bITS 'N CHUNKS
I detailed my first Fotocrime concert a while ago if you'd like to check that out; and I hope to go to another soon... meanwhile, as I wait patiently in my little lace gloves and my aviator shades, Fotocrime released their debut album! Check it out on Bandcamp above. On the heels of their Always Night EP featuring excellent tracks such as "Always Hell" and my favorite "Duplicate Days", looking at the cover of Principle of Pain I could sense this was going to move away from the punky moodiness of Always Night and into proper post-punk territory...
Indeed, this album is a lot darker, a bit clean, and pretty damn coldwave anchored by R's strikingly vulnerable baritone vocals sliced with Shelly Anderson's drowned siren call.
I could tell you what it sounds like if you need that -- a little mid-period Sisters of Mercy, a little Pink Turns Blue, a little Clan of Xymox. It bridges the gap between Coliseum's Anxiety's Kiss and the ridiculously danceable "Trance of Love" in a way that makes sense, which is a little frightening. But, I let myself enjoy this over a period of weekends because I was so hype for this album that I backed it on PledgeMusic. Not to brag, but I stand outside my mailbox awaiting my vinyl. Someday...
Anyway, adjectives like moody and dark get thrown about way too much in goth and post-punk because I suppose that's the point, but when I tell you the drums and bass featured here will crush your spirit and your heartache I want you to listen to "Love In a Dark Time" and believe me. I've seldom heard work so open and vulnerable to loss, longing, and pain. The guitars slink, both seductive and already burned. The gravel and clean vocals flit between hesitancy and resignation. It works. It's very evocative of the genre and maybe leans on it too much, but it works.
In the future, I'd like to see a little more of the duet action and a bit more variety in vocal melody. Unfortunately, the same or similar vocal phrasing will make songs sound a bit, well, samey. But I'm confident because I know R is capable of a lot, so hopefully we get to see him flex soon. I'm confident about the whole project and I'm glad, in this sea of synth and darkwave, to see my mode of guitar-based goth slowly dragging its way back up to the surface. Other standout tracks for me include the dark, cobweb-riddled club ready "Gods in the Dark", the rueful reminiscence of "Don't Pity the Young", and the sweet antipatriachy sounds of "Nadia (Last Year's Men)". Lift us up, break us down, and let's do it all again soon!
Twelve years (no shit!) after their formation and the metal community is still out on Ghost.
Are they more gimmick than music? Is T___as F___e running game on all of us? Are they actually metal? These are mere philosophical questions in the end; me, personally, I've outed myself as a metal purist a couple of times so to classify Ghost as, say, "doom metal" is a bit painful to me.
But death 'n doom is what the band pays stock in (in addition to hilarious dark mockery of Catholic institutions) and I'm not going to tell them what to identify as. There are times when I honestly just don't care because the music is good. Ghost especially caters to the part of me that loves camp and kayfabe. I just wrote two fucking heartfelt wrestling entries in a row, I obviously don't take everything super serious.
That being said, I'm going to my 2nd Ghost concert in just a few days here. My first encounter with the nameless ghouls and their Papa was a couple of years ago at good ol' Marathon Music Works. Then, they were leaning heavily into their psychedelic period even as the 3rd incarnation of Emeritus (Papa III) brought in a new era of sleazy late 70s/early 80s inspired cock rock. The floor was hazy, the lights swirled, and everyone smelled like incense. I don't think I needed to bathe for a few weeks. The stage show was fantastic and already gearing towards something a little more theatrical, so for Rats on the Road I'm not terribly surprised they're hitting the theater circuit.
I've held off on video and indulging in a lot of fan lore to be able to enjoy the show as it is: a show. Anything that you have to read three volumes of back story, for example, to "understand" is playing games. But in preparation, I'm taking time out to mistily and fondly remember Ghost's first official album, Opus Eponymous. This record cemented me as a fan for life, is still my preferred period, and the peak moment where gimmick and musicality collided into the perfect mesh of doom, trad metal, and unironic Satan worship. Finally, the music your parents ASSUMED you were always listening to, now made flesh!
All band lore and singer controversy aside, Opus Eponymous still wins me over with its blend of melody, chugging early-Sabbath tendencies, and Gothic horror. Songs about the fallen archangel himself are augmented with odes to Countess Bathory and the Beatles. And... ABBA, because they are Swedish and who doesn't love a good folk melody? Anyway, it seemed like from this point on Ghost could do no wrong and by the time "Year Zero" rolled out they were well on their way to actual annunciation. Popestar and parts of Meliora were steps back, showing off Papa's pipes but not furthering too much else. But even while he new regime under Cardinal Copia (who is NOT using his boom box enough) is giving me Spinal Tap vibes, but I'm hoping Prequelle can turn us around. I'm just hoping by this time next year they will have gone full Queen-meets-Alice-Cooper, utilizing some kind of gilded guillotine as part of the act, no?
Dare I say black-black metal.
Well, ship mates, I intended to do this post a LOT earlier in the month, but like quite a bit in my life this cruel quarter of the year it fell by the wayside. BUT I refuse to be late at least in my own time zone, so I wanted to present you all with my favorite subject to digest during February: black people in places we don't usually belong!
As you might realize from my tags and music posts, I'm a big metal fan. Specifically, speed/thrash, groove, some of the early nu-metal when it was still cool and not at all derivative, industrial (and regular Industrial), prog... I could go on. I am and always will be some sort of metal trash.
But in the year of our lord T'Challa 2018, I don't need to tell you that POC representation in the metal scene is... lacking. Ironically, not really in the audience itself, but still on stage. I and many (many) others whether as hobbyists or professionals do these lists of black people in metal every so often and each year it's a struggle. At one point it was so bad that every black-specific list had to be expanded out to include everyone black and brown for coverage. I feel like for every ten years there is one or two more new bands that crop up. A lot of the problem is exposure but a bigger part of the problem that's KIND of getting solved is simply location. For example, a few years ago we learned that many African countries have quite large metal scenes. Do Americans see this? Probably not. Do people in Canada know about goregrind in China or Trinidad & Tobago? I'm willing to bet "no" unless they're on the look out for it.
So, there's that. What do these lists do? Bring attention to the issue and, hopefully, encourage you to go find more for yourself. Finding lists like this and trailing down the bunny hole definitely helped me find my way as a young'un and made the world seem less lonely, so I wish to pass that on to others. For more, I suggest BandCamp and the extremely arbitrary but useful Metal Archives. For reading I suggest Laina Dawes' What Are You Doing Here? memoir.
Now, before you hit the Read More you might be wondering, why black people specifically? There are groupings of all POC in music scenes out there, this seems a little specific. And the true answer to that is, representation and visibility matter E V E R Y W H E R E, I like to see people like me enjoying the things I enjoy, and lastly, why the hell not.
So here we go, a short list of black-black metal artists that inspired my young life. Oh, and song recs.
Since we deal in a lot of nostalgia here, I must say that I have loved AMVs since childhood.
Growing up, it was a real treat to even get to see a really well-made AMV or anime music video. You knew a lot of time and effort had gone into making them high quality and often I had to wait for my risky download to finish to watch a 3 minute clip.
Some of them even got broadcast on TV, which was so cool. Due to a lot of legal reasons, much like fanfiction, AMVs were and still are quite underground. Curiously, they don't get spread quite as much as fanfiction which makes me wonder if they're losing popularity? Or maybe it's just not worth it to anger the copyright gods for a really cool set of clips.
My old Youtube playlist of liked videos feels like a time capsule. There's so many AMVs from like ten years ago and most of them pre-date YouTube. Especially the AMV Hell compilations.
And like my love of songfics, I love AMVs so much because they thematically link an anime (or western cartoon if you're so inclined) to a song to capture a moment in the show, a feeling, to make something funny, or give fight scenes a really boss soundtrack.
Labels and the general culture of us vs poseurs taught me not to trust anyone that gives themselves an actual category. I know, that's stupid but it was a big thing back in The Day™.
Why? Because labels put you in a box and meant you were a puppet. If you voluntarily called yourself glam metal then we already knew what you were all about and there was no room for anything else. That's why to this day a lot of older goths still hiss at the "goth" label, because of what it is and what it has become. When you get tired of explaining things to people, it's easier to distance yourself.
The only people that I know of that lean head first into categorization is metal heads and punks and even that is not always a given. You can find generic headbangers anyway and most of them will definitely let you know, but there's a lot of us that hate subcategories for example. Punks are…well, punks. A lot of us don't care either.
Now, depending on how old you are you probably had to re-read that last part. Did you just refer to "us" as both punks and metalheads? Yes, there was a time when those two categories mixed like cesium and water. Labels suddenly matter a lot when you need to know what club to go to so you don't get your ass kicked.
That being said, with that kind of history it's weird to think at some point punks and metalheads would meet, agree, shake hands, and not murder each other. But it happens all the time. Goths and rockabilly stray cats met up for gothabilly or psychobilly and that's kind of weird. Apparently the meeting of minds of metal and hardcore punk was crossover.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...