Thursday, October 2, 2008
If there ever was a reason for me to get of my ass and go downtown to purchase a CD, the time was now. I walked into the new "HMV" in the new Sudbury Centre and passed the cardboard sign at the entrance featuring the newest dish from Slipknot, "All Hope Is Gone". The cover is the band out in a farmer's field with their latest headgear. Oh yes, must not forget the pentagram on the cover only visible when the light shines on it in a particular way.
After recording and touring for the "Iowa" section of the Slipknot legacy members separated and went the ever-popular, side project route. Instead of Slipknot, we got Murderdolls and Stone Sour. Murderdolls fell into the typical sound common in metal today with a few standout tracks. Stone Sour exposed a mellower and cleaner side of Corey Taylor and friends who followed. The music was like the radio friendly rock heard on the hard rock radio stations with an extra edge. Mr. Taylor chose a more melodic vocal approach instead of the harsh barks and growls he was previously known for. It wasn't a surprise that Corey had vocal abilities outside of the metal howl and Stone Sour made some great songs because of it.
Bring it all back together again for Slipknot's newest album and we get a more structured Slipknot with a singer who is expressing more vocal talent. Instead of the confusion and chaos the band made their name on, they became a more sophisticated band trying to making more serious music. The individual musicianship has improved, and more came to light. So what does this all mean? When you throw this disc in you get the heavy driven sounds that brought Slipknot to life with a more thoughtful vocal approach laid over top. Some fans of the hardcore metal genre may say Slipknot is falling from their pedestal, but it's my belief they are just climbing a different tower now.
THE BONUS DVD "Nine: The Making Of: All Hope Is Gone"
Add some quirky shots of the band members wearing masks of disproportionate values of their true faces, a bit of fireworks and some "over the shoulder" views of the studio and it makes, "Nine." It does a great job of showing the bands darkened perspective of art with a combination of showing a group of guys in the studio making an album. Don't expect any of Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster" drama here, just a simple "making of" dvd, like the title says.
A typical mix of noise and percussion like the starting tracks to previous albums.
"Gematria (The Killing Name)"
Fans of the "Iowa" album are going to enjoy this number which is quite reminiscent of the work on that album. Quick blasts of percussion with some of the signature riffing they became known for. Also one of the tracks on the album where Corey remains aggressive in nature.
Double bass drumming, heavy chording with a very fast overlay. The energy of the first song continues onto this track with this familiar sounding song. Barking verses and a sung chorus.
I like the playing around with timing with this song, fast, pause, fast type stuff. There is also a pulsating drumbeat to really drive this song along. It has that "Before I Forget" kind of groove going on but dare I say the bridge after the chorus sounds a little cheesy.
This song seems to remind me more of a Stone Sour song than Slipknot. Oddly timed guitar with random squeels and very cleanly sung by Corey. All those hard rock radio stations are already queuing this one up. I'm not saying it's not a good song, in fact it's a great song. It just seemed a little too "hooky" after the previous songs. I'm not aware of how this album is being promoted but I can smell a single.
I love it. A galloping drumbeat to a some tremolo picking bringing you back to the old days of metal. It changes to some solid riffage and becomes a song that would of been a suiting bonus track for "Vol. 3: Subliminal Verses."
Very jumpy intro that demands your attention which brings you into one of the angriest tracks on the album. The song sounds like it's going through a meat grinder and if you are a fan of Slipknot, then you know this is a good thing. "Good ahead and disagree / I'm giving up again."
Dark, slow grind, weird lyrics. It will be interesting to see how this song comes across in the live format. Takes the electronics out of Slipknot and just becomes a heavy, slow, dark song.
"The Cold Black"
Enter heavy metal band with strange noises in the background with an angry singer snarling out his vocal input. Heavy, fast, rocking song. See ya in the pits for this one.
"Wherein Lies Continue"
I love this intro. A nice and thick chunky layer of riffage with Corey's signature growl.
Circle, Vermillion, Bother, Sillyworld. There's a mellower side of the craziness that becomes Slipknot and this nice little song shows it. Crooning Corey about a previous loss, some acoustic guitars with weird background noises.
"All Hope Is Gone"
The last song of the cd is title track and it is another fast paced, pulsating number which should please Slipknot's even most hardcore of fans. Speed is mandatory until the breakdown where the warning to the world is belted out, "All Hope Is Gone".
You need to pay your extra $4 to continue.
"Child of Burning Time"
Slayer-esque riffing introduction with squealchy guitars. That tribal timing kicks in a Corey's softer voice lets loose. I was kind of waiting for the heavier part that didn't come, but still an enjoyable song with a nice instrumental "rock out" for the ending.
"Vermillion Pt 2. (Bloodstone Mix)"
Another version of Vermillion. This one is very mellow with a digital backing with Taylor's singing with some extra reverb and echo. Any more versions of this song are made and the next cd could be nothing but Vermillion songs. A decent song but two versions on the last album was enough for me.
"'Til We Die"
Another slow one with some weird song effects and a guitarist who likes playing around with his fx board. It may be disappointing to the more hardcore of Slipknot fans, but it's also a song that can reach out to a newer audience.
The chaos they are known for mixed in with some newer attempts of originality and some mellow songs to ensure a little extra radio play make this album a worthy purchase. HMV sold me the bonus version for 18.99 with the the dvd and the extra songs. The standard version is 14.99 and if you are a card carrying member of the Slipknot army you might as well go with the bonus and get the extras for $4.
Corey J. McKenzie
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
1. TIME - How you make this time is up to you, but is necessary to get in that mind-frame before you start writing.that this is your "writing time". Time management isn't exactly one of my strengths, so we will stop with that.
2. ENVIRONMENT - This isn't school, so I don't care about that gum you are chewing, but your surroundings should be comfortable. I'm not saying a wooden chair and silence, but make your environment relaxing. If a little background noise is your thing, then do it, but don't overdo it. Make sure you are sitting in a position that is comfortable for you and if the writing does start to flow, you won't have to be getting up and moving around. Be comfortable, be relaxed.
3. CHANGE - Now you are sitting there ready to go and the words aren't coming out. Allow some change to your routine and things may pick up for you. If you don't plot ahead for your writing, then do some forward thinking. A thing I have found that really helps is not writing all my work in the order it appears in the book. If the next scene is a romantic scene and that isn't on my mind, I may skip up to the battle scene that may seem a little bit more suitable. Many movies aren't filmed in order and just pieced together in the editing rooms and I find this works with writing.
4. RE-READ - Brain going blank for what to write next. Go back and read the last bit you wrote and allow your mind to absorb it up and think where you were heading when you wrote that. Sometimes you will remember why you stopped writing and that great idea you had. Re-visit what you wrote last and many of the same thoughts will come back.
5. ADD SOME SPICE - Are you bored when you write? Then make some storyline changes because you are boring your readers. If it puts you to sleep writing it, chances are you only going to help your reader have a snooze too.
6. START SOMETHING DIFFERENT - "Whoa! What did he just say? Isn't that bad?" Hell no. Many people think multiple projects are bad ideas, but I disagree. You just have to do it properly. Don't combine large projects, but there is nothing wrong with poking around with some poetry or a short-story if the novel is running a little dry. Also, change your genre if you are starting a side project. If you are writing about wacky world, start a serious blog. If you write fantasy, write a horror short. In the end, that big project may take a little longer to complete, but you are still writing more often. (Note #1 - If you have deadlines, this may not work.) (Note #2 - If you start many projects, stop it! Don't overdo it.)
7. IMAGINE - Read the last paragraph of your writing, close your eyes and think about what you wrote. What is going on? Picture it, imagine it. Try and make that last scene come together in your head. What comes next?
8. EXPLORE ANOTHER MEDIUM - If you can't write, draw a picture or pick up that old guitar in the corner that has been collecting dust. While this may seem like a diversion from writing, it gets the creative juices flowing through the body. After a bit, stop what you are doing and try to go back to writing. This trick does take some focus and dedication to wanting to write or that other thing may be all you end up doing, but if you can, try it. Do something else that is creative for a bit, bring it to a halt before you are satisfied and try to write again.
9. SIT UPSIDE DOWN AND DRINK A GLASS OF WATER - Not exactly a good idea, but it was funny to suggest it. Don't be afraid to be a little silly sometimes. Moments of brilliance have came at silly times. Smiling while writing could make your work more uplifting.
10. READ If worst comes to worst, pick up a good book (may I suggest Last Rites: Divine Intervention - lol). While you are reading pay attention to the flow and make a mental note of your observations. Does your story have a good flow? A smoothly planned story is a easier to write.
Read books from other authors about writing. Terry Brooks has a fantastic book about writing and the writer's life, but the name is escaping me. Stephen King's "On Writing" is a great read and has some interesting buts about inspiration for some of his key books and eye-opening look into his writing environment and style.
--- May you wear the buttons right off your keyboard ----
The Last Rites Universe
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Is change good? Bad? Changes happen daily and they strike each and every end of the spectrum. There is changes we make and decisions that are made for us that evoke change. No matter what the source of the difference is, there is a constant fluctuation of good change and bad change.
Waking up every day to a breakfast of Barley Soup (beer a.k.a. a cold one) and then spending the day in a world of alcohol consumption isn't exactly the best lifestyle choice. If somebody was caught up in this world and was able to break free and take a different path, this a good change.
If you stand at a cemetery and look down at the casket being lowered into the hole in the earth wondering how you will continue to live your life without that special person, then you would be aware of this being a change for the worse.
Bravo to me for being able to state the obvious, but sometimes a change for the good can easily turn into a change for the bad. Hopes, dreams and aspirations that feel within grasp can easily be taken away, ripped from your hands, and leaving one walking a completely different path. Or this is the situation where one would think everything is making a change for the worse with the world crashing down around them, but the void leaves an open door for unexpected opportunity.
Change is the mighty hurricane reaching the coastal regions and smashing across the land leaving a path of destruction. It is unpredictable and unstoppable. No matter how hard somebody tries nothing ever the same. Destiny is debatable, fate is questionable, but change is one of the only things in life that is guaranteed.
Change is necessary. It causes growth. It teaches and even though sometimes it can hurt, it can also heal. Picture a world where everything stayed the same forever. If you were happy when things stayed the same forever, you would be happy forever. How about the person who is sad in a world where change doesn't exist? What about the person in pain in a world where change doesn't exist?
It's all in how we deal with what happens accepting change when it does occur and looking for the "light in the darkness" when things do take a change for the worse. The most important to remember about negative change is the possibility of a positive change can always be right around the next corner.
See you around the corner;
Corey J. McKenzie
Note - I'd like to thank Nadine Ryan Botham who suggested today's topic be "Change." If anyone else has a topic suggestion, let me know.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
THE LAST RITES UNIVERSE
- free sample of "Last Rites: Divine Intervention"
- some work by my poet friends
- links to other great books
THE WORLD OF KRAZEE BYRD
- A directory of all my on-line stuff
- Other ideas and shit like that
- A general starting area for my on-line creativity
- A new social networking site powered by Ning.
- My attempt at making music. May not be the best shit in the world, but I love to make music and I'm bound to get a decent song down eventually.
KRAZEEBYRD76'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
- My video creations.
KRAZEE BYRD'S POETRY LIBRARY
- A collection of poetry composed by myself and my poet friends.
This topic is close to my "Violence and Art" post, but it's my attempt to dive a little deeper into the relationship between the writer and what they write.
Have you ever read something that seemed a little twisted and wondered what the fuck was going through the writer's head when they wrote it? Maybe there was some sick death scene where the killer had a little bit too much fun with the dead body, or maybe something happened to a small child and it left you frustrated. Is the author sick in the head for coming up with this sickness or is there some other force at work?
I, for one, like to believe that there is something else behind it. I'll use an example from my own writing. If you are one of the fortunate few who have read my novel, "Last Rites: Divine Intervention" or if you checked out the free preview of the first few chapters (located at http://www.freewebs.com/last-rites), you would be aware of the scene where a peasant from Dwendleheim who is selling wares pertaining to the dark spirit, Ithotep, gets jumped by some of the locals. There is a sufficient beating that follows and when the peasant is unable to stand one of the assaulters urinates on him leaving him in a pool of blood and urine. Where did this crazy idea come from?
Well, the beating alone would of sufficed if my mission was to show the peasant selling evil artifacts wasn't going to be tolerated in the city. That wasn't my mission. For the story to work, this peasant had to be driven to suicide with a ritual dagger and for this he needed to be filled with rage. While the beating may of frustrated him, it wouldn't drive him to such a terrible deed, but if he wasn't beaten and "humiliated" it would drive the character towards a desire for vengeance.
These crazy scenes are, or at least should be, what moves the story along. If a villian does some terrible deed, it motivates the reader into wanting to see the destruction of this evil. In this world we live in where the news is crazier than fiction, it takes some pretty crazy shit to get peoples attention, and to hold it.
When Marilyn Manson first appeared on the music scene he relied heavily on the shock value of his content and stageshow to gain listeners. Now, if you've been paying attention to the land of music you may remember an individual named Alice Cooper. He did some crazy shit, like tearing the heads off plastic dolls, hanging himself or even a mock beheading. This enraged parents at the time and excited the youth. As time passed, these events seemed more dull, so by the time Manson came along, he really had to step it up to some sick shit to get the same effect.
Writers of the horror or any violent genres are much like Manson, where to achieve the same effect as the predecssors, the level of violence, fear, or general craziness needs to be upped. It doesn't mean these newer artists are any crazier than the previous ones, but they are simply trying to keep a genre alive and fresh with new material.
If anything, the newfound craziness is the readers fault for raising the expectation levels. (hehe)
I'm going to wrap this up with a summary of a conversation I had with a friend. He thought I was a dark person because of my poetry and my writing, so naturally I had to explain things so he didn't think I was sacrificing a goat to Satan when he left my house.
There are some people out there who are a little lost in the darkness and they seem to have trouble finding their way back to the light. Their amusement comes from dark, gory and sinister material because it gives them something to relate to. As I was working on "Divine Intervention" I came up with the idea of serving up a tasty dish to these people with hopes of giving a more positive message in the end. The audience I was aiming for wouldn't pick up a book about rainbows and butterflies to see the message in the end, but if I could (and did) write something dark enough, I could get their attention, and use the book as a means of communication to these people. Am I trying to save the world? Fuck no. BUT, if one person reads my book and gains a new perspective, then I guess I did something right.
I've always summed up my writing as a mission to find, "the light in the darkness" and it has rubbed off into my day-to-day life. Even in the darkest moments of life there is a glimmer of light somewhere waiting to be found. It may mean that sometimes I have to walk a thin line between good and evil, but one could think of it as an undercover agent in disguise to get information they seek.
I think it's necessary to look behind the initial crazy act and look deeper into the purpose that is behind it. This may seem like an obvious statement, but trust me, some people need to hear it.
Til next time;
"May you find the light in your darkness."
Friday, August 8, 2008
I think it's happened to all of us. Whether it was a part of a movie or a scene of a book, we have all reached that point where we want to turn our heads in disgust or set the book down for a moment. Sometimes it leads you to question the inspiration behind such a despicable act. Why did you have to witness what you just witnessed? Why was that information entered in your brain?
There is people who are for the violence in entertainment and many who oppose, to the point of parental or religious asking for an all out ban and protesting anything they feel is wrong. The freedom to stand out against something is a person's right, but I also believe the actions made in the form of art have their own level of justification.
Quentin Tarentino (director) explained the violence in his movies by making a comparison to a car parking and car blowing up, one of the two is just a lot more entertaining to watch. Kerry King (guitarist for Slayer) believes the evil side of things is just "cooler". These may be the reasons that make the artist sound cool, and each does have reasoning behind it, but I firmly believe it goes deeper than that.
As an author who has wrote my first dark fantasy I realized the need to create an antagonist that the reader would feel satisfied when the protagonist delivered justice in a lethal form. By coming up with the proper offensive acts and violence, I think I achieved this. It wasn't my message that violence is the right way, but if you create an antagonist who follows all of your beliefs, he's probably not going to be all that threatening in the end. I went as far to write scenes that I just wasn't comfortable with after, almost leaving an uneasiness, but I realized it was steps to getting the bigger message across.
You can create art along the form of something you love, and it can be some beautiful art and your message can be brought to others. If your message happens to be against something a little more harmful, then you need to bring this ugliness to light in the process of creating your art. The members of Black Sabbath described their lyrics as "a warning" and not as much as the band embracing the evil. To bring attention to the darkness, it had to be a topic of the lyrics.
That's the other reason why violent acts have a place in art. When people are exposed to this they talk to others about it. Even if it is a negative reaction, their is still conversation inspired by the pieces and it's possible the conversation would never of happened if the art form didn't bring the subject to light.
I think the biggest thing to me is the power of expression. When I write, or you make music, or paint, or draw, or sculpt or whatever, there has to be a level of emotion that exists amongst the art or it lacks the passion that follows greatness.
Art is one of the greatest means of expressing emotion. When I write it takes a lot of the stuff I feel inside and gets it out there. While it is nice to be able to express the happiness, I found there is a greater need to let the ugly shit rise in art and just share the happiness with others I care about. You have options of beating the hell out of something, releasing your anger in a destructive way, or the anger can be turned into art and be turned into something that can be seen in a more positive way (even though there may be some people who protest and say what you are doing is wrong).
Why let anger destroy when it can be used to create?
Save the violence for the art world and keep it out of the real world.
Turn off the fucking television and go read a book.
Be the one who decides what's right for your kids, and don't leave it to some advisory group. Take some responsibility.
Have a nice day and go kiss a loved one!
Corey J. McKenzie
The writing process is a long and torturous journey. There's many decisions to be made and many forks in the road along the way. Self-publish or send it out to a publisher with big hopes, or even seek out an agent and before you do all that you need a manuscript, and a good one at that because the competition is fierce.
I completed the rough draft of the first book in the series on December 29, 2005 at 11:09 PM. The revision process began and I finally had something I was satisfied with when I finished my final edit on January 12, 2006 at 11:30 PM. About a year passed by of trying to decide the next step and the world of dealing with an agent (more of that in upcoming entries, probably - lol). It was decided another edit was necessary and I found a great friend with lots of talent and on March 6, 2007, the final edit of the book was completed when Debra Brothers finished her edit.
The ride has been a long learning process and it is anything but done. Keep in touch and wish me luck.
Over the last little while I've taken a time-out from looking at those big name publishers and I have decided to devote some time to the upcoming world of self-publishing. What really catches my eye is the do-it-yourself freedom and the print-on-demand technology. All of this stuff has made big changes to the writer's world and has made publishing available to everyone.
Does it mean I'm giving up on my the big leagues and settling with sharing my work beside Grandma's Favorites Recipes and Little Lucy's First Book of Poetry? The right answer is the world of self-publishing means a lot more than those silly examples (and I will never give up on signing with a big name publisher).
What I've decided to go with now is a company that allows on-line distribution so I can accomplish the first step of publishing and getting it available and then the next step will be self marketing. This should be an entertaining venture and that's partially why I came back to this blog, to keep you informed on this journey.
I invite friends, family, fantasy readers and fans and anybody who has ever dreamed of seeing their work in print, to come along for the ride. It should at the least, be entertaining.
UP TO HERE
I printed off the 100,000 words I spent so long on previously and watched it bleed an ink cartridge almost completely dry before spitting out the last page. Holding a completed manuscript with a headful of dreams and asking myself, "What the fuck comes next?"
I was happy and confused and wondering what came next. I HAVE A MANUSCRIPT. Does that mean some guy from some publishing house was going to contact me and offer a contract? Of course not. What did it mean? I really didn't know. In my confusion what do you think I did? I sat back down at the computer and wrote the introduction to the next book in the series. What the hell was I thinking? What kind of crazy person decides it's a good idea to make their first novel the start of a trilogy?
I took some copies of the book and gave it to a few select friends and began digesting opinions. I'll be honest here when I say I was hoping for some negative feedback. There was some talk of grammar and such but as far as content and storyline and all that stuff, no negative feedback. I was looking for something to improve on, since I still didn't know what to do next. Last Rites: Divine Intervention, the premier novel by Corey J. McKenzie, was taking up hard drive space and it was a thick chunk of papers stacked on the side of a desk completing dust. Last Rites: Out From The Inside, the great and exciting follow-up was in the works, but I was pretty dead in the water for ideas. It had to be better than "Divine" but with no negative feedback, I had no idea where to go, except for that lingering talk of grammar and stuff.
Editing. Where in the hell would that come from? I started to look into prices and thought about getting it professionally edited and was blown away by the prices. Seriously, no offence to the editing world, but what the hell? ... ... ... But then you start thinking about the amount of work that goes into editing and it starts to make sense. I still wasn't willing to pay. It wasn't going to happen.
There was a little thing called the "Teletech Printings" about now, but that will be it's own publishing entry later probably. So...
THE BIG NAME PUBLISHING HOUSE! That's my answer. I'll hook up with them and then they will have their fancy-smancy editors go over my book and send me big fat checks in the mail. The search for a publisher began. (Just to stay with this, I'd say this is about 1 and a half ago now, maybe a little more).
As I was publisher surfing on the net I came across the New York Literary Agency. The next year and a half or so would revolve around these guys (at least my writing career did). I sent manuscript, they accepted, I got happy that the first place I sent it accepted it, I waited, they did their thing, I waited, they did their thing, they tell me I need a "critique".
Crtique - $100 or so to have some guy in California read my book and tell me what it thinks so a publisher will know if it is marketable or not.
I didn't mind this idea because I thought, here comes that negative feedback I wanted. Well, the critique comes back saying it has a catchy start, the book is marketable and it needs some editing for grammar. $100 well spent? My fucking ass.
More time passes. More steps. Sign again for another year. More time. The letter. They decide to cutback on their fiction section to focus more on their non-fiction work. Makes sense to me.
I was bummed at first, but then I figured it put the power back into my own hands. With a newfound freedom I felt really inspired and got into work on Out From The Inside (OFTI). I was poking away and ideas were forming, but the whole trilogy idea became a solid idea in my mind right around the droppage from NYLA.
Time was spent on writing OFTI with little or no focus on Divine and then there was the big timeout. I'm not getting into my personal life but when my family and social did a fucking backflip and was piledrived into the cement I stopped writing.
Blah blah blah blah, yackety smackety (does anyone else remember the Tasmanian Devil's dad on Tazmania? - that's some good OJ - lol),
Sitting on Facebook and I see an advertisement for WORDCLAY. The self-publishing ideas come real and I figure maybe once I get some sales up I got a better chance of presenting a trilogy to a big name publisher successfully.
That gets me pretty close to where we are now, with some missing gaps (some I will fill, some I won't). Til next time.
GIVE A HOOT - READ A BOOK