Monday, August 31, 2015

Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore

I didn't mean to read this again. I just sort of did it. I was looking for something music related and I figured it'd been a while since I had read this so I cracked it open and it was consumed rather quickly thereafter.

I didn't realize that it was ten years old. Death Metal stops at 2003. Pretty odd to read in 2015 and not hear about what's been going on for the last dozen years. I really should have purchased the newly re-released version which has a bunch of updates. Oh well. I guess I'll just wait another decade and buy the next iteration. ;)

I hope you like Napalm Death, boyeee. Cuz this book is centers Death and Grind firmly around the boys from Birmingham. Somehow they're the center of the metal universe. Ah well.

The book is good, though. It's definitely got a narrow focus. Albert chooses to hone in on about ten very important, seminal death metal bands and follow their evolution over a decade or so. Repulsion, Death, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Entombed, Carcass, Napalm Death, Nile...they're the main players in this story for sure. Plus some others of course. Plenty of cameos from NY, Florida, Cali, and Sweden. There are a million bands you could say "why didn't they talk about so-and-so more", but for me the biggest omission was Bolt Thrower. They have a few mentions in there but to me they could have been another 'big' band to follow their trajectory. Whatever. I didn't write the damn book so I can't complain.

It's gotta be hard to try and write a book of this scope. Ultimately narrowing the focus and crafting a story from characters, rather than a laundry list of releases and dates, was the way to go. It reads well. It bounces back and forth across the pond easily. I remember reading a book on the history of Swedish Death Metal and it felt more like a text book of "this band did this, then this band released that, then this demo came out, then this guy picked his nose on this date." It didn't flow. It was too comprehensive. Of course, I'll read it again, but still, it didn't have the flow that Choosing Death does.

This is a solid read and my only regret is that I should have ponied up the cash to buy the updated and expanded edition and read about the last ten years of DM and Grind. Maybe one of my boys will buy it and then I can borrow it and read those new chapters. ;)

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Erdody found this on Amazon for cheap. I popped on and snagged a copy for myself. This collection of Pennington paintings includes a print of the one Temple of Void used for our album. It's entitled "Twilight" and was originally used for a H.P. Lovecraft collection. I copped one of those from Amazon, too.

This is a GREAT freaking book. It's cool because it talks a little about Bruce's technique and biography. So you get some good additional info on top of just looking at the incredible paintings. But by and large it's just a book of his images. Each section is prefaced by a few pages of commentary.

If you like fantasy art...pick this up.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton

Truth: I'd never heard of Stones Throw Records. I knew of Peanut Butter Wolf (the owner), though. I first heard him on the original Return of the DJ comp many many moons ago. He's a dope, world renowned DJ. Evidently he has a label that's been going strong for twenty years. He put out the J Dilla "Donuts" record that really shook things up. But anyway...

This is a doc about his label and it features interviews with some famous cats like Kweli, Kanye, Common, and Madlib. And lots of appearances by dudes that are totally off my radar. (Not that Kanye and Common are no my radar; fuck Kanye.) 

It's pretty cool to see how this label and a lot of these releases came together. Detroit represents on more than one hefty occasion.

This doc is well done and anyone who's into underground hip hop will definitely dig it. But if that's not your thing at all...I wouldn't really watch this. I don't think it's quite as transcendent as say the last doc I watched, No No.

Mad respect to PBW. He runs the label the right way...

(Breakestra are a Stones Throw Records alum. This album isn't on Stones Throw, but it's dope.)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

This is Spinal Tap

We've all seen Spinal Tap. But it's been a few years for me so I gave it another viewing today.

It still holds up. It's still classic. Stonehenge still makes you laugh. It's Spinal Tap. What else is there to say? Stream it on Netflix.

Friday, August 7, 2015

No No: A Dockumentary

God damn, I hate baseball. But I love a good doc. And the true definition for me of a good documentary is when the Director can make a viewer fascinated with a subject had zero interest or even total contempt for. This is one of those docs that transcends your biases or personal interests.

If you love baseball, you'll love this. No question. If you think baseball is a boring ass pastime for fat, lazy "athletes" like I'll still love it.

I was intrigued because the synopsis sucks you in by stating that Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while high as a kite on LSD. Say what? But what you get is far more than a crazy ass drug story about one infamous day in California. This is a Dock Ellis documentary about his career, his ups, downs, (including uppers and downers) and his inspirational legacy. The dude was the Mohammad Ali of baseball. No doubt about it. The guy was bad as fuck. And after watching this doc I highly respect the guy. I certainly don't agree with his use of cocaine and whatnot (and ultimately his drug use became a personal regret that he turned around to help inspire others NOT to follow in his amphetamine-fueled lifestyle). But I have mad respect for him as an individual, as a team-player, and as a humble, bad-ass selfless, motherfucker. Dude was a game-changer.

The soundtrack to this movie is off the hook. Hawkwind, Death (Detroit), and tons of rad instrumental funk composed by Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys. I hopped online to snag a copy of the soundtrack but it's not for sale. It just didn't get released. That's a real shame cuz it's dope as fuck.

You can stream this on Netflix. You should. It's awesome.

Managing in China: The Truth about Cultural Differences in the Chinese Workplace

I'm interested in learning about cultural differences between Chinese and US companies to help better our relationship with our Chinese partners. This should be patently obvious as the title is pretty self-explanatory. So I did a little research and I purchased an e-copy of this today and read it real quick. It's the kind of thing you can get through on your lunch hour. 

It's brief, so there's only so much you can get out of it. However, it was well-worth the $4.99 and hour of my time. I think it might actually pay back significant dividends. I've been noodling on some ideas to help improve employee retention overseas and this book has definitely sparked some ideas for me.  I'm increasingly aware of what to expect from China, but this book helped me understand WHY I should expect what I see. Just understanding the root cause is more than half the battle.

So while this won't turn you into a Chinese/US relationship expert overnight, it definitely helped me get one rung closer to being more empathetic, understanding, and ultimately effective in dealing with Chinese nationals in a business environment.

You can get it on Amazon.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal

Sometimes I just want to veg-out to some heavy metal books, magazines, and movies. It happens a lot. But I've read and watched so god damn many of them I don't have many quality ones left. In my thirst for something of this nature I revisited Get Thrashed. It's a dvd I own but haven't watched since it came about about five years ago.

Rat Skates (drummer from Overkill) is the man behind the movie. He takes you on an international journey touching on many of the titans of the genre. From the Bay Area and LA scenes on the west coast all the way to Germany and Japan and right back again. He covers all the expected culprits through archival footage, never-before-seen photos, and lots of interviews conducted just for this doc. The production value is pretty damn good. It's not amazing, but it's definitely better than a kick in the nuts. It's definitely a job well done.

If you're interested in thrash (of course you are) then this is a very entertaining watch. It's purely historical. It's just talking heads pontificating and telling anecdotes about partying with Paul Baloff or  having Slayer play in your back yard. Cool shit like that.

Steven Blush is a freakin weirdo. Ian Christie is pretty cool. Katon W. DePena has a ton of energy. And Bobby Blitz is just one OG motherfucker.

You can find the whole thing up on YouTube I think. Dig it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Antics Roadshow

I'm sure you're all wondering why the hell I haven't posted a new book or movie in a while. It's cuz I'm currently reading three books at once. Two of them are over 900 pages long. All three can be read concurrently because they are short stories or non-fiction. I'm pecking my way through them and when they're done, they're done. As for movies, I was watching Sherlock (which is 90 minutes an episode), and I started to get into Daredevil. So that was taking up time, too.

The Antics Roadshow is a 47 minute documentary by Banksy. It's about artists and demonstrators subverting authority, standing up for (mostly) righteous causes, and generally causing disruption and bringing public awareness to fucked up governmental or corporate situations. They use comedy, they use subversion, sometimes they use cream pies. It's a quick watch and wholly entertaining. It's great to watch such self-empowered people standing up for what they believe in, even against ridiculous odds. Hats off to them all.