Dapper Dan Man…

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.

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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.

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.

November 3, 2008

Alex Austin – The red album of Asbury Park

Filed under: Asbury Park,books,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 3:19 PM
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Written by Mirza Gazic
Published October 31, 2008

There should be more books about music. Not more biographies of any kind but novels where the main character has that desperate love for music to the extent that it actually consumes his or her life. More books where the music is an intrinsic part of the plot simply because the person it is about cannot live without it. High Fidelity is one of them, even though it is much more humorous in tone than Austin’s second novel about the hard life on the Jersey shore.

The Red Album of Asbury Park is also one of those novels. Alex Austin’s sequel to debut The perfume factory may have many more happenings in its intricate plot but everything that our narrator and untimely hero, Sam Nesbitt gets himself into is only because he has one goal in life; to start a band and become famous.

Four years have passed since the previous novel ended and Sam returns home after a stint in the navy and is on his way to see his mother, but doesn’t know her new address. After an encounter with a cute girl on the train and a bizarre accident, he finds himself wondering around in the cold.

A murder mystery unfolds that night, and over the span of the novel it turns out to have a much bigger part in Sam’s story than he ever would have expected.

The beginning chapters of the book take you through these events, as Sam tries to absorb these occurrences while being romantically involved with two women and trying to nurture his dream of becoming a rock star.

Sam is not just a gifted musician but also a deep thinker and the pages are filled with his philosophical ruminations. It is truly wonderful to read about a character that burns so undeniably for something. His passion for music, to be somebody in a town of nobodies is infectious.

Austin has a knack of putting you right in the location. While reading The Red Album of Asbury Park, you can picture everything about the place as vividly as if you were actually there, feeling the strong wind coming in from the shore or hanging out in the then vibrant music clubs. He also shows an eye for detail and some very skillful plotting; every event that occurs will unfold and every character that crosses his path will turn out have an important part of the story. The best thing about the novel, however, must be Austin’s ear for very realistic and believable-sounding dialogue. It truly flows well and makes me think that he must have had a lot of fun while writing those parts, and it sometimes brings to mind Charles Bukowski at his deadpan best.

The Red Album of Asbury Park is a very gripping and thoughtful book; it is melancholy and sad at times but also brings a lot of hope with it. You are highly recommended to read it.

New book review up now on Blogcritics. A good novel about music in the late 60’s. It took a while to get this up and running on the site. I actually had a review already written and ready for publication a month ago but the author emailed me and said that he was revising the novel. He sent me the new version, which was an improvement and I finally got it up on the site. Read the book, it is very good and takes place somewhere that not many books that I have read take place which I found refreshing and also a bit educational. A lot of research seems to have gone into this. Here’s the link to the review on Blogcritics.

October 23, 2008

Waco Fuck – Record review

Waco Fuck

Paranoia is Total Awareness

Anger is a gift, at least when making music. Some really manic but great recordings have been borne out of huge amounts of frustration and anger. Waco Fuck are one seriously angry sounding band. Spend enough time listening to this and you will realize just how much. The album is called Paranoia is Total Awareness and the record label is some small obscurity called Life’s a Rape. It doesn’t get more disillusioned and furious at the state of the world than this piece of plastic.

Paranoia is Total Awareness consists of twenty-three songs, one full-length album put together with their Slow Decay and No Child Left Behind EP’s from 2006 and 2004 respectively.

The music here is an amalgamation of classic grindcore perfected by stalwarts like Napalm Death and Siege along with destructive old school 80’s hardcore in the vein of Negative Approach and Infest to really let the extremity and fury shine through. To top everything of, Waco Fuck are not averse to throwing in some thrash metal bits that are just tangible enough but also subtle enough not to take over from the main focus of their music. Listen to the breakdown and the guitar shredding in “Narcotic Fuckup” for proof.

Strange as it may sound when this kind of music is described, it is a varied album. It is at least varied enough to keep your attention, which is a vital attribute when you have just unleashed a hardcore album consisting of more than twenty songs, especially since many hardcore combos tend to fall on the listener losing interest halfway. I can sincerely say that in the case of this collection, it did not have a detrimental effect. There is enough to keep my interest going all the way.

Many songs do deal completely in grind or power violence, being full of hyper speed drumming and shrieking vocals but some have slow breakdowns or are more based on a beat that really puts the East Coast influence on display. All of them absolutely destroy.

This is a record that completely fills you with energy. These guys may live this but for us working stiffs it’s enough to hear the violent assault of “Mob Mentality” or “Eulogy” and fantasize about being subversive and protesting and it certainly does a sufficient job in getting the heart jumping.

Buy it and get paranoid.

This is a review that I sent over late last week, to Scenepointblank.

I believe that it was posted on the site yesterday but I was too busy to write a blog post and link to it. I’d never heard of these guys before and to be honest still don’t know much more. They have a Myspace page but it’s not exactly stacked with information, they don’t have a we site and their record label is so small that there is no web site to it either. The music, however is quite fantastic. I love hardcore and punk and these guys play that but mix it up with some grindcore which we all know is descendant from punk anyway. East coast hardcore influences like Battalion of saints, Infest and a bit of classic Siege in the mix makes this a great release. I really wish I could catch Waco Fuck live but, living in the UK and these guys being virtually unknow means that I’ll probably have to wait a considerable amount of time. Maybe next time I visit the Us.

In the meantime, go to Scenepointblank to read the review.

October 16, 2008

Woven Hand – Ten Stones

Here is a theory that may be disregarded but that seems more plausible the more time is spent thinking about it; Truly good artists, musicians and bands can be recognised by how many people and other artists, from completely opposite spheres of music are their firmest admirer. Truly good artists span genres and can gain followings from the most unexpected of places. This theory came from the following facts: David Eugene Edwards plays dark but mellow rock with distinct folk and classic American overtones and gothic tendencies, is a deeply devout Christian which comes through in his lyrics, among many other places. Yet I have heard of so many rockers and metal lovers, read a few record collector pieces in extreme metal magazines, where his bands have been mentioned, with the fondest of love, by black and death metal musicians with a south-of-heaven type of approach to religion.

This can make you believe that Wovenhand are something special before you have even heard the music. Luckily, upon hearing any of the albums you will find the music very captivating. Edward’s voice also adds emotion. It is, at the same time husky but trembling which makes the music sound even more dark and poignant.

“The beautiful axe” starts of very slow burning before going into more heavy rock territory with pounding drums and an a chorus that even verges on the anthemic. It is a more straight forward rock song and it isn’t until the second track, “Horsetail” that Wovenhand’s folk and traditional influences make themselves known. The stark and bleak lyrical imagery is, on the other hand, present throughout.

Ten Stones is an affecting listen. Listen with the utmost concentration you will almost see a film playing from inside your eyelids. It’s a film where a man sits alone in a dark room, an empty gaze vivid on his face, as he tries to figure out how his life went so horribly wrong. This image is at its strongest point during the heart-rending “Cohawkin Road” and “Iron feather”.

It isn’t an intention to make this sound like a thoroughly depressing experience because it isn’t and Ten Stones certainly does not lack variation. The heavy stomp and rhythm of “White Knuckle Grip” will get pulses raised and suggests that, along with the lounge-like bossanova of “Quiet Night of Quiet Stars” there is a lightness and sense of fun in this band.

No matter what style is purveyed on Ten Stones one thing is always certain; the power of the songs. This is a truly great album. There are only a few months left of the year, before that annual list of the best albums is compiled but here is one recording that will at least make it to the top five.

This was published yesterday on Blogcritics. The album is absolutely amazing, as is probably quite obvious from the review. Check it out on the site and by all means read the comment below. The guy mentions that just because you play extreme metal then it doesn’t mean that you can’t be influenced by artists from vastly different genres, which of course was my point as well. Maybe it isn’t clear enough in the actual review but I suppose that it’s such a normal point of view that it doesn’t need to be mentioned. Hell, I’m in all ways mostly a fan of extreme metal and hardcore yet I find the utmost satisfaction in calm and mellow music and some of my favourite artists play music that is as far away from black/ death metal as you can get.

My point was that many openly satanic musicians are very candidly expressing their admiration for David Eugene Edwards and his bands and he is deeply religious. This may not be so strange to everyone (I find the cultural spanning highly encouraging) but most of the black metal musicians are not exactly known to have an open mind about these things. In hindsight maybe I expressed my self clumsily in the review and it doesn’t come across very clear but it’ll have to be this way for now.

Still and mesmerizing record, mind you.

October 9, 2008

New review, new site to write for

Filed under: Music,Review,Thrash,Writing — gazzabazza @ 2:39 PM
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I have just started writing for a new site; Jersey Beat Magazine. It’s an American site, based in New Jersey, as you already might have guessed, brilliant citizens that you all are.

Anyway, it’s a pretty cool website and it definitely deserves to be checked out. There is some good reading to be done and great bands to discover there. My first review published there is of the new Toxic Holocaust album “An overdose of death” which was rip-roaringly brilliant. I love thrash metal and it was a real pleasure to review this, after the slightly painful experience of having to listen to power metal last week (see previous post).

A few more pieces of writing are to come quite soon, possibly before the end of the week.

Here is the Toxic Holocaust review in all its lifechanging glory. Check it out on Jersey Beat as well and have a browse around the site.

Toxic Holocaust – An Overdose of Death (Relapse)

by Mirza Gazic

There are a few modern thrash metal bands that need to be mentioned when the recent revival of that classic scene is discussed. These bands have undeniably spearheaded the new wave and are at the forefront of it these days. Municipal Waste is on of them. Brazil’s Violator is another group of young musicians taking it to the next level.

Boston’s one man show Toxic Holocaust also belongs in the upper echelon. Young Joel Grind has already earned plenty of underground credibility through his previous two recordings, which were raw and visceral creations. He now has the backing of Relapse records, Jack Endino has produced, and Donny Paycheck from legendary loonies Zeke is playing the drums on An Overdose of Death.

It’s an exhilarating listen from start to finish. “Wild dogs” instantly gets the blood rushing with its fast tempo and solid drive. The barbed wire vocals also add more menace to an album that is already steeped in evil vibes. This is not complicated music but relies on pure energy and riffs that are, for lack of a better word, catchy. This is not meant in a soft, poppy way but simply means that they are instantly memorable and made to be experienced live.

The reason that Toxic Holocaust is so good can be traced to one simple premise; that all good metal has a solid punk backbone. This is unmistakeably thrash metal but the energy and the pace here belongs in old hardcore punk and rock’n roll. “Future shock” and “The lord of the wasteland” are two tunes that even sound more like Motorhead than they themselves have done for the past decade.

An Overdose of Death is a brilliant metal album and shows that thrash is in safe hands for some time to come.

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