Dos Equis Special Lager

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This drivel sells under import prices when it is essentially repackaged American beer. Gone are the Dos Equis highlights of the 1980s, when XX brown was a thick flavorful beer that provided an alternative to the dreck on the big shelves. Now you get the watery drivel that happens when a firm decides to maximize profit based on the — not lack of information — low ability to discern shit from gold that identifies the average consumer. This liquid tastes pulpy and soapy and has low alcohol content, or at least low effect. It may be because if not drunk absolutely cold, it resembles the pulque substance they make in prisons more than beer. Any pretense that this is superior to Michelob are nonsense; it is a pale shadow of its former self, made fruitier and vapid so that Average Citizen Idiot can bob his head while listening to the “edgy” Ramones cover band at his local icehouse and talk up the fat women hanging like vegetative overgrowth around the bar, as everyone around him imitates past edginess in an attempt to seem like anything but the corporate stooges they are. Seriously, this is Mexican-flavored Miller Lite. Every burp feels like a vomit about to happen, except it is just the taste of this bilgy sweetened pond water masquerading as beer. Speaking of corporate stooges, this beer is undrinkable, unless you have already numbed your taste buds to the point of accepting the mediocre as the norm.

*/*****

Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout

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As much as I enjoy a bitter beer, or an idiosyncratic one, Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout confuses the outward appearance of refined taste with the taste itself. An intensely sour and dark beer, it swings away from the pleasurable dimensions of beers toward small rooms full of “experts” who like highly demonstrative, artificed tastes. Such drinkers are looking for a beer to talk about how much they enjoyed, rather than enjoying it, while overpraising it like metalcore in a big heavy metal magazine. They will discuss its oddities, use vague terms like “creamy,” and generally miss the point: this beer is designed toward unbalanced extremes to make talking points, and has character within.

As a result, it makes a terrible everyday beer, and while it might be good as a Guinness substitute in a black and tan where a dark and bitter beer is necessary to offset the Bass or other pale ale used in contrast, by itself constitutes the same kind of unpleasant drinking experience that eating straight dark chocolate provides to the culinary palate. Like gourmet food that carries the pretentious epithet an acquired taste, this oatmeal stout misses out on the balance of a really good version of this sub-type, in which harvest flavors balance the bitterness to create a sense of transition, and instead aims toward something for gritted-teeth hipsters to use as a conversation topic when explaining the superiority of their taste to yours. At that it succeeds because there is so much to talk about but none of it is interesting. Take for example the separation of flavors so that the aftertaste is a tarry version of the foretaste; or perhaps, the strange fermentation overtones as if something random were included in the vat, or the process did not quite complete. Independent breweries are quite trendy now but this beer shows that it is not the size of the brewery, but the intent of the brewer, that makes a great beer instead of a faddish mediocre one.

*/*****

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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Only an American company could come up with this: a bitter beer wracked by a sweet fruity aftertaste. It is the approach one takes to bribing children to eat the disgusting faux nutrition that is “health food,” namely by making the food as vile as possible and then dumping a bunch of sugar on top so they will eat it for that. On the tongue, Pale Ale tastes like a European delicacy like Grolsch for just a moment before undertones of vinegar kick in, followed by a sugary fruitness resembling a Kiwi fruit swimming in corn syrup. The result is vomitous, a race between extremes in which the middle point — the balance of flavors that makes a good brew — vanishes entirely. Instead, you get get hipster cred for liking this “acquired taste” while having a big dollop of cupcake icing to follow it, with the assumption that you will not vomit from the clash of tastes on the palate. In favor of this beer, it is cleaner than most American beers, without the murky swill of unintegrated fermentation byproducts that makes American beer taste like stagnant rainwater. On the other side, however, it is like a car with the engine in the trunk that you steer with the stereo. Absolutely no integration of flavor leaves it feeling more like watching a crowd of random people pass, than the smooth ballet of a good beer.

**/*****

It’s sexist to oppose this video

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Based on my research, back in the 1980s this video caused quite a stir. Back then, America wanted to be a Christian and socially conservative country, although it leaned toward right-wing foreign policy and left-wing social policy. Neurotic, perhaps, but that was the political fad at the time. As the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) and others saw this video, it represented the intrusion of wild bohemian values that would disrupt a socially conservative nation.

Fast forward to the age of #metalgate: now we are a socially liberal nation, where most people believe in great 1960s stuff like gay marriage, legal pot and socialized healthcare. What a change! The guys who were The EstablishmentTM back then are now The (tame) Opposition, and the guys who were the radicals are now in charge. Back then, this video was bad because it offended conservative morals; now, it’s bad because it offends liberal morals.

If you aren’t laughing at our joke of a society by now, you’re not paying attention.

What makes this interesting is that we are in a time of historical cross-over. Back in the 1980s, the Reagan conservatives were the hardline authoritarians trying to keep us from enjoying our music. Now, the hippie liberal SJWs — and government, and media, and wow, big corporations too — are the authoritarians trying to keep us from enjoying our music. The sides have flip-flopped because a different side is in power, and this offends them for different reasons.

This does not change the fact that their reasons for opposing this video are wrong.

In the 1980s, heavy metal was a scapegoat. The real problem was most likely rising divorce, social instability, the Cold War and a nation which basically lost its purpose and goals. In the 1990s, it is also a scapegoat: SJWs blame metal because it is convenient for them to have an enemy which justifies their takeover of the genre, and they intend to use guilt to force you to get out of the way or — watch out! — the witch hunt will come for you.

Some opine that it is unimportant that SJWs are invading metal. “Just listen to what you like!” they say. They would not say that if government were censoring metal, but SJWs are censoring it, too; they have just changed tactics from the ineffective government means of the 1980s to the highly effective method of organized boycott. No business wants to be considered racist, sexist, anti-homosexual or otherwise inegalitarian, just like no citizen in Revolutionary France wanted to be seen as a Royalist. Your business and life will be destroyed and government will do nothing to protect you, because it approves of that act of censorship. Government gets to reap the rewards without taking on the risk of doing the censoring itself.

It is sexist to oppose this video. In fact, sexism itself is sexist. Men are men and women are women, just like every species known to humankind has sexes, and they have differences. To oppose “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” is to deny what men are: we are angry beasts that make war, make love and raise hell. We like to fight, fuck and otherwise demonstrate competence. This is how we know we are men. We also appreciate beautiful women.

On the flip side of this, and part of the same outlook, we also see ourselves as protectors of wives, daughters, sisters and mothers. If the guys from W.A.S.P. showed up and wanted to put a female member of my family into this video, I would punch them in the nuts and probably show them some real intolerance they never would forget. But the women in this video apparently do not have dads or brothers and chose to be involved of their own free will, in exchange for buckets of money. Why should I oppress them by claiming their choice is bad?

SJWs have confused the word for the deed and the tool for the goal. Instead of trying to make women, minorities and gays/transsexuals safer, they have scapegoated not just men but masculinity itself as the source of all their problems. They do not want “equality”; they want to destroy anyone who is not as unequal as they are. We have a term for that: bigotry. And until you call the SJWs on their bigotry, they will continue to invade your genre and re-write history to hide everything they have scapegoated.

Kjeld – Skym (2015)

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Kjeld tackles black metal by drawing a line through all of the bands to capture the concept through history and then pulling out the best and adapting it to a local sound, producing a band that alternates between mid-paced and high speed melodic black metal that balances its pleasant sounds with savage primitive riffing. The result introduces enough variation that melody serves as a technique within a palette, and brings out the implications of the phrases of the more chromatic riffing, allowing songs to mature into a clear perspective rising above the chaos.

The closest comparison to this band may come from second-wave bands like Kvist and Setherial, who shortened the longer melodies of Emperor and Burzum and focused on longer songs that brought forth the full melody later in it, more like the cosmic ambient music that inspired much of black metal. Similarly, Kjeld like to begin songs with a theme that develops in clash with more brutally straightforward riffing, then let it develop in order to be obliterated, then be reborn in its final form leading to re-interpretation of the initial theme. This effect works remarkably well as it allows songs to have the intensity of Zyklon-B (the band) with an endpoint like the flowing moments from Eucharist or Ancient, albeit in a style of melody that fits more in the local area from which this band came, much as the Sinister Diabolical Summoning brought forth a sense of if not ancestral at least familiar melody.

Skym maintains its intensity throughout the album mostly by varying tension internally in songs so that despite the high rate of fire the music never falls into a sonic wallpaper of uniform consistency that, even if intense, loses its power by becoming predictably so and relegating itself to a kind of drone. Instead, these songs develop as their own creations, and song structure varies moderately as a result, producing a series of listening experiences that put together create a power greater than the mere sum of their parts. Without putting itself in a camp or time period, Kjeld upholds the strength of black metal in both savagery and beauty, making this album the rare uncompromising listening experience that voices itself in a style fitting both its own experience and the ideal of the genre.

Uncreation – The Great Delusion (2014)

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Australia band Uncreation combines several underground metal styles: trudging death metal in the Immolation style, bursting speed metal like Artillery, and technical death metal for transitions. Avoiding explicit hard rock, it cycles between different ideas compatible with death metal, but focuses too much on trudging beats like the Suffocation clones of the late 1990s. Technically adept, with highly proficient drumming, the band makes good work of these many styles and throws in some excellent riffs with an eye for transitions that increase emotional momentum even when slowing down. Vocals are of the raspy chihuahua-on-meth variety interpersed with the basement toad guttural that paces the beat during trudging parts. Within The Great Delusion is a promising album, buried under too much trope, with not enough emphasis placed on cultivating a mood and developing it instead of using it as a conduit to return to the trudge. Apparently the band has disbanded after the untimely death of their drummer Rowley Hill, and has made this album available for free and legal download.

#metalgate: SJW-controlled Metal-Archives.com censors realist reviewers

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SJW-controlled site Metal-Archives.com, famous for its desire to regulate what is “metal” and exclude non-leftist viewpoints from the site, has deleted user “bitterman” who gained notoriety for his realistic, masculinized reviews which expressed extreme intolerance of insincere, manipulative and mediocre metal. All of the writings of this person are now removed with no chance for the user to recover the hours of effort he put into the site.

Bitterman made a name for himself for thoughtfully but viciously reviewing the excess and stupor of contemporary metal, using a somewhat tongue-in-cheek “metal warrior” style as he skewered perpetrators of false metal like Watain. According to one commentator, “he paid the price for holding for-profit poseurs to the same standards as Onward to Golgotha and early Burzum” because of his vicious attacks on all that pretended to be underground metal and failed. Many of Metal-Archives.com’s staff are gamers who undoubtedly are aware of the SJW incursion into gaming that prompted #gamergate as well.

Wherever SJWs go, they censor all that is natural and right: masculinity, warfare, conflict, elitism, quality and excellence. Then they replace these with twee indie-rock metal hybrids and a policy of “acceptance” that rejects quality bands under the same excuse that Wikipedia uses, “notability,” while promoting the kind of hybrid dreck that 90s underground metallers would have thought belonged in the bin with Sonic Youth and Rites of Spring, not raging death metal and black metal.

Again we see the problem of allowing SJWs to infiltrate metal through media as, using that power, they change what it means to be “metal” while trying to purge metal of what makes it unique. At the end of this agenda, they will create a neutered form of metal-rock that will promptly collapse because it lacks all of what makes metal appeal to its audience, and the genre will collapse like the Soviet Union or Pol Pot’s regime. The SJWs will not care, because they got their 15 minutes of fame.

Thantifaxath – Sacred White Noise (2014)

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The audience for this album are the same people who are fooled by magic shows at carnivals, speak in tongues at revivals, buy the latest iGadget sight unseen, and smoke in bed. If you claim to like this album, you are either not paying attention or merely a fool. Like every sell out, it is designed to cater to the lowest common denominator, which generally recruits idiots.

Thantifaxath combine trivialist “progressive,” minor key black metal riffs, and indie rock to make what they call “depressive suicidal black metal.” Songs start with basic black metal-ish riffs, but instead of featuring a varied internal texture, these are uniform with an equal number of strums per chord and chords generally changing on the beat, creating a drone effect. The band then play “progressive” riffs that amount to showy but not all that complex guitar and sonic technique used as distraction, and then get to the main point, which is minor key indie-rock riffs that feature the hook to the song. If you can imagine LSD guitar practice plus a basement black metal band ending up in a cover of someting off Daydream Nation, that is the sum total of Thantifaxath.

While the sin committed by Sacred White Noise is insincerity, its musical failing comes from being essentially contentless and relying on fireworks or pop techniques to fill in the void. What does this album communicate? According to people who claim to love DSBM, they find an emotional rush from this in realizing how horrible life truly is. But how is that different from emo? Late 80s emo achieved the same thing but it kept the pop more visible, so it could cry through the tears, as the saying went. This band wallows in its sadness and then plays random music over the top to distract from how fundamentally simple it is.

Thantifaxath use questionable “black metal” riffs. The riffing is essentially static such as that which bands like Nile or Necrophagist used, where the point was to play a chord in a certain rhythmic pattern and then add an extended fill so it seemed like a death metal riff, despite having more in common with Elvis or Lynyrd Skynyrd than death metal. These parallel the “progressive” playing, which seems to focus on finding a whacky guitar technique (whacky: odd, ironic, rarely used — because it is useless for expressing anything but musical confusion) and repeating it at different notes quickly and erratically. Sometimes this becomes comical when these patterns resemble familiar phone numbers or radio jingles. Its indie rock is clearly its heart, because the full melodic hook comes out here, but it does not distinguish itself from thousands of other bands in this area.

In summary, Thantifaxath create directionless melodic wandering at a slow pace with a hookish atmosphere in three styles, doing none well and fooling only those who have no particular ability to pay attention for prolonged periods of time. At its best, its melodies resemble the wandering style that Celestia brought out, but this style owes more to lack of purpose than to any idea or feeling it communicates. An astute observer will notice that for all of its supposed variation, this album expresses only one mood and it never changes — only is interrupted by distraction — and that it applies technique uniformly to create sonic wallpaper from even the most “different” pieces. To its audience, who apparently are so deep in self-pity that “depressive suicidal black metal” seems important, I have a word of advice: cut harder.

Bands and labels, please put your stuff on YouTube

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Bands, labels and artists… we need to have a little talk about YouTube. Specifically, the absence of your official and legitimate releases on YouTube uploaded by you so that royalties go to the bands.

Like many of us, I work in an office. There are many like it, but this one is mine. I have a computer where I am expected to do work. But who is fooled? Most “work” gets done in a few hours in the morning, and the rest of the day is dodging meetings and doing paperwork.

While I have this sort of expensive computer, fat internet access, and these nice Harmon/Kardon speakers, I like to put all this high technology to use as a $4 radio. A $4 radio where I can choose what the DJ plays.

I use YouTube to find music, like many others. The reason is simple: almost no workplaces filter YouTube, and no evidence is left behind. I am not keeping pirated music on my computer and I am not pirating music. I am watching videos. True, these videos seem to feature only the cover image of an album while music (just coincidentally from that album) plays. But nonetheless, technicallyTM they are videos.

Many of you do the same.

I have a problem with this situation. When I want to check out, say, an early death metal classic, I type it in the search blank on YouTube. Then a video comes up. But it does not belong to the band, the label, the musicians, their family, dogs or friends. It belongs to some random guy named “BronyThugLife69″ from Hoboken.

Why does this matter? As I type this email, the Deicide video I am enjoying has 132,068 views. At the royalty rate that YouTube pays, which is about 1/10 of a cent per play, that means BronyThugLife69 has earned over a thousand dollars for this video. He’s making bank for the simple act of pasting a cover image onto an MP3, uploading it to YouTube and not getting busted.

Now I click on BronyThugLife69’s profile. Oh look — he has not ten, not a hundred, but a thousand videos. It takes about five minutes to paste ten MP3s and a cover image into a video creation program, save to WMV, and upload to YouTube. If only a hundred people click on each of his videos per month, he’s making a professional salary.

Now, you may ask, why do I not simply upload my own versions of my favorite bands?

Unlike BronyThugLife69, I do not want to make money from someone else’s work. This band wrote the music, got a record contract, recorded the album, promoted it and toured on it. They deserve the money. I could always upload videos without receiving compensation, but that is a boring hobby and I get nothing from it.

Since YouTube is unlikely to go away in the near future, people like me will continue to use it. Bands and labels should, instead of blowing off this opportunity, upload their own albums and make sure the checks go to the band. If they are too lazy to do this, I will do it for them for a royalty of ten percent of their royalties.

This is not difficult. People will listen to your music either way. You can take it down, but that requires constant vigilance because someone else will in turn upload the missing Deicide video. If the band uploads it, the cash goes directly to them.

Is YouTube piracy? Probably, but not really. Most of us are checking out new music or listening to favorites we own back at home. We don’t care that the sound quality is not good. Most will use earphones, or these tiny desktop speakers, because we are in noisy environments or quiet ones and we have to hide the evil devil metal we are enjoying from our coworkers who might exorcise and eviscerate us if they knew.

If you bands and labels could get your act together and upload your own stuff, you would enable me to enjoy guilt-free listening to classics while I file these TPS reports. Me, and millions of other faceless workers at anonymous jobs in generic companies across the world, would really appreciate it.

Maanes – Under Ein Blodraud Maane

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When a genre performs a postmortem on itself as black metal is about to do, it looks back through the years not only to find its peaks, but to find its forgeries. Like the first real black metal forgery, Ulver Nattens Madrigal, Maanes is an artistic fraud that uses the technique of black metal for its own sake, without having any idea of the underlying expression. It does not matter what that expression is because it cannot be policed with a list of rules, but the fact that it exists in actual black metal and not here is a matter of historical record.

“Sensitive guy” metal was nothing new when this was released. Opeth had already been mincing around the edges of the underground for a few years, following up on melodic softer death metal from Tiamat and Cemetary. Paradise Lost was huge and so was the idea of “crossover,” since everyone and their dog realized black metal had a narrow set of ideas that required exceptional people to implement, and that with those exhausted there was now a market for imitators. Maanes starts with the proposition that Burzum can be cloned, and to make that clone palatable to the kids emerging from the suburbs like spores from fungus, this clone could be hybridized with light progressive rock like Pink Floyd. The result is 90% black metal tropes laid out in mellow songs that develop seemingly independently of the melodic and corresponding artistic implications of the riffs, making an experience that is pleasant on the surface but leaves a gnawing emptiness from its failure to deliver the kind of profound transport and insightful revelation that black metal provided.

What makes this release hard to attack is that it is well-executed, well-produced and carefully concealed. Maanes are not amateurs; more likely, they are guys who got tired of having no success in other genres despite being better musicians than the people who were making the big bucks and getting their names in the newspapers. Like other Burzum clones of the era, most notably Abyssic Hate, Maanes make good use of Burzum sweep technique and even give a nod to Filosofem with the production. Using grandiose keyboards alongside somewhat obvious riffs capitalizing on known black metal patterns, Maanes keep up the black metal “sound” but these songs never go through the emotional process of discovering what lies beneath and so rapidly the listening experience becomes like hearing a front-loading washer finish up a duvet cover, if the washer had a good background in rock guitar.

The tragedy of black metal is that while it cannot be cloned it can be imitated, and so bands like Ulver and Maanes emerged to put a black metal surface on the same stuff they would have done with their Oingo Boingo cover bands a few years before. Interestingly, the technical competence as songwriters of these bands has declined over the years as nu-black has set its sights more on punk than on progressive rock. The approach remains the same and the effect similarly hollow, leaving listeners wanting more but not sure they want more of this. These sprawling songs carefully disguise how much they repeat their themes, often for seven minutes at a time, in what is essentially verse chorus songwriting that every two repetitions interrupts itself with a brief divergence. Newer bands do not even bother to do that, but make straight-up pop songs with black metal distortion and a few riff archetypes. Nods to Burzum, Darkthrone and Mayhem bubble to the surface throughout this release but it is unable to build context for its riffs to create the kind of atmosphere that those founding bands manipulated so well. The result is like every other aspect of modern society, ultra-competent on the surface and directionless within.