Author Archives: Travis

21
Nov

Winter warmer

“You lie in the snow.  Cold, but not dead…”   – ‘Burn’ by Neurosis

Winter is the darkest time of the year.  It is marked by death: plants shrivel and fade, weaker animals starve, and the natural world slows to a veritable crawl.  Despite this, I find some peace in this process, as I know it is both ephemeral and necessary; a cleansing in preparation for rebirth.   Civilization, though it has tried, has not freed us from these natural rhythms.

The music of Neurosis embodies this progression; the passing of the old to make way for the new.  They are often described as a force of nature, but in reality they are just a reflection – as is all good art.

The Eye of Every Storm is their most primal album.  Stripped of the apocalyptic, layered sound of previous works, ‘Eye’ is open, raw, and human.  It is men coming to terms with their place in the natural order of things.   Eventually, we all must do this.    Winter is the time for such contemplation.

So start a fire, pour yourself a dark ale (currently Pyramid’s “Snow Cap Winter Warmer” for me), and grow a beard while Neurosis guides you through the winter.  You’re cold, but not dead.

Check out a YouTube playlist here.


16
Nov

Machine Head threaten to ruin my birthday

When it comes to Machine Head, I’m like the girl who puts up with years of physical and emotional abuse because she knows that, deep down, he’s the same man she fell in love with during that amazing summer they shared like 20 years ago.   Because I’m still hoping for 1994 Robb Flynn to sweep me off my feet and tell me everything is going to be OK, I always try to see Machine Head when they come to my city.  So it goes without saying that I was excited to see this on Blabbermouth the other day:

San Francisco Bay Area metallers Machine Head will embark on a North American headlining tour…

Hey, they’re coming to town on my birthday!  Sweet!  Wait… what was the rest of that press release?

…with support from Suicide Silence, Darkest Hour and Rise To Remain.

Shit.  I didn’t see that coming.  Let’s see what we’re working with here (after the jump).


2
Nov

Writhing

With Guido discussing some of the most influential Death Metal bands in his “Death Metal Week” series, I thought I’d highlight a band that influenced more or less nobody, but still caused me some psychological damage when I was 17.

I was never a Death Metal kid. Since none of my friends were either, my exposure to Death Metal was limited to catching a Morbid Angel or Obituary video on ‘Headbanger’s Ball.’ While good, these bands were hardly the most “extreme” bands in the genre, even in those early days. I wanted something that was uncomfortable to listen to and, if found, would force my parents to stage some sort of intervention.

Then one day, while browsing the cassette racks at the local music store, I came across The Dead Youth’s album Writhing. I knew instantly where my lawn mowing money was going. Make the jump for more.


26
Oct

Where have I heard this before?

Harm’s Way, a hardcore band from Chicago led by monstrous front man Lou Ferrigno, released one of the most punishing albums of 2011. Isolation is a beast from front to back. But fear not, metal nerds for whom “hardcore” is a dirty word, Harm’s Way has more in common musically with 90’s metal juggernauts such as Machine Head, Sepultura, and Entombed than they do with hardcore vets Madball or SOIA. Their inclusion on the “God Damn” tour with The Acacia Strain and Terror solidifies their position as rising stars of the hardcore/metal scene.

This is one of my favorite albums of the year, and well worth checking out regardless of your feelings about hardcore. I could easily write a full review extolling the virtues of Isolation, but what fun is that? Let’s instead talk about what pissed me off about it.


15
Oct

Mine are the drums of God

A recurring theme likely to manifest in my posts is that I’m old, bitter, and, if I had a lawn, I’d want these stretched-lobed whippersnappers to get the fuck off of it immediately. I’m not trying to say that things were better back in my day… but if we’re speaking objectively, they definitely were. Especially when it comes to drums in metal.

Now that our fear of imperfection has eliminated the drummer’s groove by snapping every hit to the grid, disregarded their tone by replacing all their hits with samples, and crushed all dynamics through excessive compression/limiting, what do we have left but glorified drum machines? Do drummers even have personalities anymore? (If you know any drummers you already know the answer to this) Can anyone even tell modern drummers apart from one another?

Back in my day, not only did drummers have to carry their drums on their back as they walked 5 miles uphill through snow to the studio, they also had to *GASP* actually play songs all the way through in order to achieve a final take. Not just get ‘close enough’ for the producer/engineer to fix later. ‘Recording’ songs has given way to ‘constructing’ songs and what’s been lost is the sound of a human being absolutely destroying a drumkit in a room. It may not be “perfect” but imperfection is what makes it human.

With this in mind, let’s talk about one of the best metal drum performances/productions to ever be released… After the jump!


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