A humorous but important message regarding the current pandemic.
GETTING MORE TALE #817: Breaking Up With a Radio Station Girl
What followed this was actually one of the top five worst weeks of my life. I was house and dog sitting for my parents, when I suddenly got a throat infection. So I got dumped by this girl, I can’t swallow anymore, I’m taking care of two houses and a stubborn dog, that’s enough to handle already. Schnauzers, you know how they are. Well this one particular bad schnauzer is named Ani. Ani pooped herself and got all the poop matted in her butt fur. It was stuck in there so bad that I had to cut it out with a scissors, and then bathe her, all just minutes before I had to leave for work. And then, just when I thought that the week was over and things would get back to normal soon, I busted my glasses. I was scraping the ice off my windshield, and I slipped. I somehow got caught onto the antenna which sprung loose and thwacked me right in the face. My glasses, minus one lens, were down in the snow. A fucking brilliant week.
Many of the old Record Store Tales today seem unfinished. So I dated a Radio Station Girl — what happened next?
It was close to the end of winter 2003. It was a week much like this one. Elli was coming down to spend the weekend. She worked two jobs. Due to her shifts at the radio station and the Blockbuster Video, we usually only got a few hours together before she had to head to another job. She surprised me earlier in the week with a visit at the Record Store. Since she was living in Stratford without a car, that surprise visit made my day. In an email she even called me the “best boyfriend ever” for the first time. Yes, this weekend was going to be awesome! Everything was coming up Mikey.
I drove down to Stratford to pick her up on the Saturday night. Something was immediately off. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked her if she was hungry. She answered, in a strange child-like voice, “Chick-en”.
“Yeah you want some chicken? Do you want me to stop for some McNuggets?”
That was all I could get out of her. It was a bad sign. The entire weekend was…cold. She was unaffectionate and distant. I couldn’t figure it out. She didn’t seem interested in anything and even though she was supposed to stay Monday night too, she bailed early.
Everything felt wrong. When the week resumed and everybody was back to work, she stopped responding to my emails. I thought I was the “best boyfriend ever”. Now I couldn’t even get the time of day.
And I was starting to feel sick again. My throat was sore. I toiled through the week and I was supposed to see Elli again on the weekend. I hoped to resolve whatever was going on between us, but I already knew it was over. Before I left the house on Sunday night to see her, I told a friend that I was “going out to get dumped by a girl.”
I was disappointed at best, and very angry at worst, that I had to drive to Stratford for her to dump me. The third and final breakup. At least she did it in person. She said she was applying for jobs at radio stations coast to coast. I offered to help, adding “but I don’t think you really want my help.” I was right. She didn’t want anyone tying her to home, and it was over for good this time. I put on my coat and boots and headed back to Kitchener.
I was seething with anger, but the sore throat was lingering, making everything worse.
My parents bought me some Chloroseptic throat spray, which temporarily helped. But I didn’t realize (because I hadn’t seen a doctor in 14 years) was that I had a full-on throat infection. Before too long the pain was unmanageable.
The parents were going on a trip and I was housesitting and dogsitting for them. This was the beginning of one of the legendary Top Five worst weeks of my life. The parents bought groceries for the week. I was really looking forward to the jalapeño potato chips that I picked out, but I couldn’t get even one down. My throat was ablaze with hot, stinging pain. It was like I had a molten hot steel ball bearing in my throat. Every swallow hurt, even when lubricated with ice water. The infection had also screwed up my taste buds and everything was sour. I was a sad sack of shit on top of it all. Even the dog couldn’t cheer me up.
It was a harsh winter. Scraping the ice off my car, I caught myself on the antenna. It came back and hit me right in the face, knocking a lens out of my glasses. That was it – rock bottom. I had enough. Or so I thought.
I remember lying in bed in pain, unable to swallow. I prayed to God. I said, “I can handle being dumped, and I can handle this sore throat, but I can’t handle both at the same time.” I couldn’t get any time off work. There was nobody available to fill in, except for half a day on the Friday. I realized I didn’t have a choice and would have to see a doctor.
On the Thursday, just as I was leaving for work, the dog took a shit, got it all matted in her butt fur, and proceeded to wipe herself on the carpet. I chased her around in frustration, dunked her fighting into the wash bin, got a pair of scissors, and painstakingly cut all the shit out. I cleaned the carpet and headed to work in sad frustration.
Like a miracle, my throat cleared up on the Friday. I didn’t need to go to the doctor.
My heart took a little longer to heal. But heal it did. VoiVod released a new album on March 3 and that was the start of it. It was their first album with Snake on lead vocals in a decade, and their first ever with “Jasonic” (Jason Newsted) on bass. The lead single was an old fashioned speed rocker called “We Carry On”. The title spoke to me as much as the riffs.
Music heals all…except throat infections.
So we are ready for more adventures?
No crystal ball to see the future.
Driven by a need to create,
On every mile we ride our fate.
In my heart,
In my soul,
In my blood,
In my bones.
It really does make you feel strong,
Like you would be forever young.
Day after day sharing and giving,
Reinventing the ways of thinking.
In my heart,
In my soul,
In my blood,
In my bones,
In my hands,
On my face,
In my eyes,
Here’s my rage.
This is our time,
This is our song,
This is our lives,
We carry on.
No need to say, it’s far from pure,
Once you’ve touched it, there is no cure.
We ride our way throughout the sun,
We just got here, and now we’re gone.
In my dreams,
In my hope,
In my fear,
In my goals,
In the sky,
In the light,
This is our time,
This is our song,
This is our lives,
We carry on.
My first CD purchases of 2019 were based on lists:
Tom and Meat both praised the new Voivod, so was a must. The Meat Man happened to be online when I was giving first spin to both. I struck up a conversation about the new Voivod, which went something like this:
He said it way better than I could. They are The Voivod and even with two “newer” members (guitarist Chewy and bassist Rocky), they still sound exactly like The Voivod. A large part of this is singer/lyricist Snake, who has a voice identified with Voivod. Away (drums) is also a vital component, always supplying the quirky rhythms and sci-fi cover art.
The Wake is a concept album but the story isn’t obvious on one listen. “Scrolling down in paradise, absorbed by your next device.” The setting is certainly familiar. What The Wake does is bring classic progressive melodic elements into The Voivod. This creates a swirly metal landscape, past present and future.
This is going to be an album that requires several spins before a deeper analysis. Voivod’s icy brand of Quebec heavy metal can be cold as a Canadian winter. Voivod will be getting plenty of play before it warms up again.
1. “Obsolete Beings” 5:35
2. “The End of Dormancy” 7:42
3. “Orb Confusion” 6:00
4. “Iconspiracy” 5:16
5. “Spherical Perspective” 7:41
6. “Event Horizon” 6:11
7. “Always Moving” 5:12
8. “Sonic Mycelium” 12:24
Before we get going on our final list (which is a good one I assure you), I’d like to say a few words about irony.
Every year before we went to a new on-site voting system, Tom would rant and rave about getting our Sausagefest lists in. “PAY YOUR ROCK AND ROLL TAXES”, went the mantra. He’d make posts and memes about it. Hell, I’ve posted some of his memes!
So the irony is, Tom the Taxman was last with his 2018 list for me this year. That’s all. Tom, the guy always wanting the lists in early…was last with his list.
In his defence he said, “Whoa…there was no timeline or due date…as far as I’m concerned I have until the 31st at 11:59.” He then goes on to throw Uncle Meat under the bus! “Meat stole most of mine, he didn’t even have a list two weeks ago…”
That almost sounds like “the dog ate my homework!” More irony? Tom’s a teacher!
Onto the mighty list!
TOP 16 OF 2018
14. Mos Generator – Shadowlands
Doomy, stonery, riffy, heavy…revolutionary? Nah…just rawk!
13. Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe
A return to form…Wished I liked the Alex Lifeson track more, but it’s a meandering mess…
12. Yes – Fly From Here (Return Flight)
Originally recorded in 2011, this version has Trevor Horn on lead vocals and a couple more bells and whistles. With Horn at the helm it features the lineup that produced 1980’s grossly under-rated Drama album. Any fan of that masterpiece will find much to like here. (But probably not Steve Howe’s vocal debut “Don’t Take No For An Answer” which would work much better as a B-side, or better yet a No-side.)
11. Brant Bjork – Mankind Woman
Is there a cooler dude alive? Probably not. He was a driving force in both Fu Manchu and the mighty Kyuss for fuck sake…This slice of classic heavy rock is direct yet it does have flavours of blues, jazz and even bit of funk that spices it up. Solid rawk!
10. Ghost – Prequelle
Love the sax…hate their homage to Asia, “Dance Macabre”…Overall, Satanic ear honey…which they’ve done better before.
9. Magpie Salute – High Water I
Is it the Black Crowes? Not really…But it comes from the same rock’n’roll, Americana and southern blues spring…And it has Marc fucking Ford on it…looking forward to High Water II this year.
8. Adam’s House Cat – Town Burned Down
One of the odder releases this year…since it was recorded over 20 years ago. The little rock ‘n’ roll acorn that would grow into the mighty oak that is the Drive-By Truckers. Not just a curio however, but great, gritty American rock (with smatterings of early R.E.M.).
7. Necromancers – Blood & Wine
Sophomore slump? Only if you compare it to their phenomenal debut (my #1 last year). A heavy dose of guitar riffage from Satan’s apothecary.
6. John Prine – Tree of Forgiveness
My favourite songwriter. Darkly comic with a heart of pure gold. Writes about the essence of a situation, and sings them in a way that you know it’s the truth. I love this man.
5. The Sword – Used Future
Played the shit outta this…Love how they’re stretching out with their sound and finding ways out of the metal box…but still retaining the noodly rock greatness that keeps them heavy.
4. Voivod – The Wake
I just knew this sucker was going to be good…their last few have been great (Target Earth a gem)…but I didn’t think it was going to be this good. Thrash, punk, prog, jazz…King Crimson at there most pissed off and ragged…You know you’re listening to a Voivod album and that these francophone fucks are still giving a shit! I love the variance of the tempos and textures of the songs that allow the riffs to burrow deep.
3. Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions
God damn! These guys cannot make a shitty album. Heavy groove merchants with wickedly fun and fucked-up lyrics that always put a smile on my face as I belt them out. This album would make this list for the strutting horn-driven “In Walks Barbarella” alone… Making heavy metal fun and in-the-pocket funky…
2. Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back
These guys should be huge. Their diverse influences are expanding their heavy metal pallet, and it is all so fucking cool. Orange Fucking Goblin baby!
1. Crazy Bull – The Past Is Today
Thanks to Classic Rock’s July free CD I was turned on to this album of southern fried heavy riff rock at it’s groovy gritty best. Skynyrd, Hatchet and more than a few nods to Brits Wishbone Ash. Sumptuous riffs, and leads and solos that put a smile on your face….
Thanks to Tom for his awesome list. I’m placing an Amazon order for Tenacious D and Voivod right now!
A couple lists arrived late this year, so let’s keep rolling with ’em! (The lateness of the lists will be addressed next post.)
I witnessed Dr. Dave Haslam play in four bands this year: 1. Mickey Straight 2. Nancy Vicious & the Nasty Bitches 3. The Helen Keller Band 4. Max the Axe. He has the rock and roll skills and credentials, so pay attention. Here’s the good Dr. Dave!
DR. DAVE’S TOP “TEN” FOR 2018
When I glance over my (extended) list for this year, I must admit to being a little underwhelmed. There are some pleasant surprises, but other than the last few entries of my list nothing much really kicked the pants off me. Mind you, I might have slept on an album or two that I may hold in high regard a year or two from now because that’s how I roll. If last year was the year of progressive doom for me, this year is more all over the place. There are some usual suspects and a few true outliers.
First, a few “close but no cigar” awards go to:
- Sleep – The Sciences
- Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe
- Sargeist – Unbound
- Yob – Our Raw Heart
- Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back
tl;dd (“too late; didn’t digest”):
- Ihsahn – Amr
- Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Wasteland
- Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (shit, this one is insane – proggy death metal that all of a sudden drops into slow jazz bass lines and then a sax solo – WTF? I will be listening to this a lot over the next year…4 and a half minutes into this album – what the utter fuck? WOW.)
- Failure – In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing From Your Mind (LOVE this band – didn’t hear this much, and it’s not as immediately engaging as their last one, but anything new by them is a real treat).
Starting at the bottom…
12. Judas Priest – Firepower
I’ve pretty much avoided Judas Priest in recent years. Of course I respect the hell out of them as one of a handful of bands that invented heavy metal, but I have a bone to pick with them. A band like Black Sabbath has given birth not only to metal itself but to various sub-genres like stoner metal and doom (even thrash, see “Symptom of the Universe”), and anyone familiar with my recent lists knows that I loves me the doom, particularly when it gets pushed in more progressive directions, like Pallbearer and Elder. And I’ve certainly indulged in the stoner over the years. BUT – other than Manowar (a band I have never cared for), Judas Priest is perhaps most responsible for spawning “power metal.” And therein lies the problem. Power metal is easily my least favorite type of metal (well, besides tungsten, because fuck tungsten). And so, in my own petty, meagre, utterly irrelevant way, I have been punishing them for that. The thing is, Firepower is a really good album. That new kid has learned his lessons well! Respect.
So this gets a little fucky because, in terms of their discography, this album sits solidly in the bottom half in terms of quality. But it was a nice surprise (they are Ukrainian, and I had no idea that it was even being made, let alone released). They’ve still got the kind of skewed, deliciously dissonant riffage that made me fall for them in the first place, but the last couple of albums have presented a diminishing returns problem.
The best thing that ever happened to English black metal (as far as I’m concerned) decided to throw a curveball and release a totally acoustic album full of plaintive, melancholic, beautiful songs based on old English poems and folktales. This is some prime Hobbit-diddling music (if you’re into that sort of thing – I prefer dwarf-tossing and elf-peeping, like my good friend Peeping Tom Bombadil). Definitely Game of Thrones soundtrack-worthy, and it’s great to have on in the background when doing chores, or you want to grade student papers without approaching that particular task like Ramsay Bolton.
As Tom Morwood once said, “Clutch just don’t make bad albums.” Agreed! This album is a bit of a let down still, because I simply haven’t loved it as much as the previous two. But fuck it, it’s Clutch. “In Walks Barbarella” is one of the songs of the year.
These German science nerds write concept albums about ENTIRE EPOCHS OF EARTH’S FUCKING GEOLOGICAL AND BIOLOGICAL HISTORY. I didn’t think they were going to top 2013’s Pelagial, and I don’t think they have. This album has a song on it called “Age of Sea Scorpions” and all I can picture is Klaus Meine, leather glistening, striding out from the prehistoric sea towards some damp scorpion the size of a Winnebago, which awaits him, on the leafy beach, to do battle.
7. Ghost – Prequelle
Let the roasting begin! Ha. I really only love half of this album (“Rats,” “Faith,” “Witch Image,” the instrumentals). It’s a shame that the band is such a dictatorship, but they wouldn’t be Ghost without it. Tobias Forge’s more saccharine tendencies are let loose on this album, and unless you are in the right mood they can really make America grate again. But it’s intrinsically cheesy, and they (he) were always looking to be bigger, and more, than just a metal band. But if it really is him writing the riffs to “Rats,” then I say hats off to him (not that it’s rocket surgery, but still). There IS too much fluff on this album, and I can’t really object when people say the first album is their best. Now, if “Square Hammer” had been on this album instead of “See The Light,” then this would be a different conversation. Come to think of it, why wasn’t it?
An Immortal album without Abbath? How is that going to work?
Quite well, actually.
I loved Abbath’s first solo album (it was my #1 last year), and if this doesn’t quite have the highs of that album, it is, if anything, more consistent. One thing Abbath can do better than Immortal-without-Abbath is groove in mid-tempo, though this album does try to do that in songs like “Gates to Blasyrkh.” But they basically end up repeating bits from Sons of Northern Darkness. But NCG doesn’t care much about the mid-tempo, and the drummer is the same axe-wielding cave-dweller, and this has blast-beats all over the place. When you are riding in to do battle against the trolls on the back of a huge wolf, this is what you want or your iPod.
Not the first time Austin Lunn has featured on my list, and probably not the last. If you’re going to combine black metal with bluegrass/Americana, and do it incredibly well, then at some point you’re going to have a surfeit of material, and start thinking about releasing a double album. But you’ll split the black metal side and the hillbilly pickin’ into separate albums and release them as one package. It’s like if the Odd Couple had to make an album, but instead of collaborating on songs they made their own distinct albums. But they really were in love the whole time, and despite the glaring disconnections they belong together. Just, you know, in separate rooms. But the black metal part is not to be denied because all of the traditionally obnoxious stuff (well, not all of it…) is minimized, and it has a very organic feel, particularly in the drum department. And the countryish stuff on the second album is completely convincing.
And now for something completely different. Lubomyr Melnyk was born in Ukraine and came to Canada as a wee lad and has earned himself the title of fastest pianist in the world. But if you think that sounds like Yngwie Malmsteen shred-wankery on a piano you’d be missing the mark by a wide margin. The compositions are quite beautiful, and from what I can tell the density of the notes come from each hand playing intersecting arpeggios with the sustain pedal on all the time, resulting in what Melnyk calls “continuous music.” The result is a complex cascade of notes that is more mesmerizing than indecipherable. I can almost feel brain cells re-growing as I listen to this stuff. It’s hard to find actual recordings of him, which is a shame since he has spent time homeless (in Winnipeg, no less), and deserves far more attention as a Canadian musical treasure.
Matt Fucking Pike. This shirtless metal titan has made many a year-end list either for Sleep or High on Fire. I’m sure the 28-year-old me would have jizzed all over The Sciences, but for several years I’ve preferred to board the High on Fire train, and like Clutch they never disappoint. They really took it up a notch with Snakes for the Divine in 2010, and there are moments on this album that recall the mammoth and indescribably awesome title track of that fantastic album. That can only be a good thing, but I also get the sense that Pike is steadily progressing as a guitar player and songwriter. It’s as vicious as ever, but there’s more science to the heaviosity now.
Snake and Away are doing their thing just fine, but it’s the new guys who own this album. Rocky’s bass guitar tone is mid-rangy but still has balls, and his ear for what the riff requires is impeccable. And Chewy? How do you innovate without alienating the ancient ones? How do you pay homage to tradition without sounding derivative? Chewy has all the answers. Best thing they’ve done since The Outer Limits.
Slugdge has been a small obsession of mine for the past year (along with Failure, and if you don’t know them then you need to get with the program). Hail Mollusca! How can “technical death metal” be so catchy? Take a bunch of Akercocke, a good bit of Carcass, throw in some Mastodon and Gojira for spice, and you’ll have all kinds of slimy, invertebrate fun. Now that they’ve acquired a human drummer, I can’t wait to see where they go next. Perhaps on the road, and not just in England? Please?
Other random entertainment mentions:
The Expanse – it might be a tad pat to call it Game of Thrones in space, but it kind of is, and it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than the last couple of Star Wars movies. Just more evidence that long-form television can kick the shit out of Hollywood almost any day of the year, and the exceptions are increasingly fewer and farther between.
Failure – I remember 20 years ago when you couldn’t cruise the bargain bin of any music store without seeing a copy of Fantastic Planet, and now I’d pay top dollar for one of those things. They are back and mean business, picking up right where they left off. Spacey, arty, but still accessible, they were covered by A Perfect Circle way back when, and they are just as good a band. 2015’s The Heart is a Monster is itself a monster. This band needs more love.
Solo – Don’t know, haven’t watched. Do I want to? Frankly, I don’t know. If it’s too much like The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi then I might just pass. Why is it so hard to use some of that insane Disney money to hire someone that can write a script that is interesting, creative, and compelling, and doesn’t rip off the earlier movies over and over again? Why is it so hard to write dialogue that doesn’t have me rolling my fucking eyes every three minutes? Is that too much to ask? Fun fact: 75% (at least) of any screenplay is people talking to each other. If you can’t do that well, then your script sucks. Pretty simple math, actually. Either start over, or delegate the task to someone with talent.*
* Way to rant about a movie you’ve never seen Haslam! At least he hates tungsten.
Man of few words, but many lists: Uncle Meat presents his top movies, albums, and disappointments of 2018!
TOP 10 MOVIES
1. Bohemian Rhapsody
2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
4. A Futile and Stupid Gesture
5. Avengers: Infinity War
7. A Star is Born
9. Ant-Man and the Wasp
10. Black Panther
* LeBrain’s comment: I’m pleased to see the MCU and Coens make strong showings here, but Solo surprises me.
TOP 10 ALBUMS
1. The Wake – Voivod
2. Used Future – The Sword
3. The Tree of Forgiveness – John Prine
4. The Sciences – Sleep
5. Town Burned Down – Adam’s House Cat
6. The Wolf Bites Back – Orange Goblin
7. Mankind Woman – Brant Bjork
8. Our Raw Heart – YOB
9. Spaceman – Ace Frehley
10. Triumphant Hearts – Jason Becker
DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2018
1. Tenacious D – Post Apocalyptico (Both the animated show and album)
2. Kiss completely playing to tracks live
3. Troy Tulowitzki
4. LeBrain’s Porn Debut
* You can’t please everybody!
Part 2 of a 2 part series. Click here for part 1, Katorz.
Who would have thought that little band from Quebec, VoiVod, could have survived so much adversity. The death of Denis “Piggy” D’Amour (guitar) in 2005 should have been the end, but yet the band has soldiered on with two albums utilizing his guitar parts recorded just before his death. In addition, unbelievably, the band has even continued on with returned original bassist Blacky (Jean-Yves Thériault) and new guy Chewy (Dan Mongrain) on guitar!
For those who don’t know, shortly before Piggy died of cancer, he had been working hard at recording every idea he had onto a hard drive. He explained to the band, that if they went into his PC they would find hours of meticulously recorded music and detailed instructions on how to use it. From there, Away (drummer Michel Langevin), Snake (singer Denis Belanger) and Jasonic (bassist Jason Newstead, ex-Metallica) buckled down and created the surprisingly awesome Katorz. Incredibly there was still enough music left to create one more album, 2009’s Infini. The fact that both albums are excellent, coherant pieces that add to the already rich VoiVod body of work is nothing short of astounding. It is a tribute to Piggy as an artist and as a person.
What VoiVod have created here is yet another astounding progressive metal headbanging experience. Loads of droning Piggy chords, odd Piggy solos, insane time changes, and cool lyrics abound. Snake’s lyrics are both thought provoking and cool sounding through a Francophone lens. Even the song titles alone evoke multiple images.
I’m pleased that the band has continued on with Blackie and Chewy. Their last album, Target Earth was also challenging and excellent. But that’s another review. For now I am blown away and grateful that the band have created two monstrously great albums in a row after the death of the man who seemingly defined their sound. As a metal fan, and as a fellow Canadian, I am proud of our metal heritage. I feel Piggy is a huge part of that heritage (the CD itself has Maple Leafs and Fleurs-de-lis emblazoned upon it), and I hope his music continues to live on in the new VoiVod.
“God Phones,” “Destroy After Reading,” “In Orbit,” and “Earthache”. I love the thunderous chorus in “Earthache”: “Blah, blah blah, is that all you say?”
Infini is not quite the album that Katorz was, it’s more challenging and abrasive, but it’s definitely one to be proud of. Very few bands could produce an album of this complexity and intensity.
Part 1 of a 2 part series
When Piggy (Denis D’Amour) passed away of colon cancer in 2005, I thought it spelled the end of VoiVod. It was such a sudden, unforeseen tragedy. He was only diagnosed that year; the cancer had spread so rapidly that any operation was deemed impossible. However, Piggy loved VoiVod and he loved music. Knowing his end was near, he recorded hours of new music with his guitar onto a computer. Before passing he instructed the band on how to access the music he’d left them, and they realized the VoiVod dream was not dead. Away (Michel Langevin), Snake (Denis Belanger) and Jasonic (ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted) painstakingly went through his final recordings and realized there was an album there. (In fact there were two albums there, but that’s another story.)
Katorz (“fourteen”, their 14th release) was assembled from these parts. It is a loving tribute to the man who defined the VoiVod sound, and it is a gift to us, the fans. As Canadians, we should be very proud of VoiVod. They never made it big like Rush, although Rush certainly took them under their collective wings on the Presto tour. Their sound is anything but commercial — it’s a stunning, disorienting array of unusual droning chords, complex themes and precision drumming. The band have also inserted some of Piggy’s beautiful final acoustic passages in between songs as transistions, all of which are haunting statements about his impending death. Piggy was not known for his acoustic work, until now, which makes it that much more powerful. (The band has suggested in the past that there may be an entire Piggy acoustic album to come.)
Through all the hardship, VoiVod have only perfected their art of songwriting. The songs on Katorz are among the best of the VoiVod back catalogue. They have come far from their thrash metal n’ studs roots. From the band that once did a thrash version of the “Batman” theme, their music is still heavy. The complexity that they gradually began integrating in the mid-80’s is tied together with more melody and groove. Certainly, you can find few drummers as talented as Away, and his drumming here is astounding. Away jumps from time change to time change effortlessly.
The always nasal whine of Snake will not appeal to all, but it is part of the VoiVod sound and identity, and his lyrics are as jittery and potent as ever. To me it’s like Megadeth. I can’t handle a lot of Mustaine’s singing in a day, but in small doses it’s quite palatable.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Katorz is that you cannot tell that anything is wrong with Piggy or the band. His playing is as unique as ever, pushing the boundaries as he always has. Check out the noise solo on “Mr. Clean” and you’ll see that Piggy was stretching out to the very end. Song-wise, Katorz is seamless. It sounds as if the band wrote and recorded it together, as they always have. There is a certain coldness to Katorz, but that’s VoiVod.
Katorz is thinking-man’s metal. It is over-caffeinated, constantly pushing the extremes (X-Streams?) and restless. More importantly, it is a tribute to one of the great guitarists that made Canada proud. Piggy was great not because of his speed or dexterity, but because of his sonic uniqueness. Piggy’s sound was like no other, droning and headache-inducing, just like VoiVod’s music. Our country is a sadder place without him.
The whole album, but especially “The Getaway”, “Odds & Frauds” and “The X-Stream”.
A beautiful noisy mess. 4.5/5 stars.
Updated with photos of this cool limited edition autographed CD!
NEWSTED – Metal (2013 EP, iTunes and Jasonic Music)
Oh man! If this doesn’t kick off 2013 with a bang, I don’t know what will!
This four song EP is some of the coolest heavy metal tunage that these aged ears have heard in recent days. Newsted (the band) consists of: Jason Newsted, bass & lead vocals, with Jesus Mendez Jr. on drums and Jessie Farnsworth on guitar. No, I never heard of those two guys either, but who cares? This EP smokes from start to finish!
Jason’s vocals are reminiscent of his former bandmate’s, Snake, from Voivod. Even musically, Newsted has more in common with Voivod than Metallica. The first song, “Soldierhead”, rocks like a Motorhead outtake on rocket fuel, with those snakey Voivod vocals. Then it really kicks into a Voivod vibe, accompanied by some thrashy soloing.
The second track, “Godsnake”, slows the pace to an ominous crawl. Jason spits the words out like venom. It’s an infectious groove, with a total Fu Manchu guitar solo.
“King of the Underdogs” starts with some slow, evil metal pickin’, but settles into a slammin’ groove in short order. Jason’s bass is delicious, but once again, it’s the vocal I’m addicted to. “I am the king…I am the king…I am the king of the underdogs, you know that’s my name!” snarls Jason. The chorus is infectious, and the solo is eerie goodness.
“Skyscraper”, the final song, is not a David Lee Roth cover, thankfully, but in fact is a Sabbathy riff monster. Once again, when the vocal kicks in, I can’t help but think of Voivod. But that’s OK. I like Voivod. I’ve played this EP a number of times now, but I can’t pick a favourite tune. All four are great, old school metal tunes with grit, groove, bite and melody.
Of interest: the songs are (coincidentally?) in order from shortest to longest.
Initially this was an iTunes only release. Then, after I bought that, Jason announced a limited autographed physical CD release. Me being a lover of physical product (and autographs) I ordered that here:
I love the vinyl look of the actual CD. The packaging has photos and lyrics. It’s a nice little cardboard sleeve with that bitchin’ Newsted logo.
Jason has also said that this is the first of three EPs. Count me in for the next one. Can Jason deliver more of this metal devastation? Let’s find out.
It’s easy to think back just one year and remember how we couldn’t wait to see if the new Van Halen would be a triumph or disaster. Now it’s the end of the year once again, and as long as the world doesn’t end on December 21, there are some cool releases lined up for the new year.
What are you most excited for? Is there something in particular that you KNOW you’ll be buying before you hear a single note?
I have five must-buys in 2013. Here’s my list.
This could end up being a total disaster. Replacing a beloved (albeit knife-weilding) original frontman with a relative unknown is a huge risk. Kudos to the band for trying, I’ll play along. The key will be to walk a fine line between avoiding a retread of the past, and reminding fans how good they used to be. Not an easy task. Will Todd La Torre be up for it? Time will tell.
4. MOTLEY CRUE
Nikki has said the band is writing music to follow the lacklustre single “Sex”. They’ve got tour dates with Kiss lined up in the new year. I’ll admit I’m actually not that excited about a new Motley release, but I have been faithfully following this band through ups and downs through their entire career. I even bought New Tattoo!
3. VOIVOD – Target Earth
This one has a confirmed release date of January 22. Although some may say that the idea of a new Voivod album without the late guitarist Piggy is sacrilege, life goes on. This is the first album in over two decades with Blackie on bass. From what I’ve heard of the first single, “Kluskap O’Kom”, it does sound like Voivod. I’ll be supporting the boys in 2013, count on reading my review in the new year.
2. BLACK SABBATH
Some might say that the idea of an “original” Sabbath album without Bill Ward is sacrilege! Hell, I might be one of them! But I love this band, and I have to have faith that the combined might of Sabbath plus Rick Rubin will produce something worthwhile. Will “Scary Dreams” be on there? I sure hope so. First album with Tommy Clufetos on drums, a much more metronomic drummer, so I wonder if Sabbath can capture that loose vibe of the precious first 8.
1. DEEP PURPLE
Confirmed for an April 26 release. Confirmed that Bob Ezrin is producing. Confirmed song titles: “Out Of Hand,” “Hell To Pay,” “Weirdistan,” “Uncommon Man” and “Above and Beyond.” “Above and Beyond” is a tribute to late organist Jon Lord, who passed away far too soon. “Weirdistan”? I love it. That title can only come from Ian Gillan. Astoundingly this is the fifth album with Steve Morse and third with Don Airey. And some said they’d never last without Blackmore! I will most definitely be pre-ordering whatever cool editions the band has lined up.
What are you psyched about in the new year? I want to hear from you.