Category Archives: Ramblings

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

Musings of the Heavy Metal Hippie: The Evangelist by Memory Garden

MG_band_newI really need to tip my to Metal Blade Records. For like forever they have been delivering some of the best metal albums throughout my career as a metalhead. Lately they’ve been taking a nice interest in doom metal and have been signing some pretty interesting bands (more on those in the coming days). So, thank you Metal Blade for pandering my demographic. Today’s band under the thumb was once signed to Metal Blade when they first started out, parted ways, and now they are back under the Metal Blade umbrella as they gear up to release a new collection of songs.
Memory Garden are a really hip and interesting band as they combine elements of doom metal with straight metal and power metal. It leads to quite the engaging listen as you get the fat grooves and riffing of doom, the melodic end of power metal, and vocals that bring both Ronnie James Dio and Messiah Marcolin to mind.
“The Evangelist” is off of the bands new 4th album Doomain and it is out now, and I must get my hands on a copy.  What say you?  Do you dig this track as much as me?  Interested in hearing more?  Sound off in the comments.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Musings of the Heavy Metal Hippie: Spine of God by Monster Magnet

mm08IMO, NJ’s pioneering stoner metal band Monster Magnet embody the sex, drugs, and rock and roll aspect of rockstardom quite perfectly. From their hard rocking tunes about, well, sex and drugs to frontman Dave Wyndorf’s who bleeds charisma and sex to their killer live shows where they often hang a banner that reads “It’s a Satanic drug thing. You wouldn’t understand.” and pole dancers on stage it’s hard to top these guys in the sex, drugs, and rock and roll dept. Luckily, they aren’t all about image and deliver where it’s important and write some of the best stoner metal songs ever written.
One of my favorite tracks from Monster Magnet is their über-trippy title track off their debut album Spine of God. I love how it gets all psychedelic and space-like yet still remains grounded enough to deliver on some catchy music. If you enjoy stoner metal and have yet to check out Spine of God, you’re doing yourself a great disservice as it is easily one of the best and most influential albums in the genre. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

Musings of the Heavy Metal Hippie: New Trip by Sixty Watt Shaman

Sixty+Watt+ShamanSixty Watt Shaman is one of those band I could never recollect how I heard of them or when their album made its way into my CD collection. But I’m happy it resides in there. Equal parts stoner and southern the band straight up brings the rock. Probably best compared to Corrosion of Conformity’s more southern fried style songs (specifically the Wiseblood album) their album Seed of Decades isn’t looking to break any barriers or push any envelopes. It exists just to show you a good time with big riffing and the occasional psychedelic section tossed in from time to time.

My favorite track off said album is “New Trip” which features all the above mentioned with the big catcher for me being the last minute or so where a Native American style chant grooves along with the jiving music. Give it a listen and let me know what you think. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

Musings of the Heavy Metal Hippie: Parchment Farm by Blue Cheer

blue-cheer-vincebusIf I’m going to be talking often about stoner and doom metal, I think it’s in order to make mention of the genres roots. Two classic bands from the ’60s can be cited as the main kicking off points and have major influence in the 2 genres. Both Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath carry much bearing for the 2, where Sabbath influenced the doom genre a tad more than Blue Cheer, whereas Blue Cheer has stronger bearings on stoner. However without the two to make a whole, these genres would sound much different from how they do today.

Today let’s focus on the stoner side of the hippie metal spectrum with a rocking song from Blue Cheer called “Parchment Farm” off their highly influential debut album Vincebus Eruptum. The first thing you will notice is the immediate fuzzy guitar tones and strong blues rock riffing, a staple of the stoner and doom genres (and without the fuzziness, the southern metal genre). There is also a lot of heavy psychedelic stuff going on which is also another major characteristic of stoner rock/metal, and as you delve deeper into the sounds of Blue Cheer, you will hear they went quite heavy with the psychedelics in other tunes like “Summertime Blues” (the band name Blue Cheer is also taken from the street name of a type of LSD).

“Parchment Farm” is actually a reworking of a folk blues song that was sung in a prison nicknamed Parchment Farm (I’m guessing prisoners were made to make paper), and is about the corruption of the correction facility through the eyes of the prisoner.
Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!

Musings of the Heavy Metal Hippie: Unspoken by Kylesa

Black_Metal_Hippie_I_by_IrilarAs challenged by the grand master of a heavy metal group I participate in to post a song/video from the doom/sludge/southern/occult/stoner rock/metal daily I will be doing just that and not to let my words just reach a handful of people, I’ll up the count by 2 or 3 and c/p my posts here as well.  Since I am known as the ‘hippie’ of the group it did get me thinking though, what exactly would one consider ‘hippie metal’, I guess any kind of metal or hard rock that goes well with the traditional hippie ethos of peace love and ganja.  So, that’s pretty much boils down to a fuck ton of various music, so for all intents and purposes I will be limiting these daily (weekdays only) posts to the previously mentioned genres which seem to be the prime offenders (I could also add prog to the mix, but that would be diluting this more than it already is).  Join me as I take the brown acid and go on a trip to discover the meaning of ‘hippie metal. I’ll be highlighting new stuff as well as classics, hope you all enjoy and discover some groovy tunes to crunch on :)

Today I’d like to highlight a new track from Kylesa called “Unspoken”.  TBH, something about this band never grabbed me and made me want to purchase a record, but I dug them when I listened.  This new track however has my attention and has me highly interested in checking out their new record, Ultraviolet, when it releases later this month.

In the song you will hear a nice mix of hippie metal genres as the sludgy mix of Georgian style stoner metal grooves give way to a Isis by way of Baroness style tune.  Really dank stuff and I especially appreciate that great southern metal style guitar solo towards then end as well as that absolutely absorbing groove that kicks in around the 1:20 mark.

Unfortunately the other 2 released tracks don’t hit me nearly as hard as this tune did, but I did enjoy them enough to have my interest piqued to pledge to give Kylesa a serious listen when the new album drops.  What say you, do you dig “Unspoken”, do you enjoy Kylesa, are you a towel?  Comment away, and remember, always pass to the left. Peace Love and Metal!!!! :)

Kickstart My Heart

41Yuz9uRa-L.01._SR300,300_Over the past couple years the whole Kickstarter and crowdfunding craze has really began to make quite the impact on the world.  My 2 biggest hobbies, video games and music, have seen the largest impact from this so far.  More or less all the stuff that record labels and game publishers haven’t been paying mind to have an audience and that audience is more than happy to toss large amounts of money at the artists to go ahead and do their thing.  So far results have been quite successful and music, games, and concepts that I never thought would see the light of day are getting a chance to compete with the big boys.  Given this whole crowdfunding business is still in its infancy and while many crowdfunded games and albums have now been released there still hasn’t been enough proof, only provable through the test of time, that this way of funding can continue to compete with the big dogs.  So I wonder, would it be possible that crowdfunding eventually makes big name publishers and labels go the way of the dodo?  Will we enter a world where the music that you listen to and the games you play are only discovered through good ol’ DIY and word of mouth methods and the days of creative influence from the investors ceases to hamper some wonderful games and albums?  Well, my opinion, simply put, yes and no.

In the 80′s there were 2 major pasta sauce brands, Prego and Ragu.  Ragu was the best-selling of the two and Prego wanted to outdo them, so they went and modified their recipe and created a sauce that trumped Ragu in all blind taste tests.  When Prego released their revised sauce to the market, they were astonished that even though it tasted better, they were still selling less.  So they brought in a market analyst to discover why and what they could do to become the leading pasta sauce brand.  One experiment the analyst did was to make various different styles of pasta sauce; creamy, chunky, spicy, salty, garlicy, etc.  About 20 different styles in all.  When he taste tested them he discovered was that of all the different flavors, the one with the least flavor change won.  Chunky style pasta sauce tasted nearly the same as the classic recipe and only changed in the texture, yet it won something around 80% of the taste test (actual number I don’t remember and am too lazy to research).  The discovery was that while trying to make the perfect tasting pasta sauce, they were oblivious to a large market of people who didn’t even know that they wanted chunky sauce and being obsessed on making the best flavor blinded them to even think about checking for texture.

Prego released their sauce into the market and did exceptionally well finally out selling Ragu until they copied the chunky idea and it’s been an exciting food fight ever since with more options and experimentation in the pasta sauce lovers world than ever imaginable.

Now think Ragu as the bigwig labels and game publishers, and Kickstarter as the Prego.  Through Kickstarter we have discovered games and music that we never even thought we wanted, and now that they are exposed, we can’t imagine not wanting them.  Surely the labels and publishers have noted on this, and especially in the music scene, a lot more risks to branch out is the result.  Win Win, right?

Sorta, what I think that this crowdfunding vs. bigwig will lead to is more of a symbiotic relationship where labels will see crowdfunding as proof of success and reduce their monetary liability.  Band crowdfunds their debut, has successful sales, the following record gets that big contract, maybe more than what bands are getting today since they have already proven themselves and the risk is much less for the label.  And again, since the band is proven in their artistic merit, the label will most likely hold back on influencing the musicians.  Apply the same principles to video games.

Then we can add in the argument of over-saturation and crowdfunding becoming diluted and turning into nothing but a popularity contest. We can also say that no crowdfunded project will ever be able to reach the numbers needed for those big AAA block buster games and that people will just innovate for innovations sake.  But no matter what, with crowd funding, we are all aware that there are many things that we want that we would have never realized we wanted and the competition in the market will just increase for our attention and money.  And as always, competition breeds excellency and true innovation.  Exciting times are coming in the music and video game world and I’m looking forward to what the future may bring.

What say you on crowdfunding?  Discuss below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Thanks to the Jimquisition for the inspiration and Ragu vs Prego idea behind this post.

Show Cancellation! Reason: Potential Destruction of the Facility

victoria-albert-museumIt is one thing for a corporation like Disney to cancel Machine Head show for whatever fucked up reason I can’t even remember now.  It is another thing to have a gig cancelled for weather, sickness, and death, but what if you were in a band and were told “sorry guys you can’t play here because you might destroy the building!”  Seriously, this is what happened to the mighty grind-masters Napalm Death.  For some strange reason they were involved with some kind of artistic experiment at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, England.

Based on what I read…and you can read it here for reference, it looked like the intent of the show was to have the band play at normal concert decibel levels in the historic museum while ceramic “things” would (hopefully) disintegrate from the decibel level of a Napalm Death set.  Vocalist Barney Greenway stated after the cancellation “Sound as a weapon – or a weapon of change – is a very interesting concept and I think that the whole process of our sound gradually degrading clay sculptures is captivating.”

Here is what I know of the museum.  On one of our first trips to London, we went to the Science Museum just down the road.  As we were walking in South Kensington, I noticed a building with a lot of outer damage.  I ended up finding a plaque that stated the structural damage was from the German bombings during WWII.  This was our first serious piece of history during our stay in England.  It turned out to be the Victoria and Albert museum.  Interesting!  So, if the Germans couldn’t take the building down raining bombs on London, how was Napalm Death going to ruin it with decibels?  I guess the curators heard a sample of Greenway’s signature growl and had second thoughts.  In all seriousness, there were concerns that the noise level would, in fact, damage historic stuff.  As I appreciate history, I can’t say I blame the museum, but what a damn cool idea!  Maybe they can move this experiment to a more stable facility.

What’s Metal Got To Do With It?

While I was living in England for four years, I had the privilege of being surrounded by so much history and culture.  I found it fascinating to be encircled by structures over 1,000 years old…still standing…part of a rich history.  While there, my family and I seized the opportunity to see and do as much as we could especially in London.  One thing I found great about the city was that museums were free.  People think the UK is so expensive, but if you do your research there are so many inexpensive things to do.  Anyway, I got to see the British, Science, and History museums, the Globe Theater, Churchill’s War Rooms (not free), The Museum of London, The Maritime Museum, The Royal Observatory, and a cool museum called the Tate Modern.   It’s what I saw in the Tate Modern that inspired this post, which I am sure you are wondering what does this have to do with metal?  I am getting to that.

In the Tate Modern, there happened to be an exhibit which consisted of about 100 million hand-painted porecelain sunflower seeds.  The first thing I thought was damn; this takes up a lot of space.  Then I wondered how long it must have taken to put this all together.  Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was responsible for this display of artwork which I have to say was impressive.  Check out my pictures below…


IMG_0150So, what does this have to do with metal?  I am getting to that, hang on.  Ai Weiwei is an outspoken person in China and if you follow the news, that (American) freedom we have in this country doesn’t bode well in China.  Some high-profile people have disappeared for being forthright.  Well, it seems the artist decided on his next work.  Wait for it!  Wait for it!  A metal album!

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Blood & Banjos Are Awesome, And You Can Make Them Awesomer!

small-on-sandA bit over a year ago I stumbled upon a blog called Blood & Banjos, and with a name like that, how could I not stop and check it out.  Upon reading one of the first few posts that they had I quickly learned that the blog was to be a chronicle of the creation of an album from its inception to its finish.  The original idea for the record was conjured in the brain of project leader Mike Lindsay during a casual conversation between friends when the idea of making an album that combined the visceral, raw sound of black metal with the conservationists passion for bluegrass music.  The churning mental gears quickly gave way to Mike starting up the project of seriously making an attempt at this daunting task of combining polar opposites of the musical spectrum.  Blood & Banjos were born.

michael01Throughout the year I kept up reading this blog, as a look into what goes into writing, recording, and conceptualizing an album from start to finish was quite interesting to me personally and seeing it being done by a group of regular Joes and not the usual ‘big rock star’ album chronicles piqued my interest further.  Then there’s the fact that they were not just creating your usual metal album, but quite an experimental take on it, my interest went through the roof.  As time went on and their posts on concepts and brief histories into the styles of music went on things started to shift from concepts and ideas towards actual songs being created.  Very neat stuff, and being the cool dude he is, Mike took the time to listen to the comments people were leaving on his blog and even embraced a few ideas for specific song sections I threw his way when he went to post up the next demo recordings.  The fact that Mike had the management capacity to be able to make recordings with his group of musicians and collaborators scattered all across the USA and EU was very neat to observe also.

Now, some of you may be thinking that the whole black metal/bluegrass combo has already been done, and quite well I might add, by the one man band Panopticon on his album Kentucky.  While this may be true, what really grabs me about the Blood & Banjos project is the angle they are approaching the concept from.  Instead of going for the intensely deep side bluegrass and metal like Panopticon did, they are putting the focus on the fun side of the genres.  Almost resembling a Broadway spectacle, the album will tell the tale of a simple Appalachian family man named Abram Stone who has been deceived by Satan into believing only himself and his banjo can prevent the coming of the anti-Christ and the coming Apocalypse.   The town’s mayor and townsfolk stand in his way and inevitable violence of mass proportion ensues.  Amazing concept if you ask me, and B&B take it a step further by taking the time to actually cast various musicians and singers to fill the various roles in the story.

gang1So after a bit over a year of conceptualizing and writing, Blood & Banjos have finished the first phase of production and have even released some awesome demos (you’ll find something to listen to at the bottom of this post) and now starts a phase where they really need the help of music fans everywhere.  I’m sure you know getting quality recording of ones music doesn’t come cheap, and even for the more economical options a pretty penny must be spent.  Being the regular Joes they are with day jobs and the like, dropping 10 grand for an album recording just isn’t in their personal budgets, but fortunately, this wonderful thing called Kickstarter exists and could very well ensure that the bands dreams of seeing this project come to life does so at the highest possible quality.  While the band states that even if they don’t meet their goal, they will still see this project through to completion, but wouldn’t you like to hear such an awesome concept for a record come to fruition as shiny as possible and actually know that you were partly responsible for that happening (c’mon, everyone one loves bragging rights even if they don’t admit it ;) ).  So head over to the bands Kickstarter page, make a pledge, get yourself some cool perks (that poster is looking mighty fine), and support independent music, cause without it we’d be stuck listening to the same old stuff that the major labels habitually pump out.  And it should go without saying, share the Kickstarter with as many as you can, you could be the one responsible for the really rich dude that has a passion for both metal and bluegrass music and has a hankering to toss a few grand at the project, I’m sure Mike and the rest of Blood & Banjos would be very appreciative.  Enjoy!!!  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!

Band Links: Kickstarter Facebook Soundcloud Official Blog Bandcamp

Demos will be added to the bands Bandcamp as they are released, you can hear a couple in the player below now :)

Crushing Hammers of Metal


After discovering that the word ’monolith’ is used in quite a few song- and album titles (here), I started to look for other words that are common in heavy metal. With the help of my buddies on The History of Metal forum on FB, I ended up with a pretty long list of songs, albums and band names that have the word ‘hammer’ in them. So what is the deal with hammers?

A heavy, crushing, smashing weapon made of metal. That represents the sound of many bands in our favourite genre. But it can also be a mysterious and mighty magic item, like Thor’s hammer in old Norse mythology. There is also the judge’s hammer of justice that has the power to change your life. And, of course, the construction tool that makes lots of noise, used to build up and break down structures. What do you think is the reason so many bands chooses to include hammers in their music? It’s not always obvious what they symbolize in the lyrics. What’s your interpretation?

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