METAL BLOG, Vol. 4 - by Steff Chirazi
I like to ask the important questions in life, and right now, I can think of few more vital than what the hell happens to your upper torso appendages when listening to a good dose of metal music?
For example, when I listen to Saxon’s “The Devil’s Footprint” from the crushing new album Battering Ram, they seem to throw themselves immediately in support of a guitar, left hand gnarling itself around an invisible ‘neck’ whilst the right hand looks like it’s making a wanking gesture when it is actually holding a guitar pick because I’m ‘playing’ along to the huge, mighty riff.
When it’s “Comin’ Your Way” from Girlschool’s forthcoming Guilty As Sin, then it’s straight up fists at the end of air-punching arms (accompanied by sudden air drum flurries and some serious stride-rite riffing). And when it’s “Absolution” by Ghost B.C. from their latest release Meliors, then it’s a little light drumming until those keyboards kick in when the arms shoot out ahead like Frankenstein and the fingers do some serious ‘air-ivory-tickling’…just to tangent for a moment, I am fascinated to hear what people think of Ghost B.C.? For me, their image suggests the unholiest of intentions, the most evil of evil-doings and the aural malevolence of the most extreme kind, yet their actual music sits fat far closer to ELO meets Blue Oyster Cult meets Abba! I find it much easier to listen without absorbing the image. The songwriting is sophisticated in the way of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s ‘rock opera’ type of writing, you know, Jeff Lynne, Eric Bloom, even a little bit of The Doors and Morrison creeping in here and there. Add that to a clear classical influence, plus sense of pop melody that firmly owes a debt to Abba, and you have a band which could cast it’s popularity net a long way. Look, the image is fun but Ghost B.C. are not a ‘satanic’ band in the death metal sense, their whole sound containing a sophistication and gravity which I think will see them eventually transition away from the extreme theatrical appearance to a more mainstream look.
Speaking of Abba, pay close attention. “S.O.S’ is one of the greatest songs ever written. No, I haven’t lost my mind. Pete Townshend happens to agree with me (saying that the song ‘transported’ him and referring to it as one of the greatest pop songs written), and if that isn’t shock enough, then none other than Fozzy did a storming cover of the song (Chris Jericho likes to throw a few fists around as he sings by the way). I’m going to get nerdy here and tell you that a) I cannot believe Guns N’ Roses never covered this song in the old days as it’s dynamics are tailor-made for them and b) that more metal bands haven’t taken the opportunity to sink their riff-laden teeth into this one. The chorus absolutely begs to be ‘riffed’, and as I sit here waxing lyrical about this fantastic song, I realize that I have already written about the band who SHOULD cover this song immediately (Ghost B.C.) and how perfect it would be…
Anyway. Back to arms and hands. Lamb Of God’s latest VII: Strum Und Drang causes mine to go stiff with fists at the end, lots of flexing and roaring along to Randy Blythe as his harsh voice twists and contorts with blood-on-the-mike pain and expression, as if his every utterance is a catharsis. If you ever wondered what a musician in jail did with their hands whilst counting off the days of their wrongful incarceration, Blythe gives you a chance to hear the answer with “Still Echoes” which was partially written under such circumstances when he was imprisoned in the Czech Republic for a manslaughter charge that was lifted (note the tribute to “Angel Of Death”)…
…A chestnut from the UDR archive you might’ve missed first time around but which demands some attention is The Scintilla Project and their album The Hybrid, which was inspired by the film Scintilla, a science-fiction thriller set in a former Soviet state revolving around strange genetic experiments. The project was roused together by Saxon’s Biff Byford, who collaborated with producer/guitarist Andy Sneap to put together a weighty concept piece which walks the path of heavy, progressive metal whilst allowing the general darkness of the film’s subject matter to permeate every song.
Oh, before I go, the weirdest thing is happening all over again (it’s like a time-warp)…Europe are surfing the wave of a massive resurgence in the US, thanks to the Geico insurance company building an entire ad around the band performing “The Final Countdown” as some office worker waits for his lunch to finish heating up in the microwave oven at work! It is absolutely bizarre to see the band on US TV at regular intervals, and there’s even this little gimmick for you to create your own ‘final countdown’ which is quite a funny idea. http://countdowngenerator.com/#/
Subsequently, as soon as the current European tour is over, Europe will be back in the US to continue promoting War Of Kings and seize some of the momentum from this unexpected TV exposure.
Finally, allow me to leave you with a video from the quite wonderful Napalm Death, and a man called Barney whose hands are often balled up in rage and frustration at the world and it’s shitty politics. “How The Years Condemn” is a thick, visceral look at how anything can be used to subjugate humanity, and involves some great animated elements from Costin Chioreanu.
I’m off to give my fingers a rest now, so until next time…