Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Never Enough CD Finds Department

This evening I was in Tower Records, of all places, going through their used CD racks. I wasn't terribly hopeful--and in the end I was proven right, given there was one Emperor live CD, one Aeternus CD, and a smattering of hair metal among tons of pop drivel. But luckily for me, I started at the other end of the racks, and one of the first things I found was Zeni Geva's Total Castration LP. YAY!!!

OK, I know I've mentioned Zeni Geva here before. I've even pointed you at mp3s hosted by Alternate Tentacles, Jello Biafra's label, which has the good taste to have released the Zeni Geva albums Desire For Agony and Freedom Bondage. (For that matter, Skin Graft Records had released their earlier album Nai-Ha, and an mp3 for the track "Autobody" is hosted on their audio page, fourth from the bottom.) But I don't think I ever attempted to describe why exactly I like Zeni Geva so damned much.

And it is hard to describe Zeni Geva's appeal, except to say that if you're tired and disgusted with the state of metal, punk, noise, or any other genre you may name, Zeni Geva may well be the tonic you need. Even Steve Albini of Big Black, whose personal motto may well be "I hate EVERYTHING," is not only a fan but their co-producer and occasional collaborator. It may help that Zeni Geva is simutaneously very Japanese in sound, both in their lyrics which are mostly in Japanese and in their sense of harmony, and yet so atypical of Japanese music, too raw, too heavy, too experimental for comparisons with other Japanese bands.

Zeni Geva founder K.K. Null was a Japanese electronic noise pioneer before "Japanoise" became trendy--and yet Zeni Geva isn't Japanoise. Zeni Geva is often championed by the punk scene both in Japan and abroad, and prefer looser arrangements and fuzzed-out guitars over more technical music--and yet they aren't punk either. The band is often compared to Godflesh in terms of how their multi-layered minimalism creates an oppressive atmosphere without relying on doom metal formulas--and yet they aren't industrial metal. The lyrics cover topics that would be familiar to any death metal fan and the music is appropriately brutal--and yet they aren't death metal, either. The songs often lock onto an odd groove that is irresistable and, dare I say it, FUN--and yet they aren't GROOVY.

In short, part of Zeni Geva's appeal is that they cannot be so easily pigeon-holed into any category. They are a very, VERY unique musical entity, and very addictive if you give them an honest listen. I know I'm hooked--I'm excited enough about them to have made this write-up after finding just one CD.

Then again, that's one more CD towards having a complete Zeni Geva collection. The only other major CDs I miss are Maximum Money Monster and All Right, You Little Bastards--and then I'm collecting extremely rare LPs, EPs, and cassettes, as well as Null's side projects and solo efforts. I already own a few of those, as is.

Being a collector is in some ways a nastier habit than writing for a blog. While spewing out one's inner thoughts on a needlessly public forum designed just for one's inner thoughts shows excessive self-importance, it won't bankrupt you the way that collecting will. That doesn't mean I'll stop doing either--especially if I can write about collecting. And if that means writing about collecting Zeni Geva CDs, I guess it can't be THAT bad of a habit. And I can quit smoking anytime. No, really.

Never EVER Enough Earplugs Department

As Devin Townsend might put it:


I was a bit dumb Sunday night. In my anxiety to get out of the house in time for the Nile show, I forgot to bring earplugs. Thea had a pair in her purse, so she was OK during the onslaught. Fortunately I found that the bar section of the club had earplugs for sale, but not before having to endure Napalm Death without 'em. As is, my tinnitus was very short-lived, but could've been avoidable if I had paid attention the first time I was at the bar.

See, I remembered the M�torhead/Morbid Angel/Today Is The Day show last May. Oh, that was a FUN show, as readers of this blog will recall. But my ears rang for over two days afterwards. My pal Hellpope Huey recalled how a mutual friend lost his hearing working in the aerospace industry and needed acupuncture just so he could hear something except deep bass frequencies--so he warned me to wear earplugs. I sorta heeded. I tried, anyhow. Sorry, Huey.

I didn't need earplugs as badly for the first three acts anyhow, as the amps weren't THAT cranked, and we were in the back of the club anyhow. The Graceland has an elevated area with tables and benches, and Thea needs to sit some of the time lest her endometriosis get the best of her. We got to the club an hour before the doors opened, after enjoying a lovely Thai dinner with our new friend Robert, co-subscriber to the Yahoo! group queerMETAL, his boyfriend Justin, and their friend Shaunda. Thea got the Volcano Hen, a small roasted bird set aflame at the table after being baked and basted in a delicate broth of Thai spices. I had a couple of bites--it was tasty. Plus, I got to make metal-signs and evil faces when it was lit, while Thea muttered something about offerings to her Dark Lord. Fun fun.

Back to the club: Since we arrived early enough, before a line had formed, we found a table in a corner with ample bench seating all around, and thus were relatively comfortable during the onslaught. And what a wonderful onslaught it was! First, The Berzerker from Australia came out with their rubber demonic monster masks and cranked some industrial-tinged death metal that was rather mosh-worthy, if a bit repetitive. In time they'll be a force to be reckoned with, once they've become more seasoned and well-rounded.

Next was former Steve Vai vocalist Devin Townsend and his splended chaotic "cybermetal" band Strapping Young Lad, providing hands-down the most insane, energetic, balls-out, no-holds-barred, fantastic performance of the evening. In fact, given the energy level of the band, it's a wonder that they let 'em be a supporting act! I guess it helps that Devin is funny and freaky--he started the show by mentioning that on the tour so far they've been in ten cities, eating shitty Mexican food, and spraying their stool in bathrooms everywhere, but since being in Seattle and eating our food, he's had, to quote him, "FOUR... PERFECT... MARBELIZED... TURDS!!!" And then the band launched into their most crazed song to my knowledge, "Oh My Fucking God!"--which you can actually hear on in its live, uncensored form. For that matter, you really should check out the website for his personal label, Hevy Devy Records--the man's got four SYL albums, four solo albums, one punk parody side-project, and two bands he personally produces, with more brilliant metal music for practically every taste except the boring heard-it-before kind.

After a short intermission, Sweden's melodic death metal champions Dark Tranquility came out and played a set of very nice music. But, while they are quite talented, they should not have played after SYL!!! After The Berzerker, their talents would've looked better. But they just don't have the energy to compete with madmen like SYL. Indeed, while I did enjoy Dark Tranquility, they would've been better off playing an open-air concert, with couples laying on the grass, smoking pot and hooting their support. But a nightclub with a young, mosh-hungry crowd is not their best possible venue. They were there mainly for the acts yet to come.

And Napalm Death didn't disappoint that mosh-hungry crowd, or me for that matter. While there was concern for a while that Napalm Death was getting old, soft, and predictable, their last two releases have the band returning to their hardcore-influenced death/grind roots with a vengeance, and that was reflected in their savage and LOUD performance. They covered every nook and cranny of their career, from their early Scum album to their latest, included a brutal version of "Greed Killings" from their underrated Diatribes album, and didn't let up one sweat-soaked moment. My personal highlight was when I shouted out "NAZI PUNKS FUCK OFF!" in reference to their Dead Kennedys cover--and then they played it in all its glory. In between they had plenty of vindictive moments of lambasting wars fought for corporate interests (like the present one), the British Royal Family, and their current nemesis, the music industry. My heart was full of joy and pounding bass, and while my aging ears might've wanted some protection, I was happy to experience that show in its total rawness.

But even as I ran to the bar for those earplugs, I was eager to hear the saviors of death metal, Nile, whose total devotion to Egyptian and Assyrian themes--in contrast to the worn-out sophomoric satanism of many of their peers--provides a much needed contrast and endless inspiration for revived atavistic brutality. Nile uses three vocalists in rotation during each song, each with his own unique deep demonic growling style, and couples it with Middle-Eastern styled riffing in balance with the precision thudding of the lower registers. A bit testosterone-poisoned they may well be, but they seem to know how to use it on stage, as they set off the most ferocious moshing of the night. Even their appropriation of Grieg's "Mars" from The Planets Suite, renamed "Ramses, Bringer Of War," could've sounded hokey but instead was used like a warclub to smash down upon weaker pretenders to the death metal throne. And they smashed away the whole of their set, not letting up until the very end. Despite the earplugs I was still blown away, and when they come to Seattle again I will be there.

My only regret was that the mighty Voivod, originally scheduled to be on the tour, had pulled out so they could record their new album with former Metallica and Flotsam Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted, who I'm happy to report is now a permanent member of the band. Voivod has been a favorite of mine since their Dimension Hatr�ss album, and it does my heart glad that Newsted left the corporate bloat that Metallica has become to join a band that is both sellout-proof and dedicated to producing weird, innovated extreme metal. I missed not seeing them at this show, but I wish them all well and can't wait to hear the results!

And there you have it--a somewhat mutilated report, not covering everything--like the guy in the Harodl Arthur McNeill painted leather jacket who accidently gave Robert a shower with his wet hair, or the friends of Robert we met whose name I only vaguely remember (Bill?).... Uh, I think I just added those details. That's a sign that I should go to bed soon.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Never Enough Unrestrained Enthusiasm Department


I'm going to the Nile show.


Thursday, January 23, 2003

Never Enough Web Comic Crises Department

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Keenspace is down--and with it, fully TWO-THIRDS of the comics I read!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Never Enough Feedback Department

Although I've had an e-mail link at the top of the page, I've always wanted more feedback on this site than I often get. So I've created a guestbook that you can read or--better yet--sign to let me know what you think. Feel free to go at it!

Monday, January 20, 2003

Never Enough SubGenius Blues Hymns Department

I've completed "Where's The Slack In That?" and, while it could be better, I'm mostly happy with the way it turned out. The only way to make it better is to find some old Delta Blues guitarist who'll bang away on his gee-tar while wailin' away at the lyrics. As is, considering I was using Finale and Pro Tools, both of which I've only begun to learn, I'm fairly satisfied with the results.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Never Enough New Groups To Run Department

I know I've been silent for the past couple of weeks, but that's just as well, as I've been keeping busy with my new Yahoo! group and webring, Transgender Headbangers. It's proving to be a fun bunch, lots of crazy sick bitches--just my kind of people!

But there are a few things I can add to the list of updates and general merriment. First, despite my anti-Christmas sentiment, I did receive some nice Yule presents--a new pair of hair sticks, a new computer chair, a pair of rubber riding boots (which didn't fit, alas, but will be replaced with a leather pair soon), and best of all, two tickets to see Nile, Napalm Death, Dark Tranquility, Strapping Young Lad, and The Berzerker on January 26!!! And yes, I'll post a concert review once I've recovered.

Second, I'm still unemployed, but still hopeful and relieved that federal unemployment assistance has been extended another three months. Something's got to give, soon.

Third, Thea just applied for a day job, accompanying the mentally handicapped on trips to cafes, bowling alleys, movie theaters, etc. Hopefully she'll land that job, which would improve our income greatly--enough, we think, to move into a roomier apartment in an older house, complete with fireplace.

Fourth, I'm taking a break from alt.slack for a while. I don't frop much anymore, and it's just not as funny without frop.

Fifth, I'm learning Pro Tools and Finale, and between the two I've begun working on songs that have been trapped in my head for some time. I'll post details once I've completed the first one, a bluesy SubGenius hymn called "Where's The Slack In That?"

Speaking of which, Thea is working a late night shift, which means I could work on that song tonight if I so choose. I think I shall....