Friday, May 26, 2017

Celebrate the small things: a bit of greenery

Cities are not typically associated with trees. I know most cities have parks and they have trees, but, for me anyway, when I think of cities I think of tall buildings and lots of cars of people. Noise, street signs, advertising, busyness etcetera, which I think is the reason I like Darwin. Darwin doesn't really feel like a city.

There are tall buildings: offices, hotels and apartments, and there are cars and people, but not many. It's pretty quiet all around. It's also quite green. Our street, which is a short narrow one running between two main streets, has trees and even a grass verge to separate the sidewalk from the road. The two aforementioned streets are lined with trees, serious trees: large and leafy ones which overhang the road and provide shade for the smokers.

Darwin is a green city. During the dry season ubiquitous built-in irrigation systems sustain the faunic (another new word there - when will this end?) thirst, and of course when the rains come, the city shifts to a whole new level of green.

Finally, this week, I am thankful for the arrival of green into our apartment. Jessie decided we needed some plants on the balcony because, she said, it will help keep the apartment cool - even though that's what the air conditioning is for (I didn't say). I like the plants because they make this place feel like a home instead of a hotel apartment.

I reckon out of everything you can do to make a house feel like a home, adding plants is right up there. What do you think?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Celebrate the small things: Would you like a beer with your haircut?

Before any of you smarty pants want to comment about my lack of hair and the therefore completely redundant need for me to visit a hairdresser, I should tell you that the guy at the salon we visited had the same cut as me and he insisted that his girls 'layered it' for him, and told him it looked good.

Jessie Rose was the one who booked a haircut at HD Hair Studio in Smith St, Darwin. Reluctantly I accepted her invitation to accompany her, comforting myself with the thought that I would be able to get some reading done while Jessie had her wash, blow and cut.

Upon our arrival at the salon, we were greeted by the aforementioned handsome fellow, who offered us a seat and a drink. Water, coffee, tea, wine or beer? I looked at him wondering if he knew he was in a hair salon not a bar. 'It's complimentary,' he said. 'Yes,' I replied with excessive enthusiasm - because I like beer and 'free' is my favourite price. I have never heard of complimentary alcoholic beverages at hair salons, but I rarely visit them, so perhaps HD is not unique.

I had two free beers (Millers Chill with lime) while I read The Count of Monte Cristo on my phone and listened to a selection of 80s classics. 

I have never had a more enjoyable visit to a hairdresser and they didn't even touch my head. It cost $90 which Jessie assured me was a reasonable price, and she was happy with the cut so it was all good. Everyone's a winner, baby!

What's the service like where you get your hair done?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Perfect Timing

Author Jeffery J. Smith  will be awarding a digital copy of Perfect Timing to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Title: Perfect Timing
Author: Jeffery J. Smith
ISBN: 978-1-62420-321-3
Genre: Sci-fi
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1

Accidentally sucked from the present, caterer Crik must prove he started the trend that led to the future’s utopia—or be returned to waiting bullets.

 Accidentally transported to the future, caterer Crik escapes house-arrest with Tepper, his possible distant descendant. While pursued by volunteer vigilante Voltak, goofball Crik explores Geotopia—where buildings grow, people incorporate animal powers, smart phones know it all, and vehicles defy gravity—seeking clues. If he can discover, understand, and articulate the future’s public policy that works right for everybody, he can prove he was their founder, the lone agent of change who put society on its path toward universal prosperity and harmony with nature. If he fails to convince the Futurite Authorities, they wouldn’t return their unexpected visitor to the exact second he left—something their law requires—to the moment when a hail of gunfire was bearing down on the luckless caterer and college dropout...would they?
 The image of a bellhop perches first on one leg then the other by the edge of a roof of a downtown skyscraper. Gazing downward, with both hands he raises a golf club over his head. The scene occurs on a large monitor.
Far below, the people look like a school of minnows flitting across the downtown central plaza. Others resemble tufts of beach grass clumped around street performers break dancing or juggling. The bellhop arches his back.
In a darkened laboratory, two wide-eyed technicians wearing white coats watch the monitor. In grainy color, the young man bends and stretches. Mouths agape, the viewers take notes and wipe their brows.
"This is your candidate?" the taller researcher says. "This golfer? Crik Duvall?"
The shorter one nods. "He's a bellhop, too."

~ * ~

At the wall atop the city's tallest hotel, Crik in the hotel's uniform lowers his club. The height does not frighten him, rather, the view always intrigues him. People sure look little, Crik thinks. Must be how landlords see us.
Crik takes a few practice swings. He steps back from the edge and tees up. He drives a Whiffle golf ball into the air without a hitch. The headwind blows the hollow ball back to him. He catches it. Yes! He replaces the plastic ball on the tee — yo-yo golf.
Lifting his bellhop cap, Crik runs his fingers through bleached streaks. Yo-yo golf will challenge enthusiasts of all nations, even become an Olympic event. I could pay down my tuition. Even help Randy with his debt. How dumb, messing with dudes from the vodka importers convention. What'd he know about ostrich racing anyway?
Crik's knuckles are tattooed with esoteric symbols. A stud twinkles in one ear but no weighty choker worries his swing. He's up to twenty-three straight successful drives-then-catches, closing in on his personal best.
The word "Fore!" rings out from a phone in his pocket, but he ignores it.
Steadying himself, Crik cocks his club for another swing and drives the white ball into the onrushing breeze.
Crik blinks. The plastic dot sails past him, into the void. Zippers.
"Whenever you don't answer your phone, I know where to find you."
Crik looks over his shoulder, resting the club on his other one.
Randy lets the door close behind him. "My man, break be over." Also a bellhop, Randy has his cap is on backwards. As he crosses the roof, his body lags behind his head, his neck nearly level.
Like offering his empty melon to a guillotine, poor sucker. Crik takes out a twenty-dollar bill. "Another big date before next payday, bro?"
"Man, you are like family." Randy takes the note.

~ * ~

"'Crik'. That short for cricket?" People always ask.
No, Crik was named Crik because Brook was already taken; his older brother got named that.
"Oh, I get it," the hotel manager said when interviewing Crik, "Creek."
Crik nodded. His hair waved, didn't curl, despite him being the black sheep of the family. "Yeah, Crik."
Crik is too busy to finish college. How many decades would it take to pay off the student loan — a necklace of stone — anyway? Especially with good friends unable to budget themselves. Better to have a fun job. Make money and enjoy life.

~ * ~

In the gloomy laboratory, tall Dr. Alvin Ultra and his short assistant Yuri Ivanov, both middle-aged, emit gasps and wag their heads, jotting down notes.
The monitor, thin as a sheet, hangs from a ceiling in a high corner. It's cabled to a device shaped like an oversized dog biscuit with a sharp point like a syringe, big as a sled, some parts shiny, some opaque. Colored wires twist and run to other odd-shaped devices that whir and jerk.
Crik hides his club on the ledge beyond the perimeter wall.
Dr. Ultra glances at Yuri. "Neither of these two has indicated any interest in social evolution, never mind founding an entirely new way of viewing the world."
Under his beret and bushy eyebrows, Yuri shrugs. "Destinon said to check out this moment."

~ * ~

The two bellhops enter the hotel's darkened conference hall. It's packed like a tent revival on the eve of the Second Coming. Of course. Who hates money?
Strains of Wagner's majestic movements accompany the big-screen video of unabashed luxury: Acres of vineyards remind Crik of the south of France where he'd backpacked one summer. A sleek car barely looking street-legal swerves through hills.
"Tesla Roadster," Crik whispers to Randy. "0 to 60 in 3.7."
On the screen, a limousine grand enough for comfortably hosting small celebrations sits in the driveway of a mansion with the long lines of Frank Lloyd Wright draped over a seaside cliff. Inside, fashion models adorned with jewelry befriend vain hosts sipping champagne. Famous paintings hang on the walls.
Crik leans over to his pal. "I've a print of that Van Gogh."
"With his autograph?" Randy whispers.
Crik frowns. "Ethics teaches us virtue is its own reward."
Randy frowns. "Economics teaches that reward is its own virtue."
My reward would be to never get another bill, late notice, or harassing phone call.
A sharp-dressed salesman in a flawless Armani suit strides onstage. His shiny hair neatly styled, Julian Seizure keeps his posture erect and full-chested, as would a cocksure general before his troops. His blistering smile stretches his narrow-featured face.
Seizure fires his words forcefully and pounds the air with a fist, keeping time with his avarice. "Andrew Carnegie, a billionaire back when a dime bought you a complete breakfast, noted, and I quote: 'It takes hard work to amass a fortune in industry, but any fool can get rich in real estate.'"
Perking up, Randy whispers to Crik, "Did he say any fool?" His eyebrows bounce up and down.
The big screen shows slender beauties gliding in Olympic-size pools and robust businessmen driving golf balls a mile down the links. The pitchman exhales. "The old boy nailed it. Nothing else comes close to how much people pay over the course of their lives for a place to live. Directly or indirectly, a big part of everyone's spending goes to a lease or mortgage."
The sea of heads nod in assent. The speaker opens his hands in empathy. "Since all of us have been foolish at least once …"
Amid the sea of heads, only Randy bobs agreeably — until he sees nobody else owning up and slinks lower into his seat.
"Why are we not all very well off?" The instant-riches guru taps his skull. "Foresight." Seizure stares down his audience. "It's not speculation when you see what's coming."
Crik snorts. Too good to be true. "Why can't telling the unvarnished truth work to sell?"
"I believe!" Randy says.
"Time to go, bro." Crik tugs his friend's sleeve. "I've a better idea. You think Seizure plays golf?"


 Jeffery J. Smith’s credits are in nonfiction, being published in both the popular and academic press on “geonomics” (ecological economics). Before switching to fiction, he edited the news site, the Progress Report and contributed regularly to TruthOut. His newsletter, The Geonomist, won a California Greenlight Award. He taught both English and composition and was a graduate scholar in linguistics. An inventor of games and engines, he lives on the West Coast and winters in Latin America, listening to tall tales.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Celebrate the small things: returning to sugar

With the 2017 A - Z Blogging Challenge done and dusted, life has returned to normal - whatever normal is. I have new blog buddies, new heavy metal bands to enjoy and time to write. My long neglected WIP awaits nought but the return of inspiration and drive.

At work, after four short weeks due to a procession of public holidays concluding with May Day (which I didn't even know about until the Friday before), my pay packets will return this week to full, thus permitting my financial belt to be loosened.

About two months ago, an alien starting growing on my forearm. Initially diagnosed as a wart and treated as such, it eventually became apparent that this alien was not a wart. It turned out to be a squamous cell carcinoma which is a non melanoma form of skin cancer. Having been named and shamed by a skin specialist, the alien invader was removed with a scalpel and I received six stitches in its place. The stitches were removed last Friday and as a result, today I was able to return to the gym. Speaking of results; tests conducted on the alien showed it was non-malignant and I am in the clear. Thank God.

For reasons I won't go into now, I had been using white sugar in my tea since shifting to the Top End, but with the move into my new CBD apartment, I have returned to raw sugar, and bless me, it is great. I love the smell of raw sugar and it tastes sweeter too I reckon.

How has your week been? Any returns?

Roughly two out of every three Australians will be treated for some form of skin cancer by the time they reach 70. 750 000 people are treated for no-melanoma cancers every year, and the incidence is almost double for men compared to women.
a pictorial guide to skin cancer

Saturday, May 6, 2017

2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge reflections post

Let the reflective countdown begin:

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror; but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely." - 1 Corinthians 13:12

5. Five reasons why this worked:

1.     The switch from a linkylist to using Facebook posts was a master stroke by the A - Z team. Much easier to participate and only active participants posted.
2.     I met, as always (this was my 4th year in the Challenge), some new people, discovered some cool blogs and learned a few things.
3.     From most of the blogs I visited and commented on, I received reciprocal action.
4.     I successfully challenged some people's perceptions of heavy metal.
5.     I enjoyed myself through discovering a whole bunch of new bands and expanding my knowledge of the diversity of my favourite music genre.

4. Four new bands I now want to hear more of because I've 'fallen in love" with them:

1.     A Breach of Silence (Australian metalcore)
2.     Hiranya (Spanish metalcore)
3.     Insomnium (Finnish melodic death metal)
4.     Taberah (Australian heavy metal)

3. Three bands which just missed the 26 cut. There were other worthy contenders but three notables who were very close were:

1.     Nightwitch   (US heavy metal)
2.     Barbie on Death Trip (German metalcore)
3.     Barbarion (Australian parodic metal)

2. Two top commentors. My thanks to all who visited and commented, but in particular let me name the following bloggers:
  1. Keith Hillman Keith's Ramblings
  2. Geraint Issit Penguin Ponderings
1. One reason why this was my best year so far in the A - Z: 
This year I wrote for myself. I wasn't trying to sell/promote my books, or increase traffic to/followers of my blog, I simply wrote about one of my passions. I guessed it would not be popular, but that wasn't the point. I write for myself, and that is the biggest thing I am taking away from the challenge this year.

I wish success and happiness to all of you, however you define those things, and I'll catch in 2018.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Z is for Zombies Ate My Girlfriend

No judgments about whether the consumption of said girlfriend by
the un-dead is a good thing or bad thing, but this South African band was born in Capetown in 2012. They play high energy 'modern metal' with lyrical focus on social commentary and the human journey (and perhaps the inhuman journey as well). 

I don't know what 'modern metal' is, unless it is the context of ancient metal like Bach, but more accurately, Zombies Ate My Girlfriend's genres are melodic death metal and groove metalThey've also won awards and are considered one of South Africa's premier heavy metal bands.  

Gavin Marchbank (vocals), Adriano Rodrgues and Chris Hall (guitars), Marc Olwage (bass) and Ferdi Groenewald (drums) are the band members, and their debut full length release, Retrocide (2015) features this track: Jahan

I took quite a risk choosing heavy metal as my theme. I've come across very few metal head bloggers and although I am a member of a headbangers Facebook group, they are not very interactive and none of them visited me during the A to Z Challenge.

I very rarely meet people who enjoy heavy metal to the extent that I do, to the degree that they would happily name it as their favourite genre, and call themselves headbangers. Amongst my friends and family, I have no one with whom to share my music apart from my son who as I mentioned in a previous post still enjoys a bit of metalcore. My ex-wife often described heavy metal as music for people with mental problems, and my current partner has a similar view, although she is more tolerant of bands at the milder end of the spectrum.

My point is that most people like popular music, that is pop and rock. Heavy metal, particularly the more extreme genres are not 'popular' music, so I was never going to attract a huge amount of comments, followers or whatever, but that wasn't the point.

I love heavy metal music, and I hope if you've visited me and checked out some of the bands, then perhaps your perceptions of heavy metal have been altered somewhat. 

Anyway, it's been a hoot. Thanks for joining me.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y is for Yaksa

The world's most populous nation was bound to provide at least one of the featured headbanging bands in this A to Z. Hailing from the Chinese capital, Beijing, Yaksa are described  as nu-metal by Wikipedia, but they are metalcore, and I like them.

They are Hu Song (vocals). Huang Yao and Dao Xu (guitars), Gao Yufeng (bass), and Ma Lin (drums). In 2016, they released their fifth studio album, Undercurrent. This track is the title track from their previous record, You are not the Loser.

Friday, April 28, 2017

X is for X-Mantra

Nepal? Really? The hardest letter of the A to Z 'X', and I find a
heavy metal band in this little Himalayan  nation of just over 20 million people. Well why not? These Kathmandau homies (Rojesh Shesthra on vocals, Sandeep Tuladhar, guitars, BJ Shresthra, bass, Bikram Shrestha, drums, and Nabin Mahajarn, guitars) got together in Y2K and have been rocking the subcontinent with their thrash metal ever since.

Their most recent release was Pralaya and this track is called 2012

I back my van up to the loading dock with the metal tunes blaring to gain the attention of the backroom boys at Chemistwarehouse. In fact the music does not do the trick so I press the bell, and talk with the young fellow who opens the door for me. Turns out he's a metal fan too. 'Do you like Trivium?' he says. 'Never heard of them," I reply.

Next time I rock up to collect their used syringes- a job I did with distinction for many years- the young headbanger has a disc for me. "Have a listen to this," he says.

The disc was Ascendancy, and as a result of it and the generousity of the guy at Chemistwarehouse, I became a Trivium fan. The year was 2007, and the band was between releases Shogun to come, featuring one of Trivium's all time classics, Down from the Sky, and The Crusade which in my opinion is one of the best heavy metal albums of all time.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for Wrust

Botswana melodic death metal band Wrust were formed in 2000, in the city of Gaberone, and consist of Stux Daemon (vocals and guitar), Ben Phaks (bass), Oppy Gae (guitar) and Dem Lord Master (drums).
Heavy metal is considered a niche genre in Africa which perhaps explains why there aren't many bands from this continent.

Wrust's sophomore album Intellectual Metamorphosis was released in 2013, and from it is this track called Hate 'Em All

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V is for Voivod

One of the big four Canadian thrash metal bands, Voivod are from Quebec and, like many bands which achieve any longevity, they have evolved and experimented with different genres over the years: from speed to progressive to thrash. 

Formed in 2002, Voivod have released 13 studio albums as well as a number of demos, live recordings and compilations. They've been through a few line-up changes as well. Current members are Snake, Chewy, Black and Away, and they feature on the band's most recent release, Target Earth (2013), and this track is of the same name. Target Earth

A young fella at church gave me a copy of a CD by a metalcore band called As I Lay Dying, and I liked it a lot. So much so that I bought another of their releases, (and every one since.) This a truly great metal band in my opinion-or should I say was. In 2014, lead singer and lyricist, Tim Lambesis was arrested, charged and convicted for conspiracy to commit murder. He went to jail, and the band went into indefinite hiatus. Lambesis was released from prison in February this year, but AILD has not resurfaced; the remaining members having got themselves another singer, changed their name and their style a little as well.

Lambesis' lyrics are some of the most profound I have ever heard, and I still love to listening to AILD. I don't know any of the details of what led him to hire someone to kill his ex-wife, but I hope and pray that he is okay, and that he will once again start writing.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U is for Ubiquitous

Hailing from the Midlands of the UK, this four piece band produces noisy, angry music featuring higher pitched screaming, as well as growling. According to one source they "deliver an angry and energetic fist to the face of the listener." - ouch!

The band members use stage names: Typhoeus (drums), Belial (vocals and bass), Abaddon (vocals and guitar) and Baphomet (vocals). To satisfy your curiousity, Typhoeus was the most deadly creature of Greek mythology, Belial is a Hebrew name for the Devil, Abaddon is the biblical Angel of Death, and Baphomet is the goat-headed idol of occultism. A charming mob, I'm sure.

Combining elements of death, black and melodic death metal, Ubiquitous have a new album (their sophomore album) which was just released at the beginning of this fine month of April. It's called Ad Portas Inferi which is Latin for The Gates of Hell

I don't like this song or the video, but you might enjoy Superbia.

Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for Taberah

The second Australian band to feature in this A to Z is Taberah who describe their music as heavy metal played with the spirit of rock and roll. I call it a old school power metal, but whatever label is attached, it's pretty damn good, and unlike 95% of the other featured bands, there is some hope I may get to see them play live. They may not make it to the Top End, but I can hop over to Bris-vegas pretty easily.

Taberah is one of the places mentioned in the Bible through which the Israelites passed during the exodus. That could be irrelevant trivia or the origin of the band's name. Melbourne is a long way from the Middle East.

Formed in 2005, Taberah are Jonathan Barwick (guitar and vocals), Myles 'Flash' Flood (guitar), Tom 'Bam Bam' Brockman (drums) and Dave 'The Doctor' Walsh (bass).

Their latest release is called Sinners Lament (2017). This track is called Child of Storm. and its from the album which has now made it on to my 'want to buy' list.

Speaking of Aussie metal, my next visit to the Hordern Pavilion was again with James and a couple of his mates was on July 24, 2010 to see the awesome Parkway Drive who were supported by The Devil Wears Prada. This time James was in the mosh pit, while his old headbanger dad sat in the stands and loved every minute of it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

S is for Swallow the Sun

I had to listen to a lot of what I considered to be pretty ordinary doom/atmospheric metal bands before I found these guys. Swallow the Sun are Juha Ravio, Markus, Jamsen, Mikko Kotamaki, Aleksi Munter, Matti Honkonen and Juuso Raatikanen, and they hail from Jyvaskyla in Finland. In my limited experience, I reckon they are a cut above.

Formed in 2000, their most recent studio release was Songs From the North I, II ∧ III. (2015) The song I chose to share with you is Cathedral Walls (2012) and I think it showcases every thing good about metal and its diversity. Dare I say it's a beautiful and powerful song.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

R is for R-Genium

R-Genium is a symphonic power metal group from Volograd, Russia. Formed in 2007, they are Nikolay Litikov (keyboards), Aleksandr Radchenko (guitar), Dimitriy Slyozin (bass), Aleksandr Kalashnikov (drums) and Tatanya Shevchuk (vocals).

Their latest release is titled Wonderful Wonderful World and this track is called I Know Your Lie.

On September 3, 2008, I took my son, James, to his first metal gig. Him, one month shy of his 14th birthday, and me, an old headbanger, traveled to the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney to see Disturbed. Actually I was only vaguely aware of, or interested in Disturbed at the time. I was there to see my favourite band, POD, who were one of the support acts. The other was Alter Bridge.

James was a little overawed, by the atmosphere and the music, but he loved it, and it is one of my fondest memories of time spent with him. Sadly, James would no longer call himself a metal head, even though he still likes Metallica and enjoys a bit of metalcore here and there.

POD were great, and one of my greatest desires is to see them play a full show. One day...maybe they'll come back Down Under. As for Disturbed, they are now one of my faves.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Q is for Qantice

This is how this French band describes itself, and seriously, I would not dare add or subtract a word. 

"More than a progressive/power/symphonic metal band. Qantice is a universe where the epics of a sci-fi saga spread over a story and music, mixing ancient and modern instruments, fantasy atmospheres, and jaw dropping virtuosity, with no limit but the wildest imagination."

Way to talk yourselves up fellas. I don't really like progressive metal, or symphonic metal, nor is power metal my favourite genre, so it goes without saying that Qantice is not really my cup of tea.

This Parisian band may have been formed in 2002, or as late as 2009, depending on your source. The current regular members are Tony Beaufils, David Akesson, Yosh Ortias (violin), Aurelien Jouela, and Christine Lanusse.

It seems they hire singers on an album by album, tour by tour basis. Pellek is the vocalist on this track which is called Hoverland

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

P is for Pelican

I know what you're thinking...a metal band called Pelican? How very un-metal. Nevertheless this quartet has been labelled post-metal, and that is a genre of heavy metal. I told you I'd bring you plenty of variety.

Established in 2000, in Illinois, in the United States, the band consists of Trevor Debrauw (guitar), Bryan Herweg (bass), Larry Herweg (drums), and Dallas Thomas (guitar). Notice I didn't mention a vocalist? That's because they are essentially an instrumental group.

Their latest release is an EP called Cliff. This track is called Deny the Absolute.

Monday, April 17, 2017

O is for Oblivion Denied

The Crown Princess of Denmark is an Aussie. She was born in Tasmania. Why am I telling you this? Oblivion Denied is a Danish band and I am an Australian. My gut tells me that the Crown Princess is not a fan of heavy metal, but you never know. I mean if she listened to these guys she might just convert to headbanging. Stranger things have happened.

This duo, yes duo, (Thomas Wagner and Eske Meldgaard Krogh) hail from the city of Stautrup, and offer metal in the groove genre.

Ridin' High is the second single from their upcoming sophomore release titled Lack of Faith.

Both my children attended Dapto High School which held an annual talent show called MADD night. It was at one of these shows where I first heard Four Words to Choke Upon by Bullet for my Valentine. The impressive amateur performance was enough to turn me on to this Welsh pop metal band.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

N is for Nanowar of Steel

The name of this comedy metal band (technically known as parodic metal) is a play on words from the band Manowar. They hail from the Italian capital, Rome, and their clips and their are funny (as one might expect from a parodic metal band)

Formed in 2003, Nanowar of Steel's line-up is Mohammed Abdul (Valerio) on guitar and keyboard, Gattopancer666 (Edoardo) on bass and guitar, Uinona Rider (Alessandro) on drums and guitar - presumably not at the same time, Potowotminimak (Carlo Alberto) vocals and they have a guy called Baffo (Raffeolo) who is responsible for sound effects.

Their most recent release was a 2016 EP called Tour-Mentone Vol.1. This track I'm Heavy has a little fun with Pharrell William's hit I'm Happy.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

M is for Mortal Soul

For some reason there aren't many African metal bands. I only
found three to include in the A to Z. Mortal Soul are a metalcore band based in Nairobi, Kenya, and this instrumental track, Solace, has been running around in my head for weeks now. I love it. It is from their debut EP called Ashes in the Wind which was released in 2013.

Mortal Soul, who have been likened to Bullet for My Valentine, are Leon, Pete, Joey and Celeste. They got together in 2010. On their Facebook page they list their musical likes/influences, and five of my fave bands are in the list: Bullet for my Valentine, As I Lay Dying, Creed, Trivium and Metallica.

In 2001, I was staying in a motel in Newcastle, NSW, to where I travelled fortnightly for many years for work. I usually stayed in the same hotel, but for some reason I stayed at the Sovereign Inn in Mayfield on this occasion: one and only. They had music channels in their pay TV arsenal, and I was channel surfing when I hit one of them and saw a band which knocked me out.

In 2001 this band released their breakout, and most commercially successful LP to date, Satellite. The song I saw on that video channel was Alive. I soon owned a copy of Satellite, and now have every record they've made. To say I love POD, is a gross understatement.

Friday, April 14, 2017

L is for Lefutray

Hailing from Santiago, Chile, Lefutray were formed in 2005, and they play groove and thrash metal. The band's name is a word taken from the Mapudungan language meaning 'fast sound'. Totally appropriate, right? In case you're interested as I was, Mapudungan is the language of the Mapuche people of south western Chile and central western Argentina.

This track is called Screaming in Silence and it's from their 2011 release Last Breath. Their latest album is called Oath (2015)

On the 31st of March, 1989, I saw Stryper play at the Sydney Sports Arena. Stryper raised the bar for Christian metal, and not without some controversy. They attracted plenty of criticism from Christian fundamentalists for their music, but particularly for their habit of throwing Bibles into the audience at their shows. Despite the furor of the small-minded, Stryper gained respect in mainstream metal circles and reached a lot of people with a very positive message. As one metal loving atheist said: "I generally hate everything Christian, but this song kicks f#$%^ ass." He was referring to the 1984 classic Soldiers Under Command.

The 1989 show was great by the way, and the boys in yellow and black are still rocking the world with their message of faith, hope and love.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

K is for Karat

Another new kid on the headbangers block, is this metalcore band
from Malang, East Java in the world's largest archipelago, Indonesia. The name means 'rust' in English, and they formed in 2015. 

Elegi is the debut record by Karat, and from it comes this track Kitalah Luka (which means "Our Wound"). For a debut video, this is pretty slick, and I really like the sound of these Indonesian metalheads.

In 1987, I stopped running from God, and became a Christian. One of the first challenges I faced in my new life was what to do with my huge collection of 'ungodly' heavy metal music. I was working at the time and had sufficient disposable income to purchase a lot of LPs. Most prized was my KISS collection. I had a copy of every record they had released since their debut in 1973, including each of the solo albums.

What did I do? I gave them all away. Yes. All of them. I then began to search for Christian metal. Bands like Whitecross and Bloodgood were every bit as good musically as the stuff I listened to, but they sang about God and positive things like love and forgiveness. Arguably the most successful, and certainly the most high profile Christian metal band of the 80s and early 90s was Stryper...and I'll have more to say about them next time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J is for Jackdevil

Sepultura is perhaps Brazil's most famous metal export (even though I only recently discovered this), but the largest country in South America, this Portuguese speaking island in a Spanish speaking ocean, produces more than its fair share of metal bands: for example Jackdevil who hail from Sao Luis.

This thrash metal group sings about satanism and evil stuff generally, so consequently they are not on my Christmas card list. Nevertheless, musically they are pretty good. 

Formed in 2010, their latest release is called Evil Strikes Again (2015) This track is from their debut full length album Unholy Sacrifice: Under Metal Command.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I is for Insomnium

Finland is one of only three countries in headbanging around the world to provide two bands. Insomnium is a melodic death metal band formed in 1997 in the city of Joensuu. Singing about darkness, loss, sorrow, pain and nature, the band also features doom and progressive metal influences. For me they epitomise the very best elements of melodic death metal.

This is my favourite song at the moment. I can't get it out of my head. While we sleep is from their 2014 album Shadows of the Dying Sun.

In September last year they released Winter's Gate: a concept album featuring one 40 minute track.

Insomnium are Niilo Sevanen (bass and vocals), Ville Friman (guitar and vocals), Marcus Hirvonen (drums) and Markus Vanhala (guitar.)

In the mid 1980s, I was experimenting with more extreme genres of metal when I discovered a band called Possessed who have been credited as the founders of the death metal genre. At the time, I was also trying out other things like petty crime, binge drinking and drugs. I also had a strong negative reaction to many of my friends becoming 'born again' Christians. Possessed were the exact opposite of a Christian worship band. One of the songs proclaimed their faith with the lyrics: 'We love you Satan, we worship you.'

Hearing that record was part of a series of events in my life which I would describe as turning points. It was too much for me. I actually threw it away after just one partial play through, and have steered clear of bands with overt references to Satanism or occultism.