Monday, September 26, 2011

Non-metal is the new Metal?

It's not secret music outside the bounds of metal is a huge influence on what we band our heads to. It trickles down from musicians pulling from a broader range of influences to listeners , who in the age of mix cd's to Ipods have wider taste buds , even back on the days of myspace the dude with corpse paint on in the music section, would have the random vnv nation or skinny puppy listed. so listening to other forms of music has been acceptable to some extent, though not as widely embraced in the troll circles of sites like metal sucks or blabbermouth.
Recent headlines show Metallica, teaming up with lou reed and Mastodon's latest album full of Thin Lizzy inspired phrasing, but even the more brutal purveyors of real metal ...not what Lars and co try to pass off, such Erik Danielson of Watain who claims he wouldn't be making music if it wasn't for Feilds of Nephilim, who Behemoth also claims as an influence. Varg has said in interview aside from classical music the only band he listens to is the Cure, and Carpathian Forest have covered them. Goth is of an only once removed cousin to metal, the two are more closely intertwined than you average fan might care to admit.
So today we are going to look at ten non metal " bands" the term use more loosely in some instances , if you are going to listen to stuff that's not metal i think tonally it should be a comfortable shift in the ipod , some of it is music that is heavy and dark in mood rather than in chugging guitar.
first off my most recent obsession
1-Zola -Jesus, ... why a metal head would dig it well it's dark and has a subtle abrasive quality to , the siouxsie influences front and center , the vocals both beautiful and almost ominous , un happy electronica , noise under tones, if you don't like female singers or keyboards , this isn't for you but if the yeah yeah yeahs are too upbeat then here you go
2-Rasputina... i had dated more girls who liked this band than any other, so had a prejudice against them until last fm wised me up, mainly cellos and drums, smatterings of piano and other instruments are present like scattered parts of a porcelain doll hit with a hammer, sure the singer sounds like a spoiled child from the Victorian era but the song writing and bizarre lyrical content makes up for it
3-Murder By Death... by their name you prolly though these guys were metal any way, if you checked them out you found it was former members of Cursive making dark western music whose closest relative is maybe Morphine, while they do rock out in their own way it is never through blunt force, the occasional screamed vocal comes into the back ground normally low in the mix ,
4-Slow Dive... highly regarded in the shoe gaze circles, for fans of Alcest who are ready to take the plunge into the real thing, i think most fans of dsbm could appreciate them as well, the guitar sound drowns you as it add as flood to your rainy day
5- Tiger-Army... if you listen to punk rock or dated a chick who has you might have already heard these guys, the pattern with all my picks so far is they are dark, these guys could fall into psycho-billy, the punk edge is still there, like a fusion of A.f.i and chris isaak at times , no not the really duran duran ish A.F.I, though he doesn't ever shred per se, i think guitarists can appreciate their chops, they have balls to them and sing about death as well.
6- Blonde Redhead... ok you can listen to them with out becoming a total hipster now, very experimental while maintaining, drugged out pop hooks..that's popin the carpenters manner of speaking not Katy Perry , their guitar swirls around you like methadone cotton candy, they can be intense at times with out pouring on the loud
7-Aesop Rock...yes this is rap, but it doesn't make you feel like a your are pretty fly for a white guy for listening to it as he is very intelligent and subversive, spits out some pretty grim images and isn't laying on the bass to rattle your car but more challenging sonic landscapes , a very unique rap voice as well
8-the decemberists ... like rush if you judge them by the radio songs you aren't getting a very clear picture of what they actually do this is the only prog band i am putting on here because , most of you i expect already are familiar with yes and king crimson, sure there are acoustic guitar's and Colin's bright vocal tone , but he sings about murder normally grisly murder like macabre would write about , so if you aren't into prog , you still might like these guys , his placement of melody is catchy and unique, while their radio exposure has the wrong people listening to them they are still one of my favorite bands selling out and all
9-Skinny Puppy...i have already praised the Swans, so this is the next most metal non metal band after them, they have every thing you need from a metal band with out being metal... harsh toned vocals , slicing guitar samples, they match Carcass in the lyrical department, don't let the drum machines scare you away
10-Diamanda Galas - she's the only one on this list not already in my ipod, i'm not sure why she isn't , i think i tried to find the album she did with john paul jones online and couldn't and tapes don't convert over so well, any way more satanic than 90 percent of your black metal , she 's fucked up and not fucking around , check out her black mass, she makes gospel music evil and is on a Rotting christ what more do you need

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Swans live sept 16th

While not by most definitions metal ,live Swans crush almost every metal band i have seen, the elder states men of post/ rock , sludge and industrial . they opened last night with about ten minutes of feed back before Micheal Gira took the stage to build into the crescendo with the opener from their most recent album " my father will guide me up a rope to sky, in their two half hour set the songs from this album dominated the set the only old song was the jarboe sung" i ", Gira handled the vocals to give the song a different meaning, he flailed his arms like a much younger man, once the sound level's even out in the mix his voice retained it's warm rich baritone resonance , evident on the closer "eden prison" and the rare encore of " little mouth".
They played the new song apostate which live version have circulated on youtube this summer, if any indication of the direction the songs to come are taking it is clear from Gira's howls , the have come back to prove they wrote the book on what the kids of today like Boris, Earth, and Jesu have laid claim to in past 14 years Gira has been exploring experimental country with Angels of Light.
Newcomer Chris Pravdica's bass playing was fluid and powerful under current
One of the highlight's was when multi instramentalist Thor Harris put down the mallets, in favor of other instruments like a clarinet , violin, or Appalachian dulcimer, allowing the expansive sonic pallet of the band to become fully
realized. Kristof Hahn's heavily delayed pedal steel created a mournful cacophony of surreal ambiance as the counter point, their trademark searing bright guitar tones.
I will admit, the urge to hear songs like "killing for company" or " Blood Promise" was a subtle itch amidst the pummeling, where on the albums the more melodic sections provide a hypnotic interlude, but the evening was more focused on Micheal Gira's wardance. He flailed and stomped into the clubbing chords creating a wall of sonic blunt force. Despite this i have the upmost respect for Gira to look forward rather than back, their legacy intact rather than a trek through the nostalgia, he could have brought Jarboe back for that, the only remnant of the good ol days was classic albums at the merch table , balance out in equal parts with discs of their current solo endeavors.
the band made themselves easily accessible in the lobby after the show and the sincerity in Gira's firm handshake was an example of a rare legend with integrity, after seeing a show like this it makes you re-think the other shows you had planned on attending in the near future as the bar is raised so high on many levels.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Post Dragon-con review

If you don't know what dragon is then, refer to my willsmashforcomics blog. While metal is for the most part a largely neglected subculture at dragon-con who leans more towards goth... though i suspect , if a poll of attendees were taken the metal heads would out number the goths, as goth is a somewhat stagnant genre commonly more associated with the fashion more than the music which is a very broad umbrella with no defining characteristics like metal , both dead can dance and christian death fall under it's canvas but neither sound a like. where with metal as some point you know there is going to be distorted guitar crunching down sooner or later , though more often than not sooner.
So judging by t-shirts alone, Kamelot is gaining popularity even with the departure of roy khan as there was an overabundance of shirts from the new tour, also folk metal has taken a foot hold as i saw ,eluveitie and korpiklaani shirts and had a conversation in line about moonsorrow with a guy.
of course always have to bring metal into the picture i injected it into two panels , one in the alternate history track on vikings , when the topic turned on the Christianization of norway , i brought up the church burning done by black metal bands as being a national socialist movement of course then went over their heads . secondly in the goth is the new goth panel , which was one the changing face of goth, the emphasis was place on hipster indie rock bands with goth influence, i brough up the influx of black metal bands with goth influences , ...lets see watain, behemoth, Burzum... varg has said the cure is the old band he listens to outside of classical music. once again met with confusion, doc hammer brought up celtic frost saying they did it but that scen was on a stagnant flatline, the singer of bella morte claimed to have been a metal head citing metallica and iron maiden ...which are much more mainstream, the bass player of loss who was the panel's moderator was the only one who got it . i got the chance to speak to him briefly as well , his only comment about the decent album was ..well its been getting some good reviews .
so a weak weekend for metal... the cruxshadows are the most popular band at this con and they are basically monotone pop in black , though their britney spears like back up dance had on pink to keep it real .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Opeth - Heritage

So by now you know the album has leaked , and i will keep this brief because i doubt there will be a lack of coverage and there are more underground bands who deserve the space on here , an Opeth release can't be over looked though with this album there was a moment of questioning if i should include it on here as it's not really what would be considered metal. Prog -rock yes, and it was no secret Akerfeldt was abandoning the use of growled vocals. His clean singing is stronger , though not as rock n roll as he hinted in interviews he gave earlier in the year There are moments where the songs drive in a forceful manner like the 2nd half of " the lines in my hand" or the slight chug to folk lore, the first song that has really grabbed me, but unless i need repeated listens there are not many moments which reach beyond being heavier than their friends in Porcupine Tree, a non-metal band with a large metal following.
The jam band element often brings me to expect a " hello bonnaroo " in-between songs, the muscle in the bass playing keeps it from gong into total phish territory, the swing and groove to most songs overshadows the darker elements which were prevalent in Opeth's music almost making the first half of the album too happy for me, the last few songs it begins to darken. The rhythm section shines here, the drumming and bass playing take center in a way not unlike King Crimson or Tool. Fans of the Damnation album will feel comfortable with this one and love the acoustic intervals , but if you are looking for another " your arms my hearse" uh ...not so much . since it is so well done i don't think this is going to get the same kinda reaction Morbid Angel received and they will either lose more of their metal base and pick up the jam kids who where on the fence with them.