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.

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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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The Case For Abbreviated Training

The following is my first ever article for Bodybuilding.com, written today.  It was approved by the moderators not too long ago, hopefully it’s good enough to be published.  But you can read it here and judge for yourself:

I was first introduced to the idea of abbreviated training in 2009, when a trainer at my former gym told me about a book entitled Brawn. Originally released in 1991, it’s author, Stuart McRobert wrote in extensive detail about the important of shorter training in comparison to the routines found in magazines during the time of the book’s release. McRobert stressed that the average Joe couldn’t possibly get big or strong on a pro bodybuilder’s routine, but they could totally benefit by going back to the basics.

Let me clarify something first, the average Joe is not just a non-competitive bodybuilder. It’s someone like you and me, who works a day job five days out of the week and goes to home to multiple responsibilities. Some of you work more than one job, some of you have young children at home, and then there are other responsibilities that naturally hinder us from being able to just go to the gym and do multiple exercises in the course of four, five or even six days a week.

I can actually relate to this now more than ever as someone who recently competed in his first Powerlifting meet. I live in New Jersey but I work in Brooklyn, NY so it takes me a good hour an a half to get to and get home from work. Once I’m home I still have to prepare dinner, get ready for the next day, do things around the house, etc.

My current program, Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 for Powerlifting, calls for three or four day a week training; so what I decided to do was take the four day a week template and alternate it into a three day per week schedule in order to fit my daily needs as well as give myself time to recover from the previous workouts. That was a very important first step for me. The next thing I did for sake of shortening my training was reducing the amount of exercises I needed to do per training day.

This can especially benefit powerlifters. Are we training for looks come competition time or are we training to improve on the big three moves, Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift? If you chose the latter then keep reading! There are plenty of great powerlifting routines out there but if you’re like me and your trying to save time are you really going to waste your time training your secondary muscles? Sure, having thick lats can be beneficial, but are they what you’re using when you Deadlift? Fat chance! You need the power of those hamstrings and your glutes to help you bring that bar up. Same thing applies for Bench Presses. Once again referring to the lats, do they help you push the bar off your chest to the ceiling or do you need a thick chest along with strong triceps and shoulders to help you do the work?

So what’s the point of all of this? Because I’m strapped for time ten months out of the year I need to train in a way that’s practical and in order to do that I stripped my training of anything I found was unnecessary in helping to improve my functionality in the main lifts. In doing this I shortened my training dramatically and I still get results. Here’s an example of the way I currently train using just my working sets:

Day 1:
Overhead Press – 3 x 5/3/1
Barbell Curl – 3 x 10
Tricep Dips – 3 x 10

Day 2:
Deadlift – 3 x 5/3/1
Leg Curls – 3 x 10

Day 3:
Bench Press – 3 x 5/3/1
Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 x 10
Chest Dips – 3 x 10

Day 4:
Squats – 3 x 5/3/1
Leg Press – 3 x 10

Upon reading this you might notice that I split the assistance leg work to two different days. I chose to do that purposely based on which assistance work helps with certain lifts. If I’m squatting then I’d rather just stick with Leg Presses to help me build muscle in my quads, just as I’d rather do Leg Curls on Deadlift days to strengthen my hamstrings. Therefore I have two strictly upper body days and two strictly lower body days, all even arranged as to save time and give me more bang for my buck.

But this is just how I train, for the most part. It might be different for all of you. All I did was take a preset template and removed what I felt was wasting time, because time is money, of which I usually have none. So here’s something to think about in the future if you happen to fall in this category, because it’s amazing to see that the saying “less is more” actually fits here. So if you’re strapped for time and still want to train, get rid of the excuses and make a plan of action today!

Mike is an amateur powerlifter hoping to enter his second competition in the near future.

You can also check out the original article here if you want:

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=172409253

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!

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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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R.I.P. New York City…or Why I’m Glad I Got Out!

This is actually going to be full article based on a random thought I wrote about just last year, regarding the decline of New York City’s diversity and character because let’s face it…it’s just gotten worse and will continue to do so.

So it all started just two nights ago, when I came across this article:

http://ny.curbed.com/2016/8/12/12452636/target-east-village-opening-date

Wait…what the fuck?  A new, two floor Target in the East Village?  With a 30-year lease on the building?!  First off, I’m a bit biased here because I used to work at Target but…ew!  Also…why?  Why Target and why in the East Fucking Village??  Then, I reminded myself of exactly why: money talk$.

I wrote a year ago that many of the places I used to know were going away at a pretty steady pace, especially at my old haunts, specifically St. Mark’s Place, which I had said was at least hanging on a thread so long as Sounds was still around, even if it was open just three days a week by that point, if anything for the sake of posture.  Whoops!  Not too long after I wrote that piece Sounds finally did close down for good, signaling THE end of the more culturally diverse St. Mark’s Place I used to know once and for all.  Why?  Because who the fuck can afford these fucking rent hikes?  Oh wait…chain stores can!

Oh, I can go on and on about when I first noticed this change, and how it changed the entire landscape of Manhattan alone – don’t even get me started with Brooklyn!  But instead I’m going to rant about who we can all blame for this and if you live or used to live anywhere in New York City (like me) you already know why: yuppies and especially hipsters.  The hipsters started fucking everything up when they came to Williamsburg, Brooklyn from whatever bumfuck towns/states they grew up in during the late 90’s/early 2000’s with their daddys’ checkbooks in search of somewhere cheap as hell.  In just a few years time a once extremely dangerous part of Brooklyn now had hipster themed bars and vintage record shops on almost every street corner.  And not only that, rent was now fucking sky high.  I was an intern for a music marketing firm in Manhattan in 2007 and a considerable portion of the hipster fuckheads I worked with lived in “Billyburg”.  The only way they could be living there was if their parents were paying the rent because I can tell you right now they sure as fuck weren’t making even remotely decent salaries at this particular firm.  I’d look for apartments in Brooklyn on craigslist and some of these prices were retarded.  $2000 for a studio off of Bedford Ave?  Really?  But if you want to know how I truly feel about hipsters just watch this amazing clip from The Gentlemen’s Rant.  Skip to the 1:50 mark for my favorite part!

This was just the beginning, of course.  Soon, the resulting trickle down effect happened: Manhattan followed suit.  The hipsters lived in Williamsburg in order to be as close to Manhattan as possible so before anyone knew it any area near the Williamsburg Bridge, especially the Lower East Side, started changing at that steady paced I mentioned before to cater to these motherfuckers.  The trickle down effect here?  Long standing Mom and Pop stores began to close shop to be replaced by some really strange fucking things.

This also spread, of course, throughout most of Manhattan, not just the Lower East Side.  Old buildings were being knocked down to make room for high rise condos that I know I sure can’t afford.  Here’s a quick story.  My dad’s been in real estate since 2005, having gotten his real estate license from NYU in 1988, and he was responsible for one of these buildings in the Lower East Side being knocked down in 2007.  He told me that while on site a girl came up to him asking him to please sign her petition to stop these developers from knocking the building down, obviously having no idea she was talking to the very person behind the whole thing.  Oops!

To some of you reading this I risk coming off as yelling at yuppies and hipsters to get off my lawn like a bitter old man.  You’d be wrong.  Yeah, I hate yuppies and REALLY hate hipsters.  But my big problem is that because of them, and more specifically about their lack of history, having not grown up in the city like I did, they appear to truly lack any appreciation for the charm New York City once had.  It was once such a diverse city.  I don’t just mean for the reputation of it’s many areas – not just the parts I mentioned – but because you could go into any street corner and find something completely random and enjoyable.  Hell, twelve years ago I could just turn to W 48th St in the tourist trap that is Times Square and I’d just happen to find the once infamous Music Row.  You’re reading correctly, there was once an entire block of just music instrument stores.  Several Sam Ash buildings, each one dedicated to specific instruments, Rudy’s, the world famous Manny’s Music, just to name a few.

Oh, here’s my favorite.  A 111 year old art supply store right around the corner from Webster Hall is being forced out of business because the building was sold to some jerkoff who plans to make the building into a hotel geared toward…millennials??  What the fuck does that require exactly that a piece of HISTORY is being forced to close down for this?  Someone please tell me.  What exactly makes millennials so fucking special?  Is it the computer thing??  Since the age range for millennials is between 1982 and 2002 I guess I’d be considered a millennial on paper, being that I was born in 1984.  But I’m no millennial because just about anyone born in the 80’s knew how to survive without cellphones and computers.  Ask the kids today when they last experienced a fleeting, random moment.  You’d probably hear crickets for a long time because that’s how often their heads are down at their smartphones they honestly have NO BUSINESS carrying around at twelve years old.

So here’s my main point to all of this.  Gentrification my ass!  If I wanted to go to an outdoor strip mall I’d go to probably any other city…or an outdoor strip mall.  I used to live in a city that had a very special charm to it, one that was different, one with so much diversity and excitement, one with character.  These were the things that made it The Greatest City In The World, because it’s not that anymore, not when I see Subway restaurants on nearly every street corner and increasingly more homeless people on the streets because they were evicted for their inability to pay their rents.  If you’re reading this and are as disgusted with what’s become of it all like I was, do yourself a favor and get out while you still can…like I did, because it’s no longer just the East Village that’s dead – all of New York City is!

There are times now where I drive on Route 3 E and if I catch it around sunset I get a gorgeous view of the city from afar.  But every time come across this brilliant view I sadly can’t help but always think to myself the same thing over and over again: “New York City…beautiful to look at…ugly to live in…”

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