Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Odd List to Be On

1. Milwaukee
2. Minneapolis-St. Paul
3. Columbus, Ohio
4. Boston
5. Austin, Texas
6. Chicago
7. Cleveland
8 Pittsburgh
9. Philadelphia
9. Providence, R.I. (tied) 

From looking at that top 10 list, what do you think is being ranked?  Education statistics?  Employment numbers?  Population rises or declines?  Cleanliness stats?  Top drinking cities?

Well, if you guessed the last one, you are correct.  According to Forbes, my current residence is smack dab in the middle of the #2 drinking environment in the United States!  I was quite surprised to see Minneapolis/St. Paul rank so high.  Milwaukee is a no brainer up there at #1... although I had thought maybe Madison would give it a run for its money, but the perrenial party town doesn't even crack the top 35, let alone the top 10.

I never thought of Minneapolis as a drinking centric city, but I guess it must be.  Walking around downtown, uptown, and the inner suburbs, I can start to see that we do actually have quite the night life, full of drinking establishments.  And with Grain Belt Premium being brewed here, how we've even got a little of that brewery atmosphere that Milwaukee has.  Ok, maybe we don't, but at least we have some quality, cheap, pale ale brewed here.

So next time you are out and about getting totally hammered down at Drink or Brother's or The Loon or wherever, remember that you are in the second drunkest town in the US.  And when you remember that, knock down a few more and let's see if we can't manage to dethrone Milwaukee!

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's Not a Submarine

Last Thursday I had returned to Rochester to perform a fantasy football draft with all of my old co-workers from Kingland Systems (all except two which had also left the company in the last few months). While I was there, a wave of heavy storms and tornadoes went through the area, as many of you may have heard about in the news. When I was watching the weather in the area and on the television, it didn't even occur to me to wonder what the weather was like back in the Twin Cities where my place was.

After looking at the picture to the right (there are more pictures and a description at Jared's site which you can get to by clicking on the picture), it seems like it was pretty rainy at home too... torrentially so. Any time there's enough rain to fill up the road to the bottom of a car door, you know that you got a lot of rain.

Thankfully my car wasn't there and didn't get flooded (since I park right behind or in front of Jared's car on the road). Knowing how much rain had gathered up outside, I wondered about our basement since I had noticed a little bit of water damage to the carpet in the basement living room when we moved in, but thankfully there was no water leakage into the basement while I was out.

With Jared's bad luck on getting his car partially flooded, maybe I received some good luck at my football draft. Tell me what you think of my team:

  • Tom Brady
  • Kurt Warner
Running Backs:
  • Lamont Jordan
  • Kevan Barlow
  • Kevin Jones
  • Deuce Staley
  • Plaxico Burress
  • TJ Houshmandzadeh
  • Desmond Mason
  • Lee Evans
  • Troy Williamson
  • Robert Furguson
  • Ashlie Lelie
  • Josh Brown
  • Carolina Panthers

With Blood Comes Cleansing - Golgotha CD Review

Up until the last year or two, metal and metalcore had a pretty standard set of vocal types. There was the classic hair metal wail (now used prominently by Dragonforce). There was the sing / scream dichotomy (which was brought into the limelight by Atreyu and their clones, but done best by Sevendust). You also had the nu-metal melodic approach (see any band from the early 2000’s). Lastly, there were the growlers (ie: Zao) and the yellers (ie: Machine Head, Pantera). Recently, however, there is a new vocal type that keeps coming up when listening to newer metal bands — the pig squealers. Job for a Cowboy has the most noticeable version of this vocal type, but bands such as Lokyata and With Blood Comes Cleansing showcase it as well.

Obviously vocals don’t make a band, but in the case of With Blood Comes Cleansing it is the most prominent feature of the band. Even being of the squealing variety, there is actually a moderate amount of variation, believe it or not. At times you get the straight on pig squeal. Other times it is an uncomfortable sucking in style of scream where it feels like Michael Sasser is trying to suck air down his wind pipe while he’s screaming the vocals out. Interesting as it may be, it doesn’t feel even close to natural.

Beyond the stylings of the vocal approach, the rest of the band rumbles in riding on a series of breakdowns and thrash inspired progressions. Most of the time the band sticks to chugging riffs punctuated by your usual start/stop, heavy as hell, break your face, hardcore inspired breakdowns. To spice it up, however, Jeremy Sims and Scott Erickson will bring on some shredding that sounds akin to solid Through the Eyes of the Dead or The Black Dahlia Murder rips. It’s a welcome change from the straight ahead death metal tinged metalcore approach found throughout most of this effort, but still doesn't do enough to get the band to move up the metalcore ranks.

The real downfall of this band is actually not that noticeable if you don’t try to decipher what’s being sang or read the CD insert. If you do, be prepared for some of the most in-your-face, preachy, pro-God lyrics to come around since Stryper or DC Talk. Take this passage from “Persecution” for example: “At the presence of God every knee will bow / Every tongue will confess He is Lord”. Or how about this gem from “Fearless Before Opposition” which goes like: “The demons draw nigh / The angels cry / Holy is the lamb / The lamb that was slain / The hour is coming for our king to return”.

If you can get beyond the lyrics and the aping of Job for a Cowboy, this really isn’t all that terrible of a release. What it comes down to, in the end, is how much you really need another metalcore CD in your collection, even if this one is generally better than the majority of the crap from Victory that is no doubt currently cluttering your music racks.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Days Are Getting Shorter

This morning it was perfect out. Cool, a little breezy, somewhat overcast, the smell of dying summer in the air... it's days like today where I find myself cranking up the sentimental tunes on my MP3 player and walking slowly through downtown with my eyes searching the building tops and the sky for all of the beauty that I so often miss when I am in my usual hustle and bustle to and from work. Cool, fall type days remind me to take everything in around me. I remember to notice that I'm alive and happy and a part of this world, instead of going about from here to there not really acknowledging why I am or letting myself outside of the bubble that is the world directly around me. In the end, there isn't really a way to describe the ethereal feeling that floats around on these perfect days.

Ugghh, I so want to go outside right now. I miss the country side so badly some days, like today, like most fall days. The endless fields stretching on, yearning for the harvest. The trees of the farm blowing in the wind as the leaves slowly and daily change from their robust greens to hushed yellows, Halloween oranges, and dusky browns. Most of all, I miss the silence. In town there is no respite from the sounds of everyday life. There are cars, lawn mowers, neighbors, malls, televisions, houses, buildings, and so much more cluttering up the space around me. There's no true peace to be found outdoors in the city or suburbia. In the country... ahh, there you can find it. Miles can stretch on with nothing happening other than the sun shining down and mother nature blowing you kisses on the wind. The caress of the country. The only people that know it are those that grew up with it.

Fall is going to be here soon. It's a magical season. It's when I feel most alive and, simultaneously, most at peace. I can't imagine living somewhere that doesn't have fall. Minnesota gets cold an ice box in the winter and hot as the deepest depths of hell in the summer, but between those two seasons are two other seasons that are trully phenomenal, and one is right on the horizon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hellishly Good Photography Skills

Thanks to Neatorama, I stumbled across one of the most beautiful photography collections that I have seen in quite some time. These Fleeting Moments houses a collection of numerous high contrast, melancholic, beautiful photos like the small thumbnail you see to your right.

After browsing through the photos, I can't help but wish I'd have capitalized on the Photoshop seminars that I have been to. Once I finished the seminars I found myself energized for taking photos and practicing the new techniques I learned, but my interest often waned quite quickly, partially because I'm not as awesome with Photoshop as I wished I was and I don't have the right camera to get great pictures to work with.

Someday, however, I hope that the professional photographer bug rubs off from my mom and I find myself wanting to take the time to create some great prints. Until then, however, I'll just keep admiring all the wonderful photography out there on the glorious internet.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This Should Be Fun

So apparently NWA Flight Attendants are not happy campers and are going to start, as of Friday, performing random walkouts in lead up to a potential strike. You can check out their website here. I have to fly to New York via Northwest next week, which might prove interesting if all of the sudden there are no flight attendants for my flight.

I wonder what I'll have to do if the situation arises where there is a walkout on my flight. I remember that when I was booking my tickets it was pretty damn hard getting a flight period. I can't imagine myself getting onto another flight from a different provider, as I'm sure that any open seats will be fought over by everyone on my flight. Or maybe do I get stuck taking connecting flights to get me there? That would suck. It's a two day trip so spending inordinate amounts of time in the air doesn't make much sense.

Let's just hope that my flight has attendants and I get to New York and back... yeah, getting back will be essential. I don't want to be stuck in the Big Apple with no where to stay. I suppose I could book a hotel somewhere, but talk about inconvenience.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Side note, is it just me or for the intro to the NWA Flight Attendant website, is that the Terminator II music in the background. If it is, that's pretty bad ass.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Firma - Manifold CD Review

Coffee shops have certain special types of musicians that like to play in that environment's type of intimate, laid back, no-frills atmosphere. More often than not it’s young and barely talented singer/songwriters doing their best Ben Harper or Dave Matthews impression, but on occasion you’ll find a band that so naturally fits the coffee shop venue that you can’t imagine anyone else playing in the background while you sip your latte and socialize with friends. Today's coffee shop band du jour is Firma.

Playing a partially electric, partially acoustic brand of indie rock, the young men in Firma have put together a debut EP that successfully straddles the line between crossing over from being laid back to just plain boring. What does it for this band is the smart and interesting interplay between the two guitarists. Taking center stage over the rest of the band, Mathieu Rodrigue and Stephen Tierney create a dialogue between their guitars, one speaking in light electric tones while the other whispers back with an acoustic voice that fills any empty spaces there may be.

Besides the usual indie rock influences that can be heard within just about any modern indie band’s playing, there are slight hints of other, more diverse, influences touching Firma’s songs. On the opening track, “The Pirate”, there is a distinct nod, intentional or not, to Days of the New and their unique style of play. While on “Nightmares” you hear a stronger, firmer sound with a Circa Survive molded musical attack.

Within the confines of these five songs from the band's self released EP, Firma have put forth a strong offering into the modern indie rock world. There are a few rough edges, such as the sometimes unfocused vocals, but for a debut effort, you couldn’t ask for much more.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Heartwell Ending - Trust Us We Lie CD Review

There are some days where I would like to take each member of Taking Back Sunday out to a shady corner of North Dakota and shoot them one by one in the head. It would be a Herculean task to count the number of sad, uninspired, rip-off bands they inspired in the wake of the popularity of Tell All Your Friends, as well as the glut of bands still aping that sound. It wouldn’t have been nearly so bad if at least a few of their clones had come out ok, but nearly every one of them came out with the retarded gene influencing every song they wrote. It was like the fifth clone of Michael Keaton from Multiplicity spawned out over and over again.

So without further adieu, I present to you the world’s latest Taking Back Sunday cover band… err, I mean emocore band… wait, maybe mallcore? Or how about we just call it borecore? Or crapcore? Or maybe just unneeded and unwanted? Whatever you want to call it, Trust Us We Lie isn’t much more than a mash up of Taking Back Sunday, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, a vocoder, Fall Out Boy song titles, slightly out of tune singing, and some Emery flourishes for good measure.

If the previous sentence didn’t scream out to you how “scene” these guys want to be than I think you need to wake the hell up, go visit Hot Topic, and catch up on what’s cool with the kiddies today. Sadly, to be cool in today’s Hot Topic and MySpace musical scene a band has to sacrifice all of their integrity, dress up in clothes meant for the the sex lacking a penis, and whore themselves out by making millions of friend requests online. At least that's what A Heartwell Ending did.

Ok, not everything on this disc is utterly terrible. It’s more so boring and run of the mill as opposed to terrible, but in the music industry aren’t those two things almost interchangeable? These guys can, in a pinch, write a chorus that is infectious and not completely eye-rollingly bad, but it is the exception instead of the rule when listening to this effort. Also, the production values are quite good, but then again, what band doesn’t have a nice, glossy CD to put on the shelves today? It’s actually the rarer occurrence to have a CD without pristine production values than the other way around. But anyways.

Where does this leave a band like A Heartwell Ending? Pretty much in nowheresville. Surely this release will get picked up by a decent subset of the scene kids, but beyond that, Trust Us We Lie holds no real redeeming value. It’s another “hot for 5 minutes and then fade into nothingness” releases that we see littering the shelves of Hot Topic and Best Buy. Whatever. It’s your money, not mine, but I can tell you I wouldn’t spend a dime on this.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Yeah, wouldn't you know it, work is keeping me busy. Not only that, but it seems like all of the sudden I have all kinds of other things to do after work as well, which is not something I am opposed to at all. It's great having stuff to do all the time. No boredom! The only downside, as you may have guessed, is that my little ol' blog tends to get ignored. So until work slows down some, since I usually used quick work breaks to write, you may end up reading the same post over and over for a couple days. I also have a feeling most of my posts are going to be my reviews that get posted over at Decoy, which might be ok for those of you who come here for the music info, but not for those looking for personal blog entries. Anyways, that's that and that's how it's gonna be.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Some Things Are Better Left Unseen

As Jared and I were driving to Blockbuster last night to return Everything is Illuminated (which is a phenomenal film) on our way to a friend's housewarming party, there was something we saw that was so out there that I pulled the first triple take that I think I ever had.

About a half a mile from our house is a bike trail that I often go running on. It's a nice trail and is more interesting to run on than running around our subdivision, but there's still rarely anything of interest to see while I'm out sweating off the calories from the crap I no doubt fed myself throughout the day.

The trail crosses the road that Jared and I were taking to Blockbuster and being that I get annoyed when cars don't yield for me when I'm trying to cross on my runs, I always yield for any runners or bikers so they can get across and not have to break their stride or lose pace. But this time, I saw a type of runner I had never seen.

He was probably about 60, which isn't unusual. I've run many a road race where there are men and women 60 or older. What was interesting was his choice of attire. He was wearing running shorts, but running shorts that were obviously meant for a fifth grade girl. They had the slits on the sides and were only probably about 6 inches long in total length. So as he jogged across the road in front of us, we got quite the glimpse of his tighty whiteys. Heck, she shouldn't have even bothered with the shorts because they weren't covering anything up.

It makes you wonder if he looks at what he wears before he goes out running. I have my pair of short shorts that I like to wear when I'm doing my longer runs because they're light, but they at least are as long as my boxers. And even if they weren't, I'd have boxers on, not a skin tight pair of white nut huggers.

So Mr. Old Runner Dude, I implore you, since you run on the same trail I do, put on some shorts that cover up your goods before you hit the trail next. I don't think I could take seeing what you've already shown me over again.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Vacation! ...Maybe

Right now, you wouldn't believe how badly I want to take a vacation. I haven't had a real vacation in about two years. The only things I've done have taken a Friday or Monday off here and there to get a long weekend, but never taken more than a four day period off for any reason. It wasn't that big of a deal, really, but I'm starting to really, really, really look forward to getting some time off.

Thankfully one of my friends decided they were going to get married in Jamaica in January. Perfect. This is just the excuse I needed to take a vacation, and a vacation to someplace ridiculously awesome. Right now a week in Jamaica during the middle of a frigid Minnesotan winter is heavenly.

There's a catch, though, in that it's not exactly cheap. I've been talking with the travel agent arranging the plans for my friend's wedding and their week package, which is a luxury package for two, is a little under $4,000. I think it's right around $3,700, but once you tack on tax and such, it'll approach the four grand level.

The thing is, that price is for two so if I find someone to go with it would be, at the luxury level, under $2,000. If I don't find someone to go with, it will probably be out of my price range. I've been requesting price rates for non-luxury accommodations and such to see if I can get the price down to something more reasonable, but right now even 2 G's is looking like a decent price to pay for a wonderful, tropical weekend in Jamaica.

So does anyone want to donate some money to my vacation fund? Pretty pretty please... :-)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Walls of Jericho - With Devils Amongst Us All CD Review

One sure fire way to get noticed in the music industry, especially in the overcrowded metalcore subgenre, is to have something unique to set your band apart from the stereotypes that are overly prevalent in the minds of the every day Hot Topic drones. Walls of Jericho have that certain something in Candace Kucsulain, a female lead singer. Sadly, you wouldn’t know it, though, just by listening.

Walls of Jericho’s previous effort, All Hail the Dead, managed to get their name out in the industry’s varied metalcore circles, but it utterly failed to do anything unique or memorable. Run of the mill, by the numbers, and abysmally average could all be used to describe that effort, so on With Devils Amongst Us All, there was hopefully only one direction for the band to go. The band, however, must have gotten confused when getting directions because they managed to take a sweeping sidestep with this release as opposed to taking a step forward.

Truth be told, the music is a little more mature this time around with a meatier sound buoyed by a slightly more contained vocal performance from Candace, which should keep all the hardcore meatheads happy. Now I say contained in the sense that she seems to have a handle on how to use her voice this time around as opposed to sounding like she’s merely doing her best tough guy impression. Yes, she still sounds extremely manly throughout this release, but she finally lets a little femininity through. The key word in that sentence being “little”.

Musically the band are making use of more straight up hardcore progressions to move the songs along, which keeps the band feeling raw instead of coming off too polished, which has become a problem in the metalcore genre recently. A few of the breakdowns manage to come across weakly, however, as the band seems to have a hard time finding a proper fit for them within the structures of their songs.

There are also a few missteps taken throughout the CD, none of them outright terrible but still noticeable, that detract from the overall vibe of the effort. For example, the use of melodic gang vocals on “The Haunted” detracts from the aggressive nature of the song and leads to it feeling sorely misplaced. Also misplaced is the inclusion of the song “No Saving Me” on this album. It’s not uncommon for a hardcore or metalcore band to throw a ballad onto a release, but usually it is reserved for the end of the disc, not directly after the most blistering song on the record and preceding another rocket fast hardcore anthem. To add insult to injury, the ballad sounds more like a Lacuna Coil b-side than a natural mellowing of Walls of Jericho’s sound.

Putting these items aside, however, you’ll find that this disc is competent, listenable, and aggressive, but at the same time it is not noteworthy, resoundingly average, and safe. Much like their last release, With Devils Amongst Us All will probably make a small splash in metalcore circles and then fade quickly into obscurity.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sounds of the Underground 2006

Last year the Sounds of the Underground tour made an attempt to fill a vacuum that seemed to exist in the summer festival scene. Warped Tour was around for the pop-punk and scenester kids. Ozzfest seemed geared towards the classic metal fans, as well as an older crowd. Taste of Chaos was set up for the trendy metalcore crowd. But nowhere was there a festival tour that had a simple lineup of rock solid hardcore and metal bands. Well, that’s what the Sounds of the Underground tour was created for, and this year it is back again, bigger and better than ever.

I had a chance to catch the festival as it made its way to Minnesota on August 5th, on a latter leg of the tour. With the tour having been going on for a month or so already, everything was working like a well oiled machine. Setup times were quite quick. The sound was well mixed, for the most part. The bands were on top of things. Set times weren’t missed. What this all led to was a very receptive and appreciative crowd.

Starting off the nearly nine hour long moshfest was Through the Eyes of the Dead. Their latest album was a respectably impressive slice of metalcore, albeit littered with small flaws, but that didn’t keep the band from throwing everything they had into their performance. Musically the band was extremely tight, but the vocals didn’t fare quite as well. The high pitch squeals, as good as they sound on disc, don’t translate as well to a live performance. By the end of the set I would have given anything for the mic to go out in order to save my hearing from the ear shattering screams that seemed to never relent.

With the crowd nicely riled up and starting to break a sweat, Evergreen Terrace took the stage and floored everyone there, including myself. There’s something to be said for a perfect balance between raw energy and being musically tight, and Evergreen Terrace walk that line perfectly. Each song was album quality, and at the same time the band was putting so much more energy into each song, it was nearly impossible not to feel a little bit of extra adrenaline seeping out of your adrenal glands. It’s just too bad that these guys couldn’t have kept playing because 20 minutes definitely weren’t enough. It felt more like a tease, but an acceptable tease.

Unfortunately after such a strong performance from Evergreen Terrace the next band on the bill was The Chariot. Having seen them before with their old lineup, they had left me less than impressed. Now, with two new members, the band is worse than ever. I have no problem saying that they put on one of the worst live performances I have seen in years. There have been college bar bands and art school project bands that come off better. The only way to describe the cacophony of noise that they were playing is to say that you and three friends could do better by simply picking up some instruments, banging on them relentlessly (seriously, don’t even try to play anything), and running around in ridiculous patterns in your living room.

Thank God that the almighty Behemoth came on shortly after the noise fest of The Chariot. Outside of Gwar, the most theatric band on the tour is easily Behemoth. Seeing them take the stage in their white makeup, medieval boots, and gothic attire was enough to get the crowd churning. It then turned to chaos once they started to play. Sadly they didn’t feel as tight as I would have hoped, but they still had stage presence to spare. They commanded the crowd with an iron fist. I didn’t realize how big of a following they had here in the States, but a solid majority of the crowd was getting into it, especially when they ripped into “Demigod”. These guys are seriously underappreciated by the US metal scene.

Not giving the crowd a chance to slow down, after a surprisingly quick set change, The Black Dahlia Murder took the stage and proceeded to shred away. On disc, I never found this band to be all that impressive, but their live show is energetic as all get out and undeniably tight. These guys can handle their instruments and they didn’t have to tell the crowd to get into it, everyone in the pit just did. Oddly, the band played about an equal mix from Miasma and Unhallowed, with the songs from Miasma sounding slightly better than the older tunes.

Going for the knockout blow, Terror coaxed every last bit of energy out of the crowd constantly imploring people crowd surf, jump around, get crazy, and make the security team earn their keep. And did they ever have to work for their money. The boys in Terror know how to tap into the most primal of emotions with their brand of brutal, simple, and heavy as hell hardcore. Having relatively few hardcore bands on this year’s tour, Terror pumped out more energy than most any other group of hardcore bands combined. Sticking mostly to classics, they also played some new songs off of their recently released effort, Always the Hard Way, which went over just as well as the oldies.

The crowd was finally given a couple of moments to get some water and a well needed break as the road crew set up the elaborate Gwar stage setup. After a little more than a 35 minute setup period, the costumed warriors took the stage. If you’ve seen Gwar, then you know what it was like—lots of spraying fake blood, piss, and goop into the crowd with different mock characters being brutalized and torn apart onstage while the band played their brand of metal. I know that Gwar has a devoted following, and I respect that, but musically they are pretty terrible. Sure, most people don’t come for their music (at least I hope not), but considering their stage show is a one trick pony, it would be nice to actually have something interesting to listen to for those of us who don’t care to get covered in red and yellow liquids. Regardless, the crowd was nuts. Would you expect anything less?

Once the cleanup crew had mopped up the stage and taken down all of the Gwar gear, Cannibal Corpse hit the stage… and bored the hell out everyone. Talk about a letdown. Outside of a dedicated following in the middle of the pit, no one seemed to give a crap about what was happening onstage, and for good reason—the band members did not move from their spots the entire set. They stood there, none of them moving an inch, playing a set list of songs that all sounded the same, and eventually finished. For being such an “intense” and inflammatory band, they were easily the most boring band of the day.

Attempting to get things back on track was Trivium. For a band that relies a lot on solos, it was unfortunate that the mixing was muddled for their set, leading to a muffling and over distortion of both of the guitarists’ playing. This band has always felt like a Metallica cover band with a more modern edge and their live set reinforced this notion even more. It was nearly impossible to ignore the heavy Metallica influence, especially when they covered about two minutes of “Master of Puppets”. Now this isn’t to say honoring your influences is a bad thing, but it would be nice to see the band put a little more of a personal spin on a formula that was pioneered way back in the 80’s.

With Trivium finished, it was time for the grand finale triumvirate of Machine Head, In Flames, and As I Lay Dying. The last two and a half hours of the festival were easily the best and well worth the wait. All of the other bands that had performed throughout the day, even the craze inducing Gwar, were simply the foreplay for the orgasm of metal to come.

Entering through a haze of fog, Machine Head started up the opening notes of “Imperium” as the crowd screamed in anticipation. Needless to say, once the song hit its stride, Rob Flynn and company had the entire venue in their capable hands. Their set was easily one of the heaviest of the day. The bulldozer riffs, pummeling drums, and heavy as hell tones were just as volatile live as they are in the studio.

After their gigantic entrance, they hit up some of their older tunes playing “Old” and “Bay of Pigs” back to back before taking a chance to inform the crowd that they were going to be entering the studio soon to record a new album. With that information put out there, they ripped into “Aesthetics of Hate”, a track they were going to be recording for their new album. It started and ended with mellow tones, which was a slightly interesting departure, but the middle of the song had the tried and true Machine Head grind going on, but this time around accompanied by a fair share of soloing. To end their set, the band pulled out “Davidian”, which was a spectacle to see with vocalists from many of the assorted bands coming out to scream out the chorus, “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!” This was easily the best performance of the day.

Even though they had to follow a monstrous set by Machine Head, the Swedes from In Flames put on a hell of a show themselves, covering their hits but also throwing in an unexpected track, “Come Clarity”, into the middle of their set. It was unexpected as it is one of their slower songs, so it was odd to see them shifting gears in the middle of their set, but it actually worked out quite well for them. If anything it softened up the crowd a little for the fast and furious end of their set that consisted of some of their older, quicker paced songs.

It should be noted that In Flames, as opposed to many bands who can get away with being slightly sloppy live, are extremely tight in their performance. The clarity of the distinct parts of each song was easily recognizable, even in such a large venue. It just goes to show that with time, practice, and experience a band actually can grow better and better.

The final performance of the day came from metalcore heavyweights As I Lay Dying. The crowd had died down to about half the size it was at for In Flames, with a mass exodus taking place as they set up As I Lay Dying’s gear. With a smaller, more intimate crowd, As I Lay Dying rocketed through 45 minutes of modern metalcore playing about half of their set from Shadows are Security and the other half from their older material. Surprisingly there were a couple of songs played from their old EP and even a song from Beneath the Encasing of Ashes, no doubt to get the kids to go pick up A Long March (the reissue of their older material, which just recently hit the shelves).

There was rarely a weak or non-energy filled moment throughout As I Lay Dying’s set. The crowd had plenty of opportunities to circle pit it up and knock each other around to the numerous breakdowns that are a staple for the style of metalcore that As I Lay Dying play. All in all it was a pretty strong set that made good on their exposure as the headliner of the festival.

At the end of the day, there really isn’t a more solid festival tour going around this summer that is worth the money. You won’t regret throwing down your money for the solid 8-9 hours of metal and hardcore mayhem that can be found at the Sounds of the Underground.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mutant Bugs

I have no clue where they are coming from or why they are infesting our house as of the last week, but I've ended up killing about a dozen horse flies, each the size of a quarter. What's really weird about it isn't that I've killed these gigantic suckers, but that there are only freakin' monstrous horse flies zooming around our house. I haven't seen a normal sized one yet.

Which leads me to wonder about these freakish bugs. Do they eat all of the smaller flies? The true alpha male fly--it devours all smaller competitors and claims the female fly for his own, defending her from any other tiny flies until challenged by the next mutantly huge alpha male. Come to think of it, this probably exists somewhere in nature and I'm sure there's been a Discovery Channel special on it.

I'm waiting to wake one of these days only to see one of my cat's or a roommate devoured by the king of this fly colony. Surely we're only seeing the drones flying around our house, scouting out the area, running reconnisance. Pretty soon we'll have a full scale invasion on our hands as we battle for this house. I just don't know what they could want.

But whatever, I guess I'm just weirded out by having huge flies finding their way into our house. The only thing I can think to keep doing is swatting away and hoping that Flothra, King of Flies, doesn't decide to pay a visit to check up on the troops.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Bright Spot in My Portfolio

Considering how badly the stock market has been in the crapper the last few months, it's refreshing to make a solid investment now and again to offset the sea of red stats that are all over in my investment portfolio. So I thank you, Nvidia, for totally kicking as much ass as you have been. When your stock rises over 30% in the less than a month I've owned it, I get very happy. Now just keep defying the market and rising so that I don't have to sell you!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where'd I Go?

My manager is out this week so I've been a little extra busy. And then tomorrow and Friday another one of the members of my team will be out so I'll be even more busy. So if you wonder why there ain't much happening on this site, just reread those two sentences a few times. It'll dawn on you eventually.