Russell Miller

Russell Miller

Russell Miller

Russell Miller is the front-of-house/monitor engineer for Red Gate Sound & contributes reviews and an occasional snarky op-ed here at UNDERGROUND PRESS. If the music has a strong melody, a drive, or ambition chances are that it’ll have my attention. Knowledge. Follow Russell on Twitter and InstagramCheck out his tunes at SoundCloud

 RED GATE SOUND: Our Facebook | Writer/Contributor: Underground Press | Engineer/Producer: Arkayem Productions

Monday, 05 October 2015 19:27

Lindemann – Skills and Pills

lindemann skillsandpillsTill Lindemann (Rammstein) and Peter Tägtgren have combined their individual talents to bring forth a mammoth of an industrial metal collaboration.

This dynamic duo agreed to begin writing for a new project after a 2013 music festival headlined by Rammstein and after running through countless name suggestions, Lindemann was born. Tägtgren’s description of the project’s sound as “a baby between Rammstein and PAIN couldn’t have been more accurate. The two seemed destined to molest the ears of industrial metal fanatics as a team and have done just that with Lindemann’s 2015 debut, Skills and Pills.

If Lindemann’s Rammstein relation is any guide, one can safely assume a healthy dose of NSFW lyrical content… prepare thy headphones.

The album’s title track ‘Skills and Pills’ gets the ball rolling with a straight forward four-to-the-floor driven rocker and follows with ‘Ladyboy’, enough said? The draw for this album will undoubtedly have much to do with Till Lindemann’s penchant for his lyrical lewdness but there is more dimension to be had.

Tracks ‘Fat’ and ‘Home Sweet Home’ demonstrate the use of a symphonic bed for heavy riffs. ‘Cowboy’ is a standout track that is more upbeat and danceable than previous tracks on the playlist; a definite non-skipper. It should be noted that all of the songs are sung in English as opposed to Till Lindemann’s native language, German.

Big name collaborations and “super groups” often run the risk of overselling and underwhelming, such is not the case with Skills and Pills. What this album excels at is managing to not create conflict between what can often be a chaotic marriage of industrial metal mush and sheer musicality as evidenced by special edition bonus track ‘That’s My Heart.

At times the over the top nature lyrics can distract from what otherwise is a surprisingly enjoyable listen throughout. Aside from the loyal fan base of Rammstein, PAIN, and Hypocrisy already willing to lend an war, fans of Deathstars and perhaps, Deadstar Assembly have something to latch onto here.

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Wednesday, 30 September 2015 09:41

Acquisition Ex-Machina

Weeks ago, indie Hard Rock and Metal label Century Media (Devin Townsend, In This Moment, Arch Enemy) had become the latest acquisition of major recording label, Sony BMG.

Nearly 90% of the music you hear somehow has ties to the big three labels Sony, Warner Music Group, and Universal/EMI.

When one of the three makes a major move to carve out a larger slice of the pie, the others are quick to grab knives and follow suite. According to an article posted on Metalinjection.net, Century Media was Sony’s consolation prize and oh what a prize indeed. With Sony snatching Century Media up the music group solidified a delicious 33.6% share of the album market. …now that’s a lesson on buying your cake and eating it too.

Undoubtedly news of the deal stoked the rebellious anti-corporate flame of every rambunctious and angst-ridden metalhead to survive a mosh pit, but such fears are merited, right? Billboard reported that while “Sony paid about $20 million for the company”, Century retained its publishing assets and founder Robert Kampf would stay on and head Sony’s new subsidiary.

century media russel miller2While all of this looks to be a positive set of revelations, it is also a playbook maneuver that has been seen before by many. Years ago Roadrunner Records (Slipknot, NicklebackOpeth) found itself in a similar situation. The label soon saw their head honcho Cees Wessels step down, their international offices shut down and various other execs were either pushed out or left by themselves. This barrage of layoffs left Roadrunner a shell off what it was when it rose to stardom in the 90‘s and provides insight into Century’s future and the future of other labels that may meet a similar fate.

An insatiable appetite for profit that has been eating away the music industry for decades on end, takes yet another bite out of the indie pie. Century Media and its subsidiaries reportedly generate around 10 to 12 million dollars in revenue and have built up a devoted hard rock and extreme metal following. Whether or not Century goes the Roadrunner route is as up in the air as it is feared to certainly happen. One thing is certain, however, there is still some juice to squeeze out of the lemon that the industry has become.

Saturday, 08 November 2014 12:43

A Music Video's Assets

‘Sex Sells’ is one of mankind’s most well-known advertising philosophies and nowhere else is it more relevant than in Pop Culture and less specifically nearly everything on the Billboard charts.  Go ahead; tune your TV to your favourite music channel and just wait. Eventually, you’ll be inundated with bouncing butts, jiggling jugs, lusty leering eyes, and other ‘Not Safe for Work but Apparently Safe for the Living Room’ imagery…don't happen yet? Wait for it. Of course, there are the exceptions but what would the ‘boob tube’ be without, well, boobs?

On August 1st, 1981 MTV, and the end of civilization came to be by way of their airing the 'Video Killed the Radio Star’ music video by Buggles.  ‘Video’ was MTV’s first music video and a modestly cheesy 80’s new wave cut focusing on that era’s cute obsession with the evils that could accompany technology. The song itself had been in radio circulation for years in the UK and enjoyed quite a bit of success before its debut on the small screen. Becoming MTV’s opening act secured a surge of attention for the hit single and MTV executives saw dollar signs in their future. This curtains-up moment for MTV revolutionized the way record labels exposed consumers to the music of their artists.

Over the years, music has become not only more provocative and sexually charged, but painfully simple. SUNY Albany’s psychology professor Dawn R. Hobbs concluded in ‘Evolutionary Psychology’ that greater than 90% of Billboard’s top 10 songs in 2009 contained “reproductive messages” or as it is understood in the common language, sex.  As for the disintegration of the quality of music in general, there is a database of files containing information on the characteristics of thousands of songs dating back to 1955. A study of the nearly 300-gigabyte file aptly titled Million Song Dataset confirms what older generations always say, music has gotten worse. In today's "now culture", simple music is more aurally edible. Combine the simplicity of music with more and more sexual imagery and presto you get today's music industry.

 a nicki minaj miley cyrus

Music videos highlighting certain 'assets' are in abundance and there is nothing new about female artists who use their sex appeal to their advantage. For those who have trouble grasping the sad state of affairs the music industry finds itself in, look no further than Nicki Minaj and her Australian carbon copy Iggy Azalea.  Minaj's 'Anaconda' and Iggy's feature on the Jennifer Lopez single 'Booty' are perfect examples of how far our music has fallen from the days of old. Contrary to what Will Smith says, parents really do understand. Their music is better than ours, but people will still go crazy for the next sex-centric Pop sensation.

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