Tagheavy metal

Help Me Crack the Bestseller List

I’m this close to cracking the Top 100 Free bestseller list on Amazon. I just need a few people to take a chance on an epic sci-fi thriller inspired by heavy metal.

If you already have a copy, I appreciate your support.

If you don’t have a copy yet, are you brave enough to give Without Bloodshed a shot? It’s still free for Kindle, and available worldwide. You don’t have anything to lose, and plenty to gain. I’ll even convert to other formats if you prefer ePub or PDF. Just contact me via social media or email with proof-of-purchase, and I’ll hook you up.

Do you like complex, powerful female characters? I got a cast full of ‘em. Like conspiracies? I got those, too. How about sympathetic villains? Got plenty of them, too. And flawed heroes? I’ve even got some of those. I have something you won’t find anywhere else: Angry Wizard Sex.

Artwork by Ricky Gunawan

Artwork by Ricky Gunawan

About Without Bloodshed

“All who threaten me die.”

These words made Morgan Stormrider’s reputation as one of the Phoenix Society’s deadliest IRD (Individual Rights Defense) officers. He served with distinction as the Society’s avenger, hunting down anybody who dared kill an Adversary in the line of duty. After a decade spent living by the sword, Morgan seeks to bid a farewell to arms and make a new life with his friends as a musician.

Regardless of his faltering faith, the Phoenix Society has a final mission for Morgan Stormrider after a dictator’s accusations make him a liability to the organization. He must put everything aside, travel to Boston, and prove he is not the Society’s assassin. He must put down Alexander Liebenthal’s coup while taking him alive.

Despite the gravity of his task, Morgan cannot put aside his ex-girlfriend’s murder, or efforts to frame him and his closest friends for the crime. He cannot ignore a request from a trusted friend to investigate the theft of designs for a weapon before which even gods stand defenseless. He cannot disregard the corruption implied in the Phoenix Society’s willingness to make him a scapegoat should he fail to resolve the crisis in Boston without bloodshed.

The words with which Morgan Stormrider forged his reputation haunt him still.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedInBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Discovering Baroness

I finally noticed that Amazon had gotten into the streaming music game with Prime Music. Since I already pay these guys eighty bucks a year for Amazon Prime, I figured I’d give ‘em a shot. I installed the Amazon Music app on my phone, and got on their website to check out their heavy metal selection. I found several old favorites, like Blizzard of Ozz and Powerslave, but I also found some new bands to try. One of them is an act called Baroness.

I admit it, I added their albums to my library on the strength of their covers. Just look at them.

Baroness: Red Album

Baroness: Red Album

Baroness: Blue Record

Baroness: Blue Record

Baroness: Yellow and Green

Baroness: Yellow and Green

These are some gorgeous covers, reminiscent of both 1970s rock and metal and art nouveau. The music seems reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Allman Brothers, which shouldn’t surprise me since Baroness hails from Savannah, Georgia.

Their Red Album and Blue Record also reminds me of The Sword’s first albums, Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth. There’s plenty of progressive material in here as well. I’m not sure what to make of Yellow and Green yet, but there’s a serious groove to be found in “Take My Bones Away”.

I regret not discovering Baroness sooner, but I’ve said the same about just about every band I like, from Coheed and Cambria all the way back to the Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath. It’s not that I want the hipster cred. Trust me when I say don’t have the figure for skinny jeans.

Actually, Baroness kinda reminds me a bit of the BOC. I think it’s the guitar work, and the emphasis on tight drumming and bass. Why not give ‘em a listen using the SoundCloud widget below, and decide for yourself? Just keep in mind that their material from Yellow and Green is different from their older albums. Good stuff, either way.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedInBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

The Worshyp: A Six-Pack of Metal

This post is for all you metalheads. Toronto thrash revivalists The Worshyp are running a little giveaway on their Bandcamp page. Get six great selections from their albums Kingdom Earth and Evil Abounds for free. Donations are naturally welcome. I’m plugging these guys because I’m acquainted with lead singer Marz Nova via Facebook, and because I’m one of their fans.

I’ve been a fan of this band since late 2011, and even mentioned these guys in Without Bloodshed. Kingdom Earth is as solid a debut as Iron Maiden’s self-titled 1980 debut or Metallica’s 1983 LP Kill ‘Em All. Their follow-up, Evil Abounds, belongs with classics like Maiden’s The Number of the Beast, Metallica’s Master of Puppets, and Megadeth’s Rust in Peace.You can get their full albums on Bandcamp, or check them out here.

I recommend “My World”, “Left to Die”, and “Never Afraid” from Kingdom Earth

Standout tracks on Evil Abounds include “Diabolic”, “WarTorn”, “Destroyer of Man”, and “Villains” — which would be a great song for Imaginos.

Go buy yourself some independent heavy metal. You won’t regret it, because these guys are fucking awesome. \m/

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedInBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Dark Souls II is Metal.

Dark Souls II is everything a serious gamer could want. The atmosphere is bleak. The graphics are gorgeous even if From Software toned them down compared to pre-release video. Even the most trivial fights can feel harrowing if you make a mistake that doesn’t kill you outright. The boss fights are brutal, and each has its own music. In short, Dark Souls II is as metal as a game can get without having a heavy metal soundtrack.

While Namco Bandai released a trailer featuring “Locomotive Breath” by Jethro Tull, Tull isn’t quite metal.

Maybe you need something to help you get pumped up before you go beyond death? I can help you out. Here’s a dozen badass tunes.

Accept: “Beat the Bastards”

Play this one before a boss fight. Beat the bastards down!

Turisas: “Stand Up and Fight”

I know this game’s tough, especially if you’re used to more frenetic melee action games like Devil May Cry. But don’t give up! Stand up and keep fighting. You’ll win through if you persevere.

Slayer: “War Ensemble”

Sometimes just surviving is a victory.

Motorhead: “Shoot You in the Back”

Dark Souls II might not be a Western, but you still gotta watch your back.

Testament: “Alone in the Dark”

You might think you’re alone in the dark with demons torturing you, but you’re not alone. Not when players have racked up almost a hundred in-game megadeaths.

Manowar: “The Power of Thy Sword”

The power of your sword might be your only hope. Treasure every bit of titanite you find.

Judas Priest: “Hard as Iron”

When you’re on top of your game and no enemy or invading player can seem to touch you, this is the song for you.

Running Wild: “Under Jolly Roger”

Granted, the Varangians infesting No-Man’s Wharf are more like Vikings than pirates, but the Wharf still looks like a pirates’ settlement.

The Worshyp: “Destroyer of Men”

Any one of the bosses in Dark Souls II could be called a destroyer of men. You’re gonna destroy each and every one of them. What does that make you?

Iron Maiden: “Die With Your Boots On”

Dude, this is Dark Souls. You’re gonna die. You might as well die with you boots on.

Jolly Cooperation

Don’t think these tunes are metal enough for Dark Souls? Got some I didn’t think to include? Use the comments section and tell me so.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedInBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Beware the Ides of March

It’s the Ides of March, when Brutus, Cassius, and their lean and hungry crew tried to save the Roman republic by shanking dictator-for-life Gaius Julius Caesar. I think we all know how that turned out.

While I could muse on the gap between what people intend to accomplish and what their plans end up accomplishing once carried out, it’s almost half past midnight and I’d rather use this post as an excuse to gather up recordings of a cool little Iron Maiden instrumental inspired by the day. It’s too bad old Gaius Julius couldn’t have stayed home today and fired up his stereo.

Here’s the original, from the 1981 Killers album:

Here’s some old EMI footage of Maiden doing Ides and Wrathchild at the Rainbow:

Bassist and main songwriter Steve Harris has a habit of writing songs based on historical events and figures; or literature. If you’re already an Iron Maiden fan, you probably know these songs already. Otherwise, crank the volume and enjoy.

“Invaders” – most likely based on the many invasions of the British isles by Angles, Saxons, Vikings, etc.

This one’s supposed to be about swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi:

Maiden tends to introduce live renditions of “Aces High” with a recording of Winston Churchill:

We shall go on to the end,
We shall fight in France,
We shall fight on the seas and oceans,
We shall fight with great confidence and great strength in the air,
We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds,
We shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.
We shall never surrender!

Here’s Maiden showing the Bangles how to rock like an Egyptian:

They even adapt Coleridge, and the moral of this song is this is what not to do when the bird shits on you:

Alexander the Great gets the Maiden treatment, too:

Sometimes you just have to nail that Fokker.

Or maybe you want to run silent, and run deep.

And sometimes you wonder why you’re there in the first place.

The Cathars died with their boots on at the Château de Montségur.

So did the British and the Germans at Passchendaele during the first Great War.

And so did those who stormed the beaches of Normandy.

Don’t bother thanking God for the bomb. That’s all us.

Of course, you shouldn’t treat this as an exhaustive list of Iron Maiden’s best songs. I wrote this when I should be sleeping, after all. Incidentally, the image is La Mort de César by Jean-Léon Gérôme, if anybody gives a rip.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedInBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

If You Can’t Write in Silence, Write to Music

Michael Taft wrote in 2011 about the pernicious effects of excessive background noise on the human mind. In addition to linking to a British Medical Bulletin article concerning noise pollution, Mr. Taft advocates seeking silence and making it part of one’s meditative practice to aid mindfulness. This is reasonable advice for writers, but not necessarily realistic if you work for a living, have familial responsibilities, and therefore cannot count on having quiet time in which to write.

My alternative is to learn how to write with music playing. My experience is that the right music helps me get into a flow state and focus on writing. The right lyrics can offer inspiring imagery. There’s nothing like technical death metal to silence the inner editor. However, since you’re likely to be writing outside your home and around other people on your lunch break if you have a day job, it is unwise to listen to any sort of music without a good set of headphones.

So, got a good pair of headphones? Excellent. Now you need some music and a way to play it. If you’re one of those pen-and-paper writers and have a smartphone, chances are you’ve got enough storage to put some music on your phone. The iPhone has the iTunes app by default, and Android phones usually have a crappy music player app developed by the device manufacturer, but you’re better off ignoring that in favor of Google Play, which will play music files loaded on your device. I’m sure Windows Phone also has a music player app of some kind, but Microsoft doesn’t pay me to care about their mobile devices.

If you’re using a laptop, there’s no reason to bring your phone when you go and write; I’ve never seen a laptop that didn’t have a headphone jack. Since I run Linux, I favor an app called Quod Libet because it has a mode that lists albums on the left and tracks from the selected album on the right. It looks like this:

Quod Libet on Ubuntu 14.04 (beta), playing Delain

Quod Libet on Ubuntu 14.04 (beta), playing music by Delain

Now that you have headphones and a means to play music, the last step is to select some good writing music. It would be presumptuous of me to give you specific advice on this score, because tastes vary. My taste for female-fronted symphonic metal bands like Delain isn’t universal.

However, I might be able to offer some general suggestions. First, I recommend music with complex melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. Second, don’t just listen to one artist/band or one album. Compile a collection of artists/bands and a wide variety of albums to suit different moods.

For example, I made a recent habit of listening to music by a Japanese power metal band called Galneryus while writing, particularly their first and third albums, respectively titled The Flag of Punishment and Beyond the End of Despair. Syu plays a mean guitar, and I can ignore the lyrics. Sometimes I’ll put on a female-fronted symphonic metal band like Delain or Within Temptation, or some instrumental rock like Joe Satriani or Liquid Tension Experiment. It’s all about complex melody, harmony, and rhythm. It’s all about the flow.

If you can find a quiet place in which to write, and get into a flow state without music, the science to date suggests that’s the ideal. However, I live and write in the real world, and I’d get nothing done if I only wrote under ideal conditions. A good pair of headphones and a few gigabytes of heavy metal is my compromise. What’s yours?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedInBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Savatage: The Wake of Magellan (1998)

I had Savatage‘s penultimate album, The Wake of Magellan, playing all night while working on this blog. It’s a rock opera/concept album that relates the story of a fictitious Spanish sailor who descended from Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and incorporates real-life events such as the Maersk Dubai incident and the murder of Irish reporter Veronica Guerin.

Savatage: The Wake of Magellan

Savatage: The Wake of Magellan

There’s over an hour of great music, including some complex vocal shenanigans in “The Wake of Magellan” and “The Hourglass”. The instrumentals “Underture” and “The Storm” are absolute essentials for any metalhead.

This album is so good it’s a shame Savatage broke up, leaving only the Trans-Siberian Orchestra behind.

Track Listing

1. The Ocean (Instr.)
2. Welcome
3. Turns To Me
4. Morning Sun
5. Another Way
6. Blackjack Guillotine
7. Paragons Of Innocence
8. Complaint In The System
9. Underture (Instr.)
10. The Wake Of Magellan
11. Anymore
12. The Storm (Instr.)
13. The Hourglass
14. Somewhere in Time/Alone You Breathe (*)
15. Sleep (*)
16. Stay (*)

Videos for Savatage’s The Wake of Magellan

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedInBuffer this pageShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone