Monday, April 30, 2007

Megadeth - United Abominations

well a quick note just for a sec about Megadeth's latest offering. I have heard Gears of War and wasn't that impressed, but I have heard some other tracks and I gotta say this is looking to be a pretty solid album. Sleepwalker sounds more and more like classic Megadeth...not sure if I am gonna go back to R.I.P., but it is defintely the best thing they have written in some time. Solos are all over the place. I was happy with TWNAH and TSHF, so I expect UA to be just as solid. On a side note, Megadeth is pretty famous for their covers (like Iron Maiden) and this one was designed by a fan. It looks pretty tight, Vic looks a little bit different, but I am ok with it.

As for this blog, look for some talk about Soulfly ( I was reading earlier posts) and realized I never went back and talked about Soulfly or later day Sepultura. Both are solid examples of tribal metal. Plus Soulfly is going to be releasing some new songs this week on their website so it will be interesting to see the direction the band is going in.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

post-state testing thoughts

well the state testing is all over with and I don't really know how to interpret my students reactions. Some say it was pretty tough, while others said it was ok. My Algebra 2 students said it was the hardest test geometry students had mixed reactions. You figure with the way computers and technology has come we wouldn't have to wait until the fall to see the results. Makes you wonder why it takes so long?

So the question is what now? At my old school, some of the teachers stopped teaching any new material and focused on previous material for the final or just started working towards the material for the next math course. We work so hard to finish or come close to finishing the book before testing that it does beg the question...what's the point to go on? Take my Geometry class, we finished the book (minus a few sections), but would it be wrong of me to spend 1 - 2 weeks on Algebra I topics to job their memories for Algebra 2? Can you say factoring/completing the square? My arguement would be that nothing they learn now will help them out on the state test which is what we have been drilling to them. Algebra 2 still has 2 chapters to go, so they will still be finishing the book. Makes me wonder what other teachers are doing. I know that most AP teachers watch regular movies after their AP test...will regular ed classes go that way?

Oh well enough shop, back to music. One album that I didn't list yesterday that I have been thinking about is Machine Head's The Blackening. This album was released about a month or so ago and it is truly killer. Now I would hate to call an album a classic after it has been out for less than 6 months, but this one does might just get me to change that thought process. I will doing a review of the album later, but for those who haven't heard it...the first song is over 10 minutes. Tons of time changes, awesome solos, and solid drumming. This could be this generations Master of Puppets...there I said it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Some great albums....

ok, well today is the mathematics part of the state testing...I don't know why I am nervous, but I worked really hard this year so maybe I am expecting a huge payoff. Like I said I won't find out until next year....oh well.

So yesterday I told you how I got into heavy metal, today I will tell you about some albums that are just flat out masterpieces. These are the albums that when you hear them for the 1st time you are blown away because you have never heard anything like that before.

Ok obviously there are the classics of Megadeth's Rust in Piece or Metallica's Master of Puppets (or And Justice for All, Ride the Lightning) But how about some recent albums that are already classics.

Nevermore - This Godless Endeavor

Now this was Nevermore's 6th album and you could tell this band was onto something. They took that old school thrash style and made it just about as heavy as possbile. You could hear it coming in Dead Heart in a Dead World and Dreaming Neon Black, but This Godless Endeavor just clicks. Take the opener Born; killer riffs and drums come out of nowhere and there is sort of some harsh vocals (something Nevermore doesn't do), then this sort of catchy sing along chorus. Now if you like guitar solos, then Nevermore is your band. Trade off solos are the norm here...some solid examples of this are Psalm of Lydia, Medicated Nation, and Bittersweet Feast. The title track is a whole post by itself clocking in at 9 minutes, it feels like a journey and they do an excellent job of keeping the time changes fresh so you don't feel like it's a 9 minute song. Do yourself a favor and go get this album. I don't have much to say about it because if you like thrash metal then this is for you.

Samples can be found here
and here

Into Eternity - Buried in Oblivion
Into Eternity is a hard band to categorize. Some call them death metal others power metal and yet others still call them progressive. Well they are actually all of that... and more. Buried in Oblivion is their 3rd album, and like Nevermore, you could see the writing on the wall after their previous album Dead or Dreaming. The main difference is that while Nevermore's line-up remained somewhat constant, Into Eternity changed vocalists every album. Now their latest Scattering of Ashes is a solid album as well, but this is where it started. the opener starts off with this guitar intro that makes your head spin as you listen to it. Now like Nevermore, the guitar solos are awesome. Layered solos, quick time changes, and insane drumming are just the tip for this band. What makes this album so different is the 3 different vocalists...yeah I said 3. There is a clean vocalist, a screamer, and a death metal growler...and they make it work. The vocal harmonies in this album are something to be heard. Three Dimensional Aperture is the first song you really hear all of the vocals working together. There are no bad songs on this album...Isolation, Beginning of the End, Spiralling into Depression...all classics. Just when you thought you have heard it all something new comes out, whether it is a breakdown or another time change that you didn't see coming. After 8 songs of straight up metal, then out of nowhere the title track is one of the most beautiful song by any metal band...imagine after all of those electric guitars you go into a song with a classic guitar...solo included, something I had never heard before or since. It flows into Black Sea of Agony, which then goes classic progressive and plays back some of the title track in that song...classic. Then the last song is another beautiful song...seriously think Chicago vocals hear people. The lyrics are still dark and depressing, but the music...amazing.

Samples can be found here
and here

Killswitch Engage - Alive or Just Breathing
Now this album is alot different from the others and I will get to that in a second. From yesterday's post you read how I found Shadows Fall and then I went onto to find out about Killswitch Engage and thought "well if Shadows Fall is classic thrash with a modern twist then KsE is gonna be solid as well." I had also seen their video for Last Serenade on Fuse TV and enjoyed it alot. So I pick up this album (their 2nd album), put it in a listen to the first songs Numbered Days and was kind of taken aback by the vocals...more screaming then singing, but then I quickly found myself giving the classic head nod because the music had that feel to it to make you do the head bang. This is the first band I heard that used the screaming versus that led to the clean singing choruses. Now on this album KsE perfected it. Now if you were to have picked up their debut, you wouldn't have expected this. Their debut was solid, but they didn't use the clean singing as much. So this came out of nowhere. By the time you get the first chorus you are surprised how a vocalist can sound so brutal and beautiful at the same time. So I listen to the album and find myself loving all of the songs...great choruses, heavy gutiar riffs, tight drumming, everything that makes an album a classic for me. Once again this classic guitar intro comes on and to this day this is the most beautiful instrumental song I have ever heard is played...Without a Name. From start to finish I love it, I find myself singing along with the chorus, air drumming, and head banging. Then I am reading a review on the album, and they mention there are no guitar solos...huh? How could I miss that? I listen to the album one more time and yep no solos. I am floored, I love solos, but yet I listened to an album 3 times loving every second and never notice the lack of solos...that very reason made me realize how special this album is. One other thing I noticed was the lyrics. Metal is known for it's dark, depressing, and evil lyrics. With KsE all you get is positive messages of hope and love. Another first for me. KsE lost the vocalist from this album shortly after it was released, he was replaced by another guys, but this album will always be their best for me.
Samples can be found here and here

So there you go 3 newer albums, that are all classics for me. If you haven't heard any of them pick them up you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

how it all began...

well the 5 posts obviously didn't pan out...I will strike that up to illness. I came down with the flu last week had to take 2 days off. Anyway we are in the middle of state testing. I hope my students do well on this test...but I guess I will have to wait til next year to find out.

So one of the more frequently asked questions I get it "how did you get into heavy metal?" Well let me try and sum it up for you. First I need to take you back to 1990 and the 7th grade, sad part is that some of my students weren't even born yet. Well we earned enough marbles to go to the park & we were allowed to bring our own music. I heard a song that day that changed my life forever Got the Time by Anthrax, actually it is a cover version, but I was in the 7th grade. That song was the most agressive, fast, and catchy piece of music I have ever heard. In fact, it is still one of my favorite songs.

Well after that I was hooked. I needed to hear more. So on a trip to Bakersfield with my cousin, I looked for Anthrax's Persistence of Time, but they didn't have it. Now I wasn't leaving without some metal album. So I looked around and found another band I had heard of Megadeth. I picked out the coolest looking album Rust in Piece...seriously look at the cover how cool is that? Well when I got the chance I listened to that album and was blown away by the speed of the songs and the guitar solos were mind boggling. After that I went looking for everything Megadeth.

When I got to high school, I was still into Megadeth, Anthrax, and Guns N Roses. My brother was listening to Metallica at the time. Now believe or not I had not heard of Metallica at the first Metallica song One from ...And Justice for All. After that I really became addicted to all things metal.

Now during the mid 90's metal went very underground. Grunge & Nu-Metal were the popular forms of music at the time, so not alot of new bands or music was being played anywhere much less MTV which was becoming more TV than MTV.

So fast forward to 2002, I am flipping through the channels and I hear this blistering guitar solo and I wait to see who it is. I mean it's 2002 guitar solos have been dead for a long time, so this peaked my interest. The band, Shadows Fall, the song Destroyer of Senses. Well by now the internet was pretty huge so I began to search abou this band. From that I found Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, and God Forbid. From there I was able to find out their "influences" of In Flames, Soilwork, At the Gates.

From here out the rest is history. Maybe I will try to break down how I view the sub-genres of metal or talk about some new music.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

ahhh who knew a baby was this time consuming?

well for those who thought I fell off the Earth, I haven't just been busy with my wife, baby, and still adjusting to our new house.

Anyway, we have our huge state testing next week, but the math one isn't until the second week back. I am feeling pretty good about my Algebra B classes, but can't really get a solid read on my Geometry and Algebra 2 classes...we will wait and see.

I find it funny how just a few years ago we didn't put too much emphasis on the test saying "it's one test...they could have a bad day and mess up" to now where it is "show us what you know" other words don't screw up. Fun huh?

As for this blog, I was originally running it as a music info site, which I still will, but I think I will also post more on school and maybe some TV...who knows. My goal is to try and post every day...or at least 5 times a week.

As for music, for the next 2 weeks we are going to be listening to Metallica, so maybe I will post some stuff on them...wait and see.

oh and for those curious, I still listen to Sepultura. I was gonna take some time to explain the whole "tribal metal" scene. BTW if you listen to Sepultura and like their later day stuff check out Soulfly. The lead singer/guitarist used to be in Sepultura, and their debut has been called Roots 2. My personal favorite of theirs is Dark Ages...more like Chaos A.D. 2

Recently, I have been listening to new bands that are playing straight up classic thrash. Susperia - Cut From Stone, Sanctity - Road to Bloodshed, Machine Head - The Blackening (album of the year!) and some others.

Even more recently, industrial metal. I'm not talking about Ministry or Godflesh, but more in the vein of Fear Factory, Dagoba, Mnemic, Threat Signal, Sybreed, and Static-X. I will talk more about these bands and that genre later on...ok well time to get back to work.