Part of my role as a music journalist is to be a critic. While these days I focus more on features, interviews and essays, I still review quite a lot of music. And I’ve done so since the very beginning. But my approach to the task has gone through a number of stages.
In my earliest days as a professional(!) writer, I pretty much took on any assignment that came my way. I wrote for a print magazine, and the editor would randomly send out CDs to the review staff, instructing us to turn in a piece a few days after receiving the disc (this was in the days before streaming was widespread). The result of that random method was that I sometimes – no, oftentimes – got CDs that, let’s say, fell well outside of my scope of interest.
I reviewed ’em anyway. Some were clearly good for what they were, even if they didn’t pique my interest. Others were so clearly wretched that no amount of well-I-don’t-know-that-much-about-this-kinda-music backpedaling could save them.
And so I reviewed ’em anyway. To some degree, time has vindicated my emphatic thumbs-down on these releases. By that I mean that the albums – and in most cases the artists themselves – have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Put another way, they aren’t still making music, least not under the same names.
- Vaeda released their debut, State of Nature in 2006. The songs on the album got played on NCIS, a show aimed at an older demographic. Odd for a group that played Vans Warped Tours. My guess is that their shitty tunes were the soundtrack to some scenes featuring that sorta-goth looking female character. The band went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2009 and hasn’t been heard from since. It’s no loss. Here’s my review of Vaeda’s State of Nature.
- “Extreme metal” – and extremely bad – British act Cradle of Filth is still around, I’m afraid. Though the kind of music they make was well past its sell-by date when they recorded and released Thornography way back in 2006. Even Metal Hammer – a publication staffed by people who presumably enjoy this garbage – described a track off the album as “ridiculous” and “best avoided.” Those two descriptors could have served as my review, but no: I had to have some fun with it. I was so annoyed by having to endure the album that I needed a means to vent. I did so right here, with my review of Cradle of Filth’s Thornography.
- I dug Trio’s “Da Da Da.” It was an inconsequential yet fun slice of German synthpop from the 1980s. But a group called Mah Jongg seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from it and made a terrible record of their own called Kontpab. They threw in the towel in 2011 after releasing a, er, trio of albums. Here’s my review of Mah Jongg’s Kontpab. Bizarrely, today it’s something of a collectors’ item. (Germany has a ton of great music, but that’s a subject for another post.)
- From my perspective, there’s no musical genre more worth of ridicule than Christian metal. Imagine a bunch of dudes – and it’s pretty well always dudes – who (a) are really angry and (b) would have us believe that they’re followers of Jesus. Now, sometimes that particular combination leads one to blow up women’s health clinics. Other times it might just lead one to vote for a vile, spray-tanned fascist as president. And other times it would move them to put together a band and make unimaginative tripe like War of Ages‘ third album, Fire from the Tomb. I don’t remember any Easter fire in the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, but hey, artistic license, right? Sure. But this ain’t art. I say so in my review of War of Ages’ Fire From the Tomb. A mere three albums in, these clowns were already recycling 90% of their material on this 2007 release; one would think they’d have given up by now. They have not. Almost makes me wish that rapture would happen soon.
As a palate cleanser, go listen to some good music. You’ll find reviews of plenty right here at Musoscribe. As always, thanks for reading.