I’m just after learning of the news of Wayne Static’s passing. I simply cannot believe it and I’m heartbroken. According to his official Facebook he passed last night.
I just want to express my deep sorrow. I fell in love with Static-X when I was 15 after hearing the unbelievable album that is Machine. I remember seeing the video for Black and White on Kerrang! tv and falling hopelessly for the electronic/metal mix and that amazingly catchy chorus. That super heavy industrial sound! I wanted to have his hair and spent many hours in school trying to figure out how he got his hair to stand up so high!!!
Wisconsin Death Trip and Machine were favourites of mine in my school days and it was only last year or so when I actually came back and revisited these albums and caught up on what I missed. Wayne Static was still extremely cool and very much rockin’ it.
I was obsessed with Stem (Wisconsin Death Trip). That drum beat, that groove, those synths- that SICK guitar sound!!!!! Genius.
“I’ll always love you” The synths, the chords, the EPIC sound, the industrial power, the riff, the guitars, the cool circling sounds- this song never lets up the glorious wall of sound of Wayne Static’s creative mind.
Even over the weekend I was excited to read he was going on tour with Drowning Pool and I hoped he would take his show to Ireland.
I’m just heartbroken and I cannot believe it. Wayne was such an inspiration to me. I loved his music, how he blended metal and electronic music, his style of vocal performance and his image. He was the coolest front-man.
Sending my loving thoughts to his family and friends. I can’t imagine their loss.
Metal music has lost an unbelievable hero. Nu-metal was the metal of my teenage years and is still very much a part of me. I’m sure every metal fan worldwide agrees with me when I say- rest in peace dear Wayne, your memory lives forever in our hearts.
The past few months my newsfeed was full of Metal Hammer proclaiming Babymetal this, Babymetal that, pictures of three cute Japanese girls with microphones and I ignored it until recently when I saw a picture of the three girls with Slayers Kerry King and I said “Stop the bus! If Kerry King is saying this is cool, this has to be worth a look!”
And what I found was pure gold.
I couldn’t help but love it instantly. This absolute mad mix of metal, pop, dance and (at times) hip-hop and reggae appeals greatly to the metalhead AND pop lover in me. The vocals are so unbelievably sweet, cute, catchy and the music is by contrast evil, dark and heavy- monster riffs and thundering drums- heavy metal music updated with additional synths and electronic elements.
The music itself is only half of it. Babymetal is very much a visual experience- three singing and dancing Japanese girls in co-ordinating outfits performing with a backing-up band.
The self-titled debut album was released in February this year under Toy’s Factory record label and it’s all I’ve been listening to.
You can’t HELP but smile listening to this music, you can’t help but enjoy the chaos, the madness- it seems wrong but it’s definitely right!!!!!
So who is Babymetal?
Sumetal (Suzuka Nakamoto) is the lead-vocalist and the tallest member of the band. She’s 16 years old and a tiny 5 foot 1. She already has enjoyed a career in pop music singing with Karen’s Girl (a female trio who sang theme songs for the anime Zettai Karen Children) until 2009, then founding Sakura Gakuin (an idol group) until 2013 when Nakamoto graduated from junior high school.
Moametal (Moa Kikuchi) is 15 years old and a member of the idol group Sakura Gakuin. She plays guitar.
Yuimetal (Yui Mizuno) is also 15 years old and is a current member of Sakura Gakuin.
I found this blog post which further delves into the creative team behind Babymetal and the music industry of Japan: The Faces Behind Babymetal | Don’t Cross The Streams. Well worth a read. I am an absolute newbie to this part of the music industry, I know very, very little about Japan and its culture (apart from what I experienced when my aunt was married to Japanese man!), I’m just in love with this new musical force!
You must listen to the songs, you must watch the videos- you can’t miss this!
This week’s playlist is 5 songs across any genre which have a political message. This is an easy playlist, there are so many political songs! Here’s 5 I personally enjoy:
1. “Searchlight” – Fallon Bowman (2003)
This song comes from the politically heavy album “District 6”, the first solo album by Fallon Bowman (formerly of Canadian heavy metal band Kittie). The album was released under the artist title Amphibious Assault. Ms Bowman is my absolute favourite singer and I’ve been a fan of her since 1999! This was the first song I heard from her debut solo album and I still love it.
This song talks about the peacetime during the Cold War.
“A cold war peacetime,
Fuels a struggle of divine,
Magnitude and strengthens weakness,
Illuminates the searchlight.”
There is no official video for this song, this video is a fan upload.
2. “Russians” – Sting (1985)
I’m a big Sting fan and I’ve always adored this song for it’s beautiful minor key and instrumentation. This song really moves me and gives me goosebumps. Opening with the ticking bomb sound, the political theme is set straight away. In essence the song is about the Cold War. Every lyric makes reference to it. A lyric I particularly love is “There’s no such thing as a winnable war. It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore”. Sting expresses his fear for “Oppenheimer’s deadly toy” and his lack of faith in America’s defence when he sings;
“Mr. Reagan says we will protect you. I don’t subscribe to this point of view. Believe me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too”
3. “Zombie” – The Cranberries (1994)
A song I didn’t discover until I was 19 years old when my old rock band Black Daisy covered it as part of our live set. I fell in love with the song for it’s raw guitars and beautiful haunting melody. Of course I’ve heard it way too many times since, radio overplay has killed it but I can’t bear to leave it out of my list.
Lyrically the song expresses the pain caused by war and also the madness and disillusionment that always comes with it. It is a song for the innocents involved. (“Another mother’s breaking heart is taking over the violence”). It does not have a side nor express an opinion. It does make reference to the 1916 Rising which suggests the song is about political Ireland. (“It’s the same old thing since 1916. In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting”). The term “zombie” could signify the soldier or political leader who has no thoughts- he who kills without thinking of the innocent victims and the grief violence causes- “Whats in your head, Zombie?”
4. “B.Y.O.B” – System of a Down (2005)
Hard to pick just one song from this band! A truly wonderful band they are! Love, love them! This song is a protest song about the war in Iraq. What I think is really clever is the pop melody for the lyrics – “Everybody’s going to the party, have a real good time. Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine”, combined with the distorted guitars. These lyrics suggest that America enjoys going to Iraq and has a good time there, killing and causing unrest. It doesn’t get more blatent than the following lyrics – “Blast off, it’s party time. And we don’t live in a fascist nation” and “Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?”
5. “Black Rain” – Ozzy Osbourne (2007)
Another song about Iraq. Ozzy expresses his bafflement with the war-
“Politicians confuse me
I watch the body count rise
Why are the children all marching
Into the desert to die?”
He clearly sees no point in countries meddling with other countries politics-
“We’ve got our marching orders
Defenders of our home and our pride
We’ve crossed too many borders
I really like this song. Ozzy really has a way with phrasing words and expressing a message clearly.
This week’s blog considers the role of the teenager in society over the past 100 years and the importance of popular music to the teenager.
Popular music became a commodity in the early 20th century with the invention of radio and the mechanical reproduction of music. In 1927 the B.B.C created their music department, broadcasting new and different styles beyond community-based music into homes across the U.K. Music became a personal possession to be enjoyed at will, not just at church at other family events.
The concept of the teenager is relatively new. Before the 1940’s, children finished primary school and went straight into the world of work. 12 year olds were fast tracked into adulthood and responsibilities. Fun and free-time were unheard of. Only the privileged finished secondary school during the 1940’s and those who did attend school, had to work after school hours.
In the years following World War II, British popular music was nonexistent. Society had changed and teenagers had expendable income. The fresh, exciting music of white performers such as Elvis Presley became dominant on radios and television screens instantly. Rock n roll was a commercial product. Artists connected with young people by dressing like them and for the first time ever, young people felt they could relate with music stars. The performances of Elvis were broadcast on television with shots of the excited and emotional faces of the audience, young people were an integral part of the show. These pictures showed other fans how to respond to rock n roll.
But rock n roll was not without controversy. It’s musical origins were founded in African/American music and it was associated with devil dancing and black magic rituals. Parents were outraged, it caused damage to the moral fabric of white U.S society and record companies attempted to clean up the image of rock n roll.
The exciting nature of the music combined with the newly discovered artist/fan connection created a desire among teenagers to rebel against their parents, dress differently, go dancing, have fun.
This trend for desire for rebellion and opposition to parents continued every decade with new genres of music. Music became the voice for the youth generation and became very important with one’s identity and expression.
But does this still exist today? Is music still as important to today’s teenagers as a voice? My personal belief is no, music is not as important for expressing the desire for rebellion and parental opposition.
I have asked my 14 year old sister (on Facebook!) some questions regarding her feelings about music. She listens to all types of popular music, neither preferring one genre to another, her iPod holds dance, pop, rock, dubstep and indie music. She’s told me that teenagers can’t go a day without listening to music and that music itself is important to her and her peers. She doesn’t believe teenagers listen to music to rebel anymore, she adds that “loud” teenagers generally listen to dance and trance music because these genres are played in the discos.
Perhaps at 14 years of age, rebellion isn’t something teenagers have even considered yet.
When I was 13/14 I listened to the pop music of the charts (The Corrs and Robbie Williams pretty much sums it up!), I enjoyed the Corrs because I was learning violin and thought it was cool that a pop band incorporated Irish traditional style melodies with pop and rock and also the fact they were from Dundalk, only 20 minutes up the road from my house! I remember it was my Dad who gave me their first album “Forgiven Not Forgotten”.
But the first genre of popular music I became independently interested in was hard rock. I was 15 and just started Transition Year in school. I was making new friends (I was previously very shy and quiet and spent my lunchtimes in the library!) and these people introduced me to hard rock. I have already talked about this introduction to rock music in a post last week.
I liked the guitars (I had just started learning guitar) and the fast paced music. I remember loving the look of horror on my parents faces when I told them I thought Metallica were brilliant! They were shocked and thought it was literally the devil’s music! I remember watching a VHS (yes a video tape!) at home of Metallica and my Dad walking in, giving out that I was listening to such music. A week later the VHS machine broke and he blamed the Metallica tape for ruining the machine! He said James Hetfield was inside the machine and personally broke it on purpose! Of course, this was partly in jest (my Dad was not THAT crazy! haha!)
But this music became my identity for my teenage years and early twenties. My fashion was Metallica t-shirts, various dog collar necklaces, studded bracelets, fishnet tights, ripped jeans (flared of course) and of course long, long hair. It was very important to me to express myself as a rocker (or “Rock Head” my Dad used to call me!) and this was very apparent in my own creativity in music.
In my late teens I joined a girl rock band in Dublin and my rocker personality had a huge influence on the group. For my audition in the Temple Bar Music Centre (now called the Button Factory) I played Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen” for them. I remember the look of pure surprise on their faces and that satisfied me, it was unusual 10 years ago for a girl to play heavy metal guitar and that made me feel unique.
It’s safe to say I still enjoy this kind of music. My musical taste has broadened a lot since then. I never purely committed myself to rock/metal as a teenager, I did secretly continue to listen to the Corrs and various other pop/dance artists. I still deeply love the music of Metallica and other hard rock artists but I do find myself seeking out new rock bands these days. My fashion sense has also broadened since! It’s actually pretty rare that I wear a band t-shirt these days, but I when I go out I still wear the smokey eye makeup, teased hair and rocker boots! I still keep photographs of Metallica on my wall.
The Spirit Store opened it’s doors last night to rock out with two of Ireland’s busiest metal/rock bands; the powerful force of original metal that is Black Svan and headliners Thin Lizzy tribute “Bad Reputation”.
I attended the gig to catch up with Black Svan (I’ve been following them since August 2009 but haven’t been able to keep up with them in recent times since their blast of non-stop gigs all over the country, following their incredible European tour with monsters of rock, Fozzy and Stuck Mojo last year). Last night was my first time seeing/hearing their new line-up, Mo Clifford on second guitar, Kenneth Bell on bass and Joe Toal on drums accompanying founding members, vocalist Keith Caffrey and guitarist Jagger Murray. The powerful wall of sound instantly struck me as the most solid, tight, heavy (and may I add, the loudest!) line-up yet!
Opening with the killer riffage of “STD”, Black Svan instantly owned the stage and captured everyones full attention straight away. Keith’s vocal was not drowned out by the rhythmical hammering of Joe’s kit and wall of guitars that screamed Jagger’s signature fat, full-bodied, properly distorted (no fizzy fuzz guitars here) sound, Keith’s vocal soared, strong, confident, clearly. The anthemic bridge “Talk to me, yeah, yeah, yeah….” filled the room.
Personal favourite “Sickness” came early in the set, a surprise to hear it played on guitars down-tuned to a bad-ass C, a full tone lower than the album teaser on the band’s MySpace page (BLACK SVAN | Free Music, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos.), I personally would have preferred to hear it in its original key as I felt the song lost something, some vocal power, or maybe it’s a just a case of demo-itis on my behalf! Perhaps if it was played in the original key, it would have sounded weak in comparison to the rest of the set, all the new songs are written in C and sound awesomely heavy!
Without a shadow of a doubt “Dream Forever” was the song of the night, a finely crafted song, crushing riffs and seriously powerful lyrics and melodies from Keith, a hint of Iron Maiden influence peeps though with Jagger and Mo’s close guitar harmonies in the short link to verse 2. “Dream Forever” will be the track to listen out on the debut album when it’s released next year. The band completed their recording very recently, the highly anticipated album is sure to be a hit both here and abroad, thanks to their army of loyal fans in Europe. We were also treated to a very new song “Immortal”, ultra-tight, very heavy, very big- an album definite, even title track, according to the band’s Facebook profile!
Wrapping up with the awesomely heavy, monster of a track “Killing Time”, Black Svan left us begging for more. Black Svan will rock McHughs of Drogheda tomorrow night, 9.30 sharp, wrapping up a musically fulfilling 2011 which saw the band’s biggest Irish dates so far, Vantastival, Jam for Japan, Killybeggs Tattoo Convention to name but a few. 2012 is sure to be the year of the Svan, the Black Svan.