Friday, May 3, 2013


Mister Growls welcomes our second guest reviewer today, Mr. Rick Sahlin, to share his thoughts on the Horseback/Locrian collaboration New Dominions. Unlike the previous guest assignment (Jude Gullie’s review of Evoken’s A Caress of the Void) I had not listened to this release prior. I entrusted this task to Rick knowing that he is a passionate fan and scholar of the full spectrum of music. Take delight in his following musings as he asks difficult questions and gives me cautious credit for not being an elitist metalhead:

“Sean says the leader is into Neil Young. Neil Young is my favorite. I’ve said this out loud many times and Sean must have heard me say that. Lots of people love Neil Young and that’s fine. I don’t need to feel like I have idiosyncratic taste in music.

I just recently heard “Slip Away” for the first time. It was the version from the Year of the Horse album and I fell in love all over again. There’s always another great Neil song to discover.

So there was a chance that maybe I would like this. I initially thought maybe the point of the exercise was to shock the non-metal fan or make him uncomfortable so metal fans can jeer and congratulate themselves for being tough enough or open-minded enough to like the thing that scares or alienates the non-metal fan. But I should have known Sean would not be up to something like that. Sean is inviting me to metal’s house and I am in metal’s house now as his guest. I’m thankful to have been invited and I will a be a respectful guest and I will sample the banquet that metal has prepared.

Why invite a non-metal fan to review metal? Probably you know more about metal than I ever plan to learn. About how metal works and what metal means and how effective this particular metal is. I can only tell you how someone with a limited knowledge of metal and, today at least, more curiosity than suspicion about metal, will receive this.

I was playing “Sway” by the Rolling Stones around my brother. It sounded like the best goddamn song as I was listening to it and it just made me feel great about music and the Rolling Stones and life and I was dancing around with a big grin on my face. When it was over I asked him what he thought about the Rolling Stones and he said, “They don’t need me to like them.” Sharing your music with others is not always rewarding.

But maybe you want to share metal with your friends. Maybe sharing metal with your friends and family will enrich your relationship with the people in your lives and also with metal. I personally wish I knew more people who were into hip-hop because I just need to share my thoughts about hip-hop sometimes and also hear some fresh thoughts from others. I hope everything works out for both of us.

I can't get into the newest Ghostface album but I enjoyed hearing his recent Wu-Block collaboration on a recent walk through the park. The beats are functional. You'll nod your head. There's a song where Ghost and Sheek Louch compare their guns to children they diligently care for. In the intro of another Ghost breaks down his preferences for cold remedies. He browses the Encylopedia Britannica while drinking lemonade and watching Larry King Live on mute. It's just fun.

My metal background: I took a friend’s extra ticket to Ozzfest 2002. Ozzy was fine - the time-tested songs are familiar to a novice and he is a cute and doddering old man. I took my shirt off even though I’m fat and I was one of several shirtless fat guys yelling and throwing up the horns. System of a Down were also fine - you could shout “Disorder!” during that song and alternate between pogo dancing and swaying side to side. I also enjoyed Rob Zombie. I later lived with that same friend for a while and he made fun of my Sonic Youth records.

I've distilled my personal metal canon to 1-2 songs each from the acts I mentioned above and also “Ace of Spades.” I like some of Alice in Chains’s stuff, if that counts as metal. Also I've heard some Sleep and sun0))))))))))) but I’m guessing Mister Growl readers consider that hipster dilettante metal. People are beyond hating “hipsters” I hope, I mean that gets pretty tiresome.

So this album drones. The idea of droning appeals to me.

I’m not feeling this album though and I don’t really have it in me to say much more than that. They lose me at 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the first song when drums make their first appearance and they are not nearly thunderous enough to satisfy my admittedly cliché-informed expectations. I didn’t listen to it all the way through, to be honest. I checked out last track which is a “(remix)” of the first track because I thought it might have some additional aggro-techno drum machine beats you know like a remix but it didn’t.

This very well could be a good or great metal album. As a non-metal fan I am in no position to say and obviously this isn't a real review. But if the newbie or hipster dilettante in your life asks for a recommendation I would suggest more aggressive and demon-y. That is probably what he had in mind when he asked you.

If you want to recommend something to a Neil Young fan I would suggest Several Shades of Why by J. Mascis from 2011. The song “Can I” is just beautiful. Kurt Vile plays on that album and I would also recommend the new Kurt Vile album which is the consensus pick of internet indie culture this month. The consensus chose well this time.”

Not to self: Listen to each album first. Bad job by me. I’ve enjoyed releases from Horseback before and thought I was going to woo someone over to the metal playground with droning Swans-by-way-Burzum-if-they-were-both-from-Arkansas extreme noise. Many thanks to Rick for sharing his thoughts, hopefully we can convince him to review a future release that is appropriately demonic.

Listen to New Dominions here:

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