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Somehow, I managed to survive five days straight without Blabbermouth.

For the not-quite so dedicated among us, Blabbermouth, run by Roadrunner Records but otherwise unaffiliated in terms of content, is basically the Reuters of all things metal and rock. I never, ever believe one rumor unless it’s made it to the first page of Blabbermouth. I have examples of stories making it there before the news breaks on the band’s official website, even. Blabbermouth is where all press releases go to…circulate rumors on upcoming releases, upcoming tours, ongoing tours, tour mishaps, reviews, interviews and so on and so forth. It’s everything you think you need to know, not a few things you sorta wish you didn’t, and on several occasions, a source of total hilarity, intentional and otherwise.

Back from the dead, there’s a big stink at what I’ve come to call The Daily Snark. A stink that says a few things, not just about the originator, but also about the two-way street between bands and fans, between news and news-worthy and the running commentary of metalheads who have a soapbox for the opinions that had nowhere to go but other metalheads for so long.

Snark, I’ll have you know, is good. It shows initiative, it shows attitude, it shows that you care, even if it means you care by attacking someone else’s Primeval Forces in no uncertain terms. We all have opinions in this online age, and they all stink.

Enter stinkaroo of the day, Evan Seinfeld of Biohazard.

Never mind that musically, Biohazard just ain’t – my brand of poison, not even if they are from Brooklyn.

Never mind that despite touring in 2009, they haven’t released new material since 2005. Never mind that Evan Seinfeld until recently had a sideline career as an adult film star with his now-ex wife, has participated in a few reality TV shows and in general seems to be doing quite well in marketing Evan Seinfeld for at least one other reason than being the bass player in Biohazard, that reason being he has one thing in common with half the human race, give or take a few.

No, his main pet peeve is attacking the users and commentators of Blabbermouth for being – in no particular order, gay keyboard ninjas who are symptomatic of ‘everything wrong with metal today’.

Interpret that as you please. It gives me infinite pleasure to twist it in the general direction of –

‘You are metalheads, you are our fans, you buy our tickets and CDs (if we’re lucky) and you should henceforward SHUT THE FUCK UP, because we Gods of Metal have better things to do than give a damn about your opinions. (Make porn flicks, for instance) In the unlikely event that you refuse to be silenced, you shall be branded as gay, armchair critical keyboard ninjas without lives because you dare to voice any brand of critical faculty I don’t happen to agree with.’

So – Blabbermouth is lame, gay etc. etc. He never reads it. In that case, how does he happen to know about it?

For so many years, metal was a genre without a voice, a genre regarded as somehow inferior, primitive, intellectually degrading and demeaning. Never mind that not all metalheads are stupid, never mind the clichés of long hair, tattoos, all-black blablabla. In the pre-Net days of metal, information was passed on through newsletters, zines and my all-time favorite Info Central – The Record Store.

Remember those? Where you could while away an afternoon in congenial company and maybe make a few new discoveries, too? Practice your social skills and armchair critic tendencies on your fellow metalheads, doing the exact same thing?

Maybe not. I must be feeling my age.

But now, we have – the Net. Now, we have no shortage of non-stop, no-holds-barred barrages of (dis)information, metal forums, Facebook, Nonelouder, MySpace, metal e-zines and fan sites and.

And. And. And the one-stop Reuters of metaldom – Blabbermouth, telling us everything by constantly updated press release, and not only that – we get to comment on them, too – all wrapped up in a handy, one-stop destination for snark, for info, for edification, for entertainment, for education on anything and everything metal, which makes it to Blabbermouth because – there still are bands and frontmen and bass players, even, who need that kind of exposure to generate that kind of buzz that will make fans former and future aware of the new album, the new tour, the latest, greatest, most grating…metal.

Which is – correct me if I’m mistaken – still about the music, right?

Right, guys? And what with free speech (I use that term advisedly) and the right to comment on interviewed dudes like Evan Seinfeld, who is doing precisely what we’re doing, except he’s Evan Effing Seinfeld, with a right to his opinion – and in his opinion, we’re not, because we’re not – Evan Seinfeld.

We’re just the anonymous, useless, idiot schmos who buy the albums, who go to concerts, who get the t-shirts, who…

The ones who justify the existence of the likes of Evan Seinfeld, in other words.

Metalheads of the world – fuck what he thinks! Be as snarky and as snide and opinionated as you please, because you have a voice, you have an opinion and it matters that you do, it matters because Blabbermouth wouldn’t be Blabbermouth without it.

That, my fellow metalheads, is everything that is right in metal today!

Image: Sharkforum.org

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There I was, a sunny Thursday afternoon in April – today, actually – doing my utmost to avoid anything resembling what I was supposed to be doing, which was working on my online portfolio. So, furthering the avoidance actions of Weboholics everywhere, I did what I always do when I don’t want to do what I’m doing.

I went to Blabbermouth to see if I could find anything to piss me off. And I didn’t find it. I found something else so shocking, so upsetting, so effing outrageous, I couldn’t even get pissed off about it.

Not good.

But there it was, in black on gray electronic letters. Peter Steele, lead singer and songwriter/founder of Fallout, Carnivore and Type O Negative, possibly the largest and certainly the longest lasting musical obsession I’ve ever had in my life, passed away some time yesterday, aged 48. Forty-eight!

What started as a rumor very early this morning CET via Twitter, began gaining legs and growing and growing. By this afternoon, there was confirmation from keyboardist Josh Silver, and tributes were crawling out of the woodwork of musicians, journalists and bloggers everywhere.

It can’t be true. But this time, unlike in 2005 when the band pulled a similar stunt (a hoax, as it turned out), many of us had the oh-so sinking feeling that it is – true.

I’m trying to accept it, and I can’t. Here’s another one of those Defining Moments in Music – Where were you when…John Lennon was shot, Kurt Cobain died, Layne Staley, and now…Peter Steele.

But why does it have to be when they died?

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was working as a graphic artist for a Copenhagen cultural institution known as Huset. At Huset, my best friend was the secretary for the Huset booking office, a compleat metalhead with a sharp eye on The Next Big Thing. This day of all days, she was trying to persuade my pregnant self to come to a concert at Barbue that night. “I KNOW you don’t like thrash, I KNOW you hate too much…same old…same old, but THESE guys – are not LIKE that. You’ll dig it, really!”

Huset was and is a rabbit warren of hallways, stairs, sloping ceilings and other hazards to your sense of direction. Later that afternoon, I went in search of coffee. About twenty feet from my office, I walked – literally – right into a Moving Obstacle. Which was about as much as I saw, before I looked up. And up. And..Geezuz fuck, who the HELL was this, this – titanic hunk of testosterone bomb?

It was a very apologetic, scrupulously polite Peter Steele, who had got lost on his way to the Barbue green room and somehow ended up banging his head on the 18th-century beams of the hallway just outside my office. He kept apologizing, poor man, all the way back to the green room and I kept laughing it off.

My friend prevailed. Later that night, I showed up, looking only slightly improved. This time, I was prepared for the impact. I walked up and introduced myself properly, in my native American English:

“Dude! Do ya know, I could have a raging affair – with your navel!”

To his everlasting credit, he laughed, and so did the rest of the band, while I was busy trying to find a small and dark corner in which to hide my own mortification. In person, he had an alarming – and disarming amount of charm, even towards idiot midget half-Danes from the land of tall blondes. Of course, I was a redhead then, and that must have helped.

It was a show not like many others I had seen, just as Type O Negative was a band unlike any other. Beatles-meets-Black Sabbath-meets-gothadelic-hippie-punk-metal-with-a-sense-of-humor-so-black-you-had-to-wear-shades. But even then, even as I filched the office copy of “Bloody Kisses” one day no one was looking, I didn’t entirely…get that voice yet. The time wasn’t right, or my headspace wasn’t until a few years later, I walked into a record store as if pushed by some invisible demon and asked for “October Rust”.

I went home, I put it on, I turned up my amp and then…about three minutes into “Love You To Death”, my brain literally – blew up. I was in the grip of emotions I didn’t understand and had never known before, I was attacked by something I couldn’t even articulate, it was – that powerful. And it was a combination of music so achingly beautiful, produced to luscious aural perfection, and That Voice – asking the question that blew my brain to smithereens: “Am I good enough for you?” The very idea, that someone could sing that, that someone like Peter Steele could sing that so earnestly – that’s what hit my detonator.

Because this was that Band In My Head (if I had that kind of talent, which I don’t), and here was that Voice In The Dark, the guy my Mom would have warned me against, a hopeless, hapless heartfelt romantic who pushed buttons I never even knew I wanted pushed – and bad. “October Rust” guided me through a very nasty breakup, through my discovery that that writing thang was some kind of (bad) idea, through ups and downs and out of controls. To this day – it the only CD out of my entire collection I have had to replace – three times.

I saw them live, a year or so later, I faithfully bought all their CDs on the release dates, and always, the Baritone That Did Me In did strange and wonderful and weird and unspeakable things to my head, things that can’t be mentioned in daylight.

Carnivore’s “Male Supremacy” became the litmus test for potential boyfriends – only a very healthy sense of irony need apply. His voice became such an extended part of me it was a question of “love me-love my favorite band” or else – forget it.

His voice was a voice that followed me through writing The Effing Book (three times), through everything that gave me the written voice I have today, and even into my latest misbegotten project, so much, I took his physical characteristics and gave them to “Saint Peter” in my story, one of the Good Guys. Today, I’m wondering how I’m going to get myself out of that pickle, because Saint Peter is very much alive on April 28th, at least in my story.

But today, on April 15th in the real world is the day my iPod cries. I didn’t know Peter Steele as a person, I don’t have the right to mourn him on that level, but I have the right to pay homage to a musician, a composer and a singer that exploded my head and stole my heart – and never, ever gave it back!

For that alone, a simple “thank you” is never enough.

So these pathetic words will have to do!

Goodbye, Saint Peter. You will be missed by millions, and mourned by them all, but you never entirely left, did you?

You left That Voice behind, and the music with it. Thank you for that, too.

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In the interests of furthering my musical education – or my inner maladjusted teenager, take your pick – I recently watched a BBC4 documentary on the history of heavy metal called “Heavy Metal Britannia”. It traced the origins of British heavy metal through the hazy days of influences such as Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, the Yardbirds and Cream, to Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple on to the embryonic beginnings of bands such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest in the Stygian industrial wastelands of Birmingham, and all the way to the Eighties, when Judas Priest and Iron Maiden ruled the world, or at least the world of aural metal, the territory left over that the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen hadn’t conquered yet.

Documentaries such as this one usually pack some hidden agenda, a buried subtext in black or white – the team behind it either digs it, or doesn’t, but there’s rarely any kind of middle ground. So I won’t even get into my entire gripe about the craptacular songs they used to illustrate what BBC4 defines as “heavy metal”, quotation marks included.

What really made me wonder was a throwaway statement that was meant to be ignored, overlooked and likely forgotten. The speaker had a certain cringe in his voice as he said it, a twinge of

I-so-did-not-say-that

.

Since I am a thoroughly perverted, corrupt, filthy-minded female who pays attention, I caught it. I not only caught it, I had a long hard look – and started thinking.

Always a perilous exercise.

C’mon. Your curiosity is killing you, right?

Apparently, back in the day, back in the Eighties when I was (much) young(er) and still had a few illusions punk hadn’t killed off, metal was – a guy thing.

Well, blow my mind!

That’s right. Hair bands were for female delectation, which is why, I’m guessing, Brett Michaels turned it into his entire career.

REAL metalheads – the kind who took it seriously, the kind who lived for it, the kind who headbanged at every opportunity, the ones who wanted it LOUD, who liked it PROUD, who wanted nothing more than in-your-face-all-out-aural-Armageddon…were walking testaments to testosterone who preferred more of the same as their musical justification for existence.

Right. We fluffy-minded females were just around for the ride, because our boyfriends dug it, because the dudes were smokin’, because – ladies, let’s face it, it didn’t get hip for us until the Nineties, at least in any way we could admit to in public without blushing. Chris Cornell has a lot to answer for.

Misogyny and music have a long and interleaved history, and metal and misogyny no less. So let’s start with that one.

I hate, detest and loathe stereotyping, I hate orthodoxy, I hate, despise and disdain people who have an urge to pigeonhole everything and nothing into tidy, small-minded labels, roles and sub-cultures that are easily defined, easily grasped by the masses, and just as easily digested.

I hate it because I’m one of those irritating people who just happen to think that great music is great music and who gives a dipshit if it comes with corpse paint? Or even corpses, artfully deranged?

On my planet, music is music. Period. I like all sorts and all kinds, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten darker. It’s the loss of all those illusions. It’s killing me, I’m tellin’ ya.

And wowee, here we go, wheel in the dank and dirty misogyny in all its gory glory – a long and distinguished list of dedicated testosterone bombs whom I dare not name wailing over w-o-m-a-n one way or another.

Once you get to the point where you can actually decipher the lyrics – and pick a genre, any kind of death, doom, thrash, grindcore, nu-metal whatthefuckever, there’s no lack of creatively phrased ways of stating, just as a former boyfriend did to my face one time, that women are the root of ALL evil. Whether it’s Danni Filth in “Nymphetamine” or Peter Steele’s brilliantly titled “I know you’re fucking someone else” (no hidden lights under THAT bushel, with the axe on the D train to Brighton Beach following, any day) – it’s all – bad.

Oh, for the misery we ladies so love to inflict!

What would music be without it?

What makes me wonder – just because I am that kind of pervert – is whether it’s misconstrued as misogyny when all I’m hearing are many different versions and flavors of that age-old standby –

‘you’ve-got-it-and-I-want-it-BAD.’

That’s right. The entire devolution of male and female relations in eight words. And at least eighty thousand songs, some obvious, some not so much.

Meanwhile, since the misogynistic Eighties (take my word for that), things have changed. Gene Simmons once famously stated that women will not be able to play hard rock until they learn how to acknowledge that part of themselves that’s hairy and stinks.

Since then, many metal-minded women can do that quite as well as anyone, even with Hollywood wax jobs.

For which I, for one, am profoundly grateful. As profoundly grateful as I am for all the rest of them – the testosterone bombs bewailing or berating their harsh fates at the hands of the Liliths of this world.

Let’s face it – it gave us some spectacular songs.

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If someone ever took a gun to my head (perish the thought) and asked me to name my two favorite possessions, I’d blush a bright shade of pink to admit that they’re both manufactured by a company named after a very common fruit. If my apartment building caught fire and I had five seconds to leave, I’d grab the kid and those two things before I’d grab the cats. Seriously.

It’s that bad.

I am the owner of a MacBook – the salvation of my life (and definitely my marriage), the savior of my sanity, the gateway to my independence and future hopes and dreams – and an iPod, a small 1 GB Shuffle with no bells and whistles except the ones I put on it. I don’t need umpteen gigs of songs, I don’t need my favorite TV shows or baby pictures of Damien. I just need something semi-discreet and portable – that makes noise. I can use it as a USB-stick (I have), I can plug it into my TV and hear what’s on it. I can put anything on it my li’l ol’ heart desires, or even a heart’s desire (or two). This tiny device has prepared me for work and prepared me for the onslaught that waited when I got home. It has provided a sound wall for when the Buttkicker indulged his passion for WWII movies and I wanted to write on the Effing Book, or this blog, or something else entirely you really, truly, don’t want to know about.

I got around as a single girl. As a writer, I still do!

The other thing, my little laptop, you already know about. The results are as seen.

In these uncertain times, anything that keeps mind, soul and body together can’t possible be bad. People are being laid off right and left. Creativity, that mainstay of food-for-thought, is getting scarce as the global economy is getting worse. So, instead of Busby Berkeley musical extravaganzas and Rogers&Astaire movies, some of us are taking highly radical steps into terra incognita to rid ourselves of an increasing sense of frustration and powerlessness. Feed that fatal pair long enough, and sooner or later, the Great Man-Eating monster known as Rage will emerge, and it won’t be pretty, either as poetry OR prose.

That monster, a close friend and associate of the Dood I introduced in another blog entry, merits his – or her, his deadlier, uglier sister – own blog entry.

Now, I’m interested in exploring how to manage him. Recently, as one of the things I do in order to avoid the Effing Book (something all writers do – clean their desk, do the laundry, wash the floor – anything to avoid actually writing), I completed a thoroughly stupid Facebook quiz along the lines of “What is your most repressed emotion?”. I was hugely surprised to find out that it came up as – anger.

Anyone who knows me will know that this is a laugh and a half. My fuse is notoriously short, loud and short-lived. I simply don’t have the attention span to carry a grudge for long. But anger is one thing, and rage is something else entirely.

If you’re not a sports fanatic and gifted with the ability to transfer your own rage to the opposing team, and since Roman circus games have been out of fashion for about 1700+ years, and there’s no reason an innocent four-year-old should bear the brunt of it, what do you do? You can work out until the cows come home. You can reorganize your kitchen cabinets and your closets, but then, you wouldn’t have any excuses not to write.

Your rage needs somewhere to go to get it out, or else the consequences will be dire.

One enterprising writer – and musician, as it happens – who was also laid off with ever-more increasing frequency – discovered entirely by accident that metal – the kind that gives your auricles calluses, the kind that drives many people mad, the kind, in other words, that incites and expresses murderous, poisonous emotions – did wonders for his flagging optimism. His gateway drug – if you can use that term – was Slayer.

Me, I can’t stand ’em. I was raised in a household with classical music, not a little of which I knew how to play myself. Opera, symphonies, sonatas and concertos – not to mention being able to read music – it all meant that I had certain standards that had to be fulfilled, or else – forget it. If it didn’t have melody, evolution and progression, if the musicians didn’t know how to play (which does nothing to explain my love of the Sex Pistols, but let’s call that one nostalgia!), if the lead singer did NOT know how to sing in fairly articulate English, if the lyrics were stereotyped “we’re EVIL and we know it” – forget it. Despite all my perverted Pisces best friend does to the contrary, Polish black metal doesn’t quite make the grade.

I’m picky about a lot of things. It’s my iPod and I can scream if I have to!

So when I went looking for a replacement for one particular musical obsession I’ve had for the last 15+ years (and man, does that make me feel OLD!), certain criteria had to be fulfilled. Brains. A certain healthy dose of brawn, just because I’m a gal who likes the guys who – you get the idea, right? – and above all else not staying in the same place for too long musically.

In other words, I went looking for musical redemption, the kind that carried a container for all the rage of 21st century life, the kind that made me think, the kind that challenged me and subscribed to the Chinese Box theory of great art – finding something new on the fifteenth runaround, as well as the Picasso theorem – “All great art, in order to be truly great, must have a certain Pelvic Pulse”. I wanted something to lift me out of my petty, pathetic limitations and carry me – up and out, as cool and calm as a refrigerated cucumber.

It took a few evenings trawling through YouTube, but I found what I was looking for. Now, I wait in line at the supermarket with Lee Hazlewood crooning his baritone croon in my ears. While Robert Johnson sells his soul to the devil, I collect Damien from kindergarten. On my way down, Danzig is teaching me how the Gods kill.

And in those dark, deep hours at night, where I wrestle with Scaring a Roman, I tap away on my keyboard while a black aria plays, spooked to the gills, transfixed by a terrible, eerie beauty, born up on a black angel’s wings.

Cool as a cucumber, cold as a crypt, happier than a warm day in May.

Whatever works and whatever it takes!

___________________________________________________________________________

Image: Michael William Kaluta, “Black Aria”, copyright Glenn Danzig, 1991

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Originally posted as a “review” – of sorts – on an online writing community. Part rant, part rhetoric – and all heart!

The Aural Anaconda

-a review of ”Bloody Kisses”

It’s time…for a change. It’s time to get my head either out of my ass or out of Roman Britain, or just plain…out, somewhere – elsewhere, or else wear out what’s left of my synapses. They’ve been buried, unfortunately not fatally, in dense archaeological tomes of academe. A woman can only take so many Sub-strata B earthworks variations (early first to third-century CE), before having an overwhelming urge to cause a good few third millennium earthquakes of her own.

To that end, I take a deep breath in front of my CD collection. I shall pretend that I have never heard the contents of any of these glossy acrylic cases before. This will not be hard to do. I shall shut off my superego at its main power supply and up the volume on my id, who is only too happy to oblige. Any excuse, right? So, deep breath. Close eyes. Trail fingers over cases. Back and forth several times and…there! A snag, a slight tug and pull, and out comes…

“Bloody Kisses”, by Type O Negative.

Wow. This should be fun. A lesbian love fest is in full swing on the cover, and I haven’t even put in the CD yet! Damn it, I wasn’t even invited! My id is already happy-dancing. My inner six-year-old wiener wants to know where their hands are, but the outer 44-year-old takes one look at those faces and – knows.

On the back, four funereal dudes are wondering why they’ve been caught grave-robbing, but then, I happen to blink, and there he is, Poe’s poison-green Imp of the Perverse, jumping on a tombstone and somersaulting out over the trees decked out in winter drab. I blink again, and he’s gone, but I saw him, I swear I did. The underpaid morticians on the back cover never noticed. They’re checking out the real estate, thinking “development opportunity”.

I have been warned. This is, in other words, to be taken at face value – at my peril.

Few opening tracks in the history of music recording have been so aptly named as “Machine Screw”. The title alone says it all, and whatever’s left over will clear any earwax your Q-Tips might have missed. Be careful, though. Prolonged exposure might take your brain with it.

Just before my disappointment reaches epic levels, an eerie, creepy keyboard line insinuates itself into my now immaculate auricles and I’m well away, borne on a twisting sinuous tide into “Christian Woman”, and…Holy Catechism! I totally get it! It’s Bernini’s “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa” in music.

Now, this is a statue that has been known to make even hardened Catholics smirk. They nod, they walk around this epic poem in marble in awe, and then – they smirk. Religious ecstasy, sure it is. Her toes are furling, her fingers curling, and as for that expression on her face, well! Obviously, those smirks seem to say, religious ecstasy has something to recommend it, doesn’t it? One and a half billion Catholics can’t be wrong. This statue is what all those millions of Catholic women are hoping for.

Evidently, these women have never read Origen, Tertullian or St. Augustine. Maybe they should listen to this.

If first impressions are important, then one of the first things you are going to notice is that Peter Steele can sing. Love it or loathe it, you can’t get around it. By donning a black-clad, neo-Goth Orpheus persona, his voice also has a strange effect on just about every female I’ve ever introduced to the band. All male rock’n’roll singers are testaments of testosterone, one way or another. Put a guy with an attitude in front of a microphone stand and a band, and he becomes a singing, breathing projection screen for every female fantasy a woman can throw at it. By welding his bleeding heart right out in the open onto his cast-iron shirtsleeve, Steele just might have an edge on all those other guys, who would never dare. His voice has been slaying ladies in the aisles and everywhere else ever since.
So, for the sake of argument and my fragile sanity, he shall hereafter be referred to as That Voice. It’s a voice that can and all too often does most peculiar things to women in particular, making them do things like lose all reason, buy CDs, black corsets, Type O concert tickets…Trust me. I’ve introduced every girlfriend I have to that voice, and the same thing inevitably happens. They really, truly lose it. They seriously discuss the virtues of Catholicism. They develop an insatiable craving for black Valenciennes lace. You’ve heard of those voices who could read phone books and you’d swoon, but this is ridiculous. It spans a range in one song that goes from upper baritone to basso profundo, which is nearly as low as a human being’s vocal chords can go. The only thing That Guy has to do is…breathe, and there we stupid susceptible, suggestible females would be, “before him begging to serve or please, on our backs or knees”. Oh, yes, we would. Not in a New York minute, but a Brooklyn second!
And right before we feckless females are about to enter St. Theresa mode, borne off on a relentless tide of musical bliss both harrowing and sublime – the arrow! The arrow – please, right this effing second, I am so…ready! – comes the punch line, carried by a raunchy, leering guitar and a hard beat, and the imp comes out again. “Jesus Christ looks like me!” Well, blow my mind! Here I thought he’d be a swarthy, hirsute Levantine! Silly me. When I should have been looking for a nice Brooklyn boy of Northern European extraction. Catholic, of course. A godless Lutheran could never have written this.

Then, a riff of the Munsters theme brings me back to Earth, sort of, and an ominous growl pronounces: “I went looking for trouble. And boy, I found her…” “Black no. 1” is a brilliant satire of that nemesis you used to hate, back when Goth was cool the first time around, back when Ian Curtis was a (recently dead) genius and I wanted to marry Robert Smith when I grew up. If he wasn’t available, then Andrew Eldritch would do. Ian Astbury, in a pinch. Indulge my severe fit of nostalgia for a moment. In those days, I did my level best to exude my own unique brand of 5’2” fabulousness. Black wardrobe? Check. Snow-white tan? Check. Too much makeup? Check. A haunting telltale trail of Eau de Sarcophage? Caron’s “Narcisse Noir”, purloined from my mother, who never did forgive me. Prerequisite over-sized boyfriend? Double-check. I had two at the same time – one 6’4” Henry Miller look-alike, one 6’8” curly-haired grizzly bear. We scavenged our wardrobes and our furniture from the Soviet Army “surplus store” dumpster-diving outside the Soviet Embassy in Copenhagen at 3 AM. And meanwhile, right when I really thought I was too cool and too Goth for pre-20th-century words, there was another girl, who somehow managed to be several degrees more sepulchral than even I could manage. She was tall, she was thin, she was lethally gorgeous, and I hated her on sight. We all did. This song was written for her, I swear on my first edition of “Fleurs du Mal”. This is what happened when the Christian Woman gave up holy orders, decided that the Jesus Christ-a-like from Brooklyn wasn’t satanic enough for her, and dumped him. He went looking for revenge – and boy, he found it! If only all revenge was this hilarious. “Loving you was like loving the dead.” One thing none of my former boyfriends ever complained about.

Before I’m completely carried away by a tidal wave of nostalgia, a tribal chant marks the return of the Imp, and the second practical joke of this album, “Fay Wray Come Out and Play”. Please, Fay, do. King Kong is waiting, and the natives are…restless. So is King Kong. And you look so beautiful when you scream.

Are you dying for a chance to stomp the imbedded cat fleas in your carpet into submission? Do you want them to beg for mercy on their tiny knees and make you swear on your old copies of Green Egg that you will never do that again? Would that be too cruel for your eco-friendly sensitivities? Then, practical joke number three is not for you.

If, however, you don’t give a flying about those poor dying fleas in your fifth-hand rug, and you can be found in your off moments playing air guitar with a hairbrush in your skivvies to Pantera (guilty!), then “Kill All the White People” is for you. Try headbanging to this with the nearest available three-year-old, and he will, if he knows what’s good for him, love you forever for it. He might even join you. He won’t get the joke, but you will. If, on the other hand, you don’t, then you don’t deserve this album. May I commiserate. Not.

A very long time ago, there was such a thing as eight-track cassettes. A.M. radio was huge, because that’s where all the hits of the time were played. One cheesy bit of dandelion fluff was a monster hit on A.M. radio in those days. It was called “Summer Breeze”, by Seals and Croft. I lived through those days, and I remember the song well. Catchy. Cheesy. More or less instantly forgettable, even with hippy-dippy harmonics. Not likely to be induced into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame anytime soon.
Try to get this particular version of it out of your brain, and you are in mortal danger of never hearing it any other way again. Ever. All D-tuned strings, distortion, doom-laden drums, keyboards proclaiming the coming Apocalypse and vocals by Beelzebub, giving a throwaway hit some sinister, serial-killer punch it certainly never had before and likely will never have again. You can just see Ted Bundy, coming through the door and across the floor, wielding a bloody axe to this, blowing through the jasmine in his mind. My awfully wedded shall never forgive me for playing this version for him and ruining the original forever. Not to mention screwing up his happy childhood memories. This is evil, evil genius.

Right before a fatal descent into the maelstrom, you are brought back from the brink by “Set me on Fire” and a bright burst of keyboard masquerading as cathedral Bach, where the Dybbuk-in-Disguise has ditched the Devil, left the building and headed straight for the choir of Silly Seraphim. It’s the perfect antidote for serial killer schmaltz, if only because this song – with lyrics consisting of seven words – goes on for over three minutes, and lo and behold!, you can even dance to it. It is bouncy and silly and stupid and beautiful all in one, and if it can make a nearly middle-aged woman feel all of 16 at 9 AM on a dreary rain-soaked Tuesday, then it can’t possibly be bad.

This is an album recorded by four incorrigible practical jokers, and the Imp makes yet another appearance, before I self-asphyxiate in warm, fuzzy 16-year-old thoughts. First, we have “Dark Side of the Womb”, and I can’t quite decide if this is what really happens to Rosemary’s Baby once the camera stopped rolling, or if this is what I wanted to happen three years ago when I gave birth to Damien, the Sequel. The blood of a newborn child. Oh, the possibilities!

There’s more flea murder and dust-bunny decimation to come in “We Hate Everyone”. In fact, it might be fair to say that it takes hardcore to a whole new level. My downstairs neighbors never breathed a word of complaint over Pantera. But they complained about this one, and they have a point. Even the jaded three-year-old didn’t like it much. As a motivational track for housecleaning however, this has its uses. It even beats my perennial favorite the Sex Pistols into shame. My toilet bowl underwent a cathartic experience from which it has never quite recovered. Methinks, however, the gentlemen doth complain a tad too much.

I have days like that, too. It’s called PMS. At least I have that excuse.

From extending a middle finger to the rest of the world to bombastic blood-chilling…suicide? We’re back in penny dreadful novel territory with “Bloody Kisses” (A Death in the Family). I don’t mean that in a bad way. The band throws every single death-and-despair cliché at the unsuspecting listener, and then milks all of them dry for all they’re worth. Ah, this is heart-breakingly depressing. And heart-stopping beautiful. I award it five Victorian mourning hankies. I may cry. You’ll have to excuse me. I have to swoon now. Ah, they’re dead! Alas, they’re dead! And now I have no hankies left to mop up those salty tears. Just loosen my stays. Or else I’ll have to swoon again. All that wailbone is killing me.

By now, I think I’m suffering from a mild case of musically induced schizophrenic personality disorder. “Too Late/Frozen” begins with a screw-up intro, someone calling “Fourths, dude!”, then…we’re back on familiar ground here. Or are we?
What’s really disturbing is the way the opening piece reminds me of a catchy early-Seventies commercial jingle. “It’s too la-a-a-a-a-ate!” coos the chorus like blissed-out pigeons on Prozac, and suddenly I catch myself thinking that chorus would be perfect for a car commercial. Just have them sing “Chev-ro-le-e-e-e-et!”
“So you call to say you’re very sorry/Won’t happen again – forgive me?/Time will not heal these wounds/And I’m bleeding/Because of you” croons That Guy again, and within seconds, this hapless female has forgiven him not just that Beelzebub impersonation, but – everything! Only to be dropped off a cliff at a vertiginous height, and the only way to go is…down and down and down.
You’ve heard of raining on someone’s parade. This is the equivalent of a monsoon downpour on the Fourth of July. What I really love/hate/loathe/adore is that I’ve woken up at 4 AM with this song on constant replay in my head. So catchy, it’s driving me crazy, and I already have plenty of reasons to be lured over the brink, thanks. There should be a health warning on this CD. “Listening to this will be hazardous to your health.”

More hazard lurks ahead in “Blood and Fire”. One-two-three-four, here we go again. “No more nights of blood and fire/with no warning/you were gone/And I still don’t know what went wrong” warbles the black-clad Orpheus with all the heartfelt sincerity of the thoroughly beaten dog you’re convinced he is, and like any human hound who ever lived, breathed and wagged his tail alluringly, he goes on…”You don’t know what I’ve been through/Just want to put my love in yo-ooooooo-o-ooooooooou”.

Uh huh. Sure you do. That’s where the trouble starts, right? Exit sanity, enter libido, begin heartache. And other aches and itches and twitches for which all guys think they know the cure. And they wonder why we leave.

Sanity, man. We just can’t handle all that rock hard love. It does weird and eerie things to our heads. And other susceptible parts of our delicate feminine anatomy.

Right when I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’m at least semi-sane again, the final coup-de-grace. “Can’t Lose You” should be recommended by the New York Psychiatric Association as aural therapy for libidinally impaired females. Or indeed any females who think they’ve lost their primeval urge and have only menopause to look forward to.
Ladies, listen to this. I dare you. One long, meandering, near-instrumental croon with a sitar, yupp, the Ravi Shankar inciting variety that is the nearest thing to aural sex I’ve ever heard. Somewhere between the sitar, the guitar and oh, geez, that, ahem, Effing Voice again, I’ve totally and utterly lost it. Thankfully, I’m married, which means a dick is never too far away.

This album is a mess. It’s not hard to guess the influences here. Take vintage Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple and a whole army of butt-rock bands large and small, add a healthy dose of the Beatles, along with generous sprinklings of lesser-known bands like the Cocteau Twins, Lush, the Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim, and put them all in a blender. Whatever you do, don’t forget a good, few economy-sized wallops of classic punk and molten-lead metal. Now, add a liberal sense of twisted humor, an amazing keyboard player who spans the range from Bach to Jon Lord to OhmiGawd and far beyond, cackling all the while. Remember a drummer who can actually play drums, believe it or not. Right before you’re about ready to scream, throw in a guitar player who’s been practicing licks and riffs since the womb, I suspect, and is not averse to delivering a few new versions to fully satisfy your curiosity about New Things to Practice on Your Hairbrush In Your Underwear.
Oh, yeah. The bass player. He plays the bass. Most of the time, not badly. He’s also the guy who sings. The combination has been hazardous to my health ever since.
Turn on the blender. Forget the lid. Let’s face it, you’ve always wanted oxblood walls, right? Here’s your excuse.
You might, if you’re very lucky, end up with something like this. The album is now teenaged, in a matter of speaking, but it doesn’t sound dated, doesn’t have that feel that screams “Oh, that sounds so…Nineties!”.
Type O Negative is, shall we say, a definite acquired taste. You either hate the solipsistic/narcissistic bombastic Baroque satirical mess of it all, or you give up, give in and let yourself be swallowed whole by an aural anaconda of an album that won’t let you go. Not now, not tomorrow, not fifteen years from the moment you bought it. Just don’t let the Imp out of your sight. He’s there, all right, and boy, is he perverse!

Speaking of which, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m off to see if a guy can be raped. The sitar made me do it.

You think you’ve landed on one of those useless, time-consuming, time-wasting blogs that are basically just another form of verbal – errr – masturbation. let’s say. You think that with a blog name like this, the owner and creator is either:

a) a 440 lb exceedingly frustrated housewife in a trailer park in AR, who has five snotty kids and a husband who works just over the road in Bentonville, whose name is Dwayne.
b) a 440 lb former biker named Dwayne, NOT in AR
or
c) both of the above, they really are in AR and it’s the inside joke of the week at the local dive.

You would be wrong.

You would, one way or the other, be conforming to the expected stereotype, that there are things someone my age, and my demographic should never, ever do.

Man, I’m so insulted.

For starters – I am not even in AR. Or even the US. I am not 440 lbs, I have not one body modification except for two pierced earlobes, and I own no tatoos. Not one. I have, however, been known to wear black. A lot. You can take a girl out of Goth(am), but you can’t take the Goth out of the girl.

Besides, I’m 5’2″. I need all the help I can get.

I have also been known to puncture holes ihn the minds and egos of those who think that there are certain things women “my age” (I’m 45, and so what, so get over it already!) do not do, and that is have a definite predilection for music, art and other forms of human creative expression that are, well, toward the darker end of the scale.

And lo, and behold – I have discovered to my dismay and seeming disbelief, that the literacy level is either so high you will never, ever get any of the esoteric references that are spewed like forgotten pearls in every other sentence, or else will appeal mainly to troglodytes who communicate only in grunts.

So what’s a woman of literary inclination to do? Where to rhapsodize over the virtues of playing air guitar on your hairbrush in your underwear? The questionable delights of maintaining your tinnitus with liberal doses of Megadeth (before Mustaine was brain-processed by his personal Messiah)? Where can I get enlisted for the Kiss Army?

And where can I dump all political correctness and stereotypes by the wayside when it’s really, honestly, all rock’n’roll to me?

Here.

Reader, beware!