Elder

#892 Perspective 2020: With Dr. Dave

#892: Perspective 2020: With Dr. Dave

Dr. Dave Haslam is the drummer for Max the Axe. A swell guy, but also a bit difficult to get to follow simple instructions. I asked him for a Top 11 of 2020 and he didn’t get it in on time. Dr. Dave doesn’t do deadlines.  However it’s a good list, so we’re re-framing it today as a treatise on some good things that happened in a pretty shitty year.  Perspective 2020:  with Dr. Dave.  Eleven good things that happened in 2020.  A Nigel Tufnel Top Ten!

 


  1. Blue Oyster CultThe Symbol Remains

There’s life in them yet, with enough variety and new blood to maintain interest. It compares particularly well to Ozzy and AC/DC. The former needs to just go away, while the latter has, let’s face it, become the absolute epitome of Dad Rock: safe, comfortable, predictable, and boring as FUCK. BOC still has its tongue planted firmly in cheek, though whose cheek it is remains in question.

 

  1. WayfarerA Romance With Violence

One of the best things about black metal in this century is how it can incorporate different styles, and it was only a matter of time before someone spliced it with a Morricone-spaghetti western feel. Weird heavy stuff coming from Colorado these days.

 

  1. SolstafirEndless Twilight of Codependent Love

Iceland ain’t all Bjork and Sigur Ros. Their black metal scene is led by these lads who have been dialing-up the post-rock on recent albums. Black metal at its best is (barely) controlled fury, but this is not what you’re getting here; rather, it’s like the aftermath of that: the veteran barbarian, grown wistful in retirement, drinking his mead and reflecting on past conquests.

 

  1. Paradise LostObsidian

Their late-career groove continues with another consistent slab of darkly melodic metal with well-timed nods to their earlier stylistic detours.

 

  1. Killer Be KilledReluctant Hero

Supergroups don’t always stick around long enough to make a second album, and it’s great that these guys did. Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly), Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) and Ben Koller (Converge) combine for an album that is both heavy and catchy. They use the three different vocalists really well, and the heaviness is a solid blend of the bands they come from. “From a Crowded Wound” might be the core of the album, but the title-track might be my song of the year; supposedly about losing a parent to Alzheimer’s, it’s reminiscent of “Hurt” (yes, that one), before Puciato takes the second half of the song by the neck to a triumphant denouement. If there is a better response to the shitshow of 2020, I don’t know of it.

 

  1. PallbearerForgotten Days

Less immediate than the one before, this album took some distracted listening in my car for it to truly sink in. Though all of the plastic in the dashboard looked and sounded like it was going to disintegrate, I found myself actually singing along to it: me, who’s all about the holy trinity of guitar, bass, and drums. When doom lets the likes of Boston and Kansas shine through, good things happen.

 

  1. Hum – Inlets 

Even more surprising than the BOC album was this. Like Failure five years ago, another promising band from the 90s that didn’t take off like they should have released new stuff. Shoegazy with thick, stonerish-riffage and sharp hooks. STILL waiting for the goddamn cd, though. Grrrrr.

 

  1. WinterfyllethThe Reckoning Dawn

Still some of the catchiest black metal out there. After an entirely acoustic album, this sees them roaring back with some of their thrashiest riffage.

 

  1. DeftonesOhms

Everything likeable about them is represented on this album. Plenty of atmosphere, groove, and riffs. A flat-out masterpiece of sonic craftsmanship from start to finish, and one of the best-produced albums I’ve heard in a long time.

 

  1. The OceanPhanerozoic II: Mesozoic/Cenozoic

Germany’s heaviest nerds complete two-album concept about the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammalian life on Earth. With one foot in the ISIS/Cult of Luna school of post-metal and the other in the hypnotic prog-metal of Tool, this is like catnip for me. A baked-up headphone album for sure.

 

  1. Elder – Omens

It’s not enough that Reflections of a Floating World is a top-ten 21st century album for me, but they had to go and do this, too. Fuckers. “Halcyon” rides a similar vibe as the krautrocky “Sonntag” from the previous album, but does so better, with more depth and commitment. It’s fitting that the weakest part of the previous album becomes the nucleus for maybe the strongest song this time out (and it’s weird that they again hit me hardest with the fourth song of the album). My top 3 this year are more-or-less interchangeable, depending on my mood, but I don’t think I’m ever not in the mood for these guys. It just doesn’t happen.

 

What’s on the teevee?

Lots of television was consumed this year, and I’ll admit it – The Mandalorian was better than I thought it would be. But it’s still just popcorn, compared to which The Expanse is prime rib, with all the fixins, with a side of even more prime rib. Star Trek: Discovery was somewhere in the middle, though I found season 3 uneven: my emotional g-spot likes more subtle manipulation, and season 3 all-too-often went straight for the aggressive fisting. Ouchie! Also of note was Britannia, which was both dark and goofy while still being committed to the overall vision. Definitely a British thing. The Boys was simply The Boys, and that’s what we all want, of course. Lovecraft Country was a very interesting spin on the Cthulu mythos in a Jim Crow-era America. Cursed was okay but pretty forgettable, and The Witcher was fun enough, I guess. The biggest single disappointment was learning that there will only be one more season of The Expanse after this, the fifth. They haven’t caught up with the books yet, and I highly doubt there will be a Game of Thrones shitting of the bed, but I just can’t accept that we’re nearing the home-stretch.

Dr. Dave

 

Iron Tom’s New Sh!t That Ain’t Bad 2019

Whether you know it or not, the only list you should care about every year is Iron Tom Sharpe‘s.  If you only listen to 20 albums this year…make them these 20.


  • Brant Bjork – Jacoozzi
  • Steve Earle – Guy
  • Opeth- In Cauda Venenum
  • Death Angel – Humanicide
  • John Garcia – John Garcia & The Band Of Gold
  • Elder – Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Queensryche – The Verdict
  • Black Mountain – Destroyer
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Colorado
  • Redscale – Feed Them To The Lions
  • Frozen Planet….1969 – Meltdown On The Horizon
  • Green Lung – Woodland Rites
  • Tool – Fear Inoculum
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest
  • Ian Blurton – Signals Through the Flame
  • Valley Of The Sun – Old Gods
  • Jimi Hendrix – Songs For Groovy Children
  • Villagers of Ioannina City – Age of Aquarius (Thanks Johnny Cheddar)
  • Church Of The Cosmic Skull – Everybody’s Going To Die
  • I concur with Meat…The Talking Heads are still the shit!
  • Add Dream Theater (Distance Over Time)…just listening to it now again.  It needs to be included.

Not a great year overall…nothing truly blew me away…these are merely ones that people should check out. – Iron Tom

 

#626.5: The Big Lists of 2017 Part Five: The Mighty Meat

Uncle Meat’s Top Ten Movies of 2017

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  3. Jim and Andy : The Great Beyond – Featuring a very special, contractually obligated mention of Tony Clifton
  4. Baby Driver
  5. It
  6. Justice League
  7. Gilbert
  8. Logan
  9. Get Me Roger Stone
  10. ESPN 30 for 30 – Ric Flair: The Nature Boy

 

 

Uncle Meat’s Top Ten Albums of 2017

 

I must admit that it was hard doing this list, for the simple reason that Uncle Meat rarely likes anything new.  Call me a Fuddy-Duddy…call me stuck in the glorious past…But you cants call me Johnson.  Considering I am using a very old reference to the David Steinberg show, maybe I should just get on to 2017 instead.

 

10)  Queens of the Stone Age – Villains  – The first track on this album called “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” came out and literally kicked me in the face…pun intended.  But the rest of the album drags and is kinda forgettable.  However the aforementioned track might be my song of the year so it makes up the bottom end of this list.

 

9)   Pallbearer – Heartless   – Not as blatant as my number 10 entry, but again this is based mostly off one track. The song pointed out by Dr. Dave,  “I Saw the The End”, seems to have so many intentional or unintentional “nods” within it they are hard to count.  I have heard it reminds people of Queensryche, Iron Maiden, King’s X…etc.  But the rest of the album doesn’t seem to live up to that glorious track.

 

8)  Deep Purple – InFinite  – Yet another solid output from Morse-era Deep Purple.  Steve Morse has been in the band so long now it seems weird to keep referring to the “Morse era” anymore.  Ian Gillan is writing vocal lines that seem to better suit his limited vocal range right now.  I really like the keyboards on this album.  Even Frank put one of the tracks as his song of the year.  Listen to Frank.

 

7)  Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound  –  Someone has to mention something other than “Heavy Metal Bullshit” on this site.  2017 may have been a bit of a Metal resurgence year for me, but Jason Isbell’s 2017 offering needs to be on this list.  His lyrics are reminiscent of the great John Prine on this album.  He also rocks out a little bit more here, which is good because I found some previous album to be way too mamby-pamby and not enough guts.  Plenty of guts and beauty on this record.

 

6)  Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun  – This band was introduced to me by Doctor Doom a few years ago.  Always appreciated what they do but found it hard to get into.  A few listens of Every Country’s Sun, and it’s diverse song styles have made me more than appreciate them. It is really quite simple.  I need to hear more Mogwai.

 

5)  Steve Earle and the Dukes –  So You Wanna Be an Outlaw  – I have only had a couple listens of this in full, which just is not enough to really dig into a Steve Earle album.  But what I have heard I have loved, as per usual.  You just cant go wrong with Mr. Earle.

 

4)  Power Trip – Nightmare Logic – Was introduced to this album by a review on Banger TV (highly recommended You Tube channel run by Sam Dunn).  It was compared to Slayer’s Reign in Blood both in overall style and the album’s short running time.  Once again the past draws me in as it definitely is “old school Thrash Metal”.  Not an album I could listen to a lot, but hard not to elicit a reaction anytime it comes on.

 

3)  The Necromancers Servants of the Salem GirlIron Tom Sharpe or whatever he calls himself here on this blog introduced me to this French band that totally rocks.  Sounds like an oxymoron I know, but it indeed rocks.  I really find they remind me of Orange Goblin at times, which is a high compliment in my world.  I have found myself in the rock guitar pose frequently with this album playing.  Frank would like it.

 

2) Elder – Reflections of a Floating World  – Elder came out of absolutely nowhere for me about a month ago. Kicked my fucking ass…and soul.  Reflections of a Floating World is absolutely the greatest collection of music I heard in 2017.  I couldn’t put it number one which will be explained shortly, however it is so fucking good I would say this might be my favourite “Metal” album in many many years.  Years ago I wanted so bad to find a truly Progressive Metal band, and the closest thing I could find was Dream Theater.  But they continually had this gloss and sparkly side to them which turned me off a lot of the time.  If Pink Floyd and Kyuss had a baby, and it grew up listening to nothing but Gabriel Genesis albums, you would get Reflections of a Floating World.  The singer kinda reminds me of Perry Farrell, which seems like an odd fit but works perfectly.  No barking on this record.  The second track, “The Falling Veil”, is a song I have went to many times within the last month.  If you like good music, and have the patience to appreciate it, soak yourself in this record.  Do it, Frank.

 

1) Five Alarm Funk – Sweat  – Do I think this is the best album of 2017?  As mentioned earlier, that goes to my number 2.  However this was by far my favourite album of this year as well as my favourite band of this year.  Five Alarm Funk is Canada’s best keep secret, but subsequent albums never really captured what it was like to see this band live.  They did release a great live album in 2016, but what FAF have created with Sweat seems to be taking the energy of their live shows and writing appropriate music to suit their show.  The song “Iceberg” is as many parts Zappa and “Heavy Metal Bullshit” as it is a funk song.  Many other tracks have this groovy girth to them.  If you hear about Five Alarm Funk playing a show near you…you owe it to yourself to see Canada’s hardest working band.  The band will kick your ass and back again while you are dancing to it.  But this album will do in a pinch. Love these fucking guys.


And we love you, fuckin’ Meat!

 

#626.3: The Big Lists of 2017 Part Three: Iron Tom Sharpe

No commentary from Tom, just rock.  Pay attention, as many of these titles are recurring on these lists!

 

Tom’s Top 20 for 2017

20 Vulfpeck – Mr. Finish Line

19 The Wizards Of Delight – The Wizards Of Delight (EP)

18 Neil Young – Hitchhiker

17 Thundercat – Drunk

16 Mothership – High Strangeness

15 Steve Hackett – Night Siren

14 Deep Purple – InFinite

13 Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

12 Gov’t Mule – Revolution Come Revolution Go

11 John Garcia – The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues

10 Pallbearer – Heartless

9 Steve Earle – So You Wannabe an Outlaw

8 Elder – Reflections of a Floating World

7 Magpie Salute – Magpie Salute

6 Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound

5 Fireball Ministry – Remember the Story

4 The Obsessed – Sacred

3 The Atomic Bitchwax – Force Field

2 Five Alarm Funk – Sweat

1 The Necromancers – Servants of the Salem Girl

#626.1: The Big Lists of 2017 Part One: Dr. Dave

 

 

Dr. Dave’s Top Ten for 2017

By Dr. Dave Haslam

I can’t believe that it’s been another year and I have to do one of these things again. Where does the time go? Right into the shitter, apparently.

Anywho, where was I?

 

Not a great year, but not a terrible one, either (musically speaking). Since I’ve become something of a “standard bearer” for LeBrain, flying the dirty, blood-stained banner of METAL year after year, it should not be surprising that most of my list is metallic. I tend to gravitate towards that, though I could mention things non-metallic (Stranger Things, Godless, Big Mouth) that are not musical but which would feature in my yearly “best-of” if I did not choose to restrict myself to my top-10 musical releases of the year. And, for the record, I do like things that are not metal. Just…not so much these days. And that’s not really my fault. So…

 

10 – Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

Old-school thrash that is direct and catchy. The speed and double-bass assault is kept to a minimum, so the emphasis is on the mid-tempo swagger and the down-picked chug. Totally convincing without sounding like a nostalgia act (I hate that). There are parts that recall Slayer (the sudden accelerations) and Exodus (the tricky rhythmic shifts in some of the riffs), but, by and large, it doesn’t sound completely derivative of any particular band. Nicely done! (Question: how long are we going to have to wait, with Trump’s America, for some obscene country-rap duo named “Buy and Large” to break big? Don’t tell me you can’t imagine it. I know you can. And that is SAD!).

Song Selection: “Executioner’s Tax: (Swinging the Axe)”

 

9Paradise Lost – Medusa

So apparently there is a Halifax in England as well as in New Scotland (Latin is for jerks, word to your mother). And judging by the output of that town’s most notable musical export, it must be a really, really, REALLY gloomy place. Paradise Lost has been one of metal’s most unsung bands since the late 80s (check out Draconian Times if you think I’m fooling – that shit’s killer). They’ve made some dizzying left turns in that time, but they’ve mostly returned to their roots, which is a hybrid of doom and death metal. They’ve released better albums than Medusa in the past ten or twelve years, but I just have to include this on principle.

Song Selection: anything really, it’s all pretty much the same.

 

8 – The Necromancers – Servants of the Salem Girl

Props to Mr. Morwood for drawing my attention to this French outfit who present as a less-polished, more sprawling Ghost, filtered through some Fu Manchu and a host of other stoner/70s humping outfits. They even have a BOC feel, like in the opening track, which has a chorus reminiscent of “Astronomy.” And then, at 3:50, they bust out a runaway freight-train of a riff that recalls the finest moments of Porcupine Tree’s “Fear of a Blank Planet.” And delicious solos to boot! A band to watch as they grow and better digest their influences.

Song selection: “Salem Girl, Part 1”

 

7 – Akercocke – Renaissance in Extremis

Back in the 90s, these sincere (and snazzily-dressed) English Satanists combined death, black, and progressive metal in a manner that veered from the unsettling to the undeniable (Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone will always be their opus). In 2017, they came roaring back after a long hiatus, and though they left the Brooks Brothers’ suits behind them, they are still a complex and scary proposition. Hail Satan!

Song selection: “Disappear”

 

6 – The Obsessed – Sacred

Thankfully, I have seen Wino perform at least once. It was in Philly, at the North Star Bar, for one of Spirit Caravan’s last live performances. The man is a legend – as close as any American comes to Lemmy, and he can basically do no wrong. Revivifying The Obsessed – a band that should have become major in the late-80s/early-90s – is as good a way as any to reassert himself. Nothing fancy here, just dirty and crusty heavy rock, done right.

Song Selection:

 

5 – Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun

Ah, Mogwai. Glaswegian post-rock titans. The only live band I’ve ever seen that was louder than Mogwai was Motorhead. That…was a while ago. Nowadays, Mogwai have three basic templates: the poppy/happy Mogwai, the ambient Mogwai (which has seen them become a very-much-in-demand soundtrack band), and the crushing, guitars-up-to-twelve band that I originally fell in love with. They don’t really start cranking it up until the second half of this album, but for “Old Poisons” alone this is easily a top-ten release for me. Their melodic turns often come from left field, but that’s part of the charm. Nobody else does this shit better.

Song selection: “Old Poisons”

 

4 – Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice-Woven

I’m not, nor ever will be, a “black metal” purist or “troo kvltist.” I’m pretty sure many of those a-holes will slag this album with their last dying, frosty breath, but I don’t give a corpse-painted shit. After the demise of Agalloch, WiiTR stand alone atop the Cascadian Black Metal heap (that’s black metal from America’s Pacific Northwest for you noobs). After taking a whole lot of shit for their last album, in which they apparently let their ambient/experimental instincts take over (I’m afraid to listen to it, frankly), WiiTR have come back with an album that could stand as a “how-to” or “Idiot’s Guide” for composing black metal riffs and melodies. Each song has it’s ambient/atmospheric passages, but the riffs themselves are almost parodically perfect. The production is both modern and inviting; while “classic” black metal albums from the 90s sound like they were recorded in an over-turned dumpster, the sounds here are warm – the drums are thunderous yet precise, and the guitars are perfectly balanced between the biting and the enveloping.  This is THE record that could get any sane, functioning metalhead into black metal. It’s great. Fuck off and give it a listen. And if you let the raspy vocals put you off then you are weak, and you are why the world has gone to shite.

Song Selection:

 

3 – Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

Ho-hum. Another year, another Mastodon album in my top-10, as should be expected. “But they’re popuuular! They’re mainstreeeeeeem! They suck now!” Yeah, you know what? Go shit in your hat.

Song Selection: “Steambreather”

 

2 – Elder – Reflections of a Floating World

More of a #1b than an actual #2, this is the left hook to the next album’s right cross that made 2017 the year of progressive doom for me. Sumptuous, sprawling without being indulgent, sensitive yet strong, progressive without being a wankfest…holy shit, I can’t believe these guys are from Boston! Somehow it all hangs together in an entirely organic way. The live footage on YouTube of them performing “Sanctuary” is fantastic. Why they are on some obscure German record label is beyond me. Boston’s not that far away, you know. Throw us puckheads a fucking bone and come for a visit, Massholes!

Song Selection: “Sanctuary”

 

1 – Pallbearer – Heartless

            Heartless? I think not. This, like the Elder, has it all – dramatic arrangements, stirring melodies, and riff after riff after riff. Sure, it was kind of a cock-tease when they pre-released “I Saw The End” and it turned out to be the most directly impactful song, and arguably the best several straight minutes on the whole album. But fuck, that’s not just splitting hairs; that’s splitting the hairs on a paramecium. (Or a Porg. Now, really, what’s that deal?  I mean, look at them. They’ve got a brain the size of a very small plum. Yet one of them gets to co-pilot a spaceship? Fucking nonsense. Would you let your cat use a blender? Exactly.)

Song Selection: “I Saw The End”

 

So that’s it. Peace to you all and all your loved ones (unless they’re dicks).

And on a final note: please please please stop using the phrase “it is what it is.” It’s a tautology, and as such it is utterly devoid of any meaningful content. Seriously – just stop. It’s not Zen. It’s not wise. It’s silly. It is a form of cognitive surrender. And do we really need any MORE of that these days?

 

Dr Dave