected “Incubus” is the most direct comparison to FNM, but the irreverence of the entire record reflects that spirit. Only, for my money, this is far superior.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Metal Briefs: Two by Two by Two Part Four


Two songs each. Two sentences each.

Portal / Blood of Kingu: Split 7" (2014)
3.5 out of 5 stars

This is a rough, early version of Portal that would have been intriguing as a first taste of the band. Blood of Kingu is blackened death metal at its best, but stacked next to Portal almost anything sounds tame.

On Hells Headbangers

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cadaveric Fumes / Demonic Oath: Entwined in Sepulchral Darkness (2014)

French Revolution

Like pretty much everyone, I used to think France was a joke. Derisive comments about surrender usually come up when middle-Americans discuss the country. When I thought of French metal, I thought of power metal bands singing about fairies or whatever.

But the French actually have a long history of being total badasses, events from the first half of the Twentieth Century notwithstanding. Cadaveric Fumes and Demonic Oath reassert that aspect of French culture. Other than a demo from each of them, the 2014 split Entwined in Sepulchral Darkness is their debut to the world. And sacrebleu! This is one hell of an introduction.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Skogen: I Döden (2014)

I Döden Do It

When it comes to underground black metal and Viking-ish / pagan-ish metal, I tend to get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers available. Yes, there are incredible releases out there, and they often come from bands I’ve never heard of before. It’s tough to know where to direct my attention. So I download a few promos, a few of them end up on the iPod, and fewer get a complete listen.

Skogen’s I Döden has been sitting on my iPod for months now, and I kept forgetting it was there. When I’m too busy to actually listen to an album, I’ll shuffle all the music, and there have been several times over the course of those months that I said something like, “That’s awesome! Who is that?” As often as not, the answer was Skogen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Top Ten Albums of 2014

Culling the Herd

In previous years I've been cute with my end-of-year lists. I did a top 13 of 2013, a top 12 of 2012, a huge number of lists and a top 25 of 2011, and back in 2010 I did best-of by subgenre. It would seem I'm done with that, for this year at least.

As I pondered 2014 in metal, I wondered where I'm going with this blog and how long I can keep doing this. Over 2,000 unread e-mails weigh on a person psychologically. I need to find a way to manage it with less time.

For a moment, I felt like my tastes have stagnated, at least in metal. The albums that stuck in my head were all from artists I've featured in previous year-end lists. But going back over the year, I was pleasantly surprised at how many standouts I had momentarily forgotten. A few of them made this list. And that's really the best reason to read these lists anyway, so you can remember to pick up the records you meant to buy.

As always, this represents how I feel about these albums now, not necessarily when I first reviewed them and not necessarily how I'll feel about them in a month. It is going to skew mostly toward the people who send me promos, but that's not all the list.

10. Wolvhammer: Clawing Into Black Sun

Another cycle of blackened sludge albums (a repeat of 2011) found Wolvhammer head-and-shoulders above contemporaries like Tombs and Castevet. For some reason this band once again slipped my mind when I first compiled this list, but taking another listen it's undeniable how great and even catchy these riffs are.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Ringworld by Larry Niven (1970)


In my continuing exploration of many of the classics of speculative fiction, I read Larry Niven's Ringworld. If you're familiar at all with the Halo video game franchise, you know at least one thing this book inspired. The central feature is an artifact, a made world in the shape of an enormous ring. It surrounds a sun, spinning to simulate gravity, with high walls at the edges to keep air, soil, and water from flowing off the edges of the ring's inner surface. "Shadow squares" at a closer orbit to the world's sun provide daylight intervals on the livable surface. To get a good visualization of the Ringworld, you can follow this link, although you should be warned that if you look too closely at it that will provide some spoilers.

Much of the book's descriptions focus on the sheer enormity of the world's scale. The total surface area of that inner ring is about the equal of three million Earths. That's too mind-boggling to really hold in your brain all at once. All of this is a pretty cool concept, but it doesn't by itself justify a novel dedicated to it. Not unless there's something else going on.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Bloodbath: Grand Morbid Funeral (2014)


Well, it’s a funeral, that’s for sure.

A long, long time ago Bloodbath released one of the best slabs of Swe-death of all time. Resurrection Through Carnage had the best possible version of that storied sound, and channeled it through some of the catchiest tunes known to all metal history. Over the years they’ve stayed consistently good, without quite reaching that level again, with more than one vocalist producing some of the best work of their careers. But now, rather than resurrection, we are faced with a funeral with more finality.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Atriarch: An Unending Pathway (2014)


The last time I talked about Atriarch, I focused on how they combine doom with punk’s equivalent of doom, deathrock. I said they were like a cross between My Dying Bride and Christian Death. But the more I listened to An Unending Pathway, the more I realized they are true spiritual successors to My Dying Bride.

I don’t have a handle on how well-regarded MDB are in general. Their name doesn’t seem to come up a lot. But to me they’re important, as they were one of the first bands that really struck a chord with me as I was getting into underground metal. And their prominent gothic influences, it would seem, were well ahead of their time.* That time is now, and the torch is passed to Atriarch.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Inter Arma: The Cavern (2014)

There And Back Again

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

I thoroughly enjoyed Inter Arma's 2013 release, and although FMA did not agree, I was not alone in that enjoyment.* Sky Burial was a thunderous piece of heavy music that while sludge-tinged, defied certain scene aesthetics and easy categorization. The heft was undeniable, and in all the right places. The Cavern follows somewhat quickly on that release. So why so quickly?** Still further, why make a one song album? Why make one song 45 minutes long? Why not break it up into six to nine songs, up to eight minutes long each? There are probably a lot of reasons to make a one 45 minute long song album - publicity, a bet, an internal challenge to push songwriting boundaries. But is there a cohesiveness, a theme that would justify the 45 minutes? These were my thoughts heading into this review of Inter Arma's The Cavern.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Execration: Morbid Dimensions (2014)

No Zombies

Execration is the act of condemning something, declaring it evil. But more importantly, it's an obscure word that sounds vaguely evil even if you didn't know that, and the cover art to the Norwegian band's Morbid Dimensions looks like something from an underground black metal band--the kind that has too much creativity to be contained in only the colors black and white. So we can figure out a couple of things from that alone.

But surprisingly, this turns out to be a death metal album. Raw and evil-sounding death metal, to be precise. But just as unorthodox as the colorful album art--lacking any zombies or graveyards--would suggest.

Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (1869-1876)


The other day I mentioned Wagner in a review of a Septicflesh album. There's good reason for that. As observed in the documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Richard Wagner was metal a century before metal existed. So it occurred to me that it was essentially a crime that I had never listened to The Ring Cycle, a.k.a. Der Ring des Nibelungen, and I sought to rectify that situation.

I had tried to listen to Wagner before, Tristan und Isolde, specifically, and I wasn't impressed. But after doing my homework, I discovered a couple of things. One, you really need to get a good recording to appreciate it. I had bought a bargain bin copy of that opera, so I missed the mark there. Two, you need to listen to it at very high volume. Once again, I missed that the first go-around. So I did even more homework, and found the Daniel Barenboim-directed version of the entire cycle and turned the volume way, way up.

In a word, it's sublime.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blood & Banjos: Blood & Banjos (2014)


If there’s one reviewer out there who is inclined to like a metal band with banjos, it’s probably me. I’ve written extensively on metal and Americana, I loved that Taak song with the banjo solo, and I adore Panopticon’s Kentucky. So it made sense for Blood & Banjos to contact me.

I was warned that they are a bluegrass band first, with some metal parts, and that’s an accurate assessment. Their self-titled debut begins sounding not unlike Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, and then it turns metal. This checks the right boxes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Septicflesh: Titan (2014)


It’s been said that Blue Öyster Cult put the first unnecessary umlaut in a band name “because of the Wagnerian aspect of Metal.” You probably already know how ridiculously bombastic Wagner made his operas, including the use of a giant cello that required two people to play—because it wasn’t heavy enough yet. Drama on top of drama made songs like “Ride of the Valkyries” so compelling, and though his compositions had their subtleties you don’t exactly need a critical ear to catch the main drift of any part of the Ring Cycle.

Although the Greek band Septicflesh doesn’t have any umlauts in their name, none could embody that Wagnerian aspect better. Titan has been out for a little while now, but if you missed it earlier this year then that’s an oversight you can correct now.

Abigail: Intercourse & Lust (1996)

Tentacle Rape by Chthonic Venom Worshipers

As I was listening to Abigail's Intercourse & Lust, I had no idea it was 18 years old. Speed metal is evergreen. This is true to the purest ethos of the backpatch-on-jean-jacket set.

This reissue has new cover art, from the band's native Japan. Believe it or not, I looked up the Wikipedia page for tentacle porn a while back and found that this is a print by Hokusai (of dorm poster of a wave fame) and an early example of tentacle porn. I bet you thought that didn't exist until the 1990's, but here's indisputable proof that Japan is weirder than you ever imagined. But it's weird in more than just the way the popular culture depicts. And thus, it is home to some of the most badass of metal, straightforward yet twisted to an extreme.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dark Americana Briefs, Volume 18

Ladies' Night

Feist: Metals (2011)
4 out of 5 stars

Feist is a Canadian who stretches my preconceived notions about what "pop" means. There are no big dance hits here: Metals is full of simmering tunes that are sometimes vulnerable, sometimes angry, and always beautiful. While she touches on R&B, I've included this record here for the many Americana and blues touches. She's not afraid to make it heavy for a brief moment or two, either. Feist wouldn't be out of place sharing a stage with Sarah McLachlan or Chelsea Wolfe; a midpoint.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Slipknot and Korn at the Century Link Center

November 6, 2014

After seeing Amon Amarth on Tuesday, seeing Slipknot and Korn was a very different experience. I went with a friend whom I would not describe as a metalhead, which made it a lot more enjoyable for me. But aside from that, the show had some issues.

First of all, the Century Link Center is a completely different venue. The beer selection was a crime against humanity. Literally the best thing they had was Shock Top wheat, and that was $8, which is of course ridiculous. And the wait in line to get any alcohol was asinine. Other than that, I can't really fault the venue--getting in was easy without an especially horrible security process, and seating was fine--but it's a lot less enjoyable to be in a place of that size than a smaller club.

The other fans there were exactly what I expected. Nearly everyone there was my age, which meant they got into Slipknot and Korn most likely when they were in high school in the 90's. (Also, a few of them brought their kids.) Which is fine, but it is telling when a band's appeal is so limited to a certain group of people who got into it at the right time. On top of that, I saw only two Slayer shirts, two Black Label Society shirts, two or three Metallica shirts, and a whole lot of Slipknot shirts. Although on the surface I might be of those people, those people don't really share my taste in music.

Well, anyway, none of that was surprising. On to the music.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Amon Amarth at the Bourbon Theatre

November 4, 2014

For the first time ever, Amon Amarth rode into Lincoln, Nebraska, and I was witness.

It was at the Bourbon Theatre, where I've been a couple of times before. They of course had to use the larger stage and room. The house was packed--even more draw than Opeth, apparently, although that might have something to do with the supporting acts. Of the crowd, I didn't see anything distinctive. They ran the gamut of what I would consider "typical" metalheads, with shirts ranging from Darkthrone to Obituary to Motörhead to Veil of Maya. Longhairs mixed with normal-looking dudes and, of course, an old lady who didn't seem to belong and a guy with bizarre hair and face piercings whose parents didn't love him.

Skeletonwitch was up first. Apparently their vocalist was unavailable due to personal issues. So they played a 30-minute instrumental set. While they're still a killer band, the songs leave much to be desired without vocal accompaniment. I'm sure they could have torn the place down with someone rasp/screaming the chorus of "Beyond the Permafrost," but it didn't happen that way and people didn't get terribly excited. We were appreciative, and they gracious, but it just didn't feel right.

Then came Sabaton. I'd never actually heard this band before, but apparently a lot of people were actually there to see them. It was, let's say, an interesting experience. They wore matching camo pants and had clearly worked out some choreography among them, which seems pretty damn un-metal to me. But the vocalist was charmingly self-effacing, and compared his band to the Village People. He also had a lot of energy and knew how to throw his mic around and catch it, and had an undeniable stage presence. He got half the crowd singing his lines. But when it comes right down to it, the music was fun but not that great. It was somewhere between Dream Evil and Turisas. And even though half their melody came from synths, there wasn't a keyboard player in sight. They played somewhere north of 45 minutes, and it was fun but too goofy for my taste.

Finally, there was Amon Amarth. They were everything I expected: Loud as hell, and bringing the riffs. Johan Hegg had an imposing presence (and Viking-appropriate girth) and also knew how to get the crowd involved. They played a solid 90+ minute set list that drew at least from Versus the World to the present.* What else can I say about them, really? It was exactly what I expected, and exactly as great as I expected, and I would highly recommend seeing them.

*However, I don't know the earlier material and there was a song I wasn't sure I recognized).

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Slipknot: .5: The Gray Chapter (2014)

Slipknot, Ver .5

So by now I’ve revisited every studio album by Slipknot, a band who shaped my musical preferences long-term—and honestly had a big part in prepping me to be an extreme metal fan. What I’ve learned is that they released a handful of pretty good records with hard rock parts, some metal parts, extreme percussion, angry shout-along choruses and catchy sung melodies. They also released one very good record (Iowa) that was, on balance, a metal album. This revisiting of their catalog hasn’t really done anything to alter my current perception of the band.

Now, a look at .5: The Gray Chapter. This is the band’s first album in six years. It’s also the first since the death of bassist Paul Gray, who was largely credited as instrumental in bringing extreme metal influence to the band. So I expected to hear something different. Happily, I didn’t.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

YOB: Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)


I’ve always kind of felt that YOB is a bit overrated. No, let me rephrase that: I used to think YOB was overrated.

Despite Mike Scheidt’s crappy folk album leaving me cold, I already enjoyed both his growled and sung vocals (especially with Vhöl). Yet YOB’s work has always given me the sense that it was just, pretty good. Not great. Clearing the Path to Ascend has fully convinced me. It’s four epic-length tracks totaling over an hour of massive volume and crushing heaviness tempered with a broad emotional range . And it’s just, really good. Great.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Slipknot: All Hope Is Gone (2008)

Or is it?

I’ve been going back over the discography of Slipknot, because they were an important gateway band for me. Finally I’ve come to the last of their previous studio albums. This one is a bit different to me personally. Whereas their first three albums got a whole lot of spins from me in an earlier time, and have a lot of nostalgia value, my view of All Hope Is Gone is not clouded by such feelings. By the time it came out in 2008, I was already hooked by Suffocation and fully into a death metal obsession. I listened to it, sure, but I was more interested in more extreme things by that point.

Without that familiarity, I’m really forming a first solid impression of the record here. And early on, I started to think it was better than its spotty, artsy predecessor. It doesn’t attempt anything pretentious, early on, but instead is Slipknot being Slipknot. “Sulfur” has a metal riff and a sing-along chorus plus a DJ part, and “Psychosocial” is more hard rock with a shout-along part. It doesn’t get much more Slipknot than that combination. I find myself liking the written-for-rock-radio “Dead Memories” (with metal parts but mostly a hard rock song with emotional chorus) despite myself. They follow that up by the absolutely-metal riff of “Vendetta,” which is a good way to keep it going.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anaal Nathrakh: Desideratum (2014)

Of Maggots, and Humanity

I’m going to, once again, borrow a metaphor from a particular Decibel review, because it’s perfect: listening to Anaal Nathrakh is like hearing the gates of hell opened, just a crack. No one else can do that. They made my own end-of-year list a couple years back, because Vanitas brilliantly combined that utter sonic chaos with undeniably catchy melody and close to a score of different sonic influences (including opera) in brilliant fashion.

Unfortunately, it seems the gates have closed for Desideratum. You see, while I don’t have anything against putting dubstep into metal per se, there is perhaps good reason that when I think “dubstep in metal” I think of djent and Korn. And just about every track on here has a dubstep part.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dawnbringer: Night of the Hammer (2014)


Chris Black is on a roll. An unstoppable heavy metal force. He is truly one of metal’s most gifted songwriters at the helm of two of metal’s most likable bands.

Oh, do you still need more? After the last couple of Dawnbringer albums and the great High Spirits record from earlier this year, I thought you’d already be convinced that you need Night of the Hammer. Well, this time around the promo spiel is self-contradictory, claiming this is “more unique and even stranger” but also “more straightforward . . . and traditional.” I’m going to lean toward the latter claim as the truth.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Menace Ruine: Venus Armata (2014)

Lovely Vocals and Arcane Music

A couple of years ago I said that Menace Ruine sounds like occult church music. That’s still pretty much the case. If you’re the kind of person who is mesmerized by Botanist, or intrigued by Sabbath Assembly, then you will certainly enjoy Venus Armata.

Simple (distorted) organ pieces and guitar played in an unusual fashion—plus who knows what else—the instruments create a backdrop for the lovely vocal work. As far as I’m aware, they don’t reveal what instruments they use, but there are church bells and muted drums in some places, though I think to break it down would do it a disservice. To point out the marching percussive rhythm in the excellent “Red Sulphur” is potentially deceptive, because the organ moves much more slowly. And really, the key is not the droning of the instruments, but the vocal melodies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Slipknot: Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses (2004)

Slipknot, Soured

This is part 3 of my continuing reexamination of a band that meant a great deal to a younger version of me.

After defying all expectations by going harsher and heavier with their sophomore album, Slipknot took a short hiatus. The members went off and pursued their own projects for a while, most notably Corey Taylor’s Stone Sour. And upon their return, they went to a much more predictable path.

Hard rock and metal bands that achieve any level of commercial success tend to get dogged with the accusation that their music is dumb or one-dimensional. Which results in the band members saying, “Yes, and it’s supposed to be.” Or, in the unfortunate case, “We’ll show you just how wrong you are.” Thus, we have Slipknot’s “artsy” album, Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses.

Exmortus: Slave to the Sword (2014)

Welcome to Chotchkies

I had joanismylover move his desk to the file room before writing this review.

Exmortus - We need to talk about your flair. I mean Exmortus, come on. You only have fifteen pieces of flair. Dragonforce, they have thirty seven pieces of flair. And a heck of lead guitarist. Yes we know that 15 pieces is the minimum. But people can get guitar leads anywhere. People listen to this kind of metal for fun - for the super noodling guitar licks. The air guitar action. That's what flair is about. Yes we know we could tell you to be more about the flair. But we want you to express yourself. If you think the minimum of flair is enough, well, ok. But some bands choose to do more flair, and, well, we encourage that. You do want to express yourself, don't you Exmortus? Don't you?

Certainly, Exmortus, you have a lot pizza shooters, shrimp poppers and extreme fajitas of metal on Slaves to the Sword. You have a really great instrumental intro there in "Rising" - you earn lots of flair points for the extreme licks on show here. Even though the intern was bangin his head to it there's quite a bit of flair and it's a great entree to what we hoped was some super awesome guitar metal action inside. Then, the title track dissuaded us. This is just heavy metal here that gallops, and drives. There's a distinct lack of flair there. You could almost do hair whips to some of that stuff, if we allowed long hair here. No. We need more of that insane finger picking and hyper soloing that was at the end of "Immortality Made Flash". Corporate did not think it was possible you could put the whammy bar in so many times in such a short time frame. Kudos!

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.