Friday, April 30, 2010

Yoga Skeleton Prehistory 2: William Blake Edition

Since I'm not planning on posting any skeletons in yoga asanas until June, I figured that I would let you in on some of my development in drawing skeletons. On the right you see a skeleton that William Blake did for his illuminated poem The Book of Urizen. I first saw this image several years ago when I took a class on Blake. If you haven't read Blake, you should. Here is a link to the William Blake Archive. Straddling the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Blake tried creating a new mythology of his own. In addition to being a poet and artist, he also was a master engraver who did illustrations for other author's books. He hand water colored each of his illuminated poems.
On the left is one of my first recreation of Blake's skeleton. I drew it in ballpoint pen. All of the skeletons that I drew before this were extremely cartoonish and weren't referenced toward anything. At least this one was referencing I've drawn a skeleton in this pose maybe a dozen times. When I worked at a call center I wore a small version on the back of my badge dangling from a jolly roger lanyard. In order to illustrate how little I knew about human anatomy then I have included the following pages from an anatomy text atlas.Go out and read some Blake (preferably illuminated), and listen to some Acid Bath.

Om SHAnti SHAnti SHAnti

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Heavy Band 009: ACID BATH

Most weeks I have to fit analyses of a lot of albums on a pretty good band, but this week there are only 2 studio albums created by an AWESOME band.
Acid Bath combined the warp of Alice in Chains, the blues of Leadbelly, the progressive vibe of Voivod, the folk of Woody Guthrie, the sinister nature of Slayer, the Psychedelic vibe of Pink Floyd, the wickedness of Dimebag Darrell, the sludge of the Melvins, tons of tempo changes, the hardcore of the Misfits, and lyrics only fitting for Aleister Crowley. I discovered Acid Bath in 1996, after my best friend bought When the Kite String Pops at a garage sale. Soon after we clambered for more, and he ended up buying Paegan Terrorism Tactics at full price. Late the next year we discovered that Acid Bath had disbanded due to the death of their Geezer Butleresque bassist Audie Pitre at the hands of a drunk driver. We were devastated. The most amazing band that we'd encountered had come to an end after only two albums. We'd never see them in concert. My wife and I danced to The Bones of Baby Dolls and Dead Girl at our wedding. The two albums that they released are so intense that I still discover new things to love after listening to them for 14 years. I don't like to swear in my writings, but this band is THE SHIT.
Founded in Morgan City and Houma Louisiana in 1991, Acid Bath formed Phoenix-like from the ashes of two bands, Golgotha and Dark Karnival. Dax Riggs' on lead vocals wails, is almost operatic baritone at times, can growl, and at times moans like Woody Guthrie. Jimmy Kyle's drumming is akin to Dave Lombardo's. Mike Sanchez and Sammy Duet on guitars provide everything from thrash, to folky acoustic, to sludgy warped riffs. Audie Pitre provided the rumbling dark bass. Their demo Hymns of the Needle Freak got them a deal with Rotten Records, thus they recorded 1994's
When the Kite String Pops
. Featuring a cover with a self portrait of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy
The album begins with The Blue, which is part Alice in Chains and part Electric Wizard with a little Iggy Pop thrown in. WTKSP features the pure thrash metal song Cheap Vodka. At a little over two minutes, Cheap Vodka is one of the fastest and shortest of Acid Bath's songs. The song is equally at home pumping heavy weights at the gym and huffing rush. The album takes its name from lyrics in a different song, The Bones of Baby Dolls. Though Bones of Baby Dolls is an acoustic ballad, it still has quite a bit of twist and warp in it. I believe it was this song that I heard was inspired by an acid trip on a beach in Florida. I also believe that the bones of baby dolls refers to an exceptionally large joint. Dope Fiend features wailing guitar, barking vocals, many tempo shifts, and heavy bass petal, which created a song that sounds truly wicked. Scream of the Butterfly has a very prog metal feel with trembling vocals. Cassie Eats Cockroaches is a dark, fast, industrial anthem with some of the sickest lyrics and a terrifying sampling of Dennis Hopper from Blue Velvet.
When the Kite String Pops was followed in 1996 with Paegan Terrorism Tactics. PTT's Bleed Me an Ocean opens slow and sludgy like the Melvin's, has six or more tempo changes, and primarily focuses on minor chords. Dax' baritone is perfect for this song, which features both him barking and singing with excellent tone, also in minor chords. The amazing part of that song is that the whole band made all of the tempo changes. Graveflower is a truly psychedelic song. It is extremely driving. The mid section features some of the sickest sounding guitar riff's ever recorded. It also features multiple tempo changes. I was once in a band with two bassists, who went nowhere called Graveflower. Locust Spawning is an entirely evil assault on the gypsy scale. It has a guitar chiming like an air raid alarm reminiscent of Bauhaus' Spy in the Cab. It is part thrash metal and part industrial with tremendous speed. New Death Sensation begins as a mournful acoustic dirge. It swells in the middle to sound almost like Queen. It is an extremely aethereal anthem. Venus Blue begins just as mellow as New Death Sensation, but it alternates between mellow and extremely heavy. Dead Girl is a romantic song for my wife and me. It features extremely bluesy acoustic guitar and vocals.
I believe that Acid Bath broke up not only because of Audie's death, but also because all of the members were extremely talented and pulling the band their own way. They used enough licks that most of their songs could have been divided thrice or quadruple into other songs. I would like to see a reunion of the surviving members, and for them to record an album today now that their styles have changed. Dax and Mike formed the bluesy doom metal act Agents of Oblivion, then Dax moved on to the indie rock Deadboy and the Elephantmen. Sammy moved into a further darker place with his demonic metal band Goatwhore, and he also has played with the sludge metal band Crowbar. If you have or haven't listened to Acid bath GO LISTEN TO SOME NOW.

Om SHAnti SHAnti SHAnti

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Heavy Band 008: Kittie

With a name like Kittie one might expect a mellow girls group or pop rock, in 1999 Kittie unleashed a maelstrom of noise that went by the name Spit. Formed in 1996 in London, Ontario, at the core of Kittie are a pair of sisters. Morgan Lander on rhythm guitar and lead vocals alternates between clear classic rock vocals and a sinister growl. Mercedes Lander's drumming is pure undiluted thrash metal. Kittie's lead guitar and bassist positions are in constant rotation. Though Kittie's lyrics are par for the course for a metal band, they are nothing special. Focusing on dark content akin to a slasher movie, their lyrics fail to evoke real terror. They are still one of the heaviest bands playing today, and what they are missing in lyrical content they more than make up for with their hellish wave of sound.
Kittie's debut album Spit featured nu metal thrashing on Charlotte and Brackish. Do You Think I'm a Whore? has the grooving drive of an old Deftones song. The album's self titled track is pure heavy metal fire.
Kittie followed up the success of Spit in 2001 with Oracle. Featuring a much heavier cover of Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell and the sludgy single What I Always Wanted Kittie continued their full force assault on any critic that relegated them to the realm of girl group. The album's title track is a driving anthem which initiates the listener and prepares them for the heaviness to come.
Kittie followed Oracle with their 2004 release Until the End, a more melodic album than their previous two. It is also a tad slower than the previous two, and seems to lack some passion of their other albums. The single Into the Darkness is the most mainstream of any Kittie single. Into the Darkness could have
benefited from some guitar tremolo. I have visions of a version of this song that is extremely sick with some Dimebag Darrell I'm Broken style guitar. It would make it a truly heavy masterpiece.
Kittie's came back with Funeral for Yesterday, which has much in common with early Judas Priest. The rhythms of the title track and Breathe and Summer Dies are extremely pulsing. While Morgan does not summon ghosts of Rob Halford's past, the instrumentation on the album could easily be confused for rocking Priest. The pumping, heavy, rocking Funeral for Yesterday makes up for any mediocrity that was laid down with Until the End.
Kittie's most recent album In the Black has a refreshingly evil sound. Tracks like My Plague, Die My Darling, and Ready Aim Riot have a truly sick sound with speed, thrash and tremolo in the right proportions. This album is easily one of the heaviest of the new millennium, and it gives me hope for what Kittie has yet to come.
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Heavy Metal Yogi by Nick Matthaes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.