Dapper Dan Man…

July 29, 2009

Music Review: Propagandhi – Supporting Caste

Filed under: Politics,punk — gazzabazza @ 10:32 AM
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Published on Blogcritics on May 27, 2009

Quite possibly the most political and politically active band is back with another long player and this time after parting company with Fat Wreck Chords in order to release it on their own label, The G7 Welcoming Committee. Given their well known ethos it makes perfect sense that a punk band steeped in grassroots politics should release its music independently.

This time there is also more bite to Propagandhi’s music as well;  where they previously delivered melodic and poppy punk they now play with more fire. The melody is still there but Supporting Caste exudes more energy and hits home with speed-core elements.

The first song “Night Letters” exemplifies this by being nigh on thrash-like half the playing time. This doesn’t come as a surprise when their inspirations are known — a perusal of Propagandhi’s website gives out the information that Supporting Caste is “a 50,000 watt no-holds-barred, forward-thinking tip-of-the-hat to the giants — Voivod, Rush, NoMeansNo, SNFU, Sacrifice, Razor, Guilt Parade — that have gone before them.”

None of this would matter very much if the album wasn’t any good, but it is. It has the fast pace of a good punk album with some great and thought provoking, and sometimes very funny, lyrics.

The humour is vivid on “Dear Coach’s Corner,” a ridicule of overly patriotic hockey pundits in their homeland and “Human(e) Meat,” where the stance towards meat eating is put forward clearly with the aid of their trademark melodic punk.

This aside, it is a bleak message exhibited on Supporting Caste — one of struggle and injustice, but the flicker of hope in the midst is always there. All of this is delivered with the band’s finest material in a long time, a quality that can stand alongside classics like Potemkin City Limits and Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes.

The nods toward thrash classic of old, alongside some old school hardcore blasters — “This Is Your Life” and “Incalcuable Effects” lean less towards melody and far more towards ferocious speed and aggression — should convince everybody of Propagandhi’s continued relevance.

The political agitating may be overbearing to some but this rebellion is part and parcel of these Canadians and is what all punk should be about.

Link to the review on Blogcritics

July 9, 2009

Music review: Big Business – Mind the drift

Filed under: Music,Review — gazzabazza @ 9:11 AM
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Published on Blogcritics.com

Big Business is a band with a sense of humour. For proof of that take a look at some of the band photos over the years, or absorb the fact that they decided to create an audio commentary for the promo version of Mind the Drift, their third album and the first one recorded as a trio. It’s a surreal experience to hear Coady Willis, Jared Warren, and new member, guitar player Toshi Kasai talk about the recording process while the songs are playing, especially since some of it verges on gibberish. But it is funny too.

Mind the Drift also presents some differences and progressions in sound- overall the band sound cleaner here but still retaining their trademark sound. Big Business have always been a bombastic band, thanks to their massive drumming sound but the scuzzy, rumbling, and bass-heavy influence is now a part of a much leaner production, stripped of dirt but still heavy. With the addition of Toshi’s gentle guitar playing there is now an added dimension- instead of a straightforward rumble the music also has some texture throughout. At times it sounds as if Kasai doesn’t follow the bass and drums at all but digresses and plays a completely different tune but put together in the context of this album it is a vital part of the whole. Without this the songs would sound poorer.

Another small departure concerns Jarred Warren’s vocal delivery. On the previous two albums it was a raw, throaty and unpolished bellow and on Mind the Drift you get to hear a change in the deep and smooth singing- save for in the title track, a swaggering bluesy stomp that sounds more rock’n roll then anything out there at the moment. It would not be out of place on a latter day Melvins record which is fitting seeing as Willis and Warren also play with the cult heroes these days.

This could be their attempt at reaching a wider audience and there is nothing wrong with that. This is band that’s heavy enough to always be liked by the stoner rock/ doom contingent but also carries plenty of song writing prowess worthy of being heard by many more. They prove this with “The ayes have it”- a Hammond laden melodic piece that is one of the most refreshing things Big Business have put their name on. Its moody tunefulness makes it the standout track on Mind the Drift.

It all finishes with the 8 minute long “Theme from big business II, a slow psychedelic song that perfectly sums up their third album- slow, heavy but with added harmonies and experimentation.

European tour is hereby requested.

Link to review

May 12, 2009

Landmine Marathon – Rusted eyes awake album review

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 4:23 PM
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Here, finally after several months’ abscence is a piece published on Scenepointblank.  It’s about Landmine Marathon, a death metal band from Arizona (my favourite place in America, but the again I am slightly disturbed.)

Link to the review on Scenepointblank.

Otherwise, read on below…

One of the biggest pleasures of listening to Rusted Eyes Awake was to hear the music and not walk away with the opinion that this is just another modern U.S. metal band labeled with the death metal tag that actually plays nauseating post-millennial death-core. Landmine Marathon still does have some of those influences interspersed but for the most part the Arizonians play old-school- caked death metal with a heavy nod towards the old Earache Records releases. Even the cover art is brings to mind Repulsion’s seminal Horrified.

This album is an almighty brutal attack, it has to be clarified. There aren’t many pauses for breath amidst the scattergun approach, save for the occasional mid-tempo, chugging breakdown that betrays the band’s modern hardcore influences. Aside from this, Landmine Marathon let rip with pummeling drums and buzzing riffs. Rusted Eyes Awake is the kind of album that raises your pulse and puts you in the frame of mind to do something physical. A two hour Thai-boxing session would seem like the perfect activity for the soundtrack, as elbowing a sand bag (preferably with the boss of London underground’s face plastered onto it) is what you will be most inclined to partake in.

“Bile Towers” has the ultimate tempo for an album starter, immediately charging at you with churning, bass-heavy riffs with a loving nod to Bolt Thrower and old Entombed records. Sometimes the guitar players sidestep this with a few melodic riffing turns, and harmonies are good when avoiding monotonous rumblings. Along with this comes a worthy vocal performance by Grace Perry. She is definitely up there with the best in terms of bile and vitriol and the acidic throat renderings in “Heroin Swine,” to use one example, definitely do their best to convince you.

What makes Rusted Eyes Awake even better compared to many other modern metal records is that it doesn’t get weighed down by an overt technicality, something that can be a problem in this genre. Old school feel and grimy, lurching and sloppy riffs are always better for sheer enjoyment than a frenetic wankfest.

This isn’t perfect album by any means but it’s a joy to annoy neighbors with it. Supposedly these guys tour a hell of a lot – they need to bring their desert asses over to Europe soon.



April 30, 2009

Isis – Wavering Radiant

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 11:43 AM
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Forget about genre classifications and under what category to place Isis; they have, as a band, always been bigger than that. When listening to Wavering Radiant all you have to do is take in the nuances of the record and think about how far the band has developed since the early stages.

Their brooding type of musicianship has travelled from the rhythmic and suggestive rumblings of “Celestial” to the more introspective nature of the spacey Celestial and the utterly majestic “Panopticon” where the mellowness of the electronica that was interspersed injected even more beauty to the music. They continued to develop over the previous album as well Wavering Radiant comes across as all their history and summed up into one recording. It is noticeable that the band has taken their time with developing this album, having also claimed to have done that. Every instrumentation and texture sounds as if it was given space to grow and create the perfect soundscapes.

“Hall of the Dead” starts of with a stuttering riff before kicking off with sludge-heavy grooves and Aaron Turner’s growling vocals. The keyboard that is utilized throughout the song adds an unmistakable depth, especially during the quiet breakdown when unified with the emotive guitar slings.

The following song “Ghost Key” goes the opposite way and begins with the placid and touching keyboard before the sludgy riffs are unleashed. It shares this characteristic with “Hand of the Host”, a song truly grand in the way its lush, thick riffs contribute to the epic ambiance. The interaction on Wavering Radiant between idyllic beauty and sonic darkness is what makes this, as all other Isis albums, such an enthralling listen.

Complex though it may be, it’s still a recording with a strong earthy feel to it and one — due to the songs creating a one cohesive whole — demands to be listened to in its entirety, the way all music should be enjoyed.

Wavering Radiant is the type of record where you need to just close your eyes and let the sounds carry you away and your mind wander. Isis have always had a strong cinematic feel to them due to the music having a palpable narrative structure to it, thus creating an overwhelming desire to hear their soundscapes as a backdrop to a movie.
The songs of Isis have always demanded concentration and many listens before one can even begin to grasp the nuances but
Wavering Radiant stands as an equal to their finest work so far, but its continuous growth tells of an album towering above its peers in the very near future.

Link to review on Blogcritics.org.

April 16, 2009

Music Review: Bigelf – Cheat the Gallows

Filed under: Writing — gazzabazza @ 3:09 PM
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Written by Mirza Gazic
Published April 15, 2009

Many bands have a massive affinity with the seventies. They love the classic recordings of that era and those influences shine through in their own albums — homages to an era that most music lovers have a kinship with and a love for. This is not news to anybody, but most bands tend to have one musical part of that decade as a basis for their sound. Usually it’s the doomy heaviness of Sabbath or the proto-punk of MC5 and The Stooges but that is not the case with Bigelf.

They can be considered an amalgamation of nearly every rock and pop-based sound that the seventies had to offer and their latest album, Cheat the Gallows is the showcase. It is a sign of ambition and a restless nature to attempt such an album and in the hands of a lesser band it would have been a failure, but Bigelf have managed to create the right mix of bombast, trippiness and straight-forward rock here. They have surpassed the former characteristic of being a band simply influenced by Black Sabbath and The Beatles and incorporated much more.

This fact hits home right at the opener “Gravest show on Earth” with its operatic tone and influence made all the more unusual by the carnival music that suddenly appears. It may sound strange but it works to, at the very least, draw your attention to the album. Psychedelia and progressive inspirations are rich in scope on “Cheat the Gallows” and they are mostly prevalent in the anthemic “Money, it’s Pure Evil” that draws a lot from Pink Floyd and their rich sound and production can also be heard in “The Game”, especially in the lush and evocative guitar playing.

Some of the finer moments on Cheat the Gallows come in the form of “Blackball” and the southern rock jamming midway through that draws up images of a muggy swamp and the effect-ladden “Hydra”- this tune has instrumentation that, for lack of a better word, sounds bewildering.

The closer “Counting sheep” can be seen as a summation of the entire album, as it attempts to put all the influences into one 10-minute song. It’s erratic nature means that it is interesting more than good, but Cheat the Gallows as an album is a bold and ambitious piece of work. It demands concentration if you are in any way interested in music then you will feel rewarded for your effort.

Two reviews up here on the same day? Something must be wrong- judging by how briefly things come up here this means that I won’t be back on “The Ballad” for another month. Hopefully I’m wrong and I am expecting to write a piece on the new Isis album this week- stay tuned.

Review of the album up on Blogcritics.

Hellamor – Denim EP Review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 3:02 PM
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Hellamor – Denim EP
Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com)
Self released
Release date: 2008

Most of us know that the stoner genre is within a very close reach of its saturation point. The worry that arises when confronted with a recording from a fairly unknown band comes from more than just the usual question of whether it’s actually any good – the other one is if it stands out enough to warrant multiple listens.

The answer here has to be a rather ambiguous, as it goes both ways. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Denim EP as such – the four songs on offer are suitably riff heavy and the vocalist fluctuates equally well between raspy croaks and soulful wails. The recording bears all the hallmarks of the genre and Hellamor also wisely throw in a more mellow song in the shape of the dusty “After All,” which is the pick of the quartet.

A redeeming feature with Hellamor is that, as they’re still unsigned, they’re at the beginning stages of their career and can develop. There is good songwriting here, but at the moment not much to outweigh the Nebula or Kyuss records on your shelf.

I’m a bit behind here as this review was published last week but I wanted to wait and upload some more writing at once, rather than the sporadic posting of one review every few weeks. I’ll get my Bigelf review up after this one and hopefully I’ll get writing up here more often.

But then again, who gives a hairy ass fuck- nobody reads this thing anyway…
If by accident you manage to stumble in here then go to StonerRock.com and check out the review there. Click here and then go and read some other good stuff up on the site.

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.

March 31, 2009

Trap Them – Sleepwell Deconstructor

Filed under: Music,punk,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 11:40 AM
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Guys from black- and doom metal bands and a hardcore band decide to start a new project together – it’s not a complete surprise that the result of that union would come out sounding quite as unholy and visceral as Trap Them. Sleepwell Deconstructor consists of 20 minutes of solid anger. There is no point in trying to put this in a specific genre, as it draws from a multitude of extreme inspirational bands and makes an own concoction.

The basis here is grind and not entirely unlike more modern bands such as Nasum, but there is also a palpable hardcore angle on display- from the Converge- styled cacophony on “Collapse and Marathon” to the d-beat breakdowns that are jumping up all over the album. Often all of these s t y l es will be heard in one and the same song, and bearing in mind that the majority of them are no longer than three minutes should give a decent idea of the intensity.

Listening to the raw guitar sound on Sleepwell Deconstructor takes me back in time to the first time I listened to Entombed’s seminal, genre-defining Left Hand Path. Trap Them are their own band, but the thick and buzzing sound of the guitar definitely brings to mind the old late 80’s to mid- 90’s Sunlight Studios production.

If you like a few more, unexpected inspirations to be introduced on a hardcore album so that it becomes more aggressive and memorable, then Trap Them is certainly the right band to listen to.

Published on StonerRock.com yesterday. Read it here

Trap Them Myspace page

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.

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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