Saturday, October 12, 2013

A preliminary jab at Red Fang's Whales and Leeches

I expect the critics will like the new Red Fang LP. It's got airtight songwriting, with marvelous production and is even a step up in all ways from the great last LP, which was reviewed well. However, I expect a backlash from a certain contingent of fan. There will be certain boys- and yes, I mean boys, males aged 16 to 25, who will claim that Red Fang have gone soft, that these are pop songs, that it's not heavy enough; essentially "they sold out". At the risk of  constructing and attacking a straw man, I'd like to talk about that- and to make it transparent, my point in that is to explain my reaction to the LP.
See, first of all- I wouldn't think it's a bad thing for Red Fang to adopt a pop element to their music. Pop song structure is economical, and efficient. It's effective, and aesthetically pleasing. It's just not the only game in town. But Red Fang haven't adopted pop songcraft- it's Rock, and more specifically, it's Heavy Metal.
As such, I don't think it's lacking in heaviness- I think that such a perspective is lacking in understanding as to what they're going for. The music is no less heavy than Kiss, than Dio, than The Melvins, than Ted Nugent, and certainly no less heavy than contemporaries like Torche, Valiant Thorr, Tilts, or Turbonegro. Expecting them to be as heavy as Kowloon Walled City, Neurosis, or even Kylesa would be expecting them to be a different band than what they are. At the heart of it, that's what cries of "Sell Out" tend to be- an expectation of an Artist to be something other than what they are. ( there's certain rare exceptions- but usually I don't mind them. What I mind is when an Artist tries to sell me, as a fan, out. People like Trent Reznor, or Liz Phair trying to get me to accept a crappy, half assed attempt at what they think I want to hear, in an effort to get me to buy said lame attempt, because that's all the more they value their creative expression. ) I see Red Fang as being much more in the vein of always wanting to be something like the Melvins than something like Slayer, and yes, I hear them hit some "Slayer riffs" on this- but the overall feel of their thing is still Beer Metal,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Two CDs in the post today

Got two compact Discs in the post- after listening to the download for awhile, I've finally got the Tyranny is Tyranny CD, and I was surprised to see my pre-order of the groovy 3-D cover version of the new Red Fang. I'll talk more about both, but this is good!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Crust,  as a musical genre, is good soil. Yes that works as both a metaphor and a joke.  I was a big fan of certain Crust bands, and that has borne fruit, whether it is Disfear making the most creative D-beat based metal LP in a decade ( Live the Storm. If you haven't heard it, it is to D-Beat and Crust what Ride the Lightning was to eighties Thrash Metal) or whether is is Damad turning into Kylesa and creating a whole new genre in Southern Stoner/Sludge .
So, I keep in touch with the Crust scene, but mostly to scan the periphery- the bands and Artist pushing out from the confines of what is, after all, a pretty limiting genre. Germany's Ruins are not limited. That said, I just caught up with Ruins, who I believe have the raw material to become another great heavy rock band. The crust basis is still there, but they're reaching around, and skipping ahead to incorporate the "post sludge" melodic elements of Tragedy, Baroness and  Kylesa.  Yes, it shares characteristics of doom, but it really deviates from that in the lack of claustrophobia- they have a great sense of space, and are prone to go off on nearly math-rock angular grooves, before bringing in swaying hypnotic melodies- it's that denial of traditionalism that brings them into their own musical turf. Good stuff- and I can even give you a "RIYL"- If you like Tyranny is Tyranny, Tragedy, and early Kylesa, you'll like some of this.

My Limitations: Future of the Left- How to Stop your Brain in an Accident

I'm pretty good at "reading"- getting an understanding of what someone is trying to communicate. But I fall short pretty often as well. Such is the case with Future of the Left. This new LP is the first by them that I can get any kind of handle on. But even that is limited. I know that musically, they're wedding Gang of Four type nervous dance beats with Birthday Party styled explosiveness but I know there's more there that I'm not getting. Lyrically, it seems like the notebook diary scratchings of a hyper-intelligent sophmore at University, half-informed, and half hormonal. But, I think there must more there, as well.
So, I'm throwing this over to you. Can someone please get me up to speed on them? I like it, and I'm going to keep listening, and trying to decipher them, but it'd be nice to feel like I'm not posing by liking them...

Ghosts of Mars....

So, have you heard the new GVSB ep, yet? You should, it's good. Better than the new Soulfly and Sleigh Bells put together (since I won't be talking about either, elsewhere, I'll just say that Max, you're a good man, better than what you've done. I know that the fans just want Chaos AD over and over again, but I liked Soulfly for being something very different-and I bet you did too. Your heart isn't in this. Sleigh Bells, on the other hand have collapsed into exactly what I thought. Complete self-parody. Like an advertiser's idea of Punk Rock, doing covers of "Hey Mickey" over and over.) and better than You Can't Fight What You Can't See. Sure, it's just an EP, and, it could be argued, much the same as the Super Fire EP- but it's exactly what I like about Girls against Boys- grooves so cutting they cross over from dancing to danger, matched with lyrics that cross over from cheesy to sinister. I know most self-loving indie nerds hated Freak-on-ica but I'm not that kind of nerd- I saw it as a logical progression. What GVSB  do is take a certain type of male psyche, and expose it- debride it- until you can see the disgusting muscle and infection under the scab.
That type of male would sign a major label deal while trying to keep credibility, while getting more and more psychotic. That LP reflected that. That GVSB do this musically, rather than just lyrically makes it ring all more true. That I, like many others, have a bit of that psyche within me makes it sting a bit. Most of us have never done the evil in a Slayer song, or even been in a relationship as dysfunctional as an Afghan Whigs song, but we have pursued our base desires with an unhealthy disregard for the morality of it, and sometimes we revel in it. That point, when we want to possess that car, that gadget, or that girl, and we don't really care if we have to steal or take it by force ( and yes, emotional force counts) Girls Against Boys is all about that avarice that we rationalize and disguise. They go inside it and expose it. So, on this one, it's been 11 years, and that's explored- what happens to the hound when it gets a bit too old to hunt? What happens when you are still following the most trivial of pursuits well after the time to get serious?
Keep in mind this is done musically, as well- references to "Ghost Rider" by Suicide  on "Fade Out", and the slow electronic grind of "60 is greater than 15", not mention the burning pulsebeat of "Kick" ( like a gangsta war drum from 1995) don't really speak to an audience under the age of 40. But what they say? Well, think about the lyrics to the aforementioned Kick- "You say things have changed/ they only seem the same/to me. The 1990's? The Double Zeros? The Cleopatras?  The Neros.  There ain't no crazy ride. There ain't no war inside. And I still feel the same. I still feel the same." - I bet that you don't know all the references there if you weren't involved with Punk Rock in the early 1980s- admissions of defeat coupled with defiance abound- they seem to be saying that nearly sociopathic desire for conquest is wrong only because it's for the wrong things, and because of that, we're going to keep on trying, even though we're doomed to failure.