EDITORIAL With Bloodstock last weekend and Summer Breeze in Germany later this month the Summer festival season is slowly coming to an end here in Europe. However, with Damnation (UK), Eindhoven Metal Meeting (NL), Incubate (NL), Westend Festival (GE) and Euroblast (GE) there are lots of indoor festivals worth checking out in the coming months. Sticking with this theme GC Issue 11 is filled with reports on Bloodstock (UK), Into The Grave (NL) and Mayhem Festivals (US). This issue is also filled with some great content, including interviews with Devildriver, Phil Anselmo, Carcass, Satyricon, The Winery Dogs and a whole host of other cutting edge bands. Combine this with the monthly review section, live reviews and the special features section and you know you canâ€™t go wrong with Ghost Cult Magazine. Have fun reading this magazine and weâ€™ll be back with GC Issue 12 next month!
Raymond Westland Chief Editor
CREW CHIEF editor Raymond Westland
senior editors Keith Chachkes Ross Baker Filip Vuckovic
Content editors Noel Oxford Pete Ringmaster Angela Davey
Graphic designER Sara Teramo
Caitlin Smith, Sean Pierre-Antoine, 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, Marcus J. West, Sean McGeady, Chris Tippell, Sarah Worsley Front Cover Photo by Blueberryheaven
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ISSUE #11 CONTENTS
ALBUM OF THE MONTH HAKEN – THE MOUNTAIN
THE WINERY DOGS
EXTOL 24 REVOCATION 3 INCHES OF BLOOD
THE MONOLITH DEATHCULT 28
A U G
2 0 1 3
ALBUM REVIEWS 30
FESTIVAL REPORTS 40
BLOODSTOCK IN THE UK
MAYHEM FESTIVAL IN THE US
INTO THE GRAVE IN THE NL
Photos: Fabiola Santini
SPECIAL FEATURES 62
TOP 5 RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE WITH PETER WILDOER OF DARKANE
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ALBUM OF THE MONTH
the mountain Words: Mat Davies
British progressive outfit Haken have slowly but most assuredly built themselves something of an avid following over the past couple of years. This might be stating the bleedin’ obvious but this is hardly a surprise for those of us who follow this sort of thing. And, if you’re reading this, I suspect that you are the sort of person who does follow that sort of thing. Thanks to two solid records (the last album, Visions, in particular, being something of an underground classic) of open minded and open hearted progressive sounds, enhanced by a reputation for a stunning live show, it would be fair to say that the band have got to the point where there are now definite high expectations around them. The Mountain (InsideOut), the new release from the band, doesn’t find the band at any sort of crossroads but it does feel as though there is something to prove, that they can make the great leap forward. Breathe easy, fans and the unacquainted alike, The Mountain is a colossal record. Those of you with a penchant for this sort of thing will have doubtless searched for and found the lead track for the album, ‘Atlas Stone’. Intended as some sort of amuse-bouche for the rest of the record it contains all the elements that you are going to find on the rest of the album but, rather like an amuse-bouche, it doesn’t give you the full range of the satisfaction that you will get from what is a veritable feast of musical intelligence, dexterity and innovation.
from lead singer Ross Jennings simply spellbinding and heartbreaking. The eleven minutes of epic genius that goes by the name of ‘Pareidolia’ passes by in a flash of brilliant song construction, Eastern rhythms and melodies building to a zenith of progressive rock music that is warm, inviting and is perhaps the track that will have you nodding your head appreciatively, shouting “This is why I love prog!” to yourself and not giving a hoot whether anyone can hear you or not. And, finally, the love song at ‘The Heart Of Somebody’ sounds like valediction; it is assured, balanced and a fitting coda. The Mountain is, in many ways, the logical extension of where Haken have come from and where they are going; it is a genuine progressive record- it’s often challenging, juxtaposing different styles, genres and themes but it doesn’t feel forced or self-indulgent. It is a record that is full of intricate musical compositions that showcase a technically gifted band stretching and challenging themselves to make the best music they possibly can. And they have. At the heart of The Mountain there is honesty and integrity: not that you ever doubted that they meant it, but, boy, do they mean it. The Mountain is ambitious and heartfelt. Above all, The Mountain is human.
Because ‘It’s There’ sounds what might happen if Midlake decided to overdose on Camel records by way of Opeth; ‘Cockroach King’ has a creepy, relentless melody that sounds initially jarring but grows, inexorably, to be a track of sinister elegance. ‘In Memoriam’ is probably the most straightforward of the songs on the record but don’t make the mistake of assuming that it is simple. It’s packed to the gunnels with riffs galore and enough melody to open a music shop and driven by a pile driving energy that you cannot but doff your metaphoric cap to. It’s the sort of track that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. And stay stood up. ‘Falling Back To Earth’ sounds like the most progressively metal track on the album but that does its playful inventiveness a total disservice; it creeps in jazzy elements, Muse-like affectations and some serious keyboard wizardry. It is utterly bonkers: you’ll have already guessed I think it’s terrific. The plaintive and emotional ‘As Death Embraces’ sounds and feels like a pause for breath and contemplation, the naked tremulous vocal
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Devildriver is armed with a new album (Winter Kills), a new record label in Napalm Records, a new bassist, and a fresh perspective on the music industry as they enter their second decade as a band. Led by indomitable front man Dez Fafara, the band is poised to make an impact on the scene in 2013 and beyond with their new music and some major tours lined up. This is your third time working with producer Mark Lewis. What do you like about working with him? I like the guy; he’s a really good dude. He’s totally professional. He shows up on time, knows what he’s doing, and knows how to get the best out of you. I worked with him on the Last Kind Words and Beast and now on Winter Kills. He just seems to know our sound, and he knows how to keep our sound our sound. Which means he’s not going to impart what we use with other bands, and keeps us away from what other bands are doing as well. So we can make sure to keep that special thing that Devildriver has. That way we don’t sound like anyone else. It’s been now.. six records when this one comes out. Almost ten years and people have a hard time putting us is any kind of category. We’re kind of a square peg in a round hole, but over time our fans started calling us the “California Groove Machine” and I felt like that was a good title. If you’re going to have to give it a title, that was a good title and I felt like on this record, on Winter Kills, we specifically had to live up to that. It was a hard title to live up to, I mean you got to make sure. And we did on this record. Winter Kills is groove filled, hook-filled, very tight arrangement, a very cohesive record, and I’m excited. The players behind me, really, really played their ass off and I think that this is our best record. I think that if you’re a Devildriver fan, you’ll get into this one, you’ll love it. If you’re not a Devildriver fan, this one may turn you around, and if you’ve never heard of us, this is one to listen to, and you may want to go back in our catalogue to see where we’ve come from, and how we’ve changed. Every record is different. They all sound different, but with our signature sound. And that’s a difficult thing to do, but we managed to do it. I felt like the last record had a death metal tint to it. This one seemed to have a more straight up hardcore feel to your vocals. I really appreciate your clarity and annunciation. Thank you. I think it needed that. You needed to be able to understand what I was saying as well, as we didn’t stack a lot of the vocals. A lot of the bands out now are stacking 4-5-6-7 vocals over a verse, 4-5-6-7 vocals in a whisper, and all these other tracks to be heavy,
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but we stayed true and we stayed raw and I think that’s what really made this record great. We got a lot of first takes. Most of the record vocally is first takes. Most of those first takes were left singular, with maybe a word doubled or something here or there in order to make it stick out in the listeners’ headphones. If they are in headphones, to make it pan from ear to ear. Otherwise, we left it real raw and real kind of unproduced; except the presence is there. Because the sounds and the tones are there, so it’s really full. I think what you’re hearing, you know when you mentioned hardcore; I don’t have much of a hardcore background. I like The Crumsuckers and a few other bands from back in the day but I did grow up on early Black Flag, and Circle Jerks, The Germs, GBH, a lot of punk rock; so you’re hearing kind of a visceral quality in there that’s making you think hardcore. We’re going to make you think punk rock, but the thing is there’s so much groove in this music, that you put that kind of a vocal over a groovy hook, with hooky lyrics, and it just turns out to be the quality that is Devildriver. It was a good time recording it, and I was extremely focused so you’re catching a lot of little’ lightning in the bottle’ magic moments when you’re listening to it. It’s not four hours in the studio to get one track. Like I said, it’s all first takes, and I think when you get that feeling out of a record, people are gonna to hear it and they’re gonna feel it. So we hope people feel it with Winter Kills. You’ve been with Roadrunner Records forever, basically. So this is your first time away from Roadrunner. What made you decide it was time for a change? You know I think it was beneficial for both of us. I think the label and I came to the same conclusion. A lot of people were leaving the label; a lot of people were getting let go, a lot of people that worked me and signed me; getting let go. A lot of the bands were getting let go. I didn’t feel the passion there. I felt like on Pray For Villains and on Beast, especially in the United States on Roadrunner, they didn’t really pay attention to it, and that bummed me out man. You need to have passion within the people that you work with, and that work alongside you and I just wasn’t feeling their passion anymore. Napalm Records, I feel their vibe I feel their passion for the music. They’re a great business partner. We still have Roadrunner/Warner Brothers over in Australia, and we signed with Metal Blade in Japan so we have good working business partners with this. It’s difficult for me because, I’m artistic and I don’t like the art to be turned into a commodity, but you have to at a certain point in order to get out there and tour and reach certain goals. You have to have people, that if they are going to do that, they are not just numbers people, they got some kind of passion behind them and everyone that I’m working
with now on the business end has a lot of passion for the music. So I’m pleased to be with all these new business partners. It’s a new venture, it’s a new record, it’s a new bass player, it’s a new feeling for us, and we’ve definitely captured a record that’s going to back all that. I noticed you are very, very active on Twitter. I enjoy when you ask people to ask you any question and people start asking you every random thing, serious or not serious. You give very concise and matter of fact answers, and I appreciate your honesty. Let me tell you something. I’m a hermit, I’m a loner, and I’m an isolationist. I’m completely socially awkward. You’ll never find me at the strip club or backstage doing the whole “hang out party thing”. My hands started getting sweaty if I’m around more than fifteen people; I just want to bail out. A perfect example is that I was just at an awards show less than a month ago, and as soon as I was done playing I went straight to my bus and put on a movie, instead of going in and hanging out with all the bands and everything. It’s just too much for me. I prefer the isolation. The solitary and I prefer to just do my art and make music. That being said, I did take a job where I have to be a little social and got to be out there and on the road. Well it (Twitter) gives me an outlet. I’m able to talk to a mass audience or talk to people where I don’t need to put myself in a social situation, because that just doesn’t work for me anymore. I kind of bent to the rule where I just do better in some kind of isolation, with a few friends and not in big groups. So social media gives me an outlet I can post pictures on Instagram of my family and my dogs give people a bit of insight of what I do when I’m home. I’m a normal cat; I live a blue collar working class life. It’s how I grew up on the job site as a construction guy, and I remember that and that’s what’s
going on with me but Twitter and Instagram give me a way to talk to people and not have to get out of my zone, which may be the back of the tour bus, or on my couch at home. Who knows? You have a family now and I know a lot of people have a hard time being on the road and whatnot. How do you juggle the band with the family? Well I’m a different kind of character. I never let the Ego, or the Id take over me, so I never became that rockstar that all of a sudden got a cocaine problem, left his wife and kids, crashed his car on the freeway, flipping off the cops. I stayed humble and kind of normal and I never bring any of that home to my family. So the way you balance that is you make sure your home between tours a little bit for a couple of weeks between tours and my wife, we have a three week rule: where if I go out for more than three weeks, she comes out to wherever I’m at. We don’t spend more than that apart from each other, but other than that, my life is pretty normal at home: cooking for the family, whatever. Gardening with my wife and swimming with the kids, and on the road I live the same way. I get up and try to find some place to stretch out and do some yoga, try to get my head together, and then I do the shows, and I go right back to the back lounge with a few friends some of my crew, watch movies and I stay away from all the rock and roll cliché bullshit, really. Anyone who knows me knows that that’s the definite truth. I’ve been on tour with bands before where I’ve been on tour with you for six weeks, and I’ve never met you, but it is what it is. I’m out there to do a job and do my gig, and I just don’t want to get caught up in any shenanigans. It’s the way that it goes. So the way I balance my family and my art is I make sure to keep my family first, and my art never intercedes, or anything around my art never intercedes.
BALANCING FAMILY LIFE AND MAKING ART
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Words: Omar Cordy
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THE ARTIST AND THE ARCHITECT Philip H. Anselmo. The name conjures to mind one of the most iconic figures in metal for the last twenty-five years. Loved and hated. Widely revered, often misunderstood, and begrudged, all at once. Nonetheless, Anselmo remains an immovable force of music through his legendary stints as the front man of Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual, and countless underground releases and guest spots. His current project is his first true solo-affair, Walk Through Exits Only (Housecore), and he has a new backing band known as The Illegals. He has other new projects in the mix outside of music too. Ghost Cult was glad to have a chat with Phil, who was upbeat about the future, and as affable as expected.
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Words: Keith Chachkes
What made this the right project to become your first true solo album? I guess when I wrote the fucker, that was my intention the whole time. I have done so many projects in my career that were just what they were meant to be, single album or two album projects, and then move on. This one it could go either way. You need to look at what is going on in my life when I wrote this record. The only thing I was doing at the time, and am still doing is Down, for sure. I think I played a few Arson Anthem gigs, but Arson is a something that is give or
take. Put it this way, as you know Mike IX Williams is very busy, he is the singer of Eyehategod, and they are very busy as of late. I very much consider that a side project that can live or die. When I sat down to write this record, I knew it was very unique and whatnot. I wanted to make a record and put my name on it, without having to use this brand new title of a band for everyone to buy into or some shit like that. Because I really wrote this album from the ground up, where as other projects are really collaboration between me and other artists. It feels very personal to me, and I didn’t want to confuse anyone. I wanted everyone to know it was coming from me. This is my gift to you, so be it. Is it fair to say that Walk Through Exits Only seems to be an assault on the shitty state of music, and the culture music business, metal or otherwise? Well you know, I don’t like to spoon feed the listener too terribly much. I like for them to do what you just did, which is to assume what the lyrics are trying to articulate. Now, I do have some pointed lyrical content in this stuff. Case in point would be the title of the record, Walk Through Exits Only. I picked that title because it’s vague enough for anyone to read into it, and take it and make it for themselves to be what they want it to be. It can mean one hundred different things to one hundred different people. Whether it is an assault on the music industry people are picking up on, or my disdain for people, or this, that or the other. Understand that is it is also a record where I am screaming at myself a whole lot. There is a great deal of sarcasm and tongue in cheek lyrical content in there. Really I wanted to be the architect, and let people finish off their own building so to speak, and let them make it their own. You have played with some of the greats of the genre in your career so far. How did you put together Marzi and Blue as The Illegals, and what made them stand out to you? First and foremost, I could have put together a band of very wellestablished musicians. I felt like, if I am doing a solo record, I wanted to utilize lesser known guys, who are absolutely baddass. And when I was writing the songs I had Marzi in mind the entire time, because this type of record Marzi and I dreamed about doing for years now. With that said, I wanted Marzi to absolutely shine on this fucking record and utilize his excellent ability at layering, at soundscapes, and all of the sonic differences he brings to the game. I wanted those things to shine, very brightly. I think we accomplished that. As far Blue goes... Blue came from Warbeast, and Warbeast are my absolutely my brothers, from Fort Worth. So I want to thank them for letting me have Blue be part of this here group. Blue is a really young drummer, with unbelievable potential. I had to really work with him as far as timing went and breaking him out of the mold of 4/4 thrash and 4/4 death metal, and throw all kinds time signatures at him, abrupt stops, and starts and stops, all kinds of things at him. That was a challenge. Blue did an excellent job. I can’t say enough about those guys. Regardless of the fact whether I wrote things from the ground up, and everything on this record audibly, is meant to be in place. But the fact that these guys were able to put their own fingerprint and their own stamp of talent and on this album, it’s irreplaceable. So I’m very happy there.
Let’s talk about the Housecore Horror Film & Metal Festival coming to Austin. It was really a small thing at first. And once word got out, that’s when things kind of got insane. A lot of bands, there was no fucking way I could pass up when they offered their services and wanted to be a part of this, special guest directors and stuff like that. It’s really mind-boggling. As a horror movie fan, for this to be such a reality, it’s almost unreal. Aside from the great bands, the directors, and the vintage films; I think the most exciting thing for me is that over the last six to eight months I have received a shitload of submissions from lesser known directors out there that actually give a fuck about horror films. They are trying to actually do something innovative and exciting with horror films, instead of regurgitation. We have a lot of great films from these lesser known folks, and to turn on an audience of true horror fans out there to these fans, it’s gonna be a beacon of hope for people, and the horror genre in general. So that part is very exciting and for the consumers and the people who pay to get in, I want them to have a fucking blast. But I also want people within the machinery; the bands and special guests to have a great time as well. This is year one with this thing, so I want to get it under my belt. Once that happens, we’ll start talking about this thing called ‘annual’, which is one word I am really shying away from until I get year one under the belt. All in all man, it’s going to be a blast. I understand you are penning your memoirs, due out next year. So why is now a good time in Phil Anselmo’s life to write his memoirs? Really I think it will be interesting because it’s not just a Pantera book, and really it’s the story of my life. Honestly, a whole a lot had happened in my life before Pantera, and even a whole lot has happened since Pantera. The journey on the way before I was in Pantera: it took a whole lot of work and circumstance for me to even be in that great a band with those fucking elite musicians. And then for me, there’s a lot more to the Pantera story than the negative that people thrive on, man. There are some absolutely fantastic memories, some upbeat memories and beautiful memories of Pantera for me. These are life changing things, and life lesson things, and brotherhood in there. I am not out to write a bitter memoir. There is no bitterness man, really. There is a lot of truth that I am not going to shy away from, that may not paint the prettiest picture, particularly of myself. I am very critical of myself and I am definitely my biggest critic, as clichéd as that might sound. It’s true. But I think I have definitely come a long way in the last ten years or so. I am comfortable in my skin right now, and I think the journey and the battles that I have won in life, have been positive things. And I am not ashamed to admit that. I am the kind of guy that likes to put one foot in front of the other, and I’d like to explain that, and how I got to be that way. How I got to overcome a lot of obstacles in life that I think a great percentage of people struggle with in life. Everything, whether it be drug addiction, and everything from family life, and non-family life. Even being alone and dealing with things on a singular level. There’s a lot of interesting things in there. It’s going to be a severely nose-to-the-grind-stone type of writing process for throughout the rest of the year, and the next few months. Hopefully we get everything sussed out, and we get this book out on time, and I’m looking forward to it.
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CHINESE WHISPERS Words: Raymond Westland
One of the most anticipated releases of this year is Surgical Steel by legendary death metal outfit Carcass. Ghost Cult caught up with bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker to see what’s going on in Carcass country. Can you talk us through the point Carcass reformed to the moment you actually started to work on the new album? Wet got together in 2007 when Bill (Steer – guitarist) finally agreed on doing a couple of gigs. We didn’t play any gigs that year, because I walked away from the whole thing, due to certain business arrrangements I wasn’t happy about. In 2008 the whole reunion thing came about. It was never meant as a long term thing. Then 2009 came about and we got more and better offers coming in. Same thing in 2010 including a couple of events and venues we hadn’t played before. Last gig we did as Carcass was in August 2010 with Michael Amott and Daniel Erlandson of Arch Enemy. That was the closure on the whole reunion thing, because Michael made it explicitly clear he’d be too busy with his own bands to even consider doing anything in the future with Carcass. At that point we hadn’t discussed doing anything beyond the whole reunion thing, so that was quite a relief. At some point Bill contacted me about whether I’d fancy doing anything with Dan Wilding who was a member of Aborted when they toured the US. Bill has a thing with drummers and he wanted to do something musically with Dan. As for me I was really prepared and willing to do more music with Carcass back in 2009. When you’re in a band with Bill Steer, Michael Amott and Daniel Erlandson it would be wasting a great opportunity not to. Daniel would have made himself available if we would continue doing music with Carcass, but when push came to shove he had to make a decision and he decided to stay with Arch Enemy. It wasn’t really a matter of choosing for him. If he stuck around for longer, a Carcass album would have been around sooner perhaps. It’s quite surprising that Bill Steer was interested in making a new album. Over the years he’s been pretty vocal about his lack of interest of playing anything metal-related. That’s a falsehood created by the media. In fact, Bill would be quite angry with you if you told him that. He never said anything like that. Those are Chinese whispers as we call like to call them. He’s probably the most metal person I know. The reality is that he got disillusioned with metal back in the nineties. He still loves
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the stuff he was into back when he was younger, same as me. I’m not particularly interested in what happened with metal in the late nineties and early 2000’s. That doesn’t mean I disrespect my friend’s bands or anything. There are some bands that I find interesting, but most of them I couldn’t be arsed about. It’s a classic case of seen it, done it, printed it on a t-shirt. There are a lot of people out there who think they have a handle on things as far as Carcass goes. When I’m stupid enough to spend time on internet forums and check out what people’s opinions are I can only conclude they’re delusional. They don’t know us as individuals. They think they know why we have done certain things on said album and what our motives are. I wouldn’t profess on what James Hetfield does for example, so I wouldn’t comment. It’s quite stupid, you know. Let’s talk about the new album. What’s the idea behind the album title? Surgical placates the idea that Carcass is a medical band. Steel is a very metal title. Surgical Steel is almost a homage to British Steel by Judas Priest. I considered using the title Surgical Strike in the lyrics for a song. People can use it to describe the album in both a postively and negatively, as far as the music and the production goes. The album sleeve is very sterile and cold. We don’t try to be an ultra-technical band or something or a progressive death metal band, you know. I think the album has some thrash metal qualities to be honest. You guys write real songs, instead of a pile of guitar riffs. Was this the whole idea from the get go? That’s how we end up honestly. When you listen to Symphonies Of Sickness some of those songs are just a collection of riffs. It’s kind of the Brian Talisman school of songwriting. Just stick a pile of riffs together with lyrics on the top. I really enjoy that mindset. Necrotism is a progressive album in a way. Not in the way that people travel back to the seventies and relive their Pink Floyd fantasies. True progressive rock is all about trying new ideas isn’t it? We’re not adversed to having strange arrangements. For example ‘The Master Butcher’s Apron’ doesn’t have a traditional song structure. It still has hooks and has something you could consider a chorus. When I was younger I tried to avoid clichés as a lyricist and there were never choruses as such. There were certainly choruses in the musical sense, but we tried to avoid doing the obvious. We’re not against
it and we understand that such things in music exist. We write riffs and we write songs and for some reason they work the way they do. We don’t sit down and discuss how a song is going to be from start to finish. We don’t apply the traditional Stock, Aiken and Waterman school of song writing like some boring death metal bands try to do nowadays. It all comes very naturally and we don’t overthink things too much. The songs on the new album all grew organically. What is interesting is what Bill considers to be the crux of a song is totally the opposite of what I think. That’s what keeps Carcass interesting. We’re a band that actually writes songs together and not like one person who writes a song in his bedroom, puts it into Pro-Tools and goes on with the next one and tells the rest of the band what to play, like so many bands tend to do nowadays. The new album combines the best elements from Heartwork and Swansong, but it also features some nods to the first three Carcass albums. How do you see things? This album has been jammed together to a certain extent. Again, it wasn’t me or Bill coming in dictating the others what to play. It was trial and error, especially with the drums and guitars. It was all about seeing which parts would work and which not. It was crafting in the truest sense of the word. What you hear is a Carcass album. There are certain riffs that I wrote that are a deliberate throwback to the early days, even as far back as Reek Of Putrefaction. Just because it doesn’t have torturous production, it doesn’t sound like that album. Again, a song like ‘The Master Butcher’s Apron’ has some ‘Symphonies of Sickness’ type of arrangements; for example there’s no lead guitar in that song. The core of Carcass has always been you, Bill Steer and Ken Owen. How was it to record without having Ken on drums? Ken had a lot of input on the first three albums, but after that the core of the songwriting moved to Bill and Michael Amott. By the time we recorded Swansong it was mostly Bill and me. In a way it wasn’t that dificult, because we exhausted all Ken’s ideas by the third album. It was really interesting to have Dan Wilding in, because he’s a different beast on the drums. The songwriting wasn’t that different, but I would like to say that in the past Bill was pretty dictatorial towards Ken on the drum parts and he didn’t have to do that with Dan Wilding. I was more like that with Dan. I guess Bill is more chilled out by now in that respect. I really wanted to keep it Carcass. What he was playing isn’t that much different than what Ken did in the past, but Dan is more technically proficient as a drummer, you know. Ken Owen suffered from a terrible brain haemorrhage back in 1999, which pretty much pulled the plug on his musical activities. How’s he doing nowadays? It is it what it is. I don’t understand why people keep asking me, because it’s not like we’re going to take him on the road with us after some miraculous recovery or something. He had two brain operations and it’s almost like he had a stroke. His memories have been affected and his physical strength isn’t like it was when he was younger. To use this horrible word, his condition is stable, because Ken is Ken. He’s still the same guy trapped in a physical shell that he wasn’t before. His condition isn’t going to improve or deteriorate.
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Pushing musical boundaries is at the heart in everything that moves and motivates Norwegian Black Metal outfit Satyricon. Their latest self titled album may well be their most forward thinking and progressive offering to date. Ghost Cult touched base with singer and main composer Satyr to probe his mind on the new Satyricon record, the merits of analog recording, his dislike for pop music among many other things. Before the recording Of ‘Satyricon’ you took a long break from the band. How come? There were many reasons for that, but the most important one was that I came to a point as an artist where I was doing things because they were expected from me and as a band we started to question whether we wanted to do that. I enjoyed making the music and as a band we’re very uncompromising where our music is concerned and no one ever dared telling us what to do musically, but the touring thing simply got out of control. The only thing we did was travelling from one plane to another. We never wanted to do that. Sure, we enjoy playing live and touring is a part of being a musician, but I never dreamt of spending my life in the back of a tour bus. I started the band because I wanted to write songs and make records. Other things we started to notice was that small things that would normally be minor disagreements became big arguments. It was the wear and tear on people. As the leader of the band it was my responsiblity to make sure that we took a break as opposed to continuing and ending up in a situation where we, all of a sudden, are forced to take a break. The new album is quite a departure from the previous three Satyricon albums. To which extent was your extended break a cause for this? Obviously it influenced the outcome of the new album in many ways; the time to think and reflect and the energy from being away from it all for a while. Also with ‘The Age of Nero’ I felt that the musical path we walked on the past decade had reached its destination. Writing compact black metal songs on a rock music basis was something I really enjoyed doing, but I felt I reached a point that I wamted to do something different. I didn’t know what it would be exactly, so I tried desperately to find out, but along the way I noticed this approach didn’t work, so I left it alone. I’ll figure it out over time. It will come to me when I’m ready for it.
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What statement do you want to make with recording analog and all the extra burdens that come with it? First and foremost it’s a very hardcore way of doing things. We recorded things on tape, which is probably the most difficult and expensive way of doing things, because we thought we would benefit from it sonically. The sound is basically the language of the song and it heavily influences the way the songs are perceived. There will always be an activist mentality in Satyricon and we are very aware of our art. We are in a privileged position in which we influence the black metal scene and in that sense that’s also our reponsibility. The last few years pop music and metal music are in a terrible state to me when it comes down to the production. Not all, but the majority sounds like it comes from some digital box. The overkill in autotuned vocals in pop music is really provocative to me. When I’m sitting in my car and I accidently turn on a pop music radio station I almost smash my car radio in order to put it off. I simply can’t stand listening to it. The trouble is that you have a lot of that in metal too. Drums that sound like type writers, guitars that don’t have any dynamics whatsoever and the reverb sounds like it comes from some cheap computer plug in. It’s all cheap and cost efficient, but it sounds so lifeless to me. I told Frost (drummer) that our new album would be one of those records that are completely authentic whether people would like the music or not. It’s the sort of record that people that love our music would feel as a homecoming when they hear the atmospheres and the sounds and the way the songs are performed in combination with the analog production. The new album is very rich and rewarding listening experience, because of its many different atmospheres and the influences you used from other music genres, but it never loses its focus. How did you manage to do that? That’s a very good observation and a very good question. One of the key elements in the songwriting is that the album should be seen as a whole and not as a compilation of songs. One of the things I had in mind with a song like ‘Walker Upon The Wind’ and ‘Nekrohaven’ was to create dynamics within the musical context of the album as a whole; those type of aggressive songs really stir up things in combination with more atmospheric and melancholic tracks. It really strengthens the overall emotions and makes things more palpable. The album should be seen and experienced as a journey. When you write songs it’s important to think where a certain part fits in the album as a whole. A lot of interesting material didn’t make it onto the
THE AGE OF SATYRICON
record, because they didn’t work in the overall picture and it would screw up the entire balance. In terms of the actual recordings we had this really long song called ‘The Infinity of Time and Space’. Five minutes into the song there is this really beautiful accoustic piece which I really liked, but I didn’t know where it would fit in the overall composition. I asked the engineer to play the song from the beginning so I could get my bearings back again. Sometimes during the recording of the vocals we would sit down in the morning on a couch in the back of the control room and listen to the album as a whole as music fans. Because I’m closely involved with so many aspects of the recording process I surround myself with qualified engineers and I encourage them to give their opinion on things. I may not use it, but that shouldn’t discourage them to voice their opinions. In order to be succesful you need to surround yourself with people that know what they’re doing and have a different perspective or insight on things. Frost has been your musical partner in Satyricon from day one. How important is he for you in order to accomplish your musical visions? The crazy thing is that Frost and I are so alike, yet so very different from each other at the same time. He’s pretty much limitless in his playing because of his phyical capacity. One could say that he’s more of an artist than a musician. He has the willpower and the commitment and so he is the heart and soul of Satyricon. That in itself is very inspiring and that creates a very stimulating working
Words: Raymond Westland
enviroment. He never gives up. He’s obviously recognized as one of the top extreme metal drummers, but what I hear from him on the new album is something I really appreciate. The missing part of his drumming is the musicality aspect of it and I feel that in Satyricon he’s more of a complete drummer. He sounds like he is almost 20 years down the road or so. His drumming is so much more creative and intriguing to me now. I can only say that I love working with him and that I always will. Satyricon is all about pushing musical boundaries. What’s your opinion on black metal purists who see any form of musical progress as a betrayal to what black metal stands for? The people you’re refering to as purist aren’t purists to me. People like me are the purists. People like you mentioned started out rather late and they’re a lot younger than the veterans of the scene and they don’t have the same insight and knowledge on black metal. They think they do in the way they dress and the way they look and the fake way they pretend and behave. It’s easy to see through and I’m not buying into that. I’m not going to be influenced by the politics of those people. I’m inspired by the ways of true pioneers like Tom G. Warrior who showed that the possibilities of black metal and occult music are limitless. It’s so easy to have a small group of people who are really loud and opiniated.They get too much credit and they’re allowed set more precedents than they deserve. I really disregard those people and I don’t look upon them as real.
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James LaBrie may be best known as the vocalist for prog giants Dream Theater, but he also has a flourishing solo career on the side. His latest solo album is called Impermanent Resonance (Inside Out) and it may very well be his finest solo outing to date. On a sunny afternoon I had the chance to sit down with James and Matt Guillory, his musical partner in crime. We discussed the new album, their working relationship and any tour opportunities with a new Dream Theater album coming up. What’s the thought behind the album title? Matt: Whenever James and I come up with an album title we take a step back and see what happens in the songs lyrically and come up with something which ties them altogether. What stood to us was a sense of nothing staying the same. A lot of the songs deal with personal relationships, hardships and challenges someone might be going through in his life, but no matter how bad things get, nothing is permanent and stays the same. It made sense to us to use Impermanent Resonance as the album title.
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Impermanent Resonance is very much a refinement of the previous album. Was there any specific reason why you guys stuck with that sound? Matt: Yes, one reason is that we really established our sound on Static Impulse. With the new album it was about using that music foundation, but push it more in all directions. We spent way more time on the melodic aspects of the music. That’s not to say we didn’t give the bass, drums and guitars the attention they deserve, but we spend so much time and effort getting the vocal melodies right and crafting the songs themselves. I think there’s clear distinction between Static Impulse and Impermanent Resonance, mainly in the melodic aspects and the overall dynamics. James has a very busy schedule because of Dream Theater. How did you guys plan around to write and record the album? James: We each recorded individually. Mat would put together a demo with all the music as it should be which made it all very concise and precise. Everyone involved knows exactly where a
Words: Raymond Westland
IMPERMANENT RESONANCE music that they could present to James with no guarantee it would be used. Fortunately for me he liked what I sent him and a few weeks later he called me to start recording and that’s how we began working together. On the early records it wasn’t all about me and James. There were also other writers involved. It wasn’t until Elements Of Persuasion came along we sort of turned the page musically. That’s the moment we really found our sound. James: When I first heard of what Mat was coming from as a writer back in 1998 I really liked his music and when we met there was this instant connection between us. I thought it would be really cool to work together. He was young back then, but also very mature at the same time. The first two Mullmuzzler albums were necessary for Matt and I to find what and who we were. Like Matt said with Elements Of Persuasion we could really let it all out and that we had a clear understanding what we’re musically wanted to do and that we set out to accomplish to capture what we’re really saying musically. That really manifested itself from Elements Of Persuasion onwards to the present day. It’s been a great ride over the years and obviously Matt and I are the constants in the entire process. With Marco Sfogli (guitars) coming in we could take things to entire new level because of his incredible talent. Moving onto Static Impulse Peter Wildoer (drums) and Ray Riendeau (bass) came aboard and that transcended everything we did before. All those steps shaped us in what we are today. With a new Dream Theater album looming over the horizon touring in support of Impermanent Resonance will be a dicey affair at best. With this in mind, what tour plans do you have?
song is going and has a pretty good idea what is expected for them to play. That is the pretty much the blueprint we used. The whole writing and production took quite some time. That whole process started 1.5 years ago. By the time I was going into the studio with Dream Theater to start working on the new DT record Impermanent Resonance was 90 percent written. There were some things that needed completion or refinement, but at that point it was a matter of me finding time in my schedule to actually record my vocals. It was a matter of scheduling and making sure that I would do it when DT was taking a break. I flipped back and forth in a way. It’s scheduling, balancing and good time management really. You guys have been working together since the first Mullmuzzler album back in 1999. How did you guys meet and how has your working relationship evolved over the years? Matt: I was very fortunate when I was younger to do session work for the Magna Carta and Shrapnel labels. The people behind Magna Carta asked James whether he wanted to do a solo album for their label and they asked me whether I was interested in submitting
Matt: It’s tough because there a lot of logistics coming in in order to set up a tour, because all the members live in different parts of the world. We ran into this with Static Impulse. We had a very strong album to promote, but we didn’t have the time to make things happen. This time we want to take the time to prepare ourselves and tour. With that said Dream Theater is gearing up for their new record and eventually they’re going to tour to support it. We’ll have to look at the touring aspect when the Dream Theater touring cycle has ended. We’re all fired up and ready to go though. James: Absolutely, it’s inevitable that we’ll be out and tour in support of the new record. It’s mainly a question of how and when. Realistically it would at the end of the next DT touring cycle when that winds down. The new album and the older material will be as relevant when we go out on tour tomorrow or when we do it in 1.5 years from now. It’s timeless in that sense. When we’ll go out eventually it will be really exciting and powerful to play this material and bring all the players together on a single stage. It will be an incredible experience. You have to be patient, but it will happen eventually.
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INTERVIEW With five years elapsing between their last two records, and a notorious history of bad luck in the studio, Darkane are no strangers to overcoming obstacles for the love of their art. In spite of this, they’ve concocted a career spanning six highlyregarded albums. Their latest, The Sinister Supremacy, reunites the band with original vocalist Lawrence Mackrory, who left shortly after their debut release way back in 1998. Ghost Cult took time to chat with founder and drummer Peter Wildoer to find out where Darkane have been since we saw them last. There’s five years between The Sinister Supremacy and the previous album. What happened? We built our new studio, and that took us about two years to accomplish during our spare time in between our full time jobs. There have also been family issues that have made us slow down with writing music and focusing on the band. The new album brings Lawrence (Mackrory) back to the fold. What was it like to reconnect with him again and have him sing on a Darkane album? It was great! We’re very happy to be together again and Lawrence ignited a new spark into Darkane that we needed. He brought the necessary energy that we needed to take it to the next step. Also Lawrence contributed almost all lyrics, and he wrote the vocal parts himself. That’s something we always did together before and was very time consuming. It was great having everyone focusing on his own parts and making them the best possible! What’s the albums’s artwork all about? The artwork is a Rorschach test that shows what a sick mind sees in it. It goes hand in hand with the lyrics and fit the vibe of the album very well. If you look closely then you can see that the person sees snakes, guns etc. All the bad things. The recording sessions for the previous albums have always been a nightmare. How did things proceed for the new album? Yeah, we’ve always had problems in the past with our recordings. This time around though, things went well, but just took a very, very long time. I guess that’s the downside of having your own studio— you have a hard time saying when it’s finished. You always go back and improve things and change stuff. But now when done, we’re very happy with the result! In a weird way the album reminds me of your debut Rusted Angel at times as far as the frenetic energy and arrangements go. How do you see things?
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I think the same way. The Sinister Supremacy is like the natural extension of Rusted Angel. Not only because Lawrence is back on vocals but the songs breathe with the same energy and melodic approach. I also think that Layers Of Lies from 2005 is a link between these two other albums. The new album sure captures the fundamental element of what Darkane is all about; energy! One thing I never quite understood is why Darkane aren’t much bigger/more popular, despite releasing some excellent albums. What’s your take on this? I think we haven’t toured enough. To get bigger you need to tour way more. Not that we haven’t wanted to tour, but we haven’t got the opportunities. Perhaps the music was also a bit too technical for the bigger masses? Today bands are way more technical but some ten,
DARK ENERGY fifteen years ago it was a different story. I actually don’t know and I sure hope the new album will be more successful. You took part in the Dream Theater auditions back in 2010. How do you look back on the whole experience? It was a great experience and very good promotion for me of course. I was flattered, being asked to audition and that together with some of my biggest drumming influences. All in all, it was amazing to be a part of it and the Dream Theater guys were very cool and also everybody else involved. So happy I did it! I don’t think it actually influenced Darkane that much since we’re a solid band of many years and musically we have our own direction. But hopefully it made some new fans check out Darkane.
Words: Raymond Westland
Making a living as an extreme metal musician was never easy, but it’s next to impossible nowadays. How do you cope with this harsh reality? We’ve never made a living out of Darkane. We all have daytime jobs and Darkane is handled in our spare time. This is also a reason why it takes so long for us to do a new album. Of course, it would be great making a living out of playing music. I don’t see that happening, but who knows? What touring plans do you guys have in support of the new album? Nothing is booked but we’re looking into some North American and European touring options right now. Hope there will be some great tours on this album.
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CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS The American melodic thrash/death metal band Battlecross has been building up quite a name for itself. They got signed by Metalblade that re-released their debut album. Right now, the group is touring with the Rockstar Energry Drink Mayhem Festival in the USA that also features bands as Machine Head, Rob Zombie and Children Of Bodom. We talked to guitarist Tony Asta about their albums and their crowd funding project to finance the Mayhem tour. Pursuit of Honour (2011) is a re-recording of the self released debut, Push Pull Destroy (2010). Why did the band decide to do this? We self-released Push Pull Destroy in 2010 with our original singer, Marshall Wood. Shortly after that we parted ways with him. That summer we acquired front man Kyle “Gumby” Gunther and decided to re-record Gumby’s vocals with a few tracks from Push Pull Destroy to submit to labels. After acquiring interest from Metal Blade Records we thought it’d be best to re-record the vocals for the entire album and release it on the label. All the lyrics are the same as they are on Push Pull Destroy with the exception of the song ‘Kaleb’, written by Gumby. Pursuit Of Honor is named after the instrumental intro track. Do you believe Pursuit of Honour turned out better then Push Pull Destory? Pursuit of Honor turned out more solid than Push Pull Destroy. Gumby’s vocal ability is very strong and the mix sounds much better as well. We only re-recorded the vocals, not the entire album. However ‘Pursuit’ was slightly remixed and EQ’d. It definitely benefitted the band at the time because we were able to release the music we worked so hard on. We felt it deserved a chance to be heard and thankfully Metal Blade felt the same way. Your new effort, War of Will, was recently released. How has the band evolved in the past years? It definitely showcases how we have grown as a band. After touring for almost two years we’ve absorbed a lot of influences from the road. We’ve also learned so much from other bands. We are a very hungry and driven band and music is our release and it shows on this album. War Of Will is a very solid album with more solos, more aggression, more melody and over all better written songs. Can you explain why you decided to finance the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem tour via a crowd funding project? We had to think of some way to raise money for the biggest summer tour of our career: the Rockstar Energry Drink Mayhem Festival. We could not turn down the opportunity. After crunching the numbers we realized how expensive it would be and knew we really had to put our heads together. It worked out pretty well to try crowd funding through an Indiegogo campaign.
Words: Laetitia Abbenes
We set a goal of raising $25k and offered a wide array of ‘perks’ including signed copies or our new album, posters, ESP guitars and ride-alongs on the bus. This was our chance to connect with our fans, offer them a way to help us out, and in return give them something special or offer a unique experience. You’ve raised about 28.000 dollar. How are you spending the money? We had to pay Indiegogo first, they got a percentage for hosting the efforts. A large chunk of the money was spent to fund the perks themselves. We had to purchase the CDS, posters, shirts to supply the “crowd-funders” with the merch they wanted. We were also able to afford a merch tent and display to be used at Mayhem. The biggest expense for this tour was transportation and we were lucky enough to split a tour bus with the band Huntress. Battlecross is an active band on the internet. Take for example the crowd funding project and social media. On the other hand, downloading albums on the web damages the music industry. How do you feel about such things as a band? We are very active on social media, it’s the best way to interact with fans outside of actual concerts. Social media is also a great way to measure who our audience is, where they’re from, what they click on, their favorite songs and how they heard about us. From my perspective downloading music hurts and helps. It’s a way for fans to get their music quick and easy and help spread the word quickly. However it can hurt because then it cheapens the music, because it’s sometimes too easy to obtain. What I’ve noticed on the road is there is definitely a resurgence of fans who love to own the physical copy (and sometimes multiple copies). People still love to buy albums and I think that true supporters will always be there for the bands. How is the Mayhem fest tour going so far? Tell us about some of your experiences? Mayhem is going fantastic. We had a couple bus issues off the bat with it breaking down but it’s been smooth sailing ever since. The crowds are awesome, the bands are awesome, we are having a blast! It’s amazing to play with such established bands and also not so established bands. They are all great and it’s awesome to be a part of it. Thrown Into Exile is one of my favorite bands to watch and they’re not even signed. One of my other favorites is Huntress, they have a great classic vibe but Jill’s vocals are totally killer and really sets them apart from any other band on this festival. What does the near future hold for Battlecross? The future holds more shows including a tour with Hatebreed this fall and more to be announced. We would love to come to Europe and right now we are working on establishing the right opportunities to make it possible. I’d love to tour anywhere people want us to come to like South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
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THE FUNK SOUL BROTHERS Words: Rei Nishimoto
When word spread about a new band featuring Mike Portnoy (exDream Theater) on drums, Billy Sheehan on bass and Richie Kotzen on guitar and vocals, many knew something special was about to happen. Sheehan and Kotzen had previously played together in Mr. Big, and now with Portnoy joining the duo, they pieced together some driving rock music that came together quickly as their debut self-titled release. Sheehan spoke to Ghost Cult about how the band came together, their old school approach at writing and performing music and their upcoming touring plans. So how did the Winery Dogs come together?
just forming ideas. We completed it either from scratch on the spot. I’ve been in many situations in all of my times where sometimes the drummer just start playing a beat, and I start listening and guitar comes in. So we got it. We generally write a lot of stuff and then we pare it down to the stuff we like. After a while when you listen to it back, some stuff you like it and others not so much. We found ourselves in agreement right away. If it’s something we all liked, we liked it. If it’s something a little dodgy, we all didn’t like it. So we were in sync. All three of you are veterans of the music business and have played with multiple bands. So why change it now?
Mike contacted me quite a while ago. I think it happened while I was on tour is when I first got contacted with him. I knew I had a big break after Mr. Big was done so he asked if I’d like to get together and do a thing. I hemmed and hawed and thought about schedules, and then we tried a few things. I don’t know why we got Rickie Kotzen first, but Eddie Trunk came to us one time – Richie’s been singing and playing, doing a lot of solo stuff. He’s slowly gaining a large amount of followers everywhere getting turned onto his music, which is awesome. We’ve worked a lot in the past. It’s the obvious in the world. Sometimes it’s so obvious you don’t see it. Eddie Trunk put us in touch with Mike. Everyone was into it and we got together at Richie’s place. The first time we met up it came together instantly and organically.
I really do enjoy the challenge of pulling it off live and doing it for real, and also to be in a real studio. A lot of times you’re recording, you’re doing one chorus and the engineer says we can use that for the next chorus. No I want to play it. I don’t want to cut and paste it. It has a feel to it. It doesn’t have to be identical. So much music today – there’s one chorus but they chopped it up and made four out of it. It’s a very common thing and it’s quick, easy and an accurate thing. But this makes it sound more organic and real. I was pleased because the three of us – Mike of course, Richie and myself, as far as our capabilities for performing it live.
Early on there was some talk about John Sykes was somehow involved. Was he in the Winery Dogs or a different project? Could you clarify his involvement?
We have Eddie Trunk to thank. I don’t think he’s biased towards us as friends. I sent him a copy of the record and I bumped into him and he went on and one about it about how much he loved it. I know he spread the word. People like that, journalists who are into something and let others know. There’s so much stuff coming out – someone with judgment and taste you trust, if you’re a journalist, TV host, radio host, blogger…then the word tends to spread so we have Eddie to thank for his initial interest. Fortunately after people finally heard it, in their minds, it was up to what they expected, which we were thankful for they looked at it that way. If it’s something good, the world figures it out and finds out about it. We did our very best and hope people enjoy it and look at it the same way we do. We rolled the dice and seven came up this time. People seem to be very happy with the record. Some journalists are gushing about it. Nothing pleases us more. Some musicians don’t care about pleasing others. I don’t look at it like that. I like to please people. I don’t want to do something they won’t like. I’m so happy when they’re pleased. So a sea of smiling faces and having a blast, and after the show I go out and talk to people, and they’re all through the roof. There’s no greater feeling.
It was with me and Mike, but it hadn’t really come together. It was a couple little demos, but scheduling and free time was a factor there. He’s a wonderful guy and a great player, but it didn’t work out. Richie, Mike and I are all are East Coast guys on the West Coast. We grew up doing the same thing with a lot of things. There was a lot of common ground. How does the songwriting work in the Winery Dogs? Do you jam or is it more structured? It’s a relatively easy process. It can happen in many, many different ways. One way that we almost always do it that way is somebody thinks of a song title, a lyric, a rhyme or a drum beat. It could come from anywhere. We’re open to all of that. Richie plays a chord, and then Mike would come up with a beat. Some of these songs are the same bunch Richie had sitting around; either not completed or were
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The buzz on the band grew fairly quickly for a band that came together fast. Were you surprised?
So you have the next year and a half of your life mapped out? Yeah it’s usually a year to year and a half is spoken for. That’s why if someone who has an event next month and calls, they’d have to have called me last year. Hahaha! Sometimes that the way you weed out the flakes from others. “We have a big show!” When is it? Two weeks from now…have you done any advertising for it yet? It’s not gonna work. Usually it’s about a year and a half and sometimes you have to figure out who’s releasing it and what their timetable is. A lot goes into the process behind the scenes. We never choose where we play. I always get emails about this. “What’s the matter
with you guys? Why can’t you…” We can’t just drive to Des Moines to play a show. Someone from there has to book us. I’ve played shows in Mexico and there are at least ¾ of an inch thick in papers to fill out – official documents, tax things, work permits and employment this and that to play in Mexico. You wouldn’t think that but it’s quite a process. Someone in India has to do all that work and it’s quite an administrative chaos to get in and out of the country to play. You can’t just fly over there and set up. It doesn’t work that way. Same in America where we can’t just fly out to Pittsburgh and do a show. Usually someone needs to book it six months in advance. Big tours they’re booking the spring before.
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Revocation are one of the rising stars within the technical metal segment. Chaos of Forms, their previous album, succeeded in placing them firmly in the public eye and their latest self titled release will undoubtedly make them a household name. Ghost Cult caught up with David Davidson (guitars/vocals) to pick his brains about the latest opus, their participation in the Summer Slaughter Tour and the band’s fondness for tackling serious themes. How do you feel you have progressed sonically since your first release? I think that we are constantly progressing and evolving with each release. On our first CD our songs tended to be a little longer, but as we’ve gotten older we’ve made a conscious effort to streamline our music a bit more and really focus on the songwriting aspect. The bottom line is that the more you practice at something, whether it’s technical ability or composing, you get better at it. At this point we’ve recorded 4 full lengths and an EP so we’ve definitely had a good deal of practice in the compositional department haha. I think that we have developed our own sound, it’s always a work in progress though. If you stop trying to evolve with each release your music can start to sound bland or predictable. We always want to push ourselves to do something different with each release but at the same time still maintain our core sound. How do you keep your sound fresh from album to album? We like to try new things and we’re not afraid to experiment within the metal genre so I believe that helps to keep things fresh. We also
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collectively listen to a lot of different types of music so I think that helps to rejuvenate the creative juices. The fact that Dan, our other guitar player, has been writing some songs also broadens our sound because he is able to write and have it still sound like Revocation but still have his own personality be present. We also have a new bass player now and he’s able to add things on bass that we’ve never had before. For instance, there’s a bass tapping part on the bridge section of the song ‘Fracked’ that really takes that part to the next level. What do you feel makes you distinctive from the masses of metal being released every day? To me, it’s the variety of influences that comprise our sound. So many bands just stick to one thing, which is perfectly fine. We are kind of like a melting pot in the sense that we draw inspiration from so many different genres of metal as well other completely different genres of music outside from metal Where do you draw your influence from when writing your music? Personally I can be influenced by a wide range of things. Sometimes it’s a new CD that comes out that really kicks my ass or sometimes it’s revisiting an older band that I hear in a new way that can be inspiring. It doesn’t have to be just music either. I could be away on a trip and get inspiration just from being in a new environment. Even just looking out my window on a raining day might conjuring up some feeling in me that makes me want to pick up the guitar. Was the choice to release your latest album as a self-titled album significant?
WITH NIETZSCHE’S BLESSING Words: Caitlin Smith
Yes, we feel that our lineup has never been stronger and the whole band really feels like a cohesive unit at this point so I think self titling the record is symbolic of that. I also feel that this is some of the best material we’ve ever written and it also feels like the most complete musical statement we’ve made as a band so naming the record Revocation is reflective of that.
so I definitely respect that approach, I’ve taken that approach myself on songs in the past and most recently on the song “The Gift You Gave.” Other artists may just want to create in a purely abstract way or take the escapism approach which I also have respect for. As Nietzsche once said “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” I think those words still ring very true in today’s day and age.
Could you take us through some of the major themes of this album?
The artwork is very unusual. Can you explain what it is about?
Lyrically there isn’t one particular theme or strict concept; it’s more of a combination of different topics or personal experiences that have meaning for me. There are 3 songs on the record that deal specifically with the media though. I’m very disgusted by the way information is presented to the public and quite outraged at what passes for “news” these days. You have a reputation for tackling serious topics, particularly social injustices in your lyrics; do you feel it is a musician’s duty to deal with important world topics? I think it depends on what you are trying to achieve in your music and the message that you want to convey. The older I get the more injustice I see in the world and it is deeply troubling to me, I’m very much compelled to write lyrics regarding these injustices because they are important issues to me that I feel need to be addressed. I feel like we are living in such a backwards dystopia so writing lyrics is how I react to it from an artistic standpoint. However, at the same time I realize that other musicians write more about their personal experiences as their form of coping with problems in their own lives
Orion, the artist who created the album cover and inner panels, had a conversation with me about the lyrics and what the self titled name meant to us. From there he ran with that and came up with a rough version which he sent back to us for approval. I’m really excited for the finished product, the online representation doesn’t do it justice. We’re planning on printing it with metallic gold ink so the border around the artwork with have this reflective shimmer to it, should be pretty cool once it’s all printed up. Any big plans for the future with Revocation? We will be embarking on the Summer Slaughter tour this summer to support the new record so that will be very big for us. The crowds will be huge and I’m guessing the audience will be pretty diverse since the line up has a lot of different types of bands. We’re really excited to play the new material live and can’t wait for people to check it out. Hopefully we’ll be getting back over to Europe as well, we’re looking forward to raging with you guys again!
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Extreme metal and Christianity don’t always make for the friendliest of bedfellows, but for Norwegians Extol, there’s no contradiction between faith and furious riffing. It’s been almost ten years since their last album came out—with supergroups, collaborations and side-projects accounting for the interim span. Now, it’s time for Extol to rise again, beginning a whole new ministry, with their fifth and latest self-titled album. Ghost Cult chatted with drummer David Husvik to learn more. The Blueprint Dives, your last album, was released back in 2005 and now, seven years later, you guys return with a brand new album. Where have you been? Yeah, we’ve been gone for a while. Tor Magne, Ole Halvard and John Robert established their own band, Mantric, that was out on Prosthetic Records. I was busy doing drums for Doctor Midnight & The Mercy Cult with Turbonegro’s Hank Von Hell, and also some other projects. The current, and also earlier guitar player, Ole Børud, has his own successful solo project he’s been committed to the last years. Peter (Espevoll), who really needed a break from music seven years ago, has been giving his family and personal life full attention. But, yeah, now we’re back together.
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Your biography states that “this album goes straight to the core of Extol”. What is the core of Extol? The core of Extol is technical, progressive, and melodic death metal. Or in other words; the music we’ve generally been known for. In the past Extol was often compared to bands like Opeth but on the new album you guys have really come into your own. Do you agree? Good to hear you say that. We basically make the music that comes to us, no matter our inspirations. But for some reason the fans and the press have compared us to all kinds of Scandinavian bands over the past 20 years. It might be exotic that we are from Norway and all, but people never seemed to notice most of our musical inspirations came from North American bands. Anyways, to answer your question, I believe that our break from the metal scene has made us more independent of all that. If people feel we do our own thing now, that is a huge compliment. How did the writing and recording process for the Extol album go? What were you guys aiming for?
THE RETURN OF EXTOL Words: Raymond Westland
The new album is mixed by Jens Bogren, pretty much the goto guy in metal nowadays. How did he become involved in the process? Again, same story with him. He emailed me right before we went in the studio for Synergy, and he offered his services. At that point we didn’t know about him at all. It wasn’t until Opeth’s Watershed in 2008 we realised it was him and also what an excellent engineer he was. We asked him to mix our album, and he decided to go for it. Some members in Extol have a Christian background. Do you consider Extol a Christian band per se or is religion more a private matter? Actually, it must have been one of the smoothest album processes so far. The fact that we’re only three members in the band must have had lots to do with it. We all felt quite connected from the start this time, both musically, but also in decisions about quality level—where to put the bar.Ideas were sent back and forth for a while and we teamed up when the time was right, to combine the best pieces. We agreed on making heavier material this time. We wanted to make a solid, strong metal album with a basis in the death metal and prog that first gathered us back in the 90s. We wanted to mix the old mentality with the creative potential we hold today as a band. All the songs were recorded in different studios here in Norway, which was helpful for the process, since we produced the album ourselves. Famed graphic artist Travis Smith took care of the artwork. How did he become involved? All the way back in 2003 we considered him for our Synergy album (the cover, by the way, is one of Travis’ absolute favourites). Back then we went with Hugh Syme (Rush), who we were so stoked to work with. Now, 10 years later, we thought it was about time to follow up the idea of using Travis. We loved what he did for Katatonia and we begged him to do work for us. Luckily he agreed, and said yes.
Extol never defined itself as a “Christian band”, but some of the fans and people in the music industry did. We’re just guys playing metal. But the fact that we personally believe in Jesus Christ shines through in some of our lyrics. Thats why some people are labeling us, I think. A band can never be Christian, but people can. The Norwegian rock and metal scene seems to be in bloom this year with brilliant releases by In Vain, Kvelertak, Shining (NOR) and you guys. What’s stirring in the fjords? Haha, yeah that’s true. There must be something in the water, haha. Norway has a fast-growing music scene in general, and I guess we’re all just spoiled with lots of opportunities. The country is wealthy and the government put money aside to support their talents with whatever they need. Norway has maybe too many good bands now. You should watch out for Benea Reach and Mantric as well! What touring plans do you have? So far we’ve not decided whether we’ll tour or not. There is a discussion going on, but we still haven’t come to a final conclusion. Keep your eyes open!
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INTERVIEW It’s not rare to find extreme metal with a sarcastic, tongue-incheek twist—but it’s rare to find it as well-done as it is by The Monolith Deathcult. With a reputation as ‘death metal clowns’, some may wonder if the sarcasm disguises a lack of substance. No danger. Melding ambient techno and orchestral flavours into their downtuned death metal template, the Deathcult have now released their fourth album, Tetragrammaton, to strong acclaim. Ghost Cult spoke with Michiel Dekker and Robin Kok, and let them explain their quirky appeal for themselves.
Tetragrammaton discusses religious, planetary and tribal conflict and differing ruling philosophies. What significance does the Deathcult give these events in 2013?
First of all, not all of humanity may yet be familiar with the entity known as The Monolith Deathcult. Who are the individuals responsible for TMDC’s inanity, insanity and vanity?
TMDC mixes all manner of elements (techno, classical, etc) with death metal to voice their message. From where are these influences taken?
Robin: The collective is made up of Michiel Dekker (guitars/vox), Robin Kok (bass/vox), Ivo Hilgenkamp (guitar/vox), Sjoerd Visch (drums) and Carsten Altena (synths). I think we’re all equally responsible for inanity, insanity and vanity. Michiel: And we have Orion Pax on narration.
Robin: We’ve never had a very fixed reference point for our music. Our individual tastes are about as diverse as they come, and if I would have to name some influences the list would be not very obvious for a death metal band—Rammstein, Ministry, Laibach, My Dying Bride, Strapping Young Lad, Type O Negative, and more seemingly unconnected music. I think this allows us to free ourselves from the self-restrictive genre limits.
The Monolith Deathcult is not just a cool band name. There must be a story behind it. Can we be deemed worthy of a deeper explanation of its meaning? Robin: Actually, there’s not a lot to it. It seemed like a good, massive name (‘Monolith’) and we stole the idea for ‘Deathcult’ from somewhere I can’t remember*. I think we spent the most time on choosing ‘the’—it was a close call between ‘the’ and ‘it’ at the time and if the tables had turned just a bit differently we’d now be known as ‘It Monolith Deathcult’. We take these things very seriously, you know. Pardon my ignorance, but Tetragrammaton is your fourth release. Are there story elements that connect all four of your records, or does each stand on its own? Robin: If I would have to point out some connecting element, I’d say greed. But apart from a love of history and historical subjects, there are no connecting stories and our lyrical themes have been basically the same since the release of The White Crematorium. Michiel: A connection between all four albums is the lack of stupid lyrics. The narrator on the album is none other than Optimus Prime, or rather Orion Pax. How did you bend such a powerful being’s will to serve the Deathcult? Or if that is not him, who deceives us with this falsehood? Robin: We’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement with Mr. Prime, but let’s say that even Autobots will subject themselves to you if you kidnap their children and starve them of WD40. We always get our way, even if that means having to be slightly evil. Michiel: I bought some dark energon on the black market. That will do the thing.
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Robin: None. The world will keep on turning, people who preach doom will continue to scare idiots with their naïve eschatological bile, the environment will continue to blow up in our faces and idiots will stay idiots and continue to do idiotic things in the name of religion/ capitalism/communism/general nutjobbery/whatever.
The Deathcult presents a somewhat less than serious public persona. Is there no concern Tetragrammaton will be viewed superficially and the full measure of its power overlooked? Robin: Tetragrammaton is like a mirror in an empty vessel; people see in it how they are themselves and what they want to see—some early reviews were hilarious as some reviewers clearly hadn’t listened to the album and were just spewing vitriol about how much they hate us and how we’re still copying Nile (because, you know, everything even vaguely eastern-sounding is stolen from Nile. Nile basically invented the Middle East). Given the large number of extremely high (ie, extremely fixed/paid/bribed/extorted) reviews, I don’t think Tetragrammaton is an album that will be easily overlooked. The (presumed) deity depicted on the cover is quite striking and shall I say, frightening. Who’s vision wrought such a fearsome image? Robin: I think what you’re trying to say is “whose vision wrought…”. The image was the result of a comprehensive Google Image search. The truth is there isn’t any concept behind the album artwork. For almost two years before the album was made we had a number of concepts for the cover that we’ve wanted to do for years. We tried to work something out with HR Giger, but the plan didn’t come to fruition and the current cover was a last-minute Google search – literally (the album was already mixed). We found the image uncredited on some computer desktop background site and started digging around to find the original artist and get his permission to use the artwork. The artwork is done by Andrew ‘Android’ Jones who worked with Soulfly and Exodus.
WRY WITS AND SMASH HITS
Words: Matt Hinch
We always look for massive powerful covers and this one fit well. This cover was literally picked as the last passages of the album were being mixed, I think it was about two days before the deadline for the entire album—we were in quite a fix because we had zero ideas and just two days… Certain theorists purport that Earth is run by a Global Elite of humans crossbred with a reptillian race from another dimension, serving their purebred reptillian masters in aim of enslaving our race and destroying our planet. Thoughts? Robin: I think pretty much everyone agrees that we’re a huge human computer experiment run by white mice. Furthermore, we don’t need reptillian overlords to destroy our planet, I think we’ve got the destroying-our-planet part pretty much down (wink). If we were to be visited by aliens from a super-intelligent race (but really, wanting to visit earth immediately disqualifies you from ‘super-intelligence’) the last thing on their minds would probably be that we were run by a global elite of humans. Their money (or whatever such creatures bet, if they bet at all) would be that we’re run by a global bunch of troglodyte fucktards.
What further plans of conquest does the Deathcult have for the near future? Robin: Plans? To get rich, quit day jobs, spend all day snorting coke off of strippers’ asses. In 10 years we’ll all be like Chris Holmes in the pool in the Decline of Western Civilization Pt 2: The Metal Years. World domination. Fame and fortune. Or at least autographing a couple of boobs. Tetragrammaton will sell so many albums that it will singlehandedly lift the European Union out of the financial crisis, and all of us will be awarded the Nobel Prize for world peace and being awesome. In the meantime, we have a number of gigs – or ‘meat and greed sessions’ as we like to call them – and we’ll be continuing our research on a cure for communism, of course. Check out our gigs and research process on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/monolithdeathcult! I thank the Deathcult for your time. Farewell! *Michiel: I stole it from British rock band The Cult who, in their early days, called themselves The Southern Deathcult.
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ALBUM REVIEWS 11 PARANOIAS
WAR OF WILL RRRRRRRRRR
Words: Matthew Tilt
Words: Jonathan Keane
Electric Wizard. Ramesses. Bong. An alumni of doomsters who are only capable of putting out incredible slabs of baked sludge so it’s no surprise that Superunnatural contains some of the most drawn out, fuzzed up, monolithic tunes out there.
Let’s give it up for Battlecross. The Michigan band has managed to take a weary template, one that has been overused in recent years, and done something quite interesting with it. Their catchy melody infused hail of battlefield themed metal can sound pastiche from time and time, even cheesy, but Battlecross have cut out a lot of the nonsense with this new album War Of Will (Metal Blade) and simply made a good metal record.
give way to ferocious and ruthless riffing for the next five minutes, making for the album punishing midway point that let you know Battlecross aren’t letting up any time soon, all topped by quite an unforgettable crescendo. ‘Wage A War’ is a track that sizzles with fretwork that invokes the battlefield, both triumph and the inevitable loss, but always striding forward. The lead work of guitarists Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala really stand out and it becomes rather evident at this point that they’ve earned their chops.
‘Deceiver of the Deep’ grabs you by the throat, filling your ears with down-tuned riffs, tortured screams and huge, crashing drum beats that build and build before the song collapses inward, becoming a huge, swirling black hole of feedback that continues into ‘Ossuaries’. Perhaps War Of Will’s biggest strength is its ‘Reapers Ruin’ will feel a little more familiar for brevity. The album is a terse and succinct
Granted, War of Will isn’t reinventing the wheel or anything and it’s not going to propel Battlecross to superstardom, but they’ve still made a scorching melodic metal record that they can, and should, be very proud of.
fans of the involved bands, but the coup de grace is ‘Inside Eusas Head’. Starting off gently with some excellent guitar work, impressive drum fills and the right amount of atmosphere, before adding distortion and vocals to it and allowing it to simmer for seven minutes; it’s the sort of masterpiece that only comes when you think you know what to expect.
36 minutes, which is rather short by album standards but surely it’s always better to release a loaded record that’s short instead of a drawn out, bloated snooze of an album, right? Battlecross know this.
Opener ‘Force Fed Lies’ kicks things in brutal fashion, making their modus operandi quite clear as Children Of Bodom features (at their The CD comes with bonus tracks but they’re early 2000s prime) collide with faint death just rehearsals and while it’s interesting to see metal-isms. how the tracks progressed before the masters you find yourself yearning for just one more War of Will is aided by a supremely clean track rather than four demo versions. production that allows the glistening hookladen guitar work of tracks like ‘Flesh & Bone’ Deftly mixing expectations with a desire to push all the room in the world to expand to grasp forward 11 Paranoias have taken the sum of the listener’s attention. The guitar work and their parts and managed to create something myriad riffs are truly the centrepiece of War dark and punishing. The uninitiated would be Of Will. better finding some Bong or Wizard before moving onto this crushing, unapologetically Let’s take ‘Get Over It’ as an example, first dark release. exploding with sleek duelling guitars that
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THE AURA RRRRRRRRRR Words: Omar Cordy Beyond Creation is Canadian technical metal goodness. Having just signed to Relapse Records, this Montreal, Quebec quartet unleashed a sonic beast of beauty here, with their re-issue of The Aura. It’s really ballsy and impressive to have songs from just under two minutes run all the way to ten minute long epics, and not be the least bit boring. The production is so full and crisp; it has that “in the room” feeling you just can’t fake. I can gush about this debut easily, and I shall. This album screams “we practiced ten hours a day!”, but the important thing here is not just that they are true to their tech death roots, but they can
actually write great songs. Many bands have the talent to do it, but few can pull it off.
this, Walker has taken it up a notch vocally for this record, harsh and unrelenting, but simultaneously controlled and rhythmic. The two instrumental songs, ‘Chromatic Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast) is a completely Horizon’ and ‘Elevation Path’ are ridiculous! different beast to the older albums. Still They are night and day different from each running in the same aggressive melodic death other. Together they showcase the wide metal, the album is sharper, sleeker and more range of intensity and calm this band controls. cutting. Gone is the rusty juvenile butchery of Vocalist Simon Girard has a wide range. Going the late 80s, replaced by a cleaner, modern from a Suffocation style growl to a Cattle sound. The whole record screams of control Decapitation squeal attack in the same phrase and precision. For fans of the pre-Heartwork is impressive. Guitarist Kevin Chartre is a hell era, this record is going to seem overproduced of a player too. Right from the opening track though, and perhaps everything is a little too ‘No Request for the Corrupted’ all the way to tight. Carcass have lost their sense of danger; the insane closer ‘The Deported’, he makes less chaos and more red tape, but with it has those complex solos and rhythms sound come progression and maturity of musical effortless and always interesting. Philippe ideas. Boucher on drums sounds like he went to the Flo Mounier school of insanity. His playing Behind all the modernization, the album still is over the top in a way that doesn’t distract has a definitely nod to older Carcass. Pulling from the songs. Whether he’s lying back, or up one of their first original compositions blasting ahead, he is flawless. ‘Social Disability’ from the Flesh-Ripping Sonic Torment Demo, is another masterpiece track. Dominic “Forest” Lapointe’s bass tone kills on every song. With ‘Omnipresent’ we hear bass and guitar solos trading off. That’s right, bass solos in death metal. Lapointe is a metal bass guitar legend in the making, if he keeps this up. In general, this album blew me away big time. My only regret is that I waited so long to listen to it.
IN THE DIRT RRRRRRRRRR Words: Matt Hinch Oh my dark lord, what just happened? 25 minutes ago the world made sense. Now all I know is pain. I feel everything yet I feel nothing. My body is broken. My body is weak. My mind feels distorted. But something flows within me stimulating every fiber of my being. I feel surrounded by darkness. Something burns with euphoric clarity. Am I even breathing? I can’t move. Am I trapped or am I free? It’s becoming clearer. I’ve been assaulted. Violated. Forgotten. My skin is coarse. And cold. I am alone. I feel…I feel… Dead In The Dirt. If that’s not the way you feel after hearing The
SURGICAL STEEL RRRRRRRRRR Words: Caitlin Smith
Return of the titans has never had such an apt meaning than when applied to Carcass; if there’s a band that needs no introduction, it’s them. Propelled into the spotlight with Heartwork, they have enjoyed a virtually unparalleled place at the head of death metal since the early 90’s, despite their last release being seventeen years back. Now returning with fresh material in 2013, it’s hard not to be apprehensive. Replacing both Amott and Owen for fresher blood, they are virtually a different band. Any fears though would be misplaced. This record is through and through Carcass from beginning to end. From the second opening track ‘1985’ kicks in, guitarists Steer and Ash pull out precision riffs that could make even the most hardened guitarists fingers bleed. Equaling
‘Thrasher’s Abattoir’ appears revived from the rehearsal room tapes in a new polished form. Keeping the song faithful to the original sound, it races along, with each element seemingly barely keeping in time. The gruesomely complex medically themed titles have also been resurrected, with increasingly catchy song names such as ‘Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard’ and ‘316 L Grade Surgical Steel’. Perhaps they’re not the young, angry band they were back in early days, but this album proves they’ve still got what it takes to produce an organ crushingly heavy record. Choosing not to copy their original sound is a bold move for the band, and although many original fans may be disappointed by the lack of grind Surgical Steel still packs the same aggressive force they always have. The bodies may have changed but the instrumentation is just as damaging.
Blind Hole from Atlanta’s Dead in the Dirt you’re doing something wrong. For a breath under 24 minutes DitD drop 22 bombs of sonic belligerence. When compared to the 19 second flash of ‘Skullbinding’, the three minutes of ‘Halo Crown’ feel positively nuclear. Each track hits with some level of explosive force, leaving a smoking hole as evidence. For the duration we’re subjected to a feedbackdrenched manifestation of sonic instability. From the fury of ‘Mask’ to the heaving malevolence of ‘Swelling’ and at every point of full blown chaos in between, DitD deliver hammerblow after haymaker of devastating aggression. Their barely organized madness and segmented rage gets packed into (mostly) minute-or-less blasts of annihilation. ‘Idiot Bliss’, ‘Beggar’, and ‘Vein’ are shorts bursts of aggro-as-fuck grinding that feels like a giant going mental on the speedbag. ‘Cop’ and ‘Pitch Black Tomb’ roll in some groove
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ALBUM REVIEWS experimental jazz parts or whatever; instead Winter Kills takes the best parts that they have done in the past. With the catchy song writing cues of the anthemic Pray For Villains, but with the ferocity and pace of the likes of The Last Kind Words and the debut and less mid pace tracks, Winter Kills represents not only their best album to date but perhaps their most representative. Album closer ‘Sail’ bucks the trend somewhat with a more eerie, brooding tone to normal, complete with Black Sabbath akin guitar parts and even delicate female backing vocals; where despite Fafara’s bark not quite fitting completely it does prove to be the most interesting song the band have written. As Dez stated himself, the title represents rebirth (and perhaps a lot of Game Of Thrones loving) and proves apt for his current state of affairs, both with the Coal Chamber reunion, and the return of Devildriver as a genuinely formidable force.
Fast-forward to the band’s fourth full-length album Era and the band have once again finely tuned their cornucopia of influences into one of the most interesting and accomplished rock albums of the year.
It’s good to see that metal stalwart Dez Fafara has not been too wrapped up in a nu-metal renaissance. Amid the recent live dabbling with 90’s metal whipping boys (or heroes, depending on where you stand) Coal Chamber, he has found the time to record a new album with his day job Devildriver, and it is a corker.
The ambitious and cavernous ‘Ultra’ is a great centrepiece for the album with its repeating rhythms and subtle grooves that plays nicely to Brian Case’s sinister baritone.
Outside of the CC reunion, the Devildriver boys have left their home of Roadrunner Records and joined Napalm Records, a label with a more underground nature and noted for more extreme acts. This move may explain why on Winter Kills the band sound fiercer and with a greater urgency than they have for a long time. Previous effort Beast didn’t quite ride the wave of momentum that they were mustering up with 2009’s Pray To Villains, but here it feels like the fire is well and truly back. Devildriver were never going to be ones to throw a curveball into their sound, with
Chicago’s Disappears have been an interesting, if sometimes frustrating band to follow. Their garage rock sound, typically drenched in reverb, tremolo and plenty of distortion is fairly straightforward on the surface. But listen closely and there are subtle nods to everything from Krautrock, deathrock, shoegaze, psychedelia and funk. Suddenly they become a monstrously groovy prospect. Their first two albums, Lux and Guider set them apart as a band to watch. But the momentum was somewhat derailed thanks to a lacklustre third outing on Pre Language.
and at various times massive riffs pull you in to be smashed upon a fist of mayhem. The boiling rage of the riot-inducing screams and bestial growls comes from socio-political ideologies and a straightedge vegan ethos. One can then assume their venom is fueled by frustration with a society blind to its own demise. Being vocally accosted and mashed to pulp under a tank of grinding hardcore rarely feels this good. After all the whirlwind riffing and seizures of terror personified, DitD finishes the job with some heavy ass doom. The repeated slamming with pulverizing agony, like a Chinese water torture of downstrokes, forms a knot in the pit of the stomach. Each earth-swallowing note feels like a mile long whip. The impact takes forever to get there and the anticipation hurts as much as the sting. When it does strike, a little piece of you dies. This harried sonic invasion of grind, sludge, hardcore and doom was recorded by Andy Nelson and mastered by Brad Boatright and every ear-raping second gets thrust through the speakers with penetrating force. Prog-nerds and atmos-freaks need not apply. The Blind Hole is pure balls-out hatred for everything clean and pretty. Brace yourselves.
As hinted at on their Kone EP earlier in the year, the band are revitalised and full of energy despite the loss of Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) due to touring conflicts. But the introduction of Noah Ledger (Anatomy Of Habit) to the line-up has solidified a renewed sense of purpose that is quite tangible on Era. Opening the album with the distortion-drenched ‘Girl’, the band ease the listener into the record. It lacks the sophistication of the previous EP, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable opener that will no doubt serve them well live. ‘Power’ on the other-hand breaks out the dark, slightly gothic grooves the likes of The Soft Moon have recently perfected for an incredibly sexy and catchy song.
WINTER KILLS RRRRRRRRRR Words: Chris Tippell
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ERA RRRRRRRRRR Words: Sean M. Palfrey
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Despite the missing figure of Shelley, his influence still looms over the band and tangibly so on a track like ‘Weird House’. Like ‘Power’ before it, it is darkly groovy and a real testament to the growing strength of Case as the undoubted leader of the band now. He even goes into Public Image Limited waters with the new wave romp that is ‘Elite Typical’ before bringing back the sinister grooves for the album’s closer ‘New House’. This is a strong return to form for a band that should by all rights only ever be on the up. Case as a songwriter has come into his own, effectively making his visions for the band manifest with ease on Era. Let’s hope he can continue to build on this.
BACK TO WHERE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN RRRRRRRRRR
Words: Dane Prokofiev
Words: Matt Ford
Italian symphonic tech-death maniacs Fleshgod Apocalypse chose a Greek-mythology-inspired lyrical theme for their third studio outing, and it serves as a metaphor for each and every human being’s never-ending search for his or her true self. Such a theme complements the band’s grandiose music well indeed; for even sonically, the listener finds him/herself lost in an intricate and multi-layered sonic labyrinth that seems to have some elusive secret buried somewhere inside of it. Due to its Classically-influenced symphonic elements (which sound as prominent as ever), the 54-minute-long album begs to be consumed
French 4-piece progressive metal act Hacride are back with their fourth full length release, the intriguingly titled Back To Where You’ve Never Been (Indie Recordings). It’s a title which, according to the band’s bio, represents “a transitional phase”. The band have certainly evolved over the years and, with any luck, this willingness to change should help them to avoid the inevitable comparisons with fellow countrymen Gojira soon enough. Already, much has been made of new vocalist Luiss Roux’s style and delivery. Whilst it does pander to the very much in fashion and very much malligned - screaming/singing/
used more sparingly, and it’s only really during odd passages from the likes of ‘Edification Of The Fall’ where things get more overtly technical and djenty. Elsewhere, the guitars are melodic and inventive, whilst maintaining a degree of heaviness, at times closer to Tool than Gojira. Since the emergence of the CD format, and now in the age of mass digital downloading, albums tend to be long, drawn-out affairs. Though certainly not always a bad thing, it can mean a lot of filler. Fortunately, at 40 minutes in length, Back To Where You’ve Never Been is not likely to outstay its welcome. Instead, it does what it needs to do in a concise and satisfying manner. That said, the listener is left wondering what other tricks Hacride have up their collective sleeve. If this is the band in transition, it’s impossible not to question where they are headed, and perhaps they would be better of further embracing the inventive and evocative guitar and keyboard textures rather than the current trend for cold, mathematical wizardry.
STARBOUND BEAST RRRRRRRRRR Words: Emma Quinlan
as an inseparable package; just like listening to an hour-long symphony at one-go. Every track sounds equally majestic and brutal, and it is near impossible to cherry-pick any track. To throw in a bit of novelty, there is even a peaceful interlude in the form of ‘Prologue’, which is an instrumental song played on the classical guitar by a guest musician using fingerstyle technique. While the electric guitars have been shifted a bit higher up in the audio mix this time round, the symphonic elements—in the form of explosive horns, dark string passages, interjections of soprano singing, stormy piano accompaniment—still command greater attention than the traditional metal elements. This is, however, not a weakness at all. In the first place, a large part of Fleshgod Apocalypse’s appeal lies in their sophisticated orchestral arrangements and its awe-inspiring execution by whichever professional Classical musicians they hired.
screaming again formula, this is not a problem in and of itself, and will really only concern those arrogant, elitist types who tend to judge a work on its form rather than its content. In fact, unlike many vocalists employing this approach, Roux’s clean singing is actually very well performed, and embellished with plenty of dynamic, melodic power and the occasional Alice In Chains style harmony. The overall effect is often quite pleasing. But Luiss Roux is only one quarter of the band, so what have the others come up with? Well, Back To Where You’ve Never Been is certainly an enjoyable album, and not an overly technical one, which could easily put a lot of listeners off. The progressive elements seem to manifest themselves more in sonic, textural terms, with ominous and atmospheric keyboard arrangements being weaved in and out of the songs throughout, and perhaps at their most inventive on the instrumental track ‘To Numb The Pain’. Technical elements are
Releasing a praise-worthy album is never an easy feat but attempting to release two in as many years is even more of a tough challenge. Huntress however, are seemingly not a band to shy away from difficult trials and having delivered a successful debut last year, the critically acclaimed Spell Eater, Huntress are back to try their melodic metal luck again. Titled Starbound Beast (Napalm Records), Huntress’s second offering sticks to the same formula as its predecessor, which is no bad thing. Starting off with the short but sweet instrumental number ‘Enter The Exosphere,’ Starbound Beast combines elements of the power and thrash metal genre’s to create a brilliantly formidable but harmonious album. From gritty riffs (‘I Want to Fuck You to Death’) to long-winding solos (‘Starbound Beast’) and electric power metal jaunts (‘Receiver’), Starbound Beast is caked in 80’s influences and technical talent. In front of the music lies Jill Janus, whose voice sounds more androgynous than David Bowie looked when
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ALBUM REVIEWS he was younger. The voice of a metal angel, Janus can sing, growl and no matter which was she tells it, every note wailed is as measured and passionate as the next. Lyrically, violence, sex and god are all touched upon but each song brings about it’s own message, most of which seem to promote freedom and enlightenment in some way. As before, Huntress have not produced the most punishing or the heaviest of metal albums but its quick, groove laden style has a universal appeal that should adhere to even the most devoted of extreme metal fans. Following last year’s triumphant debut was always going to be difficult and facing such pressures could have left Huntress with a lackluster effort in a bid to stay on the genre radar. Instead they have made an album that will not only hold its own against its ancestor but against most of the melodic metal albums on the market today.
question often result in my normal ‘more of the usual, yet somewhat different’ spiel in that a band that has carved a path initially, but still is known by familiar patterns should expect to receive. You’ve been there for the crossover-as-fuck Systems Overload, the incredibly unorthodox To Die For, and even the intensely strange yet welcomely fucked up Integrity 2000, and you’re just expecting another surprise from the band, with their history as one of the O.G. metalcore bands alongside big names like Converge and Earth Crisis, among many others, with the flag being carried by today’s heavy and angular acts Gaza (R.I.P.) and Early Graves. Integrity are an important band, yes, but what are we willing to let them get away with whatever they want to do and say ‘Oh, they’re legendary, let’s avert our eyes and assume it’s good’? Yes and no. Integrity know they’re mental (I dearly hope), and they’ve taken the time
to tinker around with many different styles, including the more breakdown-laden and circle-pit soaked of them, and in-between. Mosh-fodder or not, Integrity have been there to say ‘we’re here’, and that certainly does matter in hardcore, a genre where the greats have either called it quits or phoned it in and left the new generation to phone it in.
SUICIDE BLACK SNAKE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Sean Pierre-Antoine Integrity has always been known as one of the strangest hardcore bands for their envelopepushing (forgive the cliché phrase, I’m drunk) brand of oddity-embracing riff-cannon wielding steaze that has attracted and repelled in equal amounts. Suicide Black Snake (A389 Recordings/Magic Bullet Records) will do little to convince haters that they are willing to change, and even less to convince longtime fans that they are er... willing to change. Yes, Suicide Black Snake is a different entity from other Integrity albums, but just how much so? If you’ve read any other reviews by me, you should know that reviews that begin with a
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Unfortunately, Integrity haven’t got much left to shock the extreme music populace with, Sure, ‘There Ain’t No Living In This Life’ may start clean and suddenly distort everything two and a half minutes in, but coming from a band that has consistently been known for pulling these sort of tricks (a track record on the once legendary Victory records notwithstanding), it’s nothing new. The bluesy grooves, the metallic hardcore barbarity of ‘Detonate World’s Plague’, and the d-beat imitation of ‘Beasts As Gods’; it’s got the oomph you would expect from a band like
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Integrity, but where’s the original threat and chaos? It’s woefully non-existent, and Integrity has run out of tricks to keep us frightened on record. Live, it may be another treat, but I’ve yet to get punched to them, so until now, I’ll say that they’re not that fresh or inspired as they once were, at least as a listening experience.
IWRESTLEDABEARONCE LATE FOR NOTHING RRRRRRRRRR Words: Dan Bond Trying to put Iwrestledabearonce into a neat little genre box is almost as futile as attempting to fight against its awesome power. Typically brash and abrasive, Shreveport, LA’s noisiest
output have retained their grizzly crown on third album, Late For Nothing (Century Media). Since 2009 debut and kitchen sink-cacophony It’s all happening, the ridiculously named Iwrestledabearonce have been melding the ferocious power of The Dillinger Escape Plan, the groove of Pantera and the what-the-hellis-this? fervent glee of Mike Patton’s more experimental guise. Late For Nothing boasts the fine pipes of new lead singer Courtney LaPlante; it’s quite a jolt to the system as LaPlante’s clean vocals carry more weight than predecessor Krysta Cameron’s, dispensing with the overtly sweet pop pitch which becomes startling apparent on flitting, crushing opener ‘Thunder Chunky’. Throughout the 13-track assault, some monstrously heavy guitars are immediately offset by unsettling electronic atmospherics and LaPlante’s soothing voice which floats
above her more aggressive, raspy tones. Like in ‘Firebees’, just as you feel lulled into the soft rhythms of LaPlante’s voice the beauty is shattered by her forceful screams. ‘Mind The Gap’ is the closest Iwrestledabearonce ever come to a record label-sating single with its easy going riffs and approachable vocals. But no sooner than taking a supposed breather, they crank out ‘Carnage Asada’ immediately after and the second half of the album explodes in a mushroom cloud of deep, throaty screams and brilliantly tricky guitar widdling. For a band whose name reflects the carnage contained within it was always going to be a struggle to harness the madness. After improving in leaps and bounds on each album having a new lead singer only added to the challenge of upping their game. With Late For Nothing Iwrestledabearonce are winning the fight.
IMPERMANENT RESONANCE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Dan Swinhoe
Dream Theater frontman James Labrie is a busy guy. Not only are the Prog giants releasing a new self-titled record this year, but the man has also found time to release a solo album. Impermanent Resonance (InsideOut) is Labrie’s third album under is own name, and fifth if you include is MullMuzzler days. With the exception of Wichers, the band, made up of Matt Guillory on Keyboards, Marco Sfogli & Peter Wichers (ex-Soilwork) on guitars, Ray Riendeau on bass and Peter Wildoer playing drums and contributing harsh vocals, are the same line-up as on Labrie’s
previous solo outing, Static Impulse. And on the whole the two albums are very similar in sound and style. Gone are the complex structures and winding epics of DT. Here we’re treated to straight ahead melodic metal. From opener ‘Agony’ through to closer ‘I Will Not Break’, the album is almost a mix of extremely melodic death married with pop sensibilities and electronic atmospherics. ‘Agony’ is a perfect example of Labrie’s solo sound. Opening with a shredding, winding riff and growled vocals, it quickly turns into a power metal chorus, marrying blast beats and lashings of synth before tearing into a solo. It’s a hectic start, followed by the more radio friendly ‘Undertow’, which swaps shredding for soaring super melodic pop metal. Unfortunately we’re given more in the way of easy on the ear mid-tempo numbers that lay closer to pop than metal. They’re all incredibly catchy and enjoyable, and it’s easy to imagine this record being a commercial success with the right promotion. But throughout the rest of the album, there’s only two tracks in the same kind of heavy style as the opener, ‘I Got You’ and closer ‘I Will Not Break’. The rest are enjoyable and well-written, but there’s too many that err on the side of plodding and too few that get the adrenaline pumping. Labrie is full of memorable vocal hooks; it’s all soaring choruses and stadium anthems. The lyrics occasionally leave you sounding a bit uninspired; cheesy lines and stale metaphors seem even worse coming out of a guy associated with intelligent progressive rock in his day job. He makes them work within the song, but you thing he could have done better. Though not as exciting as the opening track promised, Impermanent Resonance is full of well written tracks they play to the band’s strengths. ‘Say You’re Still Mine’ is the semiacoustic ‘lighters up’ ballad, while the rest are almost all single-worthy, mixing big melodies and elements of progressive pop and electronics. The heavier moments are most satisfying, but there’s little wrong the album as a whole. It rocks, it soars, and if you like your music energetic and easily accessible, this will be right up your street. Impermanent Resonance is a decent, if unspectacular album. Labrie fanboys will lap it up, and it should keep Dream Theatre fans happy until their new album hits in September.
ASYMMETRY RRRRRRRRRR Words: Mat Davies Progress. If there is one word to neatly sum up the implicit expectation we have of our bands and artists then it is surely progress. To hear a band grow, develop, reach and achieve is surely one of the principal pleasures of being a fan. If that assertion is true, then the new album from progressive rock band Karnivool is an unqualified, major success. Asymmetry is the Australian band’s first new material in four years. They have, for the most part, put to one side the immediacy of previous release Sound Awake but its place you’re treated to a much broader palette of songs and musicianship. Aysmmetry is a sprawling, dense and often uncompromising album that
thrills and beguiles in equal measure. How does it sound? It sounds brilliant. Karnivool have taken everything they know and love and honed it superbly; they have crafted a record of intelligent ambition, often inspired song construction and brilliant aural soundscapes from evocative start to plaintive finish. Over the past four years, this band have clearly grown and developed. Never less than interesting, with Asymmetry they have now become a fascinating, enthralling enterprise, full of emotional charge, resolve and insight. There is a lot going on here: it is a record that runs the gamut of ideas and emotions. And back again. It rocks like a proverbial one, to boot. Vocalist Ian Kenny has matured into one of the more interesting vocalists at work today; his ability to slip from broken emotion- as on the haunting ‘Sky Machine’, through outright defiance that you get on ‘The Refusal’ to narrator of skill and grace on the superlative ‘Aeons’ is a masterclass in how the voice can
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ALBUM REVIEWS make or break a record. This is not a solo record though- the technical playing and the virtuosity on display from the rest of the band will have you doffing your cap, proverbial or otherwise. On the brilliant ‘Eilodon’, for example I can hear echoes of Synchronicity era Police (which, as anyone with a brain should know, is high praise indeed) as well as stirring rock music that will compete effortlessly with any modern day progressive rock masters. Likewise, the incidental vignettes such as ‘Amusia’ or ‘Aum’ give you a scintillating glimpse of the new territories that the band are wanting to explore. Across the record though, the overwhelming sense you’re left with is how much the band have simply upped their game. You’re going to be playing Asymmetry a lot; in fact, I reckon you’re going to love it. It will, I wager, be living long on your iPod and will, in all probability, have you grinning from ear to ear at the sheer effortless brilliance on display. That, most assuredly, is progress indeed.
REBELLION HYMNS RRRRRRRRRR Words: Christine Hager After picking up Man’s Gin’s new record Rebellion Hymns at Maryland Deathfest while Erik Wunder took Cobalt on the road for the first time, I couldn’t wait to get home and play it. Their first album Smiling Dogs was an interesting beginning, though less complete than the new album upon first listen, a fact I attribute to the maintenance of a more extensive band line-up this time around. Their latest release through Profound Lore Records seems to have taken their compositions to the next level and blends so much into one tantalizing record; it’s difficult to know where to start if not the beginning.
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The album starts off with Scott’s thoughtfully composed piano, slowly nudging forward into the degenerate bends of southern sway. The pressure builds as the rest of the band joins in, layering, guitar, drums and upright bass. Erik’s timeless lyrics and distinguishable vocal style lay dominant in the mix despite the compression on his gruff passionate laments. Tom Tierney even adds some accordion to the mix. Around the five minute mark, the band lulls in the presence of some lonely bass heavy notes, only to collide and collect together in harmonious hymns on ‘Inspiration’ The intro to ‘Varicose’ sounded far too much like ‘Nuclear Ambition Part 1’ off their first album Smiling Dogs. That being said, this was still one of my favorite tracks on the album, whether it be because I get all excited thinking it’s going to be that other track, or the fact that it transforms into something beautiful in its own right. Gorgeous lines like “Stoic lines in my face, they bleed.” and Erik’s captivating campfire like narrative style still has me wondering who this woman was what killed her. As much as I’ve already noted the quality of the lyrics on this album, ‘Off The Coast Of Sicily’ is a gift to the ears. Entrance percussion sounds like banging on empty factory walls, layered in heavy, quick bow passes, playful Santana like guitar and possibly even a melodica in there. Erik’s vocals sound as if they’ve been passed through a radio speaker; also feature guest vocals by Elise Wunder. The album is broken up by several interludes, represented by a triad of deer heads on the back listings. On the first interlude, what was that shaker; a box of Macaroni? It sounds as though it could have been in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, with its hollow unturned instrumentals. The second is nothing similar. It’s as though a cd player had been re-amped and was then recorded. Sound quality is terrible but with obvious intention as an interesting lead in to ‘Never Do The Neon Lights’ which feature drums by Brian Alien and Lozano’s essential harmonica solo. The third interlude is my favorite of the three, most likely for its eerie piano like the drag of a sick over a chain link fence, coupled with a calming twinkle of a lullaby. With no shortage of drummers on this record, Jason Madrick contributes percussion to the various interludes, not to mention the album’s first release ‘Deer Head & The Rain;’ Erik sitting back behind the kit on the rest of the album. ‘Hibernation Time’ is without question,
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one of the best tracks on the album, featuring baritone saxophone by Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Bloodiest, Corrections House); a reason to make it to the end of the album in its own right. It’s the hidden track that makes me secretly love it more than anyone could ever know. Set to the tune of ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles, ‘Let It Dubs’ is Alien’s passionately hilarious ballad to his pal Erik Wunder, which has to have spawned from an acid trip at some point or some really good weed. The last I’d heard of the legend of Dubs and Josh, I was in a van with the guys following a Nirvana cover set at Clutter in Funkadelic Studios. Brian leaned in towards me in the back seat and proceeded to tell me the legend of E Dubs and how great a friend Josh was. The song pretty much describe the typical secondary happenings if you listen close, but it’s a great insight into a portion of the bands dynamic and a reveal of their foolery behind the scenes. I would highly recommend this record and suggest giving their earlier work a shot as well if you haven’t already.
THROUGH OUR DARKEST DAYS RRRRRRRRRR Words: Chris Tippell
In recent years, Danish metallers Mercenary have gone through the all too common challenge of pulling through a vast and significant change in the ranks, changing half of their line-up and following with a slight shift in their sound, with 2011’s Metamorphosis sounding significantly upbeat than previously. Away from the Century Media label they resided with for a long time, their latest album sees them now with Prosthetic Records, and surely hoping for an album to rebuild their momentum. Latest album Through Our Darkest Days (Noise Art Records) would imply through its title a return to more bleaker territory but instead it proves to be more Sonic Syndicate than My Dying Bride; sweeping guitar parts, roaring sing-along choruses and thrashier riffs both sit with ease with the vast majority of melodic death metal acts and cater more to those looking for the ‘fist
pumping’, anthemic side rather than the sullen and despairing. Sonic Syndicate make a good comparison with the production side as well which shows a lot of sheen and clarity, but also comes across as too polished and even a little sanitised in places. Herein lies the problem with TODD, is that it feels a little too clean and seems to lack grit. It also lacks any characteristics that separate it from the increasingly saturated melodic death category; there are no new ideas, no surprises, no veering off the beaten track; just more of what you have already heard dozens of times before. Not a bad album as such, just a hugely unoriginal one.
SHADOWS RRRRRRRRRR Words: Tom Saunders Morne play atmospheric doom, not too dissimilar in style to Downfall Of Gaia, for lack of a better way to describe it. From the moment Shadows (Profound Lore) starts playing, an irresistibly thick guitar tone washes over the listener. The pacing is hypnotically consistent, and perfect for headbanging to. That isn’t to say that the album lacks variety when it comes to tempo changes though. The main riff on ‘Coming of Winter’ gallops along, whereas the opening of the final track, ‘Throes’ exhibits more of a droning ambience. The album flows together as a cohesive whole, the drones at the end of ‘Coming Of
Winter’ serve as the intro for ‘The Distance’, probably the best track on the album. Being the longest track, it builds steadily. Slow, deliberate drum beats pound over simple, clean guitar melodies, building tension. When the distortion kicks back in, the impact of the sludgy guitar tone is really felt. The simple, clean melody becomes an aching, mournful lead guitar line. The melody is more reminiscent of traditional doom metal as opposed to post-metal, but it makes for a welcome contrast. The sludgy riffs return at about 7 minutes into the song. The transition from one mood to the other feels perfectly natural, the variety of the track more than justifies it’s runtime. The highlight of the track though, comes from the solo at the end, again giving the idea that Morne are unafraid to take inspiration from more traditional doom, as well as their post-metal orientated peers. The rest of the album follows a similar fashion
to the first two tracks, but never quite reaches the highs that they exhibit. That’s not to say that the rest of the album isn’t enjoyable, just that it doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises. The only real complaint about the album would be that the vocals get a bit monotonous. Whilst they suit the style of the music well, the lack of variety makes them the weak link here. Especially when compared to other albums in the genre this year, such as Mouth Of The Architect’s Dawning, where the diversity in the vocals was a definite highlight of the album.
disc. The second is made up of the We Will Lead You To Glorious Times EP, the Tomb EP and Glorious Dead’ from the split with Unearthly Trance. Misanthropic Alchemy is just that. A brew of doom and sludge bubbling with misanthropy which transforms sound waves into something far less innocent. The quick and dirty ‘Ramesses Part 1’ kicks things off in oppressive fashion. Crushing tone surrounds the listener and holds them in place while Greening’s cracking snare hammers away at the mind. Things slow down in a hurry on ‘Ramesses Part 3’ (Part 2 is on the split with Negative Reaction). The kind of monolithic riffs Ramesses deal in proceed to enrapture the listener under their might. There is no escape. Nor would you want to. This is the sort of epic doom dreams are made of. The wave of power continues to devastate for most of the album with a couple notable exceptions. ‘Coat of Arms’ is a little more acoustic sounding and atmospheric. Bagshaw weaves melodies
Overall, whilst the album is certainly good, it doesn’t really offer much to distinguish it from other albums in the style, aside from the more noticeable influence of traditional doom on ‘The Distance’. However, the riffs are good, and the album sounds massive, so there should be plenty to enjoy here for fans of the genre.
MISANTHROPIC ALCHEMY RRRRRRRRRR Words: Matt Hinch Ramesses is a British doom/sludge trio consisting of guitarist Tim Bagshaw (ex-Electric Wizard), drummer Mark Greening (Electric Wizard) and vocalist/bassist Adam Richardson (ex-Lord of Putrefaction). Unfortunately Ramesses has been put on hold. Bagshaw moved to the US to form Serpentine Path with the guys from Unearthly Trance, and Greening rejoined Electric Wizard, leaving Richardson out in the cold. Thankfully Ritual Productions decided to reissue debut full length Misanthropic Alchemy for those who just can’t get enough. This exhausting 2-disc set spans over two dominating hours and includes MA on the first
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ALBUM REVIEWS around Richardson’s central bass to uplifting effect. Same with closer ‘Earth Must Die’. It’s a beautiful melding of guitar and bass with sounds like explosions providing a measure of percussion. The two live tracks included have their flaws recording wise but as for performance, I bet those shows ruled. The second disc starts with the Glorious Times EP. And glorious it is. Richardson’s gas-huffingdragon-regurgitating-half-rotten-orcs vocals work well with the Sleep-esque mountains of iron riffs. In fact, at least one riff sounds almost exactly like Sleep. This is not a complaint as ‘Witchhampton’ is an incredible song. As is ‘Black Domina’. How this song is not legendary in doom circles is beyond me. The Tomb EP and ‘Glorious Dead’ are equally megalithic. Ramesses entire catalog is pure gold. Packaging these three releases together is great not only for the completist but also for those just discovering the band. Three essentials plus some bonuses all in one place? How can you go wrong? Especially when Ramesses is so incredibly good at bowelshaking, bone-crushing, mind destroying doom. Now’s your chance.
Much of the modern French scene seems to relish in an avant-garde edge to their sound, and Seth embrace this, while keeping a solid footing in the traditional elements. Perhaps it’s the fact they always bring it back to something relatable but the musical tangents seem to work for the band. The album has a flow through it, a natural progression that many bands experimenting with the techniques don’t seem to achieve. The Howling Spirit is not an album to be taken lightly, it commands attention throughout, and those who choose not to give it any will get nothing from this album. With every listening there’s something new to discover, something hidden that chooses to rear its head. Seth has returned and with this masterpiece they have shown they are truly ready to take their place back as forerunners in the scene. France once again has its true kings of black metal.
but they’re all mixed with a real knowledge of song writing, creating genuinely catchy ditties with punk rock attitudes, hard rock swagger and a fuzzy layer of distortion that coats the whole album like icing sugar. The instrumentation is incredible, each member bringing different influences to the fold, allowing them to switch from tough guy hardcore on ‘Frost Forward’ to the sample heavy, 90’s Metallicaesque ‘Seb’ or the monolithic ‘Steven the Slow’, with Unsane’s Dave Curran on vocals. For all the fancy words and genres you could throw at Idolize, a wonderfully apt name for an album made up of so many influences, Sofy Major make awesome music, pure and simple. Your first listen may be taken up by a game of “Spot the Reference” but as you repeat the album you’ll find it swallowing you, bobbing your head to each sweeping groove, fuzzed up guitar riff and frantic drum beat, until you can’t get it out of your head.
THE HOWLING SPIRIT RRRRRRRRRR Words: Caitlin Smith Rising back out of the void, French black metallers Seth return after mysteriously dropping out of the scene for nine years. They say that time heals all wounds, but Seth are out to disprove this, returning just as angry, just as evil and with more determination than ever. Having added two new members to the band since 2004’s Era-Decay, their fifth full-length studio album The Howling Spirit (Season Of Mist) contains fresh blood, fresh sounds and fresh ideas, but underneath it all the old ways still reign. The city of Bordeaux, more famous for its grapes than its metal, is the hometown for this quintet. Like the wines of the region, the band themselves have matured through the years, coming out with a stronger, richer sound. The album mixes Marduk-esque vocals with a slowly evolving melodic backing. This is not the violent and abrasive attack of Panzer Division or Iron Dawn though; there is a more methodical, controlled approach. It is not the sound of war, but a darker, colder force of hatred and the promise of impending destruction.
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IDOLIZE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Matthew Tilt Noise rock; a nice, lazy generalisation of a group of bands you can’t be arsed to describe properly. Christ, the word noise gives zero indication as to what you’re about to hear. Is it Merzbow style, all looped electronica and harsh distortion, or maybe something akin to Pissed Jeans, blurring the lines as they crash into the hardcore world? Even rock doesn’t help because you’re talking 60 years of history and I just don’t have the wordcount for that sort of nonsense. Honestly Sofy Major do neither, though they clearly have a soft spot for the ‘Jeans boys; Idolize (Impure Muzik) is overflowing with groovy basslines, throat shredding yells and fancy time signature changes
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CHALK WHITE NIGHTS RRRRRRRRRR Words:Sean M. Palfrey The coming together of the front-man of experimental rockers Oxbow and the multiinstrumentalist behind Stray Ghost can only set the saliva glands of fans of unique and adventurous music into overdrive. The unique voice of Eugene S. Robinson and the unbridled skill of Anthony Saggers seems like a moribund match made in heaven. Indeed it seems from the outset of the pairings début under the moniker Stranger By Starlight, Chalk White Nights (Bad Paintings), seemed pre-ordained.
The strained, tortured vocal style of Robinson is reminiscent of Rozz Williams’ work on album such as The Whorses Mouth or Nick Cave’s ‘Your Funeral... My Trial’.
While the jazz-tinged dark ambience of Saggers’ soundtrack gives the album a distinctly noir atmosphere recalling novels by the likes of Raymond Chandler, and even William Burroughs.
Words: Angela Davey
It is an album meant for the somnambulist, the insomniac and other haunters of cold urban nights. ‘The Night Of No Sleep’, ‘An Organist’ and ‘Black Cat’ are challenging tracks with their discordant edges, but are incredibly rewarding listens that you can easily loose yourself in. The most accessible track on the album can be found in the form of the seedy jazz strains of ‘Beautiful Boy With A Stone’, and still it’s steady
repetitive beat punctuated by a malevolent organ and the anguished vocals make it just as disquieting. The songs on Chalk White Nights follows the overall atmosphere of the album. However each track is so distinct and unique it gives the album an epistolary feel, perhaps even a portmanteau-like structure with each song providing a different narrative for some forlorn character that inhabits the urban twilight. This album lives up to the skills of the two men that have come together to create it. The use of multiple instruments including guitars, electronics and saxophone find a perfect foil in Robinson’s expressive vocals. Casual listeners will no doubt find this to be a dense and morose album to try and get into. But for those who like ambient music, strong lyrical narratives performed by emotional and expressive ways will find this to be a must have.
THE WILD HUNT RRRRRRRRRR Fifth studio album from Sweden’s national treasure, Watain, sees a departure from their blackest of black sound and anti-cosmic Luciferian ideals into territory that will ruffle the feathers of die-hard fans the world over. The Wild Hunt lures listeners in with the slow building tension of ‘Night Vision’ before grabbing a stranglehold with ‘De Profundis’. It’s jam packed with classic Swedish tremolo vibes that the band are famed for but, unlike the trio’s previous releases, it possesses a raw sounding 80’s production quality that could easily pass as an offering from Sodom. The vast majority of this record proves itself to
be multi dimensional and a vast progression from its predecessor ‘Lawless Darkness’. With heavy influences from both death and thrash metal there is a grimy sense of aggression throughout and the structuring of each track sees a smooth paradigm shift between each element so every component, from vocals to percussion, gets a chance to shine. What proves most surprising of all is ‘They Rode On’; a ballad that sees Danielsson display a clean and emotive vocal performance. Slow and melodic, this track is an introspective tale of the journey the band are taking – for anyone listening and puzzling at the change in sound, simply listen to the lyrics and all will be answered. This will take a few spins before the experience truly soaks in, however, this is the definitive album in proving that Watain are spiritual pioneers of the black metal world and more than just a gimmick. By far their most mature opus to date. More of this please!
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT FIREWIND
AUGUST 8-12 2013 C AT T O N H A L L , WA LT O N - U P O N - T R E N T, D E R B Y S H I R E ( U K ) WORDS: MARCUS J. WEST P H O T O S : FA B I O L A S A N T I N I P H O T O E D I T I N G : B L U E B E R RY H E AV E N By the fans, for the fans: Four days, four stages and nothing but unadulterated great times on the horizon. This is what one of the most anticipated metal festivals of the globe is all about, and it intends to deliver with full force. Day one has finally arrived, and as fans congregate at the gates, the sun promises a weekend unmarred by rain. As the barriers open, the ninth edition of Bloodstock Open Air kicks off on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. Before it turns into a late-night party tent, this indoor stage welcomes bands such as Motherload, Bull Riff Stampede, Oaf and Ravenage. This is a great warm-up, a taste of what is to come. Bloodstock Open Air, affectionately called BOA, once again offers a list of to-die-for shows, live events that will feed the insatiable hunger of the metal community. The organisation is spot on: campsites are well positioned close to the main gate, creating a strong, celebratory sense of community—plus, you could get from your tent to the main stage in under ten minutes! For those eager to upgrade, BOA’s Serpent’s Lair VIP package offer a wider camping ground and access to a restricted area with food stalls and bars. Here fans can have a break from the metal marathon and enjoy a huge selection of traditional stouts and ales, including Black Sabbath, Dizzy Blond and Stairway to Heaven, just to mention a few. Bands drift in and out of the nearby media area, chatting and drinking with fans between interviews; all part of the experience. With this year’s colossal sequence of headliners, King Diamond, Lamb Of God, and Slayer, BOA 2013 is unquestionably destined to be remembered. And not just on the musical front; for the third year running, Teenage Cancer Trust will be the official charity partner at this weekend’s ultimate metal festival.
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Back to the Sophie Lancaster stage, Skiltron hailing all the way from Argentina, are introducing the UK to their distinctive brand of folk metal; as they come on stage playing pipes and rocking kilts, the pride of the many Scots who are gathered today is fired up.
Friday Day two kicks off the festival proper, and starts with yet more promising weather, as well as Nottingham-based Earthtone 9, and the blasting power of all American thrashers Death Angel. While Earthtone 9 gradually warms up the crowd, Death Angel take it two steps further with their blasting adrenaline. As their seventh album The Dream Calls For Blood will be released soon, it’s clear that Death Angel are once again back on the festival circuits in good damn shape. Right after Ex Deo, BOA gets its first black metal hit with Swedish Dark Funeral, who deliver one of the best performances of the day thanks to eerie renditions of ‘Stigmata’ and ‘My Funeral’. By now the crowd is ready to welcome the Greek metal institution better known as Firewind. Guitarist Gus G. and the army are led by the band’s new singer, Kelly “Sundown” Carpenter, who came on board following Apostolos “Apollo” Papathanasio’s departure.
Municipal Waste are next on the Main Stage and it all turns, as indeed it must, into total crossover thrash mayhem. Meanwhile on the New Blood Stage, Second Rate Angels catch the attention of a fairly large crowd. Voivod, the Canadians from Quebec, deliver a stunning performance to say the least, wielding their well renowned and captivating dynamics; exceptional vocals from Denis “Snake” Bélanger, and guitarist Dan Mongrain’s flaring riffs set the crowd ablaze. Their set is the perfect prelude to Accept, the über thrashers. Swedish Scar Symmetry do an alright job headlining the Sophie Lancaster Stage with their highly rated blend of melodic prog. However, it wasn’t quite intense enough to get the audience ready for the final chapter of the first day: King Diamond. He’s achieved legendary status and more, and he is finally back in the UK. A headline slot is more than fitting; however, the show seems to lack some of the expected grandeur and theatrical thrill at first, despite splashes of wild lights and the eerie fences that divide the man from his audience. Still, thanks to King’s disturbingly high pitched vocals, stunning renditions of “At The Graves” and Merciful Fate’s “Come To The Sabbath” are delivered, making the final performance of the day one to certainly talk about for days to come.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT saturday As the festival atmosphere takes hold, fans are hungry for more. However, Stormbringer’s lukewarm attempt to wake up the earlyrisers is quickly surpassed by British Beholder and Canadian Three Inches Of Blood. 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of Three Inches Of Blood’s first ever performance in the UK and frontman Cam Pipes brings out the pride and glory, delivering “Forest King” and a cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” with his contagious fervour.
Hell stage a state of the art show; the main stage transforms into their traditionally creepy theatre, adorned with a pulpit and flaming gargoyles. Frontman David Bower does an excellent job, throwing tracks such as ‘The Oppressors’ and ‘Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us’ out with his customarily precision, made only grander by the fireworks. Unfathomable Ruination fiercely precede Sworn Amongst on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. The latter are definitely a band to follow, in no small part due to their forthcoming follow-up to 2010’s Severance. Gethika are today’s big surprise on the New Blood Stage, but back on the main stage, Canadian Kataklysm deliver their unique northern hyperblast at its best, in part thanks to drummer Max Duhamel’s heavier-than-hell blast-beats. Together with the French fury of Gojira, Kataklysm are among the best acts today. Gojira, as we all know, are always able to conquer their audience. As Joe Duplantier apologises for missing pieces of equipment (which few people even noticed or cared about!), their set evolves into all of its delightful fullness. With Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe leaping on stage as special guest for a breath-taking rendition of ‘Back Bone’, their set becomes today’s highlight. Seeing the two frontmen celebrating their longtime friendship with a hug is both emotional and mind-blowing. The adrenaline-charged Swedish powerhouse Sabaton are today’s sensation, drawing a huge crowd. On a strict no-swearing diet, frontman Joakim Brodén knows how to get the audience on-side: he throws cans of lager to them for every accidental swear word. For a family-friendly show, he “accidentally“ swears a hell of a lot. Avantasia are the German heavy/power metal supergroup project created by the ever charismatic Tobias Sammet, and they have the honour of opening for the most awaited headliners. Drugged by Avantasia’s melodic force and high pitched tunes, the crowd is now high on pure festival spirit. Right before the all-American Lamb Of God, the announcement that the mighty—and only recently reunited—Norwegian black metallers Emperor will headline BOA 2014 (as their sole UK live appearance) is like petrol on a fire; the crowd explodes with joy. KATAKLYSM
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SABATON Lamb Of God are today’s well deserved headliners: the anticipation for their set is killing the ravenous audience, who are eager to welcome the squad from Virginia once again. Randy Blythe stomps on stage, charged up like a lion, ready to burst into ‘Desolation’. However, it’s ‘Ghost Walking’, from Lamb Of God’s latest masterpiece, Resolution, that makes the set truly take off. It engulfs the crowd with pure metal bliss, thanks to Mark Morton’s spine chilling solo. “We had to cut our last tour short because of some legal problems we had,” says Blythe, referring of course to the tragedy which hit
headlines last year after a concert in the Czech Republic. Blythe pays tribute to Daniel Nosek, the 19-year-old killed at a Lamb Of God concert following an on-stage scuffle with Blythe in June 2012; “a fan like me and you,” as Blythe says. The crowd responds with massive cheers, and begin pitting; they nearly break the stage barriers, nearly stopping the show twice. It is like an unstoppable turbine. It’s clear that Lamb Of God nailed it again, culminating with ‘Black Label’. It’s great to have them back!
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT Day three has sadly arrived too soon, and it starts with the kicking rampage of Irish thrashers Gama Bomb, who wake up the audience in no time. Perhaps their set is lacking a certain element of rawness, but there is no denying they can get a crowd moving, and they set the speed just right. On the Sophie Lancaster Stage, Lifer and States Of Panic set the spirit for the day just as high. US deathcore force Whitechapel are clearly well-positioned amongst the most wanted of the whole festival as they take over the main stage. Frontman Phil Bozeman is the emblem of the caffeine-nicotine fix fuelling the festival. Tracks like ‘I, Dementia’ and ‘This Is Exile’ are delivered massively loud; Whitechapel kick so hard that it becomes impossible to resist both headbanging and moshing.
The temperature rises, perfect timing for Sacred Mother Tongue to step in, followed by Finnish icons Amorphis and their captivating melodic tunes. With their new album Circle in the air, they positioned themselves as one of the best acts of the whole festival. Their forthcoming UK tour is definitely not to be missed, as many are left wanting for more. From the desolation of Finnish landscapes to the scorching California sun, faster and louder than hell thrashers Exodus are simply fantastic. It’s remarkable how throughout three decades they haven’t lost one single unit of speed and strength; tonight’s performance becomes the living proof. Coming down from the thrash shores of the Bay Area to the nu-metal coastline of Santa Barbara, it’s time for the Devildriver fury. They deliver an impressive set thanks to frontman Dez Fafara’s unquenchable fire. Back to the Sophie Lancaster Stage, and Austrian supreme blackened death metallers Belphegor are simply amazing. Their set becomes a unique experience thanks to frontman Helmuth Lehner’s proud stage presence, which is both intimidating and intriguing. Lights are eerily dim and intense, matching their profound hymns. More state of the art thrash is delivered by Anthrax. By the time they re-vamp ACDC’s ‘TNT’ and bring their unforgettable hit ‘Mad House’, the moshpit becomes as close to a warzone as it can possibly be. With mighty Slayer headlining the last day, there is not a better way to close the festival. Guitarist and legend Jeff Hanneman (replaced by touring member Gary Holt), who tragically passed away last May, is greatly missed, but his spirit is, and will always be, present. Tonight is the proof: classics such as ‘Angel Of Death’ and ‘Death Skin Mask’ are flared with both the customary Slayer precision and their commitment to always satiate their loyal fans.
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EXODUS American deathsters Dying Fetus have the honour of closing the curtains on the Sophie Lancaster Stage. As Slayer detonate a blasting rendition of ‘South Of Heaven’, Dying Fetus’s drummer Trey Williams attracts fans to the other side of the arena with his killer blast-beats. John Gallagher’s growling in ‘From Womb To Waste’ and ‘Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog’ remind the crowd how great this band still is. Dying Fetus win over both long-time and new fans. With Slayer and Dying Fetus waving goodnight, BOA 2013 comes to an end.
With mixed feelings of exhilaration and sadness, the crowd slowly dismantles. Some go back to their camp-sites. while others stop to get one last thrill on the bumper cars, or a couple of pints from the bar. The announcement of Emperor’s grand return has fans already making plans, as it should be. In little under a year, Bloodstock will be back, fans in tow, ready to recapture the greatness of 2013, and surpass it. Bring it on!
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT JULY, 20TH 2013
SPAC, SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY
CHILDREN OF BODOM
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WORDS: KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES
PHOTOS: ECHOES IN THE WELL
FESTIVAL REO US, NYA state ZI
Another summer is going by far too quickly and another Mayhem Festival has come to a close. The traveling tour of metal music and fan shenanigans has crisscrossed the USA once again. I traveled to tony Saratoga Springs, home of horse-racing, camping, and mellow countryside in upstate New York to rage all day in the heat. When I wasn’t checking out and shooting the bands, it was fun to play ‘the metal band t-shirt game’ with my girlfriend, noting the abundance of FFDP and Children of Bodom fans in attendance by shirt- count, as well as other bands. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) venue has a wide open field where the side stages were located, as well as an amphitheater with a steep lawn that was well suited for the fest. The staff and security was very professional and friendly. I would travel there again to see a show anytime. By the time I got into the venue and picked up my credentials, Huntress was halfway done with their set on the Jagermeister Stage. They had a nice crowd in front of them, considering the early hour and the temperature. Jill Janus has a voice made for live performances and the band was good. Next on the MI Stage was Attika 7, led by former Biohazard front man Evan Seinfeld. A mostly average hard rock affair, Evan sang well, and in spite of missing guitarist Rusty Coones, the band was very solid. Coming up next was the highlight of the early part of the day, Battlecross. The amount of ass Battlecross kicked was really impressive. The crowd was packed in tight for them up front, as they tore through a tight, short set of thrash-inspired modern metal. From the opener ‘Breaking You’, to ‘Kaleb’ and the Pantera- ish new single ‘Force Fed Lies’; the band was just killer. Guest drummer Kevin Talley just killed it the entire set too. I feel like in a few more years, we will see this band on the main stage, akin to a Lamb of God or a Hatebreed type ascent in the ranks of metal.
After Battlecross, Born of Osiris was a nice change of pace. Their proggy-deathcore sound isn’t the most original, but they have a solid new album coming out, and are always very good performers in a live setting. Back on the Jager-stage, Butcher Babies made spectacle of themselves, in a good way. I get why people either love or hate this band. Metal fans can smell a forgery a mile away, and a band led by supposed metal-loving former Penthouse pets seems to be a marketing wet-dream conjured up in somebody’s office. On the plus side Heidi and Carla are talented and good performers. When given a chance, they can really work a crowd well. The band behind them is solid and while the songs from their new album Goliath (Century Media) are better, they are still not quite there yet. Following them was the band that surprised me the most from the side stages, in Motionless In White. I’ve never counted myself a big fan of theirs, but they certainly are unique and a very fun to watch live. Not only did they put on a sick show, their many fans made their presence known, singing along loudly the entire set, sometimes overshadowing the band. Wow! Job For A Cowboy represented the death metal contingent to the fullest on this day. I have followed this band from day one and how they have grown by leaps and bounds is really impressive. It was good to hear them change up the set list a bit for the tour subbing out some classics for some more recent tracks. After JFAC I checked out the 70s sounds of Scorpion Child on the Sumerian Stage. I really dig SC’s new album and they are even better as a live act. Their sweet tones are a nice throwback to a time when style and great song writing mattered much more than how low you could tune your guitar down or whatever you wore. These guys were killer and in a tough spot since at this venue the third stage was right next to the second stage, often competing for eyes and ears.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT MOTIONLESS IN WHITE
Putting on a main stage worthy show for the second time in three years, Machine Head proved why they are the kings of the American metal scene right now. Few bands going have the great songs in their history, as well as can pull off being current and vital. The cheer that went up when the opening strains of ‘Imperium’ were played, you’d have thought this was the main stage. A huge pit opened up while the band raged. The band was in killer form, with Robb Flynn of course instigating the crowd to bang their heads, scream, mosh etc. New bassist Jared MacEachern, did a great job stepping into the shoes of Adam Duce, and there was no drop off from those signature vocal harmonies fans have come to expect. The positively crushed their short set with favorites like ‘Davidian’ and ‘Halo’, the latter being a musical tour DE force with Phil Demmel adding his great harmony solos. Frankly, if I were MH or their management, I would hold out for the main stage next time. Closing out the side stage fare was Children of Bodom¸who delighted their many fans in attendance with a mostly old school set. Alexi Laiho and his hatecrew were on fire, ripping through a spirited set which included ‘Silent Night, Bodom Night’ and ‘Angels Don’t Kill’. CoB have gotten their old fire back, and I’m glad to see it.
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The main stage was extra interesting this year with an appearance of Amon Amarth. With a tremendous production featuring a smoke breathing, dragon headed Viking ship; the band stormed the stage to the slowly filling up amphitheater. The band tore through some of their best known songs as well as a few new ones from Deceiver of the Gods (Metal Blade). Far from an novelty on the main stage, not only did AA have many fans in the house, but the average Joe and Jane metal fans in the crowd seemed to be into the, as well. Band members ran all around the big stage, running up and down the ship, which also doubled as a drum riser. Front man Johan Hegg drank what I presume is mead or grool from a rams’ horn cask, hung on his hip. Could this be any more epic? Not really. Mastodon followed and were a study in contrasts. With just a simple set up with some alternate artwork from The Hunter behind them, Mastodon laid all of their musical cards on the table. The Hunter was a very strong album, but further divided old fans from new, so I’m sure hearing a set list of ten songs, and eight of them being off of that release won’t please everybody. However, the band played with a lot of energy and Brett Hinds, often the key to a good or bad show, was in terrific form. It was cool to hear ‘Crystal Skull’ and ‘Meglodon’ from the back catalogue, but I’m hoping when their next album comes out, they change it up the set lot more.
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What I can I say about Five Finger Death Punch that hasn’t been said by better minds? I seem to be slow to understand their appeal. Clearly the most mainstream and appealing to everyone type of band at this festival, perhaps that right there is the explanation I need. They are too commercial, too for my tastes, which I totally dig a lot of stuff your average metal scribe wouldn’t dare tread his or her ears on. Well over 12,000 music fans disagreed with me on this night, as they sang every word along with the band; and pumped their fists to the sky. The band certainly delivers a cool stage show and are to a man, decently talented performers. And yet, I am at a loss to recall what their best songs are, still lacking memorable parts to my ears. I would never have predicted that a cover of ‘Bad Company’ would have become a big hit today for them, but what do I know. I do appreciate the fact that someone who gets into FFDP today will find Slayer tomorrow, and perhaps Devourment or Watain sometime later on. So the circle of metal goes around eventually, even for those in those folks sporting terrible Tapout and Ed Harvey shirts.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT Last and never least is Rob Zombie. He has forged his own subgenre/cottage industry these days: selling to the masses of metal fans a culture and horror/B movie inspired lifestyle via music that it at the essence of what Mayhemfest is all about. There were folks in the venue, which paid full price for the day that only came to see Zombie, which is telling about his popularity. He has a brand new album, Venemous Rat Regeneration Vendor (Universal) and it was well-timed to come out ahead of the tour. As usual Zombie’s stage show is a spectacle to behold, worthy of his heroes Alice Cooper and Kiss. If you never saw those bands, especially back in the day, Zombie is best thing going these days to see the old school big production rock concert experience.
Musically, the band is great, even if it under utilizes a virtuoso like John 5. Ginger Fish was blistering on the drums too. Nonetheless, it turned out to be a mostly greatest hits affair with cuts like ‘Superbeast’, ‘Living Dead Girl’, a cover of Grand Funk’s ‘We’re An American Band’, and the White Zombie gem ‘More Human Than Human’. I’d actually like to hear Rob pull out more old WZ tracks, since that band is never coming back. Still, you have to give to the guy; he knows what the crowd wants from him. Closing out the night with ‘Thunder Kiss `65’ and ‘Dragula’, they brought Mayhemfest 2013 to an end.
I had hoped to be surprised this go around by zombie’s musical set. I avoided hearing the new album before the show, since I was a little luke-warm on his latest releases. Although the tempo of the intro song ‘Teenage Nostferatu Pussy’ was a clever change of pace from his typical openers, I can’t say the song is all that great. Still, as Rob preached from a giant gravestone/neon pulpit and as his band rocked out, the crowd went positively ape-shit. The spectacle of the show clearly trumping the music for RZ these days and it shows. The constant strobe lights, crazy monster themed sets, endless pyro, and video screen jump cuts of horror movies, grindhouse and crazy animation could overstimulate a real corpse.
ROB ZOMBIE PHOTO: JUSTIN BAUER
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT
AUGUST 10TH 2013, LEEUWARDEN, THE NETHERLANDS
WORDS: RAYMOND WESTLAND
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When you’re through with the regular metal festivals, big crowds and ridiculously high ticket, food and beverage prices, the annual Into The Grave festival is arguably one of the best alternatives at hand. Its location in the historic inner city of Leeuwarden can’t be beaten. This year’s third installment brings us a variety of bands like Bliksem, Jungle Rot, Heaven’s Basement, Sodom and Devildriver. Meanwhile, Satyricon and Paradise Lost are the resident headliners. Local heroes Stonehawk open the festival with their bluesy Southern rock/metal hybrid. Their song material is reminiscent of Down, Corrosion Of Conformity and Clutch. The band clearly isn’t used to playing for a larger crowd, but they soldier on nonetheless. When singer Lennart Wardekker’s microphone malfunctions things start to unravel fast. In short, a somewhat botched performance from a band that clearly can do better. Belgian thrash metal ensemble Bliksem is fast making a name for themselves as one of the most ferocious live acts in the Low Countries. Their intense performance at Into The Grave perfectly underscored their reputation. With the ever charming Peggy Meeussen leading the charge they worked their way through a set of songs which can best be described as an unholy marriage between Bay Area thrash metal and all the attitude and swagger of Appetite For Destruction–era Guns N’ Roses. My personal highlight of the day. Crude and primitive are the best words to describe Jungle Rot’s style of death metal. Huzzah for diversity, but these guys are the epitome of every death metal cliche out there. Interaction with the audience was next to nothing, their podium presentation was static at best and the songs themselves weren’t particularly memorable. Besides some diehard fans, the biggest part of the audience remained unmoved. Jungle Rot are a solid live unit, but their overall performance lacked panache.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORT Next in line were UK rock outfit Heaven’s Basement. In their home country they’re seen as one of the hottest bands of the moment, but at Into The Grave I failed to see what the buzz is all about. Granted, they put on an energetic live show, but their songs are rather forgettable. They’re eye candy for the girls in the audience, but for the vast majority they were simply too slick. A good moment for yours truly to get some food and drinks. Veteran German thrash metal institute Sodom is the first band of the day that gets the crowd really going. With 30 years of live experience under their belt, there’s little that can go wrong with them. The focus is clearly on playing as many songs as possible and the interaction with the crowd is mostly limited to the occasional song announcement. The band put up a solid performance, especially drummer Markus Freiwald—the highlight with his tight playing. I was never too impressed with Devildriver’s previous output on CD, but their live performance is quite something else. The band was on fire and played arguably the tightest set of the day. Frontman Dez Fafara really knows how to work a crowd and he plays his role as sympathetic host with gusto. They also played some new songs off their upcoming album and they blended perfectly with the older material. When you dare to close your set with Tupac’s ‘California Love’, you’re one of the big guys.
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With a new album looming over the horizon Norwegian black metal formation Satyricon decided to introduce a couple of new tracks, including ‘Our World, It Rumbles Tonight’ and ‘Tro Og Kraft’. Both compositions are quite a departure from their more straightforward material and the crowd doesn’t quite know what to make of it. Luckily, Satyricon is one of the best live acts on the planet and with splendid renditions of ‘Diabolical Now’, ‘Black Crow On A Tombstone’ and ‘The Pentagram Burns’ there was plenty to enjoy still. Due to time constraints and a long trip back home I sadly had to miss out on Paradise Lost, but I’m sure I’ll catch them some time on their current tour cycle.
Just like last year Into The Grave was a great overall experience. The atmosphere was great, it was superbly organised and everyone had a great time. Until next year!
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LIVE REVIEWS GREAT SCOTT A L L S T O N , M A JUNE 23RD WORDS : SEAN PIERRE-ANTOINE PHOTOS: MEG LOYAL PHOTOGRAPHY
The thing about Great Scott is that their shows start late, end later, right? So I waltz up to the joint at around 11, on dat dank, hoping that I missed the openers and could skip right to the part where shit blows up, see. But I underestimated the Great Scott’s capacity for time-wasting and still had two and a half more Phantom Glue songs to go. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy their music, but I needed to show up amped and keep my vibe going for the remainder of the show. Ladies and gentlemen, with little further ado: Trap Them. One of the most furious and uncompromisingly dark of the modern metalcore movement (read: All Pigs Must Die, Armed For Apocalypse, Nails, etc. not Asking Alexandria, Born of Osiris, etc.), Trap Them is blood-bolstered from figurative head to toe. Taking their cues from Converge, but adding in that Sunlight Studios tone so effectively wielded by Swedish death metal masters in Entombed and Dismember, drumming that alternates between sandblasting fury and timeless punk rhythms, and a growling rumble of a bass that provides not a backing for the guitar, but a feeling of anxiety and claustrophobia that fits the theme and aesthetic of the band. If this sounds like hyperbole, go listen to any of their releases and come back wowed by how a band can so effortlessly juggle sludgy endurance rounds with short and brutal workouts for your neck and mind. The pit’s perpetual motion could have been harnessed to solve the world’s energy problems. Nary a moment was spent in rest, except of course between songs. But even then some people were liable to collide into one another. It’s a marvel I managed to get out with only a head-butt to the right side of my face, a few mysterious (but tiny) cuts on my hands, and the soreness that comes from doing amateur martial arts to aggressive music. “Insomniawesome”, “The Facts”, “Saintpeelers/ Manic In The Grips”, among others, formed this pleasant soundtrack to my mental escape. Catch them sometime, but beware of rabid Seans.
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Trap Them & Phantom Glue
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LIVE REVIEWS 013 GREEN ROOM
T I L B U R G N L JULY 18TH WORDS: RIK MERTENS
PHOTOS: SUSANNE MAATHUIS
Another day in 013’s summer of terrific bands has arrived. The Green Room is a modest sized venue, lending itself well to playing host to bands that bring atmospheric sounds, as well as being a bit more intimate than your regular main stage. First off are Dutch locals Fehler, playing for a Green Room that is by now at least half full with more people trickling in by the minute. Playing songs from their recent album Dissona, Fehler brings a grimy sludge sound to the stage that works quite well for yours truly as a warm-up. vocalist/bassist Freek de Graaf manages to bring a good amount of variation in pitch in his growls, which is welcome, as it’s a common pitfall for many a grunter to just not have enough texture in the vocals. The band is clearly even warmer than the audience, which on the whole doesn’t seem to affect their performance too much. Next up is USA-based Pelican. Not exactly a name that needs a whole lot of introduction, since the ten or so years they’ve been around they’ve been steadily building an audience in the underground music scene. I find their music hard to stick a label on. Not that such is required, ofcourse. If one were to try, post-metal with stoner and doom influences (with no vocals) would probably be about as accurate as you can make it. Known for often long tracks with well-layered riffs, Pelican pushes the boundaries of what can of sound you can produce with two guitars, a bass and a drumkit. Songs off of well known records such as the phenomenal Ataraxia/Taraxis are very well received by the audience, with many a head rocking in time with the music. The room is packed to the brim by now. It smells like sweat and beer, both liquids being spilled in copious amounts. Interestingly, the band plays a number of songs from a record they are currently recording, due out around october this year. It’s been titled Forever Becoming. Some of the tracks might have been a work in progress, it’s hard to know, but I for one certainly liked what I heard. It seems Pelican is moving towards a bit more direct a sound. It’s a bit of a departure from their earlier style, but that’s a good thing in my opinion. You can’t keep making the same music and still have it be any good a decade or more later. (I name no names, but I’m sure you can think of half a dozen or more examples...) After Pelican’s electric performance, it’s time for a small breather and half a gallon of water. Up next is Torche, a much anticipated name going from the buzz around the room. Like Pelican, who played in Tilburg at Roadburn 2011, Torche has a history in this place, one of their earliest performances in Europe being at 2006’s Incubate. I’ll confess I was not terrible familiar with Torche before tonight. I’d heard a few tracks here and there, but I’d never really sat down and listened to their stuff. What better time to start doing that than at a live performance though! Torche is... explosive. If I had to stick one word on their sound, that’d be it. Explosive. Like a stick of dynamite straight to the cerebral cortex. They play loud enough to make Lemmy proud, though it’s almost a bit too much for me at this temperature. Uptempo, hypnotic riffs combine with clean and relatively high pitched vocals to make for a sweet stoner/rock experience. Another thing that really stood out for me was Torche’s drummer, Rick Smith. Boy, can this man bash some drums. His work stands out even more when contrasted against the more straightforward guitar and bass riffs. Speaking of bass, bassist Jonathan Nuñez also brings a ton of energy to the stage. The man jumps around a good deal center-stage, succeeding admirably at getting the crowd even more into the music. No mean feat at this temperature, certainly. All in all, it’s been an excellent musical evening. A few more reasons to go visit the local record store...
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Fehler Pelican Torche
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RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE 62 GhOST CULT #11 60
Death - Human
When this album was released in 1991 it was the first time really talented and great musicians played this kind of extreme music. Still today this is one of my favorite albums and everything is great, the songs, the musicianship and the overall vibe of the album. Sean Reinert’s drumming has influenced me immensely and he still is one of the best ever!
Cynic - Focus
Same thing here as with Human since both Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert play on both albums. This is still one of my all time favorite albums and the mix of fusion and metal has never been done this well ever since.
Dave Weckl - Master Plan
One of the first fusion albums I heard and I was blown away. I couldn’t understand that a drummer could get away with playing drum solos for a whole album, hahaha! Dave is playing furiously on this album and you can hear that he’s young and want to show all his capabilities, very inspiring!
at the gates - Slaughter Of The Soul
A classic album that I heard for the first time in late 1997 when we decided to start Darkane. This album had a huge impact on our debut album Rusted Angel and I still love this album.
Dark Angel Time Does Not Heal
As opposed to most others this is my favorite Dark Angel album. Most people hold Darkness Descends as their best album but the songwriting on ‘Time does not heal’ together with the fantastic guitar and drum work blew me away. This was the new breed of thrash and it also was an important influence on Darkane.
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