DIY – How to make Black Metal

Now go play me some Black Metal

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Happy Holidays

We’ll be back after the holidays.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Stay Wicked, Stay Loud

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GIR 2010 schedule and tickets

It’s the time of the year that the Delhi metalheads wait for eagerly through the year for a decent open air rock show. It’s such a shame that such shows are not regular. Now that I think of it, if you happen to be a tee-to-taller and have completed your studies, there is not one place to go and enjoy a live band except for the GIR.

As was in the case of the previous GIRs, Bangalore gets the best bands to perform in the two day event Meshuggah on 18th and Purified in Blood, Tesseract & Enslaved on 19 December on Palace Grounds.

Delhi’s schedule is just the opposite of that of Bangalore’s. Purified in Blood, Tesseract & Enslaved on the 18th and Meshuggah on 19th December. I have a couple of Undying Inc guys on my Facebook list. They seem to be pretty psyched up about opening for Meshuggah and rightly so! Apart from the shows in Hansdhwani Open Air, there is also a series of GIR club gig in the NCR region.

Kolkatta is a single day event (17th Dec) headlining Purified in Blood in Nicco Park.

Pune is the new favourite of the LOUD fraternity – evident from the just concluded NH7 fest. The GIR 2010 here is a single day event but an incredible line up of bands – Tesseract, Enslaved AND Meshuggah!

You can buy your tickets online at Kyazoonga or look for the list of retail outlets in your city.

Stay Loud!

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10 Essential Death Metal albums

It is quite a common occurrence among “Non Metal heads” to invariably use the term “Death Metal” to refer to all sorts of metal they find repulsive. Now for those of you who think metal is simply loud rock music, then death metal will then be the logical end of metal music!

All death metal albums are often like runaway trains, with free form song structures and chaotic solos flying everywhere. Vocals are throat-ripping growls. Guitars are tuned so low beyond the convention that they literally roar. Drums are so fast they sound like blenders in heat. The outcome is ugly, and gloriously so. If you want to see an athletic push himself to the limit, why hold back a musician?

“Death Metal is like spicy food. After one discovers spicy food, normal food is bland. After one discovers death metal, other rock music seems weak, easy and limp.”

If this has inspired you to explore the outward bounds of musicality and dexterity, check out these 10 essential death metal albums. The albums are merely arranged in a chronological order and do not imply their level of “greatness”.

Slayer – Reign in Blood [1986]

Slayer - Reign in Blood

The 30 odd minutes of the album are one of death metal’s finest hour. The producer of the band Rick Rubin reportedly had to fight back tears after the Slayer quartet ripped through the album set. Popular music magazine “Kerrang!” termed it at “the heaviest album of all times.” Down-tuned rhythms, infectious guitar licks, graphically violent lyrics and grisly artwork – the album has it all to make for a perfect stepping stone to the world of death metal music.

Death – Leprosy [1988]

Death - Leprosy

American guitarist and vocalist Chuck Schuldiner is considered as the “father of death metal”. The debut album of his band Death entitled Scream Bloody Gore is described as “death metal’s first archetypal document”. However, it was their second offering Leprosy that has the sign of ultra technicality that the band is known for. Listen to the viscous guitar work and vocals of Chuck Schuldiner and spirited drums of Richard Christy and you will understand why Norwegian black metal bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone still swear allegiance to Death.

Obituary – Slowly We Rot [1989]

Obituary - Slowly We Rot

Slowly We Rot is the ugliest death metal album ever. This was the first album of the pioneer death metal band Obituary done on a budget of mere hundreds of dollars. The album art itself looks like it was taken from a note book of a bored collage kid. John Tardy’s vocals were a mix of snarling lion and a human retching. Added to it are the ferocious primitive drumming and sludgy grooves and you have a sound so uniquely askew that it still sounds fresh today.

Deicide – Deicide [1990]

Deicide - Deicide

Deicide literally means “the killing of a God”. The band from Florida, US, did quite a few antics to set themselves apart from similar act in that area like Morbid Angel and Death including singer/bassist Glen Benton burning an inverted cross in his forehead. Their inclusion in this list has nothing to do with that. Their debut album is in the list for the sole reason – the music is much more engaging. The six-stringed duel between the two Hoffman brothers; machine guns double bass drumming by Steve Asheim – all of it create the perfect backdrop for vocalist Benton to growl, screech and howl.

Suffocation – Effigy of the Forgotten [1991]

Suffocation - Effigy of the Forgotten

This album by the band Suffocation is said to have laid roots of an entirely new sub-genre “Brutal Heavy Metal”. A low vocal delivery with highly technical power riffs and extremely fast tremolo picking on the guitar is a step away from the traditional melodic sense. Drummer Mike Smith’s beats are not just soft and fast taps like others but sledge hammer hits. Add to it an over-the-top artwork by metal artist Dan Seagrave – and you have an all time classic.

Fear Factory – Soul of a New Machine [1992]

Fear Factory - Soul of a New Machine

Another debut album enters the list with Soul of a New Machine by Los Angeles death metal band Fear Factory. The album was a breakthrough in terms of vocal delivery. Vocalist Bell used for the first time, the scream-sing vocal style that many bands use now. The entire genre of metalcore would not exist without this album. Unfortunately, Fear Factory abandoned this sound on subsequent releases but nothing changes the fact that without Soul of a New Machine, metal wouldn’t be what it is today.

Carcass – Heartwork [1994]

Carcass - Heartwork

Carcass began as a grindcore band, when they were formed in 1985 in England. By the time they released their fourth studio album Heartwork, the band’s sound have gradually became more melodic and complex, shading into death metal. The album had everything. Vocalist Jeff Walker was in fine form, the lyrics had a newly mature sense of abstraction, huge riffs, fluid leads, and crisp staccato harmonies. It is very sad that bands like this gets disbanded due to personal differences. Guitarist Amott went on to form melodic death metal act Arch Enemy. Bands like Arsis have carried forward the musical journey started by Heartwork.

Morbid Angel – Domination [1995]

Morbid Angel - Domination

Morbid Angel is one of the few pioneers that took death metal away from its roots in thrash metal. The album included in this list is ‘D’ for Domination which have followed an alphabetic theme of Morbid Angel’s albums starting with their debut album Altars of Madness. The album has everything loveable about Morbid Angel – from brutality of its earlier days to abstract lyrics and catchy songwriting of now. All in all, the album is full of stuff that has inspired other bands like Nile, Behemoth, and Hate Eternal.

At the Gates – Slaughter of the Soul [1995]

At the Gates - Slaughter of the Soul

Of all bands in the Swedish metal scene, At the Gates is the most popular and has been in existence since the inception of Swedes Metal. Their album Slaughter of the Soul was released in the mid 90’s amidst the stagnation of metal acts in US and England. The unique sound was what the global audience of metal lovers was waiting for. The album is considered to be one of the breakthrough albums in the history of metalcore and the heavy metal genre as a whole. The American metalcore has basically taken this album and copied it a thousand times over! Thankfully, Slaughter of the Soul still held back its own.

Nile – In Their Darkened Shrines [2002]

Nile - In Their Darkened Shrines

Nile is among the very few bands that have successfully stuck to their theme since their inception. The band’s song writer Karl Sabdler who also doubles up as vocalist cum guitarist has a great fascination for Egyptology and other Middle Eastern cultures. This shows in all their lyrics across various albums. In Their Darkened Shrines is their third offering. The album is nothing less of a musical masterpiece with elaborate arrangement, skillful guitar play and abstract lyrics. So much so, if the Pharaoh of Egypt had lived today, he sure would have selected his national anthem from the album In Their Darkened Shrines.

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10 Rock n Roll moments

We live in a world where everybody is seeking their fifteen minutes of fame. Celebrities are worshipped; their public outbursts and tongue in cheek comments makes into breaking news of the day and long hours of weekend discussions. Every now and then, we come across news of who’s who in the music industry creating some controversy or the other. Many of them are mere gimmicks pulled off by wannabes to draw public attention. While there are few moments that have made even devote cynics stand up and notice.
We have tried to single out 10 such incidents that shocked not only the music fraternity, but the world at large.

Jim Morrison lets the snake out!

Jim Morrison was one of the most charismatic and influential frontmen in rock music history. His band members described him as a man who lived all his life on the edge. Controversy was his middle name. The man was accused of sparking riots when he tried to instigate the crowd against the police while on the stage.

However, the most talked about controversy was the case of ‘indecent exposure’ in 1969. While performing in The Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, Jim Morrison unzipped his pants in full view of the audience. A warrant was issued against him by the authorities while his band members defended him as being unhappy with the audience who came only to see his stage antics and not enjoy the music.

Rage against award decision

Pop artist have long complained about their losing awards to less deserving colleagues. Of late, a few have come up with interesting ways to get their point across. However, no one expected what happened during the 2000 MTV Video Music award.

Tim Commerford of Rage Against Machine was deeply aghast when his band lose out to Limp Bizkit for the title of Best Rock Video. So much so, that the bassist climbed a piece of set scaffolding and refused to come down to protest against the verdict.

Ozzy Osbourne bit more than he could chew

Ozzy Osbourne – the Black Sabbath frontman is worshipped world over as the Godfather of Heavy Metal. The man is known for his stage antics – which in a way – was responsible for propelling Black Sabbath into a population deeply in love with The Beatles.

“Let the madness begin” – this is how every Ozzy Osbourne concert is set in motion. Scene was no different while the band was performing in Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines in January, 1982. No one anticipated that Ozzy would bite off more than he could handle. The entire crowd watched in awe and disgust, mostly the latter, as he chomped a dead bat thrown at him. So much so, a week later, Ozzy collapsed onstage from the effects of rabies shots he’d been taking since the Big Bite.

Blood on the stage

Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as “Diamond” Darrell or “Dimebag” Darrell was the lead guitarist and founding member of the heavy metal band Pentera and Damage Plan. A regular entity in almost all ‘Top 10 metal guitarist’ list, Abbott earned the title of one of the most influential stylists in modern metal.

On December 8, 2004, Abbot was shot onstage at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio while playing with his band Damage Plan. The shooter shot Abbott thrice in the head which killed him instantly. The killer was a former US Marine whose paranoid schizophrenia caused delusions that the band (Pentera) could read his mind, and that they were “stealing” his thoughts and laughing at him.

Pope don’t preach

When Grammy award winner singer Sinead O’ Connor appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night, no one had imagined her to protest over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the way she did. While singing Bob Marley’s ‘War’, she changed the lyrics from ‘racism’ to ‘child abuse’ and tore the picture of Pope John Paul II while singing the word ‘evil’.

The incident effectively destroyed her career, at least as far as topping the charts, but Sinead has persevered and remains a powerful voice in rock and folk music today.

Kanye Beats the Bush

Everyone knew that Grammy award winning American rapper Kanye West never liked President Bush. Demonstrating his views against George W. Bush, in a 2006 live orchestral performance of “All Falls Down”, West replaced “the White man gets paid off of all of that” with “George Bush gets paid off of all of that”

But nothing beats the live telecast of a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief, when he deviated from the script and told the audience, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Mike Meyers – Kanye’s screen partner during that nationally-televised farce, almost had a heart attack.

End of a ‘Thug life’

Late American rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur holds the Guinness Book of World Record for highest selling rap artist. Throughout his life, Tupac was involved in long legal battles with the administration. Sexual assault, shooting off-duty police officers, involvement in violent East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry – these are only a few of the cases against Tupac. The creatively talented rapper was shot down on September, 1996 by unknown gunman. Though it was the second attempt on his life, the hip hop fraternity all over the world grieved at his untimely demise.

State University of New York English professor Mark Anthony Neal indicated in his writings that the death of Shakur has left a “leadership void amongst hip-hop artists”. It is being said that after Tupac was cremated, some of his ashes was mixed with Marijuana and smoked by the members of his rap group ‘Outlawz’.

The Nipplegate Incident

The Super Bowl 2004 halftime show gave millions of television viewer in the United States something to talk about for the year and remember the rest of their lives. During the show, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson were performing a medley of their songs, when Justin reached his final line of “Rock Your Body”, “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song”, he did it for real! Justin pulled off Ms. Jackson’s costume revealing her right breast, much to the horror of the broadcasters.

The incident led to much media controversies and headlines. The Federal Communications Commission received more than half a million complaints against the incident and immediately slapped a fine of $550,000 on CBS.

Our Lord, Michael Jackson?

The BRIT Awards are equivalent to the Grammy’s in UK. In 1996, Michael Jackson was performing his “Earth Song”. In that over the top performance, the King of Pop portrayed himself as a Christ like figure surrounded by children, something which didn’t go down well with Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of Britpop band, Pulp.

The singer jumped on stage and waggled his bum in protest at Michael Jackson’s performance. The after effects – Cocker was arrested and it was claimed that he had assaulted Jackson’s child dancers – but he was released without charge and sales of Pulp’s Different Class album soared.

An ‘angry’ Queen of the Stone Age
During the Rock in Rio 2001 show, bassist Nick Oliveri of the band Queen of the Stone Age was arrested for going up to the stage naked, with only a bass guitar. This was nothing compared to what Jose Homme did in Norwegian Wood Festival in Oslo this year. The lead singer – suffering from fever during the show lost his cool when someone threw a shoe at him.

Not willing to take any nonsense from a rowdy festival fan, the sickly lead singer started to abuse the alleged culprit with liberal use of words that were offensive and at some point – unimaginable, especially when you are in front of 40,000 screaming fans. Many are disgusted by this verbal outbreak while others sympathized with the singer who was working hard despite being under the weather.

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Top 10 Movies on Music

Ok, lets get over with the cliche part of opening the countdown with something like music is an essential part of any movie director’s armory and that it provides an aural canvas that enhances and underlines the visual effects on-screen. To be completely honest, this seemed to be the easiest thing to do. As a (ever) armature musician and a complete movie buff, there is nothing more entertaining for me than to sit down in a theater, watch a film based on music – feature and documentaries. (…and when you’re out of ideas, you make a top 10 list of it)

There were many that are based on music just like those on sports or ghosts or anything else one can think of. Not all of them shared the same fate; most of them disappeared while some of them stood out. And then there were some. We have hand picked the Top 10 among those movies based on music of all genres. Invariably, there will be a few movies left out due to limited position while some films like “Detroit Rock City” is left out intentionally to get back on KISS for selling out in the worst possible way – being the first and till date only metal band to have released a disco album!

10. Dig (2004)

This documentary by Ondi Timoner is a compilation of seven years worth of footage following the development of careers of two bands – The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Despite being termed as “a series of punch-ups and mishaps taken out of context, and at worse bold faced lies and misrepresentation of fact” by Brian Jonestown Massacre front man Anton Newcombe, the documentary won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

The film revolves around the rise of the front men of the two bands, their friendship, their coming together to stage a revolution in the profit-driven music industry as well as their bitter rivalry that leads to arrests and even death threats. Anton may not like his portrayal as someone who missed many opportunities due to drug use and because of differences with the record label but the film won accolades from both fans and critics alike and thus secured a spot on our list.

9. Amadeus (1984)

I am not a very big fan of opera (at least not until the part on Richard Wagner on Metal documentary) Despite my complete ignorance, I managed to learn two names – Mozart and Beethoven. Number nine on the list is a feature film made on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

I prefer watching a film that entertains, educates, or has artistic value. This 1984 classic by director Milos Forman has it all. The film is narrated in flashback with the confession of glorified Viennese court composer Antonio Salieri who was responsible for the death of Mozart. The film follows the trials and tribulations of Mozart’s life in Vienna – the city of musicians. The film is a very apt portrayal of Mozart’s unpredictable genius, his adult work and his sad demise.

The movie has won eight Oscars and many other awards to validate every good thing written about it here and everywhere else.

8. A Hard Days Night (1964)

Making a comedy film starring the Beatles at the height of their popularity is what now called is a “sell out” idea. But this movie inspired a million people (including my Dad) & even after four long decades, it continues to awe. Time magazine has rated it as one of the all time great 100 films. Without this movie, we would not have any day-in-the-life of rock stars films.

The film gives us a hilarious sneak peek into the busy life as a Beatle member which according to them is “a room and a car and a room and a car and a room and car” affair. The film successfully captures the Beatlemania among crying teenage girls at the sight of the four handsome young band members. A Hard Day’s Night was followed by another popular film – Help! If we were doing a top 25 countdown, then maybe we’d have included it too. As of now, A Hard Day’s Night should be enough to please all the Beatles fans out there.

7. Ray (2004)

Ray is based on the life and career of the legendary popular music pianist, Ray Charles. His contributions towards race music (or Rhythm and Blues as they are called now) are immense. “Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz” record is one of the all time classics that can get anyone to listen to it, over and over again.My personal favourite – “Hit the Road Jack”.

Jaime Foxx portrayed the maestro’s life’s struggle as a blind kid growing up in the South. The movie follows the life of Ray Charles, his rise from a world of racism and prejudice against the blinds to American popular music center-stage, his weakness for women and a terrible heroin addiction and ultimately his triumph over his personal demons. The most striking feature of the movie is that it never tries to sugar coat the harsh realities of the geniuses’ life – the truth with all its stickiness.
The movie tagline sums it all.

“The extraordinary life story of Ray Charles. A man who fought harder and went farther than anyone thought possible.”

6. The Wall (1982)

What I like most about the band Pink Floyd is that all its albums follow a certain theme and by the end of the album they drive home their point of view. Pink Floyd is one of the very few acts that do not believe in taking out a Greatest Hits compilation to make a quick buck. Instead, every album of Pink Floyd is an epic in its own rights.

The Wall is more like a video to the entire audio album with the same name. Though the film has a linier story of a rock singer “Pink” who lost his father in WWII and grew up under his over protective mother. The film follows his physical and mental development and how he made a wall around himself slowly and ultimately breaking it down.

The film is rich in symbolic imagery and is highly metaphorical – exactly like the music of Pink Floyd. If you are a psychedelic fan, I guess you must already have seen it, If not, shoot yourself!

5. School of Rock (2003)

Rock star Dewey Finn (played by Jack Black) is kicked out of his band No Vacancy. With surmounting pressure to pay his rent, Dewey fakes his way into a prestigious elementary school as a fourth grade substitute teacher to earn some quick money.

There he meet kids with real talent to Kick some Ass. What follows is a healthy mix of Rock n Roll philosophies and typical Jack Black ripper. He finally forms a band named the School of Rock to participate and win the “Battle of Bands.”

Though they ultimately lose the competition to a sell out band No Vacancy, the movie manages to capture the spirit of old school Rock and Roll, which was all about standing against the Man until it was spoilt with a thing called MTV.

4. Almost Famous (2000)

Another mainstream Hollywood movie to have made it to the list is the semi autobiographical account of a teenage journalist writing for the Rolling Stones magazine. Cameron Crowe – the director of the film Almost Famous himself was a teenage writer for the same magazine and used to tour with bands like The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The movies is a coming of age story of aspiring teenage writer William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit) following a 70’s band named Stillwater while trying to write a cover story of them for the Rolling Stones magazine. The movie has its share of twists and turn in a world of Rock and Roll – an art form that has slowly turned into a profit center with many taboos attached to it.

The journey of a young wannabe journalist with his heroes, losing his virginity and stretching the limit of what is morally right or wrong as defined by his mother – it all comes together to tell a heart warming story about the glam as well as the dark underbelly of Rock and Roll. In its review, Rolling Stone magazine’s Peter Travers wrote, “Not since A Hard Day’s Night has a movie caught the thrumming exuberance of going where the music takes you”.

3. This is Spinal Tap (1984)

This is Spinal Tap is a mocumentary based on a fictional band named “Spinal Tap.”  The film has many comic scenes inspired by the real life Rock and Roll excesses and over the years has become a common reference amongst the music fraternity. In fact, many musicians including the likes of Robert Plant (vocalist, Led Zeppelin) Dee Snider (vocalist Twisted Sister) and Ozzy Osbourne have said that there were instances in the film that actually has happened to them in real life – like getting lost in back stage arena while trying to find the stage to perform. After watching the movie, guitarist Van Halen said, “Everything in that movie has happened to me.”

The film begins with neophyte director Marty DiBegri (played by Rob Reiner) presenting his “rockumentary” on ageing British band Spinal Tap on their North American concert tour for the promotion of their latest album Smell the Glove. The movie is a series of goof up parodies of many bands. The incident of a complete black cover album after the controversy of their original album cover of Smell the Glove is clearly inspired by Metallica’s Black Album. Incidentally, Metallica’s first album was initially called “Metal up your Ass” before renaming it to “Kill ‘em All.” Similarly, Spinal Tap’s persistent problem with their drummer is a take on many bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who and Judas Priest who always had a drummer problem.

A memorable quote from the movie (while the band opened a concert in the US-
We are Spinal Tap from the UK – you must be the USA!

2. Stop Making Sense (1984)

For those who have not heard of the band Talking Heads, it is most likely that they will become a fan of the band after watching their concert movie titled Stop Making Sense. Unlike Dig! which was created after editing 2, 000 hours worth of tapes, this 1984 concert movie featuring one of the leading bands of New Wave was shot in just three days. This is considered by many critics as the best concert movie of all times and was directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia).

The movie opens with David Byrne coming up to the stage and sing “Psycho Killer” with only his acoustic guitar. As the concert progresses, other band members as well as many guest performers gets on the stage one after another to give what is regarded as one of the spirited performance by the band. Unlike other films in the genre, Stop Making Sense does not employ quick-cut editing popularized by MTV. Instead, the movie uses lengthy camera shots to give viewers a feeling of being actually there. Similarly, close up of performing artists are left out for full figure or upper body shots.  Both audience shots and applause sound – which is considered to be a trade mark for all concert films, are kept at a minimal here.

Apart from these innovations, a major factor of the film’s popularity goes to the charismatic front man with high energy level backed by an equally inspired group of musicians. A must watch for those who are bored with all the concert films that looks the same.

1. The Last Waltz (1978)

Some of you might wonder why we have put a concert film of relatively less known band in the number one spot. The Last Waltz is a concert film held in Thanksgiving Day in 1976 by a Canadian rock group called The Band.

Rather than just a concert, the film captures the end of The Band’s illustrious touring career. After sixteen long years on the road, The Band had decided to call it a day and sum it up with The Last Waltz.

Watching it gives you a whole new appreciation for The Band. Amazing enough by themselves, the guest appearances by artists like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, and Neil Diamond makes the movie even more enjoyable!

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Metal Genealogy

One of those things that you might need at times. Metal do have a crazy number of sub-genres.

Until the next post…stay evil, stay LOUD!

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