Pain In Recorded Form: Alice In Chains – Dirt

September 29th, 1992.  By the time this day rolled around the Grunge scene was at the top of the music heap.  Just a year earlier Soundgarden released the album that got them attention, Badmotorfinger; Pearl Jam, having risen from the ashes of Mother Love Bone, released their uber-boring debut, Ten; and of course, Shitvana released their craptastic shitsterpiece, Nevermind.  But on this day, Alice In Chains, on the heels of their 1990 debut, Facelift, and their 1991 EP, Sap, released their second album, equal parts Sabbath worship in music and lyrical documentation of the heroin addiction that would eventually claims the lives of two of the band’s members, Dirt.  Upon it’s release was probably THE darkest album to be released in the mainstream at that point in time, with most songs blatantly about frontman Layne Staley’s radiply growing heroin addiction.  But lets make one thing clear before I go any further, none of the guys in the band were squeaky clean.  This wouldn’t be a Seattle band if any of them were, right?  Hell, Jerry Cantrell admitted to taking Xanax during the recording of Dirt for severe clinical depression and was also drinking heavily.

Of course, heroin wasn’t the only subject matter tackled on the album, thanks to the handful of tracks written entirely by guitarist Jerry Cantrell.  In fact, one of those songs, “Them Bones” is the album’s heavier-than-fuck opener.  Written in a very Soundgarden-like 7/8 time, not even Kim or Chris on their best days could come up with a riff as crunchy as this.  Besides, it’d mean playing more than just single notes!  Add to that morbid lyrics about fearing death and a badass solo but Cantrell and you pretty much have a taste for what was to come.  This would definitely sound NOTHING like Facelift.  “Dam The River” kicks the door down immediately after “Them Bones” with even more drop-D Sabbath-style Metal.  It’s amusing when Cantrell explains that the song was written in retaliation for drummer Sean Kinney breaking a coffee table over his head and knocking him out because he wouldn’t shut the fuck up.  Musicians take note – this could be you.

Image result for alice in chains 1992                            Image result for alice in chains 1992

Alright, here’s the first set of Layne Staley lyrics, “Rain When I Die”.  There are a lot of things happening in the lyrics that’ve led to many interpretations from Layne predicting he’ll before he can even get help to him letting someone take the fall for something he did (a drug deal maybe?) to him claiming that even junkies have feelings.  That last one will forever be debatable as far as I’m concerned.  The music?  Pure Sabbath worship.  So many slow, snaky whammy bar dips, crying out throughout many layered guitar tracks.  It’s almost like the song’s an “Iron Man” tribute to Iommi himself, backed up by an absolutely solid bass vamp by Mike Starr.

“Sickman” is such a HUGE track, switching from a frantic riff that just makes you panic to a slow waltz tempo at multiple points.  Fuck, it sure makes me anxious while thinking about it.  But the real high point to this track is Layne’s layered vocal harmonies at the midpoint.  To most fans, the centerpiece to any classic Chains track is hearing Layne’s stacked harmonies.  They were always surprisingly well thought out and added almost a morbid sense of finally to such a doomy backdrop.  But this is also why Jerry Cantrell was and still is a GOD.  Taking a break from themes of morbidity “Rooster” is the most epic track on the record.  Written entirely by Cantrell, the song was a tribute to his father, a Vietnam veteran.  He was estranged from his father for years and this was his way beginning to mend fences.  It clearly worked: his father is interviewed on camera for the intro to the music video.  And Jerry plays the part of his father in the video.  It’s actually very powerful:

Following up the band’s big “Kumbaya” moment we’re thrown right back into heroin hell with “Junkhead”.  I don’t think I need to explain what’s going on here: “What’s my drug of choice?/What’ve you got?/I don’t go broke/And I do it a lot”.  But it almost sounds like Layne was letting everyone know that he’d become one with the fact that he was junkie and didn’t care, especially when he sings that “You cant understand a users mind/But try with your books and degrees/If you let yourself go and open your mind/I’ll bet you could do it like me and it ain’t so bad”.  It’s almost as if we was writing his own eulogy.

Following that is the snaky title track.  It’s yet another Cantrell-style exercise in Sabbath worship, but with an atmospheric tone that is almost unpredictable, even if it also sounds like the end of something is coming.  It’s pure depression.  Of all the tracks on here, especially “Angry Chair”, this to me is the track that just oozes pure emotional pain.  When first heard Layne sing the lines “I want you to kill me and dig me under/I want to live no more” I totally believed it.  Just remember, heroin isn’t necessarily the type of drug that makes you energetic like cocaine.  It’s supposed to provide a supposed euphoric effect but as far as I’m concerned it just makes people more depressed and makes them more withdrawn, or more of an asshole.  Used for pain my ass!  The final moments, in which the tempo gradually slows down, reminds me of someone going to sleep…or fading away.  Was that was Layne was thinking when he heard what Jerry came up with?

Now, long before some piece of shit New England band took their name from an Alice song and even stole their logo, “God Smack” was another track about heroin.  It’s admittedly not one of the best tracks on here but I definitely love the main riff.  Remember me mentioning an “Iron Man” tribute in “Rain When I Die”?  It happens again in the short interlude track “Iron Gland”, featuring vocals by Tom Araya.  “Hate To Feel” is the first of two tracks written entirely by Layne Staley, music and everything.  The riff is very bluesy, yet very Sabbath inspired, based on it’s single note main riff, the backdrop to lyrics in which Layne blames his father for his addiction.  In later years he claimed that he’d try to get sober and his father would come by asking him for drugs, so it’s possible.

The next, and last track written completely by Staley is one of THE most memorable and breath taking tracks, “Angry Chair”.  I did say “Dirt” was the track with the most pain, but “Angry Chair” was the track where Layne not only describes in detail the horrible withdrawal symptoms of heroin, but also gives to clear of a picture of his own mental state.  It’s such a jaw dropping lyric, even if he is seemingly predicting his own end as he sings “Loneliness is not a phase/Field of pain is where I graze/Serenity is far away…”.  Considering it’s one of the first songs Layne ever wrote entirely it’s a masterpiece.

“Down In A Hole” is one of the darkest love songs Cantrell or anyone for that matter has ever written.  His harmonizing with Layne is spot on before Layne takes off on his own.  Unsurprisingly, he was apparently high as fuck while recording his vocals for this one.  What is kind of surprising is how he was clearly able to keep himself together while recording his masterful triple harmony lines near the end.  I’d show you the video but it honestly is lame so here’s the song.

Originally written for the Singles soundtrack and therefore recorded before the band even went into the studio for Dirt, “Would?” is the albums closing track.  Also written by Jerry, the song was written about Andrew Wood, the lead singer of Mother Love Bone who died of a heroin overdose on the eve of the band’s debut album release.  This is actually very significant to not just Dirt‘s roots but to the Grunge scene’s future.  Many people will say that before Wood’s overdose the music that came out of Seattle was for the most part nowhere near as sad and angry as it would become.  In fact, it was said the he was full of life and energy nd everyone loved the guy.  So therefore his death took a toll on a lot of people.  One of the reasons Cantrell was on Xanax was apparently to help him cope with this.

As far as his lyrics were concerned, it was pointed at those who pass judgement on others for their mistakes, as bought up in the final chorus line “So I made a big mistake/Try to see it once my way”.  I guess I can see his view but I also can’t.  Maybe that was the point, being I’ve never touched a single drug in my life.  The music, and incredible display of soft and loud dynamics while never losing it’s aggression before Layne closes out the song, and this drug fueled shitstorm of an album by asking us “If I would could you?”.

The events following the release of Dirt could be comparable to see a legitimate prophecy live out.  In early 1993 bassist Mike Starr was fired from the band for his own drug problems and replaced by Ozzy bassist Mike Inez.  After a while the band stopped touring regularly after dropping off an opening spot with Metallica and rumors of Layne’s drug use ran rampant.  After the release of their 1995 self titled album and their 1996 MTV Unplugged appearance, where Layne looked like a fucking pink haired corpse, he went into hiding.  Aside from the band’s Music Bank boxset, no one really heard from Layne again, until he was found dead of his apartment in Seattle in 2002.  The autopsy report determined that he died two weeks before he was even discovered, making his death date April 5th, the exact day Cobain offed himself eight years earlier.  Mike Starr was found dead in 2011.

Dirt was Alice In Chains’ masterpiece.  It was as dark and heavy as any Heavy Metal album could be.  And Layne Staley’s lyrics were honest.  He didn’t play with words and guessing games with you, like that jackass Cobain did.  He told it like it was…and most likely as it was happening.  it was mentioned after he died but with Dirt, Layne seemed to really be prophesizing his own death, while Jerry Cantrell was his doomy, sludgy, pallbearer.

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Doug Young: The Hardcore King Of Powerlifting

See that beast in the main picture?  That motherfucker right there is THE reason I became a fan of Powerlifting to begin with.  This is the story of Doug Young, more than a man’s man, but an absolute GOD in the early era of the sport.

I had already gained some interest into what Powerlifting was the day I started surfing YouTube videos thanks to the growing popularity of Starting Strength, a beginner’s strength routine.  I found an old video of a televised Powerlifting event on NBC Sports with commentary from Canadian Powerlifter and coach Terry Todd and a very young Bryant Gumbel.  It turned out to be the 1977 IPF World Championships, held in Perth Australia.  After watching Squat World Record cat fight between Paul Jordan and Larry Pacifico, which resulted in Paul hurting himself in three places because he went for heavier weight than he could handle like a retard, as well as Vince Anello winning first place in the Mid Heavyweight division for Team USA it was the Heavyweights’ turn.

Around the minute mark of this particular video Doug Young appeared as he was getting ready to Squat 699lbs.  The intensity in his eyes could burn a hole right through anyone.  Then, as he began to set himself up, you heard that fucking growl.  This wasn’t no ordinary growl, it truly sounded like a bear was coming out.  It was Doug’s inner rage, having to squat that much weight after dropping thirty pounds in just one week in order to make the 242lbs weight class for Team USA.  Oh he made the squat alright, but in doing so he also broke three ribs.

It clearly was pretty unlikely that he’s continue.  But he did, managing to Bench Press 535lbs, Deadlift 710lbs, and even win first place, all while fainting twice in the process.  “Holy fucking shit this guy is hardcore!” was my initial reaction.  I doubt that Larry Pacifico, who Doug even called out before his 710lb Deadlift attempt, would have balls that big as to compete with three broken ribs after dropping thirty pounds in seven days.  I’m not claiming to be the toughest son of a bitch alive but I doubt highly that even modern day guys like Dan Green or Eric Lillibridge would be brave enough to do that.  Well…maybe Eric would be.

doug_young in color

Power Bodybuilding

In between lifters and attempts interviews were shown with the lifters.  But when they showed Doug’s interview he said something interesting.  He revealed that when he wasn’t training specifically for Powerlifting he’d train “for physique”, claiming that everyone should train to be equally as “pretty” as they do to be strong.  This is called Power Bodybuilding today and, as shown in those interview clips, it’s a lot higher in volume than most people would think, as these training clips shown him performing Bodybuilding type moves, such as dumbbell flyes, dumbbell curls and Skull Crushers.

Doug at his best had a 56 inch chest with a tapered waist.  So not only did he have muscle but also didn’t have much fat on him.  It seemed, for a while, that lifters, regardless of their goals, lost the point but I think it’s coming back now, especially with programs like Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1, which I’ve been using for almost two years now, and Chad Wesley Smith’s Juggernaut system.  It’s that equal balance of stimulating the muscles for both growth and strength, while conditioning yourself too.  Doug Young was the early forefather for what it is to truly be in shape.  Oh and by the way, a year he broke his rib Doug was the first man under 300lbs to Bench Press 612lbs.  With just a t-shirt on.

Doug Young, he was to forbearer of what it is to truly be in shape and be the total package, and one day in his lifting career was most hardcore than your entire life.

Final Thoughts

Unrelated to Doug Young, I just found out that Kai Green has signed up with Super League and, while it appears he’s not leaving the IFBB, it looks like he’s done competing for them.  That’s a fucking shame!  I don’t follow Bodybuilding like I used to but Kai was my boy.  He may have not won 1st place but he has a legacy so much stronger than his win-loss record.  I looked up Super League and realized that I did actually hear about it maybe a week ago.  Looks promising…but on the flipside, is Kai really that insecure about never beating Phil Heath?

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Municipal Waste – Slime And Punishment

I really wasn’t sure if Municipal Waste were ever going to pull it off; but what they released just over month ago, Slime And Punishment, is truly the album we’ve been waiting for.  It’s been five years since they released their Nuclear Blast Records debut, The Fatal Feast, a bit of a musical departure from the usual Thrash/Party Metal they’re legendary for at this point, to more of a Crossover type sound.  I wasn’t bad but neither that or the album before it, 2009’s Massive Aggressive, could EVER amount to their 2007 masterpiece, The Art Of Partying.  Hell, upon listen to Massive again while getting ready for this review I remembered why I stopped listening to it after three spins tops (maybe even just one!) – they were trying to hard to top The Art Of Partying.  You could barely hear the drums, and it felt like Tony Foresta struggled horribly with keeping up with the tempos.  Same unfortunately goes with Ryan Waste.  He couldn’t speed pick fast enough to keep up with the rhythm section for shit.

So what a huge shock it was when they dropped their first single of the new album, “Amateur Sketch”, back in April.  It was faster than a lot of The Fatal Feast.  But not only that, but the intensity was back and everything, guitars especially, was so much louder and so much sharper.  When mixing an album it’s so important that everything can be heard no matter what.  But one track doesn’t mean shit after a five year absence.  So I waited then I heard the title track, released a month later.  I wasn’t fast but it hit just as hard.  It was more old school Metal than Thrash but it was quick, catchy and did the trick.  I was sold and bought the record a week after it was released.

“Breath Grease” kicks this one off with a real BANG!  No slow, prodding intros, no instrumentals, just straight into a fast tempo song, which leads into “Enjoy The Night”, which sees the pace kicked up even faster…as if to say “good luck banging your head to this without snapping it!”. Upon hearing most of this album two things come to mind: the addition of Nick Poulos as a second guitarist was the smartest decision the band made last year, and the band as a whole clearly realized that it’s better to let the music come naturally, as opposed to forcing themselves to play a specific style.  The results are that of a band that sounds absolutely refreshed; just all of the things they’re good at and nothing they can’t do.

The one thing I’m really impressed with on Slime And Punishment is the incredibly high pitch in Tony Foresta’s vocal approach.  If you’ve paid attention to him outside of Waste then you know that this is the exact approach he’d been using with his other band, Iron Reagan.  But for this collection of songs he without a doubt NEEDED to go this high.  Especially on tracks likes the balls to the wall “Bourbon Discipline” and “Parole Violators” (featuring Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front), where he screams out “fuck you man!”, it’s as if he’s legitimately living out the audio party as it’s happening!

As mentioned earlier, hiring a second guitarist had to literally be THE smartest decision the band made recently.  Sure, even with one guitarist you can track as many guitars on a recording as you can.  But with two guitarists comes an extra set of ideas.  It’s readily apparent on “Poison The Preacher”, one of the way more serious tracks here, where some of the riffs just don’t sound like they were just written my Ryan.  There’s so much more of an old school Hetfield-like crunch to them (I’m talking …And Justice For All era Hetfield, when he still had balls along with two years worth of emotional rage).  Extra props for that chorus hook – one of THE heaviest moments on the entire record!

Another big surprise here is the instrumental track, “Under The Waste Command”.  Oh yeah, it starts off like classic Waste, breaks into a very Maiden-like harmony, then breaks into a solo section with a rhythm that sounds like something right out of…a Megadeth album??  With a solo that sounds like it was played by Mustaine himself??  As of this writing I’m still not sure of whether or not Nick or Ryan played it.  But one of those two clearly did their homework.  It kind of reminded me of “Dialectic Chaos”, probably one of the ONLY tracks I liked on Endgame.  Fuck, even some of the riffs on the album closer, “Think Fast” sounded like latter day Megadeth at a certain point.

Slime And Punishment, to me, is everything we all love about Municipal Waste with a few great add-ons.  The album just shits frantic riffs played in a way only Ryan Waste can play them – but now with more of a crunch.   There are plenty of songs about humor, drinking, tons of debauchery, but now with even more energy than ever before!  The songs are all under three minutes and that’s actually fucking perfect.  Songs that sound like this would totally risk becoming stale if it went over that mark for sure.  Then again I’m personally a little biased for shorter songs more and more these days.  I blame it on my growing taste for Grindcore and Powerviolence bands.  But more so than that, the album can also be seen as a glimpse into the future for Municipal Waste.  If they stick to what they did here their next few records can proof without a shadow of a doubt that they still have yet to reach their full potential after all.  So was Slime And Punishment worth the five year wait?  You fuckin’ bet it was!

Key tracks: Breathe Grease, Enjoy The Night, Shrednecks, Parole Violators, Poison The Preacher, Under The Waste Command, Think Fast

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/4OjYHchQyvgOF2zAeGjyFh

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RPS Jersey Rumble May 20th, 2017

I gave myself a few higher expectation this time.  Yeah, it was only my second meet, but after a year of practically training for power and nothing else I decided the time had come for me to at least somewhat challenge myself.  Hell, in the year since my last meet my Squat had finally hit the 300’s and my Deadlift was just 15lbs away from hitting 400.  My Bench Press?  I really don’t want to even go there.  But I knew going into this meet that my shoulders were absolutely fucked, a result of carrying around a leather shoulder bag by the handle because the strap was broken and having a bunch of weight pulling on my joints.  To make matters just a bit worse, I was at a park with my students the day before this meet and one of them asked me to play catch with him.  Of course I couldn’t just tell him no.  The problem?  Throwing a football requires a tad more force – or power! – than a regular ball, especially if you want to throw a spiral.  So yeah, my throwing arm was now even more fucked.  Just great.  This fuckin’ kid is so lucky I like him.

So I arrived at the Ramada Plaza Hotel just a tad more focused…and even more anxious than last time!  See, I had planned my opening lifts maybe just a week in advance, not because I was procrastinating, but because I wanted to feel comfortable knowing I was going to least pull those off – especially with the squat.  If there’s one very important psychological tool I learned from Jim Wendler, it’s that you want to be able to just bang out your Squat opener.  If you do that you’re confidence will sky rocket, if not, your confidence as a whole might just do a nice, big nose dive.

I weighed in at 179.8lbs, which was fine since this was my first meet in the 181lb weight class along with the Raw Modern division (knee sleeves or wraps), managing to hit 180lbs not even a handful of times in the last few months alone.  Since we were as early as we were I had plenty of time to take since pictures, but not many because almost as soon as I walked into the ballroom I almost immediately ran into PJ Santa Teresa, who was competing in the 198lbs weight class and the Raw Classic division.  He also won first place last year.  I ran into Eric Chase a few minutes later and the three of us just got lost in all things Powerlifting for while, with me even educating PJ on the Doug Young won the 1977 IPF World Championships with three broken ribs.  In fact he might be the topic of my next post!  So anyway, because I got stuck talking to PJ and Eric for a while I found myself not taking too many pictures.  But I sure noticed some sick new trophies!

This shit right here is exactly why I’d kill to win just one trophy from this fed.  So fucking metal.  Seriously.

So I made sure that this time around all my lifts were filmed and you can see them all right here!

But for the actual story, I already knew in advance that I’d be going for a 330lb squat PR for my final lift so long as my first two attempts were successful, which they were.  Once again, C4 was my buddy because was nice and warmed up, and real fuckin’ jumpy.  So after hitting my first two attempts of 280lbs and 305lbs I’m starring at the monolift with full concentration.  Trying to channel Doug Young; what you can’t hear in the video above is that I’m so into shit now that I’m growling as if I was Doug himself…only his growl was WAY more terrifying!  You know what…I think I AM going to write about Doug next.  Anyway, I’m feeling stuck at the half way point, all it took was me screaming “UUUUPPP!!!” at the top of my lungs and I had all three green lights.  Quick fun fact:  Both of my second squat attempts from this year’s Rumble and last year’s only had two green lights.

My Bench Press attempts were where it all started to go to shit, making me feel like all my energy must’ve gone into squatting.  As I said earlier…my shoulders were in shit shape, so my opener and second attempt, both green lighted, were a measly 150 and 160.  After the second attempt I was in so much pain that I lower my third attempt from 180 to 170, fearing an injury over just not getting the lift.  Here’s where I think I should’ve used a wider grip width because my grip alone was not an issue, having finally fixed that issue not too long ago.  But either way, as soon as the bar hit my chest it wasn’t going back up.

I had a lot of time to kill before Deadlifts so I spent it eating salty snacks and drinking gatorade, taking in as much sodium as I could, since sodium retains water as well as helps to restore electrolytes.  I also took my other bottle of C4, ensuring I’d have the energy I’d need if I though I was going to pull 420lbs.  I made sure I was focused, even if the preworkout alone wasn’t hitting me like it did for squats.  So I opened with 355 and my second attempt was 385.  After I hit that number I somehow felt confident enough to request 420 as my final lift.  This would’ve brought my total into the low 900’s.  After about ten minutes my flight (or group) was called up for our final attempts.  Eric told me he was just going for 400lbs, which appalled me a bit because I know he had more in him…although I now wish I did the same.  Eric hit his number beautifully, and I was a few lifters behind.

It’s now my turn, standing behind the bar, ammonia cap under my nose for extra stimulation, mid chest length hair down like I’m Dan Green or some shit.  I’m nervous and excited at the same time as I take a deep breath and manage to just rip the fuckin’ bar right off the ground.  But at the halfway point I got stuck and couldn’t lock out.  At all.  It was so bad I even dropped the bar, which you’re not supposed to do.  I’m now FURIOUS.  Slamming down my Inzer Forever Belt, all I wanted to do was throw shit everywhere.  After taking two minutes to kind of calm down I asked my girlfriend to show me the video.  And there it was – my hips went up way too early.  I was fucked from the beginning!  Was I that nervous that I wasn’t focusing on my body movements?  Most likely.  So now my total was going to be 875.

After my flight PJ went on to deadlift 550lbs for his second attempt and it was fucking FLAWLESS.

That look on his face at the end gets me every time.  He tried to go for 600lbs after this; he was just about to lock out when he BLACKED out instead, falling face first in front of the judge’s feet.  Rising blood pressure is a bitch.  He still managed to win 3rd place, by the way.

I plan on going back to the gym next Sunday and I’m going to start using Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Boring But Big template, which is essential a Powerbuilding program.  I think it’s time for me to focus more on muscle mass for a bit, especially in regards to my chest and shoulders.  I’m also considering trying the Sumo Deadlift stance to reduce my range of motion and take some stress off my lower back and put it on my quads.

My stats for Jersey Rumble 2017:

Squat: 280, 305, 330 (PR) 3/3

Bench Press: 150, 160, failed with 170 2/3

Deadlift: 355, 385, failed with 420 2/3

Total: 875

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                         Left to right: PJ Santa Teresa, Eric Chase, Angry Metalhead

Chris Cornell And The REAL Death Of Grunge

As I write this today, it’s probably been a few hours now since the funeral for Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who literally shocked the shit out of everyone by hanging himself with a resistance band in his Detroit hotel just hours after he got off stage with the band.  How the fuck could Chris Cornell do this to himself, and why??  To everyone he seemed like the LAST person to be tempted to do such a thing.  A lot of things have been coming to light since the news passed, such as the fact that he’d apparently been taking the anti-anxiety drug Ativan.  One of the things that triggered Chris’s wife to called security on him in the first place was that, according to her, Chris sounded very slurred on the phone.  One side effect of a benzo such as Ativan is a drowsiness that happens to last for a long time.

But there clearly was no fucking way that Ativan alone could cause anyone to just say “fuck it” and hang themselves.  As I discovered the aspects of his horrid childhood in preparation for writing this post, including becoming a full blown junkie at just 13, having full access to heroin and prescription pills, we all discovered yesterday that there were visible signs of fresh track marks on his arms.  If he just relapsed recently it had to be while on the road, and therefore there could be no way his wife would’ve known.  Even creepier, in a way, is that during their set closer, “Slaves and Bulldozers”, Chris slickly slipped in lines from Led Zeppelin’s classic “In My Time Of Dying”.  No shit.  Here’s the proof:

Yeah, I’m sure him requesting to the band to actually play the actual song would’ve clearly raised a few eyebrows.  Lets face it, he probably knew what he was going to do.  But I’m not writing about this to discuss the details of his death, or his apparent life long struggle with drugs and depression.  You can clearly find that anywhere else.  I’m here to write about Chris Cornell the ICON.  Because like it or not, depending on who you ask he was probably more of an icon in music than that little bitch Cobain EVER was.  Why?  Because he literally was one of the originals.

There sadly is a lot of historical significance to his death, that can easily be compared to the day Soundgarden originally broke up a little more than twenty years ago.  Again, depending on whose opinion you ask for, especially the mainstream media shitheads, Grunge died when Cobain offed himself in 1994, causing record labels everywhere to find as many copycats as they could, or face the unnecessary fear of losing money quicker than Wall Street on Black Monday.  But ask anyone else, and they’ll most likely say that Grunge died the day Soundgarden called it quits because they were one of just two bands remaining from the original six band from Seattle to not just manage to stay together, but actually find success.

Long before Shitvana was even a thought Soundgarden was formed by Cornell, Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto in Seattle in 1984.  In 1986 the band were featured on a compilation called Deep Six.  The first release by C/Z Records, it showcase the burgeoning Seattle sound featuring multiple songs from them, The Melvins, Skin Yard, Green River, Malfunkshun, and The U-Men.  While Chris’ immense vocal talents were not yet fully developed, you can clearly hear signs of things to come on this original version of “All Your Lies”, which was later re-recorded for their SST Records debut album, Ultramega OK.

Before I go any further I need to make something clear.  I truly feel now, as an older man of 33, that the term Grunge itself was blown out of proportion too much.  I understand the according to musical standards Grunge is supposed to be the combination of Punk and Metal, with each band leaning toward either genre over the other.  But I honestly feel like Grunge was just a scene, not a musical style.  Hell, just listen to any of the Big Four: Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Perl Jam.  Fuck the visions of flannel and stories of rampant heroin use among all of them – did ANY of them truly SOUND alike??  If you’re smart then you don’t need me to tell you that the answer is hell fuck no!  Especially in the case of Soundgarden and Alice!

But in the history books, it was Soundgarden who was the first Seattle band from that scene to be signed​ to a major label before any of them.  And while most people clearly weren’t ready for them just yet, it was clear that Cornell was a GOD on the mic, lending to a sound that was easily comparable to Robert Plant fronting Black Sabbath.

For example!

Did you hear that beginning scream blending in beautifully with Kim Thayil’s guitar feedback??  Just tell me that wasn’t EPIC as fuck!!  There are many Soundgarden/Grunge purists who favor Louder Than Love over the later albums, and it’s easy to see why.  But…they clearly didn’t listen to him, as Henry Rollins said in 2000, “peel the paint off walls!” during the song “Jesus Christ Pose” off their 1991 breakthrough album, Badmotorfinger.  Go straight to the 5:13 mark to here the wail of a GOD.

That’s the other most important quality of Soundgarden and especially Chris.  Dave Navarro just yesterday stated that the band were one of the rare few bands of the late 80’s to come out that had both talent AND substance.  The substance?  Chris’s lyrics.  The song “Jesus Christ Pose” is clearly a song about religious hypocrisy, as he sang:

And you stare at me
In your Jesus Christ pose
Arms held out
Like you’ve been carrying a load
And you swear to me
You don’t want to be my slave

But you’re staring at me
Like I, like I need to be saved
Saved, like I need to be saved
Saved

It was lyrics like these that made Soundgarden the thinking man’s metal band in the early 90’s.  But it didn’t end there.  Take this little sample from the song “4th of July” off their 1994 masterpiece, Superunknown:

Pale in the flare light
The scared light cracks and disappears
And leads the scorched ones here
And everywhere no one cares
The fire is spreading
And no one wants to speak about it
Down in the hole
Jesus tries to crack a smile
Beneath another shovel load

I know even Layne Staley or Jerry Cantrell couldn’t even think of lyrics like that.  Add the sludgy riffs and it sounds like a song not even a band like Crowbar could come up with!

This right here is pure Sabbath worship!

That’s what made someone like Chris Cornell a true icon of the Seattle scene, the so-called Grunge scene.  He was THE total package.  He had the talent, the substance, the deep thoughts.  His vocal talents alone were a legitimate RARITY in rock music, with a powerful wail that rivaled ANYONE’s singing during the 90’s.  His lyrics were thoughtful, his riffs could absolutely crush you, they could be so dreamy, and he could even weld them together seamlessly and it’d all make total sense.  Here’s one of my favorite tracks off Superunknown, called “Limowreck”, as an example.

It’s a shame that it took this album and the single “Blackhole Sun”(which I’m blatantly staying away from here) for Soundgarden to finally get the recognition they deserved, ten years after they formed and long after everybody that came along AFTER them got recognition.  This is actually important because Superunknown was released just a month before Cobain died, signaling the beginning of the slow death of what had become a trend so big that flannel was even being worn at fashion shows and sold at even Macy’s.  If you’re old enough to remember seeing the “Gen X” section in Macy’s then congratulations – you’re old!

As said earlier, a sizeable number will tell you Grunge died the day Soundgarden broke up in the spring of 1997.  They were one of the two original surviving bands from the Deep Six era, the other being The Melvins (Thank King Buzzo for introducing Chris and Kim to Drop D tuning).  So while it was a major shock when Soundgarden got back together in 2010, after Chris did several albums with Audioslave (Chris with the jerkoffs from Rage Against The Machine) and an abortion of a solo album with Timbaland, his sudden death is now of even more historical significance than ever.  Yeah, this is beyond tragic and my thoughts go out to Chris’s family.  But from a musical standpoint, we all can sadly say now that if you were to give Grunge a real death date it would be May 18th, 2017, as this so far is the ultimate Heavy Metal tragedy of the year unless something far worse happens.

Rest In Peace Chris Cornell

July 20th, 1964 – May 18th, 2017

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The Bottle Flip “Challenge” And Other Stupid Trends

Another long, annoying, demeaning year with New York City Department of Education is coming to a close – and not soon enough!  But if there’s one thing I can say without even thinking about it, and this is something I already said to few friends at work, it’s that if there’s one thing that will stand out to me about this past year, it’s this stupid shit.  I apologize in advance for not being able to find any clips under three mintues:

No shit.  This is an actual fad right now and has been since probably before I went back to work.  I remember seeing my idiot seventh graders throwing bottles up in the air in excitement during their recess on day one in September and wondering out loud if these dumb little shits seriously had nothing better to do over the summer but to throw around bottles and see if it lands on either end.

And for the longest time I never understood the point, being left to just assume they all lacked the common sense required to just leave their homes during the day and go hit the basketball courts.  Oh sure, some of my kids explained to me at one point that the game is a “challenge”, but I still didn’t get it.  That is until last night.  I wanted to finally know how this seemingly global “phenomenon”/nuisance to all school teachers everywhere started.  Then I found this link to the video that started it all:

http://fusion.kinja.com/a-teen-flipping-a-water-bottle-may-have-just-created-th-1793857082

Why the fuck wasn’t it obvious to me before??  Of course it was invented by some fuckin’ redneck down south – what the hell is there to do down there anyway?  So, some redneck throws a fucking water bottle on to a desk at a talent show and suddenly it’s now being down in schools EVERYWHERE.  Not only that: I was waiting for my girlfriend to run in the Central Park Spring Classic recently and while waiting I actually saw a GROWN ASS MAN flipping a bottle right in front of me.  Pathetic.   Hell, just look at the bottom video in the above link.  This has actually become outlawed in most schools…unless the school in question is mine because my administration is absolutely SPINELESS.  But that’s a different story.

So in the last nine months I’ve have numerous confrontations with students, sometimes my own, sometimes other kids in the cafeteria, who wouldn’t think twice about attempting to flip bottles onto high windows in our auditorium, flipping them in the cafeteria and then absolutely refusing to clean up their mess when the bottle opened up, flipping them in class – I’m talking right in front of their teachers.  Oh here’s my favorite; sometime in December our kids were getting ready to go downstairs to lunch when five of them began running down the stairs in a stampede while screaming so fuckin’ loud.  The other witness aside from me?  Our principal.  Not embarrassing at all.

We got them back up and, while at least four of them were smart enough to own up to their fuckups, they explained to us that they threw a bottle down a flight of steps to see how it would land and THAT was what set them off.  This is literally the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen.  The fifth boy, who I actually do get along with very well these days, has definitely developed an addiction of sorts.  If he’s not flipping a bottle he’s taking markers in his math class and he’s flipping those too!  Nothing is sacred – even pencils and pens!

How did it get to this point?  Now, history has shown that kids have always had that one fad toy or object that they had no business taking with them to school or it’d get taken away…but then again, while I do work in the ghetto, I did grow up in the suburbs.  I’m a child of the nineties, where most of the kids had those gay as fuck Tamagotchi’s (this was a legit digital pet that was released just in time for Black Friday in 1996; you actually had to feed it, and it would even die if you didn’t take care of it) and POGs.  I loved POGs.

Image result for batman pogs

If you remember these then congratulations, you’re old.  There were many, many different types of POGs.  I simply chose to use this picture because if memory serves me right then I actually had this set in the fifth grade.  Now this game was fun.  Every pack of POGs had a nice, thick slammer to go with it.  We would stack up as all of our POGs and hit them with the slammer, watching the POGs scatter.  The player who’d slam them would keep whatever POGs were face-up, and each player would continue until  the stack was empty, the winner obviously having the most POGs.  But the difference between us and these kids today is that, as far as I remember, we weren’t stupid enough to play with our POGs IN CLASS where we’d clearly be seen as several milk cap sized pieces of cardboard go fuckin’ flying across the room.  So, like fifth graders with common sense (GASP!), we simply waited until we got into the yard for recess.  What a fuckin’ concept!

Now, I clearly don’t know how other schools or school systems nationwide are handling this situation but in NYC there are so many laws that were not in place twenty years ago regarding how we can approach children and I feel like such a target that I feel that if I just take the fucking bottle certain kids would do everything in their power to fuck me over.  Problem is these kids definitely know their rights, courtesy of their enabling parents.  And they’re very lucky because I’d totally love to shove those bottles down their fucking throats.

Honorable Mention goes to those so-called fidget spinners that nearly everyone in my school now plays with – in class.  When I asked a few kids for an explanation for their playing with them in class one boy told me “they help with anxiety”.  I had to call bullshit, considering that there was not one anxious kid in that particular group.  None of them know what anxiety is.  Upon doing research I read that they alleged help students hold their attention in class but I unfortunately don’t buy that shit one bit because in class I watch some of them just get lost with them.

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Darkthrone Or Metallica: Which Training Are You? By Jim Wendler

Here’s my first blog of the year.  Haven’t been free to write sooner.  So if you follow me on Instagran @confessionsofanangrymetalhead you’ll most likely also see the hashtag #jimwendlerisgod underneath most of my lifting related posts.  Well, he is; and here’s one of many reasons why!

Underneath this is the link to a blog piece I just discovered on his website which pretty much sums of his training philosophy along with that of most real lifters using two very extremely different musical styles.  So click down below, read, enjoy, and ask yourself this: Are you real?  Or are you just a phony?

https://jimwendler.com/blogs/jimwendler-com/101066310-darkthrone-or-metallica-which-training-are-you

Quick Powerlifting Update

REvPS

I recently signed up for my second powerlifting competition, The RPS Jersey Rumble, happening on Saturday, May 20th at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Newark, NJ.  Unlike last year, where I competed in the 198lb weight class I’ll be in the 181lb class this time, since I dropped down to 172lbs since last May.  I’m still undecided on all my lifts.  I’m pretty sure I’m going for a 400lbs Deadlift.  I’ll either go for a 300lbs squat or I’ll go a bit higher.  My Bench Press?  QDisgraceful.  I might keep that real low.

I hope to start recording my meet prep soon.  It’s been so hard because while my new gym is surprisingly really good there are nights were it’s just so fucking overcrowded with college kids.  Fuck, I had to foam roll by the outside locker area just two nights ago because the entire designated stretching area was crowded.  A stretching area!  Oh yeah, since I last wrote in here I had to leave Sports Club because they increased my monthly payments without warning me.  Unacceptable.  I’m now at Blink Fitness, which surprising has five Hammer Strength power racks and Olympic bars with knurling so deep and juicy, as one of my Instagram followers put it, that it WILL rip up your shins during deadlifts and WILL rip the skin off your hands if your grip isn’t there.  I just wish it wasn’t so crowded at night!

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