Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Graspop Metal Meeting: Day 2

Day 2



Carach Angren

     Day 2 of Graspop began with heavy rain and heavy music. Due to the inclement weather, the indoor "Metal Dome" was the place to be. First up on the indoor side stage were Dutch black metal band Carach Angren. The first thing that strikes you with Carach Angren is their lineup. They have one of the strangest musical combinations with a keyboardist, guitarist/screamer, drummer and violinist. While I was quick to judge that the lack of bass would result in a dry, empty sound and the violinist would likely be drowned out by synth, I was quickly proven wrong as the band boasted a monstrous and epic sound. The keyboardist takes over the bass octaves and allows the violinist and guitarist to trade off melodies. This accompanied by masterful machine gun drum lines results in an epic and vicious black metal tone. While my viewing of Carach Angren's set was mostly coincidence due to the inclement weather, it turned out to be a perfect way to get the metal flowing. Once their set was over, the rain had stopped and the early afternoon crowd who had crammed into the Metal Dome were ready to take on the rest of what Day 2 had in store.


Fire on the metal dome screens looked badass

Quick Review: An interesting musical combination comes together in a familiar yet unique black metal sound.

7.5/10


Protest The Hero

    While I've seen PTH in many times, in many different venues, nothing quite compares to witnessing their set in Belgium. Coming from an area where Protest The Hero has occasionally made it to mainstream radio, it was a strange feeling to see the band perform to a crowd that was largely unfamiliar with the band. The Belgian crowd exploded during Bloodmeat but remained still for the majority of the rest of set.

     As for Protest The Hero's performance, the band is always stellar live. They're a group of phenomenal musicians who can perform their music to near perfection. I will however admit that the band has little to no energy on a large stage. In clubs and smaller venues, the band is so upfront and personal that the minimal movement is sufficient to boost the crowd full of energy. However, on a large festival sized stage, PTH give off a rather bland performance. The music sounds amazing, and Rody's rants are always hilarious, but there is less movement and expression than what you'd expect from a death metal performance. This trend has been growing over the years, with PTH becoming less and less entertaining to watch with every performance I see. While their insane tech guitar lines severely limit the possible movement, the band appears almost un-interested in their own music while they play it. 



Quick Review: Music is performed to perfection but the band appears to have lost any trance of passion in their live performance

7/10


Nails

     After the standstill nature of Protest The Hero's set, I was looking for a little madness. Nails were set to take the Metal Dome stage and seemed perfectly suited for my needs. Nails are a powerviolence/hardcore band from California and have made a name for themselves with some of the most ruthless and aggressive hardcore punk in the industry. Nails is a no-nonsense type of band. While Nails may be a famous international name, the band still strolls out on stage as if they were opening a small underground show. After a quick sound check the band opened their set by smashing the audience in the face with a wall of sound. Their music is permanently cranked to 10 and strumming any less than your hardest on the guitar is completely unacceptable. The chaos that comes along with hardcore punk can often be confused for sloppiness, but Nails nailed every transition, cut out perfectly in-sync on every pause, and performed some incredible tightly knit chaos.

     Oddly enough, by far my favorite moment of the set came in between songs. There were three beach balls that seemed to permanently exist in the Metal Dome and nowhere else. During Nails set, these beach balls seemed ironically hilarious, but during a tuning break Nails' frontman gave a profound speech about why he loves the beach balls. He declared that he hadn't seen a beach ball in almost a year (when he was last home) and that the combination of the Belgian fans losing their minds in the pit and being fascinated by a beach ball reminded him of the SoCal crowds in front of which Nails originally made a name for themselves. Nails are balls to the wall, in your face, relentless and ruthless hardcore, but connected to the crowd over a giant bouncing colourful inflatable ball. Nails ended their set with kicking all three beach balls at the same time (one per guitarist/bassist), in sync with an ououtrageously heavy slam riff.


Quick Review: Powerviolence and beach balls resulted in a gargantuan-ly heavy sound with some hilarious distractions

8/10

Gojira

     For years Gojira had been a band I'd always heard about but for some strange reason I had never actually got around to listening to. Gojira, being possibly the best metal band to ever come out of France, are a massive attraction for Belgian metal fans. The crowd standing around waiting for Gojira was already huge an hour before the band hit the stage. I distinctly remember the size of Gojira's fan base due to an error in GMMs scheduling, and it turned out the Gojira fans had been waiting at the wrong stage the entire time. At this point I found myself graced with the opportunity to outrun the thousands of Gojira fans marching from one main stage the next (which is actually quite difficult given the barrier and bar between them). Without much of an idea of what I was in for, I found myself at the front of one of the largest crowds of Day 2.

     Gojira blew my pants off with their god-tier metal riffage and immense vocals.  Gojira's constant barrage of incredible heavy riff after incredible heavy riff had the crowd running at full throttle from start until finish. Every once in a while you witness a live performance so good, that you immediately feel the need to listen to that bands entire discography, this was my experience with Gojira. I'm pleased to say that today I have fully recovered from my Gojira-negligence and have probably played L'Enfant Sauvage more than any other album since I returned from my trip. Gojira are absolutely masterful metal songwriters. They have what on the surface may come across as a typical metal tone, but underneath lies some of the best written metal you could ever hope to find. Gojira put on a performance so good that it has already had a noticeable how I think about writing metal riffs on guitar.



Quick Review: Gojira produce an endless stream of incredible riffs and sound spectacular live

9.5/10


Mastodon

     I'd seen Mastodon once before my trip but managed to catch them twice during my month in Europe. GMM was the first of these two performances and I was initially skeptical. My first experience with Mastodon live was at Mayhem Fest in 2008 and their performance was less than stellar. Thankfully the sludge metal king-pins brought their "A" game to Belgium and completely turned around my opinion of their live performance. Mastodon often get praised as being one of the most dynamic and creative bands in metal and their live performance honed in on these strengths. Mastodon's three vocalists and huge musical range provide the audience with a diverse sonic experience and cover enough genres in one performance that the odds are everyone is going to enjoy at least one point in the set. 

     Mastodon merit their name and have one of the hugest live sounds imaginable. Sludgey riffage shook the ground and resonated the very core of the audience. While Mastodon failed to attract as large of a crowd as most main stage bands, their set comprised of largely new material was a wonder to behold. Personally songs where drummer Brann Dailor took over vocals tended to be my favorites, but all three vocalists delivered their own unique styles in spectacular fashion. Mastodon keep you guessing and are constantly exploring new aspects of their sound. In a live setting this variety of sounds results in a fairly stationary but captivated audience.


I did later get closer to the stage, but this is a nice shot of the two main stages

Quick Review: Relatively small and unenergetic crowd for a diverse and captivating performance

7.5/10

Eluveitie


     Few bands deliver more of a European folk metal vibe than Swiss band Eluveitie. As far as creative instrumentation goes, have a dedicated Hurdy Gurdy player is a pretty unique choice. For those incapable of using wikipedia on their own: a Hurdy Gurdy is a hand cranked string instrument that fits into the wheel fiddle family. This utilization of strange folk instruments are what have given Eluveitie a step above the competition in the folk metal scene. Examples of the many other of the strange instruments the band has used over the years include: Gaita, Bodhran, Crumhorn, Irish Bouzouki, Hammered Dulcimer, Uilleann Pipes, etc.

    Eluveitie's live experience is just an all around good time. The band's use of folk instrumentation gives the band a constant cheery vibe to their metal soundscape.  However, despite the use of various odd instruments and frequent changing vocalists, I still found Eluveitie's performance to be rather one dimensional. They capture the folk sound incredibly well, but fail to provide much substance or songwriting to accompany the creative instrumentation. While I had gone into the performance quite excited, I found myself unexpectedly bored halfway through. The performance began to feel as if it were dragging on, and the words "last song" came as more of a relief rather than a disappointment. Ultimately it was a good set, but the band would be better experienced in shorter doses, as the folk instruments do lose their appeal after some time and you may find yourself realizing that the core of the band is a rather mediocre and unoriginal metal band, with any strange instrument thrown in.


Marquee tent was massive, there was still about twice as many people behind me as in front of me here

Quick Review: Mediocre metal with creative instrumentation thrown in, best experienced in small doses

6/10


Trivium

    As day 2 began to draw to a close, the headliners began to take over the stages and do what they do best. While I had my sights set on heading to the side stage headliners, the final band I caught over at the main stage was american thrash metal band Trivium. I had been a pretty big Trivium fan in high school, but had been quite disappointed with the latest few albums. I had only managed to the end of Trivium's set at  Download, so I was thrilled that at GMM I'd have a chance to catch their performance in full. 

     Trivium took the stage with furious energy and instantly sparked the crowd into motion. With the speed of thrash and the power metalcore, Trivium finds a happy medium that works incredibly well...until the vocals come in. Matt certainly wasn't bad live, much of his performance was near album quality but reproducing the boring and mediocre work of their last two albums wasn't going to end up magically sounding better live. Trivium brought along one of the strangest and most extensive live set ups at GMM. While the giant logos on either side of the stage were pretty badass, the strange fake ice the band had throughout the stage was an odd choice. It's clear they are trying to add some props to fit in with their new album cover, but it came across as looking cheap and took away from the band's powerful performance. Trivium are extremely talented and play their music with great precision and energy. They also manage to not fall into the boring thrash metal performance category and don't simply stand in one place from 45 minutes. Trivium make great use of the entire stage and are constantly in motion. If you enjoy Trivium's new music I highly recommend catching them live as they do put on a great performance.



Quick Review: Amazing live energy and instrumentation, but nothing fixes how mediocre the new music is



The Dillinger Escape Plan

     Alright, so I already review TDEP live at Download, and have been thus far only making one review for bands I caught at two festivals, but if any band deserves two live reviews it's gotta be them. Mathcore pioneers The Dillinger Escape Plan were alternate headliners in the Metal Dome and I was to get a chance to see one of the best live acts in the world twice over the course of two weeks. 

Fuck.Yeah.
 
     While the Metal Dome was a side stage, it out did every other stage in one way: it had a dozen huuge screens behind the stage that the bands could use to put on anything they'd like to add to their live show. TDEP decided to use the screens as massive strobe lights synced up to their music and it was freaking glorious. Since it was around 10pm by this point, it was dark outside and even darker inside a giant tent. Dillinger's music synced up to strobe lights and the otherwise darkness of the tent caused a feeling of absolute madness in the Metal Dome. Everything around you was moving to the oddest rhythms and the crowd became one with the music. 


This was at night, that is how bright these lights were

     Thankfully the band had additional lighting on stage so the band was still view-able at all times. TDEP erupted with insanity and chaos, and lived up to their name as one of the craziest live bands out there. It was also really cool to see that the set was so different from what I had seen at Download. The majority of the set list was the same, with two songs changed, but the performance itself was drastically different from the craziness I saw at Download. The Dillinger Escape Plan's live show has manage to climb to be considered possibly the best live on the planet and it is all done without a single scripted moment. They manage to whip-out a different bag of chaos each time and rely on genuine passion rather than pre-planned stunts. 

Quick Reivew: Witnessing TDEP live is an experience of a lifetime, and I got it twice in two weeks

10/10


Carcass

     Day 2 ended off with Limp Biskit and Volbeat on the main stage, so I had my sights set on the Marquee stage where Carcass were closing out the night. Carcass are a classic British extreme metal band who have been a huge influence on modern Death Metal and extreme metal genres. While members of Carcass might be older then they once were, they still rock as hard as ever and delivered a top tier performance at GMM.

    Carcass has a dynamic and precise live tone that is a combination of two distinctly different guitar tones and is held together by a massive muddy bass tone. Carcass' two guitarists shreded faces and showed how the band has been able to survive the years and continue to be a top tier metal act. While the drumming and vocals are certainly key elements of Carcass' sound, there's no doubt that the band would be little without its distinctive riffing style. The british melodic death pioneers have a wonderful aura of not really caring about their performance yet still deliver an immense and powerful metal show. It's as if the band still has some of that 80s rockstar cockiness in them, but the band plays so damn well that they manage to pull it off.

Quick Review: They might be getting old, but they can still out-perform most metal bands today

8/10


That's all for Day 2,
Day 3 should be posted in the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading!

David, I'll see you when our paths should collide once again
-JD

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Album Review: Rasplyn - "Scenes Through the Magic Eye"

Today's review is going to be of some music a little left of center. No grindcore, no brutal slamming guttural death metal, no smash-everything-around-you hardcore rap. Today we're going to look at something droning, psychedelic, and transporting. Today, we're reviewing Rasplyn.


Rasplyn is the solo experimental music project of Carolyn O'Neill, who is quite the busy bee these days. Between featuring on other releases like John 3:16's 2012 release Visions of the Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, co-founding the Logan Square New Music Ensemble, directing short films, and managing Resolution Digital Studios, Carolyn still manages to put out a great debut album under the Rasplyn moniker.

Now, don't let that album cover fool you. I judged the book by it's cover on this one and went in to the album thinking it would be some cheesy new age music with some ham fisted middle eastern influences. Little did I know, Scenes Through the Magic Eye would contain some of this year's most interesting sounds.

The album is mostly classical or orchestral pieces composed by Carolyn herself, each accompanied by here reverb-laden, stereo-panning vocals flowing in and out of the tracks. The album does have a middle eastern flair to it, but it is definitely more subdued than I thought it would be. These influences are precisely that, influences. Rasplyn isn't defined by middle eastern tones and melodies, but uses them to her advantage. The tracks more often than not have some droning strings in the background with everything else floating overtop, creating a sort of shoegaze effect. The closest pieces of music I have to compare Magic Eye to would be John 3:16's Visions and to a lesser extent, some of Sunn O)))'s experiments with classical instruments. If Visions transports me to an isolated pond at night, Magic Eye brings me to a temple at the break of twilight. Something ancient and well before any of our times, but still preserved. While it's been overgrown with vines and foliage, it still stands, monolithic in the distance. As the album continues I explore the temple, finding remnants and fragments of the peoples and cultures that have visited it before me. Some morbid, some less so, but all of them engrossing nonetheless.


Rasplyn's debut album is something that definitely surprised me in a good way. To me, her music should really be a part of a soundtrack to a movie or video game, with its massive production and transporting qualities. 

Scenes Through the Magic Eye comes out on Mythical Records on November 30th. You can check out Rasplyn on Bandcamp, Facebook, and on her personal page.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you in court.

-DG

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Graspop Metal Meeting: Day 1


Day 1:



Ghost (aka Ghost BC)


    I was a little late arriving at GMM, so by the time I had explored the festival grounds it was already time for Ghost to take the main stage. I'd dare to argue that Ghost are known more-so for their live show than their music, so I was quite excited to see what all the hype was about. To those who are unfamiliar with Ghost, the vocalist dresses as a Satanic pope and the rest of the band are "Nameless Ghouls" who all dress in identical disguises. While this type of theatrics is expected of Black Metal bands, Ghost uniquely brings these theatrics to a radio-friendly genre of metal. Ghosts combination of epic synth lines, metal riffing and creepy singing provides an interesting atmosphere that feels as though Black Metal and Rock had some strange bastard child. While this might sound like an insult, I loved Ghost's performance! The best moment of the performance came during the song Monstrance Clock, when the crowd chant "Come together, together as one, Come together, for lucifer's son" took over the festival grounds. The chant was so repetitive and simple that nearly every person at the festival joined in. I found myself in a giant circle of people hugging, dancing in a circle and chanting along. The ball of satanic happiness roamed around the crowd and absorbed everyone it ran into. By the end of the song there were hundreds of people in what I imagine just started with one friendly drunk guy hugging someone. This friendly satanic vibe is something that can only be found at a metal festival, and it was an amazing start to Graspop Metal Meeting.

Quick Review: Happy satanic music works unbelievably well at a metal festival

9/10

Sepultura


     Day 1 at GMM boasted an incredible lineup of main-stage bands, so I spent most of the day hoping back and forth between the two side-by-side main-stages. One of the many highlights of Day 1 was Brazilian metal pioneers Sepultura. Sepultura brought an immensely powerful sound and a ferocious live show to GMM and easily took the cake for one of the most intense and purely aggressive performances of Day 1. The band did a great job of making the crowd felt involved, with several crowd chants, good friendly conversation between songs, and countless calls for circle pits. Sepultura came across as great performers who still have immense passion in their live show, as well as being genuine, appreciative, and friendly people. It was tough NOT to love Sepultura's performance. It was aggressive enough to exponentially increase your desire to punch everything around you, and yet still maintained the friendly feel of a metal festival community. 

Quick Review: Relentless aggression and a thoroughly entertaining live show.

 8/10

Slayer


     From the moment I arrived at GMM I heard cries of "SLAYER" coming from all corners of the festival grounds. It had become an inside joke amongst the fans to chant for Slayer no matter what band was actually scheduled to play next. While I'm not a huge Slayer fan, I decided this was a truly unique opportunity that I was going to make the most of it. I headed over to the main stage well before the start of Slayer's set and got myself as close to the front as possible. While the rain had begun to fall upon Graspop, there was an electric buzz among the fans waiting pressed up against the barrier. The cries for Slayer grew louder by the minute, slowly overcoming the sound system and the poor band that was slotted to play before Slayer. By the time Slayer finally took the stage the rain was pouring down and the crowd exploded into festival-rain-poncho filled mosh pits. 


     I caught Slayer live twice on my Europe trip and concluded that the enjoyment of their live show entirely depends on how much you get into it. Those fans who sit way back and simply watch will likely come out of their live set thinking it was a mediocre performance and was quite boring to watch. However those crazy fuckers who dare get right up front will all tell you with absolute unanimity that Slayer is one of the best metal bands to catch live ever. Slayer has minimal movement around the stage and adds very little to the stage show to keep on-lookers entertained. The key to enjoying them live is to dare to go into the pits and enjoy the absolute madness that takes place within. I spent the majority of the set in giant circle pits, and being thrown from one mosh pit to another. It was a perfect experience for those who desire to get a little nuts during metal shows. Slayer ended their set with Angel of Death dedicated to their late guitarist Jeff Hanneman, and left the crowd exhausted yet wanting more.


Quick Review: If you enjoy mosh pits, Slayer has one of the best live shows imaginable

8/10


Behemoth


     In one of the most insane back-to-back performances any metalhead could ever dream of, Slayer was immediately followed by both Behemoth and Opeth playing on different stages. While I was disappointed I couldn't see both, I had planned out my trip well enough to know that I could catch Opeth at Download (and miss Behemoth) and catch Behemoth at GMM. While for much of Behemoth's extensive discography I had been quite indifferent towards to Polish Black/Death Metal gods, their recent album The Satanist had got me hooked. While I lacked energy after moshing my way through 45 minutes of Slayer, Behemoth is famous for having quite the theatrical live show, so I once again got myself as close to the front as possible to experience it in all its glory.

     Behemoth had so much going on in their live show I genuinely can't remember how it all started. I do however distinctly remember the blood, the satanic crosses on fire, and the band changing outfits more often than they changed guitars. Behemoth are far from the purest Black Metal band out there, but they are certainly one of the faces of the genre. Their live show does a fantastic job of displaying what is so entertaining about Black Metal. There was an aura of genuine evil cast across the fields of Dessel during their performance, and enough fire, blood, and religious mockery to make any metal fan happy. To my pleasant surprise their set consisted almost entirely of material off The Satanist, nearly playing the album front-to-back, but swapping out some of the less memorable tracks for old favorites. Opening and closing their set with the book-ends on the new album was an incredible live experience with the crowd getting fully involved in the ending speech of O Father O Satan O Sun. Behemoth's theatrical live show has so much to offer and was easily the highlight of Day 1.





Quick Review: Incredibly entertaining theatrical live show with album quality sound

9/10

Avenged Sevenfold


     This was now my second time watching A7X on this Europe trip but the first time I decided to watch their set start to finish and give the California rockers a chance. A few things stood out right away in their performance. Firstly there was the stage show itself. There is clearly an insane amount of money put into attempting to give A7X a great live show as almost everything you could possibly add to the stage show was there. Banner: check. Screens: check. Insane amounts of LEDs: check. Fire: check. Fireworks: check. That strange stage design that allows member to walk around above/behind the drummer: check. Avenged Sevenfold throws so many flashing lights and fireworks into their live show that it's enough to keep an toddler with ADHD entertained. The second thing that struck me about their live show was the visible intoxication. While there's nothing wrong with getting liquored up before a performance, the fact I could spot it from 100 yards away starts to say something about the bands attitude towards accurately playing their music. I'm primarily speaking of Synister Gates in this case, who both looked like he might fall over, messed up frequently, and did the honour of providing drunken backing vocals. Third thing that struck me about their live show: Matt Shadows is perfect live. I may love to hate on A7X but I will say absolutely nothing against their front-man, he killed it. His vocal style might not be for everyone, but when it comes to performing it live, the man is truly talented.

     Avenged Sevenfold's performance did sort of piss me off for one reason in particular though. Every second of their stage show is pre-programmed, and pre-scripted. It's pretty sad when it gets to the point that in every city you perform you deliver the same speeches in between the same songs and hardly change a word. I understand these bands are constantly touring and it may be hard to change things up but this is what differentiates great live performers from the rest. Overall Avenged Sevenfold wasn't bad, and their fans loved the performance, but for me the whole thing felt very in-organic and stale.

Quick Review: Stellar live vocals, but drunken slip ups were the only not scripted element of the show 

6/10

Sabaton


     Day 1 was closed out by Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton. While i'm not much of a Power Metal fan, catching a Power Metal band at a major European metal festival was on my bucket list. There's just something about the genre that makes it inherently so much better in a live environment. The genre thrives on the European festival scene and massive festival crowds.

     Sabaton did not disappoint my power metal live expectations, putting on a great show filled with endless crowd sing-a-longs, shred-tastical guitar solos and songs about war. The power metal experience is a metal experience that felt more about friendship and brotherhood rather than anything aggressive. While I did feel a little out of place since I didn't know any of the words, I still had a great time watching Sabaton. Their stage show was unique and impressive. There were hundreds of lights to illuminate EVERYTHING, the drum set was a fucking tank (literally, it could even shoot things), and the band invited random fans on stage to participate in a Swedish feast. Sabaton's front man did a great job keeping the crowd entertained and cheery with his stories, speeches and jokes. I got sloshed on Belgian beers while watching a power metal band perform to tens of thousands of fans and had an awesome end to Day 1.

Quick Review: Everything you could want out of a power metal live show, plus a drum set that is also a tank

8/10

Thus ends the list of memorable performances from Day 1,
Thanks for reading!
Day 2 comes next week,

David, I'll see you when I hide in a tree outside your window.
-JD

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Album Review: Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2

It's been over a month since my last full on album review, which I think is kinda funny considering I started this blog by reviewing nothing but music. Either way, fuccbois beware, because this next album is about to go twin hype and do a dance on your wind pipe.


Run the Jewels have been my favorite rap group since they dropped their debut album, Run The Jewels last year. Consisting of two of my favorite rappers, one of whom is also my favorite producer, this is a duo that can't be beat in my books. Consisting of the odd combo of southern rapper Killer Mike and New York rapper/ producer El-P, this is one of those instances where two very different people come together and make something greater than the sum of their parts.

Run The Jewels 2 is a natural extension of last year's debut, bringing in more serious and socially conscious lyrics more akin to those in RAP Music and Cancer 4 Cure. There's religious imagery out the ass, and lots of content calling out police brutality, corrupt political and judicial systems, and racism in Western culture. Don't worry, though, everything that makes Run The Jewels the most metal rap group is still there. Between some of their most violent and raunchy lyrics and El bumping out some of his most aggressive (and most addictive) beats yet, this album doesn't show the duo softening up anytime soon.

Another thing RTJ has stepped their game up on is who and how they use their features. Rage Against The Machine's Zack De La Rocha, Foxygen's Diane Coffee, Three 6 Mafia's Gangsta Boo, Blink-182's Travis Barker (!), and BeyoncĂ©'s Boots all contribute monster verses, haunting hooks and melodies, or in Barker's case badass drum fills to RTJ2.De La Rocha and Gangsta Boo are the two standout performances on the album for me, although Boots cuts a close third. De La Rocha is actually sampled and looped in the beat to "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)", and Gangsta Boo drops one of the raunchiest verses I've heard, which is twice as powerful following Killer Mike and El-P's hypersexual lines in "Love Again".

I know I'm a huge fanboy and I hype Run The Jewels a lot, but this is by far my favorite album of the year so far. It floored me after my first listen, and every time I listen through it again, I pick up on more nuances in El-P's production, or catch more clever wordplay in everyone's lyrics. It's the gift that keeps on giving.


You can get RTJ2 for free (that's right, FREE) off of Run The Jewels' website. Catch Run The Jewels on tour this month, and if you see them on their Toronto date, come say hi (and buy me a beer)!

That`s all for now, folks!

-DG

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cinema Terrible: 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon 2014 (Part 2)

By now, we're almost into hour 6 of our marathon. Let's keep the pace up.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Dir. Neveldine/Taylor)

I was so pumped for this movie for two reasons. The first, that Nicolas "The Cage" Cage was starring and that it was directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, both of whom directed Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage under the name of Neveldine/Taylor. For those of you who don't know, Crank 2 is one of my favorite action movies, and Ghost Rider: SoV follows suite in terms of cinematography and (almost) keeps up in pacing. Spirit of Vengeance is way better than the first Ghost Rider, because of how reserved the original was. With Neveldine/Taylor at the helm, this sequel has the direction it needs to be a schlockfest of a movie. Ghost Rider: SoV has got to be one of the better movies we saw over the marathon.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime anyone says "Devil" or "Rider".
2. Anytime Nic Cage turns into the Ghost Rider.
3. Anytime Ghost Rider ghost rides a new ride.
4. Finish your drink during the greatest interrogation scene of all time.


Superbabies: Baby Geniueses 2 (Dir. Bob Clark)

I can't tell you what happened in this movie. Not that it was too hard to follow or that we weren't paying attention, but because we spent this hour and a half mourning Jon Voight's career. Voight, known for a few little movies called Heat, Mission: Impossible, and Deliverance, officially hit rock bottom here. I don't know if it was part of a contract that he had to act in this movie, but this movie is just dreadful. I would say that Superbabies is on par with Foodfight! in how painful it is to watch. While Foodfight! had it's moments that stood out, and had terrible animation to make fun of, this movie had almost no redeeeming qualities. You've been warned.

The Drinking Game

1. Drink so that you only see the bottom of the glass instead of subjecting your eyes to this horror. Refill your drink whenever you can see the movie through the bottom of the glass.




Tammy and the T-Rex (Dir. Stewart Raffill)

If there's any movie to cleanse your pallet after Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, it's Tammy and the T-Rex. Starring none other than Denise Richards and the late Paul Walker. This movie is a cinematic anomaly. I have no idea why this was made, or who thought it was a good idea. All I do know is, this movie is the biggest mishmash of ideas, themes, and tones, and it's amazing. If you've ever wanted to see Denise Richards fall in love with a giant mechanical T-Rex that's controlled by Paul Walker's brain (and let's face it, who doesn't), then you need to see this movie right now. No, seriously. You can. Right here, right now.

The Drinking Game

1. Drink every time you question a creative decision made by the writers or director.
2. Drink every time you see the T-Rex's floppy sock arms slide in on screen.
3. Finish all you alcohol once the credits start rolling, because holy Christ in heaven, what the fuck is that last scene?!



That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you last Sunday.

-DG

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cinema Terrible: 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon 2014 (Part 1)

Here I sit in the aftermath of this past weekend's 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon. For an unknown reason, my friends and I enjoy suffering through terrible, terrible movies, and we've made an annual tradition of participating in a 24 hour marathon of schlock, bad acting, and awkward 80's nudity. That's 24 straight hours of movies, with the only rules being that as soon as a movie ends, the next must begin and that somebody must be watching the TV at all times.

Since my friends and I are all old fogies now, we didn't play many of the drinking games that are associated with movies of this ilk. For you youngsters out there who really want to party, I will include any drinking games I know alongside each movie's review. However, be warned, if you want to play with drinking games, your marathon will probably go like this:

1. Start your first movie. Yeah! Drinking!
2. Keep drinking.
3. No, seriously, you don't get a break here. Keep drinking.
4. Re-evaluate your life choices as you forcefully gulp down your 13th beer in 30 minutes and realize that you have twenty-three and a half more hours of this.

Naturally, all of us fell asleep at one point or another (except for friend and fellow blogger Fyfelife), but every part of every movie did get watched, and that's all that matters. This was our second ever marathon, running from exactly 1:02 PM Saturday, October 25th until 1:07 PM Sunday, October 26th. We burned our way through 15 movies, 3 XL pizzas, maybe about $100 worth of Bulk Barn candy, and most of our sanity. This is our story.

The Room (Dir. Tommy Wiseau)

One of the triumvirate of movies dubbed "the worst movies ever made", The Room is a disasterpiece of a drama. Written, directed, and starring the enigmatic and eccentric Tommy Wiseau, this movie is about a young couple, Johnny and Lisa, who are to be engaged soon. Unfortunately for Johnny, his bride-to-be is cheating on him with his best friend! That's it. That's the entire plot of the movie. For what The Room lacks in exciting plot, it more than makes up for in terrible dialogue and acting, usually delivered by Mr. Wiseau himself. I mean, seriously, this man is on a whole other level. How this movie was made is a mystery to me (a common theme among the movies watched), but I'm glad it exists. This is the movie that first got me into bad movies, and to this day it still holds a special place in my heart.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime Lisa is referred to as "hot" or "sexy".
2. Anytime Mark is referred to as Johnny's best friend.
3. Anytime Lisa says she doesn't love Johnny anymore.
4. Anytime Johnny says "Oh hai, [Character]!"
5. Anytime you see an establishing shot of San Francisco.

Troll 2 (Dir. Claudio Fragasso)


The second of our trinity of infamous so-bad-they're-good movies, Troll 2 is an unrelated sequel to Troll, which I have not watched. Also, see that cover off the left of the screen? That isn't the main kid in the movie. That isn't the troll in the movie. In fact, there aren't actually any trolls in Troll 2. Mind blown, right? Troll 2 is actually about a country town of goblins disguised as people that terrorize a young family from the city so that they can eat them. Before they eat them, they need to turn them into half-plant-half-human because Goblins are apparently vegetarian and can't do basic fraction math.

Troll 2 is incredibly fun to watch, and unlike most B-movies, there is very little downtime or painful sections to sit through. Grab some popcorn, a double-decker balogna sandwich, and strap in for the ride of your life.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime Grandpa Seth wizards the shit out of the scene like a motherfucking boss (Spoiler: He never does it any other way).
2. Anytime you see the one extra derpy-faced goblin.
3. Anytime you see green goo/ food with green goo on it.
4. Anytime you get lost or confused by the what's happening on screen.
5. Finish your drink at the pivotal "OHHHH MYYYYY GOOOODDDDDDD" and "Popcorn" scenes.

Foodfight! (Dir. Lawrence Kasanoff)


This movie. This freaking movie. This movie has been blacklisted from my household because of how terrible it is. It's easily the worst animated movie of all time, and somehow managed to hire on one of the most star studded casts of all time. Between Charlie "Tiger's Blood" Sheen, Hilary Duff, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Brady, and Eva Longoria, you'd think there'd be some redeeming qualities to this movie, but there aren't. This movie is painful. If you want to get the gist of the movie without losing your ability to smile or feel joy ever again, watch JonTron's excellent review of it.

The Drinking Game

1. Lie down.
2. Try not to cry.
3. Cry.






So there we are. We've begun our odyssey through 24 hours of terrible movies. I hope you're prepared. Next time, we cover the surprisingly awesome Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance, the unsurprising terrible Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and the heart-wrenchingly disappointing Samurai Cop.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you in hell.

-DG

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Festival Review Number Two: Graspop Metal Meeting

     When selecting which festivals to attend while on a month long Europe trip, there's quite a lot to take into consideration. It seems as if every country in Europe has it's own legendary metal festival, and choosing which lineup is the best can be torture for a music fan. After extensive internal debate, I determined the second festival I would attend. Graspop Metal Meeting is the premier metal festival in Belgium and made the cut for the festivals I would attend for two simple reasons: Meshuggah and Black Sabbath.

    Graspop Metal Meeting takes place the small town of Dessel in the north of Belgium. The festival is primarily a dutch speaking festival, as it is both in the dutch area of Belgium and attracts many metal fans from the Netherlands. While the language barrier did get in the way a few times and definitely limited by social interactions with the rest of the crowd, it was fascinating to experience a metal festival in country with different language and culture. Graspop had the feeling of a true European metal festival with foreign languages, a festival location in the middle of nowhere, and a lineup stacked with all the Power Metal and Black Metal you'd expect in the European metal scene.



     Going in I knew little about Graspop Metal Meeting, but the lineup this year was too good to pass up. Getting to the festival grounds took 4 trains, a shuttle bus, and a twenty minute walk. Unlike Download, which was right beside an international airport, GMM is truly a middle of nowhere metal campout. Once I finally arrived at the festival grounds I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that unlike Download, the campsite and main festival areas were right next to each other. You receive a micro-chipped wristband upon arrival that allows you to freely go wherever you'd like without needing to deal with security. I'd say this is a fairly representative characteristic of GMM, it feels like you are completely free, while there is still enough security to keep things from diving into chaos.

     The tone for Graspop was clear before even arriving at the festival, this was a REAL metal festival. While I had loved the crowd at Download, it certainly wasn't the die hard metal fan base that were storming into Dessel for GMM. Black shirts, tattoos, piercings, and the type of people who would scare the shit out of middle class white collar workers. While I might not look the part of a typical metalhead, I've always loved the metal culture and there is no place better than a festival to experience it. I was surrounded by a language I didn't know a single word of, in a country I'd only just arrived in that morning, yet I felt right at home. 



Next week I'll be reviewing the Day 1 bands,

Thanks for reading,
David, I'll see you at a distinct point in spacetime,
-JD

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Track Reviews: Run The Jewels - "Blockbuster Night Part 1" + "Oh My Darling Don't Cry" + "Close Your Eyes"

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. We're exactly one week away until one of underground hip-hop's most anticipated albums drop. Run The Jewels 2, the second offering from Brooklyn duo Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P) has had three of it's songs released, and holy Christ almighty, are they amazing. Prepare for some fangirling.


RTJ2 threw "Blockbuster Night Part 1" about a month ago, and boy, was it was a curveball. It's slower than any other RTJ song, and it's main swing rhythm can make even the most stonefaced person bob their head. As usual, Mike and El kill it with the bragging and violent lyricism, for example, the final verse by Killer Mike:

This Run The Jewels is, murder, mayhem, melodic music
Psychotics use it then lose it, junkies simply abuse it
That's word to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I'm pushin coffin
I probably smell like a pound when they put me in a coffin
The gates of hell are pugnaciously pacin', waitin'
I give a fuck if I'm late, tell Satan be patient
But I ain't here for durations, I'm just taking vacations
And tell 'em fuck 'em, I never loved 'em and salutations
Between shit talking Satan himself and that little stinging Phillip Seymour Hoffman reference, Killer Mike slays this first single.


Now we're shifting into higher gears. Trap beats dominate this track up until the final third where El-P's signature noisy sci-fi production shift into overdrive with some heavy distorted bass to drive home the final few verses. "Oh My Darling" is loaded with hyperbolic lines once again, telling the world how Run The Jewels stand as the defenders of real rap from the watered down mainstream scene.


This is Run The Jewels at their peak. Mixing their typical brags with some biting social commentary on the police, the juridical, and prison systems of the United States, this song brings in fellow anarchist Zack De La Rocha for the final verse. De La Rocha fits "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)" perfectly considering his track record for social and political commentary and his blatant antiestablishmentarianism. Yes I needed a dictionary to spell that. The beat to this song (which samples De La Rocha) has to be one of my favorite El-P produced tracks. Between the boom-bap drums and the overdriven bass licks, this has got to be one of Run The Jewels' heaviest songs.

I hope that now you're all as excited for Run The Jewels 2 as I am. Based on what I've heard so far, I think El and Mike might end up stealing my spot for best album of the year two years in a row.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you down the line.

-DG


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Download Festival Review part 5: Food+drink, facilities, organisation, and atmosphere

   Thus far I've covered all the bands and notable performances from my Download experience, but there's more to a festival than simply the bands. While yes, no festival would succeed without a great lineup, I've found there are several other core areas which have a huge impact on the whole festival experience. I've broken these factors into 4 categories in order to keep them consistent across all festival reviews.

Food + Drink


     Living off of festival food for an entire weekend was a bit of a scary idea going into the trip. Based off my Heavy T.O., Mayhem fest and Ozzfest experiences, I expected insanely overpriced poor quality food while minimal selection. Thankfully it turned out that European festivals are more along the lines of overpriced mediocre food with huge selection. There was the occasional food stand with top notch restaurant quality food, but you had to search and sample for a few days before you found them. I tried a different food stand for each meal of each day, and was rarely disappointed. The food was still quite expensive, ranging from 3£ for something small to 10£ for multi-item meal, but relative to the generally higher cost-of-living in England, the festival food prices were barely inflated compared to North American festival food. Beers weren't too overpriced for a festival at 4.50£ for a pint. Selection was poor with the choice of beer or cider and no brand selection but the sponsor brands Tuborg and Somersby were quite satisfactory.

Best thing I ate: Falafel
Falafel's were among the cheapest foods available and some of the vegetarian food stands served and the one dedicated Falafel stand (they made nothing else) made falafel's on a whole other level from any falafel I've ever had.

Worth thing I ate: Burger
It's a good sign that it took me several minutes to think of any meal that i didn't enjoy, but at last I remembered my first lunch of the first day: a very boring burger. It wasn't bad by any means, but tasted like a cheap burger and bun combo only reserved for school fundraisers and employee appreciation bbqs.


8/10


Facilities


     Never underestimate the importance of the facilities at a festival, it doesn't take much for 60 000 people to turn a clean lineup of toilets into a disaster zone. Download had some of the best festival facilities of my trip, even including a complimentary new pile of toilet paper ever morning (while other festivals expected you to pay for toilet rolls at the festival shops). Download did have free showers but they were oddly located in the middle of the festival village, so for some it was a 15 minute walk to and from the shower. Free clean showers were tough to complain about though.

     The campsite itself was incredibly packed, with about 10x the tent-density that I would later see at Sonisphere, but this just lead to making a lot of random friends with everyone around you. The campsite grounds were a field of long grass, so it was a decently comfortable bedding, but it was near impossible to sleep so that added little benefit. 

     Download was possibly the hardest place to sleep imaginable, with a metal circus in the village blasting music, parties all around that raged all night and low flying planes to wake you up every hour or so. I attempted to get a solid amount of sleep the first night but quickly gave up and decided to join the party and survive a weekend replacing sleep with caffeine. 


7/10



Organisation


     Nothing turns a festival from great to terrible faster than poor organisation. It's one of the worst things in live music when you go hoping to see all these amazing bands and end up missing 3/4 of them due to them all playing at the same time, switching time slots or any of the other ailments that frequently plague festival lineups. To my pleasant surprise, the organisation at Download was on a whole other level from North American festivals. 

     Download posted the stage schedules on the side stages rather than requiring you to purchase a schedule. More importantly the bands stuck to the schedule, and it was very rare that two bands I was interested in seeing were on stage in the same time slot. Download organizers seemed to actually understand how different bands will attract different people and usually slotted the heaviest and most extreme bands at the same time as pop punk or radio rock acts. Any bands I missed at Download were because I like most genres, but as an example I couldn't blame Download for putting Behemoth on at the same time as Linkin Park; the two bands don't share too many common fans. 


10/10


Atmosphere


     Now here's where Download annihilated the other festivals, the general feeling of the entire experience. I knew no one going into the festival and felt like I was friends with every single person coming out. Download had me smiling non-stop for the entire weekend, with subtle acts like checking wristbands by high five-ing security giving the festival an incredible cheery and friendly vibe. There were also several on-going jokes throughout the festival amongst the crowd, such if at any point during the day, if anyone yelled "STEVE", the sound of people yelling for Steve would carry for miles, followed immediately with many more joining in with yelling ALLEN in response. It all started right infront of me on the first day when someone was genuinely looking for their friend Steve, and the whole thing got hilariously out of hand from there. Another common random occurrence were points in the night when the sea of tents would perform what can best be described as a shouting-wave. Similar to how sports crowds raise their arms and do "the wave", but this involved random yelling and everyone joining in when the noise got near to them. No one ever knew why the shouting started, but you could listen as the sweet sound of random drunk shouting carried across the hills. The crowd were fantastic during live sets with everything from insane mosh madness to beautiful sing-alongs. The 60 000 mass of people felt as if it were one huge community of music fans. Random events in the middle of the day such as medieval fights also gave the festival a unique atmostphere. 

10/10

Ultimately Download was one of the best weekends of my life, I would recommend it to anyone, and would go again in a heartbeat if I ever get the opportunity to do so.


This brings an end to my Download review.
Thanks for reading!

David, I'll see you when I see you,

-JD

Gupta's Best of 2014 So Far

It's October, and you know what that means: we're halfway through the year! No, wait. That isn't right. This is just fluff text because I can't think of a joke to make light of the fact that my Best of 2014 So Far list is coming in 4 months late. Punchline.

List time! In no particular order:

Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun

The 'Don is back! Their twerktastic new album is exactly what I hoped The Hunter would be. 'Round the Sun sounds like the natural extension of Crack the Skye, toning down the proggy breakouts and stepping up the addictive hooks and psychedelic spaciness.

Brann Dailor takes up majority of the vocal duties on this album, which is great because he's stepped up his singing game tenfold since The Hunter. While I don't consider 'Round the Sun to be better than Crack the Skye, Mastodon have definitely put out one of their best albums to date. Listen: The Motherload


Iron Reagan - The Tyranny of Will

For those of you who don't know, Iron Reagan is a hardcore supergroup featuring members of Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour and Mammoth Grinder. Ultimately, this is Municipal Waste with more of a punk sound and politically heavy lyricism, but just because they're more serious, doesn't mean they aren't as much fun. Listen: Miserable Failure






'68 - In Humor and Sadness

Rising immediately out of the ashes of The Chariot, Josh Scogin has paired up with drummer Michael McClellan (of no fame whatsoever) to drop some of the noisiest rock music of the year. The whole founding of the band was based on being the loudest duo, and considering Scogin's live set-up has him running through two guitar rigs and a bass rig, I think they've accomplished that stunningly.

Don't expect this to sound a lick like The Chariot, though. Black Keys meets Black Flag is the name of this album's game. Listen: Three Is A Crowd

Body Count - Manslaughter

First off, I non-ironically love Body Count. Ice-T may seem like the least likely frontman for a hardcore group, but between his time in this band and his outstanding performance in Leprechaun 5: In Da Hood, he's quickly become one of my favorite celebrities.

Manslaughter is exactly what you'd expect for Body Count in 2014. Caveman riffs, d-beats, and Ice yelling about murdering people in horrific ways. This album does take an uplifting turn, surprisingly, with songs like "Back to Rehab", and "Get a Job", and their covers of "99 Problems" and "Institutionalized" are A+. Listen: Talk Shit, Get Shot

Electric Wizard - Time to Die

The Wizard returns with the newest offering of hazy, fuzz filled, crushing doom. This time, things take a turn for the psychedelic with Jus, Liz and crew working with layers and layers of effect-ridden guitar tracks rather than simple, lumbering leviathan riffs. The end result is the same: your speakers will give you a contact high, and your walls will be shaking from the sheer heaviness of the sound.

Legalize drugs and murder. Listen: I Am Nothing


Gridlink - Longhena

 In my typical fashion, I'm going to quote myself because I'm lazy:

Longhena sets the bar to an impossibly high level for any band that plays this strain of grindcore. Chang's banshee vocals, Matsubara's rhythm playing that somehow fits under the category of "shred guitar" (not to mention his actual lead playing), Fajardo's accompanying drumming, the string sections, the interlude track, holy shit people, everything fits so nicely together that I honestly cannot find a weak point to this album. It even comes with a set of "karaoke versions" of the tracks for those of you who hate Jon Chang. Listen: Look To Windward

Earth - Primitive and Deadly

Dylan Carlson and co. have always had hit-or-miss releases as far as I'm concerned. While I love albums like The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull and Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method, their earlier drone material and their latest bland offerings don't quite enthrall me in the same capacity.

Primitive and Deadly seems to take a page out of Earth 2's heaviness, mix it with some of their mid-career cowboy riffage, and introduce some great guest vocals for an album that stirs up images of lonely foggy nights and smokey dive bars. Listen: From The Zodiacal Light



So there you have it. These albums have stood out to me so far this year, and I'm sure there'll be a couple of more albums to add to the list by year's end. God knows how pumped I am for the new At The Gates and Run The Jewels records; I'm certain both will end up on my big list.

What do you guys think? Do you like the albums I chose, or do you think my taste in music is utter shit (more likely the latter)? What were your favorite albums this year so far? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!

That's all for now, folks. Jeremy, I'll see you whenever.

-DG

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Download Festival Review part 4: Day 3 Bands

Day 3


Thy Art is Murder


     Day 3 began with a mighty hangover and a series of mediocre performances. Thankfully it wasn't too long until Australian Deathcore band Thy Art is Murder were set to perform on the Pepsi Max stage, so I cured my hangover with the good old fashion strategy of just getting right back to drinking and headed over to the stage. While as a genre Deathcore became rather stale after only about a year in the spotlight, Thy Art is Murder have managed to breathe new life into the genre with a hilariously hateful album titled "Hate". Thy Art hit the stage with power, furious energy and a stage presence that perfectly matched their extreme and hateful lyrics. The crowd were spot on with every hook line, the most comical of them all being the classic: "ERADICATION OF THEM ALL, WHORE TO A CHAINSAW", which left onlookers terrified and confused. I had heard some negative reviews of TAIM's live show, but at Download they were spot on, with deadly accuracy on guitars and drums, and devastating vocals. If you're a deathcore fan, Thy Art is Murder bring everything to a live show you could possibly hope for, a few things you wouldn't expect.



Quick Review: Amazing live sound and an endless slew of hook line breakdown combos create one of the best live deathcore experiences you could imagine

9/10


Skillet


    The middle of Day 3 was a little lacking in excitement so I decided to head over and check out a few bands that I wasn't particularity fond of but was interested in how they would perform live. The first of these performances was American rock band Skillet, best known for having an incredibly attractive female drummer. While I didn't have any knowledge of studio recordings to compare the live sound to, Skillet's bassist and lead vocalist had a powerful and dead-on vocal delivery, while both backing female vocalists weren't nearly as impressive. Probably the most interesting element of the performance was the use of string instruments, as the band brought out a cellist and violinist to accompany the band on a handful of songs. Unfortunately in a moment of poor judgement the band decided to also add synth string effects, which drowned out any live strings and rendered the additional musicians as nothing more than something to look at while listening to digital string sounds.

Quick Review: Skillet were an average rock band with a great vocalist and poor judgement on what produces a good live sound

6/10


Emmure


     I also decided to randomly go see Emmure live. I had heard some people insist that if you shut off your brain and just jump into the pits with the intention of having a good time that Emmure can be a great live experience, so I decided to test the theory myself. I managed to get through the set without passing any judgement on the excessive use of opens notes, but I still found myself feeling rather bored by Emmure's live show. It was the same repeated breakdown frenzy for 30 minutes, and when compared to Thy Art is Murder's breakdown frenzy earlier in the day, Emmure had absolutely nothing to get excited about. I've never understood the appeal to Emmure's vocal delivery and live it was even worse than on record. The vocals had me cringing more than they had me feeling any kind of aggression. I tried so hard to shut my brain off and enjoy but I still ended up bored out of my mind.

5/10


Memphis May Fire


    So my experiment to check out bands I wasn't fond of didn't produce anything great, so I was back to the Pepsi Max stage to check out a band I knew for sure I liked. I've been a Memphis May Fire band since their debut EP, and had even been one of the few fans who liked Matty Mullins when he first joined (believe it or not, he was quite hated by old school fans before the scene girls made him the face of the band). This was my first time catching MMF live and I was stoked to finally get to hear how the band captures their sound on the live stage. The band took to the stage to a piercing cry from the hundreds of 14 year old girls swooning over Matty and opened with their new single Unconditional. To my surprise rather than hearing the punchy accurate rhythms and wonderful vocal lines I was expecting I was struck with weak energy, a live mix that only left drums audible and an off-key Matty Mullins. I spent the entire set attempting to comprehend exactly what was so bad about their live sound, but regardless of the cause, MMF put on what was quite possibly the most disappointing live show I've ever seen. The barely audible guitars were only noticeable when they made mistakes, played when they should have cut out and had feedback issues during quiet sections. While in many venues a poor live mix would be excusable and blamed on a bad sound guy, Download had consistently had incredible sound for every band over the last two days. It became clear that the band attempts to make up for their awful live sound by simply cranking the kick drum as loud as it can go, and attempting to drown out everything else in the process. I expected BMTH to be the band with bad live sound that still manages to impress scene girls, but MMF took their place.

Quick Review: While a few bands had been boring and mediocre at Download, MMF was the only actually BAD live performance and were by far the most disappointing band of my entire trip

3/10

Against Me!


     While the reviews of Day 3 might make it seem like this was a bad day, the afternoon was simply a dull point in what was otherwise a great day. The night filled with great performances began with American punk band Against Me! taking the stage. While I wasn't particularity fond of AM!'s newer material, I had loved some of their old albums and was very intrigued to see how their vocalist changing genders would influence their live presence. Against Me! performed to a mid sized, but very enthusiastic crowd and played a mix of songs of their new album and New Wave (because apparently even the band is aware the album in between those two was rather bland). Laura did a stellar job as a front-woman and came across as passionate and energetic in every song and very appreciative for the support in speeches between songs. Black Me Out live was absolutely incredible live as the amount of emphasis Laura pushed into the line "I want to piss on the walls of your house" gave the song an energy live that is just simply not there on the record. As much as I wish they'd play old material again, I was happy to hear a strong presence of songs off New Wave and the new songs sounded fantastic live.




Quick Review: Against Me! turned things around on Day 3 and put on a wonderful passionate punk rock performance

8/10


Suicide Silence


     In an odd combination of bands, immediately following Against Me on the Pepsi Max stage was American Deathcore kings Suicide Silence, featuring their new vocalist Eddy Hermida. Since I had already been close to the front for AM, I was able to get right up the barrier for Suicide Silence. Suicide Silence opened with Unanswered and the crowd exploded, squishing me to the point where I was struggling to breathe. I squeezed back a bit in the crowd and found a more comfortable spot to witness the madness, and when I say madness, I mean all hell breaking loose. The mosh pit was at least 20 meters across, packed full of people. There were crowd surfers on top of other crowd surfers, with hundreds of people climbing up to all simultaneously attempt to make their way to the front. There were moments when I genuinely feared for my safety and had to use every ounce of energy in my body to support the endless stream of crowd surfers. There was a moment when someone was frantically trying to make some floor space for something, and as a logical conclusion based off the craziness of the show, me and several others all concluded someone had fallen and been knocked unconscious. It turned out to just be someone looking for a lost phone, but the immediate logical jump to someone loosing consciousness rather than someone simply losing a possession brilliantly displays the insanity that took place during this set. Somehow this element of a genuinely scary live show seemed perfectly suited for Suicide Silence. I'd seen SS live before and knew the band would be stellar, the real question on everyone's mind was how would Eddy perform as their new front-man (especially since this was prior to the release of the new album). It took only about 3 songs for the crowd to begin chanting "EDDY! EDDY! EDDY!" as Mr. Hermida was unquestionably killing it. I'd even go as far as saying Eddy sounded better live than when I saw Mitch years back. This was a performance I felt thankful to have just survived, but I'd be more than happy to do it all over again if given the chance. 



Quick Review: Devastatingly heavy performance with Eddy doing a fantastic job as their new vocalist

9/10


The Dillinger Escape Plan


     Headlining the side stage on the final day were Mathcore legends, who are frequently described as the best live band in the world: The Dillinger Escape Plan. TDEP are among my favorite bands, with their new album being the best album of 2013 in my books. I had heard so many stories of the madness that takes place at their live shows and was barely able to contain my excitement. I'm very pleased to say that TDEP did not disappoint at all, and are definitely deserving of their reputation as one of the best live bands out there. As much as this might be a cheap cop-out for a review, I have to say that TDEP's live show can't be described in words, there's too much going on, too much chaos, improvisation and madness to put into words. I will however take this moment to brag about a small but amazing moment that happened during the song Room Full of Eyes. Most of the crowd were losing their minds but didn't know the words to many songs other than the occasional chorus, so when it came to the slow part in Room Full of Eyes, I was essentially a one man crowd, belting the lyrics as loud as I could (I absolutely destroyed my voice right then and there). Greg was busy climbing the rafters, so he wasn't even singing the vocals at that point, but apparently I was loud enough to that Greg took notice, looked right at me, said "well I guess I don't need this" and tossed the mic to me (from about 40 feet up in the air). Unfortunately he slightly missed and the mic ended up in someone else's hands but to have one of my favorite vocalists single me out like that was insane. In classic Dillinger style, they ended their set with Sunshine the Werewolf and brought out Thy Art is Murder's vocalist CJ to join in on guest vocals, which added a whole new level of brutality to that song. TDEP were a perfect final set to end an insane first festival experience.

Getting a non-blurry photo of TDEP is damn near impossible


Quick Review: There are no words for how good The Dillinger Escape Plan are live

10/10

Aerosmith


     I stumbled out of the Pepsi Max to find out that Aerosmith still had a handful of songs left, so I decided to see if the classic rock band still had the chops to pull off a great festival closing set. Within 5 seconds of me deciding to go watch Aerosmith they broke into their classic ballad Don't Wanna Miss a Thing. To my pleasant surprise, despite looking terrible, Steven Tyler still has a great voice. I ended up being extremely happy that I stayed and watched Aerosmith, as simply looking at the size of the crowd was something incredible. Witnessing 60 000 fans all packed into one field was a big part of the reason I wanted to attend these European festivals and it was a beautiful sight to behold in person. Aerosmith continued to play all the hits you'd expect them to save for the end of the set and encored with Dream On. They sounded great, had a lot of energy for their age and were a well suited final band for the festival. 

Quick Review: Despite Steven Tyler looking like his face has been run over by a truck, Aerosmith still manage to put on a great live show

8/10


Thus ends the list of memorable performances from Download 2014. Next Tuesday I'll post one final summary that reviews the campsite, facilities and other aspects of the festival experience.

Thanks for reading!
David, I'll see you tomorrow.

-JD