my dream is my reality, live my twisted dream...

Hard Rock Hallelujah

"Why did you turn it off? It was so nice...", said the old lady we all know, listening to Highway Star at full blast in that Phillips powerhouse stereo ad when her husband turns it off.

It is not the latest dance number that the dumb assed djs are mixing with their phat soundz maan.
It's about the almighty heavy metal thunder of the geetaaar...!
Well dude, seriously, it’s been turned on now.

Bring in the noise, fire up the almighty riff, throw the television out of the window, wake up the neighbors and bring down the roof.
Barbarians are at the door, kids down the road are singing Hard Rock Hallelujah for an anthem.
Metal has made a major comeback; I'm chanting it like a mantra since my second post on this blog.

Hail Lordi!
51st Eurovision Song Contest of 2006 in Athens had an unlikely winner as Lordi walked away with the trophy on May 20th, beating a love song balladeer from Finland.
The Finnish band Lordi won the contest with the song "Hard Rock Hallelujah" with 292 points, the highest points total in Eurovision history (although the pool of points available has steadily increased over the years as the number of participating countries has increased and changing scoring systems). "Hard Rock Hallelujah" was the first ever hard rock song to win the contest (Eurovision is normally associated with softer pop music and schlager).
Schlager for the uninitiated, (German Schlager, literally "a hit") is a style of popular music that is prevalent in northern Europe, in particular Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia, but also to a lesser extent in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
It is characterised by sweet, overly sentimental ballads with a simple and memorable melody on the one hand and light, pleasant and forgettable pop tunes and arrangements on the other hand. Its lyrics are typically centered around love and relationships, and feelings.
Hey wait a minute, what happened to loose chaddi hip hoppers, shrieking divas and teenyboppers?

'Things have changed', as old Bob Dylan said once chomping those burgers in a song that was featured Michael Douglas starring The Wonder Boys.

The Offspring was right, Kids Aren't Alright.

The Eurovision was the springboard for many a likes of Abba, Celine Dion and their ilk. Never a continent had such a mass identity crisis at a larger scale when Lordi just came in, destroyed and walked away.

Not really. But something like that.

Anyone who has seen will admit that it was pure fun. The band who looked JRR Tolkien's characters from middle earth or something. Hilarious make-up but the music was really fun.
But more fun is beating up the mainstream assholes with heavy guitar. Now that's what I call music!
Get a load of these dudes here.

What followed was a major uproar in the media and behind the scenes as well. Here's some stuff that sorrounded the Lordi's participation and final victory, collected from various sources:

  1. First, Finnish religious leaders warned that the Freddy Krueger look-alikes could inspire Satanic worship.

  2. Then critics called for President Tarja Halonen to use her constitutional powers to veto the band and nominate a traditional Finnish folk singer instead.

  3. Rumors even circulated that Lordi members were agents sent by President Vladimir V. Putin to destabilize Finland before a Russian coup — an explanation for their refusal to take off their freakish masks in public.

  4. The fury also spread in Greece, winner of last year's Eurovision and therefore the host of this year's contest, where an anti-Lordi movement called Hellenes urged the Finnish government "to say 'no' to this evil group."

  5. One young Finn calling himself Suomi (Finland in Finnish) wrote to a newspaper Web log saying, "If Lordi wins Eurovision, I am leaving the country."

Many had feared that the hideously costumed group — complete with bloody gashes, protruding horns and war axes — would tarnish Finland's image abroad. But now the media and officials openly describe the group as heroes, and even skeptic journalists apologized for not believing in their success.

Thank you Lordi for a firm kick in the rears of those pop idol wannabes, teenyboppers and those evil media svengalis.
Eurovision will never be the same again!

Things have changed.
If you havent been living in a cave for the past few months or something you'd have no way of knowing why metal in general has made a comeback.
If you dont like music that at least requires little amount creativity before it hits the sheleves in the music stores or the TV screens, take your mug out of this screen and visit google to search for britney spears fan pages or some shit like that.

What happened all of a sudden?
I dont know surely know the exact reason for such a rude awakening of the beast, it was asleep for some time since the mid 90s.
Things are getting exciting now, take out your Obituary t-shirts and your Emperor records and stuff from the backlands of your closet that you had grown up with.

"Rockin' aint no walk in the park, lady", said Jack Black in Richard Linklater's School of Rock. Anyone who contests this statement will be awarded with a kick in the nuts or whatever.

Maybe the world is waking up to Rock music at last or may be its just the rude awakening of the beast.
I dont want to believe the latter.
Let the whole damn world shake their booties to a new song by, whatchamicallit, ummmm BlackAssed Peas(!), no thank you.
Space Monkeys can go to hell.
My Carcass records give me enough fix to last for another 10 years.

World domination?
Abso-fucking-lutely. Its just a matter of time that Rock / metal music will take over the major charts and cover all the screens all over the world. And adorn many walls and tees as well.

Meanwhile would you, like, crank up the volume, dude?


'Eargasmic' Hymns: Crazed Highs and Horrible Lows

This is an article I had written more than 5 years ago, here it is straight from maxdiamond archives.
Back then my musical tastes were way too different for some time that you'll notice as you read on.
Some of the comments may sound a little outdated but the scene is pretty much the same, innit?
Well, read on...

The world is in dire need of madmen, wrist slashers and a prime nutcase.
Somewhere Air Supply are supplying their nth love song for a career spanning 25 years only filled with love songs (c’mon there’s more to life!), and elsewhere Celine Dion or Mariah Carey, whose shrieking would put any self-respecting frog to an earth shattering inferiority complex, are manufacturing the unending shitload of pop tunes (?), and somewhere away from Bronx, J Lo is nothing but an ass!

Back then..
Back when bad boys went into Rock n roll and the disco was for the footloose, the rotten settled for punk, while the blues and jazz were being the serious types, a major demographic sector had nowhere to go.
Pop was a welcome change, but in no way an alternative for the angry, confused generation that was waking up from the Woodstock hangover.

The politically correct 90s saw the rise of many boy bands and girl bands, and more of the shrieking Divas who ended up marrying the top brass old guys, top music industry execs or the producers.

The bottom line: there’s more slime on the way coz it never ends.

Dying Breed...
That leaves guys like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Tom Petty and Mark Knopfler, a dying breed of real musicians who never did it for the heck of it but for what they believed.

Come to think of it, Bob Dylan is a legend, who had won only one Grammy Award in his life time that too for the weakest effort of his life, Time Out of Mind, whereas lousy artists like Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and their ilk go about sweeping all the major categories.

Give us another Ozzy, another Robert Plant, one more Iggy Pop or Deep Purple (of Machine Head days, that is). Give us the Big Band Sound of Led Zep, Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Guns n Roses, etc. (or even one more Bob Marley.)

Gone are the days when Rock n roll was about a bunch of kids holed up in a garage and beating the living daylights out of the neighbors, now it’s down to a geek in front of a PC and creating the almighty noise or the goateed bastards in shorts who are nothing but failed rappers cashing in on the Rap Metal bandwagon, and the ones who pretend like there’s a horse stuck between their legs or just the average black man trapped in a white man’s body.

Deconstruction lives, children...

During the late 90s, it was kinda hip to say, “Rock is dead.”
Hang someone who says so by the balls and let them rot in hell till eternity. Rock n roll is still alive and kicking some serious ass.

One listen to the Verve’s Urban Hymns, you’ll be a believer like, well, Monkees!

Urban Hymns- the Verve
Virgin Records, October 10, 1998


1. Bitter Sweet Symphony
2. Sonnet
3. The Rolling People
4. The Drugs Don't Work
5. Catching The Butterfly
6. Neon Wilderness
7. Space And Time
8. Weeping Willow
9. Lucky Man
10. One Day
11. This Time
12. Velvet Morning
13. Come On

Coming to the business now, ‘Eargasmic’ is one word to call this latter day magnum opus that came out of the Brit-Rock scene and the torchbearers called as the Verve.

"I'm into great music. Funkadelic, Can, Sly Stone, Neil Young, the Stones. Jazz.
I can name you 50 bands who are doing OK now and in two years they will be forgotten.
History will forget them.
But history has a place for us. It may take three albums but we will be there."

Richard Ashcroft was quoted to have said this in 1993 way before the acclaimed epic ‘Northern Soul’ was assured its legend as one of the decade's lost greats but the band had disintegrated, its two principal sources of inspiration, Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe, torn apart by mental and physical burn-out.

A quote like the above one coming from any other lesser mortal would have raised a few laughs and sent him back into oblivion for infinity were it not the reasons being that the Verve were equipped with all the guts, conviction and pyrotechnics to assault the unassuming listeners with an epic sound reminiscent of Led Zeppelin.

Crazed Highs and Horrible Lows
During the times when The Verve was only Verve, who had begun to make their enthusiastic leaps into the Big Sound and their musical soul mates, Oasis were just into their major label debut, the critics used to call Richard Ashcroft as ‘MAD Richard’. And back then white English guitar music was about nothing else.

It proved to be true! Nobody calls him Mad anymore, now Ashcroft is someone revered all over the circles as a genius.
'Mad Richard' was mad no longer: The Verve, as he promised, had become the greatest band in the world.
Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage.

The Verve were no longer the question mark or the cliche.
They were the statement and the definition.

The tragedy of the piece was that a band that had put so much faith solely in the power of its own music had fallen in the end on the sword of this unrequited belief.

As a nation romanced Oasis with a passion that would've suited The Verve fine, the obituaries that greeted their demise were slim ... lights dim, curtains close, four shattered northern souls grieve quietly backstage with family and friends.
Act Two, Scene One opens in a burst of blinding light to searing, joyous strings, to the sound of a 'Bitter Sweet Symphony', The Verve's first single since their split and the opening song of praise from this collection of 'Urban Hymns'. Its sheer magnificence and spirit is such that the danger of it overwhelming anything that follows it is obvious.

This, after all, is the musical signature of the year for anyone not so out of love with music that they're satisfied with Elton John's bleeding heart.

But 'Urban Hymns' is a big, big record.

'Bitter Sweet Symphony''s glorious rallying call to a million outsiders is met by a much more personal plea for salvation on 'Sonnet', but it's no less stinging for that.

This is the sound of a man falling deeply in love and begging for some recognition of these feelings from his object of desire. "Sinking faster than a boat without a hull," moans Ashcroft as sweeping strings whip the gentle rhythm to a misty climax, "dreaming about about the day I can see you by my side... Yes, there's love if you want it".

But this mood of soft helplessness is torn apart by the ensuing 'The Rolling People', where the same army of outlanders addressed on 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' are on the march again.
This time, however, they're armed with hard drugs and kalashnikovs, and the closing freak-out sounds like the controlled explosion of the first three Led Zep albums in a metal box.

Heady stuff, obviously, but with all peaks must come troughs and 'The Drugs Don't Work' captures the moment of romantic and pharmaceutical comedown with cinematic precision.

A fifth speed on the emotional gearbox: 'Catching The Butterfly' roams a mystical plain last visited on their debut album and with its neon-lit,metallic guitar coda sounds like a trippy Joy Division.

Of these, 'Space And Time' is the most heart-breaking, its frank admission that a love affair is over set to an elegant strum: "We feel numb because we don't see that if we really cared and we really loved think of all the joy we'd share".
It ends with Ashcroft moaning repeatedly that, "we have existence and it's all we share". A thousand rocky relationships will falter when this is played alone at home at night.

What makes this album one of the classics at the turn of the millennium is that the album addresses the listener in 'you-and-me' terms and that suits fine for all.

Where are they now?
Last time I saw Richard Ashcroft, he was performing 'Bittersweet Symphony' with Coldplay at Live 8 concert.
Here's a direct link (Quicktime movie file) to the live performance.
Richard Ashcroft has gone solo with couple of records under his belt with some success but nothing like Urban Hymns.
With Nick McCabe and rest of the members pursuing various solo careers in music that rest of the world is barely interested in.
A best of The Verve was released a year ago called as 'This is the Music'.

Parting Shot
Urban Hymns has been a companion (a personal favourite) to me through many testing times of my life in the past few years, every time I listen to this album it reminds of the places I have been, the people I met, things that I learned and where I come from.
Isnt it good to have something / someone to remind you that?
Well, this record is one of those things to me...



Dumb Ass Guide to Headbanging

Collected from various sources since some time, here it is... The Dumb Ass Guide to Headbanging!

The term "headbanger" was coined on Led Zeppelin's first US tour in 1968. During a show at the Boston Tea Party audience members in the first row were banging their heads against the stage in rhythm with the music.

Headbanging is a type of dance which involves violently shaking the head in time with music, most commonly heavy metal music. It is most visually effective when the person headbanging has long hair.

There are various styles of headbanging, including:

* The up and down - Which involves shaking the head up and down - This style is demonstrated at the climax of the "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene in the movie Wayne's World.

* The circular swing (Windmill) - Swinging the head in a circular motion - This style is more commonly known as the Windmill or Helicopter. Popularized by Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. and George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher of Cannibal Corpse. This style is often used by members of Amon Amarth and many other bands.

* Drunken Headbanging - A form of head banging in random directions, like the person is drunk, often people lose their balance and fall over. Bands such as Immortal are a good example of this.

* The half-circle - Swinging the head repeatedly from side to side in a downward arc: this style is often used by Tom Araya of Slayer.

* The figure eight - Which involves shaking the head in a figure eight.

* The side to side - Which involves shaking the head from side to side, whipping the hair on each transition. This style is used by Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom, Mick Thompson of Slipknot (during the "build-up" moments of a song) Martin Mendez of Opeth, and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo.

* The whiplash - An especially violent form of the traditional "up and down" style, characterized by the hair of the handbanger moving about so rapidly that it obscures their face. This style possibly pioneered by AC/DC guitarist Angus Young, and also used by Mick Thomson of Slipknot and late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton.

* The all-out - The most insane form of all, often involving dropping on the ground, holding oneself up with his or her arms, and violently swinging the head between the arms. This style sometimes involves grabbing onto tables and other fixed objects to hold the headbanger up, as their head movements have become so violent they seriously affect balance.

* The tandem - Judas Priest guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton pioneered and perfected a tandem form of headbanging in which they stand side by side and headbang in unison. (See also Wolf Hoffman and Jörg Fischer of Accept.)

* The asshole - A rather inconsiderate form of headbanging where the person violently swings forwards and backwards from their waist, often headbutting people in front of them, or in more extreme circumstances, behind them.

* The low-profile - A variation on the "The up and down" where the performer's headbanging movements are short and more subtle, but still noticeable.

Various styles are often mixed together according to taste and to the tempo and aggression of the music. In practice, they can also be performed with eyes-closed and/or in combination with hand gestures such as devil horns and/or singing, yelling, or lip syncing. Headbangers' bodies usually bang with the head, reducing the strain on the neck and making the body move in a serpentine, up-and-down fashion to the music. There are a number of different stances a headbanger can stand in, which include:

* Standing up straight. This is most commonly performed with the legs slightly apart, mainly to keep balance.

* Standing with the legs slightly bent and the hands on the knees or thighs. This is a common stance for headbangers performing the half-circle, as it allows maximum movement and balance.

* Standing with the hands behind the back.

* Standing with one leg in front and one behind, with the hands held together near the lower body. This style is often used in tight spaces or to alleviate cramp and maintain balance.

* Standing with legs extremely stretched to the front and back of the body, lowering the head and body as low as possible to avoid loss of balance, while shredding an Air guitar, usually with the hand holding the guitar neck placed on the according knee and the other one lowered to "pick the strings".

Alternatively, a headbanger can also perform while seated, crowd surfing, or in a number of other positions.

Honorable headbangers
(3 Slayer members!)

* Tom Araya
* K.K. Downing
* Jeff Hanneman
* James Hetfield
* Kerry King
* Scott Ian
* Glenn Tipton
* Mick Thompson
* Dimebag Darrell
* Per Wiberg
* Angus Young
* Mark G.
Be Warned!!!

Health issues

In practice, headbanging is considered much safer than moshing and has hardly any short-term side-effects. Unsafe practice, such as headbanging while intoxicated, under the influence of narcotics, or too close to someone else, is the common cause of injury, also known as a bangover. In 2002, Jason Newsted claimed his departure from Metallica was partly due to wear of the cartilage in his neck, but this is the only known case of long-term physical damage as an alleged result of headbanging.

Practice Safe Headbanging!

Stay tuned for Dumb Ass Guide to Metal, coming soon....




Bangalore, considered as the pensioners' paradise, lake city, garden city, pub city, silicon valley and so on, has retained only sillycon and pubs as i write this entry.

Lakes gone, gardens vanished and pensioners can no more afford to make a living in this city.
Anyways, I'm not writing anything about the above topics but about something else Bangalore is known for.
Take a walk on Church Street and chances are you must have come across couple of blokes who are members of a Rock / metal band.
Yes, not surprisingly there are nearly more than couple of hundred bands in Bangalore today.

Being a regular concert goer and front row headbanger most of the time I had come to realise it over the years that this city has a maximum number of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest fans than anywhere else in India.
Where as kids in their teens or 20s in other cities might indulge in mundane things but here the scene is different, the kids are studying well to get into software industry and also hooking up with buddies to form a band.

I thought it was not the regular scene but lately it has become so.
Every first sunday of the month Bangalore witnesses Levi's Freedom Jam (oops, Sunday Jam) where upcoming bands can go on stage and perform a set. A sizeable hardcore crowd turns up to see the stars (?) of tomorrow perform, some covers and many original compositions.

The point I am making here is about the way metal is represented in the media and the mainstream conscious, it is really negative. Come on anyone who thinks Korn, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and all as metal needs a 'metal 101' up their ass.
Bangalore bands for long have had prog hangovers earlier that ended up creating bored concert goers who in turn preferred to stay away from live scene (including myself), just recently the scene is welcoming some fresh talent with sonic brewtality that you can expect from the angry generation anywhere else.


Yes and no.

If the number of bands coming up is any indication, Bangalore might as well end up becoming another Gothenberg or Seattle for that matter.
But it doesnt have anything else that would help in becoming anything of that sort because there are some funda-metal things missing and that's what I am going to rant and rave about.

KryptosThe Sound of Music
Play any song from Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, within a few seconds into the song you'd recognise the band or may be the song if you are familiar with that song.
These bands worked towards creating a unique sound not meaty hooks or memorable riffs.
This is something most of the bands today have lost sight of and right now it is about one guitar lick driving the whole song (think of many nu-metallers), this is sad.
You cant tell one song from another or there is no creativity involved. Everybody wants to play like Led Zep or Sabbath, but these people were not trying to be someone else but themselves.

This basic factor has created a major gap between bands and audience in Bangalore as well, earlier when the bands were indulging in prog excesses the audience had no choice to lap it up.
Dont mind me saying but prog is not thoroughly enjoyable music if it is less than brilliant or doesnt possess some amount of creativity.
Prog wave has swept the scene and now the ground is set for some fresh meat and it is a crucial moment where the bands and the audience have to decide whether to set the stage for clones or artists.

Anybody who has been a part of this scene has a fairly good idea about what I'm shaking my stick at.
Bangalore metal scene has evolved a lot over the years, starting from tribute outfits to cover bands and now at performing all original live sets, bands have come a long way.

So has the audience.

Bangalore has its lion's share of talented bands, some are immensely talented but were forced to give up the dreams of making it big in the music scene due to several factors that are quite obvious as usual.

In my conversations with some bands I came across a point that the audience are not so receptive to originals. There are several factors that decide this attitude and I dont think my ideas will ever be voiced at a proper platform to overcome the obstacles, that's beside the point.

Many bands gather some moolah from performing at many live venues, competitions, cutting down on booze and ciggies to finance their records and most of them have day jobs. They manage to release the records on indie labels and distro over a circle of cult following they have.
They might be honoured with a column in the local news daily and radio was never alive in this country (forget it), Music channels suck big time feeding crap all day and night.
Bands lose big in the bargain, the records never reach the wider audience since the major labels are least bothered about promoting Rock / metal as mainstream music, they are busy at tailoring manufactured pop artists.

This is a funny incident, I remember once walking through Brigade Road with a buddy who is also a metalhead, there was this stupid looking Channel V vj who was asking the crowd some mindless questions. I was stopped in the middle of the road by this certain vj, to his bad luck, and was asked who was my favourite indi-pop female singer (?).
(Smile, you are on TV!) I showed my middle finger and said they all suck, and a major chunk of the crowd cheered as I walked away.
My message to those bozos at the music channels was "We are not a dumping ground assholes, stop feeding us crap..."

Personally I dont give a fuck about image, this is something that record companies create to sell the records. The bands still remain the same, most of the metallers abroad look like some regular chaps except for those black metal dudes from Norway.
Otherwise Ozzy is a family man who puts on antichrist robe when he performs with Sabbath but that doesnt matter.
Most of the bands in Bangalore sport a clean image, they look no different from the audience!
At times you would be forgiven for watching a bunch of geeky looking dudes scaring the living daylights of the neighbours or something.

There are some bands from Bangalore that have major cult following not only here but also in major cities in India. They all sound like some other band, not like themselves.
It is easy to find a band that sounds like Slayer in Bangalore, or the one that is trying to ape Kreator, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden or Dream Theater for that matter.

Many bands kick some serious ass but what Bangalore needs is a good vocalist. There's a major scarcity of good vocalist and this is really important.
Last Sunday Jam there was this buch of young lads who performed couple of songs, in one he was singing like Dave Mustaine and in another he was like Tom Araya!
This is not a healthy development, it would have been a manna if it was just an isolated event but most of the times you'll hear bands that sound like a European or American band that we have grown up listening to.

Good music is not about hooks or riffs or some great lyrics but like I said before, is about the sound and creating a unique identity in terms of musical direction. If headbangability is the only yardstick for extreme genre of music, you'd find a hundred bands in here.
That's what Soundgarden was set to achieve, they were into big band sound of Led Zep but they were categorised as grunge since they happen to come from Seattle. That's another story altogether.

Well there are some people who still believe in the power of Rock n roll to make a difference and they are the ones who are still providing some platforms for fresh meat to grow on. Many concerts take place, it is actually less compared to the glory days of the 90s but still it is great to see someone's effort taking shape at the end of the day.
Bangalore metal crowd is a weird folk, they follow the bands in a fanatic manner and that's the reason many of the bands have a cult following. The followers dont miss a gig their favourite band is playing.
Music channels or record labels dont see it as a promising number? Well, that seems the criteria judging by the promotion these talents got from the media.

If it aint live, its dead.
Live scene Rocks but as long as there are no groundbreaking acts hitting the scene, it has the troubles of dying sooner.
Local bands have no choice but play as many live shows as possible since there are no record deals and stuff. It has led to a situation that you dont see the same band perform twice at another venue most of the time, and there are so many popular bands.
If everyone is popular, nobody is.

End of the tunnel.
Well this may be the end of the tunnel for the metal scene in Bangalore. There's always light at the end of tunnel. The stage is set with so many promises and potential to create a unique metal scene from Bangalore that can safely be called as Headbangalore!
By the way, this term is not my own, it was picked up from a metal compilation that was released a few years ago by local bands.

The music scene here has potential and strong audience base. Its not difficult to walk into a gig and find a crazy bunch of metal dudes headbanging their way to glory.

Well this might as well be a mindless rant from my side because when I started writing my post today I had no idea I'd end up writing about this. So it might come across as unorganised or directionless banter. The hell with that...

Its not too late for record labels and music channels to realise the potential this metal scene from Bangalore is offering.

I'll write more on this later...


Heartwork: A Taste of Carcass

Works of art, painted black
Magniloquent, bleeding dark
Monotonous palate, murky spectrum, grimly unlimited
Food for thought, so prolific
In contrasting shades, forcely fed
Abstraction, so choking, so provocative

Carcass - Heartwork

Track listing
1. Buried Dreams
2. Carnal Forge
3. No Love Lost
4. Heartwork
5. Embodiment
6. This Mortal Coil
7. Arbeit Macht Fleisch
8. Blind Bleeding the Blind
9. Doctrinal Expletives
10. Death Certificate

Jeff Walker (bass & vocals)
Ken Owen (drums)
Bill Steer (lead guitar)
Michael Amott (lead guitar)

Colin Richardson - Producer
Keith Andrews - Engineer
Andrea Wright - Assistant Engineer
Dave Buchanan - Assistant Engineer

Carcass, carcase [kaarkas]
n dead body of animal; trunk of dead animal after head, limbs, and offal have been removed by a butcher;
(cont) body of human being;
Liverpool based band of grinding musicians sharing an unhealthy interest in the macabre.

In my previous posts I was talking about Gothenberg and the melodic metal references, well continuing on that is this revisiting one of my all time favourite albums of all time!

Melodic metal?
This is where it all started. This very album could be termed as the first melodic metal album.

Consider this, a grindcore metal band that was responsible for creating that genre along with Napalm Death signs up with Columbia label and records an album in 1993 far removed from the gore obsessed themes of previous releases but a totally new sonic territory that would become a template for many bands nearly a decade later.

Ring a bell? Right. This is the year that witnessed so many metal releases under big labels.

This is not an album that anyone could have expected from Carcass, previously a band obsessed with writing songs about forensic or psychopathological themes like the kind of fun you can with a rotting corpse with its puss laden guts coming out or the way various parts of a rotting corpse could be used to grow plants.

Yes, in a peculiar Carcass kind of way.

Carcass was a Liverpool based British band formed in 1985 by ex-Napalm Death guitarist Bill Steer with drummer Ken Owen. Soon they were joined by a mysterious singer of Indian origins called Sanjiv who recorded a demo tape called as 'Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment'.
Sanjiv was replaced by Jeff Walker (ex-Electro Hippies) in 1987.

Carcass started as goregrind band with lyrical content dripping in medical themes (which the press believed that most of them possessed a degree in medicines or something, which obviously the band members didnt), complex harmonies. Carcass could easily be the most amazingly talented and original metal bands you might have come across.

Carcass still today is considered as one of the best death metal bands of all time. By the way, later Swedish guitarist Michael Amott (ex-Carnage) gave birth to Arch Enemy after he departed from Carcass after Heartwork was released.
It is interesting to note that every exit is marked by another entry (think of Six Feet Under as well in this context).

Where as many bands in the noisy genre seldom innovate or challenge themselves, Carcass tread a different ground with each of their releases.
By the time they had released their 3rd album 'Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious' (1991) on Earache Records, the metal crowd and the critics had pretty much come to a conclusion that Carcass is not 'just-another-noisy-metal-band'.

Their earlier records had the lyrical content that could not be translated using a standard dictionary, for that
you would have to possess a medical dictionary or something. Morbidly humourus 'Spinal-Tap-goes-to-med-school' lyrics, blistering, complex drumming, light speed solos and demonic, insectile vocals.

Carcass has dabbled into almost every major genre of death metal at the same time defining some of them like grindcore (goregrind), melodic death metal, thrash (as on Swansong) and so on.
Their debut album was badly produced but got wide acceptance in metal underground, the next one Symphonies of Sickness was a step further in production quality and brutal sonic assault.
3rd album 'Necrotism - Descanting the Insalubrious' released in 1991 was their best featuring some of the groovy metal numbers like "Corporal Jigsore Quandary", "Simposium of Sickness" and "Incarnated Solvent Abuse" was an instant success and cemented their reputation as a brutal grindcore metal band.

Around this time they had become a metal household name, Columbia thought it was a good idea in the history of good ideas and signed Carcass for a 4 million dollar recording deal...

Their best was yet to come.
There is a major debate over which one is the best album by Carcass, it all depends on how you discovered Carcass into your consciousness. Some people swear by Necrotism or Swansong as the best Carcass record where as most of them refer to Heartwork as their best effort.

Better still gather a group of Carcass fans and note down favourite Carcass album list of each of the fans, dont be surprised if you get all different ones right from their debut album to Swansong (yes, their final album was called as that).

I'll give you the pointers why Heartwork is worthy of that place.

By all standards, Heartwork is one of the monumental classic death metal records of all time, any list without this record is a bloody waste.

"Call yourself a metalhead and havent heard this album? Go suck an egg!", said one columinst in a magazine where I used to get my metal dope on.
Well I'll be buggered if it aint true!

Before I listened to Heartwork, I came across Carcass only once when a friend of mine had a battered piece of cassette of 'Symphonies of Sickness', it was way back in 1994 and I was more into Hendrix and stuff so that particular album was too much of sonic assault on my unsuspecting ears. Eventually I heard it once and steered myself away from it for a while.

Then it was in 1997, I found Heartwork album at a friend's place and thought I'd give it shot after 4 years it was released. Instead I was shot back!

This was not at all the Carcass I had witnessed earlier. Gone are the gore obsessed lyrics, rotting corpses, medical themes and stuff, in turn they were replaced by Jeff Walker's nihilistic attitudes directly reflected in some songs and even though the lyrics are simple and straight without requiring a dictionary to be kept handy (know-what-i-mean?) at times elevate to the level of beautiful poetry like as on 'Blind Bleeding the Blind' is an interesting take with references to Shakespeare's murder tale MacBeth.

Parched with thirst our cup overfloweth
With the crimson milk of human blindness
In charnel towers of ivory besieged
The bones of subjugation are picked clean
In barren decadence, tears are the only affluence
Welling eyes are indifferent, as the blind bleed

The album kicks off with a brilliant number called as Buried Dreams, slow doomy riffs that later make way grinding rhythm parts and excellent drumming and not to mention this is one of the best opener songs of any album i had known or heard before.

"Welcome, to a world of hate
A life of buried dreams
Smothered, by the soils of fate
Welcome, to a world of pain
Bitterness your only wealth
The sand of time kicked in your face
-Rubbed in your face"

These are the opening lines of Heartwork album as it kicks in, few seconds into the song you'll realise that you are not in the same sonic territory as Necrotism or any of their previous records, it is that obvious.
Even the cover art is a radical departure from the previous or the latter ones, hardcore fans shouted "sellout" since it was the band's major label release from a 4 million dollar contract with Columbia. But the major label
hadnt done anything to the sound and integrity of the band except the lyrical content dropping their excessive bloody details!

This album does not contain any fillers at all. The best metal album ever recorded that deserves more recognition and wider audience than bozo bands like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and their ilk.
The new generation of metallers who are into shiny metal bands havent heard of Carcass or havent heard their songs, not to blame them. Music channels feed crap and dont believe what they say is cool, they are not informing you but brainwashing you to believe what they are trying to create a market for 18-25 demographic.

There is no band like Carcass or there can be any band like it.
Thank god that there is Carcass at least. I am not complaining for that at least!

Heartwork is an infectiously groovy, catchy, melodic and yet retaining unquestionably brutal sonic assault that Carcass was well known for.
I wont say anything about the twin guitar assault of Amott / Steer duo or the thunder, intricate, captivating drumming of Ken Owen (incidentally he is the most underrated drummers in metal), you gotta listen to it once to appreciate it. Actually this album features many lengthy solos as well as longer song durations, beautiful solos laid over slow, technical and insanely heavy riffs.
Jeff Walker (Bass, Vocals) has a demonic, insectile voice that fits perfectly, he is original and distinctive, far removed from the cookie monster growls of many death growlers.
He is really original in terms of singing, accessible rasping vocals that add undeniable demonic, sinister quality. Very demonic snarl delivering listener friendly lyrics.

This is where it all started, Carcass had managed to record the first and finest melodic death metal as we have come to know it now. This was the template which left many disciples to follow and evolve the genre.
Never outgunned or surpassed, this still stands out as the best melometal album of all time. Period.

Accessible. Bloody heavy.

Where are they now?
The band that never followed even what they created and refusal to be predictable led them to a stage where they either disintegrate or breakthrough (immediately Cynic comes to my mind, of which I'll write soon).
Here the villain was not the creative differences or any other stupid reasons that made Max Cavalera got fired from Sepultura, it was something else.

Swansong was their last album and a certain record company screwed them big time, their album was delayed by a year for release, founding members Bill Steer and Ken Owen walk out and as the things go, Carcass is no more.

Here are some pieces from an interview with Carcass members when they were asked about the label issues, it sums up the attitude the band had in terms of music and business.

"What morality's involved? There's not much difference between indies and majors at the end of the day, except major labels are probably more brutal than an indie at screwing bands up!"

"Independent music was bought out a long time ago! Most indies now have links with EMI, or Sony - and you can rag on a major label all y'like, but the music isn't gonna sell out or go commercial! We're not gonna try and water it down, and that's all that matters. We've still got the same mentality."

Occasional compilations like Choice Cuts, Wake Up And Smell The Carcass are released by their previous record companies which by any means are better deals for anyone who is going headfirst into Carcass sonic territory and also for a hardcore Carcass fan since they include some of the outtakes or alternate versions of classics as we have come to know them.

Carcass was the kind of a band that would call it a day than compromise on the integrity of the band in terms of values, attitude or the musical direction of the band.

After Carcass was dissolved it made way for some interesting projects since grindgore metal with psychopathological themes was too limited.

Arch Enemy owes its birth to Mike Amott, incidentally the Enemy album Stigmata sounds like an extension of
Heartwork, which is not a bad thing. Who's complaining?
Arch Enemy has established a name for itself as a force to reckon with in a scene filled with mindless metal
releases over the years earlier (Angela Gossow, the lead female vocalist of Arch Enemy is the kind of babe who'd make you "wanna-sleep-with-the-Enemy", get a load of her screaming her guts out, you'll know what I mean, forget the goth females and all).

Ken, Jeff and Carlo continued with the Blackstar project accompanied with former Cathedral bassist Mark Griffiths. Blackstar (later Blackstar Rising) went defunct after Ken suffered from a severe brain haemorrhage. Recently he returned totally recovered, fine and dandy for the remastering of Choice Cuts, a fine compilation released by Earache Records (if you are new to Carcass, start from this album and then slowly you can indulge in individual albums to get a "taste of Carcass").

Bill Steer and Jeff Walker have formed 'Firebird', a country / blues band with songs of John Denver , Johnny Cash and George Jones covers with a metal angle with guests musicians from bands like Amorphis, Napalm Death and Faith No More.
Check out their single "Youre still on my mind" written by Country legend George Jones, google it and you'll find a place to listen to it. It's a brilliant piece.

Some unusual info on Carcass:
The sculpture depicted in the cover art, "Life Support 1993", was designed by H.R. Giger. The video for the song "Heartwork" features the sculpture.

Carcass tunes their guitars down 2 and a half steps, ending up like this (low-high): B E A D G F# B. Jeff tuned his bass to standard concert pitch, with the low E string de-tuned to B.

Bill Steer used to also play for Napalm Death, appearing on their first 2 albums (Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration) as well as Death by Manipulation.

Carcass's record label was Earache Records. That other company will not be mentioned by name or discussed.

On the Indie Metal chart, Carcass were second with Heartwork (Sepultura's Chaos A.D. was first)

How to close this post?

I dont know, I'll never come across a band like Carcass. Period.




Opeth - Damnation
Released: April, 2003
Label: Koch Records

1. Windowpane
2. In my time of need
3. Death whispered a lullaby
4. Closure
5. Hope leaves
6. To rid the disease
7. Ending credits
8. Weakness

Mikael Akerfeldt (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars);
Peter Lindgren (guitar);
Martin Mendez (bass);
Martin Lopez (drums, percussion).
Additional personnel: Steven Wilson (guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, background vocals).
Recorded at Nacksuing Studios and Studio Fredman, Gothenberg, Sweden.

Before you proceed:
metalheads looking for some brutal death metal might wanna steer clear of this album because this one is mostly acoustic and mellow outing in its entirety that Opeth had done in parts before.
If you really appreciate good music, without any hangups about the genre-specific favourites, you can go ahead and read this post.

Alright, you made a good choice.

Before listening to this album I was not new to Opeth. Even after Deliverance that was released a year before that left me with my metal faith stronger than ever, Damnation just left me awestruck!
This was almost acoustic album with just the melodic moments that the band had done in some parts of the songs in their earlier outings.
Getting to listen to all the Opeth records in a series is not an easy task if you ask me.
As with every Opeth records, you should respect the album first and give it some time to grow on you.
If you are new to Opeth or death metal genre in general, you may start from here. You wont be disappointed.
That doesnt in no way mean that it is easy listening or something.

Because this abso-fucking-lutely melodic music that you cant categorise to any genre in particular.
First of all it is better to understand Opeth as a band before coming down on this album.
Opeth started as a straight death metal band with proper growls (no cookie monster vocal, thank you) and enough crunchy guitar riffs to leave skid marks on your sides.

If you listen to their catalogue in the chronological order, you'll be forgiven for thinking that they have released albums of contradictory genre like stright death, prog, melodic, folk metal and stuff.

Were they in a process of re-invention or is it just a way of 'prog thing'? I have no answer.
It doesnt matter since their releases have never been less than epic.
Last year there was some kind of outcry in the metal forums regarding Opeth's major label debut with Roadrunner Records. There were some words like they might 'sellout' or something.
Fear not, Opeth are not the ones to betray metal faith, something that is hard to find in the current scene with corporate whoring and what not.

Their Ghost Reveries is considered as the best release of 2005.
Somebody hold a torch to that.

Previously been called as Pink Floyd of death metal (erstwhile also referred to as Dream Theater of death metal) and many comparisons made with Porcupine Tree, Camel and all, Opeth make a big statement with Damnation album.
You simply can not compare this band with anything you might have heard before.

There is another excellent band from Poland called as Riverside if you want to explore a similar sound of Opeth as on this album.
Thought you might be interested.

As i had mentioned earlier in this post that this album is made of mellow tracks and serious metal ass kicking, it doesnt mean it is devoid of any metal elements.
Ok one piece of info, brit proggies Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson has once again was called in to produce this album. So it is easy to find his touches.

In fact Deliverance and Damnation both the albums were recorded at the same time. But the heavier numbers were put in Deliverance and followed by Damnation the next year which had mellow side of Opeth.
There's a weird story on how these 2 albums were recorded at the same time and how Steven Wilson happened to produce this album. Steven Wilson by this time had become the '5th Beatle' for Opeth.

With this album, he's firmly seated in the place of a keyboardist becoming an integral part of the sound of the band, so might as well be considered as the full time member of Opeth from now on.

Here it goes the story behind Damnation:
Opeth were recording what was supposedly a traditional record when the equipments in their studio started breaking down one by one. Eventually every piece of hardware bit the dust!
So the Opeth camp moved to Steven Wilson's studio on some kind of deal that entire album would be recorded at his studio, one traditional record and another softer, mellow record.
Opeth as a band was not sure whether it is the worst idea in the world, they were not sure how the audience who were used brutal yet melodic sonic assault of Opeth would accept an out-and-out mellow record.
But the band respected Wilson and they agreed to put Damnation out.

Well it wasnt that easy, band was sceptical about performing material from this album on the support tour.
But perform they did, in front of hardcore metalheads!
The result?
Wanna know?
Really? (Do I ask too many questions?)

Alright, it was mind blowing!

Deliverance picked up where Blackwater Park had left off. Damnation is a different story altogether. It is hard to imagine it is the same band playing on this record.
Clean electric and acoustic guitars and soft, clean vocals dominate this record. Wilson's keyboard adds more vibrant colors to the bleak Opethian soundscape. Casual listeners might not even recognize this as the same band. Opeth continues to force changes to the definition of metal as we know it, as DAMNATION may as well be the quietest metal album you've ever heard before.
The album was well embraced by hardcore Opeth fans, non metal dudes were added to the list as well.
So far this is one of the albums that has always remained in my playlist, I can never get enough of this record and beauty of melancholic, heartbreak melodies on every number.

I still can not make up my mind what to write about this album. This is really difficult to put my appreciation for the songwriting, musicianship, production on this album into words. Undoubtedly the first album since Cynic's 'Focus' that has left me trying to figure out the details in the musicianship and weird time signatures.

Dont let the minimal instruments, simple sounding song structures fool you, Opeth is still in the prog territory in terms of arrangements and also one foot firmly in their classical leanings in terms of odd time signatures and stuff like that.

Alright coming to the masterpiece du jour, this record converted some of my non metal friends into listening Opeth full time.
Lets get down to bissness, shall we?

The album cover:
Looks like a continuation of truly 'Opethisms' that they had displayed on their previous album art.

Steven Wilson! This guy doesnt require any more introduction.

Gothenburg, Sweden.
Not to be mistaken with the Gothenberg scene of In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Evergrey and all, Opeth is miles away from any of the Gothenberg touches. But something about the melodic metal scene in this place that never ceases to amaze me.


pain and loneliness poured into a wonderful composition.
Before I continue dissecting every song closely, let me make a point here that most of the songs on this record are about loneliness, loss and pain. Pretty much.

'In my time of need'
"I can't see the meaning of this life I'm leading
I try to forget you as you forgot me
This time there is nothing left for you to take, this is goodbye
Summer is miles and miles away
And no one would ask me to stay
And I should contemplate this change
To ease the pain
And I should step out of the rain
And turn away"

somebody tell those shrieking divas that they dont need to put a self respecting frog to an earth-shattering inferiority complex wailing about pain that this is a better song when it comes to expressing genuine feeling.

'Death whispered a lullaby'
a bit of info, Steven Wilson has handled the backing vocals on this one. It is easy to miss his singing on this one but it is there.
A well handled song without indulging in the excesses that seems to creative minds once in a while.

It starts off with weird sounding arrangements before long you realise that you are in Opeth territory in fact there's a sudden change in pace and arrangements. Almost at the last part of the song there is this eastern sounding section (may be swedish folk, I dont know for sure).
It is one of my favourite songs on this album. Awesome. In a crazy Opeth way.

'Ending Credits'
Mikael Akerfeldt gets down to a Santana-like instrumental on this one. Well, not exactly.
This actually sounds like the Epilogue part II.
This is a brilliant arrangement.

'To Rid the Disease'
I listen to this song every time I reach my place from work and listen to this at least once after getting up in the morning. Listen to this song and you'll know.

I have no idea how I would be able to conclude this post.
This surely was not a review or something. It is more of an appreciation piece to brilliant Swedish band called Opeth who have managed to gather major respect from metal underground and the critics alike.
Now Opeth is a big band with their major label release and hailed as a bestselling album of 2005, playing in front of a packed houses of crazed fans at all major metal festivals from Download@Donnington alongside Metallica, and verious other European gigs, series of American concerts in proper place.
Opeth is a happening band now as I write this post.

The time has come.
I was always found complaining that a band like Opeth was not getting wider audience away from European scene, while some bands become overnight sensations it took 15 years for Opeth to reach this point. Metal is experiencing a major acceptance in the mainstream, it doesnt mean the death of underground scene.

By the way many people ask me why Metallica is metal and Guns n Roses is hard Rock (Alice in Chains is metal by the way).
I'll answer this in my forthcoming posts, it is really interesting to go back and revisit the beginnings and stuff.
For now, beg, borrow, steal or kill - get a copy of Damnation. This will remain in your CD player for a longer time before well, Opeth conjures up another gem of a record.

external links:
Official site

The last time I heard, Martin Lopez (drums) is leaving Opeth owing to health problems I guess.
His contribution to Opeth will surely be missed...

keep the good music coming. and leave comments if you care.



what the..?!

Metal Faith
Ok this is not the name of some obscure scandinavian metal band, it indeed is the title of my post.

I remember the days way back in the 90s when I was too young and too stupid, the major record labels were signing up independent or underground metal bands and releasing some cutting edge music.

That's how I came across Sepultura, Carcass, Metallica, Napalm Death and all. It changed my life as it is now from an obscure existence to this (it still is an obscure existence in the grandest scheme of things). I had found a voice inside me that was screaming to be heard in a generation of air-heads, I had found my fellow soulmates in these bands and the records they made.
(They were not actually writing anything about me though.)

Ah, those were the days!
If you were there, you'd know. (hey wasnt that a line from that Wham! group?)

Well, as the things have a habit of sucking big time, the record companies went too far and managed to sign up too many shitty bands and released lower than medicre records.

The result?

Suckfest began.

Korn, Limp Bizkit (get a life and take a well-deserved retirement guys!), even Slipknot, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Marilyn Manson (who do you think is fooled, sweat heart?) and the list goes on.
The market was destroyed and made way for even more shitty genres of different kinds of music.
The record companies blamed it on their earlier decisions to cash in on the metal wave or the grunge wave, however you look at it.

According to me, Nirvana was the ONLY grunge band, none of the other bands adapted that DIY ethics of Nirvana, nor the sound or the attitude. Of course, there were clones in the name of CandleBox, Silverchair, Bush and all but... It doesnt matter.

What I refuse to understand is a generation of air-heads, goateed bastards in shorts who behave like a black man trapped in a white man's body making shitty music and major labels, music channels and the radio feeding the entire generation on crap and creating another generation of numb nuts.

What happened to the rebel nature of the Rock/metal soul?
Has it all reduced to the pimpin' black assed bitches or the nu-metal (?) shit?
Say the f word 10 times, it will become funny than an expression of anger(?).

Metal died before it could breath a new life.

Wait a minute, all these obituaries have been written elsewhere and its an old thing, right?
Rock was dead when hair bands of the 80s started sporting nail polish and spraying their hair endangering the ozone, wasnt it?

Wrong. Right.

The scene is not as bleak as it seemed a few years ago.
Underground was alive, there was a steady movement kind of thing that kept on the metal faith (wow, i should copyright that title for an album i might release some day!)

Iron Maiden was always there since the days of NWOBHM,
Megadeth succumbed to Dave Mustain's ego issues and substance abuse,
Sepultura, well has left a lot to be desired after Max Cavalera departed,
Metallica... hmmmm... er.... can you believe these guys?
Then what happened to other bands?
Motorhead as always had kept it going just like AC DC, Slayer and all (as far as I can tell none of these bands could surpass their best albums since a decade or two)...

The European bands were doing something else. They were building a solid fan-base over the years.
The internet was elemental in getting so many bands the exposure that none of these magazines, music channels or the record companies could ever give.
Hell, I came across a few dozen bands that I have sincerely been following since the I welcomed them to my consciousness and it has opened me up to a different dimension altogether.

Between August 2005 to this day, the music scene has witnessed so many quality metal releases that reminds of 1993-1994.

Think Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, Moonspell, Celtic Frost, Cradle of Filth, Evergrey, In Flames, Marduk, Arch Enemy, Riverside, Primal Fear, Mastadon, Meshuggah, Satyricon, Iced Earth and all...

Looks like the good days are at last here.
So much for early obituaries!

All the dope heads, hip hoppers, nu metallers and manufactured pop divas, pack your sorry asses and vanish into oblivion.

The time has come!
This is not all the woman at the kittie parties wanna 'pssst-did-you-know?' about.
This is official.

The proof?

Read my further posts for more dope on metal and mayhem (not the band)... trust me, like Monkees, you'll be a Believer!
I gotta go kick some serious metal ass!



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