Interview – Samael

Samael are a band all about reinvention, travelling from the frigid climes of second-wave black metal to the grimy claustrophobia of noisy industrial music, in a career spanning over twenty years. But with a strange Cronenberg-esque twist, it seems that Samael’s next great transformation will begin with them climbing into the teleportrix, and end with them turning… back into their chronologically-previous selves?!

Whoa.

We spent an hour or so conversing with Samael’s handsome vocalist and guitar man Vorph, and the demonic (and also quite handsome) producer and mixing-man Russ Russell, having a quick slider-sliding break.

DemPig: Tell us what you’re up to, lads!

Russ Russell: We’re doing the new album. Samael have already recorded it, and they’ve come over to mix it. It’s sounding bloody marvellous!

Vorph: The mixing’s going great, yeah.

DP: Have you worked together before? How are you finding it?

V: This is our first time working with Russ. He’s the perfect guy. What we need on this record is clarity; with so much going on, it can be very hard to hear everything. Russ is making it sound more like a living thing. There’s some dirt, some real things happening.

There’s a few of our albums, maybe, the sound’s too clinical, and it doesn’t come across so well live. Say, Solar Soul or Reign of Light. Hopefully not this time.

R: I haven’t worked with them before. I was recommended to them via Dimmu Borgir. I’m absolutely ecstatic to be working with Samael. They’re a legendary act for me, and among everyone I’ve worked with.

DP: Russ, do you feel a certain pressure to be working with an influential band like Samael?

R: It’s encouraging for me to be asked. They’ve given me the stuff, and I can pull out all my wacky ideas. We’re totally on the same wavelength. I’m pulling all my best tricks out of the bag. Samael trust me, so there’s a natural relationship there. I feel like I’ve known them for years, they’re really cool guys.

They’re totally open to suggestions, and it’s been an easy relationship to build. And I’m taking the opportunity to practise my French.

DP: Over the years, you’ve reinvented yourselves as a band with each album you write. What is the philosophy behind this new record? Is it a continuation of the ‘tribute to roots’ you began with Above?

V: The idea of this record is to do it like it was our first album. Above was supposed to be a separate project with a virtual band, but there was an energy there that we wanted to keep, and some songs that we wanted to play live. Every song has its own personality, we’d say.

We redefine ourselves with every album, and this time we had the idea to make a statement. We took on the best elements we’ve used in the past to make an album that will represent us completely. We’re not trying to make sense with what we’ve done before, we’re starting fresh, starting anew. You can’t be a beginner again, but you can keep the freshness; to start, not at zero, but we wanted to redefine it somehow. I think it has worked out. We’re totally excited about it, and that’s a good sign, whenever you feel excitement to play a song.

R: I’d say this album is kind of a mixture between eras. There’s a very orchestral approach to it, but there’s less of the techno, less synths and less electronic percussion. There’s still a small amount of electronic drums and programming. Xy is a fantastic drummer and programmer. He’s astounding.

It’s allowing me to do everything I want. A lot of times, I’m working on stuff that’s more down the line. With grindcore and death metal, you have more freedom to do what you want; anything goes. It’s quite liberating. I get to do it with a few other bands too. There’s a level of trust you need.

DP: Vorph, give us an overview of your songwriting and development process.

V: Xy is doing all the songwriting by himself. He’s the main or sole composer. I write lyrics, and put the vocal lines on the songs. Even though there’s only the two of us composing things, this is still Samael, a band of four. We tour together, we live together, and it does make a difference. Makro joined the band in 2002, and he definitely brought something back; an excitement that we’d lost. He brought back that freshness, and it does make a lot of difference.

We’ve been working the same way for a long time. That seems to work for us. We’ve been doing this, discussing things together for a long time. We’re on the same page.

DP: Samael are often described as innovators in black metal, or even originators. How do you feel about that?

V: It’s never really been important to us to be labelled as whatever. We were influenced ourselves by Bathory, Venom, Celtic Frost and so on. We’ve incorporated a lot of different elements over the years, and that gives us a different place in the whole scene. We could have stepped back; there were people expecting us to.

We stuck to our guns and kept on. You can spoil yourself for the real fundamentalists in the metal scene, but that doesn’t really matter to me. There’s enough people who like what we do.

The main idea is always to keep it interesting to us. It can become routine, and then the fun is no longer there. We never found the bands we wanted to listen to, so each album is an album that has a reason to be there. You feel the need to come with something new. There’s a need for us to feel the need for it, if you like.

It isn’t just like we have to get a record out. We don’t have a record company. If we feel that it’s time for a new album, then we go and do it.

DP: Over your career, you’ve gone from a fairly pure second-wave black metal sound to a more industrial, electronic place. Explain to us the thought process behind an evolution like that.

V: You don’t really think about your evolution. You just start with one song, then another, and so on. You don’t know what you’ve got until the album is finished, so there’s no real limit, as long as you’re coming up with songs that you like. We never censor ourselves to make it fit with a template somehow.

DP: Do you think incorporating those influences has alienated fans over the years?

V: I think our evolution is accepted by some of our fans. We’ve been known to go to some unknown territories, and there’s some experimentation on this album. It’s a mix between redefining the songs we have, and experimenting for the future.

DP: Would you say it’s stood in the way of wider acclaim and success?

V: Whenever you can do what you want to do, this is a success. We can do headlining shows in Europe and America. We have total freedom on everything. We’re doing it on our own terms.

DP: You’ve been known to revisit your older work in the past; you’ve issued new recordings, reinterpretations and remixes. Do you have any plans in this direction?

V: We don’t know about re-recordings, we never find the time. It could be something that we’ll do at some time. We have a new single, Antigod, out in November, and we’ve re-recorded Into the Pentagram from our first album for that. It’s funny, because you can see exactly where the band stands by listening to that song. This version sounds a lot more industrial. At the same time, it’s more massive. It’s a different type of darkness from how it was before.

Back in the day, we didn’t really know how to do it. It was difficult until we got a lot more confident in what we were doing.

DP: Do you consider the re-recordings definitive?

V: Every version of a song is definitive until there’s another one. The ‘95 version of Into the Pentagram was frustrating, it killed the vibe of the song.

DP: When I think of black metal, I tend to think of Scandinavian countries rather than the Alps or muesli. How much of a metal scene is there in Switzerland?

V: There are some big bands coming out of there: Celtic Frost, Triptykon and so on. But it’s a small country, and it’s not a country with a rock or metal tradition, because probably, it’s not an option for a lot of people to do that for a living. I made sacrifices when I decided to be in a band for a living. You don’t make as much money as you could have, but you live the life you dreamed of.

In any country, in any scene, there’ll be five bands you’ve heard of and hundreds of bands who make the whole thing live. We’ve never considered ourselves a Swiss band. Our influences have been American and English.

DP: You came over to mix, so I guess the songs were more or less complete when you arrived. Have you been adding any tweaks, Russ?

R: We’ve made a few changes to the finished recordings, added a few extra keyboards and stuff, but they were pretty much sorted.

DP: Can you get specific for us?

R: We’re using a lot of vocal effects. I love going crazy with those. We’ve been listening to the new Killing Joke, and we love the strong vocals. We’ve tried a lot of new vocal tricks, layering up different vocals, and ended up with a really thick sound.

DP: Vorph, you’ve described Samael as a ‘spiritual journey’ in the past, and there have been some distinctly eastern ideas in the last few records. Can you expand on this for us?

V: I love eastern kinds of sounds. There’s not so much of that on this album, maybe just on one song. It’s not totally conscious, we just love those kind of sounds, those melodies. There’s a secret, a mystery to them. It’s not part of our musical calendar, it just came to us later on. Music’s got to help you let your mind travel.

DP: What’s the next step in your journey?

V: This album is the next step for Samael. We’re heading to a new level in our life. We’re going to cover the whole thing and leave the past behind. It will need a couple of years to see what difference this album made to the band. That’s the feeling we have, and we’re really excited about it.

Samael’s new single Antigod is released 19th November on Nuclear Blast. The new album is expected next March.

A Decade in Hell, a box set containing Samael’s entire Century Media catalogue, is released on 22nd November.

www.samael.info

I’m gonna make a Supersonic man outta you (Part II)

Day two and I made the mistake of arriving too early. If anything can sum up the lowest ebb for me, an unreconstructed idiot, then it’s standing under a concrete sky, leaking drizzle like an elderly dog (the sky is, not me), watching a man go nuts on a piano. It’s basically one close up of a priest away from being a Swedish art film. Luckily there are vegan cakes on hand for me to plough my face straight into like a fleshy pink icebreaker.

Now listen closely meatheaded middle-of-the-road festival organisers of the world, if you are going to steal anything from Supersonic, make it the vegan cakes. And the graphic design. And the real ale. And the Iron Lung live at Supersonic 2009 LP, limited to 1,000.

But don’t steal the weather, seriously, as October bleeds out icicles the last place you want to be is standing around outside, and the second to last place you want to be is standing around inside a warehouse with the doors open, which is pretty much the pre-requisite for watching Gnaw. It’d be nice to say that the temperature contributes to the sense of dread their electronic blackened doom invokes, but it doesn’t. It just contributes to my fingers feeling like Twiglets. Having racked up some serious man-hours in Burning Witch and Khanate, Gnaw know their shit and their shit is filthy. I’m not sure what Eagle Twin know, because despite having definitely seen them I can’t dredge up a single memory of the event – they could well have been twin birds of prey for all I recall.

There’s some serious anticipation in the (Arctic) air for Godflesh and as they start up, two distant bodies enshrouded in smoke and strobes, it’s a crushing disappointment. The rigidly enforced decibel limit makes the volume in a Wetherspoons seem invasive, which coupled with the band’s anonymity leaves a disheartening sense that you’re watching a muted projection. A jaunt out to defrost the Twiglets by those smokers’ heaters that you find in beer gardens allows a minor miracle to take place, as Godflesh leap from the imagine canvas like Arnie in Last Action Hero and the rolling clouds of oppressive industrial follow them out to buffet eardrums. The anxiety of their Hellfest performance is obliterated and replaced by the first genuinely spectacular reunion show from the mighty Godflesh.

Japan’s squeaky hyper-speed cartoon noise/grind/jazz/whatevers Melt Banana unleash high octane silliness that rots the teeth. It’s hard to tell how much of Yasuko Onuki’s stage persona is genuine and how much is a knowing parody of how dumb Gaijin see Japanese popular culture, but it’s a dizzying performance regardless – like the sonic equivalent of that Pokemon episode that put kids in life threatening fits.

Oh, I seem to have accidentally ended on a high, that’s unprecedented.

Picture stolen, once again, from this superb recap of the weekend.

Supersonic, the problem’s chronic (Part I)

Birmingham goes on forever and there’s nothing in it apart from curry houses and Napalm Death. And Supersonic, the annual Mecca for people who take music too seriously and think all metal is hilarious Wayne’s World music unless it comes out on Southern Lord, in which case they lose their shit in a massively hypocritical emperor’s new clothes sort of way. They’re mostly right, metal is dumb and laughable, but where they err is in thinking there’s an exception.

I last went to Supersonic when bowel-emptying drone monks Sunn 0))) headlined, which was about two years ago and I’d completely forgotten how crushingly dull that festival is if you’re not into duffle coats, feedback loops and tote bags with animals drawn on. Luckily, post-Electric Wizard Dorset doomsters Ramesses and primordial death metallers Obliteration are playing in town as well, so that’s a good few hours I won’t be spending talking to someone called Casper about his multimedia installation exploring contemporary attitudes to fertility.

Obliteration look very young, they probably weren’t even born when Darkthrone took their first faltering steps and put Norwegian death metal briefly on the map, before attacking it with little pentagrams, and that makes their delivery of hellhammering DM so cynicism-free and strangely for something so crusty, downright pure. If I was writing a review for some dull-as-shit, thoroughly redundant label-pleasing webzine I’d feel compelled to end my summery of Ramesses with “they may not have broken the curse, but it’s far from broken them!” Which is a pithy way of saying they break a load of stuff and the drummer looks like a frustrated anaemic Wolverine while they sort it out, but they carry on regardless. It’s pretty awesome really and the beer is cheap.

Over in the land of thick-rimmed glasses, Fukpig half-fill a tent that smells strangely of tea leaves, which is pretty good going given they sound like Dissection playing Extreme Noise Terror covers, as opposed to ‘outsider art’ that taps into our natural ‘fear of the other’. You would not believe how many times I heard people talk about ‘the other’ this weekend. I don’t want to kick over your snowman but it is just music, not an EDL march.

Napalm Death next, one of the reasons I’m here, and a thoroughly disheartening experience. It seems a bit churlish to begrudge a bunch of people who’d rather be stroking their chins to a bloody pulp in front of Mogwai their first grindcore experience, but this band are a big deal so it’s perfectly fine to be overprotective as floppy haired idiots smirk knowlingly and gallop off into the pit for an ‘experience’. The sound is flatter than a tissue innersole, almost in direct inverse proportion to the band’s earnest enthusiasm – a carefully picked groove-heavy set and explanations of all the songs. As I leave to cry in the toilets on their behalf I overhear someone talking about having moved in with Tara. Don’t be forlorn my sweet Napalm Death, my stalwart soldiers of Sparkhill, you’re far too good for the kind of people who live with people called Tara.

Part II tomorrow, picture shamelessly thieved from this lovely blog.

Asstlevania- Confessions of a man mad enough to sit in his fucking pants and play videogames.

It’s a quiet day in Pigeon Towers, so I’m at a bit of a loose end as to what to do with myself. Noel is out hunting elk, Andi is in a self induced coma until Duke Nukem Forever comes out, new boy Jimmy is schmoozing with Seth Putnam and Paul is accepting numerous backhanders from the Dillinger Escape Plan (dirty bastard) for decent reviews. So what’s dear old Defence Minister Mishkin going to do eh? Eh?

I’ll tell you what he’s going to do. He’s going to sit and play numerous Castlevania games back to back in his fucking pants.

There are a few reasons why I’m doing this. Andi did the very same thing many moons ago with the Megaman series. The mad bastard. Part of me always thought that’d be quite an excellent way to waste what little time we have on this plane of existence. Why go out and climb mountains and swim in the sea when you can beat the shit out of fictional beasties eh? Siiigh. The other more notable reason though is to commemorate the release of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the best Castlevania game in aaaaaaages. Rather than do another Metroidvania (that’d sell about 8 copies), they’ve upped the budget, got Hideo Kojima on board (expect lots of Medieval Codec conversations) and drafted in some hefty voice talent in the shape of Captain Jean Luc Picard and Begbie from Trainspotting.

Naturally, it’s the perfect excuse for me to plonk myself in front of a TV, use my Wii for something other than Dragon’s Den (god, the things I would do to Meaden) on the iPlayer, and forego any human contact for the day as I direct a little fictional man around a little fictional castle. Dear God I hate myself.

I’m going to try blundering my way through Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania: Rondo Of Blood and maaaaybe Castlevania 64. I won’t go through any of the post Symphony Of The Night stuff, because that would take 8 years to do, and we’ll all be dead by then. Probably. Also rather than be a new games journalist fanny I’m just going to write it all down in some diary form. Think Bridget Jones if she liked hardcore Japanese computer games instead of obsessing over the size of her pants.

So without further ado, let the eh, madness, begin.

CASTLEVANIA

4.03pm: Try to turn on Wii. Realise Wii isn’t plugged in. Say a cuss word.

4.04pm: Plug Wii in. Weep as I see the effects of it’s fried GPU. Green pixels are everywhere. It’s like the Matrix for overgrown manchildren. So yeah, it’s basically like the Matrix.

4.05pm: Boot up the first Castlevania which I bought on the virtual console ages ago one rainy day in Scotland after a relentlessly miserable day working at Primark. I’ve no idea why I piddled my hard earned money on it. I didn’t have any clue about emulators in those days. I was an idiot. I still am really.

4:06pm: Right, here we go. My little man Simon Belmont is storming the castle. I’m beating the crap out of zombies left right and centre. Christ this is easy. At this rate I’ll have finished… wait. I just got messed up by this little jumping wanker. Uuuuurgh.

4:12pm: Still stuck on the first level. Lost all my lives and have had to start again. How the piss did people tolerate this kind of stuff in the mid 80s? My little man is walking through the castle like he has a massive dump in his trousers at about 3mph, and he can’t use his whip diagonally, which is no good when you’ve got shit flying at you from all angles. Stupid bloody game.

4:14pm: Hooray! Finally at the boss. It’s a big bat. That I can’t hit because I can’t whip diagonally and I’ve only got stupid knives to chuck at him. Ffffffffffrg. I still beat him though. Hahaha stupid bat.

4:17pm: The second level is even more of a ballache than the first. I have skeletons to deal with now. And little flying bats that are basically impossible to hit. One of the little buggers took 3/4s of my health. What is a boy to do eh.

4:21pm: Aaaaarghstupidfuckinggameaaaaarghaaaarghfuckingbatsaaaaaaaaargh

4:23pm: Tried to jump over a platform and got knocked off by a bat. Normally I wouldn’t complain about getting knocked off (haha lol etc etc) but this has happened 4 times. I cannot be scuttered with the original Castlevania anymore.

4.24pm: I get a cup of tea, a scotch egg, and I move away from the mic to breathe in.

CASTLEVANIA II: Simon’s Quest

4.27pm: I’m 3 minutes into Simon’s Quest and I’m already bamboozled. Rather than follow the linear progression of the first game, it’s an open ended rpg platformer. This would be all well and good if Simon could whip back and forth with the grace and speed of Alucard in Symphony Of The Night, but alas, he still moves with the dexterity and poise of an ennui stricken diabetic. This will be a long night.

4.29pm: Speaking of long nights, Castlevania II has a bloody dreadful day night mechanism. Every time it becomes night you get a bigass intrusive text block pop up which tells you ‘WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE.’ It takes about 10 seconds to go through this. And it happens a lot. Hellish. Not only that, but the already annoying monsters you have to fight become even harder to kill. Game designers in the 80s were rubbish.

4.34pm: The monsters are nothing compared to the villagers you have to speak to though. Normally I find Japanese to English translation pretty funny, but not when you need to listen to the dumbell yokels to actually progress. Some of the villagers are helpful, some are outright liars, and some are just plain fucking stupid.

4.50pm: I battle my way through a castle to find one of Dracula’s body parts. That’s the plot of the game you see. Transylvania’s going through some kind of curse and you need to bring Dracula back to kill him again or something, and to do that you need to get his body parts which include his fingernail, his rib bone, his wig, his monocle and…wait for it…snigger … his left bollock (hahaha lol I made a joke about genitalia I am wild). To get said body part though, you need to buy an oak stake in order to penetrate the glowing orb (even in the 80s game designers were putting sexual metaphor and artistic allusion over actual, y’know, fun) that protects it. You need to buy the oak stake from some manny in the castle though, because the game is awkward as all out shit. So I get to the bit with the orb, chuck the stake…

And miss. Meaning I need to traipse back to the wanker in the castle, but I don’t have the money required to buy the stake so I need to kill more beasties again.

I decide I’m not willing to get an aneurysm for the sake of an old child’s computer game, and guess there and then that I’ve probably seen enough of Simon’s Quest. I hate Simon.

CASTLEVANIA III: DRACULA’S CURSE

4.52pm: I boot up Castlevania III and stare at the title screen. I then wonder if it’s all worth it. The Castlevania marathon I mean. Not life in general.

4.53pm: Then I do actually wonder if life in general is worth it. Have a cry.

4.55pm: Castlevania III is more like the original Castlevania again. It means I know where I’m going, but it’s basically fucking impossible to get there anyway. Natural order is resumed.

4.56pm: The little man I control in this one is called Trevor Belmont by the way. I like that. You never get anyone called Trevor in games these days. It’s all Dante, Leon, Garrus or Clive. Stupid modern game developers.

4.57pm: Some skeleton chucks a bone at me and I drop down dead. Again. Stupid Trevor.

4.58pm: I really can’t be arsed anymore. With the Castlevania marathon I mean. Not life in general.

4.59pm: Then I do actually decide I can’t be arsed with life in general. Have a cry.

5.00pm: Turn off Wii.

5.02pm: Lie back on bed to think about what I’ve become.

11.37pm: I wake up and rub the sleep and remnant tears from my eyes. Contemplate maybe making a start on Super Castlevania IV, but opt to watch Down Periscope instead, with Kelsey Grammer, star of TV’s Cheers and Frasier. Also when I say with, I mean he’s in it, not that I watched it with him. Although that would be so excellent. Imagine drinking sherry and watching a terrible comedy with Kelsey Grammer. You could die happy then.

11.38pm: Realise the chances of me dying happy are slim to none. Decide that I want to be immortal.

11.43pm: Get bored of shit 90s navy comedy and fall asleep, ready to get up for work the next day. Please help.

As you can see the proposed Castlevania marathon was a failure. Not only were the games too hard, slow and unplayable, but they rendered me an existential mess. It was less a marathon, and more a light stroll through the Yorkshire Moors, and the Yorkshire Moors were covered in dog shit and syringes.

Excellent music though.

Linda’s Shits

Don’t we rock writers love lists? How many smug, happy hours have we spent, thinking of a thing, then thinking of another, similar thing; then deciding whether the first thing is better or worse than the second thing based on the following criterion: “????” And of course, once you have a list, it is essential that you share it far and wide, so that everybody knows what your (the correct) opinion is.

It’s Christmas now, nearly, and that means we will be seeing lots and lots and loads and loads and scads of fucking lists, for fucking ever. What were the best albums of 2010? Biggest comebacks? Best vocalists? Stupidest deaths? Saddest attempts at corpsepaint? Best songs by Panic Cell?

You can see why they’re so appealing, of course; an entire article, just an Ask Jeeves away. We tried it here, when we were just getting going. The best albums of the decade. I can’t speak for the other ‘scribes’ hereabouts but making that list felt kinda dishonest to me, and I doubt if I made it again now it would look even a little bit the same. Then, later, we took the piss out of the whole idea, which is how we roll.

But God loves a tryer, so because I’m lazy, because I’m a hack, and because I know better than every single one of you, I’m going to give it another go. It’s fucking list time, y’all.

The Top Five Listiest Lists in Metal

5. Top Ten Metal Tearjerkers


I took a peek into the Metal Hammer blog today, just a for a kick, and I learned something: It is wrong for men to cry at Sinead O’Connor, or Elton John, or Wobbie Williams. I guess it is not man music. A half arsed piano ballad with some sixth-form poetry, by Avenged Sevenfold; that is music for men! I’d have thought this list was a joke, to be honest, but then you scroll down and read the comments. Now I want to cry.

Also, there’s only one reason KoЯn have ever made me sad, and it wasn’t that weird piece of artificial emotional pornography otherwise known as Daddy.

(I got chucked in a skip and bummed off Jonathan Davis)

4. Top Ten Metal Covers of Non-Metal Songs

I seem to remember ironic metal and ska-punk covers of beloved oldies becoming popular with insufferable twats (like you) in around and about 2002, back when I still knew what a metal scene was. You see, when Reel Big Fish cover A-ha, it makes it okay to enjoy something you otherwise wouldn’t spare the time to piss upon. Because it is ironic. I get irony, haha, yes.

According to this list, KoЯn deserve two places in the ten best metal covers of like, ever time. System of a Down also deserve two. So do Disturbed. Three bands cover six places. This is stupid.

The number one metal cover of all time, however, is Smooth Criminal by Alien Ant Farm. That’s even stupider.

3. The Top Five Most Monstrous Ballads Ever

I’ve no idea what’s going on with this list. Reading it feels like I’ve walked into a room halfway through a conversation, and the conversation was mostly about what an objectionable piece of shit I am. It’s awkward, confusing, and hurtful.

They don’t even bother writing about the song that gets the most votes; and it’s full of strange undefined terms that I suspect we’re meant to be familiar with. What’s a Monster Ballad (sic)? A power ballad, I guess? I suppose I can infer what a “truck driver modulation” might be, but a hint wouldn’t hurt. Do they like power ballads or not? It’s all bound up in a layer of sneering irony, so I can’t tell. Also, just because you put some words in italics it doesn’t mean that you have made a joke.

Chicago has a saxophonist, Walter Parazaider, but You’re the Inspiration doesn’t have a sax part. So Walter appears in the music video, reading a newspaper while the rest of the band plays (see left). It’s self-parody. And that raises the possibility that the entire song is self-parody. How inspiring would that be?”

I’m only pretending to be confused, to be honest. It is definitely all a joke, but I’ve got not a fucking clue who is laughing.

2. The Top 100 Metal Albums

Excellent, the stand-by of stand-bys. Top 100 metal albums.

“There is absolutely nothing scientific about the ranking that appears below; it is simply the collective opinion of a group of true metalheads. Not everyone will agree with the list or all the items in it, and that’s fine, we make no apologies for having an opinion and sharing it with you!”

We make no apologies for having an opinion, and you’re welcome to disagree, but we are also True Metalheads and therefore correct by definition. So, heh, well…

Glance over the top ten: Two by Metallica, three by Maiden, two by Slayer, blah fucking blah. Why even bother putting all that thought and effort into a thing if all you’re going to do is slavishly reproduce the critical consensus of the age?

Literally, what is the point of this?

1. The Ten Rules of Metal

Here’s a list mocking metal, a hobby that is dear to us. On first glance, perhaps this “Rob O’Connor” is a man after our own beflinted hearts. Let’s take… a closer look.

(The Camera Does a Cool Dolly Zoom on the Words!)

 

6) Must Have Ridiculous Stage Props

5) Must Write Songs About Rocking

4) Must Write Songs About Extraterrestrials &/Or Medieval Times

3) Must Have Ridiculous Album Concepts

Ah, I see. I too have watched the mocku-rocku-mentary This Is Spın̈al Tap. What a funny film that was.

Yes, what I should have done here is ripped off a 30 year old film, and poked fun at some clichés that have hardly been relevant in almost as long. In my mind it is still 1982, and I never got old. If only I had got that point across. Instead, I’ve wasted a thousand words making myself look like a confused and senile fuddy-duddy, and burnt most of one of my ever-dwindling stock of precious days in the effort.

In conclusion, metal journalism and lists. A waste of fucking time.

Enslaved Review

Alex Garland is a man from film world who quite likes the videogame world so he has written a story for a videogame. I say he has written a story he has taken the story of Monkey and changed the setting but it is okay because Monkey is a pretty good story. The man who was Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films did all of the motion capture for the main character because he is very good at motion capture. Also the music is by that guy who is like Amon Tobin but isn’t. A lot of money has been spent on Enslaved and it was a good idea because the game looks and sounds lovely.

All of the pounds mean that all of the things that videogames struggle with it shines. A decent, if cribbed, story and likeable characters with believable relationships. Unfortunately all of the easy stuff in an action game it gets really, really wrong and you’re left struggling with an awful camera, dull combat and platforming that doesn’t engage in the slightest. There are also loads of collectibles to tediously seek out at the promise of a few character upgrades, which utterly shafts the pace of the game because instead of stomping through on your odyssey to the west you have to keep stopping to look in every nook and cranny. It is also really repetitive, and after you’ve done the first few levels you’ll find yourself doing the same few tasks over and over.  It is almost like they had the pitch and got all excited about having an ACTUAL SCRIPTWRITER working on the game instead of some animator pulling overtime and coiling some plot turd out before going home to his neglected family, then realizing “FUCK, we need to build a game around this”, before spunking something fairly average out.

Some of the story is also a bit arse because unlike a film where you can write a straightforward tale you have to take into consideration things like objectives for the players, but that is potentially opening the gates for a big debate of videogame narrative vs. cinema narrative and I can’t be scuttered with that right now because I am in my underpants and I have other things to be doing and I’m only really writing this article because one of our staff wrote a piece that upset Killing Joke fans earlier and I’m going to try and ride the wave of angry fourty-something goths to a few extra hits.

Not that any of them are actually reading this, of course. Nirvana’s version of “Eighties” was better, anyway.

So yeah, Enslaved. It is alright. I finished it. The story was quite good and better than 90% of the puerile shite out on the shelves right now, but most of the puerile shite is a lot more fun to play because you get to shoot people and that is why we play videogames.

6/10

Killing Joke

Good luck anyone trying to find a babysitter tonight because it looks like all of London’s 40-somethings are on the prowl this Saturday night, having dug out their faded Bauhaus shirts for a last stab at their youth. There’s a sad little jostling pit down the front and a constant queue at the gents thanks to all these weak bladders and incontinence issues, luckily they have the sad little jostling pit to talk about while they wait. It’s really quite sweet listening to these unreconstructed Cockney geezers with rubbery, pock-marked faces and wispy grey hair lose their shit. But also a bit sad, I hope I’m in government by the time I’m their age.

The people sitting in front of us, yeah, we’re in the circle and it’s a big venue, are definitely from this sizeable tribe. They keep running off to get more drinks and squander what little time they actually have in their seats either talking or playing with their phones, yet this whole evening has so much meaning for them that one guy’s blackberry has the stage as its background and when occasionally the events in front of them swim into focus, they manage a few seconds of singing along before Killing Joke vanish into the fog like the mysterious town of Brigadoon. The guy to my right is definitely having fun, acne-ridden despite being at least mid-twenties, this guy was cased in amber in 1996, complete with hideously greasy nu-metal-era ‘cage’ fringe, massive post-FUBU pants and, probably, a blueish tattoo of the Fear Factory logo. The guy to my left looks like a Christian Nikki Sixx – jet black anime hair and pristine fitted jacket, but about as sexual as caravan trip to Newquay. His tiny girlfriend doesn’t really register with me at the first, but she stands up and starts dancing toward the end. She’s not particularly pretty or anything – that’s totally not why I’m watching her – but I like that tree-in-the-wind style of goth dancing which is designed to come across all fey and ethereal but is actually pure pragmatism: nu-rocks are too heavy to make lots of unnecessary leg movements with.

That’s the Killing Joke fanbase then, 70% aging punks, 15% nu-metallers and 15% goths. Not sure what that makes me, probably the goth because I only came along for those ridiculous ’80s new wave guitar tones that make all their songs sound like a drunken singalong Tears For Fears.

There’s more glaring spotlights than Auschwitz, all pulsing and flashing in epileptic patterns to try and detract from how Killing Joke’s stage presence is limited to a bit of Spandau Ballet swaying from the guitarists, and Jaz Coleman’s wedding-karaoke strutting. His stage banter is even worse, being some sort of ranting Ayn Rand retirement home that alternates between mumbling about what he had for breakfast and slurring some half constructed nonsense about the “European superstate” and depopulation. True to form even the new songs have that coveted Tears For Fears guitar sound, but by the fifth or so I start to wish I was actually watching Tears For Fears rather than a band whose greatest legacy was inspiring a bunch of bands who were terrible by anyone’s yardstick.

Especially Rammstein.