Posts Tagged ‘Pantera’
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
My review of Sonisphere will be done in three parts, the first two dealing with the music, and then a third part dealing with the experience as a whole. The Sonisphere in Spain is held in Getafe, which is on the outskirts of Madrid. This year’s edition was held at the Auditorio John Lennon, which is essentially right next to a military base. Due to my commitments as a father, I left home for Madrid later than expected, but got down there right as Lauren Harris’ new band SIX HOUR SUNDOWN hit the stage (made it down in four hours). Now by reading this, you might think I actually got to see her band. I listened to them while in traffic. See I got there and the abundance of parking that was promised was non-existent, as a result I had to park 2 kilometers (almost a mile and a half) away and walk with thousands of others that had been thrust into the same situation by the promoters. All of us were struggling to find the parking lot, when we got there, we found it was full. So if you didn’t get into that lot you had to drive in circles till you found parking on the street, 2 kilometers away! Anyway, more on this in part three, there is plenty to discuss. Now to the music.
By the time I got into the actual festival SIX HOUR SUNDOWN, SKINDRED, KOBRA AND THE LOTUS, RISE TO REMAIN, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, and SONATA ARTICA had already played. By the time I did get in, LIMP BIZKIT was on stage playing “Break Stuff”, and proceeded to play just hits, “My Generation”, “Take A Look Around”, etc. Due to the fact that I got in mid-set there were tens of thousands of people in front of me, so I decided to go to the second stage and wait for KYUSS LIVES! The organizers (Last Tour International) had the brilliant idea that for the first time in the festival’s existence they would have bands overlap one another. So even before LIMP BIZKIT was done KYUSS LIVES! hit the stage. John Garcia, lead singer of the band remarked the fact that it was odd they were playing at the same exact time; he wasn’t the only one to do so during the course of the two days. The band tore through stoner classics that included “Gardenia”, “Supa Scoopa And Mighty Scoop”, and of course “Green Machine”.
Next up was SOUNDGARDEN, I got to see them on Lollapalooza 96 with METALLICA, they were one of many other bands that stopped existing shortly after the tour, RAMONES, and SCREAMING TREES, being the others. I can’t consider myself a die-hard fan of the band, although I enjoy a lot of their material. I either really enjoy their music, or it bores me. That said, I know a lot of SOUNDGARDEN die-hards that were a step away from doing the O face during the band’s performance. Stand out tracks for me included “Jesus Christ Pose”, “The Day I Tried To Live”, “Outshined”, “Rusty Cage” and “Slaves & Bulldozers”. Their set was good, but for me, it was as if some of their tracks broke up the flow of the festival. It was like hitting the breaks all of a sudden, and dragging (the operative word) to a halt. Still a good set, just not someone I’d set out to specifically see.
Here is a little tidbit about the festival culture here in Spain, the headliner isn’t the last band to go on, this is something Burton C. Bell of FEAR FACTORY mentioned at the close of day 2. SOUNDGARDEN were the headliners of day 1. MACHINE HEAD hit the stage next, and if I mentioned that the SOUNDGARDEN die-hards were elated to see their band, the MACHINE HEAD faithful were down right pissed. You know all of this nonsense that Bruce Dickenson says about American crowds, and how in Europe they’re just happy to see you and celebrate? How they don’t care if you only play a greatest hits set? I think you had several thousand people really angry at MACHINE HEAD that would beg to differ. Why you ask? They played 7 tracks, and 5 came from their latest album Unto The Locust. “Imperium” and the closer “Halo” were the only two to not come off of the album. So now you’re thinking wait, they closed with “Halo”? And “Imperium” was the only other song that wasn’t. Where’s “Davidian”? The DJ that came on two hours later emphatically launched into his set and proclaimed “here’s the one MACHINE HEAD forgot” as you can hear Kris Kontos legendary intro. So, I understand both sides of the coin here, if I’m MACHINE HEAD, I’m proud of my latest album, and I want to play songs off of it, but I can also understand the fans, you’re playing seven tracks, and five come off of the new album? I didn’t hear one positive thing about the set afterwards. Spain has always been a strong hold for the band, even when the The Burning Red came out. A generation of Spanish metal heads have grown up in this country with MACHINE HEAD, SEPULTURA and PANTERA being their biggest inspirations. It was also surprising to many that with such a reduced set that Rob Flynn would take several minutes to intro “Darkness Within”. Personally I thought the set was alright, not as good as other times I’ve seen them, not as long either, and the sound was not that loud (more likely the organizer’s fault and not the bands.) I personally enjoyed the opener “I AM Hell (Sonata in C#)”, and the two classics I mentioned “Imperium” and “Halo”.
Once MACHINE HEAD wrapped up, it was off to see doom metallers ORANGE GOBLIN. They were the surprise of the day for me. Although I’ve know the name for a while, I can’t say that I know enough of their catalogue, and will definitely check them out more in the coming days. With this said I did enjoy “The Fog” which came off of their latest release A Eulogy For The Damned.
Letting the music of day one sit with me roughly 48 hours, I’d have to say the day was full of good bands, nothing great and nothing that was over the top memorable. THE OFFSPRING and ORANGE GOBLIN were by far the best acts of the first day.
Victor M. Ruiz
Friday, May 18th, 2012
Kill Devil Hill (SPV)
Late last year I had the opportunity to speak to VINNY APPICE about a new band he was working on called KILL DEVIL HILL. He’s played on so many things; I figured well it’s just another project he’s working on. I’m fairly confident that I’m not the only one to think this as well, a legendary drummer that has played with BLACK SABBATH, DIO, WORLD WAR III, JOHN LENNON, RICK DERRINGER, etc. this is just another project right? Vinny was quick to put me in my place and point out that KILL DEVIL HILL was a band, his band. At that time, I hadn’t heard a single note by the band, but Vinny spoke with a lot of conviction about what I would hear months later. He discussed how the band accidentally came about, and naturally progressed from him and guitarist Mark Zavon jamming. So I was immediately intrigued, wanted to hear what the band was about.
During this conversation I admitted to Vinny that my all-time favorite BLACK SABBATH album is easily the often overlooked Dehumanizer. Why? That’s easy, I’m a drummer, and the crushing drum sound that drives that album is unbelievable. I’ve often wondered why other bands, and SABBATH themselves, have not mixed and recorded another album in a similar fashion. Much to my chagrin, TONY IOMMI mentions in his book how, unless you’re a drummer, you don’t really like the sound of that album. Guess he got me on that one! He mentions that the drums are too bright for his taste. Quite a shame, because that precise sound would have put HEAVEN & HELL’s The Devil You Know over the top.
By the time I was able to speak to REX BROWN, I had already had the album for a few days. During my conversation with him, I was caught off guard by something he said. He mentioned that the album was recorded with Pro-Tools. Now this really doesn’t seem like a big deal, because let’s face it, the majority of the albums that have been released during the last say 15 years have been recorded on Pro-Tools. What’s odd is that the album does not have your typical Pro-Tools recorded linear feel. The album has a lot of range and dynamic, something very atypical with a lot of the carbon copied hard rock and metal that is released nowadays. The album feels like it could have been recorded in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, before Pro-Tools really took off, when things were recorded on tape. The album has aspects of influences from all of those decades as well, but it doesn’t feel dated, it has a real modern feel to it as well. It gives you the best of both worlds. Rex mentioned that they mixed the album three times before it sounded right to the band. Although it doesn’t have that same Dehumanizer sound, it is very similar in the way that the drums and bass are presented on the album. Vinny’s parts especially sound as if he’s in the room with you, every hit of the toms sound crisp and clear, and not buried in the mix like they usually are. Which makes me think, why aren’t more albums mixed like this?
The way the band performs on the album reminds me a lot of LED ZEPPELIN and THE WHO. Now don’t get all bent out of shape, and let me explain. Both of those legendary bands had extraordinary rhythm sections, that drove their music. They also had a guitarist who instead of going out of his way to stand out every second he could, he atypically became the glue that held everything together. This is something that Mark Zavon does to perfection on this album by weaving between the solid foundation Vinny and Rex are laying down, and picking his spots to stand out and make the entire composition better. The melody on the album is incredible as well, Dewey Bragg does a great job of not only putting some solid lyrics together, but he uses his voice in a fashion that does not sound like any of today’s homogenized singers. Sure you can hear influences in his voice, but it doesn’t sound like every other singer out there. The album kicks off with four very solid tracks, “War Machine” starts things off driving forward. This takes us to “Hangman” which is classic Vinny, that slow punishing groove he is known for and more or less helped pioneer. “Voodoo Doll” is one of my favorite tracks to come out this year, the opening tremolo effect, into the mini solo before Dewey jumps into the first verse, and subsequent infectious chorus is to me the strongest track on the album. The fourth track “Gates Of Hell” is another slow dirge, which rivals classic SABBATH tracks like “Children of The Sea” and “Sign Of The Southern Cross”. Other stand out tracks include the “Time + Time Again” which was premiered late last year, “Up In Flames” which is about Dewey losing everything he owned in a fire, and the album closer “Revenge”, which has a real ZEPPELIN feel throughout.
Vinny’s DNA is all over this album, he is perhaps one of the most underrated drummers of all time. If this album sounds anything like SABBATH or DIO, it’s because of his playing. Although Rex was the last member to join the band, you can hear his signature playing as well. He is often overlooked in when his former band PANTERA is discussed. This album makes you appreciate what he actually did their landmark albums. Listen to what he does on this album, and go back to those old PANTERA albums, and realize how he actually influenced a generation of players. Dewey and Mark are just as important on the album, and not overshadowed by either of these two legends. Dewey delivers a very solid vocal performance, with a lot of great memorable melodies, and Mark is the perfect linchpin that ties everything together, and makes it all work.
The entire album is very solid throughout, and in my opinion, easily among the best hard rock albums to come out this year.
Victor M. Ruiz
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
The Call (Century Media)
Spain’s ANGELUS APATRIDA return with The Call, it is their third album for Century Media. Although this thrash quartet has had their issues taking a stranglehold of their native Albacete, they have been slaying Spain, and audience member that stands in their way for years. This has lead them to open up for such groups as SLAYER, and MEGADETH, and their current jaunt with 3 INCHES OF BLOOD, GOATWHORE and HAVOK. They are the only band from Spain (in any genre) that can currently tour Europe, and I don’t mean a few dates in spread out here and there, check out the itinerary for the aforementioned tour that they’re currently a part of, and you’ll see that they’ll be all over the old continent during the next few months. There is a reason why the legendary David Ellefeson pulled the band aside, and encouraged them to take their talents stateside, as US audiences would without a doubt eat up what the band has to offer.
The Call is a natural progression for the band, it shows the band maturing, and evolving far beyond what they have done with their two previous outings Clockwork and Evil Unleashed. This by no means diminishes how good those albums are, it’s just that the band has taken great leap forward with The Call. The band has once again teamed back up with Clockwork producer Daniel. I had a chance to speak to lead singer Guillermo Izquierdo recently, and he mentioned that Daniel made it his mission to make The Call more than just another album. He took it upon himself to push the band, and make this not only the best album possible, but something very personal for him as well, something that is looked back as a defining moment for him as a producer.
The album starts off with the first single “You Are Next”, which coincides with a video game themed video that was released a few weeks ago. If you’ve followed the band at all, you’ll realize that Guillermo vocal style is completely different on this track, and throughout the album. On the band’s previous outings there is an undeniable resemblance to Dave Mustaine. With “You Are Next” he reminds me of Zetro, the former lead singer of EXODUS. You can still hear the Mustaine influence at times, but you can also hear a little Blitz from Overkill, a twinge of Phil Anselmo and shades of Rob Halford in a few spots. While speaking to me he admitted to Mustaine influence, and said “I didn’t want to keep doing Mustaine part 2, while writing the music, it was really calling me to go in a different direction with my vocals. So I naturally followed what seemed natural.” Couple that with Cardoso pushing, and constantly challenging the singer and you have the vocal performance that is displayed throughout the album.
But by listening to the album, you can see that Cardoso challenged the entire band to up their game. The other noticeable improvement is the precision of the rhythm section. Again, this isn’t knocking the band’s previous albums, but Victor Valera like a sharpshooter with his precision on the album. His playing is tighter than it has been on the previous albums; it is at a completely different level than it has been in the past. Bassist Jose J. Izquierdo locks everything down with and is up to the challenge to equal Valera’s playing. Again, the band’s influence can really be seen here with the two locking into place like the legendary combination of Menza and Ellefson. Realize that I’m saying like, not equal to or better than, I need to clarify that before anyone gets all upset over that previous statement.
I keep mentioning Guillermo’s singing, but his and Davish G. Alvarez guitar work has always set the band apart (in my mind) from other contemporary thrash bands. Their playing on this album not only contains their best work as a guitar tandem, but takes what they’ve done in the past and infuses it with other aspects of metal that you may not be accustomed to hearing from the band. This only enhances what they bring to the table with The Call.
Aside from the standard lead single, you’ll find “At The Gates of Hell”, which is like a locomotive building up steam before running you over. “Violent Dawn” which to me blends the cross-over greatness of D.R.I. with some riffing in the vein of SLAYER’s King and Hanneman. “It’s Rising” which offers which offers shades of Painkiller-esque JUDAS PRIEST and a solo outro reminiscent of the heyday of PANTERA. “Blood On The Snow” could have easily of been slotted in on Countdown To Extinction, while “Killer Instinct” is more in more influenced by Peace Sells. “The Hope Is Gone” has an aspect that previous albums did not contain, and that’s melody in band’s chorus. Ok, yes, they’ve had melody in the past, but not this well formed. The chorus of this track permeates your mind, and bounces around in it, in an infectious fashion. “Fresh Pleasure” is an ode to the connection between the crowd, the band, and a nice cold beer. “Still Corrupt” discusses topics that have been present since the origins of thrash, crooked politicians. “Reborn” is a track that really smacked me in the head when I first listened to it. This track to me is a real defining moment for the band, and when I heard it, I had to go back and give it a few more listens to almost believe the track was this good! This track closes the standard edition of the album up. It seems to be a statement by the band, as if to say, ok you’ve heard the album, now realize this is who we are, this is part of our evolution. This track is a full on metal song, with a catchy, infectious chorus that is perfect to hear a crowd at Download, Wacken, Uproar, etc. singing in unison with the band. The riffing is very matriculate, it isn’t full speed thrash, but it really grinds and pummels you from start to finish. As does the entire album, I mention these influences, but I do have to stress that it is all done in the bands own fashion, it isn’t a carbon copy of the band’s I’ve referenced, it is ANGELUS APATRIDA.
I’ve always been opposed to hearing bands cover well known songs. You have to A) have the sack to try and take on certain tracks B) do them well enough so that they aren’t laughable. ANGELUS APATRIDA has never shied away from covers, previously doing PANTERA’s “Domination” and IRON MAIDEN’s “Be Quick Or Be Dead”, and doing them well. This album is no different; they cover possibly my favorite JUDAS PRIEST song “Hell Patrol”, and man is it good! They do all of these covers in their own fashion, but in a way that still keeps the song connected faithfully to its original composition. This is truly a testament to the band’s musicianship, and their ability to pull the tracks off. The expanded edition wraps up with an updated take on a track that appeared on their 2007 album Give ‘Em War called “Free Your Soul”.
This album is recommended to anyone that remotely enjoys any of the bands I have mentioned in this review. On The Call ANGELUS APATRIDA brings old school thrash, and metal into the present, while applying their own ingredients, and making it all truly their own. See them on their current tour, or hopefully they’ll jump stateside shortly. The album is a digital only release in the states and comes out on May 8th.
Victor M. Ruiz