One of the questions we are most commonly asked is why we don’t run many negative record reviews. Answer is simple: There’s enough good stuff out there that we like to focus on who is making great records and pushing metal into stronger waters. Not that we don’t have records or incidents happen that piss us off. Happens all the time. But we like to shine light into the otherwise callous world.
Uh, except for today. This is the one time each year when we get the shit off our chest that has been piling up for 12 months. Get ready for some swears. Before we get into celebrating the best stuff of the year, we’ll unload on the bands and records and forces that have made us feel lousy and put us in worse moods. We have a government that’s slowly regressing this country into the Dark Ages. We need good stuff to combat that. Before that, here’s what we hated.
NO ONE NEEDED ANOTHER OPERATION: MINDCRIME ALBUM: Arguably, no one needed the first two, either. Geoff Tate used to be one of the great voices in metal. Used to. He hasn’t done anything worth anyone’s time since the “Empire” album, and ever since then, his voice and his decision making has embarrassingly eroded. Following his ouster from Queensryche, he released ungodly awful solo material, and now with his new band Operation: Mindcrime, he keeps wiping fresh feces all over his reputation. I interviewed Tate several years ago, by the way, and he couldn’t have been nicer. So, this gives me no pleasure. “The New Reality” is the final chapter of an artistically painful trilogy from this band that tried to resuscitate the darkness of the actual record “Operation: Mindcrime” and insert it here, where it should be as relevant as ever. There’s literally nothing good about this record. Tate croons and painfully delivers his words with his weathered voice that long since has abandoned him. Also, the fucking saxophone returns. Can we throw that thing into a volcano already? Look, the guy was lights out on classics such as “Rage for Order” and the record after which he named his band. But he’s a fading shell, and he’s only embarrassing himself. Please, stop.
NO ONE EVER LEARNS A LESSON (BLAKE JUDD VERSION): Nachtmystium are back. Try to remain calm. Apparently, you cannot kill your career in heavy metal because, if you could, guitarist/vocalist/thief Blake Judd would have been dead and buried long ago. His drug issues are well documented and sad, as are his practices of robbing his fans blind by taking their money and never responding with the goods and services ordered. His last label had to make good on a pre-order scam for an album that wasn’t even any good. There even was a situation where a girl he was dating died under very cloudy circumstances. How was that not it?! But he’s back. He’s making good now. Trust him. All that shit is behind him. You’ve heard this before, but no metal career truly dies. He’s even getting press every time he shits out an announcement, because we haven’t learned about the dangers of enabling. The revived project (they have a new record called “Resilient,” which just fucking pisses me off) even landed on Prophecy Productions. PROPHECY?! Are you kidding me? I hope the guy really is better now and never fucks over another fan again. I hope he stays clean. I hope Prophecy doesn’t regret this. But we know how this story likely ends, and if it does wind up that way, anyone left in this band’s wake must be considered a huge fool.
NO ONE EVER LEARNS A LESSON (BOBBY LIEBLING VERSION): Speaking of drugs and liars, fuck Bobby Liebling. Let’s not waste any more time on him. Ever again.
METAL STILL HAS A PROBLEM WITH MYRKUR, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE HUGE BABIES: Amalie Bruun committed a cardinal sin against metal a few years back by having a vagina and trying to play black metal. I can’t believe the world still rotates around the sun after this. Undeterred, Bruun kept working at her project Myrkur, and this year, she delivered her second full-length “Mareridt,” an album that has her working more toward European folk and New Age than black metal, though it definitely has its dark edges. It’s pretty damn good, too. But she has some blemishes that some people just can’t fucking get over. Yeah, the initial marketing campaign behind her debut 2014 EP was a pretty bad idea. Especially in metal, where honesty is the policy of every single member of the entire genre. No one ever has lied or exaggerated an image. It’s never been done until Bruun. More seriously, she leveled some criticism toward the Muslim faith and their further emergence into European society. She has since clarified that she’s troubled by the treatment of women under that religion. And we all know in metal that criticism can’t be levied toward any religion on Earth, especially the Abrahamic ones. Another thing to remember is religion is regarded with a great deal of respect in metal (especially the Abrahamic ones), and records that have hinted at (or outrighted threatened) violence toward Christianity is banned from the genre, as no one ever has ever recorded a song about that. I don’t defend Bruun’s stance at all, but it’s a fucking hoot watching black metal bros question her over this while likely owning a Marduk “Fuck Me Jesus” demo. Bruun never is going to win this battle, and dudes always are going to trip over each other to cry and whine about Myrkur, who must have a staggeringly profound effect on their lives. She’s not ruining heavy metal, and some people need to learn to ignore artists they don’t like (for whatever reason, but the vagina definitely plays a major role).
SPEAKING OF GIANT BABIES, REMEMBER THAT “NO MORE SAFE SPACE” TOUR?: Funny, but when comparing resumes, I would argue Shining frontman Niklas Kvarforth is a bigger blight to metal than Bruun. BUT HE’S TRUE BLACK METAL. I never met him before, but considering his antics, he seems like a dick. Is that harsh? I don’t know. His behavior before a Boise, Idaho, date on the silly-ass “No More Safe Space” tour with Revenge and Wolvhammer found him and his band using homophobic slurs, allegedly trying to grab women against their will, using the wonderful seig heil hand gesture (what a hardcore maniac!), and other bullshit that led them to being canceled a few nights later at their Portland, Ore., date. I can’t figure out why anyone deals with Kvarforth anymore, other than the people who still support this behavior because BLACK FUCKING METAL. This is childlike behavior. This is trying too hard to look like a metallic warrior when, really, you just come off as an immature loser. It’s sad because Kvarforth is an excellent vocalist, and Shining have made some really great records. But his behavior has come to the point where I don’t even want to be bothered with his music anymore. If you’re cool with him, that’s fine. You’re probably writing a misspelled comment to the site right now filled with similar homophobic slurs and lame insults anyway. Knock yourself out, champ.
ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER LIST OF WARRIORS WE LOST: Sadly, we lost some notable members of the metal community, some of whom possibly could have been saved. AC/DC rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young had suffered from dementia for years, and it’s even more tragic that he was only 64. He was the backbone of that band, the steady hand to his brother Angus’ crazy solos and ridiculous (in a good way) stage antics. It was nice to see so many people come forward and pay that respect to Malcolm. And it was utterly heartbreaking seeing Angus carry his brother’s guitar one final time at the funeral. Celtic Frost/Hellhammer bassist Martin Eric Ain died of a heart attack at the way-too-young age of 50. He was terrifying on record and on stage (I treasure the one time I got to see Celtic Frost live), one of the all-time greats who, in many ways, was unsung. It is only now we truly can close the book on Celtic Frost’s story. While not exactly metal, there’s no denying the impact Soundgarden have had on heavy music, and Chris Cornell’s suicide was a jarring loss that’s still felt to this day. Same with former Faith No More singer Chuck Mosely, who apparently fell victim to his vices. It’s truly sad we lost these great players, among many others who also passed. May they rest in power. And may anyone dealing with mental illness or substance issues find the help they need. Please reach out and talk to someone. It’s a hard thing to do, but it may save your life.
While we’re at it, we have a few musicians out there who still have a fighting chance, and hopefully the rest of this year and 2018 is kind to them. Vio-lence singer Sean Killian, who has one of the most unique voices in all of metal, is battling stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver. That’s a dire situation, as we wish him the very best that he comes out on top of his battle. Same goes for Warbeast’s Bruce Corbitt who is battling cancer though somehow found the strength to sing on the band’s final record “Enter the Arena.” Hopefully he keeps fighting and comes out on top of cancer, that piece-of-shit disease.