I’ve been listening to metal music pretty much exclusively since I was a preteen. I’m so immersed that I basically don’t think of “metal” and “music” as separate words.
Like so many others in my generation, I got into music/metal because of Metallica. My brother would lock himself in his room listening to “Master of Puppets,” and I would sit outside his door trying to take it all in. I hid my love for this band because I thought you weren’t allowed to like the same kind of music as your older brother. It seemed like pretty flawless logic at the time.
A few years later, I had gotten over my brotherly fears, and my love for Metallica swelled to the point where I made my first AOL Instant Messenger screen name: MetallicaDrummer89. I begged my mom to buy me “Ride the Lightning” and “…And Justice for All.” I started playing “drums” along to their songs using a practice pad as a snare drum and a Tupperware box as a kick.
A couple of years later, I downloaded anything Metallica or metal I could from a thing I heard about at school. It was a thing called Napster. No, I didn’t get sued.
Metallica and Napster —unintentionally— changed the landscape of music and distribution forever, for better or worse. Skip about a decade later, and anyone with a blogspot is suddenly receiving perfectly legal digital promo copies of upcoming albums from every label under the sun. There are positive and negative repercussions to this. It can bring exposure weirdo bands that would be otherwise cursed with perpetual obscurity. Similarly, kids in places where types of music are literally banned may discover their inner metalhead.
On the other hand, there’s also an overabundance of content, blindly distributed across the Internets with little regard to audience or tone.
That brings me to the point of all this.
Meat Mead Metal and practically every other music site on the internet face constant bombardment from overzealous record labels with Reply All email lists every single day. Usually these press releases and album premieres go straight to the Delete folder, but Brian and I were thinking maybe we could do something more fun than that.
I’m going to review them.
Disclaimer: My intent here is not to bully or provoke. I’m going into this with complete sincerity, but with the understanding that I don’t know anything about non-metal music. Maybe this will be interesting. Maybe it’ll be funny. We’ll see.
CONSENSUS – “ConCERNed”
Consensus is a lyricist and producer from south London. I think that means he’s a rapper who composes the music behind the rapping. The term “producer” in a hip hop concept has always confused me, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it means. Yell at me in the comments if I am an ignorant shit ass.
“ConCERNed” is an album about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) with the lofty goal of conveying “particle physics and social drivers through hip hop.” I actually have a background in physics and was a professional astronomer for a number years. I’ve worked at a particle accelerator before. Therefore, I have absolutely no idea what this means.
OK, so this is a pretty goofy-ass concept. The first proper track “Method to the Madness” boasts that the LHC is about to shock the world with “10,000 Alan Watts.” That might be the dumbest pun I’ve ever heard.
Bill Nye-esque cheese not withstanding, this is pretty pleasant. The instrumental accompaniment is relatively tame compared to the DMXs and Tupacs I was used to hearing while growing up in a small farm town in Ohio. “Dark Matter” gives off some laid-back pseudo trip-hop vibes, whereas “Antimatter” and “Higgs” remind me of levels from Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64. “Standard Model” is basically a catchy late ’90s pool party song, and I’d be lying if I said the hook isn’t stuck in my head.
I’m not even remotely qualified to critique this dude’s rapping. It sounds fine to me? He reaches high enough tempos that I gave up on trying to discern and make fun of the lyrics. Is rap like metal where the faster it is, the better the song? I like his accent.
Overall, I’m way too jaded of an ex-scientist to ever be charmed by the concept of a science-worshipping concept album, but this is one of the better executions of that sort of thing. Most of the time such endeavors end up coming off like the aural equivalent of your elementary school teacher letting you read the cuss words out loud during the class read along. From what I can tell, “ConCERNed” is the only science-themed piece of work that Consensus has released, so nothing feels gimmicky or insincere.
It’s definitely better than “Supercollider.”
To buy the album, go here: https://consensus1.bandcamp.com/album/concerned
KEVIN COURTOIS – “Needed You”
Oh look! It’s the Don’t Stop Believin’ chord progression! But this time with autotuned vocals! Fuck off.
To listen to the song, go here: https://soundcloud.com/iamkevincourtois/i-needed-you
KIM FREE – “Make Me Yours”
I was surprised by this. It’s kind of got a bubblegum slowcore thing going on, if that makes sense. The vocals are airy like it’s 1994 and you’re wearing an oversized sweater and you’re in a band with a girl bass player. I wasn’t expecting violin, either. I think I might legitimately like this.
The cover art, however, is a mix of Vaporwave insincerity and Dad’s Boat Trip Slideshow. Why is this picture in focus?
To buy the album, go here: https://kimfree.bandcamp.com/
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