Tuesday, March 4, 2008

On the lighter side

Haha, just fuckin with you; it’s time to play some heavy shit. I’ve realized that I’ve been taking things too light as of late, and seeing as how today is one of my least hungover days in a while, I can’t think of a better time to shake it up. Now, of course I’m just not that brutal, so my heavy shit is probably nowhere near insane enough for true lovers of hardcore, metal and the likes. In my defense, I simply can’t get into a lot of heavier music. My love of music is like my love of women; we may have a good time tonight when I’m drunk, but to really like you, I need to be able to respect you in the morning.

So, you’re going to get the pansy’s version of heavier music today. The diet coke of metal. The poor man’s hardcore. The lighter side of dark. I’m sure every now and then I’ll throw in a band who is really just a rock & roll band that does a lot of cocaine, but my job here is not to pigeon hole bands, it is simply to recommend good music, regardless of fit or form.

The only newspaper I really care about (fuck the Wall Street Journal), exclaim, canonized this album as 2007’s best in the “Aggressive Tendancies” category. I’m sure before this Jesse had tried to force me to listen to it, but I’m still pissed that he never wanted to play this game called counter-strike with me. To make a long story short, once Jesse downloaded the Red album and played it in his apartment, we were both floored by Baroness. In true bastard child form, I immediately compared Baroness to Mastadon meets Rush. The heavier elements were all there, chuggy, driven riffs, gruff, indecipherable vocals, blast beat double kick, but at the same time, the album was so melodic and beautiful it was hard to stop listening to. The band showed incredible diversity with a number of ballad-type tracks, my personal favorite of which being Grad. I highly recommend you take a listen, not for a cheap giggle like I disclaim with many metal bands, but for a beautiful, liberating experience.

Now that you’re comfortable, let’s go ahead and fuck that up. Here is one of those bands to which I attach the “what the fuck was that” disclaimer. Sadly, this is yet another band who has passed their time, making me start to realize that I’m an old man, stuck in the 90’s. Mad Capsule Markets however, are still worth the look. A Japanese trio, who started playing music in 1990, found a way to mix programmed drum beats with over-distorted bass, and razor-like vocals, and then play pop music. A lot of bands tinkered around with electronic instruments and heavier music (it was called Industrial), however only rare bands like MCM came out and said, “Why does this music have to be dark and depressed?” Take a listen to the track Scary, and you’ll get what I mean. Their recorded music is apparently only topped by their live shows, which are said to be seizure-inducing. Sadly though, after so many years together, they decided to take a break in 2006, and have yet to reunite.

To be flat honest, the next artist isn’t really that heavy, however has Metal cred from his other projects. Maynard James Keenan has been the eerie voice behind both Tool and A Perfect Circle since 1990. He has one of the most distinct voices in music today, and is one of the most creative lyricists and songwriters I’ve ever worshipped. Thus, it was surprising that it took him until just this last fall to release his first solo project, under the name Puscifer. In his defense, I suppose the man has been somewhat busy, and it shows. The concept for Puscifer actually started in 2003, yet with his schedule, Keenan was not able to complete his album V is for Vagina until late 2007. The results were worth the wait. Combining stripped down electronic music with harmonies of Keenan’s powerful voice, the album wanders through many different genres, even country. The tracks don’t seem aimless or lost among such a plethora of sounds, they simply seem to be stopping over to play for a bit, and then jump onto the next sound.

For those of you who don’t know me that well, my favorite musician since the I was around 15 has been Dave Grohl. I never liked Nirvana that much, and only bought their albums after getting into the Foo Fighters, and wanting to see what my boy had done before. I just read a biography on Grohl, and his musical resume is disturbingly long. He seems to be one of those people that everyone wants to collaborate with, partially due to his musicianship, and partially because he’s been called the most level headed rock star in the world. Now that I’m finished gushing, I’ll get to the point. Perhaps the most intriguing entry on his resume was Grohl’s 2004 release, Probot. In a backlash against recent Foo Fighter’s success on lighter pop tracks, Grohl needed an escape. He would come to find it in his Metal side project, which would serve as an homage to the bands he listened to as a kid. Grohl wrote and recorded guitar, bass and drum parts to 13 different songs, tailored to 13 of his favorite vocalists of the early Metal era. A testament to the man, 12 of the 13 stepped up to the project, with the only exception being Chuck Schuldiner of Death, who died of brain cancer before contributing to the project. The album was released on Southern Lord records, with the only single to be pushed featured Lemmy and a video involving 66 Suicide Girls. This album packs enough punch to give you a vasectomy.

Wait… what?