Dapper Dan Man…

April 2, 2009

White Darkness – “Nothing” review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 4:45 PM
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If there is one thing this project does very well, it is the ability to inject you with a sense of overwhelming unease. From the static and feedback heavy opening and onwards, Nothing is, to say the least, a very ominous and eerie sounding album.

Being largely instrumental, the pounding drums, monotonous electronics, and the mellow and melancholy piano are blended expertly and invoke a feeling of fright and dread throughout – the entire album would have been a perfect fit as a soundtrack to a psychological thriller about a serial killer. Imagine a psychopath stalking somebody through a dark, damp alleyway as the haunting melodies and the near-silence midway through, save for some pastoral guitar plucking, are the sound effects.

Nothing would have sounded even better if the calm, introspective melodies had been given more space to roam over the harsh noise, but that’s just a minor gripe. This is still a record that grabs and manages to leave its imprint- an emotional blend of serene beauty and ugliness that will have you looking over your shoulder while walking down a deserted street.

Published yesterday on StonerRock.com. Read it on the site and check out some other excellent reviews and features.

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March 24, 2009

Music Review – Exciter – O.T.T

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 2:24 PM
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As seen on Blogcritics – Published March 24, 2009

Thrash metal isn’t the only classic metal genre that has experienced a massive resurgence in the last few years. Melodic but heavy ’80s old school speed and traditional heavy metal and its own brand of young upstarts have not gone unnoticed either: tight denim and vests covered in one of the holiest of metal manifests, the patch, are all over the place at the moment.

The revival of thrash has made it stronger and more powerful than ever, so now it is time for trad metal to gain its credibility again. Bands like Canada’s Cauldron or Sweden’s Wolf, Enforcer and Bullet are flying the flag for their more melodic inspirations and it’s as good a time as any to have some news from grizzly old troopers like Exciter to remind everybody where the young ones got it from.

I’ll be completely honest and say that “Exciter” or O.T.T as this album is also known, is in no way a perfect re-release of an ’80s heavy metal recording; it was already done about a decade ago and the same package is pretty much available this time too. The old, dusty and muffled production is still intact so not much has been done to boost the sound of it. The volume is, quite frankly, annoyingly low throughout and all the qualities don’t shine through, but there is no need to be completely negative about this.

The songs are top notch heavy metal and it is certainly a positive occurrence that one of the classics of the genre is getting a revival. O.T.T is definitely not one-dimensional; there are speedy songs like opener “Scream Bloody Murder,” which is heavy on adrenalin and unsurprisingly brings to mind Judas Priest’s finest guitar shredding. You get slow, groovy numbers such as “O.T.T” and the chugging “Enemy Lines” with their rolling tempos and anthemic songs like “I Wanna be King” where the singer gets to flex his vocal prowess. The hallmarks of a good metal album are all there.

One slight criticism is directed at the length of the songs. A few of them should be at least one minute shorter because that way this disc would have delivered more of a lasting punch. This, along with the fact that the tame production wasn’t injected with some more juice, brings the impact down.

Don’t ignore O.T.T based on these minor faults though. It is still way north in the quality stakes than a lot of metal currently out there.

March 4, 2009

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – Gun EP Review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 5:57 PM
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This obscurely named Texas trio is one of those rock bands that has found itself lumped in with the not-insignificant number of groups with the word “post” as a prefix used to explain their sound. In other words, they play instrumental songs heavy on ambience and emotion and with this six-song EP, they show potential and possibilities of musical growth.

The slight difference with The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is that they don’t delve into the light instrumental sound of bands like Mogwai or The Red Sparowes but instead rely on a more heavy and sludge-based sound, with melancholy guitar effects that broaden the sound and strengthen the impact of their music. The first “proper” song – opener “Equalizer Drone” is two minutes of feedback noise – has a subtle background effect that keeps going until the end and creates an even tenser atmosphere.

The guitar playing is what makes the biggest contribution to their amorphous, airy sound – it’s thick like broad strokes of a brush on canvas for the majority of time. It’s relaxing music as it stands, but I would have preferred a bit more of the pastoral, calm guitar plucking like at the end of second song “Gifts”. This is only a minor disturbance though and Gun is a strong debut release.

With their propensity towards a darker, sludgier sound, they have a start and now they just need to keep evolving their sound and avoid getting stuck in the “post” category.

Review now up on StonerRock.com. Read it here.I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for instrumental music of this kind so it wasn’t hard to enjoy this album. I look forward to hearing more from these guys and hopefully it will keep expanding.

February 16, 2009

Book Review: 50/50 – Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance by Dean Karnazes (with Matt Fitzgerald)

Filed under: books,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 12:46 PM
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Men’s Fitness has already, in previous articles, proclaimed the author to be the fittest man alive. You might start thinking in the same vein even before you’ve read the whole title of his book, 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance. Indeed, it is enough to hear about his exploits as a regular participant in ultra marathons in every single climate on several continents to realise that Dean Karnazes is a man whose interest in running goes far beyond just regular fitness. He deals in human stamina at its most extreme form.

Most of us who have an interest in running as a form of exercise and way of improving our health will know how hobbled and worn out one can feel after a very long run. Karnazes, on the other hand, decides to challenge himself by attempting to run, as expressed, 50 consecutive marathons, in 50 cities, in 50 different states. In this book he chronicles his entire project, from birth of the idea to its completion.

The company that sponsors him decides to make the project much larger in scope which turns Karnazes’s idea into a national interest but with this comes responsibility and, lest we forget, problems. It goes without saying that completing 50 official marathon runs requires a great deal of logistical planning.

50/50 and its clear prose style takes us through the entire eventful journey, marathon by marathon, and it makes for a very compelling read. Interest by the public to meet the man undertaking this project is larger than expected and after some initial problems with the post-marathon events being far too chaotic, things start to run a bit smoother.

One gets to like Dean Karnazes more and more for each chapter of his book. He doesn’t complain about the problems he encounters throughout, but merely chronicles them and it’s hard to find faults with a guy who has his own non-profit organisation that encourages kids to become physically active and takes time out after a gruelling run to interact with fans.

With 50/50 he tries to show the average runner how to be a better athlete and recover more quickly but he also wants to encourage other people to start running. This is where the book’s appeal lies – you don’t have to be a runner to like it. He isn’t trying to turn most people into super-endurance athletes, but fitness is important to Karnazes and he just hopes that people will try to become more active after reading 50/50.

In fact, you are more likely to get something out of the reading experience if you want to get started but not sure where to begin and are looking for some inspiration. The book is chock full of practical advice and training regimens for the beginner and tips on how to try and motivate your self.

50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance is a compelling enough read to succeed in maybe inspiring some people. I won’t give away too much of the ending but the aftermath of Dean’s voyage has him doing something on a whim that shows that he isn’t like most athletes.

A book review published on Blogcritics. A good, interesting read about a different kind of athlete. I believe this book will inspire people to get more active- maybe not to the same extent as the subject of the book- and to be healthier.
Read it on Blogcritics here.  Dean Karnazes’s personal site is here.

Get reading.

The Devil Rides Out – Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3 review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 12:37 PM
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Being named after an occult novel and a 60’s horror film one would expect this lot to produce some raucous sounds, and that is what the Perth, Australia collective offers.

What they have done here is released three EP installments, with six songs on each, and listening to them in chronological order, you start to view it as a chronicle of a band’s development. Not so much in terms of different music peering through on the recordings, but of subtle nuances like song writing, pacing, and production values that improve from the first to the last album. The music is soulful and blues-colored rock ’n’ roll that would fit quite nicely as a soundtrack to a biker movie with hairy reprobates swigging bourbon and riding choppers in between sessions of vandalism.

The Devil Rides Out is heavily 70’s influenced, as is expected, but the group owes more to the driving riffage and blues rhythms of yore than anything sludgy, slow, and doomy. Imagine a band that is the sum of ZZ Top, AC/DC, Led Zep, Miller High Life, sunshine, sideburns, and convertibles and you will come pretty close to physically defining The Devil Rides Out. A modern contemporary band like Clutch minus the jazz noodling can also be heard here, particularly in the vocal performance which on a few occasions brings to mind Neill Fallon’s more throaty wails. Vocalist Joey K’s singing is quite impressive throughout, as his voice is deep, rich and expressive.

Of the three recordings, Volume II is the most blues-rich EP, where the simple and choppy riffs and slower songs are at the forefront. With the third and final installment, you hear the band at its most comfortable. The slow blues is still there, but the focus lies more on the faster, high-octane tunes. It also benefits from a far better production sound than on the previous two mini-albums.

As is probably clear by now, the expectation should not be aimed at hearing originality here, but if you, like me, have a fondness for this kind of music then all three sessions by The Devil Rides Out will provide satisfaction.

I’m back after a short hiatus due to a busy work schedule- This review was published on StonerRock.com

Click here to read it on the site and here for the band’s Myspace page.

January 28, 2009

Alix – Good 1 record review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 5:42 PM
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I got a short, snappy review of a new band and their latest album. It’s an Italian rock band called Alix.

Check it out on Stonerrock.com.

December 10, 2008

Our Roots Our Pride – A History of Italian straight edge hardcore

Filed under: Music,punk,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 11:49 AM
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Back after a holiday to post a link to a new review I wrote, that was published on Scenepointblank.

It’s a compilation album with six Italian straight edge hardcore bands and the music dates back to the period between 1990 – 1995. 32 songs on the album and some pretty decent bands. I do love it when I get to discover bands from the music scenes in other countries.

Read the review here. If you’re interested after that, go to the record label’s Myspace page.

Enjoy.

November 25, 2008

Music review – Darkthrone – Dark Thrones and Black Flags

Filed under: Black metal,Music,punk,Review,Thrash,Writing — gazzabazza @ 5:53 PM
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New review published on Blogcritics today. It’s for the latest Darkthrone record which is amazing. The review is a bit hefty at about 600 words so I’ll just post the direct link insted.

Read it here.

If you get a chance to buy the album then definitely look through the booklet thoroughly. Some of the pictures are great and by that I mostly mean the wonderful scenery. Scandinavia at its most beautiful.

November 20, 2008

Goodbye Etc. – E.P. review

Filed under: Goodbye Etc.,Music,punk,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 5:33 PM
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I reviewed a new mini album by a band from Philly, called Goodbye Etc. It’s up on Jerseybeat, so go and read it pigg fokkerzz.

Pop-punk that is pretty catchy and it’s not that bad, even though I am not usually a fan of that stuff. There’s too much of it and most of the bands sound the same but Goodbye Etc. are just a bit different. Check it out, and here is their MySpace page.

November 17, 2008

Music Review: The Bronx – The Bronx (III)

Filed under: Music,punk,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 5:30 PM
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Written by Mirza Gazic
Published November 06, 2008

The Bronx have on this their third full length continued with the more melodic approach to their energetic and soulful punk rock. It does sound a tad different than what I remember from their debut album. That one – also self titled (these guys don’t waste more time than necessary on album titles) – came out in 2003 and showcased a thrilling punk band that brought to mind the classic 80s bands from their home town of Los Angeles. The follow up delivered music that wasn’t necessarily mellower but definitely more rock in its approach. Now that has been taken further and today The Bronx show that they excel in bringing forth some truly swaggering rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s still punk in tone and in the energy that shines through, but the influences from classic rock and a smidgen of blues gives more edge to the song writing. The opening trio of songs are as good as anything I’ve heard recently and some of the riffage sound like a speeded up version of AC/DC. They’re gutsy and visceral and immediately raise the pulse which is what a good rock record always should do.

Opener “Knifeman” starts of slow in pace but rich in groove and its staccato riffing and thumping rhythm combine into a whole that will undeniably be a live favourite in the future. With the following songs, and especially “Inveigh” and “Past lives” you are struck with how anthemic these songs are. This is not meant in a cheesy singalong way but merely to illustrate how they instantly stick in your mind. This is not an easy thing to do when trying to maintain a level of aggression at the same time but The Bronx manage it, seemingly without much effort.

Some kudos also has to be given to the singer Matt D. He has a great voice for this kind of raw style of music. Raspy but still soulful, it makes you think that the songs would not have worked as well with somebody else at the helm.

This is one of those records that appeals to our most impulsive emotions; Every time I listen to it I am overcome with the urge to jump around with a beer in hand and scream the lyrics. The Bronx (III) is a record that is more; more rock, more melody, more blues and energy, more of everything. Just the way I like it.

This is for those of us who sorely miss New Bomb Turks.

A bit late but better that than never. This was published last week but I’ve been on holiday at home in Sweden and didn’t feel like messing around with a blog. I preferred to hang out with friends and family.
Anyway, go to the review on Blogcritics, read it there and check out some other good stuff on the site.

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