Monday, February 28, 2011

Monsoon Cobra Gets Intimate with Burning Ghats

I started writing this blog just a few short months ago; you see, I had tied one on one night because I'm such a winner that Friday nights usually consist of 1) drinking alone and 2) falling asleep on the couch.  It's not so horrible as it sounds, mind you; sometimes I'll actually get the gumption to do something that I wouldn't normally do during these lonesome excursions into being quite drunk.  Shortly before Thanksgiving, I was anticipating the year's top 10 lists that were going to be dropping soon, and I decided, in a misled drunken haze, to write my own.  I published it on Facebook and it got a good response from people that I know who are actual writers.  They encouraged me to do this stupid blog, and in a subsequent misled drunken haze I took over the domain name.  And here I am.

But not being a writer leaves me at a distinct disadvantage.

You see, there are lots of things that I am not when it comes to this blog; I'm not a journalist, and don't propose to be telling anybody anything that could be construed as "news" or "actual information" or "not a fart joke."  I'm not a researcher, and therefore write off the cuff, shooting from the proverbial hip so that my writing style matches my lifestyle, which is to say it's crawling with half truths and things that I say just so there will be a continuous river of words falling out of my mouth.  That's the way that I do it.  Lastly, I'm not an interviewer; I don't really know anything about the process, and I don't have the technology to actually take down anybody's words in an accurate way.  I think they have something to record peoples' voices now, but I have no idea what they're called or where to get one, and I'm not leaving my apartment to find out.

However, I have, over the course of my Interbung writing time, gotten a handful of bands to agree to do email interviews with me.  Until just recently, none of them had ever panned out.  But then Burning Ghats sent me a reply to some interview questions I had sent them last month; better late than never, I guess.  So without any further ado (and keeping in mind I have no idea what I'm doing), here's my interview with Canada's Burning Ghats.

 For the uninitiated, who are you and where are you from?

Burning Ghats, From Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Explain the name Burning Ghats in excruciating detail for those of us who refuse to Google things.

[Nice try, but I'm still not going to google it.-Ed.]

The production from your guys' demo seems to differ quite a bit from the production of Fool's Gold.  What were your ideas on what needed to change going into the recording of Fool's Gold?  Was it recorded, produced and mixed by the same team?

A different band and different tunes, demanded a different recording technique. Oh and we were super broke. Wait until you hear the new one…it’s completely different again.

I clearly can't write interview questions very well.  With that in mind, do you guys have any plans for a new release?  Perhaps a full-length?

We just recorded a new 5 song EP last week.  If all goes according to plan, which it never does, it should be out sometime later this year.  Keep your ear holes peeled. 

The album artwork for the demo and Fool's Gold are awesome.  Who made those for you?

Our bass player Cam Strudwick is an artistic genius and not at all cocky.  You can procure his services here: He also answered these interview questions. 

Do Burning Ghats have any shows/tours lined up in the near future?

We play locally about once a month. We have some big plans for this summer, playing some festivals, hopefully crossing the border and going east as well.

As you can imagine, I've got an obscenely large following in the United States who hang on my every word.  Are you guys going to be able to make it to the U.S. so that we might be able to enjoy your live performance and yell slogans at you?

It’s quite difficult for a small band like us to get that far into the U.S., especially with your archaic border standards, but that being said, it’s definitely in the works. You guys have cheep beer right?  [It's cheaper than gasoline now.-Ed.]

I heard that Canada has some rules about really promoting Canadian programming on television and radio.  Did I just make that up?  Have you guys been able to take advantage of that for your own gains?  What was the best children's variety show you've ever played?

You might be half right.  There’s no way we could have been the 16th most played LOUD band in Canada for independent radio for the month of December 2010 without the intervention of some governmental support.  Stephen Harper loves to thrash.

Who handles the songwriting in the band?  Do you guys write as a unit, or is there someone who rules with an iron fist?

Colin and Kevin definitely do the bulk of the writing, then Chad and I come in and screw everything up.

I've never seen a picture of you guys, but I assume several of you have beards.  Whose beard is best?

Personally I like that weird wiry stubble that Kevin sometimes gets when he forgets to shave for 6 months, but Colin’s pure ginger facial sheen is hard to beat.  I think Chad had a bird’s nest in his neck beard one time; that was pretty cool.  I guess since I’m answering these questions, I can vote for myself as beard champion, ‘cause lightening bolt side burns are all the rage in Canaduh. 

I speculated about your probable influences on my dumb website.  Clarify for me who you guys count as actual influences and what Canadian metal d00dz are/should be into.

Of course, everything we do is completely original and has never been considered in the realm of musical possibility before us. That being said, Defleshed, Pig Destroyer and Converge seem to come up quite a bit at practice, and lots of our friend’s bands are just killing it over here. Oh yeah, and polar bears in toques playing hockey.

Give me some insight into some contemporary bands from your scene that we should all also be paying attention to.  Or do any of those actually exist?

I could go on and on about how awesome the underground bands are in Vancouver, but I’m sure I’ll miss someone.  Definitely keep an eye out for Memorial, Anion, Ancients, Silverback Gorilla, Impeders of Progress, Cooked and Eaten, Baptists, The Villain Avian Symphony, Tempest, and of course, me and Chad’s other band, Burn In Hell. 

According to my site traffic, you guys are the hottest new sensation on the Interbung.  How have I personally changed your life for the better?

The gift of focus through hate is the gift that keeps on giving. [I assume this means that they hate me, which is puzzling and acceptable.-Ed.]

Have you had any labels interested in you?  What is next for Burning Ghats in general?

We turned down Sony and Warner cause they wanted us to grow beards.  We’ve got some things in the works for the new EP…keep your dicks crossed.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my asinine questions.  Say something in Canadian for us American pig-dogs to marvel at.

Arguably an intrinsic human trait, mankind loves to organize, classify and create “the other”. This preference has, for the majority of human history, defined societal construction by a small number of naturally occurring and constructed classifications. Physical development in humanity’s earliest beginnings, through to family lineage, race and religion have all defined the organization of civilization and culture.  Escaping or molding any of these roles on a personal level has been virtually impossible and even with the organization of thousands still took decades or even millennia of development, evolution and strife to transform.  Just love, man. Just love. [I had this translated, and it means "Come on, baby, just the tip."-Ed.]

I'd like to thank Burning Ghats for their time and I look forward to hearing any new music that they can sling at us, so stay in touch, my Canadian Bro-Slices.

Go to Burning Ghats' Bandcamp page and procure yourself a free download of their Demo and the subsequent EP, Fool's Gold right here.  And if you're feeling saucy, there's a sweet new cassette comp available for the low low price of $3 that features many of the bands mentioned above.  Support metal!  Or wait a couple days for when you can steal it.  Whatever.

Friday, February 25, 2011

3 Inches of Blood--Fire Up the Blades

In my work life, I am forced to become another man in order to keep from alienating my coworkers; so that they are not driven to insanity, I am forced to leave my crunchy, crusty tastes at the door and deal with listening to hip hop, bubblegum pop rock from the 60's, and worst of all, the scourge of all music, reggae.  You see, like most reasonable people, I sit quietly and deal with whatever music is playing around me whether I like it or not.  But God forbid somebody walks back into the shipping area while I'm alone, when my iPod is cranking out the choicest tuneage from the crustiest death metal, hardcore and grind bands the world has ever known!  The complaining starts immediately.  "This is lame," they say (translation: "I'm frightened of your awesome power and sweet taste in music").  "Put Bob Marley back on," they say (translation: "I'm white and want my poor taste to appear eclectic.")  "Why do they scream so much?" they say (translation: "I'm a man with a vagina.")

But, just recently I've found the solution; a solution so ingenious that I feel horrified at myself for not having been so clever in the past.  It keeps everybody happy and allows people to enjoy The Heavy without being able to complain about their vaginas being irritated with the horrible screaming gentleman on the speakers.  That solution: Motorhead Radio on Pandora.

Pandora is a great tool to have at work because, if you're like me, your iPod appears single-minded to the casual observer (it seems that nobody can tell the difference between Morbid Angel and Between the Buried and Me without having a sharp ear).  So we find something that is middle of the road, that nobody will immediately object to, and rock that shit indefinitely.  Motorhead radio has it all: Maiden, Metallica (from their first four albums when they were so, so good), Megadeth (who I never much cared for but who always have the sweetest guitar solos) and Priest, among others.  It's wonderous to me how old Metallica is somehow universally enjoyed--or at least tolerated--by even the least tr00 among us, and everyone is happy.

This plunge back into the olde days of metal has been making me long to listen to some of the stuff that I either used to like or that I have liked forever but no longer have the gusto to listen to.  3 Inches of Blood fall into the latter category for me; I've loved this band for so long I can't remember a life where I didn't have some retarded shirt with a viking on it to wear to shows.  What a ride it's been...*start flashback*

Nick picks up Andy at Andy's house in Bakersfield, California.  Nick, a precocious scamp with big ears and goofy glasses, sits in his new car, a 1991 Toyota Corolla.  Andy enters the passenger door.

Andy: What up, dude?

Nick: Nothing.  I just found this music by this band called 3 Inches of Blood.  They're like a novelty band that takes itself completely seriously.

Andy: That sounds retarded (Andy brushes his ridiculously long hair out of his eyes with a look of scorn that only a high school student can bring to his face)

Nick: I know it sounds like that, but listen to it.  (Nick puts in a dubbed cassette tape--an archaic technology even at this early time--into his tape deck.  "Destroy the Orcs" from the demo tape of 3 Inches of Blood pours out of the speakers)

Andy: Radical!  (Just then, the two are greeted by a strange gentleman at the driver's window)

Some Guy: Hey dudes!  Surf's up!

Andy and Nick (simultaneously):  Cowabunga!

And then we went to a beachfront sock hop.  And that's exactly how it happened with literally no exaggerations.
 "Hopefully these girls will go steady with us.  I'd really like to get Marcia pregnant!"

Fire Up the Blades is 3 Inches of Blood's strongest effort.  Though I instantly fell in love with the over-the-top fantasy of their first album, Advance and Vanquish, they tone down the fantasy for Fire Up the Blades, resulting in a far better album from start to finish.  Additionally, they ramp up the double bass attack and provide their most aggressive album performance, especially when compared to the relatively anemic Here Waits Thy Doom, which is the first album without second singer Jaimie Hooper.  And he is sorely missed.

If you've skipped out on listening to 3 Inches of Blood, you're missing out on one of the maybe four bands in recent history that can fully pull off clean vocals, and you're being a dork.  Don't be that anymore!  Follow your nose to where the Night Marauders hang out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Must Retract

As to my previous post from yesterday regarding the band Nails, I have regretfully made an egregious error in my writeup.  For this I must apologize to my family, my friends, God, and Barack Obama; being wrong about a tiny and inconsequential detail of a person whom I've never met's life is truly horrifying, and as a conduit for the truth, I do hereby vow to never make such a mistake again.  I must, in this hour of shame, reluctantly point out that I am not a journalist and have never presented myself this way; I merely present my opinion in a spicy and interesting way for the edutainment of others (in other words, I'd be a journalist by Fox News standards).

But this is unforgivable.

It was pointed out to me that, in my article, The Artist Formerly Known as the WZA'd asserted that Todd Jones from Nails is an officer of the law.  It was later pointed out to me that this is not the case.  I am no rumor mill, and though I have no journalistic integrity, my position as the Official Conduit for Truth and Boner Jokes forces me to retract the statement in question.

Todd Jones ain't no copper, son.  He is in no way affiliated with law enforcement.  I repeat: Todd Jones isn't an undercover police officer sent to infiltrate the grind scene to find out about nefarious grind-related crimes.  He doesn't drive an unmarked police car.


In my quest to present you, the reader, with the truth, I have found that Todd Jones is, in fact, since it was for some reason such a big deal, a beekeeper.  That's right; he lives on a bee ranch in Modesto, California with his four chihuahuas.  He raises bees to harvest their delicious honey and sometimes gets a honeypot stuck on his head.

I apologize for the confusion.

I'll be back to posting tomorrow when I finally get the taste of internet nerd drama out of my mouth.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nails--Unsilent Death

I talk a lot about my friends on this stupid pointless blog of mine, don't I?  My friends are important to me, though; they keep me from hanging out exclusively with my wife, which is good because then she gets a break from my myriad earthy odors and saucy turns of phrase.  And then she doesn't murder me in my sleep!  It keeps her sane, and it helps me by giving me the opportunity to make abortion jokes, conceptualize pornographic video games, get grim, and generally feel less like the weirdo shut-in that I'm quickly evolving into.  One of my favorite friends to talk about is the Artist Formerly Known as the WZA'd; he makes it easy.  He's always saying interesting things that make my head feel like it's going to explode, like "I'm really into this noise 'zine lately," and showing you a 'zine full of black and white pictures of dudes mashing microphones into guitar distortion pedals.

I was over at his swinging bachelor pad a couple of weeks ago, and we were getting down with some tasty tuneage, which is our normal fashion.  After enduring the excruciating strains of Winter and assorted other sludge bands, I hijacked the DJ position and started playing some cool grind.  This is where I first heard Nails.  Nails is totally sweet, but being a college student, the Artist Formerly Known as the WZA'd was quick to point out how over Nails he had become.  "Why?" I asked.  "This sounds totally up your alley, and it rules in general."  He looked at me with the disdain that only a second year college student who has decided that he knows more than everybody can conjure and said "Because the singer is a COP, dude.  A COP!"

WZA'd (imagined) "Fuck tha po-LEESE"
 WZA'd (actual) "Playing D&D will make me a better video game designer!" *Retainer falls out of his mouth* "Oh no!  My mom's going to kill me!"
We argued for a while about whether or not this made any difference, and in the end, neither of us were convinced of the other's argument.
But Nails, whether or not they could be deemed less tr00 than their grind peers because of the singer's chosen profession, are great.  They bring The Heavy and stroke my raging D-boner with an intensity that can only be matched by my morning bowel movement.  And that's really intense, like driving a Hyundai Accent through a Burmese rice paddy while soldiers place bets on which landmine you're going to trip.  Nobody should ever have to do it, but I take the bullet for mankind.  I'm just that kind of guy.

Such glorious heaviness and raging vitriol spewed forth by Nails reminds us that, though police officers are sworn to protect and serve their fellow man, they don't have to be happy about it.  In fact, I would argue that a police officer would have far more of a right to this kind of whirlwind fury, considering they spend most of their time either dealing with mundane annoyances (like noise complaints) or bearing witness to the most horrifying things that humans can do to each other (like a neighbor chopping a victim's head off over a noise complaint).  Let him scream, I say!  And just because I'm supporting police officers here doesn't mean that I'm not terrified of them (which I absolutely am); I'd just rather have this dude making great grind than planting drugs on my person after catching me jaywalking.  It's just better for me.

I was going to post a link to a mediafire download, but since I'm terrified of a law enforcement official somehow finding out that I'm aiding people in stealing his music that every normal person hates, I'm not going to do it.  But it is easy, so check it purchasing it through a lawfully-designated outlet...for America.

I can't go to prison!  I'm too pretty, and also I'm kind of a pussy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

What the Fuck?--Volume 1--Maruosa

I don't get to spend very much time outside of my apartment anymore.  Long gone are the days when I had bros that I could call up on a moment's notice to go out and hang with.  Though there are certainly worse fates than escaping the meth-addled Central Valley of California, the land of a million asthmatics, I sorely miss the days when I didn't have to come home and watch my lovely wife pretend that she's happy to see me.  It used to be that I would go out after work, and when I came home she actually was interested in seeing me, but not anymore. 

I guess we're becoming more and more like the old couple from that show Everybody Loves Raymond.  My wife's all like: "You're stupid and fat.  Stop that."  *Laugh track*  Me: "I long for the sweet, cold embrace of death to take me from this place." *Laugh track* Cue Ed O'Neil, let the audience applaud, and cut scene to the next zany thing that the main characters are up to, probably at a hardware store.
"I wish my wife would just shoot me in my sleep already!  Or at least bake a cake!"

However, I managed to break out of my normal routine of hiding from everybody to step out of the apartment last night and convene with the Artist Formerly Known as the WZA'd at his hip condo.  I like going to the Artist Formerly Known as the WZA'd's condo for many reasons, particularly these three: 1) I get to swear and make horrible jokes with complete impunity, 2) there are lots and lots of college girls running around to make me feel like a sleazy old man, and 3) because the Artist Formerly Known as the WZA'd always has some bizarre new music thing to show me.  And last night didn't disappoint, either; within minutes of my arrival, we had participated in the above three activities, as well as having a surprisingly drawn-out argument about whether or not Metroid, as a game franchise, is better than The Legend of Zelda (it's not!  FUCK YOU, WZA'D, IT'S NOT!).

The high point of the night came when he showed me the latest piece of swag he had managed to collect from his usual rummagings in the music world.  This came in the form of Maruosa, which is the subject of my new segment, What the Fuck?

Let me break this down for you: Maruosa is a break-beat grind band from Japan.  In the normal Japanese style, they took something that isn't even normal to begin with and made it stupendously weird.  Enter break-beat grind, a fantastical world where programmed drums lay the foundation for all manner of sped up guitar riffs, screaming vokills and what generally sounds like the bleeps and bloops that computers made on spaceships in science fiction movies from the 70's.  The music is very strange and, even by my ridiculously high standards, pretty unsettling.

However, you haven't experienced Maruosa until you've seen the videos they make to accompany this robotic clusterfuck music.  Holy shit.

This is where things get really weird with Maruosa; though the music sounds like something only the Japanese could possibly have come up with, the music videos look like scenes taken from the mind of a schizophrenic epileptic that the other schizophrenic epileptics in the ward refer to as "that one fucking weirdo."


Holy shit.

It's a lot of fun to watch.  I, for one, kind of pride myself on being a little bit of a conoisseur of bizarre entertainment (though I'm pretty out of the loop not having cable and having spent the greater portion of my time obsessing over this stupid blog of mine), so on that level this appeals to me.  However, I don't think it would qualify as entertainment for most people, like what the police officer told me about my performance art piece I put together for my apartment complex.  Now I know that you're not allowed to paint in the nude on your balcony while perched on top of a pile of rotting meat you stole from the dumpster at the grocery store, even if it is to show support for Libya.  Viva Libya!

In my normal fashion, I've done too much talking, especially when one of Maruosa's videos is available for easy consumption.  Be forewarned: you probably aren't ready to see this, and if you are epileptic, don't watch this video.  And if you aren't epileptic, this might make you epileptic.

Oh my God, right?  Like, what the fuck?

Check out Maruosa on the newfangled grind label Grindcore Karaoke, which WZA'd won't shut up about lately, and buy the record if you want to see the videos that I saw that make this one look perfectly  reasonable.  Or go here to stream and buy the new record, Exstream!!! Or something.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect Riff

A well-known portrait of the first black metal frontman, from Picasso's highly ignored Grim Period.
I don't think I have to tell you about riffs; if you're looking at this, you're probably either a) into metal or b) my dad (hi dad!).  Everybody is familiar with tasty riffage, even if it's only in the most superficial or oblique way.  In the interest of full disclosure, I must make it clear that I myself am a guitar player.  I am mediocre and unaccomplished in every conceivable way.  However, this fact does not stop me from questing for the Holy Grail of metal, the Arc of the Covenant of music, the perfect riff.  In my search for the best riff ever, I've uncovered some real turds, and have channeled into my fingers pure generic auditory vomit that even offends me, the inept, well-meaning creator.  However, I have also managed to put together some stuff that I was actually proud of, which I for a short time tried out with my now-defunct (and never actually active to begin with) band.  I don't normally plug my own stuff like this, but we aren't a band anymore and I was actually reasonably proud of some of it, so who gives a shit, right?

But please don't butcher me in the comments (at least for that).

With that out of the way, I've had riffs on my mind for the last couple of weeks, floating through the ether the way that I imagine I will once they find me dead on the toilet and use technology to launch my bloated corpse into space (I harbor delusions of Elvis/Spock grandeur in addition to my many odd obsessions).  I was walking to the train today and I had the impulse to put together a playlist that contained only the songs that gave refuge to my favorite riffs, and the thought occurred to me that I would share them with you, my faithful reader, who will give a halfhearted eulogy at my orbiting space funeral that gets cut short because Terminator robots have breached the outer hull.  You have to trick the Terminators into walking into a volcano or humanity will be forever enslaved!  Who will be the hero?!
 "I'll be happy to save you all, but beware: I'm probably going to fuck one of your guys' wives in the process." *Cocks sawed-off shotgun using only one hand and the force of gravity*
It's going to be quite a funeral, all right.

Defining the perfect riff is difficult because the riff can take so many forms.  They can be melodic, chunky, non-melodic but totally shreddy, and probably other kinds of riffs, too.  But those ones are stupid.  Since death metal riffs are highly disparate from hardcore riffs, so comparing them is like the highly cliched comparison between apples and oranges.  Luckily, I'm really fucking good at comparing two things that aren't alike at all and giving them arbitrary grades and/or placements on a given list.  And it's fun too!

My first submission into the forum for the perfect riff comes from Baroness, from the song "Isak" featured on their sublime Red Album (observe this motherfucker).  Baroness are really good at writing riffs that have a ridiculously amorphous character to them.  Is this some manner of Southern Rock?  Why aren't there Confederate Flags and chewing tobacco spit all over the place?  They're pretty hard to peg down, but that hasn't stopped music critics (like myself) from inventing genre tags to slap on them so that Baroness can be easily dropped into their proper place in our iTunes library.  For the best possible example, the main riff for the song starts at 0:54 and lasts until about 1:21, and it totally rocks.  Notice the vocal interplay and the groove.  Notice how fucking heavy that riff is.  It's nearly perfect in every way.

The next candidate for Perfect Riff is from "A King and A Thief," found on Misled By Certainty by Cephalic Carnage (crush it).  The riff in question starts at the 1:43 mark.  Oh, you say that sounds gay?  How does it sound at 1:55?  Awesome...I see.  Now how does it sound at 1:57?  2:00?  2:03?!?  This riff is so ridiculously creative with the harmonies it employs that it makes me angry at myself, because I would have never thought of it.  The way the harmony appears and then collapses on the melody is astonishing.  It sounds like me imploding after an evening of alone drinking in my den, slowly crushing myself into a quantum singularity (I do this every Friday night.  The only downfall to this riff is that it's too short a time before it's gone forever, though I have no idea how they could have possibly kept it going for any longer.

A riff list would be nothing without the mighty Meshuggah, and the riff I'd like to bring your attention to is quite a doozy, too.  From "New Millennium Cyanide Christ" on the album Chaosphere, starting at 0:25 seconds, is the single heaviest riff ever created by mankind (take a gander).  In the interest of fairness, Chaosphere holds a special place in my heart.  Prior to being given a burned copy by my good buddy Ed, the only Meshuggah I'd ever heard was Catch-33, Meshuggah's career low point.  I know I'm going to catch a lot of flak for saying that, but it wasn't really that good, and compared to Meshuggah at large, it sucked.  Anyway, Ed was on a suicide mission of mercy; he had heard me in the midst of a diatribe mention that I had heard Meshuggah was amazing, and so I went and bought this album (Catch-33) that totally bummed me out.  Ed knew, though.  With a knowing glint in his eye and a reassuring smile, he told me to just listen to this one and see what I thought.  I'm glad I did, too, because Meshuggah taught me that originality exists for those who are inspired.  Except not anymore, because now there are a million bands on Meshuggah's Djent jock, and they should all go away and leave me to my nostalgic ramblings.

One of the newer additions to my list of "most favorites" is from a band that I've been rambling about willy-nilly for some time now, called Cut Your Teeth.  I've been fawning over them for quite some time now, and it's because they totally rock balls.  But riff-wise, there isn't very much that gets my motor running the way that the main riff for "Drink Beers" does.  I've already predicted this song for the Song of the Year Grammy (spoiler alert: my prediction was wrong and Cut Your Teeth were snubbed entirely), and it's because of that slippery, bone-splintering riff that starts at 0:06 and continues steamrolling through the entirety of the song.  "Heavy" is a word; if you want to hear the sound, go hear the riff that I'm talking about here.  And download it and buy a shirt or something.

The last riff I want to nominate comes from "Ghost of Perdition," by Opeth (here).  From their Ghost Reveries album, this song is about 10.5 minutes in heavy metal heaven.  The great thing about this song is the main riff that begins at the 0:07 mark.  Opeth, prior to this, would generally write riffs in a clean phrase pattern usually consisting of 2 to 8 bar phrases.  We all loved those riffs.  I mean, who among us doesn't like Blackwater Park?  If you said "me," then fuck you.  You obviously don't like things that rule, and you probably thought Joseph Stalin was a misunderstood underdog with a heart of gold.  And I say that without even a hint of hyperbole.  Anyway, this song really brings the 16 bar phrase into Opeth's riff vocabulary, reappearing on their subsequent album Watershed on the verses for "Heir Apparent."  As it turns out, Mikael Akerfeldt can sing, write stupidly long songs, and riffs that make us plebeian n00bz look like a bunch of chump-ass tricks.

Who which riff is perfect?  The answer is easy: all of these riffs are perfect in different ways.  But which one is the most perfect, you ask?  Well, now you're asking me to rank them in order, which, though I'm good at doing so, ranking them would be an expression of my personal taste and would only be opinion.  But since my opinion doubles as fact, here are the top 3: Opeth, followed by Cut Your Teeth and Cephalic Carnage.  But there are so many more riffs to explore, and my hands are getting tired from all the off-jacking I've been doing fishing out all my favorite riffs to share with you.  That said, what are your favorite riffs?  What riff would be considered perfect by someone who doesn't have the ultimate and final say on the matter?

Let me know what I missed or was too stupid to have thought of/ever even heard of in the comments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Clinging to the Trees Of A Forest Fire--Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation

My grind kick that I've been on lately has, I believe, stemmed from a deep malaise that accompanies being a gigantically tall, increasingly heavy, aging American male.  The drudgery of American life is hard to deal with; though we have a much higher standard of living than literally anybody on the planet anywhere for any reason (except Norway and probably several other countries that aren't attempting to rip themselves apart from the inside out), our lifestyle comes with the inevitable realization that we live for the sole purpose of getting stuff.  And not good stuff either.  I'm talking about greenbacks, son.  Cash dollars.  Benjamins.  [Other colloquialism for the U.S. dollar]. 

Take me, for example.  I walk into work every day, on time with my collared shirt and coffee breath.  I clock in and, for no less than 8 hours, I stuff boxes with things that people have purchased from us so that I might line the pockets of my company's owners, and so that those profits might trickle down through the ranks, finally ending with me having sold time for my paltry wages.  I actually like my company, too; they treat me like a human being and not some manner of bionic horse that has been designed to bring somebody items that your company supplies they have suddenly deemed "necessary" whenever they feel the time is ripe.  Which is usually right after a solid 11 hour day, but right before you sit down to dinner (God I hated that job).  But the terrible single-mindedness of corporate work makes me realize that sometimes I'd like to be living in a tree, peeling bananas with my feet, unafraid of touching my own feces with my bare hands so that I might fling said feces at those who would dare to intrude upon my bananas.

To combat this feeling, I have classically sat in a darkened bathroom, taking a fully-clothed shower in complete silence.  I have had to amend my approach, however, as this behavior is highly conspicuous to my wife, who thinks that pitch-black showers with all of your clothes on is "frightening."  Then I tried eating things I found on the floor, but this proved difficult after my near-immediate realization that everything on the floor tasted like the bottom of a shoe.  And the bottom of a shoe isn't as delicious as it sounds.  And yes, I realize it doesn't sound delicious at all.  Now, I simply sit at my desk and mash my face against my computer keyboard until a funny picture of a bear or a man getting hit in the genitals pops up on screen, allowing me a few scant seconds of shutting off my brain (except for the part that goes "Ouch!  Right in the balls!") before I start obsessing over who is or is not trying to communicate with me via email, Facebook, Skype, or any other socializing tool that I don't use nearly as much as my obsession might indicate.
"Ouch!  Right in the balls!"  It never gets old, either

Luckily for me, Clinging to the Trees Of A Forest Fire's music is made for poor bastards like me.  And luckily for Clinging (which is how I will refer to them considering their stupidly long name), guys like me will rabidly consume music that is plump with hopelessness and disdain for human life until they are inevitably institutionalized and forced to take medication.  After all, it's much easier to pop a pill that alters your brain chemistry than to have the people around you try to understand and tolerate you.  But when you use whiskey to achieve the same effect, you're just drunk!  I can't figure it out.  But this is why Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation works so well for me; if you've ever been sitting around in a pit of self-loathing, thinking "I wonder what the kind of music that would most effectively frighten my grandmother?" well, good news.  I found it.

I first encountered Clinging shortly after my initial encounter with Withered.  They came highly recommended by Withered through their Myspace (which was the prior form of social media I had an unhealthy attachment to before Facebook and this retarded blog), so I naturally checked them out, having been so smitten with Withered's Folie Circulaire.  That shit was crazy, and I was naturally unsettled, because there isn't very much around that is as cold and stark as Clinging's massively abrasive grind assault.  It's the sound of a belt sander that somebody sprayed with liquid nitrogen before mashing it into your face.

And it's awesome.

I know grinders out there who are always looking for the next gnarly thing (I'm looking at you, The Boner Formerly Known as the WZA'd), and if you haven't heard this yet, you're missing out.  It's probably not dirty-sounding enough for the standard grind enthusiast, but I think the relatively high production value gives the album an unsettling atmosphere.  This doesn't hide underneath raw production; Clinging are showing you a 15-megapixel photo of a mutilated corpse on an HD television and asking you "It's pretty gnarly, right?"  Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation is the musical embodiment of the sound that whirls around inside my head when I'm not distracting my waking mind with flashing images on some manner of screen.  Or ping pong.  Ping pong is pretty effective too.

So, for the self-loathing grind enthusiast, follow your nose and check out the music; or, if you're feeling saucy and want to buy it the way that I did, go to Prosthetic Records' website and buy something, you pig.  It's awesome and, even by my relatively high standards, pretty goddamn scary.  But in a good way, like when you find out that your wife played a joke on you by saying that she's pregnant, and you're just relieved that it was all a joke and you don't have to push her down any stairs.  She's a real trickster, and now I don't have to commit any crimes!

Because I'm anti-abortion.

Yes, I think abortion humor is funny.  So sue me.  Also, don't ever google-image search "anti abortion posters" unless you want to see some really unsettling stuff. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

50th Post--An iPod Retrospective

Recently I had to stop what I was doing and clean house.  There was shit everywhere; I encountered things that I saw on a daily basis but never even thought about anymore, things that mimic the superficial relationship I have with the people at the train station.  I see them, but only register them on the most shallow possible level and then immediately forget that they exist in any way.  But I was forced to consider these things again; I had finally met my end and I couldn't get anything more into the space available.  My 30 GB iPod had finally been filled, and since I had to find a way to cram about 12 new albums onto it so that I wouldn't be without them at work, I was forced to go through and evaluate my taste in music.  It was humiliating.  It was liberating.  It made me remember how bad my taste in music used to be.  So for my 50th post, I'm going to take you on a journey through my ancient iPod.

My iPod is a first-generation iPod video with 30 gigs of capacity.  I've had it for going on four years now; since iPods age about 35 years for every one revolution around the Earth's sun, it's going to be about 140 this Christmas.  It's old to the point that a group of Eskimos have been following me around, waiting for me to leave the device unattended so that they can put it on a hunk of ice and push it seaward so that it may expire with dignity and be eaten by killer whales.  But I can't allow this to happen because, like many of you, I'm ridiculously poor (and blogger money isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you don't allow ads on your page).  So I gently will it to keep going until I can save up enough money to buy the latest and greatest thing that will be completely obsolete in a year.  The battery only lasts about an hour at this point; luckily, that's enough time to entertain me with music and stunt my social interactions for the entirety of my morning commute.  Over the years, I've filled it with music that I liked/wanted/was told to listen to, and it has perfectly preserved several snapshots into my past as a Metal D00d.

In order to do it up proper, I spent my lunch break at work one day going through the list of bands that I had on there and made a hand-lettered list of things that I haven't listened to in years.  I made the mistake the last time I went to clean it out of being overly nostalgic about the music that was on there.  Sure, keeping all my classical guitar music that I used to listen to during college on there makes me feel fancy and smart, but I haven't listened to any Bartok String Quartets or Brahms Symphonies since they gave me the degree that I now use to remove stubborn stains from the rim of my toilet.  It was time for that stuff to go.

The most striking content that was on there was my metal stuff, most of which I avoided like the plague as I evolved into the super-kvlt, totally grim form that I am today.  I'm talking about the music that I picked up over the course of my life, and I'll be candid about it with you, the reader, because I know for an absolute fact that people start off with absolutely terrible taste in music when they get into heavy metal.  I made a note that the first three Dragonforce albums were never going to be listened to again, so I said goodbye to their odes to flying away.  I noticed that my love of Cryonic Temple had long since wavered and dried up, the formerly hilarious language barrier that endeared me to songs like "Shark Attack" and "Beastslayer" now annoying.  I nixed Shadow Gallery for similar reasons.  Yes, I used to love power metal; I know it sucks, but none of us are perfect.

I threw Into the Moat into the moat.  I allowed Earth to float silently into the void and confirmed my hypothesis with Liquid Tension Experiment.  Machine Head went to the graveyard while Nile was pushed into the reeds to be picked up by an ancient king and lead the people to freedom.  So many memories!  So many bands that I listen to now with the self-aware grimace of a man who has found things that are so much better.

Probably my most horrifying youthful foray involved metalcore.  When I was coming up in California, we used to refer to shitty metalcore as "hardcore," not understanding the difference that a D-beat will make between the two genres.  In those days, every local band was doing their best (read: most generic) impersonation of Hatebreed, which we all thought was totally sweet and br00tal.  My band was not immune from this; to this day, I am guilty of metal atrocities like writing terrible breakdowns, taking horrible solos, backing up ham-fisted lyrics about Jesus (that's right, we were a specifically Christian band), and indirectly encouraging people to hardcore dance.  I always viewed hardcore dancing as the stupidest and lamest pursuit any human can engage in, but I stood idly by and watched a legion of people clumsily wave their arms and kick their legs.  To this day it haunts me, and I've never forgiven myself for allowing such stupid activities to take place.

Invisible ninjas!  Oh, God, they're everywhere!

Music like As I Lay Dying was excised from my playlist, as was Still Remains, Himsa, and several other bands that were guilty of the same crimes against humanity that I was.  I wish I had one of these to randomly post at metal shows:
 I don't think this would help, but if I could curb this dastardly activity I would feel a little better about myself.

As I pay penance for my musical missteps, I ask you: what were yours?  I know for an empirical fact that nobody just up and has great taste in metal.  It's like beer, an acquired taste that takes time to evolve and flourish.  Account for yourself, release yourself of the burden that you carry with you for the Symphorce CD you bought, or for thinking that Opeth sucked the first time you heard them (these both happened to me)!  Relay these in the comments if you are so bold.  Cleanse yourself!

As I look back at my 50 posts, I remember nights spent writing dick jokes, collaborating via email with bands and people that I respect a great deal, and discovering albums that I would have never tried to experience if it weren't for the suggestions sent to me by my friends and readership.  Nights I spent slaving over a metaphor that best describes my thundering D-boner, nights I D-jacked-it, nights I spent typing with one eye open because I was too drunk to use my cell phone or even see with both eyes simultaneously (you've probably seen more drunken screeds written by me that you'd like to even know about).  It's been fun so far; I hope to do it again soon.

I gaze at my iPod, silently willing it to stop reminding me of the tasteless retard I once was, and this relationship with my iPod will likely continue once the bands that I'm currently into have proven themselves obsolete, bereft of new ideas or to be involved in passing fads with no staying power.  I will hold my head high, however, because I am slowly developing the sense to resist such things.  I have accounted for my shitty taste above, and I encourage you to do so as well.

I briefly considered putting a Golden Girls thing here, "Thank you for being a friend" or whatever, but that's boring.  So here's something else for your Tuesday:

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Grammys Afterparty

"I'd like to thank my record label for finding my target demographic and marketing to that demographic aggressively and tastelessly.  Without them, I could have never bought my second Aston Martin."

America loves awards.  Not just receiving awards, either; though it would be totally sweet for America to finally win the much-touted "World's Most Badass Nation with A Big Dick" award that we as a nation have had our collective eye on, we also like to give awards.  And I'm not just talking about Olympic medals or Nobel Peace prizes either; no, the awards that we like to give go to people who, though they are indisputably not the best in their fields, are definitely the most well-known and highly publicized (which in America is the same thing as being the best).  Last night, we all had to steel ourselves against the soft-news onslaught brought to us courtesy of the red carpet at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, and it was a doozy, I'll tell you what.

Every year, with every snub from the Grammy Committee, I become more bitter and resentful of awards shows.  I mean, just because I spent most of 2010 not being in a band and not releasing any music doesn't mean that I shouldn't be nominated for an award.  I'm 26 years old, and I have more than three (!!!) guitars; I am therefore entitled to a little recognition in the form of a "prestigious" award statuette and an enormous cash prize.  It's bullshit.  I should have at least gotten a gift bag and a "Participant" ribbon.

I usually don't pay so much attention to what goes on at the Grammys, but since I'm getting older, all of my friends are getting older, which statistically means that we are becoming exponentially less interesting with each passing year.  Since I don't have any children yet, and since my brain is broken in such a way that it forces me to randomly generate strange things to say that some people find entertaining, my curve is much less steep.  However, all of my friends who have children over the age of 2 days old are slowly substituting reality television and pictures of babies for their personalities, which apparently cease to exist the first time you have to wipe shit off a tiny set of balls with a Wet-Nap (I'm only kidding; only the vast majority of breeders lose their personalities to the bottomless black hole that is their offspring, and that's only because they had amazingly little personality to begin with).  What I'm trying to say is that, through the magic of Facebook status updates and Yahoo's disinterest in presenting anything that is actually "news" in their News Feed, this year I am surprisingly in-the-loop Grammy-wise.

It sucks.

Since the Grammys came and went last night, I thought I would pretend like I remembered that this whole debacle was going on in the first place and throw out my picks for the hottest categories.  Before I get to the predictions, however, I would like to say that I visited the website for the Grammy Awards, and was astonished by some of the surprisingly specific and frivolous categories that exist.  "I know who won Best Album, dude; what I need to know is who won the Best Album Notes category?  Ohhh, I can't believe that one won; the album notes for the Roky Erickson album were so much better than that one.  FUCK THAT!  Who won the Best Spoken Word Album for Children category?"  And if you're wondering, yes, those are actual categories.  Now, to predict!

Best Album
My prediction: Cephalic Carnage, Misled by Certainty
Result: Arcade Fire won with their album The Suburbs.  Surprisingly, Cephalic Carnage wasn't even nominated, which actually makes perfect sense, now that I think about it.  I mean, they easily took the "Best Colorado Hydro-Grind Album Sang By A Dude With The First Name 'Lenzig'" category, but I guess their brutal masterpiece couldn't stand in the same arena as real artists like Eminem and Katy Perry.

Best Record
My prediction: I thought Best Album was the same as Best Record, so I'll say....uhhhh....Black Breath, Heavy Breathing. 
Result: Lady Antebellum won this category, begging the question: what's the difference between an album and a record?  I have always seen them used synonymously.  However, Black Breath were snubbed this year; it seems that D-boners may as well not exist outside of my life.  This leads me to imagine that everyone who isn't me must envy the dead.
 I'm starting to envy the dead after looking at this picture of some ridiculous pop diva before her first D.U.I. arrest.

Song of the Year
My prediction: Cut Your Teeth, "Drink Beers"
Result: Again, the people making these decisions must not enjoy love and brotherhood and happiness, because Cut Your Teeth were edged out by a wide margin by Lady Antebellum's song "Need You Now."  I looked up the lyrics to the Lady Antebellum song, and much to my chagrin, it wasn't about drinking anything at all!  It's some faggy love song for girls that doesn't condone imbibing alcoholic beverages in any way!

Best New Artist
My Prediction: Cloudkicker
Result: Esperanza Spalding.  Just who the fuck is that, and why is she trying to butt in on Ben Sharp's fancy award?  I assume that she is some kind of ugly tween pop star since I've never heard of her, but she isn't the best new artist unless she writes, records, and self-releases a Djent album all by herself.  Ben Sharp managed to not only do those things, but to create a Djent album that is listenable to the point of being "actually good," which is something the myriad other Djent bands have failed to do up to this point.

Those were the main predictions that I had concerning the Grammys.  Needless to say, I have no idea what the hell normal people listen to anymore.  One time, I took a friend of mine and his brother out to see their first concert in Austin.  They described their musical tastes as being into "Indie Rock and stuff, but pretty much everything."  The bands they described reminded me of my friend Jeff, who has similar musical tastes.  In choosing which band we would go see, I saw that a band that Jeff loves was in town, a little band called Lightning Bolt.  I thought to myself "Well sir, if Jeff loves them, so must Ben and his brother."  I enjoyed the show a great deal; Lightning Bolt were grinding the night away wearing technicolor microphone/ski masks.  Ben and his brother did not enjoy the show.  It was at this point that I realized that the only person that I can accurately pick a good concert for is myself, which is usually fine.

But it sucks for entertaining new friends.

I apologize to Ben and Joe.  Actually, no I don't.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Irony Out of Metal

Since I have not been listening to anything new, I'm going to climb back on my soapbox for a few and relate to you all something that has been on my mind for quite a while now.  Look back for meaningful content in the future, but for now I RANT.

I went and saw an amazing show toward the end of last year.  The bill was Lecherous Nocturne with Vader and Immolation.  The show started off rocky with some local Houston band that wore matching t-shirts OF THEIR OWN BAND, except the singer, who had added a patch with his band's logo to a bulletproof vest.  It was ridiculous.  They stumbled through a set of poorly-played death metal and skulked away, clearly not happy with the lukewarm reception people had given to their shitty music.  They should know, being metal d00dz, that those of us who are tr00 are highly judgmental of badly-written/generic music, but they were obviously looking to have stolen the show from Vader and Immolation (which, after seeing both bands play, I can tell you will never happen).  Then a strange thing happened; Lecherous Nocturne was setting up and a gaggle of teenage halfwits stormed the indoor stage at Emo's, wearing brand-new looking fitted caps at jaunty angles which were very carefully matched to their warmup shorts.

I had forgotten.

Iwrestledabearonce and several other bands of their ilk were playing the outside stage at Emo's that same night, forming metal's oddest and most irritating double bill; on the inside stage, brutal death metal for people who don't fuck around about their brutal death metal, and on the outside stage, heavy metal's tween-pleasing superbill that appeals most to people who get dropped off at the show by their parents and dudes who dress just like their ugly girlfriends, all tatted out, draped with skinny jeans and vacant faces.

These cretinous wangs invaded the inside stage and proceeded to hardcore dance through Lecherous Nocturne's set, much to the chagrin of the band.  They still gave it their all and played a great set despite the high school having sent their remedial class on a fieldtrip to Emo's.  I spoke to their singer at length (I think his name is Jason, and he's a very cool guy) after the set, and he relayed to me his distaste for the goings-on that were plaguing this show.  Then we spotted a fat kid wearing this:

Picture, if you will, that the above shirt was purple.  Upon gazing at this, our sadness and disdain for the kids at the show became palpable, hanging in the back of my throat like the taste of vomit.

Irony was here.

Irony is something that I'm getting tired of.  It used to be that people could see something that was actually ironic and could enjoy it for what it was; usually unfortunate and kind of funny.  Now the term "irony" means that people like things that suck, and they know that these things suck but they make like they like them anyway so that other people with this mentality will think they are clever.  Which they are not.  They just like to wear leiderhosen and say "I love this; doesn't it suck so hard?  Amazing!"

I'm fucking tired of it.

For us dudes who spend our lives in the pursuit of this music, it's no joke.  Don't make the mistake of thinking that I don't realize that Cannibal Corpse is over-the-top misogynist gore, or that bands like Prostitute Disfigurement and Vulvectomy aren't crazy and ridiculous to the outside world.  But to me and countless other people, metal isn't a joke.  It can be funny, like Anal Cunt singing "Your Family is Dumb," or recounting throwing a Down's Syndrome baby into a reservoir, but it's not a joke.  However, our society at large is becoming so accommodating to these braindead mongoloid dickholes that we have to simply deal with seeing the guy in cutoff shorts and sequined cowboy boots drinking a Lone Star through a Crazy Straw at a Goatwhore show.

Or worse, we have to sit back and deal with our icons being degraded in this fashion:
Words can't describe how badly I'd like to get rid of whoever made this atrocity

Or, you can consider this fellow:
  There is no way this dude actually listens to Mayhem.

I don't listen to Mayhem.  I don't like Mayhem.  I'm also not Buddhist, and would never dream of defiling a Buddha statue just so that I might look impressive to others.  But this is what allowing this rooster-headed penishole to sew a Mayhem logo on his faggy sweater is equivalent to.  He's invading our culture to make himself appear cool and knowledgeable.  This needs to stop forever.  If Mayhem the band actually ever laid eyes on the dude above, I'm confident that Satan would have several more pints of hipster blood to slake his thirst.  I'm tired of having high school kids ruin an otherwise amazing and virtually perfect Vader show just because their parents don't have the sense to beat the shit out of them when they get dumb haircuts and start wearing lady pants.  It's disgusting.

 I'm not advocating violence against these people; I think fighting and attacking people for what they wear and how they act is deplorable and horrifying.  Unless you find the asshole who decided to besmirch Black Flag's logo; please kill him.

Irony: get out of metal!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gaza--He Is Never Coming Back

Today is going to be pretty lame.  Here in Austin, TX, the dastardly Arctic Blast has returned after just two glorious days of above freezing temperatures.  I woke up today to take my wife to work only to find that said Arctic Blast has cut a swath of destruction overnight, leaving ice on the roadways and blanketing my car with a thick coat of frozen-solid raindrops that prevent me from opening doors, using the windshield wipers, and doing virtually everything other than sitting idly in the car and listening to the radio.  Such natural vandalism irks me to no end, but since the Supreme Court has ruled that I can't sue nature for inconveniencing me slightly (thank you very much, Sandra Day O'Connor), I have to just sit back and take it.  Many people have said that this weather is not so bad, calling us hot-weather tuned scorpion-types "sissy," and "homo," just because we are dangerously inexperienced in driving around on roadways that are covered with ice and snow, but weren't built to handle said inclement weather patterns.

Just saying that Colorado has more snow doesn't give me tire chains or enough experience to avoid sliding into an intersection and being killed, so their arguments are moot.

On days like this I like to bring out the most vitriolic music I can find and rock it loud and proud.  It's all gray and cold out, and with the roadways icy like my heart and the sky black as my soul (and lungs), I let people with talent be angry for me.  Also, if I can't stave off the depression that comes along with this kind of weather, it'll make it that much harder to go to work and deal with my coworkers constantly calling me a faggot and saying that I'm stupid and stuff.  I mean, you wear a pair of Prince ladies' thong underwear to work one time, and all the sudden you're a creepy deviant who spends too much time in the bathroom.  BUT THE BATHROOM IS WHERE I GO TO EAT DOUGHNUTS AND CRY!  I just wish they would lay off me.

Speaking of bilious music for the socially retarded, Gaza's latest album, He Is Never Coming Back, came out a couple of years ago to much fanfare from the metal community.  I was immediately suspicious of Gaza, because their album title makes it so very clear that they are going to talk about Jesus a bunch, but not in the preachy way that Christian bands do it where the lyrics aren't subtle or well-written to convey that they have faith in a greater power.  No, Gaza was going to sing about Jesus in the preachy way that Athiests talk about Jesus, where they lyrics are slightly more subtle but with no less clarity that they think Jesus stinks and so do you if you have faith in anything. 

I'm going to go out on a limb right here and just say this: if you're a Christian, an Athiest, a Mormon, a Satanist, or whatever, I'm getting tired of hearing about your faith and how everyone else is stupid or wrong.  A common thing that I've heard Athiests do is slam Christians for constantly evangelizing about their faith, never shutting up no matter how old or annoying it gets.  Then the Athiest will begin evangelizing about their lack of faith, never shutting up no matter how old or annoying it gets.  This goes for all religions, but metal musicians seem to congregate around these subjects and beat them into the ground (I'm looking at you, Deicide).  I don't care about your stupid beliefs, just like you don't care about mine.  If I want to know about yours, I'll ask you, and you can do that same for me if you want to know about mine.  But let's maybe give some room for the subject to breathe for a while, shall we?

Ahem.  Let me just climb off my soapbox here...and...there we go.  Sorry about that.  Rill Talk, right?  Ugh.

At any rate, my suspicions of Gaza proved to be founded, but their music won me over in short order.  I happened to be at a show where Gaza were playing, down at Emo's.  I was always curious to hear what all the critics were talking about, since Gaza was getting so much hype at the time, so I was excited to hear their set.

It blew me away.

Their sound is very noisy and very sludgy, the riffs squalling sounds that only obliquely resemble guitar music as it is commonly known.  In other words, they don't sound anything like At the Gates or really any other easy-to-identify band.  The music is off-kilter, the drums jazzy, the guitars inspired soundscapes, and the vocals throat-shredding and honest.  It all sounds bleak, but not grim or kvlt like our frostbitten Scandinavian friends.  It's really, really good, and painfully heavy.

My favorite thing about Gaza, though, is the singer.  He's got a great voice and all, but when I saw him I was awestruck.  His name is Jon Parkin, and he's humongously tall.  I was able to find an artist's rendition of him the the interwebs, so steel yourself against his terrifying visage
Parkin preparing to feast on a puny mortal

In other words, he's tall.  Hur dur dur.

If you're interested in the music, you should follow your nose and take a listen, and if you are upset by my soapbox rant, well, I'm sorry.  But not actually. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gridlink--Amber Gray

I have read a great deal about Gridlink over the last few years; that Amber Gray made Decibel Magazine's Top 40 Albums of 2008 list seemed preposterous, considering the running length of this...*ahem*...album, which clocks in right around 12 minutes long.  I still remember when it came out, Decibel was still functioning as my Metal Bible, the holy relic of kvlthood that would arrive in my mailbox once a month full of treasures for me to hunt down using the best media-sharing tools available to me at the time (Soulseek and Myspace, respectively).  Decibel graded the album a 9/10, which seemed (and still seems) ridiculous to me considering the outrageously short running time.  I mean, seriously.  WHO THE FUCK WANTS TO BUY AN ALBUM THAT'S 12 MINUTES LONG?!?

Fast forward a few years, and here I sit in Austin, TX, in the WZA'd's office chair deluxe, getting my first ear on Gridlink's Amber Gray after only 3 short years of blowing it off for no good reason.  I have always wondered, when people were trumpeting the virtues of Gridlink from on high, why there would be so much ado about an album that is ONLY 12 MINUTES LONG (I don't think I'll ever get over this fact for as long as I live).  Then, when I finally got to hear it, I magically understood.  This 12 minute album is better than most other albums, regardless of length, who's playing on it, or if it comes with robotic arms that will stroke your sex organs just right every time.  In other words, if it's an album, it's probably not as good as Amber Gray.  In fact, other albums should just stop calling themselves albums right now, because Amber Gray pretty much won.

Hands down, too.

Now, I'm no big-city lawyer, but I can tell you for certain that Gridlink sounds like how all music would sound in some kind of utopia where things haven't gone horribly awry because of a pervert computer or dudes in trenchcoats who spend their time abducting people and cutting out parts of their brains.  I guess what I'm referring to is actually Heaven; I've read that cherubim are supposed to be on fire all the time, so maybe it's because Gridlink is serenading the collective serephim of the Almighty Lord.  And they're not just whistling Dixie on fire, either.  No sir, this is burning fury that are setting their pretty little faces on fire.

Let me put it a couple of ways to really give you, the reader, a good idea of what it is that you might be missing.  For the d00dz (read: everyone who will ever look at this site for any reason), Gridlink is like an unbelievably delicious but marvelously tiny morsel of food.  Gridlink is the tiniest and most delicious cheeseburger you've ever eaten, and you wish that there was so much more, but somehow you know that having that much of something so good might ruin all other food for you.  You have to just be thankful for that stimulus while it lasted and try to make it recur whenever possible.  For the ladies (read: just because I like it), Gridlink is the most amazing and satisfying two-pump-jump you've ever let within 10,000 miles of your lady parts.  Was it over in just a few short minutes?  Yes, but it was by far the best few short minutes of your life, so make sure you get his real number and start sabotaging the condoms so that dude can never escape.

It's really hard to communicate how such a small morsel of music can stimulate the senses in such a way that a grown man (me) will be so grind-crazed at the end that he will be willing to commit heinous acts against his fellow man just to get a little more.  Gridlink is like nature's Klondike bar.  "Would you kill your parents for a new Gridlink album?"  (Empty-eyed, I walk toward the master bedroom with an incongruously gigantic knife in my hand) "Yes, master, just don't let it stop for any reason....*drooling*....uuuuuuughhhhhh...*the moaning gets more sensual and way more creepy*.

And so forth.

If you're a stupid asshole sucker like me, you need to observe Gridlink.  I feel like such a tool.  So just follow your nose and experience your favorite 12 minutes ever, then thank me in the comments, or don't.  I'm too busy jacking off to Gridlink to pay attention to your stupid comments anyway.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Vinyl Roundup--Coalesce--Ox

I remember when I was just a wee little lad in high school; it was a fanciful time where my musical tastes were deplorable and my penis may as well have been nonexistent (other than the excessive amount of attention I myself gave to it, of course).  In those days, I was always searching for the newest, bestest thing that coincidentally always sounded like Children of Bodom (surprise, there aren't that many of those things floating around in the early-internet age), and my main new music conduit at this time was my friend Ed.  You've probably read about Ed before, and if you've visited this site more that just this one time, you probably are Ed.  But I will still elaborate; Ed is the dude who helps me with Interwebs.  He sends me cool links and downloads and shit, and when we were both discovering the amazing things that metal could give us, he was the main guy who would find something that would blow my mind and then immediately move past it, panning it as "dumb and/or for homos."

In our formative years, Ed handed me a collection of burned CD's, which at the time were relative novelties.  We all knew about dubbing cassettes, but dubbing CD's?!?  How very droll!  So he gave me a handful of CD's that he had burned for me, and I immediately went home and starting listening to them.  I want to go ahead and state right now, for the record, that my musical taste was slow to bud; indeed, I was a late bloomer, one who couldn't identify good music from a hole in the ground I dug to hide my report car.  Also, I had no pubic hair.

In the collection of those albums Ed burned for me was my first exposure to Coalesce, in the form of 0:12 A Revolution in Just Listening, as well as some Kandiria album (and I'm not confident that I spelled Kandiria correctly).  Needless to say, with my metal muscles so underdeveloped and stupid, I hated both albums (though, inexplicably, I stand by my assessment of Kandiria to this day).  My tastes were so primitive in those days that, for the longest time, I was unable to differentiate between Coalesce and Kandiria, constantly confusing the two until I finally heard Ox, Coalesce's latest full-length album.

This makes me hate my younger self even more than I already do, which is a lot.

Ox is a masterpiece, and I say that with no hint of irony.  I loved this album so much that I wish I could travel back in time and punch my 17-year-old self in the dick until my younger self spontaneously understood how great Coalesce actually is.  This would achieve the same effect as my underwear purchasing.  If I buy irregular underwear from Ross, that means that I have two crotches per pair of underwear, which means that I have 1/2 the urine stains per crotch if I follow the proper rotation.  And if they forget to sew the ass on to any of those underwear, it saves me the embarrassment of leaving skid marks (though it sets me up for the far more embarrassing "skid marks on the jeans," which is much more horrifying but infinitely easier to hide from one's spouse).  That's a long, drawn out way of saying that I could have saved myself the embarrassment of saying stupid things like "Coalesce raps too much on that one album I heard by them," by hiding the fact that I didn't like them at all (like my denim skidmarks). 

Coalesce is another band that I feel gets tagged with a pejorative genre tag (in this case, *groan*, metalcore) that makes little to no sense.  I had the same feeling the first time I heard the Red Chord referred to as a "deathcore" band, or the first time I heard someone say that my sister is "less manly than [my] description would lead [the subject] to believe."  None of those things make sense, but since I didn't say them, and two of them caught on with the greater population (Sorry, Melissa), I have to therefore defer to them.  But still, almost nobody says that my sister isn't as manly as I make her out to be.

Ox is a fantastic album by a totally great band that doesn't rap at all, and you should go listen to it right now if you have it.  If you want to steal it rather than having Will give it to you for free (Thanks, Will!), you should follow your nose to a magical place where you can sample it for free forever.  But you should buy it; I have spoken to Sean Ingram a couple of times (after seeing Coalesce live), and he said that people who steal their album have "teeny little pee-pees and no moral constitutions**."  And I'm inclined to agree.

**= May not actually be a quote from Sean Ingram

Saturday, February 5, 2011

TesseracT--Concealing Fate EP

I make no excuses for my general disdain for the Djent genre.  That most of the bands sound the exactly the same--like ill-conceived Meshuggah ripoffs with shitty vocals--is the easiest and most obvious reason for my dislike of Djent music.  Indeed, there is much more to it than that, but if I were to dumb it down, place it in the proverbial nutshell, Djent (that is not Meshuggah or Cloudkicker) can be summed up in this way: it's math-y radio rock for teenagers who want to feel fancy because they like music that isn't in 4/4 time.  Is Djent heavy?  It can be, but just being heavy at times doesn't make a band good.  Is it easy to play?  No, but making music difficult to play doesn't make it good, either.  It's a classic argument, like the age-old debate about Yngwie Malmsteen.  Yes, he can really play guitar, but uses his amazing abilities to make incredibly unlistenable music, which he offsets by calling it "classical," which again makes teenagers feel fancy for listening to it.  Following in the footsteps of many a hallowed guitar wankophile, TesseracT achieve the "fancy and unlistenable" tag for themselves with their long-awaited EP, Concealing Fate.

I read a great many things about TesseracT on my daily excursions to the blogmosphere, especially on Metalsucks.  "TesseracT is amazing!" the bloggers and asshole commenters enthused in perfect unison.  "I can't wait for new music from them to come out so I can finally jack off again!"  Intrigued because of my own penis-related musical obsessions, I resolved to observe this phenomenon that I had never heard before.  Months passed, and I forgot about this magical beast that roams the musical forest stroking the nerd-boners of Interbung commentators who long for an eight-string guitar to descend from the skies and take them outside of their parents' basements for once.  "If I had a guitar with that many strings, I would show them all!" they mutter behind their homemade Chewbacca masks that aren't quite movie quality, but pretty close considering they had been shorted hours at the video arcade and had to make some budget cuts to meet the deadline for the Cosplay convention.  "I would write riffs that can't be immediately broken down into easy phrase clusters but still only involve one note and a rudimentary palm mute to play; then I'll finally get a date."  Then the captain of the wrestling team gives him a massive wedgie and yells "NEEEEEEERRRRRD!" and is immediately congratulated on his witty rejoinder by his best friend/salivating toady and the prettiest girl on the cheerleading squad.

It's like Revenge of the Nerds, except nobody gets laid at the end.

After such a long wait, I had an interesting conversation with my good dudebro Isaac about Djent and other fancy musical stylings. I suddenly remembered that I had a date with TesseracT, who were going to fly me to a land of dreams where I wouldn't be fat and have too much acne for a 26-year-old man, and where my $10-an-hour job was less of an embarrassment to my parents who put me through college and watched me get a useless degree.  I was so excited, and was, just like my parents, subsequently disappointed on a massive scale.

Like I said above, Djent is a pretty cool idea for a musical approach (that was oddly turned into an entire subgenre once people realized how amazing Chaosphere was), but is being beaten to death by a group of bands that know how to write riffs that aren't in a comfortable time signature but have no idea how to write a song.  You can cut and paste this description for any Djent band with a vocalist, especially Periphery.  TesseracT really can write some semi-interesting riffs, but they string them together so that they resemble a necklace constructed by Helen Keller.  It's a necklace, but not an attractive one.  That the music's diminishing return value gets to be in the negative so quickly is a testament to the lack of creative ingenuity that TesseracT possess.  I don't know how or why it took so long for this follow up to I-don't-even-know-what-album to come about, but the riffs aren't flashy or interesting enough to warrant such an extended break between records.

And the vocals!  Ohhhh, the vocals...

Let me be clear right here: clean singing in heavy metal needs to be approached with the utmost care and tenderness.  It detracts very heavily from the music when the vocals come out whiny and uninspired, and TesseracT's vocals do both.  The vocal melodies are bland to the point of being nauseating, but do, in the interest of fairness, work quite well several times throughout the course of the album.  But it's like they were doing the album's mastering and the vocalist was told "Wow, your voice doesn't sound very good," to which he replied, "Silence!  Just add a shitload of delay to the vocal track."  (Mixing engineer sighs and adds an obnoxious amount of delay to the vocals).

I feel bad writing so much about an album that I didn't enjoy.  I wish that I could like everything that I hear so that I don't have to say things like "TesseracT's criminal missteps put them on par with sheep rapists, with the notable exception being that no sheep rapist has ever tried to charge people so they can listen to recordings of his myriad sexual assaults against innocent livestock."  I have to admit that it's fun to say these kinds of things, but I know what it's like to be in a shitty band.  It's tough.  I'm sorry TesseracT; it's nothing personal.  Maybe get a six-string guitar, learn to write a riff, and then step it up to the eight string after you add something after "time drops" to your bag of musical tricks.

Follow your nose to TesseracT's Concealing Fate EP, available now.  Listen to it and call me a music-hating faggot in the comments.