Thor Brought the Thunderhawk to Denver

By | metal reviews, miscellaneous

If somebody asked me to describe the perfect concert going experience my description would go as follows:

1. An Alice Cooper cover band that turns out to be just one sloppy dude with poorly applied Alice Cooper make-up just screaming Alice Cooper songs into a microphone backed only by the audio tracks from his laptop and in-between songs he would play audio clips of Alice Cooper promoting shitty products.

2. A muted TV in the bar that played nothing but ALF episodes with the closed captions on so nobody misses a goddamn thing that abominable puppet is saying.

3. An audience that is only about thirty people strong but consists of a dude rocking a full on American flag leather jacket and dragon head rings as big as his fingers as well as a man in his fifties rocking a tucked-in-to his jeans Judge Dread shirt dancing the entire night away.

4. The Thunderhawk himself, Jon Mikl Thor, bringing his unyielding earnest, decades long devotion to his performance, complete in cape and viking helmet with rubber Mjolnir, wandering around the crowd during guitar solos and at one point making everybody sit on a grimy bar floor, mid song, so he can take quick break thusly exposing his codpiece to all.

5. All of this culminating in one glorious moment on stage and in the audience where you realize just how amazingly awesome all the ridiculousness building all night has become.

And then last night all of those things came true.

Your Weekly Metal Playlist 04.19.20

By | metal reviews, Uncategorized

Fuck everything. List to metal. Here’s some great new stuff I’ve been putting in my ears this week.

Waldgefluster – Mondoscheinsonaten
Waldgefluster have been releasing amazing album after amazing album and it boggles my mind more people aren’t listening to this band, or at least, talking about them. Mondoscheinsonaten is their fifth album of captivating and masterfully composed atmospheric, German, nature-oriented black metal, and it might be their most beautiful. It might be the most beautiful black metal album of the year. I can’t get enough of this band and in a year where black metal and a part of it’s fans are determined to make it a less fun and inclusive place while defending absolute garbage people and bands, I’m clinging to bands like Waldgefluster like grim fucking death.
Blood Command – Return of the Arsonist
And here were have a combination of pop punk and pop metal(?). Blood Command have that 90’s early 2000’s pop punk thing going on with an equal focus on the pop and punk but with a bit of metal’s aggression and instrumentation. This totally would have been a band I’d have been into after seeing them at a Warped Tour in the 90s. Super fun, super stylish and catchy as all fucking get out.
Inferi – The End of an Era (Rebirth)
Inferi’s highly melodic and technical death metal just hits all the right fucking notes with me and I can’t even deny it. I didn’t discover them until their 2014 album The Path of Apotheosis so I really have no opinion on their first album, which has now just been re-recorded and released anew. I can tell you that this album is a fucking melodic and technical riff machine that is so infectious it transcends infection. And that’s really all I was expecting or even wanting. This album rules and so does the band.
Inculter – Fatal Visions
Holy shit, this is a fucking shred machine. Insane black thrash from Norway. I didn’t think anybody was going to give Hellripper a run for his money yet here we fucking are. At least until Necromantheon get off their asses again. Get this in your life.
Hath – Of Rot and Ruin
I’ll cling to any new death metal that isn’t “old school” nowadays, especially when it’s a band that’s actually trying to do something somewhat original. Hath take on a melodic, technical, proggy, blackened mish-mash and do it exceedingly well and engagingly. There’s a lot of hype around this album right now and it might not be the “masterpiece” it’s being heralded as but it’s fucking damn good and vastly different then all the old school worshippers everybody is freaking out about.
Numenorean – Adore
Give me black metal that’s changing shit up and bushing the bullshit genre boundaries. Give me something that is even remotely different or at least reaching of other ideas and elements. Give me more stuff like this new Numenorean that makes black metal melodic and catchy and poppy and emotional and dark and miserable. Fuck black metal orthodoxy and the assholes that will surely rage about this. This album is rad and I hope you choke on it.
Allegaeon – Apoptosis
Colorado’s own Allegaeon blasting out the super technical, melodic death metal. Both technical musically and technical with the scientific anecdotes and themes, which is what I think makes Allegaeon stand out. They’re like a hyper melodic science experiment, one whose results are catchy ass riffs for days and technical wizardry that’ll make your head spin. Super solid release, again from these guys.
Black Sites – Exile
This is super fucking refreshing. Just straight up heavy metal with no genre tags. Heavy metal in its purest form but also, amazingly, not an homage or old school show off band. Just a modern take on the most distilled form of metal. For reference it reminds me of Armored Saint/ John Bush era Anthrax mixed with Cyclone Temple. There’s even a nice goth inspired song that makes me ache for that new Idol Hands, but that’s another story all together. This simply fucking rules. No fluff, no pretense. Heavy, fucking, metal.

Me and DINK 2019

By | comics

Booze and Burgers

Every year for the past four (four, yeah, four I think…) the Denver Independent Comics & Art Expo, otherwise known as DINK is held in scenic downtown Denver and every one of those four (?) years I have been set up there as a vendor with my comics. Born from a schism of the powers that be at the Denver Comic Con (now the Denver Pop Culture Classroom or some such shit) DINK’s prime directive is to bring a focus to indie comics and indie creators of various walks of life that the major “pop culture” cons (don’t you just hate that phrase) neglect. And they succeed, admirably, year after year. It’s a great show all around with creative guests making brilliant works that are magnificently inspiring. It’s intoxicating being around so much creativity and so much originality. DINK is the antithesis of pop culture cons. No massive movie stars, no endless rows of crappily made fan art bullshit prints, no nickel and dime-ing their guests to death, and no cosplay. Not that they would turn cosplayers away but it’s not the kind of con that appeals to that.

And I fucking love it.

All that being said, sales wise I’m slipping at DINK. I’ve often thought most of my comics work finds itself in this weird middle ground between mainstream and indie. There’s a certain appeal and cultural aesthetic to both and I don’t think me or Creephouse really fit in with either though if I were picking I’d much rather be 100% in the indie camp. Regardless, I think I’m a bit of an outsider for DINK and that’s perfectly fine but when I have low sales shows it naturally makes me reflect on what I’m doing creatively. I’ve been in the midst of a different approach with my comics and art and wondering if any sort of art convention is even the right place for me anymore. Or if my art is even what I want to be doing?

Crisis. Crisis, I know, fucking artists, but one thing that DINK does every year despite how many fucking dollars I’m making is reassure me that indie is 100% where it is fucking at and I hope this show goes on in that spirit forever.

Your Weekly Metal Playlist

By | metal reviews

Here’s where I share only the awesome-est new metal from the week. I bet you didn’t know that any given week there’s a barrage of new metal being spewed in to the world and more times than not it’s incredible good and moving. Hopefully you can find something here to try or even something new that will make living on this planet more bearable for the near future.

Devin Townsend – Empath
Just listen to Devin Townsend. Just start with this new album and then get more. Devin is endlessly creative and entirely prolific with is musical releases and I guarantee you’ve never experienced music like his before.  If you need some sort of comparison I like to say his music is what I imagine The Wyld Stallyns music to actually sound like. It could bring peace to the galaxy. I’m endlessly a fan of Devin so this is more of what I like about him and his highly unique musical adventures.

Ellende – Lebensnmehmer
Ellende’s previous album Todbringer hit me right when I needed something fresh and new a couple years ago. Firmly German black metal but with enough flair and experimentation with the avant-garde to make it stand out, in my opinion Todbringer went criminally under the radar. Now, once again with a similar approach, Ellende’s Lebensnmehmer still plays in the avant-garde but focuses more on a traditional black metal approach. More blasting, lest experimenting. Where they diverge is with the theatrical elements like the grand piano or other instrumentation and soundscapes. Maybe not as creative as the previous but still extremely well done and interesting black metal.

Totaled – Lament
I am all about this crusted up black metal and crust in general nowadays. It’s so fucking satisfying and crust compliments every metal genre so perfectly. Totaled us it here to inform the ferocious nature of their black metal and balance it out with some fucking beautiful melancholic guitar parts and atmosphere. This one is fucking killer.

Aara – So fallen alle Tempel
Some fucking highly melodic and intense, furiously atmospheric black metal from Switzerland. At least I think it’s Switzerland. It’s April Fool’s today and Metal Archives are pulling some stupid fucking prank so I can’t check, but regardless, this album is a fucking ear-worm of high order. Just fucking furious all the time even when they throw in the beautiful choral chants and vocal parts. Just goddamn satisfying.

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult – Mardom
This is another one of those bands that I enjoy quite a bit but forget how much until I listen to them even though I don’t listen to them that much. Yeah. Anyway, Slaughtercult pretty much fucking rules because they play straight forward evil black metal. All fury, no compromise. Maybe not as furious as a band like Horned Almighty but they give me that sort of vibe IE simply and direct devotion to their subject matter, which is to be fucking evil. Onielar’s vocals are fucking killer as they always are whether it’s here or when she’d doing duty in Bethlehem. This is a good “keep black metal evil” band for all you stupid fucks mad that your black metal bands are being called out for being full of racist fuckers. Slaughtercult brings the chops and isn’t full of racists idiots. As far as I can find. Please don’t be full of racist fucks.

Brutus – Nest
Excellent, excellent, post, hardcore, punk with some crust and atmospheric tendencies. Fucking brutally emotional and a vocalist that impresses with every god damn note. This is killer. Killer!

Hellripper – Black Arts & Alchemy EP
Did you know Hellripper fucking rules? Now you do so you should stop what you’re doing and out one of their blackened thrash brain smashers on and let it fuck your ear up. Seriously, black metal thrash fury done to a fucking tee with all the catchiness and aggression one demands of this music. Every other band playing this style wishes they were doing it as well as Hellripper.

Wormwitch – Heaven That Dwells Within
Wormwitch is sneakily becoming a favorite of mine. Melodic black metal with that crust influences. Reminds me of Skeletonwitch if they were slightly folkier and crustier. Super fucking infectious. Super killer.

Epix’s Punk Documentary

By | miscellaneous

“Punk is dead.” – everybody ever in regards to punk music

Last night I finished watching Epix (Epix’s?) four-part documentary on punk. The break down, essentially, is a broad overview of punk as a musical form from the early days, via Iggy Pop, MC5, The Ramones, Blondie, the England invasion by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Slits, The Damned, 80’s American Hardcore from Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, DOA, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, The Germs, and the final episode having to do with the punk explosion of the 90’s by bands like Green Day, The Offspring, L7, Bad Religion, and so forth.

As a long time punk fan I mostly enjoyed the third episode based around the American Hardcore scene and it’s full-steam ahead DIY ethics that really paved the way for punk and indie music in America, an attitude that continues to inspire me to this fucking day. The episode I was looking forward to the most was the fourth episode, about the 90’s punk explosion. I came of age in the 90’s and 90’s punk rock played a huge part in that so that’s the era I identify with the most. However, If you’re a fan of punk, there’s really nothing new here, which is the crux of why this series kind of bummed me out. Sure, I enjoy watching these people talk about punk and it’s always fun to see Keith Morris’s directness or Henry Rollins pontificating, or Jello Biafra’s wild gesticulations, but they’re not saying anything they haven’t said one billion times before. The history of punk has been picked clean over, left out in the sun to bleach its bones, so if you’re going to make a a punk documentary in 2019 why not throw in something different? Even the general overview of punk in this four hour series was shockingly sparse, especially when it came to women and minorities, groups of people which have been crucial to punk’s history. Barely a mention of Patti Smith, who my wife points out “if Iggy was the Godfather of Punk, then surely Patti Smith is the Aunt.” Nothing about Suicidal Tendencies. Just two examples from the top of my head.

Then the documentary stops in the 90s with barely any mention of punk past that point except for the standard “there’s always going to be some angry kid” observation.

Fucking boring.

If this is the current state of punk then yeah, it’s surely dead and I’ll be happy to fucking bury it, but fortunately it’s not. This documentary is the visual equivalent of people growing old and not wanting to find new music. They could at least mention some of the other genres and scenes going on. How about crust? To me that’s the most vital form punk has taken over the new millennium, or the LA backyard punk bands scene? Maybe the collapse of Warped Tour? This is why I’ve enjoyed these highly specific documentaries like the Descendents documentary Filmage, the East Bay punk documentary Turn it Around, or Los Punks, about the LA backyard scene I mentioned before. Hell, even the Fat Wreck Chords documentary was interesting, despite Fat Mike’s bullshit.

Maybe it’s time to change the history of punk, add more in, reexamine it. The spirit is still there and nobody can take that away from it but another run of the mill documentary discussing the same points ad nauseam is boring as hell.

Well, shit, how about some newer punk band recommendations?

90’s pop punk attitude that’s catchy as fuck infused with a crucial and bitingly on-point feminist and political in your face approach. Exactly what punk deserves.

 

Crazy frenetic and melodic punk like you’ve never heard. Beautifully angry vocals and political messaging. 2000-teens punk for sure.

 

This band burned so quickly but over their two bare-minimum releases punched punk and music right in the fucking teeth. So vital.

 

Like I mentioned before I think Crust has become the most crucial form of punk over the past decade or so. The DIY, fuck everybody, we’re doing shit our way attitude fucking radiates from this genre and it’s influence in other genres, particularly metal has been on of the highlights of music as a whole for me over the past few years. Iskra might be the queens of melding metal and crust.

 

The Armed are a fucking explosion of punk fury and electronic insanity. Nothing can prepare you for this one.

 

Hot off the presses this is some excellent, excellent, post, hardcore, punk with some crust and atmospheric tendencies. Fucking brutally emotional and a vocalist that impresses with every god damn note. This is killer. Killer!

 

And even some of the old stalwarts are still vital and making some of the best music of their careers. Take Propagandhi, a band I’d discounted in the 90’s but revitalized my interest in punk all over again with their fucking massive 2012 album Failed States.