I wrote a good bit about Voivod’s last album, Killing Technology, in the Blog-a-thon, so read that if you want a bit more context. In Dimension Hatross, released in 1988, Voivod continued their shift away from a grimy thrash sound, even further than Killing Technology. This album marks a sort of midpoint, and Voivod amps up the psychedelic elements to the max in this release. Dissonant riffs once again play a big part, but counter to Killing Technology, they don’t attack you directly. They simply sit and stare, a reflection of the fever-dream atmosphere that Voivod’s sound is immersed in. Everything sounds like a darker, spike-riddled Pink Floyd, and in general, the aggression is toned down, opening up the soundscape for the listener to explore themselves.
Not that it’s a nice place to be in. This release is assuredly unfriendly, and for some it may take multiple listens for the album to ‘click.’ However, once you get into it, there’s plenty of depth to sink your teeth into. Snake’s weird (I don’t really know another way to describe them) vocals add an element of confused, scrambled humanity, while Piggy’s otherworldly guitar provides the harshness, the alien environment. There is also a distinct lack of any sort of counterpart to Ravenous Medicine from Killing Technology. There are no easy, listenable songs, no paths of escape, no respite. The dizzying, surreal lyrics on songs like “Macrosolutions to Megaproblems” and “Tribal Convictions” are like illusions, vaguely coherent in the surface but vanishing upon closer inspection. The primality of songs like “Psychic Vacuum” and “Brain Scan” accentuate this, connecting to a dark and base subconscious. The dizzying maze of nonsensical ideas and eldritch sounds leaves one trapped, lost in the depths of Dimension Hatross. And it’s a fascinating place to be lost in.
Martyr is a technical death metal band from Quebec, Canada that was formed in 1994 by two brothers. Their first album, Hopeless Hopes, was released in 1997, and while there was certainly greatness evident on that release and in the group, they needed that little push forward, that next step to put out a classic record. Enter Warp Zone. Released in 2000, this record takes everything good about Hopeless Hopes and expands and refines it. The songs are much more unique and differentiated, and the riffs have that great ‘similar but different’ quality that simultaneously keeps the album interesting while tying it all together.
The influence of such metal giants as Cynic and Voivod is easily seen here, and while the straight sci-fi themes is toned down, the eerie feelings of alienation, isolation, and desecration are still present in full force. And while this is most certainly a technical record, you won’t find any Meshuggah here. Atheist is a much stronger comparison.
The atmosphere of the album constantly shifts between aggression and melancholy, with a variety of transitions that are greatly aided by the band’s technical ability to write and play complicated songs. This keeps the album consistently fresh, even after 5+ listens. Each track has plenty going on, but Martyr doesn’t fall into the trap that plagues so many technical metal bands: complexity for it’s own sake. Never was I thinking that any moment in the album was just for ‘showing off.’ The technicality serves the song, not the other way around. And serve it does. Tempo changes are extremely common, and they unsettle while keeping things interesting. Dan and Francois Mongrain’s vocals are an interesting mix between the chant-like qualities of Slayer’s Tom Araya and the classic guttural death metal growl. Lampron and Dan Mongrain’s guitar work is impeccable, and they can effortlessly switch between quick, precise melodies and crushing riffs. Hamelin’s drumming has no trouble keeping up, and his primal, brutal sound often keeps the album grounded. Francois Mongrain’s bass work is solid, and helps drive the tracks forward. The mix really highlights these performances, as all the instruments are distinctly audible. None of the brutality comes from the production, but it doesn’t need to. The performances speak for themselves and the production supports them, leading to a sound that is clean without being overly sanitized. Overall, this is a great album, and any fan of metal owes it to themselves to give this one a shot.
I’ll take a crack at all the prompts.
Prompt: Favorite Summer vacation
Probably San Francisco, we had a really great tour guide and it was cool to be able to see the sights while also learning about the history. I don’t really feel like doing any more of this one.
Prompt: Fine arts or Sports
What is this asking? If I had to choose? Fine arts because I’m very bad at sports and don’t like them (probably because I’m very bad at them). Not much more reason than that.
Prompt: Reoccurring dreams, scary/weird dreams
I don’t dream very often, and when I do, I don’t really remember them so I can’t think of anything for this one.
Prompt: Favorite Saying, what it means to you
I got a good one. “Don’t believe the hype,” said by the famous Chuck D of Public Enemy. Many people in this world will try to lead others on, deceive, steal, and hype is the tool of the corporation, the government, the Man, etc.. It’s very important to realize that with most things hype is building for a reason, it’s because someone wants to sell you something. I follow video games and in the industry the next big-budget game is always being heavily advertised. EA or Ubisoft or whoever always tries to get people hyped up, to preorder the game so that when it comes out, and doesn’t live up to the wild expectations, everyone’s already bought it so they can’t get their money back. It’s important to be able to distinguish being excited from being hyped. In my mind, hype is a word for an artificial process, like a product on a factory line, something manufactured through mechanical movements. Being excited is natural and okay. If you think something good will happen and understand the risks, etc. it’s totally fine to get excited for something. I draw the line based on permission. I do not give companies permission to try to enter my mind, influence my feelings on their product. I can be excited for something they’re making, but I do not appreciate being manipulated, no matter what it is. This applies generally, to government, relationships (although for that one you might want to be careful), and others. It’s a useful concept generally to me.
Prompt: Is math real or made up?
It’s real. So the standard argument for made up, to my knowledge, goes that math is an invention because it is just arbitrary rules that are set, and the consequences of those rules. It’s like a game that humans play, where we make up rules then see what happens. This stance is basically correct from my point of view, in the sense that all math is based on axioms that are essentially just choices by the general mathematics community. The thing is though that these axioms are stated in a logical way, and their consequences are worked out logically. In our observations of the world, it would seem that logic is an intrinsic, and very real, foundation of the universe. So in this sense facts like “one is the smallest positive integer” are real, provided everyone agrees on definitions (what is and integer, what is positive, etc.). This is because, using the axioms provided, anyone can logically reason that one is indeed the smallest positive integer. As such, math is real in a Platonic sense, as facts about the integers under conventional definitions are embedded in logic and therefore cannot be changed, as logic appears to be immutable in our universe.
Prompt: What do eyes figuratively mean?
I’m not really sure what this question is asking. I guess the connotation of sight? Eyes as a symbol? I’ll bite. Eyes generally symbolize knowledge, as sight is our bodies’ primary sense and is where we get the majority of information about what happens around us. Blindness means the opposite, a lack of knowledge. Eyes are also used against people, and can betray a person’s true intentions if he/she tries to disguise them (again, knowledge related). That’s all I got.
Prompt: How are we organized and how are we not?
Kinda boring, skip.
Prompt: Favorite album and why?
I don’t really have a favorite album, so I’ll go with one I’ve recently heard, Voivod’s Killing Technology. Voivod is a pretty old metal band, and their first two albums, War and Pain and RRRRROOOOAAARRRRR, are very raw, intense, thrashy. Those albums feel like berserkers, raging throughout soundscapes on a mission of death, pain and destruction. For their third album, Voivod evolves, sounding more refined and efficient. The name very much reflects this, as they gain a technological edge to them, trading tanks and pistols for nukes and sniper rifles. They also rely even more heavily on their dissonant riffs, especially in the opener and title track. Killing Technology drops the fuzzy and lo-fi production for a clean, sharp sound, forcing the dissonance onto the foreground, into fleshy human ears not designed for listening to it. The rest of the tracks follow this pattern, with one notable exception: Ravenous Medicine. This song is near the back of the album, and is very simplistic compared to the other tracks. However, it is very listenable, and has a great melody and drivng sound.
Hi, I’m Peter, I have a green notebook with everything I’ve ever thought in it, but I don’t have it, it’s gone. I lost it somewhere in my high school and I don’t know what dark corner it’s in but everyone else watches and points and laughs and I can’t get them to tell and they’re snakes, they’re all in on it but I know that they know that I know that they know where it is and where is it?!
Peter is a high school kid who’s whole life is contained in a single green notebook. But everything starts falling apart when one day, it is nowhere to be found. Now it seems like everyone is turning against him. Will Peter be reunited with his most valued possession? Or will he be betrayed by his closest friend?
“Hi, I’m Peter, just a kid in high school, I have a green notebook with everything I’ve ever thought in it, but I don’t have it, it’s gone, I don’t know where it is but everyone else seems to but I can’t get them to tell and they’re all laughing at me but I know that they know that I know that they know where it is and I need it right now!“
Peter is a high school kid living a high school life. But everything starts falling apart when he loses his prized green notebook. Now it seems like everyone is turning against him. Will Peter be successful in his quest? Or will he be betrayed by his closest friend?
Alex Rapach is a high school student at Marquette, a National Merit Semifinalist, a Presidential Scholarship recipient, and an AP Scholar. When he is not busy with school, he writes code for the robotics team and blog posts for the internet. Alex enjoys listening to screaming death metal while working. No, he won’t turn it down.
I will organize my ideas here.
So the premise is some kid (currently named Peter, this is very arbitrary and I’ll probably change it as soon as I think of anything better) loses his notebook with all of his stuff in it (drawings, writings, I guess just generally embarrassing stuff) and freaks out. He can’t find it anywhere, and everyone seems to be making fun of him, and later it gets implied that they found his notebook. He eventually reaches the highest point of his desperation, but then finds the notebook in some benign place. It’s obvious in retrospect that no one was actually making fun of him, he was just stressed and interpreting things incorrectly. In reality, no one really cares about his notebook and he is free to do whatever he wishes.
The goal is some sort of inversion on the typical bullied kid story, as in my experience people simply don’t care enough to make fun of a random kid they don’t even know. I will have to be careful to not imply that people don’t get bullied, it’s just that people in general will usually let you do your own thing as long as it doesn’t annoy or disrupt them. That is also the intended message, that you are a lot freer to “be yourself” than you might think. Rephrased, people really don’t mind most things, even if it seems otherwise.
XCOM 2 came out this weekend. Short overview: turn-based strategy where you blast aliens. That’s nice, and in fact the aliens are so insidious that they have invaded my computer. The game runs quite poorly, and it doesn’t even look that great. The framerate tanks to 20 FPS in the main base, which is 1. not a good sign and 2. very annoying. The visuals are not any sort of extreme improvement on the last game, and I highly doubt that there is anything going on that is extremely computationally-intensive (the game isn’t that complicated). That only leaves one culprit: bad optimization. You know, with me buying the game on its first weekend, I shouldn’t be surprised, but it still hurts anyways. If the game itself was bad I guess it wouldn’t matter how well it runs, but the game seems to be good. It’s just a major pain in the butt to play. I already got one crash on load, and even when it doesn’t, the pace is glacially slow. Anti-aliasing gut-punches the framerate for no discernible reason, and too many enemies means the game chugs harder than a sedan climbing Mount Everest. I guess I fell for the hype or something, this kinda sucks but I’m really holding out hope for a patch this week that fixes some of the stuff.
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
Well, hopefully they’ll deliver. In the meantime I”l just have to dump the graphics down and stare at a soup-like slurry of pixels getting shot by the aliens. Oh well. Maybe Donald Trump was right after all.