Album Review: Knock ‘Em Out… With A Metal Fist! – Elm Street

People complain where all the good music is. Some people believe that the 1990s/1980s were the last squeeze of talent into the juice box. Those are the same people that most likely spend their days pointing out just how ridiculous musicians have become. Those people better think again, because we’ve got something real good in our hands blossoming.

Elm Street have been around ever since 2003, with just two studio albums released. This recent album is pure fresh air in today’s heavy metal genre. We are able to hear all the good influences such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and so on, without any signs of them ripping those legends off. A new dawning of good music is among us, and we must celebrate with this Elm Street album that is bound to knock you out with a metal fist, as the title appropriately points out.

 

David Lynch’s Usage of Music In His Films

David Lynch’s Usage of Music In His Films

*SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T WATCHED TWIN PEAKS, LOST HIGHWAY, AND, WILD AT HEART!!*

David Lynch is known for many of his cinematic masterpieces due to his eccentric approach and outlook towards them, which sets him apart from many directors. He is able to play with tension and plot lines like it’s nobody’s business, as I tend to find myself sitting at the edge of my seat after each of his films. Lynch makes use of the small things to communicate his artwork to his viewers, one of those things is the composition and soundtrack that he includes. You might be familiar with a few of his works such as the film Mulholland Drive, Wild At Heart (featuring a young Nicholas Cage), or Lost Highway. Better yet, you might be familiar with his successful early 90’s TV show Twin Peaks that is set to come out later this year with a brand new season (I await in anticipation for the airing of that new season!). Throughout his work Lynch tends to make his selection of music stand out a lot, up to the point where it speaks just as much as the dialogue.The effects of such selections will at times make you feel warm and fuzzy, or just cause the hairs at the back of your neck to stand up.

If you’ve watched the bewildering abstract film Mulholland Drive then you will know what I am talking about. The film follows a lot of ambiguous moments, which are part of the film’s charm. These moments are followed by music that adds layers to the overall atmosphere and tension that Lynch communicates in such a perplexing yet psychologically clear manner after watching the film more than once. An example of this occurrence can be found close to the end of the film where both lovers Betty and Rita find themselves in a ghostly empty cabaret place called ‘Club Silencio’ where a man standing on the stage announces “No hay banda (There is no band)! Yet we hear a band.”. Those lines soon follow an a cappella version of Roy Orbinson’s song ‘Crying’ performed by Rebekah Del Rio renamed ‘Llorando’ as she performs the song in Spanish. There is no doubt that her voice is a burst of power and emotion waiting to cut you in half as you watch on in bewilderment, her voice charms you into complete emotional despair and thrill.

You see a similar mood being set up in the TV show Twin Peaks plenty of times, although not as highly abstract as Mulholland Drive is. You see it in those black and white zig-zagged floor scenes that appear in Agent Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachland) dreams, which feel so abstract yet entirely purposeful as we encounter the late Laura Palmer giving cryptic messages to him as he sets out on the mission to solve her perplexing murder case. During such scenes we tend to find ourselves in an atmosphere that has got very simple jazz café music playing in the background in the most subtle manner, whilst we are confronted with Laura speaking backwards (scaring the living daylights out of viewers) who before she disappears says, “I’ll see you again in 25 years.” soon followed by her screaming in a very possessed manner completely disrupting this atmosphere.

It is such juxtapositions in scenery that battle with our logic as viewers, which actually draw us into the story further. In Mulholland Drive you’ve got the message of ‘Silencio’ (Silence) in what seems to be some type of music club, and in Twin Peaks you’ve got this laid back jazzy atmosphere that seems to be conflicted by morbid things such as murder and diabolical possession, or perhaps insanity. It seems almost like David Lynch as a director is subconsciously playing with our minds, and I quite like that. David has been quoted to say, “Lately I feel films are more and more like music. Music deals with abstractions and like film, it involves time. “, he is very right about that, music is abstract and so is film, so why not embrace those two together? Lynch has got some type of background in jazz and he played the trumpet for four years. This seems to be reflected in his films where he often tends to reside to jazz in order to acquire that feeling of disturbance along with the contrasts of lightness that jazz has to offer to its listeners. In his 1990 film Wild At Heart, Lynch still pulls in an amount of bluesy-jazz composition although there is a symbolic amount of speed metal involved in this film due to the nature of the characters present. The plot deals with a young juvenile couple running away together from an insane and over-protective mother. The most notable thing in this film is the way in which David Lynch captures these youths through the correct dosage of jazz and speed metal. You’ve got to love that one scene where Lulu is on the verge of a panic attack as she is driving with her boyfriend, Sailor, whilst she flickers through every radio station she can find. After not finding any radio station with any of the music she likes, she stops the car, runs out and bursts into a panic attack demanding Sailor to put some music on. He then puts on Powermad’s ‘Slaughterhouse’, a song that appears to be the couple’s theme song since you tend to hear it quite often throughout the film with its clear connection to the couple who’s reaction towards that heavy metal power-driven track is to burst into insane non-stop dancing and head banging.

 

That’s just a glimpse into the eccentricity of Lynch’s choice of music. Although, a lot of good things seem to come out of his dynamic relationship with film composition artist Angelo Badalamenti who’s work appears in Mulholland Drive, Wild At Heart, Lost Highway and Twin Peaks (he even won a Grammy for best instrumental performance for the theme song of Twin Peaks). Without Badalamenti Lynch’s film soundtracks and scores would not be the same, he provides the right amount of eeriness and glam into each of Lynch’s masterpieces. They are a couple made in heaven!

Lynch and Badalamenti’s dynamic partnership shines extremely well on the soundtrack for Lost Highway. There is so much to appreciate in this film, from the scene where Pete Dayton comes across platinum blonde beauty Alice Wakefield (Patricia Arquette), which is captured in its most electrifying manner through a Lou Reed song ‘This Magic Moment’, to the scene where Pete finds a bizarre porno film of Alice, playing in the living room as he breaks into Andy’s house to run away with his love, Alice, suitably a Rammstein song ‘Heirate Mich’ can be heard, and when Pete shoves Andy into the edge of his coffee table and he soon gets a nosebleed and searches for some place to go and get it cleaned up,  Rammstein’s song ‘Rammstein’ makes an appearance. Pete finds himself in this nightmare situation where he hallucinates a diabolical version of Alice in the bathroom having sex with another guy. Not only does the heavy metal Rammstein music play a huge symbolical role in the distressed and disturbed mind of Pete who has just morbidly murdered a man who at this point is most likely a pimp and he’s running away with a woman who’s actually a pretty freaky porn star, but it also captures the cold-blood that runs throughout the film, and specifically in this scene. Of course, even this scene doesn’t do the film justice in terms of musical influences. We’ve got a bit of David Bowie’s velvet voice at the very beginning of the film with his song ‘I’m Deranged’, which feels so cold, pretty much preparing us for what is about to come our way with this thrilling and psychologically disturbing film. Let’s not forget Marilyn Manson’s contribution to the soundtrack as well, with both his song ‘Apple of Sodom’ and ‘I Put A Spell On You’ being featured in the film at very crucial points. He even makes an appearance on the mildly disturbing porno film staring Alice that we discover with Pete in the living room of Andy’s huge mansion. Although, there’s a heavy presence of such artists who in their own manner are perplexing and abstract through their own music, there’s still jazz scores involved in the film, and that’s very ‘Lynchian’. The sound of jazz appears to be the mediator between this heavily abstract dream-like appearance that the film provides us with and the reality of it all. What does the film mean? Is it all just a dream…? You tell me.

 

It’s clear that the music present in Lynch’s work is simply a getaway into his elusive dream-like world that we get to experience throughout his work. It’s also very notable his dynamic partnership with Badalamenti who’s hard work and beautiful creativity we get to experience in a lot of Lynch’s work. The film’s music tends to speak to us in ways that the dialogue would fail to do so, and I think it’s that connection between your consciousness and the music in his film’s that makes the difference. In this manner we are given the opportunity to dive into this world of unsolved self-conflicting mysteries that paint themselves in a philosophical light waiting to enlighten us. What a privilege.

 

Hindsight: Cowboys from Hell- Pantera

Transitioning from the thrashing and big-haired 80s into the grungy and teen angsty 90s was a strain on those who were fans of heavy metal. The 90s amounted to bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains, all of which were not heavy, but soon dominated the charts.

Just when we thought heavy metal was going to be buried by grunge, Texas heavy metal band Pantera came along. They brought something fresh to the table, and that was their bouncy riffs. Although their songs at times feel predictable due to their typical verse-chorus formats, which lack guitar solos, we cannot deny the talent that the band had of making their riffs sustain their songs rhythmically. Songs like Cowboys from Hell, Domination, Shattered, The Art of Shredding, are clear representatives of how brilliant and talented this album was, due to their tendency of making this album feel ageless. Despite that it wasn’t their debut album, it certainly felt like the band had reinvented themselves, and so arguably this was their debut into the music industry. After this album the band released their next masterpiece, ‘Vulgar Display of Power’, which features the much acclaimed song ‘A New Level’. It was only the start of Pantera, the COWBOYS FROM HELL!

Check Out Upcoming RAPPER Lilgims

Although hip-hop is not my scene, I tend to make exceptions at times, even if rarely. Earlier this week I came across a dedicated young rapper whose lyrics grasped my attention instantaneously. This young rapper that goes by the name of Lilgims will impress you in his own right. The instrumentals through most tracks on his mixtape ‘Legends Are Made’ provides a good feel towards the lyrics, which I feel are what make this rapper stand out the most. You can see this quality of work in his song ‘Downfall of Society’, which manages to rub the right spot. You can hear sheer determination and dedication towards his music throughout each track, which communicates a clear passion and drive. If you want deeply moving and realistic lyrics then I suggest you take some time to check Lilgim’s Soundcloud and listen to his ‘Legends Are Made’ mixtape.

Culture Matters: Nü- Metal

The double-edged knife of nü- metal strikes! Is it even metal in the first place? The debate forever continues and its frustration increases. Korn’s frontman, Jonathan Davis, rejects the label of nü- metal ever being metal, whilst Slipknot reject the entire label simply because they believe they are heavy metal instead. The groove, the funk, the addition of a DJ, and the rapping among many other things certainly waters down the supposed ‘heaviness’ of the genre.

Whilst nü-metal can be considered one of the only ‘metal’ genres that has more females involved (e.g. Kittie, Otep, Coal Chamber), there remains certain contradictions, which are present in typical nü-metal lyrics. Although lyrics tend to speak of subjects like depression and angst, at times such lyrics may oppress females and objectify them (e.g. calling women ‘bitches’). This is vividly present in a lot of Limp Bizkit’s lyrics, a band who is known for their destructive and controversial attitudes. Just look at how Woodstock ’99 ended after a Limp Bizkit performance of their song ‘Break Stuff’, perhaps too much teenage angst and rebellion flowing through the air? It definitely does not justify the catastrophe of the festival that ended in rape, violence, destruction of property, and stampeding.

So what happened to nü-metal? IS IT EVEN METAL?!

Listen To King Kofi’s eccentric mixtape ‘Just A Dude In Need Of A Chance’

Listen To King Kofi’s eccentric mixtape ‘Just A Dude In Need Of A Chance’

King Kofi’s mixtape ‘Just A Dude In Need Of A Chance’ is a follow up from his debut ‘All Hail’. This mixtape has got 10 tracks filled with melancholic, ambient, electronica, all along with hip-hop anthems and stunning poetic lyrics. The rapper hailing from North London successfully explores the genre creatively and boldly, by carefully implementing eccentric elements into this refreshing mixtape all with a lot of himself to top it off.

Press Image 2.jpgYou will find charismatic tracks that you can definitely see yourself dancing to, such as ‘Theme Song’, and particularly the song ‘JADINOAC’ that will remain in your head even after the song has ended with its deep-cutting lyrics, both are certainly songs that you could expect to hear on the radio and would end up falling in love with. Then you’ve got slower, more eccentric tracks like ‘Don’t Cry Over Me’ with its steady rhythm and melancholic lyrics. Also, ‘Empath Freestyle’ (ft. Joshua Igbo) with its beautiful piano instrumentals, rhythmic beats and vocals that generally bring a refreshing fusion into the entire mixtape making it more sensual and intimate. Meanwhile, ‘Pennies’ being a charismatic piece in terms of chorus work has got firm lyrics with raw emotion being communicated through each word. The song ‘Jabsterz’ is a gorgeous number that is hugely emotional to listen to following up the song ’24’ from Kofi’s debut ‘All Hail’, showing us how honest of an artist King Kofi is when it comes to his art. It is clear that the lyrics are what once again sink deep into your heart when listening to this song along with the light vocals, guitar strumming, and Kofi’s steady flow throughout. The sensational mellow track ‘Dreuw’ with its bouncing hip-hop tempo that compliments Kofi’s voice and words is probably one of the best songs on the mixtape along with ‘Jabsterz’, ‘JADINOAC’, and the fun and witty ‘Theme Song’.

The opening song ‘Waltz’ is another heavy and melancholic piece on the mixtape, with its dark electronica tune that creates depth in its overall melody, and the eerie overall chorus that lures you into the entire body of the song. It is certainly a great song to open this emotional, clever, and eccentric album with. Both ‘No Zone’ and ‘I’m So High’ are breathy, sensual and evidently melancholic pieces, something which King Kofi appears to pull off wisely throughout this mixtape, making the overall mixtape unique.

The creativity that goes into the whole mixtape makes it a pleasing and refreshing listen, however, Kofi should’ve gone all the way with this eccentric approach that he takes in a lot of his songs, because clearly he is able to pull it off. As listeners we are being fed so many emotions throughout this mixtape in such a raw manner. In a world where the music industry manipulates and the artists are their puppets, King Kofi remains as himself all the way, and that is what we need and hopefully that never goes away. This mixtape is a window into who King Kofi is, since it is a very confessional and intimate piece. Kofi is enabling us to step into his world throughout the entire mixtape, which is really how music should be. It is a cathartic journey full of confessional lyrics educating us on the hard knocks of life. You’ll be pleased to know that the mixtape has been solely released on the internet, which means that you can have a listen without any hassle at po.st/jadinoac.

Press Image 1.jpgYou can catch King Kofi on Soundcloud, Instagram and Twitter @myotherkingdom

 

 

Hindsight: Metal on Metal – Anvil

The underdogs of thrash metal who were never delivered the opportunity to make history like many of those influenced by them have. Anvil’s ‘Metal on Metal’ album is by far one of their greatest, but even so, it raises the question of why they’ve never really been widely recognised. The title of the album certainly does not deceit, as it is quite a metal album, but moderately. If this is considered a good album then why is it that Anvil aren’t so notorious?