Archive for the ‘Metal’ Category

Falling To Pieces

Posted: 06/13/2011 in Inspiration, Love, Metal, Music

A few months back I wrote a post about some recent deaths of musicians in our local metal community. One of those fallen musicians was Nicci D. of the bay area band Falling To Pieces. I know it’s been a rough few months for the band, yet they are strong dudes, I know this for a fact. Before Nicci’s death, they had been in pre-production for their new album. Well, in their own words, here’s what they did:

 In October of 2010, Falling to Pieces began pre-production on our 3rd album. Working hard and tracking rough song ideas and vocals, we were shaping up some of our best songs to date. On November 6, 2010 our singer Nicina “Nicci D.” Acevedo was taken from us in a tragic motorcycle accident. Without hesitation we knew what we had to do. We decided to honor Nicci by going forward and finishing the album we had started with her. After tracking all of the songs in the studio, we then took her scratch vocals from pre-production and lined them up with the new recordings. We then reached out to some of Nicci’s favorite friends, local musicians and peers to guest spot on the album and without hesitation, people responded. We poured our hearts and souls into this album and backed up by some of Nicci’s favorite local and national artists, we can only hope that this album puts a smile on her face and allows her memory and legacy to echo on into eternity. Of all the albums any of us have ever been a part of… this is the one we are all most proud of.
Nicci – Even though we will never get to perform these songs live with you at the helm, we know that you will be with us for every note we play from this day forward. You will always be missed, never forgotten, and with your strength we will carry on to accomplish what we started with you. We dedicate this album to the loving memory of Nicci D. You are forever in our hearts and I hope we’ve made you proud. We love you kiddo! See you on the other side.

I am looking forward to getting my hands on this. You can hear some teasers of the new tunes here:

To be honest, I’m still torn up about Nicci’s passing. Nick, Kimo, Ruxton, and Scott…love you guys. Thanks for honoring Nicci’s memory by blessing us with this album.



Posted: 04/08/2011 in Metal, Music

For a few months now I’ve seen various friends posting status updates on Facebook and tweeting about this band called Volbeat, from Denmark. I didn’t pay much attention, as I haven’t had much time to check out new bands lately. Plus due to the fact that Volbeat seemed to carry a lot of hype, I didn’t get in any hurry to check them out. Well, I finally broke down and decided to see what the hype was about.

All I can say is HOLY SHIT. From the first couple minutes of the first track I heard (or saw a video on youtube, I don’t remember) I was diggin’ it. This band doesn’t just play music that is outside the box, they pull their boots on and kick the shit out of the box. They take a blender and toss in some metal, rockabilly, country and good old-fashioned rock-n-roll and crank it up, mixing up a musical margarita that I’m not ashamed to order, just leave out the little umbrella.

Yes, I usually listen to a lot heavier metal, but there is something about this band that’s just…it’s hard to explain. They’ve just “got it.” I hear they put on a helluva live show too, which unfortunately I missed this week. They played in my town with The Damned Things, and I wasn’t able to make it due to work. I would love to see these guys tour with Black Stone Cherry and Clutch. Not saying they are similar, but they aren’t dissimilar either, I just think that would be a killer show.

Here’s some ear-porn for ya…

Happy listening,

\m/ Metal Buddha \m/

When Death comes calling…

Posted: 11/06/2010 in Metal, Music

It has been an interesting few months in my neck of the woods. Our underground music scene has been rocked by 4 deaths of local musicians, 3 of the 4 involving vehicle accidents, and I personally knew all but one of them. I have spent some time reflecting on their lives and the loss our scene is experiencing. This feels like an epidemic, to be honest.

Makh Daniels – lead vocalist of the Bay Area metalcore band Early Graves passed away August 2, 2010 when the band was en route to a show in Reno, NV. The driver fell asleep and their tour van rolled killing Makh and injuring members of Early Graves and The Funeral Pyre. I did not know Makh, but I knew one of his bandmates. Based on what everyone has written and said about him, he was metal to the bone and a gracious man.

Randy Valdez – guitarist of the Sacramento band Colma. I used to watch Randy play when Colma was called Syphon. They were one of the first bands we saw when my girlfriend and I got involved in the local scene. Although I wasn’t very close to him, he was cool to hang out and chat with about music at shows. He was involved in a bad auto accident a couple months ago and he was taken from us way too soon.

Pasquale Zagari – guitarist of the Reno-based band Darque Carnival. My wife and I were very close with this band, staying the night at the drummer’s house when we road-tripped to Reno, and the band would stay at our house when they played here in Sacramento. Pasquale (aka Pat) was a quiet man, humble and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He had a limousine business and treated my wife and I like customers and took us around in the limo truck that had a built-in bbq, which was awesome. I miss you, Pat.

Nicci DeSoto – lead vocalist of the bay area metal band Falling To Pieces died early this morning in a motorcycle accident. She loved to ride and she loved to fuck shit up on the stage. She was one of the most amazing metal vocalists I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. She had range and versatility. Nicci could growl, scream and sing melodically, and her stage presence was perfect – the complete package.

I’m actually getting choked up as I type this and I don’t really know what to say but I had to pay tribute to honor the fallen musicians in our underground scene. The wound is still fresh from learning about Nicci’s passing this morning. We never know when death comes calling, and I know from a Buddhist perspective I should look at it through glasses of impermanence, but goddammit, this fuckin’ hurts! FOUR musicians from underground bands located within 2 hours from me (which I consider my local scene because I’ve traveled thousands of miles to watch and support these bands over the years) have been taken from us in the last 3 months, and right now, I just feel it’s not fucking fair.

Rest in peace Makh, Randy, Pasquale and Nicci. With heavy metta…\m/

Now here’s a video of Nicci D. fucking shit up at the Pine St. Bar in Livermore, CA. First song of her first show with the band. I had the pleasure of being there…


Posted: 09/03/2010 in Metal, Music, Social, Thankfulness

On September 1, 2010, I was blessed with the opportunity to see legendary thrash metal band Slayer live for the first time in my life. Now all you metalheads may be asking “WHAT?! You’ve never seen Slayer live? You can’t call yourself a dedicated metalhead!” Well, let me explain:

I grew up in a Christian home, basically born on Saturday and in church on Sunday as the saying goes. I was never allowed to listen to secular music, which was known as “the devil’s music.” When I was a tween, I heard Stryper for the first time. This was right around the time I had inherited my grandfathers guitar when he passed and got interested in playing. There was something about the sound of a distorted guitar that really spoke to me, so that’s where my love of metal started. Hair metal is not quite “metal” in the real sense, but I digress. Using Stryper as a starting point, I was able to explore heavier Christian metal bands such as Whitecross (Rex Carroll is the shit!), Believer, Deliverance, Bride, Tourniquet, etc. I found that thrash metal was the style that I liked the best. In learning to play by reading guitar magazines, I found out about a whole new world of metal. Bands like Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, and Testament really caught my interest. I ended up sneaking around to listen to these bands and watch Headbanger’s Ball and it all went downhill from there. So if my mom ever reads this…sorry mom. You never knew I was such a rebellious kid, huh? Due to this situation, I never had the chance to see any of these bands live. Although I’m still pissed at my sister to this day for sneaking out to see Type O Negative and Queensryche when we were in high school and telling me after the fact. I could have at least taken them and been a chaperon, dammit!

There are plenty of years since then that I had opportunities to go see these bands live, but the ability to follow through hasn’t happened, for time or financial reasons or whatever. Yeah, I saw Testament at a small club here in town, and that was fuckin’ awesome, but seeing them in an arena was MUCH different. When the American Carnage Tour was announced with Slayer, Megadeth and Testament coming to the arena here, I thought this might be my chance to finally see the legends live. My friend Travis contacted me in March asking if I was going, and due to my job issues, I just told him that I was hoping to have a good job to be able to buy a ticket from someone around the time of the show if they were unable to make it. Little did I know that he had already bought a bunch of tickets, including one for me. I talked about this in Metta is Metal, about how metalheads stick together. Travis demonstrated the brotherhood of metal by buying me a ticket to this show so I could experience them live for my first time. Here’s a pic of us after the show. He has a metal face on, yet I have a really goofy smile because I was so stoked to have just experienced SLAYER!

I won’t go into a full-on review of the show, because this has already turned into a long post. But I wanted to share a little bit:

I walked in while Testament was playing and it was so awesome to see Alex Skolnick up on stage with them again. Last time I saw Testament, it was during his hiatus from the band doing his jazz thing. They played my favorite song “Into The Pit” and I went nuts.

Up next was Megadeth. I’ve never been a huge fan of the band, but I’ve liked them, and there are a bunch of songs I like, so it’s all good. That lead guitar player is no Marty Friedman, but it was awesome to see David Ellefson back in the band on bass.

When Slayer got onstage, I was really excited. I hadn’t looked online for any setlists of what they’ve been playing on the tour but I was hoping to hear my favorite songs, and I was not disappointed. Toward the end of the set I got to hear “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” and they closed out the evening with “Angel of Death.”

And finally, here is a video of “Angel of Death.” Please excuse the slight shakiness, I was headbanging and singing along. And the sound sucks because it was taken with my phone.

I am very thankful to my friend for giving me this opportunity in which he demonstrated heavy metta! \m/

Meditation is Metal

Posted: 07/15/2010 in Metal, Music, Spiritual


This is part 2 in a series of posts about how I believe Buddhism is Metal.

I’m sure anyone who is reading this has at least looked for information on meditation, so I’m not going to delve into a lengthy monologue about meditation. I just want to spit-ball about how I think it relates to metal, and music in general, from my own experience.

I believe the connection involved here is “practice.” We call this spiritual journey we are on, of which meditation is one of the central aspects, a “practice.” This means that a beginning meditator has not attained the ultimate goal. Some would define the goal as enlightenment, you can define it however you want. We don’t just wake up one morning, cross our legs and breathe in and out for a half hour and immediately attain the goal. It takes time to learn the basics and practice just to learn to freakin’ breathe, and to focus on that breath. The more you do it, the more you advance into the meditations on mindfulness, loving-kindness, etc.

Learning to play metal, and music in general, is the same way. You don’t wake up one morning and watch a video on MTV, (yes, I’m referring to back when MTV had music) and see the dudes shredding on Headbangers Ball, decide you want to do it too and immediately start shredding. It takes years to learn the basics and practicing chords and scales (freakin’ scales!) to attain the level of ability it takes to play metal. Do you see a pattern here?

I would also relate meditation to playing music in front of an audience. Have you ever watched a musician play and they seem to be in a groove such that the sound that comes from their fingers is nothing short of amazing? Their eyes are closed, they appear to be in a state of samadhi, they are “in the zone.” This my friends, is meditation in my opinion. I have had the pleasure to play with other musicians where we got locked into such a groove that I felt to be in that state of consciousness, and this was way before I knew anything about meditation.

One more example would be falling out of practice. I’ve noticed that when I’m a slacker and don’t sit, I get irritable, I’m not as mindful of how I react to people, and can even be a complete douchebag. The way I handle my day-to-day experiences reminds me that I need to get my ass back on the cushion. The same thing happened when I stopped practicing guitar. My fingers wouldn’t move where I wanted to, and I lost my “chops,” which caused even more frustration and I just say “fuck it” and put the guitar down. This is how it has been for the last few years. Playing music has been on the back burner, but I’ve been inspired to pick it back up and make it a higher priority; sitting my ass back down and practicing – both meditation and guitar. The good news with meditation and metal/music is that it’s never too late to start practicing again.

And speaking of shredding…

Keep it Metal \m/

Photo credit

Metta is Metal

Posted: 07/06/2010 in Compassion, Love, Metal, Music

**Edit: This is the first of a series of posts I am attempting about how Buddhism is Metal.**

Since I began my practice less than a year ago, I have been contemplating the connection between Heavy Metal and Buddhism and wondering if it is even possible. I have been asked how I can even consider being a Buddhist while continuing to “be metal.” On the surface, Heavy Metal – the music and the identity – seem to be polar opposite of the principles of Buddhism. However, I believe there is indeed a connection between metal and metta, or loving-kindness, and I would like to share a few examples.

An outsider looking in would view the violent lyrics and aggression portrayed at metal concerts as the opposite of the love and compassion that Buddhists strive to exude. But if those that have that judgment spent any time in a moshpit, they would find a great example of compassion that happens there. Yes, there are guys and girls that are violently thrashing into each other (and unfortunately with the advent of hardcore dancing, throwing punches and karate kicks), and pushing each other around. But every single pit I have been in, if someone falls, there are two or three people there to pick the person up, dust them off,  and then get right back to it. If that is not a display of compassion or metta, then I may not understand the definitions. Usually the band playing will even instruct the crowd to “take care of each other out there, we don’t want anyone hurt.” You see, heavy metal fans are a brotherhood. They take care of each other in the pit, they buy tickets to concerts when their friends cannot afford them (case in point: I’m looking at the ticket to Slayer my friend bought me), and when they see another metalhead wearing a band shirt, a connection is made and they end up discussing favorite albums, songs and similar bands. I don’t really want to get into the discussion of lyrics, because I’m a guitar player, not a vocalist and have never paid much attention to them. My point here has more to do with heavy metal as a whole, not just one factor such as lyrics.

Another great example is something I read about one of my heroes, Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott of Pantera fame, and I will try to remember the details and sum it up here because it’s an awesome example of loving-kindness. A few years ago, Dime did an autograph signing in a music store. There was this young kid that came up with his dad to get an autograph and had told Dime he wanted to be a guitar player just like him. After talking to him, Dime took the store manager off to the side and told him to have the boy and his dad hang out for a while. Long story short, when he had signed all the autographs he told the kid to pick out any guitar in the store he wanted and Dime would buy it. I still get choked up when I think of that story, because that is true metta. Here’s a guy who has sold millions of albums and toured the world with one of the most hardcore of hardcore metal bands, and yet he displays metta in such a heartwarming way. That’s just one story of many from that guy, a true metalhead, a rockstar, yet full of metta and no ego.

Here’s another example of the metta displayed in this community of metalheads, and it is from my own experience. Another of my guitar heroes is Zakk Wylde, who played with Ozzy Osbourne for years and has his own band Black Label Society. A couple years ago, Zakk did an acoustic tour at the Hard Rock Cafe, and stopped into our local radio station. I have a friend who works for the station and I was invited to go to the show but had no idea what was in store. I met my friend at the station and not knowing Zakk was still there, followed my buddy right into the conference room where Zakk was giving a guitar lesson to a contest winner, so I had the pleasure of watching that from across the table and just being there was the coolest thing ever. Even though his tour manager and the station manager were chomping at the bit to get going, I got a couple minutes to meet him. I happened to be wearing a Pantera t-shirt, and instead of just shaking hands, this guy grabbed me in a full-on bear hug. We shared a couple quick words about our love for Dime (they were best friends), snapped a couple pictures together, got an autograph, hugged again, and they rushed him off.

These are just a few examples of how I believe a metalhead can be a Buddhist, regardless of the violent stigma attached to heavy metal music and those in the metal community. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue, as there may be other connections I have missed, and I would even like to hear if you think I’m wrong.

Metal metta to you! \m/

Journey of a Dream

Posted: 05/26/2010 in Metal, Music, Spiritual

I found out about this feature length film from Nate over at Precious Metal and I’m really looking forward to watching this. It’s a documentary about a Tibetan Refugee and Buddhist who is also in a Death Metal band called Avatara. Here’s a trailer for the film:

I can’t wait to see it!