A Different Kind of Truth
The last three or four years in Van Valen’s history have been relatively sedate compared to all the rehab, the acrimony, splits, reunions and fights that preceded this later chapter in their career. However tumultuous and public these events have been, Van Halen have not so much bounced back as they have carried on without a care, much like their touring strategy, which seemed focused on their home country. After all the rumours, the will they, won’t theys, have they and haven’t they’s, Van Halen are back with their first album in 14 years, with ultimately defining vocalist David Lee Roth leading the line – the first album he’s recorded with the band since rejoining VH back in 2007.
The first thing to talk about this record is the opening track and lead single, ‘Tattoo’. Quite simply one of the best VH tracks recorded in years, with a simple and funky bass groove from Wolfgang Van Halen, making his recording debut with the band, underpinning a sassy verse which leads into a fantastically catchy refrain of ‘tattoo, tattoo’ that you’ll be singing over and over again for weeks. I’m quite appreciative of that song, and upon first listens, admittedly I was finding trouble in appreciating large parts of the album. But it really opens up on further listens and the album’s quality begins to shine. ‘China Town’ is one example, where drummer Alex injects a little more energy into proceedings. The highlights come and go but there are some outstanding tracks, such as the monstrous-sounding ‘As Is’, one of Van Halen’s heaviest tracks to date, replete with another dazzling Eddie solo and some great bass fretwork from Wolfgang to keep up; ‘Stay Frosty’ is the bastard child of ‘Ice Cream Man’ from their eponymous debut and shows Roth’s lyrical waxing hasn’t diminished one bit, and closer ‘Beats Workin’ is a fine way to end the album with cracking riffs all the way through.
DLR’s voice certainly isn’t what it used to be, now seemingly unable to reach the highest registers, but he still puts in a typically passionate and glitzy performance. Anyone who doubted Wolfgang’s ability or indeed right to fill Michael Anthony’s boots will hopefully be silenced by a more than able performance, though it has to be to keep up with his father’s chops. Still, ‘A Different Kind of Truth‘ probably isn’t going to suit everyone, and no doubt long-time fans of Van Halen will find something they don’t like about the album in greater quantities than I did. The band’s biggest glory days are undoubtedly behind them, but this album has already tasted huge success, and after all the shit rumoured and discussed about them over the last few years, its great that they’ve come back with a pretty good album that still keeps Van Halen relevant in 2012. Still, a UK tour wouldn’t go amiss.
Any regular visitor to our site will know my appreciation for metal-themed cake, especially as I received a Slayer cake on my 27th birthday, so it goes without saying that any well-executed metal cake deserves its due as far as I’m concerned. So when this spot-on creation of an Immortal/Abbath cake started doing the metal newsrounds a few days ago, its only fair that we share it around. Take a bow Jessica Blavatsky of SlaytaniCakes!
Some interesting things to note about Gorlovka:
1. It is one of the largest districts in the Ukraine, home to the city of Donestk.
2. A meteorite fell there in 1974.
3. A good number of the results when searching for ‘Gorlovka’ link to mail order dating/bridal sites. Crikey.
Thankfully, we’re not here to discuss any of those points, or the district in general. In actual fact, we’re here to talk about the beer, Gorlovka Imperial Stout, brewed by the Acorn Brewery in Barnsley, the town which is twinned with Gorlovka and presumably where the ale gets its name from.
The first thing to note as it poured from the bottle into the tankard was its deep colour. It wasn’t the blackest ale I’d ever seen, but this stout certainly packed an intensity within the deep tones bubbling about in the glass. Upon the first sip, I couldn’t fail to be impressed. It had a real roasty flavour to it, one that had me eager to savour it more. The fact it seemed to smoulder at me probably further helped. As I further delved into it, the liquorice tones made their presence felt most welcomely. I think it lasted me close to an hour on this occasion. At 6.0% ABV, its not the strongest ale but it still packs a punch in its own right, below that rich favour.
The Acorn Brewery was established in 2003 by Dave Hughes, a former chef, and his wife Judi, in the village of Wombwell in Barnsley, and pride themselves on using the same yeast strains and the original Barnsley Brewery, which was founded in the 1850’s. They’ve been going strong ever since and are best known for their ‘supremely popular’ Barnsley Bitter, which is widely available and, like most of the brewery’s ales, has won many awards. Today they supply over 300 free trade outlets and 3 national wholesalers.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for our featured ale. Gorlovka Imperial Stout appears to be out of stock through the official brewery website at present, however My Brewery Tap do stock cases of the stuff, as well as gallons of other fine ales from the Acorn Brewery and more. If you live near a UK local produce/specialist shop it might be worth heading down (I found my review bottle in Czerwik’s in Brighouse, as well as a host of potential new candidates for this feature). Grab yourselves a few bottles. You won’t regret it.
Disguised as Birds
This release actually combines two EPs (‘Black Circles‘ and ‘New Demons‘), released in 2011 and 2009 respectively by Milwaukee rock trio Disguised as Birds, but Phratry Records have now put the two together for a vinyl release. Despite their combination, it does still feel slightly like two separate releases podged together, but that’s only a minor complaint.
There seems to be a few influences to these guys – they list acts such as Jawbox, Shipping News and Fugazi amongst their chief inspirations, yet some parts (the opener ‘Black Circles’ for one) sounding like a more expansive Foo Fighters and Torche-like harmonies bundled together. ‘Hayabusas Lament’ is another notable example of this. Other times, there’s a Melvins/Big Business vine, others a lot like the 90’s acts that inspired them. The approach works to great effect, with the band showing they can pull off a range of different songs and not get caught up in simply playing it safe.
The rerelease contains two download-only songs when purchased through Bandcamp, ‘Song About a Gun (Fallen Windows)’ and ‘Just Can’t Hold’, one from each EP session. It might be a reissue but its just as good as anything new these days, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they garnered a little more attention. They certainly have the chops, so it wouldn’t harm you to check them out while they’re still relatively unknown. Get on it. Now.
Note: Cheers to Phratry for the promo copy
So this video has been around a while now, but that’s not going to stop me discussing it. It beats a far cry from other vids that I’ve covered in previous posts, in so much that its just a performance video. But if you ever needed reminding of Van Halen’s effortless cool and swagger, ‘Tattoo’ will leave a permanent mark.
David Lee Roth might have kept the masses waiting for this moment for some time, but from the moment he appears, even wearing a flat cap and devoid of the long blond hair of the golden days, he still has a flamboyant streak in his fancy footwork and suave moves. It feels just like a Van Halen vid from the 70s and 80s, with Eddie Van Halen occasionally leaning round to look into the camera singing ‘Tattoo, tattoo’ with a beaming smile. The feelgood factor is definitely back.
One listen to ‘Tattoo’ and you’ll be hooked. The chorus is real catchy and you’ll probably be back for more. Just drop the sceptic in you. I went out and got the new album, ‘A Different Kind of Truth’, just last week. I hadn’t cared much before but maybe, just maybe, the good times are back.
2012 marks Mark Lanegan’s 27th year in the music business and he shows no signs of slowing down, given his many collaborations with the likes of Soulsavers, The Gutter Twins, Isobel Campbell and more, yet ‘Blues Funeral‘ is the first new album from his solo moniker, the Mark Lanegan Band since 2004’s ‘Bubblegum‘. That effort oozed swagger and cool, but ‘Blues Funeral‘, Lanegan’s seventh solo record. is a little more eclectic, still retaining ‘Bubblegum‘s verve but calling in influences from many of Lanegan’s solo and feature outings.
This broadness in scope means, in comparison to its predecessor, ‘Blues Funeral‘ has a few lengthier songs, venturing past six or seven minutes on a few occasions. It’s a bit of a slow burner, but eventually the Lanegan magic shines through and ‘Blues Funeral‘ is something of a shining record.
Starting with ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’, Lanegan’s recognizable, smoky voice soon appears and guides you through a haunting, memorable number, a feature which repeats the trick of worming into your brain. The album veers from sumptuous slower cuts like ‘Bleeding Muddy Water’ to cooler stompers like ‘Riot in my House’, which wouldn’t feel out of place on The Sopranos or CSI or something, thanks to a sassy riff from Queens of the Stone Age frontman and long time compadre Josh Homme. ‘Ode to Sad Disco’ is almost precisely that, a mellow Lanegan number over a melancholic disco-esque backbeat, while ‘Harborview Hospital’ is perhaps the one of the most beautiful songs you’ll hear all year, shimmering with echoey guitars and some incredible vocals from Lanegan yet again.
They’re just some of the highlights on another masterpiece from Lanegan and co. It might be billed as the Mark Lanegan Band, but its all about Lanegan himself, the singer. Bar the Screaming Trees, where, effective as Lanegan’s vocals then were, the success was more a group effort, his incredible voice affords him complete centre stage time and time again. Like any fine wine, he seems to get better with age, and having listened to it a few times, I can safely say this is among his finest outings. I just wish he’d allow himself centre stage a little more often, but the best vocalists often wait in the shadows – and if Lanegan does retreat from the spotlight for a while again, at least this is a timely reminder of his unique soulful power.
The first thirty seconds of this video for ‘Hank is Dead’ are ominous. Why are three men standing naked in the shower? And why are they giving each other acknowledging looks? It’s rather worrying. YouTube, I didn’t sign up for this! Thankfully, the two on the left are delivering an invitation to an air guitar battle to this very song. And over the remainder of the vid, there’s plenty air widdling, high kicks and poses from everybody wanting to be a part of Red Fang.
I wouldn’t say this is their best video – ‘Wires’ takes that crown – but its still an incredible song from one of the best new rock bands around. Ask me to choose between these and the Black Spiders and I honestly would be unable.to choose. We need more of this sort of rock ‘n roll. It’s loud, dangerous, ugly and raucous, exactly as it should be. It’s for those reasons why we exist, and why proper rock remains well and truly alive.
Wowzers! We passed 10,000 hits for the site, and in just under nine months! I never actually thought we’d hit the 10,000 mark so quickly. Thanks to everyone who’s ever visited and supported We Must Obey! As a show of my appreciation, here’s some High on Fire. Stay heavy!
|Yeah, real mature…|
Jeff Tandy from independent thrashers Birth A.D. has apparently ‘just realised’ that his band will be in Liturgy’s home town of Brooklyn, New York, and indeed home of their frontman, and self-styled black metal philosopher Hunter Hunt-Hendrix. Quite maturely, Tandy called out Hendrix to a fight, via a Facebook page entitled ‘Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, Come Fight Me!’ The page was full of brash statements from Tandy, consisting of further callouts, insults and mock images of what he’s apparently got in store for Hendrix, with plenty of non Liturgy and Hendrix fans baying for the transcendental visionary’s blood. Here’s what Tandy said:
“I’m calling you out, Hunt-Hendrix! I’ll be at Martyrdoom Fest in Brooklyn on June 30, 2012. I hate you. I hate what you do. Come down and we’ll fight!… I will feed you all the Brooklyn sidewalk you can eat, HHH. I’ll show you the side of black metal you don’t have the fortitude or will to explore. Seriously, I will fuck you up.”
I’m not HH-H’s biggest fan, not by a long shot. I find his musings on black metal and indeed elements of his band’s music pretentious and somewhat elitist. By the same token, there are aspects of their music which are sheer genius. But that’s not enough to put me off Hendrix and his diatribes. Does that mean he deserves the treatment he’s got on that page? Absolutely not.
This is exactly why people on the outside have a problem with metal. Yeah we try to paint ourselves as the intelligent bunch, but in actual fact what we have here is Hendrix, somewhat farther along the evolutionary scale (at least in thought and vision), getting heckled, taunted and pilloried by a caveman and his orcs via a social networking site that, wisely, were quick to take down the offending page.
Of course. trolling is nothing new, but this is quite a low. There’s clearly a lot f people of the lowest common denominator who are happy to back this proposed act of violence in actual name – not a user name, but their actual identity. It’s like metallers picking on emo kids again, only this time its aimed at supposed hipsters, in this case Hendrix, whose only crime (aside from some pretty controversial views on black metal) was to be at the forefront of a revolutionary take on the genre via a band so divisive yet incredible (at times) that the case for whether Marmite is good or bad suddenly looks easier to decide.
Tandy might be part of ‘trve’ black metallers Averse Sefira and once a live member of Krieg, but what makes him more qualified on black metal matters than anyone else in the scene? That he’s effectively trying to reduce the debate on black metal to a slugfest achieves nothing, zero, squat, and its stating the obvious to say its pathetic, boneheaded and devoid of actual balls. And even if Hendrix did turn up, what’s to say he wouldn’t clock Tandy, rather than vice versa?
Hopefully this silly incident will be forgotten about and people can continue to argue about metal in a normal, disorderly fashion. It’s not big or clever to pick a fight, and less so on Facebook, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a little jealousy involved with Liturgy’s success, and Tandy’s presumable incredulity that a man with such polarizing views happens to be on their way to relative stardom. Tandy can preach ‘kvlt’ and ‘trve’ all he likes – but those words will never befit empty threats, and we all know violence never settles a true debate.