Win free Metal Blade CDs!
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally known as the biggest shopping day of the year, and this year, it falls on 11/26, two weeks from today. Stores participating in Metal Club will be selling a variety of limited-edition items, including the following:
Metallica, Live at Grimey's CD/10"
Slayer, "World Painted Blood" 7" (with previously unreleased B-side "Atrocity Vendor")
Anthrax, Live at the Sonisphere picture disc
The Damned Things, "Ironiclast/We've Got A Situation Here" 7"/CD single
The Sword, "(The Night The Sky Cried) Tears of Fire" hexagonal picture disc
Job for a Cowboy, Ruination limited edition 3x10" vinyl/CD box set
Other releases by Monster Magnet, Ozzy Osbourne and more are planned, too.
Now to the giveaway. I've got a bunch of CDs from Metal Blade Records available, three of which (chosen at random) I will give to three people who correctly answer some trivia questions. The CDs are: Hail of Bullets, On Divine Winds; System Divide, The Conscious Sedation; Return To Earth, Automata; Allegation, Fragments of Form and Function; Bison BC, Dark Ages; Dawn of Ashes, Genocide Chapters; Lightning Swords of Death, The Extra Dimensional Wound.
So here are the questions:
1. What metal band (hint: they're one of the Big Four) has a song called "Black Friday"?
2. What's the name of The Sword's recently departed drummer, and what basketball player shares his last name (but is not related to him)?
3. Hail of Bullets' vocalist, Martin van Drunen, gets around; name three other bands he's fronted.
Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners will be chosen at random, as will their prizes. Contest ends in one week. Good luck!
Remembering the horrors of war
Here are the lyrics:
16 years old when I went to the war
To fight for a land fit for heroes
God on my side, and a gun in my hand
Chasing my days down to zero
And I marched and I fought and I bled and I died
And I never did get any older
But I knew at the time that a year in the line
Is a long enough life for a soldier
We all volunteered, and we wrote down our names
And we added two years to our ages
Eager for life and ahead of the game
Ready for history's pages
And we brawled and we fought and we whored 'til we stood
Ten thousand shoulder to shoulder
A thirst for the Hun, we were food for the gun
And that's what you are when you're soldiers
I heard my friend cry, and he sank to his knees
Coughing blood as he screamed for his mother
And I fell by his side, and that's how we died
Clinging like kids to each other
And I lay in the mud and the guts and the blood
And I wept as his body grew colder
And I called for my mother and she never came
Though it wasn't my fault and I wasn't to blame
The day not half over and ten thousand slain
And now there's nobody remembers our names
And that's how it is for a soldier
"It's a bit of an odd-shaped room, I admit," booker Jason Aukes told the Star-Tribune. "But his booking agent and management knew exactly what to expect—and he would have, too, if he and gotten up off his butt and come down here earlier instead of making his crew set up all their gear for nothing...One of the reasons he's down to playing rooms this small is because he acts like this."
Preserving the memory of a metal legend
Like "Requiem For A Dream," post-black metal version
Marilyn Manson, Hate Eternal, Ulcerate and me
• Marilyn Manson's contract with Interscope has expired, and either he's chosen to go indie or the choice was made for him after executives took a look at the sales of 2009's The High End of Low (an album I didn't like much). In either case, he's formed a company called Hell, Etc.. and has signed a deal with the UK indie label Cooking Vinyl. The new album will be out in 2011, and bassist Twiggy Ramirez (who rejoined the band in 2008) has called it "kind of like a little more of a punk-rock Mechanical Animals."
• New Zealand-based death metal band Ulcerate will also be releasing a new album in 2011; it's called The Destroyers of All, it'll be on Willowtip Records, and they've added a page to their website to document the sessions with blogs, photos, video clips and more. You can also download a new song, "Dead Oceans," at this other link. I liked Ulcerate's last album, 2009's Everything is Fire, quite a bit, so I'm looking forward to this one.
• Hate Eternal, who I don't love so much (though their drummer's amazing), are back in the studio, too. They've got a new bassist named JJ Hrubovcak, who I'm sure will make their brand of ultra-punishing Florida death metal sound totally different from how it's sounded on their previous four albums. Seriously, even though I'm not a fan, these guys are talented as hell—I just wish they could write memorable songs instead of settling for collections of head-spinning guitar riffs and rib-cracking drum fills and blast beats.
• And finally, I was on the radio today debating the merits of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" with one of the editors of Bust magazine. Is the song burned out, or is it every bit as awesome as it was in 1971? (I argued the pro-LZ position.) I thought it went pretty well; you can listen here.
It depends; how much do you like bandannas?
Anyway, from what I'm reading, even the musical contents of the box aren't that swell. The first disc is just their 2006 compilation, The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock, in a new sleeve. No extra tracks, no nothin'. And the second disc is, if possible, even scammier, as it's a single-disc condensed version of their 1991 double live CD, Swallow This Live. If you're a huge Poison fan, Swallow This Live is actually sort of important, because in addition to being the band's final release before guitarist C.C. Deville left (and he gets an 11-minute solo segment on the original release), it also featured four studio tracks that were never released anywhere else. But when the set was reissued in 2004, it was chopped from two discs to one, losing all the studio tracks, the aforementioned 11-minute guitar solo and an eight-minute drum solo (sorry, Rikki Rockett superfans). You get 17 songs and an intro, where the original double disc offered 23 tracks in all. (If you want the whole thing, you can get it from the Amazon MP3 Store for $9.49, or buy a used copy from an Amazon third-party seller for, like, two bucks. Just don't buy the 2004 remastered version, is my point here.)
So yeah, if you're already a Poison fan (and they've got about a half dozen songs I like), you already have all this stuff. Stay away. If you're a new fan, you can probably get that 20 Years of Rock compilation for half the price. Of course, you won't get the bandanna, but really, dust rags are cheap as hell, so no loss there, either.
An overlooked history of experimentation
The point is, Napalm's evolution didn't stop there. After a couple of albums of straight grind (Scum and the slightly more polished From Enslavement to Obliteration), they started throwing more elements into their core sound. Their third full-length, 1990's Harmony Corruption, was their attempt at a straight Florida-style death metal effort (they even recorded at Morrisound Studios and had members of Obituary and Morbid Angel contribute backing vocals on one track), while 1992's Utopia Banished fused death metal and grindcore a little more organically, tacking on an industrial-derived intro track.
The band's most experimental phase, though, came in the mid '90s. It began with their 1994 release Fear, Emptiness, Despair, which received extra promotion because Earache Records had signed a licensing agreement with Columbia Records—Carcass's Heartwork, Entombed's Wolverine Blues, Godflesh's Selfless and Fudge Tunnel's Creep Diets all received extra attention from the music press, though it didn't really translate to extra sales and the relationship quickly deteriorated. On that album, Napalm brought more groove and just a little bit more melody to their sound, creating a noisy blend of grind, death and alternative/grunge rock that not everybody in the band was 100% happy with (vocalist Barney Greenway claims to hate this album and have terrible memories of the sessions) but at least represented forward movement.
A year later, they were back in the studio, and this was when things really got rolling. The Greed Killing EP, released in November 1995, featured six new songs and a live version of the FED track "Plague Rages." Most of the songs had the fury of classic Napalm, but they also had a postpunk edge, with much heavier bass in some cases and repetitive, almost looping guitar lines as Greenway chanted his vocals like slogans at a protest march. The title track was almost catchy, and they made a video for it:
Less than three months later, in January 1996, the EP was followed by Napalm Death's sixth studio album, Diatribes. Starting with its cover art (which prominently featured a computer keyboard, a hideously burned/rotted hand and some kind of weird crop circle-like graphic, all in the very non-metal colors of purple and neon green), it was obvious something was afoot, and the music bore this out. "Greed Killing," which kicked off the record, didn't even set an accurate tone. Album cuts like "Cursed to Crawl" and "Cold Forgiveness" were more indicative of what the band was attempting to do. The former was a dubby postpunk track with a thick, heavy groove some would later compare to nü-metal, while the latter was a slow-burning industrial-rock track built around a guitar riff (and a guitar tone) that sounded more like Godflesh than anything Napalm had ever done before. Many tracks on the record ("Take the Strain," "Corrosive Elements") were built around ultra-repetitive riffs that almost sounded sampled and looped. Overall, it seemed like Napalm were trying to align themselves with bands like Killing Joke and Swans more than with the extreme metal scene they'd helped create, and not everyone was happy about it, by any means. To this day, Diatribes is one of the most often criticized albums in their discography. But it's one of my favorites.
Diatribes, Greed Killing and Bootlegged in Japan (a live CD recorded in 1996 and featuring no less than eight Diatribes tracks in the set) have recently been compiled into a 3CD box. I highly recommend picking it up, as it shows that even while Napalm Death were constantly evolving in the studio, they remained a crushingly brutal live act.