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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Band Review: The Screamagers

"Centipedes seem to exert a weird fascination on the morbid apetites of the hysterical and insane." -J.L Cloudsley-Thompson. I guess it's true, because I happened to be researching the damn creatures for the past 3 hours or so. At any rate, whether by divine providence or the clusterfuck of the World Wide Web, I discovered something called Centipede Records. I guess it's some kind of indie label? Well, these dudes are signed under them, and that's good enough for me.

In a nutshell, it's pop-punk about zombies and stuff. The long story, though, reveals elements of diverse genres and influences. The Surf-Rock toward which they hint is inextricably linked with the story of Metal, with loud twangy guitars and minimal chord progression. The Screamagers also embody traits of 60's Doo-wop/Pop numbers, with simple catchy riffs bordering on early Punk.  Hell, even Napalm Death seems to be an inspiration, what with the quickies that last little over  minute, if that. Subject matter is largely based on Vincent Price and the Hollywood sensationalism of zombies. The album art is indicative of early Punk, but still nods toward the quaint teenager-in-a-poodle-skirt motif that permeates the musical style.

Morbid, whimsical, spooky, and weird, I think I just found my new obsession. Four stars outta five.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cheryl And Dante's Bogus Journey

For those of you who don't know, I recently had an existential crisis of beastly proportions. My dilemna was this: Is Metal essential to my nature, or is my obsession with the genre accidental, as Aristotle would say? It seemed bleak. After all, the genre has not always existed, therefore it could not possibly be the defining characteristic of any personality. I refuse to accept this. What am I, if not a Metalhead? Do I even have an essence, or just changeable characteristics? I was doubting the very nature of my being, and the conclusions were as fucked up as the questions. My experience was eerily identical to Dante's descent into hell: "Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost." [Inferno, Canto I]  Fortunately, Dante survived his trials like a trooper, thus inspiring me to face my own demons. Dante and I embarked on a figurative sojourn, one that actually made sense after a few margaritas and this bottle of pills I found.

    In the wise words of Dio, Evil is great subject matter. Metalheads all over the world have always been aware of this fact, and of course Dante was the original hesher. We adorn our album covers and lyrics with monsters, corpses, scenes of gore and debauchery. So what could possibly be cooler than Hell itself? Turns out that Hell is interesting, but it's Hell for a reason. There's no fucking music. Even the corny image of angels strumming harps is indicative of inherent superiority to the Inferno. Sure, demon-torture and poetic justice can pique my curiosity, but the Inferno is still the obnoxious Black Metal of afterlives.

     If Hell is the Black Metal of afterlives, then Purgatory is the Prog Metal. It has its moments of awesomeness, and the general idea is to make some sort of progression (duh). But it's not necessarily how I want to spend eternity. Again, I was reminded of my identity crisis. Think about your favorite Prog Rock song. It's pretty good, right? You might even put it on repeat and listen to it for a really long time. But even my favorite jams get tedious after about an hour of hitting the replay button. So if you would get sick of the best music after an hour, how could you possibly endure an eternity of mediocrity? When I admit the possibility that I would ever hate Queensryche, I am clearly not a very good Metalhead. My love of Metal, as I feared, may be an Aristotelian accident. Son of a bitch.

That brings us into Heaven. So far we got Black Metal and Prog Rock, and now what subgenre is Paradise? Dante's psychedelic account of Heaven is reminiscent of the trippy-ass melodic style that characterises bands such as Children Of Bodom... So, I dunno, let's just call it Thrash. Now, we all know that Thrash Metal is anything but boring, yet for some reason no-one is all that intrigued by Heaven. We are more interested in the punishment of the wicked than in the rewards of virtue. I know evil is a great subject, but that's still a little twisted. At any rate, Dante's description of Heaven diminishes the hierarchal structure that had prevailed in both the Inferno and in Purgatory. In Paradise, the self is no longer defined by the position of the soul. I still don't know if I could interpret that in my favor or not.

When describing the human encounter with the divine, Dante insists that "Least and greatest alike gaze into that mirror." [Paradiso, Canto XV] This suggests that there are still personalites, some better and some worse, but they are all doing the same thing. Heaven is not devoid of structure, but it is more of a spectrum than a stage system. At any rate, the self is separated from the ego. My self is my essence, but my ego is the part of me that hates Queensryche after 8 hours of Operation: Mindcrime. When gazing into the mirror, the self you see reflected there is more commensurable with all the other souls in Heaven. You may still be a sentient being, in and of yourself, but you are like a mini-me of the entirety. In otherwords, it's like headbanging in sync with all the other Metalheads at the Amon Amarth concert.

The divinity which individuals experience in paradise is one that necessitates sacrifice. Those who enjoy eternal bliss must be absorbed in something, and dissociate from themselves. Just as an individual can get lost in a favorite song, so can an individual get lost in heaven. Such a person would relinquish all sense of time to get absorbed in the music for as long as it lasts. However, since heaven is eternal, it would be tantamount to losing the self in a neverending song. The reason that people on earth get annoyed when their favorite song is played for 60 consecutive minutes, is that they don’t love it enough. The obnoxiousness of such an experience is internal, not intrinsic in the music. However, the self remains sentient in heaven, and the ego takes a secondary role, thus rendering boredom and annoyance obsolete. Paradise, therefore, embodies a song you would love enough to spend eternity lost in it... Somewhere lost in time, if you will.

Anyway, I still don't know who the hell I am, but at least it turns out that Heaven is tantamount to eternal Metal. But you already knew that, didn't you?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Warehouse 21 Concert

So last time, I informed all you mongrels of the upcoming shows. If you missed this concert, that's entirely your own fault. Either way, here are the shenanigans that transpired last night.

Soul To Rest were the last-minute opening act, filling in for Burst Into Flames. I love both of these bands, so the show would have kicked ass anyway, but Soul To Rest is a local favorite and brought in a plethora of metalheads. They played monolith head-banging pieces such as Martyrdom Of The Divine and Early Morning Massacre, a pristine pre-game for the bands to come.

Next up was Echoes Of Fallen, a brutal Death-Metal band hailing from Albuqurque. Their style is a flashback to old school Death Metal. (Think about this: Morbid Angel meets Death. That's how they sound.) Although the subject matter of the lyrics is grueling, the vibes are all positive. These musicians are not only performers, but fans of Metal themselves, thus rendering gimmicks unnecessary. This attitude is radiant, and it shines through at concerts. Rarely have I seen a stage presence so energetic, even though it is devoid of novelty.

Leading into the headliner were local legends Savage Wizdom. This is old-style Power Metal at it's finest. These guys totally rock, with beefy lyrics, hooky riffs, and clean vocals bordering on operatics. The front row was packed with heshers banging heads in unison, and I kid you not when I say that most of the audience knew the lyrics by heart. Savage Wizdom put on a superb performance as usual.

The headlining band was Grinkai, bringing dirty thrashy Death Metal with a vengeance. These dudes have a funky style going on, reminiscent of Groove-Metal titans such as Pantera. The guitar riffs are catchy enough to get stuck in your head, and the vocals are ruthlessly caustic. Again, the stage presence brings in the X-Factor that recordings lack. A Grinkai concert is a spectacle to behold, and I cannot stress enough that if you missed it, I neither envy nor pity you. You deserve what you got, which is deprivation of the pinnacle of all that rocks. Serves you right, fucker.

Warehouse 21 did not dissapoint. This was the best night I've had in a long while. I'll be recovering from whiplash for a long time, but I hope to see you on March 2nd anyway. Four stars outta five.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Upcoming Shows

Warehouse 21, the best all-ages venue in Santa Fe, will be hosting a kick-ass Metal show on Saturday, featuring local legends Savage Wizdom and Grinkai, as well as the Albuqurque death-metallers Echoes Of Fallen and the talented Burst Into Flames hailing from Edgewood. Just because it's an all-ages event, don't think the place will be swarming with bratty kids. Old-school heshers frequent such concerts, and in fact the only difference is that alcohol is strictly prohibited. So leave your drugs at home and check this shit out. $5 at the door, show starts at 7. See you there.

Next on the to-do list is the Metal show on March 2nd. Same venue, same price, same time. Godhunter from Tuscon will be performing alongside the epic thrashers Simfonik Plague of Albuqurque. Skulldron, also from 'Burque, is a trippy taste of local Stoner Metal. The original line-up included Inoculara, but now Wormhole has replaced them on the bill. Don't miss this.

And remember... This is an all ages venue, so no drugs, alchohol, violence, or stupidity. A squalid slab of a venue in which to get your blood-and-metal fix is not without it's allure, but teens deserve a safe environment where they can enjoy good music. Let's keep their interactions with cops and paramedics to a minimum.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Band Review: Destroy To Recreate

Metal as a genre is as durable, and also as malleable, as the substance that shares its title. The heaviness remains constant, but the method by which it is expressed can change, often surpassing itself. This resilience is not only characteristic, but even exclusive to metal. The genre can be seen evolving in the limelight, manifested by well-known bands and publicized by their ever-vigilant fans. However, it is usually the underground scene that incubates the revolutions, and the pioneers who spearhead them. Of such catalysts, one is frequently overlooked, despite it's indisputable significance to the upward motion of music.

Enter Destroy to Recreate.

Destroy to Recreate is the aftershock of the theatrical dark humor which prevailed in the early years of Metal. But the tactics that were popularized by early rockers such as Alice Cooper have been brutalized by DTR, the theatrics are made less humorous and more abrasive to accommodate the modern state of Metal. They epitomize a contemporary style of Shock Rock, which exploits the melodic potential of the instruments without compromising the caustic nature that makes the genre what it is. The guitar riffs, although distorted, hint at some kind of catchy rhythm. The drums are fierce enough to satisfy without overpowering. The vocals are a flashback to 90's metal, gutteral yet discernable.
Immunized by the gore which has been injected by the media, DTR succesfully shocks and entertains a generation which is not yet indifferent to violence. "Sometimes you watch the news and see all the fucked up things that happen in the world, and it's so bad that  it kind of leaves a nasty taste in your mouth." Such is the sinister prelude to their shredding number, Bitter is the Taste, as delivered by vocalist Alex. True to their name, they use violence only on that which needs mending, and whose mending depends on extreme measures. Such things comprise a long list, but music is at the top.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Album Review: Clamber Of Chaos

Soul To Rest is one of the most popular metal groups in Santa Fe for a reason. Their style is caustic, melodic, and energetic, a very Whitechapel-esque combination. The recently released CD, Clamber Of Chaos, never recieved the hype it deserves. Soul To Rest concerts are most triumphant, so how would their recordings measure against the standard they set for live shows?

The album gets off to a good start, opening with the band's magnum opus, Like Sheep To Slaughter. This opening track is an undisputed masterpiece. The vocals are demonic, the melodies thrashy, and the composition sublime.Other tracks have been refined since their release on an untitled demo. Siphon The Beauty has evolved for sure. The intro no longer sounds like an ameteur cover of I Stand Alone, and now has a distinct sound unto itself.

Pitiful One, a former favorite until Sheep To Slaughter was composed, remains a testament of the prowess and musicianship of the band, being simultaneously heavy and catchy.The brilliantly titled Martyrdom Of The Divine is a barn-burner of epic proportions, rivaling the masterpiece that is LSTS. The remastered Hands Of Malice and new track Early Morning Massacre, although great songs, get lost in the mix.

The CD as an entirety is reminiscent of Whitechapel's style, although Soul To Rest guitars have more hooks and the drums are not as overbearing. The vocals are as wicked as the lyrics themselves, and all of the musical elements are cohesive. As a whole, the album is consistently badass, but a few songs are even more intense than the others.

Although not commensurable with the phenomenon that is a live Soul To Rest concert, the CD is very high quality with evolved heaviness and virtuosity from the band's humble beginnings. Four stars outta five.