Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Masakari--The Prophet Feeds

When I was in high school, I knew everything.  When I went to college, I learned a bunch more and became, in my own mind, a super genius on a similar level as virtually any comic book mad scientist or super villain.  In high school I was a punk rocker.  I liked three things: 1) punk music, 2) skateboarding, and 3) slogans to yell at people about numbers one and two.  Things like "Nazi Punks, fuck off!" and "Racism sucks!" and "Skateboarding is not a crime!" commonly poured out of my mouth in torrents of self-perceived genius and love for others.  What I didn't take into account at the time is that my favorite slogans were thoughtful and eloquent enough to put them on par with the dumbest and most obvious sayings that could be conjured.  For all my disdain for Nazi punks, I never met one (though we did have a roving band of S.H.A.R.P.S. who roamed around beating people indiscriminately and careening toward bad heroin habits that would prove to break several of their brains).  Turns out that skateboarding IS in fact a crime if you do it anywhere the police arbitrarily decide you shouldn't be, and shouting "racism sucks" is about as non-groundbreaking of an opinion as to put it on par with "Cars can go faster than humans can run," and "shitting your pants in public is embarrassing."

But we persisted.

I don't even want to get into being in college, but I will, because it has to be said.  College students are all completely full of shit, as I was myself when I was a sophomore in college.  Man, I fucking knew everything, and God help you if you made music that didn't have a V-I cadence every ten seconds.  "That isn't resolving to the tonic note correctly!" I would exclaim in the snootiest fashion.  "This music is unlearned and therefore inferior!"  And then I'd wander away and have a conversation about how to re-engage audiences with jazz, or I'd lock myself away and comb through the Lydian-dominant scale so that, one fine day, I'd suddenly be able to play like John Coltrane, who didn't even play guitar.  I obsessed over my own knowledge of music and the workings of the world around me, never taking into account that, as I matured, things slowly revealed  themselves to be more complex than my undergraduate professors would make them out to be.  Shades of gray existed, and music that was derisively thrown aside slowly became not only acceptable again, but proved to be amazing and highly artistic.

Better than I could ever do with figured bass and strictly consonant counterpoint, for sure.

That brings me to Masakari.  As a band, Masakari are proving to be a new musical obsession for me.  They do everything that I like, including 1) massive and relentless D-boner strokage, 2) frantic screaming over tasty hott lix, and 3) slogan-style proselytizing.  The music is amazing and powerful; Masakari's brand of frantic hardcore does everything right and nothing wrong.  Indeed, this isn't the stupid tough-guy hardcore that it going to have people slam dancing to the most boring and poorly-written breakdowns.  Nay!  Masakari focus on the speed that makes punk-style hardcore so great, but they eschew the standard trappings of a Sick of It All or Earth Crisis hardcore band in favor of something good.  Think Axe to Fall-era Converge, the current incarnation of Trap Them, or All Pigs Must Die.

In other words, really good shit.

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Masakari live this year during SXSW at Studio 501.  It was shortly after I inadvertently met Bruce Lamont from Yakuza and shortly before I started following Trap Them around at a respectful yet still quite creepy distance.  I met up with major dudebro and member of the Crusty/Cakey Alliance Andy Wilhelm at the show so that we might jointly worship The Riff and bang our heads to the crunchiest metal available at the time (the show that I left featured The Funeral Pyre [who were great and adequately belligerent toward the gaggle of 15 year olds they played for] with a bunch of other garbage bands in the early part of the day, which didn't slake my thirst for The Riff, but did sunburn my neck first thing in the morning).  I ran my happy ass over to 501, and after a brief bout of being lost because the Studio 501 sign is highly misleading, I made it inside and started mingling.  Masakari was setting up as I stood there, talking to Andy and who turned out to be Bruce Lamont, lazily slurping the beer that Bruce had just bartended for me.

Masakari took the stage, and they looked young.  Like, real young.  Except their drummer, who I imagine as being the "father figure" of the group, like how boy bands used to do.  You know, where one would be the cute one, and one would be the old one, and one would be clearly gay but not come out until years later.  They unleashed their hardcore assault in short order, completed by the singer's frantic dive off the stage within the first second of the first song.  He crashed headlong into an unsuspecting audience member to my immediate left, sending them both to the cement floor in a painful-looking heap of crusty shirts and beard hair.

Masakari played with intensity and fervor that is matched only by my enthusiasm for this kind of music and how hard it jacked my D-boner, which was, of course, at a veiny 12 o'clock belly button salute.  It was gross.  Behold them through the magic of technology and my substandard photography skills!

It was at this point I realized that I have no idea how to turn the flash on.

I know what you're thinking, and the answer is yes; the bass player always looks like this and doesn't really move.
Told you.
The album matches their live intensity to a T, and includes soundbites from news clips and things that are clearly meant to condemn things that everybody condemns.  Punk rock!  So it turns out Masakari doesn't like dog fighting or racism, and they exposed, through a soundbite that I in no way recognize or know the origin of, that the military will systematically inundate soldiers with anti-enemy propaganda and hatespeech so that the soldiers won't feel so bad about killing them.  The album finishes out with a secret track that points out how getting shot in the dick by Robocop would be highly unpleasant.

Again, I love punk rock sloganeering!

My enthusiasm for this band has virtually no end, so if you want to see what all the hubbub I'm making is all about, you should follow your nose and steal the album, and then whack off at the sheer awesomeness of it, then buy it and as many t-shirts as you can get away with.  I don't condone stealing from well-deserving bands; I only find where to steal albums from and then direct you there after downloading it myself, thereby absolving me of any culpability.  Right?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make some anti-slavery signs to wave at people on the highway.  Abolitionism now!

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