Category Archives: METAL MONDAY

METAL MONDAY: Mac Sabbath Is The Fast-Food Themed Black Sabbath Cover Band You Never Knew You Needed

Have you ever gotten something and wondered how you lived your life without it? I know I existed prior to getting an iPhone, but it’s changed how I live so fundamentally that I honestly can’t imagine going to back to a life without it. Well buckle-up kids, because you’re about to have a life-altering experience. Seriously, you’ll never be the same once you see and hear Mac Sabbath.

Well buckle-up kids, because you’re about to have a life-altering experience. Seriously, you’ll never be the same once you see and hear Mac Sabbath. What is Mac Sabbath? It’s a fast-food themed Black Sabbath tribute band. Well, I guess they’re kinda/sorta a tribute band. See, they don’t just dress up like McDonald’s characters and sing Black Sabbath songs, they change the lyrics in order to attack and expose the evils of the fast-food industry. The band is equal parts metal band, post-modern art, and political satire. Mac Sabbath is definitely one of those things that’s too good to be true.

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Take for example “Frying Pan” which is the band’s take on the classic Sabbath song “Iron Man.” Mac Sabbath turns the song into a (humorous) indictment of the fast-food industry from the perspective of the poor wage-slave making our pink slime-infused meals.

“I once burned your meal
My old job was cooking veal
Now it’s a culinary crime
All our future is pink slime”

And of course they’re able to work in a gluten reference:

“Everybody wants it
On gluten bleached flour bread
Everybody needs it
Till they’re fat and dead”

I can’t image writing lyrics to songs, let alone writing lyrics all around a single theme and making them fit into the framework of an established song. A lot of people try their hand at this, and while there are a few standouts who really do a good job, I feel like most comedic attempts at parody songs are just that: attempts. Mac Sabbath really hit it out of the park on their songs. I listened to six of their songs and all six were well-done (pun intended).

While the members of Mac Sabbath are talented satirists, it’s worth noting that they could also pass as a pretty decent Black Sabbath cover band. The music sounds remarkably good for something so batshit crazy. You can tell that besides really hating the fast-food industry, the members of Mac Sabbath really love Black Sabbath.  Sure, the drummer is dressed just like the Hamburgler, but he’s also a damn good drummer.

PROMO_Mac-sabbath

Drive-Thru Metal is Finger Lickin’ Good

These guys are based in L.A. but apparently tour just like any other rock band. And just like Kiss or Ghost (B.C.) they stay in character most of the time and always appear on stage in full regalia. The band even has hilarious metal/McDonald’s mash-up stage names like Ronald Osbourne, Slayer McCheeze, Grimalice, and Catburgler.

Considering such how detrimental to our bodies and the environment fast-food is, making them the fodder of a metal band makes 100% perfect sense. McDonald’s is far more nefarious and scarier than say, popular metal villain, Satan. I would love to know what the good folks at McDonald’s think about this band (though I can guess) and I’d also like to know what Black Sabbath thinks about them as well. Considering that band plays with the intellectual property of two mega-corporations (McDonald’s being a tad bigger than Black Sabbath) I’m kinda shocked these guys are able to exist.

I’m probably late to the Mac Sabbath party, but I had to write about this band because it’s one of the more creative things I’ve seen this year. And, hilariously enough, they’re the most balls-out metal thing I’ve encountered in years (thanks to Cartoon Network canceling Metalacolypse). 

 

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METAL MONDAY: I drank The Trooper while listening to “The Trooper”

Over the past few years I’ve become something of a beer connoisseur. I became interested in beer after relocating to St. Louis, Missouri a city that’s a major player in the beer industry. Besides nasty, corporate swill (St. Louis is home of the world-famous Budweiser) the city is home to some of this country’s greatest microbreweries. When it came time to move once again, I’d be lying if I said that Colorado’s fantastic brewing culture didn’t play a role in my moving decision.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I love beer. Beer is something I have a great deal of passion and interest in. In fact, if I’d been a better chemistry student in school I’d probably give brewing a try. But enough about me, let’s get to the beer.

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I’d seen the Iron Maiden-themed beer The Trooper at various liquor stores for the past few years but had never picked it up until last week. Does Iron Maiden need their own beer? I’m only a casual fan of the band, so perhaps I’m not the best one to answer that question. My gut tells me “no,” however. Don’t get me wrong, I get the mindless merchandising of classic bands…but why a beer? Most rock bands project an image of reckless debauchery, Iron Maiden is no different, but I don’t think of them as a drinking band. And “The Trooper” is not a song about drinking, so what gives? Mindless merchandising…

Anyway, I finally took the bait and bought a bottle of The Trooper. I took it home and got it chilled, but not super-cold, because that’s how they drink beer in England. Also, I’d had a particularly shitty day and just wanted to drink and write about Iron Maiden.

Upon opening the bottle I took a sniff, the beer smelled predominantly malty with a touch of sweetness. The beer poured clear and golden, with a nice frothy head. While I waited for the foam to subside, I started up “The Trooper.” It’s interesting to note that the song, off the band’s album PIECE OF MIND, is exactly three days older than me. Yes, The Trooper is a beer based on a 31 ½ year old metal song. The song is famously inspired by the Lord Tennyson poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” That poem, like the song, is about a famous battle of the Crimean War in which a colossal screw up in communication resulted in a bunch of British soldiers bravely (stupidly?) charging when their commanders actually wanted them to retreat. The symbolism weighed heavily on my mind when exactly two minutes into the song, I took a sip.

I was surprised at how the beer tasted more subdued than I thought based on the smell. Rather than a sweet, candy-like flavor the beer has an immediate undercurrent of hops giving The Trooper a tangy, somewhat bitter after-taste. The alcohol content is surprisingly low, only 4.7% alcohol by volume (ABV). Here in the U.S.A., we tend to value higher alcohol content, but in Britain session beers (read: ones that don’t get you fucked up) are quite common. The Trooper is an ESB, which stands for Extra Special Bitter; this is a style that has a malty flavor with a nice hop kick.

I won’t lie to you, this is not a style that is very common in this country.  Nor is it one that I have much experience drinking. Is the Trooper a good ESB? I honestly don’t know. I’m guessing it’s not because it’s an Iron Maiden-themed beer and again mindless merchandising. Is The Trooper a good beer in general? It’s okay. I bought this beer specifically to write about it for this post, now that I’ve done that I don’t plan on buying it again. Would I turn this down if someone offered it to me for free? Hell-to-the-no.

"Some drinking implied."

“Some drinking implied.”

“The Trooper” is a great song, but I don’t need to tell you that do I? It’s Iron Maiden’s most well known song and with good reason. The song has a fantastic, highly memorable guitar hook and it’s based on a famous poem about a famous battle. I’m sure if I were British all of this would make my heart swell and mean even more. The truth is: Maiden’s a classic band, the song is fantastic, and this beer is just okay.

I get that they went with a traditional British beer style, but I’m deducting points for the low ABV. Truly the marketing geniuses at Robinsons Brewery missed the boat on this one. The Trooper should have had an ABV of 6.66% (the most metal of all ABV’s). I mean, come on how did no one think of this? I’m a shut-in music blogger and even I have the sense and savvy to know that would have made more sense. I can forgive the band for selling out because it is pretty metal to have your own beer. But having that beer come in below 5%? Well that’s just weak.

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METAL MONDAY: “If You Have Ghosts” by Ghost

I shan’t lie, I’m a huge fan of Swedish heavy metal rockers Ghost (now called Ghost B.C. but whatever).  I love their larger-than-life Satan worshiping antics and their sweeping Blue Oyster Cult-vibe.  Most of their tunes have a dark heart, and while I dig that about them, I can’t help but love their earnest (dare I say, sweet?) cover of Roky Erickson’s “If You Have Ghosts.”

ghostep600

Stirring strings? Silky smooth vocals? Killer guitar? Check. Check. And check. This song kicks so much ass.  And Dave Grohl on rhythm guitar is there to add a badass cherry on this hard rock sundae.

“If You Have Ghosts” appears on a recently released EP of the same title, like the band’s prior full length LP’s its is highly recommended.


Also, I’m super stoked because Ghost is embarking on a North American tour that will include a city near me! I can’t wait to see them.

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METAL MONDAY: Zombies & Venezuelan Thrash Metal

This week marks the return of METAL MONDAY. I’ve got a lengthy list of bands I plan on featuring in upcoming METAL MONDAY posts, but today I want to spotlight Kraptor.

Hailing from Venezuela, Kraptor are an awesome thrash metal band. What I like about Kraptor is the band’s above-average musicianship and sense of humor.  Kraptor know how to play their instruments but avoid that cold, sterile sound many wanna-be-virtuosos usually crank out.  The band has a tight, professional sound but don’t take themselves too seriously.  I love a metal band that can play their instruments but are also unafraid to be fun.  

Kraptor, don't they look fun?

Kraptor, don’t they look fun?

The band’s sense of humor is refreshing in a genre filled with deathly serious/super angry bands.  Kraptor’s album, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, is a thrash metal concept album that spoofs B-movie horror movies but still manages to knock you socks off.  The killer cuts are interspersed with short newsbreaks reporting on the chaos caused by a plague of zombies.

While this ain’t Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Kraptor’s album works for me thanks in large part to the juxtaposition of the melodic yet muscular tunes and hilarious zombie-outbreak story.

The album as a whole is strong, but I highly recommend “Civil Disobedience” and “Damage Brain.”  There’s a particularly propulsive guitar solo near the end of “Civil Disobedience” that made me sit up and take notice.  Kraptor is a great little band that deserve more attention here in the States, and while the the band doesn’t seem to have an official website,  you can follow them on Twitter.  I recommend you do so.

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METAL MONDAY: Australia’s Barbarion Have A Pretty Funny Video

Australian metal heads Barbarion have released a very slick, funny music video for their song “My Rock.”  Never heard of Barbarion [sic]? Well, me neither but someone must really like them, because the slickness of this video screams major label.  It feels like the kind of video you’d see back in the heyday of MTV with it’s oppressed, angry young metal fan.  Watching it, I was reminded of the video for Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” or Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

“My Rock” the song is inoffensive but mostly fun, I’m interested in hearing what the rest of their music sounds like.

Anyway, if you need smile (or just a good laugh) take five minutes and check out this video:

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Bonus METAL MONDAY: New Dethklok “I Ejaculate Fire” Video

Have I told you I like cartoons? I do.  I remember falling in love with Cartoon Network’s ADULT SWIM block of adult-themed cartoons way before it was cool.  Metalocalypse is probably my all-time favorite.  It’s a hilarious send-up/love letter to all things metal.  The show follows the trails and tribulations of Dethklok, the world’s most famous and beloved band.  All the members of Dethklok are insane/over-the-top rock caricatures…and that’s what makes me love it.

Oh, they’re real…real awesome!

The show is also extremely gory and violent, which is probably  a turn-off for a lot of people, but understand: the violence is ironic.  Anyway, the band’s real-life counterparts are on tour to promote their third album which came out this month.  The video below is for their latest “single” which is distrubingly titled “I Ejaculate Fire.”

This is not high art by any means…but nonetheless awesome.  Oh, yeah: WARNING THIS VIDEO IS NSFW.

 

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METAL MONDAY: Weedeater’s Awesome JASON THE DRAGON!

North Carolina’s metal-dudes Weedeater do not mess around. Their fourth album, their epic album JASON THE DRAGON was delayed in 2010 when their lead singer, “Dixie” Dave Collins accidentally shot his big toe off…with a shotgun.  Thank God Collins was able to pull himself together to record again, because JASON THE DRAGON is the kind of album the world needs.  Metal is dominated by bands that are loud, in-your-face, and angry but often have no underlying spirit.  I love music that grooves besides just assaulting the ears with sheer bombast, and Weedeater is all about groove. Their music is a slow-burn of aggression; it feels more complex and mature.

Don’t look so smug Smaug.

Weedeater occupy the sub-genere of metal known as sludge, which I seem to have an unhealthy love for.  The sounds are dark, gloomy, and akin to a slow beating with a blunt object.  “Turkey Warlock” is the epitome of this slow descent into madness, with it’s Black Sabbath-like chugging guitar and scratchy vocals.  The song ends with a single held-note that bleeds into the next song, the titula “Jason…the Dragon.”  I absolutely love this song.  It’s about a dragon, name Jason…but more than that, it’s heavy but has a nice, steady groove.  Weedeater is rock slow and steady and are unapologetic about it.

The southern/bayou-sounding “Palms of Opium” sounds like the sort of laid-back country-jam ZZ Top used to be known for.  It’s a refreshing blast of cold water on their fire of metal, and creates a surprising shade of complexity over JASON THE DRAGON that belies their chosen genre.  Likewise, the John Bonham-esque “March of the Biploar Bear” offers up an entertaining (albeit brief) interlude.

The best song on the album though, is “Homecoming” which is full of really interesting guitar work and home to the album’s most memorable riff.  JASON THE DRAGON then ends with a frogs ‘n banjo song “Whisky Creek,” which similar to “Palms of Opium” reminds us of the bands backwoods roots.  There’s something awesome about a hillbilly metal band, hearing it is like scratching an itch you didn’t even know you had.

Bravo, Weedeater! Please stop shooting yourself and make another album ASAP.

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METAL MONDAY: Behold The Arctopus Brings the Noise!

I always say this but: it’s been too damn long since I’ve done a METAL MONDAY post. Today I want to share with you a little bit of insanity from Brooklyn, New York: Behold The Arctopus.  The band was formerly “Behold…The Arctopus” but are now operating with a different line-up, and have thus decided to drop the “…” in their name.

Behold The Arctopus’ Arctopus!!!

Regardless of what you call them, their bat-dung crazy sound has been described as “schizophrenic” and “radical.”  According to the band, they’re influenced by metal and…classical music?  Upon reading this I was intrigued, so I checked out their latest song “Disintegore” which is off their to-be-released album HORRORSCENSION, which come out at the end of next month (just in time for Halloween).

The band’s sound is experimental and prog-influenced.  The first few seconds of “Disintegore” reminded me a bit of Rush’s “YYZ,” for instance.  I‘m always keen to hear new and interesting sounds, and Behold The Arctopus seem to do nothing but generate those.  I dug a little bit into their back catalogue after stumbling upon them, and think their track “You Are Number Six” off their 2007 album SKULLGRID is the bees knees!

Even though I could see how many reading this might think all of this is a lot of bullshit noise, there has been a lot of work and thought put into these tunes.  Seriously, I know a lot of you don’t like/aren’t into metal, but give this band a listen: these guys are serious guitar heroes.  My finger tips ache just hearing some of the stuff they do.  And I’m not talking about guitar antics like that Steve Vai wank-off does either, this stuff has a real heart to it. Take a listen to “Exospacial Psionic Aura” if you don’t believe me:

Now, I’m sure a lot of metalheads are gonna tell me this isn’t “metal” because some Junior College-reject* isn’t screaming or Cookie-Monster growling over the music.  To those people I say: grow-up.  Sometimes I just wanna stroke my beard and listen to some awesome (and challenging) music without any of the childish metal-tropes/antics**.

Definitely check this band out if you’re into freak-outs, sonic assaults, proggy riffage, and intellectual vandalism.

Don’t be a snob, these guys are legit.

 

*Full disclosure: I attended two Junior Colleges. 

**Although those can be fun.

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METAL MONDAY: An Epic Review of “Dopesmoker” the Song the Label Didn’t Want You to Hear!

It’s been a long time since I did a METAL MONDAY post, and for that I am truly sorry.  In order to serve my penance for neglecting rock’s more aggressive-cousin, I embarked on an gargantuan journey that only the most die-hard music writers would even dream of undertaking**.  I was reading the latest issue of SPIN magazine (don’t judge, I bought a subscription from a woman at work who’s granddaughter was doing a magazine fundraiser) when I saw a small article about an obscure metal reissue that came out this month–DOPESMOKER by Northern California’s Sleep.  Sleep were active during the 1990’s and existed in that grey area between doom-metal and stoner-hard rock. I’d never heard of them, but what caught my eye was the fact that the album consisted of one single, hour-long track.  The album was recorded in 1996 but the band’s label, London Records, was appalled by the finished product.  And in a way, I don’t blame them–what the hell do you do with an hour-long song?  The band refused to let the song, “Dopesmoker” be cut-up into slightly smaller chunks and instead insisted it be released as one mega-track. This fight delayed the album’s release until 2003.

“Caravan migrates through deep sandscape
Lungsmen unearth the creed of Hasheeshian
Procession of the Weed-Priests to cross the sands”

Thanks to the Internet, and a hearty fan-base, DOPESMOKER was reissued as the band intended: uncut.  I read a few accounts of the album’s production, and apparently the song had to be broken up a few session due to the limitations of recording technology at the time (a reel of studio tape could only hold 22 minutes or so).  With nothing but guilt over neglecting METAL MONDAY and extreme curiosity, I sat down and listened to the whole thing (below are my impressions/blow-by-blow of the song).

Stoners are usually annoying, ineffectual, or somewhere in between.  I fully expected “Dopesmoker” to be pretty much a boring wank-session, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually pretty damn good. The song is built upon a foundation of droning guitar and lyrics revolving around an ancient, yet spacey, marijuana cult.  The lyrics, like the song, are dramatically elongated, like a stoner taking a loooong hit off a bong. Musically, Sleep seem to be like a super-wasted/super-slow Black Sabbath. In fact, the entire time I was listening to “Dopesmoker” I was reminded of “Sweet Leaf.”  I also couldn’t get the image of a stretched piece of taffy out of my mind–I think that’s a pretty good comparison for this record/song: Black Sabbath, if Sabbath was a piece of taffy, stretched to it’s near-breaking point.

Vigorous Sleep-ers.

The song has three guitar solos that aren’t overly-long or stupid, another thing that surprised me about DOPESMOKER.  Metal guitar solos have a history of being supremely over-the-top to the point of being ridiculous, and in a song that’s over an hour long it would make sense to have really drawn-out solos to pad time.  But Sleep seem to side-step every single cliche I thought of when I initially read about this album/song.  The lyrics are pretty stupid.  I mean, really stupid.  This isn’t stoner-philosophy, this is crazy weed-mysticism to the 1,000,000th power.  They’re pretty damn funny and frankly work for me.  Had this song been long AND full of bullshit seriousness I’d have to label Sleep as pretentious.

“Dopesmoker” begins and ends with the lyrics “Drop out of life with bong in hand/Follow the smoke toward the riff-filled land.”  That Sleep not only created this riff-filled land, but let all of us mere mortals visit it is a good thing.  I won’t lie and say that Sleep’s magnum opus is for everyone, but for those brave souls willing to enter their ancient caravan of cannabis…adventure awaits.

What follows is a timeline of my thoughts written as I listened to “Dopesmoker” for the first time:

00:01:  A few single notes begin.

01:30: And there was much droning.

02:41: Drums begin.

05:37: The droning has become an undulating current of a single riff, repeated.

07:30: Lotta cymbal action, the riff has changed

08:01: Drums vanish, then return.

08:27: Vocals appear, shout-y.

12:42: We return to a more complicated version of the main riff.

14:24-ish: Guitar SOLO!!! It’s pretty damn sweet.

16:31: Guitar Solo ends.

16:40: Vocals commence again with “Proceeds the Weedian – Nazareth.”  I don’t know what any of this means…

21:30-ish: Main riff and drums fall off, single note riff (different from the beginning) takes over.  I feel as if the first phase of the song might be over.

22:53: Smashing drum riff and vocals return. The phrase “Holy Mountain Zion” is sung…all three words are sung in an elongated-howl.

26:50-ish: Huston, we have “Weed-priests.”

31:15: The half-way point, nothing auspicious happens to celebrate this occasion, our “Stoner caravan” continues marching forward.

38:55: Second guitar solo begins.

40:00: This is a classy-ass solo, I’m digging it.

41:28: Solo ends.

41:45-ish: Whole mess fades out with the exception of a single guitar.

42:00-ish: drums appear distantly, in the background, like a distant heartbeat.

43:06: If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the song was winding down/about to end. There is still 20+ minutes to go.

43:27: The song rewakens! Riffage/thunder-fuck drums return.

48:00: “Marijuanaut escapes earth to cultivate.”  Right on.

50:33: Third guitar solo begins.

51:53: Guitar solo ends.

52:20: I am on the edge of my seat, I cannot wait to see how they end this song.  If this thing just fades out I am going to lose it…

54:30-ish: “Burnt offering redeems – completes smoked deliverance.”

60:00: Woah, we’ve reached the hour mark. T-minus three minutes and 36 seconds remaining.

62:21: Looks like we’re gonna drone-riff our way out.

63:15: Last notes are held and then allowed to fade. Not the bombastic ending I was hoping for, but it wasn’t a cop-out.

The End.

**Not really

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METAL MONDAY: Spooky-ass Ghost

Sweden is the land of ROCK my friends.  All the best bands seem to be coming from Sweden these days, I guess there’s something in the water over there.  Anyway, I’d been hearing a LOT about Sweden’s Ghost for a while.  Usually these buzz-bands disappoint, but Ghost proved to be a rare exception.  What I’d heard was Ghost was a “classic” metal band, like Black Sabbath.  I’d heard they were “dark” and very theatrical and, unlike most metal bands today, they actually sang.  Intrigued, I put Ghost’s debut record OPUS EPONYMOUS on my to-do list.  Some time passed, and then on New Year’s Eve I noticed that the band was listed on iTunes 2011 End-of-Year Rewind as “Best Metal Album.”

So long story short I used an iTunes giftcard I’d received for X-mas to download the album.  Everything about this album kicks so much ass. First, let’s talk about the album cover:

Scooby Doo where are you?

My good friend, Dr. Michael Wense, has dubbed the spooky character on the album cover “Ghost Pope.”  On first glace what you see is something that’s supposed to be scary but clearly looks like Count Chocula. Well this cover is a pretty good representation for Ghost as a band.  There is NO WAY that this band is serious.  I’m sorry, I know there’s dudes out there on the message boards saying bullshit like “these guys really are Satanists” or “this band isn’t a joke” but let me tell you: this band is a hilarious joke.  In fact, I’d say this is the greatest non-cartoon, cartoon metal band of all time.  I should be repulsed by this band, after all the satanic/evil/devil bullshit is pretty fucking stupid and the epitome of everything I hate about a lot of metal….

And yet, Ghost as a whole seems to almost be a parody of (what I think is) the worst of metal.

Okay, so what about the music? Well that’s the weird thing, I heard all these Sabbath comparisons going-in to the record…but honestly this band does not sound like Black Sabbath.  This band is a basically an tongue-in-cheekier version of Blue Oyster Cult.   The vocals and guitars sound just like BOC.   The songs are ridiculously awesome.  There are so many melty-velveeta moments,it’s hard to just pick one.  How about on “Stand By Him” where they sing “A Temptress smitten by the Blackest Force/A Vicar Bitten Blind in intercourse.” Or the second track, “Con Clavi Con Dio” which opens with a chugging, menacing  riff that is broken by the lead singer shrilly summoning “Lucifer!”  like his balls are in a vice.  It’s anti-scary and cracks me up every time I hear it.

The chocolate-loving father of "Ghost Pope"?

Now that’s not to say that this isn’t a good band, or that the album is a pointless novelty, cos it’s not…not completely.  The song “Prime Mover,” for example is a ballsy, super-melodic rocker.  These guys have the chops and regardless what you think of their shtick, you can’t deny them that. The fact that they wear costumes (I saw the lead singer on YouTube playing a concert in full “Ghost Pope” regalia) leads me to believe that Ghost really is more joke than some of the numbskulls online would have you think.  I would say that if, like me, you’re a fan of classic hard rock and/or early metal you owe it to yourself to give OPUS EPONYMOUS a listen.

Take a listen:

And what the hell, how about a freaky-ass Beatles cover?

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