Welcome to a new Heavy Blog feature! It was spawned out of one of the greatest forces on the planet: fandom. Often used for evil, the basic excitement that draws us to love something is an inherently powerful force. Here at the blog, and music journalists in general, often have to curb it in order to more accurately (we don’t believe in objectivity, in case you hadn’t noticed) and that can get hard. Love Letter is our way to vent! On this column you’ll find no nuanced analysis, no broader context or blind Lady Justice. You’ll only find someone gushing about a band, a track, an album, gear, a show, artwork or whatever else.
And the best thing? It doesn’t have to be staff members! We invite you, our readers, to submit your own Love Letters. Rules are this: send 300 words TOPS (no, really) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Love Letter” or post your letters in the comments below! We’ll go back and forth between your letters and our staff’s!
In 1975, Miles Davis began life anew as a recluse, a hermit in the middle of Manhattan. Supported by a healthy retainer by Columbia Records and fueled by cocaine, Davis spent most of the next six years in his Upper West Side apartment, composing and practicing rarely, but mostly neglecting his musical gifts. (Whatever else went on during this “retirement” is perhaps best left untouched.) However, by 1980, Davis was back in the studio recording what would become 1981’s The Man With The Horn—his comeback record, and an album that would arguably set the standard for this new wave of his music until his untimely death nine years later.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
In America during the 1960s, times they were o’ changing. Rock n’ roll was huge, Beatlemania was runnin’ wild, the Civil Rights Movement was changing the world, hippies were doing drugs and having sex all over the place, and other countercultures that opposed televangelism and conservatism in favour of individualism and free thinking were suddenly more popular than ever. Times like these also afforded men like the Church of Satan’s founder Anton LaVey to become mainstream celebrities, both feared and adorned, and if there’s one man that was essential in the emergence of Satanic philosophy becoming known in the public consciousness, it’s Lavey.
This post probably seems way out of place among the many pieces I’ve written for Heavy Blog. But for anyone that knows me, bands like Emmure comprised the bulk of my high school listening, and I threw down hard during their set at Warped Tour 2010. That same year marked the peak of my adoration for “-core” music, though, as I started gravitating more towards the old school metal bands that my friend Mark would show me during lunch. My iPod started filling up with songs like “Dead but Dreaming” by Deicide rather than “Dead but Dreaming” by Carnifex, and before I knew it, I was another metal elitist scoffing at the very thought that Emmure used to be one of my favorite bands. Thankfully, I’ve matured quite a bit since then; not to the point where I’d write an “In Defense Of” post for Emmure, but enough to ignore any news updates about the band rather than leaving an unproductive shitpost in the comments section (“lol, binary code metal, amirite???”). And as I saw updates on their latest album Look at Yourself, it made me reminisce about my old listening habits and prompted me to revisit what used to be my favorite record of theirs: Felony. The result was the following nostalgia-ridden Stepping Stone for a band I view as both one of the worst and most important bands that defined the trajectory of my growth as a metal fan. It was my full intention going into this to be as objective and honest as possible, and I hope this will read as a fair critique of one of metal’s most polarizing bands.
Known internationally for his work with Shearwater, Smog/Bill Callahan, the Angels of Light, Swans, and Devendra Banhart, Thor Harris is also a legendary craftsman whose woodworking skills are apparent in the handcrafted percussive instruments he employs – Monofonus Press. Our latest piece in this series on protest music and art is an interview with Thor Harris, he of the crushing soothing percussive sounds behind Blog faves, Swans, and lately more notorious for having been banned from Twitter for either a video on how to punch a Nazi (don’t do it unless you have to) or for images used on his profile. YMMV.
Cynic is a legendary and influential band. Since news that drummer and founding member Sean Reinert has left the band, many fans have wondered what is on the horizon, if anything. While there’s still no word on new music from co-founder and guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal (who vowed to continue the band), late last year, an announcement from the realm of music archaeologists got nerd minds spinning. Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection would be released and fans would maybe get some answers about how the hell Cynic went from being in Death (which was basically a Chuck Schuldiner backing gig) to dropping an absolutely groundbreaking gem in Focus. Southern Florida in the late 80s and early 90s is hallowed ground in extreme metal. Would Uroboric Forms rewrite the narrative?
The trait which unites most branches of Satanism is rejection of a Judeo-Christian deity and the embracing of one’s individualism and strength. Satanism, for the most part, is just a sexier way of being an atheist and any notion of a Devil is merely symbolic. However, theistic Satanic belief is traditional, the type that believes the Dark Lord is a real entity whom many objectively worship and revere, and while this Satan is accepted as an extension of Christian belief, the teaching’s of the big man upstairs are rejected in favor of the Fallen One. That said, theistic Satanism is also complex; while the Devil is revered as a deity, what He actually represents differs from thought pattern to thought pattern, with some such as Mayhem’s Euronymous believing in a horned one whose followers should be enslaved to, while others don’t even necessarily believe that the Devil’s roots are Judeo-Christian at all. So, just because they all believe in and worship a Satan, that doesn’t mean that all theistic folks embrace the same variation of Him. However, for the case of simplicity, all theistic Satanism rejections atheism as they believe in a deity of some kind.
While we’ve previously covered topics more along the lines of specific scales, intervals, and chords, today’s topic is unique in that it concerns a technique (or, well, a subset of that technique) that’s mostly specific to guitar playing, as opposed to a general musical concept.
Our series of longform pieces about suffering in metal has explored just about every possible facet of musicians enduring pain and hardship for their music: the endless hours of practice that leave the hands calloused and cramped; the financial rigor of devoting so much time, money, and energy to art;…