Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Some of My Favorite Metal Albums of 2007

This is a story that was for my school news paper so i thought I would post it up here too just for kicks.

If you were to cut me open, I would not bleed blood like a regular person. I would literally bleed metal because it’s a part of my being. With that being said trying to come up with a list of some of the best metal albums of 2007 was harder than trying to figure out why Britney is off her rocker. Nonetheless I managed to narrow it down to what stuck out in my head for 2007.

Dethklok: The Deth Album

By far this is my favorite album of 2007 period. The soundtrack, which seemed more of a full-fledged metal album to the cable television show, “Metalocalypse” featured songs from the show as well as new recordings. Released in September, The Deth Album debuted number 21 on the billboard top 200 list, making it the highest charting death metal album to date. That comes as no surprise as the fictional band gives any real band out today a run for their money. The band is composed of five fictional characters playing as a band when in reality it’s all the work of show co-creator Brendon Small who writes all the lyrics, plays guitars, bass, and vocals. Gene Hoglan of Straping Young Lad and Dark Angel does what many drummers wish they could do on the drums adding to Smalls blistering guitar solos and brutal vocals. When the album first came out it was nowhere to be found because most record stores didn’t carry it and online retailers sold out. Released in two versions, regular and the deluxe version, which included five extra tracks, a music video to the song “Bloodtrocuted” and the first episode of the second season. What amazed me about the Deth Album as well as the T.V. show is the humor found it both. The show makes fun of the absurdity and ridiculous concepts that some metal bands come up with to stand out just as the movie “This is Spinal Tap” did in the 80’s. The humor carries on into the music with songs like “Birthday Dethday,” which is the most brutal birthday song ever and a jingle for a fictional coffee company. The track “Fan Song” expresses how the band hates it fans and wishes they would all die and long with “Deth Harmonic” and “Go Forth and Die” a song about graduating from college, moving back in with your parents and dying a horrible death. However songs like “Go Into The Water,” “Castratikron,” “Hatredy” and “Murder Train A Comin” make the band more than just a comedic musical act and turns them into one of the best new metal bands out there today, fictional or not.

Machine Head: “The Blackening”
This is Machine Heads sixth studio album after four years since their last album “Through the ashes of Empires” was released. In that time lead singer and guitarist Robert Flynn returns with his lyrical venom. Along with guitarist Phil Demmel, bassist Adam Duce and drummer Dave McClain Machine Head, like fine wine has gotten better with age. The track “The Aesthetics of Hate,” which was nominated for “best metal performance” at the Grammy’s, showcases the bands technical progress with heavy guitar bridges and riffs. Along with lyrics such as “Spit in the eye of a dead mans face” and “May the hand of God strike the down,” Machine Head has kept to their roots but managed to change with the times becoming one of heavy metals best bands. Their album was received and hailed internationally by the metal community and some going as far as calling it “The Master of Puppets of this generation.”

Hellyeah: Self-titled

The band Hellyeah is a Metal Frankenstein super group composed of lead singer Chad Gray of Mudvayne, Tom Maxwell of “Nothing Face” and Greg Tribbett on guitars, Bob Zilla who was the bassist for “Damage Plan” and legendary “Pantera” drummer Vinnie Paul Abott. The idea to form the band came about on tour and after all the members had free schedules they got together and recorded the entire album in a month at Abotts recording studio in Texas. If you heard the single “You Wouldn’t Know” or saw the video you know what “Hellyeah” is all about because it’s almost impossible to describe their sound. “Hellyeah” is raw, pure unbridled, unfiltered American metal that’s not worried about costumes, gimmicks or stage productions. It’s just a bunch of guys who got together and started to jam.

Down: Over and Under

This is “Downs” third studio album and it’s everything I would expect from ex “Pantera” singer Phil Anselmo. Together with guitarist Pepper Keenan, Kirk Windstein, bass player Rex Brown of “Pantera” and drummer Jimmy Bower, Down put out an album that feels like it was recorded out in the Louisiana swamps where Anselmo lives. The entire album has a gritty almost black vibe to it due to the heavy guitar and bass playing which add to Anselmos monstrous vocals and lyrics. The album keeps you on your toes as track likes “Pillamyd” and “I scream” kick your face in with phenomenal guitar playing while tracks like “Never Try” and “On March The Saints” have a more slower and blues like rhythm. Whether it’s hard and fast or slow and blues, “Over and Under” is Down at their best and after being on the side lines for so long it’s great to hear that they haven’t lost their touch.

Gallery 1919

A friend of a friend knew a friend who knew a friend. That's the basis of how the one night exhibition of paintings, prints, photography and animated films by Cesar Gonzalez, Manuel Lopez, Alexander Schaefer, Andrea LaHue, Rick Mendoza, Javier Barboza and numerous others was put together at Gallery 1919 in East L.A.
What amazed me more about this event; besides the great tunes and free drinks were the people behind the show.
Maria Elena is a student in her 20's who, with the help of her friend’s friends and their friends, put this exhibition together. After meeting up with her at the show, she clarified that the idea to put on the show was to give her boyfriend, Manuel Lopez a place to show case his works.

From that simple idea she started calling friends and other artist she knew if they would like to be part of the show and contribute in anyway possible. Elena thus began her arduous venture in figuring out how to produce the show, considering this was her first time. Having visited various galleries and the Downtown art on occasions, Elena had an idea of what she wanted to do with her show and followed her instincts. "I didn't want it to feel like an 'art show'," said Elena and to her credit it didn't feel like an art show.

The vibe of the show was a laid back one. There were no pretentious hipsters taking up space filling up the room with smoke or "art critics" that I could recognize. All there was, were good people hanging out having a good time, enjoying a drink with friends, almost like a gig. The other feeling that I got from the show was that in a way, it felt young and full of energy. On this particular night I went to work earlier in the day and straight after work I was attended a reception for the Vincent Price Gallery at my school EAST L.A. College. That vibe and mood at that show was calmer and slower given that the crowd in attendance was composed of teachers, students and friends and family of the featured artist. I will admit that they had great food, I'll give them that much. Yet as soon as I arrived to the show I felt re-energized. I didn't feel like I was standing up all day at work ready to call it a night. I felt as if I could party all night long, especially with local bands "Das Radio" and "The Sirens" playing through out the night.

The show also had Jim Marquez as a special guest. Marquez has a few published books and is a regular columnist for the free publication Citizen L.A. Marquez, who is no stranger to EAST L.A., read a few excerpts from one of his books. It was a rare opportunity to hear an author read their own work as Marquez had the few people in the room mesmerized. The event ran late into the night was a success as Elena was "proud of the work [my friends and I] put into this show."