bITS 'N CHUNKS
Well, Haken graced us with a new album this year - something I meant to talk about well before the concert I attended back in November, but well. Perhaps my life is a shambles.
I've seen a lot of descriptions of this album as "djent" but at this point I feel like that term is so far removed from its origins (it's basically an early metal meme to describe something as Meshuggah-esque) that it doesn't have a ton of pull for me anymore. It definitely doesn't describe too much outside of a very niche part of the progressive community overall.
So, what does this album sound like? Well... to me I'd say late period The Mars Volta, thematically and musically. There's probably far less saxophone but especially with the guitar texture and landscapes, it's there.
Haken has always sounded a little retro to me, but here their signature sound is best on display with single "The Good Doctor" and from there it gets... well, different. Let's talk about it, though. Why does prog rock like the Crazy tropes so much?
Well, humanity is complex, from our social interactions to our individual motivations, and nothing encapsulates that better than the mysteries of the human brain. Perfect for a subgenre that itself is complex and often concerned with cerebral things. It's a personal topic for me as someone coping with mental illness however successfully or unsuccessful, and I suppose that's at least part of the reason I am drawn to prog. The feeling that I don't have to pretend to care about mundane topics like boys, girls, money, or politics.
I feel like prog is at it's best when it's prohibitively complex and boy does prog enjoy talking about "craziness". The only thing more interesting than the human brain functioning is when it ceases to function normally and all sorts of nightmares commence. It can be a little navel gaze (see Mars Volta again) or it can be expansive and humanizing (late period Rush). For Haken, mental wellness -- or rather, unwellness -- makes a thrilling topic and an overreaching story line. But one that veers on a little... corny for them.
Let's talk about that for a second because I don't mean the version of corny that equals wack or cringe. I'm talking about something that has the whiff of regular. A twice told tale coming in for a third time. Why now? Because it's a popular trope of the genre so we have to?
The true concept of Vector is mysterious, but it can be surmised that a lot of song elements are meant to connect back to previous albums. It's heavily hinted that "The Good Doctor" is a direct sequel to the infectious "The Cockroach King"; if that's the case, then Vector surely reveals who the cockroach king and his victims truly are, right?
Rather, it's hard to say. There could be role reversal at play, so not a straightforward example at all. Maybe we've even been reading things wrong the whole time. Once we get deeper into the album, things take a turn for Cuckoo's Nest and we explore more of what's going on in this person's psyche. By the time we hit "Puzzle Box" and "Veil", it's established that we ain't getting any clear cut answers this week.
That's a tough pill to go down, but that sort of obsession and nerdery is a commodity in this community.
So, is it good? Yes. It's more likely to clear your skin than clear anything else up. The best Haken album? Not really. At 44 minutes and 7 songs, there was room for a little extra here without dropping into excess. The songs are great but thematically it just feels like we're going through the motions of doing it just to do it. There's better ways to go about this and I'm confident Haken will in the future, this one's just a compromise...
Gang, it's time for concert season once again!
... Except I've already been to all the shows I'm tryna go to this year with the exception of a potential new year's eve bash. My Shows About Town feature is pretty consistent, but for the latter half of this year I've (to be blunt) had my shit rocked repeatedly by the ups and downs of life and depression. So I haven't felt like it!
So, rather than a thorough concert review, here's a speed run of the two biggest shows I hit up in good ol' Music City.
At this point it's been about a week since the spookiest, best time of our lives. But while Halloween may only exist in our hearts and minds, my content does NOT!
That's right, with support and networking I was able to expand my (spider)web out this year and do some awesome projects with cool people I love. Sometimes, y'all, building community is worth more than every Huffington Post or BuzzFeed viral clip on the face of the Earth.
So where else was I? Well...
Halloween is always lit over at Global Comment. Here are the three (dark) entries I did this year.
Sabrina & Satanic Feminism
Y'all like horror remakes?
MANDY IS AWESOME!
Oh, did you miss my collab with the lovely Lovely? Well, here it is right here on this very site: Metalhead films!
And last but not least, my dear SoBros Network gave me the keys to their kingdom for a little bit to do my annual-when-I-actually-make-it-out 12 Hours of Terror write up!
Thanks to you all for making this Halloween equally as sexy and fun as last year's and not nearly as depressing as the year before. And now, we steadily march towards Turkeyland and Santa Time!
You know, gang, I like metal and I like movies. That much should be evident if you read any of my writing, follow my social media, know me as a person, and so on.
I’m always pondering ways to reach out to my fellow metalheads and commiserate, but most importantly combine our interests in productive ways. As it turns out, one of the prerequisites to metal fandom is… an enjoyment of film. Shocker! Specifically, we tend to lean towards scary film. So for Halloween, I thought I wanted to do a list of metal horror films for your headbangin’ souls.
Then, the project got… big. Metal infects everything in my life (like goth, only less so) and I thought, why do I have to stick to horror movies? Why can’t it just be evergreen?
Then… the project got monstrous.
I realized I couldn’t do it alone. So I reached out to my genderfluid dreamboat -- I mean definitely one of my favorite power metallers and big time inspiration, Lovely! Together, we have compiled a master list of films that any self-respecting metalhead should enjoy, or if you’re stuck in that phase of explaining things to mom and dad, maybe some of these will help.
(I’m totally fucking with you, these won’t help at all).
So, check out the massive list below, and don’t forget to check out Lovely’s podcast, Lovely Talks Metal! And follow their Twitter and Instagram. That being said:
Well, looks like it's about that time again -- holy shit has it really only been a month? Time flies when you're depressed.
Quick, what would make you whip your coworker around in their chair and shove a phone in their face and say, "Look. LOOK. Look at the things."
Why do we share?
The feeling of exclusivity. Walk with me here.
It's fun to feel part of a secret group, right? It's fun to go into a place and immediately hug everyone there and feel smug. Just admit it! It's way more fun to talk about events in retrospect than it is to actually talk about them while you're there. You're still making stories to tell while you're in the moment; the good shit happens after everyone leaves and stops asking you a bunch of questions.
The good shit goes down when you get to say, "oh, you missed it."
Oh you missed the last show? Brutal. Well, too bad you can't catch up now. (You really can on ï»¿Powerbombï»¿, but let's pretend that doesn't exist.) Well, here we go, NOW...
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...