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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Datz Not Metulz Part 2

I was unable/unwilling to post anyting for the past week or so, due to the fact that I was kidnapped to Durango to see a rave. I came back in one piece, but Colorado will be scarred forever. Anyway, I was deprived of Metal for a pretty long time, even though I enjoy electronic music. I don't remember what any of the DJ's called themselves, but I think it's fair to say that the music scene in Colorado is pretty freaking epic. Don't believe me? Check out the poll for the  Denver Music Showcase. While you're at it, vote for Scalafrea... Or Speedwolf...Or Iconocaust.

My point is, it's about time I had a drunken epiphany and realized that "Metal" is not synonymous with "Awesome", even if there is massive overlap. Just like some Metal kind of sucks,  other genres prove to host gems of musicianship and talent. Raves still aren't my favorite thing in the world, but last week was sublime. I will always prefer guitar distortion to record scratches, mosh pits to fist pumps, and blood to glitter. In fact, I was stranded so far out of my comfort zone that it was scarier than any Metal show I've ever seen. Ain't that something? Picture this: a badass Metal bitch, who has braved the fiercest pits and afterparties, now cowering from the pink-glowstick weilding frat boys. For shame.

So last week was amazing, even if the only activity that was remotely "Metal" was trashing the hotel room. Everything else was a whole 'nother world. Granted, the first DJ played a remix of Bulls On Parade, which is technically headbangable, but that's basically like running out of booze and resorting to mouthwash.  Not only does Colorado rock, but I have a newfound appreciation for genres that I had hitherto ignored. Five stars outta five.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

1st Annual Blu Phoenix Rising Fest

In case no-one noticed (which is probably the case), I've been pumped about this show for about a month. Now that it finally happened, I feel entitled to rant and rave even more about it. It was amazing, as Joe Angel Productions tend to be, and it went a little something like this:

The opening act was Of All Forms, which I consider to be the quintessential modern Metal band. They're not radio-friendly in the traditional sense, but they sound like they could get some air-time on one of the cooler rock stations. There are no gimmicks or genre-bending, just good ol' Metal. OAF is heavy and loud, as it should be. In fact, they were loud enough that I could hear their awesome tunes all the way from the stupid stamp table at which I was working. Good stuff.

Next up was, uh... I don't know, because I think there were some last minute line-up changes. Let's just pretend that it was Through Gore Comes Glory. Whoever it was, I don't think I've ever seen these guys live, or if I did then I was too drunk to remember it. Either way, when I heard the vocalist during the sound check, I knew I couldn't miss it. So in an act that was somewhere between endearing and obnoxious, I just moved the stamp table in front of the concert hall doors. In the process, I discovered the noble art of headbanging on a skateboard. It was totally worth it.

Next was The Eden Betrayal, a local Metalcore group. I don't know why Christian Rock has such a bad rep, because these guys were effing brutal. The clean vocals were pretty decent, but the screams were absolutely mindblowing. The guitar and bass riffs were hook-y, the drumming was fierce, and the whole stage presence was intense. Again, I was stranded at the stupid stamp table, but I could hear the music- and the raucous applause- from my station.

The fourth band to play was Portrait Of A Mastermind from Albuqurque. Having seen them before, I knew it was worth it to forsake my door-duty to hear them again. The nanosecond I was relieved, I ran to the concert hall like a bat outta hell. Not only is the vocalist a freaking beast, but the guitars are complex to the point of intricacy. The bass and drums keep things heavy, and the dynamics of the band are ultimately a synthesis of melodic and technical styles. The cherry on top is that they have a freaking pirate song, and if that doesn't shiver your timbers, nothing will.

Like I said, I kinda lost track of all the bands, especially since Fields Of Elysium bailed, so forgive me if I give false information here. The next band was (probably) From Sacrifice To Survival. If you clicked on that link, then you know what kind of show they put on. That shit was BADASS. The music is crazy and energetic, with some hella gnarly vocals. And even if I mistook which order they played in, I can redeem myself when FSTS plays the Metal Alliance tour with Devildriver and Job For A Cowboy on April 8th.

I'm pretty sure that Immortal Prophecy was the next band, but don't quote me on it. Anyway, their instrumental style is epic, melodic, and heavy.... in a word, righteous... whereas the vocals are snarly and wicked. For some reason, these guys sound really old-school to me. Their style is a flashback to late 80's/early 90's Metal, and in fact is almost nostalgiac. The vocals, however, seem more contemporary. Well, whatever, the point is they are fucking shredders, and I love their concerts.

Leading into the headliner, I know for a fact, was Impurity Of Mriya. They too were fucking shredders. Their stage presence was spectacular, and their music was rowdy. Their energy was intense, dark, and sometimes a little freaky, just like their album art. I don't know who designed their logo, but it has the same earthy, dark hinted hues of Viraemia, as well as the realistic gore. Their performance was so jarring that it was refreshing, and the whole audience was enraptured by their wicked compositions.

The headliner was The Devastated, who recently got signed to a major label. It has been but a fortnight since they became the latest addition to Century Media, the same company that brought you Arch Enemy, Winds Of Plague, Suicide Silence, and In Flames. To join their ranks, The Devastated has to be some heavy duty stuff. They proved themselves in concert, as they were ruthlessly heavy and painfully loud... That's right, they were so cherry that it hurt. The music was very rhythmic, but almost devoid of melody. Not only was the performance amazing, but they had killer merch as well. Weed Goats and Demon Dogs? Hell yeah. They will be on tour, so check the dates and show these guys some support.

Best night ever. Five stars outta five.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Band Review: Distances

Last post grazed upon the surface of the Albuqurque band Distances and their extaordinary stage presence. However, I feel as though their talent warrants a little more attention than what I gave them. Since I'm already conscious at the ungodly hour of 10 in the morning, I'll do a quickie post before I go to the first annual Blu Phoenix Rising fest. (W21, $10, 5 PM). Anyway, this band is phenomenal, so check this shit out.

Lucid melodies sublimate, abrupt and yet seamless, into intense cadences. However, these heavy sections are still tempered by elements of ambience. The guitar riffs are pristine, distorted in their consonance, leaving the audiences ears ringing with this haunting silvery sound. The vocals are consistently caustic, never straying from the ruthless snarls that characterize the music. Meanwhile, the drums are usually in the background, but the shining moments of percussion are fucking immaculate, like seeing the moon shine through a veil of clouds.

Distances embodies audiovisual overdrive bordering on synesthesia. The sensory assault is lurid and brooding, and somehow remains harmonious. The sight of the musicians on stage, headbanging together amongst the scizophrenic lights, was a testament to the unison in entropy that defines the band. Distances was an exquisite experience, not only for their beautiful music but also for their visual spectacle. Five stars outta five.

(P.S.  Thanks for the acid flashback. )

Friday, March 16, 2012

Last Minute Review

Last time, I made a last-ditch effort to promote some shows that didn't have a lot of publicity. However, I was under the mistaken impression that only 3 bands were playing last night's gig, whereas I was pleasantly surprised by a full set of five. Anyway, this is what mischief transpired:

 If you're familiar with my blog, you should be familiar with Obelisk. Otherwise, I don't know how to describe them without turning vague or preachy. I guess they sound like catchy, gloomy, party-sludge. I would give you a link to their music if I could, but unfortunately there are about infinity Metal bands named Obelisk. You will be content to have their Facebook page.

Next up was Distances from Albuqurque. Their virtuosity is so trippy that it gave me a fucking flashback. Imagine the sun and moon in the same sky, and the sky itself is a beautiful shade of peachy orange. Now picture an endless flock of doves flying through this setting. Distances is like the soundtrack to this vision, surreal and atmospheric although it is somewhat sinister. Seeing these guys in concert was intense, vivid, and all around amazing. I can't wait to see them again, hopefully in the near future.

After that, I think East Of The Wall played. Sorry guys, but the members of EOTW and North look the same to me, so if I mixed your bands up, feel free to set me straight. Anyway, whoever it was, they were fucking shredders. The style was ambient and heavy, so I'm tempted to call it Post-Metal. If Distances was like a crazy trip, then EOTW was like the mellow, groovy aftermath. Fucking sublime.

Leading into the headliner was (I think) North. Like I said, if I got you guys in the wrong order, it is your duty- nay, your privilege- to correct my sorry ass. At any rate, these guys were another taste of effervescent, melodic music tempered by elements of hard rock. I am perplexed how they combined Heavy Metal with chill vibes so seamlessly. So, as usual, the concert coordinater was right. North was just as badass as I had suspected.

Last on the bill was Cassovita. Unfortunately, due to extenuated circumstances, I was unable to stick around for their set. However, I know from prior experience that these dudes put on a wicked fucking show. The drumming is loud and heavy without being a distraction, and the guitarist is phenomenal. Instrumental, progressive, and occasionally psychedelic, Cassovita is an extaordinary duo.

So... That's what happened last night. If you're sorry you missed it, you can check out Obelisk and Cassovita tonight at Santa Fe Sol. $7 to see 7 bands. Anyway, last night ruled, so I'm gonna say it was four stars outta five.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Last Minute Shows

 Local music scenes rule, and as such I try to promote concerts and events as often as I can. But there were some shows that I didn't even know about until approximately five seconds ago, so I'm gonna hype it up as much as possible within the given deadlines.

First of all, we have Obelisk, Cassovita, and some other third band playing at W21 at 7 PM tonight, so there's like 2 hours to get ready for that shit. There's not even a flyer for me to share with you beautiful people, so you can already tell this gig is going to be a little hectic. However, as Chris Krovatin so eloquently stated, cartoonish crisis is the pinnacle of Metal art. Anyway, the first two bands are from Santa Fe, and they can best be described as "Pretty Metal." Obelisk is groovy, ambient, and a little bit sludge-y. It's like post-metal with growlish vocals. Cassovita is a former Death-Metal band that dropped the "Death" part, along with half the members. Now it is an Instru-Metal duo with trippy, atmospheric melodies. I forgot the other band's name, but the concert coordinater assures me that they rock. Not only has she booked them for years, but she's a musician herself (Check out her band, Drought), so I generally trust her judgement.

Tomorrow we have These Charming Cobras, Venus Bogardus, Torn Between Worlds, Lo On High, and Soul To Rest, as well as Cassovita and Obelisk again. These Charming Cobras aren't really Metal so much as Punk, but they've earned a reputation for bringing a kick ass performance. Torn Between Worlds is old-school Death-Metal, and they're epic as fuck. Soul To Rest is also pretty amazing, and for some reason they remind me of Whitechapel. I don't know much about the other bands, but it's only $7 so what's the worst that can happen? This show isn't at Warehouse 21 but at Sol (37 Fire Place, mapquest it), so that means there's an open bar for those with I.D.

And the next day, we have the Santa Fe half of 2 Days 2 Cities Levelled. This one is at Warehouse 21, so no drinking please. Show starts early, like 5 PM, $10 at the door. I don't feel like listing all the bands, so here's a flyer.

And furthermore...Wait, what time is it?! Damn, it's already 6:05. Sorry everyone, gotta fly.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Datz Not Metulz!

15 minutes ago... March 12, 2012 at 11:45 am... I made the most bogus discovery that Fields Of Elysium has lost their phenomenal drummer due to "Creative differences." I'm no artist, so I'm tempted to say that aesthitic integrity can suck it as long as my favorite bands remain intact. However, I also understand that real life doesn't work that way, and sometimes creativity causes adversity. It's been a good run, and considering the fact that these fuckers have been together since they were 13 years old, I'm impressed that they survived for so long. But, alas, even the good times can't be forever.

I find relief by visualizing some cosmic demon stamping expiration dates on everything I love. And yet, even silly satanic imagery is an insufficient coping mechanism. I went to high school with these fools. I've seen each concert that was legal for me to actually attend (bars don't count.) Over the years, I have become very invested in this band, so a travesty such as this hits with the force of a splitting atom. I love these dudes to death, not only as musicians but as people, so I wish them all the best of luck with their future endeavors. Moving on with life is such a bittersweet necessity, and I guess a change for the better was a long time coming.

...Still, this is FUCKING BOGUS.

Friday, March 9, 2012

2 Days 2 Cities Levelled

So last time, I informed all you uncultured swine of the impending Metal shows coming to the Albuqurque/ Santa Fe area. Since I am too lazy and stupid to write anything creative today, I'm just going to keep ranting and raving about these concerts. If I can make just one Metalhead as stoked as I am, then my efforts shall not be in vain. So, let's see, who is on the bill?

Whoah. That's alot of bands. I would burn candles to every god I know just to see Fields Of Elysium, but that's only one of the 12 bands. Immortal Prophecy is pretty damn good, I know I've seen them live at least once before. Portrait Of A Mastermind not only features a female vocalist who can hold her own against the boys, but she's a hottie as well.  The Eden Betrayal is Christian Metalcore, and worth seeing in concert. I've never seen Through Gore Comes Glory, but I've heard enough rumors to keep my expectations high. Eat A Helicopter is one of the bigger bands from Albuqurque, so they too have a reputation that I hope they fulfill. I don't know much more about any of the other bands, but like I said, Ten Bucks is worth it just to see Fields, so I'll see what they got. This is a Joe Angel Production, and he is a man of most refined taste, so I assume this concert will be epic as fuck. See you at W21 on the 17th. Bring ten bucks and arm yourself to the teeth.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Upcoming Shows

Of all the seasons, Spring is the least Metal. That's probably why my writing has sucked lately... There's no brooding cold and darkness for me to bitch about. There's just a bunch of ugly pastel colors and dorky "SPRING into savings!" advertisements for department stores. Then again, that is a far more cruel fate to endure than Winter is, so I guess Spring is actually pretty messed up. Either way, I need some action in my life, so I'll be checking this shit out now that the weather is nice enough to break out the skateboard again.

First off, we'll be getting the first annual Blu Phoenix Rising fest, AKA 2 Days 2 Cities Levelled. The first city on the hit-list is Albuqurque, with an epic Metal-fest consisting of The Devastated, Immortal Prophecy, Fields of Elysium, Portrait of a Mastermind, The Eden Betrayal, Through Gore Comes Glory, and some other bands whose logos are illegible. However, if my memory serves correctly, bands who have crazy logos are usually badass, so here's hoping. After hitting 'Burque on March 16th, the fest moves on to Santa Fe for Saturday the 17th with virtually the same lineup. On both dates, the show starts at 5:30, and it's $10 at the door. Oh yeah, and there will be free BBQ and give-aways all day! See ya there. 

Next on the to-do list: Metal Alliance Tour, 2012. Man, Fields of Elysium are gonna be wiped out by the end of the season! Not only are they playing both dates of 2 Days 2 Cites, but they'll also be sharing the stage with Devildriver on April 8th. Unlike most Metal shows, this one is happening on a Sunday. Also playing will be Job For A Cowboy, The Faceless, Dying Fetus, 3 Inches of Blood, Impending Doom, Wretched, and... uh, another illegible band. This shit is gonna rock! Tickets are $23, they can be purchased from the bands or, if you're in Santa Fe, from the Concrete Jungle smokeshop.

And finally... Occupation Domination. Son of a bitch, this is a lineup and a half! This tour comes around my neck of the woods on May 2nd, at the Historic El Rey Theater of Albuqurque. I would sell my soul just to see Rings Of Saturn, but check out everyone else on the bill. That's not even counting the local bands who will  open, which in all likelihood will probably include Fields Of Elysium again. If I ever get to see Rings Of Saturn and Fields Of Elysium play the same gig, I can finally die happy. This show is in the relatively distant future, so details such as ticket prices and the time the doors open are yet to come. Stay tuned, and rock on.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

To Be A Rock And Not To Roll

Like Metal itself, the origin of skateboarding is disputable. However, even their debatable beginnings were around the same generation... the late 60's. For example, it was at this time that a bunch of California surfer dudes wanted to ride sidewalks instead of waves. I will never tire of harping on this point: The surfer lifestyle is intertwined with the story of Metal. (Thanks, Sam Dunn!) An extreme sport needs extreme music, a soundtrack to your athletic exploits. Surf rock was an influence on heavy Metal, with twangy guitars cranked high enough to simulate the thrill of riding a killer wave.

This symbiotic relationship eventually evolved into huge events such as Vans Warped Tour, where an insane rock concert was sponsored by a skater company. This may not be related exclusively to Metal, and in fact is more affiliated with Punk, but the fact remains that crazy stunts deserve some crazy tunes. Before Warped Tour and other giant festivals, skater punks ran rampant throughout the west coast during the 80's. The style of skate rock was more thrashy and aggressive than it's surf rock predecessor, which makes sense because wiping out on asphalt packs more punch than wiping out in water.

 Like Metal, skating is cathartic. It is the synthesis of control and pain. The skater's balance (or lack thereof) is the only factor on which the pain depends. Like the teachings of Eastern Philosophy, the act of skating forces one to aknowledge only the current state, the "now", the immediate surroundings. The sketchy sidewalk behind is as irrelevant as the unleashed German Shepard ahead, especially when the present has you sliding into an impending sixteen wheeler. What a semi-truck was doing in a residential area, I have yet to understand. I don't understand the Bhagavad Gita either. My only understanding is the empirical knowledge of gravity, sinister though it may be. Without gravity, I have nothing against which I can rebel. Except maybe death...

Which brings us to the Yin-Yang. It is a notorious symbol of balanced yet opposing forces, famous almost to the point of cliche`. But like the fusion of Metal and Punk, the fusion of Death and Life combines into an artistic rebellion against established rules. Just like a Yin-Yang, my skateboard embodies this harmony between extremes. The relationship of instability to balance is a balance in and of itself. Constant awareness is necessary to maintain constant equilibrium. Rogue gravel on the sidewalk, like eternal truth within the world, is invisible to those who do not seek it.

With Dio's namesake etched in my griptape, this is my blood-letting ritual to appease him. No, I am not over his death, and I don't plan on getting over it any time soon. My deck is a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down, abused and weaponized almost to annihilation. I have the motor skills of a twelve-year-old on amphetamines. The streets and sidewalks of Santa Fe are a cruel and pitiful mockery of the pavement industry. I am caught in a rolling death-trap. I've never been happier.  \m/

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Top 4 Metal Album Covers

Let's face it, we kind of earned our reputation for corny album covers. For every masterpiece worthy of a full back tattoo, there are a zillion neon gory monstroties created by a graphic-designs drop out. For your sake, I have sifted through the good, the bad, and the ugly to give you four of my favorites. Let's start it out with numba 4.

4. Last Of Lucy - Euphoric Obsession

Cow holy, this is as psychedelic and morbid as a bad trip itself. I love this kick-ass design, featuring sinister 'shrooms and the kind of freaky monster that appears when you eat one too many. Their appearance is lurid and colorful, without falling into the common rut of gawdy cartoon. On the contrary, the dark hues of the art force the viewer to peer in more deeply to appreciate the details. The subtle hints of reality in their stylistic design make everything that much more surreal, and that much more disturbing.

3. Muknal- EP

  I wish I could find a title for this, but I can't. Feel free to enlighten me if you know it. Any way, check out this most triumphant artwork: A celestial cave so surreal that it borders on psychedelic. I'm no artist, but I know some bitchin' contrast of positive and negative space when I see it. This is also reflective of the paradox of violet with crimson, or an earthbound crevasse juxtaposed with astronomical infinitude. Notice that, unlike other album covers, this one portrays no semblance of life. If you think that's morbid, just wait 'til you hear the music.

2. Pantera - Vulgar Display Of Power

Behold: A cover that lives up to its title (literally!) The story behind the photoshoot is a modern-day legend. If the tale is to be believed, the dude getting socked in the head was paid $10 per punch until they got just the right shot, which was purported to be about 30 takes. At any rate, it's a sick picture for a sick album, so everyone wins.

1. Iron Maiden - Killers

The graphics are a perfect balance of realistic and stylized, creating an image as surreal and disturbing as the music itself. Eddie, my beloved anti-hero, looks badass as ever while he chops an anonymous victim. Eddie appears awesome, sadistic, and (dare I say it?) even a little sexy in a candid moment of calm between storms. Meanwhile, terrified civilians cower in their homes behind half-drawn curtains. Whether they are averting their eyes to the horror, or rubbernecking from the safety of their abodes, remains ambiguous.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Slings And Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune

 Last night was a pretty epic failure, even for me. I had organized (and I use the term in the loosest possible sense here) a Metal show at Warehouse 21,but approximately five people came. I should know by now that writing, and not  organization, is my forte. I mean, I've been cranking out mean prose from amidst my own squalor for years. I'm pretty sure that the cops came in at some point last night, but that might just be wishful thinking. At any rate, the stars themselves had aligned against me, and yet I still managed to see four ridiculously talented bands do their thing on stage. So here are the awesome, if somewhat clusterfucked, results of my lack of responsibility.

First up was Wormhole, hailing from Las Cruces, NM. Southern New Mexico is generally a giant dusty Meth-Lab, infested with tweakers devoid of souls or higher brain functions. Such an environment provides a stark backdrop for some of the best Metal bands in the Southwest, and Wormhole is a testament to this fact. I'm not insulting the band for being from Las Cruces. On the contrary, I commend them for coming all the way up here to my barren tourist-city that I call a hometown to play for us. They put on one hell of a show, and they deserved a better audience than what they got.

Next was Godhunter from Tuscon, AZ. Holy mother of Metal, these dudes rule. Their musical style is beyond heavy... Quite frankly, they sound pretty fucked up. Ruthless chaos is cathartic, and Godhunter hit the freaking spot. They bring a primordial onslaught of noise that many other bands would attempt to polish. As a Metalhead, I love sensory overdrive. My lizard brain is far too primal for my own good. I am a Dionysian of the most unrefined variety, a supplicant of the decadent orgies of yore. People like me love Godhunter.

Although they were technically headlining, Skulldron played second-to-last. Unlike many other Stoner-Metal bands, everything about these dudes is saturated with a genuine Stoner mentality. Listening to them is like hearing a bong-rip translated into guitar distortion. Even the screams and growls sound suspiciously like a post-stem cough. I'd come up with some more drug-metaphors to describe them if I wasn't too fried. At any rate, they kicked some major ass, and the best part of the whole night was probably their song about Sirens. In case you haven't noticed, I am a sucker for Greek mythology. Not only that, but the song itself was like a flashback to NWOBHM, almost Angelwitch-esque in its nature. Fucking badass.

Last on the bill was Simfonik Plague. It's all in the name, really. Their music is simultaneously melodic and pestilent, with sick, thrashy guitars juxtaposed against a fussilade of machine-gun drumming and harsh vocals. I remember seeing them years ago at Warehouse 21, when the venue was literally an abandoned warehouse. Of all the bands who played on that fateful day, so many moons ago, Simfonik Plague and Grinkai were the only ones I remember. And it seems I see Grinkai at least once a month (wonder if they're werewolves?) whereas seeing Simfonik Plague was like a reunion of a long-lost love. Ah, Simfonik Plague, light of my life, fire of my Metal. My sin, my soul. It's about fucking time.

Well, I wish more people showed up, and that I didn't suck at life, but Alas.... It is a cruel fate I must endure. I'm still at a loss for words, but at the very least the night was one that I could look back and laugh at... Eventually.