Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Movie Poster of the Week: Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)

Mortal Decay - Brutalizing Creations (1995)

I understand that many folks out there equate these guys with the whole "br00tal/slam" death metal thing as a result of a few of the members other involvements (ahem... 'Waking the Cadaver!), not to mention that MDK were essentially weaned during the mid-late 90's alongside many of that genre's pioneers, such as Dying Fetus, Disgorge (U.S.), Gorgasm and Devourment. I've always felt that it was a rather unfortunate tag given that the band's earlier material has more in common with the Scandinavian death metal scene of old while their full length endeavors were much more thought out and, frankly, on a much higher level than the lion's share of their generational counterparts.

Brutalizing Creations is the last release by the band to feature the utterly bludgeoning low end guitar attack that one could rightfully equate with something that could have easily been released from Finland circa 1991. Oddly enough, original vocalist John Pauline was something of a dead ringer to Demilich's ultra-croak master himself, Antti Boman, though Pauline, believe it or not, had a much wider array of weaponry in his vocal arsenal such as raspy/higher ended shrieks and some rather hateful sounding bellows that bring to mind the first Deicide album.

As previously mentioned, the guitars are ridiculously low tuned and their masters knew just how to properly manipulate each riff and nuance to create a truly gloomy and morbid atmosphere. Another thing that I always loved about this demo is the frequent use of harmonics. To me, there is nothing eerier sounding than a bombastic low ended double chug followed by a creepy, high pitched "whoop"!

The lyrics are a true crime readers wet dream as the majority of the lyrics are inspired by a multitude of real life serial killers and their exploits. Really, Mortal Decay is one of the only bands that, for my money, successfully covers this territory as the music truly goes hand in hand with the lyrical content. There are some genuinely bizarre and cringe inducing moments where the music perfectly captures a particular phrase, such as the harmonic laden chug that accompanies the line "photographs of the deceased in assorted positions", and if that wasn't enough, the voice that Pauline employs to accentuate the moment is among the most disturbing and truly horrendous I've heard in my 25 or so years of listening to death metal.

The final piece to the sordid puzzle is the absolute stellar drumming of Anthony Ipri. I don't mean stellar in the robotic and mechanical sense that most folks seem to think of when they envision skills behind the kit. There is a purity, and "earthiness", if you will, to Ipri's technique that I find to be sorely lacking in the underground metal scene. Somewhere along the way, people became obsessed with blast beats and this air tight and clinical approach that almost sounds unreal to my ears. Ipri's style hearkens back to the days of old when a recording sounded slightly better than a live recording, meaning, the band actually sounded like they got together and fucking jammed with one another. Not this totally lifeless and overproduced way of recording things that every two bit death metal band has been obsessed with as of late.

Again, Brutalizing Creations and the demo before it, Grisly Aftermath, are supremely reminiscent of the style of death metal that was being released from out of Scandinavia during the late 80's-early 90's. There are a few blasts here and there but there is a strong emphasis on doom laden atmosphere with a goodly sum of mid paced chugging as well. In my mind, this is a classic release through and through. MDK would follow this up with their first full length, 'Sickening Erotic Fanaticism', which, decent in its own right, will never hold a candlestick to the band's second and third demos, which I'd put up against just about any of the classic releases to have come out of Sweden or Finland during those countries golden years.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Case Against Death Metal

I'm really not a big fan of the whole "OSDM" bullshit craze that has been flaring like a Herpes outbreak within the last few or so years. At 37, I'm old enough to remember having to actually get out there and do the required footwork that it took in order to unearth the really crusty and obscure gems that the death metal underground had to offer. These days, ANY-fucking-one can gallop on over to Youtube or glance at any of the 75,000 or so band profiles on Metal-Archives and walk away a self professed scholar of all things metal. Now I've never been big on crying about and/or using the word "trendy" to describe the mounting popularity of a particular genre, but I cannot help but feel that that's exactly what death metal has become as of late, and what's worse is that it's happening to bands such as Incantation, Autopsy, Abhorrence, etc... bands who would never in a million years have been considered to be trendy 10-20 years ago are now the recipients of the most absolutely pretentious fanbase to have ever latched onto a style of music within the last 100 or so years. "Like, oh my god, like, my brand new vintage Severed Survival spaghetti strap arrived this afternoon!", "Like, oh my god, my 2 ft Incantation dildo signed by Johnny Mac & Cheese is scheduled to arrive in my P.O. Box this evening!". Fuck. They're fucking everywhere. You'll especially find them staggering around in that teenage wasteland also known as 'social media'.

One of the more annoying aspects of this current generation of 'OSDM' flagbearers are the overused mantras such as "No Bill Ward = No Black Sabbath" or "only vinyl is real" not to mention absolutely absurd and infinitely pompous statements like "Demigod from Canada can't use their name because Demigod from Finland is more Kvlt". BARF. When exactly did these twats become the spokespersons for all that is cool and "right" in the metal "underground"? The internet is indeed a double-edged sword as now, more than ever before, we are "treated" (subjected) to the opinion of every douche-bag hipster from here to Zeta Reticuli as well as 9,000,000 photos of themselves posing in front of their bathroom mirror. To me, it matters not how many washed up/has been underground death metal "celebrities" you sat there and collected over on Facebook. You're still a pretentious and superficial attention seeker wielding your meaningless opinion around as if the "statue built in your honor" justifies the diarrhea gushing fourth from out of your cephalic cunthole.

Throughout my almost 4 decades on this planet, I have never seen such an overwhelming need to confound and one-up each other as now, an epidemic turned pandemic with the advent of social media sites such as Myspace, Facebook, Last-FM, Tumblr and so on. Absolutely NO one gives a fuck about anyone else's interests or opinions. It's all about shoving their own down your throat. A cyber-sea of self important face-huggers, hauling ass towards you in order to be the first to violently gag you with their thoughts and opinions... on EVERY-fucking-thing, and the so-called "newbies" aren't the only ones. Every two-bit cretin who released a now "kvlt" rehearsal demo that was recorded in their Grandparent's basement 30 years ago have also crawled from out of the confinements of said basement to "lend" their oh so sought after take on the profound machinations of what it takes to be cool in the metal underground.

One of the biggest and most rampantly homosexual hipster fests to rear its condom-less head was the reaction to Morbid Angel's 'Illud Divinum Insanus'. Do I think that that album is praiseworthy? Not in the slightest, and no, the fact that the band claims to have written and released the album in the interest of themselves does little to convince me that statements such as that are nothing more than an attempt at justifying a nearly catastrophic and creative misstep on their part, the type of which not seen since 'Cold Lake'. No, I wasn't terribly enthralled by MA's latest, yet I never once took it personally, nor was it enough for me to forsake the band's classic material. On the other hand, however, veritable legions of whiny butthurt denizens spread across the internet felt it was their duty to thoroughly trash the band as if Morbid Angel set out to personally offend every snot nosed metal faggot across the globe. As if these momos actually went into their pockets and paid for the album. Yeah right. Funny how months in advance, dweebs and douche-bags alike were leaking their opinions on the album from out of their gaping assholes up until and well after its release. All of a sudden it became cool to trash Morbid Angel. The "in" thing to partake in. Every nu/metal core homo that had recently discovered Incantation and Autopsy within the last six months were now all of a sudden gravely offended by Morbid Angel's actions. Funny enough, I can distinctly remember each time a Morbid Angel album was released since 'Altars...', there was a hearty group of "unholier than thou" faggot metal hipsters that claimed that the band has "lost it" and how only "Altars..." was worth owning. Fast forward to 2011 and you would think that the whole world had not once lost faith or interest in the band until their latest album, with all manners of doofus cuntholes making grand proclamations on their Facebook pages and personal blogs that "Morbid Angel" is no longer relevant, yada, yada, yada. Not so sorry to inform you that MA will always be relevant. They pretty much raised the bar as high as it could go, and each and every band thereafter has more or less jocked their technique in an attempt to ride their creative coattails. Every time you hear a death metal band incorporate a blast beat or some insanely odd time signature, you can thank Morbid Angel. Their "relevance" was put firmly into place well over 20 years ago and shall remain as long as their are humans left on the planet to discover music.

Of course the other tell-tale hipster revelation is the recent interest in absolutely everything "old school death metal". I've noticed that in their quest to out-old school and out-undergound everyone around them, OSDM hipsters have taken to publicly embracing each and every piece of shit death metal band that reared their phonic hooked mongrel cabezas 20 years ago, just to appear as if they've heard of and own everything by every el-fucking-lame-O has/never been DM band they "discovered" courtesy of Metal-Archives and Youtube quickly followed by a visit to Rapidshare or Mediafire. Of course, these are the same clowns who scream on every comment section known to Man how "vinyl rules" and "only vinyl is real".

There was actually a time when I was hopeful that death metal would achieve commercial success, withOUT losing an ounce of integrity. I've grown to not only lose hope in that possibility but largely lose interest in it as well. When I was growing up in the 80's and 90's, many of the "metalheads" that I knew were borderline (and in many cases, all out) delinquents. People that looked and appeared as if they truly "practiced what they preached"! Nowadays, I look at this new generation with complete disdain. Somewhere along the way, Death Metal lost its spiritual edge. Sure, the music is as abrasive (though infinitely less interesting) as it has ever been, but something is amiss. Aside from a pitiful handful of tried and true bands and individuals, I have, for the most part, lost interest in something that I spent the majority of my life obsessing over. Despite the overwhelming accessibility of it all, death metal and its minions have become one and the same with all other aspects of our plastic society. Gone are the dusty record shops and the pigeon sacrificing, LSD addled youth rocking the feathered mullet and Slayer 'T'. They have been replaced by a generation of whiny and opinionated fags over-concerned with how underground and "kvlt" they appear to be.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Left? No Thanks!

by John Zerzan

It isn't that there's no energy afoot in the world. On any given day on any continent, one can see anti-government riots; direct actions in support of animal liberation or to protect the earth; concerted efforts to resist the building of dams, superhighways, industrial installations; prison uprisings; spontaneous outbreaks of targeted vandalism by the fed-up and pissed-off; wildcat strikes; and the energy of countless infoshops, zines, primitive skills camps, schools, and gatherings; radical reading groups, Food Not Bombs, etc. The list of oppositional acts and alternative projects is very considerable.
What isn't happening is the Left. Historically, it has failed monumentally. What war, depression or ecocide did it ever prevent? The Left now exists mainly as a fading vehicle of protest in, say, the electoral circuses that fewer and fewer believe in anyway. It hasn't been a source of inspiration in many decades. It is dying out.
The Left is in our way and needs to go.
The juice today is with anarchy. For about ten years now it has become steadily clearer that kids with passion and intelligence are anarchists. Progressives, socialists, communists are grey-headed and do not turn on youth. Some recent writings by leftists (e.g. Simon Critchley's Infinitely Demanding) express the hope that anarchy will revive the Left, so in need of reviving. This seems to me unlikely.
And what is anarchy today? This is the most important story, in my opinion. A basic shift has been underway for a while, one that has been quite under-reported for fairly obvious reasons.
Traditional or classical anarchism is as outmoded as the rest of the Left. It is not at all part of the oft-noticed surge of interest in anarchy. Note the usage here: it isn't anarchism that is moving forward, but anarchy. Not a closed, Eurocentric ideology but an open, no-holds-barred questioning and resisting.
The dominant order has shown itself to be amazingly flexible, able to co-opt or recuperate countless radical gestures and alternative approaches. Because of this, something deeper is called for, something that can't be contained within the system's terms. This is the primary reason for the failure of the Left: if the basics are not challenged at a deep level, co-optation is guaranteed. Anarchism, until now, has not left the orbit of capital and technology. Anarchism has accepted such institutions as division of labor and domestication, prime movers of mass society––which it has also accepted.
Enter a new outlook. What is pre-eminently coming on goes by many names: anarcho-primitivism, neo-primitivism, green anarchy, civilization critique, among others. For short, let's just say we are primitivists. There are signs of this presence in many places; for example, in Brazil, where I joined hundreds of mostly young people at the Carnival Revoluçao in February 2008. Many told me that the primitivist orientation was the topic of conversation and that the old anarchism was visibly expiring. There is an anti-civilization network in Europe, including informal ties and fairly frequent gatherings in countries from Sweden to Spain and Turkey.
I remember my excitement upon discovering Situationist ideas: the emphasis on play and the gift, earthly pleasures not sacrificial self-denial. My favorite line from that current: "Under the pavement, the beach." But they were held back by the workers councils/productionist aspect of their orientation, which seemed at odds with the playful part. Now it is time to drop the latter, and fulfill the other, far more radical part.
A young woman in Croatia took it all further with her conclusion that primitivism is at base a spiritual movement. Is the quest for wholeness, immediacy, reconnection with the earth not spiritual? In November 2008 I was in India (Delhi, Jaipur), and could see that presenting an anti-industrial approach resonated among people of various spiritual backgrounds, including Gandhi-oriented folks.
Scattered primitivist voices and activities now exist in Russia, China, and the Philippines, and doubtless elsewhere. This may not yet constitute a movement surging below the surface, but reality is pushing in this direction, as I see it. It's not only a logical development, but one aimed at the heart of the reigning denial, and long overdue.
This nascent primitivist movement should come as no surprise given the darkening crisis we see, involving every sphere of life. It is ranged against industrialism and the high-tech promises, which have only deepened the crisis. War on the natural world and an ever more arid, desolate, meaningless technoculture are blatant facts. The continued march of the Machine is not the answer but, profoundly, the problem. Traditional, leftist anarchism wanted the factories to be self-managed by the workers. We want a world without factories. Could it be clearer, for example, that global over-heating is a function of industrialization? Both began 200 years ago, and each step toward greater industrialization has been a step toward greater global overheating.
The primitivist perspective draws on indigenous, pre-domestication wisdom, tries to learn from the million years of human existence prior to/outside civilization. Gatherer-hunter life, also known as band society, was the original and only anarchy: face-to-face community in which people took responsibility for themselves and each other. We want some version of this, a radically decentralized lifeworld, not the globalizing, standardizing reality of mass society, in which all the shiny technology rests on the drudgery of millions and the systematic killing of the earth.
Some are horrified by such new notions. Noam Chomsky, who manages to still believe all the lies of Progress, calls us "genocidists." As if the continued proliferation of the modern techno-world isn't genocidal already!
I see a growing interest in challenging this death march we are on. After all, where has Enlightenment or modernity made good on its claims of betterment? Reality is steadily impoverished in every way. The now almost daily school/mall/workplace massacres speak as loudly as the eco-disaster also unfolding around the globe. The Left has tried to block a sorely-needed deepening of public discourse, to include questioning the real depth of the frightening developments we face. The Left needs to go so that radical, inspiring visions can come forth and be shared.
An increasingly technified world where all is at risk is only inevitable if we continue to accept it as such. The dynamics of all this rest on primary institutions that must be challenged. We are seeing the beginnings of this challenge now, past the false claims of technology, capital, and the culture of postmodern cynicism––and past the corpse of the Left, and its extremely limited horizons.

John Zerzan: An Interview

Interview with Ross Andersen
for The Atlantic Online, October 13, 2011

One has had to work hard over the last week to find an ill word about Steve Jobs the technologist.  While some have attacked Jobs as a personality, or as a ruthless businessman, even his harshest critics have agreed that his dazzling inventions have been a force for good in the world.

You might think of John Zerzan as the anti-Steve Jobs. Zerzan is an intellectual leader of the anarcho-primitivist movement, an ideology that regards technology as a destroyer of human communities.  His first brush with national prominence came after a 1995 interview with the New York Times in which he expressed some sympathy with the ideas, if not the methods, of Ted Kaczynski. Yesterday I spoke with Zerzan by phone in order to gather his thoughts on what Jobs meant to the world of technology, and to our culture at large.

As someone openly opposed to technological progress, have you been frustrated by all of the public mourning and tribute that has attended Steve Jobs' passing?

Zerzan: I am, though I'm not surprised at all given the popularity of these devices and the cultural predominance of technology.  Jobs has been in the limelight for so many years, you kind of expect that this would happen, that there would be these different encomiums, et cetera. There's an interesting contrast to the reaction to the innovators of the early Industrial Revolution. For example the inventors of the power loom for the first textile factories in England; I was reading recently these accounts of how they used to have to slink around and hide their work and identities. They were spat upon and even chased down in the streets because they were so hated.  And now look at Jobs, there's all of these vigils and tributes, even a huge spread in the Wall Street Journal the other day calling him a secular saint.
One of the things I noticed in the obits and letters to the editor about Jobs was the recurrent notion that he enhanced our connectivity. This is something that strikes me as such an irony. We're all connected now, we're all wired, we have this complete ease of contact with everybody - but it's also obvious that the more society becomes entrenched in these so-called connecting technologies, the more isolated we are as individuals. It's clear the machines are connected, but to what extent are humans connected? Everybody's on their cell phone all the time, to me it's like zombies, you walk along the street and people bump into you because they're so enthralled by these devices.

I wonder if that's a criticism best leveled at particular technologies, or even certain features of those technologies. It might be the case that certain gadgets are pushing people apart, while others actually enable community. For example Facetime for the iPhone allows families to videoconference when they're apart. So even if I grant you that these large technological trends are widening the space between people, can't some individual technologies work to bridge those spaces?

Zerzan: Well there are these band-aids, these substitutes, of course there are. That's the appeal, that's why they're popular, but in the meantime we're more and more dispersed. And don't get me wrong I use them too. I have a close friend in Serbia. How often am I going to see him? Not very often, so I rely on a fixed version of the technology you're describing. But those are consolations, and you ultimately have to look at what's being traded away. When you weigh the whole ensemble of this, the whole culture of this and you see the direction it's going, and again getting back to community, which to me is really the key thing, it's evaporating. So I look at the technology not so much in terms of specific devices or even features, but rather the overall thing. What is modernity now? Where is it going? What is holding it together?
You have these extreme sociological phenomena like mass shootings that seem to occur with some regularity now. It seems to me that when you no longer have community, and you know longer have solidarity, then almost anything can happen. And the technology is not helping. It's no substitute for real cohesion and connection. Everybody uses that term - every politician, every developer - talks about community, but it's disappeared with the advent of mass society.

Unpack that for me a little bit. Focusing in particular on Apple and Steve Jobs, and fortunately we don't have to zoom in much because Apple has been such a big player in a lot of the technological advances of the past twenty years, at least in the consumer technology space. How do you think that those technologies are really driving people apart, or taking away from community?

Zerzan: Well, yeah, I threw out a really general kind of thing, but it doesn't seem coincidental that what is really accelerating more than anything is the pace of technological change, and people in social theory don't pay much attention to that. At the same time the bonds that hold society together seem to be loosening with the advance of mass culture. Again, I'm talking about technology on a more fundamental level, not just Apple devices specifically. On one hand technological change is proceeding apace, and on another people are being driven further apart. Of course this is not an overnight thing, but when you look at this historically, it's not going well.

It sounds like you're saying that rather than connect the dots from particular technologies or even technological trends to this creeping sense of human isolation, all you have to do is to zoom out and notice that the two dominant features of modern life are rapid technological change, and the fraying of human community. But I'm not so sure that people are obviously drifting apart from one another. In fact there might be some empirical evidence that people are, as you've even said, more connected than ever. You mentioned mass shootings as one signpost, but those are still fairly anomalous, so what are the other symptoms that you associate with that fraying, what makes it especially obvious to you that we're drifting apart as a species?

Zerzan: One of the things I often point to in lectures is a study I saw in an American sociological journal that looked at how many friends adults have over a twenty year period, from 1985 to 2005. In the study the definition of a friend was someone you'd consider a confidant. Anyway, after thousands and thousands of interviews these researchers determined that in the mid-eighties the average American adult had three friends, but that in 2005 that figure had come down to two. That's fifty percent fewer over twenty years. The study also noted that the number of people with no friends at all had tripled.
I was talking to Sherry Terkel, from M.I.T. who writes about new technologies from the point of view of a psychologist, and she gave a talk here at the University of Oregon a couple of years ago, with special reference to her daughter who was 13 at the time. She was talking about the toll that total immersion in technology has on the human soul, and she was saying that at a certain age her daughter didn't really grasp the difference between something that's living or animate and something that's a machine. She was really staggered, really appalled by this, and as a result it was a very moving lecture. But at the end, and this is typical of commentary about the nefarious effects of technology, she just kind of shrugged and smiled as if to say "oh well, that's modernity for you" and sat down. I said to her "wait a second, you can't give us this two hour picture of how desensitized and machinelike we've become, and then just shrug and say oh well." That's ethical and intellectual bankruptcy.

Taking your premise that technology is a bad thing, or at least a bad thing for human communities, do you regard technological innovators like Steve Jobs as especially bad actors relative to the rest of us who merely use technology?

Zerzan: I do. I'll give you an extreme case. During the whole Unabomber ordeal in the late 90's, the media would occasionally interview me and try to get me to say that "it was great that somebody would send bombs in the mail to these people" which I never said, and which I don't believe. But I would respond that while I did not believe in sending bombs to people in the mail, that did not mean that these people, the targets, were innocent. People like Jobs who devise this Brave New World type stuff are choosing, and there's a moral dimension to those choices. I remember Stewart Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog saying at one time that "in the sixties some of us realized the question was 'technology, yes or no?' and we basically answered yes." That includes people like Leary and Kesey and others who thought there was this great promise to technology, that we could achieve all of these things through the magic of computers. That was a conscious choice by some of these people, and it was the wrong choice. And so you have to ask, critically, how has it worked out? It's not just a question for theory, it's an empirical question: What does a society look like that embraces that, and goes full tilt for that way of living?

Is that fair, though? To push you a little bit on that point, is it fair to regard technology as a whole? Why can't we select among technologies empirically to see which ones are doing the real cultural harm, instead of hanging everything bad that's come of technology on that single choice from the sixties, that 'yes or no'?

Zerzan: That's a fair point, and I'll tell you I was very involved in the sixties and I didn't have a clue what was coming, so it's out of line to demonize somebody like Stewart Brand, although he's had a lot of time to reassess that choice and he's only deepened his embrace of the whole techno thing. I guess I'd have to say again, I don't think it's so much a thing of individual devices, but rather a whole orientation to reality, and to life, and to community that's become mediated. I could mention Martin Heidegger who looked at it as something much more basic, as really how you relate to the world; he felt that when pushed far enough along everything becomes fuel for technology. Everything becomes a technological question, and everything else is ruled out. That's why he called technology the end of philosophy, because these really technical questions come to override everything else. To some extent you can see that in politics now, where the regime seems to have become much more technically oriented, and the real human questions are just subsumed under the weight of the technocracy.
You can go all the way back to simple stone tools and then follow it all the way out, in terms of the values or the choices that are embedded there. For example if you look at simple stone tools, before you get to systems and technology, they don't require much specialization or division of labor, and accordingly you can see the potential for equality: anyone make this tool, anyone can use it, you don't depend on an expert for using it. But as we move forward in technological time, the need for a lot of specialists and experts gives those specialists and experts total power over us, and that's a disabling and de-skilling process. It involves everything you can think of; people used to work on their cars, but now there are hundreds of computer sensors that prevent a normal person from tinkering around under the hood of a car. Kids way back could make their own radio set. There was a time when you could still have some access or some agency, but now you need an expert. That's not healthy. We have to re-skill ourselves in my view, or else we're just sitting there passively waiting for the next thing to buy.

Where would you place a figure like Jobs within the spectrum of technological innovators, with particular attention to what you described earlier as the moral dimension of innovation?

Zerzan: Well he was obviously very good at figuring out how to make these things, these devices, easier to use. He did it with marketing, and with technology that cut across generations so that people like me didn't have to figure out programming or anything. Instead we just sort of crudely move our finger across a screen and there it all is. But if you follow that long enough, eventually you don't need to know anything, you can just be inert, a blob, and lay there and push a button, and then what happens to our place in the world? We use to walk around on this planet and have some autonomy and capability of knowing how to do things. If you don't know how to do anything, then ultimately if and when the system crashes, we're screwed, because we don't know the simplest things - and I include myself in that. I don't have many actual skills, in terms of interacting with this earth we live on.

Isn't that a sort of utilitarian argument as it relates to our eventual survival? So if there's this inevitable crash, we'll all be turtles wallowing upside down in the mud. But what if there's not a crash? What if these technologies simply open up more time for things like reading to children, or good conversation?

Zerzan: Well there may not be a crash. I'm not a so-called collapsist where I'm just banking on this all failing. I think there's a good chance that as our systems get more interdependent and vulnerable that some small thing could unravel a lot of it, but I'm certainly not counting on that. It's up to us to make choices, not just sit around and wait for the whole thing to fall apart. But yeah, there are tradeoffs. That's why people buy these things; they do have use value, and you can find the attractive part of the exchange. Like you just said you can pay attention to your family, you can do something valuable, or maybe you'll just look at another screen. Unfortunately if you look at what's actually happening, if you look at it empirically, we're spending more and more of our time looking at one screen or another, and that gets back to mediation, the sense that there are more and more layers between us and the things that matter.

Getting back to Jobs' legacy, is there an Apple product, or an Apple-enabled product that you regard as particularly corrosive to culture?

Zerzan: I was reading in the New York Times about this Baby Cry app for the iPhone that interprets the cry of a baby when it wakes up, whether it's wet or hungry or whatever. I look at that, and I think to myself the human species has been around for two million years and now we have a fucking machine to tell us what our babies' cries mean. If that isn't horrendous, I don't know what is. To me, that is just so telling about our dependence on this stuff, and you can say this is a loony example, but is it not indicative of where we're going? And it's everywhere, this dependency. When did you need a life coach? When were there billions and billions of dollars in self-help books?
As for Jobs himself, I was reading all of these editorials talking about the elegance of Apple and what Jobs did to reintroduce an aesthetic, and I thought to myself: you've got millions of these devices which are the exact same thing, and which to me are pretty sterile: Where is the artistry? Isn't that more of the massification of everything? You've got all of these iPhones that are absolutely identical, and yet shouldn't there be something in there that's personally distinct, or something with your own stamp on it? It seems to me a spurious claim to say that Jobs gave us all this artistry and aesthetic; that's only true in a completely mass-produced sense. Is that how we now define artistry and aesthetics? I would hope not.

In closing, if we look ahead five hundred years -crash or no crash-how do you see Jobs being remembered?

Zerzan: If we survive that long, we're not going to have a positive image of Jobs, because at some point we're going to realize where all of this "elegant" technology comes from. It all rests on industrialization, ugly stuff that we don't want to think about right now, stuff that's happening in China and India. You can wax poetically about this clean, gleaming thing that is the Steve Jobs product, but in order to get it you have to have the ugly, systematic assault on the natural world. That's the other obvious thing that hasn't been a part of the conversation either. If we continue at this rate, we'll be lucky to make it fifty years.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Serpent Venom - Carnal Altar (2011)

Serpent Venom are one of those bands that straddles the fence between stoner and traditional sounding doom. The band's lyrical content and imagery falls into the Electric Wizard/Saturnalia Temple category, but the music itself leans slightly towards the realm of the deceased Reverend Bizarre, though SV is infinitely slower in their approach. Actually, SV and fellow Brits, Witchsorrow seem to have been torn from the same cloth as they both take the slow-as-molasses trad style to new heights (or is it lows?) coupled with both band's lyrical mysticism and fondness for the occult.

One of the main elements that pushes SV in the more traditional doom territory are the vocals of Gaz Ricketts (previously of England's Sloth), which wouldn't sound out of place were they embellishing the riffs of Warning or Hour of 13. The riffs themselves are slightly more stoner sounding than the vocals would have you believe. One of the selling points for me are the band's persistent and masterful use of trills, which for me, are an essential ingredient in the creation of tasteful doom, stoner, trad or otherwise.

I'm definitely looking forward to the future of this young and promising band. Doom on!

Brujeria - "El Patron" (1994)

'El Patron' is the gap between Brujeria's debut and sophomore LP's, though stylistically it has more in common with their first.

This rotten little morsel still carries with it the same grimy vibe as Matando Gueros did and it will never cease to bum me out that the "band" decided to clean things up a bit with the release of Raza Odiadas, even managing to "cop a feel" on the then rampant nu-metal trend with Brujerizmo.

'El Patron' was the very last time that Brujeria actually sounded creepy. Frightening, even. There was something about Brujeria's older material that made it sound as if it was truly recorded out in some satanic ranch in the middle of the desert. I couldn't tell if the production was legitimately shitty or if it was a purposeful endeavor on the part of the band themselves. Whatever the case, it worked, and this 'ep' is the very last representation of that creepy sound that made 'Matando Gueros' a classic in my book.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Movie Poster of the Week: Scalps (1983)

Fudge Tunnel - Hate Songs in E Minor (1991)

I guess if I were forced to categorize Fudge Tunnel I would be most inclined to label them as Sludge, though FT do not make it an easy decision as they are one of those rare bands that generally defy categorization. One thing is certain, the guitar tone on this album is fucking monstrous!

In some instances, this album reminds me of Godflesh, again, probably due to the Earth shattering guitar sound as well as the slow to mid pacing of the songs that persists throughout the duration of the LP, though this is hardly Industrial and as heavy as the songs are on this album, they never quite reach the dismal depths of Justin Broadrick's mainstay act. There are some who consider FT to be an alternative/grunge band, and while I can certainly understand the reason for that assumption in regards to the band's sophomore LP, 'Creep Diets', 'Hate Songs...' is far too abrasive to comfortably rub elbows with the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Green Day, etc...

Some days, when I want to listen to something slow/mid-paced and heavy as fuck but without the over abrasiveness of the vocals commonly employed by most doom and sludge bands, I turn to this album. The band's next LP, '93's 'Creep Diets' would utilize the same formula as this album, though with a slightly less heavier handed approach. FT's final album, 'Complicated Futility of Ignorance' saw a return to the super heavy guitar sound of 'HSIEM', but with a somewhat glossier production.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Funeral Orchestra - Slow Shalt be the Whole of the Law (2002)

Often referred to as being a "funeral doom" band, I couldn't disagree any more with that lazy attempt at categorization. Honestly, The Funeral Orchestra is truly in a league of their own, encompassing many various styles of doom including (and not limited to) funeral, stoner and even traditional, but believe me, pin pointing the band's exact style may very well prove to be a fruitless endeavor.

Lyrically, the band (for the most part) tread the same ground as their Swedish countrymen, Saturnalia Temple who, by the way, TFO bears more than a striking musical resemblance to, in no small part due to both bands employment of a more blackened, "witchy" style of vocal characterization.

The tempo throughout the duration of this album is, as the title so aptly states, sloooooooow. This shit is not for the ADHD generation, hellbent for blasts, blasts and more blasts. As is the case with any doom band worth their salt, the music of TFO is pure craftsmanship. Carefully and steadily constructed with everything flowing as it should and just the right amount of spontaneity thrown into the mix to stave away any of the clinically neutered vibes that have a tendency of creeping into albums that have been overwrought amidst the studio proceedings.

As previously mentioned, TFO do exude a "slight" stoner vibe, but believe me, this album is straight from the fucking pits of darkness! You will not find any praise of marijuana and bell bottom blue jeans or drive-in movie nostalgia on this bad boy. I guess, for my money alone, the stonerish nuances are more or less due to the fuzzy sound of the guitars. Of course, and again, the sound is not overwrought or overwhelming in any way and actually serves to further darken the mood with a sort of cloak of haziness.

As with most great doom bands, TFO are certainly in no rush as their last full length was released way back in '03! I did, however, recently see a post on the band's Facebook page indicating that they were indeed working on a follow up. Somehow, I'm not too worried as to whether or not TFO will stay true to the template they set with this phenomenal release. Doomed forever, forever doomed.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Origin of Darkness - The Living Darkness (2011)

My only real gripe with this release is that it sounds exactly the same as Catacombs which sounds exactly the same as Hierophant which makes me wonder if John Del Russi (-aka- Xathagorra Mlandroth) has some sort of bizarre form of ADD which causes him to change the name of his band every two or three years. I mean seriously, this is the exact same shit you would have expected from either of the aforementioned bands had JDR managed to release anything without undergoing a brain spasm that caused him to change the name of the band... for the third time this round.

Now I'm well aware that JDR has claimed that this project differs from Catacombs and Hierophant yet again, the only difference that I can make out is the name of the band. All else is virtually identical. The tone, pace and intent is the exact same as that of any one of JDR's other doom projects. Instead of conjuring fourth all of these different "projects" every so often, he should just concentrate on one project and one project alone (new Catacombs album? "hint, hint").

Having said all that, Origin of Darkness is pretty much on the same level as Catacombs/Hierophant in terms of quality. I would have really liked to hear a bit more progression but nonetheless, there is absolutely NO one who should feel cheated after listening to this. If you're a fan of JDR's other work than there is absolutely nothing that should steer you away from this 'ep'. All of the classic JDR staples are in place and as anyone familiar with Catacombs or Hierophant can tell you, this is one heavy ass mother.