Lo! (and Behold) It’s an Interview and Video Premiere!

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, interviews, videos On: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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Australian sludge metal miscreants, Lo! have decided to celebrate the arrival of new vocalist, Sam Dillon by dunking him repeatedly into a vat of what looks like congealed Pepto Bismol in their brand new video, “Orca.” While some may see the video below as evidence of some cruel hazing ritual (whatever happened to the good ol’ days when Metallica got the Misfits to beat the crap out of Jason Newsted and trash his hotel room?), the other members of the Sydney quartet didn’t exactly get off that much easier, as they decked themselves out in radiation suits which, when they’re working like they’re supposed to be working, are heavy, air-tight, unbreathable and not designed to be rocking out in. “Orca” is a track taken from the band’s latest release, The Tongueless, a double 7″ set to see the light of day via Pelagic Records. Beneath the visually stunning video, please indulge yourselves in an entertaining interview with guitarist Carl Whitbread.

All right! First and obvious question, what the hell is going on in this new video? What is that pink stuff, a vat full of Pepto Bismol? What were the behind-the-scenes job hazards you faced in shooting this clip? Are you planning on making any of the elements from the video a part of future live shows?
Pretty crazy, huh? This was the brainchild of director Matt Devine. He works mainly on commercials, but is a fan of Lo! and was keen to sink his teeth into a clip for us. His idea was that we would be playing and generating sounds from our instruments focused onto a pool of goo. The sounds would then evoke the goo to take on a physical form and sing us a song. Kind of like the ectoplasm in Ghostbusters II that makes the toaster dance. Not really sure what the goo was made out of – we got a special FX company to whip it up. I think it contained some kind of milk powder or curd which smelt pretty funky as we were pouring it into the box. For all we know, it could have been Pepto Bismol. Either way, we were assured it was safe to submerge a person in. The shoot was quite physically challenging especially for [Adrian] Griffin [drums]. We all had to wear those radiation suits which are so thick that you start sweating instantly and, after one take, you can barely breath. Lucky, [Adrian] Shapiro [bass] and myself only had a handful of takes each, but Griffin was practically in every shot, so he had to drum hard pretty much the whole day – we felt bad for him (not really). Once he finished shooting, he took off his boots and literally poured out a litre of sweat. His hands were also shrivelled up like an old lady. On the contrast though, [vocalist] Sam [Dillon] had to sit in the box of goo for about four hours and was completely freezing. He also had to hold his breath under the goo multiple times and hang above it suspended by what looked like a giant pink nappy. He was very professional though and got through the shoot like a champ.

I’ve been told your bass player had a big ol’ hand in this production, using his film industry experience to nudge things along? Does he work on feature films, documentaries, television, or what? And how does doing a video differ from filming anything else?
Yeah, Shapiro works as a film producer – mainly focusing on TV commercials and has previously worked with Matt Devine on various commercial work too. When Matt originally approached us about the idea for the clip, we were expecting it to all be shot in someone’s backyard on a Sunday afternoon. Instead, Shapiro called in favours and struck deals from connections he has made, so we ended up with full camera and lighting crews, a massive soundstage complete with harnesses and a stunt coordinator. I guess the main difference between doing music videos and commercials or larger film projects, and especially doing a video ourselves, is we have all the creative control. Also, the budget is always smaller so the whole process becomes more DIY. For example, we had to build the box for the goo ourselves and Adrian did all the costumes, so it’s always a lot more hands on which is fun.

Tell us about your recent opening slot for Trivium and In Flames. How did you score that, seeing as you’re not at all on the same aesthetic plane as those bands and there are tonnes of other Aussie bands that are? How did it compare to a regular night out with Lo!? And how different are you predicting the mood/scene to be when you open for Eyehategod at the end of the month?
To be honest, it was all a last minute thing. Soundwave touring brought them out here and contacted us three days before the show asking if we could open. Not sure how or why they chose us, but it’s nice to know we’re on their radar and we were very grateful to be offered such huge supporting slot. The show was all-ages too, so there was a hefty younger audience – what I like to describe as ‘people who aren’t jaded about music yet.’ Most of the crowd seemed to be nodding their heads as we played, although there were a couple of stunned faces looking back at us, but we had a full room for the whole set and heaps of people came and chatted to us after we played and bought merch, so I think we went down pretty well considering the contrast in style. For Eyehategod, I’m predicting a lot of older, long-haired guys nodding their heads slowly with their eyes closed with an aroma of weed lingering in the air. It will be awesome.

What’s the story behind the departure of your original vocalist and the recruiting of Sam into the band? Have you dealt with much line-up trauma in the past and how have you found the adjustment with and to Sam to be?
Jamie really wanted to focus his attention on studying and I think he realised it would be too hard to do both, so he made the tough decision last year to leave the band. Sam was already the front man for a Sydney band called Snakes Get Bad Press (they unfortunately just broke up recently) who were friends of ours and had done a handful shows with us previously. We had always liked his vocal style and his stage presence and when the time came to think about a new vocalist, we knew he would be a great fit. Sam was very eager to join Lo! and fit in with us straight away. Not only does he share the same tastes and sense of humour as the rest of us, he is extremely passionate about what he does, which really helps push the band along. His vocal style is quite different to Jamie’s, but I feel like it’s a bit of a fresh start for us and has maybe pushed our sound in a slightly different direction.

Rumour has it one of you guys lives in Hong Kong? Has this always been the case? We’ve repeatedly heard stories about how logistically inhospitable touring or even playing a handful of shows in Australia can be. How much more difficult does having a member in another country make things?
Yes, this would be our drummer, Griffin. Him and his partner moved over there a while ago for work reasons. It was a very tough decision for him to leave, but the opportunity they had was too good to turn away. Of course, we didn’t want to lose him as a drummer, not only for his drumming abilities, but he is a major contributor to the song writing process. We decided to try and make it work with him living over there. To be honest, it hasn’t been that hard. As far as song writing goes, we’ve always kind of done it remotely anyway, even when he was living here. I’d usually write demos at home them email them to him and we’d go back and forth that way, so nothing has really changed in that aspect. As for gigging, it hasn’t really been a huge problem either. Griffin will usually fly back for most of the shows we do. We don’t exactly do tonnes of them a year anyway. The metal/hardcore scene here is quite small compared to other countries, and we only have four or five major cities which are all at least ten hours drive apart. In America or Europe, you can jump in a van and tour for a few weeks all around the country, here it’s much shorter and becomes quite expensive, so it happens less often. We always try and make it worth his while though; either we try and book other shows around his stay or spend time writing or working on new songs. For those rare occasions he can’t come back, we have a young friend named Max to fill in, who drums in various Sydney bands. He’s a great drummer and really enjoys doing the occasion Lo! gig. I’m not going to lie, we all wish Griffin would move back here though – haha.

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What information can you impart upon us about the writing of The Tongueless? Was the intention to do an EP and not a full-length? Did you have any particular goals you were looking to achieve with this recording?
The idea for the EP came about not long after Sam joined. As I mentioned before, he does have quite a different vocal style and we really wanted to start moving in a fresh direction and showcase him to the world as quick as possible. We figured writing and releasing another full-length would take too much time, so settled on a four-track EP as kind of a ‘taster’ of things to come. Most of the writing process was pretty similar to previous material in that I would write demos/ideas at home, then email them to Griffin in Hong Kong and go back and forth that way. We did try something different this time though – Griffin would send me a whole bunch of drum beats first, basically an hour of him just jamming on the kit. I would then just play random riffs over the beats and pick and choose things that sounded good and cut them up – kind of the reverse of how songs are normally written. It was a really great technique especially because it allowed for totally off the cuff song writing. We kept the recording process as natural as we could – the drums were all tracked live without a click with all of us in the same room. We tried to rely on as little processing as possible and really paid attention to nailing the sounds we wanted at the beginning. Vocal-wise, Sam prefers to use a handheld mic when recording so we used that approach this time which really added to the natural vibe. For the first time, we decided to use Brad Boatright from Audioseige to do mastering duties as he’s worked on some of our favourite albums (Old Man Gloom, Nails, Baptists, just to name a few). He really added that extra dimension and rounded off our sound perfectly.

Does the title of the new EP refer to environmentalism/animal conservation? Titles like “Orca,” “Litmus Beings” and “Megafauna” had me thinking so… How does the cover art connect to the title and lyrics? Or does it?
Sam is very passionate about environmental and animal issues, so there is definitely a strong theme of that running through the EP. “Orca,” for example was inspired by the Blackfish documentary highlighting the history of killer whales in captivity. Musically, we also tried to keep it as cohesive as possible and wrote the songs purposely knowing we were going to be releasing on a double 7” and needed to keep each track under five minutes a side for the best sound quality. “Litmus Being” and “Megafauna” was actually written as one long song, then split into two parts. We didn’t want to make this super obvious, but you can hear the same melodies and motifs on both tracks, which also translates down to the lyrics as well. To be honest, the artwork came before the lyrical content, or even the music. I had always toyed with the idea of doing a double 7” and this EP was the perfect opportunity to do it. I even had some rough designs ready to go straight away which I knew would suit the format perfectly. Double 7”’s are not very common and are generally hard to make, mainly because of cost, but we really wanted to do something a bit different and Pelagic Records really nurtured the idea. They did such an amazing job of organising the packaging, and we are really proud of how it’s turned out both musically and aesthetically.

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Has the topical focus changed much or at all with Sam joining the band?
To be honest, we’ve never been too worried about specific topical focus. My theory is that the vocalist should sing about whatever they’re passionate about, so we’re happy to roll with any direction Sam wants to take. Being a vocalist is much more personal than any other instrument, so it’s important that he’s comfortable about his lyrical content. We’re all pretty like-minded anyway, so I’d never imagine us not agreeing with the subject matter.

What plans do you have on the go once the EP is out and about and making the rounds?
Once the EP is released, we’ll be doing a small run of shows along the east coast of Australia late February/early March to promote it. Other than that, we’ll see what other shows crop up during the year, and will always push to try and get overseas again. Hopefully, the “Orca” clip will help gain us more exposure. We’ll also be starting work on writing our next album.

Lo!’s homepage
Caught your fancy? Order The Tongueless from Pelagic

Get Free Pallbearer Vinyl by Subscribing to Decibel

By: andrew Posted in: featured, flexi disc On: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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They’re too young for Hall of Fame consideration, but that’s probably the only honor Decibel hasn’t already bestowed upon Pallbearer. Both of their full-lengths have appeared in the top five of our year-end Top 40 list (Foundations of Burden being our favorite extreme album of 2014); they’ve graced the cover; they scored two slots in our Top 100 Doom Metal Albums of All Time issue; and they’re about to embark on the 2015 Decibel Tour. Seems like a good time for the Little Rock doom heroes to make their Flexi Series debut.

“Fear and Fury” is the first taste of new Pallbearer music since the acclaimedFoundations of Burden. Uncustomarily, it’s one of their shortest songs yet, clocking in at just under six minutes. The band recorded it specifically for the Flexi Series in late 2014, and it arrives on silver-on-blue plastic. Subscribe by 9 a.m. EST on Monday, February 2 to ensure receipt of this flexi, which will appear in the forthcoming Decibel Tour issue. Now you’ll have something new to scream requests for at your local dB Tour stop.

Sons of Drayton Sawyer: Kaliya Serve Up “Human Meat”

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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We’re about a month out from the release of a seriously brutal self-titled full-length debut courtesy underground berserkers Kaliya, but Decibel has an exclusive preview of the Dallas quintet’s tasty grind-infused take on the classic Swedish death metal sound in the form of…”Human Meat.”

For more information hook up with Kaliya via Facebook, Bandcamp, and YouTube. Check out another track from the album here.

Exhaustive post title explanation after the jump.

Streaming: Monolith’s “Caravan”

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

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Gore House Productions is known for their embrace of some of the most depraved death metal on the planet. The bulk of their catalog would be considered NSFW. But gore-hound-in-chief Carlos Matt is launching a sister label called Funeral Noise Records that aims to embrace different and, dare we say, more accessible metal.

Decibel got a sneak peek of this new direction with a track from Monolith’s upcoming album Against The Wall of Forever, streaming below. Think early NWOBHM/early Maiden and Witchfinder General and you’ll get what the band is going for.

The album will be in stores February 10 and bundles are available here.

VALLEY OF THE DAMNED: Wells Valley’s “Matter As Regent”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

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We don’t hear much about Portuguese metal, but pissed off dudes make pissed off music no matter the geographic location. Wells Valley may not have the most threatening name, but their Gojira-style post-metal sure feels intense. These six tracks will crush you in their powerful grip, leaving nothing but devastation behind. Check them out below.

***Matter As Regent comes out February 7 on Bleak Recordings. Keep an eye on the band’s Facebook and the label’s website for order info.

BURIED ALIVE IN BLACK METAL: Vivus Humare’s “Einkehr”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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My friend and I spent a while trying to figure out what “Vivus Humare” means in Latin, and the best we could come up with was that it was a clumsy translation of “buried alive.” Whatever, though – bad Latin is one of the universal constants amongst metal bands, no matter where they’re from. This particular quartet hails from Germany, and their black metal resides in the coldest environs of the Rhineland. You can hear the whole dark story for yourself below with their exclusive stream of their debut album, Einkehr.

***Einkehr comes out today courtesy of Eisenwald. You can download it here, or grab the CD or cassette tape here. Follow the band on Facebook.

Limited number of TIAMAT “Wildhoney” 20th anniversary vinyl available now!

By: andrew Posted in: breaking newz, featured On: Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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Right now you’re either praising the demigods that 2015’s first Snowpocalypse has confined you to your nice, warm couch, or cursing them for not dumping enough white stuff to keep you out of work. Either way, we’re sure nobody on your social media destination of choice has shut up about it, so Decibel has your kind of distraction: a blink-and-you’ll-miss it offer for a very special rarity: the limited edition 20th anniversary vinyl of Tiamat’s Wildhoney.

Atmospheric, operatic and audaciously original, this Swedish death metal institution’s fourth album became a musical and visual touchstone for countless followers. We inducted Wildhoney into the Decibel Hall of Fame in the February 2015 issue, and are proud to announce a limited run of its 20th anniversary vinyl edition. You’ll get:

deluxe LP with heavy stock gatefold sleeve

180-gram full color vinyl label

12-page LP-size booklet with lyrics and artwork

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double-sized inlay with a reprint of Chris Dick’s exclusive HOF interview with the band

Step up while there’s time and purchase one of 20 copies of the white vinyl version (limited to 200 overall) or 20 copies of the black vinyl version (limited to 800 overall).

 

VIDEO PREMIERE: Hate “Leviathan”

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, videos On: Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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It’s only been two years since its last slab of blackened death metal, but Hate is back with album number nine in the form of Crusade:Zero. While the LP–which was recorded at Bialystok, Poland’s Hertz Studios (Vader, Decapitated, Behemoth)–doesn’t drop for another couple of weeks (February 10th in the US via Napalm Records to be exact), we’ve got the premiere of the Polish trio’s lyric video for “Leviathan”. You might have a hard time not chanting “Abyss born Leviathan” after checking out the album’s fourth track below.

Once you’ve forgotten yourself and left all behind, be sure to pick up a copy of the record here.

Streaming: Imperial Triumphant’s “Dead Heaven”

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, January 26th, 2015

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The East Coast is about to get hit with a snowstorm of apocalyptic proportions in the next 24 hours or so. Could there be better timing to debut “Dead Heaven,” the first track off Abyssal Gods, the second album from the urban black metal band Imperial Triumphant?

Here’s what we’re hearing: “Abyssal Gods focuses on the darkness of human existence and the weight of life in New York City. Although we are proud to be born in such a renowned place, Abyssal Gods addresses New York City as a cancer of the world and the absolute fist of the universe.”

Alright then. Darkness looms in other venues than the check out stand at your local corner grocery, where the race for the last quart of milk is on. Abyssal Gods was recorded at Solitude Studios and Amy Mills Studios, mixed and mastered by Colin Marston, and will be released by code 666/Aural Music. Follow the band to keep on top of details.

If we’re able to discern who is in the promo picture we’ll let you know. The candles did not compensate for a “none so black” flash setting.

Steve Jansson (Crypt Sermon) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, January 26th, 2015

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** Philadelphia isn’t the hottest bed of heavy metal activity. Not since Cinderella and Britny Fox has the City of Brotherly Love engaged in traditional metalisms with any seriousness. And, let’s face it, apart from certain songs on Night Songs, there isn’t much heavy metal in either Cinderella or Britny Fox. So, it’s with denim jackets, pyramid spikes, and poodle-cut hair that Philadelphia is home to new act Crypt Sermon. The group’s debut album, Out of the Garden, revisits the genre’s glory years where twin guitar riffs/leads, soaring vocals, and bandanas around the leg were part of everyday cool.

Where’d the name Crypt Sermon come from? Cool name in a genre where cool names are rare.
Steve Jansson: We were all basically just mashing very “metal” sounding words together in hopes to find a name. It was James who eventually came up with Crypt Sermon and we all thought it sounded cool as well as fit perfectly for what we do. I wish that there was a more interesting answer to this. [Laughs]

How did you get the attention of Dark Descent? From our experience Matt’s really into dark, evil death metal not epic doom metal.
Steve Jansson: Brooks and I also play in a death metal band called Trenchrot which is signed to Unspeakable Axe, one of Dark Descent’s sub-labels. The day we put the Crypt Sermon demo online, we sent it to Eric at Unspeakable Axe just to show him the new project we were working on. He told us that we should send it to Matt at Dark Descent immediately, so we took his advice. Sure enough, Matt got back to us the same day and offered to do an official release for the demo. This eventually lead to him offering to do a full-length for us.

What do you think is contributing to the wider acceptance of traditional or epic doom? For the longest while it was mostly of stoner or drone variety.
Steve Jansson: I think that people are finally just getting sick of the myriad of Sleep and Electric Wizard clones that have been at the forefront over the last few years. I certainly know that I am and Crypt Sermon was basically started as a reaction to all of that.

To that end, I hear a lot of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus in Crypt Sermon. Are they the template or are there others you find informative and inspirational?
Steve Jansson: They are definitely the template as well as a shitload of classic heavy metal. That being said, we are still a very new band so there is tons of room for growth and development and as we move forward I think that we will naturally begin to pull in from other sources and get out of the box a bit.

Where’d you find Brooks? Most legit singers in heavy metal don’t grow on trees.
Steve Jansson: Brooks and I have been friends as well as played music together for years now. He had expressed interest on a few occasions in trying his hand at rock/heavy metal vocals. Of course, he had yelled in various bands in the past as well as done some acoustic stuff but never anything like what he is doing now. He was already playing in bass in the band and after barely considering anyone else to sing we asked if he wanted to give it a shot and he went for it. It’s been fun listening to how quickly he is developing.

Crypt Sermon isn’t your only band, correct? How do you manage Crypt Sermon versus your other musical and personal priorities? Enrique is in the same boat, if I’m not mistaken.
Steve Jansson: We all have various projects but most of them aren’t playing live or doing any kind of touring with the exception of Will’s band, Hivelords. Day jobs can be a challenge more than anything, but Crypt Sermon is a priority for all of us and we always find the time to make things happen.

The album title, Out of the Garden, and the album cover feel very Rainbow. Was that the idea here?
Steve Jansson: We took the easy way out used one of the songs as the album title. Out of the Garden just came off as so classic sounding and the fact that you mention Rainbow is great because that’s definitely along the lines of what we were going for.

Conceptually speaking, what are you talking about lyrically? Sounds like old history specifically around Levantine and the Roman Empire.
Steve Jansson: Brooks is the one who writes all of the lyrics in the band. He takes Christian and historical themes and offers alternate starting points or inversions of the common, faith-based epistemology.

Do you see Crypt Sermon as an active, touring band or more something suitable to studio releases?
Steve Jansson: Well, unless Iron Maiden is looking to bring us out we certainly aren’t quitting our day jobs. We aren’t a band who are going to be able to go on lengthy tours but we definitely would like to do some smaller runs and festivals if the offers come.

What are your plans for 2015? Getting Enrique to answer a few interviews might be the first step. Then, maybe a few shows in Philly. Just a few suggestions.
Steve Jansson: Enrique’s job is strictly to hit drums as well as to make sure that the jabot shirts we all wear casually in this band are ironed and looking regal as fuck. As far as shows, we will definitely be playing Philly more this year.

** Crypt Sermon’s new album, Out of the Garden, it out now on Dark Descent Records. It’s available HERE in CD and LP formats.