12/24/2019

Powerman 5000 - Mega!! Kung Fu Radio


Powerman 5000
Mega!! Kung Fu Radio
(1997)

"If they ask ya' what, tell'em file under action"

Before Powerman 5000 went in an industrial metal direction, they crafted a unique sound like no other and defined the variety of nu metal at its core. They blended hip hop, their own stoner-sounding rapping, knockout metal grooves, funky bass, 70's metal style soloing, varied percussion, and more in a seamless mix. Incredibly fun too, perfectly both creative and entertaining. It's like Clutch making a nu metal album.

Mega!! Kung Fu Radio is booming with personality, infectious hooks, heavy grooves, high energy, and Spider One's deadpan delivery of abstract lyricism. What separates Powerman from other rap metal bands is how perfectly they play in both genres. They aren't just rapping over metal riffing, they're blending chunky metal grooves with funky hip hop rhythms seamlessly like they were meant for each other. It's a perfect way to get a metal fan into hip hop, or vice-versa.

I love this whole album, so it's hard to really highlight any particular song, describing the sound as a whole is a lot easier. However, Organizized, 20 Miles to Texas 25 to Hell, Standing 8, and hidden track File Under Action are some particular favorites if I had to choose. File Under Action is the purest hip hop track on the album, with a perfect use of a droning atmosphere and effective placement of guitar riffing and feedback that's made ultra-heavy whenever it appears. Spider One carries great flow throughout the album, but this is among his best performances.

The 90's were an incredibly creative time for music, and Powerman 5000 shows some of the best part of that for both the world of metal and hip hop.

https://rateyourmusic.com/review?id=109151039

12/13/2019

Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger


Soundgarden
Badmotorfinger
(1991)

"I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run."

People will often debate between Dirt and Nevermind as the definitive grunge album, but in my book it'll always be Badmotorfinger. Maybe part of that comes from that fact that I've practically been hearing this album my whole life, but it also defines grunge like no other album. Heavy, dirty, sludgy, it's a massive behemoth of an album, yet also off the cuff and frantic when it needs to be.

Song titles like Slaves & Bulldozers, Searching With My Good Eye Closed, and Room a Thousand Years Wide are not only great titles, but they just bring to mind images of some pummeling force before it's heard in the music. Drawing Flies is as grungy as you can get, bringing the definition of dirty and grimy to its literal form.

It's a perfect showcase of a pure band displaying their talents, no member really outshining (pun not intended) the other. Chris Cornell gives a fiery vocal performance, from the red-faced screaming of Slaves & Bulldozers to the venom spitting of Drawing Flies, he's the closest anyone's gotten to Rob Halford levels of intensity. Kim Thayil's signature guitar style permeates the album, with little being as iconic as Rusty Cage's opening riff (especially for anyone who's also played Road Rash). Ben Shepherd's bass licks can be deceivingly insane, particularly on the jagged and frantic Jesus Christ Pose, or helping a lumbering rhythm section (Slaves & Bulldozers again). Last but not least, Matt Cameron's drumming is simply a pounding force that cements each song into your head.

I could go on and on about how fantastic this album is, but I don't want to ramble. It's a genre-defining album, and one of the best metal albums of all time.

11/29/2019

Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill


Cypress Hill
Cypress Hill
(1991)

While Cypress Hill's debut lacks the ominous atmospheres that they would become known for, the band still already had a unique sound of their own. It's funky, not unlike a lot of hip hop at the time, but DJ Muggs is a master sampler which creates a really busy sound. B-Real and Sen Dog both have really unique voices, that I haven't quite heard elsewhere. B-Real's nasally and cocky delivery is filled to the brim with personality, and he can make gangsta lyricism fun as all hell. Sen Dog contrasts with an incredibly low and strained style, and the two play off of one another really well.

How I Could Just Kill a Man is a classic for a reason, but that's just the beginning of how many bops are on here. Light Another, The Phuncky Feel One, and The Funky Cypress Hill Shit are so damn funky that they immediately get your body movin'. Along with the aforementioned How I Could, Hand on the Pump and Hole in the Head are other songs that sound like a more upbeat version of followup Black Sunday.

While not quite the perfection of Black Sunday, Cypress Hill's s/t is a very close second and an essential hip hop classic.

11/07/2019

Live - Throwing Copper


Live
Throwing Copper
(1994)

'Gotta live, gotta live, gotta live, SHIT TOWNE'

Every time there's a popular music scene, other bands popular at the time end up getting lumped in even if they didn't quite fit. Live is one such band, who is often lumped in with grunge acts. While they can get pretty heavy, the closest they get to a real metallic grunge riff is during the bridge of single All Over You.

I've always imagined and described Live as R.E.M. if they had hard rock in their sound. Is it a coincidence that R.E.M.'s Monster of the same year has a bit of a hard rock influence? Who knows, maybe they heard this album and were inspired.

Throwing Copper was Live's breakthrough album, and it's real easy to hear why. Rarely a weak moment, these guys are master songwriters, every song on here is memorable in at least some way. Ed Kowalczyk's powerful and unique voice is definitely a defining feature, and his lyrics are a nice blend of vague spiritual themes and stream-of-consciousness (Think the lyricism of bands like Underworld).

The singles (Selling the Drama, I Alone, Lightning Crashes, All Over You) are all fantastic and well-deserving of their popularity, but deeper cuts from the second half like Shit Towne, T.B.D., Stage, and White, Discussion are among my favorites as well. Shit Towne should be an alt-rock classic, with a great hook that'll stick with you for days. Patrick Dahlheimer plays some great bass in the mellow T.B.D. before it crescendos and the semi-funky White, Discussion. Stage is maybe the song that sticks out the most, fast and heavy, it kind of reminds me of an alt-rock version of W.A.S.P.

Throwing Copper is a classic album in every way. If Document is the peak of 80's alt rock, this is the peak of 90's alt rock.

https://rateyourmusic.com/collection/Unitron/rating82034789

10/22/2019

Korn - Issues


Korn
Issues
(1999)

"All I want in life is to be happy"

While twenty years later, The Nothing presents itself as perhaps my second favorite Korn album, there's no beating Issues. It's one of those artist-defining albums, emotionally powerful and including everything that I connect with the band.

It's an album drenched in misery and sorrow, both lyrically and atmospherically. The bagpipe intro of Dead perfectly sets the mood, with the unsettling chanting of 'All I want is to be happy' combined with the defeatist lyrics of the rest of the intro. As with most Korn albums, Jonathan Davis' vocal performance really drives the emotions exuded. Somebody Someone and Dirty are a couple of the main highlights on this end.

Along with Godflesh's Songs of Love and Hate, Issues is one of the darkest metal albums I've heard. The two albums are actually pretty similar in some ways. Both are enveloped in this depressive and hopeless atmosphere, yet contrast it with fantastic grooves and hooks that keep it immensely enjoyable in any mood. Falling Away From Me, Beg for Me, Wake Up, and Counting all display this perfectly.

Korn has many fantastic and excellent albums, but Issues stands out as perhaps my favorite. It's one of those albums that just hits the perfect balance of cathartic and catchy.

https://rateyourmusic.com/collection/Unitron/rating69481545

10/19/2019

Tintin in America (1932)


Tintin in America
Herge
(1979 edition, Originally published 1932)

For the longest time I always thought Tintin in America was one of the weakest of the series, which makes sense considering it was only the third one out of 23 (24 if counting the unfinished Tintin and Alph-Art). Now after reading it for the first time in many years, I think it's a fantastic comic. However, as a Tintin comic, it is one of the weakest. When I first think of the Tintin series, I think of the classic characters with strong contrasting personalities, Hitchcock-esque suspense, and sinister villains who seem deeply-rooted in their world with many contacts. The trio of Tintin, Captain Haddock, and Professor Calculus is an iconic combo of characters that defines the series and their distinct personalities play off of one another really well.

As Tintin and his dog Snowy are basically the only main characters at this point, Tintin in America lacks all of that. However, taking it on its own merits, it's incredibly enjoyable. It's so fast paced, that there's no room for suspense and character development, but there's no need for any with how the story is structured. The plot is hilariously absurd, the idea of a single freelance journalist being able to take down the entire gangster circuit in 1930's Chicago is both far-fetched and flat-out funny. It all fits though, because with the snappy pace, the absurdity works wonders.

A perfect example of the pacing is right at the beginning, Tintin just arrives in Chicago and is immediately led into a gangster trap. It never lets up, each page will usually have some gangster's attempt to snuff him out. It's hard to tell if the gangsters are really incompetent, if Tintin is just really lucky, or if he's just ridiculously sneaky. Whatever the case, it just adds to the comedic qualities. It's a rare case of a book begging for a film adaption, as this would work perfectly as an over-the-top "cops and robbers" kind of film.

The worst part is the misleading cover artwork. It implies that it's mainly him with Native Americans, but that only takes up a small part of the comic, when one of the gang leaders (Bobby Smiles, what a name) escapes into the west and tricks the Americans into thinking that Tintin is one of their enemies.

If someone's never read a Tintin comic and is looking for a place to start, this is not a good starting point. I would say The Crab with the Golden Claws is a good introduction, introducing Captain Haddock. That or The Calculus Affair, which is where all the characters, suspenseful plots, and the world were really perfectly defined. It was the first I read and perhaps my favorite. However, as just an entertaining stand-alone comic, Tintin in America is an exciting and often hilarious time.

The Crystal Method - Vegas


The Crystal Method
Vegas
(1997)

"Why can't you trip like I do?"

When it comes to creating an atmosphere, The Crystal Method is one of the best. Few albums bring you inside a futuristic nightclub as much as Vegas, a world with speeding cars on barren highways, the only streetlights being flashing neon signs, electronic bleeps and beats surround the universe, and everything about it just exudes the vibe of bustling city nightlife.

The album has a great flow, and is made for complete listening. However, songs like Cherry Twist, High Roller, Jaded, and Vapor Trail are especially fantastic and show off best what this album is all about. It's nocturnal without ever sounding dark or menacing in any way. It embraces the sound of midnight drives and should be the soundtrack for either a film or a racing game that centers itself around the same subject.

It's hard to describe the music itself when it comes to The Crystal Method, because they give you more of an experience in the world they create more than anything.

Originally posted here: https://rateyourmusic.com/review?id=116148390

Welcome to the Wicked Nest

I'm a lover of entertainment, which can come in the form of books, music, film, television, video games, visual arts, or whatever.

The Wicked Nest (Named after the album by thrash metal band Helstar) is simply a blog for writing my thoughts on the aforementioned subjects whenever the mood hits. It started as solely a place for music reviews, but my style of writing has changed so I've removed my old reviews. Since half-abandoning this blog, I've posted my since written music reviews over on RateYourMusic, and will post a few choice reviews from there to restart things off here, but you can just read them over there if interested.

If you happen to stumble across this blog, I hope you enjoy the random meanderings.