The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Auburn System EP review

From time-to-time I'm questioned about whether or not I give bad reviews on the CDs I review. As a general rule of thumb it pains me to be harsh to bands because I can only daydream of being in one as I goof on my drum kit without real direction. My attitude is that no matter how bad someone's music is, I try very hard to find the good amidst the bad. This may make me wishy-washy or it may not, but I feel I need to serve the musicians as well as the fans in my reviews, so hopefully when I slag someone they can find something of merit in what I say to build upon, or they can simply tell me I'm an elitist bastard who can go die. Either way, it's all good. I'm just doing my job.

The tone of my blog tends to lean towards the positive when it comes to my musical anecdotes, so to be fair, not only to myself, but to those of you taking the time to read this, here's an example of a bad CD review I'll share with you.


The Auburn System
The Auburn System EP
Five Point Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

I don’t know how else to put this. If you dig Dillinger Escape Plan, Norma Jean or Napalm Death, this is your shit. Save for a pretty inspired minute on “Better Than God” and a kind of groovy guitar speckling in the beginning of “Old Man on the Mountain,” The Auburn System EP is blazingly annoying in its fastidious duration and untidy execution.

James Silvio’s retching is apropos for the hurl-inducing swerves and screeches Auburn System unclogs from its system faster than enchilada-induced diarrhea. The Auburn System is like a nerve-wracking commode ride in which their breakdowns aggravate instead of alleviate. If you’re still whacking off to 30-second Paris Hilton blowjob samples, The Auburn System is the perfect soundtrack to your post-pubescent bedroom debauchery. Otherwise…

If you’re into this suddenly acceptable form of chaos theory metal, you’re probably calling me an old fart who’s just not with it. I don’t know, though; I sort of favor Into the Moat, and Fear Before the March of Flames is definitely one of the most likeable practitioners of the style, and those dudes in Norma Jean are a hell of a nice bunch of guys whose sonic bludgeoning grows on you after a few spins. What the flim-flam-fuck do I know, though, right?

Simply put, The Auburn System EP is cookie-cutter screamo-hardcore that will either find its way into your hearts or into your garbage can.

Rating: 2/5

Dirty Americans interview is up at Pitriff.com

If the name isn't enticing enough, I had the pleasure of speaking with the lead singer, Myron of Detroit's Dirty Americans. Already being touted as the next big thing in Detroit Rock City, what I can tell you about their sound is that you'll hear simplistic kickback rock tailor-made for chillin' illin' and spillin' -- brews and stories, that is. Riffy funtime blues rock for bluesy times, Dirty Americans kicks it hard with acid-laced 70s and 80s-styled RNR with hints of Redd Kross, Lenny Kravitz, Faster Pussycat, LA Guns, Enuff Znuff, Zodiac Mindwarp and Led Zeppelin, along with shades of Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and others. Literally, Dirty Americans' album Strange Generation is a grab-bag of passing-the-time-away rock, and my interview with Myron is as laid-back as his band's album.

Formerly a part of underground favorites The Workhorse Movement, the refelctions I got from Myron will undoubtedly amuse you as they did me. In particular, I roared when Myron told me that Dirty Americans' drummer Jeremiah Philbeam was mistaken for Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx by some innocuous Japanese fans, an error that was played to full-hilt!

And if you're wondering if Dirty Americans take flack overseas for their name, hit up my interview and the answer will revealed most humorously! Find out also what it's like to depart a band to become a substitute teacher to students who were fans of said band. Go to www.pitriff.com or click on the link on my page here.

Cheers and beers...

Monday, April 25, 2005

If anyone's out there reading still, sound off, will you? It'd do my heart a bit of good.

I'm not quite sure where I'm going here, but I'll say this much at least; the journey we made to Nashville, TN in the waning moments of my father-in-law's life are amongst the most profound I can reflect on in 35 years.

I can tell you that I had a bit of a spiritual revelation down there. After 15 hours on the road (mostly in the darkest annals of highwaydom), I learned the harshness of caffeine at its most potent. With a frantic wife in no shape to drive and the uncertainty of when her father was ultimately going to pass on, I made it my obligation to down as much coffee as it took to get through the highly difficuly trek in the early morning hours amidst snarling truckers who blew by us at no less than 90 mph like the impudent gnats we obviously were to them. I can honestly say I've never drank so much coffee in one sitting as I did that night and it haunted me later.

With the sun on the horizon of a bad day, I was left behind at my sister-in-law's to try and catch a few winks since I'd had only 4 hours sleep the night prior, having traveled from Philadelphia. I figured I'd stand a chance of passing out instantly, but that wasn't the case.

I lay on top of pillows on the floor of sis' apartment and shivered, just absolutely shivered. Paranoia grappled my brains, triggering violent images and thoughts I wasn't coming home alive. The caffeine made me tremble like a wretch on that floor as I repeatedly saw the end of my life. Call it what you will, transference from my father-in-law's plight to being 15 hours away in an unfamiliar state and different time zone, whatever, but the sensation was real and it was distinct, however induced.

After an hour or so of this torture, I had a vision of Mary and it was ever-so-slight, not altogether unlike what you'd find in any Renaissance Madonna and Child renditions that were en vogue in its day like screaming is in hard music today. It was such a beautiful, stirring moment that I interpreted as a senses-realizing jolt that all of the caffeine and the horrid images dissippated away, clearing a path for me that allowed me to go the next step in our journey.

Anyone who knows me knows I've had a somewhat sour relationship with my father-in-law, and such a traumatic experience as this told me what I needed to do, which was to bury all of my anger and resentment, forgive, relent, let go and help my wife's father pass into the next life as much as I could, which is exactly what I opted to do. I ended up being recruited by one of the nurses on staff to help her keep his eyes moist as he succumbed to brain death and ultimately a full passage towards heaven.

The rest of what transpired I will keep to myself, but I'm fully shaken to my core by the experience of my father-in-law's death, as I am the "visitation" by the Blessed Virgin prior to. I think a new path in my life has been revealed to me. I simply need summon the courage to follow it.

And on that note, I bid you readers adieu for the moment...more music anecdotes on the way for those of you wondering when I'll get back to that tip...

Peace, all...

Ray

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Turning Pages on the Highway of Desolation

Turning Pages on the Highway of Desolation
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Copyright 2005

the roar of diesel monstrosity in one ear
a troubadour’s abandoned empathy from Bob Seger
turning pages in the other
kind of appropriate
as a long chapter is about to close
before our story-weary eyes
and even though there’s no happily-ever-after
there’s hope for a more cheerful sequel
after all
a roadside peace march
began this saga

ignorance at my back
despair on my horizon
people with shabby voting skills
flaunt their simple-mindedness on their bumpers
as well as trendy yellow ribbons
for people who want to get down with a cause
most only relate to through the breakfast news
and a misguided spirit of patriotism
that was last just
when Japan bombed Hawaii
this particular page is only worth skimming
and perhaps skipping altogether

dusk falls as I long for Seger’s
more appealing Hollywood Nights
instead of the tenebrous Smoky Mountain sojourn
where only truckers and the suicidal
feel at home blitzing through
home
home
home
I so desperately long for mine
home is never fully appreciated
until separated from it
for an indeterminate period of time

the truckers groan by
as my wife stares forlornly out the window
I serve as her rock
yet I feel as lonely as if riding with
mocking ghosts
who blow raspberries
from the dark Confederate mountains
interrupting the musical outlet that keeps me strong for my wife
I comfort her
but who will comfort me?
another phantasm’s raspberry
another trucker who rumbles by
like we’re insignificant metallic gnats
that have the impudence
to be out this late
scuttling along their commercial asphalt turf

death is the only way this story ends
as the only way it can end
given the foreshadowing
and the fearful shaking of my wife’s hand
she’s lost to me at the moment
and I’m left in the capable hands of Seger

maybe someday lady you’ll accomp’ny me

At a Waffle House, Somewhere in Southwest Virginia

Since I'm featuring tonight and dragging out new material to read, I'll use some of my trip experiences and share the poems with you all. Here's one:



At a Waffle House, Somewhere in Southwest Virginia
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Copyright 2005

everywhere in the South you’ll find them
their abundance falls somewhere between
McDonald’s and rest stops
particularly in Tennessee,
from whence we’ve journeyed five long hours
traveling along an endless
70 mile an hour healing road
also known as a trucker route

if you’ve never been to one before
trust me on this
the rebels know how to make batter
like no one else

a bulletin board at the front door greets you
along with watery country music
pictures of mostly depressed old timers who call Waffle House
their retirement homes
or goofy dregs in silly garb
who haunt the midnight hours
characters who the waitresses will gladly tell you about

I order a waffle and a side steak, medium well
my wife orders a cheesesteak with bacon
as our waitress with a tattoo
snarling along her cleavage
shuffles along the booths
and serves us overtop
instead of counter side
while her co-workers lounge in a corner
and gab about reality t.v.
since we’re the only customers at the moment
these things happen when you’re open twenty-four hours

my wife thrusts her hands beneath my nose
and says they smell strangely like onions
“Daddy used to smell like onions all the time”
she tells me
trying not to cry

the jukebox bellows it’s proud to be an American
our food arrives four minutes from when we ordered

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I am a featured poet at reading in Frederick, MD tomorrow

God, what date is it? I've lost all sense of time from our runamok trip to Nashville. Anyway, for those of who anywhere near Frederick, MD, please feel free to stop in at the Frederick Coffee Company where I'll be the featured poet at Dreamers Poetry Series. God help me, this trip has socked my equilibrium, but I need to write new material pronto!!!! Nothing like a cram writing session, eh? Sorry for the late notice to anyone interested; I've been gone a week and under the circumstances I'm lucky to be able to honor this appearance.

If you want details, email me at vanhorn1970@adelphia.net and I'll tighten you up.

Peace...

Top 10 sayings from trip to Nashville

Greetings, my faithful throng! Road-weary I may be, I feel obligated to quickly post something after a week-long absence and a 13.5 hour drive from Nashville, Tennessee, where my wife's father just passed away last Friday. I will be a bit more serious in a second post, probably tomorrow, but to throw a bit of macabre humor on a terribly traumatic experience for everyone involved, allow me to share with you a list of top 10 sayings either uttered or heard on this very trying excursion to Nashville:

1. "Moo"
2. "Cracker Barrel or Waffle House?"
3. "Holy Bell South Building, Batman!"
4. "Are you sure I won't get towed for parking here?"
5. "Trucker motherfucker!"
6. "(fill in the blank's) party line!"
7. "Everyone is so stinking nice down here!"
8. "Damn the Maryland legislation for having no Sonic restaraunts around!"
9. "I thought country music was born in Knoxville!"
10. "I wish it was the eighties again!"

Honorable mentions:

"Where the hell's he think he's going?"
"Did I mention I hate the Titans?"
"I almost never watch t.v., but I'm Jonesing for one right now!"

More later, friends...

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

AWOL and Overkill concert review

Hi everyone. I was touched to receive an email inquiring as to my whereabouts for a lack of a post the past few days. We were at the beach over the weekend, only to learn my wife's father is dying. It's been a hard battle, a long wait and a lot of aggravation on everyone's end. As I'm on vacation this week, it's been hard to do the Christian thing and suck it up and put my heart where it belongs, towards the suffering. In the end, I put my faith in God to decide what is right and as a result my wife and I will be leaving from Baltimore to Nashville in the morning as the news we received is grim.

So to tide my faithful readership, and as always I thank you for being here reading, here's a write-up of a concert I attended that is being submitted to Rough Edge.com. I know the band Overkill is getting a lot of love on my blog, but it's the most recent show I've covered and perhaps you'll find humor in my review.

Thanks to everyone for your support in these rough times. I'll be updating the blog once we return.

Peace...


Concert Review – Overkill – The Trocadero, Philadelphia

Take it from me; unless you’re a local, Philadelphia is an easy city to get into, but a real bitch to get out of. It’s no fluke; I’ve been there four times now and including this evening, I’ve gotten out the same way I came in only once, and that’s on Broad Street near the stadiums and arenas, a no-brainer in the way Talk of the Town cheesesteaks are where it’s at. The City of Brotherly Love it may be, but The City of Brotherly Navigating it is not. Nonetheless, an unnecessary toll across the Ben Franklin Bridge (after one previous swing across, thank you) could not dampen the mood left over by a smoldering performance belted out by one of the legends in the business, Overkill.

Standing in line in front of the famous Trocadero Theatre on Arch Street, I had a billion things on my mind. My jumbled thoughts were stymied by chatter in front of me from a group of teenage metal fans, who deserve horns up for their devotion to the old school, but a major thumbs-down for the most absurd question ever uttered: “Was Dio ever in Anthrax?” I know, I know…everyone, all together like Homer Simpson: “DOH!” I wanted to tell the poor kid to submit to a walk of shame and pass his Dio shirt to the people behind me who were kvetching about being the oldest ones in line. Little did they know I was but a mere year younger than one of them and two years the senior of the other. Why should I complain, though, right? Never look a gift compliment in the mouth. I was smart enough to keep mine shut.

Having traveled the prerequisite two-and-a-half hours (plus a bonus half hour thanks to some tried-and-true Maryland snags on the infamous 695) to The Trocadero, what I can say is that I literally felt transported in time inside the theater. A mezzanine still exists with seats and there I found half of the crowd for tonight’s gig, while the stage itself engulfs you the second you behold it, bringing to mind a woebegone era of class and a highly different sense of entertainment other than thrash metal. Old school the music may be, it certainly was not old school enough to dispel the ghosts that lingered around the chipped architecture, ghosts who were probably audience to musicals, traveling revues or even hurdy-gurdy burlesque. It’s a unique experience and if you’re in the area, I do recommend you visit The Trocadero (or The Troc as it is lovingly referred to by the locals). Be sure to get your parking ticket validated or else suffer the aggravation of an $18 bill heaped atop $14 in toll money. My tax accountant is going to love me, that’s for sure!

Overkill brought their gutter rumble into Philadelphia without supporting acts and thus opened the stage to a pair of local bands, the second of whose names elude me, which is shameful as both were quite outstanding bands. The first one was a whiskey-laced power metal band with major cajones, Omega Lords, while the second band, Circle of Something (my apologies to these dudes, they deserve better than this) was out-of-control mayhem but affluent in their gut-rupturing death metal. What was unique about these guys was that they were filming a DVD for their upcoming debut disc and the lead singer pulled out every stop he could to produce excitement for his band, including singing in the midst of an active mosh pit, climbing atop amplifiers and other crowd endearing tricks. Too bad my brain has queefed to give his crew their just due.

As for Overkill, these old dogs are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and despite the numerous lineup changes that have plagued them, one thing you can’t take away from Overkill is their headstrong delivery, both on record and in their live performance. Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth never missed a note as Overkill ripped through some classic jams like “Hello from the Gutter” and the ass-ripping “Elimination,” to dashes of newer stuff from their recently-released album Relix IV, “Bats in the Belfry” and “Old School.” The old school was rewarded with unearthed Feel the Fire material as well as “Power Surge” from Taking Over. In other words, every generation of Overkill was acknowledged, even to their curtain call rendition of “Fuck You,” which is obviously a call to arms no matter how you’re hearing it. Get ‘em up…

As DD Verni was celebrating his birthday this evening, so too was Overkill as an entity for two decades, and they played like it was an ongoing party with random banter from “Blitz” and a ton of songs heaped into their nearly-two-hour set. If you have the chance to catch Overkill on the road this year, you’re likely going to be pleased. It’s worth getting lost in unfamiliar territory for.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Debris, Inc. review

What's hanging, friends? In a couple of hours we're off to the beach with our friends for a few days, so here's a little something to chew on for the weekend, a hilarious 80s punk-styled album from members of Saint Vitus and Trouble, with guest cameos galore, including my homies in Crisis. Waddup, gang? You're not coming through my area on your upcoming tour, WTF is up with that? : )

Everyone have a chill weekend, I'm officially on vacay and will check in ASAP...

Peace...

Debris, Inc.
Debris, Inc.
Candlelight USA
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Of all things, man… Saint Vitus’ guitarist Dave Chandler plus Trouble bassist Ron Holzner? Why the hell not? Add in some guest fills and cameos by drummer Jimmy Bower (of Down, Eyehategod, Crowbar and Superjoint Ritual fame), Greg Rogers of Goatsnake and The Obsessed, the late Barry Stern of Trouble and none other than Crisis, and you get exactly what is advertised with the following tagline: “Debris, Inc. write classic anthems for the depressed, the stoned, happy and angry punkers, metalheads and lazy scumbags alike.”

Delivered as promised, I assure you, this overtly nutsy album is one spent around beer, weed, Doritos, unused rubbers, Aqua Teen Hunger Force on mute and the company of those who can relate to such lingo as The Germs, Straw Dogs or Discharge.

“Fuckin’ Mess” is exactly what they’re singing about, but it’s a good fucking mess! Taking their time-honored doom riffs and haphazardly mashing them together with an old-time skate punk revivalist’s spirit, the marriage is bonded in the streets and it sounds appropriate, oddly enough! “Full of Shit” keeps the simplistic mongoloid riffs going, along with a sleazy solo and a chorus that will have you rolling down your windows and screaming along, preferably at the tollbooth collector, should you be so fortunate to be passing through with this preposterous jam blasting.

“The Old Man and His Bong.” Need I say more? The intentionally slow and sludgy riffage would indicate which song this is without having to scan for it on the track listing. Ditto for the equally lumbering and brash “Pain.” “The Nightmare” is so frigging silly with its Iggy Pop riffs (think “I Want to Be Your Dog”) and cheeseball choruses, but it’s so much stinking fun! How can you fault something that makes no bones about being so utterly ridiculous?

Think of chilling in your bedroom to one of the Flipside anthologies while “You’re the Reason I’m Medicated” rips through its rubbishy rhythm section and off-kilter shout choruses, it so gloriously stupid you wouldn’t think of turning this album off before it’s done! The 42-second “Dime-a-Dozen” will likewise remind you of MDC or even the Dead Kennedys at their cheekiest. Ditto for the mosh-heavy “Shut Up,” which will have you rooting through your old hardcore vinyl quicker than the announcement of an Adrenalin OD or Crumbsuckers reunion.

Their cover of X’s “Nausea,” which features Crisis, is uncontrollably cool, complete with a roundhouse rendition of puke-filled choruses; Karyn Crisis especially seems to be having an absolute ball on this track. Later Debris, Inc. drunkenly rips up Fear’s “I Love Living in the City.” Try not to laugh, I dare you.

In between is more goofballery like the skate rat grooves that drive “Junkbak” or the hard-driving hangover mantra of “I Feel Like Shit Again,” destined to be an underground classic, mark my words. Meanwhile, “The Ballad of Debris” will remind you of a thousand eighties thrash-punk jams; I’ll take DRI’s “Suit and Tie Guy.”

Simply put, Debris, Inc. is a trashbag masterpiece, gutter gourmet for the old school without pretentious unfulfilling appetizers. It is what is, a fun-filled side project from two minds that have spent much of their musical careers wrapped around doom and sludge tempos. Consider this album their hypothetical coffee break.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Lisa Walker and Tom Feeley preceded by a rant

I was feeling kind of bummed late this evening. The ant war continues; insects are scum that belong outside where I leave them be in peace as is only right--so long as they don't threaten the periphery of our home! My blood pressure jacks up trying to get rid of the filthy critters from my house. Do they contribute towards our mortgage, property taxes and utilities? Case closed.

The basement is nearly defunkified but still not yet suitable for playing my drums, chilling with music or whatever. Those close to me know I call my club cellar "Sanctuary," and I've just begun blowing up some of my best concert shots and hanging them down there. The pride I feel about those pics is temporarily quashed the longer it takes to defume "Sanctuary." Word of advice to anyone with sump pumps: CHECK THEM RELIGOUSLY!!!

So spring is here, and it bums me that rain and bugs depress me more than snow and short gray days. That's just not right. All part of being a homeowner, I guess. Comes with the territory.

Miscommunication in time scheduling found me unknowingly 4 hours late for my interview with Corrosion of Conformity today, which turned out alright under the crazed circumstances. Thanks to Mike Dean for getting it done with me at the last minute! Moving along...

I received an email from a good friend of mine in the pr game, Lisa Walker. A few weeks ago, I teased her about losing touch with me and I inquired about the status of one of her clients who has also become a pretty good friend of mine as well; he has released material in Europe and will soon do so in the States. I'll let Lisa handle the promotional end when she sees fit. After explaining to poor Lisa I was teasing her the last go-round, I cheered up to a hilarious email from her today, quoting my gibing email nearly verbatim while asking why people we know mutually in the music business were notified about my blog and she wasn't. Suffice it to say I did notify her in a mass mail, which might've been the lapse, but nonetheless we've straightened things out and as I'm often heard saying, "it's all good." It was an excellent laugh and heartwarming to know who my friends are when they complain about such a thing as not being notified about my blog!

I feel I should mention Lisa as she will be appearing in my sometime-coming metal book. Lisa is a connection through another incredible friend, Tom Feeley, and both deserve kudos here for taking an interest in me and guiding me along to various industry professionals as well as some famous musicians. I'm fortunate to know both Lisa and Tom. As it is, Tom will have his own testimonials featured in my book as well. I know you readers will likely gain insight from these two individuals as I have.

What Lisa really deserves credit for, aside from her own accomplishments in radio and promotion, is taking a chance on an unknown like myself and introducing me to some of my bigger interviews for the book. Whether Lisa knows it or not, these connections inadvertently led me to writing for the websites I do and now Pit Magazine. I'll take a small ounce of credit for busting my hump to exhaustion with interviews and reviews to scoot myself along the chain, but Lisa and Tom are deserving of much of the success I'm enjoying and I can't wait to finish the book to let both of these exceptionally wonderful people shine in their own words.

The gratitude I have towards both Tom and Lisa can hardly be summed up in a blog entry, but let it suffice for the moment...thank you both, and thank you to so many others...those of you who have actively participated in my book, our time is coming, assuming the metal gods get the manuscript into the right hands.

I never expected to be consumed into what is for me, a full-time second job covering the scene as it exists today, but there you have it; when life presents the opportunity, you seize it lest you succumb to future regret. A hobby has blossomed into an alternate career, and I won't forget those who got me started. You all know who you are and you will be credited appropriately in due time. As humbly as I can say, thank you so very much.

Most of all, thank you to everyone who reads my work or listens when I read in public. I'm truly just a music-filled face behind the computer without you.

Overkill interview is up

Last year I spoke with former Overkill guitarist Bobby Gustafson, who, in Overkill history is denoted as the only member to have been asked to leave the band after their seminal The Years of Decay album. Our interview was for a book on metal I've been working on for close to 2 years now, and as we yammered for about an hour I really appreciated his sincerity and friendliness. Definitely one of the coolest interviews for that project, and from someone I really admired in my teens.

To this day we've corresponded a few times by email, most recently around the time Dimebag Darrell was taken from this life. I wrote an editorial about the infamous slaying to which Bobby responded and shared a few personal anecdotes as he and Dime were close buds. Without hearing his voice this time, I could nonetheless tell Bobby Gustafson was in noticeable pain and on that note I leave him to find his peace.

In due time I'll be writing up Gustafson's new band Response Negative, which is a power metal unit guided by Gustafson's trademark riffs and solos. Sound tasty?

Shift forward a number of months and I find myself on the phone with another Bobby, Gustfason's former comrade-in-arms, lead singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth. I can say on a personal note I never thought this would happen, given the length of time it took me to find the right connection, and for that I thank my longtime bud in this industry, Al Stavola. You were one of the first. Cheers, man.

As I indicated earlier, Overkill is one of my favorite metal bands of all time. Next to hanging out with Joey Belladonna for most of an evening, this is about as cool as it gets. Only a chat with Iron Maiden could make me more complete as far as metal musician interviews go.

The release of Overkill's amusingly titled Relix IV is typical Overkill but sounds as invigorated as they have in a few years. Not too many surprises, Relix IV sticks to the formula and tosses in a few bonus mega-riffs that surpass their past few releases (most notably "Bats in the Belfry"), and a tongue-in-cheek 20th anniversary celebration on "Old School."

Like Bobby Gustafson, my chat with "Blitz" was equally fun. His rough New York accent is unmistakable and Blitz has one of those infectious raspy laughs that gets you going yourself. Blitz has a hell of a sense of humor and hopefully that resonates within the text of our interview, which you can find posted at www.roughedge.com, or by simply scrolling down to the Rough Edge link in the right column.

Blitz talks about how he and bassist DD Verni have carried on with Overkill even through the grunge years and the sluggish mid-90's years when metal was deader than Paris Hilton's soon-to-be-career. As Blitz says in the interview regarding Overkill's mainstay spirit while many of their peers folded or flocked to Europe, "we never got the memo." As much of a middle finger salute to the industry as was the contraversial cover gracing their notorious Fuck You EP.

Two enlightening conversations with two different guys who once called each other bandmates if not friends. Whatever happened between them and Verni is their own business. In a year where old grudges seem to be burying themselves in the interest of quickly organized reunions (i.e. Judas Priest, Anthrax and Testament), don't expect the same urgency between these lost members of Overkill. The current lineup in Overkill sounds remarkably strong in its current capacity, and honestly, it's not right to compare Overkill 2005 to Overkill 1985; they're each deserving of their own separate analysis.

On a personal note, I will say that having spoken with both of these metal esquires, it would be nice, not for the fans, but for the three individuals at stake, to find peace amongst themselves. Life is too short, so they say.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Chaos A.D.

In light of the previous post entitled "Reincarnate," which is something I wrote back in November of 2004 or something like that, I call to mind (or maybe it called me) the fact I've been listening to Sepultura's Chaos A.D. a good bit lately. A disc that more than likely resides in every serious metal fan's collection, the understated fact is that it may be one of the most important albums ever recorded.

I had the privilege of interviewing Max Cavalera last summer (go to www.pitriff.com and check it out), and I was received warmly by him and his wife, Gloria on the tour bus. I felt instantly at home amongst them, even more particularly so since Max and I were both wearing Bad Brains t-shirts! Talk about finding a way to overcome your nervousness! Despite the fact Max has long since departed the Seps, his sense of anarchy and spirituality continued in the bombastic Nailbomb and more intrinsically realized with his current band Soulfly. The foundation of it all, however, can be traced to Chaos A.D.

Never mind the fact that Chaos A.D. remains, twelve years after-the-fact, heavier than 80% of today's crop of metal talent just by the sheer antagaonistic guitar strumming, let alone the percussive explosions of Max's brother Igor. What's highly important about Chaos A.D. is that it still reflects issues of war, hatred, bigotry and societal turmoil that plague us today as it did when laid down in 1993. Perhaps it's because we're forced into another Bush regime (after all, Chaos A.D. was recorded during the first Bush fiasco) that brings it to light.

Sample this lyric from "Refuse/Resist" : "Chaos A.D., army in siege, total alarm, I'm sick of this, inside the state war is created, no man's land, what is this shit?" Now, while Sepultura's songs reflected more of their Brazilian homeland's crises, I'd say the message is universal when you move on to "Territory" and the lines that get me snarling along with the insidious riffage: "Years of fighting teaching my son to believe in that man, racist human being, racist ground will live, shame and regret of the pride you've once possessed" even as the chorus "War for territory" haunts us in these potentially apocalyptic times, as does the next line I'll sample from "Amen," which is "Terror raids the land, to ashes we'll be sent, in the name of God, lives cast away."

It's impossible not to get the message. War is wrong. War is not the means through which peace is achieved. That's bullshit. It's a copout. It lessens us all as human beings. Self-defense becomes the fine line to which aggression might be considered, but on the side of the aggressor, it reveals inadequecies of character. While I support the troops overseas laying down their lives so I don't have to, I support them in the interest of human preservation and global peace. However, having our president say "God is with us" is no more righteous than strapping a bomb around your waist and murdering innocents under a manmade conscript that martyrdom is salvation. It's all wrong. Peace is having the courage to question yourself and seek nonviolent resolutions amidst your brothers and sisters, lest you condemn us to global annihilation.

I could go on further about the messages wrapped inside Chaos A.D. but I leave it to you readers to discover on your own. I merely serve to hopefully whet your appetites and seek it on your own. If nothing else, consider this delightfully resonant line from "Nomad": "Knowledge is the weapon against the hunger in the land." Like the parting shot of those silly Budweiser ads, TRUE.

In conclusion, I posit that there is more than face value angry metal with Sepultura's Chaos A.D. It was fearless for its time, one, because it strayed from its primary thrash formula of their preceding albums, two, because it set in motion a deeper artistry that would be realized on their likewise brilliant Roots, but most importantly, Chaos A.D. is a soundboard for all generations to learn from. You simply need unearth the message.

Reincarnate

Silent in the shadows I await your revolution and inhale the discordant fragrance of anarchy, anticipating the metallic reveille calling awake a long-standing dormacy... I am the lamb of a new dawn, I am the child of a new order, and I've yet to be born...

(c) 2004 Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Atreyu interview is up at Rough Edge.com

It's my pleasure to inform those who care that my interview with guitarist Travis Miguel of Atreyu is posted at www.roughedge.com, or simply click the link in the right column and then click on "features."

A brief teaser for this interview; what sticks in my mind about Atreyu, Travis particularly, is how much of a regular rock 'n roll dude he is, considering the success Atreyu has garnished so quickly as one of the more recognized melodic metalcore bands on the scene today. They do kick some buttsteak onstage, too.

"There's arguments, management and all this stuff and when you think about it, it's kind of ridiculous because this is rock ' roll! This is just music, this is entertainment. When you get up onstage and act like idiots, some people can escape from their everyday lives...and I'm not complaining at all, this what we've all dreamed of...but I just stress to everybody to not take it too seriously and enjoy it while you can and have fun with it."

(c) Copyright 2005
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pit Magazine, reviews at Maelstrom 'zine and more...

Hey, hey, hey...

Many of you have checked in with me about my blog and I'm grateful you're reading, so my thanks to you first and foremost! Without you, my arthritic-bound fingers would type for naught.

Next, it is my honor to announce that I've been picked up to write for Pit Magazine. Many thanks and due beer cheers to Michael Savko for going to bat for me to land this gig. I look forward to the challenge of proving myself to these guys. This news took the edge off a pretty bad week, and despite my hangover from parties this past weekend (thanks Tom and Beth and Don and Patrice, I haven't been this woozy in ages!), my spirits are soaring for the upcoming week. And vacation is just around the corner, hoo-wah!

I'm trying not to make my blog so heavily religious, but I have to remain true to myself, thus I'll take a moment of silence for the passing of Pope John Paul II. As an ambassador of peace, the loss of the pope is more devastating than people can imagine, especially to those making light of his death. I won't say shame on you, but his vestige presented sanity to the malevolent war times we're experiencing. Unless you're a war-mongerer think upon that before you slag the pope just because the ideals of the Catholic Church don't match your own. As a Catholic (and a bad one at that), many of its ideals don't necessarily fall in line with my personal ideologies, yet I have much love for John Paul II for his spirit of multiculturalism and global unity. 'nuff said there. I won't discuss it anymore except in face-to-face conversation.

*****************************************************************************************

Finally... here's a list of reviews I did that were just posted at Maelstrom 'zine. Click on this link to take you there: www.maelstrom.nu. There are a number of very good and heavily discerning writers here at Maelstrom. If you're into metal, the reviews will challenge your thinking whether you agree or not. As regards to my work, you can find the following reviews:

From the Vault pick: Voivod - Killing Technology
Force of Evil - Black Empire
Ulvhedin - Pagan Manifest
Tarentel - Paper White/Big Black Square
Since the Day - El Mansejero no es Importante
Moonlyght - Progressive Darkness
Das Scheit - Superbitch (yes, Das Scheit means what you think it means)

Again, thanks to all of you for taking time and interest in what I do outside of the title business. It means more to me than you know...

Peace...

Friday, April 01, 2005

Of Pink Floyd and the Pope

This is likely going to be one the weirdest posts I'll do, and blasphemy is not on my mind, for what's crossed that strange gray matter territory wouldn't dream of sacrilege at a time like this.

I think it's safe to say a large portion of us respect both Pope John Paul II and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The reason I bring this up is that Dark Side and The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers have become safe haven albums for me, a pair of albums I turn the lights out to and flare up the lava lamps and the aquarium and just simply soak in the ambience of the music and the gaudy conflagration pentrating the tenebrous environment I sink into at times. This is a security (albeit somewhat artificial) that I wrap around myself like Linus' blanket does for him. It warms my body with hope and peace in the midst of such frequently questionable times.

Times such as right now, when Pope John Paul II is fighting for his life. I'm personally at a loss for this situation, because in such times of madness as we're experiencing right now, the pope is a symbol of security, order and peace. Though the Vatican may or may not operate with as much of a frustrating political infrastructure as many of the world's governments, the blessing we have as God-fearing individuals is to have a human vassal such as Pope John Paul II holding the position he does. It doesn't matter your faith of choice; God is God, no matter what the name or denomination. The important thing is that we have figureheads of His will to cling to, those of us who desire to at any rate. As it seems terribly certain Pope John Paul II's time with us is drawing to a close, who do we next turn to for such an undeniably strong representation of peace?

I make no pretentious claims that Dark Side of the Moon is musical sanctity, though certain vibes such as "Brain Damage" and "Speak to Me/Breathe" have astral capacities to daydream of heaven's underbelly; nor would I make the assumption that the Pope is a rocker, that beneath his papal vestments is a tie dyed shirt or a studded wristband. You never know, though. Coolness is of the heart and it often turns up in strange places beneath facades.

The thing is, and it may hold true for other people (and if it does, thank you for the company), but in my microcosm both Paul John Paul II and Dark Side of the Moon are instruments of peace that calm me and inspire me when I think the ugliness of the world can't be quashed.

Cardinal John Bernardin wrote an emotionally stirring book in light of his forthcoming death called "The Gift of Peace." He teaches us all how to humbly face the prospect of death, not with fear, but with a welcoming spirit, to treat it as a gift, if you will. Without becoming too maudlin, I can imagine Cardinal Bernardin's words are comforting to the pope right now, even as he continues to give everything he has to maintain his physical presence on earth. Even he seemingly knows what what it means in the grand perspective. Can the Vatican replace him when he departs this life? That's the biggest uncertainty, particularly for a secular faith experiencing crossroads and adversity. It seems particularly unfair that in a time of war, the best mortal representation of faith, hope and love is close to leaving us to contend with the irresponsible war mongerers who, piece by piece, destroy us all on a global level.

That, my friends, scares me, and I can think of nothing safer than retreating to an album like Dark Side of the Moon to hide from it. In fact, I've already listened to it today. Regardless of what happens to the pope, or what happens in Iraq or the rest of the world sitting on its proverbial powderkeg, I firmly believe peace will ultimately prevail, and it begins with a personal peace within each and every one of us. Too bad I left Sgt. Peppers at home; that's for when I return and close the door to the world outside until I can get my bearings to face it again.

You can tell me to smoke a bowl and get bent or hurry myself into the nearest confessional and repent, but I will do neither. I post this little commentary with full lucidity and awareness of the repercussions, and I invite both your support and your scorn. My only thought for John Paul is that he either recovers as the pillar strength he's historically been or that God welcomingly embraces him into the deserved state of peace that he's represented beautifully in his post. Whether you agree with his principles or the principles of the Catholic Church is your own business. To me, it's irrelevant. The position of being the pope is responsibly acting as an ambassador of peace for the entire world, and Pope John Paul II has lovingly done that.

If it means that he should perish from this life, may we all be fortunate to see him on the dark side of the moon when our own time to follow him arrives...

My interview with Norma Jean is up at Rough Edge.com

Yep, that's right, I held a seance just to ask Marilyn Monroe if she was a natural blonde or a natural redhead, if you get my drift...

Seriously, Norma Jean is a Christian hardcore band whose blistering chaotic sound will likely remind you of Dillinger Escape Plan. I spoke with guitarist Scottie Henry and vocalist Cory Brandan on a marathon interview day that also found me on the buses of Unearth and Atreyu. My interview with Unearth is currently running at RoughEdge.com as well, while Atreyu is forthcoming.

When I spoke with Norma Jean, their new album O God, the Aftermath dropped the same day. The guys were suffering colds and fatigue, but the excitement of their new album and an obviously cool tour alotted a great interview and a monster performance onstage. When you read the interview, you will find Norma Jean are not overt bible thumpers, no back pocket friends of Bush and his Christian Coalition posse. Norma Jean is a thought-provoking band with an extreme sound to their music. It is music not for the timid, but their message carries through, particularly on the masterful etymology of their song titles such as "Coffinspire," "Disconnecktie," "Murderotica" or "Liarsenic." Every song title features one of these sharp word crashings, which is impressive if you only manage one on album, much less eleven.

One of the highlights of this interview on a personal note was our shared passion for Cracker Barrel restaraunts...

Enjoy!