My doom rock is upon me

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Photo by on .

What makes a great album? I suspect any answer to that question would have some great album as a counterexample. But when certain elements come together right, the effect is undeniable. The Swedish doomsters of Avatarium have always impressed, but more than ever before, they brought together the elements of a great album for 2019’s The Fire I Long For.

ROCK

First and foremost, The Fire I Long For rocks. Dating back to 2012, Avatarium began in the doom metal genre of band founder Leif Edling’s most well-known band Candlemass, but by the time of its third full-length release Hurricanes and…


It’s as easy as breathing

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Image: Author

Multitasking used to be the magic word for successful living, but now I hear more about mindfulness. Maybe everybody got exhausted from multitasking and needed a way to stop flying apart at the seams all the time. But what is mindfulness and how do you practice it? Here are three slim volumes to help you get started.

1. Mindfulness on the Go: Inner Peace in Your Pocket by Padraig O’Morain (Harlequin Nonfiction, 2014)


Some albums deserve a second chance. But only some.

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Original photos by (left) and (center and right) on .

The girl behind the counter said no. She would not buy these albums. They were CDs I’d pulled out of heavy metal bargain bins, listened to once, promptly forgotten, and was now trying to sell at Book Off, a used media chain store. I took this rejection as a sign that I should give these albums another try, so I thanked the girl kindly and took them home for another listen. Now I’m better acquainted with them, for better or worse.

1. Throneum’s Mutiny of Death (, 2004)

I should have known this was a keeper from the cover…


After battle come unsettling visitors.

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Schonchin Butte cinder cone, Medicine Lake Volcano, California. By , , .

The battle between the United States Army and Modoc Tribe raged across the lava beds, leaving behind the flotsam and jetsam of war. Moaning horses lay in troughs of churned earth. Dead hands gripped fallen standards. Bodies lay in a litter of spilled cartridges, bayonet shards, fragments of clothing, and bits of photographs and letters from home. And onto this field stepped three gunmen in black.

Bo “Bronco” Riley hit the dirt. The hell’d they come from? he thought as he wriggled behind the body of a dead horse and peeked around for another look.

All three of the figures…


To one unholy victor go the spoils.

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Witches’ Sabbath (1821–1823) by Francisco Goya. Public domain. Source: .

From his cover in the darkness, Bishop Diclux watched the witches cavort in the light of their bone-fire. Breasts shook and trembled. Sweat flew from tossed hair. Mouths ejected grunts and spewed wild ululations. Within the flames, a massive form hunkered, turning its shaggy, horned head from side to side in slow, baleful arcs. Diclux, Christian priest in public and diabolical warlock in secret, wrapped a hand around the hilt of his sword.

This was going to be a hunt to remember.

Diclux’s companions this night were his Hammer, eight warriors chosen from his enclave for their loyalty, cunning and…


Even a toyline can become a classic work of science fiction

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Original photo by on Pixabay.

Transformers, My Little Pony . . . Sectaurs, anyone? Toys often become comics, even good comics, but it isn’t often they become great comics, much less represent the best the medium has to offer. And yet the Micronauts did just that. At its pinnacle, the comics were an imaginative and intense exploration of life, death and all the changes in between.

Toys Before Fiction

The Micronauts began as toys. In 1974, Takara in Japan began producing the Microman line featuring smaller versions of its Henshin Cyborg toys. The central conceit was that the action figures, which were roughly three to five inches tall…


I’m not saying these are the best, but they are

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Illustration by author.

My Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums of 2020 simply didn’t do justice to how alive the scene was in 2020, so I’m back to satisfy my demons with a list of the best EPs and singles I ran across this year. You may choose to overlook shorter releases in favor of full-length albums, but you do so at the peril of your metal soul:

  1. Mourning Beloveth / The Ruins of Beverast, Please Don’t Walk on the Mass Graves (Ván Records)


When the going gets weird, the weird get metal

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Illustration by author.

It was the weirdest of times, it was the weirdest of times, and holy hell was 2020 weird. Some would say it was simply bad, but look on the bright side: At least the soundtrack was good. Read on for my top heavy metal picks of the year.

1. Myrkur, Folkesange (Relapse Records)

Start complaining about my list now, because my Album of the Year is one of those albums that isn’t technically metal. There aren’t any growls, thunderous drums or wailing guitar solos. This is the type of metal that’s metal in spirit, like something from Dark Sanctuary’s discography


People thought the Beatles were back

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Exoplanet GJ 504b. Courtesy of .

One of rock’s obsessions since April 10, 1970 has been identifying the “next” Beatles. The music industry has heralded Badfinger, Oasis and others as the second coming, but these bands never reached the same heights in musicianship or cultural impact. One band to arrive on the scene in the seventies, however, was so impressive that people thought it was actually the Beatles come back under a pseudonym. That band was Klaatu. And yes, it was that good.

Klaatu Lands

Klaatu was from Canada — not Liverpool. John Woloschuk and Dee Long founded the band in 1973 and were soon joined by percussionist…


Jazz-rocker Donald Fagen’s futurescape is only utopian on the outside

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Image by from .

Everyone knows road movies, but there are also road concept albums. The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking by Roger Waters, Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age and A Fine Day to Exit and The Optimist by Anathema are examples. Steely Dan visionary Donald Fagen’s Kamakiriad (1993) is another example, but one more dialed back. It’s perfect for lowering the top, donning your shades, and putting on the appearance of simply cruising through your mid-life existential crisis.

The Future Is Bright

Kamakiriad is set twenty minutes into the future and that future looks bright. According to the liner notes, the…

J.P. Williams

I write about the intersection of arts and ideas, my small contribution to the #ThinGraphiteLine between civilization and its collapse.

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