Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm going through changes

When there’s something in your life, something that’s always there, something you take for granted, grow accustomed to, take comfort in, and then that something is suddenly gone, how are you supposed to react?

When it’s there you can develop bad habits, get lazy, at times resent it, have arguments, and begin to consider that the hard work it takes outweighs the good times. At increasingly irregular moments the highs are untouchable, but for most part the highs and lows begin to see eye to eye.

Then you see the end on the horizon, standing in the distance with a stern look and fatigued body language. It knows the difficulties that await you despite the reality that your own brain can’t calculate the loss until the funeral parade is slowly cruising away from the grave. Time passes and you ignore the inevitable, convinced the future will never arrive.

Words of restoration are exchanged but deep down you know they carry no weight. A mind has been made, and it is steadfast.

Then, with a burst of concentrated aggression, it’s all over.

The separation is awkward and fumbled. There are no handshakes simply because the mind still hasn’t accepted the fact that this goodbye is actually different.

You’re now free. Time that was once occupied is now available. You learn to accept that you no longer need what was once something you so strongly believed in. This is you moving on. This is you focusing your energy on other things. Resetting.

Time passes, then more time passes. But as is always the case something appears from nowhere, when you least expect it, standing on the horizon. Something fresh, something intriguing, tempting, standing there with a sly look and reserved body language. Show me what you've got.

The time in your mind rusts itself to a grinding crawl as eagerness advances the clock much more slowly. A contrast that mutates days into what now feel like years. Things develop organically, naturally.

(Press play. Make it loud.)

Your approach is now more confident. You appreciate this opportunity for you have accepted previously made mistakes, made adjustments, focused on your flaws. Refined.

This is what you’ve been waiting for. This combination is more powerful, potent, dynamic, and cogent. Explosive. You’ve paid your dues. Deep breaths have been taken and you’ve forged through life’s obstacles to get to this exact moment. Thrilling. Months worth of patiently bided time disintegrate in the shadow of a few hours of engrossed rapture.

And that’s it. You’ve arrived. Nothing can take it away from you. Attempts are made to strip from you what is new, what you feel you deserve, what you feel you've earned, but it is impossible. You’re a vacuum of all that is negative, taking what has been thrust upon you and pulverizing it like an industrial machine made for recycling resistance and expelling it back into the world with reliance.

You understand your abilities, your strengths. You know who you are and seize anything within your grasp and reconstruct what lacks direction. You guide.

These are familiar grounds, but you’re now greeting possibility with a firmer handshake and a confidence that has congregated in your being like a stampede. A strength in numbers braced to serve the only deserving master capable of commanding this energy: You.

Everything is summarized with an authoritative detonation. The concentrated aggression is unleashed again. Minutes crumble and step aside to the locomotive proficiency of honed ability.

You clench your teeth and suffer through what feels like a turbine-like presence standing over your shoulder releasing an unending, adamant, tenacious, caustic scream. A sound capable of blocking light. A sound so deafening that any attempts to place yourself in the moment are an exercise in absolute futility.

And then it’s gone,

But not for long.

What had once meant so much to you is now over, and you didn’t fully understand the power it held until it was returned to you. Now it’s here, and you’re unstoppable.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Moods - Choose my own adventure

A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt dangerous. - Alfred Adler

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fill your big black boots

Nile is a band that I can only take in small doses. Mostly because they're just so damned overwhelming. So if you're someone who takes Nile in zero doses it's only fair that I attempt to at least expose you to George Kollias; a drummer from Greece who I can only assume began playing when the Acropolis was constructed and probably failed several times to have extreme drumming made an olympic event.
Things to watch for in the video:
- George, similarly to Shannon Lucas, for some ridiculous reason plays the kick with one foot during blast beats. You'll notice this at the 10 second mark. I'm sure he has good reason for this but as far as I'm concerned he's just trying to make things harder for himself (for the hell of it).
- At the 17 second mark you'll see both his left and right feet prove that big black high top boots have no effect on turning his feet into high performance pistons of fury. Again, i know there are more appropriate footwear for this but feel free to refer to the last sentence of my previous point. It's possible he went drum shoe shopping with Gene Hoglan.
- At the 1:02 and 1:59 marks you'll see him employ a second snare that's placed to the left of his high-hat. I'm sure it all has to do with ease as far as freeing up his right hand to do things that would otherwise be too difficult with the standard snare placement, but let's not concern ourselves with these details. What's important is that it looks REALLY NEAT.
- The 1:37 mark is a nice reminder that he's the kind of metal drummer who doesn't neglect his high-hat pedal. You'd be surprised at how important that actually is.
- Again at the 1:59 mark if you pay attention to his right hand you'll notice him using a technique created by civil war musician Sanford Moeller, aptly called the Moeller Technique. Essentially the hand and wrist perform a snake-like whipping motion when playing with speed that allows for accents. I'm no drummer, but apparently it's pretty tough to master so it's only fitting that our pal George here is having at it with inhuman speed.

The rest is just a blur of fills and cross-over cymbal smashing that is nothing short of exhausting to watch.
The Essential Salts:

Monday, April 05, 2010

Everybody loves Metallica…

…the old stuff.

Everybody has to qualify their love for Metallica with that additional sidenote. It’s the definitive post-script of my generation.

I used to be slightly annoyed with the over-justification because I felt as though there was no need. They were a great great metal band who reached their technical limitations and then became a solid hard-rock band. To compare the two incarnations is unfair, albeit inescapable.

The obvious backlash occurred but what many failed to realize is that the band simply could not progress any further than what they had done on …And Justice for all. And fortunately for them, Bob Rock, in his snakeskin-cowboy-booted and goldie-locked glory, recognized this. The band slowed things down, simplified, and sold millions of records. Good for them, but considering the fact that the Black album was released twenty years ago and they’ve continued to release records, they’re on pretty shaky ground.

Nirvana and Green Day killed mainstream metal in the early 90’s and Lars Ulrich, in his insatiable thirst to remain trendy cut his hair (and Hetfield’s, most likely), slapped on a blue fur coat, some eyeliner, and the band cranked out Load and Re-load. [They] remained relevant by continuing to disappoint fans that just wanted the nimble music [they] had stopped played 6 years prior. The thing is, I didn’t dislike Load. I didn’t really care that it wasn’t Ride the Lightning part 2. The songs were still catchy and well recorded, and at that time I didn’t need more of what they used to be. I just didn’t care.

But now I do care. Kind of.

The band works very hard and no one can take that away from them, but they’re victims of their own development (of lack thereof). They were successful in a time where they had fewer peers and were creating a standard which has long since been surpassed. Slayer was more gifted but too controversial. Hetfield had melody and the band crossed over into the punk community through wardrobe and cover song choices. They were the perfect heavy band of that time.

The fortunate reality for the band is that angst-fueled teenagers and jean short wearing 30-40 somethings still want to hear the old material, which is why they’re still the one of maybe two heavy bands that can tour the world and play the largest venues available (incl. Maiden). Truthfully, having never seen them I would as well if it didn’t mean spending so much money to do so. Sadly I know that I’d find myself cringing through most of the performance because with age and musicianship my ears would find it impossible to ignore Hammett’s slightly out of tune, amateur hour vibrato, and Lars only hitting the kick on the 1 of every 4 beats (during the brisk songs). Not to mention leaping off his drum stool and keeling over, crippled from playing a song like “Nothing else matters”.

One could argue that the main reason people still believe in Metallica is a result of craving; the constant want and hope for the band to suddenly release a record that would hearken back to their glory years. Ironically it’s this hope that in some ways keeps the band alive. Or conversely, keeps fans interested. Yes they still put the odd thrashy number on their newer albums, but for every Frantic there’s a Sweet Amber. Or for every My Apocalypse, there’s a SWEET AMBER. The riffs just aren’t there, the songs are too long and repetitive, and they don’t have that “fly by the seat of your pants” fury that a song like “Fight fire with fire” had.

The foolish thing is that I do feel guilty about writing this. It’s as though I’m convinced that somehow, someone from the band will read this and feel insulted. They’re a critical band and one that is inarguably important in my developments as both a listener and performer of music.

Am I hiding behind a keyboard? Of course I am, because I’d never say any of these things to any of their faces. Am I envious of their achievements in the world of recorded music? Anyone who has held an instrument onstage would be lying if they said ‘no’.

Because I do love Metallica…

…especially when Meshuggah released Contradictions Collapse in 1991(ahem, NINETEEN NINETY-ONE!): the record that Metallica would have recorded had they had the technical proficiency to continue in the progressive realm they began to explore on Justice.

On an unrelated note,

If you’re into good music that I know absolutely nothing about, please go HERE where you can download a mix of good music that I know absolutely nothing about, compiled by someone who knows way more about it than I do..