A few years ago during one of my forays into ‘that’ part of the internet I stumbled on a blog called Blood and Banjos. It was basically about a guy, let’s call him Mike, who was kicking around the idea of making a record that combined his love of bluegrass music with its polar opposite, black metal. He had a couple of audio clips and ideas posted up, and needless to say, as a lover of any original idea in the realm of metal, I was instantly intrigued and started following the blog regularly. Over time Mike’s vision started to take shape and the idea of an album began to come to fruition. He called upon friends and fellow musicians from all over the US and even Europe to offer their skills on his ideas and offer their own. Then there was a successful Kickstarter campaign which allowed Mike and friends to realize all their ideas, demos, and musings on a full-fledged, professionally recorded album. Needless to say there was a huge amount of passion and time invested in creating this record, and holy hell does it show!
A bit over a year ago I stumbled upon a blog called Blood & Banjos, and with a name like that, how could I not stop and check it out. Upon reading one of the first few posts that they had I quickly learned that the blog was to be a chronicle of the creation of an album from its inception to its finish. The original idea for the record was conjured in the brain of project leader Mike Lindsay during a casual conversation between friends when the idea of making an album that combined the visceral, raw sound of black metal with the conservationists passion for bluegrass music. The churning mental gears quickly gave way to Mike starting up the project of seriously making an attempt at this daunting task of combining polar opposites of the musical spectrum. Blood & Banjos were born.
Throughout the year I kept up reading this blog, as a look into what goes into writing, recording, and conceptualizing an album from start to finish was quite interesting to me personally and seeing it being done by a group of regular Joes and not the usual ‘big rock star’ album chronicles piqued my interest further. Then there’s the fact that they were not just creating your usual metal album, but quite an experimental take on it, my interest went through the roof. As time went on and their posts on concepts and brief histories into the styles of music went on things started to shift from concepts and ideas towards actual songs being created. Very neat stuff, and being the cool dude he is, Mike took the time to listen to the comments people were leaving on his blog and even embraced a few ideas for specific song sections I threw his way when he went to post up the next demo recordings. The fact that Mike had the management capacity to be able to make recordings with his group of musicians and collaborators scattered all across the USA and EU was very neat to observe also.
Now, some of you may be thinking that the whole black metal/bluegrass combo has already been done, and quite well I might add, by the one man band Panopticon on his album Kentucky. While this may be true, what really grabs me about the Blood & Banjos project is the angle they are approaching the concept from. Instead of going for the intensely deep side bluegrass and metal like Panopticon did, they are putting the focus on the fun side of the genres. Almost resembling a Broadway spectacle, the album will tell the tale of a simple Appalachian family man named Abram Stone who has been deceived by Satan into believing only himself and his banjo can prevent the coming of the anti-Christ and the coming Apocalypse. The town’s mayor and townsfolk stand in his way and inevitable violence of mass proportion ensues. Amazing concept if you ask me, and B&B take it a step further by taking the time to actually cast various musicians and singers to fill the various roles in the story.
So after a bit over a year of conceptualizing and writing, Blood & Banjos have finished the first phase of production and have even released some awesome demos (you’ll find something to listen to at the bottom of this post) and now starts a phase where they really need the help of music fans everywhere. I’m sure you know getting quality recording of ones music doesn’t come cheap, and even for the more economical options a pretty penny must be spent. Being the regular Joes they are with day jobs and the like, dropping 10 grand for an album recording just isn’t in their personal budgets, but fortunately, this wonderful thing called Kickstarter exists and could very well ensure that the bands dreams of seeing this project come to life does so at the highest possible quality. While the band states that even if they don’t meet their goal, they will still see this project through to completion, but wouldn’t you like to hear such an awesome concept for a record come to fruition as shiny as possible and actually know that you were partly responsible for that happening (c’mon, everyone one loves bragging rights even if they don’t admit it 😉 ). So head over to the bands Kickstarter page, make a pledge, get yourself some cool perks (that poster is looking mighty fine), and support independent music, cause without it we’d be stuck listening to the same old stuff that the major labels habitually pump out. And it should go without saying, share the Kickstarter with as many as you can, you could be the one responsible for the really rich dude that has a passion for both metal and bluegrass music and has a hankering to toss a few grand at the project, I’m sure Mike and the rest of Blood & Banjos would be very appreciative. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!!
Demos will be added to the bands Bandcamp as they are released, you can hear a couple in the player below now 🙂
Since the moment I first heard Kentucky by one man band Panopticon back in August I think I’ve written how great it is and how much it moves me more than enough, even awarding it the #2 spot on my Best of 2012 list. But unfortunately, for many getting their hands on this record was something quite difficult as it was only released on vinyl and unless you were a reviewer, getting you hands on a digital copy was daunting unless you felt comfortable utilizing Google for the shady approach. Well, I said the second that this album is readily available I would be one of the first people to let you know, and so here I am. Kentucky is available on Bandcamp for you to hear in its entirety (a front to back, solid playthrough is highly recommended) and for purchase for next to nothing, only $3.oo.
The music on the record is a combination of progressive black metal and American bluegrass music and tells the tale of the plight of the coal miners in Kentucky, and by proxy, all around the U.S. For something much more in-depth you can read my full review here while you listen. But, please, I implore you, listen to this album (and also take a look into the subject matter of the album, some quick Google searches will send you to some really eye-opening stuff). It truly is deserving of all the praise I’ve been giving it and I’ve been listening to it regularly since August and it hasn’t lost any of its initial impact. I hope you all enjoy this wonderful record, and as always, if you dig the album share it with your fellow metal brethren and drop a few bucks towards the artist. Peace Love and Metal!!!
It should come as no surprise I am a big fan of musicians embracing the idea of infusing heavy metal with traditionally not-very-metal genres. Stuff like Diablo Swing Orchestra’s brand of ‘New Orleans swing metal’, Blood Ceremony’s ‘jazz flute metal’, and Ihsahn’s ‘sexy sax metal’ all tickle my fancy. So, when I caught wind that one man black metal band Panopticon had released an album that was to be a combination of atmospheric black metal and traditional bluegrass, my interest was piqued to say the least. I love me some atmospheric black metal and I totally dig on some bluegrass, what could possibly go wrong. In theory, the stark differences between these 2 styles would lead one to believe that the combination would be quite jarring when blended together, hence why no one until now has released a full album of the mix. But in the hands of Kentucky native Austin Lunn, his passion for both styles of music and love of his home state have led to one of this years most interesting and best releases.
So, yesterday a really cool dude left a comment on our site, and as I do with most comments that are attached to another website or blog, I went and checked things out on the other end. What I found was one of the more interesting metal ideas I’ve heard in a while. Combine Black Metal and Bluegrass. To me, that just sounds awesome. I’ve heard a lot of styles of folk music incorporated into metal, but never true bluegrass with Black Metal, and I think it would make for an awesome sounding combination. The blog is chronicle of their project (which has just recently started, but they seem to be making some great headway) and is delightfully titled Blood and Banjos. Head on over and give them your words of support and constructive criticism. They seem like they have the right mindset for the project and are truly passionate about it. I’d eagerly anticipating hearing the finished work when it is finished! Keep on keeping on B&B! Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Blood and Banjos– http://metalgrass.wordpress.com/