Vika Yermolyeva–Need I Say More?

The other day, I was playing around on YouTube, looking at old Metallica vids. As per the usual, there was a slew of crap vids that made their way in to the sidebar “If you like this video, then you’ll like …” list of other videos that just happened to have a Metallica metatag. One video ended up being pretty cool. In fact, it was jaw-dropping. Wanna see it? Cuz … seriously, it’s untouchable.

So there it is. If you go to her website, you will be further stunned at just how prolific her repetoire is. She covers everything from Depeche Mode to Opeth. Her version of Tool’s “Sober” is unbelievable.

My favorite part of her YouTube vids is that she has a running clock in the background. Not so much to track the length of the video, but to show you that it’s not edited. Everything is done in one take. At least as far as I can see, it is. That’s pretty cool. Amazing, even.

Anyway, check her out. I wish she had some purchaseable CDs, but all the music on her site is free, so that’s nice. She also has a PayPal donation page. Her goal is to get a band together and make a CD, which I cannot wait to hear.

Metallica Albums

Today at work, I had an interesting email debate with a buddy about which Metallica CD is the best. His argument is that Ride the Lightning is the best because Cliff Burton was at his best. That’s a good argument simply because he’s right; Cliff was at his best on that CD. He also mentioned that “One may be the best Metallica song ever, but that doesn’t make Justice the best album ever.” And again, he’s right there too. However, what does make … and Justice for All the best Metallica album of all time is the fact that they took it to the next level for Cliff. They knew what they had lost in him: he was not only an incredible bassist, but he was also a very large contributor to the music of the band. His loss was enormous on so many levels, and to the end, the remaining members (and of course Jason Newsted) knew they had to put out THE BEST music they ever had. And they did.

This is not to say that I don’t love everything about Puppets and Lightning—quite the opposite. I think they’re phenomenal works in their own rights. One of the reasons I think that “Justice” is their best is because for as great as Masters and Lightning are, they poured a TON more energy and anger into Justice because of Burton’s death. They had a lot of reason to be angry, and that album is pure rage, whereas on Puppets you have songs like “The Thing that Should Not Be” which is supposedly about Cthulu, and “Battery,” which for all its energy, isn’t all that angry of a song. With Justice, every single song has a focus of the rage: “Blackened” about destroying the earth; “Dyers Eve” about James’ confusion and loathing of trying to cope with what his parents taught him vs. his real-world experiences; “Harvester of Sorrow” about child abuse; “Frayed Ends of Sanity” dealing mental anguish; “Shortest Straw” dealing with social injustice; and of course “One”—the quintessential anti-war anthem and raging against the personal fall-out of war. That album has a focus like none of their other CDs, and it never gets boring. I can listen to that on repeat pretty much all day, whereas with Puppets or Lightning, I’ll flip to something else after a couple of spins through.

I’m not sure how we ended up on that topic today, but I’m glad we did. I listened to those three today. Good stuff.

Glad To Be Back

Sorry for the absence the last couple of days. A bit about me: I get *wicked* serious tension headaches and back aches, to the point where they’re actually debilitating. I’ve been hospitalized for these in the past for the most severe cases–twice in about 20 years, but still … having to go to the hospital because of a headache is kind of ridiculous. Fortunately, I’ve discovered some techniques to combat these without having to check myself in at the local emergency room. Yesterday and Thursday though … holy crap. It felt like hundreds of knives were digging into my shoulders, middle back …

and of coures, after that HUGE Sabres win against the Flyers IN PHILLY isn’t helping me any. Too much cheering, jumping, thrashing and celebrating. Okay, maybe not TOO much of any of that cuz hey–how is there too much celebrating when the win is THAT huge?!

Anyway, now you know the reason for being in abesntia for the last couple of days. And now, back to your regularly scheduled post.

So I actually started writing this around 7 am. I was up, I hadn’t written in what seemed like forever, so I thought I’d jump in. The first thing I did was hit my “Stumble” button and see what popped up. This is what greeted me. If you’re a Van Halen fan, this … this may hurt to read. Not in a painful, “Kill me now; my life is over” kind of way … but in a “Dude. Dude …” kind of way. Read it, then come back.

All done? See what I mean? I mean, even if you’re not a VH fan, that’s still tragic. There is hardly a honest to goodness musician who would not tell you that Eddie Van Halen was a virtuoso with the guitar. He innovated some playing techniques that were simply out of this world. He constantly tweaked his sound and tinkered with different ways to get different noises. My favorite was finding out that he used an actual drill on his strings to achieve the sound at the beginning of “Poundcake.”

You’ll notice that the video is from the 1991 MTV awards. This was the opening performance, and did it ever set the tone for the rest of the evening. There were a ridiculous number of amazing performances from just that show. Queensryche performing what I consider to be the best live version of “Silent Lucidity” ever; Guns & Roses performing “Live and Let Die“; Metallica performing “Enter Sandman“; L.L. Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out“; EMF performing “Unbelievable” … of course, there were some “less than” performances too, like Mariah Carey doing some stupid ditty, so it wasn’t all highlights. But man.

Yah, that Queensryche performance was just mind-blowing back then. Even this evening when I watched it for the first time in probably 19-20 years, it floored me how pure and precise Geoff Tate’s voice was then. Even today he can still belt it out. I saw another video of him and a couple of the other band members doing “Killing Words” from an acoustic set in May 2008. NAILED it. As if he had just recorded Rage for Order and decided to do an in-store performance for kicks. There are few voices in music that hold more power than his.


Relaxing Evening with Photomatix and Metallica

Yes, you read that right–relaxing evening with Metallica. Garage Days Re-Revisited. Well, the Garage Inc. Version, anyway. Lots more songs on it than the 5.98 EP, so it works for me.

Is it wrong that I still loathe Bob Rock for taking their incredible sound and literally destroying it? I mean, … and Justice for All was just so amazing, regardless of what Jason Newsted being relegated to almost non-existence. At least for that CD. I don’t know. The black album had some gems, but … it really was the beginning of the end, and for 17 years, they tried denying it. The black album, Load, Reload … just weren’t anything special. Again, some good songs, but … that’s it. It was extremely difficult to listen to those two CDs all the way through without skipping at least half the tracks. Compare that to Kill ’em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and Justice. Every single song on those 4 CDs are winners. Well, okay … if we’re being totally honest and open, Kill ’em All had a few relative duds, but those “duds” still kicked ass over most anything on the 3 aforementioned weak CDs.

St. Anger … what? Does anyone even talk about that CD? Seriously?

Their saving grace from the ultimate “Fade to Black” was writing Death Magnetic. While it definitely shows James’ age and voice deterioration, it also shows that they still have some balls left. I’ve written a review of the whole CD a while back, so no need to rehash it here. It just amazes me that after … I don’t know. They didn’t quite suck cuz they did have some great songs, and hoorah to them for trying to branch out. I just don’t think it worked out in their favor. They might have been commercially wildly successful. That doesn’t mean they were good. Not in my book.

Anyway, ever since I was in high school, I’ve always found some soothing element in listening to Metallica. I can’t explain it. Pantera doesn’t have that affect. Iron Maiden doesn’t either. No other metal-style band does. Of course, artists like Azam Ali, Marissa Nadler, Sarah Fimm … of course they have a soothing and relaxing effect. They’re *supposed* to. So go figure. Not sure what the deal is. Don’t care, either. 😉

Speaking of Photomatix, these HDR images aren’t gonna tweak themselves.

Music To Soothe the Savage Beast

When I was in high school, I would stay up late and read Steven King books. Carrie, It, Pet Semetary … I read tons and tons of the Master of the Macabre. When I was done, I’d be all wired and wide awake. Unable to sleep, I’d throw on my headphones and cycle through tape after tape after tape. UK Subs, the Cult, Van Halen, Boston, Journey … hey, I never said I always had the greatest taste.

So there I’d lie, wide awake. What could I do? Where could I turn for rest and relaxation?

“… and Justice for All.”

“Master of Puppets.”

“Ride the Lightning.”

How it was possible that James, Kirk, Lars, Cliff, and Jason were able to lull me to sleep is beyond me, but it never failed to do the job. How’s that for bizarre?

Today’s Playlist

So, again … Friday will have come and gone, and I won’t make it up to my favorite CD shop. Boo hoo for me.

Anyway, here’s what’s played on my iphone so far today, in reverse order (current to latest).

  • Metric – Wet Blanket
  • Over The Rhine – Jesus in New Orleans
  • Scarlett Johannson – Summertime (Sublime cover)
  • Animal Collective – Turn into Something
  • Nouvelle Vague – O Pamela
  • Metallica – Fade to Black
  • The Cult – Automatic Blues
  • Swans – Telepathy
  • Lunatica – World under Ice
  • Dido – Slide
  • Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johannson – Clean
  • Joanna Newsom – Does Not Sufice
  • Sigur Ros –  Myrkur
  • Hungry Lucy – Open Window (Chandeen mix)
  • Belle & Sebastian – Photo Jenny
  • Collide – Spaces In Between

Not a bad mix. Old school Metallica mixed with the new version of The Breeders in Metric.

Well, *I* think that Metric sounds like The Breeders.

I skipped ahead to She Wants Revenge’s “Sleep.” Justin Warfield has such a unique voice. Hard to mistake it. He has a lot of earlier projects that I want to check out too.

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