Spoken samples shouldn’t make an album, but they can certainly make an epic album a little more epic-er. In some cases, it’s more effective to use a bibliography instead of trying to reinvent the wheel in your own words. If you’re an artist who stumbles upon existing content that can further develop your point of view, well shit – use it. Chances are, listeners aren’t already familiar with it, so you might as well pull up a few more seats to the table of core-shaking.
This week, I’m talking samples of the something old, but first, let’s do the something new and very blue:
Entering (CZ) – Shade of Mind (2017)
“If there was a good way to describe it, I would say that it’s like being the third wheel in a relationship, except there is no relationship. Or, to other people, it’s just by yourself.”
Years of casually toting bands with nooses tethered into their logos has yielded a variety of consequences, but I’d say the key is keeping the noose from being tethered around me. Desensitization often carries negative connotations, but I think that kind of conclusion-jumping is a little more than short-sighted. When you’re a kid, you have to sleep with a nightlight because otherwise you’ll shit your pants when your big wheel starts casting the shadow of a Chupacabra. But, eventually, there will be the night when it burns out and Grandma tells you to fuck off when you wake her up to ask her to fix it. As you bump your way back through the night and make it safely with a leap back into bed, you’re one step closer to realizing that the dark isn’t so scary after all. DSBM has provided me with night vision; not only am I not alone, but the shared experiences of others can help me understand my own soul sickness.
Recognition is key. I went from having panic attacks, demanding to be taken to the hospital, and insisting I was dying at 16 to going “oh, this again” by my 17th birthday. That’s not to say that anxiety ever gets easier to swallow or that its symptoms don’t chip away at you over time. But, just the simple act of knowing can help you reclaim your autonomy. So, when you get into one of these trips, you can start to wake up through the coping mechanisms you’ve adapted, employed at your conscious moment of arrival.
That being said, it takes a moment of sweeping fear before the fight-flight fire can be downgraded to a low-level fever. Fear is what was invoked in me when I heard Entering’s Shade of Mind for the first time last week. Opening with a sampled monologue all too reminiscent of my inner-dialogue, I knew I had encountered something more profound than the typical razor-to-the-wrist shock rock element of DSBM. The differentiating factor is insight. Through the metaphor of feeling like the third wheel in life and the exploration of the leading causes of isolation, I gradually grew from feeling personally attacked to personally at peace. Not only does Shade make me feel like I’m a few fries less short of a Happy Meal than I originally thought (or otherwise, I’m in good company), but it’s helped me understand the logic I’ve been using to justify my self-hatred, and ultimately, how it can potentially be dismantled.
More shit-out DSBM albums tend to grab you with either a soul-shatteringly meandering instrumental intro or a killer sample reflecting on the topics of death, decay, and stormy days, just to ultimately let you down as the rest of the album proves to be no more than a formulaic, monotone chugga-chugga bore war. Such an offense is not committed by Entering. While Shade quickly spirals into blast beaty stairs post-opening, I surprised myself by not completely grumbling at it. Oppressive abrasiveness is used appropriately as self-loathing turns to rage the moment “depression…fuck that” is uttered. Samples’ careful placement transitions seamlessly back into instrumentals as the album grows more experimental than anticipated based on the album art’s more traditional black metal aesthetic. The footgaze tendencies of the album feel extremely organic coming from a realm in which gaze and noise are otherwise self-aware goals to achieve.
Overall, the album provides the proper ambiance for contemplating further dialogues on self-harm and suicide. The how’s and why’s are considered as a young woman discusses her tumultuous relationship with cutting – a topic that’s been heartily-utilized for aesthetic purposes in DSBM, but has fallen a bit shallow in substantive exploration. Suicide-related 911 calls follow, grabbing our attention through the jarring display of genuine human emotion and forcing us to consider the extremely unromantic realities of the who’s and how’s of being found. The possibility of that someone being a loved one could potentially further dissuade acting on thoughts of self-harm.
Or, even if Entering’s sentiment may not personally resonate, it still holds the potential to simply be taken as art for art’s sake.
I realize that this is all some pretty heavy bread, so, like Shade itself, I’d like to end with a little bit of a cool down. Hell, I’ve already tackled some pretty tough topics this week, so I’m going to take some time to crack open the vault and pay homage to some beloved uses of samples across the heavy realm. Maybe we can even crack a smile while we’re at it? Let’s give it a shot.
Capitalist Casualties – Disassembly Line (1992)
“Those youngsters who are not educated, not prepared, will not be able to adapt…they’ll be on the street. They’ll be angry. They’ll be dangerous.”
If you’re anything like me, 33 tracks of powerviolence can be hard to swallow. Fun fact: I actually don’t heart powerviolence. Lest we forget, ma grumbles at any tempo faster than Type O. Nevertheless, I do heart CC. Palette-cleansing samples of the Beaver Cleaver fear-mongering past keep at the root of the core values that keep me resonating with punk as a metalhead. Whether you’re serving the state through slavery to your job at the waste disposal plant, or you’re a cog in the misguided wheel of the US educational system, Disassembly Line reminds us of what’s truly worthy of fear.
Eyehategod – Take as Needed for Pain (1993)
“Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol, alcohol…”
I wasn’t there for ’93. Nope, not even in embryonic form. But, I try to keep perspective nevertheless. Eyehategod is responsible for so many elements of music that are now household to the heavy sphere – samples included. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of when the process of catheter insertion became common knowledge. These gruesome details—the product of a discarded medical tape—are as cryptically off-the-wall as the name Eyehategod itself. But, once you let the lesson slide in, it becomes evident that it serves more of a purpose than just edgy audible aesthetic. So, say what you want about EHG, but they’ve never been ones to mask the harsh side of drug abuse that’s whitewashed by newer-school colleagues. Or, maybe I just really want catheters to be profound because I’m an EHG fan. In that case, let’s just defer to alcohol, alcohol, alcohol…
Electric Wizard – Dopethrone (2000)
“When you get into one of these trips, there are only a couple of ways you can get out. One is death. The other is mental institutions.”
Further in-step with my Millennial ignorance, I had no clue until right this here second that Dopethrone dropped way back in the inaugural year of this millennia. Talk about ahead of its time. Yet, when I discovered Electric Wizard through the stoner YouTube clickhole in college, I was still grabbed by the next decade of fear-mongering soundbites I was initially introduced to by Capitalist Casualties in junior high. With the bulk of my conscious memories taking place post-Columbine and post-9/11, it’s always fascinated me how society used to get off on intentionally birthing sensationalized narratives of horror and alarm. A la Reefer Madness, Dopethrone’s inclusion of warnings of drugs and sorcery allows the past to live on as a real-life fable, grabbing hands of the next generation and leading them down a path from Sleep to Bell Witch. These extra audibles help illustrate one of the original modern replicas of the 70’s – a now-trend that my cohort takes for granted as much as Uber and Bandcamp (or as much as Boomers cried wolf).
Weedeater – Sixteen Tons (2003)
“I was born in South Carolina, man. I can’t read.”
Whether it’s from your cousin Cletus or Weedeater’s “Raaaaarrrrg,” there’s nothing quite like the shocking splendor of accepting a collect call from county jail. I speak from experience – I used to work in criminal defense. Okay so there was this one dude who became a serial caller, I guess because he was lonely and wanted to talk (aside: put a wedding ring on his finger and a Death Star-shaped bong in his contraband stash and you’ve got yourself the exact dreamboat I tend to attract). Despite the annoyance, he helped cultivate the alter ego I employ whenever I need to keep my true identity protected from a prying male randy.
One day out of the blue, your boy asked me if I was from Owings Mills –a kick in the giggle dick if you’re from Baltimore, as it’s competition for the city’s shittiest, most over-developed void of a suburb. And so, I became Jessica Messica from Owings Mills. It works like a charm, too. I told this clinger at Deathfest ’16 my “name” and he deadass looked me in the eyes and said “okay, I’ll look you up on Facebook.” But, I’ve thoroughly digressed. Weedeater’s use of samples helped carve out an identity, combining sludge, the South, and, well, weed into one shamelessly identifiable fingerprint for you to take or leave.
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