Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Music Review: Abscess- "Seminal Vampires and Maggot Men" LP

For Halloween we're looking at another classic piece of metal, finally reissued on vinyl in 2011 by Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. I don't often post about death metal albums, but this one was too brilliant to exclude from my collection. After Autopsy's initial breakup in the mid-90's, drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert gave his attention to this disgusting death metal and punk rock hybrid. The band's sick sense of humor and sickeningly catchy take on ear-grating metal has made them an absolute legend in the death metal underground, and this album, their proper debut, holds the honor of being one of my favorite death metal albums of all time.

The packaging of this reissue alone is worth the price of admission: a urine yellow piece of vinyl with "shit specks" of brown comes with an Abscess patch, an 11x17" poster and a refrigerator magnet, just in case. Additionally, with the high quality sound of vinyl, you can practically hear the phlegm being spat through your speakers as the band tears their way through this landmark death metal album. This wretched collection of songs should appeal equally to fans of punk, grindcore, crust, and death metal with great ease. The songs are short and simple, heavy on the low-end with vocals that sound like they're delivered by the villain in your favorite campy slasher flick. While the demise of Autopsy surely saddened metalheads worldwide, I feel like this album more than makes up for their temporary absence. Songs like "Patient Zero" and "Worm Sty Infection" are instantly memorable yet ugly enough to scare away casual fans of the more polished and sterile death metal bands that have oversaturated the metal community in the past decade. If the punky style presented on some tracks isn't enough to sicken you appropriately, then the creeping agony of songs like "Fatfire" will certainly test your threshold for ugliness.

This album is one of the best things to put on when cooking a delicious and unhealthy meal or when having friends over to drink and get wild. It's sick, it's fun, and it's fast. It makes me want to put on a leather vest and headbang until I'm sore and exhausted. When more bands start playing death metal like this, it's likely I'll be enticed to start listening to more new death metal again. Until then, I'm incredibly fortunate to still own a copy of this slab of thrashing insanity. Despite this album's cult status, the label apparently hasn't yet sold all 500 copies, and you'd be a fool if you didn't stop in and pick up a copy for yourself before the supplies dwindle into nothingness. Crank this one LOUD tonight and terrify the piss out of your neighbors.

Beer Review: Southern Tier's Pumking

(image from Southern Tier's website)

So now that we've reached Halloween itself, it's time to share my absolute favorite pumpkin beer. Southern Tier have made the pumpkin beer that made me forget my dislike for all things pumpkin themed. My skeptical attitude first changed just last autumn, when a friend shared a sip of hers at a bonfire. I instantly knew that I'd be trying every pumpkin beer I could get my hands on when the next autumn began. This experience set me on a pumpkin spree this year. I must say the results were quite mixed. Many of the pumpkin beers I tried were unimpressive, or even downright unpleasant. The few I chose to share surprised me. I wasn't sure if I'd be sold on very many at all. After a month of more pumpkin-y treats than I'd care to admit, this one still stands out on top.

I've had three encounters this year with his highness, the Pumking, and each one proved better than the last. The beer pours a clear and thin amber color, with almost no head to speak of. The scent is so full and wonderful. Rather than smelling disgustingly of pumpkin, the light scent of slightly toasty pumpkin pie is complemented by heavy and tantalizing spices.The taste is equally impressive. Both full of pumpkin and delicious spices, it presents a mixture of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and even a hint of possibly ginger or brown sugar. This beer is such an absolute pleasure to drink that I feel it'd be appropriate any time of year. It's warm enough for the winter yet smooth and crisp enough for the spring and summertime. Seriously a top choice. I'll likely be saving an extra bottle or two to enjoy in about six months when I start to miss this season.

I know it's not vanishing with the end of October, but usually this beer's supply dwindles over the next month or two, so I highly recommend grabbing it soon, even if you just plan on hoarding it for a later date. For a pairing, I suggest King Diamond's Fatal Portrait, if for no other reason than the legendary "Halloween." For those curious about the lack of images in this review, I apologize. My wonderful blog queue seems to have deleted images from a couple of my queued posts, and I already deleted the pictures I took from my hard drive. I apologize and will likely keep pictures stored for a slightly longer time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Music Review: Venowl- "Patterns of Failure" CD-r

Venowl are a band who present a major issue for me as a writer. I love music, especially harsh and chaotic music, the kind that often eludes definition. My problem as a writer is that no matter how peculiar and challenging an album or artist is, it's my duty to put abstract sounds and feelings into words. The restrictions of the English language put me in a rough position when writing about music like this. In other words, Venowl have created something so hideously compelling that it cannot be described.

Patterns of Failure is not Venowl's newest release, but has recently been reissued by the band. This material differs from the tune I previously reviewed on their 4-way split. This album was written by Venowl as a 3-piece with the aid of a guest vocalist, creating an oddly structured spiral of noisy terror. The album starts at the pace of a funeral march and simply builds upon itself until it becomes a towering monument to wretchedness. The vocals howl from every direction as if carried by the wind.  The production retains a level of clarity that surprises me given how murky this music is. If this is to be called black metal, it's primarily in spirit, as these songs sound like the most horrifying take on sludge I've ever heard, if it can even be labeled as such. The tuning is low, the pace is slow, yet the music fits no classification. It's not a problem for anybody other than myself, as I wish so desperately to describe this music yet struggle to do so.  If anything, the nameless filth that Venowl creates deserves its own subcategory. If somebody came up to me looking for new black metal, I would not instantly think of Venowl. If somebody came up to me looking for new sludge or noise, I would not instantly think of Venowl. If somebody came up to me and asked for something ugly and new, Venowl would be one of the first bands I could recommend. I don't think a band has confused my vocabulary and senses in such a way since I first was introduced to the overwhelming sounds of Nurse With Wound so many years ago.

In no way is my lack of words meant to signify disapproval of this band. In fact, I find it refreshing to hear something that brings so many visuals to mind, yet so few musical terms. As I've been attending a music class in college lately, I've been thinking in terms of melody, harmony, and structure so frequently that I have almost forgotten how nice it can be to enjoy music that simply bleeds itself all over the listener and requires no other basis for enjoyment. I seldom find myself this energized by music so slow, but there's a violent intensity here that knows no pace. If you're at all intrigued by this ugly and dirge-like music, you can give it a listen on Venowl's bandcamp or buy it directly from the band, thereby funding future sonic torment from these talented individuals. They've only got 50 copies of the album created for this run, so hurry up if you want a piece of this mess for yourself. For a beer pairing, the band themselves have recommended Victory's Storm King Imperial Stout, and I couldn't agree more. It's dark, bitter, and complex. Much like Venowl, it's description makes it sound unappealing, but it's worthwhile if you're a patient sipper (or listener).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Music Review: Wulkanaz- "HNI" Cassette

Every now and then a band sits right on the edge of my thoughts. I hear their name, I see folks mention them, and I sometimes even take a minute or two to research them online, but I don't give them a proper listen because I've usually got dozens of bands on my "to hear" list at any given point. Such was the case with Wulkanaz until the past week or two. After months of hearing the name, I finally gave the Wulkana EP a listen and realized I'd seriously been missing out. Two days later, I got word that Wohrt Records was about to release the newest Wulkanaz tape. Needless to say, obtaining a copy for myself was mandatory. While the tapes are already sold out at the label, I feel that mentioning Wohrt's efforts on my blog is long overdue, and this release is proof of it, even if the majority of my readers will struggle to find this music.

The first thing I must say is that the packaging and presentation are above average, which is always rather satisfying to me. In addition to a hand-bound booklet to house the cassette, this release comes with a patch and a sticker. It's a simple detail that really adds up as a fan of music. Bonuses like this are what can help entice the younger generation realize that owning physical copies of music is more rewarding than simply pirating a collection of mp3s. As if the stellar packaging weren't enough, this cassette is everything one would hope for from a respectable artist and a high quality label. The A side opens with chanting voices in a ritualistic fashion, setting the perfect dark atmosphere for the stripped-down, driving black metal that the subsequent tracks provide. While some black metal feels rooted in tremolo picking and thick atmospheres that are more for listening than performing, I can imagine these songs would translate quite well in an intense live setting if Wulkanaz were not a solo project. The drums and guitar play back and forth in a way that causes me to involuntarily bob my head. I promise you'll do the same. This is well executed black metal in a very simple and pure form. The riffs are instantly memorable due to their clarity and frequent repetition. Where some bands would come across as monotonous, Wulkanaz instead uses repetition to create an instant familiarity with each song. I've only listened to the tape twice so far but even on my second listen, I can instantly recall the tunes and find myself enjoying them just as well as I did the first time.

While this tape is off the market already, I highly advise my readers to keep an eye out for future Wulkanaz releases. This music is simply amazing. While there is certainly a sense of variation from song to song, the lack of frivolous additions to the music is refreshing. Everything that Wulkanaz presents feels like it needs to be in the song, nothing more. Additionally, while this is Wohrt's newest release, expect me to cover the back catalog of Wohrt Records over the next few months, as almost every cassette I've received from this label should be considered necessary listening.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beer Review: Innis & Gunn's "Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer"

This beer is a sneaky one. The bottle is unassuming and modest. There's no flashy packaging, no absurdly high price tag. It's not made by a brewery actively riding the current craft beer craze with a hundred different drinks on the market. It's a simple and attractive bottle, explaining what the beer is and little else. That should be all this beer needs to sell itself, but it probably isn't. I was hesitant at first, but appearances are often deceiving, so I brought home this modest little monster from Innis & Gunn and I'm currently a very happy camper.

The beer pours a pretty average head, which dissipates relatively quickly. Even the first sniff of this beer confused me. The aroma was almost reminiscent of many standard pilsner type beers, which I tend to find unexciting. While there's a certain faint, musty sweetness to the nose, it's pretty mellow and tame, which makes the flavor such a huge and wonderful surprise. My first sip was an oak-filled flavor explosion. So was my second. This beer in its simple bottle with its mild aroma has some of the biggest and most surprising flavor of any beer I've tried lately. The actual beer is full of caramel, raisin, and other sweetly intoxicating tastes. With each sip I feel like I'm peeling back another layer of this beer's medley of tastes. It's got a fair kick (7.4%)  that you can definitely taste, and it's a malty, rich, and wonderful experience.

What I expected to be a rather standard beer experience is quickly making its way onto my "will buy again" list. I encourage you to do the same. While many of the currently popular breweries are making bizarre and exciting beers with all sorts of peculiar names and labels, this is an incredibly well made beer with enough depth to dominate even the fiercest competition. If you find a bottle, grab it. I've had its non-rum cask cousin, which was quite good, but I definitely recommend spending the extra dollar or two for this gem.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quick Fix: Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA

My friend Brad and I were fortunate enough to grab a goblet of Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA on draft from one of my preferred local watering holes last week. If you're a bit of a beer geek like myself, you'll know that this is one of those beers that appears infrequently and sells out quickly. I'm not often an IPA drinker, as the hops tend to dominate other flavors, but this beer proves the great potential an IPA can hold. This dark amber beauty has a light aroma of citrus and a slightly foamy head. Upon sipping, the sweet flavors of honeysuckle and orange blossom contrast the tangy bite of hoppy bitterness. While the bite can be a bit intimidating, this beer is worth trying at least once, preferably with a friend. Drinking it alone can be a bit daunting with its 17% ABV, so this tasty drink makes a good excuse to invite a friend out for a beer. Cheers!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Free Music Friday: Yellow Eyes/Monument split cassette

Today's Free Music Friday was directly caused by a previous review I made. While finding the proper links for folks looking to hear Yellow Eyes' debut cassette, I happened across information about this little wonder. Monument were a band I had heard of before, but had not yet heard. Given how strong my love for Yellow Eyes' debut was, I refused to even peruse the tracks on bandcamp and simply placed my order. While some may view this as a risky move, I knew it would be impossible to grasp the intensity of this music without holding it in my hand and listening to it through my stereo system. When it arrived in the mail (a week ago today) I was thrilled. I was spending the afternoon with a friend and didn't have the opportunity to listen to it, but I kept sneaking peeks at the tape and daydreaming about the music contained within. I told myself I'd hold off for a few weeks before featuring this band again in my blog. This morning I decided against that. This cassette needs to be featured now, while actual purchase is still an option for those who aren't merely content with a free download.

Starting things off with Yellow Eyes' contribution to the tape, I'm immediately aware of two things: they've added a new member to the band since their last recording, and these songs are noticeably longer than any track on their first cassette. Opening track "The Solid Chime of Matching Bone With Harder Strength" slowly creeps in with distant ambiance, which builds towards a full force aural assault that the band carries through both of their tracks here. Anything nice I said about the first cassette is equally true, if not enhanced upon, in this release. The drums are perfectly produced, and the guitars are fuzzy enough to create a great atmosphere but nothing of the musicality is lost. The first song is nearly ten minutes long, which gives me hope that soon Yellow Eyes will be crafting epics upwards of ten minutes in length on their next effort. Few bands can hold my attention for such a span, but Yellow Eyes certainly know how to keep me focused. Rather than dully plodding along, these two tracks sound equally chaotic and beautiful. The peculiar high-pitched dissonant leads that caught my attention on their debut are still here, but are fused with rhythmic passages that complement them perfectly. This music makes me feel like I'm marching towards my death through heavy rain. It's truly brilliant.

Flipping the tape over, it's time for an introduction to Monument. Like Yellow Eyes, Monument provides two lengthy tracks here. Judging by the image on the insert, it's safe to say this is a solo affair, which makes the fullness of this music even more impressive. Monument's opening track "Milchama (Wound)/Coughing Up the Blood of Hope and Love" starts with a very warm feeling drone, almost like the one ray of sunlight making its way through complete darkness (I'm assuming this is the Milchama part). When the drone fades out, Monument conjures up a swirling mess of lo-fi black metal perfection. This side of the cassette has that fuzzed out feeling I love so much, where I get the feeling that the band is performing in the middle of a foggy forest and I'm hearing the music from about a mile away. This music feels much more ritualistic and purposeful than a lot of newer bands, which gets a huge thumbs up from me. There are many slower passages here, that lack not in intensity, but merely serve to create a stronger atmosphere. It's clear that while the music is slightly more stripped down than the A side of the cassette, it's intentionally so, and the mood is denser and darker here. With the bleak beauty of Monument and the spiraling fury of Yellow Eyes, this tape is perfectly paired without simply containing two identical artists.

For those who haven't already made their way to the bandcamp page for this release, I advise you do so now. It's listed at "name your price" and it's required listening whether or not you have a cassette player. If you're into the experience of owning a physical copy, this tape is one of the most well packaged cassettes I've ever received. It's clear that Sol Y Nieve is committed to creating some of the most attractive album experiences, inside and out. Click the label's name to obtain your own copy of this masterpiece for only $5 if the free download just won't cut it for you. I know it wouldn't be enough for me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Music Review: Din of Awakening- "Demo II" Cassette

Din of Awakening are an entity that have been drawing my interest for a relatively short span of time. Just a few months ago, I'd never heard of them. After noticing their debut cassette was featured on SVN OKKLT, I decided to give them some attention. An initial listen didn't fully capture my attention, yet I felt compelled to listen again. The first demo from Din of Awakening eventually grew on me, with its hazy and oppressive songs pairing nicely with its obvious inspiration from cult film Begotten. When I learned they had a second demo being released so shortly after, I was quite excited and decided to obtain a copy for myself. As a shared release from Fallen Empire in the US and Mordgrimm in the UK, this is another promising release from this young one-man project.

This second slab of filth is instantly very different. These three untitled tracks carry a strong death metal influence that the first demo lacked. Vocals are more present and aggressive and there's a greater sense of urgency here. The packaging is well designed yet sparse, primarily calling for support for the Animal Liberation Front, a group whose intense and urgent message pairs quite well with the aggression presented on this demo. The first track switches between melodic leads and bass heavy beat downs that would put modern day hardcore bands to shame in the best way possible. The second track comes in more slowly yet with equal aggression and almost has a groove you can pick out and move along with. About halfway in the volume drops considerably, making time for a quick bass solo before the entire song comes back with redoubled force and purpose. The shift in music gave me a slight alarm and I believe it was intentional. The unpredictable nature of this music is what makes it so compelling, after all. The closing track opens with feedback and fuzzy riffs that remind me of material from the first Din of Awakening demo, yet the production here is still much meatier and more balanced. This is probably the most typically black metal track on the album, although it's currently my personal favorite.

If you're interested in hearing these three hideous enigmas, you can listen in full before making a purchase. As with a handful of other recently reviewed albums, this cassette can be obtained in the Fallen Empire store for the pretty reasonable price of five dollars. With such a prolific project, I expect there will be many more Din of Awakening albums to come. Get on board before these sell out. For a beer pairing, I recommend any thick, dark beer. Even a standard Guinness will do the trick. You want something intense and thick, just like this music.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beer Review: Dogfish Head's Miles Davis Bitches Brew

Today's review focuses on a beer that holds great memories as well as great flavor. Without focusing too much on my personal experience, I can honestly say that every word contained here is based just as much on the quality of the drink as it is on my personal associations with this beer. It was the first beer I purchased for my partner on the eve of her 21st birthday, and it happened to be one of the finer beers either of us had tried. Every October, we make a point to get at least one bottle so that we can enjoy this well crafted beer and continue our annual tradition.

As for the beer itself, this is one dark, intense experience in which you can really get lost. This beer pours as black and thick as night with a moderately foamy, dark brown head. Initially crafted to honor the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis' landmark album, this beer tastes as bold and exciting as Miles' music must have been back in 1970 when the world wasn't quite as accustomed to such sounds. This beer is three parts imperial stout and one part honey beer with gesho root, and while the initial flavor is purely bitter and dark like the stout would have you believe, there's the subtle sweetness in the aftertaste and a smoothness of drinking that most imperial stouts don't provide. As with many imperial stouts, the aroma and flavor are heavy with cocoa and coffee flavors, but there really is so much more to this beer than that.

I also need to mention the addition of gesho here. I'm not going to lie and pretend I was familiar with it before doing my research for this review, but I'm fascinated with its inclusion in this beer. Gesho is a plant that grows in Ethiopia and is often used similarly to hops, in order to create a mead-like drink brewed with honey. This exotic and bold experiment is a perfect example of Dogfish Head's legendary commitment to providing drinkable and unique beers to the average American drinker. Much like the album Bitches Brew introduced many unsuspecting folks to wilder and more electric sounds than the average jazz album, (myself included), this beer will hopefully introduce dark beer drinkers to sweeter and smoother tastes and will hopefully introduce fans of lighter beers to the vast potential of the stout. This beer will be leaving stores soon, so rush out and grab a bottle or three. It's perfect. It's worth it. And if for some reason you aren't into jazz music or haven't heard the album this beer is named after, give it a chance and you may be surprised. Even this extreme metal geek can't help but spin this album on occasion. Sit back, pour yourself a glass, and get lost in the darkness of this beer and the beauty of this album.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beer Review: Anchor Brekle's Brown Ale

Today I'm examining a beer from my native region, the San Francisco bay area. Anchor Brewing Company were one of the first breweries to enter my vocabulary when I first came of age, so it's fitting that I'm including a beer of theirs that I've never had before. When I first turned 21, I would often go to the liquor store around the corner to grab a bottle of Anchor Steam, as I found it preferable to many of the other beers that were readily available and within my price range. I had no concept of the diverse flavors beer could have nor did I know the difference between cheap malt liquor and high quality craft beers. Still, I knew I was drawn to beers with a richer flavor, more meant for sipping than chugging. In the honor of my own nostalgia, I'm drinking a beer that is equally nostalgic for the brewery.

Named after Anchor's first brewmaster, Gottlieb Brekle, this beer builds on a traditional brown ale in the finest of ways. Pouring a beautiful, rich brown with a slightly foamy head, this beer's malty aroma gives little warning of the broad array of flavors that will sweep across your palate. This is instantly smooth and enjoyable, even to those without much of a taste for beer, as its darkness and thickness are contrasted nicely by an almost honey-like sweetness. There's a slight feeling of crisp, delicate bubbles on my tongue as I swallow the last of each sip, which leaves a pleasant warmth in my mouth. This beer is rather middle of the road in alcohol content for a craft beer (6%), so I imagine it would be great to bring a couple bottles of this to a social event where the goal is to have a drink in hand without getting heavily intoxicated.

As with anything based on an old recipe, I really enjoy imagining that one of my great grandfathers may have enjoyed beers like this in his younger years. As somebody with a strong desire and love for relics of the past, this beer appeals to me greatly and happens to taste just as good as I'd hoped. This doesn't appear to be a particularly limited beer, but this was definitely the first time I'd seen it before. For a musical pairing, I'm listening to NPR's stream of the new Pig Destroyer album, Book Burner, which comes out today. It's also a brand new experience from an old favorite that I loved well before I understood their genre or why they appealed to me: the perfect pairing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Beer Review: Green Flash/Founders Linchpin White IPA

This blog often features collaborative efforts from some of the extreme metal underground's most daring musicians, yet has primarily reviewed beers that are made by only one brewery. Today I'm changing that. This white IPA (the first I've ever had) is the result of two breweries I've never explored combining their efforts to make a bold and delicious beer. Green Flash are a young brewery from San Diego whom I've heard much about but haven't yet sampled. Founders are a brewery I'd never heard of before buying this beer, and it sadly appears that I'm not able to purchase any of their beers in the state of Florida. Drat.

On to the beer itself, we've got a beautiful golden pour with an incredibly strong, foamy head that never fully fades away. The scent is heavy with fragrant pine and the sweetness of citrus, but the taste is primarily the piney tastes of hops that is the trademark of IPAs. This beer drinks more smoothly than the standard IPA, which is often hoppy and bitter to the point where many new drinkers are put off. This would be a great introduction to the high potential of the IPA format. This is smooth and tangy without being hoppy enough to warrant a grimace. As I get deeper into the beer, I'm finding a strong orange flavor is coming out and it's perfect. As with many beers, half the depth of the flavor is hitting me as I exhale after each sip, which really provides interesting surprises with this solid beer. Much like the diverse pairing of breweries, the beer seems to open up with slightly different flavors with each sip. It's a really beautiful beer and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to give it a shot.

It was recently suggested by an acquaintance that I begin suggesting music and beer pairings for each review. While I'll primarily do this for albums rather than beers, I'm going to begin this tradition by pairing this beer with the equally complex split from Sadness Saturn and Golden Raven, with its harsh and beautiful moments complementing a beer both bitter and smooth.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Music Review: Departure Chandelier- "The Black Crest of Death, The Gold Wreath of War" Demo Cassette

This is a special review for me. While I've always been a huge fan of black metal, I was a relatively casual listener for the past number of years due to my own lack of time spent on the internet. Without any friends who were actively into the music and no resources for finding new bands or record labels, I didn't have much of an opportunity to discover new music or support the underground community. About a year ago, I finally got a laptop computer and started socializing with some folks who shared exciting new music with me. One of my friends tipped me off to a fantastic (and now defunct) blog called Filth and Misanthropy, which introduced me to many of the groups I've been enjoying for the past year of my life. The very first post on that blog was a link to this cassette. While I was instantly drawn to it, it took me a good long while to find a seller based in the United States (as I try to avoid paying international shipping rate). Now that I have it in my collection, I figure it's time for me to share a band that helped me remember why I started loving black metal in the first place.

Departure Chandelier are a purposefully mysterious group. In keeping with black metal tradition, the pseudonyms given for the musicians leave little hint as to the actual identities of the members. According to their page on the Encyclopedia Metallum, they've got members of Ash Pool and Akitsa, which should instantly tell you the high quality black metal contained in this tape. Presented here are two tracks of perfectly executed atmospheric black metal with ominous ambient pieces serving as bookends to this excellent demo. While some bands' production level is simply lower as a matter of cost, the murky production on this album serves to add a foggy beauty to the captivating music created here. Given the high production standards of the aforementioned Ash Pool, it's quite obvious that this is an intentional artistic choice, and it serves this piece of art quite nicely. Preceded an ominous drone of bells, the title track is one of the most addictive black metal pieces I've ever heard, with certain passages equally memorable as any riff from the legendary second wave black metal groups. It opens with haunting keyboards and jagged guitars that call to mind a slower-paced version of In the Nightside Eclipse-era Emperor. That's a huge claim to make, I'm aware, but this totally capture the same sense of awe I felt when I first heard that album. The harsh production and the simple yet gorgeous music perfectly sum up what drew me into black metal: the beauty behind the chaos. If you're a bit patient, one of the catchiest keyboard lines I've heard pops up around six minutes in. I'm a sucker for a great melody, and these guys definitely deliver. The third track (and second full song), "Consecrating the Flame of Resistance," is equally brilliant. It's a bit more aggressive and faster paced, but still has some incredibly wonderful melodic moments as well. While two tracks is a bit short for an album, this demo clocks in at just under twenty minutes and is the perfect introduction to an amazing band.

This album as a whole is both challenging and enticing. This isn't the most confrontational or aggressive album I've heard, but it's one of the most palatable cassettes to join my collection in quite some time. It appears their label, Tour De Garde, still has some copies available. Both the music and packaging are top notch here. I got mine through discogs, so I missed out on the awesome Tour De Garde sticker that this album typically comes with. Grab a copy fast, as I'm not sure how many are left. This album's been out for over a year and I can't imagine they're going to last forever.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Free Music Friday: Wizard Smoke- "The Speed of Smoke"

It's time for another weekend, which means another new album for you to study and enjoy. Today's free album comes courtesy of Atlanta-based sludgelords Wizard Smoke. If the name seems a bit ridiculous to you, then you probably shouldn't read on. While their name conjures up images of Gandalf enjoying his pipeweeds, their music is sure to bash in your skull at a slow and steady pace.

Opening this massive album is the intimidating "Dead Wood," a mid-paced jam with distant shrieks cutting through the thick and heavy layers of guitars and drums. All the harsh vocals on this album sound as though they're being screamed from across a vast chasm, or perhaps from an evil wizard calling out from another dimension. I'm a sucker for that distant reverb-heavy sound, and Wizard Smoke seem to be on the same page. Despite their love for a good groove, these guys aren't afraid to get a bit spacey and psychedelic, which is an excellent addition. There are so many solid guitar leads throughout the album, adding layers of light and contrast to the bleak cosmic doom that makes up the majority of this band's songwriting. It's the little accents that really bring out the strengths of a band like Wizard Smoke. Solid repetition can be enjoyable, but the subtle variations that may go unnoticed keep a steady groove from becoming a monotonous task. I find myself nodding my head along through the entire 45 minutes of this mammoth of an album, which is pretty awesome. My personal favorite track on the album is the psychedelic dirge, "Weakling," which features heavily processed vocals that sound alien in origin over a solid, aggressive groove, which eventually boils over and dissolves into the haunting intro for the nearly eleven minute epic, "Growing." If you want to get down to some great sludge, find it here.

Each song on this album has a sold mix of old and new ideas. Some of the riffs feel like they were pulled from the same bluesy swamps from which Black Sabbath crafted their first album, and some moments here feel like they'd be more at home sharing a stage with the ferocity of a band like Thou. It's really wonderful to have a band cover the entire progression of a genre in one album like this. I feel like I've listened to five equally relevant blues, metal, and rock albums in the time it took me to listen to this one piece of metal fury. If you're into any sort of slow and heavy music, you should give this album a listen. After all, the band themselves have it up for free download on their website. If you're like me and think you may want a physical copy of this beast after your repeated visits with this smoky stompy album, the band appear to have some copies of the cassette left in their online store for only five bucks. Doom on, and I'll see you next Friday for another freebie.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beer Review: Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale

So here I am, the pumpkin beer skeptic posting another review of a pumpkin beer. Why? Because this one's too damn good not to share. I don't have an immense amount of details to share because it's a simple yet blissful experience. You may have noticed that I haven't posted many reviews of pumpkin beers. I tried quite a few, but felt they weren't worth reviewing. It's not really in my nature to waste anybody's time just to say "you probably shouldn't buy this," so despite my previous promise to share my favorite pumpkin beers, there just haven't been that many. Despite my aversion for the style, it's safe to say that Weyerbacher pretty much always impress me with their commitment to brewing some of the highest quality craft beers I've had the pleasure of tasting.

This partcular beer is a bit on the bitter side, but that's where I prefer my drinks anyway. The dominant flavor here is cloves rather than the sweeter cinnamon and nutmeg which overwhelm most other pumpkin inspired beers. This beauty pours a thick amber colored body, with a moderate but not extreme head. The scent is appropriately autumnal: slightly spiced and slightly sweet. Drinking this beer evokes more than just pumpkin in my mind. I remember the chilly autumn afternoons when I used to smell the fallen leaves. I smell and taste autumn as a whole in this beer. It's the summary of the smells and tastes of the season with an emphasis on the pumpkin pie that brought the whole family together. If there's any one pumpkin beer you try this year, be sure to give that honor to this delicious treat.

As this is a seasonal ale, I seriously recommend you grab yourself a bottle or a pack of it now. While the price might decrease after the month or season end, it's more likely that the stores will be out of stock before this beer's run is over. It's that good. Get it now and impress your friends with your stunningly good taste.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music Review: Horseback/Njiqahdda/Venowl/Cara Neir split Cassette

Well, this review is quite the undertaking. Handmade Birds has produced another monstrous split cassette from four of the most daring and unique bands in extreme music today. Each of these groups has a distinctive sound, even apart from the other groups sharing this cassette, which makes this split a unique and cherished addition to any collection. Since there's a lot to review here, I'm jumping from the intro right into the details. Here we go.

Side A of this cassette features one track each from Horseback and Njiqahdda. Horseback open things up with the off-kilter track "Heathen Earth," possibly a nod to the Throbbing Gristle album of the same name. As any Horseback listener knows, they tend to keep their music unpredictable and this is no exception. The opening of this tune is as funky as anything I could imagine them doing, yet builds up in a very ceremonial fashion, as if the band has prepared to summon the very song itself. I envision walking up to a fire-lit ritual where Horseback is waiting to guide the listener into the deeper recesses the rest of the tape will explore. Layers of droning guitar and elevating feedback build over the steady pulse of drums and bass playing in unison as the song makes its way into more familiar Horseback territory, complete with intense black metal inspired vocals and the foggy atmospherics they've built their reputation upon. Even at its thickest and most intense, this song maintains a shimmering, trance-like beauty which will likely appeal to folks who aren't as well versed in music of this nature. The incredibly prolific Njiqahdda follow with the monumental "Towers Constructed to Break the Sky," which is also featured upon their recently released Towers and Tides EP. The production here is noticeably cleaner and this music is more technically slanted, yet the band manages to maintain an atmosphere of beauty and passion despite it. The drums are incredibly well played and produced, which I'm always delighted to hear. When the clean introduction caves in to the distorted guitars and faster drumming about a minute in, it feels so seamless. The bellowed vocals have the mud-covered inflection of groups far sludgier, bringing to mind Neurosis more than most progressive-leaning extreme metal groups, which is a nice touch. The song's title and musical textures work quite nicely to evoke imagery of man's constant ambition towards self-deification, which is a pleasant excursion for my mind to embark upon. The peaks and valleys of Njiqahdda's track are easy to follow and despite its great length, it's no great effort to listen and be captivated through its entirety.

The B side of this tape contains a new track from Venowl and three songs from Cara Neir, whose aggression has already graced this blog.  Venowl's contribution, simply titled "III," provides a stark contrast to the melodic tones of the prior two groups, delving into the fuzz and filth that I so often speak about throughout this blog. The pace is slow, the guitars and drums tend to attack at the same moment, making each pulse of the song painfully delightful. This feels like it was recorded in a poorly lit basement in the true fashion of classic black metal, but with a different take on the sounds of the genre. The vocals are shrill and tormented, the production is murky yet does nothing to mar the intensity here, and the band's dissonant attack on the listener provides little to soothe or relieve the tension they create. The entire song makes me feel like I'm being dragged headfirst down a stairwell into a dungeon while hearing the screams of other prisoners. I'd love to know what the lyrics are, as I have a feeling these guys have some pretty dark inspirations behind their hideous assault. Closing this split are three intense cuts from Cara Neir, starting with the pitch black fury of "Minus His Confidence." While the band certainly haven't given up their outside influences, this song is as close to pure black metal as anything I've heard from them and it absolutely shreds. Despite the absurd pace of the song, these guys still manage to fit in a break for a wild guitar solo and a few other little touches of brilliance. For a pair of young musicians, these guys are quickly carving out a niche for themselves, and hopefully other equally talented groups will begin to follow suit. The meaty punk-inspired blackness of "No Right Path" feels like another full-on assault, although it's a fraction of the length of closing masterpiece, "Seize and Exist." This seven minute tune returns to more of Cara Neir's trademark territory, opening with chaos all across the board that hones itself into a pummeling blackened attack, marching forcefully onward just long enough to surprise the listener when the song breaks down into a spacey dirge a couple of minutes in. For a band drawing from such a broad range of influences, these guys continue to impress me with their ability to meld it all together without sounding forced or pretentious.

This entire cassette impressed the hell out of me, to be honest. I figured I'd be able to pick a standout track or particular artist whose music touched me in a particular way, but each group's contribution is so unique and enjoyable that I'm just going to recommend you get a copy and that you do it quickly. Only 250 of these gems were made and I see the price escalating quickly via discogs and ebay once these sell out. Get it for only 9 bucks from Handmade Birds. It's already sold out over at EEE Recordings, but you should check out that store if you're interested in more Njiqahdda related releases, they've got a ton of great stuff.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Music Review: Kuxan Suum's self-titled LP.

Today I'm examining a new release from Fallen Empire Records, a vinyl reissue of two tracks from Black Twilight Circle artist, Kuxan Suum.As with many groups in the Black Twilight Circle, Kuxan Suum are quick to differentiate themselves from the standard pack of modern black metal artists. This whole album feels like a journey through both the vastness of space and the infinity within oneself. While the two tracks were recorded a year and a half apart (and with an additional musician on the b-side track), this is the product of a highly talented and unique black metal group whom I hope to hear from again in the future.

Side A contains the track that introduced me to Kuxan Suum, the mighty "Kinich Ahau."  Clocking in at seventeen minutes, this song is every bit the journey it should be. For a song bearing the Yucatec name of the Mayan sun god, this song is quite appropriately composed. It captures both the immensity of such a deity as well as the reverent beauty of a worshiper.  While I've heard it through my tinny computer speakers many times before, this is my first listen on a decent system and the difference is astonishing. The swelling beauty of the first few minutes of this track is so wonderfully presented on vinyl and the tense anticipation is so much more present in this format. While I always share youtube links to the albums posted here (if possible), this record makes a strong case for purchasing physical copies of an album. The crispness and intensity I'm experiencing listening to this makes it feel like I've never heard this song before.  When the vocals kick in, it's a howling and overwhelming experience of chaos and beauty. The lyrics are sung in Spanish and from what I can decipher, they're quite beautiful and inspired. (I speak Spanish, I just happen to have a hard time reading the handwritten lyrics in the sleeve for this song).

Side B presents another aural adventure for the listener with the song "Principle of Harmonic Resonance," originally released on the stellar Odour of Dust & Rot compilation from Rhinocervs. At a mere eleven minutes long, this tune is "short" by the standards Kuxan Suum have set forth with the opener. With time a little tighter here, the band jump right into a primal aggression on this excellent track. The addition of a bassist is quite apparent as well, despite the presence of some bass guitar on the other tune. With lyrics in English for this track, the deeply spiritual and transcendent nature of this band's message is more apparent to the lazy listener (and possibly lazy author). While I own the cassette this originally appeared on, it feels beefier and more fierce here, although that may also be because I'm enjoying it at maximum volume currently. Another pleasant change on this tune is the addition of keys. If that phrase makes you anxious, it shouldn't. There are no hints of symphonic cheesiness, just a beautiful addition that helps complete a fantastic piece of music. As the song ends, it's hard not to feel like you've witnessed something greater than you realized.

While many may find it strange to purchase a record with only two tracks, each of these is lengthy enough to justify a purchase. Adding in the high quality of the packaging and stellar sound, it's hard to state just how wonderful this is to finally own. Grab yourself a copy from Fallen Empire before they're out and mourn the recent closing of Crepusculo Negro in an honorable fashion. I acquired this along with a few other new Fallen Empire releases, so expect a week or two with a lot of content surrounding this worthy label.

Beer Review: Hevelius Kaper

This one's another recommendation from a friend. After posting about my beloved Zywiec Porter a little bit ago, I was encouraged to give Hevelius Kaper a try. I definitely enjoy this beer, but am slightly on the fence about its ability to challenge my beloved Zywiec. It's brewed by the same company, but is a very different kind of beer from its cousin. Where Zywiec Porter focuses on a dark, bitter flavor that removes the illusion that well-crafted beers a recent trend, Hevelius Kaper is evidence that the lighter beers of the world can still pack a high alcohol content and great flavor without compromising on smoothness.

Hevelius Kaper pours a rich amber color with a thin yet noticeable head. There's a very faint aroma of honey, it seems, but it's nothing I can taste when I drink it. This tastes like a more sophisticated, complicated version of the beers I drank when I first reached legal drinking age. As a pilsner, it makes sense. Most popular cheap American beers are variations on the traditional pilsner, which may be why I am always reluctant to consume a pilsner. Despite the negative connotations the term has in my mind, I'm finding this to be very drinkable and delicious. With a higher alcohol content, there's a bit more of a refreshing bite at the end of a sip and there's very little of the the effervescent quality that most beers of this nature carry. So instead of belching my way through a bubbly beer, I'm enjoying a nice spike of alcohol at the end of every smooth and delicious sip.

While this beer is not quite ready to make its way into my personal hall of fame, it's definitely got me eager to try more light, smooth beers. I guess this demonstrates that, like everybody else, I could seriously benefit from challenging my own perceptions more often. I'm really glad I gave this beer a chance, and I hope you'll all try it at least once as well. I can't find an official website aside from the Zywiec site, but there's little information about this beer outside of beer rating website. Should somebody responsible for the creation of this beer happen upon my blog, please link me to your website so I can direct my readers to you.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Music Review: Mütiilation- "Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul" LP

Keeping with the spirit of this blog's name, I proudly present what I consider to be one of black metal's most important albums. Probably the most well known project from the French LLN community, Mütiilation needs little introduction. This band is the vile child of sole member Meyhnach's twisted mind. While the project is no longer active, it enjoyed a lengthy run of quality output, my favorite of which is this phenomenal album. There have been a few prior releases of this album, but the copy I have here is the 2012 release from Dark Adversary Productions, which Meyhnach himself has officially given his seal of "cursed" approval. The packaging is minimal, mocks "a Colombian wanker's shit label" that apparently did poor business with Meyhnach in 1993 and features no insert or details. I find the bleak, minimal, and incredibly negative packaging to be the most appropriate presentation for an album so hideous and unpleasant. If the artwork and intensity of the band's apparent vision don't drive away the unprepared, putting the record on the turntable will clear a room of black metal wannabes in a heartbeat.

The album opens with the intimidating and wretched "Suffer the Gestalt," which crawls from minimal drumming with eerie groaning into violent vocals and buzzing treble-heavy guitars. The churning misery here is both appalling and fascinating. This is clearly the work of a young artist on what is likely an infinitely slim budget, yet the passion is apparent and ferocious. The guitars drop in and out wherever Meyhnach sees fit, rather than the dense walls of sound being created by his Norwegian peers around the same time. Whereas most black metal of this era was majestic and natural, this was introspective, hateful and raw. The song tapers out much the same way it wanders in. Following it is the barrage of "To the Memory of the Dark Countess." Where "Suffer the Gestalt" is ominous and sparse, this song is thick and driving. An almost punk-inspired drumbeat carries through much of the song and the guitars lean much more towards minor chords and other trademarks that often accompany "depressive" black metal. I'm no scholar, but I'll say this album (which is a compilation of Mütiilation's prior works) likely paved the way for many popular depressive black metal groups that came in later to capitalize on their own misery. Hands down, this is some of the most violent and wonderful black metal I've come across. I first heard it years ago when I was just getting into the genre, and I didn't know what to make of it then. I still have no idea how to fully digest this music, but I know it's totally addictive for me. I can't say enough how thrilling each track is on this album.

While I could continue a track by track list of this album, it should honestly be considered mandatory listening for anybody looking for a thorough understanding of black metal. Historically and musically, this album carries so much weight. It sounds like it was recorded in a filthy basement and it's far from a clean sounding recording, but this is exactly what drew me to black metal in the first place. This isn't safe. This isn't polished. This is dangerous and depressing. While metal to some may be a place to mosh and just have an all around good time, there's also a serious appeal to the tortured sounds of true misery and ugliness. Every single track on this album has memorable and filthy riffs. The vocals are pained and distant. The drums are inconsistent and raw. This is some of the meanest black metal you'll hear, and while you may not enjoy it at first, it will draw you back in. I know I couldn't stand it when I first heard it, but I kept finding small moments from this album lingering in my mind while I was going about my day. To finally own this piece of black metal history is one of my greatest joys. I hope you'll do yourself the favor of obtaining a copy however you're able. I got mine from Fallen Empire's Distro, but I'm sure there are other options out there as well.  If the two tunes I've already posted and my high praise haven't already sold you on this, please listen to my personal favorite song from the album, "Travels to Sadness, Hate, and Depression." If this masterpiece doesn't convince you that you need this album, perhaps you're just not ready for Mütiilation just yet. One day it will call you back and you'll understand its hideous appeal.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Free Music Friday: Powerviolence USA compilation

This one's been waiting to be posted for a good little while. Physical copies of this tape are no longer available, however you can purchase it for the price you see fit on the bandcamp page. First off, this thrasher has eighteen bands in less than half an hour. How can you ignore the opportunity to find a few new favorite bands in such a short period of time? I know I discovered a few new favorites of my own from this little gem.  With a name like USA Powerviolence, these are obviously short, aggressive songs, but there's more variety within this genre than an outsider may imagine. From slow and chunky with hoarse yells to blastbeats and high pitched shrieks, this collection does a good job of showcasing the diverse and intense community of underground American powerviolence, grind, and hardcore bands.

While every single band on this cassette is ferocious and ready to tear the listener's head off, there were a few that definitely stood out for me. The violent 39 seconds of noise from Necklacing are worth serious mention. It's some of the most chaotic and memorable grind I've heard in quite a while. Everything about this song sounds absolutely desperate in the best way possible. Also, the group immediately after, Gorilla Pussy, were shockingly good. I was expecting to be disappointed by a band with such a name, but this is a perfect example of grind and punk done right. They keep things fresh by changing the pace and atmosphere frequently rather than locking into one groove and sticking with it. I also have to give a nod to a pre-existing favorite (and the reason I bought this cassette initially), False Light for being as impressive as always. If you aren't already familiar with them, get on it now. Finally, I couldn't help but make mention of PxBxS. These guys are a name I'd never even heard before but their contribution to this compilation blew me away. It opens with a chilling sample that gives way to some of the most peculiar and wonderful hardcore I've heard in quite a while. Rather than simply going for the throat with speed, the two tracks from PxBxS had me on my toes and paying full attention. I'm keeping an eye out for future releases from these guys without a doubt.

As always, give it a listen and do your part to support the artists that you feel deserve it. I've got a couple new packages here at home so expect more reviews of excellent new music soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Quick Fix: Cigar City Brewing Company's "Good Gourd"

I'm starting a new feature here on this blog to share new finds of mine that I'm unable to fully document. Whether I hear a great new band while visiting a friend or drink a great new beer at a bar/brewpub/brewery, I want to be able to share it with you guys. This debut post is about an excellent seasonal beer from a local brewery that is gaining national attention. Cigar City have done the seasonal pumpkin beer serious justice with their Good Gourd. I had it on tap at my local hangout, the Independent Bar and Cafe, and found it surprisingly good. It tastes strongly of nutmeg and has a smooth flavor with hints of cider and chai tea. This delicious beer tastes more like gingerbread than a slice of pumpkin pie, and I'm quite okay with that. It's an incredibly limited run, but it's available each year. Find it at your local beer retailer while you can. If you're local to Florida you'll find quite a few options. If you aren't, I recommend hunting this one down. Possibly the best pumpkin beer I've tried this year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beer Review: Shmaltz's "Coney Island Freaktoberfest"

Today's review has been a lot of fun for me. Do you want to get ready for Halloween in the most appropriate extreme metal fashion? Do you want to drink the blood of the innocent, but are afraid that local law enforcement may ruin your fun? Then grab yourself a bottle or more of Coney Island Freaktoberfest. I've got a well documented love for Shmaltz and their commitment to challenging and enjoyable beers. This blood red lager is another success in the long list of excellent Shmaltz beers I'm already hooked on.

I must admit that the kitsch factor of drinking this beer intimidated and concerned me at first. Would I find the color and alcohol content of 6.66% to be the only appealing aspects, as some friends had warned me? Would this be another autumn beer that simply leaves me waiting for my beloved winter beers? The answer is definitely "no." Aside from the freakishly entertaining packaging and concept, this beer is a wholly enjoyable experience. I'm not the most well educated drinker of red ales or lagers, but I know that I'm not always so partial to them. I'm partial to this beer, and not just for its gimmick. The flavor is quite balanced and palatable and the beer is great for smooth sipping. The head is slightly bubbly and gives way to a delightful mellow fizz when I take a big sip. While the color would imply hints of strawberry or raspberry, this is not a fruit beer by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this beer isn't really any kind of beer other than just a damn great beer. With an equal balance of malt and hops, I find this to be an excellent beer to just sit and enjoy.

As the name and concept of this beer are specific to the month of October, don't be surprised if it leaves the shelves relatively soon. Grab yourself a pack and share it with friends if you're having a small gathering later this month. Put on your favorite extreme album, pour this blood red delight, and celebrate the glory of the freakiest month of the year with a killer beer in hand. I promise your friends will be looking forward to next year's Halloween party.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Music Review: Yellow Eyes- "Silence Threads the Evening's Cloth" Cassette

So I realize that I haven't kept this blog in line with its name so far. Most of the music reviewed has been extreme in one way or another, but hasn't quite been black metal. I'm not really into the whole argument of "true" versus "untrue" black metal and nitpicking trends and things that make an album black metal or not. This cassette is one of my favorite black metal releases of the past year. Yes, it's unconventional and certainly draws its inspiration from outside the standard realms of the genre, but in no way should this excellent album be dismissed. Before I even get into the musical content, I need to state that this copy of the cassette was sent to me directly by a member of the band. I was attempting to buy it online, but Yellow Eyes were in the process of transitioning to Broken Limbs Recordings and there were no copies to be found online. I contacted the band to inquire about the timeframe of the release. After a few weeks, they got in touch with me apologizing for the delays and sent me a copy from their personal collection due to my patience. This sort of consideration and kindness is uncommon in the extreme metal underground these days and my respect for these guys grew considerably with this gesture.

Yellow Eyes play a unique brand of black metal that is pummeling and catchy in all the best ways. Any time a song gets a bit ugly and uncomfortable, a dissonant melody comes in to change the pace and encourage the listener onward. One of my favorite things about this album is the fact that almost every other track is an interlude of sorts, creating an unsettling ambiance. These pieces are creatively titled, often focusing on controlled drones and nature sounds, and create more tension than some of the "metal" songs on the album. I'm a sucker for a great buildup, and these tracks work quite well to serve that purpose. The opening song is a three minute long piece in this vein, entitled "Guilt Lingers at Sunrise." It builds perfectly into the epic "My Candle is Gone But I Do Not Move," which opens with a guitar riff reminiscent of some of Nargaroth's stronger moments. The atmosphere is both depressive and chaotic throughout this album. The vocals are howling and unhinged, something of the bastard child of Jane Doe-era Converge and early Burzum releases. This is demented and wonderful music.

Between the spiraling guitars and the dense atmospheres, this album is pretty much the exact kind of music I love. It's fuzzy and hideous, yet it has enough melody and diversity to keep me interested after repeated listens. Tracks like "No More Than A Soaked Plank" and the violent title track stand out as some of the most memorable songs I've heard in quite a while. Also, the tape's packaging is just incredible. It has its own sleeve, made from what appears to be a Yellow Eyes patch that has been sewn to itself in such a shape. I want to use it as a patch, but I'm also terrified of damaging such an excellent piece of packaging should it not be intended for use as a patch. Perhaps this review will help clarify it. Regardless, this is a highly impressive slab of chaotic black metal with some outside influences that only add to the wonderful chaos this vicious trio creates. I look forward to their split with Monument, which I just ordered from the fine folks at Sol y Nieve.

If there are copies left out there, I'm not sure where they are, but I'm totally going to encourage you to check the album out on bandcamp for the price you see fit and help support future output by this excellent group.  And guys, if you're reading this, thanks so much for sending me this tape. It's been getting the love and respect it deserves.