Why I choose Heavy Metal (why should you?)

I tried...technically! I can't say that I haven't. I tried to listen to popular music, when at the age of 9 or 10 (I don't really remember....

Ozzy: Rock Legend or Just a (Old) Man?

I have just watched the documentary "God Bless Ozzy Osbourne" which was apparently directed by his son Jack Osbourne. It has been characterised from monumental to insightful and generally received...

Brian Johnson Vs Bon Scott: A Scientific approach to an ongoing AC/DC debate

We have all been there. And by "there" I mean have been part of the oldest debate in AC/DC history and probably one of the biggest in Rock history in general. Who is better, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson?...

Religion Vs Rock N' Roll

I know, the title couldn't be more kitschy and lame. But here is what the world has come to! I have been avoiding to get into this debate (i.e. the religion, not the Rock N' Roll one) for obvious reasons...

Mind under training (Introduction)

I realised that while I have been writing my extremely influential (!) articles, I still haven’t introduced myself properly...

23 January 2016

Lemmy: The Human

I am sure most if not all of you know that Lemmy has passed on and made his way into the eternal rock n' roll kingdom, wherever that is. It's a weird experience for me, that my rock idols are fading one by one. First it was Dio now Lemmy. It's weird because I don't know them. I know they are human, we all have to die some day but I have not met them. I don't know their true selves only what they portrayed in the media. Yet I feel a strange sadness, emptiness. Maybe it's their influence, their genius in what they do, how their music/lyrics influenced me as a person? I don't know them but I know that the world is worse without them.

Someone would say that it's naive to think that musicians can make a difference in the world when considering other great game-changers such as Martin Luther King or Gandhi. But to that I would say that it's naive to think that music cannot change the world in an equal way. See Dylan, Lennon etc. Lemmy had much to say about many things. Regrettably, no one has ever compiled his views into a book. There are hints of it in his autobiography but a Lemmy guidebook for life would be more appropriate.

I don't wish to make this into a Lemmy tribute so instead of writing another meaningless tribute to him I will simply direct you to an earlier more eloquent piece that I had read in The Atlantic titled "Twilight of the Headbangers. How long can the legends of heavy metal keep on rocking?"

I recently wondered what music would be like if the last few remaining legends were to die? Seeing what music is like at present I am dreading the thought of what music will be like in 10-20 years time. Here is an excerpt from the article in The Atlantic that pretty much summarizes what I am saying:

"But when it’s done—and it’s almost done—there will be no more Anguses, no more Lemmys. The bloody-minded, death-demolishing longevity of AC/DC and Motörhead cannot be counterfeited or repeated".

And this is a sad fact.

Most people live and die and are missed only by a handful of people. To have lived, influenced and been missed by thousands of people must be a great privilege. Thankfully Lemmy has left us with a large volume of great music to remember him for. Cheers Lemmy!

09 August 2015

Song Masterpieces

There are rock and metal songs that are catchy. Their simple and repetitive chords and relatively simplistic lyrics make them memorable and rather enjoyable. Everybody knows them, everybody likes them (smoke on the water is an example).  There are songs that make you happy, sad, those you can headbang to, those you can dance to.

Yet there are those rare sings, the masterpieces as I like to call them, that draw out all of your emotions - it's like the combination of music and lyrics personifies into a god-like hand that reaches into your psyche and grabs what's in there and pulls it out and lays it there in front you. "This is your soul, this is you" it says.

You know you've heard that song when you first of all have that familiar body reaction, the goosebumps. But it is more than that. It is a song that you feel in your core, in your spine, in your brain, your every heartbeat. It embraces your being. You may cry, you may smile, you may hold your breath. When it ends you feel exhausted, euphoric, fulfilled, awed. You want to kneel and worship the genius(es) that created it.

It is primal. I'm not going to explain that, I'm sure you can do your own research (e.g. Biological Templates for Musical Experience: From Fear to Pleasure).

I have my own musical/lyrical masterpieces that I want to share here. You may find that some are universal but each one of us have their own personal masterpieces. I'm sure there are more that I left out so I will be updating.

Stargazer by Rainbow: This is the only one I will describe because it is my ultimate song, the one that "touches" me the most. I can listen to it all day every day for a week and still react to it as if I heard it for the first time. This song is me, now you know me. The combination of Dio's voice, Blackmore's guitar, Powell's dumming, and the Munich philharmonic orchestra..... THE MASTERPIECE. Dio and Blackmore I thank you.

Song of Yesterday by Black Country Communion: Highlights include Bonham's drumming and Bonamassa's guitar solo and his overall delivery.

The Times They are A-Changing by Bob Dylan: Highlight is the whole song.

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica: Highlights include Burton's bass.

When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin: Highlights include Bonzo's drumming of course.

Diamond and Rust by Judas Priest: Highlights include Halford's vocals.

Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath: Highlights include the re-birth of the famous diabolus in musica interval.

Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones: Highlights include Merry Clayton's vocals.

Hurt by Johnny Cash: Highlights include the fact that Cash owned it. 


22 April 2015

Music Documentaries Worth Watching

I'm back! Well, sort of. Some of you may know I've been kept rather occupied by my PhD-nightmare, which is now finally submitted. I'm now waiting to hear about my defense date (i.e. the dreadful day I will be attempting to justify to two experts that what I did is the next big thing in science!). Wish me luck, I will need it!

Anyways, back to the point! Recently I had some time to catch up with Netflix etc (a lot) and watched a few music documentaries. I thought a post about some of my recent favourite/recommended watches would be helpful for those of you not familiar with them already. No intros needed but just a note that I'm not only looking at heavy metal documentaries.

Artifact (Dir. Jared Leto, 2012)
This documentary follows the American rock band of genius, in my opinion, Jared Leto Thirty Seconds to Mars as they fight the dark force (i.e. their music production company) that sued the band for $30 million. Yes, that happens apparently. It also offers a glimpse on how the band came to produce their album, aptly titled, This is War. Featuring appearances from Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), and Brandon Boyd (Incubus) among others the film is eye opening to music fans some of whom may think that their valued money go to the band instead of big multi-billion companies.
Takeaway: Save your money, spend it on gigs instead.

20 Feet from Stardom (Dir. Morgan Neville, 2013)
An American documentary that gives voice to back-up singers who are left in the shadows and beyond the spotlight. It highlights how our favourite tracks are "pimped up" by the harmonies of talented women and men. Notable appearances include Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones), Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder, and some of the most amazing back-up singers including Darlene Love (The Blossoms) and Merry Clayton (The Rolling Stones, the chilling voice behind gimme shelter).
Takeaway: Once again we are being reminded that sadly a perfect voice isn't the key to fame nor "success". 

Beware of Mr. Baker (Dir. Jay Bulger, 2012)
This is a documentary about legendary drummer Ginger Baker (Cream). It looks back on the career of one of the most important drummers of all time but also his many quirks and loss of fortune and his current reclusive life in South Africa. Featuring interviews from Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lars Ulrich (Metallica), and many more, this documentary is an ode to the trivial, enigmatic Mr. Baker. Must-see not only for keen drummers but every single musicphile out there.
Takeaway: Beware Mr. Baker's punch!

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (Dir. Ramona S. Diaz, 2012)
After searching all over for a new lead singer, Journey members take to YouTube to find their next front man. Their prayers were answered with Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singing in cover bands; the band felt that he could fill Steve Perry's shoes. The documentary is a very brief introduction to the new Journey lead singer and his background. A little bit boring at times but you will be captivated by Arnel's personality.
Takeway: Remember the film Rock Star?

Sound City (Dir. Dave Grohl, 2013)
A documentary about the history of recording studio Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. Dave bought several items from the studio when it closed in 2011 and was inspired to make a movie about it. Some very famous albums were recorded at Sound City Studios by Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Neil Young, Slipknot etc. Some notable appearances include Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath), Paul McCartney (The Beatles), Neil Young, and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana) but many more share their experiences.
Take-away: There will always be eras greater than the present.

Roswell Films
Mission to Lars (Dir. James Moore & William Spicer, 2013)
This is a chronicle of William and Kate Spicer's mission to make their brother's dream of meeting Lars Ulrich (Metallica) come true. Tom is suffering from Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes developmental issues. Although I was a bit skeptical about William and Kate's intentions (you can feel they are also doing it for the spotlight), this documentary is informative and heart-warming as the siblings try to reconnect through the mission. Featuring Metallica but most importantly Lars himself, who appears to be more of a nice guy that many of us give him credit for.
Takeaway: Music does bring people together.

These documentaries are some of the most recent ones I watched and enjoyed. You can watch most of these on Netflix (it's worth the small subscription fee trust me), YouTube etc. I will be updating the list in the future with new releases and old favourites. But if you have any recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them.

24 January 2014

Gig Catch-up...The "Dark" Side (Part 1 of 2)

I haven't posted any gig reviews for a while now and you may think that I'm over them....NOT! The past few months leading up to the new year were my "re-discover the 'dark' side of metal" months.

First, I went to the much talked about gig: Paradise Lost, Lacuna Coil & Katatonia all in one. Kind of like the BLT sandwich. 3 in 1. I'm a fool for a bargain...quality bargain that is. Representing Scandinavia, Katatonia opened the night. A quite long night for that matter. With their L'Oreal-caliber manes (they're worth it) they banged and banged and banged their heads to the sounds of "Viva Emptiness" like that was the last time they would be allowed to do so. I liked them very much though I would not prescribe them to people with a soft spot for knives, guns, and other death-inducing instruments. 7/10

On to the Mediterranean side and Lacuna Coil. I haven't seen them in 5 years so it was a nice catch-up. Scabbia et al. were a nice sandwich filling between Katatonia and Paradise Lost. They were exciting, lively, passionate and borderline pop (yes). A guilty pleasure I'm not ashamed of! 8/10

And on to the big guns, the UK front. The innovators of their time. Paradise Lost. I had VERY high expectations from this legendary band. They were half-met. Musically they were fine. It's the presentation I was a bit disappointed in. A bit catatonic (!?) I would say. I know, I know...it's all doom and gloom and stuff but where's the passion? 25 years isn't that long now is it? I know couples that celebrate their 25-year anniversary that are more excited than this! It might have been the previous Scabbia-induced commotion but I felt a bit bored at times. 6/10

Videos can be seen here.

24 November 2013

What Does It Take to Be a Doctor?

I’m sure most of you have heard that the living legend, riff virtuoso Tony Iommi has received his long overdue official recognition. He finally got an honorary doctorate of arts from Coventry University. And I’m also sure some of them, namely the pretentious, self-righteous, and know-it-all Drs of all sorts snorted in derision when they read about it and other similar stories before that. Well, as a Dr in the making myself I say to them: Suck it up!
I've been wanting to express my views on my road to Doctorship and now the time has come! I said it before and I’ll say it whenever I get the chance: becoming a doctor doesn't mean anything. Well, it means something but it does not mean you are smarter, more educated, or even evolutionary more advanced than everybody else. It does not make you a Mensa member (in fact, what does that even mean?), you are not superior (well a little but more on this later), and by no means you are more intelligent than the average person.

So this is what becoming a doctor actually means:
  1. You spend a considerable amount of years studying a particular area.
  2. You then spend an even more considerable amount of years trying to contribute to that area.
  3.  You acquire skills and proficiency in that specific area over the years and ‘till your death.
  4.  You eat shit in the process. You meet great and not so great (borderline sociopathic) people. You make connections. You learn how to regulate your emotions and how not to be humane. You lose faith in yourself. You become arrogant and then humble again. You doubt, despise, and hate yourself. You uncover the mystery behind humans and politics. You regret. You lose yourself and you find you again. You anathematize your existence and the choice to go through this road almost every day yet...
  5. ...you love every single thing about it.
  6. You then think you are an expert in your field.
  7. You are actually recognised as an expert in your field.
  8. You get the decorative prefix Dr in front of your name and the frame that goes with it.

The above process (or torment) is usually performed in the safe and well-regulated (most of the times) nest of a University in 3 to 10+ years. As I said, it won’t make you more intelligent than average nor does it mean you were so in the first place. It simply grounds you, it can kill your idealism, and it can challenge your values and ideas. Anyone can get into it but few will get out of it as winners. Winning is going through it all and not losing yourself in the process. I’m still struggling.

Now back to Mr. Iommi (or should I say Dr?). I urge you (and more so the pretentious Drs out there) to take another look at points 1 to 7 above. Tony Iommi has been through all of these. Not just once but hundreds of times for nearly 50 years now. Only now, he gets his no. 8. I will get it after 3 years, just because I pay the University my fees and do it in a controlled way. I don’t know about you but I feel humbled by the thought of it. For the only equivalent to Iommi is a wrinkly 60-year-old Professor of behavioural science in my field. His education did not come from a university; it came from a greater source: LIFE. So I salute you Dr Iommi. It was about time. And all of you out there condescending bores, suck it up, will you?

P.S. Some more awesome honorary Doctors (not necessarily of music): Bruce Dickinson, Steve Vai, Alice Cooper, Joan Baez, Jon Lord, Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, THE Bob Dylan, Jon Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler, Brian May and more.
Image credits:
Classic Rock Magazine

02 November 2013

Heavy Metal Profiling Survey

You have every right to call me lazy or any other decorative adjective. I haven't posted anything in months. Not that your life is significantly changed or even affected by what I post here but I know quite a few who enjoy what shit I have to say and follow every post. Thank you 2 1/2 fans!

As you know I'm a doctorate student meaning I have no life other than writing my PhD while listening to Heavy Metal. The latter gets me through the bad times when I think this will never end. My bad times currently add up to a magnificent 7 full days per week. Not that you care.

So, apologies for not posting some life-changing writing; I'll try and be better etc etc you know the usual bullshit every blogger serves to their readers. Fact is I want you guys to come back and read my stuff otherwise what's the point? Vanity you bitch!

The researcher in me came up with an idea. Why don't I do a mini survey for my readers? So here's the plan. I constructed a mini questionnaire to see where your music preferences lie. I ask you some personal questions like age, gender, etc as well. It's directed at rock and metal fans out there so sorry "POPers"! As soon as I reach a big enough number I'll do my magic in statistics and bring you a complete profiling of yourselves. Just so you don't get all wary and that I'm out to get you....it's completely confidential so no names or nicknames are required; completely anonymous.

This should be a fun thing. So go ahead and complete the survey and be amazed by the results! Another post will follow later on with a summary. You will find it under the Metal Survey bar on the menu at the top of the blog. Otherwise just click HERE and it'll take you straight to it. Complete it and make sure you share it with metallers and rockers alike! We want to get as many of you possible.

In the meantime rock on!

19 August 2013

The Rolling Stones Un-reviewed

This is a belated report on the recent Rolling Stones gig I attended. Recent being July! I know, I've been really bad in keeping up with the demands of the blog; I do apologise to those very few people that check it very rarely!

Now, as per the legend it is the Stones, a review in the traditional sense is not appropriate now, is it? Still, we, common humans are entitled to an opinion (I hope).

Just to give a bit of a background, I may or may not have posted a really indignant piece on the price tags for the Stones mini-tour last year. Truth is I was broke, didn't have £300 to spare even for the Stones, and quite bitter I could not attend. Being hypocritical as we all are, I did spend money to watch them after all; this time though it was £100ish. Quite reasonable for such a legendary band, right?

This was a festival sponsored by Barclays bank (enter irony [here]) and for those unfamiliar it entails a number of useless opening bands before the good stuff come on stage. In this case the useless bit was infused with brit-pop, alt-"rock" (or whatever they are) bands.

These are bands that:

a) Somehow think that by putting a "The" in front of their name makes them reach the standards of legends like the The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Animals, The Who etc etc. It doesn't.

b) Probably invented the whole worthless hipster sub-culture. I am sorry BUT wearing glasses when you can see perfectly is... well.... kindly put.... messed up!

c) Sound the same. Seriously, copy.... paste.

d) Are more mundane than Steven Seagal's acting. Kidding! Who doesn't like the odd Seagal marathon with 50-year old dad.

Back to the Stones. This was their first gig in Hyde Park after 44 years. I spent about £20ish of my ticket (the part that I guess goes to the above-mentioned bands) going to the toilet, queuing for beer, eating, relaxing, posing for photographs (!) and trying not to listen to background noise! I do have to admit Mr. Gary Clark Jnr., probably the only one worth seeing, was there and also played on stage with the Stones. For the blues fans out there, search for him, he is kind of amazing.

This is what I've been doing while "The" bands played; Unflattering, annoyed, beer-filled poses!
The Rolling Stones...What a show! Not surprisingly, they were (ridiculously) incredible. Charlie played the drums like the veteran that he is and Ronnie was being The Ronnie from all the legendary "The" bands he was part of in the past. Mick sang and danced and played his harmonica like he had the lungs of a 17 year old. Seriously, that energy, those moves! I thought he may dislocate a hip before the end of the gig but how wrong I was; that guy is F-I-T physically and vocally. And Keith, aka Keef, played his skillful blues, wore a green jacket, and kept being as cool as always. He is officially the best ancient "thing" I've seen live in my life. And I've seen lots of ancients like Ozzy, Lemmy, Tyler, Dio* and the lot.

All in all, I feel honoured and very very lucky that I got to see them. I felt like this was my last chance and I managed to do it! Now, considerably poorer from all the summer festivals, I get to take a break from gigs for a while. Ok, perhaps not that long; maybe 'till November when Lemmy comes back.

[*Disclaimer: Dio was and will forever be my top gig-attendance accomplishment. Period.] 

17 June 2013

Review of Download Festival 2013

A review of the happenings at Download Festival 2013, Saturday 15th, Donington Park, UK

This year I almost didn't go. Yeah, I know! What was I thinking, right? Well, the line-up was average, money was tight, and our group was minimizing. Damn you economic depression! But then I thought: Iron Maiden. And I went. We stayed in the Main Stage for the whole day because of the mud, rain, wind, and errr the poor line-up I mentioned above. Sadly, we missed UFO and got in just in time for the the rest.


The latest incarnation of Thin Lizzy. I had no idea they changed their name and re-introduced themselves as such! I saw Thin Lizzy back in 2011 at High Voltage festival and enjoyed them very much. This time, refreshed I guess by the recent name change was no different. It took me a while to realise I was listening to and watching Thin Lizzy to be honest. They were quite good although lacking the energy I saw in 2011. Old age you say? Bollocks I say! I'd give them a 7/10 purely because of the short time slot which didn't allow them to play a longer setlist. It seems the boys never left town after all!


Trying to decide between them and Katatonia, we decided to go for them. I wanted to see Mastodon for a while so it was the perfect chance. I don't claim to be a huge fan as I don't follow them too much but their latest album was really good. By the end of their set I was neither impressed nor disappointed which says a lot. I was left feeling indifferent and only slightly more interested in them. They were good but lacked enthusiasm. Despite that, I would see them again just in case! I give them a 6/10 with the hope that next time they'll surprise me more. By the way, they are a weird-looking bunch of guys aren't they?


Yeah what a surprise. Me, watching a grunge band. I liked Alice in Chains and although I don't enjoy grunge I always wanted to see them. The people there seemed to enjoy them so that says more than I can say. After listening about bones, rivers, brains and some roosters I catch my self yawning repeatedly. Sorry guys as much as you hate to admit it you are a grunge band and definitely not metal. There is so much grunge you can listen before you end up either brain-dead or killing your self because there is no hope left. I give Alice in Chains a 7/10 because they had good energy (only as much energy a grunge band can have!) and made people go nuts.


 By this time you'd think "why did she even bother going then?". Here's your answer. Lemmy!!! Oh, and the waiting around impatiently was so worth it. Motorhead managed to do what none of the previous bands did; wake us up with a sound punch in the face. This year's Download suffered a lot from sound problems as the strong winds and rain did not make it easy for our ears. Lemmy fixed it. He turned up the volume to 11 and played his heart out. You'd probably say I'm very subjective as I'm known to be in love with Mr. Kilmister but I dare anybody to give me an example of a gig feat. Motorhead that they did not like. Lemmy talked to us but we did not understand. Then Lemmy played his bass and sang his songs and we didn't care about anything anymore. The special appearance of Phil Taylor was a pleasant surprise. The setlist was less than enough and I felt desperate thinking of what was to follow.  After all, they are Motorhead and they play rock n' roll and they always get a 10/10.

Rhetorical questions from our group expressed that night: Isn't Lemmy ready to settle yet? If diabetes didn't make Lemmy stop drinking what would? Is Motorhead's tour bus full of Jack Daniels, cokes, and Big Bang Theory box sets? Was there any single person who managed to get Lemmy drunk? How come Lemmy is still so humble?  Are Motorhead deaf yet? 


What a load of bullshit! What the hell is wrong with the Download organisers? Is it JUST me that believes bands like them don't belong in Download main stage line-ups? Especially before Iron Maiden and after (!) Motorhead! Honestly, I really don't get it. I spent that time sat down resting my legs, preparing mentally for Iron Maiden, re-filling my pint, and voiding my bladder! And they were still playing after all these. Sorry Queens of the Stone Age fans out there, this band sucks, big time. I won't bother rating the experience as I blocked the noise out. Photo is included for the sake of the review.


The legends! As their status requires, they were introduced by a spitfire which we thought was piloted by Bruce himself. Then they enter the stage and history is written. Whatever I say about them is not going to be enough really. I screamed and screamed 'till no voice was left. I danced around, banged my head, and smiled 'till my jaw went numb! The energy, the pyro, the show, the setlist, the Eddie re-incarnations, their brilliance! The show was not enough. I wanted more. Do I need to mention I give them a 10/10? Steve Harris is genius. Who writes songs like these? And Bruce... What Bruce's voice may be lacking nowadays (always in relation to when he was younger) he makes up for in energy, stage presence, enthusiasm, and all-round excellence! Sometimes I do wonder if Bruce managed to find that fountain of youth that Captain Sparrow was looking for. He is too good to be true, is he not?


  1. I prefer my metal pure.
  2. Download gets less and less creative in it's line-ups.
  3. Mastodon is a really good band but they seriously need to re-think those hairstyles.
  4. Grunge is definitely not my cup of tea. Definitely.
  5. Lemmy must be god. He subtly proves it every time he picks his bass and steps on the stage.
  6. I want to know what it is that people like about Queens of the Stone Age as I personally don't get it.
  7. There should be a National Iron Maiden day declared in the UK. Just because you people are so lucky they are British.
  8. I could imagine myself putting a food stall and selling souvlaki next to the main stage at some point in the future!
  9. Once a year is not enough; make Donwload a twice-a-year happening.

Limited videos arriving soon on my YouTube channel here.

21 April 2013

Science Feature: The Philosophical Basis of Headbanging and Moshing

How often do you see a research paper starting off with the lyrics of a heavy metal song? Never, I can tell you that! It's not the case with this paper I discovered recently though; the authors actually showcase the lyrics of St. Anger by Metallica! Ok, I'll admit, not the best asset of heavy metal music yet a powerful song in terms of lyrics that serves the authors' purpose in the paper.

The main subject is heavy metal music and catharsis. "Catharsis" is just a posh (and Greek) word for venting. "Venting" is just scientific jargon for expressing. "Expressing".... oh well, you know what expression is! The key to catharsis though is it's translation from Greek. The word itself means moral/emotional cleansing (in Aristotle's terms). So, instead of just expression we also get a cleansing to go with it!

Well, the authors get in too much detail of what catharsis is but their main focus is catharsis in collective rituals. Or in the case of heavy metal, a gig.

They didn't just interview fans, artists, and producers. They went a step further by attending metal gigs (i.e. the collective rituals!), collecting photos from the heavy metal scene, listening to a number of records from different metal genres (poor them!), reading metal magazines, going online to metal fansites, and downloading (legally? I may ask!) lyrics from the internet. So you see how they got my respect in the first place.

They start of with what they call the disempowered self. Meaning that their participating metal fans came from unhappy childhoods with feelings of loneliness and rejection from their peers due to their musical tastes. They move on to the collective un/conscious (e.g. stories, myths and symbols). The participants all seemed to have something in common: fondness of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the idea that even the smallest person can change the world as well as an openness for accepting different sorts of people.

Then the authors move on to describe the ritual performance within heavy metal. This includes satanic symbols on clothing which indicate the desire for power. They also cite the lyrical themes representing social frustration through examples of mythical legends etc. Then on to emotional/cognitive balance, where the emotional experience of the gig is focused on anger and distancing. Here participants describe the nature of the mosh pit, stage-diving, and all the associated acts during a gig.

Finally, the authors describe rejuvenation where participants reported feelings of emotional relief and re-energizing, enlightenment, and moral rightness.

My view
As you can see the author's built up a theory of catharsis within the heavy metal culture and specifically the live gig environment. Despite the use of fancy and scientific words here, one thing someone can take from this is that heavy metal fans "use" this gig environment as a punchball to release their day-to day frustrations and reach this said catharsis. From a psychological perspective I would add that heavy metal music and specifically a heavy metal gig may serve as a coping mechanism. It is really the one place you won't be judged, where you are a team (even when you get the odd punch in the face at the pit!), within a secure and friendly environment of sameness and differentiation at the same time. Now, I respect the authors try to dress this simple truth in a more philosophical attire but still I prefer my simple metal t-shirt! 

P.S. The authors put a footnote to describe James Hetfield: "James Hetfield is the lead singer of the world’s most financially successful heavy metal music group, Metallica". Heh.
Headbanging as Resistance or Refuge: A Cathartic Account by Paul Henry & Marylouise Caldwell (2007). Abstract available here.
Image credits:
Patrick Lux/Getty Images Europe

04 March 2013

Science Feature: The Effects and Influences of Music on Life

This is a new series of articles bringing you all the science bits you need to know about our favourite music genre: heavy metal [or rock n' roll if you prefer]. I promise I'll strip out all the boring and sometimes nonsensical parts and present you with the fun "takeaway" messages each research study offers. I'll first present a general overview and then my own opinion on the matter. I hope you enjoy it and participate by sharing your views on the subject too.

The first interesting research I came across is on how music influences life [Figone 2012]. It is a general article discussing how different music genres may affect not just humans but plants as well!

"What would my life be without music?"

Asks the author. [Feel free to express what music means to you in the comments section]

Classical music may be emotional with an ability to "strike the soul", whereas jazz "makes the groove". On the other hand though, heavy metal and rock is "well portrayed" since "the creator puts all their built up emotions in a bottle, and release the cap". The author argues that people may be captivated when listening to such music, mesmerized by the strong emotions and the connections they make with specific words or phrases.

This type of music develops into many different forms and may cause the release of a variety of emotions; from love and happiness to anger, fear, and depression. The author also notes a shift in the nature of rock songs from 40 years ago to today citing the transition from classics such as the "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen and "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey to more explicit lyrics and aggressive musical compositions.

In general, major chords tend to make you feel good whereas minor chords tend to make you feel bad. Point is, music may have both good and adverse effects on human behaviour. It may promote learning, socially acceptable behaviour or even form a child's personality. On the other hand, music may promote bad feelings and antisocial behaviour going as far as conflict and war.

It is remarkable how heavy metal music affects plants. In a study, researchers found that plants increased their height by 30.7% when they "listened" to heavy metal and by 19.1% when they "listened" to classical music compared to "deaf" plants. The same plants also increased their leaf area by 27.3% (heavy metal) and 31% (classical) [Mynn & Shiqin, 2009]!

Author's spot on takeaway message:
"Music is magnificent, highly diverse form of art, and has the power to build or destroy".

My View
It is a fact that music may give rise to different emotions and promote a variety of behaviours. It is also a fact that heavy metal is very explicit with war, drugs, sex, religion, and fantasy elements. When a person listening to such music is equipped with decent thinking skills and is rational enough (I avoid using the word smart as it is misleading) they can easily enjoy the music and distinguish between reality and fantasy as well as between right and wrong. Also, when music facilitates the release of negative emotions in safe and controlled environments such as a concert venue or your own home, it can be extremely cathartic. I could go on for a while but all I say is that I refuse to believe that RATM's "Killing in the Name" is promoting more bad feelings or is more explicit than the stupendous "Rude Boy" by Rihanna (sample lyrics cited below).

Killing in the Name (RATM)
"Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses...
Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites
You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites...
Killing in the name of!
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control...
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me"


Rude Boy (Rihanna)
"Come here, rude boy boy
Can you get it up?
Come here, rude boy boy
Is you big enough?
Take it, take it
Baby, baby
Tonight I'm a let you be the captain
Tonight I'm a let you do your thing, yeah
Tonight I'm a let you be a rider
Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up babe"

Now, both songs use repeated verses throughout. Both are simple songs in terms of lyrics. Both use explicit language. The difference is that RATM speak about opposing institutional racism and police brutality. Rihanna on the other hand speaks about the ability of a certain rude (?) guy to get his huge penis up and then do what any gentleman would do to a lady, i.e. "make love" to her. 

Pop quiz: Which of the above songs is a total bullshit and manages to make you feel bored, hopeless, and stupider at the same time? Hmmm, let me guess!
Main article: Nature's Harmony. The Effects and Influences of Music on Life by Andy Figone (2012) Available for free download here.
Plant growth article: Investigating the Effects of Sound Energy on Plant Growth by Tan Mynn & Huang Shiqin (2009) Available for free download here.

16 February 2013

Rock N' Roll Goes To Hollywood

Unavoidably and to our amusement, arts get mingled at times. Hence, actors may sometimes come to be underutilized musical talents (e.g. Johnny Depp playing with Manson) or even ridiculously lost causes (e.g. Keanu Reeves with Dogstar [?]). On the other hand, many of our beloved musicians have appeared in cameo roles through the years. While very few left history (i.e. Spinal Tap), others where forgotten or even overlooked altogether. Here is an overview of some of the cameo appearances I found quite amusing (the list is not extensive). Some are well-known, others are not, and a few of these left me with that "what the hell" expression for days...

The Darwin Awards feat. Metallica
Two guys who are desperate to get into a Metallica gig do the classic "over the fence" move - just not so successfully! Headbanging while smoking a joint while hanging from a tree is not advisable. Priceless: Lars advising on drugs and Hetfield attempting to joke!

Despite this film, Lars also appeared in the mediocre "Get him to the Greek" with an equally mediocre very brief performance!

Monsterdog feat. Alice Cooper
We know Alice is an avid horror film fan, hence his graphic live shows. Known and unknown roles in movies include "The prince of darkness", "The attic expeditions" and "Freddy's Dead: The final nightmare", in the latter as Freddy's dad. The most famous though, it's his educational speech about Milwaukee in "Wayne's world". But my favourite must be "Monsterdog" where Alice plays a pop star cum lycanthrope or werewolf if you wish. Priceless: Alice pulling off the leather pants look since forever!

XXX feat. Rammstein
Well, not exactly what you call an acting cameo appearance, nonetheless Rammstein perform in this movie the way they know best. Priceless: Budgeting Rammstein's pyro show in the production costs!

Tenacious D: Pick of Destiny feat. Ronnie James Dio
If you have yet to watch this legend of a movie I suggest you go have a brain scan. I don't know what is funnier in this movie: Meatloaf playing a conservative religious father, Jack Black's scarily identical young self, or Dave Grohl as kinky Satan. Dio's certainly not funny at all as he manages to take a silly song and turn it into an anthem!

Eat the Rich feat. the one and only Lemmy
Lemmy stole the show in many movies by just being present! Cameo appearances include "Charlie's death wish", "Airheads", "Frezno smooth", "Terror firmer" "Citizen toxie: The toxic avenger", "The curse of El Charro"... I could go on for a while. Truth is, Lemmy has no real talent in acting, obviously! But there is something about this movie. Priceless: The saxophone guys who took their roles way too seriously, considering!

Detroit Rock City feat. KISS
Who can forget this surprisingly good movie produced by Gene Simmons himself? Priceless: "Knights in Satan's Service"!

Married with Children feat. Anthrax
Quite shy within the movie world Anthrax only appeared briefly in the movie "Calendar girls" [believe it or not!]. Scott Ian also portrayed a quite convincing zombie in "The walking dead" TV series. But what can top the band's cameo appearance in "Married with children"? Priceless: Scott without a beard and Belladonna's non-aging face! Seriously, what's wrong with that guy?

Little Nicky feat. Ozzy
I wouldn't expect to ever say this but I honestly think Ozzy's got talent in acting! From his appearance in "The American way",  "The jerky boys", or his amazing performance as a reverend (no, you are not hallucinating) in "Trick or treat"....advocating against rock pornography! My own personal favourite though has to be his role in "Little Nicky" purely because I can't believe how awful that movie was and how much better Ozzy made it. Priceless: The bat incident taken to a whole new level!

Pirates of the Caribbean feat. Keith Richards 
"Does this face look like it's been to the fountain of youth?" Need I say more?

Image credits:

09 February 2013

Rhetorical Thoughts: The Skin (Dis)Colouration

If no "blacks" are actually black, no "whites" are literally white, no "yellows" are really yellow, and no "reds" are in reality red....

Why, then, are we still categorising race by colour?

Fact: We are all different shades of brown!

More facts and science here.

19 January 2013

"IT" Is The Life

by guest author while(TRUE){life();}

This piece is dedicated to all the engineers, tech-savvies, and geeks out there. A timeline of progress, disappointment, anger management issues, and liberation! 

The Education 
HND in Computer Engineering
BEng in Computer Engineering
MSc in Data Communication

The Student Experience 
During my years at uni I got everything that anyone could ever imagine: made good friends, was taught how to think like an engineer, did fun projects, and spent countless hours in labs (even the pizza guy learned were the labs were and came knocking on the door to deliver the usual!). My knowledge of communication systems was growing exponentially on a daily basis and something inside me was always pushing me to go the extra mile, like changing the code of a software so we can file-share with friends.

The First Job 
Junior Network Engineer: new toys, new experience, and a lot more to learn. I was working on a production system an entire company was depending on with everything working like a Swiss watch. I wish I could say that was true for me at the beginning of my career! That something inside me kept me going and going, no stop for me until I got it right; playing with new toys is like a fat kid in a candy store for an engineer (ok, ok for the sake of political correctness let’s say overweight). Within a year I became the lead, the authority on everything and anything (in engineering terms the “in case s**t man”). I was learning fast and I was having fun and I was getting paid for it as well, the trifecta for any engineer out there. Light-bulb moments were coming in thick and fast.  

The Wake-up Call 
Then a change happened. I came across office politics. I do not like office politics, I do not do office gossip, and I hate back-stabbers (that’s right, you all shall burn in hell). That is not my game, I'm an engineer, genetically programmed to look at the cold hard facts and formulate an answer to a problem. But I soon realised... office politics do work. Knowledge-less people were moving up the ladder, playing with Facebook all day long (that’s right am part of the resistance) while others dealt with problems they caused. Well, I consider them f***ing parasites! That something inside me started to get really upset. I kept everything in check, kept true and worked smart and hard.

Career Take 2
Solutions Architect: new people, new opportunities, new systems to learn. I was part of a team that were the technical experts on any technology the company had to offer. It didn't took me long, six months down the line I became the team leader, I was performing training courses from the most advanced technologies to entry-level for everyone. For any difficulty that came along, I was the answer. The trifecta was back, learning new technologies, sharing knowledge and getting paid for it. Before the year coming to an end I was awarded as one of the top business' performers.

The Games
Funny how things change though, it took a year before I started noticing the office politics again. I locked horns with one of the sales directors; these guys really don't like us! The engineer in me prevailed. Keep true I said to myself, keep true. That evil thing inside me kept growing stronger and stronger by the day though.

The Realisation
Well after that fiasco and almost two years down the line I have seen some ugly truths and even more ugly people! The same pattern over and over again, knowledge-less idiots move along the line, just by using office politics. They steal your ideas present them as their own and get the credit for it. Well that is office politics for you people. Still, there are technology companies out there that have it right and that is why they are called pioneers of technology.

Moving On 
Now I have interviews lined up and it all looks good, but that thing inside me has grown into a full figure with black attire, an army of evil, and some respiratory problems. It’s getting harder and harder to keep IT in line (see what I did there?). But its voice is always there in the background whispering... 

(and gaming platforms, gadgets, and loose virtual women)

 while(TRUE){life();} has now got a job that he is temporarily happy with. He is so intelligent as to be considered a genius by his friends who expect him to make lots of money and share the wealth with his fanclub. He is a proud geek, gamer, and spectacle-wearer and does think that geeks rule [honestly]. He is also the only member of the Facebook Résistance and quite paranoid about his digital footprint and for these reasons only you cannot really follow him anywhere. Except in real life. But that would make you a stalker. 
Image credits:

18 December 2012

Rocking Holidays

I would like to wish everyone a nice, warm, and adventurous holiday season full of creativity and above all health; both physical and mental.

A suggestion to my dear Londoners... It is the season to go and check out the musical Rock of Ages at Shafterbury Theatre. It's amazing and it will rock your socks off!

'TIill next year my friends. Stay Me(n)tal!

02 December 2012

Review of Marilyn Manson & Rob Zombie (Twins of Evil Tour 2012)

Review of Marilyn Manson & Rob Zombie (Twins of Evil Tour 2012 - O2 Arena, London, UK)

I wish I could really mark each of the two (Manson, Zombie) separately for this post, but since the tour is called Twins of Evil, it's only appropriate to have a single, complete, and always brilliant review! It will become obvious why...

Venue: O2 arena is great. Good acoustics and seating/standing arrangements for all tastes. 8/10

Quality & Versatility: First time I ever saw both of them. Based on previous lives I've seen circulating on the net, Manson was, well, simply put... bland. I have to say though I did not go to this gig to get impressed nor because I think Manson is a great musician; I went because I respect him more as an all-round artist and a human being. Rob Zombie on the other hand was a surprise for me. I admit, I am not a fan purely because there is too much music out there for me to like. I only knew him for a couple of songs and admittedly I was left more interested in him. Due to Manson's ok (I guess) performance and Zombie's showmanship I'll give a 7/10.

Passion: Manson's presence and passion was not in line with his whole show. I would expect more enthusiasm from him considering his history. Zombie  was energetic, engaging and simply awesome. 6/10

Running Time: Around 2 1/2 hours. Would expect slightly longer sets. 8/10

Set List: Not much knowledgeable on their discography as a hardcore fan would be but some gems were not missing. "Coma White", "Beautiful People" on one side and "Dragula" and a cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out" on the other. 10/10

Crowd: One thing was surely going to be ace. The crowd was awesome, full of excitement and energy. All sorts of people were present; from the typical goth fan to the less hardcore softies! 10/10

Show: I haven't seen so much confetti in a gig before! Highlights were Manson dressed up as a priest and mostly Zombie's demons, robots, LED lights etc etc etc. 9/10

Overall Experience: Well, one thing I gained from this gig was not the goosebumps but my increasing interest in Rob Zombie. The "God of Fuck" was disappointing enough to make me not wanting to go to another of his shows in the future. Well, maybe a gallery show. Zombie on the other hand, will be a more regular visitor in my playlists from now on. Oh, and did I mention...I only just realised that he wrote and directed one of my favourite horror movies (i.e. The Devil's Rejects). Oh the ignorance! 8/10

Videos can be seen here: (coming soon!)


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