Sunday, November 29, 2015

On recontextualization, repurposing, appropriation, and theft

Roy Lichtenstein, "Image Duplicator"; Jack Kirby, originator
In the literary world, it's called plagiarism, and ends careers - even if the work you plagiarized is your own; in the hip hop world, it's called biting, and gets you called out. Comedians who use other people's material are smeared as "joke thieves", and the label has been attached to stars as big as Robin Williams and Dennis Leary. But if you're a visual artist or a musician, it might make you a millionaire (with enough scratch to settle out of court once the aggrieved party finds out you've taken their work).

Seeing one of my blog posts in someone else's zine, used without my knowledge or permission, got me thinking a lot about when it's okay to use someone else's work without their consent; specifically, using existing work as source material in creating your own art or music.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dead To A Dying World Interview

Dead To A Dying World was a band I knew nothing about before stumbling upon their Litany album a month ago. Incorporating everything from doomy hardcore to black metal melodies and post rock atmospherics, their music has a scope and ambition few bands attempt. Since I have a soft spot for artists that go out of their way to break the mould, I reached out to the band for an interview. Guitarist Sean Mehl and multi-instrumentalist James Magruder took turns answering my questions.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Abhorrent, Pronostic, Living With Disfigurement, Xerod

San Antonio's Abhorrent put the "tech" in "TX Death Metal". As you'd expect from a band that shares members with Spawn of Possession and The Faceless, Intransigence is one fingerprint-erasing riff after another, synced with some unrelentingly pummeling drumming. This is a band that puts their incredible chops to brutal use. [$8.99]

From Voivod to Martyr, Quebec has delivered some of the most adventurous and musically advanced metal bands - add Montreal's Pronostic to that list. Their sophomore album An Atomic Decision delivers enough hooks and NWOBHM nods to warrant comparisons to Amott-era Carcass, as well as fellow Canadian tech/death bands like Quo Vadis and Neuraxis. As impressive as it addictive. [$8 CAD]

Speaking of warranted comparisons, Living With Disfigurement surely own a Carcass album or two. Posthumous Indignities reeks of repeated listens to the gore/grind godfathers, as well as fellow sick symphony sympathizers Impaled, Exhumed, General Surgery, etc. Exhume to consume with relish. [£4 GBP]

Likewise, the self-released EP by France's Xerod doesn't skimp on the savagery, Infinite Cycle follows Cynic and Pestilence down a tech/prog path and adds some Euro-metal flourishes for good measure. Hopefully someone will throw some money at them soon so they can get the production their talent deserves. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

INI Interview

2015 has turned out to be a banner year for the progressive side of Norwegian metal. Along with stellar albums from Enslaved, Arcturus and Dødheimsgard, Trondheim's INI released their debut If Nothing Is, an ambitious and confounding work of musical iconoclasm. Unable to find much information about them, and needing to know more, I fired off some questions, which vocalist Boeddelen was kind enough to answer.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: The Blind Surgeons Operation/Sete Star Sept, Helmsplitter/The Communion, Depression, Cattle Decapitation

DoC friends The Blind Surgeons Operation have just released a split with grindcore darlings Sete Star Sept. Like I told TBSO's Andrew Cleveland earlier in the year, his band's style of noise/grind causes great discomfort and discombobulation; no change on that front, though this is the first release to feature a live drummer. On side B, Japan's Sete Star Sept bash out 11 tracks of their trademark bass/drums assault. Face-melting live, I'm sure, but the recording sounds like you're listening to them rehearse from a block away. [Free]

Great Violence And Hidden Depths sees IL's Helmsplitter and NY's The Communion covering every corner in heavy music. Helmsplitter's half is a love letter to all things fast and brutal, sounding like an early Nineties death metal band whose logo you would have scrawled on your notebook in high school. The Communion stick with crusty grindcore for the most part, descending into the sludge/noise abyss on the final track. In addition, the band have a video for "Hymen Balaclava" that will probably get you fired from work. [$6.66]

Germany's DEPRESSION have been around for a quarter century, flagbearers for a continental grindcore scene that never took off like its British or Swedish counterparts. Their newest album Die Dunkle Dimension is 25 tracks of simple but catchy grind, one for each year the band has been active. Fans of Phobia and ENT would do themselves a favour in searching this out. [€6]

From the chrysalis of rudimentary death/grind, Cattle Decapitation have emerged as one of the most polished death metal bands around. The Anthropocene Extinction sees the band stepping away from the technical overload of the past two albums, streamlining the songwriting but hanging on to Travis Ryan's Ozzy-ish clean singing. Song to song, this is one of the band's strongest releases to date, and one of my favourites of this year. Bonus points for the title "Pacific Grim". [$9.99]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fuck The Facts Interview

I first discovered Fuck The Facts at the Knitting Factory in New York back in 2008. The band left an impression on me with their eclecticism, stubbornly ignoring boundaries by mixing death, grind, crust, and doom at will. They've yet to slow down since then, and they've also yet to disappoint. With an impressive new album out through their own label Noise Salvation, it seemed like a good time to finally reach out to them. I sent some questions to the band, which guitarist Topon Das and drummer Mathieu Vilandré took turns answering.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Cryptopsy, Lost Soul, Gorod, A Loathing Requiem

Since the Unspoken King debacle, Cryptopsy have learned what their fans want - namely unrelenting speed, gurgling vocals and a bass that sounds like it's being hit with a hammer; and their new crowdfunded EP The Book of Suffering- Tome 1 delivers all that and more. Short and sweet, but flawless in its execution, it seems the band are indeed back to doing what they do best. [$3.99]

Lost Soul's last release was in 2009, but it's clear that the time away was spent thinking. Their eclectic new album Atlantis: The New Beginning expands the band's established sound, with a renewed emphasis on streamlined arrangements over blistering speed, and employing some very Ihsahn like choral singing and hits of groove. After years of dreary revival and regurgitation, it seems death metal bands are ready to take chances and expand the boundaries again - and Lost Soul, a band that always did, will be there meet them. [€10]

Despite its title, there's very little recycled about the new album by tech-death gurus Gorod. A Maze of Recycled Creed expands the band's hyperactive style into new areas of expertise, burning up the fretboards and showing they're not afraid to get funky along the way. Pimp walking brutality. [€7.99]

The project of one Malcolm Pugh, A Loathing Requiem will put all other one-man bands on notice. Acolytes Eternal is a work of considerable thought and spectacular musicianship, that fans of Neuraxis and Beyond Creation will love, aided by a stellar production. This blows away most "real" bands. [$8]