The Best Album You Haven’t Heard

When I started “We Sold Our Souls For Rock n’ Roll”, I had one single purpose in mind. All I wanted to do was have a space where I could freely talk about the music I loved. I wanted to help shed some light on music that nobody else seemed to be talking about. Today I’ll be discussing an album that fits that mold perfectly, today I’m reviewing Me & That Man’s “Songs of Love & Death”. 

Now you’re probably wondering, “who on earth is Me & That Man”? Well, Me & That Man is a side project run by Nergal, infamous frontman for the legendary black metal group, Behemoth. I’ve been a Behemoth fan for quite some time now and both six months ago I read an article on Metal Injection where Nergal announced a folk album. That set me to thinking. You see I have a soft spot for folk music because it just so happens I learned how to play the guitar using folk/country/bluegrass methods. But I was still apprehensive, I mean, a black metal guy taking on country? But I kept an open mind. 

The album kicks off with “My Church is Black”, a song that grabs you right from the opening strains. Then the lyrics kick in and you realize this is country like you’ve never heard it before. Nergal sounds almost exactly like Johnny Cash. The lyrics are dark and the music entrancing. Then we come to “Nightride”, a surprisingly fun song. I’d actually say that it’s a perfect song for motorcycle riding. And the whole album just ventures into uncharted territory. “Cross My Heart & Hope To Die” is nothing short of epic. It starts out with spurred boots slamming the ground. Then the guitar comes in and Nergal starts with a low moan. The whole song from beginning to end is incredible. “Shaman Blues” is also not to be missed. It’s such a dark song and yet it’s a lot of fun listening to. The chorus is especially catchy. “On The Road Again” is also a fun track, nice guitar work. But throughout the album Nergal continually reminds you, I’m doing country differently. You feel this particularly in “Of Sirens, Vampires & Lovers” a fast paced track that defies categorization. “The Devil I Know” is a haunting track that you won’t forget, I’d go as far as to say it’s the darkest track on the album.

I cannot stress to you just how good this album really is. It’s so weird, and yet, it sounds so freakin good. In the two months since its been out, I just keep coming back to it, over and over. What higher praise can I give than that? What Nergal has done is taken everything that we’ve (and by we, I mean metalheads who love Behemoth) loved about Behemoth and put it into a folk record. It’s a country/blues record with a generous dose of goth in it. Nergal called it “necro country”. I prefer death country. This is a death country record people and please, if you love good music, then do not waste a single moment. Listen to this album for yourself.

Kurt Cobain Changed My Life

This is going to be an emotional post. I just know it. I also know that halfway through this I’m going to just lose it and start sobbing. I just can’t help it. Today I finally went through with something I’ve been putting off for a long time. Today I read the journals and suicide note of Kurt Cobain. 

I know that there’s absolutely no reason for me to be talking about Kurt, but did you know that three weeks ago marked the anniversary of his death? Me neither. Nobody was talking about it, instead everybody is talking about politics, North Korea and all that shit. But I want to talk anyway because that guy means a lot to me. I don’t ever want his memory to fade away. 

I think it was about a year ago, right around this time that I first discovered Nirvana. I was at one of the absolute lowest points in my life. I was depressed and border lining suicide. I was up late, about 2 AM. I was drinking Kombucha and was binging on YouTube music videos. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came up and I thought, “well why not?” The song grabbed me right from the opening riff. For the next several weeks Nirvana was all I could listen to. I was totally addicted. 

It was during this time that I picked up my guitar. I owned one, but I never played it. Listening to Nirvana and Kurts playing made me want to play. It ignited this passion for the guitar I never knew I had. That passion two years later has only grown. It was Kurt who is the reason I really picked up my guitar and taught myself to play. It was Kurt who inspired me to write my own songs. It was Kurt who inspired me to become a musician. That’s a debt I can never repay. 

And that’s ultimately why I put off reading his suicide note and journals. I loved Kurt and I was afraid of learning something that might taint the way I thought about him. Well, that didn’t happen at all. In fact, I just liked Kurt all the more. I laughed at some of his writings, I nodded along in agreement to others, and I cried with the rest. Which is so strange, because I don’t get emotional. Ever. I don’t ever cry during the sappy movies, I don’t get emotional listening to beautiful songs, none of that. But today, I really felt the death of Kurt Cobain. 

I picked up my guitar and began practicing the epic riff to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary of a Madman”. This is a really hard riff to pull off. A year ago I would have heard it and thought it was impossible for me to play this. Yet here I am. As I play the dark melody, I think of Kurt. I think about the suicide note he left and I wonder, if he could have known about the influence he had over me and so many others, if he still would’ve ended his life. Maybe if he’d known, it might have changed the way he saw the world. But it doesn’t matter either way I guess. He’s gone. And yet, somehow, even dead, he still influenced me. His music still speaks. Thank you Kurt. Rest in peace man. 

Five Famous Guitarists Who Technically Weren’t Very Good

Hold on to your seats folks because this list will absolutely blow you away. I present a list of five iconic guitarists, who suprisingly, weren’t that great. I know that as a guitarist myself, this list knocked my socks off. Here we go!

1. Bob Dylan

Yes you read that correctly, Bob Dylan was not a great guitarist. This surprised me because I always thought of Dylan as one of the greats. Dylan’s music doesn’t feature particularly complex chord transitions. I can’t think of a song he did that featured more than three chords. And as for his playing style, he used very simple strumming/fingerpicking techniques. 

What made Dylan great was not his guitar playing. Dylan’s talent was in scouting out old folk songs and bringing them to popularity. “Knockin On Heavens Door” & “House of The Rising Sun” are in public light because of Bob Dylan. That definitely deserve some credit. 

2. Johnny Cash

I’ve never really been into Johnny Cash, although I do love “Hurt”. But Johnny Cash really isn’t that great. The fact is, I’m not sure that The Man in Black knew more than four chords (G Major, C Major, A Minor and E minor). Those four chords are the most basic chords known to musicians. And as far as I know, Cash only strummed his guitar, he never had any technique that I can think of. 

His talent was more in his singing (that is, if you liked his singing) and in his songwriting. Without a doubt Johnny Cash was a good songwriter. But the guitar for Cash was just background music. 

3. Paul Macartney

Here’s the thing, The Beatles were a truly great band. They revolutionized music forever. Especially for guitarists, it was the Beatles who made it cool to play guitars (and then of course there was Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Van Halen etc). But Paul Mcartney was not a good, or even memorable guitarist. Mcartney I kid you not he probably knew under five chords. He was very open about how he couldn’t read sheet music until about the 90’s. I can’t think of any skill that Mcartney possessed as a guitarist. 

Now if you’re scratching your head thinking, “but didn’t you just say The Beatles revolutionized music for guitarists?” Yes I did, and it was George Harrison who had all of the skill. Harrison truly was one of the greats. But not Mcartney. 

4. The Edge

When I first started playing guitar I believed that the Edge was an elite guitarist. I’ve always loved his work in U2, and I don’t care how many times Bono makes an idiot out of himself over politics, I will always love U2 because of the Edge. But, you guessed it, he is not very good either. 

When you break it down, The Edge is actually barely better than an amateur. The riffs he uses are actually ridiculously easy. Some of the chords granted take some practice transitioning, but the chords are still basic stuff. He still sounds great. 

5. Kurt Cobain

This one for me is the biggest shocker of them all. I used to idolize Kurt Cobain. He’s actually the reason I became a guitarist to begin with. I dreamed of being able to play every song on “Nevermind” flawlessly. I was convinced he was some kind of guitar master. And then came the day I learned that he was not very good. 

You see Kurt bought his guitar and then learned how to play AC/DC’s “Back In Black”. You just read the entire musical education of Kurt Cobain. Seriously, he only learned how to play that one song. He skipped EVERYTHING. While his guitar sounds wicked in Nirvanas music, when you really break it down, the chords are few and the melodies simple. In fact Nirvanas music is often taught as “beginner songs”. But, Kurt was an incredible songwriter and singer. Probably one of the best. Rest in peace.

Insane huh? I hope I didn’t burst anybody’s bubble by destroying your guitar heroes, that wasn’t the intention. I’m just trying to show you that you, yeah you heard me, you, do not have to play for years to be able to be as good as these guys. You don’t have to be a professional. Anyone can do it. I actually thought it was pretty cool I could play like Kurt Cobain. 

Four Albums You Need To Hear

I really need to write this post. Black Sabbath has ended their last tour (sniff), Drake has continued to pollute the world with his “music”, somehow people are still taking Kanye West seriously and radio stations, for reason that are beyond me, are still playing “Blank Space”. Not to worry metalhead brother/sister, 2017 has had some petty good releases and leave it to yours truly to show you the best music so far.

1) Body Count – Bloodlust

I’m going to break the rules for a moment here and start off with the best album that’s come out so far. Body Count is a metal group that doesn’t get enough credit. They are a metal band with none other than hip hop legend, Ice-T for their frontman. Let me go ahead and tell you, hip hop mixed with heavy metal makes for some of the best music. “Bloodlust” is filled with condemnations of racism, police brutality and corruption. In short, it’s old school metal. Just the way I like it. Don’t let Ice-T’s age fool you, he can still lay down some sick rhymes. As for his metal band, they’re not just providing background music. They are a genuinely good band, the guitars are loud, and filled with chord progressions. The drumming is fast paced and perfectly timed. Oh and did I mention that it features guest star Dave Mustaine? “Bloodlust” is very much a political record, but the way that Body Counts translates their rage into creativity is unforgettable. “Black Hoodie” & “No Lives Matter” cannot be ignored. We’ll be talking about this album for years to come. 

2) Sepultura – Machine Messiah

Sepultura is one of the all time greatest metal bands ever. I’m dead serious. They were an early pioneer of thrash metal, right along with Slayer, Anthrax, Death Angel and Iron Maiden. The only problem is that for the past twenty years they keep changing their lineup which has only served to irritate fans. If Sepultura wants to stay in the game then they need to get it together and produce a smashing new album. I would say that’s exactly what they did with “Machine Messiah”. Wild, chaotic and just freakin awesome. The lyrics are filled with indictments against corruption and calls for resistance. But Sepultura didn’t stop there, they also openly discuss artificial intelligence, particularly in “Cyber God”. What a hell of an album. 

3) Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

I have to confess I just never really have been into Mastodon. I’ve always felt that they were just OK. Mastodons music has never really grabbed me. But listening to “Emperor of Sand” has caused me to change that. Going into this album, it’s important to understand that the band members have had loved ones struggle with cancer. The albums concept revolves around a traveler who has a curse placed on him by a sultan. The band has publicly acknowledged the curse is a metaphor for cancer. But the album as a whole really is good, I mean songs like “The Sultans Curse”, “Show Yourself” and “Andromeda” are not just good lyrically, Mastodon has clearly worked very hard mixing different rock styles to create a very unique metal record. Well done Mastodon.

4) Me & That Man – Songs of Love & Death

This is the oddest album on the list, but this is one of my new favorites. It’s odd for two reasons, A) This is not a metal album, it’s actually a folk album, B) It was done by none other than Nergal. That’s right people, Nergal, frontman for Behemoth has now put out a solo folk album. I have to confess, I have a soft spot for folk music. You see even though I’m a guitarist and I play and write metal songs, it wasn’t always that way. I first got a guitar when I was about 15. I wasn’t allowed on YouTube (which severely limited my education) and I couldn’t learn from teachers who taught me to play pop or rock (FYI that’s about 95% of guitar instruction), so I ended up learning how to using play folk/country/bluegrass melodies. So when I heard that Nergal had a folk album out, I thought it was weird, coming from the frontman of a black metal group, but I still decided to listen. And oh my god was I surprised. “Songs of Love & Death” is some seriously good music. Nergal may be into metal, but take it from me, he knows his folk melodies. With his Johnny Cash esque voice, he is belting out songs that can only be described as “death country”. What took me back was is that this is most certainly not a mushy record with twangy guitars and mushy lyrics. Nope. It’s dark, it’s emotional, and it’s damn good. Go listen to “My Church is Black” and tell me that’s not death country. Tell me “On The Road”, “Shaman Blues” and “Cross My Heart & Hope To Die” is what should be on the top 40 country radio. I implore you, don’t let the genre turn you off, check this album out. 

Why Metal Reigns Supreme

*Note: I have a bad habit of using the words rock and metal interchangeably. My apologies for the confusion, but, this is my blog. 

Hey there awesome person, welcome to your new favorite blog! This is a place where I will be discussing real music, heavy metal, rock, hip hop, all that good stuff. Anyways my name is Andrew, 19 year old guitarist, founding member of the indie metal band “Shades of Death” (unfortunately I’m the only member, in need of a drummer and a lead singer), writer, coffee addict, and all around badass. Since we’ll be spending a lot of time together you might as well know who I am. 

Now, I love rock and hip hop, but honestly I believe that metal is the supreme music genre. My reason is quite simple. Emotion. You see if you listen to the top 40 radio you mostly hear songs that fall somewhere in between the lines of “oh I’m so happy, I’m so happy and life is going so beautifully…”. Yeah that’s great and all, but that’s all that pop music has been regulated to. The main issue with pop is it only displays happiness. And one or two songs out of the year maybe sadness. Whereas with metal, you have anger, sadness, happiness (there are happy metal songs out there), ALL emotions. That’s my idea of authenticity. 

Another reason I think metal reigns supreme is because of content. Metal artists have never been afraid to discuss anything whether it be violence, religion or politics. Several hardcore metal groups have even been outright banned in certain countries, but they still refused to back down. (To be fair, hardcore hip hop artists have also done so, notably Eminem and NWA) 

My final reason for believing that metal reigns supreme is diversity. Metal reaches across all boundaries, religion, ethnicity, whatever. Metal groups are found in almost all countries. Germany has Rammstein. Japan has BabyMetal. Poland has Behemoth. England has Napalm Death. And the list just keeps going on. A story I’ve never forgotten is how at the Rock AM Fest (probably the biggest rock festival in the world) in Nuremberg, Germany, there were Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, HEAD BANGING. Mind you, that ordinarily these two sects would be murdering each other. But it was metal that united them. Good luck trying to get people to unite with Taylor Swift. 

Again let me stress that I also listen to rock and hardcore hip hop. I’m not one of those people who refuse to listen to nothing but metal. But nevertheless I think metal is the greatest genre. It’s been my escape when I needed it, it’s helped me express my anger, hurt and frustration. And there’s just so much of it to listen to.