There are 52 weeks in a year. Give or take a few holidays and medical procedures that equals more than 100 blog posts annually when you have slots on Monday and Wednesday. There's literally no way anyone trying to make a living could create that much original content (although Decibel alumni and Invisible Oranges founder Cosmo Lee tried). So, you look out to the wider world of the extreme to find contributers.
We're very lucky at Decibel to have assembled a range of great voices who contribute to the blog on a regular basis. Neill Jameson was so good at pontificating that two of his posts went viral and he upgraded to the masthead. André Foisy's yoga columns, which started here, are now regularly picked up elsewhere -- and he is subject to the lovely metal peanut gallery.
Plenty of others have shown up. Immortal Bird's Rae Amitay penned a column on drumming; Handshake Records founder David Hall wrote about his struggles to get Couch Slut's album art printed. Exmortus offered us the first look of their shredding version of the Star Spangled Banner; the video quickly went viral. Fatality ice skated in red Speedos for Decibel's amusement (in a post that should have gone viral). Many guests provided their favorite riffs to the shredder's studio.
Below, we've assembled excerpts and videos from our favorite guest posts. Thanks to all who contributed and read in 2014.
Fatality kicked off 2014 by ice skating in blizzards and ordering Fast Food -- in red Speedos.
Neill Jameson gave us more reasons to hate Record Store Day:
Rules are made to be broken, right? This whole shebang is getting corrupted by people who line up the night before to grab the most wanted items, only to put them on eBay two hours later for the price of a down payment on a pony. We know who they are, too: always the asshole you’ve never seen before except for the week or two before the event who asks detailed questions about what you’re getting and can you break the rules and hold it for them? It’s the “my friend won’t be able to make it, can I have two copies?” sort of thing.
Marissa Martinez-Hoadley joined us in the shredder’s studio:
As an old school grindcore fan, it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m a Napalm Death fan. But, what probably isn’t a foregone conclusion is that Harmony Corruption is my favorite Napalm album. I really love the elements of death metal that they brought into their sound on this album. A lot of the riffs are really good. But the standouts for me come at 1:55 in “The Chains That Bind Us.” The entire bridge is amazing! I love the hammer-ons and pull-offs in the initial riff. It think it was a really creative technique to use in grind, at that time. Then the marching power chords come in as a great counterpoint after the lyrics. I’m humming it as I type this.
André Foisy of Locrian continued his Metal Yoga series and taught us about ujjayi breath:
You’re on the road and you’re late for your next show because you woke up late after partying too hard. You’ve been on the road for days and you’ve been eating nothing but potato chips, ranch flavored sunflower seeds, gas station coffee and Taco Bell. You’re feeling crappy and everyone in the van is cranky.
André has been there.
Here’s one tool that I utilize to feel my best on tour: ujjayi breath. It’s the foundation of many yoga poses. So it’s important that we discuss this breathing technique before moving on to any other poses.
Many people find this type of breathing to be calming as well as energizing. I find that it’s good for quieting your brain, relieving anxiety, and helping create a hospitable environment in your brain when you tour.
Rae Amitay of Immortal Bird wrote My Kit: Meditations on Drumming (and later appeared in Metal Muthas):
I headed into my first lesson with Pat Lash at Twinbrooke Music, unsure of what was to come. After covering the bases (“This is a snare drum. This is a hi-hat.”) we were ready to play. Pat knew I felt confined by the numbing repetition and theory-based curriculum of my piano lessons, so after going over a healthy number of rudiments and rhythms, he asked me if I wanted to play a song. As “Gimme Shelter” began to play, my stomach turned. What was I going to play once the drums kicked in? “Just follow me,” Pat said, as he began playing a simple 4/4 groove. I followed suit, hesitantly at first, but then something happened. I locked in with the beat, and I fell in love.
Caroline Harrison discussed how she created the cover art for Pyrrhon’s Mother Of Virtues:
When starting a piece, I usually draw out a few rough thumbnails, or small sketches. They’re like visual notes that record your idea, and mine often look incredibly crude. I also spend a lot of time in my sketchbook drawing studies of images I intend to use (see above). Google images is invaluable in finding reference images of textures or forms — I can’t count the number of cockroach pictures I looked at, or the number of image searches I did for different types of tumors. One search led to another: tumors caused by echinococcus multilocularis (a type of tapeworm) in rats were a beautiful and translucent pale yellow, punctuated by red arteries. The cancerous growth on a smoker’s neck was at once horrifying and arresting, both vividly pink and red. I filled pages with different ways of rendering colors and shapes.
Mike Hill of Tombs reminded us why we liked Fight Club before media oversaturation:
Fighting is one of the most extreme, visceral things that you can engage in. The Buddhists speak about “being in the moment.” Fighting places you in the moment, every time, connected to the physical world. Connecting to the physical world, breaking away from the world of abstraction, is what the nameless protagonist needs. That first fight, on the first night is where the nameless protagonist faces his own limitations and transcends them. He forces change by blowing up his condo and all of his material possessions, including his DKNY shoes, CK shirts, AX ties and engages in a mission of bottoming out. ---
Neill Jameson wrote about working at Castle Dracula on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey.
One thing “The Jersey Shore” got right was the instinctual urge of the intoxicated frat boy to strike whoever is near them, usually the closest female. You’d also get the guy who was an impossible mountain of a man: thousands of years ago people would have written poems about how he carried six horses upstream during a flood to save a village. Yet this his man will scare easily in a castle made out of stucco on the boardwalk. He will also throw a haymaker that will have you planning your coworker’s funeral before they hit the ground.
Exmortus played an incredible version of the Star Spangled Banner. This post quickly (and deservedly) went viral.
Neill Jameson signed off from his record store job (he also got upgraded from the blog to the masthead and has a monthly column renamed Low Culture).
Much to the delight of casual record shoppers in the southern New Jersey region, I recently finished my tour of duty after four years. Working in a record store can be a great thing. You’re surrounded by music all day and that’s all you focus on. But like anything it can burn you out. You see issues with certain people’s ethics when it comes to things like bootlegs (i.e. “unofficial imports”) or if you see stores selling rewrapped promo CDs as new. You deal with customers who may be having the worst day of their lives and didn’t mean to get shitty with you but it doesn’t matter.
David Hall of Handshake Records wrote about his difficulties in getting the Couch Slut album art printed. Now, I’m not going to pretend to speak for the band or their logic for wanting to use this image, and the other images from the same artist that make up the design and artwork for the album. Personally, I think the drawing and design works. It’s a drawing of a woman giving a blowjob. You can make up your own “narrative” regarding the image, but on the surface, it’s a drawing of a sexual act, plain and simple. Is this something that should be on the cover of an album? Is it offensive? Is it inappropriate? Is it shocking for the sake of being shocking? I mean, yeah, I don’t think the album is appropriate or children to look at, but other than that, it is what it is.