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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CRIMSON SHADOWS - Kings Among Men (Sep. 9, 2014)

     It might be nostalgia from my friends being in the paper when we were 17, mixed with a surge of pride in my adopted local scene following Crimson Shadows' victory at last year's Wacken Metal Battle, that made me so excited for this album's release. Like anxiously waiting excited, and man was I ever not let down. When I first moved here, the Crimson boys were still that band that seemed to appear on every bill, so I saw them a few times when I first made my drunken entrance into Toronto metal, and then quickly became jaded and stopped making an effort to be there for when they opened for whoever it was that night (sorry guys, my bad). I've now seen them another handful of times over the past year, and they just keep getting better with every show. I really wish I could remember the CD release party for that reason. I know I had a good time, and naturally they were probably killer, but I lost all but a few scattered minutes after I showed up. It was Saturday, I'd been drinking since 130 because of reasons, and then I just didn't stop. Leave me alone.

     The intro track starts things off with the sound of swords in battle and an orchestral choir chant, as any good battle-centric album should do, but it's quick to kick-assery with the segue into "Rise To Power". The song, as well as the rest of the album, instantly screams "put me on full blast while you play some epic fantasy battle game!" The feeling only intensifies with the second track, and after that it's just confirming what you already know: this album is fuckin' excellent.

     But beyond just earning the genre classification of "Epic Power/Melodic Death Metal", these guys are absolutely insane. The harsh Death growl stylings of Jimi Maltais meld together with the clean Power vocals of Greg Rounding and Morgan Rider, completely free of any awkwardness transitioning between the two opposites. The clean vocals shine in "A Gathering of Kings" with some serious power behind the melodies. Rounding and Ryan Hofing start to show what they're really capable of with their guitar battles in "Maiden's Call", continuing into "Braving the Storm" with a war against Cory Hofing on drums for speed and accuracy. I can't even keep up with what Cory's doing. He is absolutely relentless as always, blasting out beats faster than you know what's happening.

     Track 7: "On the Eve of Battle" is a nice little interlude for the onslaught that is the closing argument of this album, acoustically echoing previous songs and fading into the fury that is "Freedom and Salvation". This one I vaguely remember seeing at the CD release, I think, I'm pretty sure yes and it was awesome. It might be the strongest song in this collection. Gratuitous galloping, elaborate guitar work, and a catchy singalong chorus, with a phenomenal drum groove and guitar solo over a solid backing foundation through the bridge. You can't go wrong with that. And I can't get over the insanity of the blasts in the next track at 3:33.

     Kings Among Men ends with a long song in "Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides". Not one of those annoyingly lengthy wankerings of some "epic metal" bands, thanks entirely to the varying moods contained within its 10 minutes. Following the subject matter in the lyrics, it goes from being victorious and arrogant, to crushed and still fighting, to washing away in the wreckage. #8 might be the strongest (in my opinion), but #10 is definitely my favourite track.

My top tracks: 3: Heroes Among Us, 5: Maiden's Call, 8: Freedom and Salvation, 10: Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides

     Hometown heartstrings were tugged at severely when I saw the name Dan Foote in the thank yous. I've known Dan since I started going to see live music regularly, 11 years ago. He put on most of the shows, played in a good chunk of them with his band (NonExistent), and is a huge part of why I love metal. It's always awesome to see him get some recognition. I wanna thank Dan Foote as well for just being an amazing human being. And, you know, all the music promotion and whatnot, letting me in for free how many times, making high school bearable and all that garbage. Sorry I never got around to having you guys play in my backyard this summer. We'll try for next year! Neighbours will be piiiissed. But anyway...

Dan photobombing a terrible picture of me and the singer from the Flatliners
(Sept. 2007 @ the Boh, Belleville, ON)

     If Ensiferum and Dragonforce had a lovechild, it would probably be Crimson Shadows. They found a way to reach high levels of cheese while still being heavy as hell, and man are they ever doing awesome things with it. It's no wonder they've always had a loyal fanbase, which had been steadily growing over the years but seems to have exploded in passionate numbers recently, something this nearly 9-year-old band has earned and most definitely deserves. If you don't have a copy of this yet, GET TO IT! And if you're in Europe, they're currently on their first European tour so check them out if they stop near you.

     Trust me, you will not regret it.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Life lately & Reina the Creep

   Just noticed it's been nearly a month since I last posted, so I figured I'd give a little insight as to why...

   I mentioned the loss of a friend and the starting of a new full-time job, but what I haven't addressed is that in the time since, I've had another person dear to me be put in the ground. This has been one of the worst months of my life. I've seen many people I hadn't in years (from 1 to 8), which has been wonderful. Reconnecting with people that were huge parts of pivotal moments of my life, but not encountered since, that's been great. It's the reasons behind it that's been tearing my heart to pieces. Basically, if I'm not at work, I'm not fully sober. I've lost track of when I last spent a full 24 hour period as such, from (mostly just) a couple puffs every couple hours to polishing off near a full 26er of Jameson by myself. I've not gone overboard, leave the liquor for weekends (mostly), but I'm still not at a point where I'm ready to face and accept what's happened. No amount of going back home and wandering streets in reminiscence, no amount of printing dozens of memorial patches in a flu-ridden haze, no amount of funeral home cards and wailing heartbroken mothers, none of it seems to make this real. And exactly zero part of me is ready to acknowledge any bit of it as reality, so I'm avoiding thought whenever possible. My bedroom is littered with empty cans and pizza boxes from the past two weeks, and I just don't give even a small fraction of a fuck to clean any of it up. Stepped on something pointy, but there's too much clothing on the floor to know where or what it was to pick it up? Oh well. Better luck next time.

   I've never been good at coping with death, I don't know anyone who is. We've all got our own ways of dealing with the challenges of life. If you're lucky, burying your friends won't be one of them. If you're rather unlucky, you'll stare at two caskets in the span of three weeks for amazing people still in their mid-20's, wondering what's the fucking point of anything. Maybe you were already in that mindset for weeks, months, and all this just solidifies the idea that life is pain and nothing else. That nothing really gets better, you'll just grow increasingly more numb to the tragedy of human existence. Or maybe it's all just terrible coincidence, the universe just shat on you all at once to get it out of the way. Your friends died at a time when your brain was already trying to crush you, just to show you you can in fact take more misery. So you kill a lot of time and brain cells, go nuts with whiskey and cider and see four concerts in a week, draw as often as you can hold a pencil, and write as often as you can remember what words are. However seldom those last two may work out, or at least that's what I've been doing.

source: Google

   So that's where I'm at. Where I've been. I'm partway through three posts, two paintings, designing a fall collection, and completely overhauling this site, and just a million miles too stressed to get anything accomplished right now. Good thing I got that "real job" so I'm at least earning money again.

   But that's enough of the mess that is currently my life. Here's another creep! With horrible lighting.

   I actually finished her shortly after the one I drew of Dan, I just neglected to post the finished result. Called her Reina just cause I like the name. She's not really based on anyone at all, more inspired by a good chunk of my friends from over the years. And myself a little, too - had that hairstyle for a bit about 6 years ago (holy shit just realized that was 6 years ago DOES NOT FEEL LIKE IT), though the colours were reversed. Apart from the fact that I managed to screw up the letter placement on her Frank Turner tattoo, I actually have no complaints about how this one turned out. (For now.)

   I don't know when I'll get to all the music posts I have yet to do, or if I'll ever have something resembling a "regular schedule" on this site, but I will do my best to at least share whatever art I manage to get done. I'm painfully close to being done with All Of Time And Space, it's just a matter of picking it up again, doing more than a few hours every couple months.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

VOTW - How Local Bands Use Social Media

   If you've ever "liked" a local band, or have the members in your list of "friends", you probably know all too well just how accurate this is. I've had friends in bands since I was 13, and although I was just as bad as them with being supportive as a teenager, it's god damn annoying. Calm the fuck down already! 100 likes is great and all, but guaranteed those first numbers all come from your friends and family, so STFU. If I want to follow your twitter/instagram/tumblr/whatever, I will look for it in the links on your page, not your timeline, because logic. Constantly posting unnecessary things is a good way to get people to click that little "unsubscribe" dealy so you don't pop up on their newsfeed anymore. Or worse (for your precious numbers), straight up "unlike" your page.

   And it's not a new thing, either. Remember MySpace bulletins? Between all the pc4pc spam and the elusive actually-worth-reading posts, were an insane barrage of "hey, look at these crappy 1MP pictures from us playing in a church basement!" and "only [x amount] of days until we post the new song we just recorded in our drummer's unfinished basement with a dollar store computer mic and no knowledge of mixing to our purevolume page" messages.

   But before I go too far with revisiting an irrelevant website, check out this video.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I'll be back, in time...

   Not like back in time, but back to regular blogging in time. As if I've ever had a regular schedule here over the past two years.

   I had intended to spend the past two nights plotting out a regular sort of posting, scheduling around the full time job I just started this week. And then, because (from my experience at least) nothing good ever comes without a side of heartbreak, I came home Wednesday night to the news of one of my oldest and dearest friends' passing. I've spent the past two days trying to force myself into denial so as to finish the work week, but come lunch time it just wouldn't let up and I had to head home to dear old Jameson. He's got me in his clutches now, and it's the only reason I can see straight (for the moment).

   I've got another VOTW coming this Sunday that I queued up a couple weeks ago, but other than that it will likely be silent for a couple weeks until I get my bit on Mayhem Fest (Toronto, Jul. 25) written up. Then I'll be back to trying to finish my three installments of Music of Spring (because I haven't done a MUSIC OF since March) before tackling July's releases, and then it'll be plan an easily attainable schedule of posts time.