June 22, 2010
So that’s a little of what’s been going on. Unlike what I said before I won’t be reviewing the System’s Officer record because I wanted to have a little fun with a metal album and I’ll show you what I mean later. I wanted to choose a fairly mainstream band that most people paying attention to the metal scene would know. As fate would have it… As I Lay Dying was releasing their Powerless Rise album. Now… this is about as mainstream as I’ll ever get on this page. I know they are on an “Indie” label, but this band has been around since ’01 and is five full-length releases into their career, although with a few line up changes. I wanted to have the review up before or just as the album came out on May 11th but just couldn’t get around to it, plus I wanted to do something a little special.
I remember listening to the Shadows Are Security album in the years after high school when I was getting into standard metal stuff like Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom etc, and didn’t think too much of them even then. I even remember them playing at Club Denim (back when it was club denim) the same night I tried to promote a show, (back when I tried to promote) which didn’t work out well for my attendance. Even then the pop choruses tended to bother me, but the fact that they could be unbelievably heavy, I could not deny. So having grown out of almost all strait up stuff like that, I listened to the new album with hopes that they had grown in all ways, but still maintained their previously established heaviness.
My first listen I was actually pretty satisfied with a lot of things. The speed parts are damn heavy with great layering of multiple vocal styles around the main growl. The first song has a really great old school speed part halfway through and the rhythm is actually a little bit on the different side. But the beefs that I will begin to have with the record start to become apparent almost immediately. The first two riffs go back and forth like a pendulum, leading perfectly into the solo, leading perfectly into the breakdown, which leads perfectly into the repeat of the original metal-core riff. This track is called Beyond Our Suffering… Now, I’ve already had a few rants on how pissed I get when metal bands try as hard as they can to be as cliché-metal as they can in their band and song names, so I won’t even start.
Anyway, the album moves on to ANOTHER song that’s in-between two and five minutes long called, Anodyne Sea. It’s in this song that you can really start to hear a distinct positive of the album and an area that the band has clearly worked on. Of course I’m talkin’ ‘bout the solo. It’s not just the riffing or the shreds or the sweeps either, which can only ever follow the harmonic structure supplied by the rhythm and bass guitars (Unless you’re Muhammed Suicmez… then you just do what you feel like). They impress me on many occasions with the quality of the solos, but never seem to break out of the classic metal-core song structure, tone, or feel. Although, if there is an exception to that it comes in the third song, which is aptly titled: Without Conclusion. The reason it stands out is because it’s the only time on the album where they incorporate blast beats with any efficiency, if at all. This small part at the beginning flat out SHREDS! Yet you only get about 9 seconds of it in the whole song! I know I rag on bands for doing the same thing over and over, but why do that part for 9 seconds and the same metal-core part with the snare on the ¼ note for more than half the album.
Now I promise I won’t make you read me talk about every song so the last one I’m going to talk about specifically is called Parallels. This album doesn’t have a title track (thank christ) but it seems the one that most fits the bill, is Parells indeed. Reason the first: Traditional production methods have the main single or title track at positions one, three or four. Reason the second: This song has the most cliché metal intro of all time. I actually laughed out loud when I heard it. Reason the third: It has the standard heavy metal riff into catchy metal chorus. Reason the fourth: That pattern repeats followed by the bridge and the solo (which is pretty slick in the sweeping department) Reason the fifth: The chorus is the catchiest on the album and the producer new it, as he chose to repeat the progression at least 20 times. This song just seems manufactured to be some bastardized version of “epic” so that the fans have a song title to yell out at shows. This is the last song I’m going to talk about in full.
The rest of the album is more or less more of the same. There are some things worth mentioning though, like an insanely heavy riff just after two minutes into the last song, (unfortunately it goes into a breakdown I’ve heard all too many times) or the incredibly slick tapping transition in The Plague. The fact that they didn’t incorporate too many of the lame hardcore breakdowns is one that I completely welcome. It’s like they replaced half the cliché breakdowns they’d normally have, with a couple of nice old school shredding parts like the beginning of Without Conclusion and towards the end of Condemned. Upside Down Kingdom is probably the worst song on the album and gives new meaning to phrase “album filler”. Anything else specific you can hear for yourself I’m sure.
So I’m, going to take this opportunity to so have a little fun with this album. If you’ve read this blog or talked to me in person you probably know that my biggest beef with metal music these days is that too much of what’s going on is too interchangeable and boring. So I decided to test my theory. What I did was bring every track from Powerless Rise into Protools and try to edit a new song out of parts from all the others. Now this might be a harsh thing to do to a band, but it’s not a direct rip on As I Lay Dying, but rather all bands that tend to write like this. Obviously some edits you can hear and aren’t as smooth as a song would be. I actually prefer this Frankenstein song over the real songs because the slight changes in feel and tempo make them sound much more technical. There are 16 edits in all, using every song, even if for only two seconds.
What can I say about the production? Well like I said before, the vocal layering is really well done. He sounds really deep at points (end of The Only Constant Is Change) or high and full of presence like in most transitions leading up to a fast part. The guitars sound up the industry standard of “heavy,” as do the drums. Not that the industry standard really floats my boat, but it’s not something I could complain about. I really enjoy how the bass was often mixed clean, even during some more intense parts. When the guitars have that much gain in the tone, sometimes adding more elsewhere on the track takes any resemblance of tonic stricture away. Indeed, sometimes that is the goal, (Meshuggah) but not all the time.
As a whole it’s really hard to find a part on this album that is not in strait four timing. It’s also impossible to find a song on this album that doesn’t have at least one repeating progression that uses strait sixteen’s on the kick. When you have an album with eleven short songs, that have nothing to do with each other, yet all still incorporate the same musical style, structure, feel, idea, and purpose, it starts to become very tiresome. That in a nutshell was how I felt after listening to it the first time and indeed how I feel after listening to it all a few times.
Anyway… sorry for the delay on this review. I’ve had a bunch of other stuff on the go and couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write a review. Especially after still getting shit from Baptized and Odium fans. Hopefully it won’t be as long for the next review from me. The next review in general should be from a different distributor and should be the first ever film review. So look forward to that.
for our glorious dead..
Hill of yage
This week I’ve been listening to: SLEDGEHAMMER!
Dear god this band is amazing! A tech/prog metal band with no guitar player! check them out!
This week I’ve been watching:
Going through The Pacific for the 3rd time. So much intensity and power.
January 26, 2010
Hello peoples! it’s been a while so i thought I’d say what’s up!
So that’s what’s goin on! I’d also like to talk a bit about the best albums of 2009 as I haven’t posted since the new year. So I’ll give you 4 albums. I’m not going to rank them, and I’m not going to say they are any worse or better than any other particular album, they are just 4 from last year that I think deserve mentioning.
#1 is Between The Buried And Me’s “The Great Misdirect”. I know I said that I wouldn’t compare albums, but this is the exception. They have proven once again that they are the greatest and most complete band since Pink Floyd. This album once again takes them in a new direction but not straying too far from the “Colors” vibe and tone. In fact I would say that the two albums are the most like each other of any of their albums and at first I thought maybe it was too similar. But after listening to it everyday since it came out, I’ve found that the guitar tones are incredibly similar at some points on the album but the similarities really stop there. This is the first album where there are discernible structure in some songs as well as a full acoustic song (and not an emo one like on The Silent Circus) as well as an obvious attempt to show their blues and classic rock influences. All in all they are the best… have been since Alaska and will be for the foreseeable future. This is not something that can be argued or discussed… this is fact. They are by far the most complete band without going into the obscurities of jazz-fusion… which when you look at it BTBAM is exactly that.
#2 Is the newest from Converge called “Axe To Fall.” This was an album that I tried writing a review for but couldn’t come up with enough of a review to really do one. Basically this album pummels you from beginning to end with a couple of mellow spots to breathe. The 3rd track which is the title track is just so crazy and forward driving it’s hard to take in all of the mayhem at once. A Quick note for all the pussy hardcore bands out there… THIS IS HARDCORE! The album is a bit too strait forward to rank it up there with the absolute best of the best. But, they play around with a lot of cool poly-rhythms and show they are masters of their instruments. It also has some of the best vocal layering around. Props to the engineer! This is one that you want to buy if you love hard shit but don’t want to spend months of your life trying to figure out exactly what the hell BTBAM is doing, or can’t get into the sporadic nature of Dillinger.
#3 Is from one of the most epic bands ever… Russian Circles. This one might not have made it on to this list had I not already done a review on the newest Mono album, praising it’s beauty enough for one man. But I don’t want to take anything away from this album as it is indeed mind blowing in every way. In typical Circle’s fashion they are huge, heavy, and epic without making a fuss about it. This album has some of the best bass tones ever. That is because they make it sound huge but rarely with a lot of drive and mostly amp tone. PROPS TO THE ENGINEER! If any band proves you don’t need lyrics to be heavy… its this one. But how can that be if the guitars are floating so nicely and aren’t even that dirty most of the time? The answer is simple. It’s how the songs grow and how the guitars are layered with each other and with the strings. It’s the attitude you feel in the bass when it comes in perfectly with the drive of the drums. It’s because this band knows how to grow a song from the dirt up, build tension, and then release the tension with pummeling bass and drum grooves. They are one of a few bands changing the definition of heavy right before our eyes and it gives me goose-bumps just to think about it.
#4 Will be an odd pick for most people but Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for “Moon” truly deserves to be mentioned with the best albums of last year. As most people know I have a passion for movie soundtracks. I feel it’s a different and sometimes much more difficult skill to write music to an image and try and capture someone else’s feelings rather than your own. I’ve been a fan of Mansell’s since watching the movie “Requiem For A Dream” and then “Pi” shortly there after. He also wrote the music for “The Fountain” which was performed by “Mogwai.” So his resume is very impressive and has made him a bit of a hero of mine. Anyway, he out-did himself once again with the soundtrack for “Moon” (which is also one of the best sci-fi movies ever… go watch it now!). There are so many musical ideas, sounds, and textures going on at most points of the album it can be hard to wrap your brain around. But there are also incredibly basic hypnotic sections that can send you into a trance with reverb-saturated grand piano. Anyone who is interested in synth based music or any music with a ton of electronic textures needs to check this album out immediately!
So thats it! Check back for a full review in a couple of weeks time! In the meantime… DON’T SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS THAN PURE ART…
hill of yage
August 19, 2009
Hello all. As you may or may not have noticed it has been a massively long time since I’ve posted. It is %100 my fault, but I wanted to do something a bit special for this post. I have decided to do an interview along with the review this time. The album I decided to talk about is the one I said I might at the end of the last review. The band is called “Dancing With Paris” from Toronto. Paris, referring to the name of a stripper and not the city… if you were wondering. The EP is called “There’s Something In The Water” which is a short, 7 track, 19 minute disc. This EP was released %100 digital, without pressing even 1 copy. Which is not completely unheard of, but different for sure. Unlike usual, I’m going to jump right into the album including some quotes from the interview and I will include the interview in full at the end.
The first track is a short intro called “Sand Castles” which is an ambient creepy bit coming to an end at 42 seconds. This track is purely a lead in to the best and most powerful song on the EP called “Bled Dry.” The song starts out extremely powerful and has a bit of a math influenced rhythm, dropping a beat through the first phrase and adding one in the second (or something to that effect). Right off the bat you can hear their main vibe of the record which is the big powerful low end of the 8 string guitar. “The 8 string 7 string 5 string combo was a new edition to the writing process when we wrote this EP. When we did the early demos, that was a 7 string 6 string 4 string combo,” says James Manning from DWP. The song goes from this powerful vibe right into the strait up pop/hardcore groove with catchy vocals. Those that know me know I’m not a fan of these sections in most music or ever. That is true on this record as well. It’s not something I can be down with. But at the same time they don’t abuse like most hardcore bands. They have it in there to be more relatable, more accessible to the average music listener. So I have no issue at all with this vibe and influence being brought into the mix. My issue with these sections is that the melody that is used in almost every song, is the same broken melody that has been used at nauseam since bands like Alexisonfire came on the scene. In this song the pop-hardcore vibe doesn’t last long though, as they go into one of the my favourite breakdowns probably ever. It’s pretty basic but it is just so crazy and intense. The 16th note breakdown that comes in at about 55 seconds, really kicks your head off your shoudlers, and is pretty random as it separates the two structured, more pop influenced sections. James had this to say about the breakdown, “Bled dry breakdown is absolutely rediculous. I don’t even know what to say about it, hence why there were no vocals thrown in there. it stands out on it’s own and is absolutely brutal.” The song finishes with a great “b” chorus with more open heavy guitars and growl under the singing. Overall, a great track.
Moving on to the middle section of the EP, we come to the 3rd track called “Orange Country.” This song has a bit of a weird electronic vibe at the beginning under the low heavy 8 string guitar. In a lot of ways I find this to be the weakest track on the album as they don’t really leave the slow quarter note triplet vibe the entire song save for the slow drawn out breakdown which is definitely pretty heavy. They make up for it though, with a short track called “(Boardwalk)”. This track is such an excellent, ambient, instrumental break from the rest of the album which moves seamlessly into the 5th track called “Hardwalk (Of Champions).” The transition is so seamless that at first listen you don’t even know the vibe has changed until they add the big bend on the 8 string. The section at the beginning of this track is one of my favourites on the album, as it has great play between the two guitars, especially in the panning. The riff has a bit of a cool rhythmical idea and the two guitars are thrown back and forth, front and back and all around. When that is used creatively with the way the riff is, it makes for a great section. The rest of the track has the token vibe of the album, with the heavy guitars and catchy vocals.
The album ends with a couple of cool tracks. Track 6 is “Titanic” with starts with a pure intense vocal bit “This is a sinking ship!” Which leaves me to say to myself… “hmmm sounds about right”. The main riff of the song is pretty basic but has a great little riff in the back which changes to a great ambient riff in the background as the song progresses. One thing I came to notice in the band is that whenever the low end power part of any song is starting to become a bit tiresome I can usually hear the cool ambient riff in the background. That is no different in this song. This makes the strait breakdowns, when the ambience is dropped out, much more powerful. The last track is the title track of the album and other than “Bled Dry” is probably the strongest song on the EP. It’s the longest song, at just over 4 minutes and really incorporates all the ideas they were trying to get across on the EP. Therefore, my complaints about this song are the same as on the rest of the record. The pop parts are a bit of a “been there done that” vibe, and the heavy guitars abuse that quarter not triplet that is so hard for any metal based band to stay away from. Especially from 3 mins till the end that vibe is a bit tiresome.
Let’s talk about the musicians shall we! Nothing individually really blew me away. The vocals have great intensity in both the high scream and the heavy growl. His singing, although is not my style, gets the job done. But, I would need to see them live (which I plan on doing) to know the true quality of his singing voice. The guitars really don’t do anything complicated on the record. But they do throw some really cool rhythms at you and there are a couple of fancy riffs in there that show some mastering of the instrument. That being said, the vibe and the overall musical philosophy doesn’t really lend itself well to the crazy solo’s anyway. Although, I would still like to hear the odd section with some diddly, but that might just be me. The bass is hard to comment on because there is so much low end to begin with and he is almost always just shadowing the 8 string. This is about all you could do in this band I’m sure. The drums are also hard to comment on because it’s such a breakdown driven band he doesn’t really have the opportunity to do a lot. But what he does is tight and he’s got some cool transition fills in there. In the future it would be cool to see the drums take a bit more of a polyrhymical approach like he does a bit on the snare in “(Boardwalk)”.
Production on this record really is second to none. DWP used the same guy that is currently working on our record, Shawn Lefebvre. He didn’t do anything overly experimental with the production, but it sounds absolutely massive! You can hold this record up to pretty much anyone in the business and the production will compare. This opinion is incredibly biased though, so I will not say anything else. I do want to talk about the album art for a bit. Seeing as it’s all digital they made a cover for every song in Itunes. Which I think is just incredibly cool! The art is amazing and you should check out what James said about it in the interview.
Overall, I really enjoy the EP. It’s not the most unique album out there but it puts almost every hardcore band out there to shame. The issues I have with it I already stated so I won’t talk about it again. In the future I would like to see DWP mess around with their melodies a bit more in the choruses. The band that does the catchy melody the best is Isis. If they incorporated the kind of vocal vibes on the “Wavering Radiant” album for example, they could bring their catchy sections to a whole new level. I feel they are moving well towards the vibe I’d like to see them take in their heavy sections as they incorporate some cool math type parts and they already listen to Meshuggah. So if they take any lessons away from them at all I will be pleased. So, ya decent record especially for their first release. I strongly recommend going to get it. IT’S FREE, and clicking the first picture at the top takes you right to the download link. You are literally 2 clicks away and 3 minutes away from getting the record. So there is no excuse with this one.
Anyway, Thats it for the review but the interview is really cool and I couldn’t have been more happy with the answers. So here it is. Sorry for the cliche ones but they have to be asked and I got them out of the way first.
1. How/Who came up with the band name? Any Good stories behind it? Any significance?
James: The dancing with Paris name came from a story about Terrence and me and our buddy dan at a strip club. There was this gorgeous stripper named Paris and Terrence fell in love LOL. Well not really, but he had to have a lap dance from her. (He) couldn’t get her so we went back another night. (He) still didn’t get her because she was fighting with I guess her boyfriend? Anyways, one night a few weeks later we decided to go back, he was gonna get this fuckin lap-dance! We get there walk out and the strip club had been turned into a furniture store. Terrence never got the lap dance so Dancing With Paris was born as a name out of that story.
2. I can hear the Meshuggah influence, but what other artists have shaped the musical philosophy and writing of Dancing With Paris?
James: This EP embodies every tiny influence we have in it. I think it draws on every artist. Obviously Meshuggah, but also Holly Springs, A Day To Remember Vanna, Fall Out Boy, Straight Reads The Line, classic Alexisonfire, Dredg, Deftones, Refused, Glassjaw you can probably find spice girls and lady gaga in there jk. But seriously there’s a lot more, that’s just the obvious.
3. You guys obviously abuse that 8 string vibe in the heavier sections. Do both guitarists use it? What make/model(s) are you guys rockin? Was that a tool you guys used when the band was formed? If not, was it a conscious decision as a band to go to that vibe? or did one of the guitar players just see a deal at Steve’s one day one a sick 8 string?
James: The 8 string 7 string 5 string combo was a new edition to the writing process when we wrote this EP. When we did the early demos that was a 7 string 6 string 4 string combo. Wilson is always at the bottom of more strings tune down. He plays an 8 string Ibanez, I can’t remember the model. Brad plays a 7 string Ibanez and Frieday plays a 5 string Ernie ball bass man I believe. I forget that kinda stuff all the time. Either way Wilson’s 8 is tuned to F# and there is a rumour of his interest in a 9 string LOL.
4. You guys are on Twitter, which is obviously becoming insanely popular. Have you found that it’s helps with any aspects of growing your band and your brand in general?
James: Twitter is a funny thing. I have my own, I use the band’s myspace, and I love facebook. But with Twitter if one person is always doing it you don’t need to. in our case Wilson does most of it. from what I’ve seen though, it has it’s many uses. Quick updates, quick news, and alot of ppl use Twitter. i use it for other bands that I like and it gives me all the updates i need. I know Twitter helps spread the word.
5. We’ve seen the benefits of doing the free download as we had over 100 downloads of the torrent as soon as we put it up, almost surpassing all of our Itunes sales. You guys released the “There’s Something In The Water EP” completely digital and completely free right off of the bat. What benefits have you guys seen from that? What other measures have you guys taken as a band to stay financially viable?
James: Free downloading is amazing. I’m a broke motherfucker so I can admit I download. Although if I had money I would still buy CD’s because I love them. I love opening a fresh cd and listening to music through my technique stereo at home. It’s old but the sound quality is awesome. So what? Well here’s the advantage. ppl don’t know us? Well get aquanted and don’t pay a cent. We don’t make money on CDs but who does anymore. If ppl download our EP love it come out to a show party and buy merch. We still make money. and they got free music to love. Here’s why. People now have the option to pick what they listen to. You have two bands you’ve heard are awesome, one album is free and the other one you have to pay for. You haven’t got money and u have never heard there music. You’re gonna download that freebe. We can be that freebe. Who’s gonna spend money on a band they’ve never heard before? I always download then buy. it’s like an HMV listening booth in ur home. But also we may eventually press and sell hard copies for the peeps that want them. There are ppl who have asked me when were gonna do that.
6. You guys are all from Toronto. What is it like trying to break into the incredibly tough Canadian music industry in the most crowded market?
James: Being from toronto is awesome, but there are problems. Too much going on. Always big bands coming through and awesome shows going on like Blink and Fall Out Boy just played here. The problem with that is bands coming up in a city like this do shows and can’t draw or struggle to draw new ppl because we have the bands that everyone wants to see. So ppl go to that instead or ppl go to clubs or anything. There’s just so much going on. When you go outside of Toronto, smaller towns don’t have that, but the bands like ours come to those small towns and everyone goes to the shows cause that is the main thing going on in that small town. On top of all that there is an endless variety of bands of various genres trying to make it in this vast city. Especially hardcore, or metal styles of music, it’s really hard.
7. Being from Guelph I have found that the city and the music coming from here has influenced my writing and my musical philosophy in general. What (if any) influence has the Toronto music scene had on Dancing With Paris?
James: Now on the bright side, Toronto has alot of interesting characters. I grew up in scarborough which is the absolute east side of Toronto. I’ve met alot of interesting people which lyrically I crafted those ppl/themes into our songs on the EP. It’s such a big place and you can always find something to do whether it’s a bush party or a house party, I still tend to wind up swigging 40’s somewhere. Also, though I think growing up here shapes who you are. If it wasn’t for this place I wouldn’t be who I am doing what I am doing now. Where you grow up is a part of you always and forever will influence ur life. Of course I can’t speak for the whole band because two members live in aurora and one moved here from Milton. Dunno if Toronto affects them.
8. I LOVE the album art. It’s one of my favourite attributes of the EP. Who did the art? Who came up with the concept? and who’s Idea was it to do the dual cover for itunes?
James: The album art was done by Wilson. He has a line out called Willi-Lines which he does all online from their website. He painted everything then Piers our manager photoshoped it all together to make it what you see when you download it and throw it onto your iPod touch or iPhone or whatever media device it’ll show up on. I love it it’s awesome. the idea to have different art was Wilson and Piers I think.
9. You guys worked with Shawn Lefebvre on this record. Where did you record with him? Describe your experience working with him and how much (if any) influence he had on the tracks, other than the mix of course.
James: Shawn Lefebvre! Awesome to work with. Knew how to handle all of us. Did way more then just mix, record, master. As soon as we finished writing Shawn was in there with us doing pre-production, re-structuring the songs to make them flow better making them tighter. Once that was done we headed out to Drive Studios in woodbridge to record drum tracks. We spent the whole day there. The rest of the EP was done at Shawn’s studio in the west end of Toronto. Shawn was also fully emersed in production as well. He edited all my lyrics to make sure they made sense and threw in some lines as well. Over all experience was absolutely awesome. Definitely wanna work with him again in the future and I recommend him to anyone who’s serious.
10. DUDES! What it is with that RIDICULOUS breakdown in “Bled Dry”? So simple but so crazy!
James: Bled dry breakdown is absolutely rediculous. I don’t even know what to say about it hence why there were no vocals thrown in there. it stands out on it’s own and is absolutely brutal.
So that’s it for the interview. I’d like to thank James and the band as a whole for agreeing to do the interview. It’s definitely something I’m going to try more often. Thanks again guys!
That’s it for me! Until next time… keep saying no to kitsch!
Hill Of Yage
This Week I’ve been listening to: The Doors (thanks a lot sweetheart)
This Week I’ve been watching: British Office and Peep Show (lovin the BBC)
July 22, 2009
Alright so my brother just posted a list of his 50 most important books and one of my fathers has asked me a few times for a list of 50 album recommendations for him. So I thought this would be a good time to do that and I figured I might as well post it here so people can see what I’m into. There are a couple of things I’d like to point out first.
Reservation The First… I mostly just threw this list together. I’m sure a couple of albums slipped my mind as it was extremely hard to narrow it down to 50.
Reservation the second… Although I took many things into account when picking albums (influence, longevity, musicianship etc) there is obviously a large amount of personal bias and personal influence that also went into picking this list.
Reservation the third… I am still very young and obviously have not listened to nearly as much music as I should have or will in the future. So this list is based on what I have listened to enough to get a handle on in my life.
Reservation the fourth… I know people will disagree, if anyone even bothers to read this. Please comment and let me know how stupid I am for picking a certain album or leaving one off.
Reservation the 5th.. There is no real order to these picks except that the first on the list is clearly #1!
Kind Of Blue – Miles Davis
Sketches Of Spain – Miles Davis
Mirrored – Battles
Pet Sounds – The Beach boys
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
The White Album – The Beatles
Alaska – Between The Buried And Me
Colors – Between The Buried And Me
The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Bob Dylan
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
Movies For The Blind – Cage
Salvation – Cult Of Luna
Saturday Night Wrist – Deftones
Calculating Infinity – The Dillinger Escape Plan
Morrison Hotel – The Doors
All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone – Explosions In The Sky
Celestial – Isis
Axis: Bold As Love – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
In The Court Of The Crimson King – King Crimson
Arrangements For Fulminating Vective – Lye By Mistake
Avalanche – Matthew Good
The Audio Of Being – Matthew Good Band
Nothing – Meshuggah
Hymn To The Immortal Wind – Mono
One More Step And You Die – Mono
Harvest Moon – Neil Young
Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
Ummagumma – Pink Floyd
The Wall – Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Evil Empire – Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine
Chaos AD – Sepultura
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, And Time – Simon & Garfunkel
God Hates Us All – Slayer
Bass Extremes, Vol. 2 – Steve Bailey & Victor Wooten
Couldn’t Stand The Weather – Stevie Ray Vaughan
Texas Flood – Stevie Ray Vaughan
Lateralus – Tool
The Unforgettable Fire – U2
A Show Of Hands – Victor Wooten
Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers
Extraction – Dennis Chambers, Greg Howe, and Victor Wooten
Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs – Derek And The Dominoes
Word Of Mouth – Jaco Pastorius
Impressions – John Coltrane
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
Road Apples – The Tragically Hip
Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin
Portable Immortal – Immortal Technique
July 20, 2009
* DISCLAIMER – None of what I write is affiliated in ANY WAY with theyageletters or any other member of said band. I write purely for my creative output, a constructive way to get rid of my boredom, because I love music, and because I love writing. None of what I write has anything to do with anyone’s personality. If you are in a band that I talk about or are affiliated with one, and somehow take offense to what I write than I feel sorry for you. I rarely get more than 30 views a day. So if you seriously get upset and pissed off about a dude sitting in his room writing in a blog talking about your band…. please grow up. If you take the time to actually read the reviews you will see that I honestly make an attempt to be unbiased and I talk about the music only. If you disagree or have issue with my writing style I encourage you to leave a comment or talk to ME… no one else has ANYTHING to do with this blog in any way. A new friend of mine put it perfectly… This blog is like masturbation for me. Talking about music is an urge. It may piss some people off. I knew that going in and I’m prepared for pissed off comments. My band mates do not deserve the same as they have nothing to do with my writing. I write “Hill of Yage” at the end because that’s how I tag everything. If you sincerely want to be a musician or be in the music business there are going to be people giving you, or an artist you represent, bad reviews. If you aren’t prepared for that…. GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE INDUSTRY! This next one won’t piss anyone off…
So I’m going to do a bit of shameless self promotion at this point before I talk about the album. We spent the last week at “The Pocket Studios” in Toronto recording our second release. The studio is owned by Mike Turner who, as you may recall, played guitar for Our Lady Peace on their first four albums. If you don’t remember which the first four are… they’re the ones that aren’t brutal. Before meeting Mike I assumed he was a bad ass dude, and after meeting him we have confirmed that yes, he is a bad ass dude! So many cool stories to tell, and such a cool down to earth guy. I don’t want to gush and go on and on so all I will say is that I used the guitar for this album that he used on Clumsy… ’67 Les Paul… enough said. Our engineer was also bad ass. We were/are working with Shawn “Ninja” Lefebvre, who is a fellow graduate of the Music Industry Arts program. This dude definitely knows what he is doing when it comes to engineering and getting around a protools session. I was trying to do some editing for him on the go but could not keep up. Although I was using a small laptop that recently had a rockstar energy drink spilled on the keyboard. No excuses though, I need to get better and faster. Long story short, the album is going to sound incredible and is completely different from Hieroglyphics. By the way there is now a torrent of that album available (www.mininova.org/tor/2773773) so go steal it!
So it’s been a while since I’ve posted a review. Although the traffic on the site has been fierce. Traffic may be a nice word to use though, when it could be described as backlash in response to the “Odium” review and the “Baptized In Blood” review. Lots of good threats and “what the fuck do you know?” type comments. The comments and my responses to them are worth a read as they are pretty entertaining. My favourite is a guy who took acceptation to my comments about the singer from Odium’s voice saying that it’s a lot better than the vocals in our band. Which is hilarious considering the band I am in is %100 instrumental. Anyway, I’m going to talk about a band whom none of those people listen to, so maybe I will get some different comments. The band is “The Appleseed Cast” who are becoming quite the veterans of the indie rock scene. They are represented by a couple of different labels, but the ones closest to home are “The Militia Group” and “Vagrant”. If the latter sounds familiar it’s because it’s a pretty huge label with a bunch of big names on it. They have a very large range of genres as well which is nice to see. Their artists range from bands like Alexisonfire, The Bled, Alkaline Trio, Protest The Hero, Moneen, Autumn To Ashes, Thrice, and Senses Fail, to a more mellow side with artists like, Dashboard Confessional, City and Colour, Placebo, Olivia Broadfield and too many more to name. They come from the mid-west and are into their second decade as a band. Although they’ve released only six albums their style and influence range greatly through the six albums.
This is a band that I have been exposed to just a very little bit as a member my band is into them and I have their entire catalogue on my itunes, save for their first album. That being said I must say that I am not a huge fan of their early works. I have not listened to their first album but the three that follow that all don’t do much for me. It’s just too much of a pop and emo (that word just seems so dirty now) vibe throughout. The vocals are so indie and the music is pure pop based. That being said, if you like catchy music that will play over and over in your head for days, the early catalogue is worth checking out, especially “Two Conversations” released in 2003. But like any decent band they have grown and incorporated new and different influences. By the time they ended their three year break in 2006 with the “Peregrin” album you could notice a significant change in all aspects of their music.
The album I’m going to talk about is called “Sagarmatha” and has been playing pretty constantly in my itunes since I was aware of it’s release and grabbed a torrent file. Itunes says I’ve listened to it 7 times! which is about 5 more already than the average play count on all the other albums. So why is this album different from the rest? Well it’s obvious right off the bat with the first song called “As The Little Things Go” which establishes the main style of the album immediately. A style which I would simply call dreamy. The guitars in this song play off of each other so well. Both main parts are so different yet work perfectly, reminiscent of bands like Explosions In The Sky. This is also a theme throughout the record. The difference in the percussion is also shown clearly right off the bat with varying intensities and the willingness to slowly tear the beat down and build it back up again utilizing the full kit right down to the tambourine. I also love how a band that is supposedly “Indie” or “Pop” doesn’t even have the vocals come in until almost 7 minutes of an 8:15 song. This trend continues right through to the second track called “A bright light” which is another lengthy song at 7:05. This one has a bit more of a throwback to their older stuff at the beginning with the upbeat drums with shaker overtop along with catchy vocals. But this brings me to the biggest difference on this album, which is the way the vocals are mixed. Instead of being in your face and at the very front of everything they are pushed to the back, drenched in reverb, doubled, tripled, and layered with backing vocals that are equally drenched in reverb. This song has such a great dreamy riff at about four minutes in with a really catchy bass and drum groove layered with some pad, e-bow, and the delayed guitar (which they admittedly abuse). When the bass and drums drop out at the end you are left with a really cool, trance-inducing fade, which continues right onto the next song called “The Road West”. This song is about as ambient as I’ve ever heard this band with a very minimalist beginning until the song kicks at about 2.5 minutes. Epic is a word I would seldom, if ever, attach to this band’s music but this song is pretty close to that as they really build up and tear down the main riff incorporating different layers and textures including a great synth vibe that starts at about four minutes into the eight minute track. The obvious attempt by the band to be more instrumental is one that I obviously enjoy and is a direction I’m glad to see them take. The first three songs are a combined 23.5 minutes with about 3 or 4 minutes of vocals including the third track which is completely instrumental.
To me the album has three clear sections. A long three song chunk at the beginning which takes you into a dream followed by quick middle section including the fourth track, “The Summer Before” which has the catchy vocal melodies the band is known for. This song has a much more strait up vibe with a normal progression on the guitar and more of a verse and then chorus progression. It would be a great choice for a single, but I wish they would continue the song for a bit longer as they really only do the one verse and one chorus. This is followed by a quick two minute song which brings back some of the acoustic guitar vibe they have used to great effect in the past. This is song is called “One Reminder, An Empty Room” and is another one that I would have liked to see go on for another five or six minutes. “Raise The Sails” is about as intense as the band gets. There are even some sections with some drive on the guitar! The songs on the album feed into each other really well as they always seem to carry vibes over. For example this track has a great powerful outro with a drum based groove to end and then has “Like A Locus” picking up with the drum driven groove right where it left off. This quick four minute song is a great example of how the band incorporates electronics into their music with great effect and is one of my favourites on the album.
The third and final section of the album starts with the second-to-last track “South Col”. This song is the most rocking out on the album, and is the only song to push the tempo. But the dreamy vibe is not lost. The vocal layer is used to perfection. The main vocal has all the presence you need to make them feel like they are in the same room but with enough reverb and space added to keep the ambient vibe that is all over the album. It also makes it easier to transition to the great back beat middle section. This song, in general, probably has the best transitions of any song I can think of in their catalogue. Especially at the end when they take a piano solo and pile a bunch of layers all at ounce and then remove them effortlessly to go right back to the piano vibe. We end off the record with a funky little song called “An Army Of Fireflies”. This song is really the only song where the drummer shows his skills with a beat at the beginning which is just plain sick. The beat is grown perfectly throughout the 4.5 minute song which is one long crescendo and perfect way to end the album.
Overall the album is great and I see myself listening to it many times in the future. They have clearly taken the good ideas they have established in their early work and taken their music to a whole new level. That being said if you’re looking for something busy or an album to rock out to, this is not an album for you. They never really leave their dreamy trance like vibe. Individually it’s hard to comment because the music in general is pretty minimalist. But if I had to comment I would say the musicianship is lacking as the guitar players lean on their delay pedals a lot and the bass player doesn’t stray too far from the root notes. The vocals were great as the simple melodies are catchy and sit just overtop of everything like a cloud. The drums also don’t stray too far from the simple pop beats. That, coupled with the simple bass, minimalist guitars, and basic melodies adds up to a lot of space. This is obviously the goal, but being the metal head I am I can’t help but think to myself “look at all those wasted 16th and 32nd notes that could be filled with…” I guess that’s why I’m not in a band like this. The production is about what you would expect. It’s simple and not fancy. The drums sound like indie drums with an emphasis on the bottom of the snare, not so much the attack of the stick, and a warm tone overall. The bass and vocals are the highlight of the production as the bass is just so warm and round and as I mentioned earlier I love how the vocals are more in the back and dreamy.
Well, that’s all I have to say about that album. If you dig simple, mellow, ambient, yet catchy music I strongly recommend grabbing a copy. They sell them on their myspace for the regular indie prices. They also have a vinyl version for sale with a bonus track. You could also just grab a torrent like me and you won’t be disappointed either way. They don’t have any shows up accept a festival appearance in Kansas so we’ll all have to wait to check them out. As for the next review… I’m not sure where I will turn. Our engineer just produced a metal band with some cool attributes that I haven’t really had a chance to check out yet. Maybe that’s what I’ll do.
Until next time… keep spitting in the face of everything that is kitsch!
Hill of Yage
This week I’ve been listening to: New Beneath The Massacre album… same old, same old for them. But such crazy intense music with unreal guitar work.
This week I’ve been watching: All of Family Guy season 7! so funny… Every thing’s better with a bag of weed!
This week I’ve been reading: Not much… some pretty fucked up Adbuster’s articles in studio.
June 28, 2009
Before I jump into this album I would like to talk a little bit about a couple of things. First is a discussion I had with a reader who took a bit of an exception to the Baptized in Blood, “Gutterbound” review, saying I should take it easy on these guys who are working hard and love what they are doing among other things. I’d like everyone who reads this to keep in mind none of what I say is meant as a personal attack on anyone. I am interested in talking about the music only. If I say negative things about the music of some great guys, than that’s the way it happens. The Yage Letters have our good reviews and bad, of course. I would never take any bad review personally. If anything it gives me more drive to be a better musician, get better at my craft, and work harder over all. The discussion is worth a read but for some reason won’t show up on the article unless you click on the article title and look at it individually. But please do and comment back what you think.
Some of you may remember that at the end of the aforementioned Gutterbound review I said I wasn’t going to talk about metal for a while. But when I noticed that one of the most curious metal bands around is about to release a new album I changed my mind. This band is called “Job For A Cowboy” and make no mistake about it, they are about as intriguingly heavy as it gets. They’ve been a pretty big name in metal since their first major release called “Doom” and since have released a bit of a more polished effort in 2007 called “Genesis”. They are on an the american indie label, “Metal Blade.” This is a label I had heard of before because of a couple massive names in death metal, “Cannibal Corpse” and “Cradle Of Filth”. The latter has since moved on from the label. But in checking out their artist list I have come to realize just how big this label is. They are home to over 75 metal acts, which to me seems like way too many. But they do have some big names like the previously mentioned Cannibal Corpse as well as, Behemoth, Soilent Green, The Black Dahlia Murder, Gwar, Six Feet Under, As I Lay Dying, and Cattle Decapitation. The last band in that list I have never heard of. I simply put them in there because that could be the worst band name I have ever heard. They also have a band on the label called “Goatwhore”. What the fuck? So some big names and some hilariously heavy bands on the label, making it a suitable home for Job For a Cowboy.
This is a band I remember trying to get into in the summer of 2007 when I was in “training” for a job at the notorious Better Beef slaughter house. Which is an ironic thing to talk about after seeing “Cattle Decapitation” on that artist list. Anyway, a dude at the same training session heard me listening to Between The Buried and Me and had suggested Job For A Cowboy. So naturally I looked them up. I listened to a couple of tracks and quickly turned it off, in fear of having my soul torn apart by the madness or that a portal to hell would be opened and I would be sucked into an eternity of torture and suffering. In all seriousness it was just too overtop for me at the time. I have since given them a second chance on recommendation from a friend in London who shall remain nameless in case he doesn’t want his name dropped on the interweb. So I downloaded the two albums they had out at the time and was actually very impressed with “Doom” because of it’s crazy fast blast beats, unique vocals, and some definite silly moments. Genesis was a bit too much of the same old same old as far as their style was concerned so I was very excited to hear their new album.
So lets talk about the music shall we. The opening track is suitably named “Unfurling A Darkened Gospel.” As you might guess it is %100 pummeling right off the bat. A quick drum fill and it’s right into the madness that is Job For A Cowboy. This song like some of the rest of the record and a lot of their old stuff has some of the fastest blast beats I’ve ever heard and enormously heavy low end vocals. This track also has a couple of things they didn’t do a whole lot of on the other records. One is the creative layering of the vocals. Jonny Davy combines his dark deep and demon summing low vocals with either Brent rigg’s (bass) vocals, or an overdub of his own to create a wall of heaviness. There is also a pretty crazy solo in the middle of this track that shouldn’t go without mentioning. The second track has one of the most ridiculous transitions I’ve ever heard at about 1:07 into the song. The song is “Summon The Hounds” (which automatically makes me thinking of Mr. Burns) and which starts as usual with the fast 8th note on the hats and snare on every quarter with lightning fast double kick. The aforementioned transition comes out of this into an equally insane blast beat. The two parts themselves are nothing overly special. But you hear the transition coming and assume it’s going to the be average triplet over 8th note drum fill but quickly turns into a drum clinic that lasts almost 20 seconds and is sure to make your pants wet.
Constitutional Masturbation is your classic Job For Cowboy, but the one recurring theme has an incredible blast beat rhythm. The snare is the classic 16th note triplet but on the ride he plays an incredible math progression that I can’t quite figure out with the accents played beautifully over the math guitar riff. This is something he actually does a couple of times on the record and of course they throw the slow punishing riff at you at the end. The 4th track is called “Regurgitated Disinformation” which is pretty much the same title as the previous track in meaning. The track uses some good high screams which I love about this band but doesn’t have much to write home about accept it ends with some of the heaviest vocals I have ever heard. At this point in the record it came clear to me why i initially couldn’t get into this band and it’s an issue I have with a lot of these bands. Like Beneath The Massacre for example. At first glance and listening from a far it’s pretty much impossible to distinguish one song from the next. But let me assure you, if you take the time to get into the music, most songs have their own unique attributes, but the vibe never changes. I will talk more about this later.
You have probably noticed just as I have, how cliche the names of these songs are. The 5th track is no different and is called “March To Enslavement” and actually has a pretty cool first 45 seconds with an interesting drum progression. It is also the longest song on the record at 6 minutes, where as the rest are around the average single length. This song also incorporates the most layering of vocals. I wonder if the increased use of this was a production call by someone or a conscious decision by the band during the writing process. The vocals on this track are just so good. There is a section at about 4 minutes where the scream sounds almost like a vomit at the beginning. So awesome and dirty! He follows a couple of those with a massively long vocal bit that goes from his extreme high screech all the way down to his lowest of the low growl, reminiscent of Tommy Rogers from Between The Buried and Me who does that frequently. Although Rogers does everything that is possible with the human voice.
Like most bands that do the average 10 to 13 songs of 3 to 5 minute length, (especially if they do the average one album every one or two years) the middle section of the record tends to be filler. This band is no different. Tracks 6 through 8 seem to be songs they just threw on to make the record the appropriate full length size. That being said every song on this record is a drum clinic including these ones. This is especially true on the 8th track, “Psychological Immortality” where it is pure ridiculous speed the whole song. Note to all the hardcore bands around these days: Don’t call yourself hyper-speed, thrash, speed metal, or whatever, until you hear this song or this band in general.
The album finishes fairly strong. Track nine is appropriately titled “To Detonate And Exterminate” and it does both often. I dig the fact that they change a lot in this song and never dwell on the same riff for too long. This includes the last change to a great doom part that reminds one of everything that is deep, dark, or black. This section also has these pinch harmonics in the background that last a good 10 seconds and those who know me know that I love a good pinch! The album finishes with the title track. This is definitely the most complete song on the record and incorporates more ideas and influences than any other song in their catalogue. It is even, dare I say, ambient at times! It’s also the only song where the drummer isn’t constantly crazy. Although he is still impressive. This song also shows the power of the vocals in this band more than any song on the album. It truly is a stand out as the band grows the song like a post band almost.
Normally at this point I’d talk about lyrics. But to be honest the lyrics are completely meaningless in this band. Just think of the vocals like another percussion instrument like most metal bands and you’ll do fine. So let’s move on to the individual musicians. The two guitarists are Al Glassman and Bobby Thompson. The type of music and the way they write really makes it impossible to distinguish which one is the lead or rhythm. They are clearly sick players and have considerable control of their instrument. My beef is that the riff writing is pretty “been there, done that” type progressions. They also never really solo save for the first song. They are pretty one dimensional on the record, but that being said they are better at this one dimension than I ever will be at any. Plus if you can keep up with these tempos and with this drummer you must be doing something right. The bass is not really worth mentioning other than the fact that I can actually hear it, which is more than most bands in the genre can say. I’ve talked about the vocals quite a bit already so all I will say is that no band I’ve heard comes close to this level of punishment from the vocals. It’s what bands like Lamb Of God wish they could sound like. I don’t know enough about the band to know exactly which parts are Jonny’s and which are Bobby’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jonny just does them all on the record and Bobby is purely live. If that is the case, than Jonny has a huge range and shows it. My one and only beef with the vocals is that he doesn’t do that dirty “pig squeal” that you hear so often on the “Doom” album. I don’t need to say anything about the drums either really… but i will. Jon Rice is definitely one of the most insane drummers I’ve ever heard. I would love to see this band live to see if he can do it all in person. Judging by videos on youtube he can. But live in person is a whole different beast. They are playing at Mayhemfest (link in pic above) which has some decent bands playing. But a lot of shitty bands too. So I doubt I’ll go seeing as I’d have to pay stupid amounts of money to have to sit through Mushroomhead among other lame acts.
The production on this record is really second to none. The drums sound about as natural as they can in this genre, which is to say they don’t really sound natural at all. But the kick at least has some life and the snare isn’t that annoying ping with the huge long reverb like so many other engineers abuse. The apparent loudness is top notch which goes without saying. Everything sounds huge, which goes without saying. The only real problem I have with the production choices is the annoying reverse delay that metal bands have been using since the early 80’s. It’s time to lay that effect to rest.
Overall I rather enjoyed the record but it’s not one I would recommend to a lot of people seeing as it’s just so over the top heavy. One massive plus is that there isn’t even one lame cliche breakdown! Thank God. The band in general has kind of painted itself into a corner with this style. They are so heavy and crazy that it’s hard to take a new approach to their music. In order to brach out with different styles and go even slightly less crazy you will instantly have the metal heads who don’t even know what they are listening to with this band, which is ironically most of their fan base, casting them out as sell outs. So they pretty much have to stay in this style which leads most people who don’t like the genre, which is the majority saying, “Every song sounds the same.” This I can completely sympathize with if you aren’t like me and look for little nuances in the blast beats and silly little changes in the music. It’s a catch 22 most metal bands have to deal with. Just look at The Dillinger Escape Plan with their last record. They put in some choruses with a melody and tons of stupid fans who have no idea what Dillinger is even doing labeling it as their worst record. Piss me right off.
So that’s all I have to say about that. Any ideas for something I can review in later weeks, no matter what the genre, as long as it’s new and independent please just leave a comment.
Until next time… keep waging war on kitsch
Hill of Yage
This week I’ve been listening to: Eluvium! this band’s music is so gorgeous and powerful it’s hard to describe. I fell asleep to it last night and had the most strange and wonderful dreams. I then woke up in such a weird surreal state. GO LISTEN TO THEM!
This week I’ve been watching: Finished Lost season 5. I can’t even believe what happened this season! so many questions answered… finally. I love not having any clue what’s going to happen in the next episodes.
This week I’ve been reading: First couple chapters of “Catch 22.” Pretty good so far… too early to tell.
June 11, 2009
I’d like to start off topic and say that I was at the Isis/Pelican show at The Phoenix last week and it was fantastic. It was one of those shows that really inspires you to keep making music and keep pushing to get to their level especially because they are both such a similar genre to us. That’s all I have to say about that.
So, you may recall me mentioning that I was going to talk about the new “Minsk” record. I have decided not to, because it would just be too biased. Almost as biased as my first review about “Hymn to the Immortal Wind.” Let me say though, that it is a great record. It’s called “With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone” and I highly recommend going out to buy that one or getting a free version off the net. You wont be disappointed. Anyway, after deciding not to review Minsk, I spent a while searching various indie label websites for some new albums that seemed interesting. One of which was “Hydrahead” who is home to a lot of great bands like, Jesu, Zozobra, Tusk, Pelican, Mare (who are reuniting for one show in Missassauga June 20th, which is the same night The Dillinger Escape Plan play in Guelph… I am hoping to go to both) and many more. But the one that caught my attention was the new “Big Business” record. I have everything by this band on my itunes and am fairly familiar with them, but they aren’t a band I listen to regularly. They have a really unique sound but they seemed too strait up for me to really get into them.
I bet at this point you’re saying, “But Andrew, who is this band and what are they about?” Well!… They are simple, but huge sounding sludge metal or doom-punk (if that’s even a genre). They have a pretty interesting back story. The band was founded by two members, Coady Willis on drums and Jared Warren on everything else. They are almost completely bass driven and so in the early days either performed as a two-piece or with a guest guitar player. The two also were members of the “The Melvins” on the “Senile Animal” album and did a fairly large tour as members of the band. If you are unfamiliar with The Melvins I suggest getting into them. They are a whole different world of music and such a unique sonic experience . Big Business like The Melvins have a distinct silly side to them which I could not love more. Since touring for their second full length, “Here Comes The Waterworks” they have added a permanent third member on guitar to fill the sound out. The lucky guy is “Toshi Kasai” who fits their sound perfectly. With the enormous success of the aforementioned album and touring with Tool for a leg on their last tour, their next album was highly anticipated and was finally released on May 12th of this year. The album is called “Mind The Drift”.
Right away the album drew me in because of the cool drum intro to the opening track “Found Art.” The drums, although never complicated, sound incredible throughout the record. They sound natural and you can tell it’s a human playing the drums. Which is a refreshing change from the last three albums I reviewed. The pulse of the first song is impossible to ignore and has you tapping your foot and bobbing your head. They don’t stray too much from their style on the first track with the intense low end attack and powerful bass driven riffs. This coupled with the unique vocal style of Jared Warren makes this band sound like no other band I’ve heard. The only vocals that are similar that I know of are that of Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead fame. The songs are usually fairly short and around the normal single length. But none of them are “single” type songs as they really don’t follow much structure. After having your chest kicked in with the pummeling vibe of the first song they go right into one, which is fairly similar, but with some cool attributes. Although I didn’t listen to the older Big Big business a whole lot, I don’t ever recall them using synth or samples very much if ever. The second second track, “Gold and Final” incorporates a cool sample throughout the first bit of the song which is used to perfection to create tension right before the big low end filled down beat before bringing it back at the end as a cool fade out.
The third song may be my favourite on the album. It’s called “Cats, Mice.” The 3/4 vibe throughout creates a great hypnotic feel that is sure to have you swaying with a partner (if there’s one around). The song also showcases Toshi’s guitar a little bit, although the music is always fairly minimalist and none of them really show off. The lyrics are great in this song, especially the main lyric which is, “Cats, Mice, rapped in their own device.” or “Cats, Mice, locked in their tricks tonight, quietly wait in the shadows.” This song also shows a writing technique they use throughout the record and not a whole lot on the other records, which is the use of back up vocals. It sounds simple enough, but they use them to great affect and they add so much to Warren’s vocals. This is also used with great affect in the fourth song which is the most silly on the record. It has a great punk vibe but with a cool poly-rhythmical guitar at the beginning which has a great old school punk tone as well. This middle section in general is probably the most solid on the record including the title track which immediately follows. This song is the most classic Big Business vibe with the overly-simplified big bass riff with drums building around it. This song has the biggest and most obvious “Chorus” in the song. For being a sludge band this chorus is extremely catchy and has you singing the main line over and over, which I’ll talk about a bit more when i talk about the lyrics as a whole.
The last three songs don’t disappoint either, although they are definitely that classic Big Business vibe. They do however keep you interested with some different additions that you don’t hear on their other songs or records. “Ayes Have It” has a really cool organ part throughout with a bit of a different outro and “Cold Lunch” has a bit more guitar than normal overtop of a bit of a flashy drum intro. The last track called “Theme From Business II” is, in the simplest terms, awesome. The build is great and the samples in the background create an enormous amount of tension right before the drums come in fully at about two minutes in. The build is the longest on the record as the song takes about eight minutes. If you know me, I love the big long build so it’s no wonder I really love this song, especially with the guitar play during the second major build. This song has the most variety in parts and the most cool transitions as it moves from the almost funeral march first build into an almost happy and over all epic last half. The drums are phenomenal on this track and are a great example of how to build up and tear down a song using the drums. There are a lot of bands, some of which I have talked about on this page, that should listen to this track in order to gain this important skill.
Lets talk about lyrics. The lyrics are just great on the record with lots of weird metaphors and imagery that leaves the meaning and emotional impact up to the interpretation of the listener. The rhythmical style of his vocals is great too and different in most songs while playing off the bass so well. The lyrics of the title track are a good example of everything he does well, and it’s short so I’ll let you read the whole thing.
You take the east, I’ll take the west
If we end up in the middle then we’ll know
You start sinking, better grab your oars and row
Can’t draw a map with honey
Not a lesson, that’s just good advice
Unexplaining how it happened twice
It happened thrice
If you’re talking you better be walking
And please take the path that you know
You stop thinking, making up the words as you go
As you go
The production on this record is second-to-none. The band went with a familiar face in Phil Ek, who produced their two records preceding this one. Big business has such a unique sound that they rightfully went with someone who knows the sound well. Phil Ek along with whoever did the mix (can’t find that out anywhere on the net. I guess thats a bonus of actually buying the album and having the liner notes) did such a great job with all the tones. Being as bass driven as it is, they made sure the low end was so massive and pummeling that you can’t mistake the tone for anyone else. The only bass tone I’ve come across that’s bigger is a band called “Lightning Bolt” who is insane! The drums sound so natural on this album! This is something I’ve noticed as a trait with most Hydrahead bands. The toms sound so huge and the kick drum sounds like… well… a kick drum with actual musical quality to it. The guitar sounds great too. Although with seemingly nothing above 1K in the mix, save for the pick of the bass, the engineers had a lot of space to work with for the guitars and vocals. The vocals are mixed great too, with tons of layers all the time.
Musically they all get the job done and have compiled a lot of really great, well-written riffs. But those who know me know that I love a little bit of show off. Especially when there is space to do so. I know they go for a simple vibe and are a groove based band above all. That being said, there are some spots that the guitar or drums could have ripped for a couple of minutes and I would be happy. Toshi shows he really knows his place in the band though, as he mostly just lets the bass and drums build the songs and plays texture around the vocals. Which is what you would expect in this band.
Overall I really can’t complain about this record in anyway. It’s not my favourite band or type of music. But it’s different and definitely gets the head banging. I recommend a listen to anyone who likes cool music and I will definitely see them if they come around this area. Although they aren’t coming to Canada on this upcoming tour, they are heading to Detroit if anyone want to drive through a ghost-town/state to see some good sludge metal. Anyway, thats all for me for now.
Until next time… NO MORE KITSCH!
Hill of Yage
This week I’ve been listening to: “Behold… The Arctopus!” Such a great jazz-metal band from New York. Dude plays a 12 string bass and they have a song called “You Will Be Reincarnated as an Imperial Space Turtle.” What more could you possibly want! Also a quick side not… Blind Gaurdian is right after Big Business in my itunes so I also listened to almost their entire discography and I don’t know whether to love them or laugh at them. I guess that’s their goal though.
This Week I’ve Been Watching: Just Started Lost season 5… judging by the first episode I’m in for a mind-fuck of a season.
This week I’ve been reading: Not doing Dune yet. Just got a book called “Catch-22” from Luke. Apparently it’s a dark comedy about the Second World War. Can’t wait!