Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Of 2008

No order of preference, this was yet another very strong year for metal. In fact, there's a good 10-15 releases that I never got around to that I know are potentially worthy of this list. Same goes for the everything else section.

HEAVY STUFF - Metal/Punk/Hardcore
1. Darkthrone – Dark Thrones and Black Flags (Peaceville/Tyrant Syndicate)
2. Blood Ceremony – Blood Ceremony (Rise Above)
3. Hail Of Bullets - Of Frost And War (Metal Blade)
4. Soilent Green - Inevitable Collapse In The Presence Of Conviction (Metal Blade)
5. Superbad - East River Deathsquad 7” (Torture Garden Picture Co.)
6. Enslaved - Vertebrae (Nuclear Blast)
7. Misery Index - Traitors (Relapse)
8. World Burns To Death - The Graveyard Of Utopia (Prank)
9. Avskum – Uppror Underfrån (Prank)
10. Rudimentary Peni – No More Pain (Southern)
11. Unleashed - Hammer Battalion (SPV)
12. Unearthly Trance - Electrocution (Relapse)
13. Thou - Peasant (Autopsy Kitchen)
14. Made Out Of Babies - Ruiner, The (The End)
15. Jucifer - L'autrichienne (Relapse)
16. Disfear - Live The Storm (Relapse)
17. Gnaw Their Tongues - Dawn Breaks Open Like A Wound That Bleeds Afresh (Universal Tongue)
18. Bloody Panda – Pheromone (Level Plane)
19. Bloodbath- Fathomless Master, The (Peaceville)
20. Desaster - 666 - Satan's Soldiers Syndicate (Metal Blade)
21. Holy Moses - Agony Of Death (SPV)
22. Dismember - Dismember (Regain)
23. Agenda of Swine – Waves of Human Suffering (Relapse)
24. Skepticism - Alloy (Red Stream)
25. Toxic Holocaust – An Overdose of Death... (Relapse)
26. Nachtmystium – Assassins – Black Meddle Part I (Century Media)
27. Menace Ruine – Cult of Ruins (Alien8)
28. Arckanum - Antikosmos (Moribund)
29. Elk/Carrion - split (no label)
30. Koldbrann - Stigma: På kant med livet (Twilight)
31. Agalloch – The White (Vendulus)
32. Beercraft - Demo 2008 (self-released)
33. Motorhead - Motorizer (Spv Gmbh)
34. Urfaust - Drei Rituale Jenseits Des Kosmos (Debemur Morti Productions)

EVERYTHING ELSE - folk, prog, psych, etc
1. Sts9 - Peaceblaster (1332)
2. Firewater – The Golden Hour (Bloodshot)
3. Lights – Lights (Language of Stone)
4. Death In June – The Rule of Thirds (Nerus)
5. Legendary Pink Dots - (ROIR)
6. Airfix Kits – Airfix Kits (self-released)
7. Dungen – 4 (Kemado)
8. Elephant9 - Dodovoodoo (Rune Grammafon)
9. Glass Candy - Beat Box (Rough Trade)
10. Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill (Type Records)
11. Guapo - Elixirs (Neurot)
12. Tommy Jay - Tommy Jay's Tall Tales Of Trauma (Columbus Discount)
13. Irata - Irata (Self-released)
14. Kim Ki O - En Az Iki, En Fazla Sekiz (Slusaj Najglasnije!)
15. Silver Summit - Silver Summit (Language of Stone)
16. Mudhoney - The Lucky Ones (Sub Pop)
17. Spectrum Meets Captain Memphis - Indian Giver ( Birdman Records)

1. Hellhammer – Demon Entrails 3xLP (Century Media)
2. Belong – 2006 Tour EP
3. Everything by Eric Malmberg (solo & with Sagor & Swing)
4. Helrunar - Baldr ok Iss (Lupus Lounge)
5. Defiance, Ohio - Share What Ya Got (Plan It-X)

1. Lichens/Om @ Brookdale Lodge January ‘08
2. Conspirarcy of Beards, etc. al @ Thee Parkside 2nd of February
3. Subhumans (UK)/Conquest for Death @ Slim’s – 4th March
4. Candlemass @ Slim’s 30th May
5. Needles/Yellow Eyes on WNL @ KZSU – June?
6. Deténe/Hirax/Attitude Adjustment @ Tidal Wave Metal Fest – McLaren Park 5th July
7. Laibach @ The Independent, 25th September
8. Embers/Saros/Nachtmystium/Wolves in the Throne Room @ DNA 12th October
9. Sir Richard Bishop - @ Aquarius Records 26th October
10. Ludicra/Asunder/Corrupted @ Slim’s – 31st October Metalween
11. Orb of Confusion/Beercraft @ Cedar St. Dome, Berkeley 21st December

1. Mourne (Boston)
2. Lights (Brooklyn)
3. Helrunar (Germany)
4. Kathaaria (Germany)
5. Elk (Oakland)
6. Beercraft (Oakland)
7. Orb of Confusion (Oakland)
8. G.A.T.E.S. (Japan)
9. Necrite (San Jose)
10. Abrupt (Oakland)

1. Metal, Music & Politics Conference in Austria 1st-5th of November
2. Making more friends in the metal/punk scene
3. Nagawika’s Metal Comics
4. Austrian Beer & Austrian & German Bretzels, Metal Mags und chocolates

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Separation of Church and Snacks!

I once bought some chips called Uncle Ray's Cool Ranch Chips completely randomly at Walgreen's. While they don't taste that great & were rather predictable they weren't horrible like the Frito-Lay (C)(R)(TM) products. The most baffling thing was the packaging. It like many things from the store, it had a "even though we're a mass produce consumer product, we're all about people" vibe to it. The package had a cartoon of Uncle Ray. Next to this was a summary of his dear departed uncle which was written by Ray's brother. Then the text took a strange U-turn: "My brother is now with our lord Jesus Christ" followed by a lengthy quote from Psalms 23:1-6, ugh. Btw, for you who had to Google that (myself included), it's the one that says "The Lord's my sheppard, i shall not want...I shall fear no evil." Blah, blah...I know it more from the Venom song "Welcome To Hell" but that's another story.

Snacks For Thee Sacred

Strangely, the very Christian Uncle Ray's even makes Kosher Dill Potato Chips. Kosher? Why not? Snacks for newly converted Jews during during the Rapture. Just like John McCain's preacher pal said. More kookiness here

Monday, December 29, 2008

Overthinking the "hipster metal" thing

craziness going in all sorts of weird directions.

I mean there's examples and there's WAY too obscure examples. All of which that make no point. And there's this gem:

"Which reminds me: Slayer. That was where I drew the line. Could never get into them."
Whuuut? I think Mr. Reynolds needs to get back to his Vampire Weekend album and fawning over whatever he's on about for the Wire these days.

Birth of the Beast: A Basic History of Heavy Metal – Chapter I: 1968-79

I wrote this for last Fall's KZSU program guide, so if you're not in the listening area of KZSU you probably didn't see this. Enjoy.

Before you ask - I’m nixing Led Zeppelin, AC/DC (both swell bands but they just got played on 500 different stations as I wrote this). Aerosmith also loses ‘cause this is KZSU not VH-1, alright?!? This period of ’68-’79, deals with some real grey areas. Where does the proto-metal come in the hard blues rock, prog or psych go out (or vice-versa)? Here’s some obvious choices and some of the not-so obvious.

1. Blue Cheer – Vincebus Eruptum – (Vertigo, 1968) These S.F. hippies, strangely gave way to some Heavy Metal (see St. Vitus), Heavy Psych (see High Rise) and even Grunge Rock (see Mudhoney)
2. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (Warner Bros, 13th February 1970) Dark, dread, doom and undeniably the truest, purest origin of HEAVY METAL - end of debate!
3. November - En Ny Tid Är Här (Sonet, 1970) Only a few months after Sabbath (or one can surmise). An amazing mix of Cream’s blues swagger, Tony Iommi’s guitar tone, big bass and wild drumming. All but one song in Swedish but these guys play the international language of badass.
4 & 4 1/2 Pentagram – First Daze Here Too (various recordings 1973-76, Relapse reissue, 2006) & Bedemon – Child Of Darkness (recordings from 1973-74, Black Widow reissue, 2004). There’s legendary and virtually unknown but Pentagram and Bedemon are both. First Pentagram – who paint in bits of Blue (Cheer) and Black (Sabbath) but definitely create something of their own. Both Pentagram and Bedemon made it even darker, managing to still crush on a limited recording budget. Bedemon features the stunning guitar/vocal work of Randy Palmer. (He joined Pentagram in 1974). Pentagram still exists today in some form or another and it’s can be seen in things like the label 20 Buck Spin, local tribute act Parallelogram and even Arnelli’s Pizza.
5. Deep Purple – In Rock (Warner Bros., 1970) Bombastic and very over the top heavy rawk legends that knew how to jam AND write really great songs. Plus, NO “Smoke on the Water”.
6. Nazereth – Razamanaz (A&M, 1973, Reissued 2007) While mostly a heavy blues rock album (lots o’ swagger n’ slide guitar) - the reissue has 4 bonus tracks were probably “too heavy” for ‘73. In a fair world, Guns N’ Roses would be only known for a dodgy ballad and Nazereth would be mega-huge. Vocalist Dan Caffery puts the “whiskey” in “whiskey soaked voice”.
7. Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (Mercury, 1976) Granted it’s the one with the 3 big hits but also it has “Emerald” which is one massive riff and next to the Scorpions & ‘Priest (+ ‘Maiden a few years later) some of the earliest and greatest dual guitar harmonies.
8. Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny (Gull, 1976) In a word: Intensity. This kicks off what we will hear a lot of in the 80’s: huge sound, extreme sharp guitars & screamin’ vocals (done the right way) and 100% energy.
9. Scorpions – Taken By Force (Mercury, 1977) Killer, pre-MTV Scorps with the deadly guitar duo of Rudolph Schenker and Uli Jon Roth. So many great songs that scream “heavy rock und fuggin’ roll”.
10. Motörhead – Motörhead (Chiswick, 1977) The first band loved by metalheads and punks. British, lawn killin’ speed freaks that were truly the first “extreme metal” band. Still continuing to outlast every lame trend.
11. Rainbow – Long Live Rock N’ Roll (Polydor, 1978) There’s something about pairing the guitar virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) and very commanding vocals of Ronnie James Dio (later of Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell, Dio) that makes this work to near perfection on every song.
12. Heavy Load – Full Speed At High Level (Heavy Sounds, 1978) These Swedes got a jump start on the UK’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal by playing some galloping riffs (with only one guitar!?) with off-metered vocals. There’s even a near speed metal tune about Vikings!
13. UFO – Strangers In The Night (Chrysalis, 1979) Near perfect live album from that just screams “arena rock perfection”.

Honorable mentions:
High Tide – Sea Shanties (Liberty, 1969) Mostly good, very “jammy”, skating away on the thin lines connecting prog, hard psych and proto-metal.
Crazy World Of Arthur Brown – Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (Mercury, 1969) “I Am The God of Hellfire!” is the first thing you hear which makes it’s pretty shocking but not far off in the zeitgeist of Manson and Vietnam. Brown’s vocal histrionics that put him ahead of his time.
Sir Lord Baltimore – Kingdom Come (Polygram, 1970) Bombastic stuff from the UK, with a faster, looser and wilders than Zeppelin feeling.
Lucifer Was – Underground And Beyond – Very interesting Norwegian Tull/Sabbath-ish proto-uh…folk-metal rockers. (Record Heaven, 1971, reissued 1997)
Accept – Accept (Brain, 1979) Pretty solid debut for these soon to be highly influential but often unheralded German bangers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Manowar's "Defender" Smurf style

You haven't heard it all've heard Manowar's "Defender" on on 45

First there's the intro by Orson Wells then then vocals kick in. Dare I say it's better than Rush & Zeppelin on 45? Thanks to Erich at GoodBad Music for uploading this.