Michael Nelson
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If you go to the Facebook page of the old-school German thrash metal band Kreator, you’ll see updates posted from every city the band has visited on their current North American tour: Baltimore; Worcester; Montreal … And if you read the comments associated with those updates, you’ll see a whole lot of keyed-up fans sharing their excitement about either the show they just saw or the show they are going to see. But you’ll also see a decent number of frustrated lamentations and/or apologies. Lamentations, for instance, like this:

For many Americans, this year’s Mercury Prize nominees comprised a whole lotta “Who the heck is that?” I mean: GoGo Penguin? East India Youth? Polar Bear? Did any of those records even get a Stateside release? Yeah there were a few familiar names on that shortlist — FKA Twigs, Damon Albarn, Anna Calvi … Bombay Bicycle Club, I guess — but then you’ve got Nick Mulvey, Kate Tempest … Seriously, who the heck are those people? Yes, they’re accomplished musicians, of course, but besides that! Anyway, the winner of this year’s Mercury Prize Album Of The Year is Scottish hip-hop group Young Fathers, who take home the gold for their album Dead. I can honestly say I have never heard a Young Fathers song (not proud of this cultural ignorance, btw, just being honest with you guys). I guess that will change now! Young Fathers follow James Blake and Alt-J, who won the award in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Congrats! Here’s the list of nominees who did not win:

Last month, the young Danish band Communions released a song called “So Long Sun.” That song serves as the A-side of an upcoming 7″ — the second 7″ released by the band this year (it’s preceded by the Cobblestones EP, which came out in March). That’s the extent of the band’s discography: two 7″s released over a nine-month span. But “So Long Sun” is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year — it’s the kind of thing that portends a classic debut album. Or maybe it’s portends a quick, tragic decline ending in obscurity or lesser projects. I’m hoping for the former, obviously, but if this were a supernova moment, I wouldn’t be shocked. (Part of my trepidation owes to the fact that Communions remind me a whole bunch of the La’s and the Stone Roses: two bands who peaked very early, and left behind handfuls of tiny, insanely valuable musical gems amid a landscape of utter personal carnage.) Anyway, today we get the B-side that accompanies “So Long Sun”; it’s called “Love Stands Still,” and it too is really, tantalizingly great. Listen.


 +4Posted on Oct 31st | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (17 comments)

If you don’t think of them as nu-metal that’s OK but it’s not like the shoe doesn’t fit: 1999 was also the year Limp Bizkit’s Significant Other came out (“Nookie”); it was the apex of nu-metal. Both Slipknot’s debut and Iowa were produced by Ross Robinson, famously known as “The Godfather Of Nu-Metal” (Korn, Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Coal Chamber, Vanilla Ice’s nu-metal album, etc.). They prominently employ a DJ. They never “went soft” because the image wouldn’t allow it but Corey Taylor has released four albums with Stone Sour. And I’m not concerned with hardness anyway: I love Deafheaven! I’m also not concerned with popularity or obscurity: I love Metallica! I believe Slipknot came up in a hard-as-fuck place and had hard-as-fuck lives, and I believe that comes out in their music, too. I respect that. I respect that they have succeeded and continue to succeed. I don’t hate them, I just don’t like them.

And no, it’s not required that Stereogum writers only cover stuff they like or anything. That only pertains to this one column that comes out once a month. There’s a lot of great metal out there, so we talk about the stuff we find that we think is great, to the extent we are able. I assure you, no one else who writes for Stereogum likes this stuff.

 +4Posted on Oct 31st | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (17 comments)

I don’t know if I can answer this question in the space of a single comment — I feel like it deserves a dissertation or something; there are just so many contributing factors and residual effects. Basically, though, so we’re clear: When I said “a sound and an era,” I was talking about nu-metal specifically. And I think nu-metal almost across the board is just really bad music. It wasn’t JUST bad music, though: It was oafish and empty and whiny and pandering and styleless and bereft of any of the qualities that made metal a great, powerful, mysterious thing. It affected the health of the genre and the community in ways that I think have still not healed. I get angry thinking about it. I’m sorry I can’t give you a more detailed answer, though; it’s a good question. I assumed the answer was self-evident, but it’s really not.

 +4Posted on Oct 31st | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (17 comments)

I encouraged Chris to cover Slipknot in Week In Pop because that’s not really something we’d cover here. Not because it’s not metal or not noteworthy but because none of the people who contribute to this column like Slipknot. I’m happy to see a metal record doing well, but Slipknot are a product of a sound and an era that to me represents the very lowest point in the genre’s history.

 +2Posted on Oct 31st | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (17 comments)

Yeah, weird coincidence that we did so much black metal this month. I noticed it too, and was gonna mention it. I mean, it’s still a pretty broad array of sounds across that spectrum: I don’t think Primordial, Darkspace, Cult Of Fire, and Taake, for instance, sound anything alike. But you’re right to point it out.

I was gonna do ATG in the intro, actually! That was my initial intention. Just as I was gonna do a PE of the record. But time didn’t allow. I mean, you kinda know my thoughts: I love it without reservation, and it’s one of my favorite albums of the year. But all that comes with a ton of personal stuff, too, so it’s hard to hear it critically. Anyway, that was all woven into the review as I had it sketched out in my head. I still want to write it. Maybe for next month’s intro?

 +1Posted on Oct 29th | re: PCPC - "Fell Into The Wrong Crowd" (3 comments)

Yep, you’re right. I’ve amended the text above to reflect this. Thanks for the heads up!

Mudd Pudd was another Durst product. Guy might’ve had the worst ear in the history of music.

Totally fair, can’t argue. I guess I feel like some bands have adopted elements of LP’s sound and done good things with it. For instance, this AFI song:

Linkin Park don’t belong in that conversation. They are a horrible band but there are positive things to be found in their songs, mostly in the hooks. Limp Bizkit and Staind have committed crimes against music that I believe demand the highest penalty. Who was worse? On one hand, the grooves in “Break Stuff” and “Rollin’” at least qualify as guilty pleasures, which is more than Staind have ever managed. On the other hand, Limp Bizkit were sort of solely responsible for the existence of Staind, so …

 +2Posted on Oct 27th | re: Beats Music Being Folded Into iTunes As Download Sales Plummet (4 comments)

Maybe? I always felt the primary barrier for Beats was the fact that they didn’t offer a “free” ad-sponsored alternative to the subscription model. I assume iTunes will eliminate that paywall but who knows?

 +1Posted on Oct 21st | re: Cult Of Fire - "Vltava" (4 comments)

Oh wow, I think you might be right. Maybe it’s not a cover per se but elements of Smetana’s composition are certainly in this one.

Good ear! The other song on the EP is called “Váh,” and I can’t find a song matching that name in relation to Smetana, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that too borrowed from/updated/paid homage to his work.