Posts Tagged “Fact Of The Matter”

Czech prosecutors have officially decided to level a formal indictment at Randy Blythe. The embattled Lamb Of God frontman was jailed by Czech authorities last summer, charged with manslaughter in connection with a fan’s death at a Prague show in 2010, and held for five weeks.

Blythe was eventually released on $400,000 bail. In a subsequent interview with Metal Hammer, he reflected on the very real possibility of long-term incarceration:

“Ten years with no time off for good behavior. For my particular charge — we’re saying manslaughter, but it’s assault in the fourth degree with intent, resulting in the death of this young man — the sentence for that is five to 10 years with no time off. So the worst-case scenario is that get out when I’m 51, 52 years old. It’s not something I really try to dwell on too much, because it’s scary. I don’t want to go to prison, I don’t want that to happen, but the fact of the matter is it could happen. I will deal with it as it comes, that’s all I can do. If you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you’re pissing on the present. And right now, all! have is the present so I prepare myself the best I can. My band is behind me and my family’s behind me and we’re gonna do our best to prove my innocence. But worrying about a nebulous uncertain future, or being super-bummed out that l went to prison for 37 days does me no good.”

The original Czech report announcing Blythe’s indictment can be viewed at Novinky.cz. The court allegedly has three months to set a trial date, unless the case is dismissed or delayed pending further investigation.

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Aaron Turner of Hydra Head Records has issued the following announcement about deciding to call it a day:

“Hydra Head Records has never been a smooth-running operation. We’ve spent the majority of our existence excitedly scrambling from one thing to the next, taking on more than we could ever possibly hope to achieve, and never quite finding solid footing in the midst of our self-induced whirlwind of chaos. Though not every second of doing this label has been enjoyable, it has been a very rewarding and meaningful project for me, and I hope for many of the other lives to which it has been directly connected. The fact that it has lasted close to two decades at this point is astonishing, and much has changed during that time – the lives of those directly involved with running the label, the bands and artists we’ve worked with, and the nature of the music industry itself. Though many of these changes have been positive, or at least illuminating, the impact of our history and current industry circumstances are culminating into a slow and somewhat painful death for the label. It certainly isn’t an entirely unforeseen event, but we didn’t think it would come quite so abruptly, or (perhaps naively) ever.

“The decision to pull the plug has not been an easy one, and in some ways is a not a choice at all. The simple fact of the matter is we’ve been running on empty for a while now and cannot afford to keep our doors open for much longer. Years of imbalance between creative ideals and financial realities, personal problems amongst the label operators, an unwillingness to compromise our aesthetic standards, a tendency towards releasing challenging (i.e. unmarketable) artists, and the steady decline of the music industry in general, are amongst the chief reasons for our inability to continue. It is a harsh but undeniable reality, and one which we are attempting to confront with as much integrity and grace as is afforded by the circumstances.

“For the short term we will continue to operate as we have been, effecting our first step into shutdown this December, at which point we are cutting off new releases from the label. Thereafter, we will be remain operational only in the interest of maintaining our back catalog, with the ultimate aim of repaying our rather sizable debts. Grim though this prospect is, in the midst of it all I still feel an extreme gratitude for everything that has happened and for all the wonderful people with which we’ve been involved over the years. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most unique and provocative artists of the last two decades, many of which have made indelible impressions in the underground, and by extension the larger world of music in general. We’ve also been fortunate to have had the support of a small but loyal following, who’ve constituted the very essence of our life force. We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude and love to each and every person who contributed to making this label what it is – all the artists who entrusted us as the custodians of their work, all the people that bought or listened to our releases, and all the people who performed the various label duties at various offices (and houses) across the continent.

“…and this brings us to the present moment, where in all honesty we are in need of financial assistance from anyone and everyone who’s willing to throw us a rope. Though it is highly unlikely we’ll be able to resuscitate the label, we do wish to follow through on the final round of releases to which we’re committed and pay off our debts to our artists and manufacturers. In order to do this we are initiating a massive sell-off of everything we can dig up and produce for the next 6-12 months. This will include discounted bundles of CDs/LPs/posters/etc, represses of certain titles for which we still have parts, test pressings, and whatever worthwhile items we can pull together. For anyone that is able and willing to fund our funereal arrangements please visit our direct mailorder or webstore and pick up whatever you can. Any and all support is greatly appreciated by our remaining team, and will be put to the best use possible.

“There is no way to sum up nearly 20 years of incredibly important music, experiences, and evolution other than to say a big heart felt ‘thank you,’ and that we hope this closing will provide an opening into other even more positive and rewarding experiences for all of us and all of you who have been a part of our shared experience. For now we bid you all a very fond farewell….”

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Finnish progressive death metal act Barren Earth has issued the following statement about the track listing for the band’s new album and plans for a special edition release:

“Hi y’all. There has been conflicting information about the new albums tracklist and the number and destination of bonus tracks.

“The fact of the matter is that the album will include 8 songs, not 9. The list of 9 tracks, as exemplified in the Record Shop X ad here, is based on the original version of the album the way it was planned last Autumn. It was later agreed, however, that the song order would be altered, and that one song, The Passage Unfolds, would be omitted. This has now happened, and the new 8-track list is out in the world. Unfortunately, also the 9-track list seems to persist. Do not take heed of this!

“Also in the pipeline is a special edition of the album with 2 bonus tracks: Martyrs Of Devotion and World In Haze. The fate of The Passage Unfolds is as of yet unclear, but it will probably also surface in one form or another at some point.”

Barren Earth’s new album “The Devil’s Resolve” will see its North American release on March 13th, 2012 via Peaceville Records.

The track listing is as follows:

1. Passing Of The Crimson Shadows
2. The Rains Begin
3. Vintage Warlords
4. As It Is Written
5. The Dead Exiles
6. Oriental Pyre
7. White Field
8. Where All Stories End
9. Martyrs of Devotion (Special edition bonus)
10. World in Haze (Special edition bonus)

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Before we begin, let me first start by saying that I love women’s rights. I’m all for feminism. Women should earn the same as men, women should be able to fight on the front lines in battle if they’re physically capable (the “physically capable” isn’t sexist, it’s realistic), and I even think women should have to register for the draft the same as men. I am clearly not a sexist. Except in one place; metal.

As far as metal goes, it’s not 2011, it’s 1911. This will definitely be a tightrope affair as far as writing; trying to prove I’m not sexist while at the same time asserting that I am. The simple fact of the matter is that I have this insurmountable aversion to women doing vocals in extreme metal. I don’t mean basic backing melodies like Laura Pleasants in Kylesa. I think she’s great and Kylesa is great. What I am talking about are women that front bands that do the extreme, guttural or shrieking vocals: vocals that until recently have been occupied by males. They are the definitive hyper-masculine vocals. When someone of the female persuasion does them, my mind just can’t digest it. This isn’t some douche bag indictment that says “oh, women just can’t compete with men,” or “females just can’t measure up as far as brutality.” I’m not saying that at all. In fact, I’m saying the exact opposite.

Katherine Katz from Salome and Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Stevie Floyd from Dark Castle. Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. All of them are fantastic vocalists. But ever since I was a metal virgin, I couldn’t accept the idea of a women making that noise. I remember being in high school and my friend trying to get me into Arch Enemy by saying “dude, the vocalist is so hot though!” This friend turned out to be gay, but that’s beside the point. Deep down, it was her gender that turned me off to her vocals, and it was her good looks that served as the icing on the cake as far as me not being able to enjoy the band.

The first time I ever encountered Dark Castle was at the Scion Rock Fest, when I stumbled into Tent #1 randomly to see who was playing. It was a bit more doomy than I prefer, but I was definitely impressed by the vocals and general vibe of the band. And yet her femininity results in me writing the band off as one to respect, but not to actively listen to.

Like I said before, I’m not going to fight against this attitude as somehow not being sexist. It definitely is. What I’m trying to figure out is why I feel this way, when I’m such a booster for equality in every other regard. Why have the most extreme and brutal vocals been sanctified as an arena only to be occupied by men for me? Is this shitty attitude and perspective only participated in by me, or are there other closet metal sexists in the world? And last but not least, does this hurt female fronted bands? I mean, I’m sure on some level their gender could serve to promote the band as something new or different as a thinly veiled gimmick, but exactly how much does it help and how much does it end up hurting?

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Ah, Tool. A band that is totally outside of any industry standards or trends. A band that has produced four albums over their twenty year existence of high quality music filled with great lyrics, instrumentals, album packaging, the whole deal. The band reeks of consistency. The band also has one of the all time most annoying fan bases, and the biggest discrepancy between quality of music and quality of fan. The fact of the matter is that a majority of Tool fans resemble the baaaing sheep they supposedly despise.

Just to clarify, I think Tool is a great band. I first heard the band when I was a freshman in high and I heard a track on the radio, and then after googling the lyrics (which completely disturbed my 14 year-old-mind), I was hooked from there. And while, like with all bands, my attention or favor towards the band has wavered up and down since then, I have always felt and will always feel that they’re a truly talented progressive metal band. I even have a poster of the Tool dick tool at left above my bed. There is no debate that I do very much enjoy the band, and I don’t have some bizarre vendetta against the band for selling too many records or something.

That being said, so many of their hardcore fans are garbage, and not in the sense that they’re not loyal enough or they’re fair weather fans. I mean that they’re too loyal, and they give way, way too much credit to the band. A quick glance through Tool’s last.fm page reveals this.

Yes, many Tool fans believe that the band is insanely smart and are running around with IQs above 200 and that their music is some sort of embodiment of this high level intelligence. Granted, Maynard writes good lyrics, but please. Half of their music can be directly tied to drug use (a completely separate topic I have absolutely no interest in discussing), and even their guitarist has noted the benefits of DMT on his life. So, is Tool smart? Maybe. Does Tool have some higher level understanding of life and existence? No.

Then there’s the outright worship of the band. Last June I was at the final Isis concert in Hollywood before their break up (yes, I’m cool). Up in the sealed off area on the second floor where the band and their guests were hanging out, there was a guy with shoulder length brown hair that looked quite a bit like Adam Jones, the guitarist. However, any doubt that it was him was erased when the guy standing next to me with a tattoo on his shoulder of the third eye looked up and then literally started bowing down to him. He then turned to me and yelled “that’s Adam fucking Jones!” The literal worship was bizarre to me. From the tattoo to the actual bowing, it’s incredibly strange. And off base. Adam is a great guitarist, but does anyone really deserve to be bowed down towards?

Of course no discussion of Tool worship can go without at least touching on the complete and total reverence for vocalist Maynard James Keenan. This idea that Maynard is some sort of prophet is a theme that is pretty constant amongst the irritating Tool fan base. As said earlier, Maynard writes good lyrics. But that’s pretty much it. The rest of his time is spent making wine and participating in sub par side projects like Puscifer.

Really, it’s all just so overblown. There’s the Fibonacci sequence track listing for Lateralus, the constantly commented on five year gap between between Tool albums and how mathematically it is supposed to somehow guarantee or ensure a new record this year. This constant clinging to the idolized versions of the band members and the higher power that dictates their music and album release dates and secret tracks really wears down on the image of Tool as a band. And while by no means does it ruin the actual music, it does have an impact on the perception of the band by both good fans and prospective fans. There is a negative impact when quality, grounded fans have to defend the work of a band due to the ignorance and idiocy of the majority of the fan base. In the end it’s summed up best by the post below, and I left their username visible so everyone can go to their page to congratulate them on their intelligence.

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Overall, 2010 was a bit of a disappointment for me, as far as releases I was looking forward to. Intronaut, Kylesa, The Ocean… a giant meh all around. But that’s not to say there weren’t some new bands that came to my attention and blew my mind. So, without farther adieu, here are my Top 10 Albums of 2010.

10) Bison B.C. – Dark Ages

This probably won’t show up on many year end lists because it came out so early in the year, but Dark Ages was definitely the marquee album to come out of the stoner/sludge/thrash/beardo/whatever hybrid scene this year. It’s a focused follow-up to the equally immense Quiet Earth, and it really is a cornucopia of riffs. You can practically feel the bands’ beards tickling your eardrums as they shred away. Bison B.C. combines sludge with stoner metal and the result is fascinating; it has the grit of sludge but the slow rumble of stoner. The combination is Dark Ages. If a number 10 rating and analogy about beard tickling doesn’t make you want to listen to this album, I don’t know what to tell you.

9) In Mourning – Monolith

In Mourning gets accused of being an Opeth clone pretty often. Even if it’s not deserved, it is definitely complimentary, isn’t it? Being accused of borrowing a style of epic song structure and writing, diverse tempo changes, and unmatched intensity? Any band should be honored to be accused of being an Opeth clone. But the fact of the matter is, while embodying some of the elements of Opeth, In Mourning sticks to its own path. This is fully realized on Monolith, the band’s second release. The epic prog is in full force, but it’s much more catchy than the seminal progressive death metal band In Mourning gets compared to the most.

8) Torche – Songs For Singles

This would be higher up on my list if this wasn’t an EP. Torche’s first album since losing their second guitarist finds the three-piece in great form. Torche brings everything you’ve come to expect; short songs, high energy, and poppy melodies dipped in happiness. Songs For Singles is a logical follow-up, and somehow the band sounds even more dense without the second guitar, as the entire band seems to really explore the limits of sound their instruments can create. The effect is magnificent and in full force on Songs For Singles.


7) Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini

I don’t know what Axioma Ethica Odini means and I don’t care, because Enslaved has returned with yet another quality progressive black metal album. Enslaved is unmatched as far as consistency… since around 2003 they’ve been releasing truly top-notch quality black metal. It’s proggy without being pretentious, and it still maintains the blast beats we’ve come to expect out of snow covered Norway. Axioma Ethica Odini is a bit of a return to Earth for the band, as it’s predecessor, Vertebrae,  went to the moon and back as far as exploration of the band’s sound. However, even if this is a re-grounding of the band’s sound, it will certainly please any fan of Enslaved and any open minded fan of black metal.

6) Son of Aurelius – The Farthest Reaches

I stumbled onto this band pretty let into the game as far as 2010 goes, but the debut record from Son of Aurelius vaults the band automatically into the top of the technical death metal list. All of the trappings of typical tech death are here, but Aurelius takes everything a step farther. Of course the instrumental element is inherently complex (this is tech death, of course), but vocally Son of Aurelius stands alone. I seriously had to look up the band members to see whether they had two vocalists (they don’t). The use of high screams and low growls is fantastic. Son of Aurelius comes across as a more upbeat The Faceless, and hopefully like The Faceless they expand on their abilities with another high quality release in the next couple of years.

5) Lantlôs – .neon

Admittedly, I came upon this band and album via another top 10 of 2010 list. Sue me. Because this album is so dense and magnificent that is pretty much demands I stick it in my own top 10. I haven’t had too much time with it, so maybe in the next few weeks or months it will vault up or down a few spots. But as of now, after listening pretty much non stop the last few days to it, .neon shines so brightly that it gets the number 5 spot. The album (which has vocals from Neige, who will make an appearance later on in the list) is a sort of black metal/post metal hybrid that has found favor in the metal world in the last year or so. It’s dense, emotional black metal with significant periods of quiet transition linking up some of the most somber yet harsh blast beats you will ever hear. Plus, look at that cover art. Holy God (black metal pun intended).

4) Rosetta – A Determinism of Morality

Rosetta has been churning out fantastic post metal for years, and A Determinism of Morality is no exception. The band plays in a sub-sub-sub-sub-genre that is dominated by clone bands that just ape the post metal forefathers Isis and Neurosis, and because of this, it’s hard for any other band to separate itself from the heap. Rosetta deserves separation and admiration. They have established themselves as the marquee post metal band, and in a metal world without Isis and a Neurosis that’s less and less active as the years go by, it’s good to see a talented band like Rosetta step into those heavy hitting shoes. A Determinism of Morality is the post metal album of the year.

3) Cloudkicker – Beacons

Cloudkicker is a one man project from Ben Sharp. Sharp has a real job, and Cloudkicker is a hobby for him, so he releases the music for free on his bandcamp page. What makes this hobby different from others, is that this is some of the freshest, djentiest, altogether amazing releases of the year, hobby or not. Cloudkicker is prolific with his releases, as he’s constantly putting out new music because he’s not held back by a label. You can choose to make a donation to him, or you can buy a physical CD/vinyl and, as of a few days ago, a shirt. If this reads like an advertisement, I’m sorry (not really), he deserves it. I only chose Beacons because it’s an LP; this spot on the list is for the Cloudkicker project and body of work in general, with Beacons serving as the flag ship.  This is djent taken to a new level.

2) Alcest- Écailles de Lune

Welcome back Neige, how kind of you to join us. And how kind of you to put out one of the best albums of the year with your shoegaze/post/black metal project. Écailles de Lune is epic. There is no way around it. It’s visceral and it is beautiful and it is diverse. Most of all, it is amazing. Écailles de Lune is a lot like the previously listed .neon, except it is much more majestic. While .neon is a pretty brutal outing with mostly screamed vocals, Alcest is mostly soothing. There are certainly some screamed vocals, but they’re not intense at all and only add to the effect. If .neon is harsh reality, Écailles de Lune is a dream. The lyrics are about a land Neige dreamed of as a child, and all the lyrics come in French. Somehow, every small element makes a contribution to the result; one of the best albums of the year, and one of the best albums to come out of the post/black metal world.

1) Kvelertak- Kvelertak

It’s been a year of black metal hybrids, and a year of surprises. This album is both. When you think of a black metal band from Norway, you automatically have a template in your mind of what it will sound like. Take that template and light it on fire, stomp on it, shred it, anything. Because Kvelertak is a band that is unlike anything you’ve heard. It combines hardcore punk with healthy doses of rock ‘n’ roll with it’s black metal to create easily the most upbeat black metal album this year and probably ever recorded. Kvelertak sounds like it’s fueled less by Satan and burning churches and more by beer and the desire to party. The riffs are all catchy-as-hell, and they all bring something new to the table. The black metal screams, when combined with the thrash-esque shouts of the entire band sets the band into a league of its own. A tour of the United States is demanded.

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Buzz Osborne, Melvins (c) 2010 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

Alright, so call me a schizo if you like, I’m a big boy and I can take it.

It’s been more than a month since I announced an indefinite hiatus here and I’m sure my loyals probably feel a little jerked around. The fact of the matter is I’m very touched so many people have reached out in my absence with encouragement, praise and of course, requests to come back and do coverage. In a month’s time, my followers roster has spiked and the hit counts are still on-par as ever despite the inactivity. It’s all heartwarming, honestly.

As I’ve finished my current novel and continue to shop it around, I am of course starting another novel which will have an even broader focus. The location shooting I’ve done for the next project alone has me giddy beyond words, no pun intended. Writing the first few paragraphs of the tenatively-titled “Reunion” feels like comeuppance.

I’ve joined up with AOL’s Patch.com as a freelancer and continue my affiliations at House of Hair Online and Hails & Horns magazine as well as coverage for a local newspaper. I still work in a full-time capacity in a different industry and my little one continues to grow and I mean grow.

That being said, there’s a place in my heart and mindspace to continue on with The Metal Minute, albeit in a limited capacity. I’ve always tried to keep a level of professionalism here at the Minute which includes a steady flux of posting. I cannot promise the same pace will resume. Likewise, I can only attend to so many bands, though I’m simply flattered to constantly receive correspondence looking for coverage. I’ll serve the industry here as much as my crazy schedule will allow, but in response to so much kindness, let The Metal Minute tick once again.

Keep your dreams flying, boys and girls, they’ll happen eventually if you need it more than you want it. I need it more than I need air.

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