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A Metal Mother’s Day Chat With Lita Ford + “Mother” Track Premiere

By: mr ed Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, May 11th, 2012


In honor of Mother’s Day, the Deciblog is exclusively premiering the song “Mother” from Lita Ford’s new album Living Like a Runaway (out June 19 on SPV). The Editor in Chief’s wife—christened by Ian Christie as “The Michelle Obama of Death Metal”—and new first-time mom, got on the phone with Lita to discuss heavy metal mommyhood. One listen to the track “Mother” and it’s clear that the original Runaways lead guitarist has been having more downs than ups as a mom lately. She’s working out her problems with her new album, and hoping her fans are ready for a return of her vintage riffs. But whose parenting wisdom does she value? Why, the great George Wendt, of course!

I’ve been listening to the new album. It feels like a throwback to when you were playing back in the ’80s. I felt like I was back in that time. It’s really fun; really good rock.

Lita: I think people miss that time, and people miss that era. And I think a lot of artists now are trying not to sound like that, when I think people want that. Deep down in their heart, it’s like they want to hear those riffs and they want to hear those old leads and the arena choruses. It was one of the best times in the music industry, to me. I just feel like this album that I did, Living Like a Runaway, it’s all real. There’s nothing fabricated about this record. We just did what we wanted to do. We didn’t try to sound like anybody or try not to sound like anybody. It’s not like, “We can’t play that, because that’s too ’80s.” I thought, you know what, it’s real; it’s what’s coming out. It’s got to be right.

It sounded like it was fun, heartfelt. You weren’t worried about what people were going to label it.

Lita: No, not at all. Absolutely dead on. That’s pretty much what we wrote this record for, was for people with ears and people with a heart, people with feelings. That’s all you need.

Could you update us on the situation with your kids?

My kids are with their dad [former Nitro frontman Jim Gillette]. There was a huge divorce that went down. Basically, he brainwashed them and took them from me—not legally take them from me, but he took them from me by brainwashing them and telling them, “Oh, you don’t want to go with Mommy, Mommy’s bad. Don’t go with Mommy.” Why put the divorce on the kids? He put the entire weight of the divorce on the back of my kids, is what happened, which is the worst thing any parent could possibly do to their child. It’s like losing your child. It’s like losing your child to some sort of freak, like in the mall or somebody hanging out in the bushes or at a bus stop. You know, you hear all these horror stories—that’s what it’s like, only I know where they are. That’s the only difference.

When I listened to “Mother,” it’s apparent that something like this is going on, but I didn’t know the actual story behind the song.

Yeah, that’s the real story, is in “Mother.” “Mother” is my song to my kids. And I hope that they listen to it and that they’re able to hear it.

You don’t know if they’ve heard it? Have you been in contact with them?

He won’t let them. He won’t let them hear it. He won’t let them have anything to do with me. He won’t let them look at any photographs. I’m wondering if they even have a computer. I mean, it’s bad. It’s just the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life. I wrote this song for them. I wrote this song to tell them how much I love them and to tell them that I didn’t mean for this to happen and that it’s not my fault. I didn’t do this to them, although they think I did. I miss them, I love them. They’re my life.

I think that came across so strongly in the song. It’s very sad and very touching, so I hope they’ll get to hear it.

We should hand a tissue out with everyone that listens to it. I’ve had grown men come over to my house, when they leave they’re crying, it’s like, “Bye, John! You got a Kleenex in your car?”

When I was pregnant, I’d have bad days and uncomfortable days, and it helped me feel better to think, “Lita Ford went through this.” I was hoping you’d talk a little bit about your pregnancies and what you remember about them.

I hated being pregnant. Sometimes you get people that love being pregnant and I understand why. Your hair gets thick and your skin gets real nice, and everyone goes, “You look so radiant!” But you’re like, “I feel like death!” My pregnancies were easy. My first pregnancy with James, it was a full-term pregnancy. I had a cesarean. I looked at the doctor, and I went, “There go my stomach muscles,” because I had the best stomach muscles. We wanted to have a second child, and I wanted my first child to have either a brother or a sister. I was an only child and I really didn’t want James to be an only child. I said to Jim, “Let’s try to have a second child. If I don’t get pregnant, maybe we can get that in vitro fertilization done.” And he said, “I don’t want a gift from science, I want a gift from god!” At that time I was 42 years old. I thought, “I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to get me pregnant at 42 years old.” I swear to god, I got pregnant in three months. I couldn’t believe it. Obviously Rocco was a gift from god. That was cool. I asked James, “What do you want, a boy or a girl?” James said, “I want a boy, just like me.” So, I took him with me to all the ultrasounds. When it got to that certain age, we did amniocentesis, where they take cells and study the cells. They looked at that and they knew it was a boy. And James saw on the ultrasound his little pee-pee. James goes, “Oh, it’s a pee-pee! It’s just like my pee-pee! It’s a boy!”

Were you touring or playing while you were pregnant?

With James, I was five months pregnant and we were doing live shows. It kind of freaked me out. I called the doctor and I asked her, I said, “Is this hurting the child?” Because it’s so loud, the volume is earth-shattering. She was a real smartass on the phone, and she said, “Not unless it’s hurting his ears!” She was being a jerk. I thought, “OK, he’s fine. Never mind.” Then I recorded some stuff in the studio seventh months pregnant. I got in the car and I drove from Panama City, FL to Nashville. I was like, “Man, what if my water breaks on the way?” I was thinking, “I’m just going to go for it and drive.” When I got to the studio, I had to wear my guitar off to one side, because my stomach was so big; I had to wear it over my hip.

How did your rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle influence the raising of your kids?

James, my older son, is amazing on guitar. We did this tour in 2008, and we played Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland—all through Europe. We took the kids. I took them everywhere I went. They didn’t go to school. They were home-schooled. I was their teacher. So, I had them with me all the time. When we came back from these shows, I was in the other room and I heard my guitar solos coming out of the other room. First thing I thought was, “Oh, they’re listening to a tape or they’re listening to some live performance on YouTube” or something. And I walked in the room, and it was my son James. He was playing my solos. I couldn’t believe it. I bought him a Goldtop Les Paul for his 10th birthday. My ex-husband was saying, “He doesn’t want that. He’s not going to play that. You just want that. You’re buying that for yourself.” And I said, “No, that’s not why I’m buying it. I’m buying it because he’s going to play it.” You know, kids are like, “I’m not going to play Mom’s guitars.” I bought him one for himself. I figured I’d put it in the corner of his room, and it can sit there as long as it likes until he’s ready to play it. Sure enough, he picked it up and he was playing the solo to “Close My Eyes Forever.” It blew me away. He had the vibrato. It sounded like me. And from that point he picked up all kinds of stuff—Guns N’ Roses and Def Leppard. It just got bigger and bigger.

Did you teach him guitar, or did he pick it up on his own?

I’d say he did learn from me at first. For a few months we would sit together at night, and we would play together. I would show him a couple of licks, and he would take it and make it his own. I showed him a little bit, but he really took off by himself. He really has a gift from god. I was really blown away.

Is there anything rebellious from your past, maybe with the Runaways or your early solo career, that you would fear your kids getting into? Is there anything that makes you think, “Oh, my god, don’t do that!”?

No, kids gotta be kids. They’ve got to go through that rebellious stage, and you just gotta trust and believe that they’ll do the right thing and not do something stupid. I think kids these days are really smart. I’m not saying the Runaways weren’t smart, but I just think they’re so in tune to more things than we were back in the Runaways. When I was in the Runaways it was 1976. I can’t believe that. When Nixon was in the Watergate Scandal, that’s how long ago that was. We got into other things. But today there are so many electronic devices and interesting things to get into, I think and I hope that my kids will steer towards that and be involved in something that’s more productive instead of just going crazy. With me, I got into playing guitar. I tried to stay away from drugs, but I got mixed up with the wrong people. I didn’t do a lot of drugs like a lot of people think. I did get mixed up into drugs, but I got out of doing drugs quickly, too. When my mom got sick and she passed away, I hung it up. I was like, “Drugs are for sick people, and I’m not sick, so why am I taking these?” I threw everything in the toilet. I put all my liquor in the box out for the trash man to take the next morning. And I haven’t touched them since. I hope my kids are rebellious. I think it’s a cool stage. I just hope that they channel their energy into positive things, like playing guitar or being athletic or being whoever they want to be when they grow up.

What was your policy on foul language? Were you for them using it or against them using it?

They don’t swear! It’s funny, because they’re around bad language all the time, and they never picked up on it. They never did. They just don’t speak like that, it’s really cool. There’s a certain point where you have to watch what you say. Some kids pick up on it and some kids know better.

What kind of music do your kids like that you hate?

They’ve got great taste in music; it’s really amazing. They listen to Def Leppard, they listen to Guns N’ Roses. They love heavy metal. It’s unbelievable. It’s not like they’re bringing home Justin Bieber. I’m not exactly a Justin Bieber fan. I know a lot of people are, and that’s cool. But they’re really into old rock and roll. They love it. Because I home-schooled my sons, I did this thing where, “A is for Alice Cooper, B is for Black Sabbath, C is for Cult, D is for Def Leppard.” We went through the whole alphabet. Then I would teach them all the songs, like, “A is for Alice Cooper,” so we would go through the whole Alice Cooper catalog, and I would play them “School’s Out” and “Welcome to My Nightmare” and “Only Women Bleed.” Then we would go on to Black Sabbath, and we would start playing Black Sabbath songs, AC/DC songs. I taught them the school of rock.

What do you think was the most surprising thing about being a mom, or the surprising way it changed you?

I think being a father and being a mom is probably one of the most difficult jobs in the world. I don’t know what it’s like to be a brain surgeon or anything like that, but I know that being a parent is truly a trying job. I read this article with the actor George Wendt where he said, “Being a parent is half love and half guerilla warfare.” I love that saying, and I thought it was so suitable. I really believe it’s one of the most difficult jobs on the planet.

What’s the most important parenting lesson you’d like to share?

I would say if you ever get angry at your spouse, don’t ever take it out on your kids. Don’t ever put them in a position where you use them as a tool or a pawn. Keep them out of it. Keep them out of your arguments. Keep them out of any family problems. They don’t need to know about it. Just let them be a kid.

Top 5 Metal Songs We Hate To Admit We Like

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, lists On: Monday, July 14th, 2014


Every metalhead has a few skeletons in their respective closet. And by skeletons, we mean musical skeletons not anything particularly untoward or, possibly, illegal. Growing up first on pop music, then on cock rock, and then with thrash, death, black, and every fucking sub-genre (and sub-sub-genre) offshoot, it’s pretty easy to see and hear where extreme metal fails to scratch—traditional songwriting, for the most part—a particular itch. So, when metal bands—some not so metal in the eyes and ears of some—have a rare “song moment” and I’m not concerned about my scene cred allocation going into the negative, I get all stupid passionate about bands I normally wouldn’t give to the Decibot’s mega-brutal auto-delete bin.

So, here’s my Top 5 Metal Songs I had to admit I like. Tell us your Top 5 in the comments section.

5. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Love Kills
Vinnie Vincent had a brief, albeit productive time in idiots KISS before he was summarily executed by chief dickheads Simmons and Stanley. After making KISS better, he ventured into solo territory with Vinnie Vincent Invasion. One record with ex-Journey frontman Robert Fleischman and one with future Slaughter star Mark Slaughter hit listeners with marginal success. That is until “Love Kills” appeared as the main tune for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. It’s a prudent argument on whether or not Vinnie Vincent Invasion—and in particular “Love Kills”—is metal, but one listen to “Invasion” (HERE) and Vin-meister’s roots are evident. And, hey, Jeff Scott Soto’s on backing vox. “Love Kills” is a tried and true heavy metal ballad, with Slaughter’s saccharine vocals leading the charge. The thing is “Love Kills” is hard to forget. When the chorus hits, Vin and his boys are full-on Velveeta and, shockingly, brilliant. Sure, Dokken also knocked it out of the park with “Dream Warriors”, but “Love Kills” is a go-to song when the chips are down or I’m tired of hearing songs about slimy monsters from the abyss.

4. In This Moment – Forever
I’m half scared to admit I like—no, really like—this song. If only to continue to get assignments with Decibel, actually. Believe it or not, I combed In This Moment’s early catalog to much dismay, except for this song, “Forever”. Half Lita Ford, half new wave, “Forever” has that end-of-summer quality to it. That the video was filmed on a beach with a setting sun doesn’t really have anything to do with the sentiment either. Maria Brink is strong here. Her dynamic range is great and her emotion well-positioned. The band is also on point musically and compositionally, particularly at 2:21. I’ll defend the reasons why I like this tune to the death (if asked), but I can’t say I’ll militarily support In This Moment’s other stuff, like “Whore” (HERE, if you dare).

3. Deathstars – Blitzkrieg
Uh, oh! If names Ole Öhman, Emil Nödtveidt and Andreas Bergh ring a bell, well, you were well entrenched in mid-’90s Swedish black/death metal. Öhman was a one-time drummer for Ophthalamia, but he famously beat skins in Dissection, while Nödtveidt—Jon’s (RIP) younger brother—and Bergh were stakeholders in Swordmaster, whose Deathraider EP remains the only decent part of the group’s repertoire. Anyway, Deathstars formed in the post-abortal glow of millennial black metal, ’80s gothic music, and whatever Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson call themselves. It’s pretty easy to ignore most of Deathstars’ industrial goth, but “Blitzkrieg” is stupid catchy. Metal bands, even Swedish ones, weren’t known for a wicked hook, but between pseudo-Nazi uniforms and creepy Carl McCoy altars, Deathstars wrote a song that should’ve been major label and Hollywood-supported. Can’t really vouch for the rest of Deathstars’ catalog, but this song is great, even if it’s as stupid as Glen Benton’s best lyrics.

2. Metallica – King Nothing
St. Anger was Metallica’s Episode I – The Phantom Menace. There’s nothing remotely interesting on that record. When Death Magnetic hit, Metallica weren’t much better (less Jar Jar Binks level horseshit), so looking for a fix, I reluctantly went back to Metallica albums I initially heaved out of mind and thought with great force in the mid-’90s. Load and Reload are still Metallica neutered—compare any song from the self-titled, for example, to hear my point. But out of an embarrassing shitstorm comes “King Nothing”. Hetfield’s still can’t sing very well, but the Hammett’s at least riffing and soloing like he’s Hammett; not the shade of a shade of his former self as on St. Anger and Death Magnetic. “King Nothing” was probably written in the early ’90s only to surface on Load. It has that cutting floor quality to it. Nonetheless, when I’m trying to figure out where and when Metallica when awry, “King Nothing” is a cogent starting point.

1. P.O.D. – Sleeping Awake
There’s a theme here. Bands with songs written for movie soundtracks. P.O.D. (short for Payable On Death) were rock radio and MTV darlings for a good number of years. I have no idea what happened before “Sleeping Awake”, a song written for Matrix Reloaded, or after—likely Andrew knows—, but I remember when this song first aired on radio. Who is this? P.O.D.? No shit. Yeah, the singer-guy’s rap-like cadence grates a bit, but compositionally I’ll take this any day over any song on Tool’s 10,000 Days or Mastodon’s The Hunter (for a in-era and out-of-era comparison). It’s got an easy build, the backward rhythm—the drummer and bassist are on fire!—thing is ridiculously cool, and a viciously smart chorus. Not sure if P.O.D. did anything remotely similar to “Sleeping Awake”—doubt it—but this is a song that’s remained discreetly filed in my digital collection for years. In WAV format, too.

Sucker For Punishment: A gift from a black metal god

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, November 6th, 2013


Pardon me if I’m a little distracted this morning, I just saw Slayer last night, and say what you will about Kerry and Tom heading out with a pair of hired ringers in Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, but their all-oldies setlist warmed the cockles of this 43 year-old’s heart. No fewer than six Metal Blade-era songs, including “Captor of Sin”, which I’d waited 29 years to hear live. Three additional Reign in Blood deep cuts to go along with the requisite staples. An inexplicable but wicked cover of Exodus’s “Strike of the Beast”, for crying out loud. And five Seasons songs tossed in for the noobs. It was shameless nostalgia, bordering on a cabaret show, and when the new album arrives I’ll cross that bridge cautiously, but at a time when Kerry King needs to get back in the good graces of his longtime fans, my oh my, do he and the guys ever deliver on their current tour. Check it out if you can.

As for this week’s new releases, welcome to that time of year where the quality of new music starts to wind down. It’s a fairly busy week, the quality decent, with just a couple of must-buys. And yes, I endorse the new Stryper album, in that it’s very good at that particular form of music. However, if there’s ever a CD sticker or a print ad saying the new Stryper album is “Decibel approved”, I might have some explaining to do.

This week’s essential albums:

Cara Neir, Portals To A Better, Dead World (Broken Limbs): The Texas duo has always been great at combining black metal, punk, post-punk, and progressive metal, but their latest album molds it into a fully-realized, cohesive whole in a way they’ve never done before. Melodic, playfully atonal, ferocious, and never complacent enough to stay within one particular template, it’s high time people started regarding Cara Neir as important up-and-comers in extreme music. Stream and buy it via Bandcamp.

Gift Of Gods, Receive (Peaceville): If you’re a fan of Darkthrone’s The Underground Resistance – and if you profess to like metal, there’s no way you can possibly not like it – then you’ll love the debut solo EP by Nocturno Culto. Stylistically it’s very much the same, with loads of Celtic Frost worship, but it’s not without its quirks, like a startlingly good cover of Universe’s “Looking For an Answer”. Not only is Gift of Gods a fine companion to The Underground Resistance, but you can’t help but hope Nocturno continues to explore his own sound further with this project. This EP is far too good not to follow up.

Also out this week:

Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Spiritus Mundi (Tee Pee): The French rockers are back with another album that’s typically a diverse and often befuddling blend of psychedelic rock, space rock, garage rock, and even a little Donovan-derived folk. Highlighted by a psychotic cover of the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Roller Coaster”, it’s an unpredictable record, but one that’s never for a second dull.

Convulse, Evil Prevails (Svart): The Finnish death metal veterans reunited 18 years after splitting up, and have since recorded a third album, their first since 1994’s Reflections. Not surprisingly it’s a workmanlike example of first-wave Scandinavian death metal, plenty pulverizing but always mindful of songwriting dynamics.

Czar, No One Is Alone If No One Is Alive (Cracknation): The Chicago band’s second album is an interesting one, bridging hardcore, noise, and metal, but not in the obvious ways, instead creating a peculiar hybrid of power, dissonance, and melody. It crunches, it grooves, it lurches, all with impressive precision. Stream and buy it via Bandcamp.

Dagoba, Post Mortem Nihil Est (eOne): What sounded creative ten years ago now sounds stale and repetitive, as French band Dagoba continue to plug away with the chugging, atmospheric groove metal. It’s capably done and slickly produced, but despite some admittedly strong moments (“Yes We Die”) it’s impossible to get excited about this form of music. Which reminds me, remember the band Raunchy?

Enabler, Flies (The Compound): The best tracks on this new EP by the Milwaukee hardcore band are the surprisingly measured instrumental “Switch” and the wicked cover of Sepultura’s “Arise”. But the entire thing costs only four bucks, so why not buy the whole shebang? Get it via Bandcamp.

Falkenbach, Asa (Prophecy): It’s been a while since I last heard a Viking metal album as good as this one, the latest by the project helmed by German musician Vratyas Vakyas. Since Árstíðir Lífsins’ Vápna lækjar eldr, actually. Adorned with atmospheric, melancholy melodies that pine for the fjords like the Norwegian Blue, this is tastefully written and performed, richly arranged, and bracing to listen to.

Finnr’s Cane, A Portrait Painted By The Sun (Prophecy): It’s nice to come across Canadian metal bands that are inspired by their landscape, and Sudbury, Ontario’s Finnr’s Cane is just that. Hailing from a mining-ravaged environment that at times looks like the surface of the moon, this band’s music is suitably bleak, a forlorn blend of black metal and expansive post-metal. A welcome addition to Prophecy’s impressive roster.

Impending Doom, Death Will Reign (eOne): These Christian metalers actually have a much better grasp of deathcore than your average deathcore band, and on their fifth album their bludgeoning noise is competently accentuated by plenty of moments that involve genuine musicality.

Izegrim, Congress of the Insane (Listenable): The Dutch band continue to churn out the death-infused thrash metal in their Holy Moses-influenced way, frontwoman Marloes Voskuil following faithfully in the footsteps of Sabina Classen. “Celebratory Gunfire”  is a standout on a straightforward, satisfying record.

Lita Ford, The Bitch Is Back…Live (SPV): For a small club show recorded in her old stomping ground of Los Angeles, Lita Ford’s new live album is a somewhat tepid affair, with not much palpable energy from neither the band nor the crowd. That said, Ford is enjoying a nice little resurgence – last year’s Living Like a Runaway was a charmer – and the new material sounds solid here, as do the ‘80s staples like “Can’t Catch Me” and “Kiss Me Deadly”.

Mad Hatter’s Den, Welcome To The Den (Inverse): The Finnish band relies on keyboards a little too much, but that doesn’t take away from the songwriting, which is lovingly derived from Maiden and Priest and features a strong lead singer in Taage Laiho. Couple that with a song as wonderfully titled as “Sharks of Power”, and you’ve got a winner. This one’s a blast.

(the) Melvins, Tres Cabrones (Ipecac): The gimmick behind this latest Melvins release is that original drummer Mike Dillard has returned to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary, with Dale Crover moving to bass for this album. It’s a neat little novelty, and Buzz and the guys are clearly having a blast on the new songs as well as the hilarious covers of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and “Tie My Pecker to a Tree”, but nothing these days beats the four-piece Melvins (featuring Buzz, Crover, and the Big Business boys) and it’s now been more than three years since The Bride Screamed Murder. This stuff is a blast, no question, but bring back the four-piece lineup, guys.

Mother Susurrus, Maahaavaa (Ektro): Another avant-garde gem from Finland, this time a remarkable combination of doomy metal and acid rock. No sunlight in winter and no darkness in summer clearly compels people to make the freakydeakiest music possible.

Nekrofilth, Devil’s Breath (Hells Headbangers): Hells Headbangers have an incredible ear for quality fist-bangin’ thrash filth, and the latest by the Cleveland band – their first full-length after a series of demos and splits – is a simple, predictable blend of thrash and hardcore punk, but done with tremendous energy and humor. Harmless, riotous fun.

Otargos, Apex Terror (Listenable): Creative black metal that smartly thinks outside the box? Of course, it’s from France. It’s not quite on the level of Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, and tends to pay homage (putting it politely) to Gojira more often than not, but this latest album by Otargos is nevertheless worth investigating.

Ovo, Abisso (Supernatural Cat): The weirdo Italian duo has teamed up with Gnaw’s Alan Dubin and Carla Bozulich’s band Evangelista for yet another stupefying, impenetrable, yet surreally enthralling collection of music that ranges from relentless metallic pieces to arbitrary jamming in the name of experimentation.

Paradise Lost, Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities) (Century Media): It seems odd, and slightly cynical, to commemorate a significant anniversary with a Contractual Obligation Album but longtime fans of Paradise Lost will find this new odds-and-sods collection of mild interest, from the gothed-up covers (including Everything But the Girl’s classic “Missing”) to the two re-recorded tracks, and the new song “Loneliness Remains”. New and casual listeners might want to stick with the proper albums, though.

Rising, Abominor (Indisciplinarian): The Danish band’s blend of crust, sludge, and simple rock ‘n’ roll is energetic enough, but the monochromatic vocals by the sandpaper-throated Jacob Krogholt greatly diminish the overall impact of the otherwise very good music, feeling like an empty imitation of Lemmy and Jaz Coleman.

Stryper, No More Hell To Pay (Frontiers): It’s easy to lampoon Stryper these days, but once upon a time these guys made quality heavy metal/hard rock when they weren’t flinging bibles at audiences. 1985’s Soldiers Under Command was a first-rate record, and this new album very much follows that template, the music harder-edged, melodic, and bolstered by the singing of Robert Sweet, which is just as strong as it was 30 years ago. Even the cover of the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus is Alright With Me” kind of works. Sure, the fundie proselytizing gets cheesy, but so does Watain’s Satanic proselytizing. In both cases, the music is good enough for secular listeners to enjoy just as much as those who take the lyrics seriously. Jebus, the Debil, it’s all a gimmick. Stryper have their gimmick, and they sell it well here. Yeah, I’m just as surprised as you.

Vengeance, Piece Of Cake (SPV): If it’s always 1989 in your mind, if the first Blue Murder album is your own personal Black Sabbath, if you keep wondering why Axel Rudi Pell doesn’t put out new albums every six months instead of annually, then you’ll probably be excited about this one. For the rest of you, Leon Goewie’s vocal histrionics will have you in stitches.

Zemial, Nykta (Hells Headbangers): Active since 1989 but with only three proper full-length albums, any day the Greek band puts a new one out is clearly an event for their followers. Helmed by Archon Vorskaath, who handles all the instrumentation, Nykta is very much like the recent work by Rotting Christ, a peculiar combination of influences, rooted in black metal but far more wide-ranging, songs hinting at a filthier side but recorded cleanly, riffs hinting at savagery but quickly giving way to melody. From the Celtic Frost-style “Under Scythian Command”, to the defiantly proggy, 11-minute “In the Arms of Hades”, to the “cover” of John Cage’s “4:33”, it’s an impressive work by someone unwilling to be tied down by genre restrictions.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

The Opium Cartel, Ardor (Termo): Led by Jacob Holm-Lupo, from one of my favorite prog bands White Willow, this Norwegian Collective focuses on the lighter, more pastoral side of progressive rock, combining such ‘70s influences as Genesis and King Crimson, and from the ‘80s, The Dream Academy. Production-wise this new album totally evokes the mid-1980s, a lush, sumptuous sound that celebrates the smooth-sounding excesses of that era, wonderfully exemplified on the epic “Mariner, Come In”. While singer Alexander Stenerud does a splendid job singing on such tracks as “White Wolf” and “Northern Rains”, Norwegian pop singer Venke Knutson steals the show on such standouts as “Kissing Moon”, “Revenant”, and the absolutely beautiful, understated cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Then Came the Last Days of May”. Check out Ardor at iTunes.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy 

For Those About to Squawk: Waldo’s Pecks of the Week

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, November 1st, 2013


Well, as the year comes closer to ending, the releases are slowing down. Maybe not so much right now, but soon enough, so don’t be surprised if your old boy Waldo starts “pecking”a bunch of stuff he doesn’t really like . So, here’s all of the hate that’s fit to beak.

Ten years of TOXIC HOLOCAUST. Say it ain’t so. Well, the toxic one, Joel Grind, has released Chemistry of Consciousness on Relapse, and your fine feathered friend is willing to say that it’s the most well-rounded TH album to date. That’s not to say that it’s a departure; far from it actually. This is a nasty piece of thrash, and thrash it is. Not breaking any new boundaries, this does come across as having a little more breadth than previous releases, mostly by referencing earlier anarcho-punk and the first wave of  U.K. hardcore. This is a downright nasty slab, and to call it just plain thrash doesn’t give this enough credit, so credit where credit is due. Grind’s vocals are filled with distorted razor-shredding vitriol, and the production is forceful and clear without sacrificing any intensity. There are some “slower” jams, which aren’t slow at all; they just stand to make the absolute shredders all the more shredding. The LP comes with a blotter sheet too.  Peck this thing up. 8 Fucking Pecks

CONVULSE release Evil Prevails on Svart, and this is a record that fans will both love and hate, not just in general, mostly at the same time. Convulse started off releasing the classic death metal record World Without God, and, well, this isn’t it. This isn’t a bad release, but it definitely shows the band’s age, and is a passable death metal record. There are some riffs and moods that are reminiscent of bands like Grave, and then some that remind the listener more of avant jazz, or rock passages, just more watered down. I hate to give a review that has the vibe of “you like this if you like it, and won’t like it if you don’t”; however, that’s really where I stand on this. I WANT to like it more than I do; I just think it’s pretty beaking boring and kind of goes nowhere. So, uh, yeah I guess I don’t like it. 4 Fucking Pecks

The Bitch Is Back by LITA FORD is an utterly worthless cover record of Elton John’s record of the same name. (No, it’s not, but I haven’t listened and neither should you). 1 Fucking Peck

Need some gothic doom rarities? Well, you’ll never guess what PARADISE LOST have in store for you. This is one of those things that’s usually a stopgap between records to try to remind fans that the band still exists, so Tragic Illusions 25 is more than likely that. This is a collection of tracks that have been released, but are difficult to find. Spanning their career, there is at least ONE new track on this. I dunno, I typically don’t get too excited about things like this, and this is not the exception.  I find this bland and unappealing, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the band, so I’m not going to hate on it. But I WILL say this is for fans, hardcore fans only. Gothic doom rarities…  sure…  5 Fucking Pecks.

Video Gold From Metal’s Early Years

By: adem Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, heavy tuesdays, stupid crap, videos On: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012


Metallica were wise to wait several years before making their first promotional music video. Having experienced it first hand—waiting patiently for a metal video to pop up so we could capture it on our VHS recorder—we can attest to the fact that the dawn of music videos in the early ’80s was the worst. Especially the metal ones, which were frequently done on indie-label budgets and generally made no sense at all.

So using those old videotapes as a reference point we dug up some fine examples on Youtube of the kind of crapola that used to pass as promo videos.

The thing we always remembered most about this early Rods video can be summed up in three words: Carl Canedy’s shoulders. We actually really like this song and were stoked at the time to see a video of it since the band were still on Shrapnel Records. But as the video unfolded—and your guess is as good as mine as to what connection the song has to the video—it reminded us more of a really low-budget porno. The backseat scene with Canedy and a nubile around the one-minute mark is fairly creepy. Adding to the overall sleazy vibe is the video quality which looked like it was filmed on someone’s dad’s Betamax camera.

Early conceptual videos usually failed miserably. It’s one thing to have a few hairy biker-looking dudes diddling around with a leather-clad chick in the back of a hot rod while you’re singing about a hurricane, but please explain to us why the centerpiece of this NWOBHM video is a wig-wearing judge who’s really a woman. And why is the judge seated in front of the stage? Honestly, this is lyrically just about the simplest story and some high-concept, video-directing nitwit made it nonsensical.

This is definitely a case of the video concept trumping the actual song content. As far as we can tell, there is no connection between the two. They had an idea for a video and decided that the song “The Damned” would be the best soundtrack. Nonetheless, we offer this up as something of a good example of what could be done if you had no fucking clue as to how to make a mini-movie about a band’s song. Just get the lead singer to do some crazy-ass shit, blow up and smash a bunch of stuff, add a bit of lip-syncing and call it good.

Twisted Sister, to their credit, have always been very self-aware regarding their general image and the absurdity of giant, burly men wearing makeup. They don’t, however, deal in subtlety. If there’s a point they’re trying to make with their music and/or videos, you will be crystal clear as to what it is in no time. In this case, the song is “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll,” so, of course, some vaguely communist-looking bad guys who use cell phones the size of bricks are trying to, uh, stop rock ‘n’ roll. Sigh.

A few years removed from the Runaways and following on Joan Jett’s mega success with, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Lita Ford committed herself to the metal cause with her first solo album, Out For Blood. Like many, if not most, metal videos of the day, it inevitably involved some poor sap who is randomly hauled off to a mental hospital. There are a dozen other things about this video that lead nowhere—why is the bassist playing an actual axe, for instance?—so it’s best not to try to sort this one out, lest you hurt your brain.

We can imagine how the meeting with the director went when Michael Schenker was deciding what to do for the “Dancer” video. “How about we have a lady dressed entirely in spandex, but also wearing a leather jacket—to make sure people know she’s metal—dancing around on stage while the band lip syncs to the song?” Brilliant! “Oh, and make sure the singer looks really sweaty, too.”

Baroness [#93] – July 2012

By: lucas Posted in: On: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012


Coloring Outside the Metal Lines

Fear Factory, Saint Vitus, Call & Response with Eluveitie, Job for a Cowboy, Marduk, Special: Inside Metal’s Reissue Craze, Q&A with Lita Ford, Decibel Hall of Fame: the making of Dying Fetus’s Destroy the Opposition
Nile, Moonspell, Mutilation Rites, Anhedonist, God Forbid, Ides of Gemini, Phobia, Ancestors, Struck by Lightning, Ehnahre

Ides of Gemini added to open Los Angeles date of the Decibel Magazine Tour

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, the decibel magazine tour, tours On: Monday, March 12th, 2012


If you’ve read Cry Now, Cry Later or one of J. Bennett’s many (read: nearly all of them) cover stories for Decibel, you’re probably familiar with the dude. He writes like he’s on some sort of drug, but actually it’s just the rarefied air he breathes. Unlike the rest of us hobbits (i.e., 6′ and shorter), Bennett’s head’s literally in the clouds. Like that big giant with a ship for a hat in Time Bandits.

Anyway, what most of you don’t know is that Bennett also helms–with the help of Sera Timms–genre-bending outfit Ides of Gemini. First self-released and now on Neurot Recordings, Ides of Gemini is one of those bands that can’t be classified or pushed through an easy category filter. There’s bits of everything in there (except for Mozambique deathfolk), and the hot pot of influences–mostly loud and guazy–makes for some seriously thrilling music. And, guess what? You don’t have to have your head in the clouds to like it.

“I could rattle off the usual blather about being thrilled to be part of such a killer lineup,” posits scribe/bathrobe aficionado/Ides of Gemini musicman J. Bennett. “And every word of it would be true. But I’d be more to the point by saying I fucking love nepotism when it’s used properly. And I can’t think of a more proper usage than tapping Ides Of Gemini to be the opener on the Hollywood date of the Decibel tour. It’s like when Black Sabbath brought Lita Ford out on the road in ’82 because she was banging Tony Iommi. Her first solo album wasn’t even out yet (just like our album won’t be when we hit the stage on April 25th), and people maybe didn’t give her enough respect because she’s a woman (we have TWO of those), but she went on to kick a fair amount of ass before marrying the dude from Nitro or whatever. The best part, of course, is that we didn’t have to sleep with Tony Iommi to get this gig. I just had to dedicate about seven years of my life to Albert’s deadlines. And I’d do it again in a second.”

Ides of Gemini will exclusively play songs of ethereal death at the House of Blues Sunset Strip
April 25 – Lost Angeles, CA – BUY TICKETS

** For the complete Decibel Magazine Tour dates, please visit the Decibel Magazine Tour WEBSITE.

** Visit and like Ides of Gemini on Facebook.

And The Headlines Scream…Part II

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, lists, stupid crap, uncategorized On: Thursday, December 1st, 2011


While it may not be a slow day in the world of news as it pertains to extreme music – Pennsylvania “fuckrock” band Gods & Queens are still fuck rocked in Europe; Mexican gore grinders Rottenness are, last I heard, still stranded in Texas on tour after spending the money they allotted to get home on tequila, tuna and Brutal Truth merch; Hirax absolutely ruled the Goregrowlers Ball in San Antonio two weekends ago; my kid recently penned another of his scathing show reviews after interviewing Dragonforce in Toronto last month – it’s a fast day in the world of laziness and motivational dearth as it pertains to yours truly. And while it’s never a pretty sight when laziness and deadlines collide, it happens all the time in my world where laziness is a lifelong trait and I work in a field where meeting deadlines is half the battle. So, I figured I’d stay true to the sloth my father has loved to point out ever since I took my sweet old time sliding down my mother’s birth canal and this whole Thursday afternoon Deciblog thing I’ve signed up for (“Wait, you mean EVERY Thursday?!”) and take a gander at all the news that’s fit to laugh at on Blabbermouth and give y’all a look at this week’s most awesome headlines.

I will forever be at a crossroads when people who haven’t been part of the middle class for decades show their concern for the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and those a little bit less than poor not being able to spend their money on Th1rt3en.

This rules! Former Europe guitarist Kee Marcello is lining his ass up for the final countdown by staging a fest at a big-ass race track/complex outside of Gothenburg in late June. He’s expecting people to saunter over from all corners of mainland Europe and Scandinavia despite not yet having booked anyone outside of his own ego to perform.

According to this compelling bit, the members of In Flames hooked up with Trivium’s Matt Heafy in a battle of food connoisseur-ism, NOT to see who’s written the more reprehensible metal in recent memory. The meeting took place at a Gothenburg restaurant owned by the members of In Flames and was taped for television posterity. Insert your own wise cracks here.

Outrage averted when the website hawking tickets for the Brazilian run of Lollapalooza crashes due to overwhelming demand. Either Brazilians, as a people, love being insulted or someone’s making a big deal out of innocuous comments from the mouth of Perry Farrell. You decide.

In other news, every metal head ever sings Motorhead’s praises.

That Keefest guy should take a lesson here: there’s no need to rope off an entire racing complex for an ego stroke. Just open your own “rockin’ sports eatery,” pack the house then lock the doors. Game, set and match.

The follow-up story in which Lita gets pissed at Joan for calling her by her full name (Carmelita, by the way) while reminiscing over the 70s hair styling tricks they used to achieve those flowing locks and killer, center parts proves to be marginally more exciting.

The news here isn’t that former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson has been GN’R for 14 years (14 years?! Who knew?), it’s that after a decade-and-a-half he still hasn’t figured out what the hell is going on under his own nose, what the meandering Axl Rose is trying to do or where the band is going.

See what we mean? Also, when asked if the band is in writing mode three years after Chinese Democracy, Stinson replies he’s not sure. Geez, wouldn’t it be obvious if the band you’re in was in the process of writing an album? There have been many calls for the GN’R moniker to rest in peace. “Axl and the Enablers” seems as good a name as any.

…but remain surprisingly non-plussed about none-too-subtle placement in Maximum Overdrive, Jerry Maguire, Little Nicky, School of Rock and Iron Man

Funny, those slogging it out in the trenches of the music industry go on and on about no one buying records anymore, yet will still contemplate making available an album no one wanted in the first place.

America’s fastest, most reliable network thwarted by Peter Criss action figures and a replica pair of Gene Simmons’ platform boots.

Dronouncement: New Wrekmeister Harmonies Album, “Then It All Came Down!”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Tuesday, September 9th, 2014


A little over a year ago, we debuted a stream of Wrekmeister Harmonies’ You’ve Always Meant so Much to Me, a harrowing piece of modernist drone from mastermind JR Robinson (the Alan Moore-looking dude above). We dug it a lot,  so we are super psyched to let you know that he’s already recorded a follow-up, Then It All Came Down, and it’s coming out October 21. Featuring members of Indian, Leviathan, Codeine, and more (see the full breakdown in our exclusive interview below), it’s one track, 34 minutes of carefully composed despair. With artwork (also visible below) designed by artist Simon Fowler (Earth, Sunno)))), it’s a pretty sweet package. But let the man himself explain it to you below.


Did you approach this work any differently than your previous albums?

They were different with respect to having more collaborators this time…more moving parts. I recorded some at home, some with Howard Bilerman up in Montreal and with Sanford Parker here in Chicago as well as collaborators in Los Angeles and San Francisco sending in their parts. I also recorded the sound of a church organ and then played it inside of a lighthouse on Lake Michigan and recorded that. The approach was different on this work too because of the subject matter. You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me was about the endless cycle of nature slowly obliterating the physical structures of mankind, about nature obliterating itself and the beauty and harshness in that decay cycle. Then It All Came Down is an examination of lightness into dark, how human beings gravitate from circumstances that are considered inherently “good and of the light” and decline into occurrences that are considered obscene and barbaric.

The “pretty” parts and the “evil” parts feel respectively prettier/more evil this time around to me. Do you feel that way as well, and is there a reason for that?

I do. The piece was inspired by a Truman Capote essay in which he interviews Bobby Beausoliel in San Quentin Prison back in 1973. Capote presents Beausoliel as a figure of almost angelic beauty but with the slightest change of angle one that becomes a harsher and more sinister human. This one observation was (to me) incredibly perverse and interesting – lightness turns to darkness. This condition is a reversal of what most humans seek. We are taught to reject the darkness, if confronted with darkness or evil” in our existence we must find a way to back to the light, to all things “good”. I spent a great deal of time thinking about this, writing an essay about it and composing this piece of music as a reaction. There are several intentional correlations with Capote’s essay and my piece; Ryley Walker’s tranced out strumming imagines Beusoliel as the beach bum chugging along the PCH on his bike, tripping and fucking. Lydia Lane Stout, Chanel Pease and Kate Spelling represent Beausoliel’s girls, celestial voices of beauty and light swooping in and out of the atmosphere tempting you to come closer. Wrest’s strangled invocation and ceremonial introduction to the evil that will befall you. The string quartet of Lonberg-Holm, Patterson, Shaw and Howard pulling you into the madness where loss of direction is imminent and irreversible, finally delivering the listener to rot and be abandoned in the inescapable darkness represented by Indian, Bloodiest, Brokaw, Soltroff and Leger.

Why did you choose the particular guest musicians for this project?

About a year ago I dropped by the recording studio where Indian were finishing up their new record. The sound was absolutely dense, violent and severe. Speaking with Dylan O’Toole and Ron DeFries I found two exceptional and intelligent opinions on composition structure and sonic transference. They were into the idea of stretching out over a longer format and the result floored me. Wrest is a shadowy and elusive figure that I have infrequent phone conversations with, usually very late during the harlot hours. I’m lucky to see him in person once or twice a year. For some reason he’s interested whenever I float an idea by him about collaborating. He’ll mail me a cd and I don’t ask too many questions. Chris Brokaw made Frigid Stars with Codeine, which is in my opinion one of the finest examples of monolithic, slow burning contemporary music ever recorded. I met him in NYC several years ago and we’ve maintained a tight bond. Noah Leger plays drums in Disappears and is one of those unique individuals who has totally mastered his craft. He’s very much like the roadrunner in human form, very difficult to catch because of his schedule and penchant for crashing his motorcycle and amazing with his speed and dexterity.  Eric Chaleff of Bloodiest is a gruff and militaristic individual with an almost clairvoyant ability to interpret my ramblings about “heaviness” and transfer them into the physical realm. I’m fortunate and thankful to be able to work with them.

What do you find to be so effective about the structure you’ve used on this and You’ve Always Meant so Much to Me, with the extremely slow build to an apocalyptic heavy part?

The slow build to apocalyptic end is all about creating an atmosphere for the listener and about communicating an idea. Creating a feeling or idea of “things might be ok here” and transferring that to a different territory of “things are definitely not ok” almost imperceptibly. This is the way a lot of humans experience their existence and I’m trying to communicate that through these compositions. This inevitably takes time and is a reoccurring theme, much like the experiences we all have encountered, some with greater or lesser degrees of frequency. This particular format of arrangement is an empirically effective way for me to communicate this complex set of emotions and experiences of the human condition.

What do you want the listener to take away from this work?

I could not begin to dictate what the listener should or should not take away from listening to my work. The fact that a person takes the time to listen to the piece and has a reaction (whatever that might be) is the best I can hope for.AndThenItAllCameDown_Print_Demo

***Then It All Came Down releases October 21 on Thrill Jockey. Preorder the album here. Get that totally sweet poster here. Order tickets to a special live performance at the Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago on December 6 here.

Sucker For Punishment: Full Ascent

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014


There are certain bands I’ve only seen in specific settings, and in some cases it’s something where I’d like it to stay that way. I’m sure some readers might relate. For instance, I’ve seen Sodom four times, all on a cruise ship, and it’s gotten to the point now where the notion of seeing the almighty Sodom somewhere other than such a surreal setting on the Caribbean just doesn’t seem right. YOB is another. I live in a city where an underground doom band like YOB can’t afford to tour through, so the only times I’ve seen the Oregon trio play is at the Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands, which is as perfect a setting as you can get. It’d be admittedly awesome to see the band play in a small room in North America, but Roadburn is the one place where Mike Scheidt and YOB are superstars, and the four times I’ve seen them perform have been in front of 2,000 people. And I always experience YOB from the same spot, on stage left, right underneath the gigantic tower of PA stacked beside the stage. The sound there is so immense it becomes tactile, like you can reach out and grab those colossal sound waves. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and likely ever will.

Just how YOB can create such a massive sound from just the barest minimum of equipment has long fascinated me, and I posed the question to Scheidt a few weeks ago for a feature that will appear in the next issue of Decibel. His response was a fascinating one, one which you’ll have to wait a bit for to see, but that reputation of being one of the most gloriously heavy bands in the world right now is on full display on the band’s brilliant seventh album, the aptly titled Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot).

Arriving on the heels of 2011’s Atma, a record intentionally given a much grittier sound than usual, which divided a few opinions, Clearing the Path to Ascend takes a much more straightforward approach, focusing more on that classic doom sound, bringing out as much of that live force as possible. As usual, the tracks are long and very drawn out, requiring patience from those not used to sitting through doom tracks that plod along for more than 15 minutes. However, true to this band’s form, these four tracks, ranging from 11 minutes to nearly 19, are as riveting as you could ever hope for them to be. They might take their time, but they always reach a spellbinding resolution. Better yet, though, the album follows a distinct arc, making for YOB’s most dynamic album in a long time.

“In Our Blood” kicks things off in classic YOB fashion, an exercise in the mighty, towering doom that audiences expect from Scheidt. “Nothing to Win” follows immediately with a throttling arrangement led by drummer Travis Foster, whose thundering beats will remind many of the primal intensity of Neurosis at its best. “Unmask the Spectre” kicks off an enthralling second half, taking the listener deep into some of the darkest themes and tones the band has created to date, and that is countered immediately by the gorgeous closing track “Marrow”, whose melody and use of layered vocals is unlike anything YOB has done, reaching a level of unabashed beauty they’ve never quite pulled off before.

YOB has never put out a bad record, but this new one is a marked step up from Atma, and very much on par with 2009’s triumphant The Great Cessation. Scheidt and YOB are masters of the form, and they’re sounding particularly inspired here. I hope I get to see this album performed live at Roadburn someday, but whatever the venue, you know these tunes would be glorious in a live setting.

There’s no shortage of other good new music to investigate this week, which is nice to see:

Blood Of Kingu, Dark Star On The Right Horn of the Crescent Moon (Season Of Mist): In direct contrast to Krieg’s new album, which is reviewed below and which you should totally get, this latest by the Drudkh side project is one-dimensional to the point of boring. Unrelenting speed but little to no dynamics, clanging sound effects to try to create atmosphere (been there, done that), and absolutely no trace of character to be found. Cosidering this band’s pedigree, such laziness is inexcusable. I’m not buying this, and neither should you.

Code Orange, I Am King (Deathwish): Kids no longer, I take it? Indeed, the new album by the young Pittsburgh band shows so much growth that it’s easy to see why they dropped the word “Kids” from their name. Anything to get folks to take them more seriously. Already ferocious performers who captured that energy in brilliant fashion on 2012’s Kurt Ballou-produced Love is Love/Return to Dust, Code Orange raises the bar on this follow-up, bringing more of a metal sound into their music, the arrangements darker, moodier, and best of all, bigger. And typically, these tracks veer all over the place yet never lose focus, rampaging along for 32 exhilarating minutes, leaving you wondering what the hell just happened when the last track ends.

Dark Fortress, Venereal Dawn (Century Media): Guitarist V. Santura is a busy fella. He features prominently on Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata and Noneuclid’s Metatheosis, two of 2014’s better metal albums, and now his talents are featured on another Dark Fortress album. The German band has never set the metal landscape ablaze, but the music is always a good, workmanlike example of no-frills melodic black metal, and this album is no different. Huge, sometimes towering, not above a little progressive detour, and blasphemously silly, it’s also sneakily catchy, and the guitar melodies by Santura and Asvargr waste no time roping listeners in. The 11-minute title track, which audaciously kicks off the album, is an immediate standout.

Hammerfall, (r)Evolution (Nuclear Blast): Likeable as they are, the guys in HammerFall have been coasting along complacently for nearly a decade now, so it was very hard to get excited about the prospect of another new album. Instead of carrying along sounding anything but inspired, this ninth album is a spirited affair that fans will thoroughly enjoy. Nothing new is offered, it’s more of the simple, rousing power metal they helped perfect, and most importantly, loaded with anthemic hooks. A power metal album is a waste of time without glorious, bombastic hooks, and thankfully this record is overflowing in catchy sing-along melodies. From “Hector’s Hymn” to “Origins”, this is good fun that fits nicely alongside past albums like Crimson Thunder and Renegade.

The Haunted, Exit Wounds (Century Media): Considering how awful the 2011 album Unseen was, I didn’t just have low expectations for the new Haunted album, I simply didn’t care. Yet Decibel’s benevolent reviews overlord Andrew Bonazelli insisted I give this thing a shot, and whaddya know, this album by the revamped band is a good return to form. With Marco Aro back in the fold as vocalist after a decade away, the band has simplified its approach, reverting to the thrashy melodic death metal they excelled at early in their career. That’s all The Haunted ever needed to do, and with this record, their best since Revolver in 2004, they sound reborn. Good for them.

Krieg, Transient (Candlelight): The best black metal not only delivers savage, primal music rife in gloom and malevolence, but matches the music with atmosphere that equally captures that bleak feeling. Of course it’s no surprise that the latest from Neill Jameson’s long-running project captures that very idea. This seventh Krieg album is wonderfully eclectic, smartly spacing the faster tracks across the record, with slower, groovier, crust-ridden compositions, giving it a little time to breathe. Backed by Philly black metalers Esoterica, Jameson creates a palpable sense of anxiety and urban decay, ranging from the menacing grooves of “Order of the Solitary Road” and “To Speak With Ghosts”, to the experimental spoken word track “Home”, to the inspired cover of Amebix’s “Winter”. Stream and purchase the album via Bandcamp.

Pig Heart Transplant, For Mass Consumption (20 Buck Spin): I love you, 20 Buck Spin, but this unbelievably pretentious combination of atmospheric noise wank and powerviolence vocals is completely off-putting. Interested parties can try it out via Bandcamp. Be warned.

Set and Setting, A Vivid Memory (Prosthetic): This instrumental band from Florida sounds like something The Mylene Sheath would have put out five years ago, adventurous post-hardcore/post-metal/post-rock/etc. with no regard for genre restriction and plenty of sumptuous melodies. It might carry on a little longer than it has to, but this is a promising blend of Pelican-derived dynamics and the odd touch of black metal for a little variety. The arrangements show excellent discipline, the songs show some genuine soul, and what should usually be an album that bores me to tears gradually turns into something I’m transfixed by.

Sólstafir, Ótta (Season of Mist): Three years after the revelatory Svartir Sandar, the Icelandic band returns with a follow-up that a lot more people are anticipating this time around, and true to form it continues their sublime fusion of metal, post-rock, shoegaze, and space rock. They’ve always had a real knack for melodies that envelop and entrance, and every track on this hour-long effort does just that. Musically, though, the influences are much broader than ever before, as touches of rustic folk and hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll creep into the songwriting. Practically every track is an epic in itself, but listeners’ patience is always rewarded, multifaceted tracks like “Lágnætti”, “Ótta”, “Nón” possessing the confident grace you’d expect of a genre’s masters. For those who don’t understand Icelandic, which of course makes up the vast majority of Sólstafir’s audience, the lyrics, sung achingly by Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, only makes this already magnificent music all the more alien and enigmatic, adding mystery, coaxing you to try to decode through emotion rather than language.

Wolf, Devil Seed (Century Media): I don’t know why Swedish band Wolf continues to put up with such apathetic treatment from Century Media. All they’ve been doing for the past 15 years is put out some of the most consistently good NWOBHM revivalist metal we’ve seen, so the least a label can do is throw the guys a bone and give them some CDs and vinyl to sell for gas money. But nope, this is an “iTunes only” release (and don’t bother trying to find it on Spotify, it’s been “withheld”), which is a real shame, because it’s one of the better albums Wolf has put out in recent years. “Shark Attack” is uproarious fun (preceded by the brilliantly titled intro “Overture in C Shark”), as is “Skeleton Woman”, while “Dark Passenger” and “My Demon” add some welcome gravitas. This is a great band that deserves more support than their label is giving them, so be sure to download Devil Seed via iTunes.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

Can, Out of Reach (Mute): Recorded during a time when the krautrock innovators were in a serious state of flux – it’s the only album not to feature founding bassist Holger Czukay – Out of Reach was subsequently disowned by the band, buried and ignored for decades. That long lost tenth studio album was finally properly remastered reissued on vinyl for last year’s massive career-spanning box set, but now Out of Reach is at long last available on its own on vinyl, CD, and MP3. Although it severely lacks focus and is in no way in the same league as classics like Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi, it’s not without its interesting moments. Former Traffic members, bassist Rosko Gee and percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah, shoulder the bulk of the load, and add vivid helpings of funk and African rhythms to such tracks as “Serpentine” and “Seven Days Awake”, which benefit from the greatly improved remaster. Even at its absolute nadir Can remains one of the most crazily original and restless experimental bands in rock ‘n’ roll history, and at the very least it’s great to finally be able to properly complete the remastered studio discography. Order it here.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy