Guilty Pleasures

It is a confession day, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, we all have something to confide. It might not necessary be a sin or a crime. It can be rumour, gossip, guilty pleasure…This Sunday we bring you closer to ourselves, to some more intimate places in our hearts about what we love, about the music which makes us feel great besides the heaviest, most underground bands and genres in the world. We don’t have anything to hide. We feel good! …And admit it, we all have some guilty pleasures to which we are attracted to, to which we’ll always return for a reason known only by us – just to feel better, to experience again, to relive forgotten thrill, to remember, to smile, to cry. What are your music guilty pleasures? Don’t tell us you don’t have, we know you do!

Enjoy the Sunday, and most of all enjoy the music!

THE KEY KEEPER

Well, well. My “Guilty Pleasures”… That is hard. Let’s see… I like Kizomba music style… No, I do not. I like Hip Hop… No, I do not. I like Country music… No, I do not. I like the color pink… No, I do not. Nothing against what I mentioned, everyone listens to and likes what they want. I’m just playing with words and with the theme “Guilty Pleasures”… So I decided to talk about another LOVE that I have in my life…read more

BOOKS. Scifi books, Fantasy books, Thriller books and Horror books. Some other themes are also allowed in my “selective” taste. But these four themes are the ones I really LOVE. Sadly and just like music, it takes to much space in my home and of course… Money. In some countries, mine included, culture sometimes is an expensive thing. A new book (depends on the publisher) is between 15 and 20 euros. Cheap? Nop. Why? Because the minimum wage is 600 euros. The income of the house, between 300 and 400 euros (depends on the places), the fuel for the car (1.45 euros per Lt), etc etc etc. I will not mention the rest of the things (big list). So it’s not cheap. I’m lucky and I have a job that pays me much better but… The life in my country is expensive. But, as I said I’m lucky and I still buy books. The Fantasy, Thriller and Horror books, I can buy new or used because the offer, I might say, is great … But the Scifi Books… That is another story… In my country, I only find (new) the books from big and known writers, but the rest? Nah…

In past, there were 3 or 4 publishers doing some Scifi collections (the good ones) but… All they are discontinued. Arghhhh.  So the potters are the best place to find them. Of course, I also find some books from those collections in bookstores, but, once more… The prices… And they knew that the collection is discontinued and the price increase. Ahahahahah…
Luckily I found some potters near my place and in Lisbon. And they have a lot… Sometimes I look like a little child with candy in my hands when I enter in those small stores and some medium store full of books. Eheheheheh. Some of those potters already have my contact and when they find some book that I’m looking for, they text me or just call me. Eheh. Lovely.
The Scifi collections that I’m talking about are in one format, that I love. Pocket book. Lovely. I love it. The only problem, at this moment of my life… The letters are small and I’m getting older and my sight is getting worse. Ahahahahahahahah.

And there was another little info of my life…

 

THE GRIM PRINCESS

LUNACHICKS – “Pretty Ugly” (Go Kart Records, 1997)

In the mid-90s, my young life was guided by the holy trinity of alt female musicians: Tori Amos, Courtney Love, and PJ Harvey.  With hindsight, and now with a parent’s perspective, I’m not sure this was the healthiest thing for me.  I rather wish my nascent interest in metal had shown itself a few years earlier, but this was the era of grunge and all of that was unfashionable – shame, because time and again, we are hearing evidence that metal fans are mentally healthier.  At school, 13 year old me was encouraged to worship Clueless unironically and pine at school discos wishing a boy would ask me to dance to All Saints’ ‘Never Ever,’ but I was more preoccupied with video games and weird independent films.  One film above all fascinated me, and this was Rafal Zielinski’s Fun (1994): two teenage runaway girls meet at an LA bus stop and hit it off, embarking on a series of antisocial acts culminating in the murder of an elderly woman as the ultimate bonding exercise.  ‘You like Lunachicks?’ one says to the other when they’re sussing each other out.  I investigated whether I might like them too. read more

New York’s Lunachicks were discovered in the late 80s by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, and played a kind of trashy riot grrl punk that started out heavy, distorted and shouty with their 1990 debut ‘Babysitters on Acid’ and became increasingly bubblegum with subsequent releases.  It’s one of these, the band’s penultimate album ‘Pretty Ugly’ (1997), that got me addicted, and was a light relief from the other shit I was listening to.  In 37 minutes, Lunachicks rip through 14 songs covering problem pages (‘Dear Dotti’), PMS (‘*@#%!**’), dead pets (‘The Day Squid’s Gerbil Died’), transsexuals (‘Mr Lady’) and Chinese tomboys (‘Wing Chun’).  They’re all playful and irreverent sleepover anthems, clearly Ramones-influenced, and I remember sitting in my bedroom successfully figuring out how to play a lot of the songs on my white Squier during my first spin of the album, so this should give you an idea of how user-friendly it is.  Known for their flamboyant stage shows, which were a festival of feathers, wigs, drag-queens-on-acid make-up and prosthetics, they eschewed the overtly political activities of some of their contemporaries, but in their own special way made a statement against the beauty standards and misogyny of the day, which remains relevant over 20 years later.

The band are now on hiatus, many past and present members now engaged in other musical projects, and singer Theo Kogan – who always dabbled in modelling (for Calvin Klein, most notably) and acting (you can spot her in Zoolander) – is now a fulltime make-up artist and runs her own cruelty-free line, Armour Beauty.  I’m not sure if they’ll ever re-form, and, to be honest, they don’t need to.  They’ve handed the torch down to numerous young female artists, and their ‘pretty/ugly’ image continues to influence popular culture, whether or not you heard of them until today.  Though these days your Grim friend is obviously far too kvlt to truly let go and throw pillows around, it’s sorely tempting when I revisit this album.  Give it a listen, and ponder the eternal questions with them.  “Is it a fork, or is it a spoon?  SPORK!”

PROUA METALLIST

STARY OLSA – “Water, Hops and Malt” (2017)

Here at Blessed Altar Zine we are united in our passion for supporting underground metal. So today, I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to briefly slither out from the hideous shadows and share with you, our unique and peculiar ‘guilty’ pleasures.

As far as musical genres go I believe that metal offers a diversity and richness that is hard to match elsewhere. This combined with the constant outflow of new releases negates the desire for me to step outside the realms of the genre. However, on the rare occasion that I’m not bathing in something thick, cheerless and anguished like atmospheric black metal or funeral doom, paradoxically you can find me gleefully prancing about to traditional folk and medieval-styled music (yes, I prance). read more

Enter, my beloved folk favourites Stary Olsa. Hailing from Minsk, Belarus, Stary Olsa perform music from the middle ages in a style keeping with the traditions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The band strives to achieve authenticity with their work and much of their catalogue are reproductions of preserved pieces from historical texts of the period. The instruments are also consistent with the 13th to the 18th centuries and are replicas made with traditional materials. The instruments include: the zither-like gusli, reed pipes, birch-bark trumpet, medieval lute known as a rebec, lyre, Belarusian bagpipes, ocarina, mouth harp, and the amazingly impressive tromba marina.

The 2017 “Water, Hops and Malt” is the fourteenth release for the band. This is a joy-filled album overflowing with boisterous songs about drinking and feasting, which is perfectly befitting an album titled after a 16th Century drinking song in honour of beer.  Stary Olsa truly have the power to transport you back in time to a dusky medieval tavern filled with laughter and merriment. The opening track “Pachod na Frankfurt (March to Frankfurt)” features high pitched flute playing sweetly over gruff, deep, rhythmic male vocals. The pace picks up and the percussion makes you want to leap to your feet, clash steins with friends, lock elbows and skip around in circles.  

Track three is the title track “Water, Hops and Malt” which feels very much like a tavern drinking song with stark guitar chords and alternating male vocals chanting back and forth. There are a few slower paced ballads such as “U advarotny šliach (Return Journey)” as well as military  marching styled tunes like “A dzie ž tyja vajary (Where are Those Warriors)”.

This album takes me to a place of revelry. But in honesty, I’m not quite sure how many of you hardened metalheads would share my enthusiasm. If you are curious to see what Stary Olsa have to offer a safe place to start may be their album of classic rock song covers “Medieval Classic Rock” which includes homages to Black Sabbath, Metallica, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and more. You never know, perhaps after a few hopsy beers you will be more receptive to the rollicking music of medieval Europe.       

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GOTH MARK

FASHION – “Fabrique” (Arista, 1982)

My “Guilty Pleasures” nomination is a band called Fashion, and I make no secret of harbouring the most bizarre and eclectic music taste of the entire BAZ team. My collection spans all the way from Mike Oldfield, to Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and so on – to the most obscure black metal artists that release albums on sky blue pink polka dotted limited runs of vinyl that sell out within 24 hours, unless you’re up at stupid o’clock to click ‘Buy It Now’. This dips into post punk and goth styles as mentioned in my ‘Gothic Rot’ article a couple of weeks back, along with new romantic and new wave bands such as Talk Talk, Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, and New Order; the thirst for these musical voyages of whimsy is further fuelled by attending the Mirror Moves nights in Liverpool, with a playlist of some well known, and lesser known 1980s new wave and post punk bands. read more

Fashion started in 1978 with an experimental sound combining post punk, funk, and ska releasing the ‘Product Perfect’ album in 1979, becoming a support band for Toyah Wilcox, UB40, and Billy Idol. Curiously, the recently formed Duran Duran ended up supporting Fashion in this early iteration of the band. However, original vocalist Al James (who took the stage name Luke Sky) played one last gig with U2 in 1980 and left the band, choosing to make a new life in California. A significant change in the line up resulted in the recruitment of Dee Harris on vocals and guitar, and Martin Reechi on bass guitar – with John Mulligan shifting to keyboard and synths and Dik Davis already performing drum duties. They released the critically acclaimed ‘Fabrique’ album, pioneering their trademark new romantic sound with a heavy involvement of keyboards and synths; underpinned by insanely catchy funk bass guitar rhythms and a somewhat photogenic vocalist. The band exploded in popularity resulting in many British and European television appearances and large scale tours, with the singles ‘Love Shadow’, ‘Streetplayer’ and ‘Move On’ featuring in many pop music charts; with songs from this album finding their way into Miami Vice episodes. Sadly, due to increasing pressure from their record label, their meteoric rise to fame took its toll on Harris who chose to leave the band prior to a world tour. They recruited Alan Darby on vocal and guitars, but things were never the same – the band called it a day with their final album ‘Twilight of Idols’ in 1984.

The ‘Fabrique’ album remains as a frozen snapshot in time; a band filled with promise that if things went differently in a parallel universe could’ve resulted in absolute world domination – with levels of fame akin to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Wham, and Culture Club. Therefore, if your “guilty pleasures” involve 1980s new romantic bands due to growing up in that era, or you’re considerably younger and suffer from “wrong era envy” hearing stories from elder friends and family members, then it’s highly recommended that you track down a copy of this album.

COUNT VLAD

Growing up in the 80s in a country under specific regime and where the western culture had tiny penetration, I will always carry that specific feeling in me about the 80s – music, movies, stuff, travels to places with my parents around the country, all the atmosphere, how the cities looked like etc… Those sweet memories which always invade us, this BLINK in the mind when just for a second you feel and remember “something” and your stomach and heart begin to ache and move…When talking specifically about the music, as a very small kid, besides the local “estrada” I could listen to some 80s pop disco (in the middle of the 80s – Opus, Modern Talking, Alpha Villle, CC Catch, George Michael, Falco, the most popular hits mainly) Italo disco and 70s disco. Then in the second half of the 80s most, I was more exposes to all the hits from around the world. Metal/heavy music was taboo, and what I remember were bands/acts like Scorpions, Rainbow, Billy Idol, Queen, Foreigner, Kiss – with their top tracks from that time. All the above left The Trace for my 80s love (90s is another story). read more

During all the years up to now, I always search music to make me feel cozy, to bring me back to those sweet years. I really like Foreigner, Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry, Falco…and most of the pop artists from that time. However when I found out The NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA in 2017, I was ecstatic. This is it! The perfect combination between Foreigner, 80s Rainbow and early 80s Whitesnake – musicwise and soundwise. Even the looks, the videos, the lyrics – everything is just into my alley. Yes of course I went back to band’s first two albums “Internal Affairs” (2012) and “Skyline Whispers” (2015) which I overlooked, and where I found more gems…

“Amber Galactic” easily was #3 in my 2017 AOTY chart, “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough” – #8 for 2018. The music is superb 80s return to all those travels, New Years’ celebrations with my parents, all that time which never to return! …That classic rock/AOR thing which Björn Strid and David Andersson are doing carries all the tiny details to hit in the right spot. (And I love Soilwork…).With Sharlee D’Angelo on the bass, the things are getting really serious. The band delivers superb quality of music and memories.

Should I continue my teary story? No need. It is simple – I love what TNFO are doing so much, that I barely can describe what and how I feel. Oh, I’m such a nostalgic…

METAL YETI

PROTEST THE HERO

I listen to a lot of different types of music and don’t necessarily consider too much of it to be a guilty pleasure. Then again, my typical playlists these days are almost exclusively the darkest and dankest of the metal underworld, some of my band preferences would definitely send a cringe down the spines of the trve. Protest the Hero is definitely one of these polarising bands. The band features blisteringly fast and sophisticated riffs combined with punk influenced tempos and the unique eccentric vocal style of Rody Walker. While there’s usually a mix of harsher and clean vocal styles through the discography, many people are pushed away by any mention of cleans. It’s a shame really, considering Protest the Hero are responsible for creating some of the most unique, opinionated, and full throttle prog albums of the last decade. read more

Growing up a metalhead in Toronto meant representing bands like Anvil, Sacrifice, Annihilator, and our nearby Quebec death metallers on a regular basis. But I was growing up in a different age of metal, missing many of these bands’ initial rise in popularity. Protest the Hero was one of the first local bands I saw make it big. As I had already gone through my heavy thrash and NWOBHM years, I had become completely hooked on the progressive side of things, opening the doors to bands like Protest as well bands like Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, and Strapping Young Lad.

I have a lot of respect for Protest the Hero, with their last two albums released independently with the help from fans like me through crowdfunding campaigns. Although many of the band’s albums have received significant play time, my favourite from them is “Fortress”, released on Vagrant Records in January 2008. “Fortress” is a full throttle prog metal masterpiece, featuring quick technical guitar and drum progressions with subject matter ranging from historical turning points to ancient goddess worship (what’s not to love?).  Check out ‘Bone Marrow’, my guilty pleasure and one of my favourite songs off the album. 

TOM 

KORN – “Korn” (Immortal/Epic, 1994)

There are bands I loved in my childhood, bands who I’d be embarrassed to be found putting on a jukebox now, but whatever affections I felt for them are passed and virtually impossible for me to comprehend now (yes I’m looking at you Erasure); there are those I loved, still feel a soft spot for and maybe should feel embarrassed about, but don’t (hello Manic Street Preachers); while there are those who I am rightly ashamed to enjoy, but only choose to dabble with the odd track from time to time (just a handful of Motley Crue and Limp Bizket if you please sir); so when it comes to finding a whole album that I felt slightly dirty for enjoying when I first heard it (in this case at about age 19), and still listen to today – in fact it was already on my ipod before today’s feature had even been devised – there could be only ever be one candidate. Ladies and gentlemen, for my sins I present ‘Korn’ by Korn. read more

I got introduced to Korn around 2000 via their debut and I remember having heard about them and thinking that all this Nu Metal stuff was about 2 or 3 years too late for me and very adolescent. Nevertheless (almost 20 years later) here we are: I’m pushing 40 and still enjoying the hell out of this… very furtively… oh well the cat is out of the bag now.

It’s not even as if a few super catchy numbers lead me to tolerate the rest. No, I really do thoroughly enjoy this whole album, every track. I do generally struggle to get through the full 9:35 of ‘Daddy’ at the end, but that’s pretty much just a reflection of the album being fairly limited in its emotional range. After an hour of the musical equivalent of an overwrought teary tantrum, Jonathan Davies’ emotional revisiting of child abuse is a wee bit of a downer on a Friday night. It’s been a long week you know? As far as tantrums go though, this album is a banger.

The purist in me is annoyed whenever I see some musical history positioning Korn as pioneers of ultra down-tuned misanthropy; let’s not overlook the gut churning joys of Crowbar and Godflesh, but as much as I love the former (without any qualms) and do enjoy a little dose of the latter now and then, neither have a full album that I’ve listened to as many times as this here bowel botherer. The drumming of David Silveria is both heavy and funky, full of pounding fills and high hat flourishes; Fieldy’s idiosyncratic slap bass style adds as much visceral texture as it does tone, hammering away alongside the main percussion; running over this the neat twin guitar interplay of Munky and Head fire off dark, slithering riffs, insistent, screeching alarm calls, and creepy, ringing textures, permanently swimming in distortion, phase and whatever other effects they have overlayed (when I say ‘guitar interplay’ do not expect Judas Priest); the final cherry on top Jonathan Davies proves to have a decent set of pipes on him, coating the whole thing with a surprisingly effective balance between guttural, animalistic growling and… well like I said earlier a teary teenage temper tantrum.

So why should this be a guilty pleasure? Well, it’s hard to say how calculated Korn are here in trying to emote a particular response from their audience, but by and large enjoying this album feels like being carried away with the dancing pied piper of teenage angst. On tracks such as ‘Divine’, as the band eases back for the final crescendo and Davies slowly amps up his mantra of “Fuck you .. I’m fed up with you .. I’m not as good as you .. fuck it we’re better than you”, I feel by turns exhilarated and slightly embarrassed in my enjoyment. If Pantera became a model of almost cartoonishly macho tough guy metal, here Korn essentially perfect a template for anti-tough guy raging. This is the musical soundtrack for impotent rage. Music for bullied teenagers to quietly mutter under their breath that they will have their revenge on all the bullies making their lives insufferable. At some point in their career I think Korn couldn’t help but get swept up in the caricature of what they thought they should embody in this respect, but here I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they were just going where it felt natural to take the music.

To a certain degree than I find myself having to hold this album at a slightly ironic emotional distance while I enjoy it, but at the end of the day when you can lay a series of nursery rhymes over a track that builds out of a bagpipes intro, as the band does on ‘Shoots and Ladders’, and still have it come out sounding pretty scarily demented, some respect has to be due. Also worthy of mention: the descending guitar line of ‘Predictable’. That’s some seriously down-tuned fun and games there. If you can buy into the overwrought moodiness and enjoy the prototypical, down-tuned, mid-nineties, funk metal, this is a very consistent album and to this day, some 25 years after its release, a mightily satisfying 60minute exercise in emotional plate throwing.

 

Truly Yours,
Blessed Altar Zine Team

**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre
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