Wednesday, August 27, 2008

They Came, They Saw, They Kicked Its Ass!

Normal people don't call professional ghost hunters to investigate their house. Even fewer normal people do the same to investigate their brother's house when their brother doesn't even believe in ghosts. I did. I am far from normal. This past Saturday, Midwest Paranormal Researchers showed up at my brothers house at roughly 8:45pm. Immediately exceeding my expectations, they showed up in a truck plastered with decals of their sponsors, and a whole slew of equipment. And then more vehicles showed up, with more investigators and equipment! These guys were the real deal. Immediately I thought I had made a mistake. Sure, I hear bumps in the night aplenty there, but what if they debunked all of my claims and made me look like an ass? Well, my fears were put to rest as soon as the team introduced themselves to me. Complete professionals and absolutely great people, these guys and gals give TAPS a run for their money. Even my brother, who visibly loathed the idea of sharing his Saturday night with a bunch of "ghost fuckers" was taken aback by the team. He was out there, along with his dogs and his girlfriend, fascinated by the whole scene. I gave them a brief tour of the house and recanted all of the unexplained instances to them. All of the equipment they set up is seen on the show Ghost Hunters on SciFi Network. Cameras were set up in all appropriate areas of the house and yard, and they broke up into teams to search various areas. Taking a non-evasive approach, my brother, his girlfriend, and I all sat in the living room and drank our beer undisturbed while we watched them work. Frequently we went outside to watch those teams and check out the monitors of the teams working in the house. It wasn't long before something happened. The two main investigators were in the basement asking questions to the "ghosts" and snapping pictures. On the monitor, I noticed them taking pictures of the same corner over and over. Then, without warning, one of them BOLTED up the stairs. They immediately showed us the pictures they took. Every other one, in spite of using flash, was blackened out. Only a vague image of the corner and what appeared to be a shape in the center could be seen. Then, one of the pictures had a bright light appear just left of center. They tried to debunk it and couldn't. There was nothing to reflect off of, and these cameras were not acting up. Something had manifested in the picture. The very moment it did, one of the investigators began to feel very uneasy. He dashed up the stairs, certain that he was being "chased". Meanwhile, out in the yard at the edge of my brothers remote property, another investigator saw a "large cat" like shadow dart up a tree. Looking up, it was gone. This went right along with my claims of seeing shadowy animals in the yard that vanish before my eyes. Another picture taken in the yard shows what looks like smoke appearing from thin air. No one was smoking and the investigator was alone. This I also see often in the yard. Some EMF spikes also occurred, as well as a few of the team members feeling generally uneasy at times. Unfortunately, the team had to be out of there much earlier than they normally would have so my brother could get to bed. The investigation lasted roughly 3 and a half hours and the team seemed to have a great time. The rest of us did too. You can see the many photos they took on their myspace profile, as well as read a blog on their side of the events. They have told me they want to come back and do a more thorough investigation so hopefully I can talk my brother into it, though it is doubtful. He is now afraid to go into his own basement thanks to me :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh Metallica, How I Loath Thee

The band you see to the left there is Metallica. They are the band that I grew up with, the sole human beings who opened my eyes to the world of heavy metal. Before Maiden, before In Flames, before all there was Metallica. No, I'm not saying they were before any metal band in existence, I'm talking on a small scale here. With my measly $10 I had saved up I went out and bought my first honest to god album at the tender age of 5 (and no, I'm not exaggerating...this is how it happened.) That album, fairly new at the time, was "Kill Em All". Then I discovered other metal bands, like Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, and Anthrax. My brother was the Maiden fanatic. I preferred the heavier end back then, and Metallica were the epitome of heavy. When "Master of Puppets" came out, it seemed that perfection had been reached. Nobody thought that Metallica could top this masterpiece of metal. So, alas, Cliff Burton died and so did Metallica. They didn't top "Master of Puppets", and, after one acceptible album called "....And Justice For All" something horrible happened. Bob Rock entered the life of the four already seasoned metallers, and one of the most popular albums by any band of any genre was created. I fucking hated it. This was NOT thrash, it was NOT fucking Metallica! Who was this country singer on vocals? Where were the fast paced songs, the ripping guitar solos, and who gave Kirk a wah pedal? Many people think Metallica started with this "Black Album", as it came to be known. Those people should be punched repeatedly in the face. Okay, actually somebody just needs to play them "Puppets" or "Lighting" and show them what Metallica really sound like. Anyway, I'm getting a bit off track here. After "The Black Album" came "Load". At this point, I still considered Metallica to be my favorite band. I hated the "Black Album" but I refused to admit it. "Load" was the last straw. "The Memory Remains" was the first single and it made me want to vomit. It was like something off of the last album, only even WORSE! I tore down my Metallica posters and replaced them with Maiden posters. What had I been thinking? Metallica over Iron Fucking Maiden? I was shamed. "Re-Load" was, astonishingly, even worse than "Load". "S&M" was like a Spinal Tap parody of heavy metal, "Garage Inc." seemed like Metallica were actually making fun of themselves when they recorded "Garage Days re-visited" and lets not even get started on "St. Anger". At this point, the band were a joke to me. Selloutica was a popular phrase when speaking of Metallica. A couple years ago, it was rumored that the band was talking to Rick Rubin, super producer of bands like Slayer Cash. Rubin has credibility. He helped hone the sound of thrash as we know it with Slayer's album "Reign in Blood". Somewhere, deep deep inside of me, something stirred. At first I thought it was a tapeworm, or the onset of the green apple splatters, so I ignored it. Earlier this year, Metallica started talking about the new album. Word began to spread that this was a true return to form for the band. I wasn't buying it, because they said the same shit about "St. Anger" and that was the worst album of their carreer. Still, I felt that stirring again. Months passed, fake songs appeared, and then the clips began to pop up online. Little snippets of guitar solos, something completely absent from their last album, and thrashy riffs. The stirring grew stronger. It didn't matter. NO MORE would I let this band take my money, or hold my interest. Fuck Metallica. FUCK METALLICA! They were the greatest, and they took their fans money and wiped their asses with it. Last month, the band played Ozzfest and tried out one of the new songs to the crowd. It was called "Cyanide" and, though it had a couple of decent riffs and a nifty harmony, it was NOT a return to form. I smiled. And then, the completely unthinkable. Thursday night of this past week I jumped in my truck to go buy a six pack. A strange song began playing on a popular radio station as I made my trek. I knew immediately who it was. I don't know how, as it didn't really SOUND like them, but I knew it was Metallica. I couldn't get out of the truck. I sat in that fucker for almost 8 minutes in the parking lot of the gas station as I intently listened to this song. My jaw could not close. It started mellow, yet was completely listenable. James still sounded like a country singer, but the words he sang were actually sticking with me. Then, about half way through the song, it just BLEW THE FUCK UP!! Now THIS WAS FUCKING METALLICA!!! I couldn't help it. I sat there, in the parking lot of a Circle K, and headbanged my ass off. People stared, but I didn't give a shit. The song "The Day That Never Comes" knocked me flat on my ass. It sounded like nothing the band had done before, yet was a culmination of everything they had done. And it was perfection. Like finding God, I had come full circle and my love for the band that had defined my entire life was restored. Metallica is the Gold Standard. They are the essence of heavy metal and the power it has. Fuck. Looks like they are getting my money again. Behold. Metallica.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Metal in the Days of Yore

In many circles around town, I am known as "Metal Dave". I would like everyone to believe this name derives from my having a metal plate in my head due to the shrapnel hit I took in the war, but this is not actually the case. Wars don't often come to Ohio, I've noticed. No, this is actually a name bestowed upon me by those who consider me their intellectual superior in the field of heavy metal knowledge. Many a metalhead would consider this a true virtue, but it is really just a reflection of my not having a life outside of my own direct interests.

I often have people come to me with questions about a particular band or genre. A couple weeks ago, a young kid of about 16 years asked me if I'd ever heard of Napalm Death. I actually laughed believing this child to be joking with me. He then revealed that he had bought one of their albums and thought it was really good. This young metal Jedi in training was birthed from the school of modern deathcore, a hybrid of death metal and hardcore, and had no idea that there are a number of bands who came before his who were direct influences. There would be no Suicide Silence, Job For a Cowboy, Annotations of an Autopsy, if there were not a Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, or Carcass. So I sat the lad down and schooled his ass on the forefathers of this music he holds so dear. We spoke of Death, Necrophagia, Morbid Angel, Cynic, and even Bathory. Of those bands, the kid had heard of Morbid Angel. He then geared the conversation towards Municipal Waste, a new band he thinks are pretty rad. I asked him if he ever listened to Exodus. His response was that he had never heard of them. So I told him of The Big Four (Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer) and all of the smaller but equally influential bands that popped up in the early-late 80's. With the resurgence of gritty, old school thrash metal, it was a perfect time to introduce the child to Razor, Slaughter, DBC, Sepultura, Kreator, Sodom, and a number of other bands he may not have been familiar with. The kid had no idea that Sepultura were even a band in the 80's! So, with a list in his hand, I sent the young one home to scour Myspace for the bands I had told him of. A few hours later (and well past curfew) the kid showed back up enlightened. He now knew more about metal than any of the kids in his band (which, I might add, sound a hell of a lot like At The Gates...a band they had ALL heard of.)

So, to all the budding metalheads young and old, I plea for you to dig deep into the genre, and ye shall be enlightened to the fullest extent! For every kickass band you discover on Myspace, there is likely a band much like them who broke up twenty years ago! This is not a new movement, it is just one which never truly goes away.