Saturday, April 7, 2012
There is more to life than Killing Joke, of course. There are bands who are influenced by Killing Joke.
So, yes, I got the new Ministry CD- Relapse. Here's the quick Backstory- Al is impossible to work with. I know it from first-hand experience. He's a psycho, and a drug fiend. He may or may not be clean, right now, but there you go- with or without drugs in his system, he's a psycho junkie. He's also a fairly intelligent musical visionary, with no edit button. That's incredibly valuable, and frustrating as well. Because you'll get rare moments of transcendence and power, majesty, and yes, beauty. You'll also get meaningless rants, and pointless torture for nothing. You also never know when he's lying, or honest, joking or serious. The really frustrating part is that none of this is a dichotomy all of it is part and parcel of the same thing. Well, it even takes a toll on the man himself. He nearly died from a bleeding/ruptured (take your pick) ulcer. I happen to know what that's like, and I know what causes it- abusing yourself in an extreme manner. Basically, you've got to ignore painful symptoms for years, and continue down what's clearly an unhealthy path. Pretty good metaphor for Al's life, and career, yeah?
But, what about the music? It's the thrashy electro metal we've come to expect. Al rants on top of it, in a heavily processed voice. If that sounds typical, that's because of how many people rip off Al's sound. Since Ministry now is Al, Mike Scaccia, Tommy Victor, Tony Campos, and guests, it's got a lot more guitar solos. But, fortunately, Victor brings his Prong-ish Killing Joke worship, and Campos is a more rooted (pun intentional) bass player, so it's less straight Thrash as the Bush trilogy was- there's some space between the blast beats, a lot less claustrophobia in the mix, and the result is a much more listenable release than Al has done in awhile. The fact that he's not afraid of some self-parody also opens it up a lot. You get less of a 'late night cable access psychotic rant" feel off it, a more (un)fair, and (un)balanced ride.
I actually like Al's spoken bits, because he's much more clearly playing a character, and it suits.
I know the purists, and the metal heads will not like it. It's not as "intense", but more fun. A couple of bits are almost dance-y. To use a Metal metaphor, it's more like Megadeth than Deicide, and that's a good thing.
Really, your best bet is to listen to each track, and download what works for you, unless you're crazy like me, then, you'll want the CD.
I'm a gatherer. I am a fan of everything Killing Joke does. Maybe not unquestioningly so, maybe not equally a fan of everything, but I really do see the value in everything they do. Furthermore, I agree with the basic mindset the band espouses- we, in humanity, are on the brink. We might pull out of the death spiral we're in, we might not, but that might not be the most important thing. What might be the most important thing is that life continues. I believe in things seen and unseen. I have a spiritual side. I am half-godly and half beastly.
So,naturally I want to hear out the new record by Killing Joke. I know that the music will be awe-inspiring, because it always is. Musically, it's much more keyboard driven than the past few Killing Joke releases but retains the straightfoward guitar-riff based structure that Killing Joke has had since the Pandaemonium record. The harmonies are close, and modal- giving that "middle eastern" flair. The overall sound is perhaps less jagged, more of a midrange chug. Which means I really like it, but it's not the worldchanging tribal grind that I know Killing Joke can do. I think it's partially suffering from an odd choice in production- the mix brings up Jaz's "atmospheric" keyboards usually a bit higher than Geordie's guitar, and compresses the high end off the bass- meanwhile, Jaz is getting older, so I understand why they're adding a lot of extra processing to his voice- he always has a fair amount of echo, and doubles his vocals with pitches from the song- usually, again, those keyboards- but there's a lot more on this one. The problem with all this is that it gets more than a bit mushy. I'd really like to hear an unmastered mix, because the songs, themselves, are the Killing Joke I pay good money to import and I know that minus some of the production choices, the songs would be more what I expect.
The Lyrics are thought-provoking as always, and I know that while I'm open-minded, I'll disagree with about half of what Jaz believes. But, I have to get this out of the way- the Mayan Calendar stuff is completely laughable. It's an Apocalypse that deserves the Michael Bay styled CGI fest of a movie that it got. Seriously, the Y2K bug was more believable . However, Jaz, as always has his finger on a pulse- ably converting occult subjects such as Geomancy, The basic injustice of our Shock capitalism, Ecstatic trance states, Biotechnology, the Food Court, Solar Storms, and memorials into not only a coherent and compelling narrative, but sometimes into poetry. I cannot fully explain, but it boils down to this- you're either on the side of the Planet, or you're not, and it's surprising how many are not.
I cannot sum up the record, because I'm a gatherer. I treat Killing Joke records like they're Sacred. But I can describe the record a bit- it's less "Extremities" more "Brighter than a Thousand Suns", but of a piece with "Absolute Dissent". Play it very loud and decide for yourself, but know this- your favorite band probably likes Killing Joke almost as much as me, and there's a reason for that.
Monday, April 2, 2012
(And by Jack up, I mean both cause them to rise, and cause a big mess) So, I saw the Hunger Games. It was good. I don't have any desire to read the books, and I might watch the sequels or I might not. As product, wow! the production values were right up there. Also, it was great to see Asheville, NC. It's a good town, up there with Tucson, Portland, Flagstaff, and Sacramento. Not to mention, Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, and Josh Hutcherson were really quite good.
The film was seamless, and the direction flowed seamlessly.
The story was a bit rote, and I could see where it was put together; for example, you never see Katniss ( our Heroine) get her hands bloody, so the kids watching will still identify with her. Likewise, I think there were enough vague symbols that you could interpret the theme in a variety of ways. The KOS has my favorite interpretation. And it's not exactly a ground-breaker. My favorite version of the Deadliest game, as filtered through our oversaturated media-fixated times would be Series 7: the Contenders ( Girls VS Boys on the soundtrack!)
But overall, it's a big damn improvement over the Twilight Franchise, so let's be thankful for that.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Just discovered this. It's Ryan from Coliseum, but more importantly, it's members of Black Cross.
Do you like hardcore punk rock? Why do you like it? I like it for three reasons- 1. the sheer power and energy 2. The formalism- Hardcore abides by strict rules, and it's interesting to me how creative people get within those strictures and structures. 3. The directness- within that hard, fast tightrope, there's no room for indulgences. Black God fully understands what I'm talking about. They even have explicit rules for what they do- no more than 2 minutes per song, and what not. They call it "Blitz Rock", and that's an excellent name for it- it's like The Bronx, but with the Minutemen's super tight sense of structure. It's definitely hardcore, but in the 1980's sense. It reminds me of those perfect hardcore bands, like Articles of Faith, Battalion of Saints, Poison Idea, MDC, 7 Seconds, Minor Threat, Conflict, and Bad Brains. And it's from Louisville. I think I need to move to Louisville...
Anyway, just absolutely awesome music, even if I'm too damn old to slam like I used to ( yes, that's "Slam" kiddos, not "mosh". Moshing is done by idiot heshers who want to be cool, slamming is what friendly punks with skinhead haircuts who surf and skate do, geddit?). I think I need to break something, stat....