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Decibrity Playlist: Primordial

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, December 11th, 2014

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Primordial dropped its eighth LP late last month, another stellar entry in an already impressive oeuvre. To celebrate, frontman Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) sent us a playlist that, as he describes, “might be something a little different.” After perusing his picks, it’s hard to disagree. We’ll let him take it from here: “I always think too hard about lists, I think it’s the rainman in me that gets caught up in too many permutations and the maths can make me dizzy. Then I always leave something out that comes back to haunt me. Or I spend hours deliberating on which Holy Terror track to choose from which album and why. I’ve done loads of metal lists before, so I thought I’d write about ten non-metal albums that have influenced me and mean a lot to me over the years.”

Here’s hoping to see the Irish quintet on these shores again soon. In the meantime, pick up a copy of the excellent Where Greater Men Have Fallen here.

Wovenhand–Consider The Birds (2004)
Consistently my favorite band over the last decade is Wovenhand, to the point I even followed them around on tour a few years back for a weekend. The stark orthodox and unrelentingly dark aesthetic seems to resonate with many black metal people. In Europe it’s been something of a given in the scene people know about Wovenhand. Hard to categorize, bleached black old testament folk americana which warns us all to repent!

The Cure–Pornography (1982)
An album I heard back in the ’80s but only returned to a couple of years ago. Not weighed down with any expectation of hits, this is The Cure at its darkest and most bleak. “One Hundred Years” for example has a claustrophobic grimness most black metal can only dream of.

Dead Can Dance–Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun (1987)
One of the first bands I gravitated towards in the early ’90s outside of the metal scene. A band my teenage ears couldn’t really fully grasp in its entirety but all I knew was it was something of staggering beauty. Part goth, part medieval choral music, it was the stepping stone towards accepting other forms of dark music into my listening tastes.

Leonard Cohen–Songs Of Love And Hate (1971)
A tape trading friend back in the early ’90s sent this to me and as a 15 year old I became obsessed with this album. It superficially appeals to that teenage sense of being misunderstood by everyone and sundry, but it’s stood by me over the years. “Famous Blue Raincoat” is still an achingly beautiful song and taken on far more meaning the older I’ve got.

Bohren & Der Club Of Gore–Black Earth (2002)
Something new that has been with me only a couple of years but has been the accompaniment of many 4 a.m. moments staring at the ceiling or watching the sun come up. Black jazz they call it, imagine some kind of doom slow satanic film noir.

Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting ‘Round To Die” (from 1968′s For The Sake Of The Song)
Again something new but a very powerful conduit for me over the last couple of years. TVZ is the real deal, something so organic, raw and passionate. Some of the footage of him playing this song in a cabin filmed for a documentary on him is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen. Proper country!

Johnny Cash–American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
Any of the Rubin produced albums that reinvented Cash could be here but I guess this one is the most iconic. A snapshot of the final years of a real musician’s life, in the true old sense, a proper rebel from another age. That body of work still slices through the mediocrity of modern society like a knife. Sagely and forewarned.

Klaus Schulze–Blackdance (1974)
I could have picked Tangerine Dream but to be honest I think Schulze nails something darker on this solo album. Trance-like ’70s electronic music that was the soundtrack to many a troubled mental state over the last few decades. I have Euronymous to thank for the recommendation!

Arditi–Omne Ensis Impera (2008)
I’ve always had an interest in the martial/neo folk scene and having played four times at Wave-Gotik-Treffen and many friends in that scene, Arditi has become the de facto soundtrack to that interest. Rousing and reflective of an older, idealized Europa!

Clint Mansell (with the Kronos Quartet and Mogwai)–The Fountain: Music From The Motion Picture (2006)
I could have picked several other soundtracks but this is the one I turn to the most. An odd, confusing, at turns amazing and then preposterous movie that at the very least makes an impact. Meditative and moving on an epic scale.

*Order a copy of Primordial’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen here

**For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Broughton’s Rules

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, listen, lists On: Friday, November 14th, 2014

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** Broughton’s Rules are from Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s a former rustbelt city that’s experienced a rennaisance in recent memory. Its citizens are no-bullshit and its music, espeically Broughton’s Rules, follow a similar mindset. Well, Broughton’s Rules (formed out of the ashes of instrumental wonderkids Don Caballero) aren’t terribly bad-ass, though their name is taken from John “Jack” Broughton, an English boxer known for fighting gloveless and codifying boxing’s first set of “official” rules. Before we meander too much down six lanes of consciousness (i.e., bullshittery), the members of Broughton’s Rules thought it would be cool to present nine (9) bands from Pittsburgh that need some listening attention. Why 9? Because 10 is so 2013. Enjoy the noise! Oh, and they have a new album out called, Anechoic Horizon. Don’t even ask us what “anechoic” means.

1) The Gotobeds “Wasted On Youth” (Poor People Are Revolting 2014)
Here’s The Gotobeds running around Pittsburgh. The last time I saw them it was on a boat.

2) Night Vapor “Diamond Ring” (Mind Cure 7″ A-side 2014)
2) Night Vapor “Diamond Ring” (Mind Cure 7″ A-side 2014)

3) Killer of Sheep “Clouds” (Out Of Time 2012)
This band will knock you into next week.

4) Damon Che “Oh, Suzanna” (Membraphonics compilation 2001)
Damon on all duties.

5) Grand Buffet “Cool as Hell” (Pittsburgh Hearts 2003)
Dynamic Duo

6) Carousel “On My Way” (Jewelers Daughter 2013)
Hard hitting paulfistinyourface song. Also saw them play on a boat.

7) T-Tops “Wipe Down” (2014)
Noisy heaviness. Our rehearsal space roommates.

8) Barons “Wartime” (7″ 2014)
Debut 7″ A-side.

9) Mike Tamburo Crown of Eternity “Sound Creation Earth Gongs 32″ and 26″ (2013)
Mike making amazing sounds with his gongs.

** Broughton’s Rules new album, Anechoic Horizon, is out now on Relapse Records. The fine folk at Relapse Records made it available on retro-cool CD (HERE) and ultra-modern vinyl (HERE). Just for you, oh residents of the wonder that is the Primanti’s Sandwich shop and lover of all that’s loud from a city that formerly made its way with steel. Heavy…

Decibrity Playlist: Giant Squid (Part 2)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

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Last week, we brought you the first part of Aaron John Gregory’s “epic love letter to music.” When he left off, Giant Squid‘s vocalist/guitarist was in some baby cephalopod bands (The Pedestrians and The Connection) and listening to tons of Subhumans and Citizen Fish. Now, of course, the Californians have a fantastic new record out that you can pick up here (after you finish reading his exceptional playlist below of course).

https://soundcloud.com/actionmedia/giant-squid-sixty-foot-waves

Part 2 of

How I discovered some important music while growing up in the suburban wastelands of Sacramento (open an ale, grab some headphones and keep an open mind).

Ah, Citizen Fish! The closest young punks in the ’90s could get to seeing the Subhumans, and we loved them just as much. Every year they toured the States and came through Sacramento, easily drawing 300-plus people, sometimes more. This is where the rocksteady ska influence came from for me and the other members of our band. Anarcho peace-punk bands from Britain had no problem mixing working class upbeat reggae with punk. It wasn’t cheesy, it wasn’t contrived–they didn’t suddenly sing in Jamaican accents or bust out the congo drums. It was just another way to play high energy guitar or to create a dynamic in blistering fast music. This wasn’t ska-punk, it was punk-ska, and no one did it better, or weirder, than Citizen Fish. Plus, all the peace-punk messages were still there, as Citizen Fish consisted of three members previously from the Subhumans, most importantly the singer and unintended punk-prophet, Dick Lucas. Citizen Fish is my second favorite band to this day, with Subs in first.

My third favorite band would have to be Culture Shock, which was the other band Dick Lucas sang for, and in writing this article, I’ve discovered they started playing shows again after a 20-plus year hiatus (above).

Where it gets interesting, and über-obscure, for those of you that have made it this far, is how influential local music was to me. The punk scene in Sacramento in the mid ’90s was vibrant, turbulent, drunk, violent, high, tweaked and amazing. There were countless bands, some from a[n earlier] generation than us, like The Yah Mohs, The Greens, Pope Smashers, Los Huevos, Nar, The Sea-Pigs, The Bananas and The Secretions, some were our peers, like the Lab Rats, Phooka, Thought Police, E.S.D., Six Cents, Ill Effect, R.F.R., Spinach, Beyond All Hope, Generation Nihilism, Liplock, The Antics, Girls Soccer, No Regard and local hardcore heroes The Lesdystics, The Diseptikons and The Hoods. Many were from neighboring towns like Roseville and Davis but it all congealed into a wonderful, supportive, anything goes kind of art scene. Below I’ll try to include as many of these bands that I can find videos for, many of which have some cool connections to Giant Squid.

The Diseptikons: To us, they were friends, family and the most furious fucking hardcore band Sacramento has ever seen. Their drummer JD was also Giant Squid’s drummer on our first self released album, Metridium Field. They were an institution in Sac. Unfuckingtouchable. Twig and Jesse–the vocalist and guitarist–are in two other rad Sacto bands called Kill The Precedent and Red Tape.

The Lesdystics: Our brothers. Endless parties and amazing shows sharing the stage with these guys. Bill Hughes, guitarist from The Pedestrians, The Connection, all the way through to Giant Squid’s Metridium Field, is also in this band, leading them here through some classic Anthrax.

The Yah Mohs: We all aspired to have the raw energy, fuck it all attitude and furiously violent grooves and changes that this band pulled off half asleep. Everyone in The Pedestrians would see these guys and just lose our shit at their shows. Sadly, they’re basically non-existent on YouTube except for one live set I’ve included above that doesn’t capture quite how spastic and amazing they were live, but it comes close. So I’m including one of their 7″ EPs. Very Nation of Ulysses but a bit more straight ahead, pissed off punk. The singer and guitarists went on to start the hugely successful dance-punk band Chk Chk Chk (!!!). The guitarist’s sister, Cory Farwell, was the second guitarist in Giant Squid during The Ichthyologist days.

Lab Rats: Neighborhood band I grew up with, went to school with, played shows with and, on some nights, stood in awe of. These guys partied way more than The Pedestrians did, which may explain their brutal creativity or their mind-bending, fuck-it-all chaotic discordance. Still one of the punkest bands I’ve ever known. The guitarist never seemed to use distortion. How punk is that? (Thanks again to their drummer Ryan Bird, for recently posting a slew of these lost Sacramento punk shows.)

Pope Smashers: Artsy, spazzy, furious and they had a guy that kind of played a sax. Fucking crazy, and had lots of respect in the scene. All The Pedestrians are at this party (again, thanks to Ryan Bird for posting!).

Eventually, The Connection became Koi, a super weird progressive punk/reggae/art-rock monstrosity that would make most Decibel readers run the other way, but people in Sac loved it and the crowds at our shows kept growing. We were as much inspired by the British punk greats mentioned above as much as we were local heavy hitting heroes like Deftones and Far. After years of fucking with that terribly bizarre brew of musical influences, we got decidedly heavier, and heavier, and heavier. Guitars got down-tuned, all prog-punk elements drifted away and in came the waves of slow as fuck, doomy, sludge riffs. The reason for this is explained below. After a couple shows of Koi fans scratching their heads, we changed our name to Namor and gigged as that for about a year, releasing a two song demo. Soon enough though, we finally settled on the name Giant Squid and re-recorded those same two songs for Metridium Field.

Hokhma Bina from Za’atar on Myspace.

Za’atar: I think I was about 20 when Dan Ratner, a life long neighbor a couple doors down from my Mom’s house, gave me a CD of his band, Za’atar. They were a Berkeley based outfit that played traditional Jewish songs with a large Middle Eastern influence, recreating the Mizrahi music of Jews that lived in Arab lands in North Africa and the Near East. It absolutely blew my mind, and would become a huge turning point in what I wanted to do musically. Today, while I still listen to heavy bands daily, I listen to even more Middle-Eastern and Asian music and have been on a bender with Turkish psych rock from the late ’60s and ’70s. That all stems from the musical awakening Za’atar stirred in me almost fifteen years ago.

Sadly, they’ve long since been broken up, but they put out two incredible albums. All I can find online is a woefully inadequate Myspace page (which in all honesty, I’m pretty sure I made years ago), and their second album here on CDBaby.com, where you can listen to more of the jams. It’s worth the time to seek out their records, but make sure it’s from the Berkeley band as there are plenty of other groups out with the same name now.

Neurosis: That massive stylistic change in Koi’s song writing mentioned above can be pinpointed to one specific band and one specific event: seeing Neurosis live at the Colonial Theater in Sacramento during the era between Through Silver in Blood and Times of Grace. My entire perspective on what could be done with a band was just fucked. I went home and watched the video above countless times and soon knew that I’d never look at writing rock music the same way again. (Cool side note–I recently bought the very same midi controller that Noah Landis is pounding on in this video. Great dude who personally delivered to my house in Pacifica, and he claims it still works, even after such abuse.)

I don’t smoke weed, haven’t touched it in years, but back then I would smoke once in a blue moon. Not long after this show though, I got high at home by myself with the specific intention of writing some weird heavy shit. I started drop tuning my lowest string, trying it at different intervals, and eventually let it settle on a flopping low A, creating an octave chord with the standard A string below it. My brain went “Oh fuck, that’s how Neurosis does it!” That moment I wrote the riffs for what would become “Revolution in the Water”, a song off both versions of Metridium Fields and the prior Namor demo, but this was back when we were still Koi. I remember Bill, the other guitarist in the band, looking at me like “What the fuck do you want me to tune my guitar to?!” There was no turning back at that point. Neurosis visiting Sacramento permanently altered my musical life, giving me the inspiration to build a long lasting career slinging meaningful, heavy as fuck riffs.

*Photo by Lauren Wiest

**Order a copy of Giant Squid’s Minoans here

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Giant Squid (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, November 6th, 2014

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Giant Squid‘s debut LP, Metridium Fields, was re-recorded in the very early days of Decibel and we’ve been following the group’s musical trajectory ever since. Fortunately, the band is still going strong, having released a new album at the end of October. While guitarist/vocalist Aaron John Gregory described the record as a “giant love letter to the Mediterranean and specifically Bronze-age Greece,” the essay he penned for us below is his epic love letter to music. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did. Be sure to pick up a copy of Giant Squid’s latest LP, Minoans, here and stay tuned for part two next week.

How I discovered some important music while growing up in the suburban wastelands of Sacramento (open an ale, grab some headphones and keep an open mind).

I owe my entire musical existence to punk rock. Seriously. Well, maybe Nirvana before punk. And actually, probably Master of Puppets before Nirvana, but I didn’t know that yet when I heard it, cause my initial reaction to that album was pretty much total fucking terror (story below). But the scars that Puppets left on my eight year old self most likely resurfaced into something useful much later on. And even before that, it was The Monkees and Beach Boys all day long–mostly “best of” tapes for both–so I’m sure they too planted some important seeds in my early musical consciousness because I rocked the shit out those bands on my Grandpa’s Sony boombox cassette player growing up.

One thing was sure: I actively wanted to listen to music when I was really young and just fed my desire with whatever was catchy and close at hand in my sheltered, suburban life growing up in Carmichael, CA, a suburb of Sacramento. Mostly all my parents had laying around was 90% Jimmy Buffet, so pickings were very, very slim. But as I got older and started to put myself out there, Sacramento turned out to be not such a bad place to grow up and discover important music.

My Dad one day took me skiing. I was about eight. I fucking hated skiing. My Dad fucking loved skiing. Skiing scared the shit out of me, but I wanted to make the old man happy and not be a pussy, because we all know that skiing in the ’80s was super manly. Before we hit I-80 East towards Reno, we stopped at Tower Records in Orangevale, CA, right by Sunrise Mall. He wanted to grab some album that had just come out. I wanna say it was something cool like 38 Special, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks or The Kinks (which was about as cool as my Dad’s musical taste got), but I’m sure it was just another fucking Jimmy Buffet album. I can’t remember. But my Dad, among many things, was a generous dude and asked If I wanted something too. Here’s where my memory becomes crystal fucking clear. There was an endcap display of tapes, all with the craziest, darkest, most alluring picture on the front: hands in the sky playing a graveyard of tombstones as if they were marionette dolls. The top of the display repeated the image in a huge card board cutout and read: Metallica Master of Puppets. I’ll take this one.

On the first ski run of the day, I ate shit so hard and so ugly that my left leg twisted sideways at the knee, well beyond where even my childish rubber bones were capable of going. The pain was excruciating. I remember the panic and regret on my Dad’s face. One of the clearest memories I’ll ever have of him. The ski patrol came up and put me on a sled, hauled me down the mountain and Dad got me back to our Dodge camper van–one of those pop top versions with a side bench, little bathroom, sink and fridge. Now, my Dad was young. If I was barely eight, then my Dad was like 29ish. So I don’t necessarily blame him for doing what he did next. It boiled down to, “Are you okay? Yeah? Maybe rest here in the van a bit, listen to your new tape. Here’s a bottle of water and some vanilla wafers. I’m going to go get a couple more runs in, that okay?” Sure pops. Again, I can’t blame him. I ate snow on the first run half way down the bunny hill. My old man wanted to bounce black diamonds in his one-piece ski suit and aviators. So he bailed, but not after putting in my tape.

Now see the first paragraph above. Everything up to this point in my musical life was “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Little Surfer Girl”. My new tape starts to play. The gorgeous acoustic intro of “Battery” starts. I’m thinking, wow, this is really pretty. I did good on this pick. Then, well, ya know, “Battery” really starts, and I’m sure I spiritually shit myself. I remember so clearly just being fucking frightened. Laying on my back on the van bench, knee killing me, cold and alone, fucking “Battery” blasting. I made it only about ten or fifteen minutes in before pussing out and turning the stereo off, which would put me at about “The Thing That Should Not Be”. No wonder I aborted the mission.

Back then, I shelved the tape and didn’t revisit it ’til I was in sixth grade, most likely to impress, or scare off, the jocky neighborhood kids who listened to NWA and 2 Live Crew. I still have that exact tape to this day. And still think it’s one of the greatest, heaviest, most perfect albums ever made.

Nirvana: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came on the radio when I was 13 and quickly my Appetite for Destruction and Master of Puppets tapes started collecting dust. I don’t need to say anything else about Nirvana. It’s all been said a million times before. What I can say is that I fucking loved Nirvana. My walls were wallpapered with posters and pics of the band. I bleached and then died my long hair with red Manic Panic. I wore shitty cardigans and tattered jeans.

About this time, the internet was just barely becoming a thing. The kid across the street had a computer and a program called Prodigy, which worked sort of like an internet browser by having internal message boards. I started going over there and writing other fans to trade live bootleg tapes via the mail. CDs were picking up momentum and some European companies were releasing live bootlegs on disc. After a while, one badly recorded Nirvana concert sounded like another, and years later I got rid of most of them. One CD in particular though was called Seventh Heaven, which I still have today. Earliest released version of “Rape Me” and two devastating versions of “Aneurysm” live.

When Nirvana played the Bosnia Rape Victim Benefit at the Cow Palace, my best buddy’s Mom drove us out there. When Kurt walked out on stage, I was only two people away from him, or should I say, two people away from the front barrier. At that moment all of the Cow Palace surged forward. I was a scrawny 15 year old. I lasted about six songs before feeling like I was going to shit and puke at the same time. I looked behind me and there was a mountain of a man, like a biker if an oak tree could be a biker. He looked at me, saw me turning green, asked if I needed help, which I most certainly did, and grabbed me. Somehow, against thousands of people seemingly pressing down on him, he was able to turn around and push me through some of the crowd and away from the stage…directly into the “mosh pit”. From there I battled my way to the bleachers and sat down, sad, watching the rest of the show. They played a bunch of jams from the yet-to-be-released In Utero.

That’s the concert above. As Kurt walks out, imagine me about eight feet in front of him. So fucking stoked to have seen him live. Fast forward 15 minutes in and watch them them plow through “Milk It” for the first time probably ever live.

Punk rock: About the same time I was really into Nirvana, I discovered punk rock. My first show ever was The Dead Milkmen at the legendary Cattle Club, about a year before that Nirvana gig above. I think my second gig was NOFX at the same venue. I had some Angry Samoans tapes, a couple Circle Jerks and D.I. tapes and finally some Dead Kennedys albums. I loved it all. Fast, pissed, easy to understand. But most of these bands were also damn fucking goofy, even when they were trying to really convey something lyrically of importance. Then, a neighborhood kid who had spent most of our time growing up together being the biggest thorn-in-my-side bully asshole, asked if I knew who the Subhumans were. And of course, when I didn’t, he made me feel like the fucking know-nothing poser that I surely was, of course…ahem. So, I went out to the local record shop just down the street that had a surprisingly well stocked punk rock section and promptly stole (sorry Mom) my first Subhumans tape, EP-LP. Fuck the bully for being such a fucking prick through elementary and junior high, but god bless him for exposing me to such amazing music.

The Subhumans changed my life.

I was vegetarian for over ten years after listening to the incredible peace-punk messages deeply entrenched in the Subs’ songs. I fucking rejected authority (high-school teachers), questioned my country (wore a shitty American flag upside down on my lame bomber jacket) and started really wanting to get good at bass, which was my instrument of choice then. Because the Subhumans weren’t just lyrically captivating in their anarcho-socio brilliance, they were goddamn progressive rock! No, they were still punk, punk as fuck! But they intermixed other genres of music like British style rocksteady reggae, Black Sabbath style doom licks and oddball time changes like early Genesis. They had a 16 minute song that took up the entire second side of an LP! And all of it was never contrived, never self-serving, never corny. It stayed pissed, dark, abrasive and was fast as fuck at times, while still slowing down to allow the band to stretch its musical prowess. Bruce, the Submhumans’ guitarist, will go down as my biggest influence today. His tendency to bounce around half-step driven, odd time, punk dirge riffs is the foundation of anything I attempt to do on guitar more than 20 years later.

For me, a metalhead looking to listen to Subs for the first time should start at From the Cradle to the Grave and then Worlds Apart. All of their albums are flawless, but those two records in general are the highest level of craft punk rock has ever achieved and are basically progressive rock masterpieces. I dare anyone to argue that point. The first Subhumans video is the 16 minute side B track from Cradle to the Grave, the second is Worlds Apart in its entirety.

Here’s a video of Giant Squid covering a Subhumans song at a Citizen Fish show we played a while back. One of the most fun moments I’ve ever had on stage.

About this time, I finally had a real solid band with a slew of songs. We were called Eggs in Your Face. It was a combination of dumbed down Nirvana simpleness and F.Y.P. snarkiness, all put to a 1-2, 1-2 fast punk beat, and it fucking ruled. I played bass and did “back up” vocals. My other Nirvana obsessed friend, Jason Divine, played guitar and sang and wrote the lyrics. Jordan, who was from another band that I was trying to get going called The Retards, played drums. The Retards, despite the dumb-as-fuck name, thought we sounded like the Submhumans or Minor Threat, at least in spirit. But Eggs in Your Face just sounded like three brats who were outside your house throwing eggs at your car.

One day, Jason and I both got pulled into the principal’s office separately when a little comic strip trading scheme we had was discovered. Sophomore year we both had art class at different periods. I’d draw some ridiculous Eggs In Your Face themed comic, usually us kicking dogs or blowing up the school, and placed it in his bin. Then he’d come to class second period and find it, laugh, then one-up me with something funnier, which I’d find next time I came in. Back then, Jason could draw circles around me, so shit got really good, and really crass, very quick. Of course the hippie art teacher eventually found it and reported it, hence the visit to the principal’s office. This was all pre-Columbine; we would have been expelled if it was ten years later, or worse. The principal asked if we really wanted to kick dogs or blow up the school. Of course we said no. I fucking love dogs. So we were off the hook, but were told to cut that shit out. So we channeled our ridiculous ideas through our band.

The video above is a pretty rad live recording of us playing at a party. I dare you to get three songs in. “Bring Dynamite to Your School” is one of my faves.

Soon after, towards the end of my junior year in high school, I met the dudes who would go on to create Giant Squid with me. But first we had to trudge through years of figuring it out. We started a band called The Pedestrians, which then changed its name to The Chinese Connection (simply after the Bruce Lee movie and for no other reason) and eventually The Connection. All incarnations played fast-ass punk with jarring breaks into upbeat rocksteady reggae. Yup. The Pedestrians played countless local shows at every coffee shop, parking lot, friend’s garage, pizza parlor, bowling alley and even during lunch at our high school. By the time we were The Connection, we sort of knew what we were doing and started recording in studios to 1″ tape. By the time we matured into The Connection, I tried to become Mr. Social Commentator. Again, listening to way too much Subhumans and Citizen Fish.

The video above is a snippet of us playing at a pizza place in Davis, California, 1996. Thanks to Ryan Bird for uploading this recently and several of the other videos below.

*Stay tuned for Part 2 next week

**Photo by Lauren Wiest

***Order a copy of Giant Squid’s Minoans here

****For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Bastard Feast

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 30th, 2014

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We have a lot of love for Bastard Feast around these parts. Adrien Begrand lauded the band’s latest album, Osculum Infame, in his Sucker for Punishment column, Dan Lake interviewed the quintet earlier this summer and the Oregonians snagged a local spot opening for Carcass and company on this year’s Decibel tour. Now with the group set to hit the road for a month starting tomorrow, guitarist Taylor Robinson passed along a list of tracks that he and his bandmates spin in the van. Hopefully they won’t be sick of listening to any of them by the time they reach Oakland. After you’re perused their selections, pick up a copy of their sophomore LP here.

Beastmilk’s “Red Majesty” (from 2012′s Use Your Deluge EP)
First song is Beastmilk, being that as soon as all five of us found out about this band, we were absolutely hooked. It sounds like a mix of Killing Joke and the Misfits with hints of death rock. Everything I’ve heard so far has been solid.

Electric Wizard’s “Witchcult Today” (from 2007′s Witchcult Today)
From our first tour when we were formerly known as Elitist ’til a week ago, I have heard this song blasting in our van. Almost as soon as we light up a cigarette or joint, we start listening to the Wiz. I believe this band and album will always be a favorite of ours.

YOB’s “Burning The Altar” (from 2009′s The Great Cessation)
Hometown heroes, nicest guys around. Same thing as Electric Wizard, we have listened to YOB for so many years that it seems like a band that we have constantly put on to keep heavy rhythms flowing through the van. We try not to drown ourselves too much in heavy stuff, since when we leave for tour it’s what we see live every night, but this band has a special place for all of us.

Plague Widow’s “Malignant” (from 2013′s This Black Earth split)
We toured with these guys in July. Our longtime friend had recently joined this band and when we finally got around to checking them out, [we were] blown away. We love the heavy Portal-esque death metal that is surging. Keep it dark and heavy. This will definitely be getting jammed while we travel and throw ourselves around the country.

Ascension’s “Open Hearts” and “Grey Light Sibling” (from 2010′s Consolamentum)
Ascension…enough said.

Vallenfyre’s “Splinters” (from 2014′s Splinters)
Just got into this band not too long ago and have realized there are new levels of pushing the heavy boundaries. Glad other bands are catching on to this instead of rehashing the same old. Fast and crushing or slow and crushing, these guys are doing it right. Excited to see them on the next Decibel tour.

Rome’s “Das Feuerordal” (from 2008′s Masse Mensch Material)
Rome is incredible. [This is] one of my favorite songs right now. Can’t…stop…listening…to it. In the weird fantasy-like world I live in, I think that our bands would be able to play a show together. Pfft.

Lowlife’s “Permanent Sleep” (from 1986′s Permanent Sleep)
Fuel for the fire to bum everyone the fuck out. We all love sad depressing shit to some degree. Some of us more then others, but fuck it, it’s fall.

Depeche Mode’s “Policy Of Truth” (from 1990′s Violator)
One day we will do a Depeche Mode cover and it will probably melt our faces to accomplish it. Been listening to this band since we were young lads. Will be listening to this band on our deathbeds.

Pantera’s “I’m Broken” (from 1994′s Far Beyond Driven)
Our last one to leave this with. Phil Anselmo rules everything around me. If you hate Pantera, fuck you.

*Order a copy of Bastard Feast’s Osculum Infame here

**Bastard Feast tour dates:

10/31 Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge w/EYEHATEGOD, Power Trip, IRON REAGAN
11/2 Phoenix, AZ @ 51 West Venue
11/3 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
11/5 Austin, TX @ Red 7
11/6 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
11/8 Tallahassee, FL @ Pete
11/10 Miami, FL @ House Show
11/11 Jacksonville, FL @ The Shantytown Pub
11/12 Savannah @ The Jinx
11/20 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
11/21 Pittsburgh, PA @ Camp Clark
11/23 Indianapolis, IN @ The Melody Inn
11/24 Chicago, IL @Grandbar
11/26 Denver, CO @ Barbar
11/28 Laramie, WY @ House show
11/29 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Shred Shed
11/30 Las Vegas, NV @ The Adrenaline Bar
12/1 Fresno, CA @ Chinatown Youth Center
12/2 Oakland, CA @ The Metro

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Encoffination

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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As previously expressed in these pages, the concept behind the new Encoffination record is “the glorification of death: an offering to the embodiment of death’s creation, and to sing the wretched hymns of death’s omnipresence, to kneel to death’s crown as we all shall fall under death’s eventual grasp…If the last record were a tool to teach about death, this record is that creation.” Given the six mentions of death in that pull quote alone and the fact that it comes from vocalist/guitarist/bassist/funeral director Ghoat, it’s not surprising that death permeates his playlist. While most of his picks forgo the death and doom in which Encoffination traverses, the duo’s latest LP, III – Hear Me, O’ Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs), provides plenty of that. After you check out his selections, you can pick up a copy of said LP, which dropped on Tuesday, here.

Steve Earle’s “Ellis Unit One” (from 1996′s Dead Man Walking OST)
This is a powerful song about growing up and being confronted with the realities of life and death. I myself am a pretty staunch opponent of the death penalty (this isn’t the forum so I’m not going into it), and “Ellis Unit One” tells a story of a young man being forced to grow up and go to work at the local prison like the males of his family have done before him. The paradox of the men desensitized to the horrors of execution and the emotional burden it creates paints a pretty morbid and real picture. The nightmare Earle sings about in the last verse (“Even Jesus couldn’t save me…he don’t live on Ellis Unit One”) is legitimately scary as fuck. This is one of the darkest songs ever written. It’s haunting.

Townes Van Zandt’s “Dead Flowers” (from 1993′s Roadsongs and 1998′s The Big Lebowski OST)
Townes Van Zandt is in good company with the track above, as Steve Earle has long been very outspoken about the genius of Van Zandt. Hell, not only did he do a album of his covers, he named his son after him. This also being from a movie soundtrack is purely coincidence. “Dead Flowers” is a Rolling Stones song and was buried on Side B of Sticky Fingers. I fucking hate the Rolling Stones and their version of this is not all that great. If there were ever a time someone really made a cover their own, it’s now. Like many of Van Zandt’s song, it’s a story of lament and sadness, self-deprecation and regret. Van Zandt is the pure epitome of a tortured artist and this song portrays that eerily well.

Danzig’s “Going Down To Die” (from 1994′s Danzig 4)
When I was in mortuary college, we had to give speeches one day, with the topic being related to death. I gave some rambling diatribe about death being the penultimate experience of life–it’s the one thing we will all get right one day. Death equals perfection. Everybody already thought I was weird; that sealed it. I ended my speech by reading the lyrics of this song to the class of 90, which was met with blank stares and uncomfortable silence. This is not only my absolute favorite song from 4p (such an unheralded, underrated album), but probably top three Danzig songs. Glenn’s voice is absolutely untouchable (“I’m sayin’ goodbye…” at 2:05 is fucking panty-wetting) and the sullen, ’50s vibe in the main riff is as cold as the band ever sounded. If Danzig ever wrote their homage to a ’50s teenage tragedy song, this is it. I’ve repeatedly told my wife that I want this song played at my funeral–I want to bum everybody out the best I can.

Loss’s “Open Veins To A Curtain Closed” (from 2011′s Despond)
If any band were to be the embodiment of the term “funeral doom”, it’s Loss. They happen to be good friends of mine (vocalist/guitarist Mike Meacham and I also play together in the occult black metal doom outfit Rituaal), but beyond that, this song and album are just gloom incarnate. But whereas some bands of this ilk just drown you in sadness and depression, Loss creates a myriad of emotions with their guitar work, notably the long clean sections employed throughout the middle of “Open Veins…” The coda then almost plays out as a triumphant crescendo as the lyrics tell the story of a life ended and a pain released. Much like the weight of depression can be suffocating to those who suffer it, this song weighs heavy, but as the deed is done and the song moves on, it becomes a burden lifted.

George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (from 1980′s I Am What I Am)
It’s undeniable that this is one of the most iconic love songs ever written, but at its root, it’s a death song. It’s a song about a love ended upon death. The line “All dressed up to go away, first time I’d seen him smile in years” is a reference to the corpse and hits me right in the feels as a funeral director. There’s several little backwards references to the “he” of the song being dead and it’s so morbidly appealing. It’s such a blunt way to illuminate and posture death and ironic it’s done in such a beautiful way. The chorus of this song was my ringtone for years and everyone at the funeral home always got a kick out of it when it rang at inappropriate times. We’ve played this at a few funerals too and I always get a morbid satisfaction out of it, like they’re in on the joke.

*Order a copy of Encoffination’s III – Hear Me, O’ Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs) here

**For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Obituary

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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When Obituary returned in 2005 with Frozen In Time–at that point, its first album in eight years–Decibel was still in its infancy. Fast forward to today, and we’re about to throw two tenth anniversary shows on Saturday night while the death metal legends are about to drop their ninth studio effort, the long-time coming Inked In Blood, later this month. Even though they won’t be in NYC this weekend to celebrate with us, it still seemed like a great time for each member of the Tampa quintet to tell us about some tunes they enjoy listening to. As you’ll quickly see, most of them first saw the light of day in the ’80s. After you check out their picks below, you can pre-order a copy of the band’s Relapse debut here (and be sure to read Jeff Treppel’s piece on them in our current issue).

John Tardy

Nasty Savage’s “Indulgence” (from 1987′s Indulgence)
We grew up in the same neighborhood as Nasty Savage. I remember riding my bike to Ben Meyer’s house just to listen from the road to the band practicing in the garage. This is the single biggest reason we probably formed a band and wanted to play metal music. At the time we had no idea what we were doing, we just knew we were having fun and going for it. Those first two Savage albums still have some of my favorite songs. We opened for them on a few occasions and to this day they all are still very good friends of mine. That was a long time ago, before Internet or even CDs. My first copy [of this record] was on vinyl and I can also remember blasting it in my car on cassette. Those were the days.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Cold Shot” (from 1984′s Couldn’t Stand The Weather)
This is some of the greatest music in the world and though it is as far from metal as you can get, Stevie was one of my favorite musicians on the planet. His songwriting and guitar playing abilities made for some of the most brutal songs and solos ever recorded. I was lucky enough to witness him live just months before his death and he lit the stage on fire with his performance. Stevie Ray died in 1990. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 25 years that he’s been gone. Everybody should experience an SRV album at some point in their lives if they have not. I still find myself playing his music all the time.

Donald Tardy

Dio’s “Holy Diver” (from 1983′s Holy Diver)
This brings me back to 1984 as a teenager in the backseat of a friends car headed to a Dio concert. This is what made all of us want to become a rock star and what made me become a drummer. Vinny Appice showed me the light and at a very young age I knew this was what I’d become. It really was amazing to witness such a killer concert at a young age. Spoiled me. There was nothing like the arena concerts of the ’80s. This was the era of mechanical dragons and huge stages and production before any festival concept. I still remember standing as close to the front row as my skinny ass could get, watching as Dio swung his “laser-whip” and making shit blow up…the light show and massive stage! I’ll never forget that experience to be able to stand that close to my hero.

Savatage’s “Hall Of The Mountain King” (from 1987′s Hall Of The Mountain King)
One of the most talented brother combo bands to ever exist and still my favorite band in the world. Having the opportunity to grow up in Tampa and witness Savatage (Avatar) at a very young age is the reason I am in a band. I would sneak into back doors of clubs to see them live and we were lucky enough to open for them a couple times. Criss Oliva’s guitar playing was phenomenal and at such a young age. Better than most, up there with only the likes of Randy Rhoads in my opinion. Plus Jon [Oliva] is still one of the best songwriters in metal and has a voice like an angel and witch combined. With all the metal albums released in the world, I still find myself listening to Savatage. It will never get old to me. Good shit!

Kenny Andrews

S.O.D.’s “Speak English Or Die” (from 1985′s Speak English Or Die)
This album was definitely a game changer for me. From the opening riff of “March of the S.O.D.”, there was no turning back. This got me into heavier and more aggressive music and into other crossover bands like Cro-Mags, D.R.I. and Crumbsuckers. I had just gotten into Metallica and Anthrax when this gem came out, but this was even more aggro. The breakdown riff in “Speak English” is still one of my favorites and I still use it for line checks before we go on. Not only is the music great but the lyrical content of these tunes are still relevant to issues going on today. I love how it goes from one extreme with “Fuck the Middle East” to “United Forces”, showing the humorous side of this classic disc. In a world of P.C. idiots trying to do and say all the “right” things, Billy Milano had the balls to say what a lot of people today are afraid to and if you young bucks are easily offended, as Billy would say, kill yourself.

Mastodon’s “The Motherload” (from 2014′s Once More ‘Round The Sun)
I was a guitar tech for these crazy fuckers in ’05 and have been a fan ever since. I really don’t check out vids these days and the ones I have seen here and there mostly blow. It’s the same shit over and over, but Mastodon seem to always do something cool. Troy’s vocals remind me of Gene Simmons in his heyday and their music, totally original, gives a nod here and there to days of Rush and other classic rock bands. Brent is a total badass on guitar, always separating his playing from the rest of the norm. All I can say to the boys is “Ahhh Jeeez!”, you guys are still killin’ it!

Terry Butler

King Diamond’s “The Family Ghost” (from 1987′s Abigail)
King Diamond hosted Headbangers Ball one time in ’87 when the Abigail album came out. He debuted the video for “Family Ghost”. The format at that time was to have a different guest host the show each week. You know, back when it was watchable. I was glued to the set when he hosted the show. Mercyful Fate is a huge influence on me and I was loving the King Diamond solo albums as well. It was killer and great visuals. A well made video with King Diamond running around looking evil. I loved it. Plus its an awesome song from a great record!

Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” (from 1990′s Painkiller)
Judas Priest is one of my favorite bands of all time. They put out a few records in the late ’80s that were on the commercial side and the fans started losing faith in them. They hit back hard with this song and the album Painkiller! I remember watching the video in disbelief of how heavy and awesome it was! The production was amazing, the drumming was killer. They were back with a vengeance. Screaming for vengeance if you will. Having Scott Travis in the band injected new life and blood into the band. Great video!

Trevor Peres

Celtic Frost’s “Circle Of The Tyrants” (from 1985′s To Mega Therion)
Before I heard Celtic Frost, I was jammin’ out to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, among others, but the day I heard Apocalyptic Raids by Hellhammer, the shit hit the fan. It was the heaviest, most brutal music that my ears had ever heard. To be honest, Hellhammer and the first few Celtic Frost releases are still some of the heaviest albums that have ever been recorded to date. If you have ever watched the video for “Circle of the Tyrants”, you will know what I am talking about. Are you morbid?

Slayer’s “Kill Again” (from 1985′s Hell Awaits)
Slayer! What more can I say? If you truly love heavy metal, you will have at least one Slayer album in your collection. Hell Awaits is overall my favorite Slayer album. It is their most raw album and they took what they did on Show No Mercy to the next level of heaviness. The song “Kill Again” is such a heavy song, lyrically and musically. It is a full blown roller coaster ride. Let’s take that ride. “Kill Again!”

*Pre-order a copy of Obituary’s Inked In Blood here

**For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Revocation

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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When Revocation‘s David Davidson told me about his band’s upcoming album Chaos of Forms back in 2011, the guitarist/vocalist was pretty excited about using his past experience with horn and big band arrangements to compose a horn section for “The Watchers”. Between that and his focus on jazz while at the Berklee College of Music, it’s no surprise that the genre provides the theme for his playlist. Once you’re done checking out his picks, pick up a copy of Bostonians’ fifth full-length (and first for Metal Blade), Deathless, here.

Pat Martino’s “Just Friends” (from 1967′s El Hombre)
My first real introduction to jazz was as a freshman in high school. My guitar teacher at the school was very ambitious and would bring in transcriptions of full solos to learn that we would have to play in unison. I remember when he brought in “Just Friends” to the classroom, I was very intimidated but determined to not let him down. My fellow classmates and I struggled through the piece, learning it bit by bit, and when the recital finally came we actually played it pretty well for a bunch of teenagers just learning how to swing. This tune will always be special for me because it takes me back to a very inspiring time that pushed my boundaries and opened my ears up to a completely new approach to the guitar.

Pat Metheny’s “Solar” (from 1989′s Question and Answer)
“Question and Answer” is easily my favorite Metheny record and has a total dream team rhythm section featuring Dave Holland playing upright bass and Roy Haynes on drums. Pat’s lines are incredibly fluid on “Solar” and he really goes off as his solo progresses, playing out with a keen sense of melodic sensibility and motivic development. The interaction between Holland and Haynes is also quite remarkable and their mastery of form keeps this uptempo tune flowing and on track.

Liberty Ellman’s “Ophiuchus Butterfly” (from 2006′s Ophiuchus Butterfly)
I got turned on to this record a couple of years ago by a buddy of mine and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since. The title track begins with an off-kilter melody that still maintains a killer groove. The tune then builds as contrapuntal lines between the guitar, saxophones and tuba interact and bounce off each other. As good as the album opener is, every tune on this record has its own personality, with each track maintaining harmonic complexity and interesting melodies. Ellman’s unique compositional style shines throughout the record and is only elevated by the saxophone duo of Mark Shim and Steve Lehman, who each lay down absolutely crushing performances which elevate this album to an even higher plateau.

Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio’s “Ask Me Now” (from 2009′s Reflections)
I’m a total sucker for chord melodies–there’s something about taking a jazz standard and reimagining it in different ways that is so beautiful and intriguing to me. Kurt Rosenwinkel’s rendition of the quintessential Thelonious Monk ballad “Ask Me Now” is played with a level of sophistication that few but Kurt are capable of. His chords are rich and harmonically complex, but he never loses sight of the melody. Kurt has proven himself to be one of the best guitarists in modern jazz and his thoughtful interpretation of this tune is a must listen for fans of classic standards played with pure class.

Anthony Braxton’s “Countdown” (from 2003′s 23 Standards (Quartet))
Anthony Braxton is one of the true geniuses of our time. He’s a forward thinking composer, educator and improviser who’s released over 100 albums since the ’60s. On 23 Standards, Braxton is on fire, playing with a burning intensity that is truly awe inspiring. His performance of the uptempo Coltrane classic “Countdown” builds in ferocity as he blazes through the lightning fast changes. Guitarist Kevin O’Neil also delivers a jaw dropping performance on this track, utilizing eyebrow raising post bop lines and abrasive chords.

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*Order a copy of Revocation’s Deathless here.

**For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Winterfylleth (Part 2)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

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Last week, we brought you the first part of Chris Naughton’s landscape themed playlist. While his first six picks covered some well traveled territory–Drudkh, Bathory and Ulver to name a few–the rest dive a little deeper underground. According to Winterfylleth‘s guitarist/vocalist, however, all “capture the very essence of their environment and their history through the music they make and the imagery they portray.” If you haven’t already, pre-order a copy of his band’s fantastic fourth LP, The Divination of Antiquity, here (out Tuesday).

Saor’s “Roots” (from 2013′s Roots)
Our friend Andy Marshall (formally of Falloch) stepped out on his own, initially as Arsaidh but then rebranded himself as Saor and produced a fantastic debut album in Roots (which he’s recently followed up on new album Aura). I chose the title track because it shows a great link between the vast expansive riffs he writes but also the more delicate and inherently Scottish elements he puts into the music as well. If you’ve not heard this band before I encourage you to dig a little deeper.

Cnoc An Tursa’s “Winter – A Dirge” (from 2013′s The Giants Of Auld)
Sort of like a black metal Iron Maiden, our other Scottish pals in Cnoc An Tursa (which translates into modern English as “Hill of Sorrow”) are real unsung heroes of the UK metal fraternity in my opinion. Their music invokes strong feelings of ancient Alba as well as incorporating traditional Scottish melodies and poetry into metal music. I know what you’re thinking, this could be cheesy, but it actually sits on the right side of the line in a powerful and emotive way in the context of their songs. The track I have chosen is from their spirited and passionate debut album. Let’s hope it’s not long ’til they follow it up.

Wodensthrone’s “The Name Of The Wind” (from 2012′s Curse)
It wouldn’t be right to do this kind of playlist without mentioning our brothers in arms, Wodensthrone. We came out around the same time and forged a close link between our bands in that we are like minded souls who were singing about the same types of issues. They have released two albums to date and have really come into their own in helping to define what British black metal sounds like and should be. The song I have chosen is one of their slower, more expansive moments which I love, but don’t let that fool you–they are a force to be reckoned with. Go check out “Black Moss” or “Those That Crush the Roots of Blood” if you don’t believe me. Essential stuff!

Falloch’s “We Are Gathering Dust” (from 2011′s Where Distant Spirits Remain)
Another great bunch of guys who are also from Scotland. What is it about Scotland and bands singing about nature, the environment and their surroundings? Anyone would think they have beautiful highland landscapes all around them, not too far from the cities! Falloch is a fantastic band and walk a fine line between black metal and post rock in many ways, although definitely make a sound all of their own. The track I have chosen shows this unusual but powerful link between genres in action and is what drew me to these guys in the first place. They have recently finished a new album called This Island, Our Funeral, which is out soon and well worth hearing.

Ashes’ “Stone Spiral” (from 2014′s Hrēow)
If we are talking about unsung heroes from the British scene, Ashes has to be the most unsung. Still remaining years later in the realms of underground obscurity, I’m sure many a British band would call him (as it’s just one guy, D. Lumsden) an influence to some degree. Residing more towards the depressive, suicidal end of black metal these days, Ashes has returned with an introspective new album on Hrēow to remind us all he’s never gone away and remains relevant in 2014. If you’re into the more “necro” end of black metal, this is the one for you.

From The Bogs Of Aughiska’s “Aos Si” (from 2010′s From The Bogs Of Aughiska)
The final track is from a great Irish band, From The Bogs Of Aughiska. I was lucky enough to have the chance to release this album on my own Lone Vigil imprint a few years ago and they’ve gone from strength to strength ever since, releasing a second album to great critical success last year. Somewhere between dark ambient and black metal, they have a great and expansive sound. Also the link between that and their local and national history on this song is great. Interviewing old Irish folks about banshees and local history then setting that to synth driven dark ambient is an odd prospect but a work of genius. I think you’ll agree!

*Photo by Ester Segarra

**Order a copy of Winterfylleth’s The Divination of Antiquity here.

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Winterfylleth (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, September 25th, 2014

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Instead of rambling on about how great the new Winterfylleth album is and coming up with some clever way to introduce what Chris Naughton decided to cover in his playlist (spoiler alert: it’s one of my favorites), we’ll just let the guitarist/vocalist handle the intro himself:

“Considering topics that would make for an interesting playlist relating to Winterfylleth led me down thought paths to a number of things. History, England, heritage, war, society, politics and even activism came up, but to distill it back to its purest essence and consider the original spark for what led to Winterfylleth’s creation, it primarily has to be landscapes, and then allied to that a link with local history/ancestry as well. Landscapes evoke such a visual, mental and physical reaction within people – and indeed within me and my bandmates – particularly if beheld in person. The coming together of so many different elements to formulate this visual/physical experience is not unlike the making of an album, with each bit of a landscape contributing to the overall beauty of the view, like instruments and layers contribute to the sounds on an album. I can remember walking around the Peak District, Snowdonia or even places like Alderley Edge in the early days of our band and feeling inspired to write music to capture that awe and the epic beauty in nature and in the surroundings. I think we managed to achieve that in our own way on the three albums we have made to date, and, to a potentially greater extent on the release of our upcoming fourth. It happens that we weren’t the only people to have felt this compulsion and what I wanted to share with you are some songs by bands we love or that have inspired us; ones who also capture the very essence of their environment and their history through the music they make and the imagery they portray.”

After you check out his picks, be sure to pre-order a copy of The Divination of Antiquity, here (out October 7th) and stay tuned for the rest of his selections next week.

Enslaved’s “Roots Of The Mountain” (from 2012′s RIITIIR)
Having had the privilege to tour with Enslaved for three weeks last year, we got to see one of our favorite bands play every night while touring this album. The track “Roots of the Mountain” stuck out as such a massive moment in their set and is a real highlight on the album. I’ve had countless conversations with friends about the merits of new/old era Enslaved, but to me they’ve always continued to get better and better. This track shows just how good they are.

Drudkh’s “Summoning The Rain” (from 2004′s Autumn Aurora)
I heard Drudkh back in the early 2000s when they were a small, obscure black metal band from the Ukraine through our friend Martyn Patterson – “Doomlord” to many folks we know. To this day, I think it remains my favorite of their albums and was probably among the catalysts for wanting to start a black metal band in the first place. I’d heard all the old classic black metal albums coming up through the years, but it was this album in particular that really spoke to me in the way it could link melody and folk influence into what is essentially quite an aggressive style of music. The track I’ve selected here is a particular highlight for me and really typifies the Drudkh style. I would also recommend the album Blood in Our Wells if you care to look into their discography any further.

Primordial’s “The Coffin Ships” (from 2005′s The Gathering Wilderness)
Primordial is a huge influence on Winterfylleth and really instilled in us a sense of just how a band affects people both emotionally and physically with their music. I dare you to see a Primordial live show and not well up a little bit watching them play this song. Written about a defining point in Irish history – the Great Famine – this is the story of a national tragedy that could have been avoided, but due to greed, religious indoctrination and imperialism, was not. This is their tale of heartbreak and loss about how their people were treated and what it left them with. A stark reminder of a big lesson our respective world leaders should learn (but choose not too), particularly with all the devastating conflicts going on at the moment. It’s also an amazing riff driven track as well.

Ulver’s “Capitel I: I Troldskog faren vild” ["Chapter I: Lost In A Forest Of Trolls"] (from 1995′s Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler)
Ulver, like Enslaved, is a band of two eras – although Ulver arguably took it even further than Enslaved when moving into their modern style. Again, I’ve heard positives for both old and new material and again I actually love both, but for different reasons which I won’t go into now. We all have a huge soft spot for the black metal material and particularly Bergtatt, which is a very atmospheric album that really sticks out because of the clean vocal passages and the flowing writing style of the songs. I’m on the team that would encourage Ulver to put aside their ill feeling towards their older material and play some shows with it. The fans would love it and I think it needs to be heard in that environment. They managed to start playing live after many years of not doing so; now we just need them to take it one step further!

Hate Forest’s “The Gates” (from 2003′s Purity)
This is probably my favorite black metal song of all time, to the point where Winterfylleth actually did a cover version of it earlier this year that came out on a split 12” EP with Drudkh. It’s pure savagery from start to end and is just amazing riff after amazing riff. Having gotten to know Roman (the guy behind Hate Forest and Drudkh) in recent years, it has been really interesting to discuss his perspective on his nation’s history – him being from the Ukraine – and how that has fed into the music they have made in both Hate Forest and Drudkh. It has also been quite eye opening as well in the sense that he lives 30-40 miles from the frontlines of conflict between where Russia is invading his country and his folk are trying to preserve their livelihoods and way of life. A strong reminder of just how close to home these types of things can be.

Bathory’s “One Rode To Asa Bay” (from 1990′s Hammerheart)
Bathory doesn’t need much explanation. Masters of the clean vocal chant and pioneers of folk influenced (black) metal, they are just fantastic musicians and an essential listen to anyone into the style of bands I’m talking about here. Hail Quorthon (RIP).

*Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

**Photo by Ester Segarra

***Pre-order a copy of Winterfylleth’s The Divination of Antiquity here.

****For past Decibrity entries, click here