heavy metal

There are few bands that I have seen before who I will still travel three hundred miles round trip to see again. KMFDM is one of them. I had previously seen them on consecutive Halloweens in 2003 and 2004, and each of those shows is likely included in my personal top seven favorite shows. So, ticket in hand, I packed into the car, and off I went to Boston, and the House of Blues.

I have loved Iron Maiden since I was a youngster and wasn't too surprised when I read that lead singer Bruce Dickinson was writing a horror movie. Hell their cover art alone should have been turned into a film years ago.

What did surprise me though was how good the film looked after watching its trailer. Not to take anything away from old Bruce but any time a "metal guy" tries to get involved in a horror film it usually ends up coming out a mess. Don't you think for a second I've forgotten about "Monster Dog" Alice Cooper.

Shadows Fall’s “Retribution” is an exercise in metal-by-numbers. Start with acoustic beginning A, attach distorted guitar riff B, growling verse about pain C, slide that into the connection for guitar solo D, and then cover with double kick E, and you’re done.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. The end result is an album that lacks any true firepower. It is a paper tiger with no actual bite, no heart. “Retribution” is like any number of brightly colored snack foods that have no real flavor; seems like it should be enjoyable, but fails to satisfy upon ingestion.

I was no mood to go to a show. It’s rare that I say that. It was a Sunday night following two hellish weeks at work, with a third on deck. I had no desire to drive the fifty miles round trip to the venue, especially for a band I’d seen before. I needed to sleep.

Still, I already had my ticket in my wallet, and I figured once I got over myself, pried my eyes off of televised football and got my ass to the club, I’d be happier for being there. So, I crammed myself into my car and away I went.

When one sits down to listen to any new album from Megadeth, there are a handful of constant truths that simply have to be accepted before one can get anywhere.

1) Dave Mustaine's ability is a given. He will fire off guitar solos at any and all opportunities. They will possess both remarkable precision and unimaginable free-form capability.

2) The lyrics of all the songs will be underdeveloped and meaningless

3) Dave Mustaine's voice is awful.

As a music critic, I feel that it's my duty to be at least informed in all manners of my chosen genre. So, I find myself led to Skillet, and their chart-topping new studio album "Awake." I can hear you already: Christian metal? Is that even possible? Well, I wasn't sure myself, it seemed like a contradiction in terms. If I've learned anything over the years, it's to never take anything for granted, and not judge anything until I've actually listened to it. So, I figured I had to delve into this subgenre and see what it's about.

In the history of heavy metal, there have been many hotbeds of activity. New Jersey, New York, Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the entire nation of Germany, and most of the Scandinavian states. In all that time and distance, no one has ever mentioned the town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. That sounds more like a town where serial murders happen. It sounds like a place where if you’re driving along the load and see “Welcome to Kenosha,” you know you’re lost. It sounds like a town where you drive fifteen miles down a dirt road, and just when you get to Nowhere, you take a left.

First and foremost, Municipal Waste's new album functions best as a punk album more than a metal album. It is filled with simple chords, thrashing rhythms, wild riffs and short, very short songs. It is entirely possible that it will take me longer to pen, read, edit, correct, and post this review than it did to listen to the album beginning to end. At count, I think there are only three or four songs that crest three minutes, and an equal number that come in under two.

This originally appeared in an article under the science section of the Guardian online, and I just plain couldn't let it go by.

Evidently, Metallica, as well as Samuel Barber, Nine Inch Nails and Tool, were played in 30 second bursts for a group of monkeys, at which point their reaction to the music was logged and chronicled. (The actual point of the study was to examine the effects of monkey-sound-inspired music on monkeys. Make your own joke here.)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the released video of "Cruise Ship Terror" from the band Swashbuckle, and proclaimed it one of my favorite videos in the past couple years. So, when their album "Back to the Noose" began streaming online, I had to get a listen of what would no doubt be an interesting experience.

I was absolutely right; "Back to the Noose" is a fun, side-saddled romp of consistent if unimaginative thrash metal with heavy old-school punk influences. Whether the album is...what's the word...good, is another argument altogether.