The Doggfather has good taste

Snoop Lion repping Milan! I don’t know why this makes me so happy since I haven’t listened to Snoop in years but it does.

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I’m a metalhead. This should be obvious from looking at me. I have two braids in my beard and long hair. I wear my Celtic Frost T-shirt to everything I really care about. Oddly enough, I’m gainfully employed, teaching university kids and after-school middle schoolers. Still, it’s probably significant that the one time I was actually searched at the border, the agent wanted to know if I was a Satanist, not if I was a Muslim, which is funny if you’ll consider I was born in the Middle East.

The first metal band I got into was Celtic Frost. I met them on their reunion tour. I shook Tom Warrior’s hand. Like so many others, I wept like a baby at the first “Oogh.” He does that, Tom Warrior. Ask any metalhead. They’ll set you straight. I was 17, I think, and crazy depressed. The only thing that got through to me was this one song, “The Usurper.” My best friend, Clement, the greatest guitarist I know, was randomly shuffling through songs on an MP3 CD someone had given him. It was mostly power metal (the only form of metal I sort of look down on generally…except you, Kamelot) but right in the middle was this random heap of darkness and fury. I’d just only started doing drugs. I was lonely. The girl I wanted had pledged her life to Jesus and I would have to go to church to have her. I’d become peripherally involved with gangs. I told Clement I really liked the Amorphis that was on that CD but I loved the Celtic Frost. All extreme metal comes from Celtic Frost.

Metal’s such a lower-class genre of music. It’s in a perpetual angry defensive crouch. I love it because of that, not inspite of it or ironically. It’s violent and furious. It’s powerless. It’s the music you make simply because you believe in it, in the belief that you can transcend your status/society/what everyone else likes through sheer will. It’s not music you listen to because you expect you’ll get laid though I’ve often found, in my mid-twenties, that it’s attractive in a rebellious sort of way. Listeners will have to defend their love all the time. It’s not an unfair charge, don’t get me wrong. Much of the issue, I suspect, even as metal revels in its filth, is that metal is naively aspirational. It believes a great deal in itself. Regardless of genre, metal has a sort of righteousness about it that’s very complicated. Whether through gore, evil, beer, brotherhood or gloom (thus covering in broad strokes: death, black, thrash, power and doom), it’s not music that’s accessible or inviting. It’s prickly because it’s so righteous. I don’t know any other genre so obsessed with message. It’s also what makes it the most innovative genre of music I know. I’m perfectly capable of writing an essay on French rap and Romanian rock and Arabic hiphop or any other such so don’t cross me on that 😛 It’s difficult to listen to Peste noire without thinking of French romanticism or Georges Bataille or carnival gypsy music. Anything can be folded into an aesthetic after all. Okay, so maybe electronica is just as innovative. But then again, there’s dubstep metal.

I’m a metal elitist. I’m one of those terrible people that will judge your taste in metal if I deem it to be of a lower standard. I’m not like that with anything else, except maybe soccer. While I love a lot of newer stuff and don’t usually call for perpetual reissues of bands’ demos and debut albums, I will take offense if you present false metal as your favorite metal. You’ll run into this issue with lots of folks that like black metal in particular. Black metal’s weird, by the way. There are a lot of racists in it, seeing as much of it’s all about Scandinavia and a glorious, simpler, more warlike time. I once jammed with a bunch of actual neo-nazis despite being quite obviously not-white. It was fun. We drank a lot of beer and they joked that it was a shame that I’d have to fight them in the coming race wars. But at the end of the day, they were just really pleased that someone, anyone, likes Morbid Angel and Immolation and necrophagist. I’m aware of the irony with neo-nazis that worship the guitar skills of a Turkish-German named Muhammad Suicmez but really, you’d have to be wilfully deaf to not recognize sheer talent when you hear it. Them’s the contradictions that make it all worth it though.

But anyways, I expect you have a metalhead in your life and want to get to the serious business of impressing them. Fans of different sub-genres typically don’t agree with each other on what’s good though there are some commonalities. The easiest subgenre to get into is melodic death metal. Stuff like At the Gates, Amon Amarth, Suidakra etc. You’ll actually like that stuff even if you hate all other metal. What I’ll suggest now you’ll classify as acquired taste. They’re not superaccessible but no matter what sort of metalhead you’re dealing with, he or she will agree that you’ve got unimpeachable taste if you pick these. If they don’t, they’re not really metalheads. QED.

My top five metal bands (by which I mean bands I will love always), in no particular order: Celtic Frost, Peste noire, necrophagist, Primordial and The Angelic Process.

Great video or greatest video ever?

Primordial has a DVD coming out soon. Buy it.

What I’m trying to learn to play right now and will probably never succeed at.

Amr Diab

January 4, 2011

You know how there’s music you hated as a kid because it was on all the time but now seems endlessly fascinating? Amr Diab’s like that for me. You couldn’t escape him in the Middle East in the 90s. I told a kid we used to play football against that his Amr Diab football jersey was stupid and he punched me. I love Amr Diab now. This song, ahhh. It’s the standard “darling, it’s your own damn fault I can’t be with you, you broke my heart, now go away and leave me in peace” song but it’s also something so much more.

Shows

December 31, 2010

If you’re in the tristate area, you should come check us out. a) because you love me 🙂 and b) because we’re fucking awesome!!!! You can check us out on myspace or reverbnation. We have the amazing Tony Grend on vocals, Jared negley laying down bass solos and the funk and Kevin Kilroy hitting things in time.

Upcoming Shows:

January 16th Sullivan Hall (214 Sullivan St, New York NY). Tickets $10. 6pm.
January 17th Webster Hall (125 E 11th St, New York NY). TBA. TBA. [Acoustic set.]
January 23rd National Underground (159 E Houston St, New York NY). Cover $10. TBA.
January 29th Wunderbar (3710 11th St, LI City NY). Cover $10. 10pm.

American Exceptionalism

December 3, 2010

Song link http://www.myspace.com/missionariesoftheair

American Exceptionalism
-(c) Missionaries of the Air (2010)

Better be poor here
Than be poor there
That’s what the preacher say
As he combs his hair
As he licks his finger
And reminds the pews
That he raised a family
That he raised his kids

He says
America the beautiful
God gave his eyes to thee
To see profit and loss
And the soldier’s cross
As they destroy your family
Better be poor there

Better to be poor here
Than be poor there
That’s what the preacher’s screaming
With his hands in the air

He says
America the beautiful
God gave his eyes to thee
To see freedoms stride
To defend our pride
From imagined indignity
Better to be poor here

Better to be poor here
Than be poor there
That’s what the bosses’ saying
Drinking Perrier
They say

America the beautiful
God gave his voice to thee
To hear freedoms cry
and the bankers’ sigh
as he steals your property
Better to be poor here

Oh we want to be here, we want to be here
Oh we want to be, be, be, be
Oh we want to be here, we want to be here
Oh we want to be, be, be, be
Oh we want to be here, we want to be here
Oh we want to be,
with you-ooooh

better to be poor here.

We have music!

November 28, 2010

You should check us out on myspace or follow us on Twitter.

We went into the studio a couple days ago and recorded 5 songs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think they were the greatest pieces of music ever 😛 On this high, right now, I think they are. I’m sure you could convince me otherwise but still, they’re pretty amazing and I can’t believe I had anything to do with it all. The musical progression from demo 1 to this has been phenomenal. We’re a much tighter band and Tony’s just perfect. I’ve a good feeling about what’s to come. I shall see you on the other side of a stage.

Shoulder of Orion

July 30, 2010

Music I made

I spent a few days helping produce my best friend’s album. He taught me how to play guitar and in return, I dyed my hair pink and blue, got me a mohawk and jumped around on stage trying to catch the tail end of the rap-rock era. Of course, we’ve moved on to bigger and better things. Mostly dirty sounds from the 70s but I’ll always cherish how we started out and it’s such a pleasure to give back to him. After days of frantic lyric writing and arrangements, my mind needed a break from guitar-based melodies.

Hence my new electronic music alterego :p

I’m in Oman right now where life moves slowly, winding up once in awhile into frantic motion. When I’m not being all business-like, apparently now I write electronic music. I have access to a bass and a MIDI keyboard and a bunch of software so this is what the inside of my head sounds like after watching “The Descent” and “Blade Runner” (my second favorite movie ever) back to back. It’s so damn dancey. Who knew? This is also my first attempt at drum programming. Tentatively, I dub this project Wrecksystem cos it reminds me of space.

Sadie

May 2, 2010

I have a new guitar. Her name is Sadie. She’s orange. She’s a Wildkat. She’s a hollow-body. I love the way she sounds. Not a single guitar store in NYC had her. She had to be special ordered. I played many guitars trying to emulate her sound. Eventually, we drove to Kinnelon, NJ, where they had her at a mall. When I got there, she sounded exactly like she did in my head. It’s the best feeling in the world when your hopes and dreams match reality in that manner.

This is a song we did today. It’s less Southern Gothic than our usual stuff but I love it. Jared and I get to rock out at the end. The lyrics are a Lorine Niedecker poem. Listen to it with headphones (it was recorded via my laptop speakers which isn’t high quality by any means) A version of this song will be the last song on our five song EP, Plate of Fire.

I have a new band. We’re called Missionaries of the Air. One night Jacob and I were at the bar and we’re out in the back with the smokers when Jacob starts belting out a Soundgarden song that impresses pretty much everyone. Including the guy who’s now our bassist, Jared. This is what we sound like when covering Celtic Frost.

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On their sophomore outing, Vancouver’s Entropia have crafted a well thought out sound that is just as much an homage to their bloodline and that of the thrash metal genre as it is original and in a few instances, profoundly so. Consider two album highlights: the retro-thrash anthem “Disciples of Aggression,” the best old Metallica sound-alike I’ve heard in ages and the gorgeous closer “Tears of Blood,” which is both their “Beyond the Realms of Death” as it is a fresh approach to the ubiquitous metal ballad. Marrying these disparate poles of being is what Entropia do best on this album.

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