Weep for the Children

I got done with work at my job — no tips, minimum wage, feet aching — cracked open a Sierra Nevada Wet Hop Ale, and threw on the new one from Hooded Menace, “Never Cross the Dead,” on Profound Lore. I sometimes wonder what’s more to say about death metal that isn’t already pronounced in the name itself? Doesn’t every review or discussion liken whatever is under review to some other band, as though everything has to be put into some lineage from Possessed to Death to Autopsy to Suffocation to blah blah blah? All I know is that Hooded Menace falls into that fine line; although Lasse Pyykko’s (also from Claws) guitar playing recalls Electric Wizard at times. Still, it’s very much Death Metal, just slightly more rocking– dirty, gruesome death metal done incredibly right by a couple of Finns with a love of the requisite horror films; in fact, Hooded Menace cover the theme from the Spanish zombie Templar film, “Return of the Evil Dead” with typical but loving aplomb. Humor is a missing additive to so many albums and thankfully this one has it, which acknowledges the fact that this is still a vehicle for entertainment and that it all can’t be some polarizing attack on the foundations of morality and society. I think of my sister here, laughing at the kvlt picture of Katharsis in their album “World Without End”: it’s not scary to those who don’t buy the premise in the first place. None the less, it’s nice to hear something so obviously played with a love for the genre and the necessary limitations. No, it’s not drastically new, it’s not expanding its sound to incorporate Xenakis-like timbres and mathematical structures. Who wants that anyway? Of course, but what then sets it apart? I suppose the pure plodding rough and tumble of it’s playing, the dirt and grime under the fingernails as it claws it way up from the grave (hackneyed phrase, check!) — there’s grit there that doesn’t get lost in the glare of production sheen. The plodding, doomy riffs hang together in a cobwebbed perfection, never losing themselves in atonal reaches, but sticking to mid-tempo dirge and dark melodicism. It’s not a human-less tech-death machination so many of those pesky kids are listening to as they trample your rose bushes. And yes, as written before, you can connect it to the lineage of the greats before it: I hear a definite early Entombed sound, but at a much slower pace, what everyone calls that DOOM stuff (I wonder what UK band Doom thinks about that stuff). It’s postively retro in some areas… I wonder if being retro in death metal connotes a more human sound. Death Metal always struck me as intensely human and organic music, rotting perhaps, but still mortal, whereas I don’t get that feeling from so much overly produced, compressed technical filigree of Brutal Death METAL. If this is the return of the “old school” then it’s fine with me.

As a caveat (long winded): Let’s face it, music is rarely in itself worth writing about. I’m not a critic. I doubt I’m really a writer (probably why I’m working to be a scientist.) But there’s a fuel that’s met with writing about music. Metal is one of those areas I usually stay away from, as I feel that I don’t have the right credentials. It didn’t really inform my youth like hardcore punk and crust did. I wasn’t obsessed with Slayer (still not) when I was 15 or genuflect to early Entombed (even though now I might). I always thought the metal dudes were kind of stupid or scary or both. Punk was more monastic in it’s dealings, obsessed with a random rebellion, a rage and incoherence, but oddly shuttered within an (often hypocritical) ethos; while metal was far more nihilistic, brutal and atavistic, home to brave morons, scared geniuses, and third rate mustaches. Possibly Metal was more individualistic, different collection of outcasts than punk, which was usually held together by communal attitudes (if not always in action than in thought). How much can a situation dictate what you consider worthwhile? Obviously, so much of our lives we allow to be created for us through the situations we encounter. Instead of creating our own realities by altering our perceptions and exploring our reactions, we allow and hope our situations to be understood for us, by outside agency. Such a small thing like metal was certainly ordained by others for me, by meth heads and tattoo shop rats, by ugly and desperate people. The thing is, like punk, metal attracts as many morons as not, there’s more people into the flash, drag and kill of the Autopsy lyrics than the those of us who assume it’s part of the play, and try to understand the ritual, and create our own narrative. There is no ritual or personal narrative for most metal heads. There is no deeper meaning to Morbid Angel or the Possessed other than an understanding of EVIL RIFFS and imagery of the Other. Metal, I would assume for most kids, creates their meaning, cloaking it in a petulant mask of gore, thunder and cock/cunt. Where does that leave the rest of us? What does it mean for me? I hesitate to think that Napalm Death’s “Scum” lp is only enjoyed because of its youthful integrity. Or that “Left hand Path” is only worthwhile because of it’s lumpen brutality, it’s cavernous primordial ooze. Like a magickal understanding of the world, I think of it as an aspect of myself, of a tapping into a part that, lately, has been more evident, that shows itself in misanthropy, dread and anxiety and within these dark areas of myself… there’s a multitude of truths and illusions. But I don’t mean to sound like some healing-crystal salesman, some Shakti incense hawkers. One could go on about humanity’s endless search for darkness, it obsession with the death drive but it doesn’t completely add up. There’s no need to validate taste. But it can be fun to try. I guess that’s what this whole blog or what have you is about. And it seems rare it’s really only about music. Thank Satan. I’ll probably be back to writing about more (f)art music and leave the metal to experts in future writings…

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