Vikings Take Over the Holy Land

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FB_IMG_1490283784349Amon Amarth is coming to Israel.

Read it again.

AMON AMARTH IS COMING TO ISRAEL!!

When I got the Facebook invite to the show, I thought it was yet another group that WANTS Amon Amarth to come. Just like there is a Rammstein one and plenty of others I’m sure. But then I saw a time and place and thought it must be a tribute. But no one would come to a tribute concert of Amon Amarth. Tributes are usually for bands that would draw a bigass crowd like Death, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, Motorhead…

So when it finally hit me that this is for real – the real band, an actual show, in my country – I nearly cried. My husband was sleeping, my daughter was dozing on my lap, so I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted to do which was to jump to my feet and scream.

I bought the tickets right then and there. On July 27, Amon Amarth tears the holy fuck out of the Israeli stage.

I try to keep my expectations low because a. a confirmed show does not necessarily mean a confirmed show. Cancellations abound in Israel. And b. there is no way that this show will be better or even remotely as good as the Amon Amarth show I saw at Wacken. The atmosphere of a metal festival, tens of thousands of amazing metalheads, a giant stage in the open air – all of this will be lacking in the Israeli show. From what I understand, the venue they chose is one that holds no more than a thousand people. The Israeli metalhead crowd is cool but there won’t be many. And finally, an Amon Amarth show that is not in the open air will undoubtedly diminish the ultimate experience of an Amon Amarth show. I hope that at least the stage will be big enough to accommodate the usual decor – the front of a Viking ship, wooden dragons blowing smoke, etc. I also hope explosions and pyrotechs will be possible in such a venue and such a stage, because when Johan will scream “FIRE!” on the chorus of Asator, it just wouldn’t be the same without simultaneous pillars of fire exploding from the stage.

So I keep my expectations low. I don’t want a repeat of the Arch Enemy show in Israel. Although it was a killer show, it was nowhere near as good as when I saw them live in Montreal. I think that the first time you see a band live is always the best time. I think it’s also because of the excitement of seeing one of your favorite bands live for the first time ever. So any second, third or fourth time you see them live pales in comparison.

I’m still excited for the show though. Just like I know that it wouldn’t be as amazing as their Wacken performance, I also know that they will still deliver a killer show. Amon Amarth can’t do it any other way.

Aside from that, I still fantasize about an Industrial fest in Israel, featuring my three favorite industrial rock bands, Disturbed, Rammstein and Marilyn Manson. Not that it’ll ever happen, but a girl can still dream. Wouldn’t it be totally fucking awesome? I’ve never seen any of these bands live, so I can only imagine how I would react if it actually did happen. I’d be like:

“Disturbed? Oh my god!”
“Rammstein? HOLY SHIT!!”
“Marilyn Manson??” *gasp* *faint*

But yeah, that’s definitely a long shot.

But dude, AMON AMARTH IS COMING TO ISRAEL!

Peace, love and ODIN!!!!!!!!

Grrrl Flop

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Last night, I went to a punk show at a local bar. The first band on the bill was a girl punk band from Russia. So I thought, like, “Pussy Riot”, fuck yeah! Or at least some form of riot grrrl band.

I sampled their music via YouTube and found a song of theirs that was rather interesting and sounded a bit like it was inspired by Bikini Kill.

I got really excited for the prospect of seeing a live riot grrrl band in Jerusalem, which very rarely or never happens. So I wore my Bikini Kill t-shirt and sort of fantasized about the Russian band going onstage, playing some of their original material, and then spotting me with my shirt and saying “This next song is dedicated to the badass chick with the Bikini Kill tee,” and break into a cover of “New Radio” or “Rebel Girl.”

But that didn’t happen. Not even close. The first song they played was the one I sampled from YouTube, and it was their only acceptable, slightly riot grrrl-y song. The rest of their show was made of a medley of muddied-down songs that sounded nothing like punk, or even music for that matter. The organizers may have referred to it as punk, but I refer to it as WTF?!

My husband was suffering and said “Punk is not complicated. Verse, chorus, verse. You don’t even need much technical talent. Hell, WE were better than that!” He was referring to our Mistress Distress project back in 2012. And yes, compared to last night’s show, we weren’t half bad.

Needless to say, I was utterly disappointed, considering my fantasy of earlier that day. I mean, they didn’t even have to cover a Bikini Kill song. They could have just played a few more songs that sounded more like their first one. That would have been good enough.

I’m still looking for a riot grrrl scene in Jerusalem, so when a band like that comes to town, it’s only natural that I get my hopes up way too fucking high.

Peace, love and sigh…

Life Is Good. Death Is Better!

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20141001_194934Yesterday was my 32nd goyishe birthday. For the occasion, my boyfriend’s parents and family ordered pizza and a chocolate cake, and I got a few new shirts, a pair of pants and some birthday songs. My boyfriend already got me a Stephen King book from my Amazon wishlist, which I should get only towards the end of this month, plus a nice night of romance which I got last night.

Also, I got a free salad from my favorite salad place in downtown Jerusalem. I must say that I don’t recall ever getting a birthday wish or free stuff from any company or shop in Montreal whenever my birthday rolled around. But in Israel, I got a text and an e-card from my medical insurance company, a text from Hasalatia informing me of a free salad, and even my salary slip at work has a little note wishing me a happy birthday. My coworker says it’s probably the companies’ way of reminding me that they exist, as some kind of publicity, but I still thought it’s sweet, and made me smile.

Aside from all that, I also got a letter from my new penpal from Salem, Massachusetts, and the zine I ordered from Sweet Candy Distro!

So I was sitting at the post office branch in downtown Jerusalem, waiting to take care of some errands for my work, while reading my penpal letter and leafing through the awesome zine. A girl sitting next to me was sifting through a whole stack of bills she has to pay. This made me think of how much happier I am to find colorful envelopes in my mailbox and how snail mail can be so much more awesome when the packages you get are not just boring old bills and stupid flyers for shit you don’t need.

I can’t wait to write my Salem penpal back and maybe even send my recent Purple Myrtle Squeegy zine issue to Sweet Candy Distro for consideration!

Also, tonight there is a tribute for the awesome band Death in Tel Aviv. A couple of years ago we went to another Death tribute they had at Sublime, also in Tel Aviv. I recall it was fucking rad! Death is not an easy band to cover. Their musicians are as good as they come and their vocals are second to none. But that tribute was surprisingly good, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I don’t know how good this year’s tribute will be. My boyfriend says that the place where they will play (Barbi Bar) has terrible acoustics. However, this year they got musicians from several bands, including Magor who we saw at Wacken in August and at Festikassach last week, plus a drummer from Cradle of Filth. So that should be interesting.

I like birthday season. When the Zodiac turns to Libra, the stars tend to line up and all is well in the universe. I am really looking forward to fasting this Sabbath (Yom Kippur) and also to the full moon on my Jewish birthday (Succot).

Peace, love and health to all

Congregate to Desecrate

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I’ve been going to metal nights at Idrabar every Sunday for the past few weeks. Metal nights in Jerusalem is not a usual occurrence, so whenever it does happen, I try to be there and support the scene.

Last night, there was another metal night. This time, it took place at Uganda. There were two live gigs aside from the metal that was spinning before, in between and after the shows. It was nice to see familiar faces. The scene is pretty small, so the people who show up are always the same and always know each other.

Jerusalem is not the kind of city you would expect there to be a metal night, so when you find yourself walking within the walls of the holy city and happen to catch the deep dark tones of heavy guitar and guttural growls emanating from some small venue that may very well feature the sign “abandon all hope ye who enter here” posted on the door, it pretty much blows you away.

However, simply stumbling upon a bar that just happens to feature some metal music on a particular night rarely ever happens in Jerusalem. So if it does happen, consider yourself lucky.

Personally, it took me quite a few years to find the small nucleus of the metal community in Jerusalem. At first, I was pretty sure it didn’t even exist. But then there was Scream bar, which I found out about through Facebook. I went there once or twice before they closed. Then I signed up to the Yellow Submarine mailing list hoping to catch one of their metal fests featuring local bands. That was until my email got phished and couldn’t be accessed anymore. And anyway, most of the people who attended these metal nights at the Submarine were Tel Avivians and my search for the elusive Jerusalemite metal community continued.

As luck would have it, I became involved with Jerusalem guys from the scene who I met online. The first introduced me to many of the metal bands I listen to today. The second, who is actually my boyfriend, introduced me to the Jerusalem metal community he was lucky enough to find. He also introduced me to bars that feature the most face-melting metal you can hope to find within the confines of this city. He also took me to European metal festivals, some of which I had heard of but never dared to so much as dream about going to. So yes, it took some time and required some special effort, but it was worth it.

For now, I have yet to find a riot grrrl community in Jerusalem, but as time goes on, it becomes less and less promising. And since the metal community contains an overwhelming majority of the testosterone variety, I feel the need to drag my current girlfriends to metal nights whether they like it or not. Yes it is a bit selfish, but being the only girl in a crowd full of dudes, makes me feel small and shoved to the sidelines.

So last night, I got my German friend to join me. I had a great time, and I think that she did too. The only problems were those that cannot be remedied on any metal night I go to:

1) The volume was beyond ear-perforating, so I had to scream during a conversation and lose my voice in the process.

2) There are two equally irritating sitting options: Option A is sitting outside the bar, feeling the frosty air of the Jerusalemite winter night penetrate deep into your bones; and option B is sitting inside and go back home smelling like an ashtray.

3) If you’re going to get smashed but don’t want to pay a ridiculous amount of cheddar to a sketchy taxi driver to drive you back home, make sure you leave the bar before the busses stop running; this means setting yourself a Cinderella curfew before the clock strikes midnight. Just don’t lose your shoes!

However, sacrificing your hearing, vocal chords, wonderful soapy aroma, and your chance for a state of inebriation is a small price to pay for those truly dedicated to the metal scene. So wherever they choose to stick us, as long as we have a place to congregate and enjoy wholesome extreme metal, we’ll be just fine and dandy.

Peace, love and \m/

Daughter of Thunder

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I woke up to a cold and dreary morning. Gray skies, non-stop rain, winds blowing through the edges of the door and windows, making a loud and annoying whistling sound to scare the wits out of the dead.

Every year, I dread this time and pray that it will stop raining around me and instead rain only where it’s really needed (like in the Kinneret or on crops or whatever…)

I never deluded myself thinking I’m a typical Israeli or anything. I moved to Israel still not liking falafel, hummus, tehini or schwarma. And I never liked the cold. I never liked rain. I’ve liked snow only when I’ve never seen it, and once I did, I hated it every single time it reared its ugly white flaky head. I love heat. I love sweating. I try my best to stay as warm as possible. Rarely do I ever turn on the AC during the summer. And the heater is always on during winter. In winter, I never wear less than two layers of socks, two layers of pants, four layers of shirts, plus a sweater and a winter coat, with all the rest of my winter gear. And of course, I go on a healthy diet of teas and soups.

But besides all that, if there is one thing that can help me survive this horrible time of the year, it’s music. Music is my savior. The sky can be as gray as a corpse and the rain can be pounding down like hammers on an anvil, and none of it matters as long as my eardrums are vibrating to the sounds of my iPod. My inner child completely tunes out to the terrifying reality of winter, and imagines she’s in a huge crowd, watching the respective band or artist onstage. No matter how unrealistic or how impossible it may be. Jim Morrison may be dead, but she sees him live onstage. Same goes for Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, Mia Zapata, all of them come to life in her world, and they all fill it with sunshine, blue skies, blooming flowers, and steaming hot temperatures.

Hoodie 2

And since my iPod is one of the only things keeping me from spiraling down into utter depression, I need to keep it safe as well. So before going out, I put my player in its pouch, put it in a plastic bag, wrap it up tight, put it in my backpack and cover it with other objects to keep it dry. I take it out only once I’m on the bus and go on to drown in my fantasy world of endless live shows.

Speaking of live shows, some of those aren’t so far fetched. Eluveitie, Arafel, Funset, Habanot Nechama, Aviv Geffen, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Rob Zombie, HaShlooliyot, and others have all been realities. Arch Enemy and King Diamond have also been realities and will be once more in August at Wacken. Amon Amarth will eventually become a reality also at Wacken. Amon Amarth is so cool. I’m still psyched over the hoodie I got. It’s currently my favorite item of clothing, and it also helps to keep me warm. Wrapped in the arms of wholesome, heart-warming viking metal, both in fabric and auditory form.

Ah, that’s the life!

Peace, love and swing that hammer Thor!

Packing List to Hell

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I admit. I’m a little nervous about the trip to France. Our endless rides by plane, train and car in a foreign country are not only expensive, but seem complicated. I hope we don’t get lost on the way to the hole-town known as Clisson. I use the term “known” loosely because any French people I meet here in Israel never even heard of that place.

Anyway, I can’t control these potential mishaps any more than I can control the weather. So I’ll just have to deal with these problems if and when they arise, and take comfort in the things that I can control (unrelated, why does this strangely sounds like the AA mantra?).

Like my packing list, which I should make right now:

1) Fleece blanket
Seeing as my boyfriend and I are planning to set up camp in our car during the three days of the festival, and also because I’m pretty sure that Clisson nights have great potential for hypothermia, a fleece blanket is the only kind of blanket that I can think of that will be warm enough, yet at the same time, thin enough to fit in my suitcase.

2) Three t-shirts
And no more. One Arch Enemy, one Death, and one Deicide. I’ll be buying some more t-shirts from the merch area at the festival, namely King Diamond and Ozzy.

3) Hoodies
My faded Spalding one for the nights in the car, and my zip-up Arch Enemy one for night performances on the festival grounds. I’m still undecided about my patches vest…

4) Three pairs of pants
My torn track pants for the muddy days in case they should arise, so that if I get dirty, I can just toss them out; My tight plaid pants on particularly sunny days because I don’t want to get them dirty; My black pants on days when I feel particularly metal.

5) Undergarments
Worth mentioning because I may need long johns, stockings and several pairs of socks in case it gets really fucking cold.

6) Winter gear
Seeing as 20 degrees is as warm as it could get in Clisson, and 15 degrees is what it will be most of the day, I decided to pack my raincoat, tuque, scarf and gloves. I also need two long-sleeve shirts as extra layers, if needed. Yes, I hate the fucking cold, and no, 20 degrees is not warm enough. Not nearly enough.

7) Boots
I’ll probably be wearing my Converse for the flight, but I’ll take my winter boots in case of cold, muddy weather.

8) Toiletries
Makeup, toothbrush and toothpaste, facial cleanser, shampoo, chapstick, hand cream, hair moisturizer, hair brush, allergy pills, and towel. I was considering tweezer too, but then I thought if I’m planning to bring my suitcase on board, they might consider it a sharp object and they may confiscate it. I don’t want to risk that because this tweezer is one of a kind and it’s the only one I know how to use without injuring myself. Besides, letting my eyebrows grow for five days is not gonna kill me.

9) Food
Mostly pre-made sandwiches for the first day and canned stuff like tuna. These cans have a pull-tag on top so they can be opened without a can opener, which is important because I doubt they’ll let me bring a can opener on board. Besides, I don’t trust airplane food OR food in foreign countries. Hopefully, I can find something semi-edible at the festival.

10) Papers
Without those, you basically don’t exist. Passport, Israeli ID, plane and train tickets, health insurance policy, credit cards, and some cash money. Maybe I should find a way to keep these on me at all times…

11) Documentation material
That’s just a fancy way of saying camera and notebook. I do want to keep a specific account of what happened on this trip and take some pics so that I can write a blog post that’s a bit more exciting than the one you’re reading right now.

Peace, love and what am I forgetting?

Khaos Over Tel Aviv

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Arch Enemy’s performance in Tel Aviv last night was something else. With all the planning and organizing and preparing both strategically and emotionally, I still found myself with a great need for flexibility due to some events I wasn’t entirely prepared for.

The first concern was whether there would be traffic, and if we’ll be late – There wasn’t and we weren’t.

The second concern was if it’ll take us a long time to find the venue. Yet, we found it quite easily. “Follow the black pile,” said my boyfriend, referring to the scattered crowds of metalheads along the way.

Another concern was the weather. I was expecting the worst – being stuck outside waiting in line in the freezing, pouring rain. Though it was pretty cold, it wasn’t raining and we were quite alright.

When we finally made it inside, it was a much bigger venue than what I expected. There were also a few levels and platforms with railings around the stage. We found a decent spot on the left side of the stage on the second platform, right behind the railing. The platform was high enough so that we don’t have to do any contortionist acrobatics to see what goes on onstage. And the railing was low enough for me to be able to headbang, and it also proved to be quite useful for hanging our coats and the t-shirts we bought.

The stage was rather small, but I guess since this is Tel Aviv and not Montreal, and this was Reading 3 and not the Medley, that was to be expected. There wasn’t an enormous crowd, which was good, because I like to be able to breathe during a concert.

The first disappointment came early on. I had a back and forth email conversation with Angela about meeting the band backstage before the show. I gave her my cell number because it was my understanding that I would get a text message from her at around 9:00 and someone would come meet us near the merch area to take us backstage. That didn’t happen. Though we got there on time, I got no text message, and I found out later that night that the dude did come to the merch area where we were waiting, but didn’t see us, obviously, because he didn’t know what we look like.

When Chaos of Nazareth, the opening band, came onstage, I was well within my third stage of disappointment – desperation. I looked to the curtain of the backstage and saw a guy that looked like part of the tour management team. I went up to him, and screamed at the top of my lungs so he can hear me: “Can you tell Angela that Hadass is here?”

He went to check backstage and when he came back, he told me I’m too late, and that the band started warming up to go onstage. Now, if my email conversation with Angela would have been any different, it wouldn’t have been too upsetting. But she made it clear that meeting the band after the show would most likely not be possible, due to schedule matters.

My boyfriend tried to cheer me up, but I was still disappointed.

The inner child was livid. But she kept her passive-aggressive demeanor in the quiet way to which she is accustomed before exploding.

“You know,” she finally said, speaking mostly to herself than to me. “This is Arch Enemy’s first goddamn show in Israel. You’re about to get infused with a highly toxic amount of pure fucking metal right into your skull. The metal demon is at the doorstep of your brain. And here you are moping around because you won’t see the band backstage.”

She scoffed, but she slumped her shoulders and hung her head. The inner dialogue continued.

“Imagine if it would be the other way around,” she mused. “What if you were to see them backstage, and for some reason, you wouldn’t see them onstage. Would that have been worth it?”

The reply was immediate, “Fuck NO!”

“So swallow your bitter fruit. It was a misunderstanding. It didn’t work out, big fucking deal. Now let the metal demon in.”

And in it went. And when Arch Enemy took the stage, the demon thrashed me like a ragdoll. I didn’t fight it. The inner child reveled in the black and red metal aura radiating from the stage, and she savored every flip, every swivel, every snap and twist of the neck.

The show started at 10:30 and ended at 11:50. Arch Enemy played many songs from Wages of Sin and Khaos Legions, and a couple from Rise of the Tyrant, Doomsday Machine and Anthems of Rebellion.

At Graspop, Arch Enemy didn’t play any songs from Root of All Evil, but I thought it was because their festival set lasted 50 minutes and they had to keep the list of their tunes to a strict minimum. But last night, they ended the show without so much as a mention of that record. Though I was disappointed about that too, I was absolutely ecstatic that some of my favorite Arch Enemy songs did make the cut. The songs they played were:

Yesterday Is Dead and Gone
Revolution Begins
Ravenous
Enemy Within
My Apocalypse
Bloodstained Cross
Taking Back My Soul
(Daniel’s drum solo)
Under Black Flags We March
Dead Eyes See No Future
(Chris’s guitar solo)
(Michael’s guitar solo – Intermezzo Liberte)
Burning Angel
Dead Bury Their Dead
We Will Rise
Snow Bound
Encore: Nemesis
Fields of Desolation outro

I never thought Enemy Within, Dead Bury Their Dead and Burning Angel would make an appearance, but when the intro of each song began, the metal demon reclaimed its all-encompassing presence and my headbanging resumed with utmost violence. I screamed the lyrics to all the songs even if I could feel my throat being torn to shreds. There were times I pulled at my hair, pulled at my shirt, pounded my chest with my fists, arched my back and screamed at the sky. Following the show, I asked my inner child, “Did this really happen?”

“No,” she replied. “Here is what actually happened.” And she replayed a more violent, more bloody version of events than I could recall, followed by her evil little rebel smile.

My cousin joined us after the show. He was standing in the front row and scored a setlist, Michael’s pic and a handshake from Daniel. We hung around a little longer, waiting for the crowd to disperse. Meanwhile, I was looking to the backstage curtain every now and again, trying to debate whether or not I should give it another shot.

Finally, I saw the dude that spoke to me during the Chaos of Nazareth set, and decided to go for it. Worst that could happen, he says no and I have to settle with the one picture I have with Angela from Montreal.

“I just want to say hi, and I’ll be out of there,” I pleaded.

He went backstage and came back with a semi-positive answer.

“You can go in,” he said. “But only you. Nobody else.”

“So they can’t come with me?” I pointed at my boyfriend and my cousin.

“No, just you,” he insisted.

I turned to them and said “Sorry, guys!” And followed the guy behind the curtain.

After another 10 or 15 minutes of waiting, I was finally taken to the band’s dressing room. They were standing around drinking coffee, looking a bit ravaged and sweaty, sporting the good old we-just-kicked-a-bunch-of-ass-at-the-hardcore-metal-show-we-just-played look. I smiled My inner child smiled right through me, stretching my dystrophied jaw muscles as far as they’ll go.

I took a few pictures, got a few signatures and a few hugs, delivered Angela and Daniel the letters that my cousin asked me to give to them, and spoke to Angela a little. I don’t quite recall what I said, but I remember she told me she might be performing at Hellfest. And with Black Sabbath and King Diamond set to play there too, that’s a triple-chippy-chip-churrah for your ass. It totally made my night and compensated for any mishap before the show, any song they didn’t play during the show, and any neck-stiffness I experienced after the show and am still experiencing now.

After the backstage visit, I joined my group of metalheads outside and we went to eat. We got back home at the nice and ripe hour of 3:30 a.m. and I fell asleep with such a resounding snore to raise the dead. What an appropriate way to end the night.

And now the pictures (and a video) for your viewing enjoyment!