Sunday, November 15, 2015

Words from a survivor of the Paris Bataclan massacre

This post is being written two days after the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th, 2015. As of this writing, the official death toll is 129. Of those, at least 89 were reportedly killed inside the Bataclan concert hall, during a concert by the American rock band Eagles Of Death Metal. The band members escaped unhurt, but their merchandise manager Nick Alexander was among the fatalities.

Eagles Of Death Metal is a California band co-founded by Josh Homme, who is also a member of Queens Of The Stone Age, although Homme was not with the band on tour when these attacks occurred. In addition to the usual irony of a non-death-metal band bearing such a name -- Eagles Of Death Metal are better described as an alternative blues rock band -- it is certainly a gruesome coincidence that a band with the word "death" in their name became a part of such a tragic event.

An MSN article about the attack at the Bataclan concert is linked below. (Warning: The article and the accompanying video are disturbing).

I will continue to pray for the victims of these senseless and barbaric attacks, and I support France's military actions against the ISIS terror group, who have claimed responsibility for the attacks. I want to share these words which were posted on Facebook by a survivor of the Bataclan attack named Isobel Bowdery. (Warning: The following post is sometimes disturbing).
you never think it will happen to you. It was just a friday night at a rock show. the atmosphere was so happy and everyone was dancing and smiling. and then when the men came through the front entrance and began the shooting, we naiively believed it was all part of the show. It wasn't just a terrorist attack, it was a massacre. Dozens of people were shot right infront of me. Pools of blood filled the floor. Cries of grown men who held their girlfriends dead bodies pierced the small music venue. Futures demolished, families heartbroken. in an instant. Shocked and alone, I pretended to be dead for over an hour, lying among people who could see their loved ones motionless.. Holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry - not giving those men the fear they longed to see. I was incredibly lucky to survive. But so many didn't. The people who had been there for the exact same reasons as I - to have a fun friday night were innocent. This world is cruel. And acts like this are suppose to highlight the depravity of humans and the images of those men circuling us like vultures will haunt me for the rest of my life. The way they meticoulsy aimed at shot people around the standing area i was in the centre of without any consideration for human life. It didn't feel real. i expected any moment for someone to say it was just a nightmare. But being a survivor of this horror lets me able to shed light on the heroes. To the man who reassured me and put his life on line to try and cover my brain whilst i whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy i loved was dead, to the injured man who i had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself, to the woman who opened her doors to the survivors, to the friend who offered me shelter and went out to buy new clothes so i wouldnt have to wear this blood stained top, to all of you who have sent caring messages of support - you make me believe this world has the potential to be better. to never let this happen again. but most of this is to the 80 people who were murdered inside that venue, who weren't as lucky, who didnt get to wake up today and to all the pain that their friends and families are going through. I am so sorry. There's nothing that will fix the pain. I feel priviledged to be there for their last breaths. And truly beliving that I would join them, I promise that their last thoughts were not on the animals who caused all this. It was thinking of the people they loved. As i lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. over and over again. reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those i love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep belieivng in the good in people. to not let those men win. Last night, the lives of many were forever changed and it is up to us to be better people. to live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfil. RIP angels. You will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Armageddon with Keith Relf

The late Keith Relf – who died in 1976 from electrocution while using an improperly grounded electric guitar – was best known as the lead singer of the Yardbirds. Of course, that band is better remembered for launching the careers of guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. The last band that Relf played in before his tragic death was called Armageddon, and that band’s chief asset was also its guitarist. Unlike the future superstar guitarists who graced the Yardbirds, Armageddon guitarist Martin Pugh all but disappeared from the music business after that band's 1976 demise. Their sole album, 1975's self-titled Armageddon, is currently out of print in the U.S. It is, however, available as an import from the U.K. Esoteric label.

After the breakup of the Yardbirds, Keith Relf moved away from that band's blues rock and embraced the progressive rock genre. Relf and his fellow ex-Yardbird Jim McCarty were the original founders of Renaissance, but both of them had departed that band by the time they had achieved moderate success with singer Annie Haslam. Relf's final band Armageddon (not to be confused with a Swedish metal band of the same name) purveyed a heavier prog-rock sound, perhaps brought about by the tremendous success of Led Zeppelin (whom the Yardbirds had evolved into after Relf's departure). Armageddon's bassist was Louis Cennamo, who had played with Relf in Renaissance and with Pugh in Steamhammer (another British blues-rock outfit). The drummer was Bobby Caldwell, formerly of Captain Beyond.

Relf was a limited vocalist, possibly due to the fact that he suffered from asthma and emphysema. But his vocals mixed well with the fascinating virtuoso playing of his bandmates in Armageddon. His distant-sounding vocals on the dreamlike “Silver Tightrope” were particularly well-matched with Pugh’s guitar leads. And Relf’s harmonica playing is essential to the lengthy instrumental jam that concludes “Last Stand Before”.

The lyrics are filled with the type of fairy tale imagery that was common in progressive rock, and some of these lyrics seem like a portent of the tragic fate that awaited Relf. The hypnotic “Buzzard” uses a bird of prey to symbolize the grim specter of death, while “Silver Tightrope” describes crossing over to a more peaceful afterlife. And the eerily titled “Last Stand Before” contains the foreboding passages: “Lost a friend, Met his end way before his time…Rock and roll, moving your soul, Took a few as well…Oh Lord, do something, gotta slow it down, It’s coming on too fast, can’t take it, Feel like I’m gonna drown.” Armageddon is compelling as the last musical stand for Relf, before he lost his own life to rock and roll.

Armageddon - Armageddon

Armageddon “Armageddon” (A&M SP 4513) 1975

Track Listing:

1. Buzzard (8:16)
2. Silver Tightrope (8:23)
3. Paths and Planes and Future Gains (4:30)
4. Last Stand Before (8:23)
5. Basking In The White of the Midnight Sun
– a. Warning Comin’ On (1:02)
– b. Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun (3:07)
– c. Brother Ego (5:13)
– d. Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun (reprise) (2:02)