Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Venom’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 8, 2018] Parquet Courts

2017-01-31-22-13-40I saw Parquet Courts a year and a half ago at this very venue.  At the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see them again, but it had been a fun show.  Their new album was also fun, so why not?

They played 10 of the 13 new songs from Wide Awake.  But they also played a lot of older songs too (19 songs in total including a Ramones cover of “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World.”

But they started with the lead song of the new album, “Total Football.”  The end of the song “and fuck Tom Brady” got a huge reaction from the crowd (since Philly beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl). (more…)

Read Full Post »

ellsmere SOUNDTRACK: PROBOT-Probot (2004).

probotAfter all of the Dave Grohl love I’ve been sending his way, Grohl went and fell off a stage and broke his leg.  But, he is so badass (and such a thoughtful musician), that he went to the hospital, got his leg fixed up and went back on stage to finish the set!  Holy cow.

This is amazing (and he must have incredible endorphins (or something else) to be able to do this (the video is long because it shows his re-arrival):

Grohl has always been very open about his love of heavy metal–and the liner notes here go into pretty good detail about he bands he grew up listening to.  He wanted to create a kind of tribute/dream lineup album of metal vocalists.  As far as I can tell he was sitting around and banging away riffs and every time he got one that he liked, he recorded it.  He eventually added bass and drums and made demo tapes out of them.  Then he contacted some of his favorite metal singers from when he was a kid and asked them to write lyrics and sing.

I assume that Grohl sent the demos that sounded most like the bands to the appropriate singer, because so many of them are spot on for the original bands.  The Venom song sounds completely like Venom (Cronos’ bass certainty helps) and it’s one of the best songs here.  I don’t know Sepultura that well, but the music fits perfectly with Cavalera’s style.  And this song is just fantastic.

The Lemmy song sounds unmistakably Motörhead, again possibly because Lemmy plays bass, but the riff is pure Motörhead.  It’s another great song and one that the Foo Fighters have played live.

The song with Mike Dean is very punk, very C.O.C.  It’s followed by another punk/metal song from D.R.I.  This song also matches perfectly with Brecht’s style of singing on the more metal side of D.R.I..

Lee Dorrian used to sing in a guttural cookie monster growl with Napalm Death, but in Cathedral, he turned to proper singing.  I don’t know Cathedral, but the main riff coupled with the twin guitar solo notes from Thayil make a great epic song, especially that mosh section in the middle (I didn’t think Cathedral did mosh but whatever), although at 6 minutes it does go on a bit.

I also don’t know Wino, so I don’t know if this is the kind of thing he sang on, although I do hear a bit of Saint Vitus vibe from it.  There’s a really long middle section which is interesting for the backwards guitar solo, and while it’s a little long, when it comes out of that, the heaviness is really great.

Tom Warrior is a fascinating guy with all kinds of tricks up his sleeve, so the weird industrial sound on top of the heavy bass is pretty interesting.  There’s no way Grohl could hope to emulate Voivod’s Piggy, so he doesn’t even try.  Rather than playing up to Voivod’s proggy style, he goes deeper to the heavier stuff.  And, perhaps it’s Snake’s voice, the bridge sounds very Voivod.  The chorus is more poppy than what Voivod might do, and yet it’s a great song.  Voivod’s Away also designed the album cover.

I loved Trouble when I was in high school, although I don’t really remember them that well now.  This songs sounds bit more classic rock than metal (and I recall Trouble being pretty heavy), and yet Wagner’s voice works very well with the style.  I just read that Trouble went through a more psychedelic period and the middle section ties in nicely with that, so maybe this is inspired by later period Trouble.

Grohl says he was excited to get King Diamond, and who wouldn’t be.  Kim Thayil is back to create a suitable Mercyful riff (although it could never live up to the classic Fate).  But the mid section’s doom riffs are right on.  The song showcases some of the King’s vocal acrobatics, although not quite as many as I could have used (there are some excellent high-pitched notes in there though).

There’s a bonus track at the end of the disc which features Jack Black doing a suitably funny but accurate metal tribute.

This is a really solid heavy record that lets some classic metal singers back on the scene.  There won’t be a second Probot record, but there may not need to be one anyhow.  I also like that he picked some slightly more obscure singers rather than the obvious Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson type of singers, even if they would have also been interesting).

  • “Centuries of Sin” (feat. Cronos of Venom)
  • “Red War” (feat. Max Cavalera of Sepultura)
  • “Shake Your Blood” (feat. Lemmy of Motörhead)
  • “Access Babylon” (feat. Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity)
  • “Silent Spring” (feat. Kurt Brecht of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
  • “Ice Cold Man” (feat. Lee Dorrian of Cathedral and Napalm Death, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
  • “The Emerald Law” (feat. Wino)
  • “Big Sky” (feat. Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost)
  • “Dictatosaurus” (feat. Snake of Voivod)
  • “My Tortured Soul” (feat. Eric Wagner of Trouble)
  • “Sweet Dreams” (feat. King Diamond of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
  • “I Am the Warlock” (feat. Jack Black of Tenacious D)

[READ: February 13, 2015] The War at Ellsmere

I’ve enjoyed Hicks’ books in the past–both the ones she’s written and the one’s she’s simply illustrated.  In this book she does both which means you get big eyes and the dark hair.

As the book opens we meet Juniper, a girl who has just enrolled in Ellsmere Private School.   We meet the headmistress and learn the history of this beautiful school (established in 1810).  And then we find out that Juniper is there on a scholarship (merit based) and that Juniper is well aware that she will likely be there to “liven things up for the blue bloods.”

When Juniper meets her new roommate Cassie (who hears her talking to herself), Jun immediately goes on the defensive–until she sees that Cassie is actually quite a nice girl. (Nice, Jun, you just insulted Bambi).

But it’s during the orientation that we meet the real antagonist of the story–Emily, a pretty blonde girl who immediately insults Cassie and calls her “orphan.”  When Jun gets involved, it suggests that it will be an interesting year for all of them. (more…)

Read Full Post »

2013-10SOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-“In League with Satan” (1998).

venomI wasn’t aware of this tribute to Venom, the much reviled/much beloved black metal band.  It is titled In the name of Satan. Voivod has done some covers of Venom songs throughout their career, so it seems natural that they would do one for an official tribute album.

The music is fine.  As anyone who knows Venom knows their music isn’t terribly complicated.  So it’s nothing for Voivod to do.  I’m actually wondering if Piggy wanted to spruce it up a bit.  But no, he plays it straight, as does everyone else.

But man are the vocals awful. They are a kind of high-pitched growl–very strangely affected and sounding really weird both for Venom and for Voivod.  I’m not sure who is singing on this track (I assume E-Force given the date).  It doesn’t really sound like either E-Force or Snake, but I’m siding with E-Force because there’s none of the odd pronunciations that Snake is prone to do.

I didn’t listen to anything else on the album, but even for a Voivod diehard, this one is not worth owning.

[READ: September 19, 2013] “The Challenges and Rewards of Re-entering the Workforce”

Lisa Moore doesn’t deserve to be associated with Satan or a less than stellar cover song.  So apologies to her for pairing this together, but it worked nicely in my Voivod timeline.

I was really intrigued by the title of this short story and I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  What I got was a very interesting and very interestingly structured story.  The first thing of note is the pronoun choice:  “Everybody had a target on his back.  His or her back.”  This specification continues throughout the story.  But before we learn why exactly, we learn about the devastation at this job (which is never specified).  People are let go in waves, then in clumps, and just when it seems safe, one at a time.  Some people are moved around to fill those empty spots.  In other words, resentment is breeding wildly.  Rumors spread—they wouldn’t fire people if you stand up for yourselves—but no one wanted to stand up.  And just when we think Moore can’t give any more examples of the anonymous firing, we get into specifics.

The Downeys (who both worked there) were fired on the same day.  The had just purchased a new house as well.  Of course, that was before the summer when the dump started to stink.  So we can anticipate how much they will get when they try to sell. (more…)

Read Full Post »

werwolvsSOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-Nothingface (1989).

nothingI have talked about Nothingface before, but here it is in sequence with the Voivod catalog.

This is the culmination of Voivod’s move toward progressive metal. Even nearly 25 years after its release, this remains one of my favorite albums ever.  The guitar chords are complex and wonderful.  Snakes’ voice is melodic with odd tinges of weirdness thrown in—where he goes up or down a note unexpectedly.  Plus, he has that peculiar pronunciation/emphasis that makes the words sound even more exotic (like “repugnant”).  And despite the fact that they cover Pink Floyd (!), the album is still heavy.

The whole band is in top form here—Away’s drumming is explosive and complex, Blacky has a fantastic rumbling sound that’s not distorted but really fills in the bottom end and Piggy’s guitar is masterful.  “The Unknown Knows” has some cool staggered notes and a great catchy guitar riff during the verses but the time changes come fast and furious.  I love the way the guitar and bass play off each other in this song.  But then comes the cover of “Astronomy Domine”.  Imagine the band from War and Pain who used to cover Slayer and Venom now covering Pink Floyd.  It’s hard to fathom, but man, do they pull it off wonderfully—adding a heavy bass element but keeping it very faithful.  And Away’s drumming is stellar.  It’s a marvelous cover.

“Missing Sequences” starts with a cool bass line and Snake’s great pause… “NOW!” Then when he starts singing again, his voice is phased in a very cool sci-fi kind of way.  There’s also some interesting effects—keyboards maybe–in many of the songs.  There’s also a great part where there’s a rumbling bass and Snake’s scream of “GO!” before a weird guitar solo and then even weirder shifted guitar chords.  It’s magnificent.

As is the guitar playing in the verses for “X-Ray.”  I’m not even sure how Piggy came up with the bizarre chords in “Pre-Ignition.”  And yet despite the harshness, there’s pretty melodies like in the cool catchy “ground and rock and sand” section of the song.  And as for pretty, the quiet beauty that opens “Into My Hypercube” is really impressive for such a dissonant album—Snake whispers his vocals and the guitars are all pretty, major chords.  Until the bridge where dissonance enters and then the post bridge (who even knows what to call these song parts) which is once again a heavy round of dissonant chords.  And then when the “tumult in the dark” section starts, it’s practically a whole new song—until Blacky’s bass section reintroduces the beginning motif.

The final track has a wonderful moment where Snake’s voice follows Piggy’ unusual guitar line perfectly.  And then the very cool almost funky (great bass sound) of Blacky after the “too late for S.O.S.” line.  The album ends abruptly (too late for S.O.S.) and you’re left contemplating everything that just happened (I haven’t even mentioned the lyrics).

It’s a prog metal masterpiece.

[READ: August 26, 2013] Werewolves of Montpellier

I enjoyed Jason’s Lost Cat so much that I went to the library and checked out some other books by him as well.

Werewolves has the same looking characters as in Lost Cat, but they are different people (I assume).  The strange thing about this book is that the werewolves don’t look all that different from the main drawings.  At first I wasn’t even sure that he was wearing the werewolf mask.  But on closer inspection there are subtle differences (the eyes, the ears, the fingers).  Indeed, it took two reads for me to really notice all the subtle details.  Nevertheless, it’s just funny to imagine the characters thinking he was a werewolf when he looks for the most part the same anyway.

But so this story starts with the main character, Sven, dressed like a werwolf and breaking into someone’s house.  When the victim comes home, she catches him, but is frightened and he flees out the window.  In the next scene his next door neighbor, Audrey, (not his girlfriend, as she is dating a woman named Julie) brings him some food and tells him that he was in the paper (unidentified but in costume).

Then we see the main character and a bird looking guy playing chess in the park (and talking about the value of escalators for checking out women’s asses).  The main characters seems to be primarily dog-like and bird-like, but they intermingle freely.

The final new characters are two men talking about the photo.  They say that the werewolf in the photo is not part of their brotherhood and they want to punish this newcomer for causing them trouble. (more…)

Read Full Post »

conchitaSOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD: Rrröööaaarrr (1986).

roarI have always loved this album because of its name (preposterous and complete with umlauts).  It also has the classic Voivod song “Fuck Off and Die.”  Interestingly, a band that Voivod liked, Venom, released a song “F.O.A.D.” the previous year.

But man, is this album hard to listen to.  The production seems even worse than on their debut.  And the songs seem faster and a bit harder to understand.  Perhaps it was my mood when I re-listened, but songs like “Ripping Headaches” seemed more portentous than fun.  And “Slaughter in the Grave” is just light years behind the kind of songs they would write as soon as the next album.

I like to think of these first two Voivod albums as part of a pair.  The cover art is kind of similar.  But starting with the next album, the cover art would jump ahead in detail and quality.  All of Voivod’s art (and apparently the entire concept of The Voivod (you’ll have to look that up) was by Away.  He has released a coffee table book (which you can’t get anymore) but a lot of his art is online at his website.

Not many people think too highly of Rrröööaaarrr, and it is safe to say that compared to their next several albums, this one might be best ignored.

[READ: August 29, 2013] Hi, This is Conchita

This is another book that crossed my desk.  I recognized…the translator of all people (Hi, Edith Grossman) but not the author.  I couldn’t remember why I recognized her name and then I realized she had translated Don Quixote, which is supposed to be an excellent version.

I also liked the cover and the packaging of the book (sometimes that’s all it takes) and since I left the book I was reading back at home, I brought this with me to lunch.

Imagine my surprise when the first story opens with a man calling a phone sex line (in graphic detail).  I flipped through the story (which I thought was a bunch of short stories) but is actually a very long story called “Hi, this is Conchita.”  In this story, each “chapter” is a phone call and each chapter title is the phone number and time of the call. (more…)

Read Full Post »

lostcatwarandSOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD-War and Pain (bonus stuff) (2004).

The War and Pain reissue was packed with goodies for Voivod fans.

You get “Anachronism” which is 3 songs from their very first live show in June 1983.  (“Condemned to the Gallows,” “Blower,” “Voivod”). They had (it sounds like) a surprisingly large audience for the show.  You also get “To The Death” which is 3 songs from the Metal Massacre V sessions (“Condemned to the Gallows,” “Voivod,” “Iron Gang”) of which “Condemned to the Gallows” was used on that compilation.  I think this is one of their better early songs, and it’s a shame it never got a proper release (although it’s all over this package).

If the sound quality on their proper album was bad, you can imagine how bad this sounds.  Their first show may have been recorded on a microcassette it is so low-fidelity.  And somehow the Metal Massacre tracks sound like they were left in a puddle of mud since 1984.  I have the Metal Massacre albums and I don’t think they sounded that bad.

That leaves Disc 2: “Morgoth Invasion.”  This is a live show from December 1984.  It has 16 songs (surprisingly no “Voivod” and two covers:  Venom’s “Witching Hour” and Slayer’s “Chemical Warfare”).  Like the previous live tracks, this one sounds pretty dreadful–but not quite as bad.  It is fun for the historic value–hearing the band play fast and tight hearing Snake’s guttural French (he did most of the between song banter in French).  Also hearing how well they play the covers shows how seriously they took their metal.

The third disc is a CD-ROM.  You get lyrics to the album, biographies of the band and comments on the 20th anniversary release.  There’s also band photos and art by Away.  There’s even the old  video for “Voivod.”

But for fans the most exciting part is the “Sounds” section.  In addition to including all of the above audio (in case you wanted it all on CD-ROM?), there’s also seven songs from a 1984 concert.  I am fairly certain that these tracks would eventually be released on the To the Death 84 album (it’s the same order and I don’t have that record).  Again, the sound quality is not great, but it’s interesting to hear these songs played live–to hear just how fast these guys can play.

So the anniversary package is worth investing in if you like your Voivod.  If not, wait a couple more albums when they become amazing.

[READ: August 26, 2013] Lost Cat

I had not heard of Jason before this book passed across my desk.  Jason is a Norwegian graphic artist and comic book maker whose real name is John Arne Sæterøy.  Many of his books have been published in English by Fantagraphics.  This one was translated (from the Norwegian I assume, although Jason now lives in France, so maybe it was written in French) by Kim Thompson.  The interesting thing about the translation is that I didn’t realize it was one at first…I just thought the characters were deliberately speaking in a weird sort of way.  I wonder if this is intentional on the translator’s part.

The striking thing about Jason’s art is that his characters do not have eyeballs (as you can see from the cover art).  This seems to convey an overall sadness to the characters.  And yet he is also incredible at creating mood and tone from these animal people (even without eyeballs!).

This story has a few threads that tie it together.  As the story opens we meet Dan Delon, a private detective.  As he walks home for the night he sees a lost cat sign.  A few panels later he see the cat.  He calls the number and returns the lost kitty.  The kitty’s owner, Charlotte, is very nice.  She invites him in and gives him a drink.  She owns a local bookstore which he was recently in (although they did not meet).  They seem to have a lot in common.  Charlotte is fascinated that he’s a private detective.  But he quickly dismisses the excitement saying that it is mostly just taking pictures of people having affairs–and then upsetting both parties when all is said and done.  He seems to realize the loneliness of his life as he says this (again, conveyed wonderfully with the art). (more…)

Read Full Post »

[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…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »