Category Archives: Ramblings

Thoughts about all things metal, from metal truisms to thoughts about the music we hear.

Sorry, Opeth!


When we Metal State reviewers gave the round table treatment to Opeth’s “Pale Communion” earlier this year I was less than flattering about the album. I said it wasn’t hard enough to be good metal or inventive enough to be good prog.

It isn’t metal. It is, however, damn fine heavy prog rock. That is what Opeth intended it to be, I believe, and that’s what it became.

Opeth and their industry associates haven’t said anything about the review. Nor have my fellow reviewers or any Opeth fans. It’s my conscience that’s been smacking me on both earholes.

I did update my comments and rating of the album in our published review, but such things tend to go unnoticed. If we’re wrong — not necessarily when we’re told we’re wrong but when we know it deep inside ourselves — we should retract and correct. It gives me the greatest of pleasure to concede how very wrong I was about “Pale Communion”. The more I listen to it, the more I know it’s one of the best prog albums of the year.

 

Know your enemy: Auto-Tune


auto-tune-poster

Thus far, metal has remained largely immune to Auto-Tune, the insidious technology that does what this poster says. Auto-Tune is now standard equipment in just about every recording studio. In brief, it is used to turn an off-key note into an in-tune note. As a result, the bands and singers who use Auto-Tune on their recordings sound nothing like they do in live performances… unless they mime their singing to an Auto-Tuned track.

There have been accusations — or maybe they’re just unfounded suspicions — that a couple of metal bands have used the technology to make their albums sound better. That could be very risky since metal fans who know anything about Auto-Tune are united in their hatred of it.

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Know your enemy: Dynamic Range Compression


DSC

More and more bands are releasing limited editions of their albums on vinyl. This is not just to meet a demand from the nostalgic who enjoy the physical packaging and feel of an LP more than a CD. These days it is generally true that music sounds better on vinyl than on CD.

It shouldn’t. With the great advances in digital sound technology, a CD or high-quality digital music file should sound identical to the best-quality analog recording on vinyl – to the human ear, anyway.

There’s a big problem with a lot of digital music, though. It’s called Dynamic Range Compression (DRC).

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Marty Friedman picks himself


Elsewhere on the Internet I’m playing a fantasy band game with a bunch of metal people. We take turns to pick a line-up of musicians, one at a time, to make up our perfect fantasy band.

Yesterday Marty Friedman hit me with his axe and said: “Ahem! Guitarist.” I’m sure those exact words came through my speakers.

Marty was guitar man for Megadeth in the final decade of last century. This century he’s done a string of gleaming solo albums. This song is from his new album, Inferno, due for release on 27 May. Maybe Marty won’t do guitars for my first fantasy band, which will have an all-female line-up, but I sincerely hope I get to pick him in the next round before anyone else does. He is such a complete all-round axeman that he could excel in just about any type of metal.

 

Metal Meets Yoga


cropped-mudra-sans-faceIn the last couple of months I picked up this thing called yoga.  You might have heard of it.  That thing where you do strength and flexibility poses and it’s supposed to make you strong, limber, and cleansed in the mind and body.  Ask a yogi and they will probably give you a more philosophical answer to what yoga does for a body.  In layman’s terms, all I can tell you is that I feel freakin’ good when it’s over.  I am getting more flexible and stress-free and that’s kind of important at my ripe old age of 40.  I attribute my progress specifically to my twice-weekly sessions.  See, only twice a week and I have come so far.  Who says they don’t have time for this?  Anyway.  When it’s over, I feel like all I need is a shower and a bed – I feel so relaxed.  Something must be working and I found that I am starting to “need” these yoga sessions twice a week.  It’s kind of addicting. Read the rest of this entry

The Great Black Metal Debate


Is  old-school, uncompromising black metal better or worse than the modern styles of progressive, atmospheric, melodic or symphonic black metal? Or are they equally good in their different ways?

This topic sparks more frequent discussions, debates or fights than most metal topics. Some fans are so biased towards either the old or the new approach that they steadfastly refuse to listen to the other approach.

I won’t take sides. I will make one technical observation which has nothing to with the music itself – modern black metal does generally seem to benefit from better engineering and production.

This video was posted on YouTube a few years ago. It’s still very relevant and interesting. So… what do you think?

 

 

Turn Your BBQ into a GWAR BQ


gwar-beerzIt seems to have become a trend for bands to further their marketability out side of T-Shirts and back patches and into the realm of one of metals favorite things.  Alcohol.  Unfortunately, when this trend started many bands seemed to think wine was the best path to take.  Well, in my humble opinion, fuck that.  Metal ain’t no wine sipping music, and quite honestly, wine puts me right to sleep, and that ain’t something I want to be doing while at a metal show or raging against the machine with my buddies in their backyard while grilling up copious amounts of food.  What I want in my heavy metal branded alcohol is what any rational, x-chromosome metalhead would want.  Some ice-cold beer.  Really, I thought that was a no brainer?

Anywho, it seems that some bands got my dearth of angry letters and bands like Iron Maiden, The Sword, Clutch, and others have started brewing their own craft beers, with the Iron Maiden one being especially tasty.  But not to be left in the dust heavy metal legends GWAR have now began manufacturing their own brew.  What really catches me about their beer is that instead of going with the fancy craft brew in those fancy-shmancy bottles, they have opted for average Joe Shmoe cans.  So you could say Clutch’s beer is like a nice Long Trail Ale Double Bag brew and GWAR’s is like a Bud.  Both serve their purposes for the beer aficionado.  Really, pounding craft brews by the 30 pack is just not a great idea if you’re at a BBQ, but if you have an ice filled cooler topped off with cans of Bud you can suck them back without fear of vomiting up hundreds of dollars worth of brew later in the evening.  So bravo GWAR on tapping that market.

So, start warming up the BBQ coals and send your significant other to the store with explicit instructions to by GWAR BQ Brew and get your midsummer partying on.  Also watch the below commercial for GWAR beer, it’s pretty damn funny.  And if you live near or around the Richmond, VA area celebrate the launch of GWAR beer at the GWAR BQ festival (info here). Peace Love and Metal!!!!

And on a side note, where the fuck is my heavy metal whiskey!?

America! F**k Yeah!!!!!


fyeahamerica-montageSo today is the 4th of July.  The day the whole world celebrate just how awesome the U.S.A. is and the citizens of the States celebrate their superiority in the world by getting rip-roaring drunk, eating their own weight in meat, buying explosives from other countries (mainly China), and blowing shit up.  It’s damn good time for all.  How do you celebrate the 4th of July in your country?

But in all seriousness the 4th of July, also known as Independence Day, is one of the most loved holidays in the United States.  Families and friends get together and party hard in celebration of the day the States gained their independence from the British and marks the start to what is easily one of the most controversial countries in the world.  One thing I love about America is the deep and diverse culture we Americans have.  Having so many immigrants from so many different parts of the world has led to this mish mash of random mannerisms from other countries that lends its self to letting an American have a taste of the rest of the world without having to leave the country’s borders (which is a double-edged sword).  But the thing I love most about the States is the music.  Always a trendsetter in the aural entertainment market some of the most loved aspects of music originated in the States, like you know, the blues, which is the base of rock and roll and by proxy heavy metal.

Today I’m just going to brain fart out some songs and bands that make me think of the stars and strips, amber waves of grain, and sea to shining sea as well as other things love about the U.S.A.   Enjoy!!!  Peace Love and Fuck Yeah!!!!

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Heavy Metal Movies (That Aren’t Documentaries)


trick-or-treat-08Like most people in the world, I too am also a big fan of movies.  A movie buff per sè.  Also being a metal head I like to keep my ear to the ground for any movie themed around my favorite style of music, and surprising enough, there are quite a lot of them.  The downside, the majority of heavy metal themed movies are documentaries.  While they are for the most part very good, documentaries aren’t my usual go to genre when I want to pop a flick on.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional documentary (really, if you haven’t seen Heavy Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey yet, make that first order of business), but works of fiction resonate with me more.  So in my many years of watching many films (with a particular taste for dumb as fuck and campy as hell slasher/horror flicks) I’ve built up a decent library, and surprisingly there are quite a few movies with heavy metal themes.

Here are some really great flicks to check out which all revolve around heavy metal in some way.  To not just become yet another replicated list on the internet I’m leaving off some of the most obvious choices since I would imagine that you readers have already seen them.  So if you haven’t yet seen the titular Heavy Metal, Wayne’s World, This is Spinal Tap, Hesher, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Airheads, The Pick of Destiny, Rock Star, and Detroit Rock City, all of those should be very high on your viewing list.  Here are some of the more ‘underground’ films you may have looked over…. Hope you like shitty slasher flicks (protip: many featured here can be found in full on Youtube ;) )  If you know of any movies that are themed on heavy metal not featured in this list give them a shout out in the comments.  Enjoy!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

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Musings of the Heavy Metal Hippie: Quake Meat by Astra and Voyage/Paralysis by Diagonal


space-hubble-2010_1622267iI haven’t done one of these in a while, sorry about that. I have however came across a couple of bands that really do fit the bill for my Heavy Metal Hippie moniker quite well. Stoner psychedelic hard prog rock. Just let that glorious genre name sink in a bit. Beautiful, isn’t it. You get the thick grooves of the Stoner genre, that ’60s/’70s classic feel with the Psychedelic and Prog, plus the edge of hard rock. Surely some kind of witchcraft. I totally love it. It’s like Camel, King Crimson, and Jefferson Airplane loaded up a spaceship with the contents of Hunter S. Thompson’s car trunk and their instruments and took a voyage into the far reaches of outer space.
Both of these bands share quite a similar sound going by the songs I’ve heard so far, where Astra tends to have vocals in their songs and Diagonal doesn’t. So if you’re in the mood for some tripped out music, give these bands a shot. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!