I’m waiting for the Pitriff guys to come up with their annual Top 10 Metal/Hard Rock Albums of the Year list for 2009. I’ve a feeling Alice in Chains’ Black Gives Way to Blue will occupy a decent place in it. (They kind of hinted it in past articles.) So far all they have is a readers’ poll — What New Album Lived Up To The Hype This Year? — which, as of Sunday night, has AinC on third spot after Megadeth’s Endgame and Kiss’ Sonic Boom.

But why wait for the bastards to get their acts together to see if their list matches mine? I’ll bare my own album list now, and then some – best book and movie of 2009. A weird yearly habit of mine, but not entirely pointless. I’ll expound some other time.

Anyway, even in my own list, AinC had to slug it out with the other great albums I had the pleasure of listening to this year. But after careful assessment, which means drinking beer while listening to the album at piss-your-neighbor volume, I’ve to give it to these Seattle hard rock nuts. Black Gives Way to Blue, though bleak at best, provided the necessary diversion in this year of insane personal issues and grisly national events.

For my best read I’ve just elevated William Kennedy’s Ironweed to the level of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (2008), TC Boyle’s The Inner Circle (2007), Kerouac’s Desolation Angels (2006), Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and James Lee Burke’s The Lost Get-Back Boogie (2005), and Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary (2004). Seth Morgan’s Homeboy was a close contender.

For best movie, which I started considering only last year, the 2005 French flick Angel-A took home the cake and the cake-maker’s wife. More about it here.

I also have my fantasy fuck-mate of the year, but that’s too controversial and she may not like the recognition.

Meanwhile, my article on the Top 10 Sex Scandals of 2009 has been posted here. It is a watered down — not to mention verbose — version of what I had originally written, wine-drunk, on the wee hours of Christmas 2009. For what it’s worth, here is the original shit.


he said breast

As I type this, I’m downloading Atrocity’s Hallucinations. The little rectangular box at the bottom of the screen says only 2% of the album have so far been downloaded. It’s still a long trek, so I might as well write something here.

Let me start by saying that I’m such music geek these days. The urge to download one album after the other is as strong as the urge to urinate on Andal Ampatuan Jr’s face. Perhaps it comes with the season. December, after all, is not a month for the clinically depressed. Next to cardiologists, corrupt journalists and Henry Sy, shrinks — the strangers you pay to tell you you’re either depressed or cuckoo — earn the biggest during the holidays.

English playwright William Congreve once said, music has the charms to soothe a savage breast. Obviously he was not talking about Slayer, who wants you to go out there and shoot someone. Or Black Label Society, who wants you to drink, fuck, and start a barroom brawl like a true “berzerker.”

35%. So far, so good.

Indeed: Slayer, BLS . . . these are just some of the “music” that have been “soothing” my “savage breast” these days. Chip in some classic Motorhead, Atheist, Ozzy, and some relatively new ones from Avenged Sevenfold, the Black Stone Cherry, and W.A.S.P., and Santa will be pissing on his pants in fear when he passes by our house on the 25th. 

It has always been my trick to load up my MP3 player and just let the sound carry my thoughts wherever I go. I find this useful every time I’m in an FX taxi sharing a long ride with yuppies yakking about last night’s PBB episode. Useful to drown the brainless cackle of FM deejays from the vehicle’s radio, too.

57%. Nice.

Of course, a good pair of earphones is a must. None of those cheap colorful Chinese-made jobs you can score on sidewalks from the same scarfed scowling vendor who also sells brick games, no-name batteries, and suyod. Those items diminish the quality of music. You might as well listen to a talentless high school garage band trying to do justice to a Dream Theater masterpiece . . . and failing miserably.

Personally, I prefer earphones with XBass capability. It’s louder, the sound more intact, and at the right volume I can feel my brain bouncing off the walls of my skull. This is exactly the reason why I abhor soundtripping on a computer, with its crummy built-in speakers and all. Frankly, I can’t see how music can be enjoyed that way. Even if I’m listening to something like “Sound of Silence” or “Enjoy the Silence,” I still prefer high decibels.

When it comes to earphones, I highly recommend the Maxell brand. They’re slick, loud, durable, and priced less than Php400. Throw me a bone if you’ve a better suggestion. Maxell isn’t paying me shit for the plug, anyway.

87%. Can’t wait to listen to “When the Fire Burns Over the Sea” and “Blue Blood.”

Not all I downloaded were under the heavy metal genre. For variety — and for late-night bus/FX rides — I threw in some alternative shit too, like Hum, Hole, Soundgarden, and Dishwalla. I’ve to move out of the box from time to time, I know. I draw the line with “Fliphop” (Filipino hiphop) and RnB, though. Techno, too, doesn’t yank my crank. But a little bit of pop every now and then doesn’t hurt.

95%. I can almost hear Alexander Krull growling, “Lying there in my small crib/Naked and innocent…”

For kick-ass, whole-album downloads, check out this site. This motherfucker has anything from the Doors to those devil-worshiping Norwegian malcontents with weird-sounding band names. Check it out quick, before that nut Lars Ulrich gets wind of it.

100%! Happy holidays, freaks.

five-finger magic

slash90I’m a fan of the guitar. Or, to be more exact, the guitar solo. Or, as Jack Black passionately calls it in School of Rock, the “face-melter.”

A face-melter is Tommy Skeoch’s addictive intro in Tesla’s “Edison’s Medicine.” It is C.C. DeVille’s devilish aural masturbation in Poison’s “Life Goes On.” It is Neal Schon’s wicked wankering in Hardline’s “Takin’ Me Down.”

Aside from melodies and heart-wrenching ballads, the reason why I like glam metal, arguably the most maligned sub-genre of heavy metal, is its sweeping solos. This never fails to make me stop whatever it is I’m doing, and just sit and listen and be carried away. (Having said that, the reason why I hate the so-called nu-metal – and probably other rock genres that sprouted after 2000 – is it considers solos as an obsolete art form.)

The appreciation goes a long way. I spent my teen years admiring the fingers of Zakk Wylde, Kirk Hammet and Jimmy Page as they spider-danced over the fretboard, creating auditory wonders in the process. I thought, That’s one talent I want to have.

The moment I saw Slash playing his solo on top of Axl Rose’s piano toward the end of the “November Rain” video was the moment I knew I’d be having a lifelong affair with Les Paul’s sonic darling. I figured a killer performance like that would be my shortcut to any girl’s bedroom (and, more important, fantasy). After all, as Charmaine always says, what can be sexier than a  man with a guitar?

So I bought a cheap Fernando electric guitar in high school and practiced. And practiced. And practiced some more. I practiced and practiced until work and family and bimbos who didn’t give a fuck if I play the guitar or the fucking ukulele started getting in the way. Still, I practiced some more.

Years – and callouses – later, I’m still not half as good as Slash. But at least I got his smoking habit. There’s weird comfort in that.


trentMy friend and erstwhile editor Karl de Mesa described it as the “wazakest night of the year.” While the yellow flocked Cory’s burial in Parañaque City, the black thronged Araneta Coliseum for Nine Inch Nails’ Wave Goodbye World Tour, reportedly the band’s last before taking on an indefinite hiatus.

I skipped work — and the whole Cory coverage — to see this industrial metal monolith. I’ve no regrets: Every minute of the night was  memorable — from the moment my sister-in-law Nikki and I were drinking beer at nearby Dencio’s while waiting for the gates to open, all the way to the encore “Hurt,” which NIN vocalist Trent Reznor delivered with so much conviction one could not help but feel the lines, “You could have it all/ My empire of dirt/ I will let you down/ I will make you hurt…”

nikki ulit

Indeed, it hurt to see the lights go back and realize the fun is over and it’s back to the same ol’ boring rat race again. Nothing is heavier to the heart than that. Anyway, I’m setting my eyes on Archenemy this October. I’ll be with Charmaine then. She’s so excited that this early she’s already checking out online shops for the perfect leather outfit to wear. A dominatrix for a date in a heavy metal concert? I’ll be damned.

(Note: Trent Reznor photo courtesy of fellow heavy music maniac Alvin Andanar. Many thanks and devil’s horns to you, dude. )