July 20, 2009
In the 80s, metal was growing and new things were happening. Thrash was popping up on both coasts of the US, and over in Europe, mainly in Germany (refer to Teutonic Thrash and what it can do for you). Venom had already released their 2 Slop-drop craptastic classics, “Welcome to Hell” and “Black Metal” and people were scared. Now we know Venom was all make belief, but it helped pave the way for what would down the road become an established form of the extreme that we call Black Metal. Black Metal is good. If you block out the kids you see all over wearing Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir shirts, and you listen to A Blaze in the Northern Sky and not want to rip shit apart, then you should turn back now. While Venom was more of a gimmick that ended up having a lasting impact, there were bands such as Bathory, Celtic Frost, Tormentor, Sarcofago etc etc who were taking those ideas of playing sped up Discharge and Motorhead and adding the much needed touch of Satanism, Paganism, and other evil ism’s to it. While this tradition of raw and thrashydeath style black metal would be carried on in its early pioneering days in Norway in the early 90’s it would soon make a drastic shift towards incorporating melody and sympohnic and almost operatic elements into the music. Bands that pulled this off would be bands like Dissection, Emperor, and so on, along with a gradual increase of the importance of atmosphere, which one of the best BM bands, Burzum helped shape and lay down the groundwork for future bands. But when we look at the first wave of black metal and see a dirty and raw approach we wonder how did the idea of melody and structure really find its way into this genre? The answer, in my opinion lies in this 1984 album:
Don’t Break the Oath by Mercyful Fate. How awesome is that album cover? Hailing From Denmark, The Fate cut two full lengths before going on hiatus, or breaking up for the first time. Their sound was a mix of NWOBHM and elements of thrash. All depending on who I am talking to, I usually describe them as an “Extreme Metal” band. To Black Metal fans, I tell them they are the best BM band, usually to see them wince. To other’s I describe them as, “its like if Maiden and Judas Priest were satanic and didn’t suck”. I’m not sure which of their two LP’s is considered the better. I would like to think this one. Their first record, “Melissa” has some jams, but suffers too much from not sounding “Evil” enough. When King Diamond would record his vocals, he would have the lights off, and candles lit, with a shrine with his fractured skull “Melissa” before him. If you ask me, Mercyful Fate is one of the most challenging metal bands of the early 80s to listen to and fully appreciate and its due to King Diamonds talent. His voice is that makes or breaks fans. He can reach a register one thought was impossible, and can bring it back down in an instant.
The overall tempo of this record is midpaced. Its never “fast”, sometimes slow. No complaints here. The songs are well written, the solo’s are nice, not overblown, nor do they drag. The harmonic parts between Shermann and Denner are cooler than maiden or any other band that did this because they’ve abandoned the rushing aspect, and just let the notes take a nice slow course. Some of the riffs for the time definitely have an evil sound, such as the intro to desecration of souls, or the recurring riff through “Gypsy”. This album also contains the much needed acoustic interlude, which doesn’t take away at all but it comes near the end of the album, which I think works better. I almost forgot to mention, the opening track has one of the most catchy groovy mid paced guitar riffs. Such a crunch, totally moshable.
Also, the lyrics reflect satanism from a much more mature perspective. Instead of crude lyrics about Satan coming to either rape of brutalize virgins or people in general, theres more of an acceptance of Satan into your life and doing thy bidding. What do you think they mean by “Don’t Break the Oath”, Taking a snippet from the sort of title track “The Oath”, King Diamond projects:
I deny Jesus Christ, the deceiver
And I abjure the Christian faith
Holding in contempt all of it’s works
As a being now possessed of a human body
In this world I swear to give my full allegiance
To it’s lawful master, to worship him
Our Lord, oh Satan, and no other
In the name of Satan, the ruler of Earth
Open wide the gates of Hell and come forth from the abyss
By these names: Satan, Leviathan, Belial,
I will kiss the goat
This was a record where I first started listening to it, and thought “okay, I can’t get past the vocals”, but I couldn’t switch bands. I just had to keep listening, and soon enough it grew like an untreated infection to the point where I listen to them almost daily. If not a whole album, just choice cuts from either album. From an outsider looking in perspective, a lot of black metal bands are sped up versions of The Fate with shrieking vocals, and maybe slightly darker riffage. I’ve yet to check out any of the King Diamond albums, and I’m not in any real rush to. I think I can get my dad into them…
July 10, 2009
No. But let me back up first:
Skipping over the legacy known as Blowfly, during the golden age of hip hop, there was a group we’ve all come to know and love mainly for the hilarity they provide. We call this group 2 Live Crew. 2 Live Crew dropped a few half rate albums that are so well regarded due to fusing the miami party bass pumping flavour with sexual related lyrics, which we’ve come to call Sex Rap. There aren’t many sex rap groups that really matter here to talk about save two. Those two being 2 Live Crew and No Face. Both provide the humour that you’re guaranteed and definitely have tones of misogyny that we all appreciate in our music.
2 Live Crew have 3 albums that matter. Move Somethin’, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, and Banned in the USA. Each album is the same sort of deal. Well produced tracks with sexually explicit lyrics. Why am I even bothering to blog about this? Because my beef is some of these beats are great! I love the upbeat miami style packaged into a listenable group. Its not like listening to DJ Maggatron where we’ve just got 8 minute long songs of cut ups and multiple samples. My only beef is that the sex lyrics get a little tired after a while, and the novelty can wear off quick, but we can’t deny the influence. Just like gangsta rap of the east coast, this group definitely pushed the envelope in the right direction and came under fire and fought against censorship. This kind of music is the equivalent to Hustler or Penthouse magazines. Its the kind of thing that should be kept on the top shelf but it should be there nonetheless. Songs like Face Down Ass Up, Move Somethin’, C’mon Babe, you wish they could have erased the lyrics and had another group make these into more user friendly party jams, but I suppose thats part of the appeal. You want to hear all the different ways 2 Live Crew can talk about getting blown and getting it on.
It bums me out sometimes, but the production on the album “Wake Your Daughter Up” bums me out even more. That album has some of the best hip hop samples in my opinion from the time. The album is definitely well regarded across the board in the underground hip hop community. Its definitely more geared towards being a comedy record, almost a parody. It features 2 Live Crew on a song or two (or maybe just one, I can’t remember). The kind of beats on this LP are part of the appeal for me. I can legitimately listen to this record but sometimes the vocals get a bit under my skin. “Fake Hair Wearin’ Bitch” is a prime example of this. The rough gang vocals, and one of the members yelling his lyrics like he is quite ticked about girls giving him the run around. This kind of abrasive delivery is continued on the song “At the Movies”. I touched on this album a bit before in a post about slow jams. Musically, this slow jam could have been up there with the jams from the first two big daddy kane records, but as you can guess, the lyrics kill that potential. This is a kind of song that screams parody, which I get. I’m well aware of how cheesy slow hip hop songs, but I can still enjoy them secretly. The closest we get on this album to having a user friendly song is “Half”. Half is a jam, I think they might have made a music video for it. “Stole My Shit” is another example of a fine song. “Your System” is a refreshing kickback to the beats of early hip hop or NWA and the Posse. Lastly we get “Assit”, the much needed House/Club track. Thats the end of that. So in conclusion, listen to it merely for the production and cheap laughs it will provide.
So is sex rap the pornogrind (see Anal Cunt, Meat Shits etc etc) of Hip Hop? No, because Pornocore is the Pornogrind of Hip Hop.
Ok, Ok. I don’t know a whole lot about this sub-subgenre called Pornocore except it was invented by Kool Keith. Yes, Kool Keith. The same Kool Keith that fronted The Ultramagnetic MC’s, a hip hop group responsible for “Critical Beatdown”, one of the finest pieces of Golden Age history. Critical Beatdown is one of my favourite albums. The beats are tight, the lyrics are top notch and has one of the partiest party songs, “Travelling at the Speed of Thought”. Somehow from this he moved onto Dr.Octagon. I don’t know how you feel about Doc Oc, but I don’t like it. The album is some sort of concept album that would be one of the first instances of him moving into this sort of explicit sex-related lyrics with the character Dr. Octagon fronting as a woman gynecologist and having sex with his patients. After this record, he released “Sex Style”, which is when he started using the term Pornocore, I’m pretty sure. The title track covers all the sexual ground you could expect: Regular sex, anal sex, golden showers, BDSM, and other related sexual acts that might even be a bit too perverted for regular sex rap, hence the more hardcore title for the genre, pornocore.
Hey Kait, how are you?
Adam, watch out for a mega mix of hip hop. I’ll email you the link possibly tonight, whats the best address to get at you?