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Five & Five on Friday, 11/3/2023
Playlists & Calling Plays
Happy Friday! Congratulations on making it to the end of the week. As you head into your weekend, here are five recommendations and then five micro reviews of albums from my high school CD collection. Maybe you’ll find something new to read, listen to, or do this weekend. See you next week!
Well, in spite of my recent pessimism about the state of Bandcamp, it’s their famous Friday again. And while that means that I have every incentive to put my Bandcamp page front and center today, I can’t say that I have the appetite for it. By all means grab some stuff if you’re so inclined, but I want to use the energy and space I’d devote to inclining you for something else. I want to start thinking about alternatives. I don’t doubt that some rival platform will rise up, but what’s a musician to do in the interregnum? Peeling back the curtain, this Substack has been a far more reliable source of income this last year than my Bandcamp. I’m extremely grateful to my subscribers, and I want to make sure that I show that gratitude adequately. Those two feelings, Bandcamp Pessimism and Substack optimism, lead me to wonder if I should rethink how I’m releasing music. Substack’s video functionality ain’t bad. I don’t know. Something to think about.
What I do have the appetite for is telling you about my upcoming concerts as a drummer. Tonight (11/3) with Dan Rico at Home Sweet Home! Tomorrow night (11/4) with Model Child at Alphaville! This coming Wednesday with Told Slant at Sundown! Next Friday with Laughing Stock at Windjammer! That’s three boroughs in two weeks!
I love a good chronological playlist, so I have to share this recent post from Stream N’ Destroy listing the most important metalcore albums of each year since 1991. I bet some people would take serious issue with some of his picks, which is half the fun with these kinds of lists, but I think Ryan Downey did a great job of capturing the broad arc of the genre’s history. That said, I would like to see what some of his honorable mentions were in the mid-00s.
When I’m not busy rehearsing, applying for jobs, or pouring live spiders into my brain by reading the news, I’m more likely than not watching NBA basketball. It is simply that time of the year (most of it). This is the eight year that I’ve seriously watched professional basketball, so by now I’m pretty fluent when it comes to watching and talking about the sport. Those early years were another story. Watching games with more well versed friends or listening to podcasts back when I first gaining an interest, I often had trouble following the action or the terms people were using to describe it. The game has a lot to pay attention to and a lot of jargon. I would have loved to have had something like the Instagram account like Basketball101 on hand with quick, clearly labeled in-game examples of common basketball plays.
This Halloween I rewatched Ari Aster’s Hereditary with my roommates for the first time since seeing it in theaters. That movie scared me out of my wits in 2018. I was nervous about the corners of ceilings for a month at least. I found it far less scary this time around, but no less distressing. I think a big factor in my changed reaction to the film is this piece by Sasha Geffen, which radically shifted the way I thought about the movie in the interim between the two viewings.
Now, onto the five micro reviews. Long time Lamniformes Instagram followers will recognize these from my stories back in late 2020, however they’ve been re-edited and spruced up with links so that you can actually hear the music instead of just taking my word for it.
Kill by Cannibal Corpse (2006) - Death Metal
Ah, the Tristin Thompson of death metal. Pencil them in for 10+ rebounds a game from now til eternity [Editor’s note: wow I sure wrote that back in 2020.] Since distinguishing between their albums is nigh impossible for casual fans I never felt the need to pick another one up, but I listened to this one a bunch. There’s a track on this one called “Brain Removal Device” and that’s a pretty apt description of the whole thing. Makes me feel actively dumber in the best way.
Alaska by Between the Buried and Me (2005) - Metalcore
The first album with the classic BTBAM lineup. I cannot tell you how much of an insane “level up” the title track felt like when it dropped on PureVolume. Apparently the “kids” don’t really talk about this one as part of the BTBAM canon anymore? Absurd. Abscond from my lawn. This album is great. The final breakdown is S-tier. The keys are tasteful. The short songs are the best short songs in their discography. “Selkies” is as good as advertised. My copy is signed by Dusty, Paul and Blake from when I saw them open for Dream Theater.
Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Will Live Forever by Explosions in the Sky (2001) - Post Rock
A stable of my “on the way to school” rotation in high school. That first hit in “Greet Death” was coffee before I drank coffee. Post rock really is a YA genre in its own way, isn’t it? This is probably my favorite Explosions in the Sky record. The Terrance Malick sample is such a great thesis statement for the band’s vibe. “A Poor Man’s Memory” is probably their best single-riff build up track, and the opening hit remains killer.
A Night At The Opera by Blind Guardian (2002) - Power Metal
I think Dan Müller of Wilderun played this one for me while we were at a Berklee summer program in high school. That was my first real introduction to Blind Guardian. This is the most maximal of maximalist Blind Guardian records. Not a second passes without a new melody or harmony. It is nuts. Honestly this has to be one of the weirdest sounding metal records of all time, all vocals, kick drum and lead guitar. I don’t know if it lives up to the Queen record it borrows its name from, but the Iliad themed finale is amazing, and the scope of the band’s ambitions makes it hard to knock them for trying.
Suspended Animation by Fantômas (2005) - ????
Absolute madness. One track for each day in the month of April with a corresponding illustration in the liner notes. Killer metal vignettes mixed with recorded children’s toys and cartoon samples. This album is a gas. Pure looney tunes nonsense in heavy metal form. Very irreverent and proto web music in a way.