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!!!!!!!!

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!

The Grrrl with the Most Cake

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EDSC03428very once in a while I get these bouts of inspiration to try out a new recipe. I know that I’m pretty good at cooking, but baking is something I’ve never mastered. My mom says it takes practice. But for me it also takes patience, inspiration, time, lack of sleepiness, lack of laziness and sheer boredom. It also takes ingredients that I most likely don’t have and will probably never use again after trying to make the baked good in question (and failing miserably, succeeding only in making a terrific mess in the kitchen).

I like having a cake or cookies in the house. This is what I usually have for breakfast. So I either get the leftovers from the cake my mom made for Shabbat, or just buy one from the grocery store. But I’m inspired to bake! So here’s an idea. I will not buy any cake, and instead practice my half-baked skills on every other Friday. On the other Fridays, I go to Be’er Sheva and get leftover cake from my mom. There is no turning that down. No way. Seriously, my mom can bake a brick and it’ll taste amazing.

We usually go grocery shopping on Fridays, so I can get all the ingredients in the morning (or leave a list for my husband, so that I can sleep in). Then I’ll make the cake/muffins/cookies/rolls/whatever. And then do Tai Chi while it’s baking.

The inspiration of this past month came from two trials of blueberry muffins – the first batch came out blue because I made the stupid mistake of stirring the frozen blueberries into the batter. For the second trial, I used a different recipe and instead of mixing in the berries, I just dropped them into the pre-filled cups. This batch was much better and proved to me that practice is really what it takes.

Today (it’s Friday) I got a recipe for chocolate chocolate-chip muffins to try out. I figured I love chocolate! How can I possibly mess this up, right?

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You’re danm right, bitch! I fucking rule!! My mom’s tips do really help, but if you want my tip, the secret to making the best and badassest muffins in the world is listening to death metal while making the batter and headbanging while it’s baking! Fueling a metal spirit in the house gives that extra special magical touch to the muffins. There’s nothing quite like it.

Peace, love and two muffins are sitting in an over. One muffin says “Boy, it’s hot in here!” The other muffin says “Whoa! A talking muffin!”

King of Metal

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Mercyful Fate and King Diamond are my second favorite metal band of all time. However, there are a couple of records I didn’t really get into at the beginning. No particular reason. I just had my MF/KD songs and I was happy enough with them. But now that it’s Fun-a-Day, I think it’s time. And I’m so glad I did!!

KDDay 24:
King Diamond – Fatal Portrait (5/5)
As I was listening to the songs, one better than the previous and only getting better, I was like “Really? It took me this long to listen to this pure gold?” My husband says that Fatal Portrait features the best bassist that King Diamond ever had, but I would say that all the musicians are as best as they come. The shredding riffs and solos that are undeniable in practically all of MF/KD’s tunes are just as dominant and mind-blowing in this album as they are in the others. The King’s vocals are nothing short of musical genius. He does the work of five different vocalists, if not more, including varying tones and background vocals, growls, clean, shrieks, all at once. He’s the only vocalist who can pull his trademark BeeGees-like falsetto and still sound completely badass. And the MUSIC, oh my goddess! I was laughing with delirium really trying to figure out what took me so long. Is there anyone more deserving of this title than King Diamond?

MFDay 25:
Mercyful Fate – 9 (5/5)
I find the main difference between King Diamond and Mercyful Fate is that KD is somewhat more “gothic” and dark, whereas MF is heavier and more intense. This album is no different from the MF I am used to. If anything I found it even heavier and so perfectly evil. The song “Insane” is so fast and angry, it didn’t even sound like MF anymore. I loved the holy hell out of it. The songs are catchy and the music is phenomenal as always. Just like King Diamond, Mercyful Fate can never disappoint. There aren’t many metal bands that can claim to stay true to their sound and style as Mercyful Fate has. On 9, every intro made me lick my lips with anticipation because I knew that what would come next would be pure musical deliciousness, and I was not disappointed. Not by a long shot. King Diamond’s vocals are incredible, and it never fails to amaze me how he manages to shift between intonations and pitches so swiftly and perfectly. Just like there is no one more deserving of this title than King Diamond, no one is more deserving of a perfect score than Mercyful Fate.

Peace, love and ugh, screw the rest of Fun-a-Day’s albums, I’ll just keep listening to Mercyful Fate

What I Learned from Sunday Metal

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The following bands are bands that were posted on the Jerusalem Sunday Metal group on Facebook. I decided to add Hatesphere to the Fun-a-Day list for no other reason than the cover of their record looks amazing. Omnium Gatherum also featured on the Sunday Metal playlist a couple of times and Gates of Ishtar were described as melodic death metal which is my favorite genre.

HatesphereDay 21:
Hatesphere – New Hell (4/5)
An interesting thing about metal bands: you hear the intro to a song and hold your breath for the vocals. Because really, sometimes, bad vocals are all it takes for a song to be completely ruined. With Hatesphere, the vocals aren’t catastrophic but they’ll take some getting used to. As for the music, it’s perfect, solid thrash. It’s got a shit-ton of energy, the riffs and drums are fast as hell as any good thrash should be, they even got some phenomenal melodies and face-melting solos in there. The vocals are mostly screamish, with great occasional growls. In fact, the growls are so good that if it was the dominant vocal style of the album, I would have rated it a definite 5/5. But it’s mostly screams, which I don’t dig much. One or two songs also have some clean background vocals in the chorus along with the leading growls or screams (sort of like in Arch Enemy’s “End of the Line”). I could have done without those, but they’re not common and dominant enough to affect the rating of this record. An all around excellent album. Once I manage to get used to the vocals, I can honestly say I love it.

OGDay 22:
Omnium Gatherum – Years in Waste (2/5)
The songs that were featured on Sunday Metal night were newer ones and had some clean vocals that I hate. The growls however were pretty decent so I figured their older material is probably better (that’s usually how it goes – a metal band starts out brutal, then realizes that emo boy bands get more attention and they start going all clean and wimpy). Anyway, the record did indeed have only growls and no clean vocals, which was ok and probably the only reason why I didn’t rate this record a big round zero. I was pretty disappointed with the songs which seemed to last as long as years, and a complete waste indeed. I was expecting more death. So when the keyboard effects kicked in, I wrinkled my nose in utter disgust. Keyboards do NOT belong in death metal. Plus, their emphasis on the progressive aspect is completely unnecessary. Prog coupled with the atrocious keyboard just makes them sound like Dream Theater with growls, and although I might get nice and blasted for saying this, I hate Dream Theater. Their songs just sound like a bunch of jumbled up nonsense. NEXT!

Gates of IshtarDay 23:
Gates of Ishtar – The Dawn of Flames (4.5/5)
The first two or three songs of this record were actually kinda boring, stale and repetitive. They didn’t draw me in or sweep me away at all. Which is why when the next songs came on, I was utterly surprised by how awesome they are. I had to check my iPod several times to make sure I was actually listening to the same band. Melodic death is the love of my life. What is interesting about this record is that it also features some black elements like snare blast beats and black vocals. The vocals also reminded me of another band but I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but I knew that it’s a band I love. Then it hit me – God Dethroned. The melodic riffs, the blast beats shifting into headbanging death beats, the guitar solos, the soft melodic interludes of acoustic guitar and piano, exploding back into brutality, with the bloody-pulp-throat shrieks and double kickdrum, so much like God Dethroned only somewhat darker and cleaner at the same time. Wow. Just wow. A terrific band-aid for my bleeding ears following the horror that is Omnium Gatherum if nothing else, Gates of Ishtar is now a member of the long and illustrious list of melodeath bands that make my heart go bang-bang-kaboom.

Peace, love and King coming up!

Branded with Metal

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Fun-a-Day continues with some good wholesome metal.

KataklysmDay 19:
Kataklysm – Shadows & Dust (5/5)
Kataklysm returns once again to pillage, destroy and decapitate my very essence. This album was supposed to be the first one to listen to on Fun-a-Day, however the general rule says that good bands and good albums are always hard to find. But I finally did! This album is even better than Of Gods and Ghosts. The genre is different. It’s one of their earlier albums and it’s far darker than their recent works. It has more elements of black, more blast beats that characterize the genre. The lyrical content is also more demonic. The vocals shift between deep guttural growls and high-pitched shrieks, quite reminiscent of Glen Benton. In fact, whereas their later works reminds me of Arch Enemy, this record reminds me of Deicide, with the black death vocals and the shifting tempos of the drums and riffs. However, it still has its melodies, mostly in the guitar solos, instrumental interludes and quasi-melodic riffs. It’s absolutely incredible. I had shivers through my system pretty much throughout the entire record. It’s such a solid 5/5, I feel tempted to give it a 6! Six-six-six, bitches!

AstarteDay 20:
Astarte – Rise from Within (4.5/5)
I actually found a torrent that includes all of their albums including the one they released under the name Lloth (which I had to stream on the second day of Fun-A-Day). I am not that big of a fan of black metal, but the Greek band Astarte does it like no other, mainly because they include melodic instruments – piano and keyboards which sound like an orchestra – and often shift their tempos and riffs to add more color and nuance to their tunes. The vocals are magnificent. And I just found out that the earlier lineup does not feature Tristessa on vocals, but her predecessor is just as talented with her vocal acrobatics – rugged, bloody, purely black shrieks and screams. This record features some instrumental pieces which are not as great as the others, but this is an Astarte signature that is to be expected. They also have a 10-minute track. Ridiculously long, but pretty damn good. The melodies are phenomenal, the riffs are as black as they come, the vocals sweep you away like tidal waves on the Mediterranean shores of Greece. A superb record, highly recommended and a must-have for melodic black metal fans.

Peace, love and sizzling branding iron on my flesh

Music for the People

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So these past two days, I focused on two Folk Metal bands – Arafel and Vogelfrey. Arafel, from Tel Aviv, Israel, sings in English and Russian, and Vogelfrey, from Hamburg, Germany, sings in the love-of-my-life German. And we got two sweeping 5/5’s!

ArafelDay 14:
Arafel – Second Strike: Through the Flames of the Ages (5/5)
This band unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore, but I was lucky enough to see them live in Jerusalem a few years ago at the Yellow Submarine, during a metal night called Battle for Jerusalem. Then I discovered the last CD they released, For Battles Once Fought, which I find is the best thing to ever come out of Israel’s metal scene. So for Fun-a-Day, I decided to give one of their earlier albums a shot. Again, finding it for download was impossible, so I settled for streaming, and my love for this album was as immediate as it was for Battles. They way they incorporate the violin and the keyboard with the black elements of blast beats and pig squeal vocals is unreal. Every time the violin kicked in, I felt shivers down my spine and exclaimed with glee “I have got to get my hands on a copy of this! FUCK!!” In some songs, the pig squeals were accompanied with guttural growls, sometimes the violin melody accompanied and doubled the guitar solo, giving the songs a dimension that is incomparable in any other band. Terrific arrangements. Phenomenal vocals. Perfect record.

VogelfreyDay 15:
Vogelfrey – Zwolf Schritte zum Strick (5/5)
I remember streaming a couple of their songs on YouTube before my husband and I went to Wacken in 2014. And I loved their songs so much I just had to check out a full album. If I haven’t already said it, let me reiterate: I. FUCKING. LOVE. GERMAN!!! It just sounds so perfect with any metal sub-genre. And Vogelfrey sings only in German. It’s pure folk, but some of their songs are also heavy and rugged. And though most of their songs have clean vocals, they don’t sound like fucking boy bands as other clean vocal metal bands tend to sound. Plus, they include growls that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere, and this twist makes their songs into sheer metal rollercoaster rides. I also love how they sometimes sound like Melechesh with their quasi-Middle Eastern beats, with distorted guits and double-bass drum beats. Listening to their songs, I wanted to get up and start bellydancing while headbanging at the same time.  Feed that corpse to the birds, bitch. Fucking LOVE Vogelfrey!

Peace, love and Folk Metal for all Metalfolk