Search
Freelance PRO

Latest Posts:

Thursday
Mar262009

Crushtor.net's Guide to Crap Metal Videos

I don't know about you, but ever since the rise and dominance of the Live DVD, the need and want for metal music videos - especially those with a deficit of creativity - has sharply declined. Who gets excited over a metal music video any more, unless it's completely awesome? Here's a basic guide to metal videos which will save you time; once you get 30 seconds into a video, you'll instantly recognize it as part of one the genres below. Once identified, turn off your television, put on the record it came off and figure out the rest. Alternatively, you can imagine a much cooler video in your head.

Band Playing in Disused Warehouse/Old Church/Ruins
The old standard. Helloween used it, Iron Maiden used it, Judas Priest used it; it's good enough for any metal band on a strict budget that just have to release a video. Features nifty cuts and close ups of shredding, odd panning or steadicam work and the band pulling tough faces so the director can prove that he is able to operate the equipment to an acceptable standard. Occasionally the director might throw in some weird shots of buildings, children crying, forest running or other creepy shit for shits and giggles. Also: the thrashier the band, the crazier the camerawork.

Examples: Arsis - We are the Nightmare, Children of Bodom - Trashed, Lost and Strungout; Mercenary - My World is Ending

Band Playing Gig
Did you know Motorhead faked an entire live set for their first home video? Well, taking cues from that wonderful premise, bands also save heaps of cash by sticking some cameras in amongst a wild gig. They splice together the footage, forming a perfectly releasable video. Occasionally there's some narrative thrown in; but it's getting in the way of the shredding! Isn't that why we're still watching?!

The greatest cash saver I've ever seen was the In Flames/Soilwork "rivalry" videos: It featured them both insult one another out on the snowy streets of Gothenburg and having them both show up at each other's gigs (contrived of course) to cause all sorts of mischief! In the same venue! With the same crowd! Genius. You can also have a gig in a warehouse, which fulfils both wishes simulteneously.

Examples: In Flames - Jotun, Amon Amarth - Death in Fire, Soilwork - Rejection Role

Band Playing in Fantasy Setting
If the director's pitches of "in a warehouse" and "one of your gigs" falls short, the ultimate fallback has the band playing in some weird fantasy land that sort of doesn't look like a warehouse (even though nine times out of ten, it sort of is.) Castles, clouds, Middle-Earth, snow-capped tundras; they're all not warehouses, therefore fulfilling the band and director's objective of not having the video filmed in a warehouse.

Examples: Helloween - If I Could Fly, Nightwish - Nemo, Rhapsody - Unholy Warcry

Actually Cool Videos
If you're actually up at 4am after a huge night out and you decide to turn on Rage, you may indeed win the proverbial metal video lottery by actually witnessing one with a skerrick of inventiveness. Granted it doesn't happen very often and even the better ones are merely variations on a theme (such as Sentenced's Ever-Frost which has them at a gig not actually playing the gig). The truly great ones abandon conventions and dig up ideas further afield from the obvious, such as the David Lynch inspired ThereIn by Dark Tranquillity or the slick detective story (with them playing in a warehouse; but dressed up in rather dapper duds) from Blind Guardian in Another Stranger Me. The only completely awesome video I've ever seen would probably have to be the one for Trollhammaren by Finntroll because it depicts a troll party and troll parties are awesome.

---

In actual news: Interviewed Andrew Craighan from My Dying Bride. He. was. epic.

Sunday
Mar222009

All I Ever Wanted

Tip of my non-existent hat goes to Blabbermouth.net for giving me some shameless self-promotion.

I was thinking today, after some recent conversations with friends why I've wanted to go to the States for such a long time and not put Europe (metal fans in particular wonder that) or Asia or wherever else.

Because I used to have dreams about it as a kid - I'd go to school and be searched by burly African-American guards with voices in the sub-audible range, shuffle through metal-detectors and be bumped into by jocks on the way to my locker. Then the school bully would ask for my lunch money (could've been any denomination, Seppo money all looks the same) to which I would refuse. Then he would shoot me in the kneecap and I'd wake up with a sense of accomplishment. (Why did I never bang the cheerleader though?)

That's right, I had juvenile delinquent, school going, 2nd Amendment embracing grievous injuries as wish fulfillment.

Did a fairly brisk interview with Rob from Chimaira last Thursday; got a very, VERY highly anticipated on with Andrew Craighan, the master guitarist behind My Dying Bride this Thursday. Can't wait for that one!

Thursday
Mar192009

Alice In Chains - Sean Kinney Interview

A treat for all those AiC fans out there.

---

Although considered the newly resurrected gods of alternative metal and grandfathers of the noble grunge tradition, Alice In Chains are not invincible. Talking to founding member and drummer Sean Kinney, the last time he was in our fair land many years ago, he ended up in hospital, as he reluctantly revealed to me.

“Yeah, the last time I was [in Australia] I had a great time. Unfortunately I had to go to hospital. Jimmy DeGrasso [the drummer] from Suicidal Tendencies had to fill in for me when we went over to New Zealand. I can’t remember exactly what it was; it was a long time ago.

“I’m actually looking forward to getting over there [for Soundwave] and – well, you know – to not end up in hospital.” Nevertheless, it didn’t deter him from staying on, staying in Cairns for two weeks after his eventual recuperation.

Having been on hiatus for so long, Kinney remains cognizant of the weight of the expectation that he and the band must bear; he laments that Alice almost disappeared completely, never to be seen again.

“Well, we sort of shut down when, back in the day, when things were really starting to blow up around us,” he caustically explains.

“We made the wise career choice of never performing after releasing two number one albums back to back. So we stuck with that plan by not doing anything for ten years. Then of course Layne [Staley, singer], had passed away. This was something I didn’t foresee happening and it just naturally had taken its course.

“As long as it feels good and it’s cool and it’s genuine with us and we like it, it just kind of evolved to this point. Things are going along pretty great. It’ll be interesting too. It’s such a different world out there.”

The world he refers to is that of the music industry, which has undergone almost cataclysmic shifts since their time in the late 1990s – the age of the internet crept in and eventually exploded towards the dying years of their decade with the advent of Napster and more recently iTunes and Bit Torrents, a world Kinney keeps a critical eye on.

“It’s a world where people steal music and record companies can’t sell music,” he says, with a mix of excitement and disapproval.

“They sort of screwed up. It’s such a different time and place; there are so many real unknowns now. It’s going to be really cool.”

When Alice in Chains were around the internet was no where near as powerful a medium as it is today and the record companies who ignored its potential, according to Kinney, have paid the price.

“They fucked up, man. They just didn’t pay attention.”

“The great thing is that you can get your music out to a lot of people. But on the flipside, people want it for free. Studio time isn’t free; we put a lot of money and effort into what we do. They expect us to be talking to them twenty-four hours a day on blogs and things. It takes the mystery away, I think.

“We’re not from that ‘era.’ That was never really our ‘thing.’ It’ll be interesting to see how we fit in, if we fit in.”

Talking from the famous Studio 606 in Los Angeles, Kinney and the band settled on Grammy-award winner Nick Rasculinecz (pronounced Rask-yoo-len-icks) as producer, having an impressive CV having been behind the desk for Rush, the Foo Fighters and Velvet Revolver. The genesis of the new Alice record was humble, Kinney says.

“Well, we had a few tunes happening and it got up to the point where we said ‘Hey, let’s make a record.’

“So we started thinking about producers, and Nick’s the kind of guy like us; we don’t use a lot of the stuff that people use nowadays, we’re not doing song inspections and we’re not doing autotunes and shit like that. We’re really old school. We actually play everything you hear. (laughs) Sonically, he does some really great stuff. [He makes] what you hear is what’s really going on, and we really liked that.”

According to Kinney, Nick is one of the more laid back producers in the rock scene, content with having fun and making friends rather than pushing the band to their absolute limits. Would Nick ever wave a gun in their faces a la Phil Spector and The Ramones during their turbulent sessions?

“It wouldn’t surprise me though,” Kinney muses, “If he did something weird…but I’ve seen a lot of weird shit in my time and it’ll take a lot to throw me. So far it’s been really cool.

“A few years ago Rolling Stone said that we’d never do it. Now here we are, making music again and I’m honestly really excited about it. It’s amazing how life plays out like that. If it feels right, and it’s for the right reasons then it happens. But you never know where shit is going to lead you.”

---
Originally published in Buzz Magazine, February 2009 © Tom Valcanis / Crushtor Media Services, All Rights Reserved. Posted with permission.

Wednesday
Mar112009

A Guide to Grabbing Cash while Impoverishing Science

After flipping through a magazine to pass the time, I noticed an article on the worldwide phenomenon of "self-healing" - "The Power of Now", the name of a self help book authored by "spiritualist" Eckhart Tolle. While I have no claim to refute or confirm his methods validity or usefulness since I have no basis for a scientific, rational study, I do however take offense to his writings as since they are almost direct reproductions of Gestalt Therapy, a method of psychotherapy and individuation formulated by Dr. Fritz Perls in the early 1970s.

After some even very preliminary readings, it seems that Mr. Tolle has merely taken most of the Dr. Perls' Gestalt therapeutic teachings, cloaking them in Christian mysticism so as to appeal to a new "spiritualist" market.

For example, an extract from Mr. Tolle's book reads:

In your everyday life, you can practise [this exercise] by taking any routine activity that normally is only a means to an end and giving it your fullest attention. For example, every time you walk up anti, down the stairs in your house or place of work; pay close attention to every step, every movement, even your breathing. Be totally present. The moment you realise you are not present, you are present. Or when you wash your hands, pay attention to all the sense perceptions: the sound and feel of the water, the movement of your hands, the scent of the soap. Or when you get into the car, after you close the door, pause for a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath.

Similarities can easily be found with Dr. Perls' work, bolded sections that correspond to Mr. Tolle's writings:
(1) Maintain the sense of actuality—the sense that your awareness exists now and here. (2) Try to realize that you are living the experience; acting it, observing it, suffering it, resisting it. (3 ) Attend to and follow up all experiences, the "internal" as well as the "external," the abstract as well as the concrete, those that tend toward the past as well as those that tend toward the future, those that you "wish," those that you "ought," those that simply "are," those that you deliberately produce and those that seem to occur spontaneously. (4) With regard to every experience without exception, verbalize: "Now I am aware that ..."

...walk, talk, or sit down; be aware of the proprioceptive details without in any way interfering with them.

Also, the resemblance becomes starkly apparent in the following tracts:

Tolle:

If you keep your attention in the body as much as possible, you will stay in the Now. [...] When you are unoccupied for a few minutes and especially last thing at night and first thing in the morning, "flood" your body with consciousness. Lie flat on your back. Close your eyes. Choose different parts of your body to focus your attention on briefly at first: hands, feet, arms, legs, abdomen, chest, head ... Feel the life energy inside those parts as intensely as you can. Stay with each part for about 15 seconds. Then let your attention run through the body like a wave a few times, from feet to head and back again.

Perls:
As you sit or lie comfortably, aware of different body-sensations and motions (breathing, clutching, contracting the stomach, etc.), see if you can notice any combinations or structures—things that seem to go together and form a pattern-among the various tensions, aches, and sensations. Notice that frequently you stop breathing and hold your breath. Do any tensions in the arms or fingers or contractions of the stomach and genitals seem to go with this? Or is there a relationship between holding your breath and straining your ears? Or between holding your breath and certain skin sensations? What combinations can you discover?

While Dr. Perls uses the language of science and Mr. Tolle uses non-sensical abstracts such as "life energy", it seems that "The Power of Now" is a religious rehash of field tested, empirical science.

Mr. Tolle even ransacks one of the many psychotheraputic techniques from Dr. Albert Ellis, father of Cognitive Behavior Therapy to comprise one of his many "life-lessons." While Mr. Tolle can refute the claims and brush them off as coincidence (although I doubt that he could do so successfully) its disheartening that so many people would flock towards his spiritualist re-interpretation of already established therapies grounded in science - and let Mr. Tolle get away with it.

Saturday
Mar072009

A Future of News

If you're an obsessive consumer of news and how its reported, the earth tremor that shook most of residential Melbourne and surrounds last night almost undoubtedly proved the growing irrelevancy of the printed media. Within 10 minutes of it occurring, 12 of my friends on my Facebook had reported it in their status. (Some with accompanying "It's the end of the world" comment, which had me lamenting that Carl Sagan might actually be right and that these people never paid attention during their Geography classes) With a turnaround of 12 hours as opposed to a propagation speed of minutes or even seconds, major events reporting will soon be the domain of internet-enabled citizens with newspapers taking a more supporting role such as analysis or criticism of the event rather than direct reporting. A compiler of citizen-originated event reporting could even be achieved using some sort of rudimentary tagging system. Even then its hard to figure that anyone will bother to read that, either.