Sacramento was positively drenched with rain last weekend. The meteorologists called it an “atmospheric river;” I called it a great time to wallow in some seriously depressing music to match the shitty weather. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better band in 2015 to accompany overcast skies and sheets of (probably toxic) precipitation than Australia’s Weeping Rat. The band is set to drop their debut album Tar via the mighty Handmade Birds, and it’s a deliciously dismal listen, to say the very least.
I’ve been listening to various forms of heavy music for a long time, and as the years go on, my attention span gets shorter and shorter, especially when it comes to choosing bands to write about. Basically, if your band can’t pique my interest within the first thirty seconds of the first song (excluding intros), consider yourselves SOL. This has made it increasingly difficult to discover new acts to cover, as it seems that much of the scene is currently plagued by a complete and total lack of ability to self-edit.
During my misspent youth, I obsessed over so-called “alternative rock” almost as much as I did heavy metal. Among my favorites was The Smashing Pumpkins; the band’s swirling and spacey yet surprisingly metallic hard rock was like nothing I’d heard before at that point, and I found it much easier to identify with main man Billy Corgan’s nerd/asshole/hopeless romantic shtick than Kurt Cobain’s junkie poet. I might have had more Nirvana posters on my wall, but I listened to Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness way more than I did Nevermind.
In 2014, heavy metal wore me out. Trying to keep up with the seemingly never-ending flood of new releases and developments in the scene while at the same time attempting to allow myself opportunities to enjoy the music purely as a fan finally caught up with me, and for a good chunk of the year, THKD felt more like a chore than like fun. On top of that, the faux-outrage that lit up my various social media feeds every time someone got their feelings hurt was especially tiresome (although at times entertaining); as exhausted as I am, I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to be offended by everything, or to be convinced that other people are somehow out to ruin heavy metal for you.
When I first started thinking about how to approach THKD’s year end shenanigans for 2013, I tried to come up with ideas for different types of lists that would get away from the traditional top albums countdown. Turns out I’m more scatterbrained than creative, because what I ended up with was a bunch of stuff that really didn’t fit together or adhere to any sort of unifying theme. Instead of giving up on the idea, I decided to gather a few of these things together under one banner even though it didn’t make any sense whatsoever, just for the sheer joy of it, in addition to a more traditional year end list. So here it is, the second year end “bonus list” prior to the top metal albums countdown, which will be published on 12/13/13; THKD’s top 10 random-ass things I enjoyed in 2013.
I don’t need to tell you to listen to My Bloody Valentine. I don’t need to tell you what an important band they are. And yeah, I realize that MBV is the cliche token shoegaze band that metalheads like, and the band that metal writers automatically point to whenever a band exhibits a shoegaze influence (with Slowdive coming in a distant second on both counts). I know I’m guilty of it. But sometimes, when you discover one band that’s so fucking amazing and addictive, it’s hard to pull yourself away and explore the rest of what’s out there.
Whether you like it or not, you might as well just accept the fact that in 2013, the most interesting black metal is being released on cassette. Case in point; Lord Time’s Drink My Tears, a lengthy, mesmerizing odyssey of USBM at it’s most psychedelically fucked up that’s almost impossible to stop listening to once you’ve let its bloodstained anti-hymns corrode your brain.
I’ve been meaning to check out New Zealand’s Beastwars for quite some time, but I’m ashamed to admit that the band somehow got lost in the disheveled and disorganized avalanche that is my “bands to check out” list when their self-titled debut was released back in 2011. In spite of this grievous error, it would appear the metal gods chose to smile upon me anyway, as my colleague Craig Hayes recently hooked me up with a promo of the band’s second album Blood Becomes Fire on the band’s behalf. Just one spin of the quartet’s sophomore opus had me cursing myself for a goddamn fool for not getting ’round to them sooner, because not only is this bad mama-jama right up my alley, it’s one of the all-around best metal albums I’ve heard so far in 2013.
After Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in 1994, alternative rock, the supposed savior of the mainstream, took a shit and died. The loss of Nirvana seemingly created a domino effect; the remaining “big bands” of the genre either broke up, imploded or simply petered out, with the exception of Pearl Jam, who became alt rock’s answer to The Grateful Dead (as if we needed another one), while the lesser known bands went back underground. For me, those bands belong to a certain time and place; Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains were a big part of the soundtrack to my teenage years. I didn’t discriminate between heavy metal and so-called grunge; it was all just a bunch of ugly, hairy dudes with guitars playing big, loud riffs.
Roughly 5 months ago, Brandon Duncan (whom you may know from The Sequence of Prime) contacted me with an idea; let’s start a new online metal zine. Typically I prefer to work alone, but Brandon’s enthusiasm is contagious and I’m proud to call him my friend, so there was absolutely no way I could refuse. Brandon gathered an ace design team while I hand-picked some of my favorite writers from internet metal land with the express purpose of creating something new and unique, to drag the old school metal zine into the future, come Hell or high water with an emphasis on good old-fashioned writing and design.
After 5 months of hard work, I’m proud to present to all of you the fruits of our labors in the form of Backlit #0; fifteen pages of mind-melting music, art and literature.
Backlit / 0
Now available at backlitzine.com
Cover Art by Dan Harding
Raping Angels in America #1 / Joshua Haun
Angry Old Men / Jordan Campbell
Helpless Child / Dan Obstkrieg
Fucking The Future / Joshua Haun
Libations in the Labyrinth Vol. 1 / Dan Obstkrieg
Words That Wound / Dan Obstkrieg
Doomsday Device / Joshua Haun
Interview With Jester King Brewery / The Dragon of M87
Interview With Ashencult / Jordan Campbell
Art & Fiction:
Succubus in the Attic / Nikki Guerlain
Dan Harding: The Fine Art of Horror / Brandon Duncan
The Dragon of M87
I hope that you will all enjoy reading the first issue of Backlit as much as we enjoyed crafting it. This is only the beginning!