Musings of a Metal Deviant, Vol. 2: Merry Metal Christmas

Christmas time is here, a season of stress and indulgence. The holiday is contrived beyond recognition to most but for those of us who can see through the fabric or could just care less, nothing is really different except for the decor of surroundings. All throughout the town one can see the sights of minty colors and hear the triumphs of jolly music. That trite monotony would drive anybody to drink. The overt attention that metalists pay to the jolly holiday simply doesn’t make any sense, but in a fashion where irony is the greatest statement, there’s a valid marriage. Then again, it’s all in good, constructive fun, and throughout the years pioneers of heavy and dark music have paid sufficient tribute. In honor of them, here are some suggestions that might offer some relief and maybe a chuckle from this dismal time of year.

King Diamond “No Presents for Christmas”

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Christopher Lee “Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing”

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King Diamond “The Puppet Master”

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Jesu “Christmas” EP

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Spinal Tap “Christmas with the Devil”

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Motorhead “Ace of Spades”   EP

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Celtic Frost “Cold Lake”

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Winter “Into Darkness”

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In other news…

This month in New York was much quieter than the last few. Just not as many shows -or- shows just not worth going to. I was able to squeeze in a couple local acts though, nothing too over the top but nonetheless a good time. I hit a kickoff show for a small East Coast tour for Natur; Brooklyn-based, self-proclaimed “old metal”. Also on the bill were Austin-based Ditch Witch and Brooklyn’s freshest black thrash outfit, Iron Force. I’ve seen these Brooklyn bands a couple times each, really only ever leaving a marginal impression. It’s just too easy to go to an “old” sound, and even if it’s well executed, it can feel stock just for the sake of stock. However, as safe as it all may seem to emulate classics, both these bands hauled ass at that show. It took place at Union Pool, which for not being the greatest bar, has a crisp-sounding venue which sits off to the side of the courtyard area. I showed up towards the end of Ditch Witch, snuck myself in with my buddies from Iron Force right before they were about to go on. This time around they were darker and edgier than I’ve seen. Instead of going right for the easy payoff in a recognizable Inepsy, Midnight or late era Darkthrone sound, they somehow have become scarier, frostier. The venue, as I said, always sounds good, and being able to hear everything clearly helped to sell me on Iron Force, but to their credit, they’ve grown much tighter.

The second show I hit was headlined by Costa Rica macabres Deiphago at Bushwick’s Acheron. Having missed the first two sets by Witch King and Agrath, I got in to catch Mutant Supremacy and then Deiphago. Between and during these sets though, myself and the other casual bar-goers were subject to a strange and intense crowd that came out of the woodwork for the show. Then the infusion of alcohol, once it really set in, prompted violence. Eventually spilling out into the street, there were multiple scraps going on at once. All while this is happening, a couple of us were distracted by a really out of place and imposing couple at the bar. And a couple of heads were still rocking out. This show felt like the Powermad scene in Wild At Heart; Guys crawling across the floor while head banging; there was a strange chaos about it.

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Because this month was so slow and lonely, I called on a good friend of mine, the hypothetical Patrick Bateman, to express his most recent musical obsession…

UntitledDo you like VOIVOD? I’ve been a big fan ever since the release of their 1984 album, War and Pain. At first I didn’t understand any of their work. Too artsy, too avant-garde for conventional thrash. It was on, uh, Rrroooaaarrr that the Canadians got bat-shit crazy. I think “Thrashing Rage” was the album’s undisputed masterpiece. It’s the most vicious way to start a second side. At the same time, it completely deepens and enriches the meanings on the first album. Would you like some sorbet? Listen to the solid unit of a band; Piggy, Away, Snake and Blacky. You can’t hear every nuance but the chaos leaves much to the imagination. NO, put it in the carton! In terms of lyrical craftsmanship and compositional substance this album hits a new peak of bedlam. Away’s feet sound like he’s in a constant winding jog, while Piggy’s diminished chord based riffs defy every conventional notion of tonality. Christy, take off your robe. The lyrical content is virtually unexplored by any thrash band up until Rrroooaaarrr was released. Snake and Away embellish a narrative around the Voivod as a creature that treks and marauds its way through space, but all for the sake of preventing all out galactic nuclear war. It’s really quite a theme to digest. Sabrina, why don’t you, uh, dance a little. To sum it all up for you, Voivod didn’t go the safe route. They also didn’t initially emerge as the eccentric band that we hear on their 1988 masterpiece, Dimension Hatross or their 1989 Nothing Face, but you can really listen to Rrroooaaarrr and retrospectively understand the foreshadowing that it provides to their succeeding records…

 

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