Monday, July 21, 2008

New Metal

Well it ain't exactly new, but I've had a hankering for some metal sometimes for that long drive home, or sometimes while I'm sitting in the tractor now that I have an MP3 player to drag along. Since I've discovered my 'lost' stash of low-res MP3's from the old days of the early 21st century, and I've had a player to bring them along, I've been able to sample stuff I've owned but didn't listen to because the fidelity was not that great and made them not worth constantly burning cd's for portability's sake. Flash memory is a godsend for portable tunes- dump 'em on, listen, and toss 'em off when done, no waste. It's great that I got a fancy car stereo that let's me play files off a usb drive, and makes tuneage portability that much easier. And since some may say I'm a hypocrite for going MP3, I need to stress that these are for portable use only, and not for 'home listening', or for archiving, for that matter. Who gives a shit anyway, I'm talking about my latest finds in METAL.
Sacred Reich. Jason Goodrich used to listen to these guys in high school, and I may have borrowed a tape once. Anyway, I'd forgotten them, but tossed them on recently while in the tractor cab doing the back-and-forth monotony thing. Wearing earbuds under earmuffs in an air-cooled 73HP German diesel tractor with an airblast sprayer wailing at full speed is not a situation for 'critical listening', so this sort of music fits the bill. These guys play balls-to-the-wall no frills speed/thrash with a decided leftist lyrical bent. Vocals and major songwriting are handled by bassist Phil Rind, with the resulting sound a rhythmic and bottom-heavy speed stew. Heal, their 1996 release, is some pretty solid stuff, and the title track stands out as among the best metal songs out there. What I like most here is that unlike the new breed of metal where bands seem to feel a need to up the 'scary factor', complete with those brillo-throated vocals, Rind's voice is just basic metal shouting.

Mercyful Fate. These guys certainly have the melodrama that Sacred Reich lack, with operatic, wailing, sometimes hushed, somewhat boogity-boo scary lyrics thanks to vocalist King Diamond. The music is tight, full of changes and dynamics, and superbly played. Well worth picking up, since I'm sure you can find it in the used bins by now.

Yours in RAWK,


Friday, July 18, 2008

The piss-poor state of modern music professionals expands...

In a recent blog post the music editor for our local Alternative Newsweekly laments the loss of his hard drive on his MacBook, and the resulting loss of some 60,000 songs collected through. There's a few problems I have with this, and his slight whining about it. First, I thought Macs were indestructible? Actually I knew they weren't, but the hubris exhibited by many Mac owners who feel that their machines are so good that the most basic computer safety procedures can be ignored is amazing. I mean, backup drives are ridiculously cheap, and software will automate it for you. There’s no excuse.
Second, 60,000 songs on a laptop drive? Maybe my math is off a bit, but my 250 GB drive at home is holding 10000 high-res FLAC files and 15000 mid- and low-res MP3’s (most are copies of the FLACS for car listening) and it's approaching full. That many songs on a single drive would require low bitrate files as a default. My problem with this? The city’s (state’s?) arguably highest-profile music editor doesn’t need to be an audiophile (a word he often uses in the completely wrong context), but the music samples he reviews and uses for reference should be of reasonable sound quality, and <160 kbps MP3 simply is not. On that note, it amazes me that this resource, that being the reference music library for the state's preeminent Arts rag, contains no physical media? I mean, what about liner notes, fidelity, and protecting oneself from this hard drive business?
I don't mean to be a dick, but I would expect more from 7D and their music man. But then again this is the guy who steered me towards buying that Tapes n' Tapes garbage...


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Greg Calbi on the Loudness Wars...