Greetings magGots! Skeeter here! I’ve had a great fall 2012 so far, lots of promising stuff for all of us to come. The soundtrack to my life has particularly stellar as of late, I thought I’d throw a few mini reviews in your ugly faces, dig in:
Album: Down IV Part I aka The Purple EP
Released: Fall 2012
First track ‘Levitation’ chugs in from silence to blasting in a foreboding 20 seconds, but that’s all the warm-up you get. With a 1, 2, 3, 4 were plunged into head-banging agreeance, and barely given a chance to rest until the last track ‘Misfortune Teller’ rumbles out (and back in again). Some cheeky humour is had in the single ‘Witchtripper’, a title even singer Philip Anselmo (ex-Pantera) admitted was a tad out of left field. It’s all good, though, cuz it kind of reminds me of my late teens in a tight band of broski’s writing wacky-titled metal jams with all of our inside jokes cryptically weaved into the lyrics. ‘The Curse’ and ‘This Work is Timeless’ have dizzy monolithic riffs and pained bluesy vocals, cool changes, and above all those wicked thwappy under-performed drums that bring a rollicking oldschool pace to these mid tempo songs.
My favourite track has to be ‘Open Coffins’ with dark stoic lyrics that chill my bones. “A graven world, There’s a grave in the sky, I don’t trust your face, Because my grave is still open.” I think (?) it’s about keeping hold of your soul while navigating this money motivated world. The band seem at ease on this track.
In fact this whole EP seems approached very purely by Down. Their last opus was 2007’s “Over the Under,” an album I’ve listened to more than any other released in the last 10 years. That motherscratcher was an epic piece of metal with plenty of peaks and valleys, in my eyes perfect in their catalog. “The Purple…”is part 1 of a planned 4 EP series to be released gradually over the next couple of years, and it includes no ballads and no fasties, just 6 tracks of mid tempo catalog filler. I think it’s exactly what I want from Down right now. The first album was like a stoner pastiche of different songs written over a ten year period. The second album was a hastily written and tracked piece of Down pulp that is not as disappointing to listen to now as it used to be,…in other words it has appreciated over time. In fact for that reason I think “Down IV pt1” reminds me of “Down II,” but this time I’m ready for it. Hopefully the next EP in the series will have more range, but for now this one will do.
Artist: The Devil’s Blood
Album: The Thousandfold Epicentre
Released: Spring 2012
I was recommended this LP by my Toronto pal Ian when I told him about my love for Satanic music despite me being more of a Yahweh kinda dude. I can’t help but smile, and feel a giddy freedom listening to Mercyful Fate or more recently Ghost shit-talking their heavenly rival.
While not as overtly Satanic as the former, The Devil’s Blood are a dark, 70’s influenced gothic Witchrock band. Plodding and galloping rythyms carry an array of tastefully played instruments, such as guitars (obviously) both acoustic and electric, piano and synth keys, and a little orchestration. If I could describe them in one word I’d say ‘cacophonous,’ because there’s a noisy textural space in their sound. I imagine candle-lit seances and swirling gusts of fall leaves while absorbing these tasty tracks. The singing will be the thing that hooks you in or sends you lurching for the remote (can’t find her name in the credits, it just has pretentious letter coding). She’s awesome anyways, with a clean approach, forced vibrato and adventurous passion in her range, obviously never having proper vocal lessons, but stronger for it.
I’d be remiss to mention track names because I enjoy them all as a patchwork of one intricate and cryptic work, but if I was to recommend a couple tracks to give you an idea, I’d say ‘She’ or ‘Fire Burning’. Heck, the packaging is half the joy. The cover is classic black with simple gold lettering and a witchy logo design, but the booklet inside is an explosion of colour and psychopathic psychedelia. You have to have 20-20 vision and a lung full of crack to read the lyrics, woven between crazy awesome paintings of erect devils and bloodily masturbated witch pussy, slithering snakes and crumbling stone columns. It’s a fucking trip. Go there.
Album: Monster (and Sonic Boom)
Released: Fall 2012 (and Fall 2009)
KISS is my favourite band of all time. There I said it, so if you are reading this to hear an unbiased outsider’s look at their latest, then you sir can rightly FUCK OFF! I avoided the new KISS line-up until now not because they are using Ace and Peter’s make-up on the ‘scabs.’ No, I’m comfortable with KISS being the bastard son of Simmons and Stanley. I stayed away because I thought that the new guitarist Tommy Thayer played Ace’s parts a little too fast when I heard a live recording. He seemed to be playing a little ahead of time. Also, I saw them play on Letterman. Paul had bingo-wings and Gene’s ‘hairline’ was a little mystifying. But the tune “Modern Day Delilah” stuck in my head for a couple years, and a recent KISS/Mötley Crüe concert gave me one of the most undeniably joyous nights of live music I’ve had in many years. So, I decided to dig into their last two albums, 2009’s ‘Sonic Boom’ and 2012’s ‘Monster’ together.
First, ‘Monster’ was spun and I immediately enjoyed the new KISS production values. They’ve sounded gigantic since 1996’s ‘Revenge.’ “Let me tell you how it feels…..IT FEELS GOOD!” squeals gay ol’ Paul in the lead off single “Hell or Hallelujah,” a good old fashion rocker. The mammoth nu-sound production really shines on Gene’s monster-voiced thumpers. I adore his tracks “Wall of Sound” and “The Devil is Me,” which are in the same cannon as “God of Thunder” and “War Machine” of klassic KISSlore. Both of the scabs, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer get to sing one each, and the tunes are alright, but the magic isn’t there. The magic for me is listening to two of rock’s most enduring and unique singers trade off songs.
Paul Stanley still wails, and still has that urgency to his voice, never half-assing his approach to compensate for his advancing age and maturing vocal chords. Say what you want about Gene’s waddling TV persona, he doesn’t have operatic range, but his vocal inflection is in my mind is the best in the biz. Bellowing out rock god proclamations like “I sit on the throne, Let ’em kiss the ring, Cuz I’m a Stone Age man, yeah I’m the king,” I can’t help but be sold. His bass work is pretty fucking rock solid too, always has been. I may sound a tad defensive, but we KISS fans have to be with all of the multitudes of very vocal elitist haters that stalk us at every turn. I digress… Other sick tracks include Paul’s “Shout Mercy” and “Long Way Down.”
So, I enjoyed the newest offering and decided to check if ‘Sonic Boom’ had the same spirit, and it did. It seemed like the same album, actually, but better in every way. Gene’s tracks are even more killer, “I’m An Animal” being my absolute favourite KISS track of the last 20 years. “Russian Roulette,” “Yes I Know” and “Hot and Cold” chasing close behind. It is a veritable mother lode of Demon gold here. Paul has the bulk of the contagiously memorable tunes, like the aforementioned “Modern Day Delilah,” “Never Enough,” and “Say Yeah” all with that spirited urgency. Again the only stale cheese being the songs sung by the scabs.
I gotta clear up something, though. Although I’m half joking calling them scabs, Eric Singer is the best drummer they’ve ever had, and he almost single-handedly energized the whole performance the last time I saw them live. At the end of the reunion period Peter Criss sucked so horribly, it seemed to deflate the rest of the band. And as far as thinking Tommy Thayer played Ace’s parts like a spazz, I was wrong. I compared Tommy’s interpretation to classic Ace circa 1975, and he plays it bang-on, maybe even a little slower than Ace. I then compared Tommy’s interpretation to Ace circa 1999ish, and that’s where I was amazed. Ace was so slow and passionless, that’s probably where I got the idea that Tommy plays faster. Anyways, the newest line-up is killer now, and I recommend any KISS fan of old to re-discover them live today.
There ya go, magGots!!! A few mini reviews from your dear old Skeeter the cheater!
FUCK YOUR HAT!