Friday, April 16, 2010

Hiatus

My life has been fairly busy with various extracurriculars, and I am going to be taking a prep course for the LSAT that will take up quite a bit more of my time. Therefore, I have decided to take an extended break. However, I'm not just going to forget about this blog; I most definitely will be back, most likely in June to give a report on NEARfest (I'm going to see Steve Hackett on the Friday show).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jon Anderson report

This concert definitely wasn't worth the $45 I paid to see it. You see, I expected that Jon Anderson would have, you know, an actual backing band behind him, so I was pretty dismayed when I entered the theater and all that was there was a guitar and a keyboard with no instruments for the rhythm section at all. Yes, this show was just Jon singing and banging out rudimentary chords on a guitar (and occasionally, piano).
I'm going to try not to sound nasty, since I know that Jon has gone through some health problems that probably helped lead to him being kicked out of Yes. When I looked around on the Internet, I noticed that there were only a few other dates before this one, so I'm going to guess that he had doctor's orders against a more rigorous schedule. To his credit, his voice sounded perfectly fine, but I guess he just couldn't find anyone who was willing to back him up for just a few dates.
And he played lots of Yes material, which doesn't really lend itself to such a stripped-down arrangement, especially for a non-virtuoso like Jon. These songs just don't sound right without an entire group of expert musicians playing along. (Then again, the 80's songs like "Owner of a Lonely Heart" sounded even weirder in this format.) Yes songs without the cool instrumental sections feel like what would happen if you removed all the cool sound effects from the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows", where all that would be left is one cord being played on a sitar over and over.
I hate to say that this is the worst concert I've ever been to, what with me only having been to about half a dozen, but it was. It didn't help that I was almost right next to some buffoon who was loudly requesting "Holy Lamb," an obscure song from "Big Generator" for the entire show. In the end, it was just kind of depressing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jon Anderson Concert

I will be attending a solo concert by Jon Anderson of Yes tomorrow night, and will be giving a live report the day after. I decided to go to this concert instead of the Yes concert in June because I can't accept any version of Yes that's not fronted by Jon or a reunion of the Drama lineup.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Terrible Album Covers: The Slamburglars - Cookie Monstrosity


Yeah, I have no idea what they were going for here, either.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What isn't metal

The metal community today has very strong opinions on what doesn't count as metal which don't always match up with what the mainstream thinks. Here is where they diverge:

70's hard rock: Although it was called "metal" at the time, a lot of hard rock bands like AC/DC aren't considered metal today. The website Metal-Archives doesn't really have standards on what does and doesn't count among 70's bands, which ends up in them leaving out AC/DC and Led Zeppelin while including Rush, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy. Although I don't agree with all of their decisions, I think their case-by-case approach is best.

Glam metal: A lot of hair metal bands aren't considered to be metal by metal conouisseurs today. Metal-Archives includes bands like Motley Crue and Def Leppard because they consider their early work to be metal enough to get entries. I think the genre is more hard rock than metal, and by the 80s, there was enough of a difference between the genres to distinguish between them easily.

Nu-metal: It's been said that metal is rock and roll with the black influences stripped out. That's not entirely true (some doom metal bands are quite bluesy), but I say that nu-metal is rock and roll with the black influences stripped out and newer, more recent black music awkwardly spliced in. Nu-metal fans are generally mocked among the internet metal community. I think it counts as metal, but it's a terrible, terrible subgenre that should be ignored.

Grindcore: Some people consider grindcore to be more of a subgenre of punk than metal. I haven't listened to the genre enough to form an opinion.

Metalcore: This genre combining hardcore and metal is also not well liked among metal stalwarts. I like a grand total of one band in this genre, Between the Buried and Me. Metal-Archives takes metalcore bands on a case-by-case basis, but they used to have an entry for BTBAM and now they don't anymore.

These are just some of the genres that people aren't sure about whether they're metal or not. I'm not sure about some of them, either.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Meads of Asphodel - English Black Punk Metal

4/10

The Meads' latest release is a split featuring the recording debut of fellow English black metallers Old Corpse Road. Their half of this split, "The Bones of this Land are Not Speechless," is fairly decent black metal in a progressive vein that's not quite as eclectic as the Meads' work, but still fairly enjoyable. However, it's not what I'm reviewing.
The Meads' half gets off to a great start with a hilariously obscene rant by Metatron, and the song "On the Surface" is pretty good, although it's a little heavy on the synths. However, the other songs are all covers, and I find the first three to be just as dull as the ones on "Life is Shit". However, "War Drum" is a pretty good crossover thrash tune. But they saved the worst for last, with a cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" which tries way too hard to make it into a metal song, and it ends up being a trainwreck that's almost as bad as Six Feet Under's Graveyard Classics albums and isn't as funny as a Ten Masked Men cover. This is the third Meads release in a row that's only for completists, although Old Corpse Road's half is worth checking out for fans of black metal.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration Plague

6/10

Evisceration Plague is a fairly so-so effort from Cannibal Corpse. The fast songs here are perfectly fine, but they don't vary a whole lot, and one gets a little burnt out on them after a while. The slower efforts like "A Cauldron of Hate" and the title track are awesome songs that are perfect for headbanging, and I really wish there had been more songs like these. Sure, Tomb of the Mutilated was my favorite CC album and it was pretty one-note, but that album had dark, murky production that was fairly unique for the band. Evisceration Plague is well produced, but in no that's more unique than many other death metal albums.
That's not to say that there aren't some great fast songs here, though- the first three songs are all really good, and "Carnivorous Swarm" does a great job of evoking a horde of buzzing insects. It's just that most of the songs on Evisceration Plague kind of blur together after a while; they're pretty good while they're on, but only a few stick out in my mind after the album's over. This one's not the worst CC album, but there are others that are much, much better.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Terrible Album Covers: Big Bear - Doin Thangs


To be fair, I like the concept here, it's just that the Photoshopping is abysmal. Those two black bears in the background are clearly the same picture reversed. There's a rap record label that's really notorious for these tacky album covers, but I don't remember its name at the moment.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cannibal Corpse - Centuries of Torment

9/10

NOTE: The following was a review I wrote over a year ago for the site metal-jerks.com. I decided to leave it as is and post it here.

To celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary, Metal Blade Records has released this 3-disc retrospective DVD chronicling the history of Cannibal Corpse, and it is excellent. I’m normally not that interested in music-related DVDs, but this one is packed with interesting information and hilarious footage. Disc 1 contains a three-hour documentary on the band’s history that features all Cannibal Corpse members past and present (except founding guitarist Bob Rusay, who was apparently impossible to track down). There’s scarcely a wasted moment on this disc; my favorite parts were old footage of band members screwing around with a camera and how lead singer George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher gave most of his interviews in front of a bookcase full of action figures that were still in their boxes. I knew he was nerdy, but not that nerdy! I also liked getting to see people associated with the band who I previously only knew by reputation; cover artist Vince Locke looks nothing like you’d expect someone who drew such gory images to look like.

Disc 2 is a set of Cannibal Corpse performances from all eras of the band (although the Barnes era is underrepresented). I liked this disc, but it was my least favorite of the three; I’ve never really cared that much for live DVDs. The second disc also contains all of the band’s videos. Disc 3 contains a bunch of themed collections of footage that didn’t make it into the first disc. My favorites among these were “Sickening Metalocalypse,” which covers Fisher’s recurring role on the Adult Swim show; “Every Ban Broken,” which discusses the censorship problems that the band has faced in countries like Germany and New Zealand, and “Covered With Ink,” which shows how die-hard Corpse fans have gotten images from the band’s notoriously gruesome album covers tattooed on them.

I only have one major complaint about this DVD set- the sound just isn’t loud enough! I watched this on my laptop, and even with the volume turned all the way up, it was noticeably less loud than actual Cannibal Corpse songs being played on iTunes on the same laptop. You’d think that a DVD about a band like CC would be as loud as possible. But despite that, I heartily recommend this DVD set. It’s highly entertaining, reasonably priced (at just $25 US), and has plenty of material (well over seven hours). I give it five out of five skinless, rotting cadavers.