Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Sub-Mine - This Won't End Well

You can't tell what it is, so it must be deep.

This Won't End Well, is the first release by Sub-Mine and hopefully the last. A flat and soulless attempt at doom metal. Is there some secret audience I don't know about eating up shitty Bandcamp metal? Because it seems to be everywhere. Back in the 80's this music never would have gotten out of the planning stage before falling flat on it's face, but thanks to the internet it is forever preserved like some kind of monument to what people that love metal but have no business playing it can do. What worries me about this kind of thing is how many mistakes the band had to make to even release this. They, assuming it is a they and not a one man band, had plenty of opportunity to realize the quality of what they were making before putting it online. Not once did they stop and try to change the course of action that led to the abomination which they have unleashed. Typically this kind of garbage is a free download, but Sub-mine feel that their failed attempt at metal is worth more than any other band that has the common sense to give theirs away for free. When I see a free album that claims to be metal I download it without listening and get to it when I have the chance, but at least it gets it's foot in the door for when I have time. When a no-name band with no real information about themselves and, as far as I can tell, no real following who's only coverage is from a record label that has no other releases and even fewer people who care about it than the band themselves, wants to charge me to download their music if I don't want to stream it, the only way they would ever get a listen from me is if I had absolutely nothing better to do. Which is almost never the case. Do yourselves a favor and make the next album free. Maybe more people will give it the time of day.

There is nothing positive here. The guitar is moody but lacks punch or any kind of talent that would make it worthwhile, ditto for bass, the vocals are similar to Theo Loomans of Asphyx but without the anger, and the drumming sounds like it was done using either a program or an electronic drum kit. Both of which are not metal. Want to play real metal? Go find a fat guy who's wearing a Pantera shirt that doesn't fully cover his gut. He's probably a drummer. Ask him to bring his cheap drum kit over to your mom's basement and be in your band. Maybe buy him a cowboy hat. Pantera fans love cowboy hats. I mean, how hard is it really, just to find someone that owns a drum kit to play along with you, the drum lines aren't very challenging anyway. On the other hand, if this is a real drummer using an actual drum kit maybe it's time to find another one.

What is by far the worst thing about this album is that is manages to be boring from beginning to end. Doom metal doesn't have to be boring. Sabbath and Danzig manage not to be. What about this genre so consistently draws people that think slow and boring are synonymous? I don't find myself contemplating suicide when listening to Cathedral, so why can't bands that are new to the genre manage at least that much? You don't need to be as good as Cathedral, just good enough to not make your listener not want to kill themselves rather than finish what you spent so much time making, assuming there is actual thought put into this album and it wasn't rushed out in the course of  a week so that Sub-Mine could have a release to it's name. If the review request you send includes the phrase, "Hopefully it isn't too shitty", then you already knew how shitty it was before you sent it to me. The point of making music is to make something you think is good. If you have doubts right out the gate about whether or not it's going to be worth listening to, then don't release it to begin with. All Sub-mine accomplished with this was a release that gives any listener that wants it, the excuse to never listen to this band again. Even if they manage to release something worthwhile later, the taint of this first offering will forever tarnish their name.

I had to sit through four fillings the other day, and I literally enjoyed that more than repeat listens of this album. At least something positive came out the fillings. If you want to listen to the something less enjoyable than having holes drilled in your teeth you can find it here. I wouldn't.


Monday, October 26, 2015

TNM Presents: The PoseurDome - Two Bands Enter, One Band Leaves

Last weekend, as I reached for a towel seconds after pulling out of your girlfriend, it occurred to me that for the past few weeks, not one single goddamn thing has happened in the metal world that has roused enough interest in me to elicit even the snide derision on which I so pride myself. This is in no small part due to the return of that undying idol to the poseur, bro-core worshipping fratboy masses that is the fucking guitar hero franchise.

Holy shit, is nothing sacred? Every single goddamn time one of these shitfest 'rhythm' games (for EXTREME want of a better term) gets released, every trve metal fan on the planet locks themselves in their purpose-built bomb shelters to ride out what is inevitably a nuclear winter of false buffoonery.

"Uhh, bromanski, have you ever even HEARD of Pantera? Fucking poser. Now watch me 100% Cowboys From Hell on medium."

Truly, it's a shitty time to be a metalhead. It's one of the unfortunately numerous occasions where your trendhopping buddies will swear black and blue that they've always been into metal but "Just don't like to go on about it."

Bullshit. The entire reason anyone ever listens to metal is purely and entirely for the purpose of going on about it. If you listen to metal and can go a full day without bringing it up even in full knowledge of the fact that the people you work with will think you are creepy as shit, you are nought but a filthy, flea-ridden poseur.

But metal is nothing if not incredibly enduring in the face of adversity. I sat through the unspeakable shame of the 90's metal scene AND the last two Opeth albums and yet still my faith in the incorruptibility of true metal has not been shaken.

It is days such as these, my brethren, where we must rally. We must not go quietly into that goodnight. We must demand more from ourselves, from one another, and most importantly of all, from our metal. I've decided to do my part by reviewing albums while emulating what is without any rational doubt the single greatest cinematic accomplishment spawned forth by sentient life, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

Jesus Christ. I'm at half mast just thinking about it.

Not only is it a movie in which the main premise is two dudes beating each other to death in a massive cage, but it came out in the 80's, which most of you will recognize as being the decade wherein metal attained ultimate perfection. Never before has there been a more perfect emulation of the true tenants of heavy metal.

With this in mind, from now on, all my album reviews* are going to follow the example set forth by the beautiful simplicity of the ThunderDome: two bands enter, one band leaves. I'm sick to fucking death of these fucking Lord Byron metal reviews penned by pretentious knobs whose main purpose is obviously to show you how far they've gotten through their thesaurus instead of answering the only questions you want to know the answer to: is this album any good, and why?

Editor's note: TNM apologizes for the piss-poor graphical quality of the above image. Our graphics budget got spent on Jack Daniels and hair straighteners. Gotta be tough with the scruff, fellas.

Today's PoseurDome contenders come to you from beautiful, sunny Germany. Those of you clever enough to string together a sentence might remember that the last album I reviewed also came from Germany and their label thought I was so awe-inspiringly magnificent that they threw free albums at me like a chimpanzee flinging shit at the slack-jawed tourists bankrolling his captivity, hence the above two records.

You may also notice that both albums were released in 2014, and that I have rather unceremoniously decided that I don't give a pinch of shit. The reason for this is twofold:

  • A year in underground metal time relative to the passage of regular time is about 3.4 days, according to Einstein's theory of relativity.
  • My finger is so far from the pulse that the Hubble Telescope recently photographed it leaving the solar system.

Yarr - EPos

A metal band, writing songs about pirates? Revolutionary. I was barely even two tracks in and these guys had already stamped off my entire sheet for 'shitty gimmicky metal band' bingo. Mediocre musicianship? Check. 'Ironic' mashup of traditionally incompatible genres? Check. Pushing the joke beyond the point of tedium in a matter of minutes? Double fucking check.

Look, I'm not saying that pirates aren't metal. I'm saying that this album is more Captain Hook than Blackbeard. Right from the word go, it's crystal clear that these guys are having WAY too much fun. Granted, the lyrics aren't in English, so the entire album could be a pitch-black ode to raping and pillaging your way around the most depraved coastlines of history, but for the love of fuck, just listen to it. This is less a wacky death metal album and more the soundtrack for Pirates of the Caribbean on the day where the guy who was suppose to do the vocals showed up with a bad case of strep.

Yarr are desperately trying to be a heavier Alestorm, and Alestorm are fucking terrible. If for whatever reason you want to listen to some truly sick metal chops with a spoon fully of goofy bullshit slapped in for good measure, you might as well stick with Nekrogoblikon, a band that seems to have at the very least realized that if you're going to make fun of the insanity of the metal genre, you'd damn well better have the talent to back it up. Seriously, am I missing something here? What's the appeal? How in the hell did Powerwolf become one of the most popular metal bands on the planet? Does anyone actually think this shit possesses an ounce of merit? I weep for humanity.

I'll say it again for those of you stuck at the scummy end of the gene pool: metal is not supposed to be fun. It's not a joyous celebration of the diversity of humanity. This is not the fucking Rocky Horror Picture show. It's not like we all regularly dress up in ridiculous costumes, hand over hundreds of dollars and travel hundreds of miles to see hack musicians perform the same songs we've already heard a hundred times over.

Wait... Shit.

Immorium - Herbstmär

Yeah, now this is more fucking like it. Not even 25% of the way through and I've already turned into a weeping, blubbery mess on the floor of my bedroom. This is the most depressing album I have heard in years. You could be halfway through receiving back-to-back hummers from both the chicks from Butcher Babies and this album would still leave you wanting to fellate a shotgun.

I can unashamedly say that I don't particularly 'get' post-black metal. Who decided that we were collectively done with black metal to the point where we had to start prefacing shitty inferior incarnations of a once-proud genre with 'post'? If I smear horse cum all over my big mac before I eat it is it a post-burger? If I edit out every scene of Breaking Bad except for the ones where his cunt of a family do something obnoxious is it post-good television? It invariably ends up being black metal but with all the good parts taken out. I understand that it's supposed to be ambient and atmospheric and all those other words hack metal critics like to bandy about, but what atmosphere in particular are they going for? Boredom?

This album is all the shitty parts of a night at a strip club laid out end to end and repeated ad nauseam. It struts around on stage trying to get your attention and builds up complexity and rhythm to a point where you are ten thousand percent certain that you are mere seconds away from impending boobage, and then shuts off the lights like the massive tease that it is and leaves you sweaty, confused and ashamed, desperately clutching at a half-chub in the darkness as you reflect on how empty and vacuous your life must have become to reach such a devastating low point. It's all buildup and no payoff. It's all sizzle and no steak. Completely forgettable.

So, the maiden voyage of the PoseurDome is a real fuckin' doozy: one band turns metal into a complete farce, the other tries so hard to take it seriously that it forgets it's supposed to be making music. But only one may emerge victorious, and the winner is...

It's tacky, it's silly well beyond the point of frustration, but it was at least vaguely listenable, and, as the shorter of the two, the only one I managed to make it through twice. Plus, I'm concerned that if I recommend Immorium, I may be found to be legally liable when all of you start turning up swinging from your ceiling fans.


Saturday, October 24, 2015



Some chuckle-worthy dark humor, a decent metal soundtrack, and some phenomenal gore gags are often overshadowed by eye-rolling film tropes and a poor overall representation of metal fan culture in New Zealand horror comedy, DEATHGASM.  

When I was approached to review metal-oriented gorefest, Deathgasm, I had some high expectations. Heavy metal? Comedy? Horror movies? It sounded like the perfect marriage of everything I appreciate in life, and to be fair, there is indeed a lot to appreciate about Deathgasm. It's a fun movie, and it's definitely something the gorehounds among us will get a kick out of. But as someone who respects great film and even greater metal music, Deathgasm's greatness ultimately did not match my excitement for it.

The movie follows the awkward teenage metalhead Brodie, who finds himself stuck with his Christian conservative relatives after his mother gets put away for drug charges. Brodie's lifestyle, obviously, is not well-accepted by his family, and his whole interaction with them in the film can more or less be summed up by watching the first three minutes of Tenacious D's Pick of Destiny. He covers his walls in posters (more on which ones in a second), consistently wears his patch-covered denim vest (more on which bands in a second), and spends his spare moments at home wanking away on a cheap B.C Rich and a puny Marshall practice amp, much to their religious dismay. He's also not well accepted by his peers at school, constantly tortured by his own cousin and his bro dude friends in the sort of sadistic ways that you don't really see outside of cinema. That sort of "well, well, well" swirly-giving bullying that is only one example of the many in regards to Deathgasm's admittedly lazy writing. Of course, the bully cousin has a perfect blonde girlfriend who he doesn't treat exactly perfect, so she can't launch her moist, vagina into Brodie's nice-guy-with-a-bad-boy face fast enough after putting dewy eyes on him for all of 6 seconds. I think Brodie helps her pick up some dropped books or some shit as the harbinger of their inevitable romance. I groaned out loud at this moment, and I wish it would be the only time in the film I felt like doing so.

Early in the film, Brodie meets up with fellow metal maniac Zakk, who is clearly presented as the metal elitist of elitists. However, my interest in how they would go about representing his sort of character properly in the film was soundly dashed the moment he pouted his lips and nodded in true metal approval the moment Brodie expressed interest in a Trivium record. Yes, let's talk about that now... This movie, meant to put underground metalheads in the spotlight as protagonists, oozes with appreciation for Trivium, of all things. Trivium posters, Trivium patches, Trivium stickers, Trivium t-shirts. It's all over the fucking place. It baffles me that a movie that would make use of black metal music and imagery would have a mainstream vanilla metal band like Trivium present in the same piece of media so prominently.

That's not my biggest issue with how metal fandom is represented in Deathgasm. It portrays metal fans as a bunch of bullied, brooding edgelords who consistently have to reassure their fragile masculinity at every turn with artificially inflated crassness and intention to offend. It implies that there's no way anyone could listen to extreme music without having overblown hardships regarding their upbringing or social interactions. Considering the people who made this film surely must have been metal fans themselves, I was disappointed to see how inaccurately portrayed metal fans were as a whole. While it's often true that metalheads tend to be a bit less socially inclined than most people, generally the most shocking thing about us is how dully normal we all are. I didn't have a traumatic childhood and I'm not a sociopath, but somehow I find myself a black metal fan anyway. I think if the film lent itself to playing with that concept, I would have enjoyed it significantly more.

Perhaps the movie played into the metalhead stereotypes on purpose strictly for entertainment value. It's a comedy, after all. Nothing in this film is meant to be taken that seriously. I just feel it was a missed opportunity to shine some truth on the subject of metal fans. Ultimately, Brodie's crummy life and abuse is what leads him to summon a demonic presence in the pursuit of greater strength, so it all played into the main plot of the film. I guess I'm just taking it personally that it was done at the expense of his joy of metal music. The horror genre has no shortage of bullied weaklings that do something despicable out of resentment or desperation. Deathgasm just uses the perceived suffering of metal fandom as a new excuse to make that happen, and it didn't exactly sit right with me.

Finally, considering this was an independent horror film, Deathgasm's story and characters were overall very Hollywood simple. The women in the film are essentially walking blow up dolls used to enhance the male characters' plot. Eventually they get to upgrade from brainless eye candy to fighting fuck toys. So aside from the gore gals among us, this movie doesn't have much to offer the ladies. There's a chubby comedic relief buffoon, an evil organization of rich people, some sort of clairvoyant with prophesies of doom and the aforementioned lead protagonist in a new town and new school where he has a tough time fitting in. They could have done anything with this plot, and it's not as though I didn't approve of the supernatural horror that all this fluff finally leads up to. It just seemed like Deathgasm was a very typical teenage boy struggle film with a metal appreciation skin overlaying it. Just replace black metal and deadites with radioactive spider powers and this is a movie we've seen too many times before.

I didn't want to give Deathgasm a poor review. It's got a lot of cool stuff. A solid metal soundtrack, funny jokes, kickass animated transitions, good acting, and the gore gags are all spectacular. It's a mindlessly fun movie and it should just be treated as such. However, if you were looking at Deathgasm to be the essential movie for metalheads who want to see themselves portrayed properly as unlikely heroes, I'd keep looking.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TNM Goes To A Show: Bölzer, Watain and Behemoth at Metro Theatre, Sydney

Here at TNM, since we apparently refuse to learn our lesson, we occasionally decide to voluntarily subject ourselves to the marathon of armpit stank, shirtless fat guys and 8 dollar beers that is the public gathering of metal fans at your nearest small-to-medium-sized venue. I'm talking, of course, about metal shows.

Jesus Christ, what an absolute fucking sham. You can barely convince most metalheads to part with 15 bucks for a decent record that you get to own forever, yet we're more than happy to shell out half a hundred clams to go and stand with a bunch of complete strangers and be violently shoved around for 3-4 hours just to be reminded of the fact that most of our favorite bands can't even play their own music properly.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the reason we go to metal shows isn't because we want to listen to live metal, it's because we want to show off. If you wear your cut-off denim jacket covered in patches from underground Scandinavian black metal bands to work (assuming that by some miracle you actually have a job), you're going to get sectioned.

But a metal concert is the one place on the planet where anyone even comes close to giving a shit if you've ever listened to Lich King.  It's the one place you, as a modern day metal elitist, can forget for just one night that your parents are bitterly disappointed in you and everything you stand for.

In Australia, we only get maybe one or two metal shows a year (if that) which warrant even the casual raising of an eyebrow, so when I heard that Bölzer, Watain and Behemoth were coming to a city within driving distance of my house, I brushed the Cheetos dust off my lap, put on some pants and hopped right on to it.

There's three crucial parts to every decent metal show: the band sets, the crowd, and the venue, and being the journalistic equivalent of a turgid, throbbing, unyielding erection that I am, I am going to bestow upon our unsuspecting readers a review of each of the above aspects of the concert.

Ladies, three at a time, please.

The Venue

When myself and the complete poseurs I've allowed to assume are my friends arrived at the Metro, being that we were from out of town, I have to admit we were pleasantly surprised. We climbed the stairs and were greeted by a huge open bar area completely separated from the theater itself. I ordered my usual Jack and Coke and the bar staff were efficient and helpful, I waited about 45 seconds in line. The drinks were strong and reasonably priced ($7 for a Jack and Coke at a gig in Australia is a fucking steal) and the bar was intelligently placed far enough from the performance area that the barmaid could hear you placing your order and you could drink it in peace while verbally undermining your fellow metal fans and without being barged into by the token wannabe Pitmaster General and having it spill all over your combat boots.

After downing about 3-4 drinks apiece we headed inside to catch the last half of Bölzer's set (my biggest regret of the evening, more on that later) and were greeted with what is without a doubt the most intelligently constructed metal venue I've ever laid eyes upon. It appears that whoever built the Metro is a fan of Brenocide's, because the glorious oasis for the withering metal fan known as 'The Back' was basically a tiered staircase with seats and railing to lean on at each level, leading up to a top floor that had a second, equally badass bar and a gallery that stretched all the way around one side of the theater.

But if, like me, you are young, virile and in possession of a huge swinging dick, the area dedicated to pit-based shenanigans was large enough that no one was being face-slammed against the wall or buried in a pit viking's arm pit, but still small enough that everyone who wanted to be close to the band was able to do so, there were multiple staircases that lead outside if you wanted to duck out for a smoke, and the merch table was reasonable with pricing, well stocked and staffed for the duration of the show. No matter why you came to the show, the venue had you covered, and I know that liking something is not funny or metal, but I could not think of one single thing wrong with this venue. If you get a chance to check out a show at the Metro, do it, or you're a fucking idiot.

The Sets

Bölzer: I hadn't heard much about Bölzer before the show, and given that they were the opening act, we figured based on previous experience with openers that we'd be pretty safe missing half of their set in favor of drinking excessively at our hotel prior to heading in.

Talk about a rookie mistake. Bölzer are hands down the most promising new death metal act I have heard in years, and I immediately wished I had turned up for their whole set. They're a two piece band consisting of a drummer and a guitarist/vocalist that manage to produce a more interesting and complete sound than just about any similar band working today. This band got a notoriously cynical crowd of Australian metal fans (99% of whom had never heard of them) going absolutely fucking apeshit. Do your Periphery-worshiping ass a favor and add some Bölzer to your diet.

Watain: Oh, fuck. The best thing about Watain's set was that it didn't really go for long. I have never seen a band try so hard for an audience so indifferent. Out of the thousand-ish people in attendance, maybe 5-10% of the audience could have given a shit. Most of the people in the designated fun zone for Bölzer filtered out to the bar or joined the line for the merch table while Watain were playing.

It's not that it was a bad set, it's just that the people who clearly came solely to see Watain were such complete rectal emissions that it ruined anyone else's chance of enjoying the band. The pit for Watain's set was full of 19 year olds wearing corpse paint who thought that the very fact that a black metal band was playing in Australia gave them license to quite literally throw punches at one another in the pit, and the band condoned this behavior from their fans. These little shits threw full beers from the pit into the rest of the audience on purpose, which not only (criminally) wasted beer, but drove anyone who may have wanted to enjoy the set far away from the action.

They probably put on a pretty good show, but all I can tell you is that after the third chest-high lip ring sporting poseur decided to try and plant a haymaker on me for daring to be in the first half-dozen rows at a metal concert, I decided to head on out to the bar to get extra drunk for Behemoth.

Behemoth: Chances are, if you've ever seen a Behemoth set in a reasonably intimate setting, you've seen something pretty close to their set at The Metro. There's a reason these guys are one of the most enduring metal bands working today. They know how to put on a show.

It's pretty tough to beat Behemoth when it comes to showmanship. Their stage presence is one of the best I've seen from a metal band. Shit was set on fire, blood was literally rained down upon the first few rows, their costuming and lighting cues were perfect.

Musically, they aren't even close to the best black/death metal band around at the moment, but it's easy to see why 90% of the people who turned up to the gig came purely to see Behemoth. They understand their audience and their image. They played the music their fans wanted to hear with the theatrics we've come to expect from them. In terms of who played the best music, Bölzer probably has them beat, but Behemoth definitely put on a show to remember, and it was probably worth going just to see Nergal blindly throw his guitar over his shoulder at the end of their set only for it to be caught mid-air by his waiting guitar tech (seriously, no matter what that guy's earning, it's not enough).

The Crowd

Overall, I was amazed at the crowd's ability to uphold the tenants of true metal. I was not forced to bear witness to one single superfluous neck tattoo; spin kick; thumb sticking out or douchebag headbanging in the bathroom.

With the exception of Watain's set, the pit was solid. Those who fell to the ground were picked up, very few people tried to bring their beers up to the front and people who didn't want to mosh (generally) stayed out of the moshing area.

But holy shit, people, do we have to tell you all again that you're not supposed to bring your girlfriend to shows? I've never seen anything like it. No less than a dozen corset-clad harlots managed to force their boyfriends to shield them as they awkwardly shouldered their way to the front row, and these dudes then proceeded to bitch incessantly when their raven-haired fuck holes got sideswiped by metal fans possessing the gall to have a good time.

News flash, sweetheart, if you want to get to the front, get there early, and if you don't want a bunch of dudes rubbing all up on your girlfriend, don't bring her into the pit at a fucking metal show. Owning a vagina does not mean I have to stop enjoying the band and part the red fucking sea to make sure your 5'4" ass gets a closeup of Nergal dropping the opening riff to Slaves Shall Serve.

When it comes down to it, the Australian metal scene can be pretty lackluster and I was very surprised to see that we could all get together and not completely embarrass ourselves. Kudos to you, Sydney. Together we managed not to be one giant collective neck beard.

The one and only time it's ok to take a selfie. [From Behemoth's Facebook page]