Otto’s Band Of The Week

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Hailing from Bombay, India, Death By Fungi play a form of melodic hardcore punk that has completely captured my attention in the last couple months. Taking influences from bands like Shai Hulud, Propagandhi, and some of the more metallic parts of Converge, their four song EP, In Dearth Of, is a scorcher. Featuring fast hardcore riffs and vocals backed by some great metal influenced drumming, In Dearth Of  is young and angry hardcore done right.


“There’s no going back now, we’ve come to far to leave this all behind us”

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Album Review: A Forest/Siamese Twins by Curezum

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There are few bands in the world that affect me as much as The Cure. Their songs, even when played by other bands, always hit me very hard. And if you can make one of their songs translate well into metal, you will forever have a place in my heart. Portland, Oregon’s Curezum are one of those bands that have firmly rooted themselves into my chest cavity and permanently set up residence. Following their One Hundred Years/The Top single last year, they’re now back with a new single. This time putting their black metalled twist on A Forest and Siamese Twins.
Now, there have been a lot of covers of A Forest. It’s usually a go to for most metal bands as it’s one of The Cure’s more popular songs and has a dark, goth edge to it. Originally from the Seventeen Seconds album, most bands fail miserably at covering it and it’s a song I’ve been adamant on bands ceasing covers of. Most of the metal covers I’ve heard of A Forest tend to just sound like a band that doesn’t totally like The Cure or maybe are covering it as a “hey! we’re a metal band covering a non-metal song!” scenario. It never works and always feels goofy or forced. Curezum on the other hand have absolutely crushed it. Their version has such an attention to detail and true love for the original that it shows in their work. The underlying bass and drums (Billy Anderson and Martti Hill, respectively) work incredibly well playing that all too familiar backbone to the song all while remaining heavy, even incorporating some blast beats into the mix. The guitars (Mort Subite) are incredible at their balance of playing fast and heavy while maintaining the melody and overall goth tone of the original. Everything crescendo’s perfectly into the “and again and again and again and again” part towards the end. It’s so satisfying. Curezum may have made me change my mind on metal covers of A Forest, at least until I hear another terrible power metal version.
The B-side song, Siamese Twins from the Pornography album, is hands down the best thing Curezum has done so far. The first time I listened to it, I couldn’t stop smiling. I really love that both singles from Curezum so far have been set up like a real Cure single, with a more popular song (One Hundred Years and A Forest) as the A-side, while the B-sides have been lesser known songs (The Top and Siamese Twins). Featuring a much slower approach that A Forest, Siamese Twins is an absolutely perfect cover. Its doomy approach adds to the heaviness of the lyrics (“Leave me to die/You won’t remember my voice/I walked away and grew old/You never talk/We never smile/I scream/You’re nothing/I don’t need you any more/You’re nothing”). The middle section has a really nice blast beat (courtesy of Eight Bells drummer, Christopher Van Huffel) fueled fast part that adds a brutal touch to the song and sounds intense when put against the slower parts of the rest of the song. The cover is a midpaced headbanger and I’m sure will be a huge staple of any live shows Curezum plays. Songs from Pornography are pretty metal friendly as the album is really harsh (compared to everything else in The Cure’s discography) and bleak, but Curezum just takes it to a whole new level. The vocals (by perfectly and mysteriously named Robert Vikernes) are especially fitting on Siamese Twins and makes it sound wonderfully evil.
Each song on the single features a guest appearance, Matron Thorn of Ævangelist playing lead guitar on A Forest and the aforementioned Christopher Van Huffel of Eight Bells. If you’re a Cure fan and a metal fan, do not skip on this. It builds on what Curezum did with their first single and just makes it better. I can’t wait to hear what they do with their full length down the line.  I know it will be incredible. Curezum are doing exceptional things, and in the long run, hopefully turning people on to The Cure.

You can pick up the A Forest/Siamese Twins Single from the Static Tension Records Bandcamp page HERE! There is a digital download and a pretty awesome physical package that includes a shirt, cassette single, three pack buttons, a signed postcard, and trading card for a very cheap $20. Limited to 50 so grab one quick!

Album Review: Fortress Of My Dark Self by Oceans Of Grief

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With a lyric like “Guards of my emptiness/keep away the joyful feels”, it’s safe to say that Oceans Of Grief aren’t here to deliver feel good moments. In fact, pretty much every lyric on Fortress Of My Dark Self is bleak. There is no silver lining. Everything is terrible and you just have to wallow in it. 
Oceans Of Grief come from Greece and their debut EP is a gloomy throwback to the 1990’s doom metal scene. It’s slow, incredibly heavy, and full of atmosphere. Most of the time, it’s very reminiscent of My Dying Bride, minus the Gothic flare. And while playing melodic death doom may not leave a lot of room for interpretation, Oceans Of Grief are perfectly adept at paying tribute to those that paved the way while doing their own thing. Their riffs are excellent and heavy, while just melodic enough to remain memorable. The vocals are low and harsh and fit will with the depressive lyrical content being spewed forth. 
The five songs on display don’t stray too far from the path of slow and heavy, but there are some really great moments throughout. The solo in ‘House Of Misery’ is beautiful and encapsulates everything I love about 90’s death metal. ‘The Birth Of Chaos’ is an excellent closing track and features a spotlight on the bass that is great. ‘Spiritual Fortress’ is definitely the album standout for me, though. It’s a damn near perfect death doom song. It’s a perfect opener and sets the tone for all the doom and gloom that follows.
Fortress Of My Dark Self may not be the most original album ever made, but it’s a well-crafted piece of 90’s inspired doom. I look forward to hearing what they do in the future, especially with a full length album. If you’re a fan of early My Dying Bride and their ilk, don’t let Oceans Of Grief pass you by.

You can pick up Fortress Of My Dark Self on Bandcamp HERE!

Follow Oceans Of Grief on Facebook and Twitter.

Album Review: Air by Astronoid

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There is a moment a little over halfway through Astronoid’s first full length album, Air, that is so gloriously beautiful that I can’t help but smile when I hear it. It’s like experiencing the Aurora Borealis localized entirely within your kitchen, but unlike Superintendent Chalmers, you bare witness to it in all of its glory. The song is called ‘Tin Foil Hats’ and it’s a wonderful mix of fast black metal-esque riffs, pop melodies, and gorgeous vocals singing lyrics about clouds and the sun. If there was any justice in the world, it’s a song that would be a monster hit during the summer, with kids blaring it through boom boxes while enjoying themselves in the Springfield Pool-Mobile.
Astronoid are an anomaly in the world of metal; A band that can straddle a fine line of being really fast and heavy while writing killer hooks and catchy melodies. They’re reminiscent of current era Cynic, but with more metal riffs and a lot less prog. The vocals are light and airy (pun intended) and fit nicely over the astounding guitar work on display throughout Air. The guitar work is maybe the best I’ve heard all year, if not the last decade. There are riffs upon riffs upon riffs in ‘Up And Atom’ (with “at ’em” spelled A-T-O-M in a delicious pun) that will have you screaming out “jiminy jilickers!” The three guitars work together well without overbearing each other while also being different enough to make sense.
Most metal fans have probably already logged onto alt.nerd.obsessive and logged their complaints about how Astronoid aren’t metal or that the clean vocals aren’t metal and whatever else metal fans like to complain about. But if you’re open minded and S-M-R-T, there is a world of amazing music to discover in Air. ‘Resin’ is a fast paced banger than will make anyone air drum along to the incredible drum work. ‘Homesick’ is one of the best pop songs I’ve ever heard, buried in heavy guitars. The closing track, ‘Trails Of Sulfur’, features unrelenting drums and some of Brett Boland’s more dreamy sounding vocals. All nine tracks on the album are incredible. It’s really hard to pick out specific moment as almost every song features some of the best musicianship I’ve ever heard. Air is like a coffin and each song is a nail, burying you in beauty.
So, the next time you feel like life is just one crushing defeat after another until you just wish Flanders was dead, put on Air and let it’s beauty and heaviness wash over you like acid, but be careful because the goggles, they do nothing!

You can pick up Air from the Blood Music Bandcamp page HERE! You can also hear their previous albums on the Astronoid Bandcamp page HERE!

You can follow Astronoid on Facebook HERE!

Top 10 Favorite Songs: The Cure

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The Cure is easily my favorite band of all time. I’ve been listening to them my entire life and their music has been a key factor to many of my favorite memories. I even met my wife because of our mutual love of The Cure and have a Cure tattoo. Needless to say, I’m a diehard fan. So picking 10 songs has been almost impossible. This list has changed so many times since the idea to make it came to me, and would probably be different a week after this is posted (minus the top 3, which are always the same). I could talk about The Cure all day, so feel free to leave your list in the comments or hit me up on Twitter and let’s talk about fun Cure things!

 

Number Ten: Six Different Ways

Following a string of darker albums (Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography, and The Top), The Cure released the much lighter The Head On The Door in 1985. Six Different Ways is the fourth track on the album and is incredibly fun with it’s poppy keyboards and Robert Smith’s over the top vocal performance, which sometimes sound like he’s trying to hit notes he can’t reach. This is one of those songs that is impossible to be sad while singing along to. There is also and incredible Peel Session version where Robert sings the last third of the song in a ridiculous falsetto that is amazing.

Number Nine: From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea


Taken from my favorite album of all time, 1992’s Wish, From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea is one of those songs The Cure wrote during their most popular time that straddles that line of being kind of heavy while also being incredibly memorable. The Cure wrote the best gloomy, yet poppy, songs ever during the end of the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s. This song features one of my favorite bass lines from The Cure and what has lately become my favorite Robert Smith vocal performance (“Never never never never never let me go she says/hold me like this for a hundred thousand million days”). The swirling guitar solo in the song is also excellent.

Number Eight: Babble

“Shut up, shut up and let me breathe!” The raucous and noisey Babble was originally released as a b-side to Fascination Street in the US (Lullaby in the UK) and later on the Join The Dots collection. Babble sounds so out of place with any of the other songs recorded during the Disintegration period. It’s angry, fast, and features some of the craziest keyboards in The Cure’s catalogue (rumored to have been played by a dog since the actual keyboardist was passed out). Lyrically, it’s pretty standard drugged out Robert Smith weirdness. This is probably one of the most underappreciated Cure songs, in my opinion. I rarely hear anyone talk about it, but I absolutely love it.

Number Seven: Push

Another one taken from The Head On The Door, Push is one of those songs I can listen to on repeat for hours without getting tired of it. The guitar throughout the song sounds like nothing else The Cure has done before or since. It’s a pretty unique sounding song in their vast catalogue. Lyrically, I’ve seen a lot of debate between fans trying to figure out what the song is about. I’ve always heard it as advice to a woman about leaving her terrible or abusive boyfriend (“push him away, no no no don’t let him stay”), but there are also live recordings of Robert saying it’s “about a train ride” or “about wearing a dress.” Either way, this song is a pop masterpiece.

Number Six: Doing The Unstuck

This has to be the happiest song ever written, right? Another one from Wish, Doing The Unstuck is almost ridiculous at how joyful, positive, and fun it is. The song is mostly about just pushing negative and bad things out of your life. And like most Cure songs, there is a underlying theme of sex throughout (“It’s a perfect day for kiss and swell/for rip-zipping button-popping kiss and well/there’s loads of other stuff can make you yell/let’s get happy!”). Doing The Unstuck also has an equally excellent alternate mix that was released on the Join The Dots box set.

Number Five: Underneath The Stars

The newest song on the list, Underneath The Stars comes from The Cure’s 2008 album, 4:13 Dream.  This song is the standout of the album and feels like it was written for Wish or Bloodflowers. It’s slow, beautiful, epic, and absolutely stunning. Musically, it almost sounds like it could be a sister song to Plainsong at times. The lyrics are as wonderful as the music, portraying a love so deep that nothing else matters. Being so at peace being with someone else that everything else just becomes a blur. This song is absolutely magic.

Number Four: One Hundred Years

The opening track from 1982’s goth masterpiece, Pornography, One Hundred Years sets the stage for the rest of the album. It’s bleak, drug addled lyrics and repetative music would be the building blocks of what eventually became goth music. The lyrics are a poetic mess of hopelessness and feature one of the most iconic opneing lines ever (“It doesn’t matter if we all die!” Robert Smith has stated that he knew who only had two options after their recording and touring cycle for the previous album, Faith, had ended: either commit suicide or get it all out by recording what would eventually become Pornography. You can hear and feel that pain while listening to One Hundred Years.

Number Three: The Kiss


The Kiss is, in my opinion, the heaviest song The Cure ever wrote. Opening 1987’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, The Kiss starts off with almost 4 full minutes of swirling guitar and doomy bass that just feels angry before any lyrics come into play. And those lyrics! The Kiss features the most hatefilled words Robert Smith ever wrote (“Get your fucking voice out of my head/I never wanted this/I never wanted any of this/ I wish you were dead!”). The vocal performance just bleeds emotion and intensity. You can feel the lyrical stab with every line Robert delivers. This song still gives me goosebumps to this day. I also have all of the lyrics to this song tattooed on my arm.

Number Two: Disintegration


This fucking song. The title track to The Cure’s 1989 masterpiece, Disintegration is maybe the best song ever written. Nothing I’ve ever heard comes close to the emotinal resonance of this song. The lyrics are so brutally sad and devistating. Lines like “And now that I know that I’m breaking to pieces, I’ll pull out my heart and feed it to anyone” and “It’s eaier for me to get closer to Heaven than ever feel whole again” are so unbelievably dark, yet relateable. This is a perfect song about the end of a relationship and the devistation that follows. Listen and get sad.

Number One: Jupiter Crash

Jupiter Crash is maybe a surprising choice to most Cure fans. Wild Mood Swings in general is a pretty underappreciated album. It’s weird and different and sounds nothing like the rest of their discography. It was an album that I generally ignored until I met my wife. Her favorite song is Jupiter Crash and she made me fall in love with this song and album. Jupiter Crash always makes me think of her anytime I ever hear it. The acoustic guitar is spacey and beautiful while the lyrics are gorgeous and wonderful. It even features what is probably my favorite lyrics Robert ever wrote (“She left to the sound of the sea/She just drifted away from me/So much for gravity”).  It’s a song about love, sex, and longing.

 

Honorable Mentions:

These songs were part of this list at different points while making it. I genuinely love every song The Cure has released and can’t recommend their entire discography enough.

Faith- One of my favorite songs from The Cure’s gloomier period. It’s a bleak and perfect ending to the album of the same name.

Plainsong- Plainsong is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It’s lush and spacey and features some stunning lyrics.

Charlotte Sometimes- Another amazing Cure song that straddles the line between goth and pop.

A Letter To Elise- My favorite Cure single. A gorgeous pop song with dark undertones.

Lost- Lost is a song that builds and builds into a heavy crescendo and features some of Robert’s best yelling vocals. Highly underrated.

Otto’s Band Of The Week: Astronoid

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Massachusetts metal band Astronoid is this weeks band spotlight. Forming in 2012, Astronoid’s music is beautiful, heavy, airy, and often times features dense, extraordinary guitar work. Sounding like a mix of Coheed & Cambria, Alcest, Sigur Ros, and some of the heaviness of Jesu and Cynic, Astronoid are unique and definitely stick out in the metal scene. And with their newly released full length, entitled Air, Astronoid are setting themselves apart even farther.

Air is a masterpiece of thrashy riffs and pop melodies. The vocals are beautiful, the drums are heavy while not being overly blasty, and the three guitar attack creates a dense layer or some of my favorite riffs of the year. Released on Blood Music, Air is a must listen. It also features a song called ‘Up And Atom’, and this site is always into a band that uses references from The Simpsons!

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You can pick up Air from the Blood Music Bandcamp HERE and the rest of Astronoid’s dicography HERE!

Follow Astronoid on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Eye On Springfield with Natalie Kahan of Wildspeaker

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Wildspeaker have very quickly become one of my favorite bands. Their take on hardcore, with a healthy bit of black and doom metal and crust thrown in for good measure, has found a place in my weekly listening rotations since discovering them. The blistering heaviness of Survey The Wreckage has become a stand out and easily one of my top ten favorite hardcore albums of all time. This isn’t hyperbole. I connect with Wildspeaker and what they stand for on a deep, emotional level. And one of the biggest reasons for that connection is because of their vocalist, Natalie Kahan. Her vocals are ferocious and captivating. But her lyrics are what really struck me. Focusing on the idea of nature over humanity and the atrocities humans have committed against mother nature, her words mean a lot to me.

Natalie is also a huge Simpsons fan. I’m very pleased that she took the time to answer these questions and can’t thank her enough for what her lyrics have done for me.

 

What is your history with The Simpsons? Do you remember the first time you saw the show?
My first memories of watching The Simpsons begin around age five. When my older sister, brother, and I ate dinner with our parents we would insist my dad roll the TV near the table so that we never missed an episode. I remember at first my parents were iffy about us watching it, but, needless to say, their resistance was futile.
Who is your favorite character?
This is a sadistic question when you ask me to narrow it down to just one. I don’t have a singular favorite, but I do consider one to be a personal best and overall funniest.
I have had an especially soft spot in my heart for Mr. Burns since I saw the “Rosebud” episode with his teddy bear Bobo. I also love “The Old Man and the Lisa” where he is rendered useless when he goes grocery shopping with the “Ketchup? Catsup?” incident. After the Little Lisa Recycling Plant is introduced we see that Burns isn’t all badly intentioned; he just can’t help his evil tendencies getting the better of him. It’s so mischievous and cute to me.
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I admire Ned Flanders and Monty Burns in similar ways. I think they’re some of the most interesting characters when you acknowledge their childish tendencies. Flanders is relentlessly positive, but I love to see when his hilarious temper flares out. Flanders is a lovable punching bag, forgiving, patient, and resilient on his good days. But in his rough moments he is judgmental, furious, anxious, annoying, and stubborn. I’ve probably never laughed harder than at the moment he meets his Canadian Doppelgänger in “Midnight RX.” Here is a link to a 10 minute loop of their nonsense conversation for your pleasure:
 I also love Milhouse so much I named my kitten Millie after him.
Do you have a favorite episode(s)?
The Treehouse of Horror series tops them all. I have probably re-watched and quoted Treehouse of Horror V more than any other episode. Treehouse of Horror VI has got to be my second favorite. In “Homer³,” where Homer and Bart travel into a 3D dimension is the most memorable segment of all time for me.
The Simpsons has a wide array of guest stars. Do you have a favorite?
While regularly watching, the ones I was most stoked for were Blink 182 and N*sync. Kelsey Grammar takes the cake with Sideshow Bob though. Paul McCartney’s appearance was tremendously important to me because it normalized and shed a positive light to the public about vegetarianism.
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One of my first exposures to vegetarianism and feminist ideas was through Lisa Simpson. Has the show ever introduced you or influenced some of your ideals?
I can relate every single aspect of life to the Simpsons. Its attitudes and humor definitely had hands in shaping my outlook. Laughing through difficult times is probably the most important life lesson anyone could ever learn.
Who from the world of metal would you love to see guest on the show?
Metalhead comedian Brian Posehn would be a good guest if he hasn’t already been on the show.
What character would you be most excited to find out was a fan of your work?
Really any of them would be awesome. I think Comic Book Guy would be most likely to come across our music on a Magic the Gathering forum somewhere.
Do you have a favorite musical number from The Simpsons? Also, what band would you love to see cover said song?
I’d be stunned if I got to hear Blackbird Raum or Pale Robin cover Lisa’s union strike song from “Last Exit to Springfield.” Lisa’s voice gives me goosebumps in that one every time I hear it. “We Put the Spring in Springfield” from “Bart After Dark” is so good it even won an Emmy. I’d enjoy hearing Haley Reinhart and Postmodern Juke Box put their spin on it. She and the band do insane covers of pop songs in big band arrangements.
I’ve always thought Lisa Simpson would be the one character to end up getting into punk or metal. Who do you think will grow up and discover metal or punk?
I could see Lisa getting into Food Not Bombs volunteering for sure. I imagine she’d get down on Plan-it- X Folk Punk like This Bike is a Pipe Bomb and all the classic Riot Grrrl bands. If I could meet her, the perfect CD to burn for her would be Xrayspex’s “Germ Free Adolescents” because it’s feminist punk and most importantly features a saxo-mo-phone.
I think Bart would dig West Coast 80’s hardcore like The Adolescents or party music like Agent Orange. It was funny seeing him as Johnny Rotten and Nelson Muntz as Sid Vicious in “Love, Springfieldian Style.” (Also I am a huge Buzzcocks fan so I loved that they were included in the soundtrack there.) Comic Book Guy would definitely dig Powerglove.
Do you still watch new episodes of the show? If not, do you remember what made you stop
watching?
 I never really stopped watching, but I definitely slowed down because jokes started to feel more forced or were lost on me. I will watch whatever comes onto Hulu but I won’t typically go out of my way to seek it anymore. I did enjoy a few newer ones like the Lego episode “Brick Like Me” and I was pleasantly surprised with how the “The Simpsons Guy” Family Guy crossover turned out. I thought it would be a mess but I’ve re-watched it several times.
How would you like to see the series end? Any ideas on where you would like to see the family end up?
The saddest part about this question is admitting that I want to see it end. It’s had a massively successful run but unfortunately at this point it’s run out of gas. I have read rumors that it might end on a Christmas episode so that it brings the show full circle. This end would be bittersweet but I’d be pleased by it.
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Prince

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Where does one even start when discussing someone like Prince? His body of work, and life in general, was so massive and expansive that it’s a bit overwhelming even thinking about trying to write about it. In fact, this is probably the seventh time since his death that I’ve tried to sit down and write something, anything, about Prince. His art means a lot to me and his body of work is staggering. 39 (!!!) full length studio albums, 136 music videos, 104 singles. That’s insane to even fathom. To put that in perspective, Bob Dylan had over 2 decades of recording before Prince released his first album and Dylan only has 37 studio albums. Needless to say, the man was prolific. It’s also rumored that he has enough unreleased material to be able to release a new full length album every year for the next century. But that’s all just statistics that you can find anywhere. I wanted to write something personal over losing someone whose music has become incredibly important to me.

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I’m basically a new comer to the world of Prince. I haven’t been listening to him my whole life. Yes, I remember watching his music videos on MTV as a kid and he’s always kind of been in the ether of my life, but I wasn’t actively listening to him. Like everyone else, I was familiar with his major hits like When Doves Cry, Kiss, 1999, etc, but my introduction deeper into the music of Prince came from three things: Jonah Matranga covering The Cross, Ween covering Shockadelica, and Kevin Smith discussing him at length, especially the 1989 Batman soundtrack. The covers by both Jonah and Ween became absolute standouts in my world. The Ween one being goofy and basically making the second half of it their own, and the Jonah cover being unbelievable heartwarming and personal. I would listen to both of them all the time. On top of that, the more and more I listened to Kevin Smith’s podcast and the more I heard him talk about Prince, I knew I had to dive in.
Now, the obvious move would have been to start out with something like his greatest hits or Purple Rain. But the first full Prince album I sunk my teeth into was the aforementioned Batman soundtrack. I was hooked immediately. It’s weird and counter intuitive to the dark and gritty take that the Dark Knight’s first foray into serious film was going for, but it works so well. Songs like Partyman, Batdance, Lemon Crush, and Scandalous are poppy, sexy, grandiose and everything else Prince was known for. And most of all, the album was fun.
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After becoming obsessed with Batman, I started to immediately devour his ‘classic’ albums. Prince, 1999, Around The World In A Day, Purple Rain, Sign O’ The Times, Emancipation. I fell in love with all of them. I’ve spent the last 5 years basically living off of Prince’s music. There hasn’t been a full week that I haven’t at least listened to The Hits/B-sides compilation. I listen to I Wanna Be Your Lover and Little Red Corvette every single morning when I leave work. Prince has become a part of my DNA and one of the things that I’ve bonded with people over. I could talk endlessly about his guitar playing at the end of Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad or how I Would Die 4 U is an absolutely perfect song. Or how I get chills at the scream he uses on If I Was Your Girlfriend (“Sometimes I trip out on how happy we could be, PLLLEEEEEAAAASSSSSEEEEE”). Or how much his cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me effects me on a deep, emotional level.
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On the day Prince died, I woke up to text messages, tweets, and direct messages from people offering me condolences like I had lost a member of my immediate family. It was weird and wonderful and actually incredibly comforting. I had never met the man, or even seen him perform live for that matter, but his impact on my life had been so big that people knew I was going to be devastated. And I was. I was in complete shock, as most of the world was. No one really saw it coming. Everyone on my Twitter timeline was sharing stories and their favorite songs that whole week. It was wonderful and therapeutic and beautiful to see how many lives Prince had touched with his music. It was especially great to see the usually serious and stoic metal community come out and talk about how much Prince inspired them or how much they loved his work. Hearing stories of practically every band playing shows that week opening with Purple Rain (shout out to Mutoid Man for the best version I heard) or seeing a band like Noisem paying respect was great. But the thing that finally sent me over the edge and made me tear up and cry was seeing the video of the massive crowd of people celebrating his life and work in Minnesota. It looked liked blocks had been taken over, with every light being turned purple, and everyone singing along to Purple Rain. It hit me hard just how much he resonated with people. His songs were the soundtracks to millions of peoples lives. I can’t even imagine how many awkward sexual awakenings happened to his music videos. Or how many dance parties 1999 or Let’s Go Crazy have been played at. The sheer magnitude of the lives he had made better through music is awe inspiring.
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If anything comes from his death, I hope that a new generation of people discover his music and check it out. In my opinion, he has at least 4 perfect albums (Purple Rain, 1999, Controversy, and Prince) that should be heard. I envy the people that get to experience his work for the first time now. It’s a journey into musical genius that is unrivaled. Prince was on a whole other level. He wasn’t weird, he was unabashedly himself and turned that into an exceptional musical career. He was constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of popular music. There will never be anyone else like him and the world is a lot less magical without him in it.
 This is a video for Prince’s cover of Bonnie Raitt’s song I Can’t Make You Love Me. It has been on constant rotation for me since Prince left us. It’s one of the most beautiful renditions of an already beautiful song that I’ve ever heard and it makes me equally happy and sad while listening to it.

Otto’s Band Of The Week

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It’s very, very rare that I will check out a band based on a “For fans of” recommendation, but if one of those bands is The Cure, I will almost always at least give it a listen. Luckily, Dead Register was promoted to me as “Neurosis meets The Cure.” While that’s a bit of an over exaggeration, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard.

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Dead Register, from Atlanta, Georgia, are a post punk, goth, doomy three piece that could easily appeal to anyone into Joy Division, Hum, or Jesu. As opposed to The Cure reference, I’d describe them as what A Perfect Circle covering Wavering Radiant era Isis might sound like. They’ve perfected a sound that is heavy, sad, melodic, and often incredible moving.
The trio are set to release their first full length, Fiber, on May 6th. The six songs on Fiber are wonderful and features some of the best gloomy post punk songs this side of the 1980’s. The vocals are full-on Ian Curtis worship and work really well with the often heavy guitar and bass work. Lyrically, Fiber is described by the band as “Centered around the dynamics of human relationships, particularly those of love and loss.”
Fiber is up for pre-order on Bandcamp right HERE. It’s completely enthralling and fantastic, full of somber melodies and gorgeous drum work. Fiber is highly recommended if you like rad music.
Fiber is out May 6th through AVR Records .

Album Review: A Bird In The Fault by Asunojokei

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For the first thirty seconds of opening song ‘Pomegranate’, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate Asunojokei from any other band given the genre tag of post black metal. It’s a pretty straight forward intro in the vein of bands like Hope Drone or Archivist that very quickly break into a circle pit inducing post-hardcore meets black metal assault. Then, in another twist, ‘Pomegranate’ morphs into a full fledged Deafheaven-esque piece of atmospheric black metal beauty. It makes for a completely compelling and interesting opening track and sets a good pace for what is to come on the rest of Asunojokei’s first full length, A Bird In The Fault.

It’s a bit of a cop out to say Asunojokei sound like early Envy playing black metal, but it’s probably the simplest description. And like their fellow countrymen, Asunojokei doesn’t rest on one genre to forge their sound. At different points, you hear the previous mentioned post hardcore and atmospheric black metal, a bit of depressive suicidal black metal and doominess (‘Easy’), and bits and pieces of Sigur Ros via piano beauty (‘A Bird In The Fault’). It should be noted that while all of this might sound overbearing, Asunojokei meld it all perfectly into their sound. Everything is deeply rooted in black metal, but these outside influences help Asunojokei stand out in a field of bands that sound relatively the same.
As someone who can’t read Japanese, finding information on Asunojokei is a little difficult. I have no idea what their lyrics are and as most of their info is in Japanese, I’m pretty much out of luck on knowing a whole lot about the band. Luckily, their music is strong enough to stand on it’s own. The five songs on A Bird In The Fault are incredibly heavy and beautiful, both aspects coinciding without relenting to one or the other. They have blast beats working in unison with really wonderful and melodic guitar work. No song demonstrates this more than ‘The Drowned Body’. It’s a spectacular song that should make all the Deafheaven style bands of the world jealous. It’s a song I’ve been waiting years for someone to write. It’s the sound of The Head On The Door era Cure playing black metal and is a massive highlight of not only the album, but black metal in general.
‘Easy’, the albums centerpiece, counteracts all of the prettiness by being an utterly unnerving and slower paced song. It’s just shy of 7 minutes of gloom and sorrow punctuated by vocals that sound like cries of pain that eventually relent to Asunojokei’s normal black metal assault. It’s a wonderful track, but sort of sticks out amidst the rest of the beauty and atmosphere of the rest of the album.
I’ve been listening to black metal for a long time, going on at least 18 years now, and I can say that I’ve never really heard an album that encapsulates everything I love in music right now more than A Bird In The Fault. I’d actually go out on a limb and state that A Bird In The Fault might be the best black metal album I’ve heard in the last 5 years. That’s not hyperbole or overreacting. It’s going to be a very, very tough task for any band to top this album for me this year. Asunojokei managed to create a sound that a lot of bands strive for but haven’t quite hit yet. And while only being just under 25 minutes long, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Do not sleep on A Bird In The Fault or Asunojokei. They’re doing truly exceptional things.
Pick up A Bird In The Fault from Bandcamp HERE and follow Asunojokei on Twitter HERE!