For quite some time now, there, unfortunately, haven’t been many big splashes in the jazz music pond worth noting. In fact, after the height of fusion’s popularity in the early to mid ‘70s, jazz started to fade in importance and esteem, save for prominent ‘70s and ‘80s artists like Pat Metheny, Weather Report, and Wynton Marsalis. Since smooth jazz is more commercial pop music than anything else, we’re left with many “true” jazz artists producing music that has flown pretty much under the radar over the last couple decades at least. Thank God, then, for a fine group of Canadian kids named BADBADNOTGOOD, a band that offers a fusion of hip-hop, jazz, and other influences that are hard to pin down to impressive effect.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
Up until fairly recently, American black metal was rarely ever taken too seriously and was seen as a novelty by some, especially those who fall under the “black metal elitist” category who won’t accept anything that comes from anywhere else but Scandinavia. American bands that donned corpsepaint and leather armor and imitated Norwegian low-fi production styles were seen more as unfunny parodies of black metal and not as groups of earnest musicians, and by looking at silly photos of Leviathan, Xasthur, and Absu that ape early Darkthrone album covers, it’s not hard to understand why. It finally took some bands that were brave enough to opt out of that decade-old image and take black metal into new stylistic territories for critics and fans to start paying attention to what the Americans were doing with great interest. By no means has this pleased everybody; the stigmatized “hipster” tag gets placed on many of these bands, and even veterans of American black metal like Wrest of Leviathan have derided them for not being “satanic” (“Don’t call it black metal then.” He said about Wolves in the Throne Room and Liturgy in an interview with Decibel.) But the development of black metal since the Americans have taken over has been an exciting evolution of sorts, and who knows where the genre will end up next.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (shortened to the convenient but awkward abbreviation OFWGKTA) over the last few years alone have earned themselves a substantial fanbase who adores them with the feverish devotion one would have for their firstborn child. Conversely, they’ve also garnered quite a bit of flak from critics and fans alike who knock them for their lack of street cred, uninspired lyrics on behalf of some members, and lack of perceived quality, and the criticism has indeed been harsh. While Odd Future certainly isn’t the best that hip-hop has to offer in today’s musical landscape, one cannot deny their honesty and passion for what they do. Especially if one lands within the late-teens/early-twenties age bracket that the group’s members also find themselves in, you can’t help but want to support them, be in the room with them recording, and be part of what they’re doing. Odd Future may not feature the best rappers alive by any means, but they’re seriously reminiscent of the guys that some of you probably hung out with in high school, and with that comes the group’s charm. Their realness comes with that as well, not by the collective amount of people that they’ve capped.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Staten Island’s Wu-Tang Clan may feature enough members to field a baseball team, but it’s amazing how all of them offer a unique personality to distinguish themselves within a group that was already so uniquely aggressive and visceral, and a group who undoubtedly changed the hip-hop game. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Cambers), the group’s mission statement, exhibited the grit and aggression of heavy metal (which the Inspectah Deck claimed they made more noise than on “Protect Ya Neck”) and displayed the realness and integrity that defines true street hip-hop. Out of what seems like 137 members and affiliates of the Wu-Tang Clan, one would think that it would be hard to stand out from the crowd, and it would be easy to become overshadowed by members who’ve garnered more hype like the very popular movie star in the group Method Man, and sometimes it is (see the Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck), but if there's one member of the Clan that shines based on skill alone - with little help from movie and television popularity - it's The GZA, aka The Genius, arguably the sharpest lyrical swordsman in the Clan and someone who truly earns his name.
Monday, June 17, 2013
|(amazing album cover, right?)|
If one is in need of music that is merciless enough to damn your enemies into the darkest depths of the underworld (or possibly intense enough to bring back those who have already crossed over) then look no further than the extreme metal that is brought forth every couple of years by the kind South Carolinan boys in Nile. Torturous to listen to of one’s favorite music falls under the “Taylor Swift” category, Nile are the curators of some of the most extreme music ever created on this planet thus far. They are truly brutal, but they don’t place that quality above everything else like many modern deathcore bands, for example, that whip out their “br00tality” and wave it all over the place when, in all actuality, their music sounds a bit silly, even laughable. Nile is no-nonsense and there’s absolutely nothing funny about them, and while many will roll their eyes at their strong emphasis on ancient Egypt (the exclusive topic of their lyrics), no one should deny their tremendous level of musical integrity. At this point, Nile have become death metal Deities and dauntless defenders of the metal faith, and the world is a heavier place with them on it.
Friday, June 14, 2013
I have to admit, whenever a band releases an album where the general consensus is that it's "embarrassingly bad" (like Magadeth's latest Super Collider) I usually listen to at least two songs off of it, and if I agree, I avoid it. I'm not saying that I have made up my mind about the entire album based off of two or three songs, all I'm saying is that things aren't looking good at that point and I have absolutely no incentive to listen to the rest of it.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The “supergroup” is a textbook example of something that looks enticing on paper, even drool-worthy to some, but usually fails to deliver when the time comes to release a product with the intent of meeting people’s high hopes for the band. One must remember that a band that features many of one’s favorite musicians doesn’t mean that the musicians in question are accustomed to working together whatsoever. The chemistry oftentimes isn’t there for these kinds of groups, and the tremendous input might unfortunately result in a mediocre output. Heavy metal’s history is spotted with supergroups where many of them have failed to live up to their lofty expectations, and over time this has steadily lessened the expectations for supergroups entirely. Down, a band consisting of five esteemed metal musicians from New Orleans, is absolutely not one of those bands.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Queens of the Stone Age - peddlers of heavy, yet totally catchy rock – fit into the category of bands that have one classic album in their discography that everything they have ever released since is always compared to. Songs for the Deaf, of course, is that one album. While some may argue that Rated R which preceded it is equally as good, Songs for the Deaf gets the edge for it's more successful marriage of thick, stoner metal guitar work with a Beatles-esque pop sensibility. It was an artistic triumph in that it could go from being mainstream and poppy (“Go With the Flow”, “Do It Again”) then all of a sudden morph into something completely unfit for commercial radio (“Six Shooter”, the title track.) It’s a compelling listen from start to finish, and should seriously be owned by everyone who gives even the slightest damn about heavy music.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
As the guitarist for stoner rock legends Sleep and now the frontman for the monstrously heavy High on Fire, is it possible for Matt Pike to do any wrong? Sleep’s Holy Mountain is an undisputed classic, and everything he’s put out with High on Fire so far has been one metallic gut punch after another. All of these albums - which include Surrounded By Thieves and the excellent Death is This Communion - feature heaping amounts of drop-tuned guitar sludge, barbaric drumming, and Matt Pike’s signature gurgled vocal delivery. In our modern metal landscape polluted with so much generic breakdown-abusing deathcore, mindless displays of technicality, and autotuned Attack Attack! copycats which leave many metalheads face-palming, High on Fire is one band that can still get a thumbs up from those who are jaded and tired of the current state of metal. Basically, if you’re hungering for heavy music with no pretense or gimmicks, High on Fire is one of the first bands that should be recommended for you to check out.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
For As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis - the screamer who finally made me like music with screaming in it many years ago - things are not looking up whatsoever. The circumstances of his arrest (going up to an undercover cop and offering him money to kill his ex-wife, which there is supposed to be audio of) makes him look very, very guilty in my eyes and in the eyes of many in the metal community. Like I mentioned in my last post on the topic, he did, in fact, plead not guilty. This means that he's actually going to present a case which I'm very eager to hear, and his next scheduled court date, according to the San Diego Reader, is June 26th 2013.
Tim was released on bail on May 30, and the thing that shocked me was that the bail was previously set at two million dollars, a very hefty amount, and he managed to make bail which made me wonder how the hell he came up with the money. To no surprise, he did not, nor did anyone else have 2 million dollars to bail him out; he actually worked with a bail bond company to pay the two million for him while he paid a premium of $160,000 which he will certainly not get back, still a hefty amount, but considerably less that two fucking million.
Unfortunately, there's still a big chance that he'll end up right back behind bars in a short time from now, but the fact that he's pleaded not guilty and has paid a large sum of money to get himself out of prison tells me that he believes in himself, that he is right, and that he is innocent. As a person who is hoping that he's innocent as well, I with the best for Tim, but I'm not going to pretend like I know how everything is going to fall into place, because there's still a lot that we don't know for certain.
Stay tuned for more on this case.
Monday, June 3, 2013
My interest in USBM (United States Black Metal for the uninformed) has been relatively high ever since I became a fan of Wolves in the Throne Room and Krallice as a high schooler several years ago. These bands, who showed up during the middle of the last decade, gave my generation its own black metal bands to sacrifice cats to, as well as freed us from being limited to just those scary-looking (or silly-looking depending on how you see it) 1990s Nordic fellows for black metal enjoyment. For me, this is fantastic because of how far-removed black metal seemed to me for such a long time. While I indeed enjoyed Emperor and Immortal, there wasn't a lot to relate to other than a distaste for Christianity. With these new trailblazers within our borders, I finally feel like I can take black metal music as my own, rather than just looking at it from behind a glass at a museum.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Besides this review of Alex Lifeson's guitar solo, I haven't talked about Rush very much on this blog, and for no good reason. Rush is a very important band for a scrawny little nerd like myself; I own every Rush album up to Exit...Stage Left (minus their self titled debut) and I even have a giant Rush poster hanging over my fucking bed. Hell, just look at this picture of me: