We presume they had some turkey and stuffing, but Drugs of Faith also celebrated Thanksgiving week by releasing the four-track EP Architectural Failures. The effort–the trio’s first since 2011′s Corroded full-length–is hopefully just a taste of what’s to come as the Virginians are set to drop their next LP in 2014. In the meantime, vocalist/guitarist Richard Johnson (who appeared with Pig Destroyer at our 100th issue show) told us about a “fistful of bands that have had an effect on Drugs of Faith’s development over the years.” Check them out below while you listen along here.
Bolt Thrower’s “Through The Eye Of Terror” (from 1989′s Realm of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness)
When Taryn joined the band on the bass guitar in 2003 and I was showing her the ropes, one of the records we listened to for pointers was Realm of Chaos. I’d point to the stereo and go, “See how Jo Bench is beating on those strings?”
Voivod’s “Overreaction” (from 1987′s Killing Technology)
In the dB Hall of Fame interview for Heartwork, Jeff Walker from Carcass said that if you don’t try to sound like anyone else, then you won’t. Well, in Drugs of Faith we haven’t figured that one out in practice yet. We have our influences and Voivod is one of the obvious ones. I wouldn’t say we’re all that original, but I like to think that how we put together all of the pieces that make up our sound is what’s unique. But Voivod doesn’t stop moving, and that’s inspiring.
Killing Joke’s “Endgame” (from 2010′s Absolute Dissent)
It was JR from Pig Destroyer that got me into Killing Joke by playing their 2003 self-titled on the car stereo on the way back from…I think it was seeing Cattle Press in Baltimore. I was hooked right then. Geordie Walker has a style all his own and it’s rubbed off on me big time. Also, our lyrics have gone from gripes about relationships to progressive politics over the years, and Killing Joke is a band that tackles vast, important topics, but handles them in a smart way. It’s important to stay aware to the extent that one can.
Napalm Death’s “Distorting The Medium” (from 1992′s Utopia Banished)
It was hard to pick out a song from this album. Napalm should be an obvious choice for anyone playing grindcore or grind as part of their sound in our case. Recently I set the iPod for “songs” and started playing them from the As, and being in the Ds now, all I can say is that I’ve got a lot of Napalm in my collection. I’ve had to throw riffs out because they sound too much like Napalm Death and I couldn’t figure out a way to change them and still make them sound decent.
Opeth’s “The Drapery Falls” (from 2001′s Blackwater Park)
I don’t see how we can do anything on the level of these guys–hell, same goes for the rest of these bands–but we have written parts with them directly in mind, and hopefully it doesn’t come off as hamfisted. Both Taryn and I have listened to a ton of Opeth.
Entombed’s “Say It In Slugs” (from 2000′s Uprising)
Entombed plays death ‘n’ roll, and we play grind ‘n’ roll, so they need to be included. We don’t have any songs that sound evil (and, as an aside, I think some of Entombed’s riffs have gotten more evil in later years, like on Uprising or Serpent Saints or Inferno, say). There have been times in the past where we were stuck when trying to arrange a song, and once our old drummer Shane said something like, “Entombed did it like this on Wolverine Blues, so let’s do it like that.”
Burnt By The Sun’s “Forlani” (from 2003′s The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good)
“Forlani” is here to represent Dave Witte’s work in Burnt By the Sun and Human Remains. Ed and I are huge Witte fans. At one of the many points in our history when we didn’t have a drummer, Dave was going to play on a 7″ that didn’t end up happening, but we kept a drum riff he wrote for one of the songs and we continued to refer to it as “the Dave Witte part”.
Last week, we brought you the first part of SubRosa’s playlist covering all things Salt Lake City. I could go on and on about how great their latest record, More Constant Than The Gods, is (one of the “exceptional candidates for the top spot” in this year’s top 40 according to the powers that be), but they are also good people. In the wake of a recent rough patch, the band sent out a handwritten thank you note to each person generous enough to donate. It’s a gesture that I’d guess many donors felt unnecessary but will forever appreciate. Plus, as you’ll read about in the six selections below, they take care of their own. Check out MCTTG below and pick up a copy here.
Light/Black’s “One Good Turn Deserves Another” (from 2013’s Light/Black)
Light/Black is a collaboration between four exceptional people: husband and wife team Levi Lebo and Carri Wakefield (lead guitar and bass respectively; Carrie also fronts the band with her beautiful voice), Danielle Mariott on guitar and Josh Asher on drums. Carri is a former SubRosa member and played in Stiletto with Rebecca. She has lent her talents to many SLC bands, as has Levi. Danielle Mariott has been a long-time supporter and member of the music community and Josh Asher has been playing in bands since he was a wee lad. Their deep and wide river of sound drives you forward, grasping at the vocals as they beckon just beyond your reach, both menacing and delicate. I love the atmosphere in this song, built with carefully subtle guitar work.–Sarah Pendleton
Lindsay Heath’s “Painted Queens” (from 2013’s upcoming Holy Medicine)
Lindsay Heath is one of the most talented and versatile musicians, composers and drummers I know. Using her deep intuition about how to shape melodies that burrow into your soul, Lindsay makes magical, enchanted music veined with world-wise themes and deep sorrow. SubRosa violinist Kim Pack plays on Lindsay’s upcoming record, Holy Medicine, and is featured on this video of “Painted Queens” (check out the 3:22 mark) (though note that there will be a more updated version of this song on Holy Medicine). Continuing the incest, I also have played drums for Lindsay’s project a few times and she let SubRosa use her piano to record the piano parts on “No Safe Harbor”.–Rebecca Vernon
Making Fvck’s “A Slave To The Lazy Boy” (from 2013’s Making Fvck)
Making Fvck is a musical creation reminiscent of the Paleolithic culinary art of hurling a box of cake mix into an active volcano to produce something that every doom/metal-seeking wildebeest would love sinking its teeth into. This brilliant three-piece spotlights Jessica Bundy’s brutal low-end fluidity on electric cello creating a serendipitous relationship with the other two members’ aggressive riffs, driving rhythm, and confrontational vocals (provided by Jeff Wells and Kory Quist). My first listen of this track provided a much-needed burst of sonic adrenaline.–Kim Pack
Oxcross’s “Sisyphus” (from 2013’s upcoming TBA)
Oxcross is my favorite band in Salt Lake City right now and features Taylor Williams on vocals/guitar, Jeff Anderson from Top Dead Celebrity on guitar, David Jones (bassist from SubRosa’s No Help) and SubRosa’s current drummer, Andy Patterson. Oxcross are disciples of the song, corralling unruly, heavy, catchy riffs into a cohesive pattern belying thought and calculation, polish, and refinement among the visceral uproar and chaos; a much harder task than just letting riffs run wild. Taylor’s vocals are one of the highlights of the band, with their meaty melody lines exemplified in the harmonies of “Sisyphus” from their upcoming album (not a final mix).–R.V.
Sure Sign Of The Nail’s “mov.1” (from 2011’s Ruminascentions EP)
This is Sure Sign of the Nail’s longest song off their three-song EP, Ruminascentions. It’s heavy, dark, a little groovy, and the ending makes you feel a bit uncertain and maybe even a bit put off. They definitely capture a unique sense of heaviness. Plus, their name really brings it all together (if you know what it means).–Christian Creek
Worst Friends’ “Pill” (from 2013’s upcoming Business Ethics)
Worst Friends is a three-piece (Elliot Secrist, Jarom Bischoff, Mike Cundick) whose live show makes me feel galvanized, frazzled and frantic, as if I’m being pelted with endless math problems I have seconds to solve. As started by jazz trained, music-theory toting geniuses, Worst Friends will put your socks in an algebraic twist. This unmixed/unmastered track was recently posted as a preview of their upcoming album. Enter epic breathtaking shift at 1:27.–K.P.
We called the latest from Axeslasher a “straight-up thrash-terpiece” in a blurb on our Halloween must-haves list a few weeks back, but Anthology of Terror, Vol. 1 — available here for a cool $6.66 — is sick enough to warrant a bit more coverage. Thus, the following track-by-track, courtesy guitarist/vocalist Justin Lascelle…
Mark of the Pizzagram
I love intro riffs. “March of the SOD”? What’s not to love about a band announcing their presence with an overture of riffs? I just wanted to intro the band with a short instrumental to prep you for what’s to come: lots of chugging guitar and minimal bullshit.
Invasion of the Babesnatchers
This one is heavily inspired by a dream I had based on the cover art Ken Sarafin created for the album. I basically sent Ken a shit load of comic covers and he came out with the alien death worm babe sacrifice that made it to the cover. In the song, the alien race is fed up with the humanity experiment and is now mining them for resources — mainly to convert the human race into pet food for their giant pet death worms.
I live a mere 2,200 miles due east of Salt Lake City, so needless to say I’m not too familiar with many musical happenings there (other than Gaza, RIP). Fortunately, Rebecca Vernon and the rest of SubRosa were more than happy to educate me about their hometown via the quintet’s SLC music playlist. I’ll let the guitarist/vocalist take it from here: “SubRosa is a product of the Salt Lake music scene and we like to take any opportunity we can to brag about our friends. There is no way to list all the bands and songs fomented from Utah’s dark, moist spawning grounds which inspire us (Red Bennies, Settle Down, Night Sweats, Puri-Do, Spork (who I used to drum for), Eagle Twin (Southern Lord), Gaza (Black Market Activities), Dwellers (Small Stone), Iota (Small Stone), Visigoth (Metal Blade), Ether (Extreme – the same label that puts out Merzbow), Moths, and the list goes on and on), but here are a few tracks from some of our favorite currently active Salt Lake City bands. Each member of SubRosa picked one to a few tracks and wrote about them. It should be noted that the songs we ended up choosing are almost all from albums that our drummer Andy Patterson (also SLC’s most prolific producer) happened to record and produce (except Lindsay Heath’s, recorded by Mike Sassich, and Cult Leader’s, recorded by Wes Johnson).” In fact, the band gave us so many picks that we’re going to spread the SLC love over two weeks.
I have no idea what kind of top 40 list Albert and company have cooked up this year, but for what it’s worth, SubRosa’s More Constant Than The Gods is my favorite album of the year, so please check it out below–you can pick up a copy here. You can also still help the band recover from a devastating robbery by bidding on this Profound Lore eBay auction.
Cicadas’ “There Is No Way Out” (from 2013’s upcoming There Is No Way Out EP)
Cicadas is the project of SubRosa violinist Kim Pack. Although recordings will not be available to the public until later this year, everything Kim does with Cicadas is incredible. Heavy, technical music coming from a violin may be an odd thought until you hear it the way Kim and Anson Bischoff do. They blend breakdowns as heard in hardcore songs with ambient drone and technical metal riffs that make you bang your head off. Two very talented people.–Christian Creek
Cult Leader’s “Mongrel” (from 2013’s upcoming TBA)
Cult Leader is composed of former members of Gaza (Anthony Lucero, Michael Mason, Casey Hansen) with Sam Richards on bass. This video is from their first performance at Shred Shed in Salt Lake City (with Full of Hell, Seven Sister of Sleep and Rile) and it captures Anthony’s raw, emotional vocal delivery with lyrics that evoke animosity, poetic sorrow and modern punk rage. Jagged, unrelenting riffs bludgeon like a meat tenderizer, providing an unruly foundation to the hypnotic destruction.–Rebecca Vernon
Day Hymns’ “Track 1″ (from 2013’s upcoming TBA EP)
Day Hymns has former members of Gaza, Parallax, Iota and Bird Eater. Tapping into a ’90s post-hardcore mindset, Day Hymns is all about the riff, the groove and the message. This is the first track of the new yet-to-be released EP.–Andy Patterson
Gravecode Nebula’s “Abhorrent Absorbent” (from 2013’s Sempiternal Void)
Gravecode Nebula makes other doom metal bands sound like kids with SpongeBob band-aids on their skinned knees, crying in a sandbox. Invoking an unholy atmosphere of swirling guitar and bass that sound as large as the caverns of the bell jar, they ratchet up the blackness at the 6:12 mark of “Abhorrent Absorbent” with some seriously almighty shredding. Gravecode Nebula has been a pillar of the Salt Lake metal scene for many years and played the Denver Doomfest this October alongside Evoken, The Skull, Fister and many others.–R.V.
Huldra’s “Twisted Tongues And Gnarled Roots” (from 2013’s Monuments, Monoliths)
Channeling the thoughtful post-rock/metal leanings of ISIS and Neurosis and maybe a dash of Red Sparowes, “Twisted Tongues and Gnarled Roots” is a good example of Huldra’s ability to cover the gamut dynamically, slowly shapeshifting and building from beautiful guitar-picking and mournful and strangely soothing chanting to all-out urgent yearnings of heavier riffing, silky snare work and growls starting around the 5:50 mark. This song takes me across icy shining tundras to ember-filled hearths in 800s Greenland.–R.V.
INVDRS’ “Worship” (from 2010’s Electric Church)
INVDRS have long held the title of loudest band in Salt Lake City. To see them perform live is to be obliterated and reborn, physically and mentally. INVDRS is Phil White (vocals), Dave Moss (guitar), Gavin Hoffman (drums) and Julie Stutznegger (bass). Julie is a former member of SubRosa, and she and Rebecca played together in all-female SLC punk project Stiletto. Each of the four members are friends of mine, have been in many bands and are SLC music legends in their individual rights. They have honed their craft into an aural missile that seeks the heat in your soul.–Sarah Pendleton
Given that fall is about halfway over and the weather, at least on the East Coast, is getting frigid, we thought it was a good time to present our second ever season-specific playlist. While Chris Alfieri’s “Song to Burn Leaves To: A New Englander’s Fall Music Companion” compliments Torche’s “Summer Fun” playlist quite nicely, Vattnet Viskar‘s debut full-length is a pretty good record to spin during any season (and happens to be one of my favorites of the year). Plus, the guitarist’s inclusion of Russian Circles’ “Schipol” clearly shows he has impeccable taste. You can more read about these New Hampshirites in our November issue (which also happens to have a pretty sweet HOF if I may say so myself).
Feel free to listen along here and you can pick up a copy of Sky Swallowerhere.
Type O Negative’s “Christian Woman” (from 1993′s Bloody Kisses)
I remember the first time I heard Peter Steele’s voice. It was in the fall of 1997, also my freshman year in high school. A formidable time in my adolescent life. I purchased Bloody Kisses at my local mall’s Sam Goody, went home, and was immediately in love. A week later, my grandfather died. This was the first of many heartbreaking falls with Type O Negative.
Danzig’s “Tired Of Being Alive” (from 1990′s Danzig II: Lucifuge)
The sweet smell of apple cider mixed with Glenn’s bleak world view always makes for a good fall evening. Although his debut album is filled with the perfect soundtrack to the prequel of winter, “Tired of Being Alive” sounds bleaker than most. Cuddle up with a loved one in front of a bonfire and follow through with that suicide pact.
Neurosis’s “The Doorway” (from 1999′s Times Of Grace) Times of Grace is arguably my favorite Neurosis album. “The Doorway” is why. It was the first time I actually understood what the term “sludge” actually meant. Although the song is perfect, it’s the riff in the middle that makes me thirst for this song every October. At about 3:18, the most evil sounding riff that has ever been created sneaks in to haunt you. Punishing and never letting up, it harkens some dark mental imagery. Just the kind that you’re craving around some hallowed evenings.
Russian Circles’ “Schipol” (from 2011′s Empros)
To me this is THE Russian Circles song. It’s got all the necessary aspects that make them such a powerful force. This piece is one gigantic build up, and the pay off is very much worth the wait. For us New Englanders, fall is the last great buildup to winter. It’s generally the last time, for months, that the outdoors is habitable for most of us. This song symbolizes that in its movements. A soft, warm start leads to a punishing cold end.
Windir’s “Svartesmeden Og Lundamyrstrollet” ["The Blacksmith And The Troll Of Lundamyri"] (from 1999′s Arntor)
Windir is the embodiment of black metal. A beautiful introduction leads way to soaring vocals and a wall of blast-beaten sound. A perfect and fitting accompaniment as fall’s daylight warmth gives way to winter’s bleak white walls. Terje “Valfar” Bakken’s musical vision was cut short when he was found frozen to death in 2004, but the cold spirit of Windir lives on year after year.
Dustin Boltjes has a lot of reasons to be pumped right now. His band Skeletonwitch released its fifth (and possibly best) full-length, Serpents Unleashed, on Tuesday (probably the most important item on this list). The Ohio quintet just kicked off a string of tourdates alongside The Black Dahlia Murder. Oh, and he and bandmate Chance Garnette appear in the latest episode of Kids Interview Bands (definitely the most hilarious). Album cycle hoopla aside, the drummer is also pretty psyched about the current state of death metal. We’ll let him take it from here. “Death metal is alive and breathing! The last year or so has been monumental for new death metal releases. In particular, the wave of classic death metal bands (i.e. Gorguts, Suffocation, Carcass) returning to reclaim the throne and prove to the newer wave of death metal bands that not only are these bands alive, but quite frankly still doing it better, some 20-plus years later.”
So we present to you Dustin’s “Death Metal Is Not Dead” playlist, complete with three old-school bonus selections. Feel free to listen along here and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Skeletonwitch’s killer new record here.
Gorguts’ “Forgotten Arrows” (from 2013′s Colored Sands)
Gorguts has been and always will be my absolute favorite death metal band. It started with Considered Dead in the early ’90s and with every album since they have managed to keep you on your toes and constantly evolve. When they disappeared after the amazing From Wisdom to Hate, I accepted that they were gone forever. Then out of nowhere, words began to spread of a newly reformed Gorguts with an unbelievable lineup to back the genius that is Luc Lemay. I began to grow increasingly impatient, like a kid waiting for Christmas morning, to hear this “new” Gorguts. After an extensive wait, HOLY SHIT! They not only returned with a vengeance, but in my opinion have released the best death metal album to come out in the last decade. Hail the mighty GORGUTS!
Suffocation’s “Purgatorial Punishment” (from 2013′s Pinnacle Of Bedlam)
Suffocation has done it again. Absolutely crushing release from these guys. In a world full of cookie cutter “death metal” bands, they have continued to set the bar in brutality. And to all of you “deathcore” breakdown kings, this band truly understands what a breakdown riff should consist of. Period. Wimps and poseurs, take note.
Carcass’s “Captive Bolt Pistol” (from 2013′s Surgical Steel)
I’ve always been that guy that thought Heartwork was and will always be their best record to date. I love the grindier, grittier approach on Necroticism, but Heartwork just really hit it home for me. Now they have returned and pretty much took the best parts of both those records and meshed them into one killer death metal album. Welcome back Carcass! We’ve missed you…
The Black Dahlia Murder’s “Into The Everblack” (from 2013′s Everblack)
I honestly was never a fan of these guys until we toured with them and I got to witness night after night just how unbelievably talented these dudes are. In my opinion, these guys are single-handedly one of the best modern death metal bands to emerge post-2000. And with every record, they’ve gotten more vicious. This album is without a doubt TBDM at its finest. Cannot wait to hit the road with these guys again in October!
Wormed’s “Stellar Depopulation” (from 2013′s Exodromos)
Razor sharp and unrelenting. I don’t listen to a lot of the more technical death metal, but once I heard this, I was completely blown away. I cannot get enough of this record. Approach with caution…
Dordeduh’s “Cumpăt” (from 2012′s Dar De Duh)
A friend of mine turned me on to these guys. I don’t know much about them, but I do know that this is the perfect album to smoke some weed, kick back and take the journey into madness. Stellar fucking record!
Portal’s “Kilter” (from 2013′s Vexovoid)
This a complete and total mindfuck. ‘Nuff said…
The last three songs for my playlist are from classic death metal albums. These songs rule and still hold strong this many years later:
Deicide’s “In Hell I Burn” (from 1992′s Legion)
I can remember listening to this record on acid when I was 16 years old and truly getting scared. Hands down, one of the most evil records ever created.
Disincarnate’s “Stench of Paradise Burning” (from 1993′s Dreams Of The Carrion Kind)
One of my all time favorite death metal records. The song writing is perfect. It’s brutal, melodic and quite frankly way ahead of its time. James Murphy’s soloing on this record is as good as it gets! If you’ve never heard this album, go listen to it right now!
Cannibal Corpse’s “Shredded Humans” (from 1990′s Eaten Back To Life)
This was technically the first death metal song I had ever heard with young 14 year old virgin ears. And I fell in love. Brutal, uncompromising and hilariously awesome gory lyrics to go along with it! This album made me wanna play drums like this. And now, 23 years later, it’s still a huge influence of mine.
**Skeletonwitch tour dates (2013 dates with The Black Dahlia Murder, Fallujah, Noisem and Wolvhammer; 2014 dates with Amon Amarth and Enslaved):
31-Oct Ritual Ottawa, Canada
1-Nov Rum Runners London, Canada
2-Nov Mod Club Toronto, Canada
4-Nov Crocks Thunder Bay, Canada
6-Nov WECC Winnipeg, Canada
7-Nov Louis’ Saskatoon, Canada
8-Nov Avenue Theatre Edmonton, Canada
9-Nov THE DEN Calgary, Canada
11-Nov The Biltmore Vancouver, Canada
12-Nov The Center Spokane, WA
13-Nov Wow Hall Eugene, OR
14-Nov Whiskey Dicks South Lake Tahoe, CA
15-Nov Strummers Fresno, CA
16-Nov Glasshouse Pomona, CA
17-Nov The Rock Tucson, AZ
18-Nov Tricky Falls El Paso, TX
19-Nov Club Patron Odessa, TX
20-Nov Conservatory Oklahoma City, OK
21-Nov Outland Ballroom Springfield, MO
22-Nov Firebird St Louis, MO
23-Nov BLUE MOOSE Iowa City, IA
24-Nov The Castle Theatre Bloomington, IL
25-Nov Mojoes Joliet, IL
26-Nov The Intersection Grand Rapids, MI
27-Nov The Machine Shop Flint, MI
17-Jan House of Blues Las Vegas, NV
18-Jan Club Red Phoenix, AZ
20-Jan Backstage Live San Antonio, TX
21-Jan House of Blues Dallas, TX
22-Jan House of Blues Houston, TX
23-Jan Siberia New Orleans, LA
24-Jan Center Stage Atlanta, GA
25-Jan The Ritz Tampa, FL
26-Jan Revolution Fort Lauderdale, FL
28-Jan The Jinx Savannah, GA
29-Jan THE FILLMORE Charlotte, NC
30-Jan The Norva Norfolk, VA
31-Jan The Fillmore Silver Spring, MD
1-Feb House of Blues Boston, MA
3-Feb TLA Philadelphia, PA
4-Feb Irving Plaza New York, NY
5-Feb Irving Plaza New York, NY
7-Feb House Of Blues Chicago, IL
8-Feb Mill City Nights Minneapolis, MN
9-Feb Granada Theatre Lawrence, KS
11-Feb Summit Music Hall Denver, CO
12-Feb Murray Theatre Salt Lake City, UT
14-Feb Regency Ballroom San Francisco, CA
15-Feb The Wiltern Los Angeles, CA
16-Feb House of Blues San Diego San Diego, CA
***We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here.
As you probably know from the endless stream of obituaries, tributes, and remembrances, Lou Reed died this past Sunday morning. Interestingly, none of the prominent metal blogs have mentioned his passing, save for the odd snarky remark about how we’ll never have a sequel to Lulu now. And it’s understandable, I suppose, because Reed’s music came from a distinctly different place than heavy metal: Black Sabbath came from the grime of postwar Birmingham, while Reed was an English major from Long Island who fell in with the Warhol crowd.
However, his band The Velvet Underground would go on to be one of the most influential bands in rock ‘n’ roll history – anticipating punk rock, post-punk, noise, shoegaze, drone, and avant-garde – and because modern metal’s post-millenial breadth now overlaps into all of those forms of music, Reed’s shadow does loom over metal today as well. In fact, for all the talk about “extremity” in metal circles – Decibel is, after all, “extremely extreme” – Lou Reed was doing some of the most extreme things rock ‘n’ roll had ever seen between 1966 and 1975. With the Velvets, he experimented with atonality (“European Son”), searing feedback (“I Heard Her Call My Name”), epic blasts of rock ‘n’ roll fury (“Sister Ray”), song structure (“The Murder Mystery”). As a solo artist he accentuated glam rock with an abrasive, out-of-the-gutter grittiness (Transformer, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal), made a full blown orchestral rock opera (Berlin), and predated abstract drone music on the notorious Metal Machine Music.
And in true metal fashion, when Reed did something, he always went all-in, whether in challenging his audiences with noise, showing an unabashed tender side, paying tribute to Edgar Allen Poe on The Raven, or, yes, making an album with Metallica as his backing band. Who cares if he failed the odd time? He went into every project with passion every time, and did it. No rock artist was ballsier than he. Two years after the metal world guffawed at Lulu, I suggest you go back to “Junior Dad”, its only meritorious song, and you’ll hear some genuine soul. Not even Metallica’s ham-handed playing could suppress Reed’s power.
So while there’s a crazy number of new albums out this week, including a few that are totally worth hearing, this week’s essential music is Lou fucking Reed. If you’re going to spend some money on music in the next few days, and are not familiar with Reed’s work, there’s no time like the present to start now. Take your pick: those wildly diverse Velvet Underground albums (White Light/White Heat is one of the heaviest, most abrasive albums of all time), Transformer, Berlin, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, the pleasant Coney Island Baby, the lucid The Blue Mask, the wonderful, stark New York. Either way, you’ll be starting an incredible journey of musical discovery. If he’s cvlt enough for Krieg, he’s cvlt enough for you.
Here are the best new albums of the last truly crazy week of 2013:
Corrections House, Last City Zero (Neurot): The level of talent alone in Corrections house is stunning: Mike IX Williams, Scott Kelly, Bruce Lamont, Sanford Parker. For all the big names, though, the best thing about this album is just how brazenly non-traditional it is. Sludge, doom, and noise coalesce throughout its eight tracks, but are woven into something altogether peculiar, creating a mesmerizing industrial/darkwave whole that somehow avoids sounding dated. Like Vhöl earlier this year, this is one supergroup that not only emerges triumphant, but completely surprises.
Hail Of Bullets, III: The Rommel Chronicles (Metal Blade): As good as Asphyx’s 2012 album Deathhammer was, as cool as it was to see them play a devastating doom/death set this past April, I personally get more out of Hail of Bullets. Perhaps it’s because Martin Van Drunen’s WWII-inspired band is more thematically focused, or maybe it’s because his backing musicians in this band are a little more melodically refined, but either way this is another stellar album by the guys. Pulverizing in its power, yet underscored by mournful melodies that lend gravitas to the darkly themed music, it broaches the serious subject with theatricality and respect.
Inquisition, Obscure Verses For The Multiverse (Season Of Mist): Inquisition’s latest – and heavily hyped, thanks to Season of Mist – album continues for the most part the duo’s savage yet workmanlike take on black metal, but midway through the worm turns, as “Joined by Dark Matter Repelled by Dark Energy” showcases some real inventiveness in its elastic lead riff, its use of atonality, and its progressive nature. From then on things get nuts, from the throttling intensity of “Arrival of Eons After” and the measured pace of “Inversion of Ethereal White Stars”. What starts off as a good follow-up to 2011’s Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm gradually turns into something rather extraordinary. And its artwork is simply stunning. It’s been a down year for straight-ahead Satanic black metal, but this is one of a few standouts. Just try not to be distracted by the Popeye vocals.
Russian Circles, Memorial (Sargent House): Who needs words, anyway? Metal/heavy rock/prog lyrics are 90% boring these days. Russian Circles evoke more feeling and expression in their instrumental music than your average band with a singer, and on the follow-up to 2011’s revelatory Empros they’re at the top of their game. Impeccably paced, and surprisingly economical in both performance and songwriting – it’s not much more than half an hour long – the foursome is utterly spellbinding. And when the great Chelsea Wolfe makes an appearance on the heartbreaking title track, in keeping with the band’s aesthetic, her imperceptible, dreamy vocalizing packs a massive wallop. Like the film Lost in Translation, sometimes not knowing what’s said has an even bigger impact.
Sepultura, The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (Nuclear Blast): Even five years ago I would never have thought Sepultura would be making the more creatively vital music than Max Cavalera’s Soulfly, but that’s indeed the case, as the Brazilian greats have been on a good creative roll since 2009’s A-Lex. Their 13thalbum sees them reuniting with Roots Bloody Roots producer Ross Robinson, and not surprisingly it’s the most pulverizing Sepultura record to come along in years. It’s a tough one to get into at first because of its sheer atonality, but it does settle in, turning out to be a spirited, inspired record, Andreas Kisser’s riffs propelled by young Eloy Casagrande, one of the best live drummers I have ever seen.
Untimely Demise, Systematic Eradication (Punishment 18): Unlike Toxic Holocaust, Untimely Demise’s brand of thrash is devoutly Eurocentric, and unlike Warbringer (see below), they know what they’re doing on their new record. Slickly recorded and performed and with a strong sense of dynamics as well as intricacy, the Canadian band take a big step forward on the follow-up to 2010’s City of Steel, coming across as a neat balance between Arch Enemy and Kreator. Songs like “Spiritual Embezzlement” and “Somali Pirates” are absolute scorchers, while “The Last Guildsman” and “Revolutions” showcase lead shredder/vocalist Matt Cuthbertson’s greatly improving melodic sensibility. Highly recommended. Stream it here and order it here.
Also out this week:
Ayreon, The Theory Of Everything (Inside Out): The king of the bloated prog metal opus, Arjen Lucassen is back with his most bombastic work yet, a crazed double album musical loaded with high-profile guest musicians including Steve Hackett, Reick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, and members of Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, Grand Magus, Kamelot, and more. Lucassen does have a knack for engaging vocal melodies, which help tie this four-part, 90-minute mess together, and the arrangements, as wankeriffic as ever, hold back just enough to avoid sounding impenetrable. It’s a ludicrous piece of work, but done with skill, and I’m quite surprised I don’t hate it.
Dethklok, Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem A Klok Opera Score (Willams St): People still watch this show? I haven’t seen the actual one-hour special episode of the metal cartoon, but from a musical standpoint it’s a curious one, as Brendon Small downplays his faux-death metal the kids likes so much for something a lot more self-indulgent. At times it veers toward Queen and the manic quality of Devin Townsend, but for the most part it pays homage to the sung-through musical. It had to be a monumental project for Small and his collaborators, but unfortunately, none of the songs are very engaging at all, a mess of hookless songs that tell a story that’s not very interesting to begin with.
Devin Townsend Project, Retinal Circus (Inside Out): The ultimate treat for Devin Townsend fans, this lavish DVD/CD set was recorded a year ago in London, where Townsend and his friends performed a whopping 25-song set spanning his long, eclectic career. Personally I don’t think he’s ever sounded better than on Addicted, Deconstruction, and Epicloud, and they’re represented well here. Whatever era is your favorite, if you like Devin’s kooky music you will absolutely love this set.
Doyle, Abominator (Monsterman): He might have played a crucial role as guitarist for the Misfits, but the devilocked behemoth is going for a Pantera-meets-punk sound on his solo debut. From the unimaginative riffs, to the rampant pinch squeals, to the bland vocals, nothing on this record leaves any sort of impression whatsoever on listeners, inspiring nothing but apathy. No, wait, “Cemetarysexxx” [sic] is mildly amusing. But go listen to Walk Among Us and the self-titled Misfits compilation instead.
East Of The Wall, Redaction Artifacts (Translation Loss): The daring New jersey band is back with another record that straddles multiple genres with great skill. Once again, progressive rock, noise, post-punk, and sludge metal are referenced but never solely relied on in these elastic compositions, instead turning into an adventurous, cohesive whole that blends melody and atonality well, at times beautifully. Like Intronaut, this is wholly unclassifiable music, created and performed with tremendous discipline.
Germ, Grief (Eisenwald): I won’t hide my love of black metal meshed with post-punk, and the latest album by musician Tim Yatras whets that appetite very, very well. Swirling guitars, tortured vocals, and melancholy melodies intertwine, which makes for a compelling contrast, but things get truly unpredictable when Yatras indulges his more mainstream pop predilections, as on “The Stain of Past Regrets”. And for those who dearly miss Amesoeurs, Audrey Sylvain pops in for a cameo vocal appearance on two tracks. Stream this splendid album here at the Deciblog.
Harm Wülf, There’s Honey In The Soil So We Wait For The Till (Deathwish): This new project by Blacklisted vocalist G. Hirsch follows in the footsteps of Angels of Light, Across Tundras, USX, and Scott Kelly, delving deep into the murkier side of Americana with a series of lo-fi acoustic compositions. It feels as if Hirsch still needs to find his own identity – the Gira/Kelly influence is obvious – but this is an otherwise promising start.
Kataklysm, Waiting For The End To Come (Nuclear Blast): The Quebec death metal veterans do More Of The Same on their 11th album, an occasionally pulverizing but mostly contentedly mid-paced record that confidently balances melody and physicality without venturing too far outside that comfort zone. It’s pleasant enough, and perhaps the highest compliment I can give it is that it’s probably their strongest of their last few albums. “Dead and Buried” and “Empire of Dirt” are a couple of keepers.
Kill Devil Hill, Revolution Rise (Century Media): If Pantera is at the top of the ladder with Down a couple rungs below and Hellyeah at the very bottom, Kill Devil Hill would be comfortably in the middle. The second album by Rex Brown, Vinnie Appice, and two other guys is often lazy, wallowing in milquetoast post-grunge drudgery, but when they focus on actual heavy metal, it’s not too shabby. At least they have a firm grasp of hooks, something Hellyeah has not figured out.
Mutation, Error 500 (Ipecac): Speaking of supergroups, here’s one that doesn’t exactly work. Sure, the idea of Shame Embury and Ginger Wildheart joining forces with Merzbow and Mark E. Smith (!) might seem neat on paper, the end result is a crazily unfocused mishmash of grind and noise. Although I will say I dig the weirdo, vaguely Fall-style jam with Smith on “Mutations”.
Necrophobic, Womb Of Lilithu (Season Of Mist): First of all, good for the members of Necrophobic for distancing themselves from convicted wife beater and child beater Tobias Sidegard and giving him the boot. But his vocals remain on this album, so if you’re going to buy this undeniably strong blackened death metal album, be aware you’re still putting money in this jerk’s pocket.
Noctum, Final Sacrifice (Metal Blade): The Uppsala, Sweden band are definitely on to something good with their promising Mercyful Fate-by-way-of-Pentagram style, much like their local peers in In Solitude. Despite pushing a lot of the right buttons – David Indelöf is a terrific singer – the songs lack staying power and mystique. They sound like they’re one record away from a real breakthrough. “The Revisit” is a standout, but overall, this band’s not quite there yet.
Protest The Hero, Volition (Razor & Tie): The popular Canadian prog-metalcore band can play the hell out of their instruments, there’s no question about that. For all the ingeniously manic arrangements and equally histrionic vocals, however, what matters most is whether they can keep everything from flying out of control. As usual, the instrumental wizardry is rampant on their fourth album, but only sporadically do any of these songs stick. “Tilting Against Windmills” is a great example of how good Protest the Hero can be when they streamline their music just a touch, but far too often the arbitrary feel of the arrangements fails to connect with any listener who doesn’t loiter at Guitar Center all day. Even the best prog bands know you shouldn’t make your audience work this hard to get into your music.
Sabaton, Swedish Empire Live (Nuclear Blast): Yes, I genuinely enjoy Sabaton. Their war themes do come across as cartoonish at times, but at its best their brand of power metal is bracing and fun. European audiences agree, as you can see and hear on this stunning new DVD/CD release, recorded at an outdoor festival in Poland in front of more than half a million people. All the hits are carted out (“Cliffs of Gallipoli” is my personal fave) as well as selections from their outstanding 2012 Carolus Rex, all performed with verve and charisma. Fans will love this one.
Sirens & Sailors, Skeleton (Razor & Tie): You’re using electronic gimmickry to enhance the intricate stops and starts Meshuggah invented 20 years ago. That’s cheating, kids. Go away, and stop wasting everyone’s time.
Skeletonwitch, Serpents Unleashed (Prosthetic): Another album, another collection of exuberant blackened thrash tunes by the ever-lovable Ohio band. Teaming up with Kurt Ballou was a good decision, too, as he not only gives this record his typically slick-yet-savage tone, but he helps emphasize the band’s melodies a little more than usual, and it’s no coincidence that this is Skeletonwitch’s most immediately catchy album to date.
Testament, Dark Roots of Thrash (Nuclear Blast): recroded earlier this year in New York City, this live album/DVD is a very good snapshot of present-day Testament, showcasing the strength of their excellent post-comeback albums, as well as revisiting their ‘80s classics. The band sounds even more taut than usual thanks to the great Gene Hoglan on drums, and Chuck Billy is in fine vocal form. Anyone who loves Testament – and that should be all of you – will thoroughly enjoy this set.
Toxic Holocaust, Chemistry Of Consciousness (Relapse): Joel Grind, this month’s Decibel cover star, has come through with yet another simple yet fun full-length of thrash at its most straightforward. Mixed by Kurt Ballou – but not produced, that’s the key – the album retains a lot of the filth that folks have come to expect from Toxic Holocaust, but at the same time there’s more punch in the songs, which actually show more dynamic range than Grind’s past work. It’s not the thrash album of the year by any stretch – hello, Noisem – but this is nevertheless an enjoyable record by a prolific and consistent musician.
Tribune, Tales (Corpse Corrosion): This Vancouver band is a curious one. One minute, they sound like a decent Volbeat knock-off. The next they’re doing melodic traditional metal in the same vein as Tyr. Then they’re playing harsher sounding sludge. Then Pantera riffs. They do each of those things well, but unlike fellow Vancouverites Anciients, it leads to a lack of focus in the songwriting. This thing is all over the map.
Warbringer, IV: Empires Collapse (Century Media): What happened to this band? I’ve been following Warbringer since their demo surfaced in my mailbox years ago, and have always considered their Sacrifice-style music among the best of the new generation of thrash bands, but this new album sounds lost. The band seems at a crossroads, unsure where to go next, because the entire record is torn between “extreme” metal and punk, as if the guys are bored with doing what made them so good in the first place. From the rampant blastbeats to the boring hardcore tracks (“One Dimension” is heinous), this is a waste of time. Stick to what you’re best at, guys.
Winds Of Plague, Resistance (Century Media): How fleeting is children’s metal notoriety these days? What was hilarious five years ago is now boring – and dare I say, competent – compared to a wave of even more ludicrous new bands. Congrats, Winds of Plague, you’ve graduated from “walking joke” to “irrelevant”.
Zodiac, A Hiding Place (Prosthetic): The German band plays spirited blues rock, but even if a band is charmingly stripped down and retro, it’s still nothing without personality, and that sense of identity just isn’t there. While pleasant, this album is far too generic. And sorry, guys, but Built to Spill did the best of “Cortez the Killer” of all time, and that still can’t top Crazy Horse. Don’t bother trying.
Not metal, but worth hearing:
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, Uzu (Suicide Squeeze): At first the concept behind this Montreal project seemed fairly straightforward, reflected in the name: The Asian heritage of masterminds Ruby Kato Attwood and Alaska B colliding with Sleep-derived doom metal. But ever since expanding to a full touring band, they’ve proven to be something even more amorphous. Their live shows were revelatory compared to 2011’s excellent YT//ST, and now the follow-up Uzu shows just how far they’ve come. Stylistically it’s all over the map – it veers from Yoko Ono abstractness, to classic prog, to doom, to First Nations music – but it segues from style to style gracefully, plaintive giving way to heavy, to menacing, to operatic. Highlighted by “Whalesong”, “Hall of Mirrors”, and the gorgeous “Seasickness” suite, art rock doesn’t get any better than this.
Tokyo’s Melt-Banana has been airing their newfound status as a two-piece for the first time in North America for about a week now with about three more weeks to go. It’s been a tumultuous term for vocalist Yasuko “Yako” Onuki and guitarist Ichiro Agata that’s seen them embrace life as a duo (and almost break up in the process), work the success of their Melt-Banana Lite alter ego into their lives and deal with nature putting a big ol’ crack through their home nation while they worked on album number seven, Fetch. The following was done via email with both Yako and Agata where they catch us up on what’s been going on in their world.
I have a couple friends who have spent time in Japan as English teachers and whatnot and they have told me that Melt-Banana isn’t as big or popular in Japan as some people might think. Is this true and if so, why do you think it’s more difficult for the band to connect with a fan base at home? Is Japan’s lack of understanding what you do the motivation to tour other parts of the world as you have for so many years? Yako: Compared with the USA, we are not popular and the numbers in the audience at each show is a lot less. I think it is because the independent music scene in Japan is not big as the scene in USA and absolute number of fans is less. Also, we don’t do much promotion in Japan and there are not too many magazines or media who pick up independent bands. Agata: I have no idea about the numbers of fans in Japan or other places. I think at least we are one of the happiest and luckiest bands because we can play not only in our own country but also in other countries in the world.
Are the rumours about Rika no longer being in the band true? If so, what happened? How do you plan to pull off the music without a bass player or will you be using a session musician? Agata: Yeah, she is not playing with us. We just didn’t offer her any more shows. And we are not playing with any more session musicians, either. We are playing using a computer. Yako: Since last summer, we have been playing shows as a two-piece, so we don’t have a bass player and a drummer. Rika had been playing with us for a long time, so many people must be thinking that she had been a principal member of the band, but actually she had been a support member for shows, same as support drummers. Like, when we practice a new song for playing live, we’d give her a mp3 and a score of the song.
It’s been almost seven years since Bambi’s Dilemma. Aside from the Melt-Banana Lite album, what have you been doing? On that note, what do you do away from the band? I know Tokyo is an expensive place to live, are you able to live solely off of playing music or are you still juggling the band and label with “real jobs”? Yako: It is hard to live only with music, but we are able to live with music and we don’t have any other jobs. We can not live like celebrities and we are not rich, but enough to live and we are happy to live with what we like to do. Agata: Living in Tokyo is expensive, but both of us manage it somehow playing music and running our own label.
When did you start writing Fetch and how long did you work on putting the album together? How old are some of the songs on the new album? Yako: It was 2010, after putting out the Melt-Banana Lite album. Agata: We started writing demos around the end of 2010 and the demo version was almost done by March of the next year. But after the earthquake, we couldn’t concentrate recording. Afterquakes were very frustrating, since we had to stop recording every time they happened and the news about Fukushima was very annoying, too. We live in Tokyo, so our situation was a lot better than people in Tohoku, but it was still hard to be normal like before the earthquake. We were also touring USA in 2011. The tour was booked for new album, but we could not finish recording in time, so we did it without a new release. It was a very good tour for us, though. Yako brought a big Neko (cat) costume and could communicate with people at the show directly wearing it and we could meet many friends who we have known for a long time and we could forget about Japan during we’re in USA. After the tour, we played some shows in Japan and then we made a biggest decision about Melt-Banana last summer. And we still needed time to find out a good way to play with a computer. We came back to the studio last winter and finished everything around April or May, I forgot exactly when we finished, because after sending master tracks, we still have many things to do, like checking mastering results, doing artwork, checking vinyl test pressings, etc.
What do you think you learned in the time since Bambi’s Dilemma that you were able to apply to the new album? Yako: After Bambi we had many good experiences, and we got very good influences so far. Agata: The biggest experiences after Bambi’s release were the Tool tour, Lou Reed and Melt-Banana Lite. I’m sure all ideas we learned from these three are in our new album. We opened for Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Melvins before and we were very much influenced by all of them. Tool tour was the same. We got influenced in many ways by them. It was not only music but also about lighting, videos, how to manage bands, etc. I think we learned about things that we would never accomplish no matter how hard we work and at the same time we knew what we really wanted to do. Playing with Lou Reed at Sydney Opera House was also a big thing for us. When I saw he was playing a Metal Machine Music set, I thought I should do what I really want to do no matter what other people think or say. If we had not done Melt-Banana Lite, Fetch wouldn’t exist.
What were some of the good and bad things about having such a long break between albums? Yako: Actually, I don’t feel we had such a long time. We were doing Melt-Banana Lite live shows, touring in USA and Europe, going to Australia and Asian countries, etc. And also we started to play as a two-piece and established this format. So we have been pretty busy. Agata: A good thing is that nobody rushed us. We could spend as much time as we wanted to. I’m not sure about bad things, though.
For years, it was rumoured that your albums were recorded in yours and Agata’s apartments using a drum machine. Is this still the case or have you moved to recording with a drummer in an actual studio? What was the recording process like for Fetch? Yako: We usually record music by ourselves. Agata programs drums and bass with a computer. As for vocal and guitar, we go to a studio and record our own parts. And then, we bring the sounds back to home and mix them. Agata: We use several places. Once I tried to record my guitar at my apartment using my usual equipment with full volume. And I stopped it right after I played maybe 0.1 second. It was so loud and I felt the building was shaken and dust was falling from ceiling.
After a couple of quick listens, it seems this new album has taken the blueprint of Bambi’s Dilemma and added extra layers of effects and sounds that play a bigger role in the songs. Does this sound like an interpretation of the new music that you might agree with? What were you trying to accomplish? Do differently? Mistakes you were trying to avoid? Agata:Bambi was like two albums put together: usual Melt-Banana songs and Melt-Banana Lite-type songs. And I think you are saying about usual ones. I used guitar at first for most of those usual songs on the Bambi album and it was opposite to Cell-Scape. I wrote bass or drums at first for the most of the songs when I wrote tracks for Cell-Scape. And for Fetch, there were layers of effects and sounds at first, by which I mean a lot of small guitar sound pieces. And then, I tried to find sound that I wanted in there, listening to them carefully and recording or programming them. I’m not a type of person who makes a plan at first and accomplishes it. I do things more randomly. But there was one thing in mind. It was that I wanted parts to repeat three times before going to another part. That’s the only thing I had in mind. I write demos, but I or Yako always change them during the recording and we never know the result ’til we finish recording. Yako: I just try to do what I feel the best when I do vocals. If I think too much, it makes it difficult to decide what to do.
Ironically, the first track “Candy Gun” is a title that to me as a long time fan succinctly sums up the Melt-Banana sound, especially the last two or three albums: aggressive and noisy, but still melodic and almost sugary and poppy sounding in spots. What is that song about and have you found yourself focusing in on a particular lyrical theme on Fetch? Yako: The song is about a girl trying to defeat the shitty things that make her irritated in the world, and she shoots with her gun and the bullets are candies. She thinks that candies are good enough to beat them because they are just shitty things. Cute and violent can be on the same line and they are close.
What is the meaning or story behind the title of the new album? Yako: I wanted to name the album with a good word starting with “f”, and Fetch fit my taste and feeling. Agata: The word did not come from Mean Girls.
How would you characterise the new album when compared to the other albums in your discography? Agata: For me, it’s an album which has a lot of repeated small pieces. Yako: As the title shows, we did what we thought was fetch.
Do you think you’re the only band in the universe that still uses a geocities site to host their website? Yako: Hahaha! I am not sure, but I don’t think so. We have the address “www.melt-banana.net”, but for some system reason, address part of the browser changes to the geocities address even after you put melt-banana.net to access to our web page and I am a little too lazy to fix it.
After doing the band for as long as you have what are the challenges that keep playing in Melt-Banana exciting for you? Have been able to balance the ideas of being musicians with life in a culture that values professional/occupational conservatism? Yako: We are still into music and Melt-Banana and we feel happy to live with music. I guess there are still many things to do so that we don’t get tired or bored. It is sometimes hard to live off music, but I usually think that it is what we chose to live and it is what we are to do in our lives. Agata: Melt-Banana played more than 1,300 shows as a four-piece and, to tell the truth, we were thinking about halting the band last summer. But we changed our minds when Melt-Banana was invited by Shellac for the ATP festival in the UK. At the time, we had no drummer or bass player who we wanted to ask to help us, but they told us that Melt-Banana could play as a two-piece. We started rehearsal playing live with a computer to see if it would work. It took some time, but Yako and I feel like we got something very different and exciting. Right now, playing as a two-piece is actually a fun and exciting challenge for us. Some people may not like our live sets without a tiny Japanese girl bass player and very skilled drummer, but this is what is right for us now. And I believe if we are really satisfied with our music or live sets, it has some values to someone in the world.
2013-10-24 Milwaukee at The Cactus Club (WI, USA)
2013-10-25 Grand Rapids at The Pyramid Scheme (MI, USA)
2013-10-26 Cleveland at Grog Shop (OH, USA)
2013-10-27 Chicago at Double Door (IL, USA)
2013-10-28 Pontiac at The Crofoot Ballroom (MI, USA)
2013-10-29 Toronto at Lee’s Palace (CANADA)
2013-10-30 Buffalo at The Tralf (NY, USA)
2013-10-31 Philadelphia at Union Transfer (PA, USA)
2013-11-01 Brooklyn at Saint Vitus (NY, USA)
2013-11-02 Providence at AS220 (RI, USA)
2013-11-03 Boston at The Sinclair (MA, USA)
2013-11-04 Washington, D.C. at Black Cat – Backstage (DC, USA)
2013-11-05 Chapel Hill at Local 506 (NC, USA)
2013-11-06 Atlanta at 529 (GA, USA)
2013-11-08 Dallas at Club Dada (TX, USA)
2013-11-09 Austin at Fun Fun Fun Festival (TX, USA)
2013-11-11 Albuquerque at Launchpad (NM, USA)
2013-11-12 Phoenix at Last Exit (AZ. USA)
2013-11-13 Los Angeles at The Troubadour (CA, USA)
2013-11-14 San Deigo at The Casbah (CA, USA)
2013-11-15 Pomona at The Glasshouse (CA, USA)
2013-11-16 Oakland at The Oakland Metro Operahouse (CA, USA)
Ihsahn–a man who needs no introduction around these parts–has certainly not been bereft of musical ideas lately. He dropped his fifth solo album (coming a mere 16 months after its predecessor) earlier this week and is already talking about its follow-up. To celebrate the release of Das Seelenbrechen, which Adrien Begrand described in our latest issue as a “surprising and strangely satisfying record,” the Norwegian mastermind told us about some of the songs he listens to “alone with headphones.” Feel free to listen along here and, while you’re at it, pick up a copy of his new record here.
Diamanda Galás’ “There Are No More Tickets To The Funeral” (from 1991′s Plague Mass)
For several years during my late teens and early 20s, I had Diamanda Galas on constant vinyl rotation. In particular the Plague Mass album. She is beyond comparison when it comes to delivering such intensity and atmosphere with the voice alone and seeing Plague Mass live made an immense impression.
Jerry Goldsmith’s “Face Of The Antichrist” (from 1978′s Damien: Omen II OST)
The dynamics and emotional impact of soundtracks have been great influences on me and much of the reason I wanted to implement orchestral sounds in my music. Jerry Goldsmith’s work with the Omen movies has been an absolute highlight and still is. Also, his use of non-orchestral sounds in this context is very interesting.
Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, BWV 170–Aria: Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen” (conducted by Pieter Jan Leusink)
This is an absolutely beautiful aria performed by a male contra alto. When it comes to the genius of Bach, there is of course a vast amount to choose from. However, I’ve always found this particular piece fascinating in its apparent simplicity, but at the same time daring harmonic structure and counterpoint. Also, considering the period when it was written.
Scott Walker’s “The Bridge” (from 1968′s Scott 2)
Though I greatly enjoy his later, more experimental work, I am just as fascinated by his early solo records. This marvelous combination of lush arrangements and crooner voice, performing lyrics that are so cinematic, dark and decadent. There is always this unsettling presence underneath and this song is of course only one example of many.
Arne Nordheim’s “Rendezvous: III. Nachruf” (1956/87), as played by Oslo Camerata
Arne Nordheim was and is beyond doubt Norway’s greatest contemporary composer. His work consists of everything from electronic experiments and tape-loop installations to great orchestral works. This is an example of the latter. I accidentally came upon this on television and immediately had to find out what it was. [Listen here]
Great American Beer Festival, Denver, Colorado
Oct. 10-12, 2013
It would be an overstatement to say that this was the Year of Metal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, but the handful of extreme music diehards—from TRVE, Surly, Real Ale and Three Floyds pictured above—among the 600-plus breweries present at the festival, definitely made their presence known in a big way, both during the festival and in the many extra curricular events surrounding it.
Thursday, Oct. 10
As detailed in previous coverage of this annual event both on the Deciblog and in Decibelmagazine, the GABF is three days filled with literally thousands of beers to sample. To even make an attempt to drink, let’s say, five percent of the brews on tap in any one of the festival’s four sessions would require a drinker to down close to 150 samples in less than five hours. We don’t doubt that it would be physically possible to consume that much beer—about a 12-pack—but with all the lines and walking around, it just ain’t gonna happen. So there you are in an enormous hall filled with more beer than you might ever know in a lifetime and you get to drink a teensy tiny bit of it. It’s, honestly, too much to think about.
Our plan this year was to just hit breweries whose beers we’ve never tasted before, who we don’t have access to due to limited distribution and who, quite simply, we want to try. This led us to one tasty beverage after another from the likes of Kuhnhenn, Fat Heads, Crooked Stave, Boulevard, Destihl, Real Ale and many, many others. One of the best tastes was handed to us by our old pal, Brett Porter, the head brewer for Goose Island in Chicago. GI has gotten some grief from the craft beer elite since it was sold to A-B InBev, but Brett was the head brewer before the sale and he’s still the brewer, so that’s good enough for us. He gave us a taste of his Kisetsu, a saison/saké blend that was boozy, complex and somewhat surprisingly light and drinkable.
The first day’s session of the GABF went until 10 pm, but we buzzed out an hour early to attend a craft beer and metal event, Bonded By Beer, at the nearby Moon Room. Put together by the aforementioned metal-loving crew from Surly, TRVE, Three Floyds and Real Ale, each brought several different offerings which the respectable crowd chugged while watching unrelentingly brutal sets from Denver’s Rottenness, Stillborn Fawn, Primitive Man and Stoic Dissention. We started with a pint of Three Floyds’ wet-hopped (with fresh Michigan hops, no less) Broo Doo and finished up, fittingly, with a can of Surly Hell. Hopefully this will be the first of many such events at future GABFs, where metal-loving craft beer drinkers can get brewtal with some of the best beers available at the GABF (more on that later).
Stillborn Fawn at the Summit’s Moon Room
Friday, Oct. 11
Day two for us didn’t involve another session at the festival. Anyone who attends regularly will tell you that there’s plenty of action to be had at multiple venues/brewpubs/breweries around town, pretty much all day and night. In fact, the craft beer brotherhood/sisterhood is so tight, a lot of the visiting brewers check out the local scene themselves. Case in point when we rolled into TRVE’s blackened bar/brewery an hour before they opened, we discovered folks from San Diego’s Ballast Point and Durango, Colorado’s Ska Brewing already there sampling brewer/owner Nick Nunn’s wares. Nunn set us up with samplers of not only everything they had on tap, but also his first bottled release, Vexovoid, and his upcoming bottle release, Eastern Candle. There were 10 brews in all, and not a single one that wasn’t superlative.
Bear with me here, but coincidentally enough, the Denver Doom Fest happened to be taking place during the GABF this year. And the Skull, a band featuring three-fifths of the members who played on Trouble’s album of the same name—drummer Oly Olson, vocalist Jeff Wagner and bassist Ron Holzner—were the first night’s headliner at the 3 Kings Tavern on Friday. What does this have to do with craft beer and the GABF, you may ask? Well, Olson works for Allagash brewing in Maine, for one thing, and secondly, TRVE provided the official festival brew, Doombier, a “blackened grätzer.” We enjoyed both immensely. Particularly, the Skull’s excellent versions of numerous tracks from Trouble’s Decibel Hall of Fame-inducted, Psalm 9.
The Skull at 3 Kings Tavern
Saturday, Oct 12
OK, we’ll admit that we weren’t actually around for the last day of the GABF. But it’s worth noting that three of the four breweries responsible for bringing the metal to the festival this year, scored medals of their own in the various categories of competition at the awards ceremony that day. Three Floyds even won one for their Pig Destroyer collab, Permanent Funeral.
Silver: Brewers Cut Altbier, German-Style Altbier
Gold: Blot Out the Sun, Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout
Silver: Permanent Funeral, Imperial India Pale Ale
Bronze: Pentagram, Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer
The metal minority made a good showing at the GABF this year. Hopefully this is the beginning of something bigger, as new metal-centric breweries like Black Sky come on line. It wasn’t exactly the Year of Metal at the GABF, but it was a big first step in the right direction.