The Spiritual Bat - Mosaic

On their latest release The Spiritual Bat come out strong with the title cut pumping along like something you might hear on The Edge's solo record, very retro dance 'el gothika. That cut also reminds me of something on the last record, which is cool, and even cooler something like that would be the first song. I find it is numbers like "Of Breath and Veils (Battlefield") that The Spiritual Bat hold their best. It's a nice laid back psychedelic jam. Sparse enough in places to be called atmospheric. Being The Spiritual Bat though, you're not going to get too far from the dance floor. "We Are Born We Live We Die" sounds like the best stuff from the golden age of college radio, which thankfully I was right there to hear and see it. Not afraid to tour and coming back to North America late summer as this is written, the entirety of Mosaic will be to cement the band's name and reputation on the scene.

There's probably a good half album of what we used to call darkwave, and before that was called alternative. Folks didn't really start calling anything "gothic" till the late 80's or early 90's. None of this album I'd call filler, and besides for a piece here and there pretty much the whole album is solid original. I think the band has grown and expanded their sound quite a bit since last go round, and as I said they are road workers, so don't be surprised if they get bigger, possibly much bigger. There's at least 3-4 difference flavors on the album, some on the verge of a doom dirge (Hypnotic) other things like "Blown Away" though even more obscure, highlights the trance like effect Rosetta Garri's singing style is known for. "Death March" suitably ends the album, sounding almost like some twisted Sabbath fading out through the high lands. I'd give Mosaic a strong 4 out of a possible 5. It's good work.


The Mighty Swine - Last Man Standing

Latest from The Mighty Swine is solid for many reasons. Not the least is that they made a heavier record than their last, which is always good, plus it achieves this without over-powering you with blocked out dynamics. You can listen to the album time and time again without ear fatigue, which too is always good. The new album from the swine carries the fine tradition of hard rock fused with what today is known as classic metal and polish it out with wicked groove and above par songwriting both lyrically and musically. I found this album staying on the daily playlist for some time once it achieved that status amongst the contenders. Overall it's excellent and some of the best new classic American Metal I've heard in '014.

Some of the stand-outs include the band rocking hard with Empty Shell; a big pounding beat, wicked riffs and a shout-along chorus. As throughout the album the guitars growl, the kick and toms stay fully engaged, bass propelling a steady drive with lead applied as necessary. Really good albums of this genre cannot live without smoking lead guitar, killer riffs and something you can holler to. The Mighty Swine brings them home for ya and puts them on the table.

Big breaks compliment the arrangements, starting off when the needle drops (pun intended) with All That Is Evil. There is plenty of gear changing as the machine churns and the power chords burn on the road warrior anthem Thick as Thieves. It is good to see bands standing for rock n roll revolution! Showing they can write traditional hard rock melodies, The Mighty Swine offer the fine Pool Of Emptiness, one of the 3 or 4 easy singles on the album. They crank it up a notch as they roar through title cut Last Man Standing, which transitions nicely into Tomorrow, one of a number of introspective themed songs on the album. Did I mention the songwriting was really good on the new release?

Then you've got an absolute cooker with Vengeance Is Mine. A huge galloping verse which serves as the main push for the chorus that segues into an atmospheric interlude before coming back to repeat a different verse chorus. Simple. Effective. They didn't even have to use any lead in that one. Throughout the entire album drummer Jeff Tong gives it hell, far above just time keeping. He is a major driving force within the band. Hell man the band even gives a shout out to the blues, in their own special way, with Rite Of Passage. Showing deeper roots from which the swine cometh. The band is not afraid to visit darker places, and that keeps it honest, and that much more heavy. Get it for the collection.


Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls

First new album without founding member KK Downing could have been many things. What we got is a straighter version of Priest, with nothing new from a band that's been around over four decades, this album sounding more like updated versions of early albums. The effect is a strong running order of trademark classic style heavy metal. Now if you put this album expecting to be "blown away" like many Judas Priest albums would do back in the day, you undoubtedly come away disappointed. A thick bass mix (Ian Hill is the last remaining original member in the band) may be a turn off to many expecting the popping clearness of today's digital mixes, but the added mud has always been a part of real heavy metal since it arose from the underground.

While any band at the 40 year mark can't be called upon to put out some new blinding blitzkrieg, Priest has done a fine job of combining their established three generations of metal into a listenable hour and a half of music. Nothing too shabby about it. Most of the songs are strong, and honestly, a few times you can hear Rob Halford give Ozzy a nod (Halford has said Ozzy and Sabbath were massive inspirations) like on "March Of The Damned". For the most part though, Halford sings at a lower register, in a more relaxed, smooth style than on most releases of Priest past. That would be expected for someone his age to be able to sing some of this stuff live; he already has an olympic effort he must achieve with every show doing those Judas Priest classics that are the standards of power metal singing.

Back to the songs though. This album has plenty of rockers. "Down In Flames" could easily had been on Ram It Down. Album openers "Dragonaut" and the title cut are steam rollers with the classic epic JP battle rattle. The title cut mix is a bit murky, yet this band had plenty of time and wherewithal to fix any thing, so you need to remember how to use the eq a bit if you got gripes. Now, the chord progressions on this entire album are cloned for the most part from glory day masterpieces like the Painkiller or Point Of Entry albums, with pieces from everything else before and after showing up here. "Halls Of Valhalla", one of the album's strongest war hymns, is like a blueprint for classic BNWOHM. "Cold Blooded" is Bloodstone (the blood thing I am sure is no pun) for the 21st century. "Metalizer" is chain saw metal personified, complete with blast beat and minor chord bridges. Fans are also treated to five songs of bonus tracks on certain editions. Giving a taste of british hard rock tradition with "Snakebite" to more non-standard Priest fare, such as the reflective "Never Forget", which calls for remembering the glories of the Priest metal clans everywhere.

Though about a third of the album is subdued somewhat and more than once the band seems to have let things stay in order to get the album out the door, shelf life of new releases is a rare commodity these days. I would expect such with today's market friendlier to touring bands and Judas Priest has what, south of ten years maybe at the most left to be able to headline realistically? Better to do it honestly, with something quick and dirty, than to waste a great band's final years slaving away in the studio.

Purchase Judas Priest music here -

Elbow Strike - Planning Great Adventures

Plenty of big frequency boom on this one, from the head snapping snare which kicks off the album to the flood of bottom which carries the whole album. There's massive riff-o-matics and choruses that stick in your head all over the place. Hails the old time psychedelic blues boogie first fed us by Page and Winter. A program fitting like a round peg into album structures that range from modern poetry as art to the grunge memories of yesteryear. Everywhere lurking behind though is the riff monster, waiting to come get your ass. When it hits, you will move, and your mind will go ahhhhhh! Things go tribal with "Momma Is Cooking Chips" raising a jungle beat to weave into a hillbilly foot stomp. It finally comes home with a funky harmonic part that sounds like something Aerosmith tried on draw the line. Planning Great Adventures is like that everywhere. Like vodka in a blender with all kinds of fruit thrown in!

"Monster" is like that good stuff redux as it fades into rumbling feedback before "Stoneman" grooves back into the flow. Repping the first blend of hip hip flavor that really is recognizable against the sonic din. It's like that banana pepper leaf after a bowl of good kush. I do suggest keeping the volume pulled a bit with headphones on the long journey to protect your ears from the leveling. Car stereo though, you can blast through the neighborhood wit dis shit like a staunch dog. The buzz kicks in full as "U.F.O." brings that long shadow of the mighty cowbell back out to trot around the roller rink a time or two. "Up compiting" could have been on any Bush album (I'm not sure it wasn't) or 90% of the bands from the 90's for that matter. A strong retro vibe permeates most of what goes on here, and I think how it's done is an overall quality of Elbow Strike as tastemasters.

Cool is a factor here. Sometimes you think, there's a piece not quite fitting, before you realize you're down this alley for a reason. Probably to get set up and piled with some rock n roll. Time, space and energy all factor on numbers like "We're Not Alone"; it's kinda dark, it's got a part that drives, a part that flows, and an ode to loved ones thrown in for good measure. Giving an overall feeling of remembrance, or perhaps some Italian Art. Album closer "Winter Night" wings out on something that sounds like The Police paying respects to Alice In Chains covering classic BTO. Like I said this stuff is cool!

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Dishornorable Discharge
How we got to today
Why the War Machine will eat itself.

Everyone my age remembers Vietnam. If not vividly, then as a shadow of their youngest youth. I can barely remember the Moon landing, yet Vietnam did not end for another 6 years after that. I remember the crowds of protesters on TV in my years prior to elementary school, it made my old man who was true blue defense industry, rage. "Send all those doped up smart mouthed talking sons of a bitches to another country. Hell send them to Africa! Let them raise hell with them niggers down there!" When the hippies were every where in the early 70's he'd constantly raise hell. "Look at that filth parading around, do you think when shit like that starts running this country that it will survive? You can't have trash like that on the streets! Damned sorry-assed women with their titties all hanging out will take up with anybody!"

I remember those tirades well. He said lots of other things. I always thought the things he said were strange. Even as I grew up to understand why he was like that I thought it was strange. Not so much that someone of his generation and raising would think like that, yet rather that is was overbearing on his complete outlook and daily affected his mood so greatly. Attitudes like that serve negativity, it makes the world a darker place.

I always thought the peace sign was cool. I suppose as a child when it first became mainstream, it reminded me of a seal. As much as all that was "happening" in the 60's and 70's, that war, Vietnam was a defining factor. Later in life I would feel sorry for those forced to fight that war, and I am not talking pity. They were called upon by being told, you will serve. Without going into the political realms of a continuing "fight" against communism, the simple fact is we still had the draft, and it was the law you went and did your service.

As the cold war defined the next decade plus (and had got us there to start, since the end of the last world war) and then the middle eastern and persian conflict periods which are where we are at now, required soldiers to serve, if you're watching, and are not military reliant, you start to notice some things.

War can always be argued, that's what it is, a massive, deadly argument. Yet when you take part in most modern wars, you are serving the needs of a political machine, you're defending whatever it is they/it stands for. You may feel you stand for it too, and feel you protect others by making war, for whatever reasons. It's all political, but most soldiers must be agreeable to the cause, the needs of nations are usually at the core, but more often, it is ideas.

Let me make this clearer. This is hard for people to hear, but it's not my opinion, it's a rather cold hard truth. The Russians, The Chinese, they might do incredibly nasty things, hack me, try and cheat me, if I am stupid enough to have my infrastructure networked, the will try and fuck with that, but they're not going to physically attack me. How do I know this? They never have.

I bet they never will.

My war machine though, spends billions yearly to secretly engage them in types of war, nation against nation posturing. Please don't do this in my name. I'm not interested in helping you do this. In fact, don't de-facto claim to represent me internationally. I am not an overbearing, violent person. If you want to make a stand, a show, that is you, that is not me. The 20th century is over. I can represent myself to the world.

Pissed off yet? No? You will be.

I hear, all the time, as all of you do; That me being able to do that, represent myself to the world, was achieved by others sacrificing for me, fightin' for that right among many, which have been bestowed on me. The world is a dangerous place and I needed this protection for myself, and others, not only in this nation but in many other nations, and this continues, this need, today.

In the past if those sacrifices had not been made, you say, I could not do as I choose today, without your protecting my "right" to do so.

Well, no. I do not need your protection. Many of those you claim probably do. I do not. See, I'd be dead if I lived in China, Russia, some Asian nightmare, or many places, because I wouldn't need their national war machines either, I'd do as I do here, say that in public. They would send people for me. They would attack me, they would make war with me. I am told I can say this in America, and by this just being my opinion, I am safe, or at least "allowed" to do it to begin with and not expect the grim reaper of jack-boot justice - to come upon me quick.

So some time after this has been published, what have you learned? Was I really free to say such. After all I never went and attacked anyone, just said the truth, or at a minimum of what's on my mind. Was I protected? If I was, who was I protected from. If I was not, who enforced whatever went down? Who physically attacked who. Think about it. Quick.

Quick, that is a relative descriptive term. Ever heard this, "by God the __________________ (communists, terrorists, over all bad guys - insert your fear here) would march in here and take this place over so quick it'd make your head swim". My dad used to say that all the time. He was implying if we did not have our war machine so overwhelming powerful to prevent that, that it'd be sure to happen. No, it would not have, no it didn't. Was it deterred because we were so powerful they knew better? No.

I'll tell you why.

Pearl Harbor, we all know about Pearl Harbor. Surely the Japanese knew better, right? Obviously not, yet there was madness and the angel of war was waging throughout the world. We were already helping their enemies, so maybe they thought......does not really matter what they thought, they were stupid enough to think getting in a war with us would serve a purpose. True, we were not as we are now, the USA. Even then though, we were too strong for any other nation to whip, even an evil axis of 'em.

They were stupid. Their government demanded it though, so their soldiers who served obeyed their masters.

9/11? Conspiracy horseshit aside, those were fanstastically evil people who did those things. 10 years later, supposidly yet with less evidence that it'd take to convict a drunk driver in court we got the "mastermind". Not really, we killed a leader, yet those ideas that led us to 9/11 are still there. War learns overtime, to perpetuate itself, keep the representation to an idea, be it religion, politics, social norms, better yet combine them all, and take over.

What was the war in Iraq about? Was it the same as Afghanistan? No. It was weird. We used to give and sell tons of weaposn to Saddam, we did to Bin Laden also. We fed their war machines, then, they fed ours. The Angel Of War works like that. It does not care why or for what, it just needs and works to keep itself as a master over energies.

So that's where we are today. War says I need it, the War Machines say I must feed it. It is for my benefit. No. I do not want those benefits.

See, I cannot grow a garden, maybe build or buy a small structure to live in and keep to myself. No, I must pay someone for those priviledges. Most of it, I have figured out as I approach the big five-O, is done under guise. I need those things, so I must help provide. So really, I am not free. Though I did not make a choice to be part of those things I am required to support, I need them, so be it by force, I will support, or it, the "provider" of those things, this "freedom", will make war with me. That's not freedom, that is something else, take your pick, there's many things it can be, but it is not freedom.

Freedom is not free you say? Remember, we're not talking about what you have been decided to be provided for me, as freedom. It might be freedom to you, but it might not be to me, so don't represent freedom in my name and say you're insuring I stay free by doing whatever. I can live free or die without your help. It might be hard for you to accept this, but it is the truth. Politics that determine your behavior and mindset aside.

Let's forget politics for a while...

Nevermind, it is prevasive. People try, no one is successful. No matter what your "idea" is, whatever you do, can do, is determined by politics. You ignore it you say, just live your life. You'll still feed it, it will still ask and tell, require you to report, pay and obey. No, you don't do that you say? Then if you truly walk that walk and talk that talk, if not already, it will come for you, in something representing something, yet it will be part of a political machine, which in turn will feed a greater war machine.

Crazy you say. Really? Many of you have decided you like your system so you're fine with it. Cool, fine with me.

Yet perhaps I have not made those decisions. Your problem, and it is yours, is that I have not decided to be you, or have you decide for me, not what has decided for you decide for me. I have not fooled myself, and I serve no machine. And like I said a few paragraphs prior, I'd rather your political machines, from the least which uses violence to force it's will, to the greatest, which uses violence to try and rule the world (The Angel Of War laughs, it rules you stupid motherfuckers along side the Angel Of Death), speak for me. I can speak for myself. Have you noticed I have been doing that?

Free People speak for themselves, we are not represented by factions, if we've decided that others can represent us, does that mean we give up the right to rescind that if things get fucked up and we figure out they really speak for others and things we'd rather not have anything to do with? Hmmmmm.....good question. Let's see.

Don't do things in my name. I don't do them in yours. I have not determined you will be a part of my collective. Your society you say? Sorry. Societies by intelligent animals are complex semi-permanent systems, they're not perpetual systems, because we remove the animals, their society no longer exists. We programmed it that way. You don't like like that you say, don't agree with it. Too bad, reality can be a fuckin' bitch.

Look at me, you say, look at my determinations, crazy as a loon you might say. Shot the fuck out just like the perpetual war machine.....

Yes, I say, a war machine. I am not about war, craziness and violence. Again, you don't represent me. You did not create this perpetual system. You'll control neither it nor me, what can be done with this little animal body aside. Remember, your big bad ass too is but a small little animal, on a very small planet, in a massive universe you did not program, create, or control. Be cool, watch your ass. Some things you do cannot be undone later, and once you start some things, you cannot end them.

Someone else. But you (me) did not you say, and the god didn't either sez you, because that's religious bullshit to the great science and intelligent minds which rule your "society". Along with the mighty specter of war within......

But I will obey your war machine, you say, as you serve it well. For I will, in league with others who are with me, and it, those who are free....

Wait? What did you say?

You're going to do what, you've decided that, you're gonna to quit reading right here, because all this is fucking crazy.....someone needs to shut it up. The madcap laughs, the lunatic is on the grass! Damn it boy!

Really? Well just stay away from me while I am alive and I can guarantee you'll not have real problems from me. See, you're god-damned bat-shit crazy, full of pent up violence, full of your this, your that, when you don't own any of it, are told to think, act only as it allows you to act, and are so brainwashed you think nothing that you cannot walk away from it, that it will still not own you anyway, that you are not a slave.

I'm not. So don't claim to speak for me. Forget I exist. You don't have to know me, read what I write, I'll probably never visit, for all you know, if you want, I never was here. It'll make a difference in your life, yet I will give you that, you are free, to a degree, to make that decision.

To a greater degree though, that, those, and most other, decisions to be made for you; By consensus? Pehaps. Though the determination of others, undoubtfully.

What you want to serve makes no difference, those things are ideas, what you will serve, is hard cold reality, ruled by violence and death. Done in your name. Will you serve those ideas with your life, to do it in the names of others? Remember what I said about the Angel Of War and how it handles "ideas".

But, but but, you're not violent and about death you say......ok, I ask you now, and might even on judgement day, then who and what did you serve.

The greater good you say? Cool. Just don't do that good in my name. I am asking you kindly. If you do violence and death, serve the war machine, in my name and tell me too bad, I must accept that. We'll probably have problems. I don't serve the Angel Of Death. Don't even ask me to.

Humans are not the most arrogant species I've ever encountered, but they are some of the most corrupt. And by corrupt I mean overbearing and seeking to over rule, control, and profit off one another. Some say that's "just" greed. NO, Humans have constructed elaborate systems into survival, stability, and prosperity systems which are far beyond controlling, they are determining. Systems I have studied for a long, long time. I am not talking statistic factualization of data sets compared to social systems involving animals. I am speaking of the programming into perpetual systems which allow factorable variables. The Doctrine Of Creation.

See, humanity upon this earth, for all it's greatness, its science, is primitive. Advanced societies somewhere may be all about wars, yet they are primitive, like animals fighting over turf, who gets to control things in that area. When there are no others to fight, they will fight amongst themselves. That is primitive, where death ultimately rules. Might makes right.

No matter how "smart" you are, as long as the war machine and death are your ultimate masters, you're barbaric primitives. If humanity was not primitive, your economy would be so multi-faceted and based on advanced things you'd be on the moon, mars, and already would have learned to use biological machines and electromagnetic entities to be getting out into your galaxy. How long you think?

Give us 50 you say, 100, we'll be there! No, you won't.

Because the systems you have now not only cannot afford it, those systems cannot even manage the logistics of trying. Are you capable of it, and more, within those time frames. Absolutely.

Coming together, as one, or whatever, under "leadership" derived from politics will not get you there. War will not get you there, knowledge will not get you there. Freedom will.

How do you serve that? First, quit deciding for others, even if they are stupid and don't "understand" how the world works. Give each the right to decide, and the opportunity, or lack thereof, being able to decide for themselves brings. You cannot do it for them, and whatever you do, don't do it for me, you do not have my permission. Again, I can represent myself.

This is called a True Democracy.

Second, don't be so greedy. You're not greedy you say. I see nation after nation saying it has all these natural resources. Over time those nations, all of them, have been established through greed. That is why you have boundaries and billions of people under rule while only an elite few control. Greed. You might say God does not exist, fine, but keep biting the hand that feeds you, the imaginery one might remove its gifts. You can war against it to take those gifts, as you do now. That will not give you colonies out in your own solar system, much less your galaxy. Greed, war and death are ends to themselves. Whatever ideas you may have will not change that fact. Try another Way.

Of course these "things" are complex and multi-faceted within themselves. I could write books here on out about "it". So third, have a realistic identity about yourself, who and what you are, and what represents in your name. Deal with reality, not forced decree. You'll see reality works better. Harder to understand, most certainly, yet truth works better than lies, especially in the long run.

None of that is so hard you say. Well you're no where near "that", so there is a serious disconnect in there, maybe more than one, that is screwing things up. Don't help that along. Serve the needs of freedom, not the masters of war.

Now, on to the next thing......










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