Album Of The Week – August 30, 2019

Yeah, I know it’s 2021. Yeah, I know the title says 2019. You’ll get the gist of it here in a minute, just bear with me.

August 30th, 2019. It was to be the culmination of the great “Stan Wars” between Taylor Swift’s mega-huge fanbase and Lana Del Rey’s smaller but dedicated stan squad. Twitter was a raging dumpster fire of toxicity and hatred hurled back and forth between these warring factions. It was an epic showdown to see if LDR’s album release could dethrone Taylor’s second-week of release album from its throne at number one on the charts. Fans were lining up to buy multiple copies of everything they could get their hands on.


On August 30th, 2019, Tool released their long-awaited fifth studio album Fear Inoculum. It was a 13 year wait after 10,000 Days arrived in 2006. Whatever contributed to the delay, Tool fans were finally getting this eternally sough-after release. And, to the chagrin of mega-stans everywhere, it would claim the number one spot on the Billboard charts the following week.

Tool – Fear Inoculum

Released August 30, 2021 via Volcano Records

Favorite Tracks – Descending, Pneuma, 7empest

Me? Yes, I’m a Tool fan. I know there are annoying Tool fans out there. I know that I am annoying. But I am not an annoying Tool fan, I promise. I’ve been a fan since Sober first hit airwaves in the early ’90’s but I’m a sorta-casual.

And being sorta-casual is ok with Tool, since they spend 13 years between albums. Math is a thing so let’s figure – I was 28 when 10,000 Days came out. I had just turned 42 when Fear Inoculum released. That’s a lot of damn time. Trust me I know, I was there.

I was a bit concerned when the news of the album hit. The preview tracks were fine but unrefined phone recordings aren’t going to offer enough of a quality preview of a Tool song to pique my interest. I was cautiously optimistic that I’d be fine with it but I did have my concerns.

How was it really gonna be? It had been 13 years. What were they like now? What kind of headspace was I in to process a Tool album in my early 40’s? It was entirely possible that my enjoyment of Tool was from a bygone era and that they and I had both moved into different waters that just didn’t meet up anywhere.

Those fears were unfounded. Fear Inoculum is an absolute masterpiece. A collection of songs that are each over ten minutes in length, entwined with a few interludes. It is a dense album that conjures atmosphere at the expense of accesibility. But Tool have been drifiting toward that kind of sound anyway so it isn’t some huge leap, especially the powerful title track from 10,000 Days.

I do have to give Tool credit – they released an album and title song about inoculation and contagion less than 6 months before a world-altering pandemic struck. It’s almost like they themselves opened a portal to something and ushered in a whole new reality. It’s just an odd bit of coincidence, of course, but it’s a bit morbidly funny given the times we’re in now.

Of the 7 main songs that comprise the album I don’t find any real fault with any of them. A few do stand out, though. Pneuma is a fantastic cut that probably hearkens back most to past eras of the band and also offers a message either about unity, the interconnectedness of the universe, or something like that. 7Empest furthers the band’s fascination with the number 7 on this album and offers a more confrotational view of things, though what those things are lay beyond the scope of my understanding.

It would take me several listens to truly process the album as a whole and also figure out what my favorite song is here. Oddly enough, in the end it came back to Descending, one of two songs made available before release. It is truly a call to arms and order as our world descends into chaos. Many fans have made the connection that Descending is like the antithesis to Aenema, the band’s celebration of misanthropy that cheers the end of the world (or at least California).

And yeah, the world looks pretty bleak to me. Has for the past several years. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I mean, I’m fine in my day-to-day life, I get through the days no problem. But this society, civilization, whatever, just looks like Hell. I don’t know if I really possess the strength of spirit or perspective to see through it to something better, it looks really ugly and like it’s headed down rather than up. And yeah, Descending might be a more fitting song for the times than Aenema, it might truly be time to sound the dread alarm. But in the end, might still wanna learn to swim in Arizona bay, I don’t know.

Fear Inoculum sees vocalist Maynard James Keenan take something of a backseat in terms of performance. He’s still there of course, but he’s not necessarily as out there front-and-center as he has been in the past. There is nothing wrong with that, this album is a marathon and the music as a whole sets the pace rather than any frentic vocal performance.

But there is a standout musical peformance on the album – this whole record is the Danny Carey show. The drums are unreal from front to back on this release. I’d highly recommend throwing on some headphones and just taking in the drums. It’s one hell of a trip.

We are now 2 years removed from Fear Inoculum releasing and giving long-starved fans new music for the first time in over a decade. I’d have to assume the band will not spend that long on a follow-up, given that them or us aren’t getting any younger. I guess we can place bets on whether their next album or Elder Scrolls 6 drops first. I’d put the money on Tool at this point.

I definitely enjoy the album and would dare say it’s at least my second-favorite of Tool’s releases, and an argument could be made for it taking the top spot. That’s a discussion for another time, though. For now I trudge on through the muck and mire of our world, taking solace in the fact that I love these really long, dense songs that so many people can’t stand.

My First Concert

As I grew up I went hard into music. I’ve discussed some of my earliest memories here, and a bit about my time with hair metal here. And more are coming, I’m building up to that pivotal year of 1991 where everything went wide open for me (and it might require more than one post to go over everything).

But for now I want to set aside my journey through tastes, genres and movements and get into a different memory – my first concert.

I always have been an album listener. A lot of my time has been spent at home with an album playing either as background noise or with my full attention focused on it. It’s the crux of what I do and my primary method of digesting music.

But, if you’re into music at all, you’re gonna go see a band live. It’s almost inevitable. I know the vast majority of music fans go to see live shows. I do know some people that bow out due to social anxiety concerns or other issues, but by and large we’re gonna pack the house and rock out with our favorite acts.

Before I get into my first actual show, let me take a minute to talk about what was almost my first show. Summer of 1991 – as I’ve said, the most important year in my music journey and also a year that the music landscape was pretty well blown apart and rebuilt.

I would be entering my freshmen year of high school that August, just as I turned 14. Like many, I had a friend who was in my grade but a few years older. He had his driver’s license and a car, and he had tickets to a hot show in St. Louis at a newly-opened outdoor amphitheater. He offered to take me.

Now, I won’t say I grew up sheltered, but perhaps semi-sheltered would be a fair description. If I was gonna go to this show I would have to just go and lie, saying I was spending the night at someone’s house. I could have plausibly done it but I decided against it. I was kind of a chickenshit kid and I feared the consequences, even if that was an abstract notion.

So the show I didn’t go to didn’t wind up being just a show. It was Skid Row opening for Guns N’ Roses. It was the infamous “Riverport Riot” show where Axl Rose stormed off stage after confronting a picture-taker up front. The crowd tore the new amphitheater apart for 3 hours after the band left the stage.

I could not imagine my life in high school if 13 year old me got caught up in a riot at a Guns N’ Roses concert over an hour away from where I lived. It wouldn’t have been much of a life, I know that much. As it was, my decision not to go at least left me to a quiet life of relative freedom, even if all I really did was listen to music and play video games. It would have been one hell of a story and perhaps worth it, but in the end it is what it is.

Now, let’s get to the point – my first actual concert. 3 year after the infamous St. Louis riot I was in a different place musically. I had been totally taken with what we now call extreme metal. I’d spent the last year-plus immersed in the true metal underground – death metal, grind, and the (literally) combustible black metal scene. Though back then death metal was my true jam.

And so it would be that death metal became my first ever concert. The bill was Cannibal Corpse with support from Grave and Samael at a place called Club 367 in north St. Louis. This meant that I saw Cannibal Corpse on The Bleeding tour, Grave on Soulless and Samael on Ceremony Of Opposites. For those unfamiliar with metal’s underground in 1994, that is one hell of a touring lineup.

There was a local opener whose name escapes me all these years later. They were a competent death metal band though I never heard a thing about them after that show. I got my first taste of “moshing” while they were on, though that was a pretty half-assed affair with just me and the friends I was with. I did stay out of the pit during the main attractions.

Samael played next and were absolutely unreal. We were all mesmerized by the keyboard player who just stood still as a statue while jamming out along with Samael’s cacophony of blackened hellfire. I don’t remember if I’d heard Ceremony… before then but I sure as hell did afterward.

Same tour, a show several days later

Grave were next and I was already used to their brand of the Stockholm death metal sound, with that goddamn guitar tone that gives people headaches. Thankfully I don’t get headaches so I was, and am to this day, still all about it.

Grave’s full show from the same show just several days after I saw them

The main event, of course, was Cannibal Corpse. Touring behind their just-released opus The Bleeding and also finding interest through their appearance in the hit movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the band were riding about as high as a death metal act could expect to in the early stages of the genre’s existence.

The set was electric, covering several tunes from the new album as well as classics cuts from their back catalog. I stood in awe more than anything – I was just a dumb 17 year old punk ass from a cowtown who was probably a bit out of his depth at a big city death metal show. It’d be a few years before I was a fixture at such shows.

After the show Cannibal Corpse hung out in the parking lot. I got my CD copy of The Bleeding signed by Alex Webster and Jack Owens. Unfortunately I misplaced it years later and no longer have it. I do still have the shirt I got at that show, although these days it’s something I just hold on to for sentiment rather than something I wear.

The full Cannibal Corpse set in Houston on 10/27, just six days after I saw them in St. Louis

We went back to school as the death metal warriors, which meant everyone else wondered what in the hell we were listening to. But that was just fine with me – I didn’t really care for the norms of high school life in general or specifically mine, so being the disaffected underground metal freak was plenty fine with me. Thankfully that didn’t have any repercussions, as it did for others around that time.

I guess it’s fitting that I saw this show in my last year of high school. Not quite a year later I’d be in boot camp and off to an entirely different world. And all 3 bands at that show would move on to different eras – Samael would reinvent their sound several times over the years, Grave would take a long hiatus before returning in the early 2000’s, and Cannibal Corpse would famously part ways with Chris Barnes and bring on George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer to send them off in a different direction. There’s probably something to be said for coming of age coupled with enjoying the moment and shifting tides as well an absolute loss of permanence, but I can find that in just about everything so it’s a thread I’ll leave for other adventures.

That was my first concert, my first show, my first real experience with live music. I’d go on to have many, many more and several of those will be covered as we press on with the chronicle of my journey. I still sit all these decades later with perhaps a bit of hearing loss, a pile of black t-shirts with band logos, and a sometimes hazy recollection of shows I’ve been to. But I can still remember that first time like it was yesterday, or at least like it wasn’t that long ago. It certainly was, but it was a hell of a time.

A Bit About Collecting

One aspect of music fandom/appreciation/worship/whatever is collecting. In our day and age, having a collection is not at all necessary. Collections of anything are cumbersome – they take up space, they cost money, they are at risk to perils like flood and fire, and they cost money.

I came up in the old days, when everyone had a music collection. And I’ve maintained one most of my life, from when I started piling up cassettes in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s. (Thanks, fake names and Columbia House!)

I would quickly move to CDs as the ease of use over tapes was massive. No more rewinding or fast-forwarding the end of a side, just let the album play. The CD would be my primary music format for a long time, probably from 1992 through to 2017.

Then there is the matter of the vinyl record. I would be exposed to vinyl at an early age – it was abundant in the early ’80’s. It was still for sale at retail along with cassettes and the just-emerging CD. I messed around with my parents’ collections, including a bunch of old 45 singles. That was mostly popular ’70’s stuff like Fleetwood Mac and Heart.

My current tape rack. This is only for looks, I don’t have a tape player.

I would wind up with a handful of my own records. I ended up with a stack of Sammy Hagar’s solo records that had originally belonged to my deceased uncle (sadly I no longer have those). I also wound up with other relatives’ hand-me-down records. I do recall having multiple copies of Boston’s first album and Frampton Comes Alive! There was some, uh, other stuff in there too – I kinda recall Captain and Tenille as well as a bit of Barbra Streisand. But overall I got some pretty good classic rock scores from my betters.

Then, of course, everything changed in the 2000’s. The digital music revolution hit – first as a pirated fileshare mechanic, then as a legit sales source innovated by Apple. What used to take up a lot of space on shelving could fit on a hard drive, on an iPod, and later on a phone.

I did not go quickly or quietly into the digital age – I went late as hell, kicking and screaming the whole way. “Only physical formats are real! I’d rather die with an 8-track in my hand than play an MP3!” I’m sure I said a bunch of other stupid shit, too.

My very disorganized CD shelf

Eventually I would give in and truly join the digital wave. In 2008 a buddy of mine upgraded his iPod and sold me his old one. And yeah, I finally understood it. I don’t think I need to explain the nuances of digital music versus physical formats. Can’t play your records on a drive or a stroll through the park, we all know that.

I never did fully adopt buying digital music, though. I kept with the CD as my main purchase point and I wound up with a collection of about 800 before I finally got sick of looking at so many plastic cases taking up so much space. I still haven’t moved on from them to this day but I’m on the verge of actually downsizing and keeping only the ones I really want.

Of course I’m not going to be left without a physical format to collect, and I’m sure most know what every good hipster got into back several years ago. Yes, friends, the LP record is back in business.

I had been buying records occasionally over the years and I finally made the switch to it as my primary format a few years ago. I got a bit panicked by the collectibles price spike of 2020 and quickly fleshed out my Iron Maiden collection, and also bought a bunch of other stuff because fiscal responsibility is for losers.

My first record shelf. Iron Maiden takes up the top left part, not sure how visible everything is.

As I sit today I do still buy records. Hell, I occasionally buy a CD because it’s cheap and I might need to evaluate it for a future project of some sort. But, like a lot of people, the allure of streaming music isn’t lost on me. I use Spotify pretty regularly to keep up on new releases and visit past music I don’t own or explore scenes and genres I haven’t previously had exposure to. And being blunt, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to give them 10 bucks a month than it is to drop a few hundred on any record I might possibly be interested in. I know there are issues of artist support there but I’ll let that thread hang for another time.

It’s been quite an adventure going down these twists and turns in how music is distributed. I like having a collection but I could point to more than a few reasons not to. At this point though I have some pretty cool pieces and there’s stuff I wouldn’t part with unless a total catastrophe hit. I still have a fair bit of Iron Maiden stuff I want to get and that’s before getting into the more expensive things out there. And even if I pare down how much I spend there are still boatloads of old, cheap albums out there I certainly wouldn’t mind having.

We’ll see what roads music takes in the future. The ultimate physical format, the vinyl record, prevailed just as it looked like physical collections were dead. But digital still serves the masses when it comes down to it. Is the next step a sort of neural implant, akin to something from Cyberpunk? Hard to say, but until then, I guess I’ll have some form of music taking up too much space in the house.

My second record shelf. Has some stuff on it.

Album Of The Week – August 23, 2021

What is an album, really? If I were ranking an artist’s albums I would use some kind of metric to determine that I’m only going to include full-length studio records. No live albums, no EP’s, no extended singles, no greatest hits compilations.

But for an informal exercise like the Album of the Week? I’m certianly going to include live albums at some point. My favorite band has like 13 of them, there is no avoiding that. And EPs? Sure. Some of my favorite music is in EP form. Broken by Nine Inch Nails is probably my favorite piece of music they did and it’s not really a full-length album.

So this week it’s time to look at a newly-released EP, only 3 songs, that has moved mountains in the metal and deathcore landscape.

Lorna Shore – …And I Return To Nothingness

Released August 13, 2021 via Century Media Records

Favorite Track – To The Hellfire

Lorna Shore have been around for a bit over a decade and, like most any band, have had to endure a few lineup changs over the years. The band were left searching for a new vocalist after some unfortunate issues with their prior singer, and this new EP is a showcase of new vocalist Will Ramos as the band re-enters the touring scene after a year of pandemic-induced inactivity.

And yeah, it is quite the showcase.

It’s been a pretty kinetic summer for me – sort of coming out of the pandemic and trying to find some semblence of a life after 2020 so I haven’t really been keeping up with stuff. I do sometimes watch a fair amount of reaction content on YouTube and I noticed some of the ususal vocal coach people I watch covering To The Hellfire when it released in June. But I was too busy doing the early work to launch this blog and, well, going out and drinking beer to sit and pay attention to what was going on.

It was just before the EP’s release when the band dropped a video for And I Return To Nothingness. I was killing time one afternoon and checked it out. I hadn’t heard much at all of Lorna Shore before so I was trying to play catch-up both with an unfamiliar band and the hype that was generating around them. I liked what I heard so I went ahead and started checking out those reaction videos on To The Hellfire.

Holy shit.

I’ve been listening to extreme metal since the early ’90’s, so nearly 30 years. It has been around for roughly 40. It is exactly what the name implies – extreme. And over all this time, it makes you wonder where else there is to go with it. How far can you really go with war, death, Satan and Hell? It’s been done, redone, overdone, underdone and at every point inbetween. There’s only so much ground to cover, so much innovation to find.

And then To The Hellfire comes along. This song about the acceptance of death and damnation pulls off a rare feat – it sounds exactly like Hell. In a genre where the topic of dying and going to Hell is derivative at best, Lorna Shore invokes a soundscape that marries the lyrics and imagery and presents it in a way that transcends any individual medium. It absolutely stands out from the crowd of “Hell, fire, death, Satan” songs that are out there. Like, a person with enough money could fill a large building with nothing but physical releases of those songs.

Of special mention is the song’s final minute. Now, I’ve never had an issue with breakdowns in metal, they’re abundant. I have sometimes wondered what their purpose really is, though. I listen to plenty of stuff that has no need of a breakdown. This song employs 3 to great effect, but the final breakdown here does something totally different. In an already crazy song it puts a whole new stamp on things.

There are entire video comps of people’s reactions to simply the last minute of the song. It can be a question we ask each other in the future – where were you when you first heard that breakdown in To The Hellfire? And if you can find someone who has never heard it, well, you can have a lot of fun seeing their reaction for the first time.

This song can’t be discussed without mentioning the talent of new vocalist Will Ramos. He sounds absoulutely inhuman and has been described as everything from a demon to a Dark Souls boss. And this is all from one song, it doesn’t even consider the other 2 tracks on the record or his live performances of Lorna Shore’s older material. He has raised the bar, moved the goalposts, all of that. Hopefully he really is a demon or something because I don’t know for how many years a human can pull this kind of stuff off without shredding his throat.

I’ve been going on about To The Hellfire, as everyone has this summer. But there are 2 more songs on the EP and both are absolutely worthy of discussion. Of The Abyss is a twisted blackened metal tune about some kind of bastardized rebirth that has its own sick-as-hell breakdown. And the title track is another excellent symphonic blackened song that is its own highlight on this 3-song return.

In the end though the star of the show is To The Hellfire. Lorna Shore came out to make a statement after retooling and they very likely blew away their own expectations. Whatever the differences between my more familiar older strains of extreme metal and anything -core suffixed (a discussion for another time), this just blows any divisions or barriers clean apart. …And I Return To Nothingness is a signpost for the deepest and darkest of heavy metal.

Sometimes in our hypebeast, FOMO culture, things get built up to a level they could not possibly achieve. This often leads to disappointment and desensitization. But every now and again something lives up to all the hype. Lorna Shore is totally in the second category. This is one for the ages and something I’ll remember until I’m swallowed by the womb of death.

S-Tier Songs, Vol. One

I talk about albums at least once a week when I do the Album of the Week feature on Mondays. And I do listen to albums on a pretty regular basis. My main form of music listening and evaluation is the album.

However, in the end with music, it’s still about the songs. Some albums are kind of mediocre overall but have a few great songs on them. And even the best albums still have some songs that outshine others.

For this new ongoing series I’m going to highlight what I consider the best of the best. It’ll be sort of my own song hall of fame though I decided against using that to name this series.

Instead I’ll go with S-Tier songs.

As I add more songs to this list I’ll start a page to catalog them and offer some parameters I’ve come up with as I do this. For now, let’s get right into it and enjoy the first of the S-Tier songs.

Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand

This tune always stood out to me from the band’s 1996 set Down On The Upside. It’s some kind of twisted murder ballad that also seems to leave something to the imagination. It’s a bit distorted and trippy and it fits well on what would be Soundgarden’s final work for a long time.

Lyrically the song captures the torment of someone who killed his lover and now wanders without her. The words are well-placed and also fit the psychadelic music with a sometimes vague quality. Yeah, it’s clear he offed his old lady and that he’s messed up but this isn’t some Point A-to-Point B story. There is plenty of exposition, or perhaps mystery, to be found in the lyrics. There is no clear-cut resolution for the subject or certainly his victim.

Part of this may be due to how Chris Cornell wrote the song. In a 2012 interview with Artist Direct, Cornell states that he wrote the lyrics while playing on the guitar. It wasn’t a straight lyrical sketch – the riff seemed to dictate what words should go where. I’d imagine that would lend to the song’s lack of straightforward storytelling.

It’s a little hard to say this song has too powerful of a personal meaning – I mean, kinda hard to relate to murder. (At least I would hope…) However, the idea of wandering without direction through a desert, literal or metophorical, just totally lost – that part can hold some meaning.

Though not really important to evaluation of the song I did want to mention the music video. I like a video such as this that simply accents what’s in the song. The entire thing is just the band walking through the desert, just the same as the song’s subject murderer. It’s nice when a video accompanies a song, far too often a video has its own identity that I feel takes away from the song’s meaning. Certinaly not the case here.

Why is this song S-Tier?

It’s the combination of almost post-grunge music along with haunting yet cryptic lyrics sung by one of the best to ever pick up a microphone. Both the imagery conveyed and the space left for the listener to fill in offer a masterful soundscape.

That does it for the first edition of S-Tier songs. Enjoy your weekend and try not to like, stab your significant other or anything.

House Of Hair

I outlined before the first part of my journey through life with music a few weeks ago. It’s time to get to the next step in that process. I left off in the mid-1980’s where I was starting to assemble a bit of a cassette collection.

Well, what did people rock out to in the mid- and late-80’s? Come on, you know.

It was the glory days of hair metal.

Yeah, I thought they were girls the first time I saw the cover…

Yes, hair metal. The saccharine love ballads and railed out rockers performed by androgynous men in very tight-fitting clothing and great make-up. They ruled the airwaves back then and there was no escaping it. For a semi-sheltered, naive kid growing up in the Midwest, nothing shouted out to me louder than the bombastic party culture of the 1980’s hair metal rock star. It was the polar opposite of life as I knew it.

Hair metal was everywhere. It was all over MTV, on the radio, on magazine covers all over grocery store media racks. People far and wide adopted styles based on the scene – big hair, acid washed jeans, blinding and garish accessories. It was a fast, loud and eye-catching time.

For me it was what shaped me as I entered double-digit age and approached that all-important mark of adolescence. All the cool kids in grades above me at school were all-in on hair metal and they were setting the stage for what I’d be when I got there. They would move on and pass the torch to me and my crew and we’d live forever in glourious hair metal harmony.

Guess not. Thanks, Kurt.

As for what exactly I got into, well, it was everything. You couldn’t leave your house without tripping over some new hair band’s tape. Every day a new hard rocker or sappy ballad would premeire on MTV. I didn’t really keep track of what was what – I just consumed, as all good ’80’s kids were programmed to do.

I wasn’t really exercising any quality control. I was too young for that, just put in the tape and jam out, you know? Thankfully for all of us, the record labels also weren’t exercising any quality control. Gainful employment in the late ’80’s involved somewhat being able to play an instrument and sing about driving fast or liking girls.

It doesn’t mean that good music didn’t exist back then. I can go back today and check out stuff like Cindarella, Tesla, Ratt and Skid Row and find some great music. I can just as easily find a million copycat bands and less than stellar efforts, but even today there is room for curating high-level hair metal music.

And yes, I realize the very definition of hair metal can be questioned. Who is or who isn’t hair metal? Is Tesla really a hair band? I don’t really think so but in all reality it’s hard to seperate every corner case from the larger scene of that time period.

Everything would culminate in one album purchase, one band who would put a stamp on everything for me at the end of the ’80’s. The very band who started this whole hair metal mess in the first place released their 5th album right as I was turning 12 and getting ready to enter the 1990’s.

Motley Crue were the ultimate bad boys of hair metal. They were the ones who brought this music to life and turned the Sunset Strip into ground zero for ’80’s music. They were larger than life and apparently stronger than death. They put out the songs that defined the era and were the act that most everyone aspired to be.

I wound up getting Dr. Feelgood on tape as a gift for some thing or another and that was the moment when I became completely obsessed with music. I played that damn album over and over and over again. I played it when we vistied relatives out of town, I played it when I was at home, I played it everywhere I could play it.

That was what changed everything for me and sent me into the ’90’s ready to be a complete music junkie. That’s exactly what would happen, but of course that’s another story for another time.

As for hair metal, well, it definitely lefts its impression on me. The goofy, slight kid with some bleached jeans, high-top shoes and a jean jacket with a Poison patch on it really did enjoy his time with that scene. I wasn’t exclusively into it, hell I was already listening to Iron Maiden at this time and was on a crash course to the heavier end of the spectrum. But in that place in that time, I was all about that oft-derided hair metal scene. From now to Ragnarok, make mine hair.

Album Of The Week – August 16, 2021

Our album of the week is an old-time cut from the early ’80’s. It’s a cult classic from a band that took on a life of its own after originally breaking up and has now ascended to legendary status.

The Misfits – Walk Among Us

Released March 1982 on Ruby Records

Favorite tracks – Astro Zombies, Mommy Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight, Skulls

Walk Among Us is a record I backed into for fairly obvious reasons – I was 4 years old when it came out. For whatever music I was exposed to in my early upbringing, The Misfits were not going to be counted among it.

About a decade later I was, like many adolescent dudes at the time, into Danzig. The Misfits’ former singer had found success in the early ’90’s with his Evil Elvis brand of metal. He was polarizing and is to this day reviled by some but I still hold up those early Danzig albums as examples of some truly great music.

At some point in that early half of the decade a buddy of mine needed to run to the next town over for something I can’t quite remember. I went along because well, you ain’t got much to do in mid-Missouri as a teen in 1993, or 1994, or 2004, or ever.

We wound up at a pawn shop and I sped straight over to their music section. The quality of music in a Midwest pawn shop was not up to the standards of any living being. It was the literal bottom of the barrel – just rejected tapes and CD’s that frankly should have never been recorded in the first place.

As luck would have it on that day, I spotted Walk Among Us in the pile of cast-off music. I paid $6 for a good used copy of this classic in a day and age where finding stuff like this wasn’t easy at all. The Internet was just barely a thing at the time and was not at all useful for commerce. And rural areas were sorely underserved for music – it was Wal-Mart or nothing.

I got home with my prized find and was instantly in love. I was nothing more than a tourist as it concerns punk but I was a Danzig fan and I was after everything he’d been involved in. And The Misfits were spectacular. The savage attack of unrefined horror punk was absolutely welcome to this young metalhead’s ears. It’s not some huge chasm between their stuff and metal anyway so it was pretty easy to see why so many in metal loved The Misfits.

The years wore on as they do and found both The Misfits and Danzig changing course and adding distance between them and their classic periods. Eventually they would find each other again and, if nothing else, they could count the money on the table and so they launched a few reunion gigs. I myself didn’t get to see them but that’s ok.

So there we have it – one of my all-time favorites and a more than fitting selection for the album of the week. 13 killer songs in 25 lean minutes and sometimes that, and some brains for lunch, is all you really need.

Most Hated Bands – Part Three

Here we are folks. The grand finale of the Most Hated Bands list from

Part One here, and Part Two there

#15 – Korn

Huh. Wasn’t necessarily expecting to see them on the list. But I guess it makes sense – if Limp Bizkit can pull the number 2 spot, then the originators of the nu-metal movement are probably gonna draw some ire too.

They did shift the sonic landscape of the 90’s pretty hard. Nu-metal is overall a pretty frowned upon subgenre so their place at the head of the table is likely why they generate enough hate to rank here.

Also Korn has the “annoying fan” factor. I haven’t really run into any cringe fans of theirs in a long time but it used to be a thing around the turn of the century.

I’m not really down with Korn but I don’t necessarily mind them. I won’t be camping out at a future Record Store day for a limited press of whatever record of theirs, but I won’t bitch much if I happen to be in a room and one of their tunes comes on.

Overhated? Eh, not sure

#16 – Oasis

Is Damon Albarn the one who programmed this algorithm?

No really, I do get it though. You can’t handle them. It’s the brothers – Noel and Liam. Shit-talking pricks so toxic that they haven’t dealt with each other for over a decade now. They slagged off the entire universe a million times in their heyday, they talked more shit about how great they were than a pro wrestler, and they’re better looking than you.

Also the whole “guy with an acousitc guitar ruining the party with Wonderwall” meme is in full force. What kind of parties do people go to where someone jams out “Wonderwall?” I have yet to encounter such a thing in real life. And if I did I’d be like “hell yeah, bro.”

As for me? I was into them in their heyday. I set them aside through the 2000’s up to their implosion at the end of that decade. A few years later I caught a wave of nostalgia and rode it hard, and it hasn’t let up to this day. Probably a top 10 band for me at this point, if I fucked with that sort of thing. This whole blog is really just a front for my budding career in Liam fanfic.

Overhated? You know you want it, you just can’t handle it

#17 – Pearl Jam

Yeah I’m totally cool with this one. Can’t stand them, never could. Glad you like ’em, glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t. They’re better than Creed, but so is the sound of a lawnmower at 6 AM on a Saturday morning.

Overhated? Not at all

#18 – Rush

Ok I’ll admit I was more than a little shocked when I first read the list. Rush are a beloved, immortal rock institution. Who the fuck hates Rush?

But as talked with people about the list I found out that Rush does, in fact, have a group of detractors. I guess not everyone is down with ’em. I don’t really know why in this case, I genuinely don’t understand what people don’t like about them. But hey, such is life.

Overhated? Completely

#19 – Nirvana

What? I am shocked that they’re here. They had a brief but extremely significant tenure that saw a massive shift in the popular music landscape, one that they were chiefly responsible for ushering in. I figured they were untouchable in that regard.

Maybe it’s age? I mean, it has been nearly 30 years since Kurt Cobain’s death. And while I see the band mentioned in reverent tones, I don’t see a groundswell of nostalgia surrounding them. Maybe everyone moved on and the people who never liked them were the ones left talking about them.

I never was a Nirvana fan but their stuff was cool and I have no problem giving them a spin. This might be the most genuinely shocking entry on the list, at least for me.

Overhated? Yeah, for the same reason as Bob Dylan – too important

#20 – The Spin Doctors

Ok – the only surprising thing about them being on this list is that enough people remember them to give enough of a shit to complain about them. Absolute trash-tier music. I’d consider kissing Dave Matthews on his open mouth before I listen to the goddamn Spin Doctors again.

Overhated? Never

Talking about the Spin Doctors got me a bit aggro, I need to take my chill pill

#21 – Linkin Park

We end on another one that kind of surprises me a little. Huge fan base, broadly popular. Yeah, they were radio rock and caught part of the maligned nu-metal wave. But I figured they’d transcended that and had sort of immortalized their place in music.

But I guess anything popular has its base of haters. I know a few people that like them but the vast majority of my circle isn’t down. I never was but I never really cared about them one way or the other. Hate’s too strong of a word. I guess there are enough people out there to carry them to the final spot on the list.

Overhated? Maybe, hard to say

That concludes the list. Let’s take a second to review a few that I was surprised NOT to find on this list.

Insane Clown Posse – I was pretty chuffed not to see the clowns make it. They catch more shit than a toilet, especially after the whole “fucking magnets, how do they work?” fiasco. But I guess it wasn’t enough to bring it home for them. Maybe I’ll become an important enough blogger to one day get a media pass to the Gathering of the Juggalos. That’s the end game here.

Bruce Springsteen – Every old boomer fuck on Facebook spends all day crying that they don’t like Bruce’s politics. I honestly thought there’d be enough of that kind of crap to get him a spot here. Neil Young and maybe John Mellencamp could have the same argument, but it’s Bruce that really gets the patriotic panties in a bunch.

Weezer – So a lot of the population doesn’t like Weezer, just read social media for 30 seconds and you’ll figure that much out. But you know who really hates Weezer? Weezer fans. Libraries could be filled with the amount of stuff written about how much Weezer fans hate what Weezer did or is doing. And that cover of “Africa” didn’t do shit for anyone besides Steve Luthaker’s accountant.

Tool – You know damn good and well the only reason Tool isn’t here is because they spent 13 years between album releases. The second Fear Inoculum got announced, every too cool for school jerkoff this side of the Equator got on their keyboards to cry endlessly about how much they can’t stand Tool. It’s still happening to this day. Tool is the one who, especially if they drop a new album in the near future, will crack this list if the algorithm updates down the line.

Well, that’s that. What do you think? Anyone you can think of that’d have a case for being here? Any thoughts on this part of the list? Do you wanna go to Tumblr and write Liam fanfic with me?

Most Hated Bands – Part Two

It’s time for Part 2 of our exploration of the Most Hated Bands as provided by science stuff from Here is Part 1 if you missed it. Part 3 hits tomorrow.

As a note, the list as originally provided counts down from 21 to 1. I am running the list in reverse order, from 1 to 21. Just a minor mishap with the secondary source I originally used that also ran the list in reverse order.

#8 – Radiohead

Of course Radiohead were gonna show up. I’ve certainly encountered no shortage of vitriol spewed their way in my Internet travels. They evoke strong reactions from both their fans and detractors. And their fans seem to trigger the detractors even more. I personally haven’t run into a lot of that but there’s definitely an “annoying Radiohead fan” vibe that plays into their slot on this list.

I have spun Radiohead a time or two but am by no means a huge fan. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually get into them but if a good act pisses a lot of people off it’s something I totally here for.

Overhated? Probably, but roll with what ya got

#9 – KISS

I would have been disappointed had Kiss not been on the list. They are a rock institution unto themselves, but boy do they get the blood boiling. Their possible lack of talent, their less than graceful aging, the sordid history of ex-members, a 35 year long farewell tour and Gene Simmons being kind of a dick a lot of the time will lead to people talking some shit on you. No way around it.

Do I dig Kiss? Yes, I do. I am a Kiss fan. I’m not the world’s biggest fan but I do enjoy some Cold Gin and Detroit Rock City. Maybe they are marketing and merch whores to a huge degree, but the hell with it, money’s money – go get it. (I mean, my favorite band would never deploy a marketing scheme quite like Kiss, but here we are…….)

Overhated? No, not really

#10 – Dave Matthews Band

If there is any sort of justice or sense of right in the universe, let this be the only time on my blog that I mention Dave Matthews.

I am not a fan. I don’t know what that stuff is, really. I don’t think he drinks, smokes or thinks enough because if he did he wouldn’t have graced us with his awful music.

Overhated? Impossible.

#11 – Coldplay

So I’m at my favorite craft beer brewery awhile back, sitting outside to enjoy a nice, socially-distanced IPA because it was still virus stuff then (just like now!). A song comes on that I hadn’t heard before and I thought it interesting. I used the old Google song identifier thing on my phone to find out that I am, in fact, enjoying Coldplay.

Do I actually like Coldplay? I never fucked with them before. I just rolled my eyes when I saw Chris Martin in the tabloids like any good angsty prick with no life would do. When they were part of the One Love Manchester gig I thought “hey, good on them.” Hell, they even jammed with Liam.

But that’s a league away from actually liking them. I guess I’m gonna have to consult Spotify and maybe professional help and see if I do actually dig Coldplay. I’ll report my findings.

Overhated? Probably, but maybe not.

#12 – Green Day

I don’t know, Green Day never really bothered me. Wouldn’t call myself a fan but I also never really worried about them. I didn’t change a radio station if they came on. I just heard some of their more recent stuff and it sounded like crap, but I don’t think that’s why they’re hated.

Of course they’re hated because they watered down punk and got massive. Punks don’t take kindly to that shit. I’m cool with punk even if I’m not one myself and I get the vibe of not digging Green Day. I just kinda don’t really care one way or the other.

Overhated? No, I get it

#13 – The Doors

Yeah, to be honest I see why they’re hated. The Doors have been worshipped for eons, Jim Morrison was some kind of freaky sex symbol/godhead figure, and their music has been everywhere forever. It probably gets annoying to someone who can’t stand them.

I have friends who like them. I have friends who hate them. I personally fall somewhere inbetween – I don’t mind some of their songs but their overall sound isn’t really my jam.

Overhated? I don’t know

#14 – Metallica

At first I was surprised to see their name on the list. They are one of the biggest bands ever, they defied genre and expectations to conquer the world, they have a gargantuan fanbase and they do unconventional and cool shit sometimes.

But then I realized who hates Metallica. No one hates Metallica more than Metallica fans. No one bitches about shit they like and don’t like more than metalheads. I know, I’ve done this dumb shit for over 30 years now.

Metallica changed tack in 1991 and took over the world with a more accessible, polished sound. They also alienated legions of die-hard supporters who wanted it longer and harder. They continued changing their sound, getting haircuts, suing Napster and doing other shit that caused consternation among the metal community.

There’s also Lars Ulrich. People love to hate Lars. I wonder how much of the band’s placement on this list is affected purely by Lars hate. Personally I have no issue with the dude but that’s just me.

Where do I stand with Metallica? I’ll take the first four albums, a bit of Load, and Hardwired. The other stuff isn’t for me, to varying degrees. I did once look back in anger at the band for their deviant ways but over time I quit giving a shit and agreed with others that a band ought to do what they want at the end of the day. It isn’t for me to tell one of the biggest and most influential acts in the world how to record or how to run their business.

Overhated? Yeah, to what extent I don’t know

I’ll wrap up the final 7 spots on the list tomorrow with Part 3.

Most Hated Bands – Part One

Earlier in the year a site called released a list of the world’s most hated bands, according to science. This list was compiled by the use of algorithms that measured a series of metrics across several platforms. After going through the cesspool of the Internet for long enough they provided a ranked list of the most hated bands.

As an FYI, the list runs from 21 to 1, though my list starts at the top and works its way down. I used a different source to write this but decided to link to the original source for the post. My apologies, and please scroll down to find 1 through 7 and the least surprising thing you’ve probably ever seen in music discussion.

It’s an interesting topic. I read through the list and see a lot of bands that yeah, they’re gonna be on this list. There’s a few that caught me off guard, too. Some of the bands I don’t care about, others I like. And at least a few I join in on the hate campaign. But here we have this definitive, ranked and science-backed list of the bands that people bitch about the most.

There are 21 bands on the list. I’ll split this into 3 parts and tackle 7 bands at a time so I can spread the good vibes and cheer over a greater time span.

#1 – Nickelback

I mean, no shit Nickelback takes the top honors here. Talking trash about Nickelback has been a prime hobby of every disaffected angstwhore for the past 20 years. If you’re bored on Twitter and need something to take a shot at, Nickelback is always there for you.

The truth is that, yeah, Nickelback are overhated. They’re just a damn rock band. Sure, they’re mega-popular and influenced a bunch of soundalikes back all those years ago, but it’s whatever. Yeah, that song about the photographs is ultra shitty, but beyond that I really don’t have time to care about Nickelback.

Overhated? Yeah, but just like Thanos, this was inevitable.

#2 – Limp Bizkit

Good old Limp Bizkit, in at number 2, and not at 1 just because Nickelback exists.

And yet, here we are over halfway through 2021 and Fred Durst and company are in the midst of some rennaissance. A few years of memes about the band created this backdoor into a new appreciation for them and the group seem ready to capitalize on it.

I tried to like them for about 20 minutes when they blew up in ’99. Then I turned my nose up at them for the next few decades. Now? The world is so screwed and everything is so upside-down that honestly, it’s just one of those days. I can set aside any false pretense of intellect and have some fun for a bit.

Overhated? Yes and no, somehow.

#3 – Creed

I can recognize the life of its own quality that Nickelback hate has. I can even find retro appreciation for Limp Bizkit, one of the world’s most derided bands.

But Creed? Please take this Pearl Jam-meets-praise and worship trash somewhere else. I don’t need some ham-fisted warbling about God and guilt when I’m trying to have … well, literally anything else. If any cosmic forces could convene to make sure this group doesn’t re-up for a cash grab reunion tour, that would be great.

Overhated? If every sentient entity in the universe focused their energies on hating Creed it would still not be enough.

#4 – U2

Well, can’t say I’m surprised to see the ol’ U2 on the list. They were bigger than life at more than one point in history. Bono does come off as a douche sometimes but he doesn’t personally bother me.

I really don’t mind the stuff from the 80’s but I don’t necessarily have to hear it again either. Not a whole lot to say, no one is shocked that U2 made the cut.

Overhated? Eh, no.

#5 – Mumford and Sons

I’m a little shocked to see them this high on the list. But after thinking about it, not really. Their shit is pretty weak and I’ve honestly never heard anyone say anything good about them. In fact I’ve heard plenty of people slag them off, so I can at least say I run in the right circles after all these years.

Overhated? No, but a very strong showing for a more recent-ish band

I mean, I’m not gonna post a fucking Mumford and Sons video. Might as well ride the hot hand.

#6 – Bob Dylan

So I guess I shouldn’t register shock that he’s here, but it seems out of place to me. I mean, I won’t cop to being a Dylan fan, just never got into him.

Bob Dylan is one of the most important forces in American music, like, ever. I understand how much he has contributed to the art form even if I don’t personally jam to his stuff. I think that appreciation ought to mean something outside of one’s tastes and fandoms. There is an objective side to music and Dylan clears that bar by leaps and bounds.

Overhated? Yes, he shouldn’t be on the list.

#7 – Phish

I can’t cop to liking the jam band stuff at all, but I’ve had friends that are all about it. It’s definitely its own scene and one I’ll leave them to. I’ve never listened to them, I probably never will, and on we go to other stuff.

Overhated? I don’t care

That’s it for part one. Part 2 drops Thursday and Part 3 wraps things up on Friday. Till then let’s break stuff.