Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect

Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect
Hydra Head, 2008

Justin Broadrick demonstrated through his early works a desire for that moment of unitivity when the conscious mind and emotions synchronized. Through Godflesh, and later Techno Animal and Final, he showed a passion for bringing colossal structures to bear on moments of quiet contemplation. With Jesu, he resurrects his music outside the ghetto that extremist offerings can be, and melds into post-rock disparate influences from industrial, shoegaze, noisepop, and so forth. Jesu, protean as all Broadrick projects are, in turn twisted from more radiantly noisy to its current softer state. On “Why Are We Not Perfect” Jesu moves the slider closest to shoegaze and pop, losing much of the more complicated structuring and sound that made earlier Jesu challenging. This gambit may prove risky: many in the post-rock fanclub would like to leave behind what so rigidly defines rock and brings the moths to its one-size-fits-all dose, and “Why Are Not Perfect” drapes its nearly ecclesiastical encompassing layered sound over the exuberant shuffle beats of rock/pop. Song structures are not linear but follow a verse chorus pattern culminating in a serenity like the moment after a surf crashes on the beach when water lapses into absorbent, silent sand. Less jagged distortion and cleaner, plaintive emo vocals guide each song and sounds elide smoothly from abrasive feedback to silken, reminiscent of shoegaze classics like Medicine and My Bloody Valentine. While this EP satisfies as a taste, and an exploration, this reviewer hopes Broadrick abandons the past — and doesn’t relapse into his influences — so he can keep exploring the seemingly erratic, intense jigsaw song structures he served up on the self-titled Jesu debut.

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Austin, TX

When I write about metal, I often distinguish works — which I consider to, at their best, be art — by how honest they are. It’s fairly easy to tell, although most people find that unnerving. An honest work tries to communicate with you; a dishonest work tries to game you by convincing you it’s something it’s not, so that you do x, or y or z that benefits those who made it. It’s a virus, in other words.

Dishonest works are generally the product of The Hipster, which is any person who tries to be hip for the sake of their own ego, instead of having a useful function of any kind. Hipsters are parasites on the social scene in that they want attention for being unexceptional, and since they can’t succeed at life by being exceptional — including making good music, being people we’d like to know, etc — they become dramatic and draw attention to themselves with increasingly radical styles of dress and behavior. If you ever find someone doing something humiliating, stupid, freakish, or pointless while slyly watching you out of the corner of their eye, you’ve found the same psychology.

It’s not much different from parasitic religions that convince people to fail at life so they can succeed at the board game called “What God Likes.” I’m not saying life is about success, or material success, just that if you want to have a good life, you need to have some function and challenge yourself to do it well. Hipsters don’t do that. They want the reward without the work.

We have a hipster core here in Texas. It’s called Austin. Hipsters are fond of one of many modern illusions, a socialized liberalism — a well-intentioned emotion channeled into a fashion that pretends to be an ideology, but never achieves its goals, despite making a hash of things on its path — that like drugs makes us feel better, but doesn’t solve any problems, and strengthens rather than weakens its ostensible enemy, the total state. Hipsters are useful because they beat liberalism out of people who are still able to think.

When I went to Austin, I was all about tolerance. I was still clueless as to the problems of the world, mainly because I spent most of my time working.

When I saw the liberal paradise that is Austin, I realized that liberalism is basically parasitism. “If someone has x, and I don’t, I deserve it, and I’ll force them to share with social guilt”; after seeing that, and the complete social havoc — where good people were not only ignored but socially persecuted, and vapid whores predominated and suffocated art and culture with their lies — I left Austin and liberalism behind.

(There may be an honest liberalism. To me, when I was a liberal, it meant not allowing big pointless entities to rule over people in destructive ways. I’m thinking about all the people who got dicked over by their stupid jobs, all the toxic waste dumped into rivers, all the junk products that just ended up in landfills, all the overdeveloped areas where forests were sacrificed, etc. For me, liberalism meant restraining humanity’s appetite with common sense. I soon learned that if you oppose power, however, you soon get people who oppose power for power’s sake because they’re powerless. They have no power in life and no control over their own appetites, so they hate anything that resembles power, but since they’re weak, they don’t attack directly but through whining. I was a classical liberal, which meant treat people fairly. That philosophy however decays un-gracefully into revenge for the underdog, hatred of excellence, and desire to turn the world into one uniform Safe(tm) place. I realized quickly how this plays into the hands of our leaders. It distracts our best people and sends them off to defend those who have failed at life, and then the activists in turn fail at life, so they spent their time fighting for the right to fail. It’s a sick cycle but easily avoidable if you think it through: the problem isn’t power, but people in power without a clue, and they’re in power because all the failed people want pleasant illusions instead of reality. So if you’re an honest liberal, don’t take this column as a personal attack, or a political statement. I’m pointing out how liberalism commonly decays into self-importance, hipsterism and other problems, not trying to assault the emotional or psychological impetus behind liberal thinking.)

Austin is the hipster capital of the world, in many ways. I’ve been to Seattle and to San Francisco, to L.A. (Silver Lake) and to Mizzoula, MT, all of which are hipster-havens. But Austin hipsters have the city locked down. Under the guise of fighting the man, you’re supposed to be weird and freaky and do whatever the man doesn’t expect. But you go back to work the next day, having learned nothing. It’s a good town to work food service until you’re 42 and then become a regular, bitter writer on Alternet.org.

Austin suffocates every quality band who tries to set up shop there. Metal bands in particular suffer because, unless you infiltrate the social network and start behaving like a hipster, no one will attend your shows. People are too afraid of being un-hip to go see an unknown, unless that “unknown” is secretly an underground favorite. As a result, the best Austin bands are the ones that have nothing to do with the “seen” (Scene) there.

Emos, hipsters, modern primitives, trend whores, carnies, defiant minorities and lesbians, drug use theorists, mantra-chanting New Agers, feminists, body modification fetishists, coprophages, “witches,” faux artists of all variety, embittered defiant hippies, foreskin collectors, and other failures of all sorts cluster in Austin. They have failed at making something of their lives, so they are using cognitive dissonance, and making themselves a Big Deal in social/moral/hip circles.

When I seize power, it will be very unwise for anyone to spend time in Austin. The B-52 carries 27 tons of high explosive and, if unleashed on a city block, literally landscapes it into a moon surface of ceramicized dirt covered in the dust of charred, vaporized plants, animals, and buildings — this is a consequence of the TNT/HE mix used in modern bombs. The explosions are so loud that people up to a mile away will lose hearing for the next two days. Some of the fireballs approximate a quarter mile in size, and can be seen from nearby cities. A flight of B-52s, properly targetted, can erase a city so thoroughly that from space it resembles a desert, and this is without use of nuclear weapons.

That form of horror, visited upon Austin, will not cost the human race any geniuses. Nor will it diminish its artistic or social potential. Instead, it will increase our potential by removing the false and giving space to something new, like weeding a garden and dropping in seeds for non-parasitic plants. Don’t cry for Austin, because that entire town is one giant emo hipster cognitive dissonance passive aggression parasite. Its death in flaming vapor will be a great step forward for taste and beauty.

Metal music, like nature, is not about fashion. It’s not about being nice to everyone so they can feel good for being exceptional. It’s about results. About making civilizations that make people inhale sharply whenever they see their ruins for the next 10,000 years. About getting art, science, culture, etc. right. About doing things that matter because they’re not the same humdrum. Forging new spaces, destroying emptiness, making life interesting and giving us something to live for. Like nature, in metal life is struggle, but struggle for beauty and not the bloated, ugly, self-importance of an ego. Metal is anti-hipster, and anti-Austin.

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Dismemberment is metal


(click for larger image)

Police on Thursday accused a Brazilian man of killing and dismembering his 17-year-old British girlfriend, taking pictures of her body parts with his cell phone and stuffing her torso in a suitcase.

One photo appeared to have been taken in a bathroom shower stall, showing Burke’s severed head placed on the chest of her torso along with a bloody butcher knife.
Man accused of killing, dismembering girlfriend

So she was dating a cocaine fueled maniac, probably oblivious, and he dismembered her and got a good laugh out of it. Life is nature, folks. There are predators everywhere. Watch your step, but don’t forget the lulz when you accidentally cut up a corpse and post cell phone pics.

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al-Qaeda translator releases metal album

Raised and homeschooled through high school by his parents on an isolated farm in Southern California, Adam played Little League baseball and participated in Christian homeschool support groups. As an adolescent he became very involved in the underground Death metal community. In 1993, he formed his own one-man band called Aphasia, releasing a few limited self-releaesed tapes.

This is one such tape, originally titled “DELIRIUM: 7 Hallucinatory Interludes, Op.2” A melange of experimental sounds and ambient passages, fused with occassional guitar interludes and drum machines bringing us into the adolescent mind of this future propagandist. Perhaps the final words of the last track, “Insanity,” summarize the character of this esoteric individual when he closes the album with the words: “I’m mad!”

Adam Gadahn – Aphasia Op. 2

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DARK TRANQUILLITY (Not Quite)

For whatever reason, a lot of Swedish death metal seems to be created by the inordinately young, and often, the inordinately skilled for their age. Even before ENTOMBED released Clandestine, and at the same time that AT THE GATES was gelling its impulses, the members of DARK TRANQUILLITY, only 15 and 16 themselves, were putting together high-intensity death metal that was more melodic than the common offerings of the time, but whose stylistic bent would be adopted by hordes younger replacements within a matter of years.

The now-classics that emerged from Stockholm managed to channel their youthfulness into solid composition without succumbing to it as such. Unfortunately for DARK TRANQUILLITY, the band’s compositions of the period bear the weight of their ambitious minds rather poorly; seemingly decent ideas are too-far fractured to be remembered long, and what remains are riffs — often well-written riffs — but only that, parsed through series of confusing time signature changes and strange juxtapositions of melody. As demo material it is probably suitable, but its broader importance was over-inflated by the incestuous Swedish scene, as well as the playful dress-up of simpler ideas that became more conspicuously pursued by the band itself as time moved on.

This is just one tale among many of bands who were almost there, damned by any number of circumstances or peculiarities. It is interesting to reflect on them in the context of better things.

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Neuraxis – The Thin Line Between

Neuraxis civilize metalcore by infusing it with heavy doses of progressive metal and technical death metal. Metalcore — known for its rapid changes between seemingly irrelevant parts equally borrowed from metal, nu-metal, emo and hardcore — grew out of the MTV culture where images on a screen tell an unfolding story, and each scene is mirrored by changes in the music. Neuraxis give the metalcore as developed by bands like Behemoth or Necrophagist a good run for its money by massaging a more listenable and more musical instrumentalism into it, creating a work that will stick with the listener longer than its genremates of lesser dimensionality.

This CD has more in common with Cynic or Gordian Knot in the way it is composed. Taking a page from the jazz-metal book, it loosely ties itself together with a clearly defined harmonic pattern, and then riffs on that, using rhythm and harmony to hold together lead riffs that are more harmony than melody but have a “melodic” effect. Its ability to turn a good riff and work within harmony should appeal to fans of Opeth. Vocals remind me of Dying Fetus or Behemoth; the death metal parts can be attributed to Immolation as processed through Deeds of Flesh, with plenty of quick short melodies played in power chords funneled past hard-stop barrages; solos are classic progressive metal and extremely well executed, and the only nu-metal influence is the tendency to periodically bounce — but this is limited more than elsewhere in this genre.

Neuraxis can grow by giving in fully to their progressive tendencies, and escaping metalcore’s tendency to write roundrobin songs that cycle around a harmonic pattern without developing it because they are too busy mashing together disparate elements. What defines this CD are the rhythm tracks which fall between leads and repetitive riffs, letting the songs grow organically at the same time they batter the listener into submission. I hope this band continue developing in this style and go beyond the conventions of metalcore to bring out in their music what is most promising, which is what has always made metal rise above the horde of noise: ripping riffs which also have some musical depth, combined in such a way as to make the listener wake up out of a daily stupor and wonder how to fit his or her brain around the flow of relentless sound.

Neuraxis – The Thin Line Between – Dreaming the End mp3 sample (45 seconds)

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Interview: John Gelso (Profanatica)

In all avenues and aspects of creative expression, different levels of effort produce different results. Moderation, pandering, or creating something merely unique enough to warrant attention result in transience; conversely, truly going for it” and channeling an inhuman energy to produce a horrifyingly powerful result results in a longer lasting relevance. This is the essence of extremity. In roughly three energetic bursts of activity throughout the past two decades, Profanatica (or its shadow project, Havohej) has created some the most “extreme, black, and ungodly music imaginable,” reducing metal to its most atavistically energetic and trance inducing form. We were able to catch up with Profanatica guitarist John before a most impious performance to discuss amongst other things, the band’s motivation in writing their full length Profanatitas De Domonatia as well as the relationships between art, philosophy, and religion.

Is art different from entertainment? If so, how?

To me, art and entertainment can be one in the same, but art should be one’s personal expression. Entertainment is looking into someone else’s expression. In essence, art is doing and entertainment is observing.

Can heavy metal/black metal be art?

Absolutely. Creating music is art and should be about the realization of the best of your true self and to a certain degree, your sense of uniqueness.

Does entertainment imply passivity from the listener?

Yes. Those being entertained, the observers, they are like parasites. They aren’t moving their own energy out. They’re just feeding off other people’s creativity. Of course, the exception is a live performance where the audience can add to the experience of “the art.”

So everyone should give the world everything they have to offer and create in any way they can?

Right. Everyone should express their true self to the fullest extent that they can. Although, not everyone is capable or they might believe they don’t have anything to express. they rely on others. So, it’s like a passive versus aggressive situation. Aggression, art, is letting out your own energy, as much as you can. The passive aspect, being entertained, is taking from what other people put out.

The unconscious egoism of the individual in the crowd appears in all forms of crowd-behavior. As in dreams and the neurosis this self feeling is frequently though thinly disguised, and I am of the opinion that with the crowd the mechanisms of this disguise are less subtle. To use a term which Freud employs in this connection to describe the process of distortion in dreams, the “censor” is less active in the crowd than in most phases of mental life. Though the conscious thinking is carried on in abstract and impersonal formula, and though, as in the neurosis, the “compulsive” character of the mechanism developed frequently – especially in permanent crowds – well nigh reduces the individual to an automaton, the crowd is one of the most naïve devices that can be employed for enhancing one’s ego consciousness. The individual has only to transfer his repressed self feeling to the idea of the crowd or group of which he is a member; he can then exalt and exhibit himself to almost any extent without shame, oblivious of the fact that the supremacy, power, praise and glory which he claims for his crowd are really claimed for himself.

– Everett Dean Martin, The Behavior of Crowds

I feel like some concepts, such as the Freudian notion of “Id”, are too abstract to be effectively communicated with words. They manifest in actions, expressed in the energy transmitted. Using music as an example, an artist can use the word “hate” in their lyrics and the listener might be able to comprehend on some level if they can understand these lyrics, but the idea would come across so much more universally and effectively if the music itself were to actually sound venomous, hateful, etc. I’ve always thought of Profanatica as one of the best examples of this; expression of raw emotion via the most simplistic possible means. How do you feel about all of this?

I agree with you. The energy of the music needs to match the lyrics. It should all be one unit. With Profanatica, a lot of it is about expressing frustration and hate, specifically with religion and morality. You shouldn’t rely on the ideas of others for your own idea of what’s “right” and “wrong”. You should make your own rules. Be your own god; make the world as you see it. To a certain degree, worship yourself. Treat yourself as a “god” or “goddess.”

This view seems to parallel Satanism, to some extent. In some forms of “Spiritual Satanism” and “Luciferianism”, all ideas pertaining to a god beyond the self are viciously blasphemed and rejected. The individual is then built up to be the one supreme being of its own reality.

I see your point. Simply put, I myself don’t like labels. I’ve always found them confining. Most humans have this “need to belong” and this “need for order.” I say it’s all bullshit. That’s why I say I follow no religion. Not Christianity or Satanism. All labels are man-made and are not natural. I am what I am. I believe in what I believe in and that’s it. I follow my own free will. To me, it doesn’t make sense to trade out one symbol, god, for another. After all, the concept of “Satan” is just a product of Christianity originally developed to inject fear into people. Very much the way the US government are using “terrorists” to inject fear into us. The fact is, fearful and needy people are much easier to control and manipulate.

The universe could be argued to be composed of tangible things, like substances, and intangible things, like designs or ideas or “natural laws” which are enforced through substance but are not substance. How do the two correlate?

It’s all interconnected. Ideas come at different times for different reasons. The universe wants you to do what’s best for you and to apply yourself to the fullest possible extent; to move everything forward as a whole. If you apply yourself, good things and good ideas will come to you. If you want something to happen, you have to go and do it yourself.

They have also those songs of theirs, by the recital of which (“baritus,” they call it), they rouse their courage, while from the note they augur the result of the approaching conflict. For, as their line shouts, they inspire or feel alarm. It is not so much an articulate sound, as a general cry of valour. They aim chiefly at a harsh note and a confused roar, putting their shields to their mouth, so that, by reverberation, it may swell into a fuller and deeper sound. Ulysses, too, is believed by some, in his long legendary wanderings, to have found his way into this ocean, and, having visited German soil, to have founded and named the town of Asciburgium, which stands on the bank of the Rhine, and is to this day inhabited. They even say that an altar dedicated to Ulysses, with the addition of the name of his father, Laertes, was formerly discovered on this same spot, and that certain monuments and tombs, with Greek inscriptions, still exist on the borders of Germany and Rhætia.

– Tacitus, Histories

Do you believe natural selection should have primacy over technology?

Define natural selection.

The idea that only the strongest members of a species will survive in the long run.

I don’t think the popular concept of natural selection is necessarily accurate. Whatever you want to achieve, you can. Strength is in the mind not the body. With that, the human species is not living up to half of its potential. This is what is lacking in the world. I think that’s why there’s a lot of hatred for mankind. A lot of this can be seen in black metal. I believe this hatred is because it (mankind) isn’t necessarily doing the “correct” thing. There is so much more that it should be doing. So many better things and that’s what’s frustrating. The problem is that we’re basically just not challenging ourselves enough and this allows a few greedy individuals to get away with bad choices that affect many. I believe religion is the catalyst for this numbing of the mind that’s been going on over the last 2,000 plus years.

Profanatica’s newest release takes the high-speed, long-riff, motif-based style (similar patterns appear across different songs) that had been pioneered with incantation, and adds to it melody like one might find on a Gorgoroth album; what prompted this change, was it what you always wanted to do, and do you see it as a fusing of constructive (melody) and destructive (rhythm) properties?

Interesting perspective, can’t say I really got into Gorgoroth. Musically I didn’t feel there to be any major change in what we’re doing, other than tuning down.

It’s all based upon feeling and being in the moment. I still draw my influences from the same bands I listed to in my earlier years. Paul and I wanted to pick up from where we left off.

Interview by Michael Dean

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Eugenics Reviews III

Akhenaton – Divine Symphonies

I like this: it’s martial ambient in the style of Lord Wind with distorted bass. But, it is very predictable. So very predictable. As a result, it is pleasant to listen to as background music. About track seven, it starts becoming gothic with guitars and lush keyboards and Sisters of Mercy vocals. I think they need to go back to the drawing board and put more music into this, because their heavy repetition (a) isn’t layered and (b) does not consist of melodies that are all that exciting.

Ancestral – Avowed

Varg, this is your fault. Yours. These people are following your lead. You made it look so simple and now, it is. Trudge beat, open strumming while power chords undulate, and you can trick out a pop song into being like Burzum. The underlying writing on this demo is a lot like later Krieg, but even more poppy, and so it seems very emo when it emerges in quasi-metallized form. Again, like all covertly negative reviews, this one must contain the words “not badly executed, but lacking direction.” This demo sodomizes a Macintosh.

Chronic Torment – Doomed

This isn’t A+ material, but it’s a solid B. Sounding like a cross between Merciless and Fester, it’s heavy-metal and hardcore-tinged death metal in the Swedish style, with an affinity for fast riffs. You will hear nothing new on this CD, but unlike most of these discs, it has an attention span long enough to bond together simple songs over the course of a few riff changes and a verse-chorus devolution. It’s not like the best of Swedish metal, which leaves the stupid rock’n’rollisms behind, but it’s quite solid, with the same aggression appeal that made Verminous fun until it gave you a headache.

Chronic Torment – Dream of the Dead

Gosh, does everyone need to follow Immolation and Hail of Bullets? There’s some completely great stuff on this album, but it gets ruined by the nu-MTVcore/metalcore trend of ranting, dead-on-the-beat chanting verses. These sound like a braindead zombie attempting to sodomize an iron lung, and have about as much musical importance to the listener as well. I think it’s good if you want something angry-sounding in the background, like in a movie. They’re very catchy, but mind-numbing. This CD reminds me of Comecon in that way: their heavy metal has blended into their hardcore, with no emo, but it’s so bouncy and simple that I don’t want to ever put it in again. That’s said because some of the Bolt Thrower-style speed riffs, with two chords strummed fast in the background and melodic rhythm patterns picked over them, are great. Still a Merciless comparison, if Merciless listened to a lot of later Malevolent Creation and The Haunted. What a promising work, but awash in stuff designed to pander to blockheads.

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Death to All Hype

People Can’t Tell Surface From Essence

So as I travel the internet on random errands, I hear people talking about the new “underground” bands, which all sound like Blink 182 making atmospheric black metal. It’s pretty sad, but these bands insist they’re not retro while tossing together bits and pieces of the past, wrapping them around standard pop-punk, adding some emo and crust and a pinch of necro, and then thrusting it all forward with that bedroom blackmetal “truly too authentic to care” aesthetic. I’ve listened to well over a hundred such bands in the last week, and on every level — musically, aesthetically, artistically — they’re close enough to identical. Even more, they have nothing of distinction about them, so why bother? “Metal for metal’s sake” is a path to mediocrity.

Then there are people who love to bloviate on about the “undiscovered” past gems, which almost universally are third-stringers with no distinction. Their goal is to make you think they know something you don’t. They think they get ahead in life by pushing others down, and not simply by achieving more, because the two aren’t the same, even in a relative universe. One of these so-called gems is Fester – Winter of Sin, which I threw on a week ago and had to laugh at how consistent judgment can be. For a smart person, whether in 1995 or in 2008, this CD is crap.

It starts with heavy metal riffs done up like black metal, and gets worse from there. It’s a salad of pieces from here and there with no real direction except vague Venom worship. Every bad cliche of heavy metal and death metal is in here, and there’s no melody or structure to recommend it. What does it have going for it? To weak people, it seems like a good way to be important, knowing about this undiscovered masterpiece etc. Avoid.

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