Below is the kind of man who likes heavy metal. If you like The Sword, this is you.
I like The Sword. :[
It is that time of year again, when people in the Western world erect trees, hold vigils and worship Satan, seemingly oblivious to the plight of other less fortunate entities on the planet, like music critics. Yes, we get it bad. We have to compile what we thought was the best stuff in the year and it’s hellish because we can’t even remember how much meth we took yesterday, let alone what shite we were quaffing 12 months ago.
Without further ado… here’s our top 10 things for the year.
1. Chronicles of Riddick Soundtrack- Graham Revell
2. Willenium- Will Smith
3. Christian and the Hedgehog Boys- S/T
4. Chronicles of Riddick Soundtrack- Graham Revell
5. NOW (that’s what I call music) 37
6. Free Live CD that came with the Daily Mail- Simply Red
7. Anything by Von Helton
8. Greatest Hits- Phil Spector
9. The Best of- Kid Creole
10. Fire It Up- Panic C3ll
1. Getting mentioned on a much bigger website.
2. Getting Panic C3ll records to review.
10. That’s it.
2. James Swallow
3. That guy
4. Sadaam Hussein
5. Best friend’s mum
6. Members of Panic C3ll
7. James Swallow
8. Adam Baldwin
9. Drummer from Def Leppard
10. James Swallow
1. Luke Bell
4. Lead Guitarist
5. Rhythm Guitarist
6. Man who does artwork
7. The people responsible for Black Juice Down Video
8. Man who made Jaeger mic (hereby christened H.R. Jaeger)
9. Man who cuts Luke Bell’s hair
10. They’re all heroes
1. Mass Effect 2
2. Mass Effect 2 DLC
3. Listening to Fire it Up by Panic C3ll while playing Mass Effect 2
10. Tom Clancy’s Cooking Mama
1. All of them
10. Fire It Up- Panic C3ll
1. Oh no cat is dead
10. Stupid cat
1. I am an expert.
2. I am an authority.
3. I am a blogger.
4. I’m also a professional wannabe.
5. I learned everything I know about writing from back issues of Kerrang! and Amiga Power c. 1993.
6. I am a fucking nerd with no life away from these speakers.
7. I spent months preparing this list.
8. And do you give a shit?
9. Do you give a shit the way I do?
10. Iron Maiden- The Final Frontier
1. On the bus.
2. On the train.
3. On the plane.
4. On the autobahn.
5. On the tube.
6. On a shouting German man’s video camera after a muddled and uncertain contract negotiation conducted via an interpreter.
7. Down your leg.
8. Down my leg.
9. Up a rope.
10. On some soap.
1. Music is dead.
2. Music is dead.
3. Music is dead.
5. Music is dead.
6. .daed si cisuM
8. /ˈmyuzɪk//ɪz/ /dɛd/
9. pɐəp sı ɔısnɯ
10. And so is music journalism.
3. Lambing FAQ
4. Hidden beastiality section on redtube
5. A false computer screen on an attractive Swedish desk at Ikea
6. Updates about my mother’s barn in Farmville
8. Archive of the internet I began in 1997 (spanning four 5.25″ floppy disks so far)
9. NHS Intranet
11. A cover CD I got on an Amiga magazine once which boasted ‘The Best of the World Wide Web’, including an absolute truckload of porn.
1. Fucking everything.
2. Fuel 238
4. Puddle of Mudd
8. Stabbing Westward
10. Scott Stapp honking over zydeco.
1. Brown leather trousers
2. Pulling invisible condom over head in all Creed videos
10. Jesus Christ Pose
1. This one.
Katie Price, the professional rack and celebrity sleeping bag once known as Jordan, has cried havoc and unleashed the dogs of law on Channel 4, not for the crimes against comedy by broadcasting Frankie Boyle’s piss poor new sketch show Tramadol Nights, but because it featured a joke at the expense of their severely disabled son Harvey, who she’s more than happy to exploit like a dancing monkey in her dangerously compelling series of heavily edited documentaries.
Emerging from a mystical fog of hype like a ghost ship, Tramadol Nights jumps from stand-up to tortuously drawn out sketches and back again. Frankie Boyle’s razor sharp wit seems far more at home on panel shows than it does in script meetings where his normally acerbic punchlines are boiled down to muted shades.
In her complaint, Price’s legal enforcers drew a direct comparison to Sachsgate, in which two egotistical unfunnymen harassed an elderly actor, the long term effects of which weren’t a serious debate about boundaries or anything of the like, but a craven fit of self-censorship from the BBC. Obviously the comparison serves as a ready made headline for the right wing press and the same brigade of shrieking, hysterical howler monkeys who confused the debate by retrospectively complaining about something they either didn’t witness or deliberately sought out in order to be offended. Amusingly gypsies, Muslims, asylum seekers, Muslims, students, Muslims and students are all fair game for spiteful insinuation, but a punchline directed at their cash cow’s troubled offspring is worthy of national outcry.
Even worse are the otherwise rational people who’re weighing in with hand-wringingly sanctimonious observations to the effect of ‘Well, that was a horrible thing to say!’ as if that matters in the slightest. Frankie Boyle isn’t going door to door telling you that he’s given Aids to your pets, comedy is something you choose to witness and if you don’t like it, you stand up (hurrr!) and you walk away.
Harvey wasn’t a participant in this, and everyone who did witness it, did so through choice. It’s doubtful even the aggrieved baby-shitting machine that is Katie Price witnessed it first hand and instead was told by a friendly sycophant, which kicked into gear the rolling stock of stupidity currently gathering momentum in the press and across the internet.
I watched Tramadol Nights once, it was fucking ghastly and so I never watched it again. Is it really so hard for you to do the same?
Leeds University 06.11.2010
What’s that you say? A review for a festival that’s over a month past? Well of course. One cannot rush these things; one must let one’s opinions ferment into something golden, approaching truth through a lens of distance. One should not rush to judgement on such and oh fuck it, I’ve been a lazy bastard, OK? Apologies to the people who wait on such things, but at least I get to write the final word on this rather splendid little shindig. And I am going to do so in two parts no less, because if it’s good enough for the Harry Potter franchise then it’s good enough for me.
For those of you who have no idea, and Christ knows we have a few of them among our readership (not you though, you’re super fucking on the ball, it’s the other guy, over there, looking at you weird) Damnation Festival is a one day indoor metal extravaganza held in the north of England where the cost of entry for a shitload of bands is the same as going to see Deftones on their own a week later. Of course as your faithful correspondent I made it my mission to go and see as many of these bands as humanly possible, or at least I did until Panic Cell came along and crushed my will to live. But more on that later.
First up on the main stage were Mutant (4), a band who every other reviewer has heaped praise upon, but whose trad-thrash snoozathon put me more in mind of workaday Status Quo than any of the legion of identikit thrash legends they aspire to be. Unfortunately I found the queue for the bar more interesting. After these it was over to the Terrorizer stage for Diascorium (8), who muddled through a muddy sound to provide the small crowd that had gathered for them with grind of the highest quality. Underpinned by the phenomenal basswork of ex-Reth man Paul Priest, they fused together a furious grind assault with lovely showy tricks and spills and were thoroughly excellent.
At this point I was looking at the stage times and wondering if I might actually get to go and see every band on the bill, and was inwardly congratulating myself for being the only reviewer who would go to such lengths to give you dear readers such an in depth account of the festival. However, heading to the third stage to see The Construct (6ish) I realised my folly. These were only the first band on and already it was impossible to get into the room more than a few metres, and the chances of actually seeing anything were zero. The band sounded a very capable if slightly derivative Cult of Luna type ‘post metal’ kind of thing, but after one song I had to make a choice between leaving or killing many many people.
So it was over to the main stage to see Panic Cell (1). It has been a month since I saw this band play, and the intervening period seems to have wiped most of it clean from my mind, some sort of instinctive self defence mechanism shielding my fragile being from such trauma as unleashed by the sight of a bunch of middle aged men who seem determined that it’s still the beginning of the last decade and that the height of musical sophistication is Disturbed and Drowning Pool. They were so bad they would even make Damageplan look good. I just managed to get mental image of the lead singer in my head and was sick into my mouth.
Back to the Terrorizer stage to see Colonel Blast (5) who I’ve heard many a good thing about, but the first thing that becomes apparent is that the sound, already poor for Diascorium, seems to have worsened the more people turn up to watch, and as they burst on to the stage with huge gusto the sound cannot hope to keep up with them. The second thing that is evident is that their new singer seems to have been brought to Leeds by way of the Mines of Moria, and his little goblin face gurns up a storm. I hesitate to say what the band are like, as I cannot tell from the mud issuing from the stage. They could be amazing. They could be terrible. Next time they come anywhere near me I shall take the chance to find out.
It’s always a good rule that the most ‘hyped’ band at this sort of shindig will inevitably be the poorest, and Rolo Tomassi (8) come burdened with enough Metal Hammer and Kerrang endorsements to make me sure I’m about to see a stinker of a show. When the band walk out, all haircuts and skinny jeans and cheekbones and white t shirts and smug youthful self satisfaction, I grit my teeth so hard I nearly sever my tongue. But then she came out. I have no idea what her name is (I could google it, but typing this sentence is easier) but she is a little bit of heaven, all shimmying prettiness and great big growling vocals. Her hips could be a metronome. She slinks and shimmies through a much better than expected set of Mr Bungle and Dillinger influenced Noisecore with occasionally annoying keyboard bits. But when they get it right it’s very much on the money, and they hit a few grooves peppered throughout their set that suggest that if they learn to step back a bit and let their songs breathe a bit they could even be destined for something more than hype. They may be depressingly hip and now, but at least they bring a good live performance and some excellent songs to back that up. Either that or I have been effectively dazzled by a pretty smile and slinky hips like the desperately depressing middle aged man that I am.
Which seems like a good place for a break in my tale. I’m tired, so are you, let’s go and watch something on the telly eh? But be sure to join me soon for more adventures at Damnation Festival.
It’s fucking hard being a music reviewer sometimes. The innate glamour of our calling, the endless influx of free music, the guest lists and accreditations, the industry bashes; all of this works to overshadow the true determination and bravery of the music writer. Your humble scribe toils in such gritty obstinacy, against such impossible odds, that his sacrifice should never be forgotten.
Yeah, hear me out, right.
How many times have you seen a review that kicks off with an extended moan at not being able to think up anything to say about a certain record? I bet you’ll have snuffled a thick string of snot up one nostril at the sight, and thought ill of the lack of imagination and will displayed by such a shiftless hack. Imagine the writer checking his word count as an idea finally occurs to him, and despite noticing he has wasted maybe 200 of them on rehearsing his own blank-minded stupor, he still does not bother to delete any of it. What a baleful idiot, you will think. What a maroon.
But you’re wrong to do that, and I can now use this album by Wo Fat to demonstrate why. Because when an album is this derivative, you really want to excoriate it. The problem is that it’s also excellent. It now falls to me, the rock critic, a literal Christ-like figure, to try and explain how that can possibly work, without resorting to lame metaphors about [band x] getting fondled in the dark by [band y], only they’re being observed via night-vision goggles by the singer from [band z]. In case you’re struggling here, what I’m saying is that I don’t really know what to say.
Thing is, I don’t think Wo Fat would remotely object to me calling them ‘derivative’; I actually think it’s more like a mission statement on their part. This record genuinely oozes with an assured sense of where it belongs. Analog Man is pretty much an unabashed love letter to their vintage recording equipment and methods, while Shake Em on Down is practically a note for note cover of the RL Burnside original, just run through a fuzzbox. In these two songs you can see exactly what this band is shooting for.
And that’s why it would be unfair to say they sound just like Fu Manchu, or Scissorfight, or Orange Goblin, or Earthless, or 35007, or even Clutch or The Bakerton Group, or any other grubby contemporary stoner/blues rock band, even though they totally fucking do. It would be unfair because those bands are all doing exactly the same thing as Wo Fat. Namely, making a pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta, and thoroughly sifting through those Muddy Waters (if you see what I have done there), panning for the last lost nuggets of proper blues, which form the foundations of all this stupid shit we like so much.
Not of This Earth and The Spheres Beyond, as well as the fantastic prog-heavy intro jam of the title track Psychodelonaut, demonstrate how well such creative tithing can work. The former pair of tracks form an extended 20-minute jam to close out the record, and combine grumbling bass grooves with insouciant bongo slaps and hypnotic blues guitar licks that pay barefaced homage to Cream and Hendrix. El Culto de la Avaricia sounds like it might have fallen off the last Orange Goblin album, much to that record’s detriment; The Slow Blade is like a reimagined Lazy from Deep Purple’s Machine Head; and Enter the Riffian (which could have easily been done by Fu Manchu) might have the dumbest lyrical hook I’ve ever heard in ‘and the riffian slays’, but I still fucking love it.
So what are our conclusions? That sometimes, you can successfully indulge in the rankest type of hypocritical chicanery, so long as you are willing to deconstruct it. That sometimes, being derivative is a good thing. And that sometimes, writing about music is the hardest thing a man will ever have to do, harder in many ways than fighting a fire or going to war.
I’ve been quiet on the Demon Pigeon front. This is because I have realised that most modern pop culture is useless. Kaputt. Kicking a dead pig. Flogging a dead whore what have you.
Apart from Chronicles Of Riddick.
In tribute to the official greatest film ever, we’ve made a video showing our love for this monolith mega-epic.
(Warning… contains Creed)