Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Death Metal Briefs: Part 1000 or Whatever

Skelethal: Interstellar Knowledge of the Purple Entity (2014)
4.5 out of 5 stars

Skelethal is an extra-heavy, extra-doomy kind of Swe-death band. It's a very satisfying listen, and goes out on a high-energy, faster-paced tune. It definitely leaves me wanting more of this brand of death. I notice they're French. What the hell is going on in France now? How can France be home to the most vital metal scene in Europe?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Betoken: Beyond Redemption (2014)

Inadvertently Correct Album Title

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

I have only been to a lounge once that played "lounge music." It was fun. We lounged around. We drank cocktails. We chilled. We requested Billy Joel be played by the piano man. We tipped said piano man when he played "Piano Man." It was relaxing, fun and a good time out. I'd never do it again, but it was fun.

But it was fun in a non-metal kind of way. Metal is fun but one does not lounge while listening to it. Maybe one gets stoned, if that's her thing. Maybe she checks out for a bit and hails to the Dopesmoker or Jerusalem. But she does not "lounge." She does not chill. She will not drink fancy cocktails and listen to metal.

"Metal Lifestyle" Products

I was contacted by someone who is starting a line of "metal lifestyle" products. Naturally, I was curious about this. What are "metal lifestyle" products? I thought, perhaps, since most of us can't collect Nazi memorabilia like Lemmy does, because it's just not practical, maybe it's Paula Deen cookware. (Get it? Because . . . oh, never mind.)

So I clicked through to find that it's a blog (a combination of a metal blog, BuzzFeed garbage, and marketing tips, I guess). It's also a clothing line. The clothes feature the logo of the blog. And immediately, I was annoyed.

It is a cool logo, yes. But it's not going to support the people who actually make the music we love. We don't wear band T-shirts only to show the world we are metalheads, but also because buying it pumps a little money into the coffers of the bands and labels that need it. I don't have a problem with people who don't make music making money off metalheads. You can write all the metal-related books and movies you want. Really, any other products are fine. But when you start horning in on the profits of the people who make music, that's a problem. Shirts, beanies, and hoodies are one of the last revenue streams that bands can still make money from. Every shirt this "metal lifestyle" blog sells is $24 that doesn't go to Pallbearer or the many fine artists of Hells Headbangers. (Not to mention, that's pretty pricy. You can buy shirts straight from Profound Lore or HH for $14-$17.)

I had the same issue a while back with someone who was posting in a Mercyful Fate group on Facebook. This person was making shirts that evoked images associated with MF and King Diamond, but didn't quite infringe on copyright. I called them out then, and I'm calling this guy out now. Though, I'm not doing it by name, because I don't want to send any traffic his way.

Don't support this kind of bullshit. Spend your black T-shirt money on the bands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Torche: Restarter (2015)

Undeniably Heavy

Not all that glitters is gold, not all that struts on seedy street corners is actually a woman, and not all that is heavy is brutal. Torche is undeniably heavy, but definitely not brutal. They’re not even dark. But I think you’re going to want to hear them anyway.

Restarter brings me actual joy—not that catharsis stuff, not the pleasure-through-displeasure of violent dissonance. Pure joy. And they do it while still satisfying that physical need for a thundering low-end.

It’s kind of weird to call it doom metal, or sludge, because there’s certainly no doom and no Louisiana swamp gas. There really isn’t an established genre name to cover what this is. These are simple, heavy riffs, mostly played at a slow pace (a few are faster). But they’re not all minor key, and they’re definitely not downbeat. Between the hooky melodies and the clean vocal parts, these giant slabs of metal are turned into pop songs. It’s a weird trick.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Studio Ghibli Drawings

OK, I promise this isn't going to completely transform into a poorly formatted stand-in for a Deviantart page. (Maybe I should sign up for a Deviantart, but anyway.) I still wanted to share some more drawings. I've found I really enjoy working with ink, and I'm slowly getting better at using it.

I fell in love with Studio Ghibli films more than a decade ago, and my kids and I were watching some of them over the past few days. I really love how this Totoro picture turned out. I think it captures the sense of wonder and joy the film so perfectly displays.

I'm also extremely pleased with this Spirited Away drawing. I did this one prior to the Totoro pic, and I think it's pretty clear I made some progress with my shading technique by the time I did the second one.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A work in progress:

The Lich and Pinkie Pie

I like to draw characters from shows that I watch with my kids. Here are the Lich (of Adventure Time) and Pinkie Pie (of My Little Pony Equestria Girls).

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Satan's Host: Pre-Dating God, Parts 1 and 2 (2015)

Power Metal That’s Not a Joke

Power metal is a joke. If you’re American, you’re probably going to agree with me there, and I’m guessing there are a whole lot of extreme metal fans around the globe that feel the same way. But then, there are exceptions to that rule.

Satan’s Host is exceptional. A few years ago they blew my mind with their blackened power metal, and now they’re back to do it again. There’s never been anything wrong with high-energy performances, soaring guitar solos, and dramatic clean singing. Never. What’s wrong with the rest of power metal is the cheese factor, and maybe even the particular feel-good metal vibe. Satan’s Host is not about to make a feel-good song, and it’s clearly non-dairy.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Negură Bunget: Tău (2015)


By weird coincidence or a mood I’ve been in lately, my last two reviews have been for albums in the folk/pagan/black metal spectrum, and I’m continuing that trend with this one.

Romanian band Negură Bunget continue to practice that Eastern European brand of the style. Om and Vîrstele pămîntului were the Eastern European counterpart to Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room: Cinematic, whole-album experiences that trade more on drama and dynamism than on individual riffs. Since I enjoyed those albums so much, I was pretty excited to find Tău in my inbox.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

At the Heart of Winter

It's -10 here; 30 in Bergen. Who's grim and frostbitten now? I just got home from walking the dogs. Three miles. 

I fucking love winter. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Panopticon: Roads to the North (2014)

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

If you haven’t heard Panopticon’s Kentucky, then stop reading this right now and buy that album. It is essential. A keystone of the present-day metal landscape, and a triumph. When you’re done absorbing that one, come back here.

. . .

Ready? OK. Now, Roads to the North isn’t quite the revelation Kentucky was. That brilliant interplay of traditional protest songs and Appalachian folk with blistering black metal is mostly gone. There is some banjo and fiddle action here, but it’s taken a back burner to epic black metal. Which is no bad thing.