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  • Party.San Open Air 2014 review

    20 aug 2014, 16:00 av Joe_Towse

    After about a million miles of travelling, we'd arrived at Party San Open Air 2014 with all the delights that the excellent lineup promised. It started off reasonably well – Necrowretch, despite not matching the performance that they'd produced at Live Evil 2013, played a tight set which managed to get a very solid crowd reaction for a festival's first band. Closing with a cover of 'Zombie Ritual' can never do any harm either. Following are God Macabre. I must admit, I've never found the time to give The Winterlong the attention it probably deserves, but their stellar performance here (playing a mixture of album tracks, Macabre End demo tracks and a Carnage cover) is more than persuasive enough to persuade me to remedy that.

    We give Skeletonwitch a miss because frankly, they're shit, but after a quick dash back to the tent for a couple of beers (I yearned for a good pint of ale several times during the festival – damn the outdated and pesky German beer purity laws), we see the immense Atlantean Kodex. Playing a solid mixture of material from their two albums, peaking with their eponymous song before closing with 'Pilgrim', the performance is about as metal as you can get. As impressive as Markus Becker's vocal performance is on record, it is only live that one can truly witness the power and emotion of his singing. Do not miss any chance to see them.

    I can't remember if we saw Grave, but if we did, I can't remember anything of the set, so Entombed AD are the next band I can discuss. Their performance is poor, the new material being as lifeless and dull as it is on record, and classics such as 'Revel in Flesh' and 'Supposed to Rot' being butchered not only by key rhythmic changes, but also by LG Petrov's awful quasi-melodic recent approach to death metal vocals.

    I'm not a fan of Sólstafir on record, finding them stuck in that awkward medium where they either need to add riffs or drop the heavy guitars, but their performance is decent, especially after they launch into the anthemic 'Fjara' (which incidentally shows a step towards the way forward for them of dropping the metal from their sound) about halfway through their set, which I believe consists of four songs (perhaps a bigger Sólstafir fan who was also there will be able to provide more accurate information). The night is closed by Watain, who provide an excellent showcase of exactly how useless they are. After pulling the expected wannabe-rockstar card of taking to the stage 25 minutes late (every other set throughout the day was perfectly to schedule), they fill the arena with a bit of gimmicky crap set to a background of two tracks from The Wild Hunt, then a poor performance of 'Malfeitor', after which beer and sleep became the better alternative and we left.

    You might have seen me on the Friday or Saturday – I was the fat English guy in the Fukpig t-shirt and tracksuit shorts alternating between lying down in the arena and swearing. The first full day begins with Jig-Ai and their super-fun goregrind. Getting a circle pit going, albeit brief, at midday is quite an achievement indeed, and an errant beach ball only adds to the entertainment. After it is decided that the neothrash of Havok and Lost Society isn't worth the time of day, Ahab's ponderous funeral doom is well-performed but marred by the borderline intolerable heat of the German sun, which is especially unsuitable given their nautical theme.

    Inquisition, on the other hand, just about manage to get over this formidable barrier. Although at times the sun causes individual tracks to run into one another, the power of the band, especially for a two-piece, is stunning. Dagon's enormous stage presence is well-supported by Incubus' thunderous pounding, and I don't seem to be the only one entranced in the crowd. After ignoring Aborted (I honestly can't fathom why anyone likes that band), we return for the excellent Benediction. Although the start of their set is mostly less-appreciated recent tracks (which are pretty fun nevertheless), once they get going with 'Subconscious Terror' things start to look up, and 'Magnificat' is a riotous close to a great set.

    After skipping another one of my pet hates in Misery Index, Repulsion are one of the bands I've been looking forward to most in the festival, and they don't disappoint. Without much material to draw from, pretty much everything one could want to hear was played (except for perhaps 'The Stench of Burning Death', but I arrived 5 minutes late so perhaps they opened with that), with a bonus cover of the Venom classic 'Schizo'. Highlights include 'Helga (Lost Her Head)', 'Horrified', and 'Maggots in Your Coffin' but really the whole set lives up to expectations and then some, proving that at least some reunions of cult legends don't end up in miserable failure.

    There's again, time for a rest as The Haunted are playing, but we come back for Suffocation. Their set is perfectly performed despite highlighting the relative weakness of the Pinnacle of Bedlam and Blood Oath material, but is let down slightly by Frank Mullen's frankly embarrassing talk between songs, in which the word 'fuck' and its derivatives seem to make up around 80% of everything said. The evening finishes with Marduk's disappointing performance as Satyricon seem about as exciting as another piss against the fence. Something's up with the guitar sound, I think, but I can't be sure, and ultimately Marduk's set lacks intrigue.

    Nocturnal open Saturday with a competent performance. There's not much more to say about their black/thrash apart from being grateful that they don't really turn having a female vocalist into a gimmick. Mumakil are a slight step down. They've never been a great band and although their sound is pretty much carnage, it lacks any hooks to complete it, which is unfortunately reflected in their live performance.

    Ereb Altor are a surprise. While I've never been a big fan of Hammerheart imitators (though the album itself is great), and my interest in the band has been limited to a couple of half-attentive listens to Gastrike, the sound translates incredibly well to the live arena, their set surviving through the pissing rain it begins in. Perhaps it's a bit late for tributes to Quorthon, but their rendition of the title track of Blood Fire Death makes up for the frontman's speech.

    I was looking forward to Protector, and was actually quite surprised that they were this low down on the bill, especially in a festival in Germany, but they leave me disappointed. The entire band seems a little bored half the time, and although a lot of time is given over to classic material, it lacks energy for whatever reason, to the extent that it is overshadowed by material from the good, but not great, comeback album Reanimated Homunculus.

    After a long-first session of the day, being kicked in the balls by a donkey seems preferable to the tedium of Imperium Dekadenz and Kampfar, and I reluctantly also give Malevolent Creation a miss, knowing that the rest of the day is going to be action-packed and we're both pretty tired already. It proves worth it, as Aura Noir provide an excellent set, with a strong focus on their earlier material, opening with 'Black Thrash Attack' with several other tracks off the debut (including my personal favourite 'Fighting for Hell') also making an appearance. Perhaps the best way to describe the quality of the set is how sore my neck is at the end.

    I stick around to hear the hectic closer 'The Stalker' before dashing over to the tent stage to see Beyond, the set of whom I have fortunately only missed five minutes of. Although the inferior acoustics inside the tent don't lend themselves well to Beyond's chaotic black/death, with the result that many riffs are unfortunately lost inside the wall of sound, the set is still rather powerful (indeed, one could say it emanated a Fatal Power of Death... okay, I'll stop), and I'm sure nobody left that tent without being impressed in some way or other.

    Grand Magus never have and never will be a life-changing experience, but laying down, staring at the stars while listening to their repertoire is a pleasant enough experience, and I've perhaps never felt more manly than getting bits of pork eaten off the bone stuck in my beard while they play 'Iron Will'. Perhaps that's the entire point of Grand Magus.

    I probably can't be trusted to give an impartial, balanced review of Napalm Death, being my favourite band as they are, but for me they're the band of the festival. Playing a set taken from across all their eras, even the middle-period material which is weaker on record, such as 'Breed to Breathe' and 'Self Betrayal', is exceptional live. Of course, the newer material off Smear Campaign through Utilitarian is great, and classics off Scum through Harmony Corruption are unmatched at the festival. Closing with a cover so idiosyncratic they've almost made the song their own, of course, of 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off', I'm left a bit of a mess after the set, but a delighted one. Oh, and if you're reading, sorry again to the girl in the front row whose eye I caught with my finger.

    After the sheer intensity of that and how exhausted it leaves me, I perhaps don't enjoy Bölzer as much as I could have, especially as they again suffer from the inferior sound of the tent-stage. For that reason, I won't review them at length, but even in my state their set was enjoyable, and the intro riff to 'Entranced by the Wolfshook' is perhaps the best riff to come out of extreme metal this decade.

    Because Katatonia are as boring as a holiday weekend in the suburbs of Coventry, we head to the tent for a beer or two, which unfortunately causes us to miss the start of Obituary, including my personal favourite 'Immortal Visions'. Not to worry, as even the material from after Cause of Death comes over decently live, although a preview of a new track from Inked in Blood contains a couple of worrying chugga-chugga parts. It's made up for by the monstrous closer 'Slowly We Rot'.

    Kreator are shit. I'm not saying that as a general statement – by all accounts including my own, Pleasure to Kill is one of the greatest thrash metal albums of all time. But this performance is really, really shit. After pulling the same prima donna stunt as Watain and arriving on stage 20 minutes late, it really is to rub salt into the wound to launch into a set which comprises primarily of tracks off the new Arch Enemy album Phantom Antichrist, and Hordes of Chaos. What really confirms this set as a steaming pile of shit is Mille's attitude, and in particular his attempts to turn 'Pleasure to Kill' and 'Riot of Violence' into stadium rock anthems with small, but fundamental changes to their composition. An unfortunate end to an otherwise wonderful festival.
  • Bloodstock Open Air 2012: The Review

    14 aug 2012, 18:14 av Joe_Towse

    Thu 9 Aug – Bloodstock Open Air 2012

    A terrible group rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ accompanies the shuttle bus transfer from Lichfield to Catton Hall. My hand is numb and my fingers are practically lacerated from carrying a poor plastic bag filled with food and beer from the local Tesco. I need to piss. But there is nothing which can detract from the fact that in a few minutes’ time, we will be arriving at the 2012 edition of Bloodstock Open Air.

    90 minutes later, the tents are up, the first beer is consumed, and we head over to the arena, which should be opening. It’s very hot. The gates open, and the carnage duly begins. We start with a brief look around the stalls – at first, CDs and t-shirts both seem rather expensive, but there are some cheaper stalls (I pick up 4 CDs over the weekend).

    But anyway, to the bands. The first band of the weekend, and one of the two I see on Thursday is Saturnian. They play the same music as Dimmu Borgir, but on a lower scale. I’m not a huge Dimmu fan so naturally this doesn’t appeal to me much, but it’s a passable way to begin the weekend. I miss Marionette and Bloodshot Dawn, so the next band I see is Viking Skull. They’re much more enjoyable than Saturnian – and I should think so, they’re essentially headlining the pre-party – and their riffs and songwriting truly get the show on the road. The setlist is a little poorly ordered, as two songs are played in a row which essentially had the same riff, but it’s a headbangable set nonetheless. The night finishes with comedy from Steve Hughes, who is a decent, but not fantastic comedian (the appeal to the Bloodstock crowd clearly comes from his billing as a heavy metal comedian and the fact that he used to be in Slaughter Lord).

    Friday begins on the New Blood stage with the band In Coma – the only reason why we stick around for the entire set is that they’re the only band on at the time. Their brand of core-y melodeath is dull, and the female harsh vocals are poorly done to the point of being grating. Still, they’re not as bad as the appalling Malefice on the main stage. The jump-da-fuck-up attitude is as laughable as their music, which is modern groove metal interspersed with breakdowns. If the choice weren’t between them and a symphonic power metal band, I’d be leaving at this stage.

    Speaking of power metal, Freedom Call are a much more attractive proposition live than on record – they’re great fun, and although their music might not have any depth to it, this cannot spoil the ‘happy metal party’ they espouse in either drunken or broken English. The first band I’m really looking forward to of the weekend is Grand Magus, but unfortunately they’re a little disappointing – the set is good, but it really does show how the material from newest album The Hunt pales in comparison to older material. I didn’t get there at the very start, but I don’t believe they played anything from their masterpiece Iron Will either. That’s not to say they give a bad performance, mind.

    After a short break for some lunch, I catch the first few minutes of Moonsorrowon the main stage, who seem live like they are on record – decent, but overlong and not involving – before going over to the Sophie Lancaster stage to watch Sweet Savage. For a band who are famous for a Metallica cover, the reformed NWOBHM band come across well, despite their material not being particularly strong and frontman Ray Haller’s insistence on talking about Metallica all the bloody time. Their newer material sounds about as good as the older, but clearly the whole set revolves around playing ‘Killing Time’, along with their closing Thin Lizzy cover.

    Back to the main stage, and Iced Earth are playing. I can’t call myself a huge Iced Earth fan, but I do really enjoy Burnt Offerings and The Dark Saga, so I’m disappointed that nothing off either of these albums is played, focusing instead on last year’s Dystopia and presumably other more recent material. It’s obvious that Jon Schaffer is a talismanic vocalist, and it’s clear that recent songs would be boring without him, although his machismo is not endearing. There’s time for a half-hour break before Sepultura, who promise a set of classic material but in fact deliver mostly Chaos AD material along with a few tracks off the abominable Roots and Kairos. It’s great when they play ‘Beneath The Remains’ and ‘Arise’, however, and although ‘new’ vocalist Derrick Green comes across like Fred Durst at times, he doesn’t detrimentally affect the old songs at all. It’s an energetic performance ruined by a god-awful setlist.

    Once again, a half-hour break before the mighty Dio Disciples. The performance is a fitting tribute to the late, great Ronnie James Dio after whom the main stage is named – both Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Toby Jepson do a good job at sounding exactly like him, and the set visits every stage of the man’s career, from Rainbow, via Black Sabbath and his early solo classics, to the later stages of his solo career ('Magica', for instance). The crowd sings along and it’s the best performance of the weekend so far.

    I arrive to Watain a little late after getting dinner, unfortunately missing my favourite song of theirs (‘Malfeitor’), but the melodic black metal band puts on an impressive stage display, being the first band of the weekend to use pyrotechnics – and with the darkening sky around us it works particularly well with songs like ‘Stellarvore’. Naturally, the setlist mainly rotates around Lawless Darkness and Sworn To The Dark, but those albums are there strongest material. As their set runs some way over their allotted time, I leave about 15 minutes early to catch the end of Alcest. There’s little difference between Alcest on record and Alcest live, but the atmosphere in the Sophie Lancaster tent is perfectly conducive to their brand of blackened shoegaze, and the quality of frontman Neige’s work is well apparent.

    And so to the day’s headliners, the almighty Behemoth. Perhaps the least famous of the three headliners, their studio material is probably the strongest of the three, and their live performance is more than a match for it. After having to pull out of the festival previously due to a cancer scare, frontman Nergal is glad to be alive, and the night adds to the mystique of old material and the brutality of the likes of ‘Demigod’ and ‘Slaves Shall Serve’. Closing with ‘Lucifer’ is a good idea, and what appears as a fairly mundane track on Evangelion comes alive in the live setting as it brings in the night. The mix is very good, and it’s possible to pick out individual melodies and instruments during blastbeats, which is an unfortunately rare occurrence.

    After a shockingly good night’s sleep, the first band of the day is Apollyonon the New Blood stage. Much better than their counterparts In Coma of the day before, their slightly death-y thrash metal wakes everyone up. They’re not a band I’d seek out to listen to, but they’re more than passable. The first band I’m really looking forward to of the day, however, is Benediction. Death metal with d-beats is a great idea, and I don’t see why more bands don’t play that style. And despite Dave Hunt’s lack of properly functioning legs at the moment, they put on a great performance, the large crowd they draw (at 11am, no less!) attesting to the quality of the Brummie veterans.

    I have a brief look in at Savage Messiah, but they’re uninspired and the mix does them no favours – a generic modern thrash band playing generic modern thrash is not something I really want to waste my time on, and I don’t see why Earache Records (a fairly consistent label for those not aware) waste their time on them either. Much better, however, are Dripback– although by appearance we’d presume they were either a nu metal or ‘wigger slam’ band, they actually play a very palatable mixture of death metal, grindcore and hardcore. They use breakdowns tastefully and in extreme moderation rather than to excess, and the enthusiastic response they receive from the crowd is well deserved.

    Chthonicare a fairly generic symphonic black metal band, and their fame is due to three main factors. Firstly, they’re Taiwanese; secondly, they use oriental scales and occasionally instruments in their music; and thirdly and perhaps most importantly, bassist Doris Yeh is very attractive. Still, these things can’t make up for a frankly lacklustre performance, and although their most recent album Takasago Army was a big step up in terms of quality, they still essentially embody the term ‘overrated’.

    I don’t like Crowbar so I give them a miss, and there’s nothing on any of the other stages until the almighty Mayhem. After they open with ‘Deathcrush’, it’s fairly certain the set is going to be good, and although the weather is a little bit too… happy for the band to have their full effect, mixing newer stuff with classics about evenly works well, and they even pay tribute to their legacy by closing with ‘Carnage’ and the title track off the Pure Fucking Armageddon demo. A very impressive performance by one of the bands of the weekend.

    Winterfylleth are very, very dull live (although I’m warming to their studio output), so after a couple of songs from their set I leave to go and see Sanctuary. Although the two new songs they play are frankly terrible, their older material is performed with the same aptitude I don’t doubt it was in their heyday. It’s a very good performance, and of course they close with the classic song ‘Battle Angels’.

    Back at the Sophie Lancaster tent, and Witchsorrow put on a very good performance – they play stoner-ish doom, a style which I’d never seen live before, but their excellent riffs and atmosphere make for a great set – I’ll have to give their album a proper listen. After this one, I’ll even let them off for entitling a song ‘Breaking The Lore’ (if you don’t get that, you clearly need to go back to metal school).

    The only New Blood band I’d heard before the weekend is our next stop (frankly, who gives a shit about Hatebreed?). Doomed are a hugely promising band – the From The Crypt EP is very good, and the Slovenian bunch also put on a great live show. Unfortunately very few people turn up to see them, and I don’t manage to catch one of the t-shirts they throw out, but this can’t deter either me or them. They’re changing their name soon due to problems with other bands sharing their name to Verminate, so keep an eye out.

    Testament are fucking huge within thrash circles – just bordering the big 4 in terms of importance. Personally, I don’t like much of their post-80s stuff, but this is an exciting, energetic performance. The older stuff is marred a little bit by Chuck Billy’s new, inferior vocal approach, but it’s still impossible to deny the vitality of classics such as ‘Into The Pit’, ‘Practice What You Preach’ and ‘Over The Wall’. The fact that ‘Native Blood’ seems to be the only song the organizers play between bands on the main stage makes it irritating to listen to now, but Testament are Testament and that’s what Testament are.

    I give Orange Goblin a miss due to being absolutely knackered, and with low expectations head over to Machine Head. Their music’s no longer attractive to my ears, and Rob Flynn gives an absolutely retarded speech about house music, generalizing fans of the genre to background music listeners, but the 13 year old in me erupts and songs like ‘Halo’ and ‘Davidian’ are not only well performed but send the crowd absolutely wild. That said, you won’t find me joining the ‘MACHINE FUCKIN’ HEAD!’-chanting idiot parade soon.

    We start Sunday with Seprevation, who are a very nice surprise on the New Blood stage. They play old-school style death/thrash, and although they wear their influences literally on their sleeves with a Sepultura ‘Schizophrenia’ shirt and a Sadus cover, their music is undeniably good, and induces the only 10.30am moshpit you’re ever likely to see. After them, Kobra And The Lotus are a huge let-down. The Canadian band play trad-ish metal with female vocals, but the riffs are neither interesting nor exciting, and said female vocals are constantly shrieky and high-pitched to the extent that they begin to hurt my ears after a while.

    An early lunch means that the next band I see is Flayed Disciple. Although the misogyny is not cool, the music is, and the furious headbanging in the crowd is for a reason. Their debut album Death Hammer is well worth a listen. Unfortunately they didn’t play my personal favourite ‘Ejaculate While Killing’ before I went to see Nile, who played a set filled with mainly post-Annihilation Of The Wicked material, aside from the closing brilliance of ‘Black Seeds Of Vengeance’. It must be said they put on a good show, and although their new album is somewhat disappointing, they know what their strong material is (‘Lashed To The Slave Stick’ gets played), despite the conspicuous absence of ‘Papyrus Containing The Spell To Preserve Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is In The Water’.

    The Black Dahlia Murder are not very good. Although they’re preferable to the other bands on at the time (Crimes Of Passion and Dream Catcher), they really don’t have much going for them aside from one strong album in Miasma, off which they play only one track. The tough-guy attitude is irritating too – I turn up to cries of ‘FUCKING BRUTAL’ and ‘It’s fist o’clock! Get those hands in the air motherfuckers!’.

    On the other hand, Evileare excellent. Although their studio output has been lacklustre at most since debut Enter The Grave, it does translate well to the live arena. The crowd is wild, and tracks like ‘Cult’ and ‘Infected Nation’ become good all of a sudden. Closing with the fantastic ‘Thrasher’ (the song featured on Rock Band for which they are known) can’t be a bad idea either - the pits are insane for its duration.

    Although Anvilare best known for the Spinal Tap-esque documentary about them, they actually produce fairly good NWOBHM-style music (it’s not actually NWOBHM due to them being Canadian). Certainly both ‘Mothra’ and the title track off their magnum opus Metal On Metal come across well (there’s a rather surreal guitar/vibrator solo in the middle of the former), and their recent material is surprisingly strong. Frontman Steve Kudlow seems genuinely delighted to be there, which adds a delightful whimsical element to the performance.

    Paradise Lost are decent, but not great. Opening with the monumental ‘The Enemy’, their set descends into weaker mid-period material rather quickly, with only ‘As I Die’ off Shades Of God from their classic era – no rendition of ‘Gothic’ to be found. The tracks off their latest album Tragic Idol have a curious vocal element to them where Nick Holmes’ voice seems to be half an octave higher than on the record without creating dissonance.

    The second-to-last band of the weekend are the incredible Anaal Nathrakh. Although I’m beyond tired at this stage, I can’t resist the pits for this one, and Nathrakh blaze through a set that is best described by the title to closer ‘Pandemonic Hyperblast’. Visiting every album on the way (including a delightful ‘Do Not Speak’ from Domine Non Es Dignus), Dave Hunt is as brilliant in his second performance of the weekend as he was in his first with Benediction. To top it off, a ‘wall of death’ forms upon the utterance of ‘We’ve been told by the organizers we’re not allowed to ask you to form a wall… (wall of death forms)… of death, wall of death, wall of death’.

    The final night is headlined by the legendary Alice Cooper. Playing a set filled with classics and one new song (‘I’ll Bite Your Head Off’), his performance is spectacular as expected (despite a drum solo in the middle) – he arrives on stage dressed as a spider for ‘Black Widow’, and visits the likes of ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Is It My Body’, ‘Poison’ and ‘School’s Out’ on the way through to spectacular encore ‘Elected’. The arena is full of burly metalheads singing their hearts out for ‘Only Women Bleed’, and the performance is very involving despite the lack of stage talk. Undoubtedly the best performance of a fantastic weekend.


    TL;DR:

    The excellent: Dio Disciples, Watain, Behemoth, Benediction, Mayhem, Witchsorrow, Doomed, Seprevation, Evile, Anvil, Anaal Nathrakh, Alice Cooper

    The good: Viking Skull, Freedom Call, Grand Magus, Sweet Savage, Alcest, Apollyon, Dripback, Sanctuary, Testament, Machine Head, Flayed Disciple, Nile

    The average: Moonsorrow, Iced Earth, Chthonic

    The bad: In Coma, Sepultura, Savage Messiah, Winterfylleth, The Black Dahlia Murder

    The dreadful: Malefice, Kobra And The Lotus
  • A Walk Through ... The Best of 2011 (So Far!)

    13 nov 2011, 06:25 av Pseudomancer

    Top Ten Metal of 2011

    Trap Them - Darker Handcraft

    This album gets better everytime I play it. A lot better.

    Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage

    Kind of the James Blake of the metal scene. Why do I love them? See sentence #1.

    Decrepitaph - Profane Doctrines Unburied

    This album encapsulates what I love about Death Metal! Every riff is stellar, the progressions give me the tingles, and they wrap it all up in the cryunchiest, nastiest production this side of '96.

    Wormrot - Dirge

    Really, this is a near tie with Maruta for spot #4. Wormrot edges out the victory, largely thanks to their balls-to-the-wall approach. This is fucking Grind Circa 2011.

    Maruta - Forward Into Regression

    I've heard this referred to as "thinking-man's grind." It's not, but that's okay. This album has the distinction of being not-quite-as-good as Dirge, but still worthy of a four-syllabele adjective.

    Cannibe - Hideous Human Vintage

    Somehow, not the best grind of the year. Flat out, the best fucking debut of the year. Message me if you want to hear this insanely awesome album.

    Shub Niggurath - A Deadly Call from the Stars

    Mexico does it again. This it apparently blackened thrash, and it's some of the best of it's kind. This year, there's been a pronounced technical bent to the albums I like, but Shub Niggurath is just straightforwardly awesome!

    Ulcerate - The Destroyers Of All

    This is that technical bent I mentioned. Really, this album will rank higher at the end of the year.

    Pulling Teeth - Funerary

    Best album of the year. One of the few bands in the genre to approach Fucked Up.

    Cannabis Corpse - Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise

    CC>CC. That's all I have to say.

    Autopsy - Macabre Eternal

    I haven't been around long enough (i.e. not since '93) to know why Autopsy's a big deal. More than any other modern album by the fathers of death metal, though, this album slays.

    +

    AOTY Contenders

    Britney Spears- Femme Fatale
    blink-182- Neighborhoods
    Trap Them - Darker Handcraft
    James Blake- James Blake
    Wolves in the Throne Room- Celestial Lineage
    St. Vincent- Strange Mercy
  • EMF Bi-weekly II: The Draconian Effect Of Copyright Law

    13 okt 2011, 15:02 av Joe_Towse

    NOTE: This isn't written especially for the purpose, it's an article I wrote for a student blog a while back. I'm doing this because I don't really have time this week, and it seems appropriate to this group.

    ‘Copyright’ was a term that first came into being after the Statute Of Anne in 1709 – this was intended to protect the publishers of books against unwanted pirating of their works. That statute allowed authors and publishers to apply for the exclusive right to create copies of books that were their intellectual property – however, instead of creating any automatic or perpetual right, this was originally for 14 years, and then another 14 if the copyright owner was still alive, and only applied if the owner made the application to have said copyright.

    Furthermore, it only restricted the creation of absolute copies of the work – all ‘derivative works’ were originally okay, although this was soon changed to exclude works where one or two words of the original had been changed. Despite the protection it afforded to publishers, the London publishing monopolists strongly opposed the law (and even challenged it in Midwinter v Hamilton). Why? Due to a previous common law assumption that any copyright would be perpetual. They felt that this law was placing unfair restrictions on ‘their’ property – which was naturally based on the assumption that intellectual property should come with the same rights as physical property.

    These rights are now held in the Berne Convention – which dictates that copyright must be automatic (I’ll explain the problems with this later) and has the provision that any copyright in one country must also be valid in all other signatory countries – and those to the ‘European directive on harmonizing the terms of copyright protection’. The key changes now from the original copyright system (which was fair enough, in my opinion) are that all intellectual property works are now automatically copyrighted, as said above, no longer have the requirement to be held on a register, or even display the © mark, that the term of copyright is now 70 years after death for individuals and 98 years for corporations, and most importantly, that nearly all derivative works are strictly regulated, except those which fall under ‘fair use’ guidelines.

    Consider this. You are a budding computing student, studying at one of the top computing colleges in the world, and create a search engine, which will allow people to find other publicly shared files on the system, for the purposes of exchanging ideas, thoughts and information. You have savings of £12,000. Then, all of a sudden, you get an angry letter from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America), threatening a lawsuit for an obscene amount in damages ($98,000,000,000) for files shared on your search engine. They offer to settle for £12,000.

    Knowing that even if you win the case, you will be unlikely to be able to recoup your legal costs, and that legal aid is unavailable for you, thus you would end up spending around £250,000 in legal costs, what would you do? Whatever happens, you’re going to lose a silly amount of money for an action that is morally irreprehensible, hell, it’s a good thing to do, in that it helps others with no direct damage.

    This may sound like a silly example, but that is what happened to a student in Michigan called Joe Nievelt. This is just one of many examples of copyright law allowing individuals to be victimised by corporations for actions which they either have not done, or could not foresee the consequences of. Another problem here is that the automatic copyright means that the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) are suing people for sharing, or making derivative works of, art that the author did not give commercial value to in the first place; the responsibility is on the author to directly provide a license for such use.

    The problem with the automatic copyright, which I just touched upon, is that it gives silly copyright terms to works which have no commercial value. It also means that works that are out of production will not be redistributed unless the copyright author sees fit to. It is estimated that only roughly 5% of works in copyright are in print; this leads to the conclusion that the wider enjoyment of art and culture is being prevented for technical statutory reasons, rather than actual moral or financial reasons.

    The incredibly long copyright term is bordering on the ridiculous to begin with (especially for someone like me who is against inheritance of any property), and already begs the question of whether someone should be liable for millions of pounds in ‘recompense’ for the use of a work, of which the original copyright owner has died. But this is further exacerbated by the rate that Parliament, the European Council and Congress are increasing respective copyright terms, which is currently faster than copyright terms are expiring. I may be slightly off, but I believe that nothing has come into the public domain (free to use) since roughly 1980.

    The first animated film with sound, Disney’s ‘Steamboat Willie’, and coincidentally, the character that brought Disney success (Mickey Mouse, in case you’re wondering), would neither be legal under our current copyright law, due to the contraction of the definition of fair use. You see, both derived from a Buster Keaton silent film (Steamboat Bill), and so under current law, Keaton would be able to successfully sue Disney for every penny he had.

    And yet, this is the Disney that so strongly opposed ‘free culture’ champion Lawrence Lessig’s proposal that copyright no longer be automatic, yet must be registered – a simple change, with no real downsides. Yet Congress still has not enacted this, several years on, and the European Union is far behind. There is no logic to opposing it, unless one believes in the automatic perpetuity of copyright – in essence, the same status as physical property.

    It is also now nearly impossible to find out whether a copyright owner gives permission to use a part of a work, the automatic aspect of copyright now meaning that there is no need to keep a record of who the copyright owner is. As copyrights can be sold, transferred, or indeed different parts of a work owned by different people, this can be a nearly impossible task, the price of which make it entirely unfeasible for non-commercial ventures. Even if the copyright owner can be found, and they would be prepared to allow use of the material, a written statement of permission is normal to obtain to prevent future legal action, and this may dissuade potential donors.

    Finally, there is my more opinionated argument that the creation of art should be a pastime, and nothing more – it ultimately contributes nothing necessary to society, unlike the vast majority of occupations. I can understand the need to recoup costs, or indeed to find someone to stump up the money in the first place, but I cannot see the requirement for a profit margin in the creation of art, and with the Tories slashing the government subsidies available for artists (the UK Film Council is no more, for example), there is next to no prospect of artists ever getting a good deal in our current state of affairs.



    This post was mainly inspired by Lawrence Lessig’s book ‘Free Culture’ (available, I believe, under a Creative Commons license). It is a great read – I would recommend it highly.
  • The ExMF (Bi-)Weekly: The Top 5 Most Pretentious Black Metal Bands

    26 sep 2011, 03:00 av HeySharpshooter

    Since its humble, church-charring roots among the streets of Olso, Black Metal has always attracted the "we are better than you, but not happy about it" type. When you biggest, most recognizable personalities come up with names like Count Grishnackh and Euronymous and start underground record labels in half decrepit buildings to hang out and talk about corn flakes, your underground cool factor is probably pretty high amongst a certain crowd.

    Whether they like to admit it or not, the history of Black Metal is largely an underground hipster reaction to the increasing popularity of Death and Thrash Metal. In other words, the cool kids(and foreign too, so that doubles the cool) got too awesome for that faggot Death Metal shit and started being trve as fuck to make a point. A point that... they were indeed fucking trve. But not only trve, but also grimm. And whatever other purposely misspelled adjectives they could come up with to quantify how fucking awesome they are. But only the trvest, grimmest mother fuckers made this list. Or the most pretentious douche bags. You decide.

    Varg Vikernes aka. Burzum aka. Count Grishnackh
    The OG of Black Metal, Varg Vikernes was the trvest dude in the Olso hood. I mean, for all the various mischief that the youngsters of the Second Wave got their sticky little hands into, Varg was the only guy who verifiably murdered a mother fucker. And not just any mother fucker, but his colleague Euronymous. And not just murdered, but stabby stabby stab stab 20 fucking times, including a jab right into Euronymous' skull. So unlike some of the others on this list, Varg has some actual street cred. But once in prison, we learned just how much of a pretentious douche bag Varg was. For starters, he declared stringed instruments and drums as "things black people use, and therefore un-usable by his pure Aryan hands". In other words, between his daily prison beatings, the guards told him he could not have an electric guitar and a drum kit. Of course, rather than just say that to explain his rash of New Wave albums he released from prison, he instead tried to make a point about racial purity and affect the course of the genre he helped create from prison. And of course, once free from prison he went right back to playing the guitar and "mis-remembering" his previous comments. Ya know, maybe Varg isn't just a pretentious douche bag: maybe he is just a douche bag.

    Deathspell Omega
    France is the smelly asshole of pretentiousness. Since the days of Louis XIV and his massive powered wigs, France has been the trail blazer of ultimate douche baggery. For fucks sake, they eat frogs and snails because other European nations are not cool enough to eat disgusting shit found in my bathroom. French Black Metal is no exception, and Deathspell Omega are among the most pretentious of all. Not that you could tell that to their frilly French faces: no one is really sure who they are. That is right: no information is available about the bands membership, their lyrics are either in French or Latin(well known as the 2 gayest languages in history) and their actual philosophy is a fuckall mystery. What are you hiding Deathspell Omega? Are you afraid we will mock your douchebag beards and love of wine?

    Liturgy
    Most of the bands on this list are on this list because they are so infatuated with the culture of Black Metal, they become caricatures of said culture. Hunter Hunt-Hendrix(Jesus fucking Christ. How obvious is it that this guy will be a douche bag?) said “Fuck this shit. I am the coolest dude I know, and I know a lot of people. I can change everything about Black Metal in one fell swoop. People will flock to me and I will bestow upon them a new paradigm of… oh shit, Doctor Who is on!” Triple H, and I shall now refer to him, describes Liturgy and their music as a new “Black Metal Manifesto” for how the genre will be in the future. Describing his Krallice cover band as “transcendental Black Metal” and looking like a total tool, Triple H laid down the fucking law on all these corpse-painted faggots and let them know how things will be done in the future. And then everyone laughed at him, which must have been a huge fucking shock after spending his days as the life of the PBR Mixer.

    Peste Noire
    We all knew France would be back on this list, and to be honest, I could make a list of 20 French Black Metal bands whose tool level is around 9.5. But Peste Noire is a special case. Led by their cracked headed looking singer La Sale Famine de Valfunde(Holy shit, I though Triple H was bad), Peste Noire make unlistenable, poorly played Black Metal that has become hugely popular amongst people who like this sort of thing. Common words used to describe the group, who dress like bikers and use bird calls in their poorly played songs, are “ironic,” “cynical,” and “shitty”(ok, that last one is just mine). Ironic and cynical are well known code words for “douche bag” and “tool.” What is worse? Peste Noire openly embrace these descriptors and their fans still love them. Can’t say much for the intelligence of some Black Metal fans can we?

    Silencer
    “Dude, have you heard Silencer? It’s a one man Black Metal band whose singer is totally fucking crazy, cuts himself and shit and screams like a dying cat! No one who likes music likes them, so obviously they are fucking cool. I need a clover man.” The above sentence, taken from my shitty impersonation of a shitty Black Metal fan, about sums up what Nattramn, the man with the dying cat voice, wants you to know. He also wants you to know that he has spent time in an insane asylum, which makes him even cooler. Of course, none of these stories can be confirmed. Nattramn also wants you to know that. He wants you to know he is indeed crazy, but that he might not be. In other words: “I can’t find a good explanation for my horrible vocals, so I am just crazy I guess…or am I?” No, you are just really kind of a tool. Now quit torturing that fucking cat.
  • PRE-RESET CHARTS

    19 jun 2011, 19:39 av LordsOfTheStorm

    TOP 60 ARTISTS

    1
    Stormlord
    1,500
    2
    Immortal Souls
    391
    3
    Avathar
    272
    4
    Antonio Vivaldi
    252
    5
    Rhapsody of Fire
    225
    6
    Sermon
    214
    7
    Johann Sebastian Bach
    186
    8
    Amorphis
    176
    9
    Atlantean Kodex
    175
    10
    Visionaire
    167
    11
    Amon Amarth
    156
    12
    Augury
    154
    13
    Insomnium
    152
    14
    Quo Vadis
    137
    15
    Celesty
    136
    16
    Obsidian Gate
    129
    17
    Bal-Sagoth
    126
    18
    Obscenity
    125
    19
    Ensiferum
    122
    20
    Iniquity
    119
    21
    Thy Majestie
    115
    22
    Blind Guardian
    113
    22
    Doomsword
    113
    24
    Crystal Eyes
    107
    25
    Crimson Moonlight
    102
    25
    Auvernia
    102
    27
    Kreator
    100
    28
    Ereb Altor
    99
    29
    Wolfchant
    98
    30
    Wintersun
    97
    31
    Summoning
    96
    32
    Century Sleeper
    95
    33
    Robert Schumann
    84
    34
    In Ruins
    82
    35
    Iron Maiden
    76
    35
    Demigod
    76
    37
    Bann
    71
    38
    Unanimated
    69
    39
    Trial of the Bow
    67
    39
    Valfeanor
    67
    41
    Immortal
    61
    41
    Crimson Thorn
    61
    43
    Dismember
    60
    43
    Dew-Scented
    60
    45
    Saturnus
    58
    46
    Lament
    57
    47
    Empyrium
    56
    48
    Chemical Breath
    54
    49
    Under Moonlight Sadness
    53
    49
    Far Beyond
    53
    51
    Mortification
    51
    51
    Holy Knights
    51
    51
    Morionor
    51
    54
    Zonata
    48
    54
    Adramelech
    48
    56
    Mastermind
    47
    56
    Sympathy
    47
    56
    DeathevokatioN
    47
    56
    Violet Sun
    47
    60
    Anonymus
    45
    60
    Torchure
    45
    60
    The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/Yo-Yo Ma

    *Ravi Shankar would appear at 35, but artist was split into separate tags.


    TOP ALBUMS

    1
    Stormlord – Mare Nostrum
    557
    2
    Stormlord – At The Gates Of Utopia
    311
    3
    Stormlord – Supreme Art of War
    252
    4
    Stormlord – The Gorgon Cult
    232
    5
    Atlantean Kodex – The Golden Bough
    175
    6
    Sermon – From Death to Death
    148
    7
    Visionaire – Within the Arcanum Hall
    146
    8
    Celesty – Vendetta
    136
    9
    Quo Vadis – Defiant Imagination
    123
    10
    Rhapsody of Fire – The Frozen Tears Of Angels
    122
    11
    Thy Majestie – Hastings 1066
    115
    12
    Obsidian Gate – The Nightspectral Voyage
    103
    13
    Insomnium – In The Halls Of Waiting
    102
    14
    Immortal Souls – Once Upon a Time in the North
    101
    15
    Ereb Altor – By Honour
    99
    16
    Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time
    98
    17
    Wintersun – Wintersun
    97
    18
    Century Sleeper – Awaken
    95
    19
    Iniquity – Serenadium
    94
    19
    Augury – Fragmentary Evidence
    94
    21
    Immortal Souls – Under the Northern Sky
    90
    22
    Immortal Souls – Wintereich
    84
    23
    In Ruins – Four Seasons of Grey
    82
    23
    Avathar – Beyond the spheres of a mortal world
    82
    25
    Johann Sebastian Bach – Bach's Adagios Disc 1
    76
    26
    Demigod – Slumber of Sullen Eyes
    75
    26
    Wolfchant – A Pagan Storm
    75
    28
    Ensiferum – Ensiferum
    74
    28
    Summoning – Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame
    74
    28
    Stormlord – Where my Spirit Forever Shall Be
    74
    31
    Stormlord – The Curse Of Medusa
    73
    32
    Bal-Sagoth – Starfire Burning Upon the Ice Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule
    68
    33
    Trial of the Bow – Rite Of Passage
    67
    33
    Valfeanor – En Ny Tid
    67
    35
    Antonio Vivaldi – Beatus vir in C, RV 597
    66
    36
    Augury – Concealed
    60
    37
    Saturnus – Paradise Belongs to You
    58
    38
    Lament – Tears of a Leper
    57
    38
    Doomsword – My Name Will Live On
    57
    38
    Sermon – Frustration
    57
    41
    Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
    56
    42
    Amorphis – Tales From the Thousand Lakes
    55
    42
    Empyrium – Songs of Moors & Misty Fields
    55
    44
    Immortal Souls – Ice Upon the Night
    54
    44
    Immortal Souls – Divine Wintertime/Through the Woods, Toward the Dawn
    54
    46
    Under Moonlight Sadness – After The Cosmic Gate
    53
    47
    Auvernia – Afraid Of Me
    52
    48
    Mortification – Scrolls Of The Megilloth
    51
    48
    Holy Knights – Gate Through The Past
    51
    48
    Crimson Moonlight – Veil of Remembrance
    51
    48
    Morionor – Debut Demo
    51
    52
    Rhapsody – Dawn of Victory
    50
    52
    Far Beyond – An Angel's Requiem
    50
    52
    Chemical Breath – Fatal Exposure
    50
    52
    Antonio Vivaldi – The Italian Baroque
    50
    56
    Auvernia – Towards Eternity
    49
    57
    Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
    47
    57
    DeathevokatioN – The Chalice of Ages
    47
    57
    Mastermind – Excelsior!
    47
    57
    Violet Sun – Loneliness in Supremacy
    47
    61
    Kreator – Enemy of God
    46
    61
    Bann – Æschatologia
    35

    TOP TRACKS


    1
    Stormlord – Legacy of the Snake

    112
    2
    Stormlord – The Castaway

    72
    3
    Stormlord – Xanadu (A Vision in a Dream)

    70
    4
    Stormlord – Mare Nostrum

    66
    5
    Stormlord – War (The Supreme Art)

    62
    6
    Stormlord – Dimension: Hate

    61
    7
    Stormlord – Stormlord

    59
    8
    Stormlord – Age of the Dragon

    55
    9
    Stormlord – And The Wind Shall Scream My Name

    53
    10
    Stormlord – The Curse of Medusa

    52
    11
    Stormlord – Under the Samnites' Spears

    49
    11
    Atlantean Kodex – The Atlantean Kodex

    49
    13
    Stormlord – The Oath of the Legion

    47
    13
    Wintersun – Starchild

    47
    15
    Stormlord – Neon Karma
    45
    15
    Stormlord – Emet

    45
    17
    Stormlord – Immortal Heroes

    44
    17
    Stormlord – Scorn
    44
    19
    Stormlord – Memories of Lemuria

    42
    19
    Quo Vadis – Silence Calls the Storm

    42
    21
    Blind Guardian – A Voice In The Dark

    41
    22
    Stormlord – ...And Winter Was
    40
    22
    Avathar – Utreise

    40
    24
    Stormlord – The Gorgon Cult

    37
    24
    Amon Amarth – Twilight Of The Thunder God

    37
    26
    Visionaire – While They Sleep

    36
    26
    Rhapsody of Fire – Raging Starfire

    36
    28
    Stormlord – I am Legend
    32
    28
    Stormlord – Medusa's Coil

    32
    30
    Stormlord – A Descent Into The Kingdom Of The Shades (Live)

    31
    30
    Rhapsody of Fire – Dawn Of Victory

    31
    30
    Rhapsody of Fire – Reign of Terror

    31
    33
    Wolfchant – A Pagan Storm
    29
    34
    Ereb Altor – Wizard

    28
    35
    Stormlord – At the Gates of Utopia
    27
    35
    Stormlord – When My Spirit Forever Shall Be
    27
    37
    Iniquity – Tranquil Seizure

    26
    37
    Stormlord – Descend Into The Kingdom Of The Shades
    26
    39
    In Ruins – Nocturne
    25
    39
    Atlantean Kodex – Temple of Katholic Magick
    25
    41
    Immortal Souls – Snow Soul

    24
    41
    Stormlord – Outro
    24
    41
    Rhapsody of Fire – Emerald Sword
    24
    41
    Augury – Sovereigns Unknown

    24
    45
    In Ruins – The Haunted Moon

    23
    45
    Stormlord – Sir Lorial
    23
    45
    Avathar – Ainulindale

    23
    45
    Obsidian Gate – Act V: The Bethorian Shrine

    23
    45
    Sermon – I Want to Reach the Dawn
    23
    45
    Bal-Sagoth – In the Raven-Haunted Forests of Darkenhold, Where Shadows Reign ...

    23
    45
    Avathar – Autumn of Lothlorien

    23
    45
    Avathar – Under The Shadow

    23
    45
    Rhapsody of Fire – Tornado
    23
    54
    Trial of the Bow – Ubar
    22
    54
    Stormlord – Sir Lorial (Demo version)
    22
    54
    Antonio Vivaldi – In memoria aeterna

    22
    54
    Obsidian Gate – Act II: When Death Unchains the Spectre

    22
    54
    Celesty – Prelude for Vendetta
    22
    54
    Atlantean Kodex – A Prophet In The Forest

    22
    60
    Thy Majestie – Demons on the Crown

    21
    60
    Stormlord – Where My Spirit Forever Shall Be
    21
    60
    Immortal Souls – Icebound

    21
    60
    Immortal Souls – Divine Wintertime

    21
    60
    Ereb Altor – Awakening
    21
    60
    Rhapsody of Fire – On The Way To Ainor
    21


    *Christopher Lee or Byron Roberts voice* A NEW CHAPTER OF SCROBBLING BEGINS! *Pompous fanfare*
  • Shameless plug of a blog pt. 2

    21 jun 2011, 20:31 av Joe_Towse

    Hello, I run a music download blog over at http://court-in-the-act.blogspot.com/ - it's mainly metal, but it is also getting more eclectic as time goes on. I ask you for but two things - to go and look at it and comment, and to consider the two requests on the side - those are for people to send us their own demos and promos for us to review, and also to apply to contribute if you would like (although I have specified two categories, anybody knowledgeable is welcome).

    Cheers.