Posts Tagged Metal Blade Records
Listening to the new Horisont record “Second Assault” is an adventure in time travel. You don’t simply listen to the record, you hurdle backwards towards it. I am in a darkened, smoke-filled bar. Twenty or so spectators in different states of inebriation hoot and howl arhythmically as the band spews molten rock’n’roll. Half the crowd looks like Popeye Doyle, the other half look like Tuesday Weld. A poorly dressed, ratty haired bunch of skinny kids reach into their chests and pull out their guts in the quixotic attempt to find a higher plane if even for a moment. Their suffering is ours.
It’s an imperfect fantasy, mostly because of the smoke. That itchy, uncomfortable feeling of unfamiliar scum clouding your vision. Not knowing whether to choke or sneeze. Somehow it doesn’t matter and it does. Rock’n’roll itself comes with a bit of discomfort. Loving it is a masochistic pursuit. Horisont gets that in spades. They explode everywhere, like a wayward roman candle knocked on its side. They are dangerous, blistering and blood-fanged; they are the sweat in your eyes and the exhaustion of endless impossibility.
The 70’s reek of old carpet and cheap cologne. The food isn’t nearly as good, the beer is almost always flat and no one seems to have air conditioning. The world was a dark and foreboding place. Nearly every worthwhile movie of the era ended with the protagonist getting his or her head blown off and the great forces of evil crushing the spirit of the individual. Hope seemed ridiculous. As they marched to the hangman, they wore a gallows cool on their sleeve that those living in the airbrushed, cleaner than clean, hyper polished new frontier no nothing of. Horisont belongs there and not here. When I hit play, I am there with them.
Occasionally, I hear a record where song titles don’t matter to me. I don’t want to know what the tune is about, where it was recorded or who produced it. I could care less about the album art and knowing the town where the band started playing is simply an annoyance. I just want to hear the music. Again and again. When the album completes its long-winding journey to nowhere, I can think of nothing but finding the button that will make it start all over again. For me, Horisont “Second Assault” is that type of album.
The first thing you need to know about seeing a metal show in the American South, Atlanta in particular, is that almost every person in the audience is going to look nearly identical. It’s beyond bizarre. Standing there in the middle of the ballroom floor at The Masquerade, my wife and I could have easily been at a casting call for actors looking to play Slayer’s Kerry King in a movie. Short, squat, bald with scruffy beards, tattoos and black shirts. How do the police ever tell them apart?
The evening started promisingly enough. My wife and I were accosted by some inebriated, bearded lunatic in a panel van who slowed up to tell us his motor was dying, then drove off when he noticed the can of mace my wife was clutching tightly in her right hand. The van, which had an ominous Mothers For Palin sticker emblazoned on the back, had clearly been used in some sort of white slavery ring that we collectively wanted no part of. But these things happen from time to time.
We were there to see In Solitude, but most of the throngs of concertgoers were there to see Down. We had no such plans. We are two middle-aged adults who have learned to value a good night’s sleep over the wild excesses of staying out past 10 to see a band. The original plan had us dipping out by 9 o’clock after the In Solitude set so that we could collapse into an orgy of Chinese food and Friday night re-runs. Unfortunately, The Masquerade pulled the old bait and switch on us and put some highly talented but unfortunately named band called “Pony Killer” on before In Solitude. My wife and I retreated to the benches outside where I was given a Nobel worthy dissertation on the entire life history Jeff Loomis, formerly of the band Nevermore, by some complete stranger with a broken leg wearing a shirt featuring Jesus smoking a cigarette.
As we walked into the club, I noticed Crowbar singer and Charles Addams cartoon character Kirk Windstein standing about 15 feet away from me. I have always loved Crowbar and I thought strongly about getting a picture with him, but I had some concerns. I had met Windstedt once before in Albany, New York when they were opening for Sacred Reich in the mid-90s. Our brief meeting took place as we stood next to each other at a urinal before their band went on. I excitedly stammered, “YOU’RE The GUY from CROWBAR!!!!!” Windstein silently looked straight ahead at the wall and tried to escape my glowing gaze. When I reached my hand out to try to pat him on the back, he sprinted out of the restroom with a terrified look on his face. It was a highly awkward moment that I had repeated over and over in my mind for the last 15 years. Out of sheer concern he might have remembered my poorly timed outburst, I put my head down and kept walking.
I was horribly bored standing in the audience before the set. The thing you forget about shows when you are not there is the pure tedium between bands. Standing on your left foot, then your right, smelling the guy next to you who hasn’t washed his Watain shirt in about five concerts, watching the one lonely guy in the Incantation shirt pace and talk to himself, randomly thinking about how your 401K performed last week. You get a brief rush when the guitar tech comes out to check the levels, then, nothing. Ten more minutes of overhearing conversations about what the real meaning of Black Metal is. Sheer mind-numbing misery.
All of a sudden, I felt my head snap backwards. In a wild rush of incense and power, In Solitude appeared on stage and launched into a violently surging version of “The World, The Flesh, The Devil”. Adrenaline shot through my veins. My pulse went from a calm, resting 60 to an unrestrained, thumping 180 in a fleeting span of seconds. I felt like a had been sleeping in the middle of a highway and raised my head up only to see an 18 wheel tractor trailer bearing down on me. IT had begun.
The way they started out was pure magic. The first thing you notice about In Solitude is presence. Some bands act like they plan to spend the entire show apologizing to you for being up there. Other bands act like they completely and unquestionably belong where they are. They command your attention and hold it unreservedly for the duration of their set. In Solitude falls squarely into the latter camp. They are there for a reason and you WILL understand that reason before they are finished. The stage was simply too small for them. They were hooked uncompromisingly into the Master Cylinder, bringing a message that transcended all other thoughts and ideas that had existed in me up till the moment of their arrival. They demanded complete and total connection and, with their every action, settled for nothing less.
Their set covered most of the critical material from their two albums. The crowd, which was clearly more inclined to listen to slow, lurching southern metal riffs, was won over by the third song. Wild-eyed singer Pelle “Hornper” Ahman managed to work the crowd into a bloodthirsty frenzy through a series of high-pitched shrieks and animalistic antics that ran the gamut from spasmodically shaking his thin frame to ramming the microphone into his head. The only thing I could possibly compare his energy level to are the few live recordings I’ve seen of Paul Di’Anno fronting Iron Maiden at The Ruskin Arms around the time Killers was out. Ahman simply hemorrhages sweat and intensity to the point where you are concerned for his well-being. By the time Down front man and metal legend Phil Anselmo strode out on stage in a Ghost shirt to bellow a few bars of “To Her Darkness” with the band, their was no doubt that this was an act on the precipice of greatness.
There is simply something unique and memorable about In Solitude. They are cut out for greater things. Even my wife, who finds the B-52s to be a bit on the heavy side, seemed deeply impressed with how they carried it. We witnessed something arrestingly powerful last night at The Masquerade and everyone there knew it. The performance seemed to be part of an elaborate first act in a career that will have a lot to say about the direction metal music is going in.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, General Weirdness on June 5, 2011
The new In Solitude album “The World. The Flesh. The Devil.” is simply remarkable. Since I first heard it, I have been on nearly a non-stop In Solitude binge. I’ve listened to it from beginning to end somewhere in the neighborhood of five times a day. Whether I’m vacuuming, making dinner, or putting all of my issues of Boys’ Life magazine in alphabetical order, the album has been my constant companion. I had a plan to review it, but I feel like I have lost all degree of journalistic objectivity. The only way to truly get a fair assessment of this album is to turn it over to a stranger and see what they think.
This was not a simple task. I live in the American South and, for the most part, strangers are to be feared. I spent all day Thursday walking around the North Dekalb Mall in Atlanta asking people to sit with me for an hour listen to the record and answer some questions but was refused over and over again. I even had a woman threaten to get her husband and have him “give me a beating”. Six hours of rejection and nothing to show for it. I needed a new plan.
Friday, I went to the park near the local Senior Center. I immediately descended on a seemingly good natured woman sitting on a park bench who looked like she needed company and, more importantly, seemed like she’d have difficulty getting away quickly. I spent 10 minutes talking to her about her life and her allergy to penicillin. Her name was Ida Mae Thrasher. It was too perfect! This had to be the one! I made the offer, but this time I had figured out how to seal the deal. I offered her a 50-dollar gift card to the local Rite Aid. All she had to do was listen to the album and answer my questions. She tentatively agreed to do it and I quickly slapped a pair of headphones on her.
Our conversation after listening to the album went like this:
Keith: Well…what did you think?
Ida Mae: It was…..ummmmmmmm…..it was good.
Keith: Good??? Okay. Can you be more specific?
Ida Mae: It was very good.
Keith: Ida, can you please give me something with a little more detail? I’m trying to write an article here.
Ida Mae: Well, I liked the first song.
Keith: If you want the gift card, you are going to have to give me something more to work with.
Ida Mae: Well, it was kind of….well….loud.
Keith: Do you mean the volume? I could have turned it down.
Ida Mae: No, it was just….you know….loud.
Keith: (sounding somewhat offended) Listen Ida, loud is a term that applies to volume. Loud is not a valid description. It tells me nothing. Tell me something about the amazing guitar solos, tell me something about the raw production style, tell me that you like the interplay between the drummer and bassist, tell me you appreciate that they have taken early 80s sounding British metal and put a fresh and unique spin on it. What the heck does “it was loud” tell me!?!?!?!
Ida Mae: (appearing nervous)It was fine.
Ida Mae: Yes.
Keith: WHICH IS IT?!?!?
Ida Mae: Both.
Keith: You are avoiding the question! I’m seriously starting to question your commitment to heavy metal!!!!!
Ida Mae: You said I’d get a gift card if I listened to the album and answered your questions. Well, I did both. Please give me my Rite Aid gift card and just leave me alone.
Keith: There is no gift card! Not for you. Not with answers like that. You just totally wasted my time.
Ida Mae: HELP!!! Someone get this maniac away from me!!!!!!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!
I had a lot of time to reflect on things while I was waiting for my wife to arrange bail. This experience taught me a lot. Some people just aren’t in a position to appreciate great music. I’m just going to have to live with the fact that the Ida Maes of the world will have to live their lives shrouded in a veil of musical ignorance. That doesn’t mean you have to. Buy as many copies as you can of “The World, The Flesh, The Devil”. Quit your job and do nothing but listen to it. Make your kids memorize the lyrics and if they don’t, refuse to let them watch television and send them to their rooms without dinner. It is really that good.
Check out Serpents Are Rising from “The World. The Flesh. The Devil.” here. The song is 160 percent amazing!
Atlanta, Divination, Gift card, heavy metal, heavy metal music, In Solitude, Metal Blade Records, North Dekalb Mall, Online Oracles, Rite Aid, The Devil, The Flesh, The World, The World. The Flesh. The Devil.
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