Posts Tagged ‘Cosmo Lee’

Carmina Burana metal

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Cosmo Lee consistently has the best soundbites of any music writer out there these days, or at least it seems like it to me, because I keep linking to him. Today in Invisible Oranges, he throws out a review of Epica’s new record (which he’s only reviewing because he basically wrote a post saying “Please don’t make me review the new Epica record,” and so of course everyone asked him to review the new Epica record).

The whole brief review is worth a read but the meat is right here: “But everything is loud and dramatic, which means that nothing is loud and dramatic. I call this ‘Carmina Burana metal.’ It’s like if Dethklok weren’t a joke.”

And yet I still like this stuff. Which, I suppose, would make it pretty hard for me to get all soapboxy about, say, neo-prog, if I were still into doing that kind of thing.

Shrinebuilder: a supergroup that doesn’t suck

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Well, concert reviews are no longer something I’m doing for the Washington City Paper (just concert photos), and that actually works out nicely because it means I can write about concerts that inspire me right here at this blog, like I used to. The latest in a long list of enjoyable concerts I’ve seen in 2009 was Shrinebuilder last Friday night at Sonar in Baltimore.

I dig the Shrinebuilder record, although predictably I like the parts that sound like Om and Neurosis the best. Lots of folks have been saying that it’s exactly the sum of its parts, and I basically agree. That said, the song “Pyramid of the Moon” is absolutely incredible and in its case at least, I enjoy the parts so much that the sum of them is pretty immense. It goes from sounding like Neurosis into an intense Om-like mantra part into Wino’s juicy psychedelic lead guitar back to sounding like Om but more fleshed out. This is a recipe for awesomeness. Still, yes, the record as a whole is good, but not quite great. (Say a strong 10 on the Gnosis scale.)

Live is a different story. They were fantastic. They played like a real band, not a cobbled-together supergroup. The best tracks from the album were better live; I particularly liked seeing/hearing Wino and Scott Kelly trade off on vocals. Their vocal styles are so incredibly different, but they fit together perfectly in the live setting (whereas on the record I found Wino’s vocals a tad bit annoying). Their guitar styles are also incredibly different, and seeing them live gave me new perspective to how their guitar lines fit together in the compositions. Getting to see and hear Al Cisneros do his thing in a full-band setting rather than the stripped-down context of Om was a real treat, too. His first “aaaaaaaahhhhh” vocal drone in “Pyramid of the Moon” was as powerful as any moment I’ve seen with Om. And Dale Crover on drums? Sick. Of the four members’ “main” bands, Shrinebuilder sounds the least like Melvins, but Crover definitely puts his personal stamp on the music nonetheless.

Cosmo Lee kind of stole my thunder with his review of the band’s L.A. show, the only show they played before the Baltimore show I saw. Go read it. I agree with him. (Also, here are my photos from the show.)

As an aside, one of the opening bands, U.S. Christmas, is a definite candidate for the most rhythmically boring rock band ever to employ two drummers. Seriously, why?

Music for swine flu

Monday, May 11th, 2009

I’ve been AWOL for a while because I’ve been dealing with my own personal version of swine flu. Worse than any flu I can remember having, but not THE swine flu. Anyway, I’m more or less back, my head has recovered to the point that listening to music no longer makes me want to plug my ears while grimacing in agony, and I’ll be posting again.

Tomorrow I go see Mastodon, Kylesa and Intronaut. Really I’m most interested in Kylesa. The more I listen to the new Mastodon the more I sigh in sadness at how they’ve changed. Cosmo Lee pretty much sums up my feelings: “After only a minute, I was violently allergic. That singing - ouch. I felt as if an old friend had showed up in a shiny new Hummer. Something had changed irreparably.”

Yeah.

Lady Gaga and Agoraphobic Nosebleed together at last

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Well, not really, but I’m going to talk about both of them in one blog post, and that’s probably as close as they should ever get to each other. Mostly I just read two excellent pieces of music journalism and wanted to share excerpts.

In this New Yorker piece on Lady Gaga, the pop singer who, as the article points out, breaks the norm by being influenced more by European techno than American hip-hop:

Call it The Question of Endurance. You and your friends are talking about music, and the conversation turns to a popular band. You express support. A friend voices her opinion, maybe as favorable as yours, but appends a qualifier: “I like them, but will they be around in ten years?” You may feel compelled to defend whomever it is you’re talking about, covering the present moment and the future with your positive take. After trying this approach, though, you realize that pop music has no Constitution and doesn’t operate like a de-facto Supreme Court: precedent is not always established, and isn’t even necessary. Pop rarely accretes in a tidy, serial manner—it zigs, zags, eats itself, and falls over its shoelaces.

Even better is Cosmo Lee’s Pitchfork review of Agorapocalypse. This dude also writes for Decibel and runs the excellent Invisible Oranges blog, so he knows his metal. That said, I disagree with his review here, but it’s still a great piece of writing.

As plastic percussion flailed away below thrash and death metal riffs, the various vocalists of Agoraphobic Nosebleed extolled drugs, guns, and fucking. It was the sound of civilization’s decline, sold at Toys “R” Us with hazardous metal parts… This aesthetic culminated in 2003’s Altered States of America, which crammed 100 songs into 20 minutes. It was not an album so much as a temper tantrum.

He concludes that “Agorapocalypse is disappointingly listenable,” a sentiment I understand. I just think he’s off base.