Archive for category Pointless Music Reviews

A Sadomasochistic Review of Sigh “In Somniphobia”

All that is left in my world is Sigh’s new album “In Somniphobia”.  I love it.  I can’t stop playing it.  Over and over and over and over again.  I love it so much I want to rip off my shirt and paint the letters S-I-G-H across my chest and run around the local Walgreens screaming at the top of my lungs. I want to beat myself over the head repeatedly with a claw hammer until I do such severe damage to my hippocampus that I forget I’ve heard the album just so I can have the pleasure of experiencing it again for the first time.  I long to leap off of a bell tower screaming the lyrics at the horrified spectators.  I dream of ripping each of my teeth out and sending it to members of the band to thank them for all the joy they have brought to me.

My love for it transcends all possible love I could experience.  I want to go to a beautiful meadow, set out a picnic blanket and caress the album telling it all the things I know in my heart and have been afraid to say.  I want to run through a field with it in my arms, laughing girlishly, dancing to the wonderful sounds of the wind whipping through the grass.  I want to whisper lovingly into the albums ear, telling it my deepest secrets and most personal desires.  Surrender unconditionally to its alluring charms.  Bathe it in pure, unadulterated affection.

I feel jealous that others will have the chance to hear this album.  When I think of others listening to this album I am filled with rage.  I will kill them.  I will grind their bones into dust.  It is my album.  Mine!  Their love is cheap and tawdry while mine is filled with the sincerity and innocence of a child.  They cannot feel what I feel for this album.  They are mere mortals while I have been imbued with the gift of second sight by the god Amen-Ra.  They live shallow, meaningless lives.  Their love will flicker and fade the minute something else comes along.  My attraction will never fade, no matter what happens.  If nuclear bombs reign down on the city of Atlanta and all around me is melted and disintegrated, the only thing left will be my boney, skeletal fingers embracing the album, stroking its brow.

Don’t listen to the album.  You and the mortals around you don’t deserve it. I’ll know if you are listening to it because I’m in front of your house right now.  Watching you.  I was at the supermarket yesterday when you bought two bags of pork rinds for 2 dollars and 28 cents. I saw you stop at the gas station and get approximately 8 gallons of gas.  I know that you stopped in Hot Topic at 3:45 just to look around.  You didn’t buy anything.  I am watching you all the time.  Even as you sleep.  If you dare to listen to this album, I will tie you to a chair and feed you hundreds of pounds cheese dip until either your stomach bursts or your entire body explodes.

I’d give it a 2,389,124 out of 10.  I am currently in the process of undergoing a medical procedure to add an additional thumb so I can give it 3 thumbs up.   There will never be anything better.  Music as we know it is over.  People should not even bother to try to create anything else.  This is the pinnacle, the zenith, the apogee, the climax of all civilization.  It is the Hanging Gardens, the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.  There is no future, there is no past, there is only Sigh’ “In Somniphobia”.

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Souls in The Heads of Corpses: A Psychological Review of Allegaeon’s “Fragments of Form and Function”

Few people realize that the recent Allegaeon album “Fragments of Form and Function” is a doorway to a separate dimension.  Even if it hadn’t turned my body into a giant alpha wave and projected me into the substratum of the upper atmosphere, I’d have thought it was an entirely captivating record.  At first, my ears began to shoot orange beams from them.  My children noticed this and were immediately frightened.  Eventually, they got used to it and my daughter continued talking to my toes and trying to feed them milk.  As the solo from the song The God Particle came through my cheap 9-dollar Sony headphones, I became a bundle of pure light energy and bounced from wall to wall.  I had the right headphone in my left ear and vice versa, which caused my body to carom with on a strange, knuckleball like trajectory.   And then…..a universe without dimension……

Freud once posited that original sin was actually a strange response to witnessing a patricide.  After all, the divine sacrifice wouldn’t be called for unless it was in response to a murder.  A universe that avenges theft with murder or lust with murder or greed with murder would be the most unjust possible universe.  But why would this idea bother us so much?  Maybe it is the idea that what creates life also “owes its death to the universe” that fills us with such dread and wills us to punish ourselves over and over.  When you are hurdling through the universe at light speed, it all seems irrelevant.  The human conception of justice cannot be understood at this speed.  All actions happen simultaneously.  From above, it’s all the same.

As the stirring stillness of the post-script guitar solo in “Biomech –Vals No. 666” began to well up in my consciousness I became vaguely aware of the illuminated bits of human spiritual form in these bodies of light that surrounded me.   Then, the whole ride came to a screeching halt.  I realized that I was, in fact, deliriously spinning into some weird new age fantasy that had no baring on anything and would be useless to anyone unfortunate enough to read it.  People don’t devolve into sweetness and light, they lumber along in these fleshy tombs for what qualifies as eternity (or about 76.8 years, depending on where you live).  We are not spiritual beings on some wondrous journey.  We are getting deader by the hour.  There is nothing poetic about a corpse that isn’t aware enough of itself to begin rotting.  Trapped in this dying form and making up stories about interconnection and light and love and beauty and meaning.  Charming.

“WHO ARE YOU TO DESIGN THE LIFE WE LIVE?!?!?!?!!?!!”

A Cosmic Question.  Don’t bother.  Don’t bother with any of it.  “What defines reality?  What defines a soul?”  That’s your problem, pal.  I’m just decay with a bit of personality.  Apatheism is the only answer that allows my monstrous form any solace.  Yet…I want to know as well.  Do I suffer because I want to know or do I suffer because I cannot dream?  Descartes went around trying to find souls in the heads of dissected corpses.  (Come out with your hands in the air!!!!!!! Put the soul on the ground next to you and don’t make any quick moves!!!!!  Up against the wall, Descartes!!!!!)  I’d take it over pretending knowledge I do not have or seeking knowledge I cannot gain.  I prefer the ever-quickening pace of the double bass in “From Seed To Throne” to any rational explanation of what I am or to anything else this moment can offer.  There is that much for now.

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Review As Revelation: A Call To Arms

“children guessed (but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew)”

-ee cummings

The music review has been pronounced dead in many quarters.  Some say it has lost its relevance, some argue it no longer has a story worth telling.  I think there is some truth to this idea.  There is a formula for a standard review and it is tried and true.  A few strong metaphors, a band comparison or two, a reference to earlier work and the albums place within its genre and you’ve got a review. This is not to demean much of the writing that is out there.  There are some truly exceptional writers who can take the standard form and make it deeply engaging, but there are a lot of reviews out there that simply don’t make an impact on me.  I don’t believe that this is the fault of the writers but rather the fact that the medium they are using has confined its creator to the narrow world of observing and reporting.  I think it is fair to say the music review as pure informational medium is probably on its last legs.  While I believe that its role as informer of music fans is ending, I believe that it is in the process of going in a bold, exciting new direction that can make it relevant again and even an art form of its own.

Audiences no longer want to be informed, they want to be involved.  They are not just looking for information about a band; they are looking for a deeper understanding of what it is like to experience the music.  Audiences want to connect to the music, not just read about it. The dramatic shift that I believe is taking place is moving the review away from being about the artist and towards about the experience the artist has created.

The star of the review is no longer the band, but the audience as voiced by the writer.  The goal of the writer used to be to melt into the background and let the band be heard.  Objectivity was a characteristic to be aspired towards.  The idea of the writer as passive communicator no longer has a major place in the all-at-once culture of engagement that we live in.   More and more, the writing I see is coming to reflect this truth.  The writer, no matter how much he or she tries, is a subjective creature.  This is not a liability.  The experience had by the audience is, in my opinion, the single most interesting thing about music today.

Director Jean Luc-Goddard supposedly once said the only way to review a movie is to make a movie.  To me, this is a near perfect description of that the type of writing that will move the review to its next level.  The review itself is an act of creation.  A review can exist nearly independent of the original material.  It can be a story unto itself that uses its source material as a beginning step into a labyrinth of unbridled creativity.  A review can mark a unique moment in time, the moment when the artist meets the audience.  Inspiration transfers from musician to writer and a new world is created.  This world would not exist without the musician but it has transcended the original idea and morphed into something beyond its original intent.  When the writer simply describes, it short-changes the audience of the revelatory power of the music.  What has the music awakened within you?  What did you see?  What did you find?  What did it genuinely make you feel?  Instead of a medium that narrows the experience, a review can be something that becomes more than what was originally intended expanding exponentially through each person it comes into contact with.

In order to achieve this the writer must shun the formula and go beyond.  The review need not be constricted by anything, even words.  It can be photography, painting, sculpture, and maybe even more music.  It must be an original statement of experience.  A confession.  That is its only qualification.  It may present itself in a form that may be at times incoherent, but sometimes visions are not easily explained or understood.

The label often placed upon this type of creation is self-indulgent.  There is an unwritten rule that good writing must purge the self as much as possible and fit neatly the pantheon of writing that came before it.  What that really means is that in order to truly create we must forget who we are.  This is insane.  The unedited self, allowed breaking free of the artificial covenants that chain it to the floor, is capable of bringing a new vitality to a stilted form of expression.  Imagine six billion selves illuminated, simultaneously witnessed and witnessing, all expressing unique shades of humanity and learning in fullness what it is like to human from every possible angle.  This is what music reviewing can be.

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Borne Back Ceaselessly Into The Past: A Psychological Review Of Gentlemans Pistols “At Her Majesty’s Pleasure”

I wish I could go back to 1972, listen to Gentlemans Pistols new record “At Her Majesties Pleasure” in the era it was meant to be recorded and stab Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman in the skull with an ice pick.  Okay, maybe not the last part.  Haldeman wasn’t such a bad guy.  He rocked that weird flat top hairdo that became the style in mid-90s rap music and became the best chemist Lompoc Federal Prison ever saw.  He would have dug the new Gentlemans Pistols record for it’s pure grit and bile-ridden effluence.  He was as malevolent a man as ever walked the earth. Supposedly, he tried to have Jim Nabors killed because he wouldn’t play Julie Nixon’s wedding.  I heard that once from a guy in a sauna in Davenport, Iowa.

Gentlemans Pistols is a collection of outstanding British musicians including Mr. William Steer, who gave my life meaning by writing riffs for Carcass that would have made Ed Gein recite Walt Whitman poems to a crowd of smiling 3rd graders.  Steer hasn’t lost a step.  The riffs that he and James Atkinson put on this album are pure roll around-in-the-gutter filth.   They buckle your knees like a 3-2 curveball and do not ask for your permission to continue.

Backwards in time to another place.  Transported to all that was seedy and repugnantly gorgeous about 70’s bar room rock’n’roll.  You are in a pool hall swilling cheap, half-flat beer being stared down by two menacing looking Hell’s Angels.  Not the modern Sons of Anarchy watching yuppies who go cycling between trading soybean futures, but the old school Sonny Barger led head-mangling, spleen eater types.  “Midnight Crawler” bellows in the background and you are completely there.  Everything is in its place.

At some point the whole retrofitted 1970s rock thing is going to get old.  The formula is, in fact, criminally simple.  However, put in the hands of poets like these a 3-minute-song can feel like a shimmering vacation into the dark heart of all that is ugly and cruel.  Something in their tone screams for your undying allegiance.  You would crawl through glass just to hear “Into The Haze” once more.  They are on the mainline, hooked into the Universal Generator and driving ceaselessly into the storm.   This is the purpose for which rock’n’roll was intended.  Not to be background music in the local Target or to be recited soullessly by an army of never-ending American Idol contestants, but to remind us of what visceral chaos lives just below the surface of our pristine, orderly world.

Bob Haldeman Would Have Understood

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Metamorphosis on Main Street: A Psychological Review of Graveyard’s “Hisingen Blues”

I started off trying to review Graveyard’s new album Hisingen Blues.  Things were going really well.  I had a neat little intro where I talked about their 70’s retro sound and compared them to a few bands.  There was a cool section where I discussed the driving intensity of their sound and compared them to a freight train.  It was going really well.  All that is gone now.  All that is left is chaos, despair and panic.  I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot of a Burger King fast food.  It’s 4:47 in the morning.  How did I get here?

I was writing the review at the kitchen table.  My wife and kids were playing in the other room.  In the distance, I heard the vaguely menacing sounds of Dora The Explorer.  My ears were much more attuned to magniloquent sounds of the song Hisingen Blues by Graveyard.  I’d listened to the album a few times, but kept coming back to the title track.  “WHERE IS THE FUTURE?!?!?!?!”

I was grooving to the song.  I closed my eyes.  The next thing I knew my wife was screaming.  “WHAT ARE YOU!?!!?!??!?!?  GET OUT OF HERE!!?!?!?!”

I tried to say “Honey, it’s just me.  Why are you screaming?”  But it came out “Kjqgjgnqrwlkgnjwqrngljnwrjlgnlg?”.  I sounded like the creature in the Predator movies when it tried to talk.  What was happening?

My wife picked up a broom and started hitting me.  “Stop it!” (“Njndgjlqwrnlgkn!”) The sounds that came out of me only made her more frightened.  I ran upstairs.  Suddenly, I started thinking about our cat.  I have to eat the cat.  I have to eat the cat.  I sprinted around the bedroom looking for the cat.  I thought of how good the cat would taste.  I have to eat the cat.  “WHERE IS THE FUTURE!?” echoed in my minds ear.  I need to eat the cat.  It would be so delicious.  I have to eat the cat. I looked under the bed, I looked in the shower.  I looked in the closet on my wife’s red sweater where it likes to sleep. All at once it occurred to me that we don’t have a cat.

I looked into the mirror.  What looked back at me was horrifying.  Green neck, green skin, pointy nose, scales.  I was…..a lizard!!!!!!!  Dear God….A LIZARD!!!!!!  I ran downstairs to try to explain it to my wife.  She had both of the kids in her arms and she was screaming into her cell phone.  “SDGASFHAFSHERJJET!” I pleaded.

“Get away you…..BEAST!  What have you done with my husband????”

My children’s eyes were filled with confusion.  I was not daddy anymore.  I was some “thing” that they could not possibly understand.  Some “thing” they conjured up in a nightmare, but not daddy.  “WHERE IS THE FUTURE!?!!?!!” My wife’s eyes gleamed with hate and fear.  I was a stranger to them.

I grabbed my keys and ran out of the front door towards my car.  Our neighbor was blissfully jogging up the street with her headphones on.  At first, she did not notice me.  All at once her face grew pale.  She turned and sprinted away from me.  I leaped in my car.  Could I even drive?  Could I get the key in the ignition?  My lizard fingers clumsily pushed the key in and I was off to somewhere.  But where?

Most of the last nine hours has been about staying alive.  I have cat scratch marks all over me that I cannot explain.  I feel the empty exhaustion of a sleepless night.  I don’t remember much of what has happened, but I am here.  Soon, the sun will rise.  I have to stay safe.  There is no room for my kind on the street.  Not among the animals.  Not in the daylight.

And what of my condition?  How did I end up here? Something in the song brought me to this place.  I have become the poetry of doom and horror.  Something in the song turned me into this creature.  Something inside of me, both wretched and righteous, has escaped and become my form.  “WHERE IS THE FUTURE?!?!?!”  I am no longer what you would call human.  I wear alienation as my skin.  As the moments recede backwards into the night my fate stands before me.  I am lost.

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The Most Amazing Thing That Has Ever Happened To Me….THANK YOU SARAH PALIN!!!!

 

A Real Iron Maiden!!!

Some of you may have heard the big news today, but if you haven’t, I will tell you that today is easily the biggest day in the history of The Tyranny of Tradition blog.  I have spent most of the last 24 hours dealing with calls from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and even the 700 Club.  In order to understand what is about to happen I need to give you some back-story. About 3 months ago, a good friend of mine told me that he remembered at an early Sarah Palin speech during the 2008 campaign she came out to speak to the opening riff from Godzilla by the Blue Oyster Cult.  I assumed he was kidding, but he was pretty insistent about it so I decided to look it up.  Sure enough, I found the footage along with an interview with her talking about music and she mentioned listening to the Blue Oyster Cult when she was in high school.  Being a die-hard Blue Oyster Cult fan, this utterly blew my mind.  I wanted to find out if she was still a fan so I emailed her people again and again but never got a response.  I figured that she had just blown it off as a series of bizarre emails and forgot about the whole thing.  Then, about a week ago…I got an email FROM HER.  I was astonished.  She wrote me this lengthy letter thanking me for writing to her telling me all about her love for the Blue Oyster Cult.  This was too much for me.  I nearly had a heart attack.  I decided to push things a step further and sent her a request to write a short piece for my blog.  I had been listening nonstop to a record by a band called Ghost.  The album, “Opus Eponymous”, is absolutely fantastic.  On a whim, I decided to ask her to listen to it and write a review.  Again, I was certain that I would never in a million years get a reply, but as I opened my inbox this morning I found the following email…

Keith,

Thanks for offering me a chance to write a review for your blog.  I have been quite busy recently but I took a few moments to put something together for you.  Hope you like it.

Yours truly,

Sarah

A Review of Ghost “Opus Eponymous”

By Sarah Palin

Over the last few years, many of you have gotten to know me as Sarah the candidate, or Sarah the Governor, or Sarah the Mother, but I want to take this opportunity to show you another side of me.  Today, I want to introduce you to Sarah the Metalhead.  A lot of people think of me as some kind of stuffed shirt who doesn’t know how to rock out.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Todd and I are both huge fans of heavy metal.  On one of our first dates, Todd took me to the nicest restaurant in Wasilla, a wonderful little Mexican place called El Taco that is owned by our close family friend Jerry O’Malley.  To impress me, he hired the mariachi band to play the Blue Oyster Cult song “Astronomy”.  At that moment, I knew I was in love.   Of all metal and hard rock bands, I have always had a special place in my heart for the Blue Oyster Cult.  I love them so much that I even tried to get Bristol and Piper’s Jazzercise instructor to use “Burnin’ For You” as part of their warm-up activities.  When we were working on Sarah Palin’s America for TLC, we tried to film a sequence where we shot a moose with a rocket launcher from a moving chopper.  To get ready to use this fine piece of military machinery, I listened to the Blue Oyster Cult’s song “Vengeance:  The Pact”.  Unfortunately, I missed the moose and the segment had to be cut, but that song really got me ready to go.

I recently picked up a copy of a CD by a band named Ghost called “Opus Eponymous” that reminded me a lot of what’s great about the Blue Oyster Cult.  The album is filled with great solos, sweeping choruses and driving riffs.  When I first heard the song, “Ritual” I knew I was going to enjoy their sound.  There are definitely other influences on this album as well.  I noticed a lot of moments that reminded me of some of the work done by the great King Diamond on the early records by Mercyful Fate, particularly the song “Elizabeth”.

At first, I really loved the album but then I found out some things about Ghost that troubled me greatly.  First of all, they make reference to Satan on several occasions on this album.  There are also a lot of violent lyrics.  As you know, I am strongly against young people listening to violent music.  This is not the sort of thing that impressionable children should be listening to.  The thing that disturbed even more was the fact that Ghost is Swedish.  They seemed to speak English very well so I, of course, assumed that they were American.  It makes you think that a Swede could pretend to be an American an easily get away with it.  A slick talking Swedish terrorist could easily get past one of those TSA government workers and bring weapons of mass destruction into our country.  I don’t want to paint all Swedes with the same brush.  There are probably some good Swedes out there, but it is a fact that the government of Sweden is socialist.  Ghost may not be a socialist band.  They may have fled Sweden to escape their brutal and oppressive government, but they have grown up living the socialist life and these things can change a person.  They probably would come here expecting some sort of government hand out if they didn’t sell enough records.  We have to at least consider the possibility that their music is meant as a Trojan horse to lead our young people to violence, Satanism and the belief that the government is going to solve all of their problems.

I would advise you to not buy this album in spite of the excellent quality of the music.  There are plenty of good old fashion, red-blooded American metal bands that are struggling to sell records.  Why give good hard earned, American money to a group of people who are just going to give it away to people who don’t share our values?

Read Sarah Palin’s response to the “Oystergate” controversy caused by this article.

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