not all awesome singers…

…are amazing lyricists.

That’s Anneke van Giersbergen, and yes, same as Tarja, she isn’t exactly young but somehow still feels she needs that sort of stage clothing to sell the music. Okay, whatever makes them and their fans happy, I guess. Thankfully I got other style icons.

But the point is – I don’t know for sure who writes lyrics for Tarja’s solo stuff, and yet they are quite good. On the other hand, Ms Giersbergen has been writing lyrics for like twenty-five years, I guess, and, well, let’s just say I don’t see any progress (the lyrics to the song above you can find in the comments on youtube). You will probably call it “style”. Anyway, that writing style is the reason why I physically cannot listen to Anneke stuff, even though I have adored her voice since forever.

Nonsensical syllables, I say. Pseudolanguages, I say. All the way. Just not that sort of whatever it is. Please.

…anyone remember those Beauty in Darkness DVDs?

I don’t know what I think about it

The singing is awesome. The lyrics, not so much. Why don’t you people just use nonsensical syllables instead of doing weird things to innocent words? That would be way more mysterious and interesting, IMO. Or you can always just use vowels. Why not?!

The video… okay, avalanche, avalalalavalanche, I thought they are a mountain thing, not a desert one.
And then…
Did you, o esteemed Anna Murphy, really need all that fanservice to sell the song?

that Sabbath was “my” Sabbath

Dehumanizer may’ve been my first Sabbath album and remains one of the two top favourites to this day music-wise, the other being Sabbath Bloody Sabbath obviously, but the Tony Martin years were the time I have a special emotional connection to.
Again, Tony is way more of a rock singer than a metal one. But isn’t it the same with Ozzy? Supposing Mr Osbourne qualifies as a singer at all. While Mr Martin does.
Yes he is very light. Very, I daresay, lyrical. But damn ain’t he agile! Exactly because he doesn’t have to haul around all the weight.

And don’t forget that Cozy Powell was there for a few years, too.

One studio track and two live versions of another – one with Sabbath in freaking Soviet Union, the other with a solo band a gazillion years later.

and here, o dear ladies, gentlemen and young ones of all ages…

…we hear what a badly set up compressor can do to your live sound.

I have an audience recording of this show (it’s also on youtube), and I have wondered about the vocals – audience recordings are always hit or miss; a lot will depend on the particular recording equipment, any frequency band can drop out. Now that I have found this clip, I understand that it’s not just about the camera; the problem was what was coming out of the PA.
But the problem here, contrary to what the comments speculate, isn’t that Hansi was that ill or whatever, really. I’m not sure he even was. He did have certain “register blending” issues all over the late 90s and early 2000s – I’m using inverted commas because these aren’t limited to your traditional concepts of vocal registers aka mechanisms; we’re also dealing with extended technique here, that raspy thing. But really, most of the time – with Blind Guardian and their magically oiled touring machine – he managed just fine (outside of shows like Moscow 2002 where our gruesome reality likely threw his monitors off big time and caused all sorts of WTF).

Why does his lead part sound so freaking weird here, then?

Because from the sound engineering point of view, getting a mixed-technique vocal line to survive electronic processing required for amplification and recording is not exactly a trivial task (I’m speaking from experience).

The thing about classically informed clean singing is that it carries effing well. It’s designed for that. With a peak around the “singer’s formant” range.

Whenever you manipulate your instrument to produce extended technique sounds – or even “folk” style sounds – your peak frequencies shift.

So if you have a multi-band compressor set up way too far on a way narrow band (around the traditional singer’s formant frequencies), or an equaliser in your FX chain before the compressor, again, emphasising the singer’s formant (but this time your “generic” compressor is too lax)… you’ll get this weird overdone dynamics that actually sounds wrong because cleans shouldn’t overshadow those aggressive parts, y’know. And yet it happens because your cleans are focused already, they don’t need that extra boost, while the “harsh” parts could use some because the energy of your sound wave gets kinda dissipated when you add rasp via this particular technique. But the frequency band is selected incorrectly.
That’s all.

Other than that, Demons and Wizards was the band where Hansi the frontman was born. Remember, it wasn’t easy for him to transition from hiding behind a bass guitar to just being up there with nothing but a mike stand for company.

this is actually weird…

…that someone as not exactly opposed to recording (consistently excellent) covers as Hansi Kürsch never released studio versions of those tracks Demons and Wizards played live (when they were playing live, which wasn’t long cuz other commitments =)) To be honest, I’d take either the Maiden cover or the AC/DC one over that Immigrant Song that came with the Touched by the Crimson King album.

Here are two Maiden versions: with more audience participation…

…and a bit less of that:

The AC/DC one is positively phenomenal:

heresy. more of it.

What I’ve never been is a fan of Iron Maiden on the whole or of Bruce Dickinson specifically. I really like the DiAnno albums, but other than that…
I do acknowledge Maiden’s enormous importance in the history of metal as we love it – Rainbow, Judas Priest and Scorpions may have been the first dudes to figure out the simple fact that hard rock needed to be cleansed of all the sins that the bastardised blues had ever committed, and Rush were playing “progressive metal” when the very idea of “metal” wasn’t even truly defined, but it was Maiden who sort of took all their ore snippets, refined them, and forged the template that anyone could use.
I do realise that Bruce Dickinson is a historical figure.
But I can’t make myself enjoy his voice. Blame it on hearing Dio and Graham Bonnett too early in my life. The way Bruce had always been lauded in the press made me expect a voice that could literally blow these two offstage… yeah right.
Not that Robin McAuley could do that either. He’s got what basically is a rock voice, too limited to work in a metal context at all. And yet. There’s a certain charming character to his timbre that I have been irrationally fond of since the moment I heard MSG’s What Happens to Me on an old pirated cassette tape.
Turns out a quality song like Run to the Hills works with a rock voice, too.

That particular tribute also features impressive performances from Dee Snider, Joe Lynn Turner and Mark Slaughter. Yeah, those dudes who can sing (or at least could; Slaughter seems to have developed some problems), but whose recorded output mostly consists of rather awkward and boring hard rock. So, to me, that tribute CD is one of the highest points of their careers.

just in time

DAZ3D just unrolled a Victoria 8. And a new free female Genesis model – which isn’t called Genesis 4 but Genesis 8.

I don’t have the time to look at the free one right now – but the marketing talk includes “a new expression engine” and “automatically flexing muscles”.

For the latter to be included in a base figure – or at least a major character like V8; no idea yet if the free one features it or not – I honestly applaud. One of the reasons the original Genesis is my preferred figure is because it has a system like that available in one of the add-ons (Muscularity, I think). G2F had a similar add-on (which I also have cuz it was in a nice sale), but nothing of the sort is out there for G2M (and I can’t be bothered to convert all those JCMs and MCMs, y’know).

Now, expressions, I wonder if they did hire someone with a basic understanding of anatomy.

No idea when I’m going to look into that, but hey, as soon as I do, I’ll drip some acid right here.

Meanwhile fire up your DIMs and go download the new G8F starter essentials. They say there is some clothing there. It’s reasonable to assume it’s backwards compatible ;D

I barely know who that Katy Perry is…

…and looking at the pictures in the article linked below makes me cringe because this is all plain tasteless (just those garish colours are sin enough),  and yet I kinda wonder if it’s a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”:

This is the article about Ms Perry and her “cultural appropriation”.
Now look. First of all, I personally don’t see the difference between dressing up the silly way Ms Perry does and generally “appropriating” a musical subculture like rap/hip-hop, reggae, contemporary “r’n’b” (the whole “urban” thing coming out of the USA) – all those mainstream fashion trends plus the very act of performing this sort of music. I mean, maybe it’s just Russia, but every young dude (my age and younger) claiming to be a “musician” turns out to be a “rapper”. And a scary number of girls listen to what those “musicians” produce and dress up in skimpy glitz and bling, wearing those false fingernails and hair/lash extensions. 

And we’re predominantly white and secondarily Asian in Russia (just think of the Yakuts, the Buryats, Kazakh immigrants…). There are ethnically black people here, but not many. Not every one of those is a “rapper” even.
// funny how watermelons are a national summer snack here in Russia, regardless of ethnicity //

I don’t know what the mainstream youth culture is like elsewhere but in Russia – but given the fact that all those minajes and rihannas sell millions of records worldwide, I don’t think our modest music market could account for those.

So this US-exported “urban” thing is eating at the local national cultures.

Next. I can understand why – theoretically – this black dude who wrote the article is getting all so offended. I get miiiiiighty offended whenever there is a freaking “Russian” character in a foreign movie. I don’t even know where to begin pointing out stereotypes and glaring mistakes (“nazdorovye”, anyone? Snow in July in freaking Moscow, anyone? Okay, technically it did snow a little this year in June, but it’s been the coldest late spring in decades + that snow didn’t pile around to be fit for skiing on, y’know). I even honestly feel like physically fighting those non-ex-USSR 3D content providers who release generic characters marketed as “Russian beauties” – with nothing Russian about them.

But why aren’t there any ethnic Russian Americans blogging about it all? Hey there is even a word that could work instead of “racism” – “Russophobia”!

And finally.

Are these the same bloggers who complain that SF/fantasy written (for books, movies or games) by white people has too few people of colour? 

But how can we whites write ethnic characters who are ethnic enough not to be a “cosmetically altered white” – yet manage to refrain from as much as unknowingly hinting at any possible stereotypes?

My answer to that is the same as to the accusation that metal is a “whitist” genre: 

Why don’t you, dear non-white critic, contribute to the genre with your insider experience and create some awesome SF/F/metal/whatever that could cement and expand the influence of your ethnicity?

It’s not like it’s never been done.

TL;DR:

I don’t believe that a writer or a musician can be fully authentic if they are consciously trying (striving!) to be “politically correct”. 

Of course, a mainstream “star” who barely (if ever) writes their own lyrics cannot ever be authentic – by definition. “Manufactured” and “authentic” are antonyms, after all. I wish this sort of shameless corporate showbiz thing would just stop. Regardless of ethnicity or whatever.

…yes. You want “female power fantasy” instead of “male sexual fantasy” for your female characters – roll your own and promote your work. Become a female power fantasy yourself. Just yapping at others and effectively doing nothing else won’t change the world.