Out of many bands, one band to bury them all

Image by Peter H from Pixabay.

A few months ago, from one day to the next, I stopped listening to metal. After years of diving down the maw of extreme metal, I suddenly needed — like Drax spilling from Abilisk or Ace Ventura emerging from a rhino — to get out. I explored genres I’d been neglecting, then worked my way back into metal with a little metalcore. When the need for more abrasive listening returned, I turned to what was for me the must-listen album of 2021: Crypta’s debut album Echoes of the Soul.

Two of Crypta’s members hail from Brazilian thrashers Nervosa: bassist and…


I wanted grunge but got something else

Original photo by Alexandre St-Louis on Unsplash.

Early in the millennium, I could really have gone for a resurgence of grunge, but the world had moved on. Instead, popular music offered a rock revival that only overlapped grunge around the edges. Sometimes called the post-punk revival, sometimes called the garage rock revival, it’s a little hard to pin down, and it didn’t last long before disappearing into the broader music scene. Focusing on the years 2000 to 2005, here’s a list of my favorite bits.

7. The Cover Art of Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better (2005)

Franz Ferdinand’s post-punk was too sparse, clean-cut…


Where do little Hansels and Gretels go?

WARNING: The following work of fiction based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm contains references to graphic violence that some readers may find upsetting, disturbing or otherwise objectionable. Reader discretion is advised.

Original illustration by Jenny Nyström. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Brummer dragged the children to the cutting house. He placed a tin bucket on the floor at the head of the worktable and looked around for his tools. As he found each one, he hung it from a nail protruding from the underside of the table. When he had assembled them all, he put his hands on his waist and took a deep breath.

Everything was…


After battle come unsettling visitors.

Schonchin Butte cinder cone, Medicine Lake Volcano, California. By Beej Jorgensen, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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.

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

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…


Pragmatism is the philosophy for improvement not perfection

Keeping yourself together is a one-piece-at-a-time job. (Original photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash.)

Note: The following post was originally published almost ten years ago at http://gleamingsword.blogspot.com on August 20, 2011, soon after the birth of my son. It begins with a couple quotes:

“The major impact of this theory [pragmatism] is to shift talk about truth to talk about knowledge, and talk about knowledge to talk about the achievements of human powers and practices. . . he [William James] temporalizes knowledge and links it to human satisfaction and success.”
— Cornel West, The American Evasion of Philosophy

“Hello, Jack? I’m Annette. You’re doing it wrong.”
— Mr. Mom

A little while back, when…


Read the book to take the Tolstoy personality quiz

Anna Karenina (1935) lobby card. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Greta Garbo, Vivian Leigh, Sophie Marceau and Keira Knightley . . . Many great actresses have played the titular character of Anna Karenina by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910). Having enjoyed the film adaptations, I felt like I already knew the novel by the time I got around to reading it this year, but I was wrong. The book far exceeds any of the movies. It’s a shame that movie fans who don’t read the source material will miss the chance to find themselves among Tolstoy’s many characters.

The Book

Anna Karenina began as a serial in 1873. It would run in…


It was all there in 2007

Photo by Chiragddude. Source: Wikipedia. Public domain.

Linkin Park’s first album is vastly different from its most recent. Hybrid Theory (2000) is rap metal, whereas One More Light (2017) is electropop. The latter’s change in style shocked fans, and reviewers were unkind, but I argue that the album merely completes a transformation that occurred over several albums. Everything LP had been and would be was there in 2007 on Minutes to Midnight, making it the key to understanding the band’s unruly discography.

A Stake in Metaldom: Hybrid Theory

Hybrid Theory announced the band’s intention to splice styles. Metal, rock, rap, electronica, samples, noise . . . whatever worked. Aside from a moment here…


Who tends the garden — control freak or anarchist?

A long-time fan of the progressive rock band Rush, I was excited when I heard that the group’s new release, Clockwork Angels (2012), would be a concept album. Then came word that fantasy and science-fiction author Kevin J. Anderson was writing a novel based on the album’s lyrics, which spin a steampunk odyssey conceived by Rush lyricist and drummer Neil Peart. I pre-ordered a copy and, when it arrived, quickly read it from cover to cover.

Image: Goodreads

Clockwork Angels: The Novel (2012), tells the story of Owen Hardy, an apprentice apple farmer in the land of Albion. A ruler called the…


You might have thought this band’s best days were behind it

La Donna Velata by Rafaelle Monti. Public domain. Source photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Atreyu is a 19-year-old metalcore band that just parted ways with its founding member and frontman, so it should be struggling, but someone forgot to tell that to the band. On Baptize (Spinefarm Records, 2021), former drummer Brandon Saller takes over for Alex Varkatzas on clean vocals, and the resulting work is among the band’s finest.

The album does what Atreyu has always done best. The band has always been about tightly crafted, energetic, anthemic metalcore of the sort that doesn’t bore like, say, Of Mice & Men. I fell hard for Atreyu’s second album The Curse (2004) when I…

J.P. Williams

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store