Blaze of Gory

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When I moved to Jerusalem about 11 years ago, I went out of my way to find the metal community (among other things like the feminist community, the riot grrrl community, and the everlastingly non-existant zine community).

I found small-scale metal shows and metal nights in bars like Uganda, Scream, and Yellow Submarine, and went to them often in an attempt to find the extreme metal underground community – the people who you could always count on to make an appearance at such events.

It wasn’t until I met my husband, seven years ago, that I discovered the elusive nucleus of the Jerusalem metal community. The bar we frequented on a regular basis was Blaze – a rock bar in a narrow alleyway off a sidestreet crossing Shamai, a street in downtown Jerusalem. I would have never found it if it weren’t for my husband. It was that remote.

Before I conceived my daughter, we became regulars at the bar, as part of the nucleus. Over the past seven years, we went to countless metal nights and metal shows, continuing the ritual that was Sunday Metal Night, delightfully headbanging to tunes ranging from the relatively clean tones of old school metal to the brutality of gore metal.

The metalheads who were a permanent fixture in said bar automatically became our mutual friends. They threw a surprise engagement party for us after we got engaged, and we set up a special extra big table for them at our wedding. We even invited them over to our place on Independence Day a couple of years ago, for a BBQ and of course, lots of face-melting metal tunes. We drove in groups to metal shows in Tel Aviv whenever a popular international metal band came to perform, displaying a powerful presence of the Jerusalem metalheads.

Our place of worship was Blaze. Our Congregation of Desecration.

And now, woe onto us metalheads, this bar is two weeks away from its closing day. Blaze Bar closes on October 1. That’s right. My goddamn birthday. The only decent metal bar in Jerusalem closing its doors is a wonderful birthday gift for a Jerusalem metal girl, is it not?

Last night, the final Sunday Metal Night took place. Despite having a hard time finding a babysitter on every metal night since my daughter was born, I was sure I’d have no problem for it this time because as part of the nucleus, parent or no-parent, attendance was mandatory for last night. At least it was for me. I didn’t want to let the final call for metal go to waste.

Alas, my mother-in-law was indisposed. Even after we managed to convince her to watch our daughter after the baby falls asleep, of course she didn’t fall asleep (she never does when she is in a place that is not her room). Plus, our dog had resumed her regular bouts of seizures, which just served to stress us out even more.

I was forced to remove my metal gear and tend to my maternal duties. I told my husband he should go without me and apologize to our friends for my being a flake. He did, and the rest of the evening went by uneventfully. Back in her own crib, in her own bedroom, my daughter promptly fell asleep. I watched a couple of episodes of Wentworth season 6, and crashed.

The end to a depressing fucking night.

Followed by another seizure c/o my dog at 3 a.m.

Fuck this shit. I’m going back to Stephen King. Still the best way for me to forget about shit that depresses me.

Peace, love and Insomnia

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Face-Melting Zine

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Metal flyer8

Other than filling pages and pages with endless piles of words, laying out a zine used to be one of my favorite pastimes before I became a mother. This is the most creative part of zine-production, requires little to no concentration, and can be done with loud-ass music playing.

I also used to travel a lot back then (it’s actually one of the things that I’m glad I’m not doing as much anymore because, I mean, airports. Am I right?). And whatever country I went to, I always made sure to visit places to satisfy my inner freak – metal fests, metal concerts, alternative clothing stores, metal bars, piercings/tattoos shops… These places always had the neatest flyers lying around. I collected a whole bunch and used them as backgrounds for any zine I made.

International Zine Month 2018 zine is soon to be laid out and I am in dire need of said flyers. But now that I am not traveling, and such freak locations and events are hard to find, I need to resort to the wonderful world wide web and search “metal flyers” or “punk rock flyers” to be used as backgrounds for my current zine.

I came across the most twisted and vile creations ever.

AND I FUCKING LOVE IT!

The logos and names of the bands written in font that nobody can read surrounded by skulls and skeletons, piles of decapitated corpses, zombies buried up to their hips in rivers of rotting flesh, blood gushing everywhere, not to mention the Goat of Mendes making its obligatory cameo appearance – this is the stuff that my perfect zine backgrounds are made of.

One of them also had “Death Metal till Death” written on it and I pulled my evil laugh with glee.

When I just started listening to metal, this was one of the aspects of the music that appealed to me and that really pulled me in – the gore, the insane amounts of grotesque imagery infesting the lyrics and the artwork of any respective metal band. Why did it appeal to me? Fuck if I know, and damned if I care.

We’re metalheads. We love our music loud and violent. And Satan help you if it’s not swarming with maggots.

I believe zines deserve to be just as wholesomely bloody.

Peace, love and visions of gore and death

 

The Metalhead Life

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What people tell me when they find out I like metal:

But you’re so quiet, how can you listen to a bunch of noise?
The reason I listen to your so-called “bunch of noise” is the very reason why I’m so quiet. The music does all the screaming for me. And besides, it’s NOT just random noises. It’s music created by some of the most talented musicians the world has to offer. The perfection of the riffs, the percussion, the bass, the synchronization of all these instruments and the intricacy of the melodies appeal to the trained ear in a way that no other music can.

But you’re so sweet, how can you listen to such violent music?
Again, this so-called “violent” music allows me to soothe my anger without the need to physically or vocally expressing it. And violence is not the only theme of metal. Much of it is about empowerment, taking back control, speaking out, standing out, being yourself, standing up against oppression, being united for a just cause… there is a lot of positivity to be found in metal.

But I thought you were Jewish, so like what, you worship Satan?
Yes, I am Jewish. No, I do not worship Satan. Just because the theme of the satanism does appear in certain genres of metal does not mean I suddenly follow the occult. Kindly destupidify yourself.

How can you even understand what they say?
Yes, there are bands, mostly gore metal bands like Decapitated and Cattle Decapitation among others, where it is really impossible to understand what they say. However, personally, I always found that the music is more important than the lyrics. So I really don’t care much if I don’t understand what they say. But there are a ton of other metal bands where the lyrics are perfectly enunciated. Melodic Death metal bands like Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy for example. Also, you can always find the lyrics online. So whatever.

So you want to kill yourself or something?
No. I want to keep on living for as long as I can so that I can keep on listening to awesome shredding music, and hoping to not have to listen to assholes like you.

And you subject your kid to that noise? What kind of mother are you?
I am the kind of mother who will show my daughter that there are other genres of music out there besides Mizrachit, and that diversifying your playlist is not a bad thing. Being a metalhead does not mean that you are loud, violent, worship Satan, are incoherent, and suicidal, and it certainly does not make you a bad mother. In fact, the metalhead community is made up of amazing people, warm, kind and inviting, and if you are lucky enough to count yourself among these awesome people, you will discover a wonderful culture that encourages and supports individuality, respect, self-esteem, empowerment and pure fucking metal. These are the kind of values I want my kid to have.

Peace, love and headbang bang bang!

 

Living Carcass

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Last night, Carcass performed live in Tel Aviv. It was their first time in Israel in 25 years or something. The first time I saw them live was at Wacken in 2014 and if you were following my previous posts or read it in my zine, you would know that I wasn’t entirely blown away by their performance at the festival. So I rather expected their Israeli show to at least be slightly better. I don’t know what it is, maybe I’m getting old, but no, I wasn’t blown away by their Israeli performance either.

Don’t get me wrong. Carcass is amazing! They’re an epic band with a sound like no other. I absolutely love their songs. My husband and my metalhead friends loved the fuck out of their show. So after the show was over, I was trying to figure out why I didn’t.

We drove to Tel Aviv that evening after Shabbat came out. I didn’t wear as many layers as I usually do in this time of year because I expected it to be much warmer in Tel Aviv. It usually is, but this time it wasn’t. Fucking freezing weather and I curse thee winter. Asshole season, seriously.

The first band on the bill was Shredhead. I expected my ears to bleed seeing as I was told they were metalcore. But the band didn’t suck as much. I was just happy to be at a metal concert again.

After Shredhead was done tearing up the stage, and before Carcass was set to come up and (hopefully) pulverize it, the soundguy, for some godforsaken reason, decided to play a medley of ACDC songs.

Now, I’m sure I will make me some sworn enemies coming to my house with torches, but I. CANNOT. STAND. ACDC. A bunch of untalented cock-rock musicians, fronted by a guy who sounds like a dying cat choking on a frog. And all their songs sound the fucking same!

Anyway, when that shit was over, Carcass finally came up. A lot of their opening songs were from Heartwork and Surgical Steel. Two amazing records. The live songs were pretty good, except that I really like singing along to songs played live but Jeff Walker wasn’t singing exactly as he does on the record, so I had a bit of a hard time with that.

I also expected them to play at least one song off of Swansong. In fact, they played one and a half. That’s right, one and a half. They played the intro to Black Star, which is my favorite Carcass song ever. I screamed and started headbanging myself crazy, but then right before the beginning of the first verse, they suddenly switched gears and started playing Keep On Rotting. And I was like standing there going “What the fuck? Why would you do that?!”

A fucking tease is all it was. It may seem like a minor infraction but I think this is what killed it for me. I was livid. If you’re gonna start playing a song, play it to the bitter end. I told my husband after the show that I really think Carcass hate their own record. They probably think that Swansong is a piece of shit and refuse to play it live and think they can’t possibly destroy these songs any more than they already are so playing an intro to a song and then flick the switch and move on to another is perfectly acceptable.

It isn’t.

The rest of the songs were mostly from their older records, none of which I know. I found it irritating that they didn’t always hold for applause before playing the next song so at some point it just made it sound like a single longass endless song. They also played a couple of songs from their latest, Surgical Steel, which is also pretty good. And the last song was Heartwork, which I would have loved if I wasn’t so disappointed by the non-existence of Black Star.

Besides that, Jeff sometimes joked with the crowd, but his heavy British accent made it impossible for me to understand him. The rest of the crowd did, which is amazing assuming that they’re all Israelis with English as a second language, and I’m a Canadian with much better English than them, but I still failed to understand what the hell Jeff was saying. I think it’s like the French French who can’t for the life of them understand the French Canadians. Give me the old osti d’criss and be done with it.

I think another reason I didn’t enjoy the show as much as I should have is because earlier that day, my daughter had been either teething or experiencing some pain from the shots she got last week and was whining quite a lot. I felt bad leaving her in that state and going to a different city and coming home so late. I left her in the care of my mother-in-law who is great with her, but still. It wasn’t me. I felt as if I was abandoning her when she is in pain. In fact, my mother-in-law told me she didn’t fall asleep until 12:15 a.m. So how was I supposed to enjoy anything knowing that my daughter is in another city suffering and needing her mother?

Anyway, I’m still glad I got to go. I guess. Tonight, we have Sunday metal night. I plan on adding Black Star to the playlist and listen to it in all its full-length glory. And may the Goddess have mercy on anyone who dares to cut it short.

Peace, love and Carcass, keep on rotting yourself.

The Good, the Bad and the Metal

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When War Eternal was released and I was dumbstruck by just how crappy Arch Enemy had become, I thought, or rather hoped, it was a momentary lapse in judgment from the band or the producers. But now, out comes Will to Power to shatter any shred of hope for a better future for the band.

It’s official. Arch Enemy has sold out. And all of us United Enemies are in mourning.

I recently posted a link on Facebook to the album review written by a dude who calls himself Angry Metal Guy. He describes pretty accurately what I feared Arch Enemy would become if they continued down the path that War Eternal laid for them. Power metal, with lots of electronics, and the occasional clean vocals that have absolutely no place in death metal, no matter how melodic the band’s style may be. Basically, Will to Power is to Arch Enemy what St. Anger was to Metallica. A regurgitated dump.

Today, on the way to work, my player was on shuffle and “The Last Enemy” came up.

This, I thought, this is what death metal sounds like. This is Arch Enemy at its finest.

Seriously, War Eternal and Will to Power were written by a completely different band. I’m sorry, but I refuse to recognize these piles of horseshit masquerading as metal albums as having been written and recorded by a band that used to be so brutal and so brilliant.

carcass_flyer_12Onto brighter news, after Amon Amarth graced Israel by its presence and played a kickass show in Tel Aviv, up next on the bill is Carcass. They will be playing a show in Israel on December 9. My husband already bought the tickets, and we are currently looking for a babysitter.

Like Amon Amarth, we already saw Carcass at Wacken. The difference is that Amon Amarth’s show at Wacken was beyond spectacular, whereas Carcass’s show was not. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as we had hoped it would be. At the festival, they did not play a single track from Swansong, and not enough tracks from Heartwork. Also, back then, their latest record had just been released and we weren’t as familiar with the songs as we are now.  So we now hope that their show in Israel, which is not a festival, and which they are headlining, and in which they will most likely play a longer set, will kick as much ass as a Carcass show should.

Back to Arch Enemy, it should be emphasized that they still hold the number one spot in my list of favorite bands. That’s the Arch Enemy that recorded such masterpieces as Rise of the Tyrant, Wages of Sin, Doomsday Machine, Anthems of Rebellion, Root of All Evil and Khaos Legions.

Here’s to hoping for better days and better records.

Peace, love and Metal be thy name.

Amon Amazing

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Well, WordPress sucks dick. I just wrote a whole review of the show and it didn’t save my draft. So here it is again.

Aside from having a blast with IZM, I was set to have another blast with the Amon Amarth show in Israel.

On July 27, my husband removed the baby car seat from the back of the car, we picked up three of our Jerusalem metalhead friends, and dived into the so-humid-it’s-virtually-a-pool weather of Tel Aviv. The venue was small for the likes of Amon Amarth, but was bigger than I expected. The size of the stage and the way the crowd piled up all the way to the edge of it indicated that there would likely be no pyro-techs.

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In a previous post, I wrote that there is no way that the band could reproduce the awesomemess of their Wacken performance, and I was right. But I also wrote that they would still deliver a kickass show, and I was right about that too.

The two performances cannot be compared – we’re talking about a gigantic stage in the open air with tens of thousands of German metalheads thrashing around, versus a small scale show, a small stage in a closed venue, with around 1100 people crammed inside, drenched in sweat.

But it’s Amon Amarth we’re talking about and they deliver. Johan’s vocals are second to none, the guitars and the melodies reproduced EXACTLY as they are in the records, with no stupid alterations of the solos as many artists tend to do in their live shows, no useless longass speeches between songs – only blasts of song after song after song, that kept me headbanging till my neck went limp, and screaming till my throat became all bloody.

I was delirious with joy. Every once in a while, when a song ended or began, I found myself laughing hysterically out of sheer pleasure. I was screaming, pumping fists, throwing up metal horns, and headbanging myself silly. I noticed a girl standing in front of me, looking back at me every once in a while with an expression that said “what the fuck are you doing?”

Well, to answer your question, I AM HEADBANGING MY BRAINS OUT, BITACH! How is it that you’re NOT?! Are you hearing this?!

So yes, Amon Amarth has that effect on me. And no lack of fireworks, or presence of a roof, or so much sweat on my face that my hair stuck to it, could ever change that.

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The best thing about it, as my husband said, was the fact that after such a long time of being out of the metal scene, we were finally back in. With my pregnancy and the birth of our daughter, we couldn’t afford to have a night of good old sweaty screamy thrashy metal show like we’re used to. We attempted to go to metal shows and metal nights when I was pregnant, but I kept being paranoid about the cigarette smoke and the loud music that could harm my baby. And we simply could not enjoy the show. And now we’re back, and we went back into it with a live version Pursuit of the Vikings. Fucking A!

Peace, love and metalheads forever!

Metalheads Recommend

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While I was making my list of Fun-a-Day records, I ran into a block after Day 25 and couldn’t come up with any other bands I wanted to check out, so I posted a request to my metalhead friends on Facebook to recommend bands to me based on my musical preferences (I should have probably waited a little bit with that request because now I have albums and bands to check out running all the way through to February!). Here are the results.

SMBDay 26:
Screaming Mechanical Brain – Policy of Unilateral Hate (0/5)
I’m not even kidding with that score. When the first song came on, I was like “OK, clearly Nu Metal, sounds a bit like Iwrestledabearonce.” I was even willing to give them a chance because their vocalist has potential when he stops screaming and actually starts growling a bit. But at some point through their ridiculous electronic sound effects, they broke into the absolute most horrible clean vocals I have EVER heard. One would expect that in Nu Metal, but if your clean vocals sound more like boy band vocals than Backstreet Boys, then you know you suck the hairy one. I usually try to listen to a full record before rating it, but since I was in the middle of lunch while listening to this regurgitated steaming pile of batshit, and since every time the clean vocals kicked in, I quite literally felt my undigested lunch going through my throat the wrong way, I didn’t get past half of the second song. I feel bad for the garbage juice that has to share a trash can with this CD.

A note about clean vocals in metal: Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, other old school metal bands – clean vocals are their trademark. So that’s ok. King Diamond and Mercyful Fate – also their trademark. Some gothic black metal bands and folk metal – perfectly acceptable. HOWEVER! If your clean vocals sound like fucking Justin Bieber, you keep it out of your music, or you deserve to die!

einDay 27:
Einherjer – Odin Owns Ye All (2.5/5)
This band is clearly Viking Metal, but the only thing it has in common with Amon Amarth is the lyrics. The rest of the style is completely different. The vocals are clean (but still don’t sound like whiny boy bands, that’s a plus right there); the keyboards are very dominant; aside from the guitar and drums, there are a bunch of other instruments I can’t quite put my finger on that make the style lean more towards folk metal. They’re good. They sound like the kind of band that would open for bands like Tyr and Korpiklaani. But do I personally like it? I don’t know. They don’t have a sound that really sweeps me off my feet. They don’t have any special elements that make me say “Holy shit!” They’re far from boring, but they’re not the kind of band that I would keep listening to. Also, they sound a bit too power for my taste.

DypsDay 28:
Dypsomaniaxe – One Too Many (2.5/5)
This is not a metal band. It’s a punk band of the rocka/psychobilly variety. I am a huge fan of HorrorPops, so when the first song started, I thought I might actually like this because they sound somewhat similar. But it turns out that Dypsomaniaxe do not have the same crazy punkrock energy that HorrorPops have and all their songs sound alike. In fact, the entire record sounded like one big song with some breaks in the middle. They’re not a terrible band – they have a pretty good female vocalist, the lyrical content is nice and feminist at times – but their style and level of energy (or lack thereof) just didn’t speak to me.

WinterDay 29:
Winter of Sin – Violence Reigns Supreme (4/5)
Ah! Finally a great recommendation! I think what gave it away is that I had a bitch of a time finding a download link for this record and had to resort to streaming it from Bandcamp. Once again, if you are hard pressed to find a given band, chances are they kick ass. And Winter of Sin is no different. I love the melodic black metal style they adopted, and their vocalist is amazing. Just growls and black metal roars, no clean vocals. With all the raw and violent shredding riffs, beautiful catchy melodies wonderfully incorporated within the choruses and in between verses, unforgiving and unrelenting blast-beats, this band reminds me a bit of Astarte and Arafel. There were times where I found touches of Insomnium, which I didn’t really like, but there were very few, and the rest just blew my face clean off my skull. An absolute delight to the ears!

beDay 30:
Be’lakor – Stone’s Reach (1/5)
This band would have been excellent if the songs hadn’t been longer than the exile. The songs on this record last between just under six minutes and 10! The vocalist is incredible. The riffs and melodies are quite decent. But the length of every song is ridiculous. While listening to a song, I found myself checking back after a few minutes and thinking “Is this really the same song that started like seven minutes ago? Damn!” Actually, the shortest track is 2:48 minutes but it’s a boring and tedious instrumental piece – nothing more than an acoustic guitar. I decided to keep the shortest song and get rid of all the rest that my attention span is simply not willing to hear out.

PanteraDay 31:
Pantera – Cowboys from Hell (2/5)
This was a difficult score to deliver because the album itself is amazing. The songs, the riffs, the composition and arrangements, the tones that the vocalist reaches – this record is phenomenal on so many levels. The problem is that just the previous day, I saw a video recording of Phil Anselmo, former lead vocalist of Pantera (and on this record) giving a Nazi salute and yelling “White power” at the crowd. Also, as it turns out, this wasn’t the first time that Anselmo says and does something so disgustingly racist. After I saw that video, my husband (who suggested I add Pantera to my Fun-a-Day list) asked me if this will make me remove them from my list. I said no, but that it will most likely affect the way I feel about them. And it has. I mean, it wasn’t just a random wave to the crowd that was misinterpreted as the Ziegheil. It was straight-up Hitler. The way he looked, the expression on his face, the stomp of his foot coupled with the arm flying up in the air… it was a stab to the heart. As a Jew, I can’t help but let it affect me. On the other hand, I have a soft spot for the title track of this record since this was the song that opened the metal segment of our wedding. This was the track that cleared the dance floor for all our metalhead friends, and everyone went wild. So I’ll probably keep a few of the tracks on my iPod since Dimebag is still the shiznit. I just hope that my mental image of Anselmo’s version of American History X will slowly fade away over time.

Peace, love and even if Fun-a-Day is officially over, I got more albums coming up in February!