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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spins of the Minute - 3/27/2013



Hey there, everybody.  Just wrapped on March's blitz of Blabbermouth reviews, so I anticipate getting more reviews planted over here in the upcoming week and thereafter.  As previously promised, be on the lookout for analysis of the new Centurion and The Beyond albums, plus As They Burn, Vanna, and whatever else there's time to knock out.

I want to thank my Beatallibanger commenters with whom I've cultivated some insightful dialogue offsite.  While many readers are going to both agree and disagree with my analysis of Beatallica's Abbey Load album, thus far, cooler heads have prevailed from the rebuking parties and I've enjoyed learning a few anecdotes that shed some light as to how I derived my opinions of the new album.  I have no choice but to stand on what I wrote based upon what has been presented, but I now believe that Beatallica were held in check by licensing mandates from issuing the album they perhaps wanted to release this time around.  If that's any attempt to be fair on my part, then hopefully it comes across that way.  Hesh, you Beatallifreaks! 

Listening:

Depeche Mode - Delta Machine
Depeche Mode - Speak & Spell
Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels
Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsys
Puscifer - Donkey Punch the Night EP
Puscifer - V is for Vagina
Clutch - Earth Rocker
ZZ Top - El Loco
H.I.M. - XX:  Two Decades of Love Metal
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping
Nader Sadek - Living Flesh
Beatallica - Abbey Load
Ruins - No Place of Pity
Focus - Focus X
Baptists - Bushcraft
Cold Steel - America Idle EP
Man Made Sun - More Devil Than a God EP
New Order - Technique
New Order - Substance

Viewing:

Bonnie and Clyde
X-Men Origins:  Wolverine
Hitchcock

Reading:

Don't Stop Believin' :  The Untold Story of Journey - Neil Daniels

Saturday, March 23, 2013



Man Made Sun - More a Devil Than a God EP
2013 Self-released
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Israeli born, New York-planted Man Made Sun is cultivating a modest audience using a grass roots (whatever constitutes for grass roots in the digital age) reachout and frankly, what they've been tooling with as a band defies category to this point.  Proto pump metal?  Gutter alternative?  Psych crunk? 

Yeah, all of those and none of them, if you take the inference.  On their nicely constructed debut EP More a Devil Than a God, Man Made Sun would first have you believe they're aiming towards a pop metal audience with the hook-filled "God Vs. God" and "Belief."  Then they change gears altogether on "Signal," which merges grunge rock and electro punk, i.e. early Soundgarden and Pearl Jam with The Prodigy, of all concoctions. 

On "Three Things," there's more of a punk base in the fuzzy drawl of Fugazi that's given a bit of a subliminal hip hop groove without drifting towards actual rap.  If anything, vocalist Ofer Tiberin (former guitarist of Emok) slithers and slinks his notes and words, accentuating instead of punctuating.  Even when he huffs out a pseudo rap attack amidst the crunchy street riffs on "God Vs. God," there's more of a restrained open mike essence instead of flat-out slam to his delivery.   

The coolest number on the EP, "Waiting for the Sun," throws a few curveballs, tricking the listener into thinking Man Made Sun is going straight for a neo-gangsta rap groove before jacking the track with shrilling guitar lines and synthetic Middle Eastern whispers as interpreted through electro channels.  Tiberin weaves a pretty tasty splice of Cake's John McCrea and Damon Albarn on this song's verses while wailing like he's just getting its pipes loosened on the choruses.

If there's any glaring shortfall to More a Devil Than a God, it's a slight bit of hesitation from the band instead of pulling their triggers.  There's so much going in these tracks and evidence of Man Made Sun trying to hedge an actual voice for themselves, more attention is given to the execution and homogenous mixing of their parts instead of letting their creative mojo leap free.  You can sense a tiger's soul lingering within this collective hiding in the proverbial brush and waiting for the right delta to spring forward into, claws and incisors bared at the ready.

Still, Man Made Sun are onto something.  Once that something is constituted as creed within their band, look the hell out.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Load of Polythene Says Enough is Enough



Beatallica - Abbey Load
2013 Oglio Entertainment Group
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

The legend of Milwaukee genre splicers Beatallica is familiar to most rock fans, the most important fact being that they have the endorsements of both Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield behind them.  Their fans are known globally as "heshers" and "Beatallibangers."  Not too shabby for a Spinal Tap-ish pseudo career that began as a contest parody and took an improbable life of its own.  If you're one of the unlikely souls coming across this review without knowing who or what Beatallica is, then one gander at the artwork of their fourth official album, Abbey Load should be indicative of what you're in for. 

In the past, Beatallica has presented a cement head's (if mostly harmless) alter vision of famous Beatles songs played in the static key of "ca."  At times, Beatallica have wielded some hilarious nuggets such as "Hey Dude," "Leper Madonna," "Got to Get You Trapped Under Ice" and "I Want to Choke Your Band."  Their sheer balls for issuing All You Need is Blood on repeat in thirteen languages is likewise a high point, albeit that's only saying so much.  If the components of Beatallica weren't sharp musicians coming into this ridiculous venture, they would've been cast away into the ether of a novelty act phantom zone where Dread Zeppelin and Napoleon Bonaparte have long been banished.  Their last album Masterful Mystery Tour from 2009 was not a bad lightning ride from these fools banging from the proverbial hill.  It seemed like Beatallica had engineered a riotous coda from which they probably should've carried their weight to an appropriate fade to black.

Enough wasn't enough, though, and this year Beatallica resurfaces once again with Abbey Load.  Frankly, if you're thinking the title hints at material more watered down than a Coors Light, trust your instincts.  While there are some fun bits of thrash midway through the end of the album, it's evident by the fact Beatallica has this time laid down a strict cover album of Beatles cuts they're in a quandary.  With no real attempt to weave some of their trademark title and lyrical scrambles into their goob goob ga-growl Eggman platters, it merely posits the band has run out of cooking gas. 

Abbey Load is merely Beatles familiars given the amplified treatment with a heavy concentration of Metalli-riffs grabbed from the latter's Load couplet.  For example, "Until it Sleeps" winks into the Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" and Beatallica thus keeps the track rolling in low key with a thin resemblance to the original song.  That's the general status quo to this album. 

Beatallica ho-hums through a grungy and blasé take of "Come Together" while they limp through "I Saw Her Standing There," "Help!" and "Please Please Me" with bloodless riffs and the now-tiresome yo-ooooo Hetfield impressions conducted by Jaymz Lennfield.  Let's not go there with "Michelle," ripped asunder (with seemingly intentional poor execution) by the crunch of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls."  In this case, Beatallica invites you to snicker over their lone external interjection, a morphed chorus tweak, "for whom Michelle tolls."  Yeah, they went there.  Sorry, but these cuts are just nowhere, man.

The album's highlight is a somewhat serious (and well-performed) instrumental take on "Blackbird" yielding a smidge of metal warping to Beatallica's acoustic parlay.  Okay, it is genuinely funny to hear "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" and "Carry that Weight" thrown through Beatallica's grinding wind tunnels.  Yet Abbey Load represents an end of the line moment for these Metalligoofs, at least on record.  There's a bald absence of the creative zeal that made Masterful Mystery Tour and Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band pretty danged funny joints.

What really reeks on Abbey Load, however, is the band's swipe from Megadeth's "Bad Omen" in the midst of transition between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."  They've already teased their listeners by tooling well-familiar rolling riffs into "Mean Mr. Mustard" found in Metallica's "Four Horsemen" and Megadeth's "Mechanix."  You know, the same songwriting split over two different groups' tunes that continues to fuel the wrath of scrumming pundits over who won the battle of Dave Mustaine's work.  Followed by the "Bad Omen" hijack, you're not sure if this is gonzo stuff or if Beatallica's opened a can of worms they sure as hell didn't need to now that the Metalli-deth war has been put to rest.  Moreover, is Mustaine going to have a sense of humor that some of his fiercest licks bred in the midst of that long-ago feud has been ripped by a Metallica joke band?  You understand Beatallica's jibe, but is this indeed a bad omen?  Probably.  Bad taste, for certain.  Beatllica may want to keep Lars Ulrich's proffered retainer money handy.

Sad but true, Abbey Load has pushed the Beatallica farceur vehicle as far as it's going to go.  Once a pretty funny and talented band of metalhead pranksters, their diehard Beatallicabangers may delight in this album but there's no denying Abbey Load is flatter than a highway flip cat.  These guys will probably sustain themselves as Friday and Saturday night bar sensations since nothing opens beer bottles faster than a good party onstage, but their future memory is in danger of remaining only in theory.  Like the epochal piano crash at the end of "A Day in the Life," this is done.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Posthumous Prolificness


Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels
2013 Experience Hendrix, LLC/Sony Music Entertainment
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Jimi Hendrix just might be more popular these days than at the height of his purple reign.  The brother's never gone out of fashion.  He's an immortal, a cosmic troubadour, a young lion cut short at the height of his talents, add any due superlatives you like.  He is canonized by the masses as guitar god of the most righteous order.  By now, there's no argument Hendrix was the greatest of the great, but what's getting to be more evident these past few years now that his estate trickles out vault package after vault package is that the cat was playing (and recording, apparently) in his sleep. 

It's been both dubious as well as intoxicating to have so much Jimi Hendrix to glom onto after decades of sitting on a handful of his halcyon recordings:  Are You Experienced, Axis:  Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland plus the Band of Gypsies live album representing his figurative legacy.  For so long, Jimi Hendrix's basement tapes have remained under lock and key, even with the issue of The Cry of Love and War Heroes shortly as his death in September of 1970.

While Jimi's estate has taken up the laborious task over the years of segmenting and tuning up his vast "lost recordings," the fact so much of it has flooded the marketplace in rapid succession since Valleys of Neptune in 2010 carries an underlying reek of capitalist cash grabbing.  On the other hand, Valleys of Neptune was merely a primer for a secondhand posthumous career that will rival anyone who's picked up an instrument in his or her life and put their wares to tracking.  First Rays of the New Rising Sun, South Saturn Delta, Blues plus the Radio One and BBC Sessions live documents have not only satiated the appetites of hardcore Hendrix acolytes, it's given the world a better audile overview of the man's genius.  For the truly rabid, there's also the Dagger Records bootleg imprint set up by surviving Hendrix clan.  In effect, what Jimi Hendrix released in an official capacity during his four-year hijacking of the rock world was but three courses of an intended banquet, and just desserts for those who had the appetite.

Which leads us to People, Hell and Angels, twelve previously-unreleased tracks of Jimi noodling with schemes and external performers outside of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  While most of the material's rawness shows beneath the otherwise sparkling overdubbing, People, Hell and Angels is served up as further insight to how much energy was clamoring for release from Jimi's aura.  You have to assume the unfitting way he checked out of this life was partially due to fatigue from his obsessive creative habit.

In a way, it is fitting that Hendrix squares off this past week in the same timeframe as David Bowie's strong rebound album, The Next Day.   As representatives of a revered era of music, it's fun to couple them in one sitdown.  What resonates about People, Hell and Angels on its own merits is its glimpse into what we audibly know about Jimi Hendrix and in a few cases, what we've not yet been treated to.  "Earth Blues," "Crash Landing," "Inside Out," "Hey Gypsy Boy," "Hear My Train a Comin'" and "Bleeding Heart" are laidback blues jams with plenty enough glue to groove to, imperfect as they may be.  Despite Jimi's intense plying for perfection, hearing these tracks along with all of this other archival material shows that he was quite human, much as many of his contemporaries might have argued he was an alien taking a prolonged vacay on planet Earth.

This album's hugest pleasure pill is Hendrix's duet with honky tonk and revival saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood on "Let Me Move You."  Gospel at its heart, "Let Me Move You" propels into sonic and organic planes with clean, rapid strumming and precise soloing.  All set against a booming wall of brass, organs and a crushing beat giving Jimi room to vibe, even if Lonnie Youngblood dominates the track with his visceral yowling and madcap tooting.  The super-funky "Mojo Man" could've been one to outshine Curtis Mayfield had people heard this secretive get-together between Jimi and a mostly unlisted funk troupe that included his longtime Harlem friend Albert Allen on vocals.

Then there's "Easy Blues," a low-key jazz instrumental which shows Jimi could hop into damned near any genre he wanted to tool with, much like his future disciple Prince would go on to do.  "Crash Landing" carries a hint of country bop beneath the primary blues drive, showing Jimi's propensity to toy with dynamics.  On "Inside Out," Hendrix was playing around with a lot of ostinato as he was exploring the homogenous relationship between cleans and statics, one of his trademarks.  "Inside Out" brings some of the traditional Hendrix principles on both guitar and bass, but it feels like he was trying to extend his ideas into a funkier vein with Mitch Mitchell riding shotgun in the interest of letting his friend helm and hone to his content.

"Hey Gypsy Boy" is one of the darker cuts Hendrix was working on between 1968 and 1970.  Inherently muddy, you can detect grander psychedelic splashes on the horizon in what comes off as a wicked demo track in which Jimi wrangles his frets and coaxes all sorts of weird, translucent tones and keys that would've been significantly monstrous in finished form. 

What People, Hell and Angels leads Jimi's fans to believe by de facto assumption is there is still far more the estate has yet to supply the listening world.  As a traveling minstrel spreading the good news of electric nirvana, Jimi Hendrix came into contact with many of his contemporaries on top of so many differing stylists and performers.  Dare we think there are Jimi and Janis tapes waiting to see the light of day?  Or perhaps Jimi and Carlos Santana? 
This isn't the end of the ride, bank on it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spins of the Minute: 3/16/13

                                               


Hey there, readers.  Yeah, I've fallen off the pace here at The Metal Minute, but the traffic's spiked once again nevertheless.  Personal matters and the need to recharge in solitude for a couple of evenings compelled me to get off-track.  I love each and every one of you for keeping the momentum growing. 

This week I was asked to write a guest editorial for Ghost Cult magazine regarding the butt ugly Queensryche division, so be on the lookout for that in future days.  Meanwhile, I expect to pound on this site with previously-promised reviews and more including the latest Hendrix vaults package, People, Hell and Angels.

Be there or be nowhere.


Listening:

Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels
The Gathering - How to Build a Planet?
The Gathering - Nighttime Birds
Queensryche - The Warning
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime
Queensryche - Promised Land
Otep - Hydra
Arbogast - s/t
Mudhoney - Piece of Cake
David Bowie - The Next Day
April Wine - The Nature of the Beast
The Black Keys - Attack & Release
The Black Keys - Rubber Factory
The Black Keys - Magic Potion
The Black Keys - Thickfreakness
Saxon - Strong Arm of the Law
Saxon - Power and the Glory
Allman Brothers Band - Idlewild South
Roger Waters - The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking

Viewing:

Mudhoney - I'm Now:  The Story of Mudhoney
Stray Cats Live at Montreaux 1981
An Evening With Frank Zappa:  The Torture Never Stops 
Oz, The Great and Powerful

Reading:

James Salter - A Sport and a Pasttime

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ray's Latest Reviews Posted at Blabbermouth

                               


Head on over to Blabbermouth.net right now and check out my reviews of the latest releases from Destruction, Helloween, Tomahawk, Saxon, The Gathering, Vreid, My Soliloquy, Kingcrow and Soilwork's spectacular double album, The Living Infinite, plus Rammstein's Videos 1995-2012 and Tank's War Machine Live DVDs.

And, as always, thank ya kindly for your support!