Wednesday, September 22, 2010 Reviews (Part 5)

Ana Kefr - Saturday, September 4th, 2010 - Whisky A-Go-Go

A Saturday night in Hollywood is always exciting, but a holiday weekend Saturday night is like one giant party. The night wouldn't be complete without drunken drama on a street corner or witnessing someone stumbling towards the windshield of an oncoming car! Tonight, Ana Kefr played at the Whisky A Go-Go, and people were lined up at the door to get in.

Downefall was the first band to play. There is always a certain level of admiration for the band that has the first slot of a show. It cannot be easy to be the ones who kick-off the evening and especially if tickets are still being checked at the door! Audience members hardly had a chance to allow their pupils to adjust to the darkly lit room and get used to the fact that they were now in one of the most historic venues in Hollywood- where some of the greats have once played. Downefall did not seem threatened by their situation and managed to stir up a fair-sized moshpit. They are a five-piece metal band from the bay area of Northern California. If you like bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Trivium, chances are, you will like what Downefall has to offer. In fact, they performed an A7X cover flawlessly, and had the audience singing along!

Gaining the privilege of backstage access to speak with the bands before and after their performances, Blistering approached Brendan and Kyle, the guitarists of Ana Kefr, and asked them what their thoughts were in anticipation for the show. Brendan stated that waiting to play is "like waiting for Christmas when you are a little kid." Kyle mentioned that the set for the evening's show is "fucking tasty." Interesting fellows! The air thickened with anticipation.

Pieces of Teeth, a metal quartet from Oceanside, California, have an amazing drummer and they also managed to get a moshpit moving after a little audience encouragement. While their sound consists of what one might typically expect from a metal show, the last song on their set had all heads bobbing. InSilence, the main support act of the night, have played at this location before, and if memory serves, have a decent following. During the performance, the members put forth abundant energy and enthusiasm.However, it is clear who the star of the night's show is: Ana Kefr. Before InSilence could even finish clearing their gear, a noticeably large crowd had piled in front of the stage. The crowd was strangely diverse, consisting of a balance of women, men, and all ages. Then, a tempestuous march unexpectedly exploded into "Tonight We Watch the Children Fucking Burn," and the show has begun.

Rhiis Lopez looked intensely intimidating on the stage with his boot propped up on a PA, talking down to the audience. Each song smoothly flowed into the next, and a long-time fan could detect slight variations from the recorded versions of each song. They even incorporated a saxophone into the beginning of "Avenue of the Queen!" Rhiis delivered part of "The Day that Guilt Turned White" with an amplified megaphone, and the bass player, Fonzy, signaled the queue to mosh by swirling his guitar neck around in the air. Ana Kefr also provided their fans with a special treat by playing "Truthless" live for the first time in over a year, and it was apparent that the crowd already knew the words because they were all singing!

After a brief introduction, there was an opportunity for the audience to take a break and simply listen while Ana Kefr played an emotional song called, "The Orchid." Rhiis leaned down to sing a few of the lines to an audience member. It was also noticeable that Shane, on the drums, has excellent timing and outstanding delivery. The final song for the night was "Avenue of the Queen," and everyone was more energetic than ever! At the end, the house lights went on, but the audience insisted on an encore. Alas, it was over.

Saturday, September 4th, was a glorious night to be in Hollywood. Some drunkards may not even remember, but there are many who will never forget. After the guys had a chance to catch their breath, Blistering caught Rhiis on his way out, and asked for his thoughts on the show. He said, "This may have been the last performance in support of Volume 1, and what a show it was! But if you thought that was intense, you ain't seen nothing yet."

Black Anvil - Triumvirate (Relapse Records)

[8.5/10] The word "triumvirate" means "any joint ruling by three men." The album, Triumvirate is a musical expression by three men, and according to the band's drummer, Raeph Glicken (or R.G.), "This record's all about us, and we want the record to kind of dictate the fact that it's about us three and where we're at now, and where we came from." The members of Black Anvil are from New York and only just formed in 2007. Triumvirate is their sophomore album and, like a cold beer on a warm day, it is quite tasty.

We are introduced to the album with, "What is Life if Life Not Now!" a song that addresses the uncertainty of life after death. This fast-paced song kicks off the album with an utmost brutality. The insect-like buzzing quality produced by the guitars, toward the end, is enjoyable. It is intimidating, hair-raising, and you feel lucky to come out of it alive.

"Dead and Left" currently represents this album online, and it is very well put together. It begins with a punch and is ruthless and unforgiving. The flow of the song sounds as though it is set to the repetitive rhythm of shoveling a dead man's grave, which seems very fitting. The completion of the grave digging is accompanied by higher-pitched fearsome guitar riffs and terrorizing roars.

"Crippling" and "Eliminate" serve as two interludes of the album. "Crippling" could prepare us for diving into a scary movie or might lay the foundation for a recurring nightmare! It is simple yet ominous. "Eliminate" must be aiming at setting the scene for a traditional tribal ritual or an execution. The drums create the mood for this track. These interludes are a refreshing veer off the norm, and illustrate the band's versatility. If aspects from these ideas were inserted unexpectedly throughout the other songs in the album, it would make for an even more brain-stimulating experience.

One of the best songs of Triumvirate is, "With Transparent Blood." The vocals sound like a ravaging demon and the guitars create a menacing presence. An ascending scream morphs into a growl, and emphasis on the double bass kicks the song into another direction. It slows down to a doom sound, and then the joint ruling by the three men is complete.

Each time songs from Black Anvil's Triumvirate reverberate through your eardrums, the songs seem to be continuously improving and stick to your insides like a piece of swallowed gum! If this thriving trio continues the way they have been, we should expect yet another album to be coming out in 2011, and we should be prepared for total annihilation.

Armagedda - I am (Agonia Records)

[7.5/10] Armagedda disbanded in 2004, but have released the EP entitled, I Am in September of 2010. It seems strange that a band that was only around for about five years would produce a never-before-released EP. One would think this is something that only legendary bands from decades past could get away with. Just as diehard fans began to heal the wounds from the loss of their beloved Armagedda, the scars are once again peeled open with bittersweet remembrance.

Armagedda, which translates to "Jehovah's Hell," produced music that is true to the nature of traditional Scandinavian black metal. It is raw, cold, and of poor recording quality. It is thought by many that traditional black metal is not meant to reach an audience, but meant only for the band's enjoyment. If this is true, why bother releasing an EP or album at all? Upon first impression, this screams, "Give us money."

Even though Armagedda is following tradition, the recording quality of I Am is terrible. It is mixed in such a way that the drums are nearly inaudible and sounds like it was recorded in someone’s garage. While it is admirable to stick to tradition, the drums sound like they might be doing something interesting in "Den Skirvna Eskatologin," and it is unfortunate that it cannot be determined whether they are or not. The guitar riffs are also very repetitive, which most likely follows suit to the black metal traditional style as well.

"De Vanhelgade" starts off with a long vocal belt accompanied by nightmarish guitars. The vocals are very raspy and sound as though coming from a mangled voice box! "I Am" is the best song on the EP, and has previously been performed in concert. It opens slowly with sounds of hopelessness and dread. It is definitely the climactic section of this release and I imagine could be played during the depressing scene of a movie where the main character has lost all hope and draws a final bath. Wrists slit into painless freedom. Do not combine this album with prescription medication or heavy drinking!

It takes a few listens before the message from the music can be heard over the poor quality of recording. You have to be in the right mood to listen to Armagedda, or else they will put you there. It is saddening to already know that Armagedda will not continue to progress after sharing I Am with the world, but who knows? Maybe one day, they will resurface from within the darkened chambers of the abyss and be resurrected.

Monday, August 9, 2010 Reviews (4)

My Ruin - Ghosts and Good Stories (Tiefdruck Musik)
Sara Heitman

[10/10] Ghosts and Good Stories, My Ruin’s sixth studio album, blows all of the others out of the water. A combination of everything that makes My Ruin so remarkable, the duo (married, that is) of Tairrie B. and Mick Murphy have made what is creative, angry, passionate, and fun! This charming husband and wife duo kick ass, colloquially speaking, and Ghosts and Good Stories is their latest testament of this.

The album starts with a strong beginning, just the guitar, in "Diggin' for Ghosts." Vocals layered with whispers and spoken word set an eerie tone to the album, sending shivers down your spine. The music is remorseful and we are given the impression that a painful past is being exhumed, confronted, and then left behind. There seems to be an underlying theme throughout the album that trust ends in regret, and things believed eventually prove false. What is appealing about My Ruin is that their heavy songs have a memorable quality that could easily become stuck in your head. "Long Dark Night," to name one, has such a quality with its energetic rock beat and colorful guitar riffs. We can also relate to this one on a personal level.

Skipping ahead a bit, "Eyes Black" points a feminist finger at a very touchy subject. It is controversial to even mention topics of this nature, mostly because it seems that anyone who does tends to suddenly disappear. There are certain cultures in this world with people who believe it is perfectly acceptable to treat women as possessions, forcing them to cover their "meat" so to not attract unwanted attention. While the believers of these traditions behave as though they are perfectly content with this (even the women), it definitely attracts some attention from the rest of the world. Tairrie does not seem like the kind of woman to take these practices lightly, and continues to be an admirable role model to our misguided gender.

A more intense version of The LVRS is what immediately comes to mind when hearing the song, "Deathknell," which is the last track on Ghosts and Good Stories. The LVRS is an intimate, spoken-word side project which brings the listener into a dark, quiet place. Slow and tragic, holding onto pain, this expression of anguish is also apparent in "Excommunicated," which also dips into spoken word. Tairrie's prolonged scream of agony will continue to reverberate in your mind. "La Ciudad" holds a similar shape, while simultaneously sounding intimidating, and we realize that Tairrie's voice could easily be placed in a lounge, atop a piano, coated in a smooth layer of southern whiskey.

There are too many noteworthy elements of this album. So, before getting carried away, we will end only after briefly mentioning the musical middle finger held up in "Money Shot," a Rollins Band cover of "Turned Out," and the gut-wrenching screams of "Suicide Tuesday." There is a thrilling solo in every song by Mr. Mick Murphy. Each one is unique and amazing in its own way. However, the song where the solo personally strikes a nerve is in "Malediction." Here, he shreds the kind of solo that makes you turn to your neighbor with a look of surprise and mouth the words, "Holy shit." At least, that's what I did! In short, Ghosts and Good Stories is gracefully bone-chilling, filled with teeth-chattering terror, and leaves your unworthy soul melted in a puddle on the floor. A masterpiece!

Hero Destroyed - Throes (Relapse Records)
Sara Heitman

[8/10] If you want something, you need to be proactive. Very seldom does life throw you a house-warming party and just hand you a basket of soap. Amazing things don't just happen; you have to make them happen. This is how I came to know the album, Throes, by Hero Destroyed. I knew that I wanted to write a review for Cephalic Carnage's new album, Misled by Certainty, so I contacted Relapse Records to have it sent to me. Along with it came a copy of Throes. So the listening begins.

Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Hero Destroyed has been around since 2005 and released a self-titled EP in 2008. They are described as hardcore, death metal, or metalcore. When I think of metalcore, though, bands like Killswitch Engage and Bullet for My Valentine come to mind. This is not the sound of Hero Destroyed. Thankfully, metalcore, in the annoyingly commercial-to-the-Hot-Topic-bone sense of the word is not detected. Instead, Dustin Newman (bass), Pat McNicholas (vocals), Neal Andrus (drums), Zach Moore and Jeff Turko (guitars) have put together a tasty little full-length debut for us, to be released in the end of August through Relapse Records.

Of course the cover of the album was my first impression, and it is very intriguing- a human heart, protruding with desperate arms, connected by machinery. It reminds me of the "real world" where humans live in The Matrix. I was expecting something breathtakingly mind-altering and unexpected. I was impressed, yet somehow disappointed. The first, and most obvious disappointment, for me, are the vocals. Sorry, Pat. There is something that rubs my eardrums the wrong way, and they stay consistent throughout the album, which becomes slightly annoying and boring eventually. You could describe them as old-school hardcore punk meets metal vocals. Also, at times the recording sounds a bit muddy, but it is possible that could be due to the performance. Throes includes numerous areas where the compilation of sounds is very technical and complicated. In order to achieve this successfully, each instrument needs to be performed precisely to keep up; starting with the drums.

Overall, this album is interesting and unique with a mixture of styles. The music is unpredictable with unexpected timing changes, and aspects of math metal make it interesting. There are some oddly-timed, uncommon riffs, and while they can be repetitive, they keep the album moving forward. "That's an Axe," "Army of Draccoons," "The Last Upper," and "Dom Wampus" all have sections that highlight the bass guitar. As someone who is currently learning to play the bass, I appreciate this display of the dimension the bass adds to music. "Cerberus" is my favorite track. It is instrumental and strange, and sets a different tone.

Take the vocals out of Throes and you have Cephalic Carnage's little brother. The deadpan vocal delivery is the only thing that is keeping me from purchasing this album for my own personal collection. The major downfall of this album is that they have no variation, but the music does. In the future, it would be nice to hear vocal variety, whether it is full-fledged death growls, spoken word, clean vocals, or even a whisper. Anything would help break them up enough to match the level of variation in the music. There are certain musical aspects, like in "Army of Draccoons," where each instrument joins in after the other into an erratic rhythm, and in "Minion" where each guitar is playing something different and recorded so that one guitar plays in your right ear and the other in your left. It's like a massage for your brain and it would be great if the vocals contributed to that!

It is difficult to determine whether or not Hero Destroyed will develop and progress with their sound. It is apparent that they are still experimenting with their own style, but there has not been much variation with Throes compared to their previously released EP. If some of the creative elements from "Permian - Triassic" or the almost psychedelic-sounding beginning of "Army of Draccoons" were brought into the mix more, it would bring a wider sense of dynamics to the songs and help advance their already unique sound even further. Hero Destroyed needs to push through to the next level.

Cephalic Carnage - Misled By Certainty (Relapse Records)
Sara Heitman

[10/10] Astounding. Misled by Certainty is an album that needs to be listened to multiple times in order to grasp all of the individual elements that exist in each song, and that is the plan. After Xenosapien, we couldn't imagine anything better, but Cephalic Carnage has succeeded at surpassing their own boundary.

In Misled by Certainty, each song is completely unique and fully capable of standing alone, yet we get the sense that there is a strong connection between the songs and their themes. From Cephalic Carnage, a more emotional, melodic, and even humorous side to them has surfaced with this new delicious jewel.

The album kicks off with "The Incorrigible Flame," which, research shows, has been around since late last year and was even performed in Denver without vocals or a name. It starts off with a catchy guitar riff and later descends into darkness when it slows down and horrifying vocal growls stomp in. At times, the guitars emanate the sound of giant bees dying a slow and painful death. "Warbots A.M." presents us with unbelievably fast guitar riffs and the first somewhat noticeable display of connection between songs. The word "cordyceps" can be made out from the lyrics, which is also part of the title of one of the other songs.

There is a variety in vocal styles during this song which helps add to the depth of their sound, and in the end we are whisked into an H.P. Lovecraft story with a tribal chant to Cthulu which achieves a chilling effect of intimidation."Cordyceps Humanis" embraces a menacing beginning, staying slow and brutal. One can appreciate that Cephalic Carnage does not find it necessary to create every song as fretboard-burningly fast as the next, and it is just as effective. "Cordyceps Humanis" ends with slower dramatic guitars, followed by what sounds like a U.F.O. spacecraft preparing for flight and then taking off into "Raped by an Orb." What a humorous title, and too closely connected to be a coincidence.

There are two other songs with humorous demonstrations. The menacing "Pure Horses" ends suddenly with a horse's neigh. While appropriate to the song's title, this inspires a couple of chuckles from the listener. "P.G.A.D." begins abruptly with a high-pitched scream. It is very loud and chaotic, and before you realize, it's ending with obnoxious chewing sounds, and dare I say, a fart!

Compared to Xenosapien, Misled by Certainty is heavy in a more melodic and emotional way. The emotion bleeds through in songs like "Ohrwurm" with the bass guitar and saxophone stealing center stage. Also, heartstrings are yanked in, "When I Arrive" and "Repangaea." Although "When I Arrive" is capable of invoking a sense of anxiety and disorder, it touches on an emotional and controversial topic (if my analysis is correct). Also, the ending is a bit surprising. However, this modern sound could be an interpretation of a very biblical idea. "Repangaea" is undoubtedly going to be the most buzzed about track. It takes you to a different place and time; simultaneously gallant and mournful.

Misled by Certainty takes you on a journey. This "rocky mountain hydro-grind" group has come together to bring the metal world something completely awe-inspiringly brutal and unique. It is refreshing to hear something so tangled and strange, yet so beautiful. It is also pleasing to know that these guys are still just a bunch of fun-loving characters who aren't afraid of letting their personalities out in their music. Finally, we ask to please make sure the "compruder" remains fixed so we may hear more!

Thursday, July 22, 2010 Reviews (3)

Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire - Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation (Prosthetic Records)

[9/10] A band's name is like the title of a book. It is often a deciding factor in whether or not the audience will take that extra step to read the book or, in this case, listen to the album. With a name like Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, it almost tells a story in itself. In a recent interview with the vocalist from Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire (hereafter known as CTFF), Ethan stated, "Our name comes from the idea of holding onto something completely and utterly fucked/hopeless/ruined..." Bands with unusually long and descriptive band names, for the most part, will either produce extremely impressive music or total garbage.

Fortunately for CTFF, they have succeeded in creating something that fans of several genres can appreciate. According to some tags from a website, if you like brutal deathgrind, chaotic grindcore, power violence, smoking pot, worshipping Satan, and being unreasonably pissed off, you will probably enjoy listening to CTFF and Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation.

Band members include: Ethan - vocals, Ben - Guitar, Zach - Bass, and J.P. - Drums. Ethan uses gruesome vocals alternating between harsh roars, and screams that could be resonating from a torture chamber or uttered from someone being burned alive. The drums create unexpected beats. Guitar and bass use unique riffs, clashing in all the right ways.

The album starts off with a blast of heat. If you are having a problem waking up, "Teeth and Hair" will solve it for you. It will slap you in the face like opening a scorching hot oven. Your eyebrows are singed, and you love it! Everyone had better get out of your way when this song is playing. Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation is what sounds like death metal and grindcore mixed with doom metal. It has elements of sludge metal, and has been referred to as "funeral grind." Each song is out of the ordinary, and that is refreshing. CTFF uses dissonant chords and bizarre progressions making it difficult for your ears to collaborate with your brain to process what is happening. Needless to say, they are outside of the box. In fact, you could say they are so far outside of the box, they have stomped on the box, run over it with their horse and plough, and buried it under 300 acres of shit!

CTFF's collective sound is remindful of early Anal Cunt (think Morbid Florist EP). My favorite song from the album is, "They Smeared Shit on Their Skin to Blend in at Night." It has such a splendid and amusing title, and reminds me of Ana Kefr's "Feed a PETA Member to a Starving Child in Africa." This song by CTFF is different from the other songs overall. It seems to roll around in every direction and has a brief spotlight on an accelerated bass. It is power and violence, inspiring destruction past the breaking point.

"Made of Coal" delivers angry screams accompanied by ultra-fast drums. Then it slows down to a stoner sound, with some of the riffs reminiscent to the work of Adam Jones from Tool. In "Boquet of Self Pity," our cochleas are pierced with a high-pitched squeal, and a slow start makes the drums stand out. The doomier moments of CTFF sound like some of the better doom elements of Cephalic Carnage; the song "G.lobal O.verhaul D.evice" as an example.

Overall, CTFF has managed to bring us material that the music world is severely lacking- something unique. What is particularly impressing is the last track of this album, "Remove the Light." Without giving it away, the ending is very dramatic. After it is over, we are left feeling disoriented, like after waking up from a terrible dream. It feels strange to return back to reality. Personally, there has never been another album that manifested such a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. That, in short, is stupendous!

Mose Giganticus - Gift Horse (Relapse Records)

[7/10] This is not a typical metal album. In fact, it is a stretch to call this "metal" at all. Others have described the genre of Gift Horse presented by Mose Giganticus as grunge metal, synth punk, electronic, and death metal. This also isn't a typical metal band. It is even a stretch to call Mose Giganticus a "band" at all! The style and sound of Mose Giganticus is created by the keyboardist/drummer/programmer/songwriter/vocalist Matt Garfield of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Personally, anything that is outside of the box is favorable. So, when playing Gift Horse for the first time, a curiosity arose. A blend of synthesized sounds combined with electric guitar-themed music, create a mellow image with a rock energy. There is a quality comparable to the Berlin electronica sound. The majority of it is entertaining. I, the reviewer, have stepped out from behind the shadows of the music, and taken the liberty to coin the term "relaxation metal" as a new, softer branch of the genre to describe the album.

We begin Gift Horse with "Last Resort." An upbeat synth sound welcomes us, and brings to mind visions of a sunrise. It has a slow tempo with a Dream Theater essence, but heavier vocals. The vocals retain the same quality throughout the album, and at times can sound like players of a football team belting out team spirit. The combination of the melodic sound with the guitar riffs in "The Left Path" make for a catchy beginning of the track. The lyrics are simple and follow straight-forward patterns. One source states that the lyrics in Gift Horse are written from the perspective of the Christian god and the fallen angel, Lucifer, having a conversation. However, when the "football vocals" (another term I have coined for this album) are remindful of the chorus from Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping," it is hard to imagine they are based on a topic of such serious nature.

By the third track, "Demon Tusk," the uniqueness of the synth metal sound loses its luster. Everything starts sounding repetitive, and it gets difficult to establish the differences between each song. They do, however, become songs that one might find useful to help cure insomnia, or to play after the end of a sporting event or a movie as the masses begin shuffling out to their cars. Background music.

There are two tracks that stand out in this album. "White Horse," and the last track, "The Seventh Seal" both have memorable aspects. "White Horse" begins with a high-pitched keyboard melody which jumps around energetically and sounds like it is running a race. Then, the guitar comes in to run alongside it. The fast keyboard accompanied by the slower guitar musically creates the idea of "The Tortoise and the Hare." Some may find the bouncy keys to be annoying, but this is personally entertaining, because it continuously brings to mind the scene from the movie Revenge of the Nerds where the nerds perform the ultimate synthesized musical number and it blows everyone away!

"The Seventh Seal" seems to have the most variation. It is not a happy song, and presents slow, clean vocals. The sorrow, in my opinion, would have been conveyed more effectively with one solitary, heartfelt voice, instead of the use of layering again. There is even a short solo here! Though, it seems that it is almost too little, too late.

A gift horse is an apparent gift that has substantial, associated costs. Maybe that is how we are to treat this album. It is a gift. Take it or leave it, but if you choose to accept, don't criticize. Applause should go to Mr. Garfield for his ambition and drive to create this full-length album practically on his own. There are not many people who have that kind of motivation. Mose Giganticus has given us the gift of music, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, Gift Horse has the ability to inspire our imagination.

Waking the Cadaver - Beyond Cops. Beyond God. (Siege of Amida/Candlelight Records)

Occasionally, before even listening to a new band to review, researching the band and their history, and observing what others have to say about the music will give an idea of what to expect. In the case of Waking the Cadaver, there was no other conclusion to be made from previous reviews but to expect the absolute worst piece of garbage that one has ever laid ears on in the history of music's existence! Seriously. Here are some excerpts of reviews written for the band’s debut album, Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler found on Encyclopedia Metallum - The Metal Archives:

"The breakdowns are uninteresting, generic, and boring."
"...guitar playing that is an insult to the instrument..."
"It shows no emotion other than a rape of a snare skin and a palm muted open note..."
"Just about everything sounds the same."
"Combining poor growling skills and cheap production with oinking, they seem to come from the most pissed off pig you will ever see."

Several reviewers claimed Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler was literally the worst album they had ever heard, and one said that the album was great if you were looking for a laugh. So, now that Waking the Cadaver are releasing their second album, Beyond Cops. Beyond God., have they taken any of these remarks into consideration?

My answer is both yes and no. First, "no" because, as a whole, the album is, as quoted, "uninteresting, generic, and boring." It is lacking originality, and the ability to make anyone want to listen to it again. I would have to say that it is a bold move to copyright the term "Slamming Gore Groove," if it is in fact copyrighted. However, after listening to the album, it seems like it is a last ditch effort to look like they are unique on paper. They are trying too hard to sound tough. This is apparent from the album title alone, and could be compared to the authoritative identity that Eric Cartman from South Park created for himself. A child stating, "I am above the law," or "Respect my authority!" is comical. There are ways of letting people know you are tough besides simply declaring it.

That brings us to the lyrical aspect of the album. From what is available to read, this member of the musical audience is not impressed. The lyrical themes are of rape, gore, and violence. From a female metal fan's perspective, songs about rape don't make you sound powerful, they make you sound pathetic. The lyrics in "Beyond Cops," from Beyond Cops. Beyond God are simplistic, and seem juvenile and forced. To me, the words are important, especially in the metal genres. The majority of the time, they are masked by the delivery, so listeners have to take that extra step's worth of interest in the band to look them up and read. One hopes to be amazed with eloquent poetics or impressed by intelligence. Instead, with the lyrics for "Beyond Cops," one must solely be satisfied with the fact that the extra step of effort was made at all.

With that being said, it was not all that bad. Every song on the album is at least more interesting than "Chased Through the Woods by a Rapist," which seems to be the most popular of the previously released songs. The vocals are diverse. Pig vocals alternated with deep, guttural growls keep it interesting. There is an impressive stretch of time with one prolonged roar, making the song worthy of the title "Waking the Cadaver." At times the vocals sound like someone removed the catalytic converter from a monster truck! They also emulate a dog's bark and an elongated belch in "Suffering Upon Revenge." Actually, "Suffering Upon Revenge," is the most noteworthy song, in my opinion. Towards the end of the song, the drums start producing an ultra-fast blast beat, and then there is a fluttery guitar melody unexpectedly added into the mix! Short-lived, but exciting!

Waking the Cadaver is formerly known as Death to Honor and is from Shore Points, New Jersey. They have just started walking the path of their musical careers, and have a long way to go. Beyond Cops. Beyond God. is not as bad as some would lead you to believe, but it is definitely not quite ready to be described as "good." They can play their instruments, it is just not that interesting. There is always potential and the hope for creating a better sound. Finally, I give my compliments to the band for not giving up despite receiving some brutally harsh reviews for their debut.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Music Reviews Part 2:

Early Graves - Goner

[6.5/10] Do you feel like jumping into a mosh pit and giving somebody a bloody nose for no reason? Do you have the urge to piss off your parents or a religious person, perhaps? Do you have 25 minutes to kill? Listen to Goner by Early Graves. They have risen from the remains, and dusted off the ashes of what used to be known as Apiary, having developed a new sound. The new sound is unprecedented with a unique combination of genres. Imagine thrash metal mixed with hardcore punk; pour and bake, and you have a delicious batch of some angry cupcakes! Goner this group's second album, has only just been released, and Early Graves are currently on a national tour in celebration.

The album is filled with extreme, fast drumming, harmonic squeals, finger-shredding guitar riffs, and a bass that emulates thunder, all covered by the vocals which sound like they could drill a hole in your eardrums. The majority of the songs include these aspects throughout, and this is outstanding if you would like to hear the same thing over and over, but not so much if variation is what you appreciate in music. Now, Early Graves has something promising in their grasp, but they need to kick it up a notch and step out of the box a bit, or they may meet their own early grave.

Personal favorites on this album include "May Day" and "Wraiths" but for differing reasons. "Wraiths" stands out because it is stylistically different from the rest of the tracks. It has a slower tempo and the drums lean closer to a rock beat. It is a refreshing break. Aspects of this song send out the impression of pain and resentment. "May Day" paints pictures of various events using different musical techniques as brush strokes. In the beginning, the guitars resemble the rumble of helicopter blades beating the air. Then slowing down, and emphasizing the drums and the bass, this song sounds like it is coming to a close, but it is only halfway finished. One might be able to imagine the earth rapidly racing toward your flight craft, visions of memories flashing in slow motion as you face your premature death. Hope is lost, and the final signs of life disappear after a hair-raising guitar shriek.

We are introduced to a fantastic solo at the end of "Bastard Tears," and backing vocals in "Give Up" and "Harm" adds some variation in this album. "Old Bones" contains interesting riff patterns. Harmonic squeals and shrill feedback contribute toward the uniqueness of this band, but are overused. The band are skilled musicians and they have presented us with a new take on metal genres illustrated in ten short tracks. Whether they create Goner 1.5 or continue to change and develop the unique style they have created for themselves, only time will tell what Early Graves will bring to the table next.

Dark Haven - Fallout

[8.5/10] A dying music box feebly tinks out the distorted notes of the theme song from Love Story. Wind blows, leaves rustle. There is close to no life left from our civilized world after an atomic bomb has exploded. Suddenly, heavy guitars come stomping in and break the silence. Dark Haven positioned atop a towering cliff, play over the Earth's remains. "Skyscraper" reduces everything to ashes leaving us questioning what it all means. Dissecting the tangled mess of reasons that caused the end of humanity, Dark Haven presents the world with our very own Fallout. They must determine whether this world is worth rebuilding or if we are undoubtedly destined to be destroyed. It is too late. The dust has cleared, and no life will remain.

Looking for answers we are surrounded by conflict, both externally and internally. Outward, in "Aphelion," meaning the point in its orbit when Earth is farthest from the sun, everything is beyond reach. The guitars in this piece exude tragedy with an elegant quality. Varying vocal patterns and styles add emphasis to the words. Inside, feeling helplessly trapped, surrounded by walls, life resembles an insane asylum. We reach a breaking point and run screaming through the halls; throwing chairs and pulling out hair. A melancholy bass calmly puts his hand on our shoulder and leads us back inside. The keyboard emphasizes the feeling of defeat and mournful, repetitive screams are filled with anguish as reluctant acceptance sets in.

For a debut full-length album, Fallout is indeed a statement. Dark Haven have been around for the last six years, laying low in Southern California's wine country. After they produced an EP titled Your Darkest Hour in 2005 and went on tour, Dark Haven found the message they wished to represent in Fallout. Like most bands, they have encountered the struggle of a changing line-up. Their current members include: Brennan Kilpatrick (Guitar), Don Linneman (Vocals), Nate Falzon (Drums), Ryan Kilpatrick (Bass), and Lance Orosco (Keyboard). The songs are about humanity and what will come if we do not change now.

The lyrics in "Shades of Ivory" demonstrate one aspect of this message. Beginning with keys, a calm intro, we then become acquainted with slow, tortured bellows, higher-pitched screams, fast drums, and Kilpatrick's fingers dancing across the fret board. At the end, we are directed to take a moment to breathe and reflect on what is happening, like taking a long drive down a winding dirt road. Both this song and "Malice" suggest an angry sadness. The beginning of "Malice" tells us to get our asses up out of our chairs and down into the pit, because something major is about to happen. This song is ferocious; full of chaos and energy, but would not be complete without the sorrowful solo and clean vocals.

Let's not forget to mention the song about Vikings! "Azimuth" is a term used in navigation. This track musically mimics the sounds of waves crashing and a boat rocking in certain sections. Clean vocals and hearty growls mixed together create an interesting effect. Harmonizing guitars and slower, this song is characteristically different from the rest.

It is not very often that we can find an album that captures our attention from beginning to end. From catching our breath after "Abysmal Horror", to holding our heads with regret and remorse from the song, "Through Dying Eyes," we are left wanting more. Dark Haven have been hiding in the shadows for the last six years, finding their direction and perfecting their sound. However, with the release of their first full-length album, accompanied by a newly posted internet music video for "Abysmal Horror," Dark Haven are quickly starting to show that they are on their way!

Lightning Swords of Death - The Extra Dimensional Wound

[6/10] If you've never heard of Lightning Swords of Death before, and have come across their album The Extra Dimensional Wound, you might be intrigued. First of all, the band name is unusual, and one may wonder if these people are actually serious. It sounds like they are trying too hard to sound brutal, or maybe English is their second language.

Upon further investigation we discover that the band is based in Los Angeles, so most likely there is no language barrier. We also learn that Lightning Swords of Death is taken from part of the name of a film from the 1970's, Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades which was titled Shogun Assassin 2: Lightning Swords of Death upon release in the United States. Also, the album cover is quite detailed and depicts death with a bit of mystery; seeming to tell a story. In a recent interview with Lightning Swords of Death (hereafter known as LSOD), when referring to the album art, they stated, "The image depicts the polymorphic, emanations of living chaos erupting from the extra dimensional wound (a rip in the membrane that defines the hyper-modular latticing of the multiverse)." For lack of a better expression...huh? Did this guy just exude a higher intelligence? Anyone can projectile psychic disfigurements of crepuscular proportions. Just pick up a thesaurus and start making shit up!

The way this band expresses itself in writing reminds me of Seth Putnam's (Anal Cunt) side project Impaled Northern Moonforest. With knee-slap drums and song titles like "Grim and Frostbitten Moongoats of the North" and "Gazing at the Blasphemous Moon While Perched atop a Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Forsaken Crest of the Northern Mountain," one cannot help but to be amused. This style of writing and song titling is definitely entertaining, but, unfortunately for LSOD, it does not carry over into their music.

The Extra Dimensional Wound contains little variety, especially in the first half of the album. The guitar riffs are unoriginal and unimaginative. They hover in the safe zone of low tones and hardly surface into the higher octaves. There is nothing to keep the listener interested. To be fair, it is not all bad. The bass is distorted throughout most of the album, and in "The Extra Dimensional Wound" the vocals bring to mind the sound of cracking branches smothered by a ghost, and later suggest sounds of howling wind. The drums shine at the end of "Nihilistic Stench" and in "Invoke the Desolate One" it becomes apparent that this band is comparable to Dark Funeral.

Everything changes once we arrive at "Zwartgallig," however. Hope returns during this short and sweet track with clean guitar. Even though this instrumental song is gloomy, it is the most interesting out of all eight tracks. It suggests the numb aftershock of a long battle; scanning the masses for a glimpse of life. If LSOD were to take the style shown in this song and insert it into any section of the others, for variation, it would make them much more enticing. Also, the final track, "Paths to Chaos" is another song that shows this group is capable of variation. It is more interesting than the rest because it goes beyond what LSOD have presented to us until now. Heavy drum beats and lead guitar followed by ambient rolls of thunder make this song stand out from the rest. In my opinion, for the next album, the elements of this song should be developed and expanded.

"Venter of the Black Beast" slows everything down for dramatic effect and incorporates long, tormented roars. In this song it sounds like the musicians are either on drugs or half asleep while playing, which, research shows, may not be far from the truth. "Vorticating into Scars" is personally disturbing. Do you know what "vorticating" means? Probably not. It’s not really a word.

On the other hand, LSOD must be doing something right. They have been fortunate enough to land themselves with a major record label and tour with well-known bands. Also, viewers say they put on an extraordinary live show. This album is LSOD's second professional recording experience, and they have potential. Let's hope that it continues to grow.

Allegaeon - Fragments of Form and Function

[8/10] It's hard to put a finger on the sound that Allegaeon has given to us. We are presented with music that consistently hops from one metal genre to another within a single song, like wormholes of music. This band is relatively new to the music scene, and consists of accomplished musicians. Fragments of Form and Function does not entail songs about subjects that are stereotypically metal, like female mutilation (which I can personally appreciate), Satan, or death and destruction. Instead they cover topics such as science, evolution, space, and time. Described as extreme melodic metal and melodic technical death metal, there are aspects of death metal, and hints of metalcore and modern hardcore intertwined.

After we are led into the album with a low rumble and mysterious ascension in "The Cleansing," it quickly becomes obvious that Allegaeon has talented musicians. An elongated window-shattering guttural scream, pounding drums, and rapid technical rollercoaster riffs are some pieces of the evidence. Followed by "The Renewal," Allegaeon moves in and out of tough death metal riffs and deathcore melodies in this energetic track. Jordon Belfast (drums), Ryan Glisan and Greg Burgess (guitars), Ezra Haynes (vocals/lyrics), and Corey Archuleta (bass) state that their songs are about " related theories." This is showcased in "Across the Folded Line." Most likely, the title of this song refers to a quantum physics theory about folds in time and brain function. The beginning sounds like we are blasting through space. With intense drumming and guitars buzzing and fluttering like insects soaring through space we are "symmetric in time across the folded line."

By the time we get to "The God Particle," however, the flittering melodic guitar solos start to get uninspiring. Needless to say they are phenomenally played; tearing up and down the music scales, running circles around the other instruments, and the drums are particularly ambitious. Nevertheless, something is missing. What is it? The heart, the passion, the feelings that a melodic solo should invoke. It is disappointingly empty. One may argue that songs about science and evolution should not include emotion and passion as a requirement because they are based on such logical and factual topics. Wrong. Science may be able to be reduced to "finite compounds," but music is infinite, and we should not settle for routine.

That being said, we know that Allegaeon are completely capable of stepping over that boundary, and doing something unique and creative, just by listening to "Accelerated Evolution." With a vivid impression of a muddy earthquake from the vocals, and super fast drums to start, about halfway through the song something happens. We are suddenly whisked into a new dimension of sounds, breaking out of the typical characteristics of the genre into something completely different, yet still retaining the unique sound that is Allegaeon. Personally speaking, this is the best track. This part of the song is absolutely delightful and really makes the album shine. More of this type of innovative creating is needed to make Allegaeon stand out from other bands of this genre. This section of “Accelerated Evolution" is animated, saddening, and fierce all at once. Bravo.

Not sure what to think? It's definitely worth giving Fragments of Form and Function a listen, especially if you like the metalcore and hardcore style of metal. The words, unlike other bands, can mostly be deciphered within the deep growls without losing their gruff quality. The vocals are comparable to Randy Blythe from Lamb of God, as well as some of the instrumental aspects. There are Dream Theater sections of solo after mind-blowing solo, and some parts reminiscent of Killswitch Engage. There is something about life, philosophy, and this world that can be learned just by listening, and that is not something we come by frequently.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Music Reviews for

I recently began writing for a website focusing on metal music and these are my first contributions. The review for Ana Kefr has not been posted yet, but it is well worth the read in my opinion!

Ana Kefr - Volume 1 (Musesick Records)
By Sara Heitman (

Clouds twirl in the wind. There is a rumble of thunder. We brace for the storm about to roll in. That storm is Ana Kefr. Hailing from the Inland Empire area of Southern California, Ana Kefr has just celebrated the one-year anniversary of the release of their debut album, Volume 1. People do not tend to expect much from a band that has been established for less than 2 years. However, Ana Kefr is here to show just how severely people are mistaken.

The cover of Volume 1 is simple and modest, yet intriguing. The blue disc winks at you and smiles coyly as it slips inside the player. A page turns. Your relationship begins. In the first chapter, the captivating clean vocals of frontman Rhiis D. Lopez draw you in. The alluring Arabic lyrics translate simply, "I think, therefore I am infidel," a phrase you will soon declare proudly.

However, don't be mistaken. This album should not to be taken lightly. It is not for the faint of heart, the easily offended, or the politically correct. It is not for those who refuse to accept reality and truth. Ana Kefr is the hand of Truth. Volume 1 is the slap in the face. That, my friends, becomes immediately apparent with "The Day that Guilt Turned White," followed shortly by "T.ruthless," and emphasized by "Takeover." These three songs are like steel-toed kicks to the face, putting back the jaw that just fell to the floor! Ana Kefr's overall sound is too difficult to classify under one or even several metal genres. If necessary, imagine black-progressive-metal-rock with classical undertones. Aware of this, Ana Kefr decided to coin "philosophy metal" as a new genre to encompass their unique sound.

No relationship would be complete without transformation and the tragedy of loss. A quality of grace and beauty has been given to death and anguish in the heartfelt songs "Avenue of the Queen" and "Orchid." Drowning darkness and crying guitars. Heart-wrenching keyboard solos and Lopez's versatile vocals expressing a wide range of intense emotion. All take center stage. Original founding members Bryce Loeffler (drums) and Trent Pichel (guitar) have also gracefully loosed the relationship ties of the band since Volume 1, leaving co-composers Kyle Coughran and Rhiis D. Lopez to continue executing Ana Kefr's message.

Acquiring three new members in 2010, Ana Kefr perseveres, scattering infidelity across the world. Fans agree the new members have proven themselves worthy of the task after they recently recorded the single track "Tonight We Watch the Children Fucking Burn." It was Ana Kefr's one-year anniversary of Volume 1 digital release. The infidel fans are now anxiously anticipating what is to come next from this progressive, philosophical metal band. The book of Volume 1 may have closed, but the legacy continues.

Related links:

The Funeral Pyre - Vultures at Dawn (Prosthetic Records/Creator Destructor/Forest Moon)
By Sara Heitman (

They say they are "a metal band with no ambition or hope. [They] have given up on people and life." If that were so, The Funeral Pyre would not have produced this exceptional album! Vultures at Dawn, their fourth studio release, is one of those albums that grows on you like moss on a gravestone. Described as melodic black metal, Vultures at Dawn presents a mix of both traditional and modern aspects of the black metal genre. Current members include James Joyce and Justin Garcia (guitars), Alex Hernandez (drums), John Strachan (vocals), and Adam Campbell (bass). Since forming in Southern California in 2004, they have steadily been producing completed works every other year.

"Personal Exile" has to be the best song on the album. Drums take the spotlight with a tribal sounding beginning, and beats counting down to your execution. Chaotic and energetic, unconventional sounds paired together keep this piece interesting from beginning to end. "Monolith", as implied by the name, stands alone. It is the only doom metal song on the album. Slow, painful death. Mournful screams like gargling stones. The album art from The Nature of Betrayal is what came to mind during this song, and depicts the mood portrayed precisely. Then, like faces plunged into cold water, we are brought back into reality by the fast beats of "Blistering Hands."

"Vultures" is the first track, and starts this album off on an eerie, creeping foot. The opening seconds sound like warning sirens; high pitched tones capturing your senses like eyelids forced open. When it slows down, it is even more ominous and powerful. Continuing to keep goosebumps propped up on the listeners flesh, we are brought to what sounds like the beginning of a zombie horror movie and begin "Destroying Gods." The guitars, seeming to moan at times, portray a quality of sadness and pleading and are complemented by the drums. The music and vocals, especially in this track, are somewhat reminiscent of Bathory and Burzum.

In the end, we are left "To Watch the Earth Rot." Fast paced drums with distorted guitars create the perfect head-banging music or background music to stomping on dead bodies. As a whole, this album grows on you and then it stays with you, like a heroin addiction. It will terrify your grandmother or a small child. It will stab your sister and leave her to rot and be eaten. Perhaps, vultures will find her at dawn. You are left without ambition or hope, surrounded by darkness. That is when you know you are experiencing superb black metal.

Related links:

Trident - World Destruction (Regain Records)
By Sara Heitman (

According to bass guitar player Alexander Friberg, "We have only one plan, one goal. That is to conquer the fucking the people that Trident are here to stay...and we don't fuck around." Those are some daring ambitions for a band like Trident who have only been present since late 2007. The members of this newly formed blackened death metal band from Sweden, however, are no strangers to the music world. With the exception of the lead guitarist Ewo Solvelius, each musician has come from a background of previously established bands. Johan Norman, the rhythm guitarist, originally played with Soul Reaper and Dissection. Alex was previously in Necrophobic and Karneywar, and Tobias Sidegard, the vocalist, was also from Necrophobic. Jonas Blom, the drummer, played with Grief of Emerald. They came together to create a new sound. The result? World Destruction.

A dramatic introduction. Open curtains. We are dragged into "The Trident" with slow, melodic metal. Drums, strings, and woodwinds. The majestic three-pronged spear rises slowly from beneath a darkened abyss. Abruptly, we are smacked straight down to hell to meet the "Jaws of Satan." Helplessly clinging by fingertips, slipping from the sharp fangs of the dark lord himself. Complete with blast beats and killer shreds, this is the most monumental song. It is energetic and angry. With a close second, "Luciferian Call" creates a frightful feeling. Imagine slowly searching for the killer who still sits inside your home. Suspiciously look around the corner of each riff and fear is in your heart. This one has sad and tragic moments with slow and pleading screams. In the end, all hope is lost and everything is dark.

Trident's style could be compared to the newly surfacing blackened death metal band Hate, from Poland, although not as extreme. Trident's vocals remain true to the black metal genre, rather than descending into the guttural growls which trademark death metal. They bring to mind the sound of a saw ripping through wood. For a debut album, the music is very well written and clearly recorded. It is important for music lovers to hear what each instrument is contributing to completely absorb the overall sound. This is true, especially with the level of intensity that Trident brings with World Destruction. All of the musicians in this band are obviously very talented; however, being talented and being innovative are two different things. There are unique pieces in each song that end up being drowned out by sounds that you would generally expect to hear from any other band of this genre.

In "Nemesis," the guitars emulate a sound as though they are sliding around and then bouncing off the walls with chaotic energy. The sliding guitar pulses follow the fast drums and angry growls. "Black Velvet Wings" presents an interesting technique where the guitars seem to mimic the distorted sound of an airplane's engine as it flies overhead. They become almost hypnotic with a to and fro pattern throughout "Stockholm Bloodbath," but you better stay on your toes with all the changes in timing. This would be a good song to play while running up and down the streets of Sweden smashing people's faces left and right! "Slaves to Anguish" grabs your attention with impressive guitar shreds in the beginning and leaves you feeling whipped and beaten to death by the drums. Threats of god sodomization signal “World Destruction," and the guitars toss their headstocks back with fluttery laughter. Buildings crumble and demolish. The countdown to the end.

"Blackened Souls" and "Mephisto" represent the calm before the storm and the aftermath. "Blackened Souls" is the breather track of the album as the only instrumental piece. It has peaceful acoustic sounds with a movie soundtrack quality. Short, simple, and sweet. The smoke has cleared and it is now apparent that there is nothing left in "Mephisto." Slow-paced and mournful, we are led to the world's funeral with solo upon epic solo. A final ring out, and it is over.

Overall, one can appreciate the work and thought put into the making of World Destruction. These are five talented musicians with an abundance of potential and a well-produced album. It is possible, because this is Trident's debut album, they have not quite found their own unique direction, which is a never-ending process for any band. However, their vision shines through in aspects of each song, and it would not be surprising if the next album that Trident releases is a powerful demonstration of their new set path.

Related links:

Monday, June 7, 2010

How to Stay Positive in a Changing Environment

With some recent negativity circulating around the call center, a contest has been created to try to lighten up the mood, or something. The winner gets 2 tickets to Sea World. Rhiis and I put our heads together and this is what we came up with. You think it's a winner?

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus once acknowledged that "nothing endures but change". Life itself, stripped to its fundamental root, is an infinite series of transformations and metamorphoses; a process that is indifferent to human convenience or preference. However, it is human nature to resist the relentless onslaught of change, and to create a sanctuary of stability and predictability for our own psychological comfort. Despite our need for repetition and pattern, does predictability really benefit us as much as embracing transformation could? When asked how one should stay positive in a changing environment, it is important to note the negative connotation attached to the word "change" in such a question. Our negative attitude towards transformation is apparent between the lines of the language we use to discuss it. Imagining a world without change, there would be no true learning experiences, adventure, risk, or opportunities for growth. There would be no place for personal reward or setting goals. Motivation to live a meaningful life would vanish because there would be no personal circumstances available for comparison. We would be forced to accept that what we have is what always will be - a fatalistic attitude entirely against the American spirit and contrary to the concept of capitalism. Change is the great perspective-giver, for every end is a new beginning, and every beginning an end.

In nature, society, and in business, the true key to success is adaptation. The world operates by a "survival of the fittest" mentality and those who are most resistant to change, whether personally or environmentally, are the first to be left behind in the new world. It is the people who embrace and actively engage in transformation who are the forerunners of innovation and positive development. Had Benjamin Franklin been averse to change, we might now be living without the luxuries of electricity, prescription lenses, and libraries. In fact, we owe the foundation of the United States of America to a group of people who believed that change can create a better world. They understood that change will not be easy, but that it is always necessary. While our circumstances are, more often than not, the product of our own choices, the attitudes that we carry determine our personal outcomes. By remaining positive and open towards new circumstances and developments, we are better equipped, psychologically, to deal with the challenges that change may bring. As the saying goes, "necessity is the mother of invention."

The greatest obstacle in remaining positive and open towards new developments is withstanding the endless barrage of negativity from the cultural mindset that we have been born into. This mindset has been conditioned to treat change with suspicion and fear, and to cling steadfastly to time-worn tradition no matter how meaningless and non-progressive that tradition may be. For the sake of progress, it is imperative to remain innovative in your own thought. You proactively formulate the way you will perceive and react to change rather than reactively accepting the picture that society has painted.

To stay positive in a changing environment, it is important to focus on what we do have and do value, rather than what we may or may not have and what we fear. Above all, embrace challenge. Find a way to redefine your value as an individual in the newly forming environment or context. By doing this, you assert your worth as an individual, someone who isn't valuable in only one set of circumstances but one who can adapt and be versatile. Behind every cloud is a silver lining. To truly stay positive in a changing environment, we must change the way we perceive change.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This was going to be my next entry for the 2010 launch of the official site, but unfortunately, due to an overwhelming amount of obstacles, Donnarc is no more. I feel this piece is worthy of sharing, and still fitting for the new year. Enjoy.

“Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three.” You have just survived the holidays. They get longer and more drawn out every year. Finally, it’s a new year- time for new beginnings, but also for retrospection.

I used to like Christmas. I used to think it was a magical time. Working retail Christmas years ago killed that magic. I was pushed over the ho-ho-horrible edge! A glimpse of a candy cane and I am now ready to hurt somebody. I’d rather stick a skewer into my eyeball than hear about Jesus and his eight tiny reindeer, or Santa asleep in the manger! People only buy their mother-cousin-uncle-boss a gift because they feel like they have to give them something; it is tradition. Also, don’t forget the everlasting Christmas carols! All I wanted to do was to get away from Jesus fucking Christ-mas.

So, I spent Christmas in Egypt. It was such a relief. There is virtually no Christmas in Egypt, and definitely no carols. What I hadn’t taken into account, however, was that a different kind of musical environment exists- this one year-round. The Adhan, Muslim call to prayer, starts around 5am everyday. A sheikh painfully howls the basic Muslim beliefs from mosques practically posted on every street corner. The words tumble across the land like moist nuggets of feces which are merrily slurped up by the submissive believer like a dog eating its own shit. This takes place five times a day, everyday, until the end of eternity. One becomes numb to it after a while. Eventually, however, it starts to become a handy time-teller throughout the day. It also made me notice just about how much music and religion go together- like eggnog and hard liquor.

Music is a big part of religion; it’s so catchy it’s ingrained. It affects you on a subconscious level- much like brainwashing! It also appeals to one’s emotions, which makes for something difficult to resist. Muslims live for the reward of an after-world of pure imagination, and they use a musical prayer outlining their beliefs to remind themselves daily. One intriguing branch of Islam uses music for worship in a different way. Sufis are more or less the black sheep of Islam and are described as the mystical dimension of the sect. Slow and sedate music accompanies the Sufi dance- a form of meditation designed to bring the dancer to a state of kemal or perfection. Allegedly, it reaches the soul of the dancer and awakens one’s consciousness. Spinning around in repetitive circles is compared to the movement of the planets around the sun. Everything from materials of the costume to the movements during the trance is symbolic of the steps toward purification. Witnessing the dance is like hypnosis, but it is colorful and passionate, and watching a man spin around in circles for an hour and a half is admirable on a certain level.

Have religion and music always danced cheek-to-cheek like Jesus and Santa? For Christians, that is like asking the chicken-or-the-egg question. The chicken came first because it was created. For those of us living in a world where snakes only slither (as opposed to talking) and all fruit is acceptable (as opposed to forbidden), there are more educated answers for their origins. Religion came about shortly after the development of language about 50,000 years ago; the human brain was then large enough to comprehend philosophical ideas, yet not filter out superstition. The oldest musical instrument discovered is 35,000 years old and is a vulture-bone flute from Germany. This discovery shows a society which drank beer and partied around the campfire long before Creationists claim God created the universe. Let me guess, just like fossils, the Devil planted the evidence to lead us astray.

Humor Judaic mythology for a moment and assume this is accurate. It makes perfect sense! After all, Lucifer was a musician, and is the prototype of a metal head! He was cast away from the obedient masses for having a rebellious attitude, pride, and refusal to conform. Like other angels, he started out child-like and na├»ve, but later he decided to exercise the ability to make choices and think. He didn’t do anything wrong except question authority and flirt with doubt. If there were a Handbook of Core Metal Values, Lucifer would be the author. Yet he received the ultimate punishment. Leading the “Fuck Authority” movement, his fall from grace served as the metaphorical seed of Metal buried in soil. I imagine his handbook’s opening sentence, “In the beginning, Lucifer said, ‘Let there be fucking Metal!’”

Rest in Peace, Donnarc.