I tend to blame a lot of societal ills on the prevalence of the service economy, where it has become accepted that our culture is a carefully cultivated product of marketing. I'm not naive, I know it always has been. Senators in ancient Athens had to take time out from their busy schedules eating bunches of grapes and engaging in slave-boy buggery to figure out a positive way to spin this impending war with Troy, and frankly things haven't changed much since. Its that we've become too accepting of this for my tastes. But there are instances where the organic tendrils of the will invade this mechanism of selling and producing and buying and upturn the whole power dynamic.
One such tale exists in the back story of new Matador signees Early Man. Two Midwestern boys grow up inside the womb of Pentecostalism (and if you need an example of control through marketing, its Christianity) and are ejected into the cold world at 19, only to find refuge in the arms of that big mama of the dejected: Heavy Metal. They move to New York and take to their new faith in head-banging with snake-handling fervor, get signed by one of the coolest labels around and are reborn as True Sons of Rock-n-Roll.
Inspiring story, isn't it? My skepticism tugs at my brain in curiosity of the validity of such a tale. I lived in the Midwest, and those Amish kids, while appearing all scrubbed and wholesome and pure are as potentially rotten as every other teenager. In fact the Amish have this tradition called rumschpringe where a 16-year old is allowed to go "live among the English" and hopefully come back to the church. I'm guessing Early Man discovered that they totally rock and that life is good on the dark side of the Force, just never schpringed back.
Closing In comes off as the most joyous and dexterous jam tape ever. Guitarist/Singer Mike Conte kicks out the purest of jams with just basic distortion, howling pipes and a dedication to the musical stylings of Judas Priest, Ratt and Ozzy Osbourne. "Four Walls" starts this feast of riffs with a bang. Adam Bennati's drums are just as sweaty and adolescent-triumphant. A female friend once remarked to me that she wishes she could be a 20-year old man for just a day, so she could know what's it like to rule the world. The fiendish knucklehead swagger of "Death is the Answer" can give you a taste of that power, how it struts through, shoulders out knocking away obstacles through the crowd.
This headbanger's ball is non stop power-riff after another. "Thrill of the Kill" sounds like a golden moment garage recording of Blue Oyster Cult featuring Rob Halford, while "Evil Is" opens the earth to unleash the cartoon Satan that these boys spent their youths avoiding and courting and defeating and becoming. "Contra" comes as close to an apocalyptic slow jam, but really is just the riff slowed down/jacked around inna Prog stylee. To really good effect, mind you. For those looking for intricate solos and sweeping arrangements, there are 30 section in the yellow pages under "Metal" for you to get your fix. This here is straight up 80's metal without the pageantry. Its the sound you wish your crappy garage band could attain so that you could momentarily leave your humdrum pigeonhole lives and ascend to a very heavy heaven.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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