Archive for category Pointless Music Reviews
An awful night of strep throat induced fever dreams are probably not necessary in order to appreciate Ewigkeit’s new record “Back To Beyond”, but it certainly made my experience unique. I’ve been living inside of this album for a good few weeks and thought I understood it, but a head full of prednisone, amoxicillin and raging germs can make you experience something totally differently. I fell asleep with the album on repeat on Friday night and lay there for 15 hours hovering between this world and another, far more terrible place.
Salvador Dali once said, “Give me a rag covered in paint thinner and I’ll draw you the real world.” I’m not sure what he meant, or even if he even said that, but I can relate. I have traveled beyond the stars for a few hideous hours, buoyed on waves of cascading keyboards and tragic light. The reality of space is more ghastly then you can possibly imagine.
Poets often comment on the night sky and all of its beauty. This is because they are delusional. Outer space offers nothing more than horrible disfigurement and immediate death. A short stint in the vacuum of space unprotected by hundreds of pounds of survival gear would turn your lungs into piñatas. If your body were sucked into a black hole, you would be turned into something vaguely resembling angel hair pasta. If you came within 20 football fields of a star, every part of your body would be incinerated in blast of heat and agony. Where is the beauty in any of this?
Sure, space is silent and peaceful. So is a coffin. When I think of the tranquility of outer space, I am often reminded of that horrifying scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where astronaut Frank Poole is released into the nether reaches of nothingness. He spins and spins and spins. Forever. No hope of rescue. An eternal death spiral.
People often make the unfortunate mistake of confusing calm with peace. A bear can be calm, but it sure as hell isn’t peaceful. The ocean seems so relaxed and unburdened when looking at it from the shore, but if you spend a minute below its veneer of peace without the proper equipment, you will spasmodically thrash your way to waterlogged annihilation. Death waits for us everywhere, even on greeting cards.
As we stare into the seemingly idyllic vastness of space, it is best to remember that the universe is nothing more than a giant death-making machine for those of us who are tethered to the very specific circumstances that permit life. The universe only tolerates our species, regularly reminding us of its profound disinterest in our well-being.
“Back To Beyond” is a good way to come to terms with the reality of space. Its soft layer of elegance hides a core of shrill, furious brutality. The illusion of breathtaking serenity is perfectly juxtaposed with the cruelty and violence of the night sky . It is a stunningly gorgeous vision of despair in perpetuity.
I woke up about two months ago with a wolverine on my porch. I think it was a wolverine. I can’t really tell. It is a horrifying beast that smells like dead otters. When I found it, it looked cute enough. Whoever left it for me put it in a basket with a blanket around it like it was a baby. However, the minute I took it into my home it went berserk destroying my entire Manowar vinyl collection and the Mille Petrozza velvet painting I had commissioned during a particularly serious Kreator listening binge. I call the thing The Freon Neonate.
The first issue that needed to be addressed was finding it food. I tried microwave pizzas, guacamole dip, Cheetos, Lysol, pepper spray….but it wanted no part of those things. I picked up some groundhogs from the pet store and it seemed to like those much better. They are expensive. One groundhog is about fifteen bucks. Way too much to spend to feed this thing regularly.
My problem was solved about two weeks ago when I took the thing for a walk to the park up the street from me. The Freon Neonate spotted a hipster Jehovah’s Witness knocking on a door in our neighborhood and went wild. He snapped the leash I was walking him with and, in what seemed a matter of seconds, retracted its jaws consumed a hipster five times his size. It was incredible. Nothing was left. Bones, horned-rimmed glasses, Converse sneakers, beard, Elvis Costello tee-shirt, Watchtower magazines….gone.
I wasn’t sure if it liked hipsters or Jehovah’s Witnesses. I fed both to The Freon Neonate. While it barely touched the Witness, gnawing briefly on her arms before losing interest, it sucked down the hipster like it hadn’t eaten in months. It even polished off her Hello Kitty vintage purse in two bites. Problem solved. All I needed to do to keep it healthy was go down to Little Five Points every few days, bag a fresh hipster and we were set.
After a while, I found The Freon Neonate was getting bored. It would lie on its side in its cage for hours making terrible howling noises and horrifying the neighbors. I decided that I would try to teach it English. Its language abilities aren’t bad for a wolverine. It had learned enough to communicate on a basic level by the beginning of August, but we had both got sick of the didactic nature of the lessons pretty quickly. We needed a new challenge.
That’s when I decided to give it a chance to do album reviews for Tyranny of Tradition. I called up Nuclear Blast’s PR department to see if I could get one promotional copy of the new Carcass album for The Freon Neonate to review. They immediately sent me 127 copies of the CD along with a wolverine sized “Surgical Steel” tee shirt. I threw the CD in immediately. Here is how the creature responded to each of the songs.
1985-The Freon Neonate was staring off into space when the album came on, but immediately began to pace back and forth nervously. Halfway through the track it started howling in a perverted attempt to mock Bill Steer’s guitar tone.
Thrasher’s Abattoir-The quick beginning to the song startled the animal. It began thrashing its body against the bars wailing louder and louder.
Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System-The wailing continued reaching its crescendo halfway through this tune. Then, the animal began to say “Gooooooood. Goooooood. BLERGHYPHERB!!!! GOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!”
A Congealed Clot of Blood-It didn’t seem to like this one as much. For the first minute, it bobbed its head, but it lost interest and began to lick its own feet.
The Master Butcher’s Apron-Something in this song made the wolverine unhappy. “EHHHHHHHH…..NO SONG GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD…..GLERPHICKLUHR!!!!!!” With 2:30 left, it gnawed through the bars and began a rampage through the house, breaking furniture and dishes.
Noncompliance to ASTM F899-12 Standard-I spent most of this song chasing the animal around and was unable to take notes. Great tune, but beyond smashing a vase that belonged to my Aunt Penelope, I can’t tell you much about the animal’s reaction.
The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills-Satiated in its desire to destroy things and chewing on the fingers of some kid with an MGMT that I found down at the local mission, the animal was finally able to relax and enjoy the magnificence of this utterly amazing song. We both agreed on this as the best song on the album.
Unfit For Human Consumption, 316 L Grade Surgical Steel, Captive Bolt Piston-I was, again, unable to record any response as the animal had nodded off while enjoying the sedating effect of eating hipster fingers. It seemed happy enough, but I don’t want to speculate as to the animal’s views on the songs based on its snoring.
Mount of Execution-It came out of its comatose state during the acoustic guitar intro and began to howl:
Without knowing the animal’s opinion on the last few Megadeth albums, I was unable to figure out whether this was an endorsement or a criticism.
I’m sitting on the side of the road on a stormy October morning. The clock reads 3:52. My car is bathed in a flood of ominous blue police lights from the car behind me. My speakers are pinned on 50 blaring “Holiday in Dystopia”, the new record from Lion Splicer. Suddenly, a loud knock on the window….
Officer: License and registration.
Me: I was listen to the new Lion Splicer record, Officer. It’s quite good. They shown some genuine progress from their earlier stuff and I already thought that was pretty excellent. They’re really thrashy with a punk rock edge. They remind me a lot of the stuff that used to be on K Records years back like Karp and Fitz of Depression…..
Officer: License….and registration.
Me: I don’t know what you think of the whole crossover scene, but I really dig it. Lion Splicer has moments where they remind me of D.R.I. or, if you are a bit younger, Municipal Waste. It’s never been my favorite scene, but when it’s done well, it’s a lot of fun to listen to. Great party music. The song they have on this record called “The Whip” really gets into the spirit of….
Officer: Listen Son. I just need your license and registration.
Me: I understand that. One of the things that really grabs me about “Holiday in Dystopia” is the band’s willingness to mix in genres you wouldn’t expect. I know a lot of bands today do that, but they really have a knack for how to make it work. The solo on the first song “Jezebel” sounds like something off of a Dick Dale and The Deltones record. Pure surf. I was blown away when I…..
Officer: Okay Son, I’ve had about enough of this talk about this Lion Slicer band….
Me: Lion Splicer. I’ve been assured by the band that they mean no harm towards animals. Particularly lions. They love lions and mean to use their music to….
Officer: Whatever. Listen, I’m not interested in whatever this is you are trying to talk to me about. You were doing 79 in a 35. That’s the issue, Son.
Me: No, no, I understand. I just think that if you went to the bands Bandcamp site and check them out, you wouldn’t be so concerned about minor details.
Officer: Minor det….Son, you were going 43 miles over the speed limit…
Me: 44 actually….
Officer: YES! EXACTLY. So let’s stop with all the talk about this Tiger Beat band….
Me: Lion Splicer.
Officer: Stop interrupting me!
Me: Sorry, I just think that the bands ability to blend bizarre, dissonant noise with catchy rhythms is unique and borders on sheer brilliance. If that’s a crime, ARREST ME! Put the cuffs on me and take me away!
A wise man once told me not to pay for what you can get for free. He’s currently doing a stretch of 2 to 5 years at Rikers Island for passing bad checks, but his point was well taken. After my ticket for Saturday night’s Ghost, Opeth, Mastodon show at The Masquearde in balmy Atlanta, Georgia fell through, I was faced with two possible futures. One involved me jumping in my car, heading over to The Varsity and drowing my sorrows in 12 pimento cheese sandwiches and the other involved me standing out in the parking lot and craning my neck around some light poles to get a glimpse of Ghost, the current greatest band in the history of the universe. The choice was obvious.
By the time I got to a spot that allowed me to view 1/12th of the stage, they had already launched into a rip-roaring version of their Mercyful Fate tinged masterpiece “Elizabeth”. Apparently, I was not the only person leery of actually paying to see a concert. There were two 15-year-olds staring over the fence with expressions of cold, awe-struck horror. One of them had his “throwback” Bullet For My Valentine “Scream, Aim, Fire” shirt on and the other one looked like he was dressed for the eventual random onset of a golf match. They clearly were in the wrong place:
Metal Kid #1: Why is the singer of Mastodon wearing a Pope hat?
Metal Kid #2: I don’t think that’s Mastodon. That’s probably Opeth.
Me: No….that’s Ghost. Ever heard of them?
Both Kids at Once: No????
Me: They are completely crazy. Keep watching. You’ll see some terrible things.
Metal Kid #2: What do you mean?
Me: Well, first of all, you know where he got that hat from?
Metal Kid #1”: No.
Me: He stole it from the real Pope.
Metal Kid #1: No….No way! Is that true?!?!
Me: Oh yeah. These guys are pure evil. The drummer punched the Pope one time at an IKEA in Munich and the singer took the hat and ran. They mugged the Pope for Godsakes! They were supposed to play America a year ago but they were banned from the United States.
Metal Kid #2: Whoa! What for?
Me: They are into trafficking and selling animal organs. The singer got caught trying to sneak 150 sheep livers into his suitcase when they went through customs. It was a big international incident. That and the whole thing with the walrus got them into a bunch of trouble….
Metal Kid #1: (horrified) Walrus??? What happened with the walrus???
Me: Jesus, doesn’t anyone read the newspaper anymore!!!! They did a concert in Poland and at the end of the show they brought a walrus on stage and beat it to death with hammers. They cut it up and gave pieces to everyone in the audience. It was unbelievable. They put birthday candles in each of the pieces! People ate it completely raw and something like 46 people died of food poisoning. Horrible! That’s what got them on the FBI’s 12 Most Wanted List.
Metal Kid #2: Oh my god! Wow! These guys are awesome!
Metal Kid #1: Do you think they’ll kill a walrus tonight?
Me: God no! They found religion and recently became Jehovah’s Witnesses. They swore off all of that praising Satan and slaughtering animal stuff and now they go door to door preaching The Word. The guitarist, the one dressed like a Jawa from Star Wars, he sold me a copy of Watchtower magazine last month.
Metal Kid #1: Whoa!!!! That’s amazing!
I quickly tired of filling the minds of these kids with insidious poison and began to focus my attention onto the mellifluous tones of Ghost. The solo from Ritual was casacading to its nearly perfect peak when I became aware of a terrible presence only inches from my right arm. As the song ended, I turned and came face to face with The Hipster With the Glass Eye.
The fella was probably six foot three and 98 pounds soaking wet. Imagine your average beardo coffee shop barista decked out in his best Piggly Wiggly tee-shirt and you’ve basically got a mental image of the dude I was looking at. Except this person had a glass eye. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Did he have some terrible accident Vespa racing? Was this some kind of sadistic, post-ironic fashion statement? Did he pull the original eye out in frustration when he couldn’t find a copy of the new Band of Horses album? Do they sell glass eyes at Urban Outfitters now? This rare specimen of humanity had my interest for a full two minutes worth of conversation. Then, things got ugly.
Me: Nobody knows who Ghost is. They’ve only done two interviews. Both of them were in caves. The interviewers were blindfolded and driven hours away to a secure location. They did the interviews wearing hoods!
Hipster With The Glass Eye: So, no one knows who they are?
Me: No one!
Hipster With The Glass Eye: (excitedly) Wow, so they are kinda like Banksy??? That’s awesome!
I looked away and shook my head in horror. An uncomfortable, awkward silence fell over us both. He stood there waiting for a response that would never come. I decided that the night was officially over. I walked to my car filled with hopelessness and despair. At least the band was good.