Tag Archives: Black Sabbath

13 – BLACK SABBATH – 2013

With ominous imagery and a typical vacuum Iommi riff we are off to the races!! Hello, everybody, tis’ a new Black Sabbath album with the original lineup except for Bill Ward who is replaced by Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine fame. 34 years in the making and here we are, quivering in anticipation. Oye, what is this I see in the opener, modern rock influences in riff salads around 4:00?? While crafted with care and devotion this song “The End of the Beginning” will not be timeless – and that, ladies and gentle men is the story of the day. The next song “God is Dead” makes heavy use of 70’s Sabbath tropes – a very enjoyable track that hearkens back to classics like “Lord of this World” and “Into the Void”. But there is something here that leads me to introspect.Black_Sabbath_13

Sometimes I fear that the emotional connection that I had with music I heard when I was 16 will never form again with the music I hear now. I do not know if I will ever again relish Sabbath like I did when I first heard “Fairies Wear Boots”. This works against the comeback albums of revered gods. We think that they will capture the spirit of the original zeitgeist, that we will be transported to a musty, ancient world that haunted as, that we will see a figure in black beckoning us to come closer. That this will not happen with 13 is not surprising – and maybe I find Morbid Angel to be more relevant than Sabbath – joyful head banging to “Electric Funeral” has been replaced by mournful introspection to the tune of “The Ancient Ones”.

The riffs are awesome and Ozzy is in good form – lucid and clear. However – I feel tired and washed out – for some reason the simple direct riffs, the Iommi hooks and the Butler bass interplay is not very enthusing. Where do we go from here, where music from hither? I like what’s next, a “Planet Caravan” esque ballad. It draws me in and amuses my mind for a few moments. Not bad. However, I have to switch off “13” when it gets over and listen to “Snowblind” and “Wheels of Confusion” to regain my confidence.

I guess Sabbath’s “13”, while technically perfect and made with the best intentions, fails to truly inspire my imagination. Enjoyable but with a mediocre shelf life, and that’s the bottom line.

Recommended Tracks – God is Dead, Zeitgeist, Loner.

-Baba T

Fuckin’ Death-DEATH STRIKE-1991

Somewhere between the proto black metal of Bathory and Celtic Frost-esque death lies the music of this forgotten band. Muddydeath_strike_1 production values, steady thrash tempo and shouted vocals in the style of 80’s hardcore punk – they make my throat sore. The “hooks” lie buried deep beneath the vocals – the ragged guitars are trying to carry the songs to their apocalyptic conclusion but like Pure  Holocaust era Immortal they try to create an irrefutable sense of hopelessness and doom through atmosphere.

Surprisingly enough the best cut on this slab of doom and despair is the aptly titled “The Final Conflict” which follows different rules for creating atmosphere – through escalating the tension and then coming back to the initial monster riff motif so as to create stark contrast.  (I have a feeling that somehow, “Fight Fire with Fire” was inspired by this)

What they were trying to do here is not to crush and alienate the listener through being, what the kids call, “brootal”, and their playing is not overtly technical though I have no doubts that they have the chops to play most things, sloppy even (something that was changed and addressed by Master, the band which arose from the ashes of Death Strike), what they try to communicate is pure helplessness and a nihilistic view of life in our present decaying society. All that is left after the buzz stops in its thudding fuzzy path is a satisfaction of having seen the world from a different lens.

The band disintegrate soon after this, but not before leaving an indelible mark on metal culture.

-Baba  T

Till I Die – 18 Motherfuckers You Should Listen to

What follows is a list of songs with a brief description. I found this in my mailbox while searching for something unrelated. This compilation was intended to be published here 3 years ago but we never got around to it, largely because we didn’t really care. This is just a bunch of songs that the authors find particularly awesome, therefore the absence of a presumptuous Rolling Stone styled heading ” The Greatest Rock Songs of all time”. They might or might not be. This was three years ago, so while I still like all the songs here, my perception and understanding has changed, but fuck that.The first 11 songs descriptions are clumsily described, displaying a very coarse understanding of music and some of the facts are wrong, so yes, those descriptions are written by me [Baba T] and the rest have gramatically correct english and a geeky turn of phrase [El Bajista]. I haven’t taken El’s permission to publish this so his picks might or might not have changed. While I still love Zep and Ramones, I would probably put Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia” in here too.

Instead of pictures of ugly dead men with moustaches, I threw in a few tepid pictures of pornstars in the mix. I couldn’t format the post properly, so I tired of doing that in between and just posted this shit. Whatver. And to just replicate every “Greatest Songs Ever!!” list ever made on this idiotic internet, the first song is [a Bonham drumroll please]…………

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

I would like to shove a fish into your cunt, you.

With this song the Zeppelin brought together the perfect mix of their brand of hard blues, theatricality, emotion and epic-ness to make one of the best songs ever. All things that make Zeppelin so good are here – the slow build up with Plant’s teary, airy-fairy vocals, then the introduction of Bonham’s clear as crystal, no-nonsense drumming and the cathartic solo of Page dominating the end. This is one case where you should believe the hype. As if the studio version wasn’t enough, they gave us the even more awesome, live version of this song on The Song Remains the Same, which sounds extremely spontaneous, with Page’s guitar hero antics suitably modified. The raw emotion of this song is seared on all our hearts forever.

Deep Purple – Child in Time

Writing about what makes this song click is a bit like trying to explain why 2 and 2 make four, but what the hell, I’ll try. Never mind all those people who try to emphasize that In Rock was perhaps the prototype for all of hard rock/metal. Never mind those people who only look at Ritchie Blackmore’s mind boggling, finger bending acrobatics on the guitar, which are pretty awesome in their own right. Never mind the high pitched, “I would die if I tried that” screams of Ian Gillan which gives this song all the urgency of an express train. Never mind Jon Lord’s atmospheric keyboards. Just look at it as an awesome melody. You will realize it as the greatest song in all of rock.

Doors – Break On Through (To the Other Side)

Takes more drugs than Morrison, somehow still alive. Now has taken to stripping for playboy who like to polish a turd every now and then.

The opening groove immediately gets you, and when Morrison barely seconds later breaks into the now iconic refrain of “Break On Through…..” you are hooked forever. One of the catchiest and horniest songs in the Doors catalogue, this is Morrison and the rest of band at their peak, what with the keyboard solo by Manzarek in the middle. People often prefer Light My Fire from the debut, and I won’t put up a fight, but tell me, which song is the best when drunk? This one undoubtedly, because you can friggin sing along for a good 3 minutes or so, dammit !! This is rock’n’roll with a capital R and that’s what this list is about.

Jethro Tull – Aqualung

Jethro Tull were such a goddamn versatile band that it’s tough for a novice like me to even begin explaining their influences and style. But that’s not we are about, damn you. We are about pinpointing the most sounding right things in the universe (we also don’t stick very strictly to grammar) and the solo that kicks in at about 3:27 is one of the most awesome things I have ever heard in rock music. The funny thing is that for a so called progressive rock band, Tull did not have that many pretensions. Aqualung is a simple, almost a good old timey rock’n’roll song with a wonderful “dee dee ree, de de de re reee” melody. The lyrical content is somewhat disgusting which makes me like it even more. Top of the class, Ian Anderson!! May your many flutes, trombones, mellotrons flourish for ever more!!

I’m Eighteen – Alice Cooper

Lemmy does whores like these for breakfast.

Need I really explain why this, this, song is so essential to your rock’n’roll listening experience? “I’m Eighteen / I get confused every day/Eighteen/I just don’t know what to say/Eighteen/ I gotta get away”. Isn’t this what was so good about rock? The spontaneity, the immediacy, the pure joy of being young? The simplicity, the airy-headedness?   Plus that harmonica line is pretty sweet.

Motorhead – Ace of Spades

Remember those times when your parents used to get pissed off because of Motorhead and you loved it? Remember when you had the authorities breathing down your neck and you recited “The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say” in your mind? The pure rawness, punkiness, ass-kickiness that is epitomized by this song is beyond description. Its like you just saw what rock’n’roll looks like, and it looked….awesome.

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

She does some really good porn.

You all know why this track is on the list. Any track that lays down the blueprint for metal deserves to be on the Top whatever, and surprisingly I’ve hardly seen this figuring anywhere in these types of compilations. You could argue that Supernaut has a catchier riff, and that Symptom of the Universe is less tedious and more varied or that Paranoid is the signature track, but nowhere, and I mean nowhere, do the spookiness, heaviness and the Ozziness come together with better effect. Plus, that Iommi solo which just smells of the blues and Satan at the end just seals the deal for me. Plus War Pigs can’t come on this list because they rhymed “masses” with well….”masses”.

Ramones – Blitzkreig Bop

If minimalism is an art form (which according to me it is especially in music), then Ramones can be considered the high priests of the same, and Blitzkreig Bop would be the anthem or whatever it’s called. Three chords, straightforward strumming, dirty production (which was certainly not on purpose), jangle jangle, bang bang, blitzkrieg bop!!!…and repeat. I suppose you could change this for almost anything else on the debut, Beat on the Brat, Sheena is Punk Rocker, etc. But come on, the chorus is unforgettable. I had a hard time picking a song from their catalogue, but nothing beats early Ramones.

 Pink Floyd – Time

It was hard to pick this ahead of Echoes, plus strictly speaking, Dark Side of the Moon is more than the sum of its parts, but man, Time. Most people would pick Money as the grooviest thing they have ever done, what with the Waters bass line and all, but look at this, its almost as if the guitar notes are bouncing. The way in which they use the sounds of clocks and then just segue into the opening beats to make way for the catchiest song they have ever done is just off the hook. The lyrics never got better than this, nor did the vocal lines, which you can’t stop singing. Yes, the song is depressing, but there ain’t no happy Floyd song anyway, so what the hell……..

King Crimson – Starless

When Robert Fripp actually wants to write songs he is an impeccable songwriter. When he doesn’t…..but that’s a discussion for another day. Their seminal album Red consists of only great songs and Starless is the greatest of them all. The melody is so sad it is surreal, the notes so plaintive that it is impossible to hear this when the sun is shining. The highlight is a one note solo played by Fripp for what seems an eternity, just increasing the intensity, note by note. The release, when it does come, is in the form of a jazzy outbreak of chaos which ultimately leads us back to the first theme. This has to be heard to be believed.

Simon n’ Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Waters

The best thing about the songs of Simon and Garfunkel was the heartfelt emotion. So whether they sang about a person who was emotionally moribund or whether the song was about their little town, they could actually make you feel the nostalgia or sweet despair, as the case may be. This song is about friendship, and I’ll be damned if everyone hasn’t cried at least once while listening to this song. Also, this might be Art Garfunkel’s best vocal performance ever, ever, and believe me you, that means something. This was also the guy who sang songs like America, Scarborough Fair, The Boxer, Mrs Robinson, I am a Rock, Cecilia, Feelin Groovy, Bookends, Sounds of Silence, Homeward Bound, A Most Peculiar Man……….

The Who – My Generation

This song established, first and foremost, what Rock n’ Roll is all about. Thrashing about and justifying it by shouting. I first heard it properly about a year and a half ago. This song, released in ’65 has more energy than any modern metal band you care to mention. There is so many firsts to this. The crystal-clear battle cry that is, “I hope I die before I get old”. Keith Moon’s drum destruction. And ladies and gentlemen, the first modern bass solo by John Entwistle. It’s a holy shit moment of a song which caught my then Dream Theater and Metallica saturated ears completely off guard. And then blew them apart. Straight up righteous rock ‘n roll will never come to life again. It will all be nostalgia and pastiche. Thankfully, Motorhead are still around and undead.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Little Wing

I am sure this is going to be controversial. Purists will say, why not ‘Purple Haze’, or ‘…Watchtower’ or his other major hits. All I can say is this. Listen to ‘Little Wing’. Just listen to it. Its heart-wrenchingly beautiful, with that long intro, and that vocal melody. And it ALWAYS (and I am not being over-sentimental here) leaves me feeling slightly sad. It’s too short. By god, it’s too short and it leaves you hankering for the replay button. Again, I’m going to have a little more a cry here. The first time I heard the first line (“Well she’s walking, through the clouds/ with a circus mind, that’s running round”), I SWEAR I was in love. Anybody who says that ‘Purple Haze’ is better, remember that Jimi’s songwriting is his biggest gift. And this is his biggest gift to us of all.

Metallica – Master of Puppets

Here it is the greatest heavy metal song ever. Atonal with that riff in F. Incredibly melodic in its middle section. Lyrics that established Metallica as the thinking man’s metal band. And a guitar solo that will grow you an extra pair of testes and increase your drinking capacity 10x. Everything that Metallica has come to mean to its millions of fans can be encapsulated in one bloody song. And a check on Wikipedia confirms writing credits to all four members of what is widely considered the greatest lineup: Hetfield, Ulrich, Burton and Hammett. Need I say more?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers – If you have to ask

So why did I choose this controversial one? Why not ‘Californication’, ‘Dani California’, or ‘Bloodsugar’? It’s because this song defines the Peppers. See, the uniqueness of the Peppers stems not from the Funk-rock hybrid itself, but from the fact that the guitar and bass are rarely doing the same thing. The guitar is up high, and the bass is down low. That orgasmically Spartan guitar riff is offset with the sound of sex, if it were a bass line. Then there is the rapping, which is still Anthony Kedis’ pièce de résistance as a vocalist. And there is the slammin’ drumming of Chad Smith. But to really know why this song defines the Peppers, check out the live versions on YouTube. The chemistry between Flea and Frusciante is electric enough to power Japan.

The Eagles – Hotel California

Our list tries to collate the most memorable songs around, not rank them. But if there were to be a first among equals, this would be it. The chord sequence has always been one that dances around the rules and regulations of strict dots-and-numbers music theory. Trust me, I’ve tried to figure it out with my caveman skills in the major scale. But it just sounds so right, and so soulful, that no one has ever been able to come up with a long sequence that really works as well. The whole song is based on that, and the abstruse lyrics, which we may want to interpret till the cows come home. The rest is there to make the chords look good. Even the solos. For me, it’s all in those magical chords.

Don McLean – Vince

Yes, an ‘American Pie’ deals with god knows what and might be Mclean’s crowning achievement, his Mona Lisa. But this is his Vitruvian Man. Its universal in the pastoral splendor. Complex imagery through simple words doesn’t come better than this. And never has. This is the first song which actually bought a bit of a tear to my eye. They say that every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. Dead wrong. This one is the truest portrait of the sitter I’ve ever perceived.

Funkadelic – Maggot Brain

“Play like your mama just died,” said George Clinton, and Eddie Hazel played. He failed COMPLETELY. What he did do, however, is play like the world was coming to an end, and he was lamenting the loss of art, love, life, laughter and everybody’s mama. So epic was the solo, that Clinton drowned out the rest of the band, and even its dominant bass player, Bootsy Collins. All that was left was guitar solo 101. A warts n’ all sound that is more feeling that notes and more pulse than rhythm. A guitarist friend of mine said the best thing about ‘Maggot Brain’ was that it’s extremely simple. Maybe that’s it. Shredders, listen to this and weep at your inability.

-Baba T

The Tenant-LUDICRA-2010

No matter how much I try, it is impossible to give a thumbs up to an album based on the music alone. This is especially true in the context of metal. For example though I might approve of albums like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss by Burzum or Darkthrone’s Transvilian Hunger, if a band was to form in 2011 and give me the same kind of music, I would probably slam them and show their music the door. There is nothing left to be done in Traditional Black Metal, and that is the truth.

What does this have to do with this San Francisco progressive black metal quintet? Nothing much, other than the fact that they have sufficiently innovated on the basic black metal formula to make my ears perk up. Ludicra is one band that definitely stands out from the pantheon of bands populating the underground scene in the States today. They have used every trick in the book; there is a female back up singer to add the proper atmosphere of awe and silence, there are change of tempos, including Maiden-y gallops, “soft”, acoustic parts ala Opeth, often tremolo picking and blast beats are synced in with clean lead guitars playing arpeggios et all to create that perfect melodic experience. Of course there are the harsh vocals etc that you will find in most forms of extreme metal.

But what really makes them better than your average evil Joe band is that they know restraint. No chord progression is milked to death by monotonous repetition; instead every progression somehow is made more intense by the addition of another element after the introduction of the motif. Some songs are precise and clear, often biting in the best tradition of old school death, while there are others which indulge in the swirling chaos and bitterness of traditional black while keeping the melodies discernible and enjoyable. The tempos keep changing-sometimes the frantic pace of black, sometimes the grounding pace of doom (actually a bit faster than the funeral dirges of that genre) which keeps me hooked. The lyrics are good, dealing with urban city life and loneliness, something which I can strongly relate to. It is another matter that I have to open the lyric sheet at the time of listening to the tracks since I cannot understand a word of what is being growled. I would rather they cleaned up their vocal act, since I found that harshness didn’t really support the brooding atmosphere, the music is really not that angry or ferocious. I think it can be safely said that this stuff sounds right.

Recommended Songs – Stagnant Pond, A Larger Silence, The Tenant, The Undercaste

-Baba T


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