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items tagged with RIBCO

Modern Metal with a Sabbath Touch: Helmsplitter, January 13 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-01-11 15:44:14

Metal often skates by on aggression and technical chops, and it rarely creates drama. The Quad Cities quartet Helmsplitter, on its debut Storms of Genocide – for which the band will perform a CD-release show Friday at RIBCO – nails the requisite fury and dark majesty while also capturing that elusive elevating quality.

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Many-Trick Ponies: Satellite Heart, January 7 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-01-03 16:12:20

Satellite Heart. Photo by Shannon Colgan.

If you attend a Satellite Heart show – such as January 7’s at RIBCO – two of the songs you might hear are “Rock N’ Troll” (“Fighting dragons / Killing marauders / Doing things that we thought that we’d never do”) and “Pizza Party” (“Even Saddam Hussein like[s] pizza”). Both are irresistibly dumb; the first could be a Spinal Tap cover, and the second could have come from Flight of the Conchords.

Yet before you think that the Quad Cities-based quartet is a joke band, or a one- or two-trick pony, make sure to check out Satellite Heart’s full-length studio debut, Become the New, when it’s released in late January. It does include the aforementioned live-show staples, but it’s also a roughly vibrant rock record filled with hooks and charm aplenty.

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Inexhaustible Possibilities: Helmet, October 8 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-09-29 13:20:45

Helmet. Photo by Shiloh Strong.

In the course of a phone interview last week, Page Hamilton – lead guitarist, singer, and composer for Helmet, performing on October 8 at RIBCO – dropped the names of Beethoven, John Williams, Philip Glass, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane.

That collection gives a good sense of the breadth of Hamilton’s musical study and knowledge, and some indication of why his band rewards close listening. It also hints at why Hamilton’s rigorous heavy music has found only modest commercial success, with one gold album (1992’s Meantime) and only top-50 peak chart positions in the United States.

What’s important to understand is that while there’s an essential academic/philosophical component to Helmet’s music, the band has also been distinguished by an uncompromising pummeling force, what the All Music Guide described as a “very precise and diabolical din – full of martial barks, jackhammering drums, rumbling bass, and some of the most brilliant IQ-lowering guitar riffs since Black Sabbath’s first four albums.” Hamilton rejects the assertion that Helmet is simply a metal band, but it operates almost exclusively in an aggressively gritty guitar/bass/drum framework. Within that structure and self-imposed limitations, Hamilton explores musical theory.

“The Helmet vocabulary is the drop-tuning, the chord voicing, and the figure writing, or riff writing,” he said. (There are also players employing different time signatures, a technique borrowed from composer Glenn Branca that Hamilton said creates “this sort of forward propulsion.”) “It’s thematic writing. It’s the same approach a jazz improviser would use, or a classical composer.” He then mimicked the openings of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and John Williams’ title-crawl theme for Star Wars, and discussed how they quickly establish themes that are then developed. “That’s my approach to writing. I’m not stringing a bunch of shit together – the drummer came up with this, and I came up with that. That can work, but I think eventually you run out of ideas. We’re all using the same 12 notes in Western music.”

If that makes your eyes glaze, it must also be noted that Hamilton’s solos – which he said he approaches like a “spaz jazz idiot” – are razor-wire sharp and exhilarating, regardless of a listener’s music-theory understanding.

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No Pretense to Pretty: Meth & Goats, “Leisure Time”; at RIBCO on September 16
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-09-13 13:15:34

Meth & Goats. Photo by Dan Wilcox.

Without casting aspersions, it must be said that Meth & Goats’ new album Leisure Time starts at full throttle and never lets up, with few variations in volume, pace, or approach. The Moline-based quartet has crafted a pummeling record that over 32 minutes offers scant relief. The album’s first stylistic breather is the space noise of seventh track “Gem Vision,” which is even more assaultive than the other nine songs.

In that context, though, the album is quite an achievement – razor-sharp, discordant hard rock finding a midpoint between the breathless anger of Rage Against the Machine and the sonically ravenous exploration of Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s the Mars Volta and At the Drive-in, without the ego-driven ambition of any of those bands.

If Leisure Time also lacks those groups’ moments of transcendent grace, that seems like a choice: Angular and throwing sharp elbows all over the place, Meth & Goats – which will perform a record-release show at RIBCO on Friday – makes no pretense to pretty. The album is loaded with hooks and urgency and dares you to keep up.

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“We’re Always Going to Try to Alienate You”: Gene Ween, September 8 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-08-31 11:28:12

Gene Ween

At this point in Ween’s career, the only thing that should surprise the band’s fans is the core duo of Gene and Dean Ween (born Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo, respectively) doing something normal.

Based on a conversation last week with Freeman – who will perform a duo show with Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz at RIBCO on September 8 – there’s no danger of that.

“Where I want to go next is the Disney-soundtrack-era Phil Collins,” he said, adding that he was as “serious as a heart attack. ... From the onset of Ween, I always planned on devolving into that. Instead of trying to be cool. ... Partly I like that music ... . I find something very punk-rock about it, and I can’t explain what that is.”

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