Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Death Magnetic

So, thanks to the wonders of the internet, here's a track by track review of the new Metallica album! Note: if Lars didn't want me downloading it, he shouldn't be such a tool. Plus it wouldn't have even had a chance if I'd had to spend money on it.

That Was Just Your Life - So, this song starts off with the worst opening to an album ever. I guess it's meant to be a heartbeat, but it sounds like it was recorded underwater. The clean guitar doesn't help. Then the distortion kicks in and it sounds a bit better. The main/verse riff (1:28) is pretty good (or at least the first half is), it's just a pity that Lars couldn't match it with his drums. Overall, the song's pretty good. At least good enough to be an opening track. It really doesn't need to be 7 minutes though (much like most of the songs on here).

The End of the Line - Starts off ok and you expect it to build into something good and it just kinda fails. What you get is a song full of riffs that could've been good if they'd just been tweaked slightly. As it is, they're kinda dull. The pre-chorus (2:16) sounds pretty cool, but then that's dispelled by the rubbish that is the actual chorus. And the riff that precedes it is so absolutely wank I wrote something similar when I was about 14. The galloping lead riff in the middle (4:18) is pretty cool but far too short. The solo sounds like a guitar vomiting. The clean section is entirely fucking superfluous. Maybe it would sound better if Lars would shut the fuck up, but not much.

Broken, Beat & Scarred - The opening riff is great. It sounds crazy and like it's about to build to something even crazier. Instead they discard it completely for some absolute shit. The rest of the song is pretty meh, with nothing else jumping out at me...

The Day That Never Comes - This song is dull. I might as well be listening to Creed. The bass sound in the opening is pretty terrible and the lead sound isn't much better. Once again, Lars needs to shut the fuck up. The song would've sounded much better with just a guitar and James and then breaking into a huge chorus. Instead, Lars overplays like fuck and then gets worse in the chorus. It also needs the entire second half removed, as it's basically just a dumping ground for riffs that didn't fit elsewhere on the album. Weak. As. Fuck.

All Nightmare Long - This is probably the best song on the album. The opening is pretty cool. Unfortunately Metallica have lost the ability to actually build dynamics and it gets lost under distorted guitars. It then changes gear with no warning whatsoever. The new gear is pretty good though, with some nice riffage that doesn't sound as tired as the rest of the stuff on here. The chorus is pretty good. It starts off awesome (we hunt you down without mercy/we hunt you down all nightmare long), but unfortunately wanes in the second half. I think I might actually like the whole thing :-O Oh wait, the second solo (5:50) sucks.

Cyanide - Ah, this one. Once again you have a rubbish intro leading to an even more tedious riff (It's like "Fuel", but shittier). The parts with just bass and drums sound awful. The start of the chorus (1:10) is pretty good, but only briefly. The "suicide, I've already died" part is just utterly fucking laughable in its clicheness. Somewhere around the middle (3:03) they decide to lose it and stop going anywhere near a good song, with riffs that make no sense and more superfluous clean sections.

The Unforgiven III - The piano opening for this sounds like it's being played by someone who's just started learning as it insists on stopping and starting. Fortunately it gives way to a much nicer guitar riff. Now, I'm not sure whether it's just because I'd been drinking when I first heard this, but I quite enjoy this track. Lars is still overplaying a bit in the clean sections though.

The Judas Kiss - The opening is pointless. What you want is the riff that beigins at 0:25 as it sounds pretty Voivod-esque. The rest of the track is just filler really. Not particularly bad, but nothing worth caring about.

Suicide & Redemption - This is probably the most pointless song on the album. Not because it's particularly bad, but because it kinda goes nowhere. James and co have lost a sense of dynamics and so an instrumental is now pretty much just a collection of riffs. And, in keeping with the rest of the album, they're pretty mediocre. Also, the clean section (3:43) needs both the drums and lead removed immediately. Way. Too, Fucking. Long.

My Apocalypse - Another song with a good opening that could go somewhere great. Unfortunately that opening dies down into the mediocrity of the verse. It doesn't really rise above that for the rest of this (comparatively) short track. A rather lame end to a decidedly mediocre album.

Some overall notes: James can neither sing well nor write good lyrics. Metallica were far better when he was shouting and screaming about the plot of random books he'd read. This is the sound of a band trying so hard to be good again and they're just not getting there. There's the occasional flash of brilliance, but they've lost what used to make them gods. Maybe if I gave it time to grow on me, I'd enjoy it more. Right now it's just not worth my time or money. It's not a bad album, but it's definitely not a good one either.


Thursday, 26 June 2008

Online distribution

So, I want to talk a little bit about online distribution of music. This is something I've talked about before and I don't want to just repeat myself. I've talked about my views on downloading and the (possible) future of recorded media. I've also talked about Creative Commons licensing.

It's nice to see the changes that are happening in the music industry. Artists like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead are using very innovative business/distribution models (without the need for a record company). More and more DRM-free music is being made available. Amazon even has a Linux version of its download client. Even Metallica are now embracing the possibilities the internet holds.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still don't "get it". The main culprits are of course people like the major labels and the governing bodies (the RIAA in the US and the BPI over here). What stumps me isn't just their antiquated views, but some of the stupid ways they go about things. Hopefully, future artists will be clever enough to steer clear of them. Of course, not every artist "gets it" either.

I say, let your music be free and let the people who matter, the fans (not "consumers"), decide what you're worth.

If you want to distribute your music online, here's a few useful links:

Soundclick - Somewhere you can upload your music for people to stream or download. You can decide whether you want people to be able to download it for free or for a fee you set. It also allows you to add a Creative Commons license to whatever you upload.

Magnatune - A great little download shop for independent artists. You can't beat the slogan of "We're not evil".

CD Baby - Like Magnatune, but focused on CD sales rather than downloads.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Revelation revolution

So, I've neglected this blog a fair bit, haven't I? Well, in making my own site, I've decided it needed a revival. Hardy Heron's now out and various other things have happened, so it's time I started posting again.

The thing is, there's not much scope just talking about open source music software, is there? Really, all I'd be doing is regurgitating blurb from project pages and publishing collections of links. So instead this is going to be a music blog. But rather than just talking about music, I'm going to be talking about the ideas and philosophies behind it. This means that because of my own ideas about how music should be published and distributed, it will of course have a more open source slant.

I learnt to play guitar thanks to the abundance of tablature available on the internet. I'm able to record music thanks to open source applications. I'm able to publish and promote that music thanks to sites like Soundclick and MySpace. Without the internet and the ability to share whatever I want with the world, these things wouldn't be possible.

The campaign for open source music starts here. Let's see where we can go.