Friday, May 25, 2012

New Releases and Rumors

I think the latter half of this year is shaping up to be the better half of 2012 in terms of new metal releases. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, sludge/noise supergroup Old Man Gloom (featuring members of Cave In, Converge, and ISIS) reconvened earlier this year to play a string of shows in the NE United States at the beginning of May.  Around that time, they also announced a new album called "NO".   The band already had a short run of copies available for the shows, but it won't be widely released until June 26th via Hydrahead Records.  In the meantime, check out this hilarious interview with Old Man Gloom from back in the day.  P.S. I definitely think naming the album "NO" was just to intentionally play a joke: "OMG NO"...tee hee hee!

This next piece of information seems to be under the radars of most of the metal news websites I frequent:  Cult of Luna are (finally!) preparing a new album!  They have not released a new album since 2008's "Eternal Kingdom".  According to their website, they are currently in the recording process, so hopefully we can be expecting the new album by late this year or early next year.

Mysterious, Orthodox Satanists Deathspell Omega are releasing a new EP entitled "Drought" that will come out on June 22 via Season of Mist.  You can stream a song here.  I'm not sure how I feel about the new song yet, but like most DsO releases, it will probably grow on me.  Their last album "Paracletus" was my favorite of 2010.

Those southern psychedelic sludge hooligans, Baroness, will be releasing a new double album entitled "Yellow & Green" on July 17th via Relapse Records.  From what lead man John Baizley mentioned in interviews, the album will be more catchy, more straightforward, and less aggressive than previous releases.  You can hear a new song here.

A new album by Egyptian-themed Death Metal masters, Nile, will be released this year as well.  The album is entitled "At The Gate of Sethu" and will be out on June 29th via Nuclear Blast.  You can hear a new track here.

There have been rumors that a new Pig Destroyer album will collectively smash our brains to pieces this year.  If a new album does come out, it will be PxDx's first since 2007's "Phantom Limb".  Here some new songs performed live here.  

Finally, I haven't heard too much new information about the new Gorguts album, but there aren't any sources saying a new album WON'T come out this we'll be optimistic.

So that's all I got for now!  Considering every band listed here is a favorite of mine, 2012 could be an incredible rest of the year for (my tastes in) metal!

- Judge Dredd

Thursday, May 24, 2012

'Grim' Kim Kelly's NPR Article

Seasoned and well-respected metal writer Kim Kelly recently wrote an article for NPR.  The scene is set at Maryland Death Fest while she muses on stereotypes regarding metalheads and also the way in which American Metal is differentiated from that of Europe, etc.  It's a good read!

You can check it out here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Being that Metal is an international phenomenon that transcends race, class, gender, culture and everything else*, one might think it difficult to really pinpoint common characteristics amongst its brethren.  However, there is one element that I have found to be not quite universal, but surprisingly common, is how fucking NICE everyone is.

I couldn't recover the exact quote, but I remember reading somewhere that Devin Townsend (the Mad Scientist of Metal, badass extraordinaire, etc.) said something like, "Metalheads are some of the sweetest people ever" (seriously, he said SOMETHING like that).  I can't agree more!

Sure, you have your meathead Death Metal dudes ("I only listen to metal that makes me feel dead, and now I'm going to crush your skull") and ninja-dancing Metalcore dudes ("I only listen to metal that is 100% breakdowns and now I'm going to karate-kick your face in."), but for the most part, most fellow metalheads I meet end up being incredibly amiable, if not also warm, soft-spoken, and shy.

How can this possibly be?  How can the fans of some of the most angry, brutal, scathing, grim music on this planet be some of the sweetest people?

Well, I have a few theories.

My first theory is primarily based on my own experiences, but I can't help but think there are many metalheads who feel the same.  For me, the very act of listening to and/or playing metal is a sort of a ritualized purification of my negative energy.  This aspect of the metal experience served me well through my angsty and hormonal teenage years.  All my frustration as a result of a devastating shyness around the opposite sex was filtered through the likes of the chaotic quantum physics of The Dillinger Escape Plan,  the post-modern madness of "City"-era Strapping Young Lad, and the Romanticism of Opeth.  All three (and, of course, many more) served as a healthy way to channel all this frustration.

Of course, now that I'm older and am more self-aware, my taste in metal has become more specific and I listen to it for different reasons.  There is still the element of the "purification of negative energy", but instead of venting adolescent frustration, it's more of an escape from the drab day-to-day experiences and existential weight on one's shoulders.  A term I refer to as "the weight".  Listening to metal is like a primal scream at "the weight".  Even though it's still "there", I feel a little better letting it know that I'm still "here". 

SO, to summarize: using metal as a way to get rid of negative emotions allows us to be nicer to everyone else!

My second theory is similarly related to the first one.  Metal is an escape.  Just like a good book or movie, metal creates a different world and world view for us to magically pass through.  Having possession and knowledge of this escape allows us deal with "the weight" on a regular basis by...uh, completely ignoring it.  This doesn't ring any more true than it does in traditional and power metal that covers fantasy topics about elves, ancient mysteries, rainbows and all that shit.  By having these worlds created for us to delve into at our leisure, we can better ready ourselves for the mundane day-to-day experiences and treat everyone that much more pleasantly as a result!  It may sound like a cheap high, but it's the little things that count, people! 

My third theory also has to deal with the general content of metal.  A great majority of metal is decidedly "dark".  For 15 years I have been listening to songs about murder, suicide, war, Satan, etc.; but am I a sicker individual for the fact?  No.  In fact, I think that very aspect has had the opposite affect on me.  While most metal isn't necessarily "life-affirming" (sometimes just the opposite), exposing one's self to the darker side of the human experience allows one to appreciate the greater, happier things in life like friends, family, nature, travel, good food, etc.  Yay!

Let me be clear that I don't think these theories necessarily apply to everyone in the metal community. Furthermore, I would be an idiot for claiming that everyone in the metal community are nice, warm individuals.  These are just what I have experienced and observed from years of being a metalhead.

In any case, everyone should remember:  'tis better to kill with kindness than with an axe to the head.

*OK, I'm exaggerating a little.  In my hometown, the audience of an average show consists of 90% young, white, low to middle class dudes.  However, I suppose that probably says more about the general demographic of NE Kansas.

- Judge Dredd