Ok. So after splurging my last paycheck on an absolute tonne of stuff, from concert tickets to Blu-Rays of concerts (with a crap load of albums and graphic novels in there somewhere too) I’ve instituted the second “Don’t buy anything” month here on the blog, so as not to run out of money and get evicted from my house and have to build a nest out of 2nd-hand CDs from Zoverstocks and start eating Batman comics for sustenance. You can read how the first month turned out here.
I’m five days into the month and have so far managed to avoid buying anything (well, I’ve bought stuff like food and underwear, and paid bills. Y’know, its a challenge to stop buying stuff like CDs and DVDs more so than spending no money whatsoever. I’m not Bear Grills), luckily because I’ve been distracted mostly by Uni and by all the stuff I’d already bought which was too much stuff to even mentally process in the time that I’d bought it.
I wouldn’t have to do this if I wasn’t so very tempted to buy so much stuff all the time. You may be wondering what exactly is tempting me at the minute. Well, I’ll tell you.
As is to be expected with my brain; the temptations are actually coming through in several compartmentalized strands. I’m very compartmentalization-centric. First off; Circles, Annihilator, Dillinger Escape Plan, and several other bands are playing my city soon. I’d get tickets for them if there weren’t clashes, worries about being tired for work or at work or them being in weird small clubs in unfamiliar locations. I’d also like to go out and scalp some tickets for Arctic Monkeys and Queens Of The Stone Age’s concerts, since they sold out too quickly for me to get tickets. Though, I’m too skeptical to ever do that, even if I wasn’t in a no-spending mood, since I’d be too afraid of getting fake tickets or something. Biohazard are playing here soon too. I’d love to see them, but they clash with Queensryche. Yeah, exactly.
I terms of comics, I really want to read the Death Of The Family book that’s coming out this month, but its hardcover, which I don’t like as much as paperback (backwards I know, but its more comfortable to read). I would like to but the hardcover to get it sooner, but I think I’ll wait since I’ve already had the story spoiled in a podcast so there’s no time imperative to reading it. On top of that, I also want EVERY BATMAN BOOK EVER. Mad Monk and Heart Of Hush are priority, since I can get them both for cheap. Other contenders include everything that my friend Magnum recommends to me, such as Gotham Central or the rest of the books Grant Morrison did that I haven’t got already (I’ve got The Black Glove Deluxe and Batman R.I.P courtesy of good old Magnum). I also like the sound of Batman Year 100 based on a podcast, because it apparently emphasizes the amount of planning that goes into a Batman operation, making it like the Ocean’s Eleven of Batman stories. Sounds interesting.
Visually, I’d like to buy complete boxsets of The Life And Times Of Tim, 30 Rock, The Office (US Version), Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad and any shows I watch but don’t have the full set to hand. But that can wait until I’m employed in a proper professional-wage job in two years. Then I’ll catch up. Its a bit too much of a commitment to grab them all at once nowadays, but I do definitely plan to collect all my favourites, especially once they’ve finnished for good and have big Complete-Collection boxsets with extras and stuff.
Blu-Ray wise, there’s new stuff from Kreator, Testament, Black Label Society, Black Sabbath and a few others. I like concert Blus as you well know. I’ll wait though. I accidentally posted my Sabbaton Blu to my parent’s house instead of mine, so I have to wait for one’s I’ve already bought anyway.
Musically, there’s some stuff that’s semi-interesting me such as the newest Soulfly, Carcass, Amon Amarth, Chidren Of Bodom, Tesseract, Van Halen and others. I think Five Finger Death Punch have a new one dropping pretty soon. The last one was good, I’d like more. I know some people are not fans of repeating the same formula endlessly, but I think you can get away with five in a row before needing a big change.
I’d also like to get two or three of the surrounding Sick Of It All albums to the one that I recently got, especially the live album Live In A Dive. I don’t think I’d become a full-discography fan, but maybe the next three in line after Scratch The Surface would be nice.
In the light of all this Protest The Hero love I’ve been dripping with lately, I want to listen to Botch, Carbomb and Sikth albums in full. I probably wouldn’t like them anywhere near as much, but I’d certainly find it educational. In light of all the Grunge, I want some Mudhoney, especially Superfuzz Bigmuff. I also want the remaining Deris-era Helloween albums that I’ve not got yet, especially Gambling With The Devil since I love “The Bells Of Seven Hells” so much. I wish Helloween and Gamma Ray, who had been touring together recently, would do a dual tour and play Manchester. I’d love to see that. Helloween seem to be in South America at the moment though, so I can’t see them playing Manchester anytime soon.
I also can’t stop listening to Minor Threat songs on Youtube or via iTunes Store previews, and really want to buy their Complete Discography CD. Not a bad release ey? All their EPs, demos and their album on one CD. Sounds good to me. A nice easy and cheap band to get into. I’d like that, as well as the debut albums by D.O.A, Bad Brains, Black Flag & Dead Kennedys. Damn that American Hardcore documentary! I think a full-time Hardcore Punk exploration would be too much for me, but a whistlestop tour of the big highlights would be nice for me. (Yes I know D.O.A are Canadian).
Y’know what else? I’ve been nostalgically listening to the track “Inhale/Exhale” by Nasum and I’d like to pick up that album. It’d be a bit of a wildcard in my music library, but still. Nothing wrong with a one-off if its good. Look how well trusting Melechesh turned out.
I’ve also been lusting after big boxsets from Kings X, Whitesnake, Blue Oyster Cult, UFO and Kansas, although with boxsets you always loose a lot of the songs forever in the scrum. I got Motorhead and Faith No More boxsets and some of the songs, no matter how much I listen to them somehow never stick, and I got Foghat, Mountain and ZZ Top boxsets where very little has stuck at all. (Well, Foghat are way more “perma-remembered” than the other two, but the sentence worked better with three entries.)
On the prog front I want anything from Leprous, Hakken and Karnivool. I also want more Cog. I can’t believe I still haven’t got Riverside’s debut, how has that happened?
Ok. So. To distract myself from wanting to buy all or any of that I’m going to have a listen to some stuff from my musical past and talk about it.
First up. Strapping Young Lad. I was always told that I was supposed to like Strapping Young Lad as a teenager by magazines, friends and even strangers in pubs (really!) because I liked Fear Factory. My brother bought this record and neither of us “got it.” It just washed over us both. It ended, and all I got was, “what was the point of that?” When Byron and Gene actually ended up in Fear Factory, I was supposed to care even more, but by this stage after about a quarter of one song, I’d just turn this off. Boring and not-for-me I thought.
Gene ended up working with Testament and I had a slight interest again, especially after the podcasts I was listening to were very much in love with both Gene and Devin. I like Devin a bit as a personality but the music he makes is just slightly out of my sphere-of-enjoyment more often than it’s in.
I was further re-interested because City clearly fit into the 1,000 albums that Metal fans should hear project that I spent so much time thinking about in the last year.
I’ll try it one more time.
‘Velvet Kevorkian’ opens the record. Sound effects. Noise washing like the ends of a song at a concert. A big build up with weirdly produced guitars, electronic sounding drums. Lots of electronics bubbling away in the background. It was an intro. Sort of like the one on the most recent Slipknot album.
‘All Hail The New Flash’ starts off with some music that I guess sounds like a mixture between Iowa era Slipknot and Archetype era Fear Factory (played with a sort of Extreme Metal ferocity though) and vocals that work in Tom Araya mechanics, up until the clean bit comes in. Then they’re working along Archetype Burton mechanics. This came out way before Archetype. I guess at the time Demanufacture would be a much more valid comparison.
Gosh. Its bloody noisy. The actual vocals, guitar and drums are interesting enough, in a savage 90s Metal sort of way. The only problem is the horrible production and all the extra stuff going off just hurts my ears, its literally giving me an actual headache. At the 4 minute mark, the most Slipknot thing that Slipknot didn’t write in musical history happens. Then it goes a bit dull. They should’ve followed that with a big slow groove. Or a Hatebreed style breakdown. They could’ve got away with it back then. Before Extreme Metal fans would be on the lookout for it.
‘Oh My Fucking God’ opens up next. It sounds a bit Ministry-esque for a few seconds before being super Death Metal sounding, and then doing a bit more Archetype stuff. Then throwing in some nice Thrashy bits and following that with a nice staccato groove with harmonics. 90s Metal happiness. After another go around, they drop a great big groove like they should’ve last time. The next three or four parts are great. Then there’s a bit that’s intentionally obnoxious and overly-noisy just for novelty value. I like this song a lot better than the last one, but that bit is a bit of yawn-inducer if I’m honest. I suppose this album’s unique selling point is all the extra crap I’m finding annoying so there’s no point complaining about it too much, because its very much “Well why are you even listening to SYL then?”
‘Detox’ comes in next. It’s the best thing on the album so far. It sounds like Fear Factory tonally, but its got a bouncier Punk Vibe that Green-era Sepultura would be more at home with than Fear Factory. There’s a cool drum pattern that comes in every so often that sounds like a lot of fun to play. There’s some really interesting stuff around the three-minute mark. Maybe a bit like ‘Replica’ or something. It sort of reminds me of Green Day in a way I absolutely cannot either articulate or explain (even to myself). It feels about two minutes too long, like the first song did.
‘Home Nucleonics’ opens up with some fairly standard noisy pounding but in a good way. Then it cuts to some mechanical sounding stuff that makes me hear the Fear Factory similarity a bit better. There’s actually some cool riffs here and there. Its got a lot more variety in it than the previous songs did, which is interesting because its shorter. One of the riffs reminds me of Mick from Slipknot. I’ve never heard it acknowledged whether or not this album was influential on them, but it certainly sounds it. The end of this song sounds like it was the direct influence for the very end of at least two songs on their debut and also the intro to ‘Get This.’
‘AAA’ starts off with an uncharacteristically Korn-sounding riff, only if you listen to it with squinted ears you get a sort of Proggy vibe off it. This is perhaps the most dated sounding thing on the record. The rest of it was influencing future bands. This one has very much got the Korn/Coal Chamber vibe to it. They’ve also got a clearer production and they’ve toned down all that noisy stuff in the background, so its less challenging on the listener. I wonder if this was the single. That’d make sense.
The way the guitars work reminds me a bit of Diatribes/Inside The Torn Apart era Napalm Death. There’s actually a cool bit around the 2.50 mark that sounds exactly like that 90s Napalm Death stuff. When they bring back the Korn riff at the end with even cleaner production it sounds a lot easier on the ears than the majority of the album.
‘Underneath The Waves’ is a very fast, bustly and heavy track to balance things out. Its got a slight Gothenburg tinge to its chorus, a sort of Minsitry feel to its verses and a very, very Fear Factory sounding pre-chorus and post—chorus. Its also better than everything that’s come before. Then there’s a bit that’s just Exodus (which I welcome). It should sound out of place to just rip off ‘Strike Of The Beast’ in the middle of this album, but hey, if its good its good. Y’know?
‘Room 429’ opens up sounding like a Power Metal intro, it’s a bit darker a creepier than Hammerfall but you still expect it to break into a big “melodic vocals over double-kicks and dual guitar harmonies” verse about wizards saving princesses from dragons, by using the power of Heavy Metal. Then instead, it just sort of stays in this place, like some weird circus in hell. It sounds like being on a literal elevator constructed by The Joker that serves as a metaphor for the descent into madness. It sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to one of those American McGee’s Alice games. Except the bits that come in every so often that sound like Manowar intros. They sound like they could be on the soundtrack to Lord Of The Rings. It’s a strange mixture for sure.
The final track is called ‘Spirituality.’ It starts off with slow menacing, Terminator soundtrack inspired noisy post-thrash hanging. For about two minutes. Then it gets a bit more interesting when all the off-centre chugs and the talking vocals come in. It’s a bit too slow for me. The background sound effects sound like Drills and just annoy my ears. After a while it takes an interesting slightly melodic Faith No More turn that brings some welcome respite. It just sort of stays there for four minutes until the end. The song sounded like the fourty second outro to a normal band’s song stretched out into a full song. Then a speak and spell says “Strapping Young Lad Rocks My Hairy Anus” and the album closes.
Yup. That album is definitely not for me. The whole Devin is a mad professor thing that you hear people say definitely applies, but its not necessarily a good thing. I don’t get a sense of fun, and the humour isn’t my particular favourite style. I think the wackiness was a bit much for me to be fair, and that’s interesting because this is meant to be the more toned-down and serious side of Devin. After hearing this album, I imagine Ziltoid might just irritate me rather than be as fun as it looks. It does look fun. I don’t usually like fun though to be honest. I’m not the kind of person who buys Tenacious D or Steel Panther albums anyway, so fun and music don’t go togther unless its like, that riff is fun. Rather than, “here’s some poor comedy.” Or “Check out the novelty value of us playing this unusual music.” Which is interesting, because I nominally love prog, so surely the novelty value of unusual music should be one of my big turn-ons. I guess you just have to understand the subtle difference between Prog and obnoxious wackiness. Anyway, even if I liked the wackiness here, the production wasn’t to my tastes and most of these songs last five and a half minutes but only have enough ideas for three and a half. Its just not a lost gem in my collection unfortunately.
Damn. I have a full on banging headache after that. Paracetamol time. Thanks a lot Devin.
Ah well, not every album is for everyone. If you think you might like this, feel free to try it. Its just not something I’m going to rush out and listen to again any time soon.
I’ll try listen to something a bit smoother next.
How about a bit of ZZ Top then? I’ll go for 1979’s Deguello because I’m the least familiar with it out of all the ones that I’ve got. I already mentioned that despite buying this ages ago, I have absorbed almost none of it. It opens with ‘I Thank You.’ This song opens with a slow, pleasant mixture of Zeppelin style bluesy sounds, Skynyrd and Blackfoot style Southern Charm, and the sort of Boogie shuffle of Foghat. Should be right up my alley then. It’s a shame it fades out on the guitar solo. I like guitar solos. Devin goes on too long, these guys go off before they’re finished.
‘She Loves My Automobile’ is a 12 Bar Blues with some characterful vocals, a lovely 1950s sounding guitar solo and some background horns that aren’t annoying. (Background horns often annoy me in Skynyrd, GnR and Extreme’s music). This sounds like it would play in the background in a mechanic’s in a videogame. The end guitar bit sounds like a lot of fun.
‘I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide’ is very Foghat sounding. A pleasant shuffley boogie. The production is very clear. The guitar solo has a lot of character. After about three minutes it speeds up and gets very exciting.
‘A Fool For Your Stockings’ sounds very much like a slower Blusier track on a 70s Rock album. Heart, Zeppelin, Foghat, even Deep Purple all have moments like this (although Deep Purple did it in the 90s). Again, very nice, character filled guitar solos. That seems to be the M.O. for this album; simple pleasant songs with long enjoyable guitar solos.
‘Manic Mechanic’ follows that. Its quite short. It opens with a weird rhythm and cowbell percussion beat that reminds me of King Crimson circa Lark’s Tongues and Yes’ extra shorter songs on Fragile. The vocals are gimmicky, but the music is really interesting and innovative.
‘Dust My Broom’ is another shuffly boogie. There’s very enjoyable lead guitar throughout. I’m not sure if it’s a 12 bar blues or not, but it sounds like it might be. I can’t add anything new here. Pleasant short song, brilliant lead guitar.
‘Lowdown In The Street’ has a very fun attitude. It sounds like what you imagine Brent Hind’s mind would sound like, before he went insane. So, not Psychobilly, but just a fun Southern Groove.
‘Hi Fi Mama’ is the first sort of faster Hard Rock moment, although there’s horns and stuff de-heavying it a bit. Still. Very fun. I’d like to drive on the American highway while listening to this song as part of a montage in a documentary about the perfect Steak. I could star alongside the actor who plays Buddy in Friday Night Lights.
‘Cheap Sunglasses’ is great fun. It’s such a danceable groove. It makes me feel like I’m up to some Robert Downey Junior millionaire playboy antics. The guitar solo sounds like a Miami nighttime beach in the 80s.
‘Esther Be The One’ is another high quality track. Its hard to describe. Its got a slightly more emotional tone that’s not dark, or melancholy, but its got something to it that the others don’t have. Its very interesting. All the usual compliments to the guitar work apply. The songwriting here is better too, the vocal patterns are catchier. I think it might be the best ZZ Top song I’ve heard so far. I really like it. It’s got this brilliant drum beat at the three minute mark and the whole section that this beat belongs to should be the credits-music of a TV show.
That was a very strong end to the album. It’s a weird album, because its short and sweet, and each song is short and sweet, and nothing special happens at all really, and there’s barely anything for a rock fan to cling to, its just sort of shapeless, but its brilliant. Somehow. Its hard to say why, but its really enjoyable. It could have done with three songs that sound like ‘Heard It On The X’ to anchor it in Rock Fan mental-territory, but even without that, its just very good. Its also nice and soothing after that noisy SYL album. Clear and clean production, easily digestible structures, un-busy music. Delightful.
Ok. Instead of doing a full other album, since I’ve got this headache, I’m just going to list a few thoughts.
1. The best Batman stories I’ve read so far are Black Mirror and Gates Of Gotham.
2. The Dredd film is very good.
3. The three best songs on the new Babyshambles albums are ‘Fall From Grace’ ‘Maybaline’ and the Title Track.
4. Deris era Helloween is an acquired taste, but it is definitely underrated.
5. Tool should stop trying to be special and just release a normal live DVD like everyone wants.
6. Everyone should stop trying to special by interrupting live DVDs with interviews footage, documentary sections or animations and just play a single concert shot in a single event at a time. If you want to do the extra stuff, have it as a separate option.
7. The music video for Sick Of It All’s ‘District’ makes playing bass look very fun.
8. The extra audio range in Blu-Rays makes watching Blu-Rays of action films difficult at night if you don’t want to annoy your neighbors. If you get it loud enough that you can hear the dialogue, an on-screen door slam, explosion or gunshot will deafen you and soak through the walls into next door.
9. The cop in Little Miss Sunshine who likes porno mags is Hank from Breaking Bad.
10. I mentioned Foghat too much in this article.