Michael Nelson

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Brutus – “War” Video

Drummers are often the most dynamic visual component of any given rock band, but they're almost never the focal point. This is the disappointing evolutionary…
Michael Nelson | January 23, 2019 - 12:28 pm

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Respire – “Go Mad And Mark” (Envy Cover)

In early November, the Japanese post-hardcore band Envy released a two-song digital single titled Alnair In August. I wrote about the record when it came…
Michael Nelson | December 18, 2018 - 12:24 pm

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Watch Rolo Tomassi Play A Towering “Contretemps” At Their Biggest-Ever Show

Rolo Tomassi closed out 2018 with a string of big moments. They did their second-ever US tour -- comprising 12 dates on the West Coast…
Michael Nelson | December 10, 2018 - 12:00 pm

The Armed – “Heavily Lined” Video

The Armed's most recent album, Only Love, came out almost seven months ago, at the end of April 2018. Six weeks later, we ranked it…
Michael Nelson | November 15, 2018 - 11:46 am

Envy – “Dawn And Gaze” & “Marginalized Thread”

If you listen to heavy music circa now, you know Envy. Even if you've never actually listened to Envy, you've heard them. The Japanese post-hardcore…
Michael Nelson | November 2, 2018 - 11:41 am

The Menzingers – “The Freaks” Video

I wrote about the Menzingers' last album, After The Party, for Stereogum's rundown of The 50 Best Albums Of 2017 So Far. Which was last…
Michael Nelson | October 23, 2018 - 12:38 pm

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Drug Church – “Unlicensed Hall Monitor” Video

Every time I hear the name Drug Church, I can't help but associate it with J Church: an incredible Bay Area punk band that came…
Michael Nelson | October 17, 2018 - 11:19 am

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Stream Slow Crush’s New Album Aurora

Over the last few years, I've written at length about heavy bands transitioning away, slightly, from what's typically defined as "heavy music" and toward something…
Michael Nelson | September 24, 2018 - 11:09 am

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The Crying Of Lot 55: The Unsolved Mysteries And Alternate Realities Of Andrew W.K.

Let's start now. Or as close to now as can be defined in this conversation, between the time and place I am in as I…
Michael Nelson | September 21, 2018 - 2:08 pm

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Andrew W.K. – “You’re Not Alone” Video

In March, Andrew W.K. released his new album, You’re Not Alone, and today, he releases a video for the album’s title track. That is why…
Michael Nelson | September 4, 2018 - 12:11 pm

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Counterparts – “Selfishly I Sink”

You don't need to be a skate nerd to know Nyjah Huston, but if you don't know Nyjah Huston, it's probably pretty safe to assume…
Michael Nelson | August 23, 2018 - 11:15 am

Dödsrit – “Aura”

Twenty years from now, purveyors of heavy music will talk about Sweden's Christoffer Öster in tones currently reserved for folks like Chuck Schuldiner and Quorthon.
Michael Nelson | August 17, 2018 - 2:11 pm

Drug Church – “Avoidarama” Video

You guys know the Hold Steady song "Stay Positive"? I love that song so much, and there's this one verse that always gets me so…
Michael Nelson | August 3, 2018 - 1:15 pm

Counterparts – “Monument” Video

I'm back in the office now, but I'd been in Cape Cod for the last six days prior to this one, and during that time…
Michael Nelson | July 25, 2018 - 1:31 pm

Code Orange – “The Hunt” (Feat. Corey Taylor) & “3 Knives”

Last year, the skull-smashing Pittsburgh-based hardcore-sludge unit Code Orange leveled up with their third LP, Forever. It was also the band's first release on Roadrunner,…
Michael Nelson | June 21, 2018 - 11:51 am

Comments from Michael Nelson

I still give a shit, probably more so than anyone else on this site in any capacity, but I definitely wouldn't advise anybody (including Slash) to wait around for this one. It's coming up on five full years since I wrote about the all-done-but-as-yet-unreleased "second half" of Chinese Democracy: https://www.stereogum.com/1685104/axl-rose-announces-chinese-democracy-sequel-remix-album/news/
+5 |
February 15, 2019 on Slash Confirms Guns N’ Roses Are Working On New Music
It's very sad. You stated it beautifully. GB have always been a really special band. I'll tell you a little story: When Quicksand were putting out Interiors in 2017, I immersed myself in a few decades' worth of Walt Schriefels interviews, and I noticed this recurring pattern. It seemed like he was never TOTALLY satisfied with his work -- Quicksand, CIV, World's Fastest Car, Rival Schools, his solo stuff, Walking Concert, Dead Heavens, etc. -- but he was always MOST satisfied with two albums in particular: (1) the newest thing he'd just finished, whatever that happened to be at the time, and (2) Gorilla Biscuits' Start Today. For Walt, that album just stood (and stands) apart: It launched his remarkable career, but to some extent it set for him a standard that he's forever trying to reach a second time. Still. And yet instead of RESENT that experience, he seems to CHERISH it. They all do. And they are cherished by their fans. GB play in NYC at least once or twice a year, and for a lot of people I think it's become like a ritual or a refuge or a reunion. It's really very beautiful, I think. I don't know what will happen next, whether they'll continue to play on stage as Gorilla Biscuits, whether they could or should. But I know they mean a lot to a lot of people. My thoughts go out to everyone affected by this loss. Anyway, quickly back to my anecdote. So, not long after reading all those old Walt interviews, I was writing something about the Menzingers' After The Party for our 2017 midyear list. Now, After The Party is almost a concept album about getting older and looking back at having grown up up in the hardcore scene and maybe having grown OUT of the hardcore scene. And I'd been thinking SO MUCH about how Walt talked about Start Today -- always coming back to it so many years after leaving it behind -- so when I wrote this about After The Party, I was thinking specifically about Start Today:
The truly essential hardcore albums are great not so much for what they are but what they capture: youth in its magic hour; the evanescent moment at which confidence, curiosity, ambition, and ability have reached a convergence point, colliding there with outsize excitement, idealism, and naïveté. That last part is crucial. The young artists behind these albums believe they are at the beginning of something. In fact, they are at the end of something else.
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February 2, 2019 on Gorilla Biscuits Guitarist Alex Brown Dies At 52
The best NYHC band of all time hands down, one of the best bands period, one of my favorite albums ever. I can't think of too many bands that have mattered more in my lifetime. I'm so sorry to hear this. R.I.P.
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February 2, 2019 on Gorilla Biscuits Guitarist Alex Brown Dies At 52
I actually think the tide shifts midway into "Oh Yeah," when he just rips into that godhead "Cortez The Killer" solo and goes supernova. Gives me fucking chills. Everything changes right there. And THEN he goes into "Pat," and it's all just ON.
+2 |
February 1, 2019 on Keep It Like A Secret Turns 20
Yes! The back half of that thing is a CRUSHER. But then I think: Part of the reason why the back half rules so hard is because of how the front half gets you there. Like, I get locked in on the very first riff of "Aisle 13" and then it's all undertow till it breaks and then it's a tidal wave to the shore. Idk guys, I think y'all have more successfully affirmed my opinion than shaken it, but mostly you've got me more stoked on ALL this music than I was before we got here. I appreciate all of it!
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February 1, 2019 on Keep It Like A Secret Turns 20
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvmEYgFsgyg
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February 1, 2019 on Keep It Like A Secret Turns 20
Oh my god you psychopaths, please stop embarrassing yourselves: Murmur (1983) Reckoning (1984) Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) Document (1987) Green (1988) Out of Time (1991) Automatic for the People (1992)
+30 |
February 1, 2019 on Keep It Like A Secret Turns 20
It feels irresponsible to be wasting literal hours of Chris' time on Gchat when I could be wasting all of yours in public, so I'll just say it: You In Reverse and There Is No Enemy are my two favorite BTS albums and I can't shake my belief that they are also the two best BTS albums. I feel CERTAIN There Is No Enemy is objectively the single best BTS album. HOWEVER I'm open to compelling counterarguments if ya got 'em. (NB: I already love and have always loved the '94-'99 albums. Obviously. You don't need to convince me of those albums' greatness, and even if I needed convincing, Chris' outstanding story under which this comment appears would have more than won me over. )
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February 1, 2019 on Keep It Like A Secret Turns 20
You ever see that Seinfeld episode where the gang is going to a dinner party, and instead of wine and cake, George wants to bring Ring Dings and Pepsi? "I got news for you: I show up with Ring Dings and Pepsi, I become the biggest hit of the party. People be coming up to me, Just between you and me, I'm really excited about the Ring Dings and the Pepsi!" That's pretty much exactly how I feel about In Flames. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouxmWDST-kI
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January 31, 2019 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – January 2019
Pretty sure Aaron and I first bonded over our mutual conflicted In Flames love/shame, and also that our endless enthusiasm for this subject served as the genesis point for Aaron's obscenely lucrative career as a metal-writer, although it appears evidence of this has been expunged from Invisible Oranges' archive. Or I failed to tag it appropriately. Sorry bud.
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January 31, 2019 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – January 2019
Just sent this communique to Aaron via email but it deserves to be shared with the column's readership: Can't believe you guys didn't include the new In Flames song! I love it!!! (I really do. This should not be confused with a suggestion that YOU or ANYBODY ELSE will love it. Or like it. Or not-hate it.) It's called "I, The Mask." It's the TITLE TRACK from their new album. Only In Flames, boy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0sujFluBlE
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January 31, 2019 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – January 2019
"Random metal band" = Brutus?
+7 |
January 25, 2019 on The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
Akerlund has gotten more mileage out of that week he spent in Bathory than Quorthon got in his whole lifetime. I think he played on two songs on their first demo? And then literally had absolutely nothing to do with the Swedish metal scene ever again? I doubt Quorthon even remembered the guy's name by the time the first Bathory album was recorded.
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January 25, 2019 on The 5 Best Videos Of The Week
"A perfectly beautiful sonic armegeddon" should be a pullquote in the album's press materials. That is EXACTLY what this record is.
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January 25, 2019 on Brutus – “War” Video
No "Slow Animals"? "Razorblade"? "11th Dimension"? COME ON. The dude writes bangers in his sleep! He's got a million of 'em!
+9 |
December 11, 2018 on Stereogum’s 90 Favorite Songs Of 2018
November releases sometimes fall thru the cracks? I can't speak for my colleagues, but for me personally that wasn't a qualitative exclusion, just an issue of general bandwidth. I was never a huge Daughters fan so I slept on the rollout, then read some stuff around the release date that made me think I should check it anyway, and then got swamped with other stuff before submitting my ballot. Point being, I've been meaning to go back to that Daughters record and now you've reminded me to do so. Thanks!
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December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
While we're here ... I linked it in my mini-list above but want to sufficiently hype that Colours Of The Mind compilation/four-way split LP, too. It's just outstanding front to back, but also, it really illustrates where this style is going, how crazy-deep it goes right now, and how fucking IMPOSSIBLE it is for any one band to stay on top for very long. I'd never heard of any of these bands before, I still don't know a damn thing about them, and now I'm invested in all of them. Just press play on any/all these vids, if you don't wanna click out to Bandcamp. (After you've listened, plz buy it on Bandcamp). I don't even know which one is my favorite, but Ghâsh is probably the most similar to Deafheaven. (Marunata remind me of Amesoeurs, and A Light In The Dark sound like ... the Notwist? Idk, you tell me.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6iAUM9k4lQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZf7t0mHLMI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqBq-27rRds
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December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
You're scraping at one of the main reasons why that Rolo Tomassi record was my AOTY running away, and maybe it's also part of what you "don't get" about them (yet)? So this is what I mean: Thou made five records in five different styles. Rolo made ONE album in five (500?) different styles. Rolo didn't come out like, "HEY THERE FANS AND CURIOUS ONLOOKERS! We know that you know that we (Rolo Tomassi), as humans and artists, contain multitudes. We listen to and want to create lots of different types of music! So what does that mean for YOU? Well it means we're gonna do an ambient record, a dreampop/shoegaze record, a prog/fusion record, a post-rock record, AND OF COURSE a record that sounds like Converge-core! Plz to enjoy!" Instead, they had the audacity/confidence/ability to make a record boldly and dramatically informed by ALL those influences (and others) as well as their own quite estimable back catalog. And (to my ear) it sounds truly fucking amazing and exciting and engaging and new. I loved the Armed record for similar reasons. On the other hand, this is also partly why I never really connected with the Panopticon double-LP. Why attempt to quarantine or compartmentalize the different shades and nuances of your own artistic identity? It felt a little defensive to me, and a little too safe, and actually even a little too clever, like those bands were trying to incorporate disparate sounds and explore a multiplicity of meaningful influences but dodge the metal-purist fan backlash that would have followed if they'd made big-statement albums that ACTUALLY incorporated disparate sounds and explored multiplicities of meaningful influences. They just felt a little formulaic to me, and maybe even sorta cynical. (That said, I love Thou and Panopticon, and I don't think of either one as formulaic or cynical in the slightest, and I'm almost definitely misinterpreting their intent or projecting my own issues on to their work or whatever. My apologies!)
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December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
Unreqvited might actually be my least favorite of the five albums I listed above (I think those are ranked in the order I had them on my ballot). It's still fucking great obviously. The first question I asked myself when I heard the new Deafheaven was, "is it better than the new Harakiri For The Sky?" And I could never get away from the feeling that it wasn't. (YMMV) No shame in that! It was fucking HARD for ANYBODY to make a better album than Harakiri did. That said, the Møl album, to me, is a revelation, and it's the most exciting thing happening in that "space" right now. I had a blurb written for it, which we wound up not using, but I'll share it here: Møl – Jord (Holy Roar) "Blackgaze": a nascent-ish hybrid microgenre splintered off from a popular niche sub-subgenre (atmospheric black metal) of a wildly codified subgenre (black metal) of a parent genre (heavy metal) that sounds absolutely nothing like "blackgaze." Backlash-ready assholes everywhere assumed the "blackgaze" deluge was imminent way back in 2014, after Deafheaven's Sunbather became a cause célèbre among Twitter dudes with strong opinions on Agalloch. It took a while, though, for the new breed to arrive. And lo, here they are. Møl's Jord is at the head of a hot pack. It's an album of pure blackgaze that doesn't waste a sonic second pandering to traditionalists or pretending to belong in an art installation. As such, it's better: the best bits, no bullshit. Maintenant, le déluge. Man, motherfucking finally.
+14 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
Dudes, I got nothing but love for Deafheaven, but I was drowned in great blackgaze-style stuff this year, and I threw all my year-end points to other SIMILAR albums that I liked more (which didn't make the 50 Best, perhaps making the absence of Deafheaven feel more prominent than it would otherwise). If you want receipts: I assigned points to ALL the following albums, all of which came out in 2018, the same year as OCHL. Listen to all of them! While you might ultimately disagree with my appraisal, you'll at least get a better idea of where I'm coming from. https://moeldk.bandcamp.com/album/jord-2 https://artofpropaganda.bandcamp.com/album/arson https://morteminence.bandcamp.com/album/i-iii-v https://pestproductions.bandcamp.com/album/colours-of-the-mind https://unreqvited.bandcamp.com/album/mosaic-i-lamour-et-lardeur Also, while not a "blackgaze" album, that Rolo Tomassi LP really left everything else in its shadow, for me anyway. And after I heard "Contretemps," it was hard for me to hear anything else in this style and judge it favorably. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9PQI6ztN7w
+23 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018