Most people know of Tim McIlrath from his current and relatively successful band, Rise Against, but before he found fame with that group, he fronted The Killing Tree, a much better band, even if I do like Rise Against. Whereas Rise Against is catchy, fast, singalong pop punk, The Killing Tree was a much darker and heavier band, pulling more from metal and hardcore with thick, chugging riffs and a focus on rhythm more than melody. Their songs were long for hardcore songs, often topping out over six minutes like this one, and they often come in waves, building and crashing against the listener over and over again. Those who can’t find the rhythm may find themselves disoriented and worn out, but if you let yourself ride the waves it becomes an intense and enjoyable experience. This song, “The Bronze,” is from their first EP, Bury Me at Make-out Creek. I don’t think that one’s available anymore, but click the Killing Tree link above to get their second EP (with a bitchin Soundgarden cover) at Amazon.
Tag Archives: metal
Sometimes the anticipation of rippage makes a song go so much harder. Consider Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast,” one of the truly great metal classics. There is no doubt that a song called “Number of the Beast” is going to get live, but Maiden knew the value of a good build up. First, there is the text from the book of Revelations: Woe to you O earth and sea for the Devil sends the beast with wrath because he knows the time is short… And you get hyped and think, ‘Oh, man, this song is going to bring it.’ Then the guitar starts with a riff that jams and Bruce Dickinson starts in with Harris’ bad poetry and you just feel that tension start to rise. Dickinson can hardly bear it himself, letting a little steam bubble out at 45 seconds in, and the rest of the band takes his cue and starts to rev their engines, and, god damn, that pot gets boiling and you just get ready to rage hard. Then at around 1:20, Horatio Caine says, “Looks like this beast’s days are numbered” and puts on his sunglasses, and Dickinson lets out a wail that makes Roger Daltrey cry himself to sleep at night. The lid blows off the mother, and for the next three-and-a-half minutes or so it’s constant back flips. God damn, this song rips.
And just for good measure, here’s another classic Maiden track:
The second of my ramblings about my favorite records of 2008
After twenty-one years (seriously) of listening to metal in its many forms, I find myself turning to it on an increasingly less frequent basis. When I do want to listen to metal, more often than not I end up firing up a long-time favorite like “Seasons in the Abyss” or “Wolfheart” instead of something newer. The time when a new – or even new to me – metal album could stand a good chance of catching my attention seems to have passed, with a few exceptions. When something does break through, it’s usually on the strength of some new flavor or dimension that the old standbys lack. Most recently, “Here Come the Waterworks,” Big Business’ brilliant album from 2007, has had me totally entranced, sounding like nothing else in my collection. These new discoveries are not all that common, but they happen just regularly enough to keep me looking for more.
On very rare occasion, though, a metal album that offers no innovation will grab me by the curly hair and not let go. This year, Swedish d-beat ragers Disfear released an album that did just that. There’s a problem with that statement: d-beat is not technically metal, but a form of hardcore created by Discharge. The whole genre evolved from a simple galloping drum beat. If any form of music exists in direct opposition to the idea of innovation, this is it. As such, a d-beat band distinguishes itself by staying true to form but still creating a unique identity and a unique piece of art. The metal/hardcore distinction is unimportant; genre lines between metal and hardcore are so thoroughly blurred at this point that I’m comfortable calling this album what it feels like to me: a metal album.
“Live the Storm” (click the link to listen to this album at Lala.com) is by far Disfear’s best album, a thirty-five minute blast that sounds like nothing more than the pounding hooves of some newly risen Scythian horde charging forth on fire-breathing demon steeds. The drum beat that launched an entire genre tattoos its unrelenting rhythm into the brain while the bass churns along with it, a Minotaur’s roar that keeps the rhythm and melody tightly locked and gives the recording serious weight. Vocalist Tomas Lindberg delivers each line like a desperate, barbaric battle-howl, invoking gods of storm and fire as he calls his soldiers, the “dead but dreaming youth,” to arms. Over it all, the guitars blaze, but they’re not just revving engines. They bring melodic aspects that help keep the album from being monotonous, as this genre can so often be.
The thing about a good metal record (or hardcore – whatever), is that it makes you want to go off. A really good one makes you want everything around you to go off, too. This record starts with serious power. “Get it Off” breaks like a tidal wave over the listener, an anthem that says this record is Not. To. Be. Fucked. With. It starts the fire, and the following tracks stoke it ever higher. Sitting at work with track 3, “Deadweight,” blasting into my skull, I’m so amped at this point that I want to leap onto my desk and raise a pillar of speakers made of skulls and fire to fill the room with this sound, a tornado of paper and sparks whirling around me as the lights strobe and black lightning crackles and the cubicle-dwellers smash their computers and tear down the walls in a riotous orgy of hedonistic glee.
The best part is that it never once falters. Too often albums like this will have a couple of superb songs and a bunch of filler. This album is end-to-end raging perfection, a flawless expression of frustration boiled over. They should just break the d-beat mold after this one.