Author Archive

Metal Mondays: ISIS, in memoriam

“We’ve seen too many bands push past the point of a dignified death and we all promised one another early on in the life of the band that we would do our best to ensure ISIS would never fall victim to that syndrome.”

One of my favorite bands, ISIS ended their 13-year run with a show in Montreal two weeks ago. I spent much of my 19th and 20th years listening to their brooding, paranoid strain of post-metal. Aaron Turner and company synthesized destruction and beauty; a single song, like the one above, offers transcendent instrumentals juxtaposed with guttural fury.

I’ll miss them. Enjoy.

Metal Monday: Hallowed be thy Name

What the fuck is Bruce Dickinson standing on? A scaffold to heaven or hell? Clearly, 1982 was a high water point for power metal stagecraft.

This is one of the finest versions of one of the finest songs by one of the finest metal bands to forever be: Iron Fucking Maiden, “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” Check out the awesome array of jean jackets in the audience and the total lack of women. Consider the air guitar, and Eddie looming in the background. The Confucian ideals of harmony come to mind, and I think the smell of body odor and reefer to nose.

Dickinson has a knack for sculpting a narrative.This tale of final night in the Tower of London would make Sartre headbang with its existential fury. “Could it be that this was all just some grand illusion?” the unknown narrator asks. Maybe it is.

And then you’ve got dueling guitars scaling those same scaffolds. Lights pulling in and out like a noose’s tug. The vocalist wearing a gauntlet. Metal as fuck. And as theatre.

Metal Mondays: Shoulder of Orion

Nerds love metal, nerds love categories; ergo, nerds love categorizing metal. Symphonic death, melo-death, progressive death, doom, black, trad, fantasy, folk and power are a few that I can think of off the top of my head. Also, metal is almost disasterously conservative; the True Believers seem to know what they want to hear from a given genre before listening to a song. Clearly, these rules ought to be punched. Or, maybe, shouldered. By my second favorite constellation.

Shoulder of Orion: Fuck rules.

Shoulder of Orion by Shoulder of Orion

The 15-minute opening track leaps across the heap of subgenres like a hotly pursued ninja across poorly animated ancient houses. If that ninja went from kissing your earlobe to kneeing your groin. Perhaps I’m confusing ninja and geisha again. Regardless, these Brits fucking destroy. And they’ve given away their newest album for free. That’s waffle fries cheap.

Sometimes this band sounds like it would be filling arenas with airy ballads, but then death (growled) vocals come out, the blast beats begins and yes, you do actually hear thunder striking. If you do not have massive speakers, please listen on headphones to get the full effect. I’d liken it to the best kind of rough sex — in a Norwegian thunderstorm.

Jesus Christ. There’s even a cowbell.

Happy Bloomsday, a moment for maximal prose.

1920: James Joyce meets Ezra Pound.

Look at those badass dudes. Probably the best English-language novelist of the 20th century (really, Hemingway shined in short fiction), Joyce has populated our collective consciousness with bildungsroman, streams of consciousness and a lot of Walking Around Dublin. Let us savor the work of the brilliant scribe who departed Ireland when he was young, but could never leave it behind.