parody by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO celebrating the ECLECTIC and EXPERIMENTAL roster of the LOS ANGELES-based independent label SARGENT HOUSE RECORDS!
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by the time you get to PANTERA's final album REINVENTING THE STEEL (EAST WEST, 2000), a transition within the band's SOUND and RELATIONSHIP to one another that had been underway since THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL (EAST WEST, 1996) had basically come to fruition and fully calcified. namely this album was a band at the END OF THEIR ROPE CREATIVELY and INTERPERSONALLY.
in terms of their sound, the first two records COWBOYS FROM HELL (ATCO, 1990) and VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER (ATCO, 1992) were the sound of an incredibly tight BROTHERHOOD coalescing together while writing, living and struggling together to create and promote arguably some of the most COHESIVE and EXCITING METAL ever produced. those two records represent an ascent and upward trajectory both commercially and in terms of shared VISION and FOCUS as a CREATIVE UNIT.
once they hit FAR BEYOND DRIVEN (EAST WEST, 1994) some INTERNAL SHIFTS had occurred. for one, having been recorded in NASHVILLE it is the only PANTERA record to not be recorded in their home studio as everything before was in PANTEGO SOUND STUDIOS (formerly owned and operated by the ABOTT BROTHERS' father for decades) in ARLINGTON and everything after was done at DIMEBAG's home studio at his DALWORTHINGTON GARDENS residence. as such the record is ODD since it is both EXPANSIVE sonically and lyrically CLAUSTROPHOBIC with themes of DRUG ABUSE and MENTAL DEGRADATION. shortly thereafter its release vocalist PHIL ANSELMO had a HEROIN OVERDOSE on tour which shook the band to its core since for the first time the band's seemingly UNSHAKEABLE UNITY had been COMPROMISED. it was during this period also that ANSELMO pursued a major side project in the SLUDGE METAL supergroup DOWN, which the ABOTT BROTHERS tolerated but quietly chafed at given their allegiance and UNSPARING FOCUS to all things PANTERA.
unfortunately, this schism was manifested in THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL being conceived and recorded in two separate studios, the band in TEXAS and ANSELMO in LOUISIANA at TRENT REZNOR's NOTHING STUDIOS in NEW ORLEANS. this DETERIORATION continued on REINVENTING THE STEEL which to some listeners is the sound of a band in bad need of a well-deserved hiatus to recharge and regroup. which of course never happened as their world tour was cut short abroad by 9/11 and the band proved to never play live again thereafter as ANSELMO pursued an ever-growing list of side projects (DOWN and SUPERJOINT RITUAL among numerous others) without checking in with DIMEBAG or VINNE PAUL, leaving them in perpetual limbo for a few years.
for me the experience of listening to REINVENTING THE STEEL is a bit BITTERSWEET as there are some STANDOUT tracks like "YESTERDAY DON'T MEAN SHIT," "HELLBOUND" and "REVOLUTION IS MY NAME", but overall its LACK OF COHESION and VISION makes it emerge as the LEAST IMPRESSIVE PANTERA album by far. even sonically, at this point everything had DISINTEGRATED into PURE ATTACK and AGGRESSION, whereas before there was a PALPABLE sense of GROOVE involved, like a more TECHNICALLY ADVANCED and HARDER-HITTING ZZ TOP. maybe, like with METALLICA or SLAYER, the standard and expectation level with PANTERA is just so ELEVATED that they were bound to misfire eventually, but the whole effort feels like a WASTED OPPORTUNITY for such an INNOVATIVE and POWERFUL band that basically kept the METAL flag going in the 1990s in the wake of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK explosion.
you also can't help but wonder what would have happened if the band just took an extended break, got some side project records out of their system and STAYED IN COMMUNICATION so that when they eventually regrouped theyd be ready to actually fire on all cylinders again having reconvened as a more MATURE and FORGIVING UNIT, both CREATIVELY and INTERPERSONALLY. that of course never happened and the band is permanently a "WHAT IF" scenario only further solidified by the TRAGIC DEATH of DIMEBAG and the subsequent health problems of VINNIE PAUL that led to his PASSING from natural causes a decade later. the modern iteration of the band, nobly carried on with close friends of the ABOTT BROTHERS and METAL all-star recruits in ZAKK WYLDE (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) and CHARLIE BENANTE (ANTHRAX, S.O.D.), still pales in comparison to the ENERGY, CAMARADERIE and SPIRIT of the original which sadly flamed out at the turn of the millennium with their final released effort.
i should also mention that this was the period i saw the band play OZZFEST on one proved to be one of their last national tours of the UNITED STATES. although the band was AMAZING, you could definitely see the divide in retrospect as ANSELMO mumbled his way through his seeming CHARLES MANSON phase while DIMEBAG was in full, VIBRANT flight DAZZLING the audiences with his GUITAR HEROICS. it definitely appeared like an odd couple but a DEGRADED PANTERA was likely better than most bands at the top of their game so INCREDIBLE was this band.
i wouldnt recommend REINVENTING THE STEEL as it is my LEAST FAVORITE PANTERA record. for me any of the first three albums is a great starting point for this LEGENDARY and highly INFLUENTIAL METAL band, undoubtedly of the first order right alongside BLACK SABBATH, SLAYER and JUDAS PRIEST.
POLITICS in METAL is kind of a TABOO subject. it is one thing to have PEDESTRIAN observations about the BRUTAL nature of WAR (i.e. "WAR PIGS" by BLACK SABBATH, "TERRITORY" BY SEPULTURA), CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ("RIDE THE LIGHTNING" by METALLICA, "UNDER THE GUILLOTINE" by KREATOR) or CORRUPT POLITICIANS (literally every other MEGADETH song), but it is entirely something else to promote a full-blown perspective. METAL fans tend to skew CONSERVATIVE and seem en masse to prefer first or third-person narratives related to HORROR (SLAYER, PIG DESTROYER), HISTORICAL (MOTORHEAD, IRON MAIDEN) or even FANTASY (DIO, KING DIAMOND) themes probably because there is a disconnect from reality in the lyrical content. it seems when METAL bands decide to get clever and go for DOUBLE ENTENDRES (JUDAS PRIEST) or write in PARABLES (TOOL), such efforts leave the majority of the audience behind. im not attempting to disparage METAL fans by insinuating that they are on the whole pretty UNSOPHISTICATED, but then again i guess maybe i am in fact saying just that. they want what they want and INNOVATIVE lyrical conceits is not part of it.
which to me is what makes the debut REEK OF PUTREFACTION (EARACHE, 1988) album by CARCASS such a deviation from the status quo. it is just so baldly POLITICAL. several members of the LEGENDARY GRINDCORE band are famously VEGETARIANS and from the jump made their PROGRESSIVE opinions on ANIMAL RIGHTS issues front and center lyrically, sonically and artistically. sonically they take off where fellow EARACHE RECORDS label-mates NAPALM DEATH took off, with an unrelentingly DEVASTATING DEATH METAL pounding charge into COMPLETE DISSONANCE and AURAL OBLIVION. if one could even understand the lyrics then they would come to appreciate quickly that in the eyes of CARCASS, there is nothing more VILE and BRUTAL in history than INDUSTRIAL FARMING. and its hard to argue with them on that point. if you concede that animals are SENTIENT beings capable of SUFFERING than modern technological practices within the FACTORY FARMING INDUSTRY meant to maximize PROFITABILITY, PRODUCTION and ECONOMIES OF SCALE (including GENETIC ENGINEERING, MECHANIZED SLAUGHTER, CONFINEMENT IN CLAUSTROPHOBIC CAGES, CASTRATION, DEHORNING, HOT-IRON BRANDING, TAIL DOCKING and DEBEAKING SANS ANESTHESIA) are beyond CRUEL and represent an elevated ORWELLIAN level of INHUMANITY and GORE. in other words its a VALID and thoroughly EMPATHETIC position to uphold while also being incredibly METAL. just look at the original artwork, which was made up of cutouts from one of the band-member's sister's nursing textbook. its all OUT-OF-CONTEXT LIMBS and APPENDAGES from surgery photos pastiched together to showcase what equates on first-glance to be seemingly INDISCRIMINATE BODILY CARNAGE. makes you reconsider what you are, in fact, eating at the dinner table.
METAL as a genre itself, despite its limitations, has always been about rebellion and going against the grain, even if the music broadly speaking over time has paradoxically become more RIGID and CONSERVATIVE over time. REEK OF PUTREFACTION and STANDOUT tracks like "VOMITED ANAL TRACK," "MAGGOT COLONY," "REGURGITATION OF GIBLETS," "FRENZIED DETRUNCATION," "PYOSISIFIED (ROTTEN TO THE GORE)" and "GENITAL GRINDER" represents a unique thematic departure from the lyrical and POLITICAL conformity of the genre in the late 1980s. even if a band is not explicitly POLITICAL, that choice is paradoxically a POLITICAL STATEMENT in and of itself. if DIO chooses to sing of WARLOCKS and WIZARDS instead of REAL-WORLD WAR ATROCITIES from the period, than said artistic choice is his to make and equates to a POLITICAL CHOICE.
part of me wishes that MODERN METAL had more to say, rather than just aping past artistic choices repeated down the line. but then again, thats what makes REEK OF PUTREFACTION what it is and CARCASS the CELEBRATED BRITISH GRINDCORE / DEATH METAL band that it is. definitely worth checking out.
recently i came across the SHOEGAZE band NOTHING out of PHILADELPHIA. they've been around for more than a decade and have a slew of releases out on the nearby RELAPSE RECORDS, which is generally known for their roster and back catalogue of EXTREME METAL acts. its an INTERESTING dichotomy given that SHOEGAZE is more of a sonically HAZY and AMORPHOUS genre that is less AGGRESSIVE than it is INTROSPECTIVE. NOTHING has a sound that seems to split the difference between THE CATHERINE WHEEL and the more EXPANSIVE moments of the DEFTONES. it really is an INTOXICATING sound that seems to blend a knack for ARTFUL AMBIGUITY and traditional song composition. plus their videos are pretty visually BRUTAL a la label-mates PIG DESTROYER or FULL OF HELL.
definitely a band worth checking out.
when i discovered SEPULTURA in sixth grade back in 1995, it was a few months after my FAMILY moved to NIGERIA from SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. on a FAMILY trip to ITALY, between my brother and me we scored TOOL's UNDERTOW (review linked HERE), RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE'S self-titled debut (EPIC, 1992), FAITH NO MORE's ANGEL DUST (review linked HERE) and SEPULTURA's CHAOS AD (ROADRUNNER, 1993) and ROOTS (ROADRUNNER, 1996) albums. it was one of the better and most INFLUENTIAL record hauls of my life and very much served as the SOUNDTRACK to my experience living in LAGOS during my middle school years. i say this only to setup the fact that MAX CAVALERA's music helped CONTEXTUALIZE the rampant POLITICAL and ECONOMIC CORRUPTION and widespread HUMAN SUFFERING i witnessed of a burdened population with its neck firmly under the boot of a MERCILESS and BRUTAL MILITARY DICTATORSHIP. i was also similarly gutted the following year when CAVALERA left SEPULTURA, effectively ending their relevance as a creative entity moving forward.
my motivation for reading MY BLOODY ROOTS: FROM SEPULTURA TO SOULFLY AND BEYOND (JAWBONE PRESS, 2022) was to gain some INSIGHT and CONTEXT in his own words into the BELOVED BRAZILIAN METAL icon MAX CAVALERA and his ECLECTIC career that i've followed and enjoyed for most of my life. to me the dude is a SINGULAR figure, even among the CELEBRATED greats of the genre, in that he has continued to expand both the LEXICON of the genre by incorporating new TEXTURES and INSTRUMENTS, often from INDIGENOUS world traditions, and has seemingly brought the extended FAMILY of METAL together throughout his career. METAL can feel a bit INSULAR at times, with the never-ending patchwork of evermore OBSCURE sub-genres, but CAVALERA seemingly proves the COMMONALITY and SHARED NATURE of such ARTISTIC EXPRESSION with each DISTINCT iteration and recording by his ongoing SOULFLY project (which has touched on everything from DEATH METAL, THRASH METAL, BLACK METAL, CROSSOVER THRASH, GRINDCORE, DOOM METAL, SLUDGE METAL and even NU METAL).
in MY BLOODY ROOTS, CAVALERA presents a BRAZILIAN childhood that was marked by the death of his ITALIAN father when he was 9, effectively impoverishing his FAMILY and transitioning his life in short order from one of means and SECURITY to one of SURVIVAL. by the time he was 13, CAVALERA decided that music was his means not only of EXPRESSION and employment, but also an IDENTITY and sense of COMMUNITY in the wake of his father's passing. it seems obvious that CAVALERA's knack for COMMUNITY BUILDING started in that moment and has continued unabated to the present. along with his drumming brother IGGOR, CAVALERA established SEPULTURA and gradually learned his instrument and the band made its way up the ladder in BRAZIL, each record expanding on the prior in terms of LYRICAL CONTENT, TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY and SONIC BRUTALITY. this culminated in ROOTS, which saw the band incorporate INDIGENOUS RHYTHMS and TEXTURES into their EVER-EXPANDING SOUND, even collaborating some field recordings with the native XAVANTE tribe in the interior MASSO GRATO state in BRAZIL. in the wake of the demise of SEPULTURA, CAVALERA through his SOULFLY has incorporated word RHYTHMS and TEXTURES from SERBIA, TURKEY, RUSSIA and EGYPT among other places to date.
SEPULTURA effectively broke up due to INTERNAL business tensions over their manager GLORIA, who in time was married to CAVALERA. the band thought MAX was given PREFERENTIAL treatment and that they could do better as a unit with outside management. her firing led to CAVALERA's quitting SEPULTURA, the band he started with his brother, who stayed along for another decade. the band is still an ongoing entity today, but their influence and stature is nominal at best. they are essentially a HOLLOWED-OUT edifice of what was a ONCE-PROMISING BAND poised to be the next METALLICA.
the story of CAVALERA's career is one of finding COMMUNITY in the face of DISAPPOINTMENT and TRAUMA at the STAGGERING LOSS of his FATHER, his BAND and his STEPSON. it is also the story of coming to terms with such and the DESTRUCTIVE coping mechanisms he employed surrounding the excessive use of alcohol and other chemicals. the fact that he address such head-on with no fanfare and went to rehab with the right attitude and came out successful is a testament to his sheer will and LOVE and CONNECTION to his FAMILY, both of the blood and musical variety. i truly feel that what separates CAVALERA is his INTENTION. you never feel that he is going through the motions, just writing and performing music for its own sake. there is a palpable EDGE and a real sense that this process is deeply PERSONAL and CATHARTIC for him, always. in turn the listener buys into the SENTIMENT as well and treats him as a REVERED sage on a truly CHAOTIC but INSIGHTFUL aural journey.
i'm always interested in his work with any number of his myriad of side projects, from CAVALERA CONSPIRACY with his brother, to KILLER BE KILLED with peers from THE DILLNGER ESCAPE PLAN and MASTODON, and GO AHEAD AND DIE with his son ZYON. not to mention the downright INCENDIARY NAILBOMB. his memoir MY BLOODY ROOTS may be a bit STRAIGHTFORWARD and UNADORNED, but its HEARTFELT and and unassailably AUTHENTIC much like his music. most definitely recommended.
it is not hyperbole to state matter-of-factly that LINKIN PARK's debut album HYBRID THEORY (WARNER BROS, 2000) is one of the more culturally CONSEQUENTIAL releases of the new millennium. and that judgement is separate from the album having gone 27 times platinum worldwide since its unveiling more than two decades ago, making it the most SUCCESSFUL debut release of the 21st century. the album itself represents the COHERENT and SEAMLESS integration of HIP HOP PRODUCTION and SONIC AESTHETICS with the INTESITY and AGGRESSION and TRADITIONAL SONGWRITING STRUCTURES of ALTERNATIVE ROCK / METAL.
what is interesting is that LINKIN PARK was not the first out of the gate with this HYBRID sound, arguably KORN, INCUBUS, LIMP BIZKIT, DEFTONES, SYSTEM OF A DOWN and several other acts of the period associated (FAIRLY or UNFAIRLY) with the NU METAL tag predated them at times by several years. but whereas those bands to a certain extent experimented with CHOPPED BEATS, RAPPED VOCALS and SCRATCHED VINYL TEXTURING as a means of expanding their SOUND, such dalliances didnt necessarily constitute a SOUND centered around such. in LINKIN PARK and especially on HYBRID THEORY, said SCRATCHED TEXTURES, BEAT-MAKING and RAPPED VOCALS inverted such AURAL EXPECTATIONS. those ELEMENTS were the main focus of their SONGWRITING, with METAL tropes like DETUNED, DISSONANT guitars and THUNDEROUS drumming a more secondary compositional element. LINKIN PARK very clearly represented a clean break from the pack and 2.0 version of the NU METAL genre to the music-buying public, which was trending towards becoming GENRE-LESS. id go so far as to say that the current DIGITAL MUSICAL ENVIRONMENT, where TRIBALISM has wained significantly as the new generation (POST MALONE, LIL UZI VERT, MACHINE GUN KELLY) makes music that is DIVERSE, IMAGINATIVE and ICONOCLASTIC as they defy staid genre prescriptions of the past. along with BECK, WEEN, MIKE PATTON and countless other artists, this new musical reality is a world that LINKIN PARK introduced the greater world community to with such a COHESIVE statement as HYBRID THEORY.
which is FUNNY, because people at the time thought LINKIN PARK were an INDUSTRY PLANT. literally every song on that album could have been marketed as a single. it was such a STRONG release that TASTEMAKERS and some IRRESPONSIBLE MUSIC CRITICS were immediately convinced that there was no possible way this band wrote their own material. the truth was the band (formerly XERO) had been struggling and turned down by literally every major label (some multiple times) repeatedly for years, some multiple times. they ended up on the ARTIST-FRIENDLY WARNER BROS label due to a previous relationship with their new A&R director at the time, otherwise theyd probably still be looking. the core of the SONGWRITING PARTNERSHIP was rapper MIKE SHINODA and vocalist CHESTER BENNINGTON, the former often providing FORM and CONTEXT to riffs and ideas provided by the rest of the group. producer DON GILMORE (GOOD CHARLOTTE, EVE6, DURAN DURAN, LIT) was an INDISPENSIBLE resource assisting SHINODA with SONG ARRANGEMENTS and navigating him through the process of manipulating the studio to your creative will. this instuction would reap substantial benefits on subsequent releases as SHINODA took on more PRODUCTION duties for the group. this is all to say that the band quite literally was a SELF-CONTAINED PRODUCTION entity in and of themselves, far more AUTONOMOUS then their ALTERNATIVE ROCK / METAL peer group and far more in keeping structurally and organizationally with HIP HOP PRODUCTION teams of the period (i.e. TIMBALAND, THE NEPTUNES and ORGANIZED NOIZE).
i first heard LINKIN PARK during my junior year of high school. my family had moved to KUWAIT and i learned of HYBRID THEORY through an AMERICAN classmate there. i just remember being taken away by how strong the SONGWRITING and PRODUCTION was, which is not necessarily something you associated with an ALTERNATIVE ROCK / METAL album. if anything, bands like PANTERA, TOOL, SLIPKNOT and SYSTEM OF A DOWN traded not on their POLISH, but on how RAW and BRUTAL the music was while still maintaining a recognizable STRUCTURE. like a caged rat or something. HYBRID THEORY was more like a PRISTINE, highly STYLIZED art piece were everything was seamlessly INTEGRATED and thoroughly CONCEIVED and thought out compositionally for MAXIMUM AURAL IMPACT. it was a departure from what i expected yet fit in with SONIC EXPECTATIONS of MODERN POP and HIP HOP PRODUCTIONS of the period.
i also remember the apparent VAGUENESS of the LYRICAL CONTENT, with BENNINGTON repeatedly opining and referencing how he wanted to remain himself and be less effected by another NAMELESS third entity. there was a lot of SECOND-PERSON PERSPECTIVE being thrown around which was a SONGWRITING quirk that was addressed on subsequent releases. there was also a STRIKING lack of CURSING, which seemed ODD at the time yet UNREMARKABLE in retrospect. in that regard they were much like 311 with such being a CONSCIOUS DECISION. the effect at the time was that BENNINGTON came off as slightly INAUTHENTIC. his vocals were so POWERFUL and strangely PROFESSIONAL that not CURSING while emoting ANGER seemed oddly RESTRAINED, especially when compared to his immediate peer group in MAX CAVALERA, JONATHAN DAVIS or even (sadly, yes) FRED DURST, he came off as a bit of a lightweight. a METAL singer for the POP audience. his untimely TRAGIC passing brought to bear in a very public way how deeply TROUBLED, TRAUMATIZED and emotionally affected he had been throughout his adult existence by lingering consequences of surviving SEXUAL ABUSE and severe BULLYING throughout his childhood. i'll speak for myself, but i hear his lyrics very differently now in light of such then i did as a seventeen year-old when HYBRID THEORY was released. i now am of the opinion that BENNINGTON was such a COURAGEOUS dude, bearing his heart in hopes of allowing others to suffer less. i just hate the fact that it took his death for people, including myself, to open up and pay attention to his message.
HYBRID THEORY still holds up. again, literally ever song could have been a single, but to me the STANDOUT tracks include "IN THE END," "WITH YOU," "A PLACE FOR MY HEAD," "ONE STEP CLOSER," "POINTS OF AUTHORITY," and my FAVORITE song, "PAPERCUT." more than any other record from this era, i hear the reverberations of the massive CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT that was HYBRID THEORY down the line in HIP HOP and ALTERNATIVE ROCK / METAL music from the past two decades. like NIRVANA before them, what came in their wake were lots of TERRIBLE copycats (i.e. EVANESCENCE, BREAKING BENJAMIN, CRAZY TOWN) as well as some very INSPIRED and CONSEQUENTIAL adherents (i.e. A DAY TO REMEMBER and BRING ME THE HORIZON), but throughout such the ORIGINALITY and CONSISTENCY of HYBRID THEORY and the LINKIN PARK SOUND remains. definitely worth checking out.
BOOK REVIEW | "BLACK TOOTH GRIN: THE HIGH LIFE, GOOD TIMES, AND TRAGIC END OF DIMEBAG DARRELL" BY ZAC CRAIN
the late PANTERA guitarist "DIMEBAG" DARRELL ABOTT was a LARGER-THAN-LIFE figure and arguably one of the most BELOVED HARD ROCK / METAL guitarists of all time, right there alongside the likes of EDDIE VAN HALEN, JIMMY PAGE, RITCHIE BLACKMORE, TONY IOMMI and RANDY RHOADS before him. his TALENT, PASSION and DRIVE for his instrument was absolutely UNDENIABLE, but what author ZAC CRAIN insists in his recent biography BLACK TOOTH GRIN: THE HIGH LIFE, GOOD TIMES, AND TRAGIC END OF DIMEBAG DARRELL (DA CAPO, 2009) is that among his PEERS, FANS and IDOLS he was just as RENOWNED for his HUMILITY, unbridled CHARM and preternatural ability to UPLIFT anyone and everyone's spirits, famous or otherwise. CRAIN even posits an argument that core of his DEVOTION for music and the guitar was not bred out of need to resolve a deep ANGER or FRUSTRATION with the world, rather it was a vehicle to express JOY, LOVE, AFFECTION and a shared CONNECTION with his extended COMMUNITY. such is particularly INTRIGUING given the absolute and uncompromisingly BRUTAL sonic nature of the METAL purveyed by PANTERA throughout their existence.
this focus on DIMEBAG's HUMILITY is the stuff of LEGEND. a childhood friend of mine who lives in MONTREAL spoke about how he ran into DIMEBAG and drummer VINNIE PAUL ABOTT while walking in a park. they were playing that night at a local club as part of their tour pushing their post-PANTERA project DAMAGEPLAN. my friend told them how during his middle school years in NIGERIA their music got him through a CRAZY time period in a foreign country. the ABOTT BROTHERS asked him to write his name down and stop by the show, he was added to their guest list. literally a guy off the street that recognized them and expressed a GENUINE CONNECTION to their music was enough for them to open their backstage for a ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME experience. testimonials to that level of GENEROSITY are throughout BLACK TOOTH GRIN. he in essence treated the METAL COMMUNITY as his extended FAMILY.
what i found INTERESTING about BLACK TOOTH GRIN was how CRAIN analyzed how music being a FAMILY BUSINESS (with his father being a former MANAGER and his only brother a BANDMATE) affected DIMEBAG's sense of FAMILY and how matters of the band, with the exception of his mother and long-time girlfriend RITA, superseded such. his father's dismissal as band manager upon moving to a major label led to an impasse that remained simmering in place for the rest of his life. likewise, his relationship with his brother was always colored by their shared involvement with one another in BUSINESS INTERESTS. all major life decisions thus inevitably got processed through the lens of PANTERA and then DAMAGEPLAN, rather than as a FAMILY. that is a terribly COMPELLING insight into DIMEBAG's relative ISOLATION at the end of his life.
another INTERESTING wrinkle was DIMEBAG's FUNCTIONAL ALCOHOLISM and how such was enabled by his position and RABID fanbase that sought to get wasted with him as a manner of CELEBRATION. a bit bloated and no doubt less robust as he hit his forties with DAMAGEPLAN, had he survived there no doubt would be a need for eventual moderation if not sobriety in his near future. such was the case with his partner-in-crime ZAKK WYLDE (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) who year later would famously veer away from the booze as a matter of self-survival.
BLACK TOOTH GRIN is a fairly PEDESTRIAN biography is REPETITIVE in places. you can tell it was a LABOR OF LOVE and that interviews collected were almost explicitly POSITIVE by FANS, PEERS, ROADIES, SPONSORS, TOUR MANAGERS, BUSINESS PARTNERS and GUITAR IDOLS alike. at times i feel that the book veers a little too hard into hagiography, especially given the more UNSAVORY elements of PANTERA's legacy. this includes singer PHILIP ANSELMO's often MISOGYNISTIC lyrics and sometimes LATENTLY RACIST themes, as well as the band's penchant for CONFEDERATE FLAG-themed merchandise. similarly CRAINE seemingly conflates the TOXIC MASCULINITY exhibited by ANSELMO with the band retaining a sense of METAL PURITY in an age of other bands (namely METALLICA) selling out to the ALTERNATIVE nation. i think such is a particularly UNFORTUNATE supposition, as METAL has nothing to do with those DESTRUCTIVE positions and to suggest otherwise is DANGEROUS and just historically INACCURATE. so i was disappointed by all of that. similarly, it was also deeply troubling that CRAIN spent so much time describing DIMEBAG's deranged murderer. the less i know, understand or think about that asshole, much like JOHN LENNON's assassin, the better. the fact that CRAIN didnt heed such only paid off in death what that SAD, PATHETIC person arguably desired most post-mortem: attention.
i would recommend listening to DIMEBAG's guitar playing, but not necessarily this book. i'd instead turn to bassist REX BROWN's OFFICIAL TRUTH: 101 PROOF: THE INSIDE STORY OF PANTERA (review inked HERE) memoir, which is likewise PROBLEMATIC and anything but definitive, but at least an INTIMATE and thoroughly AUTHENTIC perspective on the career and legacy of the much universally CELEBRATED METAL band.
almost two decades after his passing, the loss of DIMEBAG is still bitterly felt. i feel incredibly lucky to have gotten the opportunity to see him play live at OZZFEST 2000 back in the day. he was undoubtedly the highlight of a stacked METAL tour and was undeniably SPECIAL.
RIP DIMEBAG AND VINNIE PAUL.
this is something i recently came across that i thought was PRETTY COOL. ROLLING LIVE STUDIOS is a HOLLYWOOD RECORDING STUDIO and EVENT SPACE that specializes in PODCASTS, LIVESTREAM EVENTS and all things DIGITAL in a ONE-STOP-SHOP platform. they even have an APP! back in 2020 during the pandemic they did a charity fundraiser for SAVE THE CHILDREN by celebrating what would have been DAVID BOWIE's 75th birthday with an all-star pay-er-view LIVESTREAM EVENT that included the likes of LIVING COLOUR, COREY TAYLOR (SLIPKNOT), DAVE NAVARRO (JANE'S ADDICTION), TAYLOR HAWKINS (FOO FIGHTERS), YUNGBLOOD, DURAN DURAN, NOEL GALLAGHER (OASIS), MACY GRAY, GLEN MATLOCK (THE SEX PISTOLS) and BILLY CORGAN (THE SMASHING PUMPKINS) and ALICE COOPER among many others.
LEGENDARY COLUMBIA RECORDS A&R man, RUTGERS ALUMNUS (my alma mater), MTV VJ and 120 MINUTES host, as well as LONG-TIME MUSIC FAN and TIRELESS PROMOTER of all things ALTERNATIVE ROCK, MATT PINFIELD sat down with several of these artists for SHORT-FORM interviews about their ADORATION of all things BOWIE for a promotional segment called ROLLING LIVE WITH MATT PINFIELD. definitely worth checking out as well as his ONGOING PODCAST series IN A LONELY PLACE WITH MATT PINFIELD.
i know the dude had some health issues in recent years so just sending out all my LOVE and GOOD WILL from one former RUTGERS radio DJ to another.
parodies & text by nacrowe
SOUNDGARDEN was a truly MASSIVE band for me during my childhood. as ive written about repeatedly and extensively before, the first two albums i ever owned were SUPERUNKNOWN (A&M, 1994) by SOUNDGARDEN and VITALOGY (EPIC, 1994) by PEARL JAM. both were gifts from my parents back when i was ten years old. interestingly, the first records i ever bought with allowance money were all by LIVING COLOUR, specifically their VIVID (EPIC, 1988) and BISCUITS (EPIC, 1990) albums as well as their TIME'S UP (EPIC, 1991) EP, all of which i acquired shortly after obtaining the aforementioned SOUNDGARDEN and PEARL JAM records. all told, it was a great starting haul to a lifelong PASSION.
looking back, SOUNDGARDEN is such a UNIQUE band. obviously CHRIS CORNELL is a songwriter and frontman of the first order, gifted the preternatural CHARISMA, LOOKS and VOICE of an UNDENIABLE ROCK GOD. ROCK AND ROLL very much feels like may have been invented in order to describe and give context to his PRESENCE and ENERGY. dude was an adonis and to me as a child, CORNELL very much was ROCK AND ROLL. end stop. all that being said, his artistic work was THOUGHTFUL, MELODIC and subtly POETIC, often displaying an underlying DARK VULNERABILITY in the midst of POWERFUL anthemic peons a life well lived. his untimely passing a half decade ago is still SHOCKING and TRAGIC and a deeply felt LOSS to the world.
with all due respect to CORNELL, what drew me in as a kid was guitarist KIM THAYIL. the OFF-KILTER RHYTHMS and ODD, EXOTIC-sounding SONIC TEXTURES provided an EXPANDED PALETTE of what a guitarist could produce with the instrument. in other words, dude was a GUITAR WIZARD. i still hold him in high regard and only much later in my musical journey learning about EXPERIMENTAL POST PUNK bands could i see his work in context. for me THAYIL's EXPANSIVE SOUND that was SLUDGY yet kinetically and rhythmically ANGULAR and UNPREDICTABLE like an INDIAN-AMERICAN half TONY IOMMI (BLACK SABBATH), half ANDY GILL (GANG OF FOUR) hybrid. yet his guitar playing never felt forced or strained in the mix, instead providing a push and pull counterpoint with CORNELL and his ETHEREAL PRESENCE and OTHER-WORDLY VOICE. arguably part of what made their songs so SPECIAL was this INTRIGUING dynamic were CORNELL anchored these EVOCATIVE AURAL LANDSCAPES with a MELODIC SENSIBILITY that was equal parts BRAVADO of MELANCHOLY. its a sound that whose ALCHEMY has not been replicated since.
i was in junior high when SOUNDGARDEN broke up in 1997, arguably at the peak of their powers post DOWN ON THE UPSIDE (A&M, 1996). despite being bummed about it, i respected them immensely for calling it a day before they felt they were phoning it in and not in control of their own narrative. its hard not to since that is the ULTIMATE PUNK ROCK move. they refused to become a NOSTALGIA act, they refused to become AEROSMITH. i similarly respected their decision to return two decades later and KING ANIMAL (UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC, 2012) basically started artistically where they left off, which is a PHENOMENAL achievement. a minor miracle in fact.
that ALCHEMY stayed intact. for me there is a certain MAGIC to SOUNDGARDEN that is as much a part of my wildly IMAGINATIVE childhood projections as it is about the quality of their catalogue. i am obviously biased given my formative experiences, but i find myself still intrigued by their records. the last demoed songs recorded before CORNELL untimely passing are rumored to be in the works as the final artistic statement from the LEGENDARY ALTERNATIVE ROCK band. i have no apprehension that if released, such will be great. and i look forward to hearing them eventually.
embedded below is an early DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that includes a playlist celebrating the ICONIC SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK band SOUNDGARDEN. enjoy!
there comes a point at times where PARODY is so cutting and on the nose that it becomes in effect INDISTINGUISHABLE at times from the subject of which it is serving up. such feels that way in retrospect when considering SPINAL TAP's actual debut (as opposed to FICTIONAL discography from the film) in SPINAL TAP (POLYDOR, 1984), the soundtrack to the LEGENDARY ROB REINER-directed MOCKUMENTARY film THIS IS SPINAL TAP (EMBASSY, 1984).
it is not a coincidence that ROCK AND ROLL royalty from SLASH (GUNS N' ROSES) and JOE PERRY (AEROSMITH) to STING (THE POLICE), ROB HALFORD (JUDAS PRIEST), EDDIE VAN HALEN (VAN HALEN) and OZZY OSBOURNE (BLACK SABBATH) have admitted to having a difficult time watching this film starring the generationally gifted IMPROVISATIONAL comedy team of CHRISTOPHER GUEST (lead guitarist NIGEL TUFNEL), MICHAEL MCKEAN (singer and rhythm guitarist DAVID ST. HUBBINS) and HARRY SHEARER (bassist DEREK SMALLS). to them it was an accurate depiction of their actual lives. much of the actual film was based on the reported real-life experiences of bands ranging from YES, LED ZEPPELIN, DEF LEPPARD, BLACK SABBATH, URIAH HEEP, STATUS QUO, THE ROLLING STONES, VAN HALEN, THE BAND and FRANK ZAPPA among many others. the cumulative effect was that even a much later musician like KURT COBAIN (NIRVANA) was rumored to have been vocally hyper-aware of that thin line separating PARODY and REAL-LIFE so expertly depicted in the film. like others, that dynamic was a real-world trap and occupational hazard.
the songs themselves absolutely hold up decades later. besides the WELL-KNOWN tracks that PARODY the inane lyricism ("TONIGHT I'M GONNA ROCK YOU TONIGHT"), macho posturing / rampant mysogyny ("SEX FARM" and "BIG BOTTOM") and outlandish iconography ("STONEHENGE" and "ROCK N ROLL CREATURE") of 1970s METAL (BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, DIO) and PROGRESSIVE ROCK (RUSH, KING CRIMSON, GENTLE GIANT), there are also those less CELEBRATED tracks that PARODY earlier phases of 1960s ROCK AND ROLL history such as LAUREL CANYON-inspired FOLK ROCK ("LISTEN TO THE FLOWER PEOPLE") and the BRITISH INVASION ("GIMME SOME MONEY"). the fact that they depict the inherent RIDICULOUSNESS of each stage so convincingly is really quite a creative achievement. its also the reason that generations of musicians love this FICTIONAL band, as evidenced by the LEGENDARY LIVE EARTH performance at WEMBLEY STADIUM in 2007 when over 18 musicians (from bands ranging from the BEASTIE BOYS, METALLICA, FOO FIGHTERS, BLOC PARTY, MADONNA's backing band and so on) came on stage to slap bass with DEREK SMALLS on, of course, a very MEMORABLE and INSPIRED self-effacing CHEEKY rendition of "BIG BOTTOM."
the GUEST, MCKEAN and SHEARER comedic triumvirate have gone on to make other loosely IMPROVISATIONAL films, some even with a musical flourish like the FOLK send-up A MIGHTY WIND (WARNER BROS, 2003), but in my humble opinion the only other MOCKUMENTARY film that comes close to SPINAL TAP in terms of the quality of the music and PARODY is the much earlier NEIL INNES (BONZO DOG DOOH-DAH BAND) and ERIC IDLE (MONTY PYTHON) led THE RUTLES: ALL YOU NEED IS CASH (NBC, 1978) TELEVISED (and GEORGE HARRISON approved) send-up of THE BEATLES cultural phenomenon. now if only i could find a RUTLES cassette tape...
regardless, SPINAL TAP is a CLASSIC album with music culled from a CLASSIC comedy. it all holds up decades down the line and is essentially required viewing and listening in my opinion. definitely worth checking out for the uninitiated. should also mention there is a rumored sequel in the works for 2024 for the 40th anniversary of the original film. why not? the dreaded cash-in sequel of an established intellectual property seems like as good an opportunity for RIDICULE and PARODY as any other these days.
parody by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO celebrating THRASH METAL royalty SLAYER!
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by the time of PANTERA's eight studio album THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL (ELEKTRA, 1996), the band was probably in desperate need of an extended hiatus. singer PHIL ANSELMO had been dealing for years with back problems that led him down a SELF-MEDICATED SPIRAL of PAINKILLERS and ALCOHOL that would eventually culminate in a HEROIN OVERDOSE on tour not long after the release of this album. in retrospect this album is the first PANTERA effort conceived of by a splintered collective, with ANSELMO recording his VOCALS alone with producer TERRY DATE at TRENT REZNOR's NEW ORLEANS studio and the band at the ABBOTT BROTHER's home studio in TEXAS. not surprisingly given the INTERNAL CHAOS, this would be the final DATE-produced PANTERA record, having worked on every release since their COWBOYS FROM HELL (ATCO, 1990) major label debut.
all that being said, THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL was the record i first became aware of the band through, given that it came out at the end of my sixth grade school year in NIGERIA. i know for certain that by seventh grade i had a taped copy of the record. being surrounded by oil brats from the AMERICAN SOUTH, most of whom were at least LATENTLY RACIST towards our WEST AFRICAN hosts, i've always had a hard time stomaching SOUTHERN PRIDE which this album has a lot of. the concept for the record was that in the midst of ALTERNATIVE ROCK largely replacing TRADITIONAL METAL, with longstanding legacy bands like METALLICA, ANTHRAX and SLAYER all making concessions to the new format, PANTERA was standing STRONG (the unsubtle insinuation being much like their confederate forefathers of yore) and flying the freak flag of UNDILUTED, UNADULTERATED METAL for the hardcore fans.
THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL is an UNCOMPROMISING album about STUBBORNNESS, INTRANSIGENCE and PERSEVERANCE in the face of environmental headwinds like popular opinion and cultural trends. despite the process that birth it, the record is sonically and lyrically one of the most FOCUSED and DIRECT efforts in their catalogue. themes include SOCIAL DEFIANCE and the VULNERABILITY and SHAME involved with ADDICTION. AGGRESSIVE tracks like "SUICIDE NOTE, PT. 2," "WAR NERVE," "THE UNDERGROUND IN AMERICA" "THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL" and "DRAG THE WATERS" are made more impactful by their STRIPPED, BACK-TO-BASICS PRODUCTION, especially in contrast to the more THICK and LUSH, MULTI-LAYERED guitar overdubs found on their CELEBRATED previous effort, FAR BEYOND DRIVEN (ELEKTRA, 1994). more MELLOW affairs like "SUICIDE NOTE, PT. 1" and "FLOODS" is where this album really separates itself from the pack, especially the latter and its ICONIC GUITAR SOLOS and much REVERED OUTRO. even in the midst of a BRUTAL RECORDING, the exceptionally AFFECTING "FLOODS" outro is arguably the most beautifully MELODIC COMPOSITION DIMEBAG DARRELL ever wrote.
looking back at THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL, there are some REGRESSIVE POLITICAL and SOCIAL ASPECTS of the lyrics i still find deep issue with, but musically this record is an absolute BEAST. its the album in my opinion that most effectively showcases the COMPLICATED PANTERA legacy bar none. that being said it is worthy of investigation and most definitely worth checking out.
parodies by nacrowe
i wasnt on the bandwagon with the MERCURIAL SHEFFIELD band BRING ME THE HORIZON from the very beginning, but close enough. i first learned about them after their single "CHELSEA SMILE" off of their second album SUICIDE SEASON (VISIBLE NOISE, 2008) came out back in the late 2000s. and really what separated the band from the other BRUTAL and ULTRA-HEAVY METALCORE / DEATHCORE bands emerging to prominence at the time like ALL SHALL PERISH, SUICIDE SILENCE, DESPISED ICON, WHITECHAPEL, CARNIFEX and JOB FOR A COWBOY was ironically their sense of MELODY. i remember listening to that album and thinking that in spite of its beyond AGGRESSIVE sonic annihilation and DEVASTATING lyrical content were actual MEMORABLE, WELL-COMPOSED songs. like the band could actual construct riffs together and their vocalist, OLI SYKES, on occasion, could SING. my initial reaction was that this singer had a wider TECHNICAL and EMOTIONAL range then GIFTED scene peers in MITCH LUCKER (rest in peace), PHIL BOZEMAN or HERNAN HERMIDA.
their follow-up THERE IS A HELL BELIEVE ME I'VE SEEN IT. THERE IS A HEAVEN LET'S KEEP IT A SECRET. (VISIBLE NOISE, 2010) was a more WELL-PRODUCED and REFINED version of SUICIDE SILENCE but the fourth album SEMPITERNAL (EPITAPH, 2013) was the creative and commercial breakthrough. shedding both a NASTY addiction to KETAMINE and a beloved guitarist in JONA WEINHOFEN (BLEEDING THROUGH, I KILLED THE PROM QUEEN), SEMPITERNAL marks the addition of the TALENTED keyboardist and electronic producer JORDAN FISH to the band as an INTEGRAL SONGWRITING PARTNER and as the fork in their career when things got WEIRD. but in a good way. somehow the band maintained their edge while incorporating a wide VARIETY of elements that derived from everything from TRIP HOP, AMBIENT, POST METAL, ELECTRO and even INDIE POP to create an ever shifting and evolving stew of UNEXPECTED sonic juxtapositions that maintains a core of exceptionally STRONG SONGWRITING.
and that focus on MELODY and the COMPOSITION of the song itself, rather than the sonic trappings of its relative heaviness or otherwise aural dressing up, is what continues to separate BRING ME THE HORIZON from the pack. it really feels like after the second lease on life post-ADDICTION, SYKES as the de facto leader of the band has really continued to put out VARIED releases that have a sense of DANGER and RISK to them. as if he is attempting to alienate his own audience in the process. contrarily, he has been an innovator in an otherwise stagnant METALCORE scene navel-gazing at and celebrating its own collective sonic BRUTALITY, with no real ARTISTIC RISK involved. you get the feeling that BRING ME THE HORIZON several eclectic albums post-SEMPITERNAL are on their own kick at this point. they have long transcended the scene, which continues to look to them for ideas and concepts (and even band names) from throughout their career.
i just love the fact that in the great tradition of other cultural innovators in MODERN ROCK AND ROLL like MIKE PATTON, WAYNE COYNE, DEVIN TOWNSEND, PERRY FARRELL or GIBBY HAYNES, OLI SYKES is likewise unafraid to risk everything in search of a new sound, a new idea, a new expression. which is why i am still very much on the ride.
embedded below is a RECENT DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that includes a BRING ME THE HORIZON playlist from throughout their ECLECTIC catalogue. enjoy!
the HAMBURG-based INDUSTRIAL METAL band KMFDM was on a bit of a role in the mid-90s with a string of ICONIC releases in ANGST (WAX TRAX!, 1993), NIHIL (WAX TRAX!, 1995) and SYMBOLS (WAX TRAX!, 1997) that included arguably their most CELEBRATED tracks to date. those albums specifically serve as the centerpiece of their touring operation that has continued seemingly unabated now for close to four decades now. nudged right between NIHIL and SYMBOLS was XTORT (WAX TRAX!, 1996), which was relatively TOP-HEAVY with its "SON OF A GUN," "POWER" and "WRATH" tracks inter-midst more relatively PEDESTRIAN material.
its difficult pinpointing what makes for a strong KMFDM record since much like MOTORHEAD, AC/DC, THE RAMONES and SLAYER, they all tend to bleed into each other. such is the risk one takes when mixing unadulterated UPTEMPO JUNGLE DANCE BEATS with AGGRESSIVE OVERDRIVEN GUITARS and deep PUMMELING BASS DRUMS. its odd calling KMFDM a singles band, but it is true to an extent that their STANDOUT tracks are generally those they release individually, given that they usually depart in terms of MELODY and TEMPO from the UNRELENTING SAMPLE-HEAVY INDUSTRIAL assault that makes up the rest of their work.
in later years a heavy dose of PARODY and HUMOR was added to the mix, both lyrically and sonicly, but XTORT is firmly in this previous era of GENRE-DEFINING releases that went on to influence countless INDUSTRIAL-adjacent acts from ATARI TEENAGE RIOT, MARILYN MANSON and THE PRODIGY to RAMMSTEIN and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE. if you are interested in the development of INDUSTRIAL MUSIC then XTORT is well worth checking out, as are similar releases by peers like SKINNY PUPPY, MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT, FRONT 242 and MINISTRY as well as more FORMATIVE bands like THROBBING GRISTLE and EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN. my personal favorite KMFDM releases to date are NIHIL and SYMBOLS, so my advice would be to start there and then branch out accordingly.
originally conceived in the late 1950s as part of a new series of four decidedly MODERNIST guitar models by GIBSON pushed by their LEGENDARY president TED MCCARTY (including the EXPLORER, FUTURA and MODERNE) to compete with the FUTURISTIC FENDER STRATOCASTER, the FLYING V was shelved shortly after production began due to low sales. it wasnt until the PROMINENT 1950s BLUES guitarist ALBERT KING and later 1960s ROCK AND ROLL guitar players like DAVE DAVIES (THE KINKS), ANDY POWELL (WISHBONE ASH) and JIMI HENDRIX began using them that their popularity began in earnest. later in the 1970s and 1980s the model found a home and became identifiable with the NWOBHM and THRASH METAL scenes in bands like JUDAS PRIEST, MERCYFUL FATE, DIAMOND HEAD, SCORPIONS, ACCEPT and KING DIAMOND as well as SLAYER, METALLICA and MEGADETH.
the IN-ARTFULLY named, conceived and executed recent FLYING V (TEN NINETY ONE, 2020) documentary is focused on the SYNERGISTIC relationship between those music scenes and that particular GUITAR MODEL. there is something to be said about the GIBSON models LACK OF CURVES and SPACE-AGE AESTHETICS which stood out on stage and literally pointed the way forward. their popularity resulted in a myriad of later brands, most notably JACKSON, ESP, B.C RICH, DEAN, SHECTER, KRAMER, IBANEZ and so on taking their stab at creating POINTIER, more ANGULAR REVISIONS with DIFFERENT ACTIVE PICKUP CONFIGURATIONS that went well beyond the original SETH LOVER humbucking pickups associated with the original. the film is largely an INCOHERENT series of interview clips with the likes of K.K. DOWNING (JUDAS PRIEST), MICHAEL SHENKER (UFO / SCORPIONS), MICHAEL DENNER & HANK SHERMANN (MERCYFUL FATE), BRIAN TATLER (DIAMOND HEAD), WOLF HOFFMAN (ACCEPT), ANDY LAROCQUE (KING DIAMOND), MICHAEL AMOTT (ARCH ENEMY), DAVE MUSTAINE (MEGADETH), JAMES HETFIELD (METALLICA) and KERRY KING (SLAYER) among others about various aspects of the guitars appeal. most of these interviews are pretty TEDIOUS and REPETITIVE and act almost as advertisements for the band members and their particular MODELS, which does the FLYING V ultimately a disservice in my opinion. the film would have been served better by conducting interviews with the manufacturers themselves and those that are continuing to INNOVATE on the original design. there is also LAZY EDITING and the LACK OF LICENSED MUSIC by said artists, which shows both a LACK OF BUDGET and buy-in from the artists themselves. in fact, the same GENERIC background music is repetitively utilized over and over again throughout to the point that it grates as the film rambles on.
in totality, this film was difficult to watch even with a passion for the subject that i have as a fan of guitars and their development in general. this film feels RUSHED and ILL-CONCEIVED and would have been executed in a more talented director's hands with a bigger budget. NOTHING WAS LEARNED here that a thirty second perusal through the first two paragraphs of a WIKIPEDIA entry couldnt have taught me, which funny enough feels like the extent of the preproduction utilized for this documentary. id given this film a hard pass unless one is exceedingly interested in the subject of FLYING Vs to the extent that they could stomach one EVISCERATING the topic.
dont say you werent forewarned.
i tend to think of the NINE INCH NAILS' BROKEN (INTERSCOPE, 1992) EP as a bit of palette cleanser from the INTIMATE, SELF-FLAGELLATING SYNTH POP-indebted PRETTY HATE MACHINE (TVT, 1989) to the eventual EPIC SELF-DESTRUCTIVE, PHANTASMAGORIC INDUSTRIAL nightmare that was THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL (INTERSCOPE, 1994); two absolutely colossal LANDMARK releases in the history of ROCK AND ROLL, sub-genres be damned.
whereas THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL was a DELICATE web of INSECURITY and RESENTMENT primarily drawn from the vernacular of 1980s synth music subverted not to be CELEBRATORY, but deeply FLAWED and TORN in sentiment. there are some SAMPLED and INDUSTRIAL elements throughout, but such are more decorative in nature than what was to come on future releases. with debauched and crushingly aggressive tracks like "HAPPINESS IN SLAVERY," "GAVE UP," "LAST," "HELP ME I AM IN HELL," "PINION" and especially "WISH" BROKEN provides a more metallic edge that seeks to up the ante on sonic SELF-EVISCERATION and aurally emoting the remnants of a BROKEN PSYHE. BROKEN in essence reads like a PRIMAL SCREAM lashing out not only at the MUSIC INDUSTRY (especially exploitive former label TVT), but the world at large. it is the most AGGRESSIVE moment in otherwise famously unrelentingly BLEAK discography.
by the time THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL came out, its more SAMPLE HEAVY and INDUSTRIAL-based experiments with DISSONANCE and JAGGED SONIC JUXTAPOSITIONS didnt come off as such a departure, but rather as a refinement of an earlier more blunt ARTISTIC expression encountered on BROKEN. this EP was something that completely blew me away as a teenager when i first got into NINE INCH NAILS in the late 1990s and seemingly expressed my FRUSTRATION, fears and insecurity like nothing i heard before. it was MAINLINED AGGRESSION and SELF-HATRED and easily one of the highlights of a CELEBRATED catalogue that continues to evolve, develop and mature to this day at TRENT REZNOR makes his way through life. BROKEN is one of my all-time FAVORITE records and well worth checking out.
when i first came across the nine-peace IOWAN monolith that is SLIPKNOT at OZZFEST 99, their unrelentingly AGGRESSIVE aural ASSAULT and demented mask-and-coveralls PRESENTATION seemed to be NEXT LEVEL everything in terms of METAL. their RICK ROBINSON-produced debut SLIPKNOT (ROADRUNNER, 1999) seemed to likewise be an exercise in controlled VIOLENCE and ever-so reigned in sonic CHAOS. that whole period of the band was lightning in a bottle and very much established the bar for TONE, SHOWMANSHIP and outright ANTAGONISM in METAL for at least the next decade.
by the time they re-upped with ROBINSON again for their follow-up IOWA (ROADRUNNER, 1999), the band had EVOLVED significantly as SONGWRITERS yet were able to somehow able to balance and maintain the AGGRESSION of their debut. this progression can be heard throughout IOWA on tracks like "THE HERETIC ANTHEM," "LEFT BEHIND," "PEOPLE = SHIT," "NEW ABORTION," "MY PLAGUE" and "DISASTERPIECE."
my recollection of the record was that i thought there was no way possible to follow-up such an INTENSE debut record, that it was pointless trying to outdo it on its own terms. when i heard IOWA i realized that the band actually had songs with discernible MEMORABLE HOOKS throughout. at this point STONE SOUR was not a viable entity and singer COREY TAYLOR hadnt yet publicly exercise his CLEAN SINGING talents, much less bring them into the fold with SLIPKNOT. for me, and i could be alone here, IOWA is the last EXTREME SLIPKNOT album before TAYLOR STREAMLINED (and id argue DILUTED) it with more MAINSTREAM post-GRUNGE elements.
the other thing that comes to mind when i listen to IOWA is the fact that it was released shortly before 9/11 and how that album was a soundtrack to that period, especially feelings of LOSS, ISOLATION, DESPAIR and CONFUSION. SLIPKNOT, much like SLAYER, was always superb at translating ANGER and BELLIGERENCE into WELL-COMPOSED songs. it is definitely music that is definitely operating at the extremes of EMOTION, TECHNICAL MUSICIANSHIP and IMAGINATION and is not for the faint of heart. my sense is that such nuance gets lost on a listening public that latches on to the SHOWMANSHIP of their PRESENTATION. taken as a whole, the band and its IMAGE showcase an in-group gang mentality that seemed like an apt metaphor for the country after 9/11 and all the MINDLESS JINGOISM and EMPTY FLAG-WAVING of the period. in many ways, we havent moved forward from such as a country, even if the band and its sound very much has.
IOWA is a MODERN METAL classic and is most definitely worth revisiting.
as with anything METALLICA-related, you have to go into it with MEASURED expectations and a REALISTIC perspective. the knee-jerk (and patently unfair) response is to compare every new release with what that TRANSCENDENT string of releases they created back in the 1980s as 20-somethings. the band is pushing sixty now so it is just not reasonable to expect them to be recreating something with the RELENTLESS FIRE and ENERGY of RIDE THE LIGHTNING (MEGAFORCE, 1984) or MASTER OF PUPPETS (ELEKTRA, 1986) at this point. personally, i am just grateful that they are still around as a FUNCTIONING, creatively VIABLE entity unlike so many of their former prominent peers in SLAYER, PANTERA, DEATH, WHITE ZOMBIE, SOUNDGARDEN, BLACK SABBATH and so on. im not being facetious, i honestly love the fact that there are still METALLICA albums to look forward to every few years.
but how good is the new album 72 SEASONS (BLACKENED, 2023) ? all things considered its PRETTY GOOD. with METALLICA there seems to be three big eras in their career. first there were the CLIFF BURTON years plus ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (ELEKTRA, 1988) that all happened in the 1980s. then you have the 1990s albums plus ST. ANGER (ELEKTRA, 2003) that saw them both STREAMLINE and EXPERIMENT with the formula with varying results. id argue that everything from DEATH MAGNETIC (WARNER BROS, 2008) on is a revisit to the spirit of the early 1980s material and era but with a sense of production and song construction prowess that they gained in the second phase of their career.
like DEATH MAGNETIC and HARDWIRED TO SELF DESTRUCT (BLACKENED, 2016), 72 SEASONS basic lives in MID-TEMPO territory with songs that dont take off or soar technically like their early material. part of that is due to drummer LARS ULRICH and his RENOWNED hesitancy (or inability) to utilize double kicks to real push these songs forward. such is not new and is a feature of the later METALLICA sound. another feature are the KIRK HAMMETT IMPROVISATIONAL guitar solos which often seem rather OFF-THE-CUFF and sadly not as orchestrated or thought through as his REVERED earlier work with the band. i feel strongly that JAMES HETFIELD and his rhythm guitar playing, as well as bassist ROBERT TRUJILLO's SLIPPERY and SLINKY counterpoint note choices, is where the band excels sonically. there is definitely something special that has been established between those two players over the past decade or so that finds them either LOCKED IN or revolving around one another almost arguably in a JAZZ kinda way. STANDOUT tracks include "SCREAMING SUICIDE," "IF DARKNESS HAD A SON," "72 SEASONS," "SHADOWS FOLLOW" and the MOTORHEAD-inflected "LUX ÆTERNA." overall i think this is the sound of a band playing to their strengths and incorporating elements that they enjoy from throughout their career.
would i recommend this record? maybe. id still say youre better off getting familiar with RIDE THE LIGHTNING, MASTER OF PUPPETS and ....AND JUSTICE FOR ALL before exploring the rest of their catalogue. better to start with what made them SPECIAL first before becoming acquainted with their subsequent IDIOSYNCRATIC choices that led them to their current position as elder statesmen.
HOLY WOOD (IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY OF DEATH) (INTERSCOPE, 2000) was a bit of retread record. having expanded his INDUSTRIAL-tinged GOTH METAL roots at the zenith of his FAME and CULTURAL CACHE with a left turn to that of CLASSIC 70s GLAM ROCK a la DAVID BOWIE in MECHANICAL ANIMALS (INTERSCOPE, 1998), this follow-up saw MARILYN MANSON return back to the formula that seemingly worked on ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR (INTERSCOPE, 1996) almost four years earlier. only thing was that the cultural moment HOLY WOOD was released within had transformed the AMERICAN public's view of MANSON. this is since it was released a year after the COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL MASSACRE in COLORADO that saw twelve students and one teacher murdered at the hands of two heavily armed classmates. it was (falsely) reported in the press at the time that said murderers were fans of MANSON, an INNACURACY that forever transformed his career.
its hard to put COLUMBINE into perspective with our current AWFUL state of affairs where school shootings happen on such a regular basis that it is easy to be OVERWHELMED and HOPELESS about the prospect of change. the likes of SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY, VIRGINIA TECH, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLASS, UC SANTA BARBARA, SANTA FE, and ROBB ELEMENTARY are just the most prominent of an enduring facet of AMERICAN LIFE: our inability to confront the corrosive widespread availability of high-capacity weapons of war in our society. in 1999, during the CLINTON administration, COLUMBINE was that initial siren warning us all of this impending danger. instead of change or legislation, a new IMPOTENT NATIONAL RITUAL was instituted in which HOLLOW PRAYERS were made and nothing happened. gone on ever since. back then instead of change we as a country did the easy thing going after cultural targets: i.e. violent movies, video games and, of course, MARILYN MANSON.
for me its hard to read HOLY WOOD disentangled from that cultural moment, as MANSON himself was consumed by it. his global supporting effort was the "guns, god and government" tour for starters. he even made a MEMORABLE and THOUGHTFUL cameo in MICHAEL MOORE's BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (UNITED ARTISTS, 2002) film, itself an examination of AMERICA's fascination with guns, before a DENVER gig. sonically the record is not that far removed from MECHANICAL ANIMALS in that the songs are pretty streamlined and traditionally structured, unlike previous efforts which were more EXPERIMENTAL INDUSTRIAL art pieces. lyrically MANSON is trading on his requisite themes of ALIENATION and PSYCHIC / SOCIAL ISOLATION on memorable tracks like "CRUCI-FICTION IN SPACE," "THE FIGHT SONG," "A PLACE IN THE DIRT," "THE NOBODIES," "BURNING FLAG" and "DISPOSABLE TEENS." my personal favorite track is the plodding "CRUCI-FICTION IN SPACE" which has a 40,000 foot elevated perspective on the human race and its follies similar to that of the famous ORSON WELLES / HARRY LIME ferris wheel scene in THE THIRD MAN (BRITISH LION, 1949) were the true value of mankind is discussed and entertained from a distance. the implication for MANSON seems to be that if these students dont matter in AMERICAN LIFE, than who does?
who does indeed. HOLY WOOD is still as RELEVANT now as it was more than two decades ago.
i always thought of OZZY OSBOURNE's OZZMOSIS (EPIC, 1995) album, in spite of its being SUBPAR in his discography, a major TRANSITIONAL record in his career. his previous recordings all feel guitar-dominated with the VIRTUOSO contributions from the CELEBRATED likes of ZAKK WYLDE, JAKE E. LEE and most famously the late RANDY RHOADS. arguably such was also the case with BLACK SABBATH and TONY IOMMI. regardless of the revolving door of guitarists there was a sense of AESTHETIC CONTINUITY at play that seemingly ended with OZZMOSIS and has carried on to some extent PERPLEXING ever since. its as if OSBOURNE made a conscious decision to downplay that aspect of his sound and attempt to position himself as more of a singer-songwriter, with varying results.
one major variable on OZZMOSIS is the new producer MICHAEL BEINHORN, at this point no doubt RENOWNED for his production of SOUNDGARDEN's EXPANSIVE SUPERUNKNOWN (A&M, 1994) album the previous year. he would go on to produce other NOTEWORTHY albums such as SOCIAL DISTORTION's WHITE HEAT, WHITE LIGHT, WHITE TRASH (EPIC, 1996), MARILYN MANSON's MECHANICAL ANIMALS (INTERSCOPE, 1998), HOLE's CELEBRITY SKIN (DGC, 1998) and KORN's UNTOUCHABLES (EPIC, 2002) in the coming years. but in comparison to all of those records, OZZMOSIS sounds STILTED and HALF-COOKED, as if he was making a record with a proverbial arm tied behind his back. WYLDE's contributions, for instance are SCALED WAY BACK and often in their place are what appear to be synthesized guitars, which is absolutely INEXPLICABLE. on the previous record, NO MORE TEARS (), WYLDE was absolutely let loose and it showcased his full range as a guitarist from INTROSPECTIVE ACOUSTIC LAYERINGS and FEEDBACK-LADEN DOLPHIN SQUEELS to FULL-BORE, DISTORTED, PINCH-HARMONIC DESTRUCTION. on OZZMOSIS there is so much SYNTHESIZED midi-controlled ORCHESTRATED elements and FAKE guitars that it just comes off sounding BLAND. such can be heard on tracks like "PERRY MASON," "SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE" and "I JUST WANT YOU." thankfully there are a few PROPULSIVE tracks that buck this approach including the likes of "WHOLE WORLD'S FALLIN' DOWN," "TOMORROW" and "THUNDER UNDERGROUND" which somewhat salvage a COMPROMISED, MEDIOCRE album. in short, large swaths of this album dont sound like an OSBOURNE record.
its IRONIC that such a release, which i am assuming was an ARTISTIC CONCESSION to the growing influence of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement of the period, was what led to a period that cemented his legacy as a cultural icon years after his BLACK SABBATH and GLAM METAL years. it was during this period that OSBOURNE was famously rejected from inclusion on the traveling national LOLLAPALOOZA festival, thus initiating his own massively INFLUENTIAL rival OZZFEST tour that effectively resurrected the EXTREME METAL scene as a cultural movement in the UNITED STATES over the coming decade. OZZMOSIS is a largely FORGETABLE record with a handful of decent tracks. a better introduction to his STELLAR career would be any of the first six BLACK SABBATH records or BLIZZARD OF OZ (JET, 1980), DIARY OF A MADMAN (JET, 1981) or NO MORE TEARS from his solo career.