King Buzzo at House of Vans NYC by J.M.
2013 was a great year for music. I can’t recall a year in recent memory where I was so torn between so many great releases for my year end “list”. From Tidal Arms to Across Tundras to Ephel Duath to Nails, so many great bands just killed it. Other band greats tried to kill people as well. It was certainly a year for upheaval in the metal world, with scandals from the camps of As I Lay Dying to Nachtmystium to the horribly wrong Lost Prophets saga (you sick fucker, you are a shame to humanity and especially the Welsh, my heritage) upsetting the general public. As I Lay Dying is a real drag since The Powerless Rise is a fucking great album. But on the bright side it was a killer touring year, many albums that will be loved for years came out and heavy music is strong as ever-if not more. And if nothing today suits your fancy or makes you want to say Hail to the King, crank the Dave Grohl mixed B’last record Blood! for an old school slap in the face back to reality!
From my “best of” top pick Killswitch Engage‘s Disarm The Descent to Gorguts’ Colored Sands to Ghost invading the mainstream as the new nameless faces of metal to Corrections House shockingly cold Last City Zero, there was so much to inspire. So horns up, y’all. Here is an array of my thoughts plus year end reflections from members of Mares of Thrace, Storm King, Candiria, Landmine Marathon and more! Also I’ve got some exclusive 2013 live pics of Emmure, Filter, Melvins, For Today and more!
Click HERE to read the article. I also admit inside that I totally think Saves The Day rules, hahaha.
I had a great year full of awesome records, good sex, amazing concerts and more. Got to interview everyone from Ian Mackaye to Lita Ford to Doyle to Monster Magnet to Anacondas (the latest sensational Prosthetic band from the UK). All in all, lot to be stoked on.
Ok, so it is subjective and all, but I want to talk about albums that made me feel “wow” this year. I am gonna leave some great records out that I could write in depth about, from Clutch to NIN to Device to Old Gods or Dillinger to Sea Of Bones to Satyricon to Lord Dying to the vocally mainstream leaning but still cool Joey Jordison (of Slipknot-fame) led debut from his Faith No More indebted but totally kick ass new side band Scar The Martyr. I don’t want to ramble all day, so I am focusing mainly on the discs I listened to THE most this year. But seriously, I could cheat and list great albums all day from Ulcerate to whatever…but really seriously, Falling In Reverse are the audio equivalent of a gutter abortion.
So…First things first, a side note about Black Sabbath’s 13…as the debate rages on whether Sab should have modern or more retro production, 13 “as an album” was pretty darn great. “Loner” and “End of the Beginning” can stand side by side with nearly anything in the band’s storied career and shine just as darkly. ‘Nuff said. But below I am gonna focus on some younger bands.
BUT…before THAT, I want to say it was great to rejoin my hard rock band Antidote 8 this year as a singer. I took a year or so out of the band after some arguments, but we sorted it all out and friendship won in the end. We even opened for Dio Disciples this year, although very regrettably without Ripper Owens singing for them. Still, it was the thrill of a lifetime to share a stage with Vinnie Appice and friends. I mean, wow. It was unreal. I even wore a coat of mine that has Dio’s autograph in it from meeting him at a Viper Room singing around the Killing The Dragon era, and it felt so cool to know Craig Goldy was going to be playing the solos to “Last In Line” and “Egypt” on stage after my band! We have now played with a cool slew of bands the last few years like Thou, Black Tusk, Dio Disciples and the guitarist of Trixter! Here’s all of us from A8 chillin’ after that Dio Disciples show (I’m in the center with the Shirts & Destroy T shirt, stoked as heck).
So here are my personal topmost picks for 2013:
1. Killswitch Engage: Disarm the Descent
Anyone who is gassed up on Carcass or any of the brilliant albums out this year…I still maintain the KSE return of Jesse Leach is hands down best record this year. Jesse’s energy on this record is so inspiring and his lyrics uplifting, worldly and wiser. From “The Hell In Me” to “Tribute To The Fallen”, this is KSE at their, dare I say it, perhaps best ever. “Core” heads may not like the nearly all melodic “Always” but it makes for more dynamic listening than the band’s first self titled “demo” record with Leach from pre-AOJB days. I put this on nearly every time I was depressed and it helped me often to manifest better outcomes and reset my head. KSE appeals to both mainstream and underground kids with a credibility you must earn rather than fake. As the colossal “Time Will Not Remain” maintains “None of us should be thought of as anything less than a potential to change the world.” THAT is the kind of message sorely needed in these days of twerking, pollution and apathy. Don’t give up the fiiiiight!
Speaking of destroying apathy, gore grinders Exhumed made one of their best records and I believe THE best of their genre for the year. Again, no insult to Carcass…and this clearly is a more politicized Heartwork for Exhumed, but Necrocracy destroys! Matt Harvey leads his band of bloody marauders on a jihad for justice, from the game changing “Shape of Deaths To Come” to the growls and howls of the hysterical but sad social commentary of “Dysmorphic”. Necrocracy is like an old punk rock record that shoves the truth right in your face. Wake up and smell the “Sickened.” Seriously, people with brains will nod to this album in years to come.
I talked with producer Ryan Butler of Landmine Marathon fame about working on the Exhumed record and also asked him what has been going on with his band since they got a new vocalist, Krysta Martinez. Butler also filled me in on a recent injury he’s been healing from.
Ryan Butler: Well, it’s always great to work with Exhumed. Harvey and I have been great friends for many years. I’ve worked with Scarecrow, Dekapitator, and I’ve now done a ton of projects for Exhumed. Every time I’ve worked with them has been super exciting and I know we’re gonna have a great time, even though we’re gonna work our butts off. Matt and I work really great together and are pretty close in general. I really like the way he went about making fairly political lyrics for this record while still keeping them gore based. Haha. He’s an absolutely awesome songwriter, guitarist and lyricist. He also plays with some absolutely great dudes, and I’m glad to call the other members of Exhumed friends. Bud’s solo work on this record was truly phenomenal, as well. He did most of his leads first take after hearing the songs one time and in midi format before stepping into the studio to track. He would do a take and we just all started laughing. I could only dream to ever play like that. Well, I wish I had some glorious story about how I hurt my knee, but it’s pretty lame! About a year and a half ago, Matt and I were at a Hot Snakes’ show and I rolled my ankle stepping off a high curb and smashing my knee into the ground. I then walked on it for a year and a half like an idiot. Turned out I tore my meniscus a bit, tore up most of the cartilage and chipped some bone. I’m still not walking yet, but just started physical therapy. So, I should be good to go for Landmine’s Mexico tour in February. Krysta is a fabulous vocalist and so far, fans have been very accepting of the change. We’ve played some killer shows with her and look forward to many more, as well as a new album. I haven’t caught up with too many records this year. The new Exhumed is obviously rad, but I don’t even own a copy yet. Haha. I bought the new Dinosaur Jr. I think the new Witchcraft came out this year? I believe Graveyard Lights Out was last year? I don’t even know anymore. I make records for a living and just don’t want to listen to music like I used to. Whenever Grave, Tragedy or Unleashed puts out a new record, I’m right there to buy it, though! I also work with heavy stuff a lot and tend to stray away from it in my free time.
3.Star & Dagger: Tomorrowland Blues
This Valley of the NY Dolls (via Nola and Joshua Tree) Sab meets Glam slab courtesy of Sean Yseult, Dava She Wolf and co. is a bluesy, hard rock ass kicker through and through. What do you get when you throw a vocal Diva in the mix and some Eagles of Deathmetal action? A near pitch perfect long player with Motorhead grit, occasional darkness and cocktail conversation in spades plus catchy parts from the Golden Age of rock. It was a hard choice between this and the final Cathedral masterpiece The Last Spire, Lesbian’s Forrestelevision psyho-freakout or Purson’s bewitching and unforgettable retro journey The Circle and The Blue Door, but the classic tones of this album combined with the camp, charm and ultimate sense of rebelliousness just did it for me. This, Doro’s recent Raise Your Fist 2012 effort, SubRosa’s magnificent return with the epic More Constant Than The Gods and Lita Ford’s live record The Bitch Is Back really gave inspiration of hope filled and bad ass examples of bands with ladies who want 100% legit, honest rock n roll kept alive. Plus, like Huntress or Blood Ceremony, the gals in S & D have a penchant for potion, blood and voodoo.
Dava She Wolf (ex-Cycle Sluts from hell/Current Star & Dagger guitarist) checks in and tells us about her 2013 and making their recent “Shining” parody video for the song “In My Blood”.
Dava: A lot of incredibly talented people came together to make that video happen. Director Art Haynie, who did our last video was at the helm once again (he has a cameo in this video as the guy on the bed being blown by the bunny). Also involved was Robert Sexton Asst Dir. Chris Lee producer, Sean Donnelly exec producer and some incredible camera men, set builders, makeup artists, a sound guy, costume designer, fantastic PAs. It’s a good thing we could take advantage of rolling credits to acknowledge them all. We had a lot of Kubrick fans working on this which made it even better. It took months of preparation to create a blizzard in the sweltering New Orleans heat and then run through it pretending to be cold and not wipe out. We used 3 different snow effects and the stuff on the ground was very slippery. Shooting the twins scene was really fun, the kid playing Danny is Sean & Chris’s nephew. My favorite challenge was doing the blood scene. It was green screened and the CGI was created by David Ridlen. It really made the whole thing. The blood was this chocolate minty stage blood that tasted disgusting. A few shots were done at One Eyed Jack’s in New Orleans including the bar scene, Ryan Hesseling who runs the place was Lloyd the bartender. He’s (singer) Von’s husband. We also had all our friends show up for the ballroom scene. That was really fun, everybody was all dressed up and looked magnificent, the shot was taken from the stage of One Eyed Jack’s amidst champagne and tea sandwiches. New Orleans is a great town for any creative endeavor but this was especially wonderful to have so many good friends involved in creating this, it was an incredible experience and we’re very happy with the final result.
While we’re on the subject of cool rock bands with strong female-types, Mares Of Thrace‘s genius super heroine riff woman of blackest Filipino flame, Thérèse Lanz took time from her busy schedule being the most mind numbingly bad ass lady to rule the world to tell us how her 2013 went. And I am not trying to just lump the “girl bands” together, cuz that’d be fucking weak.
Thérèse Lanz: This was a pretty quiet year for me as I mostly remained in my underground lair, frantically slanging polygons en route to getting a degree in video game development. I briefly stuck my head out, but then Gorguts’ new record made my brain blow up.
Um…could she be any more fantastic?
4. Stratovarius: Nemesis
I don’t know how anyone could overlook Nemesis as the power metal album of the year. Any haters are just living in the past, as 2013 Strato is a monster. I wasn’t crazy about the music video I saw from this album, but the record itself is a thrill ride of absolutely mind altering solos that carry you into the, um, stratosphere while upholding the band’s long reign as true believers, regardless of lineup changes over the years. New drummer Rolf Pilve injects real adrenaline into every track with his youthful enthusiasm. Nemesis twists and turns but is full of so much pay off, from the ominous glory of “Halcyon Days” to the sound of a band really just painting a motivating picture of going for your dreams on the catchy as fuck “fantasy”. If they keep this up, Strato will more than have proved that they still have it and are “Unbreakable.”
5. Palms: S/T
The Ocean’s Pelagial was gonna be here, and it is undisputedly the best concept album of the year. I loved the instrumental version a lot more than the, still well executed, vocal inclusive version of the album. Gorguts Colored Sands is inspiring as all get out and continues to blow my mind with technical death mastery akin to second sight through the veil between worlds. But Palms won it for me with their debut, a marriage of Chino Moreno’s calm foreboding 80’s dream poetry mixed with the most lucid, least caustic side of Isis’ Wavering Radiant. It reminds me of Hendrix saying music was colors, and watching them stretch out across the event horizon these players are aiming for like some post-rock nu metal sunset just a few miles above Purgatory, or L.A.
Best EP goes to Royal Thunder for CVI:A. I like the band acoustic even more, just one of those releases you can not stop playing over and over and over, letting the spirits free. It rips me up to hear those blues roots worm through my veins.
Best album not out yet, by far? Nachtmystium‘s forthcoming The World We Left Behind is going to be the Blake Judd-led black metal titanic swan song to the controversial catalogue and wake of the band’s decade plus march. Blake’s recent letter to fans about bottoming out amidst thievery charges and the urge to defeat his demons was powerful, something you really want to pull for the guy to achieve in earnest. But the record he cut with two new members before disbanding the group after his scandal…it is just plain going to destroy. I have just heard the unfinished instrumentals Blake sent me a few weeks before his arrest this year and even in that pre-vocal and solos state it was making my jaw hit the floor with riff after anguished riff until every last drop is bled out. Is it ok if I mention they like Burzum’s music (if not ideologies)? This is an honest fucking bleak work of art that is too important to ignore.
Favorite album cover of the year:
There is just something about this Baptists cover that is so dope. The energy is there and the record is just like ghost seizures in a forest. I also loved Kylesa’s Ultraviolet top to bottom. I saw Kylesa 2x on the touring for that new 2013 release and they still are just the greatest. Love them so much. I also am going to really admit I am a Saves The Day fanboy and I don’t care what you goons think. The newest blood orange soaked masterpiece of their self-titled record on Equal Vision is the best true pop album of the year. That and Lorde ruled my world. “Remember” is fucking killing me right now because I am depressed as hell about a bad breakup. If that’s emo, suck it.
You saw the shot above of King Buzzo from the Melvins at House of Vans this year that the lovely photographer J.M. took for the first image seen in this feature, and I have to say it was one of the best shows I saw in 2013. The Melvins slammed “Hag Me” down on Williamsburg with so much force that hipster ears are probably still ringing.
Here are a few more images from bands who rocked live this year.
(Filter, Emmure & For Today shot by Catharina Christiana/C3 Photography)
Now for some more underground kings to talk about 2013 and reflect on the world of metal at large and personal.
Scott Massie (Storm King/the Innervenus Music Collective/BLACK YO)))GA): I spent the whole year working on the Everything That’s Meaningful In Your Life Will Be Destroyed record, so I have to admit that the scope of my listening has been really narrow lately outside of that and BLACK YO)))GA mixes. I can’t really even tell you what’s new right now; except maybe Nine Inch Nails, Dark Buddha Rising and Meth Quarry (which are all fantastic, by the way). But it’s been a great year for all the things me and the IV crew have been involved with, which was really, really needed for spirit. Another year like 2012 and I think I’d have hung it up. Haha! (no… really). I’m extremely grateful and really looking forward to what’s in store for 2014.
John LaMacchia (Candiria/Rising Pulse Records):
I’ve been working on getting brand new Candiria EP out. Also working on a vinyl re release of Beyond Reasonable Doubt on Rising Pulse records, my label. Working on solo project Crooked Machine. My fabs of 2013 are Chelsea Wolfe’s Pain is Beauty, Autechre and the Tidal Arms new self titled full length, though they should have put it out on my label.
Jaymask (aka Jay Avery) of Painmask:
As cool as it was for Black Sabbath releasing their comeback album 13 in the year 2013, I’d have to say a highlight for me would be the return of Jesse Leach to Killswitch Engage. Disarm the Descent is an incredible album. I was worried to say the least when I had learned Howard had left, but there is some definite cohesive chemistry on this album! I think I’ve listened to at least one song every day since the summer. And just when we thought only noisy grind core bands came out of Portland Maine, Boom…. They legalize marijuana for adult use. First city on the eastern seaboard. Pretty monumental for the east coast hardcore metal scene! On the Painmask front we’ve been busy writing away all summer and scheduled to hit the studio in January. And with great appreciation, I’m proud to announce that JoeyZ from Life of Agony will be producing this next record. Not only have we been admiring his work at Method of Groove studios, he’s been a long time influence and metal hero of ours paving the way since the beginning. We’re honored that he wants to work with us!
For 2014 get ready for Inferno from Marty Friedman. Tentatively set for a spring release, the album is his first original material in four years, and his first album in more than a decade that will be released simultaneously worldwide. It will be better than Super Collider. By far.
Thanks and R.I.P. Lou Reed.
-Morgan Y. Evans
Live photo of Melvins by Jen Maharry.