Friday, November 24, 2017

Don Grady (My Three Sons) on American Bandstand

Robbie Douglas, of My Three Sons, in a July 10, 1965 appearance on American Bandstand, in which he "sings" and sits for an interview with Dick Clark.

Heaviest Metallist 9 - Cavernlord

(in which a lapsed metalhead seeks the heaviest metal song ever - recommendations are welcome)


Not every song covered here in Heaviest Metallist is a serious contender for the title of heaviest metal song ever. Some are just interesting, heavy songs that I ran across in my quest. Such is the case with Hypothalamus, by Cavernlord.

Which is a mighty fine name for a band, if you ask me, although it appears that Cavernlord is one of those one-man "band" affairs where the chap parades down the street with a cymbal hanging from his ear, a bass drum strapped to his ankle and a flugelhorn in each hand. The one-man band in this case is Nathaniel Leveck, a Wyoming-based musician who appears to have turned out a few EPs and an album as Cavernlord. Hypothalamus is from the three-song Hypothalamus EP.

So what's it all about? I wish I knew. The Bandcamp page for the EP would have us believe that Cavernlord is a purveyor of "heavy psychedelic sludge" and I guess I can buy that, for lack of being able to come up with a better summary that will fit on a match pack. The song is built around a curiously heavy and grimy (for lack of a better word) sounding riff, complemented by Leveck's odd vocals. Which range from unintelligibly distorted to something like John Lydon in his early PiL days, if he were having some sort of a psychotic episode.

Pete Townshend & Lou Reed - Pale Blue Eyes

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Heaviest Metallist 8 - Triptykon

(in which a lapsed metalhead seeks the heaviest metal song ever - recommendations are welcome)

Black Snow/Altar of Deceit
Melana Chasmata

Do this. Grab your list of bands that have been around for three decades and are still making new music you might listen to more than one time. If it's anything like mine, it's probably pretty sparse. Of course, Triptykon is technically not the same band as Celtic Frost, but given that the driving force in each incarnation is Tom Fischer I'd say that's close enough for government work. In 2014, thirty years after Celtic Frost made the scene with Morbid Tales, Triptykon released their second album, Melana Chasmata. If you allow that there's such a creature as extreme progressive metal or perhaps progressive extreme metal (or whatever...) this is arguably a good example of the form.

Melana Chasmata is heavy, but it's not breakneck, unmitigated heaviness all the way through. There are bits that border on subtle and there's even a track I'd nominate as the best Sisters of Mercy song the Sisters of Mercy never wrote. But none of that has a place here, where we are striving to locate the heaviest metal song of all time. Fortunately, there's some seriously heavy stuff on this album. Since two songs were especially noteworthy, it's two for the price of one this time around.

Black Snow
Epic is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, often with no good reason, except that it's a popular buzzword. But it's a word that could be applied quite accurately to Black Snow, a tune that clocks in at over 12 minutes and doesn't waste one second of its running time. Celtic Frost did some pretty decent fast songs but for my money some of their most memorable ones proceeded at a leisurely pace. Melana Chasmata has one good thrasher (Breathing) and Black Snow kicks it into high gear for a short stretch but for the most part it lumbers along at a trudging pace and an atmosphere that drips with menace and foreboding. Combine this with the excellent production quality - nothing lo-fi or murky here - and the result is twelve minutes of music that hits like a ton of bricks.

Altar of Deceit
Black Snow would easily have been the best song on the album if it weren’t for Altar of Deceit. Things get rolling here with a plinking guitar that's soon joined by drums and before long a massive riff comes barreling down the tracks. It gives way another even more massive riff, with a chugging trudging rhythm of the sort that Celtic Frost might not have invented but that they certainly made good use of. And on it goes until the break, which gives way to noodly, trippy guitar stuff that works quite well in the context of things. Then come the final section of the song, which takes a seriously heavy turn and which features riffs that sound like they're shattering slabs of concrete. Then it's all over. If you're like me you start it again.

Celtic Frost Documentary

Celtic Frost - A Dying God, a Swiss documentary with English subtitles.

Underrated Rock Guitarists - Bruce Anderson

One of the more obscure underrated rock guitarists, Anderson played with MX-80 Sound, once described as "either the most Heavy Metal Art Band or the most Arty Heavy Metal Band". Out of the Tunnel, their 1980 release on Ralph Records, is enough to justify Anderson's inclusion in the annals of the underrated.

The group's second full length album, it delights throughout with Anderson wielding a guitar that sounds like a fistful of barbed wire being raked over the strings. Highlights include the bouncy, loopy Gary and Priscilla, which is catchy and annoying at the same time and which finds Anderson almost at his finest. He peaks on Someday You'll Be King, a mix of avant-weird-power-punk-bubble-gum-whatever, complete with an honest to goodness hook and angular punkish guitar freakouts that still stick in my head decades later.

Scritchy, man.

Underrated Rock Guitarists - Snakefinger

An obscure "rock" guitarist, Snakefinger, aka Philip Charles Lithman, was probably best known for his work with The Residents, who have provided the world with a seemingly inexhaustible fount of sonic weirdness for about four decades. He was so closely associated with the eyeball head guys until his untimely death in 1987 that the two entities almost seemed to blend together. While his Residential work, not surprisingly, was decidedly quirky, Snakefinger was arguably less offbeat than his pals and his 1984 live album was devoted solely to blues covers. For an introduction to his work, try the Residents albums on which he appeared or the quartet of solo albums he released on Ralph Records from 1979 to 1983.

The Other Half on The Mod Squad

The Other Half, a real-life Sixties band who released one album.