Friday, July 23, 2021

Durf's Weekly Workout # 25: July 23, 2021

You'd think I'd start a list of topics for these intro blurbs, instead of just waiting for some half-assed (and occasionally whole ass) inspiration to fire a shot across my bow.  But no, if I think of something fun to write about while I'm at work or driving, I follow that thought up with one about how if it's good, I'll remember it later.  So now I'm sitting here trying to write something entertaining, and it's all just non-starters.  I've really become enamored with golfing lately? Who cares; everyone has hobbies.  The Durfette went to a Happy Hour with some work friends the other night, and I managed to put BOTH Durflings to bed successfully? I mean, that's one hell of a flex, so it sort of fits the whole "workout" theme of these posts, but nobody really wants to hear about me singing "Ten Little Dinosaurs" until my throat bleeds, so that's out.  Even these two ideas are just feints, my futile attempts at drumming up something interesting to talk about, clearly to no avail.  So, I dunno, you guys wanna talk about stretching routines, or how "Dragula" is pretty much the greatest pop song in written history?

Yeah, me too.  I'm pretty sure the first time I heard "Dragula" was in The Matrix, but it's been inescapable ever since.  The first single from Rob Zombie's debut solo album Hellbilly Deluxe, "Dragula" has been a staple on rock radio for over twenty years (hoooooooly shit), and I've never gotten sick of it once.  Not ever.  It's perfect, three minutes and forty-two seconds of head bopping fun, complete with catchy hooks and inescapable groove.  Here, listen to it for yourself; I'm sure you've heard it within the past 24 hours, but this time really sit and listen to it.

See?  You went into this wondering what I was talking about, but then you really listened and you're like "Yeah, Durf's on to something here."  That whine starting everything off, letting you know something is coming, something ominous but exciting.  The Christopher Lee vocal sample, amping up the eerie revelry to borderline uncomfortable levels.  Then the drums kick in; the synth-backed, driving backbone of this song that keep it rocking heavy and super danceable.  The vocals, somewhere between singing and street-corner barking, coalescing into a growl for the chorus that sounds mean and angry but underneath it all you know Mr. Zombie is just having so much fun that he's probably smiling in the recording booth as he slams in the back of his Dragula.  The structure is super simple, pop music at its core: Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus, bridge, dig through the ditches and burn through the witches and slam in the back of his Dragula until the end.  There's no filler, and why should there be; he packs more wallop and attention-grabbing bits in the eight seconds after the first chorus than some bands put on entire albums!  Listen again if you don't believe me; the way those drums just hit and dance and grab your attention and make you realize that yeah, that's great and this song is your home now, because you never want to leave.  And all that's just about the song; we haven't even discussed the absolute pure bonkers '90s-ness of the music video (and we won't, because it's indescribable). 

I'm not here to say Rob Zombie is perfect, or that he's the end all be all of music; honestly, I can do without a lot of his catalogue, and his movies leave me feeling similarly "meh;" his horror-obsession and phantasmagoric ambiance seems like the kind of thing that would translate to infinite coolness, but then you remember the guy who did Pineapple Express made a better Halloween movie than he did, for God's sake.  But I'm also not here to dog Rob Zombie, who has made some pretty solid records, at least one movie that's pretty much perfect for what it is, and who has also done what The Beatles never did, what Michael Jackson never did, what Beyoncé never did, and what Taylor Swift never did, and that is write "Dragula," the greatest pop song ever.  Here's to another twenty-three years (again, hooooly shit) of digging through the ditches and burning through the witches; I don't suspect it will ever get old.  And now, on to the workouts!


Withered - Verloren

If you read last week's post, you're already aware that I did not work out today, and that unlike the majority of my Rest Week, I actually thoroughly enjoyed not waking up and hitting the grind first thing.  I woke up feeling pretty well-rested at 4:30, quietly and slowly sipped my coffee, and got my breakfast ready.  Maybe I'll have to take a weekend trip heading into every Rest Week, instead of going out of one.  Ah well.  I'll keep working on it.  But not lifting doesn't mean not listening, and my commute album today was certainly a doozy.  Accurately described as "masters of tortured blackened death metal," Withered are yet another of those seemingly infinite bands that I've heard about for years but never checked out until now, causing wave after crushing wave of regret and self-flagellation to cascade over my shameful brow.  Verloren is certainly tortured, as its crushing riffs are buried in a depressive, anguished atmosphere, but the most impressive part of the album to me is how the band allows space to slow down and let moments breathe.  There's a level of dissonance to this death metal that really fits the cut of my jib, but the fact that Withered doesn't just pummel you with riffs and instead lets your head out of the mud to breathe a little before you continue to get suffocated by their oppressive bleakness... yeah, it's super gnarly.  And who knows, maybe this is how Withered has always sounded, but I'm just late to the party.  Either way, Verloren came out June 18th on Season of Mist, and you should listen to it.


Norse - Ascetic

Another band I've never listened to (that is a five-time recurring theme this week, spoiler), Norse is a dissonant black metal band from Australia, which is one of those series of words that just seems designed specifically for me.  Ascetic is pitch black metal that at times veers into cosmic ambiance, which again, is pretty much my jam.  But it's also incredibly nerve-wracking, and I'll tell you why if you're new.  I work out early in the morning, in my garage, listening to a Bluetooth speaker.  The garage is underneath the Durfling II's room, and he's a pretty good sleeper, but often times when I start getting sucked into a spacey, ambient passage of an album like Ascetic, I'll turn the volume up and just get lost in the groove, before dropping weights on myself in a blind panic when the blastbeats start kicking, petrified that I'm going to wake up the baby.  Living with young kids is just living in fear, guys; that has nothing to do with working out, that's just a life fact.  And if you're going to be living in a world of pure, unbridled terror, you may as well have a fitting soundtrack, which is where Norse and Ascetic come in.  Look at that, full circle.  Sadly, you'll have to wait until October 8th(!) for the one and only Transcending Obscurity to release this bad boy.  But trust me, it's worth the wait. 


Dungeon Serpent - World of Sorrows

Because I slept in oh so righteously on Monday, I pushed my workout schedule back a day, so Wednesday became chest and back day.  Shockingly, given all the other proclivities and neuroses that I have around my workout routine, doing this doesn't bother me at all.  Of course then I start to wonder why this thing of all things doesn't bother me while all the other ones do, and then my day is just boned down a rabbit hole of overthinking things that are, quite honestly, really fucking stupid.  Thankfully for this day, I had Dungeon Serpent and their brand of all over the map death metal to take my mind off of my mind.  World of Sorrows is an absolute blast, moving from crushing, in your face death metal, to progressive, melodic death metal, to groovy, riff-driven death metal and back and forth and to and fro without care for boundary or regard for the musical whiplash of the listener.  The title track at one point dives into a segment that brings to mind Morningrise-era Opeth, which is incredible, and then before you're even finished processing that, it's on to an orgy of tremolo riffs and growling, gnarly bass, and you don't even miss the Opethy part, because what's happening now is terrific, but then it comes back at the end and you're just so happy to see it again, like an old friend you just met.  It's just so cool and it sounds effortless, and honestly, World of Sorrows is filled with moments like that, things that jump out on repeated listens and keep the album feeling fresh each time you restart it.  World of Sorrows came out last Friday, July 16th on Nameless Grave Records, and just in case I didn't put too fine a point on it earlier, you should listen to it.


Elles Vārti - Elles Vārti

I feel like blackened death metal has been a thing forever, but it seems like lately I've been seeing more and more blackened doom metal.  Whether that's a case of my just missing things that have been around for two decades (uh, Withered) or because it's really an emerging trend in bands is a cow's opinion; all that matters is that I'm digging it super hard.  Case in point, the self-titled debut (I think) from Latvian band Elles Vārti.  There are definitely black metal elements, but they are completely utilized in service of a crushing, oppressive doom assault that completely overwhelm your senses.  Honestly, this album hit me really hard; the skies over Boise are choked with smoke and ash from a handful of massive fires burning in the Western US, and Elles Vārti sounds like a world ablaze, like watching a landscape consumed by flame, hoping that the burn can be contained but in the back of your mind knowing the inevitability of complete consumption by the flames is only a matter of time.  Sure, that's a lot of projection, and I have absolutely no idea what the band was trying to convey, but Elles Vārti sounds a whole lot like what I imagine the end of all things sounds like, which is a staggering achievement.  Not sure this one is going to get a whole lot of plays around these parts, but I feel like when I want what it offers, there aren't many better albums I could turn to.  Elles Vārti came out June 28th.


The Devouring Void - Hypnagogic Hallucinations

I woke up this morning with absolutely no idea what I was going to listen to, which is a little rare; usually I have an album in mind, or a couple of albums that I've scoped out and need to choose between.  But today I had nothing, and I don't even have staying up to watch Top Chef on Thursdays to blame anymore!  I went to Bandcamp and just settled on the first thing I saw that looked appropriately ominous, Hypnagogic Hallucinations by The Devouring Void.  And boy howdy did Dio smile upon me with that selection.  Quite by accident, I managed to go 5/5 in albums that don't quite pigeonhole into one genre, are heavy, dissonant, ambient, and brutal at different points, and all of which absolutely shred.  The Devouring Void are a black/death metal band from Australia (which tracks) and Portugal (which is a fun, pleasant surprise), and unless my reading comprehension has evaporated completely, Hypnagogic Hallucinations marks their fifth release since July of 2020, which is insane.  Hypnagogic Hallucinations bears no marks of fatigue or a drop in creativity, however; it's a stellar album that feels like a descent into madness, with little quirks and touches that move in and out of the enormous riffs and bellowing vocals.  The hypnotic riff that opens "Paracusia" is a stand out example; it's a catchy, looping riff that soon gets swallowed by blast beats and distortion, but it still pops through just enough to lodge itself in your brain, but not so much that you don't question whether or not it's actually still playing or if you just think it is.  This is good, harrowing stuff that shouldn't be missed, and Hypnagogic Hallucinations came out July 5th, so you can go ahead and not miss it anytime!

What an absolutely fantastic week of music; honestly, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a better (or bleaker, honestly) week of tunes from the DWW archives.  Hopefully everything you listened to this week hit you as hard as these five albums hit me, and that you in turn proceeded to then hit the weights even harder.  I feel relatively certain that there are no former DWW albums coming out today (I looked and everything!), so we'll be back at it next week; for now be well and have a great weekend.


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