Phil Anselmo put a sour taste into the mouth of Dimebag Darrell and Pantera worshipers worldwide by making some white supremacist signs at the end of Dimebash 2016. Much to my amusement, he immediately backpedaled and insisted that these remarks were his idea of a joke. Like most of these incidents, the importance is not so much in what Phil Anselmo actually believes, but in how the people around him react. As a general rule, you people have overreacted. For instance, the good folk at MetalSucks (always a bastion of… well… something) struggled to reconcile their simple belief that racism is bad with their other simple belief that Phil Anselmo’s musical efforts are worthy of their time and attention.
Here at DMU, we’ve learned to deal with the fallout of our idols’ actual, provable crimes, such as the arson and murder of the Norwegian black metal scene to the point that we’re perhaps desensitized to thoughtcrimes, especially since we can’t yet peer into Anselmo’s head and accurately determine whether he’s a racist, or trawling for attention, or some combination of both. What matters is that we don’t jump to conclusions based on the unknowable. Besides, we have enough evidence of Anselmo contributing to Pantera.
Avantasia is arguably a notable power metal act and perhaps one of the EU’s most profitable exporters of cheese. Man can’t live on cheese alone, but DMU occasionally attracts fans of mainstream power metal, and sometimes for all its goofiness it’s less idiotic than whatever else is trendy. Ghostlights will officially release tomorrow, but the German entertainment news site Bild (at least I think it’s lightweight news; meine Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut) is currently offering a stream of the album for those who want to preview the album. As is typical for this band, Ghostlights will feature an all-star roster of power metal musicians, and is generally very accessible and poppy; saccharine even once listeners acclimate to the sound. We might give it a review someday; no guarantees.
Mark Squilla, a city councilman from Philadelphia, recently proposed a bill that would create a police-accessible registry of entertainers who sought to perform in the city’s venues, with the intent of allowing the police to vet acts and have a voice in whether they would be given licenses to perform. It seems the citizens of Philadelphia weren’t too pleased about this; while Squilla soon claimed that “…this provision is NOT intended to restrict artistic expression or any kind of entertainment, but rather is aimed at addressing public safety and quality of life issues,” opponents of the bill cited various concerns, most notably their belief that the bill would not actually protect the public, and that law enforcement should not be given such wide ranging powers. This sort of legislation, in fact, seems to me like the sort of thing that would result in police trying to keep even slightly controversial entertainers out of their city, or even ones they simply didn’t like if corruption was particularly rampant. If the bill passes in any form resembling its current one, it may create a great deal of difficulty for metal musicians seeking to perform for their fans in the area.
After an unnecessarily long and artificially down-tuned spoken introduction, Temple of Gnosis’s De Secretis Naturae Alchymica introduces the listener to a “mean” sounding chord backed by some kind of disco beat which comes off as not only cheesy but out of place after the ridiculous introduction. It doesn’t work quite as well for Temple as Gnosis as it did for Gehenna on First Spell, but they do rescue the music by switching to a more sober midpaced approach.
The music here basically consists of a standard rock beat, as well a short, meandering tune that keeps coming back in the chords of the keyboard, the power chords of the guitar or the high notes of the lead guitar. The vocals keep blabbering on top of this simple motif that creates no expectation, intensifies nothing, is not designed for immersion and rather just serves as a mantle for “dark-minded” pretensions. It’s the sort of music teenage witches might listen to if they feel particularly evil. It’s not really convincing, and if it were actually scary or dangerous, they wouldn’t get anywhere near it.
The difference between meaningful occultism and the pop posturing that most people confuse with the former is a subtle one which may be very difficult to discern for profane minds. We may think of music in general as a good reflection of how the concept of occult forces and symbols interact, what it evokes in the eye of the mind, what it gets in touch with and how much content the symbol in front of us actually hides. That is, good occultism works when the seemingly confusing or encoded meanings in the symbols are layered with meaning, a meaning that is concrete and not only apparent, which is the hallmark of its posturing pop counterpart. This can be seen in good music in general, but to set a good example, we turn again to the music in albums such as The Red in the Sky is Ours and Onward to Golgotha where every aspect at several vertical and horizontal levels conspires to produce a collection of possible interpretations whose ultimate consequences mostly consciously imprinted in it. Projects such as Temple of Gnosis who are self-styled occultists in music only talk about being so in their lyrics, their paper-thin music being a living example of what is meant by “empty words”.
Amon Amarth is basically ‘beginner’ metal, although sometimes it’s very hard for us at DMU to hold that against them. Their latest effort, Jomsviking, comes out on March 25th and is already available for preorder from Metal Blade Records. The provided promotional video for “First Kill” continues Amon Amarth’s legacy of basic rock music with death metal aesthetics, and the fact that the band has stuck to this approach for their entire career (although their first few albums were allegedly a bit more complex) is non-news at best. After this album’s release, Amon Amarth will be going on a lengthy tour of the US with Entombed A.D and Exmortus that will last most of April and May.
While Morbid Angel resolves its lineup issues and recovers from the public relations fiasco that was Illud Divinum Insanus, David Vincent is exploring a musical interest that until recently must’ve been churning under the surface. So far, Vincent’s excursions into country music have happened alongside Danny B. Harvey (who also performed in The Head Cat alongside the recently deceased Lemmy Kilmister), and besides the performance in this video he’s also penned an original song (“Buyer Beware”). So far, his contributions to that genre seem to be reasonably competent, but I don’t know enough about country to adequately judge this. Furthermore, David Vincent isn’t the first metal musician to make the crossover; Jeffrey Walker’s Welcome to Carcass Country comes to mind.
So Tau Cross’s debut made our best of 2015 list. That should make their upcoming short tour a worthwhile endeavor; time will obviously tell us whether that was an accurate appraisal. This group (featuring members of Amebix and Voivod amongst others) will be playing a few dates in the USA on the boundary of March and April, as well as two in Canada. Furthermore, they’ll be following it up with a performance at Roadburn in the Netherlands. While this doesn’t provide all that many options for seeing the band perform live, it’s still something to consider if you have an opportunity to see live shows. No supporting acts have been announced yet, but the dates follow:
Mar. 29 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Mar. 31 – Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge Apr. 01 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Cativo Apr. 02 – Toronto, ON @ Coalition Apr. 03 – Montreal, QC @ Katacombs Apr. 04 – Boston, MA @ Middle East Apr. 06 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot and Saddle Apr. 07 – Washington, DC @ The Pinch Apr. 08 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter Apr. 09 – Brooklyn, NY @ Acheron
Decapitated from Poland used to be the darling of many a metalhead back in the 2000s; their original technical death metal style reminiscent of Vader and their youth making for many fruitful marketing campaigns. Nothing of that sort remains; the Decapitated of the current decade is modern, sleek, and understandably pretty banal. Recently, they commissioned an animated music video featuring the talents of Lukasz Rusinek, whom on this video showcases a stark and minimalistic visual style to go along with the chugs. I’m not familiar enough with Decapitated’s early work to say whether their formative work had any merit, but I highly doubt that this is an improvement.
One of the long-running metaphors here at DMU is the metal or grindcore band that adds flute parts to their music in an attempt to seem progressive and intelligent, but in doing so adds nothing of value of interest to their music beyond a slight hint of aesthetic novelty and a couple laughs for those of us who can see through their attempts. The fact that the flute solo that takes up most of of Gojira’s latest brief studio teaser has nothing to do with the rest of the video (some brief scratchings that may become indie-metal songs) only reinforces our understanding.
Most of our coverage of Gojira hasn’t quite been about their musical exploits, but there are certainly some sadistic exceptions if you trawl our archives.
We covered Cirith Gorgor’s latest album a while back; this Dutch black metal band is ahead of many of its compatriots in terms of writing coherent black metal even if they face very stiff competition from local luminaries as Sammath and Kaeck. They’ve since released a music video for a track off Visions of Exalted Lucifier with the help of their record label (Hammerheart Records). It’s got plenty of violent and possibly disturbing imagery, and it generally seems appropriate for the music, but I’m not enough of a filmic expert to say why or how in any specific fashion. The full album will release to the public on February 12th, 2016.