Many words have been used to describe Devin Townsend over the years. Oddball. Eccentric. Quirky. Canadian. To name but a few. Since exploding into the confused consciousness of metal fans around the world on Steve Vai‘s ‘Down Deep Into the Pain’ video in 1993, Townsend has gone on to create a musical legacy so uniquely unconventional that his career almost defies description. Continue reading
“Am I a Henry or a Glenn?” This is the question that popped into my head as I dug into Tom Neely and Igloo Tornado’s Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever; a collection of comics that explore the fictional relationship between Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig. The first quarter or so of the book contains Neely’s work and was the part that I enjoyed the most. The plot is entertaining and I love how Herny and Glenn are drawn like old cartoon characters. Neely’s section is full with cameo’s of some very recognizable metal musicians and plenty of not-even-thinly-veiled pop culture references that should amuse your inner nerd.
After Neely’s section, I began to lose interest. Most of the other contributions to the collection were short one-off’s that were just the same gay joke being told over and over again with a different person illustrating it. The artwork varies wildly from excellent to something you would expect to see drawn on a bathroom wall. When it comes to a concept like this, you have to find a way to stand out and either tell a story or simply be funnier than everyone else who is going after the same bit and the rest of this book was pretty bland. At some points, the art looks like it was drawn by a middle school kid in study hall and the content amounts to little more than; “They’re gay, isn’t that hilarious?” You have so much material between the two of them, Black Flag, and the Misfits that the fact that so many of the authors just go after the easiest gay joke is disappointing.
Some artists did try and were able to successfully keep my attention such as Mark Rudolph’s How the Chores Thrill. In this short comic, Glenn, much like Hercules (of Greek legend, not Kevin Sorbo), is sent on an epic quest and must complete three labors of varying difficulty. There are a few references to earlier portions of the book as well. It’s adorable and I loved it.
Overall, the collection is a decent read even with its flaws. I enjoyed finding musicians hidden in different scenes and how ridiculous some of the scenarios were. It’s also impossible to go wrong with Daryl Hall and John Oates as next door neighbors who also happen to be Satanists. Maybe that’s why I love them so much. Hardcore fans who can’t take a joke may want to avoid the read, though. That said, I’m definitely a Henry and I would buy the hell out of some Henry & Glenn themed tarot cards.
ALEIDA LA LLAVE
Do you like metal? Check (if not, why are you even here?). Do you like cats? I don’t but you probably do. Do you like attractive men? Of course you do. This brings us to the book Metal Cats (powerHouse Books) by photographer Alexandra Crockett. The public tends to give members of the metal community a bad reputation for no real reason. These pictures are about crossing boundaries. Pretty much everyone loves cats; they bring people together. This book is a collection of metal heads with their animal companions with the added bonus of proceeds going to no-kill shelters on the West Coast. Let’s help some animals and check out some dudes!
The Good – Most of these cats look infinitely less amused than their metal fathers which I find absolutely hilarious. Ross Sewage of Ghoul, and a million other projects, makes a particularly enticing male model. Please, keep the mask on. Villainizer and Death Toll Rising’s Drew Copeland and his furry friend can give you pointers for how to ring in the holiday season. An ugly sweater and a no nonsense demeanor are key.
The Bad – Nothing! Even a non-cat lover like myself can get a kick out of this collection.
The Adorable – Nym Penga of Mongrel Gods and In the Age of Terminal Static with his black-as-the-night chicken, Boxy. If you don’t think that chicken is amazing, well, you’re just wrong.
If you’re a crazy cat lady, a crazy cat dude, or don’t like to read (thanks for reading), pick up a copy of this book. This would have made a great desk calendar too. Maybe we can get the ladies in on the action next time. For the record, I would be all for Metal Dogs and/or Metal Snakes if anyone wants to go ahead and make them a thing.
ALEIDA LA LLAVE
Henry & Glenn Forever by Tom Neely, once a pocket-size comic love story, is now available as a full-fledged graphic novel. The original was easily one of the funniest things we’ve ever laid our eyes on. For those not in the know Henry & Glenn take two of the most iconic men in the history of music, Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig and sets them up as star-crossed lovers, roommates, and best of friends getting into all sorts of wacky situations in a crazy world. Not just a silly spoof on the male-dominated worlds of punk and metal, but also a clever, smart, satirical look at relationships using these two admired legends and icons of hyper-masculinity. I think even Rollins and Danzig, as serious as they are, would be hard pressed not to laugh at this!
From the press release:
Henry & Glenn “Forever & Ever” Graphic Novel
256 pages, 6 x 9″ paperback by Rob Halford and Tom Neely
The collected graphic novel of the greatest love story ever told features twenty short stories about the domestic life of “Henry” and “Glenn” as well as their neighbors “Daryl” and “John.” Digging beneath Glenn’s bricks in the front yard, Henry uncovers Glenn’s mother, freshly unearthed, moves in with him and Henry. Without giving too much away, [spoiler alert: Glenn has mommy issues] Glenn’s mommy issues come to the surface as she critiques his art, replaces his wardrobe, scrubs their dungeon, and recalls his childhood. Glenn tries to sell his signature to a UPS driver, takes a punch, and has some daydreaming adventures with a plunger. Henry, “a loud guy with a good work ethic,” shows his darker side and indifference to a fan as he drinks black coffee and bonds with Glenn over their distaste for their own bands; two men who suffer best alone together.
Henry and Glenn go to therapy together, battle an evil cult in the forest, and profess their love between dealing with repeated jealousy and normal relationship problems while trying to figure out if their soft-rocking neighbors are actually Dungeons and Dragons playing Satanists. It’s a true testament to the power of love to overcome even the biggest, manliest egos of our time. The book also features dozens of pin up art and full color covers from the original serialized series.
To order, or for additional info / images: http://aggronautix.com/products.cfm?productid=112
FOR ORDERS OUTSIDE THE US, PLEASE CONTACT US FOR SHIPPING COSTS
While on-stage, Chance Garnette may be the wrist-spikes-wearin’, mean growler of Ohio blackened thrashers Skeletonwitch. Once off the stage, however, the man is an affable character who laughs as often as he swigs beer. During the last stop (at The Firebird, St. Louis, Missouri,) of the band’s recent North American tour, Ghost Cult contributor Dane Prokofiev spoke to Garnette about, among other topics, the meaning of black metal, the role of humor in extreme metal, and of course, cats!
The band is fresh off of their celebrated US tour as support for Amon Amarth and Enslaved. The tour sold out many stops on the tour, in a time when some tours are having a hard time filling venues. Garnette shares his feelings on the success of the run:
“It was really good, we had toured with Amon Amarth before—I think it was in 2009, but I’m also 41 so my memory’s not the best [Laughs]—so we knew the guys already. We’ve been fans of Enslaved forever as well, so it’s really cool to meet those guys—and those guys are really fun. It was really good, the shows were almost all sold out [especially those in the] House of Blues type of theater. People were there and packed early [into the venue] every night. I couldn’t ask for it to be any better man, it was awesome.”
Although the band takes their performances very seriously, they know how to kick back, cut loose, and have some fun. There was an incident during the tour when the guys trolled Ice Dale of Enslaved with hilarious shirts. Laughter just helps pass the malaise of long drives, and longer days on the road.
“[Laughs] You know, at this point it’s not really about getting crazy and stupid anymore. Maybe when we first started we would try to do tour pranks. Well, Enslaved did come out in their last show to prank us. They took orange yarn and put it in their hair like it was my brother Nate, the red-headed guy in our band, and they put pillows under their shirts, so they had a belly, and then they just walked across the stage with the big bellies and a red ponytail. So that was really funny. But just little shit like that, nothing crazy like, you know, we’re going WILD or anything. It’s a long tour, and it is our job—and it is also the best job ever—but I’m just not really into fucking around too much. I just want to do what I have to do, what I love to do, do it well, and do the best I can. You know, you get in trouble, it screws ya, and I’m just not into getting in trouble.”
Musicians and music bloggers alike have blogged before that metal bands don’t earn much money from their record royalties, and that the money, instead, lies in touring and selling merch goods while on tour. We asked Garnette for his take on this topic: “Oh, absolutely, it’s true, yes. You definitely pay your rent by your merch. You know, your guarantee, or the door money you get for your show, that fee, at our level, usually is gas money and for per-diems per band member, and then it’s gone. So the money you take home, I would say, 80 – 90% is your merch money. And then you have to pay that bill back, and then you have to divide by the number of people in the band. So the big pie gets really small really fast!”
Furthermore on the subject of making money Skeletonwitch (with the help of their label Prosthetic) has been one of the leaders of making cool and unique merch. They have released quite a few limited edition products lately, namely: the “Beer helmet” T-shirt and the Forever Abomination picture disc. We asked if limited edition merchandise plays a role in the success of a band?
“It doesn’t make or break a band. It’s just little fun shit to do. The Forever Abomination record is out of print. I mean there are still a few trickling around in stores here and there, but is there a stockpile [of it] at Prosthetic Records or at my house? No, it’s out of print. Every one that is printed is out there.
Instead of just re-printing the same thing again, [we wanted] to do something different. We haven’t done a picture disc before, and we like to do new things. The picture disc isn’t a new idea, but it’s new for Skeletonwitch. But I don’t think putting a picture disc out or bringing back an old merch design for two weeks and then killing it is necessarily mandatory for success. I mean it’s just some neat little things to do to keep the wheels turning and to keep, er, you know, you need to super-serve your fans. You need to be there for ‘em, or they will forget about you.”
One of the things that sets the band apart is the prominence of melody in Skeletonwitch’s music. It’s a big reason for the success of the band to date. Not many blackened thrash bands have a knack for melody like they do. Some bands and boutique record labels don’t seem to think that melody is important to extreme metal music. We wondered if Chance had to convince them that melody is important to extreme metal, we asked how he would go about it:
You know, I don’t know if I’d try to convince them. I mean, just do what you want and I’ll do what I want. I believe, for what I do, [melody] is very important. I like to write songs that are memorable, and I think melody, for us, is very important. You can walk out the door whistling or humming a Skeletonwitch song. I don’t think you can do that—[Pauses]
To a Portal song?
“Right, I mean I never heard someone whistling or humming to that before. [Laughs] It doesn’t make it any less relevant or better or worse or anything—it’s just a different style. I prefer the songwriting approach instead of just [writing] parts, ‘cos there’s definitely overly technical things [out there]. To me, sometimes, it’s just like, “Brutal part! Brutal part! Brutal part! Brutal part!” You know, nothing that you can remember. I mean, what’s the biggest band in the world? Iron Maiden. That shit is memorable as fuck. [Laughs]”
Serpents Unleashed not only contains great melodies, but also possesses a more black metal sound than previous records. Chance answered our charge it a conscious attempt to pay homage to the Norwegian black metal scene, or if it just came naturally to the band:
“We never really set out before writing a record that “this one needs to be fresher, or this one needs to be more black metal.” It’s just where we were at that time, or where we are at any time. When Nate was demo-ing the stuff, it just came out that way. And we were all really stoked about it and we were feeling it, and we just kind of went with it. We didn’t decide to have a meeting beforehand to sit down and say, “We need to make this one more black metal” or “We need to make this one more extreme.”
Following the band since Beyond the Permafrost, and when I heard Serpents Unleashed after Forever Abomination, I thought it sounded kind of like old Satyricon. Perhaps to the casual listener, he or she might be thinking that they tried to pay homage to Norwegian black metal.
“I mean, we love it, and I love—since you mentioned Satyricon—I love The Age of Nero. It is so catchy and memorable—like we were talking before—but you know, if you listen to Serpents Unleashed and The Age of Nero, it’s not like, “Oh, they totally copied it.” It’s not like that at all. I think it’s just kind of like what you are listening to at the time or just where you are in your head at the time, and that’s the product of what comes out. That’s the basis for it all. It was not a conscious effort.”
“I do agree that from Permafrost to Serpents, it’s different but it also is the same. You can tell both of them are Skeletonwitch. [We’re satisfied] as long as we can keep progressing and not change crazily, ‘cos I don’t think we’re ever going to just make a real hard turn and do something different. We just want to get better each time. And I do believe that Serpents.. is way better than Permafrost. I enjoy it way more.”
To some diehards in the scene costumes, spiky accessories, corpse paint and pyrotechnics are essential elements of a black metal band. But can a band play “black metal” if they sound black metal, but do not have any of these elements?
“Sure, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to see shorts and flip-flops. You know, I don’t need to see the full regalia, but I do love to see the corpse paint and the spikes, I think it’s awesome. I love looking at that, yeah. I mean it’s part of the show and it’s part of the whole thing. So let’s just say someone is in the most brutal or I guess the most perfect black metal band in the world, but then they’re wearing shorts and flip-flops? I could listen to the record, but when I see them live, I’ll be like, “Aw, man.” [Laughs]”
Speaking of which, have you heard of this parody band called “The Black Satans”?
Basically they make fun of black metal in a few music videos they did, and there was one particular music video in which it had a lot of footage of the band members wearing corpse paint, but in swimming trunks and dancing on a beach.
“You know, that kinda bums me out. Right now, last year and this year, it seems to be in style to make black metal goofy, and that’s really not at all what it’s about, or at least, what it’s about to me. You know, like you see the shirts that say, “I like my metal like I like my coffee—black!” I mean, come on, quit making fun of it man. Or like people putting corpse paint on Santa Claus for Christmas cards.”
Or corpse paint on cats.
[Laughs] The Purrzum shirt. [Laughs]
“I don’t know Matt. I do not. But I love cats, aaand also black metal. But I don’t need to combine the two [of them], man. So yeah, I think the parody is getting out of hand, and people are watering it down, and I don’t love to see people do that.”
Road warriors that they are, Skeletonwitch is in the middle of an extensive tour cycle that will take them all over the globe this summer:
“Yeah, we are going to do some European festivals in the summer. I think we are… I don’t know the dates exactly, but it looks like it’s about 20 dates—obviously not all festivals. The festivals I do think we’re confirmed for—or might not be playing—are like Brutal Assault, Bloodstock, well, you know, you have the early and late spring ones, and then you have the later summer ones, so yeah, like the August ones, we will be in Europe doing those.”
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by Dane Prokofiev