Hardwired… to rise again.

Metallica fans are divided into two main groups.
One group is made of people who heard the “Black album”, snorted and cried “Sellouts!” then vowed never to listen to this band ever!11!!!1!~
The other is made mostly of people who loved the “Black album” and gave the band the chance it so truly deserved.
Then came “Load” and “Reload” which further split the camp into the disappointed and the not so much.
I think that St. Anger really reunited everyone behind the collective WTF and that was that. Hard core fans stayed and others sought (and destroyed) other outlets.
To be perfectly honest, I loved the “Black album”. I think it’s a masterpiece. I even liked “Load” and tolerated “Reload”. I loved “Garage Inc.” (who doesn’t?) and still think “S&M” is genius. Heck, I even bought “St. Anger“.
That was it for me though. It was fairly obvious their heart wasn’t really in it. I wrote it off as an exercise in staying together post-Hetfield-drama.
Then came “Death Magnetic” and I wasn’t impressed. I was beginning to think that Metallica was really done.
When “Hardwired… to self destruct” was announced I was very skeptical. It seemed like one more attempt to stay relevant.
Then I heard “Moth into flame”.
Suddenly, something moved. It was my head, moving down and up. Almost automatically. Like the good ole times. Then I heard “Hardwired”, same result. Then “Atlas, Rise!”. Same. Could… could it be?… Could this actually be a good album after a long while?
I decided to take the plunge and bought the album. I got the “delux” version with the extra CD, cause Metallica live is always awesome, regardless.
The following is written after 3 times of going start to finish.
The first thought that bounced through my head was that there’s a lot of correspondence with past albums. Not repetition, just shout-outs to previous pieces. There’s some “ride the lightning” and “Kill ‘em all”, some “Justice” and “Master”. Some of Kirk’s work is very “Black album” and James dances well between the old ones and the “loads”. A lot of things that simply ring true.
Metallica has always been somewhat unfairly judged. On the one hand they “got it” whenever something didn’t sound original enough, then when they dared to go off-road, they got it for “not being Metallica”… a bit of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
So my first impression is that the men found the golden path between repetition and innovation.
My second impression – or rather confirmation – is that James is one of those really underrated lyricists. This guy wrote some really good lyrics in the day. Really good. And in this album (not on every song, but that’s just fine) he sharpened his pencil again. “Atlas” and “Moth” are but two example of how metal-heads (like Black Sabbath before them) can write some beautiful words, and still rock the hell out of the song.
Is this album “Master” level? No. It’s not going to threaten the top 3 of all times list. It has its ups and downs (though nothing bad).
But this album sounds as honest as they come. I think they found what they were looking for (creatively), for the first time since Jason’s departure, and they sound Metallica enough, with the right sound, the right feel.

This is a true Metallica album, and I hope you buy it. The passion of this band to overcome some real difficulties and keep going was always admirable, and we never know what would be the last new helping we get from the best Metal band of all times (Yes, I said it!).
Rock on!

Mission from god – The Missing Pieces

Last week the muse struck me, as I was listening to some music. I wrote this post, drawing lines between writing a novel and making music. I hope you liked it.
But after submitting that post, it dawned on me that I’ve omitted a few critical puzzle pieces. I alluded to them in comment, but they are far too significant for me not to address with a bit more depth.
So, we put the band back together and we’re thinking about new materials, recording and with some luck, live concerts. We have everything we need for people to hear music. But there are just a couple of things we really should’ve thought about earlier…

Lead singer!

Extremely rare, are successful and popular ensembles which are not identified with a strong lead singer.
We’d love our fans to have a face for our band, don’t we? In literature, that is our protagonist, our hero. Our Kurt, or John, or Freddie. You get the picture. Someone to root for.
When Nirvana recorded ‘Nevermind’, the producer – Buch Vig – wasn’t happy with Kurt’s vocals as he did them. After some thought, he “tricked” Kurt into adding Dave Grohl’s backing vocal by telling him (the truth, I might add) that’s what The Beatles did. And the result? Kurt’s raspy, screech-y voice, layered with dave’s high pitched, downplayed backup. That in itself made that album as legendary as it is.
The same goes for our novel. One character does not a novel make. One needs some backup. And it could be a friendly figure, like little Steven to Bruce Springsteen – you know, to make it fuller. But it could be an antagonistic relationship – in fact, we must have that element. Axel without Slash and Duff? Give me a break.
But one thing’s important. Our band must have a clear voice. There is one, and only one lead vocalist.
Yes, The Beatles featured at least 2, but here is my reply:
  • The Beatles are legendary.
  • John sang this song with Paul backing and then Paul sang another while John backed him up.
  • John is the undisputed lead singer, and whoever says differently should be shunned! Or maybe not. You get the point.
Ah! But what about boy/girl bands?
Well, first of all they suck.
Besides, when everyone sings together, it could be harmonious, but it is normally either confusing or sounds downright bad. And even within these bands, every singer has his lines, his spots. Even in great choruses, there’s a lead.
I think we got that down.
And, perhaps the most important thing left to do… Write some damn songs! Put words in the mouths of the singers, teach the band members how to play, decide which style of music we want to do next.

Yes, that is you, the writer.

You decide what kind of music gets played. Is it upbeat? Slow romantic, perhaps classic? Is it loud? What kind of lead singer do you want? You’ve got to know this guy very well, you don’t want him to stop showing up for concerts or surprise you with uncharacteristic behavior – well not to the extent he breaks up the band at least.
Who are his backing vocalists? What do their relationships look like? How do they help him grow?
What are the songs about? Are they very personal? Are they politically infused? Is there something the band stands for?
There you go. Now we have the complete package, and once we’ve hired some vocalists and wrote the lyrics and the tunes, we can finally see the stage lights waiting for us to come up.

I hope you all get standing ovation.

Someone Call Billie Joe Armstrong

Hi everyone.

Not sure why, but this September has been very slow on this here blog. Well, I do have some pretty convincing reasons, not the least of which is being a busy little bee, plotting a novel. I also, you know, work and otherwise committed to householdy things, so there’s that. But even if I did have the time to sit and actually write a post, it seems like my brain (or that  part of it in charge of coming up with things to say) was as foggy as the Georgia skies have been these past weeks. Continue reading

Overdue Respect

Hi all and welcome back to my corner of the web.

Apologies for the recent slump. It’s due to some technical issues that are still ongoing (but being worked) as well as the flu. While I’m still not out of the woods on either front, I’m well enough to share a thought with you.

What’s on tap for today? Today is about a new-found respect. Continue reading