Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Legal News Regarding Metal Musicians

A couple of pieces of legal news popped up so far this week involving metal musicians.

First off, Danzig is being sued for damages from an accident he was in in January. Apparently, Danzig rear-ended someone in a motor vehicle accident and the injured party is suing for medical bills, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. I can't imagine there's that much money in this case, but I guess it depends on the level of injury. I have not been able to find any information over what exactly the injuries here are. Hard to imagine emotional distress damages in this type of suit. I might have more comment if I had some more facts.

Secondly, Vince Neil of Motley Crue was arrested under suspicion of DUI. That's the nice way of putting it. It's suspicion until they confirm it. As a criminal defense attorney myself, I have handled a few dozen DUI cases. They are not fun. There's a lot of stuff involved. There must be a reason for the stop and there are certain procedures to follow to ensure that the field sobriety tests are being handled correctly. Then there are issues with the breath and blood test that have to be examined. They are not much fun. But, the real key here is that Vince Neil should fucking know better. He was charged with vehicular manslaughter in the 1980's when he was driving drunk and killed the drummer of Hanoi Rocks as well as seriously injuring two other passengers. What a fucking idiot.

Reader Requested Post: Norwegian vs. Swedish Black Metal

This is the final reader-requested post. This was requested by an anonymous commenter. Please feel free to ask for more at any time.

This was the toughest one for me to do, even moreso than the true metal vs. false metal post. As much as I tried to spell out the differences between these two scenes, I could not decide which point was in favor of one side or the other. The issue being that my listening habits within the metal genre are so varied that, at some times, I prefer Swedish black metal and at others, I prefer Norwegian black metal. What I ended up doing then was to make distinctions between the scenes and lay out my favorite bands. If the readers want to decide on their own which they would prefer to listen to based on those distinctions, that is their decision.

This is inarguably the most famous black metal scene. But what makes it famous is not the music. It's the crimes committed by many of its members. The scene is marked by the suicide of Mayhem vocalist Dead, the murder of Mayhem guitarist Euronymous by bassist and Burzum founding member Varg Vikernes, the murder of a gay man by Emperor drummer Bard Eithun, and a few dozen church burnings. With a backstory like that, it's no wonder the scene became so infamous. However, this infamy has cast a large shadow over what was a very vibrant music scene.

The music evolved out of darker thrash metal groups such as Bathory, Hellhammer, Sodom, Venom, and got its visual aesthetics from groups like Mercyful Fate. The music was often comprised of higher-pitched guitar tones with a lot of distortion, double-bass or blastbeat drums, and high-pitched shrieking vocals. The production is often very low quality. Norwegian black metal can be oftentimes very fast and complex as in groups like Immortal, or slower with one basic riff idea repeated ad nauseum, such as Darkthrone. Some bands evolved a more melodic approach with the influence of classical music such as Emperor and Ancient.

Norwegian black metal emphasizes the dark and cold atmosphere of its compositions. It arose mostly in opposition to death metal. As Euronymous once stated, death metal was not "cool" in Oslo, Norway. It can therefore be easily distinguished from that other form of extreme metal. When dissecting the riffs, it is often true that they are traditional metal or thrash metal riffs, either played very fast or slowed way down. Some punk and post-punk influence is also apparent in the early groups.

The lyrics of Norwegian black metal often touch on Satanism, Anti-Christianity or occult topics. However there is also some amount of fantasy-inspired lyrics. Immortal created an entire fantasy world that is explored in their music. Mythology is also often present and the darker aspects of the human experience. Enslaved started presenting lyrics about Vikings and became one of the leaders in the development of viking metal.

Norwegian black metal was one of the first scenes in the black metal genre I explored deeply. For obvious reasons, it is the most well-known scene and most people who know anything about black metal can rattle off the names of some of these bands. The bands have evolved into often considerably different forms from the time when the scene was at its peak. Mayhem has been exploring extremely chaotic song structures, Darkthrone has returned to the roots of metal, Emperor vocalist Ihsahn has formed a self-titled band in which he experiments with progressive rock, Enslaved has evolved into the black metal equivalent of Opeth, and Satyricon has been experimenting with simple rock structures to form what has been called black 'n roll. Only Immortal is still playing anything close to what they played in the early 1990's but even they have slowed down considerably.

If I had to pick a single favorite band from the Norwegian black metal scene, it would be Emperor, Immortal would come a close second. Emperor was the most interesting band musically because of the combination of raw black metal with classical music and keyboards. Many of the other bands were fairly simple from a compositional standpoint, but Emperor's music was highly complex.
The first black metal band I ever bought an album from was Dissection. Despite this, it took quite awhile before I really looked into the Swedish black metal scene. Even now, I am still not entirely familiar with many of the early albums by Swedish black metal bands like Naglfar, Nifelheim, and Arckanum. I am able to form an opinion on much of the scene from the same time period based on what I have heard from groups like Dissection, Marduk, Dark Funeral, and Lord Belial.

Black metal essentially started in Sweden. Groups like Venom and Hellhammer from the U.K. and Switzerland respectively, certainly had an influence on the formation of the genre, but Bathory was quite possibly the first real black metal band. They laid the framework for the basic black metal sound. Despite this, the second wave Swedish black metal bands did not sound much like that framework. The second wave Swedish bands were heavily influenced by death metal. Marduk was essentially a death metal-influenced take on black metal. Dissection had heavy melodic death metal touches in their music and eventually, on their final album, became a melodic death metal band. Groups like Naglfar and Lord Belial have evolved more into blackened death metal bands.

Some Swedish black metal bands have been derogatively called "Norsecore" due to the heavy death metal influences in their music. Marduk and Dark Funeral are two of the bands most commonly referred to as such. The term is meant to refer to the Swedish bands taking some of the Norwegian elements and focusing entirely on them and distorting them into a parody of the Norwegian sound. For instance, the lyrics become outlandishly Satanic and the sound becomes extremely heavy and fast. Swedish black metal bands in this style are often focused on brutality and speed with very little melody.

Other bands such as Dissection, Arckanum, and Nifelheim are extremely melodic, using guitar leads and melodies influenced by traditional metal bands and tremolo riffing, and infusing that with the blasting drums to make up the majority of their sound. These bands are much closer in relation to the Stockholm and Gothenburg death metal scenes than they are to the Norwegian black metal scene. Many bands have crossed over into the Swedish death scene. Other Swedish death metal bands have had black metal influences early in their careers, such as Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates.

The Swedish scene is not nearly as well-known as the Norwegian scene. Groups like Marduk and Dissection have had a considerable amount of influence on the further formation of the genre, but are not often spoken of in the same breath as some of the more famous Norwegian bands. Despite this, there was a very large diversity of styles in Sweden and it should not be overlooked.

Picking a favorite Swedish black metal band is much easier than picking a favorite Norwegian black metal band. I am a huge fan of Dissection's first two albums, even placing Storm of the Light's Bane in my top five all-time favorite albums. It's not even really close.
If I had to pick my favorite of these two scenes, I would probably go with Norway. I really enjoy the music of most of the Norwegian bands. Even though Dissection is my favorite black metal band, I am not as interested in Marduk, Dark Funeral, and the like as I am in Immortal, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Satyricon, and other Norwegian bands. Norway's scene has also evolved more. Dark Funeral and Marduk still sound the same, whereas the Norwegian bands have changed their sound markedly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Update on Behemoth's Legal Issues

As mentioned here, Nergal, lead singer of Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth, found himself embroiled in a bit of controversy when he tore apart a Bible onstage. He was charged with violation of a law which forbids offending someone based on their religion.

Recently, the District Judge in Gdynia, Poland dismissed the charges against Nergal due to lack of a connection between the act and anyone offended in the form of an outrage of religious emotions. Nergal's behavior was also not recognized as a crime.

Reader Requested Post: My Opinions on Varg Vikernes

This post was requested by Kelly.

Varg Vikernes is easily one of the most polarizing figures in metal. He is controversial not only for his actions, but his opinions, and his music. He is viewed by some as a musical genius, by others as a racist and a murderer. I may not agree with much he has said, and I certainly do not agree with many of his actions, but I do on occasion listen to the band he formed. This post is about my opinions on Mr. Vikernes.

I'm going to start from a fairly easy place. His music. In 1991, Vikernes formed the one-man black metal band Burzum, a band that was highly influential in the formative years of the second wave of Norwegian black metal. Burzum's cold atmosphere, tremolo riffing, harsh vocals, and blast and double kick drumming, and low production values helped lay the framework for how other black metal bands would sound. Burzum also began experimenting with dark ambient music and released two albums in this style while Vikernes was in prison. Vikernes also played bass on the seminal Mayhem album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.

I only own one Burzum album, Det Som Engang Var, but it is an extremely interesting album and is viewed as one of Burzum's best. I also own the Mayhem album he appeared on, but the bass is not terribly audible, so I can't tell if he did a good job or not.

Many people blame Vikernes for the trend of "bedroom black metal" bands who feature extremely low-quality on their recordings and repeat riffs ad nauseum while attempting to sound evil and dark. While Burzum definitely had an influence on groups like this, it's not entirely Vikernes's fault these groups exist. It certainly has no effect on the quality of his own music.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Vikernes is his beliefs. Vikernes identified himself as a Nazi after his murder conviction. This eventually ceased, however he was still mostly a racialist and a pagan. He espoused views against mixing of races, but tempered that with stating that being proud of one's heritage is equally valid and beneficial for everyone. He states that he does not actually hate anyone because hatred is irrational.

It is those racist ideals and views that have placed Vikernes in the middle of frequent controversy. I do not share his beliefs. At all. However, he is entitled to have them. Even though he is not an American, I still believe that everyone should be free to have their own beliefs. As long as those beliefs do not harm others. Vikernes has harmed people in the past, there is no doubt about that, but his racism remains mostly inside his head or on paper. He is against race mixing and is very interested in his own culture. However, it is not out of hatred of other races, it is in the interests of preserving his own ancestry. His ideas may not make sense to most people, including myself, but I do not believe that he is racist because he hates other cultures. He is racist because he so dearly loves his own.

Vikernes has spent a considerable amount of time in prison. He was found guilty of murdering Mayhem guitarist Euronymous, as well as arson of four churches. While Vikernes never actually confessed to the church burnings, he wrote to support them, claiming it was vengeance for the mistreatment of Norwegian heathens. This theory ties back to his racist beliefs.

The motive for the murder of Euronymous is less clear. Varying stories have placed the conflict over leadership of a Satanic cult, affections of a girl, and a dispute over a record contract as Euronymous ran Deathlike Silence, the label on which Burzum released material. Vikernes claims self-defense. Other sources claim it was done as part of a much larger conspiracy to blow up the Blitz house, a leftist and anarchist meeting place in Oslo.

I think the Satanic cult theory can be dismissed as Vikernes was not a Satanist. The only one with much physical evidence backing it up is the conspiracy theory as police found a significant amount of explosives in Vikernes's home after his arrest.

This is where I really have an issue with Vikernes as I don't believe vandalism and violence are ever the answers. I have no issue with him having certain beliefs as long as they are not acted upon. However, it is his aversion to Christianity that has allegedly lead him to burn down churches. There is no excuse for breaking the law. Laws are in place for society to regulate itself. I believe in Constitutional rights, which are not universal for other countries, but I still believe they should be upheld. This would allow Vikernes to believe whatever he wants, whether we agree or not, but not to do whatever he wants.

I have long been able to disconnect the people in the band from the music. There are some unsavory characters in metal, but I continue to listen to it because I love the music. Vikernes was the most difficult person for me to reconcile my feelings for his music with my feelings for the person. However, as repugnant as I find the man, I believe his music is very good. I strongly disagree with his beliefs, but I am glad we live in a world where one is allowed to have different beliefs. It is his crimes that I have more of an issue with. As an officer of the court, and thus a representative of the legal system, I have an issue with flaunting the law for personal gain. However, I still find myself disconnecting the person from the music. I picked up the only albums I own featuring Vikernes second-hand. He won't be getting any money from me, but I will get to listen to his music.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekly Recap: 6/20-6/26

I started the week out on Monday asking for recommendations for posts. I was somewhat surprised at the response to be honest. I still have planned a couple of posts next week to cover everything. Expect a post about my opinions on Varg Vikernes/Burzum and a post about Norwegian vs. Swedish black metal. As Thursday is the first day of July, also keep an eye out for my Best of 2010 So Far post.

This week I finished my project of converting my tapes and records to CDs. I have yet to listen to them at this time to find out if the recording quality was any good. I'm not too worried about that though. It was a bit of a slow week at work. I only had court once this week. That's okay, because I have three criminal arraignments Monday morning alone. Hastings continued to confuse me as it stocked Danzig's new album. Still no Watain, Nevermore, or Nachtmystium though. My fiancee finished her first session of summer school. It will be nice that she won't have to study late at night for a week, until second session starts. My friend welcomed a baby boy on Thursday.

Ozzy Osbourne released a new album this week. I am not terribly interested in checking that out. Ozzy needs to retire. Danzig's new album was also released, which was surprisingly good. The Big Four tour is going reasonably well. I would love it if it came to the U.S.

Anacrusis: Manic Impressions
Artillery: Through the Years
Blood Stained Dusk: Black Faith InquisitionBloodbath: The Fathomless Mastery
Bolt Thrower: Mercenary
Brain Drill: Quantum Catastrophe
Cadaver Inc.: Discipline
Cannibal Corpse: Tomb of the Mutilated
Carcass: Symphonies of Sickness
Cauldron: Chained to the Nite
Charred Walls of the Damned: Charred Walls of the Damned
Cradle of Filth: Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder
Danzig: Deth Red Sabaoth
Deceased...: Behind the Mourner's Veil
Evile: Enter the Grave
Evile: Infected Nations
Godless Rising: Rising Hatred
Gorgoroth: Incipit Satan
Heathen: Breaking the Silence
Heathen: Victims of Deception
Impaled Nazarene: Nihil
King Diamond: The Spider's Lullabye
Kreator: Endless Pain
Lethal: Programmed
Megadeth: Endgame
Megadeth: So Far, So Good...So What!
Metal Church: This Present Wasteland
Metallica: Live Concert 10/26/08
Morbid Angel: Blessed are the Sick
Nailbomb: Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide
Napalm Death: Fear, Emptiness, Despair
Necrovation: Breed Deadness Blood
Nitro: O.F.R.
Nocturnus: The Key
Omnium Gatherum: The Red Shift
Primal Fear: Black Sun
Razor: Violent Restitution
Sacrifice: Forward to Termination
Sinister: Diabolical Summoning
Skyclad: Prince of the Poverty Line
Slaughter: Strappado
Sodom: Tapping the Vein
Solitude Aeturnus: Beyond the Crimson Horizon
Suffocation: Despise the Sun
The Gates of Slumber: Hymns of Blood and Thunder
Tiamat: A Deeper Kind of Slumber
Tribes of Neurot & Walking Time Bombs: Static Migration
Trivium: Shogun
Voivod: Negatron
W.A.S.P.: The Last Command
Warbeast: Krush the Enemy

Initial Impressions: Danzig: Deth Red Sabaoth

I was somewhat apprehensive about this album. I have not really picked up on much of Danzig's stuff since the Thrall-Demonsweatlive EP, but Danzig was one of the artists that made me a metalhead. Back when I was in middle school, Danzig's live "Mother" video was played on MTV in regular rotation. That seems weird now to think about. I loved that song and my older brother bought the EP. He eventually gave it to me when he stopped listening to metal. Over the years, I had picked up the three previous albums and even a Misfits CD. I really liked Danzig's voice, a demonic crooning that calls to mind Jim Morrison or Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, Danzig released some subpar albums after that and the magic appeared to be gone.

Until now.

I was convinced to pick this album up after reading Kelly's review. It does sound as if Danzig is back on this album. The album sounds like a continuation of the classic Danzig era. His voice sounds weathered, but still potent. As a man in his mid-50's, he should not be expected to still be able to belt out the crooning from his earlier days.

As far as the music goes, Glenn Danzig has surrounded himself with Tommy Victor from Prong on guitar and Johnny Kelly from Type O Negative on drums. Both fine musicians. The album starts off extremely strong on opener "Hammer of the Gods", and keeps this going for some time. The album kind of starts to drag after a little while. Danzig uses the same basic song structure throughout, making many of the songs a little simple. The lyrics are a little silly at times such as those on "Ju Ju Bone" and "Black Candy" which features the line "Black candy is so hard to find" which isn't even remotely true.

Still though, all those things are pretty much par for the course for Danzig. I'm just glad he's back.

Initial Impressions: Brain Drill: Quantum Catastrophe

Technical death is an odd genre. Some bands are so focused on putting together a shredathon that they fail to write a coherent song. Other bands ground their technical mastery around something that at least comes close to an actual song. Technical death metal bands are more focused on the instrumentation than the lyrics and the guitarist must be an absolute magician with the instrument to pull it off well. Unfortunately, this has lead many bands to be derided as "soulless", relying too much on technical wankery and not on putting out music that sounds good. A healthy balance is needed to be an interesting tech-death band. That balance has been achieved in the past by groups like Necrophagist, Origin, Obscura, and Prostitute Disfigurement, among others.

Brain Drill is somewhat new to the technical death metal scene, having only formed in 2005, but they were snatched up quickly by Metal Blade. They released only an EP before joining the label and put out their debut full-length in 2008. This is their sophomore release. I was not terribly familiar with them on their prior album, having only heard a few songs. But the impression I had was that their music was the dreaded S-word.

This album is definitely a step in the right direction musically as the band does manage to put together some interesting songs. There are some good, well-developed melodies in here at times, although this is often immediately lost in the frenetic guitar sweeps. Guitarist Dylan Ruskin definitely has technical chops, there is no doubt about that. It would be nice to hear him play something more melodic, but I guess it's his band (Ruskin is the only remaining original member after the other three left due to some bad touring experiences). The other instruments are just there to hold things together for the guitar.

Brain Drill has a ways to go before they can be placed in the same sentence as Origin and the other bands mentioned above. This album is a step in the right direction, but it still possesses some of the problems that crippled their prior album.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Initial Impressions: Sinister: Diabolical Summoning

Recently on the Metal Archives forum there was a thread about great old school death metal gems that were kind of forgotten about. It was there that I saw a post about this band. Sinister is a death metal band that formed in Netherlands in 1988. This albumw as released in 1993, which is surprising because it sounds like something much more recent.

Sinister's style of death metal sounds more like a combination of Immolation, Morbid Angel, and Suffocation. It's extremely heavy, and a little bit slower with deep grooves. It's incredibly brutal and intense and has the occasional faster part and blazing guitar solo. The heavy riffs, pounding drums, and deep guttural vocals give off a suffocating feel to the album. It is a death metal album that actually sounds evil.

This is one HELL of a death metal release. It's a shame that it's been largely ignored for so long.

Initial Impressions: Heathen: Breaking the Silence and Victims of Deception

This post will cover two albums I recently picked up from underrated progressive thrash pioneers Heathen. The Bay Area band formed in the mid 1980's and is unfortunately one of the forgotten bands from that area. Despite the huge hype you hear about the Bay Area thrash scene, a couple of bands pretty much dominate the public perception of the scene and few other bands are real well-known outside of metal circles.

BREAKING THE SILENCEHeathen's debut album was released in 1987, a high point for thrash metal, particularly in the Bay Area. The band had already begun showing their progressive tendencies. Many of the songs contain intricate structures with multiple rhythms and riffs. The album has some truly fantastic riffs and the technical skill of the musicians is amazing. Lee Altus and Doug Piercy are both highly-talented guitarists and play off of each other quite well.

The vocals are admirably handled by David White, who possesses a higher-register vocal style and soars over the guitar riffs. At a time when many thrash metal vocalists were experimenting with yelling and in general harsher vocals, White's singing is a refreshing change of pace.

The songs are all well-crafted and catchy. There are some great songs here that probably could have garnered the band some hits at the time if they had a little more exposure. Highlights for me are the title track, "Open the Grave", and "World's End".

This is a melodic, infectious, and underrated thrash metal album. It is highly recommended to anyone interested in the Bay Area scene.

VICTIMS OF DECEPTIONIt took four years for Heathen to release their sophomore album and when they finally did, the thrash metal landscape was already undergoing a massive change thanks to Metallica's Black Album. This was very unfortunate timing because Heathen's 1991 release should be considered a true thrash metal classic. This album is amazing from start to finish.

Heathen's progressive tendencies on the last album have become the principal element of the band's sound on this album. The tracks are all on the longer side of things, but that just gives the band more time to play with structures and riffs and put out one hell of an album. Altus and Piercy again helm the guitars and have crafted some more memorable riffs and solos. It is truly the guitarists that drive this band.

Dave White also returns to provide more air raid-style vocals. White really could have sung for a U.S. power metal band, his range is that impressive. The other instruments are played well, but ultimately take a back seat to the amazing guitar work.

Unfortunately, this album was the end of the road for Heathen until their 2009 reunion. Thrash, and metal in general, was falling out of style and labels were dropping metal bands. Heathen was one such casualty. I have not heard their comeback album yet, but word is that it is fantastic.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reader Requested Post: True Metal vs. False Metal

This request came from Kelly at Full Metal Attorney, my former law school colleague. It's sure to ruffle some feathers.

Heavy metal or no metal at all whimps and posers leave the hall
-Manowar: "Metal Warriors"

Almost as long as there has been heavy metal, there has been the perception, rightfully or wrongfully, that there is a true and false metal. Much of this has been largely the fault of the misunderstanding media. You see, the mainstream media does not understand metal, shocking, I know. As a result of this, we have lots of bands that the media labels "metal" which really have little to nothing to do with the genre. This has been the case since the very beginning when groups like The Eagles and Boston being labelled "heavy metal". In the 1980's, the entire glam scene was lumped under the "metal" category despite the differences between the music of metal artists like Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Dokken, W.A.S.P., and Motley Crue versus the hard tock artists like Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Poison, Ratt, and others. This continued to the 1990's when grunge groups like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers were initially sold under the "metal" genre. In the late 1990's, nu-metal became popular, a genre which in itself is a misnomer because of the relatively minor metal influence. Korn, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, and other nu-metal bands had little to nothing to do with metal. Even today, bands play a fuson of genres that has lead some bands to be considered metal and others to be considered more hardcore. Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Parkway Drive, Oceano, and Suicide Silence have fallen on the core side whereas Trivium, Bleeding Through, Killswitch Engage, Job for a Cowboy, Whitechapel, and Through the Eyes of the Dead have been deemed to have more metal influences than core influences. Part of the reason that the media does this may be due to lack of knowledge of the genre, and in particular in the early 1990's, it is a calculated effort to push other types of music. It is because of this that many metalheads have risen their fists in protest with the slogan "Death to False Metal".

At the center of this categorization controversy is the website Encyclopedia Metallum. The function of this website is to act as a database of known metal bands that have released physical copies of their music. However, it is the stringent guidelines for what is considered metal that has made the site infamous. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Slipknot, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Soulfly, and many others are considered too borderline by the website to be included as metal bands. However the site also lets in groups like Faith No More, Soundgarden, Sunn O))), Helmet, Def Leppard, and other groups that have been complained about.

My own personal definition of false metal has been posted on this site. I believe false metal bands are those bands that attempt to define themselves as metal, despite having little to nothing in common with the genre, and their only metal influences being the very tip of the iceberg: mainstream bands like Metallica and Black Sabbath. I do not personally have a problem with bands that infuse other genres with metal. I do not have a problem with hardcore bands that add a little metal influence. I do not have a problem with bands playing the music they want to play. I just do not always consider those bands metal. Metal bands, to me, must play mostly metal music. If the music is not metal, the band is not metal.

Slipknot is a good example of what I am talking about. I don't consider the majority of the music Slipknot has played to be metal. Some songs certainly are, and many other songs have metal elements. But, many of those songs are not made up exclusively of metal elements, or even primarily. It's not pure metal influences. It does not have to be pure to be metal, but it should be primarily metal. That is not to say Slipknot is a bad band, I do not personally like them, but I have no issue with people who do.

Another issue that has frequently been brought up in false metal conversations are bands that play metal but for the wrong reasons. I have read many reviews of groups like The Sword, Dethklok, Early Man, Trivium, and others. These bands are accused of being trendhoppers, being exclusively products of record labels' manipulation of the media, or playing metal specifically for the potential market. Early Man in particular was derided for being trendhoppers, and there is some potential justification for that. The band was the creation of two members from Ohio who had backgrounds in largely indie music and then decided to grow their hair and play metal. Many metalheads are skeptical of band members who do not claim an undying, lifelong fascination with metal. Are they right or wrong? Who's to decide?

I consider myself to be a huge metal fan. My personal preferred genres are thrash, death, and traditional metal genres. As such, I would fit the definition of a true metal fan. I listen almost exclusively to metal. There was a blog I read recently which stated that music is a luxury and as such, one should only listen to music they enjoy. As metal is right now the only genre I truly enjoy, that's all I listen to. It does not make me close-minded. I know what I like. If exposed to something truly interesting in another genre, I would be willing to investigate further, but I have not found that. However, I do not claim people who do listen to other genres to be poseurs, or anything like that. People's musical preferences are none of my business.

With all that being said, I think it is the often close-minded, stubborn metalheads that take those way too seriously that raise the banner agaisnt false metal. I like to make fun of non-metal bands on here a lot. But since this is my blog and my opinion, I get to do so. I don't like the bands, but that doesn't mean I have a problem with the fans. I may not understand why they listen to The Devil Wears Prada or Iwrestledabearonce, but they may not understand why I listen to Katalepsy or Vomit Remnants. It's just music. The idea that we need to have a Crusade Against False Metal is silly.

The website Lamentations of the Flame Princess has an excellent essay on false metal for more information.

Funny Youtube Video: Hevisaurus

I was too old when Barney the Purple Dinosaur came out. Still, this has to be a significant improvement. This is Finnish children's act Hevisaurus, and yes they play heavy metal. What a weird world we live in.

Compilations: Metalhit.com Sampler

Recently, when I won a contest on Metal Maniacs' website, I received two CDs from Lithuanian black metal bands. Also included in the usual mess of promotional materials for various small, underground labels was a gift card for a free download of sampler tracks from Metalhit.com. Not being one to turn down free stuff, I downloaded the album, thinking maybe it will convince me to pick up a few of the albums.

Melodic black metal with a heavy use of tremolo riffing. I actually really like this. The vocals could stand to be a little higher in the mix, but the tremolo riff is very interesting and catchy. The blasting drums behind it is a little stereotypical, but sounds pretty good. There's a slower interlude that keeps things from becoming boring. Definitely interesting.

This one is good old-fashioned death metal. The song is absolutely filthy and raw. It truly sounds nasty. The band is on Ibex Moon Records which is a very trustworthy label for death metal. This is the way that death metal should sound. I will definitely have to get this one.

This is off an album called Composting the Masticated. So yeah, if you guessed slam death you're right. Somewhat interesting band. There really are not a ton of really good slam death bands out there, but this one sounds moderately interesting. I can see why this wouldn't be everyone's thing but slam death is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine.

Another great old school-sounding death metal song. This one sounds a little closer to groups like Morbid Angel and Immolation. That is, very heavy, with sick riffs and dessicated vocals. It's also very fast, eschewing the sludgy feel of their influences, but keeping the same downtuned guitars. Very interesting indeed.

I was expecting some type of deathcore. While the band certainly does have deathcore elements (breakdown about halfway through), they're not quite as bad and obvious about it as some of their contemporaries. It's still definitely deathcore, but it's a little better than groups like Suicide Silence and Arsonists Get All the Girls. The guitar tone is interesting. Listenable, but not much more.

Already familiar with this band, the project of members of Asphyx and Thanatos. Already a huge fan. Don't need to listen to this song to further prove that. I will just say Martin Van Drunen is one of my favorite death metal vocalists, if not my favorite, and Thanatos is very underrated. Great to hear a new song from them, even if it is just from an EP.

I'm also already familiar with this Swedish death metal band and already enjoy them. This is off their newest album and this thing sounds like it will be awesome. This is another backward-looking band, focused on the early 1990's sounds of Grave, Nihilist, Carnage, and Nirvana 2002 among others.

This one surprised me. I was expecting black metal, but what I got was a frenetic coupling of black and thrash metal. Blackened thrash being a particularly favorite subgenre of mine, I really enjoyed the hell out of this. Definitely interested in hearing more from these guys.

Quite possibly the U.S.'s oldest metal band, forming in 1971, Pentagram still plays fuzzed-out doom metal with heavy riffs and sleazy vocals. For some reason, I have not looked too much into Pentagram. One of these days, that will change. This is off their 2001 album that was recently reissued.

I am familiar with this new technical thrash outfit. I loved last year's album and this track comes from that album. So I'm already ahead of the game on this one.

This is black metal with something of a dark, epic feel to it. The whole thing sounds like the sound of a particularly harsh winter. It's angry and cold and blustery. Not bad at all. My curiosity is piqued.

This is kind of interesting modern death metal. I'm not sure they've quite got everything together. The guitar riffs are very fast, but the vocalist kind of lumbers through the lyrics, holding individual words for quite awhile while the music blasts away. It's a little disorienting. The music is good, the vocals just need to match them. This is a fairly raw recording too, the guitars could use a little boost in the production. A decent start, but needs improvement.

I don't know what that word is. This is uber-technical shredding, without any coherent ideas. I'm not even sure if it's metal or not, there don't seem to be any discernible riffs or structure, it's just shred after shred. Fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan may be interested. I am not such a fan, so no, I don't care at all for it.

I bet these guys are a blast at parties. Apparently they have something against both male and female genitals. From their album Post-Abortion Slut Fuck, this is more slam death, this time from Italy. This one has a thicker production than the last band, but the vocals are unfortunately kind of buried in the mix. The drums are higher, which are usually the more interesting feature of slam death, so this is a good thing. I don't know if I would look further into this band or not. Possibly if I have another desire to get some more slam soon. I haven't done that for a little while.

Hell yes. I really enjoy Watain so I am really looking forward to their new album. This song is great. Very fast and chaotic black metal with a dark atmosphere. Watain has often been called the heirs to Dissection's throne, while I still don't believe that's possible, they have quickly become one of the leading black metal bands. I will definitely check this out.

Wormrot has created a bit of a stir lately. The grindcore band from Singapore was signed to Earache immediately after one of the label's heads heard a sampler download from the site Invisible Oranges. This is very interesting death/grind. One I may have to check out. The song is extremely short, fast, and angry. No wonder this band is making waves.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


This is a request from Mrs. Metallattorney, who is obviously my fiancee and likes to create havoc sometimes on this blog. Love you honey:)

Well, I'm sure it was a joke, but here's Witchery's "Inquisition" anyway. Hah.

Burning red of charcoal the roasting place of rest
Flames are slowly stirring in this hideous nest
Red hot sparkling pokers lay waiting in the heat
Blackened grid of iron stained with darkened meat

There's a place here for you
We'd like to question you too
Welcome in feel at home settle down you'll have to...

Speak your mind tell the truth don't you lie
The church has the power and a heretic we shall find
No matter what you think who you are and what you do
For we will get the answers that we want out of you!

Hooded are the masters of this holy trial
Pleaded to by many but mercy recievers denial
Silent, skillful and handy their tread they do respect
Amongst the questioned thousands the guilty they'll detect.

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of knowledge about the Spanish Inquisition, and I'm not completely sure of the historical accuracy of Monty Python, or Witchery for that matter. Still, what an interesting topic. I like it when Catholics claim that Islam is a violent religion, turning their backs and pretending the Spanish Inquisition never happened. The major purpose of this was to maintain orthodoxy over several conquered areas and ensure that the people of other religions that were forced to accept Catholicism under pain of death were continuing to follow. It was created to suppress heresy, but also had a hand in other offenses such as bigamy, witchcraft, blasphemy, and sodomy.

The Inquisitor General was designated by the Spanish monarchy and was tasked with organizing the Inquisition. When the Inquisition arrived in a city, they would read an edict following a Sunday mass setting forth the categories of offenses and ask for people to tell them any suspects. There wasn't much in the way of due process as the defendants would not be able to confront their accusers and the Inquisition did not do much to ensure the allegations were factual. The accused would be detained while awaiting trial, which could last two years or so. Their property was seized and sold to pay for the procedures. The defendant was put on trial and interrogated, which often entailed torture, such as the rack and strappado (hanging them by the wrists which were held behind their back and hanging weights from their ankles). Very seldomly were people acquitted.

We also have a song by Slaughter called "Strappado":
Prepare yourself for torture
Prepare yourself to scream
This is no bloody story, ain't no fucking dream
Arms are tied behind your back
Hands tight in a rope
Suddenly your hoisted up,
Shoulder blades get broke


Put on a pair of Spanish boots
Time to soak your feet
Plunge them into boiling oil
Fried alive in your seat
Dangle up on sky hooks
Strappado drives you mad
Arms rip off, you slam to the ground
Pain’s the latest fad



Clearly, a violent time period.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reader Requested Post: Dethklok

I recently requested reader recommendations for posts. I got a decent-sized response and I will try to get to most of them. Just bear with me. I will start off with one that I have considered for a little while. This is a request from Kelly from Full Metal Attorney

Ah yes, Dethklok. For the uninitiated, Dethklok is the cartoon band in the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse. God, I hope I spelled that correctly. I am by no means a fan of the show, but I have seen it on several occasions. I am also well aware of the backlash against the show and, in particular, the fact that Dethklok has released two actual albums. The show was created by Brendon Small, who was also the creator of the show Home Movies, also on Adult Swim.

The show is meant as a parody of heavy metal. I think that's where a lot of metalheads get upset. It's lampooning their genre and then has the gall to release albums that people actually buy. But the fact is, Small is very clearly a fan of heavy metal. He also plays most of the instruments and sings on the albums. Gene Hoglan of Forbidden and several other bands does supply the drums. While the humor is obviously silly and violent, there are several metal in-jokes. From the fictional members vaguely resembling actual metal musicians, cameo appearances from the likes of Kirk Hammett, King Diamond, Ihsahn, and others, to the use of names like Crystal Mountain Records and Dimmu Burger, it's clear Small knows what he's doing.

The show is a lot like This is Spinal Tap, in that it is poking fun at metal and the stereotypes of metalheads. There really is nothing wrong with this if it is done well. I guess that's the issue though. A lot of people believe This is Spinal Tap was done well. Metalocalypse has not reached that level of acceptance.

As for the music, I am only vaguely familiar with a couple of songs. It seems to be mostly bland, but competent melodic death metal. The riffs are not mind-blowing, or really all that memorable, but Small does a decent enough job. The vocals are typically delivered in a deep, guttural grunt and are sometimes difficult to make out. It's inoffensive and safe music. The lyrics aren't obviously. Maybe if the music were better, metalheads would like it more. I don't know.

Dethklok doesn't really have all that much affect on me. I can see some of the humor, but I don't watch the show often enough to be interested in it all that much. Some people are offended because they believe that the show will cause people to look down on metalheads. Time to wake up, they already do. They don't need a cartoon to have a bad impression of us. Ultimately, if the show brings in some younger people into the world of real metal, then Brendon Small has done his job.

Blind Buy Surprise Albums: (Dis)Honorable Mentions

I recently did a series of albums that I picked up blindly that were huge successes. Those albums became some of my favorites and I had no idea what I was getting myself into by getting them. Well, sometimes things don't work out that way. Every once in awhile, I will buy an album with some level of expectation that then goes horribly, horribly awry. This post will look at two of those collossal mistakes.

When I used to listen to a lot of styles of hard rock (for the last several years I have been limited to metal) I would occasionally buy an album that was for the most part pretty wretched. Particularly in the nu-metal subgenre. Since I have been exclusively into metal for a few years, there have not been too many blind buy mistakes. There has been one, one in which I thought I knew what to expect but was very wrong. Early on, there was one other one which I will address as it is related to the metal genre. Prior to that though, there were several others, bands I just don't listen to anymore so I won't cover them.

These are the metal blind buys that did not work out:

TIAMAT: A DEEPER KIND OF SLUMBERI did discuss this album early on in the formation of this blog. I owned an album by Tiamat that I got in a Century Media Grab Bag and I was spellbound by the dark atmospheric death metal of that album. I was vaguely aware that Tiamat did not really sound like that for much longer, but went in a gothic direction. However, I did not know how far they had fallen.

One day, I was in Hastings Bookstore in Kearney, Nebraska after a final divorce hearing. I was there to pick up new releases from Arch Enemy, Down, High on Fire, and Amorphis, and I also saw this reissue of the Tiamat album. Having enough cash to pick up five albums, I decided to grab it.

It wasn't until late that night that I started to listen to it. I was not pleased with what I heard. There was not an ounce of metal on the entire album. The whole thing was some ethereal dreamlike sonicscape. Gone were the dark atmospherics of the other Tiamat I knew and the harsh vocals and the crushing, malevolent riffs. In their place were just long, meandering melodies and soft vocals. I couldn't listen to a single song without falling asleep. I should say, the first song isn't terrible, but it's not any different from the bland bullshit put out by H.I.M.

The next time I was in Kearney (which was that weekend to visit my brother), I took the CD back and exchanged it for Immolation's Failures for Gods. Recently, I downloaded it to listen to it fully and see if it was as bad as I remembered. It is.

TRIBES OF NEUROT & WALKING TIME BOMBS: STATIC MIGRATIONI don't remember what the hell my thought process was in picking this thing up. I remember being in high school and going to Best Buy with a friend. We were browsing CDs just to kill some time. I remember picking up a couple of CDs, trying to find something new. I do remember having a Kyuss CD in my hand at one point. But then I saw this and realized it was on the same label as Amorphis, a band I had only recently become interested in. It also stated that it was a side project of Neurosis, a band I had heard of and knew were part of the metal/hard rock scene. So, I picked it up and bought it. Huge mistake.

It wasn't until the ride back from dropping the friend off that I listened to it, and there was NOTHING THERE. There was no music. It was just noise. Ambient albums do not interest me in the slightest. I just don't understand them. This album is no exception. It's apparently meant to be played at the same time as one of Neurosis's albums, but I can't imagine how and I don't care, quite frankly. To make matters even more confusing, Walking Time Bombs is apparently Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer and Agoraphobic Nosebleed. How did Neurosis and a member of Pig Destroyer get together to form something so awful?! This album is single-handedly the reason I have not checked out Neurosis or anything by Scott Hull. Plus, it's fucking 75 minutes long!

True testament to how bad this album is: when I was in college, my car was broken into and a lot of my CDs, my stereo, my backpack with my expensive new calculator, my tape player, and a lot of other stuff were stolen. I was out over $1,000.00 worth of stuff. A few weeks later, my backpack was found outside a college dorm and I was contacted to pick it up. All my school papers and books were there, so was my tape player thankfully, as well as some random stuff, including this CD. That's right, not even the assholes who broke into my car to steal a bunch of CDs wanted this one. Not even to sell.

The worst part about this post was actually listening to these albums once more, just to "inspire" me to write about them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Request for Post Ideas

For several months now I have had an ongoing list of upcoming posts. Not counting Initial Impressions, this list now only has one entry left, one for which there will be a posting early this week. A very painful one, but that will be explained in due time.

So because I am running low on ideas, I thought I would do something unprecedented on this blog and take reader requests. I know I don't have too many readers, so I probably won't get a lot of ideas from this, but if there is anything you want my opinion on, please let me know.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lyrical Themes: Dirty Songs

I had this conversation with my fiancee when we were driving to Lincoln last Saturday morning. We were listening to her iPOD at the time, because I am a considerate boyfriend and let her occasionally listen to her music in my car while traveling :rolling eyes:. I think we were listening to Nickelback at the time, not one of my favorites but better than some of the alternatives. Anyway, she asked me if there were any dirty songs in metal. Of course there are. Metal covers a very wide variety of themes. So, I decided to look into things a little bit.

Here we go:

Imagine you were at my station
And you brought your motor to me
Your a burner yeah a real motor car
Said you wanna get your order filled
Made me shiver when I put it in
Pumping just won't do ya know luckily for you
Whoever thought you'd be better
At turning a screw than me
I do it for my life
Made my drive shaft crank
Made my pistons bulge
Made my ball bearing melt from the heat
We were shifting hard when we took off
Put tonight all four on the floor
When we hit top end you know it feels to slow
I'm giving you my room service
And ya know it's more than enough
Oh one more time ya know I'm in love

Here we have a song about an encounter between a mechanic and a woman. Lots of double entendres here. Interestingly, this song features the same riff as the Metallica classic "The Four Horsemen", mostly because "Mechanix" is the original version of the song written while Mustaine was still in Metallica.

You're the master
And i take it on my knees
I swallow, i swallow, i swallow, i swallow
Be aggressive
B-e aggresive

This song is about oral sex. Obviously. Not the least bit subtle. My favorite part about this is the Be Aggressive cheer sounds as if it is actually being performed by cheerleaders, adding an extra bizarre layer to the proceedings.

Rob Halford is gay. This fact is less surprising when you look back at some of the songs he wrote while a member of the band. Song titles like "Hell Bent for Leather", "Grinder", "Ram It Down", "Jawbreaker", and "Eat Me Alive" take on a new meaning when you realize this.

All I need is a lady
With more than average size
She's gotta be a bit crazy
Won't take no compromise
If she can fill a "D" cup
It's good enough to keep me up

Get you down on your backside
I wanna see your wares
Gonna mount you for a good ride
Nothing else compares
Takin' one into each hand
Do as I command

Doin' the Butter-Bust Jerky
We're gonna get down and dirty
Doin' the Butter-Bust Jerky
And makin' me feel so good

Dip your fingers in the butter
Spread it all across your chest
In between one another
You know what I like best
Push 'em close together
The tighter the better

Doin' the Butter-Bust Jerky
We're gonna get down and dirty
Doin' the Butter-Bust Jerky
We're gonna get down and dirty
Doin' the Butter-Bust Jerky
And makin' me feel so good

Ah, the 1980's. The only decade you could get away with this crap.

More obvious song titles: "Love is Infectious", "Dirty Trix Dept.", "Aphrodisiac", "Booby Trap", "Sexloitation".

Need I say more?

Moonspell has had a number of songs dealing with gothic, erotic themes. Songs like "Vampiria" and "An Erotic Alchemy" come to mind. Danzig has also done some things like this.

"Girls, Girls, Girls", "Same Ol' Situation", and "She Goes Down" are just obvious.

I fucked your girlfriend last night.
While you snored and drooled, I fucked your love.
She called me Daddy. And I called her baby when I
Smacked her ass. I called her sugar when I ate
Her alive till daylight. And I slept with her all
Over me, from forehead to ribcage I dripper her ass.
Sometimes I thought you might be spying, living out some
Brash fantasy, but no. You were knocked out. But we were
All knocked out you know. In a way
I serve too many masters.
We didn't know you'd break the bottle that the magic
Came in to use those jagged shards to slit our wrists
And neck. And you'd do it too, you're that kind of dude.
But you wouldn't know what you were doing because
I didn't, your girlfriend could have been a burn
Victim, an amputee, a dead body. But god damn I wanted
To fuck.
I'm serving too many fucking masters.
[I told you. I told you motherfucker]

I hate this song really.

Over and under, do you go down to the sea
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Sweet and timely caress, dear babe fulfillin' me

I can feel her heart, it is beating down inside
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty

Into her valley, all her charms taste of love
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fragrance of my dreams, yeah go down, take my love
Oh yeah, yeah

Taste my bitter wine, cos there's something boiling up inside
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty

Make me go.....
Shoot me
Faster, faster

Love, sucking my love
Oh Lord, sucking my love
Oh Lord, sucking my love

Yeah. This is subtle.

We have songs like "Satanic Lust", "Ready to Fuck", "Desecration of Virgin", and "Sex, Drinks, and Metal". Plus, English is not their first language. Thus, the lyrics:
Stand up to see
My penetrator hammer
He will make your dreams
Turn to reality

I will lick you
Of the feets 'till the head
Making you feel torrential orgasms

Oh lady start to suck me
Because i'm ready
I'm ready to fuck

Stand up to feel
My machine of delight
He will make your reality turn to a dream

It's no secret we're close
As sweaty velcro
Like latex, fur and feathers
Stuck together, now

In their '62 Vette
Sharing one cigarette
In a black light trance then
Go go dance, then

They keep me warm on cold nights
We must be quite a sight
In our meat triangle
All tangled, wow

My girlfriend's girlfriend
She looks like you
My girlfriend's girlfriend
She's my girl, too

Her and me and her and she and me
An uncrowded couple are we three
And we don't care what people say
When walking hand in hand down King's Highway
Two for one today

My girlfriend's girlfriend
She looks like you
My girlfriend's girlfriend
She's my girl

In her place one hundred candles burning
As salty sweat drips from her breast
Her hips move and I can feel what they're saying, swaying
They say the beast inside of me's gonna get ya, get ya, get...

Black lipstick stains on her glass of red wine
I am your servant, may I light your cigarette?
Those lips smooth, yeah I can feel what you're saying, praying
They say the beast inside of me is gonna get ya, get ya, get...

I beg to serve, your wish is my law
Now close those eyes, and let me love you to death
Shall I prove that I mean what I'm saying, begging
I say the beast inside of me is gonna get ya, get ya, get...

Let me love you to
Let me love you to death

Hey am I good enough for you?
Hey am I good enough for you?
Am I?
Am I?
Am I good enough
For you?

Teacher caught me masturbating underneath the desk
she looked at me and winked her eye said "see you after class"
I heard the school bell ring that told me that the day was done
She called me back and locked the door my lessons just begun

Teacher's pet
Teacher's wet

Sitting down she crossed her legs her skirt crept up her thigh
Feeling something start to rise my thought began to fly
You've been a naughty boy, she said, now that you can't conceal
I'll have to punish you the best way that I feel

Teacher's pet
Teacher's wet

She took my hand and gently placed it in between her thighs
With open legs and heavy breath she slowly closed her eyes
Her flesh was aching and her hands began to stray
One thing that I know for sure, I won't forget today

Teacher's pet
Teacher's wet

Pulled me down forwards her mound, teacher tasted sweet
Sixty-nine - I don't mean lines, this was teachers treat
Played hide and seek with teachers mouth, her lips were warm and wet
Now today I've had my way and teacher won't forget

Teacher's pet
Teacher's wet

W.A.S.P. wrote a song called "Fuck Like a Beast". Enough said.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Weekly Recap: 6/13-6/19

Ugh, what a week. The results of my child custody trial came back and were not good. Not as a result of anything I did wrong, just the situation for my client. I also had some issues with another client. My fiancee has not been feeling well most of the week and has an injured finger as well. She's been very busy with homework and work, so she doesn't have much free time anymore. We did spend last weekend in Lincoln.

In metal news, the much-hyped Big 4 shows are starting. It would be great to see Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer all on one stage. I don't think the positive feelings could possibly last long enough to get them to do a full U.S. tour though. None of those bands really care all that much for the others.

Iron Maiden has released info about their upcoming album. I am looking forward to that one, despite not being a big fan of their last couple releases. The artwork is fucking amazing.

I picked up the Warbeast album which is amazing. I finished recording my records an tapes onto the computer and am now in the process of burning them onto CD. What a long process this has been. At least it's been better than the first time I did it, because I am just catching up this time.

Ahab: The Divinity of Oceans
Artillery: Through the Years
Artillery: When Death Comes
Autopsy: Severed Survival
Bahimiron: Southern Nihilizm
Behexen: My Soul for His Glory
Blood Exile/Sacrilegio: Thrash Clash Vol. 3
Blood Tsunami: Thrash Metal
Chaosbreed: Unleashed Carnage
Darkness We Feel
Dawn of Azazel: Relentless
Demolition Hammer: Necrology-A Complete Anthology
Destruction: D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.
Devastation: Idolatry
Exodus: Bonded by Blood
Fates Warning: No Exit
Fight: War of Words
Final Breath: Flash Burnt Crucifixes
Gwar: Ragnarok
Headhunter: Parasite of Society
Hellhound: Anthology
Hollenthon: Opus Magnum
Holy Moses: Agony of Death
Infantry/Pyrotoxic: Thrash Clash Vol. 4
Inner Thought: Perspectives
Intruder: Psycho Savant
Kreator: Terrible Certainty
Lair of the Minotaur: The Ultimate Destroyer
Lich King: Toxic Zombie Onslaught
Master: Slaves to Society
Metal Church: Metal Church
Metal Church: This Present Wasteland
Mictlantecuhtli: Warriors of the Black Sun
Militia: Released
Misery Index: Heirs to Thievery
Misery Index: Traitors
Necrodeath: Into the Macabre
Overkill: Horrorscope
Prostitute Disfigurement: Descendants of DepravityPsycroptic: Ob(Servant)
Quinta Essentia: Archetypal Transformation
Rotting Christ: A Dead Poem
Rotting Christ: Thy Mighty Contract
Sepultura: Arise
Sothis: De Oppresso Liber
Tad Morose: Modus Vivendi
The Crown: Possessed 13
Vanderhoof: Vanderhoof
Warbeast: Krush the Enemy
Warth: Hateful Speed
Watain: Rabid Death's Curse
XINR: Beyond Woodward

Initial Impressions: Warbeast: Krush the Enemy

Well I mentioned this band in passing yesterday. I snatched this album up as soon as I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I am a fan of Phil Anselmo's material, from his days as vocalist of Pantera, to Down, even to his guitar work in Necrophagia. When I read an interview and he began talking about his label and one of his major projects, Warbeast, I was intrigued. When I found out they were made up of members of Rigor Mortis and Gammacide, that pretty much did it for me. So this was an album I was eagerly anticipating. I could not believe I found it at Hastings when I have not been able to find several big name releases there.

Warbeast is made up of members of a couple of very deep underground thrash metal bands that really did not make it far into the 1990's. All of the members formed in 2006 under the name Texas Metal Alliance which recently changed its name to Warbeast. As you can tell, this band is from Texas, as are all of its members, as well as Phil Anselmo, the producer and label head. This must be why he's pushing this band so much.

This is absolutely filthy, dirty thrash metal that feels like being in a hot, dingy bar watching five guys with true love for their craft, thrashing around the stage. It sounds alcohol-fueled and seedy. The riffs are raw and explosive. They are straightforward, fairly simple riffs, nothing technical. But they are never dull and are extremely catchy. The vocals are delivered in a harsh bark that commands the listener to pay attention. The band has a take-no-prisoners approach to thrash metal that is not seen in many of today's bands. Perhaps that's because these guys have been at it for so long now that they were playing when some of today's bands weren't even born. I'm looking at you Warbringer and Mantic Ritual.

I am extremely impressed with this album. It will easily be a contender for my Top 10 albums list. Strongly recommended for anyone looking for some harsh thrash metal circa 1989.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What the Hell?

So, yesterday I went to the only place in town that gets new metal releases. It's a Hastings Bookstore and it is conveniently located between my office and our house. Last week, as you may recall from my recap, new releases from Watain, Nevermore, and Nachtmystium were released. Two of those releases were by Century Media, a pretty big label for underground music. But, Hastings did not get a single one of those albums in stock. I could not believe it. Anyway, back to yesterday, I stopped in just to kill some time after the County Bar Association meeting and browsed, thinking my fiancee was still with the horses. Still no Watain, Nevermore, or Nachtmystium, but I found Warbeast. They did not get the new releases from three major bands on decent sized labels, but they get the obscure band made up of members of Rigor Mortis and Gammacide on Housecore Records, a small independent label run by Phil Anselmo with just twelve bands to its name.

I don't understand the world anymore.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Initial Impressions: Artillery: Through the Years

I have been wanting to buy this boxed set of Artillery material for at least a couple of years. It's not often that I find a boxed set that I want to purchase. This is pretty much only the second one I have set out to find, the other being Slaughter's Tortured Souls boxed set. I have pretty clear standards for getting one: I cannot have any of the material that appears on the boxed set prior because I don't like repeating albums in my collection, and it must be a band I can logically enjoy listening to for about five hours straight because that's how long these things usually are.

Which brings us to Artillery. I have wanted this boxed set since about 2007 but never really had the opportunity to buy it. After checking out the band's latest album earlier this year, my desire to get this set kicked into overdrive. About two weeks ago, I finally placed the order on Amazon.

To begin with, the packaging looks great, significantly better than the aforementioned Slaughter boxed set which was a box with a couple of CD cases in it. This is a book that opens up with four CDs on the covers and a very nice booklet inside detailing the band. I really do like the packaging and will have to read through the booklet later on.

The CDs are remastered onto gold discs, which is Metal Mind's habit. Metal Mind is one of my favorite labels these days, mostly because of their tireless efforts to bring old school classics back by reissuing out of print metal albums. I have a few of these releases such as Sadus and Solitude Aeturnus, but there are quite possibly hundreds more. Instead of reissuing each of Artillery's albums individually, they went for the boxed set.

Artillery is an extremely underrated thrash metal band from Denmark in the 1980's. Perhaps it is because of this that many people have not heard much of the band. There was not a real well-known metal scene in Denmark, even though the great Mercyful Fate started out there. There certainly was not a well-known thrash metal scene, so this band flew under the radar when bands in the Bay Area and Germany were making huge waves. It's a shame because this band was truly something.

I don't feel like doing a full review of four full albums, so I will do a short write-up of each album here. The only complaint I have applies to all four discs. I don't like them adding a whole bunch of bonus demo tracks. The demos are interesting, don't get me wrong, but I would rather they all be on one extra disc so that each album would end where it was meant to do so. Oh well, not a major complaint.

FEAR OF TOMORROWArtillery's debut album was released in 1985, a major year for thrash metal releases. 1985 saw major releases from Anthrax, Exodus, Megadeth, Overkill, Slayer, Destruction, and Kreator. So it was that Artillery's debut did not register as much of a wave. But this is an amazing debut. From the opening salvo of "Time Has Come" which starts out with some sounds of warfare, to the long closer "Deeds of Darkness", this album is absolutely intense and is a great opener to a long career.

The band's principal sound, a kind of highly energetic, technical thrash metal was already in place on their debut. The band often plays very fast but even when they are playing slowly, retain a lot of that energetic vibe. Artillery sounds more like fellow underrated European thrashers Coroner and Sabbat than either of the two major scenes. The distinguishing feature Artillery possesses is the amazing, soaring vocal style of singer Flemming Ronsdorf, on these albums anyway as he does not appear on their latest album.

TERROR SQUADArtillery's sophomore album finds them with a meatier, more muscular sound and a thicker production. They have also tightened up their sound a little and added the occasional gang vocals. This album is a maturation of the sound that they created on their debut album. The songs are not quite as memorable on this album, but the overall sound has improved, not that it really needed to.

For the most part, this album is an improvement over the last album, but it does not quite have the same energetic vibe. There is certainly nothing wrong with it, but it is not as raw and honest as the first album, nor as musically incredible as the follow-up.

BY INHERITANCEThis album is frequently cited as Artillery's best. And it's pretty easy to see why. Everything was working for Artillery on this one. The album starts out with an Eastern-European sounding melody, which is quite the beginning impression. The main melodic idea carries over into the next track starting things off very strong. The sound quality has again improved massively.

The riffs have also improved quite a bit. Riffing is what Artillery has always done best, but this particular album features many of the band's best riffs, beginning with the opening riff to "Khomaniac". The soloing has also improved immensely on this album and they all have a great tone.

Vocally, I think this is Ronsdorf's best performance. He has always had soaring vocals, but they seemed to fit in with the music a lot better on this release. They have attained a little similarity to Blitz Ellsworth's vocals for Overkill on this album. I love Overkill, so this is not a problem for me. The vocal performance on the ballad (yes, a thrash ballad) "Don't Believe" is particularly incredible.

If I had to recommend one album by Artillery, this would be it.

B.A.C.K.Artillery disappeared during the mid 1990's, a bad time for metal in general. They re-emerged in 1999 with this album, which is appropriately titled. The time away has not harmed the band in the least, this is as good a comeback album as is possible.

The band has proven that they have not lost a step. Much of the sound from the prior album is still put to good use on this release. The band does play a little bit slower and there is a heavier groove element to the riffs, but this is still clearly a thrash metal album. The Overkill similarities are still there, punctuated by the fast riffing and vocal styles. Artillery still uses more technical riffing and progressive structure, but they do bear similarities to other bands.

Hey we have a bass solo on this thing. Don't hear that too often.

Unfortunately after this album, the band disappeared again for awhile. They released When Death Comes last year, an album I reviewed some time ago.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Favorite New Bands of the 2000's: Honorable Mentions

When I was forming the list of bands that formed in the 2000's, I had several other bands in mind. Eventually, I decided to shorten the list to ten bands. But that left off a lot of other deserving bands that I really enjoy. So, I put together an honorable mentions list.

In no particular order:

QUINTA ESSENTIAQuinta Essentia is a band that formed in Alabama of all places. The band combine black, death, and thrash metal into an extremely powerful and malevolent sound. It is one hell of a mix. The lyrical themes of the band deal mainly with the occult and magic. The dark themes and darker music combine into one hell of an evil sounding band. But, the musicianship is also very good. Their songs are all long, but they succeed in keeping the attention of the listener due to the intricate riffs and melodies. Quinta Essentia have been around since 2004 and have only two albums to their credit, but if they continue down the same path as their latest album, they will very quickly make a big name for themselves.

BLASPHERIANBlaspherian was briefly covered in my post on Texas black and death metal bands. Their sound is extremely raw and with some death/doom metal influences. Essentially, they sound like a combination of Immolation and Incantation. It's extremely dirty sounding and ugly. The band is focused on anti-Christian themes and evil. It's one hell of a listening experience with jagged riffs, pounding drums, and deep death growls.

VICTIMIZERVictimizer is a Danish speed/thrash metal band with some minor punk influences. The band essentially sounds like early Teutonic thrash metal bands like Destruction, Kreator, and Sodom. They sound like they would have been very much at home in the early to mid 1980's. They have a gift for killer riffs and memorable songs. They are melodic, but at the same time, very aggressive and primal. Victimizer is unfortunately on hold at the moment. Hopefully they will get back to playing thrash the way it should be played in the near future.

BLOOD TSUNAMIBlood Tsunami is a Norwegian thrash metal band. Drummer Faust is a well-known drummer in several black metal bands, such as Emperor and Aborym. Blood Tsunami plays thrash metal, as the name of their album suggests, in the vein of the German thrash metal bands mentioned in the Victimizer information. The riffs are fast and razor sharp. The vocals are delivered in a manic sneer and the songs are very memorable. Blood Tsunami is not a retro thrash metal band, much like Victimizer above, they just play thrash the way they want to play it. And the results are very impressive indeed.

TRIVIUMShut up, I kind of like Trivium. Yes, they started out as a metalcore band. Yes, they shamelessly ripped off Metallica on their third album. However, the band can write some damn infectious songs. Even if you hate the band, you have to admit that they are damn good musicians as well. This is a very talented band that unfortunately started out looking for money, and probably still is to a certain extent. So now, everything they do is met with scorn and derision. Get over it and give the band another chance.

THE ABSENCEThis band is melodic death metal in the true sense of the term. The band is not poppy like the forefathers of the genre In Flames. They are much closer in sound to Amon Amarth, another death metal band that happens to be very melodic. This is one of the better American bands to develop over the last decade. I list them as an honorable mention only because I have not been able to find more than one of their albums. It's a great album though and if the rest of their stuff sounds like it, this is one hell of a band.

LANDMINE MARATHONArizona's Landmine Marathon are a young band that borrows heavily from a sound that is more than 20 years old. The band sound like an early grind band such as England's Carcass, Bolt Thrower, or Napalm Death. The singer is one of the most aggressively powerful singers to come out in awhile, and she's female. This is a blessing and a curse of course, but the fact that she is very good at what she does means that once people look past that aspect and look at the music, they will take off.

REVOCATIONI just found out about this band last year. The band is part of the thrash revival scene, but they play technical thrash. It's quite a welcome change of pace. This has always been a bit of an underappreciated style. Groups like Anacrusis and Heathen had a hand in the formation of it. Revocation is extremely talented musically with a gift for writing catchy songs and riffs. It's technical, but not so much that it's unlistenable. This band could be huge.

NOCTURNAL FEARNocturnal Fear is a Michigan-based thrash metal band. They are a little bit of a throwback band, but they don't try to copy the Bay Area scene of the 1980's like so many other bands out there starved for attention. Nocturnal Fear's thrash roots lie across the Atlantic Ocean in Germany. Sounding like a cross between the big three bands of German thrash, Nocturnal Fear is punishing and intense. Their album covers even call to mind Sodom as they often feature graphic depictions of warfare.

MISERY INDEXBaltimore's death/grind masters formed in 2001 but have already released four full-length albums, three EPs, five splits, and even a DVD. In other words, this band is quite prolific in the studio. Misery Index formed when Jason Netherton left Dying Fetus and brought many of his musical influences in. The band is fast and brutally heavy and are one of the few grind-influenced bands I listen to.

Humorous Youtube Video of the Day

So apparently all metal is Satanic and the kid namedrops Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Iron Maiden. Interesting. Look, I'm not going to make fun of the kid too much. He's young and probably pretty sheltered. What I really find funny though, is if you double click on the video, it will take you to the Youtube page and you can read all the comments from people blasting this kid and trying to take him to school on metal. It's one person's opinion people. It really doesn't affect you at all. If he doesn't like metal, fine. I just think his rationale is hilarious.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nebraska Metal News Update

Michael Gremio, former vocalist of Cellador and Omaha, NE native has been tapped to replace Wyatt Anderson in White Wizzard, a throwback metal band making big waves right now. Given Cellador's unknown status at this time, this can only be seen as a good thing for Gremio.

There's a couple of concerts this summer in Omaha. Neither of which I will be attending, due to other plans those days. Thou will be playing in Omaha at The Manor on June 30th, a Wednesday night and The Funeral Pyre and Early Graves will be playing there July 23. Of course I have a rehearsal dinner for a wedding in Lexington that night and of course Wednesdays are not conducive to travelling to Omaha for a concert. My fiancee has lucked out.

Weekly Recap: 6/6-6/12

It's a little late this time because I spent the weekend in my hometown. It was my little brother's college graduation party and a family reunion of sorts. As such, I don't have much to say.

I bought the Artillery box set, but have not had much of a chance to listen to it yet. Look for a post on that a little later this week. Lots of new stuff came out last week, but I have not gotten anything yet.

Abysmal Dawn: Programmed to Consume
Amon Amarth: Twilight of the Thunder God
Argharus: Plei'tas
Arghoslent: Hornets of the Pogrom
Armored Saint: Symbol of Salvation
Artillery: Through the Years
Believer: Gabriel
Besatt: Hail Lucifer
Blood of King: De Occulta Philosophia
Bloodbath: Resurrection Through Carnage
Coffins: Buried Death
Coldworker: Rotting Paradise
Confessor: Confessor
Dark Fortress: Eidolon
Daylight Dies: Lost to the Living
Death: Scream Bloody Gore
Despair: Beyond All Reason
Evocation: Tales from the Tomb
Funeral: From These Wounds
Grand Magus: Iron Will
Hail of Bullets: ...Of Frost and War
Hyades: And the Worst is Yet to Come
Iced Earth: The Crucible of Man-Something Wicked Pt. 2
Ihsahn: angL
Impiety: Terroreign
In Flames: Lunar Strain
Into Eternity: The Incurable Tragedy
Krisiun: Southern Storm
Laethora: The Light in Which We All Burn
Lightning Swords of Death: The Extra-Dimensional Wound
Master: Unreleased 1985 Album
Megadeth: Rust in Peace
Merciless Death: Realm of Terror
Meshuggah: Contradictions Collapse + None
Metallica: Death Magnetic
Metallica: Ride the Lightning
Misery Index: Heirs to Thievery
Neuraxis: The Thin Line Between
Nocturnal Breed: Fields of Rot
Nocturnal Fear: Code of Violence
Nocturnal Fear: Metal of Honor
October 31: Visions of the End
Opeth: Orchid
Poccolus: Ragana
Sacrifice: Forward to Termination
Scar Symmetry: Holographic Universe
Scorpions: Bad for Good-The Very Best of Scorpions
Slaughter: Strappado
Slayer: Reign in Blood
Slayer: Show No Mercy
Suicidal Tendencies: Join the Army
Susperia: Unlimited
Toxic Holocaust: An Overdose of Death...
Withershin: Ashen Banners

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dusting Off a Cassette Pt. 45: Suicidal Tendencies: Join the Army

When I was just starting to get interested in music, my dad found a cassette carrying case full of tapes down by a pond at his work. After leaving it in his office for awhile waiting to see if anyone would come and claim it, he brought them home. This was in the early 1990's or so. Most of the music was of the new wave/post-punk/alternative variety. Most of the tapes just went into storage.

When I was a little older and getting into metal, I went through my parents' tapes looking for anything that would come close to my new favorite music. I only came up with one album which came in that carrying case: Suicidal Tendencies.

Suicidal Tendencies (ST from now on) was an important band in the crossover genre. The band originally played hardcore punk on their 1983 debut, with some metal influences. They did not release a follow-up album until this album was released in 1987. This album was one of the formative albums in the crossover genre with ST fusing their hardcore punk with thrash metal. The band had brought in guitarist Rocky George who was heavily influenced by groups like Motorhead and helped write much of the music on this album. The tracks therefore all have a faster metal edge to them that was missing on their debut.

This album is fast and short, featuring twelve songs and clocking in at under 40 minutes. All of the songs are aggressive, with youthful energy and lyrics about rebellion and social issues. They are usually crafted around fairly simple metal riffs and layered with some heavy bass and Mike Muir's often-shouted vocals, along with the occasional guitar solo. The songs are all very catchy, with some real hooks. It is this catchiness that keeps me coming back to the album. It's simple, but it's fast and fun.

The band would continue with these lyrical themes and musical directions for the rest of their careers. This was the album that really brought the band into the attention of metalheads and the band would continue to increase their metal influences. They are now looked back upon as one of the major bands in the crossover genre.

This is a pretty good album to listen to when I need something to get my blood pumping. Not bad at all for an abandoned tape found down by a pond.