Sunday, 31 March 2013

March Metal Hammer Calendar Challenge - Ghost

March's Metal Hammer calendar page features Ghost. I've been excited about this month ever since I started this challenge, because when I first discovered this band, I fell in love almost instantly, not only for their music but for their theatricals, their overbearing religious theme and simply their blunt name - Ghost. Anyone going by the name of Ghost must be revolutionary, right?

What. A. Band. Ghost are so unique in the way they approach their music. They've got this kind of 70s spark that's been lost in the music industry lately, and that's what I love about them. You'd almost expect them to have been brought up alongside the likes of Black Sabbath, but the great thing about them being a relatively new band is that they'll hopefully be around for a lot longer!

Ghost's identities are unknown. Their vocalist is known only as Papa Emeritus II, and the other members known only as Nameless Ghouls. According to Wikipedia, they've firmly refused to comment on rumours of their identities, and I love this defiance and secrecy about a character band, often when you find out who the real person is behind the face paint, it loses its spark. Comparable to early Slipknot before we knew the guys beneath the masks? Even their tracks are attributed to 'A Ghoul Writer' - these guys are giving nothing away.
I'm absolutely gutted I missed them at Download last year, but I'm hoping to rectify that as soon as they're touring somewhere nearby, hopefully with their new album.
As their new album is to be released next month, I only have their debut Opus Eponymous to review in March, but it's a hell of an album! Speaking of hell, if you're religious in any way, I would advise you to keep your distance from Ghost. They make no odds about references to satanic rituals, and let's face it, if you're religious and still reading about a band that dress up as cardinals with skulls for faces, then stop now. Seriously, stop, I'm about to review the tracks...

Deus Culpa - As instrumentals go, this is the best way to open this kind of album. Setting up the religious theme with the organ, I'm convinced I heard the same tune played when the Pope was inaugurated this month.

Con Clavi Con Dio - Catchy. As. Hell. You can guarantee you can't walk while listening to this song without walking in time with the bass. Also, I can guarantee you'll be somewhat well-versed in Latin by the end of this album. I can't guarantee you'll understand what any of this means, but it'll teach you an awful lot more than the ending to Evanescence's 'Whisper' did. Anyone remember what 'servatis a periculum, servatis a maleficum' means? Probably not, but if you've heard the song, the saying will stick in your head forever.

Ritual - Ritual is a lot lighter and more playful than the rest of Ghost's repertoire. To me, Papa Emeritus' vocals echo the 80s tones of A-Ha and Roxy Music, but he'd probably be insulted by the comparison. The guitar work in this song really reminds me of something, but I can't for the life of me think what it is. If anyone's reminded of something by Ritual, please leave a comment, because it's killing me not knowing! This is the one song I can't wait to see them play live, I'd love to be part of the atmosphere around them.

Elizabeth - An energetic track like Ritual, Elizabeth was their first single and definitely not what I expected from Ghost, it's all very optimistic in an obscure sense. The guitar in Elizabeth reminds me of early Metallica, and the use of the trademark synthesizer-esque keyboard in the background brings the 80s theme even closer. It's so hard to describe Ghost in words, I guess you really need to hear them for yourself.

Stand By Him - This is the track that I'd recommend to anyone wanting to start out listening to Ghost. It's everything you can expect from Ghost - powerful guitar, catchy lyrics, haunting vocals.

Satan Prayer - Satan Prayer is just the kind of song I expected when I first heard about Ghost, not just in its title and lyrics, but its sometimes remorseful tone and its likeness to Blue Oyster Cult.

Death Knell - Papa Emeritus' vocals are much higher in this while the bass is down low, and the contrast makes for one creepy track. It really makes light of the implied satanic ritual, even the tolling bells add to the atmosphere, I'd love to see them perform this live, because I can't see how Papa can keep a straight face sometimes.

Prime Mover - The guitar used throughout this song strangely reminds me of a slower interpretation of My Chemical Romance's Drowning Lessons, with the heaviness of Black Sabbath. Bet you never thought you'd hear a comparison like that, eh?

Genesis - The keyboard returns for possibly the greatest soundtrack-worthy instrumental. This wouldn't sound out of place in an action scene from Flash Gordon, in fact, the middle of this song sounds identical to Queen's track Flash To The Rescue, which instantly shoots it to the top of my Ghost favourites. And just as it closes, an acoustic brings a rural Mexican vibe. I'm emotionally exhausted by this track, but if a song can make me feel a million and one exhilarating emotions in the space of four minutes, it's a damn good song.

Bonus Track - Here Comes The Sun - If you've never heard a heavy metal cover of The Beatles, then this where you need to start. I used to love the Beatles original, and I love the way the organ fits into this cover as if it was always meant to be there. It's actually a lot lighter than I expected, I was anticipating an earth-shatteringly heavy cover, but they've stuck to the original very well while putting their own Ghost spin on it effortlessly.

So from satanic rituals through 80s echoes and arriving at rural Mexico, this album really rips you from reality and drops you somewhere you've never been before. When I first heard all the tracks, I felt light-headed for hours! I'm rarely so moved by music but Ghost have this kind of expertise that makes it impossible to avoid being plunged into their realm.

Would I go to see Ghost live?
OF COURSE. I'm dying for them to return to the UK on their next tour, because I'll move heaven and earth to catch them this time.

Favourite track?
Genesis, closely followed by Ritual, then Here Comes The Sun. I love me a good Beatles cover.

Would I listen to more Ghost?
Oh trust me, I intend to. As soon as their album Infestissumam is released in 9 days, I'll definitely be playing it. I have high hopes, Ghost, so let's hope you don't disappoint!

So if I haven't persuaded you to give Ghost a listen, I never will. But perhaps you'd be more interested in what April has to offer with Upon A Burning Body. Like Miss May I, this is another band that I've been convinced I'd love, but I've never had the chance to give them a proper listen through. All I know is I'm going to be gutted when these months pass, because I want to use both the Ghost and Upon A Burning Body posters and they're on the same piece of paper... Hmm, teenage music magazine problems.

What's your take on Ghost? Any album recommendations for Upon A Burning Body?

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Playlist For The Week #3

Alas, another week is over. This week I've probably been more busy than before, essays here and essays there. I'm procrastinating one right this minute, but through no fault of my own, I've lost enthusiasm, so in order to bring it back, I write blog posts.
So my playlist for this week hasn't been all that creative, adventurous or even startling, but they're all connected by their evocative, rather morbid music videos. 

Fall Out Boy - The Phoenix.
The video for this new song came out on Monday, and I sneakily watched it in my lecture because I was just too excited. However, the room was bright and my laptop brightness was down, so I assumed I was watching Patrick Stump writhing around on a table. I even tweeted that it was turning me on a little bit. I then felt disgusted for myself when I rewatched it that night and saw the cutting off of his hand. That's DEFINITELY not what I saw the first time around! I'm a lot less turned on by that now.
However, enough about the video, the song is just what I was waiting for from the new FOB album, it's a majestic return to everything I used to love them for - the powerful revenge themes. I'll be honest, I was a tad concerned with the release of My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark that the entire album was going to be dance-associated, like Patrick's solo career, but thankfully The Phoenix rose from the ashes and lifted my spirits again. These lyrics are up there with the best FOB creations out there, just the cry of 'put on your war paint' is powerful and evocative.

Alice Cooper - Bed Of Nails.
When I have a bad day, I put this song on and I instantly grin, regardless of where I am, on a crowded bus or walking down a busy high street. It's the most hideously disguised sex song, 'I'm gonna drop you like a hammer on a bed of nails', come off it Alice, we all know what you're thinking. It's the cheesiness of the lyrics that make it more amusing and suggestive, if he was skirting around the subject, I'd have probably kicked him out of bed by now.
Disclaimer: I'd never kick Alice Cooper out of bed.
Especially not after this music video.

The Used - Blood On My Hands.
In the wake of the MCR split (yes, I'm still rattling on about it), I've come to realise that my only favourite band is still together, and that's The Used. I've loved these guys for a decade and with every album they've only improved. I received some criticism over the FOB return that I was supporting their new material when it was clearly so drastically different from their old tracks, but having seen The Used's career develop, it's a perfectly natural progression for a punk rock band to end up making the music they do now, and it's fine, because I love their new music, I've grown up along with them and to ignore their new material would be to disregard the band entirely. They're still the ones making the music, they've not become different people. Anyway, Blood On My Hands is the track that defines The Used's change from the heavy emotional start to where they are now - heavy and after revenge.
The video is priceless too, if you've ever felt there was no justice in the world for people such as online predators or the people who exact revenge upon those predators, then you might want to watch this video.
I can safely say The Used are my favourite band because there's not one of their tracks I dislike, I can't say a bad word about them.
Except maybe that they haven't headlined a tour here for a while...

So that's it for hard-hitting music videos this week, what have you been listening to lately?

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ali Zombie Wears Band Shirts - KISS

I must have had a dysfunctional childhood, because I've listened to KISS as long as I can remember, and I never had a clue of their age inappropriate lyrics. I bought the Greatest Hits in my early teens and listened to it constantly throughout school, regardless of all the strange looks from fellow pupils who were too busy listening to 'real music' like Cascada.

Like most fans of KISS, their theatrical makeup and stage presence attracted them to me first, much the same as Alice Cooper, and for a while I couldn't see past Gene Simmons. We all go through the stage where we assume Gene is the lead singer, and it's a shame that you first disregard the other members.

Beth appealed to me most as a young girl who preferred slower, more emotion-driven music, and despite the song's message, I still yearned to be Beth - the girl waiting at home alone for her man to come home from touring.
God Gave Rock And Roll To You, coming from a Jewish band, was to be expected. I never saw the religious side, I simply took its meaning that we were born into rock and roll, it's in our blood, we just choose whether to let it out or not.
I was often found quoting Plaster Caster for absolutely no reason, I had no idea what the lyrics meant, but it was catchy and that's all that mattered to this young zombie.

My greatest memory of KISS is when I finished Tony Hawk's Underground on PS2 as a kid and the bonus level was a concert stage. With added KISS. Being able to skate around a KISS performance was the closest I'll probably ever get to these guys. I used to spend hours on end walking up to the Gene character and being effortlessly knocked to the ground by him, then idly standing on the drum platform as it shot up. Yeah, I found that amusing for some reason.

The next fangirl moment came in the form of Rock School, a reality TV series in which Gene Simmons takes on the challenge of educating a class of schoolkids to becoming a rock band worthy of opening for bands such as Anthrax and Rob Zombie. Not to be confused with Jack Black's movie School Of Rock, although almost identical, School Of Rock is missing a vital component, and that's Gene. I remember being glued to the screen for every episode, I was in awe of Gene Simmons actually being in a school in my country, and I kept my fingers firmly crossed that he'd come to my school, but the show only lasted two series. The first was shot in a boarding school with classically trained pupils learning the ways of rock, but the second series is the most memorable. Filmed in a school in Lowestoft, home to the greatest British band The Darkness, the second series brought to light a talent akin to Justin Bieber but cooler. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you - Lil' Chris.

If you don't want to watch Lil' Chris, then I think the thumbnail shows you all you need to know. Bieber before Bieber was Bieber but not Bieber because he doesn't Bieber.

And finally, Role Models. The entire movie feeds off the KISS culture and it's BRILLIANT. Paul Rudd singing his own unique version of Beth is enough to make any KISS fangirl weak. But the highlight is the final battle scene, which is quite possibly the best movie fight scene. Ever. Forget Lord Of The Rings, you ain't seen nothing yet.

I was even to be found wandering around Download festival last year with the Starchild and Demon face paint. A few Spanish girls even asked to take their photo with me. I'd love to find those photos one day. It certainly helped my friends find me in the crowd, but wiping it off that night proved quite problematic in a dark tent, and I only discovered the ominous black remnants smudged across my face on the drive home afterwards.

Are you a KISS fan?

KISS Shirt - Primark £8

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Monday, 25 March 2013

Playlist For The Week #2

Sorry this isn't posted on a Sunday as always, I was ridiculously busy yesterday! This week has flown by in a whirlwind of essay writing and helping out at open days, and of course the bad news which I blogged about on Saturday, but in case I'm overloading you with MCR grief, I'll only briefly mention them in this week's playlist.

Tom Jones - It's Not Unusual.
Yes, I did say last week that I'd tone down the cheese. But I've been watching Mars Attacks every time it's been on TV this week, so Tom Jones has been residing in my brain for the majority. I'm not even sorry.

Andrew WK - Got To Do It.
I can't quite explain why this appeared this week of all weeks, but I found the chorus dancing around my head when I was writing an essay, so for the sake of satisfying my clearly deprived mind, I kept it on loop throughout Tuesday and Wednesday.

Billy Talent - Fallen Leaves.
I've been having severe Download withdrawals lately because I know I'm not going this year and this saddens me greatly. However, I've kept my head high with Fallen Leaves, which reminds me of the drive home from last year's festival, I can remember driving through Derby to the tune of this as if it were yesterday.

Falling In Reverse - The Westerner.
Thanks go to Katie for reminding me how amazing this song is. It's one of those revenge tunes you can whip out whenever you're down and it gives you that empowered 'bitch please' mood. Works like magic, I'm telling you.

My Chemical Romance - The Light Behind Your Eyes.
For me, this song defines My Chem's entire career. The message that you should never let someone 'take the light behind your eyes' is insanely powerful in the light of their split. I could go on for ages about how much they've meant to me for the last decade, but that's all in my post from this weekend. No doubt I'll be writing another of those kinds of posts soon, but that's to be expected when a band such as MCR saved my life as a teenager, and to see that band disappear in front of my eyes through an uncharacteristically short blog post (and now a lengthy tweet from Gerard Way), I'm devastated to say the least.

What were you listening to last week?

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Saturday, 23 March 2013

So long and goodnight.

As with a few other bloggers, I was hesitant to write this post today. I daren't venture to Tumblr and see the teenage angst pour out in front of my eyes. But as MCR were such a massive part of my life, and still are, I couldn't ignore it.

Back in my first year at secondary school, age 11. I'd been listening to things like KISS and Ozzy Osbourne when I was younger, but nothing that appealed to my feeling of being lost in a world that didn't quite understand me. Then two of my closest friends introduced me to a band who were just about to release an album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. I loved the title, so I gave their previous album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love a listen. I fell in love with Early Sunsets Over Monroeville, the soft lull of a song that has a lot more meaning when you listen to the lyrics. Their style just appealed to me, it wasn't the kind of 'emo' tag they received from the popular press, it was deep, meaningful, emotionally driven and powerful. Just like music should be, to me anyway.

Three Cheers came out, and I spent countless days and nights playing it on loop, blabbing about it to friends and boring them stiff, trying (and failing) to doodle the album art, the usual things a teenage girl does when she falls in love with a band. What most appealed to me about My Chemical Romance was the way they presented death as a topic that shouldn't be skirted around, which is exactly how I viewed it growing up. I've never been scared of dying, I've more or less welcomed it as a consequence to all our lives, and MCR addressed it the way I've always thought about it. Helena became my anthem for my teenage years, and I didn't care that people thought I was morbid for it. I'd had rough times in school and I caved on a few occasions, but My Chemical Romance are the reason I didn't give up entirely. I never took it one step too far because I knew there was something to live for. Because there were people out there feeling the same way as me and they were powering through it. Because there were five men that would speak for us and show them that the best revenge is staying alive.

The Black Parade will always remain my favourite album of all time. This point in MCR's career showed us fans that we were a part of a community, even if we didn't fit in with the rest of society. Every single track on that album speaks for us, and lets us know that we can keep going.
Famous Last Words will too remain my all time favourite song, and I was fully intending on getting the lyrics tattooed this year, so while tinged with poignancy, I'll still be getting that done this summer. No song in my eyes will compete with this, I can't even begin to describe how much it's meant to me.

Danger Days came and went for me, while it was a natural progression for a band to start embracing the positivity of life, I wasn't ready for it, my life didn't allow for positivity. I carried on listening to the Black Parade. I was ignorant, I refused to believe that optimism was the way forward for my favourite band. I refused to believe that Bob Bryar wasn't there anymore. More to the point, I refused to accept that anything could improve on Famous Last Words. In the past few months, I had accepted the Conventional Weapons releases and really got involved with the new wave of MCR fans, understanding what brought them to the band in the first place. I never disregarded new MCR fans as glory supporters, they're not lesser people just because they didn't jump on the MCR wagon as early as some of us did.

I was sat on the bus this morning checking Twitter as always, and I saw someone had retweeted the words 'my chemical divorce'. At first I thought it was the usual play on their band name, so I scrolled down for more. Alternative Press confirmed it. I had to spend the next six hours helping out at university, so I tried to ignore it, but I was hard pushed to force a smile. I got on the bus home and burst into tears.

I've had friendships and relationships built on my love for MCR, one of the first things an ex boyfriend gave me was The Black Parade Is Dead! on DVD, and I watched it consistently for weeks. I've also lost relationships because others don't understand how I feel about them, and that's their opinion, I'm not objecting to it, but disregard of my own feelings about a band that's saved my life more times than I care to remember, that's not welcome in my life.

What hurts most about this situation for me is the fact I always turned down opportunities to go see them live with my two friends I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I always disregarded their gigs as 'too expensive' for a schoolgirl living off her pocket money, 'too far away', 'there'll always be the next tour'. There won't be a next tour now. I have nobody but myself to blame for that.

If you've seen Apollo 13 then you might remember the daughter who's found crying in her room because The Beatles have split up, screaming her hatred for Paul McCartney for breaking her favourite band up. There are all sorts of fingers that can be pointed in these situations, I too have my finger pointed at a factor, and that's time. Time and life has taken these four men onto different paths and while I can stay mad at that for however long it takes to get over it, it's not anybody's fault. I'll just be cursing the time-space continuum for a long time.

I realise how whiny this entire post was, but everyone who's passionate about music has a band or artist that has supported them through the times they've felt down, so I'd love it if, even if you don't appreciate MCR, to not leave comments insulting them. After all, this is my blog, it's about my opinions. I've unfollowed plenty of people on Twitter today purely because I don't wish to have spiteful hatred of my favourite band on my feed, like I said, you're more than welcome to your own opinions, but I'm voicing mine by unfollowing. We MCR fans are humans too, we have feelings, probably more so than most.

Of course, the old debate reigns that they could come back. We've seen it with Fall Out Boy, but they were intentionally on hiatus. The optimistic comments floating around will always say:
'Even if they never come back, just remember, at least they existed'.

So Gerard, Frank, Mikey, Ray and of course Bob, thank you for the adventure, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future. But if you're going to come back someday, just remember - sooner rather than later, eh?

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Playlist For The Week #1

I've been digging into the deepest, darkest recesses of my brain to find a better title for a weekly post, and this is what I came up with. Smashing, isn't it? A work of art. Anyway, you know the drill, a week goes by, on Sunday I tell you what I listened to in that week. It might be one track, it might be an album, it might be the most haywire, unrelated playlist you've ever known, but it's what's got me buzzing during the week!

This week, it's two songs and two versions of each. I have a severely bad habit of playing a song on loop when I've fallen in love with it, and even after a week of hearing it non-stop, I still listen to it more because I either haven't memorised the lyrics yet or I just simply haven't got bored of it. Then, I check if there are any covers to immerse myself in further. This week is testament to that bad habit.

The first is Read Em And Weep by Barry Manilow, but it was originally a Meat Loaf song. This is a rare occurrence where I fall in love with the cover before hearing the original, but still love the original regardless of my devotion to the cover.
Of all Meat Loaf's back catalogue, why cover Read Em And Weep? Not that I can speak for the Manilow himself, but I'd assume the reason is because Read Em And Weep doesn't have the cult following as, say, Paradise By The Dashboard Light or Bat Out Of Hell, so there's no real danger of offending the die-hards and there's still plenty of room to place his own stamp on it. I also think it suits Manilow's style a lot more, while the occasional references to physical intimacy don't suit his typical suave but chivalric output, I think it gives him a nice edge, something he should try a little more often, but of course, in moderation.

Meat Loaf v Barry Manilow?
It's a tough battle but it's not unwinnable.
Vocals - I adore Meat Loaf's emotive choruses, when he reaches the climax of the bridge, his voice reaches the old familiar Meat Loaf notes we know and love, but the Dead Ringer album wasn't his greatest vocal work due to illness, so that forgives his blunt vocals. But Manilow's version does exactly the same in it's own right. They both convey the emotion in the lyrics to the best of their ability, and in my eyes, they're absolutely on par. Personally I'd give the edge to Manilow for the way he extends his lyrics slightly, Meat ends his notes quite abruptly and I prefer fluidity, but that's what makes Meat Loaf and that album in particular so revolutionary.
Manilow's vocals really drag me into feeling guilty for hurting him. I really feel as if he's standing in front of me, pleading with me to look him in the eyes. With Meat, I'm rooting for him, pleading the girl he's talking about to listen to him and look him in the eyes. It feels a little indirect in comparison with Manilow's direct plea, straight from his heart to mine. Manilow's best lyric has to be 'for the memories still alive in the bed, for the lies we believed', he extends that last note beautifully, really putting some power behind it. Watch any performance of Barry's live and you'll see which songs he prefers straight away, he puts his heart and soul into his best songs and this is definitely one of them.
Composition - I'd say Manilow's backing singers were better, I didn't get the same spark from Meat's two singers. But giving Barry the edge would be a little criminal considering his version was released 2 years after, so he could adjust the features Meat didn't get spot on. I also prefer Manilow's instrumental composition, the soft solemn guitar contrasting with empowering drums and a lot of priority given to the strength of the piano, it flows neater, but that's primitive to every Manilow production, so that can't be pinned on Meat, because his version has 'Meat Loaf' written all over it.
Music Video - However, in the music video stakes, I have to say Meat Loaf wins hands down. His story is easy to follow - a man, a typewriter, a microphone and a girl. And the awkward two backing singers totally cockblocking the entire situation. 

As for Manilow - Barry and numerous topless men dressing up for a stage production, incessant cuts to an irrelevant woman strutting in front of a mirror, Barry comes out in full clown costume, face paint included, singing to a crowd of a handful of people including a clone of himself who sings back to him. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

That being said, the two are complete icons in their own right and their equally indomitable fanbases speak volumes, so it's very tough to compare. I've not been a huge Meat fan but I'm a Rocky Horror maniac so he's always been in my good books.

Another Barry Manilow cover from this week's playlist is Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, originally by BJ Thomas. 
The reason I like this song so much? This scene in Spider-Man 2. EVERY TIME I hear this song, I see slow-mo strutting Tobey Maguire in my head and everything's alright with the world.

BJ Thomas v Barry Manilow?
This is a dilemma, because I've loved this song for as long as I can remember, but the BJ Thomas original was the only version I knew existed, and I was introduced to the Manilow cover by chance last month as I scoured YouTube for his covers.

Bask in the artistic photographic montage. Bask, I tell you!

Vocals - You can hear Barry giggling to himself twice in his version, and the entire song is sung in a jokey tone, which I feel detracts from the meaning - nothing's worrying me, I won't let things get me down. To others I'm sure it makes it more light-hearted and comical, I don't have time to laugh at anything other than slow-mo strutting Tobey Maguire!
Composition - I have to give this round to BJ Thomas, because his is a lot less rushed than Barry's, as I said before, you can tell when Barry isn't keen on a song and it shows with this. In this case, Barry's not used the time between the original and his cover to focus on the improvements he can make, he's just covered it, and in many ways that's an admirable quality, because he's not sizing up the competition or looking to benefit from bringing the original down a notch.
As much as I love Barry, I have to give the edge to the original, but Barry wins on musical chivalry.

Of course, there are a fair few songs Barry Manilow has covered in his time, for example Journey's Open Arms, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time, and frankly, I love every single one of them. There's not one song I feel he's ruined.
I promise next week, my music taste will be more adhering to my stereotype. I've had too many run-ins this week passing fellow goff detectives who are blasting metal through their earphones and I'm strutting along to Barry Manilow. I have a few Ghost songs lined up in conjunction with my March Metal Calendar Challenge so I'll return to normal this time, I fully apologise if you don't like/care about Manilow. I can't help that I do. Believe me, I've tried.

Do you prefer any covers to their originals?

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Friday, 15 March 2013

Ali Zombie Wears Band Shirts - David Bowie

In true student procrastination style, I've been meaning to make a massive post on the band shirts I own, but I just own too many to cram them all into one post. So for ease of reading, I'll be writing a separate post on each, whose shirts I wear and why I wear them.

Today's the turn of David Bowie. This is the second Bowie shirt I've owned, but I've kept an eager eye on Bowie merchandise since I was little.

What is it about Bowie that I love?
To most, the response would be his style, his ingenuity, his lack of fear of standing out. For me, when I was growing up, it was his music. His completely alternative approach to anything considered popular in music became so popular so fast that the Bowie phenomena grabbed hold of me at a very early age. Although frankly, at that age, I was more interested in this man who sang about spacemen and life outside of the real world.

I was introduced to Bowie through the Queen duet for Under Pressure, and I was hooked on this man with a beautiful range and a haunting tone, luckily so were my parents, so my education began quickly.
I was absolutely enchanted with The Man Who Sold The World as a child and I formed memories as if I was really there that day, with the man who sold the world.
I had nightmares about Major Tom, and I still didn't get to know whose shirts he wore.
Starman became a lullaby that would calm me down no matter what mood I was in, but he still blew my mind.
I'd walk around singing China Girl without even knowing which 'man who wants to rule the world' he was referring to.
I heard Rick from The Young Ones quote Ashes To Ashes at a funeral and that's probably why I've never been let near a funeral in my life.
Life On Mars was my way of escaping the real world, plus the TV series of the same name brought a whole new meaning to that world - my favourite world, the 1970s.

Bowie taught me that wearing too much makeup was perfectly acceptable. I dressed as Aladdin Sane for my 19th birthday and a drunk man shouted 'HEY LOOK IT'S ALICE COOPER'. I learnt that being different was absolutely fine, yes, but above all I gained the greatest education in music from Bowie, and I doubt anyone will ever top it.

I always feel a bit guilty for wearing a band shirt that I don't know a great deal about, even though I make every effort to learn, but this one I'm confident I can wear with pride.

Bowie vest - Primark £8

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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Google Reader's disappearing - follow me on Bloglovin!

As you may or may not know, Google Reader is being removed on July 1st, so I'm in the process of slowly finding new methods by which you can follow Zombies Wear Band Shirts, as well as my beloved Zombies Wear Eyeliner. For now, I'll be on Bloglovin, but I'm sure I'll find some more social media shortcuts in the coming days as I procrastinate yet another university essay. 

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Friday, 1 March 2013

February Metal Hammer Calendar Challenge - Miss May I

 Hello and welcome to my 2013 Metal Hammer Calendar Challenge! Every month this year I'll be setting myself a challenge to listen to as many tracks by the band featured on Metal Hammer's 2013 calendar as possible in the month they're featured.
Miss May I February began on a high note in my musical experimentation, I'd been listening to bands I'd neglected since my teenage years such as CKY, and of course the long awaited (by me, at least) return of Fall Out Boy heralded night after night of Folie A Deux on loop. I stand by my claim that no artist could top Coffee's For Closers. But this month, I was in no mood for discovering new music.

The first admirable quality of Miss May I is their solidarity, they've more or less maintained the same members since they formed in 2006, it says a lot about a band that can stand together and support each other through a rise to fame.

Miss May I are signed to Rise Records, who have signed some of the best post-hardcore bands I've heard - From First To Last, Man Overboard, Memphis May Fire, Of Mice and Men and Sleeping With Sirens to name a few too many. They're the only record label I subscribe to on YouTube because I love their new releases, they brought my attentions to the likes of Misser and Hands Like Houses which have become permanent additions to my playlists, and that's a high honour considering my phone only takes 4GB of music! My highlight of Rise Records alumni are Isles and Glaciers, the supergroup combining members of Pierce The Veil, Chiodos and Emarosa, which I would highly recommend if you've yet to discover their EP The Hearts Of Lonely People.

I chose their 2012 album At Heart as my starting point for this challenge, mainly because the album cover appealed to me more than their previous two, it kind of reminds me of a cross between The Used's Vulnerable and 30 Seconds To Mars' A Beautiful Lie, bands seem to like evocative portraits of boys, possibly as subtle self-reminders of themselves growing up, who knows? Plus I wanted to change my tactic and dive straight into their most recent work to get a picture of who they've become today, so without further ado, what did I make of Miss May I?

At Heart - 47 seconds of instrumental genius. It embodies a kind of chaos between the instruments, a screaming electric drowning out a solemn piano. Good start, I love instrumentals.

Ballad Of A Broken Man - This is definitely my kind of music. A good combination of singing and screaming, I have a weakness for bands like Bring Me The Horizon. Their drum work reminds me of Machine Head, that's what I love about metal, the drummers work so hard, the dedication is astounding. I can see myself listening to this over and over.

Bleeding Out - What an opening 10 seconds! I love songs that keep you guessing to begin with - will it stay slow or will it kick in soon? I'm surprised I've never given these guys a proper listen before, they're really my style. Still a great balance between singing and screaming, which really gets me going.

Day By Day - Somehow this intro reminds me of Billy Talent, whether or not they'd be offended by that comparison is another story. But the rest reminds me of From First To Last and Trivium, both bands I've loved for a while.

Found Our Way - I may have just found a new favourite song. The intro is beautiful, the lyrics, everything about this song is just my kind of thing. I'm hearing a kind of Of Mice And Men vibe! I love the notes this ends on, I have a weakness for certain notes on electric guitars and while I don't play guitar so I can't tell you what notes exactly, it's the notes you hear at the very end of this song.

Gold To Rust - The energy this band gives off is electric, they really work hard and it definitely pays off. I'm loving their singer, he hits some great notes. I especially love songs that leave you feeling empowered and energised, and the way their pace changes through the songs definitely gives me that feeling.

Hey Mister - The intro at first reminded me of Weezer - Memories, to the point I thought my phone had shuffled tracks! This one's probably the catchiest of all the tracks on this album.

Leech - I love the way this band open their songs with a powerful line to set the scene for the rest of the song. The drumming in the middle of this song reminds me so much of Machine Head, it's fast, crazy and yet somehow effortless. I'm in love with the lyrics to this - 'parasite remove your teeth from me'. Some people don't like tracks that repeat lyrics over and over but this reinforces the rage behind the words, so I'm cool with it.

Live This Life - The competition for best intro has just begun with this track, the opening guitar played on my favourite chords as I mentioned earlier. I still love how Miss May I seamlessly merge singing with screaming, it really makes the transition a lot smoother, as it can be hard to get into a band that just screams, especially if you've not listened to much metal before.

Opening Wounds - Another contender for the best guitar intro award! I'm liking how the screaming here is a bit more toned down, not that I didn't love it before, but it's almost as if the emotions he's conveying break him down to a weaker position. Love the lyrics to this track, like Found A Way, it's depicting emotions that I'm sure we can all relate to.

Road Of The Lost - I was looking forward to this one because the title reminds me of Slayer's titles, and to be honest they're not far off Slayer in my books.
The growling's a lot more guttural than their tracks so far and I love it. More growling alongside singing, they make a great combination for this band, it's rare to find a band that have the two down to an art. Insane drumming yet again, I'd like to hug this drummer. He must be exhausted. Well, I'd hug the entire band, they're slowly crawling up my charts for favourite bands and only a hug can express my gratitude.

Second To No-One - Loving the word play title. I'm feeling a bit of a Mastodon vibe with this track, not that I'm complaining! Powerful lyrics too, these guys don't take the easy way out, you can tell how much hard work and dedication goes into every song, every single member puts their heart and soul into it. I guess it shows how they've managed to stay together with their original lineup, they're all as passionate about music as each other.

Siren's Song - An epic intro I really wasn't expecting, Siren's Song somehow made me imagine a slow instrumental. You can really hear the vocalists' ranges from growling to screaming in this track, they're destroying their vocals for their music, but I for one am grateful, because their music is growing on me like ivy. The closing to this track really encapsulated what I felt about this entire month - I knew the end was coming, but I tried to hold it off because I didn't want it to.

So that's all the tracks! I'm really pleased I chose At Heart for this month, it's given me a great first impression of Miss May I and I'll definitely be looking more into them.

Would I go to see Miss May I live?
Definitely. From this first impression, I'm keen on finding out when they're next in the UK!

Favourite track?
Found Our Way really stands out for me, and the same with Hey Mister. I just love it all. I really can't pick a track I didn't enjoy.

Would I listen to more Miss May I?
Of course! I'm glad I set myself this challenge already because I've discovered a band that are really my style. If you're starting out with metal and you need a band that aren't too in-your-face, then Miss May I should be your first port of call. I couldn't recommend this album highly enough!

Now February's over, it's time for March's challenge, which is Ghost. I've been impatiently waiting for this one! I loved Ghost this time last year and I was gutted I missed them at Download, but they seemed to slip off my radar for some reason. It's a shame their new album isn't out in time for March, but I'll be re-listening to their debut album Opus Eponymous throughout the month, so tune back in a month's time to find out what I really think of Ghost.

Do you like Miss May I? Favourite song?

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