None or Unknown
The best thing I have heard yet in 2019 is "ICE watch", a completely rugged face buster from Arkansas hardcore band Terminal Nation which premiered at No Echo HERE. It will give you the insane over the top feels of a lot of heavy stuff without wondering if the band members have become weird conservative farts or are suddenly gonna cape for YAITW. The song even manages to out mosh the band's recent tune "Pulse Of The Dead" from Absolute Control. Good news is, TN have a split out with the homies in Neckbeard Deathcamp in February (it is sure to be a big year for both bands this year) and the gossip is we might get a TN full length this year as well. If you want to feel socially responsible while still doing reprehensible shit in the pit (I mean watch out for your peeps if someone falls down...but you know what I mean), this band will be entirely your shit. Bellowed vocals, powerviolence glory and a firm anti-xenophobia message.
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So, I picked up the ACT OF DEFIANCE debut album Birth And The Burial today. I was a little skeptical at first, since the last time two dudes left MEGADETH and tried something new, David Ellefson and Jimmy DeGrasso gave us F5, which left a lot to be desired. Not to say that the band wasn’t any good, but you would expect more out of ex-MEGADETH guys. A lot more.
ACT OF DEFIANCE, formed by ex-MEGADETH members Shawn Drover (drums) and Chris Broderick (guitars), along with singer Henry Derek (ex-SCAR THE MARTYR) and bassist Matt Bachand (SHADOWS FALL) went down a completely opposite path as the boys in F5. The band is a perfect blend of so many different sun-genres of metal, there’s something for virtually everyone. Very old school, no nonsense, in your face metal, but still very new school at the same time.
Read on BELOW.
Cryptopsy‘s The Book of Suffering Tome 1 should put the veteran Canadian’s back to the higher tier they deserve in the death metal world. The first in a series of EPs, it completely kicks your ass and exhausts but leaves you panting for more evil. Pre-order HERE.
These days “technical death metal” means precise widdly widdly and oddball arrangements to some rather than complex, relentless attack ala Cannibal or Aeon. I’d put proper Cryptopsy in the latter category, a band at their best when having fun writing arrangements unselfconciously but still pushing themselves to get as crazy as can be. People give them shit for The Unspoken King because it was a deathcore departure, but what’s funny is how few people notice how much the death metal side of Whitechapel’s This Is Exile, for example, sounded like it really wanted to be Cryptopsy at certain points. I don’t think a band should be punished for expanding their style anyway. Sure, a classic sounding doom album like Crypt Sermon’s latest Out Of The Garden nails a certain style and is above the doom pack this year due to killer performances such as “The Master’s Bouquet”, but if everyone always adhered to only certain forms we would have nothing but genre boundaries and no innovation.
So, The Book of Suffering. Definitely on the more classic Cryptopsy sound-side but full of thrills and some twists anyway.
For some reason the title has me thinking of Hermann Hesse’s “genius of suffering” Steppenwolf (a must read for anyone, let alone metal fans, haha). A treatise on spiritual loneliness and the moral shades of embracing the wolf within, the book often mentions Buddha.
“A man who can understand Buddha and has an intuition of the heaven and hell of humanity ought not to live in a world ruled by “common sense” and democracy and bourgeois standards. It is only from cowardice that he lives in it…and refuses to see that the wolf is as often as not the best part of him.”
Read more BELOW.
RATM‘s Live At Finsbury Park is a must have document from the titans of guerilla funk metal.
In late 2009, a successful campaign was launched by English DJ Jon Morter and his wife Tracy to promote an alternative to the omnipresent “X-Factor” winner being the Christmas No. 1 hit in the U.K. singles chart. The track they nominated was RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE’s “Killing In The Name”. The band supported the campaign, donated the proceeds from the sales to charity and lead singer Zack de la Rocha promised that RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE would perform a free concert in the U.K. to celebrate the achievement. This is that concert.
From a crucial introduction from professor Chuck D of hip hop greats Public Enemy (who have a dope new album out this year Man Plans, God Laughs) to a fired up crowd truly passionate and alive after doing the unthinkable and taking the power back from the gross spectacle the pop charts have become, this was a landmark moment for music with bite breaking through. It should be as essential viewing as The Clash at Shea Stadium or the new Run The Jewels clip (featuring De La Rocha) for their racial violence song “Close Your Eyes (And Count To F–K).
We have missed RATM on wax despite the infrequent but still vital times they have risen up for sporadic live shows. I get that The Battle Of Los Angeles is a damn hard act to follow (and Bleed The Pigs, OTEP and Stray From The Path have done their best to fill the void), but seeing the sea of people surging to “Testify” or being fresh from watching the 2015 Dem Debates on my tv and hearing Clinton get it wrong on medical marijuana or candidates drag feet on Snowden, Wall Street reform and other issues, it’s good to know that somewhere there was once more of a spark of resistance in our alternative music and not just trying to get everyone nude at a festical, all due respect to Miley & The Lips. While maybe that could be revolutionary for Millenials in 2015 eager to pick and choose from the hippy days, but it seems like a good recipe for douche bro/ molly rape to me, the validity of body acceptance themed events notwithstanding.
As De La Rocha raps the familiar words from the great S/T album about the bombtrack starting as a “sketch in my notebook”, you wonder how many people are trying to drop knowledge at a higher level and how many just want to get high.
Finsbury is a great example of the populace being engaged in their own destiny and saying “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me”.
Novelists from Paris are not a tribute band to the works of Sartre or -even better- Boris Vian (who once devoted much of a book to describing a piano that could make specialty cocktails depending on what notes you played). No, the young group are a progressive metalcore band full of attack, djent and busy guitar parts, albeit with some solid melodic parts to set them apart from the bands who only scream over this style. I will go on the record and say it is not my favorite sub genre of metal as I find regionalism tends to go by the wayside and make many of these bands near indistinguishable regardless of country of origin (Exist Immortal, Rise Of Doom, We Came As Romans all kind of sound more or less the same to me despite being good at what they do). Heck, even black metal really has many bands that adhere to form. My bias works in the band’s favor here as Novelists still have a lot to grab ahold of the listener’s ears (even a primarily stoner rock fan like me).
Read more BELOW.
The only way it could be more apparent at this point that losing Geoff Tate
was the best career saving decision Queensryche ever made was if the current
line up performed some Frequency Unknown songs in the set and did a better
job at those as well. Understand that every time I have to write something
like that about Tate-ryche and the fall from grace of one of metal’s once
towering voices, a little part of the kid in me who fell in love with every
track on Empire dies. But the new band have made me believe again, along wth
many others. Geoff Tate is grasping at straws with his distastefully named
Operation: Mindcrime band, a move that cheapens the iconic album’s brand more
than a new Queensryche line up that kicks ass and has a classic sound ever
And I feel for Tate. It’s gotta hurt. But make no mistake…Condition Human is hands down the best Queensryche album in
20+ years, the best since Promised Land by far and the first to finally once
and for all make you say ,“Chris DeGarmo who”?
To be fair, I liked moments of Tribe and even Dedicated To Chaos had a few late Tate great moments where his better character shone through like “Get Started” which sounds a little like Pearl Jam doing a mid tempo Queensryche song but was fun. But the “we don’t suffer fools” lyric from that song and “Time to change the view” line turned out to fit Tate the best.
Read on BELOW.
Logan Madder will always hold a place in the heart of any metal fan who has ever been in the midst of a “Davidian” riff onslaught, but the producer and guitarist is much more than that. Returning to the stage after a decade plus, Madder has re-emerged with a strong new group Once Human.
I’m a fan of some of Madder’s production with especially Gojira and less so with Five Finger Death Punch, if more so because the band annoy me than any fault in the production. Once Human, however, it feels like Madder pulled out all the stops to assert his new group is the bomb. He did a good job. The title track in particular is enough to make any fan of this kind of alt metal/crossover thrash salivate. From the roared vocals of Lauren Hart, which recall Tarrie B at her most unhinged married to some real hooks, a dry and punishing amped up drum attack from secret weapon Dillon Trollope and groove metal power to make the 90’s blush, the band are nonetheless not a throwback. There is plenty of studio wizardry and unexpected textural twists, dives and especially cool spacious elements in the guitars to contrast the heaviest moments.
Pick up a copy HERE.
“Time Of The Disease” is powerful groove metal, ballistic bass, a slick solo and augmented by awesome string and vocal patterns like something from a gothic horror movie before major melodeath kicks in. Hart’s voice has a particular low end to her scream not heard this effectively since Karyn Crisis. “I Am War” is another highlight, a war march intro with cooed vocals that gets more uneasy as the band build the 1:52 track from a dreary military march through a dollhouse nightmare like soldiers and Marilyn Manson-esque circus outcasts had a party.
Read more BELOW.
Corrections House don’t care about your feelings.
“Go back from whence you came and tie your shoes correctly this time”.
When the dust settles from listening to this new record, you won’t know if you have PTSD, are inspired or are a masochist.
Industrial influenced metal and punk has really made something of a tiny yet formidable comeback via acts like the brilliant UK act Hateful Abandon, France’s Crown, the doomy studio project Culted and the U.S.A.’s own vital, machine building, pacifist madman Author & Punisher or my pal Jay Gambit’s Crowhurst.
Even Nergal has been getting into Youth Code and it’s a good time to feel bleak and alive. Circle Of Animals was a cool record and even Ministry has had some solid late career surprises amidst their more speed metal direction, Theologian and Prurient thrill but the genre was mostly wheezing on paint fumes compared to other styles like thrash, death and metalcore which the public has clamored for more recently. That said, this shit is never gonna become standard mall kid fare, ever. Not unless Bladerunner ever really arrives in full.
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I have not really been able to stomach most of the reviews or negative attitudes towards the current incarnation of Slayer since Jeff H. died. Do you really think Hanneman would want us all turning on the band he was in for so many years? I can’t blame Araya for singing “Pissing match of egos” on the thrash-tastic title track of this latest entry into the band’s storied discography. Personally I think people are really easily swayed by band wagons these days and you get a few trolls or bad reviews up and running and suddenly no one thinks for themselves.
“We’re killing ourselves a little more everyday!,” Araya also screams on the title track.
I’ve written for other sights about how I prefer Katy Perry to Taylor Swift any day, but essentially at the end of the day it is about personalities. Pop music is mainly written by three or four people! Wake up! We are part of a still thriving underground and it is weak that Mayhem Fest had low turn out this year just because a more commercial band like A7X wasn’t headlining. But below the surface of the mainstream all we get is a sea of fucking arguing.
While Kerry King’s comments about the Mayhem Fest this year divided some fans, the infighting in the metal scene could also be pointed right back at plenty of more closed minded Slayer fans who will only accept the classic line up. I love the current Slayer and think they did as great a job as humanly possible with Paul and Gary. Really, could anyone be as good replacements for Dave and Jeff as these cats? They’ve been killing it live and both are classic members of the thrash pantheon in their own rights. Paul even arguably played on Slayer’s arguably MOST classic record GOD HATES US ALL since the early days!
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Along with Paradise Lost’s fantastic The Plague Within, this has been a victorious year for gloom and doom. Sweden’s veteran beauty and the beast doomers Draconian have made a masterful new record Sovran (pre-order HERE!) that has had fans counting down the days. Pleased to report it should exhalt the group to new heights in the scene, a real modern victory. The My Dying Bride and older Katatonia comparisons might still rear up hear and there, but the band are also their own and deserve a look without comparative filters.
“Heavy Lies The Crown” alone as a single would have critics gushing, myself included. Thankfully we have nine songs nearly as glorious and dark, like spilled wine and hopes running through the fingers and down a pale arm as it drops a glass mixed with poison. No song is below the six minute mark, though each is like a movie unto itself yet adding to this whole experience. “The Marriage of Attaris” has a bold poetic monologue intro before the simply soul stirring voice of Heike Langhans. Heike really asserts herself subtly and beautifully on this record and should be more than embraced by longtime fans at this point. Anders Jacobsson retains a growl that sounds truly fierce and lonely yet strong, while the band’s relentless forward marching doom is as natural as wood rotting in the forest or dark growth and shadow reclaiming a scorched Earth.
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In Daniel Barenboim’s Music Quickens Time a passage popped out to me this morning:
Another inevitable constraint on free thought is the attempt to facilitate the condition of human existence by constructing a system of belief that renders the act of questioning futile.
Wow. That statement could apply to social conditioning as well as, heck, the entire careers of Soilwork (and definitely In Flames)! A lot of the Swedish bands built their cities on rock n roll only to be turned on by some fans later for expanding their horizons (aka adding more melody or technical/progressive passages).
“Death In General”, the third track on Soilwork’s 10th (!!) studio album The Ride Majestic, is just the latest proof that Soilwork are capable of so much more than just a Steelbath Suicide solution.
Read more BELOW.
East Coast smashers Ramming Speed are one of the more chaotic, thrashy bands
around, like their label mates Exmortus often sounding like one big evil as
fuck party. Ramming Speed have really dogged it out to get to album number
three and have a lot of cred in the crust punk scene as well. They just seem
like an awesome band and can really play a good, rough around the edges more
punky version of thrash.
Full review BELOW.
Well, here we are. How do I even start a review for a record this rewarding? How about by demanding you pre-order it HERE. No better compliment?
I am gonna blame Lisa Mungo from Seattle’s He Whose Ox Is Gored for almost single handedly getting me back into proggy/post-rock stuff as well as, incidentally, Stephen Brodsky’s music. I’d written Lisa a few weeks back introducing myself and asking a question and then started listening to HWOIG’s older stuff more thuroughly than I had in the past. Now I am so hooked!
As the band are touring with Mutoid Man and that Bleeder record of theirs also blew me away and has a similar workmanlike chopping drum attack paired with busy but also at times spacious guitars, I soon found myself diving into old Brodsky classics like Cave In’s Jupiter for the first time in years. God, most music really fucking sucks now compared to that stuff, doesn’t it? I mean, I am a super positive guy unless you really piss me off, but woah.
The Camel, The Lion, The Child has a (very) few rougher patches here and there but they only add to the striving humanity of this future classic. “Oathbreaker” recalls Game of Thrones as filtered through new wave hell metal, at least in my mind. Bells toll and the anticipation building hi hat simmers nerves. The cool time signatures, vox roaring at 3:41 like dub music weaving in and out plus synths equals an amazing listen. Think post-metal sci-fi meets Chicago noise or 90’s rock completely disassembled but with screams ala Botch and occasional pretty vocals, as members alternate. “Omega” (premiered HERE at Cvlt Nation) could teach some of the Between The Buried And Me wanna bes a thing or two about feel, as like Prosthetic trio InAeona or Junius the bigger feelings evoked don’t depend on overplaying. Yawning void is actually a thing on some of these tracks.
For more see BELOW.
Pre order HERE.
“And I hope that one day I will see you again”. This plaintive lyric opens Dead Letter Circus’s masterful new album Aesthesis. Kim Benzie’s distinct voice is a proud flag the Brisbane band rallies around with colorful and spacious hard rock that wastes absolutely zero time trying to fit into a box of preconceptions.
Life is a varied experience and thank God. I am a huge Max Cavalera fan but was dismayed to read an old quote recently I’d never seen where he called Killswitch Engage “gay”. Even more than the lazy use of that word I was much more bothered by the inference that Killswitch acted “like U2 on stage” as Cavalera said in, I think, like 2008 when Howard Jones was in the band. Perhaps it was bitterness for Sepultura doing an awesome “Bullet The Blue Sky” cover post-Max, but the Brazilian metal greats comments just rang as senseless to me. Every Soulfly record has had guests of different stripes from the very melodic Chino Moreno to Fred Durst! I know Max is a Bob Marley fan. Let’s try and be more open minded again in metal and hard rock.
Look, I like Possessed as much (and maybe more) than many people. That said, who are we trying to prove things too? Ten death metal or throwback thrash fans who only support narrow definitions instead of achievement and risk? With no melodic elements in metal there is no Fear Factory, no Iced Earth, so many good bands. One of my photographers today is shooting Deftones/Incubus for us and I’m thrilled that package tour is luring back some hard rock fans. Ticket sales are down across the board. Forward thinking bands like The Safety Fire are breaking up. Mayhem Fest just fell apart, tragically.
This is not a time for closing doors on each other.
“Yeah dude, but is the record good”? Yes. Dare I say, Hell fuckin’ yes?!
Read more BELOW.
Between The Buried and me are in a great phase right now, already respected
and with several classics under their belt, more plenty of “prove your mettle”
tours under their belts and a reputation up there with the best. BTBAM, with
Coma Ecliptic, step out of the shadow of Parallax and into their most concise
yet still deftly ambitious work ever. Alaska had heart and showed promise and
other moments like The Great Misdirect (a personal favorite) showed BTBAM were
unafraid to reinvent themselves or push at their corners with a flare akin to
Wilco, Mastodon, Candiria, Radiohead- bands with the hunger. Parallax is a
Crack The Skye or Dark Side of the Moon moment in BTBAM’s history, but not
their last hurrah.
“The Coma Machine” is perhaps my fave statement from the group yet as it is
really air tight even though lengthy and full of movement. Perhaps it is the
Scrooge-like theme of a man looking back on memories within each track, but
entire journey is impossible to miss. If you skip a track, like Cynic’s Kindly
Bent To Free Us, you’ll likely be compelled to go back and hear what you
missed. And with good cause, as “Memory Palace” alone is several awesome movements.