Friday, November 20, 2009

War, Wisdom and Rhyme

These are some of the records that I've been listening to on a regular basis during the last few weeks:

Ghostface Killah - Ghostdini: Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City - Def Jam Recordings
Ever since Iron Man came out in 1996, I've been an avid follower of Ghostface's solo career. I eagerly awaited the release of every album and even though can't say I loved them all equally, none of his (seven) albums were below standard! This is something you can't say about the solo career of most Wu-Tang Clan members - or about any artist that's been in the game for over 15 years. It's a given that the quality of Ghost's back-catalog is just solid and several of his albums can be considered classics. I can't say that Ghostface Killa is my favourite rapper of the Wu-Tang Clan but I gotta be honest and admit that he's simply the best rapper of the Clan. And way beyond... This eighth album by Ghostface Killah aka Tony Starks aka Pretty Toney aka Ironman adds another alias to the list: this time he operates under the pseudnym Ghostdini. This albums was widely annouced as Ghost's "radiofriendly R&B album" and I'm generally not into most "radiofriendly music": from my understanding this implies that the music is created with the intention of getting radioplay. Now I just like music that's good, simple as that, so I don't care whether it gets played on the radio or not, but writing music with the intent to gain money and/or fame is not creating but fabricating, in my eyes. Now, that's none of my business and it doesn't matter to me, but it's just that I've come to learn that fabricated music hardly ever appeals to me. That being said you'll understand that I didn't really get my hopes up for Ghostface's so-called R&B album. BUT I simply have to admit Ghost pulled it off and it's a great record! It is indeed leaning towards R&B, but it's just a solid recording! It is a soft album but it's soulful and Ghostface's rapping and rhyming are on point as always. His lyrics deal with love and the female sex, and are honest and sincere even though the songs are not always as classy (you don't wanna drive your mom to pick up her car at the garage and have the song 'stapleton sex' come on, something that may or may not have happened to me earlier today). All in all this turned out to be a good record, and I hope it becomes the commercial succes Ghost aimed at, just so that Def Jam would spend enough money on the next Ghostdini record to get some good R&B singers come in for a guestspot.

Baroness - Baroness - Relapse Records
Publicly better known as the blue record, this second full-length by Baroness resembles their red album in a lot of ways but at the same time the fourpiece seems to have added a broader range of influences to the songwriting. Most likely this is due to the switch in the guitar-departement, leaving newly welcomed axeman Pete Adams with the ungrateful task to prove himself right away by co-writing this sophomore full-length. Apparantly Baroness mocks the second album syndrome by fulfulling the high expectations (mine at least) and even raising the bar for an entire current wave of sludge bands. To a certain extent the blue record picks up where the red album left off, but at the same time adds a lot more 70'ies rock influences. The vocals seem to have gotten cleaner since the debut, yet the riff are often heavier and more metal-orientated. As always Baroness' songs grab your attention and don't let go until they decide it's time for you to be let go. One of the most absorbing records I've heard in a long while.

Withdrawal - Unknown Misery - Wendigo)
I hadn't heard of this Canadian band before, but I heard someone compare them to Integrity, Ringworm and Catharsis so I decided to check them out. Not in the least because of the Clevo-comparisions, as every band claims to be influenced by those bands nowadays and let's be honest: 90% of the time these bands suck. "Know what, I'll wear an Integ shirt in the band-pic, we'll cover some Ringworm song and people will start saying we sound like those bands. Oh, oh I'll write some lyrics about apocalyptic themes and stuff, how 'bout that huh?" Fuck 'bout that! When you are genuinly pissed off and frustrated with your life and the world around you, and your only way to deal with that is by making music, THEN and only then will you sound like those bands. Catharsis however is a reference that doesn't get thrown around like that often, and it's a band I am way into. They seem to be forgotten for the most part, but I'm pretty sure that the people that ever experienced a Catharsis live show won't (and can't) forget. Anyway, Withdrawal indeed does resemble Catharsis to a certain extent, except this is cleaner than Catharsis, not only in sound quality but in song-structures too. I could've done without some of the high-notes in the guitar work, because these lean towards general metallic hardcore at bit too much for my taste. It sometimes takes away from the brutality these songs do capture for the most part. Ofcourse it's impossible to sound as raw and dirty as Catharsis (and unnecessary too), but I feel with a grittier, less crisp sound these songs would be even more brutal.
Lyrically the singer draws influences from the nihilistic and pessimistic side of his mind. In most bands this comes off as a pose to me, as they're all rich mommy's boys and most probably the only problems they have are luxury problems. However these lyrics seem honest and real, and are exceptionally well written.
I gotta say it's been a while since a young band has been able to draw my attention like this, and I've played this several times over the last couple of days which is something that rarely ever happens to me. I definitely would like to hear more from Withdrawal.

Other than these three records I've been repeatedly listening to Rise And Fall's new full-length entitledOur Circle Is Vicious, expect to read more about that next week. Also Maximum Penalty's Life And Times as well as the self-titled Pegasus EP have been spinning a lot lately. Besides that I've been listening to all three of the Gucci Mane's Cold War Mixtapes, on which I'll have to hold back my verdict for a little longer.

In other notable news:
  • The other day I mentioned how Moscow is the second city I most want to visit someday, but apparantly nowadays anti-racists risk to get shot in the head over there. Check this article. I might have to reconsider either my top 5 or my political ideologies.
  • Speaking of politics, I am proud to say that the Prime Minister of Belgium has made it to 'President of Europe', but dear God please let Yves Leterme not replace Herman Van Rompuy as Prime Minister! Sure, government-wise this country is enough of a mess already, but let's pretend it's not and celebrate because one of our few politicians with some class is leaving.
  • What's more important than petty politics though, is that the long-awaited rock debut Rebirth by Lil Wayne, as well as Young Money's We Are Young Money, both have been pushed back to December 21st, instead of December 15th. This is gonna create a though situation for me as traditionally during the week leading up the 25th, I exclusively listen to Christmas mixtapes.
  • Some True Colors news to be announced later this weekend.

1 comment:

  1. just wanted to say thank you very much for the kind words.

    i do agree the recording sounds far too clean, especially compared to the chaotic wall of noise our live show has become. the new songs we're working on are a much more self-produced and self-recorded, so i think they come off as a little grittier than the unknown misery songs.

    new split with rot in hell in 2010.

    thanks again, take care.