Thursday, August 30, 2012

Evil Dead Marathon? Groovy.

Yesterday while visiting Guelph, in a feat of spontaneous geekiness and incredible financial irresponsibility, I bought the Evil Dead trilogy on DVD and held a marathon with my housemate. Before yesterday, I had not seen a single frame of any Evil Dead movie, although I did know the classic "This is my boomstick!" line from Army of Darkness. My housemate had only seen bits and pieces of Army of Darkness, and he vouched for it being one of the best things he's ever watched.

Now, I enjoyed the series so much that not only am I incredibly happy I now own physical copies of them, but I don't want to really spoil any of the plot (there really isn't much, if any). So I will say this:

Evil Dead is a well done gore-filled horror movie, a classic "kids rent out a cabin in the woods and shit goes down" scenario. Evil is unleashed, bodies are dismembered, and things are actually kind of scary (for a movie made in '81). It sets up Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness and introduces our protagonist, Ash.

Evil Dead 2 is pretty similar in concept to it's predecessor, except the writers and directors decided to ease up on the seriousness. Evil Dead 2 shows Ash going fucking nuts, and in the last third of the movie, the writers though "Fuck logic. Let's have him graft a motherfucking chainsaw to his arm stump and grind the hell out of some demons". So. Yeah. It's pretty fucking sweet.

This is probably one of the best ways to spend 5 hours.
Army of Darkness is when the writers for Evil Dead 2 had a meeting and decided "Yeah, remember all that chainsaw grafting and demon slicing. That. More of it. But like, let's toss in some time travel, too. And an evil undead army. And like, an evil twin. How about we only have Ash speak in one liners? YES. BRILLIANT. GET ME MORE HEROIN."

Pictured: Army of Darkness DVD cover. Not Pictured: Any sort of  logic, restraint, or sobriety on the writers' behalf.
Needless to say, it topped the other two movies by a landslide.

So if there's a point to this post, it'll be, go out and see these god damned movies. Buy 'em if you can. They're worth the money. They'll have you and your friends laughing and reeling in disgust all night long. Evil Dead stands as a pretty solid horror movie, Evil Dead 2 straddles the line of horror and dark comedy, and Army of Darkness is one of those movies you watch because of how unpredictable and over-the-top-ridiculous is it.

That's all for now, folks! Hail to the king, baby.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fan Expo 2012

So Fan Expo rocked. Again. I wouldn't say it topped last year, but that might've just been because last year was my first year there, so everything was all shiny and new to me. I feel like if I type the majority of this, it'll be a long as shit post. So, here are the pictures I took:

My friend Tracy and her lil' bro. Tracy is dressed as Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange

This kid's parents dressed their kid up as Deadpool. Complete with schizophrenic text box and Headpool. Best parents ever. 
Iron Man Deadmau5 and Ghetto Stormtrooper
Myself, partying hard (sans wig).

Kickin' it old school with the Ghettotrooper.

Finn the Human! I saw a couple Fionnas, but  I didn't have the opportunity to ask  them for photos.

The goddamned Batman. He's the only one who knew what my costume was. 
Team Fortress 2 Medic!

Even partiers need healing sometimes.

1970s era Battlestar Galactica Cylon.

Professor Oak!

King Baratheon from Game of Thrones and my buddy Jake.

Ian wanted this sword. It cost $1500.

Miss. Fucking. Frizzle. Bitches.

One of a kajillion Bane costumes. At least this guy was both bald and built.

Caprica Six from the new Battlestar Galactica!

Tracy bustin' out a pose.

The guardian of Asgaard!

We all went to Hooters for lunch (because we're classy fucks). We saw the Doctor there. We also met him last year too.
Jake and the Doctor circa 2011.

The first other Alex DeLarge costume! She even had her own maskie.

Aaron wanted a picture with the Delorean.

A really well done Silk Spectre costume.

Rorschach hits the gritty underworld of the beach! 

A bunch of wicked DC costumes.

A bunch of not as wicked DC costumes.

When I first saw her, I thought she was just another furry, but then I saw the flaming disc on her back. She's Okami Amateratsu!

BSG DVD signed by Jamie Bamber :D

Planet Terror poster signed by the one and only Rose McGowan (<3). The other signature is Tom Savini's from 2011.

The complete Zombie Jesus comic series. Cost me $12. Includes Zombie Jesus vs Robot Hitler.
I think it was time and money well spent. I'm definitely going next year too. My friends and I are already have Scott Pilgrim vs. The World themed group costumes in mind!

That's all for now, folks!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Peace Out, Baylis!

This summer I got my first big boy job (ie: anything more than part-time), working as an engineering assistant at Baylis Medical Company in Toronto, ON. Today, my contract with them expires, so I decided to tell my tale of blood, sweat, and anodized aluminum.

NOTE: I have not included pictures of anything I have done because my soul is bound by a blood contract I made with the Devil HR when I started.

"What does an engineering assistant do exactly?" you might ask. "Did you science things? Did you build killer death robots? Did you fetch coffee for all the engineers?" As much as I would have loved to do those first two, I'm still content with the projects I worked on because I got to (kinda almost sort of indirectly) work with motherfucking lasers.

Absolutely exactly like this. Not even exaggerating. Nope. Not even a little bit.
But first, let me start from the beginning. I came to Baylis, a medical company. They deal with needles and catheters and all manner of tubing that gets shoved into your body. Coming from a background of 2 years studying mechanical engineering, I was a little out of my element. During my training they dropped words that I didn't even know existed. Bypassing cardioneuroendoarterialvascular ablations, you say?

"Yeah, I totally know how to bypart cardio-whatsamajiger abla-blahs. I can solve those by like, adding up vectors, right?"
Turns out I was scheduled for R&D training, but was positioned in the production department. So after a week of training in a skill set I thought I wouldn't be using all summer, I was totally down to assist in engineering the shit out of some production problems. Or whatever. I had no idea what I would be doing.

I got my first project. "Eliminating Process Control Burdens". Fuck yeah. How awesome is that? I had no idea what a process control was, but I knew burdens were bad, and I'd be eliminating them. Like a superhero. Pow! Take that burden, you crazy motherfucker! I was so ready.

So one of my supervisors, Francis, sat me down in front of an old school laptop (my dad had the exact same model like, 10 years ago) and opened up Microsoft Excel. He explained what I'd be doing, which was essentially compiling statistics to help them figure out what they could cut from their process controls (which is pretty much quality control). Stats. Alright. I took a class in stats. Once. I think.

I'll not go into the details of what I had to do, but I assure you, it was about as fun as watching paint dry from  a mile away. Luckily, all this statistical nonsense was something one of my other supervisors, Gil, wanted me to do. Francis had something else in mind for me. He told me one of the assembly line workers needed help with making a product and he needed a wrench to fit into a tiny space to tighten a nut. That's what I'm talking about. I got to design a wrench to be made. There was a problem, and I was solving it. We printed out a copy of the wrench with the office's new 3D printer to be tested. It totally works. Fuck yeah.

After procrastinating my process controls project, I was handed two more design-related projects. The first was simple. An engineer had a jig made that needed to be drawn up using SolidWorks (a 3D modeling computer program). The jig was made by Polform, a local tooling shop which is a "you give us an idea and we'll just keep fastening a whole whack of metal together until it does what you want" kind of operation. Since they use this trial and error method, they don't usually work off existing drawings, thus making the drawings I was tasked to do necessary if we ever went to a conventional machine shop.

The second extra project was to design a jig. This is where the motherfucking lasers come in. The jig used to help in welding a product (it just clamped the product down and provided argon gas to help with the welding) was really inconsistent, so Francis asked me to "just design one that's not so shitty". The motherfucking lasers are what kick off the welding process. Another problem to solve! Time to put on my engineering hat and get down to work. I worked on the jig on and off for probably three of the four months I was there (I totally used those R&D skills I thought I wouldn't ever use), and finally today we tested a prototype to see if it everything was all honkey-dorey, and honkey-dorey it was. We put in an order to a machine shop to get all of the parts made so we can have a for-realzies jig, made out of aluminum, steel and magnets so strong they can murder you. I guess half check off that bit earlier on about building killer death robots.

Neodymium magnets? More like Neoholy-shitium magnets. Whatever. It sounded witty in my head.
I got a couple more odd drawing projects over the summer, a few dealing with the layout of the Baylis building, because apparently I have a background in architecture. Sure. Why not. For the end of my summer, I focused more on that process control project, and eliminated the shit out of some burdens.

That's about all I did as far as work content goes. I enjoyed Baylis not only for the work, but in fact, mostly for the people. The other students I worked with over the four months were all awesome people, and I'm really glad I had the opportunity to get to know them. Don, Linda, Tiff, Hina and Simrin, if you're reading this, this is for you. The engineers and production staff were all fantastic as well, always quick to answer my bumbling and idiotic questions with a smile on their face. I give a big thank you to everyone who helped me not suck balls at my job for the past four months.

I guess overall I had a pretty fuckin' sweet work term.

That's all for now, folks!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Get Wet: Part 2

Progress is being made on my Andrew W.K. outfit for Fan Expo! I've bought myself a wig and some fake blood, and a couple days ago me and my friend and fellow convention-goer Tracy helped me get some shit done.

First, we bloodied up the shirt by pouring some of the fake blood into what looks like half of an old oil lamp and we poured it down the front of the shirt, wiping off any excess with paper towel. After the first pour or two, I dunked some paper towel in the blood and started patting down some touch up spots.

I stained it a bit more yesterday and this is what I've got.

The next thing we did was muck up the pants. The original idea was to throw them around in dirt and shake off the excess so only the stains remained, but that quickly escalated from rubbing pants in a patch of dirt then whipping them against some pavement to "lets hang them out the window of a car and make them scrape across the pavement as we drive!".

Yup. That actually happened. I hopped in the car, with Tracy hanging out of the window holding the pants so they drooped on the street and I hit the gas. Well, more like delicately pressed the gas pedal with the aggressiveness and power of a dandelion. 20 km/h was the critical speed. Any faster and the pants would lift up and just fly in the wind. We scuffed up the bottom half and decided to flip them upside down to work on the top half, but as we started moving, Tracy accidentally dropped the pants and I ran them over. Wicked.

It's tough to make it out, but they look like I made my way through a Die Hard movie.
I did a test run of the blood on my face, to see how it worked, where it pooled, how it dried, etc. Queue super sexy picture of me.

Ladies, hold your orgasms.
I think I'm going to need two layers of blood on my face at least. I'm going to do another test run tomorrow with one layer fully dried before adding the second.

After the blood fiasco, I stepped outside to rub my shirt around in dirt to get it grimy as well. A small cluster of elderly people walked by me. It was super awkward.

I've only got tomorrow to finalize everything for Fan Expo. I'm thinking of only wearing the face blood around for the first half of the Expo (until I eat lunch). Then instead of reapplying it, I'll just clean it up and carry on.

That's all for now, folks! Party 'til you puke.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Album Review: Pig Destroyer - "Prowler in the Yard"

You know how for people who don't listen to metal, bands like Slayer, Children of Bodom and Cannibal Corpse make them shit their pants in fear? Well, Pig Destroyer (a.k.a. Piggy D, or PxDx) is one of those bands that make even the most hardcore Slayer fan shit their pants in fear. Piggy D recently announced a new album to be released this fall (it's definitely not coming out for like, another 5 years, but a man can dream, can't he?), so to recognize one of the most lauded modern era grindcore bands I'm going to dive into what is commonly seen as their magnum opus from 2001 and the benchmark for nausea-inducing grind, Prowler in the Yard.

If you're squeamish, try not to look to closely at the album cover.

Pig Destroyer have been kicking around for 15 years, and they've got 4 studio albums under their belt because apparently they hate being reasonable about the amount of time between releasing albums. You've got to give them credit, because five years after their last album, Phantom Limb, people are still holding their breath for a new album. Prowler era PxDx was a power trio, consisting of vocalist J. R. Hayes, guitarist Scott Hull and drummer Brian Harvey. You might notice that there's no bassist in the band. Well, you'd be right. Pig Destroyer doesn't have any bassist. Not a studio bassist, not a live bassist, or even a session or guest bassist. Bass (usually) isn't too prominent in extreme metal nowadays, but for a crusty grindcore band like Pig Destroyer, having a thick distorted bass pounding away adds a lot to the sound.

This lack of low end is remedied almost completely by the amazing production skills of Scott Hull, who before PxDx, was a member of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and A.C. (I'm not going to put down the whole band name. Even I have some standards) and has been doing production work for grind bands since the mid 90s. This feat is even more impressive when you learn that Prowler was recorded on an 8-track in Harvey's basement. I really feel like this, for lack of a better word, primitive way of recording was the best choice for an album like Prowler. It's raunchy, it's filthy, and it makes you want to take a shower afterwards.

Scott Hull playing with (or trying to eat) his wife and kids.
Three paragraphs in, and I haven't even gotten to the music. So. Prowler is a nice slab of some motherfucking grind. Not only is it grind, but there are some really unexpected twists and turn on this album as well. At it's core, this release is a vicious monster. It's aggressive as all hell. Sometimes it becomes such a chaotic clusterfuck that you feel like your CD is going to spin right out of your player. Hayes' vocals are the kind that can scare Slenderman into hiding by barking, screeching and screaming his way through the album. Harvey's drumming is something fantastic as well. He handles standard grindcore blast beats and thrash beats like any other drummer, but his ability to play more varied types of rhythms and beats and make it flow and fit with the music is what really makes him stand out. Let's not forget his mesmerizing drum solo at the end of "Hyperviolet", either. Hull contributes a lot to make this album stand out as well. In a genre as fast and furious as grind, it's really tough to create catchy or memorable songs. Hull clearly doesn't give a fuck, and I have no idea how he does it but he's able to pen some of the most catchy, memorable and headbangable grind riffs I've ever heard.

Prowler in the Yard goes between two different speeds. Full on grind, and a sort of toned down, sludgy, doomy grind. If the latter doesn't make any sense, think of EyeHateGod style sludge with some of the frantic qualities of grindcore tossed in. The intro to the album, "Jennifer" is probably the creepiest track I've ever heard, with Microsoft Sam telling us how different people can see different things as art, via a story about two girls wrestling in public when one starts to eat the other one's eyes. I want you to realize that last sentence was the toned down and somewhat censored version of the story.

I'm sorry for that. Here's an adorable bunny.
After "Jennifer", a torrential downpour of grind starts. 17 tracks of unrelenting fury shoot off in a row, with some of the tracks blending in with each other. The longest track of the grind section clocks in at 1:46 and the shortest runs for about 18 seconds. Yup. Welcome to grindcore. Starting on track 19, we enter the doomy-sludgy-grind section, with things loosening up a bit. The 4 songs here average out at 4 and a half minutes in length (longest being almost 8 and the shortest being almost 2). The first song of this section, "Hyperviolet" is only 3 and a half minutes long, but man, it seems like an eternity after that barrage of breakneck speed songs.

I've got to admit, the second half of Prowler contains my favorite songs on the album. The first half is great if you're in the mood for some pure grind, but the longer songs give Pig Destroyer's musical ideas time to grow and expand. Everything culminates into the final track, "Piss Angel" which contains my favorite sludgy riff on the album, blistering grind, and an outro featuring Microsoft Sam again which turns out as creepy and even more disgusting as "Jennifer". Scratch what I said earlier about "Jennifer" being the creepiest. The very long fading outro of "Piss Angel" with guitar feedback and a little girl singing in the background makes my skin crawl.

Also, did I mention this is a concept album? It follows the thoughts of the demented and twisted main character (definitely not a protagonist) who stalks people for fun.

Here's another bunny for good measure.

On a Playlist With: Agoraphobic Nosebleed, A.C., Wormrot

Overall Score


Prowler in the Yard is definitely a force to be reckoned with. It's like an audiobook of a serial killer's diary. The music will definitely appeal to hardcore grind fans, but because my taste in grindcore is still developing, some of the album (specifically earlier on) gets a bit tedious to listen to, despite Scott Hull's rifftastic guitar playing. I do have to note that the second half of the album pretty much makes up for the first, and has something to offer any fan of sludge or filthy death metal.

That's all for now, folks!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Draken Live!

I figured I haven't posted in a few days, so I'm going to fill you guys in on how my weekend was. Yay!

Since the weekend previous to this one I spent at Heavy T.O. 2012 where I both got kicked in the face and busted up my knee something fierce, the original plan for this weekend was to lay as motionless as possible. Well, that sort of happened. Sort of.

My buddy Stuart is part of this band. They're called Draken. And they're pretty rad. They played Sunday at a bar in Brampton, ON (All-Stars, or something), and I was commissioned to act as roadie and tour bus driver for Stu. I didn't have a problem with it because I've both roadied and had a roadie before, so I knew how to do it and how helpful it is for the band and how much it means to them. So we hit the road, tearing up the tar off the 401, off to get our metal on.

We arrived at the bar and met up with the rest of the band. There I met Alec, a friend of the band who would later become my billiards and mosh buddy. We stuck around outside for the first 15 minutes or so, because the opening band wasn't really our thing. Or good. But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and just call their sound "not for me". Around then Alec told us about a couple of drunk douches kicking people off the pool table for no reason, so he convinced me to partner up and kick these guys' asses... pool.

I told Alec I sucked hardcore at pool, but it didn't really matter, because we didn't find the offending guys once we stepped into the bar. We did however find an older couple playing, and when they finished they asked if we wanted to play 2 on 2. Since we got there with pool on our minds, we took them up on the offer. We totally got our asses handed to us because a) I blow chunks at pool and b) I really blow chunks at pool. It was fun (at least for me).

After some billiards and beer, Draken finally hit the stage!

I've seen Draken play once before at The El Mocambo and they absolutely tore up the stage then, so I had some high expectations for this show. Boy did they deliver.

They had a longer set time than last time I saw them, so they had time for two Trivium covers ("In Waves" and "Black") as well as a new instrumental song that clocked in at around 7 or 8 minutes. The rest of their set was most of their EP, with them busting out "In Sheep's Clothing", "Deathmatch (Between Dinosaur and Dragon)", "Last Day on Earth" and "Torrential Rain". Everything was pretty tight with these guys, just like last time. There were a couple times when their drummer, Kyle, fell out of time for a bar or a half, but I'd chalk that up to the shitty mixing by the sound guy. The bass and drums were way louder than both guitars' rhythm tones, but the lead tones used cut through the mix really well (which was wicked because those fucking solos).

The crowd got into it too. For the most part, people were just sitting, but there were two pits that formed throughout the night. One was during "In Sheep's Clothing", where the pit included a middle aged mom and her daughter as well as some totally drunk guy and a couple teenagers. The second pit was for the last song of their set, "Last Day on Earth". The band asked anyone who hadn't gotten up and moved to get in the centre, and that's when I realized I hadn't been in the pit all show. I tried starting one the last time I saw them, but nobody was willing to move with me. I noticed Alec was standing in the centre of the floor so I moseyed on up to him and gave him a little nudge.

He nudged me back.

I pushed.

He shoved.


Some other guy jumped in as well, and we had a wicked three man pit. It had been a long time since I had been in a pit, too (probably around a year ago, at Heavy T.O. 2011). When Draken finished up "Last Day on Earth", we were all chanting for an encore. Their faces lit up like Christmas trees. They had never been asked for an encore before (trust me, it's one of the greatest feelings ever as a musician), and the bar staff had been nice enough to let them play one more song. They opted for another Trivium cover, but I'm not sure what the song's title was. Either way, it rocked.

Post-encore, we all went on stage to congratulate them and help pack their shit up to bring home. Once everything was ready to go, I chauffeured Stuart and his gear back to his place and made my way home to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I was greeted with an unpleasant surprise (other than work). Remember that busted up knee? Apparently pits don't make them feel better. It was flawless logic the night before. I'll give it a couple days. If not, third pit's the charm, right?


That's all for now, folks!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Album Review: Deftones - "Diamond Eyes"

While spending last Saturday and Sunday rocking out at Heavy T.O. 2012, I had the opportunity to check out some bands on the lineup that I hadn't heard before. While waiting for System of a Down to hit the stage, I was able to attend Deftones' hour long set, and I have to say I was pretty impressed by the show they put on. I thought their music was pretty decent, but it was singer Chino Moreno's charismatic command of the stage and audience that really stood out for me. Even though during the festival I wasn't too impressed musically with them, there was one riff they played that just would not get out of my head.

Ba-da-da-da dun-dun. Dun-dun.

I scoured YouTube looking for that riff, and finally found it in the music video for "You've Seen the Butcher". From there on in, I started exploring the other Deftones music videos, and I all I thought was "fuck, how did I not love this during the festival?". After going through a slew of songs, I realized I had pretty much listened to a large chunk of Diamond Eyes. The next day, I marched right down to HMV and bought myself a copy to listen to the rest of it.

This album is a tribute to Hedwig.
Deftones are a California based alternative metal band who from what I understand have moved away from a nu-metal style of sound towards a slightly more experimental, droning and ambient sound. Keep in mind, when I say droning, I don't mean they sound like Sunn O))), and when I say ambient I don't mean they sound like Earth. Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter handles an 8 string guitar to chug out some super low frequency riffs (8 strings literally use a bass guitar string as their lowest string), sometimes reminiscent of Nothing era Meshuggah. For anyone who knows Meshuggah's music (if you don't, have your mind blown here), you'll understand the trance-like and hypnotic feeling that repetitive, heavy, polyrhythmic riffing can give you. Carpenter and drummer Abe Cunningham don't mess around with odd time signatures as much as Meshuggah do, but there's the occasional extra half bar thrown in every once in a while. Carpenter's style also involves the use of large open chords that, when played on the massive tonal range of an 8 string guitar, ring out beautifully. Songs like "Sextape" and "Beauty School" really show off this open and airy sound well.

Deftones also feature Frank Delgado who plays keyboards and uses a turntable. Delgado's use of keys is pretty much in the background of most of Diamond Eyes, and he never really steps into the spotlight. His position as a turntabler (I'll just use the term DJ), as far as I can tell, is never called to action on this album, and even when I saw them perform live, he just stuck around the keyboards the entire set.

Probably my favorite aspect of Deftones' sound has to be Moreno's vocal prowess. For the most part he sings cleanly, but his tone of voice can vary fantastically. He's capable of going from shy, almost vulnerable whisper-singing all the way to a full on banshee wails. Occasionally he uses some high pitched screaming, but they're few and far between. I have to say that whenever he uses this technique, I find it a little cliche because  Moreno has some distortion fuzzing up his voice. It's nothing too serious, I've just never been a fan of that production technique. When it comes down to it, I've got to say I really like Moreno's vocals on Diamond Eyes, with his tone and range really adding to the atmospheric element to the album.

"I must fly. My people need me."
So I've been driving that point that Diamond Eyes is all spacey and airy, but I've got to say: This album gives off a pretty positive and uplifting vibe. There still are some songs that sit on the more aggressive side because, well, it's metal. For the most part though (at least to me), all of the happier parts seem to stick in my mind much better than the more angry ones. Most of the atmospheric stuff that I listen to tends to lean more towards the melancholic sounding side (Alcest, Earth, Agalloch, etc.), so it's a nice change of pace to hear something a bit less bleak that can still wash over you. The album doesn't really deal with bouncy, happy-go-lucky themes either. It's tough to explain. An example I can try and give would be for the song "Sextape". When [socially awkward main character played by Michael Cera] and [manic pixie dream girl love interest played by Zooey Deschanel] get together at the very end of the movie after overcoming whatever obstacles (strict family members, crazy bosses, and probably a the zany antics of an adorable monkey) stood in their way and there's the big scene where they finally declare their love for each other and get to smoochin' and bonin' (with totally artsy cinematography), just hit play on "Sextape" and voila. It's like it was meant to be.

If there's something I have to criticize Diamond Eyes with, it would be that the singles "Diamond Eyes", "You've Seen the Butcher", "Rocket Skates" and "Sextape" are the only songs that really stand out on their own. While the rest of the songs are good, they really only seem to work well if they're played in conjunction with the rest of the album. There will probably never be a time when I suddenly feel the urge to listen to "CMND/CNTRL" out of nowhere. Still, when the album is played end to end, everything fits together nicely and flows without a hitch.

Bomb-Ass Tracks

Diamond Eyes: The title track swings a bit more to the aggressive side, but it's filled with tons of catchy hooks and sweet riffs.

You've Seen the Butcher: That fucking riff.

Sextape: Probably my favorite song on the album. It's simplistic and hauntingly beautiful.

On a Playlist With: Tool, David Maxim Micic

Overall Score


Diamond Eyes is a solid effort from Deftones that dares to be a little different. I can't really find another band that sounds like them. I feel like Diamond Eyes really has something to offer everyone, no matter what kind of music you're into. The album clocks in at just over 40 minutes, but really, when you put it on and let it flow over you, it'll be over before you know it.

That's all for now, folks. Ba-da-da-da dun-dun. Dun-dun.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Album Review: The Faceless - "Autotheism"

After my analysis of why everybody has a boner for The Faceless, I promised myself I'd check out their new album Autotheism once it was released. Well, it came out today, and here I am. Let's get our tech-death on.

Anata called. They want their album cover back.
When I reviewed Planetary Duality, I said it "shoots to be something head and shoulders above the swathes of generic tech-death bands and gets close, but gets dragged back down by some sub-par vocals". My main problems with Planetary Duality were Derek Rydquist's higher register screams and the overuse of vocoders and vocal effects. Autotheism sees Rydquist replaced by Geoffrey Ficco who, in my opinion, is a much more well rounded vocalist (as well rounded as you can get with death metal vocals). This album also leaves the vocal effects behind (save for the awesome Stephen Hawking-esque voice in "Hail Science") and has guitarist Michael Keene taking up the mic much more often than before.

Keene's voice is even more powerful than before as well, with him being able to sing with more vigor and with a much larger range. His voice now seems to take on a Devin Townsend sort of tone, leaning more to Heavy Dev's calm side as opposed to his more aggressive one. I know that a lot of Faceless fans that suffered from bad cases of butthurt because Keene sings a lot on Autotheism, but they just need to get past it. Not everything needs to be a growl of scream. The man sings well and his voice is never tacky or out of place. You should applaud him for it.

This release also shows a little bit of experimentation from The Faceless. The first three songs, dubbed "Autotheist Movement" span 18 minutes of shifting music, from haunting piano and string sections to full on brutality to clean jazzy sections reminiscent of tech-death and jazz fusion legends Cynic. "Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate" shows the beautiful use of saxophone near the ending as well. [EDIT 20-Aug-2012: I recently discovered that the saxophonist on "Desconsecrate" is none other than Sergio "Sexy Sax Man" Flores. Fuck. Yes.] One thing I have to say I really like about the use of sax on Autotheism is that it's very smooth melodic playing, rather than the frantic and chaotic playing that has been cropping up on recent metal releases (Napalm Death and Ihsahn come to mind). I've got to say that the entirety of "Autotheist Movement" is probably one of the best written modern death metal songs I've heard in a long time.

One last thing I need to address on this album is the bass. Everyone knows I'm a sucker for good bass playing, and man, is the bass playing ever good on here. It's mixed perfectly with the other instruments so that you can hear it  very clearly without it overpowering any other instrument, and both the bass tone and phrasing really push forward a sort of jazz fusion and progressive rock vibe (a la modern Opeth and Cynic).

Bomb-Ass Tracks

Autotheist Movement I: Create: The beautiful and haunting intro track ebbs and flows through a sort of ethereal death metal sound. Michael Keene's vocals really shine here too.

Autotheist Movement III: Deconsecrate: There's everything you need here. Catchy riffs, face melting solos, brutal vocals, and that beautiful sax I was talking about earlier.

Ten Billion Years: [Insert remark about how catchy and well written the song is.]

On a Playlist With: (old) Cynic, Obscura, Decrepit Birth

Overall Score


This is the album Planetary Duality wanted to be. The Faceless have really created something that stands out in the technical death metal scene, which seems to get even more boring and saturated with mediocre bands by the day. Autotheism really makes me excited for where The Faceless are heading, and hopefully, where tech-death is going as a genre.

That's all for now, folks! Hail science.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Heavy T.O. 2012: Day 2

NOTE: This is a long ass post.


Yesterday was so friggin' awesome.

Sunday's show put Saturday's to shame. In fact, it even put last year's entire festival to shame. I got into the grounds at around noon, coming in at the end of Rose Funeral's set. I had never listened to Rose Funeral before, but everyone I know who has tells me they're god awful. After seeing them live, I can safely say, they are god awful. Breakdowns were the name of Rose Funeral's game, with breakdowns happening at least two or three times per song. Since most of the crowd were at the West stage watching Rose Funeral, I made my way up close to the East stage, eagerly awaiting Origin.

Origin are the kings of technical death metal. Like, holy fuck do these guys play fast. Their new(est) vocalist, whose name escapes me right now had incredible stage presence, despite looking and saying that he was hungover as shit. The only song I remember by name that they played was "The Wrath of Vishnu". They had to shorten their set to about 4 or 5 songs because Rose Funeral thought it would be cool of them to play past their set time by 20 minutes. Nobody thinks you're cool, Rose Funeral.

After Origin finished ripping us new assholes, Fleshgod Apocalypse was ready to go on the West stage. I wasn't in a terribly good position to see them, but it wasn't too bad. I've been in worse spots at concerts. They played a ton of songs from their newest album, Agony, opening with "Temptation", "The Hypocrisy" and "The Egoism". They brought us back to their Mafia EP with "Thru our Scars" before swinging things to Agony again with "The Violation".

After "The Violation", there was a bit of a mix up. Since that is one of their most famous songs, everybody thought it was their closing tune, so people started to move back to the other stage for Exhumed, myself included. And when everybody got the East stage, Exhumed started playing... while Fleshgod was playing their next song. At this point I checked my phone for the time, and it was technically Exhumed's scheduled time to play, but I think timing got fucked up because of Rose Funeral. Fucking Rose Funeral. I guess the sound guy for the East stage thought it was Exhumed's turn, so instead of telling the sound guy at the West stage to cut off Fleshgod, he just thought "fuck it" and cranked Exhumed up way past what most people would call deafening. Fleshgod was still playing, but this guy didn't care. It was a glorious half hour of the loudest fucking grindcore I have ever heard. It was awesome.

After Exhumed, I stuck around the East side because The Faceless was the next band to hit that stage. Periphery played the West stage in the meantime, but I didn't really pay attention. Periphery was never really my thing. When The Faceless got on stage, everyone went nuts. I was right up at the front, which was my first time every really being so close to a performing band. They had with them their new vocalist (who is on their new album, Autotheism), and he really shined live. He was jumping around and going crazy while busting out some brutal growls and screams. I have to say I was really impressed by him. They played two songs off of their new album, "Deconsecrate" and "The Eidolon Reality".

The Faceless ft. My Thumb.
This is where the day took a turn for the worse, but now that I look back on it, it doesn't really bother me. During The Faceless' set, some dude shoved his way right in front of me and decided to start moshing like a motherfucker. Me and this other guy standing next to me (the guys next to me was huge) tried to push this asshole back into the pit and in the process, the mosh-happy bastard kicked me in the face. Fuck if I know how it happened. My glasses flew off and I reeled back a bit, but I did manage to see the giant I was standing next to lift the guy in the air and literally throw him into the pit. This dude had air time. Luckily this was right as The Faceless finished their set, so once they were done, we went looking for my glasses. We found them under a dude's foot. I took a look at them and thought "fuck man, now I wont be able to see anything", but before I could do anything, my large friend tapped me on the shoulder and shouted "dude, you're fucking bleeding everywhere!". I didn't really feel any sort of cut (just shaken up by the blow), but when I put my hand to my face, all I felt was blood. I wiped off most of it with my shirt and held pressure against it, and ventured off to the first aid tent to get patched up.

That's when I realized, I have no god damn clue where the first aid tent is. I found a member of security and asked where the tent was and he pointed down to the Western side of the park and told me "right next to the washrooms". Alright, now we're in business! Or so I thought. I wandered around the Western half of the park, no first aid in sight, until I remembered that last year the first aid tent was near the entrance (which was on the East side of the park this year). So I made the long trek back to the Eastern side and found the first aid tent. By the time I reached there, I had held my shirt up against my wound long enough that the bleeding slowed down to a sort of oozing. This is also where I found out my cut wasn't a big cut, but a deep cut. I didn't know what kind of cut it was, just that it was bleeding. When I entered the first aid tent and asked them to look at my face, they told me "yeah, we'll get you a band-aid". I thought that was a joke and they'd do something more, but they literally handed me a band-aid and told me to scram. I managed to glance at myself in a mirror in the tent and I just saw a tiny little nick where I had been cut. They hadn't seen the bleeding, just the wound, so they thought it just needed a band-aid. Whatever. Fuck 'em. It mostly finished bleeding by then anyways. I put on the band-aid and went back out to enjoy the festival. (I managed to bend my glasses mostly back into shape. Nothing was actually broken, and the lenses weren't even scratched!)

Since I took so long to find the elusive first aid tent, I had already missed most of Goatwhore's set. Since the next two bands were Job for a Cowboy and Veil of Maya (VoM played this song as a closer), neither of which I'm a huge fan of, I decided to grab some lunch and check out some more merch tents. I picked up a wicked Cannibal Corpse shirt with the  design of their first album, Eaten Back to Life on it. Classic death metal.

I checked the schedule for when Corpse was playing, and it turned out there were still a couple bands to go before them. I went for the East stage where they were going to show up, and waited through sets by Between the Buried and Me and Kataklysm. I wanted to be closer to Kataklysm, but I really wanted to have a decent spot for Cannibal Corpse, so I opted to stick around their stage. When Cannibal Corpse played their first note, the entire festival lost it. They played two songs off of their newest album, Torture. They opened with "Demented Aggression" and "Scourge of Iron", which made a nice contrast between blistering speed and brutal, slow crunching. They also blasted through some classics like "Priests of Sodom", "Disfigured", "Meat Hook Sodomy" and the tastefully titled "I Cum Blood". Corpsegrinder introduced "I Cum Blood" the way he always does. He screams, "This song is about shooting blood. This song. Is about. Shooting blood. Out. Of. Your. COOOOOOOOOOCK.". Super classy. As per usual, Corpse finished off their set with their most famous song, "Hammer Smashed Face".

I said I wanted a decent spot. Not that I got one.
After Cannibal Corpse decimated Heavy T.O., I stuck around the East stage for the rest of the evening. The only band left on the bill that I wanted to see was System of a Down, and god damnit, I would not miss System of a Down for the world. Killswitch Engage was next on the West stage, followed by Deftones on the East. I  had never heard any of Deftones music before,and although I thought it was alright, I still enjoyed it because they really got into their performance and had amazing stage presence. After Deftones, Five Finger Death Punch took the West stage. I'm not a fan of Five Finger Death Punch, and apparently most of the crowd this year wasn't either. Everyone was waiting at the East stage for System, chanting "SYS-TEM! SYS-TEM! SYS-TEM!" pretty much through the entire second half of 5FDP's set.

Deftones, complete with DJ(?)
Then, the clock struck 9. It was time for System of a Down. I have to be brutally honest. I had no idea what would happen. I saw Slayer at last year's Heavy T.O. and as soon as they started, half the festival turned into a pit. System made the entire fucking festival mosh, jump, and dance. It was pandemonium. It was chaos. I'm pretty sure if this happened anywhere other than an isolated field on the outskirts of Toronto, it would be called a full scaled riot. Honestly, most of System's set was a blur of screaming my lungs out with my hands raised in the air. They opened with "Prison Song", followed by "Soldier Side" and "B.Y.O.B.". The rest of their set was all their most famous songs (ie: all of their songs), but I totally forget the order. Choice songs include: "Aerials", "Forest", "Toxicity", "Dreaming", "Hypnotize", "Holy Mountains", "Bounce", "Chop Suey", "Lonely Day", "Needles", "Lost in Hollywood", "Psycho", and "Cigaro". SOAD finished strong with none other than their classic tune, "Sugar". The entire set was just perfect. It was played perfectly, it was sequenced perfectly, it was just, UGH. Fucking perfect.

This is literally the only picture I could capture of System. As soon as that curtain dropped, all the tens of thousands of people there started flipping their shit for two hours straight, myself included.
So that's my story of Heavy T.O. 2012. It was mega rad, and I know I'm definitely going to go for a third time in a row next year.

That's all for now, folks! Blast off, it's party time! And where the fuck are you?!