METAL BLOG, Vol. 12 - by Steff Chirazi
SUMMER’S HERE BUT I’M AS MAD AS EVER!
AND JOURGENSEN’S BACK, SNUCK IN THE BACK DOOR THE BASTARD!
Yippiddy doo-dah, summer’s here, sunshine, warmth and all that jolly stuff, swim-shorts, beer, friends, festivals, yet all I seem to be finding these days is a build-up of anger and frustration which can only find it’s natural release by submerging my dark and filthy frame into
STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP READING THAT STOP EVERYTHING AND PAY ATTENTION TO THIS INSTEAD!
I was alarmed to find out that Al Jourgensen, the slippery web-footed bastard, had popped out a release that slipped through my crack(s) and arrived without fanfare. I don’t know why I was surprised really, I mean, ever since I first met the man he has never exactly written nice notes on scented paper and popped them in the post with a few dried flowers for potpourri post. In fact, it is typical that his most fuck-you release for well over a decade (somewhere between disdain, amnesia, legacy and a vat of liquor) should just be ‘there’ without any word, save the odd underground wittering.
This is how Al rolls. It is both a blessing and a curse. He is one of the most wonderfully obstinate ‘game players’ I have ever come across in music, a man who shat in a box and sent it to his then major record label, a man who would routinely go missing from studios, yet a man whose mental wheels spun such tremendous material, such cathartic meat for so many like-minded fuckos, that he was worth it. He was able to dance between the lines of chaos, asshole and charmer because, well, he is a special guy. Unique. A one-off. Look, and I say this with absolute truth in my heart of beliefs, if Al hadn’t taken this path, he’d have started his own religion and led a cult.
I have very, very few regrets in my writing life. Probably the main one was not, in the end, getting to finish doing Jourgensen’s book with him. I felt I could’ve done the greatest piece, I felt it would’ve been Hubert Selby Jr meets Studs Terkel in a brutal cage-fight, because that is how his life always came across to me. I still don’t know what happened, maybe he grew sick and tired of me, maybe he simply fucking hated the thought of me getting in there, who the FUCK knows. What I DO know is that I could not ever hold it against him. Because somewhere, and somehow, I LIKE him, even though he has left me shaking my head in dismay more times than I can remember (take a ticket and get in line there I guess).
I have been struggling a bit of late with regards to finding any new music which answers my inner-angry-sarcastic man. Then this drops out of the sky. This fantastically-named side-project, Surgical Meth Machine, just drops from the mercurial crackpot genius, a brain-salad of A.D.D hyperflashes, zings, bings and dings, at times a blur of insanity which sounds as though it’s driven by a small, battered briefcase full of speed and LSD piped through an aircraft hanger’s worth of amps, while at others tripping into a psychedelic haze of lounge-lizard drifting (“I’m Invisible” is like a velvet boxing glove kissing your face very, very slowly, the lone twanging guitar being the sound of your synapses disconnecting).
“I’m Sensitive” was like salve to my sarcasm-deprived, angry heart, and Jourgensen’s insane blurted roar of ‘I don’t fucking care’ in relation to social media diarrhoea filled with giggling, puerile RELIEF! FINALLY! Someone just SCREAMING over an insane 200 BPM or whatever drum loop. It felt like I feel sometimes, and it felt damn great to know someone was back articulating this stuff. Yeah yeah, some old Ministry fans have hemmed and hawed about it, calling it cheap and shitty and whatever but guess what, I DON’T FUCKING CARE and neither should you, because for the first time in a long time Jourgensen has left me in that zone where I cannot be sure if he loves us, hates us or is grudge-fucking himself and we’re part of the party.
I will say straight up that for fans of Psalm 69-era Ministry, there is the bastard son of “TV II” with “Unlistenable’ which is curiously addictive and seductive and some other ’tive I cannot find right now… but give me enough listens and I will find it and plug in later. Because I am drawn to both it and this entire goddam album, a Pavlovian response leading me to find, deep within its folds, treasures, nuggets of humour, some tremendous music and the occasional turd (spray painted gold of course so as you don’t really notice or acknowledge). That’s OK. I’m just delighted to hear Jourgensen going apeshit mental in a studio again (reminds me of times spent with him on wheelie chairs, whiskey, beer, etc.) and while I PERSONALLY hope that has not come at a price for him, I cannot lie, I am thrilled to hear him just cutting loose whatever the reason.
OK…back to the beginning of the blog again. Sorry That reshuffle was necessary…back to normal programming…NOW.
SUMMER’S HERE BUT I’M AS MAD AS EVER!
Yippiddy doo-dah, summer’s here, sunshine, warmth and all that jolly stuff, swim-shorts, beer, friends, festivals, yet all I seem to be finding these days is a build-up of anger and frustration which can only find it’s natural release by submerging my dark and filthy frame into some fetid grindcorish All Pigs Must Die or some head-cracking old-school hardcore from the likes of Sick Of It All and Biohazard. Yes, these are the sounds of what I consider to be our current times, a deadly explosive cocktail of ignorance, illiteracy, divide & conquer racism and (worst of all) socio-economic inequality which threatens to decimate the lives of millions if the power-elite are allowed to get away with it.
So, as ever, I have been finding catharsis in metal, and further, I am happy to note that even though the sun will shine and everybody will berate me if I do not wear a perpetual grin on my face because of it, there are some cracking festivals coming with some even more cracking bands. Obviously I will be discussing Wacken Open Air in the coming months, and also paying note to Bloodstock in the UK which happens soon afterwards, but let’s focus for now on Hellfest, a place where for three days you can absolutely be sure to shed yourself of daily strife. Some of the bands playing we know all too well, such as Black Sabbath and Rammstein, but there are some others coming through which are well-worth your attention if they don’t have it already.
Caliban, the German five-piece who dealt in death metal, have been developing their chops to absorb more melody and grander structures without sacrificing an ounce of power and punch (I will even forgive them their horrendous promo video which shamelessly apes that thoroughly over-rated blown opportunity in cinema called The Revenant - see Liam Neeson’s The Grey instead!) and their new release Gravity delivers soon-to-be metalfest favorites such as the riffy dynamics of “Crystal Skies” and the bludgeon of “Walk Alone”. I will even forgive them their Rammsteinian bonus remixes, simply because I actually like them, but this is a band who might not be as high up some of the summer bills as they should be (I will most certainly check them out at this year’s Wacken, and if you want an earlier taste, Hellfest is another good place to see what they’ve got).
In fact, as I see it, Hellfest could provide a hefty dose of escape for many, not only via the power of the many fuck-you bands on the bill, but via the great clouds of green smoke which will surely accompany some of these said-bands. Torche are a sensational fusion of bass-driven stonerism underscored by a vocal which has true melody. Is there a hint of young John Osbourne? Absolutely. Is it obvious? No. Is it great? Yes. You want a taste? Just listen to the track “Minions” off Restarter, because it is the sort of groove that massages your insides vigorously and makes you need to take the most fantastic poo (this is a positive - like when you drink a delicious cup of coffee first thing in the morning - and if you don’t believe me, if you try to claim you have ‘no idea what I’m talking about’ then it’s on you because you’re lying). Meanwhile, “Undone” sounds like a herd of stegosaurus stamping through your town, again underscored with that fucking beautifully ethereal vocal - in fact, I can see SEAS of people headbanging to this and I know I will be jealous to miss this sweaty, holy communion of heavy cheer and bleakness under the raging sunny festival skies.
Deicide appear to only be appearing at Hellfest this summer, which is a shame really as no-one quite does anger, societal revulsion and all-round hate quite like Glen Benton (who I will tell you, based on my meeting with him back in the mid-90s, is a very personable chap). Carrying that precision, steel-plated riff-and-rapid fire percussion of Florida death metal, plus Benton’s unmistakable deep cookie growl vocals, Deicide are impossible to ignore and pretty tough to deny in the heat of any moment. I’d say given the general state of the globe, theirs will be a fun and cathartic Hellfest set. It would be churlish of me, at this point not to suggest that those of you who want a bit o’Benton should also go forth and see Archgoat, the Finnish black metal veterans whose The Apocalyptic Triumphator evokes the feeling of old Earache Records grindcore releases with the thick ebony darkness and icy northern winds of the most famous Nordic black metal. And those of you who might still need to scrub yourselves in an empathetic hate bath should be sure to plug into the drudgy doleful doomfest that is Dopethrone. There is nothing speedy here, it’s all arsenic and acid baths, but if a bleak day out is on the agenda (and let’s face it, if you’re checking out Deicide and Archgoat you’re not going to fuck off and bake some chocolate chip cookies) then this is for you (well, you could bake some cookies for Dopethrone but there’d have to be a bit more than chocolate chips in ‘em).
My final Hellfest intrigue revolves around Cowards, a Parisian quintet with some fierce foundations, could be worth the time too, their abrasive, jarring sound evoking the spirit of Killing Joke but wrapped in death metal attitudes basted in a vat of acidic thrashy, punk. You suspect they will jump all over your head and rip your face off live - let us know if they do would you?
While I’m here, let me absolutely make sure you know about Barb Wire Dolls, who will be releasing their Desperate album on Motörhead Music on July 22nd. It’s a bit away I know, but plant the date in your head if you ever had any affinity whatsoever for real, raw abrasive punk in the style of London ’79 (Ari Up/Poly Styrene/X Ray Specs) meeting the Germs and raw Black Flag avec Keith Morris. They’re the real deal, it’s simple.
This blog then went on to say I’d just come across Al Jourgensen’s latest release, which I was going to close off with, but something told me I needed to shove that bastard right up top because, well, it spoke to me, no it SCREAMED at me. So there you have it! Until next time …