November 2003 Archives
Sunday marked the birthday of a television legend. Dr Who turned a mature 40.
This 40th anniversary is the prime reason we have been greeted with screenings at the civilised hour of 6PM weeknights over the past few months. As an example of suprisingly good foresight, the ABC will screen one of the best Hartnell stories beginning tonight - The Romans. This is a great pseudo-historical comedy, with plenty of great lines and excellent comedic timing.
A must watch even for casual or non-who fans.
I agree with much of this article regarding the appropriate approach to the art of making bread. However on the flipside I am continually amazed by the innovations that food technologists come up with. The technical side amazes me, yet I am equally disgusted by the ethics of pandering to the 6-day old fresh from the supermarket crowd.
I go by the adage that bread teaches patience, as there is no way to rush making good bread.
Getting in early with this years best of list.
Selection criteria was based entirely on a release date within 2003 and how much I've played each album, the honours for best album of the year go to... (drum roll)
Enslaved's Below the Lights, this was pretty much a given, I raved about it repeatedly and have not stopped playing it all year. (played > 130 times)
Runner up is Katatonia's Viva Emptiness, which for a long time was looking to take out the prize. It's a great album that is extremely accessible with excellent song-writing but I still miss the guitar arrangements of earlier Katatonia.
Albums that deserve an honourable mention are:
Alchemist - Austral Alien (as always innovative and still growing on me)
Solefald - In Harmonia Universali (a progressive masterpiece and the best Solefald release thus far)
Opeth - Damnation (a disappointment but still got a lot of plays)
The Gathering - Souvenirs (a focused and excellent release)
Far from the Norse birth ground of the genre, the mostly moribund and commercialised black metal scene is being ripped apart by artists who are re-defining the definition of black.
French band, Blut Aus Nord (Blood From North) are one such group, and with their latest release The Work Which Transforms God they have managed to produce an album which is quite simply evil.
Most modern black metal has eschewed the garage production that characterised the early genre classics. In keeping with this trend, The Work Which Transforms God possesses a stark but far from digitally perfect sound, guitars are in the fore, vocals and bass get less focus and are barely discernible but where present, keys are punched higher in the mix. The drums are clearly programmed but clever arrangements and layering manage to avoid veering into industrial territory.
Musically Blut Aus Nord have a heavy focus on atmosphere with more than half the tracks devoid of vocals and hyper-speed guitars. These tracks are true mood pieces featuring extensive use of semitone harmonics and discordant modes. By virtue of contrast, the impact of the handful of tracks that fit the more traditional black metal mould is significantly enhanced.
Stylistically one notices much influence drawn from far outside the traditional metal founts. In particular, there are significant post punk and experimental/noise guitar elements featured in the slower paced tracks. This contrasts against the deliberate omission of jazz, neo classical, electronic and prog elements that many other blackened artists have dabbled with.
These elements all combine to give the work a harsher and pre-meditated tone of transformed chaos featuring demonic vocals and ruptured harmonics.
This definitely gets my vote for black metal album of the year. It's a pity it will reach such a limited audience due to total absence of distribution in many regions, including Australia.