Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Portrait of Chaos

Job for a Cowboy
Metal Blade

Jason warned me. Jason Beck, of the mighty Deadthyme program on KPFT, told me, “Dude, a lot of people aren’t into this record. It’s okay for mall metal but watch out.”

I heeded his warning. Jason knows what he’s talking about. Plus, the evidence was on his side. Metalheads with a clue were seriously disappointed with No Time to Bleed by Suicide Silence. Smart metalheads knew to avoid that travesty altogether.

I’m happy to report that, with Ruination, Job for a Cowboy has left the increasingly tedious deathcore pack in the dust. Wave goodbye flat-brimmed hat, plug-sporting d-bags. Job for a Cowboy won’t be returning.

Ruination is an achievement for several reasons. With this record, Job for a Cowboy avoided the dreaded sophomore slump (Doom doesn’t count; more on this later). Musically, the band has achieved its goal of moving into the realm of technical death metal. Socially, Ruination should make their younger, trendier fans pause and reflect.

A few years back, I had some acquaintances in San Antonio who were heavily into the fashioncore scene. In the time I knew them, they bounced from Coal Chamber/Slipknot-style nu-metal to the Eighteen Visions thing to this new stuff coming out of the Western U.S. These guys were obsessed with As Blood Runs Black (remember them?). They latched on to the formulaic song structures and cheap gimmicks such as pig-vocals. Of course, these dudes spent hundreds of dollars a month at the hair salon and spent all of their free time smoking weed and playing video games, so superficiality and visual stimulation were all they asked of the music to which they listened.

These guys introduced me to Job for a Cowboy. These guys were obsessed with Doom. These were the early JFaC fans.

Job for a Cowboy didn’t impress me until the Genesis LP. That record is head-and-shoulders better than the cheap thrills offered on Doom. That was the record where Job for a Cowboy started to demand more of themselves – to grow as musicians, to expand the sound of the band. Maybe they saw the limited future of being a scene band but I chalk the maturity displayed between Genesis and Doom up as the same maturity spawned by getting older and smarter. If this were a marketing move, why keep a sound this intense? Why not go the Burn Halo route?

No, Job for a Cowboy is the real deal. In interviews posted all over the internet, the band’s members have no answer for why Genesis succeeded so well. They don’t know why Dave Mustaine chose them for the Gigantour. They don’t know why hundreds and sometimes thousands of people keep turning up at their shows. This is a measure of humility and candor rarely seen in the Age of Me. It’s as if, deep down, Job for a Cowboy knows that Doom was scenester garbage. They made an honest record and the response was nothing short of breath-taking. This is why Doom doesn’t count as their “first” record.

Yes, it was first but Genesis is the first Job for a Cowboy album that anyone does or should care about. Of course, there will be too-cool-for-school metal folks for whom Job for a Cowboy can do no right but the open-minded will see this band as a unit achieving greatness in front of our collective eyes. Ruination provides the scene kids with a chance to see if they’re maturing at the same rate as one of their favorite bands. It also provides an opportunity for the jaded old fucks to see if they’re as good at evaluating new bands as they think they are. Good bands come out of every trend.

Which brings us to Ruination, a record that avoids the sophomore slump by being a true metal record. What do I mean by true? It’s true in that it avoids the cheap deathcore trappings. There are no breakdowns on the album; not in the modern sense of the term. Yes, there are moshtastic riffs all over Ruination, but nothing that Suffocation, Immolation, or Dying Fetus didn’t do first. It’s a true metal album in that it’s heavier than Oprah, it has a driving rhythm section propelling the songs forward (though drummer Jon “Charn” Rice overplays at points), it has adventurous guitar work, and the vocals are worked into the songs rhythmically and harmonically.

Speaking of vocals, Jonny Davy must have graduated from the Ben Falgoust Vocal University. Much like the legendary Soilent Green/Goatwhore frontman, Davy varies his delivery from near-black metal screeches to low death-grunts and everything in between while artfully arraigning his vocals alongside the mind-blowing guitar work of Bobby Thompson and Al Glassman. It’s not all blinding speed. Thompson and Glassman sneak quite a bit of sludgy, Morbid Angel moments into the album.

As mentioned earlier, Rice over-does it as points with jamming super-technical drum fills in between blastbeats instead of just rocking a solid rhythm. Fortunately, he’s reigned in by the purposeful bass playing of Brent Riggs. What purpose? To keep these songs flowing and keep his fellow musicians on mission. Riggs is the musical glue that holds Job for a Cowboy together. Without him, this album could easily have turned into a riff salad. With him, art and skill marry to make Ruination a powerful record.

In the supplemental materials of the Slacker Criterion Collection DVD, which I encourage all of you to buy or shoplift, Ron Rosenbaum of the New York Observer calls Slacker a portrait of chaos. The same can be said of Ruination. The record is not chaos. It is a skillfully and artfully created portrait of chaos. It’s an album that in the sum of its parts creates something new. It’s an album of ultra-fast, hyper-technical death metal that stands alongside anything past or present. Job for a Cowboy strikes again.

Job for a Cowboy - Ruination


Monday, July 20, 2009

No Funeral to resume killing trees shortly

After careful consideration, I've decided to relaunch the print zine. The basic breakdown goes like this:

Music reviews, MP3s, and updates will be posted here while interviews, essays, features, and general weirdness will be saved for the bi-monthly (maybe(?!?)) print zine. I think this will be an interesting way to balance the two formats. Ideas, suggestions, and criticisms are welcome. Send all complaints to

Sorry that there hasn't been more frequent posting. I've been spending my time trying to work 150 hours a week while moving (again) and figuring out the above situation with the other 18 hours. Once I get the internet hooked up at the new crib, frequent and bizarre posting will resume.

In the meantime, here's July's hatelist:


Kyuss - Welcome to Sky Valley
Hatred Surge - Collection and Isolated Human
Coke Bust - Cycle of Violence
Job for a Cowboy - Ruination
The Warriors - Genuine Sense of Outrage
Black Flag - Damaged
Metallica - Binge & Purge
Trapped Under Ice - Stay Cold
Impending Doom - The Serpent Servant
... and an unholy amount of Disembodied.


Burn after Reading
(M. Night Shamalamadingdong's only good movie)


Too many to list. I've been reading a ton lately. Been on a big I-hate-George-Bush kick.

Stay tuned for more details on the relaunch of the No Funeral magazine.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Raoul Duke’s Unique Definition of Humor

In his collection of personal correspondence Kingdom of Fear, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson wrote that the Bible is humorless and, therefore, God is humorless (p. 17-18). By examining the two components of his statement, it seems that Dr. Thompson ignored the obvious in order to make his point. Sitting here in Huntsville, Texas, with no money and no accolades, I can’t help but notice that the good doctor is dead wrong.

The first component of Dr. Thompson’s statement is that the Bible is devoid of humor. Maybe, but I don’t see it that way. Proverbs 16: 13-16 read sarcastic to me. King Solomon would fit in nicely over at the Daily Show.

When Proverbs 16-14 says, “A king’s wrath is a messenger of death”, the verse is not referring to King Tut, King Edward or the King of Beers. It’s King Solomon transposing God’s word in the third-person perspective. It’s textbook sarcasm. He saying that a king’s wrath (wink, wink) means God and death means you. If necessary, try reading the verse in Pee Wee Herman’s voice. Not everyone will see the humor in this but I certainly do.

Then again, let’s run with Dr. Thompson’s assumption that the Bible is a drab and dreary history book. This, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Bible is the instruction book for life. It doesn’t need to be filled with zingers.

Here’s another drab, humorless instruction book that receives no criticism from the public-at-large: the owner’s manual to your car. Go ahead, flip through it. There’s not a joke to be found. It’s also safe to assume that, when calling tech support, no one wants Jerry Seinfeld answering the phone while the hard drive is crashing. Sometimes, it’s okay not to be entertained.

I’m not sure exactly what point Dr. Thompson was trying to make with his barbed criticism of the Holy Scripture but he clearly didn’t get any of the points that I’m making.

As for the second component of Dr. Thompson’s statement, that God is humorless, I defer to filmmaker Kevin Smith and his controversial yet poignant film Dogma. If you he honestly thought that God has no sense of humor, then I would love to hear the good doctor’s explanation for the platypus.

Brian No Funeral
Huntsville, TX

Monday, July 6, 2009

Clear Channel Indignation vs. Common Sense

Formerly relevant broadcast outlets ABC and NBC are conducting newscasts from inside the White House. Clear Channel, through its various slimy and spineless radio outlets, is quite indignant about competitors, err... news organizations getting too cozy with the government.

It's funny. There was no Clear Channel outrage when President Reagan was deregulating the broadcast industry in the 1980s. I wonder if the fact that Clear Channel was primarily a billboard company during the Reagan Empire has anything to do with their dignified silence during said decade. That no one has profited more from Reagan's deregulation than Clear Channel certainly wouldn't be a contributing factor, now would it?

Anyway, Clear Channel via 740 KTRH wondered aloud what purpose NBC would have for cozying up to the executive branch of the U.S. government. Fortunately, I have an answer for the billion-dollar corporation.

General Electric, one of the world's largest arms manufacturers, is the parent company of NBC. The president is the commander of the executive branch and by extension the Department of Defense. As of now, you can't sell ballistic missiles to the public-at-large (remember to vote in November) so, like any good business, GE is sucking up to its largest client. It's a business move at the expense of the american public; meaning that its just another business move.

Clear Channel's self-righteous tone and phony outrage over "objective" journalism is reminiscent of Columbus -- Clear Channel discovered something that millions of people already knew existed. It would be cheaper and far more honorable for them to use one of their billboards to announce, "We wish that we had thought of it first."

Brian No Funeral
18 June 2009
Huntsville, TX

Saturday, July 4, 2009

No Funeral 2: The Electric Boogaloo

The future has been on my mind lately. While away, I’ve been reprioritizing my life: getting sober, deciding what is and is not important in my life and where life will take me next. No Funeral has played a crucial role during this internal dialogue. This zine started four years ago when I first got sober. In the course of its development from productive-use-of-free-time to critical-evaluation-of-rock-music, the zine’s mission became clearly defined. Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon during this period. Eventually, I learned that substance abuse and the No Funeral mission don’t jive together. So, here I’ve been – reevaluating anything and everything around me.

I’ve toyed with the idea of taking the site down. Google censors my material. Crying-ass record companies are all run by con artists, as are most “popular” bands concerned about “pirated” music (but that’s a separate issue). The thought that entered my head repeatedly was, “If I really wanted to be underground, I’d go back to print”, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this whole train of thought is self-pitying nonsense.

Flawed as it is, I love No Funeral’s current webzine format. I choose to communicate this way because I have extreme difficulty communicating with those in my life. This is why I took time off; so I could get my head together. I’ve learned that communication with a head full of dope is damn-near impossible. That’s why I went straightedge.

Let me explain this. I’m straightedge in the same manner that I’m Christian. It’s a matter between me and my creator that allows me to live my life effectively. I have no intentions of flying anyone’s flag for anything. Being Christian and straightedge allows me to not only write effectively but also to execute God’s will through my work. What does that mean? It means bringing glory to the kingdom of God, not proselytizing. I failed to accomplish this in the past due to mis-prioritizing and living for myself. In all honesty, this has nothing to do with you, as the reader, in this equation.

Taking the site down is an idea that has intrigued me. The internet sucks. Aside from Google tracking everyone’s web surfing, it has no permanency. The “audience” is an unsavory cast of know-nothing lowlifes and too many people can monkey with my material. Alas, too many people actually enjoy No Funeral and actually get what I’m doing. Besides, quitters never win – they just get to live their lives stress-free.

One option is to buy my own web domain and this will likely happen, eventually. Also, don’t be surprised if you see issues of No Funeral #5 floating around later this year.

Another idea is to compile the existing No Funeral material into some manner of cohesive volume and shop it around, particularly to a publishing house like AK Press. I really like this idea and it too will likely happen, eventually. What is certain is that No Funeral will not end, not now or ever, but things will change.

In using the old No Funeral format, (actually the second format after I abandoned print copies) I wanted to start a community-wide dialogue about rock music’s place in the spectrum of art and to determine this music’s place in the modern world. In this regard, I have failed you. Over 15,000 site visits and 5000 downloads this year have produced barely over 100 comments. I have failed to effective communicate the intent of this site.

That said, all you folks want is free music. In this regard, you have failed me. You continue to treat this music like a collectible and/or a disposable widget. Whoever dies with the most MP3s wins, right? I do not wish to perpetrate this behavior.

Will music be posted on No Funeral in the future? Yes, but in far less frequency than before. I’m done keeping up with the Music will be posted less-often but the analysis will go even further in-depth than before. More arching motifs/unifying themes will be employed and future posts will delve into subjects beyond the realm of metal and hardcore.

How does this affect the price of tea in China? No Funeral will no longer post albums, or anything else for that matter, simply for the sake of posting them. As mentioned earlier, I’m through keeping up with the e-Joneses. No Funeral will be more artfully and skillfully crafted; abandoning the current blogger-vogue of meaningless post after meaningless post.

Bizarre and experimental territories are what the future holds for No Funeral. I’m interested in further blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction. I’m interested in going back to my roots of exploring my own brand of no-future, miscreant journalism. In short, think of this site as interactive Gonzo Letters.

Why Gonzo Letters? A few reasons come to mind. The main reason is me rectifying my previously gut-level Dr. Thompson influence. I never really understood why I loved Hunter S. Thompson’s work so much; I just knew that I did. I wondered how he could produce so much quality work while stoned around the clock and why I could never do it.

I’ve spent a large portion of my “vacation” rereading the works of Dr. Thompson and I now have answers to these questions. I now know that I need to be sober and in touch with my creator to produce work of that quality. I now know that Dr. Thompson had amazing, natural talent and I often wonder what he could have produced if he were sober and in touch with his creator. It’s too late to spend any energy on why it didn’t work for Dr. Thompson and what could have happened if things were different. I consider myself blessed that I did figure it out before it was too late.

Americans are like lightning – filled with unfocused, kinetic energy that can kill at a moment’s notice for no other reason than seeking the path of least resistance. I’d like to think that my energy is better focused now and that I’m losing less of it through the wires. In my life, the wires were drugs.

Another reason for employing the Gonzo Letters tactic is that I feel no need to communicate with anyone directly right now. Instead, I will communicate with everyone and no one simultaneously. The Gonzo Letter format perfectly fits this intention. Maybe this is nothing more than large-scale self-gratification. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Regardless, shit is about to get weird around here. We’re headed into a strange, new direction. Remember what the good doctor said? “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” THAT is what’s happening at No Funeral. Consider this my declaration for the pro draft. If you thought No Funeral was weird before, then hold onto your fucking hat. If you haven’t the stomach for it, I recommend that you get out now.

Top Five of 2009
(Half of a year, half of a list)

1. ABACABB – Survivalist
2. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
3. Coke Bust – Line in the Sand
4. Impending Doom – The Serpent Servant
5. Earth Crisis – To the Death