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New Child Bite Video with King Buzzo, Primary Colors and Killer Music

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, listen, videos On: Friday, October 24th, 2014

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Detroit wildmen Child Bite are currently touring the wide United States, playing this Sunday at the Housecore Horror Film Festival and continuing with dates through the Midwest and East Coast (dates/locations below).  Today we get to show you their brand new (read: just finished yesterday) music video for “Ancestral Ooze,” a song from their forthcoming Strange Waste EP (out November 25th) on Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records.  The video, a tribute to the 1987 underground horror flick Street Trash (which, incidentally, was also referenced by the whole premise of a recent episode of new show Gotham), features Buzz Osbourne as the dealer of brightly colored beverages that cause people to meet their ends in various exquisitely gruesome ways.  The video was written and directed by ex-DEP guitarist Jeff Tuttle.

It’s Friday morning.  You’re not ready for this.  But, oh, you’re so ready for this.  Enjoy!

Child Bite Fall Tour Dates

10/26 Austin, TX @ Housecore Horror Film Fest w/ Superjoint, Corrections House
10/27 New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar w/ Acid Witch, Author & Punisher
10/28 Louisville, KY @ The New Vintage w/ Acid Witch
10/29 Evansville, IN @ PG
10/30 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
10/31 Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle w/ Bloodiest
11/01 Grand Rapids, MI @ Spoke Folks
11/02 Ypsilanti, MI @ Crossroads
11/04 Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
11/05 Baltimore, MD @ Club K
11/06 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
11/08 Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio w/ Doomsday Student, White Mice
Also, check out more Child Bite at their Bandcamp and Facebook pages.

Sucker For Punishment: Fight Like It’s 1985

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

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After parting ways with vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza in 2004, Exodus took a huge risk in hiring the unknown Rob Dukes as the band’s new frontman, but it was a risk that paid off well. The confrontational, provocative Dukes injected the band with a level of manic energy not seen since the classic Paul Baloff days, and aided by some relentless touring and three very good studio albums Exodus was able to achieve a sort of creative rebirth, attracting a younger audience while at the same time winning over the old fans with this revamped lineup.

Things seemed to be going so smoothly for the band that it came as a very big surprise that Dukes was fired during the recording of Exodus’s tenth album. Even more surprising, though, was the news that Souza was back in the fold and would commence recording the vocals for the new album immediately. Contrary to what people might assume about who was behind Souza’s hiring – many speculated that Exodus’s new manager Chuck Billy masterminded the whole thing – founding guitarist Gary Holt insists that Souza was simply the best option the band had, and everyone had no desire to go through the painstaking audition process to find a new voice.  So hatchets were buried, the slate was wiped clean, and both parties amicably and eagerly joined forces once again.

Although Dukes was a phenomenal frontman, perfectly suited for Exodus, there’s something about hearing Zetro at the helm once again that’s so pleasing, especially to any metal fan over the age of 40. It feels right. I managed to catch the reunited Exodus at their performance in Montreal this summer, and it was admittedly a great pleasure to hear that gravelly, nasal voice performing such songs as “The Toxic Waltz” and “Strike of the Beast”. Based on that alone, you had to think that Souza’s return on record would be just as impressive, or even more, and that’s indeed the case on Blood In, Blood Out (Nuclear Blast), which bursts with the fun and energy of Exodus circa 1985 yet at the same time exudes the breadth of the post-2000 incarnation of the band.

Presented in a robust but deliberately organic sound by producer Andy Sneap, the songs have bite and attack to them, drummer Tom Hunting punctuating each track with his precise and strong double-time beats. The riffs by Holt and Lee Altus sound as nimble as ever and Souza clearly relishes his return to the band, sounding strong and charismatic. However, this record is all about the strength of the songwriting, which is leaner than the band’s ambitious last few albums, tracks like “Salt the Wound”, “Blood In, “Blood Out”, and “My Last Nerve” keeping things simple and incessantly catchy. It’s exactly what anyone wants from these great thrash progenitors, a record that holds up well against the most beloved Exodus albums. I’d even go a little further and call this the best Exodus album since 1989’s Fabulous Disaster, not only a return to prime form, but a welcome return of a familiar face and voice.

Also out this week:

The Acacia Strain, Coma Witch (Rise): I’ve been getting this band’s albums for the past decade, and for the life of me I can’t remember how a single song of theirs goes. That’s one hell of a commitment to mediocrity, guys. This seventh album comes close to putting that streak to an end, though, as “Holy Walls of the Vatican” and “Cauterizer” are snappy enough metalcore tunes to keep listeners awake. Such is the state of mainstream American metal these days that that statement can be considered high praise.

Arabrot, I Modi (Fysisk Format): After mastermind Kjetil successfully beat cancer this year he wasted no time in recording a quick little follow-up to last year’s masterful Årabrot, and the resulting six-track EP is yet another assertion that Årabrot is one of the most original, vital, exciting noise bands working today.

Bethlehem, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (Prophecy): Don’t bands ever think before they settle on an album title? Seriously, naming your record “Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia” is the worst possible thing you could do to your marketability. Then again, gothic black metal sung exclusively in German isn’t exactly marketable to begin with. Once you get past that asinine title, however, you’ll discover a shockingly beautiful exercise in gothic metal aesthetics, full of bombast and melodrama. I have no idea what the fellow is singing about, but the cadence and coldness of the German language goes perfectly with the music, adding some welcome mystique in the process.

Blut Aus Nord, Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry (Debemur Morti): Coming off the triumphant 777 trilogy that saw French musician Vindsval establish Blut Aus Nord as one of the most creative forces black metal has seen in the last decade or more, you had to wonder where he’d take the music next. After Sect(s), The Desanctification, and especially Cosmosophy expanded the project’s musical palette to thrilling effect, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Vindsval decided to get back to basics, but still, there’s a prevailing feeling on Saturnian Poetry that it’s a regression after several exciting years of progression. The third installment of the Memoria Vetusta series (whatever that is) that originally started in 1996, this album sticks to the black metal basics of tremolo picking, blastbeats, and screeched vocals, which compared to Blut Aus Nord’s recent work is hardly groundbreaking, nor exciting. Thankfully Vindsval is an adept enough songwriter to execute this rote, overdone style in a way that still feels authoritative and better than most black metal of today – the superb one-two punch of “Henosis” and “Metaphor of the Moon” an example – but there’s absolutely no way, in this writer’s opinion, that this record even comes close to the last three. When Vindsval goes forward, I’m with him. When he steps backward, he loses me.

Horrendous, Ecdysis (Dark Descent): I knew nothing about this Philly band before their second album landed in my inbox, but once I heard Ecdysis I was shocked by just how well these guys sneak the hookiest heavy metal riffs into their death metal. At times it’s extraordinary how mindful Horrendous is when it comes to the power of a good hook. When they happen upon one, they let it carry the song, instead of making it a mere fragment of 50 other riffs, melodies, and breakdowns. They find a groove, and stick to it, creating dynamic, engaging songs. Imagine that. I remain torn when it comes to the dry, Martin van Drunen-style vocal growls, as they feel like monochrome set against a Technicolor backdrop, but thankfully the instrumental arrangements more than make up for that shortcoming. Besides, “When the Walls Fell” is the best metal instrumental I’ve heard all year. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp. 

Inter Arma, The Cavern (Relapse): One of America’s most exciting bands has slapped together an interesting “EP” release, comprised of one long 45-minute track that veers exuberantly from black metal, to sludge, to progressive rock, to Americana, and back. So few underground American bands have the guts to combine as many styles as Inter Arma does, and although an album of shorter, more concise songs would be an easier listen than this sprawling epic, this is still a great glimpse of an exceedingly creative band hitting its stride.

The Melvins, Hold It In (Ipecac): Being a huge fan of everything Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover did with the boys in Big Business rounding out the band, I’ve been wary of everything they’ve done since. Yet, typical of these sludge lords, they always come through with something weird and highly entertaining, whether as Melvins Lite, reuniting with old band members, or in this case, teaming up with Paul Leary and JD Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers. The fact that Hold it In is playful is no real surprise, but that it feels leaner than any Melvins record I have ever heard is. The emphasis is no longer on pure heaviness, instead on just creating good, fun rock ‘n’ roll, and on this album you can totally hear the influences of the first to KISS albums creeping into the Melvins’ music more than ever. It’s not without its weird moments – the 12-minute “House of Gasoline”, for instance – but the more laid-back fare like “You Can Make me Wait”, “Sesame Street Meat”, and “Piss Pisstopherson” dominate the proceedings, offering a glimpse at the lighter side of this great band. It might not be a classic album by any stretch, but it’s a very welcome addition to what’s become a wildly diverse discography.

Menace Ruine, Venus Armata (Profound Lore): Like Occultation, whose new album also comes out this week on Profound Lore, Montreal’s Menace Ruine offers a surreal perspective on heavy metal that focuses on a haunting female voice. What separates this project apart, though, is how it constantly keeps the listener at an arm’s length, retaining an air of mystery throughout. Geneviève Beaulieu sings classical-inspired melodies in a very arch voice, while multi-instrumentalist S. de la Moth creates a murky, haunting musical backdrop derived heavily from black metal, gothic post-punk, drone, and once again, neoclassical. The music’s impenetrability makes this a difficult album to enjoy, especially when compared to Occultation’s bewitching new album, but if you can get past the pretension and let yourself warm up to the music, it proves to be a worthwhile, delightfully gloomy experience. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Occultation, Silence In The Ancestral House (Profound Lore): The cryptic Brooklyn trio’s debut album Three & Seven caught my attention two years ago, enough for me to single them out as one of that year’s better new bands, but it still felt as if there was plenty to improve upon, plenty of promise to live up to. The follow-up does just that, thanks partially to producer Kurt Ballou – who always does his best work when stepping away from his hardcore production, which can get predictable – but primarily to the maturation of this band’s songwriting. The juxtaposition of Edward Miller’s classic heavy metal riffing and expressive solos with Viveca Butler’s Siouxsie-derived singing is spellbinding to hear, the two sides creating a very unique tension. It’s a terrific example of a metal band taking traditional sounds, thinking outside the old parameters, and showing enough creativity to create something that stands out. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

October 31, Bury the Hatchet (Hells Headbangers): The inimitable King Fowley has brought back his October 31 project for its first album in nine years, and in what should be no surprise at all, it’s a deliriously fun rampage through horror-obsessed thrash metal. Loaded with weird tales, macabre music, and loads upon loads of palm mutes and d-beats, this is an old-school blast. Jeff Treppel premiered the album here yesterday, so be sure to give it a listen.

Revocation, Deathless (Metal Blade): The talent in Revocation is undeniable, and was so obvious when the Boston band started making serious waves five years ago. Dave Davidson is arguably the best metal lead guitarist of his generation, and he has a knack for combining melody and aggression better than most of his peers. Five albums in, though, Davidson and Revocation still have yet to create that one album, hell, that one song that can galvanize audiences and lift this band into the upper tiers of the genre like so many of us expected to happen. Instead, this new album serves up more technical exercises and milquetoast attempts at melody that might please Guitar Centre loiterers but make no effort to win over the casual listener. They’re so close, too. The reaction to this style of music should be immediate; no one should work this hard to find merit in the songs. This isn’t a prog record. Where’s this band’s “Laid to Rest”, “My Last Serenade”, “Blood and Thunder”? But no, we’re left with another album with plenty of chops but with lame attempts at hooks that feel more like lip service than inspiration. I was among the writers proclaiming Revocation would be the next big thing, but a half decade later it’s time to file this band among the long list of modern American metal bands that showed huge initial promise but always failed to produce anything but ordinary, wasting everybody’s time in the process.

Scar Symmetry, The Singularity (Phase 1 – Neohumanity) (Nuclear Blast): The Swedish band has always been made fun of for embracing pop-derived melodies and incorporating them into their brand of melodic death metal, and the fact that I cannot help but hear Winger in this new sixth album won’t exactly help things. But while Winger is commonly thought of as a typical “hair metal” band from the late-‘80s, they were actually anything but. Underneath the lasciviousness and power balladry was a band with incredible musical chops that had an uncanny knack for smartly combining pop music and progressive rock. With this new album – the first in an apparent trilogy – Scar Symmetry similarly finds an even balance between melody, dexterity, and yes, brutality. Because the music is so hook-oriented, so much more than anything the band has done in the past – which is saying something – it will be greeted with scorn by those who claim metal should only be ugly and not “trite”, but this band deserves praise for going all-in, and coming through with a flamboyant yet, oddly enough, subtly extraordinary album.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy

It’s Good to Have Goals and Dreams Can Come True – An Interview with David Rodgers of Southwest Terrorfest

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, interviews On: Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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Around this time last year, we spoke to Godhunter guitarist/vocalist David Rodgers as he was in the process of putting together the second edition of Tucson, AZ’s Southwest Terrorfest (go here to read all about it). At the time, under the Deciblog’s interrogation hot lamps, Rodgers mentioned that one of the bands on his “booking bucket list” was Neurosis. Well, guess what he went and did? Rodgers managed to score the Bay Area legends at this year’s version of the fest alongside the likes of -(16)-, Pelican, Goatsnake, the Body, the Atlas Moth, Author & Punisher amongst many more all set to slowly drop the citizens of Tucson (and beyond) into a cauldron of bubbling hot tar come October 16, 17, 18 and 19. We got in touch with Rodgers as he balanced busyness and elation to talk about the bigger and better version of this year’s fest.

Tell us about how last year went. Was it a success in your eyes?
I think we did 75-80% [of our goal]. Thursday was really good, Saturday was awesome, Friday was OK, Sunday was not good. Not a lot of people showed up on Sunday and it led us to refining a few things like having fewer bands and making for a little less time for people to actually be there.

Would you say those were two of the bigger lessons you learned? How were they applied to this year?
Those were definitely the two most important items. I think we had too many bands last year and some of them just got lost in the shuffle. Some bands played too early in the day when people were still hungover when people don’t necessarily want to see a band play at 2:30 in the afternoon. I know some places like at MDF, people are out at like 11am or noon all bright-eyed and ready to go, but we’re not there. So, we trimmed that back a little and looked at what did work. It worked really well to bring in bands that don’t regularly come through town. Like Kylesa had never been to Tucson before, so a ton of people came out to see them. With Red Fang, [guitarist] Bryan [Giles] is from here, so they’ve played here a lot, but they’ve never played at a big place like The Rock before and it was the most people I’ve ever seen out for them. So, we figured we’d get really good bands that don’t come through Tucson a lot and narrowed it down to no music before 6:30pm. We’ll let people get through their day, get some dinner or whatever, then start up.

At what point did you start working on this year’s version and in light of what happened on Sunday, was there ever a point you were feeling discouraged about the whole thing?
That would have been all day Sunday and probably for a couple weeks afterwards I didn’t know if I wanted to have anything to do with it again. I’m pretty tough on myself; I’m one of those people where even if I win a race, it’ll be like “I didn’t win the race fast enough.” So, it was hard in the moment to see the successes we had because I was concentrated way too much on Sunday not turning out the way I wanted it to. There were bands that had really good crowds on Sunday, but the crowd kind of ebbed and flowed and nobody really stuck around through the whole day. It was like a bunch of kids showed up to see ACxDC and then half of them left and didn’t come back. Or people were there to see Theories, but it was only death-grind kids and that was the only band they wanted to see that day. I’d say by December, we started talking about it. I had come off of a boil a little bit and the other guys were like, “we did really well for most of it, we just kind of blew it here. So, let’s just fix that and do it again, but better.” So, by January and February we were right back into the thick of it and booking again.

Last year you told me that one of the bands on your “booking bucket list” was Neurosis and you got them for this year? What were the circumstances behind that? Was it a matter of you hammering away at them until they said yes?
No, but here’s kind of how the process went. We moved venues this year; we’re not at The Rock any more. We didn’t have a problem with them; they’re great people, it’s just that we knew that if we wanted to step up the headlining bands a little bigger we couldn’t do it there because it’s a limited venue and there’s no backstage area at all. One of the good things that happened last year was that the people who run The Rialto, which is sort of the main theater downtown where everyone loves to play, got really interested in the fest and I think they were at the Kylesa and Red Fang shows. They approached us and asked us what we thought about bringing the fest downtown. That had always been our intention from the start; to get it to where it was big enough to have it downtown so everyone could walk between venues, hotels, restaurants and bars and it doesn’t become a thing where people have to drive to and park their cars. So, once they got on board, we sat down with them and literally just made up a wish list. They had a couple bands they threw on to the list.  They also wanted to get Sleep, so we pursued Sleep and High on Fire, but I think High on Fire is recording an album this month and couldn’t do it, so we kind of have them on the shelf for next year, hopefully. And then I threw out a couple names for the list, which were Goatsnake, which I thought was a more realistic chance, and Neurosis, which was our number one choice. So, as it is, I know Ron Martinez who runs Crawlspace Booking and books for Neurosis now. I’ve done shows for his bands in the past and he knows I’ve been doing this stuff for years. I talked to him and asked him to talk to the guys and see if it was something they would be interested in if the money was right. With Neurosis, it has to be something they’re interested in. You could throw a boatload of money at them, but if they’re opening for Papa Roach or some shit, they’re going to say no. They want it to be something that’s unique and something that’s sort based around them because they’ve reached that status now. So, we talked money, it went really smoothly and quickly and Neurosis was actually the very first band confirmed this year. The good part about that is that once you reach out to the rest of the bands and you say, “by the way, Neurosis is the Saturday headliner” everything really falls into place after that.

With that in mind, and I don’t know if you’ve even thought this far ahead, but does this make it that much more of a challenge for you next year?
It will be a challenge, but we’re not going to try and one-up ourselves every year though. One thing we refined was the mix that we had last year. The Sacred Reich day was all fast, thrash and death metal bands and Sunday was a lot of punk, hardcore and crust stuff. We kind of did away with doing different days and said, “let’s just have a theme and once we get a couple of headliners, we’ll see where that theme is going.” Once we got Neurosis and Goatsnake on board it was looking like it was going to be a ‘slow’ year in that none of the bands playing are blazingly fast. Next year, we’re going to do a fast year. So we already have bands lined up and I’ve talked to a couple people who are interested in it. Neurosis is definitely a legendary band, but luckily there are a lot of bands out there who have that same gravitas as Neurosis and for what it looks like we’ll be doing next year, I think people will be just as into it.

Last year you also talked about possibly and eventually working with the city, like shutting down streets and outdoor stages and stuff. Obviously that’s not happening, but I did notice the Tucscon Weekly did a big profile on you and the fest recently. Are you finding “non-metal” parts of the city getting friendlier with you?
Absolutely. That was how we got in with The Rialto and once we were in with them, the folks at Hotel Congress, which is literally across the street and has been around for hundreds of years – it’s where John Dillinger got caught and it’s always written up as one of America’s best bars and venues – once they saw we were at The Rialto and doing the after shows at The District, they came over to me and said that The District won’t be open next year and that they wanted the after shows. It’s really cool that the downtown set that doesn’t normally pay attention to underground metal have looked at it and see exactly what’s going on. We have an awesome music scene in Tucscon, tons of really good bands and what’s crazy is the way they cross-pollinate. You may have heard of a band called Sex Prisoner that’s on a389; their drummer Gilbert is the guitarist in this completely different super-indie garage band band called Prom Body which have been in Pitchfork and the New York Times. The folks downtown are starting to realise that these guys that play in bands that regularly play there have these other bands that are just as popular, but are from this other heavier genre that they ignored before. For the folks at Club Congress who generally don’t get behind metal shows – I think Red Fang, the Sword and maybe Helmet is the heaviest it’s ever gotten there – to get behind this is a huge step forward. And this year we have people who are flying in from Australia, Germany and South America and making reservations at Hotel Congress and other hotels downtown.

With time are you finding the process of booking and doing this getting smoother and easier as you go along?
It’s definitely gotten easier. You make a few new contacts, talk to this booking agent, meet new people and start putting puzzle pieces together. Some of the things do get a little ridiculous at times. The SWTF email inbox at this point is probably 96% bands that want to play that aren’t from this genre at all. Like we got Neurosis, so I don’t mind if a sludge band or whatever writes asking if there are any spaces left. I get it. But there’s a real funny one right now where I’ve had a 40-50 email exchange with a Russian folk band that, in the beginning, I said “thank you, but no” to. I think they took the ‘thank you’ as a ‘yes, I want to book you.’ They then started writing me about when they should expect their plane tickets and hotel reservations and all that and the whole time I’m writing them back, “Guys, I’m not bringing you to America.” I know there’s a way to do it with visas and whatnot, but I’m not there yet. So, even if they were in the genre that I wanted, I couldn’t do it. It got to the point where they started getting really snippy with me, as if I was backing out on a deal with them. So, it was kind of mean of me, I know, but at that point I introduced them to this Nigerian prince I know that had $40 million that he needed to clear and told them if you send this guy your info, he’ll put money in your account, use that money to buy your plane tickets and we’ll be waiting for you [laughs].

Having said that, in the future are you looking at bringing bands from overseas that you’ll eventually have to do paperwork and visa applications for or don’t you want to deal with the hassle?
Yes. I’d love to book Bolt Thrower and Electric Wizard and if I ever do that, I know I’ll have to figure it out. I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, those are obviously super-expensive bands as well and I have to know I can consistently sell enough to provide for bringing those bands over as well. But we have talked about the future and about how at some point one of us is going to have to learn to do work visas and whatnot. It’s just more paperwork; I’ll work it out.

October 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th
Rialto Theatre | The District Tavern
Tucson, Arizona

Thursday night: Kickoff show at The District:
10:00 – 10:30 Conqueror Worm (Tucson)
10:45 – 11:15 Twingiant (Phoenix)
11:30 – 12:15 Oryx (NM)
12:30 – 1:30 -(16)- (CA)

Friday night: Main show at Rialto:
6:30 – 7:00 Godhunter (Tucson)
7:15 – 7:55 Eagle Twin (UT)
8:10 – 9:00 Pelican (IL)
9:15 – 10:15 Goatsnake (CA)

Friday night: After show at The District:
10:30 – 11:00 Spiritual Shepherd (NV)
11:15 – 11:45 TOAD (Phoenix)
12:00 – 12:30 BlackQueen (WA)
12:45 – 1:45 The Atlas Moth (IL)

Saturday night: Main show at Rialto:
6:30 – 7:00 Sorxe (Phoenix)
7:15 – 7:45 Author & Punisher (CA)
8:00 – 8:40 The Body (OR)
8:55 – 10:45 Neurosis (CA)

Saturday night: After show at The District:
10:30 – 11:00 Windmill Of Corpses (Prescott)
11:15 – 11:45 Secrets Of The Sky (CA)
12:00 – 12:30 North (Tucson)
12:45 – 1:45 Primitive Man (CO)

Sunday night: Main show at Rialto:
6:00 – 6:30 Sex Prisoner (Tucson)
6:45 – 7:15 Obliterations (CA)
7:30 – 8:00 Baptists (Canada)

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Die in Hell!: Author Lewis Dimmick Uncovers Hardcore Hero Tom Capone’s Mutilated Metal Roots

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

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Last year we excerpted a couple selections from Lewis Dimmick’s excellent book This Music over at the Metalnomicon. He came back not long ago to take us behind the scenes of hardcore megaliths Sheer Terror. Today he returns with another great guest essay on Beyond/Quicksand guitarist Tom Capone’s metal roots and his uber-brutal Mutilator fanzine…

In 1985, Tom Capone, renowned guitarist for New York Hardcore legends Beyond and post-hardcore trailblazers Quicksand, published a single issue of Mutilator fanzine. It documented the proliferating world of underground metal: thrash metal; death metal; satanic metal; power metal; deathcore thrash.

Playing fast and destroying wimps and posers are dominant themes throughout the issue.

As the title of the fanzine might suggest, Tom was something of an outcast in high school. Mutilator was his creative outlet: interviewing bands; trading tapes; writing letters — you know, on paper, delivered by a postman, that guy with the funny outfit who’s always getting bitten by a dog — typing out interviews on a manual typewriter; learning to cut and paste layouts together.

“Seeing other zines was what inspired me to do my own,” Tom tells me. “I ordered the Hellhammer demo from a zine called Kick Ass Monthly. That demo made Venom sound like Mickey Mouse. No one knew about all these underground bands. They were doing really advanced stuff. It was genius.”

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The initial batch of Mutilator was fifty copies. Dutch East India Trading, a prominent distributor, saw a copy and was impressed; they asked for two hundred more.

STREAMING: Nightbringer “Ego Dominus Tuus” + Naas Alcameth (Nightbringer) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Monday, September 22nd, 2014

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** U.S. black metallers Nightbringer are an entity unto themselves. The Colorado-based trio make music unlike any other. The group’s new album, Ego Dominus Tuus, is a haunting reality check of the darkness that is around us and the darkness that consumes us. Claustrophobic, uncompromisingly intense, and yet very musical (think Classical), Ego Dominus Tuus is the answer to brow-beater, mouth-breather black metal. Nightbringer brings sophistication to the genre. Nightbringer brings the genre to new places, some real, some ritualistic. Either way, Nightbringer is America’s answer to black metal. All should hail! All should bow!

FULL ALBUM STREAM AT BOTTOM OF POST!

Is Ego Dominus Tuus merely the follow-up to Hierophany of the Open Grave or is it something else entirely?
Naas Alcameth: Musically, there is much departure from previous works I would say. The core elements that are the foundational musical identity of Nightbringer are still present, of course, but there is a lot that has changed. The approach was much more refined this time and more time, and emphasis was given to the dynamic of the guitar, bass and keyboard lines while keeping with the overall goal of composing movements highly evocative of images appropriate to the subject matter: darkness, night, strife, furor, majesty and so on. Lyrically ,there are of course some shared subjects between Ego and some of our previous releases given that they are all inspired by certain esoteric traditions, and such traditions, at their core, aren’t transient, yet it is not reiteration of what has already been said. That would be somewhat pointless. You could say that this path we are undertaking, spiritually speaking, like any true path, is something that begins to change at the onset, or more accurately it changes you, and with the first attempted step, mystery gives way to little truths and what you thought was truth gives way to more mystery in an ongoing process. This all sounds very nebulous and vague perhaps, but it is the best way I can explain this inner movement, and it is this process which inspires esoteric art, which is what we consider Nightbringer to be, so, not unlike this process, each offering from us musically is like an epiphany, another ray of light, refracted through the prism of our souls from the same light source, way-markers upon a very long path that we have just barely set foot upon.

There’s an uncommon density to Ego Dominus Tuus. Is Nightbringer’s goal to occupy sonic space and consume it?
Naas Alcameth: I think it is less of a goal and more of a habit, a natural consequence of our preference for grandiose and elaborate compositions. I have said in the past that I view our approach to compositions akin to a mason’s approach to constructing cathedrals. We are building cathedrals of sound with the same intention that a mason constructs a cathedral of stone—for the glorification of our Lord. The compositions are often complex and high-arching in order to relay the same sense intended with the cathedral. The symbolism and intent is the same, albeit who or what we praise is not. With that said, one can just as effectively relay this spiritual gravity by carving a few lines in a single stone. Minimalism is an art unto itself and when done with mastery can move the soul as profoundly as the most elaborate work.

Musically speaking, Nightbringer doesn’t sound too tied to the tropes of black or death metal. There’s almost a classical sense to the band’s musical approach. Comment on this, please.
Naas Alcameth: The old black metal influences are present still of course, but I agree with your statement overall. This has everything to do with our love of classical music. We have much appreciation for individuals such as Bach and Rachmaninov to contemporaries such as Legitti and Arvo Part. I am also a huge fan of Elend. It is also no coincidence that our black metal influences are those few old bands who incorporated this same classical approach.

Is there something deeper with the title, Ego Dominus Tuus, which translates to something like “I am your lord”?
Naas Alcameth: Certainly. The meaning is manifold. At the surface it is both commandment and revelation and says much about where one stands, at various points along a dark initiatic path, in relation to the God(s). It also ties directly into a certain divine name that serves as cipher for a hermetic process of tribulation that is represented as a hierarchical trinity.

What significance does religion have to humanity at this stage in our history?
Naas Alcameth: Keeping in mind that word ‘religion’ is somewhat inadequate as a description of what we are speaking of, given the inevitable associations that come with it, I would say that it mirrors the current state of man and the cyclic stage he finds himself in, i.e. the Kali-Yuga. It is an inevitable process of movement away from forms that may have at one point housed sacred truth to forms that are all but completely profane; we find such forms wanting, empty. It is like building a temple to house and nurture a flame, in order that others might come to be within its light, yet becoming so entranced with the edifice itself that the flame becomes forgotten, and so it is now long gone out from the temple (this could very well also serve as an allegory for spiritually inspired music as mentioned above). The temple may be empty, but we remember, while most continue to tend to the temple not even realizing a real flame was ever present, or in their ignorance mistaking sentimentality, “social progress” and the like for the flame. Most do not even bother, as the light of the modern world is enough to light their lives. Science and a purely human reason have replaced the sense of the sacred. For such people, the quantitative has become the temple, and no other truth exists. In truth, this ‘flame’ I am symbolically speaking of cannot go out. It is everywhere and in all things eternally regardless of how dead the world has become to it.

Do you see separation between Abrahamic religion and other religions of the world, ancient and contemporary?
Naas Alcameth: This is a vast topic that can only be briefly touched upon here. In approach and spirit, yes, most certainly there is a separation. To be sure, one can find similarities, but it should be stressed that the Abrahamic religions adopted and adapted (some would say stole) some of their more foundational myths from the Babylonians before them (see Herman Gunkel) and took much of their philosophy from the Greeks. When it comes to the more esoteric aspects of the Abrahamic faiths, things become complex, though even here there are differences. I will leave it at that, since it is hard to say more without going into much more detail.

There are references to magic in your music. What is magic?
Naas Alcameth: Let me now reiterate something I have recently stated elsewhere, that for us to even begin to speak of these things in this context, to try to lay bare and relay the profound mysteries of magic, is to speak with a vast measure of inevitable falsehood, as the only way to truly know something is to be it, and we are in no position to speak on such matters with a voice of authority, as to do so will ring hollow and only serve to make mockery of what we tell you we believe to be sacred. We can only speak of the shadow of the thing but not of the thing itself, by way of symbol and allegory as well as the innate inborn intuition and lastly and most importantly, by the most fleeting of glimpses of what we have indeed experienced, in dream or in practice, but of nothing else, and to do otherwise runs the risk of quickly becoming absurd, an unintentional sophistry but sophistry never the less, something we have painfully come to realize and cautiously reassess. So let me sum this question up by quoting someone who could indeed speak with an authoritative voice on the matter of magic…

“Magick is the transmutability of the Quintessence of all nature.” ~ Andrew D. Chumbley

And now let me follow it with this…

“Always we want to learn from outside, from absorbing other people’s knowledge…. The trouble is that it’s alwaysother people’s knowledge.” ~Peter Kingsley

How does Yeats play into the title?
Naas Alcameth: The title was inspired by Yeats conception of the Daemon. This Daemon and one’s ‘otherness’ is central to our beliefs as relayed within the lyrics.

Black metal isn’t often literary outside of the usual suspects. What have you been reading lately?
Naas Alcameth: I have been reading some of the works of Algris Uzdavinys, Peter Kingsley, Johannes Nefastos and have most recently started going through Chumbley’s Dragon Book of Essex.

Tell us about the cover art by David Herrerias. How does it relate to the music?
Naas Alcameth: The album cover depicts the hierarchical triad, the enigma of the sacred name and path spoken of above. David is involved with many of the same esoteric currents we value which only further strengthened the symbolism used. He did an absolutely brilliant job.

What do you think of the current state of US black metal and where it’s headed?
Naas Alcameth: I am mostly ambivalent towards the scene in general. I like the bands I like, and am very appreciative of the good black metal that does surface, regardless of location. For me that is really enough. I can say that I have been really impressed with Funeral Presence.

Why is darkness so unfrightening now? Or perhaps darkness is merely light in another guise.
Naas Alcameth: Aesthetic has become unfrightening perhaps. Darkness? No… People have adopted this idea that darkness is simply an idea, a concept as effuse as a daydream, opposed to something real. Darkness is as real and alive as you or I, so much more so. There is a tendency not to fear what you are simply not aware of, what you truly do not know and have no real reference to even begin to know. True darkness, in its most profound sense, is the very heart of all fear. Those that experience this darkness experience what it actually means to die, to die in the most profound possible way, and none but those that have learned how to “die before they die” could possibly be in darkness without fear. Some of us have come close to this darkness in dreams (especially in dreams) or during meditation, or during hallucinations and those of us who have respect the magnitude of what this is and understand a fear that is far beyond the mortal fear of physical harm. This darkness is the dispersion of who you are (what you think you are is more correct). It is the slipping away of everything, literally everything, and all you know to be you. It is complete and utter annihilation, and yet it is also the road to salvation. This all sounds very melodramatic, but the truth of it hums just beneath the surface of your waking reality, and all one needs to do is to deprive one’s self of all senses for a duration of time to begin to understand, to feel this truth. Even still most will rationalize the significance away afterwards, like treating a burn (as the darkness burns all who enter) with an anesthetic until the significance is buried under the numbness of reason. Learn to be still (so that you may feel this darkness), learn to be silent (that you may hear it speak) and learn to die (that you may for the first time live). This is what we seek. Nothing less.

** Nightbringer’s new album, Ego Dominus Tuus, is out September 30th on Season of Mist. It’s available HERE (domestic!) for Pre-Order. We recommend clicking the link before Eschaton brings us all down.

Help Katherine Ludwig Annihilate Her Cancer

By: jeanne.fury Posted in: featured On: Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Katherine Ludwig, pioneering metal maniac

If there’s a select group of people responsible for Decibel becoming the magazine it is today, one of those people is undoubtedly Katherine Ludwig. Why? Because as the founding editor of Metal Maniacs magazine, she helped spearhead extreme-music journalism. Unlike the more popular Metal Edge, a sort of US Weekly of hair metal bands, Metal Maniacs saw extreme music and bands as topics just as worthy of insightful discourse as whatever acts were in the pages of Rolling Stone.

“A lot of people tell me that by Metal Maniacs not being one-dimensional, it made them feel less alone,” she told me in 2012, for Decibel’s Women in Metal issue. “Like they weren’t the only metalhead in the world who wasn’t sexist, and read books, and actually questioned authority instead of just complaining about it. People have told me they became vegetarian, or vegan, or a feminist, or started voting because of the magazine. All of this floors me, stuns me, slays me. I still can’t believe it.”

Katherine’s stance made a profound impact on many Decibel writers, and now she needs a little help. She was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and friends set up a Facebook page to help boost her spirits and raise money. Click here to join the LymphoManiac: Help Katherine Ludwig Annihilate Her Cancer Facebook page. There’s also a YouCaring page where you can donate toward her care.

Look for an interview with Katherine in an upcoming issue of Decibel. Meanwhile, throw your support behind this trailblazing badass as she pummels her NHL into remission.

Getcho’ Nerd On: Deconstructing Sequence

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists, videos On: Friday, September 5th, 2014

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UK time travelers Deconstructing Sequence have recorded a new 2-song EP called Access Code, amounting to more than 16 minutes of new music.  Yeah, that doesn’t really sound like a lot, but the futuristic mech-out violence metes out a very high quality to make up for the relatively low quantity.  They pack as much music into these tunes as a doom band can fit into eight hours, so we’re not complaining.

To celebrate the release of Access Code, we asked DS to tell us about their ten favorite sci-fi movies so we could all get in the mood before diving headfirst into their space-age explosion.  Here’s what they said:

Fahrenheit 451 by François Truffaut

A dystopian future where firefighters have only one mission: find your beloved books and burn them. Did they ever deal with extinguishing fire? Nonsense… everything is built fireproof. The only threat to your well-being are books, which spawn emotions – the greatest plague of modern humanity. Although very old this movie is still enjoyable to watch, despite some funny special FX.

Mad Max by George Miller

A very delightful vision of postapocalyptic and anarchistic future! Mel Gibson, before he decided to torment Christ on screen, managed to create very interesting character that has little to say during the movie, which is overall scarce in dialogue. But thanks to that the weight of building the atmosphere is shifted towards visual side which works very well.

They Live by  John Carpenter

Obey, marry and reproduce, no independent thought, consume, watch TV, money is your god… I think the brainwashing procedures that aliens imposed on the society in this 80’s classic are pretty well executed by great portion of our modern counterparts. This movie is a great allegory of consumerism that is still very up to date. Governments control us to make us dumb? I think we are doing the job very well ourselves. And of course one of the most badass movie quotes that was borrowed later by creators of Duke Nukem was uttered here: “I have come here to chew bubblegum an kick some ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum…”

Blade Runner by Ridley Scott

A very interesting adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel, that has little in common with the book. Ridley Scott basically just borrowed the concept and created it’s own dark, futuristic setting with killer machines on the run, that is graphically very impressive even now and in some ways is even better than animated worlds offered by today’s cinema. And if you’ve watched the movie, grab the book. You’ll plunge deeper into this world, and have a chance to grasp very interesting religious and emotional aspects of it.

Dune by David Lynch

Another very interesting adaptation. I remember watching it for the first time as a teenager and afterwards being mesmerized and confused at the same time. I had to watch it several times to get all the pieces together, spot every minor detail and build the big picture. I enjoy very much that kind of movies, music and art in general and this is the approach we take on our music. We tend to make it a bit complicated, so you’ll need some spins to hear all the details. This kind of art is a bit difficult to digest, but that makes it more rewarding and interesting. The movie itself was criticized by Herbert’s fans for not being true to the book, but seriously, you just can’t recreate the written word on the screen, you can only play with it for better or worse. And I think that Lynch did a great job on this one.

1984 by Michael Radford

Approach on Orwell’s book that came out very well. This one covers most of the major elements of the original story and adds additional depth in terms of vision and sound. This film depicts grayness of futuristic, dystopian United Kingdom perfectly with rich details, or rather lack of them. Scenery of ruined, dull and empty city, colors used, the uniforms characters wear… all of it forms a very compelling picture. Similar to “They Live” Orwell did an interesting job on predicting the future, maybe it didn’t turned out to be so hopeless, but still with all the invigilation… the Big Brother is watching!

12 Monkeys by Terry Gilliam

One of the authors of Monty Python proved himself to be a formidable director in other genres than comedy. 12 Monkeys is another futuristic setting, where mankind goes to hell… love it! Movie with great atmosphere achieved by well created scenography and camera work. An I even like Brad Pitt in here…

Aliens by James Cameron

Now a proper sci-fi movie! Space marines blasting big bugs with acid instead of blood! I don’t think anyone needs an introduction to this one, a classic that spawned entire lines of comics and video games. Cameron did a great movie, but let be honest, this franchise wouldn’t be half as popular if not for the presence of the most iconic alien creature spawned in the demented mind of H.R. Giger – the Xenomorph.

ALIENS

A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick

Not that much of sci-fi cinema, but since imdb.com categorizes it this way I decided to put it here, because this one is so damn good. The violence, classical music and a murder with a giant penis… Both novel and the movie spawned a lot of controversy, but that’s not the main reason to watch it. Deconstruction of main characters’ violent mind that goes through “innovative” resocialization program is what makes it memorable.

2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick

A haunting and mesmerizing classic of the sci-fi genre that changed my perception of movies forever! I remember watching it for the first time as a kid. It was my first encounter with this kind of avant-garde approach, not your regular lasers, robots ’n’ explosions kind of sci-fi experience. Everything about this movie was so cold, sterile and static it made me feel anxious, I remained tense through entire piece. And after the final, ten minute long scene of Bowman exploring the Monolith in a series of surreal and hypnotic images  I realized that lasers and robots suck and this is my kind of cinema! I had Bowman’s quote “my God, it’s full of stars” saved on my hard drive for years and finally had a chance to utilize it as an intro in our upcoming production.

Tales From the Metalnomicon: The Return of Dustin LaValley

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

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Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a column delving into the vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…

Some readers may recall Dustin LaValley’s memorable Metalnomicon bow a little over a year ago. We’ve invited the literary extremist back today to give us the lowdown on Swallowed: A Hypersexual Romance, his new novel of down n’ dirty heavy metal erotica, along with an exclusive soundtrack to crank while you’re you know, reading…

I have always let the story take me to where it wanted to be, never let genre(s) stand in the way. Whenever an idea comes along, I let it come naturally and wherever it falls when it’s finished being written is where I aim to have it published. In the past that’s been action, thriller, horror, comedy, drama… There has always been an aggressive stance at sexuality in my fiction. As a reader I noticed a lot of authors danced around it, like some taboo that is only to be thought, perhaps maybe muttered during sex, but never fully brought to light. Either these authors have incredibly boring sex lives or they are censoring themselves, keeping things nice and safe and plain, Puritan-like.

I had an idea to do a memoir, to keep nothing hidden and after some thought, decided that sex, illness and hardcore shows wasn’t much of a book, so I added in some fiction. Most of this book is true, I’ve taken certain liberties with it, but for the most part I’d say seventy-five percent is true to life. (I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve been on my deathbed.)

Wanting Swallowed to be as LaValley as LaValley could be, I stuck with the formula that I’ve been using for my more literary work, and that is: fuck with everything…

Mastodon, “Blood and Thunder” and “I Am Ahab”

This one was chosen due to the fact that the woman in chapter it’s listened to, was brought up in discussion when we met as she was wearing their t-shirt. From there we hit the jukebox and played some tracks from Leviathan.

Metallica, “Dyers Eve,” “One” and most of …And Justice For All

These tracks were usual go-tos for any bar I hit up with Ant, real name Tim. Mostly due to the fact that the album is on most jukeboxes and that “Dyers Eve” and “One” are fucking badass.

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Suicidal Tendencies, “Go Skate!” and “Institutionalized”

Sounds of the Damned: Chris Alexander Talks Fangoria Musick

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews On: Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

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To paraphrase the demon that once mauled Albert Brooks in his own car on the side of a darkened road back in ’83: Hey, d’ya you want to hear something really scary?

Yeah? You sure?

Alright, then, Fangoria Musick — the exquisitely eclectic, ceaselessly unsettling new digital download music label from the legendary flagship magazine of dark cinema and culture — is here to whisper (and sometimes scream!) not-so-sweet spine-chilling somethings to you through those innocent looking earbuds of yours.

“A lot of bands out there that are good at math — they’re like the telepods in The Fly,” Fangoria Editor-in-Chief Chris Alexander tells Decibel when we inquire just how in the hell he managed to summon one of the best labels in sinister cinematic music seeming out of the ether in less than two months time. “They go in one side and come out the other exactly the same — information regurgitated exactly as inputted. You can reproduce anything, but if there’s no stamp of originality…what’s the point? We’re looking for those bands that get the fly — whatever that may represent, musically — mixed up on the journey and create a completely new beast.”

Alexander knows more than a bit of which he speaks: Aside from his kinetic, distinct writerly salvos, the modern day Renaissance man creates both music — the glorious, kaleidoscopic 2012 mindfuck Music for Murder and its worthy, 100 percent free Fangoria Musick successor Beyond the Darkness: An Audio Nightmare — and ethereal, otherworldly films — Blood for Irina; the upcoming Queen of Blood — that truly earn the typically too-freely given accolade “boundary-pushing.”

Oh, yeah, and dude also once boxed House of the Dead director Uwe Boll

Alexander was recently kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to chat with Decibel about the launch of Fangoria Musick, his own work as a composer and filmmaker, and the joys of getting Ogre from Skinny Puppy to vomit blood in the woods on command…

You only put up the call for submissions a few weeks ago — are you surprised at all by how quickly you were able to put together such a high quality stable of artists?

I suppose I was taken a little off guard by how much cool, weird stuff came in. I presumed I’d be getting a lot of third-rate rock n’ roll bands with a bunch of skulls painted on their guitars singing psychobilly songs about Dracula rocking out in a tomb or something. That’s not scary; that’s not horror. So for someone whose personal tastes lean more toward the abstract and atmospheric — in both music and cinema — to have people sending me all this really interesting avant garde stuff has been just great.

That last statement is only a tiny bit ironic coming from a guy harboring such an outspoken love for Kiss!

Sucker For Punishment: Buying Time is Here

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

mortals

When it came to new metal music in the first half of 2014, personally I feel it was mediocre at best, with only one album, Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata, deserving of the adjective “exemplary” a rung or two higher than a small handful of releases that qualify as being “very good”. However, this year’s release schedule is so heavily weighted towards the latter half of the year, that any publication’s “best of the year so far” lists seem pointless. Looking at only the next three months, I counted around 20 new albums, nearly all of which I have heard, that are worthy of consideration for my own ballot for Decibel’s year-end writer’s poll. Considering the fact that less than ten percent of the more than 300 albums I listened to and wrote about from January to July were worthy of singling out, that number is staggering. I said a while back that 2014 would get a lot better, really fast, and here in this second week of July it’s gotten truly nuts. The summer release schedule is officially off to a rampaging start this week, with no fewer than seven, maybe eight new albums you must hear. So while the music is often on the doomy and gloomy side, the forecast for the next few months is anything but. Get ready for some fantastic new tunes.

Bongripper, Miserable (self-released): By now you should know exactly what to expect from the Chicago foursome, nothing but slow, deliberate, mind-bogglingly heavy instrumental doom. Contrary to Earthless’s explorations of the more textured side of the sound, and Shooting Guns’ smart blend of krautrock and psychedelia, Bongripper is all about sheer metallic force. If you’ve ever seen them live, you know what I’m talking about. What this seventh album also proves, though, that for all the Conan-levels of knuckle-dragging doom, the band is also capable of strong dynamics, only with the speed, or lack thereof, with which they work, it requires a little patience. Let these three compositions flow, though, and you’ll find just how well everything shifts gears subtly, naturally, and enthrallingly. The album is currently available as a name-your-price download via Bandcamp, and if you like the doom, this is a total no-brainer.

Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket, In A Dutch Haze (Outer Battery/Roadburn): At a festival like Roadburn it’s impossible to see everything, but one omission from my 2012 experience that I always regretted was the collaboration between J. Mascis, his Heavy Blanket bandmate Graham Clise, and the rhythm section from San Diego psychedelic rock institution Earthless. That performance generated a fair amount of buzz afterward, and now that it’s been released as a special live album you can understand why. A sprawling, hour-long jam it ebbs and flows from mellow passages to pure rampaging hard rock, Mascis and Clise shredding all the while. Some have pointed out that the presence of Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell is missed, and that’s understandable given his talent and the chemistry Earthless is renowned for, but this jam works well in its own ragged, immaculately stoned way.

Exordium Mors, The Apotheosis of Death (Iron Blood & Death): Considering the past work of bands like Ulcerate and Beastwars, and two absolute stunners in 2014 courtesy Diocletian and now Exordium Mors, something is happening way over on the other side of the world in New Zealand. It’d be easy to call this kiwi obscurity “blackened thrash”, but there’s a whole hell of a lot more going on under the surface. The Absu influence looms large, but most importantly, so does the specter of Mercyfrl Fate, as the guitar work shows flashes of flamboyance that you just don’t hear in American metal. There’s no shame in showing a little instrumental flash amidst such otherwise primitive sounds, and to hear that kind of bombast juxtaposed with such brutal black/death music is a welcome thing to these ears (and wait, was that some Messiah Marcolin-style singing on one track?). Highlighted by a sprawling, 30-minute suite and continuing into three more concise tracks, this is a great example of how it’s often best to be far removed from any particular metal “scene”. With no hive mind to follow, left to think for oneself, this band has put a very unique spin on extreme metal, one that’s plenty towering and formidable, but most importantly, stands out because of its unwillingness to be categorized. This is a splendid debut full-length. Preview and purchase via Bandcamp.

Goatwhore, Constricting Rage Of The Merciless (Metal Blade): It’s not that Goatwhore made a bad album – for these guys that’s just impossible – but I just wasn’t as absorbed by 2012’s Blood For the Master as I was by 2009’s stupendous Carving Out the Eyes of God. It didn’t grab me enough; after all, you can imitate Celtic Frost all you want, but even Celtic Frost had hooks. This new sixth album, however, is a big, big return to the form of five years ago, thanks to a bevy of tracks that waste no time getting in your head. “Reanimated Sacrifice” is more of that Warrior worship, “Schadenfreude” sneaks in some very strong melodies, “Fucked By Satan” and “Externalize This Hidden Savagery” are a pair of delirious ragers, and best of all, “Baring Teeth For Revolt” is the best Goatwhore song since “Apocalyptic Havoc”. As per usual, the New Orleans band will be touring like mad, and it’s good to know they have a tremendous album to promote. Buy this one.

Gotthard, Bang! (The End): I always found the Swiss band’s popularity in Europe inexplicable, and then I saw them perform a couple shows a year and a half ago. It’s shameless ‘80s pop metal, but much to my surprise it was performed with great energy and charisma, and listening to their 11th album that pleasant feeling is palpable. Never mind how often the band rips off Sykes-era Whitesnake and all the clichés that entails, “Jump the Gun”, “Feel What I Feel”, and the title track are great tunes that dad rock (or in my case, uncle rock) fans would thoroughly enjoy.

Judas Priest, Redeemer of Souls (Epic): Having already written several pieces about the new Judas Priest album, including a review in the next issue of Decibel, I’m reluctant to go into great detail again for fear of self-plagiarizing. However, I will say Redeemer of Souls is a joy, from start to finish. Richie Faulkner has proven to be a terrific replacement for the retired K.K. Downing, and you can tell he’s brought new life to the band’s new songs. All 13 tracks – and the five bonus tracks on the deluxe edition too – burst with life, channeling the better moments from Painkiller as well as the more melodic moments from Screaming For Vengeance. It’s a huge step up from the wildly uneven Nostradamus, simply Judas Priest being Judas Priest, and by keeping things simple the band has reasserted why Priest remains the truest living embodiment of heavy metal. It’s important for a genre’s masters to make vital music, and it’s a pleasure to see this band back in peak form.

Mortals, Cursed To See the Future (Relapse): I stumbled across Brooklyn trio Mortals a couple years ago and was thoroughly impressed by the intense combination of black metal, doom, and sludge they created. The more I followed their progress, the more impressed I became with their willingness to let things grow. They were signed to Relapse incredibly quickly, in early 2013, but they smartly kept working on new material and honing their work on the road. By the time I finally saw them perform in person last fall, they’d become something a lot more formidable than I’d heard on record, and the much-anticipated debut album captures that live power extremely well. Guitarist Elizabeth Cline and bassist Lesley Wolf bring feral ferocity to Cursed to See the Future, from the buzzsaw riffs to the snarled lead vocals, while drummer Caryn Havlik punctuates and propels the songs with startling authority. This is a band absolutely brimming with ideas, and at times you feel that some of the songs don’t have to approach the nine-minute mark, but that’s a very minor gripe, as this music roars with a level of intensity I haven’t quite heard lately. It’s a remarkable effort. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Origin, Omnipresent (Nuclear Blast): It’s so interesting how Origin, a band that helped pioneer the full-on, brickwalled assault that is post-2000 technical death metal, has made a significant change in the way the band makes an album. Musician and producer Colin Marston is a sworn enemy of that overly loud production and mastering, and what he’s done with Origin on its sixth album is so simple, yet so overlooked in extreme metal, creating distinct space in the sound. The music is as dense as ever, but it now breathes, and is so much easier to take in. The trio of guitarist Paul Ryan, bassist Mike Flores, and drummer John Longstreth is as great as any death metal band working today, and they flourish on these dozen tracks. More death metal should sound like this.

Sonic Syndicate, Sonic Syndicate (Nuclear Blast): Still carrying on like it’s 2004, still mimicking Killswitch Engage, still showing no musical growth whatsoever, still hilarious.

Steel Prophet, Omniscient (Cruz del Sur): At its most focused, Steel Prophet’s first album in a decade is adequate prog/power metal, galloping along in its Iced Earthy way, rife with robust Nevermore-isms and moments of Symphony X-stasy. But for some insane reason this thing quickly loses itself in 9-11 conspiracy theories, awful psychedelic interludes about taking a meander through oleander, aliens and Richard Nixon, George Orwell, and a truly awful cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I’m all for ridiculousness in metal, but this much ridiculousness? Goodness, no.

Vintersorg, Naturbål (Napalm): The musical partnership of Andreas Hedlund and Mattias Marklund has yielded some very good Viking metal over the years, but the band has been especially strong as of late, with 2011’s album Jordpuls turning out to be one of Vintersorg’s finest moments on record. Naturbål – Swedish for “nature’s bonfire” – continues that positive momentum nicely, the band’s epic yet welcoming music equally bracing and affable. Hedlund is in his usual strong vocal form – it’s always nice to hear Viking metal with actual singing rather than growling – while these compositions skitter gracefully from blastbeats, to palm-muted marches, to more contemplative, melodic fare.

Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestite (Artemisia): The latest album by Olympia, Washington brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver seems like a severe departure, but is it really? Sure, all the guitars and drums have been replaced by vintage synthesizers and a wind ensemble, but essentially this is very much the same kind of music, the same hypnotic chord progressions and melodies as heard on their past work. Only this time, instead of following the lead of Weakling they’re looking to Tangerine Dream for inspiration. With that “Cascadian black metal” gimmick so played out, it’s encouraging to see Wolves in the Throne Room branch out more, but this music follows more than it should lead, often feeling too derivative, not exactly coming through with many assertive ideas. The music just floats along complacently, going nowhere, achieving nothing. If the goal was to strip the band’s music of all metallic trappings to expose the real core underneath, you can’t help but wonder just how hollow and empty this whole thing was from the start.

Wolvhammer, Clawing Into Black Sun (Profound Lore): A little restraint in extreme metal goes a long way. After capturing people’s attention with a pair of outwardly hostile, aggressive albums, the Minnesota-based band takes a much more measured approach on this new record, and the difference is, ironically, colossal. It’s not unlike when Nachtmystium toyed with psychedelic rock on the classic Instinct: Decay, how the music here reins all the aggression in. There’s more control, and consequently more space within to work, and songs like “The Desanctification” and “The Silver Key” benefit immensely, with even a slight gothic influence creeping in, most noticeably on the subdued “A Light That Doesn’t Yield”. That’s not to say the music is any less intense – that couldn’t be farther from the case – but by pulling its punches just a little, Wolvhammer still manages to score a wicked knockout. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

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