There’s been a lot of effusive wordage spilled about this band in redjacket pages past, so interest of avoiding redundancy: Just go to the damn show. Especially if you have an affinity for Springsteen, Lynott, or whoever the hell that guy from the Gaslight Anthem was. Listen:
Music starts at 10. Disclaimer: If your ideal evening of live music involves some quaintly-Minnesotan combination of beards, mandolins, and unnecessary scarves, bring earplugs.
Speaking of earplugs, it’s New Metallica Day, and old kids like me were mildly excited to hear the band’s first new record since 2008’s dull-ass goodwill gesture Death Magnetic. For the most part, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct continues that album’s core mission: turning Metallica from a band that attempted to flirt with artistic relevance and crossover appeal into one that just plays the fuckin’ hits, maaaaaaan.
The Classic Rock Act transformation is completed here, as they rely on familiar, self-aware riffs to tick as many fanservice boxes as they can. Sometimes it works, and it doesso at a higher rate than Death Magnetic. But sometimes it feels contrived, and like everything this band has done since 1988, it’s WAY too long, which makes the Load meets Sabbath Bloody Sabbath vibe of the mid-paced tracks an absolute chore.
But there are some true bangers here in the form of “Atlas, Rise!” and “Spit Out the Bone,” proving that Dad Thrash is alive and well:
Anyway, yeah. Play some air guitar tonight and get hype.
See you Saturday, Mankato.
The only thing worse than opening a blog post with an apology for a lack of updates is continuing that post with a litany of reasons as to WHY said blog has been ignored by its curator.
I’ll meet you halfway by skipping the apologies and getting straight to the excuses.
Before I start whining, it’s best to retrace our steps: The entire premise of RJKT was/is peer into our city’s nightlife and culture. It’s never pretended to be all-encompassing, but its limited scope was usually dependent on my ability and/or enthusiasm for getting out and doing things.
During the month of October, I went full-on hermitcore. I didn’t go out, I didn’t talk to people, and I sure as shit didn’t write. (Well, that’s not entirely true, but more on that later.) Lots of cool things were happening around town, but due to my the seasonal demands of my dayjob–which involves coaxing literally hundreds of temporary laborers into schlepping Star Wars memorabilia at maximum speed, for 60+ hours each week–I locked myself indoors.
Usually, my seclusionary tactics were the result of sheer exhaustion. But often, I felt defeated. My rhythms and routines had been ground underfoot and scattered into warehouse dust. My little pocket of the world had been thrown into chaos and doubt. Would I ever get out to a show again? Would my friends forget about me? Would I ever redevelop a taste for fruits and vegetables after spending an entire month surviving on donuts, Red Bull, and Pizza Ranch?
I was so, so close to losing hope. BUT I NEVER GAVE UP…
…on consuming degenerate art.
Without the therapeutic benefits of human interaction, I was forced to supplement my usual diet of heavy metal and beer with healthy doses of sci-fi in the following formats:
⦁ Last-gen video games
⦁ Hardcover pulp
⦁ Graphic novels
…and honestly, these nerd ‘roids were probably the only things from keeping me from being crushed under the wagon’s wheels.
So, in the interest of getting back on track, consider this the thank-you section of the liner notes for RJKT’s unreleased harsh noise triple-album, October Crust. After we slog through this together, we can return to our regularly scheduled programming: Publicly shaming under-educated bike lane opponents and grown-ass adults that still listen to nu-metal while previewing Kato events that don’t totally suck.
But first, THE SURVIVAL JAMS:
While albums from Clutch, Kylesa, and VHÖL received a ton of pre-release anticipation, the only intelli-heavy record from October to truly cash in on its massive hype was Deafheaven‘s New Bermuda. Next to Royksopp & Robyn’s “Do It Again,” “Luna” was the only thing that effectively charged my batteries when the coffee quit working.
Incidentally, it was an entire pot of dark roast (imbibed at noon) that powered my review of the record, which the Angry Metal Guy himself graciously allowed to desecrate his pages.
While lingering in the AMG offices, my friend and colleague Grymm’s delightfully OTT take on the new Killing Joke album, Pylon, caught my eye. While only a few cuts got me deep–“Big Buzz” being the sharpest–it reignited a love affair with their 2006 opus, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. New records from living legends don’t have to be revolutionary, they just have to stoke the flames.
Meanwhile, left field winds brought us fresh radness from Beaten to Death, who established themselves as the most effervescent band in grindcore with 2013’s Dodsfest! (which I also ranted and raved about at AMG). Their latest, Unplugged (which isn’t), whips their whims into tighter, more concise assaults, and the result is absolutely batshit.
But against all odds, the month’s king comes from the realm of death metal, as Dark Descent‘s crown jewel, Horrendous, crafted a masterpiece. Old-school DM has been the most played out sub-subgenre for ages now, especially if you still think “occult rock” has legs. But Anareta‘s blend of Asphyxiating vocal delivery, Atheist / Cynic prototech homages, and absolutely bonkers timechanges have prog-pushed the record into AOTY contention. (And actually, everyone’s favorite record-label-ad-revenue-driven heavy metal catalog, Decibel, recently crowned it as such.)
And now, some auxiliary acknowledgements, for without these non-aural cathartic devices, I’d have barely survived.
The copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution I swiped from We Got Game for $2.99 (TOP-NOTCH sci-fi stealth / RPG yarn that actually rewards you for not being a murderous shitbag, even when thrust into the cold machinations of a libertarian dystopia), bicycles, Transmetropolitan Volumes 5 and 6 (because the New Scum shouldn’t forget where they came from), bicycles, John Scalzi’s The End of All Things (proving that there’s serious legs left in the Old Man’s War saga), Fargo Brewing Company’s Wood Chipper IPA (get it?), bicycles.
NO THANK YOU / SLIT YOUR WRISTS AND LAUNCH YOURSELVES INTO THE SUN:
My janky bottom bracket, Scott Walker (the shitty one), big-ass trucks with North Dakota plates that don’t use their turn signals, Five Finger Death Punch, people that order Coors Light at Boulder Tap House, Wallace and Gromit, the loathsome old crank in the dark blue Nissan Xterra that tried to start a fight with me last winter (with his seat belt still fastened), solitude.
Whew. That felt good. You ready to do this again, Mankato?
Yeah, things have been quiet around these parts. But it’s about to get LOUD.
This Friday, the What’s Up Lounge hosts a show that I’ve been anticipating since Let It Breathe started kicking up smoke, an event that we should hope is the first brick in a bridge between the Mankato and Minneapolis stoner / doom scenes:
Before we dissect the lineup and give it the hard sell, let’s make a brief digression.
One of the things I’ve noticed since breaking free from the comforts of Internet music fandom is that, in the real world, loudrock still has a trash-ass reputation. In the last month, the River Valley endured Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach–pastiched, corporate rock whores that generate cash by covering classic rock songs that are still embedded in Clear Channel playlists–holding a much-ballyhooed bro-down in our hockey arena; meanwhile, the What’s Up opened their doors to a bunch of grown-ass men that are combining Tool tropes with chugcore nearly 15 years too late.
Nu-metal still lives in the Midwest. The JNCO nuclear apocalypse happened, but there are still Corey Taylor-worshiping cockroaches scurrying everywhere.
Proof? I was having a beer on Monday night in an empty bar, minding my own business, while two thirtysomething white males (in matching camo caps) assaulted the TouchTunes with Metallica‘s asstastic cover of “Overkill,” a whole lot of Korn, and something from Machine Head‘s ultra-maligned rapcore cashgrab Supercharger.
Whether it’s fair or not–and it’s not–these are the ambassadors of heaviness to the greater public. Despite the great lengths my friends and former colleagues have gone to promote forward-thinking, intelligent heavy metal via NPR, Pitchfork, PopMatters, and other outlets that have broader, crossover appeal, aggressive music is still standardized by dimwits that stopped challenging themselves in high school.
Don’t let that perception deter you from REVELING IN YOUR DOOM this Friday.
For the uninitiated, the best way to describe doom metal is this: Imagine that the lineage of heavy metal is a straight line from Black Sabbath, and the branches that sprouted from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Bathory, and Death never took root. All doom and stoner metal bands basically use Master of Reality as a touchstone, retracing the lines and filling in their own colors along the way.
Friday’s Mankato doomcrew consists of WarRooster and Let it Breathe, both of whom have been covered here ad nauseam. (Hey, gimme a break; I like riffs.) The two bands highlight the disparities within the subgenre; WarRooster’s take is peppy and uptempo, loaded with time changes and rollicking riffery, whereas Let It Breathe stretches things out, slow-boiling their strings in smoke while hammering away underneath.
The Twin Cities are exporting a pair of bands on the upswing. St. Paul’s Highgraves are practically infants, with only a single demo on Bandcamp (not ReverbNation; take note, strugglers). But they’ve already played with MN elite like Vulgaari and Wolf Blood, and landed an October gig opening for savage duo Black Cobra and critical doomlings Yob. Their demo is rough around the edges (it’s a freaking demo, people), but the heft is there, and intentionally or not, it’s scuzzy as hell.
But the real treat is Minneapolis’ Kult of the Wizard, who, after churning out a pair of instrumental recordings, made a splash on the national scene last year with The White Wizard. Receiving favorable (if lazy) comparisons to acts like Witch Mountain and The Devil’s Blood from the likes of Cvlt Nation and Decibel–as well as being featured in my former outlet, Last Rites–the band has been getting hyped from ‘heads in the know.
Mankato’s been blessed with the opportunity to watch them grow.
Be there or be doomed. (Actually, you’re doomed either way, BUT WHATEVER.)