Although I don’t have any particular problem with the constant evolution of technology there are some matters were I am extremely ‘old school’. One of them is cars. In general I don’t have any interest in cars. They are just tools that I use to do my job, as it requires pretty long travels. So when it comes to my car I keep things on a basic level. This among other things means minimum electronics, not even a cd player. So the old and faithful cassette player helps me staying in contact with my music roots as it keeps my tape collection useful.
Having to drive many hours due to job obligations normally doesn’t bother me. Except the other day when I forgot to put my tapes back in the car after I washed and cleaned it (after a couple of years). Under the circumstances the radio was the only alternative. Now, I have never been a friend of the radio and I could never share the affection a lot of people show for the medium. I find it to be shallow and with no real meaning. When I want to listen to music I will listen to my cd's instead of waiting from a radio station to play some music that is of my liking. If I want to be aware of what's going on there's always the printed press and the internet.
This basic belief of mine was cemented after hours of torture, wandering among the lady gagas and rihannas of the world and the awful and unbearable popular greek music, during that recent trip of mine. The lack of choice that I confronted was astonishing. Inevitably my mind made the comparisons with the situation many years before.
It was sometime in 1987 when a 16 year old discovered in awe that there was a radio show on the national greek radio that was specializing in extreme underground metal. I would never think there would be any radio station that would cover the music I was listening to, let alone the national radio. Yet, there it was, an hour every Saturday afternoon devoted to raw and brutal thrash and death metal. Back in the day this was the fastest and easiest way to learn about and listen to new releases as mainstream metal press didn't bother about the underground, fanzines were covering new records some months or years later and the internet was not in the people's vocabulary. The show used to present new records in their entirety as soon as they were released. I remember as if it was yesterday some of the LPs featured...Death's Leprosy, Protector's Urm the Mad, Axegrinder's Rise of the Serpent Men, Sacrilege's Within the Prophecy and Turn back Trilobite , Thanatos' Emerging from the Netherworlds and plenty more. The show vanished somewhere in 1990 or 1991 and with it vanished the one and only attempt of the mainstream media to shed light in the underground of metal. Some years later even mainstream metal disappeared from the greek radio as you couldn't even listen to an Iron Maiden song.
This way we come to here and now. As long as I know there are a couple of self proclaimed rock radio stations with a strange idea of what rock music really is. Metal is an unknown word in the cosmos of greek radio, so anyone can guess what is the situation with black and death metal.
The real problem is that this situation is not a result of business decisions or marketing plans made by the stations but it is what comes from the complete setback of the greek society that started from early 90s and continues until today. In today's context it is unthinkable for a radio station to play something like Leprosy, not because there is no audience but because there would be many that would protest if such music was played on air. We the greeks are fucked up, demented and peculiar in many ways. I find it strange that the many problems (mostly economical) the average citizen of this shithole faces in his everyday life for many years now, do not result in rage or anything like that. Instead they lead to a strict conservatism and a stupid turning towards harmless and cheap entertainment that further stupefies them.
The league of extraordinary gentlemen
Thankfully we don't need no radio to point us towards two amazing new records that are the best things I heard lately.
Blood Revolt's Indoctrine is the best example of today's extreme metal. It is not black metal, neither it is death, thrash, doom, war or whatever stupid tag would anyone thing. It is all of the above and many more. 'This is the sniper filing down the pin before picking off innocents, this is the suicide bombers sweaty greasy hand on the ignition, dead bodies piled in the politics of the mass grave. Unforgiving and unrelenting elitism' in the words of A. Averill as spoken in an interview (read it here). It is one of those rare occasions where a band describes exactly its work with no exaggerating or falling into the web of megalomania.
This is by far the most brutal music Averill has put his voice along and his performance is stunning. In the same interview he says 'I’ve never done music this violent or brutal, so I just went back to my roots and the old school vocal performances from the likes of carnivore, holy terror, dark angel, slayer etc. this tight sharp thrash approach'. Picture this and add his talent on performing in a unique theatrical manner (spoken word, narration, melancholic passages) and maybe you'll have an idea.
On the other hand this is the most 'well produced' and professional recording C. Ross and J. Read have ever made and their performance is of the highest caliber. It is not often that a record is as complete as Indoctrine is, both in inspirational/compositional level and in execution.
I would also like to pay my respects to Annthennath's States of Liberating Departure.
The remarkable black metal records of the year have been enough. One of the absolute best is the debut from these frenchmen. Having formed a scene with strong personality to the point of being considered an established force, france now meets its new pretenders to the throne.
The members are all veterans with the most notable being ex Deathspell Omega vocalist and prolific underground figure Shaxul. His period of Deathspell Omega is anything but my favorite as I find it to be mediocre and uninspired both in musical and lyrical/philosophical levels. But I don't like to bite the hand that feeds me, and since I feed on hateful, raw and filthy black metal mostly, States of Liberating Departure is essential.
The guitars are along the lines of the french tradition, but with no fear in adding melody or being more free-form with leads appearing very often. After all, the guitars have all the freedom to do as they wish having the strong backing of the bass which here acts as another lead instrument almost equal to the guitars. Shaxul contributes his strongest performance ever and all these combined with the great cover constitute a work that is a mandatory listen.
Sometimes when reading comments of any kind on whatever subject interests me, I keep notes. Unfortunately it is often that I don't write down were I read each comment either out of laziness or because I am so naive to believe that I will remember the 'source'. Of course after four or five pages in my notebook my memory fails me. Such is the case with a comment I read concerning Nightbringer's Apocalypse Sun. I only remember that it was posted on a greek blog because I remember me translating it in english. In just two lines it summarizes every feeling and thought I have about this record but I could never manage to phrase myself. I quote 'Uncontrolled. Blatant.No outbreak. No emotional charge. No digestible passages. Black, almost not metal. Guitars built to slaughter'.