Friday, July 29, 2011

Album Art Breakdown--Opeth

We all know by now that Opeth's new album, titled Heritage, will be out on September 20th.  At least, I think that everybody should know.

Offhand.  Because Opeth rules.

But there's a lot of buzz surrounding this album in particular, because frontman Mikael Akerfeldt did something that I usually reserve as a glaring, seething no-no on extreme metal records.  The album is said to contain no death growls.  All clean singing?  ??!?  I'm usually suspicious of bands who decide that they're going to expand their sound in this way, because a solid 99% of metal vocalists can neither sing nor write lyrics that people should be able to understand.

We all know these truths to be self evident, right?

But I'm giving Opeth a pass on this, because Mikael Akerfeldt is one of the (very, very few) metal frontmen who can not only carry a rudimentary tune, but does it with silky soulfulness and never comes across like a whiny little boner.  It's part of what gives Opeth their singular, oft admired but never duplicated sound, and it's something that helps people like me, too, because my wife likes when Mikael Akerfeldt sings, and that makes for less arguments about what we're listening to in the car that devolve into arguments about when we're going to have children.

But we're not going to talk about those arguments.

The point is, Opeth is taking some chances with this new record, and it shows on their album artwork.  Since I think it's important that people know what I think artwork means and that they also think that, I'm here today to break down the daring album artwork for Heritage for you.  Because I'm so nice.

I think the most thought provoking part of this piece is the fact that the band decided to go with the old progressive rock record tradition of finding a ridiculous way to include portraits of the band into seemingly unrelated artwork.  It's a breathtaking thing.  But once I started doing my research, ran the artwork under some X-rays and infrared lights, and swallowed a couple of pictures of the artwork to really get it in my system, I found the connection that the skulls have to Sour Herring Premier, an unpopular Swedish late summer tradition.

So the focal point of the entire piece is the Tree of Death, whose roots go down into the underground and connect to a two-faced demon monster.  This obviously symbolizes the celebration of the Swedish holiday of Sour Herring Premier, which is the Northern Swedish version of the Crayfish Festival.  As you can see, the tree is being picked by the villagers, all of whom need a photorealistic head of a member of Opeth to sour their herring in before putting the herring into the tins to properly sour until the third Thursday of August.  Then the local herring sourers can start selling the pungent treat to the locals who have burned their tastebuds off by years of eating something that sounds (and probably is) as horrifying as Sour Herring.

And have no worries, local villagers.  The preparations for the festivities of Sour Herring Premier are finally underway; you've set your city on fire and made your way to the creepy tree where Opeth heads grow in the summertime.  Did you sleep in a little late?  Or perhaps your house was particularly difficult to set on fire because your lack of a drinking problem left your clothes and furniture bereft of adequately flammable alcohol?  If you're not one of the lucky few who gets a fresh Mikael Akerfeldt or Frederik Akesson, there are thankfully plenty of Opeth skulls littering the ground, and those are better for the lazy villager.  They've already lost their flesh, so the rotting head flesh of your Opeth skull won't overpower the delicious sour herring that you've been allowing to rot slightly.  You wouldn't want to not be able to smell rotten, stinky fish!  And you can eat breakfast cereal out of the skulls once the Premier is over.

And for those who are willing to be patient, it's clear that the heads will grow back over time.  I mean, look at that accumulation of skulls around the roots!  When the heads ripen they fall off and make room for new heads, which presumably look like baby versions of the band members and grow like human heads until they finally have fashionable beards and long, silky hair.

It's not very often that bands have album artwork that actually means something, so I'd like to hand it to Opeth for drawing attention to a horrible sounding Swedish tradition with your artwork.  I'm excited to hear the new album, but only because I'm such an Opeth super fan.  If I cared less, I'd be super bummed out by the idea of a band doing all clean singing (at least it's not going to also be all acoustic like Damnation, though I also liked that album a great deal).

If you want to hear a song off the new album, you should go check it out on Metalsucks.  It's...confusing.  And exhilarating.  Like your first sexual experience, except you don't have to hide that embarrassing wet spot that develops on the front of your jeans.  Unless you're me; I totally get that wet spot when I listen to Opeth.

And reading about Swedish traditional festivals is also confusing and exhilarating.  You should go to the website that I went to and see how other cultures live.  It reaffirms my confidence in America, where all of our holidays are built around good old fashioned consumerism, the way God intended.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



1) Joke about penises.

2) Saying that I did something that I have never done and won't because my wife would hit me, and she hits like a man.

3) Auroboros rules.

This is what the outline for this article looks like; I'm having a really difficult time getting past it.  I first read about Auroboros on Metalsucks a couple of weeks ago, and since I'm a Baroness superfan (the restraining order the band put out against me hangs on my wall as proof of my devotion), I was very excited to see what Brian Blickle is up to since leaving Baroness before Blue Record came out.  Rob Moore from Salome is also in Auroboros, giving the band an extra bit of notoriety and a supergroup feel, but I was never removed from a Salome show for attacking their singer and stealing a lock of his beard hair.  I'm a Baroness man.  As such, I'm more interested in what Blickle is doing.  And truth be told, since I've never heard any of his playing outside of Baroness, I didn't know what to expect riff-wise from Auroboros; I was really curious about how big of a hand Blickle had in developing that wacky Baroness sound.  Did he write a bunch of riffs that made it onto Red Album?  Or was he a hired gun-type, hanging out with bros and playing tunes that he wasn't opposed to but not so artistically invested in (I've been there)?  Turns out, it was the former.

Or at least it would seem that way.

Auroboros (to beat a really trite and obvious comparison into the ground) sound like what Baroness could have been if John Baizley wasn't a fancy pants artist.  They're a more aggressive and visceral band with a clear stylistic similarity to Mastodon and a heart for that bizarro southern sludge sound.  And I'm not talking about that Eyehategod "we suck but people still really like us for some reason" sludge; I'm talking about something that is slow to mid-tempo with good riffs (!), solid production (?!?), and really good clean singing (!!!!!?!).

And Auroboros is epic in a really weird way, like an adorable LOL cat asking for a cheeseburger, riding on the back of a stampeding elephant that is crushing a midsized village with its elephant fury.  But the twist is that the elephant has been slighted in the past and this is total Liam Neeson-style righteous revenge.  The humans are the villains!

Oh I'm sorry, do I not look badass?  Because I just got done killing a bunch of people.

Like some kind of elephant Liam Neeson, Auroboros wreak their awesome havoc against people for some reason, and they do it with style that is clearly reminiscent of that one band that Blickle was a member of and the other band that they were always compared to.

I'm trying not to beat the Baroness comparison to death here, but if you listen to the music you'll see what I'm talking about.

And it's not a bad comparison, either.  I love this demo, and I look forward with butterflies in my stomach, because if Auroboros keeps going the way they are, I'm going to have to start stalking yet ANOTHER great metal band.  I know that probably sounds pretty good for the guys from Trap Them (review here and here), but what it really means is that I'll probably have to really put down the money to complete my urban gilley suit and quit my job so that it'll stop getting in the way of rifling through the trash of bands that I admire.

The police profiler has gone on record as calling me "socially awkward and narcissistic."  I'm so sick of that guy!

At any rate, you should go to the Auroboros Bandcamp and download their demo for FREE, or for whatever amount of money you're willing to give them.  Since this is the interbung and you're reading this, we'll just nod our heads subtly and understand that we aren't paying for this awesome music, right?


Friday, July 22, 2011

Music Videos in Metal--Why?!?

Rhetorical question.

(This doesn't have to be a rhetorical question, but I doubt there will be any comments)

Why do metal bands make music videos anymore?

This question has been burning in my mind for the last few years, especially after I discovered the wonderful nerd's paradise that is the blogmosphere.  You see, I would think that, with the advent of music piracy and the ridiculous ease with which we can steal music from the bands that we love/like/want to love/like, it seems like the music video is a dead marketing tool, on par with teaching dogs to bark the melodies of popular tunes, or perhaps bundling albums with sacks of spice from the Orient.  So why do people still make music videos?

I'm not going to lie to you and pretend that I have been into music videos since I was just a little lamb and MTV played music videos as part of their standard daily programming.  Back then, before I could just Google "Rage Against the Machine Mediafire," I had to sit around waiting for MTV or my local rock radio station to play "Bulls on Parade," because the album wasn't out yet and there was no such thing as an album leak.  It was like the Middle Ages!

Also, I had the plague.

Back then, music videos served a vital purpose, which was to present music with images in a way that would inflame the senses of the young and propel them to their local Sam Goody (is THAT even a thing anymore, either?) to *gasp* buy an album or two.  And we did it, and we liked it.  Like I said, it was the Middle Ages, and we all crapped in pots and thought that annoying women who accidentally ate bad wheat were witches.  It was a simple time when nothing could bring the community together like the public drowning a gibbering woman in a pond.

I'm just kidding.  The crowd really only showed up when we set them on fire!

She's got me soul!  BURN 'EM AAAALLLL!
But now, since they made it illegal to burn people on suspicion of witchcraft and made it super easy to just download every bit of music we could possibly want without ever paying for it, I wonder more and more what the point of making a music video is.  Nobody plays them on television, and the only outlets that cover metal music videos are blogs where anybody who wants to hear the music has already downloaded it and wrote about it on their stupid, pointless blog (yo).  By the time the video for a song even comes out, most of us nerdmos have formulated a douchey opinion about the whole album and either panned it because it sounds good and people like it or hail it because it sounds like shit and has dumb album artwork.

I don't watch any music videos.  The last ones that I watched were for Cephalic Carnage, Cut Your Teeth, and Maruosa (which I wrote about here).  Realistically, the only way to get me to watch your music video these days is if it's labeled NSFW (Cephalic Carnage--and don't watch the video for "Ohrwurm unless you've got more intestinal fortitude than I do), if Cosmo Lee tells you to (Cut Your Teeth--and Cosmo didn't tell me to do it on Invisible Oranges, but told me the old fashioned way, by sending a coded signal into the receiver in my jawbone and telling me to do it in a language that only I can hear and understand), or by being really fucking weird (Maruosa--seriously, check it out).  So why spend the money unless you're going to make something that I can watch that has boobs in it but that also plays heavy metal music so that my wife stays away and doesn't see what I'm watching?  Why make a music video that isn't crawling with nudity or thick with the most bizarre shit that Japan's worst acid trip has to offer?

Does anybody watch music videos anymore?  And if so, why?

I, for one, am tired of music videos.  I used to dream of being the star of a music video, but like all of my childhood dreams (including having my own car and being a treasure-hunting multimillionaire guitar virtuoso on the international space station), this dream has been beaten to death my cruel, unrelenting reality.  But now I look at that dream and realize that, unless I managed to get into a band when I was about 11, I would never have been a music video star like all the bands whose albums I actually bought.  I think the music video should be quietly laid to rest (unless there's nudity) and we should all move on with our lives, just like when we set all of those frantically hallucinating women aflame with our torches.

Oh, for the good olde days.

Tell me why music videos aren't stupid in the comments.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Atlas Moth--A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky

For those of you who don't live in America, I have to let you know that America is under attack.  You see, a sinister heat wave unlike anything we've ever seen before is literally baking us like an elite group of chicken pot pies.  We, the citizens of the United States of America, are being turned into tasty, crunchy, flaky treats by something that scientists are calling "Summer," and since Americans stopped learning things around the time that I was a senior in high school, everybody is flummoxed at this sudden development.  When will summer end?  What will we do with the legion of dead bodies that litter our streets?  Where can I drive my luxury sedan without getting icky dead people guts all over it?!?

Help me, Science!

It's seriously a lot of fun to listen to people here in Austin during the summer.  Most summer conversations consist of how there isn't enough rain and that it's too hot to do anything.  I came from a place called Bakersfield, California, the land of two inches of rain a year and temperatures so hot in the summer that we rival Phoenix, Arizona for "most unbearable summer weather."  Except in Bakersfield, the only thing to do in the summertime is play a little game that my friends and I have playfully named "Get a D.U.I."  Most of Bakersfield has won that game at this point, and as proof of that, I offer to you the last time I went to visit, when my wife and I were going out to dinner (at 3 p.m.) with my Granny and saw a D.U.I. checkpoint set up on the street right behind her condo, which is right off of one of the major surface streets that runs through the city.

It was a Wednesday.  At 3 p.m.  And people were being pulled over and given blood tests.  And failing.

I don't really miss Bakersfield.

Having grown up in this kind of urban malaise, one would be perfectly justified in thinking that I would be totally into Sludge, what with the dirty atmosphere and riffs channeled through fingers that are coursing with heroin.  But I'm really not; I have been forthright about my disdain for and befuddlement over for Eyehategod.  And I'll tell you straight that I've never liked Buzzov*en or Winter or any of the big-name sludge bands that people inexplicably trumpet as all-time greats.  I guess that playing bad riffs poorly and having amateurish production makes bands great.  Now I know.

However, I would like to express my appreciation for a kind of sludge that I like to call "shiny sludge."  I love shiny sludge.  I think that most people know what kind of bands I'm talking about here, but for those of you who might be a little confused, I'm talking about the Neur-Isis sound.  I'm talking about the crawling, shimmery riffing that comes with clean parts and time drops and keyboards sometimes.  I love that kind of shit, and I don't care how false or ungrim that makes me.

You see, sludge is like the aural equivalent of a glass of toilet water mixed with used motor oil.  I'm sure that it's something that certain people can deal with, but not me.  I prefer my sludge to look more like a tall glass of whiskey and Sprite; gross looking, and an acquired taste for sure, but supremely satisfying.  Do most people cringe at the idea of my sludge?  Absolutely, but those people are all peons, and they like to imbibe sonic Bud Light (Lady Antebellum, Arcade Fire et al), which has no taste and gives you no feeling in return.  They fear us and our raw power, and hide it under making fun of us for knowing so much about Star Wars and video games.

And my sludge ends up in the toilet rather than coming from it, which I also think of as a redeeming quality.

So that brings me to The Atlas Moth.  The Atlas Moth fall within what I consider the parameters to be called a Neur-Isis sludge band.  They're progressive, the use clean guitars and clean singing from time to time, and they're so fucking heavy that they make a school bus full of this nation's screaming, obese children look like a styrofoam cooler filled with photos of reasonably-sized children in comparison.  They're heavy the way that Kevin James was in that crappy show The King of Queens; not enough to be horrifying, but light years beyond what's normal, and somehow endearing*.  But I think The Atlas Moth don't have one incongruously hot wife (hey, Leah Romini.  Send me an email sometime), and I doubt they have the same kind of wacky adventures.

They could have a black friend, though.  I think everybody should have a black friend.

The Atlas Moth with their black friend, no doubt discussing something witty and ribald.  I wish I had a black friend.
A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky is a great album by a great band.  It's heavy and crunchy and angry and kind of not sometimes, and if you're a winner with a cool haircut, like I am, you can find it on Spotify for your listening pleasure.  And if you're not on Spotify, I think my unjustified feelings of superiority just got a little more justified.

*I'm only joking about that Kevin James crack.  Kevin James and The Atlas Moth are both unsettlingly heavy, which makes regular people hate and fear them.  If you don't believe me, watch TBS at any time to see Kevin James or check out The Atlas Moth live.  And normal people are absolutely horrified of both Kevin James and The Atlas Moth, and fear them like the Frankenstein monster.+

+This is NOT an invitation to chase Kevin James into a windmill with a torch and pitchfork, but I'd understand why you did it if you did.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spotify My Life

People have been talking about Spotify coming to America for quite some time.  I was always a little bit skeptical of the initial claims that you could listen to virtually anything--I think they put it around 15 million tracks?--any time.

"Really, Spotify?  ANYTHING?"  I said, reclining in my lavish reclining chair.  "I doubt that you could keep up with MY taste in music!  Ha!  Ha ha ha!"  (the douchey laughter gets louder and douchier until I finally over-recline and fall out of my papasan chair).

Because I'm so very tr00 and kvlt, and my taste in music is very singular and underground and edgy (not unlike the tastes of the average 14 year old, but with less swoopy haircuts), I was awash in a sea of doubt about Spotify's claims to give you access to so much music.  I was similarly suspicious of Oxy Clean's stain-fighting claims, which, as it turns out, did an admirable job of battling my skid mark stains in my underwear, but like all things in life, my skid marks proved to be much too powerful and persistent.

So the question is, would the skid marks of my musical taste prove too much for Spotify's dookie fighting capabilities to do battle with?

Answer: It doesn't seem that way at all.

Now, though I wouldn't say that Spotify is perfect, since it still lacks music by several bands that I've been listening to for the last couple of weeks, Spotify has also impressed me over and over again with the fantastic breadth and depth of music that they have to offer right out of the gates.  Example: I'd never heard the newest Slayer album, World Painted Blood, and I decided that I should try to change that.  I searched for Slayer in Spotify's memory banks, and it turns out that they have six Slayer albums and four partial Slayer albums available to listen to whenever I want.  How about something crustier, like Victims?  They've got five Victims albums available RIGHT NOW.  It's like my D-boner died and went to heaven!

I'd like to make it clear, however, that I'm a total wang and am paying for Spotify Premium, which is the top-tier service that includes ad-free listening and unlimited access to whatever crap they have that I like.  I pay $9.99 every month from now until somebody finds a way to beat this (I'm wondering what the Spotify killer would even look like...perhaps it has every song by every band EVER?  Then we're all on it!), and I'm feeling pretty good about it.  I think we can all agree that we have a lot of music theft to atone for, and I'm trying to do that to a small degree with my Spotify account.  And I keep praying and praying to my CD collection, asking it to show me what to do with my guilt so that I may be absolved.

My CD collection's stoic silence is unsettling.

Since I count that as asking the artists themselves what the best way to atone for piracy is, it turns out that they don't know, either, so Spotify is soothing my jangled nerves and allowing me to listen to Kylesa and Ringworm as much as I want.  Seriously, five Kylesa albums and seven Ringworm albums.  Hooray!

For the peasants who don't want to pay for the Premium service, I don't know what your service looks like.  I used paying for the service as a way to check out everything that it had to offer without waiting in the Spotify bread line and possibly starving to death while my children cry.  "Daddy, daddy!" they scream.  "When will they let us listen to the new Children of Bodom album?!?"

Yes, I still like Children of Bodom.  Don't judge me.  My children are crying over my dead corpse here in the frozen tundra, and all you can think of is how lame it is that I want to hear Alexi Laiho play guitar solos.  You are the worst.

Spotify might not be for everyone, though, so if you're like some people I know and only want to listen to the hand painted limited release Ashdautas audio cassette single that is still 40 minutes long or whatever, you won't find most of what you're looking for.  There's no Satanic Warmaster available, there isn't anything except for one Marduk song for some reason, and certainly no Ashdautas.  But there is plenty of stuff by Burzum, Averse Sefira, and 1349 that might whet your appetite for cold, cold grimness while you sit alone in your mother's basement.  You can even check out several Watain albums if you want to listen to pig's blood-soaked pretension wrapped in tattered mediocrity.

Sorry, I was just judging something while I listen to the new Children of Bodom album.  It's like the pot telling the kettle it has shitty taste in music, right?


Anyway, Spotify is awesome, and I think it's the wave of the future.  I don't usually do early adoption for tech stuff, but this isn't like Google+, which is going to go away in a couple of months.  Spotify is here to revolutionize the way I annoy my coworkers with my crunchy, hateful music, and I'm loving it.  And, if it makes any difference to you, they have an amazing variety of standup comedian albums to listen to, including Shane Mauss, David Huntsberger, and Dan Cummins.  My friend who does standup comedy was highly impressed with it, and you should be too.  So go check it out while I sit here and listen to Agoraphobic Nosebleed some more.  I can't believe how lame I am for not having gotten into them until now.

Thanks, Spotify!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Abysmal Dawn--Leveling the Plane of Existence

I've fallen out of death metal lately.  It sucks, because when people ask me what kind of music I'm in to, my first answer is always "crusty death metal."  I will usually elaborate, but since nobody ever knows what D-beat or grind are, it's a lot easier to just say "death metal," because that gives them all the information they need to stop talking to me.  Does it make me feel so very lonesome when people stop talking to me because of my predilection for music that everybody hates?  Shut up.  What are you, some kind of psychiatrist?  DID MY MOTHER SEND YOU?!?

But the truth is that I'm a guitar nerd, an unapologetic fret watcher, and for years and years death metal was my very favorite thing.  As a genre, it has it all; shreddy solos, guttural slamz, double bass, and the ability to repel all but the most damaged women.  It's exactly the kind of thing that a Battlestar Galactica nerd would be into, because then women would reject them for their repulsive taste in music rather than their in-depth knowledge of the gravity on different, made-up planets from a television show.  And I know that I'd rather have a woman close up shop on me because I'm so unapologetically sweatpants-oriented than because she found my movie-quality Chewbacca mask that I wear when I want to feel powerful. 

Because you can't take a picture of me enjoying death metal that's going to humiliate me on Facebook, but you can take a picture of a dude whacking off in a Chewbacca mask that, if we were in high school still, I'd have to change schools and reinvent my image to something cool, like a bully with no personality, or perhaps some kind of mopey goth.

Luckily for me, though, I found a woman who doesn't like the kind of music that I listen to and puts up with it, and I was never caught beating off in my Chewbacca mask, so that leaves me relatively humiliation-free and able to listen to as much shreddy guttural slamming that I can get my hands on.  Also luckily for me, the world is not yet bereft of death metal bands who know how to write riffs that will put a tent in those death metal sweatpants you're wearing, and Abysmal Dawn is one of those bands.

Leveling the Plane of Existence is Abysmal Dawn's newest album, and it totally fucking shreds.  I'm all about mindless tech death, but I'll tell you something, and don't hesitate to spread it around:

Abysmal Dawn write really good songs.


Unlike most standard tech death bands, Abysmal Dawn take some time to arrange their riffs in a way that doesn't sound like a bunch of willy-nilly guitar gymnastics.  No!  They instead write songs that are well arranged, with distinguishable parts and dynamics (even if those dynamics just tend to be death metal-style loud/slightly louder dynamics).  The songs are explosive, and the vokills are super guttural.  I'm always impressed when I see A.D. live, because their singer also plays guitar and he can do vokills and play these insane riffs at the same time.  AT THE SAME TIME!  It's breathtaking.  I mean, listen to the title track or "Pixilated Ignorance."  Do you hear that riff going on under the vokills?  He's doing that, too!  AT THE SAME TIME!

I'd like to write him a poem about how I love his guitar playing, but if there's one thing I've learned, it's that dudes get really creeped out of another dude writes an erotic poem about them, even if it's to celebrate how much I appreciate their guitar playing.  What a world!

The one thing that I take umbrage with is the album artwork.  Sure, it looks awesome.  But, like their 2008 crusher Programmed to Consume, Leveling the Plane of Existence features a prominent black hole.  But what is it sucking up?  It would seem that all the humans are far enough away that their only concern is that centipede monster that takes up the rest of the frame (though it does appear that perhaps the centipede did away with the humans in the swift and efficient manner of...a centipede, I guess).  But why is this kind of artwork never anatomically correct for the monsters that inhabit the ruined universe depicted?  It drives me crazy!  I don't know much about giant worm monsters, but if they don't asexually reproduce like the common earthworm, that means that there is a hidden world of centipede wangs and snatches artfully concealed.

I call bullshit on that.

Artists, if you want your artwork to be really brutal and horrifying, you need to start giving your towering centipede monsters the giant, menacing cocks that they almost certainly possess.  What would be more frightening than looking out onto your city, seeing a huge wormy monster destroying it, and then noticing that it has a dong the size of a school bus?  I think we can all agree that seeing the monster's throbbing member would be the worst part of some kind of otherworldly invasion.  Here Abysmal Dawn, I drew up a pee-pee that you can just photoshop onto the existing artwork for maximum effect:

Frightening, right?

And maybe consider adding some other worm monsters or something for the next album artwork.  Make it look like they're having fun or firing witty quips about how delicious humans taste back and forth.  Examples: 

"It's better than eating at Arby's!"

"Just like mama used to make."


"I like humans, but not when they taste like humans.  Pass the ranch dressing."

Step it up, Abysmal Dawn.

You should go listen to the album, since it streams for free on their Bandcamp page.  It's fucking awesome.

Monday, July 11, 2011

End Times--Demo 2011

When I go around on Bandcamp looking for weird stuff to listen to, I look for certain select features of a band before I even give them a try.  If the band has a goofy name or album artwork that makes them look like a third rate Symphony X, I always skip them.  The Benjamin Leaurant Project?  Sorry, and you need to get some better album artwork.  How many spaceships are on this album cover?  Three?  And are they destroying anything?  Nope...


It's amazing right now to look at all the different bands that are on Bandcamp and realizing that most of them are bedroom Djent bands (yuck) where the dude behind the music is creative enough to use his NAME as the BAND NAME (double yuck).  The rest of the bands are crusty hardcore, which I approve of to a far greater degree than bedroom Djent.  It's like the difference between being served a plate of cat turds and brussels sprouts for dinner or getting a big cheeseburger.  Maybe you're at a restaurant, and you're amazed with the wide variety of cat turd and brussels sprouts dishes being served, and worse yet, SO MANY PEOPLE ARE ORDERING THEM.  Luckily, this restaurant is also equipped with a variety of cat turd-free cheeseburgers for people who don't want to just jump on the latest (and most confusing) culinary fad.

Seriously, Djent needs to just go away.

The other thing I usually look for as a visual indicator of whether or not I'm going to listen to something is the trusty "black and white cover of something probably horrible happening/something horrible just happened," coupled with the word "Demo."

Is there a sweeter word in the musical world than "demo?"  Well, other than "sweep picking?"

I love listening to bands' demos.  It's so much fun to hear the very first thing that a band puts out, because it feeds the maniacal need for me, as a metal d00d, to be a self-righteous jerk about bands once they get signed.  We all want to be able to say "I have their demo.  It was pretty good," about a band that's coming through our town or releasing an album on Southern Lord or something.  And there's always the ancient phrase "Their demo was better."  It makes us feel like big shots when you can denounce a better-produced full-length album by declaring their three-song to be perfectly superior to the newer material, and therefore the only thing worth listening to.  And I love making myself feel like a big shot!

Finally, listening to demos makes me remember my first band.  We were a trashy punk band out of Bakersfield, CA called Stickman's Revenge.  You see, my friend Nick, with whom I constructed the initial theoretical version of the band when I was 10, used to draw comics of stick people killing each other before it became an internet fad to make cartoons of animated stickmen pulling each others cocks off with motorcycles and shit.  He was a revolutionary!  Anyway, we pulled the name of our future band from those comics he used to draw, which replaced the original name that I thought of (Squeamish Fish) when we went and saw Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in theaters in 1995.

This was probably a full year after we had initially theorized about our future band, and a full year before either of us got a musical instrument to play.

I was supposed to play drums, but since my parents were smart and forward-thinking enough to understand that giving a ten year old a drumset so that he could immediately start a PUNK ROCK BAND was a retarded idea, they got my aunt to give me a guitar instead.  Then I got a bass because Nick also got a guitar, and two guitar players was a stupid idea.

Once the band was all put together in 1999 we started playing shows, playing with Duane Peters and the Hunns several times, as well as Union 13 (who we played with and saw live no less than 10 times) and U.K. Subs, as well as several other formerly-notable punk bands.  We made a website that is somehow still standing (in a manner of speaking) before collapsing in on ourselves when teenaged angst and high school graduations became too much for the scaffolding of the band to bear.

But we did make a demo tape, on audio cassette, around the turn of the millennium, which we managed to sell hundreds of copies of (this could be a reasonably generous figure on my part, but we did sell a lot more than I ever thought we would).  Most of these red cassettes have gone the way of the buffalo, what with new technologies making audio cassettes as useful as a watch on a dead guy, but I still have mine.  I engineered it myself on a Tascam 4-Track recorder in our drummer's bedroom, and it sounds as good as you think it does.

Ahhh, memories....

Luckily for bands like End Times, technology is here and they have wisely chosen to make a demo that sounds pretty good and that can be downloaded onto interwebs for jerks like me to download for free.  And their music isn't half bad, either!  End Times are a metallic hardcore band that incorporates thrashy guitar melodies, At the Gates-style riffing and even a jazzy sort of clean guitar vignette.  Think about them as a primitive Converge with death metal influences, and you're getting there.  As with most hardcore bands, End Times is the most fun when they're frantically pounding you with D-beat, raging across a barren landscape to alert you to the fact that stuff sucks in the angriest sounding way they can construct with the tools available to them.  Which is not to discount their mid-tempo chug, either, but I think that if you've ever read this blog before, you know about my throbbing, veiny D-boner, and its predilection toward that most hallowed beat.

I was a punk rocker, after all.

If you're interested in getting in on the demo fun, just follow your nose to End Times' Bandcamp page and get your download on.  And then we can talk about how they suck now and how their demo was better than anything else, and then we'll suck each others dicks or whatever.  Come on, man, it'll be fun.  Don't be weird about it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Heavy Metal Hippie

I'm ashamed of myself pretty often, but I think I've outdone myself.

I've become a cyclist.

I know I've made allusions to it recently, but I'm just going to come out and say that I'm now a hippie cyclist and that I've been thinking more and more about buying some of those stupid clothes that cyclists wear so that my genitals and ass would enjoy maximized comfort!

But I'm not going to do that.  I refuse to listen to my idiot brain.

You see, I can't afford a second car.  I'd love to have a second car so that I didn't have to do lame things like expose my skin to the sun or get cardiovascular exercise that might extend my life.  That stuff is dumb!  It usually makes me all sweaty, and then my coworkers and anybody else who is just hanging around complain a lot.  It's almost as bad as when I play my at work (Pig Destroyer radio is so awesome)!  I invariably walk into the building, glistening with sweat and slippery as an eel from the sunscreen that my wife insists that I wear.  It's very handy to be so slick for when your boss tries to catch you to talk about team building and stuff, but mostly it's time consuming to apply and annoying to have running down your arms and face while you ride around in traffic.  But turning into a hippie turd muffin really did sneak up on me; after all, I'm more of a heavy metal hippie, where my smartphone/music player is generally playing some crunchy fucking GRIND while I thunder down the Austin pavement.  It isn't always grind, though.

The worst part about being a hippie now is the constant brushes with death that I have to deal with on may way to and from work.  For example, many days a Toyota 4 Runner with a couple of lesbians in it buzzbomb me right around the half mile where the road is downhill but the bike lane suddenly and inexplicably disappears.  It's a scientific fact that lesbians are weirded out by giant straight dudes who do things that giant straight dudes aren't supposed to be doing, like riding bicycles and looking like me.  And how do I know they're lesbians?  Because they have all the rainbow siguls all over the back of their clam-powered rocket sled, and because I've caught up to them at stop lights to give them a passive aggressive stink eye because I only managed to dodge their side mirror by divine intervention.

I'm not going to say anything to them, though, because two lesbians would fucking KICK THE SHIT out of me.

Or yesterday, I was riding past the community college, watching some motorists turn into the parking lot so that they could go better their lives like a bunch of assholes.  I was paying close attention, because this kind of situation is where people always try to kill you for no reason.  Sure as sugar, on my immediate right, a red Buick came thundering up from behind me.  I gazed at it helplessly as it hovered with its taillights just out of my view and thought "this bitch is going to make this turn right--" and as I had this thought, she jammed on her brakes and cut hard right in front of me, barely making the turn into the parking lot.  As I jammed on my brakes and pictured myself hitting her stupid Grandma mobile and flying into the passenger window and out the driver's side window like a cartoon character, no less than a dozen pedestrians and motorists looked on in horror, no doubt picturing me flying over the car like a motorcycle-riding henchman in some action movie where the villain is a Japanese guy with a cat.

We were all in suspense.

Then I stopped, less than a foot from the side of her car.  I began yelling at her as she drove away and kept on my way.

I'd like to throw in here, right now, if this scenario sounds familiar to you and you drive a red Buick to ACC around Bittern and Metric, you're a CUNT.

So how do I reconcile myself to my newly developed hippie ways?  I haven't been able to decide how I'm going to do that yet.  Mostly I've been listening to Rotten Sound and Victims to make sure that the old brain doesn't go all squishy and force me to start listening to reggae and techno like an asshole.  Fuck that shit!  I just want to make sure that I don't start getting interested in protesting and Ron Paul and fixies and dreadlocks.  I'm not like that!

I don't know what I'm trying to say here, other than "Help!"  Since I'm not in college anymore and am employed full-time, I don't get the luxury of just being poor.  I've become a lame, sweaty, bike-riding boner who's increasingly worried about his stupid health.

Oh, God.

Also, if you're ever riding around Austin, around Metric Boulevard, and you see a tall dude doing a wheelie downhill on an ancient mountain bike, say "Hello!"  That's Freddie, and that dude is awesome.  If you're ever just down the road from where Freddie is and you see a heavyset dude on an ancient road bike wearing a Kill the Client sleeveless t-shirt, that's me.  Say hello to me, too.  But don't try to murder us with your car, because it's fucking frightening.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


So it's been a solid week or so since I've posted anything, and I'm starting to get real bummed out on myself.  I had some pretty good traffic going there for a second, and I just start taking weeks off just because I've got nothing to say and I have no time to write stuff up.  What an asshole I am!  But it's okay, my little lamb, because I'm back to bring you some tasty new tunes that you likely have never heard before.

But I'm going to start this post by doing a "last week's activities roundup," because my week was so busy and interesting (it wasn't).

You see, when I get into something like a new hobby or activity, I tend to obsess really, really hard about it for the first little while.  It happened when I started recording my own music last year, it happened again when I started this stupid, pointless blog of mine, and unfortunately, it happened again with bicycles.  I'm no hippie, but I was recently thrust into the role of unwilling cyclist commuter.  At first I hated it super hard, not least because I was forced to ride my embarrassingly poorly-maintained Diamondback mountain bike on the city streets.  It was horrible, and I constantly felt like I was going to keel over in the street on Metric Boulevard and die shortly before being run over by a lesbian couple who frequently drive through the area.  The way I figure it, the lesbians get pretty close to hitting me on a fairly regular basis, and if I finally give up and die next to the mashed-up armadillo in the bike lane, I imagine that it will be them who deal my final death blow and turn my peaceful death into the splattered scene of carnage that I always imagined it would be.

But I digress.

So after a series of bicycle-related mishaps and a whole lot of time spent learning how to fix bikes, I went and bought my dream bike, which is an ancient road bike that I bought from some guy whose garage was full of them.  It's the kind of bike that a lesbian couple could spend the rest of their time running over with their 4-Runner (between visits to the vet with their dogs, that is) and never properly disable the bicycle.

It rules.

But I've been obsessively tuning up and cleaning the new bike, cannibalizing the parts off of my Diamondback to make sure that I've got dumb shit like reflectors and pedals.  And it's finally pretty much done and I can obsess about it slightly less.

Also, here in the jolly olde Colonies, we had a little major holiday happen yesterday, which went off without a hitch.  I managed to get down to Slam Antonio and visit my grandmother, who just moved here, and then get back without disgracing myself, so that's nice.  But the day started off at my aunt and uncle's house, where we convened after I took a little trip to the grocery store and found my new favorite beer.

"Holy shit!" I screamed at the grocery store in front of a group of Girl Scouts.
I was pumped on this discovery, and since my uncle is like a 60 year old dude who still likes dick jokes (a version of me from the future), we had a great deal of fun with this new discovery of mine.

Some of my favorite lines from yesterday:
"Is that your Boner in your hand?"
"Of COURSE you come over to my barbeque and show up with a Boner."
"I'm about to put six tall, dark Boners in my mouth, and I'm going to do it as quickly as possible!"
That last one was me.  My wife didn't think it was as funny as my uncle and I did.

So it was nice, but there were no fireworks because the state of Texas has been declared a state of emergency because of our drought.  I thought I got away from entire states being declared a state of emergency when I left California, but what can I do?  I always bring the disaster!

The last thing I did with my week last week was go Bandcamp surfing.  It's one of my favorite pastimes, and a great way to spend a Saturday.  But it takes heart, patience, and a willingness to listen to a lot of garbage just because the name of the band (or album artwork) is cool/hilarious.  But there are some major gems buried out there, and I'm going to spend the next few days bringing you some of it, as well as receiving some major kudos from bands that I've never heard of before Saturday morning for writing them up.  So let's start with Slave!

Slave is one of the first bands that I found this weekend when I was sitting around in my underwear, massively hungover and slightly sunburned.  You know what helps a bad hangover and slight sunburn better than you might think?  Some crusty lo-fi hardcore, and Slave fucking brings it.

Not only does Slave have the fancy, Coalesce-style album art, but they have the anger, and a name that is as simple as I imagine it is common (Googling reveals that Slave was also the name of a funk band from the 70's and 80's, who have at least one "Greatest Hits" album, and four additional bands, including a rapper).  So many Slaves!  But as far as I can tell, this is the best one.

Slave specializes in Trap Them style hardcore, which is basically my favorite thing ever, so it's easy to see why I would like this band as well as I do.  Do they stroke my raging D-boner?  You'd better believe they do!  But they also bring the Heavy, getting slow and crunchy without falling into the age-old trap of thinking that a "slow part" is the same as a breakdown.

It's not.  DAMN YOU, IT'S NOT!

It makes me feel really happy that bands like Slave are out there; when I was coming up in Bakersfield, California (just north of Slave's motherland, Los Angeles), being in a hardcore band meant being really into writing fourth-rate Hatebreed riffs and watching people do karate in the audience.  God I hate that shit!  But luckily, it would seem that now is the time for hardcore to seize back it's title from the basketball shorts-wearing Neanderthal types and return to it's former glory.  And I love hardcore's former glory so much!

Slave's new six-song EP is available for free download at their Bandcamp page, so go check it out right now if you want to get a whiff of what's going to probably be pretty popular in our pathetic little sphere of the world.  I know I'm into it.

But not as much as I'm into these Boners!

When this Boner hits the back of your throat, all it triggers is your happiness reflex.