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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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?

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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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Album Of The Year

C’mon…if you’ve been reading my blog for the past several months then my first ever pick for Album Of The Year should’ve been PAINFULLY obvious.  I was a fan of Nails for months before it was even released, but it was upon the June 17th 2016 release of their grindcore masterpiece, You Will Never Be One Of Us, that they – especially guitarist/vocalist Todd Jones – became absolute GODS.  And if you’ve never heard anything off this beautiful shitstorm of an album here’s a quick taste.  No really, it’s only a minute and a half long!

Yeah, exactly.

So, for those of you new to this blog, why did I pick You Will Never Be One Of Us?  Surely, I could’ve picked any number of albums; Crowbar and Meshuggah – two of the heaviest bands on the fucking planet – both released two really badass albums.  Gatecreeper released a new album around the same time and one of my YouTube subscribers just declared the new Blood Incantation album is his own pick of the year.

nailsterrorizer

There’s reason number one right there.  Not sure how many grindcore bands make it to the cover of a magazine like Terrorizer.  We can also discuss the fact that You Will Never Be One Of Us was somehow able to reach #129 on the Billboard Charts among it’s release.  I don’t know about you but I personally don’t know of any of grindcore or powerviolence style bands that can hit that kind of a milestone.  Fuck, before they went on hiatus without warning over the summer their tour schedule was to be significantly bigger than it had ever been, including a spot on the Ozzfest 20th anniversary card.  That’s HUGE for a band like Nails!  They’re about to make a comeback in just a few days at The Power Of The Riff Festival, they just released a 12″ split with Full Of Hell eight days ago and now have more dates planned for next year with Gatecreeper, including stops in Philly and at Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, NY.  Needless to say 2016 was Nails’ year.

It’s easy to assume that You Will Never Be One Of Us is on ANY album of the year list due to hype…but why was there so much hype?  Easy.  Because throughout the record you can feel Todd Jones’ anger, his hatred against those trying to make a living off something his kind have worked so hard to put together only to be working a full time job (although he seems to prefer that), against society…against the fucking world.  His vocal delivery alone here was a major change from 2013’s Abandon All Life.  Gone was the high pitched scream and in it’s place Todd found his true voice, one of slobbering anger, growling and screaming like a lunatic in a straitjacket, wanting to get out and just murder you.  There’s no way you can listen to it and tell me that it isn’t genuine either.  And that’s why this is my first album of the year pick…it’s real.

This will be my last post for the year, the next few weeks will be busy.  But be sure to follow me on facebook and Instagram.  My IG handle is @confessionsofanangrymetalhead

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Sorrow Plagues – Self Titled

For my latest underground review I was recently approached by one man black metal band Sorrow Plagues from the UK on my Instagram account about reviewing it’s debut self titled album.  While this kind of Black Metal is not really what I’m looking for, I was taken back by the song structures on some of these tracks – although I do have one major complaint.

“Fade” opens the album up, kicking in right away.  Upon first listen it almost sounds like your usual symphonic black metal.  You know type, the lush keyboard arrangements, the blast beats that may never end.  But as the song progresses it becomes more than that.  From an atmospheric standpoint this will undoubtedly come off more like Bathory’s landmark Sign Under The Black Mark than Emperor’s Into The Nightside Eclipse.  It’s all about the aura and everything else is literally just a soft bed for the vibe.

Upon hearing the piano piece that opens up “Aspirations” I was very surprised to hear what sounded like the drums being played far away.  It’s that effect you might hear in other styles of music, maybe pop music, or even dubstep – but not Black Metal!  So I’m taking points off for that alone.  Remember, I’m not the biggest fan of this style of Black Metal, so while I’m in fact listening to this with an open mind I’m still a bit biased.

In fact, you hear it again in the intro to the next track, “Awaken”.  In fact, I wondered for a bit if it would evolve into something else at all.  And, while it did, there’s one thing I have to give credit for and it’s that for once I’m not really sure what emotion I’m supposed to feel.  It all feels a bit cinematic for me.

As I get to “Twilight” I realize that most of these tracks are just as piano based as they are atmospheric.  With “Twilight”thing also begin to get a bit heavier again.  But just as I think things can’t get any more experimental, the fuzzy guitars that open up “Surrender” sound very…happy.  Very unusual for most Black Metal, as most songs are almost never NOT written in all minor keys.  “surrender” also features one of the albums most luscious arrangements, including a calming piano break that lasts a good two minutes before it all comes crashing down again.  Again, very cinematic.

Do yourselves a favor and get comfortable before listening to “Redemption”, the album’s 10-plus minute closer.  Sorrow Plagues really like their pretty passages because that opening guitar line just twinkles.  From there it builds up nice and slow, until it becomes something that’s more worthy of being an 80’s-era arena rock song than a Black Metal song – all while still hearing that twinkling guitar the entire time.  But this track in particular is reminder of the big problem I have with Sorrow Plagues’ debut album.  It really is nicely done.  It’s very well written and arrangement, such a ballsy experimental piece, very ambitious.  I understand that the guitars in Black Metal are not really supposed to be so loud in the mix but the least that could’ve been done was to bring up the vocals much more because I can barely hear anything!  And by the way, yeah, the guitar could have been mixed at least a little bit louder.

Here’s the link to Sorrow Plagues’ Bandcamp site:

http://sorrowplagues.bandcamp.com/album/sorrow-plagues

Thanks to Sorrow Plague for contacting me.  Be sure to check out the site, more reviews to come soon.

Random Thoughts

Gym Rants

If it wasn’t for the fact that I want to become a personal trainer and wasn’t contracted to New York Sports Club I’d most likely try to find another gym.  I don’t hate my gym but I’d really like to train somewhere that’s more geared toward my goals because let’s face it, a commercial gym doesn’t cater to Powerlifters or anyone strength training related.  Hell, there’s only one power rack for squatting and just one deadlift platform – I do admit it’s a miracle they even have on.  But sometimes it’s being used just as you’re about to use it and sometimes it’s for some real stupid shit.

On the night I was to Deadlift 315 for the first time ever back in February I found someone was occupying the platform doing a stupid Crossfit routine.  What was it?  Ten sets of twenty Clean-And-Jerks followed by “jump rope”.  Noticed the word jump rope was quoted?  That’s because there was no jump rope; instead this guy was jumping up and down looking like he was jerking off two dicks!

My most recent favorite, which I ranted about on my facebook page, was the guy doing Front Squats with a fucking BOSU ball.  First off, if he’s going to be wearing the wrong shoes – by which I mean sneakers – he better hope I’m not there when he tips over because I’m going to laugh so hard.  Also, if you’re front squatting with a BOSU ball you should return your man card and go make that appointment for your sex change now.  Hell, yesterday.

I finally ordered a 10mm Inzer Forever Belt in black on Saturday.  I hope to get it before my next deadlift day.

New Nails (??????)

So Nails cancels all their shows over the summer without any explanation and we hear nothing for two months…and then I was told a few days ago by one of my YouTube subscribers that it was announced the Nails and Full Of Hell are releasing a 7″ split???Don’t get me wrong, I’m fucking stoked about this – that’s going to be some nasty fucking shit!  But dude, what the fuck?  I wrote about how confused I am on facebook because we had no idea if the band were back or what and when I reposted it on my new Instagram account I received this funny little response from Closed Casket Activities, the label releasing the spilt:

funny

Funny guys.  Then I saw this today on Metal Injection:

NAILS To Play THE POWER OF THE RIFF Festival In December

If one thing’s for sure, they’re right about one thing: You Will Never Know What’s Going On.

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Operation Domination – live at The Studio At Webster Hall August 31st, 2016

Funny isn’t it?  Just one night after I published a scathing piece on why I basically would like to see New York City burn to the ground…I’m back in New York City.  But at least it was for something awesome; I was there to see Angel Vivaldi and Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G on their Operation Domination Tour at The Studio At Webster Hall.  Angel is on the heels of re-releasing his 2010, EP The Speed Of Dark, with it’s tracks being completely re-recorded with his current band, and Gus recently released his latest solo album, I Am The Fire, a more straight forward album compared to what he does with Firewind.  Also, I guess he needs to keep himself busy until Ozzy comes calling to do his next excuse of an album.  Hey, just maybe Ozzy will actually let Gus write material for it this time.  That’s a maybe.  If you follow me on facebook then you already know how I feel about Ozzy’s plans to record after Black Sabbath’s last show.  But if you don’t…I’d rather Ozzy just call it a day, he hasn’t made anything meaningful in decades and the ONLY reason I even bought Black Rain in 2007 was because Zakk Wylde wrote eight of the album’s ten tracks.  So Ozzy…if you ever see this…you were great when I saw you with Sabbath at the Garden.  Do yourself a big favor and just go on a high note like Tony Iommi is doing.

Webster Hall is right around the corner from the 111 year old art store that’s being forced to close so the Marriot can make it into a hotel aimed at millennials.  So yeah I did go check it out before I went inside.  Someone was talking to the owner, who clearly looked distressed.  Then again his family ran the place for three generations.

There are two rooms in Webster Hall: The Marlin Room, which is the main room for popular acts, stupid raves and 80’s prom bullshit and, once upon a time, WWF Shotgun Saturday Night.  Let’s see who remembers that one!  And then there’s The Studio, which is essentially a small bar with a good size stage.  Gus and Angel were to play The Studio…I guess the guys running Webster Hall decided that some shitty rave was more important that a fucking YouTube sensation and Ozzy’s guitarist, right?

Angel went on stage and just blew everybody the fuck away.IMG_20160831_203439988

IMG_20160831_203356832

IMG_20160831_205011947.jpg

Showoff!

IMG_20160831_203409008

Alex fuckin’ Bent!

I actually met Alex when he was opening up for Crowbar with Battlecross last year at Saint Vitus In Brooklyn.  Really cool kid…incredible drummer.  On this tour he’s actually doing double duty, playing with both Angel and Gus.  Here’s a picture I took of us outside Saint Vitus last year.

IMG_20150629_195345_870

I wanted to talk to him and praise the hell out of him but before the show ended I found myself bailing out early because my knees were in excruciating pain – having flat feet is a real bitch.

Angel’s Setlist

An Angel’s Poem On A Grave

An Erisian Autumn

._ _ _ _

A Mercurian Summer

. . . . _

Acid Reign

Guitar Solo

Sea Of Heartbreak

Crystal Planet (Joe Satriani Cover)

A Martian Winter

Gus G?  Loud as fuck!  So loud that a few songs into his set I had no choice but to go to the back, where my girlfriend was…because she already knew better.  Oh yeah, the guy’s an incredible player, real easy to see why he got the gig with Ozzy.  His whole band – which included Alex and Jake, Angel’s bassist, sounded fan-fucking-tastic.  But I had one complaint:

IMG_20160831_212703030

Dude…you don’t have to play “Crazy Train” just because you’re in Ozzy’s band bro.  Hell, most people there for you were actually Firewind fans.

In fact the band did play two Firewind songs d I have to say I was kind of impressed.  I hate Power Metal with a passion but Gus’s playing was so muscular – very similar to Zakk – that it gave the songs some BALLS.

As I said before…I left after the “Crazy Train” cover because my knee were in pain.  But I know for a fact that I missed Angel join Gus on stage for what was probably a really sick jam out.

Gus’s Setlist

Burn

Brand New Revolution

Vengeance (instrumental)

Eyes Wide Open

Come Hell Or High Water

World On Fire (Firewind)

The Quest

Terrified

Redemption

I Am The Fire

Crazy Train (Ozzy)

Fire And The Fury (Firewind)

G.O.T

 

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