Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Speculation Center--New Cut Your Teeth

This is Monsoon Cobra, and I'm about to be giving you a speculation money shot all in your face and hair!

*clip of me giving a thoughtful interview to Osama bin Laden*

Hello, everybody, and welcome again to The Speculation Center, where I, Monsoon Cobra, give you my best guess about what is going to happen.  Today's Speculation Center comes courtesy of an email that one Patrick Lukens of Cut Your Teeth sent me just hours ago, right before I started sipping whiskey and watching Breaking Bad.  Since I've watched my daily allowance of Breaking Bad, it's my journalistic duty to you, the two people who read this stupid blog, to let you know that HOLY SHIT CUT YOUR TEETH IS RELEASING NEW MUSIC THIS YEAR.

The newest cuts from my massive homebros and original party worms Cut Your Teeth will drop on December 30, 2011.  Last possible minute?  You bet your ugly girlfriend it is!  I wish that they had decided on a more apropos release date, since I already wrote the shit out of my 2011 best of the year list, but c'est la vie, to quote that Protest the Hero song that I like.

Pictured: Sam Katz and some bitches, doing Party Worm stuff.
So what should we expect from a new Cut Your Teeth release?

First of all, as I established in my first CYT review, the band solves mysteries, and their drummer is an anthropomorphic shark with a shitty sense of humor.  So this release will bring a lot of amusement park owners to justice, as well as bringing the Fucking Party Jams.  Second, Cut Your Teeth will begin to dabble in ambient soundscapes, forsaking anthemic jams like "Drink Beers" and "Stallion" in favor of something more layered and gay.  Hipsterism being so in vogue as it is, these are qualified as the new Fucking Party Jams.  Since Patrick Lukens is such a big shot in Asia due to his bizarre interest in Asian pop music, (I assume) he wrote a ballad for his Japanese body pillow/wife, Sachiko, and bassist Hartley Lewis insisted that there was a dubstep song produced by Skrillex on the album (I imagine).  Needless to say, it's sure to please anybody who thinks that some stuff is cool while other stuff is not cool.

Me?  Well, I've heard some of the new stuff, and I can tell you that it not only rocks and is ambient and gay, but that Cut Your Teeth will be our unequivocal masters of rocking the fuck out until the Mayan calendar destroys us later next year.  I'm just happy that CYT are releasing new material before I'm sent to Xibalba, where I will pay for all of the dick jokes and making fun in the Mayans that I've done.

But I'm not sorry.

Visit them here and see how much I've jocked them.  Or visit them here to listen to or download their music for FREE, without having to be a dirty criminal interwebbist for it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top However Many Albums of Whatever Year it Still Is

The end of the year is upon us, and I say it's about fucking time.  I've been battling what turns out to be the longest running minor head cold in human history, and I've been totally flaking on everything I do, from writing this pointless blog of mine to playing my guitar pointlessly to obsessing over Batman: Arkham City (which is far and away the best game of the year, and no, I haven't played Skyrim).  Indeed, my high-grade obsessive nature has been so co-opted by my lingering disease that it's turned me in to an apathetic turd man, lazing around on the couch, watching ancient episodes of Law and Order and getting pumped on Detective Lenny Briscoe's myriad wisecracks.

Pictured: Briscoe and Green being badass motherfuckers, in their standard fashion.
Additionally, all the piss and pomp has been drained from me by a relatively demanding work schedule and the fact that I'm so intimately involved in the process of moving our entire operation from our current location to a newer, bigger, more fantastic warehouse.  As such, I've been expending all of my creative efforts stacking inventory for the movers and concocting ever more elaborate reasons to not murder some of my coworkers.  It's a tough process that demands a great deal of my energy, so my idiot blog has suffered.  But since there are roughly two people who ever visit this site anymore, I think I should apologize to you by name: sorry, Dad and Ed.

My relative lack of posting and shortness of dick jokes hasn't stopped me from listening to lots and lots of music this year, though, and just like the rest of the Interhole masses, I've constructed a list of my top albums of the year, and have put them into an order that I felt made some sense.  It's pretty standard stuff, actually, if you've ever seen a list.  Now we all know that all of the Interbung music critics are going to be saying stuff like "2011 was a terrible year for metal" and "There wasn't that much good stuff happening this year" and a bunch of other stuff that translates to "I am a fucking douche bag."  But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this year has been fantastic for metal at large, and for the first time in years, I didn't have a clear cut favorite albums list, and was therefore forced to make tough, hard-reasoned, and--in the end--arbitrary decisions about what I would include on this giant list.

See what I'm talking about with the "lack of creative juices" thing?

So without further ado, here are the albums that I think were the best this year:


In what should come as no surprise to anybody who has ever read anything I wrote regarding my fanatical enthusiasm for Trap Them, their latest album won my Top Rated Super Lock Pick of the Year Deluxe award, given to the finest, crustiest, and most crushing album of the year.  If you haven't experienced this album yet, you are wrong and should have any children or animals in your home taken away by authorities and euthanized.  I'm sorry, that's just the way it is.

Exhumed almost usurped the top slot from Trap Them this year with their crushing and crusty brand of death metal.  Indeed, they inhabit the very essence of death metal, from the artwork to the subject matter ("Your Funeral, My Feast," and "I Rot Within" pop into my mind).  Exhumed may indeed be the ultimate death metal band; they tickle my D-boner in a way that no other band who plays diminished key guitar solos has done in years, and have subsequently reinvigorated my desire to eat entrails.

Anaal Nathrakh are the embodiment of aural intensity.  They're the sound of your horrible, violent death distilled into monolithic guitar tones and frantic, burning-witch shrieks.  I didn't know if they'd be able to follow up 2009's In the Constellation of the Black Widow (which was my Top Rated Super Lock Pick of the Year Deluxe of that year), but I closed my eyes and wished upon a shining star, and my wish came true!  Oh, the glory of it!  Anaal Nathrakh is not recommended if you are pregnant, have a heart condition, or are a pussy.  Please talk to your doctor before listening to Anaal Nathrakh.

I think it's safe to say that I've not been blown away by a black metal band so thoroughly in years, or maybe ever.  Blut Aus Nord play black metal that crawls with insects, all clawing horribly at their disgusting meat sack with their terrible pincers and things.  The year's most challenging--and rewarding--listen lies in wait in the nightmare that is 777 Sect(s).

How good can an album that is less than 15 minutes long really be, am I right?  Turns out, the answer is "really fucking good."  A nonstop orgy of frantic guitar riffing, whirling blastbeats and pterodactyl vocals, Orphan is a grind triumph of the highest order.

Revocation burst on to the scene a few years ago and showed everybody that awesome shredding is still cool.  A ridiculous mix of Children of Bodom style guitar wizardry and Dream Theater-esque progressive leanings ensure that lame shred nerds like me have plenty to think about while we jack off and change guitar strings.

Do you like crushing guitar tones?  Do you like pummeling tornadoes of blast beats?  Do you like when things FUCKING ROCK?  It turns out, you're a huge Rotten Sound fan.  Cursed sounds like the soundtrack to being mauled by a particularly angry bear, except it won't leave you alone when you play dead.  Also, don't climb a tree; Rotten Sound can climb faster than they can grind.

The technical death metal album of the year comes under the sage wizardry of Abysmal Dawn, who know how to level buildings with their awesome sound just as effectively as the worm monster that graces the cover of Leveling.  Whether it's a cascade of note-diarrhea or the lumbering crush of "Perpetual Dormancy," Abysmal Dawn show that it's actually possible to write cohesive songs as a technical death metal band.  And isn't that an achievement in and of itself?

Don't let the boring album art fool you; Ulcerate have carved themselves a unique sound from a monolithic hunk of Neurosis granite using a Gorguts chisel.  The Destroyers of All is an exhilarating listen, full of dissonant skronk, Earth-shattering heaviness and that certain something that my wife once described as "I can't listen to this.  Turn it off."

I've spoken at length with people who are longtime fans of Today is the Day, and it turns out that they don't like this album very much.  Me?  I think it's just dandy.  Forsaking the noisy grind standards of their back catalog, TItD have created something special that appeals to those of us who don't think that playing the guitar and allowing it to feed back endlessly are the same thing.  Excelsior!

Weekend Nachos--Worthless
The Atlas Moth--An Ache for the Distance
Lock Up--Necropolis Transparent
Protest the Hero--Scurrilous
Dream Theater--A Dramatic Turn of Events
Victims--A Dissident

Mastodon--The Hunter

1) Auroboros--Demo
2) Black Monolith--Demo EP
3) God Harvest--God Harvest Demo 2011
 Now, in accordance with the agreement I made with myself for finally finishing this super long post, I'm going to drink my expensive whisky I bought on Friday and play Mass Effect.  Later this week I'll be finishing my year end bullshit, if I decide to, which I probably won't.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Top Whatever Number Songs of Whatever Year It's Almost Done Being

After a long blackout, Mouthful of Acid is back up and running.  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, except the non-Americans, who might not even know that we celebrate the generosity of the native Americans that the pilgrims took advantage of shortly before slaughtering them for land and precious, precious gold.  It's a time of the year that is exemplary of all of the major American values, including eating, watching football, getting drunk, and (the next day, at least) shopping.  Mine was great, and as a red blooded American dynamo, I was the picture of what it is to be an American for the entire long weekend.  

Since I had Thursday and Friday off, I did nothing but eat, drink heavily, drive my mom's golf cart around, and regret doing all of those things after the blank periods where I would fall asleep on the couch and remain unconscious for nine hours or so.

And I also drove in a parade.  Or rather, through a parade.  What a weekend!

With the end of Thanksgiving, the end of the year is upon us; Christmas cheer is running high and I'm actively avoiding grocery stores and shopping outlets as much as I possibly can.  It's not the throngs of people attacking each other with pepper spray for a copy of Modern Warfare 3 (which they could have gotten if they just preordered it like a normal human being).  It's not the gaggles of squawking psychopaths out to make their family's Christmas as good as possible by purchasing them things because they don't ever do things for anybody else any other time of the year.  They aren't the problem.

No, it's the Christmas music.

There's nothing that I hate more than Christmas music; it's really a canon of music that only has about 15 real entries, and none of them are actually any good.  It's just the season that they're associated with.  The only thing that I can honestly say I enjoy as little as Christmas music is breaking my bones, which I've done plenty of in my time (ask my mom if you don't believe me), and thankfully I haven't broken as many bones as I've listened to Christmas songs.  So I've resolved to take a page from my uncle's book this year and avoid Christmas stuff until the last possible moment, take care of everything I need to do in a frenzied scramble, and show up to our family Christmas gathering smelling like marijuana to give my wife the gift that I just bought for her at the 7-11.

It seems to have worked for him so far, so I assume that it will be perfect for me.

The other thing that December brings us is the Blogmosphere's endless stream of Top [Number] [Musical Thing] of [Year] lists.  Not to be outdone, and especially since I've finally fully regained consciousness, I will be slowly releasing my Top Whatever Lists over the course of however long it takes for me to get bored of doing that.  So in that spirit, here are what I have decided to be the best fucking songs of whatever year this is.

1) All Pigs Must Die--"Sacrosanct"

This song has everything that you would ever need for anything, including D-beats, crunchy riffs, and Ben Koller.  This song dominated my playlists this year, and I would listen to it so much that the guy I work with who only listens to Atmosphere would tell me to expand my musical palette a little, for God's sake.

He's so high and mighty since he started listening to Weezer also sometimes.


2) Opeth--"Slither"
Opeth are the only band who could achieve what they did with Heritage; just think if In Flames did an all acoustic band, or if Cannibal Corpse suddenly decided that they were going to make an entire album that sounds like Frank Zappa.  That shit wouldn't work, but Opeth can do it.  And it doesn't just come out okay, either.  This isn't like when I cook dinner for my wife, and there's a bunch of disasters and a horrible mess, but the food is technically edible; it's more like if I made dinner and it turns out, whoops, I'm like Emeril, or that fat lady that everybody loves these days.  You know the one.  The crown jewel in Opeth's treasure trove of music is "Slither," a song which Mikael Akerfeldt himself declared to be "a ripoff of Rainbow."

3) Abysmal Dawn--"Perpetual Dormancy"

You know what I like?  Heavy metal.  You know what I really like?  CRUSHING DEATH METAL.  Abysmal Dawn wrote what was probably my favorite tech death record ever with this year's Leveling the Plane of Existance, and the first time I heard this bone-crushing riff, I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.  This song has everything you need in a death metal song, including the sick Morbid Angel-style "pulverizing slow riff."  I'm not allowed to listen to this in the car anymore, because my wife doesn't like the intensity, and also because I got distracted by how awesome the song was and ran over my neighbor's dog.   Whoops.

4) Today is the Day--"The Devil's Blood"

I've never been in to Today is the Day until just lately; I've explored their back catalog and decided that, as I've said before, I'm not a noise guy.  But their new material is decidedly less noisy and more powerful, and this song gets my fists pumping every time.  I especially like to think of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin giving people the Stunner when I listen to this song, because I don't do research, but I do know that Steve Austin is the name of the main man in Today is the Day, and I therefore assume they're the same people.  Which makes me frightened of Today is the Day.

5) Trap Them--"Damage Prose"

I'm a Trap Them superfan, and this song is so crusty and awesome that I'm all giddy thinking about it right now.  I don't have much to say other than that, and that I'll bet the track everyone else lists from Darker Handcraft (if they do a song-related thing like me, that is) would be "The Facts," which rocks, but not as much as this.  Oh, and I <3 Chris Maggio.

6) Protest the Hero--"C'est La Vie"

I love busy, wanky guitars.  I love Rody Walker's weird singing voice.  I love Protest the Hero, and this song is a great example of a song that is as legitimately catchy as it is structurally labyrinthine.  And the breakdown at about 2:05 always gets my heart pumping, and not just because the song is full of hamfisted references to suicide.  When Protest the Hero fly, they soar high, and there's no "too close to the sun" for them.  Here's the official video for the song, which I've never watched before.  Enjoy.


7) Exhumed--"Distorted and Twisted to Form"

Exhumed are a symbol of everything I stand for, including crusty death metal, D-beat slams, and pictures of zombies eating guts.  This song is the reason that I'm glad they came back from their extended hiatus and made an album.  If you had asked me if it was a good idea, I would have told you "No, if they came back and made an album, it would probably suck."  Well, Exhumed, you made me eat those words, made me eat them like they were made of guts and I was a cool zombie doing cool zombie stuff.

8) Dream Theater--"Lost Not Forgotten"

Speaking of wanky prog, it's Dream Theater!  This song not only has the best guitar solo ever, but that wank at the beginning?  Perfect.  Fuck you, I love Dream Theater.  But you should probably ignore the lyrics.

9) Anaal Nathrakh--"Who Thinks of the Executioner"

Holy fucking balls, the intensity that Anaal Nathrakh bring to the table is almost too much.  It's like the aural equivalent of that show Breaking Bad, where you can't imagine such intensity being kept up for long, but then it FUCKING IS.  The only downside to Anaal Nathrakh is that there's no Bryan Cranston, and I love Bryan Cranston.

10) Rotten Sound--"Hollow"

If there's one thing I can't get enough of these days, it's grind.  Sweet, sweet grind, and I think Rotten Sound is my latest grind obsession.  They do the D-beat that gets my D-boner to stand at attention, then they punish you with slow, crushing riffing before bringing the crust back.  And I love the crust, except the kind that's on my underwear, because it's hard to clean off and it eats RIGHT THROUGH THE RUBBER GLOVES OH GOD NOOOOOOO!

So there's my list of my favorite songs of this year.  Since I'm almost certain that nobody reads this crap anymore, I'm afraid to ask, but I will anyway: Did I miss anything?  If you tell me in the comments, I'll be...surprised.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Speculation Center--Lock Up is Not Coming to A Town Near Me

This is Monsoon Cobra reporting from The Motherfucking Speculation Center.  It's time to speculate!

*Montage of me turning around dramatically*

In the spirit of depriving me of things that I would or do really like, Lock Up has announced a North American headlining tour with Goatwhore and Strong Intention as support.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Lock Up, it's a super group consisting of Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates, Disfear), Shane Embury (Napalm Death, Venomous Concept), Nick Barker (ex-Dimmu Borgir and several other embarrassing projects), and Anton Reisenegger (whose name I can spell pretty well because I lived under the reign of the Governator for years.  He signed my college diploma!).  To further inform you if you don't already know, Lock Up kind of fucking rule, and with so many heavies playing all in one band, you'd be remiss if you didn't go check this out, unless you live in Texas, in which case you have a viable excuse for not going.

The Speculation Center news computer has compiled a simulation of what I assume will be going on behind the scenes on the Lock Up tour.  Here is a brief transcript:

Tomas Lindberg: "America sure is cool.  I wish I didn't live in Sweden or whatever, where I have free health care and a longer life expectancy.  I'd rather be subsidizing the huge bonuses for CEO's like my superior American masters."

Shane Embury: "At least while we're here we don't have to be subjected to Monsoon Cobra's awesome power.  I'm frightened of his raw energy and devastating good looks, which is why we aren't going to go anywhere that he can personally attend a show.  I've seen to that!"

[Everybody laughs a villainous laugh while simultaneously looking over their shoulders to make sure I don't come popping out of the shadows like a Fucking Boss, because I do that sometimes]

Anton Reisenegger: "If there's one thing that I like, it's depriving Monsoon Cobra of the opportunity to enjoy our music live, even though if we ever met we'd immediately be best friends."

Nick Barker: "Yeah, just like when I was in Cradle of Filth.  Right?"

[Tomas Lindbergs sighs loudly in response]

[End communication]

For those of you who aren't being persecuted by the awesome band Lock Up, tour dates are below.  Go check them out and tell them that I forgive them, but I've also got my eye on them.

Lock Up w/ Goatwhore and Strong Intention…
2/08 – Buffalo, NY @ Club Infinity
2/09 – Albany, NY @ Bogies
2/10 – Boston, MA @ Club Lido
2/11 – Montreal, QC @ Katacombes
2/12 – Tortonto, ON @ Wreck Room
2/13 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
2/14 – Columbus, OH @ Alrosa Villa
2/15 – Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
2/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Europa

Visit Lock Up on interbung:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All Pigs Must Die--God Is War

With the end of the year approaching, many bloggers such as myself are frantically scrambling to put together our year end lists that nobody will put any stock in whatsoever.  It's actually a lot of fun to do, because I get my friends on the phone and we gossip and giggle and talk about the most crushing releases of the year in our opinions.  We're all like "Have you heard the new Atlas Moth album?  It's soooo good, OMGz, it's like A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky but wayyyyy better!"  And then we all squeal and have a pillow fight and have Van Damned's mom order us a pizza.

And then with the experimentation.  But I won't get into that now.

On my quest to find the best and crunchiest music of the year, I have obviously been checking all the nooks and crannies to find compelling material.  Unsurprisingly, there's very little going on under my couch, but I did find the other XBox controller, which led to a five hour Batman: Arkham City play-a-thon, so needless to say, I've been more distracted with busting cartoon dudes as the Caped Crusader (or Nightwing, who is badass on the combat maps) than with listening to new material.  Thankfully, things weren't always this way, and I was on the ball for long enough earlier this year to immediately start listening to All Pigs Must Die's most recent album, God Is War.

One thing I respect about All Pigs Must Die is their adherence to extremity; you don't see a lot of "Jesus' head skewered on an inverted cross" pictures outside of the death/black metal sphere, and I wouldn't have expected to see it as the cover of a crust/grind album, but here we are.  In the true spirit of the hyper provocative (Pig Destroyer et al.), All Pigs Must Die have chosen not only a name that my mother wholly disapproves of (and she knows that I listen to Cattle Decapitation and 3 Inches of Blood), but they've managed to comingle that name with an album cover that my wife will never let me bring into our home.

She has a thing for anti-religious imagery that I have agreed to respect so that we can live together in harmony, and as if the inverted cross wasn't enough, they had to go using it as a pike for Jesus' head, making sure that if I ever bought this album (which I would really like to) and my wife found it, it would be unceremoniously thrown away, and then I would have to explain to her why I've gone backsies on our metal-related treaty.  In this scenario, she is Ricky Ricardo, and I'm Lucy, and I've got some 'splaining to do.


But damn it, I still respect their choice to be as over-the-top as possible, because that's what metal is all about, and the jarring image on the cover of the album is surprisingly highly indicative of the music that lies beneath.  God Is War is a crushing powerhouse of an album that starts off with a band and fires on all cylinders for the duration.  Dynamics take the form of "faster or slower" and there's no pitiful excuses for clean singing, which is just the way I likes it.  Sweet, pure, glorious fury fly from the speakers like that slime from Ghostbusters II, except you can't use it to make the Statue of Liberty walk around with a Nintendo joystick.  And don't think I haven't tried, because I've been trying to take the Statue of Liberty on a joyride since I was five.

And that's why I'm not allowed on Ellis Island anymore.

Ghostbusters-related digressions aside, APMD have crafted one of the crustiest and most crushing albums this year.  I can't get enough of it, and I'm hoping that they'll come out with a version of the album for pussy-whipped douches like me, with all-new cover art that won't force me to sleep on the couch.  I was thinking maybe a sleeve for the case that makes it look like a brown paper sack is taped around it?  Hit me up, APMD, because I'm kind of an idea man, and I want this forbidden tome very much.

And because I'm in such a generous mood, you should check this out, because it's possibly my favorite 3:17 of music that has come out this year.

Holy balls!

On a semi-related note, I'd like to write Ben Koller a love song called "Play Those Drums (Were Those Bangs You Had When I Saw You At SXSW?)," which will be about me and Ben Koller having a bromance.  I've got a version of it all mocked up right now, and it's about 19 minutes long, and that's before the extended space jam guitar solo I have planned.  So hit me up, Ben, because I need a drummer to play this shit live.

The Speculation Center--Kataklysm Win and Sepultura is Still a Band (?)

Welcome to another edition of The Speculation Center, where I, the world's best pundit and most foremost authority on Batman: Arkham City, bring you my best guess about what is probably going to happen relating to news about bands that I like.  This is Monsoon Cobra reporting from The Speculation Center War Room.

*Dramatic music*

It seems that Canadian death metal powerhouse Kataklysm recently captured the GAMIQ (from the Quebec Indie Music Awards) for "Metal/Hardcore Album of the Year" with their 2011 release Heaven's Venom.  Kudos are in order!  I've listened to this album a bunch of times this year, and I can say that I think there are more deserving bands, but I can also say that they probably aren't Canadian, which I assume is a prerequisite to winning a GAMIQ.  The consensus here at The Speculation Center is that Kataklysm's new responsibility to their fans is to immediately let this go to their heads, get a Mercedes Benz tour bus with a Jacuzzi on the roof, and show up to gigs and then immediately cancel them to go parasailing with movie stars.  Because they're award winners, they will accuse the President (it doesn't matter which) of not caring about black people, then start a line of upscale casual clothing.  The subsequent lawsuit for misuse of the Spongebob Squarepants character will only make them more powerful, until they inevitably burn out and lose their lives while on a drug-fueled trip to their Malaysian sweatshop.

There will be tiny sewing machines everywhere, and the world will mourn.  So congratulations are in order to Kataklysm!

On an unrelated note, Sepultura has found a new drummer, further taunting longtime fans who hope for the Cavalera brothers to reunite and do something Sepultura related again, thereby giving us all a reason to hope.  Instead of doing that, Sepultura have announced that drums will be handled by Brazilian wonderboy Eloy Casagrande, who won the Modern Drummer Undiscovered Drummer contest in 2006.  Check out this tasty drum solo here if you want to know if he's any good.

We here at The Speculation Center understand that the common opinion of this bold move is that Sepultura are robbing the cradle for a drummer, and have done a pretty damn good job of finding one.  The Speculation Center prefers to think that Casagrande is robbing the grave for a career, and has made a questionable decision in doing so.

This has been The Speculation Center, Monsoon Cobra reporting.

Visit Kataklysm:

Visit Sepultura:


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Speculation Center with Monsoon Cobra--Psycroptic's New Album

If you've been reading this blog for very long (and you probably haven't, because nobody ever reads this blog), you might remember a certain post where I basically begged anybody who might happen upon my blog to give me press credentials so that I can get free swag from record labels.  The good news is that somebody noticed, and recently I began getting press releases sent to me.  The bad news is that I still don't have any pre-release album streams or Black Dahlia Murder shotglasses or anything sweet sent to me.  Which is fine; I like to be in the loop as much as I can without having to every actually speak to anybody.

I like the faceless quality that the Interhole gives me.  It allows me to call Periphery "the worst band in the fucking world" without catching really any flak from it, no matter how hard I mean it (and I really, really mean it, too).

With my newfound press credentials from at least one P.R. company, I've finally got all the firepower I need to deliver you the most vital breaking news about bands that I care about whenever I feel like doing it.  Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to The Speculation Center!

*Dramatic music paired with montage of me turning to the camera dramatically*

Welcome to The Speculation Center, your one stop shop for all of the semi-breaking news about bands that I'm interested in when I don't have anything better to do, soft news puff pieces, and pictures of cute cats doing silly things.  This is Monsoon Cobra reporting.

 That's just crazy!

Today's edition of The Speculation Center focuses on Psycroptic, the down-under tech death troop, and their newest album, The Inherited Repression, set to release on February 7th in North America, and probably a different date for other nations that I don't live in.  Oh, wait, February 10th in Europe.  The track listing has just been released, and it looks like this:

1. Carriers of the Plague
2. Forward to Submission
3. Euphorinasia
4. The Throne of Kings
5. Unmasking the Traitors
6. Become the Cult
7. From Scribe to Ashes
8. Deprivation
9. The Sleepers Have Awoken

Now, I'm no big city lawyer, but I do know a thing or two about Psycroptic, and probably two other things about technical death metal, which is Psycroptic's bread and butter.  And here at The Speculation Center, my job that I arbitrarily gave myself is to speculate about things, so you'd better saddle up, because I'm about to jump dick first into some talking about the probable qualities of an album that I've never listened to.

First, the title The Inherited Repression is clearly a critique on Barack Obama's attempts to end the Bush-era upper class tax cuts, and thereby create the end of Western Civilization as we know it.  If the tax cuts were allowed to end, rich people in the United States would have slightly less money to spend on Formula One racecars and fancy cheeses, thereby making it harder for you to get a job.  Now I'm not saying that Obama is a reptilian alien, but he IS trying to destroy America, and his many lizardlike features make it hard to believe that he doesn't fly a Nazi flying saucer to his subterranean base underneath Antarctica.  And if you're accusing him of being a shapeshifter, well, I have to call bull on that, because everybody knows that reptoids wear holographic camouflage.  I assume that this album is about the repression that the richest among us will inherit if we allow the Barack Obama to destroy America by inconveniencing the rich.

The tracks "Become the Cult" and "Euphorinasia" are going to be real rump shakers, and will go over big at the hottest dance clubs, and "Forward to Submission" is the song most likely to be featured on the next edition of Kidz Bop.  Since this is Psycroptic's fifth studio album, I assume that means that they'll finally be getting back to their roots and will be incorporating the bagpipe and hurdy-gurdy heavy elements that I assume dominated their sound before they got signed.

It's going to be quite a showing from the down under wonderboys in Psycroptic, all right!  Congratulations, Psycroptic, you just got speculated all over!

*dramatic music*

Check out Psycroptic at these links:

This has been The Speculation Center. 

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

With the end of the year careening toward us like a Ford Explorer driven by that really old guy you work with, we all look to the skies in hopes that Quetzalcoatl, the mighty King of the Mayan Gods (maybe, I don't know, who cares?) is going to come swooping down on his fiery chariot to finally take sweet, sweet retribution for his people against the White Scourge, who conquered the continent on which I now reside.  2012 is going to be glorious.  With the rapture predictions all dried up, our last mortal hurdle before we can just go back to high-fiving each other and watching Jersey Shore reruns alone in the dark is the terminus of the Mayan calendar, which spells our doom.

Isn't it fun to think about?

Now that winter is finally upon us (not in Texas, mind you; it's like 75 degrees here), we all know that now is the time when we start making plans to avoid our families for the holiday season (I have to fly out to California to avoid mine, and even then I have to spend it with my wife's family instead).  But if you're a blogger/blog enthusiast/nerd loner like me, you also know that now is the time to start constructing your yearly "Top (number) (whatever category you're talking about) of (whatever year it's almost done being)" lists!  Oh, the glorious fun of judging people's best efforts to express themselves artistically by way of putting their efforts in numerical order.

In fact, the act of putting things in numerical order from best to worst is my favorite thing to do, especially when the subject of my rankings are something perfectly subjective.

Actually that's not true.  I mean, I do totally love giving things rankings.  I'm still trying to nail down the military ranking system so that I can make my favorite album of the year Rear Admiral or General of an army of albums which would be the best album's subordinates, so that Cephalic Carnage's Mislead by Certainty could command, with cool decisiveness, to send Bison B.C.'s Dark Ages to it's certain death for the good of the nation.  What glorious discipline they have, and a willingness to sacrifice!  But since I'm lazy and I don't actually care that much about enacting my stupid military ranking system, I prefer to just whittle my time away when things are slow at work by constructing complicated flow charts of albums that I've listened to this year of Post-It notes with crudely drawn penises next to the artist's name to indicate how much I like the album (bigger is better in this case.  Ladies, am I right, or am I right?)

I guess that what I'm really trying to get at in all of this is that I haven't been doing much lately.  Between bouts of combing my hair and playing Batman: Arkham City and watching Law and Order: SVU on Netflix, all I've really been doing is making lists.  Listing my favorite songs of the year, favorite albums, biggest surprises, biggest disappointments, best demos, best shows, and so forth, turning my desk into a hot pink (yes, that's my favorite color of Post-It) mess of band names and penises all pointing to the vertex of the diagram, which is a drawing of me with my mouth wide open, ready for whatever is going to fly in so I can consume it.  But what is most enticing?

I feel like Dwayne Hoover; my head swims.

I should mention that I've been reading lots of Kurt Vonnegut books lately, too.

What I'm really trying to say is that I'm putting together a festival for the end of the year.  I guess that's the announcement right there!  But since I don't know anybody, it's going to be at my apartment, and the musical guests will appear courtesy of Spotify and iTunes and my CD collection.  Come on down!  Admission is only $600 per person, and the music won't be played loud because I'm a good neighbor and I don't want to upset the Eastern European cab driver who lives next door to me because I imagine he's a really bad motherfucker.  You should hear his accent!  And if you need a place to crash, you can sleep on the floor next to my chinchillas.  They might like to make a lot of noise at night because their main source of entertainment is an old air horn I stole from some police boat, but they're also adorable.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I need some suggestions for things to listen to before the end of the year.  I don't trust other blogs anymore because of my increasing paranoia, and because I've taken to breaking into other people's apartments to primp myself in the mornings, leaving my computer too far away to find out what the guys at Metalsucks think of what the dudes in Ratt have been up to.

What an odd post; I'm going to put it up anyway, but I blame the fact that, while I write this bizarre string of nonsense for the Interhole to politely ignore, I'm listening to a Made Out of Babies album that I'm actually enjoying a great deal.

Suggestions for music to hear in the comments, please.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Moat at Emo's--Dillinger Escape Plan Live

Last Wednesday, I made a firm resolution to myself: I was going to get off the couch, turn off Batman: Arkham City, and leave my apartment for once.  It's been a while since I've been to a show, and that sad fact hurts my heart, but the cold hard truth is that it's really difficult to find the time to go out and hang with your crusty bros when you're busy moping and watching Futurama reruns, which are two things that I do very well.  But I had to leave the apartment for once, because I was starting to hallucinate the way that cartoon characters do when they're trapped together on an island, going stir crazy.  And the first time I saw my wife morph from woman into a roast turkey on a lavish platter, I decided that maybe I should get out and get some fresh air, maybe eat something.  I mean, it's not like we're actually on an island; there's a Chinese food restaurant like 20 feet from my apartment, and a Wendy's just beyond.

In other words, just because my clothes are tattered doesn't mean that I have to live the rest of my life like I'm stuck.

So I gathered up one of my metal chums from his American squalor (to be fair, he'd be doing great if he lived in Somalia) and we drove down to the brand new Emo's East on the east side of Austin to go behold the carnage that is a Dillinger Escape Plan show.

Emo's just recently changed locations from the homey dank of downtown Austin's Red River strip to what used to be something called the Backroom.  If you're like me and you've never been to the Backroom, you won't see what the issue is.  People who have lived in Austin for a while and have some memory of the Backroom, and those among us at the venue who remember seeing shows at the fabled Backroom chose to, instead of enjoying the show, meander around the venue looking bewildered, only taking pause from drinking their $2 Imperial 12oz to mutter "This used to be the Backroom.  Weird..." over and over again.  Those of us who have no memories of the former venue spent the evening wandering around, looking bewildered, and remarking about how Emo's is way too clean now.

Emo's used to be a very metal friendly place, with a giant, smelly pisstrough filled with cigarette butts in the bathroom and stickers with pictures of penises all over the walls.  It was a wonderland!  This new iteration of Emo's is an amazing place as well, but it feels perfectly foreign to us who have spend countless hours at the old location, where the audience could easily touch the performing band and were free to get kicked in the face by the performing band if you got too grabby.  I've seen it!  But now, Emo's has turned itself into a slicked up venue with hanging P.A. speakers and one of those fences in front of the stage, thus protecting the band from the audience and protecting the audience from fun.  When I first came wandering in and simultaneously noticed how amazing the place looked and how uncomfortable I was in a place that isn't splattered with blood and urine.

It's a beautiful and confusing place, and it wasn't destined to stay blood free for too long.

I only got to hear the end of the first band, locals The Brigade, and was impressed with the fevered passion that they played despite the fact that there were maybe 20 people paying attention, with the rest of us clustered around the merch tables talking shit about each others t-shirts and slapping five all around.  Many of us were getting done catching up when The Brigade finished up, and since I was busy talking about chocolate with Josh from Lions of Tsavo, I managed to keep from retaining anything about the first band other than the fact that their singer had a beard (I think).  So far, the night was a smashing success.

Lions of Tsavo took the stage second, and played a set that could only be described as "crushing," and "horrible for epileptics," what with Emo's new stage lights.  Boasting an interesting mix of Deathrash, doom, and Ulcerate/Neurosis-style angular dissonance, I managed to stave off seizures long enough to enjoy their set, and only swallowed my tongue once, and only partially, because I'm really bad with my esophagus after about two beers and a little dissonant skronk.  Kill the Client was up next, and though they were inexplicably given 45 minutes to play (to quote Champ Morgan: "I think they wanted us to play every song we've ever written"), they played a solid 19 song set, so after 22 minutes of raw power, they were done, Morgan having conquered the moat by simply leaping over it.  In the frantic kerfuffle that followed, somebody caught something to their face and proceeded to go get the bathroom into a state that more closely resembles an Emo's bathroom, splattering blood all over the floor and making it look like some kind of back alley abortion took place there.  Now it's starting to feel like Emo's!

As an aside, I'd like to point out how much I admire Brian Fajardo, who is not only a whirlwind on the drums, but manages to play an entire set of blistering grind without changing his facial expression, which can only be described as "what any normal person looks like when they're reading a mildly interesting instructional manual."  It's impressive.

Finally Dillinger took the stage, and their performance simultaneously reminded me why I love them and why I hate their other fans.  It was hipster city in Emo's after Kill the Client finished up, and the band looked like the kings of the hipsters.  The crowd was dancing to the beat, even though the beat is usually not a dancing beat, and when I say "dancing," I mean Dancing with the Stars dancing.  The mosh pit was a flurry of elbows and surprisingly well-choreographed tango routines shared between men with deep V-neck shirts and boat shoes.  Greg Puciato put on an amazing performance, full of acrobatics, crowd surfing, and cursing the Emo's moat, all of which he did while dressed like a stereotypical gay man.  Guitars were flailing and flying, swinging to and fro and proving that Dillinger is one of the most entertaining live bands there is, and their reputation for being a group of whirling dervishes is quite well-deserved.  They played my favorite songs ("43% Burnt" and "Milk Lizard") as well as some other stuff that I am pretty partial to, all things considered.  As I skulked out of the venue and warned my buddy that I wasn't going to bail him out of jail for taking a piss on the wall of a carniceria, I was glad that I got to make it out, and though my disorientation with such a new and slick venue was unsettling, I felt a little better after some guy got blood everywhere and my friend pissed just outside as the show's crowd milled around Dillinger's tour bus.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nasum! Nasum! Nasum!

Doing stuff in an alley, real tough-like.
Swedish grind mavens Nasum have been gone for years.  It's not a pleasant story, or even anything ridiculous that we can make fun of (like Mike Portnoy's departure from Dream Theater).  For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Nasum's late singer, Mieszko Talarczyk, tragically lost his life in the most metal possible way when he was swept away and killed in the 2004 tsunami.  The grind world wept for their fallen angel, and one of grindcore's best and most powerful acts abruptly halted all activity.  And understandably so, as Talarczyk was the lead singer and one of the principle songwriters for the band.  But, with a globe spotted with impending financial crises and the end of the Mayan calendar looming, at least one great thing is slated to happen in 2012 (I don't count the new Batman movie because, according to the X-Men and Spiderman movies, the third installment is slated to be a miserable failure): Nasum is still dead.  But the living members are teaming up with Keijo Niinimaa from my current grind passion band Rotten Sound to give Nasum a proper sendoff once and for all.


Tour dates haven't been announced yet, and we all wait with bated breath to see how far we're all going to have to drive to go see the show nearest to us.  Look for a frightened me lost in Houston or Dallas, the only two cities that could possibly pop up in Texas for show dates, unless Nasum pulls an Immortal and inexplicably plays San Antonio.  Then I'll be all like:

At any rate, I was so excited to hear this news that I decided that I would take a little reprieve from my coffee drinking and classical guitar playing (this tuxedo really chafes, though) to alert any weirdo who reads my blog instead of a reputable news blog, which is one guy whose name is Marty.  So there you go, Marty.

Go read the official press release on Nasum's website and get your dicks hard, because we're going to experience the shitstorm one last time in 2012.  And then the ghost of Quetzalcoatl will come flying out of Mayan Hell, I imagine speckled with smallpox, to destroy us all.  I, for one, am working on getting a sweet tan so that I can pretend to be a Pacific Islander or something in hopes that Quetzalcoatl doesn't know any better.  But I imagine he'll still be able to smell my white blood. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Today is the Day--Pain is a Warning

I know that I've been noticeably absent from the blogmosphere lately.  Allow me to explain:

I haven't had anything interesting to say in quite some time.

You see, my mind tends to work in a manner that could only really be described as having "an autistic child's focus."  Much like that autistic kid that lived up the street from you growing up, my mind is programmed to be a one-track vessel.  But instead of simply focusing on trains or vacuum cleaners for the entirety of my life, I have been known to careen back and forth between activities as my mood dictates.  For months I was hyperfocused on this blog, my mind a constantly reeling dick joke writing machine.  It was all I thought about, and though it is still a powerful presence in my life, my obsessive focus has reoriented itself at my classical guitar, compelling me to put gel in my hair and wear a tuxedo around my apartment while I give concerts to the dishwasher and take standing ovations from reruns of "Malcolm in the Middle."

It is in this frame of mind that I've been rediscovering some of my more pompous musical leanings that I've been neglecting for years.  Lately, in between spinning the new Exhumed album or relistening to Rotten Sound's latest offering, there have been appearances from guitarists Uwe Kropinski and Ulf Wakenius, prompting those around me to furrow their brows in befuddlement and engage me in what inevitably ends up as a conversation full of lofty bombast and harmonic analysis that means about as much to them as calculus-based physics questions mean to me.  And the only time that I'm not subjecting myself and others around me to my schizophrenic musical tastes is when I put on my ascot and take my fancy dog for a particularly dainty walk.

Me after taking my fancy dog for a dainty walk.  Not pictured: my toy poodle, Sylvia.

My attempts to be grandiose and fancy have translated into a certain cognitive dissonance for me, since it's hard to talk a big game about Vladimir Horowitz and his interpretations of Mozart's greatest piano hits or who plays Liszt best when you're sitting around, drinking Seagram's 7 whiskey out of a sippy cut, wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and talking to what you thought was your wife, but turned out to be a stuffed tiger sitting next to you on the couch.  I can't believe that I wasted my dissertation on Piazzola's tangos on that damn stuffed tiger!  But my capacity for pretension isn't boundless; not at all.  Because where there is noise, there is a boundary to my snoot.

I don't get noise.  For the uninitiated, noise is an extreme subgenre that basically is what it sounds like; it's one or more guys sitting around with a series of things and making them squall and moan and giving it the John Cage-style label of "acceptable music."  Noise is a scourge on the music scene, a tick on the belly of the galloping gazelle of musical culture.  Pretension and hipsterism run rampant in the noise scene, where "creating" and "performing" both come in the form of mashing a microphone into a Memory Man delay pedal while looking angry.  And my scathing indictment of pretension is not groundless, either.  I've got an accredited degree in music, and I've spent more time than I'd like to admit sitting idly around debating the relative merits of jazz music in today's internet-savvy culture, or dabbling in proto-noise by listening to "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" by Krzysztof Penderecki over and over while pretending that I like it.

Or perhaps you'd like to watch me construct some Babbitt Squares?

So being as snooty and pretentious as I am, I'm more than qualified to look down on college age hipster boners who are so in to making noise music.  Even as I type this, I'm sitting around in my extra bedroom in a tuxedo, only taking breaks from my pointless tirade against noise to clean my monocle or freshen up my Tom Collins.  But noise music is too much for me.

It is this spirit that I'd like to apologize to Today is the Day, and indeed all bands that have been inexplicably saddled with the "noise rock" moniker.  Perhaps there are bands that do indeed deserve the "noise" addendum to their genre assignment, but judging by Pain is a Warning, I never had anything to fear from Today is the Day.

What a fool I've been!  I feel faint!

I knew that my fears of being subjected to noise annoyances were perfectly unfounded from the moment I put on opening bruiser "Expectations Exceed Reality," and knew that (in my standard fashion) I had put unfair constraints on my listening during the punishing romp that is "Wheelin'," and was sold once and for all with the subsequent "The Devil's Blood" (which is a viable contender for my coveted Song of the Year title, given only to the crunchiest and most punishing jamz.  An interesting side note: I've never given this title out to anybody before, so you'll have to stay tuned to see which song reigns supreme in my meaningless opinion).  As the album builds ever skyward toward the closing "Samurai," the songs become more and more crushing, Steve Austin's static-laden snarl becomes ever more vicious, the riffs drone ever more hypnotically, and my frenzied punching the air becomes ever more distracting to my coworkers.  But if they don't want to be punched by me in a misguided show of enthusiasm for Pain is a Warning, they shouldn't have wandered into the bathroom in the first place.

If you've been missing out on this album like I have, take note that Pain is a Warning is a much more droning and expansive affair compared to earlier works like In the Eyes of God, but works to great effect.  Hearing such a powerful effort without having to rely on the standard grindcore practice of being cartoonishly concise is refreshing.  This makes me feel a little bit more like a man as I watch my fancy dog prance around my apartment on delicate little paws.

But I still don't like noise.

Addendum: After sampling some of Today is the Day's previous offerings, I can see where the "noise rock" tag comes from.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Exhumed--All Guts, No Glory

I think I've been having one of those quarter-life crises that people are talking about these days.  I think it used to just be a mid-life crisis, but with the speed at which information travels these days (because of Internets), more and more of us fresh-faced fellows are becoming aware of the fact that we've disappointed ourselves at an earlier and earlier age.  Did I ever think that I'd be doing what I'm doing, running both the shipping department for a successful networking hardware reseller AND an unsuccessful blog?  Unfortunately, I did think that, but it was more in a jokey "Yeah, right, one day I'll be the shipping manager where I work and I'll write dick jokes in unsolicited record reviews just to get attention."

And here I am.  Whoops.

It really could be a lot worse, I know.  I'm employed and my boss seems to like me, at least enough to ignore the myriad complaints about the music that I listen to.  And when I'm trying to play something accessible that nobody could ever disagree with, like the Red Chord, or Today is the Day.

Incidentally, I have no idea what kind of music normal people listen to anymore.

So my quarter-life crisis is in full effect, and it doesn't take much to send me into what I call a "perpetual motion mope spiral."  You see, information is disseminated so quickly over the internet now that we can be aware of our own imminent demise within minutes of Kim Jong Il's insane speech about America's War Against the Hamburger, wherein he vows to vanquish any and all foes of the charbroiled meat sandwich with great vigor and prejudice.  It didn't used to be so easy to be frightened and despondent.  And the worst thing about the Interbung is the memes.  I'm no conspiracy theorist, but about 95% of memes seem to be constructed for the sole purpose of making fun of me personally.  Look:

Stop judging me, penguin!
It's disheartening to learn that there's a joke penguin out there that makes fun of the things that you do.
But I remember a time when there was hope, when I was in my own death metal band.  We could have been great, and I wanted to make it work so badly, even though our drummer lived in San Antonio and the bass player wore pooka shell necklaces.  It was obviously doomed from the start.  But such fun we had playing crushing metal tunes in the soundproofed rooms of yore;  we would hold hands and talk about music and skip through fields filled with sunflowers, but not in a gay way.  It was totally br00tal and crushing, especially the hand holding.
So what's the point of bringing all of this up?  Aside from my need to be noticed while I sulk, I've been told that, if my band had more time to progress, we would have ended up sounding like Exhumed.
I was intrigued by this comparison, mostly because I had never listened to Exhumed before their latest release, this summer's All Guts, No Glory.  I have always wanted to be able to look into a crystal ball and see what something I might have done would sound like if I had the follow through and the resources to actually complete a project even once in my life.  I had to know what we would have sounded like!  The results astounded me; though I hadn't listened to Exhumed before, it turns out that I'm a huge Exhumed fan and was heavily influenced by them.

All Guts, No Glory far, far better than anything I've ever written, for sure.  Exhumed has melded the primitivist sound of ye olde schoole, br00tal death metal with modern recording techniques to make an album that slams and grinds with crystal clear fury.  The riffs are impeccable; guitarists Matt Harvey and Wes Caley careening between iron fisted brutality and fleet-fingered shred at the drop of a hat.  Standout tracks like "Your Funeral, My Feast," and "Necrotized," show the band's versatility, showing you that their sound doesn't just disembowel, that sometimes it merely delivers a merciless beating with a heavy shovel.  Either way, this is death metal at its very peak of awesomeness, and if you have any doubts about whether or not Exhumed are br00tal enough for you, just reference the album cover.

They eat guts!  Groaty!

2011 is a great year for metal, quarter-life crisis be damned, and I'm excited to have discovered Exhumed.  I could never hope to actually write and maintain a band of Exhumed quality, but it's fun to think about if I could.  We'd all drive around in our tour bus and solve crimes using our super powers, which is what I imagine Exhumed do (when they aren't on an extended hiatus, anyway).  Pro tip: It's always the amusement park owner.  Or the butler.  Sometimes the butler did it.
It looks like there's another contender for my coveted Top 10 Albums of the Year slot, and with All Guts, No Glory, they've made a compelling case.  Go find it; it's easy to steal, or if you're on Spotify, it's right there for the plucking.  Viva Exhumed!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Opeth--Live at Stubb's in Austin, TX

Not pictured: Opeth's current lineup playing live at Stubb's in Austin, TX.
I've talked to a lot of parents.  Indeed, as I travel down the crusty road of life, it's becoming more and more common for my peers (and even those many years my junior) to be fully grown adult humans with fully functioning genitals.  Not only that, but they use them to create little children, who run around and punch you in the balls if you're not paying attention.  It's true!  I'm still childless in this world (much to my wife's chagrin), and as such I have to learn about what it's like second hand.  I'm interested in it, don't get me wrong, but I'm more interested in it like how I like to learn about the day to day lives of Austrolopithicus, or perhaps a corporate shill in a business suit (I've actually learned what that's like firsthand, and I can almost guarantee that I'd prefer to live as an Austrolopithicus).  I have my friends with children regale me with anecdotes about the horrors and triumphs of child-rearing while I recline sanguinely and sip on any manner of beverage.  They tell me all about the hardships, and then I go home and stay up late playing Xbox 360.

It's not a bad way to live, really.

Most people tell me that having children is exhilarating and painful, disappointing and fulfilling beyond your wildest dreams.  Such a dichotomy of emotions is frightening to me, like scorpions or my smartphone (IT KNOWS WHERE I LIVE), and I've never had an opportunity to experience that kind of fulfillment that is coupled with bittersweet sadness.

Until I went and saw Opeth last night.

Before you get all weird and shit, yes, I consider Opeth to be a child of mine, and I believe that my attachment to Opeth is greater than your attachment to your ugly child.  Just let me explain.

I rolled in to Stubb's on Red River last night right around 7:30.  As a venue, it's a larger outdoor venue that is laid aside for bands exactly like Opeth: indie but popular, underground but widely renowned.  That rhymed!  In short, it's a big outdoor venue with a great sound system that holds several thousand people, but wouldn't be able to house an act as big as Gorillaz or Electric Light Orchestra.  I rolled in wearing my standard metal regalia, which is to say a 3 Inches of Blood shirt and shorts that were filthy from my day at work (we just got some stuff in from Borders that can only be described as "caked in unimaginable filth").  I was ready!  The first thing I noticed was that the sound guy was playing a Trap Them song when I walked in (it was one of the doomy tracks from the end of Darker Handcraft).  It was going to be a great night.

I had just enough time to grab one beer at the concession stand before openers Katatonia began playing.  I'll be short with Katatonia, because I've never been into their brand of goth-y, djent-y, just-slightly-too-heavy-for-radio sound, and though they sounded solid and didn't appear to disappoint their fans who were in attendance, all I could think of was "Well, now I've seen this," while I let out a long, exaggerated string of exasperated sighs.

It was fine, and thankfully they only did about 40 minutes.  I was giddy with excitement; when they were unveiling all of the onstage Opeth paraphernalia, the urge and the rhythm of life overtook me and I began to dance, slowly at first, with my arms and legs waving out a divinely serpentine pattern around me.  I picked up speed, and was quickly doing a frantic, full-force jig all by myself in the center of a crowd of people.  I snapped out of it only after having heard people shouting at me, saying things like "Cool it, dude," and "OPETH!"  When my mind returned, I realized that a concerned Samaritan had assumed that I was having some manner of seizure and had jammed their hand in my mouth to make sure that I couldn't swallow my tongue.  I thanked him and remarked that he should wash his hands more thoroughly after exiting the restroom, and the show started.

Opeth took the stage and started with "The Devil's Orchard," which I fully expected.  They continued through an interested mix of cuts from the new album, including "Slither," as well as some hot tracks from the old albums (namely, "Porcelain Heart" and the chorus to "Harvest").  They even threw in a really obscure track, choosing to play "The Throat of Winter" from the God of War III soundtrack.

Wow.  I didn't see that one coming.

Opeth is one of the greatest live bands you'll likely ever encounter.  All of the material is impeccably played, and Mikael Akerfeldt's voice is so spot on it'll make you sick for the suckers who need autotune on their albums.  And Akerfeldt's legendary onstage banter?  It was in full effect, broaching such hot-button issues as Mark Wahlburg, whether or not Houston sucks, how to get six pack abs, and Swedish things.  It was worth the price of admission by itself, and I'm not exaggerating.

Now here was my disappointment:

There wasn't a single song, a single moment, with death metal vocals.


As good as the show was, as proud and astonished as I was over Opeth's awesome power, they disappointed me by not playing a single one of my favorite crusty jams.  No "Ghost of Perdition."  "Deliverance," wherefore art thou?

If I don't hear "Heir Apparent," I'm going to lose my fucking mind!

None of them were played.

Now the issue is, would I recommend that people go to see Opeth on this tour?  Fuck yes.  It was incredible and ridiculous.  But don't be a sucker like me and hope that they're going to play any of their crushing-est joints, and don't expect anything off of Blackwater Park, either (except for maybe one chorus).  It was totally worth making the trek out to, and I'd do it again, even if I had to taste that dude's fingers all over again.  But like my theoretical child who is in to musical theater or gymnastics, I was disappointed by Opeth's choices.  But I hold out hope, because Opeth is possibly the only band in existence that has yet to shit the bed musically.  And if they keep going, I'm virtually guaranteed a tour in the future, when I'm old and gray, where they travel around playing what would qualify as their Greatest Hits, and I'll be right there, ready to finally see them play "The Funeral Portrait."

I still love you, Opeth.  It's just that your mother and I are a little disappointed.