Secret Chiefs 3 Live at The Great Hall September 14, 2017

Categories: 2017 and Music.

This was my second Secret Chiefs 3 show, in a much better venue than the last time. It was also a very different experience and I’m not sure whether that’s because SC3 are doing something different on this tour (apparently they are here opening for Dead Cross) or whether the venue made them. Read More

Vol 4 (1972) by Black Sabbath

Categories: 1972 and Music.

Round about the time the piano opens “Changes,” we start wondering what is going on. Prior to this moment (or, perhaps, prior to “The Straightener”), Black Sabbath was the heaviest band in the entire world. There was no band louder or lower than Sabbath. And then we get a piano ballad backed with a fucking mellotron. Who are they? Zeppelin?!?! Read More

Danzig III: How the Gods Kill (1992)

Categories: 1992.

I have never heard Danzig before and, to the best of my knowledge, never heard Glenn Danzig before (except maybe on some Misfits song, but I think the only version of the band I’ve heard is one without him in it). And there’s something I am having a hard time shaking, which will likely infuriate Danzig fans – does Danzig ever sound like Ian Astbury. Read More

Scum (1987) by Napalm Death*

Categories: 1987 and Music.

Full disclosure: my favourite Grindcore band is Anal Cunt, because they are a joke. Grindcore has always struck me as a joke, or at least something easily turned into a joke, because of the brevity of the songs and the over-the-top nature of the music. But there are and have been tons of grindcore bands and lots of people like it. And I believe that there are no bad genres. So, there must be something to grindcore. Read More

Screaming for Vengeance (1982) by Judas Priest

Categories: 1982 and Music.

Every time I listen to Priest I get a different feeling than I do with their NWOBHM contemporaries (I am not saying Priest is NWOBHM), and that is that they are a little more concerned with selling records. Maybe that’s because Priest were always interested in doing that (I have never heard any of their early albums) but Priest always strikes me as more accessible than Maiden or some of the other bands of this era. There’s just something about them. Read More

Vulgar Display of Power (1992) by Pantera

Categories: 1992 and Music.

I have not heard Cowboys from Hell but I have a hard time imagining that it’s significantly better than this onslaught of a record. I have no idea if this was is one of the first proper groove metal records (I doubt it) but, listening to it, it’s hard to imagine one that’s more definitive: with the exception of two semi-ballads that briefly suggest we’re in for a break (and then pummel us), this is wall to wall thrash metal with a groove (at times it actually sounds like Metallica with a groove). Also, I hear so many echoes of Read More

Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? (1986) by Megadeath

Categories: 1986 and Music.

Megadeath have been on my list of essential 80s bands to listen to for years, possibly a decade or more. And now that I’m finally getting to them I’m so, so disappointed I don’t really know what to say. This is some pretty damn heavy music for 1986, and that part is good and cool. But I don’t like Mustaine – I don’t like the guy personally, which is probably obvious, but I don’t like his lyrics, they’re worse than regular metal lyrics. And the mix forces his vocals way up front which makes everything less heavy. Having come at Read More

Bullhead (1991) by Melvins

Categories: 1991 and Music.

I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to like Melvins. They make loud music, I like loud music. They have charted their own course regardless of record industry trends. They have collaborated with members of one of my favourite bands. But this, my introduction to the band, and likely one of their most seminal albums, strikes me as quite one note. I get that this is sort of the point (at least at this stage) but I don’t like my metal one-note. I get that this is likely an important record, and I hope that I can give it a little more Read More

From Fear to Eternity: The Best of 1990-2010 (2011) by Iron Maiden

Categories: 1990, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010, and 2011.

I accidentally picked this up thinking it was a compilation of their ’80s music. Ah well. I learned a couple of things from this record: First, Iron Maiden has a formula and they stuck to it (at least on the songs considered their “best”). Second, I should never get a live Iron Maiden album. It’s pretty clear from listening to this record that Maiden is just milking their sound for all its worth. Sure, some of these songs are pretty catchy and everything is very professional and competent, but so many of these songs follow the exact same formula. And Read More

Arise (1991) by Sepultura

Categories: 1991 and Music.

This is a solid Thrash record. It’s got some great playing and it’s pretty relentless. But I struggle to love it as much as I would like to knowing that they would go on to better things very shortly. And there are only brief hints of their expansive palette of later records that make this kind of samey, which is too its detriment. But I don’t actually dislike it – it’s great stuff, it’s just not quite as good as their later stuff. 7/10 Read More

Metal Evolution (2011)

Categories: 2011 and TV.

This is an in depth examination of metal by the man most associated with covering metal on film (though I have yet to see either of his movies). The positive side of this show is that it is a landmark: I don’t think there’s anything like it out there to focus on just a single genre of music. It’s an in depth, it’s informative, it’s enjoyable. The negative: despite it’s length, it somehow manages to miss a bunch of major subgenres (Black, Death, Stoner, Grindcore) but it also feels cursory in its examination of some major bands (FNM!). Also, the Read More

Killers (1981) by Iron Maiden

Categories: 1981 and Music.

I like this record, I do. But I can’t escape the feeling that I’ve heard this all before. This record sounds a lot better than their debut and that is great. But it’s no surprise to learn a lot of the music was written earlier and didn’t make the cut of the debut. It’s like their Strange Days – the band sounds more self-assured, everything is better produced, but the material just isn’t quite as good. 8/10 Read More

Come Clarity (2006) by In Flames

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Call me crazy, but of the two In Flames releases I’ve heard, I like this one more. It feels a little more varied than the other album of theirs that I’ve managed to listen to, and it feels like the band may have some (slight) versatility. This is still not my favourite stuff – the melodic vocals too often remind me of post grunge, for example – but I can appreciate their attempt to expand their boundaries (if only slightly) more than when it sounded like they were resting on their laurels. 7/10 Read More

Clayman (2000) by In Flames

Categories: 2000 and Music.

I struggle with a lot of the name metal bands out there because it feels like it’s not only acceptable but expected for metal bands to one thing (or, in this case, a couple things) well, stick to it.  But that doesn’t work for me. My favourite bands are almost all diverse; for whatever reason I like it more when a band can do many things well or even when a band tries to convince itself and its fans that it can do many things well, even if it sometimes fails in the attempt. And so I find myself listening Read More

Skullgrid (2007) by Behold…the Arctopus

Categories: 2007 and Music.

This is some utterly bonkers playing. These guys are clearly incredible musicians. Just incredible. But it’s half an hour of (almost) exclusively bonkers riffs and nothing else. There are a few moments (such as on “Canada”) when they move out of their (admittedly extremely difficult) comfort zone, but for the most part, these guys just shred and shred and shred. And eventually it gets kind of boring…or numbing. Anyway, extremely impressive from a musicianship perspective. But lacking in restraint (and songs). 7/10 Read More

Rust in Peace (1990) by Megadeth

Categories: 1990 and Music.

I have listened to a fair amount of Metallica and so I guess that instantly puts me in a “hey, this doesn’t sound like Metallica?” mindset which isn’t helpful. I feel like there is more of an influence on precision in this band, then the heaviness plus precision of some other bands. It’s a little too clean for me, I think. But that’s not to say there’s something wrong with it/I feel like, had I gotten into this early in my metal-listening career, I might have been a little more into it. It’s clearly a well done record, despite my Read More

House of Secrets (2004) by Otep

Categories: 2004 and Music.

Not having heard the initial album, where she apparently rapped, I can’t say what exactly about this is supposed to be nu metal (though I’m hardly a nu metal expert). To me it sounds more like what I might call emo metal, way to metal to be emo, but way to artsy fartsy to be straight up metal. Also, it’s signicantly more hardcore (or rather metalcore, yuk yuk yuk) than most nu metal I’ve heard.The relatively straight-forward metal is made less enjoyable by the sheer ponderousness and pretention of the concept, which makes me wish that some people just weren’t Read More

OU818 (1989) by Mr. Bungle

Categories: 1989 and Music.

This demo, their last before their major deal, starts out as a not very funny parody of a hip hop mix tape. Most of the actual musical material made it to the debut, and a lot of it is somewhat close to the sound of said debut, minus the production: the sound is clearly not up the Warner debut quality but also there is ample evidence that the band needed a producer (as in a person who would edit their work and tell them what works and what wouldn’t). And that may seem like an odd thing given that their Read More

Bowel of Chiley (1987) by Mr. Bungle

Categories: 1987 and Music.

This second Bungle demo is a lot closer to their “mature” sound than the first (if you can call early ’90s Bungle “mature”) but they kind of sound like a metal-influenced Camper van Beethoven on crack here. I guess that doesn’t give full credit to their weirdness – even at this early stage they were significantly weirder than CVB, but if CVB really was an influence on Bungle (and I can’t help but think they were) this demo reeks of that influence more than anything else they ever recorded. It’s way crazier than CVB ever got, but it’s also a Read More

The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny (1986) by Mr. Bungle

Categories: 1986 and Music.

Bungle’s first demo shows very little of the signs of their late demos that they were something unique in music, reviving a sound that had been dead since the late ’60s. And that’s weird. The demo is almost totally straight-up Metallica / Anthrax, albeit with a sense of humour that those bands never had. (Also, I hear Motorhead, but that comes through the Metallica influence. And there’s a death metal influence, I think.) The production quality is terrible. Only two songs on the album suggest this is not your typical thrash metal band: “Hypocrites”, a sort of ska pop song Read More