February 242, or 24/2 as some people write it, is International EBM Day. EBM, short for Electronic Body Music, developed in Belgium and Germany back in the eighties, combining influences from synth-punk and industrial.
The term Electronic Body Music was actually coined by Ralf Hütter of legendary electronic pioneers Kraftwerk. Later it was adopted by Belgian EBM deities Front 242 when they released their 'No Comment' EP.
So, to celebrate International EBM Day, we selected 15 of our favorite stompers. Enjoy.
We kick off with a track from from that 'No Comment' EP by genre pioneers Front 242. Their main influences were Throbbing Gristle and Kraftwerk, hence the heavy electronic sound. In 1984 'No Comment' was released. Since then, dark dancefloors all over the world embraced the pounding industrial sound of Front 242. International EBM Day is a tribute to this band, inspired by the 242 is their name. The front part of the name comes from the idea of an organized popular uprising; the number "242" was chosen because it's "just sort of a design work", like Therapy?'s question mark.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, Kraftwerk coined the term when they released 'The Man Machine'. This album, with megahits like 'Die Roboter' and 'Das Model' (or their English counterparts) is a classic and an absolute must-have in every EBM fan's collection. Although Kraftwerk invented the term, the genre quickly evolved into something harsh and intense, far away from the calm sound of these Germans. Yet, we have to respect the classics...
DAF, or Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, is a German electropunk/Neue Deutsche Welle band from Düsseldorf. They formed in 1978 and became one of the main influences for later synthpop duos like Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell. DAF's sound was meant to be as non-American as possible, far away from rock 'n roll which was popular in those days. They used the word 'Körpermusik" to describe their style.
Another easily recognizable sound comes from Die Krupps, who started out as an EBM act before adopting distorted guitars and joining the harsh word of industrial metal. Their name comes from the Krupp dynasty, one of Germany's main industrial families before and during World War II. Along with Einsturzende Neubauten, Die Krupps inspired heaps of acts that would eventually create this vast EBM scene.
Quickly EBM began spreading over the rest of the world. In 1982, somewhere in Essex, England, Nitzer Ebb was born. Influenced by that early EBM sound, they released a heap of singles which seem to spark other genres. This one, 'Join In The Chant' became part of the Balearic scene that influenced the UK acid house scene. In recent years vocalist Douglas John McCarthy has released material in collaboration with DJ Terence Fixmer as Fixmer/McCarthy.
Of course, EBM also reached other continents. In Canada, also in 1982, Skinny Puppy formed, a band that immediately set the tone for a whole new range of EBM inspired music. With their theatrical, horror themed live shows and their energetic live performances, Skinny Puppy inspired everything from Ministry to Nine Inch Nails to Marilyn Manson to Linkin Park. Suddenly, EBM rocked again.
In 1986, Belgian duo A Split Second arrived on the scene. Their music was heavily influenced by Front 242 and colleagues but a typical Belgian mistake suddenly catapulted A Split Second into superstardom. DJ Marc Grouls played the single on 33 rpm instead of the usual 45 rpm, perhaps inspired by DJ Freddy Cousaer who years earlier had played soul and ska singles on 33 rpm, thus inventing the popcorn style. Grouls and legendary DJ Fat Ronnie invented the new beat style, which in its turn lead to countless of variations of electronic dance music.
Formed by Skinny Puppy's Bill Leeb Canadian act Front Line Assembly came to live in 1986. They quickly established themselves as one of the headliners in the scene. Their influences are as varied as the sea is deep, which sparked plenty of side projects too. Some of them include Conjure One (ambient), Decree (noise ambient) and Delirium (dance, techno, known best from their smash hit 'Silence').
German act Liaisons Dangereuses was founded by Beate Bartel and Chrislo Haas together with vocalist Krishna Goineau in 1981. They actually released only one album but that one has been immensely influential in the electronic dance music scene. According to many of the early Chicago and Detroit techno DJs, this single has been the number one reference to their entire scene.
Together with Front 242, Belgian innovators Neon Judgement have been seen as the inventors of EBM. Formed in Leuven in 1981, this duo has been incredibly popular with new wavers and goths all over the globe. They had numerous hit singles, including this classic 'TV Treated'.
Somewhere in the early to mid-eighties, Marc Verhaeghen formed The Klinik, inspired by the many EBM acts. Soon after, he started cooperating with Dirk Ivens and Eric Van Wonterghem (Absolute Body Control, Dive, Sonar, Insekt, Monolith) and Sandy Nys (The Maniacs). With EBM as their foundation, Verhaeghen and Ivens soon started expanding their sound, evolving into the dark industrial act which in its turn kickstarted a whole new underground scene.
EBM quickly sparked spin-offs, like dark industrial, hellectro or aggrotech. In 1986, Johan Van Roy recorded a first cassette under the moniker Suicide Commando. With his heavy, pummeling EBM style, he in his turn influenced a whole generation of aggrotech acts. Suicide Commando is still going strong today, regularly being one of the headliners at so-called gothic festivals.
In the nineties EBM started to influence acts in every corner of the world. In 1993 Erk Aicrag (Erik Garcia - Vocals) and Racso Agroyam (Oscar Mayorga - programming) formed Hocico. The cousins had been experimenting with electronic music since they were fifteen years old but with Hocico their preferences towards heavy EBM and industrial became clear.
American aggrotech band Combichrist formed in 2003 but as a relatively young band EBM and industrial fans immediately embraced them. The band was formed by Norwegian Andy LaPlegua, who also founded the bands Icon of Coil, Panzer AG, Scandinavian Cock and Scandy. Perhaps most remarkable, Combichrist is one of the first electronic acts that managed to play on metal festivals like Wacken Open Air.
Whaaat? LA Style? Well, yeah. In the nineties, new beat literally became the precursor for hardcore techno. Since new beat is a direct derivative of EBM, hardcore, darkcore, gabbercore and breakcore have become its descendants. What started with Front 242, Neon Judgement and Kraftwerk gradually exploded into a massive range of dance music. The Prodigy claim to have been influenced by EBM. Human Resource have been influenced by EBM. Die Antwoord have been influenced by EBM. There is absolutely no denying that Electronic Body Music is directly responsible for many of your favorite dance songs...
But of course, this is just a short list and there is many more EBM related goodness to enjoy. Now it's time for you to abuse our comment section and tell us your favorite EBM related tunes.
I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but here in Belgium Tournée Minérale kicked off yesterday. Tournée Minérale is one of those awareness-months initiatives, such as 30 Days Without Meat, Music For Life and many more. It's organised by the foundation against cancer and challenges people to not drink alcohol for a whole month.
Many people join in on the fun so I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to abuse the system and promote ourselves with another selection of applicable tunes. After all, that is what we do best. So go grab a glass of water, snort some cocaine or eat a handful of mushrooms, as long as you do not drink alcohol this month. Or better, get yourself a nice cup of coffee and chew some celery.
I'm kidding, do whatever you want but always ensure safety for you and those around you. I just wanted to make a list with Tool's 'Sober' in it, that's all.
Tool - Sober
There we go. Admit it, this is a brilliant piece of music by a tremendously talented band. This was the first song that came to mind when I heard about Tournée Minérale. The stop-motion animation still gives me the chills.
Deutsch Nepal - Erosion
Originally recorded in 1999 and re-recorded to close his latest album 'Alcohology', 'Erosion' handles "The thoughtful statements of the gain and dangers of the consumption of alcohol (), the impact fluids have, not only on the human body but also on Mother Earth itself."
Hugo Matthysen - Alcohol
Today, he's probably best known for his long-living stint as Clement Peerens Explosition but Hugo Matthysen has been playing sweet and funny rock tunes since the late seventies. On 'Alcohol' he gives a few examples about people's behaviour while drunk.
Dead Kennedys - Too Drunk To Fuck
If there is any good reason not to get too drunk, it's this one. I mean, imagine: somehow after a wild party you end up in bed with a beautiful young blonde, willing to satisfy your every need. You get naked and you look down. There you see that your little friend is not cooperating. Your willie is already passed out cold. Not a fun evening if you ask me.
Lamb of God - 11th Hour
This song appeared on Lamb Of God's album 'As The Palaces Burn'. It is about the struggle of vocalist Randy Blythe with alcohol addiction. "Sweetly she draws me into her arms, a liquid embrace to chase the day away. Sedate numb deaf and dumb, stumbling into solitude".
Underworld - Born Slippy
During Underworld gigs, many fans would raise their beer while Karl Hyde sang the words 'Lager Lager Lager Lager'. Actually, this horrified him because this song is a cry for help. He wrote it after a night of heavy drinking in a Soho club during his battle with alcoholism.
Dream Theater - The Root of All Evil
Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy wrote his "Twelve-step Suite", a set of songs which represent the Twelve Step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous. The songs were spread across five albums and dedicated to Bill Wilson, the founder of AA.
Black Sabbath - Trashed
One day while recording 'Born Again', then Black Sabbath vocalist Ian Gillan got wasted and decided to race a few laps on a nearby race track. Their management had bought them these cars to have a little fun in between recording sessions but Gillan's took the wrong one (Bill Ward's) and eventually flipped it over, totally thrashing the vehicle.
Blink 182 - Man Overboard
Many people might see Blink 182 as a fun punk rock band but they do have some messages to spread. This song for example is about finally giving up on a friend with a severe alcohol problem.
Saint Vitus - Dying Inside
Metal has always been associated with alcohol abuse with many songs about the substance. This one by proto-doomers Saint Vitus describes the vicious cycle of heavy drinking, feeling horrible and getting drunk to ease the pain.
Amy Winehouse - Rehab
I wonder if that friend Blink 182 was talking about also strongly denied his alcohol addiction. Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011. 'Rehab' is possible her greatest hit, dealing with denial. Apparently, she went into rehab for 15 minutes just to be able to tell her label that she went to rehab. Perhaps Amy Winehouse is today's perfect example about how not to deal with addiction.
Muddy Waters - Sittin' Here Drinkin'
Blues legend Muddy Waters was no stranger to the bottle. Then again, blues is usually rather whiskey soaked. "Whiskey you ain't no good I declare I'm thru with you. Whiskey you ain't no good I declare I'm thru with you. You have taken all my money. You have taken my baby too".
Depeche Mode - Should Be Higher
Dave Gahan has been battling alcoholism for years. This song deals with the idea one of "just one glass" before everything goes wrong again.
Tom Waits - The Piano Has Been Drinking
In this skit from 1977, Waits imitates a drunkard, spouting nonsense phrases. The song was performed on the short-lived US television show, Fernwood 2 Night in 1977.
Osdorp Posse - De Alcohol List
And we finish this list with a Nederhop tune by legendary rappers Osdorp Posse. This song handles the ups and down of alcohol consumption and addiction.
There you go, fifteen songs that should help you through this Tournée Minérale month. On March first, we might publish a list of drinking songs to help you celebrate a month of not-drinking but maybe by then I'd find that a little hypocritical. Anyway, whatever you do, take good care of yourself and remember to enjoy in moderation...
Ralph, Dag & Sebastien - Driekoningen
Let's begin with the original. Ralph, Dag & Sebastien bring their version of the immensely popular 'Driekoningen' song.
Mediaeval Baebes - We Three Kings
In 2013 Mediaeval Baebes released an album of Christmas songs adaptations. This video was filmed with an octocopter with Roger Warman being the pilot. I don't know why I mention this. Just enjoy.
Kamelot - We Three Kings
Power metal legends Kamelot also seem to know that song and obviously they turned it into an over-the-top power metal tune. No pilot was used in the making of this video.
Halford - We Three Kings
And look who also made a version, nobody else than the heavy metal god himself, Rob Halford. That face singing that song seems like a weird combination but somehow he pulled if off.
Major G.A.U.G.E feat. Hunger & Qwote - 3 Kingz
Here are some people who know how to work with autotune and make typical modern day stuff with it. I don't care, let's talk about pilots a little more...
Harasai - Three Kings
Or better, let's throw some ferocious death/black metal into the mix. I don't know the band but they made a song called 'Three Kings'. Tsss, the things people do to end up on Merchants Of Air.
Ratatat - Three Kings
Obviously, there are probably a bunch of 'Three Kings' tunes in the hip hop scene as well. We found a pretty neat one by someone named Ratatat. Isn't that a Pokémon?
Clive Hunt, Joe Aksumite & Mikey Lang - We Three Kings
But let's go way back to the seventies where we find this bass heavy dub version by Clive Hunt, Joe Aksumite & Mikey Lang. Their version was released in 1977.
Ella Fitzgerald - We Three Kings of Orient Are
Ok, we're tired of that song now so before we finish this list, let's hear one more version, simply because Ella Fitzgerald is a queen.
Motorhead - King Of Kings
And of course, we all know that there is only one King Of Kings. Some people might know this one from being one of the entrance songs for WWE Superstar Triple H. Lemmy, we miss you!!!
But I've been doing some listening to music that has been released before 2017. For the first time in my life, for example, I listened to Pink Floyd's 'Dark side of the moon' while doing nothing else but reading the lyrics in a karaoke way or sitting with my eyes closed. Of course I had heard tons of songs by Pink Floyd before, mostly in our day-to-day playlist, and when I was a teenager I only knew their 'Wish you were here', which I must have played about a thousand times. I also listened to CHVE's 'Rhasa' in 2017, Mike Oldfield's 'Ommadawn' and one of my all-time favourites, 'Discovery'. Bonobo's 'Black Sands' and Tangerine Dream's Stratosfear'. And to the few albums that I reviewed. And there this tiny list already stops.
Maybe that is the reason why I haven't written write many reviews yet: I think it's your duty as a reviewer to focus all of your attention only on what comes out of your speakers or headphones. No checking out info on the band or trying to find an intro, no conversations or social media or reading or walking in and out of the room while doing chores, no daydreaming or worrying or contemplating, nothing: just stay where you are and consume the music. It is as simple as it is almost impossible. Yes, I can listen to albums in public transport or while walking, but even though I have very good headphones, I still partially focus on the road, the landscapes that pass by, the book I'm reading, what the other people are up to or what my mind is yapping about. That is not 100% attention, that is not listening in the right sense of the word. It took me more than two years of mindfulness practice to be able to listen to music.
And it pays off. I hear new aspects in songs that I already knew by heart. I transform into the feeling that the artist has put in there. I truly appreciate their hard work. I am in the moment. Maybe that's why I'll focus on concerts that I've seen in 2017 for the rest of this article, because at a concert it is much easier to focus on the music alone - if the audience would read and apply
Serge's guidelines for concerts, that is.
And do you know who is responsible for my new ears? Cecilia, the old soul in the body of a young lady, protagonist of Serge's debut 'Cecilia's World'. I'll insert a small break while you go and buy that book:
There you go. I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did editing it and re-reading it. Because I don't want to favour one of the headlights of 2017 above the others, I'll go through some mind-blowing concerts I went to in order of appearance. There have been concerts too with me in the audience but me not being there. I had a shitload of shit going on in my head and I had to invent a plunger. And I missed 2/3 of Dunk! festival due to illness, unfortunately.
In January we went to Mol. Opener of the evening was Sitka, and in October we saw Ben perform live again. Sitka brings us lovely drone ambient and we heard him evolve this year. Then came Stratosphere and the same goes for Ronald: we saw him multiple times and we were pleasantly surprised by the evolution his excellent ambient tunes have gone through. After Stratosphere the two metal bands just didn't do the trick for me and then came Ashtoreth. We saw Peter perform too in April, two times, and not two of his concerts are the same. Ashtoreth is the master of meditative drones for me. January also brought Primordial to Antwerp, together with some other bands I can't remember. Primordial, heroes of my confused adolescence, bringing pure pagan black power, what an awesome gig. And they brought a lot of early work too, a very pleasant surprise.
In April we saw a lot of Ashtoreth and Stratosphere, one time they did an improvisation session together which also was memorable. This was the first time we went to living room gigs and we enjoyed that concept very much. And there was Kuro. Kuro! They brought top shelf drone jazz and I liked it from the very first notes.
May is Dunk!Fest month. Due to circumstances mentioned above, Mooncake, CHVE and Barst are the concerts I remember best. Dunk!Fest is awesome. And so are these three bands. In June we saw Chelsea Wolfe and Moon Duo in Antwerp. Moon Duo kicks ass. Go see them when you can. July brought us a day of Gent Jazz festival with two top acts: Archive and Einstürzende Neubauten. Man, those were awesome concerts. Thanks to Belgian railways we had to leave after only a few songs by Einstürzende Neubauten but it was totally worth the trip.
In September we went to see Bohren & Der Club Of Gore in Antwerp. This was the most emotional musical evening for me, a bit of a catharsis. And were they good! A German father and his two sons (or so they claim), all multi-instrumentists, bringing the best dark jazz there is.
And in October it was time for the first musical evening Serge had organized in years. Sitka, Stratosphere and Lord Kesseli and the Drums performed in Antwerp. It was a magical night, one to never forget. Check out Lord Kesseli and the Drums.
In November we went to Brussels for Bonobo. Awesome sound, awesome performance, awesome atmosphere. I loved every minute of it. A few days later there was another living room concert where debuting drone artist Urall convinced me of his capabilities, Stratosphere did the best gig of the year and Thisquietarmy did awesome things as we are used from him.
Closer of the year were Angels Die Hard, highly energetic psychedelic rock with synths, and O Yuki Conjugate who toured for the first time in a very long while. I was baffled by their set. Also extremely memorable.
Thank you to all of these artists, all of the organizers and helpers, all of the Merchants Of Air readers. And all the best for 2018.
#1 Primitive Man - Caustic (Relapse)
Ok Heaviest, sickest, most ear destroying release of the last few years, so obviously it is the 2017 Champ!
#2 Obituary - Obituary (Relapse)
and yes it’s heavy as fuck. Best since “Cause Of Death”, saw them on the Decibel tour this year, still best sounding death metal band live ever…. Not open for debate…
#3 Iron Monkey - 9-13 (Relapse)
Man I needed this comeback…… It was more then I expected, my smile could destroy you.
#4 Godflesh - Post Self (Avalanche)
It’s exactly what I want from my Godflesh, The mood is sick, turn on, turn out the lights and go insane… been listening to it daily….
#5 Phobia – Lifeless God (WillowTip)
They matter! Should be on everyone’s top 10, it’s almost perfect, best Grindcore hooks you’ll hear, ever. Buy it!
#6 Midnight - Sweet Death And Ecstasy (Hells Headbangers)
Ok so the production isn’t typical midnight, but I like it! Sleaziest metal band alive, so black and reminds me of the early evolution of metal… Dude it’s a classic!
#7 Unsane - Sterilize (Southern Lord)
Prob best written album on the list, sonic pleasure… I continuously hit repeat on "We're Fucked”
#8 Municipal Waste - Slime And Punishment (Nuclear Blast)
Take it easy there, it’s a fountain of riffs, it’s fun, made me feel like the first time I heard Nuclear Assault’s “Survive”… Rise from the ashtray and rejoice….
#9 Full Of Hell - Trumpeting Ecstasy (Profound Lore)
The soundtrack of the end of the earth, it’s a masterpiece, 20 some minutes of destructive beauty. No filler!
#10 Lock Up – Demonization (Listenable).
All star band, pfffttt whatever…. I hate that title labeled on bands. Anyway it’s been out for months and months and I’m still jamming it, Grindy, catchy, brutal, entertainment value never ends…. It’s filled with beat downs and blasts….
11 through 20 can be in any order – love them all, so I labeled them all 11!
# 11 Necrot – Blood Offerings (Tankcrimes),
#11 Incantation -Profane Nexus (relapse),
#11 Dying Fetus - Wrong One To Fuck With (Relapse),
#11 Blood Feast – The Future State Of Wicked (Hells Headbangers),
#11 Body Count – Bloodlust (Century Media),
#11 The Black Dalia Murder – Nightbringers (Metal Blade),
#11 KREATOR – Gods Of Violence (Nuclear Blast)
#11 Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore),
#11 Converge – The Dusk In Us (Epitaph),
#11 Pink Mass – Necrosexual (self Released)
Personally, for me and my family, 2017 was both a shitty year and a very good year. On the shitty side: we had to put our beloved dog Flor and our equally beloved chicken Wiske to sleep after a rapid decline in their health. May they find peace, wherever they are. On the very good side: we cemented some awesome friendships, made new friends and opened up our hearts to what we consider to be true love. You know who you are.
Musicwise, 2017 was pretty good. Some awesome releases, some good ones. I always find it hard to make lists. I will stick to what I did before. There is only one number one spot. All the rest is runner-up. And number one is:
Blanck Mass - World Eater
This is not an album. It's a force of nature. His previous work blew me away, but World Eater left me dumbfounded. The track 'Rhesus Negative' alone is worth the price of admission. It transcends genres. It's breathtaking, exhilarating and quite unlike anything you have ever heard before.
The runners up are:
Unreqvited - Disquiet
Yes, a blackgaze album in my yearlist. But what a brilliant blackgaze this is. The first ever album in this genre that genuinely moved me to tears.
Urall - Nothing but these bright edges
Amazing dark ambient/noise/industrial that I thought wasn't made anymore in this day and age. I was wrong. So wrong.
Project Nefast - Sex Money Power
Beauty in monotony. Raw, intense passion made into sound. Pure genius.
Also worth mentioning are the following:
Antzaat - The black hand of the father
Leyland Kirby - We, so tired of all the darkness in our lives
Wolves In the Throne Room - Thrice Woven
Concert of the year: Devin Townsend Project in 013, Tilburg
Thank you all for sticking with us in 2017. Stick with us for 2018. Please give love and kindness to animals. True peace starts with equality for all living beings. Strive for peace. Ahimsa.
The year 2017 is coming to an end. Magazines everywhere are coming up with the inevitable end-year lists and I somehow feel obliged to do something similar. I also asked the other Merchants Of Air members to send in a list or an article if they want to. That's the beauty of working for Merchants Of Air: you don't have to.
Personally, I'm not very fond of end-year lists. For starters, I don't even know all the albums that have been released in 2017. There are still hundreds, if not thousands, waiting to be reviewed. Many of them will not make it, unfortunately. We're severely understaffed you know.
Second, I think in 2017 my focus shifted from many different music reviews to one bmassive music review, because, quite frankly, that is what "Cecilia's World" really is. I spent the majority of the year writing it and then it had to be prepared for release, which was a frustrating and lengthy task. But when I could finally lay my hands of a copy of my own debut novel, I was proud and pleased. Writing a book has always been one of the major goals in my life and I wrote a good one. I did. Just ask the people who have read it. Just read the reactions. In fact, last night my most judgicial friend said "Cecilia's World is a damn good debut". This really meant a lot to me because this guy is brutally honest. So yes, 'Cecilia's World' is my biggest accolade this year.
So I have been browsing Merchants Of Air to refresh my musical memory. It actually gave me a headache. "Do I have to choose from all of these?", was my initial thought, followed by "this is impossible". However, if found something interesting. There seems to be a common ground for many of 2017's best albums. Just look at this list.
Bathsheba - Servus
Ashtoreth - Morana
AmenRa - Mass VI
Emptiness - Not For Music
All We Expected - Hatàr
Wiegedood - De Doden Hebben Het Goed II
Ilydaen - Veil
Monnik - Bedevaart
Marginal - Total Destruction
Marco Bailey - Temper
From doom metal to drone ambient and from black metal to post-rock and even techno, Belgium wins 2017. Bathsheba delivered the doom metal album of the year in January. AmenRa conquered the post-metal scene (again) and All We Expected managed to showcase the sound of the great ones. Our drone ambient scene has never been so alive, Ashtoreth and Monnik just being two examples of the brilliance our country possesses. Let's not forget about Dirk Serries and his massive influence on the ambient and jazz scenes
In the extreme musical regions we find Marginal who delivered one of the best grind/crust albums I have ever heard and Wiegedood continue their path of blackened destruction. Furthermore, as we Belgians are known for our huge history of electronic dance music, Marco Bailey has once again shown the world how techno should sound. Our musicians do a way better job than our politicians, law enforcers and civil servants together. So I'll just go ahead and say that Belgium produced the best albums of 2017. There you have it.
That doesn't mean that the other countries suck, far from it. Our neighbours delivered some neat stuff too. In the Netherlands, Dead Neanderthals threw some awesome albums in our mailbox. They single handedly altered the future of jazz music. MNHM delivered an astonishing album with 'Of Empires Past' and Wrok's 'De Onheilsbode' is just pure evil. But awesome music came from everywhere, literally all over the planet. India turned out to have a huge underground metal scene with plenty of amazing albums coming through.
Oh well, let's just face it. From a musical standpoint 2017 was a fantastic year. Other remarkable albums came from Monophona, Bolt, Dale Cooper Quartet and the Dictaphones, Dictaphone, Samael, Moonspell, ... Just read our reviews....
Ok, my ego wants the first paragraph in this part of my overview. Like all people, I love being right. Like when I was right when I said that Meniscus would be one of the top gigs at Dunk! Festival for example. However, there is one person who definitely made my year as far as me being right about an artist. I have seen him bloom, evolve from a being decent mid-carter to delivering one of the best drone/ambient performances I have ever seen. Me and a handful of people witnessed Stratosphere rise above himself. For years I have known he had it in him and it finally came out. The future looks good for Ronald.
Besides, Thisquietarmy was highly impressive too that same evening. His was another top-10 gig. For once, let's make an actual list.
Spirit Valley (Desertfest)
Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore (Het Bos)
O Yuki Conjugate (Ampère)
Lord Kesseli and the Drums (Antwerp Music City)
The Void Of Expansion (Dunk! Festival)
Meniscus (Dunk! Festival)
Yodok III / Barst / A-Sun Amissa (Consouling Night) | Trix
There, I think those have been the eleven most impressive gigs in 2017. Of course, there is more. I have also seen Drawn Into Descent evolve into a force to be reckoned with. I enjoyed many acts at Dunk!, Rodeo and Desertfest. Antwerp Music City and Het Bos have booked some amazing evenings. As you can see, most of these gigs happened in my hometown of Antwerp. You really don't need to go any further than Antwerp to witness some good concerts.
That being said, unfortunately the good people behind Rodeofest recently decided to call it quits. One of the nicest festivals in Belgium is no more and I truly regret that. They were an inspiration, literally. So a word of thanks goes out to them. Let's hope someone else gets the brilliant idea of organising a festival in that beautiful fort.
Merchants Of Air
I think for the majority, this website has been steadily flowing in 2017. Our number of visitors increased, even though fewer reviews have been published. We've been busy. 2017 was also the year where we finally decided that we cannot keep up with everything so we (or I) no longer stress over that aspect. However, Glauber joined in on the fun as the latest member of our crew. Like I always say, "the more the merrier". I'm sure that in the near future, he will take a lot of albums off my hands.
The absolute peak in article views of 2017 was the review for Amenra's 'Mass VI', followed by my Dutch column 'Kruishangerige Kuttenkovense Kerkkoe'. The latter certainly was a surprise. The rest of the top-10 is occupied by Brieviews, which is not a surprise since those contain several album reviews. Obviously more of these will come in the future. Over a hundred people watched the live stream of the Amenra release concert on our website. That was pretty cool too.
Money talk. 2017 was the year in which Merchants Of Air finally became profitable. We've actually sold more t-shirts than ever before and some people have purchased our free compilation. With all expenses deducted, we made a profit of 20 euros, plus 2.61 more waiting on Amazon. Cool hé.
To be honest, there is not one album I'm specifically looking forward to. I know there are some interesting ones coming up but I'll just wait and see. I'll just let the music surprise me again. Same goes for Merchants Of Air. Maybe other writers will join, maybe not. Maybe more reviews will be published, maybe not.
On a personal standpoint, I'll try to continue what I'm doing now. I'll still publish heaps of reviews and articles and I'll try to combine that with a writing career. The first paragraphs of my next novel have been penned down. I can already promise you, it's going to be something very, very different from the sweet and joyous 'Cecilia's World'.
Pink Floyd - Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict
Let's start with a little game. Guess all the animals in this song (use the comments) and maybe you win an animal themed CD. This experimental track by the legendary Pink Floyd appeared on their 'Ummagumma' album, back in 1969.
The Cramps - Human Fly
From "several" animals we go to just two, 'human' and 'fly'. We do that just to mess with religious people who think we humans are above animals. HAH.
Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit
I think many people will agree with me that this is one of the greatest songs in the history of the animal kingdom. That, and bunnies are fucking cute!
Pilote - Turtle
Most people might know this one from the Bonobo remix but we prefer the original, which is a bit more jazzy. We usually do.
Bjorn Torske - Ode To A Duck
Coming off 'Future Sounds Of Jazz - Vol 5', this is an excellent tune to take your beloved ducks out for a walk.
Southern Culture on the Skids - Camel Walk
From ducks to camels, because just like most of us after an evening of heavy drinking, camels walk funny. Plus, this is a fun song.
Primus - Wynona's Big Brown Beaver
It doesn't always have to be 'Too Many Puppies', right? Then again, I'm not sure that this song is about an animal at all.
Gorki - Lieve Kleine Piranha
My God, Luc De Vos looked young when he was young. This song is not really about piranhas but certainly good enough to be on this list. Luc was god. Fuck, we miss this guy.
Heart - Barracuda
And since we're dealing with flesh eating fish, we have no other choice than add Heart's 'Barracuda' to this list. We'll move to safer and friendlier animals soon, I promise.
3rd Ear Experience - A Jam With Rosemary and Bees
And from hard rock we go to an immersive jamsession by psychedelic masterminds 3rd Ear Experience. Bees are friendly, a lot friendlier than flesheating sea dwellers...
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
Damn, this clip looks so eighties. Then again, in that age, people still believed that "every little thing is gonna be alright". Things have gotten a little more aggressive since then, just like this list.
Impaled Nazarene - Goat Perversion
Ever since they released this 'Goat Perversion', Finnish black metal masters Impaled Nazarene have maintained a tradition of including at least one song on every album which has the word "goat" in the title. I told you we were getting aggressive...
Carcass - Maggot Colony
Maggots are animals too. Now go hug one.
Black Sabbath - War Pigs
Ok, this is not really about animals...or is it? I mean, this thing we call "humanity" is a joke, right? Just listen to these lyrics...By the way, sorry about the sound quality but YouTube wasn't very good yet in 1970.
Ronnie en de Ronnies - Beestjes
Ozzy was not the only one who engaged with animals in 1970. So did Ronnie en de Ronnies, a weird gang from The Netherlands, which in itself is already a weird gang. There is also a dance version of this song, but I think a vasectomy is more pleasant.
Bonus: Nu metal parrot.
Archive - Fuck U
Forgive me for picking a fan-made lyric video but in this one the lyrics are extremely important. My suggestion: learn them by heart and sing them loud whenever your boss is an ass again.
Overkill - I Hate
I know, Ugly Kid Joe had a pretty similar titled song but when you really want to get the message over, you better go with Overkill. I mean, no need to go for a friendly 'hahah, I hate you' song when you can really thrash faces, right?
BloodHound Gang- I Hope You Die
Or if you want something rather funny but still want to send a clear message, perhaps this is the tune you want to send. It's a clear and direct message, something which many people claim to like...
Ben Folds Five - Song for the Dumped
Everyone is angry at their ex, and with a good reason too. Exes are just former leeches... Well, mostly. Ben Folds' ex still owed him some money, so he made a song about it which probably earned him more money than the bitch actually owed him. Good for him...
Belgian Asociality - Trap Het Af
For those who don't understand Dutch, don't worry, we have no idea what he's singing either. Still, this whole song is a perfect one to tell people to "bugger off".
Nailbomb - For Fuck's Sake
Max Cavalera's industrial output Nailbomb also knew a thing or two about being pissed off. Together with Alex Newport of Fudge Tunnel, he created some of the most intense hate anthems to date. Oh man, how I wish for a Nailbomb reunion...
Haus Arafna - Die Like A Man
Right, let's take a look in the noise and power electronics scene. Haus Arafna has been creating harsh, unpleasant music for decades. I suggest you play this loud.
Brighter Death Now — I Hate You
Or how about mister Cold Meat Industry himself, Roger Karmanik and his ear torturing Brighter Death Now moniker. Delightful musicks to fuck up your hated one's sanity, that's all you need...
Pain - Shut Your Mouth
Although this can be good advice for everyone, this smasher by Pain is a clear message, not to be missed by its receptor. Plus, it's an awesome piece of metal.
The Stooges - Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell
Obviously, people have been pissing each other off for ages and the punk scene is a very good source to find some decent hate songs. Like this rough and raw tune by The Stooges for example.
Godsmack - I Fucking Hate You
Well, I don't think this really needs an explanation. This song seems to be near the top of people's favorite hate songs, and perhaps rightfully so too.
Combichrist - Enjoy The Abuse
American aggrotech legends Combichrist also have a few stomping hate songs. This is one of my favorites, containing some good torturing advice...
Apoptygma Berzerk - Bitch
And since we're dancing, let's quickly blast this futurepop classic by Apoptygma Berzerk through the speakers. Because you know, "bitch" isn't a very nice word but sometimes well deserved...
Anal Cunt - I Made Your Kid Get AIDS So You Could Watch It Die
Of course, Anal Cunt deserve a spot here since they were one of the angriest mofos on the entire planet, plus they topped it off with hilariously dark humor. What's not to like about these guys.
Reel Big Fish - P.S. I Hate You
It doesn't always have to be harsh and brutal to get the message through. Ska lords Reel Big Fish know a thing or two about not liking someone very much...
Bonus: Kat McSnatch - You Are A Cunt
It's funny because it's true...
As I said before, I love making lists and apparently my brain is keen on combining songs in one way or another. Just now, I heard a rock song that can easily stand it's ground on a dancefloor and my internal jukebox started throwing more and more of these songs into my consciousness. So I made a lists of beats driven rock songs or the other way around. After all, it's Saturday and some people out there want to dance.
Now, you may ask why there's a picture of a squirrel accompanying this article. Well, mostly because it's cute but also mostly because I was too lazy to photoshop something. I wanted to compile this list.
Crash City Saints - The Hour of the Wolf
If anything, this song by American shoegazers Crash City Saints is the culprit for this list. Just listen to it, it will drag you to the dancefloor immediately and keep you occupied there for the whole seven minutes. I can recommend the entire album by the way. Read my review here.
Pulp - Disco 2000
Then this classic came up and the idea for a new fifteen songs list was born. Millions of people have been shaking their asses off to Pulp's 'Disco 2000' and with a good reason too.
Bloodhound Gang - The Bad Touch
Undoubtedly, this one needs to be in here, even though Bloodhound Gang have way better songs than 'Bad Touch'. Still, boom boom boom boom and lyrics about copulation, who doesn't love that.
Kong - Rage8FA
Dutch progressive instrumentalists Kong have been exploring the combination of electronics and rock music for years, quite often coming up with awesome and unique tunes like this one. No wonder this is my all time favorite band.
Morbid Angel - Destructos vs. The Earth / Attack
One of the most hated albums in the metal scene, Morbid Angel's 'Illud Divinum Insanus' (2011) has been destroyed in reviews far and wide. The fans couldn't stand the electronic beats but to be quite honest, this tune is an industrial stomper.
Rob Zombie - Dragula
And thus we hop into the world of industrial rock where we find this legendary creep. Rob Zombie has never been weary of electronic and once in a while that turns into something awesome.
KMFDM - Hell Yeah
German industrialists KMFDM have been throwing guitars into the stomping EMB sound for years. This single was released back in May and you can still bang your head and dance at the same time.
Kiss - I Was Made For Lovin' You
Ok, let's go away from the heavy industrial beats for a while and concentrate back on disco. In that aspect, this cheesy tunes by legendary rockers Kiss definitely earns a place on this list.
Queen - Another One Bites the Dust
Speaking about disco beats, let's throw in another absolute classic. 'Another One Bites the Dust' still fills dancefloors at wedding receptions to this day. Apparently, it was Michael Jackson who convinced Queen to release this song as a single.
Waltari - So Fine!
Finnish band Waltari frequently combines alternative metal, progressive metal, death metal, hard rock, heavy metal, hip hop, industrial, pop, punk, symphonic metal, techno and thrash metal. Just to give you an idea...
The KVB - Lower Depths
Darkwave duo The KVB definitely needs to be on this list. This might be the slowest of all songs mentioned here but it drives on an immersive eighties beat and features delightful shoegaze guitars.
Lords Of Acid - I Sit On Acid
Ok, this might be cheating a bit but to be fairly honest, 've seen Praga Khan and Lords Of Acid live and both of Maurice Engelen's project rock harder than many rock bands out there.
Revolting Cocks - Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?
This Rod Stewart cover by legendary weirdos Revolting Cocks is a strange, creepy little tune but then again, we're all dark and creepy...
The Residents - Kaw-Liga
From the same era and equally legendary as the one above,The Residents' smash hit Kaw-Liga still fills the dark dancefloors. The group is noted for surrealistic lyrics and sound, disregard for conventional music composition, and the over-the-top theatrical spectacle of their live performances.
Atari Teenage Riot - Speed
And we end with another brutal industrial stomper, courtesy of Atari Teenage Riot. They too have been combining guitars and electronic for years and they too can still easily slash the competition.