Mike Riddick Interview

June 29, 2008 –
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Experienced underground metal guru Mike Riddick (Yamatu, Equimanthorn, The Soil Bleeds Black) has launched a for-profit MP3-based label that sells MP3s, and sends promotional MP3s to zines and radio shows — but somehow, he’s not worried about MP3s “ruining the music business.”

Mike Riddick Interview

Possessed and Sadistic Intent in Austin, Texas

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Possessed and Sadistic Intent
June 29, 2008
Red 7
622 E. 7th Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Sadistic Intent played their first-ever show in Austin last night, which was ostensibly more auspicious in that they were also serving as Jeff Becerra’s backing band in the current incarnation of Possessed. The band came out to a well-attended room and delivered a set of now time-worn but authentic tracks taken from the series of EPs they released in the mid-90’s. A distinct sense of “Abominations of Desolation” permeated the set in their favor, as few bands of the current era are able to draw upon their predecessors in such a convincing manner. Momentum was lost as one of the two guitarists suddenly had string problems and appeared to be unable to resolve it without consultation from both of his axe-mates. The unit left the stage after three songs but then returned to complete the set about ten minutes later. The audience reacted appropriately with multiple phalanxes of whirling hair and horns held high, and ultimately Sadistic Intent proved why their name continues to endure despite a spare discography.

Following another more prolonged intermission, the band retook the stage again with Jeff Becerra in tow. There was much curiosity leading up to this performance because save for the notorious vocalist this was effectively a Possessed cover band. Compounding this was Becerra’s confinement to a wheelchair since 1989 after being shot in a drug deal gone bad (these circumstances have since been obscured through revisionism and the fact that the event occurred before the advent of the internet), so expectations among the assembled faithful were punctuated with question marks and guarded commentary.

It takes courage to carry on after such a devastating blow to one’s health and mobility, and if Becerra had presented with conviction and dignity he would have easily overcome his perceived limitations. In this venue, unfortunately, he wore his handicap and a still-apparent substance abuse problem around his neck like an anvil and proceeded to turn the event into a spectacle. The man is admittedly scary in a way that transcends metal; mad-eyed and clearly unstable, he wheeled around the stage and spent most of the time crowding or hitting the dutiful members of his backing band or gesticulating to his handlers for more beer (which, once received, he continuously poured over his head). Sadistic Intent, to their massive credit, lashed convincingly through a set of tunes comprised of the proto-death classic “Seven Churches”, and seemed they focused on working as a unit in spite of the dubious situation. It was no surprise that they seemed divorced from the vocalist, given his complete lack of poise. Becerra rasped and yelled his way through the songs in a fashion that made it seem more like he was interrupting rather than contributing. There were a few glimmers of the hellish voice that made him famous, but it was hardly a showing that would have resurrected any former glories. The set’s highlight was the modern classic, “The Exorcist”, which led to several subsequent injuries in the pit and further acquitted the band’s efforts. The end of the show was marked by Becerra’s leap from the stage, wheelchair and all, face-first into the middle of the floor. For a moment it looked as though he had managed to finish himself off but his attendants managed to scrape him up and carry him past many bemused onlookers.

In this reviewer’s opinion, the legacy of Possessed is in terrible danger of being further maligned and invalidated through appearances such as this. It was an experience to be sure, but more befitting of a rodeo or a circus than the revival of a seminal metal act. Even a top-flight backing band cannot account for the psychotic and counterproductive behavior of its frontman, and ultimately it is Mr. Becerra whose reputation is at stake. For now it seems like he is a full-time resident of a truly dark and painful place, and if he does not find a way to surface then he will likely consumed by the very demons he invoked on his albums so many years ago.

– Written by David Anzalone

Bands:
Possessed
Sadistic Intent

Promoters:
Red 7

Interview: Mike Riddick (Metalhit.com)

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This site pioneered metal journalism using dial-up and later online means for one simple reason: no wasted paper. It was apparent by 1984 that computers would soon become household and business appliances, as indispensible as copy machines and perhaps more numerous. The logic went this way: if we’re going to have them anyway, distributing information through computer networks means no dead trees, no additional waste, and possibly a more efficient distribution method.

Twenty years later, one of the debates still under mainstream radar is that of MP3 piracy. It touches all aspects of our government and society: is it theft to copy MP3s? If it is, do we want the Nanny State peering over our shoulders to see what we’re copying? Should we trust people to buy what they download, or try copy protection, just as we did with software and eventually abandoned? Who should watch for violations? Who watches the watchers? And finally: can artists get paid in an age beyond material scarcity, when a CD can be downloaded in minutes?

Mike Riddick, a pioneer in metal artistry in his own right, has tried the dangerous new waters of this controversial issue by launching Metalhit.com, a promotional firm/label that will send reviewers MP3s of CDs. Since promotional CDs arrive in bunches and most commonly go to the trash the same way, this is a green and metal way of forging past barriers to see the potential of this new form. We got in a few words with Mike about the future of digital media and metal.

When did you start metalhit.com, and what realization guided you toward the idea of doing an mp3-based promotion service/label?

I launched Metalhit.com in January 2008. The idea was born from a suggestion my wife made while discussing with her the status of my other (traditional) label, The Fossil Dungeon. I had always wanted to operate a metal label, publishing bands I enjoy, and this was an innovative way to do it.

Why an mp3-based promotion firm, and did you know about/use mp3s before starting the firm?

My other label, The Fossil Dungeon, had been publishing CDs while coincidentally publishing our releases in the digital market for a while so it was something I was acquainted with. While I still personally prefer CDs and Vinyls for my own entertainment, I do use Mp3s as well. One primary reason I opted to go exclusively digital with both of my labels was the fact that consumer markets are driven by convenience. Purchasing music online is far more convenient for the fan than going to the store, especially when dealing with music that’s not readily accessible in stores to begin with! Another primary reason I decided to go with Mp3s was the expense factor. I and the bands only make money when their music sells so we do not need to be concerned about throwing lots of money down upfront to create inventory and then hope that inventory sells. People profit when product moves and that business concept attracted me. Furthermore, the money I would usually invest in manufacturing can now go to marketing and promoting our artists in a better way. Overall, it’s a win-win situation and that makes for a good business. Operating my traditional CD/Vinyl-based label was a financial struggle and caused me to suffer losses for 5 years straight. As a digital label and distributor, the business model is more sound and more effective overall.

It seems several well-known labels have been receptive, and the metal press has been positive. Is this so, and what has helped you become accepted?

I am aware that digital sales are increasing rather rapidly on a year-to-year basis. I believe the statistic runs around 15% whilst CD sales are diminishing about 5% each year. The numbers tell me that people are getting comfortable with the digital format and I trust that within 10 years the industry will be 100% digital. I’m pleased the metal scene is embracing this change.

Major labels argue that allowing mp3s at all encourages theft and copying, but others point out that those who download mp3s are generally those without the money or inclination to buy the product anyway. How do you think mp3s can be used to promote music, and can it be done so without losing money for artists?

I don’t think artists will see too dramatic of a shift in the bootlegging of their work than in previous periods of music. Granted, it is easier to move music illegally these days by sharing files versus dubbing a cassette tape or ripping and burning a CD. However, overall I think that if a fan values a band’s music enough, they’ll pay for it, especially with the knowledge that they’re directly supporting the artists they appreciate. Even if music moves freely among music fans, it still serves as good promotion. If a music fan didn’t pay for an album they own, but they like the band, they’ll probably go see them at a show or perhaps order some merchandise online. The band will profit this way, whereas if their music hadn’t been freely shared, they would’ve lost out on this fan. While a band and label would prefer for the fan to pay for music legitimately, I don’t think the random occasions of this happening will ultimately cripple the industry. Consider libraries, for example. Did borrowing books freely ever put the book publishing industry out of business? Nope.

Democracy is cancerous, and bureaus are its cancer. A bureau takes root anywhere in the state, turns malignant like the Narcotic Bureau, and grows and grows, always reproducing more of its own kind, until it chokes the host if not controlled or excised. Bureaus cannot live without a host, being true parasitic organisms. (A cooperative on the other hand CAN live without the state. That is the road to follow. The building up of independent units to meet the needs of people who participate in the functioning of the unit. A bureau operates on the opposite principle of inventing needs to justify the existence.) Bureaucracy is wrong as cancer, a turning away from the human evolutionary direction of infinite potentials and differentiation and independent spontaneous action, to the complete parasitism of a virus.

– William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch

If mp3s are accepted as a means of sending promos, or as a way of selling music, it may force restructuring upon the industry. What do you think the music industry of the future will look like?

Labels are already jumping on the convenience of digital music. Apart from my label submitting promos digitally, I’m aware many of the majors are doing this as well. I think the industry will be much different in the future than its current state. For example, music stores will be a thing of the past. For example, indie shops situated around college campuses are already disappearing because the younger generation has gone completely digital. Music will be entirely digital, purchased from people’s home computers and portable devices. The technology for this is already in place and is growing more popular each day. I think labels will market bands in traditional ways, though leaning more toward multi-media avenues on the web. For example, I don’t think print magazines dealing with music will be around much longer though I do think they will outlast CDs.

Have you encountered resistance from labels and bands in your plan to send out mp3s to reviewers and, if so, what were the common objections? How did you resolve them?

Yes, I have encountered music reviewers and radio show DJs that have chosen not to accept digital promos. For most it is simply a matter of comfort. They aren’t yet comfortable with this medium and they still prefer things the traditional way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this and many of the labels still cater to these individuals by providing them with promo CDs, etc. For a lot of music journalists, their primary incentive for writing reviews is the fact they get to have tangible CDs as a perk for their work. While my music is still “free” to them, the reward factor isn’t present because there is nothing entirely tangible given to them. Some people prefer to hold something rather than have it as a file on their computer. This is perhaps the only factor slowing the transition into the digital age of music, but as technology increases and the devices used to play CDs become obsolete, the transition will be inevitable. While this can hamper my marketing efforts, I contrarily have marketing partners that love digital music and embrace it happily. There are enough promoters out there to still run an effective marketing campaign, exclusively digital!

Some argue that digital rights management (DRM), which is any of a number of encryption schemes to prevent unauthorized copying or uploading of those mp3s, should be applied to any mp3s made of original works. Do you believe this is an effective strategy?

DRM serves nothing but an inconvenience to the fan. It limits the product a fan is purchasing and that is just bad business. Who wants to buy music that will work only on one device when there are presently multiple devices to play music on in the marketplace? People will always find a way bootleg music and DRM is no exception so I find it to be a waste of time on the industry’s part. A lot of online music retailers, like eMusic, for example, offer downloads DRM-free. Likewise, the Metalhit.com Mp3 store is DRM-free!

Your work acknowledges a shift, through iTunes and other vectors, in the music industry toward accepting digital technology, including its ability to make a copy of anything already digitized. Some see the market as moving from selling a product, in which the physical form and information it contained were bonded inextricably, to selling a license to an abstract service, which is the ability to play or view a work, regardless of form. How will this affect how musicians, labels and promoters get paid?

It’s interesting how you describe this shift and it’s quite accurate. I believe labels and musicians will have to simply accept this transition and recognize that the future of media will be much more amorphous, not simply an individual unit. One thing I think we will see a rise in is the advent of the single. Previously, singles were used to leverage the sale of a full album. However, now fans have the ability to cherry-pick the songs they want and not have to purchase the filler that used to occupy full length albums. In fact, the idea of a full length album will become vague as this medium becomes more popular. It used to be that 45 minutes of music made up an album when that was all you could squeeze onto a record. CDs increased this expectation to a full hour. With digital music, timing is not an issue and people will simply purchase what they enjoy, song-by-song. As for musicians and labels being paid.I think it will still be the same, using a royalty system. What I do anticipate, however, is that artists will potentially make more money from their music, either handling it independently without a label, or through labels that pay better royalties because when labels go exclusively digital they won’t have many of the same middle men and manufacturing expenses that swamp the traditional industry.

Has metalhit.com helped you promote and/or sell any of your own works? Were the results comparable to conventional music industry models? (N.B. I recognize that you, like many other underground musicians, may not be in this field “for the profit,” but I think we should recognize that for an artist to keep existing, the band must at least not lose money, and it needs to make money for those in the support infrastructure of labels, distros, venues, magazines, etc. — “selling out” is a different story, because even if Metallica’s black album had only sold six copies, it would still be a sell-out; this is not a question about the ethics of profit, in other words, although feel free to throw in any ideas you have there)

I have not yet published any of my own music through Metalhit yet, though I have been publishing my bands in the digital market through my other label for a while now. While those albums were published on CD as well, I have been able to see how digital sales compare to CD sales. CDs sales are definitely more prevalent in the marketplace today, though when you compare the expenses involved in each of these avenues, I find the digital medium more appealing, even if it only makes up a small sales margin right now. However, I see this increasing each year so it only seems logical to pursue digital in its entirety.

The idea of metalhit.com appeals to many in black metal because, as people who believe in an integral, parallel bond between spirituality, intelligence, nature and the organization of matter, they see unnecessary production of physical waste (in the form of physical promos that generally get thrown out) as destructive to nature. Was this part of your motivation behind metalhit.com, and have you any idea how effective you have been toward reducing waste?

I hadn’t considered this proponent of the psychology behind some black metal fans. If this is the case, then my label should prove favorable. In contrast, I would’ve assumed fans of black metal to be the most resistant to embracing a new medium since black metal carries with it a loyalty to older metal traditions and vinyl. In any case, the amount of physical waste reduced by this change in my operation has been dramatic. It’s largely a paperless business. The only paper used is for contracts, filed work and reproduced fliers.

How has the presence of mp3s changed the underground? Is it better to fight change that seems contrary, or to accept it and try to alter it to support original objectives?

Mp3s have significantly changed the underground. With the advent of the Internet, the connectivity between fans of music all across the world has increased tremendously. In the early 90’s and prior, the worldwide network of the underground metal scene was facilitated by postal mail and it would take weeks to communicate with others around the world. Now that the Internet is here, not only has it made underground more accessible, but it’s also given leverage to smaller bands and labels in the sense that they can now more readily compete with larger labels because both the independents and majors have access to resources only previously reserved for major labels.

What kind of journalistic outlets does metalhit.com service, and have you seen a rise in digital-format outlets, like blogs and twitter streams and the like?

We spread our bands as well as those from our partner labels as intensely as possible. We’ll go for traditional magazines and radio shows to online programs, blogs, webzines and the like. I think there is a definite rise in digital-format outlets for promotion, particularly among the younger generation of extreme metal fans.

If you were an up-and-coming death metal or black metal band today, how would you use digital media to promote your band?

Take advantage of it! Setting up a MySpace page, has been a relatively effective method for unknown artists to start marketing their work. Online advertising is another avenue for bands with more money to promote with and simply networking with labels, fans and distributors over the Internet is an excellent way to start making your work more known. The benefit of the Internet is that you can achieve a pretty decent amount of exposure with little expense involved. However, as with any successful artists, whether mainstream or underground, originality, hard work and persistent effort will yield results.

Thanks to Metalhit.com for this inspiring interview.

If we ask a man who is exploiting a commons to desist “in the name of conscience,” what are we saying to him? What does he hear?–not only at the moment but also in the wee small hours of the night when, half asleep, he remembers not merely the words we used but also the nonverbal communication cues we gave him unawares? Sooner or later, consciously or subconsciously, he senses that he has received two communications, and that they are contradictory: (i) (intended communication) “If you don’t do as we ask, we will openly condemn you for not acting like a responsible citizen”; (ii) (the unintended communication) “If you do behave as we ask, we will secretly condemn you for a simpleton who can be shamed into standing aside while the rest of us exploit the commons.”

– Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons

Natural Selection(tm) Reviews

June 28, 2008 –
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Ajattara – Itse, Aepere and Kalmanto: this is like metal bands who have failed since time immemorial (or 1970, take your pick). It’s a bunch of well-known riff forms stitched together with rhythm, and skinned in lush layered vocals, keyboards and samples. Musically, indistinguishable from 1970s heavy metal, even if it has a black metal and doom aesthetic. Reminds me of later Cemetary. I can’t listen to this shit.

Anti – The Insignificance of Life: Great name, great album name, more black metal/rock combo. They have Gorgoroth-ish technique, but all polished and bouncy like later Ancient. It’s hard to argue against as music, but as art, no presence and no direction.

Bergraven – Dodsvisioner: It’s like Comecon mixed with later Samael, lots of interesting background noises, and stompy riffs. It’s catchy but it has no soul. I am worried that all the metal with balls has died. Take Vicodin, relax. Bergraven still sucks.

Fanisk – Noontide: These guys get the Hitler sample in early, so you might feel obligated to keep listening. Like Dimmu Borgir, the best part is the keyboards between black metal parts, which remind me of Gorgoroth’s “Under the Sign of Hell” — a lot of blatant chromatics and basic melodic minor noodling. Do I fucking care? delete, delete

Forefather – Steadfast: Vikingish metal that reveals its roots in power metal. Lots of cool guitar parts that don’t add up to much, a very cheesy aesthetic, and a style of fast flexible lead rhythm shifts that reminds me of Enslaved, In Battle and Kvist. More organized than most, musically the most impressive thing I’ve heard recently, but it adds up to an aesthetic pile of confusion that narrates itself on a wander and then comes back to safe ground, only to effectively trail off.

Gorath – Misotheism: How do they keep coming up with these plastic bands? They have no souls. This is paint-by-numbers rock-blackmetal, with lots of frilly adornments and absolutely no direction. Also sounds very emo-influenced, musically. It’s like a carnival of distraction with a plodding heartbeat and an IQ test with more red ink than black on it. Yuck.

Interview: Marlon Friday (Abhorrent)

June 14, 2008 –
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Guitarist Marlon Friday of demo band Abhorrent was kind enough to lend us his ears and voice for a brief interview on the state of death metal, and the direction this new act — which is challenging the stagnation of a genre too molded by its interpretation of fan expectations to be anything but stagnant — takes as it tackles the question of 21st century death metal.

When did you form Abhorrent, what were your previous projects, what’s the state of the band and who’s in it, and what is your status now?

Abhorrent was formed mid-2007 after some of our previous projects either didn’t go anywhere, or weren’t taken seriously. Previous projects were Erzebet and Misogyny, the latter, not taken too seriously, obviously. Abhorrent is Marlon Friday on guitar(s) and Lyle Cooper on Drums. We are currently looking for new members to fill in the vacant duties of the band. Also, we are looking to finish mixing and mastering our 3 song promo, and hoping to send it out to certain interested labels.

What are your goals in forming Abhorrent? Are there extra-musical goals (chicks, ideology, tour the world) as well as musical goals?

Music consumes both of our lives, and without it, we wouldn’t be who we are today. Abhorrent is an outlet of both emotion and ideology, which will be more present in the lyrical matter.

Add to the reckoning all whom thou hast known, one after another. One man after burying another has been laid out dead, and another buries him: and all this in a short time. To conclude, always observe how ephemeral and worthless human things are, and what was yesterday a little mucus to-morrow will be a mummy or ashes. Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Do you think a genre of unpopular “popular music” like death metal and/or black metal can be a form of art?

Of course, absolutely. It not only can be a form of art, but, in my mind it is and will always be an artistic expression.

What distinguishes art from entertainment, and if they overlap, is there a difference in goals between the two?

Well, in the context of music, I believe their is a certain overlapping of the two. Creating the music is the art form, while playing it live is the entertainment side… similar to art galleries, having people show up and look at the selection of art pieces in the exhibit is a form of entertainment.

Do you think heavy metal has a distinctive worldview different from that of “normal” people? Is worldview a grounding to an ideology, and can art have either? Do you think the worldviews and or ideologies of artists shape the kind of music they produce?

Yes, I do believe that heavy metal retains a certain world view that differs from the main populace. The worldview is a foundation for ideology and I believe wholeheartedly that can have both. Ideologies can shape the music in the creative process, and I believe it does a lot to define the type of sound the artist is going for. Be it abrasive or easy on the ears, or what have you.

Do you think death metal musicians converge on the genre because it sounds like thoughts or worldviews, and if so, does this produce any compatibility between views?

I think death metal musicians share, to an extent, certain views and feelings and that is a big reason that the “scene” started and evolved into what it is or isn’t today. There is definitely a compatibility between views, but that isn’t always the case.

If sound is like paint, and we use different techniques and portray different things in our paintings, what does it say when a genre sounds similar and has similar topic matter and imagery? can the genre be said to have a philosophy or culture of its own?

Varying genres of music can definitely have a unified ideology/philosophy, which helps bring artists and listeners alike to a more unified ground.

Rumor has it that Abhorrent is considering being the first all-instrumental death metal band. what are the additional burdens on songwriters of writing songs without vocals?

Not sure if we would be the first, but, yes, this is a possibility. To have an all instrumental band, the music has to have an extra quality to it, a certain appeal that will be able to grab the audience and keep them listening. Since there would be no lyrics, it would be up to us to create an atmosphere and keep from diverting the listeners attention.

How do you conceive of a song: do you start with a riff, an abstract idea, an emotion, or a structure?

It all depends on the time and place. I might have a riff in my head, or a drumbeat or just be in a certain mood.

What are your influences, and are these shared among band members, and if not wholly, what other influences do they have?

When writing the music we don’t try and think … “Okay, these 3 bands influenced this song so let’s write something like it.” We just let the music flow and morph it as we go along. Although, you could probably tell some of my favourite bands (Gorguts) have leaked a bit into the riffs that I write.

Of the last ten years of metal, what are the standouts to you? what about other genres — what were the most influential and best works?

Gorguts – Obscura and From Wisdom To Hate
Adramelech – Pure Blood Doom
Immolation – Close To A World Below
Spawn of Possession – Cabinet and Noctambulant (to a lesser extent)
Martyr – Feeding The Abscess
Augury – Concealed
Anata – Under A Stone With No Inscription
Psycroptic – The Scepter Of The Ancients
Defeated Sanity – Prelude To The Tragedy, Psalms of The Moribund
Deathspell Omega – Fas, Ite Maledicti In Ignem Aeternum, Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspicere, and Kenose are all beyond words as well.
Drudkh – Most of their work.
Negura Bunget – Omwww
Agalloch – All of their material.
Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk, IX Equilibrium, Prometheus
Among tons of others.

Some have said that death metal and black metal use “narrative” composition, where a series of riffs are motifs that evolve toward a passage between states of mind for the listener. is this true, and if so, how is it reflected in your songwriting?

It can be said about a lot of bands, but when I write material for Abhorrent, there is no set formula, it just evolves and evolves from there.

Do not look around thee to discover other men’s ruling principles, but look straight to this, to what nature leads thee, both the universal nature through the things which happen to thee, and thy own nature through the acts which must be done by thee. But every being ought to do that which is according to its constitution; and all other things have been constituted for the sake of rational beings, just as among irrational things the inferior for the sake of the superior, but therational for the sake of one another.

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

What brands/models of guitars/amplifiers do you use, and what equipment/software do you use to record?

For the promo we recently recorded, I used: Jackson DKMG
Engl Fireball head
Mesa Dual Rectifier Over-sized Cab
and a Bugera head for the other guitar track.
Lyle (drums) used:
Mapex 5 piece
Sabian and Zildjian Cymbals
DW 9000 pedals
To record we used a motu 12 pre for the drums, with an assortment of different mics, with Cubase. Guitars were recorded DI and reamped with the ENGL and Bugera.

We’ve gone through another period, like that of the late 1970s, where metal has lost direction and started to be absorbed by rock music. Is a change in style needed, or is change in direction expressed in another direction? What do you think the metal of next decade will look like?

There are so many different variations of “metal” that incorporate completely different types of music, some of them lose base with the “traditional” style, but others don’t stray too far from a defined line. In the next decade I can’t even imagine what new types of metal music there will be. Here’s to hoping the quality of music increases exponentially.

What is the best way for fans to contact you and hear your music?

You can email abhorrent@gmail.com to contact the band, and the best place to listen to our music, as of now, is at www.myspace.com/abhorrentdm.

Some people prefer a scene, others a community, still others like to strike out on their own. How effective are scenes and communities in concentrating listeners who can appreciate similar approaches to music, and how much do they simply raise the expectation of clone music and drag the community down to a lowest common denominator?

A “scene” can be both beneficial and detrimental to the quality of music that is produced. It does give an outlet to a group of unified individuals who have similar tastes in music, but also, on the downside… some bands may think they have to keep releasing the same type of albums over and over because “that’s what the scene expects”, thus, never evolving, and never doing anything new.

Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.

What do you mean?

I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labors and honors, whether they are worth having or not.

– Plato, Republic

Ludwig van Beethoven

June 13, 2008 –

Then, brothers, it came. O bliss, bliss and heaven, oh it was gorgeousness and georgeosity made flesh. The trombones crunched redgold under my bed, and behind my gulliver the trumpets three-wise, silver-flamed and there by the door the timps rolling through my guts and out again, crunched like candy thunder. It was like a bird of rarest spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a space ship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures. There were veeks and ptitsas laying on the ground screaming for mercy and I was smecking all over my rot and grinding my boot into their tortured litsos and there were naked devotchkas ripped and creeching against walls and I plunging like a shlaga into them. — from A Clockwork Orange

The spirit of Beethoven is the Faustian: the beautiful emerging from the tormented, warlike and aggressive human soul that wants to make beautiful by imposing itself on life.

It’s an impulse balanced by a detailed understanding of both life, and humans. It’s as if the human is a computer, intaking life, and returning to life an answer it needs: an enhancement of beauty through exactly placed effort.

Like a partial redesign in each interaction.

Some will attribute this spirit to specific groups, times or ideologies, but the fact remains that it is what motivates all of us who want more out of life. We want more beauty, and to that end, we struggle. We are never satisfied. We do not want comfort, we want greatness.

Metal has this contemplative spirit. Unlike rock music, which focuses on the karmic drama of the individual, it focuses on the whole of life as a large design made by blind watchmakers. It is a spirit of freedom from mental neurosis, a lack of fascination with the karmic, and a focus on order and beauty.

It is a form of worship for life; metal is perhaps the most religious popular music gets. It inherits the spirit of Ludwig van Beethoven and others like him, which is one where stillness of the soul is only found in Faustian rage for order.

Vikernes not getting out of prison

June 11, 2008 –
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Convicted murderer Varg Vikernes is too dangerous to be released into society, according to justice officials. Government critics fear that his background as an ideologically motivated church-burning arsonist, and his connections with neo-Nazi groups, are making it impossible for him to get a fair parole hearing.

“I can’t understand it. They want me to make arrangements with social services, even though this is unnecessary. Must I be on welfare in order to be released? I have a house, a job and a family waiting for me,” Vikernes told daily newspaper VG.

Vikernes denied parole

If they were metalheads, they’d see that an institutional appraoch to life doesn’t work because we don’t fit into neat and easy categories like “good” or “bad.” Smarter kids like Vikernes especially. Considering his stated goal is making music and writing books, we have to view this as an act of censorship against metal.

National Day of Slayer – June 6

June 5, 2008 –
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June 6 is a perfect day for Hessians across the country to come together and engage in something upon which we can all agree – listening to Slayer! Also, do you really want those evangelical Neo-Cons to have all the fun with their “National Day of Prayer”? Enjoy a “National Day of Slayer” instead:

National Day of Slayer

* Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
* Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
* Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
* Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

Download Slayer’s 1986 Demo with songs from “Reign in Blood”

Then you can take that participation to a problematic level:

* Stage a “Slay-out.” Don’t go to work. Listen to Slayer.
* Spray paint Slayer logos on churches, synagogues, or cemeteries.
* Play Slayer covers with your own band (since 99% of your riffs are stolen from Slayer anyway).
* Kill the neighbor’s dog and blame it on Slayer.<

National Day of Slayer

Sponsored by:

The Hessian Studies Center and
The Dark Legions Archive

Dissenter, Eldrig, Cauterizer

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Cauterizer – Then the Snow Fell

This band made the classic mistake of trying to make death metal a bouncy, jaunty, ironic hard rock genre at the time it was moving away from all that garbage. Had they tried it eight years later, they would have been Slipknot, but instead, they’re mostly forgotten. Sound is like old Therion and old Entombed played by Motley Crue.

Dissenter – Apocalypse of the Damned

We put Behemoth and Hate Eternal into a blender and got a highly competent effort that’s painful to listen to. Repetition of themes is aggressive, as is mirroring of similar rhythms throughout each piece, and like all metal made after 1995, there’s zero sense of dynamic, just a constant high-volume assault — a lot like hip-hop. A shame since these musicians are clearly above average in proficiency.

Eldrig – Kali

I wanted to like this. As atmosphere, it’s well-done; note choice is good, rhythm is good, dynamics are well done. As art, it’s a non-entity because there’s almost no change. It’s like Hindu-themed apocalyptic wallpaper.

Black Funeral – Vampyr: Throne of the Beast

This is an inverse review: all the Black Funeral albums other than this one are lesser. Vampyr is the peak. Seek Vampyr if you like Black Funeral.

Deicide – Till Death Do Us Part

June 3, 2008 –
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This is a good effort: they got themselves in better physical shape, focused their energies, and made a record better than anything afterSerpents of the Light. In form, it shows both a convergence to a mean (return to heavy metal influences of youth, mixed in a salad shooter and made generic by need of compromise) as well as a yearning for New York death metal like Immolation, whose internal rhythms and melodic rhythmic leads are borrowed here. Much of it sounds like more primitive versions of the rhythms behind Once Upon the Cross and Serpents of the Light, as played by a hybrid between Angelcorpse, Dream Theatre and Immolation. As a result they’ve thrown in some fairly advanced playing, but it is as an adornment, and not central to any message conveyed, which is the boiled-down version of the past mentioned above. It’s a good effort; it may not be good enough to stay on our playlists for long, but it exceeds expectations based on past works and levels a groundwork for future works.