Sunday, May 16, 2010

RIP Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)


I'm really dumbstruck by this news. I don't have much to say except that this is the greatest loss the heavy metal community has ever experienced. Dio was a brilliant musician who defined heavy metal vocals during the genesis of the genre. His contributions to heavy metal cannot be understated. The man stayed active and, in the past few years, more relevant than many of his contemporaries with his reunion with Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell. Until he was diagnosed with stomach cancer not even 6 months ago he was fully committed to touring and making music with Heaven and Hell. Everyone should put on a Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow or Heaven and Hell record today. Celebrate his prolific career by enjoying the music he made for us all. Rest in peace Ronnie Dio.

See his official website for a message from his wife, Wendy Dio.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Shredder Friday Returns!

So, I spent the first half of my spring break rocking out pretty hard to Andrew WK and Megadeth. The rest of the week, however, was spent working my ass off moving my mother's office. Too exhausted from concert attendance and heavy lifting, I couldn't get a Shredder Friday post up last week. Let me make it up to you with this offering.

This is Tiago Della Vega setting a Guinness book world record for the fastest guitar playing. Or maybe its just the fastest anyone has ever played Flight of the Bumblebee? I guess that piece is just the standard for showing how fast you can play. He gets up to 320 BPM. I'll let you calculate how many Hz he's playing at. The actual guitar playing starts at 3:00.



This next video is Greg Howe playing the Beat It solo (originally record by Eddie Van Halen) on the Michael Jackson HIStory tour back in the mid 90's.



I just stumbled across this searching for Greg Howe videos. Here is the worst promo video I've ever seen (worse than this). Weird commercials for albums are always terrible, but this one is particularly bad. Just check it out.



And check out this weird video of Eddie Van Halen playing an instrumental version of Panama with David Letterman's band. Other than seeing some cool playing by Eddie, it's all about Paul Shaffer getting really silly on the organ.



That's all for this installment. Have a fun weekend, and make sure to figure out that fingering for the Phrygian mode... so tricky.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Krallice

Reading through my posts on this blog, it is fair to say I can be a man of extremes when it comes to music. Sometimes when people ask what kind of music I enjoy, I tell them, "Extremely fast music and extremely slow music." With a few exceptions, this is the truth. It's like taking uppers and downers all day to stay even.

But what about the elevated, circular meeting point of "fast" and "slow"? In certain circumstances a strange equilibrium can be reached. A sustained tone and a repeated tone can create a similar effect. Both are a single note held for a period of time. The differences, while certainly subtle, are definitely important. The sustained tone allows for feedback potential as well as growth and varying amplitudes of the overtone series, but the rapidly repeated note has some different properties.

A sonic event repeated more than 20 times a second (Hz) is interpreted by the human ear not as rhythmic repetition but as a tone. 20Hz would be the lowest tone audible to human beings. The event (i.e. guitar pluck, snare hit, etc.) functions like a sound wave when repeated fast enough. Infrasonic waves lie below 20Hz, therefore inaudible to humans. When laced into music, or occurring in the environment, infrasound has been known to inspire fear, anxiety and even supernatural experiences in listeners.

So what the fuck does this have to do with Krallice?

If the tempo of a Krallice song is 130 bpm, and Mick Barr is playing his usual 16th note strums, that means he is playing a note at roughly 8.7Hz. And so it goes for every instrument in the band. Underpinning the slow harmonic movement of their songs, Krallice is creating infrasonic drones that are not directly perceivable. Hidden behind layers of guitars, blast beats and screaming are frequencies linked to a primitive instinct; the same instinct that sends animals running for safety soon before an earthquake or tidal wave.

This drone combines with thick reverb to create an uncomfortable yet very attractive atmosphere. The layered entrances and exits of ambient screams and lead guitar create a sensation I can only compare to the auditory hallucinations I have experienced as a result of food and sleep deprivation. Before the vocal line begins, as the lead line exits the song, I can still anticipate it so clearly in my mind that I question whether I am actually experiencing it. Listening to Krallice in the right frame of mind can melt away the barriers of perception and show you realities of music and sound you may not have ever conceptualized before.

Check out Krallice on their myspace. Get ahold of their new album, Dimensional Bleedthrough (perfect title), and catch them on their Spring/Summer tour with Ludicra. I'll be seeing them when they come through Baltimore on April 20th.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Rust in Peace Anniversary Show Washington, DC 3/15/2010



I almost never go into DC anymore, but oddly enough I found myself there three of the last four days. I was there Friday to go to a morning show with Andrew WK playing at 8am, Saturday for some non-metal shit, and Monday to see a more or less reunited Megadeth play their greatest album front to back. It was pretty much everything I could have hoped for. If this tour isn't already sold out in your town, get some fucking tickets. Even if it is, just go try and buy some from a scalper, because it's more than worth it.

I was in a strange situation at this show. I bought my tickets before any of my friends, but the show sold out before they could get theirs. So I flew solo on this one. I made it to the 930 Club right before doors opened. When I got in I made my way right to the front where I would stay the entire show. The front is always a mixed bag of getting a great view of the bands, getting kicked in the head by crowd surfers, having the best chance of catching drum sticks/picks, and being mercilessly crushed into other human beings. Some notable moments: the dude jumping behind me and grinding his crotch into my ass, an idiotic old timer talking about how Ozzy's vocals are "right on the money" live, and another idiotic old timer making the same stupid jokes about my hair the whole show in between saying "Wow!" at any random event on stage. Despite all this, standing upfront allowed me to get some usable pictures of the bands. So, let's talk about the opener...

EXODUS


Exodus started their set to the most lethargic crowd I've ever seen at a metal show. I know it was Monday night, but fuck, everyone was just standing around not even headbanging (I was doing my best, but I didn't have much room). After the third song or so, singer Rob Dukes read everyone the riot act and things started to liven up. He even initiated a pretty rad wall of death. I really enjoyed Dukes as a singer. I saw Exodus open for Megadeth in 2004 on the System Has Failed tour, and he was MUCH better than the joker they had singing for them back then. Plus he's got a huge gnarly scar on his cheek. One thing I did miss from the 2004 show was the absence of Rick Hunolt on guitar, but Gary Holt held down the fort:



TESTAMENT

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of Testament because this security dude was standing right in front of me the whole time. Before the show I read all this shit talk online about how founding member Alex Skolnick wasn't going to be on the tour. I can understand a die hard Testament fan's grief, but for a casual fan I was pretty pumped to see Glenn Drover (ex-King Diamond, ex-Megadeth) rip some sweet solos and bust out some awesome harmonies with Eric Peterson. Chuck Billy was lookin pretty slim up there, at least compared to the photo I posted before. His vocals were pretty awesome as well. And I didn't even realize at first that Paul motherfucking Bostaph was on drums. He's a total animal, and I'm glad I got to see him live. It really just seems like the whole band is having an awesome time. And if you didn't know yet, Testament is playing their debut album The Legacy in its entirety on this tour.

And now, of course...

MEGADETH


The biggest story of this tour is the return of David Ellefson on bass guitar. To contradict what I said above, the show was actually more than I hoped for. When I bought my ticket Ellefson hadn't rejoined the band yet. I was comfortable paying $46.50 to see Dave Mustaine playing Rust in Peace with some hired hands (more or less). Now I was seeing Megadeth for real again (like on the World Needs A Hero tour in 2001), since Mustaine and Ellefson were the only mainstays in the revolving line-up of the band until the breakup of 2002. So, everyone in the club had an especially nice warm feeling in their hearts watching the set.

Mustaine had some weird technical issues at the beginning of the set and changed his guitar like three times. At least everyone got to see all his nice guitars? Highlights from the Rust in Peace set are definitely Poison Was The Cure, Five Magics, and Take No Prisoners, and there was only one song from the new record. As far as the band, Chris Broderick is a total BEAST. The dude played the solos almost verbatim from the records. That's quite a feat, considering that their set list spans four guitar players. The fact that he's the most jacked member they've ever had only adds to his radicality. Of course, David Ellefson was great, and he had four nice moments in the set with just him and the crowd. With the bass intros to Poison, Peace Sells, Trust, and Dawn Patrol, everyone got a good dose of the only true Megadeth bassist. Lastly, Mustaine was Mustaine. His only real "banter" suggested that if he were to ever meet a "terrorist," he would force him to suck his dick and then kill him. That might seem pretty gnarly, but imagine it said in the least gnarly way possible. Bet let me assure you, it was certainly no dealbreaker. The Megadeth set was what I came for, and it was as good as I could ever ask for.

In all honesty, the shows on this tour are probably the best shows any of these bands have played since at least the early 90's. If you are into 80's thrash metal, this is your dream tour (until the American Carnage tour happens). Seriously though, there are NO SLOW SONGS played on this tour. Imagine going to see a heavy metal band and actually getting the shit kicked out of you by some killer thrash?! Seems like a no brainer, but sometimes it gets past some of these so-called "metal musicians."

GET YOUR ASS TO THE RUST IN PEACE ANNIVERSARY TOUR! That's all I got to say.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shredder Friday! Spring Break Edition!!

Oh yeah! Its that time of year when you take your midterms, blow off any homework your professors were stupid enough to assign you and PARTYLIKEYOUAINTGOTSCHOOLTOMORROW!

I'll be spending my break going to the Megadeth RIP tour, maybe meeting the band, working on my audition tape for Dragonforce, and generally chillin real hard. So check out some killer shredders below:

First its Paul Gilbert again playing Racer X's Scarified with his band. Playing in a space suit is one of the cooler ways to show people what a rad dude you are.



This is an old favorite of mine. I'm really not sure if this is a girl or a boy (I'm leaning toward boy), but this person has a ton of video covers. This one is Alcatrazz - Jet to Jet. My favorite part is how many views he has. Apparently these videos are ranked ridiculously high on Japanese youtube.



I love old videos of shredders chillin in their home studios wearing some weird outfit while playing something awesome on guitar. In this one, TJ Helmerich does some pretty mellow double handed tapping. The backing track is pretty hilarious too.



And to finish up this Friday, the great Billy Sheehan:



Well, everyone have a great spring break whenever it is!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Barn Burner - Bangers


I heard of this band from my friend Sammy, who heard about it from a blogger, who heard it from his neighbor, who, in turn, named his bong "Sub-Zero." Let's just say it came highly recommended.

Let's start with the cover of this record. It's got it all. A gnarly skelly holding an equally gnarly walking stick and goblet. A Dean-esque guitar stands on the right wall behind a pretty sweet dog. And, of course, there's a skateboard and empty pizza box. This is like the scene in Conan where he falls into the Tomb of Crom and finds his sword among the ancient remains of a throneroom ...but like, if it were a Bill and Ted movie instead.


The album itself succeeds as a metal/hardcore crossover that isn't quite as rowdy and offensive as S.O.D., and certainly can't be classified as "metalcore." If I had to pick a band from either genre, I'd say Diamond Head/Black Flag is the best combo I can think of. The opening track, Holy Smokes, is a total Diamond Head riff-fest, even though Iron Maiden kind of used the song title already. Runnin' Reds best shows the similarity to Rollins-era Black Flag. The posi chorus is the icing on the cake, though. And it doesn't hurt that singer Kevin Keegan sounds a ton like Rollins on most of Bangers.

On first listen Bangers just seems like an above average stoner hard rock/metal album. But upon closer inspection, one finds that the record has a lot to offer, thankfully straying from the well trodden path of most "doom/stoner" music.

I would recommend this to fans of old school hardcore, NWOBHM, Early Man, and even early Wires on Fire (if anyone even knows about them...).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Another Shredder Friday!

Michael Angelo Batio gives YOU the keys to the Lamborghini in the classic instructional video Speed Kills.


In this studio video, Paul Gilbert busts out the opening craziness from his Get Out of My Yard album:


And finally, Yngwie drunkenly stumbles through a complete joke of an instructional video:



Have a great weekend, and practice your scales!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baltimore area show to check out.


If you're anywhere near the Baltimore area, come out to the Odyssey, Former Theives and Cut Short show on March 3rd at the Hexagon. It's gonna be a rad one.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Coheed and Cambria: New Record due in April




I kind of have these underdog bands that I always want to pull through. Usually they're a misunderstood or mislabeled band. Or a band who was indie but got big and now "hip" music people don't pay attention to them, usually resulting in a weird and stupid fanbase. Coheed and Cambria fits the bill on almost all accounts. Metal is only one of the genres that they've been thrust into. Emo, pop punk, progressive rock; some of them more correct than others, but none tell the whole story. The truth is, Coheed has been truly original and ingenious for most of their career. It took me a while, but the style introduced in Second Stage Turbine Blade (2002) grew on me tremendously and evolved smoothly to their third album, Good Apollo I (2005). A strange combination of influences came together to create three perfect records. Unfortunately, No World for Tomorrow (2007) strayed from the path set forth in the previous albums. It was much more commercial and produced, which created a cut and dry, prepackaged feel to the band. Strong elements of what made their style so appealing are definitely present, but stock choruses and uninspired "proggy" sections kill the record. This video pretty much sums up how weird things got after that record came out.

BUT! Coheed and Cambria have a new record coming out on April 13th that I really hope will pull things together for them. Year of the Black Rainbow is the title. It will be a prequel to the Amory Wars saga that was completed in No World for Tomorrow. The one song they've released so far, the Broken, is promising. That is to say, not absolutely amazing, but its in no way offensive. I will definitely be giving this record a chance.

And just to keep everything in perspective:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shredder Friday

Here are a few shred videos to start out your weekend right.

Here's Chris Impellitteri playing his Screaming Symphony. Chris is most known for his self titled band Impellitteri, who featured, among others, the great Graham Bonnet on vocals.



Next up is a fellow I just found out about not too long ago. His name is Guthrie Govan. This is the song Fives off his album Erotic Cakes.

Of note: the weirdo face he makes as he hits the first chord.



Our last video of the day is an absolute classic. This is Jason Becker covering Black Star at his 1986 high school talent show. I love this video because he obviously doesn't give a fuck about the school function. He's just there to play his guitar loud and scare the norms. He fucks around and screws up, but whatever. This is one of the things that makes him my favorite guitar player of all time.



That's it for today. Have a good weekend and listen to metal.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pyramids - Through the Hourglass (2007)


Pyramids is a screamo/hardcore band from Philadelphia, and as far as I can tell, 2007's Through the Hourglass is their latest full length. As far as mood altering and thought provoking music, Hourglass is one of the strongest albums I have ever heard.

I put it on and was slowly pulled into a confused and unsettled world. Listening to Pyramids brings me back to the crushingly desperate period of my life in which all ideas of past, present, future, self, and reality began to fade into a bleak vagueness... in which all daily happenings seemed unreal. The more I tried to define them, the more my life and self became meaningless. I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that I will never truly know another and I will never truly know myself, just as I will never truly grasp the past or future. If you allow it to, Pyramids confronts you with emotions from which few can truly gain catharsis. The lyrics, while rarely decipherable, chisel away at your superficial exterior, leaving you as bare and vulnerable as vocalist Benn Roe as he shrieks and howls through the record. Helplessness and dull terror pass into serene comfort and back again with the knowledge that "there are no mistakes in time." This album puts me in a state I haven't felt so strongly since I listened to George Crumb's Black Angels for the first time.

Buy this album on CD from Protagonist Music or get it on tape from Where's that Deerhead Cassettes, and catch them at one of their shows around the mid-Atlantic. I'll be seeing them in April at the Charm City Art Space in Baltimore.

Pyramids web presence:
http://www.myspace.com/papyramids

Friday, January 29, 2010

NO GANG COLORS - THIS IS YOUR GOD


NO GANG COLORS, with your friend and mine Joseph from Geek Down, just released their eleven and a half minutes of perfection, and the album is blowing my ass out. Mellow enough to put on repeat and be entranced by, but aggressive enough to make you want to break windows. This is the kind of music I listen to late at night playing video games, sitting right against the screen with headphones on, killing nazis or aliens or whatever gets the fuck in front of me, riding my bike down hills as fast as possible, or while drinking Drank in the dark with my friends.

Available for free HERE

It is your God.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It took them 20 years to give us what we really want?


Listen, I know I just wrote that terrible review of Endgame, and pretty much new Megadeth in general, but this is nuts. Megadeth will be playing Rust in Peace in its entirety on their next tour with Testament and Exodus. That means Take No Prisoners, Polaris, and my favorite Megadeth song, Poison Was The Cure. And to my knowledge, Poison has never been played live. No matter how much the new material sucks, I will gladly sit through a handful of shitty songs to hear one of my favorite metal albums of all time played live.

Oddly enough Testament will be playing their debut album The Legacy in its entirety as well. I don't know who had the idea first, but I hope it was Chuck Billy. Maybe then he can make up for being an ugly(er) version of Tom Araya.


Tom Araya
Chuck Billy

This was pretty much the only thing that could get me out to a Megadeth show after the tour with Slayer was "postponed." Hopefully Dave won't indian-give this one and leave out some songs. Check out the dates here. If the DC show is good enough, I might go to the Baltimore show the next night. Of course, I hope the tickets aren't 30+ dollars. I wouldn't put it past Dave to milk this shit for all its worth.