By Niki D’Andrea
“You’ve got an interesting package in there,” our editorial assistant tells me, as I scoop up my usual daily stack of mailings. She tells me the receptionist actually opened it before they put it in my box to make sure the package was “okay.”
As soon as I see the return address on the package, I understand: this is from Marshall “Fucking” Beck, vocalist for local metal band Rebirth, Bo Bice look-alike, and a supercilious shit-slinger at New Times who’s often accused us of not covering enough of the local metal scene.
Beck has leveled threats at and engaged in public argument with New Times food critic Michele Laudig when she was Music Editor, and former New Times columnist Brendan Joel Kelley. (Follow the trajectory of poison darts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here ).
Marshall "Fucking" Beck
The package from Beck includes a clipping on Rebirth from the March 27, 2008 issue of College Times with the following paragraphs circled:
“…His MySpace legions often came to his defense in an extended feud with the Phoenix New Times that spanned nearly a year. But Beck finally seems ready to bury the proverbial hatchet with the Valley weekly -- sort of.
“‘I actually thought about being a real prick and going down and throwing a rock through their fuckin’ front door with a Rebirth CD attached to it,’ Beck says. ‘But I was like, ‘You know what? I’m at the point where I’m a big enough fish in this fuckin’ pond that I’m not gonna go down for some stupid shit like that.’ I’m not gonna spend time in jail just for some stupid local newspaper when I already have international fucking magazines doing write-ups on me. I’m just happy that (New Times) is writing about metal now. That’s what the whole thing was about. It wasn’t about me. I just wanted them to fuckin’ step up and start paying attention to everybody, rather than emo fuckin’ bands that play one show and break up the next day.”
The story is accompanied by a photo of Beck holding a bottle of Jack Daniels, while five scantily-clad women gather around him and try to look like they sincerely wanna do him. The newspaper clipping is accompanied by a copy of the latest Rebirth CD, The Process of Obliteration, and a handwritten note from Beck:
“New Times -- Maybe when you guys learn to report the news and write as well as I make metal your shitty newspaper won’t be free. By the way the burning party went great. Your favorite local musician, Marshall Beck.”
The “burning party” Beck is referring to supposedly happened at a recent Rebirth show, when fans of the band gathered to have a bonfire with issues of Phoenix New Times as kindling. Now, I’ve yet to engage in argument with Marshall “Fucking” Beck myself, but I will say this: I am a fucking diehard metalhead, through and through. The first metal album I bought was Venom’s Black Metal, the year it came out -- 1982. I was six years-old at the time (I was a messed up kid). I was listening to Burzum and Mayhem before Burzum singer Varg Vikernes stabbed Mayhem guitarist Euronymous to death in 1993. I was listening to Sepultura before singer Max Cavalera moved to Phoenix in 1991 (he now lives less than three blocks from me). I was a member of GWAR’s stage show on their 1994 tour. I own every Iron Maiden record ever made (domestic and import) -- on vinyl. Some of the metal bands currently in heavy rotation on my iPod include Dead to Fall, Goatwhore, Dir en grey, Children of Bodom, Walls of Jericho, Yakuza, Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death, Gojira, and 3 Inches of Blood. I may not know everything about metal, but I know a lot more than jack shit, and nobody can tell me I don’t fucking love it.
As far as covering the metal bands in Phoenix (or not), I believe that our metal scene is one of the strongest music scenes we’ve got in this city, and quite possibly one of the strongest metal scenes in the country. There are a ton of talented metal bands here in the Valley, and we’ve covered several just in the past year alone: Blessedbethyname, Fracture Point, Body of Scars, Psychostick, Soulfly, Hellen, The Iris, Job for a Cowboy, Eyes Set To Kill, and Blessthefall are just a few of the fine Phoenix metal acts to which we’ve given ink. And as the Music Editor here for the past 21 months, I can definitely state that Marshall Beck and his repeated fits had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to cover those local metal bands. We covered those bands because their music kicks ass.
That said, I give kudos to Marshall Beck for getting press any way he can, even if he’s gotten more attention for his attitude than his music. But now it is finally time to review the Rebirth CD (which I made sure I listened to in its entirety -- five times), and talk about Beck’s music:
Rebirth The Process of Obliteration (Synister Empire Records) For metal fans, sometimes the purely derivative can be enjoyable -- Slipknot’s jocking of Mushroomhead and GWAR; 3 Inches of Blood’s Iron Maiden twin guitar licks and falsetto vocals; even Godsmack’s many nods (in name and sound) to Alice In Chains. But more often than not, “new” metal that sounds like old metal sucks unless the new stuff sounds better than (or at least just as good as) the old stuff it mimics. That is not the case with Valley metal band Rebirth, whose yowling power-chord guitars (lamblasted through tube amplifiers); galloping bass lines; double-bass and cymbal choke drumming; and throaty, testosterone-macho vocals sound like former Pantera singer Phil Anselmo (with half his actual range) fronting a hybrid of Helloween and Helmet, circa 1990. To be fair, there are a few great metal moments here -- “The Beast in the Heart of Man,” which employs some distorted, Deftones-esque spiraling guitars; “He of Self-Destroy,” a mostly-speed metal number that furiously chugs along and lurches around corners like a drunken battering ram; and Beck’s fierce opening scream on “Castrating the Insecure.” The production is solid, too (thanks to Mike Bollenbach at FullWell Studios), but for the most part, Rebirth sounds like a band you’d go see play live because they can pump up a mosh pit, not a band whose CD will blow you away with its musical innovation. There are lots of lyrics about walking alone, losing one’s soul, and pain -- universal themes, sure, but we’ve heard it all before.