not exactly nothing new

In black/folk/viking metal, a “one man band” is a longstanding tradition. A one woman band, though, is somewhat of a novelty to this day, and this is what Vermilia is.

You could say that the song per se does not break any new ground at all, musically speaking, and I would agree. However, the way I view this genre is different. I find this whole black/folk sound relaxing. Honest. Even the obligatory “black metal shrieking”, it’s not an athletic sort of singing. It just sounds soothing to my ears.

So what I want from a project like this is flow and texture. And Vermilia has got that in spades. After all, even though gender doesn’t matter, actual biological sex does, in terms of what a singer’s instrument actually sounds like. I happen to prefer female voices in general, and especially when it comes to that “shrieking”.

Get the digital single on Bandcamp, pay what you want/can afford!

Another plus is that the lyrics are in Finnish and do not concern any specific religion or ideology. Too often, black/folk metal will deal with “Satanism”, militant “paganism” or plain out Nazi crap. I hope no-one needs explaining why I don’t like Nazis, to put it mildly. So, the religious angle is to be found behind the cut. Clicky click for the curious ones!

Continue reading “not exactly nothing new”

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this interview…

…basically answers the “why” that concerns me falling in love with Metal Church damn fast. There is another “why” that you have already heard, but it has no real answer.

Kurdt Vanderhoof’s interview for the Vintage Guitar magazine explains why to me, Metal Church sounds like a punked-up Rush jamming to NWOBHM on steroids: because these are exactly the ingredients that went into concocting the primary songwriter’s idea of what good music is, y’know.

The funniest thing is that I grew up on basically the same stuff, myself, just that the punk component was mainly local, Russian.

Thankfully I’m young enough to have an extra layer of idols, haha. Keeps things different.

I can’t say that Kurdt Vanderhoof is my favourite bandmember as a person, though, – he’s whined a bit too much over the years about how “computer-generated” music is oh so bad and how the metal scene is in a sorry state. Well, he will often clarify he means the US scene, but good grief… I mean, the Russian metal scene isn’t exactly a stellar one. So I know what it’s like, to have virtually nothing “homegrown” to be proud of, in the field you care for.

But here we seem to have this English-speaking superiority mentality at play. That is, many European metal bands will say they love their US/UK peers. I mean, Hansi Kürsch is a Metal Church fan as it turns out (best-kept secret of the millennium, yup).

On the other hand, I have never seen a US/UK metal musician say they are familiar with the European scene and love it. Definitely not to the point of giving examples.

I’ll be glad to be proven wrong. But damn, I really wish Mr Vanderhoof would stop whining and get some youtube surfing done or whatever.

And when it comes to electronic music… tell you what, not every composer of yore was a brilliant instrumentalist. Certainly not to the point of being able to play each and every orchestral part themselves. Again, a computer is what it is, a yet another instrument. It can be abused (cf. autotune), but it can also be the only way for certain people to express themselves. Not everyone can _physically_ play the guitar well, y’know (yes that is personal).

Kinda like digital painting: if you trace a digital photo and sample colours directly from it, I can’t say I’m impressed. But if you just paint the “oldschool” way but with a tablet and a stylus… it’s great.

why. oh why.

My readers most likely remember that Victor Smolski and Peavy Wagner parted ways a couple of years ago. This is Victor’s side of the equation, and I have a genuine love/hate affair with this band.

Musically, it’s damn close to being perfect. I mean, songs have interesting structures, melodies are moderately catchy without being saccharine, and Smolski is the guitar player, so can’t find no faults with that.

But vocally…

The band has three singers. Two venerable dudes with similar oldschool metal voices and styles, and a lady whom I have never heard sing lead at all.

Kinda three singers too many, y’know. No-one of them is really bad. They’re all doing their job well enough – they carry the tune, they harmonise as far as they can hear each other (not always an easy fit live, so not taking any points off for that). But, as I said, the redundancy factor is too damn high with those three.

Peavy Wagner may have gotten damn lazy with his vocals over the years, but when you hear him, you know who that is, right away. Some instruments are just distinctive.

I have a hard time believing someone like Smolski hasn’t been able to find a truly original voice for his band. His singular guitar playing needs a worthy counterpart.

Three okay singers are totally not the same as a single OMG one.

here it comes!!

The first single, fresh off the press. Metaphorically, duh.

Yes you can say they abuse these choral harmonies, but damn, why not if no-one else does it? Can a band have a trademark sound or not?

I was somewhat unsure about how Gaby was going to blend in, but they managed to find a way for her singular voice to work in the context of the whole sonic debauchery that Coronatus is. Mind you, it’s an affectional term.

And looks like Mareike has found a better balance to her voice as well. I was sorry to lose Anny, but all these developments – seemingly in a(n even more outlandish) progressive direction – they make me happy and anxious to finally get to hear this album in full.

not exactly a lifelong dream come true…

…but a couple of days ago I found out that Osku Ketola has apparently been the new singer for Elonkerjuu since September :)

I know, I know. For those who don’t follow the Finnish pop rock scene, neither name means anything. But you do remember at least that this scene is where I get my primary fix of non-metal and non-classical music, right?

Interestingly enough, some Finnish pop boasts way denser and heavier production values than some European metal bands.

So, Osku Ketola. Probably better known as the A&R dude at Warner Finland who signed Teräsbetoni back then in the mid-2000s. Internationally known as one of those percussionist barbarians for TB’s Eurovision-2008 appearance (the second being their roadie Antto Tuo Na… Tuomainen, a musician himself, but that’s a whole ‘nother story):

For the uninitiated: Eurovision is a “song contest” for, well, European countries (lately expanding to Australia, I think, which makes zero sense, unless they got really bored back there in Oz…). A pop song contest, to boot. Which got once (in 2006) pwned by a Finnish shock rock band Lordi. Yeah, you get the drift.

Actually Teräsbetoni used to fluctuate between the first and second spots on the Finnish national charts back then when they were active, so they kinda qualified for “popular music”, y’know. And yes, that left handed bass player is J Ahola, one of Finland’s top non-classical voices. These days he does way more covers than original material, but he used to be a songwriter as well. MMR is one of his songs.

Ahola maintains he is not a classically trained (or trained.period) singer. I don’t know if the same is true about Osku Ketola, but let’s just say that his instrument is equally outstanding in and out of itself.

And I don’t mean the violin. Oh yeah, Ketola also plays the violin. Kinda like a male version of Jonsu Salomaa of Indica, right.

Yes, that was a bootleg video. What, need more clarity? Enjoy some studio stuff, then:

Ketola’s band never really took off that big – the reason being that Finnish audiences likely perceived their style as a bit too derivative.

Derivative of what Lauri Tähkä & Elonkerjuu used to play.

Technically, Jaarli Paddington (Palava’s original name) was formed around the same time as Elonkerjuu, but, well, y’know, show business, the right place the right time, all that jazz.

Obviously, Elonkerjuu’s success was largely to the charisma of Lauri himself and Johanna Koivu, the violin player. As you can hear, as a singer Tähkä didn’t really hold a candle to Ketola, even in the studio.

Well, first Tähkä left and got a replacement, who then left along with the violin player.

Yup. Who else, right :)

I’m really looking forward to, well, anything that comes out of this. I have faith in Ketola in all his roles, and if they ever play Maailma on renki live, well… see, I’ve wanted to hear this song done by a real singer since the moment I first heard it.

 

 

 

this could be anything

Yeah, the Amazon thing (huh, Mr Tolkien the son, who kept on badmouthing Peter Jackson’s vision? Amazon, rly? How much is your self-proclaimed integrity worth?).

I’m not entirely sure (c) this planet needs a yet another live-action version of anything in the LotR timeframe. If they go down that route – even with Jackson – this would be rather redundant.

Silmarillion, on the other hand…

And stop being idiots, o esteemed pop cult(ure) moguls, – do get Blind Guardian on your soundtrack this time!

among the things I don’t understand…

…is recurring phrases like this:

When I watched TV, everything from Disney to Coronation Street, there was never a representation of me.

– says a poet of African descent

Tell you what, do people really look for “representations of themselves” in fiction when they’re kids? Really?

I honestly don’t know. To me, the very premise is alien.

I never did.

I saw characters I wanted to be. I didn’t think about whether they resembled the then-current me anyhow or not. I just knew “I want to grow up to be like this.” “This” could be male, female, a talking animal, a robot, a monster, a tower, never mattered.

And I am not buying the “you do not understand zilch cuz ur damned white privilege” adage. Privilege my [AYEM].

As a kid, I was never “welcome” anywhere, despite being technically white and even superficially “cis”. If you asked the world around me (and it spoke quite audibly despite never being asked to, y’know), I had the wrong clothes, wrong hair, and despicable skin. If anything, you could well conclude that having a red nose and early-onset acne negates any sort of “whiteness”. “Privilege” busted.

So by that sort of logic, I should have been in love with fiction that featured goddamn ugly characters that everyone hates. Because they represented “me”.

What’s the point?!

I only started to identify with characters when I was well into my twenties. Late twenties. And even then, I care for shared emotions and values. I totally don’t need there to be some show or book featuring a hypothetical asexual genderfree Otherkin born into a female humanoid body with a specific skin shade.

These are superficial features. They’re irrelevant.

a revolution of sorts

Massacre Records does this sort of promotion where they simply post full-length albums for streaming on youtube. Yup, officially. Only found out about it recently.

Which means: you dear readers have no excuses anymore.

Where do we start? Well, why not with the first Coronatus album recorded with Anny Maleyes… if anything, it has this third track that has these uncharacteristically topical social lyrics. And the final one, in German, is also along the same lines, though less direct.

Other than that, it’s as good an introduction to the band as any other Carmen-fronted album of theirs. It has those catchy little melodies, those unorthodox rhythms strongly hinting at extreme metal genres, both these aspects readily blending here and there into those kinda-kitschy semi-dance/semi-folk structures that no other metal band I know uses… and of course those vocals in two contrasting styles.

those “classic rock” bands…

…are damn hard to take seriously when you actually look at them. It’s as if each and every music scene pre- and post- late 80s/early 90s thrash/power had a mandatory lack of taste re:stage clothes as an entry requirement.

Thankfully, the 1982 version of Uriah Heep seemed to display a certain sense of irony in that regard. At least I hope it was irony.

Whatever. The songs weren’t bad. Even if the band didn’t write much themselves, at least for that particular album.

this song sounds phenomenal live

Pwns the studio version, I say. Yes the lead vocals could be a li’l louder in the mix, but that’s live for ya. Still better than the way Metal Church got mixed in their festival streams this summer.

The only thing I dislike about Tarja today is her not using live backing vocalists. Yes it will add to the costs. But it will add so much to the show! Tapes are so nightw… so passé.