Monday, December 31, 2007

Top 10 albums of 2007

Right, at this point, my list is:

10: Earth - Hibernaculum
9: Dethklok - Dethalbum
8: Blut Aus Nord - Odinist
7: Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb
6: The Bombs of Enduring Freedom - S/T
5: Ulver - Shadows of the Sun
4: Darkwood - Notwendfeuer
3: Primordial - To The Nameless Dead
2: Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters
1: Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today

I'll write a little about 'em tomorrow, if I'm in any fit state.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why I hate sports, an analysis.

First off, I was going to write an article about how a close friend of mine was randomly assaulted for no real reason (other than her manner of dress) a few nights ago, but I've cooled off the idea. I could have turned it around to something political or philosophical, but really, there's nothing to say. This society we live in seems to function very well as a machine for turning people into sacks of violent, useless shit and unleashing them on the rest of us, who are after all little better. My friend lives and is in good health. She has managed to find somewhere to live away from the danger of a repeat incident. All is not right with the world, but it's better than it could be.

So, instead I am going to blog on a topic that has been discussed a bit recently on a forum I am a member of. Namely, sports, and why I detest them. But I think for my blog, I shall delve a little deeper into things than I normally do. What I normally offer is a simple enumeration of the reason why I think proffessional sports are a phenomenal waste of time, money and human intellect. I will probably spend most of my time noting things like how the average proffessional footballer earns as much money as six heart surgeons put together, which I still refuse to see how anyone can justify in any way, and maybe then if I'm feeling nasty I'll put in a little reminder about how many small, pathetic-eyed African children are starving to death right at this very moment.

This is all, I hope, old hat. What I feel I should delve into here is why I, personally, hate sports. And make no mistake about it, I HATE sports. The repeated mention of them causes my vision to mist red. I recover my senses ten hours later in a house I've never seen before. There is blood on the walls and a CD player is skipping the track on a childrens party song. A balloon pops in my hand. You get the picture. Well, it's true that I do not understand sports, or at least I do not understand appeal, and I detest the amount of media coverage it gets, such that I find it hard to escape even with my rareified media-consumption habits (which are, by the way, roughly the same as a gay, middle-aged english teacher: Radio 4 and the Guardian, Discovery Channel and Dave for spice). But the same is true for the stock market and organised religon, and I don't...okay, bad examples, but all that's not really the root cause of why I hate sports, though the utter lack of understanding has something to do with it. Oh, and my lack of comprehension of sports is so vast and mute and unfeeling. For me, trying to understand the appeal of competetive sports is like trying to comprehend the form of Yog-Sothoth. This I think though, merely acts as an exacerbator of the rage. It also explains my lack of tolerance, or my inability to just joke it away most or all of the time: I do not enjoy knitting or hip-hop, but I am at least capable, on a number of levels, of understanding what appeal they might have to the devotee. Sports? I don't get it. And this makes arguments with Sports fans worse, because pretty much the first thing they're likely to do is compare sports to music or even (I have had this happen) art or literature. Such an argument punts me securely away from the shores of sanity and into a gesticulating, foaming, bug-eyed rage. I simply cannot comprehend how anyone on earth could be so utterly moronic as to be able to draw a comparison between art and sports. For me this is something like drawing serious comparisons between Ghandi and Stalin (which is an argument I've also seen, believe it or not). It just doesn't compute. There are critical exception errors. Continue the line of reasoning and I'll probably start singing Daisy, Daisy as I slowly expire. This is, by the way, self-analysis and self-criticism, in case you were wondering. What I want to know, in fact, what I do know but don't say, is why I hate sports to this degree.

It is because my hatred of sports is, as all true hatreds must be, utterly and completely personal and largely irrational at its core, only fortified later with sturdy, reasoned arguments. My loathing of sports rises mainly, I guess, from alienation. I never grew up with sports. Neither of my parents, nor any of the other members of the extended family set-up in which I spent my early years care a good goddamn about sports. I get the feeling that there is definitely something of nurture versus nature in the liking of competitive sports. When I think how successfully my father has impressed some of his various interests into me (sailing, real ale, fantasy and sci-fi literature) it seems fairly clear to me that, were he a football supporter, so too would I be. In fact, it seems doubtful to me that something as vital as the passion for sports seems to be in many people can be easily acquired past the ages of childhood. I'm also going to guess that this masculine bonding thing is why so many more men than women are devoted sports fans (not that I missed out on bonding experiences with my father, we just bonded over Tolkien rather than Tottenham). But anyway, I never grew up with sports. Up until the age of five, or whatever, I very much doubt I had any clear idea what football was. It was in school, of course, that the problem started. Now, my distaste for sports does not (surprisingly) relate into a distaste for physical exercise. I enjoy walking, cycling, sailing and, hell, even just working out sometimes. And I was far fitter than I am at the moment at certain times during my school years, such as what seems to me like the year (I'm sure it was about half a summer holiday) when my parents completely abandoned the use of a car in favour of bicycles. I was also, fair enough, a lot fatter and pathetic in certain other school-years. The thing was, that because I never watched sports (we're basically just talking about football here) and didn't care about it I had no desire to perform well at it at school. No role models to follow, as it were. So, I was awful at football. Awful. I didn't even know the rules first time I played it. And believe me, this ineptitude for football did indeed feed into wider social exclusion. You can kind of see whats coming, it's sort of a feedback loop. Infinitely worse than not being able to play football, however, was not being able to TALK about football. Seriously, I only know when there's a world cup on because of the little flags on peoples cars. I don't even know if I have a local football team where I live at the moment. Part of the reason it's great to be at art college is not having to face up to the social exclusion this causes quite so fucking much. I mean, it's utterly alienating. Everyone's talking about this thing. They all seem to know a lot about it, and they care about it, and it interests them, and you just...don't get it. Oh, and you try. You really try. I've tried talking to sports fans, watching games, everything, I just can't get it. The way to know if you're a good friend of mine, actually, is if I will feign interest in a conversation about sports with you. This conversation will normally consist of you telling me everything you know about sports, with me, if I'm lucky, asking some vague query about something I heard on the radio this morning, or some other vague question to keep you talking ("So, Rugby League and Rugby Union, what is the difference, eh?"). I've even tried, on a number of occasions, just trying to blunder through a sports conversation, mainly by nodding or shaking my head at what seem to be appropriate moments. It doesn't work. They can probably smell me.

Anyway, so, we pretty much have the source of my hatred of sports there. Alienation. This is why, as some people suggest when I go off on rants about sports, I can't just 'ignore' sports. I do try to, in so much as it is possible, when they are on the front page of every newspaper. But the thing is, it is my actual ignorance of and non-comprehension of sports that is the root of my hatred of them! Ah sweet ironies! And the worst rants, of course, are when people start talking about sports on the internet. Why do you think I came on the goddamn internet in the first place? I came here to talk about Eastern European folk metal and whether Alucard could beat Vampire Hunter D in a fight (yes he could). Talking about sport on the internet is like an invasion of sanctity or something. This is, of course, a bad thing in me. It is a hackles raising issue, and I need to be better about it. More graceful. But I just can't. I finally, finally have the opportunity to tell all sports fans everywhere that they're drooling neanderthal idiots who are wasting their worthless lives watching other men of no value or worth whose memory history will erase like dust in the wind KICK AROUND A FUCKING LEATHER BALL. YOU ARE ENGAGED IN THE MOST POINTLESS THING MAN COULD EVER IMAGINE, AND I'VE BEEN TO ANIME CONVENTIONS. OH SWEET CUNTING CHRIST!

Okay, that was worryingly satisfying. Lets end this. I don't really know if I got anywhere, but I do still have one question.

Is Vampire Hunter D affected by silver bullets?

Monday, October 29, 2007

A swift update.

I'm going to stop making statements about what I'm going to do with this blog, I think. I'll just use it, though I will try to use it more often...oh DAMN.

Anyway, this post is basically another nail in the coffin of my bete noire: preachy marxists writing about neo-folk. I recently came upon this utter gem, which I think quite neatly shows up most of the problems with all this crap. Get a load of this opening sentence:

"Death in June (DIJ) is not a typical white power nazi band - they do not shave their heads, sing about lynching Blacks or rant about Jewish conspiracies. Nonetheless, DIJ\rquote s unabashed support for fascist ideology and aesthetics is just as strong."

For a start, the acronym is 'Di6'. For a second lets just consider what this sentence is saying or implying. A brief translation: "Death in June aren't nazis. But we can prove they are." Notice the language use 'Death in June is not a typical white power nazi band'. That's it. They've already formed their opinion and yours. And of course, Death in June really aren't a typical white power nazi band. Mainly because they don't espouse white power. Or nazism. Oh, and another point, whilst we're breezing through. Just about the only justified claim this article makes is that Douglas P has expressed an interest in, perhaps at times even an admiration for, Ernst Rohm and the 'left nazis', or national bolsheviks, leading on to the modern idea of third positionism. This may be fascism, but it is NOT nazism.There are no nazis nowadays. The nazi party got disbanded in a remarkably efficient manner 50 years ago. And of course, we haven't made the most important point here: being interested in someone, or admiring someone, does not actually imply you agree with them. There are many historical or contemporary figures who I could personally say I admire, whilst even going as far as condemning them in some other respects. Churchill is an obvious example here. I think him as admiral a figure as any in British history, despite the fact that I very much doubt I would agree with him on any subject whatsoever. I take spiritual advice from Aleister Crowley, a racist dopehead. This isn't unique to me. I doubt many people in the modern western world would actually agree, for example, with Mahatma Ghandi? Yet he is venerated. If you really want a parallel to Rohm, actually, and this would probably resonate well with a website that collates 'left, anarchist and workers texts', then what about Trotsky. You remember Trotsky, he was the nice one. His communism wasn't as bad as everyone elses. He was the progressive who got assasinated by the evil Stalin. Oh, and he was also the head of the Red Army, and presided over the committing of countless atrocities.

I actually quite like Trotsky myself. I have considered adopting "Life is Beautiful" as my personal motto. What I'm trying to show is how flimsy and stupid the arguments used by these people are, how simplistic their view of art and symbolism is. And to justify what? Well, shutting down Di6 shows of course (for other fans, what I am basically saying is that these blowjobs are the reason that Di6 doesn't tour anymore). Is this what anarcho-communist agitators do nowadays? I remember reading an article once (can't find it now, unfortunately), by a very casual Di6 fan and acquintance of Boyd Rice, commenting on this phenomenon. He said (paraphrasing) "At the end of the day, what have these people achieved. They've stopped a gay middle aged englishman singing some depressing folk songs." Seriously, do these people actually think that shutting down neo-folk gigs is striking a blow for freedom? You know, I bet they do. I bet they get together over fairtrade coffee and organic smoothies and pat each other on the back. Because shutting down a Death in June show is a decisive blow against the edifice of tyranny. Never mind that Death in June have no ties to any fascist organisations or record labels. Never mind that there are no racist statements on record from any member of the band. Never mind that Douglas P played more Rock Against Racism gigs with Crisis than these two-bit punks have had infected ear-piercings. Never mind that we're talking about people who haven't yet realised that Boyd Rice's entire life is a joke at the worlds expense. Never mind that half this article is quoted from secondary sources or a gross mis-representation (for example, the gigs that Di6 apparently pulled out of because they were anti-racism or whatever...what evidence is there one is the cause of the other? How many shows has Di6 cancelled where there was no anti-racism message? Hmmnn...) Oh, and never mind the lack of historical knowledge, the hypocrisy. Do you suppose these people blockaded the release of the recent Ian Curtis biopic? Why should they you ask?

Well holy shit. Do you suppose they boycott Creatures gigs?


Well, anyway, that was a nice rant. I could go on and on, but I've already derailed myself enough. Well met, my nonexistant readers, well met.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Taking racism back to Rome.

Okay, so, the music idea goes out of the window...

I have been reading a lot about racism recently. This sprung from me following links whilst researching an essay I have been threatening to write for almost a year now about the use of fascist imagery in neo-folk. This evening, whilst commenting on a blog article about coloured people and tattooing (Racialicious: Is Body Art Just a "White Thing") something suddenly crystallised in my mind. It's about where racism comes from.


American commentators on race in particular normally focus on the idea as the primary promulgators of racism as being white Europeans. But there is another stage of complexity. The saga goes back far, far longer in our culture, to the Roman empire. The idea of white (us) versus coloured (everyone else), of 'The west' versus the rest of the world, this ancient, culturally institutionalised racist creed originates, in fact, with the Roman empire. And therefore, the first victims of the saga of racism which contintues to this day were, in fact, white. And that is also somewhat at the core of the great problem of racism. Rome, and its later successors, the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire, and their successors, protestantism, the renaissance and classicism, homogenised Europe, often at sword point. And thus, white people have no culture to call their own. Because of course, 'white people' are not one group at all. We are, we were, a number of distinct, vibrant, cultures: Celts, Gauls, Germans, Saxons, Thracians, Goths, Britons, Rus, Norse etc. etc. These were all swallowed by Roman, and later christian, culture. And once, after many atrocities and impositions, they had been thoroughly romanised, they took as their own Romes most fundamental property: fear of the other. And, more than that, the need to conquer the other to be safe. Commentators have often pointed out that people are unwilling to define 'white culture'. Some doubt it exists. And of course it doesn't. It was taken from us. Thousands of years ago, so long ago that we don't even remember it. In America, especially, they have very little of what I would call Europes true ethnic culture: over here it barely clings on in the face of globalisation and other forces. A folk dance here, a saying or tradition there. No wonder we are so guilty of the appropriation of other cultures that some anti-racist activists so bitterly (and maybe rightly) complain about. We haven't got our own! We've been searching for one for thousands of years, but that break has never quite healed. This, I think, is the void at the heart of 'white' culture. The 'lack of soul' african-americans sometimes talk about. I feel like I have somehow known this for some time, though it has all just crystallised in my head. My love of folk culture and my largely pagan spirituality has never felt more justified to me. But also, another point emerges, a point I've always been sure to be true. Racism is 99% cultural. And that culture isn't even ours! It's a culture of slavery and atrocity and grotesque militarism that should have died thousands of years ago but has just kept on, and on, and on. The rhetoric of GW Bush and Ceasar differ only in terminology. Democracy and civilisation. Hollow, horrible things. Fuck them all!

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Triumphant Return?

I need to write more. I have decided this. And where better do I have to write than here? This is the longest running and most active blog I've ever tried to keep. So lets try to keep it alive. What I think I'll do is focus it back on music, as it was supposed to be when I started it, upon realising that no music bloggers wrote about what I would consider good music: dark and wierd things from the fringes of culture, the Sopor Aeternuses and Blood Axises, the Current 93s and the Cryptic Wintermoons, the Demilichs and the Darkthrones, the Coffin Shakers, Alien Vampires, Immortals, Laibachs, Changes and Legendary Pink Dots. Metal, Industrial, Goth, Neo-folk, Punk and all the wierd shit that floats around that axis are my forte. These are the unhappy hunting grounds I plan to stalk. It will get me writing, keep me thinking and hopefully make me more pro-active in acquiring new music. I may even start writing for Evening of Light again after an enormous slump. Who knows?

Musings (hopefully) to follow...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Musical Archeaology: 10 Reasons I survived being 15

I've had this post in draft form for months. I think it's time to finish it off and post it, not to mention starting to post regularly again:

I don't think any of us can ever boast that their musical taste has ever been impeccable. Mine, I maintain, has been consistently better than most peoples: I was raised on Bob Dylan and prog rock, went through a major classical phase when I was about 10, and then lived in limbo until I discovered heavy metal when I was 14. It was an important moment in my life. Though even now my promises of 'metal for life' seem hopelessly naive, heavy metal has always been there for me since those first, now risible, moments of our meeting. I can still clearly remember sitting at my computer playing through five or so metallica tracks I had scraped off kazaa (goodness how time flies) and thinking 'this is so fucking awesome'. A few weeks later I bought my first CD that was not a duplicate of some element of my parents music collection (Rammstein - Mutter, still a damn fine album and I don't care what anyone thinks) and then I never looked back. Soon I was growing in to a promising little metal nerd, as it (thankfully, probably) slowly began to replace anime as the mainstay of my imaginative life, and it changed me definitively for the better. Metal gave me an identity when I most needed one, it gave me clothes to feel good about wearing, it gave me a sense of belonging, it gave me self-confidence. Despite the fact that I became perhaps even more of an outsider I began to be able to keep my head level in the face of the bullies who mocked me every day, and had for long years, and the teachers who tore up my doodles and told me I'd never amount to anything unless I could do long division. Metal gave me the ability to say 'fuck it all' and stand proud away from the herd which I never had and never would be part of. It might not be too much of a stretch to say I owe my life to it. At the very least, I owe the person I am now to it, and for that I should be thankful. Friday was my birthday (Well, it was when I started writing this...), and an occasion for me to reflect (in between stein-fulls of super snakebite that left me feeling like I'd been mainlining agent orange the next morning) on how my life had changed, and, quite frankly to laugh at my younger self. And, lets face it, though he was entirely necessary for me to exist now, he was a bit of a twat. His musical taste was naieve and a bit shit, and he would have probably cried if you'd told him so. His dress sense was abysmal, he didn't wash enough, and he once spent a whole summer holiday wearing atrocious black theatrical lipstick in the mistaken belief it would make him more 'goth'. He was far too passionate about vampires, once gave himself a nosebleed just so he could paint in his own blood and radiated an exclusion zone of roughly fifty feet inside which no respectable female would be seen dead. If I met him today, I doubt I would get on with him, not at least until I'd forced him to listen to Blood Axis anyway. But, he wasn't that bad. In fact, he was just like a lot of kids of his age who we spend a lot of time laughing at and belittling
their musical taste, especially, in the kind of internet communities I am a member of. We forget that to these kids what we consider, perhaps rightly, to be complete shit is in fact as essential to their continued existence as oxygen. So, this is pretty much just an exercise to humble myself, as well as to rekindle some sympathy for those smelly little moshers who might someday, if they eat their greens and do their homework, grow up to be someone like me. Poor cunts.

So, here goes: a top ten of songs that allowed me to survive the first year of my GCSEs, probably one of the shittest years of my life, and an explanation of why they rocked so damn much. These are the angry songs, the powerful songs, the angst-ridden ones. I never stopped listening to the Beatles or Pink Floyd, but this stuff was something quite different to that. Some of them I still like, some of them I would never think of listening to in a month of sundays, so choosing them has been a quite pleasant little nostalgia trip in to the land of guilty pleasures. So, what did I listen to alone in my room, all those years ago, in between sessions of furiously masturbating to bad vampire fanfics on the internet and reading David Eddings books?

1. Rammstein - Adios

Ah, Rammstein. I took German because of these loveable gimp-suited tykes, and I did abysmally at it too, the bastards. Germans continually delight in telling me that if I understood Rammsteins lyrics there's no way I could like them, but this is obviously not true, as Rammsteins lyrics are literally the only things I can say in german beside 'Keine Mayo' and 'Bier, Bitte', which are just completely essential if you want to stay alive in a country that actively promotes Tokio Hotel and unfiltered Camel cigarettes.

2. Jack off Jill - Horrible

This is, of course, not a metal tune by any stretch of the imagination. But then, when I was 15, I didn't know this. Everything from AFI to Venom to the Sex Pistols to Satyricon was simply grouped as 'music that doesn't suck', entirely distinct from precisely everything I would ever hear being played on the radio. Jack Off Jill, is, basically, music for 14 year old girls who wear stripey tights to weep and cut hearts into their arms with a pair of scissors to, who only achieved any sort of prominence whatsoever because their singer once fucked Twiggy Ramirez. I still adore them.

3. Cradle Of Filth - Queen Of Winter, Throned

Black metal fans often like to think of themselves as strong, honourable, unfettered by Christian morals, and all that jazz. So I think it's time they had the strength to just stand up and admit that Cradle of Filth produced some fucking brilliant songs. I distinctly remember when I first heard this song (November 5th, 2003), only because it was bonfire night and because of what I was doing at the time, but damn. Over ten minutes of bombast, quotes from Dracula, needlessly ornate keyboards and a fat lady singing. It's quite excellent.

4. Iron Maiden - Aces High

Of the whole list, this is probably the song I still like most. And that is the way it should be, because, lets be frank here people, if you've ever been a teenage boy and you don't like Iron Maiden, there's probably something terribly wrong with you. Or you're a scally. So, same thing really...

5. Dimmu Borgir - Puritania

At one point in my life, now thankfully past, I was of the unshakeable belief that this was quite plainly the heaviest and most evil song ever. It's far from it of course, but you can't deny it does have a certain something. In fact, if this was what Dimmu Borgir actually sounded like, rather than a one-off, I'd still probably be listening to them. There is a small list of people who I would still cheerfully murder if I could get away with it whose faces I used to imagine stamping on in time to this one. In fact, when I listen to it again, which I will do right now, I'm sure I shall remember every word and every face.

We will do away with your kind
Countdown to exterminate the human race
4, 3, 2, 1

Let chaos entwine
On defenseless soil
Remove errors of man
And sweep all the weakening kind

I am war, I am pain
I am all you've ever slain
I am tears in your eyes
I am grief, I am lies

Bygone are tolerance
And presence of grace
Scavengers are set out
To cleanse the human filth parade

I am pure, I am true
I am all over you
I am laugh, I am smile
I am the earth defiled

I am the cosmic storms
I am the tiny worms
I am fear in the night
I am bringer forth of light"

Aaaaah. I can feel the misanthropy flowing. You know, it's occured to me I still pretty much do this, except I've swapped Dimmu Borgir for Boyd Rice and the Count Nosferatu Kommando.

6. My Chemical Romance - Vampires Will Never Hurt You

Probably the two things I am most thankful for in my life regarding my musical development are the fact that I never really liked nu-metal, and the fact that I was never a fucking emo. That said, I did used to really quite like My Chemical Romances first record. When I first heard it, which must have been some time in late 2002, they were actually both pretty underground and, to my ears at least, something quite new. I saw them live on their first UK tour, my first proper gig (apart from high school bands and tribute acts) and it was great. Their lyrics were some of the most pretentious stuff I'd heard up to that point (though obviously nothing quite up to Cradle of Filth standards) and their music wasn't bad either. I liked the ridiculously melodramatic delivery, and with my vampire obessession, this track was a given. Their second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, on which the band decided to dress up like idiots (when I saw them they still wore normal clothes) and ditch reasonably interesting and cool lyrics about vampires and crime sprees for poetic abortions like 'It's Not a Fashion Statement, It's a Fucking Deathwish' was probably, along with developing an interest in real goth rock when I was 16, the thing that definitively saved me from ever having an assymetric fringe (And lets face it, I'm a big guy: I'd have looked absolutely ridiculous). I put the first album at the back of my cupboard, deleted it from my hard disk, and have barely listened to them since when I can avoid it.

7. Marilyn Manson - Cake And Sodomy

Luckily, I hit puberty properly maybe two or three years too late to be a proper Manson fan, but I was still a teenager, I was still alive in the nineties, and I still owned a trench-coat. This number, off one of his earlier albums, was exactly offensive and angry enough to be right up my street. "I am the god of Fuck": what does it mean? Who knows! It'll piss off your parents no end though.

8. In Flames - Pinball Map

In Flames were for me, like for so many people, my introduction into the wonderful world of Melodic Death Metal, one of the hard core of bands who helped something like real heavy music become briefly, wonderfully popular for a few years after the nu-metal fiasco, before everyone either got boring or jumped ship on to the metalcore bandwagon. In Flames were, unfortunately a part of that second group. Luckily, I got to see them live back in 2004, before the rot had completely set in: owing to their punishing touring schedule as both headliner and supporting act I have seen them every single year since, and will probably see them again this year at Wacken. They ain't getting better, though to be fair it's not through lack of enthusiasm. They remain a good live act, but the quality of their set deterioriates with every new album. This is the track they opened with live, the first time I saw them, complete with pyrotechnics and rock and roll kicks from guitarists and bassist as they sprung into life. It was the first time I had seen a band that I genuinely loved live. By Cloud Connected I was actually in tears. This is classic In Flames, from the Clayman album, full of classic gothenburg riffs and completely unintelligible english as a second language, dictionary-composed lyrics ("Conflict serum is my aura?"). I don't listen to this anymore, for several reasons. First, because I burned out, but second, because I realised that even at their pinnacle In Flames were by far the most boring MDM band. Dark Tranquillity, Arch Enemy, At The Gates and, of course, my personal favourites, the immortal fucking EDGE OF SANITY, now those are acts I still headbang to...

9. Murderdolls - 197666

"In 197666 I was born a bastard and a son of a bitch
'Cos I'm sick! Sick motherfucker siiiiiiiiiiiick!"

Don't think it really needs any more explanation than that. I must admit, whilst we're here, that I am still a fan of everything to do with Wednesday 13 from the first Frankenstein Drag Queens album all the way through to his solo material. It's a bit like Alice Cooper meets the Misfits: bad make-up and b-movie references are pretty much all it takes to make me like a band really. Also, there are some damn good songs, even if I don't dig it quite like I used to. I wish 'God is a Lie' had been around when I was 15.

10. Children Of Bodom - Hate Me!

Though I still think Alexi Laiho has some mean chops (the solo at the start of Needled 24/7, the other main contender for a Bodom track for this release, is just frankly fucking ridiculous) the Hatecrew are the band that have probably fallen farthest for me on this list, followed closely by My Chemical Romance, In Flames and then Dimmu Borgir (The others I still listen to a bit more than once in a blue moon (Or quite often in the case of Maiden), though normally for entirely different reasons than what I used to, because quite frankly some of it just amuses me nowadays). I feel like I need to qualify this, as it might make it seem to the casual reader that I think My Chemical Romance are better than Children of Bodom. I used to listen to Children of Bodom like it was a religion. They are still 28th in my charts despite the fact that I am pretty damn sure I can't have listened to more than ten tracks in the past year. They used to be number one. I both burned out, overplaying their relatively compact discography, and found better things: once you've discovered Dissection and Cryptic Wintermoon, CoB just seem...pointless.

There was more than this, of course, but ten seems a sensible number. And maybe even after this I don't want to admit I was a Zeromancer fan.

Oh Shiiiiiiiiiiiii-

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Free will vs. God

Sorry for the extended absence. It's been a couple of extremely hectic months.

Original Blog Post

I was directed to this blog post by its author. It is one of those charming but muddled attempts to demonstrate that God absolutely must exist, using a somewhat jumbled mish-mash of science and philosophy. The author presented it to me with a degree of patronising smugness that almost begged me to annihilate it. Which is, thankfully, not hard.

The main defect of this argument is, obviously, it's christian-centric focus. The argument eventually boils down to stating that, for free will to exist, there must be a supernatural soul, therefore there must be a God. The author explicitly states that he is pre-supposing the existence of the Christian God, and therefore he does not bother to debate it. But it is, in fact, the heart of the matter. Even if one accepts the first part of the argument (a mish-mash of the human-centric conceit that because the rules of the universe are perfect for the formation of life, that they must have been set up expressly to create life. Hint: of course the laws of physics are conducive to life. We'd hardly be here if they weren't. The production of life against all odds would be a much stronger proof for a creator, yet life and its conditions exist in abundance.) then there is no reason for one to accept the second. This argument would work just fine for Buddhism, or Taoism, or Islam, or Wicca, or absolutely any religion that believes in some sort of soul really. Meanwhile, the free will argument is also weak: the author tackles only classical determinism, reducing the complexity of the debate on free will to a high-school simplification. Quantum physics is cherry-picked and misunderstood. The simultaneous existence of states of subatomic particles, the role of the observer, uncertainty theory, multiverse theory, all are overlooked. The author doesn't even seem to understand the nature of the Christian God: omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. God can't be put on a timeline at all, because, in a physics sense, God would be some sort of vast hypercube.

Anyway, what I'm saying is, it's crap, and I'm back, baby.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Mosh.

You know, I remember when I really used to enjoy moshpits. And then, something happened. No, it was not me growing up, it was the importing of fucking hardcore dancing. Must have been two, maybe three years ago now that, in the south at least, the tide definitively turned. Where once you had had what I would basically describe as a unified releasing of violent energies, the moshpit at most recent gigs I've been to has basically been retards in hoodies and bandanas across their mouths punching the floor, doing ridiculous 'karate' kicks, windmilling and punching people. Newsflash. Moshing is not about punching people. Man, I remember when I learnt to mosh, and the first things I learned where stuff like, basically, moshing is not punching people in the fucking head, and also that moshing involves a certain amount of decorum, basically vis a vis picking people up when they fall over and not wearing jewellery covered in three inch spikes or holding lit cigarettes whilst you did it. This is out. The twisted hyper-macho culture of modern hardcore, it seems, is definitely in, and what a shame. Last time I moshed was at Wacken Open Air, when I saw Finntroll. It was brutal, but not dangerous. I knew I could count on someone to haul me to my feet if I got knocked over, I knew that someone would haul me or surf me out if I looked in a bad way, I knew that I'd do the same for someone else. I don't get that feeling at mosh-pits in the UK anymore. I wonder how far we are from the truly idiotic excesses of the American mosh pit? (One recalls tales of leather jackets with razorblades sewn sharp end out, of key-chains detached and used as weapons, of pits used as cover to administer brutal beatings, of goodness knows what else.)

Now, you know, I'm sure some people would basically think that I'm a pussy for saying this sort of stuff, that moshing should be 'no limits', or whatever, but that just ain't so. I mean, for a start, a lot of people go to a gig not wanting to mosh. When you've got what I consider a classic mosh-pit, which is basically based on slamming in to each other and pushing and whatnot, you can easily navigate your way around the pit, and survive quite happily on the edges without getting involved. Try that with 20 16 year olds in too-tight jeans windmilling like the air conditioning broke and someone's chain-smoking cheap cigars. Hell, try doing anything. I tend to stand off to one side with a beer and wait for someone to break their nose. The whole point of moshing should be that its controlled. You can be violent and shove people about and whatnot, but you're probably not going to suffer the consequences of a real fight, like being punched to the floor and having your head kicked by four other guys. Yeah, well, you just can't guarantee that ain't going to happen anymore. I link it to the general lack of cameraderie that exists amongst certain elements of this whole new hardcore/deathcore/whateverthefuckcore scene.
Yeah, of course, there's partying and sleeping on floors and all that shit that goes with any music scene, but I've also seen a girl actually try to claw another girls face off because she stole her [i]myspace friends[/i]. If I meet a metalhead in the pub, we'll probably get chatting and a few hours later we'll be buying each other drinks and queuing up Maiden on the jukebox. Two hardcore kids meet and there's as much chance they'll have an argument about Bella Kiss and end up stealing each others girlfriends. Yeah, I know I'm generalising, and that the metal scene is full of complete cocks too (and oh it most certainly is), but it has got something, what Manowar would call 'The brotherhood of metal', that just brings people together. I see less and less of that every time I go to a gig here. I don't go to gigs to be the only one headbanging. As (I think it was the frontman of The Inbreds once said) "Come on you bastards! You didn't grow your hair long for the girls, did ya?" Maybe it's why I go to so few gigs now (that and the fact that seriously there is never anything fucking on in Bournemouth).

Well, anyway, I got to rant every now and then about complete crap, clear the system you know?

As an aside, I am finding it hellaciously difficult to compile my end of year list this year. It's not necessarily that this years been bad in music, its that I've been so involved in listening to older stuff and buying vinyl and expanding my movie collection and whatnot that I've barely caught anything that was actually released this year. My rough outline for the top 10 looks as follows:

1. Current 93 - Black Ships Ate the Sky
2. Agalloch - Ashes Against the Grain
3. Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death
4. Countess - Holocaust of the God Believers
5. Korpiklaani - Tales Along This Road
6. Amon Amarth - With Oden on Our Side
7. Placebo - Meds
8. Drudkh - Blood in Our Wells
9. Devin Townsend Band- Synchestra
10. Kalmah - The Black Waltz

But I'm completely unsure about the order, or whether I really want all those on there. It will take a lot more listening (I mean, seriously, how do you do a quality comparison between Placebo and Drudkh, that is hard shit). Writing stuff may also turn out to be hard: I only really consider the first four of those albums to be truly great, and even then in some cases I don't have my opinion down in stone. And there's a lot of stuff I really need to listen to before I can be happy with this list: I mean, as shamed as I am to say it, I have not heard the new Napalm Death, the new Laibach, or the new Bal-Sagoth, all three of which I'm sure I will love the shit out of, nor have I heard the new Katatonia, Throbbing Gristle, Entombed, Oomph!, Queensryche, Danzig, Seabound, Strapping Young Lad, Clan of Xymox, Bob Dylan, Eisbrecher, Blind Guardian, Motorhead or Killing Joke (though I do have the 7"), most of which I am bound to like to a lesser or greater degree and could easily be used to expand my list up to maybe even the hallowed top 25. And that's just the releases I haven't heard that I've heard about. Goodness knows what incredible things are rotting away on unknown internet labels I've never heard of. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, the blank truth is I have only listened to 14 new things this year. 11 of them were albums (the other one was Thornography). The other three were Death in June's 'Free Tibet' (which to be fair I wouldn't but on anything as it marks, if anything, the nadir of their career so far), Ewigkeit's 'Return to the Land of Fog' re-release and an free Agitated Radio Pilot EP that I've formed no solid opinion on yet.

So, yeah, might not even bother doing a proper top-list this year. Kind of sucks I know. I might just do a list of the twenty best albums I discovered this year. That might be more interesting.