Pantera “The Great Southern Trendkill”


Pantera The Great Southern Trendkill

Platinum Anniversary Albums

7 May 1996, Rhino/Elektra

It’s really difficult to pick just one but if I had to I’d call The Great Southern Trendkill my favorite Pantera album. It wasn’t the first I ever heard and it doesn’t have a lot of big hits on it, but it does have the coolest cover of all their albums. I’ll take that rattlesnake over the guy getting punched in the face on Vulgar Display of Power any day.

Honestly, I think it works better as a whole. All of their other albums lose me during the second half. Sure Vulgar has the great track “Hollow” as a closer and Far Beyond Driven ends with their cover of “Planet Caravan,” but I couldn’t pick out most of the other songs on the latter part of those albums. And I’m not even sure I’ve ever listened to the second half of Reinventing the Steel.

But Trendkill is solid from top to bottom. Right from the opening of the title track you know what you’re in for. BLLLLAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! screamed over the chugged guitars and pounding drums. That may be the greatest opening to any album ever. “Fuck it,” they seem to say. “We’re going all in.”

“War Nerve” won me over as a teenager with the line “Fuck the world for all it’s worth, every inch of planet Earth.” Honestly sometimes after a tough day at work I still find myself humming that.

I remember  thinking the guitar solo in “Drag the Waters” felt forced when I was younger. It seemed like it was jammed in there because Dimebag Darrell was a guitar hero and every Pantera song needed a solo. I’ve since changed my mind on that and love the song structures all through this album. Not only are the songs filled with the riffs and leads that they need but nothing is overplayed. Ironically, this sounds like a rather simple guitar album for a shredder as accomplished as Darrell. The riffs are simple, but goddamn are they heavy.

And it’s hard to ignore how talented the rest of the group was on this album. This is definitely one of Phil Anselmo’s greatest vocal and lyrical performances. From the poignant, heartfelt, somber melodies on “Suicide Note Pt. 1” to the throat searing screeches on “Suicide Note Pt. 2” the man runs from opposite ends of the spectrum seamlessly over the course of two songs.

And how could anyone forget “Floods”? It may not be the greatest song ever, but that is one of the greatest guitar solos ever. When I think of this song I don’t ever get the melodies from the verse or chorus in my head. It’s that solo all the way.

 

I’m not sure if this is a concept album, but some of the themes are repeated. I hear the words “Fuck the World” several times through it. And the desire to kill all trends is reinforced during the closing track “Sandblasted Skin.”

I’m not sure if Pantera just ignored what was going on around them musically, made a conscious decision to go against what they were hearing or just went into the studio and jammed out a great album. I know this was the beginning of the end for them as Anselmo was struggling with heroin addiction and working on his own away from the group. But whatever their goal or statement was, I think it’s safe to say they created a masterpiece.

 

Happy Mother’s Day


The best thing about having done a blog for several years is that I’ve already done the obvious songs for Mother’s Day. The past few years have seen the obvious choices from Danzig and Pink Floyd, but this year I had to dig deep into my knowledge of crossover punk/thrash to remember this great track from Suicidal Tendencies.

Share it with your birth giver!

 

 

I Was So Close…


Sisters_PosterArtDo you remember Snow?

No, not the crystalline winter precipitation that we see less and less of thanks to global warming, but the one-hit, Canadian rapper/ reggae artist.

I swear I almost forgot all about him. It was beautiful. For several years now I’ve been in a state of bliss because I never got his 1992 hit song “Informer” stuck in my head.

Then I watched “Sisters” The new movie where they feature that song during a dance routine.

 

Seriously, all because of one silly scene I get that song stuck in my head all the time now. I don’t know what to do. I’m thinking about suing Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

This has caused me some serious mental distress.

The Butthole Surfers “Electriclarryland”


71leqXunDtL._SL1050_2 April 1996, Capitol

Very few artists have remained on my MP3 player since I purchased it in January last year. Gravity Kills, Garbage, the Ramones, The Pretty Reckless, The Descendents, The Dead Milkmen, Violent Femmes and, of course, the Butthole Surfers.

It’s strange to sit back and think of the other artists that have come and gone over the 15 months and why these few have been mainstays. I’m sure some of it is just dumb luck. I tend to listen to my MP3’s on shuffle at work and my player overloads me with much Gravity Kills or Pretty Reckless. Otherwise I would have tired of them and removed them. Due to my new-found love of punk The Descendents and Dead Milkmen will probably be on there for another year and how could I ever tire of Garbage, The Ramones or Violent Femmes?

But the Butthole Surfers are a somewhat different animal. I suppose the greatest thing about the album Electriclarryland is the diversity. It’s not an album of one song, or even one genre, but an interesting collection of strangeness. I’m not a fan of noise rock. Bands like Sonic Youth and Black Flag have never been able to hold my interest. And the Surfers’ previous album Independent Worm Saloon suffers for being a bit too noisy. But they started mixing that noise with great pop hooks and continued down that path until they created something that does an even better job of mixing noise punk and pop rock than Nirvana’s In Utero.

Some of the noisier rocker’s are indispensable. Opener “Birds” and “Ulcer Breakout” are fun, full throttle songs that test my ability to stand still with the latter being a love song to engines that reminds me of singer Gibby Haynes’ appearance on Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hot Rod.”

I’ve never understood why “Pepper” was the single from this album. I enjoy that weird, spoken word, one note song; but I always thought the track before it, “Cough Syrup,” was far superior. Even “Ah Ha,” which appeared much later on the album was a much better toe tapper.

 

Paul Leary was never considered a guitar god, but maybe that’s just because not a lot of people have heard his licks on “Thermador.” With the great lyric “Everybody knows freedom, you’ll find it inside your head yeah/Everybody knows Jesus, he’ll be there when you are dead yeah” it befuddles me that this track never broke the top 40.

“TV Star” is one of the most hilarious songs on the album. A lovely ballad featuring steel guitar about being in love with a popular sitcom actress then ending it by saying his in love with another one… who came out as gay about a year after this album was released. I just wish I’d been able to publicly declare my love for Ellen Page in such a way.

And yet, there’s still room for some psychedelic noise. “My Brother’s Wife” is a strange track that doesn’t really do anything or go anywhere, but it is better (or at least shorter than) “Revolution 9.” “Let’s Talk About Cars” always kind of confuses me. I don’t speak French so I’m unsure if they really are talking about cars.

“The Lord Is A Monkey” is a semi-experimental tune with Haynes rapping. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite tracks. I don’t like rap much, but something about Gibby Haynes’ rap voice really does it for me.

And now that I listen to the album in it’s entirety and in order I have to say that the sequencing is phenomenal. The worst two songs on the album are at the very end. “L.A.” is another hardcore punk rocker that’s descent, but suffers from too much vocal effects. “Space” is a good outro. Just a few minutes of a slow, quiet guitar arpeggios followed by some heavy riffing. It’s not awful, but it’s not really worth sitting around for. “Space” is like the credits of this album. You can leave while it’s playing, and you’ll still have gotten your money’s worth.

 

The Problem with the Media


 

One of the things that annoys me most is hearing people bitch about “The Media.” It seems to be the most buzz worthy thing to bitch about. Your favorite politician down in the polls? Blame the media. People don’t share your political views? Blame the media. Donald Trump about to take over your country? Blame the media.

That’s not to say that the media is picture perfect and there’s nothing wrong with it, but getting mad at news outlets for sensationalizing trivial events and promoting popular topics is kind of like getting mad at a fish for swimming. It’s just how news works. It’s what made William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch millionaires. Get used to it.

There’s a reason they say “if it bleeds it lead.” Let’s face it, it’s interesting when people die. The media is not in the business of telling us what we need to know, it’s in the business of telling us what we want to know. If you’d like to change this start clicking on news stories about local elections and charities instead of plane crashes and the Kardashians.

I think many people get confused and forget that media is a business. These outlets exist in order to make money. The news isn’t an art form. It’s not some altruistic endeavor to educate the population as to what’s happening in the world and inform them of basic facts. The news is a product, like computer chips and tampons. The news is all these things and more available for only $19.95*

Sure, there are problems with the media. Most news outlet are owned by very few companies, but that sort of concentration of power occurs in nearly every area of American society and no one seems to care.

Also, many news outlets are extremely biased. This isn’t much of a problem as it’s usually pretty obvious. I recommend checking out several venues to get a full picture. I usually read stuff from Fox News and CNN just so I can see how both sides are spinning a story. I also like to check out news from other countries like Canada’s National Post, Germany’s Der Spiegel and Israel’s Haaretz. And with Twitter allowing me to follow feeds from all of these sources it isn’t difficult to get a well rounded picture.

And remember: Opinions are not facts. No respectable media outlet lies. They just twist facts enough to support their outlooks. You do it too. You’re doing it right now while you’re agreeing/disagreeing with me. It’s impossible for journalists to be completely unbiased as they are also human beings with opinions of their own.

Now go back to bitching about the weather.

The only journalist I trust

The only journalist I trust

 

*I stole this from The Dead Milkmen who said the same thing about Blues music on “The Blues Song” from 1995’s Stoney’s Extra Stout (Pig).

St Patrick’s Day


 

And now… the day where everyone is a drunken asshole! (Which makes it only slightly different from most other days). Only today we’re supposed to wear green and listen to Dropkick Murphys. Well fuck that! Let’s mix it up a little bit.

Icky Trump


Has anyone noticed that Jack White seems to have prophesied Donald Trump’s presidential campaign way back in 2007? Or did Trump just get his ideas for the Great Wall of Mexico from this video?

What else did we miss in White Stripes’ songs? Who’s “The Union Forever” going to be about?

 

 

(For those of you fortunate enough to not know this, Donald Trump is a real estate mogul/business tycoon/reality TV star/billionaire/horrible human being who is currently running for the office of President of the United States of America. His principal policy is to build a giant wall between the US and Mexico to keep out all of the illegal immigrants. Much like Nickelback he enjoys an enormous amount of popularity and support, but no one will admit to liking him.

I assure you I will be voting against him, but to all international readers who cannot, prayers would be appreciated.)