The Owls Are Not What They Seem

TOANWTSHearth

The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Dark Holler Arts (http://darkhollerarts.com/)

Release Date: November 11, 2016

Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2015 introduced me to The Owls Are Not What They Seem. The name’s a mouthful and their sound is an earful. As black and white images flickered behind them, The Owls (ANWTS) used various instruments, including a digeridoo, to create a madness that transported me into that realm where strange things happen and only witchcraft can explain it.

I guess I could call it Gothic Mood Metal or Gothic Horror Metal but those are just labels that don’t describe the experience with any accuracy. My idea of horror involves blood and guts and serial killers, but I was schooled by a horror aficionado after I scoffed at a gorgeous, moonlit mural in a woodland.

Apparently, such a mural is considered horror. I see it as melancholic, dramatic, and right up my alley. Exciting even and whoever is horrified by that needs to stay away from The Owls (ANWTS).

Very few bands can recreate a live show on an album. There’s an energy that compression destroys, that digital technology erases, and I’ve found that I’ll see a live show that I loved and the album leaves me cold.

Brian Magar, guitarist for The Owls (ANWTS) has this to say about the new album Hearth, “I believe our new album captures our “live” sound a bit better. We made a conscious effort to push this. I think you’re going to dig it.”

And dig it, I did.

The songs bleed into each other, sometimes a cacophony of sound, but the hum of the live performance rides underneath and ties the songs into one theme. You must see them live to understand as words cannot describe the images that the music draws forth from the subconscious.

Fortunately, The Owls (ANWTS) will be at Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017. I hope they’ll be on the Woodland Stage (hint, hint), but I’ll take a live show of theirs any way I can get it. You should check them out by getting your Festival tickets here .

You can also check out Hearth here:

And you can connect with The Owls (ANWTS) here.

America the “Beautiful”

We are a culture

of Wastrels,

Cannibals

who don’t eat

what we kill.

We treat other countries

like paper plates

and crumpled napkins;

plastic cups

and broken forks.

We throw everything we’ve used

into a big can

and call it

Refuse.

We haul refuse

to the dump.

A Dump

is taking a shit.

We shit on other nations.

We call ourselves

Superior,

proud to be American.

We can’t keep

our own backyard

Clean:

cellophane wrappers,

cigarette butts,

coffee cups;

“illegal” immigrants,

welfare recipients,

transients.

We shit

on each other.

America the “Beautiful,”

my ass.

2016 © iokirkwood.com “America the ‘Beautiful.’” All rights reserved.

Life + Death = A Bottle of Pills?

nigredo-heartcurrents-alchemy

I want to die.

Notice I didn’t say, “I want to kill myself.”

The desire is a passive thing, cunning in its perfidy. It swallows me up so slowly that I can’t see I’m at the center of its crazy labyrinth until it’s too late. I can’t see that there is a state of mind beyond this.

It can happen several times a day. I will switch back and forth between a confident optimism and the sudden, overwhelming knowledge that I am insignificant and impotent. At times I wonder if some part of me hasn’t died already, perhaps the heart on my sleeve.

Each time I catch myself thinking this way – feeling is a given – I’m horrified. I frantically whisper “cancel, cancel, cancel.” I want to negate the impulse so that the universe doesn’t pick up on it and make it so.

There are days when I waltz with terror, when the desire murmurs in my ear like an insistent and unwanted suitor. Then I whisper the “cancel’’ mantra until the pressure eases.

The Buddists say that this impulse to die is a symptom of loving life too much, that wanting to die requires a counterbalance of wanting to live with the same passion. I used to disagree, but lately, I’ve embraced the idea. Life is good now, but I can’t shake the bad feeling. It stalks me in my brightest moments.

quotes-about-death-buddha

The alchemists instruct me to conquer this “demon” I know as depression. If I want to evolve, I can’t medicate. I must push through the feelings and the thoughts until I reach the other side.

I do, but it is exhausting work. The feelings and thoughts twist up inside of me. Sometimes the demon is silent and then other days it snarls and rakes its claws along the front of my brain while it gnaws at my tender underbelly.

The silence and the snarls are at war inside of me. Medicate. Don’t medicate. Feel everything or feel “normal.” Live or die. This twisted caduceus is what drives me forward, creatively, emotionally and physically, a seriously demented metaphysical turbine.

Thesis + antithesis = synthesis, right? Life + death = a bottle of pills? I haven’t figured it out yet., Perhaps the urge to die and the urge to live is the truth of the human condition.

©2015 iokirkwood.com “Life + Death = A Bottle of Pills?” All rights reserved.

In bsavedpicture-33.jpgetween bouts of writing for metaljunkie.rocks, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of The Needless series, a YA fantasy that even adults will enjoy.

Album Review Rationale for Annoyed Artists

I know the pen is mightier than the sword. If you are an artist, do not take my ratings as a personal attack on you as an individual. I know it’s hard to not do so. Artists are some of the bravest people I know because they consistently put their guts out on display for complete strangers to poke over and discuss. This is not an industry for cowards but yes, I acknowledge that if I give you anything less than a 4.0, you’re probably going to feel a little butt hurt. Just realize that my review is one of many, probably won’t affect your bottom line, and I don’t know you personally so it isn’t personal. If we are friendly and on a first name basis, realize that I agonized over giving you anything less than a 4.0.

That said, I’m going to explain the mechanics of my rating system:

Anything below a 3.5 needs to be rethought because this signifies a serious craft-fail. If I take the time to review a work in this category, it isn’t to bash the artist with how bad it is but to provide constructive criticism on what needs improvement and why. The fail could be in production. In these instances, I find that the live performance deserves a much higher rating and also gives the work a higher rating post-review. If it is a production fail, I will say so. It’s still a craft fail but it may be outside the artist’s control (or budget).

A 3.5 to 3.9 is an endorsement of solid craft but there are underdeveloped elements that I would like the artist to address and lavish with attention in the next recording or redevelop in the live performance. Oft times this rating is based on a comparison with previous recordings. I also find that artists with line-up changes and “super groups” have this rating on their first release with the new personnel. It is very rare that people who have just started working together put out an opus. Sometimes I do go a little hard on the artist here, especially if I am a fan of individuals in the group. I personally want these bands to grow artistically and succeed. Often the live performance is so much more than the recording. As an artist, if your album received this rating, your live performance rating most likely will jump up to one of the next two categories.

A 4.0 to 4.4 indicates that the artist has exceeded expectations. The work is not only well-developed but there are elements that surprise and excite my senses. I’ll point out a few things that need attention, but overall, the work is worthy of critical acclaim and the artist is deserved of hearty slaps on the back, thumbs-up, and at least a six-pack of good craft beer or a fifth of preferred poison.

A 4.5 to 5.0 means that I had a visceral, ecstatic response to the work. Endorphins were released in large quantities. The craft is superlative and sets the bar for all other works in the (sub) genre. This is where I want every artist to be. I know it won’t happen on every album, and the artist should know this too. This kind of work deserves a gala with lots of champagne. If there is criticism, it’s with a light touch because having one song on an album that doesn’t make me cream my pants isn’t a bad thing. Everyone needs a breather between orgasms.

So that’s how I do it. It took me a while to get to this point. Just like every artist, I am honing my craft and trying to figure out where I fit in the big picture. I don’t get paid a salary for doing this either. I’m not rolling in dollars here so music is just as much a passion of mine as it is to the various artists that I critique.

I write. I listen to music. The two go together. It’s what I do. If there’s one thing you can count on from me, it is honesty. I’m not afraid to tell the people I admire the cold, hard truth. Will I be mean about it? No. There is a responsibility that comes with the mighty pen and I choose to use my powers for good.

©2014 iokirkwood.com “Album Review Rationale for Annoyed Artists.” All rights reserved.

savedpicture-33.jpgIn between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of The Needless series, “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.