This Week in Badass is going to take a look at all the killer music that has reached my ears in current week, whether it be music that was just released or items coming out next week.  You might even get some vintage badass to get you through your weekend as well.  Music will be ranked on the badass’ness scale — which of course goes to 11, the only true way to measure if something kicks ass.  So throw your horns up and get ready to headbang along.

So, I think it’s well known by now that if you want to have a rager or you want to puke you turn to Andrew W.K, right?  If you need to be educated then take a listen to the new seven song, Party All Goddamn Night EP (badass’ness 7/11), once again a new release from him only out in Japan but easily found on the web. If you’ve followed him at all since he had his 15 minutes of fame with “Party Hard” in 2001, you’ll know that not only has he dropped off the face of the earth in the U.S. but that he inexplicably is the shit in Japan. So much so that he’s released multiple albums of anime cover tunes and the soundtrack to some show called Gundam. But in the U.S. well, we apparently got nosy and in case you haven’t heard there’s this rumor going round (that you ain’t been gettin’ served) that Andrew W.K. isn’t really a person – that he might be multiple people. He might be an actor, hired to play this elaborate part. He might just be one guy on stage and any number of people actually doing the recording in the studio.  Or he might be a hundred other damn things. All of this is played out because in interviews he often contradicts previous statements, says he’s not allowed legally to talk about things or just acts plain crazy (not to mention that people swear they’ve seen him in multiple places at the same time).  I think he might be tri-polar really – two distinct personalities and then the guy controlling his movements standing right behind him.  I mean, if this is some elaborate acting gig then someone has to be way off script right now as this couldn’t have been the expected path.

To be honest, I really don’t care in the end though I am going to be in the front row for the Andrew W.K. movie when we all find out this is like some Borat shit, because it really is fascinating.  The music though is what interests me and the Party All Goddamn Night EP is in fact the best thing he’s released since his debut.  Musically, songs like the title track, “Everybody’s Raging” and “Head Bang” have that hard partying metal/electronic style that clearly is unique to him and the latter even ends with a fierce death metal breakdown.  But then there’s “I’m A Vagabond,” a moderately paced, gang chorused song with all the bombast of late ’70s Queen and “We’re All Women,” a piano based ballad where he channels his inner Neil Diamond.  It would be silly for me not to mention that the voice on this record doesn’t sound anything like the voice on I Get Wet or The Wolf – which of course is going to add fuel to the multiple Andrew W.K. fire but that aside, a seven song EP is exactly what was needed. After the debut, every album has been thirty minutes too long resulting in more filler than good tunes.  With the Party All Goddamn Night EP you get just the cream of the crop.

Another guy that I’m sure parties all night is Sascha Konietzko of KMFDM.  In keeping with the five-letter album format (I guess five-character in this case) Metropolis records just released studio album #17 from the group, titled WTF?! (badass’ness 9/11).  Even if you’ve never liked industrial music, if you’re a headbanger like me you at least know what KMFDM sounds like.  They are the Motorhead of industrial rock, consistently delivering exactly what you’d expect.  In fact after a slight dead period in the late nineties and early aughts, Sascha and gang have created four consecutive really decent records. WTF?! might just be the best of the group and maybe the best since Nihil in 1995.  Sasha’s writing is top notch on this record with a pretty fantastic blend of hard rockers and poppier tunes, with both coming together beautifully on “Dystopia.”  The gritty “Lynchmob” has to be a career highlight as well. What’s working so well for the group right now is that the never ending rotation of musicians behind Konietzko has stopped to a large extent. The last four records have featured the same core musicians for the most part, including the beautiful voice of Lucia Cifarelli (she happens to be married to Sascha) who brings a lot to the group. There was definitely a while when it seemed like it was time to pack it in but now there’s just no stopping KMFDM.

Last week, I mentioned two reviews that I definitely would include this week at least one of them being one of the most anticipated metal records of the year – Wormrot’s new album, Dirge (badass’ness 9/11). In the past five months I have heard so many people say that they couldn’t wait for this album to come out and they all anticipated it to be the grindcore album of the year and well, it might be.  I don’t plan on listening to too much grindcore to really know, but no group has made me this interested in the genre outside of Agorophobic Nosebleed.  This Singapore trio’s album – Abuse (basass’ness 7/11) – was a good example of what happens when you put some thought into grind and do something other than simply play as fast as humanly possible and make piggy noises. But Dirge is masterful. There are distinct rhythms and even a hook or two while still losing absolutely none of the ferociousness of the genre.  It’s hard for me to say much more than that because I’m not an expert in the genre at all but this is a fantastic listen.

And speaking of fantastic records, the other one I wanted to be sure to work in this week is the new Samael album, Lux Mundi (badass’ness 9/11).  I love Samael and it’s not because they’ve always made great records (they haven’t) but because you never know what you’re going to get from them. They started out in the late ’80s and early ’90s as a black metal band, slowly moved into a more electronic feel, then slowly backed out and into something like you get today – orchestral extreme metal.  From the opening notes of Lux Mundi, you realize that this is the epic record. The riffs are heavy again, the production is stellar, the growls are right on the mark and the orchestral parts in a song like “Antigod”  simply raise the lastest sound to levels that haven’t been heard before from the band. And at no point on the record does the orchestra get in the way and mute the heaviness. The heavy and the beauty blend together better than any disc I’ve heard this year so far.  Lux Mundi is the best of all worlds, accessible, powerful, catchy and totally the top moment in their long career to this point.

And if we’re using the word epic right now, then I need to follow Samael with Xerath. Releasing their new album, II (badass’ness 8/11) next week on Candlelight records, the album title is thankfully the only non-creative moment on the new album. The sound is quite chaotic mixing Meshuggah-lite chugging guitars with pinch harmonics, groove metal and symphonic moments.  Just as you start wrapping your head around the interesting time changes, Xerath switch to groove and then maybe toss in a moment that sounds like a movie score just to keep you on your toes. It’s a mind-fuck as just when you think you’ve got it, it throws you in another direction completely, which I’m totally okay with. I can’t keep this album on in the background and focus on anything else as the chaotic pace and the screaming command your attention. That has to be the mark of a good album of any sort – it forces me to focus solely on it rather than anything else. For that alone, it’s well worth your time.

On Tuesday, three interesting records come out from what’s slowly becoming my favorite heavy label, AFM records. AFM has its finger on the pulse of something – I can’t pinpoint it really, but whatever it is, it’s right in my wheelhouse. They sign bands that tend to be balls-to-the-wall and way over-the-top but with the thing that suckers me in every time – hooks out the fucking ass. And that’s the sole reason I have gotten sucked into loving Back on Track (badass’ness 8/11) from Shakra.  There’s really no reason I should like the disc.  This cock-rock group commits every cardinal sin in the book and fits every cliche perfectly.  They named their first track “B True B You” which screams out “I hope Ke$ha plays with us at the bumfuck county fair next Friday” and they abbreviated Money Makes the World Go ‘Round into “MMTWGR” as if on stage they are going to announce it with just the letters.  And then there’s the lyrical content;  you know, you’re fucking crazy but I still need you (“Crazy”)  because you are just so great to hold (“When I See You”) and I just don’t want to go on without you (“Lonesomeness”) but either way you know I’ll survive (“Stronger than Ever”).

But see, here’s the thing. I’m learning that to enjoy a record in the general cock-rock genre you need one thing and one thing only – huge hooks!  The lyrical content is the same on every one of these records, so if you just choose to accept that move on to the music there’s where the core of the enjoyment comes from.  And by lord, I have been sucked in head first to this fucker. Every song, be it a rocker or a ballad, is filled with ridiculous riffs and slick hooks that make the record completely fucking irresistible. Are any of the riffs different from what you’ve heard before? Well, fuck no. But are they better? Somehow, they just are.  There’s sometimes just no real good explanation why a record works so well but if you don’t fist pump to Back on Track then you must have a foot in the grave.

Then there’s the second AFM release – Broken Heart Syndrome (badass’ness 7/11) by Voodoo Circle.  The group consists of members from bands like Pink Cream 69 and Primal Fear and shows its influence on its sleeve.  Voodoo Circle would be a great opening band for Whitesnake on their current tour as they sound like some blend between them, ’80s Deep Purple and Krokus.  While it’s not quite as over the top as the Shakra record, it’s another one of those records where you don’t know if you should hate it because it sounds like an outtake from 1987 or if you should love it for the exact same reason. Being a huge ’80s fan myself, as long as the sound is done correctly, then I’m all over it.  Oddly enough, the bands that seem to get this vintage sound correct are the newer groups. The ones directly out of the ’80s are usually pretty cheesy.  Maybe it’s because you know they haven’t bothered to progress over the years, while a group like Voodoo Circle is actually trying to make music that sounds like their influences.  In this week’s AFM stable it gets second billing for me only because it’s not quite as energetic as the Shakra record, but it’s still very solid from start to finish.

And the third AFM record for next week is called Book of Dowth (badass’ness 7/11) by the German Celtic metal group Suidakra.  These guys have been around since 1994 and have been cranking out albums at a decent pace since this is their 10th disc.  I’m not familiar with most of their music to really compare past to present but musically and vocally this reminds me of something somewhere between late period Carcass and 3 Inches of Blood, you know…with accordians and flutes and shit. They toe the line between melodic death and power metal riffs with obvious fantasy and folk themes throughout the disc. Climb to the top of a mountain, plant your flag, throw your fist in your air and claim your position as the God of your land as Book of Dowth plays in the background.

Next week, new stuff from Hate Eternal and the Gates of Slumber to rock your ass off.

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