Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
In 2001, Andrew WK appeared out of nowhere with his debut album, I Get Wet, and for year or so it seems like he was everywhere. Love it or hate it, you gotta admit he had a unique crossover style that was hard enough for the rockers but had enough pop cliche to appeal to the MTV crowd. Most people didn't notice at the time, but a character named Steev Mike was credited as executive producer on that album.
Things seemed to be going well for AWK until 2004 when someone claiming to be Steev Mike began hacking the official AWK website. The intruder began leaving cryptic messages involving number codes and photos of Mountain Dew cans. (There are countless websites devoted to deciphering these codes. I'm not going to bore you with the details here.) Once translated, it appeared that "Steev Mike" had been cut out of AWK's second album and was not happy about it. He made many vague threats about exposing AWK's true identity but never really followed through. Suddenly dozens of website popped up all over the www, debating what AWK's dark secret could possibly be. Many claimed that he was simply an actor hired by music execs to front their latest "product." Some claimed that AWK's father, James E Krier, was Steev Mike and that he had written all of the music. Some claimed that Steev Mike was actually Andrew WK himself and that this was all a publicity stunt. A 2000 article from Dazed & Confused Magazine was dug up about Steev Mike that included a full page photo of Andrew WK. (Many sites claim that the article didn't mention AWK at all but it clearly identifies Steev Mike as the artist formerly known as Andrew WK. See for yourself.) Speculations flew all over the place until December of 2004 when shit really started to get weird.
Fans at an Andrew WK concert in New Jersey claimed that the man on stage was an impostor dressed as Andrew WK. "Andrew" apparently left the stage halfway through the show and never returned. Many internet theorist believe that this was the debut of the second actor who played AWK. (The general consensus is that there have been three AWKs to date.) Granted, he does look different in photos taken before and after 2005, but that can be attributed to the fact that he cut his hair and started shaving.
In 2006, Andrew and Steev (whomever that may be) appeared to have worked out their differences because Mike was credited as executive producer on AWK's third album, Close Calls With Brick Walls. Andrew WK cleaned up his image a bit and took a break from music to become a motivational speaker. Things seemed to calm down for a bit...
...until Sept 2008. Andrew WK gave a speech in London at a club called Madam JoJo's during which he claimed, "Andrew W.K. was created by a large group of people. They met, and I was there, and we talked about how we could come up with something that would move people. It was done in the spirit of commerce. It was done in the spirit of entertainment, which usually goes hand in hand with commerce. I was auditioned, along side many other people, to fill this role of a 'great frontman', 'a great performer'. On the one hand it may be a little scary to admit this to you all, that I may not be exactly who you thought I was, and that the guy who was, in fact, first hired as Andrew W.K. is a different person than the guy sitting here on the stage tonight. I'm the next person who is playing Andrew W.K." However, during an interview in 2010 he stated, "I am Andrew W.K., the same that has been here from the beginning...I am the same Andrew W.K. at this appearance as at all Andrew W.K.-related appearances." At this point, it seems like he's just fucking with us.
Just when you think things couldn't get any more bizarre, enter Twig Harper (artist, musician, all-around weirdo, and longtime friend of Andrew Fetterly Wilkes Krier AKA Andrew WK).
Harper claims that he came up with the whole concept of AWK during an acid trip. He asserts that the concept of AWK was to create a "false-christ" figure. They would build him up through the corporate media and then at his peak, expose the facade and "usher in a new dawn for humanity." Harper also claims to have lived in a house that was unknowingly part of a mind control experiment and to have invented a time machine. Read all about it here.
So where does all of this leave us? Fuck if I know.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Y’know, I’m all for keeping black metal weird – sure, make it psychedelic, make it doomy, make it folky, whatever – but sometimes when it comes to the darkest form of metallic fury, I don’t want my balls tickled, I want my skull crushed. Problem is, a lot of the bands that go for the straightforward thing are more boring to listen to than watching corpsepaint dry.
That’s why it took me so long to check out Blackdeath, of Russia. For the longest time I assumed they were some kinda third-rate Judas Iscariot ripoff, which is therefore like a sixth-rate Darkthrone ripoff – who needs to waste their time with that but the most cloistered of cult-stacking teenagers? Their location didn’t endear me to them either; Russia is mostly known for lo-fi Nazi-sympathizing BM bands like Temnozor, Forest and Old Wainds, none of whom I am crazy about (although Old Wainds is OK). And then, there’s the name – Blackdeath. About as generic as it gets, that…
Well, imagine my surprise when I clapped my ears on Blackdeath’s newest album, Katharsis: Kalte Lieder Aus Der Holle. True, this three-piece is not reinventing the wheel, but as far as traditional, asskicking black metal this is pure headbanging satisfaction.
Clearly inspired by the Norwegian bands of yesteryear such as Burzum and Darkthrone, but not clones of said bands by any means, these warriors have been recording Satanic hymns since 1998. With quite a few releases under their belts including splits with SF one-man-band Leviathan, Finland’s Horna and France’s Mortifera, as well as several full-length albums, you can see Blackdeath is dedicated to their craft. Apparently, according the write-up for the album from their label’s website, this is one of their first releases with a real drummer, but I don’t know if that means they used a drum machine or just session drummers previously (luckily many of their previous recordings are available for free download on their website, so I can catch up!). Whatever the case, Blackdeath knows how to work as a finely tuned unit, with memorable riffs and vocal patterns, strong production and no lack of just plain killer metal songs.
The riffing has plenty of variety, going from strummed power chords to more dissonant, mangled riffs to melodic tremelo sections. The bass, like many black metal bands, is just kind of there, holding it down, and the drums pound away with suitable variety – nothing to showy but solid and strong as hell (the drummer, Maya, is female, too, for those keeping score of that kinda thing). The vocals bring the most spice to the proceedings. Taking cues, it seems, from the manic and unhinged style pioneered by Germany’s Bethlehem but not aping that style altogether like some bands do (ahem, Shining…), singer/bassist Para Bellum keeps it pretty intelligible the whole time while cultivating a rather psychotic approach.
Highlights include the opening track, “Licht Ist Mein Tod,” with its staccato vocal exclamations, “Die Verzweiflung der letzten Folter,” a long and riff-filled epic with a killer, swaying outro section, and “Die 666 Dimension,” the most melodic song musically on the album but the most obtuse vocally, with some weird chanting and intoning rather than the wild shouts and shrieks of the rest of record. The production is well balanced and surprisingly clean, in fact maybe a little too clean – a bit more grit might help make Katharsis even more crushing, but everything does sound pretty heavy and loud, so no complaints really.
For a dose of pure black metal, no frills, no keyboards, no pomposity, no bullshit, you can’t do much better than Blackdeath’s Katharsis. This album is a total banger, crusher, rager, ripper and all-around bomber. I’m really kicking myself for not getting around to checking these guys out; because “Blackdeath is black metal” indeed.