Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am, by and large, not a huge fan of anime. For the most part it seems to target a particular demographic of which I am not a part, and furthermore I find it annoying that many terrible shows will become popular for no other reason than being a part of that format. That said, there are certain anime shows from which I have derived great enjoyment.

Cowboy Bebop, for example, was a show that I absolutely loved. It had an interesting enough story to pull it together, but most of the episodes stood alone quite well. It's use of music is arguably amongst the best in television history, and its visual sense was far better than most anime I've seen. Far and away, though, the greatest thing about Cowboy Bebop was its characters. Sure, Ed was little more than comic relief designed to appeal to younger viewers. Past that, though, the leading characters were probably the best any anime has ever had. Jet's odd combination of hard-boiled film noir detective, bounty-hunting cyborg, and caring paternal figure made him a very unique character in the anime world both stylistically and behaviorally. Faye, who could have easily fallen into that "sexy dangerous woman with her own agenda" role that we've all seen 500 times too many is instead given an actual past, skill set, and collection of human flaws that make her deeper and far more interesting than most leading female action characters. And Spike, as corny as it may sound to say about a cartoon character named "Spike", is so compelling and fascinatingly complex that I think a good case could be made for including him on a short list of the greatest fictional characters of the 20th century, regardless of format.

A somewhat lesser know anime which I found highly worthy of praise was Ergo Proxy. That one is a tad tricky, though, since by its very nature it could never develop much of a following. It seems that the vast majority of rabid anime fans in the US are in the roughly 12-16 age range, give or take, and as is the case with most things teens flock to, most of the rest of us avoid it like the plague. The trouble with Ergo Proxy is that it's geared toward an adult audience. By that I don't mean that its content is especially lewd or graphic, though it does have a reasonable amount of violence. Rather, it should be watched by adults simply because I don't think most 14-year-olds would be able to understand it. It's too slow and too complex for younger viewers, who will almost invariably either get bored or confused or both. As such, I've noticed the show tends to have a sort of cult following, with those rare anime-watching adults who've seen it singing its praises, while the unwary teens who have picked it up all complain that it's "boring" or "confusing" or "not as good as [insert thing with lots of boobs and explosions here]" etc. Well for anybody over 18 who, like me, is still a big enough geek to occasionally dabble in anime: if you want proof that anime isn't just for pervs and weeaboos, I submit Ergo Proxy as Exhibit 1. And I say that realizing that I've given you no idea what the show is even about. I guess that's just a mystery you'll have to decide whether or not you care enough to solve.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Business Writing

I honestly don't know how my brother manages to sit through all those business related classes. I had my Writing for the Workplace class tonight, and I was so bored I thought I might have died and gone to purgatory. I applaud all those brave souls who manage to sit through 4 years of that kind of thing and emerge as sane individuals on he other side, because frankly I couldn't deal with that.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring 2011

Well today was the first day of the spring quarter in school, so obviously that occupied the majority of my attention. I signed up for an Iart class with a teacher I absolutely love. He actually had a student smash a watermelon with a sledgehammer in class today. I took a different course with him a couple quarters ago, and I didn't even need this one. I just signed up for fun, which is a rare thing to say about a college course, but considering some of my other rather heavy courses this quarter, I think I'll be glad I grabbed that one to lighten things up a bit.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Fans of Swedish death metal are no doubt well acquainted with with the supergroup known as Bloodbath. And I'm equally sure that most such fans are aware that Bloodbath's sound is purely intended to be a throwback/homage to the old days of Swedish death greatness, when titans like Entombed and Dismember roamed the icy reaches of the north in all their terrible glory. Well, I'm not going to claim that Bloodbath belongs amongst those greats, but they are very good at recreating that sound. At least, on their debut album "Resurrection Through Carnage" they were. Oddly, considering how much enjoyment I derived from that album, I never got around to picking up any of their other material. Until now. I just bought "Nightmares Made Flash", an interesting change since Mikael Åkerfeldt (who may have my favorite death growls of all time) is replaced on this record by Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy fame. Tägtgren is no lightweight, having both recorded and produced with great success in the Swedish metal world, but I still had my doubts about his ability to fill those shoes. So I popped the CD in, was greeted with "Cancer of the Soul", and promptly kissed my fears goodbye. Tägtgren brings a depth and ferocity that demonstrate yet again why he is so highly regarded. And the music itself, just like I'd hoped, is still heavy and crunchy, yet remains catchy as hell. If you're at all a fan of Swedish death metal and for some reason you (like me) have taken far too long to get around to this record, I'd suggest checking it out as soon as you get the chance.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When the Town is Closed

It's been pretty weird getting back here in the middle of spring break. Since the town is so heavily populated by college students (25,000 out of about 45,000 total) it's like a bizarre semi-ghost town. Court Street, the main center of activity on this side of town, is not only largely empty; it's actually mostly closed. That's right, the exodus for spring break is so big in this community that businesses actually shut down for the week. It just feels strange.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I just updated my Facebook picture for the first time in a couple months, and in so doing replaced the image of my previously rather tame facial hair with the 4 months of solid fur growth I'm currently sporting. The reaction was immediate. Within half an hour I'd had about 30 comments, with a battle taking place between 4 different people over whether or not I needed to shave. And I should note that these were not just those Facebook friends people have because they met at a party once, two years ago. In fact, I have known every person involved in that discussion for at least 10 years. And there they were, battling back and forth over facial hair that none of them had to wear, demonstrating yet again how bizarrely divisive beards can be.

I really don't understand the opposition. I'm not sure I ever will. I've heard theories, of course:

Some have claimed that many women hate beards because they represent something purely masculine and that they make their husbands and boyfriends shave to emasculate them. While I suppose I could see some psychological validity to that theory, it seems awfully dramatic for something so simple.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've heard women claim that men only grow facial hair when they're too lazy to shave, so it indicates laziness or slothfulness or some other comparable "-ness" that indicates that one is dirty and useless. While I'm certain there are cases where this is true, it seems so narrow minded that I like to believe people are above such generic profiling.

The reality behind the vehement opposition so frequently induced by beard growth is, as is often the case, probably somewhere in between these two extremes. But in a world where people routinely dye their hair, get tattoos and piercings, and wear all sorts of wild clothing and makeup it just seems totally bizarre to me that something which just grows naturally when you simply leave it alone can stir up so much fuss from so many people.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home Again

I just got back home tonight, so I'll be getting back to my regular posting habits now. The trip was fun. It's unfortunate that I don't get to see my friends more often, but at present that's just the way it is, so I enjoyed getting to hang out with them.

While I was in Virginia I bought Arkham Horror, which is a board game I've seen and seriously considered buying prior to this trip. In a game shop in Harrisburg I saw it for $15 less than the previous price I'd seen (yeah, it's one of those really complicated and expensive board games) so I decided to go ahead and buy it. I still don't have a real good feel for the gameplay just yet, but I think I'll enjoy it once I get the bumps smoothed out in my understanding of the rules. I have a few days of free time before classes start again, so I'll have plenty of opportunity to learn the game now that I'm back home.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quick Note

I've been occupied, as I already said I would be, but I just wanted to pop in and make a quick note that the 17th (Happy St Patrick's Day!) was officially 4 months for my beard growth.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hiatus and Weedeater

I'm going to have out-of-state visitors, followed by a trip of my own, over the course of the next 8 days or so. As such, I may or may not be posting any blogs during that time.

Also, today I finally picked up Jason... The Dragon. I'm listening to it right now, and so far I'm liking what I hear. The intro was an unexpected departure (was that from Conan, or am I just losing my mind?) which a kind of liked, and rest just sounds like Weedeater. Of course, I really enjoy Weedeater, so I see that as a very good thing. Also, while this doesn't really matter, I think it has my favorite cover art of any of their albums.

Much Better

Ok, so just to follow up on yesterday's post, things are much better today. I talked out the situation with my roommate last night and now that's all settled. I did well on my final exam yesterday, got my first good night's sleep in about 3 or 4 nights, got my deposit money back this morning, and got all my other schoolwork dealt with as well. So after the final I have in less than an hour I'll pretty much be done for the quarter. Plus my best friend is heading out from Minnesota and will be here tomorrow. All in all the stress is gone, the battles are over, and life is good again.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Before I even start, I should warn you that this entry is nothing but me complaining. If that doesn't interest you, don't bother reading any further.

This has been a pretty frustrating couple of days. I'm living in an off-campus college apartment, so it's privately run, but it's designed for use by students and as such has 1-year lease cycles and multiple bedrooms, each rented to a different person. Well, I found out a couple days ago that one of my roommates, who won't be living here next year I should add, has promised the apartment to a family which wants the whole apartment themselves. Great, he's promising my room to other people without asking me when I've still got the option to renew, which I wanted to do. After dealing with a few issues surrounding this, including a prospective change to the apartment next door into a room which he claimed was available, but which the other tenants refused to give me a concrete response about, I finally went in today and renewed my lease anyway. Now he's calling the office to complain that I'm somehow stealing this room in an apartment he wanted his friends to have. That's right. I'm wrong for choosing to stay living in the apartment I'm already in, when he knew full well that I was planning on living here and he went ahead and promised the place to somebody else anyway. Nice. I'm typically a pretty easy-going guy, but I have to admit that this situation is rapidly beginning to piss me off.

So anyway, when he finally stops complaining and actually addresses the issue, either he'll get his friends into the other 2 rooms of this apartment, or I'm going to have to scrounge up some roommates on my own to avoid having to carry the full payment on this apartment, which I just can't afford. Either of those options is acceptable to me, though I'd prefer not to have to do the work of roommate shopping, but it would be nice if he would stop trying to make me out to be the bad guy and just make a decision. In college towns, people find apartments for the upcoming school year quite early, so if I have to find replacements I'll need to know pretty soon so I can start looking while there are still people in the market for housing.

EDIT: I just got a call from the office saying my roommate brought somebody in to be the 3rd name on the lease. I don't know what he's doing about his room, but presumably he has decided to find friends to put in this apartment, which is good because now I won't have to hunt for roommates.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sure, I'm Biased. But...

I was surprised and happy with the way this track came out. Of course it's not professional caliber since it's just something my brothers and I work on now and then for fun, but I still enjoy this new song. I can't claim any direct involvement in this one; since I'm living about 200 miles away from them I don't actually appear anywhere on this song. All I did was supply the lyrics. But whatever, I like it, and since it's not like we're trying to market this stuff to anybody I guess it doesn't really matter what anybody else thinks.

If you're just curious, though, and you have a few minutes to kill, you're welcome to check out Blackened Shore. If you enjoy it, compliments are of course always welcome. And if you hate it I'm sorry, but no, you can't have your 3:45 back.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Trouble With Lists

Early last month I made a list of my top 25 favorite metal bands. I stated at the time how subjective and variable it was, and my recent listening patterns bear that out quite distinctly. What have I been playing recently? Well for one thing I've played a ton of old death metal, most of which I've covered in recent posts, and pretty much none of which made that initial list. What else? Well, I've been listening to Unleashed, Burzum, Enslaved, and Windir. The last two of those are bands I particularly enjoy, yet they are also absent from that list.

My point is, making a list like that can be hard, and no matter how much effort you put into it or how effective it may be as a general guide, there are going to be holes. Looking at it, I can understand why I included all the bands I did, yet half or more of them haven't been getting any play on my ipod in the past month, while other bands which I could also consider for such a list have been blasting away almost non-stop.

On a side note, the new Weedeater came out this month, as did the new Burzum, and Vintersorg and Amon Amarth are releasing their newest albums in a couple weeks. Good stuff, hopefully.

Beard TV

I just learned that IFC is planning a reality show based on competitive bearding! Evidently it follows several participants in last year's nationals in Bend, through the upcoming WBMC in Norway. They're calling it Whisker Wars. No word yet on a premiere date, and it's not exactly like this is incredibly high-profile so I doubt they'll be putting any major rush on it. I for one, though, am looking forward to seeing this thing happen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Death Metal Extravaganza

Or, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Review the Underrated Death Metal Albums."

Ok, so I've been digging and playing a lot of stuff recently, and rather than drag things out I'm just going to throw a pile of what I think are underrated death metal albums out there all at once. I've bypassed a few of these out of concern that they might be better known than I think they are, but in the end I guess that's ok. If somebody is introduced to something new and interesting, then it will be fine if several of my selections here are familiar to other readers. I'll attach more *s to the ones that stand out to me as something special, but don't interpret getting just one * as meaning the album is bad. If I thought it were bad, it wouldn't be on this list at all. Also, I haven't added an album by The Chasm because I can't decide on which one to choose, so even though they're not on the list, definitely check them out if you get the chance.

The Ending Quest*****
by: Gorement
This is really a fantastic Swedish death metal record, and it's one that just doesn't get enough attention. Unfortunately for Gorement, despite the fact that they formed in 1989, the same year as Swedish death greats Entombed, it was not until 1994 that they finally released their lone full-length album. Had it come just a few years earlier, this record would stand proudly beside Left Hand Path, Into The Grave, and Like An Ever Flowing Stream as a great pillar of Swedish death metal, but instead it has been relegated to relative obscurity.

by: Apophis
(Special thanks to METALLATTORNEY for this one.) Apophis are a brilliant German death metal band with an Egyptian theme. Before you start screaming "Nile!" I should point out that Apophis came first, and in my opinion they are better. I should note, though, that they don't dive full-bore into the Egyptian instrumentation and everything, so in ways they are related to ancient Egyptian metal the same way Amon Amarth are to Viking metal.

Epitome of Darkness****
by: Repugnant
This was released relatively recently, in 2006. Repugnant are a Swedish group who pull influences from throughout the long tradition of Swedish death metal, and they combine those influences with a thrashy approach that makes this feel simultaneously "old school" and totally fresh. I deeply hope they get signed again so they can release a new album before the magic totally fades.

Slumber of Sullen Eyes****
by: Demigod
Finland's Demigod released this debut album in 1992. It's a small step removed from the classic Swedish albums from just a year or two before, and the influence of those records is quite evident here. Still, this is a product of a time when that sound was still fresh, and the overall sound of the record is excellent.

by: Rottrevore
A somewhat forgotten death metal group from Pennsylvania, Rottrevore released a couple EPs but just one full-length, in 1993. This is good, brutal American death metal from before the flood of Suffocation clones totally clogged the arteries of that particular sub-genre.

Blood Rapture***
by: Vomitory
Surprisingly, for a band with such a horrible name, Vomitory have been one of the more consistently strong death metal groups in Sweden for years. It's my opinion that 2002's Blood Rapture is their strongest outing so far, but honestly they have 7 albums out and I don't think you can really go wrong with any of them.

Dark Recollections***
by: Carnage
1990's Dark Recollections could almost be considered the first Dismember album. Dismember had temporarily disbanded, and three of the members took up residence in Carnage, with Michael Amott on guitars. Amott left for Carcass after this release, and Dismember reformed, permanently laying Carnage to rest. With that bit of background, though, you can pretty much guess what this sounds like.

Last One On Earth**
By: Asphyx
This Dutch group has been around since 1987, and this was their sophomore release. Slower, grinding riffs and a few fairly long songs give this a slightly doomy feel, and the raspy vocals remind me of early Malevolent Creation. I somehow suspect that this will be one of the releases more people know, so I'll leave it at that.

Festering Earth**
by: Funerus
Ok, this is one definitely leans in a doom direction. It's also one of the few death metal groups to have a woman in a central founding role in Jill McEntee (wife of Incantation's John McEntee, who has taken over guitar duties). Festering Earth was their only album, released in 2003. It's slow, heavy, and kind of groovy sounding.

Fornever Laid to Rest**
by: Seance
It's hard to dig into the death metal vaults without overloading on Swedes, so here is yet another offering from the land to the north. Released in 1992, this is a good, solid entry that does pretty much what you would expect a good death metal album from early '90s Sweden to do. There's nothing wrong with that.

Some others to look at if you just feel like digging:

The Shadowpath*
by: Moondark

Screams of Anguish*
by: Brutality

Plunge Into Oblivion*
by: Vermin

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Underrated Death Metal Pt.3

((EDIT: I am going to lie to you in this post,
since I have already abandoned the plan I set forth
here in favor of just covering a bunch of albums at
once. See my post: Death Metal Extravaganza))

Ok, I initially planned on just running this feature (or whatever you want to call it) for a few days then stopping. Well, after just 2 days I moved on to other things and I figured that would be the end of those, especially since I couldn't really determine how many of the albums I'd planned on covering are really that unknown to serious fans of death metal. But there are so many things I could cover. Well, now I've made a decision. Periodically when I decide that something fits the bill, I'll just throw up one of these posts to cover that album. And today that's what I'm going to do. Also, I may end up relaxing my standards for obscurity a bit and risk talking about bands that readers already know, just so I can cover some really strong albums in the future.

On a side note, I've noticed that recently this seems to be morphing into a metal blog. That's not really intentional, and I wouldn't call it a "new direction" either. This is the only blog I keep, so basically it's just going to be about whatever I happen to be in the moo to write about, whether that happens to be music, movies, beards, video games, or anything else for that matter. Recently my favorite topic has been metal, but that can change on a whim. It probably will from time to time, but since my basic interests are likely to stay pretty much the same, if I've talked about something once, odds are I'll come back to it again at some point.

Anyway, today's underrated death metal album is Edge of Darkness by Contorted. This is a good, rootsy brutal death metal release from 2005, and it's extremely hard to find now. Despite being active since 1997, this is also Contorted's only full-length album. I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but in my opinion it's stronger than many similar records I've encountered. It also gets extra "underrated" brownie points for being so totally and weirdly unknown. Oh, and the sick album art never hurt anything, either.

Folk/Viking/Pagan Metal

I have heard it said that drawing a distinction between Viking metal and folk metal is totally arbitrary. That the two are really just alternate names for the same sub-genre. Unfortunately, the labeling process is often complicated by this approach. I am not one who feels that everything needs to fit into a small, specific category. However, when trying to differentiate between two different things, having such labels available can be rather handy. Believe it or not, there are actually differences between these sub-genres, though they aren't always the type of distinct and exclusive differences you encounter between, say, death and power metal. It's more like the subtle break-over point between proto-black thrash bands and full black metal: sometimes the lines are blurry. Still, there are bands which clearly fall into specific categories within these styles. Bathory played Viking metal. Falkenbach play Viking metal. Korpiklaani, on the other hand, are clearly and distinctly a folk metal band. The whole "pagan metal" thing is really more of a re-labeling effort than a distinct style, but it has become a nice catch-all term for bands like Wolfchant who clearly fall into that general realm of music but don't readily fit into either of the previously existing categories. This is particularly true of bands whose styles and themes fit within the sphere of folk metal but who don't employ any folk instrumentation.

Between Viking and folk, though, there are often distinct differences. Viking metal is designed to sound "epic". Sound effects with clashing swords and crashing surf often appear. Songs are typically lengthy narratives. Deep-voiced male chants, battle-horns, large bells or gongs, slow tempos, and significant doses of reverb are all frequently employed to create mental images of golden halls and Viking battles. There are bands that take a faster, harsher, more aggressively stripped-down approach, but those are typically the bands that blend partially into the black metal scene. On the other end of the spectrum, significant use of violins and pipes, as well as more upbeat tempos, are sometime employed. Those are the bands that blur the lines into folk. Folk metal, in general, uses such instruments quite heavily, along with assorted other acoustic instrumentation native to their specific region, and while perky upbeat tempos are by no means essential, they are relatively common. Traditional folk melodies of the band's nation are often employed as well.

Really, the whole feel of Viking and folk metal are quite different from one another. For the starkest possible illustration of this difference, I would suggest listening to the songs "One Rode to Asa Bay" by Bathory, then "Wooden Pints" by Korpiklaani.

Well, with all that being said, it's rare to find somebody who loves Viking metal and hates folk metal, or vice-versa, especially considering that the preponderance of folk metal is from northern European countries and thus exhibits many similar tendencies to Viking metal. There are a number of interesting exceptions to that rule (particularly tribal metal) but I'll save that for another post. For now, I'll be lumping all my Viking/pagan/folk offerings together and presenting you with a handful of these bands which I really enjoy but which you may never have heard of before.

Gernotshagen - I love this band, or at least their present state. These Germans have only released 2 albums since their formation in 1999, and I'd be lying if I said their debut was brilliant. Their 2008 release "Märe aus Wäldernen Hallen", however, is fantastic and largely unknown.

Svafnir - This German project, primarily a one-man band, is responsible for a small scattering of recordings, including the excellent EP "Aufbruch". Surprisingly soft, and mostly instrumental, that record is a brilliant piece of music that is definitely worth hearing.

Galar - These Norwegians have released two full-length albums since their formation in 2004. Both are solid and worth checking out if you're looking to explore this area further. Since they lean quite heavily toward the black metal end of the spectrum, they make a nice transitional tool for people who aren't quite ready for the fiddles and pan pipes just yet.

Mistur - Another batch of Norwegians, Mistur finally released their full-length debut in 2009. Strom, guitarist from both Windir and Vried, is a member. The influence shows heavily. I would almost be inclined to call Mistur "Windir Jr", but that may be a little premature.

Grimm - Occasionally they'll play with synths to create a slightly unusual sound, but more often they're just a solid Dutch folk/pagan metal group.

Klabautamann - Germans who seem to have made a minor splash with their newest record, 2009's Merkur. Like Enslaved, it's kind of debatable whether they're far enough into the folksy side of things to really fit here rather than just being a progressive black metal band. Still worth checking out if you like either of those styles, though.

Grívf - A definite oddity, Grívf are a one-man Danish funeral doom/Viking metal band. It's a unique approach which frankly works extremely well in my opinion. Also rather oddly, Grívf has released only 3 full albums but did so in a span of less than two years in 2006-2007.

Nomans Land - These guys are a really catchy, fun Viking metal group from Russia. I'd personally recommend Hammerfrost as an extremely enjoyable record.

Nastrandir - One of those bands that falls into "pagan metal" for lack of a clearer title, Nastrandir are yet another pack of Germans. They're a good, solid, representative band within the generally blackened-but-definitely-not-pure-black realm of the Viking/pagan/folk metal world.

Kroda - I almost feel guilty including Kroda because of their Nazi-esque political stance, but musically they are just too good to exclude from this list. If you're not the type to let the personal activities of bands bother you, this Ukranian group is fantastic and warrants checking out immediately. "Fimbulvinter" is where I would go first, but as long as you stick to the studio albums, you really can't go wrong.

Assorted essentials: Bathory, Thyrfing, Vintersorg, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Månegarm, Ensiferum, Windir, Enslaved, Korpiklaani, Turisas, Skyclad, Cruachan, Suidakra, Eluveitie, Moonsorrow, and Ulver are all bands you should know if you're interested in this type of music. If there are any unfamiliar names here, I would strongly suggest you give them a listen. Some of these bands have morphed their styles at various points, though, so do a little poking around before you just grab something, especially if it's by Bathory or Ulver. I'm sure there are others I could list in this "essentials" category that are just escaping me at the moment, but if you're new to these sub-genres, there should be enough names here to give you a good start.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Metal Band Logos

Logos for metal bands can be a tricky thing. It's easy to get caught up in looking spiky and gory and evil and spider-web-y to such a degree that your logo is not only impossible to read, it also becomes virtually indistinguishable from all the other similar logos of other metal bands. On the other hand, if you don't really do much with your name, it's pretty boring to look at. A good balance can be struck, and here I have listed some of my personal favorite metal band logos with links so you can check them out if you so desire. There are many many more great metal logos out there. Some I know, some I don't, but I don't want to spend hours putting this post together, so I'm going to stop at 20. Also, I should note that I'm avoiding those bands which are so well known that even outside the metal community their logos are familiar.

Obituary have had a few slightly different variations of their logo over the years, but it has retained the same basic design. This particular variant is my personal favorite, and it might be the best death metal logo that exists.

Necrophagia changed their original logo, and I think it was a good move because I love this newer one. It's one of my top few favorites.

Vomitory have actually achieved something pretty noteworthy, in my opinion. They have managed to create a cool band logo despite having it spell out one of the stupidest sounding names in the business.

Månegarm have one of my favorite band logos. It's unique, legible, and awesome looking without being overly complex.

Woods of Ypres's logo is appealing to me, but I have to admit I'm not exactly sure why. For whatever reason, I just like it.

Wolfchant laid out their logo in a slightly odd way, but it still looks cool, and even though my brain initially rejected the idea for some reason, it's perfectly legible.

Windir are basically cool on every level, and their logo is no exception. It's kind of primitive when you really look at it, but that just adds to the Viking appeal.

Katatonia unfortunately stopped using their original logo. Typically I shy away from such overly goth-looking designs, but I really liked that one.

Opeth not only has a cool and distinct logo, they have one which suits their music extremely well. The logo is essentially the visual image of a band, and in Opeth's case, the image you get is the right one. Also, my younger siblings claim that the "O" in Opeth's logo is the single coolest looking letter in existence.

Moonsorrow are another band with a logo that fits their music perfectly. It may strike some as a bit plain, but I think it works really well for them.

Amon Amarth didn't get too fancy, but you can picture that logo branded on the One Ring. I'm just enough of a nerd to think that's awesome.

Bolt Thrower are possibly the ultimate example of how a logo really needs to be personalized to represent the band to which it belongs. They're like the Manowar of death metal, after all, and that logo could only work for such a band.

Mayhem are a band which I have never liked. I have to admit, though, that their logo is excellent. It's instantly recognizable, evil looking, crude in the most appropriate-for-black-metal way possible, and still easy to read.

Unleashed have a good logo, despite how overused the upside-down cross look has become in metal. Their logo just looks cold, sharp, and dangerous. For Swedish death metal, that's perfect.

Korpiklaani's logo is just very folksy and welcoming. That's an odd effect in the metal world, but considering how many of their songs are about drinking, it should come as no surprise that their logo makes me want to sit down and have a pint with them.

Ensiferum just have a very epic warrior type thing going on, with a logo to match.

Blut aus Nord don't really use their logo on their albums, but they should. It looks awesome.

Horna might just exist to prove that I can think a band are totally stupid, yet still appreciate their wickedly occult looking logo.

Songe d'Enfer may be an unusual sounding name for a band, but their logo is flat-out amazing. It's too bad they haven't released anything but a DVD since adopting it.

Falkenbach seems like a perfect band to round out this list. There's a lot going on in that logo, most of it pretty cool, yet it somehow manages to avoid looking too grossly cluttered and busy.

EDIT: Make that 21. There are still plenty of other good ones I haven't included, but I just had to add Death. Their omission from this list was driving me nuts.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Last Minute Schoolwork

Well it's just about 3:30am, and I just finished writing a paper I was assigned over a week ago that is due in the morning. Oh, the glories of college! In all reality, though, I temporarily lost my cool about 15 minutes ago and probably woke up my roommates by cussing at my computer. After 4 hours or work I was quite literally a matter of seconds away from saving the finished paper to my flash drive and calling it a night, and suddenly my computer just shut down out of nowhere. I will not be repeating any of the language this caused me to employ, but suffice it to say I was displeased. Fortunately autosave kicked in and rescued my work, placing it high on my personal list of the greatest things of any kind to ever exist. So after saying a prayer of thanks for the preservation of my efforts, I decided to record these events for anybody who cares enough to be reading this. Now it's time for bed, so thank you and good night.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bearded Dopplegangar

The "you look just like" thing really is a source of endless entertainment. I got called Charles Manson again, and just this morning I was told I look like Zach Galifianakis. It's funny how easily one feature (like a beard) can come to dominate people's perception of how someone or something looks.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Recently I've been debating with myself over whether or not I want to go get my first tattoo. I've been considering it for a while now, but I still haven't gone and actually done it. I think the biggest reason is that I have so many different ideas about what exactly I would want to get, and I'm feeling the need to narrow them down. I don't want to get covered in tons of them, so have to be careful and weed out all the mediocre options so I'm really sure of what I want before I actually go get one. In any case, I'm sure it's only a matter of time, but I've been kicking it around a lot today so I figured I'd mention it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Underrated Death Metal Pt.2

Harvest Ritual Volume I -by- Necrophagia

Formed in 1984, Necrophagia released their debut album a few months before Scream Bloody Gore in 1987, yet they have never received the credit the deserve as a pioneering death metal group, perhaps due to their remote Ohio location. Their recording career has been relatively sparse, punctuated by a lengthy breakup. In 2005 they released Harvest Ritual, which is atmospheric and weird, but still built on a foundation of rock-solid old school death metal, making it a mature, extremely high-quality album.

Still Suffering -by- Catafalc

Estonia's Catafalc formed in 1999, but have only released two full-length albums to date. This 2008 offering is pretty much a straight-forward, gory-as-hell brutal death metal album. It is, however, of very consistently good quality. There are some good catchy riffs, a few solos, solid drumming and vocal performances, pretty much everything you would hope for in this type of album. This record won't change your mind if you don't already like the sub-genre, but it's a strong release by a band with which nobody seems to be familiar.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Underrated Death Metal Pt.1

That favorite death metal bands post got me thinking. And digging. And reevaluating. And in the end, largely inspired by a similar feature done on the METALLATTORNEY blog, I have decided to briefly cover some of what I believe to be the most underrated death metal albums. I won't talk about anything by Apophis or The Chasm, despite the fact that they belong in this discussion, for two reasons. Firstly, I already listed them in my Top 25 post last month. Secondly, they were both already covered in this same context on the METALLATORNEY blog in a 2-part post, so if you would like to learn more I would suggest following the link I provided to the first of those two posts. As for what I will be covering, I don't know exactly how many albums I will do, but I'll probably post 2 or 3 albums a day for the next couple days. Anyway, rather than worry about the numbers, let's dive right into the music!

Serenadium -by- Iniquity

Denmark's now-defunct Iniquity formed back at the end of the '80s, but it wasn't until 1996 that they finally released their first of three full-length albums. That album, however, was one of the catchiest, best sounding entries into the brutal death metal world I've ever heard. Sure, I tend to regard just about any brutal death metal band as a Suffocation clone, but there are a few that don't quite fit that mold. This would be one of those few. On a side note, at times the vocals remind me a bit of Vader.

Bloodchilling Tales -by- Sorcery

Formed in 1986 and still technically active today, the Swedish band Sorcery have only released one full-length in that time, back in 1991. Slightly thrashy and not overly complex, this is one of those Swedish death metal bands that was good enough to get a record out and establish a bit of a following but they never quite broke through to join the ranks of the better known bands on the scene. Still a good album if you're ever in the mood for some good older death metal that you might not have heard.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beards make you look like...

As I have stated here before, it's amazing how the simple act of growing a beard will suddenly earn you all sorts of uninvited comparisons with other people who you evidently now look exactly like because they also have a beard. Well today was a good day for that. The director at my music meeting kept referring to me as Kaczynski. Another person noted that they should carve a swastika into my forehead because of my shocking resemblance to Charles Manson. Charming, no? There was a third comparison thrown out there as well, but sadly I cannot remember what it was. I do recall, though, was that it wasn't terribly flattering either. Fortunately I've been going through a bit of a Buddhist phase recently, so I found it somewhat amusing rather than getting worked up over it. In any case, I just thought I would share that with you and offer this advice: If you're growing a beard (or have any other aspect of your appearance that people feel the need to comment on) don't get annoyed or frustrated. They're going to make remarks whether it bothers you or not, so just relax try to have fun with it. People will like you better for having a sense of humor, and you'll be in a better mood most of the time when you can laugh off that kind of thing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Old School Death Metal

I noticed, looking back over my top metal bands list, that there was a notable absence of real traditional death metal on there. That's not really fair to those bands, since I quite enjoy a great deal of "real" death metal, and I just wasn't in that particular frame of mind when I wrote the list. So today I decided to remedy that and put together a top 10 list of my favorite old school death metal bands.

First, though, I think I should mention the fact that I typically dislike the term "old school". I feel that it gets thrown around arbitrarily and inaccurately far too often, so I usually try to avoid it entirely. However, when discussing death metal, it feels almost essential, since calling it "traditional" sounds weirdly stiff and formal to me, and if I just say "death metal" without a qualifier, I open the discussion to everything from At The Gates to Job For a Cowboy, and those just aren't the type of music I'm talking about. So, for '80s and early '90s straightforward death metal, I'll go ahead and use the term "old school". Also keep in mind that, as with my other list, this is pretty flexible depending on my mood and the particular day. And there are a few major omissions but there shouldn't be many (if any) names on here that any seasoned fan of death metal would be unfamiliar with.

Anyway, on the the list!

My Top 10 Favorite "Old School" Death Metal Bands:

10. Benediction
Keeping in mind that this is a rough and thoroughly flexible list, I decided to start things off with a bit of a curveball. One of the few good British death metal groups I've ever heard, if you're unfamiliar with them but would like to give them a listen I'd personally recommend The Grand Leveller as a good place to start.

9. Death
I just wouldn't feel right about making this list and not including Death. If you're bothering to read this post at all then I have to assume you have at least a passing familiarity with death metal. If you do, I really don't need to tell you about Death.

8. Immolation
The odd thing about Immolation is that I actually like their newest album better than any of their old material. The good thing about that, though, is that I know there is at least one old death metal band still releasing material that I'm willing to seek out and buy.

7. Suffocation
The onslaught of brutal death metal that Suffocation left in their wake is rather annoying at times, but they do deserve a certain amount of credit for being a band that did something different in the genre. Besides, they put on one hell of a live show.

6. Obituary
This is a weird one for me, because the only thing I'm not crazy about with the is the vocals, which tend to be the most talked-about element of their sound. Tardy's vocals are certainly unique, but it's the guitar that grooves along and draws me in so much. Plus, Frozen in Time was the first "real" death metal album I ever bought, so Obituary opened a lot of musical doors for me.

5. Entombed
The central pillar of Swedish death metal had to make an appearance somewhere on this list. Fifth feels about right. If you haven't heard Left Hand Path, you probably don't like death metal.

4. Bolt Thrower
For some reason, Bolt Thrower material is almost totally absent from my musical collection. I guess it's just that I play songs off YouTube so often that I don't always feel the need to go get the actual albums themselves. In any case, Bolt Thrower, the pinnacle of British death metal, was one of the first old school death metal bands I really got into when I hit that stage of my metal development.

3. Autopsy
Is it creepy that I find their songs extremely soothing? If so, I guess I'm just a creepy guy. For whatever reason, when I pop Mental Funeral on I immediately feel mellowed out and relaxed.

2. Grave
They may not be quite as well known as their Swedish compatriots Entombed, though they are still a very familiar name to any real death metal fan. Their deeper, more sluggish approach to the typical Swedish death metal sound is extremely appealing to me. If you aren't familiar with them, Into The Grave is their one truly essential album.

1. Incantation
Granted, I don't own most of their material. But when I think of "real" death metal at its best, Onward to Golgotha so totally dominates the thoughts that come to mind, I would probably be willing to put Incantation at the top of this list even if they had never released a single other song.

p.s. I am distinctly aware that I just listed my ten favorite old school death metal bands and I didn't include Morbid Angel. I realize what a crime this probably constitutes within the death metal world, so I just felt it necessary to note that I do like Morbid Angel, but on this particular day they fell just short of the top ten for my personal taste. Dismember and Malevolent Creation were also bands that I originally thought would make this list, but somehow when cutting time came there just wasn't enough room.