A few weeks back, we did an interview with the 2011 Purest Man In Metal Award winner BlaK Dan Krutzmeyer (or xxxxZyr as his friends call him). What I did not reveal in the initial article was that BlaK Dan is actually my brother-in-law. About 5 years ago, BlaK Dan received a settlement from Costco after slipping on a wet spot in the cat food aisle and rupturing his spleen. Instead of spending that money wisely on food and shelter, BlaK Dan invested heavily in Amway products which he has been unable to sell even at steeply discounted prices.
In order to recoup his investment, BlaK Dan has been showing up at our front door at the crack of dawn trying to get me to buy cases of Nutralite Vitamins and 100 count boxes of hand sanitizer. At first, my wife and I tried to help him or, at least, keep to the terms of the restraining order we have against him. But BlaK Dan is persistent and we are running out options that don’t involve having some guy named Yuri The Blade drop him into the Atlantic Ocean. I have no use for Amway Products and I am tired of having to deal with the guy, so I told him that I’d pay him if he stays away from our home and writes me a metal album review from time to time. Maybe the reviews will keep him busy and stop him calling us at 2 AM in a drunken haze to cry about the lack of woodwinds on the recent Burzum album.
Anyway, here’s the first (and hopefully last) in a series of articles called “BlaK Dan Reviews Albums He Hates”…..
Alright, so first of all, I need to tell you that this album sucks. It’s so obvious that it sucks, I don’t even need to listen to it. I could feel the suckiness through the latex gloves I used to handle it. Out of a scale of 1 to 10, it gets a negative 12 billion. It is meant to sap the spirit of those who fight the battle to remain unscarred by the joy and happiness that goes on around them. It is a Trojan Bull sent into BlaK Dan’s City of Darkness to try to destroy the China Shop that is his purity. BlaK Dan will not be fooled!
People like to argue that Metallica sold out when they recorded …And Justice For All or The Black Album or when they did a video for “One”. This is not true. Metallica sold out well before the time of their birth. While James Hetfield’s mother was pregnant with him, she listened to a good amount of Elvis Presley. Recent research conducted by researchers has conclusively shown that fetuses exposed to Elvis music will become humans who write sucky, sell-out music 98 percent of the time. James was born to suck.
That drummer who looks like a Muppet is no good either. What’s his deal?!?! He strikes me as the type of guy who’s in it to meet women or make money or to be famous or something. He’s probably got a room in his house filled with nothing but KC and The Sunshine band pictures. Why does he need all those drums? He doesn’t even use most of them. I’ve seen pictures of him smiling, too. If I knew for sure I could keep my Bathory vinyls in prison, I would crush his head with a boulder whilst reading from the Necronomicon.
Like I say, I’d never listen to a Metallica album, but if I did, I bet they have choruses on them. And melodies. And harmonies. And lyrics about feelings. And songs about how much they cried when their dog ran away when they were eight. And stuff about how when they were kids people laughed and wouldn’t invite them to birthday parties because they had stupid Gobots instead of Transformers like all the cool kids. And songs about how personal hygiene is important. Dumb sucky stuff for losers who buy furniture and go to shopping malls.
I have so far burnt over 300 copies of this album in an attempt to unfoul the universe of smut. I plan on keeping myself and my pet ferret Varg warm in our cave all winter by the light of this epically sucky piece of suckdom. A suck free cave with blazing Metallica albums and all the berries and squirrel we can eat. The way Odin would have wanted it.
Amway, Bathory, BlaK Dan, Burzum, Elvis Presley, gobots, Metallica, Music Reviews, Odin, Purity, Ride The Lightning, Transformers
“children guessed (but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew)”
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.
a myth is creation, art, Audience, Blog, creation, creation is a myth, ee cummings, Experience, Jean Luc Goddard, Music Reviews, Review, self indulgance, Writer, Writers Resources, Writing
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.
Burger King, Cats, Dora The Explorer, Franz Kafka, Graveyard, heavy metal, heavy metal music, Hisingen, Hisingen Blues, Lizard, Me ripping off Kafka ideas, Music Reviews, Nuclear Blast, Pets, Post Modern Nonsense, Reviews, Spiro Agnew, surrealism, The Metamorphosis, United States, Where is the Future?