Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Gray Chapter

So another week passes and so more musical talking points have arisen. First off, I'd like to apologise for there being no post yesterday, I had a crazy day and just didn't have the time. Anyway, lets get into it.

The big news this week is that Slipknot's fifth full length album, ".5: The Gray Chapter" dropped this week and I very diligently picked up my copy on release day. This is a controversial album for many die hard fans, as we see the first line up change since their self titled 1999 album. As many of you may know, Slipknot's bassist, Paul Gray tragically passed away in 2010 (Hence the album title) and since then fans have been wondering will the band go their separate ways, or release another album. However Gray was not the only change made the Nu Metal band's line up as legendary drummer, Joey Jordison was asked to leave the band by his fellow band mates in December 2013. The band cited personal reasons and to why they asked Jordison to leave. No one knows for sure who the new band members are, but there is a lot of speculation as to who it may or may not be, but I will leave the speculation up to the speculators.

On top of the new band members, and the new album, Slipknot now all have new masks! Many claim this is a gimmick but since their first album, the band have taken to wearing disconcerting and evil looking masks on stage. The release of the new masks is always a very exciting part of a new Slipknot album for me, because I love to see what the band has come up with, and while some masks look practically identical (I'm looking at you Mick) some masks like Front man, Corey Taylor's are brand new.

The album itself is reminiscent of their older musical styles that could be found in their self titled album and the 2001 album "Iowa". Taylor has gone back to his faster almost rap-esque vocal style in many of their  new songs. However it's quite noticeable that Taylor's voice can't do what it used to. The album also shows off more of the turn table tricks we know and love that were lacking in their last album which I enjoyed a lot. The drumming is underwhelming without Jordison but as he is one of the world's best metal drummers, that isn't surprising.

Overall, it seems that the band did listen to the fans and changed the direction in which the band seemed to be going in after their 2008 album "All Hope is Gone" which divided fans (I really liked it though). However, backwards is never a good direction for any band to take. 


In my personal opinion, this is Slipknot's worst album to date, but I want to make it perfectly clear that that doesn't mean this is a bad album, it contains many fantastic tracks such as the two singles, "The Devil in I" and "Negative One" and other great tunes like, "Killpop" and my favourite song off the album "If It's Rain You Want". Overall, this is a good album, an entertaining hour of metal, but it honestly doesn't do anything special and at some points, it borders on out right boring with most of the first half of the album being kind of uninteresting. One nice surprise a friend of mine pointed out was the album length, as many bands seem to be producing albums under an hour run time now-a-days. Lastly, the album unfortunately sports one of the worst album covers I've seen this year. It's uninspired, a bit silly and kinda boring, (like the album itself?)

Finally onto more Mastodon news. This week, to follow the release of their new music video, the band has announced their European Tour, I've provided a link to the dates so you can check out if they're playing near you. I'm super excited to see Mastodon, will I see any of you at the Manchester show?

So tell me what you think of .5: The Gray Chapter. Have you heard it? Did you like it? I want to know.

Leave any suggestions, recommentations or hate mail in the comment section and I'll be back next week.

Thanks for reading, 
Xtian Zzyzx

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chocolatey Twerky Metal!

Well it looks like the metal scene is trying to be a bit more inclusive as of late, which is weird because until only a few years ago metal sort of just kept to itself. However, with the late September release of American metal band, Mastodon's new video "The Motherload" we see some new moves thrown in with the traditional Headbanging. People could argue that this is just reverse Headbanging but the dancers in this video are most definitely twerking. 

Now twerking has become a huge cultural phenomenon which has been part of many music scenes for years now but only really caught the eye of mainstream media when Miley Cyrus let loose at the 2013 VMAs. (And if you've been living under a rock for the past year, here is the performance in question.) In light of this video, all I can say is, here's hoping for a Mastodon/Major Lazer collaboration! 

Now what's even more inclusive is Japanese "Idol Metal" band, BABYMETAL! BABYMETAL is an attempt at combining the Japanese "Idol" genre with that of metal. Now for those of you who don't know, I did some research into "Idol" and found that it is something we have very prominently in the West, but we just don't have a name for it. "Idol" refers to a manufactured group or solo act of young (Sometimes very young) attractive stars or starlets who sing and dance. These groups are very similar to our Boy Bands or Girl Bands like One Direction, The Backstreet Boys or Atomic Kitten (Man I used to love Atomic Kitten!)

BABYMETAL started out in 2010 and only in early 2014 did they release their debut self titled album "BABYMETAL". Their sound has been designed to make Metal appeal to the teen and preteen Idol/J-Pop audience, and they seem to have done a damn good job of it peaking on charts across the glob and even reaching Number 1 on the US World Album Bilboard charts. The market reasoning behind BABYMETAL is that this is a completely untapped market. I kinda remember the Adult Swim show "Metalocalypse" doing a very similar thing... But for fish.

In BABYMETAL's live music video, "Gimme Chocolate" we can see exactly what the band is all about, but at the same time it raises more questions like, is that Mary in the background? What on earth could 3 teenagers have to say about chocolate for an entire 4 minute song? And what are the backing band wearing?

I personally think the video is great and I really hope it blows up on the web the way Gangnam Style did. I'm also loving the new Mastodon video, if not just for it's weirdness. Here's a link to a great article where one of the dancer's gives her insight into what it was like to actually be in the video and of course the controversy surrounding the video. Because you know how metal heads don't like change.

Thanks a lot for the read, if this gets any attention I'll try and return my interests to this blog and maybe make something really cool out of it.

For those of you who didn't get my hilarious Major Lazer reference, watch this but be warned, it's kinda fucked up. Major Lazer- Pon De Floor

Xtian Zzyzx

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