Thoughts on Obliveon’s Nemesis

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The first album by the virtuoso technical death metal Obliveon, From This Day Forward, is a highly recommended release. Intricate and sophisticated guitar riffs along with clear, bright, shining bass grooving lines that are not just the echo of the guitars really catches my attention. The whole album is evocative, setting the epitome for technical bands today.

Which brings me to the following considerations. I turned down the second album, Nemesis a few days ago merely because I couldn’t find what I liked when it came to Obliveon: interesting bass lines that are composed in a way in which it is obviously competing for center stage with the two guitars. All without being too boasting, or too technically-oriented for the sake of showing off.

This is the reason why I love From This Day Forward.

With disappointment and bewilderment, I judged Nemesis as an album of low quality song-writing. But after I went through the whole album again, I realized this conclusion was just naive and ridiculous. We can’t just say Nemesis lost the spirit and the original intention of the band, but more specifically that they worked on a different dimension to explore how the sound of Obliveon could go on.

You can hear more complicated and fantastic guitar riffs which are connected tightly together in the way of unprecedented reach. Of course, undoubtedly, the bass parts in Nemesis are not as catchy and flexible as before, ending up being the echo of the guitars. This apparently unreasonable (I assumed they would carry this character on forever) change even made me check whether the line-up was preserved between the two albums. But by appreciating the more sophisticated guitars that make you catch your breath at every moment, this album succeeds in bringing an intense experience for technical death metal fans..

Unfortunately, their second album does not seem to bring the same feeling of overall fulfillment as From This Day Forward. Maybe I did not explore or experience the album thoroughly, failing to catch what Nemesis is supposed to deliver as a whole.

Obscura and Osho

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If, like me, the reader has also purchased the latest reissue of Gorguts’ Obscura, he will find that the booklet’s back side is graced by the following quote by Osho:

The journey is long and the path is pathless and one has to be alone. There is no map and no one to guide. But there is no alternative. One cannot escape it, one cannot evade it. One has to go on the journey. The goal seems impossible but the urge to go on is intrinsic. The need is deep in the soul.

Although definitely not typical of a 1990s death metal record, these lines describe the drive that produced this almost accidental album. But aren’t all such savant releases at least partially accidental?

The spiritual and existentialist atmosphere that this quote evokes actually reflects the nature of the album as a whole and are in perfect alignment with its lyrics.

Some metal albums have beautiful lyrics accompanying the music. But the best albums bring sound and word together to shape a living entity that takes lodge in man’s heart.

Latest being drowned
In fictive degradation
Coming depression revolved
Around an Earth
Nostalgia excludes the whole

As spleen takes over me
Resound, the echoes of my threnodies
And then the fact of being
Has no longer meaning
The hymns of light
They’ll sing once I’ll be gone

Reverie appears cause
Existence collapse

Nostalgia
Sadness shall obnuilate

Sadness, feels, the desolated

Desperately lost within
Lament, pain and misery
The more lies burden lives,
The more I am dying
The realm of light
I’ll reach once I’ll…

Latest feeling drowned
In lucid contradiction
Coming relation revolved
Around a heart
Nostalgia excludes the whole

Remember the fallen (Adam Gadahn)

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Remember those who never had a chance. Like many of us, they grew up in a wasteland of broken families, pointless wage-slave jobs, hippie ideals and grim social collapse mundanities, a utopia of fond visions and a dystopia of nightmarish collisions with the reality those denied. They had nothing to look forward to but a mortgage in the burbs, a family ending in divorce, and a society which systematically disregards the beautiful and zeroes in on the failed, the corrupt and the deceptive. A world coated in advertising and saturated with deceit.

It is my unfortunate duty to relay to you that Adam Gadahn, a metalhead and devout fan of Incantation and Timeghoul, passed away in January by drone strike. As the lapdog media relates:

Officials also announced that a separate strike killed Adam Gadahn, an American who became a prominent propagandist for al Qaeda, was close to Osama bin Laden, and had a $1 million bounty on his head. The deaths bring to seven the number of Americans killed in drone strikes, six of them inadvertently.

The White House said it was unaware the four were present at the sites, which were hit on Jan. 14 and Jan. 19 near the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. President Barack Obama apologized to the families of the hostages and said he took full responsibility as commander in chief.

This conflict is beyond politics. Yes, we have divided into factions but no, that is not our problem. Our problem rebirths itself time and again because it is within. We have become rotten, whores to our own independence and manipulators so canny we have even fooled ourselves. This civilization has sold itself snake oil for centuries and the result is the continual destruction of those with spirit, sensitivity and the guts to do something about it. Those who conform, lower standards and follow trends always win. This is the source of evil the real thing, as opposed to the supernatural scapegoat that the credulous choose to believe exists.

Evil is real. Its name is error, and all error consists of separating our expectations from reality. That eventually becomes a devotion to lying about the split between mental image and the world beyond, at which point we retreat into a fantasy existence of mental projection, desires and emotions. As a wise poet once said:

Take your instinct by the reins
You’d better best to rearrange
What we want and what we need
Has been confused, been confused

We are confused. Our wars no longer advance anything but the defense of the status quo, and all of us hate that. We all admit the problem is morons and that 90% of everything sucks, but no one is willing to get past the sacred cows lest some opportunist step up and whip up a lynch mob to tear down the heretic. “The nerve of that guy — he said our society is actually failing. What a rube!”

Above you can see a letter written by Gadahn back in the day. It contains some of his opinions on death metal and literature. He had great taste in metal, came from a broken home in a broken time, and did his best. Rest in peace, Adam.

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.

A brief history of the Death Metal Underground

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In response to recent questions, I present the following (brief) history of the Death Metal Underground:

The predecessor of the Death Metal Underground, the Dark Legions Archives, started as the project of a hacking group back in the 1980s of which I was a member. Most people did not use computers and saw them as “totally uncool” and for nerds only. A loose network existed of bulletin board systems (BBSs) which were accessed by using a modem to dial over phone lines and connect to another computer. These offered information in the precursor to web pages called “g-files” or “text files” which were ASCII documents containing information cribbed from other sources or written from personal experience. Many of these were of a hacker nature, describing the workings of the phone systems and different computer systems, but others focused on music. Crossover between the hacker community and the metal community occurred frequently since many middle-class kids had access to C-64 or Apple II computers. I describe this event in my article “Hacker Metal”, which talks about how a lack of information prompted hackers to share files about metal.

Free speech became an important issue. BBSs were individual property and system operators (“sysops”) often deleted messages or users that disagreed with them. This was my first glance at the tyrant present in ordinary people and how even the best rules failed to prevent it. For example, some sysops formed an alliance of free speech boards, and their first act — before the digital ink was even dry on the words “free speech” — was to determine what speech was acceptable and what was not. The vast majority of users simply saw the words “free speech” and took it at face value.

This hacking group appeared one evening through the work of a small group of people. We wanted to make a force for free speech and rebellion against the choking society of the 1980s, which was caught between its 1950s commercialism and its 1960s libertinism. While contemporary writers often focus on the political aspects of the 80s, the real story was in the massive social conflict going on at this time. We ran a series of boards on which you had actual free speech. We let anyone post anything. This meant that perfectly ordinary political discussions overlapped with the release of hacked information and any number of radical theories, including anti-government sentiment, violent atheism and blasphemy, racialism, Satan-endorsing metal lyrics, Communism, and holocaust denial. It was like getting launched into the roughest crowd that one can imagine, where self-described intellectuals rubbed shoulders with complete society dropouts who lived under bridges in the light of their monitors. We were fortunate to have as users not only members of one of the most thriving hacker communities in the world but also students from nearby universities and advanced placement style high schools. This was a brainy bunch but they were not prone to following rules. Since that time, I have viewed this kind of “free speech” as essential to actual communication, and it has made me wonder how much privileged information actually needs to stay secret.

The files that I had been writing since the mid-1980s on topics ranging from anarchy to hacking to heavy metal had attracted an audience back in the BBS days, specifically on a type of single-password BBS called an “AE” (for Ascii Express, the software that allowed the standalone mode required to achieve it), continued to find an audience. A site named the “Metal AE” was a world-wide HQ for metalhead hackers back in the day, and I started posting them there. As technology proliferated, I moved the files to an anonymous FTP site, then a Gopher site, and finally to a web site. At first it was a simple server running on one of my computers, but later, it moved to commercial hosting. At this point, the “free speech” notions of our group began to conflict with the need of commerce to control its public image by avoiding the type of “offensive” material that it hosted. For the next decade the site moved constantly as complaints drove us off ISPs and free hosts.

As time went on, I saw that people were reading the philosophy writings as much as the metal ones. I had pioneered “e-zine” or electronic zine publishing, combining 1980s g-file culture with the rising indie music zine scene, with a literary publication called “the undiscovered country” during the early days of the 1990s, but now, I began publishing in a style that would later be assimilated by web logs. I wrote small essay-screed hybrids and posted them to the web site. The essay form took inspiration from early French and American writers who put together pamphlets and newspaper articles in which they argued strongly for a mixture of political and social changes. As a result, these essays did not resemble the kind of conversational material that most people posted to their internet sites, in which they intermixed personal events with political or social analysis, and that enraged people even more, which encouraged me to work with more extreme ideas. This is why the Dark Legions Archive in the early 1990s was a bizarre mixture of occultism, death metal, trolling, blasphemy and realist philosophy.

If you, Dear Readers, have further questions based on the above, feel free to ask them in the comments.

#metalgate: SJW insanity spreads to circular firing squad

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#metalgate came about as a reaction to the growing intrusion of social justice dogma into heavy metal through journalists, bloggers and indie-metal bands. All of them share the same basic ideology, which is a demasculinization of society and forced conformity to political correctness. This is not merely 1990s style political correctness but a rigid ideology which goes in search of victims to defend, which gives power to those who follow this ideology.

At this point, the situation has passed into comedy. Noted mincingly PC blog Boing Boing posted a picture of a kitty that makes a gentle iteration on a well-known joke, which is that if we are choosing our identities and denying the obvious physical reality, why not choose anything? Satire includes the helisexual, the A-10 Thunderbolt and was even satirized in left-of-Pravda The New York Times.

Let’s face it: people think it is ridiculous, and therefore both funny and provocative in that “neighbor playing ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ on repeat at 4am” way, that people “identify” as something which they are physically just… well, there’s no gentle way to say this… not.

This however provokes ire from the SJWs, who see the idea that you cannot arbitrarily choose your sex as being an attack on the idea of transsexualism. While it may be indirectly so, it seems more that what is being attacked is the idea of arbitrary identity of all forms, and the attackers are laying into the method of transsexuals asserting themselves, while not making a comment on transsexualism itself (neither attacking nor approving).

The blog in question backed down, cowered and apologized in response to this blatant Mau-Mauing. What else could they do? They have done it to others for almost a decade, so turnabout is fair play. Their statement:

We’re sorry for this offensive tweet. Its transphobia was unintentional, but the hurt it caused is our responsibility

Perhaps represents a high-water mark for SJW intrusion into Western culture. When you cannot use a kitty to make fun of a stupid method that some people are using to force you to validate their life choices, without necessarily commenting on those life choices, the days of the legalized witch-hunt are here.

Heavy metal as a brand

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Most metalheads, not being of the commercially-minded type, rarely stop to think about heavy metal as a brand. Media sells a certain image with heavy metal, just like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Jack Daniels whisky, both of which are highly successful brands. Metal forms more of a meta-brand, symbolizing rebellion and bad boy lawlessness. That image can be used to sell a lot of products, since consumers really hate the idea that they are merely being good sheep by buying whisky and transportation.

In commercials, television and movies, rebellious characters are often introduced with heavy metal in the background. Fight scenes in both football and blockbusters often get the heavy riff treatment, as do superhero epics. Bizarrely, House Hunters — a television program about people choosing which house to buy — uses AC/DC style hard rock riffing in the background to its real estate epics. Anywhere boldness, bravery, rebellion and defiance must be shown, heavy metal is the appropriate soundtrack.

Much of this can be seen through the use of well-known bands in movies. Check out how many soundtracks Slayer has contributed to, for example. The royalties from those might even outpace their album sales. At some point in the future, perhaps metal bands will put out albums and tour so that they can sell their music for commercials, television, movies, sports/MMA and house hunting. Now look at AC/DC. Metallica. Iron Maiden. Pantera. Anthrax. Compare to Morbid Angel and Darkthrone.

How to get into black metal

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An experienced music listener who is new to black metal asked for a doorway into the genre. This raises the question of how to appreciate black metal, which like most things in life is mostly mental preparation. Without context, black metal seems like any other loud genre, and it becomes harder to distinguish the newer tryhard junk from the original.

The best way to gain context is to walk through the history of the genre from oldest to newest. This approach, common in art, literature and philosophy, allows people to see what developed from what and what the reasoning for that was and therefore, what the reasoning is behind what is here now.

The result of this query was a simple list to urge people to explore this genre further. This list originates in the history of black metal music, but also in influences that can be identified among the bands as immediately relevant. Toward the end it extends more into general conjecture based on what shows up later in highly different form among the black metal works of relevance listed above it.

I. Proto- Metal

  1. Bathory – The Return
  2. Slayer – Hell Awaits
  3. Hellhammer – Apocalyptic Raids
  4. Sodom – Persecution Mania

II. Interim

  1. Sarcofago – INRI
  2. Merciless – The Awakening
  3. Blasphemy – Fallen Angel of Doom
  4. Von – Satanic Blood

III. Black metal

  1. Immortal – Diabolical Full Moon Mysticism
  2. Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
  3. Burzum – Burzum/Aske
  4. Emperor/Enslaved – Split
  5. Darkthrone – Under a Funeral Moon
  6. Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon
  7. Varathron – His Majesty in the Swamp
  8. Havohej – Dethrone the Son of God
  9. Impaled Nazarene – Ugra-Karma
  10. Samael – Worship Him

IV. Second Wave

  1. Gorgoroth – Antichrist
  2. Graveland – The Celtic Winter
  3. Ancient – Svartalvheim
  4. Sacramentum – Far Away From the Sun
  5. Ildjarn – Forest Poetry
  6. Summoning – Dol Guldur
  7. Zyklon-B – Blood Must Be Shed
  8. Gehenna – First Spell
  9. Behemoth – From the Pagan Vastlands

V. Extended Contemporary

  1. Demoncy – Joined in Darkness
  2. Sammath – Godless Arrogance
  3. Mutiilation – Remains of a Ruined, Cursed, Dead Soul
  4. Absurd – Asgardsrei

For immediate death metal background to black metal:

  1. At the Gates – The Red in the Sky is Ours
  2. Carnage – Dark Recollections
  3. Godflesh – Streetcleaner

For heavy metal background to black metal:

  1. Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break the Oath
  2. Venom – Possessed
  3. Angel Witch – Angel Witch
  4. Destruction/Tormentor – Demos

For hardcore punk background to all metal:

  1. Discharge – Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing
  2. Amebix – No Sanctuary
  3. The Exploited – Death Before Dishonour
  4. Cro-Mags – Age of Quarrel

For electronic music background to underground metal:

  1. Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
  2. Tangerine Dream – Phaedra

For progressive rock background to metal:

  1. King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King
  2. Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans
  3. Camel – Camel
  4. Greenslade – Greenslade

For classical background to metal:

  1. Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 4
  2. Richard Wagner – Tannhäuser
  3. Franz Schubert – Unfinished Symphony
  4. Mozart – Symphony 41
  5. Haydn – Symphony 82
  6. Bach – Partita No. 5 in G major

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.

How to analyze music

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Recent posting of an interesting article about transcendent realization in metal provoked a number of confused comments, none of which addressed the substance of the article. The objection was to modern metal, which many view as a misbegotten genre, and to secondarily to the bands involved.

As a thought experiment, I thought I might share some thoughts on analysis of metal. You will not find nice easy binaries and “objective” analyses here, more like qualitative assessments in a shifting frame of reference. Mostly these are questions which do not resolve to nice, uniform and balanced answers. They embrace the controversy.

However, you will find that as you look back over the journey — and that is the best metaphor for experiencing music, that of looking into a field of data — you will see that taken as a whole, the details point toward an overall picture. Your job then is to assess that against all other music and place it in context.

I start with these general questions:

  1. What changes between start and finish?
  2. What patterns can be found?
  3. Do these patterns form a language of sorts?
  4. If so, does it lead to the conclusion?

Art is a communication. Art that extends over time, like novels or music, takes the listener from a starting point to a conclusion. It is not very powerful, usually, to have the precepts equal the conclusion, but sometimes — rarely — a full circle can be revealing, like when one recognizes how utterly futile an idea was when applying it to an experience, and ends up abandoning it. Patterns can consist of any data that is discernibly isolated (relevant to all of its parts) and can often change meaning when repeated. Language uses patterns to build meaning by expressing tokens in context and changing that context to apply more attributes to those tokens. Language leads to a conclusion when internal conflict results in a clear answer as to what has become victorious, been destroyed or a merging of ideas.

These lead to other questions, such as regarding technique:

  1. Does this technique fit a need, or is the need made to fit the technique?
  2. Is it evocative of any real-world experience or vivid thoughts?
  3. Are the values of proportion, balance and purpose applied in this use of the technique?
  4. Is there another more relevant technique that was not use?

The biggest question here is whether the technique is used for a purpose or not. A band that merely makes a list of all techniques, assigns them to songs and then barfs out a song using them will not only be boring, but will miss an opportunity to communicate something more than the technique — including composition — itself. The worst problem here is the “wallpaper effect” where the band does not vary the intensity within each song, creating a listening experience like listening to a faucet on full blast.

I also suggest the following for seeing past aesthetic:

  1. If the lyrics were absent, how well would this piece stand up?
  2. If I played this on a kazoo or acoustic guitar, would it still sound as powerful?
  3. Is there depth to this imagery, or is the song a framing for the presentation of an image?

I find it useful to have a smaller CD player or computer in another room with not-so-excellent speakers. You can fire up the music on one of those and listen from a room or two away, which creates a sort of ad hoc filter that removes the value of production. You end up hearing root notes and rhythm the most, but also lose many of the flourishes that hide the actual music.

Then you should ask of its artistic relevance:

  1. What does this piece of music express?
  2. Does this address something relevant to life itself?
  3. What have I learned or experienced through this piece?

These questions explore significance. That exists on both a musical and thematic level, with the best music having the two operating at once toward the same ends. Music that is relevant expresses something we know of in life, and finds a way to make it beautiful and create transcendence from it. Clarity, or truth about reality, can itself have a transcendent effect in that it clears aside confusion and opens up a pathway to future creation. Good art creates a world that you want to step into and help fight it out so that the best, the beautiful, the good and the interesting prevails over Big Macs and Cheetos.

And then, finally, your duty to the reader:

  1. How many times could I listen to this without getting bored?
  2. In what situations would I discuss with others what this conveyed?
  3. How does this expand the metal lexicon of technique and ideas?

If you are writing as a reviewer, your readers do not have infinite time or money. They can purchase a few albums but are going to rely on these for enjoyment and learning over the course of the coming years. Remember your Bell Curve: most albums are in the middle, with some outright turds to the left and a few real standouts to the right. Your job is to pick the standouts because people can love these for years, and/or some of the high middle albums. Do not be afraid to be vicious. This is the money of normal people being spent on this music, and if they end up dissatisfied, it creates more landfill and causes them to despair on quality. Whatever is rewarded in the marketplace predominates, meaning you get more of it, so any sane person will be strict about quality.

With that being said…

Here’s a couple tracks for you to try. The only comments that are worthwhile are analytical ones. If you want to call someone a fag, go to one of the other threads and call me a fag. I got over it long ago and now I just ask for phone numbers or cock pics.