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Giving Slipknot A Chance

Let’s timewarp ourselves back to 1998 real quick.


The songs I’ve heard before are objectively the best songs! “Objectively”, yes – I mean, maybe if it was 1998 and I loved Iowa, I would think all these songs are f’in classics. But idunno. Lots of these Slipknot songs come off as lame. Like “Vermillion”. It just sounds like typical nu-metal, pretty generic with its growling and whatnot. Way too mid-tempo for me, sounds like a track by Cold or Coal Chamber. Especially when they’re cranking out aggressive burners like “Before I Forget”. Stick to what you’re good at, eh?

But anyway, overall, I love the variety within each Slipknot song. With nine band members, there are like 362880 things that could go wrong at any given moment. But these guys do a great job of switching from one sound to the next, and delivering some pretty dense riffage at times. Maybe not that dense compared to, you know, black metal, but it sure as hell was pretty dense for mainstream-friendly nu-metal. Even that track “Vermillion” does a good job of switching between clean and growly and shouty vocals.

Vol. 3 was not really doing it for me. I wonder how I would’ve felt if I were a Slipknot fan, hearing this back in 2002. Would I be pissed that it wasn’t as heavy and straightforward as their first album? Would I think it was the most epic and progressive thing ever?

All Hope Is Gone has pretty good production, and at least Slipknot evolved in SOME direction…but they kinda just sound like Pantera by this point. It definitely has some cool riffs, but it just doesn’t bring anything new or unique to the table. They get super-wussy on tracks like “Snuff” too. So yeah, I actually prefer them at their nu-est! Nu-metal fucking rules. I never thought nu-metal would make me nostalgic – I thought we could all just pretend it never happened – but I WAS WRONG.

  • Slipknot: A
  • Iowa: B+
  • Vol. 3: Subliminal Verses: B
  • All Hope Is Gone: C

Legends of Screamo

Here’s a screamo legend for ya.

Jeromes Dream were a short-lived screamo band from Connecticut.

I Won't Stop Wondering Until You Stop Breathing 

This post won’t make any sense until you click Play.
Notice anything ‘different’ about that voice? Well, let me explain. The singer of **Jeromes Dream** didn’t like using microphones. I guess microphones just weren’t raw enough for him? So that distinctive howl you hear, that’s what happens when you’ve got a dude screaming with all his might, but just left a microphone on the ground to pick up a few sound waves here and there. So, as powerful as his voice sounds, you’re not even getting a fraction of what you’d hear if he was screaming *in your face*.

Do you understand how insane this is?

So they would play shows, and their sets would only last about 10 minutes. That’s not atypical for grindcore bands…but hell, you can see why they wore out so quickly. Those vocals, those riffs, those drums…everything’s fucking FAST. And LOUD.

Side note: if you thought screamo was all myspace kids with slick haircuts, you were fucking WRONG. There was a pretty intense brand of screamo that some would describe as powerviolence. See also Combatwoundedveteran and Bucket Full of Teeth.

So yeah, about that “short-lived” thing. Jeromes Dream lasted for five years as a band (1996-2001). Guess what! Their singer ruined his voice. At the tail end of their career, he started shouting into a megaphone to give his voice a rest. Here’s an example:

Double Who? Double You! 

They called it quits after that, which is too bad, because I feel like their songwriting was getting a lot better at this point. They cranked out a lot of songs – over 40 on their discography set – and IMO the best ones are the later ones, which actually have clear melodies here and there, which have some ebb-and-flow to them. They got less grindy, sure, but I thought it was a good trade-off. Also, their new style was more sustainable.

The Bitter Taste of Truth

Sometimes I need to scream.

As I grow up, the more I realize that my problems hardly amount to anything. My teen angst, i.e. the soil from which I sprung, amounts to nothing compared to the actual struggles of, idunno, growing up in poverty? Not being a white male, perhaps? Yet here I am, barely distinguishable from a sea of young, angry white men, mad that the world isn’t what we were promised.

If I had to scream about my own problems these days, I’d scream about a sink full of dirty dishes. I’d scream about how my dating life keeps cutting into my beauty rest. I’d scream about how my kitten keeps on knocking things over. So when I scream, I gotta borrow words.

LETLIVE. is a new discovery to me, on their third album by now. They’re a post-hardcore group (Q: what is post-hardcore? A: think of the abrasive sound of 80s hardcore, funnelled into actual songs with melodies) from LA, that are masters at crafting catchy, vitriol-fueled tunes. After a couple spins through “The Blackest Beautiful”, I found myself humming along to choruses in nearly every song. And then singing. And then screaming.

Letlive. - Empty Elvis 

I seriously love this guy’s voice. The whole band exists in a realm between the beautiful screams of The Blood Brothers and the melodic howls of Glassjaw. Although maybe Men Women & Children is a better comparison than Glassjaw, considering the high notes this guy can hit. Yep, these are some of my favorite bands. Letlive. do this pretty unique thing where the voices are usually doubled, tripled even, while the guitars are pushed to the back of the mix. Sure, I love riffs, but this sounds fuckin’ ace.

There are some lame parts of this album, for sure. I don’t know what the lyrics are about, really – I’m here screaming about poster ghosts – but every time I hit this lyric, I cringe:

With government sucking the dicks of corporations
It looks like Uncle Sam finally put his money where his mouth is

Can’t lyrics be ambiguous so that I can make up my own meaning, please?

If home is where the heart is,
Then what do I do with this empty chest?

Too clever by half!

I’m kind of being a jerk though, because the lyrics deal with themes I love, such as love being bullshit, your idols being false, and your desires being spoon-fed to you by corporations to keep you running in their hamster-wheels.

Anyway, yeah, the production on this album is awesome, and the songwriting is excellent. Not usually the things I care most about with my heavy tunes, but hey, it’s really workin’ for me.

The Next Level of Heaviness

Before we get started, I’d like to make a note that I am the first person who noticed the similarity between these two album covers:

…well, I made this connection as soon as I saw the Altar of Plagues cover. Then it got mentioned in this review. Which is strange, because I told nobody that I noticed this.

Anyway. That’s not important. What IS important though, is that this is one of the best new albums I’ve heard in a long fucking time. One of those records that you just play again once you reach the end. One of those records that you worry you’ll “wear out” by listening to it too frequently.

Altar of Plagues were already one of my favorite “black metal” bands. And I use quotes there, because…well, what they do was never exactly black metal. It was very atmospheric, and had a lot of post-metal stylings, yet still had the traditional vocals and blastbeats of black metal. I thought “White Tomb” and “Tides” were pretty much perfect, with songs stretching above the 15-minute mark without feeling stale.

“Teethed Glory & Injury” is special because it pushes heaviness into unknown territory. They take their style and condense it into much shorter, harsher songs.

Altar of Plagues - Burnt Year 

Here’s one of my favorites – so bleak, so riffless! Seriously, I sing along to this song’s guitar parts, but they’re mostly just that one note. It’s a goddamn minor 8th, so you better get used to that dissonance, since it’s just a warmup for all the shit to come. That note cuts through layers of blastbeats, layers of growling!

“I watched my son die, buried.”

And it only gets bleaker from there.

Deathspell Omega

This band rules :)

I remember when I was playing Final Fantasy VII and I cheated to get a gold chocobo so I could get to that tiny secret island and I picked up the Knights of Round summoning materia, then I flew to fight Ruby Weapon and I cast Deathspell Omega and then Mimed that shit until he died.

Made you read, lol.

Anyway I’m pretty late to the DSO party. I really dig the new album, but apparently everyone who’s more metal than me likes their older stuff better, like their classic “Fas – Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum”. But you know what? It’s been over a decade since I took Latin, so fuck that noise! “Drought” works for me – pretty short and approachable compared to their older stuff. Great production, too.

Finally, A Krallice Album I Can Get Behind.

Krallice has been chugging along for a few years now, cranking out a distinctive style of droney black metal. Black metal is boiled down to its essence – tremolo guitars against blastbeats. The guitars NEVER STOP tremolling* from start to finish of each song. This means the band neglects a lot of aspects of music, like dynamic and rhythmic variation. It leaves you feeling a bit lost in the music, as a song with chug along for 10 minutes without really feeling distinctive.

That’s not to say it’s necessarily BAD because of this; self-restrictions lead them to a unique sound that’s still ultra-heavy, and it helps that these guys are extremely talented musicians playing at blazing-fast speed. I just couldn’t really get into them until I heard all the sick riffs on Years Past Matter.

Krallice - Years Past Matter

Krallice didn’t want to have distinctive track names, either. Hope you’re good at counting. Here’s my favorite track, with 9 Is, or as I like to call it, “Track 3″:

There’s a sweet riff around 4:45 that gets me every time; right at that part, I start rolling around with the blastbeats and I’m totally on board the Krallice train. (Yes, this song is over 12 minutes long. Krallice requires some endurance. If you can only concentrate for 90 seconds, go listen to Pig Destroyer.)

* not a word

Is This Album Cover Metal Enough?

Jesus Christ.

I love it.

Gorod is a tech / prog / death metal band from France.

Gorod - Elements And Spirit 

The whole album has this ‘classic’ feel – lots of wanky riffs going up and down scales, played blazing fast. This usually isn’t my cup of tea…but it used to be. I went through a phase awhile ago where I was listening to lots of Anata and Emeth. Bands like this just bleed with technical prowess, every riff cuts like razorblades.

I Want To Commit Murder!

Craft - I Want To Commit Murder 

I kind of like the restraint of this song title. Like, if this guy was truly evil, he would’ve just done it already…or he would’ve pretended that he runs around murdering people all the time like it’s no big deal. Instead, it’s like, MURDER: IT’S ON MY BUCKET LIST! (Just give me a minute to consider the consequences, the moral ramifications, etc.)

Metal bands fall all over themselves to be the most brutal, the most disgusting…CADAVEROUS MASTICATION, MUTILATE THE STILLBORN, every grindcore song title ever…it has a real comic book quality to it. Sometimes it’s best to step back from the arms race, to keep it simple.

“I want to dig your grave!” “I want to collect your shadow!” What is this, Pokemon?
But seriously, this song is pretty catchy for black metal.

Here’s a really helpful guide to murder:

Rick Santorum Declares War on Heavy Metal

Lollin @ “The WASP”:

EDIT (2/15): This post is pretty hilarious in light of the fact that renowned asshole Dave Mustaine endorsed Rick Santorum in one of the least metal acts of all time.

Let’s Talk About Love.

Maybe you think it takes some guts to say “I love you”.
Maybe you get choked up when you’re letting out the words “will you marry me?”

That’s nothing.

Try turning to your significant other and saying, “hey, maybe we should move out of our house, live out of our van, and just tour as a metal band for most of the year.”

That’s when the bullshit ends. There’s no way you can be dishonest at this point. If you’re not devoted to the metal lifestyle, then it’s time to walk away. You were just asked to join a menage a trois with Satan.

I was astounded by Jucifer when I saw them last year at the Black Cat. I ran home and blogged about it, kind of like tonight, another ominous, snowy night. But back then, maybe I didn’t appreciate the strength of their love. They are THE MOST METAL COUPLE OF ALL TIME.

Look. The most I can really expect of any girls I date when I talk about metal, is a “that’s nice, dear.” Maybe I can drag someone gutsy to see someone super-heavy like This Will Destroy You or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Fucked Up. And that’s okay with me, you know?

Well, it was okay with me. But then I see JUCIFER. The ultimate metal couple. METAL SOULMATES. I gotta find mine.

What’d You Get For Xmas?

I got this canvas print:

It’s from this guy. Recommended if you like skulls.

Potato Chip Metal

Sometimes you’re just not looking for anything deep. Sometimes you just need some good riffs and stupid lyrics and quick, fast songs to get your fix and get on with your day. Some days are perfect for Structures.

What's your favorite arithmetic symbol?

Structures - At Las(T) 

Structures - Hydroplaning 

Is deathcore okay to like? I’m here to tell you it is. I mean, if you accept its existence, this is TECH-DEATHMO.

THA FUCKIN’ GOVERNMENT!!! Why are these kids so pissed about it? Who cares.

I guess there’s a moment towards the end of “Hydroplaning” where, even after all the death-growling and spastic, shifting time signatures, they slip into early 00’s-era screamo, like they think they’re Saosin or something. That’s the moment where I get chills and think about my teen years and decide I’m too old for this band. But whatever. I’m glad kids these days are at least super-precise with their polyrhythms and have perfected their guitar tone. More power to ‘em.

Animals as Leaders: Instrumental/Jazz/Prog Metal Champions.

I’ve listened to a million progressive metal bands in my days. They were my bread and butter when I was a teenager; I didn’t care how lame the lyrics were, as long as the music was super-complex. Blind Guardian wrote whole albums about Tolkien! Pain of Salvation‘s least-lame concept album was about nuclear waste! Kind of embarrassing in retrospect.

But yeah, I’ve never cared much about metal lyrics. They’re usually dumb! I love metal singers, but I don’t want to know what they’re singing about! Ignorance is bliss. ‘Instrumental’ means nobody’s going to make fun of you for listening to music about dragons. Not that you’d ever give a fuck what anyone else thinks.

Animals as Leaders are the best prog metal band these days. They’ve got complex rhythms, sick riffs, and…god, there’s just nothing lame about it! It’s heavy through-and-through.

Their guitarist Tobin Abasi plays a custom 8-string guitar because six strings was just a waste of his potential. Check out these videos if you’re a guitar nerd like me. Otherwise, just watch this:

This video showcases their musicianship, yet is also ‘artsy’ in that Tool-inspired, whatthefuckisgoingon way. That’s exactly what I want from metal videos. Music videos in general, really.

I saw AAL open for Thursday and Underoath earlier this year. Everyone left the show talking about AAL because they were so unexpectedly amazing. Anyway, their new album Weightless is one of my favorites of the year, so without further ado, here’s the heaviest song:
this ain't the cover art, but it looks fucking cool.

Animals as Leaders - New Eden 

Spiral out, y’all.

yep, Metallica + Lou Reed = shit.

This is probably not news to you if you’ve already heard the first single, The View, a couple weeks ago. I love listening to bad albums every once in awhile, since it makes good music sound so much better by comparison. (That’s why I like to warm up for a metal sesh by listening to my favorite singer-songwriters.) I didn’t have any terribly insightful comments to add; it just sounded like leftover, undeveloped Metallica riffs that should’ve never seen the light of day, mixed with the ramblings of an old man. Chuck Kloisterman nailed it, though. Metallica, a decade after fighting against downloads that deemed their recorded material worthless, figured out how to fight back: by publishing music that is actually worthless. My favorite part is this footnote calling Metallica out for its other crimes:

An abridged list of things Metallica has done to cause its fan base to feel betrayed: getting haircuts, making a video for “One,” headlining a Lollapalooza tour no one really liked, responsibly dealing with their alcoholism, writing a song that required James Hetfield to sing on key, hiring a replacement for bassist Cliff Burton, replacing the bassist who replaced Cliff Burton, not having enough bass on … And Justice for All, not writing songs that were 11 minutes long, suing the same people who purchased their T-shirts, writing the song “2×4,” wearing trousers that cost more than $33, and transitioning away from a lyrical preoccupation with killing other people and toward a lyrical preoccupation with killing themselves.

I used to love Metallica; Metallica was my gateway drug into the world of metal. When I was learning guitar, I attempted to play every riff from their first four albums. I give Metallica a lot of credit for making it okay to play weird time signatures and play long instrumental songs. I gave Death Magnetic a chance! It had that one song with that okay riff! But yeah, best to ignore them now.

Put a bird on it.

On your band. Put a bird on your band. Make your band a bird band. DO IT.

This post is about Eagle Twin. Their album “The Unkindness of Crows” is an unrelenting sludgefest. I love the guitar tone, All the songs on this record are about birds, too:

In The Beginning Was The Scream
Murder Of…
10,000 Black Birds Of Hot Fire
Storytelling Of Ravens
Crow Hymn
Carry On, King Of Carrion
And It Came To Pass That Birds Fell To Earth As Black Snakes

Eagle Twin - Crow Hymn 

Crow Hymn is the apex of the album, IMO. It’s immediately accessible, it’s got some sweet riffage right at the start…listen to that fuzz!

Remember when Incubus put out that steaming pile of shit, A Crow Left of the Murder? Fuck that. I officially award this album the Best Crow Album Award. It’s one of those albums that flies by, the kind that lasts an hour but doesn’t feel like it. Oh hey, you can understand the lyrics on this album! Amazing. They sound ominous. They sound like some tale about how these birds don’t give a shit about you, and are probably ancient.

These guys are on Southern Lord, home of the sludge. (I wish that was their tagline. It should be.)

Circle Takes the Square

What does screamo mean to u?

Circle Takes the Square - In The Nervous Light Of Sunday 

Screamo is one of my favorite genres because it’s so dynamic. There are all these softer parts that give you a quick break from all the noise, then they keep hitting you with these really abrasive riffs. Their drummer is INSANE – can’t believe how fast and accurate it is. This band is closer to grindcore than any other genre (yeah, it’s that intense).

Honestly it makes me sad that most metal bands don’t write memorable lyrics. I usually just tune them out, because who the hell can understand them anyway? Plus, once you do, you’ll be disappointed to find out they’re secretly a Christian band, or misogynist, or whatever.

That’s why I turned to SCREAMO. Screaming is how you celebrate metal/hardcore. The greatest singers IMO are the ones with so much energy that it’s contagious. Listening to all that noise, you need a way to fight back, to let out that energy. Luckily, the lyrics are strangely catchy. So of course you’re going to scream along “that you curse! curse constantly!” whenever you can. You’re going to scream at the show, at your laptop, on the street while iPodding, etc.

Oh also there’s a chick singer/screamer in this band so obviously I’m in love with her.

marry me plz

A Metalhead Reviews, What Was the Hipster?

Noone would ever write a book called, What Was the Metalhead? You’d get your ass kicked for pulling something like that.

First of all, metal ain’t dead. Remember the scare of 1992, when everyone thought that grunge killed metal? Well, it just went underground in America, some cool stuff happened in Europe, etc., and everything was fine. And metal is better for it; lots of bands even adopted more of a ‘grunge’ attitude, eschewing guitar solos, blah blah. And metal’s been thriving ever since. It will never die. It’s unstoppable. As long as people still need an outlet for their darker emotions, metal will be there for us.

Metal’s been around for 40-some years, and hipsters couldn’t even last a decade. You know why? Metalheads stick up for each other. We’re brothers. Hipsters fall all over themselves, trying to be “so cool” that they destroy everyone around them, and eventually self-destruct. Hipsters have no common background under which to unite, except maybe that of “white privilege”. Cool club, guys…I’ll just be over here, hanging out with the longhairs.

[in response to this article over at Pinnastorm]

Here’s what you need to know about OCEANSIZE.

Oceansize was a great progressive metal band that broke up last week. When you think of “bands that Tool obviously influenced”, these guys should come up. The basic structure of an Ocensize song is, themes slowly develop over the course of a song, building up to an epic climax. Hmm, so is this post-metal? Because that’s exactly what happens in a post-rock song, so they took that formula and added distortion. Anyway, it’s that with sung vocals. If you like Dredg, you will probably like this.

They put out two albums that were quite good. Here are my favorite songs from each:

Oceansize - The Charm Offensive 

This song has the same structure as Tool’s “Pushit” or “Eulogy”, for example – verses and choruses for awhile, then BAM, epic ending, usually with lots of screaming and loud riffs. The reason I enjoy tracks like this is that they’ll just be playing in the background, gaining my acquiescence, then they’ll grab my attention in a flash. “Why is this awesome?” I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention! I’ll have to re-listen to the songs just to get the nuances I missed the first time.

I guess I’m a little late on this screamo band

But oh god they are awesome. This is a little grindy at first but then falls into beautiful melodies, which is exactly what I want songs to do. 2007.

L'Antietam - Dear Dead Man