Michael Nelson
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Earlier this week, the Smashing Pumpkins released the fantastic “Tiberius,” the third single from their upcoming Monuments To An Elegy. As far as I’m concerned, that song was the single best thing Billy Corgan has done since Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. (IMO, the first two Monuments singles, “Being Beige” and “One And All,” were “so-so” and “quite good,” respectively.) Now they drop another, “Drum + Fife,” which is not on the level of “Tiberius,” but is at least as good as “One And All.” The cover art is a photo of a very young Billy Corgan (13 months old, if both his Wikipedia-reported age and the timestamp on the image are accurate). That was maybe the last time he played drums, right? Tommy Lee does the honors on the track; I’m not sure who’s playing the fife here (yes, there is a fife here), but knowing Billy Corgan, I’m gonna guess it’s … Billy Corgan. Listen.

I was just talking to the Black Market guys about how November has been a somewhat slow month for new metal when out of nowhere: a new song from Faith No More, and FIVE SECONDS LATER, a new song from the untouchable British grindcore/death metal gods Napalm Death. “Cesspits” is the first song to be released from ND’s upcoming LP, Apex Predator – Easy Meat. It’s their first since 2012′s Utilitarian, and it’s as filthy as its title implies. Listen!

The great alt-metal band Faith No More announced in September that they were hard at work on a new album to be released in 2015 — their first since 1997′s Album Of The Year — which would be preceded by a Record Store Day 7″ with an A-side called “Motherfucker.” (The B-side is a J.G. Thirwell remix of the track.) That song was initially debuted at BST Festival in July, but today, a studio version arrives. It’s probably intended as a warmup for the LP, and is thus sort of a throwaway for the band, but sonically and structurally, “Motherfucker” sounds like vintage FNM, owing largely to Mike Patton’s remarkable vocal range and attack. It’s not going to make anyone forget Angel Dust, but it might make some people remember Angel Dust, and it sets a pretty high bar for the new album. Listen.


 0Posted on Nov 21st | re: The Smashing Pumpkins - "Drum + Fife" (15 comments)

Yeah, I am saying that! But I actually don’t really like Adore, and the few songs I do like aren’t as good as “Tiberius” IMO. There are songs on Machina and even Oceania that I like more than anything on Adore.

 0Posted on Nov 14th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (52 comments)

Black Market bro Aaron Lariviere wrote a crazy-good Worst To Best on Swans actually:

Also they are one of Doug’s favorite bands, so he’ll probably chime in, too.

 0Posted on Nov 12th | re: Medicine - "Move Along - Down The Road" Video (5 comments)

Yep, you guys are quite correct. I’ve amended the post, striking this error. Thanks for the heads up!

 0Posted on Nov 12th | re: Stream Old Man Gloom The Ape Of God (Stereogum Premiere) (7 comments)

I have, but haven’t sat with it at length. I wanted to really immerse myself in this one before moving on to the next. What are your thoughts?

 +1Posted on Nov 12th | re: Stream Old Man Gloom The Ape Of God (Stereogum Premiere) (7 comments)

One of the best metal albums of the year IMO. I think the prank release is a little hard for people to wrap their heads around, even the people who are supportive of it — a lot of folks still think the “fake” advance was material not included on the two albums. But no question this thing is ridiculous, it hits so hard and has so many hooks, and balances that with a softness in the ambient sections. I love it.

 +2Posted on Nov 4th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (52 comments)

No, no — you are totally right. Well, partially right. But I didn’t say it WAS cynical and soulless! It just SEEMED to be. That was the perception. When Celtic Frost made Cold Lake, their decision to tease their hair and cake on makeup didn’t seem like an artistic progression; it seemed like an attempt to cash in on the metal style that was popular at the time. Metallica wore their street clothes on stage — that SEEMED real. Poison wore pirate shirts and waxed their chests — that SEEMED pandering. It didn’t help that once grunge hit, nearly all those bands grew goatees and stopped teasing their hair. Why? Presumably because there was no more money to be made in glam metal. If a band invests so much time and effort in its image, and then it changes that image as soon as it’s passé, then that band does seem a little cynical, no?

 +2Posted on Nov 4th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (52 comments)

Hey Joseph! Grunge is an interesting one because many of the early grunge bands were marketed to metal audiences: Soundgarden toured Louder Then Love with Voivod and Faith No More; Alice In Chains and Mother Love Bone were pretty much just glam metal bands from the start (look at old AIC flyers: “Alice ‘N Chains formerly Sleze”); Kurt Cobain hired Andy Wallace to mix Nevermind because Wallace engineered and mixed Reign In Blood, South Of Heaven, and Seasons In The Abyss. Also, those bands got a whole lot of their initial exposure on Headbangers Ball. But aside from AIC, none of those bands really embraced metal as a part of their identity.

Glam metal obviously evolved from traditional metal as well as hard rock like Aerosmith and AC/DC. I don’t think metalheads resented glam metal for anything in particular, it just became a binary: You were either a true metalhead or you were a poseur, and the stereotypical “poseur” music sort of embraced vapidity and excess. Also, the “poseur” stuff often seemed cynical and opportunistic and soulless. Like, bands who did that thing were perceived as being inherently insincere and willing to throw away their credibility for money and attention. It’s why everyone hates Cold Lake and laughs at old Pantera photos. It also drew a line between “hard rock” and “metal.” That was the first of a lot of such fissures that would follow, which kind of came to define the metal landscape.

Nu-metal almost belongs to a different species and is just misidentified as metal, the way people misidentify tomatoes as vegetables. As I said in the Kreator story at the top of this post: “There’s a through line that is constantly being drawn and underscored, telling us exactly how we got from Blue Cheer to, I dunno, Babymetal or Unlocking The Truth or Deafheaven or whatever it is that will come to define metal in 2014 and beyond.” Nu-metal doesn’t exist on that through line. It didn’t evolve from metal; it evolved from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Cypress Hill and Nine Inch Nails and the Judgment Night soundtrack. And I guess maybe White Zombie, too, but it’s not like the music or the practitioners talked about or placed themselves within the lineage. This is too broad to be sociologically worthwhile but it’s telling in some fashion, I think: In the days of glam, “real” metalheads aligned themselves with Metallica and against Poison; meanwhile, Slipknot fans align themselves against Juggalos (while “real” metalheads today align themselves against, um, Babymetal or Unlocking The Truth or Deafheaven).

 +10Posted on Nov 3rd | re: Taylor Swift Pulls Her Music From Spotify (79 comments)

I wonder if she’s gonna announce some exclusive arrangement with Beats/iTunes actually. That would be a pretty significant blow to Spotify.

 +11Posted on Oct 31st | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (52 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.

 +12Posted on Oct 31st | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - October 2014 (52 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.