Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars! Do you sense that? Those faint but ever rising embers of putrid hellfire? Can you feel that, underneath your feet? The unmistakable rumbles of the devil’s chord painfully calling at your wordlessly from the depths? Can you smell that? That unmistakable aroma of a Nailbomb t-shirt once used in desperation as a makeshift toilet tissue but now hurriedly discarded in shame in a Castle Donington Portaloo? You know what that is? That’s metal, son, like they used to make it in the old/Black country!
Seth Manchester joins us once again, he had quite the 2020. Except, this album actually came out in 2019. And, actually, one of his albums from part 1 was even from 2018. Whatever, I’ve had quite a 2020 belatedly realising albums that he’s produced!
OK, remember when I told you that there were so many fantastic records released this year? Well, that pretty much starts here, as Vritra’s
roughly 6’903rd record is yet another example of the unique and intoxicating talents of perhaps the least sufficiently appreciated (former??) member of Odd Future. If this is your first Vritra album, the rapping and musical styles one or two notches above clinically comatose will be sure to bewitch you for a solid half hour (do not listen to while operating heavy machinery etc), but the lack of real evolution of change of styles between records can mean a dangerous sense of disposability and lack of individual character can set in when you listen to multiple records. Like, the guy has released about three albums since that wonderful album with Wilma Archer last year that I didn’t even notice. Which, to be fair, is a docile forgetfulness that’s very on brand.
Yeah, that’s right, I review games now! Whadda ya make of that, huh!? I know what you were previously thinking. “This guy, Alex?” You mumble to yourself through bounteous saliva trigged on your thirsting lips brought on by even the mention of my name, “He’s out every night poontang pie eating, his life is all passion, pain and dragon slaying, he wouldn’t even have time to sit alone in his room covered in Doritos dust, slamming down Pepsi Maxes as he twiddles his analog sticks”. Well, guess what ladies and gentlemen? I’m even cooler than you previously thought!
Three things: Firstly, yes, I do play video games, but at a much slower and infrequent rate than, say, the lead game reviewer at IGN. My PS4 is 99% utilised as a way to explore ancient ruins and domesticate live dodos in ARK while playing online with a friend* I bought The Last of Us pt 2 the day it came out in June, and finished it roughly a week ago. It’s my game of the year because, basically, it’s the only game I had time to play this year.
(*if that friend’s reading, I’ve not forgotten that we still need to visit the grasslands in order to hunt pelt to wear to allow us to investigate the mountains, I’ll have time to get to it soon, I promise!)
Secondly, that age old stereotype that I’ve just lazily referred to is based on an archaic Boomer presumption about gamers that dates back to the 80s. Back then, playing games meant sticking 126 floppy disks into your Amstrad CPC 464 and sitting through roughly 72 hours of loading time in order to glance at perhaps an illicitly digitised cleavage in Leisure Suit Larry. Of course these people deserved to be mocked and scorned! Playing video games was purely for children and neeeeeeeeeeeeeerds back then, but now those children have grown into childish adults in a culture that strongly discourages letting go of childish things. In 2020, the average age of a video game player has been said to be as old as 35, while remaining a chief interest of actual children. Now, video games aren’t just a silly pastime for socially awkward preteens struggling with the dangerous sexual enfeeblement of puberty. Video games aren’t just now the biggest entertainment business in the world, but also capable of being legitimate and emotionally affecting pieces of art.
Thirdly, much of The Last of Us pt 2 and the critical response to it seems to still be lost in that debate of the artistic legitimacy of video games, which really shouldn’t still be an open issue. Guys, Majora’s Mask was released 20 years ago!! Many reviews get wrapped up in declaring how this is now proof that games can be considered art, that this is the (sigh) ‘Citizen Kane of video game‘, a lasting monument to the possibilities of the entire form. Then there was an even greater backlash that near unanimously declared that TLOUp2 was actually the worst thing ever, because it doesn’t work as a movie, because they didn’t like plot choices, because decisions didn’t make sense, because, seriously, who is this woman??, and many more. It has meant that what I originally considered to be a somewhat lukewarm explanation of why I liked the game, with dozens of caveats, has actually become a lot more defensive of people’s reasons for hating it that I deem illegitimate. Yeah, there was also the usual sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and transphobic nonsense, which I’m not sure I need to explain the invalidity of.
Hey, remember a few weeks ago when I basically just took far too long just to tell you that Nick Cave’s transcendent ‘Ghosteen‘ was the best album of 2019? Well, with that still fresh in your mind, I thought we should take the opportunity to kick back and…
You should all absolutely already know this by now, but Philadelphia’s Don’t do it, Neil was already a bit fucking special. Mabel Harper has long managed to combine a Weeknd-esque ability to document the seediness and pain behind revelry and intimacy with an exquisite understanding of how right these wrongs sometimes feel that can sometimes rival Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s grasp of sheer pop bliss. Her songs often sound like the building pleasure leading towards an orgasm while having sex with someone you really shouldn’t, but always with the underlying anxiety of the size of the mess you’ll have to clean up after your messy climax. This has been quite the opening paragraph, hasn’t it?
Worryingly, there were moments in the last couple of years involving suicidal thoughts and hospitalisations that might have led to the brilliant B/X album being her final record. However, Mabel managed to survive and process the experience, and today sees the release of her new album ‘I WANNA SEE WHAT DEATH IS LIKE‘, adding new perspectives on death, grief and mortality to an artist whose personal circumstances already made her one of the rarest perspectives in pop music. As soon as I heard of its release, I had to request an interview. Which meant only one thing.
The carrier pigeon
Yeah, I know, the handwriting’s terrible, but in my defence I asked my personal carrier pigeon (Twattori) to write it himself, so my hands are clean on this one. Unfortunately, Twattori did not survive the journey and so was unable to reach Philadelphia to deliver the message. He didn’t even survive long enough to leave the UK. In fact, he didn’t make it 50 metres from my window. Because I shot him. Seriously, did you see that handwriting? Mabel would never talk to me if she saw that. Christ, Twattori was such a prick wasn’t he?
So I just hit her up on Twitter. I was going to blow her mind with questions she’d never been asked before.
Firstly, and I’m sorry for being the 65’703rd person to ask you this question, but why ‘Don’t do it, Neil’?
In the movie Dead Poets Society, there was a kid named Neil who seemed pretty gay to me. Just a really sweet boy who discovered his love of acting only to have his passion ripped away from him by his father. Long story short, Neil kills himself during the climax of the movie, and it was really, really devastating to me. So “Don’t do it, Neil” means, “Don’t do it, Neil, don’t kill yourself.”
Firstly, let’s just fuck the room’s elephant in the ass and admit that there is really no deep logical point in this reissue. ‘Gold Against the Soul’ may have been released on June 21st, but that release came in 1993, and I don’t think there is a wider habit among the music industry for rereleasing albums on their 27th anniversary. This is a legitimate and gorgeously packaged celebration, yes, but the intentions of its release are simply financial- the band knows that they still have a pathetic, rabid and obsessive fanbase, who will jump at the chance to buy a lavishly packaged and expanded edition of one of the band’s less well regarded albums. Yes, including me. But let’s just stop and look at the optics here- here are the most viewed pages on the Necessary Evil blog this year:
(*fuck, I am so old. Like, properly, well-adjusted and responsible adults were born after this album was released. Your bossat work was born after ‘Gold Against the Soul’ was released! Your weird uncle Freddy’s girlfriend was born after this album was released, and she’s the oldest girlfriend he’s has since his 1998 divorce!)
This can mean only one thing: time to pander to all those pathetic Manics fans again!
Shit’s really going down, ain’t it? You know shit’s going down because some big shops are shutting down. These shops didn’t shut down during a virus that’s currently been responsible for 376’000 deaths worldwide (watch this space!!), because, seriously, fuck these people, right? But now these multimillion dollar companies that have long built their success on the suffering and oppression of others are actually losing products on a scale absolutely insignificant to their wider wealth. So this shit’s important, yeah? COVID-19 testing centres are also being shut down in some areas because, well, some people don’t deserve to be safe, do they? In 2020, you really have to earn the right to not die, and we have to make it clear that certain people don’t deserve that right, yes?
This blog has never been the place for timely, contemporary and up to the minute fresh takes. In normal circumstances, if something notable happens during the year I simply put it aside in that special part of my brain that I hope to access around December, then at the end of the year I rant about it in a blog post about my 25th best album of the year, or whatever, when every other person in the world has long stopped caring about it. Or, most likely, I’ll simply forget all about it and instead go off on a tangent about rape fantasies or utter fucking nonsense. It was all we wanted. All we needed. We were happy.
Well, COVID-19 got me doing all sorts of crazy shit that I’ve never done before- last Tuesday I ate an unsalted pistachio*- so I guess I may as well add to the insanity by commenting on something that only just happened this last week. Partly this is because a particularly obnoxious crow outside my window has woken me up at two thirty in the morning, like I’m a 15th century wheelwright working in the tower of his master’s monastery or some shit, but partly because Lana Del Rey’s 21st May Instagram postreally got under my skin. Yeah, mostly the former. Sniff, sniff, what’s that smell? Oh yeah! Precious motherfucking content!!
Yeah, I’m in a good mood, what of it? Wanna fight about it? Bring it on, I bet I’ll have you kissing me before the first punch lands, because how can you stay angry at this face?? My good mood mainly arises from three reasons. Firstly, longtime reader Beryl got in touch to tell me how she enjoyed the last post, and only made the polite suggestion that this series could be improved if it…
…incorporated more hardcore scat pornography?? Jesus fucking Christ, Beryl. Honestly, whenever I’m that close to relaxing that restraining order, you come out with something that sends us back to square one. Maybe I’m at fault here for expecting more from someone I met on the online scatological fetish dating app ‘ScatrBraind‘, but I just always assumed she was interested in the person around the fecal matter, y’know?
Anyway, the second reason is that this will definitely be the final part in this series, allowing me to abandon my blog again to return to my three real loves (masturbating, crying, and masturbating while crying. Mainly the third, if I’m being completely honest). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we are now actually into the years where I made a point of listing the best albums, so this part should be an absolute piece of piss! Look at the header of this blog- I’ve already got my best albums of 07-19 listed! I just need to copy those albums down again for this entry! It’s 8:53 now, and I’ll have all this done and dusted in time for my traditional 9am cry! Let’s do this shit!!