28 December, 2011

The Day the City Died

Been sleeping in lately. Talking like 20 minutes 'til 11 kinda shit. It's been nice. Much needed, you could say, but wouldn't have to, cuz I just did for ya. Another cool thing about sleeping in is that by the time you wake up the world can't help but fall before you in ecstasy, after having waited so impatiently for you to finally rise. //I remember blurry flashes of  Margaret in a gray peacoat molesting me with kisses, but the first thing I recall upon rising this morning was the urge to run outside in the cold rain and kiss the ground and rejoice that I am alive to witness each new day God's most perfect creation - that we know of. I must've really been having some terrifying, super stressful nightmares. Or maybe it's because I actually don't have work today! Also, Sam texted me while I was sleeping, telling me to put my Top of the Year list up. Lucky for him, I already compiled something similar, if not better, on Christmas Eve and Day; which were spent largely by myself - hence the title. But what's the point of getting into that here and now when we've records and rankings to talk about?

But first, let's head over to Sam's and see what he's got going on at OW,ND. (Seriously, all you atmospheric, nature lovin' blackmetalheads better heed this shit. Sam's out there knowin' firsthand what Agalloch screams about e.g. "A curse to those who corrupt these sacred woods!") //Wow. What a beautiful and sad post. Largely sad, ultimately beautiful.

Then without further adieu, here is - instead of a best records year-end list - here is a very long, quite exhaustive, yet regrettably inconclusive mix(/in no way of list of any sort) of my favorite songs of this year. Download it, listen to it loud; and "No, I don't expect you to listen to it all in one sitting." "But you do expect me to listen to it?" "Correct."

Aaaand . . . here's the suggested cover art:

Disc One
1. "Generation" by Liturgy
2. "Lidless Coffin" by Morbus Chron
3. "Takyon (Death Yon)" by Death Grips
4. "Butt Krieg is Showing" by Wormrot
5. "The Number of the Word" by Negative Plane
6. "Spitting Blood" by WU LYF
7. "Omens" by Ulcerate
8 & 9. "Rift/Apex" and "Parasignosis" by Mitochondrion
10. "Tetrastructural Minds" by Vektor
11. "Bathyscape" by True Widow
12. "Territorial Pissings" by Surfer Blood
13. "Broken Bone" by Iceage
14. "Distorted and Twisted to Form" by Exhumed
15. "Elegant in Their Funebrial Cloaks, Arisen" by Encoffination
16. "See Through Dreams" by Death
17. "It's Inside Me, and I'm Inside It" by Cloudkicker
18. "Weatherman" by Heidecker & Wood

1. "The Day the City Died" by Hammers of Misfortune
2. "Telluric Rings" by Krallice
3. "Entropic Collapse" by Oskoreien
4. "Drover" by Bill Callahan
5. "Borrowed Times, Borrowed Eyes" by SubRosa
6. "Bloodletters" by Tombs
7. "Fall Creek Choir Boys" by James Blake with Bon Iver
8. "Into the Black" by Samsara Blues Experiment
9. "Necromania" by Midnight
10. "All the Heavy Lifting" by Mastodon
11. "Jesus Fever" by Kurt Vile
12. "Shame on Blue" by Wugazi
13. "Astral Blood" by Wolves In The Throne Room

While you're waiting for those to d/l. why not check out Chester Blacksmith's We The People spot? "Keep the Germans busy, if not: they'll start a World War" Acid drop to feeble on a rail? Huh?

16 December, 2011

"Even if you don't like Black Metal or anything to do with Satan . . .

". . . enjoy the music!" 
- Dagon of Inquisition last night, December 15th, 2011.

I'll never, for the rest of my life, forget that I saw Inquisition play upstairs at Kopec's, on the floor, not on some fucking stage, on the very same day that I read the "The Grand Inquisitor" chapter of The Brothers Karamazov. That old man tells Jesus he's gonna burn 'im at the stake and all of his followers will run to heap coals around his feet! And Alyosha's all like: "Eep!" So awesome.

Anyway, here's some pictures from the show. Yes, I know. I like dark pictures. Get over it. It's the only way to shoot metal shows. Case in point, from the Kvelertak show a few weeks ago:

See what I mean? That looks awesome! Now here's some pictures of Inquisition:

 (My personal favorite.)

Dagon and Incubus were both really cool guys, and for being longtime professional musicians, they put on a great show even though they were only playing to, like, 35 people. Dagon said how appreciative he was to play an underground show like last night's - even though it was above a bar, and not actually underground. Seriously, it was an incredible performance, but rather than tell you all about it, I'll just wait to link you to the review Margaret will be posting over the weekend on the City Paper blog. In the meantime, let me just say that  Abysme's new stuff rules and I can't wait to get my hands on the LP when it drops early next year. Also, thanks to Mike from Fallen Empire for bringing his awesome, exclusively analog distro. I got Smoke's Eeuwigheyt demo  and the first Arizmenda tape. Couldn't have asked for a better night.

15 December, 2011

More demo (and various other misc.) reviews!

Every year there's a handful of demos that make their way onto Best Albums of the Year lists. We've all seen False's debut getting a lot of honorable mentions and occasionally a genuine ranking; as well as Wreck&Reference's Black Cassette, - both of which I've already written extensively  about. But this post is to review some of the other lesser-mentioned demos that I've seen mentioned here and there on people's year end lists. Plus some other demos and EPs and splits that I felt inspired to review. 

Pilgrim's Forsaken Man (2011), independent 
     Holy Big Hit Coughin' Christ, this rules! No wonder "Machine Gun" "Grim" Kim Kelly won't shut up about this tape. (Kinda reminds me of a song DRWT did way back in the day, actually.) So slow. So epic. So stoned! You'll be so stoned after listening to this, even if you're not smoking. You'll be dragged into the center of town and stoned to death like the fucking godless heretick you are! Grueling riffs covered in a thick, yellow chafe; vocals that resurrect the dead, euthanize the sick, and turn bong water into wine. The drums, both their style and pace, bring Om to my mind - with the exception of the one (read: &only) "fast" part during "Quest," that sounds more like Sleep's other son. The production and mix is perfect for this style of North-Eastern American Traditional Doom Metal. And while it's ultimately facsimile of facsimile, I beg you: what isn't these days? Okay, maybe like Battles and Blut Aus Nord and some other shit I'm too lazy to think of right now, but isn't copying our ancestors the best way to begin our journey towards self-actualization? No? //Pilgrim's debut LP, Misery Wizard, drops early next year, so it'll be interesting to see who wants the throne for US Doom Metal more: Pilgrim or Pallbearer. 'Til then . . . bong up and bang on!

 Whore's Whore Tape (2011), independent
    (Caution: The following demo review contains many scatological references and is not suitable for all readers.) This came out in February? The hell was I at? Oh yeah, internet-less, job-less, and standing on the precipice of my life, droppin' heat over the edge. If only this demo had been around for me to bloody my knuckles all over, those desolate remaining months of Kore's annual stay in Hell might not have been so poetically boring. This demonstration of damn-near paragon DM by Sweden's Whore is one helluva combustible batch of nuclear fart fodder, if I know anything about that sort of thing, which I definitely do. If I played this cassette in my car radio, - which I never will, incidentally, unless I record it to cassette myself as it is completely sold out by now; and even if it was available, I'd have no idea where to order it from such is its obscurity - but if I played this in my car radio: Jesus help me. I already get so pissed off behind the wheel in this city; this cassette blasted would make the world seem like more of a video game than it already does, if that's possible. Put this and that Pilgrim tape on the same playlist, shuffle it up, and it'll be like doing a bunch of uppers and downers at the same time, like when Homer was a truck driver. //The three songs contained within this demon blast forth with a reckless abandon that can only be described metaphorically as a trio of metal garbage cans spilling out with the severed heads and torn-off limbs of prostitutes, olympians, courtesans, odalisques and plain ol' whores, barrelling down a hill, about to intersect with - that is t-bone - a parade of feckless geriatric women walking for a cure for something; and though they are only three, the carnage is unspeakable. Completely unrelenting for its entire duration. Well, briefly, the first track, "Unreverberate Blackness" (YUSS!!), relents, but then it goes into an outro riff that all but shits your pants for you. Speaking of, I'm nearly salivating with anticipation for what comes next from these guys - if anything. For now, take Whore Tape for a spin, but watch out: she's a burner!

 Grave Upheaval/Encoffination Split 12" 
(2011), Pyschic Lotus Order
    People are pissed about this record. Not because it sucks - actually, it's got nothing to do with the record itself, but the availability thereof. Considering only 250 of these were sold to the public, and that those 250 were gone in a matter of hours, I can hardly feel bad about putting it up on the Dower for you to get it for free. So this isn't so much of a review as it is a chance for those of you who missed out on getting your copy, as I did, to still enjoy it. Though I would like to behold that artwork IRL. It looks like it's a little square of Bruegel the Elder's The Triumph of Death. Or maybe it's from the farthest right panel of the The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych, actually. No, it's definitely PBtE. See, if I had a copy it would be way more obvious and I'd be able to enjoy the record that much more. But bands gotta keep it obscure and release their shit in limited numbers. I mean, God forbid they make any money off what they love doing. //"Inurnment of Fleshless Disembodied Remains" might be Encoffination's best song, believe it or not. Not to mention, it's good to see they're still just combining band names for their song titles. Elektrokutioner probably plays his fastest beat for Encoffination since the demo. But as much as I like the Encoffination song, Grave Upheaval might steal the show with their untitled offering. Both songs suffocate and revel in their own filthy inertia, but GU's side is straight up noise, psychological warfare style, until it starts lurching after you on giant chugging rifflegs. Shit's scary. Lock the door, babe.

Nameless Coyote's Devoured by the Swirling Night (2011), bandcamp         
     Apparently some dude out in San Francisco, too trve for The Sounds of Animals Fighting, decided to start a bedroomblackgaze project and Devoured by the Swirling Night is his first demonstration, as far as I'm aware, which looks strikingly similar to something else, except made in Paint. Gee, I wonder if the sound will follow suit? //If you're in the mood for ersatz drums, forgettable guitar melodies and the feeling one gets when listening to bands like Saosin or White Chapel, or - you know, any band that gives you that ugly feeling of inner-conflict when you know that what you're hearing isn't necessarily bad, but is still so completely trend-inspired and pointless. It's the feeling you get when you know you're wasting your precious time on your own volition. You're not standing in line at a grocery store, behind some rich girl who's buying stupid expensive shit just to buy it; no, man, you're choosing to jam this music when you've got a record store's worth of stuff that rules that you've only begun to jam. //This demo, it's not terrible. It's even half-decent. Almost as good as Lifelover, whom I also don't really like because of the programmed drums. A younger me would've called this "gay" and been done with it, but that's obtuse, offensive and I understand the power of using words like that now, thanks to Glee. (Though, I wouldn't be wrong, I'd just be an asshole.) But Nameless Coyote needs to understand the power of jettisoning music like so much semen out of his bedroom and onto the internet. This demo offends me with its irrelevance. Dude can write some pretty cool gaze-y riffs and the songs are competently arranged, but nothing on this demo comes close to the stuff Neige is doing in Alcest, or what he did in Amesoeurs, - the epitome of this genre IMO - nor does it even flirt with treading any new ground, aside from the author's plastic-coyote-masked anonymity. Anymore there are countless bands playing this style, and they're playing it, if not better, then cooler, and somehow more genuine-seeming, and while I'm sure each band has its own self-deluded automeritorious worth, when it gets to the point on the chart graph where this demo sits, it's gone way way too far. Time to stop taking this shit seriously. But, it's rooted in black metal [blsht], so it will more than likely continue to exist in various forms that reappear a coupe times a year for the rest of time c.e., not unlike an eternal case of oral herpies. If you're unacquainted with the whole "blackgaze" subgenre, I'd avoid this as an introduction. If you're into the whole "blackgaze" thing, maybe check this out. Personally, I've already deleted the files. 

Gaul's self-titled demo (2011), independent

    There's something very "post-" at work here on Gaul's debut EP/demo, but don't let that scare you away. There's also something very "-core," but, again, don't let that keep you from checking these Gainesvillians out. Funeral Spirit had this labeled as "Blackened Doom Metal" and while I would beg to differ, I'd only be doing so out of bored pedantry. //So what does it sound like then? Well, I'll tell ya: It sounds like some Kids Like Us, - having had their fill and then some of the politics of the hxc scene - traded their Gorilla Biscuits and MLIW records - though the latter's influence remains with them and is all over this demo, just tremolized and inverted - and picked up some Thou and WITTR and Nootgrush records, and maybe started smoking a little weed and drinking cheap beer, and then one day found themselves at a fork in the proverbial road of music. To the left: Entombed worship, Incantation "breakdowns," long hair, and mum girls with big tits smoking Marlboro Special Blend 27s. To the right: Judge vinyl, everlasting friendship/unexpected betrayal, mesh shorts, and girls who mosh and talk about vegan milkshakes and all the plugs and tattoos and seven inches they wanna get. According to the four unholy offerings on their self-titled debut, Gaul took the path less moshed. And this has been happening since hardcore's birth, up through the Holy Terror days, and it's still happening today, thanks to bands like Trap Them and Nails. Both of whom pose and suck, IMO - Backstabbers, Inc. was way better, as was early Terror, and Cursed is better than all of the above. But how do I know this story so well, anyway? a careful reader such as yourself might ask. Well, TBT, it kind of happened to me. Though I got into Metal first (Black Sabbath in my dad's truck when I was six; Slayer in my cousin's truck when I was ten), but I eventually took a misguided sojourn into Hardcore, without ever forgetting about Metal, mind you, but, thankfully, I wound up back in Metal, where I belong. Maybe these dudes were never hardcore kids at all. Maybe I'm merely projecting. Or maybe I'm spot on. Regardless, this demo is actually really good, despite its "post-" and "-core" tendencies. As I mentioned earlier, it's got some pretty blatant Thou influence, - who are actually straight edge hardcore kids themselves trying to sound like EyeHateGod or Noothgrush, by the way - with a little bit of Cult of Neuro-ISIS worship and some Black with two sugars and one vegan cream Metal à la Wolves or Weakling or whatever band they'll try to tell you they like and listen to.  Four songs that nearly see forty minutes in length is quite a task for a band's demo, but they pull it off. There are some moments of real dark-sided inspiration here. Look out for the throat singing on "Departure." That's my favorite part. Total refuse!

14 December, 2011

Doo x 8

Some demo reviews comin'; just got a few more things to do with the semester.

13 December, 2011

Margaret, your boyfriend is a genius!

;Or How Much Love Can a Loveseat Hold?

Needed to move a loveseat six blocks from my apartment to Margaret's, and when my roommates refused to help me carry it, I improvised . . .

07 December, 2011


Inquisition is playing Pittsburgh next Thursday! And at Kopec's! (Margaret, I tried to find a link to the article you wrote about  Kopec's, in which, as you know, you describe why it's the best place in Pittsburgh to see metal shows, given the free food - talkin' baked ziti, homemade halushki, and, albeit store bought, but still delicious buns - and cheap beer - which I personally abstain from - as well a the always-low cover charge, but I failed to find the article online anywhere, though I searched high and low, and it is such a darling, little article, a cute, little blurb in which you so succinctly capture the greatness of Kopec's. Oh, Margaret, won't it be swell to see Inquisition at Kopec's next Thursday?) I dare not blaspheme Christ's Mass but I am sototally demoting it on the self-illustrated totem pole I keep in my gentleman's diary, cuz Inquisition next Thursday is currently my most anticipated pending event!

03 December, 2011

We the former prisoners . . .

(The following is a short story I wrote for my History of Western Civilization 2 final. Yes, it is a narrative; yes, it is fiction; however, after being totally bowled over by my U.S. History 2 final from last semester - which was a comparative analysis of Cold War-era zombie movies and post-9/11-era zombie movies titled "Modern Revenants" - my professor, who also teaches Western Civ. 2, granted me permission to go ahead with my idea, but not without the caveat that it was a huge undertaking. He was right and I'm still unsure how I accomplished it. Despite its brevity, "We the Former Prisoners . . ." is fully realized and presents an engaging, if not heartbreaking, read. I owe it all to afflatus, as I remember almost none of my experience writing it. Obviously, I'm proud of it, but refuse to let it sate me. I'm already thinking of what to write next. Finally, let it be known that I, David Pearce, Jr., in no way condone the actions taken by the characters in the following story. It is a total work of fiction; nothing more than an exercise in imagination. Enjoy.)

We the Former Prisoners . . .

     They say history is written by the victors. And they are right. But so long as I have my hands and my mind, I must defend the truth and tell you -whoever you are -the real details of our failed attempt at a Second American Revolution.
  When rumors of an actual revolution happening in New York City first began, sometime in early 2012, I was in Rochester, staying in an old milkhouse on a friend’s estate. My fiancée was with her mother in Japan; unsupportive as she was of my decision to drop out of grad school in order to follow and, perhaps, perpetuate said revolution, she assured me that this sojourn was a family issue, rather than an escape from me and my recent obsession. Soon after I kissed my sweetheart good-bye, I called my friend in Rochester.
  I must admit, I saw myself as a real Rousseau in those early months during the burgeoning resistance, sitting up all night in that draughty milkhouse, ignoring the nightly carousals and myriad temptations within my friend’s mansion, to pen, beneath candle light, the bombastic disseminations that I felt were needed to push the Occupy Wall Street movement into something more than an inert protest; something more than a mere occupation of public space. That it would eventually come to bloodshed, that the 1% had to pay for their crimes with their lives, seemed obvious, even necessary, at the time, and I expressed as much in my writings and emails to various blogs. But once it started happening, I felt my words – which, admittedly, were nothing more than expounded facsimile of all the protestors’ chants and signs - resound back to me, with a noxious poignancy I had never thought to expect. I remember, a friend of my friend overheard me make this self-aggrandizing comparison of myself to Rousseau – which I had made mostly in jest – and, laughing, the friend of my friend asked if I was sure I wasn’t a Kaczynski, instead of a Rousseau. I smiled and nodded good-naturedly, made no argument.
  However, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. First let me delineate for you how all of it came to pass, and how I, Maximilian Roberts-Pierce, ended up in a government internment camp in an otherwise sunny Hawaii awaiting my execution via guillotine.
  “That there exists, to this day, popular unrest and widespread injustice in our country, which was founded in defiance of those very abominations; ‘that the privileged few gorge themselves on superfluities, while the starving multitude are in want of the bare necessities of life;’ (Rousseau, 238); that we should sit idly by while our fellow Americans die overseas so as to secure only a blacker, more carcinogenic future for our imprisoned progeny to be; that we slave ‘til the grave while the upper-class sits on their collective ass and while away their time on their gadgets, not showing the least amount of concern for the problems our once great nation faces; that we should thank them for the tithe they give us with their left hand, and permit them to take more and more with their right; that we are all mum in the face of our oppressors, but will tear down buildings when our sports teams win or lose; that, despite all of this, we can all still sleep soundly at night: these are matters of high treason! It is time for the Third Estate to wake up and cast off our chains!” I can still remember the fervor, like genuine ichor, that ran through me as I overheard someone shouting those words through a megaphone to the sea of protestors. I heard that on my first day in the Big Apple, and I suddenly felt so alive and so aware of the cause. Upon first arriving, however, it was obvious I was too poor to be a tourist and too clean to be OWS. At first, I felt like an exile. A wanderer who’d stumbled into something bigger than he could have ever imagined.
  After having an essay printed in the July/August 2012 issue of a fairly well read ‘zine, I decided to leave my friend’s draughty milkhouse and, admittedly on my friend’s dime, go check out the action firsthand.It was September 6th, 2012, a Thursday, when I stepped off the Megabus and inhaled the autumnal New York City air. From the looks of the bus station and the surrounding vista, the city was completely normal. Not that I expected to see burning skyscrapers and children running around wearing gasmasksprotestors in sight. The only sign of the movement was a poster on a nearby traffic light pole of a blackmasked, hatless Uncle Sam standing before the vertical black and white Old Glory, pointing at me, telling me he wanted me to join the 99%’s battle for freedom from oppression. I looked at it for a long time, considering everything it meant. How the recruitment poster’s style with the authoritative male figure demanding your involvement originated in Germany, admonishing youths, much like myself, to fight for their country in the Great War. I will confess to great ambivalence in that moment: What was I doing? What if shit got ultramilitant?, the college-educated,  pusillanimous liberal inside me asked. What if some black person robs you?!, the racist hayseed wanted to know.  I thought of a million reasons to turn around and get on the next bus back to Rochester,but something held me there. This is something that needs to happen, I remember telling myself. Furthermore, this is something that is happening already despite you. Now you can go fight for your side, or you can be a fence-sitting coward. Besides, you’re still miles from Wall St., I told myself. And so, using my phone’s GPS, with only a duffelbag’s worth of clothing and toiletries, I set out North by North-East towards Wall Street.
  I stopped at the encampment at Zuccotti Park on my way there. Walking around, gawking, I felt like a little kid at opening night of the county fair again. It was so cool! Like a camping trip, a music festival, a renaissance fair, an outdoor college classroom, a self-sustainable commune all rolled into one. Here, amongst these tent-people, I decided right then and there, is where I belong.
  At first, I was ignorant to much of the intel circulating around the occupation and various ad hoc encampments, as I had yet to earn the trust of the veterans who’d been there for over a year. My name, my essays, meant nothing to them. They had, all along, been practicing what I had been preaching from a safe, comfortable distance. It took some time, but these were not close-minded people, and eventually I made friends with some of the protestors who were camping in Zuccotti Park. 
  One couple, Sigourney and Weaver, took me on during that brief interim between the draughty milkhouse I had come to love, and the space I would soon occupy. They were very kind and generously shared their rations with me. Sigourney, I regret to say, was blown apart by a National Guard grenade. As for Weaver, I don’t know, I can only hope she is alive and well and not imprisoned like I am, that she was able to integrate back in somehow and await the next chance, for I lost sight of her during the drovering.
  Over some really great baked beans one night, Weaver told me she used to work at a dollar general store somewhere in western Pennsylvania; she’d earned a degree in psychology from a local college, she’d moonlighted as a hostess at a local Ethiopian place. That blew my mind. That she had once been a real person and not just smoky eyes peering out from a black niqab.
  Later that same night, Sigourney and I stood outside after a rain, waxing politic.
  Sigourney smoked through a mouth hole in his blackmask, said: “None of ‘em  understand that – around these parts anyway – suppression always creates the opposite of the effect desired.”
  “Didn’t Olberman say that – ‘round this time last year, wasn’t it?”
  Sigourney nodded: “And he was right: we need the mayor. Now more than ever.”
  Now, aside from a few quickly extinguished skirmishes, – that is: skirmishes provoked and goaded by the police or nonpartisan bystanders then extinguished by members of the resistance (though we were always quick to abandon anyone we viewed as a butthole, no matter if they were only seconds ago our comrade) – the occupation had remained relatively peaceful and inertly demonstrative for its entire duration. On the west coast, Black Bloc was doing things its own way, but that’s someone else’s last breath explanation. Up to that time, though, we OWS just hung out, like we always did. It was the Mayor drew first blood.
  Around 2pm, on Wednesday October 3rd 2012, the police arrived at Zuccotti Park armed with riot shields and batons, telling us to disperse so they could sanitize the camp as they did every three months. When we failed to instantly teleport out of their sight, they began shooting tear gas and firing rubber bullets. I was lucky enough to avoid being struck by a rubber bullet, but I did catch a face full of tear gas. This time the desired effect was achieved: bawling and blind, leaking from every orifice of the olfactory, we dispersed – as best as we could under heavy, preemptive fire - and let them do their thing, but we knew something “was up.” Never before had they used such tactics to relocate us, and every other time they’d given at least 48 hours notice of their plans to clean and sanitize the park and used mostly idle threats instead of tear gas – which, incidentally, we found out was some kind of new, absolutely not USDA-approved, perhaps not even NATO-approved, experimental stuff, and it was nasty – it truly was- and here’s hoping the person who invented it follows suit and offs himself as well.
  But considering past occasions, National Guard was way less accommodating that afternoon. They drove us like cattle through the streets, which were brimming with honking, deadly traffic – traffic that could devour you without anyone ever knowing, within an hour you’d be unrecognizable from a piece of blackened gum on the street. We had to wade through this deadly river and its many tributaries, and some fell. We were like wildebeest, but being chased, and blind; reliant on touch and hearing, and both of those also under attack from enemies. I buried my head between my knees in a ditch somewhere and closed my eyes, let my tears wash away the burn left by the gas. When I looked up I was in front of a bar between a Volvo wagon and a Volvo wagon. Somehow I’d ended up in Williamsburg. I went inside the bar to discover that with the purchase of any and every drink comes a free ten inch pizza from the pizza place next door that shared a kitchen with the bar. “These are the things which make America worth fighting for!” I said to the bartender who wore a grin like my friends wore their blackmasks.I ordered a Shirley Temple and a pizza with no cheese. You can’t even begin to understand how big your sinuses are, and how much they’re capable of holding until you’ve had your face melted by some gnarly mustard gas. It’s like peeling an onion and then taking that same knife you just peeled your onion with and stabbing yourself in your face, throat and eyes.
  What were they thinking? The fact that they just left, and allowed us to return to the park to find that all of our tents, all of our books, our clothes, our foodstuffs and supplies, everything had been taken in those few hours while they “cleaned and sanitized” – I mean, what did they expect? Some went home and gave up, which is what they had probably hoped for, but most of us just went to other camps, further away from Wall St., where our presence wasn’t so closely monitored.
  The specter of violence had been haunting the nation for months. This goes for both sides. But they drew first blood!
  “You can’t convict an idea whose time has come!" (OccupyWallSt.org, Nov.5th 2011) shouted a blackmasked man with a megaphone. “They can steal our supplies; they can destroy our libraries; they can destroy our homes, but YOU CANNOT KILL AN IDEA!” The movement had been ready for months prior to our forced eviction, so the Mayor’s little “now you see it, now you don’t” magic trick only shoveled coal into our already steaming engines.
  On the morning of October 5th, 2012, a crowd of men and women, thousands deep, all dressed in the Revolutionary Black, with polemics on posts and bearing all manners of weaponry – handguns, baseball bats, hunting rifles, shotguns, meat cleavers, some dude seriously had a bazooka – marched in a cold downpour to New York City Hall, demanding the mayor’s guarantee in assisting to secure the city’s battle for sovereignty from the United States government. We were as surprised as they were, but we were sure we meant it. Resistance was met, but many of the Hall’s guards surrendered as to avoid violence and some even joined the ranks of the marchers, sheathing their handguns and tying blackmasks over their faces. Those who held their posts and fought to protect the mayor, whom we knew for a fact to be inside, were quickly overcome and their heads were paraded on pikes (Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein, & Smith, 2010). We caught the mayor soon after. He was attempting to flee througha subterranean  tunnel. I want my grandchildren - or better yet, since I never had any kids - I want students of American history to know that I was among the revolutionaries who formed the six row deep barricade that prevented the mayor from escaping. And if only those future students could also have witnessed the look of sheer terror on the mayor’s face as his driver was shot in the head and he was pulled out into the cold rain! A man behind a blackmask addressed the mayor with mocking familiarity: “Mr. Mayor, we’d like it if you’d stay and have dinner with us. There’s much to be discussed.”
  As you know, the next day, similar marches, having amassed thousands of new followers, took place all over New York City and in other parts of the state and country, too. The revolution, I believe, highly appealed to the near-sighted American desire for stimulation. There was no certainty as to what would happen if you grabbed a weapon and took your nearest government building hostage, killing whoever gets in your way, or being killed yourself.  And, as we know, people did just that. I still struggle to understand why, even now, hours before my death when it all seems so clear. How is it that members of the October Revolution, as it was then being called by supporters and critics alike, overthrew Federal Hall, the Albany County Courthouse, the NYC Municipal Building at 1 Center St., and the Police Building Apartments? The razing of the latter,we felt, was the greatest achievement up to that point, even more potent than the taking of City Hall. I had not been a part of it myself, but I tip my cap to those who orchestrated such an, albeit meaningless, but highly poetic victory. The Police Building Apartments was where a large amount of the city’s wealthy elite resided and taking it meant leaving them homeless as they had left so many of us. It was our own Bastille, and though several hundred revolutionaries fell to National Guard’s gunfire, our victory there set an important precedent. “The common people showed themselves willing to intervene violently at a crucial political moment” (Hunt et al., 2010).
  After only three days, it was clear our plan had worked: New York City had been a beacon to the other cities. Oakland, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Burlington, Philadelphia, Little Rock, New Orleans, Poughskeepsie, San Juan, Ft. Worth, and Boston had all staged similar coups, with, more or less, successful results. Only in Cleveland was the movement to overtake the city completely halted as, our intel told us, the movement’s attempts had been “half-assed” at best.
  With the mayor safely secured and watched over by a rotating crew of OWS, many of the resistance’s members, calling ourselves the Free Nation’s Assembly, met in a racquet ball court located in the basement of City Hall. Our goal was to draw up a new plan of government for the city to immediately adopt and, we hoped, the rest of the country, perhaps even the world, would follow. We knew we couldn’t wait for the rest of the country to revolt against their leaders. Thanks to a destiny manifested by a handful of now dead, but once genuinely evil men, this country is huge! Besides, we didn’t wait around for each other in the beginning. New York would be the First Free State of America. (I was alone in lobbying to change it to Amerigo, because that is not only the founder’s real name, but also such a cooler and extremely more inspiring name re: rocking national anthems, but that idea was almost immediately shot down when some blackmasked carrot top told me it sounded like the new Wal-Mart, not the new country. Like there’s gonna be a new Wal-Mart, dude?! )
  So long as we had the mayor, we knew we had clout. Out in the streets, it was a massacre. The violence had wrested itself to a level that was both gratuitous and masturbatory. The violence of that time is a thing best personified by a rabid beast always trying to break from its bondage; and during a bloody couple of days that beast, massive and insatiably hungry, stalked the streets of the city, dragging its chains behind it. News of the mayor’s “kidnapping” had reached all parts of the state and country, and everywhere was bedlam. Our spot in the basement was secure, however, and we refused to leave until we’d drawn up and agreed upon a new declaration of sovereignty from our government. With over 2,500 voices all clambering for something different, it would be difficult, but we were determined to reach a resolution that all could agree upon, a resolution for which many had already given their lives.
  It took us three weeks (Hunter, et al., 2010). During which time our guards on the above-ground floors had successfully defended our post against four different attempts at infiltration by the National Guard. The mayor was alive and well, and had been promising us all sorts of miracles for his release.
  On the evening of October 26th, 2012, a woman behind a blackmask, with a black and white Old Glory backdrop, read our declaration before a live webcam feed. She opened with the news that Portland had also claimed sovereignty from the U.S. government, making 12 cities, so far, that had liberated themselves from the tyranny of the 1%. As for our new constitution, which we called our Declaration of Freedom and Humanity, I remember much of it, but, as I sit here awaiting my death, only one seems important now, the first: “We, the former prisoners of the newly liberated New York City, declare that all humans, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or religion, are born equal, and shall so remain until they die.”
  Boston was the first city after NYC to declare total sovereignty from the rest of its state and the nation and join us in battling for the people’s independence from the 1%. They were also the first to start exercising that little addendum on our new constitution’s opening line: “and shall so remain until they die.”So long as you breathed, we the former prisoners defended, you had the right to voice your opinion. In Boston, our intel had informed us, that those who were speaking against the new powers were being “silenced” instantly without trial, without a second thought. Our greatest fear had come true. Somehow we’d managed to find harmony amongst all the different voices in the racquet ball court, but in Boston, it seemed, they’d only found a select few who could outshout everyone else.
  Fickle by nature, due to our severely short attention spans and willingness to believe whatever our screens tell us, the American population, those outside the cities who had been watching secondhand everything unfold and dismantle, who had once so fervently rallied behind us, even up to the point of capturing City Hall, suddenly turned against us; called us “despots,” “terrorists,” “Bullshitviks;” said we were constructing a “Reign of Terror.” We knew we could’ve held out, kept fighting, but for what?
  Great Britain was first to come to the aid of occupied America; Canada shortly after. On November 5th, 2012, it was the Canadians who breached City Hall with mustard gas and automatic rifles. It was a Canadian who put me in handcuffs and put a black bag over my blackmasked face and threw me into the back of a large armored truck.
  The rest, as they say, is history. I’m sure you remember seeing me and all my “fellow conspirators” at our mass trial, when the judge ordered us to all be executed under charges of high treason. That the mayor’s (headless) body somehow ended up thrown from the top of City Hall, I (still) swear I had nothing to do with and did not even find out about until I had been imprisoned for several days.
  I set out wishing to change your mind about the events that occurred between October and November 5th of 2012, re: our failed attempt at a Second American Revolution, but am afraid I’ve failed in doing so. History has shown us time and time again that it isn’t the documents or the titles or the crowns or the military prowess that cause leaders to be ruthless assholes, it’s just the way people are. The Free Bostonians had gone barely a fortnight after toppling their city’s government before they started taking dissenters “out back” and “silencing” them. What does that say about us? What does it say that, even though I honestly did not harm a single person throughout the entire ordeal, I await my imminent demise in a former WWII-era Japanese internment camp? We had the right idea, but something went wrong. It had amounted to nothing, save the deaths of many Americans. It turned out to be nothing more than a farce, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.
  . . . Wait! Those can’t be my final words! If I’m to die I sure as hell better say something besides bastardized Shakespeare. Though American officials have chosen to execute me for treason, I will go peacefully unto death knowing that I die a true American, and these are my final words: There is no insurrection within the margin. Hearts alive with true defiance must find their beats outside of history.

30 November, 2011

More demos reviewed: Conflagration, Dolores, Hic Iacet, and Wasteland

It's been a while since I sat down and reviewed some demos. Obviously I love doing this. I'd do it every day night if I could: just sit around and listen to demos all day night, beneath the wan glow of my scented, waxen Lord*, with a restless kitty on my lap, slowly digesting centuries worth of western art's hottest tail, from the penultimate ex-girlfriend as portrayed by the pre-Raphaelite Charles-August Mengin, straight through the Impressionists,and not stopping until it's after nine and we've got wood lookin' at T-L's delightful little TLT. But unfortunately I have stupid social obligations - or, as some people call them, a job, a girlfriend, and friends - that have come to expect certain things of me; and still not much besides my semiconscious presence anymore. Shit gets me down, I'm saying. I know I come off as a real happygolucky asshole, but - well, if I can't tell you blackmetalblog, then who can I tell? - shit gets me down. And while I'm forced to actually do something besides sit around and get fucked up and listen to loud, abrasive music in my room all day and night, that is totally what Funeral Spirit must do, all day, all night. Over Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, the American metal internet scene was in a trytophanic coma, but that fucking Russko Funeral Spirit was still posting like thirty uploads a day, most of which are in 320, incidentally. So during my (all too fleeting) moments of repose such as the one I'm currently wasting with this long-winded introduction, I usually like to head straight over to my cuz FS's site and check out what he's got as far as new demos. I also check out other shit, but enough people will be telling you how mandatory the new Fortresse is, so I usually abstain from further propagating the hype surrounding most new full lengths regardless of whether they are actually - or totally not - worth checking out. Encoffination was an exception because I actually preordered and love the shit out of that record. I sat on that review for too long, though. The review wrote itself in my head after I heard it, - you guys know what I mean - but by the time I got around to actually posting it, most of the blogburgh had already hyped it to death.

Fuck! I have derailed! Anyway, almost all these demos I got from Funeral Spirit. Thanks for not having a life, man. You help me waste more of mine. Seriously, though, - since post-CL IO's already J'd the Shark anyway - you should support independent blogs. Check out the sidebar. Lots of friends up to cool shit. Here's what I'm up to . . .

Conflagration's Morbid Dissonances (2011), independent

This Norwegian duo, having spent three years together before releasing the Morbid Dissonances demo, play tight death/thrash that may or may not be trendy right now, but is undoubtedly executed so well in the two songs found on this demo - middle track (also the title track) is a quick instrumental that actually doesn't kill the momentum - so you'll be headbanging and pissing off your dubstep-listenin' roommates too hard to worry about this shit being hackneyed. Not to mention "conflagration" is one of my favorite words in what I know of the English language. The sound is natural and crisp without being polished; the riffs are piercing, blazing fast and head straight for your heart, after a few minutes jamming this you'll totally know how St. Sebastian felt. The drummer kills, of course: he's Norweyan, dude's probably been playing since he could make a fist; the vocals are present, uneffected and pretty original - Marge said they remind her of TGF, probably she means Morbid Tales-era. The two (actual) songs are over five minutes, rife with energy and well put together. There's a hard splice on the first track that's also one of my favorite parts. Give this demo thirteen minutes of your night. The spooky zombie movie soundtrack solo during the halftime of "Pain from Beyond" is alone worth it. Total Refuse! 

Hic Iacet's Hedonist of the Death (2011), Hell's Headbangers

And now for something completely different: Hic Iacet's 2010 debut,  Hedonist of the Death, recently repressed at least 333 times on brown vinyl thanks to the Nuns' Laughter Guy. Is it strange that our ears can discern a vast - or even single - difference between Conflagration and Spain's Hic Iacet's? These guys, all zero of them, play a similar style of sunshine death with a blackened tilt a la everyone these days, notably the aforeviewed Conflagration, and there's very little to set them apart from this crowd. Besides great production, of course.

DGMW, the songs are swell, too. They're fast and evil and varied, ranging from blackened thrash riffs that usually segue into Swedish deathstomp parts that'll rouse the kitty on your lap to start batting at your flailing hair. Occasionally will crawl forth a maudlin funeral doom riff or flashes of 3rd wave blasturbation; each of which will have you fondling your guardian djinn's invisible ballsack - guaranteed. But . . . Well . . . I guess my point can be found in that artwork. Sure, it's pretty sick. It's also very familiar. (Did I getcyha? Haha, yeah, I did!) It's familiar and it's pretty derivative and then some, but it's cool, it's - ya know - dece. I'd be pumped to see Hic Iacet play these songs live; hope there'd be at least some circle pitting. Who knows? You might love this and feel indifferent towards Conflagration.Anyway, you know it's a strong review when the reviewer's just like: IDK See 4 yinzselves.

Wasteland's Mračne Dveri Baranje (2011)

My ass used to love Cradle. Back in high school, they were one of my favorite bands. I also really liked Philly's Ink&Dagger. Obviously, I thought vampires were sweet. (Never read Twilight or any of that shit, though - don't even josh me on that, bro!) Coincidentally, girls were totally foreign to me all the while. Then, at the cusp of my high school existence I met an out-of-town girl who loved good tunes like Converge and AN and watched movies like Rushmore (but skipped out on The Last Samurai), and this outtatown girl she taught me a few things. And I her, I suppose.

My point is: this demo is for dorks. This style can be executed pretty well, but this isn't a demonstration of that. This is more of like a demonstration of how it can go wrong. If you like keyboards that sound like a flat clarinet moaning atop crunched-out, yet paradoxically diffused power metal riffs while someone's Jiffy Pop keeps it all held together then you'll love this. "Gharr" is a strong track, though. Put it on your mix for your annual Christmas DnD jam; the Cheetos Gang will love it. I'm sorry. I've just got a chip on my shoulder cuz my high school meloblack band, Utopia Ablaze, never got beyond our first practice, which was actually just me and my friend Cody sitting in Cody's older brother's top bunk while he played Dimmu Borgir riffs on his older brother's Ibanez knock-off and I tapped on my thighs with pens and whisperscreamed. You'll have to take my word when I promise you that this is better than that.  (I'm aware that this actually rules and sounds nothing like Cradle of Filth, by the way.)

Dolores' To die no more (2011), Fern & Moss Cassettes
Droning noise and aural textures and a single fit of spastic bedroom black metal provide a suitable soundtrack to looking at this demo's cover. I mean, let's be honest: no matter what music it represented, that cover would be the best part. I checked this out because of the cover. You put a sexy half- or fully naked girl on your album and I like it. No matter what. Even this? Yes, even that. I'm a sensualist and I love this demo. Think of this as laying around somewhere between It's Always Sunn0))) in Gloomington and blogmetal's The Weeknd.

Now let's just go ahead and stare for a while . . . Hey, wait a minute, is that Olivia Locher?!

*Through a Glass Darkly,

26 November, 2011

Review: Encoffination's "O' Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres"

 Ernest Becker believed what makes people who and what they essentially are - whether by "people" we mean modern day Americans, or Chinese, or Israelis, or Brazilians, or aboriginal Australians; whether we we mean 18th century European philosophes, the Cossacks of the late 1800s, 20th century North Koreans, 5th century South American heretics, pre-common era Essenes, Jainists, swooning Beatlemaniacs, banging thrasheads, surprisingly authentic-looking transexuals, the NWO Wolf Pack, the 1%, the Archers of Loaf; basically any group of people that ever existed - everything that shapes and defines them and their cultures is merely an attempt at denying their inevitable mortality. And this denial of death, Becker said, is essential to human existence, that it maintains our sanity, but, at the same time, keeps us from ever truly knowing ourselves. This fear of that which casts an omniscient shadow creates within each of us a subconsciously contrived willed ignorance, from which is born culture, our individual identities, and also the institutions which rule our lives: religion, or spirituality, ambition, war, tradition, rituals, heroism, art, and anything else you can think of that, ultimately, serves to distract humans from the bummer that we will all someday die.

I wonder then what Becker would think, if here were alive, to hear of California's Encoffination? As we know, instead of ignoring that which cannot be looked upon yet casts a shadow over all, Encoffination have made it their sole task, since their demo in 2010, to wave the Black Robe in our collective face. And what would Becker think when, surely being unfamiliar with this style of dank, macabre funeral doom, he found himself actually bobbing his head to the slow cadence that carries the record like four grave-faced men, each dressed in the customary black; and certainly Becker could not enjoy it, for how could anyone enjoy such death-drenched music, especially a hypothetical 87 year old man? But he'd sit there, unable to tear himself away for the the entire thirty-nine minutes that honestly seem to last so much longer, quite like a funeral. No doubt, O' Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres would fuck Ernest Becker up.

16 November, 2011

More demo reviews: Blaspherit, Karijes, Obłęd and The Haunting Presence.

Denmark's Blaspherit, at least from what I can tell from their demo, Fallen Oath of Black Doom, are three stupidly fucked up dudes who probably party harder than you or I or that one dude we know who was in the Marines and saw his buddy's head come apart via a hand grenade in Fallujah. Despite how much they party, they've got still that European adeptness at playing ugly, bestial black metal. And you can almost tell from this demo, too, but not really.

The riffs are indiscernible bass-y jumbles that just roll out then back into themselves, like the sound your car makes after you've blown a tire on the freeway; the vocals are reverberated barks whose frequencies clash with the down-tuned riffs; some dude howls like a wolf on "Werewolf of the Black Abyss" - hands down the highlight of the demo; and at one point the bassist, who clearly does not really know how to play a recorder, plays a recorder (though the liner notes say it's a flute, so it's probably, like, a Pan flute, that'd definitely be the more BM choice). At several points, all coherence is lost in a maelstrom of shitty production, Satanic carousing and the above-mentioned battle for dominant presence among the several clashing frequencies. Overall Fallen Oath of Black Doom is a cool experience and worth checking out, so long as you're fucked up on barbitu8s or sucking on a Fentanyl patch or just looking to conjure up ol' Horny for a catch up/brutal anal raping. Out now on Silver Key Records

On the other hand, the one not holding a knife that's being thrust into your own abdomen, but on the hand that's typing out this review, on that hand, Karijes' riffs are far more palpable in the mix on their demo, Deathstrike, though the music is far less interesting. While not completely uninspired - there's some cool solos here and there - Deathstrike is nothing more than a demonstration of yet another band playing blackened thrash. I was piqued not by the cover art (you kidding me? look how tiny that dude's head is!), nor the name, and certainly not the genre, but by the band's origin: Serbia. We all know that Serbia has had an epic history of battling for its independence x,like,4 and the whole starting the first World War thing, so I was hoping this band would have something more than bland buzzsaw riffs with Lars' St. Anger snare keeping cadence. Nah, not really. Sure the vocals are delayed and layered and they kinda sound like a demon at points, but it's not enough. You can't put Red Hot on a shitty pizza and make it a good pizza. It's still just a shitty pizza but with a damn fine hot sauce smothering it to make it more palatable. Also, there's a Destruction cover at the end, which is definitely the best track on the demo, but it only proves what the four tracks preceding it already made abundantly clear: this band, this demo, is completely redundant.

(Deathstrike came out in January of this year, which might as well be the fucking 80s in the internet age, and Karijes has since released an EP. If it's any good, let me know.)

 Boring Polish black metal with programmed drums (where's Oskar Matzerath when you need him?) and riffs that have no edge to them whatsoever, but no warmth either. I'm only typing up this review because I took the time to listen to the demo (twice even, just to make sure there wasn't some killer piece of the iceberg I was missing), and even though I'm wasting more time by typing this up, I feel I'd have wasted my time if I didn't review it. Truth is, I've got nothing to say about it. It doesn't suck, but it's boring and stupid. Yeah, the whispered vocals are cool, but not cool enough. And yeah, some of the riffs are dece, but they've got zero power behind them, but not in a depressive black metal kind of way, more like in a castrated kind of way. Not to mention, with few exceptions, programmed drums always turn me off. Which in turn turns to me turning them off and turning away from the band forever.

Go ahead and skip Obłęd's first demo. Can't imagine how his other demo, II, could be any better, but if you've got the time to waste, then by all means . . . Waste away.

With the exception of Arizmenda, and despite being a borderline Nationalist when it comes to my native country's music, I've never really understood all the hype behind the Black Twilight Circle and its label Crepuscular Negro. Sure, it's cool the West Coast has its own LLN type thing, but what scene doesn't have a group of like thirteen dudes switching up instruments and duties to comprise like thirty bands? Pittsburgh has an extremely incestuous scene, but we didn't go and make a club about it. Anyway, I digress.

Save for having a clearer production and a more grave (read: less fun) approach to their music, The Haunting Presence (not sure if they got their name from the Krohm album) is pretty musically similar to Blaspherit. Of course, blackened death/deathened black with doomy outros and delay-drenched vox are extremely in vogue right now, but the bands still sound very similar. Besides that, The Haunting Presence give us four songs for a solid demonstration of BTC/CN's latest addition (sic) that if you were to download and check out I'm sure you'd enjoy but seldom revisit, just like me.

Happy Birthday, Margaret! I love you!

12 November, 2011

Demo review: Sanctophoby's "Satanic Ceremonies Of Imperfection"

Yes! Fuckin' A! Saw this on Funeral Spirit, saw the cover art, saw the press photo, knew it was gonna be way more fucked up than I could handle and it's even better than that! The enveloping guitars that make you feel like you're drowning in the first track! The fucking cut from "Bloody Tears of Mocked Angels" into "Ceremonial Cannibalism;" hell the opening riff of "Ceremonial Cannibalism" for that matter! The lyrics to "Blood!"

So "Satanic Ceremonies Of Imperfection" - damnit I hate having to capitalize that O. No, I don't. I love it. It's hilarious. It's a Lithuanian dude writing "Satanic Ceremonies Of Imperfection" in English. That's fucking awesome! I couldn't write word one in Lithuanian - but this is not a proper demo, in that it's a debut of a new band's sound. It's a black metal demo. It's really just an official release of demo quality music. I'll spare you my delineation on black metal output. It'll only end in self-pitying remorse.

But Sanctophoby is some dude over in Lithuania - despite the press photo showing two people airhumping the statue of the Madonna - and this dude is writing some heady black/death. I'm not (yet) familiar with their back catalogue, but SCOI is Andrius's (he's the aforementioned dude from Lithuania) own brand of - here I'm tempted to use words like 'psychadelic' and 'bestial,' but those have lost all their meaning, so instead I'll say it's fucked up. It's haunting. It's haunted. It's exactly what you like in your black metal. Atmosphere and the occasional ambiance via a sweet Casio padding; recorded-in-an-oubliette sound quality; static-borne guitar tones. The drumming sounds mechanical, but could be human. My ear can't tell if it's a dude who plays motorik-style per fucking you up more or a sloppy drum machine. The presence of the guitar falls in and out, maelstroms of layered solos and riffs appear out of nowhere, giving one the sense of being washed away in a deluge of BLOOD! and LSD. The vocals are what you'd expect: legion and terrifying.

Really, this is paragon extreme metal. For me at least. It achieves what nearly all extreme metal bands aim to: an epic and terrifying journey into an unimaginable realm. Like The Twilight Zone. Despite being almost entirely black/death, at points, it's as close to an Electric Wizard album as it is Soulside Journey, which I'm aware is a DM record. It's definitely killer, whatever it is.

Check it out.

George Saunders's new story "The Tenth of December"

Have you read it yet? It's in the latest issue of The New Yorker. I don't know if you can read it online without a subscript. Marge gets 'em from her dad. I think it's hers, but they send it to her parents' house. I started "The Tenth of December" last night, enjoyed the first third and fell asleep; then I finished it today, Veteran's Day, and possibly cried a bit at the end, in the middle of the CCAC Allegheny campus library, basement floor, home to the periodicals, assorted sleeping and studious studentry and three very nice librarians. It's a touching story, yet still very true to Saunders's style. Not quite a rehash, but it does have a similar plot to "The Falls." Which is another, earlier Saunders story, if that wasn't already clear. But the outcome of "The Tenth of December" is far more satisfying, without wholly losing its ambiguity, which is a difficult task, in my very humble opinion.

Should I just type it up? It's great practice and I don't mind doing it at all. Okay, I will . . .

(Mom. Dad. This is not my writing, okay?)

So I actually did type it all up. This morning and into the afternoon. (It's now the day after Veteran's Day, the day after 11/11/11. Incidentally I looked at my phone last night and saw it was 11:11 and wondered if humanity would still exist in 3011 when such a thing would ever again be possible, and if they'd read time and still have years and names for the increments of those years like November or May or if they'd call their months like 42345 or 66646 and call years something equally as strange and cold and have no time to reflect on insignificant trivialities like the sequence of similar real numbers.) Then I posted it and saw that only some of it posted, like the first eighth, and after a few panicky, impetuous clicks, somehow lost it all. As I was retyping it, - all the while looking for every excuse in the world to give up - I kept wondering: Is this piracy? I try to avoid that on this blog. With the exception of a few demos or eps or that OOP Catharsis record. Cuz, ya know, George Saunders is a blue collar worker. Despite his "stardom," and his being hailed as a modern day Vonnegut, he's still just a teacher and a writer. Sure people have heard of him, people might anticipate his new collections or show up at his book signings, but he's yet to land a movie deal. Though, that wouldn't matter to me either. I certainly wouldn't reprint without permission any of Cormac McCarthy's work. I gave my copy of Blood Meridian to my history professor last semester, but that's as far as I'll go.

I'm not sure how this turned into my polemics re: piracy, but I'm glad I didn't post it, even though I did a few months ago. If you can, though, try to get your hands on a copy of the Halloween issue, it's in that one. (I wish I could be telling you to read my friend's stories or some cool zines, but I'm honestly pretty clueless when it comes to that shit. Any one care to point me in a good direction? It's kind of like I just downloaded Captain Beefheart's whole discography and I just wanna know which album to listen to first. [I've never actually done that, just thought it was a good analogy. My intro to the Captain came when I was like 19 and I would listen to Trout Mask Replica at all hours of the night through my roommate's wall while he crammed for a chemistry exam.]). You can probably find this issue and many issues and buttloads of other cool shit at your local library.

Well, that's it. I feel very pompous and pretentious and content now. Once again, thank you for reading these delusional rants

10 November, 2011

Demo Review: St. Barthelemy's Temple - The Sheol Unfold

Gonna try something new here at The Dower. You see, I realized, a couple days ago now, that most of what I listen to, the records that I find myself going back to and listening to again and again, are demos. There's something about a well-produced demo that I find more listenable than a proper full length. A great demo achieves in striking the balance between nascent ebullience and ambitious panache. Plus, a lot of times, - at least from personal experiences - time and resources are an issue often giving the final product a sense of candid urgency that you simply don't find on most LPs. Also a demo must leave room for imporvement. How many well-known artists or musicians or writers, I often wonder, reflect on their careers, those lucky enough to have made a career out of their art, I mean, and think back to the days when they were just getting started, when they were struggling to find their own voice, and remember those days as being the best part of their journey? I guess I can't say for sure how many, but I bet at least a few. A demo, then, must be the pinnacle moment in a band's career, even if it's not their best moment.
  A great demo must have a certain production aesthetic, too. Not necessarily lo-fi, but - even if it's a Croatian septuagenarian's solo funeral doom project - it must be spilling over with energy. The band's gotta sound like they're pumped to be releasing these two or three or four songs to people. Incidentally, release numbers, i.e. "CD-R release, limited to 13 copies," have nothing to do with anything. They're either the amount of tapes you get in a cheap bundle or the amount of CD-Rs on a spool you stole from Staples or just some insignificant but Satanic or ill-boding number you pull out of your ass, see above. What's great about a demo, though, can often curse the full length to come. You get some recog on a demo, so you hit the road and play those demo songs every night for a while, and by the time it's time to record 'em for the record, you're pretty well sick of 'em, and those songs that were once held together by not much else other than the fun everyone had playing them have now been tightened and perfected, but, unfortunately, more often than not, also sapped of their energy. It's best to write new songs for every new release, meconcludes.
  So, then, without further adieu, this is the first installment of a series of demo reviews I'm gonna do until I get sick of it. I don't know if Wednesday will have anything to do with it. I know that I wanna introduce you guys to roommate's band, Drug Lust, and review their IIKXI demo and post it on here, so I'll at least be making one more post for this series. But tonight I wanna talk about . . .

St. Barthelemy's Temple's 2011 demo "The Sheol Unfold"

For those of you who aren't taking Dr. Sweet's History of World Religions course with me at the Community College of Allegheny County, I will inform you that Sheol is basically the early Jewish idea of Hell. However, unlike the Christian Hell, which borrowed the idea from Zoroastrianism, Sheol, like Hades for the Greeks, is where all the dead go, regardless of what they did during or how they lived their life. Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa, according to the Book of Job's description of Sheol, could very well end up roommates in Sheol.

St. Barthelemy's Temple, from France, which I'll get into more in a bit, seem to have found a spring whose source spills from somewhere deep in Sheol, and have greedily drank its cold draught. Who are further from God than the dead who live not in His Kingdom but in an underworld of utter lightlessness and infinitesimal love? This feeling is exactly what St. Barthelemy's Temple is going for with their melange of dirge-y NOLA riffs and vocals that echo all through your brain, where they stay, kicking around in your skull like a rock in your shoe. SBT might be a French BM act, and they might want to sound like EyeHateGod, but don't go thinking they're some Glorior Belli clone. Quite the opposite actually. These guys have not taken a Metal Blade to their collective hanging sacks . . . yet.

This demo shows a great deal of promise. If they never release another record, I'll just keep listening to this and be quite content with doing so. If they do release a follow up LP or EP or whatever, I guarantee it will be a success. These French assholes understand writing catchy and memorable blackened funeral doom without sacrificing any of the inaccessibility and darkness that is necessary for all bands of such pedigree to have. Though their speed is typically kept to a slow, scathing crawl, they never let off; there is no impromptu armistice. The only respite comes after the twelve minutes of demolition ends. And, if you're anything like me, you'll just start the whole thing over again because you're still not done headbanging - hell, your nose isn't even bleeding yet.

Click the link above and head over to St. Barthelemy's Temple's bandcamp page and download "The Sheol Unfold" in 320 for free.

08 November, 2011

This post is so blackened you can't even read the title

Presently sitting around an all-too-austere apartment, drinking the Steelers beer Church does every season, by mself. Well, not exactly by myself . . .

She's gettin' big, right?

Currently jamming some blackened funeral doom band's demo I got from Funeral Spirit. They're called Ater Cultus Mortis or something like that. The Latin language spins in its grave, right? Hell, that might not even be Latin. Anyway, they're from the Russian Federation, apparently. I had no idea we called Russia that pre-blog days. Maybe we didn't. Maybe we don't. Maybe Russia is Russia and the Russian Federation is elsewhere, near or far, but elsewhere. This fucking demo's all over the blogosphere but no one's actually talking about the fucking thing. Everyone's just d/ling it and unzipping it and then, perhaps rehosting it, but probably not, but definitely they're reposting it on their own blog, all without having actually listened to it, or, at most, perhaps surveying it, giving it a distracted, cursory listen. So what makes me different? What gives me the right to actually review it after I've had it on threepeat thru my actually pretty decent but still totally laptop speakers? Well, for one: I've actually been jamming it. Maybe I'm a little drunk (sorry, Mom), but, let me ask you this, who's headbanging the hardest at any show ever? The drunk guy! I'm not that drunk, though. Mildly tipsy. I'm at the self-conscious horns stage. But I'm jamming the demo. I'm actually listening to it. Thru my laptop speakers, yes, but it's working on me: I feel like total shit. I feel totally alone and completely unloved. Fucking Russkies, churning out funeral doom/black metal bands like they did soldiers in the Great War; sending out their bands without even supplying them with instruments; "grab a double-kick pedal off one of your dead peers," their band managers scream at them. I don't know where I'm going with this anymore. I just wanted to tell you guys out there that this demo is worth actually checking out. I know you've seen it floating in the blogosphere, you probably skimmed right past it, not engorged by the boring too-dark artwork. (You know what my favorite part about the blog experience is? Reading dudes' blogs who don't actually speak English and marveling at how much more fucking eloquent they are than me. Seriously. Some of the bloggers over there can very well describe heavy music for the masses, brutal!) I'm looking forward to jamming this on some good speakers. And by that I mean, simply moving out of this chair and into another chair within the reach of the speakers' cable. From what my laptops letting me tell, though, it's mixed with a sweet aesthetic in mind, not unlike the feeling one might have if she stumbled upon a derelict shack in the woods during the winter. And inside there's a cobweb-covered white casket, tapered at the foot, with brownish weird runes fingerpainted on the front. I can barely hear the drums; the vox sound like dude's gettin' asphyxed; the keyboards are way too loud, but playing pretty cool Crypt Keeper-approved melodies; and it's only like twenty minutes long. Check it out.