album review

When I say "channel zero", what comes to mind? Is it the Public Enemy song "She Watch Channel Zero"? Or maybe you think of a half-hour sitcom/sketch hybrid about a post-apocalyptic colony that broadcasts a pirate television station in the wastelands near what used to be Glendale. While both are good, and correct, answers the answer I was looking for is "Belgian thrash metal band who just released their latest album "Kill All Kings" on Metal Blade Records". Better luck next time.

Let’s face reality right off the hump – coming off the success of “Blood for the Master,” it’s all been on the upswing for Goatwhore, a band of that rare breed that still fervently believes metal is best as a DIY, furious experience. For Pete’s sake, their poster (albeit edited,) appeared in a SportsCenter commercial. To quote that network’s Stephen A Smith: That’s. Box.

What makes folk metal interesting is how it is the unlikely union of two things that should not go together. Metal is hard, brash, and abrasive, while folk music is soft, acoustic, and introspective. Folk would be at the bottom of the list of other genres I would expect metal to ever be paired with, given the fundamental differences between them, and yet there is a healthy and thriving scene of folk metal bands that have managed to forge a connection between the two styles.

One of the more unfortunate realities of being a music fan is that the more you seek out great music, the less you will find. There are only a certain number of albums out there that will resonate with you passionately, and expanding your search and listening to more and more records is futile. What will happen is that you will wind up hearing massive amounts of music that are either bland or offensive to your senses, to the point where you begin to doubt if you still love music the way you once did.

Movies are not as powerful without their scores, and music is the soundtrack to our lives, which makes it curious that so little of the music we tend to listen to fits the mold. If life were a movie, the vast majority of the music I listen to would be fitting solely for a cheesy montage, not any of the day to day drama that propels us forward. Music is, in a way, a holding pattern meant to take us out of the moment, to normalize ourselves when there is nothing tethering us to reality. There are some bands who try to bridge the gap, but they fail because such an endeavor is fruitless.

Please tell me you've heard of Corrosion Of Conformity. If not, C.O.C. is a band who has been around for almost as long as I've been listening to metal. They started as a hardcore band and, through the years, morphed into a distinctly metal group. I remember hearing them back in the day, around the "Animosity" era, and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard them change their style on "Deliverance" in the 90's. I lost track of them through the 2000s because, as it turns out, they were "on hiatus" from 2006 to 2010.

On an esoteric level, I can appreciate what black metal means to the music world. There is certainly a place for music that seeks to convey the darkest aspects of the human condition, although I have never been able to understand the particular way in which it has been manifested. Whether through pure black metal, or other sounds that have pervasive black metal influence, the appeal of such music is entirely lost on me. The monotony of the frosty guitars, and especially the shrieked vocals, leave me cold, if you pardon the pun.

Look, we’ve had this conversation before and we’ve had it on these very pages. There will always be a place for a record like “Space Music for Cave People.” For all of metal’s twists and turns and evolutions both positive and negative, there is an intrinsic feeling of ‘home’ amidst the dirty, blues-base of overdriven thunder the likes of which is Crowned By Fire’s exclusive stock in trade.

Would I be going too far to call Buzz Osborne "iconic"? He's the guitarist/ vocalist/ songwriter of the Melvins who have been around since before 1986. He may or may not have invented grunge music. And even if he didn't invent grunge, he introduced Dave Grohl to Kurt Cobain and Krist Novocelic so he at least lent a hand. He is the guitarist for Fantomas, one of my favorites. He has awesome hair. No, I don't think it's too much to call him iconic.

Hailing from the hardcore halls of North Carolina, Wretched has come into some kind of stability and kept together the lineup that has solidified the band since 2011. The band returns with “Cannibal,” a new full length record that much like every album these days, promised to be ‘heavier’ than their efforts to this point. Veterans of the death metal tour circuit, Wretched is looking to break off a larger chunk of the pie and establish themselves in the vanguard of their chosen genre.