Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eluveitie - Helvetios / Shock Top Raspberry Wheat

Hello again, my endearing fans! Sorry it has been a while since we last talked (I know I promised I’d call you in the morning, but I swear I lost your number), but here I am again to give you an injection of what you know you want—no, not that you little harlot—the metal! (Yes, yes, the beer too. I haven’t forgotten). So, for today, we have an exercise in polar opposites: I will be offering up my favorite pagan metal album in recent years…and an awesomely (used in a highly ironic fashion) bad beer! So…COIN TOSS…well, it looks like you get the bad end first (like you haven’t heard that one before). On to the beer!!


Okay, so Shocktop is a “Belgian Style Lager” and this particular “beer” is a bit confusing. As far as the texture goes, this beer is thick. When I say thick, I mean that it feels like you are drinking a mouthful of bed linens. I’m supposed to *wake up* with a mouthful of linen after a night drinking. If I experience that sensation while I’m drinking…well why would I want to experience more of it? Strike one. Now, as far as taste goes, apparently these linens were rolled in a vat of raspberry syrup. Seriously, there is no “beer” here, just raspberry. I feel like the raspberry syrup acquired a fake ID so he could get into the club. So he passes himself off as an adult, but forgets that instead of his ID saying Eye M. Beer, the ID is for a Mr. Santiago Gomez, and the two don’t have even a passing resemblance to one another. I tried taking the “well this is just maybe an after dinner dessert type beer” approach to Raspberry Wheat, but to hell with that. After two, I decided that there is just no redeeming quality to this beer, unless you just want to be a douche and think you’re cool because there’s some mohawked Pac-Man piece of orange on the bottle. And if you want to be that douche, then this “beer” is for you. Seriously…4/10, Douche.


Grade – 9/10

I like unusual music. There, I said it. In case you don’t follow patterns, I have a thing for metal using cultural influences and instruments. And if the music happens to be about mythology, pagans, warfare, or a combination of all of the above, then if I don’t like it I’m at least going to give it a chance. Eluveitie is a melo-death metal (keep up with the genres!!) band from Switzerland that use folk instruments in combination with traditional metal and sing many of their songs in the archaic Gaulish language. Previous entries into the Eluveitie catalogue have been solid “folk metal” albums, the death vocals meshing quite nicely with the dual female vocals. “Helvetios”, however, is the first metal album (“Evocation I:  The Arcane Dominion” was a full on folk album) that really has vocal duties split between the death vocals and the dual female vocals. Even the background female vocals are more prevalent and in the forefront on this album. A few of the tracks even manage to relegate the death growls to backup vocals, changing pace from the typical (I use that word loosely in conjunction with this band, as there is nothing “typical” about them) rush of Eluveitie’s albums. Now, this emphasis on the melody does not detract from the heaviness of the album. If anything, the shared focus on the melodic vocals and death vocals allow for a better contrast of the feeling of war and supplication, death and peace. There really isn’t a throwaway track on this album. On “Helvetios” more than many of the other album, even the spoken interludes (whether English or Gaul) and instrumentals create a dramatic atmosphere. Normally, I try and listen to an album and find standout tracks, but I was hard pressed to find tracks that truly stood out. But this isn’t because nothing stands out, rather everything stands out. Every time I tried to say “holy crap, this is the best song on the album,” there would be an interlude that would lead into a track even better than the last. “Helvetios” is more than a solid album from a consistent band, this album would have to be considered a high point in the band’s career and it is definitely my favorite in the band’s catalogue.

- Mosh

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Godhunter - Wolves EP


GRADE: 8/10

Anecdote time! Reviews are always better when they start off with anecdotes. It's science.

A bit embarrassing, but it took me several months (maybe even an entire year) after hearing OF Godhunter to actually listen to the band. I "liked" their Facebook page early on (before they were called Godhunter… I don't remember what the previous name was, but obviously nothing nearly as badass as Godhunter, it might as well have been Fairylover), read all of their updates, followed the personal exploits of amazingly-bearded (and tender) guitar player David Rodgers…but just never gave the music a listen. Fuck if I know why. Finally, after much deliberation and procrastination, I parted ways with my hard-earned five dollar bill to nab the "Wolves" EP and hit play. I really didn't know what to expect. The only preconceived notion I had of their sound was based on the name "Godhunter", the inverted cross in their logo, and previous music I'd heard David fuck around with in the past. I guess if I had to put a finger on it, I expected some hard, death-y, weed-fueled stuff akin to… I don't know… maybe Bongzilla? That might be an insult, but fuck it. I'll make up for it with the red hot love for the EP in the rest of the review.

So, back to the action, I cautiously and gently pressed play… and the aural sensations that followed were nothing less than nipple-hardening. What these gentlemen bring to the table is a very focused effort, surprisingly catchy but no less groovy than is to be expected of bands of their ilk, with enough tinges of influences that push my hot buttons to create one all-around sexy package of man-meat. There is a ton of things to love about this band and EP, especially for a Southern boy like myself. It should come as no surprise to me, since Mr. Rodgers tends to know more about my local scene than I do, and he's from Arizona. (As an aside, no offense to anyone else in the band, I just mention David by name a lot since he's the only one of the members I've physically embraced. Maybe I can change all that next time I'm in town. *wink*)

Godhunter as a bad took me by surprise because I really wasn't expecting any or all of the elements that comprise it, let alone wrapped up a a tightly executed package. Overall, the primary vibes I get from them are stoner rockish, but I wouldn't call them a band in that genre at all. They're harsh, dirty, sludgy, 
desert-y, Southern fried, stoner, atmospheric, doomy… but never just one, and never all… you're obviously seeing my expertise in genre classification firsthand. Polka-dot accordion Candyland bacon metal? Hell yes I listen to that shit!

As mentioned in previous reviews, I prefer demos and EPs (and have grown more fond of them in the last two months, even) because the shorter total length allows for more listens during the time my grandma allows me to listen to CDs. The tracks here are longer than I expected, but still clock in at a little over 30 minutes, which is just about the perfect length. (Insert dick joke here…and its follow-up for typing "insert dick".) I listened to the EP three times back-to-back my first time in (and have put in about a dozen listens thus far), and out of the five tracks the one that sticks with me the most is "(Dead Hooker By the Side of) The Road". I get a few strange looks every time I scream "DEAD HOOKER BY THE ROADSIIIIIIIDE" in public, but I'm cool with the guys at Chuck E. Cheese, so they don't kick me out when I do. I'm not sure if it's because it's the last song on the album, so it's the most recent in memory when I reflect on the EP, if it's truly the catchiest, or if I just like words inside of parentheses… but it's a damn good track. (As an aside, I would probably rank "(Stop Being) Sheep" number two for similar reasons, so maybe it is the parenthesis thing. I also just put two sentences inside of parentheses to reinforce my love for them. Actually, make that three. Okay, I'm done.) Overall, the tracks keep my head banging throughout, singing along, and throwing the horns. I don't ask for much more than that from my metal.

The four previous paragraphs of vague praise devoid of unnecessary detail and/or spoilers too specific that you don't need to listen to the EP yourself should suffice. If you're a fan of any of aforementioned genres of music, metal, beards, beer, or parentheses, I imagine you'll find something to love about the "Wolves" EP. 30+ minutes of great music for five dollars is one of the better deals you'll find these days, and the bros in Godhunter deliver just that. After over a dozen listens in the past couple of weeks, I'm still finding little nuances of the album that I enjoy, and I dig the album more with each listen. That gets it into my regular rotation, and a well-deserved 8/10.


I've seen the guys in the band drink a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon (while stalking their photos on Facebook). When I was a much younger beer drinker, I always was informed that PBR was the utter shit of shit beers. This was the beer you'd drink if you were too broke to drink your own piss. I've never actually drank the stuff myself, though, so I really did not know if there was any truth to the rumors. Not sure if the band drinks it ironically, if it's a west-coast thing, or if I'm just a fucking beer snob. I'm really uneducated when it comes to the stuff. So, for the beer review here, I'll be reviewing… 

Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager, naturally! (I really wanted to write the album review and haven't had time to get to Jim's Firearms & Beer or wherever they hell it is they sell PBR. Fuck off.)

I spent some time trying to justify reviewing a fruity, Louisiana seasonal beer along with an Arizona herb-infused organic shampoo band like Godhunter, but eventually gave up and just assumed Kevin Bacon linked them somehow. Mmm, bacon. Herb-infused bacon beer. Somebody brew that shit, stat.

Aaaaanyway, the people of Louisiana know this beer well. Each year I await its arrival with great anticipation. The Abita brewery lies but an hour from my current location, and I try to tour it at least once a year. The best time to go, however, is when the Strawberry Harvest is on tap. It's called a lager, but it's got more of a hefeweizen vibe too it. It "tastes" cloudy like a hefeweizen does. That possibly makes no goddamn sense, but neither does reviewing this beer with Godhunter, so I'm having trouble giving a single fuck at the moment. The beer is infused with Ponchatoula strawberries, a town nearby that is known for three things: strawberries, strawberry-themed shit, and a giant alligator in a cage in the middle of town (completely factual, by the way). It's one of those towns they make TV shows about to stereotype how batshit insane everyone in Louisiana is. (We do get drunk any time of day and sell alcohol in grocery stores, though. That shit's no joke. We rule.) The strawberries in question, Ponchatoula would have you believe, are not only the best strawberries in the world, but should pretty much replace whatever else one's diet consists of. Hell, we should water our plants with strawberries to make more strawberries. We should bathe with strawberry soap, and drive cars with strawberry fuel. This is serious business, folks.

To be honest, it is a pretty damn good beer, though. There's just something about it that is addictive. I can rarely keep myself from downing a six pack of these things. I enjoy many styles of beer, but this one is a beer that tastes good as a standalone beverage, and also happens to be a beer, so you'll get the added bonus of inebriation. It's a staple of our swamp-dwelling, gator-wrestling diet and if it's near you, you should add it to yours also. 9/10 for the hometown brew.

- Hops