As the unrelenting march of the festival season continues it is impossible not to have sinewy tingles singing out their excitement at this time of year especially with the likes of Bloodstock still on the near horizon, though the loss of Hevyfest for this year dampens the atmosphere a little. Surrounding these occasions metal still continues to surprise, impress, and at times disappoint with its latest releases whilst keeping us on our toes with its latest twists and turns such as with Vikernes almost waxing lyrical about the French Police after his latest arrest, The Rolling Stone controversy, the first part of the Pelagial World Tour which sees The Ocean submerging the likes of North American, China, and Russia in their uniquely atmospheric and dramatic ingenuity, and the announcement of the Lamb Of God/Killswitch Engage tour even if their support Testament and Huntress is the stronger proposition for personal thrills.
The one question which still goes unanswered though is why some bands fade out songs on their releases as if they do not know how to end them or lacked the time or will to work one out. Ok it is just a personal annoyance one which niggles away yearly just like people saying “is it hot enough for you?” in the middle of a heatwave but one which should be addressed if only for the peace of needy appetites like mine.
Anyway rant over and on to more important matters and there is no chance of any fading away in the latest issue of Ghost Cult as we head into the heart of Download and Hellfest to bring the deepest incite and coverage of those major metal live storms, as well as gig reviews of the likes of Red Fang and Anathema. We also stand word to word with bands in revealing interviews with artists such as Amon Amarth, Tesseract, Kylesa, and Palms to name just a few. With reviews of plenty of the best major and underground releases, just who is our album of the month choice?; as well as another excellent ‘Top 5 Records that changed my life’ declaration, Ghost Cult 10 has all you need to enjoy your metal bound summer.
Raymond Westland Chief Editor
senior editors Keith Chachkes Fabiola Santini Ross Baker Filip Vuckovic
Content editors Angela Davey Pete Ringmaster Noel Oxford
designER Sara Teramo
Caitlin Smith, Sean Genovese, Jason Guest, John Toolan, Marcus J. West, Matt Hinch, Mat Davies, Jonathan Keane, Matthew Tilt, Sarah Worsley, Chris Tippell, Sean M. Palfrey, Sean McGeady, Christine Hager, Dan Swinhoe, Omar Cordy, Rei Nishimoto, Chris Ward, Matt Ford, Lynn Jordan, Leticia Mooney, Susanne Maathuis, Kaat van Doremalen, Lorraine Lysen, Jodie Mullen, Ian Girle Front Cover Photo - John McMurtrie
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ISSUE #10 CONTENTS
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
CHIMAIRA – CROWN OF PHANTOMS
BLACK STAR RIDERS
FREE FALL 24 TOMAHAWK
TRUE WIDOW 28
ALBUM REVIEWS 30
FESTIVAL REPORTS 42 48
DOWNLOAD (UK) HELLFEST
LIVE REVIEWS 54
ANATHEMA IN THE NETHERLANDS
RED FANG IN THE NETHERLANDS
NAILS IN MASSACHUSETTS
THY ART IS MURDER IN THE UK
SPECIAL FEATURES 62
TOP 5 RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE WITH NIKLAS KVARFORTH GUEST EDITORIAL BY
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ALBUM OF THE MONTH
C H I M A I R A
Cro wn Of Phantoms Words: Raymond Westland
Over the last few years, Chimaira have been through tons of upheaval. The band are no strangers to line-up changes throughout their existence, but this time around only singer Mark Hunter remained. The current lineup consists of (former) Daath, Dirge Within and Bleed The Sky members. Let’s see whether Chimaira 2.0 is able to keep the flame alive. The previous Chimaira record didn’t do much for me; it sounded rather bland and didn’t have any of the venom and inventiveness that made The Impossibility Of Reason, their self-titled album and Resurrection such memorable endeavours. Crown Of Phantoms, the band’s latest effort, is a return to form, but with a very different twist to it. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, with such a revised line-up. It took me some time to adjust my mindset and to appreciate the band’s new musical spin, but suddenly it clicked and I can safely say that Crown Of Phantoms is the band’s strongest work since Resurrection. In character Crown Of Phantoms reminds me of the infamous self titled album, in the sense that it doesn’t contain any outright hit songs and it really takes time before the record starts to grow on you. However, when you get to this point you start to realise that ‘Machine’,
‘No Mercy’, ‘Plastic Wonderland’ and ‘Kings Of The Shadow World’ are well-rounded and quite layered and they share the same kind of arcane charm as ‘The Venom Inside’, ‘Lazarus’, ‘Inside The Horror’ and ‘Bloodlust’. Emil Werstler (guitars) and Sean Zatorsky (keyboards/synths) are the tastemakers, adding lots of colour to the song material in the guitar and synth/keys departments, respectively. Mark Hunter is his aggressive self with his venomous screams and cutthroat lyrics, and the rest of the band are as solid in their performance as it gets. Austin D’Amond may not be as flashy as Andols Herrick or Kevin Talley, but he’s certainly a great drummer in his own right. Crown Of Phantoms may take some getting used to, but it’s a very strong and convincing release. Whether the fans will embrace the record depends on their willingness to let go of the past and giving this revamped Chimaira a second chance. As for me, the new album offers ample evidence that Mark Hunter and Co. are back for more, and that their future is bright once again.
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WITH LOKI’S GOOD GRACES
Words: Marcus J. West
With Deceiver Of The Gods melodic death metal outfit Amon Amarth once again prove to be one of the most consistent bands in metal today. Marcus J. West talked with guitarist Olavi Mikkonen (OM) and bassist Ted Lundström (TL) after delivering a blistering performance at the Download festival. They discussed the new album and the upcoming tour with Carcass among other topics. It’s great to have Amon Amarth back at Download: How did the show go for you? OM: thank you! I personally had a great time on stage today, even if because of some technical issues we could not play the whole set. Nevertheless, we had a massive audience and you know, it was fun to play ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’ live for the first time in front of the Download crowd. Overall I thought it was a great show. TL: It was great being able to bring the boat here, the production required to have it on stage is a huge one. I wish we could have played a longer set but we’ll be back! Is there any anticipation on your forthcoming tour? OM: Oh yeah, we have a really good tour lined up for the fall. We will headline the Defenders Of The Faith Tour which will also feature Carcass, Hell and Bleed From Within. We are really excited about that. With The Deceiver Of The Gods it’s clear that Amon Amarth is still going strong. Are you approaching the recording process more easily now, after so many years in the business? OM: For me recording The Deceiver Of The Gods felt very easy. I was very inspired. When we started talking about themes and lyric ideas, we realized we were all in the same page. It’s like growing vegetables if you think about it. As soon as you learn the tricks and you have a good season, it all happens very naturally. Which is exactly what happened to us. We had a good start in terms of songwriting and then everything came together. We knew that we had something special going on and I think it’s cool that we have been doing it for twenty years and that after nine albums, we are still very passionate about it. TL: You do not want to become the kind of band that can only play live songs from the first two albums. I think that we have really succeeded in keeping a high level of record making. With The Deceiver Of The Gods we also went for a new producer and a new studio, which gave us a very positive push forward. It’s great to always be able to start something new you know?
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With regard to the songwriting process, what inspired you the most in the making of The Deceiver Of The Gods? OM: I do not think that has been anything specific that kept us going you know? When we started writing we just tried to remain true to ourselves. For me personally, the fact that we decided to work with Andy Sneap triggered me to write even better songs, because we were going to present our material to a new guy, which was kind of exciting knowing that he worked with bands like Kreator and Accept. Without even knowing as soon as we entered the studio with Andy, I started making riffs that this Accept vibe.. We decided that, if we were going to come out with something different from the past and if we liked it, we were going to keep it. The results as a matter of fact were not typical Amon Amarth but we were very pleased about the final work. I think of ‘Father Of The Wolf’, probably the most heavy metal song that we have ever written. Five years ago we would have probably never dared to release a song like that. When we wrote it, it felt quite weird. As you mentioned Kreator and Accept, would you consider these two bands as two of the main influence on you as a guitarist? OM: Definitely Kreator, although Slayer will always be my favourite band and there are definitely lots of similarities between the two. But yes I have always liked Accept as well, and Judas Priest and Iron Maiden of course. And I am not just speaking for myself, we all come from a NWOBHM background combined with early thrash and death metal. The plans for us has always been to combine all these genres together.
“NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP US NOW"
The new albums feels less polished, more in-your-face if you will..
Time for the final question. Are you ready to conquer the world again with The Deceiver Of The Gods?
OM: We definitely also aimed to have a more aggressive sound with The Deceiver Of The Gods somehow, and I think that we have achieved that. TL: I think that in the past our sound was a bit too … round-ish, almost.. pop-ish without that hedge which is what we were looking for with The Deceiver Of The Gods. OM: We also wanted to experiment with bigger dynamics, we tried to separate all instruments so that each would have its own part and they would still all flowing together. This was probably the trickiest part of the recording process and I think that we made it happen in a very good way.
OM: Definitely, there is not a turning back for us. Nothing is going to stop us now, we are just going to go forward and crash! TL: We have just delivered our strongest album to date, we have all the opportunities in front of us, it’s going to be a good year for Amon Amarth.
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AN INFECTIOUS RESURRECTION Words: Raymond Westland
Photo: Alex Morgan
It’s often said that struggle and strife creates the best art and this rings especially true for Ohio’s favourite hybrid metal act, Chimaira. After a two year period of internal turmoil and continuous line-up changes the band is back with a brand new album Crown of Phantoms and are stronger than ever. Vocalist Mark Hunter discusses with Ghost Cult the emotional journey he’s embarked upon to be where he is now. Crown Of Phantoms is very strong album - does the overall quality validate the new line-up? I certainly hope it does, it was our goal. Crown Of Phantoms is the culmination of three years of going through tons of changes, harsh realities but also excitement. It’s something brand new and
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when you put all those things together you get Crown Of Phantoms as a result. These are exciting times for the band and it’s the polar opposite of where I was with the band two years ago. To get a sense of perspective, can you take us through the past two years? It was 2010 and we were going strong and we hadn’t had any hiccups in the line-up or anything. Resurrection and The Infection brought us some really good tours. The band was in a really good place. Some time in 2010 Jim (LaMarca), our former bass player, wanted to leave the group to spend more time with his family. He wanted to retire from being on the road all the time. That caused a domino effect with other band members following suit wanting
So where does Crown Of Phantoms fit in the overall Chimaira back catalogue? Do you think it will be one of those typical hate or love albums?
to settle down with their families as well. Some people didn’t see eye to eye on things anymore, the usual drama that accompanies a band, you know; basically getting sick of each other after spending an x amount of years together combined with family and a myriad of other things. One member after the other basically left. When we were devolving we were trying to evolve by putting new members in Chimaira and rebuild the band. When that was happening those new members brought new life to the band. When Rob (Arnold) and Matt (DeVries) were leaving as well I asked Austin (drummer), Sean (Z, electronics) and Emile (Werstler, guitar) whether we should continue with the band. We decided to go on and spent the last 1.5 years focusing and working our asses off in order to write a great album. We really took this seriously and we didn’t want to to have some unknown kids in the band. Every new member was carefully chosen for their love of the music and what the band stands for. As for me, I’m really having a great time now with these guys. With all the old members leaving a lot of people on the internet thought Chimaira was done for. Did you ever seriously considering pulling the plug on the band entirely? Many people on the internet thought we were done for. By the timing and the speed things were unravelling I had the luxury of not thinking rationally and I simply soldiered on. It was happening so fast and not thinking about quitting was a sort of defence in a way. I defended what I hold dear and what I wanted to fight for. Of course there were moments of insecurity and doubts. Luckily I had a good team and a good support system of friends and family around me telling me that I was crazy if I wanted to change the band name or quit altogether. They pointed out that bands like Megadeth and Black Sabbath went through countless lineup changes. Black Sabbath had a super successful era without Ozzy. Of course with Megadeth Rust In Peace was one of their best albums and it wasn’t recorded with the same line-up who did Peace Sells, which is another Megadeth classic. There are more examples of bands that went through major lineup changes and still had major success. Of course, to be in this situation is scary as hell.
The S/T is one of those hate or love albums in our catalogue. The Infection is another one. A lot of fans didn’t get the S/T album and our record label at the time didn’t know what to do with it as well. They yelled at us that the songs were too long. Next thing you know, Machine Head released The Blackening two years later, which had some really long songs. I guess we’re trailblazers in a way. At the time Roadrunner was used to three minute ‘Powertrip’-like songs. Here we are delivering songs like ‘Nothing Remains’, which is over six minutes long. They weren’t really happy. As an artist what I really like about our catalogue, including ‘The Infection’ and Age Of Hell, is that they represent a certain era in the band’s history and I don’t look back in anger or regret. I understand why some fans don’t like certain albums but those albums were necessary for growth and development. With the lessons learned from The Infection’and The Age of Hell I was able to forge Crown Of Phantoms. The Age Of Hell is a transitional album. The songs on it aren’t that bad, but the fire and the passion simply wasn’t there. It was more about holding on to something that was falling apart and recording those emotions. I think it’s still a decent metal album, but Crown Of Phantoms is really special to me, because of all the fire and passion. The Age Of Hell was basically me and Rob (Arnold) recording an album with a stand-in drummer. It isn’t a good representation of what we are all about. If fans had the chance to name an album which shouldn’t have the Chimaira mark on it, I’d suggest The Age Of Hell would be the appropriate album. In the biography it stated that the new album brings the essence of Chimaira into new uncharted territories. What’s the essence of Chimaira according to you? I think that we’ve been a band that over the past fourteen years encapsulates the best elements of heavy metal. In our music you can hear elements of death metal in one instant only to hear influences from classic thrash metal the next moment. Chimaira has always been a hybrid metal band and we’ll continue doing that. We’re a band that never quits, no matter the odds. If anything, that message is really clear at this time.
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Words: Raymond Westland
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For a long time Queensryche was a band in steady decline. Pretty much all the post Promised Land releases suffered in quality, with Dedicated To Chaos being especially lacklustre. Last year things came ahead with singer and defacto bandleader Geoff Tate being fired by the rest of the band. The remaining members recruited a new singer and they decided to soldier on under the Queensryche banner. Ghost Cult spoke with drummer Scott Rockenfield who didn’t mince words and who seems to be on a personal crusade to get the band back in the spotlights again... The new self-titled Queensryche album is the best album in years and it feels like a genuine band effort. How do you see things? That’s exactly what it is. Thank you for liking the album and we’re certainly proud of it. We’re feeling great about the music. A year ago things were very different, until we found Todd, our new vocalist. The whole year has been fantastic so far with sold out gigs around the world and when we started writing songs last Summer it turned out be a perfect situation for us. The chemistry we had was just so great. The new album is a great representation of how we feel Queensryche should sound like and what the fans expect from us. I think the new record fits somewhere between Empire and Promised Land. The album feels like a combination of the songwriting prowess of Empire and the dark and brooding atmosphere of The Promised Land… The Promised Land is one of my favourite QR records. We tried to recapture that energy we had in the Mindcrime to Promised Land timeframe and put that back in the new band. As you may know the last year has been quite a struggle for us with Geoff (Tate – former singer) and the music the band was making and our lack of excitement about it. We wanted to do something very different and Geoff didn’t want to do that. That’s why we feel so excited about the new record and we can’t wait to play the new material live to our fans. Todd La Torre turns out to be quite a revelation in the vocal department. How did you guys find him? We’ve been so fortunate to find Todd and that he found us. It’s been a perfect match together. What happened is that Michael Wilton (guitarist) met Todd at the NAMM convention in January 2012. None of us even heard of him before. What happened is that Michael and he became friends and they discussed doing a project together, something outside Queensryche. Micheal introduced him to Eddie (Jackson – bass player) and I soon thereafter. We talked about doing some shows together, because Queensryche wasn’t doing anything at the moment. We learned some old Queensryche songs from the Queen Of The Ryche EP and The Warning and so on and put together a live show consisting of the songs Geoff was never interested in playing live. We called ourselves Rising West and we played two shows in Seattle in June last year and they were so much fun and the fans loved it so much that we knew we had something good going on. Soon after that everything started to fall apart with Geoff and we had to make the decision to move on without him. It
was just perfect timing and Todd was the perfect guy to move on with, because he can sing the old stuff just great, the fans are loving it and we love playing the old material. It was fate that we meet each other. Todd is just walking around happy all the time. Producer James “Jimbo” Barton also played a pivotal role in recapturing that old energy again. How did he go about things? I’m so glad that we decided to work with him again. The relation we had with him when we recorded Operation Mindcrime, Empire and The Promised Land was just fantastic. He is a great guy to work with, he knows his and he loves our music. He had a great set of ideas about our music and he’s almost like a sixth band member when we work with him. It was just magical to work with him again. He gave us the greatest sounds on the record and it works very well with our music. Besides being a great studio engineer he also has tons of creative ideas to offer, in short all the hallmarks of a great producer. In a way he’s becoming his own rock star now, because all the fans are talking about him right now and they’re so happy he’s involved again. He’s on cloud nine now, ha-ha. Getting back to the struggle you guys had with Tate, lots of things have been said back and forth in the media. One person didn’t voice his opinion on the current situation and that’s Chris DeGarmo... Listen, Chris is a great person and he’s still very close with us and we’re still great friends. He totally supports us in what we’re doing with the band and he’s very happy for us that we moved on. That’s the best I can give you on Chris. Other than that he chooses to be quiet. He’s a busy guy and he knows and feels that we’re doing the right thing. That’s the most important and like I said, we’re still great friends. So when did you really started to sense things were starting to unravel when Geoff Tate was still in the band? It’s been quite a while back to be honest. It’s been like 10 years. Things were starting to become uncomfortable. It was a slow process, but over time it became apparent that Michael, Eddie, and I were drifting apart from Geoff, especially when it came down to the music and the general direction of Queensryche. Why we didn’t take charge earlier was because the whole process was like a long and painful divorce. You know that things aren’t going right, but you hang in there, hoping things would turn around. You keep doing you best at it, but things kept getting worse and worse. It got to the point that we had to move out without Geoff. That point was the infamous spit incident in Brazil. Finally, do you keep tabs of what’s going on with the “other” Queensryche? To be honest, I don’t. It’s just not important to us. We don’t really acknowledge it and nor we don’t have to, because we have so much going on. We choose to focus on the all the positive things that has befallen our band so far. We feel that we’re doing what Queensryche should be doing for a long time and the support from our fans around the world is just astonishing. We’re just moving on.
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ALTERED STATES TesseracT bass player Amos isn’t the typical guy in a metal band. Articulate and quick-witted but giving carefully considered answers he is the unofficial spokesman of one of British metal’s most exciting bands. His answers are delivered eloquently without the “um’s” and “ah’s” of so many musicians and while completely calm Williams’s dedication to his craft is unwavering. Involved with everything the band does creatively and business wise handling visa applications and press commitments the bass player is candid and speaks with the self-assurance that comes when your band has written one of the most important releases in the last ten years for British metal. Giving us his thoughts on the band’s new album Altered State, new singer the gifted young Brighton based Ashe O’Hara and new beginnings for a greatly inventive and passionate group. You have had several lineup changes regarding vocalists. Did you ever doubt you would find the right person? Not really. We were going through lots of troubles with management and things didn’t work out with Elliot (Coleman, previous vocalist) so we had a year or two worth of problems. It seemed like the sky wasn’t going to get any brighter at one point but we had already been through this when Dan Tompkins replaced Abi Obasanya who was a great vocalist himself. Abi was very soulful like Seal! We knew there would be someone out there for us as we have worked with great singers before and managed to find someone else. The people in TesseracT are very flexible. We are keen to work to our strengths but we want to experiment. The route that Altered State has taken us was unexpected but it worked. Although we were downtrodden we knew we would find the right person artistically and personality wise too. When was it you realised that Ashe O’Hara was the right man to be your new vocalist? Ashe is just being himself. We have struck gold with him. For me personally when I checked out the E.P. he had written with his band Voices From The Fuselage. I knew I wanted to work with this guy as
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Words: Ross Baker
a producer or musician within twenty seconds of hearing his voice! It took us a long time for us to confirm that we were working with him because we had experienced so many issues with vocalists. Not because we were concerned about his ability but because we wanted to make sure he was the right person as well. When he returned the demo for “Nocturne” we giggled with glee as we knew this was going to work perfectly. What was it like writing Altered State when you didn’t have a definite vocalist at the time? Did it put pressure on you during the writing process? The music in TesseracT is written separately from the vocals. We leave space for them but it needs to be interesting for us with or without vocals. When we added the vocals this time we didn’t need to add many new parts instrumentally after we had done the vocals as we spent a lot of time on making powerful music first before Ashe added his parts. He likes to add parts that make the song sound good. He has a talent for helping the instruments shine as well as a great singing voice. What made you choose to drop the screaming vocals? It was personal preference. As long as TesseracT has been going we have talked about not needing the screaming vocals. It almost sounded monotonous even for some of our favourite bands like Meshuggah. We were more interested in the music rather than the vocals. Not to take anything away from Jens (Kidman, Meshuggah vocalist) he adds a layer to their music which is very powerful but personally we prefer clean vocals. We love melody and love classic rock and music before the time of screamed vocals. When we were a new band we felt the pressure to include screaming vocals to be accepted. Now we are somewhat established we felt it was time to move away from that. I did a lot of the heavy vocals when Dan was in the band and when we did shows and I would perform them it didn’t feel right. We toured with bands like Protest The Hero and Devin Townsend and when they do it sounds awesome but it didn’t feel right for us. That being said if we did write a new song and it felt right we may use screams.
Altered State is about the transformation of matter and change. What makes this subject so important for you? This album is about change. The changes the band has been put through in the last couple of years and changes on a global scale. We have been through tumultuous change. Our last two releases have been about answering the reaction the public have given us. The EP Perspective was us expressing how we felt that this was music and it doesn’t matter how much it moves you. Altered State was us reassuring people saying “yes our band has changed but we are still TesseracT” and we wanted people to realise what we represent. It is also about the fact that energy never just disappears it changes and we wanted to see how that happens on a microscopic level over an eternal timescale. ‘Of Matter’ and ‘Of Reality’ come from seeing how matter changes. What bands like us write tend to focus on is science and physics and looking to the future. Songs like ‘Singularity’ focus on how these things affect the solar system. This is why the album finished on a track called ‘Embers’ because the fact is that the universe will one day fade away to a cold, dark place. Our art just reflects our reality.
Ashe is still a member of Voice From The Fuselage. Do you see the music he makes elsewhere as baring an influence on his work with you guys? Does it have an impact on your schedule rehearsing and touring? Ashe is very keen on doing Voices From The Fuselage and we won’t stand in his way. The band members are all at university at the moment so it is not their main focus. We will have to wait and see if there are problems but we will always try to accommodate what he is doing because this is where he comes from. We would never ask him to leave his band. That would be an impossible choice because it is very much his baby. I can’t see it causing so much problems because the day-to-day running of the band isn’t taken care of us all so he will have time to do his thing. What are your Future plans following this touring cycle? We have confirmed a U.K. tour with a very compatible band which both sets of fans will love. We will also be visiting Russia and the U.S. Our biggest market is the U.S. but we want to be bigger in the U.K. We are very grateful for the response we have had so far and can’t wait to see all our fans on tour.
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PAINTING THE SKY BLACK
Words: Ross Baker
“I grew up with Pantera, Sepultura, Death and Entombed. I started playing at nine years old and practiced playing my saxophone with metal albums!” Shining saxophonist, guitarist, vocalist and composer, Jørgen Munkeby, is clearly as proud of his metal roots as well as his jazz heritage. Ghost Cult caught up with the blackjazz industro freak to discuss the latest album and all things related.
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The new album One One One attempts to condense all the musical genres Shining employs while condensing them into a more direct song based format; a series of “hits” if you like. How did you set about achieving this? When I said I wanted to create a set of hits we are not talking about hits in the way Nicki Minaj has them! We just wanted more concrete song structures and a greater focus on the vocals. Our previous music has been composed in a more classical fashion without much repetition. What was different about recording One One One than the previous opus Black Jazz? Black Jazz was a conceptual album with long songs and a title taken from Venom’s Black Metal and Ornette Coleman’s record Free Jazz. This was the way we set out to define our own style of music; I am really proud of those songs but you certainly wouldn’t have them on your IPod playlist. When starting One One One we wanted to take the more straight forward songs from Black Jazz - ‘The Madness and The Damage Done’ and ‘Fisheye’ so we used them as a starting point for writing shorter more straight forward songs. I wanted to focus on making each individual song standout more while retaining the energy of the band and having an album that would flow well as a whole. I know our music can be hard to absorb but I would rather the listener pressed pause, took a break and came back to it than writing more simplistic music which does not excite me! Improvisation is a big part of jazz music. You talk about using more standard structures on One One One and the Live Black Jazz record sees a lot of improvisation. Will you confine improvisation exclusively to the live arena? We have actually made alternative endings for at least five songs from One One One for live use. We will continue to improve and will adapt the new songs to the live setting. As far as live albums go I’m not sure when we will do another one, because they are expensive to make, and a lot of live albums are just used as bonus CDs or cheap shit produced by bands fulfilling a contract with their label as a gap between studio albums. I have no interest in that I want to make great stuff. We have no interest in just playing a four minute song, talking, and then playing another; we will tie them together. It is important to retain the energy level. You wrote an article recently, regarding the evolution of music, where you said that “Today’s extreme music is tomorrow’s background music”. How important is it for you that Shining is considered to be a cutting edge act that continues to push the boundaries of musical genres? It’s not important in itself, what is important is that I feel happy and confident with the music we are making. It felt right to be extreme and aggressive on Black Jazz’ and this time it felt right to produce songs which were fun to play. I just focus on the music I am writing not how it will be perceived. You have combined jazz, prog, metal and industrial music in your work. Are there any boundaries that Shining will not cross?
There really are no rules. The only consideration is how can we make our music better? There are no genre barriers. We had an opera singer on one of our earlier albums and we are constantly open to change. What we have done lately is we have leaned towards that of a metal band. We haven’t used melatrons or strings and timpani drums but you never know what we will do in the future. I could have chosen to change the band name when we started writing Black Jazz as the music was very different but I chose to keep it, as Shining has evolved all on its own while retaining an experimental spirit. Indeed it was that innovation which drew you to working with Black Metal musicians such as Enslaved and Ihsahn. What made you want to work with these artists in particular? After studying contemporary jazz music for years and playing the music of John Coltrane and artists like that, I wanted to produce music that belonged to my generation and country. The jazz music I was playing belonged to black American jazz musicians and I wanted to produce something that belonged to my generation. I returned to my old metal albums which reignited my love for rock and metal and I found new stuff like Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan. That led to Ihsahn and Enslaved getting in touch. They saw something in Shining that interested them and it really helped us with getting on the track that led us to Black Jazz. It opened my eyes to how the Saxophone could be used in heavy music. Working with Ihsahn really helped me because I was working with him around the same time I was recording Black Jazz. Listening to metal again and being inspired by it felt like coming home! What do you look for in a musical collaborator and who would you like to work with in the future? We don’t have any collaborations planned at the moment but there are a lot of musicians I admire and would like to work with. Off the top of my head, Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah, Skrillex! Skrillex has defined dubstep. We have a remix compilation where fans are rearranging the track ‘I Won’t Forget’ and there have been a lot of dubstep style entries. What’s great about dubstep is it sounds really aggressive which is what I like about it. You can hear that he comes from a rock background when he makes music too! You haven’t booked many festivals for this year. What are your touring plans? The record is out just before summer, so we are doing Festivals in Norway with European festivals next year. We will be touring the U.K. and Europe October/November time and we will be touring the U.S. after that. There is a lot of interest in the U.S. considering how little we have toured there; we have only done ten American shows. We want to get over there this fall and spring next year as well. That’s the plan. We can play jazz festivals or metal festivals. In Norway we do a lot of different stuff so it is important to mix it up. The new generation of music listeners don’t care about genre. They want to listen to Lady Gaga then The Dillinger Escape Plan. That’s the future of music. I spent the whole of last year in the studio and I am now in the mood for playing live. I hope people take the time to check us out.
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LEARN TO CONTROL THE BEAST Words: Keith Chachkes
Existing at the often strange nexus between prog, doom, punk and psychedelic metal, the band Kylesa has been forging a truly singular path for well over a decade. They seem unconcerned with selling out or breaking with the ‘formula’ that made them special in the first place. Still, they change via growth and taking risks, not by stasis. Upon the release of the stellar new album Ultraviolet (Season of Mist), Ghost Cult chatted with Philip Cope, to chat about everything Kylesa. How was making Ultraviolet a different experience than Spiral Shadow? It was a little different than Spiral Shadow. Most of that record was written over a few months period of time, mostly focused on it, right before the recording of it. Ultraviolet was written off and on, over a couple of years. The recording process was a little bit longer. We had a lot of time to get the sounds we are looking for. We were not quite happy in the past; especially experimenting with getting the drum sounds right, getting them how we wanted them. Other than that, it was kind of the same way we always do. We try to do our best. Since Eric and Chase have come into the band, did that affect the song writing dynamic in any way? Chase didn’t actually play on the record or write any songs for Ultraviolet, since he just joined up with us. We basically all shared the bass duties. Eric did probably the most. Laura did a couple, I did one and Jay (Matheson), who works at Jam Room, did one. With Carl, Laura and I being the main songwriters, there wasn’t really much of a difference or anything too new coming in to the process. The three of us have worked together for a long time. One of the biggest differences was that Eric started out with a couple of songs on this album. He’d come in once before with one on Static Tensions. But this time he had a few written already for Ultraviolet. Was there a conscious effort to make some of the songs rougher and more multi-layered than Spiral Shadow? Well, one of the things we did was to go back to one of our lower tunings. We decided against using that for Spiral Shadow and for this album, we decided to bring it back on a few of songs. So that is probably where some of the extra heaviness comes from, going back
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to those super-low tunings. As far as layers go... I think that’s just learning over time. We are learning to pull that stuff off better, and kind of figuring it out as we go. Have you and Laura worked hard at trying to evolve more as vocalists? It’s just kind of natural. There may be a little more singing on this album than the others. It’s just us getting more comfortable and doing it better. And for me: working at recording it better too! That is just us working together for a long period of time. We are just using our strengths. And for us it’s just us trying to expand on what we have been doing. I’m stoked to hear that you think it works! Is there a comfort level for you and the band, in keeping the production duties in house with you? I think it makes sense. We’ve never used outside people before. It just seems to be the way it works. That doesn’t mean that someday we won’t go with someone else and venture into new territory. But for now it’s working, and we are sticking with it. I am a fan of some of your other production work, such as with Black Tusk and the Irata EP. Do you think you will produce more albums in the future? The band is first and foremost for me. When I’m needed by the band, that’s where my time goes. If we have any downtime, I love working with other bands. I’d love to do it more, but it really depends on downtime, which I don’t have much of. If I have time open, and there are bands that want to work with me, I’m into it. It’s really kind of random. Going forward in the future, I’d love to do it more. Right now, I’m kind of happy with the mix. I could see me getting burned out if I did that all the time. But it’s really fun for me to work with other bands, outside of my own. I hear a lot of your Theremin work coming back on Ultraviolet. Can you practice the Theremin or is it a purely improvisational instrument for you? It’s all over the place on this album. That’s how I like it! You can definitely practice it, but it takes a lot of practice to get it right. What I
Photo: Geoff Johnson have figured out, over time, trying to do it live, to play it properly, you have to have the proper space. From night to night, I may not know in advance how much space I’m going to have before the show. I’ve had to learn how to control some of those more random aspects of it, and try to learn to control the beast. It actually makes it kind of fun, because sometimes I don’t have any idea what it’s going to do. I always hope it makes sense, and doesn’t sound too weird. But when I’m in the studio, I have a lot more control over it, and I can do exactly what I want with it.
We’ve always split the keyboards work up live. Actually right now I am not playing any keyboards live. Chase is handling some of it. Carl is handling some of it. But things change up all the time, so you never know.
Will you be playing more keyboards live with the new configuration of the band?
I’m sure eventually we will. Both Laura and I both have a huge list of songs we’d like to cover. Eventually there will be another, but when at this point, I don’t know.
I really love the covers the band has done, such as Pink Floyd’s ‘Set The Controls For the Heart of The Sun’ that showed up on the From The Vault collection. Any chance the band will play more covers live, or on record in the future?
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PALMS Photo: Travis Shinn
INTROSPECTIVE ABANDON Words: Keith Chachkes
One of the most anticipated albums of this years is the collaboration between members of ISIS and Chino Moreno of Deftones, forming the group Palms. Their self-titled debut is out on Ipecac records and Bryant Clifford Meyer (guitars, keyboards), Jeff Caxide (bass, keyboards), Aaron Harris (drums, electronics), continued more their work together from their classic run from one of post-metalâ€™s most celebrated bands. The album is as good as advertised and Ghost Cult caught up with Cliff Meyer to learn how this band came together, how the album was made and what the future holds for them.
seemed like we took a long time to figure out if we were going to do a whole new band or something else. It just took time to do its work and it probably was a year, year and a half later and we had a handful of songs. And they sounded pretty good, or we thought they did. We just kind of went from there. It was a pretty organic situation. Once we had some songs, we were trying to figure out who we could get to sing, and Aaron knew Chino from before. He had been drum tech-ing for Deftones and he had gotten to know Chino a little bit. He played Chino the songs and he dug them. And we ended up finishing the record together. It ended up pretty cool.
How did the band come together?
Was it a foregone conclusion that some of the ISIS guys would come together and make music again?
Well the three of us, Jeff, Aaron and myself obviously, just after ISIS ended and everything, Mike moved and Aaron moved. We still have the room at the practice space. We were figuring out what we were going to do. Me and Aaron had talked about still working together. It
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I wouldnâ€™t say it was a foregone conclusion. Nobody ever talked about it or anything. Especially Aaron, Me and Jeff too, had a really easy time making music together. I knew we would still play, whether
we recorded him, maybe a few months later, like six months later it was nearly done. I wouldn’t say he worked on it with us really, but he definitely heard his ideas come through and you can hear ours after he came in. It was more of a together writing experience than you might think. He did a great job of adding stuff. It all worked out. And then once he added stuff, we added stuff on top of that. It was a pretty communal writing process. Is it fair to call Palms a super group? Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t think so. (laughs) A super group is like that Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl thing something like that. And we are certainly not the Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl thing. It’s nice that people are saying nice things about us. We’ve been extremely fortunate, but we’ve been very appreciative of everything that has come our way. There seems to be a cinematic element to the music like a score. Is it a concept album? Not anymore than the four of us that wrote it, worked on all the music. We never discussed a concept for the record. Even after the fact when it was all done, we never sat down and discussed that. Maybe sometime down the road we’ll do another one of these, and we’ll think about that idea. I think we just wanted to write some interesting songs and see what happened. Since you all have done production work, what was the vibe like for the production end of things?
it would be a band or who knows what it would come out to be. It’d be silly to not play together. We’re all still pretty good friends and everything. It was a pretty natural thing for us. The three of us especially. Even when ISIS was still around, the three of us played together more than anyone else and wrote tons and tons and tons of stuff together. I was glad we didn’t have to go through all that bullshit. Once everything was sorted out, the music part came, not easy, but, we appreciate that it’s good. I saw that the recording spanned over a year. How did the writing and recording come together once Chino joined? Chino came in... we would demo stuff at the practice space all the time. So we had already had demos to send him. Deftones tour constantly, so he was working on stuff on the road. We went in and recorded all the songs record last February or March at a real studio. But we knew he already had some ideas to add in. Once
Aaron and I have both studied a lot of stuff to learn how to do what we are doing. Neither of us is at the level of Joe Barresi or anyone. We did okay. Honestly, Aaron did most of the work, recording and mixing most of the stuff. I recorded most of my parts. Then Joe was nice enough to let us record the basic drum tracks at his studio, on tape which added a nice quality to the record I think. It made it sound amazing. Once you get that drum sound down, oh it was so natural and great. It has a great 70s drum sound, really seedy. It was great to have Joe let us do that. Obviously we know what we are doing enough, that we could pull this off. I don’t know if we’ll do it that way again. Maybe next time we’ll get someone else to do it. It was kind of a challenge to do it ourselves. I think we are all pretty surprised about how it turned out. What other musical or art projects are you working on that we can look out for? I’m always working on something or other. I do this kind of weird, synthy, Tangerine Dream kind of heavy music. I always have little electronic music albums coming out. I have a new cassette coming out VCO Label, from Steve Moore of Zombi’s label. It’s cool to have it coming out on there; I usually put these things out by myself, so it’s nice to have someone else. There’s always something going on, no doubt.
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PRAGMATIC PROFESSIONALS Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Black Star Riders has made one of the best pure rock `n roll albums in a long, long time with All Hell Breaks Loose (Nuclear Blast). Made up of the most recent lineup of Thin Lizzy, the band opted to create a new band identity to move forward with new music, while acknowledging the history of the players and the sounds they created. We caught up with drummer Jimmy DeGrasso to talk about joining the band, the changes the band has undergone and the making of the album among several topics. Was it easy to come in to a situation where you had some history with some of the guys, already, as opposed to a hired gun situation? There is a reason why there’s a handful of guys who continuously work. They bring their A-game, they have a good attitude, they want to work, they have a sense of humor and they love to tour. If you were gonna get a new guitar player you say ‘Who can I think of who is going to be fun to ride on a bus with and tour the world for the next eight months? Who is going to be fun to hang out with on days off? Who is going to be a pain in the ass? Instead of wondering if that guy was in Guitar Player last month? Who gives a shit? You have to find the guy who is fun to hang out with and who brings in a positive vibe and is just fun to hang out with. How much of All Hell Breaks Loose was written when you joined the band? The bulk of it was done. I started getting some demos right away. They had some stuff demoed with Brian. They literally had some really rough demos on acoustic guitars, done with tape recorders. They sent it over and I was just sifting through it. The funniest thing is the single ‘Bound For Glory’ was the most undone demo we had done. Even in L.A. as late as January 4th, the song was not done. Damon came in and said he had this riff he was messing with and didn’t know how it was gonna work out. We just started working on a chorus for it. And Ricky had some lyrics sketched out, for the most part, but it was very rough. Literally we wrote that in like a day! (laughs) And then it became the first single! It’s really interesting how they had some song ideas that they were sitting on for two years that didn’t make the record, and this song was written in a day and became the first single. You never can tell. That is why you always keep writing, right up until you go into the studio to record your album. What was it like to work with Kevin Shirley? I’ve heard he can be pretty funny and eccentric.
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Kevin is great. He’s really low key. I had heard a lot of that stuff too, so I was really excited to work with him. The thing about Kevin is he really gets music and the heritage of it. He understands the modern sounds too and the vintage sounds. He really knows the sound of things, going back from the 50s and 60s. He is not one of these producers who takes a band and tries to shape and remold them to what he wants to do. But I think he is really great at getting the best sound out of a band. He works really fast and is just really fun. Kevin is a great musician himself. I don’t think we ever had a bad day. We recorded in what... two and a half weeks and mixed
in another week? When you make a record you sometimes have many moments where you… you always have rough spots making records. There is always a moment making a record where people don’t agree, and don’t get along, and there is some kind of pissing match. And with this one, we had none of that, it was great. I hope we can do the next one with him. I thought he was great! So the next BSR record is already being planned? Oh sure! As we were finishing the record, we were already talking about when we will do the next record next year, and even how we will do the next one. I’d like to do it even faster, if possible. In the old days you would go in at nine, ten in the morning and go all night. That was the norm. And with us we’d go in at 12 noon and finish a five. We did even more work, because we were used to working all day. And I’m the kind of guy who can go all day and night, likes to keep working. I want to stay in there. We just kind of had fun and it just kind of happened. The whole thing was positive and I hope we can do the next one with him, with all the stuff we both have coming
up. I’d like to get in there next year and make a new record really quick. There is all sorts of chatter going on about what we are going to do next, so we’ll see what happens. What do you guys have lined up for touring? Plans are open right now. We’re heading over to Europe in a couple of days, the big festivals. We are hitting Europe really hard beginning in October. We have offers in for January and February of next year, have a headline tour booked for October in Europe, and tickets are on sale for that now. We’re gonna wait and see for the next few months. We’re getting the record out now. I wish we could have gotten it out in February, but it is what it is. And as far as the set list, I was just talking this over with Ricky last night, and I think it’s gonna be 50/50. And the record is so good; I think it should continue to be 50/50. BSR-Thin Lizzy, BSR- BSR-Thin Lizzy-Thin Lizzy-BSR. I have a feeling what is going to happen, if we don’t get on a package tour for the fall in the states, we’ll just do our own headline tour in House of Blues type of places.
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You guys have this carefree quality about you and that translates really well on stage! Despite being one of the opening bands at the Download festival, Sweden-based rock band Free Fall really brought the roof down. Marcus J. West had a friendly chat with singer Kim Fransson about playing on a large festival like Download, black metal and whole plethora of other subjects, Welcome to Download 2013, you must have felt quite honoured to be one of the first crowd-warmer bands of the festival. Yeah, it was great! We found out that we were scheduled to play quite early on Friday and we didn’t know if there were going to be a lot of people or just ten, we were a bit worried about that . But we got very positively surprised when we saw we had such a big audience showing up! The tent was packed and what an awesome audience we had, it was fantastic! I could see people in the front row singing along. Thank you UK. Free Fall was really well received by the Download crowd. What makes your band stand out? I do not think that there is anything missing from other bands, what we have is pure spontaneity which I think this is what appeals to our audience. We are groovier perhaps, compared to other bands playing some similar sort of music as we swing in a different way. You can tell that we are influenced by many bands from the seventies, like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. There is also a lot of soul in our music. The definition of freedom rock comes from the fact that we were all playing in different bands before we came together and formed Free Fall, so we knew everything we were tired of and the type of music that we did not want to play any longer. This was a very clear starting point for us, we decided to go for this kind of artistic freedom, so that we all feel that we do exactly what we want to do. This is very important for us, more important that getting big and going somewhere.
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Thank you, I am very pleased you feel this way because it means that what we play is working! There is a lot of jamming going on in our songs, people get happy as it’s still quite heavy music but with lots of positive vibe to it. Sweden is known for its share of black metal bands, like Marduk, Dark Funeral and Watain to name a few. Did you intentionally stay away from bands like that? All the friends I grew up with were into black metal. It was great but somehow I personally felt more comfortable with the rock from the sixties and the seventies. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, something that just simply happens, choosing the kind of music one decide to play. I have always loved Led Zeppelin but also The Who: I definitely realized that the guys that were playing black metal were going a great job but I just could not do it, it has never been for me. I listen to the bands you mentioned but I could never perform that kind of music, it’s not for me. Did you ever imagine playing on such a large festival like Download? I remember when it was called Monsters Of Rock and I have always thought it would be a very cool festival to play at, from the crazy video clips I had seen. Playing here at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage was perfect for us, its not too big, its not too small. I do not think we are good for venues that are too small, we play too loud!
Words: Marcus J. West
Were you pleased with your recent European tour? Yeah, we have just come back, we played in Germany, Austria, Holland, Switzerland… everywhere when we were doing the soundcheck, we were told to turn it down. But then at the end of each show, even the sound technicians were coming to us yelling: great sound, great show! So all of the sudden it wasn’t so loud (laughs!). We always turn the volume up a bit at each song and it’s fine. Free Fall is for sure the loudest band I have been into. It wouldn’t probably work if we had additional guitars and keyboards, but with only three instruments and the vocals, you can hear everything. It’s fantastic for me to stand up on stage as I get the power and the volume from the instruments.
One last question before you go. Are you staying at Download for the whole weekend to enjoy some of the bands as a fan? Unfortunately we are leaving very early tomorrow morning, too bad we are missing Iron Maiden. And another band from Sweden that are really great, Graveyard.
Power And Volume was released last February. Four months into its release, do you feel you have achieved the results you wanted to?
Photo: Fabiola Santini
We think so yes, all the songs of the album are great to play live because of the live feeling that each tracks has, given that we all played them live in the studio. The audience get the songs even more when we play them on stage. We were also very pleased with the reviews we received from different journalists all over Europe.
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Trevor Dunn is not just one of the best bassists ever to be associated with heavy music, but in the world. His long resume of accomplishments alone would more than fill this space and he is still carving out new sonic territory all the time. He is most known in popular circles through his long association with Mike Patton as a member of Mr. Bungle and now in Tomahawk. Oddfellows (Ipecac) came out in January, and Tomahawk is hitting the road again so this was a good time to chat with Trevor and find out all about the band and his path as an artist. Trevor great to speak to you! How are you doing today? I’m good, I’m alright. It’s been a nice easy day. I’ve been staying in. Actually this whole weekend has been great. I haven’t had much do to. I’m chilling at home and I’ve been listening to some music, studying some string quartet music. I am actually planning on writing something for a string quartet later this year so I have studying some Bartok, and Schnittke and what else, late (era) Beethoven, and others. Just now I was looking at the score for Bartok’s 3rd for String quartet. It’s got some great stuff. A friend of mine recommended it. . Tomahawk is about to hit the road with a short run of special US dates followed by a European tour. What can fans expect when they come out to see the Tomahawk show? Our shows are a mix of all the records. Of course there is only one that I’m one, the most recent. But we are also doing stuff from the first one, Mit Gas and Anonymous. It’s a mixed bag from all of the records. Personally for me being the new guy in the band, it all works well for me and it feels very complementary. Do you still feel like the new guy in the band? Not really since I have been playing in bands with Mike Patton for thirty years! (laughs) We’ve spent enough time together now that I feel like a part of the band. Of course there are always stories that come up with the old bass player. There’s not a lot of bands that I play in that are like that, where I stand in the place of someone else. Either way, whether I had to do that or not it’s cool with me. Do you feel pressured to stay faithful to the old recordings or do you have the latitude to add what you want? Well they certainly give me the latitude. Ultimately it’s Duane’s baby. It’s Duane and Mike’s project. Duane writes the bass lines, pretty much. So I try to do them justice. When it came time to record them, I was able to add my own nuances to whatever, and Duane is totally
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cool with that. And live, I can get away with all kinds of stuff live. (laughs) We’re all out there trying to create a good show and play the songs. I’m obviously not gonna take it too far ‘out’. Even though the band just finished a small stretch of touring, is it tough to get ready for a tour with a band like Tomahawk that has long periods of inactivity? It’s a tough gig. Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. All the touring we have done recently has been really sporadic. We did a short run last October. We did the south. And then in February we did the West Coast and Australia. I’ve been touring with other bands in between. In terms of my chops and the other side of it, compared to some of my other gigs, Tomahawk is a piece of cake. Our first show in Boston on this run will be our first show in maybe a month and a half. I’m sure we’ll rehearse the difficult songs at sound check and I will give them a listen on the plane on my iPod and make sure I still have everything memorized, which I’m sure I do. It’s not like some other bands I am in, where I have to do a lot of homework. It’s actually kind of a breath of fresh air for me. How did you all work together as a production team? It’s kind of just a matter of people throwing out their opinions and then seeing what sticks and what doesn’t. If someone has aesthetically really strong opinion about something and everyone else disagrees about it, we might compromise if they other guy feels so strongly about it. If someone has a strong opinion based on production or the songwriting, then you know that is enough to make it valid. Again, with rock music like this, there is a given about how the mix should sound, or just some common knowledge or unwritten rules based on how it was written, or something else we feel is important. There were no big battles. When Duane and I mixed the album in Nashville, Patton was in California. So there were a lot of mixes sent back and forth. It probably would have been easier and faster if we were in the same place. But other than that it was pretty easy. Do you think the public’s taste has caught up to Tomahawk a little?
Words: Keith Chachkes
It’s hard to say because obviously, there is a lot of crap out there. Most popular music is really crap. It’s funny because I had this similar thought then Bjork became popular. I was like ‘Wow! She’s really weird and she’s popular. People are getting there for something or she’s tapping into something accessible and its still being able to be weird. And this was years ago. Personally, Tomahawk is not that weird of a band, but maybe I have a skewed sense about these things. This is just the most straight forward thing that I do musically. It’s got everything that accessible music has: melodies, it has beats, and doesn’t go on forever. That could be a part of it. Then on the other hand, you look at a band like Tool, which I’m not a fan of, but they are super popular and it is almost like prog-rock. There is definitely no accounting for taste. I can never explain any of it. (laughs)
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INTERVIEW that it was a first for us, and although some people may not hear it we like taking on new first in the studio. We might be doing these records in the same building with the same man behind the knobs, but each one has been an entirely unique experience. Has the feedback from the fans/critics so far been positive? I believe so. Personally I thought HW:R was an odd choice for the first “single” if you will, but people at the shows all seemed to really dig it. I don’t think it’s a bad song at all! It’s been a blast playing live so far. The reason I say that is due to the fact it’s one of the songs I mentioned earlier. It came later in the recording process and is one of the songs that really came together there. “Stonegaze” outfit True Widow released a very intriguing album in the form of Circumambulation. Ghost Cult caught up with drummer Slim to probe his mind on the new album, touring with Baroness, being signed to Relapse, and much more. How did the tour with Baroness go? It was great to see them back kicking ass! Our run with them was short but very sweet. They were filling places up every night and you could tell the fans had an extra appreciation for them after everything that’s happened. On our end...it was nice to knock the dust off the gear and find a groove with the new songs live. Are you pleased with the results of the new album? How was the recording experience? As far as I know everyone involved is pleased with the outcome. Being a fan first I’m really excited to get it out! There’s stuff that still hits close to our sound(s) but we took a little time for writing in the studio this go round, which was a first, and I like the results. It influenced structures than sounds, but still it was a nice way to change up the process a bit. All three records have been done with Matt Pence at his Argyle, TX studio, Echo Lab. It’s a place we love and all have the upmost respect for Matt in general. Specifically the way he interprets our sounds in the control room. He’s an auditory alchemist! What’s the writing process like for three of you? Either Dan/Nicole show up with some riffs and/or a partial song and we jam. It’s always been pretty effortless for the most part and usually when something doesn’t click early on it’s put out to pasture. The other half of the time songs come together from us getting together for a little “pre sesh” and some jam time. Those tend to be some of the heavier/groovier jams. We’ve never been big on practicing stuff. It sort of kills it once you’re on tour. No need to bleed every song dry, so when we find the time and together it’s more about new riffs, sounds, and what not. How would you say it’s different from the previous efforts? Setting aside time for some writing was probably the biggest difference. That’s not to say it drastically changed the outcome. Just
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Your previous albums, As High As the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth, garnered a lot of attention, was there any pressure with the follow up? Nope. Only on ourselves to come up with another batch of songs we would enjoy as much as the last. We’ve never felt pressure from outside sources. At least not as far as our music/vision goes. Circumambulation is “the act of moving around a sacred object.” Is this sort of religious aura the feeling you’re trying to replicate on the album? Album titles have always come very late in the process. It took us forever to come up with a title for our self-titled release. Somehow though, they always end up tying things together nicely. I won’t say we do concept records but our records do have concepts. Each one has played off its predecessor. They’ve evolved ideas and stories through sounds, words, images, emotions, but most importantly others imaginations. In that scene this one is no different. From a face value perspective we wanted something that would counter the last title well, so a single, semi complicated word made sense. I also believe it speaks to the actual actions on the vinyl and the ritualistic approaches we all take when using a record player. It should be an experience no matter how large or small. You moved to Relapse for Circumambulation, happier there? Was there any previous trouble with Kemando (previous record label)? We’re very happy with Relapse so far. A lot of employees there have been supportive for some years now, so it’s cool to be working with them this time around. Kemando worked out great for us. Same goes for End Sounds, but we haven’t put two records out on the same label yet, so moving on for this one didn’t seem strange at all. You call yourself a Stonegaze band, is that to distance yourself from any ‘doom metal’ labelling? Ah yes, stonegaze. The first year or so there were a lot of terms being thrown around. Half of which came from us poking fun at ourselves. I’ll admit to the coin that has been minted as stonegaze and I’ll tell you some of my favorite sounds come from stoner rock and shoegaze albums, but the genre thing has always sort of been a joke to me, or seen as a ploy someone’s trying to cash in on by
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Number one thing for me is get this new album out and into the people’s hands, ears, and heads. Hopefully their hearts will follow suit. After that we’ll be trying to get ourselves out there however possible. It’s too soon to say if we’ll be out on our own or supporting someone, but we’re looking into all options both in the states and overseas. If ever there was a time for us to present our music (old and new) to people live its now.
Photo: Allison Smith
putting a new name on old shit. Originally I used the word stonegaze to describe a crowd response after one of our first shows. It was like they had all just spent 30 minutes staring at Medusa. Shortly after that I used it again to describe our sound and it stuck. There’s been a lot of hate from people who don’t approve of putting a label on your band. The truth is if you’re around long enough a label will be assigned regardless of if you want it, or if it’s even accurate in your eyes. I don’t do well in those situations so I took the upper hand. Who knows, if Dan had done those same interviews people might be talking about bootgaze right now.
MOVING AROUND SACRED OBJECTS
Words: Dan Swinhoe
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ALBUM REVIEWS A PALE HORSE NAMED DEATH LAY MY SOUL TO WASTE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Rei Nishimoto Creating somber music was something Type O Negative made a career out of throughout the 1990s, and Sal Abruscato knows this well. Being part of the band’s first two iconic releases – Slow Deep & Hard and Bloody Kisses, as well as Life of Agony’s first two classic releases – River Runs Red and Ugly…he knows a thing or two about bringing out the darker side of life in his music. Lay My Soul To Waste is his second full length release under the A Pale Horse Named Death moniker and once again his somber moods are
‘DMSLT’ is surprising the most straight forward up tempo rock tune on the record, aside from ‘Killer By Night,’ including some cool guitar chugs throughout the tune. Abruscato always finds a way to diversify his darkness in multiple ways. While A Pale Horse Named Death proudly sports its influences on its sleeves on Lay My Soul To Waste, Abruscato is slowly piecing together music and a sound that he could proudly call his own. While his songs draw comparisons to other well-known acts, he is on the right path towards creating something special. It took Type O Negative a couple of records until they created their iconic Bloody Kisses record, so in time A Pale Horse Named Death could possibly find themselves in similar circumstances in the near future.
felt throughout the record. The overall sound is darker than the debut, blending midtempo, Alice In Chains-esque tunes like ‘Killer By DECEIVER OF THE GODS Night’ with moody numbers like ‘Shallow Grave’ which unintentionally pays tribute to RRRRRRRRRR Type O Negative. Words: Chris Ward Abruscato once again bares his soul and his mid ranged vocal pitch comes across more like Layne Staley than Peter Steele. ‘Dead Of Winter’ is a good example of this, as this acoustic guitar driven tune captures the somberness of the words behind his vocal delivery. Like those two front men, his delivery creates a funeral esque vibe and sadness is felt within his voice at times. Other tunes such as ‘Devil Came With A Smile’ drives the song with Sabbath-esque riffings and Abruscato’s angst fuelled vocal deliveries mixed in with his clean vocal styles to add another dimension to his sound.
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Deceiver of the Gods is the ninth album from Swedish melodic death metallers Amon Amarth, and after the relatively experimental flavour of previous album Surtur Rising sees the band returning to a more simplistic approach with an album that bursts out of the speakers with a furious energy more akin to their earlier output. The opening title track certainly lays down a gauntlet that the rest of the album has no trouble in picking up and running with. All thick thrashy riffs and pummelling drums ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’ takes no prisoners as it charges out of the speakers like a Viking invasion, only
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to be usurped in the banging metal stakes by ‘As Loke Falls’. An Iron Maiden-esque guitar line underpins the rollicking riff of the verse as vocalist Johan Hegg barks like a madman with some of his strongest vocals to date. It’s an intense and joyously melodic song that in many other bands hands would represent an early peak that may be as good as the album gets but there’s more to come. ‘Under Siege’ hits a mid-album high with an angry mix of folky melody and death metal dynamics that could easily have veered into the realms of overly-accessible and – gasp! – commercial (for a band like Amon Amarth) territory but the band keep a tight rein on those melodies and maintain their extreme metal edge. Following track ‘Blood Eagle’ hammers it home by opening with the sound of somebody being bludgeoned before exploding into a barrage of kick and snare drums that threaten to take your head off. It may be the album’s shortest track but it’s also the most furious. Former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin joins the band for ‘Hel’, a mid-paced and doomier slab of metal that has some effective backing chants before ‘Coming Of The Tide’ and ‘Warriors Of The North’ close the album in fittingly brutal and epic fashion, ending as it began. Deceiver Of The Gods certainly delivers with some crushingly melodic death metal and focuses a lot more on the immediacy of the songs than Surtur Rising did, making it both heavy and accessible and excellent from beginning to end.
BLACK STAR RIDERS ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Keith Chachkes It’s always a risky proposition when a known band tries to go on when an original member leaves or dies. Few have succeeded: AC/DC, Black Sabbath with Dio, the current incarnation of Alice In Chains. It’s a very short list. I had no issue whatsoever when the Scott Gorham/ Ricky Warwick led reincarnation of Thin Lizzy stormed the many shores the last few years, touring relentlessly. The band played all the obligatory tunes, provided several deep cuts, and performed an impassioned tribute to late front man Phil Lynott, every night. So when it was decided the band was not going to try to make a new album under the
moniker Thin Lizzy, it could have gone one of two ways. It could have been uninspired and weak from the prospect of starting as a new band, or it could have given them a shot in the arm. From the sound of All Hell Breaks Loose (Nuclear Blast), the latter has come to pass. Making a fine album from top to bottom, AHBL is full of great performances, and strong song craft. Black Star Riders did not rest on their laurels. What you get is a an original sounding album of anthemic, classic sounding hard rock songs with some of the DNA of Thin Lizzy added in for good measure: terrific solos, harmonized leads, and occasional Celtic lilting vibe. Songs like the title track, the single ‘Bound For Glory’, and ‘Valley of The Stones are unbridled rock songs that will be real show stoppers live. Other tracks like “Kingdom of The Lost’, ‘Blood Shot’ and the epic ‘Before The War’ have that unmistakable soul and feel that Lizzy was always known for. Front man Ricky Warwick
(The Almighty) proves himself more than worthy with his passionate delivery and thoughtful lyrics. Considering the enormous pressure he has been under to deliver, he did an outstanding job. Naturally, it’s great to hear Gorham, owner one of rock music’s true original sounds, shine again. He is joined by Damon Johnson (Alice Cooper, Brother Cane) who was an unsung hero of the album writing process. He is also a talented lead player in his own right. The glue that holds this music together is the rhythm section of Marco Mendoza (too many bands to mention) on bass and Jimmy DeGrasso on drums. Mendoza’s understated, solid grooves allow the guitarists to go anywhere they please, without sacrificing the songs. Meanwhile, while DeGrasso’s powerful signature sound, know from his stints in Megadeth, Alice Cooper, and Suicidal Tendencies; fits the music perfectly. This is an album with very few flaws and is really enjoyable on repeated listens too.
CHURCH OF MISERY THY KINGDOM SCUM RRRRRRRRRR Words: Christine Hager Deceiver of the Gods is the ninth album from Swedish melodic death metallers Amon Amarth, and after the relatively experimental flavour of previous album Surtur Rising sees the band returning to a more simplistic approach with an album that bursts out of the speakers with a furious energy more akin to their earlier output. The opening title track certainly lays down a gauntlet that the rest of the album has no trouble in picking up and running with. All thick thrashy riffs and pummelling drums ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’ takes no prisoners as it charges out of the speakers like a Viking invasion, only to be usurped in the banging metal stakes by
‘As Loke Falls’. An Iron Maiden-esque guitar line underpins the rollicking riff of the verse as vocalist Johan Hegg barks like a madman with some of his strongest vocals to date. It’s an intense and joyously melodic song that in many other bands hands would represent an early peak that may be as good as the album gets but there’s more to come. ‘Under Siege’ hits a mid-album high with an angry mix of folky melody and death metal dynamics that could easily have veered into the realms of overly-accessible and – gasp! – commercial (for a band like Amon Amarth) territory but the band keep a tight rein on those melodies and maintain their extreme metal edge. Following track ‘Blood Eagle’ hammers it home by opening with the sound of somebody being bludgeoned before exploding into a barrage of kick and snare drums that threaten to take your head off. It may be the album’s shortest track but it’s also the most furious.
Former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin joins the band for ‘Hel’, a mid-paced and doomier slab of metal that has some effective backing chants before ‘Coming Of The Tide’ and ‘Warriors Of The North’ close the album in fittingly brutal and epic fashion, ending as it began. Deceiver Of The Gods certainly delivers with some crushingly melodic death metal and focuses a lot more on the immediacy of the songs than Surtur Rising did, making it both heavy and accessible and excellent from beginning to end.
THE SINISTER SUPREMACY RRRRRRRRRR Words: Raymond Westland
Swedish thrash metal ensemble Darkane are a band with a long history. Back when they started, they were seen as one of the most talented bands in Sweden, poised for greatness. For some reason, they never really broke through, despite a catalogue of highquality releases like Rusted Angel (1999), Expanding Senses (2002) and Layers Of Lies (2005). Let’s see whether their fortunes will be reversed with The Sinister Supremacy, the latest Darkane album. The Sinister Supremacy brings yet another change in the vocal department. This time around, Lawrence Mackrory is back with a vengeance. Yes, the same guy who did the vocals on Rusted Angel, the album that got Darkane noticed in the first place. Musically, it’s pretty much business as usual. The band are perfectly comfortable in the niche they created for themselves and that shows on this album. It’s pretty much a continuation of
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ALBUM REVIEWS what they’ve done since Layers Of Lies and Demonic Art; namely delivering a high-octane hybrid between melodic death metal and thrash metal with a slightly progressive undercurrent. That doesn’t mean The Sinister Supremacy is a carbon copy of previous albums. The band is clearly on fire on tracks like ‘Mechanically Divine’, ‘Ostracized’ and the title track. These fast-paced scorchers work in perfect harmony with more mid-paced songs, like ‘The Decline’ and ‘Collapse Of Illusions’. Darkane are simply masters at the utilisation of dynamics and musical contrasts. This gives The Sinister Supremacy a sense of maturity only a few other bands can master. Darkane’s collective musical muscle is still virtually unparalleled, but they use their musical skills to cement their songs, rather than to indulge themselves in senseless guitar duels (for instance), as many of their more progressive brethren tend to do. Listening to The Sinister Supremacy is like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time; despite the long absence you instantly reconnect and go on like nothing else has changed. The new Darkane album may not offer much in terms of new ideas or fresh musical angles, but only a select few bands can deliver this sort of music in such a lethal and energetic way as these Swedes do. A job well done!
release just these three tracks as an EP, they would already be on to a winner. As for the rest of the tracks – all of which are between nine and almost fifteen minutes long – opener ‘Dream House’, despite wanting too quickly to get the album underway and drench us in optimism with its upwardly spiralling melodies, introduces the album well and gives a clear an insight into what to expect. Five minutes in and the track settles into its calm centre before again lifting us ever higher into the heavens. While title track ‘Sunbather’ pretty much does the same, it’s here where George Clarke’s harsh vocals reveal themselves to be the Achilles’ heel of this one hour piece of work. lyrically having more in common with the fringed whingers of emo and the like than the anguished screams of the destructive dark forces, his vocals clash too severely with the bright, optimistic aura of the tracks. Combined with Deafheaven’s propensity for
shifting the tracks into galloping blackness, neither seems to serve much of a purpose. For the remaining tracks, predictably, when the melodies rise, this is a sign that they are preparing to get their collective head down and blast away at their instruments at a thousand miles per hour for yet another surge of the dark stuff. The atmospheric opening of ‘Vertigo’ is captivating, the intertwining lines weaving a seductive web that very slowly builds back into another hyperblast of burnished blackness. And closing track ‘The Pecan Tree’ does the same as opener ‘Dream House’, save for the more progressive parts where they actually do something interesting. Were Deafheaven to forego the apparent need to hit the high gears of black metal savagery and stick to the ambient, the atmospheric, and the more musically developed aspect of their sound, Deafheaven would have something worth sharing. As it stands, this is too convoluted, too constructed, and too clever for its own good.
of anything remotely approaching what we used to refer to as a “frill”, it’s a no messin about riffathon that reminds me of Black Label Society at their most organic but without the guitar histrionics.
HORIZONTAL LIFE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Mat Davies Desert Storm’s latest record, the alcohol soaked Horizontal Life is a slice of dirty rock n roll, served with plenty of chutzpah and a side order of filthy riff making. You do have to pinch yourself that they hail from Oxford, England rather than the putrid, fetid swamps of Louisiana. Horizontal Life continues the booze filled tradition of the debut album, Forked Tongue. There are no airs and graces, no attempts at supreme cleverness or artifice but, in its place, you get a full pack of riffs, soldered in hell and set to tear strips of your face. ‘Mr Strongbatch’ is a head banging delight; shorn
SUNBATHER RRRRRRRRRR Words: Jason Guest First off, that’s a crap album cover and a crap album title. Fortunately, what lies within album number two from this San Franciscan duo fares much better. The three instrumentals (placed between the other four tracks with vocals) are exquisite. Track two, ‘Irresistible’, with its clean guitar melody washing along on the waves of a gentle breeze, is exactly that. And the contorted electronics of the first half of track four, ‘Please Remember’, as well as the soothing guitar of the second, as disconcerting as they are, have a strange familiarity about them that stir something within that is deep rooted and has been almost forgotten. A touching piece, track six, ‘Windows’, again bears something mystical and transcendent, the soundscape created by its ambient keys and captivating samples is warm and alluring. Were Deafheaven to
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‘Enslaved In The Icy Tundra’ is one of the darkest tracks the band have delivered: it’s cold, relentless and uncompromising; exactly as we like our heavy metal then. ‘No Slave To Master’ is dirtier than a weekend away with your best mates girlfriend, low slung and putrid, it’s paean to marijuana being more of a way into its dirty grooves than any kind of There’s a psychedelic quality at the start of Shenzen that soon morphs into a brutal, blues based track, full of venom and bile: as you have probably guessed, I like it quite a bit. Desert Storm wear their hearts as well as their influences on their sleeves but this is no bad thing. On the contrary, their honesty and
candour, their work ethic and their worship of the riff will do them no harm and do you plenty of down and dirty good. Horizontal Life is a dirty, filthy, smelly record. As you can probably tell, I like it like I like my bourbon: in massive quantities.
INSURGENT RRRRRRRRRR Words: Rei Nishimoto
themselves by paying tribute to their thrash/ death metal and hardcore influences. While these seventeen songs are worthy of a listen, it leans more with intentions of being an anniversary release than a brand new record. The first couple of tracks at times may not blend in well with the older material; it still gives a good cross-section of the band’s history and showing different sides of their sound. But for a band like Dew-Scented to release two decades worth of thrash metal is quite an accomplishment and this collection shows quite a lot.
It is hard to believe German modern thrashers Dew-Scented have been issuing music for over two decades, and have built quite the underground following over the years. Their latest release Insurgent is a collection of three new songs, seven live tracks and cover versions of various favorites of the band.
‘Confronting Entropy’ and ‘Guided From The Dead Light’ are two previously unreleased songs that follow material from the past few recordings. For whatever reason those songs did not make those albums or used as b-sides, they still represent the band’s modern thrash sound with lots of groove and plenty of metallic punch within their sound. The next seven tunes are live versions of ‘Sworn To Obey,’ ‘Turn To Ash,’ ‘Soul Poison,’ ‘Storm Within,’ ‘Cities Of the Dead,’ ‘Never To Return,’ and ‘Acts Of Rage,’ which were recorded throughout their 2012 tour. Those versions were all captured well, and brought out the pure intensity of the band. The last seven songs are bonus tracks from previous records (‘Acts of Rage’, ‘Death of Common Sense’) and cover songs from Incubus (now Opprobrium), Inside Out, Wasted Youth, Judge, Powermad and Genocide Superstars. They bring out a fresh approach to many of these classic songs, showing a different side of
It’s been four years since Fjoergyn’s last album, Jahreszeiten, and after listening to Monument Ende, their fourth album, neither that nor the other two preceding it will be getting a listen. An atmospheric instrumental piece with a gothic/horro/sci-fi feel to it, ‘Genesis 2.0’ starts the album off pretty well and acts as a precursor of what to expect of this album. Dramatic, intense, and brows painfully furrowed, with ‘Betonlethargie’ comes the might and the grandeur. Towering, tight and martial in momentum, what is found in this track lies at the core of the album. But very quickly, whatever measure of substance was hinted at in the opening tracks soon vanishes in a haze of pretentious and predictable pomp: build it up, break it down, loud bit, quiet bit, dramatic bit, orchestral bit, technical bit, blah blah blah. The flat drumming of ‘Leiermann’ does little to give the jarring chords the dynamic they demand and before long, the track descends into a confused
MONUMENT ENDE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Jason Guest
mishmash of juxtaposed and sometimes overlapped parts that clash rather than complement. ‘Der Monolog Des Antichristen’ does the same, the shiny symphonic keyboard parts adding a gloss that is too blinding to be effective and the drab spoken word parts further divest the track of any depth. And so it continues for the remainder of the album’s monotonous sixty four minutes. They do get it right a few times, such as the intro to ‘Antimensch’, but, again, that track quickly becomes as listless as the rest. By the time track seven, ‘S.I.N’, comes around, Monument Ende has proffered little to capture nor stimulate the imagination. The instrumental ‘Kyrie Eleison’ – Greek for ‘Lord Have Mercy’ (I know the feeling!) – is outstanding and the title track has its moments, but at over twelve minutes, it should. Elaborately structured, the tracks plot interesting paths yet somehow the album remains inert and, sad to say, unexciting.
SCARS RRRRRRRRRR Words: Matt Ford Hate Meditation will probably be a vaguely familiar name to many, from the relatively distant past; the band formed in 2003, recorded a three track demo entitled Condemned To Death, and then disappeared again, seemingly to be forgotten forever. However, founder Blake Judd - yes, him of Nachtmystium and Twilight - reformed the band with a radically different linuep in 2012 and recorded Scars, the band’s debut full length album. Judd initially formed the band as an homage to classic ‘bestial’ black and death metal bands such as Beherit, Profanatica and Blasphemy. After ten years, and with several different musicians involved, it seems inevitable that
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ALBUM REVIEWS the new Hate Meditation material would be markedly different; it is. Whilst the raw black metal sound is still very much dominant, the music is much more diverse, making way for subtle acoustic guitar and synth passages. These serve to give the band a definite identity of its own, whereas, all those years ago, they were more concerned with sounding like specific other bands. After an ambient yet ominous intro, Scars explodes into a cacophony of dirty, old school black metal, complete with primitive production values and an atmosphere violently carved from the blackest obsidian. The guitar work is particularly striking, at times reminiscent of Emperor without the orchestral elements, but always inventive. It’s this element which make ‘End Times’ and ‘The Genocide’ highlights, with Judd weaving horrific melodies into his leadwork. Outro track ‘Shadow World’ is arguably the standout, and ultimately the album’s showpiece; its 11 minute length contains a concoction of piercing feedback, fiendish guitar and drum work and a vocal performance weighted in seemingly insurmountable agony, all of which builds to a powerful climax. Scars is a highly accomplished album which should appeal to anyone who prefers their black metal raw, ugly and 100% unpolished. It’s not groundbreaking, but it is a fine example black metal in its purest, most unpretentious form. Let’s hope it’s not another ten years before the next Hate Meditation release. bears something mystical and transcendent, the soundscape created by its ambient keys and captivating samples is warm and alluring. Were Deafheaven to
IRON MARSH RRRRRRRRRR Words: Matt Hinch Transplanted Brit Mat “Captain Kvohst” McNerney and his merry band of Finns, Hexvessel continue to carve out the releases with their Iron Marsh EP. This companion piece to 2012’s No Holier Temple actually stands quite well on its own. In fact, this EP is my first exposure to their psychedelic doom/folk and I couldn’t be happier to have stumbled upon them. The spirit of discovery needs a spark, right? Iron Marsh covers over 30 minutes on five tracks and every one of them is soaked in
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atmosphere and warmth. Feeding off a late ‘60s/early ‘70s vibe, Hexvessel wrap the listener within the folds of a universe serving the natural world with reverence. Their fuzzed-out tones and sensuous rhythms pay eloquent homage to the old school while their superb production brings their sound to the current environment Opener ‘Mask Of The Universe’ combines all the varied elements of the band over its 13 minutes. Multi-instrumentalist Kimmo Helen is on full display with organs, violins and trumpets filling the sonic palette of the rest of the band (Kvohst – vocals/guitar, Niini Ross – bass, Simo Kuosmanen – lead guitar, Marja Konttinen – backing vocals/percussion and drummer Jukka Raneman). Bringing so much together could lead to a sense of chaos but Hexvessel manage their collective beautifully. While Kvohst might have started the process, this is definitely a band effort.
The smooth and comforting EP continues with ‘Superstitious Currents’ and ‘Tunnel At The End Of The Light (Redux)’, a longer version of the track from Dawnbearer, before hitting the first of two tracks featuring some (very) special guests to close out the album. ‘Woman Of Salem’ is an Yoko Ono cover featuring Purson’s Rosalie Cunningham on guest vocals. Cunningham and Kvohst complement each other nicely and confirms all the good things that have been said about her voice. It’s a stirring rendition and vastly different than the original while maintaining much of the same melodies. Closing track ‘Don’t Break The Curse’ sees Hexvessel joined by Alia O’Brien of Blood Ceremony on flute. The flute sounds entirely natural here as it would on the entire EP. Hexvessel’s melodic style and clean vocals mesh perfectly with aura given off by an instrument such as the flute. Iron Marsh is a wonderful EP. Delicate
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melodies, clean vocals and an occult feeling, if not occult leaning, style makes Hexvessel and intriguing and enchanting band. Psychedelic and sensuous, doomy and groovy, the EP rolls by gently and easily yet leaves a lasting impression.
IMPERIUM DEKADENZ MEADOWS OF NOSTALGIA RRRRRRRRRR Words: Angela Davey German black metallers Imperium Dekadenz are back with their fourth full length release Meadows Of Nostalgia. The duo possess the unique ability to make traditional BM sound polished and modern without skipping down the path of ‘post-whateveritis’ that causes so many purists to groan and turn their backs.
Meadows... is certainly no exception to this rule; rasping, sinister vocals, buzzing guitars and blast beats galore but with added audible bass line and even the occasional burst of acoustics. The album title hints at something almost on the depressive side of the genre and certainly doesn’t disappoint; the first half of this record is soaked in an atmosphere of despair and despite the vocals being entirely in German, the loneliness and dread seeps through the language barrier to make itself painfully apparent. It’s a sad state of affairs that Imperium Dekadenz seem to be overlooked by the vast majority of metal press, as they have so much to offer in terms of sound and style. However, if there is an album that they’ll break the industry with, this is not it. Whilst tracks 1-4 are an impressive display of power and melody at play with one another, the latter half descends rapidly into repetitiveness and fails to hold up to the high standards this opus began with so promisingly.
Words: Caitlin Smith
Words: Pete Ringmaster
Can a mix of grind, punk and thrash ever be melded into a serious record? King Parrot’s Bite Your Head Off seems to answer with a resounding no!
Sixth album Ultraviolet is the release that Kylesa has arguably been hinting at across previous releases in moments and individual tracks but left inside until now.
Placing an inverted crown in their logo and the potential Darkthrone reference with ‘Blaze In The Northern Suburbs’ makes the evil in this album more B-movie than Beelzebub. With only one song touching the three-minute mark on this album, the guys have done a great job crafting each song into a short sharp onslaught. Almost as soon as you get into the groove of a song you are immediately hurled
Filtering a psychedelic and shoegaze like warmth and expression through their distinctive sonic mastery, the band has created an album which you sense will not sit easy with some but will at the same time enslave a new breath of fever fuelled recruits to the continuing artistry and imagination of the band. The eleven track release is another evolution
BITE YOUR HEAD OFF RRRRRRRRRR
a rapacious eagerness but also a sirenesque discord coated persuasion which sparks the imagination and secures full attention. It is a magnetic barbed hook which cages attention and hunger for subsequent tracks instantly and soon matched by the following ‘Unspoken’, a track which opens up sultry melodic arms to draw in the listener whilst guitars and ambience colour the air with smouldering breath. It is not long though before the sinister predatory side of Chase Rudeseal’s bass as well as the guitars make their plea with the merger of all aspects leaving another potent enticement in place. It is impossible to resist as it subsequently also proves to be with the likes of the caustically yet transparently absorbing ‘We’re Taking This’, the spellbinding ‘Long Gone’, and the air exhausting ‘What Does It Take’. Throughout song and release the mix of the predominantly raucously shouted delivery from Cope and the tantalising coaxing tones of Pleasants is as inciting a proposition as the sonically carved hungry sounds and their merger with melodically enveloping enterprise, each track leaving a lasting and deep rooted impression, some with stronger depth to their success than others but all ultimately lighting fires within. The climax of the album is its most impacting and intoxicating, especially with the outstanding ‘Vulture’s Landing’. A sonic lance pierces the ear first before
into the next, with eleven songs crammed into a mere twenty minutes in true grind style. The themes may be fun but don’t let that fool you into thinking the music is anything but a cacophony of torment. Spitting out savage sections which are quickly interrupted by more groove-based riffs, particularly title track ‘Bite Your Head Off’ which will do just as the name promises. Youngy’s punk style vocals are cut through the music, energetic and harsh breaking the lyrics with the occasional pained cries. The guys round off the album with the final track ‘Sandy’, a heartwarming thank you from the band that would have even the likes of Charles Bronson crying for his mother. The most impressive part of this record is the fact this is their debut album. Its ceaseless brutality will do much more than just rip your head off… from start to finish it tears you limb from limb
in the sound of the band driven by core members vocalist/guitarists Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope, an album sharing its temptation through the more expected senses swiping invention and sludge gaited essences they are renowned for and a mesmeric seduction which casts an enticing and resourcefully evocative wash over the ingenuity.
agitated and electrifying rhythms stomp across the senses serenaded by the again delicious tones of Pleasants.
It is a thrilling and enthralling encounter which without becoming their finest hour certainly is one of their more intriguing and riveting provocative escapes for thoughts and emotions.
Best track on the album it, aided by the just as stimulating and creatively dazzling ‘Quicksand’ and the closing sultry breeze ‘Drifting’, leaves Ultraviolet an adventure which demands constant returns.
Opening track ‘Exhale’ leaps upon the ear with strict imposing riffs and ear puncturing rhythms from the twin attack of drummers Carl McGinley and Eric Hernandez whilst vocals melodically squall and intrude with passion around them. It is a carnivorous soaking which replaces violent hunger with certainly
Employing a depth of flavours and textures, let alone invention which is hard to fully portray, Kylesa has brought their undoubted craft and ingenuity in a new thought consuming adventure which at its height ignites a furnace of passion and in its less potent moments, a sure hunger for more.
The track begins with an early U2 like lure soon transformed into a conspiracy carved from essences of L7, Morningwood, and Melvins veined with a blaze of classic rock flames and psychedelic bewitchment.
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Words: Sean M. Palfrey
GhOST CULT 35 Immediately Ensemble Pearl’s
ALBUM REVIEWS LOCRIAN
RETURN TO ANNIHILATION RRRRRRRRRR Words: Sean Genovese Locrian from Chi-town (Chicago, USA) are by no means a typical band, and perhaps they are proud of this. Borrowing the post-black stylings of forward-thinking New Yorkers Krallice, postrockalyptic instrumentality of Explosions In The Sky, and the droning post-disquietude of Sunno))), they’re certainly not ones for short and punchy tunes. Instead, they opt for the more aethereal end of the metal world, where light rather than darkness takes prevalence, and more introspective topics of mortality, spirituality, and some heartfelt reflection takes the stage (no pun intended with one of the songs being “Panorama of Mirrors”). Understandably, this isn’t everyone’s thing,
and grand for its own good. The minimalistic album art is a good indicator of what to expect sonically; featuring a shopping cart in an abandoned misty parking lot, a faint outline of trees in the distance, hinting perhaps at the way back to civilization, or perhaps just a way to trick the unsuspecting into going too far into the beyond. It’s engaging, and begs further examination, but it’s easy to get lost when exploring an environment that is largely blank with few landmarks to refer to. And landmarks are what Locrian need on this album; songs that engage rather than allow the attentions desperately sought after to wander and trip over unsorted mental debris. While the final track, “Obsolete Elegies” does pick up with a brief rock-out near the end following a tastefully done ambiance that resembles either a DMT trip or a neardeath experience (I would imagine), it’s too little, too late. Style? It’s there. Substance? Woefully underfed.
include the title track with its nice Sabbath bent, ‘Perverse Osmosis’ with its slow groove, and “Water Under A Burning Bridge” another trudger with a cool change up in the middle break. The records closes with the galloping, crunching ‘What Is Not...Is’ that fades out into a blur of noise. E. Olson’s growls are cool as hell, but unfortunately the rest of the band, while all solid players, do not shine individually. A couple of tasty licks here and there as leads and the band can certainly grind it out as good as anyone, but it would have been great to remember the players as much as the songs. I do realize that the Stoner genre isn’t playerfocused as it’s focused on the riff, but it would have been nice to hear the members stretch out and show what they can do individually. Also, the production is a little too raw for my taste. While I can appreciate the art of having a record sound more “live”, I can’t help but think that some refinement would have allowed some of the tastier musical tidbits stand out even more. But these are minor gripes. This is a really good record; one that you can put on and leave without skipping tracks and would sound great blaring out of the car on a hot summer day. Lord Dying isn’t reinventing the wheel with their sound, but it is definitely a solid release with good performances and catchy riffs. If you are fan of this genre, you will thoroughly enjoy this record, and be sure to catch them on tour as they are hitting the road in July.
so from the start they’ve got an obstacle to overcome. In making music that dares to try for the “epic”, is it possible for them correctly capture the essence unlike a teenager remarking the latest technological marvel or a particularly skillful maneuver in a sports match? While Locrian’s certainly a competent musical outing, they’re the kind of band that goes nowhere fast. Indeed, the end of the title track becomes engaging about halfway in after a drone section that, well… drones. The tracks before that have few remarkable moments, despite being well-crafted musical pieces that obviously were made with some amount of care. It’s just not interesting enough to hold its own among their similarly introverted contemporaries in Deafheaven and Krallice, and even the old post-everything trailblazers in Jesu and Swans, who were doubtlessly great influences here. Overall, Return To Annihilation is just too slow
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Words: Lynn Jordan
Words: Leticia Mooney
Lord Dying, a Doom/Stoner band hailing from Portland and freshly signed to Relapse, has released its debut album, Summon The Faithless. Loaded with bone-grinding riffage and powerful vocals this release is perfect for those wanting to get their stoner groove on. If you like Red Fang, Kylesa with some High on Fire, a little Mastodon for swing and a dash of thrash, this is the record for you.
There is one thing about Månegarm that I adore, and it’s that the band’s new release, Legions Of The North, made me wonder why they’d fallen off my radar. I listened to this and remembered how much I loved Nattväsen, and then wondered where the hell I’d put that disc. This is one band that really does release albums of consistent quality. Only one thing about this album surprised me, and that is because Månegarm is unashamedly Swedish: it’s that this release is titled almost exclusively in English. Overall, there is so much excellence here that I don’t know where to start: the structure, the writing, the performance, the vocal lines, the production.
SUMMON THE FAITHLESS RRRRRRRRRR
The record opens with “In A Frightful State Of Gnawed Dismemberment”. It’s a great opener with cool, doomy riffage with a wall of guitars, and it sets the listener up for what Lord Dying is bringing musically. Other stand out tracks
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LEGIONS OF THE NORTH RRRRRRRRRR
The album is quite long, all things considered. Most of the tracks are more than five minutes long. The longest, track 9, ‘Echoes From The Past’, clocks in at the longest: 6:41. And it features some very beautiful female vocals. As with all of the best albums to emerge from this genre, Legions Of The North is a journey, an epic story from beginning to end. Even if you pay no attention at all to the song titles or the lyrics, you are carried on a bit of an adventure simply through the expression of the music. Simply put, this album says, let’s go to war without fear; the act of going to war is lonely and long, but pride and vengeance will rise; through our acts, our world comes to an end, and yet despite this act we go home, strong and united, a force to be reckoned with. The story tells us that the state of war causes sadness when you compare it to times of peace and calm, and that in remembering our fallen, we thus are ourselves prepared to die. At death, your soul is collected by the Valkyries, and
of grind core in the way that Agoraphobic Nosebleed or Pig Destroyer may be in the process of doing, they are making blast beats and flailing guitar their own. Apparently motivated to get together to play in 2004, “... to have fun and play without any stress” there is evidence on this release suggesting the album was shaped with that mantra in mind.
afterwards, you watch over your homeland and your people, who remember you through stories, artefacts, and runes. The final track – ‘Raadh’ – is sung in swedish. It is a beautiful, acoustic closure to an epic journey through from war to remembrance. I love this album, and I suggest that fans of this incredibly broad genre will too.
by Remy Cuveillier of Headsplit Design, is the ideal image to set up the listener for the cacophony within. Tracks such as ‘War Therapist’, despite being disturbingly fast, are propelled forward on a torrent of precision percussion and mathematically exact guitar riffs. Devotees of technical showmanship will be astounded by ‘Fucktards Parade’, whilst listeners who enjoy their grind core with a trouncing edge will be happy with ‘Piss Off (Part 2)’, ‘Army Of Freaks’ and ‘Waste By Definition’. That tightness is unrelenting throughout the whole of Flies Will Starve and will be a summer treat for anyone who enjoys being assaulted by technical wizardry and devastating drum blasts in the way that stable mates Blockheads, Brutal Truth and Rotten Sound excel.
FLIES WILL STARVE RRRRRRRRRR Words: John Toolan
Named after the six-tusked, one hundred feet tall, elephant-like creatures created by Tolkein, Swiss Mumakil release their second album for Relapse, the first in four years since Behold The Failure, and prove that although they may not be extending the margins
overall passionate experience and less on mechanical complexity. There is density in the compositions, but that may not be considered the main focus of the delivery. The production is sterile enough to allow each component to have its own influence whilst allowing an amalgamation of elements to create a visceral whole. Apparently based around themes of mankind’s incessant will to destroy itself, and utilising themes such as war, deception, pain and anger, Flies Will Starve may consider itself the ideal soundtrack for the way many people feel about the world around them today.
Recorded by the band themselves in Geneva, an image in itself that destroys any idyllic metaphors associated with that location, Flies Will Starve features twenty four tracks, averaging at ninety seconds to two minutes in length, of devastatingly intense, yet clinically precise, grind. Recording the album, it seems, was a lengthy process due to the fact that their original bass player left due to personal reasons, PALMS and a recurrent wrist injury, suffered by RRRRRRRRRR drummer Seb, who was also eventually replaced. The apocalyptic cover, designed Words: Pete Ringmaster
A review of online comments for the album suggest similarities with Misery Index but it would be fair to say, however, that Flies Will Starve concentrates more reliably on the
The reunion of three fifths of post-metallers Isis alone is something to raise intrigue and hunger but add Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno into the mix and that appetite takes on a more voracious stance. It also ignites wondering expectations as to which direction their sound and presence together as Palms would take, the heavier more rapaciously intrusive fascination of Isis or the experimental atmospheric devouring of Moreno’s day job. The self-titled debut reveals it is somewhere in between whilst exploring its own evocative and enthralling soundscapes. With Aaron Harris, Clifford Meyer, and Jeff Caxide alongside Moreno, Palms came together by chance in many ways, the three Los Angeles based musicians after months apart from the demise of their previous band coming together just to play music. With things taking on an appealing proposition in sound and promise the trio looked for a vocalist and knowing Moreno was an Isis fan, Aaron
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ALBUM REVIEWS mentioned to him what they were doing which led to both sides suggesting his contribution. Whatever your taste in regard to Deftones and his other projects such as Team Sleep it is fair to say the unique and mesmeric tones of Moreno takes music into deeper reflective and emotive corners, and it is no exception on this release. From the opening gentle winds of ‘Future Warrior’, the album nestles deeply into thoughts and emotions, its smouldering seduction stroking the psyche and senses with captivating weaves of melodic textures and colour enriched ambiences. The track soothes the ear with warm compelling keys and equally hypnotic rhythms whilst guitars draw their own visual narrative and emotions with expected impressive craft and invention. As Moreno unveils his lyrical emotive cryptography you kind of visualise a lone melancholic yet hope drenched figure within a sonic sunset of fiery hues, it is a vague interpretative imagery which could be applied to the whole release and its impassioned landscape. The excellent start leads into ‘Patagonia’, the track’s star lit skies watching down on a wash of searching sentiment and enthralling sonic design, before the equally absorbing ‘Mission Sunset’ wraps its chilling yet magnetic arms around senses and thoughts. Both songs bring an exploration of not only themselves and lyrical calls but of the emotions of the listener too with the second of the pair a sizzling temptress as intimidating and passionately caustic as it is seductively mesmeric. Through the sepia clouded ‘Shortwave Radio’ and ‘Tropics’ with its slow burning sultriness, Palms continue to tempt with incandescent enterprise and mastery, both songs raising fires burning with fervour whilst torridly emotional caresses stroke tenderly, whilst the closing ‘Antarctic Handshake’ brings a sluggish bewitching radiance across every receptive atom of its recipient. It ends what is a sublime encounter, and one which emerges more impressive with every listen. It is an album which at times does feed expectations but has just as many powerful surprises and imaginative avenues too, Palms is a real and maybe unexpected treat.
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THE 7TH OFFENSIVE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Caitlin Smith
PHILIP ANSELMO AND THE ILLEGALS WALK THROUGH EXITS ONLY RRRRRRRRRR
Denmark is usually known for its neutral stance when it comes to matters of warfare, however this Danish quartet have declared a brutal sonic assault on anyone brave enough to take them on. Returning with their seventh studio album, aptly named the album The 7th Offensive. They could perhaps they could be accused of being a little tacky, with song titles like ‘In the Name Of Massacration’ and ‘Napalm Alarm’ it really is hard to take this band at their word, but the music really speaks for itself with this album. With a name like Panzerchrist you would rightly expect the rolling of tanks to be heavily infused within the music, and this hits you right
Words: Keith Chachkes
from the start, furious drumming interjected with snare rolls really throw you straight into the chaos of the battlefield. Hints of blackened harmonies rise through the music at points adding a real sense of evil to the sound however choosing to separate these as their own section does make the songs sound a little disjointed at points. The album is a real split between fairly standard songs, and catchy riffs particularly in ‘Mass attack Of The Lychantrope Legion’ and ‘Kill For Revenge’. Finishing on ‘Pig Parade’, sounds of war and pig squeals are underpinned by monks chanting in an odd homage to their band name although if any political comment is meant on this album, it is lost under the poor attempt at humor. Despite sonically representing the devastating aftermath of a nail bomb attack, this album takes time to grow before it can be really appreciated it for what it is. This is no timeless classic, but a must for any collection.
and his other work, you will be thrilled to hear the sound of the Phil of old rise again. This album will speak to a primal place deep within you, and it will have you speaking in tongues. Phil created this album with his backing band, The Illegals, comprised of Marzi Montazeri on guitars, Jose Manual Gonzalez on drums and Bennett Bartley recorded the bass. While the album was co-produced by Michael Thomson and tracked and mastered by big names such as Steve Berrigan and Scott Hull, this album represents Phil’s total vision, ‘auteur style’. His total commitment to detail can be heard in every note. Musically, the album is everything you have hoped for. Squashing your head from the opening salvo of ‘Music Media Is My Whore’, guitars shred and scream, while drums attack and blast away. ‘Battalion of Zero’ and ‘Betrayed’ just sizzle with unvarnished, no bullshit, musical hatred as only Anselmo can produce. As you’d come to expect, the album has many sonic twists and turns. Thrash and
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The much-anticipated solo album from Philip Anselmo, Walk Through Exits Only (Season of Mist/Housecore) has arrived, and it is definitely a musical enema for your head. It’s loud and chaotic, brutal, and beautiful to hear all at once. This album sees him returning to the style we had become so accustomed to in the first half of his almost twenty-five year career in metal. Don’t get me wrong, Phil as the voice of Down is great, and he has added a wizened, graceful quality to that band now. But, if you also love the vitriolic harshness of classic middle-era Pantera albums, Superjoint Ritual
hardcore blend with old-school grooves of death metal, and a modern crust sensibility can be heard too. ‘Usurper’s Bastard Rant’ sounds like a descendent of the Superjoint song style, with jagged riffage and a wave of disgust vocally. The title track is appropriately brilliant as well. One of the most standout things about this album are the lyrics. Although Phil spews venom with the best of `em, a closer examination reveals an honest accounting from an older, more comfortable guy than the one we’ve gotten to know through his music two decades ago. Never afraid to mix vulgar notions with vulnerability, tracks such as the title cut, ‘Betrayed” and ‘Bedroom Destroyer’ mark some of the finest phrases he has ever put down. The only gripe I have with the album is its brief run time of forty minutes, but it’s not like there is anything left for him to prove to anyone, but himself anymore.
by Rockenfeld and the articulate bass lines by Eddie Jackson. The biggest revelation is singer Todd La Torre, who really sounds like Geoff Tate in his prime. The songmaterial itself is top-notch. Tracks like ‘Spore’, ‘Redemption’ and ‘Vindication’ are just as eloquent as ‘I Don’t Believe In Love’, ‘The Needle Lies’ and ‘Jet City Woman’. The only minor complaint I have is the relatively short length of the album. But then again, I’d rather have a short album with quality songs, than anything from Dedicated To Chaos, Operation: Mindcrime II or Q2K, which are basically Geoff Tate solo records with outside songwriters. In short, the new Queensryche album sounds like a genuine group effort, instead of a glorified solo release from a singer who can’t keep his ego in check. Welcome back, gentlemen.
feels almost like a poignant farewell; it is slow paced, with moody, bluesy sounding guitar and Farida’s vocals sound especially emotionally strong. ‘...If Not a Vessel?’ and ‘Tabula Rasa’ are the only two tracks that mirror any of the band’s former Christ or Cocaine swagger and given that ‘Tabula Rasa’ is instrumental, it is clear to see the incompletion of this opus and that makes it eerie as well as saddening; akin to a ghost town where people have just picked up and left in the middle of their daily lives. There are some of the best riffs that TDB have ever written on this record and Selim’s vocals paired with Farida’s sound incredible. However, the fact that this fails to match up to the energy of previous releases is disappointing and considering that this will be the last we hear from the godfathers of Satan worshipping grooves this is rather unsatisfying. This record is more of a heart wrenching, tearful abandonment than a triumphant farewell.
THE DEVIL’S BLOOD
THE WINERY DOGS
QUEENSRYCHE RRRRRRRRRR Words: Raymond Westland These are confusing times for any Queensryche fan. Former QR singer Geoff Tate uses the name for his merry gang of hired guns and the remaining members recruited a new singer and decided to continue under, you guessed it, Queensryche. It’s a classical case of will the real QR please stand up... All jokes aside, the new self titled album by Scott Rockenfield and Co is a true return to form. Granted, it may not be an instant classic like Operation: Mindcrime or Empire, but it comes pretty close. All the things you once loved about the band are there in abundance. The signature double guitar lines are back, cemented with the meticulous drumming
III: TABULA RASA OR DEATH AND THE SEVEN PILLARS RRRRRRRRRR
THE WINERY DOGS RRRRRRRRRR Words: Raymond Westland
Words: Angela Davey
Former Dream Theater skinsman Mike Portnoy likes to keep himself occupied with a variety of A pioneer of occult rock and one of the most different projects. His latest musical venture is respected acts within the genre, The Devil’s a power trio called The Winery Dogs, together Blood caused a legion of fans heartache with Billy Sheenan (Mr Big) and guitarist/singer upon announcing their split at the beginning Richie Kotzen. Let’s see what their debut of this year. Amongst the live albums and album has to offer. compilations that lie in their wake, their Given the musical background and the incomplete third full length III: Tabula Rasa virtuosic skills of the gents on their respective Or Death And The Seven Pillars has been instruments one would expect an album full of released as a bittersweet farewell. instrumental wizardry. More of an album from The album opens with ‘I Was Promised A musicians for musicians as it were…however, Hunt’; an epic 22 minute rock opera. Despite The Winery Dogs are all about accessible the Dutch duo not knowing they were going classic rock songs, injected with a healthy to part ways at the time of writing this, it dose of blues, jazz, funk and soul for extra
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ALBUM REVIEWS effect. This works very well, given the sheer quality of songs like ‘Elevate’, ‘Desire’ and ‘I’m No Angel’. These tracks are so catchy that they would sit well with a more mainstream oriented audience. Whereas Mike Portnoy (drums) and Billy Sheenan (bass) are mostly content with providing a solid foundation it’s Richie Kotzen that really shines on this album with his soulful guitar leads and his soaring vocals. He somewhat reminds me of Chris Robinson (Black Crows) and Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) at times. Kotzen really comes into his own on blues/soul-orientated tracks like ‘You Saved Me’ and ‘Regret’. The self-titled The Winery Dogs album is very uncomplicated and fun rock and roll affair with three established musicians who are having the time of their life. Together with the Black Star Riders album The Winery Dogs will dominate my playlist for this summer. Heartily recommended!
Guitarist/vocalist DH Phillips, bassist/vocalist Nicole Estill and drummer Slim TX have created an album that’s not quite drone or doom, but features elements of both, and adds more influences on top. Opener ‘Creeper’ slowly rumbles into view, lots of fuzz on the guitar, thick distortion and reverb, and sets the pace and tone for the rest of the record. Midway through the album, the sevenminute ‘Trollstigen’ is probably the highlight. Opening with a grungey Melvins-esque riff, Estill’s eerie vocals and lethargic drumming over layers of fuzz and distortion. The two vocalists usually take turns as to who takes the mic. Estill’s voice has a haunting, smokey sound, while Phillips is more grungelike in his delivery and more melancholic in tone. They share similar qualities; both are hypnotic and understated, waxing in and out of the haze of the music. But it’s when the two harmonise, such as one ‘Four Teeth’ and ‘Lungr’ that vocals add a new melodic quality that’s rarely heard in this kind of down tempo music.
CIRCUMAMBULATION RRRRRRRRRR Words: Dan Swinhoe There are many bands who don’t like being tarnished with certain brush and grouped with a wider seen. But most of these acts merely call themselves rock & roll or plain old metal acts; very few create their own term with which to pigeonhole their band. But that’s just what True Widow have done. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, the three piece describe their sound as ‘Stonegaze’, somewhere between drone-like stoner and the quiet minimalism of traditional shoegaze style music. Their description seems pretty close to their sound; minimalist, distorted and quiet. Onto their third full release, Circumambulation
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is more hazy and atmospheric, and less riffdriven than their previous effort, As High as the Highest Heavens and from the Center to the Circumference of the Earth. It’s also easier to say. The album’s title means to move around a sacred object, and is a big part of various religions. The title seems apt, as it often feels as though you are being put into some sort of mesmerising trance that’s very easy to get lost in as you listen to it, albeit in a very slow, shuffling sort of way.
There’s no one band True Widow sound most like. There’s occasional grunge moments, doom, drone, even vintage Queens Of The Stone Age. The music is dense and listenable but not crushingly heavy, it’s dusty dessert rock. Though the endless intensity and similarity of the songs adds to the nuance of the album, there’s very little here for anyone who likes their music above a snail’s pace. But the somber mood and subtle harmonies mean fans of this style of music will be able to bask in its smoke. Circumambulation isn’t a radical departure from their previous albums, but a consolidation. Fans of previous efforts will find the band on fine form. Well worth a listen for those who like slow-burning atmospherics and hazy soundscapes.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Words: Sean McGeady Additional comments: Marcus J. West
Photos: Fabiola Santini
HANG THE BASTARD And so it begins: one of the most awaited music festival in the planet comes to its eleventh edition in 2013 with a three day line-up to die for. Three headliners that could not have been a better fit to define Download’s grandeur: Iowa mighty potency Slipknot, legendary Iron Maiden and über majestic Rammstein made Download 2013 one to certainly remember for good. The weather, as tradition calls, had no mercy for the first two days: nevertheless the mood of the thrilled crowd is rising as each band takes its turn in spoiling a demanding audience with all diversions of traditional rock and metal. Sunday the sun finally remembers to grace the county of Leicestershire with the arrival of Hellyeah and their southern fire. Three days of pure metal and rock bliss: from the Finnish battle pride that Turisas bring back to a familiar ground, to the Swedish freedom rock of Free Fall, to Alice In Chains most awaited come back and Satyricon touch of eerie black metal, Download is, once again, the festival for the true hungry souls. As the days unfold and the campground fills with well equipped die-hard fans and their colourful tents, the atmosphere become simply irresistible. It’s Swedish freedom rockers Free Fall’s turn to be the festival warmers, with a much heated performance at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage. Frontman Kim Fransson is leading his troop to certain splendour. Wishing away pathetic fallacy, tens of thousands make the arduous trudge across Donington Park hoping incessant rain
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and grim skies aren’t a permanent fixture of this year’s Download Festival. In the arena wet and colourful ponchos cling tightly to t-shirts as revellers scramble between tents and stages, searching as much for shelter as stimulation. On the Pepsi Max Stage, London quintet Hang The Bastard provide both.
FESTIVAL REO united kingdom AMAZI Friday 13/06/13
From behind unkempt manes they shift between lumbering doom and hurried sludge with assurance and without warning. Scrums form and the crowd swells with each successive riff. The band close their powerful inaugural Download performance with the delightfully depraved Sweet Mother and prove they’re one of the country’s most promising heavy bands. Before departing, bassist Joe Nally thanks the crowd and urges us to stick around for The Sword. We do. The Texan stoner vendors follow with a typically hulking yet skilful set including fan favourites ‘Tres Brujas’ and ‘How Heavy This Axe’ before closing with ‘Apocryphon’. By late afternoon the clouds break for Down. Phil Anselmo claws at the sky as if attempting to drag the sun closer to the Main Stage. The band power through ‘Eyes Of the South’, ‘Witchtripper’ and ‘Lifer’, their obligatory dedication to the forever missed Dimebag Darrell. Anselmo also pays tribute to the venerable Jeff Hanneman before finale ‘Bury Me In Smoke’. At the song’s end the everwhimsical Anselmo invites a slew of miscellaneous musicians on stage and the song evolves into a collaborative jam beneath its primal chorus. “I’m old, deaf, fat, bald and I love all o’ ya.” We love you too, Phil. Back on the Pepsi Max Stage, embellished in ceremonial war paint, Finnish Vikings Turisas conduct a battle metal show complete with symphonic folk metal classics ‘Stand UpAnd Fight’ and ‘Battle Metal’. Some members of the crowd have adorned the commemorative red and black body paint too, and are especially excited when vocalist Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygård announces a new Turisas album, due to arrive in the UK in early September. On the Main Stage, with Papa Roach having already played, Korn coax us further down the path toward nu metal’s glory days with 90s classics ‘Blind’, ‘Got The Life’ and ‘Freak On A Leash’’. With the return of guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch, Korn are in great form and prove their worth under the late afternoon attempt of sunshine. Swedish Europe and Danish Volbeat grace the Main Stage in a pleasant and carefree sequence when more comes from Finland: while HIM appease the Pepsi Max Stage and Black Stone Cherry rip through a thoroughly entertaining set on the Zippo Encore Stage, a pneumatic percussive onslaught brings the Main Stage to a close. Slipknot seem flat at first. But pandemonium ensues by third track ‘Wait And Bleed’, and the returning rain only adds to the atmosphere. The audience is so animated they break the safety barriers several times which forces the band to cease during ‘Left Behind’ as security rushes to make amends. The malevolence of a group that terrified a generation of parents is somewhat dampened by such insistence on crowd safety. “No one is getting hurt on my watch” says a concerned Corey Taylor. Still, the Iowans rattle through ‘Pulse Of The Maggots’, ‘Psychosocial’ and an emotional ‘Duality’ dedicated to late bassist Paul Gray. As the Slipknot banner falls to reveal a banner adorned with ‘#2’ in homage to Gray, the band close with a bitter rendition of Surfacing. At times Slipknot were limp, and weren’t helped by crowd issues stalling momentum. They may have failed to recapture the magic of their legendary 2009 performance but they gave a raucous, emotional and memorable headline performance nonetheless.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Saturday 14/06/13
The appearance of a grotesque green goblin on the Pepsi Max Stage can only mean symphonic death metal courtesy of California’s Nekrogoblikon. At the Zippo Encore Stage, Heaven’s Basement and Hardcore Superstars prepare the ground for Swedish institution Katatonia: they magically loose an atmospheric set beneath sullen skies. A blend of beauty and brutality is found throughout their expertly crafted set which includes ‘Forsaker’, ‘Lethean’ and ‘Leaders’. On the Main Stage Mastodon play a lacklustre set too reliant on latest album The Hunter. But they play well; the inimitable Brann Dailor is a pleasure to behold. His drumming is impressive, as always, and he also provides assured lead vocals during ‘Dry Bone Valley’ and ‘Oblivion’. Later, Oliver Charles, drummer of Gogol Bordello, tells Dailor is the only drummer that makes him feel insecure about
ALICE IN CHAIN
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his own abilities. Mastodon smash through sludge anthem ‘Blood And Thunder’ before closing with ‘The Sparrow’, a lovely song perhaps unfit to finish a festival set. There’s a curious dissonance as Alice In Chains somehow transform bleak and tragic songs ‘Down In A Hole’ and ‘Rooster’ into feel good festival anthems beneath a brightening sun. William DuVall and Jerry Cantrell’s voices harmonize to fantastic effect. The grunge icons are warmly embraced by the crowds, and throughout classics like ‘Dam That River’ and ‘Man In the Box’ they sound as heavy as any band on the bill. Great to hear that ‘Hollow’, the captivating opening track of their brand new The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here which was released on May 28th. “We’re Motörhead and we play rock ‘n’ roll,” slurs Lemmy, a God amongst men, before the veterans thunder through a rambunctious set including classics ‘Damage Case’, ‘Killed By Death’ and mandatory encore closers ‘Ace Of Spades’ and ‘Overkill’. Those in the know make their way to the Pepsi Max Stage to reserve their space, for the until recently, anonymousyet-acclaimed Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. The Cambridgebased four-piece play psychedelic doom with imposing discipline. ‘Mt. Abraxas’ goads the audience into a narcotic and concomitant sway. With perfect tones and a vocalist on fine form, they give one of the sharpest performances of the weekend, culminating in the sinister ‘Over And Over Again’. Back on the Main Stage, the usually effortless sleaze of Queens of the Stone Age seems a little aloof, with the only exception perhaps of the opening classic ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’. Though they tear through ‘My God Is The Sun’ and a host of hits from 2002’s Songs For The Deaf, they never truly connect with the crowd. Prevailing wind takes its toll on the sound but the crowd sing loud enough during ‘No One Knows’ that many don’t notice. The band leave the stage curiously early with ‘A Song For The Dead’ still echoing from their amps. It’s an unusual performance, not entirely for the right reasons. After an obliging set skilfully delivered by Taiwanese Chthonic, a precedent is set when a frontman walks on stage wearing an owl on his head. Thankfully, for Norwegian maniacs Kvelertak, maintaining such lunacy isn’t an issue. They provide furious blasts of black metal, hardcore punk and classic rock with abundant energy that naturally spills throughout the crowd. Make no mistake, Kvelertak are a band destined for festival greatness. Even a pre-show Spitfire flyover can’t save the mighty Iron Maiden from the mercy of Mother Nature. The wind plagues their sound throughout and it means enjoyment is more easily derived from the band’s visual prowess rather than their audio. Thankfully then, the elaborate Maiden England stage show replicating the 1988 show for the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son tour, featuring ever-changing backdrops and plentiful pyro, is enough to entertain. Despite being rendered almost inaudible by strong winds the iconic back catalogue of Britain’s biggest metal band is well represented, with frontman Bruce Dickinson belting out classics like ‘Run To The Hills’ alongside rarer live tracks like ‘The Prisoner’.
FESTIVAL REO united kingdom AMAZI
Iron Maiden play a set that seems perfect for devoted fans but less so for more casual fans. Still, ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’ is an irrefutable highlight and for many ‘Fear Of The Dark’ is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. An epic encore of ‘Aces High’, ‘The Evil That Men Do’ and an extended ‘Running Free’ rounds off a mixed performance.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Sunday 14/06/13
As a strong sun FINALLY hangs in the sky on the last final day of Download 2013, the heavy grooves of Hellyeah give weary watchers a much-needed wake-up call on the Zippo Encore Stage. The hazy retro blues rock of Sweden’s Graveyard is a gratefully accepted palate cleanser granting spectators a break from the assailment of heavy metal. It’s not a show that inspires much movement in the crowd. It’s one to watch and admire, and there’s plenty to admire. Mythological death metal peddlers Amon Amarth suffer technical difficulties that cuts their set drastically short. Frontman Johan Hegg wastes no time in straddling the bowsprit of his Viking longboat and the band emphatically deliver their brand new hit ‘Deceiver Of The Gods’ to their hungry crowd before finishing with old favourite ‘Twilight Of the Thunder God’. Sunday mass ensues courtesy of Swedish Ghost. The Nameless Ghouls storms through Infestissumam before being joined by Papa Emeritus II whose sweet voice coasts through ‘Per Aspera Ad Inferi’. The understated stage setup means Papa’s charm and mystique has no trouble holding the audience’s attention. He guides Ghost through ‘Ritual’ and ‘Year Zero’ with aplomb. A rousing finale of ‘Monstrance Clock’ has the entire Zippo Encore Stage worshipping Satan, and suggests the group’s festival prominence can only increase. Australian Airbourne and all American Limp Bizkit have the honour to close the Zippo Encore Stage. Closing the Pepsi Max Stage this year are black metal mainstays Satyricon. A compelling performance of ‘Repined Bastard Nation’ opens the set and the modest crowd react with appropriate energy. Huge cries ring out for ‘Mother North’ and the mention of their self-titled eighth album which arrives in September. After the clattering intro sends rockets into the air, a curtain drops and the crowds surge as Teutonic glory Rammstein are revealed on the Main Stage, following a rather bleak performance by 30 Seconds To Mars. With a playful finger lifted to his mouth, Till Lindemann is lowered from the lightning rig in a fluffy pink coat and ‘Ich Tu Dir Weh’ takes shape as much of the enormous audience struggle to stay on their feet. What follows is an outrageous display of industrial German hardness, innumerable pyrotechnics and simulated anal sex. During ‘Feuer Frei!’ Lindemann headbutts a microphone, splitting his forehead and sending blood trickling down his face. The colossal crowd chants louder than it has all weekend during a lifeaffirming ‘Du Hast’, during which wire-guided fireworks are sent over the audience, hitting the mixing tower before screaming back and initiating a large explosion on stage. ‘Asche Zu Asche’, ‘Du Riechst So Gut’ and ‘Ich Will’ are also highlights. The band give an incredibly tight performance aided by sublime sound. A piano, spine-chilling, stripped down version of ‘Mein Herz Brennt’, opens the encore and shows a softer side to the band and Lindemann, a man who, in a matter of minutes, during closer ‘Pussy’, would mount a giant mobile phallus and spray foam all over the crowd under a shower of white confetti. With fans speculating this
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HEAVEN BASEMENT could’ve been the Germans’ last show on English soil, Rammstein end Download Festival 2013 with an impossibly heavy blend of flames, sprechgesang, sodomy and schadenfreude, and it’s perfect in every way. Download 2013 comes to end with fans already making plans for 2014: the twelfth edition will take place from June 13 to June 15th. Early bird tickets are already available from www. downloadfestival.co.uk. Stay tuned for more!
FESTIVAL REO united kingdom AMAZI
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS June 21-34 2013 Clisson, France Words: Ross Baker Photos: Mark Davies
Turning in another formidable line up which featured some very safe bets, attendance wise, on the main stages but a fantastic representation of extreme music with a clutch of acclaimed Doom, Stoner, Death and Black Metal acts on the Temple, Altar and Valley stages Franceâ€™s premier metal event Hellfest showed once again the blue print many U.K. festivals would do well to follow. When it comes to carefully staggering stage times with two adjacent main stages and the two tents containing three other stages, the only excuse for missing any of the action is purely because of the exhaustion of rushing between catching so many scintillating sounds. The headline acts may have been fairly average yet at least the appearance of Danish rockers Volbeat in a coveted headliner role was a bold move even though the band is clearly unready to occupy such a position.
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The inaugural day saw brooding homeland act The Great Old Ones deliver a tight early performance of cold post Black Metal before England’s Black Spiders deliver a shoot from the hip set of the slick hard rock we have come to expect from them. ‘Stay Down’ and ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me’ ooze confidence, suggesting their rise up the bill may be imminent. The audience may have responded to Pete Spiby’s call to shout “Fuck You Black Spiders” but they won several new friends today. Sludge duo Eagle Twin deliver a vital sermon over on the valley incorporating mournful monologues within crushing doom overtures. Massive obelisks of distortion tempered with Gentry Densley channeling the spirit of Leonard Cohen with his rasping overtone vocals lending atmosphere to his glacial arrangements. Sleazing up main stage two, Sweden’s Hardcore Superstar’s call and response glam metal has more than one buxom beauty dancing. Frontman Jocke Berg may look a dead ringer for Wednesday 13 but his voice is all his own. While not a complete success there is no arguing with numbers like “Last Call For Alcohol” and “Fuck The Law” with even the sun coming to join the pa Bison BC are a revelation on the valley. Considering that Mastodon and Baroness have apparently left their heavier roots behind them, this mighty beast harnesses their early work with a hardcore bluster which makes for an exhilarating experience. They tore through an ultra high energy set of Neanderthal riffery, harking back to the days before Mastodon decided to distance themselves from sheer brute power. Last year’s Lovelessness showed an act brimming with confidence and the audience remains transfixed by the onslaught the Canadians bring with bassist Masa Anzai ferociously destroying his instrument at the climax of their scorching performance even handing broken pieces of his bass to the audience along with the guitar case for good measure: a true celebration of metal’s life affirming power. By contrast Evoken’s funeral doom is ghastly and grim yet lacks staying power. Alternating between slow mournful melodies and fractured death metal, they have moments of high drama but many build ups end in little pay off. Math metal act Between The Buried And Me posses much technical dexterity yet their disjointed arrangements, poorly executed vocals and lacklustre stage presence fail to impress. Thankfully the quality entertainment resumes with the appearance of virtuosos Alex Skolnick and Gene “the machine” Hoglan who propel thrash legends Testament through a searing white hot set of technical ecstasy. ‘Native Blood’ is fantastic with Chuck Billy feeding off the monstrous instrumentalists which flank him in addition to the rapturous response from the faithful. ‘Practice What You Preach’ has the moshpit going bananas and recent material shows that the veteran act remains as vital as ever. Returning to the valley Black Breath delivers a lesson in sonic violence. Their vicious thrust puts the speakers to the test but some of their mid paced material lacks the impact of the breakneck
intensity which made them so vital when they burst into the scene a few years ago. The late arrival of Ireland’s Primordial sees their set cut to a mere three songs and while their Celtic bombast is impressive, Kreator’s performance over on Stage Two is a tough act to follow with the German act pulling off a typically crushing set of extreme aggression. The eerie darkness of the valley is the idyllic setting for post metal godfathers Neurosis. Drifting between delicate Neil Young Americana and towering obelisks of distortion, Neurosis have truly transcended all the boundaries which sought to confine their majestic powers. The Oakland quintet’s desolate, earth ravaging soundscapes like ‘Distil’ are powered by shaman like vocal mantras and dense percussion. Still, even without the visuals of Josh Graham their music is as emotive and raw as it gets with messers Von Till and Kelly as compelling a songwriting team as can be. Colossal finale ‘Locust Star’ is ominous yet triumphant from a seminal act which richly deserves their revered status.
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YOUR AMAZING FESTIVAL REPORTS Saturday 22/06/13
Audrey Horne take the stage like they own it with the party vibe in full swing despite the wet weather.Toschie is a whirlwind of activity and guitarists and Ice Dale exude star power and classic rock cool. Songs like ‘There Goes A Lady’ and ‘Pretty Little Sunshine’ suggest that Europe is catching on to one of Norway’s finest rock exports. The much touted Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats turn out to be a massive anticlimax. While groovy and engaging on record they choose to begin with a couple of slow numbers, showing little ability to connect with the audience with Yotam Rubinger seeming more interested in picking up a joint from a lady in the photo pit than playing their opening number. After this lacklustre beginning, business picks up when ‘Cut You Down’ is introduced but however it’s a poor showing from the much touted act. Let’s hope they perform better when they open for Black Sabbath in July. Witchcraft show us how it’s done having been rumoured to be off the bill due to illness it is great to see the Swedes deliver a ripping
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set of doom flavoured classic rock with frontman Magnus Pelander in fine form looking relieved to be unencumbered by an instrument leaving the soaring fretwork to the able team of Simon Solomon and Tom Jondelius.’Deconstruction’ and the marvellous ‘It’s Not Because Of You’ show an act at the peak of their powers and indeed the whole scene they occupy. The sad news of Neil Fallon’s father passing away meant Down would pull double duty replacing Clutch. Today’s main stage performance sees Phil Anselmo showing his respect to the Maryland act delivering righteous versions of ‘Stone The Crow’ and ‘Losing All’ before the all star Crowbar, Eyehategod, Pantera cover set that Sunday was treated to. Hellenic titans and veterans of Hellfest Rotting Christ pull out a stellar set of melodic black metal before Finns Amorphis put cuts from new opus Circle to the test which they pass with flying colours such is the power of tracks like “Nightbird’s Song”.
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YOUR AMAZING S RT PO FESTIVAL RE ZI
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Gojira’s power is unfathomable. It is a wonder how the quiet Duplantier brothers formed the best sibling act since a young Sepultura first rose to prominence. ‘Toxic Garbage Island’ and ‘From The Sky’ are fantastic with the lads clearly happy to be on home soil. Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen is a supreme talent however their high drama power symphonics would be of little consequence without his sterling efforts. Over at the Altar, Portuguese Gothic Metallers Moonspell deliver a rich tapestry of numbers delicately woven from their sterling back catalogue with Fernando Riberiro leading the band through towering anthems like ‘Night Eternal’. The folksy ‘Ataegina’ is a surprising addition which, while quite different from the band’s heavier material, has fans square dancing in gleeful merriment. When was the last time you saw a Gothic band that could do this? By contrast Danzig’s set in the Valley, having traded places with Ghost, is somewhat frustrating. Solo anthems Like the raunchy ‘She Rides’ and the appearance of muscle-bound monster man Doyle to treat us to a set of Misfits classics make for great entertainment but Glenn clearly struggles to sing many of the high notes tarnishing a potentially great performance.
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Ghost: Swapping to take Danzig’s headline set on Stage Two was genius. Satanic magic to the masses. Thrilling melodic hard rock meets soaring orchestration. How fitting their first headline set would be Hellfest! ‘Elizabeth’ the hymn to Countess Bathory and more recent incantations such as Beelzebub waltz ‘Secular Haze’ are fantastical worthy alternatives to the pomp and screech of Cradle Of Filth on the Temple Stage. In pitch dark under a full moon having begun well after the witching hour, it’s a fittingly memorable way to conclude the epic 2013 edition of Hellfest. ‘Stand By Him’ explains it all. It’s the night of the witch tonight! Able to improvise, providing a fantastic spectacle and catchy songs to boot. Believe the hype. Satan commands you! Shockingly the pa shuts down during ‘Genesis’ temporarily banishing the Ghouls from the spotlight. Thankfully they emerge triumphantly for ‘Year Zero’. The towering ‘Gulleh/Zombie Queen’ and ‘Monstrance Clock’ conclude a set in which nothing could derail an act which looks set to enjoy all the success acts like Slipknot have attained. A magnificent conclusion to an event the dark lord would smile upon.
LIVE REVIEWS BOERDERIJ ZOETERMEER T H E N E T H E R L A N D S JULI 11TH
Words: Lorraine Lysen, Photos: Susanne Maathuis
The Boerderij in Zoetermeer was host to a very special acoustic evening with Antimatter and Anathema. These two bands are closely intertwined, as former bass player and songwriter for Anathema Duncan Patterson was one of the founding members of Antimatter. Anathema’s Daniel Cavanagh also appeared on Antimatter’s fourth studio album Leaving Eden. Antimatter’s members for this evening were Mick Moss and Vic Anselmo, who performed a lovely set of songs on acoustic guitar and keys respectively. Their dark ambient style worked amazingly well acoustically, and they provided a beautiful delicate start to the evening. Vocally they were a wonderful match, with Moss’ clear voice being complemented perfectly by Anselmo’s deep harmonies. She also occasionally embarked on some vocal solos, and performed a song on her own, where the quality of her singing was excellently displayed. In between the songs, Moss provided the audience with jokes and witty remarks. All in all, this was a perfect act to warm the crowd before Anathema hit the stage. Having started as a death/doom metal band, Anathema has changed styles over the years and currently create atmospheric prog. This evening saw the band consist of only three members, Daniel and Vincent Cavanagh, and Lee Douglas. The music was brought together in a very interesting way: rather than just play a regular acoustic show, Daniel added percussion and rhythm guitars through a looping system, or switched to keyboard duty, while Vincent occasionally used a synthesiser effect on his guitar. This did sometimes lead to mix ups when Danny decided the tracks weren’t lined up absolutely perfectly, but they did an astounding job of recreating their music. They explained that this was rather different from how they were used to playing, and also wildly different from the show in Bulgaria, where they performed with an entire orchestra, and which will be released on DVD later this year. In song choice, they played a lot of crowd pleasers, from their latest albums: Opening with ‘Thin Air’, they immediately got the audience enthusiastic. ‘Untouchable’ made for a wonderful sing-along moment, ‘Dreaming Light’, ‘The Beginning Of The End’, and ‘Flying’ were also very memorable. They even forayed into their past music, and played ‘Lost Control’ and ‘Parisienne Moonlight’, both songs from their more gothic period. They also played a couple of covers, namely Pink Floyd’s ‘High Hopes’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Big Love’, and The Beatles’ ‘Oh! Darling’. After the cathartic combo of ‘Last Goodbye’ and ‘Fragile Dreams’, they played another cover as encore; namely Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’. This was a truly spectacular show: Vincent’s vocals were absolutely spot on, from the emotional ‘ OneLast Goodbye’ to the powerful ‘Untouchable part 1’. Lee vocals were staggeringly good, and I was more than happy that she got to sing songs on her own this evening, ‘Parisienne Moonlight’ and an amazing rendition of ‘Oh! Darling’. Daniel’s backing vocals were also very good, and he often enticed the crowd to sing along. During ‘Flying’ the audience was singing for such a long time that the band even had time to wander off stage. I cannot but conclude that this is one the most amazing bands to see live. From their camaraderie on stage and audience interaction to their incredible technical ability and amazing talent, they will provide you with an evening to remember.
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LIVE REVIEWS EINDHOVEN E F F E N A A R JULY 2ND Words: Lorraine Lysen, Photos: Susanne Maathuis Unfortunately, initial headliners Clutch reported having family problems, and were forced to cancel for tonight. The remaining three bands, Komatsu, The Sword, and Red Fang, were given extra stage time, and while Clutch was sorely missed, these bands’ shows more than made up for their absence. Opening for this evening are local sludge and stoner metallers Komatsu. This four piece band released their first full-length album Manu Armata this February, and did a good job of warming up the crowd. My main criticism of this band is that most of their songs didn’t end, they just stopped. I would have liked more of a build up towards the end, so that the audience doesn’t stand around awkwardly for a few seconds before clapping. Despite this, the music has a delightful groove, and the vocals fit in well rhythmically. It is always nice to see a lady on drums, and having a bass player with good stage presence is another plus. All in all, I think this band played a good show, and has potential to become even better. With the crowd warmed up, it was time for The Sword to hit the stage, and blow our minds. The venue was filling up nicely, and from the first notes there were heads bobbing rhythmically as far as the eye could see. It didn’t take too long for the first cheerful mosh pit to be formed. This band from Austin, Texas brings stoner back to the 70s, with a great fusion of classic rock and modern stoner. They performed with such an infectious energy and enthusiasm that it was hard not to dance. Musically they worked very well together, with great classic guitar solos and dual riffs, mixed with heavier stoner sections and rhythms. They even had a very well-balanced and interesting drum solo, which fitted perfectly in the set list. This band puts a swing into stoner that I did not know was possible. Then it was finally time for Red Fang, a band who certainly deserved to be in the spotlight as the new headliner. Playing songs from their two albums, Red Fang and Murder the Mountains, these rockers are tacking the stoner world by storm. The crowds went wild over songs as 'Hank Is Dead', 'Wires', and, of course, 'Prehistoric Dog'. Every single song seemed to be a crowd pleaser, and much beer was thrown. The mosh pit was probably the most amazing one I’ve witnessed so far, with massive grins on everyone dancing around within. Even better were the smiles of the musicians themselves, who seemed almost overwhelmed by the response at times, and often repeated what a great time they were having at this show. The show was incredibly tight, with songs in rapid succession, and the music being absolutely spot on. The energy was amazing, and I’ll freely admit that this performance was even better than the one they gave at Roadburn last year. With each song, the moshing seemed to grow more cheerful, and it wasn’t long before the first tentative crowd surfer made his appearance, soon to be followed by numerous surfers every song. I hope this band will soon get the recognition they deserve, and I am glad they had the opportunity to headline a show, as they are clearly able to pull it off. That was one impressive performance.
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LIVE REVIEWS GREAT SCOTT ALLSTON MA MAY 2ND
Words: Sean Genovese, Photos: Hillarie Jason
Ever been so angry that the only way to solve your problems was to almost punch people in the face? “Get out there and show me what you got” is the word of the day, and I know that’s more like a phrase, but fuck you, I can’t play by the rules when there’s killing to be done. The anti-festivities opened with local grind-your-fucking-head-in crew Hivesmasher, still swinging tracks from their fantastic new album like a hatchet made of bees. Not to be confined to any genre, Hivesmasher mixes a little bit of every type of extreme metal and hardcore. From the chugging breakdowns of “Damaged (P)Inc.” to the eerie Black Metal section of “Vulture Assassin”, the punk’n’grind of “En Route To Meatland”, etc., they keep your mind active and challenged with dizzying technicality and heavier-than-thou breakdowns to make your perception of how music should sound sink. I can’t see them enough times; I like how they abuse my ears. Up next were California’s expert purveyors of pure hell, Early Graves, making heavy and chaotic hardcore a threat again. I’ve yet to hear anyone talk bad about the boys in Early Graves, because there’s literally nothing bad to say. Dark, pummeling rhythms, thrash inflected punk rhythms with a groovy undercurrent holding it all together, and blasphemous howls and shouts handled by The Funeral Pyre’s own John Strachan. Since Makh Daniels’ untimely death in 2011, they’ve only gotten more pissed off and yet, all the more sober in their trademark assault on the senses. The pit was alive, but understandably, people were trying to save their strength for Xibalba, a wise move considering that they’re not for the faint of muscle. I wasn’t feeling like dying, so I sat back for this one and listened to the havoc being wreaked up front. The ruckus was brought to the extent that apparently security guards decided to secure, but during Xibalba, securing isn’t on the agenda. Only pain and the avoidance of it. Vocalist Nate apparently wasn’t a fan of the attempt to create a safe (read: unfun) environment. ‘Gittin’ ignant’ is what kids do, and stopping it is a death sentence ‘round these parts. And now for Nails. Oh your fake lord. Nails is the sound of a fist going through a face, skull, brain and all, and emerging out the other side into an angry god’s mouth to be bitten off and burned in a furnace of a belly, the ashes scattered throughout and absorbed into steams of boiling vitriol flowing through sewer veins. It’s negative as fuck. Sure, “Suffering Soul” might be a song about using art to make yourself feel better, but that throwdown section at the end doesn’t make me wanna paint, bitch. this being my fourth time seeing Nails, I’ve witnessed their transformation from a band with an air of almost impenetrable mystery and brooding darkness that made them seem beyond human. Todd Jones never talked onstage, and you were lucky if you saw any of the members prowling about the venue making casual conversation. Now it seems like even though Nails’ music has stayed a churning sea of blastbeats, breakdowns, and harder-than-everything howls, they’ve blossomed as performers. Between song banter is now a thing, and I even caught old man Jones smile a few times. Once he even requested a pit for a song that had no clearly defined mosh part. He didn’t get it, but he still seemed happy to play it. Since the release of the new album, Abandon All Life, and the steady workflow including a split with Skin Like Iron and rerecording choice tracks from the Obscene Humanity LP, their burgeoning discography is becoming a neato source of workout music, both in the pit and at home for all who like to living room mosh. Needless to say, there was a good amount of punching, kicking, and general running around. Every time I see them it gets more intense, so I expect that one day I’ll scarcely be able to enter the battleground, for want of room to not knock people’s teeth out or get mine knocked out in turn. Mosh or get moshed upon, that’s the law, yer done. Indeed, it can only get better from here, so here’s to more of that.
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Nails Xibalba Early Graves Hivesmasher
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LIVE REVIEWS LONDON T H E G A R A G E JULY 2ND
Words: Marcus J. West, Photos: Fabiola Santini
The Australians are back: it was not too long ago that Thy Art Is Murder took over the Barfly in London with a state of the art performance in the name of pure, lethal, extreme death metal. Tonight’s sold out show at the upstairs level of The Garage proves that the quintet is here to stay: their second full length, Hate sanctioned them as one of the most promising extreme death metal band around. The evening starts somewhat a bit too slow with local lads Arcania in the role of crowd-warmer, it’s no easy task to open when a very early door time leaves the venue sparsely filled. But as DripBack take possession of the unfenced stage, things change. Despite some minor technical problems to start with and the absence of guitarist Luca Grdax (not to worry, it’s nothing permanent, Luca could not make this show), the squad stomps on stage with conquering confidence, keeping the rhythm as insanely reckless as humanly possible. The crowd knows these fearsome Londoners too well and clearly worship them with utterly steadfast cheers, matching the energy onstage with a very tempting mosh-pit. The mood is now set, the audience is now well ready for the headliner but not before Demoraliser delivers an ok set with their cheerfully aggressive hardcore. Demoraliser are definitely competent but it’s hard to match DripBack stage presence. The venue is now filled at what looks like double of its capacity. As Thy Art Is Murder gets ready with guitarists Any Marsh and Tom Brown setting their weapons alight, the down-front raging is rising. After blasting into ‘Defective Breed’ in all its potency, with a hooded Chris Mcmahon stomping on stage like a freed entity from the netherworld, Thy Art Is Murder proceed to deliver soon to become classic grinders such as ‘Dead Sun’ and ‘Unholy Sermons’ in all their contagious slating fury. None can avoid the nightmarish extremity they effect. The venom of drummer Lee Stanton is astonishing. The set becomes an unique, special event: when it all comes to an end on such a hugely uplifting note, Mcmahon & co. greet a cheering audience, nobody is clearly willing to let them go easily. Thy Art Is Murder , the Australian destroyers remind everyone what a brilliant band they are, they must come back for more, very soon.
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RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE NIKLAS KVARFORTH
(SHINING SE) Guns Nâ€™ Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Without doubt the best rock album ever made. Appetite actually made me want to become a musician myself, however, a guitarist, as Slash was, and still is, my biggest hero. Also, more importantly, this album itself showed me a world of danger and ruthlessness I had never previously witnessed.
Carola - Carolas Jul
It should not be a secret by now that I am a huge fan of Christmas music in general. However, this 1991 LP has haunted me since its release, begging me to follow its eerie call. The A side is in particular otherworldly, while the B side gets a bit too strange for my liking these days. Carola actually made several follow-ups, but nothing comes close to this.
King Diamond - The Spiderâ€™s Lullabye
Most people would say Abigail has to be their main source of inspiration. And yes, that is a fantastic album and has also inspired me in many ways, as has the whole King catalogue for that matter. However, it was this particular entry on their discography that made me the musician I am today.
Burzum - Filosofem
Most people would say Abigail has to be their main source of inspiration. And yes, that is a fantastic album and has also inspired me in many ways, as has the whole King catalogue for that matter. However, it was this particular entry on their discography that made me the musician I am today.
Kent - Hagnesta Hill
When this album was released I had been fed up with metal in general for quite some time and was looking for other ways to execute my own visions rather than trying to make another De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas or whatever. The whole pop-structure had a huge impact on me.
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GhOST CULT 63
GUEST EDITORIAL After Motorhead and Black Sabbath, Rush, and, to a lesser extent, Iron Maiden and the Big 4 are done, there will be a yawning gap in metal and in rock, in terms of touring bands. What bands could seriously come to your town and fill a stadium for a performance? Who has been played on regular pop radio, as well as metal radio, at key points in the lives of those with whom you work, who would go to a stadium show for just one song, as casual fans of Metallica do? Can you have a casual chat about any given song in a pub, like you can with AC/DC, or Rush, or even Motorhead? I’m betting you can’t think of one modern band. And if you can, certainly not a handful. It’s a sad thought, when you realise just how many of the bands you listen to are incredible songwriters and, in some cases, forefathers of their genres.The issue of arena rock bands disappearing has been of gradually increasing concern for music writers, with features and forums appearing here, there and everywhere over the past couple of years. What really makes me fey is the notion that, despite there being a lot of major bands in the world, a lot of touring bands, we have to realise that the day of the stadium band is actually done. People are trying to pin the reasoning for the lack of arena rock down to The One Reason
To Explain It All, but it is not a simple matter. The truth is that there are lots of factors: social factors, industry factors, personal factors, that make the rise of new arena rock bands extremely unlikely. It will remain unlikely until something about modernity changes dramatically to create the conditions that will encourage it again. And no, you can’t just blame the Internet, ethereal absorber of all of our shames and frustrations. While many writers and fans blame the lack of financial rewards, and others blame the changing nature of society, in terms of lack of groupies, I think that these - including the Internet reason - are vast over-simplifications. The internet, while frequently the easy-toblame option for the death of everything from retail stores to books, is partly to blame; just as there are partial blame layers in other areas. Kids now don’t know what it’s like to have to save for a CD when they can just download it; there is no point going to a big show and forking out hundreds of dollars when you can see it in better quality, at no expense, in the comfort of your own home, on YouTube. The groupies notion I am not even going to entertain, because it is ridiculous. Sure, there are no groupies now like there used to be (thanks, HIV epidemic of the 1980s!). People
BY LETICIA GhOST CULT #10 J U ly 2013 64MOONEY
play music (just like they dance, and write, and make film, and paint) for themselves, and not for the fact that they might get a root out of it. Sexualising rock is one thing, but sexualising it to the point where you’re blaming the decline of arena rock on the lack of fucking, and you are a retard. Blaming the decline of arena rock on financial elements has vastly more validity. Yet, even though this is valid, it is easy to fall into an over-simplification trap here, too. In thinking about financial elements, many writers will fall into the Music Industry Budget trap, into which feeds the People Don’t Buy Music argument. The real story about the financial impact is much more far-reaching and complicated than this. Due to financial restrictions, venues do not always accept bands that don’t already pull a crowd; and bands can’t always book gigs without a given return. Losing money is a big scare factor in this day and age: we work so hard to make it, and it literally melts away. Think about how much play money is left out of your weekly pay. Where, in the 1970s, when arena rock was becoming a big thing, rents in Australia were approximately 10% of a person’s weekly income. Now, just rent alone takes 50-60% of your weekly income. Just for
a roof over your head. People are generally just keeping their heads above water, let alone having enough money to fund band efforts, from either the performance or audience side of the barrier.
The internet plays a reductionist part, in removing an income stream from artists in one sense. But it also creates other income streams, for savvy artists: from crowdsourced album and tour funding, to greater distribution of cheaper releases. Merchandise is a key part of tour income now, but artists simply cannot continue to blame the internet for their failure to rise to high significance, or for their lack of money. Money issues are part of a broader social problem, which impacts negatively on bands, whether they realise it or not. The internet is also partially responsible for a restricted notion of PR and marketing. Marketing online, and especially through social networks, totally bypasses the casual buyers who do not frequent the same spaces as active fans. Bands are increasingly disregarding fistfuls of marketing channels, including radio, in-stores, print, posters in stores, and other various marketing channels that always used to drive bands to greater heights.
A directly financial impact, too, is a lack of drive to actually play gigs. The great Rock Age stadium bands worked really hard, all the time. They played shitty, low-brow clubs, the more often, the better. They played with bands they didn’t gel with, just to get gigs. They toured hard, played hard, and were always visible. But with the lack of play money in society, more and more rules and laws around what is acceptable on what days of the week, and with clubs’ restrictions, it’s hard to do this. People don’t get residencies in clubs any more, and rock bands find it harder to get these gigs (when they do exist) than others: especially if they play unique works.
The desire and direction of the music industry itself also plays a part, and one that people tend to disregard for fear of being simplistic. Is the fact that there are fewer and fewer stadium acts a result of no bands, or of a restricted view by key players in the industry? Is it because the industry itself is not willing to put its money where its mouth is and push rock acts like it used to? Is it because dealing with one major performer, in the form of a pop singer and a computer or array of cheap backing musicians is cheaper to tour, than is a band of four or five with full backline? I suggest that all of the above are clear and decisive factors.
Factor in also an inability for new and young bands to write actually good music, and you have an even bigger problem. What band that you know has songwriting to last the ages, a visual appearance that is striking and curious, that writes unique, sexy, brilliant rock to appeal to all ages, and all types? Is there a band that you know of, with a front man who really knows his stagecraft? What bands do you listen to regularly are fairly new on the scene (e.g. the last ten years), who have an absolute, untouchable uniqueness? Not goddamned many, that’s for sure. Uniqueness is tricky, because all things come from the influences of all other things; but good songwriting, good stagecraft, a unique sense of self, an appeal that goes beyond immediate fans and into broad society... all these things are simultaneously possible and absent. With all of the above going on at once, is it any wonder that arena rock is not even a thing any more? It is tempting to reduce arguments about the end of the Stadium/Arena Rock Age to some simple originating point, but it is not productive to do so. Such arguments are rarely simple, and encompass nearly every part of society. What we do know is that the Arena Age of rock is passing very quickly. Once the greats like Motorhead are gone, there is really nobody left to replace them.
JUly 2 0 1 3 #10
GhOST CULT 65