Tag Archives: Metal

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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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: 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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“Blodtorst” by Kvelertak

This song is awesome and the animated viking cartoon video is amazing.  You are all WELCOME:

 

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METAL MONDAY: Kvelertak, badass Viking music that’s good for punching stuff

Welcome to what I hope to be a (semi) recurring feature here at Defending Axl RoseMETAL MONDAY! I’m really excited to talk about Kvelertak, whose name is Norwegian for “Stranglehold.”  I gotta say, I love over-the-top metal.  In fact, I pretty much despise metal that takes itself too seriously.  Kvelertak is a six-piece Norwegian black metal band that are just the right amounts awesome and goofy as shit.  Their songs are all sung in Norwegian and from what I can decipher deal with Norse/Viking themes. I guess they could be saying anything and I wouldn’t know it, but honestly metal this powerful is pretty universal.

That owl is a pimp.

Kvelertak are most definitely a metal band but they have a lot of punk and hard rock sensibilities.  I really like their rich, diverse sound they have.  The band makes good use acoustic guitar and piano in some of their songs, without making them feel gimmicky or forced.  Aggressive (or high energy if you prefer) while at the same time very melodic, Kvelertak is great for working out or just punching stuff. These guys are damn fine musicians and their guitar riffs/hooks are pretty memorable.

My favorite tracks are  “Blodtorst,” “Mjod,”  “Liktorn,” and “Nekroskop.”  All of which are loud, complex, and in your face awesome.  All of the album tracks hit hard and fast and always leave you wanting more.  That last part is most important to me because unlike a lot of metal bands, Kvelertak tend to keep their songs right around the 3 1/2 to 4 minute mark. I find that by arranging their songs like more traditional rock/pop songs, Kvelertak keeps me from getting bored.  The usual metal tropes like stupidly long intros or overly lengthy solos pretty much absent from KVELERTAK.  Don’t get me wrong, I like a good solo but sometimes it’s best to be left wanting more. And Kvelertak definitely leave me wanting more.

Their first album, KVELERTAK came out this year in the US, but was originally released back in 2010.  I first heard about the band from Metalsucks (a pretty righteous metal website) who sang their praises.  After hearing a few of their songs I illegally downloaded the album and enjoyed it for an entire year. When they finally came to iTunes in America this year I instantly snapped it up (it came with 4 extra live tracks and 2 demos, but honestly it was so damn good I just wanted to give them my money).

And let me just say, I haven’t seen such an awesome album cover in quite a while, metal or otherwise.  It’s hypnotic and sexy.  I know it’s wrong to judge a book by it’s cover, but that cover art was one of the reasons I decided to give Kvelertak a listen in the first place.  Metal bands take note: sometimes a big bloody skull is not the best way to attract knew fans.

I was also impressed to see Kvelertak listed as “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” in the metal category on iTunes End-of-the-Year Rewind. Clearly they’ve made a big impact on the American metal scene, I hope they grow into a major metal act in the years to come.  If like me, you got some iTunes gift cards this holiday season you should pop over to iTunes and download KVELERTAK, if you like thundering Viking music you won’t be disappointed.

KVELERTAK gets an “A” for thundering through my brain for over a year and half. 

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