Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heavy Band 010: WHITE ZOMBIE

Exploding onto the highway like a slug from a '45 fired by a post-apocalyptic Ed Roth Rat Fink character, White Zombie warped a whole generation who came of age in the '90s. White Zombie combined samples of horror, porn, and B movies with overdrive muted string guitar, funk bass, and heavy amounts of psychedelia. Rob Zombie's earthy grunting voice growled and howled atop the eclectic mix.
Like Gwar and the Talking Heads, White Zombie was started by art school students. In 1985 Rob Cummings founded White Zombie with his then girlfriend Shauna Reynolds. Previously they published a horror zine together. They soon took on the names Rob Zombie and Sean Yseult and created a dark blend of sounds.
White Zombie, when they were just starting out a sounded more like old Butthole Surfers than '90s White Zombies. Their Debut album was 1987's Soul-Crusher, which featured the hard noise rock tracks Ratmouth and Scum Kill. Shack of Hate sounds like it belongs on a Mudhoney album.
Lacking in sampling, Soul-Crusher's follow up in 1989 Make Them Die Slowly has a much more pure metal vibe than their first album. Tracks like Demonspeed and Disaster Blaster give the big four of thrash metal a run for their money. Murderworld is much more slowed down, creating an eerie sick sound that is more sludgy than any other song that they recorded. The album's closing song Godslayer begins as slow and sludgy as a Melvins track. The tempo speeds up towards the middle, but every time that you think they will achieve super speed the tempo switches again slowing down to a sludgy tempo. Godslayer ends in a cacophony of wretched guitar wailing.
Combining the sampling of their first album with the metal vibe of their second, White Zombie's third album La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 came out in 1992. Mixing Manson Family psychedelia, porn movie samples, and a groovy bass line the intro to the album, Welcome to Planet Motherfucker/Psychoholic Slag contains all of the elements necessary for the awesomeness of a White Zombie song. It begins like a B scifi movie, then transitions into a driving dance metal with sex whines, eventually dying off in a swamp of slow overdriven sludge. Black Sunshine begins with a driving bass line and spoken word by Iggy Pop. It is the quintessential love song to a muscle car. It is one of the songs that make your feet move with its ferocity. Iggy Pop ends the song in a truly creepy tone, that continues into Soul-Crusher. The song has little to do with their initial album. The song begins as pure speed metal, but slowly evolves into something that it can finally be termed is the White Zombie sound. I Am Legend is a haunting, tragic, heavy metal ode to the Richard Matheson novel.
White Zombie's fourth and final album was 1995's Astro-Creep: 2000 - Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head. Super-Charger Heaven is a devil tune strung together with samples from an eclectic mix of horror films. Alternating between über mellow and savagely intense, Grease Paint and Monkey Brains has a very dub feel to it. More Human than Human is a dance hit devoted to the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. It almost has a clubby Ministry vibe to it. El Phantasmo and the Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama set a new speed record for White Zombie. It is very intense and has samples from a demonic horror movie that I can not recall the name. Blur the Technicolor begins a psychedelic vibe that concludes in Blood, Milk, and Sky which seems to me like a combination of the Beatles Within You Without You and a Faces of Death movie.
White Zombie only recorded four albums before splitting up, but in the last half of the '90s 6 EPs were recorded of different remixes. P.M Dawn's remix of Blood, Milk, and Sky on Supersexy Swingin' Sounds is extremely laid back as you would expect, and awesome. Rob Zombie has gone on to make horror movies, while still touring as a solo artist. Sean Yseult has played in numerous bands over the years, including Famous Monsters, who I was able to see in 1998 I think. I would like to see a reunion years down the road, with maybe an album coming out too. Until then I guess that we'll just have to wait.

Om SHAnti SHAnti SHAnti

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Zombie Picture 001

Here's a pic that I did for a Facebook Zombie quiz that I created with my nephew Adam back around New Years.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

13 Scream Queens

In compiling a list of 13 scream queens it was difficult to determine who should be included. First I needed to define what a scream queen is. A scream queen is an actress who stars in a lot of horror movies. A scream queen should be able to convey a sense of terror. Often scream queens are the lone survivor of a horror movie, and so they must be strong willed. They must fight through their fear to conquer whatever is trying to kill them. We need to empathize with the scream queen, and so women who star in horror films always as the villainess can not be the scream queen. Here is my list of 13 scream queens in no particular order.

1) Fay WrayFirst Scream Queen
Though there were other actresses that specialized in horror before her (Theda Bara for example) they were all of the silent film era, thus their screams were never heard. Fay starred in four horror films in the years 1932-3 leading up to her starring role in King Kong. Fay was able to convey an element of terror like no other actress of her time period. Though she starred in over 100 films, the majority of these were not in the horror genre, but for a short time in the 1930s she was the scream queen.

2) Asia ArgentoLegacy Scream Queen
The daughter of the great Italian horror movie director/writer/producer, Asia (pronounced ah-See-ah) did not ride on her fathers coat tails. Though he produced the second film that she was in, it was directed by another great of Italian horror Lamberto Bava. She was only 10 and the movie was a sequel to Demons. She left home at the young age of 14. It was not until she was 18, that she had a starring role in one of her father's films 1993's Trauma. Her father used to read her his scripts as bedtime stories, which no doubt warped her personality. She has starred in numerous other movies, many of them in the horror/thriller genre.

3) Linda Blair Satanic Panic Scream Queen
In 1973 we were given a reason to fear demonic possession. The Exorcist was a blockbuster. People who typically wouldn't go to see a horror film went to see this one. People began to believe in demonic possession. At the center of the film was a 13 year old Linda Blair. In the years since it was released, she went on to revive her role in a sequel, and has performed in many other horror movies. She has even done one spoof of the exorcist, 1990's Repossessed.

4) Ingrid Pitt
Most Horrific Real Life Scream Queen
Ingrid Pitt starred in many horror films in the '60s and '70s, but it was her real life that was most horrific. Three years of Ingrid's early childhood were spent in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. One can only imagine the horrors that she saw. It was her work in the 1970s with Hammer Films that gained her the most fame. Though her horror career peaked in the 1970s, she has continued to make horror films/thrillers through to the present.

5) Shawnee SmithMost Unlikely Scream Queen
Shawnee's first horror role was in the 1988 remake of The Blob. She has gone on to star in every film in the Saw series to date, but she hates being scared and doesn't like horror movies. She even hosted the VH1 reality show Scream Queens which focused on finding an actress to appear in Saw VI. The fact that she doesn't like being scared, but has to act terrified in many movies leads to her being the most unlikely scream queen.

6) Adrienne BarbeauToughest Scream Queen
One could classify Adrienne Barbeau as she has been so often classified in the past, by her physical assets, but she is more than that. If someone were to classify her in such a way and she would deliver a Tura Satana quality ass whupping. She shows strength in every role that she has played. She was married to John Carpenter from the late '70s through the mid '80s. She starred in The Fog, Swamp Thing, and Creepshow, and she continues to star in horror movies today, playing the tough woman the whole way.

7) Sheri Moon
Most Metal Scream Queen
The first place that the world was introduced to Sheri was in music videos for her boyfriend Rob Zombie's songs. They have married since then, and he has become a horror director. She has gone on to star in his horror films, as well as being an extra in films by horror greats like Tobe Hooper.

8) Tippi HedrenMost Hitchcockian Scream Queen
Melanie Griffith's mom has several Hitchcock roles in her horror heavy repertoire, but it was the gift that Alfred Hitchcock gave Melanie that makes Tippi the most Hitchcockian. Supposedly, Alfred gave Melanie a doll modeled after Tippi in a coffin, which freaked everyone out a bit. Tippi was in The Birds and Marnie, but was also in some episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as horror films by other directors.

9)Virginia MadsenMost Urbane Scream Queen
In 1992 Virginia starred as a graduate student researching urban legends in Clive Barker's Candyman, and her fate as a scream queen was sealed. Before Candyman, she had already starred as the lone woman in Zombie High. She has been in horror movies since, and has always put up the image of an educated woman thrust into horrible circumstances.

10) Rose McGowanSultriest Scream Queen
The only actress to appear in both Planet Terror and Deathproof. Her first somewhat horror role was as Amy Blue in The Doom Generation. She had a big role in Scream that ended in her being crushed by a garage door. She brings a seductive quality in every role that she has, even more than the other scream queens on this list. Hopefully she will continue to steam up the screen in more horror movies.

11) Sigourney WeaverMost Kick Ass Scream Queen
In 1979 we were given a reason to fear space from the hands of Ridley Scott's Alien. We were also given a true kick ass scream queen with Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of Ellen Ripley. She didn't take anything off of anyone, least of all some extraterrestrial with an exoskeleton. She starred in three sequels to Alien. She has been in many horror films since, sometimes as a villain, but always kick ass.

12) Jamie Lee CurtisMost Iconic Scream Queen
Though the slasher film was invented in 1974 by Tobe Hooper with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it was not until 1978 that John Carpenter lay down the rules with Halloween. Jamie Lee Curtis starred as the good babysitter, who didn't party or have teen sex. Thus she escaped and lived to fight off her demented baby brother. She returned in four sequels including 1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which had an atypical plot without Michael Myers. She was the go to woman for much of the 1980s for high budget horror.

13) Linnea Quigley
Most Prolific Scream Queen
Linnea's first horror role was in 1975's Psycho from Texas, and she hasn't gone more than three years with out a horror role since. Her most iconic Scream Queen role was as the punk Trash in Return of the Living Dead. One of the most iconic scenes from all horror cinema is her as Trash dancing nude in the graveyard. She has starred in B-movies like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and has been an extra in big budget horror like A Nightmare on Elmstreet IV: The Dream Master. At age 51, she continues pumping them out, many on direct-to-dvd. She has been in over 100 movies, many of them horror themed. She may well be able to claim someday that she has been in over 100 horror films.

Heavy Band 007: the PIXIES

Though the Pixies have come into some popularity in recent years, they were not always seen as cool. When they broke up they had few fans, but it seems that every fan made a band. Their break up was sealed with the release of their last album Trompe le Monde, released the day before Nevermind and the "Alternative" music explosion that would follow it. But instead of talking of the end of the pixies, I should probably start at the beginning.
Formed in 1986 in Boston, the Pixies created music that wasn't being heard at the time. It defied classification. It was soft at points, but wasn't pop. It was incredibly heavy in other areas, but wasn't metal. Their music is simple yet complex. The Pixies have a deceptive sound, urging you to turn up the stereo to understand the quiet mumbling only to blast out your eardrums when the chorus comes in.
Black Francis'' vocals were smooth and quiet at times, yet at other times, screaming and electrified. His rhythm guitar adds to the soft and the loud elements.
Joey Santiago's lead guitar lurks around corners like a flasher waiting for his moment to wail free. When he did thrash it was so much heavier than mainstream metal at the time.
Kim Deal's chugging bass line, kept it simple, but was capable of incredible speed.
David Lovering on drums provided the base from which they could mosey or launch off of. He was the only member of the band to actually have traditional training. Playing drums in high school band.
The Pixies sound incorporated elements of pop, blues, bluegrass, hardcore, and at times hip hop.
The Pixies first full length album was Surfer Rosa, and it was released in 1988. It featured the throbbing post punk anthem Cactus. The song has the feel of a track by T. Rex. The tracks Gigantic and Where is my Mind? make the template for what would be alternative music in the 1990s.
1989's Doolittle had 15 tracks equally ready to be singles, provided that they would see no airplay on mainstream radio. Particularly heavy songs on the album include Debaser, Dead, and Monkey Gone to Heaven. Monkey Gone to Heaven climaxes with belting shouts of "...THEN GOD IS SEVEN!" over a jangly screeching guitars and fierce bass and drums.
The Pixies followed up Doolittle with Bossanova. Bossanova featured the post punk thrashing of Is She Weird? a tune which is reminiscent of Bauhaus' Stigmata Martyr. Bossanova also featured the poppy Dig for Fire and the haunting Blown Away. On this album Santiago's guitar playing came to the forefront with more fuzzy wailing than any of their previous albums.
Their final studio album Trompe le Monde featured one of the heaviest songs ever. Planet of Sound featured Black Francis screaming, Joe Santiago's guitar thrashing, Kim Deal's bass chugging, and Dave Lovering's drums pounding. The song is about an extraterrestrial searching for rock music. IT IS A LOUD SONG. Much of the rest of the album is loud as well, including the songs Head On and Space. Overall Trompe le Monde is the Pixies heaviest album. It features a lot of punk and metal riffs.
Normally I don't mention any live albums for the Heavy Band of the Week, but I have to make the exception with Pixies at the BBC. This album features much harder renditions of There Goes My Gun, Is She Weird? Monkey Gone to Heaven and Wave of Mutilation. Released in 1998 Pixies at the BBC has since gone on to become a heavy college rock staple at stations everywhere. When I was married in 2003 I had the whole album on my playlist at the reception. It is one of my favorite albums of all time, even though it is not a studio album.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yoga Skeleton 19

Here's my 19th drawing of a skeleton in a yoga asana. 6th for the year.

Virabhadrasana B
Warrior Pose 2

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ultimate Heavy: Tim Curry

Tim Curry is the ultimate heavy. I know of no other actor who has played so many iconic villains. His first demented role was as a madman in the BBC's production of the tragedy The Duchess of Malfi. A few years later and he was playing one of my favorite antiheroes Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Something that not many remember is that in addition to the lead role of Frank, Tim Curry also played the minister in the opening wedding scene. He has played shady roles ever since, including the shiftless Rooster Hannigan in Annie and the thug Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist. As my first memories are of the late 1970s and early 1980s, my first memory of one of Tim's characters was as the devil like Lord of Darkness in Legend. Tim has played characters named after epithets of Satan so many times that it is difficult to count. He has played characters named Satan in a video game, Lucifer in cartoons, and the serpent in a biblical cartoon. He has even played God once...he must have been a sinister God.
He played the butler in Clue. Since the 80s, he has voiced the narrative in religious cartoons and voiced villains in children's cartoons. He voiced Captain Hook in the animated series Peter Pan and the Pirates, a series which took a more in depth look into the J.M. Barrie novel than any of the films have.
In 1990 he starred as Pennywise the Clown in the ABC miniseries It. He provided a whole nation with reason for coulrophobia.
He played Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island.
Tim Curry is a master of vicious roles and no doubt he will continue playing the villain in movies yet to come. Two roles that I would like to see him in are Dracula and as the Joker in a Batman franchise yet to come.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Seattle Drawings 1: Salome

Here's the first drawing in a notebook that I bought in Seattle last May. It's the biblical temptress Salome.
I've drawn skeletons #10 onward in this notebook.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Heavy Band 006: Sepultura

In 1984 one of the heaviest metal bands ever was formed in the southeastern Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte. Sepultura was formed by 14 and 15 year-olds, who had a desire to create some of the heaviest music ever. The classical lineup had Max Cavalera, Igor Cavalera, Andreas Kisser, and Paulo Jr. Taking their name from the Portuguese word for grave.
Max Cavalera's singing has been much imitated. Most metal singers with cookie monster vocals want to be singing like him. My message to them, "You are not Max Cavalera. Stop trying so hard or your vocal chords will fall out." Akin to industrial machinery yet somehow organic, Max's voice is truly terrifying. When you add his minor chord rhythm guitar, you get music that sounds truly chthonic.
Max's brother Igor's drumming started out like a traditional thrash drummer's Tommy gun push, but it evolved elements of modern symphonic music and traditional tribal rhythms until his playing became a multibranched tree capable of incorporating any style of drumming.
Paulo Jr. is the only member of the original lineup still touring with the reconstituted band. His down tuned 5 string bass has applied an apocalyptic rumble since the bands early recordings.
Andreas Kisser joined the band in time for their second album 1987's Schizophrenia. His lead guitar's warped shredding has obviously influenced many nu metal bands like KoЯn and Kittie. Andreas and Paulo Jr. are the only two members of the classic lineup to still record and tour with Sepultura.
Sepultura has recorded eleven studio albums, but I will be focusing primarily on the five albums which contained the classic lineup.
Sepultura's second album Schizophrenia was the first to feature what would be the classic lineup. It primarily featured a sound that would come to be called Death Metal. Andreas' relentless shredding can be heard in the instrumental track Inquisition Symphony, as well as the songs To the Wall and Septic Schizo. Max's raw vocals are best seen on Screams Behind the Shadows and Escape to the Void. His singing had not evolved into the roaring growl that would define the voice of Sepultura, and so more variety is seen in his vocals on this album than any other. The song From The Past Comes The Storms is one of the truly great speed metal songs, defining a moment in time. Igor's drumming and Paulo Jr's bass roar throughout, but on From The Past Comes The Storms we hear amazing speed and precision difficult to accomplish with down tuned distorted bass and echoing drums.
Beneath the Remains came out in 1989 and stands as a testament to the power of thrash metal with Slayer's Reign in Blood and Megadeth's Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good. The intro to the title track is mournful and poignant, lulling you into a comfortable place until the song comes crashing through with more speed and adrenaline than a 2000 foot free fall. The tracks Slaves of Pain and Hungry are blisteringly fast and dangerously aggressive. Overall this album is one of the fastest, most pounding metal albums ever.
With 1991's Arise came the solidification of what would be Max's vocal style. His grizzly, dark growl is seen on the tracks Under Siege and Arise. While the album is pretty fast overall, tracks like Under Siege are slower yet louder. It was a harbinger of what was to come with their next two albums.
Chaos A.D. was released in 1993 and it featured more experimentation than any of their previous albums. Paulo Jr's bass playing was slowed down and featured elements of funk and blues. In addition tribal drumming was introduced at points on several songs. The instrumental track Kaiowas featured Andreas' classic acoustic guitar abilities. Max's vocal style further solidified itself on this album. It seemed that the band was ready to transcend all categories and stereotypes of what it meant to play heavy metal.
Sepultura released Roots in 1996. It is one of the most experimental albums in the history of heavy metal. It featured even more tribal drumming and chanting, slackened guitar strings, more funk elements, and occasional creepy whispering. The song Roots Bloody Roots featured almost all of these elements, along with slowed down sickening tremolo guitar. This album also featured more collaborators than any other, including Mike Patton and Jonathan Davis. There were elements of hardcore and the Xavate tribe from the Amazon basin were recorded singing and drumming in their traditional style. All of these seemingly conflicting elements fused into one of the best albums of all time. The album was one of the few that was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful.
Max Cavalera left Sepultura after Roots and the band hired a sound alike singer. The album Against released after Max's departure is okay, but lacks some of the magic that Sepultura had before. The song Choke is cool, but seems more like it was recorded by a Sepultura cover band. Max's new band Soulfly is also missing some of the magic that the classic lineup had. Estranged from his brother after his departure, Igor left Sepultura a decade later and has since patched up his relationship with Max. The classic lineup of Sepultura has influenced the shape of 21st century heavy metal greatly, and we can always hope for a reunion of the lineup in the future.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yoga Skeleton 18

Here's my 18th drawing of a skeleton in a yoga asana.

Adho Mukha SvanasanaDownward Facing Dog Pose

I'm a little surprised that I hadn't drawn this one before for the blog. My wife suggested it a few weeks ago, but I was sure that I had drawn it.
previous yoga skeletons

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Coulrophobia

In doing my post of the 13 clowns that you should be afraid of, I missed out on the #1 clown killer: Ronald McDonald. He kills more people with his fatty, artery clogging, sugary, diabetes inducing, salty, hypertension pumping, high caloric sludge that is pushed on us as food than all of the other clowns combined. He looks so benign, which is why I didn't think of him the first time around.
He has not always looked so nice: Willard Scott was the first Ronald, and the way he portrayed him would make J.W. Gacy himself shudder. Much of what would become the archetype of Ronald was in Willard's portrayal. The red hair, oversized red shoes, red lipstick extending to his cheeks, gloves, stripes on a red and yellow outfit. He also wore a box on his head and a paper cup on his nose. I think what makes his portrayal of Ronald so creepy is that he is portrayed by Willard Scott. There is a crazy homicidal look in Willard's eyes at all times, and this is only accentuated by clown makeup.
Ronald can't bear all of the blame for our obese nation of people slowly marching towards their own deaths, but he is one of the largest contributing factors. He pushes the junk to us when we are young, just like a drug dealer outside of a schoolyard. Traditionally his commercials were restricted to the realm of commercial children's programming, but in recent years McDonald's has become a major sponsor of PBS kid shows. Now there is a minute long spot before Sesame Street telling of all the good that McDonald's does. Ronald shows kids how to use their imagination in a spot reminiscent of the Reading Rainbow intro.
It is for these reasons that I should have given Ronald McDonald
the #1 spot for clown that you should be most afraid of, instead of Pogo.

Om SHAnti SHAnti SHAnti

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Heavy Band 005: Sleater-Kinney

Last week I featured a band that didn't have a guitarist until recently, and this week I'm going with Sleater-Kinney, a band without a bassist. I didn't believe that a band could be heavy without a low end until I heard Sleater-Kinney. They had the raw energy of a young Iggy and the Stooges, had guitar licks as clean as Fugazi and as dirty as Motörhead, and they constantly evolved, quitting before they could grow stale.
Corin Tucker's pulsing rhythm guitar helped drive their songs. Her vocals a
re truly awesome, at times sweet as dulce de leche and other times shrieking that would put a Banshee's wail to shame. At times her vocals are raw, and at other times almost seem that they are coming from some 1960s R&B group played through an old hand held transistor radio. Tucker's lyrics could be overtly political, subversively personal, or just plain fun.
Carrie Brownstein was on lead guitar summoning ghosts of Pete Townshend's past, teaching a whole new generation what it is to rock. Her guitar playing alternated between the clean staccato sounds of modern pop punk and the fuzzy thrash of an inhalant huffing garage band. Her backing vocals provide a martial push on songs that were often anti-militaristic.
Janet Weiss joined up after their second album, and provided the pumping, heavy, blasting drum line that completed the band's sound.
Tucker and Brownstein formed Sleater-Kinney in 1994 in Olympia. Initially part of the Riot Grrrl movement, Their music evolved from political punk in the style of Dead Kennedys through until they created a style that could only be considered their own.
Their first album, the self titled Sleater-Kinney debuted in 1995. This album was followed by Call the Doctor in 1996. Both of these albums were aggressive punk with political overtones alternating with the alternative ballads that were so popular in the mid 1990s. Sleater-Kinney had the alternative ballad The Day I Went Away and Call the Doctor had Heart Attack. For harder tunes Sleater-Kinney had A Real Man, Call the Doctor had its self titled track.
Their third album, Dig Me Out had the stirrings of what would become the Sleater-Kinney sound. The title track was a pumping anthem full of distorted guitars, slamming drums and Tucker's unbelievably powerful voice. This was the first album with Weiss on drums and it is in part due to this that this is recognized as the solidifying of their sound.
Sleater-Kinney's fourth album The Hot Rock has more of an indie pop feel than any of their other albums. Songs like Hot Rock, God is a Number, and Get Up have a dreamy quality that isn't seen in such a quantity in any of their other albums.
They followed up The Hot Rock with All Hands on the Bad One. Youth Decay from this album could only be created by Sleater-Kinney's unique sound. Ironclad and the album's title track are heavy, yet vulnerable in a way that only they could create.
Sleater-Kinney's heaviest album was One Beat. While the title track, Remainder, and Combat Rock are heavy enough for me to take those songs alone and consider them an extremely heavy band, they slowed down their tempo for Far Away to Black Sabbath time. Far Away has faster portions, but its heaviness is tied to its slow paced parts, its sheer volume, and its unadulterated anger. Far Away stands as a testament to Sleater-Kinney's heaviness.
Sleater-Kinney's seventh and final album was The Woods. It opened with the rocking The Fox, a song that makes me want to go out and commit acts of destruction. Songs like Jumpers and Rollercoaster push this album forth into extremely heavy realms. While I was sad to see that Sleater-Kinney were going into retirement, I would much rather see them go out on a high note as they did, than to slide into mediocrity. I'm pretty sure that they had a few more awesome albums in them, and maybe we will get a listen if they ever have a reunion.

Om SHAnti SHAnti SHAnti
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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.