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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

Decibrity Playlist: Hark

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists, uncategorized On: Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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Our Managing Editor and I share a fondness for many bands, but if I’m remembering correctly, he was responsible for introducing me to one in particular via his review of The Ruin of Nová Roma way back in the day: Taint. While the trio broke up in 2010, guitarist/vocalist Jimbob Isaac has resurfaced in Hark. The group released Crystalline earlier this year, an effort that will not leave Taint fans disappointed. When we asked Isaac to participate in this little series, we were excited to hear what he’d come up with: things to do in Swansea [Wales] when you’re dead. As he describes it, “With local poet/legend Dylan Thomas’ infamous summation of Hark’s hometown Swansea being ‘the graveyard of ambition,’ this playlist is my soundtrack to growing up during the early 90s and beyond, in this ‘ugly lovely town’ or ‘pretty shitty city.’” You can check out his picks below and pick up a copy of Hark’s debut here.

Acrimony’s “The Inn” (from 1994′s Hymns To The Stone)
Seeing local legends Acrimony evolve from their death-doom roots into the shamanic, wode-covered, stoner/doom tribe was pivotal to my immersion into Sabbath inspired groove. “The Inn” was their “hit” for me, and their shows were equal parts heavy metal congregation, transcendental free-party/rave ritual, and basement punk chaos. I owe so much to this band, and their legacy grows with the current Sigiriya, whose new album Darkness Died Today also seriously rules. See also Acrimony’s video for “Spaced Cat”, filmed in Swansea’s Oxwich church.

Hawkwind’s “You Shouldn’t Do That” (from 1971′s In Search Of Space)
Like any small town, when you’re in Swansea, you create your own fun and your own scene. Lord knows no one else is going to do it for you. “You Shouldn’t Do That” accompanied my first experiments with herbal exploration, and contributed to my taste for psychedelia while discovering Acrimony gigs and the free-party/rave scene that occurred on the fringes of Swansea in the beautiful Gower peninsula. The trance-out repetition and layers of other-worldly frequencies hypnotized me and ingrained itself in my psyche.

Helmet’s “Rude” (from 1990′s Strap It On)
Stripped down aggression, and bombastic groove suited me down to the ground, and still does. An American transfer student in my school sent me Strap It On and Meantime after he returned home to Knoxville, TN and we continued our friendship via written letters and tape trading. Helmet spoke to me with their under the radar status, and as a conduit through which I could vent all that teen angst. I’m wondering when that well is going to dry up, but hey, adult life is hardly a walk in the park.

Quicksand’s “Fazer” (from 1993′s Slip)
Thanks to early morning rock TV show Raw Power, and the post-Nirvana major label domineering of the ‘90s, I became obsessed with Walter and co’s dynamic post hardcore. For me Slip is timeless and has contributed hugely to how I write music. Walter’s phrasing and melody made complete, tacit sense to me, and I’ll always regard him as a huge musical influence. I met him on Rival Schools’ first UK tour, and he was the first person to enlighten me as to what Taint means in American slang. An unfortunate perversion of the English dictionary definition, and certainly not what I had in mind when scratching it on my school book covers in the early ‘90s.

Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” (from 1985′s Riptide)
Rewinding to my pre-adolescence, this song was pure, perfect pop. You can put this next to “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News for my early life soundtrack. Dubbing these songs on to cassette from the radio charts every Sunday was a weekly must. Crossing into Dad-rock territory with Dire Straits’ entire Brothers In Arms is also a priceless record, and sits nicely next to this bad boy.

The Cure’s “Lullaby” (from 1989′s Disintegration)
This video freaked me the fuck out, as a teen rocker that didn’t know why he was drawn to it. A guy with weird hair and makeup, being slowly eaten by a huge spider…or something? The creepiness drew me in, scared me but all the while comforting with the perfect pop melancholy. Little did I know then how much I would relate to that night time discomfort further down the line.

Uriah Heep’s “Gypsy” (from 1970′s …Very ‘eavy …Very ‘umble)
Speaking of spider webs and being freaked the fuck out, …Very ‘eavy …Very ‘umble sat on my Dad’s record shelf as I was growing up. Passing it always gave me the jeebies, and eventually plucking up the courage to see what this horrifying album was all about, rewarded me endlessly. Heavy, British prog rock at its best. From the Hammond intro to the groove verse and hammond freak out, it gave me a perfect window into my father’s experimental years. The live photo inside the gatefold also has to be one of the best out there. Thanks Dad.

Sepultura’s “To The Wall” (from 1987′s Schizophrenia)
TDK 90 cassettes. The lifesblood of my late 80s/early 90s musical journey. A friend copied the early Sepultura albums for me, and while Morbid Visions scared the pants off me with its blackened, Frost-isms and crusty production, it was Schizophrenia that took my tastes in more extreme directions. The bilious vocals and garage-sounding brutality was like a hidden, dark secret amongst the classic rock in my adolescent record collection. My parents thought it was awful, and the metal gods above looked down, and they saw that it was good. Amen.

Hard To Swallow’s “Only A Glimpse Of…” (from 1998′s Protected By The Ejaculation of Serpents)
Thanks to the Acrimony tribe, Taint got to play with Nottingham’s HTS in ’97 at the Old Angel. Alongside buying from distros like Land of Treason, HTS introduced me to the crust/power violence scene and they were a terrifying live proposition. The first three seven inches were produced by Andy Sneap, and let their musical talent and ferocity shine through perfectly, without Sneap’s thrash metal gloss. Just thinking of their live shows raises the hairs on my neck, and while the Pessimiser and Slap-a-ham stables gave me some favourites (Dystopia, Grief, 16), Hard To Swallow pretty much wiped the floor with the lot of them for me. Their brother band Iron Monkey are equally treasured to me, but HTS deserve just as much props.

Knut’s “Whacked Out” (from 2002′s Challenger)
The tired label of “underrated” is far too often attached to bands that to me, just needed to achieve more road work, but simply couldn’t. Or more accurately, didn’t want to. Knut came into my life along with Keelhaul, Isis and Botch (thanks Hydrahead). Their live shows were (and hopefully will again be) intense, with their unique mix of influences and precision chaos. There’s only one Knut, and they will forever make imitators pale in their shadow.

*Photo by Ester Segarra

**Pick up a copy of Crystalline here

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Lazer/Wulf

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

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Despite teases here and there, it’s now been five long years since the last Irepress record (yes, I realize this is a Lazer/Wulf playlist–I’ll get there next sentence, I promise). Given that the group is one of my favorite acts around, it’s high praise that stumbling upon Lazer/Wulf has helped satiate my craving for new material. Not only did the Georgia trio put out one of the most eclectic and interesting instrumental(ish) records you’ll hear this year with The Beast of Left and Right, but Phillip Cope, Laura Pleasants and Carl McGinley (aka Kylesa)–three folks whose musical tastes I respect–put the sucker out on their Retro Futurist Records. So when we hit up bassist Sean Peiffer and guitarist Bryan Aiken for some suggested essential listening, it didn’t come as a surprise that their picks were all over the place. Once you’re done perusing their selections, pick up a copy of Lazer/Wulf’s debut LP here.

Trans Am’s “Television Eyes” (from 1999′s Futureworld) ­
Bryan: Every day should begin with Trans Am, and often does for us. This groove practically raises the sun, dries your sheets and brushes your goddamn teeth for you. No argument can be made for synth-rock being super rad without invoking this band–these three dudes justify an entire genre. A lot of their early stuff slams and some of it is too ambient to be appropriate for this list, but “Television Eyes” is the dissonant compromise. It’s a gentle, caffeinated cloth across the forehead. Good morning.

The Fucking Champs’ “Esprit De Corpse” (from 2000′s IV) ­
Bryan: The Fucking Champs are fucking essential, both individually and as a group. And as their discography ages, it’s becoming more important to talk about. Nobody touches today what they did with only two guitars and a drum kit. Or three guitars and zero drums, if that’s what it took. Symphonic and major and intelligent, but with zero pretension. It’s like watching Drunk History: equally refined and sloshed. Every song is another harmonizing eagle triumphing across your brain cervix.

Mercyful Fate’s ­”A Dangerous Meeting” (from 1984′s Don’t Break The Oath
Sean: The other guys may disagree with me on this one, but Don’t Break the Oath is the perfect driving album. This song in particular brings about a feeling that I am embarking upon an epic quest. We have to listen to it loud to cover up my attempts to sing whole songs like “The King”. Because it is going to fucking happen.

Bryan: I do not disagree, and it does happen.

Decapitated’s ­”Day 69″ (from 2006′s Organic Hallucinosis)
Bryan: It’s true, though–Lazer/Wulf agrees on few things. But Decapitated is the monolith upon our common ground. This band alone validates the single­ guitar metal model with creativity and ferocity. To say nothing of Vitek’s legacy, there’s something about Vogg’s songwriting that jettisons bravado and shred worship in favor of…well, fucking songwriting. Unstoppable.

Aphex Twin’s ­”Bucephalus Bouncing Ball” (from 1997′s Come To Daddy EP) ­
Bryan: Brilliant idea for a song, man. He’s made a lot of great, dark tunes, but this one is so damn inspired. Since the second half draws from the sound of a bouncing ball, there’s a visual component to the music. You can see the song as you hear it.

Sean: It was awkward at first, sending my young mind into swirling chaos. But as I grew into a man, it just seemed right. We will cover this song at some point in our lives, so L/W officially calls dibs.

Cinemechanica’s ­”Get Outta Here Hitler” (from 2006′s The Martial Arts) ­
Bryan: Further essential listening. File it under math­rock and be damned, but Cinemechanica rips through that genre into something rabid and urgent. This whole record is amazing, and our mutual love for it is how Lazer/Wulf found each other. Here’s an instrumental song they did, which I’m picking only because a) it kills, and their use of double drums remains unparalleled to this day and b) they’ve since swapped singers from this album toward something way tougher. The new shit is tough as Nails. I don’t know when they’re going to release their new album, but you’ll know, because the Earth damn blew its brains out.

Dysrhythmia’s ­”Room Of Vertigo” (from 2009′s Psychic Maps) ­
Bryan: There’s no understating the importance of Dysrhythmia in the instrumental world. It’s not mopey or flashy or post­-anything. Nor is it unlistenable madness. They just write great songs that work on the surface level, but offer a transformative depth to those who look for it. Remember those Magic Eye pictures? They’re all pretty and shiny, but then there’s a fucking boat hidden somewhere in there? That.

Zu’s ­”Carbon” (from 2009′s Carboniferous) ­
Bryan: I wish I didn’t love this so much. It’s so unlikable. A saxophonist, bassist and drummer, all piloting mosquitos into your stupid eyes. But it’s so joyful and confident and Italian. 100/10.

Sean: We had the pleasure of playing with the Italian syncopation masters in Pisa. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea they were off hiatus. I was excited then, and even more excited now that they’re recording again with Gabe from The Locust on drums. Carboniferous is on steady rotation when we’re on the road.

Dying Fetus’s ­”Praise The Lord (Opium Of The Masses)” (from 2000′s Destroy The Opposition) ­
Sean: At 17 years of age, a young man hears–seemingly–the most extreme music ever created. He would never be the same. A treasured classic of utmost brutality, Destroy the Opposition is still the go-­to record for nostalgic, head-slamming fun.

Bryan: Yeah, this record is a total watershed for me, too. The opening track both introduced me to and galvanized my love for no bullshit death metal, back when I required “melody” and “pacing” and “structure” and all that pussy shit. Absolutely warlike.

Soundgarden’s ­”4th of July” (from 1994′s Superunknown) ­
Bryan: But before anything else, this is the song that started it all for me. It started me. I was nine years old and I knew I loved music, but I didn’t know what instrument was mine, or what type of music I belonged to. So try to find that place in yourself before you listen to it. Hollow everything out, and know nothing of the world but Ninja Turtles and the Jurassic Park theme. Then…those chords. That dread. I became, if not a man, a guitarist that day. Superunknown is still my favorite record of all time.

*Pick up a copy of Lazer/Wulf’s The Beast of Left and Right here

**For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Young Widows (Part 2)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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Last week, we brought you the beginning of Evan Patterson’s “dark country and folk” playlist. In two-and-a-half years of doing these, it’s safe to say that his picks–most of which originated on 7″ singles–are some of the more obscure, yet fascinating, we’ve encountered. While Part 1 tackled tracks from 1956 to 1963 (don’t miss the fuzz on Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry”), Part 2 covers tunes from 1966 to 1971. Young Widows‘ guitarist/vocalist even threw in a bonus playlist that you can check out after perusing his 13 other selections. What a guy. While you’re at it, be sure to pick up a copy of his band’s latest LP, Easy Pain, here.

Fred Neil’s “The Dolphins” (from 1966′s Fred Neil)
While Fred Neil is more folk than country, his voice is as dark and as low as folk could get, and has gotten since. Even though he was a part of the Greenwich Village scene, I see him as being a bit more of a country singer. He wrote songs for Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison in the ’50s, and was a fill-in, on set singer for Elvis’s early films. “The Dolphins” is off Fred Neil’s self-titled third album, which features his more well-known number “Everybody’s Talkin’”. Later in 1969, “Everybody’s Talkin’” was made famous by Harry Nilsson. I like thinking that “The Dolphins” isn’t actually about dolphins, but after Fred Neil retired from music he moved to Florida to refocus his life on the preservation of dolphins. Wild. I’m betting most of his time was spent lounging on a sailboat until he died of skin cancer in 2001.

Nancy Sinatra’s “Lightning’s Girl” (from 1967′s “Lightning’s Girl”/”Until It’s Time For You To Go” 7″ single)
The first time I heard “Lightning’s Girl”, I was floored by its arrangement and production. The kick drum might be the best sounding recording of a kick drum I’ve heard. The dark fuzz guitar, string section, choogling bass line, king-of-the-jungle operatic background singing and the threatening lyrics are a combination unlike any other. The powerful and direct Nancy Sinatra, daughter of Frank, doesn’t beat around the bush with Lee Hazlewood’s pitchfork in her hands. They were out to kill with this song, and kill they did. “Lightning’s Girl” is a theatrical song and again, Hazlewood has no rules or guidelines with his writing or production. A Billy Strange arrangement and an absolutely epic country song.

Mickey Newbury’s “How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song)” (from 1968′s Harlequin Melodies)
Mickey Newbury…well, he just dropped in to be one of the most prolific songwriters to ever walk the face of this tiny planet. He has influenced many, many artists and songwriters. His legacy will continue to influence many, many more. In this song, the tension between the hollow percussive plucked fiddle strings and Mickey’s charred dense voice is unlike any I’ve felt while listening to a song. “How Many Times” is off Mickey’s debut album Harlequin Melodies. From beginning to end, a perfect country album.

Roy Drusky’s “Such A Fool” (from 1969′s My Grass Is Green)
Roy Drusky had too many records. I discovered him last year when I purchased his New Lips album for a dollar. From what I can tell, the album is a collection of singles that came out in 1969 and prior. It features “Jody and the Kid”, one of the first Kris Kristofferson songs to ever be recorded. When Drusky stretches out “Such a Foooooooooool,” I can’t help but smile.

Jody Reynolds’ “Endless Sleep” (from 1969′s “Endless Sleep”/”My Baby’s Eyes” 7″ single)
Like Sanford Clark’s “The Fool”, “Endless Sleep” is a bit of a rockabilly country crossover. The original 1958 version actually features the same guitarist as “The Fool”, Al Casey, who was a sidekick to Lee Hazlewood on his early productions. I prefer the darker, more haunting and reverb drenched harmonica 1969 version of this song. I can only imagine that this is a true reflection of Reynolds’ tiresome attitude–he had to be sick to death of performing the song for well over a decade. A group from Vancouver called The Poppy Family did an even darker cover version of “Endless Sleep” in 1969 that I might enjoy more, but it doesn’t fit this playlist’s theme. The 1958 version was Jody Reynolds’ first single and his second was the song “Fire of Love”, which later was covered by MC5 and The Gun Club. The Gun Club even named its album after the song. Reynolds eventually started working with Hazlewood and in the late ’70s had signed on to write songs for this singer named Elvis, but Elvis died just before recording any of Reynolds’ tunes.

Karen Dalton’s “Same Old Man” (from 1971′s In My Own Time)
Like Fred Neil, Karen Dalton is a Greenwich Village folk artist. The song was arranged by Steve Weber. Weber was a founding member of The Holy Modal Rounders. The droning strings, the traditional banjo and her incredible creeping voice together make a sound that I can’t get enough of. “Same Old Man” is from her album In My Own Time. The album is more upbeat, bluesy folk–it’s great, but “Same Old Man” is a truly unique folk song that will be held timelessly above the rest.

Bonus playlist of inspiring voices:

Love’s “Signed D.C.” (from 1966′s Love)
Captain Beefheart’s “Blabber ‘N Smoke” (from 1972′s The Spotlight Kid)
Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” (from 1973′s For Your Pleasure)
Iggy Pop’s “Mass Production” (from 1977′s The Idiot)
Public Image Ltd.’s “Flowers of Romance” (from 1981′s The Flowers Of Romance)
Wipers’ “Romeo” (from 1983′s Over The Edge)
Crime & The City Solution’s “Hunter” (from 1988′s Shine)
Scott Walker’s “Face On A Breast” (from 1995′s Tilt)
The For Carnation’s “Emp. Man Blues” (from 2000′s The For Carnation)
Smog’s “Song” (from 2001′s Rain On Lens)
Angels of Light’s “Evangeline” (from 2001′s How I Loved You)
Mark Lanegan’s “Hit The City” (from 2004′s Bubblegum)

*Photo by Amber Estes Thieneman

**Pick up a copy of Young Widows’ Easy Pain here and check them out on the following dates opening for Minus The Bear:

10/21 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
10/22 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
10/23 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
10/24 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock
10/25 Des Moines, IA – Wolly’s

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Young Widows (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, August 7th, 2014

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Given how well our last and only playlist from a Louisville native turned out courtesy of Coliseum’s Ryan Patterson, we had high hopes for one from his brother and fellow Derby City dweller Evan. While the former focused solely on Killing Joke and caused me to listen to “Total Invasion” on repeat for months, the latter focused his energies on dark country and folk. Not surprisingly, Young Widows‘ guitarist/vocalist did not let us down. In fact, he gave us such an extensive list of picks that we’ve split his tome into two parts. We’ll let Evan take things from here:

“When asked to make a playlist for Decibel, I thought about all the music I’ve been affected and inspired by. I thought about Crime & the City Solution’s record Shine, Swans’ Soundtracks for the Blind, Angels of Light’s We Are Him, Mark Lanegan’s Bubblegum, Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, Love and Arthur Lee’s entire catalog and their dark crooning voices. I thought about Tangerine Dream’s Sorcerer and Phaedra, Throbbing Gristle’s Greatest Hits, Silver Apples’ first record and Ennio Morricone’s vast collection of film scores. Then I thought about the dark county and folk records that I’ve been collecting the past few years.

Being from Louisville, Kentucky, I’ve always strayed from or, even better, rebelled against giving these genres of music any of my direct attention. Louisville is somewhat of a subcultured island in a sea of suburban families and farms. These surroundings could make a young punk downright despise country and folk music, but I have true love of all music and don’t align myself to just one club.

Most of these records were found and/or discovered through hours of digging through 45s at a hole-in-the-wall record store called Highland Records that carries exclusively used vinyl. The owner of the store chain smokes and complains about ‘the kids these days,’ but when I ask him to play a stack of singles that I’ve never heard before, he perks up and rattles off a good story about damn near every song. Every Saturday and Sunday, the owner shuts down the shop and heads 20 miles east to Simpsonville, Kentucky to run his all-vinyl flea market booth. The Simpsonville booth has an even larger selection.

After researching my selection of songs for this playlist, I discovered a strong connection between many of these singers and songwriters. In particular, Lee Hazlewood seemed to have his finger on the pulse of exceptionally odd country music. From a time when 7″, 45 rpm, two song singles could make or break an artist, here’s my dark country and folk playlist in chronological order. Enjoy.”

You can pick up a copy of Young Widows’ latest record Easy Pain–which includes two songs that Nick Green described as having “the kind of chimerical Frankenstein inventions that used to only reside in Napoleon Dynamite’s sketchbook or soda fountain ‘suicides’” (one of my favorite sentences in ten-plus years of this magazine)–here.

Sanford Clark’s “The Fool” (from 1956′s “The Fool”/”Lonesome For A Letter” 7″ single)
Luckily for Sanford Clark, Lee Hazlewood was around to write songs for him. “The Fool” maybe should have been the b-side to Elvis’s single “Jailhouse Rock”. It was released the same year and Elvis did eventually end up covering the song. This single was reissued and became Sanford Clark’s most well-known song. Though this version still stands high above the Presley version, Sanford Clark didn’t find much success beyond being a support act for Roy Orbison. Hazlewood and Clark went on to make two albums together on Hazlewood’s record label.

Bonnie Guitar’s “Dark Moon” (from 1957′s “Dark Moon”/”Big Mike” 7″ single)
I’m a sucker for a song about the moon. Bonnie Guitar strutted in just after Patsy Cline paved the way for women in the country music world. Bonnie Guitar can do no wrong, she generally rides the same mood throughout most of her songs. “Dark Moon”, written by Ned Miller, was Bonnie Guitar’s second single and was covered by many classic country crooners, such as Jim Reeves’ hit version.

Red Kirk’s “It’s Nothing To Me” (from 1957′s “It’s Nothing To Me”/”How Still The Night” 7″ single)
Originally written by Leon Payne under the pseudonym P. Patterson. Payne also wrote the gruesome murder ballad “Psycho” and the classic country hit “Lost Highway”, made famous by Hank Williams and covered by many, many others. Loy Clingman was the first to record “It’s Nothing to Me” and Red Kirk was the second. A simple story about a bar fight gone fatal, written from a postmortem perspective. Sanford Clark recorded a Lee Hazlewood produced version in 1967 under the pseudonym Harry Johnson. Much later, Hazlewood recorded his own version on his last album, Cake or Death.

Tex Ritter’s “Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie” (from 1960′s Blood On The Saddle)
Yes, Tex is John Ritter’s father. Yes, Tex was also an actor. Unlike John, Tex was a country music singer. This song is from his album Blood on the Saddle, and the album has a unique tongue-in-cheek sense of fictional western darkness and horror, unlike any other than I’ve heard. Tex moans his way through this song and about halfway through, I almost get reeled, believing that maybe he did live the life of cowboy.

Tommy Tucker’s “Miller’s Cave” (from 1960′s “The Stranger”/”Miller’s Cave” 7″ single)
Tommy Tucker lived a unlucky life. After recording a few singles, this being one of them, he spent some time in prison for a deadly drunk driving accident. Soon after his release, he died in a house fire due to falling asleep while smoking in bed. He has not received much, if any, recognition as an artist. Though he didn’t write “Miller’s Cave”, he was the first to perform it. The song was later made famous by Hank Snow and has been covered by many others since. One cover in particular is by Gram Parsons’ International Submarine Band, which is thought to be the first country rock album, and put out by Lee Hazlewood’s record company.

Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry” (from 1961′s “Don’t Worry”/”Like All The Other Times” 7″ single)
Marty can sing. Almost a little too well for my taste, but when the fuzz bass makes an appearance in this song, I’m sold. Don’t expect to find similar instrumentation in any other of his vast catalog of songs. Supposedly, he wasn’t fond of the fuzz.

Lee Hazlewood’s “Look At That Woman” (from 1963′s Trouble Is A Lonesome Town)
“Look at that Woman” is from Lee Hazlewood’s first official full-length album as a singer, a storytelling concept album called Trouble is a Lonesome Town. This particular song is about his woman, or rather, his ball and chain. It’s a rough and humorous stereotype, but the rhythmic sample of dragging chains and the vocal drop at the end of the chorus is a one of a kind move that only Hazlewood can pull off.

*Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

**Photo by Amber Estes Thieneman

***Pick up a copy of Young Widows’ Easy Pain here and check them out on the following dates opening for Minus The Bear:

10/21 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
10/22 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
10/23 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
10/24 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock
10/25 Des Moines, IA – Wolly’s

****For past Decibrity entries, click here

Decibrity Playlist: Mutilation Rites

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

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Mutilation Rites’ last record, Empyrean, landed on our top 40 records of 2012. To these ears, however, the group’s new LP tops that effort and so we’ve been playing it on a near daily basis since it dropped last week (Daniel Lake also streamed the whole thing here earlier this month). Since the Brooklynites just finished up an East Coast jaunt, we figured we’d check in with bassist Ryan Jones about what he and his bandmates spin in the van while on the road (we’re really going to start a book of these soon). Not surprisingly, his picks span the musical spectrum. Be sure to pick up a copy of Harbinger here.

Eyehategod’s “Anxiety Hangover” (from 1996′s Dopesick)
Because I usually have one. Eyehategod is a staple in our van and this is one that creeps into the mix often.

Dispirit’s “Ixtab’s Lure” (from 2010′s Rehearsal At Oboroten demo)
This is good for a post-show drive on a shitty rainy night when everyone else is passed out and it’s just you and the road. This song weaves you down a murky path to hell.

Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” (from 1968′s Devil Got My Woman
Distorted guitars and pummeling drums can get tiring on tour. This is a different kind of heavy that no screaming can conjure.

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’s “Spanish Flea” (from 1965′s !!Going Places!!)
We listen to this song in the van to take a mental vacation. To a place where the water is clear, the linens are clean and the children are happy.

Abominable Putridity’s “Skin Removal” (from 2007′s In The End Of Human Existence)
Somebody better call the Slambulance!

Motörhead’s “Born To Raise Hell” (from 1993′s Bastards)
This is the anthem to get us in the mood for the after-party.

Tangorodrim’s “Horror” (from 2002′s Those Who Unleashed)
Israeli Hellhammer worship! Self-described “alcoholic black metal”, these guys would apparently get completely shitfaced and loosely write songs. It’s like they wrote music just for me. They changed drummers after this album and then released a more focused album, but I prefer the earlier material.

The Yellow River Boys’ “Hot Piss” (from 2013′s Urinal St. Station)
Good old fashioned American rock ‘n’ roll!

Blasphemophagher’s “Chaostorm Of Atomization” (from 2011′s The III Command of the Absolute Chaos)
Italian war metal freaks, this is the opening track on their most recent full-length. After a stereotypical metal album intro, complete with computer game Doom samples of demons and fireballs shooting, the song starts with riffs that go straight for the jugular. A band with significantly more clarity in production than most muddy and hissed Blasphemy worship bands, this album is one of my more recent favorites.

Vordr’s “Rhythm Of The Storms” (from 2004′s I)
Finnish ignorance. A slightly more audible Ildjarn, these guys are the kings of the monkey beat. Some people get turned off by the tortured vocals, but I love early Burzum and don’t find these vocals nearly as offensive as that or Silencer or any of that other goofy DSBM people get down with.

*Pick up a copy of Harbinger here.

***For past Decibrity entries, click here