May 20th, 2013
The Palladium, Worcester MA
This year marked the fifteenth anniversary of the famed New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. The festival is held annually at the Palladium in Worcester Massachusetts. Back in 1999 it started out rather small with only fifteen bands on one day. This year founder Scott Lee and the rest of the crew went all out with over fifty bands for a whole weekend.
The Festival was split into two areas; downstairs was occupied by the metalheads while the upstairs belonged to the hardcore crowd. The funny thing about this was that the bands I witnessed upstairs often sounded similar. While this was not a bad thing, it was different from the different strains of metal being blasted down below my feet. The crowds themselves even appeared to respond to the music in different ways. For instance, the people upstairs either stayed in one spot or did some of their best karate type moves in a pit close to the front. Downstairs there were people up against the rail headbanging with some jumping around. The real mosh pits would come later in the evening.
The big names started to play around quarter of four. Relative newcomers HOLY GRAIL took the stage at this time. In my review of Ride the Void back in January I gave them an A for creating an album that’s nearly flawless from beginning to end. The live performances of those songs certainly didn’t disappoint either.
BLACK BREATH came on next. The audience seemed to enjoy the set since it was obviously the kind of music they had come for. However, they did not seem as excited as they had been for HOLY GRAIL. The band was best described as having elements of thrash and death metal.
The first thing that those who have never seen SHADOWS FALL before notice is lead singer BRIAN FAIR’s lengthy dreadlocks. With a style like that concertgoers knew they were going to get a lively performance. Out of all the bands that had played, their set made the most use of lights.
Dave Witte crushes it live for MUNICIPAL WASTE!
A point of excitement for most was when thrashers MUNICIPAL WASTE took the stage. With a sense of humor like front man TONY FORESTA’s, who wouldn’t have a good time? To add to the fun of their set, it all ended with a shower of confetti. They were the only band of the night that could get away with it.
The most honored bands of the night started with an act that many argue should be part of the Big Four: EXODUS. Aside from having KIRK HAMMETT having been a member at the band’s beginning, they are also one of the bigger thrash bands to have come out of California. One reason why they may not be a part of the Big Four is that they don’t sound too similar to the bands that do make up the group. It may also be because they’ve had some major complications in their history. Despite it all, fans were calling out for them while the stage was being set up. During their set tables and seats were shaking like an earthquake was taking place. Song choices such as “War is My Shepard” seemed appropriate given how everyone felt about the Boston manhunt occurring that day. They played with constant energy and had a blackout at the end for a strong effect.
ROB DUKES of EXODUS
As they said it themselves, EVERY TIME I DIE was there to provide the pure hardcore portion of the evening. They didn’t seem to generate as much excitement as EXODUS which made it tough for them to follow the act. Fortunately the audience’s energy gained as the set progressed. The players didn’t let the audience’s lack of initial enthusiasm affect them. In fact they were almost constantly jumping and headbanging in sync. Their act finished with them getting the audience to join them in a good old “U.S.A.” chant. Although I wasn’t familiar with them I appreciated their song choices and titles such as “Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space.”
JAMEY JASTA and HATEBREED put on a great set!
There was a bit of wait for HATEBREED to come on but fans still had their energy. Attendees knew things were getting serious when a personal banner was used for their set. Although HATEBREED is considered hardcore by many I heard enough metal in them that qualifies them as walking the line between the two genres. They were certainly harder than most of the other bands that played that day. Right from the start the crowd was jumping. It was impressive to see the band manage to fit twenty songs including “In Ashes They Shall Reap”, “Destroy Everything”, and “Everyone Bleeds Now” into their hour long set.
ANTHRAX played all of the seminal “Among The Living” album.
When the banner for ANTHRAX’s Among The Living was revealed the crowd instantly became excited. As promised, the band would play through the entire album but not each track consecutively. This year the album is celebrating its 26th anniversary. Some of the well known tracks from it are “Among the Living”, “Caught in a Mosh”, “I Am the Law”, “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)”, “A Skeleton in the Closet”, and “Indians”. All these songs are reasons why many claim that it is the best ANTHRAX album. It is also considered their breakthrough and is currently certified gold. “I Am the Law” is notably based off the character Judge Dredd just as the man from “Among the Living” is based off of the main villain from Stephen King’s The Stand. “Indians” and “Caught in a Mosh” have always been audiences favorites to get their mosh on and who can argue with them? It seemed like the show was almost too big to be playing a venue the size of the Palladium.
JOEY BELLADONNA of ANTHRAX
ANTHRAX fans know that big news was made fairly recently when longtime lead guitarist ROB CAGGIANO left to join VOLBEAT. For this appearance JON DONAIS of SHADOWS FALL filled in. Besides that, ANTHRAX didn’t play any differently than before. front man JOEY BELLADONNA still jumps around the stage like he’s in his 20s. Songs that were not from Among The Living included “March of the S.O.D”, “T.N.T.”, “Madhouse”, “Got the Time”, “I’m the Man”, and “Antisocial”. It was fairly surprising for them to do the STORM TROOPERS OF DEATH cover but a real treat for anyone who’s a fan of the band. “T.N.T” was a recent AC/DC cover from their newest album Anthems and a lot of fun. It would’ve been nearly impossible for them to leave without playing the others.
SCOTT IAN and ANTHRAX closed out day one with a great show!
One of the highlights of the set had nothing to do with music but more of why the community of music is so great. An audience member had thrown a Red Sox hat at guitarist SCOTT IAN. He then asked the audience if they knew how hard it was for him to put it on considering he’s from New York. He did anyway and stated that it wasn’t about being a fan of a certain team but coming together in a time like this. All agreed and the band played on.
By Melissa Campbell
June 4th, 2012
After listening to the phenomenal Psalms For The Dead, I decided to hit up Leif Edling to discuss what the future holds for the band as it’s been said that this will be their final album. Read on to find out more.
MAA: So first off, I just heard the new album and I must say it was phenomenal. Was it intentional that you guys kept an overly classic tone that is reminiscent of the late 80’s/early 90’s or did it just come out naturally?
LE: We tried to make an album that didn’t sound like Death Magic Doom. We knew we couldn’t/shouldn’t copy that one so it aimed for a classic touch for the final CANDLEMASS album.
MAA: I read that you guys won’t be splitting up, but that you won’t be making anymore albums. What exactly does this mean? Will you still be playing live?
LE: Yeah…we will be concentrating on the live shows in the future. We can’t just keep on recording and recording…we have nothing left to prove so this is the last one.
MAA: Are there any future tours or one off shows in line for CANDLEMASS? Is there anything special you plan to do as a send off?
LE: We will play some shows this summer. There will be a small tour with Angelwitch in the autumn. I’m sure there will be plenty of shows next year and the year after that. Then it’s the 30th anniversary….
MAA: So what was the 25th anniversary of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus like? Tell us a bit about what you guys did and how you prepared for it.
LE: We rehearsed alot before the shows and Johan did a great job I think. We played in Stockholm, Roadburn, Athens and on the 70 000 tons of metal cruise. Fantastic gigs. Such amazing reception!!
MAA: I know that Doomology was released only a couple years ago, but there are some rumors that there are still unreleased tracks. Is this true? What are (if any) future plans for CANDLEMASS releases?
LE: More tracks? We just released a 5 cd collection of unreleased stuff! Should be enough to keep everybody happy for a long time I think! I’m sure there will be a dvd from the “Psalms” tour, but after that I don’t know.
MAA: So what’s the status on KRUX? Do you plan on bringing them back live since CANDLEMASS will be on semi-hiatus?
LE: Well… KRUX just released an album 6 months ago and CANDLEMASS will still be active, so I don’t think there’s need for another album with any of the bands for a long time. Both bands are playing live. You’re not rid of me just yet
MAA: Are there any other musical projects that you will be a part of in the coming years?
LE: Have no idea. I will be busy with CANDLEMASS so I don’t have any other projects planned. I know there’s talk about a C-mass documentary but so far it’s just discussions.
MAA: To address the elephant in the room, what is the reason behind CANDLESMASS’ hiatus? Will there be any chance of studio albums in the future?
LE: No more studio albums, but lots and lots of gigs for as long as we enjoy ourselves. We love to play and we love this band, so there’s definitely a chance you’ll see us soon at a festival or in a club not too far away.
By Ridge “Deadite” Briel
June 20th, 2012
Evolve – (Artery Recordings)
CHELSEA GRIN, a deathcore outing from the land where fun goes to die (also known as SLC, Utah), has grown (in)famous since their Cesarian section birth in 2007, which divided the Extreme music listening world in two camps: Those who loved CHELSEA GRIN and dug their chugtastic formula, and those who wished an untimely death upon GAZA’s fellow townsmen. I remained impartial, since they haven’t proved themselves worthy of capital punishment, just court jesters in the realm of Deathcore. Boasting two albums and an EPs all in 5 years leads to a lot of rushing, recycling and no time to actually, y’know, write good songs. A challenger by the name of Jason Richardson, hailing from Progressive Deathcore contemporaries BORN OF OSIRIS has joined the ranks, playing guitar better than Ziggy. Could this be the redemption this band needs to go from drab to fab? Could the title of this EP be a sign that they’re done writing the same breakdown over and over, and are willing to push their limits to uncomfortable, but ballsy places? Let’s begin, and mind your head.
“The Second Coming” opens up with some cheesy strings, and a breakdown that sounds as though it was written for BORN OF OSIRIS’ newest release, The Discovery. In fact, the keys, synth accents, and twinkles that decorate the breakdowns like hood ornaments on a tank are telltale signs that Mr. Richardson had a lot of say in how this album was written. It’s almost a note-for-note clone of something that came from BORN OF OSIRIS’ more forgettable tunes, but that’s still a major step up for CG, who were once content to write the wimpiest breakdowns known to deathcore. Speaking of breakdowns, I’d be a fool not to mention that those have actually improved vastly. Where they were once monotonous interrupted chugging, on this track they allow more room for the low end to come in and provide punch. I always said CG would be better if they wrote heavier breakdowns at least. Maybe they read my Christmas letters.
Up next is the track that was released as a promotional tidbit to get everyone excited, “Lilith“. Having heard this when it came out, my feelings were mixed, as this track starts out directly aping their peers SUICIDE SILENCE in every arena, from the vocals to the tempo of the riff and drums that kicks in at about 50 seconds. It’s a bit of a drop in quality for the time being, until Alex’s clean vocals came in. Yes, you heard that right, and if you hadn’t already checked it out, do so at once. Like their pals in ALL SHALL PERISH, BRING ME THE HORIZON, and EMMURE, they’ve decided to break the vocal monochromaticism and inject some soul. Surprisingly enough, they’re not too bad, and the sweep behind them is well written, and not stolen from an earlier song, like so many of them are. Overall, they were wise to put this track out first, even if it doesn’t display the proficiency they keep locked away tighter than a Mormon virginity.
“S.H.O.T.” immediately opens with a jumpdafuckup, proving old habits die hard. Shortly after that nonsense they come back to the BORN OF OSIRIS worship, only to run headfirst into another everybody-fuckin’-bounce, and repeat as needed for pain. CHELSEA GRIN have always liked to tease with being able to play their instruments but then subsequently ignite a bro mosh. This track toggles from melodic technical noodling to wifebeater chugs. Take my pick as to which I liked better.
The opening breakdown to “Confession” sounds like it was written for them by a collaboration between No Time To Bleed-era SUICIDE SILENCE and OCEANO. Pure laziness takes the stage here with some left/right trade-offs and a of sweeping behind the plainly bored breakdown. Following that is what I swear is a splice from the beginning riff of AFTER THE BURIAL’s “Berzerker”, and then another uninspired frat boy chug. Remember, kids, CHELSEA GRIN are actually decent musicians, they’re just part of this ADHD generation. I’m only reviewing an EP, but it feels like that moment in the middle of an album where the band seems painted in a corner of their own good ideas. Vocalist Alex’s vocals aren’t usually particularly good, but it feels like he’s half-assing this song. I can practically hear them phoning in their lunch order by the end.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is CHELSEA GRIN’s pop song (quite literally), and once again, we’ve made The Discovery our main course, gentlemen, and women. Can’t forget the women, that’d be sexist. From this track I get an odd J-Rock vibe, namely bands like D’ESPAIRSRAY and PHANTASMAGORIA, as well as that of a Christcore band by the name of FOR TODAY when they start getting hymnal. It gets a bit repetitive at around the 3 and a half minute mark and if it were shorter, it’d be a perfect celebration of their… evolution. After that is a remix of “The Human Condition”, which is a track I never particularly cared for, and if anything it just sounds even worse, so not exactly essential listening. I suspect they only threw it in so the album would end on a heavier note, but sometimes, like the time honoured sport of coitus, it’s better to go out soft.
THE VERDICT: Ripping off others more talented are in their field and stumbling on gold is what some do best. Just ask Jim Theis.
June 22nd, 2012
A while back we caught up with metal drumming legend Richard Christy to discus his band CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED, his lengthy career in metal and of course to reminisce about his time with CHUCK SCHULDINER and DEATH. Richard was really down to earth, gracious and humble. He deflected most credit or praise about himself and instead talked up his peers and band mates. Since CWOTD is playing The ORION Music And More Festival this weekend and the Death To All Tour also kicks off today, we thought it was a good time to share this lengthy chat.
MAA: At what point of making the first record did you know you would do a follow up?
RC: As soon as we were mixing the first album I started writing music for the next one. I always knew we were gonna do several albums. This was something I came into this as a long term project. I didn’t wanna do just 1 album and that be it. It’s something I believe in and I love jamming with Tim, Steve & Jason. Its really something I looked at as a long term thing and also Metal Blade was really excited about us doing several albums with them so as soon as we finished mixing the first one, cause I was so inspired by the process of the first album with how well it turned out, so I jumped right into it. I knew by writing that early into the process while mixing the first album, I knew I’d have plenty of time to write something better and more epic then the first album.
MAA: Did you set out to write a more musically challenging second record??
RC: Well I definitely knew I wanted it to be longer, cause that was one of the only complaints I heard about it the first album. They loved it but it was very short, they were bummed out there wasn’t more music. Which is a good thing! It kind of left them wanting more. But this time I wanted people to have plenty of music where they couldn’t say ‘oh, it finished before I was ready for it to’ so I wanted to make sure it was a much longer album, but at the same time make sure the songs were really good. We weren’t putting in music just for the sake of it being a longer album. I wanted to make sure that we did it right and luckily, because of me writing the music while mixing the first album as I did, we had plenty of time and everything flowed really well.
MAA: What is the difference between Jason Suecof the producer versus Jason Suecof the band mate?
RC: He was the first person I called to be in this band. I’ve know him since ’99 and we’ve been jamming together ever since we met. Actually we’ve been writing music together right around that time he was building his studio as well. I know how amazing of a musician he is in addition to being an amazing producer and I was excited that now here’s a band that he can play guitar AND produce! People get to hear what a shredder he is and he has got such an amazing ear for music I really excited he’s a well known producer now. I always knew there was something special about him his a really talented guy. He’s a massive part of the sound of this band.
MAA: Are their any modern metal drummers you appreciate and follow?
RC: Absolutely!The drummer for JOB FOR A COWBOY (Jon Rice) is incredible! The drummer for THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER (Shannon Lucas) is amazing! There’s so many great drummers these days and it’s amazing that drummers are still pushing the boundaries of what drumming can do. George Kollias from NILE is one of my all-time favorite drummers and when you watch him, it doesn’t even seem humanly possible some of the stuff he’s playing. I remember meeting him when he was a young kid when DEATH played Greece and now he’s an incredible drummer. It’s inspiring to see how far he has come and there’s also a lot of drummers I admired growing up that are still incredible like Dave Lombardo & Charlie Benante. I saw The Big 4 show at Yankee Stadium and they were just amazing! There are so many great drummers still doing it. Mikkey Dee is still amazing in MOTORHEAD and a lot of the drummers at the Drummers’ Collective where I rehearse. I’ll walk by a room and hear a drummer shredding and I almost wanna go in and ask them who they are and what they do, but I don’t wanna interrupt them. (laughs) It’s really cool to see younger drummers being influenced by people like Pete Sandoval (MORBID ANGEL) and people who also influenced me.
MAA: I was at The Big Four too. I think Charlie Benante just keeps getting better!
RC: Dave Lombardo too! He did the “Angel of Death” drum solo and added this really cool snare thing that blew me away! It’s 10 or 15 seconds longer than on the album. He did this thing with the kick and the snare (imitates the sound of a complicated drum fill) that blew me away. It’s cool and inspiring that no matter how long you’ve been at it, you can still improve and get better. So watching guys like him and Charlie Benante, that inspires me.
MAA: You did limited touring on the first album. Any chance we will see the band hit the road more to support the new album?
RC: Yeah, were in talks to do some shows this year and hopefully we can make everyone’s schedule work! It is tough and I totally understand that. That was one of the things I took into account when I formed this band. I didn’t want one or two members of the band waiting around for everyone else to do something. I choose guys that have jobs and are as busy as I am. So we totally understand that if someone has some kind of scheduling thing where they do a show or tour. Hopefully we’ll have some announcements very soon. Were talking about doing some festivals in the US and Europe and hopefully some in South America and Japan (Editor’s note: this interview took place before ORION Music Fest was announced). I’d be totally psyched if we could do a ton of shows!
MAA: What do you think of the DEATH reissues?
RC: I love them! The Human one is incredible! There’s a lot of stuff that Sean (Reinert) does on the remix that you couldn’t hear in the original mix. A lot of tom stuff that comes out, like in the chorus of “Flattening of Emotions”. I love that they’re (Relapse) re-issuing these albums, it just sounds amazing, especially the bass! I was glad they turned the bass up on Human! The bass is incredible on that album, but you can hardly hear it on the original mix. It’s cool that Jim Morris has went back and remixed those albums. They sounded incredible back then but now you can hear so much more of it, there’s way more textures in it.
Richard played on TSOP album and two live albums with DEATH.
MAA: Who is a better boss Chuck or HOWARD STERN?
RC: Oh, they’re both awesome bosses. Its an honor it be involved with two of my idols and you know, I can never really compare them. I mean Howard I’ve been a fan of since 1993 and Chuck I’ve been a fan of since 1990 when I first heard Spiritual Healing. I’m very fortunate to be involved in both and it’s two totally different spectrums. One is music and one is entertainment and so I’m very lucky that I’ve had both as bosses. I’d never be able to choose, I love them both. They’ve given me so many great opportunities and I’m very thankful.
MAA: Do you ever think about your legacy in the history of metal?
RC: I’m very honored to be have played in the bands I’ve played in and to have toured the world with like DEATH, ICED EARTH, DEMONS & WIZARDS and INCANTATION. I’m very lucky when I was in my 20′s I got to travel the world and see a lot of stuff and have fun and play a lot of big shows. It’s amazing when I think back, but at the same time I wanna keep looking forward and not settle on things I’ve done. I look at people like PAUL MCCARTNEY, who puts out new albums. He’s a guy who’s pretty much the most influential person in music ever, him and JOHN LENNON and he’s still writing music and putting out albums. He still loves it and he has the passion for it and he doesn’t settle on what he’s done. That’s kinda of how I look at it. I’m thankful for what I’ve done, but now I wanna keep doing more. With CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED, I’m lucky enough to be able to write the music and the lyrics and before I definitely had a say in what I was doing in the bands I was in before. For this band I’m able to even write the riffs and things like that. It’s a totally new thing for me and I’m really excited by it. I’m honored by all the bands I’ve ever played with. Everyone always asks me what my favorite drumming performance of mine is and its definitely The Sound of Perseverance by DEATH. I was practicing five hours a day when we recorded that album and I was at the top of my game. I don’t know that I’ll ever be that good again. So I look at the album, when somebody asks me what is my proudest moment in drumming and it is definitely that album.
Chuck was Richard’s best friend, a legend and a great cook!
MAA: Do you have any good Chuck stories to pass along?
RC: He was such an incredible person, he was my best friend. He had such a great sense of humor and people always want to hear a funny Chuck story. There’s so many stories I have of Chuck its hard to choose a favorite. I just love the stories of us just writing music and practicing at our rehearsal space in Orlando. There was this guy named Dave who owned the place, he was a big furry, harry guy. He would walk around in a robe with nothing under it and Chuck & I would just laugh every time we would see this guy. He lived at the rehearsal space where we rented. We’d go down and pay our rent and he’d be in this hot tub. (laughs) We’d go to Chuck’s after practice and Chuck was an amazing cook, and he also made homemade beer. He made some of the best beer that I’ve ever tasted. I have so many good memories of us doing that and watching Saturday Night Live, then listening to some vinyl albums. He had such a huge collection. We’d listen to amazing stuff like RIOT, IRON MAIDEN and WATCHTOWER. He was just a fun guy, he had an awesome sense of humor. He loved his family very much. I still stay in touch with his family. There’s just too many memories to whittle it down to one. He really was just the most talented musician I’ve ever met, he was my best friend and I miss him every day.
MAA: Thanks for sharing that!
RC: You’re welcome. He was really humble too. He was a metal fan as much as anything else. I remember us getting to meet KING DIAMOND in St. Petersberg, Florida years ago. We were such huge KING DIAMOND fans. Chuck had never met or seen KING DIAMOND before. I hadn’t met him either, although I saw MERCIFUL FATE live before. And Chuck knew Andy LaRocque, so he was gonna introduce us right before the show. I have an awesome picture of Me, Chuck, Andy and KING DIAMOND. I remember that night, it was so cool. Chuck was just as nervous as me to meet him. It was like two legends meeting for the first time and for me to be a part of it, it was amazing. There was another time we were going to play Italy for the first time. When Chuck walked off the bus there were like 200 kids waiting for DEATH to arrive. It was like THE BEATLES had showed up. Chuck thought it was really neat! Then we walked a couple of blocks to eat, these kids followed us and chanted Chucks name the whole way in the street. Then all these kids pressed their faces against the window of the restaurant. Chuck got a real kick out of that! He was a metal fan as much as he was a metal legend.
MAA: Thanks for being cool and thanks for your time!
RC: I’m just like every body else, I’m just a metal fan. I’m no different then anybody else, everybody is equal as far as I’m concerned.
Richard is rumored to be appearing at the New York date of the “Death To All” Tour on 6/28.
(Thanks to Richard Christy and Metal Blade Records.)
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
June 22nd, 2012
SickDrummer.com, Perseverance Holdings and our friends at Relapse Records are among the sponsors of the DEATH TO ALL TOUR which kicks off tonight in that most metal of cities San Francisco, CA. The tour celebrates the life and music of CHUCK SCHULDINER of DEATH. With DEATH and later CONTROL DENIED Chuck blazed an innovative trail in music and has been followed by nearly every death metal that followed in his shadow. This is not an exaggeration, but widely acknowledged and not just by his peers and loved ones, but by many bands both from yesterday and the present. Performing music from a career spanning set list with be an all-star group of Chuck’s former band mates and giants of death metal like GENE HOGLAN (Individual Thought Patterns/Symbolic), SEAN REINERT (Human), STEVE DIGIORGIO (Human/Individual Thought Patterns), Scott Clendenin (The Sound of Perseverance), PAUL MASVIDAL (Human), Shannon Hamm (The Sound of Perseverance), and Bobby Koelble (Symbolic). Handling vocal duties will be by Steffen Kummerer of OBSCURA and Charles Elliott of ABYSMAL DAWN/BEREFT who are both greatly influenced by Chuck. Some of the guest artists who will join certain shows are RICHARD CHRISTY of CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED (ex-DEATH), Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy of TESTAMENT, Paul Ryan of ORIGIN, Craig Locicero of FORBIDDEN, Travis Ryan of CATTLE DECAPITATION,Trevor Strnad and Ryan Knight of THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER and Emil Werstler of DAATH/CHIMAIRA. GORGUTS will open most of the shows.
Not only will this be a celebration of Chuck’s life, but will help make a lasting impression for the future at every show. Each night is a benefit show to raise awareness for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund which provides support to career musicians in need of support while facing illness, disability or age related issues. This cause hits especially close to home for Chuck’s family and friends and one he’d gladly support. Please come out to this rare opportunity to pay tribute to a legend, see an amazing collection of talent and hear some songs that haven’t been performed anywhere since DEATH was active as a band. Please come out to support this tour and support live music, especially underground bands.
DEATH TO ALL 2012 TOUR DATES:
6/22/2012 – The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA
6/23/2012 – House of Blues – Los Angeles, CA
6/26/2012 – House of Blues – Chicago, IL
6/28/2012 – Irving Plaza – NYC, NY
6/30/2012 – The Beacham – Orlando, FL
*Postponed until 2013* 7/01/2012 – The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
*Postponed until 2013* 7/03/2012 – House of Blues – Dallas, TX
June 26th, 2012
We do not own the copyright on this extremely kickass piece of art!
Have you ever listened to MERCYFUL FATE or a KING DIAMOND album and thought the amazing story telling in those songs would translate to a kick ass graphic novel? Well you are not alone! Graphic artist Mark Rudolph had this same idea and from there it grew until it became a full-fledged project. Entitled Satan Is Alive: A Tribute To Mercyful Fate is a result of a fascination with the band an a love affair with metal music. Not only is this a really cool idea, with the KING himself playing shows again and mounting a comeback, this will be essential for fans to own. To fully bring it to life, Mark has started a Kickstarter campaign so he can properly produce the book in a form worthy of the awesome content. He has not only recruited some of the top artists in the field but also a who’s who in the metal world to bring his vision to life. With just under a week left to the campaign, Metal Army America decided to touch base with Mark, whose art you have no doubt seen in fine publications like Decibel in the USA, Metal Hammer UK, Marvel Comics and other places about the project.
MAA: What inspired you to create the SATAN IS ALIVE project?
MR: I had just adapted an H.P. Lovecraft story into a comic and really liked the process, so I was listening to Mercyful Fate drawing one day and thought “these lyrics would make a rad comic.” A few emails later, I drummed up a lot of interest and it just kind of exploded. I’m mostly known for my metal-related illustrations and I’ve always wanted to do a “metal” comic, so this kind of satiated everything in one book.
MAA: How did you begin assembling the talented writers and artists?
MR: I met Tom Neely last year at a show in Minneapolis and briefly discussed the idea with him and from there it snowballed. I started emailing people and before long I had amassed a pretty impressive list. Even artists I’ve never met before seemed to be really into the idea and no one said no. This whole project is a visual tribute album to Fate and it’s clear in the art, that there is a lot of love in Satan is Alive.
MAA: Why raise money at all to produce physical copies and why choose Kickstarter as a platform?
MR: Physical books still mean a lot to me. As much as I like technology, I like the immersive experience you can only get from a printed book. I am offering PDF copies as well, but the goal is to have nice offset book. I’m using Kickstarter since I’ve had good luck with it in the past. I think it’s a great way to get niche projects funded without forking over all the money yourself. Like my last campaign, I had nearly the whole book completed before I even started the fund raising. I think that’s an important step to let potential backers know you are serious and not just throwing out ideas and hoping some will stick. I think that’s a lousy way to use the service. As of this interview the project is already several hundred dollars over our goal with 7 days to go.
MAA: What are some of the reward tiers you are offering for backers?
MR: Original art, hardcovers, co-publisher, retail bundles, prints and commissioned art. I try and keep it related to the book and not just “extra junk”. The book is the most important part, so I feel the incentives should enhance the book if anything.
MAA: I believe metal fans will be most familiar with your illustrations in Decibel Magazine. (your cover with DANZIG riding a wolf in 2010 is still my favorite issue). Where else can people see examples of your work?
MR: Haha! Thanks. My site cvomics.com has a ton of examples of my work (also portfolio and store), but I also do monthly illustrations for Metal Hammer UK and I’ll have an 8-page story in Henry & Glenn Forever and Ever #2. I’ve also done a bunch of merch design for bands like COALESCE, HELLMOUTH, BEAST IN THE FIELD and many others.
MAA: Any final message to the fans contemplating a donation to SATAN IS ALIVE
MR: With all the recent interest in metal history (Look at Bazillion Points, Choosing Death, etc) I wanted to add to that rich wealth with something totally different. If I really devoted the time, I’m sure I could write a book about a band or a genre, but being more of a visual guy, I thought doing a visual love letter to one of my favorite bands would be more apt. I can’t really think of another metal-related anthology book that’s filled with such a diverse group of artists either. I really need to thank everyone involved that’s made this book possible. If I did it by myself, it would have been about 30 pages and not nearly as rich. With the whole group it feels much more metal!
Mark Rudolph has many works in print, including this book!
You can learn more about the project and donate on the Kickstarter page.
July 3rd, 2012
Draw Back a Stump (Relapse)
It’s happened a million times before. Bands head out on tour together a few times, or play some local shows side by side, and before you know it a couple members from one band and a couple members from the other utter the inevitable: “We should totally do a project together!” Where it goes from there could be any number of directions, but it often boils down to a common two.
The first and most likely destination is nowhere. Everyone goes home, sobers up, and forgets about their drunken expressions of utter devotion to the new undertaking and professions of unleashing fresh fury upon the scene. Second is somewhere, but nowhere good. The new best band mates for life get together and mash their collective influences into a genetic mess of a new genre that even the proud new progenitors don’t like.
But when members of MASTODON, BRUTAL TRUTH, THE DESPISED, and OTOPHOBIA get together, there is a third option. Everyone puts all that other B.S. aside and gets down with some good ol’ fashioned dirty punk and grind. BRUTAL TRUTH’s KEVIN SHARP (vocals), MASTODON’s BILL KELLIHER (guitar), along with MIKE BRENNAN (guitar), DAVE WHITWORTH (bass), and SHAYNE HUFF (drums), are the parts that make up the sum of PRIMATE, a punk and grind super group for people who pierce their eardrums with an ice pick at the mere mention of the term super group.
Draw Back A Stump, PRIMATE’s first full-length, sets the basic, belligerent tone with the title track. Sharp’s maniacal ranting on the tenets of Chaos Theory leads into punked-out pinch harmonic grind riffs spewed forth alongside raw, venomous hatred. But considering the grind pedigree of PRIMATE’s front man, this album is far more punk than grindcore. “Global Division” follows up the initial offering with some hardcore and d-beat with southern inflections, understandable given the band hails from Atlanta. The lyrics are typical socially conscious but no less poignant punk fare—“A world of confusion/We live in delusion”–and Sharp does have a knack for the vocal hook that’s immediate and timely.
Kelliher and Brennan let their southern flags fly in their lead work from time to time, but this is no twangy SKYNYRD love fest. It’s hardcore punk bombast and fist pumping pogo all the way with clean production, four chords, and five lifetime’s worth of scene credibility wrapped up in an airtight and ferocious package. Sharp is always Sharp, whether he’s emitting tortured screams or his one-of-a-kind gruff and honest delivery. Songs like “Silence of Violence” seem to have a bit of Euro-crust influence to them, with semi-melodic hooks and thick, memorable riffs. “Drinking and Driving,” a BLACK FLAG cover, the longest track on the record at just under three minutes, is faithful to the original. PRIMATE’s guitar duo perfectly captures GREG GINN’s acid jazz punk leads while Sharp channels the acerbic anger of HENRY ROLLINS.
There are quick blasts of all out rage to be heard as well, like the 46-second “Get the Fuck off My Lawn.” A more appropriate song title for a group of aging punkers I couldn’t imagine. Metallic moments like the lead riff on “March of the Curmudgeon” rear their ugly heads from time to time as well. Though the band has a Mastodon member in its ranks, there’s nary a progressive hint to be heard.
All in all what we have here is a fitting tribute to classic punk, d-beat, and grind sounds that doesn’t attempt to Mastodon plus Brutal Truth equals some kind of bastard child of beardo progressive rock and angry politico grind. The PRIMATE boys have left their regular gigs at home for this one, for the most part, and decided to make something entirely new, the kind of hardcore they probably all crank in the den in the wee hours once the little ones have toddled off to bed. It’s not breaking any boundaries, but it is a warning shot across the bow of punk gone safe from an old guard that is nowhere near ready to be referred to as the old guard with anything less than the right amount of respect, and they have earned it anew with Draw Back a Stump. Get the fuck off my lawn indeed.
PRIMATE: A super-group that for a change, is really super!
by Joe Reviled
July 4th, 2012
Mnemesis (Nuclear Blast)
MNEMIC has always had a little engine that could story, at least when discussing the band with fans, that’s the impression I have always received. The comparisons were always there, well they’re o.k. but they’re no IN FLAMES, or no KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, or any other metalcore giant you could think of. All of their previous outings showed you glimpses of what the band could do, but it was as if they could never kick things into 5th or 6th gear to put them over the top. That is until the released Mnemesis.
This album is solid start to finish; there isn’t one weak track on it. It runs a little over 43 minutes, and before you know it, it’s over. Very few albums do this to me where you listen to it, and before you know it, the album is over, leaving you wanting more. As usual, you’ll probably have some fickle purist think otherwise, but this album was a pleasant surprise, as I did not expect to enjoy it as much I have.
The album kicks off with the track “Transcend”, and it starts a trend that can be heard on this album, continuous infectious melody that carries over from one track to the next. GUILLAUME BIDEAU pulls off one of the strongest vocal performances to come out this year. He paints each song with strokes of harsh and flips things with straight forward clean vocals. Where most contemporary bands would stick to generic guttural vocals, and throw in rudimentary, paint by numbers chorus on each track, each of the songs on Mnemesis really stand on their own, and could have easily been the leadoff single, instead of “I’ve Been You”.
The album takes some chances here and there, which is what puts it over the top. The track “There’s No Tomorrow” is a song 99% of the current metal crop would be hesitant to put on their album. The track is a mix of FEAR FACTORY, BAUHAUS, FAITH NO MORE and perhaps even a splash of JANE’S ADDICTION. Although a lot of bands will cop to certain influences, it’s one thing to say who has influenced you, and another to say, “screw it, this track kicks ass, it’s going on the album”! If more bands did this we wouldn’t have all of the monotonous drivel, cash in on the latest fad copycat bands that are thrown at us all of the time. Some detractors will think, well it isn’t as if MNEMIC is reinventing the wheel, they’re not, but who in the last 20 years has? At the end of the day the music needs to be strong, entertaining, and memorable. I do believe they’ve covered that with this album.
MNEMIC: You may in fact call it a comeback!
Mnemesis is highly recommended to anyone that is remotely interested in a band like IN FLAMES, and been disillusioned with their last few albums. This is in no way Clayman, but it is the strongest album in this sub-genre to come out this year. It is chock-full of melody, the right amount of keyboards, heavy detuned guitars and bass, and a tasteful amount of drumming that varies from complex double bass patterns to simple straight forward playing to fit and propel the mood of each song.
Victor M. Ruiz
July 5th, 2012
Constantinople (Neurot Recordings)
Los Angeles hard rock trio IDES OF GEMINI make a strong debut with their album Constantinople. The group consists of vocalist SERA TIMMS (BLACK MATH HORSEMAN), guitarist J BENNETT and drummer Kelly Johnston. Timms and Bennett are the founders with Johnston being added to the mix later on. Bennett also writes for the prominent metal magazine Decibel. Although IDES OF GEMINI is simply a side project (for now?), there is much to enjoy with this debut.
Timms’ vocal style is comparable to that of KYLESA’s Laura Pleasants (especially when compared to their track “Forsaken”). There is a slight monotone and accent to Timms’ ghostly voice. This creates a similar sound and phrasing to that of NICO from THE VELVET UNDERGROUND. A good example of this can be heard in the track “Slain in Spirit”. The opening track “The Vessel and The Stake” was well chosen. Timms’ voice gives the listener the feeling of getting taken on a journey or falling down a rabbit hole. Lines such as “I’m going down” and “I’m descending” support and match the sensation. One notable track is the second one in: “Starless Midnight”. Interestingly, it sounds somewhat like it could be off one of THE CRANBERRIES’ albums. This is due to the way Timm phrases her words and how the background vocals tend to echo. It may also be a result of how Bennett’s guitar seems to interact with and support Timms’ voice at certain points. Another standout track appears about halfway through the album, “One to Oneness”. There is a defiant and bold presence coming from this track with Timms delivering lyrics such as “I am the truth”. This appears to be a theme throughout the album.
Overall, the album seems to go by quickly. This could be the result of songs that flow seamlessly. It is easy to get lost in the album. The listener feels like they have just started only to find that they are hearing the final track. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It works to the band’s advantage in a weird way; the listener is left wanting more. There is sure to be more to come from the group with a solid debut like this.
Although the album doesn’t blow the listener away, Constantinople is an easy album to listen to repeatedly and we can expect to hear more about IDES OF GEMINI in the future.
IDES OF GEMINI: Sucks you in rather than blows you away.
By: Melissa Campbell
July 24th, 2012
Remnants of Filth (Willowtip)
There are certain bands whom you wouldn’t mind seeing take a stylistic left turn every once in a while. PHOBIA is not one of those bands. Helmed by SHANE “THE PAIN” MCLACHLAN” for over two decades, PHOBIA has made a long, successful underground career out of melding Hardcore Punk and Crust with their own brand of pioneering and unrelenting Grind. Through over twenty releases, the formula has largely remained the same, and it’s a formula that works, so why tinker with the recipe and fiddle with the knobs? As those in the grindcore scene so succinctly sum up so many of their online postings these days on everything from culinary matters to tour recaps, GRIND! And grind Phobia does on its latest album, Remnants of Filth.
Grindcore reviews can get dicey because, for the most part, grind is grind. You’ve got your slow, building intros that dive bomb into million-mile-an-hour blast beats, trading off low growls and indecipherable shrieks, D-Beat and punk bridges between the blasts, and exhibitions of that snotty punk attitude and sense of humor here and there. PHOBIA displays all of these ingredients in short order throughout REMNANTS OF FILTH, all wrapped up in tight 60-seconds-or-less packages, for the most part, with a couple of outliers here and there. Delving in-depth into 30 or 45-second offerings almost seems farcical, as how does one describe one blasting track after another? The simple fact of the matter is that anyone who calls him or herself a fan of grind will like whatever PHOBIA puts out because they helped invent American grind, and have stuck steadfast to that which they helped forge from the beginning. What’s not to like for your average grind freak?
It is worth noting that the drum work of BRYAN FAJARDO is just about as precise and tight as grind drumming can get. This comes as no surprise when you peruse the man’s resume, which includes such other grind greats as KILL THE CLIENT, NOISEAR, and GRIDLINK. And speaking of NOISEAR, the track “Dementia Having Overdose” does seem to have a bit of that same angular, techy grind FAJARDO’s other band is so known for. Other tracks that stick out from the grind norm include “Submission Hold,” which has the closest thing you might ever hear to a breakdown in a grindcore song. “Resuscitate” is the album’s only true curveball, at about 175 beats per minute slower than the next slowest track on the record.
The rest of this disc focuses around the sped up punk riffs—punk to the core, but anything but sloppy and largely written by MCLACHLAN himself, according to interviews, and honest-to-goodness punk interludes that make up the PHOBIA grind blueprint. This is American grind pioneers doing what they do best, no more and no less. In addition to his rock solid genre-specific songwriting skills, MCLACHLAN also possesses a uniquely natural sounding voice despite oscillating between equally unnatural high and low ends of the spectrum. No matter how high or low he goes, his voice never sounds like it’s about to strain or as though his chords are about to go dry and slam together. A lifetime of screaming must teach a seasoned road dog a thing or two about that.
If there is any gripe with the album, it might be with the seeming over-dependence on movie samples within songs. Just let the music speak for itself; it can stand on its own without a cinematic counterpart. But Remnants of Filth is no doubt a crowd pleaser, with an ample amount of choruses that will allow the live audience to scream and bark along. It’s not an album that does anything other than stick to the standard PHOBIA helped invent. What else could grind fans want?
PHOBIA: If you’re happy and you know it….. oh nevermind.
By Joe Reviled
July 25th, 2012
Malediction (Listenable Records)
Malediction was recorded at long time producer/guitarist Dan Abela’s Legacy London Recordings Studios and this is SARAH JEZEBEL DEVA’s best sounding release to date as a solo artist. Since the last album, The Corruption of Mercy there have been a few changes to the band. Mainly with a new drummer, Damjan Stefanovic and guitarist Azz Inferno. Sarah and the rest of the band sound like they’ve been together forever. If this EP was done to showcase the new blood, then mission accomplished. The cohesiveness they have in such a short time is pretty damn impressive. It makes me mad it’s was just three songs, I’m left chomping at the bit, wanting more.
On “Lies Define Us” SOILWORK front man BJORN ‘SPEED’ STRID joins the mix for a wonder performance. When he kicks in on the second verse, their voices compliment and blend together very well. With Damjans choice grooves on the chorus, Sarah and Speed sound phenomenal. It is probably my second favorite stalker-y song after DANZIG’s “Stalker song”. Martin Powell on keyboards (ex-CRADLE OF FILTH) does a fine job adding extra atmosphere to this whole project.
“When “It Catches Up With You” is the lone track sans guests. Sarah shines like, well a diva with her vast index of vocal ranges. Her style of singing comes off compelling and engaging. It’s more like she is a storyteller than just a vocalist. Bassist AblaZ has a pulsing presence underneath the melody, provided by Sarah. I can see a lot of people doing the Gothic two-step to this track at some nightclub somewhere.
With “This Is My Curse” another former CRADLE OF FILTH band mate and mastermind DANI FILTH, lend this vile vocals for this duet. It’s pretty awesome to hear their usual dynamic flipped around. With her on lead vocals, it’s really nice to hear them together again after a few years apart. The harmonies they pull off are some evil sounding wails. One second I feel I should be in a black robe surrounded by black candles and the next, covered in spikes ready to burn something down.
Lyrically, this is so accessible to anyone with a heart, it’s almost scary. The songs are all about various stages of love, but they don’t come off as cheesy or annoying. This is an EP of pure enjoyment. It is highly listenable, pun intended. If you’re one of the people who do not like female singers in metal, it’s your loss. I want to get my passport and go see SJD and her band live.
SARAH JEZEBEL DEVA leads the new lineup of her band.
by Ojayy Cordy
November 27th, 2012
Live At The Cutting Room (Self-Released)
Throwback. It’s a word not often enough associated with modern hard rock music for my taste. Most bands struggle to properly represent an amalgam of their influences and pour out anything original, let alone inspired sounding. There is just a lack of great, unrepentant, kick-ass rock `n roll bands these days and that makes me sad. Sometimes a band comes along that not only does the history of the style justice, but also has something new to give us too, we the masses that are hungry to rock. That is why the new EP by THE BLACKFIRES has me so pumped up. It definitely answers the question of “what is the future of rock music” with a resounding hail of riffs and cymbal crashes that scream yes!
Recorded live at The Cutting Room in New York City, it is not quite a live show recording in the traditional sense. All the same, true live albums are hard to pull off these days, but the band definitely sounds lively and tight. From the opening snarl of the guitar licks in “Rocker Child” you hear the blend and balance of ZEPPELIN, SABBATH, GUNS, LIZZY, DEEP PURPLE and more along with a modern, rough hewn charm. Aggressive and slick, the track is a great intro to the band for the indoctrinated and would make a terrific set-list starter too based on how vital is sounds. Singer Cheggi channels his inner Plant, Freddy throughout the song and he’s not afraid to back up that front man bravado with his range and delivery. “Gambit” continues the charge with some killer guitar chops on display and more out of this world singing. The song goes through several tempo shifts and dramatic swells that will recall the best of a bygone era in music. Not only is axe-slinging tight, but bassist Ryan Egan holds is down all the time with his colorful playing and thick tone. “Livewire Babies” is a song that will take you by surprise and could be a potential single-type track, in spite of its impressive running time. There is a definitely a lot of AC/DC influence happening there, but I also hear remnants of early SOUNDGARDEN with Cheggi displaying his confidence in his ability. This song also has the best lead guitar work on the album and great lyrics. The key change in the final coda of the song is pure rock royalty in my book. “Just A Thrill” is the dark horse of the album. In addition to its grit and heaviness as a song, it benefits from a killer beat supplied by the bands’ drummer and secret weapon, Ilan Harel. It is such a raw and passion filled song that you almost get sideswiped by the earthy breakdown and eventual rave up to the finale. “Primal Love” closes out the affair. A sprawling, power-ballad with a lot of soul, I think this is a good track to end things with. Fans will have tear in their eye and their lighters out when this one comes on.
THE BLACKFIRES are definitely gunning for the big time with this release and putting a lot of bands in their scene on notice. For more information check out their website here.
THE BLACKFIRES: Bringing the SOUL back to Rock ‘N Roll.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes