Saturday, January 4, 2014

My New Year's Resolution

Like many Americans, I make resolutions at the beginning of a year knowing full well that most of them will fall into ruin by the time we all get pretty good at making those 3's look like 4's (just so nobody thinks we've forgotten what year it is.)

But I'm making a resolution here and now, inspired by the numerous facebook posts seen after the nuclear-winter level fallout that comes from the 'undergound' following the posting of year-end 'Best of" lists.

I'm making 2014 the year I bury the words HIPSTER METAL.

I'll bet you all know a person or two who never fail with their long, disjointed, mispelled, and possibly autocorrected tirades against "hipster metal" and against any metal record which got picked up or reviewed by Pitchfork Media, Vice/Noisey, Stereogum, NPR, or (god forbid) Spin or Rolling Stone. These posts are usually accompanied by a ridiculous claim that hipsters are invading the "scene" or that the metal bands in question are not actually metal bands, therefore the people that like the artist are not metalheads.

I've been discovering and listening to weird music long enough that I feel comfortable saying that this isn't a new phenomenon, but to be honest the discourse has become so annoying over the last few years that I feel the need to stick a (pitch)fork in this while the topic is still on everyone's tongue.

I remember six or seven years ago when the term first become the most common insult thrown at twenty-somethings. Since then its grown and morphed to encompass nearly every cultural or countercultural movement that the insulter doesn't approve of. The word is meaningless. The hipster has become the other by which subcultures identify in-group and out-group members. It's a mechanism to police subcultures and has little to no relation to any actual genres or bands. The hipster is a cultural terrorist. They ruin everything and appreciate nothing. By virtue of this omnipresence they can't be identified - which is precisely what makes it the perfect insult to hurl at an opponent.

What is hipster metal? I don't fucking know anymore. It doesn't describe a sound. It just gets stuck on records or bands that get popular, or on bands that experiment with genres that some metalheads don't like.

When you use the phrase hipster metal, you become a walking stereotype of heavy metal. You become the reason people remember nothing about metal other than that guy in the patch-vest who was a total dick to them at a record store when they were just trying to find some new music.

I'm not saying that a lot of great music doesn't get ignored in favor of a few records. I'm not saying that we shouldn't worship the old. I'm not saying we shouldn't fly the flag of awful, cryptic metal that you feel in your bones and in your worst nightmares log after it's over. I'm saying if you want to talk music, grow your personal vocabulary beyond the H word.

But that's just like, my opinion, man.

Back from the dead

Dorkthrone was a relatively short-lived music blog I kept back in 2010 and 2011. I got busy and stopped blogging, and then I just stopped. I'm not the biggest fan of music writing because like most consumers of the written word, I find it to be self-aggrandizing and redundant. Sure there are great exceptions, but for the most part a lot of people write reviews about a lot of the same material. I don't want to sink into that.

So, where does this leave us in 2014? Well, this is a new start. I make you the reader a promise that I will not give in to temptation to produce redundant reviews. I will try my best to write in a way that conveys the records as they are and not fill them with awful adjectives and metaphors. Why? Because you deserve better, and you can already get that anywhere else.

No redundancy, no mediocrity, no download links, no bullshit.

Your light in the dorkness,

Sean

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ruins of Beverast - Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite (2009)


The Ruins of Beverast - Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite (2009, Ván Records)


The Ruins of Beverast are the best black metal project you've been totally neglecting to listen to. You probably downloaded it a while back and it got caught in the deluge of bands you already listen to, and all the other bands you promised a friend from the internet you would check out (but never had any intention to do so.)

I won't bore you by telling you that this record is different (even from TROB's other records) - chances are if you've scoured internet forums you've heard that all too many times about shit you just couldn't care less about. Instead, set aside some time, put on some headphones and jump in blind to Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite.

TROB is the one-man project of Alexander von Meilenwald, known for his drumming in German black metal band Nagelfar and some live drumming for German war metal outfit Truppensturm. Though unlike the two bands mnentioned above, you won't see this project live.

The songs are long, drawn-out, and ooze a sort of occult madness that's hard to describe outside of nightmares. Meilenwald blends his black metal with slow passages which immediately bring diSEMBOWELMENT to mind - creeping and pulsing along through vast cosmic oceans of blackened death. TROB layer chants over ritual drums and layers of creeping rhythm interrupted by epic refrains reminiscent (again) of diSEMBOWELMENT. The effect is not unlike that of a Cronenberg film - images of bodies and machines warped into terrible forms, grinding into shapes unseen. Opened graves, cryptic writings beyond the plane of life, begging themselves into our world in the oriental horrors of tombraiders.

Okay, that might have sounded pretentious, but if I can manage to amuse or confuse you enough, you'll be forced to listen to this record to flesh out these paragraphs for yourself.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Florida From the Other End

This week, a friend of mine came to visit our fine lower-intestine-shaped-state, and we showed him a pretty good time. This of course comes as a total surprise to the denzians of our little city affectionately known as a family fun spot - provided your family isn't Caylee Anthony's - or as we affectionately call it: Whorelando. A lot of people here complain - a lot - about how there is nothing to do. But there are things to do, and we did them all over the course of a week - all in service of one hell of a vacation.

We made a semi-annual trip to Gatorland, a forgotten redneck-gem in the middle Florida's tourist-trap wilderness. Watch out-of-staters squirm not at the sight of alligators, but at the possibility of kneeling down in the sand to sit on a hog-tied reptile for a souvenir photo. Sure there are more put-on Florida cracker personas than you can capture in camera phone memories, but who else do you really want to watch wrestle an alligator? Certainly not your grandmothers (even though they all probably live here.) You can pet some goats while you're at it - touch more goat heads than anywhere else short of a Morbosidad show. One even ate a map. And by A map I mean MY map. Joke's on him, I wasn't going to eat that map anyway.

We went to a few used book stores and picked through 40,000 copies of Dan Brown doorstops, pop-politics, romance novels for waspy Winter Park housewives, and what must amount to Oprah's entire book club - only to be wonderfully and occasionally interrupted by some genuinely good finds and conspiracy fiction.

Then to Orlando's record stores including:

* Vinyl Ritchie's Wiggly World of Records, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it local favorite and home of Florida's Dying (who just released Yussuf Jerusalem's newest effort - more on that soon...)
* Park Ave CDs: where I resisted a Clan of Xymox LP, desperately clinging to some hope I'll find another way to win street cred with goth girls without breaking my tiny bank account or buying a pvc wardrobe.
* Rock n' Roll Heaven: where admidst the petchouli haze I balked at the price of new wave singles, desperately scoured tape sections for bargains, and pined over a Witchfinder General picture disk so expensive it could buy me a month's worth of food and then some.

Final night: show time - Toxic Holocaust. A few familiar faces, but moreso a crowd so young and unfamiliar you wonder where these kids are at the other shows in Florida that play to nearly empty rooms. There may have been chaperones and I swear one kid must have been there from the make-a-wish foundation - a possibility I considered until I saw him stagediving. Joel Grind and Toxic Holocaust killed it as always and Holy Grail are still my favorite speed metal revival band band with a guitarist resembling John Redcorn. Oh and it was Joel Grind's birthday, how about that.

Orlando's some fun even if I am a jaded asshole, and it takes an outsider to see that. Go out, have fun. You don't have to be in Florida forever, but you are most likely here for a while. Time to buck up, leave your nerdcaves and enjoy things.

Oh, and if there's a chance anyone reading this is in Chicago or Los Angeles, Florida's own Maruta are playing two Scion matinée shows with Gridlink and Phobia this weekend, which you would be an absolute dickhead to miss. Go out and support some good guys, listen to the new record, and buy some swag if you dig it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Loss - Despond (2011)

Loss - Despond (2011, Profound Lore Records)



America has never been a hotbed for funeral doom. Chalk it up as one of the things Europe just seems to do better. For those uninitiated, funeral doom fits somewhere between death/doom and depressive black metal, with lower vocals reminiscent of the former, and atmospheric flourishes of the latter. Not exactly groovy or headbangable, unless your idea of headbanging is the kind that follows a swandive from a four-story building.

But back to the matter at hand. American doom tyrants Loss, from the unlikely haunts of Nashville, Tennessee, have certainly carved themselves a nice little spot in the underground releasing splits with German occultists Necros Christos (including a pair of excellent Goatlord covers), and funeral doom legends Worship. Earlier this year Loss dropped their first full-length Despond on Profound Lore and it's not a stretch for me to call it one of my favorites of this year. I can say with more than a hint of irony that Despond gives you all the happiness a doom fan could ever want - from the low and slow vocals to the lumbering dual guitar harmonies, deep bass, and sepulchral drumming. With feel good hits like Cut Up, Depressed, and Alone, Loss weigh in with all the motivation you'll ever need to never feel motivation again. As far as the genre goes this is par for the course, but you knew that already. Despond plays with cleaner tones and cleaner vocals and while the experiment pays off, the band is still at their best when they're at their slowest. It all comes down to creating the best possible soundtrack to the last important decision most of you will ever make. Check them out here before you end it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Self-Flagellation Pt.2

Urfaust - Der freiwillige Bettler



Urfaust are an incredibly unique Dutch two-piece black metal band. They play an atmospheric sort of black metal, with touches of folk (think early Absurd) and heavy orchestra work at times. The vocals howl and chant and suffer, the guitars swirl and the drums build. The band express a nihilism unseen in many quarters - complete refusal to explain themselves, describing themselves as hermit black metal, fueled by alcohol and pure ritual evil. There's a lot here about intoxication and possession, which describes their sound and their approach to making music perfectly. All this sounds like a fucking stereotype, but Urfaust really are unlike other black metal cults, and the sound of is dark,harsh, beautiful and haunting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maybe There's a Reason They Only Hire Female Keyboardists...

Deathcore/metalcore bands seem to have the same hiring practices that lecherous old men have for hiring secretaries.

NEW RULE: If you're the only person on stage in a dress, you're not a vocalist, and you're replacing another female musician who looks SURPRISINGLY LIKE YOU, you may have been hired by a band full of sexist pricks.

A certain band that shall rename nameless (although I will mention that there are diseases and blustery weather involved, let's call them "Breezes of Diseases" for fun...) has recently had a spate of problems with female keyboardists. Namely, naked pictures of them keep finding their way onto the internet. Once, maybe chalk it up to a bitter boyfriend or a single creeper. But twice is starting to form a pattern.

Maybe there's a reason why a band would ONLY TRY OUT FEMALE KEYBOARDISTS. These sexist and degrading little PR stunts seem to be a common occurrence, especially in a fanbase as predominantly misogynist as deathcore (not to deny the misogyny in other genres, but few seem to have the proclivity to hire so many female keyboardists.)

So if you're a woman who plays some keys, maybe look for a better gig, or maybe find a band without such a downright misogynist attitude. Or maybe this responsibility needs to go somewhere else...

I'm looking at the men out there. If you've ever complained about the lack of female fans of heavy music fans at shows and in general, maybe it's time to take a look at something like this and see what's going on here.

Don’t even get me started on women and their stereotypes in metal - especially female keyboardists as filling some sort of perceived normative gender role (more on that at some other point.)

Think about it. Gain some respect for women. Grow as a person.

Time to grow up boys.

Oh, here's the metalsucks article for those interested: http://www.metalsucks.net/2011/01/22/now-winds-of-plague%E2%80%99s-alana-potocnik-bares-more-than-just-her-soul-hint-it%E2%80%99s-also-her-boobs/