Archive for April, 2010

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Sharing the Knowledge

April 30, 2010

Thought I’d educate people on Primus. A band I love, but one that not many people know of properly or at least only know that they did “that song“.

First off, Primus is a three piece band comprising of Les Claypool on bass (basses of many varieties I may add), Larry ‘Ler’ Lalonde on guitar and Tim Alexander on drums. The trio play a sort of jazz/funk inspired bass heavy rock/metal, which also takes influences from country, prog and thrash metal. Now some of you may be wondering where you’ve heard this weird, trippy funk metal before. The original South Park theme tune was performed by Primus, the current one being a remix of one of Les’ solo projects. Their song “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” featured on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and “John the Fisherman” was on Guitar Hero: II, which is how I fell in love with Primus. Bass players among you will be aware that he is basically pornography for four string slingers, and hopefully the other musicians among you will know the other guys for their extensive abilities.

The trio started as the brainchild of Les when he was playing bass in the early thrash band Blind Illusion (alongside future guitarist, Lalonde), who released their only album, the inspiring “The Sane Asylum” in 1988.

Before joining Blind Illusion, Lalonde was in the first wave death metal band Possessed when they released their landmark debut album “Seven Churches”, which had a large impact within the various metal scenes. After going through several lineup changes, Les eventually settled on the current lineup when going to record their first studio album, Frizzle Fry.

The trio all share similar influences, with a strong love for Rush, The Residents, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, to name but a few, and not to mention childhood friendships with Metallica, their sound was bound to be wierd. The album is a heavy, dark and twisted drug enthused trip through extended jams, anti-war metaphors, tales of strange people and general love for all musical things weird. If I had to recommend an album for beginners to buy, it would be Frizzle Fry. Still one of the few albums I can listen to all the way through without stopping. The trio had large success for the early years of the 90’s, playing Reading Festival in the UK, opening for U2, Public Enemy, RHCP and appearing on Jane’s Addiction’s Lollapalooza where they received their big break.

Primus then followed up with two of the best albums of the 90’s. “Sailing The Seas of Cheese” and “Pork Soda”. The first three Primus albums, are in my opinion the best 3 to date, which is not to say at all that the others are bad. “Tales From The Punchbowl”, the last album to feature Tim before his temporary departure was a stormer, featuring the singles “Southbound Pachyderm” and “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”. For their last two proper albums, session drummer Brian ‘Brain’ Mantia joined the ranks. “The Brown Album” featured live drums and had a much more groove orientated, dirtier feel to it than previous albums. “The Brown Album” is not a favourite amongst fans, except one famous one in the form of Tom Waits, who featured on “…Seas Of Cheese” as the voice during Tommy The Cat .

“Antipop” saw a return to form for most people, and was somewhat of a star-studded event, with Tom Waits contributing again as well as Tom Morello, James Hetfield and of all people, the delightfully cuntish Fred Durst. After Antipop Primus took a break and Les farted about with his millions of side projects, including work with Adrian Belew, Danny Carey, Oysterhead (which invloved Phish and Stewart Copeland from the Police), work for video games, more theme tunes, the original Primus lineup way before Primus was Primus, and the Frog Brigade and the Holy Mackerel. Phew. I don’t know how I remember or care about all this, but I do.

The original trio, Les, Ler and Tim reunited for an ep in 2006 “Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People” and played a handful of shows in the US, having not played outside the US since the 90’s (except for last month when Les came to London and I nearly died of excitement). Anyway I’m trying to keep this short and informative, so hopefully those of you who like the weirdest of weird, random rhythms, shredding guitar, complex fretless six string bass and clever drumming inspired by fishing, hallucinogenics and old school funk/jazz players will find something to die for here. It’s definately a love or hate thing, and if you love it, Primus only scratches the surface of Les Claypool’s vast back catalogue.

As of late the band have been quiet, BUT on the PrawnSongRecords twitter (yes it’s a parody of Led Zep’s Swan Song for those of you who thought I was being silly) they twatted (or whatever it is) about this Monday 3rd May. Fans, keep your eyes on http://www.primusville.com.

Natureboy

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Karma To Burn – Appalanchian Incarnation

April 30, 2010

In many ways Karma To Burn are the most typical example of a full-blooded American band. With a sound that owes more to Bruce Springsteen and Lynyrd Skynyrd than Slayer. The band’s music is largely instrumental and (for me at least) conjours up visions of being sat at the wheel of some massive truck bouncing around like an overly energetic porn star.

Whether the lack of proper song titles for most of the album is meant to be some kind of anti-conformist statement, or just plain laziness it’s not clear. (I retract that previous statement as a result of sheer ignorance, to quote the last.fm page ‘Karma To Burn refused to give their songs ordinary titles, instead referring to them by numbers, which allegedly made it easier for a dyslexic band member to read setlists.’) I’m still going with the laziness line.

Band’s these days have developed an irritating habit of getting back together simply for the sake of it. The more cynical among you will see it as marketing (if a band makes every tour their ‘last ever’ then it’s got more chance of a sellout) or it could be that they’re just so damn childish they can’t agree about which way’s left.After a ‘quiet’ break-up in 2002 the band returned last year for a reunion tour and now they’ve decided to make it ‘official’ by releasing an album that is more than just another Greatest Hits affair.

There is a sense from listening to the album that this band possess an energy which will only show it’s true colours on the live stage. This is by no means a bad thing, it’s just the album can seem to be a tad repetitive by the end (there’s only so much instrumental stoner rock I can take). Whether this album will stand-up against the rest of the band’s back catalogue remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a cracker. It’s in no way a perfect album but it certainly has a lot of plus points. The bass sound being my person highlight.

Song-wise it’s pretty solid, opening track ’44’ has one of the filthiest bass sounds I’ve ever actually heard, when the song kicks it’s fairly down the line rock but with a darker edge that’s quite hard to pin down. Take any scene from The Dukes Of Hazzard involving fast cars and lots of dust and this album can be played over the top. It’s a fairly pointless exercise trying to pull-apart the band’s sound in terms of technical ability and structure because in doing so you effectively defeat the point of what this music is about; drink, weed and driving. So won’t you join me in cracking open a bottle of moonshine and then driving like a maniac down the open road.

7/10

Mr Bogle

This video nicely illustrates the point I’ve been making the whole time (it’s also fucking odd);

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Rhapsody of Fire: An Inconvenient Truth

April 29, 2010

Reviewing Rhapsody of Fire’s latest album, “The Frozen Tears of Angels“, has brought an uncomfortable truth to light. It is one that has been with me for a while, but, like a repressfully married gay man, I simply denied my true feelings and just tried to live ignoring them, letting them eat away inside: I actually really like this band….

Rhapsody of Fire: A collection of experimental noses and asymmetrical faces.

The quandary is this: while the band are no doubt an amalgamation of almost everything that could ever be wrong with a metal band, being power metal, nerdy as hell, obsessed with absurd role playing fantasies and dressing as such, casting themselves as swashbuckling heros in every video with no sense of irony, and just general faggy behaviour, they undoubtably can write some really really good songs! Hence the way that almost everyone who comes into contact with them will instantly adopt the familiar position of holding them at arm’s length, and claiming “irony”. You sit in a room with friends, play the song, and everyone instantly launches into “hey, it’s that gay Italian power metal band, hahaha, what douchelords, you seen the video for Unholy Warcry? I’m going to ironically play air guitar and sing along, haha, get it? cos I’m way too cool for this in real life!”, and then halfway into the song, everyone suddenly realises that they’re enjoying it just a little too much, and the atmosphere suddenly becomes akin to being involved in recreational group sex, and having accidentally “crossed swords”. I have a plaid clad hipster friend who normally only listens to obscure experimental jazz/indie/electro bands in the HRO realm of the woods, and on holiday with him once even he couldn’t stop playing them. For a hipster, liking power metal is the subcultural equivalent of goosestepping across the Polish border with a sharpie permanent marker Hitler tashe playing “Ride of the Valkyries” on a ghetto blaster while denouncing healthcare for starving orphans with cancer to redirect the funds towards the clubbing of baby seals. You just don’t do it.

My first ever experience with the band: While it may be laugh out loud ridiculous, it’s also a pretty well produced, well written piece of music, if you can get past the fact that it’s unashamed power metal. I find the drummer’s pained Steven Seagal-esque expressions particularly amusing, as well as, ya know, everything else

Most of the time, I find that power metal is as well as being incredibly pretentious, elitist, and generally fat and annoying, also containing just very basic songs, written around a sub par “trying too hard to be epic” chorus, with everything playing at an incredibly basic level, albeit one that sounds kind of impressive if you have no idea about music. Basic timing, moderate double bass, and some mediocre shredding up and down scales. This is probably why it seems to attract stupid ugly girls and annoying dorks with non musical backgrounds yet still proclaim themselves “an expert on the genre, and all things metal really”. I have spent the last few years irl trolling these people relentlessly whenever the opportunity presents itself, making fun of their costumes, stealing their chicks, and highlighting that their leather jacket isn’t fooling anyone, and that despite your “true metal warrior” persona, you’re still gonna get out partied and have your ass handed to you by a “stupid scene faggot”.

However, while Rhapsody of Fire are still, somehow, guilty of all this, they just manage to do it really well. There’s not really any other way to say it, but they are awesome at writing really terrible songs.

A rare genuine case of “so bad it’s good”

As well as all this, Rhapsody actually seem to be able to pull off what most power metal bands always try so hard but fail to do, which is be genuinely “epic” and even moderately inspiring. Of course, it’s incredibly easy to gutter snipe anything from a sedatory position at a keyboard, when everyone is at their most critical and snarky, but out in the real world, when you’re actually doin stuff, music takes on its own meaning. For some reason, Rhapsody of Fire make great, really inspiring cycle music.

They have essentially “done” power metal, and if anyone does it better, let me know.

Kaledon: The budget Rhapsody of Fire?

Also, the fact that as well as just singing about lord of the rings, they went the whole hog and pretty much kidnapped Christopher “Saruman the white” Lee, is pretty impressive.

Eyelicker

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Brain Drill – Quantum Catastrophe

April 29, 2010

Label: Metal Blade

As an avid consumer of all that is twiddly, insanely fast, and bleeds blastbeats, to say I have been eagerly awaiting the new Brain Drill Album is indeed an understatement. In fact, besides the long-delayed next Necrophagist album, which has been scheduled for release “next summer”, for the past 5 years, and has become the Duke Nukem Forever/Chinese Democracy of death metal, I can think of few other potential releases that could get me this riled up. The sheer ferocity, speed, murky production, and general technical chaos of their debut “Apocalyptic feasting”, moved my dick in a way that few others have ever managed. While many, understandably, have a problem with Braindrill’s “riffsalad”, approach to composition, most will still commend the fact that at least they have taken it to the conclusion.

It’s also, as it always is for Tech Death bands, been a bumpy road as well, with multiple line up changes since Apocalyptic Feasting, as well as the band almost breaking up after being searched for drugs on the Canadian border, including all round full body cavity searches (possibly the most Spinal Tap moment in death metal). Anyway, I’m glad they’re back, and pressing play, I felt genuinely exited, awaiting my favorite riffsalad.

First up, the sound of screaming…all good! Then, instead of the sudden 300bpm blasts I was expecting, like how they started Apocalyptic Feasting, they instead lead us in with some of that lovely Braindrill bass tapping. Unfortunately, after the one second or so of bass, follows probably the most unspectacular song on the album, and a rather bemusing choise of intro. “Obliteration Untold” is pretty much stock Brain Drill, with nothing standout, and not really a patch on the onslaught that was “Gorification”, the intro to Apocalyptic Feasting.

Fortunately, the follower, “Beyond Bludgeoned” (below, in the video which is basically just them playing in the rather juxtaposed setting of a field on a sunny day), is much better, and gets right back at the kind of thing I was hoping for. Some absolutely insane guitar and bass work, spazzy structure, and a great one of those lovely “solid riff” moments, that the band occasionally pull out of the chaos.

The rest is plenty more of the same Braindrill from the first, that you either know and love, or know and are largely indifferent to. To be fair, after Apocalyptic Feasting, where else could they go without toning down? There are no surprises, and most of the material is more or less interchangeable with the debut. I was kind of hoping for more of a step forward, and stronger songs, not just exactly the same standard. The only surprise on offer was the ultimate song, the ten minute epic of a title track, with 3 solos, each better than the last, the last being beautifully evil sounding and epic in equal measure.

Braindrill can probably be forgiven for the lack of progression here, I mean, with such a tumultuous few years, I can see how it must have been hard to focus. When your being fisted by the Canadian border patrol, making an innovative sophomore is the least of your problems, but still, after all the excitement and expectations, I can’t help but be a little disappointed.

7/10

Eyelicker

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Arma Gathas – Dead To This World

April 28, 2010

Label: Metal Blade

It’s nothing new for me to have no idea about the bands whose albums I’m regular asked to review (a point I have a habit of making but what the hell I’ll do it anyway). Now I won’t bore you with the details but basically Arma Gathas features ex-members of various hardcore/metal outfits and that’s something which certainly shines through on this album. Whether or not that is a good thing is open to debate, (right now I’m listening to Lady GaGa so my opinion is obviously irrelevant) it’s certainly more of a metalcore album in the sense that it sounds very close to old-school Chimaira and Machine Head. There are definite rings of hardcore within the music, but the structure and inclusion of guitar solos seems to place it firmly in the metal camp.

As far as tracks go, ‘The Rise And Fall’ is definitely the major highlight and it’s certainly a cracking opener, but considering that the only other real standout is found 7 tracks later on the overly thrashy ‘Saviour’ there’s a feeling that you’ve been forgotten inbetween, thankfully the high’s more than compensate for the lows. The album is gratefully short (not because it’s bad but because overly long albums are far too frequent these days). The album is everything you’d expect, with breakdowns, blastbeats and shouted vocals it’ll certainly push a lot of people’s buttons (musically speaking). Well produced, if a little overdone at times it does feel sluggishly dense as points but not to the extent that it detracts too heavily from the album’s successes.

Ultimately this music is all about the live show, and that’s where Arma Gathas will have to prove themselves. I’m certainly optimistic, based on experience band’s of this calibre tend to more than deliver live. Give them a listen, it’s pretty bog-standard stuff but it’ll certainly do for any  hardcore drive-bys that you may have planned. As for me, I’m off to drink gin and listen to LGG whilst wallowing in my own self-pity and read some Existentialism. Only kidding, well about the self-pity bit at least…

Oh yeah… the album score;

7/10

Mr Bogle

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Band Roulette – Suck

April 27, 2010

Upon being completely stuck for ideas on what to write about I decided to pick something out of huge, gaping media void that is the internet by playing a game called band roulette (a roulette game on the internet without dudes wanking, horray!). The rules go as follows; go to a Wikipedia list of bands, zoom your browser out as far as possible, cover your eyes, move your mouse around and click! An unorthodox approach to finding something different perhaps, but it made me stumble upon “Suck”, a South African progressive rock band from the 1970’s.

Suck is essentially Led Zeppelin if they hired Robert Plant’s less talented brother, it’s not that he’s a bad singer (not by a long shot) but you listen to Suck and think: “gee wilickers I would be up for Zeppelin right about now”. Like Zeppelin the drumming is intense and for all the drummers out there I would strongly recommend listening to their song “Season of the Witch”, which has a charming little drum solo in, although you could  just listen to John Bonham if needs be.

The main issue with this band is their obscurity and they don’t even have a band website. Thankfully there is a pocket of songs on Youtube but the fact they were only around for one year (1970-1971) means they only got to release one album “Time to Suck” (and yes I’m sure googling this will bring up a stream of porn films).

Despite being one of the most obscure bands, “Suck” have got one claim to the history books and that is they’re one of the first bands to cover Black Sabbath’s song War Pig’s, a petty reason to be in the book but as it was such a good cover I figured it deserves some recognition even if it’s from a guttersnipe such as myself.

To conclude, “Suck” the obscure South African, prog rock group has at least meant that playing band roulette hasn’t completely fucked me over and churned up a shit band, even if this one does sound suspiciously like Led Zep.

PterryPtez

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Rhapsody Of Fire – The Frozen Tears of Angels

April 26, 2010

Label: Nuclear Blast, home of camp euro power metal

With Sonata Arctica toned down into sensibility and mediocrity, and Dragonforce now largely forgotten having peaked upon being featured on guitar hero 3, devoured whole by mainstream teenage neckbeards, the modern power metal scene needs something of a new rediculous extremity to come along and be laughed at with their long winded lyrics about “eternity”, “flames”, “kingdoms” and Lord Of The Rings. Enter this quite juicy new lol-fest of a Rhapsody Album.

As a silly as hell power metal album, it definately dosn’t dissapoint! Good old Christopher Lee is back, giving us a friendly welcoming intro with a pat on the back and some burble about necron, before the band launch into epic songs about power metal stuff. Although I probably wouldn’t see them (power metal fans are the worst), I am quite fond of Rhapsody, and there has to be something said of their ability to make songs that are both musically enjoyable and hilarious at the same time. You can enjoy the straightforward songwriting with all it’s guitar widdling and falsetto vocals which can genuinely entertain in a mock inspirational kind of way, while also giggleing as you would at that fat autistic kid with a mullet practicing sword moves.

Ultimately, its more of Rhapsody doing their thing, with zero grandiose control and subtlety, providing another entertaining extreme power metal album. You know the deal. Not really new, but they did include a paticularly funny moment with a really ghey folk metal song (Danza Di Fuoco E Ghiaccio), that single handedly trumps anything that Fintroll, Turisas, or any of those Scandinavian berks have done. Oh Euros!

8/10 (probably not for the reasons intended, c’mon, as gay as it is, it’s entertaining!)

Eyelicker (maybe they should just fucking get it over with and make Christopher Lee a band member)

Now go and laugh at the fat ninja mullet kid. It’s best at the end when he starts breathing really heavily and shouting “Dragon Twister!” and “Bull Charge!” You think he digs Rhapsody’s inspirational lyrics about swordplay?

Now here’s my personal favorite from them. They should make a film which is just 3 hours of this….