Monday, June 27, 2011

Napalm Death & more at Asia Metal Festival, 2011

Maybe my second Asia Metal Fest? There's one about every month over here, and it always seems to be organized by the singer/leader dude from Oathean. Who are Oathean? Well, they are pretty much THE SHIT when it comes to the Korean metal scene. Now, they are not the best, or most original, but they are a pretty solid symphonic/black/death metal band. Especially live, when they are at their most black metal. Truth be told (instead of untruth), I don't listen to them, or really any Korean metal band (save Pyha) in my home, but that doesn't mean that the scene sucks here. It's just that most of the music doesn't really fascinate me. Two things that seem to define the scene is: symphonic metal, and metal core (does that term still exist?), and we get a little of the symphonic, and a lot of the metal core during the Asia Metal Fest that went down on a tropical rainy day, June 25, 2011. AND Napalm Death. The Fest headliners.

Napalm Death. An old high school favorite. One of the first bands that I ever listened to, and thought "what the fuck is happening." Back in '89/'90, right before "Harmony Corruption" was released (introducing Barney Greenway as singer), I picked up "From Enslavement to Obliteration" at a Dallas metal record store called Underground Records. At the time, I was aware of the hype surrounding Earache Records. The kind of hype that Southern Lord Records was getting this past decade. (I also want to add that Earache, like Southern Lord, was getting a lot of crossover fans from other genres.) So, one day, with my pennies rattling around in my pocket, I made it to the mysterious Underground Records over in, I think, Plano. I bought the Napalm Death lp, and I believe Bolt Thrower's second album (which I never understood until about 5 years ago when I started listening to them non-stop), and Death's third. Death was already a favorite, but Napalm Death was the band that I made tapes for for the 5 other kids in school that liked metal/hardcore/punk. Obviously, everyone was fascinated. Up to that point, we all thought D.R.I.'s first 2 albums were the fastest things going, only to be blown away by the hypnotic blur of Napalm Death. These days, I can hear more of their crust influences in the guitar riffs, and I think it's safe to say that I understand their influences more, and what it has influenced (a lot).

The poster above has the lineup (which has some mistakes), and I'll go through my thoughts about the various metals that happened. First of all, because of traffic, I got there late, so I missed TerrorMight. The second band was a band from Taiwan with a North American singer dude called Revilement. This band kinda defined what would mostly be heard during the whole fest: Metal Core. Bands that exclusively worship at the alter of Pantera, and Roots era Sepultura (and thrash). Revilement were the worst of the bunch. Generic to the core, the singer at one point said, "This next song is about our two favorite things: sex and VIOLENCE!" I'm not even kidding. This is the reason why people think metal heads are stupid. Terrible.

Next was a Korean band called Ishtar. Symphonic power metal, but with lots of old school metal riffs. I think they may have been the best band of the night (besides Napalm). The (hot) lady singer sang, very, "operatic." Maybe it'll be funny to a lot of folks, but it was fucking good, and the only real change of pace during the whole show. I really don't know much about the genre to really give much reference except Queensryche has to be a big influence on them. The video down below (there's a picture, too) just happened to be their best song. Really great old school metal riffs on that one.

Mahatma, also from Korea, was next. Old school thrash (or "metal core") is what they do best. Not particulary memorable, but powerful, and fun. Here's a video of 'em from that night:

The next two Korean metal bands, Sacrifice and Method, are definitely from that Pantera/mid-90s Sepultura category. I missed Sacrifice because I had seen them before, and I really didn't give a shit. Below is a shot of Method. Method had some ripping guitar solos...I think. Or maybe that was Mahatma. Okay, Asia Metal Fest. Gimme something different.

Oathean. I'm really starting to get the impression that they just go through the motions. However, they were still great because we had just experienced 3 almost identical bands in a row. Here's a shot of them below. I had been having problems with my camera until Napalm Death so that's why the pictures look shitty.

Next, was a super powerful, but another worshipper of that early to mid 90s form of metal called Survive from Japan. I think I got some pictures, but I'm not going to post them. You will never hear about that band again, and I've already forgotten about 'em. Am I being too harsh and cynical? Yes, and you would be too if you had heard 5 bands playing within the same sub-genre.

Last: Napalm Death. They're looking older, but they ran through their entire recording career. Below is some "From Enslavement..." favorites that I filmed, so I wouldn't have to describe much. Great stuff. I'm glad I finally got to see them. Here's also a picture from when I moved closer so I could feel the power better.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gwanggyosan (광교산) Adventures

Gwanggyosan is a small mountain located in the north of Suwon. I can see it from my school on a clear day. And by clear day, I mean no Yellow Dust. But that shit doesn't fly over usually except during the spring. If you don't know Yellow Dust (황사), it is the dirty old sand that comes from the Gobi Desert in China. Oh, it can be so fun. ANYWAY, Gwanggyosan is not a difficult mountain to hike, but it is long, and so you can get a decent workout from it (if that's what your looking for). There is also one set of extraodinairily high stairs for such a small mountain. Now, the mountains over here in merry ol' Korea are usually "custom made" for hikers, because there's not a mountain in existence over here that doesn't have things like ropes or stairs or something to help you on your hike. So, it's kinda great, but it's kinda bad if you like to do things solo cuz, man, mountains get FUCKING CROWDED sometimes. And if you're trying to get ahead of folks, there's a lot of "jamgganmanyo" (잠깐만요, meaning wait a minute, or in this case, excuse me). Anyhoo, here's some pics on this mountain, the first 3 dating from May 15, and the last 3 from June 11.

This is at the beginning of the hike. From this direction it's a lil' climbing at the beginning, and then it's just nice mostly flat ground until the huge ass stairs that go up half a kilometer. Very pretty, and a nice break from the congested cities here.

And below is my city. Wow, the dust was a bit "out" on that day. Or it could have been the pollen in the air. Anyway, you can make out some apartment blocs out of there, I think. Yeah, it's big.

Here we go. This is on one of the peaks (same as above). You can see what I mean about crowded conditions. This is the fact of life here in Asia. You just have to get used to the idea that there are way too many people in this part of the world.

This is one of the spring water wells (maybe the only one) on the mountain. Comes in handy in case you get lost and need a water refill (which I was about to do on this second hike). Water tastes especially refreshing at these wells. Here a lil child is getting a taste of the purities before she conquers the mountain and claims it for her spiritual ancestors.

And here's some stairs that helps on your hike, however these are not the super tall ones. You just get an idea by looking at these. On other mountains (including this one) you may get stone stairs or rock stairs that they just kinda build into the Earth.

Ahh!!! I told you I got lost, right? Well, this was on my lost trek, and lo and behold, a long lost Nazi Concentration Camp! I'M KIDDING! It's a good ol' Buddhist temple right there. Kinda hidden away, and I really couldn't figure out how to get to it, plus I never know what to do when I do get into those places since I'm not a Buddhist. So, I just take pictures, and feel unwanted, and then gradually make my exit.