Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dispatches from Powerviolence: Top Ten Albums of 2009

It's January, and you know what that means: snow. But it also means we get to post our top ten albums from the year that was 2009. It's pretty much recommended you check these fuckers out, because if we like them, they have to be good. The following are all presented in no particular order.

The Hellion:
01. Goatwhore - Carving Out the Eyes of God
02. Old Canes - Feral Harmonic
03. Behemoth - Evangelion
04. Dying Fetus - Descend into Depravity
05. The Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate
06. Tim Hecker - Imaginary Country
07. Gaza - He is Never Coming Back
08. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
09. Rumpelstiltskin Grinder - Living for Death, Destroying the Rest
10. Vader - Necropolis

Old Iron Blood:
01. Born of Osiris - A Higher Place
02. Burnt by the Sun - Heart of Darkness
03. Goatwhore - Carving out the Eyes of God
04. Katatonia - Night is the New Day
05. Suicide Silence - No Time to Bleed
06. Mastodon - Crack the Skye
07. November's Doom - Into the Night's Requiem Infernal
08. Secrets of the Moon - Privilegivm
09. Swallow the Sun - New Moon
10. Vader - Necropolis

Spleen Latifa:
01. Converge - Axe to Fall
02. Magrudergrind - Magrudergrind
03. Graf Orlock - Destination Time Today
04. Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse
05. Coalesce - Ox
06. Gaza - He is Never Coming Back
07. The_Network - Bishop Kent Manning
08. Ben Weasel - The Brain That Wouldn't Die
09. The Chariot - Wars and Rumors of Wars
10. Napalm Death - Time Waits for No Slave
.... Honorable Mention:
11. Brutal Truth - Evolution Through Revolution
12. Defeatist - Sharp Blade Sinks Deep Into Dull Minds
13. Rise & Fall - Our Circle is Vicious
14. Doomriders - Darkness Comes Alive
15. Dear Landlord - Dream Homes

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Featured Book: Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground

Authored by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind

I believe I first heard about this number through Amazon.com when I was looking into purchasing a book of photographs called True Norwegian Black Metal. This read came up under one of those “you might also be interested in” sections, if I remember correctly. At any rate, I figured it might be interesting so I picked it up. Knowing that the history of Black Metal is pretty fucked up, I assumed it would score fairly high on the gnarliness scale. Instead, it scored extremely high on the “meh” scale.

This book is written in a way that seems to meld crime drama and investigative journalism. It’s also full of interviews with many of the prominent people within the Black Metal scene, as well as people completely outside of it. The problem is, sometimes things get too far outside of what I expected to be reading about. Some cases it seems warranted, and other times it just seems extraneous. In fact, this bad boy is almost 400 pages long, and I have a feeling I would have gotten the same amount of information even if it was cut down to 200. At times this read just wanders.

Moynihan and Soderlind start out with a basic history of the rise of Satanic metal in general, citing bands like Black Sabbath and Venom. Then they move into how Black Metal itself actually started, still keeping a close tie to the Satanic aspects. All of this is pretty interesting, even if you’ve heard it before. Obviously the book takes on the infamous church burnings and murders involved with Black Metal, thus giving it the crime drama feel, but after awhile things changed, and it began to get a bit boring.

A massive amount of this book is spent talking about Varg Vikernes from Burzum. It’s true the guy is batshit insane and had a lot to do with where Black Metal began to progress, and it’s also true the guy murdered Oystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous from Mayhem), who was probably the most important person in the scene, but I just didn’t want to read that much about him. The whole section just talks about how Varg moved from Satanism to Odinism and is now a Neo-Nazi. Basically, you spend about a quarter of the book reading about Vikernes’ view on Nordic legends and getting a taste of his hate speech.

Using Varg as a bridge, the book then takes a turn from covering the “bloody rise of the Satanic metal underground” to covering nothing but the right-wing politics of many metal bands. If you want to read about that, then you’ll get plenty of information, but that isn’t what I was looking for when I got this. The writers still include information about various crimes and murders committed by the people involved, but most of them are politically based. I don’t know, I just lost interest.

The writing isn’t bad, and the amount of information contained in these pages is pretty impressive, but I lost a lot of respect for the authors because they tend to get very preachy or have a heavy slant towards one person or another. The way Euronymous was described used loaded words that gave me the idea that the writers didn’t respect him. On the same token, when they talked about his murderer (Varg), they seemed to praise him. I later read somewhere that one of the authors is actually a huge supporter of Varg, and whether or not that’s true, I could easily see why someone would think that.

In all honesty, I would recommend the first half of this book as an interesting history on the development and background of Black Metal, but I’d leave all the rest behind. It’s too drawn out and not really worth the time invested.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Heavy Rotation: January 8, 2010

The first Heavy Rotation of 2010 has arrived, and I know you can all breathe a sigh of relief now. So here comes what we've been rocking to within the last week.

The Hellion (has gone folk):
01. Wye Oak - The Knot
02. Old Canes - Feral Harmonic
03. Architect - Ghost of the Saltwater Machines
04. Blues - Snakepit
05. Harlots - Betrayer
06. Orenda Fink - Ask the Night
07. Method Man - Tical
08. Chuck Ragan- Gold Country
09. Doomriders - Darkness Come Alive
10. Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves - Self-Titled

Spleen Latifa:
01. Mammoth Grinder – Extinction of Humanity
02. Aneurysm Rats – Dying to Live
03. The Broadways – Broken Star
04. Nasum – Helvete
05. Coalesce - Ox
06. Kent Brockman – Discography '99-'03
07. Angry Samoans – The Unboxed Set
08. Dear Landlord – Dream Homes
09. Medusa – En Raga Sul
10. Deadguy – Fixation On A Coworker

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Featured Live Show: Small Brown Bike / Bridge and Tunnel

Small Brown Bike / Image taken from last.fm

12.04.2009 - Beat Kitchen - Chicago

I’m sure many of you have heard that Small Brown Bike recently got back together and are actually playing shows and working on new material. In fact, you all should know because we posted this news on the Belly a little while back. Well, I managed to get myself some tickets to one of the two shows they played here in Chicago, and while my plan was to get turbo-drunk and rock out to some hella tunes with my friends, let’s just say things fell a bit short.

Let me begin by pointing out that I could only get tickets to the earlier show of the two. Of course this ended up being the all ages show, and I think as we get older we understand that all ages shows can really start to suck. All the usual pop-punker teens were there, probably only showing up because they heard one SBB album from their older brother or something along those lines. Fact: These kids are little shits. Look, I know there was a time when we were all younger going to punk shows too, but at least back then most of the underage crowd actually hated MTV and bands signed to major labels. We had somewhat of a handle on what we were talking about because we still used mail-order to get records and read zines. The fucks that show up now have no clue that punk and hardcore are actually not supposed to be mass-marketed and that eyeliner doesn’t make you look cool; it makes you look like a dumbass. I just wanted to make this disclaimer ahead of time in all fairness to the bands since it’s hard to enjoy yourself at a show when the kids in front of you are making the same jokes over and over that are about as funny as those found on South Park (which aren’t funny, by the way).

Alright, now let’s move back to the bands. I’m not even going to go into a lot of detail about the first band. I was in the bar while they played, and honestly, my friends and I all decided those jokers were doing everything in their power to sound like a Gin Blossoms cover band. So instead of heading into what seemed like an XRT sponsored concert in the 90’s, I drank beer. Since the beer was more interesting than the band, I’ll give you some deets on that. This beer was of the Pabst variety and came in a 16 oz. can of deliciousness. It was cold and crisp, and it managed to be the perfect vessel for routing alcohol into my ever-waiting body. If this beer was a band, it would be like mashing Hot Water Music, Leftover Crack, and Dillinger Four into a group that put out music that was completely unintelligible but awesome, and which also had the power to make you pee way more than normal.

Pabst / Taken from my camera

When Gin Blossoms: The Second Coming got off the stage, we packed up and headed in to listen to Bridge and Tunnel, a band that I particularly like and have seen play before. As expected, they put on an excellent show, and I found myself yelling along with every song. If you want to get down to some excellent post-hardcore jams, you must check this group out. If you don’t want to get down to some excellent post-hardcore jams, then you’re probably waiting online to purchase Soulfly tickets right now, and I feel sorry for you. I would say half of the people at this show wanted to do the former, but that still wasn’t enough to really get the place going, which is very unfortunate.

Bridge and Tunnel / Taken from B&T's Myspace

When it came time for Small Brown Bike to play, I figured things would surely pick up. People began to surge forward to get at the stage before the set started, so I had a good feeling. Straight out of the gates, SBB came through would a few of their most energetic and well-loved songs. Everyone old enough to recognize the sweet sounds being relayed from the band’s equipment went nuts. SBB had the crowd in their hands, but unfortunately decided to drop them all on their heads, presumably so we were all too unconscious to try and figure out what happened next.

The Bike played the slowest shit ever following this amazing beginning. It was like they sat down and picked out which songs would bore everyone to sleep. I don’t know if they wanted to force us to finally listen to all the songs we usually skipped on their albums, but the feeling was sucked out of the room leaving us all wondering, just like Superdrag, where the hell it went. Here and there the band would inject a few familiar numbers to wake everyone up, but then it was right back to naptime. In all honesty, I was completely disappointed when their set was over.

Small Brown Bike / Taken from Smallman Records

So I would say the high points of the night were me imagining Pabst as a super-group (Slash’s Snakepit, anyone? No? Okay.), and Bridge and Tunnel’s fantastic set. It seemed like Small Brown Bike still needed some warming up, and I would be interested to see how their second show went.