Anyone who has tattoos knows that when you get inked, something changes inside.  You feel infused with some sort of tough, badass-ish, you-talkin'-to-ME? kinda attitude.  As for me personally, I don't cut an imposing figure, but since I am heavily tattooed, I do feel a bit tougher than I probably actually am.  Perhaps it's all of the Hollywood imagery we are exposed to featuring macho gangstas all tatted up, and we look at them and say "Yeah, I'm as tough as that guy."  Which is of course not the case, and neither is it for the guy on the screen, since he's a posh actor with tattoos drawn on.  Yet the mystique prevails.

Of course, some let it go to their head, like the guy in the picture (courtesy of this very informative blog).  In my opinion, tattoos do not make the douche but they certainly don't help their case either.    I feel that a douche is gonna be a douche no matter what, and the fact that he has tattoos may embolden him to take off his shirt even more, but that's about it.  Yet it is statistically proven that the occurrence of tattoos bears a direct correlation to the likelihood of douchebaggery. 

Even in China, this fact holds true.  It is quite rare to see someone fully tattooed up in China, but if a douchebag-inclined dude has a tattoo, you can be sure that he will show it at any opportunity.  This means wearing tank tops in cold weather, bearing one's torso with one's buddies while consuming barbeque and beer, and hanging out with skanky-looking girls so everyone knows that he's not a goody-two-shoes.  Of course, more often than not, their badge of machismo will be a bland tribal design on their shoulder or a generic dragon on the pectoral muscles.  And while I've got to give props to my comrades in ink, I can't deny the major douchebag vibe I get when I walk past these guys.  They usually stop talking and gawk when I walk past, but I don't acknowledge them.  I am proud to say that no matter what I look like, I am most certainly not a douchebag.

I am constantly on the prowl for new and exciting music, primarily of the heavy metal persuasion.  Metal is my favorite genre, but alas, it has worn out its welcome and it's rare to hear something genuinely fresh these days.  There are plenty of awesome bands out there that rock and thrash till the cows come home, but eventually, it all starts to blend together, and many attempts to create new sounds/genres fade quickly or fail outright.

However, there are bright spots on the increasingly bleak metal horizon, and I'd like to share some of my recent discoveries with you.  As an aside, I don't endorse any particular band's message or beliefs; I'm just commenting on their style and sound.


Powerwolf - Blood of the Saints

I would describe this as epic Catholic mass metal.  Yep, you read that right.  Very tight, energetic heavy/power metal, not too pretentious or virtuosic, and absolutely dripping with choirs, organs, operatic vocals, and medieval liturgical atmosphere.  If there ever was a band that would qualify to rock the Gothic off the Notre-Dame Cathedral, this is that band.


Blood Stain Child - Epsilon

Melodic death/trance metal from futuristic Japanese cyborgs!  Seriously, if you want to mosh, shake your booty, swing your hair like a maniac, or slither and gyrate like a KTV temptress, this is your drug.  Super-synthesized and effects-heavy female vocals, alongside death growls, soaring solos, blazing double bass, and enough rock and roll coolness to make a schoolgirl squeal with delight.


Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony

Mozart Metal.  This is the definitive orchestral death metal album.  This isn't death metal with symphonic/orchestral bits sprinkled here and there for atmosphere; no, my friend, the orchestra never stops.  It's part of the band, and every song is epic beyond belief.  Regular death metal will seem flimsy and decaffeinated after your ears are ravaged by this masterpiece.


Skindred - Union Black

Skindred was one of the last bands I saw in concert before I left the USA and came to China.  I'd been a fan since their debut and their reggae/dancehall/funk/punk/nu metal atomic bomb decimated the crowd.  Their latest offering is even more chock full of bounce, swagger, riddims, riffs, and mayhem.  You'll think it's 2004 all over again as you find your dreads swinging and your voice roaring in a Jamaican accent.