Thursday, July 26, 2012

Uncle Adrian's Story Time

This is a long shot, but I'm hoping someone can help me out...does anyone remember a metal/hc band, circa 2001-2002, that ditched their singer, and the singer went on to do a show by himself at a metalfest (most likely NJ Metalfest or New England Metalfest)?  It was reported on in Metal Maniacs and a few of the other US metal magazines; I met the singer at a show at the Wetlands in NYC and he essentially told me that the band attempted to blackmail him into giving them a higher salary; he promptly fired the rest of the band, and went to the Fest (which he had paid for) and basically did the entire set by himself, a cappella... the only other detail that I have is my friends Scar Culture played that fest as well, though they played so many shows during that time I'm doubt they'll remember that one specifically.  Anyways, hit me up in the comments section if any of this sounds familiar.

Beyond the North Waves

This has been out for years, but I only came across it a week ago, courtesy of my buddy Mike Dabaie: surf covers of black metal songs.   The gimmick works because the covers (allegedly done by blackened tech/prog prodigies Xanthrochroid) clearly show an understanding of both black metal and surf rock.  Rather than the typical "let's play this metal song in a way that isn't heavy" shenanigans that seem to be such a hoot with indie kids, there's a real love for both the source material and the assimilated style.

I'm not immune to the charms of surf guitar, possibly because all the Dead Kennedys I listened to during my late teens, and possibly because seeing masked surf rock barons Daikaiju in Amsterdam in 2002 was one of the highlights of my trip there.

All the covers I've heard (I Am The Surf Wizards, Surfin Moon, Californian Hunger ) are extremely entertaining, but the best has to be a reworking of Immortal's "Tyrants" that surprisingly manages to keep the ominous spirit of the original, and yet wouldn't be out of place on the soundtrack of a coastal detective show like Terriers.  And the photoshopped pics of Abbath and Horgh riding the waves are too awesome for words.  Hopefully Xanthochroid don't get so big as to preclude there being more of these in the future.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eskatologia @ Rumah Api 7.20.2012

You wouldn't expect it, but Swedish hardcore is enormously popular in Kuala Lumpur.  Wolf Brigade shirts are a frequent sight at shows here, as are patches of Skitsystem, Disfear, and Anticimex (no love for Driller Killer?).  Eskatologia, from the D-beat Mecca of Gothenberg, should have attracted a much larger crowd than the 2 dozen people who actually showed up to Rumah Api that night.  How to explain the sparse turn-out?  Blame it on the rain, blame it on the beginning of Ramadan (known colloquially here as "fasting month"), but you can't blame it on KL fans being spoiled for options; trust me, a band visiting from overseas, playing on a Friday night, is as good as it gets here, despite the headliner's relative obscurity.

Of course, there's always the issue that shows here don't go on til hours after their advertised start times [that's okay, punctuality is overrated].  I walked into Rumah Api at 9 pm to find Eskatologia's singer/guitarist walking out of the shower [dispelling at least one stereotype about crust punks].  The lateness worked in my favour for once, since slick here forgot his SD card, and had to go hunting around the neighbourhood to find another before the first band went on.

This is one of the few shows I've been to without Tools of the Trade, who are currently on their first European tour, flying the flag for Malaysian grindcore - and it's a surprisingly big flag. Case in point: Deforming Torture, whose take on classic grind owes a lot to early Napalm.  The band were missing their other guitarist/vocalist, which was only noticeable when a cover of Nasum's "Time to Act!" was aired sans chorus [that's okay, choruses are overrated].  Kudos to the band for carrying on as a three-piece; though it has to be said their sound was much clearer at this show than when they opened for the Arson Project with their full line-up.  Maybe a single guitarist is the way forward for them.

Even by grindcore standards, Hatred Division keep things short.  Like a lot of newer grindcore bands, their line-up is limited to a drummer, a singer, and a single guitarist [that's okay, bass players are overrated].  Despite only being active since last year, the band are making a name for themselves, sharing releases with the venerated likes of Unholy Grave and Agathocles.  Their set was liberally peppered with covers (Infest, Drop Dead, and Insect Warfare) ...possibly because filling a half hour is difficult when your average song length is 40 seconds.

Eskatologia aren't afraid of melody; coming from Gothenberg, the home of melodic death metal and crusty hardcore, the band find a way to combine both melody and crust, Tragedy being the most apt reference point.  The KL date was the last show on their 3-week South East Asian tour, an ambitious trek for a band who'd never been to the region before.  Self-effacing to a fault, the headliners apologized for not being as fast as the two opening bands and for the technical problems they experienced throughout their tour ("It's the Swedish curse," singer Jonna quips).
Maybe their equipment is cursed, as midway through the set their guitarist broke a string; while he attempted to sort out a replacement, I helpfully called out for (and was granted) a drum solo.  Eventually, the band decided to go on without the second guitar [that's okay, duelling guitars are overrated] and the crowd really came alive for the first time, with band and audience seemingly energized by the trumping of adversity.  Hopefully when Eskatologia look back on their Malaysian experience, they'll remember that and not their battles with "technicalities."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drone Cult Sabazius

Drone is something I've been trying to get more into/of, ever since the Angelic Process and Black Boned Angel blew my mind with their 'doomier than doom' albums.  In that spirit I sought out the Terrorizer-approved Sabazius, a two-man drone act from England.  Their Facebook page makes prominent use of the claim that "they make most funeral doom bands sound like Pig Destroyer" - amusing hyperbole aside, they're not quite as monotonous as that blurb makes them sound.  Though the majority of their material could provide the fanfare for giant tortoise racing, they vary their pace skillfully, even speeding up to a lumbering gait on occasion.  In fact, I'll go on the record as believing there's more thought put into a single Sabazius song than the last three Electric Wizard albums combined.

Sabazius have a knack for crafting songs that run a half hour or longer, taking the listener on a journey rather than just punishing them with the same riff over and over again (although they do plenty of that as well).  Appropriately, one of the members composes music for film and television; the other plays bass in the doom crust band Sea Bastard.

Sabazius have released a pair of EPs this year, Parousia and the Watchers - both of which average about an hour with neither one exceeding a couple songs.  The band have made their releases available for free download here, and their label Loathsome have done the same here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rachel Maddow: Tampa Bay, capital of strip clubs and death metal

The Rachel Maddow Show had a clip yesterday about the amusing irony that the Party of Moral Outrage is holding their convention in the capital of titty bars and death metal.  I agree with her, they're probably not there for the death metal.  She name-checks Morbid Angel, Deicide and Obituary, and David "Safe Word" Vincent makes an appearance in the "God of Emptiness" clip.  Good times if you're a left-leaning metal fan.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bandcamp Picks: Agalloch/Bindrune Records

It was inevitable that someone would go to the demoniac well of the Faust myth for a concept album; but Faustian Echoes marks Agalloch as one of the few bands that can actually pull it off in style.  Musically, the single track EP is a fairly straight-forward exercise in melodic black metal, sparing the folk and post-rock influences that made them so many friends outside the metal world.  Littered throughout the 20 minute song are samples taken from another work based on Faust, Jan Švankmajer's stop motion headfucker.  The presence of these spoken word passages is jarring and slightly off-putting, but maybe men can only grasp those concepts that movie quotes express.

If Agalloch's crossover into the world of pledge drives and tote bags has created a niche, then Bindrune Records might be the ones to fill it.  As the label that unleashed Wodensthrone on the world, Bindrune have a reputation for metal that eschews pointy fashion accessories and probably spends its week-ends hiking through the forest.  Or maybe just meditates while the miso soup cools.

Agalloch come from the Pacific Northwest city of Portland, Oregon; Falls of Rauros come from the North Atlantic city of Portland, Maine. Somehow this seems significant, as if the two bands are opposite coast doppelgangers.  They definitely mirror each other in their mix of black, doom, and folk.  A mature and accomplished work, The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood is highly recommended for anyone who likes the woodsier side of black metal.

Starting an album with Tuvan throat singing is slightly belligerent and a surefire way to drive off new listeners; but if you can resist the urge to hit the "skip" button, you'll see that Blood of the Black Owl has a knack for building up tension with their sweat lodge doom/drone.  The heavier side of neo-folkie Chet W. Smith (perhaps best known for Ruhr Hunter), Light the Fires! trudges like Earth or Om on a vision quest.  This is the kind of thing that NPR would eat up with trail mix; though considering the way the album artwork mimics a certain ancient Vedic symbol, I doubt any left wing radio station would touch them with a ten foot pole.

Nechochwen may have begun as an exploration of its eponymous creator's Native American heritage, but has more in common with Scandinavians Opeth and Enslaved.  A largely acoustic affair rooted in classical guitar, OtO almost immediately evokes Opeth's Damnation, albeit infused with new world pagan/folk elements. Expect your tolerance for flutes and tribal chanting to be tested.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Metal Brother, can you spare a dime?

Covan Wake The Fuck Up!

Just read this post from the Deciblog about a benefit concert for Decapitated's Adrian “Covan” Kowanek, who is still recovering from the touring accident that left him with cerebral hypoxia (and his bandmate Vitek dead).  A news report from a local Polish television channel delineates the long road Covan has ahead of him:

I was lucky enough to see Decapitated with Covan on the 2007 Summer Slaughter tour, and watching him grin and headbang throughout the set showed me why he was such a beloved frontman.  There was no tough guy or "evil" posturing; he just loved death metal, loved being on stage and his enthusiasm carried over into the crowd.  Seeing him in his current state is heartbreaking.   I'd be lying if I said I didn't have tears in my eyes while watching it.

Help a metal brother out!  Donate (through Paypal) here:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This Just Might Be...Fanning the Flames of Discontent

Someone posted a video of a "secret show" that Refused played at the Acheron in Brooklyn.  It starts with them covering Earth Crisis' "Firestorm" (and part of "Forged in the Flames" and just gets crazier from there.

Leaving Brooklyn was hard and this video doesn't make it any easier.  I've been into Refused since I heard them on the Northcore compilation as a teenager, and never got a chance to see them.  Big thanks to Jonathan Yi, whoever you are, for filming and uploaded this video - it's not quite the same as getting to sing along with "Everlasting" in the front row, but it made my afternoon.