Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kiss Induction Controversy

Kiss Induction Controversy

    Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace are the four original members of Kiss, and the four musicians who introduced me to the world of rock music. Growing up Kiss was one of my favorite bands on the planet. “Dressed to Kill” was the first Kiss album I bought, and is still my favorite Kiss album. Eventually my devotion faded once I started listening to the heavier groups like Slayer, Pantera and Morbid Angel. Although I am not the same die hard Kiss fan I once was, I will listen to some Kiss tracks occasionally, because I do enjoy their brand of straight forward catchy hard rock. The only thing I really can’t stand about Kiss is the band’s huge inflated egos, mainly that of Mr. Money Bags Simmons. In my opinion Gene and Paul have really embarrassed the Kiss name with their egotistical attitudes, and ridiculous business ventures like owning an Arena Football team.
    However, I always defended Kiss when pertaining to their importance in the history of Rock and Roll. Most music fans I have encountered call them childish, gimmicky and never seem to credit them for being good musicians. I find their judgements to be rather unfortunate because Kiss contained some amazing musicians and has written some great rock songs. Of course music elitists will never change their minds, and not to the surprise of most, they are now in control of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After being ignored for years and losing the last slot on the ballot to ABBA one year, Kiss is finally being inducted. Sadly, and with complete arrogance, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will only induct the original four members. This means Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Marc St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer will not be recognized for their contributions. 
    Now, for the record my favorite Kiss lineup is the original four, but that doesn’t mean I do not like the material released with the other lineups. When Eric Carr came into the band he offered a more aggressive drumming style than Peter Criss, and Eric played on one of Kiss’ heaviest sounding albums, “Creatures of the Night.” Also, Vinnie Vincent brought some insane guitar shredding abilities when he joined Kiss for “Lick It Up.” Mark and Bruce also displayed tremendous guitar technique when they both joined Kiss, so their work should not be ignored.
    With Eric and Tommy I am going to have to bite the bullet and defend the two of them, even though I personally do not like how both are dressed up like Ace and Peter. I read a comment recently made the Hall of Shame CEO, saying that Eric and Tommy are basically pretending to be the two original members, so they won’t be inducted for that reason. Okay, this CEO needs to pull his head out of his ass and realize that although they dress like former Kiss members, they still bring their own talents to the band and have contributed to the making of new Kiss material. Eric did a solid job on Kiss’ “Revenge,” and the last two albums to feature Tommy are fairly decent. Just because Tommy and Eric look like Ace and Peter doesn’t mean they didn’t copy the two original members exact playing styles! 
    At the end of the day the word of the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame, run by a pack of elitists pricks, is simply meaningless. I am just angered by their ignorance which seems to only get worse each year. Kiss is an important rock band in the history of the genre no matter if you think they are a childish band, or musically less superior to Fleet Wood Big Mac(Kiss>Fleet Wood Mac). Watch, Gene will pay members of the Kiss Army to attack the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and then build the Kiss Casino over it...which I would rather visit than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Coms 210 Assignment #4: Opinion Writing

Lars Was Right...

    Would you steal coffee from Starbucks? Would you take a child that wasn’t yours? Now, would you download a song from the internet for free? Ever since Metallica  went after Napster in the early 2000’s, the topic of downloading music illegally has been continuously debated. Most people in favor of illegally downloading music tend to argue that record companies are greedy, and the artists don’t get that money much from album sales. However, I find that most people who attempt to get involved with this argument do not understand the whole picture. Illegal downloading is more complex than just the record label and artist getting paid. Also, there are other areas associated with the music industry that are affected by illegal downloading. At the end of the day, illegal downloading is slowly draining a system that is responsible for the music we hear today.
    As I stated before, when people argue over illegal downloading they really seem to have a narrow view of the music industry. The music industry is a large and complex entity that offers many jobs, and contains multiple players in the process of making an album. Their are the people who manufacture the CDs, the artists who design the album art work, the people who send out the albums for promotion and of course, the recording people who are the ones responsible for how the album sounds. Most bands tend to hire producers and sound engineers when they are making an album, and that can cost a huge chunk of money. Guns N’ Roses’ debut release, “Appetite for Destruction” cost $370,000 to make, and majority of the cost was payed by their record label Geffen. Most bands have to pay back their record companies through album sells because the production cost is covered by the label. The best way to think of it is that a record company is like a bank, and the artist is accepting a loan from the label with the intention to pay back the record company for the cost. 
    Another reason why downloading illegally is a problem for the music industry, is that most promoters and artists rely on album sales to set up shows. Album sells historically have allowed for bands and concert promoters to locate where the best cities for a concert to be held. If Deep Purple album’s did not sell well in Japan, they probably wouldn’t have traveled to play in Tokyo back in the early seventies. The argument can be made that nowadays Facebook gives bands a good idea where most of their fans are located. Still, there is a difference between a Facebook like and an album purchase. The Facebook like is free while album sale cost money. Most people who purchase albums really support and enjoy the artist they bought where a Facebook like can be for social purposes.
    One argument in favor of illegal downloading that has always angered me is that people use the justification that the artists make enough money from touring and merchandise. Again, that statement is very ignorant to the entire system and does not apply to all musicians. I am sure Katie Perry is worth millions and an illegal download does not affect her much, but the same does not go for an artist like Paul Speckmann, singer/bassist from the Death Metal band Master. Mr. Speckmann has been consistently putting out albums since the eighties and his career revolves around making music and touring. 
    Lastly, as Lars once brought up during an interview, the fact that musicians didn’t have the option to say whether or not people could download their music illegally was a major problem. Musicians are the ones responsible for creating the music, so they are the ones who should have the final say. If a musician is okay with people downloading their albums than it is okay because they gave permission. Now, if a musician says no, I think people should respect that decision and suck it up by paying the one dollar fee on iTunes. This is America, where under the Constitution, intellectual property is protected by law. If an artist never gave permission to share their song on Napster they shall be protected and given fair compensation.
    I really do believe the problem when people debate over illegally downloading music is that they do not look at the entire picture. It is not just black and white, and their are many areas that people need to consider. I believe artists should have the right to decide if their music can be downloaded for free. They are the one who created the music to begin with, and in my opinion, own that right for life. Lars may say some ridiculous comments that make me shake my head, but when it comes to illegally downloading I agree with him one-percent.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Master "The Witch-hunt"

Band: Master
Album: The Witch-hunt


    After many years of playing extreme music Paul Speckmann is offering Death Metal fans with more intense heavily distorted jams. Paul is a veteran of the Death Metal scene and Master is definitely an important, and highly influential group. Master’s current line-up features the Paul Speckmann on bass/vocals, Alex Nejezchleba on guitar and Zdenek Pradlovsky behind the kit on drums. “The Witch-hunt” is the 12th release from Master and adds onto the long legacy which Paul has kept going since the 80’s. This new album is fierce, aggressive and maintains a classic Death Metal vibe. Master’s lyrics on the album are unapologetic and the vocal style used to present the lyrics is truly unmistakable. Paul sings with this gruff growling approach that reminds me of Lemmy, but with more of a tortured Death Metal sound. Each song on “The Witch-hunt” follows a similar sounding blue print and their are no songs that seem out of place. I think Paul’s distinct vocals and the intense speed driven Death Metal compositions, maintain that consistent sound which keeps the listener engaged. 
    The opening title track begins without warning and sounds like a bomb exploding over city. Paul’s harsh gutter growling vocals start narrating sheer brutal lyrics while Alex Nejezchleba tears into an insane sinister sounding riff. Drummer Zdenek Pradlovsky maintains intense double bass drum rhythms and throughout the album never seems to take his foot off the pedal. Track two, “Plans of Hate,” continues the classic Death Metal sounding attack, but with some Grindcore elements added to turn up the extreme musical insanity. I feel like the world around me is shaking and opening up a sink hole to hell as the song plays on. The song, “Another Suicide,” is a very strong thought provoking track with great lyrics. Paul’s vocals usually tend to make deciphering lyrics a bit of a challenge, but for some reason every word stood out to me during the song. “Waiting to Die” demonstrates Master’s ability to come up with catchy aggressive sounding riffs that definitely remind me of Motörhead, but more Death Metal of course. Out of the elven tracks on this album, my favorite is, “Remove the Clowns.” The song is intense and blends early sounding hardcore punk influenced Thrash with fast galloping extreme Death Metal. Such a rage filled track that creatively combines some the best of extreme musical elements. The guitar lead guitar parts woven into the song are fluid yet don’t over saturate the song with random note shredding. Another track worth mentioning is “Wipe out the Aggressor” which continues the intense galloping darkness that is heard all over this album.
    These guys never stray too far away from the status quo and I really respect that decision, because the devotion to such extreme music makes for killer consistent sounding tracks. Master’s, “The Witch-hunt,” is a continuation of early extreme Death Metal, but with a modern smack in the face from a veteran of the early days. I do feel the vocals on this album are an acquired taste for some people, but when matched with the aggressive sounding music I think the vocals perfectly complete the all out extreme noise. If you like brutal sounding classic Death Metal I think Master is a band for you. Glad to hear people like Mr. Speckmann continuing to release aggressive unapologetic music that never fades away.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cultfinder "Hell’s Teeth"

Band: Cultfinder
Album: Hell’s Teeth

    Cultfinder’s debut full-length release, “Hell’s Teeth” is a vicious bite of Black Metal and Thrash Metal. This three piece from Farnborough, UK, sounds a lot like early Bathory, and Venom. The production is very raw and the riffs are extremely aggressive. To accompany the relentless aggressive riffs, the drummer provides plenty of intense blast beats. Most of the lyrical content on this album deals with the usual Black Thrash Metal themes of hell, the occult and of course, Satan. The vocals used to sing the satanic lyrics definitely leans more towards the Black Metal style. I hear some Mayhem influence in the vocals, along with the overall lyrical phrasing. Even how this album starts out, reminds me of a classic Black Metal release with whispering demonic noises to create a hellish overall theme.
    Once the bands kicks it into high gear the musical insanity instantly demands your attention. The crude distortion level from the guitar on, “All Conquering Death,” brings forth the unholy sounds of Hell. Cultfinder’s vocalist screams out the blasphemous lyrics that would scary any priest or nun to the point that they would piss their pants. “Devil’s Whore” continues the unapologetic Black Thrash Metal assault and demonstrates the band’s intense musical talents. Towards the end of the song the band slows down the tempo for a haunting break down section. This aggressive yet haunting mentality of spills over into following track, “Morbid Breed.” The main chorus riff is very catchy, and takes on this more hardcore punk style. Some of the drum parts during the song sound like they were recorded with a really shitty microphone, and it gives the track a complete chaotic feel. The song, “Unholy Orders” is a bit of a departure from the intense Black Thrash Metal blueprint. Instead of being intense, the song is very atmospheric with a hollow echoing guitar riff. The song makes you feel like you are floating in endless dark space without any chance of returning. To finish the album off, Cultfinder unleashes the unholy anthem, “The Scourging Angel.” Here the band throws in some more doom elements to conjure up a truly wicked sound.    
    For all those who enjoy Black Metal and Thrash Metal, I think this album will deliver the basics for you. Of course this style of music is nothing I have not heard before, but I do believe Cultfinder’s debut release, “Hell’s Teeth,” is a solid album the whole way through. There are plenty of great bone sawing riffs and blasphemous lyrics to keep all those denim jacket headbangers happy. Trust me, trying to make headbangers happy is no easy task, so hopefully Cultfinder does the trick.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Album Review: Art Far Away's"Verisimilitude & The Second Estate"

Band: Art Far Away
Album: Verisimilitude & The Second Estate


    Historically I have never been the biggest metalcore fan. No offense, it just isn’t my cup of tea. Now, since I started doing album reviews about two years back, I have started to become more opened minded with my metal music. Still, when I first received an e-mail from a musician describing the band’s style as “metalcore?,” I was a bit hesitant. However, I said to myself that I would keep an open mind when listening to this album, and give the band a fair chance. In the end, I am glad I didn’t let my preconceived view stop me from checking out this band.
    The band I am talking about, Art Far Away, is up and coming metal act from Sweden. Although they might fall under the metalcore label, there are plenty of other styles of metal that this band conveys through their music. The vast magnitude of extreme musical compositions that this band has to offer makes this album really stand out. Verisimilitude & The Second Estate, the band’s debut release, is an intense slamming emotionally charged beast. Art Far Away delivers 12 tracks of extreme madness that never sound dual. The 8-string guitars used to record this album provide a mighty punch, and show an ambitious group of young metal musicians. Along with the killer guitar section the drummer in this group is a technical rhythmic madman. Some of the drum fills he provides on this album are ridiculously rapid to the point where I am left shell shocked. The singer’s vocals, to my surprise, were better than the usual metalcore style vocals I hear. He never sounded like a goblin being sexual assaulted, so that definitely helped me enjoy this release even more.
    Moving on from the musicianship to the songs, I must say that Art Far Away created some extreme technically driven tracks. Their raw passion and energy reminds me a bit of how the Dillinger Escape Plan sounds. The album opens with a rapid note crushing song called, “Cancer.” There is this huge wall of sound that comes smashing out of the speakers with tremendous force. Midway through the song the band slows the tempo down and there is this robotic voice effect used to give the song a futuristic feel. Once the robotic voice goes away the singer comes back to lay down some aggressive vocal lines. Personally, I really like the unique compositions this band came up with during the song, and I find that Art Far Away quickly establishes their distinct creative brand of extreme metal. Track number two, “Obfuscation,” is another technically driven guitar and drum assault. This time the lead singer just lets out all his inner rage, and his extreme emotional tone is unbelievable. Sometimes before he screams out in agony, there are these small conversations he has with himself that make him sound like he is completely losing his sanity. Song number three, “The King,” is more of a straight up aggressive track. Here the band does not hold back and the raw power is turned up to the highest level possible.
    About midway through the album, the music only gets heavier and more technically interesting. Songs like “White Man’s Burden” and “Gentleman’s Club” are insane musical rides that flow with a powerful surge of unapologetic emotion. The riffs never become repetitive or simplistic and create huge sounding atmospheres. My favorite track on this album is “The Man Who Wasn’t There” because the way the riffs are recorded along with the vocals and drums is just right. The main verse is very moving in the sense that you feel the energy flowing through body waiting to be released once the main chorus riff begins. Art Far Away carries this emotional build-up style on the last couple songs which really sends this album off into extreme technical metal madness.
    Verisimilitude & The Second Estate, is a debut release that delivers extreme metal music with pure force and self-determined passion. Art Fart Away is a group who does not fall into one metal category, and can be best described as a young hungry extreme music act with a sound to blow out your speakers. I am glad that I did not let the metalcore tag stop me from checking out this band. This group offers a perfect chance for people to releases those festering emotions, so I highly recommend Art Far Away for all you energy releasing metal fans. My final words are to break down the walls of metal categorization and let the music do the talking, or growling.