You shoulda been there: Baroness at Fritz Club, Berlin

•October 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

baroness

In the spirit of “I hate writing reviews and no one reads them anyway” I am now trialing short and completely biased “heartfelt recommendations” (thanks to @alanbaxter for coming up with the term). I have already given Adelaide’s Imminent Psychosis a “Good shit heads up” and here I’m trying the same thing with a live review, under the moniker “You shoulda been there”. Am I on the right track? Let me know in the comments.

Last year in the middle of winter I dragged my arse across town in the snow to go see The Sword at Magnet Club, on a last minute whim, only to find out at the door that all tickets had been sold. The blow was particularly stinging because I’m not even a huge fan of the band. The general concensus amongst my Facebook friends as I lamented my luck was that Berlin just loves anything even remotely stoner.

I am therefore incredulous that Baroness, a far superior band, did not sell out Fritz Club, a much smaller venue, at a much less brutally cold time of year. It may have something to do with the fact that I didn’t see a single poster around town advertising the show in the months leading up to it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. A few hours earlier the following online conversation transpired.

Biodagar: You heard Royal Thunder? You’d dig it.
Goatlady: They are supporting Baroness tonight. I’ve not heard them though.
Biodagar: FUCK. Hate you. What are the chances of that?

So with that recommendation, we set off early to make sure we saw the support act. Our tickets said that doors opened at 7pm and the show started at 8pm. We arrived at 8pm, checked out coats, visited the bar and picked out a good spot to wait. And wait we did, for almost an hour, until… Baroness came on stage. I still don’t know if Royal Thunder didn’t play, or if they played their entire set before we got there. But either way, it was a bit disappointing. If we had not intended to see the support act and shown up later, we might have missed part of the headline set as well.

Anyway, onto the main event.

Yeah, FUCK YEAH. Baroness.

I’ve not seen them headlining before – only in cruelly short festival sets and once supporting Metallica (hey, did I ever tell you about the time I got roped in to see Metallica and nearly got in a fight? No? Maybe another time). So it was a great thing to see them given the sound and lighting guys’ full attention and time to play a complete set. The sound guy did an amazing job, by the way, and the lighting was pretty special too, entirely colour coded – green and yellow for the new stuff, blue for songs from the Blue Record and red red red for the very last song, Isak, the only track to make it in from the Red Album.

The set was heavy with new material, and it worked really well live. The harmonies were hauntingly beautiful and spot on. It’s refreshing to see a band – a metal band no less – where the vocals do not suffer in a live setting. The heavy bits were… well, heavy. We jumped around for an hour and a half or however long it was and got insanely overheated but loved every second of it.

Love love love Baroness. You shoulda been there.

 

 

 

 

Good Shit Heads Up: Imminent Psychosis – To Walk With The Dead

•October 10, 2013 • 1 Comment

imminent

I hate writing reviews. Really I do. I Either I like it, I love it, or I don’t and I can’t be bothered listening to things I don’t like (unless someone swears that listening to it on repeat will change my mind). No one wants to read reviews that say “this is awse!” or “nah this sucks”. And I’m too lazy busy to get in-depth with the nouns and the verbs and the adjectives.

I really want to tell the world about the new Imminent Psychosis album – To Walk With The Dead – because it’s good shit and cos I was asked to, but I hate writing reviews so let’s call this a Good Shit Heads Up. I actually heard a version – perhaps not the final mix? – when I was in Adelaide earlier this year staying at  vocalist Troy’s house, and it sounded awesome then, but even better now. It’s thrashy and a bit crusty and it sounds underground and a tiny bit old-school (I guess because it is). Rifftastic. I like it and think you will too. So check em out.

Imminent Psychosis on Bandcamp (digital album available for a fiver! Crazy good value)

Imminent Psychosis on Facebook

Crowdfunding the underground

•August 17, 2013 • 1 Comment

metalevolution

Two crowd-funded campaigns came to my attention this last week, and both were interesting enough to convince me to part with some hard-earned cash.

The first is Metal Evolution: Extreme Metal – The Final Round which is an effort by Sam Dunn of Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey documentary fame to add an additional episode to the Metal Evolution documentary series, about extreme metal. If, like many other people, you find it impossible to believe that extreme metal was left out of the original series, then here’s your chance to help do something about it. The lowest backer level is $6, which gets you a download of the episode as soon as it’s released. The campaign runs on Indiegogo until October 8, and still has quite some way to go to reach it’s goal of CAD $35,000.

The second is from one of my all-time favourite death metal bands Obituary. These guys have their own studio so were seeking US $10,000 for the production team costs to record a new album without the backing of a label. As it turned out they got that amount in just 24 hours, and at the time of writing have over $37,000 pledged.  They have a number of cool backer rewards including bonuses if they reach certain funding amounts, and the entry level starts at just $1 but if you want the digital album itself, your minimum is $15. And of course there are crazy extras for people with way too much money (the snare drum used in the recording of the End Complete autographed by the band can be yours for $2,500). The campaign runs on Kickstarter until September 16. It will be very interesting to see how much they end up with.

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The thing about crowd-funded campaigns is that it takes artists that people already know about to be successful – no one is going to fund your garage band’s debut when no one has ever heard of it. But for artists with an established name that want to be independent of labels and work directly with the fans, it’s a great concept. Personally I’m very much looking forward to seeing the results of both of these campaigns.

An interview with the author of Music Journalism 101: if you write, you need to read this

•August 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Tish

Not many people would deny that the internet in general – and the online metal press in particular – is largely a cesspool of misinformed, poorly-written and grammatically-bereft filth (present company naturally excluded). There is, however, hope: it comes to us today in the form of Music Journalism 101, a new book by amazeballs warrior of metal Leticia Supple (Biodagar).

I first came across Leticia when she poached me from FasterLouder for her then new venture, Metal As Fuck. She became somewhat of a mentor for me, not only with my writing but also by trusting my untried photography skills enough to score me my first photo pit pass. Despite living quite some distance apart, we became friends – a friendship cemented by metal, a visit to Bon Scott’s grave, and much excessive drinking over the next few years. Although Metal As Fuck has since changed hands, Tish and I still work together on various projects and earlier this year I skipped Roadburn to go to her wedding. If that’s not dedication to a friendship I don’t know what is.

This book has been a long time coming, and having read various iterations from the beginning online course materials to the final version, I can honestly say it’s an excellent resource. I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask Leticia a few questions about it.

Goatlady: Tell us a little about your background – you’re a metalhead, a writer AND you’ve got some interesting claims to fame…

Biodagar: Haha interesting claims to fame? Well, I started music industry things as a teenager, when I was a member of The Push in Victoria. The principle was that teenagers need gigs to go to, and who best to organise them than their peers? I was the President of our group, and did all sorts of fun things like organising and stage managing gigs, front-of-house work, marketing and advertising (including design, distribution, radio ads), and helping out with the annual festival PushOver in various capacities. Then at uni, I started writing for the uni paper, fell in with the music writers, wrote a local metal column there, and forged relationships with people who headhunted me later. I’ve been writing music critique ever since. By trade I’m a professional writer and editor. I’ve edited theses, articles, assignments, textbooks, fiction, memoirs, health-related non-fiction, and a whole gamut of other things. And at one stage I was a board member of the Society of Editors (SA).. I’ve also written my own works, some of which have been published in anthologies, and some which I have … uh… not deemed good enough to bring to public shame.

G: As I understand it, the book developed from an online course you created some time ago. What was the original impetus behind creating these materials? And then what prompted you to make them into a book?

B: When I was running Metal as Fuck, and mentoring writers, I struck a lot of issues that caused me angst. So, what do you do as a writer/blogger? You formulate a response, post a blog, get it done. This happened enough to make me realise that there were no formal resources to point people to (other than editing resources, which I used daily anyway). This gave me the impetus to bring structure to my writing, and posted it progressively. Throughout the years I’ve gotten amazing feedback from people, which surprised me. I had no idea anybody ever read it!

When Tom (Valcanis) and I started collaborating on a series of essays in relation to rock journalism, I realised that hey there’s a market for this stuff. The essay series – still incomplete, and yet to be formed into a complete project – reignited my passion for it, while simultaneously pointing out the gaps in the resource.

Then, many years later, after promising the world the course in book form (seriously, it feels like a hundred years), I had some time. So I revisited it, rewrote a lot of it, incorporated more from the essays, and voila!

G: The book is peppered with personal anecdotes from interviews you’ve done, reviews you’ve written, gigs you’ve been to etc. What’s the highlight of your metal journo career so far? Is there someone you’ve really love to interview or a band you would really like to see live?

B: Argh I’m so vain, I love this question. I have three major highlights. The first is the first major interview I ever did. This was with the almighty Rob Halford. During this interview, I managed to stop him in his tracks with a question to which the response was, “In all the years I’ve been doing this, nobody has ever asked me that question.” I wish I could remember what it was! The second was Rob Cavestany coming out to find me immediately after a set, because he spotted me taking notes during a show; and Joey Vera telling me that on the way to Australia with Death Angel, they talked about the quality of my interviews during the flight. Joey told me, over a beer after a show, that it’s one of the best interviews he’d ever encountered. I nearly fell over!

But it’s all the little things, really. Like Rob Halford telling you he’d love to see Santa in a thong (we were talking about Christmas in summer, for context); Blackie Lawless getting all deep and meaningful on you – and finding out that your interview was great, everyone else’s was shite, but you were also the only female on the interview circuit. Having a band member run around after a show, on a mobile phone, telling everyone, I’m talking to AUSTRALIA and being excited. Getting voicemails left by major bands who got the time wrong; publicists being extremely happy by your ability to take an interview an hour ahead of schedule because you’re prepared. They offset the crap things like Biff Byford telling you the new Saxon will sound like Saxon, and being a bit surly because he was dragged out of the studio to take a phone call.

I would love to interview Lemmy, or Bruce Dickinson. Lemmy is God, Bruce would be a good challenge.

A band I would love to see live? Wow. SO MUCH CHOICE! Australia only generally gets the usual suspects. Can I have two? Twisted Sister and Skeletonwitch.

G: Other than the obvious fame, fortune and millions of adoring groupies, what do you hope will be the outcome of publishing this book?

B: I hope that people read it, love it, find value in it. I hope they send me emails telling me how helpful it is to them. I hope I get a second edition out of it. But if all else fails, the millions of adoring groupies will do. :P

Music Journalism 101: The definitive resource for new and established writers is available now on Amazon and if you write about music in any capacity you should get yourself a copy.

A Pale Horse Named Death

•May 14, 2013 • 4 Comments

APHND-Photo-Credit-Candy-Lust

When Sal Abruscato started his own thang in the form of A Pale Horse Named Death back in 2010, I was on board early. Invisible Oranges was, I believe, the first place I heard about the former Type O Negative and Life Of Agony drummer’s foray into the frontman spot and I have a signed copy of the debut album And Hell Will Follow Me, ordered direct from the band before they received a US distribution deal, to show for it. It’s soulful, harrowing, heavy shit and I loved it. Everyone keeps coming up with the “Type O Negative crossed with Alice In Chains” comparison and it sticks because it’s true – but APHND can stand on it’s own four hooves, no doubt about that.

This month – in just a week, in fact, the new album Lay My Soul To Waste will be released. I interviewed Sal for Metal Underground about the new album last week and based on his responses and the three tracks I have heard so far I think it’s going to be really good. Two are embedded below, and the third premiered today on that bastion of metal hipsterism MetalSucks.

It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about experiencing something that I know will be slit-your-wrists depressing.

Killer By Night:

Shallow Grave:

Unqualified Reviews: Rotten Sound, Species At War (EP)

•January 5, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Rotten Sound - pissed-off Fnns.

Grind. It’s designed to be short, fast, furious, in your face. It’s designed to be obnoxious, abrasive, and to piss people off. I’m not really a grindcore fan, but there are a number of grind/deathgrind bands that I like, often because I’ve seen them live and they kick arse: Napalm Death, Carcass, Brujeria, Nasum, Brutal Truth, Cattle Decapitation, etc.

I decided that I would try to listen to every promo that came past me this year and at least try to get some idea of the flavour of it. Not planning full, in-depth reviews or anything like that, just trying to get an inclination. I missed far too much good music in 2012. So naturally the first two promos that Relapse sling my way are grindcore releases. It’s as if this universe is slapping me down for having a thought that was almost like a New Year’s Resolution. Fuck that. In the ear.

So up front, full disclaimer: I am not properly educated about grindcore and therefore not qualified to review this release.

Congratulations, Rotten Sound. The first four seconds of Cause, the first track from your Species At War EP, had me frantically lunging for the volume knob. The sound you manage to produce – reminiscent of something metal frantically trying to get out of a washing machine – is truly special.

At least, with six acts of aural rape lasting just over 8 minutes, the ordeal is mercifully short.

I am not arrogant: I acknowledge this is music that isn’t made for me. If you’re a grind fan, this is probably your kind of thing. The guitar sound is particularly grating, and the Finnish lads in the band sound rather pissed off. I listened to it twice. It might be a bit of Stockholm Syndrome but I started to appreciate it more the second time around. The playing is pretty tight.

Conclusion: Probably good for a grindcore release, but will not be joining my permanent listening rotation. Released January 18th-22nd, depending on where you are in the world, on Relapse Records. Official Site

Can MySpace’s stinking corpse be resurrected?

•October 6, 2012 • 1 Comment

when there's no more room in hell...

Image credit: Kelly Bailey

I’ve built web sites for a couple of my favourite independent metal bands – namely, Cauldron Black Ram and Nails of Imposition. When talking about their requirements in terms of social media, both bands were quick to stress that they wanted to be done with MySpace (MySpaz, MySuck, etc) once and for all, were reluctantly using Facebook even though the tools available for bands were limited, and were embracing Bandcamp – which, although great for streaming music and allowing digital purchases, is no replacement for a full web site.

Being a web developer by trade, it’s always been my position that every band/business/individual should have their own web site that they fully control, instead of relying on a profile on a third party site which almost certainly has company profit and not the user’s best interest at heart. This was borne out when MySpace turned to MySuck, and again every time Facebook changes some minor aspect of how the site operates resulting in tiresome panicked status updates pointlessly urging mass user exodus or hollow threats of “facebook suicide”. Yeah, we all have those “friends”.

That’s not to say that profiles on social media sites are not useful – in most cases fantastic, and in some even essential – for bands. At the moment I would not recommend that a band didn’t have at least a Bandcamp and Facebook profile, and quite possibly profiles on Twitter, YouTube, LastFM, ReverbNation, and yes, even MySpaz, in addition to their own dedicated web site and mailing list.

And just like you never know when a service is going to go south, there’s also the possibility that one that has been discounted will rise, zombie-like, from the grave. It looks like this might – maybe, possibly, hopefully? – be the case with MySpace. The service’s history is interesting – it started out small, got stupidly popular, sold for a gazillion US $580 million to one of the largest media companies inthe world, who managed to completely destroy all credibility it ever had before offloading it for a mere US $35 million just five years later. I don’t know about you, but those numbers are so stupidly staggeringly huge that they have almost no meaning at all to me. There must have been some serious incompetence going on there.

But it turns out that the new owners – one of whom is pop pretty boy Justin Timberlake – have a plan, man. A completely new MySpace is in private beta and the video that they have released looks pretty interesting, if you can imagine replacing all the crap music with appropriately brutal alternatives (maybe turn the sound down before watching). Check it out below:

There’s also a vaguely interesting interview in Wired with “TV music supervisor Scott Vener” who is the “curator” of the new MySpace, whatever that actually means.

While it’s tempting to dismiss anything they do as “too little, too late” I think that as yet, there is still no great platform for bands to promote their music, and so a definite opportunity exists. Facebook sometimes tries but being so singlemindedly focused on profit and annoyingly changeable, historically, means it just doesn’t do a good job. Bandcamp does one thing really well – streaming and sale of digital music – but it does only that one thing, and bands really need more. The other sites have their uses but there is no all-in-one solution.

Could MySpace pull it off? They certainly have nothing to lose. It will be interesting to watch.

 
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