Motörhead: In the Studio, Meshuggah – Alive, Electric Purgatory: The Fate of the Black Rocker
Motörhead: In the Studio
By Jake Brown with Lemmy Kilmister
“I’ve just always been in a hurry for everything… I’m a very impatient man,” quips Lemmy Kilmister. That summarizes Motörhead’s attitude in the studio, which has helped form their distinctive sound and far-reaching influence. Thirty years ago, Motörhead’s fusion of punk and rock changed the world on a scale they couldn’t have dreamed of. Some would argue that without Motörhead bands such as Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer wouldn’t exist. For evidence, they point to a slew of unrelenting Motörhead albums that started in the late ’70s and has carried their seminal sound over three decades and through countless trends.
The new book Motörhead: In the Studio chronicles the band’s 26 albums, from their self-titled released in 1977 to 2008’s Motörizer. Sure, the band took liberties and risks with their sound here and there—the closing shanty tune “1916” from the album 1916, to name one— but author Jake Brown shows (with plenty of Lemmy anecdotes) just how grounded the band has been—and seemingly always will be—in their core sound. In the Studio is peppered with great moments and stories, but what’s really fascinating is the band’s self-reflection. “Well, I make rock ‘n’ roll records; I don’t make heavy records,” said Lemmy to Inferno’s producer Cameron Webb. While Motörhead claims they’re not heavy, their catalog, from Ace of Spades to Orgasmatron, is clearly more than just straight-up rock. They drink, breathe and sweat a rock ‘n’ roll attitude, but it’s a no-holds-barred attitude on steroids. It’s palpable in their performances, interviews and most importantly documented on all of their records. And In the Studio does a great job of capturing the machismo and swagger that is Lemmy and Motörhead and putting it into words. —JW
Meshuggah – Alive
Since 1987, Sweden’s Meshuggah has constantly pushed the boundaries of how metal sounds and is constructed. Their penchant for odd time signatures and extreme downtuning defines their signature chugging sound, but Meshuggah’s pinnacle is their live performances. Their jams are revered as some of the tightest musicianship in metal, if not all of rock. And the Alive DVD vividly snatches their music’s intensity and the intricacies of their performance and puts them in your lap for at-home consumption.
Seeing and hearing how incredibly tight this band is is not only a treat for the casual listener, but for the musician as well. In an era when lower tuning and intense riffing may be starting to lose its luster, Meshuggah shows just how powerful it can still be when played with precision and attitude. The performances here are more than entertaining—they’re lessons for practicing a craft and locking in with a band.
Intertwined with the performances commentary from the band about tour life and spending months at a time away from loved ones. There are certainly some straightforward moments, like the brutally heavy renditions of songs such as “Bleed,” “New Millennium Cyanide Christ,” and “Lethargica.” Also included in the package is a CD featuring 12 tracks performed on the DVD. The audio quality of both discs is top notch. The tones are clear and audible from all of the instruments, however, there are times when the guitars could be a bit louder. Concert DVDs have become the norm—especially for metal bands—but it’s not every day you find a band that can stand atop a heap of downtuned mush with a powerful performance like Meshuggah’s Alive. —JW
Electric Purgatory: The Fate of the Black Rocker
Without black guitarists and musicians, we wouldn’t have rock ‘n’ roll. From Robert Johnson and Leadbelly to Jimi Hendrix and Prince, black musicians have been some of the most innovative and influential artists of the last century. But in the past 20 years, the black rocker’s scarcity has been increasingly apparent to musicians and fans alike—where have they gone?
Directed by Raymond Cayle, Electric Purgatory poses a racially charged question and presents a very thoughtful response. By first providing a thorough history of black musicians’ roles in rock music, Cayle provides the context to appropriately examine this polarizing issue. Instead of inserting his own voice into the documentary, Cayle allows a roster full of black rock’s leaders—Vernon Reid, H.R. of Bad Brains, members of Fishbone, and Doug Pinnick of King’s X—and music journalists to express their opinions and ideas on the matter. They do so with such forthrightness and honesty that at times it’s disheartening, but ultimately their tone and message provide answers rather than excuses for the racial lopsidedness in rock music. The participants rarely resort to finger-pointing and references to “the man,” but address this situation as a matter of concern to all. Furthermore, the last portion of the film examines ways to promote black musicians in rock, destroy the stigma of being a black rocker, and bring black audiences back to rock concerts.
Electric Purgatory isn’t a lighthearted, ho-hum documentary—it’s a significant film that spotlights the black rock community’s introspective look at their history, importance and current lack of representation in the genre. —CK
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.