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Archive for the ‘Faith No More’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 10, 2017] Dead Cross

I had heard that Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and a million other projects) and Dave Lombardo (Slayer and other things) had formed a band and were touring.  I have wanted to see Slayer forever but never have.  I almost saw them last year but it sold out.  So, I kind of lost interest in seeing them.

And of course, Mike Patton is legendary and I’ve liked so much of what he’s done, but I’ve never seen him either.

I was curious what the album would be like and wasn’t entirely surprised to hear that it was basically a hardcore/speed metal album (10 songs in like 25 minutes).  Despite the two of them, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to go to a show like that (I don’t really relish getting in a full-sized mosh pit).  But the more I thought about it (and after reading about the opening band) I decided it would be worth going to.

I checked out their setlists online and saw that they basically played the whole album and a couple extra songs.  Which, by my calculation, would be about 40 minutes. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 10, 2017] Secret Chiefs 3

When I considered going to see Dead Cross, I wanted to know who was opening.  It was a band I’d never heard of: Secret Chiefs 3.  Turns out that the band was created by Trey Spruance, one of the founders of Mr. Bungle (and played with Faith No More).  And the description of the band sounded wonderfully unusual.  I listened to some stuff online, and that made me decide to check this show out.

Their music is a little hard to describe because there’s so much behind it, so I’m quoting from two sources here:

Jonathan Zwickel in 2004:

Spruance, Secret Chiefs 3’s chief composer and a former guitarist for Mr. Bungle, is a visionary madman capable of instilling both fear and respect in his listeners. Secret Chiefs 3 have existed in various incarnations over the course of the past eight years, and have served as the funnel for Spruance’s remarkably far-flung studies of the hermetic mysteries and musical traditions of unknown and underappreciated subgenres. Album titles like Grand Constitution and Bylaws and Book M hint at the music’s vaguely metaphysical bent. [The music is] an alchemical fusion of Morricone-esque cinematic grandeur, midnight surf guitar, traditional Middle Eastern rhythms and time signatures, demonic death metal, and electronic deviance that yields a work of undeniable force.

Whether or not Spruance and his Secret Chiefs 3 are the intermediaries between heaven and earth is, um, hard to say, but with Book of Horizons it seems they’re certainly communing with a power beyond the merely human. Virtuosity, paired with a fearless love of divergent styles and the humor and talent to skillfully, unmercifully mash them up, pushes [the music] into rarified heights.

And this fascinating bit of information from Wikipedia:

In 2007, it was announced Secret Chiefs 3 has always been a general name for seven different bands, each representing a different aspect of Spruance’s musical and philosophical interests. The seven bands are Electromagnetic Azoth, UR, Ishraqiyun, Traditionalists, Holy Vehm, FORMS, and NT Fan. Spruance has stated that the sound collages of Electromagnetic Azoth serve as the center of Secret Chiefs 3.

Right.

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[ATTENDED: May 5, 2016] The Dillinger Escape Plan

2016-05-05 19.48.27I bought The Dillinger Escape Plan’s first album way back in 1999.  It is an abrasive, unpleasant, noisy, harsh record.  The band is known for playing “mathcore” which means their songs have lots of stops and starts and weird rhythms.  They are also really fast and the chords are more like screeches than actual guitar chords.

I didn’t listen to that album very much and I pretty much forgot about the band, but I saw their name pop up here and there.  And now, here they were opening for Mastodon.

I didn’t know that they had been making records for all this time–with many, many line up changes, including a new singer since that first album.  As I looked through their discography, I found out that Mike Patton, singer for Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and a dozen other even weirder bands, sang for them on an EP.

And then their new (and current singer) Greg Puciato took over.  On the songs that I’ve listened to from their later albums, Puciato sings in many styles.  There’s a lot of screaming, but there’s also some crooning and vocals that sound an awful lot like Patton’s (no mean feat).

Reviews said their newer albums were more melodic, so I was interested to hear what they’d do. (more…)

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nov3SOUNDTRACK: PRIMUS-Antipop (1999).

This wasantipop the final album that Primus made before going on hiatus (ostensibly breaking up, but they did reunite a few years later).  I have distinct memories of buying this album and listening to it on the way home in the car.  I remember liking the songs but having the very distinct feeling that it didn’t really sound anything like Primus.  And that is still the case.

This album has a whole mess of guest producers and guitarists and critics seem to think that every song feels very different.  But I disagree.  It feels like a very heavy Les Claypool solo project.

About the album Claypool has said: “Antipop was the most difficult record we ever made, because there was a lot of tension between the three of us, and there was some doubt at the label as to whether we knew what the hell we were doing anymore… Primus sort of imploded.”  In the Primus book, Larry says that a few times he wondered why he was even there since there were so many other guitarists.  I noted that even though there were other guitarists, there were no extra bassists or drummers present, which is kind of shitty.

Producers include Fred Durst (!), Jim Martin (from Faith No More), Stewart Copeland (!), Matt Stone (!) and Tom Morello (from Rage Against the Machine) and Tom Waits.

Tom Morello features quite prominently on the disc, producing and playing on 3 tracks.  And on the songs he’s on, I feel like you can’t even hear Larry (if he’s on them at all).  Morello gets co-writing credit on the songs too, and they feel more like Rage songs than Primus songs–they are very heavy and very metal.  “Electric Uncle Sam” is certainly catchy and rocking.  I rather like it although it feels far more Morello than Claypool.  “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool” also sounds quite Rage like to me.  There’s certainly Primus elements, but it feels very conventional–it’s again very aggressive with no sign or Ler.  “Power Mad” is Morello’s third song. It’s the least interesting song on the disc.

Matt Stone from South Park produced “Natural Joe.”  It feels quite like Primus–a bit heavier, perhaps tahn usual and with that now ever present slap bass.  The “son of a bitch-a” line seems like it might have had a Matt Stone influence.

Fred Durst produced “Lacquer Head” the album’s only single.  It is really catchy.  Durst says it was his idea for Primus to get more heavy (like in the old days) but this is much heavier than anything they had done.  I have to think that the “Keep on sniffing” section was Durst-influenced as it sounds kind of rap-metally.

“Dirty Drowning Man” was produced by Stewart Copeland and features Martina Topley-Bird on backing vocals.  The opening sounds very Primus, but the chorus is very conventional.  Martina barely registers on backing vocals, which is a shame.

Songs credited to just Primus are “The Antipop” which is also quite heavy and strangely catchy given the sentiments.  Perhaps the most unusual track on the disc is the 8 minute “Eclectic Electric” which has three parts.  The first is slow and quieter with a catchy/creepy verse.  Part 2 is much heavier, while Part 3 revisits part 1.  I do rather like it.  James Hetfield plays on it although I can’t tell where.  “Greet the Sacred Cow” has a funk bass part and a real Primus vibe.  It’s a quite a good song.  “The Ballad of Bodacious” seems like a Primus cover band from music to concept.  The final song they did was “The Final Voyage of the Liquid Sky.”  I love the crazy watery bass that opens the song.  The verses also have a real Primus feel.  And those choruses are unreasonably catchy.

The final song was produced by Tom Waits.  It doesn’t sound like Primus at all. Rather, it sounds like a big ol’ sea shanty  A perfect Tom Waits-ian song.  And it’s a really good song too.  You can definitely feel the Primus vibe though, even if it doesn’t really sound like a Primus song exactly.

There’s a bonus track, which is a cover of their song “The Heckler” from Suck on This.  This version is good (although not quite as good as the original version).  But it shows how far removed the new stuff is from their earliest recordings.  This also means that “Jellikit” is the only song from Suck that has not been played on another record.

So while I can see that many fans of Primus would hate this album, fans of heavy rock from the era should certainly check it out.  Les’ voice is heavier, more metal, and the guitars are pretty conventional.  And I still think there are some good songs here.

[READ: January 16, 2015] “The Empties”

This story is set after the end times (which happened in August 2015).  I enjoyed that in the story two characters argue over whether they are living in dystopian or postapocalyptic time.  The one guy argues that “dystopia means an imaginary place where everything’s exactly wrong and what we’re living in is a postapocalyptic prelapsarian kind of thing.”  Our narrator says they are both wrong because those two words pertain to stories and this is real life.

It has been two years since E.T. (End Times).  Very few people still bother to charge anything on the extant towers.  And most of the weak died in the first winter.  Our survivors are in Vermont which has brutal winters but also have wood burning stoves which she imagines many city folk do not have.

Our narrator has been writing in a journal that she received B.E.T. (Before End Times) and then one day she decides to go to the library (the only building still with a lock) to see if she can use the type writer to write a history of their lives since E.T. began.   The “librarian” is heavily armed and is frisking everyone who leaves–books are valuable commodity.  She says they don’t have any paper but that she is welcome to use the reverse side of her own novel (Shroud of the Hills by Matilda Barnstone copyright 2003) which she sent out to many places but never got a response. (more…)

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[WATCHED October-November 2012] Metal Evolution

metal evolutionVH1 aired this series last year and I was intrigued by it but figured I had no time to watch an 11 hour series on the history of heavy metal.  Of course, this being VH1, they have since re-aired the series on an almost continual loop.  So, if you’re interested, you can always catch it.

This series was created by Sam Dunn, the documentary filmmaker who made the movie Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey.  I had heard good things about the movie, but never saw it.  After watching the series, I’m definitely interested in the movie.  Dunn is a keener–A Canadian heavy metal fan who is really into his subject.  He knows his stuff and he knows what he likes (heavy metal) and what he doesn’t like (glam metal, nu metal).

The sheer number of people he interviews is impressive (as are the number of locations he travels to).  Part of me says “wow, I can’t believe he was able to interview X,” and then I remember, “X is really old and is nowhere near the level of fame that he once had.”  Given that, the few hold-outs seem surprising–did they not want to have anything to do with VH1?  Are they embarrassed at how uncool they are now?  Just watch the show guys, you can’t be as low as some.

The only mild criticism I have is that the show relies a lot on the same talking heads over and over.  Scott Ian from Anthrax, whom I love, is in every episode.  Indeed, he may be a paid VH1 spokesman at this point.  There are a few other dudes who show up a little more than they warrant, but hey, you use what you got, right?

What is impressive is the volume of music he includes with the show.  I assume that he couldn’t  get the rights to any studio recordings because every clip is live.  This is good for fans in that we get to see some cool unfamiliar live footage, but some of it is current live footage which often doesn’t compare to the heyday.  Having said that, there’s a lot of live footage from the early 80s–of bands that I never saw live anywhere.  And that’s pretty awesome.

With an 11-part documentary there’s the possibility of exhaustion and overkill, but Dunn is an excellent craftsman  he jumps around from old to new, talks about how the history impacts the current and, because of his own interests, he makes it personal rather than just informative. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BAD BRAINS-I Against I (1983).

I don’t remember buying this album, but I remember getting it because of the connection to SST records (not because Bad Brains were an amazing hardcore band–I didn’t know that yet).

All of these years later, this album is still pretty astonishing.  The heavy punk blends so well with the reggae-inspired jams.  Perhaps the biggest band where Bad Brains influence is evident is Fishbone (especially their later metal songs).  But you can hear t hem in Faith No More and many other mid 90’s bands as well.

The disc opens with a great off-beat instrumental (“Intro”) which leads into the amazing yell-along “I Against I.”  “House of Suffering” follows with some more speedy hardcore.  Then it all slows down with “Re-Ignition,” the first indication that this is an album unafraid to take risks.  Although the thumpy riff and heavy beats are still there, the vocals are more of a reggae style (especially towards the end).  “Secret 77” follows with a kind of funk experiment (but those drums are still loud and stark–Earl is a maniac!).

Darryl’s bass work is tremendous throughout the disc, and Dr. Know’s guitar is amazing–speeding fast soloing, heavy punk riffs and delicate intricate reggae sections intermingle with ease.  And, of course, we can’t forget about H.R.’s vocals.  He has several different delivery styles from the speedy punk to the reggae deliveries and the all over the place (including high-pitched shrieks on “Return to Heaven”).

The second half of the disc experiments with more diversity, and it is somewhat less punk sounding (although not by much).

Historically, it’s hard (for me) to place exactly how influential they were.  Listening to  the disc today (which doesn’t sound dated in any way) it sounds utterly contemporary in stylistic choices.  Did they come up with the mosh break?  They certainly are the first punk band the embrace Jah (that’s a trend that never really took off though, eh?), but their funk metal sound predates the popular Faith No More style by over a decade.

[READ: November 21, 2010] “The Kids Are Far-Right”

I know I subscribed to Harper’s when this article was published (I distinctly remember the jelly bean portraits of Reagan), but I’m pretty sure I didn’t read it then because the whole idea of it sounded depressing (the subtitle: “Hippie hunting, bunny bashing, and the new conservatism”) was just too much for me in 2006 (and was almost too much for me in 2010).

And so our correspondent (not long after his trip through the Bush/Cheney volunteer minefield) heads out to the twenty-eighth National Conservative Student Conference.  He meets exactly what you would expect: right-wing campus types (several from ultra-religious schools) who are there to learn to hate liberals even more than they already do (and boy do they).

Wells’ article is full of details about all of the speeches and programs, as well as biographical information about some of the attendees.  Most of them just want to get rid of liberals on campus, but some want to go into politics themselves someday (they are viewed with suspicion here).  Many also hate George W. Bush because he raised taxes.  In hindsight what we have here is the origins of the tea party.

The only comforting news to come from the article is that only 400 people attended (but they were willing to spend a few hundred dollars and give up a week of their summer vacation, so it’s still a pretty high number). (more…)

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wild thingsSOUNDTRACK: FANTÔMAS-Suspended Animation (2005).

fantomasIf you know Fantômas, then you know what you’re in for.  If you don’t, well, it’s a surprise!

Fantômas are the brain child of Mike Patton (Mr Bungle-era more than Faith No More with help from Buzz Osborne from The Melvins and Dave Lombardo from Slayer).  Suspended Animation is designed as a soundtrack to April, 2005.  There are thirty tracks, and each one corresponds to a calendar page.  The limited edition (which is apparently still in print as I got one last month) is a calendar with art by Yoshitomo Nara.  Nara’s work combines cuteness and menace, just like the CD.

A piece by Nara

A piece by Nara

Although, really the CD is more menace than cute.

This disc seems to combine Patton’s favorite things: cartoon music (many ‘toons are sampled here), death metal, short sharp blasts of noise and his fascinating vocal deliveries.

This write-up makes the disc sound very intriguing, but before you rush out to check it out, do know what you’re in for: short, noisy blasts of utter chaos.  It is not for the weak of heart or the queasy of stomach (or for the lover of melody).  It’s not even a case of , oh the songs are short, the next one will come along soon.  While there is diversity, it’s diverse within it’s own little world.  Of noise!

Be afraid.  But if you’re still interested after that caveat, then by all means check it out, if only for the calendar!

[READ: August 23, 2009] Where the Wild Things Are/”Max at Sea”

Because of Dave Egger’s story “Max at Sea” (which is basically a retelling of Where the Wild Things Are I felt I needed to re-read the original.  So thank you Dave Eggers for that.

The original is a fun story which seems to be more visually based than word based.  The drawings are sublime and indeed there are several pgaes with no words at all.  And, so, the filmmakers’ question remains: how to you make a film out of a 48-page book, many of which don’t even have words?  Stills from the movie do look pretty awesome.

And thus, Dave Eggers’ story was born.

I’m not actually going to reveiw Where the Wild Things Are, because, well, it’s a classic, and it’s  awesome.  What more can I say about it?  But I did want to reevaluate Egger’s piece having re-read Sendak’s.

It is quite clear that Eggers is in no way trying to re-write the story.  He has fleshed out a lot of details that are absent from the original (which the original in now way needs, but again, if you’re going to make a film, you need some kind of backstory). (more…)

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