Album review: KNELT ROTE Alterity

The first truly great album I’ve listened to this year, and it is a real doozy. This is a near perfect record and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. Buy this thing right now. Do it. And read my review.

Anyway…It’s been a day since my Vice article published and I’m already restless. So, plenty of reviews lined up for the near future, though most of them will not be published until late March or April. This is quite an incredible year for metal music and there are no shortage of things to promote. More to come soon.

I wrote The Guide to Getting into Anaal Nathrakh for Vice

Photo courtesy of Metal Blade

Photo courtesy of Metal Blade

The latest installment in Vice music vertical Noisey’s “The Guide to Getting into” is up and its author is…Me.

Here’s the article.

I still can’t believe that this actually happened. First, Anaal Nathrakh is one of my top five favorite bands and has been so for almost a decade. That I got to share my passion for a band that has had such a profound impact on my musical tastes (and get paid doing so) is nothing short of surreal.

Second, huge professional milestone. The largest since I started to publish my metal reviews on Metal Injection last summer. Vice is the first major mainstream news source that I’ve freelanced for and that means a lot to me.

With luck, this is a sign of things to come. I’d like to explore more writing opportunities this year and we’ll just have to see what happens. If you’re a journalism-type and like what you see, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Album review: TENGGER CAVALRY Cian Bi

Folk metal with traditional Mongolian instrumentation! I liked this record and while it isn’t perfect, it is one of the most creative pieces of music I’ve heard in some time. It’s definitely not a gimmick, but it’s definitely a must-listen for genre enthusiasts. Read.

I briefly chatted with Nature Ganganbaigal after the review published. He seems like a wonderfully kind and open person. I’m still not totally used to artists reaching out after I cover them and it’s nice to know that my writing is resonates with some of the musicians I cover enough for them to personally thank me. Just glad to have a small role in promoting this kind of music.

ALSO: From now on all album review headlines will match the Metal Injection format since that’s where all my music critiques are nowadays. Using quotations for albums is an old habit from the format my college newspaper used. Most major media outlets don’t seem to use that format so…Time to change. I’m not going back and changing the old posts. That’s too much effort. Give $5,000 to my nonexistent Patreon and I’ll do it.

Album review: Erdve’s ‘Vaitojimas’

I was struggling to find much to write about this month, especially on the music front. Kind of chose this one on a whim and…Eh, could have been worse. Of course, I just recently found two albums I am genuinely interested in covering and will be slammed with those reviews for the rest of the month. As was bound to happen. More on that later.


Just call them racists (part two?)


Last week I wrote about how President Donald Trump is a racist and argued that it was indefensible for news organizations to not factor that into their reporting.

I stand by that, but as embarrassing as having such a blatantly racist head of state is, it must be emphasized that that’s almost never the most pertinent political news of the moment. Trump and many members of his inner circle are clearly racist and generally unhinged individuals, but none of that means that they are ineffective at passing political policies. Journalists that criticize Trump or the GOP as ineffective and dysfunctional are setting a dangerous example because…It’s just wrong.

Much ado was made about the Republican Party’s inability to kill the Affordable Care Act, but where that failed, the GOP had a banner year in numerous other areas. Net neutrality is dead. Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries seemed to go into effect rather quietly in December, and now Salvadorans are also in conservatives’ crosshairs. It doesn’t take much Googling to see that throughout all of this, ICE has been busy rounding up undocumented — mostly, but it turns out the department isn’t too picky as long as you look like a Mexican — immigrants for deportation. Also, the Republican tax bill passed, and that legislation included language that targeted abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act, so…There’s also that to keep an eye on down the road.

Last week’s headlines were almost exclusively centered on Trump’s “shithole” comment, along with some news about how he had consensual sex with a porn star once. As I’m writing this list about recent Trump news, I literally just received a push alert about Trump’s physical state. He’s fat and balding. Thanks, But does any of this nonsense really matter?

Less discussed was that the Trump administration plans to allow Medicaid programs to require Medicaid recipients to be employed. This is, of course, horrifying on multiple levels. For one, it more or less states that only working men and women should be entitled to basic health care, which any remotely not-cruel person would agree should be a guaranteed right in any civilized and modern society. Furthermore, it’s a blatant dehumanization that assumes that any unemployed person is in such a state for purely selfish reasons.

Let’s hear what Kentucky — the first state in the nation to go through with this —  governor Matt Bevin has to say.

“Since the expansion of Medicaid to able-bodied people of low financial means, we have seen that number go from 20, 25, 30 and now fully a third of our population,” Bevin said in a Monday interview with PBS. “So what is it we’re looking to change is, we simply want, for those that are able to be engaged in their own health outcomes, we want them to be, because there’s dignity and self-respect that is offered to people through the ability for people to do for themselves.”

Ignoring the terrible PR-softness of PBS’s headline for that article, Bevin’s quote implies that all unemployed people lack “dignity” and “self-respect” and aren’t worthy of basic medical services is just…morally horrifying. It reminds me of when Fox News evil person Stuart Varney argued that “(poor people) have things, what they lack is a richness of spirit.

My point is that the Medicaid thing could have terrible and tangible repercussions for many Americans and is supported by vile politicos whose elitist beliefs are genuinely psychopathic. Compare this to Trump’s “shithole” comment. It was racist and stupid, yes, and quite possibly a major detriment to foreign relations with those countries, but does this compare to a fifth of the nation’s states potentially barring its poorest residents from a basic human service?

More briefly, it’s also worth noting that FISA — the United States’ disturbing program that allows for widespread domestic NSA surveillance — was extended with bipartisan support. Here’s Nancy Pelosi’s terrible statement. I don’t know anyone on either side of the political spectrum who likes the extent of the NSA’s surveillance capabilities. This should, and would hopefully have been, in a less insane news cycle, a major story. This is an issue that warrants extensive discussion, but for the sake of staying somewhat focused, let’s just note that it happened, it’s bad and coverage of it was overshadowed by pundits freaking out over the “shithole” comment.

I didn’t hear about any of these things last week, outside of some minor outrage on the Medicaid issue in my mostly far-left Twitter news bubble last week. Certainly, nobody in my newsroom was talking about these things last week. I feel like I mostly fit the Always Online stereotype, so that I didn’t hear more about these massively controversial news stories disturbs me.

Maybe it was a personal failure. Maybe I’m completely reading the journalism environment incorrectly and people are aware of these things and I’ve just been off my game in the last week. But this seems to be a recurring issue, where major news sources exhaustively cover offensive but ultimately unimportant Trump gaffes instead of the quieter, albeit deeply sinister, policy changes that are being pushed by the administration.

My point is, Trump might be a racist and unhinged person, and that should definitely factor into political reporting, but the focus should almost always be on substantive policy and things that will actually have a real impact on human beings. Publishing “shithole” on the front page of a newspaper or blaring it on TV headlines is funny and dramatic and likely to attract viewers, but from an actual journalistic standpoint, it’s essentially malpractice to emphasize the latest sensational racist gaffe over the actual policies being pushing that will likely to significant harm to ordinary American citizens.

Just call them racists

While declaring President Donald Trump’s “shithole” remark as unprecedented is debatable — this is Trump, after all, and you don’t need to be a historian to dredge up terrible quotes or policies from Nixon, Reagan and other politicos — it’s definitely the first time I’ve seen mainstream news organization publish something as crass as “shithole” uncensored.

The significance of news organizations using “shithole” uncensored and what it means for future Trump coverage is similarly debatable. I’m in the camp that thinks it was a definite good move by the industry, because it clearly and accurately showcases Trump’s blunt racism without obscuring it with hyperbole, punditry or political analysis that would ultimately dilute the fact that yes, the president of the United States is an astonishingly racist individual.

The verbatim reprinting of Trump’s comments about Haiti and African countries were good and it’s the kind of thing news media should be encouraged to do more. But beyond that, we need to perfectly cognizant about who people like Trump are, and be prepared to factor that into all manners of news reporting.

Let’s be straight: Donald Trump is a racist. This is an irrevocable fact. Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, is a racist. This is not editorializing. That’s not his only negative trait but for the sake of being concise, let’s just focus on his racism here.

This is the man who launched his presidential campaign by referring to most Mexicans as rapists and criminals. He has successfully instituted a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. He pardoned Joe Arpaio, a man who made a career out of terrorizing minorities. One of the first newsworthy acts of Trump’s life was about a federal lawsuit that accused him of racial discrimination

Donald Trump is a racist. This isn’t a new discovery, but it’s a truth that the news media has been relatively hesitant to confront. Rare to nonexistent are the mainstream news articles that directly refer to Trump as a racist.

There are plenty of Trump quotes that are referred to as “racist remarks” by third-party interviewees or pundits in news articles, but few reports directly state that Trump is a racist. The news media has no problem referring to Kim Jong-un as a dictator or Osama bin Laden as a terrorist and should have no qualms about describing Trump as a racist. The facts are no less salient.

Crucially, this is not something that should be relegated to op-eds. For one, those aren’t helpful. Secondly, Trump’s racism is fact, not opinion, and only referring to Trump as a racist in editorial pieces undermines that.

Hand-wringing about Trump’s latest racist gaffe or letting politicians with similarly repellent (but more politely masked) views write weak denouncements, both popular tactics in America’s second most popular conservative newspaper, are bad solutions. We need strong, evidence-driven reporting on Trump’s racism and reporters and editors that are willing to openly and clearly stand against bigotry.

That said, I wasn’t a fan of 2016 Huffington Post’s decision to add an angry footnote to the end of each of their hard news articles about Trump. It came off as preachy and arrogant. I don’t believe that every news article about Trump or his political party needs to blatantly note that they — in the latter’s case, a noticeable number, anyway — are racist, but it’s a truth that reporters must acknowledge and consider when reporting on the news.

I am under no illusion that factoring Trump’s racism into news reporting will sway his most hardcore supporters, but it doesn’t need to. If we provide clear, logical reporting on politicians’ most egregious traits, that will do far more to sway the quieter center-left and center-right majorities than hysterical think pieces or political analyses from detached media elites with no grasp on contemporary culture.

Alright, it’s been a bit over 24 hours since the “shithole” news broke, and my newsroom’s friendly neighborhood CNN television is still covering the controversy in breathless detail. While the the last 24 hours of CNN guest pundits have been as insufferable as usual, it absolutely must be noted that Don Lemon clearly stated that Trump is a racist. This is fantastic, and an encouraging sign that some people are willing to step up.

There’s work to be done, but news coverage of the “shithole” comment makes me cautiously optimistic about future political reporting. I hope that the last 24 hours emboldens the industry to further sink their hands into the muck and expose these monsters for who they are. Despite what some journalists think, there’s no ambiguity about these people’s beliefs, and it’s long past time to stress that.