They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I’ve always wondered about this claim, because it seems to imply that, in order to fully take in all thousand words contained within an image, you would have to internalize the picture in its entirety. In other words, you have to look at and understand every square inch of a picture to really gain benefit of the one thousand words that picture is worth. So what happens if you don’t really pay full attention to a picture? If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a glance at a picture worth? Five hundred? Eighty-nine? Six? Science has yet to address this pressing issue.
However, I can tell you from personal experience that a single glance at the cover of Behemoth’s album “Demigod” speaks volumes. With the most cursory glimpse of “Demigod,” you know that this is a death metal album. It has all the requisite elements: fancy, nigh-illegible gothic script, grotesque images of death contrasted with spiritual symbols, and peeling paint. If the cover isn’t enough to convince you of the contents, take a look at the names of the band members: Inferno, Negral, Orion, Seth. Wow.
Yes, Behemoth is a death metal group, from Poland no less. And, like all death metal groups before them, they adhere to the trademarks of the genre with religious zeal. All you need to start a death metal band is a guy who plays the drums really, really fast, a guy who can play guitar solos really fast and/or play really, really low rhythm chords, a bass player who looks like Lucifer, a singer who doesn’t so much “sing” as “make pit-bull sounds into a microphone,” and a lot of long hair.
Like reality television, the death metal genre seems to consist of nothing more than cranking out the same act over and over, but with different names. There aren’t enough synonyms for “derivative” in the English language to fully describe death metal groups like Behemoth. Next.
Good book, crappy band. Ska lost its novelty somewhere in the mid- to late-90s and even then it was only good for junior high school kids who didn’t know any better. Joseph Heller must be spinning in his grave. Yossarian lives, you punks. Next.
This album would sound great… at a grocery store. It’s like muzak with words. Ugh. Next.
House of Secrets
Most of what I said up there about Behemoth applies here, too. One look at the publicity photo of these guys and you get a pretty accurate idea of what you’re in for. “We are extremely unhappy!” their 8×10 seems to cry. “We must express our individuality in a faceless society by dressing up and styling our hair to look like every other metal musician in the history of the world!” One guy even has one of those braided beards, I kid you not. Something is very, very wrong when you wear pigtails on your face.
Another thing you might notice: the front of the jewel case containing this album is such a dark red that it’s almost impossible to read what album it actually is. I can imagine that an illegible cover might hurt sales, but I have a hard time mustering any sympathy over the fact.
One key difference between Otep and the aforementioned Behemoth is that the “lead singer” of Otep is a woman, named (goodness me) Otep Shamaya. On this point, at least, Otep is superior to other metal acts; they keep their real names, without resorting to adopting stupid nicknames to make themselves sounds cooler. Otep Shamaya, Greg Wells, Joey Jordison, Evil J… wait. Bad lead guitar, bad! No biscuit!
What’s nice about having a female singer is that you get a bit of variety. Now, instead of having to endure terrible pit-bull impersonations throughout the entire album, you only have to endure it half the time. The other half of the time, you get to listen to Otep whispering/moaning the lyrics. I mourn the days when singers actually sang.
Speaking of lyrics, the songs themselves read like angst-ridden scribblings of a 13 year-old who couldn’t find a date to the Valentine’s Dance. “Autopsy Song,” “Suicide Trees,” “Shattered Pieces…” and those are just the titles! Next.
Stop Doing Bad Things
With such an intriguing album name and track names like “So I Heard You Joined A Convent,” “Texa$ With A Dollar Sign,” and “Restraining Order Blues,” I had hopes that this album would be interesting, possibly even funny. I ignored the gloomy album cover and popped in the CD, crossing my fingers in anticipation of a wild, wacky ride with nuns and guys in big hats, and restraining orders.
Imagine my surprise when I was greeted with generic emo rock. I was heartbroken. I wanted to go out and buy a hoodie from Hot Topic and paint my fingernails black and listen to a bunch of old vinyl records I found at the thrift store.
Go away. You don’t understand my pain. Next.
Beauty From Pain
The Superchicks really need to decide what genre they are. They swing wildly from saccharine pop punk, boring R&B, and some sort of weird hip-hop / rock amalgamation. At first, I thought that this sort of random genre-switching would make Superchick difficult to sell, but then I realized that they have been positioned to appeal to the kinds of people who watch TRL and think that it’s the height of musical achievement. They hit pretty much every genre that’s popular on MTV (you know, when they actually bother to play music anymore) making them easy to sell to the vapid MTV audience. How thoroughly mediocre. Next.
Oh wait, that was the last one. My relief is almost palpable. And until next time, keep this in mind: listening to bad music makes you a bad person by association, and you should be ashamed.