LIvE Reviews! • Baroness • Heidenfest • Incubate festival • Katatonia
Ayreon - Biohazard - Russian Circles - Scar The Martyr - Sepultura Ulcerate - Vista Chino - Ihsahn - Red Fang - Puscifer - Death Angel Levin Minneman Rudess - Ulcerate - Glorior Belli and Vulture Industries
EDITORIAL Gc Issue 13 Chief Editor Editorial When putting GC Issue 12 I knew we had something special on our hands, but I didn’t know how big it would become in sheer amount of views. At the moment of writing this editorial the statcounter passed the 80k (!) mark, making Issue 12 the best read GC digimag so far. It’s a very rewarding sign for all the hard work that went into creating it. Some of our more vigilant readers noticed that the wrong text was used for the Karnivool interview in the previous Issue. We strive to bring you the best product possible, so on behalf of the whole GC crew, I apologise for this mistake. As a gesture of goodwill the correct version of the Karnivool interview is included the current GC Issue. With that out the way it’s time to elaborate on what GC Issue 13 has to offer. This is actually our official One Year Anniversary Issue and it’s stuck to the brim with interviews, reviews and live reports. Our crew conducted interviews with luminaries like Ihsahn, Arjen Lucassen/Ayreon, Russian Circles, Scar The Martyr, Death Angel, Sepultura, Glorior Belli, Vulture Industries and many others. There are also live reports on Incubate, Baroness, Katatonia and Heidenfest. This month’s guest editorial is written by acclaimed writer and freelance metal journalist Neil Daniels. Also check out the Ghost Cult website for the latest news, interviews, extended articles and our ongoing series of contests to celebrate our first anniversary. This concludes my monthly piece. Have a good one and please let us know what you think of GC Issue 13 on our Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
CREW CHIEF editor Raymond Westland
senior editors Keith Chachkes Ross Baker
Content editors Noel Oxford Pete Ringmaster Angela Davey
Graphic design Yvette Blonk
Caitlin Smith, Sean Pierre-Antoine, Lynn Jordan, Lynn Smith, Omar Cordy, Dan Bond, Dan Swinhoe, John Toolan, Ian Girlie, Jodi Mullen, Christine Hager, Sannette de Groes, Jason Guest, Jonathan Keane, Emma Quinlan, Susanne Maathuis, Lorraine Lysen, Kaat van Doremalen, Matt Hinch, Mat Davies, Sean M. Palfrey, Matt Ford, Rei Nishimoto, Matthew Tilt, Laetitia Abbenes, Leticia Mooney, Chris Tippell, Sarah Worsley, Steve Tovey, Tom Saunders, James Williams, James Conway, Tim Ledin, Melissa Campbell, Falk-Hagen Bernshausen, Laurens Ruiter, Saskia Hemmen, Helena Rosendahl, Bill Haff, Tiago Moreira, Gilbert Potts, Dane Prokofiev.
contact information general enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org
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Haken â€“ The Mountain
INTERVIEWS Ayreon biohazard death angel glorior belli ihsahn karnivool levin,minnemann, rudess puscifer red fang russian circles scar the martyr sepultura ulcerate vista chino vulture industries
Live REVIEWS Baroness heidenfest incubate katatonia
Album REVIEWS Alter Brige anacondas bear blue pills cult of luna earthless fates warning ice earth katatonia korn levin
Album Of The Month Guest Editorial Records That Changed My 3 Inches Of BloodLife
Monster Magnet paradise lost puscifer sadgigacea
Guest Editorial NEIL DANIELS
ALL PENS BLAZING Neil Daniels on Metal publishing So I’ve been asked to write a guest editorial for Ghost Cult Magazine. It got me thinking about when I first started writing about rock music almost a decade ago now and how things have changed so much; not just on a professional level but also within the industry. When I started there were more specialist magazines on the market, and PR companies and labels sent out hard copies of albums but all that has changed because of the rise in power and usage of the Internet, and the increasingly tumultuous world of the record industry and how labels are cost cutting in this digital age. They have to, to survive. The fact is there isn’t any money to be made from life as a rock writer. I’ve barely made enough money from my journalist work to pay a month’s rent. God’s honest truth. That could be down to a number of reasons – maybe I’m not good enough, maybe I don’t have enough contacts, maybe my pitches aren’t quite right. Or maybe there literally isn’t any money to be made. There are probably less than 100 full time rock journalists in the UK. You’re more likely to make more money working at a fast food place than writing about rock for magazines and other media. It’s a sad state of affairs, really.
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I grew up reading and almost idolising rock writers such as Mick Wall and Malcom Dome; hence my books of rock writer interviews, All Pens Blazing (recently reprinted as Rock ‘N’ Roll Sinners). At first I didn’t pay attention to the writers because I was more focused on the artists being featured, but as I became more interested in rock criticism, I took notice of the writers and saw the same names cropping up in magazines such as Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Metal Forces, and least known publications such as Frontiers and Hard Rock. One thing I have learned is that the best articles are not necessarily written by the best writer’s but rather the most knowledgably and enthusiastic. Some of the best writing around at present is not in the mainstream magazines as you would perhaps be led to believe but rather the fanzines such as Fireworks, Powerplay and Zero Tolerance and online with guys such as Ray Van Horn, Jr at Blabbermout,h and Joshua Wood on Metal-Rules. Man, those guys know their stuff. But, of course, on the other hand the Internet has made it possible for everyone to label themselves a writer, or worse, a journalist. I always thought, maybe I’m wrong, that to be a journalist you have to have some form of qualification and/or get paid for doing it otherwise you’re not a professional, but an amateur. Even folks who post reviews on Amazon call themselves writers. Where does it end? There’s some brilliant writing to be found on many rock/metal websites but a lot of rubbish too. Bad grammar, punctuation, factual errors, lots of subjectivity and so on. It took a while for me to label myself a writer and even now I tend to call myself a rock hack. I’m just a guy who loves his music and happens to write about it. But I don’t want to sound biased because websites like Ghost Cult keep the metal alive and while magazines can only offer reviews of 100 or
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so words writers on specialist sites can write far more detailed and descriptive pieces that give a full picture of the subject featured. There are pros and cons in this game. Websites can focus on such a broad range of artists whereas magazines only have so much coverage and of course the lesser known the artist the least change there is of them being featured. I love that Classic Rock magazine has published sister rags on AOR and prog. What a great idea. It’s a major breakthrough at this time in the topsy-turvy world of music magazine publishing. The state of publishing has changed too – there’s still a readership. Just look at the amount of metal books being published in recent years. There’s been a massive boom. Bazillion Points, led by Ian Christe who wrote one of the best books on the history of metal, and a superlative book on Van Halen, does a brilliant job at bringing out metal books and of course there are titans like Martin Popoff, Malcom Dome and Joel McIver who publish so many books on rock and metal as well as other authors such as leading NWOBHM writer John Tucker just to name check just a few. Yet why is it so hard for so-called real publishers, the bigger firms, to publish books on metal? A lot of writers are going down the self-publish/print on demand route to get their writings published because “real” publishers don’t take a second glance at books on W.A.S.P. or you have to go to the small indie press to get books commissioned on the legacy artists that haven’t sold a gazillion albums. There are countless books on Metallica (I’m responsible for one of them!) and Guns N’ Roses, but what about Rob Zombie, not just a musician but also a writer and filmmaker, or even Budgie or Nazareth? I could go on and on. The stories of these bands needs to and should be told. Metal fans are some of the most well-read and knowledgeable and certainly passionate music fans out there and I think the publishers with big money that print not just books, but also magazines need to take us seriously. It’s worse in America where only Decibel and Revolver are left and so you go to the
Internet and sites like Noise Creep and Blabbermouth for news on metal and Melodicrock.com et al for news on rock. As much as I love these sites, I’m old school and love the look and feel of a magazine but with rising costs in printing and ads, magazines have to put their prices up so unless you’ve got the dough you can’t afford to buy so many magazines a month. I certainly can’t. Instead I find myself looking around book sales and in charity shops and record stores for second hand copies of magazines. I recently bought 40 issues of Kerrang! for 10p each! I’m sure there is a future for the printed magazine, but it does look bleak right now. Magazines have to turn their name into a brand and think of ways of selling their mag – award ceremonies, free CDs, special fan packs and so on. But where does that leave the fanzine? The small independently funded and run magazine that can’t afford to pay to high distributions costs to get sold in the high street stores. It’s time to get off my soap box and I guess at the end of this little rant or whatever it is, I just wanna say I think metal fans need to continue to stick together and support the magazines, the websites, the books, the writers etc because the history of our favourite genre of music should be written about. It needs to be for historical purposes. And support the artists and the festivals. I know in times of recession where most of us are skint it can be tough but wouldn’t it be great to see more band like Black Sabbath at Number 1? Even Avenged Sevenfold, a controversial band in some respects with the more seasoned metal fan, reached the top of the charts in the US and UK and give me them any day over the likes of Katy Perry or whoever else is the current Queen of Pop in the trend obsessed disposable world of modern pop music.
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GHOST CULT MAGAZINE 7
A Unified Theory Of Everything Words: Raymond Westland
It’s been four years since the last Ayreon record, but with the release of The Theory Of Everything main man Arjen Lucassen is back with a vengeance. Although less ambitious in scope than prior works, the album still retains all the classic Ayreon elements. Ghost Cult caught up with this passionate musician who was more than keen to elaborate on his latest brainchild... Last time we spoke, it was about your solo record. This time around it’s about the new Ayreon record. Whilst still being ambitious in scope, it’s also scaled-down in terms of the amounts of vocalists. Was this a deliberate choice? Yes, every Ayreon record is a reaction to its predecessor. The previous Ayreon album was completely over the top. The story behind it was very complicated, there were seventeen vocalists involved and the music was incredibly layered and it had a really massive production. Back then I already decided that the next Ayreon record would be a very different affair with a fresh storyline, a fresh cast of vocalists and a new way of doing things. I’m very pleased that everything turned out well.
The Theory Of Everything sounds very inspired and fresh. It actually reminds me of The Electric Castle.. Thank you, I’m glad to hear that. I really wanted to revisit The Electric Castle vibe and the vintage and analog sounds of 70s rock. I wasn’t interested in creating massive guitar walls, I just wanted to let people hear one man playing his guitar. Having a clear and transparent sound was very important for me. Four songs of at least 20 minutes each is a lot of information to digest in itself, so I wanted to help the listener by giving the album a very transparent mix and keeping the amount of different layers in check. The Electric Castle was actually recorded on tape and all the limitations that came with it. With Pro Tools you can make things as layered as you like. It was a real challenge for me to not to use all those possibilities (laughs).
In the four years between the previous Ayreon record
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and the current one you released a Star One album, a solo record and the Guilt Machine album. To which extent did you need those releases in order to rediscover the essense of Ayreon? I really needed to get that music out of my system. I could never do two Ayreon records shortly after each other. Recording an Ayreon album is a very fulfilling experience, but it also drains me completely both creatively and emotionally. The past eighteen months I worked almost day and night on the record. Everything has to fit in. The music and storyline need to add up, not to mention all the logistics that are involved in getting the vocalists and musicians in and out. When I’m finally done with an Ayreon album, I’m completely drained and I really need those other projects to balance myself again. Especially, working on my solo record was a great experience. It gave me the energy to embark on a whole Ayreon adventure again (laughs).
Despite the smaller cast, you managed to assemble an impressive line-up of singers with very distinctive voices, including Marco Hietela (Nightwish), Christina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and John Wetton (former King Crimson). How do you manage to get all those people aboard each time? I was really looking for vocalists with a very distinctive vocal style for The Theory Of Everything. I usually start with writing the music, which in turn inspires me to write a story. By the time the story/ concept is finished I started to think which vocalist would fit a specific part best. When I’d made my mind up which singers to use I wrote the lyrics with that specific person in mind. Names for possible vocalists came to me through a myriad different ways. Some of them sing in band that I really like, while others came recommended by fans or music journalists. The internet has certainly made it easier to get in touch with people. With the album package there will be a DVD which contains interviews with all the singers involved and also some recording footage. I’m sure this will be interesting for fans to see.
How much room do you give a singer to have their own spin on things? I like to give them as much room as they want and that’s also why I like to have singers in my own studio. Everything goes really, and if people have better ideas which really improve the overall result, I’m all for it. It’s really inspiring for me to work with such great vocalists, especially when you work together on a certain piece. It’s that kind of magic I’m after. In a way I’m a sort of director who tells actors what to do, gives them context and guides them through a
certain scene. Working with different people also requires different approaches. Some people prefer to improvise on the spot, while others benefit from closer guidance. I really like to get vocalists out of their comfort zones and let them sing in ways they never thought possible or in an entirely different musical context. When I manage to pull something off like that, it’s really the icing on the cake for me as a producer. JB (Christoffersson) from Grand Magus is a good example of this. When I approached him to sing on the record he wasn’t really up for the idea. He turned me down at least three times, but finally I managed to convince him. During the recording session he was nervous still, but when we were finished he was just elated about the result and being a part of the whole project. Of course he still sounds like JB, but entirely different from what he normally sounds like with his own band. The same thing happened with Christina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil.
Over the years you’ve worked with some very big names, but you also gave unknown talent the change to shine on your projects. Which of those do you find the most fullfilling and why? It’s really difficult for me to say whether I’m responsible for the breakthrough of someone like Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation). When she sang on The Electric Castle she was still relatively unknown, so perhaps I may have given her career a little boost. Same with Jaqueline Govaert from Krezip. She sang on one of my records before her band really broke through. However, both
ladies are very talented and I’m sure they would have made it on their own sooner or later. That’s why I invited some unknown talent to perform on the The Theory Of Everything as well. Ultimately, it’s all up to them on how they will shape their career and their gift, but it’s a nice thought that I can actually expose their talent to a Words: Omar Cordy wider audience. As a producer I have a lot of experience on how to motivate and get the best out of people. Usually singers and musicians tell me they’ve learned a lot working with me, which is a good thing to hear of course (laughs).
Finally, you’re known as quite an authority on 70s progressive rock music. Nowadays, many older bands seems to be content playing their greatest hits instead of concentrating on making new music. Camel and Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull are to recent examples of this. What are your views on this development? I’d rather hear Camel put a new record in the style of The Snow Goose and Mirage, than to see them play The Snow Goose live as they’re doing on their current tour. Having said that, it’s very difficult to make a classic record, because of the sheer multitude of new releases nowadays. It’s all about here today, gone tomorrow. Another contributing factor is the sad reality that hardly anyone buys records anymore, so investing large amounts of money in a new record is almost an exercise in futility nowadays. From a business point of view I can perfectly understand why many older bands choose to play their classics, but as a fan of the genre I’d rather hear new music.
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Only The Strong Survive Words: Omar Cordy
Nobody better appreciates the roller coaster ride that is the music industry as much as Billy Graziadei. For twenty-five years, the founding member of the band (who has never left or taken a hiatus) has seen it all and done it all as his scrappy four-piece muscled their way out of Brooklyn, New York and helped usher in an entire wave of East Coast metal in the USA. With their blend of metal, hardcore and rap, they were true innovators, who never had the million selling single or the video hit song, but they had the credibility with bands, and fans. Ghost Cult caught up with Billy at the bands’ first hometown show in sixteen years, a triumphant return indeed. Your new record, Reborn in Defiance is only available overseas legally. Yup, and if you email me I’ll send it to you!
It’s been over a year with Scott Roberts back in the band. How was the transition been for him from guitar to bass?
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I don’t know, I never asked him. We were just more concerned with the band working as a new entity. It took awhile to get over all the nervousness of it and one day it flipped, and we haven’t looked back since. The band hasn’t been this energetic, this in to it since we started. Scott likes being here and we love being here. When you like doing what you do, it’s easy to do .If you don’t like being there, its fake and people see it. Its been a long time since we had that fire that we have now.
You guys did a lot of touring and put out a record. It feels like you have something to prove, like ‘we’re not stopping we’ll do this without you’! I don’t look at it like that, I look at it like, that fires reignited. We dig it again. The four of us, we hang out. That’s that. No, he (Evan Seinfeld) quit and he left us high and dry. He did it at an important point in our career. The reunion record wasn’t even finished yet. I have no ill will towards him. I hope he finds what he’s looking for I wish him well, but he wasn’t into doing what we were doing. We’ll be doing what we do with all our heart and soul.
The last few times I’ve seen you guys, the set list has been all the old Bobby (Hambel) songs, and the new songs. Any chance of the middle-era material coming back?
Yes! (laughs) I think now that we’ve got this out of our system, ‘The Bobby era of Biohazard’. We started revisiting and jamming some stuff we haven’t played in years, and some we’ve never played in the history of the band. Like tonight we were supposed to play ‘Remember’, but somehow we skipped over it. We’ve never played it in New York.
Now that you’re playing a lot of older material is it easier or hard to come up with set lists? Going with the fact that we all love being on stage,we all look forward to the shows. Everybody wants to play their songs. Like tonight we were arguing ‘Blue Blood’, ‘Justified Violence’, and ‘Remember’. It’s like ‘cmon man, I don’t know that one or remember it.’ And I’m like ‘you’ll get tomorrow in sound check!’ Not really fighting, just shit like that over the more songs thrown in the mix, the more of an issue it is. Songs like ‘You’ve Got A Lot To Learn’, ‘These Eyes’, ‘Beaten Senseless’, ‘My Life, My Way’, ‘Kill Or Be Killed’; I’m dying to play. There are songs I don’t even remember ever playing until I listen to it. Like our friend Randy just made a video for us for ‘Uncivilization’ we’re gonna put out in a few weeks. But the more songs you have, it’s cool. I’d rather deal with what song to play, than not have enough. We’re privileged to have one-hundred and forty songs.
Is it too soon to talk about the next album? BG: We’ve been writing for the past year, and we just want to get past this short phase we’re in right now. We’ll continue writing, and release something in 2014.
You’re in LA nowadays, traitor! How is-(laughs) That’s the difference between New York: West Coast, and East Coast. West coast will be like ‘you’re from New York, cool’ and in their head, they’re ‘oh you fucking idiot’. But in New York, ‘oh you moved to California? Fucking Traitor’, right to your face. (laughs) That’s what I miss about it, the sarcasm, the sense of humor. Its fucking awesome.
How is it juggling the band and family? To not be with my kids and family is torture. To be on tour and stage with my brothers is awesome. That twenty-two hours of the day where I miss my wife and kids sucks. But if this wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t do it. It’s not financially. It’s not worth it, we’re not making a lot of money, but the artistic side, that’s what I do. I get the pleasure I need. As a musician as an artist, as a member of Biohazard, and that’s worth it.
You have a new studio out in LA, Firewater studios. How rewarding is it nurturing younger bands? I fucking love it. I creating a new thing called Biologic.me, it’s a step further than when in the studio . In the studio, I love finding bands and producing them and helping them get from one level to another. The more I do it, the more I like it. With Biolgic.me, it’s a step further. It’s a shortcut to twenty-five years of the music industry. All my experience, plus yours. That’s great, I’ve seen it since Roadrunner Records, every album had a different label. I’m sure that hasn’t been easy and created some hiccup in the band. With some fans not knowing that you’re still around. I wish we would stay with one record label. But where we are now is a good home for us (Nuclear Blast Records). So the next record is going to be on Nuclear Blast Records, worldwide. We’re going for three in a row (laughs)
With twenty-five years in , is there anybody left you haven’t toured with? Priest, Rest In Piece, Carnivore. We never toured with Megadeth or Testament. These are all metal bands, all the metal-ish hardcore bands we’ve toured with .We played festivals with Maiden but we never really toured with them. My wife and I saw them last year and they were amazing.
Speaking of Carnivore. You guys covered ‘Sex & Violence’ so perfectly. You should just play that song in New York. I know Pete Steele named you guys. Yeah, he did If it wasn’t for Pete there’d be no Biohazard. He was pivotal influence on the band in a lot of ways. We watched transformation from Carnivore to Type O Negative, and his innovation with that. I remember talking to him once and saying ‘It’s really slow, there isn’t any fast parts, what are people gonna move to?’ And he said (in a Peter Steele voice) ‘Well maybe they’ll find something new to do.’ and they did. He created something new. So it was cool to have his hand in the beginnings of the band. He suggested the name, he suggested just go by a symbol. Like how Prince did. And we were like ‘awesome!’ My father was scientist so in the summers I’d work in his lab, I always remember seeing that logo and it worked.
What’s the plan for the rest of the year? We go back out in October. we go to the UK, Ireland, pretty much western Europe, Spain etc. and that’s it. We continue working on the record
Is there any places left you haven’t toured? Dubai, there was a specific reason we couldn’t play there, I won’t go into it. I just say now we can go there. Uhm, Indonesia, and we just did China last year. It was great.
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interview Death Angel
In Dreams Of Terror Words: Ross Baker
The last three years have seen many changes in the Death Angel camp. 2010’s “Relentless Retribution” opus was the Californians first album without either of the Pepa cousins or drummer Andy Galeon, yet the ensuing two year saw them band touring tirelessly with compares like Testament and Anthrax in support of it. It was the band’s largest touring cycle for some time with fans lapping up their energetic performances. Even when discussing the turbulent line up changes which nearly crippled the Californian veterans in the past, guitarist and founding member Rob Cavestany remains an upbeat character whose mile a minute replies make him a thrilling storyteller. After such a gruelling schedule, no one expected Death Angel to make such a rapid return to action but they are back with another assault on the senses in The Dream Calls for Blood. Ghost Cult’s U.K. Editor Ross Baker quizzed Rob regarding their rapid return to action, line-up changes and the future of the Thrash Metal genre.
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Death Angel have been touring heavily since you released Relentless Retribution Tell me about what inspired you on the new album The Dream Calls For Blood and why you returned to the studio so quickly? We were so inspired by the energy of the audiences on tour. The response we received particularly when playing The Ultra-Violence material was astounding. It really lit a fire under our asses and made us hungry to get to work on this next record. We wanted to take this live energy into the studio that we got from the live shows. We came off writing the previous album to touring straight for almost three years and then went straight to the studio to record this one. We were writing songs while on tour and we felt the material was so strong we wanted to work on them right away and capture that energy on this record. I think we achieved that. We have been playing as a tight unit for three years straight. We have such a good relationship as a band now. The work almost killed us but it was worth it. We got tired of partying all the time. We kept a crazy tour schedule of playing 16 nights in a row with one day off. It gets pretty brutal so you can’t party all the time. You have to keep your sanity but we wanted to get some of the writing done on the road so that when we got home we could spend some more time with our friends and families.
This is your second album with this line up. How has the line up change altered the way the band works together? When did you decide to continue the band? It really has. The original line up of this band was amazing as we grew up together and learned to play after we went to see Kiss perform live. We started this band when we were 12 years old and of course, as you get older you will see many changes. The business aspects of the music industry fucked things up for us. It stole our innocence really. I am grateful that we started the band as kids who were playing for fun because we remember how great it is to play music. We started when we were living with our parents and now we are parents ourselves who are still running around playing heavy metal! It can be a struggle unless you are as big as Metallica to keep going. Many fans will not know how difficult it is to keep going. They assume you can live off your album sales but we have all had to struggle and work a day job in between tours. Money problems and things took their toll on us and we would have fights and argue about the stupidest things. It got ugly sometimes. We got to a point when Andy and Dennis had left the band so we were without our original drummer and bassist. At the time, we talked about giving up because we were so disheartened with everything. Andy leaving was especially hard. He is like my little brother, but when he gets upset, he brings the whole room down with him. We do not want to be one of those bands who people wish had retired years ago and carried on playing past their time. Damien and Will saved this band. If it hadn’t have worked with them there would be no Death Angel. They made us realise that we had a lot more music in us and we decided to carry on.
How have the line up changes effected Death Angel on the whole? Has this been a necessary evil or something you wish could have been avoided? We hated to see the other guys go but we could not have carried on otherwise. Damien and Will coming into Death Angel breathed new life into us. There was no arguing over one snare kit or riff like before. They are both hardworking guys who want to tour and record. The writing process is so much easier now. It is more intense, ferocious and technical these guys are lethal weapons! The original line up of this band are cousins so the line up changes were crushing and it was really hard for me to get over. Emotions were high and it left scars. Our personal relationships are still awkward. It is difficult when we get together for our kids birthdays and things like that. Unfortunately, our kids are not getting to grow up together the way we did.
Mark Osegueda produces some amazing high vocals on tracks like “Detonate”. Does he do a lot to maintain his voice? I thank the gods of metal for giving him that resilient voice. He does a lot to take care of his voice and exercises’ like crazy! He and Damien do a lot to keep in shape. On the other hand he loves his fucking gin! He drinks like a fucking fish! He is naturally a very hyperactive and likeable person. I was talking to a female friend of mine recently and she was wearing some high heels that were impossible to walk in. I told her “take the damn things off, why do you even wear them?” her reply was “Vanity prevails honey!” I guess Mark is like that. He tries to take care of his voice but he still wants to have a great time. I do have to tell him to shut up occasional (Laughs) He will be holding court with Testament and Anthrax telling stories at the top of his lungs singing “Riding On The Wind” by Judas Priest stood on a table drunk as hell but he can still get it done onstage!
How important is it to maintain the aggression in Death Angel? Is it hard to expand on your sound while also staying faithful to the genre itself? It is hard to do. We do consider very carefully, what we put on the record. I often write parts of songs and piece them together. I always choose stuff that is the most catchy and ferocious. It has to have hooks. It has to be natural. We like to bring out the raw emotion into our music. It is more important than playing fast or anything like that. We try to write for ourselves but obviously, I want to make something that sounds like Death Angel. I write a load of stuff that does not make it onto our records because it does not fit with our style. It is important to express yourself and do something different but it has to sound like Death Angel.
I understand you are a fan of acts like Suicidal Angels and Havok. What is it about these Thrash bands that you find so exciting? I love touring with these younger bands. They are so hungry and it is very inspiring. We get a kick out of trying to keep up with these guys. We are very proud of our live show and we love to show these guys we can burn them up even when we are ten times their age! We watch the other bands we tour with and acts at festivals. We don’t need fancy lights and that bullshit we take our energy to the stage.
What are you most proud of achieving with Death Angel? Other than the new album, it has to be just that we have survived. The fact that we survived these line up changes, climbed out of our own ashes and are now in a stronger place than we have ever been.
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interview Glorior Belli
Scars Worn With Pride
Words: Tiago Moreira
With five full length records and over a decade of music business experience under his belt, Glorior Belli mastermind Billy Bayou has seen his share of ups and downs. Hailing from France, one of the greatest places in the world to find exciting and challenging art, Bayou’s music blends black metal atmospherics with down-to-earth rock ‘n’ roll grit to produce a quite unique blend. He took the time to chat with Ghost Cult, and explain a few things about his personal connection to the blues, the band’s recent move to a new label, and the French black metal scene. Your new album, Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls, seems to be heading for a more pure rock ‘n’ roll vibe, showing the connection of Glorior Belli to the fundamentals of heavy music. What’s your feeling about the good old blues? We are indeed influenced by the spirit of rebellion and the almost shocking humbleness of the blues. Understand that we are capable as a black metal band of developing a certain atmosphere in our music, and we simply mix that with a non-bullshit attitude—as if music was the last thing we had left. Mixing those influences together is playing with what may seem like two opposite elements but in the end they interact and complement each other. The very first thought that comes to mind when you think about a desert, for instance, would be the heat... Yet if you go further into the reflection, you’ll realise that it can also be deadly cold at night time. Just like the blues can be devilishly attractive and hypnotizing too. It’s nothing complicated to mix up genres if you keep in mind what you’re going for in the end. I personally have a thing for Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson obviously, John Lee Hooker, also some of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s best hits—more or less all the classics. I’m really in love with a record called Negro Prison Blues. The convicts were singing over a beat they made while actually breaking rocks at the penitentiary. Primal, deep and going straight to your guts and soul. That’s how I like my blues.
Being in a band like Glorior Belli, I guess you have to deal with all those special black metal purists? Only like all the time. Internet warriors, lunatics and retards. I’m not complaining though, it can be entertaining and when I feel like I need to retreat from it, it’s easy to do so. Haven’t yet reached the point where I have to run away from paparazzia.
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Was the creative process for this new album any different when compared with previous ones? The process over the years has never changed. I’m the only one in charge of the composition in Glorior Belli, only surrounding myself with musicians for the sole purpose of playing live. As for the process itself, I feel like there’s no point telling you here how I randomly pick up my guitar and let the ideas flow in as I play some chords; it’s just something personal really. I usually start with a concept and focus on a composition theme, record a demo of all the tracks and instruments and then work around it until I consider it perfect.
What about the production? Any new and different approaches in this department? It was a little different but not much. For the very first time, I took care of absolutely everything regarding the production myself, from A to Z—meaning the recording, mixing, and all graphics, except for the front cover, which was done by Brooke Harding. I had absolute control over every single thing, just the way you like me to.
There’s a concept, lyrically speaking, that connects all the songs on this new album. What more can you tell us about it? The concept and texts are primarily inspired from the principles that rule the anti-cosmic/chaos-gnosticism; the pursuit of the absolute knowledge to free ourselves from our enslaving condition and our obsession with the ego. Ultimately, the goal is to overcome the vulgar aspects of matter, the lies imposed by the Demiurge and to set our spirits free. The lyrics are seriously beautiful and will transport the listener to a whole new level of consciousness. I’m giving people the opportunity to forge the weapons of their own liberation. May they find in their hearts the strength to do so.
You’ve been active for a good ten years now. What has changed for you as an artist in that timespan? The strings that I use for my guitar. DR, Dimebag signature bitches. Randall also sponsors me now. That’s about it really.
There are many definitions of black metal, even between the black metal artists. Do you have your own definition? I believe that black metal is one of the last, if not the last, musical
movements through which you can channel ideas, and by that I don’t mean political bullshit but metaphysical thoughts. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of black metal as a whole, there only a few bands that stand out for my personal taste: Dissection, Craft, Armagedda, Katharsis, Deathspell Omega, Arckanum, Funeral Mist, Drudkh, ... to name a few. I also have my favorite classics of the genre such as De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. In France, the black metal scene is more like individuals who mind their own business; probably some jealousy flying around the air sometimes but that’s it you know. French bands seem to be challenging to newcomers and outsiders as they have a very peculiar approach to the music, something that probably has started with our thirst for cultural revolution, freedom of speech. ‘I don’t share your opinions but I will fight and die so you can keep expressing them’. Kinda sums it all up, don’t you think?
More importantly for us, they will be releasing our new album on digipak for the first time in Glorior Belli’s career, as well as a beautiful 12’ gatefold vinyl. I could give you more reasons but really, there is no point. We have complete faith in this collaboration and if ever the idea would cross your mind that this deal was a second choice, think again. There is no better place for Glorior Belli to be at the moment.
I know that you’re looking for a bass player to help the band live. How is that going? Do you have any touring plans? A candidate has got our attention and he will meet his trial by fire in Aarhus on October 12th. Unfortunately, it is too early for me now to speak about tours and plans.
Has your music helped you to perceive Satanism in a different way? It’s the other way around. First I’ve been training my mind, and then came the music.
The band is now signed to Agonia Records. Five full-lengths on five different labels. Why the band is, apparently, always on the move? I don’t really like discussing business plans in detail, just believe that there is a reason why things happened the way they have so far. As for Agonia Records, obviously they have been growing exponentially lately, with many great releases and a couple of new signings.
Glorior Belli has been active for more than a decade. How do you look back on this already considerable road? You sure know how to make me feel old, don’t you? It’s been eleven years actually. I don’t look back, ever. I can’t afford even for just a second to take my eyes off my objective. You see, ‘Glorior Belli’ is Latin for ‘to bask in pride at times of war’. Basically it means that you have to perforn illustriously through difficult times. And difficult times we have had, but over the course of five full-length records Glorior Belli has evolved into a beast of its own. I still do things the way I used to when it all started, only now this little Satanic geek made his point.
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The Purest Form Of Art
Words: Ross Baker
One of the most inscrutable and softly spoken characters in all of metal, Vegard ‘Ihsahn’ Tvelitan made his name as the leader of a seminal black metal act before now releasing a collection of grandiose and experimental, not to mention acclaimed, solo material. Polite, articulate and focused while his band mates were being convicted for murder and arson, this virtuoso musician and husband of fifteen years was more concerned with changing the face of extreme music through bold experimentation. Ihsahn’s forthcoming fifth solo release is Das Seelenbrechen and the return of Emperor to the live arena in 2014. Ghost Cult’s Ross Baker caught up with the man himself to find out what drives this master of progressive black metal.
It has only been a year since your last album Eremita. What inspired such a rapid return to the studio? Almost immediately after finishing one album, I begin compiling ideas for the next one. After the first trilogy of albums, Eremita was a bold step but on this album, I wanted to reset the creative parameters and not fall into a formula of writing. It was exciting to record an album quite quickly to get that live vibe. It was unnerving but a very liberating experience for me.
Das Seelenbrechen translates to ‘The Breaking Of The Soul’ in English. Is there a particular story or concept behind the album? The whole point of having the German title and the tracklist of songs being atypical was a way of taking a very deliberate side step from what I have been doing. I am very inspired by people like Diamanda Galas and Scott Walker. Their music is much more intuitive, expressive and open to interpretation. Metal these days is too much about editing and polishing everything. I felt the need to do something vaguer and abstract, straight from the soul. The album title is taken from a Nietzsche aphorism where he talks about the purest form of art. It is the only Nietzsche reference on the album but it expresses the feeling I experience when creating this music. All music lovers will realise that feeling when they listen to a piece that mirrors how they feel. It fits with the improvisational feel of the record. Creating the purest form of art is also one of the driving forces in my own life.
Why have you chosen to explore more progressive sounds in your solo career? Did you ever feel restricted by Emperor in the sense that some fans would only accept heavy Black Metal from you?
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than a ‘best of’ set list. I feel we will perform the songs authentically and with 100% conviction because people would notice the difference. Our fans would know if we were trying to fool them. Why have you decided to not produce another Emperor album?
At the end of Emperor, I felt restricted by people’s opinions of what the band should and should not be. We were writing as a band on the first album but ‘Prometheus...’ was composed by me alone. I was restricted by the parameters of what my band mates would stand behind and consequently I found my place was in a solo venture as my musical ego is too big to cope with that! (laughs). I think I am easygoing in all parts of life except for my music. The only person who has any influence on my work now is my wife. She is my sparring partner in many ways. She will tell me when I am on the right track. You have spoken of your wife Heidi as your ‘musical sparring partner’. What does she bring to your writing process? She is very practical and has this sense of quality not just within music. She provides an objective view and helps me find what I am after. If I have a song that I was working on e.g. my ‘After’ album that had many clean vocal parts, she told me, it was very cheesy and too sweet so she suggested I have a saxophone part there instead of a vocal line. That song became my favourite moment on the record. She helps record my vocals and we discuss all my ideas before I start writing an album. She helps me realise the direction I want my records to take. You have chosen to reform Emperor again for the 20th Anniversary of In The Nightside Eclipse why did you agree to this when you have refused to do any shows since 2006? The 20th anniversary was the sole reason we wanted to do this. It seemed an appropriate way to celebrate our legacy. There have always been offers for us to do something but we turned them down flat. I have been very reluctant to do stuff like this because I wanted to give my own music a chance. I want to be very clear that my solo work is priority now. That is why I waited to record three albums before I did live shows because I did not want to mix in Emperor songs with my material. I wanted to be a 100% solo artist and it would be fooling my audience and me if I presented my new music as second best to the songs I wrote as a teenager. I feel my best is yet to come and I was not interested in the cliché of just playing the old classics. I am still young and have a few years in me left. I am proud to mark the occasion of the anniversary and celebrate the starting point for us. It made more sense to do this
We want to be very clear about this. There will never be another Emperor album. The solo work is not a fling; it is the most important thing for me now. The reason there will not be a new Emperor record is that I do my best work as a solo artist. The end of Emperor was when I came to that conclusion. In practical terms Prometheus... was my first solo record. There was an open door for the others to pitch in material; I play more instruments on that one than I do on some of my solo albums. This is with no disrespect to the other guys but if you listen to my stuff or Zylkon or The Wretched End they are very different in direction. If it were up to me, Emperor would sound like I do now. This is how I write metal. The duality of my work with Samoth worked so well for so many years but I feel it has played its part. In addition, many fans would expect different things from an Emperor album in 2013. If I genuinely thought we, could get together and sparks would fly I would do that in a heartbeat but it would mean many compromises because I would want things to be more experimental. You would never have an Emperor album with saxophone on it! The line up for these shows will feature your original drummer Bard ‘Faust’ Eithun. Have you decided on the bass player for the live shows? It will be Secthdamon (Tone Ingebrigtsen) on bass and Einar (Solberg) on keys. The reason we choose Secthdamon rather than Mortiis was that Secthdamon joined when we became a more serious band. Mortiis came into the band when his bass parts were already written so he had very little input in the direction the music took. He even left before that album came out so his involvement was very small. Das Seelenbrechen takes its name from Nietzsche’s famed ‘Human, All Too Human: A Book Of Free Spirits’ You have referenced Nietzsche as far back as ‘Thus Spake The Nightspirit’. What fascinates you about him? ‘Thus Spake The Nightspirit’ was written when I had only discovered Nietzsche. I shied away from his work for a while when people started telling me he was a political figure. I did not like the ideas he had been associated with. He hated everything about fascism. Having Leprous as your backing band has clearly paid off in terms of how cohesive the lineup is live. Will that be a permanent arrangement? I hope so. Tobias has been inspiring and can relate to playing the more freeform stuff. It’s a win-win for both of us. I get a great backing band and they get more exposure. Einar (keys, vocals) is my brother-in-law and both the guitar players are students of mine. I just give them the score for songs and when I come to rehearsals, we work the magic. Whether this will continue or not depends on if this continues to work. Promoters also get two bands for the price of one!
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interview Vista Chino
Desert Rock Lifers Words: Rei Nishimoto
The legacy of popular desert rockers Kyuss spans nearly 25 years and attracted a vast audience for its distinctive riff oriented sound. From songs such as ‘Thumb’, ‘Green Machine’, and ‘One Inch Man’, it all featured a style that is distinctively made in the desert. In 2010, band front man John Garcia did a European ‘Garcia Does Kyuss tour’, sparking renewed interest in the band since their untimely demise in 1995. Drummer Brant Bjork and bassist Nick Oliveri both jumped on stage and did ‘Green Machine’ and ‘Gardenia’ with Garcia. This appearance led to a Kyuss Lives! tour in Europe later that same year and leading throughout 2011 across the globe. Following that moment, former members, guitarist Josh Homme and bassist Scott Reeder filed a trademark infringement lawsuit. After the lawsuit stopped them from using the Kyuss Lives! name to record a full length release, Garcia and Bjork revamped under the Vista Chino moniker and recorded their newest release, Peace. Garcia spoke to Ghost Cult Magazine about the lawsuit, restarting as Vista Chino, having new members and life in the desert.
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You put on a killer set in Los Angeles. How did you feel about the show? It was a fun night. I always enjoy playing LA. It’s our hometown so to speak. Thank you. I appreciate that.
How does it feel to finally get the Vista Chino chapter of your life going after everything that’s happened? It feels really good. What a relief. It was a long hard road, and what it comes down to is the record. That’s why we’re here and it felt good to have a nice, fresh, new beginning and start. As you can imagine, it was welcomed and it feels good.
After what’s happened this past year, was it more frustration on your part over what Josh and Scott did, or was it disappointment with the way this whole thing unfolded? It was both and extends that to super broad spectrums. It was a bummer. Nobody wants a lawsuit against them. It’s like somebody poking a stick at you. It was a major bummer for me and my family. Again, how awesome to have a fresh new beginning and moving forward. It was necessary. All of that doesn’t deserve the word secondary, because it truly is bullshit. What it comes down to is the record Peace, and that’s what we want, and that’s what we have now. It feels really good.
Were the songs on Peace songs you had brewing before the legal mess began?
Who came up with the name Vista Chino?
I started getting into empty rooms with Brant and Bruno about the time of the beginning of the lawsuit. But it became to a screeching halt once we found that Josh and Scott were suing us. Instead of being in the studio and writing where we wanted to be, we had to do depositions. The appropriate verbiage is everything came to a screeching halt. We had to hold off and jump through some hoops to get to Brant’s studio up in Joshua Tree, where we recorded it. It was a long, hard road, but we eventually got there. When you have a void and it needs to be filled, you will find a way, no matter what you’re going through in life. It’s a necessity and that’s what we did.
Vista Chino is a street in Palm Springs. We’re very proud of where we come from. Even in Kyuss, it was a big part of who the band was and we’re very proud of not being from Los Angeles. Nothing against LA…although it’s two hours away, it’s still very alienated from that scene and what the city is. When Brant came up with that name, it immediately resonated with me because it was home. As well as the artwork, it’s desert graffiti from where we’re from. The day farmers are very much where we’re from. The name resonates with us and it makes perfect sense.
What do you think makes Palm Springs so magical? Prior to Kyuss, most people’s connection to Palm Springs was Frank Sinatra.
Brant produced the record? Brant Bjork produced the record. I think he did a great job.
What was it about him producing the record? What did he bring to Peace? You had Chris Goss produce for a long time in the old days. We thought about Chris Goss and Joe Barresi, and a few other producers. We knew what we wanted. It’s not like we’re in our late teens and 20s going through the emotions of capturing that live sound onto tape. We needed somebody to get us there. They were the perfect conduit – Chris and Joe Barresi. But after being in the music business for so many years, you know what you want to sound like, what you want to hear, and what you want to feel. We thought we should very well to do it ourselves. I told Brant to get us there. Everything that you hear on the record was meant to sound as you hear it. If you hear an overdriven distorted vocal line, that’s meant to be there. Find that and exploring that is where the real fun comes in. It’s finding that one particular take and one particular sound that marry well with the guitar, bass and drums, and the rattling in between. After that, it goes into the gambling moose. That was meant to be there. The amount of trust Brant put in me to sing some of his melodies and lyrics, and the amount of trust I put in Brant as a producer into this was equally as heavy. It goes back to the trust thing. I trusted him, he trusted me, we all trusted each other. Not being in the environment for over 15 years and having Bruno [Fevery] in the mix, and having Nick [Oliveri] come in and Mike Dean. Even Brant played bass on this. It was an experience.
Yeah you’re right! Frank and everyone in The Rat Pack used to frequent out here all the time. Even Humphrey Bogart to Marilyn Monroe all used to come and hang out. There’s Old Palm Springs which is awesome. I love going to where Frank used to hang out and listen to that type of music. Either people get the desert or they don’t get the desert. They come out here and say ‘what’s so magical about this place?’ They see nothing but barren, lifeless death. There’s nothing here. There’s that mentality and there’s people who get the desert. Being born and raised in the desert, I see nothing but life. When I drive through Death Valley, a lot of people see nothing but baroness and death. I see so much life and there’s a certain beauty about the desert, and a certain feeling and emotion that resonates with me. I once moved to Los Angeles for a veterinary diagnostic career, which I was and still am into. I immediately knew I made a mistake. We kept our home out here and I spent about a year out there to finish my commitment. Upon moving back to the desert, what a sigh of relief came over me. I’m not one to say that I go out to the desert, eat a bunch of peyote and turn into the shamanistic Jim Morrison guy. I’m not like that. I’m not a poet. For me to articulate how the desert makes me feel or what’s so special about the desert, there’s only one person who could articulate it better than me – his name is John C Van Dyke and you could pick up his book, appropriately titled The Desert back in the early 1900s. Him and his mule explored the desert from Southern Colorado down to New Mexico and Arizona and spent a lot of time in Death Valley. He put the desert into words that I’m still trying to define in my head.
On bass you have Mike Dean. How did he get into the mix considering he’s in Corrosion of Conformity? When Brant and I knew we had to find a replacement, I told him who was at the top of my wish list and he told me who was at the top of his wish list, and we talked about it. Mike Dean was a perfect match. Luckily he said yes. Brant Bjork, more than me, was a massive C.O.C. fan. He used to draw pictures of Mike Dean on his Pee Chee folder back in high school when I was sitting with him in detention for crying out loud. So it was very clear that we should go with Mike and we’re very lucky. I can’t talk highly enough about that guy. He’s super intelligent and a pretty melodic bass player.
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interview Tony Levin
More Of A Student Than A Teacher. Words: Keith Chachkes
Tony Levin is the dean of progressive rock bassists. In his storied career he has been most closely associated with Peter Gabriel, and his smash success of the mid-1980s. As one of the most innovative players ever, Tony has also been aligned King Crimson, as well as other musical luminaries. Tony just added one more feather to his musical cap with his stunning collaboration with Marco Minnemann and Jordan Rudess in their eponymous band. With their debut album they are rewriting progressive music history, and once again Tony is front, center and way down low. Ghost Cult caught up with the venerable Mr. Levin via email, while he is on tour in Europe. Please tell us how Levin Minnemann Rudess came together to make this album? The idea started with producer Scott Schorr coming to me to do another ‘project’ recording, with some of my favorite musicians. I’d done one a year ago with Alan White and David Torn, that got some nice attention from the progressive rock fans. So, I chose Marco (whom I’d toured with a bit, in Eddie Jobson’s UKZ band) and Jordan Rudess (from Dream Theater, and we’d done two Liquid Tension Experiment albums together) as a couple of wild players… and I was ready to be surprised by the outcome.
What was the writing process like? Was it more improvisational, or did you all come in with some pieces to work on? Usually, in this situation, you start out doing some jams, and then use them, or write around them. This time though we started with composing sections, first I did, then Marco -- and before long, we had more material than could fit on the CD, and it was GOOD stuff. So though Jordan and I did some jamming, intending to add Marco later, that couldn’t make it onto the record (we did include the video of it in the Deluxe Edition with DVD.) The important thing to me isn’t how the pieces are formed, it’s the quality of what you end with -- I’ve been in other situations where
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jams led to great tracks -- so I’m really happy with this release that I still enjoy listening to all the tracks, and will for some time. Like much of your work, the bass is equally a lead and supporting instrument on this album. Do you work out some of you more solo-y parts ahead of time or did you record them live on the spot? Different on different pieces. Some of the stuff I wrote had bass or Stick (or cello) featured in some of the sections -- never all of them, because it’s important to me to leave room for the other guys to add their own flavor to the piece.) On other pieces, instigated by Marco, there were bass ideas of his, that I just copied, or a little space for me to come up with something. I’m okay with the bass being both supporting and lead on the album, but it’s not important to me that it take the lead - just that the level of the music is high, and that my bass playing supports what the band and the compositions are about.
I love the classic sound of the LMR band as a power trio. Marco played guitar on the album, so any thought to adding someone for future live dates or for a next album? Good point -- the guitar added a lot. We have no plans for a tour right now (because we’re all very booked up with other tours!) But we’re hoping there will be a follow up album before long, and that we’ll tour when that comes out. Whether we’ll add another player for that tour will be decided when the time comes.
Since you are already working with Jordan again, is there any chance you will do another Liquid Tension Experiment album someday, or is that off the table since Mike split with John and Dream Theater? We’ve got no plans for that - haven’t discussed it even -- but using your metaphor of the table, I wouldn’t take any creative music ideas off the table… let’s keep them all there, and hope they come alive.
You were really on the forefront of blogging and social media from the music world. What about that medium is the thing that is most valuable to you as an artist? I discovered back in the 90’s that on my website I could let music fans see what it’s like behind the scenes on a Peter Gabriel or King Crimson tour -- even showing them my photos of themselves -- the audience -- which I try to shoot at each show.
When LMR eventually plays live, do you envision the songs being performed more freely for experimentation? Wow, you’re good at thinking off into the future -- we haven’t discussed that at all. I know I love improv - whether it’s completely free form, or based on themes - so my vote will be to do some.
I didn’t know you played the cello! What other instruments are lurking around your home studio that may show up on an album someday that would surprise your fans? I have lots of basses, and a couple of Chapman Sticks, all in my studio, but aside from the electric cello, that’s about it -- those are more than enough to keep this bass player challenged!
You have played on countless, classic albums. Do you have an album, or a particular era of a band you consider among your finest work?
Since then, progress in digital cameras in web speed has allowed much bigger photos than I started with, but what’s remained the same is the great opportunity to take down some of that wall that exists between performers and their audience. Nowadays social media have blasted the wall down - so it’s not a radical idea for bands to communicate with their fans.
I know you are hitting the road now with Peter Gabriel soon. When can we expect some LMR dates to pop up? This tour with Peter will only be for a month - but next year is looking pretty busy for me -- pretty soon we’ll put our heads together and choose a schedule for the next recording period. Right now, we’re just basking in the new record, how much we like it, and how great the reception has been so far, from the people who are hearing it. What advice can you give to a young musician starting out on bass or the stick?
No, I don’t. I don’t spend much time thinking back on what albums I’ve done (usually only when doing interviews, in fact!) And I’m also not big on picking favorites… of albums or bands or players. I have a lot of respect for all the players, and artists, and albums that have moved me with their music -- whatever the style of it. That’s where a lot of the inspiration comes to me to try to make my own playing and writing as creative and progressive as I can.
I’m not a great advice guy… more of a student than a teacher. I guess I’d just speak from my own experience, and say that having the chance to play music, with cool players, and sometimes whatever music you want to play - it’s a really special thing. I’ve appreciated it more and more as the years have gone by. You get focused on how many people came to the show, or how many cd’s you sold - but it’s worth keeping in mind how lucky you are to just be doing it, if even for yourself.
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interview Puscifer Facilitating Interpretations of Brilliance Words: Keith Chachkes
In genetics, mutation is said to have neutral, positive and negative effects. Mutation is necessary for the evolutionary process of beings. A mutation is also said to be a permanent change, often radically altering what was, to create what will be. In music, artists often give life to songs, and once they are recorded, they vary little from that ‘final version’ the artist and their audience grows accustomed to. For the project known as Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan prefers to release new music and then reimagine the songs into other states, also sometimes yielding radical results. Ghost Cult caught up with one of the main conspirators of the band, Mat Mitchell, about the bands’ new album All Re-mixed Up (Puscifer Entertainment). All Remixed Up takes up the challenge revisiting the entire Conditions of My Parole album and creating something new and different.
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What was the genesis of All Remixed Up, following Conditions of My Parole? We really enjoy working with other artists and getting other people’s take on what we do. It’s a really easy medium to work with other people. It was something we had planned on doing when we were writing the record. It was something that was on our mind. It just took us a little while to move forward, and actually sit down and do it and for the remix record to come out. I think the timing is good because a lot of people have gotten to see these shows live now and are more familiar with that album. So I think the timing is good for new interpretation, and fresh versions of those songs for people to be out there too.
How did you approach your track ‘Monsters (Deconstruct)’ and re-mixing in general? The approach is different, depending on the song. In the case of ‘Monsters’ I kind of wanted to maintain somewhat of the feel, but change it, so when you hear where it sounds the same, but you are not sure what is different. And in some instances I will completely totally deconstruct a song and rebuild it completely different, and changing the emotion, changing the instrumentation to really change the feel of the song. It really depends on the song and how that inspires me to change it. For that one specifically, I wanted to change the feel of that one, but I don’t know, make it different.
Did you have a hand in selecting the other re-mixers? I definitely had some involvement in helping pick (the other remixes). A lot of these artists or friends of friends of the group. A lot of these folks, whether it is a rap band or a rock band, are usually just one degree between most of the bands out there. One thing that was my responsibility here was who I thought would be a really good person to of a remix for this song or that one. And in terms of someone like Sir-Mix-A-Lot; the curve ball on the record was ‘Conditions’, and it seemed like the perfect fit for him to do that one.
The most standout track to me is Carina Rounds’ take on ‘Telling Ghosts (Giorgia O`Queef Mix)’ She’s very accomplished and has done so much as an artist. One thing she really hasn’t done was any kind of remix stuff. She was apprehensive at first going into it, but we talked through it and she did it, and of course the result is not surprising. It’s amazing! I can’t stress enough just how creative she is. Anything that she does is going to be great.
It is pretty ambitious to take apart an entire album and put it back together, isn’t it? Well, when you are handing it off to different people, it makes the job a lot easier. We facilitate and let the artists just handle every track. We thought it would be cool to take an album that has a story, has a mood; and break it apart. Then distribute it out to different people. Give it out to other people and see what they comeback with. You going to have the same track list and maintain the running order, if you are familiar with the album. You will get the same story, the same flow, but have a very different experience. It’s great for us to put it out there and see of people respond to us. I think it’s great to see how that works.
Regarding your career, what circle of your work led you to Puscifer and working with Maynard? I was a musician growing up, by trade. Obviously, I wasn’t making the kind of living I was going to be happy with, just being a musician. You just did what you have to do to be comfortable. I wasn’t really happy with the money I was making, just as a musician. So I started doing more production stuff, soundtrack stuff, and video game and movie stuff. Opening myself up to those different facets really helped build my skill-set and allowed me to think differently about things. Because whether you are doing music or video games, the craft is affected by that. Then one of things I was doing was, I had done some video work from a tour, and then I had been recommend from that, to work with Billy Howerdel on a live tour for their second album. When I started working with those guys, that’s how Maynard and I met, and the rest is history.
How do you manage your schedule and expectations for work, when your boss is all over the place with projects? One thing he (Maynard) is really great at is he is a great multitasker! He doesn’t have one foot in one thing, and one foot in another. He knows what he wants to do, and get it on to a schedule, on to a calendar. Right now he is ‘in crush’: he’s busy with wine stuff. So we know we are not going to be touring. I don’t know how better to explain it. We are all pretty open with what we want to get accomplished. We make our schedules work around that, and what we want to accomplish, and make it work around that.
The Re-mix album came on the heels of the Donkey Punch the Night EP. I think those two new tracks on that album were over looked a bit and are quite good. Those were ideas we have been nursing a little bit while we were touring the Conditions... album. They weren’t extra tracks from the Conditions album, they were brand new songs. We wanted to put something out. A couple of ideas and a couple of covers and that is it. The ‘Bohemian...’ thing (‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ cover) was something Maynard has been threatening us with for quite some time. We came to the realization that this wasn’t going to go away for us. So we wanted to buckle down and do it, and make it as great as we could make it. Like you said, it is normal for us to do the remixing thing. We like to think that it is normal for us that if we want to put out an EP or a full- length, we can do it.
Is it daunting to take on a song like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, as such an iconic song? Absolutely. It’s not just a song. It’s epic in the arrangement. In the instrumentation. In every facet, it’s daunting. We made the right idea to try to keep it as accurate as we could. It seemed like the right thing for us to do for that song. Whereas with ‘Balls to the Wall’, we changed it quite a bit. But ‘Bohemian’ just felt right to keep it and I think it was more of a challenge for us to keep it to the original. One of the things we were thinking about it while we were tracking it. These guys had to write and record this thing; we only needed to record it. All we had to do was a cover of it, and technically and creatively it was a fun exercise. I’m glad we did it and I’m happy with the result.
What’s next on the horizon for you and Puscifer? We are working on a few things. A few different projects. I don’t know if you heard the little teaser, Matt (McJunkins) and Jeff (Friedl) from Puscifer, and from a few other things, are working on a project called Beta Machine. I’m helping those guys out with that. We’re all getting really excited about that. And I’m kind of helping with that. And there is a couple of new things that I can’t mention, but are really exciting. And there is some other Puscifer stuff I can’t get into right now, with a few new things coming out, but we are not ready to announce.
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Whales And Leeches Words: Tiago Moreira
One of the most fun and exciting bands in the planet is back. Whales and Leeches is the new album of the American quartet from Portaland and the record that probably will change the game for the band itself, putting Red Fang in the elite. We have the pleasure to talk with vocalist/ bassist Aaron Beam about these exciting times. There was two years of intense touring schedule. What’s, in your opinion, the impact of that in this new album? The biggest impact was that we didn’t have any time to write while we were on the road, so it meant that we had to schedule time to write this new album. It has like writing on demand with a lot more pressure to write. I feel like the record is more frantic and maybe more anxious than it would been if we had more time to take and we could do it in a more slow pace.
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It felt good to have that kind of pressure? Yeah, I think it was good. I think it made for a more exciting and dynamic record. I guess the other impact that it had is that after touring so much we just gotten a lot more confident in our music abilities, specially Brian and I, we feel more confident singing. We do some things that wouldn’t have the guts to do before this intense touring.
This new record it’s a huge step in Red Fang’s history. Do you think maturity plays a big role on it? It’s hard to say. [laughs] I hesitate answer that one because we have this reputation of being immature. I think that’s the natural progression of any band. The longer you are together, the more comfortable you feel and it becomes easier to experiment because the basics, the foundation, is already laid and the level of communication is already a lot higher between everybody. Most of the basic stuff happens almost automatically and you can experimenting and expand those basic ideas.
There was an idea of how the record should sound or it was just go with the flow? Yeah, we just went in and just wrote what every come naturally and we pick the ones that work best in sequence. It’s basically the same process that we used in the previous record, Murder the Mountains. We didn’t have a vision… I think if we try to do that we’ll fail.
done it a lot of singles with Brian singing on him… That songs is for me one of the more single-worthy that he’s written. And it kind of captures the more urgent and frantic nature of, at least, the first half of the album. A lot of us felt that ‘Dawn Rising’ is the best song on the album, but it’s so long that we were a little worried about trying to release.
You said that one of the reasons for not include the lyrics sheets with your albums is because some of them really suck. Do you really believe in that?
Why Whales and Leeches? To show the two extremes of the band?
Yeah, oh man… Of course, I hate my lyrics. There’s a few lyrics where I feel that I made a pretty good job but most of the time, oh God, that just sounds like a high school kid or “Oh great you rhymed a word with itself”, well done. No, I’m really not impressed with the lyrics that I wrote, and to be honest I’m shy. The other thing is: I really think people should figure the lyrics by themselves. If something is hard to hear, you’ll interpret in your own way that’s more relevant for you. I found that once I read the actual lyrics of some songs, something it seemed really cool to me turned out to be something else, washing the impact in some way.
It was actually a name of an old song title that we always liked. We couldn’t figure out a good and original title for this album, so after seeing the artwork that Orion [Landau] had done, that title just seemed to fit the best. There wasn’t really that much kind of thought.
How it was the recording process? Any different from the previous ones? It was pretty similar. The team was all the same. Same people and same places. The biggest difference was that we didn’t have any time in between, doing the basic tracks and cutting the overdubs and the vocals. Last time we had a pretty long break after doing the basic tracks, to kind of sit with everything and listen to it, and think about the type of things that we wanted to add. This time was more like doing everything on the fly. I think this time we did something that’s more organic and spontaneously while the last time it was more meticulous. Please, tell us about the participation of the two guest, Mike Scheidt (Yob) and Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession). We wanted to work with Mike for years, because Yob in one of our favourite bands… I think the best doom metal band of all-time, and one of the best bands of all-time. We’ve known him for years and we tried to collaborate with him in the past but the schedules never worked. This time everything went perfectly, the right song and the right time. Pall’s story is just the case of finding the right guy for the job. I was recording the main vocals for the song ‘Every Little Twist’ and I just heard higher harmony in my head, and as soon as I thought it… It just seemed to be for Pall’s voice. Since he lives in the same area we just call him and right away he accepted the invitation.
‘Blood Like Cream’ and ‘No Hope’ are the two first tracks to be available. Why these ones? ‘Blood Like Cream’ was one that took a lot of effort to get to the point where it actually become the song that it was but once we decided to go down in that direction, it happened really easily. It just seemed the effortless song in an odd way even it took the most time to get to that point of being effortless, and kind of represented the newer way that we sounded on this record. We haven’t really
The social media was always a big asset for the band. Were you afraid of people concentrate more in the videos and other stuff than the music itself? I never really had that fear because without those videos a lot of people wouldn’t hear about us in the first place and if people are into our music because of that “portal”, that’s great and fine by me. I don’t care if some of the people just have the one contact with this band, and that contact is throughout those videos. I can’t think about that, you know? I’m just happy for the really positive balance of doing a sharing those videos.
The cover of the album is mind-blowing. Please, tell us everything about it. It was mostly Orion Landau idea. He’s the art director and graphic designer on Relapse. He had general idea of a sort of most photographic album cover. The first thing that he did was more desert, motorcycles and stuff like that. None of us are really into that so it didn’t reflect the style of the band. We talk about for a while and decided it that the same general idea with a more Pacific Northwest theme would fit us better and would make us happier. I think he came out with the idea of a kind of mockery of just how prevalent of the use of an animal imagery is. It seems like every band has an animal skull (we use it too) or some picture with an animal on it. It was like “Fuck it, I’m gonna put it every single animal on this one”. But it looks so bad-ass. And the 3D version is so fuckin’ cool. You get really sucked into it. I love it.
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interview Russian Circles
Instrumental Prowess Words: Susanne Maathuis
For several years Chicago Post Metal instrumental act Russian Circles have been constantly charming us with their long winding complex compositions. With Memorial (Sargent House), their new album, they have taken a step in a different direction, moving from long epochs to shorter numbers that swing between the two extremes of emotion blended in their sound. Ghost Cult decided to have a chat with bassist Brian Cook. What was the process of creation for this new album like, was it different from earlier albums? In some ways, the creative process for this record was very similar to our older records. Mike wrote a bunch of parts, he and Dave worked out some arrangements, they sent me some rough recordings, then we all jammed together and totally reworked the songs. Over the course of the last several records we learned that we like to have enough time in the studio to make changes to the songs once we hear them back, so we allotted ourselves plenty of studio time so that we could make the inevitable edits. The process was different this time around in that we all knew how malleable the material was. We knew that things would take a different shape in the studio. One could say that we were less prepared for Memorial than any of our other albums, but I think the more appropriate assessment would be that we were just way more flexible with the material we had on hand. The songs changed dramatically in the studio—more so than on past records.
It’s a very bipolar album, a difference from your normally more blended sound, why did you choose this? It wasn’t a conscious decision. I think we naturally gravitate towards a blend of moods. And in the past, that fluctuation of tone generally occurred over the course of 10-minute long songs. A song like ‘Carpe’ or ‘Harper Lewis’ goes through a bunch of different sounds and moods over the duration of the composition. I think the fact that these new songs are a bit more compartmentalized in terms of their emotional timbre is partially due to the aforementioned creative process. In the past, we had songs like ‘Mladek’ that started off as 4-minute to-the-point rockers, but after working on them over and over in the practice space, they just started to build into these epic songs full of peaks and valleys. We were running on adrenaline, just cramming months of tumult into one song. This time around, most of the reworking and editing was done in the studio in a comparatively short span of time. So
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instead of turning ‘1777’ into a 12-minute epic, we focused on the central repeating musical theme of the song, which plays out over about 7 and a half minutes. The whole outro of the song turned into it’s own composition—’Cheyenne’. So while the songs flow together, we view them more as stand-alone songs now. And while ‘1777’ and ‘Cheyenne’ are very different in terms of their moods, I think the bipolar feel of the record is more a result of the way those moods are parceled out rather than any sort of radically new emotional dynamics within our work.
With the rather abrupt changes in temperament of the album, how do you think it will be received by your fans? Well, again, I don’t think we’ve really taken a dramatic sonic leap. If people listen to our songs online through avenues like Youtube or Last.fm or Pandora where you hear songs individually instead of within the context of the album, then I suppose those people might take issue with some of the material. But I would hope that most people who listen to Russian Circles listen to entire albums. And I think if you listen to Memorial in it’s entirety, it is a completely logical step in the evolution of the band. I think it’s the same story in the live setting. We strive to make our live shows one long seamless composition, and I think that audiences that hear the new material in that context will see it as a natural progression of our sound. The multiple faces of this album have very distinct personalities, how would you guys describe the two or maybe more faces of this album, can you tell us a little about them? A friend of the band mentioned that the title of the record implies loss. And with loss comes the five stages of grief: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This friend posited the theory that the different moods of the record reflected the five stages of grief. I wish that was actually the plan when we started making the album, because I think that’s a really great concept. Fuck it, let’s just pretend that’s what we were going for all along.
Will the future bring a reunion of the different facets of your sound again, or will it remain as a split? I don’t know. I do know that we kinda phased Station out of our setlist for a while because the song was so long, and we didn’t really like playing the mellow comedown in the latter half of the song. Now we just play the first half of the song. It’s nice to have shorter compositions that we can shuffle around into a longer format. In that sense, I prefer the songs on the new album. But I’m still holding out for the day when we can write a killer twenty-minute epic like ‘Close To The Edge’ or ‘De Futura’.
You worked with Chelsea Wolfe for the last track, how did this get arranged?
singer. We’re just going to laugh uncomfortably at your audition for thirty seconds and then try to wipe it from our memory.
We’ve all been fans of Chelsea since her Apokalypsis record. We had the opportunity to tour with her in the summer of 2012 during which we talked about doing some sort of collaboration. We sent her a rough demo of the song ‘Memorial’ and she sent her vocal track back two hours later and it was perfect. It was the most natural collaboration ever.
The instrumental music genre, post rock and post metal, seems to be in the lift. Are there any bands out there in the same sort of line as you guys that are inspirations, or just things you really enjoy, or don’t enjoy at all?
On you last album you also had a song with vocals, now we have ‘Memorial’. Will vocals be a recurring theme in your music now, or are they all still just experiments? The band never set out to be instrumental, it’s just that the music never really seemed to require vocals. And it’s much easier to operate as an instrumental three-piece. ‘Praise Be Man’ was a four-track recording that’s been around since before I was in the band. I just sent it to Mike and Dave on a whim and they wound up liking it. Really, we just go with whatever sounds good, and we tend to spend so much time fixating on instrumentation that there doesn’t wind up being room for vocals anyways. Long story short, I doubt we’ll ever fully incorporate vocals into our sound, but I don’t imagine that this is the last time we’ll dabble in the vocal department. I feel like I need to make this disclaimer now: please do not send us demos of you singing along to our music. We are not looking for a
I actively avoid checking out new post-rock and post-metal stuff. I’ll listen to our friends’ bands, like Pelican or Red Sparrows. And I still listen to stuff that I’ve always liked, like Sigur Ros, Mogwai, or Godspeed. But I rarely check out other stuff that falls into the same category. I realize that maybe sounds kind of snobby, but I think part of the appeal of music is the mystery behind it. And when you play a certain kind of music, it loses a little of the mystery. I don’t like listening to a song and knowing exactly how the band wrote it. All due respect to Explosions In The Sky, but I just can’t listen to the countless knock-offs they’ve generated. It’s like, I get it, you have a delay pedal and you know how to play a minor scale on the guitar. Do something more with the formula. Be more like Adebisi Shank and do all kinds of glitchy pedal-generated trickery. Or be more like Stars Of The Lid and make these really pretty songs out of really sparse undulating patterns. Or be like Grails and binge on a bunch of super obscure genres to make these weird hallucinatory soundtracks. That stuff is cool. But please, don’t be an ISIS imitation. Don’t be a Mono rip-off.
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interview Scar The Martyr
The Virtues Of Staying Active Words: Raymond Westland
With Slipknot on the backburner for the foreseeable future, drummer Joey Jordison has had plenty of time on his hands. He used it wisely by writing and demoing a swathe of new music, which wasn’t necessarily suited for his main band. He decided to use it as the basis for his latest musical venture, called Scar The Martyr. Ghost Cult caught up with Slipknot’s ‘#1’ (aka Mr Jordison) to ask him all about his new project, the therapeutic value of staying active, his other musical ventures with Ministry and Satyricon and what the future holds for his main band. How did Scar The Martyr came about? It started pretty much a year and a half ago when I went into the studio recording a bunch of material I had written. Some of it was useful for Slipknot, so I demoed a couple of those Slipknot tunes. I kept on writing and I shifted gears completely, so I put the Slipknot stuff away and I focussed on other musical directions. Along the way I wanted to turn this into a project that would be totally different from what I normally do with Slipknot. That’s kind of how the whole thing started.
From a songwriter’s point of view how did it feel to explore a different musical side of you? It was very liberating for me and that’s exactly the reason why I started Scar The Martyr. I really wanted to do something totally different from Slipknot. What would be the point of starting a side project if it would exactly sound like my main band? I already did the Murderdolls thing, which was fun while it lasted. With Scar The Martyr I wanted to explore a different direction. Those industrial, new wave and post punk influences have always been there, but I never found the right outlet to do something with them. I really like to push the boundaries in the types of music I haven’t done much with and Scar The Martyr is the perfect excuse to do just that. I wanted to experiment a lot, while still maintaining a heavy edge. It’s a great feeling to do something with all those influences that have been hidden and finally turn them loose.
You touch on a lot of different emotions on the album, ranging from quiet acquiescence to unbridled anger and sorrow. To which extent is the material a reflection from all the things you went through the last couple of years?
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The last three years have just been crazy. I went through a lot of different emotions because of Paul’s (Gray - Slipknot bassist) untimely passing. I didn’t express those emotions on a record yet, so recording the album was a huge therapy for me in itself. I like to speak through music and I didn’t yet have the chance to release anything since All Hope Is Gone back in 2008. Paul was very much my songwriting partner in Slipknot and Scar The Martyr is the first real music I have done since his death. I had a lot of stuff that needed to get out. I actually had to force myself to stop writing and start recording, because I had committed myself to bring out a record. I still have so much material laying around that I’ll use for a second Scar The Martyr record (laughs).
All the people you worked with on the STM record are seasoned musicians. However, your singer Henry Derek Bonner, is fairly unknown. Who is he and where did you find him? The thing is that I actually wanted it that way. I wasn’t looking for a known singer because that would pigeonhole the band too much. A singer is very much the icing on the cake, you know. I knew that I’d written some great material, but I really had to find the right guy to pull this off. I found Henry through mutual friends. I called him up and I sent him four songs. He didn’t waste any time and he returned those songs with his vocals on top. When I heard the results I was simply floored. This was just exactly what I was looking for. I tried out a bunch of singers before, but I couldn’t find the right guy until Henry came along. I didn’t want to settle for anything less than the perfect guy for the job. I started sending him more and more demos and he sent me some of his own songs as well. Not many people know he plays guitar and he’s a songwriter too. Two of his songs actually ended up on the record. We traded ideas back and forth via the internet and at some point I had him come to Des Moines and put him in the vocal booth and record his vocals. It’s a real pleasure working with Henry, because he can sing his ass off and he is hungry, because he’s brand new. He has that fire and passion. I couldn’t find a better person to front the band. You already toured with Danzig and you’ve got tours with Sepultura and Alice In Chains coming up. What are your thoughts on that? I haven’t heard the new Sepultura album yet, but I believe it will be awesome. People really have come to terms that Max Cavalera is no longer in the band and Sepultura have really found their groove with Derrick Green so I’m really excited about that. We also have a tour with Alice In Chains and Ghost coming up in the UK. I’ve been an Alice In Chains since the first week Facelift came out. I saw the
Wry Wits and Smash Hits
Words: Matt Hinch
video for ‘We Die Young’ and I was hooked. Did you actually know there are two versions of that clip? There is this version where they are jamming in a club almost dressed up like a hair metal band, but they’re headbanging all the time. When the whole alternative rock movement came along with all the drugs and shit they changed the video (laughs). I’ve been a fan ever since. Same goes for Sepultura. We just want to get out there and tour as much as we can with Scar The Martyr.
Let’s talk about your other touring ventures with Ministry and Satyricon to name just two. How important is it to you to work and tour with other bands, besides Slipknot? I toured with Rob Zombie and Korn as well (laughs). It always seems when Slipknot is having some downtime my phone rings the day I get home. I really like to stay busy. The fact that I have the chance to play and tour with such great bands is just incredible. I couldn’t be happier. From touring with Satyricon and Ministry to Korn and Rob Zombie to producing the 3 Inches Of Blood album, I just love helping people and bands out. I love jamming with all these different people, because I feel it really helps me to develop and to become a better musician. Of course I enjoy some downtime, but that only lasts for so long. After a while the itching starts and I need to do something again. It’s just so hard for me to take a vacation (laughs). Music is such an important of me that I really have to seize the day now I have
the opportunity. I have so many ideas that if I didn’t do anything with them I wouldn’t be respecting my gift. I keep busy all the time, because that’s what I’m here for.
Many longtime Roadrunner bands, like Devildriver and Soulfly, have left the label due to the major reorganisation the company underwent last year. How do you see things? You know, it’s terrible. I wish it wasn’t like this, but this is the day and age that we live in. However, metal isn’t going anywhere and it’s not going to die off or anything. It’s just that we need to adapt to new ways to release our music. There are ways of putting out new music no matter what. The bands aren’t going anywhere. The real home is our fans. It isn’t in any tall building or fancy office, there are other ways to get the music out to the people that really need it. The real ‘office’ where our type of music belongs is on the road in front of our fans. The music isn’t going anywhere, it’s just a change of the guards in a way. Finally, how far do you want to push Scar The Martyr? Do you intend to turn this into a full-blown second career besides Slipknot? That’s certainly the intent. By no means do I want to scare Slipknot fans, because that band isn’t going anywhere. We’re still playing gigs every year, regardless of what our other bands and projects are doing. We all have our own home studios and we’re writing and exchanging new music. It’s just a matter of how and when we’ll enter the studio and record a new Slipknot album.
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Mediating Between Passion And The Heart Words: Raymond Westland
Like many long time running bands Sepultura had their fair share of misfortunes and many people are openly questioning whether they have any right to continue without the Cavalera brothers. However, The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart, the band latest musical offering, is their most spirited release in years and it shows there’s still plenty of kick left. Ghost Cult caught up with frontman Derrick Green to pride his mind about the new album, working with producer Ross Robinson and the background of his lyrics.
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Mediator is very spirited and dark album. How come? I don’t know really. The album was recorded in Venice Beach, California. A lot of the material was written in Sao Paulo. There were a lot of things going on at the time in the world. There was a new pope elected and there was a lot of social upheaval about the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games, especially about all the corruption going. A lot of the money is invested in stadiums, while the populace are clamouring for hospitals and schools. A lot of it was coming from the things happening around us. Another major factor is our drummer, Eloy Casagrande. Writing music with him changed a lot. He really likes to play metal and he’s really passionate about it. He’s very young and the energy he brought with him pushed the rest of us to step up our game. He really wanted to leave his mark and that makes the new album very different from the previous one I think. It was his dream to play in Sepultura and we really needed that type of kick and he really brought that.
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Ross Robinson produced the new album. He has quite a reputation of bringing bands to the edge mentally in order to capture the best performance possible. How did he go about with Sepultura? He had a free pass with Andreas and Paulo. He already recorded with them during the Roots album, so he was already familiar with the inner workings of Sepultura. He talked with them how Roots changed his life and how it opened a lot of doors for him as a producer. With the second time around he really wanted to make an album that was different from Roots, but with that same type of energy. He already knew what we’re capable of. He was there with us in the room while we recorded our instruments literally pushing us physically. He constantly asked why certain parts are there in a song and why certain words are there. We went through the lyrics together with everyone present in the room. This was something we never really did. I wrote the lyrics and I was done, just like that. He asked Eloy or Paulo what a certain lyric meant to them and whether they could identify themselves with it. Before we went in he would go and tell that he didn’t feel the emotion behind a certain piece or lyric. He was like give it your all or don’t go in at all. We’re living in special times. The album is all about freedom and a lot of different energies and a lot of people are relying on our music to get through the day and help them cope with daily life. He urged us to really think about what we are doing, because we’re an inspiration to alot of people. By creating that feeling and vibe he really got us to go as deep as we could. It really united the band in such a way that we didn’t even know we could be capable of. It was a beautiful experience. I do think Mediator combines all the best elements from the best Sepultura albums. It has the thrash metal elements from Beneath The Remains and Arise, the groove from Chaos A.D and Roots and the punk attitude of the later albums… I think so too. We wrote those songs and we got down to the studio. When Ross heard the songs he was really stupefied. He said that a lot of the things were already in place and that we only needed to take out the energy and capture that on tape. I really think that the new album has all those elements you just mentioned. We went through all the songs and we really wanted to feel that vibe and energy of each individual song in a natural way and have fun with it. Mediator does have all the elements from the history of Sepultura.
The last few Sepultura albums are inspired by famous books and movies, like Dante’s Inferno, A Clockwork Orange and Metropolis by Fritz Lang. What do you found so inspiring to use them as a concept for Sepultura albums? Andreas and I like to read a lot when we are touring. When I grew up my sister worked at a publishing company, so I was surrounded by books as a kid. Those books were really inspirational and made me wanting to travel the world and see all those amazing places
described in those books. Andreas and I really like to discussing certain issues and books that he and I read are often at the root of our discussions. In a weird way those things happen for a reason. The Fritz Lang movie was the main inspiration for Mediator. It’s a metaphor for the times we’re living in. A lot of people are very robotic in their way of life. It’s basically thinking and then action. A lot of the heart and the passion are essentially missing. Nowadays, most people are robotically typing things on their smartphone and they really don’t care about the world and the people around them. Sadly, I’m one of those people as well. On the new album I really wanted to write about the things I don’t like about myself and the times that we live in. It just ridiculous that I’m looking at this stupid phone. When you go a gig you see kids not paying attention to the show, they’re looking at their phones instead. What the hell is wrong with them?!
What is your ultimate goal with your lyrics? Are you an observer or do you want to make people think or do you want to raise a certain level of awareness for the things you believe strongly in? It’s all about communicating a certain idea. Change will be up to the individual. I’m not trying to change anyone or anybody. I just want to communicate how I’m thinking about certain subjects, so people can relate to that or relate to it in perhaps a different way. It’s all about their own interpretation of my lyrics. For me it’s important to be responsible for what I’m writing because of the impact it can have on people. I know music can have really strong impact on people’s life. At the same time my lyrics have this positivity and raw emotion about whatever I’m trying the communicate. I really can’t get behind writing about wizards, castles and crystal balls (laughs). That stuff isn’t real to me, so I’d rather write about social and political topics, because they are more feasible to me and I think those topics are easier for people to get into, because they’re real. It’s coming from the heart and that’s why people are relating a lot to our lyrics and it’s something they’ve come to expect from Sepultura.
Finally, the band it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary. Do you guys plans to do anything special, like putting a rarities box set or releasing a special DVD? We’re actually going to record a DVD at Rock In Rio with a French percussion group and when we have finished the current touring cycle for the new album with Eloy, we can sit down and put something special together, like people from the past of Sepultura showing up and perform at some great location. That’s something we’ve been brainstorming about for quite some time. But like I said, we need to finish the current touring cycle for the new album, because I feel our new album is really worth it. We really need to get out and play these new songs. We wrote these songs and recorded them in the studio, but playing them live on stage is quite something different. We really need to experience that first and I think a lot of these new songs will be included on the upcoming DVD. But yeah, celebrating 30 years of Sepultura would include a beautiful location and a lot of special guests (laughs).
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Isolation Breeds Creativity Words: Dane Prokofiev
It is said that isolation breeds creativity. As much as a platitude this is, Ulcerate’s case seems to help it regain some credibility. Although spawned and based in picturesque New Zealand, the brooding metal trio has a penchant for sonically summoning dark, twisted worlds that reflect and pass judgment on the rotten core of humanity— hardly a mental picture that fits the toweringmountains-and-serene-meadows imagery present in the imagination of many a Lord of the Rings fan. This natural inclination towards and ability to clearly convey such depressing negativity doesn’t come easily to most bands, let alone one dwelling within the dream retirement country for many. This creativity is of a virulent nature; one that births realms so displeasing in any ordinary person’s view that it is shunned by the masses and revered only by those who have stared into the abyss for too long. From within the murky darkness of pessimism, drummer Jamie Saint Merat surfaces briefly to speak to Dane Prokofiev about the theme of Vermis, his philosophy of the human condition and more. Are there any bands on Relapse’s roster, both past and present, whom you consider to be an influence on Ulcerate’s lyrical and musical styles? Yeah, for sure, particularly early on — a lot of the older Neurosis records, Today is the Day’s Temple of the Morning Star/In the Eyes of God era for example. From a drumming perspective, I really dug the first two Nile albums, the debut Origin album (still do actually) and Suffocation with Dave Culross.
Does New Zealand culture influence Ulcerate’s lyrical and musical styles too? If any, what are the lyrical and/or musical manifestations of those indigenous influences? No, not all. But our geographic isolation definitely played a part early on in developing our sound, as we had very little access [to the outside metal world] in terms of seeing international acts live,
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and ended up being more influenced by our peers from a playing perspective. There was certainly no wider benchmark for how good a live performance can be.
How do you create that alien-like, Deathspell Omega-ish guitar tone? I’d say the correlation between ourselves and a band like Deathspell Omega has less to do with the amp tone and more to do with the notes that are actually being played. Our tone for Vermis has come from a fairly common Marshall/Sunn combination setup (although not a typical death metal configuration). I’d say neither band has any interest in a clean ‘tight’ sound; the bare tone should at least invoke some sort of impending doom.
Does the latest album’s title literally mean “worm” or “the rounded and elongated central part of the cerebellum that is between the two hemispheres of the human brain”? We’re using the Latin worm metaphor.
Once again, the lyrical theme seems to depict Man as a fragile and extremely flawed being. Who is the human character in Vermis? What are the major issues he/she is grappling with? The character or persona that we’ve looked at in our lyrics, I would say, is in each and every one of us. Much more of an observation of the weaknesses of human nature, our arrogance in elevating ourselves above the rest of the animal kingdom and within our own species (racism, religion, sexism etc), and our insignificance in the grand scheme of things. I would say that arrogance is definitely a major issue — our potential for incompetence and inability to recognise or even acknowledge said incompetence until well after the fact. The overriding theme for the album is centred around the idea of tyranny and oppression in all its forms, and exploring this concept from all angles, particularly via dogma, power and manipulation. As mentioned before, we’re using the Latin worm version of Vermis metaphorically for the spinelessness/cowardice of tyranny from both sides.
What is it about the human condition that intrigues you so much so that you’d write about it in your lyrics every time?
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atmosphere. All these label taglines are supposed to attract people who haven’t heard a band before, so how else would you describe it? Particularly when you know that the band might appeal to those who are into a wide range of eclectic music, and not just metal.
Do you think that “progressive” is an ambiguous adjective that is thrown around too often these days? Yeah, for sure — I’ve always associated it with prog-rock, like King Crimson etc. But nowadays it just gets slapped onto anything heavy that utilises dynamics… it’s the same point as my answer to the previous question: we’re not thinking of these descriptions ourselves; they’re what record labels are using to gain attention for music that has the potential to reach a wider audience, particularly when, at its core, our music is not the easiest to dive right into.
Wry Wits and Smash What’s not to be interested in as humans? I’d argue that every band, metal or otherwise, is speaking about the human condition in some capacity. Unless you’re writing pure fantasy, you’re always writing from your experience as a human. We’ve just always gravitated to exploring the more negative aspects, the aspects that, from an aesthetic point of view, complement the music. The music is very distinct in the kind of feeling it portrays, so to have lyrics that don’t match would be futile.
Due to the human condition, all of us are forced to see and make sense of the world through the human lens. How do you think we can discard this lens and observe the universe from an entirely new perspective? We can’t. I think the closest that we can come to that is through the loss of self — via music, visual arts, meditation, psychedelics etc. Even via psychedelics, the hallucinations are still birthed and destroyed in the mind, regardless of how exotic they might be. Anything that we can imagine is just a composite of other things we’ve witnessed or experienced. Even trying to imagine something as simple as a colour you’ve never seen before just shows you the limits of empiricism we’re confined to.
Relapse Records described Ulcerate as an “avantgarde, progressive death metal” band. Do you agree with this description? Why? I neither agree or disagree really. This band has just been a part of ourselves for so long now that it all feels totally natural to us. Both terms, especially “avant-garde”, suggest to me that we’re intentionally trying to make music that is outside of the norm for the sake of it, which isn’t the case. We’re definitely trying to challenge ourselves, but not at the expense of sustaining a cohesive
Words:isMatt Hinch Another term that is thrown around quite often “forward-thinking”. Do you think it is even possible to make “forward-thinking” metal in this age of continual recycling of old ideas and repackaging them to make them look new? If so, what is one possible way “forwardthinking” metal could sound like? Again, it’s just another marketing term to attract listeners who aren’t necessarily only listeners of death metal. To be honest, as both a listener and a musician, this is just not something that concerns me at all. I’m not worried about whether the music I listen to or play propels a genre forward; I’m far more interested in the feeling it portrays: Is it a worthwhile addition to the sonic landscape? Is it satisfying on a creative level? Can you lose yourself in the music night-to-night? All this other theorising can be left up to music critics and magazines.
Isn’t it frustrating that no matter how hard one tries to push extreme metal’s boundaries by ignoring traditional musical structural tendencies, one, ironically, ends up creating a new type of musical structure that traps and anchors the music within a world governed by particular sets of rules? What is your opinion on this problem? Frustrating for whom exactly? If this kind of issues irks you about what we’re writing, then you can always just choose to not listen to it. Again, pushing boundaries is not a goal. It might be a cursory outcome, but definitely not a goal. I can’t imagine sitting down to start a band and thinking: “We’re going to write music that nobody has heard before.” It’s not about impressing anyone. In our case, we sit down to write material that excites us and challenges our own perceptions. We don’t write our material in a non-traditional way to be ironic or sarcastic; we do it for our own satisfaction, because growing up, there were bands doing this that we liked the sound of, we emulated them, and then developed our own approach from this. In terms of rules, setting parameters forces you to be more creative, not just in music — this is very common in the visual arts as well.
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interview Vulture Industries
Life Is A State Of Mind Words: Steve Tovey
Norway has always been a hotbed for cutting edge and forward thinking bands. One of the finer examples of this are Bergen-based progressive/ avant-garde metal outfit Vulture Industries. Their latest album, entitled The Tower, is quite a masterpiece. Ghost Cult caught up with singer Bjørnar E. Nilsen to ask him all about his remarkable band. Congratulations on your new album The Tower. I imagine you must be very pleased with how it has turned out. What are your hopes for the album and what were you trying to achieve with it? Thank you! We are very pleased with the outcome and proud to present it publicly. It has been a three year process and as always it feels fulfilling to let the child go. Setting it loose and see how it figures into the world. The process of creation is in itself very rewarding, but we are somewhat socially inclined, so we like to see how our babies work for other people instead of just keeping them locked up in the studio. Even though our expression is too far of the mainstream path to get a wide recognition we are steadily building an audience and with The Tower it seems to have grown further. It remains small but dedicated. Anyway… It makes more sense to me to make a profound difference in a handful of lives, than being a minor parenthesis to millions.
As a band, you’re very hard to pigeonhole (this is a good thing) flitting from rock to musical theatre to carnival to metal to Victorian music hall, with splashes of Alice Cooper, Arcturus, Nick Cave amongst others. How do you compose your songs and what are you looking to bring together when writing your music? Writing for Vulture Industries is a crooked process with song ideas and bits of music floating around and bumping into each other. Sometimes they fix to each other, sometimes they mix and sometimes they reject each other. Sometimes one even swallows the other and they become one. Some ideas are born early and take a long way to mature. For example some song ideas that are conceived in the early stages of writing don’t reach adulthood before the final studio sessions. Some might even be subject to a late abortion, getting tossed away during the final stages of mixing. This process takes time and makes for a somewhat unpredictable
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workflow. Still I think this way to make music is an essential part of our musical expression, so changing the process would change the result, the result being a kind of musical reflection of our collective soul.
So, focusing on the The Tower, what are the themes of the songs? What is The Tower and what does it mean to you? Are your lyrics important or just a means to an end? The whole album is built around the concept of the world we create, not just as a physical entity, but also subjectively. The symbolic image of The Tower is as a reflection of our society and the constructions that constitute our worlds. It is an image of a constructed system that looks crooked and bent from afar but evens out and get more and more bewitching as one is drawn into it. A central example is our hyper-consumerist society; a system driven by the fractional reserve banking system where the primary method of creating new money is through the creation of debt. Loans made up primarily of money the banks don’t have as they are only obliged to hold a reserve of a fraction of the money they actually lend out. These loans generate interest on which new loans can be created. This makes for a compound interest graph in which a larger and larger part of valuables pass onto the hands of the banking system. Meanwhile we remain trapped within a creature that eats its own tail. A creature that is both insatiable and unsustainable. A creature they only few grasp the scale of and most are just dimly aware. A creature that only cares about itself and will happily devour any resource possible to put a dollar sign on, regardless of any outside consequence. The lyrics are an integral part of our expression and important. Bland or meaningless lyrics would gravely flaw what we are trying to convey.
An obvious one, but the vocals are remarkably reminiscent of Krystoffer Rigg, especially his work with Arcturus. Are constant references to this a negative thing, or something that, as a band, you can embrace, and even play on and use to an advantage? I have no particular wish to sound, smell, look nor feel like anyone else in particular. Still, considering the quality of the referenced work, the fact that we find ourselves in a very wide musical landscape with few reference point and the fact that most people tend to use comparisons rather than descriptive characteristics when describing music, I have made my peace with the comparison. Sometimes I have fun with calling Mr. Rygg pretending to be him. It fucks with his head.
Your style and image seems well crafted and deliberate, how integral to the band is the sense of identity and visual companionship with the music? Rather than just having parts thrown together in a jumble we like them all to complement each other. Thus music visuals and lyrics are all closely tied together to form a creature of a higher potency than a small assortment of detached goblins.
The music itself is very theatrical. Where did this come from, and is it something you have to consciously work into the music? I have always been fascinated by music that also manages to convey a story and paint strong images. Thus it has been natural to follow this path when writing music myself. For me it’s also about making the music come alive. Adding dimensions instead of just focusing on painting pretty pictures. By extension the theatrical side is also a way relate to the audience as more than just passive spectators.
In a time where potential fans have access to literally thousands of bands in seconds via online mediums, do you feel this theatricality is important to what Vulture Industries, or is it something to help you stand out? I guess it makes us stand out and it is important in the sense that it is an integral part of our identity as a band. It’s not a calculated choice made to differentiate ourselves from the multitude of band though, but rather an expression of a profound collective self. We are not trying to be anything in particular, we just are.
More so than pretty much any other geographic location, Norway has an extremely progressive and experimental metal heritage, from second wave black
metal and it’s latter day developments to …In The Woods, Arcturus, Ved Buens Ende and more recently Ihsahn, Leprous et al. Why do you think that is, and is there a “Norwegian” mentality to music that encourages expression, exploration and diversity? It is a common misconception amongst fans and media alike that the progressive and experimental tendencies found among Norwegian metal bands comes from a “Norwegian” mentality that encourages this. On the contrary the “Norwegian” mentality encourages not sticking out from the crowd. Rather than searching the mentality of the nation for an explanation, the answer can be found in something as basic as diet. Norway has an extremely long coastline compared to its relative size, thus a large part of our diet is based on fish. One of the less tasty but highly nutritious kinds contains a particular protein that stimulates the creative centres of the brain. Given its awful taste this fish is one of the cheapest foodstuffs you can get in Norway, and as most people know musicians are notoriously poor. Thus Norwegian musicians are highly creative and Norwegian vagrants live in exceptionally elaborately constructed cardboard houses.
The Tower coincides with your 10 year anniversary as a band. What are the key things you’ve learned over the last decade, and would you do any of it differently if given the chance again? I do not believe in fate. I rather believe my current situation to be a result of the billions of choices and coincidences that make up my past. The logical continuation of this is that regretting your past is regretting who you are. Even though many of the personal choices and choices as a musician of the past might seem stupid in retrospect I don’t regret them. It is of the past now. Life is a state of mind!
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ALBUM REVIEWS Album Of The Month Ihsahn
Das Seelenbrechen in Leprous, Tveitan has crafted an increasingly bold complex concoction of intricate time changes, free jazz passages and snarling extreme metal. ‘Hiber’ begins with jagged riffs over which Vegard snarls “The seeds of evil flowers grow...” before chiming keys are entwined with hypnotic synths that wouldn’t be out of place on a Goblin record. It is grand and highly involving material which will merit many repeat listens in order to fully comprehend.
Brooklyn, New York-based post metal As a man of many talents, Vegard “Ihsahn” Tveitan has long drawn inspiration from many genres of music which has ensured the works of both seminal Black Metallers Emperor, Folk project Hardingrock, the classically inclined Peccatum and his sprawling progressive solo work have all remained at the forefront of innovation. Fourth release Das Seelenbrechen (Candlelight), translating to “The Soul Breaking” in English, sees Ihsahn pushing further into the realms of Avant Garde experimentalism. Aided by the fine gents
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‘Regen’ sees a tender, clean vocal rendered gracefully while shuffling drums and tinkling keys build up tension before that terrifying roar commands “Let the heavens cry!” amongst a whirlpool of power chords and cacophonous symphonics. The eerie, clean vocals of the man himself have gone from strength to strength and while the unmistakable screams are still harrowing in their intensity, they play second fiddle to the heart rendering, solemn falsettos which form the likes of ‘Pulse’. Such a performance may draw comparisons with the work of former collaborator Mikael Åkerfeldt, yet they retain a feel all their own. Certainly the aforementioned track will not amuse hardcore black metal fans with its synthetic beats which recall acts
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like Massive Attack but it serves as more than just a breakwater between walls of discordance. Far more challenging are the hellish freejazz workouts of ‘Tacit 2’ a wall of feedback with Tobias Andersen adding a dense layer of tribal percussion underneath torn throated screams. Stereotypical extreme metal this isn’t and while the discordant rhythms may take a bit of getting used to, the appearance of long time collaborator Jørgen Munkeby lending some ferocious alto saxophone to the demented freak show adds a sublime yet schizophrenic groove. Certainly a few of the seventies prog references do feel somewhat obvious but when you consider the level of musicianship and the speed with which this rich tapestry of styles has been lovingly woven together, it is truly outstanding. A resolute and forward thinking release which boldly presses the agenda of its author. Das Seelenbrechen is a grotesquely wonderful creation.
Sub Contra Blues Don’t you just love it when an album comes out of the blue with an almighty wallop that forces the listener to just hit pause for a second and take it in. You’re only on the first track but it’s laid down a colossal gauntlet to start and Brighton’s Anacondas do this with Sub Contra Blues (Prosthetic Records). The three-piece have delivered a debut full-length to write home about here, being crushingly heavy and unabashedly melodic and catchy all at the same time, towing that difficult line to effect as juddering sludge and angular noisecore meet grunge influences and even Jesu-like droning passages on Sub Contra Blues for a serious melting pot of sounds that, while disparate, coalesce beautifully into one cohesive record. With just eight tracks, Anacondas hold you in their coiled grasp, first with the crushing sludgy doom and dreamy vocals of opener ‘Moon On Fire’. From there, the band ups the pace and intensity as the riffs become more angular and vocals more fevered. There’s a strong flavour of KEN Mode that can be picked up here from time to time like ‘Cold Blooded Warm Heart’ and ‘High Horse’. The title track and ‘The Witches’ sees the band enter altogether more melodic modes, exhibiting the band’s flair for flirting with dark and light shades, all the while still maintaining a dense heaviness and sludgy undertone. ‘This Night Will Last Forever’ closes the album off in stunning ebullience with walls of melodic guitars meeting some hefty low end, while utterly anthemic and memorable vocals rule the roost; the climax and conclusion of which is truly something special, ending Sub Contra Blues in a sublime way. Anacondas deserve much praise for this record, especially considering that it’s a debut and with any justice, it will garner the right attention for the band and stick out from the crowd.
With the breakout release of AB III (thanks in part to stellar single ‘Isolation’), combined with Myles Kennedy’s adventures with Slash and Mark Tremonti’s solo album All I Was, Alter Bridge had finally removed the monkey from their back and stepped out of the shadow of Creed. Fast forward to today, and Alter Bridge have regrouped and released a stellar new album, Fortress (Roadrunner). Onto their fourth album, everything about AB has been given an upgrade. The songs are a little tighter, the vocals a little bit more impassioned, and the riffs heavier. The musical core of the band is still the same, they’ve just upped the ante.
It is pretty well documented that in recent times technical metal bands under the (incredibly annoying and awkward) “djent” tagline have proven hugely popular and thus very numerous; in fact they seem to be bloody everywhere. If there is one guarantee in this vastly overcrowded terrain however is that if Basick Records are behind it, it is very much worth your attention. Step forward new recruits, the simply titled Bear and their Noumenon (Basick Records) album.
Opener ‘Cry of Achilles’ begins with classical acoustic guitar before kicking in with a huge riff, soaring vocals, and at almost seven minutes, even features some progressive tendencies. It’s a big, bold statement to open with, and the standard remains as high throughout.Lead single ‘Addicted To Pain’ is heavy and hook laden, a good example of what to expect from the rest of Fortress; searing riffs, soaring vocals, furious, energetic and stadium filling. The band, Myles Kennedy (vocals & guitar), Mark Tremonti (guitar & vocals), Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums) have been together for almost a decade, a testament to the fact stable lineups mean better records as you progress together. Take ‘Bleed It Dry’. Opening with some big aggressive snappy riffs before switching tac and letting Myle’s take over, only to be interrupted by a dreamy acoustic middle complete with classic blues rock solo, and a finale of more huge riffs and grand choruses. Name any song on the album and the same words come to mind; big, heavy, soaring, epic.Myles has always been a talented singer, but his forays into the mainstream with Slash have only made his contributions to AB better. His contribution to Fortress is impeccable; the impassioned vocals show off an incredible range and steal the limelight throughout the album. For a brief moment, Myles stands aside and Tremonti takes lead vocals for one song - ‘Waters Rising’. He makes a decent effort, but it’s his guitar work that matters most on this record. Huge stadium filling riffs, big classic solos, with plenty of little acoustic flourishes and other deft touches that litter the record. Aside from the impressive guitar interplay, it’s the heaviness of the record that’s most surprising. Often you’re left wondering how far into the realm of heavy riffing he could go - Alter Bridge as a modern metal band isn’t as unthinkable as it once was.
Noumenom (the band’s second full length and first for new home Basick) sees Bear continue their formula which puts a somewhat new spin on “djent” style without quite sending it off a completely different trajectory. Taking that ever familiar Meshuggah guitar tone and riff style with hardcore’s pace and fury and The Dillinger Escape Plan’s sense of dynamism and controlled chaos, Noumenom certainly shows the likeness of many of their peers but with a more aggressive streak and punk like attitude, whilst simultaneously fitting in with the progressive metal, forward thinking notion. Certainly the band’s most high profile release to date, Noumenom is a welcome addition to the over populated tech scene, but also gives off a sense that these guys haven’t quite reached their potential yet. It is definitely a fresh take on the style but it also isn’t the most memorable. Given time however and Bear could prove to be a shot of adrenaline in the arm of a scene which could begin to need a little energising.
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Blues Pills Started in 2011 and playing Roadburn last April 2013, Blues Pills are now signed with Nuclear Blast and quickly becoming quite the rising star. With the incredibly powerful, husky vocals by Elin Larsson, the blonde Swedish front Fury of the international quartet, incredible soulful guitar lines by the French youngster Dorian Sorriaux (only just 18) and a rocking, swinging base laid down in bass and drums by the two American initiators of the band Zack Anderson and Cory Berry, it’s a trip back to the birth of music festivals in the late 60’s early 70’s. Devil Man (Nuclear Blast) conjures a sense of a jam between Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Cream. The title track, ‘Devil Man’, is definitely their most catchy song, showcasing all the strengths of the band quite well, with driving bass and drums, almost roaring vocals and complex guitar lines that feel so easy yet leave you awestruck. A personal favorite of mine, however, has become ‘The River’, a soulful, melancholy lament about leaving one’s home and life behind to go hunting for gold by the river. The combination of laidback drums, weeping guitars and a certain desperation in the vocals make it into an incredibly engaging song. “Its hard. its hard, but I learn and I get better.” Those are words to live by. One thing that comes back in all songs, whether full out rock n’roll or more a blues ballad is a relatively simple song structure, made interesting and complex by bass variations, drum fills and guitar solos that have a distinct jammed out or even improvised feeling. It gives the band a very full sound that amazes me every time and also makes for a playful, relaxed feel that’s wonderfully refreshing in an era every little corner of music can be perfected into infinity. Sadly the Ep only consists of four songs, and leaves you wanting for more, more, more. All we can do is hope these youngsters will pop out a new record as fast as they’re rising to fame, to sate hunger they leave in your heart as the record spins to its close. I think we’ll repeat it again.
Cult Of Luna
Earlier this year the highly regarded Cult Of Luna released Vertikal. A concept album based on the proto-sci-fi movie Metropolis by Fritz Lang, it was met with widespread acclaim. Certainly for long time fans of the band Vertikal could very well land high on respective year end lists. Personally, the album never quite clicked until the impending release of Vertikal II forced me to revisit the full length. Vertikal II being the EP that completes the Vertikal picture. Three tracks plus a remix by JK Broadrick. Perhaps digesting CoL’s Vertikal vision in a smaller portion helps to appreciate the grandeur of the full meal to a greater degree. As has come to be expected from CoL, the band mixes the peaceful with the provoked, gently settling into ambience only to explode behind beastly bellows. The majority of ‘Oro’ is gentle and somber. It peacefully projects a feeling of calm reflectiveness and acceptance. But the fire is awakened in the track’s latter third. Defiance and bitterness become the controlling moods, pounding out those feelings with punctuated thumps only to fade away.
Just because Earthless’s cosmic tunes may not have a cosmic origin, but that doesn’t mean their newest LP, From The Ages (Tee Pee) is content to stay within the confines of our atmosphere. Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcada drop four tracks spanning a staggering hour and five minutes on their first full length since 2007.
‘Light Chaser’ is more lush. A swirling keyboard riff, cello and synths mesh over a stead martial beat. Johannes Persson’s harsh growls seem somewhat dispassionate for the most part however. Almost mechanical. The circular repetitiveness of the track reflects the cityscape of a metropolis yet the way the synths and keys swirl and dance the melodies informs of a deeper sense of beauty in the harsh lines. The third original track, ‘Shun The Mask’ has a very spacey, sci-fi ambience. The synths are fuelled by an alien force. Heaving spires of sludgy riffs thrust upwards with dramatic force. The middle section is quite airy with very sci-fi keys providing the eerier backdrop. The epic track is decorated with layers of nose and anger. A fitting and dramatic end to the Vertikal story. Vertikal II (and I for that matter) takes some time to really assimilate. Its depth, while apparent at first glance, really sinks in after multiple spins. Together the LP and EP make for over an hour and a half of music. CoL fans will be very pleased with the EP and perhaps fans of Metropolis will garner a deeper appreciation of the film due to Vertikal.
7/10 Matt Hinch
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From The Ages
The first trip of fuzzed-out acid rock is ‘Violence Of The Red Sun’. The track gives off a very Sabbathian vibe interposed with enough late 60s/early 70s psych influence to make your bottoms grow bells. Synths intersect the orbit like a comet, leaving flashes of light in their wake. Mitchell’s guitar drifts of its own freewill between groovy riffs and crazed solos. Eginton turns the eternal wheel of stoner groove and Rubalcada rides the rails of boundless energy with snapping snare, thudding bass, and fills a plenty. The song’s latter half moves in a desert direction with a stopover in blues country. The amalgam of psych/stoner and blues is almost too much to bear. ‘Uluru Rock’ feels like the desert is waking. Slow and quiet until the sun breaks the horizon. Seemingly endless solos sing a sad, acidic song. Synths show their face before retreating to the shadows as the desert sun bakes the earth. The intensity builds to a peak before the sun slowly settles again behind ‘Uluru Rock’. At 5:42, ‘Equus October’ seems like it’s over before it begins compared to the other three tracks. An OM influenced bass riff leads the way down a lazy cosmic river, emptying into a pool of colour. Drum hits and cymbal crashes break the surface like raindrops, mixing a rainbow of shades together with swirling grace before the whole scene is blown away by an explosion of noise. Thirty minute closer ‘From the Ages’ takes “trippy” to the next level. Biker rock, Earthless play instrumental rock full of drive and soul. It feels improvised to the point where you’d expect the tracks to be constantly evolving. The extreme jam nature gives off a very intimate aura. Like we’re not meant to see how exposed the band’s souls are. Earthless leave everything on the table with From the Ages. Blissful, edgy and bathed in illicit substances, this is a trippy voyage any self-respecting stoner must not miss. See you on the other side of the cosmos.
Darkness In A Different Light At the dawn of progressive metal Hartford, Connecticut’s Fates Warning were among the first guard. Along with Dream Theater and Queensrÿche they forged ahead with a new style of progressive music that made superstars out of John Petrucci and Geoff Tate. But when it came to back-slapping and, importantly, record sales, Fates Warning were often left wanting. Eleven albums in and on the basis of latest work Darkness In A Different Light (Inside Out Music) it is perhaps evidence of why they have been left behind. That is not to say FW are forgotten. They have still sold enough albums to make lesser bands weep and remarkably talented guys like Mark Zonder and Joe DiBiase have passed through the FW door. But now the warning light seems to have dimmed. There are beautiful textures to be found and the opening duo of ‘One Thousand Fires’ and ‘Firefly’ are easy going metal tunes built around a winding, snarling guitar riff. ‘I Am’ knocks some of the true FW power into shape pulled by Ray Alder’s powerful voice, found in fine fettle. ‘Into The Black’ is the finest hour with bouncing guitar riffs and inventive soloing. Nine years on from last album FWX (nine years!) Fates Warning have finally got drummer Bobby Jarzombeck seated in a studio. There is no question that the man who beats Sebastian Bach’s drums has huge talent and more than enough is displayed here. It’s a shame, though, that the tricky rhythms of yore are being replaced by straight-forward heavy metal pounding. Sometimes things are best left as they are and maybe this time casting light into this darkness was not a great idea.
Live In Ancient Kourion
Dethroned And Uncrowned
This album marks Iced Earth’s third live release, and the first with current vocalist Stu Block. It also marks the farewell performance of longtime drummer Brent Smedly with the band. While we’re at it, this is also the debut of new bassist Luke Appleton. So much change up would have most other bands hold off on putting out a live album at this point. Not Iced Earth! They march forward like true veterans and never look back. If anyone had any issues or concerns with Stu on the older material, Live in Ancient Kourion (Century Media) should ease your mind and ears.￼
Re-recording albums are generally hit and miss and often acoustic reworking of songs can be a little off the mark. What’s quite puzzling about Katatonia’s Dethroned And Uncrowned is that they have entirely re-recorded their latest album, Dead End Kings from 2012, in mostly acoustic form. It begs the question why? Why re-record an album that came out just a year ago opposed to a collection of songs from your catalogue? It’s what Anathema did with Hindsight and it worked a treat. Nevertheless, Katatonia were determined to make this album, even venturing into crowd-funding to make it all happen. They even moved away from Peaceville to its sister label Kscope, one of modern prog rock’s most esteemed labels with Steven Wilson and Ulver on their roster. Given the tone and mood of Dethroned And Uncrowned, the move makes all the sense in the world.
Showcasing the their ten album career, the set list for this massive bad boy consists mainly of Matt Barlow and Tim Owens era highlights, sprinkled in with some John Greely and Gene Adams tunes for good measure. From the intro to the finale, the production on here is top notch. Everything sounds crisp, clear and powerful. All you need is a surround sound system, and you could almost imagine being there. Starting off with songs from the last album, Stu shows you why he’s the man for the job now. He tears through ‘Burning Times’ and ‘Angels Holocaust’ so flawlessly, you would think he was the only one who sang them. I was happy to hear some of my favorite songs ‘Dracula’, ‘Ten Thousand Strong’ and ‘Damien’ in the mix. Even though Luke is the new guy, you can’t tell. He lays down some fine bass lines and fits nicely in the pocket with Brent’s drumming on songs like ‘Watching Over Me’ This band’s longest running guitar team of Jon Schaffer and Troy Seele is sonic bliss. They complement each other so very well, especially on the epic ‘Dante’s Inferno’. Not only is this a great “best of”, it also a good introduction to the band for anyone unfamiliar with them. With two discs spanning close to two and a half hours, not too mention the concert, plus a ton of behind the scenes extras on the DVD, this is a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.
Dethroned And Uncrowned is heavily laden with layers of acoustic guitars, spectral pianos and morose string sections. There are several nuances to be picked out of theses lush arrangement but like many a Katatonia album since their 1998 change of direction on The Discouraged Ones, the vocals of Jonas Renkse steals the show. Unsurprisingly, the best songs from Dead End Kings are the best songs from Dethroned And Uncrowned. ‘The Parting’ opens with Jonas’ imposing croon and the acoustic guitars begin to blossom from there into the rich chorus and the duet with The Gathering’s Silje Wergeland on ‘The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here’ makes for one of the early highlights of the record. Dead End Kings’ midpoint was made up of largely filler tracks like ‘Leech’ and ‘Ambitions’ though. They inhibited much of the album’s momentum before picking up the impetus again ‘Undo You’. Sadly, these events are repeated on this album and it’s very much shaped as two hills and a trough.‘Lethean’ and ‘First Prayer’ are once again the ultimate standouts, where the former’s utterly gorgeous chorus sounds equally as affecting and powerful with mere acoustic guitars as it does with a grandiose electric. Dethroned And Uncrowned is a fan’s album and it’s difficult to see its appeal reaching beyond someone that already owns every Katatonia record. Regardless, it can be enjoyable, just inessential.
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Levin Minnemann Rudess
A paradigm shift can be described as a change in a believe system or a general view of how a large group of people perceive things, often in a scientific, social or philosophical context. It’s also the title of the upcoming Korn album, which marks the return of guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch. The new record is being marketed, or hyped if you will, as a return to the band’s original sound, so let’s see whether this claim holds any water.￼ The Path Of Totality, the previous Korn album, was a bold attempt to unify the band’s guitar-driven sound with dubstep. The reception of this eclectic hybrid was mixed, but I really welcomed this fresh take on the familiar sound. The Paradigm Shift (Caroline) sees Jonathan Davis and Co return to their more traditional ways, although some dubstep traces still linger in tracks like ‘Paranoid And Aroused’ and ‘Never Never’. So with Head aboard again can we expect the same kind of ferocity which made Korn (1994), Life Is Peachy (1996) and Follow The Leader (1998) such enthralling albums?
Super-groups are everywhere in 2013, but nowhere more-so than in progressive music. It seems the milk of creativity is bringing some of the best names in the world together, is producing killer new albums. One such group is Levin Minnemann Rudess, and their stellar, new album LMR (Lazy Bones Recordings).￼ The names almost smack you in the face: Tony Levin is prog royalty, having played with many incarnations of King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Liquid Tension Experiment, and even on David Bowie’s new album. Marco Minnemann is best known for his work with Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats, but also tech death kings Necrophagist and Ephel Duath among many others. Marco may have provided the germ of the idea to create this project in fact. Finally, there is Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. The collective history, professionalism, ingenuity, and class of these individuals can be heard dripping off every note of LMR.
Arguably one of the most prominent bands to fly the good ship Space rock, New Jersey star-gazers Monster Magnet have been around for well over two decades now, releasing several well-received records. Their songs regularly feature in Hollywood films and they’ve even had a Marvel Comics mutant named after one of their songs. There have been downsides however, with frontman Dave Wyndorf’s well-documented struggle with drug addiction threatening to scupper everything. However 2013 sees Wyndorf supposedly back on the straight and narrow and eager to prove the Monster Magnet is still turned on with Last Patrol (Napalm Records).
The Paradigm Shift
The answer is a decisive ‘no’. The band has matured over the years and that’s reflected in tracks like ‘Prey For Me’, ‘Love & Meth’ and ‘Lullaby For A Sadist’. Although Davis and Co still manages to write memorable tracks with catchy hooks and strong choruses, there is a disturbing lack of genuine passion and sense of urgency. This makes The Paradigm Shift feel more like a contractual obligation than a genuine return to form. Any sense of drive or aggression gets completely smothered in the overly polished production by Don Gilmour. Although The Paradigm Shift still has the occasional flash and dash, but overall speaking I find the album to be quite underwhelming. I wasn’t quite expecting a Life Is Peachy or Follow The Leader part II, but some genuine passion and real energy wouldn’t have hurt. As it stand now, The Paradigm Shift comes across as a release from a band suffering from a collective midlife crisis, than a genuine return to form. A shame really.
From the first distorted bass notes of ‘Marcopolis’ that brings in the album, you get a full plate of sounds, both fun, funky and inspiring. Jazz inflected prog rock is the main course, but obviously the band has a flair for the dramatic and weird too. Each member takes a turn as the leader, but all of the parts ebb and flow in a studiously constructed and well composed manner. Some parts of the album are surprisingly heavy, which pleasantly caught me off guard. Minnemann provided the guitars too, which are nicely tucked into the mix, helping to support other sounds. Marco really lays it down on songs like ‘Frumious Banderfunk’, ‘Scrod’, ‘Mew’, and ‘Orbiter’. I bet he could do a new drumming DVD, just off of the work on this album. All in all, this is a must have album, but also for the modern newbie prog metal kids, if they really want a lesson in how great music is made and played.
Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
The stripped-down, melancholic guitar lines of opening track ‘I Live Behind The Clouds’ may come as a surprise to those expecting the fuzzedout bombast of before but this is a more mature Monster Magnet than days gone by, with Wyndorf’s distinctive singing echoing the great American tradition of singer-songwriters, yet an exuberant solo promises that there’s much more to come. The title track follows, clocking in at nearly ten minutes and seems to indicate that the band is favouring a more Classic Rock approach this time round. Acts such as Thin Lizzy and The Eagles are called to mind and the images are of distant mountains rising high above a desert plain rather than a multi-coloured vision of outer space. The mainstream appeal of Last Patrol cannot be denied, yet it seems unlikely that the thought of selling out ever entered Monster Magnet’s collective head. They’ve just matured so well as songwriters that the talent shines through, and although there will be those that miss the Space rock voyages of Spine Of God, many more will be drawn to the likes of ‘The Duke (of Supernature)’ , a song tailor made for dance floors. One of the more grown-up releases of the year so far, let’s hope that the ominous title is not an indication of Monster Magnet’s intention to call it quits, for they haven’t been this good in years.
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Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities) Commemorating a quarter century with a collection of outtakes and b-sides often delivers mixed results but West Yorkshire’s gloomiest act have never been afraid to take chances. Encompassing outtakes from the last couple of studio releases plus a couple of cover versions and two re-workings of old favourites, ultimately, i will appeal mostly to collectors and existing fans but when you acknowledge this as five guys having fun in the studio in between albums, it becomes a far more enjoyable affair than many stopgap efforts. Albums of this nature have a tendency to lack a cohesive flow but while this is true, there are a couple of gems to be had here. Tragic Idol era opener “Loneliness Remains” is typical of their recent output. Sabbathian dirge meets funereal bleakness and the orchestral reworking of “Faith Divides Us (Death Unites Us)” is certainly a highlight but the re-workings of the older numbers do not differ enough from their original form to merit more than a cursory glance. “Gothic 2013” feels a bit pointless as the only real difference is the slightly cleaner vocal and while it has been apparent for some time that Nick Holmes prefers to use his more melodic range, it makes you wonder why Greg Macintosh’s gruff backing vocals are not put to further use. Considering the strength of his death vocals in side project Vallenfyre, it makes you wonder why Paradise Lost have not utilised his considerable skills when performing older compositions live. Holmes himself manages to snarl impressively through “Our Saviour” which could perhaps be a sign the band may break out some of the “Lost Paradise” material live, something which fans have long hoped for. The mishmash of styles the band have employed throughout their career have polarised opinion yet PL’s influence on a generation of acts can never be denied. Of the covers Spear of Destiny number “Never Take Me Alive” is interesting, but Everything But The Girl’s “Missing” harks back to the ill advised Depeche Mode-light flavour of their “Host” era. Likewise, the ill-fitting instrumental “Godless” will be avoided by even the most devoted of fans. Perhaps a live album with these extras as a bonus disk would have been a more fitting manner to celebrate 25 years of the band’s dark art.
All Remixed Up
If you think re-mix albums are a passe vestige of the 1990s, you are not alone. I think back to an earlier time when the lines between early club DJ’s, Factoryera bliss, and the birth of real industrial heavy music bled into a Bermuda Triangle of thrills. Sometimes the results were tepid, sometimes they were amazing; and once the music industry knew there was an audience for them; re-mix albums became a commodity. Fastforward to Maynard James Keenan’s troupe Puscifer, and along with his many cohorts evolved things to back to where it came from. Within just a handful of releases, Puscifer has made the remix part of the lexicon of the band, as much their standard form albums.￼ All Remixed Up (Puscifer Entertainment) flies in the face of convention, reinterpreting the entire Conditions of My Parole album from 2011, with much of the writing and performing cast returning, as well as some surprising guests. Keenan is joined by his usual composing partners of Mat Mitchell, Josh Eustis, Allain Johannes (Eleven, QOTSA), Carina Round, and Rani Sharon (Stolen Babies). Some of the songs are cleverly re-worked with some variations on the original theme. Others are in stark contrast, with just trace elements of musical DNA remaining. ‘Telling Ghosts (Giorgia O’Queef mix)’ as re-mixed by Round, is a true revelation. Round is the secret weapon of the band, using her powerhouse voice to trade verses with Keenan. Keenan will often match his own vocal lines off of hers, which has to be quite the compliment to her. This track exemplifies the approach of the band, where everyone has a chance to shine, where they can make the difference for the better of the song.
Sadgiqacea harness the power of legendary bands such as Isis and Neurosis but match it with the sludgy progressive genius riffs that would make Mastodon and Baroness proud to call their own. That is only half the story as Sadgiqacea adds ambient style noises to the mix along with a dose of gloomy reality.￼ False Prism shows that Sadgiqacea have finally arrived in a big way; after a string of acclaimed EPs and live performances, Sadgiqacea are ready to reap the rewards they’ve rightfully earned after being picked up by Candlelight. The crisp production quality helps to burst forth ‘False Segments’ - an epic beast full of snarling sludge/post-metal riffs that will tear at your very soul. It is unrelenting in its brutality but still has quite a groove to it. Some superb psych based riffs come into play to show that Sadgiqacea are a band not afraid to experiment with their own sound.
Remixing is not always about radically changing the makeup of a song, but more like creating a new presentation, like a chef would. ‘The Green Valley (Verde River Maestro 507 mix)’ remixed by Sharone, ‘Man Overboard (11AD remix)’ by Johannes, and ‘Oceans (Green Mussel Mix)’ by Zac Rae all have an ethereal quality that stays with you long after listening to them. Kudos also go to standout mixes by Sir-MixA-Lot, and Aaron Harris of PALMS/ISIS. All the while, the music never takes itself too seriously, keeping the undercurrent of intellect, and tongue in cheek humor ever-present in the band. In typical Keenan fashion, he never fails to surprise, be it is his production choices, or quality of collaborators. He has re-mixed the concept of the re-mix album; as way to deepen the listeners’ relationship to the artist, and each album.
‘True Darkness’ is where Sadgiqacea throw caution to the wind and blast their way into your subconscious. The track takes what has come before it – sublime gloomy ambient psych based sludge/post-metal riffs – and turns it on its head. The drumming is simply astonishing on this track; full of hard-hitting power that feels like they could start a war of their own. It feels like the drums and guitars are in a battle with each other, both vying for supremacy. This is where Sadgiqacea embrace the darkness with relish and brings the album to a fitting close.
Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
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Doomsday Elite Following the release of sophomore album Bestial Supremacy back in 2008, Norwegian five-piece Sarkom have left a couple of EPs and a split with Urgehal in their wake and whilst this may have temporarily sated the appetites of fans of their depraved and brutish sound, it didn’t keep it at bay for long. So it seems that third full length Doomsday Elite (Dark Essence) could not come soon enough.￼ This picks up pretty much where Bestial... left off – a snarling maelstrom of furious tremolo picking and savage riffs, wall-to-wall blast beats, blood curdling vocals and the occasional smattering of funeral-esque keys. This is by no means an original effort, but Sarkom make no claims to be. This is eight tracks of angry, provocative hatefilled aggression. Following the pattern of albums past, the relentless thrashing is spliced with slower, atmospheric passages – most notably on ‘I Utakt Med Gud’ (roughly translated to ‘in league with god’) – providing a welcome respite from the audio hammering your eardrums have already endured. This is true Norwegian black metal to its very core – no gimmicks, no holds barred, just pure blackened terror.
The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart Refusing to listen to the naysayers who urge them to call it a day, Brazilian behemoths Sepultura keep plodding on, like a wheezy dinosaur lumbering on to inevitable extinction with the glory days of the late 80’s and early 90’s when they were releasing utter classics such as Arise a distant memory. They arguably haven’t recorded anything great since frontman Max Cavalera jumped ship in 1996, and while he seems content to keep “focking sheet up” in Soulfly, his former band has taken several turns into angular, left-field territory, with the occasional odd cover thrown in for good measure, on a series of underwhelming releases. Can curiously named new album The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart (Nuclear Blast), their thirteenth studio offering, stop the rot?￼ Opening track ‘Trauma Of War’ comes as a complete surprise with its serrated Slayer-esque riffing indicating that Sepultura may have at last listened to their loyal fans who just want the band to go back to the old groove/thrash workouts that they did so well. Derrick Green’s gruff vocals are largely buried in the mix, allowing Andreas Kisser to riff hard, while the clinical percussion of Eloy Casagrande does the job nicely, although the tribal rhythms of old are not forthcoming. The abrasive style continues with the blistering ‘The Vatican’ with the band members playing harder and faster than they have done in years. It isn’t quite the old-school Sepultura we know and love but it still sounds pretty damn heavy. The meaty thrash metal of ‘Tsunami’ calls to mind bands such as The Haunted, who also realised that a bit of weirdness and originality could do wonders to your average thrash record, relaxing the pace in favour of a slightly more angular tempo that gives some variety to proceedings. That said, the monstrous groove of ‘The Bliss Of Ignorants’ takes no prisoners with its route one approach,
with Green making himself heard with a series of loud bellows. The pace slows down even further on the well-worked ‘Grief’ alternating between tranquil calm and crushing walls of noise while things get even better on the kinetic riffage and brooding atmospherics of ‘The Age Of the Atheist’ with Kisser again demonstrating his knack for flashy solos and gnarled, crushing riffs.
So this is Soulfly’s ninth album and it’s different. It’s not like the last few records, where they were over the top fast and full of brutality. Savages (Nuclear Blast) is a lot slower, not in the sludge or doom way; but in more single kick than double bass drum heavy. This album is it’s own animal. In a good way! Max Cavalera sounds great, full of piss and fire. There’s a youthful tint to his flow and in his playing. Fellow axeman, Marc Rizzo does wonders on this one. His leads give so much to this album. The grooviness of the songs make him standout. The last solo ‘Bloodshed’ from 4:30-5:22 to my ears that is probably my favorite Marc solo. The vibe just bleeds eerie. Newest member to the tribe, hell he was born into it, is Max’s son, Zyon Cavalera. He fits perfectly, he can thrash it up when its called for and turn into a grove machine with the quickness. It must be pretty awesome to share a passion like music with ones child. He reminds me of Dave Grohl in a lot of places. Tony Campos is solid as always. He and Zyon lock in pretty damn nicely. What would a Soulfly record be without its guest stars? In no particular order; Napalm Death’s Mitch Harris loans not his axe, but his throat to ‘K.C.S.’. So does Neil Fallon of Clutch on the catchiest track to date: ‘Ayatollah Of Rock N Rolla’. At first listen I thought it was David Vincent again, but I was wrong. Jamie Hanks of I Declare War screams his head off on ‘Fallen’ and did well. Last up is Max’s other son, Igor on ‘Bloodshed’. Legendary and long time producer Terry Date returns to produce and mix this bad boy. Savages is crisp and full sounding like you would expect from him. The only thing missing for me was the inclusion of ‘Soulfy IX’ that is found on bonus editions. Another fine notch in the Soulfly legacy. It’s a grooving piece of thrash.
8/10 James Conway
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Words: Sean M. Palfrey
Immediately Ensemble Pearl’s sel
Throne Of Katarsis
The Three Transcendental Keys Throne Of Katarsis have been active since 2002, however, for those not in the know the fact that two of their four members also play in Gehenna should speak volumes about what to expect from these Norwegians. They are traditional black metal in every sense; from the raw production, to the cold sound, right down to the ethereal and slightly creepy atmosphere created by each of their songs. Fourth full-length The Three Trranscendental Keys (Candlelight) is comprised of three gargantuan length tracks; ‘Of Rituals (And Astral Spells)’, ‘Beyond The Spectres’ and ‘In Timeless Aspects’. The esoteric theme running throughout this album flows fluidly and seamlessly with the music helping to create a lucid and unsettling mood. Each track builds upon the next one, becoming steadily more theatrical and demonic sounding as the record progresses, while the guitar possesses just enough distortion to still keep the gritty 90’s feel the band has encapsulated. Unlike the vast majority of BM releases, the bass is very much audible and even has its own parts to play that don’t always necessarily mould with the guitars, giving the band an edge that puts them head and shoulders above the rest of Norwegian traditionalists.
Vattnett Viskar Sky Swallower
Vattnet Viskar are one of the countless new black metal bands that have taken the once vilified and ridiculed genre and are helping to breathe new life into it making it once again one of the most exciting heavy metal genres. The trouble is, when a genre of music starts to become popular every man and his dog is at it (remember grunge?) and among the genuinely masterful acts one or two are sure to have slipped through the net. Vattnet Viskar are not an awful band, certainly not one of those that slipped through, but on the basis of Sky Swallower (Century Media) they could pop out. This debut album from the Plaistow, NH gang is a strange and sometimes irritating mixture of thrillingly evil black metal and strolling clean-channel-amp guitar fannying about. The bleakness and the heaviness don’t quite merge as well as some of their genre markers. The first three minutes or so of ‘Breath Of The Almighty’ is a stubbornly dirty attack but the next few minutes are a dull guitar picking exercise. ‘Ascend’ sounds like a studio outtake that was only tacked on to get the numbers up. It should be noted that to sound bleak doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pull out the old acoustic. The staggering ‘Mythos’ blends the most desolate soundscapes with frighteningly vicious black metal – it’s the helplessness in the guitar tone that sends shivers down the spine. A misfire as far as Vattnet Viskar are concerned, but there is enough on display to prove that when the balance is found, VV are going to tear things apart.
Vista Chino Peace
Reunions can be wonderful things. Bands get to re-live the halcyon glory of days long past, riding a wave of rosetinted nostalgia from critics who still wax lyrical about their seminal debut album some 20-odd years ago, and for fans who lap up the chance to see their heroes in the flesh and hear the old classics they know and love so well. New material is an added bonus, for often these reunited acts are content to let their existing body of work do the talking, and fear the criticism of a far more critical audience with shorter attention spans than those before. However, these glory-filled reunions can go badly wrong, as Vista Chino discovered recently. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, Vista Chino are otherwise known as Kyuss, beloved stoner-rock titans who split up in the mid 90s after releasing four seminal albums. When vocalist John Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork resurrected the band in 2011, all seemed to be going swimmingly until former guitarist Josh Homme, now earning mega bucks in desert rock-lite mainstream act Queens Of The Stone Age and bassist Scott Reeder cried foul, issuing a cease-and-desist order, and forcing the band to adopt the Vista Chino moniker to avoid a costly lawsuit. Quite why Homme and Reader decided to throw their toys out of the pram is anyone’s guess, but their petulance hasn’t dented enthusiasm for what is essentially a new Kyuss album, called Peace (Napalm Records), in all but name, something fans have craved for many long years.
In case you were wondering. John Garcia sounds just as good as he ever did, his distinctive Southern croon lighting up the quirky melodies of the classic rock-driven ‘Adara’ like a torch through a desert sunset. He takes a break on the brief instrumental ‘Mas Vino’ allowing Nick Oliveri to show off his bass skills before returning in suitably languid style on the slow burning blues of ‘Dark & Lovely.’ However, be prepared to take a ride on the stoner train into infinity and beyond as the 13 minute ‘Acidize – The Gambling Moose’ not only attempts to win plaudits for oddest song-title of the year, but also for proving that desert rock is not just about burning heat and peyote as all four members of Vista Chino give it their all in a sustained effort. Given that no other band of their ilk has ever come close to bettering the Kyuss sound, this was hardly ever likely to go wrong, and with the likes of Garcia and Bjork at the helm, Vista Chino are a blast from the past that are surely here to stay, and one that any self-respecting rock fan should thank his/her lucky stars for. Welcome back gentlemen!
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LIvE Re v ie w !
girls and very neat looking guys with short hair. Even band shirts aren’t a norm, though there are a fair amount of Mastodon shirts around.
Live At 013 Tilburg, NL Last year a tragic event interrupted Baroness’s European tour. The aftermath of the tour-buss crash lead to doubt whether they’d ever be able to play again or if they would quit. Both the drummer and bassist gave up, but John Baizley and Peter Adams decided to power on through and promised us they’d visit the continent again soon. Now that time has arrived. With two new members, Baroness open their European tour on the 27th of September in the 013 in Tilburg their “home away from home” as the band put it. Opening will be Royal Thunder, an ambitious rocking three-piece from Atlanta, Goergia. The room of the sold out venue is half packed by the time Royal thunder take the stage. Mlny Parsonz husky voice opens into some powerful heavy rock, with a dark bluesy progressive edge. Sadly the mix is a little off, where the drums drown out Parsonz vocals quite often. The music is expertly performed, and even though there is a very distracting burnt plastic smell making its way through the venue from near the sound booth, Royal Thunder leave a powerful impression on the crowd that’s already there. Only the stage presence and connection to the audience fails a little. Guitarist Josh Weaver honors his name and moves like a caged animal, engrossed in his playing back and forth and back and forth in a stereotypical manner, Parsonz plays her bass like a wild minx and gives her all in the mic, and the faces drummer Evan Diprima makes are enticing to say the least, but none of it seems directed at the crowd. When they launch into their final dark more atmospheric song do they really manage to suck me into the music. During the change over the room slowly fills and fills, and people move forward more. With their last record the crowd has changed to that from early 2010 when I last saw Baroness, touring Blue. There are less long haired, bearded metal fans and more people you wouldn’t expect necessarily expect at a rock gig. There are couples holding hands, more
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As Baroness enters the stage, the packed room goes ecstatic. They launch into a surprisingly heavy set. Even though it’s mostly material from yellow, a little green and some of the gentler pieces of blue this set sound pretty brutal. Yellow is clearly played louder live than on record. With Baroness the vocals also drown a little in the violent torrent of guitars, drums and bass, but this doesn’t matter much. With baroness you don’t sing the lyrics, you sing the guitars. John’s vocals are a little thin in the clean and sometimes a little off, though they improved from before. A real surprise is actually how strong Peter Adams voice is. Whenever the two of them harmonize Adams voice gives some real backbone to hold of the tide of the music. The stage presence of the band has also changed for the better since 2010. Back then there was hardly any light or interaction with the crowd, they didn’t move as much but played technically very well. Now there is more room for banter in between songs, to move and bounce around the stage more and play face offs to each other. This leads to some minor misses in the musical field, namely in “Cocainium”. Sebastian Thomson (drums) being a little off beat for a while but correcting himself, some minor misses in guitar parts and new bassist Nick Jost playing a little off key once, but all this cannot dampen the experience. The chemistry in the band is exceptional; though it’s obvious the two new members still have to find their footing a little. The band is obviously more than happy to be on the road again and express their joy of playing in Tilburg many a time. The new crowd is clearly very happy to be here, but a little more tame than the former, more metal, crowd. They nod along and stick up the horns, but very few really headbang. Still the vibe is great and songs get sung along full throttle, especially when John Baizley invites us to join more, where music is a communal process. At the end we get an encore of three louder songs, ending with the fabulous ‘Isak’ from Red, a blasting end to an awesome musical evening. Baroness still got it. Words and Pictures: Susanne Maathuis
Heidenfest Live At 013, Tilburg .nl
Heidenfest grew into probably the largest, reoccurring folk metal phenomenon (aside from Paganfest) in Europe. And even while it is an annual event, it’s popularity among metalheads is far from decreasing. The venue 013 in Tilburg (NL) was crammed with fans watching the following bands: Frosttide, Winterstorm, Suidakra, Heidevolk, Equilibrium, Turisas and Ensiferum. Being the first band on such a tour can turn out to be a bad thing. The Finns from Frosttide did not have that problem today. As soon as the doors opened, the masses entered. So when Frosttide took the stage, the large hall was pretty full already. Be sure to check them out if you are a fan of the genre! Due to interview duties yours truly missed Winterstorm and managed to only see a few songs of Suidakra. Even though this band has been around for years and regularly released albums, the last time they played in The Netherlands was in 2011. As one of the more death metal orientated bands on this tour, the change from folky tunes and epic synths to music that lends itself mainly for headbanging was a welcome one. Heidevolk was a special guest on the tour today. For some, substitute vocalist Mickeal from Mondvolland might be a new face. He’s been replacing ex-vocalist Joris Boghtdrincker on gigs. The enthusiastic renditions of the Heidevolk songs made the audience estatic. The set list of the band was well balanced between the newer songs as ‘Wapenbroeders’ and ’Vlammenzee’ and a golden oldie as ’Furor Teutonicus’. During ’Vulgaris Magistralis’, even 013 seemed too small to hold this crowd, proving yet again that Heidevolk is one of a kind in our country. The band line-up of Equilibrium featured a different face as well. Guitarist René had to stay home and Arkadius from Suidakra took his place. This switch of musicians did not influence Equilibriums gig, they played strongly
as ever. Soon after the five-piece group entered the stage, the room soon turned into a warm, sweaty area as the crowd jumped to the often joyful tunes as ’Unter Der Eiche’ and ’Unbesiegt’. The Waldschrein EP this year as something in between. This EP also contains the track ’Himmelsrand’, which when the band plays it, always awakens the inner nerd wanting to play Skyrim then and there. The reactions to the new Turisas album differ widely. But judging on the response to the bands performance in 013, it seems like most fans have not abandoned ship. The concert hall was very crowded and the fans seemed to have a good time. No other band equalled the group this evening when it came to the dedication to their live show. The songs were played vigorously, old ones, like ’A Portage To The Unknown’ or newer tracks, ’Stand Up and Fight’. The heavy new track ’Greek Fire’ stood out in the set list because of the well-timed light and smoke effects, which take you straight into the atmosphere of the song. Together with Heidevolk, Turisas’ show was the most powerful of Heidenfest in Tilburg. Headliner Ensiferum faced quite a task in living up to the standards set by their fellow countrymen. In some ways, they didn’t. The sound was a problem: it was hard to hear the keyboard, the microphones were not well balanced and drums were dominant in the mix. Despite of this, many people stayed to watch the show, probably because these Finns always seem to give a nice performance. Mainly the last song was a blast. Ensiferum brought out huge Mexican hats and covered ’Bamboleo’, while other bands (all dressed up) joined the stage to end Heidenfest 2013 with one hell of a party. This years Heidenfest brought us the opportunity to get to know some new bands, and/or enjoy the familiar ones. We can start looking forward to the next edition, or perhaps Paganfest first! Words: Laetitia Abbenes Photos: Susanne Maathuis
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Incubate Festival Live At Various Venues, Tilburg, Nl
Let’s tell you something about Incubate first; This cultural circus settles itself in Tilburg every year for a week. With art and theatre and music of various kinds, lectures and general cultural goodness it’s known to turn every pub into a venue. It’s not particularly known as a metal festival, however enticing us with a black metal Friday this year, billing names such as Immortal and Mayhem, we couldn’t resist to take a peek. This year Susanne and Kaat will brave the tidal wave of different cultural influences to report on the darker and louder sides of this wonderful festival. On the 20th of September they were set up for a good night of some old fashioned (and some new stuff) black metal. And even took a look at some nice doom on Sunday.
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LIvE Review! Friday On Friday the 20th we went into the 013 for some frostbitten, aggressive, filthy and sick black metal. For starters we got some nice sludge shoved in our throats by Iron Witch, as first band on the metal program, they did rather nice with a full crowd. It was hard to get in the stage 01 from the beginning till the end of the evening; you could see that as an accomplishment. Iron Wich brings us screams that are made to kill some bass that oozes through your body and drums on your heart. Even though they didn’t bring us anything special, they set the mood for the evening. And we thank you for that. Serpent Noir was up next in the green room (dutch name: kleine zaal) unfortunately they were doomed with a soundtech that was kind of wrestling with the overall sound. They started with a nice dark and atmospheric intro, which had caught the feeling of the whole set of this band. With songs about fire, ecstasy and infamous Draconian tradition they bring us vile and very dark black metal. They gave us an example of some real nasty and filthy black metal, and they did this well. Khold brought us some very spherical riffs in a quite oldschool way. This was some real nice black that battered on for the whole 45 minutes and didn’t bore at all time. In the front some nice headbanging was going on. Some of the people who got a week ticket (yes the festival takes part from Monday till Sunday) and didn’t know what was going on in the 013 were quite smashed by what was going on there. But after some of them left, some stayed and even they got the hang out of this blackness all around them. Then Verbum Verus played in the small stage, this band is a local band from Tilburg. And they definitely ripped the place apart. Even the naïve ones to stand in front of the stage for some headbanging got sprayed on with blood; you saw people covered in blood leave the venue. Preaching and demanding these guys bring you some perfect shaped unholy riffs, sickening growls and drums that hiss at you like a rattle snake. Even adding some atmosphere with some incense drooling through the venue and candles lit up on the stage. They definitely earned their place on this bill, they bring you quality, they bring you the core and something to think about. Following up was Gehenna on the main stage, they lend their name from the bible, that describes the place of Gehenna as a place outside of Jerusalem were children were sacrificed to the god Moloch. This rhythmic, aggressive, filthy and very battering black metal gives you a full package.
Even with some steps outside for some nice doomy parts. They bring you little presentation; the band doesn’t do much on itself. But if you just listen to the music you can feel what it is about. It is some nice cult black metal, even existing for quite a while since 2013. A really nice show, nothing special, nothing shocking. But they are very convincing. The same goes for Mayhem, they roamed the genre for quite a while and are still standing strong. Theatrical, dark, hard and provoking they put on a really nice and tight show. From the depths of hell front man Atilla Csihar is preaching for the darker ways. Bowing down on the audience that is head banging and being very enthusiast of seeing Mayhem on the 013 main stage. This clearly is a band with a lot of history, if we can say. We all know the story of Mayhem and we’re not going to repeat that here, just look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t know it. The provoking behavior really took part of the success of Mayhem. They have an enormous live reputation, and it is showing once again. But where there was once animal heads and blood there is now standard stage light and some relics held up by the front man. This is causing the show to get to theatrical sometimes. Mayhem sounds dark and vile and some dirty looks are thrown into the crowd to fuck them up some more. Guitars are ripping through your eardrums, drums and bass are fast as an oiled machine and they go together with vocals that rip through everything that is alive. It is clear that the reputation of the band is still standing. Last time they were in Tilburg they even thrashed a hotel room. We were thinking if they have been nice this time. Finally it was time for Immortal to get on the stage. From the beginning of the show till the end of the show you’d got that oldschool feeling. The core of black metal was standing right in front of you, and that is why we wanted this experience from the front row. We landed into a wild crowd full of headbanging and moshing menace. A lot of the people in the crowd must have felt like they were thrown into a fucking candy shop and got locked up in happiness as the eight year old they all were in the past. This would be an full pyro show, and they delivered. To the foul, deep and hard as shit black metal as they are they added pyro’s some fire spitting and a lot of smoke. If you were standing in the crowd you have definitely have felt the intense heat coming from the stage. These guys deliver and give you a full on black metal live experience. Hell freezes over on stage, with some ultrafast drumming and some really nice riffs that are getting thrown in your face. These are the creators of frostbitten black metal, and they show you how it’s done. And they still are big examples for other black metal bands out there.
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Incubate Festival Various Venues, Tilburg The Netherlands
Sunday On Sunday the 22th we went back to the 013 for our little after party. Kick back and read our experience. Opening this day in the greenroom were krust punk/trash metal legends Doom; Their name is deceiving, where they rarely have songs spanning over 2 minutes and thrive more on an aggressive vibe than the genre they share a name with. Loud and hard hitting these guys from Birmingham do get across a decent message, that is if you can make out any lyrics. All we can say it’s a great way to wake up. Renowned for their ability to start a pit anywhere we waited to see if the wild haired foursome would get the rather tired and thin crowd to do more than sedately nodding their heads. Sadly no pit happened, not even after some mild coaxing by frontman Denis Boardman(“Move! Or I’ll come get ya!”). we were happily kicked awake by these heavyweights, but I think they may have been to loud this early in the afternoon for incubates final day. Three in the afternoon is early when you’ve had a week of festival. Next we had Blackheart Rebellion in the Greenroom. Having played Roadburn expectation were high, and on record these post hardcore punky Belgians sound pretty good. Having missed them at Roadburn we were looking forward to finally seeing them live. They started with a lot of power and punch. Sadly as the show went on they lost memento, lost power and honestly became a bit dull. The show was energetic and quite engaging, but somehow the emotions meant to be trapped in the music didn’t leap across to the crowd. As the concert progressed quite a few people left the room, and by the end of the gig I felt I was listening to a completely different band. Next up we went to check out locals in Ggu;ll(do not ask us how to pronounce it). These four guys make a deep, ark, brooding sort of doom with atmospheric influences. Most prominent though are thundering riffs, crushing drums and anguished growls and screams from front man William van der voort. You feel yourself nodding off and getting dragged into the bleak, dramatic scenes they paint with their music, led by the almost melodramatic line of atmospheric melody. As opposed to most doom shows these guys actually are quite energetic on stage, headbanging and bouncing around. All out a gret gig and definitely a band worth checking out if you can.
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We went to see another local with quite a name. Faal is what we’re talking about. They deliver us some sickening funeral doom. They give us a homage to all bands that came before them, and they know how they have to do that. You can definitely see that these are men with experience and even experimental. Have you ever seen a guitarist play with a fiddlestick from a violin on its guitar? Faal does this. And it definitely brings you a very atmospherically sound and it drags you along in the feeling they want you to give. Their frontman is giving you some fowl screams along with some dragging riffs and vivacious drums. After Faal we went to see the very experimental drone band Barn Owl. This is a band where you should close your eyes to get the experience. They ought to bring you a musical experience in another way than most bands. They want to deliver a feeling moreover than technical music work. When we’ve closed our eyes we saw oil drainers bang up and down in a very slow way in a massive oil field while the oil oozes through the pipeline into your head. It builds up till you see a wasteland that has suffered under drought and war. It sounds desolate and threatening. It drums on in your head like a hulking and sad song. We’ve got drained out emotionally after this band. It even gives you trembling hands and it makes you anxious. And the closer of this evening for us was Worship which definitely had a similar atmosphere like bands as Anathema (early work) and Moonspell. They use some hamfisted and cumbrous vocals that use a lot of resonance. This definitely sets the tone for this band. Even on stage they stay quite true to the thick layers that are used on the many albums this bands has put out there. They will take your brain impulses and mutilate them to the obedience of their riffs. The feeling they give on stage is as a very slowly rotting disease that eats and doesn’t stop eating. Worship creeps and ponders in its slowness. In the audience you saw heads slowly bang up and down. And a weird hippy in the back that got totally possessed of something. Worship was definitely a nice band to end incubate. Kaat van Doremalen (text) Susanne Maathuis (text & pictures)
Katatonia , Cult of Luna , Intronaut, Tesserac Live At The Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
While the world moans and groans every Monday morning, September 23rd 2013 was a Monday that I could not be ashamed of. On this day, at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA, a very diverse line up of Katatonia, Cult of Luna, Intronaut, and Tesseract were slated to play what would be a memorable night. Unfortunately, due to the lack of driving abilities in and around the Boston area, I was actually late arriving to the show, even though I left my full-time job 30 minutes early. But as they say, “The show must go on!” When I arrived at The Paradise, Tesseract was literally striking their last note of their set and thanking the crowd. From what I gathered around the venue is that Tesseract is back and sounds better than ever! Having seen these Djentlemen a few times prior, I can vouch that the crowd saw quite the set. So after a few minutes of wondering around and checking out what merch was available for purchase, Intronaut was ready to play. Having seen Intronaut play with the likes of Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders, I was ready for the sudden heavy bass attack the L.A. foursome was about to deliver in Boston. Not long into the first song, ‘Killing Birds with Stones’, the Monday night crowd really got into it as large amounts of hair of all lengths and colors were swishing back and forth, trying to keep up with the progressive beats. Quite honestly, I caught myself just watching the bassist, Joe Lester, let his hand flail all over his basses fret board as each groove he laid down was more complex and interesting than the last! Due to time constraints, Intronaut was only able to play five songs (which is absolutely ridiculous, but that’s just my opinion). However, they really knew how to go out with a bang with the closer, ‘They (as in Them)’. The entire set had just about everyone’s attention at this point (there’s always one critic out in the crowd), but how they ended this song got literally everyone involved. As the song was winding down, the stage left guitarist, Dave Timnick, actually stopped playing guitar and jumped on a second percussion set that was mid-center of the stage. Danny Walker (drums/ samples) and Dave together brought the crowd into a frenzy with their beyond progressive, yet still fun, rhythms as Joe and Sacha Dunable (guitars/vocals) slowly made their way offstage. We were left with two drummers battling back and forth until the epic ending to what was probably the greatest five song set I have ever watched.
At this time I should mention my inner “fan boy” that I possess for Cult of Luna. I have known about their existence for so long, but only recently got to hear them (Vertikal is probably my album of the year to be honest). So let’s just say the wait to get seven different sets of instruments set up (two, yes two drum sets) was well worth the patience. After some quick discussions of upcoming shows in the area with nearby fellow metalheads, the lights dimmed and it was time for Cult of Luna. The slow background beat of the opening intro track to Vertikal, ‘The One’, started to play as all seven of The Cult came walking out to what was quite a loud ovation! As soon as the intro track finished playing, they were off and running with the next track from their newest album Vertikal: I: The Weapon. The light show from beginning to end was one of the most memorable spectacles of the evening as it really resembled the band to be standing together underneath moon light. The occasional strobe light flash behind both drummers/ percussionists, Thomas Hedlund and Magnus Lindberg, while they were berating their crash cymbals also left a lasting impression in my vision which only added to the intensity that is Cult of Luna. The outro of this first song really showed me a side of this band I didn’t yet know, and that is stage presence, and they have exactly what I was hoping for: energy!
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interview During the ending/climax of this song, all seven members (specifically: Johannes Persson on guitars/lead vocals, Fredrik Kihlberg on guitars/backing vocals, and Anders Teglund on keyboards/samples) were really getting into the moment of the song and just letting any kind of emotion they had for the song go. For the middle of the set list, we were treated to old classics such as ‘Ghost Trail’, ‘Owlwood’, and ‘Dead City, Dead Man’. Not having a lot of familiarity with the older songs, I really soaked up the set and actually felt myself get lost in some of their songs. As much as I wanted to see them play the nearly nineteen minute epic single, ‘Vicarious Redemption’, to close out the show, I actually got quite the fair trade. After an elongated intro due to a brief technical difficulty, Fredrik stepped up to his microphone and started his low volume yet chilling vocals to the track ‘Passing Through’. This much more mellow song gave the crowd a much needed break from the past hour or so of straight heavy pounding post-metal aggression. After this break, the short sample/track, ‘Disharmonia’, started playing as the rest of the band got their equipment tuned up ready to go out in a blaze of glory. Then the ever memorable riff of ‘In Awe Of filled the Paradise’ much to the excitement of the audience. At one point right before the climax of the song, all of the members (minus Thomas and Magnus) were towards the back of the stage facing away from the crowd. Just as some thought the set was coming to an end, they spun back around for one of my favorite post-metal ‘wall of sound crescendos’ which had all in attendance air-guitaring, headbanging, you name it they were doing it! As the song came to an end and Johannes thanked the crowd for a wonderful show, the entire crowd around me applauded and then the looks of confusion appeared. All of them were asking the same question: “How is Katatonia supposed to follow that?” As it was, this is not your typical Katatonia tour, either. The band is out in support of their Dethroned and Uncrowned (K Scope) album, their re-imagining of 2012’s Dead End Kings album, and that album is mostly a fans only affair. Yet, Katatonia has their die-hard fans and there were in the house on this night. They were treated to a fun set-list that went heavy on mood, and even less on the rage the band became famous for when they first came on the scene. Still, you have to give it to the band: they seem to know their fans tastes very well. Even though they were playing some re-worked versions of these songs, they definitely get points for tossing in some rare gems too. It’s been interesting to see the evolution of this band, and where they are headed next. This tour was a definite must-see! If your city is on the list of stops, don’t be a fool and skip out. Hell even if your city isn’t on the list, get a van of your buddies together, pack a bag of road snacks, and make your way to the closest stop. I promise you, it’s well worth it! Words: Tim Ledin Photos: Reid Haithcock
Katatonia, Cult of Luna, Intronaut, TesseracT the Paradise Rock Club in Boston MA
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Top 4 Records that changed my life Aort from Code
Bitches Brew Proof that nothing is sacred, everything is there to be broken down and rebuilt into something new.
First Utterance One of those albums that when I heard it, I thought it was written for me. Everything that is enchanting about the nature of England in all itâ€™s ethereal beauty.
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Seventh Son of a Seventh Son The ultimate album for me and a massive part of my musical outlook from the day it came out.
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
I waited for such a long time for this album to come out, and when it did, it was and still is the absolute pinacle of black metal.
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Birthday Cake by Jupiterâ€™s Playground
and graphic design
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