Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Good tunes #2

Here's another edition of tunes what I think are cool. Gonna go off the wall a bit here on a couple.

Nerve End - Venom Willow (Axis 2011)
These guys are a really cool dynamic bunch from Finland. I hear a cool blend of Periphery type djent with some Devin Townsend Band flourishes. Really melodic with grooves. This EP is completely free courtesy of the band themselves. HERE

 Fair to Midland - Amarillo Sleeps On My Pillow (Arrows & Anchors 2011)
Here's an off the wall band. They touch so many various styles (from bluegrass to alternative rock to full on heavy metal ect) all done cohesively and subtle. The stylistic changes are all well written and don't change up just for the sake of being esoteric, it's all molds together well.

Open Hand - Crooked Crown (You and Me 2005)
This is a really cool band that released this masterpiece of an album completely under the radar. Possibly because they were signed to an awful label that was well known to not give a shit. Anyway, really awesome pop rock. Beautiful album art

Marina And the Diamonds - Lies (Electra Heart 2012)

A friend showed me this (girl obviously) but this is some awesome pop music. It's well written and performed. Way better than your average manufactured pop star, this girl has real songs about real stuff and her voice is awesome.

City and Colour - Coming Home (Sometimes 2005)
One man band Canadian. Haunting and beautiful. Enough said.

Any Given Day - Home is Where the Heart Is (My Longest Way Home 2014)
German Metal. I love it. Add it to the sea of awesome German metal bands.

Ellie Goulding - Figure 8
Because I can.

Decapitated - Post(?) Organic - (Organic Hallucinosis 2006)
This is a dense, wall of sound, buzz saw ripping away at steel. Intense and brutal. Polish.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Björn 'speed' Strid

I'd like to take some time to talk about my favorite singer/vocalist. He is currently (and always has been) the vocalist of Helsingborg Sweden band Soilwork (my favorite if I HAD to pick one). As far as metal vocalists go, he's got the range to hit the entire spectrum, he can go as hard and brutal as it comes, while at the same time delivers a soaring, melodic croon (though perhaps not as technically skilled as Christian Älvestam, they both do very similar styles, both come from very prominent melodic death metal bands, and both do guest spots like they were rap artists, they've even both appeared on the same albums just guesting on different songs!). The juxtaposition of heaven and hell in his voice is spectacular and he does it much better than most. While 99% of other metal vocalists sound indistinguishable, Bjorns voice is unique, when you hear it, YOU KNOW that it's him.

Bjorn got his nickname "Speed" because of his love of thrash and death metal (his project Terror 2000 is perhaps a homage to this) but his body of work encompasses a whole lot more, even as far as making a 70's classic rock album, he's also been known to sing Sinatra.

He was a founding member of Soilwork in the late 90's and has been on all 9 of their albums to date. At first, his vocals were 100% harsh only, zero singing until 2001's A Predator's Portrait where he first started to experiment with clean singing. At first his voice wasn't the best but as time went on, it's apparent he worked very hard to get better and on subsequent albums, his singing became the strongest weapon in his arsenal. If you listen to Soilwork's discography linearly you can definitely hear his vocal work pay off, as it gets better album after album.

Now I'm going to show some selections I love that really show off his prowess, and are awesome tunes. Enjoy!

Soilwork - Antidotes in Passing  (The Living Infinite 2013)
I nearly died waiting for this album to come out, and the hype was met. I love this album just as much as I expected to.

I, Legion - Love Is A Battlefield (Beyond Darkness 2012)

Yes, this is a Pat Benatar cover.....

Nuclear Blast All Stars - The Dawn of It All (Out of the Dark 2007)
This was a project where all the artists on the label got together to make a super group album.

Disarmonia Mundi - Blacklight Rush (The Isolation Game 2009)
This is an Italian band Bjorn has done extensive work with, although not an official band member. Fans consider this his 2nd full time band after Soilwork.

Demon Hunter - Collapsing (The World Is a Thorn 2010)
Another "collabo", you can hear his trade mark wail before the choruses.

Terror 2000 - Five Star Prison (Terror For Sale 2005)
This is Bjorn doing his roots. SPEED. As a band, Terror 2000 is all about fun and making light of obvious metal stereotypes. This album features a song titled "Wrath of the Cookie Monster"

Soilwork - Epitome (The Panic Broadcast 2010)
One of my favorites of the band. I can remember the whole month the summer it came out. Making memories with your favorite band as the soundtrack, there's nothing better.

The Night Flight Orchestra - West Ruth Ave. (Internal Affairs 2012)
This is the 70's rock project I mentioned earlier. No metal here, NONE but Bjorn still sounds fucking great. Awesome stuff. Jammed this album on 12 hr car ride. Riding thru Pennsylvania at 4am, with this album playing and my girlfriend next to me. Good times.

Soilwork - This Momentary Bliss (The Living Infinite 2013)
I love this song, love love love it.

So there you have it, there were so so many songs I wanted to share and it was painful to have to make a small selection. I hope you like it!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Good tunes

I'm going to list some songs I think are really neat. I'll include a little description of each. They're all very different from one another so don't let one form your whole opinion.

The Forsaken - Beyond Redemption (2012)
A Swedish death/thrash band that released a couple of albums in the early 00's, then just vanished, everyone thought they were done, however 9 years later, they came back out of nowhere and released a fucking inferno of an album, and this track kicks it off. Beautiful brutality, even if it's technically just more At the Gates worship.

Intervals - Epiphany (2012)
This is a really beautiful instrumental "Djent" tune. If you don't know what Djent is, it's a relatively new sound characterized by weird time signatures and syncopated rhythms, it's hard to explain if you don't know who Periphery or Meshuggah are, just have to listen to check it out.

Ram Zet - Queen (2002)
A song/album/video about schizophrenia with the music to match.  There's so much going on here, metal, violins, angelic female singing, weird electronics. Neat as fuck.

Deftones - Drive (2006)
An awesome cover of an 80's song with Deftones unique atmosphere.

Disbelief - Continue (From this Point) (2005)
A really dense, claustrophobic "melodic" song from a German band who usually specializes in grimy nihilistic sludge.

Textures - Awake (2008)
Last but not least, this really cool, dreamy song from Dutch band Textures.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mr. Sloane

This past month, I've been watching a lot of British TV and being a huge fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I came across this just stumbling about on the net. The first season (series as they're called in the UK) just finished a month or two ago, and while it's rather short (only 6 episodes) it's.fucking.awesome.

It takes place in December 1969 in a town about 20 miles north of London called 'Watford'. Starring Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The Worlds End, Paul) as Jeremy Sloane, you see a lonely man with perpetually bad luck work his way through the Xmas season leading up to New Years 1970. You know he's been having a rough go of things when the first time you see him in Episode 1, he's attempting suicide, however the ceiling can't hold his weight and he crashes to the floor, hears the phone ring and casually accepts an offer from his friends to go to the pub. It's full of dark humor and ridiculous events, but Jeremy is charming throughout and rarely appears to dwell on his comical misfortune.

Recently separated from his wife of 10 years (as well as fired from his job on the same day), you get to follow Mr. Sloane as he tries to put his life back together e.g finding new love, finding steady employment (he's a substitute elementary teacher), dealing with his crude, juvenile friends, and a very annoying albeit kind hearted neighbor. As events happen, you'll notice that his life is living example in Murphy's law, everything that can go wrong, pretty much does, but as he's such a lovable guy, all you do is root for him. He's a character you can associate with, all the stuff he goes through feels so organic and genuine as ridiculous as it gets sometimes. 

With life as he knew it in shambles, you get to see him transform from a rigid, conservative, by the numbers (literally he's an accountant) predictable man, into a free spirited, open minded person whose life is in dire need of a reformat. It's an awesome ride and I hope they do a season 2 because 6 episodes of this just isn't enough. Fucking A....


Thursday, July 10, 2014


I've been a Ricky Gervais fan for years now and not only have I been hearing about this show for awhile now, I've been seeing the man himself post about it all the time on Facebook, so I finally said fuck it, I'm going to check it out and two words......mind blown. I had a little marathon and watched all 12 episodes in the span of 2 days (only far, I want more...) because from the first episode I was hooked. The characters and dialogue had me laughing hysterically and feeling horribly sad at the same time, the show is a total roller coaster. For example, in one episode, within 10 minutes I went thru a range of emotions, laughter because something hilarious happened, anger because there's a total cunt of a character and then sad like "wtf that's some of the most depressing shit ever." It's crazy.

The show takes place in a nursing home in London which is in danger of being shut down (episode 1), it stars Ricky playing a character named "Derek" who is a naive 50 year old volunteer at the home who is nothing but kind and finds complete joy in caring for the residents, as he says "I likes old people. They're kind and they're not going to be around forever, so be nice to them." He's slightly "slow" with a basket full of nervous twitches, a complete animal freak and a heart of gold.

His homeless best friend "Kev" hangs out, drinking beer at the home simply because he has nothing else in his life to be apart of. One of the main sources of comic relief in the show, he always has something crude or sexual to say, though is kind to everyone at the home thus everyone allows him to be a constant figure there. 

You can see how ridiculous Kev is here.

Caretaker Dougie played by Karl Pilkington (An Idiot Abroad, The Moaning of Life, The Ricky Gervais Show) is the handyman, jack of all trades at the home who keeps everything running, including Derek and Kev, as it's revealed they live in his Council Flat (I guess it's called section 8 in the US?). Very cynical, he always has an opinion or comment about what ever is going on at the time. Coming off as stern and rigid, he has a love for the home and it's residents often getting angry when outsiders come in and mess with the harmony of the residents.

Here's Dougie. 

Hannah, the person is charge of it all, is the matriarch of sorts. Well loved by literally everyone at the home, she's the reason it all works. Early to mid 30's, she describes herself as a "midwife for the way out" meaning as opposed to a normal midwife helping with birth, she specializes in helping people on their way out of life. She acts as a big sister/motherly figure of sorts to Derek who shares her passion in caring for the residents. Her complete and utter dedication to the home puts a strain on her social life, as her boyfriend Tom grows increasingly frustrated with her not being able to make time due her to commitments to the residents.

Vicky, A teenager who was caught shoplifting was sent to the home for a community service stint, whom at first is completely appalled with the home and its residents, quickly begins to turn around and share the other characters passion and love for the job. In season 2, Hannah makes her an official employee and the two become best friends and share a sisterly bond. Vicky uplifts the spirits of the women residents by doing their hair, nails and giving them make overs.

The show, while serious, is chock full of off the wall comedy of ridiculous nature. A resident dying or something equally heart wrenching while be followed with alcoholic Kev spilling his beer wrestling with Derek, then proceed to sip it off the carpet, followed by Dougie telling an anecdote about the wacky nature of the two. For every sad moment, there's a hilarious comedy bit.

Gervais was nominated for an Emmy for his role as Derek, and I'd say the accolade is rightfully earned.  It's currently on NetFlix so go check it out, I thought it was fucking great. 10/10

Here's a trailer.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Game Changers #1

Think of all your favorite music, not just casual fly-by-night one off songs you love. I'm talking about music that has changed your life, albums that completely define a point in your life, a sonic scrap book of memories if you will. I call them "game changers", though I also use this term to describe albums that completely changed the flow and pace of whole genres in their wake, but that's for another day.

I'm going to do a post every now and again where I list one of mine because I'm arrogant like that and want to show off my taste! No but I just want to talk about certain albums and where I was in my life and what they meant to me.

Part #1

                                             Mercenary - The Hours That Remain (2006)

This is a band from Ålborg Denmark that plays a dynamic blend of crushing groove, power and melodic death metal. Two types of vocal styles, one being an almost operatic? type of soaring singing in synergy with typical metal vocals (growls, screaming ect), however the hard vocals are very conservative and fit well. Don't be expecting Cannibal Corpse here, it's palatable to non-metal fans.

In the mid 2000's, this band was BIG BUSINESS in the metal underground, but at the time I was arrogant and stubborn to check out anything with the power metal label. A friend of mine kept preaching the gospel, but my foot was on the ground, no way! Well winter 2007/2008 came around and I was dealing with a lot, I had just turned 20, was suffering from the first real heartbreak of my life, and the awful, colorless New England winter certainly wasn't doing anything to improve my mood. I guess through sheer boredom and mind numbing depression, I finally decided I'd bit the bullet and give this album a shot. I needed to give my mind something to digest other than my whirlwind of defeatist internal dialogue. What I found was a melodic, emotional powerhouse of an album. This shit floored me right here, hell track 1 features a guest spot from my favorite metal singer ever! I felt so foolish that I was so ignorant and for no good reason, tried to skip out on this album.

Lyrically the album deals with (well from what I take away from it..) A pending catastrophe, a looming finality. The lyrics touch subjects such as internal struggles, love lost and the like. It's all backed by a soundtrack where the melodies and music can be as woeful as the topics, or adversely can portray the existential crises as hopeful and uplifting. It really goes both ways depending on how you feel at the time of listening. For me, as mentioned earlier it was the former of course, but any album that can portray anger, sorrow and hope at the same time is pretty special.

The soundtrack to one of the gloomiest, depressing winters of my life. 7 years later, it's a regular listen, though I don't necessarily associate with the dread of the period. It's just good tunes man, good tunes.

                                                          Track 1 - Redefine Me

                                                     Track 2 - Year of the Plague


                                                      Track 5 - Lost Reality


                                                    Track 6 - Soul Decision


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Depressing Comics

Here's a very popular web comic called 'Cyanide & Happiness', simple and crudely drawn but with a very dark sense of humor. Everything from racism, rape jokes, abortion jokes, anti-religion, ect It's all very silly and not meant to be taken 100% seriously despite the extreme nature of many of the jokes.

Once a year, they do a week long segment called "Depressing Comics" where the same dark subject matter is there, just there's no obvious punchline. Some of them are downright sad, hence the title, however taken in context with the rest of the comics, there IS humor to be found albeit you'll probably feel really awful for chuckling at some of these.

I'll show you a couple that made me feel some kind of way.
Be warned, some of these are completely FUCKED.

There you have it.