Any post that sucks

Kvelertak – Nattesferd


junkheadv1tmbKvelertak – Nattesferd

2010 was not my year. It whipped by super fast and little was accomplished. When 2011 hit, I was anxious to see what totally awesome metal I missed. Norwegian band Kvelertak’s self-titled debut popped up on every best list, with critics heralding their intense “black ‘n’ roll” sound. That’s black metal and hard rock for all you squares. It was impressive, coming out of nowhere with it’s mix of black tremolo and gargantuan party riffs punctuated with maniacal screams. Songs like “Offernat” and “Fossegrim” often pop in my head, their mix of extreme and conventional metal sounds ringing in my memory. 2013’s Meir wasn’t really an impressive follow-up, but I had high hopes for Nattesferd. Would it be more extreme? Would they turn straight cock rock? The answer is a little complicated.

“Dendrofil for Yggdrasil” is the only black ‘n’ roll sounding song on the album. It’s a horrible way to start, hinting that the album will be more of the same before veering far off with the next track, “1985”. It’s got a lot of Thin Lizzy in it’s blood, with harmonizing guitars and soaring chorus melodies straight out of “The Boys Are Back in Town”

“Svartmesse” kicks off with the iconic guitar part from Stevie Nicks’s “Edge of Seventeen” before plodding off into ultra hard rock stupidity. “Nattesferd” and “Bronsegud” keep up a similar tone, pulling you in with tasty arena ready sounds.

Things almost fall off track with “Ondskapens Galakse”, a slow crawl through one riff for five minutes, before shifting back with the dynamic “Berserkr”. Every sound on the album is here: acoustic guitar webs, brisk extreme, and stomping riffs. “Heksebrann” might be the best track, a nine minute epic that goes from mid-tempo atmospherics to mid-tempo rocker. Things end on strangely traditional Sabbath territory with some bluesy power chord crunch on “Nekrodamus”.

In this day and age, anyone who can rock with this much conviction without sounding like pure novelty a la Andrew WK is my fucking savior, but the black ‘n’ roll bullshit has to go. That first track really bogs down an otherwise cool album, one that’s so focused on rockin’ it Thin Lizzy style that you forget hard rock is beyond passe. It’s time to sell out in a major way, and I hope this album proves popular enough to turn them into a full fledged Van Halen clone.


Silversun Pickups – The Fillmore 5/8/16


junkheadv1tmbSilversun Pickups – The Fillmore 5/8/16

Alternative radio stations are the last bastion for ’90s rock lovers, but I simply can’t stand them. Detroit’s “Rock Alternative”, 89X, plays everything they did when I was growing up between ’93 and ’03 and nothing else. It’s a parallel universe where people still enjoy Staind, Hoobastank, and Papa Roach. Anyone who lives there are normally infantile Gen-X wannabes, as the actual Gen-Xers have moved on to worrying about their 401K and junk.

So I’m caught in the middle of all this at 89X’s annual birthday bash, a place where socially stagnated weirdos congregated to eat ONION RINGS and watch their favorite lesser superstars. The announcers kept talking about how the evening’s performers have been on the radio, but I don’t believe them. All I ever hear is “Spoonman” and “Freak on a Leash”.

Joywave were the most insufferable trash ever. They had this giant banner that joked how the audience should be sad they weren’t headlining. Too bad they just fucking suck, although I’ve seen them dancing around on the music video station at Planet Fitness. Bland pop/hip-hop is the name of the game, and the lead singer’s a fucking idiot. Fail to see how this is any alternative to mainstream radio. There were plenty of normies who knew all the words. This honestly was my least favorite concert experience of all time.

The second act, Foals, looked like they could deliver the goods, but then they only played Led Zepplin-y riffs with non-melodic screams or dull dance-rock straight out of ’06. Actually, they only did the idiot Zepplin with screams part twice, so most of it sounded like a tuneless version of the Killers. The singer came down and crowd surfed twice, which was a nice Everyman gesture the audience really appreciated. My girlfriend says he’s an Iggy Pop rip-off for it, and I don’t doubt her. Being English, the singer also said “cheers” one time and all the girls around me talked about it for twenty minutes like it was an invitation to suck his dick.

The Silversun Pickups is a really odd duck, mixing radio-ready guitar walls with synth-pop elements. In the studio, they always comes off as super polished bordering phony; live, they’re a rock-‘n’-roll steamroller that you wouldn’t mind being crushed by. The synths pop, the vocals are way more energetic, the drummer’s going friggin’ nuts, and the guitars provide a thick wall of distortion.

My girlfriend’s really into their newest album, Better Nature, and they played almost everything off it. It’s pretty radio-ready, less indie rock and more ’80s retro, although the loud ass live presentation probably wouldn’t bode well with the arena crowd used to hearing Miley Cyrus lip-sync over the studio tracks. Too many signs of life here. Silversun live marks a crucial point in my life where I realize that their songs are at least sort of okay.

I was glad to be away from the annoying crowd. One dude tried to push his way in front of me right before the encore, putting his hand on my chest and leaving it their for twenty seconds like I was supposed to give a shit. Then he took it off and held his hand in front of my chest for another minute and a half. Drunk Gen-X wannabes ruin everything.

Joywave: F

Foals: D

Silversun Pickups: B

Baroness – The Machine Shop 5/6/16


junkheadv1tmbBaroness – The Machine Shop 5/6/16

There’s so much in life that feel’s dishonest and manufactured. After going to your nearest big chain supermarket and stuffing a cart full of processed foods, you’ll stand in line with tons of folks buried in their cellphones who could give two shits about if you live or die. The drive home is blocked by tons of cars, giant metal objects that make you forget there’s a person inside there. The roads are lined with giant billboards, selling you big smiling faces that guarantee absolute joy and love in a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Popular music reflects this culture. It’s filled with plastic people playing generic music constructed by suited executives. Their mentality: whatever sells is what we produce. Turning on any top 40 radio station will often yield the same big hit singles endlessly regurgitated by today’s big name artists.

Phonies and con-bands aren’t solely relegated to the mainstream. Many underground metal, punk, and hip-hop do the exact same thing, boasting how hard, evil, political, or criminal they truly are. No matter how many times you hear these messages, it’s easy to see which ones are total fabrications.

Sometimes though, you’ll hear musicians bare themselves to you. It’s a visceral experience, and while it might not always be pleasant, sometimes there’s nothing more real than a band bleeding through their guitars.

Baroness’s Purple does just that on every level. The music is a concise attack, with barreling riffs and a pounding rhythm section. It’s a much more aggressive stance than their previous few albums, taking as much influence from the noise-punk of Fugazi as it does the band’s sludge forefathers. Lyrical content is now much more human. It often breaks corporeality in strange ways that are simultaneously foreign and instantly relatable, with rib cages, bones, and eyes being manipulated by troubling forces. There’s a general sense that all words contained within are spoken from experience, a thought that many have already discussed at length in light of the band’s nearly fatal bus crash back in 2012. Purple is direct, immediate, and incredibly sincere, traits that are sorely lacking in our culture.

So when I heard the band was touring for the album, I was pretty excited. I love Purple, and while my girlfriend and I at first were questioning whether or not we’d bother going after a busy past few weeks, Ay-hole convinced me to go. Significant others in tow, we drove the hour and a half to see Baroness at the Machine Shop in Flint.

Flint’s supposed to be Michigan’s worst city, but the venue is only a couple blocks into the city. It’s a pretty suburban location, although the Machine Shop tries really hard to identify with the biker and metal crowd. Hogs were hung up on the ceiling and a projector screen played metal music videos from the past two decades non-stop until the concert began.


After a short wait, Youth Code took the stage. If you like Skinny Puppy, you’ll think Youth Code is okay. They’re a pretty conventional industrial band, a surprising choice to open for Baroness. I figure since the band’s now running their own label, Abraxan Hymns, they probably felt like going with something less predictable. If former label Relapse Records booked it, there’d have been a crappy metalcore, which is decidedly worse than a Skinny Puppy clone.

The performance would have been cooler, but the singer/screamer lady kept spitting all over the place. Eventually, the sequencer/screamer dude joined in, and everyone was pretty grossed out. Also, the front woman kept telling people to shut the fuck up if they yelled for Baroness during her rambling between-song banter. Michigan people are too chill for that crap. Their set was pretty short, and only about twenty minutes later Baroness took the stage.

When the opening notes of “Kerosene” started spewing out of John Baizley’s guitar, the entire audience went nuts. Half the crowd were screaming the words along, including myself. The pit was going, and the head-banging began. I was not expecting the audience to go so nuts, especially for a track off Baroness’s newest album. People normally like to hear their old favorites, but in this bar, every song was a favorite. The energy did not let up through “March to the Sea” or “Morningstar”. We were all part of a big community, united by our appreciation for a single band.


Things slowed down for “Board Up the House” and “Green Theme”, but the crowd quickly bounced back for “The Iron Bell” and “If I Have to Wake Up”. The latter in particular is absolutely phenomenal live, turning Purple’s slowest song into a massive burning power ballad with blaring bass and pounding drums.

“Fugue” and the danceable “Little Things” were great, but “Chlorine & Wine” was definitely the show’s climax. The band couldn’t help but smile when the entire audience joined in for the line “I’ve never felt so uncomfortably numb”. The crowd was deafening, overpowering the amps for a few short moments. It’s amazing that an audience could believe in a single referential lyric so much.


My head-banging was in full blast after that. “Try to Disappear”, “Desperation Burns”, “The Gnashing”, and “Shock Me” was a series of direct hits, their tight hard rock riffs seething into the crowd. Most of the audience was getting pretty tired, but I kept it up. At some point, a guy threw corn on the stage. Aside from cow dung, that’s about the only gift Michigan has to give. The encore was pretty sleepy at first. “Isak” received a warm but repressed reception from the crowd, but the closing “Take My Bones Away” sparked the final insanity for the night.

Afterwards, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I probably concussed myself with my head-bang game, and the crowd quickly scattered to the merch table and outside to meet the band. Baizley was outside signing stuff. I gave him a hug, although I probably should have given everyone in attendance some love as well. This concert experience can not be replicated, with a band playing the entirety of their latest and greatest album and an audience who absolutely knows it. Music doesn’t get more sincere than that.

Youth Code: C+
Baroness: A



ayholev1tmbCaliban – Gravity

Butt-rock metal. Most of the album sounds like a post-industrial attempt at that stuff the metal hipsters listen to nowadays where everything sounds as “epic” as possible and there are parts where the instruments just repeat random atonal garbage and there does not appear to be a standard time signature, meaning things just happen whenever. “Left for Dead” is good until the breakdown. “The Ocean’s Heart” appears to be the only fully listenable track. The rest of the album is just typical butt-metal garbage.  The album cover is boring, too.


Endless – The Truth, The Chaos, The Insanity

Progressive metal. Most of the tracks are high energy, fast tempo, and extremely busy. Not quite “speedy.” The title track sounds like the most well put together one. Maybe the name should have been “The Truth, Designed, Well Organized.” It features a lot of styles and the sections are very identifiable. “Under the Sun” is some sort of electro-pop rock, which makes it the most interesting track. Tracks 6,7,8,11, and 12 all are toned down ballads, with track 13 as just a straight emotional piano image. The non ballad tracks are okay and feature some good technical shredding.  The album cover looks like a mess.


Wisdom – Rise of the Wise

Power folk metal. The melodies and singalong qualities are what push every song. “My Heart is Alive” sounds dumb but is actually quite inspiring. Many of the songs become straight arena rock, like “Through the Fire.” The second half is much better than the first. “Secret life” is so catchy one might sing along. The next track continues to build but is snuffed out by the last track, which happens to be the title track and the most boring as well.  The album cover looks cool at first, but upon a second glance…


Lamashtu – Fallna Själar

Castlevania rip offs with odd up front female vocals. All of the songs are very complex and a treat for the music analyst. Lots of sound effects and a huge variety of orchestral sounds. The guitars also employ many 90’s pedal effects like the plagal effect. Each song has a completely different feel to it. The only complaint is I swear I heard a cowbell on more than one track. There is some sort of ragtime on track 6.  The album cover is very scary.


Final Chapters – Legions of the Sunday

Crazy speed power metal. It all sounds like video game music. There are a lot of melodies, but many of them are overused and boring. Some of the tracks are just rock songs with shredding and synth hits. Probably something a lot of high-schoolers are into. Track 7 actually has some emotion in the male vocals and is the only one I could recommend.  I like the album cover because it has many colors.


Amon Amarth and Entombed A.D. – Saint Andrew’s Hall 5/2/16


junkheadv1tmbAmon Amarth and Entombed A.D. – Saint Andrew’s Hall 5/2/16

These last few weeks have been brutal for me. Aside from my normal day job, I’ve also been helping my girlfriend with her work over the weekends. I’d love to sit at home and relax, but it’s not happening until this upcoming Friday.

5/2 was pretty bad. My body was aching, my head was throbbing, and morale was dismally low. A weekend of long work days and longer party-filled nights caught up to me and I still had to make it to work at 7 AM. Somehow, I blinked my eye and it was over. I was parking my car in front of my house, and I felt like doing nothing. The missus and I crashed on the couch when I got home from work, basking in the much-needed relief provided by a simple cushion. We discussed the prospect of going to Amon Amarth. Last week we knew that we would be too tired, but for some reason, it popped into my head that going wasn’t a bad idea.

Within half an hour, I was at Saint Andrew’s Hall, surrounded by fat sweaty metalheads and skinny nerdy metalheads. As I walked in, Entombed A.D. was taking the stage, holding their guitars aloft while an annoying intro boomed over the speakers. People were already packed on the main floor like sardines, so we trudged up to the balcony.

Entombed A.D. is one of those bands that aren’t nearly as good as they sound on paper, but only a little bit. Essentially the band Entombed without their original guitarist, their current two albums are both okay, but neither matched Entombed classics like Morning Star or Left Hand Path. Eventually, they’re going to drop a totally dynamite album. Third time’s a charm, right?

That said, the set was pretty awesome. Amon Amarth’s elevated drums took up a ton of the stage, so Entombed’s drummer had to set up on the stage floor, leaving very little leg room for singer Lars-Goran Petrov and friends at the front. If they head banged any harder, they would have accidentally hit the audience.

The new songs comprised most of the set, all containing a much more pronounced death metal influence than the average Entombed song. The band was tight, Petrov was great, and the crowd could have cared less. No one reacted to anything, regardless of how awesome the solos or choruses were. It was a big communal case of the motherfuckin’ mondays.

I’m surprised the band pretended to leave for the encore, because nobody said a damn thing and half the band members didn’t leave at all. They finally cruised through “Wolverine Blues” and “Left Hand Path”, both of which had a little less energy than their newer material. The crowd responded with a few woos and metal horns before they left.

My girlfriend and I snuck up pretty close to the stage. Only twenty-five minutes passed before Amon Amarth, with obligatory spoken word audio about vikings booming as they stepped on. Kicking off with “The Pursuit of Vikings”, the band stormed through a variety of their newer tracks first, Johan Hegg providing witty commentary between each song.

I’ve never seen the band, and I was instantly impressed. While Johan Soderberg is a little stiff and he has this “I whip my hair back and forth/I whip my hair back and forth” thing going on, everything always comes together when the band starts their in unison head-banging routine. I wonder how much practice they had to get in before they all rolled their heads the same way. Not only that, but imagine how crucial maintaining a similar hair length becomes.

Other theatrics included a duo of viking warriors with weapons. They came out with swords a couple times and bows for “One Thousand Burning Arrows”, although the armor-clad men never did anything. I would have loved to see the band members fight their foes.

The crowd was pretty cold towards their new stuff until they started playing older tracks, which . I was glad “Thousand Years of Oppression” made it into the set, but “Death In Fire” made everyone go nuts. Crowdsurfing, screaming, moshing, it was the first time all evening anyone seemed to realize they were at a concert.

“Runes to My Memory” cooled it back down until “Raise Your Horns”, the one new track everyone liked. They all pulled out giant horn goblets and drank a bunch of beer from them. The audience went nuts, and everyone pretended to know the words. “Guardians of Asgaard” and “Twilight of the Thunder God” followed with even more excitement. The whole crew around me only seemed to awaken when the latter’s opening riff came on, which is unfortunate considering it closed the night.

Honestly, the band was on fire the entire night. Not a single note was missed, and the band tried really hard to wake us assholes up.

Afterwards, we went home and drank beers because Amon Amarth made it look sooo cool. I spent the whole evening screaming and head-banging, which left me with a sore throat and neck the next day. My boss came in for a crucial performance evaluation that day, but I think I did okay. I should have been too tired and miserable to do anything, but I mean, in the end, if you’re happy, doesn’t everything else follow suit?

And both bands made me very happy. While Entombed A.D. was obviously thrown off by the crowd’s indifference near the end of their set, Amon Amarth played the same as they would in front of the small Detroit crowd as they would at Wacken Open Air. Except y’know, they didn’t row out a viking ship or anything because they barely had enough room to scratch their armpit.

Entombed A.D. performance: B

Amon Amarth performance: A-



ayholev1tmbmusic from nowhere – atrocité

Out of nowhere, aka Luxembourg, comes the smash new genre, obnoxious. Music from Nowhere uses the latest in “all sorts of virtual and analogue gadgets.” The result is half-atmosphere half electronic pop.

The title track might actually be the best track, which is probably why it is the title track. There is some good atmosphere and some unintelligible mumbling, which continues on other tracks as well, such as the post-pop “le bonheur”. Give it a listen on bandcamp where the album is called ɒƚɿoɔiƚé . Official release is May the 4th. One can imagine what that means.  Not quite first third of the year, but since I found it in the first third and thought it was released I covered it.


Sean Flynn – It Is What It Is

Sean Flynn is a singer songwriter from Wayne, NJ. His new album is It Is What It Is. What it is is a raw and genuine songwriting. Not only is the music itself more than decent, the lyrics are either insidiously deceptive and spurious or pure and unadulterated. Flynn sings about love and wanting to be your man. When he sings you must close your eyes and imagine he is singing to you.

The most viscously amorous of all the tracks is the poppy country inspired “Dream Come True.” Most of the music is rock and roll and the best song is probably “Jilted,” which can be heard on his live nation.


Paul Gilbert – I Can Destroy
More blues rock. Paul Gilbert released a couple of good tracks on his new album. The title track is one, and the immediately following “Knocking on a locked door” is the other. The others are mostly mediocre. Gilbert is a great guitar player and it shows on all of the tracks, however boring they are.


Elliott Power – Once Smitten
Light atmospheric hip-hop. There are some neat textures and clichéd ambient plugin sounds. The rap is soft and rhythmic and void of emotion. Good for a trance party.


Kiiara – low kii savage
Electronic hip-hop. The first track is super entertaining for 15 seconds. The rest is kinda catchy but mostly boring because it’s electronic hip-hop.

Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock – On A Mission: Live in Madrid

Temple of Rock

junkheadv1tmbMichael Schenker’s Temple of Rock – On A Mission: Live in Madrid

After recently posting about UFO’s excellent live box set, I was pumped to hear Temple of Rock’s new live album. The band’s last studio album, Spirit on a Mission, was one of my favorites of 2015, thoroughly capturing the lean songwriting skills of Schenker’s early years and rounding it out with great musicianship. Unfortunately, a minute with this album will make you wonder how much the studio glossed over the band’s shortcomings.

Singer Doogie White is the most noticeable problem, specifically on the first two tracks. Doogie must have got smashed in the face with a mallet right before he stepped onstage. He stumbles and stammers through “Doctor Doctor” and “Live and Let Live” like a prepubescent boy who just ran a marathon, sounding out of breath and confused. After those crucial fuck ups, he quickly recuperates and gives a mostly okay performance for the remaining nineteen tracks.

Another recurring issue is the goofy synthesizers. Nothing screams “we’re playing in some smelly ass club” quite like sub-Casio keyboard garbage. While often hidden in the background, tracks like “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” and “Vigilante Man” pull out some pretty awful bleating synth orchestra sounds.

Probably the biggest issue for real Schenker-heads is the setlist itself. Very few of Temple of Rock’s great tracks are on the album, replaced with relics from Michael Schenker’s ’70s and ’80s heydays. It’s understandable that there would be so much UFO and MSG stuff since he wrote the songs. The Scorpions songs from Lovedrive made my eyes roll even though he played lead on the original tracks, but why is he covering “Rock You Like a Hurricane”? Schenker was nowhere near the band at that point, and its inclusion is gratuitous and more than a little sad.

The only thing that can save the album is Michael effin’ Schenker himself. With his semi-virtuoso blues-based solos, there’s never a moment to turn your ear away from the excellent guitar work. The fourteen minute version of “Rock Bottom” is easily the best thing here, his mid-range guitar work spiraling effortlessly into your ears with surprising variety.

So even if the vocalist sucks, the synths piss me off, and there’s too many songs Schenker didn’t write, skip forward to the leads people. On a Mission proves that with decades of hard work and dedication, you too can be a really old talented guitarist with a crappy singer, a crappy keyboardist, and a dumb setlist. This will also be released on DVD, probably with a segment showing Doogie’s mallet smashed face.


Thor – Keep the Dogs Away


junkheadv1tmbThor – Keep the Dogs Away

I try not to idolize my favorite entertainers. My girlfriend sells a lot of her art at conventions, and often there are rows of washed-up has-beens cluttering the con floor. I have no reason to talk to these people. Even if Lori Petty’s was cool in the made-for-TV film Bates Motel 25 years ago, it doesn’t mean I need to talk to her. What am I supposed to say anyway? Am I supposed to gush over Tank Girl or just blab about the current weather conditions in the immediate area? Both would have the same detachment. The best case scenario is I remember the interaction for the rest of my life and Lori goes home, gets wasted, fucks her husband, and gives two shits about everything.

Still, it’s impossible to not have an idol or two. There’s only one musician I can say I ever wanted to meet, and back in November, I got to live my dream. Canadian rock God Jon-Mikl Thor came to a small bar that was literally three blocks away from my house. To a small crowd of about twenty people, Thor played a then-new documentary, I Am Thor, and a whole concert.


Thor and me. I’m friggin’ handsome.

It started out on a very intimate note. Thor and the mostly reunited ’80s lineup of his eponymous band took the stage for a short discussion with the audience. The band asked questions about Detroit, talked about their experience playing at the infamous Harpos years ago, and cracked jokes about each other. Thor and his band were baring themselves to the crowd, giving the rest of the night greater emotional resonance.

The documentary was phenomenal, especially for a Thor archaeologist like myself. Many new facts are initially discussed about the artist’s early career, my favorite being that Thor was drugged and kidnapped during his first major label contractual discussions. Halfway through, Thor’s mainstream rock career ends due to a bout with depression. The film fast forwards to 1998 as Thor attempts to make a big comeback. Everything after is like the ultimate outsider musician story, a wasteland in which rock ‘n’ roll draws no money and one eccentric man must build up his legacy without the aid of a top 40 hit.

After the film, Thor took the stage. This metal dude and I sung every word to almost all the tracks, and Thor even complimented my singing ability when he passed me the mic for a line in “Let the Blood Run Red”. Donning a variety of masks and wagging around a bunch of hammers, Thor blurted through all his ’80s classics and the title track from his 1977 debut Keep the Dogs Away.

This album’s about to be reissued by Cleopatra, a goth label that’s recently began reissuing some curios from the ’70s. Whether it’s worth picking up is more about what hard rock genres you can tolerate, as Thor and the gang didn’t really create a cohesive sound.

The album opens with a huge three-track wallop. “Keep the Dogs Away” is a straightforward Kiss-romp. With a brisk tempo and tons of cool guitar fills, Thor always notes that this track was his greatest hit, charting somewhere in Alaska. “Sleeping Giant” which drops the tempo to a lumbering singalong that could easily be re-written for an episode of Sesame Street, a greater compliment than you’ll ever know. The gritty power ballad “Catch a Tiger” finds Thor imitating Lou Reed’s sing-speak.

Onward, things start getting a little shaky. “I’m So Proud” has a terrible bluesy riff and “Tell Me Lies” is only saved by a cool double tracked solo. Things get better with “Military Matters”, a proto-Manowar track that probably would have sounded cooler without the goofy Spanish guitar riff that’s constantly playing. Psychedelia starts creeping in, with “Superhero” and “Wasted” featuring some weird lyrics and drugged out guitars. “Rosie” brings in some muscular power pop before “Thunder” closes the album with a constipated ’60s garage-psych sound.

There’s really too much going on for it to be deemed a classic. It sounds like the band copies Kiss the first half and adds this big Doors influence for the second, shifting from awesome and stupid to lame and stupid very quickly. Lyrical evidence: “sometimes I feel that I’m wasted/sometimes I feel that I’m wasted/sometimes I feel that I’m wasted/sometimes I feel that I’m wasted”.

The CD version of the reissue adds almost twenty other early tracks, including the awesomely glam Thor & The Imps tracks from 1975. An additional live show from 1980 will also be included, making it the best archive of pre-Only The Strong Thor you’ll get. I’m assuming it will be most of the footage from the An-Thor-logy set, but I’ll pick it up just in case.


So yeah, the concert ended and I had Thor sign everything I own. He was particularly excited to see a copy of Keep the Dogs Away. Was he glad to see that there was still some interest in the soon-to-be re-released album? Or was he mad that I won’t need to buy another copy? Either way, I’ll probably get one anyway.

Keep the Dogs Away original album: C+
Keep the Dogs Away deluxe: B+
I Am Thor documentary: B+
Thor concert: A-



ayholev1tmbMystery Jets – Curve of the Earth

Not hard at all hipster rock. Track two is kinda good, but the rest just sounds like recycled MGMT. There is enough echoey reverb on “1985” to keep a bus full of shoegazers fed for days. Track 6 sounds like it’s going to be the best Penguin Cafe Orchestra rock song ever, but falls into annihilation. Overall the entire album lacks content, but the audio isn’t terrible. Best album cover art of this five.


Savages – Adore Life

High energy building borderline-noise rock. There are some good effects throughout and plenty of variety, at least on the first half. Mixing is really mashed together, but in a good way. Good atmosphere on several tracks including “Adore,” which unfortunately piddles into nothingness after the climax. The second half has a lot of similarities among the tracks. This can be a good thing for parties, but makes for boring listening. The atmosphere comes back on the final track for a soundtrack feel, which might be the best track. Worst album cover art of this five.


Lord Vicar – Gates of Flesh

Crumby butt-metal. Sounds like Alice in Chains got wasted and lost all their money gambling in a shack down in the delta and now plays to black tourists who want a taste of the white south, or Turku, whatever. It’s only salvation is the semi-decent singing. Should be the best cover album of this five.


The Warrior Kings – The Warrior Kings Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Deluxe edition)

It is hard to figure out exactly when this and Vol 2 was released. Honestly, it’s just a bunch of good ol’ fashioned blues rock. The singer is the drummer, but still manages to hit the snare on two. If you are in the mood for a less aggressive blues rock, since every other band is intent on murdering the genre with speed and teenage angst, then give both discs, at least Vol 1, a listen. Pretty good album cover art. Might be for some specific version of disc one…

4/5 if you like blues rock.

Bubba James – Fearful Leaders

Atmospheric Blues Rock? Yes. No vocals, just guitars shredding and chugging the entire time? Yes. Does it sound good? Yes. Would this be boring live? Probably. Thirteen supercharged overdriven motively and harmonically developed guitar counterpoints. Shares a lot in common with math rock without sounding stupid. Good video game music. Dumb looking album cover art.


69 Eyes – Universal Monsters


junkheadv1tmb69 Eyes – Universal Monsters

Some bands have a singular sound that they can never change. Not only would die hard fans be pissed, but the critical gestapo would also question their sanity. Why fix what ain’t broken?

The 69 Eyes are clearly in that category, and the grind is starting to wear their goth metal schtick thin. They’re still the same ole Sisters of Mercy-meets-Billy Idol act, but no casual listener could make a distinction between “Jet Fighter Plane”, “Dolce Vita”, “Jerusalem”, or virtually any other track here.

Of course, this isn’t a bad thing. The pop-metal guitars and driving drums blend effortlessly with gloomy vocals and synth-pop tinsel all over again. Everything is beyond immediate, thrusting you into a coffin-ridden world of reckless abandon where the ghouls are reeling and the ghosts are rocking.

Yet the album never manages to top the best tracks off previous triumphs Angels or Back in Blood. The best here is “Lady Darkness”, and only the minutiae pushes it a little closer to excellence. Realistically, cool guitar rhythms and a subtle organ/piano combo won’t elevate you too high when you’ve made a career out of rewriting one song.

Even so, I’ll probably listen to Universal Monsters a hundred times. There’s always going to be something special about the bastard love child of Danzig and Tears for Fears.