Aside From The Bleeding & Bruises…

Yesterday was a day that most highly superstitious (and sometimes more than likely neurotic) people, would steer clear of, watching every step they made that day out of some cautioned fear of bad luck falling upon them…The day I’m talking about here is the dreaded Friday the 13th. Strangely, bad luck didn’t have its constant, gray rain cloud over me. Just everyone else…

First just let me say that I just might have to write a totally separate post in order to get in the entire night of experiences and annoyances. Yes, there were quite a lot of annoyances. I mean, I tried not to let it get to me per say, but it’s kind of hard to ignore something when it’s just around every corner of your local concert venue.

…Instead of going on and on, droning about my night of observations and slightly frustrations with this generation we’re currently living in, I will start on a good note. I’m more happy about the events of the night, especially all the bands I got the chance to see and the two amazing chaps that accompanied me, my boyfriend Timmy and his friend Ben.

Almost immediately after entering the venue, all three of us were pretty much drenched in sweat, thanks to all people already packed into the tight space and the obvious lack of air conditioning. Honestly, it was quite annoying waiting around for bands to play because even though there was a piece of paper that said what bands would be on at what time, none of it was right because we didn’t get into the doors until after 4. The concert was supposed to start at 3. Blame the insanely long line wrapping around a fence outside one of the two entrances of the bar. After some time of just standing around, sweating profusely, or walking around (also sweating profusely), we came across a band that had some promise. The band was called Last Chance To Reason and they were from Augusta, Maine, as mentioned by the lead singer a few times. Speaking of the lead singer…At first glance, I totally knew that he reminded me of some lead from another band, I just had no idea who. I looked at him a bit closer, and realized that he strangely resembled Atreyu’s lead Alex Varkatzas. Now, I’ve never seen Atreyu live before (and no, online really doesn’t count!) but I wouldn’t say that his stage presence is anything like Alex’s. LCTR’s lead is more like cross between Suicide Silence’s Mitch Lucker (on the stage presence front), and Whitechapel’s Phil Bozeman (on the vocal end). Yes, it’s that extreme. After finishing up 4 or maybe 5 epic songs, he mentioned that they would be upstairs in the merch room, across from the air conditioned (yes, air-conditioned!) Rockstar Cleveland room.

The three of us ventured upstairs to check out the band merchandise and to get some much-needed water and A/C. To my astonishment and possible amazement (I don’t care if it’s a word or not!)…The merch room wasn’t the sign of relief we were looking for as far as air-conditioned was concerned. I mean, it’s great that band’s sit there and sell their own merch and what not, but sitting in the heat when you could just go across the way to an air-conditioned room…I have a new appreciation for musicians now. But as I was saying before I went on about the A/C, to my astonishment and possible amazement…Standing, well sitting (if you want to be technical and correct), behind the table of Kittie merch was none other than lead singer of the all-female, Canadian metal band, Morgan Lander. I had, as my boyfriend penned it, a ‘mini aneurysm’ upon meeting and having her sign a shirt I’d purchased. Yes, I purchased a Kittie shirt and Morgan politely signed it for me in the permanent silver Sharpie marker, provided by Ben. She then proceeded to sign the back of Timmy’s Lamb Of God shirt and Ben got a new signature to his cast.  By that time, I was totally and completely all smiles. After all the hysteria had died down a bit, we walked across the room to Last Chance To Reason’s merch table. Manning the post, was the lead singer who, strangely, wasn’t anything like what he was on stage. No lie, he was the nicest guy in the world. Very humble, really talked to us. I mean, really talked. He told us things about their new album and that they would be having a video game come out for XBox 360 soon. Needless to say, Timmy and Ben were kind of speechless when he said that, but it was the coolest thing. Just seeing someone on stage, having that kind of presence and then meet them off stage, and they’re the nicest person in the world.

Feeling oh, so accomplished, we finally decided to make our way across to the air-conditioned Rockstar Cleveland room. Immediately, you could feel the coolness rising up against the heat outside, but for some reason, it took a while for it to hit me. I still felt the same as I did when I walked in. Outrageously hot and tired. Some ice water and physical pieces of ice later, I was feeling better. After sitting in the A/C for a while, we thought we would venture downstairs again to see what bands were playing. We walked right in the middle/almost end of Motionless In White’s set. I’d just started listening to them early this Spring and was happy I got to see them, let alone hear them. Out of nowhere, Timmy and Ben decide to go up and try to crowd surf to (which they succeeded with flying colors). We then proceeded to walk around from the two main parts of the club, making our way back to the main stage to see the acts Impending Doom and a couple seconds of Stick To Your Guns.

Amongst all the chaos, we noticed the drummer of Kittie sitting alone at the bar. The three of us walked up to her, practically convulsing, talked for a while and then got her autograph. It was the coolest thing, just seeing her sit there, with almost, like, no one by her or seeming to notice who she was. Then again, I’m not sure a lot of people knew who Kittie were because when they hit the stage a little while after, everyone, except for a selected few, seemed utterly shocked and surprised by the way they sounded. It was almost like, how could you not know what they sound like? They’re a pretty well-known band. I mean, I myself have been listening to them since my freshmen year. But enough about how almost no one knew Kittie and back to how they sounded…They sounded pretty damn good. I only wished I would’ve paid more attention to the stage presence and not the insane circle mosh pit/hardcore dancing spree that was going on not too far away from me. Yes, there was circle moshing and hardcore dancing, and it was hard not to ignore it. Needless to say, Timmy and Ben went in when there was moshing, not hardcore dancing, and paid for it afterwards. Cutting to the chase, Ben sort of got lost somewhere in the chaos and confusion and ended up with a very, very bloody nose. Timmy ended up walking out of the moshing after the set ended and got punched in the right side of his mouth by some random mosh patron. Me, I just ended up getting pushed a couple times because Ben was getting pushed and was in front of me. That, my possible followers, is called cause and effect. It sucks most of the time.

With all the injuries accounted for, we headed back upstairs to the A/C and ice water. By that time, I was so tired that I really didn’t want to stand anymore and felt horrible that I probably wasn’t radiating the best mood. It seemed like we waited forever. Instead of going downstairs and trudging through the unbearable heat to see Evergreen Terrace, we opted to stay upstairs and listen. We walked from the bar to couches to this little semi-closed off booth until we finally got comfortable. After Evergreen Terrace finished their set (which they were really, really good, by the way), we were almost tempted to go back downstairs and watch Born Of Osiris…I’m happy we didn’t. Born Of Osiris, while they are a good band, it seemed like they took wayyy too long. It honestly didn’t seem like Evergreen took that long. Maybe they did. I honestly wasn’t keeping  track of how long each band was. It was the last two songs or so in their set and we decided to watch from the walk-out balcony that. When I said I’m happy we didn’t go downstairs, I truly meant it. The crowd was insane! There was practically no space between people. They were all bunched up together. It was pretty crazy.

A little while after they finished their set, we finally went back downstairs and went straight to the bar so we wouldn’t get pummeled by all the people that crowded around, waiting for Asking Alexandria. Even though I hadn’t been listening to Alexandria very long (just a couple weeks ago, maybe longer, I heard them while driving in Timmy’s car), I kind of had the expectation that they would be good live. First off, never expect anything. If you like a band, and you go to see them live, expect the unexpected. With all of this said, you can either infer that Asking Alexandria were either amazing or horrible. Honestly, (and I have never said this about a band that I thought would be good before because usually I ended up being blown away) they weren’t as good as I thought they would be. Any and all AA fans can strike me down where I stand now because I don’t care. I’m not saying they were a bad band live, I just thought they would be better than what they were. If I had to choose between the live Asking Alexandria and the CD Asking Alexandria, I would choose the CD Asking Alexandria without hesitation.

Even though we only stayed for a couple AA songs and the boys both got hurt in some shape or form, it was still a fun and eventful night. I still can’t believe that I got my shirt signed by not one, but two members of Kittie, sisters Morgan and Mercedes. That enough made my night. Even if I didn’t see any bands, I think that would definitely would’ve made my night. I’m glad I got to partake in such an awesome concert on a usually rumored ‘not-so-awesome day’. I hope there are more shows like that to come.

There’s something new and exciting waiting…You just need to know where to look.

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A New Appreciation

It seems like it’s been “forever” since I’ve written something music-related. But it honestly hasn’t, it’s just a new year.

I have a new-found respect for music. I have a new-found respect for bands I’d either never heard of, or wasn’t a big fan of before. For some unknown reason, I’m drawn to bands I wasn’t drawn to before, and honestly never thought I’d like. Things definitely changed. For the better.

It’s safe to say that I really like Flyleaf now. I mean, I never fully got into them in 2005 when their self-titled CD came out and everyone seemed to fall in love with them. Strangely, I just didn’t. I’ll admit, I’d fallen in love with “Fully Alive” and “Breathe Today”, but never got into them as much as I would some other band. Call it the rebel in me, but it just wasn’t something I was listening to. Now, that my musical tastes have evolved, along with the help of their new album, I have a massive amount of respect for them. 

I honestly had no idea about their new CD, Memento Mori, until I saw the video for “Again”, and saw the CD on iTunes. When I heard the beginning of the song, I immediately fell in love with it. As it progressed, I fell even deeper in love. Lead singer Lacey Mosley’s voice is just incredible. Her vocals are a lot cleaner and easier to understand. She’s improved on the vocal front, and paired with the rawness of the instruments, it’s just amazing. The whole album is swirling around the need for freedom, while still incorporating their faith and religion in every intricate lyric.

I’m not usually a fan of Christian rock bands, but Flyleaf is definitely an exception. For some reason, I always thought that Christian bands would sing about how their religion was better than every other religion, but that’s not the case with Flyleaf. I guess that’s what I get for assuming. Made an ass out of myself.

Obviously, I’m not as keen on the concept of religion as the next person might be, but music is music, and if it’s good, then it’s good. It honestly shouldn’t matter what type of faith is put into it, it all goes through your earbuds/headphones the same way anyway.

Music is music, and it’s definitely safe to say that I’m a new-found fan of Flyleaf.

The next band on my rather lengthy appreciation list is another female-fronted band, known to the majority of the world as Paramore.

It is extremely safe to say that I love Paramore again. I first fell in love with them when I saw the video for “Pressure”. I honestly had no idea who they were at the time, but the song just grabbed me. I then fully recognized them when I  heard the song “Emergency”. One of my friends bought me the Warped Tour Compilation 2006 CD, and that song was featured on it. I instantly fell victim to Hayley Williams’s one-of-a-kind voice, and the band’s all around sound.

After their debut, All We Know Is Falling was Riot!, and once Riot! came out, it seemed like everyone was listening to them and saying that they were a Paramore fan. Now, I have absolutely nothing wrong with someone who listens to Paramore because I do too, but things like that aggravate me. With the songs “Misery Business” and “Crushcrushcrush” being what everyone was listening to, I stopped listening to Paramore for a while. Call it stupid, or dissing the band, but I needed to be away from what everyone else was currently listening to.

Despite the fact I stopped listening to Paramore for a while, there’s no sure-fire way to ever stop listening forever. Needless to say, it’s kind of impossible not to listen to Paramore, especially since their newest release, Brand New Eyes.

Paramore prove that they’re so much more than the band they were in the beginning. Having dealt with conflicts, and the near break-up of the band, they’re definitely stronger, and the music on Brand New Eyes totally shows it. Hayley’s voice is better than ever, fitting perfectly with the new-found aggression and strength. The videos for “Ignorance” and “Brick By Boring Brick” should be good demonstrations. Proving all the more that Paramore have grown up not only as a band, but as individuals as well.

I congratulate Paramore on finding their brand new eyes and only becoming stronger. Music is music whether you accept it or not.

The next band I have a huge amount of appreciation for is hardcore act, A Skylit Drive.

I had never heard of Skylit until earlier last year. I found them courtesy of iTunes, and figured I’d check them out. Upon my first listen, the element that surprised and grabbed me the most was lead singer Michael “Jag” Jagmin’s voice. His rather high-pitched voice incorporates with drummer Cory La Quay’s screams beautifully. I think if his voice sounded any different, then it wouldn’t be the same. It wouldn’t be A Skylit Drive.

I immediately found myself falling into a trance listening to their EP, She Watched The Sky. All 7 songs are amazing, and their full-length debut, Wires…And The Concept of Breathing, released in 2008, is no exception. Everything about Wires is crushing and brutal, while is managing to be incredibly crafted and beautiful. I find myself listening to “Knights Of The Round”, “Wires…And The Concept Of Breathing”, “I’m Not A Thief, I’m A Treasure Hunter”, and “All It Takes For Your Dreams To Come True” countless times a day.

Their newest release Adelphia, has a very different sound than Wires but it only proves that A Skylit Drive can break out of their genre a little and still create something hard-hitting and original. Jag’s vocals are clearly a lot cleaner and seem to be more present than they were on Sky and Wires. The vocals were obviously always there, but now they seem to be the main focus on the album, rather than Cory’s screams combined with the clean vocals.

Despite the mixed reviews I’ve read about Adelphia, my mind hasn’t changed about the band or the CD. The band is truly original, and Adelphia is genius. Every song is its own entity; no two songs sound the same, making them a stand-out among most bands today. The song “Prelude To A Dream” makes me swoon, and “Those Cannons Could Sink A Ship” and “Eva The Carrier” make me attempt to sing along. Not very good, I might add. The beginning of “Prelude” is just amazing. Jag’s voice is so soft you almost can’t hear what he’s singing, and then the screaming comes to proceed into a damn-good song. The lyrics in “Cannons” and “Eva” are both infectious and you’re kind of entitled to sing along because they’re so catchy.

While I think it was pretty hard to top Wires, it’s safe to say that Adelphia does come close. I love Wires, but I’m beginning to fall in love with Adelphia. Only time will tell which one I end up loving more.

Kudos to A Skylit Drive. Music is music, and I’m happy to say that I’m a fan.

The next band on my pretty lengthy kudos list is Every Time I Die.

I’d more than likely seen them a million times before on TV or something. I just never knew who they were. I remember I’d seen the videos for the songs “Kill The Music” and “The New Black” on FUSE and I thought nothing of it. “The New Black” was featured on the same Warped Tour Compilation 2006 as was Paramore’s “Emergency”, I just don’t think I ever took the time to listen. I figured that they were just like any other band out there. Every song sounded like a carbon copy of itself. Once again, that’s exactly what I get for assuming. Made an ass out of myself yet again.

This new-found liking for Every Time I Die came accompanied with their new CD, New Junk Aesthetic. The first song I’d ever fully listened to by them was “Pretty Dirty”, and that song caught me. With all honesty, despite the fact that I had the song on my iPod and all, I forgot about them once I erased the contains and started from scratch. The song that truly hooked and held me was “We’rewolf”. The overall song itself was unlike what I was used to hearing. The lyrics were twisted into some kind of new perfection, and Keith Buckley’s voice was actually pretty refreshing.

I knew absolutely nothing about New Junk Aesthetic until I’d heard the song “Roman Holiday”, and read an article in the November issue of Revolver. Leave it to Revolver to fill me in on things in the music world I more-than-often miss. In the article, it talked about how the CD had a more rock-and-roll type of sound as oppose to their previous releases.

Their debut EP, The Burial Plot Bidding War, as well as their full-length debut Last Night In Town, had the hardcore sound they became famous for. While the albums that followed, Hot Damn!, Gutter Phenomenon, and The Big Dirty still radiated that hardcore/metalcore sound, they also incorporated a Southern-rock tinged sound in the guitar department, and Keith proved to have a killer singing voice, in addition to his signature screaming. Compared to their other albums, Aesthetic is definitely more rock-and-roll, but that’s not a bad thing at all. It still shows how talented they are as musicians, and that they still have the “hardcore/metalcore” sound people usually associate them with, just with a different kind of intensity.

Regardless of how New Junk Aesthetic sounds, where it be rock-and-roll, hardcore, or a strange combination of both, there’s no doubting that it’s well-crafted, with flawless instruments and Keith’s better-than-ever vocals. There’s also no doubting that it’s just down-right kickass. Every song is well pieced together, where one dims off in brilliance, the other picks up the light not shy of a few seconds after. It’s honestly no surprise that I probably go from “Wanderlust”, “White Smoke”, “Buffalo 666”, and “Goddamn Kids These Days” and back again in a 40 minute class period of gym. Those songs alone are that awesome and badass.

I would like to congratulate Every Time I Die for being kickass, and for once again reminding me that you shouldn’t judge a band before you actually listen to them.

The last but definitely not least band on my finally finished, very lengthy appreciation list is the Danish act Volbeat.

Once again, with all brutal honesty accounted for here, I had no idea that Volbeat was even a band until I saw something about them in the back of one of my many issues of Revolver magazine. I didn’t look back on it until I found myself looking for a new and interesting band to listen to, which wasn’t until a couple months ago. Last October actually. It’s honestly kind of weird saying ‘last’ October because it still feels like 2009, but that’s not correct. It’s 2010. But enough about the fact that it’s a new year, back to what makes Volbeat original and one-of-a-kind. 

Like the majority of new bands I’ve listened to, I had no idea what to expect when it came to Volbeat. I didn’t assume I had with Every Time I Die or Flyleaf, as previously stated. I just listened…and I found myself in almost a whole other niche in time. Everything about their sound resonates the old-school music that came before them, and that’s not a bad thing at all. They’re like a violent blend of Metallica and The Misfits, along with a splash of Johnny Cash and Elvis mixed in. I think that most people aren’t drawn to the old-school sound because nowadays it seems like it’s all about the next big sub-genre.

When I first listened to Volbeat, I was taken aback (in the purest contradiction of those words) by frontman Michael Poulsen’s voice. The deepness of his voice sort of reminded me of the vocals of Type O Negative lead, Peter Steele, even though their vocal styles are no way near the same. Despite the partial coincidence, his voice is the most unique thing I’ve heard in a while. His voice wraps around the crushing drums and heavy guitars perfectly, only in a way that he can. Volbeat wouldn’t be the same kind of band if his vocals were different.  

Their latest release, Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood is just amazing in every way possible. Amazing is a word I use a lot when talking about music, and when I say it’s amazing, it truly is. Everything about it is fresh and original, while still having enough venom and bite to surprise and entice. It’s not your typical CD by a band that’s sporting today’s latest sub-genre, nothing even remotely close…

Most bands today, with the exception of a great few, are afraid to break away from the genre they’re currently in and take a chance. I have an extreme amount of respect for bands/musicians that break the mold, while still managing to stay true to their signature sound. It’s like, their signature sound combined with something new and innovative, to create something new that’s all their own. The bands that refuse to go out of the box, and crush the hell out of that mold, seem like they’re either scared to lose fans or afraid of what the so-called “scene” will think. They’re not living up to their full potential.

…Volbeat isn’t one of those bands. If you thought their brilliant, fresh sound was only on Gangsters & Blood, then you’re wrong. Their debut CD, The Strength/The Sound/The Songs released in 2005, displays the same kind of bone-breaking mix of rockabilly, metal, and punk, giving Volbeat their one-of-a-kind sound. I honestly never thought about what it would sound like, mixing three different types of music that all had similarities, but now I’m happy to say that I know exactly what it sounds like. Strength/Sound/Songs is a 15-song joyride that’s just as explosive, as it is in-your-face. It has the same brutality as Gangsters & Blood, only it’s more gritty and rough around the edges. Their follow-up, 2007’s Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil is no exception to the originality and impressive sound. According to my iPod, I’ve listened to the song “Radio Girl” off Rebel/Devil over 30 times, and something tells me that it’s true. It’s a great song; the whole album is pretty great.

Out of all three releases, Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood is the best. When I first heard “Still Counting”, the first Volbeat song I’d heard…ever, I was in complete shock and awe because of how incredible it sounded. The first thing I heard was the almost Southern sound of the guitar, then the drums came in to coincide with it perfectly. With the assistance of Michael’s branded vocals, the song then totally does a 360 and guitars and drums are leading a full-scale assault on your ears. The title track, “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” and “Back To Prom”, almost remind me of the 1950s’. Just the whole feel and sound of the songs echo back to a time vintage cars and gorgeous pin-up girls. “Hallelujah Goat” and “Wild Rover Of Hell” beckon to the metal sound that came before them, executed in perfect heart-pounding harmony. “Find That Soul” reminds me of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I honestly don’t know why, but the feel of the song reminds me of the part in the movie where Santa is confronted by the Boogieman, and then the song proceeds to play and that’s when you know that Santa isn’t going anywhere. Call me crazy, but that’s what I thought of when I first heard the song. No matter what the song reminds you of, it’s awesome nonetheless. As is all of Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood.

I take my hat of to Volbeat for being the most original thing this way out of Denmark. Music is music, and I’m without a doubt a Volbeat fan.

I’m happy that my musical tastes changed because if they didn’t, I don’t think I’d be listening to the great bands I just expressed my appreciation for. I’m happy it changed for the better.

Music is the safest haven. When the rain falls too hard to think and the snow falls too lightly to hear a whisper, you’ll always have its comfort.

Tear It Right Out Of Your Chest

I’m beginning to think that either there’s something wrong with other people, or there’s something wrong with me. I know I’ve already established how people can be today, but for some unknown reason, this has me thinking, and asking:

Does the music I listen to suck, or are people just ignorant?…

I’ve been reading music reviews lately on iTunes, which is very rare for me. I hardly ever read reviews because I don’t usually think twice about reading what other people have to say about music. Like I’ve said before, I listen to the kind of music I want to, and don’t pay attention to what other people think about what I listen to. For some reason, I’m partially drawn to the bottom of the screen, below the tracks and recommended albums, where the criticizing reviews ominously rest.

Don’t ask me why I started reading reviews because I don’t know why. It first started when I pulled up Aiden’s Knives. My eyes instantly seemed to travel to the bottom of the page, to what people had written. All of them were pretty mixed. Some saying it was a great CD, others saying it was horrible. More people seemed to choose the latter compared to good. In my honest opinion, it is a short CD, but it’s not bad. There are some songs I can do without, but the ones I can’t do without are really good. The release of the album didn’t weaken my liking for the band. I’m still a fan. Sure,  Knives  is different from their past three releases, but it proves that sound doesn’t really matter. It’s still Aiden. That sort of made me think a little bit, then I remembered that everyone has their own opinion and are totally entitled to it.

The next attraction at the iTunes amusement park that I visited just last month was AFI’s newest release, Crash Love. I saw it on iTunes the day it came out and wanted to see what other people were saying about it. I’d heard a lot of mixed reviews about it. Even though I’d already listened to the whole album, I still had the awkward desire to see what other people had thought about it. My eyes again, trailed down to where the reviews were. The reviews, just like with Knives, were mixed. This surprised me. Crash Love  was anticipated for a while, and I didn’t think it would get the reviews it did. Granted, just because something is greatly anticipated doesn’t mean everyone will find it good. Some said it was good, great even, while others didn’t like it, and were begging for the “old” AFI to come back. I guess this is how some people react to change: They either love it or hate it. I personally think Crash Love is pretty good, different from anything they’ve ever done, but still good. It’s still AFI.

I think this is what truly got me thinking and asking. The last attraction at the iTunes amusement park that really, really surprised me, was Lady GaGa’s The Fame. Once again with my brutal honesty, I’m a new fan to Lady GaGa. I’d first seen the video for “Poker Face”, and didn’t watch the whole thing, but then I fell in love when I saw “Just Dance”. I didn’t think I’d like an artist that was so different from what I usually listened to. It’s just feel-good music. Like the two times before, I found myself overly curious to what other people had to say. Let the mixed reviews pour down like the hardest rain. Like the Crash Love and Knives reviews before it, there were a lot of positive reviews, but at the same time, there were an equal number of not-so-positive ones. It seemed to me like most of them were trying to compare her to other musicians before her, which sort of annoyed me, but that’s always bound to happen. People compare bands/musicians to others all the time, and like I said before, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Whether I happen to agree or not.  Needless to say, none of these reviews changed the way I felt about this newly found, infectious music. I’m still a newly born Lady GaGa fan.

Right at that moment, I was asking myself, Does the music I listen to suck, or are people just stupid? Like I’ve said probably a million times over, opinions don’t sway me, especially when it comes to music. I’m just not moved by what people have to say, but reading these reviews on three artists that I listen to, kind of had me thinking…And I finally came up with a pretty obvious, maybe way too obvious answer: The music I listen to doesn’t suck. Sometimes people can say things that lack common sense, but they’re more than welcome to state their opinions because they have every right to. Plain and simple. I had the thought in my head without really knowing why I was thinking it. I’d already had the answer. It just needed to be confirmed. I think it’s better when thoughts aren’t over analyzed.

Tear it right out of your chest. To be loved. To be criticized. Take a bow.

The Intensity Of A Side-Project Or Two

Whether people like it or not, music is ever-changing. Nowadays, it’s not the same as it was when the band(s) first started. Bands are changing. They’re taking risks, taking chances. Experimenting with sounds that are out of their comfort zones.

Two good examples of this, in my opinion, are AFI’s Davey Havok and Jade Puget in the side-project Blaqk Audio, and Aiden’s frontman Wil Francis with his solo project, William Control.

Blaqk Audio’s sound is just amazing. I know I probably use the word ‘amazing’ a lot when I’m talking about music, but this truly is. The synths that were ever-so-present on AFI’s record Decemberunderground, take center stage on Blaqk’s debut CexCells, an electronic-rock tour de force. Despite the fact that the music is in a totally different direction than what AFI fans are used to, the lyrics are still incredible. The lyrics that are wrapped around every song aren’t the AFI poetry one would usually look to; they’re so much more than that. It’s a side of Havok and Puget that you’ve never seen until now.

Once again, I’ll be totally honest, I didn’t know about Blaqk Audio until I read the article in October’s issue of Revolver. The same article that made me excited for Crash Love. I’d heard the song “Stiff Kittens” once, but honestly never knew who it was. After listening to all of CexCells, I fell in love. My favorites are “Stiff Kittens”, “Bitter For Sweet”, “Cities Of Night”, “Where Would You Like Them Left?”, and “The Love Letter”. I know that I also say that I fall in love when I listen to music a lot, too, and it’s true. There’s a possibility that I’d been potentially heartbroken if I didn’t have music.I think a little piece of everyone would kind of not be there. Music fills a void, whether you know it or not.

JadeListening to Blaqk Audio, then going back and listening to AFI, or going the other way around, it’s just crazy to think that some musicians are multi-talented. Davey’s vocals sound even more amazing than usual, and Jade shows that he is indeed talented in the synth department. One minute, Davey’s voice can go from seductively deep to high-pitched, which became his trademark in AFI, vocals only he himself can pull off. Yes, I know that most musicians are probably multi-talented, but not many musicians can pull off going into a completely different genre and making something beautiful. It takes some talent to make awesome music in one genre, go off into another for a little bit, and emerge with something unique and refreshing. In my opinion, Davey and Jade have that kind of talent. It takes guts to take risks, especially in music, and they’re not afraid to do just that.

It seems like most people are quick to compare Wil Francis’s solo project, William Control, to Blaqk Audio without hesitation. While they may be similar in some ways, they’re not at all the same. Sure, there might be some inspiration with the synths and electronica-like beats, but his debut, Hate Culture, has something about it that’s more brutal and intense.

William ControlThe lyrics Aiden are famous for are taken on by a whole new narrative. Granted, it’s still Francis singing, but it seems like an entire new entity. Every song just seems to be enveloped in contempt, violence, and suggestiveness, while still dripping with trademark raw, severe emotion. It’s the Aiden frontman in a whole new light, one that people may love or hate.

I had no idea about William Control until I read an article about Aiden and their newest release Knives, in the August issue of Revolver. In the beginning of the article, it’d mentioned what it was like for the frontman to record vocals for Hate Culture, and how it compared to recording them for Knives. When listening to the vocals on Knives and then hearing Francis’s voice on Hate Culture, it’s pretty crystal clear that his voice sounds different. Nothing in the extreme category, but noticeably having a deeper edge. An edge that’s all his own, an edge he definitely uses to his advantage.

For me, it didn’t take very long to like, and eventually (for the millionth time!) fall in love with William Control. I’d first seen the video for “Beautiful Loser” on a link from Aiden’s website, and found myself surprised and speechless. In a good way. After listening to all of that Hate Culture had to offer, I found myself developing favorites. Among these are, “Beautiful Loser”, “Razor’s Edge”, “Cemetery”, Strangers” and “Tranquilize”.

Like Davey Havok and Jade Puget in Blaqk Audio, Wil Francis is definitely multi-talented. Anyone who can go from being in a band that takes chances, potentially loses fans because of it, and then goes into a different genre than what they’re used to, while being able to make it all their own is multi-talented in my book. It also doesn’t hurt that he can play a mean guitar. That can never hurt.

It takes a hell of a lot of guts and confidence to take risks and be different. Blaqk Audio and William Control do exactly that.

 

 

“You’ve Made Me Perfect”

Yes, I know a couple weeks ago I said that Suicide Silence was my favorite band at the moment, but I’ve found myself going back to a band that’s been around longer and comes from a totally different genre. A band that I just love. The band that is the center of my musical obsession right now is AFI.

I was reading an article in the October issue of Revolver magazine about AFI’s new album, their 8th studio album, Crash Love, which is said to come out on September 29th…I’ll be honest: I’m not a die-hard AFI fan. When their full-length debut, Answer That And Stay Fashionable came out  in 1995, I was only 4. So I can’t say I’m a dedicated, die-hard fan, but I can say that I’ve been a fan since 2003.

I remember I was watching FUSE and I saw the video for “Girl’s Not Grey” for the very first time. My mom was in the room with me, and she had to take a double take, looking at lead singer Davey Havok, asking me, “Is that a man or a women?” Looking back on that day now, I smile and laugh, because I was the one that turned her kinda into an AFI fan. Well, not of their old-school stuff, because I honestly don’t think she’s ever heard it, but definitely of the entire Sing The Sorrow album.   

I didn’t just make my mom a fan of Sing The Sorrow, though. It had a surprising effect on the kids at my new school at the time, most who became my friends. Like, none of them heard of AFI. I had a bunch of buttons and I wore a shirt one day, so they started to get curious about my musical preferences, I guess. Not long after, my one friend told me he was blaring it through the speakers in his dad’s car. That made me smile. It’s just amazing how music can bring people together.

After awhile I thought I’d dig deeper into their older albums. This thought entered my mind after I received their 2000 album, The Art Of Drowning for Christmas a year later. I hadn’t listened to the whole thing yet, so I figured I would, and I’m really happy I did. Their sound was more fast-paced and more energetic. Now don’t get me wrong, Sing The Sorrow is great, but something about Drowning caught me, and held me. Seeing the videos for “Leaving Song, Pt. 2” and “Silver And Cold”,  I sort of  fell in love again with the type of sound Sorrow brought, but that didn’t lessen the hold their older material had what-so-ever. I decided to dig even deeper, and I’m, once again, really happy I did.

Out of all their old albums, I personally like Answer That And Stay Fashionable, Black Sails In The Sunset, All Hallow’s EP (yes, it’s an EP, but it’s still great!) and The Art Of Drowning.

The first time I saw the video for “Miss Murder”, I didn’t know what to think. Their sound was new and different, and it honestly took me awhile to get used to it. Yes, I know how bands usually change their sound to keep up with times and sort of branch away from everything that sounds the same, and I totally respect that. It takes alot of guts to change your sound, knowing that fans will either accept or deny it. AFI did one hell of a job.

After listening to the song a couple times, I fell in love with it. I actually have “Love Like Winter”, “Kill Caustic”, and “Affliction” on my iPod. Great songs. Most people would probably say that “It’s not the same AFI” or “What the hell is this?”. I think that’s just close-mindedness at its best. Yes, the sound of, well, Decemberunderground is different but it’s still the same four guys, doing what they love. The only thing that changed is the sound, and let’s face it, who wants every album by a band they really like or maybe even love, to be just a regurgitated version of itself? I think that Underground is a good album. I mean, yeah, it doesn’t sport the same exact intensity as their previous work, but it has an intensity all its own. Any kind of intensity is good. No matter how extreme or minuscule, it doesn’t matter. It’s still the same band.

…From what I read about Crash Love, it’s going to be more of a “guitar record”. Which means no synths or anything like that. I guess that means nothing like Decemberunderground or any other of their records for that matter. I have a feeling it’s going to be something totally different than anything else out there, as Underground was, but with alot more intensity than Underground. No matter what the sound, it’s still AFI. I’m really excited about Crash Love. I can’t wait til September 29th! 😉

Look what you’ve done to me now, you’ve made me perfect.” “The Lost Souls” – AFI

The beauty of the local ‘undergound’ music scene

It’s so loud that you can’t even hear yourself think. So loud that when you walk outside to escape the heat, it’s even harder to hear yourself talk or anyone else talk. Your feet become freakin’ numb from standing so long. The drums seemed to literally pound so loud that it can lead to a pretty intense headache…Yes, it’s possible. Welcome to the local ‘underground’ music scene.

Last night was the first time I’d seen my other best friend, Melodie and her boyfriend Tyler, in over a month. The last time I saw both of them was when we hung out on the 4th of July at one of Tyler’s concerts. Tyler’s concerts, meaning his band DoomKaiser. Don’t ask where the name came from because I have no idea. This was my first time seeing them. I missed them when I went on before. 😦 And I thought I’d miss them last night, but luckily that  wasn’t the case.

I got at the show at around 7:40 and DoomKaiser wasn’t said to go on until 10:30…Knowing the local scene, bands usually NEVER go on when they’re expected to. I almost got hit by a car running across the street, which was pretty crazy ’cause I usually wait for the cars, sometimes a little too long, but I always wait. Fortunately, I didn’t get hit or else I’m not sure I’d be writing this entry.

The concert venue itself seemed kind of cramped, considering the fact that there were alot of people there. A long bar dominated the whole right side, a good sized stage was to the left, and beyond the stage were tiny tables & chairs. The wall across from the bar, by the stage, was all mirrors. I thought that was kind of odd. After I walked by the stage, I felt total  déjà vu. I noticed it was one of the venues I’d been at almost 6 years ago, when I would frequently see random local bands. Strange, but totally cool.

The first band I didn’t know the name of. All I knew was that there were two guys from school in the band, which was cool. I didn’t think I’d see so many people from school all bunched up together in one place, other than school.  The lead singer, one of the guys from school, kinda looked to me like Maroon 5 lead singer, Adam Levine. Almost same hair and eyes. Minus the lip piercing. They were ok. I didn’t really hear all their set, so I couldn’t totally determine whether I liked them or not. Plus, I was either going outside to escape the insane heat inside or following Melodie, following Tyler.

The second band changed their name again, so I wasn’t really sure what they were called. I wasn’t really following anyway. A few of the members were people from school, yet again, people who I’d usually see around. I’d heard about how good they were from somewhere down the line and I’m not sure whether I agree or disagree. I mean they were good, but they were things I didn’t like. I wasn’t a big fan of the vocals. They reminded me of the lead singer of Killswitch Engage, Howard Jones. There’s nothing wrong with Killswitch. I used to listen to them, but it’s just something I kinda grew out of, found other bands I like alot more. I think the vocals was the only thing I didn’t thing I wasn’t jumping up and down about. I thought they’d be alot heavier and more raw.  The guitars and drums were really good, though.  

The third band I didn’t listen to. It was getting outrageously hot inside and we didn’t really feel like listening to them. It seemed like I was standing outside forever with Mel. Tyler was running around, a million things going through his head, trying to sort everything else. He kept asking us to follow him, then he’d turn around and kinda desert us. Can’t blame him, though. Stress. Frustration. Pretty chaotic. He was able to keep his cool, which was good. 😉

The fourth band was awesome! 13 Lucky Bullets and they’re native to Michigan, not that far from my native Ohio. Mel told me they played with Tyler’s band before, but obviously I hadn’t seen them yet. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, though. The lead singer had the coolest hair! It was shoulder-length, light brown and curly. That made me smile. 🙂 The drummer had the same curly hair, just shorter. They’re sound wasn’t like your typical heavy metal band. They had someone on keyboard, which I thought was pretty cool. I’d honestly never seen a heavy band having a keyboard at their shows. One minute the lead singer, whose name is Vince (discovered that this morning on their Myspace page. Still extremely overrated, but it’s a great resource for local music!), went from regular singing, very good singing, to blood-curdling screams and growls. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. I’m not sure how to really describe their music. In my opinion, it’s really good. Granted, the next person down the line could think they’re not so good. It’s all about what you like.

The one or two bands after 13 Lucky Bullets, I didn’t pay attention to. I was developing a headache and needed to find sanctuary from the heat again. Plus, Tyler was running around, stressing again, so Mel and I followed him yet again. 😉 It was already past 11 and it started to feel like it. Tyler’s band was supposed to go on at 10:30, but no sir or madam that did not happen. Exactly an hour later, DoomKaiser hit the stage and yes sir or madam it was worth the nearly 5 hour wait. Everything about them was awesome! The drums, guitars, bass, vocals…All just heavy and raw, totally exceeding any expectations I had. I was thinking about leaving earlier because I didn’t feel that great, but I’m happy I eventually felt better and stayed. It was definitely worth the wait! I’m hoping to see them perform at another show soon! 🙂

Music is a voice when you’re too scared or too much of a coward to use your own.

“Burn It Down, Set Yourself Free”

My new favorite band, as of this moment in time, is the heavy metal band Suicide Silence. Most reviews I’ve read on their newest CD, “No Time To Bleed”, categorizes them as ‘deathcore’, which I suppose is a sub-genre of death metal and hardcore. I’m really starting to hate sub-genres. They’re just really annoying. Can’t people just listen to bands and enjoy them for their music? Instead of criticizing them and putting them in a certain genre. I’ve learned to totally not even pay attention to the genre. If I like a band because of their music, then dammit I’m going to listen to them, despite what people say. If I like something, I’m not even gonna listen to what people have to say. Opinions often don’t sway me.

In my opinion, they’re a really good band. Their sound is different from other metal bands, or ‘deathcore’ bands, as some people with no sense would say. Their sound is heavy, brutal, and totally in your face, which I happen to really enjoy when it comes to the whole metal genre. And yes, I know that most people would say that ALL metal bands are “heavy, brutal, and in totally in your face”, but it seems like ALL metal bands have different ways of accomplishing that said goal. Whether it’s a good accomplishment or not, it’s all up to who’s listening.

I think that lead singer, Mitch Lucker’s voice is amazing! One minute his voice can go from a deep, low growl to a partially high-pitched (not too high-pitched!) onslaught on your ears. XD Everything about them is awesome!

With a name like Suicide Silence, I was kind of unsure at first about what they would sound like. There are some bands that have relatively interesting names, but their music isn’t that good…

Last summer, most of my friends (well, pretty much all of them) and I were greeted with tragedy a week before school. One of my best friends of six years had committed suicide. When something like that happens, you kind of wanna steer away from anything with the name/word ‘suicide’ in because, honestly, it’s really depressing.

For some reason, though, I didn’t steer away from Suicide Silence. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s music and let’s face it, how could you steer away music? How can you just ignore something that helps you get through your day? You can’t. No matter what the name, it’s just not possible. I’m happy to say that despite what happened almost a year ago, with my friend (I love you, man!) that hasn’t stopped me from choosing what’s right, what’s wrong and singling out bands just because of their names.

Sometimes the worst tragedies can make way for the brightest beginnings and new experiences.

“Burn it down, set yourself free.” “Smoke” – Suicide SilenceSuicide Silence