Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tirades of Truth: The Autumn Offering - Embrace the Gutter

Well last time I said I would review my favorite album of the year and here it is...The Autumn Offering - Embrace the Gutter. This album is very similar to early Shadows Fall or All That Remains. The cover says something about them being like Pantera...uh no actually I think they might be better. That's right I said it. This album is pretty solid from start to finish...minus that stupid 34 second intro they call a song. Why do bands feel the need to have an intro and outro instrumental 'song'?

Ok breakdown of the music. In a nutshell, this band combines the riffs of Shadows Fall (or any New England band nowadays), the solos of any classic thrash band out there, and the breakdowns of Unearth or Killswitch Engage. As for the vocals, think growling screams...not too cookie monster-ish, but nothing clean.

'Decay' starts off the album and to be honest it sounds like your standard metalcore song complete with breakdown and then it pulls out this pretty good solo.

'The Yearning' starts off with a nice little riff and then a cool little lead, which catches me totally off guard. A catchier chorus and a beautiful solo/bridge and an ending that has a cool riff breakdown that makes it 2 solid songs in a row for this album.

'Embrace the Gutter' this is the video I saw which got me into this band. I saw the solo part in the video and went nuts. I hadn't heard a solo like that since Nevermore's This Godless Endeavor. Anyway, the song is the catchiest of the album, chorus wise. The song sounds like it could have come off of a God Forbid album, but the solo....oh my!! Seriously, I thought I was listening to a Megadeth circa R.I.P. era song. That is not an overstatement. Go to their myspace and listen to it.

'Ghost' is the next song which is pretty solid, probably my second favorite. If you thought Embrace the Gutter was catchy, then listen to this song. The drumming is insane and it blends so well into the chorus amazing. And then out of nowhere they give you a classic Iron Maiden sounding solo...yeah I said Iron Maiden. Then it goes into a sick breakdown that would make Unearth jealous to end the song.

You can see where this is going...each song is pretty killer. Tight solos throughout the album just listent to No End in Sight if you want another Megadeth style solo. 'Walk the Line' continues into the final instrumental track 'The Final Cut'

Obviously, I like the album. It blends the two styles of metal pretty well. To me they are up their with Shadows Fall, All That Remains, and Trivium that can play this thrash metalcore style. If you like any of those bands...get this album now.

Next about my top albums of 2006.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tirades of Truth: Shadows Fall - Fallout from the War

ok, well let's shift gears from all of the Sepultura/tribal metal for awhile and talk about a new release by one of my favorite new bands...Shadows Fall. I remember flipping through MTV a few years ago and seeing a video (shocking in itself, MTV playing a video) and I was blown away by the drums, guitar riffs, and most of all a solo that was short, but pretty killer. The video was 'Destroyer of Senses' from The Art of Balance. Well of course I went out and picked up the album. I was completely blown away. The music was a throw back to the classic years of thrash...think circa 86 - 90, awesome to say the least. Well, obviously I became an instant fan. Picking up their earlier album, Of One Blood, and then their latest The War Within. I will review the other albums later, but onto their latest The Fallout from the War.

This is an album that is basically leftovers from the writing sessions for The War Within, kinda like Load and Re-Load. Well the main difference is that this album is probably better than The War Within. Don't get me wrong, TWW was a solid album, but it was a little to catchy for me. But this thing...this sounds like it was written in between Of One Blood and The Art of Balance. What does this mean? Well the songs are completely brutal, the drumming is insane and the riffs are heavy and fast. Need proof listen to the intro of Going, Going, Gone or Will to Rebuild. Now keep in mind only the first 6 songs are new. The next 2 are re-recordings of earlier songs not released in the U.S. (although Deadworld was on Century Media's Identity 8 album) and the last 3 are cover songs. The new songs are solid thrashers. Don't expect catchiness or technical songs...minus the guitar solos of course. The re-recorded versions are ok, now I had Deadworld already and they kinda changed the intro and some other parts. It doesn't make it worse just different... ya know? The cover songs are great from the groove oriented December to the Anthrax sounding Mark of the Squealer, and finishing with a little glam cover...Teasin' Pleasin'.

Overall, this album is really great. I would have to say, once again, it's better than The War Within. I would say that if you are a fan of earlier Shadows Fall then this is for you. If you wanted more of TWW then you might have to wait until their next album.

Next time, an album that is possibly my favorite album of 2006...stay tuned.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sepultura...Against & Nation

Well here we go the 'dark days' of Sepultura, and some say they are still in the dark days. These are the first 2 albums without Max, former lead singer and guitarist. I decided to bunch them together because they seem to go hand in hand. Now first things first, Derrick Green who replaced Max is a good singer, but he doesn't play guitar so the sound of Sepultura will sound a bit different.

First Against; this is a pretty good album. One of the first things you notice is that the first song isn't one of the best on the album...something that was present in the last 3 albums. The title track is more punk than metal, not a good sign. Choke, Old Earth, Floaters in the Mud, and Rumors are really strong tracks which is good considering the first song was just 2 minutes long. In terms of music, Sepultura has gone away from the whole tribal metal on most of the songs. The guitars aren't as muddy as they were on Roots either. After the first 5 songs, the album just kind of wanders...nothing great, but nothing bad. I guess to show they still have the tribal roots, there are some instrumentals at the end of the album. Like I said the 1st few songs are really solid, but then it goes soft. Well I take that back, one of the best songs on the album is Hatred Aside, co-written by Jason Newsted of Metallica, Jason also plays some gutiar and sings on it. This song slays...classic, but then again I have always been a Jason guy.

Onto Nation; Nation is a concept album about a utopia nation. Sepulnation starts of the album with a catchy hook and sing-a-long chorus. Is it the best song on the album? Nope, so two albums in a row where the 1st song is pretty weak. Well Against was able to come back with 4 solid songs after their first track, what does Nation give us? A 56 second thrash song, not bad, but short, a mid tempo track, and a soft catchy song with really clean vocals. This album is more groove oriented than Against; tracks like One Man Army, Vox Populi, and Border Wars are all mid paced, kinda like Choas A.D. minus the good music. Then something different from Against is a tribal sounding song in the beginning of the album, with Uma Cura. Now for me the best song of the album is Saga, track 9, now this album starts off with some of the classic tribal sounds from Roots, then kicks into a heavy riff. After that, the album kind of wanders, like Against, there is a sort of reggae sounding song, a mid tempo song, and an instrumental. But they can't recapture what they started with Saga.

One common thing about the albums are the solos. There aren't alot and what there is could be described as noises. These two albums aren't anything special. They aren't horrible, but unless you are a die-hard Sepultura fan, there isn't much here for you.

Next up...some Soulfly, then back to Sepultura's last two albums.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

ahhh Roots

well here we are, the album that separates most Sepultura fans. Sepultura has a few parts, either Max-era Sepultura or post-Max; or pre-Roots/post-Roots. I am inclined to go with the pre-Roots, post-Roots.
So what is this album about? Where to start (besides the scary looking guy on the cover) ... well for starters you don't hear the classic thick guitar sound, you hear a more 'nu-metal' downtuned guitar, heavy as all get out, but very distorted. The drums still go with the 'tribal' drumming and some tin can drums thrown in for fun. But like the past few Sepultura albums, this one kicks off with possibly the best song of the album Roots Bloody Roots. When I first heard this song I thought I was listening to St. Anger...seriously listen to Roots Bloody Roots and tell me you don't. The difference between St. Anger and Roots is that Roots works for Sepultura. The muddy guitar, tin can drums (which aren't throug-out, but thrown in for effect) the lack of solos; yes there are something like solos, but don't think Arise-era solos, those are gone. There are some wicked beats, very grove oriented at times (Cut-Throat& Breed Apart) but then there are also some times where they try to bring out some old thrash sound, like Attitude & Spit. Then there are songs like Ratamahatta that sound like they were left off a Korn album. A song like Dust combines the two sounds pretty well, one hand very grove metal and heavy, but has some thrash out moments. And like Chaos A.D. there are alot of tribal chants on the album in-between songs. Plus you have songs like Jasco, Itsari, and Canyon Jam.

Roots, the album that coined the term tribal metal. I don't know what that is, but I do know that this is a good album. If you expect anything like Chaos A.D. or Arise you won't find it here. What you will find is heavy downtuned guitars with some of the best drumming out there.

After Roots, their lead singer Max Cavalera had a fallout from the rest of the band, including his brother who is still their drummer, and was fired or quit depends on who you ask. So from here there are two directions; one is to continue with Sepultura and the post-Max era or go check out his band Soulfly. Sepultura sort of wondered for an album or two before they got back on track and Max started off strong, but then got a little lost.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sepultura Chaos A.D. . . a slight change

ok first off 6-6-06...not a big deal. But if you didn't play Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast, you won't get another good chance to play it...well in 100 years you can.

onto Sepultura...
Well when we left off, sepultura released Arise, which imo, is just a classic thrash album. So you go to pick up Chaos A.D. and you notice something right away, that drum intro on Refuse/Resist. But the rest of the song is good classic metal. Then you listen to Territory, a little slower in places and that 'tribal' drumming again. That's right I said 'tribal' drumming. This is the album people say is the start of 'tribal' Sepultura. The drums have a 'tin can' sound at times...that's right St. Anger wasn't the first album to use it. Guitar solos aren't straight-foward, but there is more of just making sounds at times...but it does work. Anyway. the classic thrash of Arise is almost gone. And I say almost because if you listen to Amen or Propoganda, and Clenched Fist you definitely hear some Arise influence creeping in. The guitars are still heavy as all get out. And it isn't until track 4, Kaiowas, that you go 'huh, is this Sepultura?' Another thing you notice is the lyrics. Chaos A.D. defintely is a more political album, separating Sepultura from any other 'death metal' band.

Stand out tracks; gotta go with Refuse/Resist first off the drumming on the intro and outro are simply the ebst thing I have ever heard. Once again Sepultura puts one of the best songs on the entire album 1st...something they did with Arise and will again and again. Territory is a pretty solid song a cool drum intro again, not as good as Refuse/Resist and a pretty heavy slow chugging riff. Slave New World is in a very similar vein of Territory. Amen, as I said earlier has a cool thrash section, but it to also follows the heavy slower paced songs. Notice these are the first 4 tracks...Sepultura likes to stack the album at the top I guess. Nomad, Propoganda, and Clenched Fist are solid, with Clenched Fist really playing up the guitar noises. The Hunt is very catchy and if you like sing-a-long choruses then this is your song.

Bottom line, this is a transition album and it is done very well. most fans of pre-Roots and post-Roots really like this album. You can hear a change coming, but yet they keep the thick, heavy, riffs and guitar sound to please the classic metal fans. And yet adding new dimensions to their sound with 'tribal' drumming and instrumentals like Kaiowas. If you liked Arise, you should find enough here to keep you happy. If you thought Roots was a little to 'nu-metal' for you, then this is your album.

Next time...Roots, let the arguments begin.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sepultura....tale of two bands

well I love music...if you know me then you knew that. Anyway, I picked up this album by Sepultura called Arise, it was their 3rd or 4th release (depending if you count an E.P) and let me tell you I was blown away! I am from the old school of metal. You know Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Testament...etc. I knew of Sepultura, but had never listened to them.
So back to the album...this album starts off with probably my favorite Sepultura song (well definately top 3) Arise. This thing is chop full of classic Bay Area Thrash riffs and solos. When you listen to this album you feel like it is 1986 all over again. This album was made in 1991, so the production is top notch. So what does the album sound like? Well you already know about the riffs and drumming (Metallica circa RTL/MOP era) as for the vocals they are a little rougher than Metallica vocals, but not the 'cookie monster' vocals you hear in some metal bands. If I had to give another example, think Testament era The Gathering or Low...rough but you can understand them.

As for the songs themselves, well you already know how I feel about the title track Arise, the rest are classic metal songs. For me they don't get back to the level of Arise, but Sepultura always has some of their stronger songs in the very beginning of the album. Other highlights include Murder (the solo is pretty amazing), Altered State has an awesome head banging riff, and plenty of others.

Bottom line, if you are from that classic era of heavy metal this album is for you. This is like a missing piece for those 1986 albums (Master of Puppets, Peace Sells..., Among the Living, Reign in Blood) it's that good.

Now for those who wonder about the title of my thread. This was Sepultura's second to last thrash release. After Chaos A.D., they went into a whole different direction. I will take some time and look at those albums and beyond later.

Friday, June 02, 2006

4 MORE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ok so there are only 4 days of school left. Is it wrong for teachers to be happy? I mean this has been a very trying year for me. A new baby, a death of a great man, a move to a new house, and tons of other things that have came up. Man I can't believe the year is almost over. Of course then comes summer school. But that is a couple weeks away.

In the meantime... I will listen to all the new cd's I have. Sepultura, Soulfly, and Shadows Fall. Maybe I will do little album reviews...who knows? I need to do painting around the house first though.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

End of the year....

Well school only has a few more weeks and I must say this year just flew right on by. I can still remember the first day and seeing all the nervous looks from the students. Now I see them come in relaxed (unless it's a test day), telling me about their day or the normal drama on campus.

One of the things people don't realize about teachers is how we have to adjust every year to new people. Now it's not the new people that is hard, it is the people that graduate that you will probably never see again. Always wondering what happened, are they happy, are they ok? That is the hardest thing about teaching.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Our new house

So I haven't posted in awhile because I have no internet at home for another week! We are busy unpacking still, but have some of the main rooms done thanks to my wife's parents and my own parents who both helped out a lot this past weekend. Hopefully, we will get the rest unpacked before school is out. Enjoy the pics.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The future begins Wednesday

My wife and I are moving in to our new home in Upland this weekend, but we are going to get the keys this Wednesday. I am excited to move into our new home, afterall this is the home I want to live in for the rest of my life. This is the home I get to see my little girl take her first steps, speak her first words, and watch her grow up in.

It's amazing to think I have known my wife for over 10 years, we met as sophmores in high school...summer school no less. We went to the same colleges and eventually got married. I can remember picking out the ring for her, or buying the 'promise ring' in college. I remember our first apartment, 1 bedroom...not even 800 square feet, but it didn't matter because we were married and happy together. Our second apartment felt like a mansion to us, and with that master bedroom who wouldn't have? But with the housing market on it's way up my wife told me we needed to buy a house. Now I was working part-time at UPS, waiting to go full-time, so I told her we didn't have enough money. She said it was now or never. I am glad she got her way because she was right, if we didn't buy then, we never could have afforded to buy a house. I got another job at Lowes as a cashier...retail sucks! We spent the last 3 years in our little house. But now we need to expand and grow old together.

I have alot of memories of my life with her, some I will share, just to re-live them as I type them they bring a smile to my face again. And it is exciting to know that I will be able to make new memories in our new home with our little girl.

South Park characters

ok I have had a bunch of students asking where I made my character, so here it is

To save, you need to hit "Control" + "print screen", then open up Microsoft's Paint. Paste the picture into Paint, crop it to where only your picture is saved, cut it out. Then open a new paint file and paste in your photo. When saving it, make sure to save it as a .jpg, it is a smaller file.

Here are some of my students characters, guess who they are.

Monday, May 01, 2006

1st day back...

First day back after a long week. No drama which surprises me. The subs said everything went ok, and my students were very happy to see me, at least most of them. I find it funny how students think we "like them" or "hate them", when in reality all I want them to do is pass the class and become good citizens when the grow up.

We only have about 4-5 weeks left of the school this year went by fast.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Remembering my Grandpa

It's been one week since my Grandpa passed away, so I think I will share some of my memories about him. To me he was a great man. He dropped out of school early on in his life, before the 8th grade, joined the navy and ended up fighting in World War II. He met my Grandmother while she was studying to become a nurse, to which my grandpa responded, "why would you want to be a nurse because if you were my wife you wouldn't work." Classic grandpa.

My grandpa was a farmer . He ended up farming for years. In fact, he was still farming 60 acres of land up until he was in his late 70's. He would wake up in the middle of the night to change his water, to make sure he didn't over water his crops. He did most of the work, minus the actual picking of the crops.

He was the central figure in our family. At Christmas time it was grandpa who would hand out the presents to all of the kids and adults. When grandpa was happy we were all happy, when he was sad or upset we all shared in his pain.

How did he effect my life? Well let's see, he introduced me to golf. I would remember going to visit him in the summer to play golf at the same golf course he played at. It was amazing and an honor. Now I am not shallow enough to realize other things my grandpa taught me; how to tie vines, how to flood gophers out of their holes (that had to be one of the more enjoyable summers ever.) We could spend hours on end talking about football too. Whether it was the 49ers and how crappy they had become, or how the Sooners fell apart. He also taught me how to be a man, how to treat a woman. How to act in certain situations. Now he never came out and said "Kevin, this is what you do", but he always acted in a certain way that would always be the right way. Now there were times that he didn't act the right way, but he would always say later on, how he should have acted.

My grandpa was a huge part of my life. I spent every vacation hour (minus 3 summers because of football) at my grandparents home. Every vacation we had a different job. He would always tell us, that he has to do it because he didn't finish school and this was his life. I guess that hit all of us grandkids because 6 of the 7 graduated from college. That idea that unless you get an education, you would be doing manual labor stuck with us.

My grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago. I guess we weren't surprised because he had been smoking since he was around 12 years old. He had surgery to remove the cancer from the lung. Doctors say that if you can go one year without the cancer coming back, then your odds are pretty good it will stay in remission. Well, with my grandpa it was around 10 or 11 months when the doctors told him the cancer was back. He had no choice but to try chemo-therapy. At his age it was risky, but he couldn't have another operation. He was able to go through all of the treatments, except the last one. Most of the cancer was gone or drastically reduced. I saw him in the middle of his treatments during Thanksgiving. He looked well, he was joking around and we made some bets on the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl, even though we didn't know the teams. We also gave my grandparents a Webtv. Now this might seem like nothing, but my grandparents never owned a VCR. He was excited and happy knowing he could write to any grandkid whenever or check the weather whenever he wanted to. I will never foget his face when he said "So you mean I'm online now?"

We didn't go up to see him at Christmas time because my wife was pregnant at the time and couldn't travel at all. At the time I didn't think it mattered because I figured I would see him next Christmas. During the spring time he battled some serious colds and that also took it's toll on his body. It was in early April during a phone conversation that he commented that his shoulder was hurting him. I told him to lift some weights because he needed to be strong enough to lift our little girl. He laughed and said that his is trying. During spring break my parents came down and said I needed to go see him because he was very ill. I thought it was just my mom being over reactive, but she wasn't. When I saw my grandpa he didn't recognize me because of the medication he was on and because cancer was spreading into his brain. That first day was very rough for me and my wife. After lunch my grandpa walked outside and my wife suggested I go on a walk with him. I was very hesitant to, but agreed to go. My grandpa and I walked about 30-50 yards and back. We talked about the weather (as all farmers do) and about the neighbor building a house. And then he went out and started talking about the war. As soon as he started it was over. I found out later that that was his last walk. The cancer spread to his spine and legs and he couldn't walk. That is something I hope to never forget. The next day he was better, alot better. He knew me and remembered things about conversations from earlier in the day and years ago. My wife and I always played Uno for him, he loved to see me lose. He was sitting in the chair, in pain, but smiling at us and said "I remember that game you guys play, Uni" We said good-bye that day, never in a million years did I think I wouldn't see him alive again. In less than a week, they stopped all treatment and the next Friday he was in hospice care... a total of 8 days. My heart ached for him, my grandma, and my family. We prayed for a quick death so he wouldn't suffer. He was able to leave the hospital and come home to his farm to die. His farm where he made his life and legacy. He died at 2:14 AM on April 23rd. I miss him so much. I am so sad when I think that he won't hold my daughter, hold me, or hold his wife again. I know he is in a better place without pain, but my heart misses him so much. I was honored to be a pallbearer at his funeral this past week. I cried and smiled thinking about the memories of him. My brothers and I shared stories of grandpa over his grave talking to him.

My grandpa saw alot in his life time and lived alot too. My grandpa was and will always be a hero to me. I love you're online so you can read this now.

My BTSA friend Shannon

She works at Diamond Bar...forgive her.

BTSA post

This is my official post about what I am going to do with technology. I will probably use the blog to put up the homework assignments in addition to the website. If that doesn't work I can just post pictures of BTSA meetings.

2nd post

Just uploaded my profile picture...South Park Mr. Wendland 2.0, nice huh?

1st post!

1st post...let's see how long I actually do this.