Ground Zero: Backlit zine #0 issue out now!

Friends, Romans, THKD readers,

Roughly 5 months ago, Brandon Duncan (whom you may know from The Sequence of Prime) contacted me with an idea; let’s start a new online metal zine. Typically I prefer to work alone, but Brandon’s enthusiasm is contagious and I’m proud to call him my friend, so there was absolutely no way I could refuse. Brandon gathered an ace design team while I hand-picked some of my favorite writers from internet metal land with the express purpose of creating something new and unique, to drag the old school metal zine into the future, come Hell or high water with an emphasis on good old-fashioned writing and design.

After 5 months of hard work, I’m proud to present to all of you the fruits of our labors in the form of Backlit #0; fifteen pages of mind-melting music, art and literature.

Backlit / 0
Inaugural Issue
Now available at backlitzine.com
Cover Art by Dan Harding

Columns:

Raping Angels in America #1 / Joshua Haun
Angry Old Men / Jordan Campbell
Helpless Child / Dan Obstkrieg
Fucking The Future / Joshua Haun
Libations in the Labyrinth Vol. 1 / Dan Obstkrieg
Words That Wound / Dan Obstkrieg
Doomsday Device / Joshua Haun

Interviews:
Interview With Jester King Brewery / The Dragon of M87
Interview With Ashencult / Jordan Campbell

Art & Fiction:
Succubus in the Attic / Nikki Guerlain
Dan Harding: The Fine Art of Horror / Brandon Duncan

STAFF:

Overlords:
Joshua Haun
Brandon Duncan

Contributing Writers:
Joshua Haun
Jordan Campbell
Danhammer Obstkrieg
The Dragon of M87

Copy Editor:
Danhammer Obstkrieg

Design:
Brandon Duncan
Philip Tyson
Spencer Walker

I hope that you will all enjoy reading the first issue of Backlit as much as we enjoyed crafting it. This is only the beginning!

http://backlitzine.com/

Blitzkrieg #10: Old Gods Almost Dead

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch watching the Bad Religion episode of Guitar Center Sessions.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the show, it consists of the band playing their “hits” in an intimate setting interspersed with interview segments.  As I watched Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz and Co. rip through “Generator” and “21st Century Digital Boy,” all I could think is “goddamn they look old.”  The same thing occurred to me when I watched Animal Underworld, Henry Rollins’ new show on Nat Geo (which is fucking awesome, by the way).  Sure, Rollins looks like he could still kick the living shit out of just about any mere mortal, but his hair is mostly grey and his face is showing the kinds of craggy lines that only come with advancing age.  He definitely doesn’t look the same as when I started going apeshit over Rollins Band videos on MTV in junior high, or even when I saw him speak at my college.
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Blitzkrieg #9: The lost art of total immersion.

When I was in college, it seemed like I had all the time in the world to just sit and listen to music.  I would lay on the futon in my microscopic dorm room, blaring a wide array of metal, rock, hip hop, punk and classic country for seemingly hours on end.  Sure, I was going to classes and working multiple jobs, but there was always at least a day or two where I could stay up until the wee hours listening, or find a long break between classes to relax with an album or two.  I’d stare at the artwork, read the lyrics, the liner notes and sometimes even the thank yous while the music washed over me out of big-ass speakers, or pumped directly into my ears via headphones (until I accidentally crushed them in a drunken incident that needn’t be recounted here).  I could lose myself totally in the worlds my favorite artists created, whether it was the mean streets and dope beats of Ice Cube’s The Predator or the reverbed-to-Hell midnight treble-scapes of Darkthrone’s Under a Funeral Moon.
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Blitzkrieg #8: Oooh Baby I Like it Raw (from the Trashmen to Transilvanian Hunger)

In a recent conversation about music, my wife pointed out that I tend to gravitate towards stuff that is very raw and simplistic.  I believe “garagey” was the term she used.  She’s absolutely right.  I guess this has long been the case, but I had never really thought about it consciously until she brought it up.  I mean, I’ve certainly done my fair share of writing and espousing the virtues of raw, primitive music, but I never really considered just how much my listening preferences are dominated by these characteristics.
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Blitzkrieg: Rants, Raves and Recommendations #3

A lot to talk about this time around.  First up, let’s take a look at what I’ll refer to as “Scion-gate” for lack of a better term.  It all started with a post by Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s hilariously outspoken J. Randall on the now defunct ANb blog, criticizing Scion’s sponsorship of various extreme bands/tours/fests (and Magrudergrind in particular) as part of their Scion A/V project.  However, some major backlash hit within a day of the post going online and Randall was forced to delete it. Apparently, lyrics such as “I don ‘t fuck bitches anymore / I make them watch me massage myself till I come in my hand / belt them with my payload across the mouth” are ok for ANb, but anti-corporate blog posts are a big no-no.  Although Randall took down the offending post and the ANb blog, it can still be read here.

I’m guessing this was mainly written just to provoke/fuck with people, (much like ANb’s lyrics) but at the same time I can also see where he was coming from.  Let’s be honest, the thought of corporations getting involved in underground metal is enough to make anyone suspicious, and Randall was just pointing out what many of us were probably already thinking, whatever his motivations were.  Still, I can’t help but think that maybe we should be grateful that someone with money is investing it in a scene that is typically poverty-level, even if their ultimate aim is to sell cars to metalheads.  Should we be looking a gifthorse in the mouth?  I’m guessing that someone in a high position at Scion’s ad/marketing department is a metal fan, and if that’s the case, it’s pretty awesome that they’re using their pull in such a manner.  Anyway, it isn’t like the bands that played last year’s Scion Rock Fest (Voivod, YOB, DRI, etc) have become big rich rock stars overnight by being involved with the company.

However, I do think it’s a shame that an artist was forced to cave due to industry politics/pressure.  It’s bad news for everyone when censorship occurs the minute someone gets pissed off or is forced to see/think about something in a different way.  I might not agree with everything I read, but I will always stand behind someone’s right to express themselves however they see fit, no matter what (provided it is within the scope of the first amendment).

(It should probably be noted here that I am a metalhead that works for a large corporation and drives a Scion.  This clearly makes me a great big sellout.)

Moving on to the realm of guilty pleasures, let’s talk about the new Dimmu Borgir album, Abrahadabra.  I’m not saying this pompous monstrosity is album of the year or anything, but goddamn if it isn’t the metal equivalent of a Summer blockbuster.  I’m talking Independence Day or Transformers for your ears.  I had to double check the packaging to make sure is wasn’t produced by Bruckheimer and Simpson.  I’m sure I’ll catch plenty of flack for liking this album, but I’ve always been of the opinion that it is perfectly okay for heavy metal to be big, dumb and fun every once in a while, and that is exactly what makes Abrahadabra worth listening to.

The album isn’t perfect.  Snowy Shaw’s clean vocals sound a bit like Jim Breuer’s Goat Boy character from SNL doing power metal at times, making me long for the days of Simen Hestnaes.  The guitars often take a backseat to the symphony.  Some songs are far more compelling than others.  But these drawbacks certainly don’t keep Abrahadabra from being entertaining.

It’s all well and good to listen to all the progressive, artistic stuff out there that is pushing the boundaries of what metal can be, but sometimes we all need explosions, big fucking guns, car chases and more explosions, and that is where Dimmu Borgir comes in.  I think liking this band definitely ties in with my love of things that are unapologetically over-the-top (see also KISS, most black metal bands, etc).  How much more over-the-top can you possibly get than Shagrath dressing up like Queen Amidala from Star Wars and messing around with a bathtub full of milk?  Check out the video for “Gateways” and you’ll see what I mean (the female vocalist freaks me out).

Have you been reading Slough Feg mastermind Mike Scalzi’s column for Invisible Oranges?  Whether or not you agree with the man’s opinions, it certainly makes for some interesting reading.  I certainly cannot fathom not enjoying black or death metal, but it was a confounding pleasure to read Scalzi’s thoughtful explanation and analysis of his disdain for the genres in his most recent installment of Bullpen Bulletins (I hope he cribbed the title from old Marvel Comics).  I think we need more actual musicians taking part in the writing/criticism piece of the metal scene puzzle and I hope Scalzi keeps this up for a long time to come.  Plus, it’s always nice to see someone with the stones to express an opinion that differs from the that of the metal masses, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.

You can also read more of Scalzi’s thoughts on all things metal via this recent interview conducted by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Speaking of the band formerly known as The Lord Weird Slough Feg, have you heard The Animal Spirits yet?  Is Slough Feg capable of making a bad album?  So far, the answer to the latter has been a resounding “hell no” and The Animal Spirits is no exception.  The album is a pure joy to listen to, and should put a big ol’ smile on the face of fans of traditional metal (as first observed by my colleague over at Spinal Tapdance via twitter).  Yes, this is a “fun” metal album (albeit in a much different way than Dimmu’s latest), packed full of catchy riffs, Scalzi’s tremendous vocals and just a hint of that earthy, folksy quality that has always set Slough Feg apart from the trad-metal pack.  The album is available from our good friends at Profound Lore (will they ever put out a bad release? I doubt it).  Expect a full review here at THKD in the very near future.

Alright, we’ve officially reached the part of the column where I admit to fucking up. For reasons I can’t quite comprehend, I did not pay Tribulation‘s The Horror the attention it so obviously deserved when it was released back in 2009.  It could be that it got lost in the sheer volume of releases Pulverised was sending me at the time (back in the good ol’ days of physical promos), or it could be that I wasn’t in a particularly death metal mood when it arrived in the post, or it could that I simply had my head up my ass.

Either way, The Horror is a slab of old school Swede-death that will rip your brains out of your skull and eat them for breakfast.  The songs are catchy and well-written, the sound a deadly overdose of that trademark rumbling buzzsaw riffage that only Swedish bands can authentically pull off.  Tribulation stands decapitated head and shoulders above just about any of the other new jack bands currently partaking in the death metal revival thanks to their craftsmanship and authenticity.  If you think the old school death metal thing is already played out, I strongly advise you to check these guys out and think again.

I haven’t heard a lot of good doom this year.  I know the new Electric Wizard is out there lurking still, but other than that I haven’t come across too many doom albums of interest in 2010.  Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places?  Southern Lord, who used to be my go-to doom label, seems like they’re only interested in bands that do the hardcore-meets-Entombed thing lately.  Don’t get me wrong, that Black Breath album was good, but personally I’d rather just listen to Left Hand Path.

So, what are the great doom albums of 2010?  I’ve been digging the new Salome (review also coming soon) lately and Triptykon‘s debut is certainly about as slow and heavy as it gets.  But I need more, more, more, and suggestions are certainly welcomed.

Lots of good stuff on the horizon here at THKD.  Salome and Slough Feg reviews, + an interview with StarGazer is gonna make for one hell of a Profound Lore extravaganza.  Speaking of extravaganzas, the THKD Best of 2010 is being lined up for the first week of January 2011.  I’ve also been toying with the idea of doing a monthly or bi-monthly THKD podcast starting sometime in the new year.  Don’t worry, I’ve plenty of surprises in mind between now and then as well!

I think that about covers it for this edition of the Blitzkrieg.  Stay tuned for more filth.

Blitzkrieg: Rants, Raves and Recommendations

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with Apostle of Solitude’s Last Sunrise (Profound Lore, 2010).  These guys really stand out from the traditional doom pack thanks to Chuck Brown’s awesome Danzig-esque vocals.  Brown is an ex-member of Gates of Slumber, but trust me Apostle of Solitude rule way harder.

The band also has a great sense of dynamics and knows when to bring the heavy and when to mellow the fuck out and pour on the atmosphere.  The music and vocals are bleak and emotional without ever sounding cheesy or overwrought. There is a gravitas present on the album that other trad doom bands can’t hope to match with their pot-addled tales of wizards ‘n’ witches.  In other words, seriously killer stuff.

Listen to “December Drives Me to Tears”

A lot of fuss has been made over the cover art.  Is it bad that I don’t hate it?  To me it looks like it could be a still from some freaked out foreign film.  Or maybe a romantic comedy gone sociopath?  All I can say is, don’t let the artwork deter you in any way from checking out this sweet slab of doom.

There are also a couple of bonus cover songs tacked onto the release, my favorite of which is a spot on cover of the Misfits’ classic “Astro Zombies”.  Personally, I would love to hear the Apostles doom this sucker out rather than be so faithful to the original, but the song does speak to the band’s Danzig influence, which is great.

Apostle of Solitude just happens to be in the midst of a brief tour.  I’ve never seen them live, but I’d recommend doing so if you’re anywhere near these dates.

Jul 20 2010 8:00P The Court Tavern New Brunswick, New Jersey
Jul 21 2010 9:00P Ace Of Clubs Manhattan, New York
Jul 22 2010 9:00P The Bug Jar Rochester, New York
Jul 23 2010 9:00P Annabell Akron, Ohio
Jul 24 2010 9:00P The Metal Shaker Chicago, Illinois
Jul 30 2010 9:00P the Melody Inn Indianapolis, Indiana
Aug 7 2010 7:00P The Melody Inn Indianapolis, Indiana

http://www.myspace.com/apostleofsolitude

Another recent discovery is Italy’s Children of Technology.  This quartet recently released their first full length, It’s Time to Face the Doomsday, a catchier-than-syphillis blast of crusty Motorhead worship.  Think Toxic Holocaust doing speed and whiskey shots with Lemmy while watching a Road Warrior marathon in a filth-ridden garage and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what these fuckers sound like.  The album clocks in at less than 25 minutes, but CoT pack so many gnarly riffs and singalong hooks into that time that you’re still getting plenty of bang for your buck in spite of the abbreviated length.

Currently the album is only available on vinyl and cassette. I opted for the ultra-rad “radioactive green” cassette since I don’t currently own a turntable.  Word has it that the mighty Hell’s Headbangers will be releasing a CD version this Fall, so those of you that aren’t into outmoded forms of technology will get chance to hear this shit. I e-mailed them with an interview request a while back but have yet to get any sort of reply.

Watain‘s Lawless Darkness has finally started clicking with me.  I’ve been listening to the damn thing since before I interviewed Erik Danielsson for the now defunct Sonic Frontiers, but for some reason the album just wasn’t holding my attention.  Much like Sworn to the Dark, this album is a grower, and it’s myriad depths probably won’t reveal themselves to you unless you are willing to sit down with the album and devote your full attention to it.

I think that’s the reason a lot of albums get written off.  People either can’t or won’t devote the time and effort necessary to discern the intricacies of an album like Lawless Darkness. Even I don’t have time to give every CD the “king’s listen” it deserves.  People want instant gratification, but oftentimes the best works of art just don’t lay themselves bare so quickly.

Perhaps I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it at the time, but I take back everything I’ve said about the band peaking with Casus Luciferi (although that is still my favorite Watain recording to date).

On the horrors of shopping at big chain record stores…

Personal rant time… when did record store clerks become so annoying? Unless I’m with my wife or one of my friends, I prefer to be left alone while browsing. No sooner did I start checking out the metal selection at the local FYE this weekend, then a clerk started stalking me. I was wearing a Sepultura Chaos AD shirt and the guy says to me “A guy who posts on one of the message boards I’m on says Sepultura is the worst band ever!” I felt like saying “That’s fucking great, do you and your message board buddy want a cookie?” but before I could come up with any sort of response, he says “I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about.” I said that Sepultura had gone down hill after Max left and kept browsing.

Just when I thought he had gone away and I was in the clear, he pops up over my shoulder again. This time he hands me the new Soilwork CD. At this point I wanted to say “Soilwork?! You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kidding me.” but instead I basically advised him that in my opinion Soilwork hadn’t put out a good album since Natural Born Chaos (some would argue they crapped out long before that) and I hadn’t paid attention to them since. With his Soilwork parade officially pissed upon, he went back to the register and at last I was left to browse in peace.

I’m sure he meant well and is a perfectly nice person.  However, I like to be left to my own devices when browsing music, unless I am with someone who has similar tastes (i.e. my wife, my friends).  Basically I’m a mean, curmudgeonly old son of a bitch who doesn’t want to deal with these young whippersnappers and their melodic metal.  I especially don’t want one of them recommending shit to me or commenting on the band adorning my fucking t-shirt to try and get a reaction. Man, I’m a total asshole.

Anyway, I think I’ll be posting scatterbrained pieces like this every so often, just to get things off my chest.  Any suggestions for bands or other metal-related subjects to be discussed are welcomed.

Dethroned Emperor #27 (Prosthetic Records Enters the Realm of Black Metal w/ 1349 and Ov Hell)

One of the things that has always fascinated me is the absorbtion of extreme music into the American mainstream. It happened to death and thrash metal long ago, when bands like Metallica and Megadeth exploded, Earache Records releases got distributed through Columbia and Morbid Angel signed with Giant. Styles that were once reviled by the populace at large somehow found their way into the bins at Best Buy. Some styles have taken much longer to achieve this, particularly black metal. One could argue that Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir (and possibly Satyricon) have long been commercially acceptable black metal bands here in the states, but I would argue that those bands strayed very, very far from their BM roots in order to become accepted and “marketable”. It has only been in recent years that traditional black metal bands have come to sign with more “mainstream” metal labels here in the USA, and a perfect example of this is California-based Prosthetic Records releasing the new albums from 1349 and Ov Hell.

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