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

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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

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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.

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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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Giving The Devil His Good Name Back – The Metal Mike Show, September 9th 2004

In my very first post here I briefly mentioned that I used to DJ for my college radio station.  Hell, that show, without question is the precursor to this blog because it gradually became my first platform to just talk shit AND not get in trouble for it.  But that’s a story for another time because how I got this fucking show so easily requires a bit of a back story anyway.  Oh, by the way, I won’t be mentioning which station it is because I don’t feel like giving anyone any undeserved attention.

So, I decided to give my station a shot in April, 2004, thinking I wanted to be a DJ.  I liked the idea of being able to play music and not be seen.  To this day it’s amazing how UGLY some of the top DJ’s in the country really are.  But since they sound great who the fuck cares?  I went through two meetings, one with the personnel director and the second with the station’s chief engineer…part super genius…part angry, bitter, and an all around asshole.  If Gregory House was a real person he’d be this guy! What made me laugh inside was in despite only being in his mid-30’s, the combination of his skullet and his awful 70’s looking moustache made this fucker look like an ex-member of the Doobie Brothers.

If I’m not mistaken I took the test a good week later and passed with just two wrong answers.  I originally chose to join the Music Department because that meant I could review records for play as well as maybe even dictate what got played at all, the first CD I ever reviewed being Black Label Society’s low key masterpiece, Hangover Music, Vol.6, which I was also able to burn and leave at the station while I took the original copy home.   But long story short the director at the time let no one do anything with her, frustrating me, so I joined the Engineering Department.  I had wanted to join Production but, at the time, it was mandated that you couldn’t do shit in production unless you knew how to run the board properly.

Some time goes by, the middle of summer arrives, and I was approached by the newly appointed engineering director about being his assistant.  Why?  Neither he or anyone else wanted the only other person around to be involved because that’s how lowly they all thought of him.  We’re talking a really nice guy too.  And there you have it, proof that even college radio isn’t clean of slimy politics!  So, from then on until I left for good in early 2007 I was the Assistant Engineering Director of my station.  But of course there was something else I wanted, and part of the process I didn’t even have to go through.

While I had applied for a show to start in the fall semester, I didn’t have to make an audition tape, and all because I was an engineer.  In other words, I already knew how to operate the board.  Before I was told that was even getting my first show I was approached by another DJ from the Production Department about covering him because he wasn’t able to get out of work.  It was easy enough, his show had a specific format which he wrote down for me – all I had to do was follow the bullet points.  So there I was, fresh from sitting in with the two BEST DJs in the whole station at that time – both actually being alumni volunteers at that point – and DJing my first show.

It was a little nerve wracking, I was already engineering and cohosting someone else’s public service show on Mondays for a month at this point, but this was the first time I was on my own.  After reading off the most important bullet point of this guy’s show he surprised me by calling me up.  I didn’t think he was listening but here was telling me I rock and even complimenting my voice.  And after I finished up, that angry chief engineer – who can still go suck a dick and die – even told me he liked my voice.

Thursday, September 9th, 2004.  This day would see the launch of the Metal Mike Show at 4pm.  My then guitarist, Chad, jokingly suggested I call myself Metal Mike.  A manager of mine at work suggested Iron Mike, but some at the station just didn’t like it.  For a few weeks prior to this I had hand drawn ads and plastered them all over the walls of every single building on campus, as well as on the walls of music stores where I lived and even in places in Manhattan, especially the now defunct Manny’s Music on w 47th St.  The guy whose show I covered for read the script for my station promo and immediately asked if he could read it on mic.  It was hysterical hearing him read “It’s time to give the devil his good name back…Hell never sounded so good!”, with as much bass as he could get out of his voice.

With two hours to go I began writing down my playlist for the next three hours, trying to find a balance between the music I wanted to play and the music I’d be required to play.  There were two other metal DJ’s who happily pigeonholed themselves to two extremes, one to Black Metal so underground the bands themselves don’t even know if their demo tape is even circulating, and another guy that loved to cater to his drunk following in England, playing nothing but Swedish Melodic Metal and Power Metal.  Power Metal…GAY.  I wanted to be the balance between those two guys, being a fan of almost all types of Metal…expect Power Metal or anything related to it.  I’d like to think I did a good job with that over the next two plus years.

Ten minutes to go.  I walked in to the On-Air room where another DJ was getting ready to wrap things up, this was on of the two people I sat in with.  Now this woman had an incredible radio voice.  She’ll be oh so shy talking to you but when she’s on air she gets so sensual to the point that you’d think it was a different person.  Looking on the instant messenger on the computer screen I already had to messages.  One was from my dad, who had tuned in on his office computer to hear me, the other being some jackass in the station busting my balls “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ACTUALLY GAVE YOU A SHOW!”  I think I know who it was.   She left, I played a few PSA’s to get settled in, my show’s promo, followed by my favorite station ID track…and off we go!

I had Ozzy open up my show with “Miracle Man” off his classic 1988 album, No Rest For The Wicked.  This was Zakk Wylde’s recording debut with him and I was such a Zakk fanboy at the time.  Also, that opening riff is just huge!  Nerves hitting me so hard, I couldn’t help but practically scream right into the mic once the song ended.  I knew I needed to calm down but I was so nervous I just couldn’t stop myself!  After screaming out the station’s phone number for requests I immediately but on Death’s “Bite The Pain”, a request for one of those two metal DJ’s I mentioned before.  I tried to do everything I could to calm myself down.  It took awhile but as time went on I got a bit more comfortable…until someone came to check on me.

It was 6pm, two hours down, one to go.  Someone asked me how I was doing and as soon as I said ok it went downhill.  I put on Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots”, only for it to start skipping.  So I quickly put “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on the second CD player…and THAT started skipping.  So I pulled out Metallica’s …And Justice For All CD, put on “To Live Is To Die”…and THAT began skipping.  FUCK!  I had no choice but I go back on air and try to save myself.  Luckily for me, the rest of the show went off without a hitch before the next DJ came to relieve me.  All in all I had fun; I clearly had a lot of work to do as far as calming my nerves so I don’t scream into the mic, but this was the beginning of a time that would consume the next two years of my life.

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Extreme Metal Gym Playlist

Gym playlists.  Man, some people out there really seem to not have the balls to delve into nastier shit than they’re accustomed to in order to really raise those adrenaline levels.  I guess they don’t really want to train with fury after all.  Pussies.  This goes back to my first true post on here, titled: “…if I had my own gym”.  I bitched that the so-called metalheads in my gym cried like little girls upon hearing my heavy-as-fuck Spotify playlist, which contained several tracks by Pantera (the super heavy shit from the mid-90’s), Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore and Meshuggah.  The remarks came flying: “What is this crap?”  “Yeah I know I’m a Stripping Young Lad but this sucks!”, “Do you have any Metallica??”

Sure, there are gyms out there that understand that Disturbed is NOT the definition of music that makes you want to fight someone of even deadlift the house.  But they’re few and far between.  Also, I’ve come across plenty of playlists on Bodybuilding.com and, while some have come close, I came across a lot of shit.  When I think of real weightlifting music Bring Me The Horizon and Miss May I are clearly, badass bands to train to.  Right?  Right?  Excuse me while I puke out my flank steak dinner and my creatine powder.

So here are my ten picks, in no particular order, for heavy-as-fuck, balls to the wall, rage fueling, gym music.

  1. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us, 2016ywnboou

I’m starting with this one because I need to get something off my chest real quick: I’m so fucking mad at these guys!  Just as this album is getting more critical acclaim and attention than any other album sounding remotely like this the band, without warning, goes on hiatus?!?!  What the fuck is this shit??  And why now???  Did Todd Jones decide he couldn’t handle the sudden popularity??  Did it go against his hardcore ethos??  Good thing I never went to This Is Hardcore in the beginning of the month because I would’ve been really pissed off!

Now that that’s out of the way…this is most likely my album of the year.  In just over twenty-one minutes, this album is literally all killer no filler…at all.  This is just straight up RAGE from start to finish.  The production is rough, the vocals are ridden with the type of slobbering anger that says Todd Jones wants to hurt you so bad.  This is true Meathead music.  It’s totally amped up my workouts since it came out two months ago and will most likely continue to do so.

Key Tracks: You Will Never Be One Of Us, Savage Intolerance, Parasite, They Come Crawling Back

2. Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill, 1996 tgstk

Yeah…this one…not Cowboys, not Vulgar…this one.  Why?  Listen to the opening seconds of the title track alone.  That’s why.  The Great Southern Trendkill is literally the most violent and intense Pantera release in their entire recording career.  It just wreaks of every negative emotion you DIDN’T expect from Pantera.  I guess it kind of, sort of, also helps that Phil Anselmo was secretly doing heroin during this time.  That shit always brings down the mood!  Featuring the late Seth Putnam of Anal Cunt on backing screams on certain tracks.

Key Tracks: The Great Southern Trendkill, War Nerve, Suicide Note Pt.2, Sandblasted Skin

3. Strapping Young Lad – Alien, 2005

alien

Ever wanted to hear what a bipolar person sounds like when they stop taking their meds just to make their most intense album ever?  Here’s your chance!  But it ain’t pretty.  Which is why I love it!  Devin Townsend knew that Strapping’s 2003 comeback record was clearly stale, minus two tracks.  So what did he do?  He risked his mental health and let the crazies out to play on more time.  I cannot listen to this record when I am driving because there were many times when this record came out that I went into massive road rage, probably came close to INTENTIONALLY running over people and driving into a wall.

Key tracks: Skeksis, Shitstorm, Love?, We Ride

4. Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor, 2005

tge

Without question the heaviest album Nevermore ever did.  I don’t know if it was because of the permanent addition of Steve Smyth as a second guitarist, but whatever it was, it worked.  Usually known for a more diverse musical formula on previous albums, much of that is non-existent here.  Like…compared to the albums before it or after…This Godless Endeavor is musically pitch black.  I can totally see myself bench pressing to Jeff Loomis and Steve Smyth’s dueling leads on “Psalm Of Lydia”.

Key Tracks: Born, My Acid Words, Bittersweet Feast, Psalm Of Lydia

5 and 6.  Crowbar – Crowbar, 1993/Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form, 2001

Crowbar

I decided I had to put in two albums here.  Crowbar are the ultimate go-to band for intense weight training.  It’s unforgivingly brutal, fast enough, slow enough, sludgy enough and add Kirk Windstein’s increasing raspy vocals on being down and out and all I want to do is eat lots of food and deadlift.

Speaking of food, on their Phil Anselmo-produced, self titled album is a song called “Existence Is Punishment”.  If you ever watched Beavis and Butthead in the 90’s you probably saw them making fun of that song’s video, leaving Beavis to basically say that the band makes you want to eat and get fat.  Oh..and that they’re always taking a dump.  Also featured here the most badass cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” that you’ll ever here.

Key Tracks: “High Rate Extinction”, “Existence is Punishment”, “All I Had (I Gave)”, “No Quarter” (Led Zeppelin)

seiipf

Probably the fattest, sludgiest and – believe it or not – most groundbreaking album or their career.  Featuring future Goatwhore guitarist Sammy Duet, Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form truly lived up to it’s name.  But not just because it’s heavy, or you might as well consider every heavy album to be groundbreaking.  But because the songwriting here is so thought out.  Everything was perfectly arranged.  “The Lasting Dose”, the album’s most popular track – and the one where the moshpits always reach new heights – probably wouldn’t sound as amazing it does if it wasn’t well written.  This one always has me banging my head while training – I could give two shits if anyone’s looking at me.

Key Tracks: The Lasting Does, To Build A Mountain, Failure To Delay Gratification, Empty Room

7. Behemoth – The Satanist, 2014

behemoth-the-satanist-artwork

First off: Nergal is GOD.  I knew I loved Behemoth they day I heard their 2004 album, Demigod, in my college radio station, where I found myself playing it to death for a while.  It was the perfect mix of death metal with black metal themed lyrics, a new style the band were experimenting with.

But here, literally a decade later, the band is beginning to change.  Oh yeah, the brutality of their previous albums is still here, but the music itself feels fresh, much looser, much more off the cuff.  I remember hearing Nergal screaming with passion on the track “Messe Noire:: “I believe in SATAN!!!!”, me yelling to my car stereo with excitement “Oh yes you do!!!”.

Key Tracks: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, Messe Noire, Amen, O Father, O Satan, O Sun

8. Meshuggah – obZen, 2008

obZen

This was band’s second album using eight string guitars, but after 2005’s weird, and heavily drum sampled Catch 33, the heaviest band to ever come out of Sweden were back with fury.  Back when everyone and their mother was still on Myspace, I heard “Bleed” on the band’s music player…and nearly fell off my chair.  The slow tempo, mixed with Tomas Haake’s double bass rolls, those bowel inducing, low tuned eight strings locked in just perfectly, Jens Kidman’s newly developed screaming…it was as if the band was reborn!  Meshuggah were already one of my top five gym bands but obZen is a modern day Extreme Metal masterpiece.

Key Tracks: Combustion, Electric Red, Bleed, Dancers To A Discordant System

9. Morbid Angel – Domination, 1995

domination

The one album that causes the most drama between fans.  You either love Domination or the thought of it makes your stomach turn, and that even goes for the members of the band.  Between the production style and the change in David Vincent’s lyrical themes and vocal approach, this is either the band’s most brutal album or the biggest pile of shit they ever recorded.  Me?  I fucking love it!  It’s virtually unrelenting, minus “Hatework”, which I could do without.  I personally think the clarity in production makes Trey and Erik’s guitars that much more brutal.

Key Tracks: Dominate, Where The Slime Lives, Eyes To See Ears To Hear, Dawn Of The Angry

10. Black Label Society – Live Alcohol Fueled Brutality + 5, 2001

bls live

Right off the bat, fuck the “plus 5” on the second disc, it doesn’t matter.  I almost didn’t use this album but first off, Zakk Wylde is GOD.  Second, this live album is endlessly loud, violent, and brutal.  This was recorded on that infamous 2ooo tour were Zakk’s famous “grail” Les Paul was stolen, not to be seen again for a good three years.  This is another album I’ll bang my head to and sing out loud in the gym regardless of who’s watching me.  Fuck them, they’re all listening to the shitty dance music playing through the speakers or some watered down “rock” through their earbuds.

Key Tracks: Low Down, Lost My Better Half, Bored To Tears, No More Tears (Ozzy Cover)

My Pilgrimage To Diamond Gym, July 29th, 2016

Yeah…I wrote Pilgrimage.  Why?  Because if you are a serious lifter of any kind, powerlifter, bodybuilder, whatever, and you happen to be anywhere in New Jersey, then it is your duty as the serious lifter you claim to be to go to Diamond Gym at least once.  For forty years now Diamond Gym has been one of THE most badass, hardcore gyms in the entire east coast.  When ex-bodybuilder John Kemper opened up the place it became the original “East Coast Mecca” long before Bev Francis opened up her first Gold’s Gym franchise.

I remember the first time I even heard of the place – and Adam from Black Metal Fitness, if you’re reading this, this is for you buddy! – it was on YouTube, where I discovered an old WWF interview with Mean Gene in this really badass looking dungeon gym, speaking with the owner’s wife, Shirley Kemper, about the types of people the gym attracted.  She then mentioned the British Bulldogs and next thing you knew there was the Dynamite Kid spotting Davey Boy Smith as he was benching four plates without a struggle.  Then Dynamite did the same…again, without a struggle.  Here’s the video, took me a while to find it:

It got me curious, real curious.  At the time I considered myself a gym historian of sorts, trying to learn all I could about the gyms of the past, such as R & J Health Studio in Brooklyn, NY, the breeding ground for Lou Ferrigno, and where my dad trained for fifteen years.  I also wanted to know if these gyms were still around and if so would the environment still be the same?  Well, when I found out Diamond Gym was still around I wanted to know more.  John Kemper retired and sold the gym in 2007, he sadly passed in 2012 at just 67 years old.  But apparently the gym’s current owner, Dwayne McDaniel had no problem keeping the gym’s hardcore vibe.  In fact, when you look at the place in videos it looks like nothing was touched.

So I finally made my way over there yesterday.  First off, god damn Maplewood, NJ is ghetto as fuck!  Secondly, it doesn’t even matter because once I entered the gym – which is right next to a gated community – it was all worth it.  Oh sure, a few walls might’ve had a fresh paintjob recently, and there are a hell of a lot more autographed  pictures on the walls of the bodybuilders that came from here.  But literally nothing else has changed, the equipment is exactly what I saw in that British Bulldogs promo from nineteen eighty-fucking-six, the barbell plates are so old that they probably haven’t even been in production in over thirty years, and the floors in the squat rack and leg press area are uneven.

IMG_20160729_151902577_HDR

See this?  It’s a Nautilus Multi Machine and there’s only one other gym I know that still has it because I used to train in that gym.  If you want to know more about this once fascinating “contraption” go on YouTube and just type in “Mike Mentzer Boyer Coe”.  Trust me here.

I’ll admit I was a little temped to leave if the idiot I heard through the speaker didn’t stop repeating “Ima keep it HOOD!” over and over again, but all in all the place was perfect!  Here’s my workout:

The shitty rap music in the place was so fucking loud that if I didn’t put a song over it I know I would’ve gotten at least five copyright claims because of the stupid algorithms on YouTube – I refuse to let DMX make money off my video.  Also, forget about conditioning.  I’m convinced that cardio isn’t in Diamond Gym’s vocabulary because I saw not one treadmill.  Now that is badass.  THAT is hardcore.

The gym just wreaks of all things tough as nails and I definitely will be back again.  If it wasn’t so far from me I’d leave my gym and sign up there yesterday.  Someone on yelp referred to it as “alpha and the omega” and he definitely hit the nail on the head there.  So to end this I’ll reiterate what said at the start of this.  If you call yourself a serious lifter and you live in Jersey, you need to go to Diamond Gym.

There are more pictures on my facebook page.  Just click here to get to them:

https://www.facebook.com/Confessions-Of-An-Angry-Metalhead-1237695776242081/

“What’s Our Fuckin’ Name?!?!” Anaka Live At Black Bear Bar 7/16/16

Since I’ve moved to New Jersey nearly a year ago I truly don’t have many reasons to go back to New York City…for anything.  Dead serious.  So when I got an invite from Anaka frontman Jimmy Pallis to see them this past Saturday in Brooklyn, I couldn’t say no.  It’d been close to two years since I last saw them at Gramercy Theater so I was a little overdue.  Brief history for those of you who don’t know them:  The band was started by Jimmy and his guitarist brother Peter in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 2000.  Since then Anaka has realeased five albums between then and last year, when they released The Unwavering, they’ve had their videos played on MTV (particularly “Rust And Jade” in 2004) and they even wrote a new theme song for The Ultimate Warrior when he made his brief return to wrestling in 2008.

But more important than any of that shit, they’re extremely loyal to their fans and you can tell that they love what they do.  If Jimmy and Peter were both willing to drive to my neck of the woods a year ago just to sell little ol’ me a ticket that should tell you something.  Jimmy also has  a great memory, when he texted me he told me he remembered I was out of state now and offered to mail me my ticket.  I forgot I even told him I was gone!  Now that I think about it…maybe I told him when he was at my house last time.

Anyway, I’ve also wanted to check out the Black Bear Bar for a while now, just too bad that it had to be in the heart of hipsterland, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It’s times like this that I wish Williamsburg went back to being a hellhole – it’d probably be a hell of a lot more affordable than it is now.  There’s literally real estate there that pricier than even Manhattan nowadays!  So here’s how I’m going to do this: there were five bands on the bill and I don’t want to bore the shit out of you with one to two paragraphs on each band so I’m categorizing everybody in the groups, The Great, The Good and The Shitty.  Let’s start from the bottom since that’s how the show seemed to progress anyway!

The Shitty

So the first band on was The Crimson Syndicate.  The were loud, which did get me interested at first.  The singer could growl like a motherfucker.  The problems?  First off, what is it with bands that have two singers both practically doing the same fucking thing??  It’s one thing to have two singers with completely different roles, like 3 Inches Of Blood did until 2008.  Fuck, what’s the point at all?  I used to like Scar Symmetry a lot and even played them on my radio show frequently.  But when they decided to replace their departing lead singer with two guys I couldn’t help but place my head in my hands.  Next, they turned out to be Deathcore.  Enough said.  Worse?  They’re from Staten Island, home to guidos, guinea trash and lots of herion.  There’s not a lot of great music in Staten Island – but there are lots of drugs!

The Last Alliance from Queens was next.  I won’t be so brutal with them, at least they were tight and on point.  But I have no patience for the power/progressive metal shit.  Their guitarist did play some badass stuff at times and the singer has a hell of a set of pipes;  I will not deny him his due credit.  But the lyrical themes were so power metal that at times you could just taste the cheesiness.  Another no no for me?  Keyboards.

The Good

End All was the first band whose singer had a command over the audience.  He had a lot of energy and his voice fit the music perfectly.  The band’s music are a little more radio friendly than I’d normally go for but it still was heavy and it didn’t sound phony either.  The rhythm section were great.  The one thing holding them back from greatness?  The guitarist.  No, he didn’t suck at all – but his sound sure did.  This guy has a Dean Razorback going through a Peavey and I’d love to understand how he can get such a weak sound out of that!  It’s a shame because he could’ve easily cut through the band during his solos when the time came and, not that he was inaudible, but he just couldn’t cut through the mix.  If you’re THE guitarist in a one guitar band there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to be heard.  He was great but he should either work on the sound he’s getting out of that Peavey head or get an overdrive pedal to use just for solos, like an Ibanez Tubescreamer or a Boss Super Overdrive (I actually own both of these and love them!).

The Great

Proxima Control impressed me very much.  It’s hard to describe their sound.  It’s really heavy yet really melodic.  At first I really didn’t understand the point of one guitar playing a standard six string and another playing a seven string until they played this one riff were the seven string player was cleverly using the low seven – tuned down to G – to make whatever his co-guitarist was playing sound even beefier.  Just like that it all made sense because they weren’t doing that in every single song.  That’s what you call a great ear for dynamics, knowing the right place and the right time for everything.  It always makes all the difference.

The bassist probably impressed me more than anyone else in the band.  Not only could he keep up with those fast tempos with his fingers, sometimes hitting multiple notes at once, he can even tap out the licks and cleanly go back to plucking without skipping a beat.

Anaka were the headliners here.  No sooner do they get on stage did Jimmy yell out to the crowd “Brooklyn, New York!  What’s our fuckin’ name?!?!” to the roar of the crowd.  I was expect a full on moshpit like the one that got me pinned against the bar at Killarney’s, where I first saw Anaka back in 2012.  My left quad hurt for two weeks after that night!  At the end of this you’ll get a link to a playlist featuring a clip of their set as well as Proxima Control’s and End All’s sets.

The band were firing on all cylinders here.  Jimmy looked real hyper up there.  I don’t know if I gave him some of my C4 pre-workout and I just don’t remember or he was just amped up but he was wild up there.  And the screaming was probably the most intense I’ve ever heard it.  It’s not easy to keep up with after sixteen years so he had my respect there.  What really caught my eye more than anything was Peter’s guitar.  I was standing on his side of the stage and saw he had this gorgeous ESP guitar that resembled a cream Gibson Flying V, similar to Scott Ian’s new Jackson Signature V, but with EMG pickups instead of Duncans.

I had to know what the deal was.  So I went up to him and he let me know that he’s officially signed to ESP’s roster and he bought that guitar directly from them.  He even let me cop a feel, that neck feels nice.  Too bad he’s lefty because I really wanted to try it.  He also revealed to me that he’s now also endorsed by KHDK Electronics, you know, the pedal company co-founded/co-owned by Kirk Hammett.  He had the Ghoul Screamer on his pedalboard as a booster for his Dual Rectifier.  I have to admit, it had to be the thickest Pete’s tone has ever been.

Check out Anaka’s website from their music, facebook and upcoming shows, including North Music Venue in Long Island on July 29th.

http://anaka.net

You can also find me on facebook by clicking here:

https://www.facebook.com/Confessions-Of-An-Angry-Metalhead-1237695776242081/?ref=settings&qsefr=1

My next blog should be a review of Helix Nebula so stay tuned.