Deader Than Ever

By: rod.smith Posted in: featured, videos On: Monday, June 25th, 2012

ssd

Mephedrone (bath salts), mushrooms, a new kind of acid—and in the case of Miami face-eater Rudy Eugene at one point—weed? So far, pretty much every official explanation for the wave of bizarre crimes slowly blanketing the planet has hinged on drugs with histories that make their purported roles unlikely. No wonder people are holding on to the zombie apocalypse hypothesis, CDC be damned. At least it provides a common thread.

But (apart from the Haitian variety) zombies are still mostly fictional (kinda), whereas She’s Still Dead are very real. And the reality lurking like a half-eaten penis in our collective McGMO breakfast trough is this: the current upsweep in global gore production commenced within days of a recent development in the NOLA-based horror-punk quintet’s unlife.

“I’d like to think that us going back into the studio would have something to do with the current wave of violence.” guitarist Kevin Dredge offers during a break in tracking guitar overdubs with White Zombie alum J. Yuenger for the Keeper of the Witch EP, slated for vinyl and digital release later this year. “All the shit that’s been going on, like with the guy cutting himself and throwing his intestines at the cops? That’s straight-up, true-life horror and I totally dig it. I know a lot of people shy away from that and think it’s the vilest thing ever. But I play in a horror band so I think it’s awesome. Remember the MMA fighter who ripped his training partner’s still-beating heart out of his chest? That was right around the time the band started.”

For dudes so eager to take responsibility for so many egregiously unnatural acts (even as they battle evil Feds in their effort to become the first U.S. metal band with a gig in Cuba under their belts), the band are surprisingly chill in real life. A trio of videos (soon to be a quartet) documenting the EP’s making depicts them and Yuenger having a swell time together without wasting a single second.

“We tracked drums, bass, and most of the guitars in one day at Piety Street,” Dredge says, “a big studio that’s like $1,000 a day. We’re recording everything else at J.’s place. I attribute the efficiency to the fact that we’ve been practicing a lot. We also just recently played a string of shows. We went into the studio with the mindset that we had this amount of time and we had to fucking bust ass. We weren’t interested in messing around. As a result, we went in and just fucking nailed it.”

What we hear of the title track reveals a band as hell-bent on going as far beyond the neo-trad horror rock (think: “Misfits in their prime”) of last year’s Immortal, Eternal as they are on getting everything right ASAP. Dredge, guitarist Taylor Suarez and Yuenger even ended up with time left over to experiment with feedback and tape manipulation.

“The idea came from Black Flag’s “Police Story,” Dredge says. “The song starts off with really slow taped feedback that speeds up until it’s really fast. We thought: Oh cool! Since we’re recording on tape, let’s try to recreate that. Violent, chaotic feedback is a big part of our sound. We had so much time left over that we were able to spend some time recording guitar feedback. We’re going to incorporate a lot of that on the record.”

Eager as he is to emphasize the band’s ever-extending reach into the grave they only started robbing a couple years ago, Dredge also makes no bones about Yuenger’s role in the recording process. All available evidence bears him out. In every video, the producer comes off way more like a facilitator than a boss.

“We’ve all been in other bands,” Dredge says, “and we’ve all worked with other producers. The thing about J. is, we’re all friends. He’s not just some guy who points mics at you and tells you what to do. He genuinely cares about what we’re doing. Earlier today, he said, ‘it’s a real pleasure recording you guys, ’cause I don’t have to do much. All I have to do is say, okay, I’m rollin’. Let’s go.’ That’s a great thing to hear from one of your childhood guitar heroes.”

Municipal Waste Tour Diary, Part Waste

By: Chris D. Posted in: diary, featured, tours On: Monday, June 25th, 2012

muniwaste_tour3

** Scribbled by Municipal Waste lead screamer Tony Foresta. Don’t forget to check the stream of the Toxic Waste split 12″ on the venerable Tankcrimes label, as posted by the equally venerable Adem. It’s HERE, we think. Or, the Part One of the tour diary, called Part Waste, ’cause we’re cute. Click HERE.

6/1 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk Place as part of Chaos in Tejas:
I usually don’t get nervous before I play shows. I usually don’t give a shit. For some reason I was nervous as hell all day. Maybe I was stressing because this fest had one of the best lineups on a show that I have ever played in years? Our show was killer; Drop Dead, Forward, Skizophrenia and our good friends Ghoul. I was biting the hell out of my nails all day knowing that we had to play after all these killer bands and in front of friends attending that I literally haven’t seen in years. It was intimidating for me to say the least.

Regardless of a bunch of technical difficulties the sets were great from all of the bands and everyone was having so much fun that it didn’t matter a bit. Ghoul thanked everyone for attending South by Southwest and Ross did one of the shittiest speaker dives I’ve ever seen. It was easily one of the best sets of the weekend. Forward got the award for drunkest band of the year and of course Drop Dead talked about animals and shit. I couldn’t stop smiling watching all these great bands.

During our set somebody actually jumped off the balcony onto the stage during a song. A real stage dive! After we played we did our best to load out as fast as possible so we could run over to one of the Waste’s favorite venue in the states—Red 7—to catch a few St Vitus songs. So many friends and so much fun that next thing I knew it was almost 6 a.m. and I had to jump on the bus to leave.

Being here and being around so many old pals got me thinking a bit. I’ve known Timmy (Chaos promoter) for so many years. My old band played his birthday party in Richmond back around ’97 (fuck, I’m getting old). I’m really proud of that fact that he is able to put together such a fun and diverse music festival yearly as well as put out records and set up great shows in Austin all year long. So many punks and metal heads spend their time all day bitching on the Internet and constantly complaining about everything going on in their scene and life but really do little to get out there and improve it. This guy has been doing working at it and doing it almost his whole life. His way. This world needs more Timmys.

6/2 – Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves:
I woke up confused and still pretty hammered from Austin and got an early visit to the venue from Doug from Clearview/Selfless records. Have you ever heard of that label? If not you should check it out. I’ve been buying this guy’s stuff since I started collecting records way back when. He’s put out so much good shit that it’s absurd. He told me he had a few gifts for me but I had no idea about the mushroom cloud of cool stuff that he was going to drop in my lap. About 25 rare, insane, and out of print records. We’re talking Drop Dead, Queers, Screeching Weasel and Initial State test presses as well as a bunch of killer new stuff! I was in record nerd heaven.

Still hung over from Chaos we plowed through our set then spent the rest of the evening hanging outside in the perfect weather killing a bottle of Jameson with the Black Tusk gentleman and their crew (Kim). It was a good way to spend our last night in Texas.


6/3 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory:
Tonight’s venue was the Conservatory in Oklahoma City. There isn’t much to do around there so we went walking around to find a shitty Chipotle rip-off style taco joint. It was the worst tacos I think I ever had. They were cold and weird as shit. On top of that every table in this empty restaurant was dirty with lettuce and stuff all over them. Not a clean place anywhere to sit. It was clear the relatively teenage staff did not give a crap what so ever. I thought for sure that I was going to get food poisoning from this place. Regardless, I still ate all four tacos because apparently I am a glutton for gluttony.

The show ended up being really fun and lucky for me my stomach survived the Waste pre-set taco challenge. I also picked up some sweet records from my buddy Jim and managed to get some sweet people-watching in all day.

In other news Ryan is not drinking for a couple days. Liver rest. In his honor, I decided to drink twice as much this evening to keep the universe balanced. A couple of us ended up going to a bar after the gig called the Hi Lo. Unfortunately, immediately after my first shot there, I started getting the spins. I guess I went a little too big before I left the venue. I hung strong for about 45 minutes but then had to get Dave and Cartel (our tour manager) to drag my sorry butt back to the bus. My bad guys! I didn’t expect that one to happen.

6/4 – Albequrque NM (Day Off):
Not a whole lot really happened today. Witte and Lindsey went and saw that new Snow White movie. Ryan, Cartel, and I drank beers and watched the NBA playoffs and Phil spent his entire evening alone naked in the desert on a wild peyote journey much like the “spirit world” scene in Young Guns returning to the hotel in the morning a “changed man”.*

*one of these things above did not happen.

6/5 – Tempe, AZ @ 910 Live:
It was hot as all shit outside. So hot in fact that the outdoor venue that we we’re loading into had water misters shooting into the air on us throughout the load. I don’t know if it was the heat and being outside all day but this show seemed to go on forever. By the time Black Tusk got on the stage the crowd started waking up eventually turning the longest/hottest day ever into a pretty fun show.

During Tusk’s set a fairly young girl passed out partially on the stage from what became apparent later from way too many drugs. I guess nobody really noticed her chilling there at the time and while Athon was playing he didn’t see her either and accidentally stomped right on her head while playing. Whoops! Security quickly took notice after that and dragged this poor barely conscious girl (to our surprise) into our dressing room.

Imagine our surprise when all of us our standing around getting ready to play when this suddenly bursts through the door. Judging by her attempts to communicate and the fun that she still seemed to be having it seemed pretty clear that she was on drugs. Security runs off to call the paramedics leaving us in charge of her (!!!!) while she flailed around the couch. I mean I’ve seen a lot of people fucked up. I set up a music festival in Richmond for crying out loud and on a scale of 1 to 10 of being messed up this girl was at least a 9. I was honestly worried about her.

Next thing we know, this other girl starts pounding on the door, “I’m her friend Let me in! Let me in!” We do so and she says something along the lines of, “Oh, she’s going to be alright. She’s just fucked up. Do you guys want to party with us after the show?” (What?!?!?!)

We promptly kicked her out of our room while her friend got treated by the paramedics. Wow, that was something. Did I mention that it was hot? OK, cool. After the gig I packed up my shit and hopped in the car with a friend and headed over to the airport for a really early flight to Richmond to begin tending to my Best Man wedding duties for the next four days. I’m so excited!

Richmond VA (4 day tour intermission):


6/6 to 6/10 – Tour Intermission:
Like I said I had urgent BFF wedding duties to tend to back in Richmond so I flew home for four days. This was all planned well and worked out great for all of us. I got to attend one of the coolest weddings I’ve ever been to as well as sleep in my bed for a few days while the rest of the Waste got to fart around L.A. and do cool stuff like hang out on a beach, site see, attend shows like Midnight, Toxic Holocuast,, Suicidal Tendencies, and Torche (not all on the same show) as well as go to an airing of Jimmy Kimmel live. They also went to a comedy club where one of the guys from that show Workaholics got into a fist fight with an audience member. Nuts. Ask Ryan Dave and Phil about that one it’s a pretty good story. Fun times for all!

6/11 – Anaheim CA @ Chain Reaction:
This was my great return from almost five days away from my bandmates. Reunited! Woo hoo! I woke up at 5 a.m. to catch my cross-country flights from Richmond to L.A. I was pretty exhausted by the time I got to the venue, but I was still excited to hear about all of the adventures everyone had while I was gone. Not to mention that it was Ryan Waste’s birthday too! Not only that, it was 3 Inches of Blood’s first night with us.

My big arrival was squashed seconds after showing up. Right when I walked up towards our bus all I can hear are weird moans in the distance. I drop my bag and jog toward the back of the bus only to find Phil laying upside down on the ramp on his back clenching his teeth and grunting in a lot of pain. Apparently, he twisted or sprained his ankle really bad trying to unload his gear.

So instead of saying hello to everyone I just swing the door open in the venue and yell, “HELP! SOMEONE GET SOME FUCKING ICE!!!” Phil looked like he was in some major pain at the time.

After a few minutes of us icing his ankle up and in a chair Ryan comes in and delivers the heartbreaking news that our pal Jeff from Voetsek passed away in motorcycle accident the night before. Fuck. We weren’t closest friends of Jeff’s by any means, but he was definitely one of us and the times we spent together on tour were amazing. He was such a fun and stand-up guy. I can’t imagine the heartbreak our friends are going through in Oakland right now. It’s pretty heavy to think about and we we’re all pretty upset.

Shortly after that goes down 3 Inches arrived and we all introduced ourselves. It must have been a pretty weird scene for them to roll up on us like that having never really meeting us before. They seem like really cool dudes and I’m looking forward to getting to know them over the next few weeks.

The show ended up going off. Like really going off. Southern California never disappoints and the sold out crowd of really young kids were really going for it tonight. I love this part of the country!

Black Tusk and 3 Inches of Blood were fucking great tonight. I’m pretty stoked to have the full package together finally. This tour is going to be sweet. Our set was one of my favorites, Ryan was birthday drunk and being hilarious and Phil toughed it out and played his butt off even though barely being able to walk. We also got introduced to LP guy that night (watch the video you’ll get it). It was so much fun and there was so much positive energy happening, but the whole while I couldn’t get the passing of Jeff and the health of our friend Nikki out of my brain. I really hope his girl pulls through and I hope my friends in Oakland are doing alright.


6/12 – Los Angeles @ The Key Club:
We arrived at the venue to learn that the moron promoter booked seven local bands onto the gig. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with local bands. That’s how I usually discover tons of good music. Not only that but making friends with those bands and returning the favor when they come to town is something that this band has been built on from the start. When we go on a tour like this, we not only request one or two local bands every gig for these reasons, but we demand it…but what kind of asshole adds seven freaking bands to three band touring package?! That’s right ladies and gentleman; ten bands on a Tuesday night. Brilliant!

There are promoters like this all over the country. They ‘work’ their gigs by making local bands sell tickets, promote and basically do all the work for them while they take the cash, make a Facebook event page and reap the financial rewards. If your band doesn’t sell $x worth of tickets then your band doesn’t get to play the show. Lame.

This guy left the band and our booking agent completely in the dark about all these locals and what was going on. We didn’t have a clue of what was happening until we got to the venue the day of the show.

The bratty punk rock side of me wanted to tell everyone in the building to fuck off, leave and head up to Oakland for an extra day of drinking at Eli’s and being with close friends. But you can’t let folks down. It’s not their fault because of how one creep works. It’s not the other bands’ fault either; they just want to play with some bands they like or because they felt it would be a decent show to play and it could help them. It’s just one lazy ass behind a laptop scheming small bands to do his work, cover his costs and to put some coin in his pocket.

I was so pissed about what was going on that I kind of separated myself from the show for a while. Eventually, I chilled out and came back to check out an amazing set from a band called Witchhaven. One of the best newer thrash bands I’ve ever seen. Lots of fun with some great riffs. I’m definitely going to hunt down a recording of them when I get home from tour.

Black Tusk and 3 Inches sets were great too. I got to watch them from a killer wide screen TV set up in the dressing room. It was tight. I really like this venue. I just wish they got their shit straight promoter-wise. It’s such a shame.

Regardless of all of that, our set was so much fun. There we’re time when there was up to 10 people flipping out on stage at once. Hundreds of drunk smiling faces beating the crap out of each other. Lots of ladies kicking ass too. There we’re times where I had to stop singing because I was cracking up so hard at the sheer insanity of it all. I freaking love this town. I think L.A. might have the craziest Waste fans in the world. It’s great and they were really going for it tonight.

Afterwards we ended up doing our traditional after show hang out at the Rainbow Room and caught up with our pals in the Poor Kids Radio crew, Day by Day and a couple of old Richmond friends at the bar. It was a really, really good ending to a pretty stressful and long day. Oh, and I met Ron Jeremy.

** Visit and LIKE Municipal Waste on Spacebook.

** Municipal Waste’s split with Toxic Holocaust, the so-called Toxic Waste 12″, is out now on Tankcrimes. Order HERE or face the municipal holocaust, so to speak. Municipal Waste’s Fatal Feast is out on Nuclear Blast. It’s available HERE, and unless you wanna end up like a C.H.U.D., you’ll click the link.
Sick

The Lazarus Pit: Roachpowder’s Viejo Diablo

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, lazarus pit, listen On: Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Screaming skulls

Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for.  This week’s joint proves the superiority of crossbred strains, although you probably shouldn’t smoke anything called Roachpowder.  Anyway, this is their debut, Viejo Diablo (The Music Cartel).

In the mid-to-late 90s, there was a small but enthusiastic movement in Sweden of American stoner rock revivalists.  Spiritual Beggars, We, and Roachpowder faithfully re-created the sounds of Kyuss, Monster Magnet, and Down.  Much like the British blues acts of the 60s, hearing this style re-created by people with no connection to the geographical or historical context of the originals is a little weird, but at least weed and boredom is a universal constant.

Half Swedish, half South American, with a sound rooted in the desert by way of New Orleans, Roachpowder formed from the residue of Skintrade, an alternative metal act whose previous album had been called, you guessed it, Roach Powder.  When they realized that alternative metal basically sucked, three quarters of the band split off, grabbed guitarist George Bravo’s brother on vocals (probably because he did amazing Phil Anselmo and Dave Wyndorf impressions), and mutated into a sludgy stoner metal group.  Probably not the best path to fame and fortune in 1997, but hot damn, these guys got it right.

It’s not that they’re particularly innovative.  Hell, it’s not like this is a subgenre that embraces innovation.  Instead, they just slam home the sludge.  “Get out of My Way” could be an outtake from Nola (I’ve certainly mistaken it for one in the past), starting off a lysergic surge and a hearty “GOD DAMN.”  ”Galactic Blues” launches with the sound of a 1969 Barracuda launching into space before following a somewhat wobbling path through the lava lamp quadrant.  “Black Stone” takes a ride down the spine of God, “Cosmic Emperor” takes a crowbar to the dopethrone, and “New Orleans” pays homage to a town none of them have probably ever visited.  “Demon Bitch” is pretty self-explanatory, and then they close with an incorrect reference to a drink from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

After this, they swapped out their bassist for a dude from Entombed (who were pursuing a similar direction at that point anyway) and put out one more release, 2001′s Atomic Church.  And that seems to be it for them – Skintrade recently reunited, so looks like they’re giving that another go.  If Down couldn’t even make it big, these guys sure weren’t going to, but they might have had a little more luck if they had come from the south (or New Jersey, or Southern California, or really anywhere but Sweden).  As it is, they’re still wandering the cosmos, with a document of their journey left behind on earth for those adventurous enough to uncover it.

Buy it here!

Interview – Herodias

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Herodias DB image

Funeral doom can be a most divisive subgenre.  Whole groups of well-versed metalheads will split on the merits of a type of music that eschews speed, the associated aggression, and most anything that can be considered technical musical achievement.  Of course, this very division might be part of what defines it – a hallmark of the sounds that belong in our beloved extreme scene.

But funeral doom as the result of a union?  This year, New York married couple Kristina and Michael Rocco formed the slothful Herodias out of the remnants of their other (perhaps less extreme) musical ventures.  With Michael on light-eating guitars, drums, and various keyed instruments, and Kristina on piano and soaring soprano vocals, the duo mixes abyss and beauty in perfect proportions.  Imagine stirring together Virgin Black’s requiem intentions with Funeral’s female vocals over the spacious creations of Half Makeshift, and you’re approaching the Herodias sound.

With one new record, Dance of the Seven Veils, available at various mainstream media outlets as well as through the band’s website (http://www.cultofherodias.com/), and another album in the oven and scheduled for release in September, Herodias are looking to make the world just a little bit doomier.  Here are some of the Roccos’ insights regarding their process, motivations, and influences: 

According to the Encyclopaedia Metallum, Herodias just formed this year. How did the project come about, and how do you have such fully formed songs so quickly?

Kristina Rocco: Michael and I were wrapping up a regional tour as an acoustic duet and we became discouraged by the lack of energy (and interest) in the local scene. One moment, we’d play in front of five hundred kids in an auditorium. Then we’d pour our hearts out to six diners who didn’t even know we were in the room. It seemed as though musicians had to compete as cover band background music for a few bucks. We were a needle in a haystack of needles.

 Michael Rocco: Exactly- although we’re proud of the music we had written and performed, we were simply unhappy with the path we had chosen. From this experience, we decided that if we were to continue this music business racket after so many years of blood, sweat, tears, sacrificing small animals, etc., we’d at least do what we enjoy. We had taken piano arrangements from a previous project that never got off the ground and were surprised at how well those pieces fit with Herodias. We wrote and rehearsed for a couple of months and recorded the album in about a week. The one benefit of me being gainfully unemployed is the time I have to obsess over this project.

 Are there any specific bands/albums that influenced your approach to Dance of the Seven Veils?

MR: We listen to a lot of metal and have been inspired by musicians like Testament, Overkill, Mournful Congregation, Funeral Mourning, Nortt, Sunn 0))), Moss, and so on. Classical music has also played a big role in DOTSV- anything from Roslavets to Valentin Silvestrov.

 There are moments of chilling, amusical noise on the album. How do those sounds occur to you (in the writing or recording process), and how do you choose to include them?

KR: (laughing) You’ll have to ask my lunatic husband- that’s him being himself.

 MR: I think of my in-laws and images immediately begin to… honestly, with Herodias, contrast is very important to me. I wanted the music to be a sincere balance of light and dark. Kristina’s vocals are beautiful and moving, so I just had to turn everything inside out. We’re also huge horror movie fans, which helped. Sometimes, there’s a musical bridge that just needs a little more.

 Who writes the vocal lyrics? And, since I can’t understand what’s said, what are they about?

KR: That would be me. I am a foreign language teacher by day, so that is why the lyrics are written in Spanish and Latin. The lyrics can be very abstract, but the content reflects emotions that we’re feeling- confusion, depression, loss of love, isolation and contempt. Most songs are directly related to the occult story of Herodias and the ways in which she manipulated the people around her. Though the lyrics paint a dark picture of her and her daughter, Salome, I must admit that there is a part of her that I deeply respect. In those times, people were outcast over every human emotion they expressed. She fought for her love despite the pressure of her environment. Most of all, she makes today’s feminists look like posers.

 MR: I just howl.

 Do I understand correctly that you have another record due out this fall? Over time, do you expect Herodias to continue in the funeral doom vein, or do you hope to explore other avenues as well?

MR: Our second album ‘Antevorta’ will be released on 9/1/12. We’ve been making music together for many years and are grateful for every experience- even the time one guy at a bar screamed ‘PLAY SOME BILLY JOEL, YOU BITCH!’

 KR: (laughing) Yes, but we’re happy to have settled into this genre and already have plans for a third album. This is truly a labor of love.

 Are there other forms of art (movies, literature, etc.) that are impacting your music?

MR: Unfortunately, we’ve been watching too many UFO/conspiracy videos on Youtube lately. I think the world around us is shaping our music more than any other medium.

 KR: Yeah, life is a big motivator. Most married couples stress over bills, fight about leaving the stove on (we’re well versed at this). But, we understand that what we’re doing musically is unusual and we’re fine with that.

 What non-dark music are you into right now?

KR: We have eclectic tastes in music and listen to everything from Roger Waters and Tom Waits, to Concrete Blonde and Peter Gabriel.

 MR: After we finished mixing DOTSV, we lit a candle and relaxed to Johnny Mathis.

Exclusive Stream: Titan’s Eve Get All Apocalyptic on Your Lives

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, listen, tours On: Thursday, June 21st, 2012

small_Titans_Eve_-_Press_Photo_-_High_Res_-_Credit_-_Shimon_Karmel

Vancouver’s Titan’s Eve impressed this hack a couple years back with the streamlined and melodic mixture of thrash and traditional metal of their The Divine Equal self-released debut. I hadn’t heard much from or about the band since the album was made publicly available, probably because I wasn’t paying attention, as usual, but word has come down the promotional pipeline that the quartet is on the eve of album number two, Life Apocalypse, which is set for release on July 13th.

The band has got in touch with us, with their new single, “Destined to Die,” in the starting blocksm offering it up for your ear holes. Here’s what the band themselves have to say about the tune: ”Destined to Die” is the track we feel really introduces our album’s theme of a personal apocalypse on a broad scale. It’s about a person’s everyday struggle with life challenges and how in the end we die no matter how hard we fight to live. Death is the storm we can’t see, but our wanting to triumph over challenges despite the inevitable end is what makes us real.’ says vocalist / guitarist Brian Gamblin.
Check it out:

Also check out snippets of all the album’s songs from a video the band posted on YouTube:

Additionally, Titan’s Eve has announced they will be on tour with Anvil – the very reason I found myself walking around the Maryland Death Fest last month, apologising to various Americans on behalf of my home nation – this summer and are offering a free T-shirt with every pre-order of the album via their bandcamp, at this location.

Here are the tour dates:
Titans Eve w/ ANVIL:
July 30, 2012 – The Exchange – Regina, SK w/ ANVIL + guests
July 31, 2012 – The Odeon – Saskatoon, SK w/ ANVIL, Untimely Demise, Lavagoat, Agony Spawn, Caym
August 1, 2012 – The Scott Block – Red Deer, AB w/ ANVIL, Day One
August 2, 2012 – The Pawn Shop – Edmonton, AB w/ ANVIL + guests
August 3, 2012 – The Distillery – Calgary, AB w/ ANVIL + guests
August 4, 2012 – The Sapphire Lounge – Kelowna, BC w/ ANVIL
August 5, 2012 – The Rickshaw Theatre – Vancouver, BC w/ ANVIL, Skullhammer, Dead Asylum

Photo credit: Shimon Karmel

INTERVIEW: The Day After The Sabbath (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, uncategorized On: Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Cover

Scott Seward’s “Filthy 50″ list from our September 2007 issue remains one of my favorite reads in these pages, or any magazine for that matter. While the initial excitement of digging up some of those lost treasures may have passed, I still listen to some of them (Groundhogs, Captain Beyond and High Tide to name a few) on a somewhat regular basis.

Fortunately, not only has my fascination with these “albums that had one supreme goal: to blow your little mind” been rekindled, but I’ve found a seemingly endless supply to discover. And it all happened by accident. In doing some “research” for last month’s post on John Peel’s record collection, I stumbled across The Day After the Sabbath after Google was kind enough to point out that the site had given a shout out to Aardvark. And given that the site specializes in “proto-metal and heavy prog/psych obscurities of the 60s and 70s,” the nod makes perfect sense. But its proprietor, a good bloke by the name of Rich, doesn’t just put together lists. He actually tracks down the tunes and pieces together hand-picked compilations, many themed, for everyone’s listening enjoyment (he’s up to Volume 70 at the moment).

I’m only at the beginning of making my way through each of them (yes, I have completist issues), but Volume 1, which includes Bloodrock’s “Melvin Laid An Egg”, is as good of a place to start as any if you’re at all into this stuff. Fortunately, Rich—fresh off a weekend trip to Hellfest in France where he saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and Uriah Heep for the first time—was kind enough to answer some questions via email for us. In fact, his answers were so detailed that we’ve decided to present the interview in two parts, the second of which will include a mini-playlist of songs hand-picked by the man himself.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, where you live, the first record you remember getting, your favorite band and anything else you think we should know).
I live in North London, UK, which is where I come from originally. I also lived in New Zealand for a few years, which was a really special time. It’s an amazing, beautiful country and I made friends with a lot of bands and started a website to help promote their small but enthusiastic stoner rock scene. I can see myself ending up on that side of the world again one day!

I am not a musician, and other than being an avid music fan and completist, I wasn’t actively involved in music until my time in NZ. While there, I saw an obvious need for the kind of bands I like to be promoted and celebrated more, so I contacted bands and went to as many local gigs as I could, and produced a compilation of contemporary NZ stoner rock and associated styles, which I funded and put out on CD in 2008 by myself. It was a labour of love and a great way to be involved with a scene in a way that the bands appreciated, and was useful to them.

It’s impossible to choose an all-time “favourite” band, but a definitive one that rounds up almost all of what I dig would be Soundgarden, as they have a great mix of styles from classic rock, punk and doom, to metal. My knowledge and interests have expanded massively since then of course, but they were definitely a “gateway” when I was getting into heavier stuff in my teens.

The first record I ever expressed an interest in was Ray Parker Jr.’s title track to Ghostbusters! I liked it so much when the movie came out that my mum took me to a store to buy the 45 single when I was about seven years old. I still remember the instrumental b-side scaring the shit of me haha!

2. How did the idea come about for your blog and compilations? Did you ever think you’d be up to 70 of them? Will you ever hit the bottom of the well in terms of material?
If I could pinpoint some kind of inspiration, it could be Metallica’s cover of “Breadfan”, originally recorded by Welsh rockers Budgie. I loved the track and I was fascinated by the idea that there could be excellent, heavy bands from the ’60s and ’70s that were just as metal as the classic ones we all remember, but were completely unknown, or maybe only well known and influential up to a certain point in their time. They have since fallen by the wayside and do not get mentioned much anymore. Budgie is probably one of the “obscure” bands that are likely to be known to many of your readers, but after delving into them, a whole world of forgotten proto-metal and proto-doom bands opened up to me and it went on from there.

That was about 12 years ago, and I have been searching and compiling tracks for personal consumption ever since. I’d been avidly preaching the finds to friends, making them CDs, tapes, etc., for a quite a while, so I guess my blog or something similar was inevitable. Oddly enough, the trigger was back in 2009 when I was laid up at home for a week after a dog bite of all things from some crazy dog that went for me in a local park while I was jogging, and got me on the back of my right leg. It wasn’t bad, but I was off work for a week while I was keeping weight off it, and suffering a bit of cabin fever at home so I thought of something to distract myself.

When I started the blog, I only knew enough bands of sufficient quality to fill about four CD compilations, and at the time that’s all I thought there was. I was wrong. I got such a good response from the first few and a lot of correspondence from people more knowledgeable than myself, so it’s grown exponentially from there. Now I am aware of so many more sources and I’m finding more all the time so I think there is a lot of life left in what I am doing, and slowly but surely more material is being dug up by rock archaeologists so I never know else what will come up, it’s exciting…

Stay tuned for Part 2, including Rich’s picks, next week. In the meantime, be sure to check out The Day After The Sabbath and, while you’re at it, enjoy my personal favorite from all of the volumes I’ve digested so far…

STREAMING: Kadavar’s “Creature Of The Demon”

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: listen, uncategorized On: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Dn8fDGnt58aBjy89f_m

Getting compared to Black Sabbath’s legendary debut is a mixed blessing. Of course, it’s going to stoke interest in your band but is there anyone that can measure up to the album that’s quite literally responsible for everything on this blog and magazine?

Berlin, Germany’s Kadavar have elicited those comparisons, at least from the folks hired to get people like me to listen to records. They certainly look like they raided Bill Ward’s suitcase back in 1970 and posed in the same forest where Sab did all of their press shots up until Sabotage. And their sound definitely has a Birmingham/Bobby Liebling vibe.

Since doom legends Sleep and Pentagram picked the band to open for them in Europe we think they might be on to something. The band’s self-titled album will be released July 17 by Tee Pee Records and is available for order here. Give the new song “Creature Of The Demon” a spin below and let us know what you think.

Northern Lights

By: nick.green Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

nhaze

Of course, the Internet has been a boon to intrepid record collectors, in the way it has opened up new distribution channels and ensured that everything you want is two clicks and a few keystrokes away. But the rise of the Internet has also placed a new premium on the act of discovery: If everything is available to everyone at all times, than the value of discovering something seemingly lost to the ages is sky-high. Uniqueness is the new currency. Just ask Sean Pelletier, whose one-man crusade to rehabilitate Pentagram started with an afternoon blowing dust off vinyl records in a treasure-hunting expedition. Or the fine folks at Drag City, who’ve had a great run reissuing metal-tinged oddities from the ‘70s and ‘80s like DWARR and Detroit’s Death.

In 2012, everything old is new again and, yet, there’s always some new/old chestnut waiting for a revival. Here’s one no one saw coming: a re-release – on Jason Flowers’ excellent Canadian label Supreme Echo – of Northern Haze’s 1985 LP Sinnaktuq, the first Indigenous rock album ever recorded in America. Originally released by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in a limited edition of 500 copies and distributed to libraries, Supreme Echo has recently rereleased Sinnaktuq with expanded liner notes, one additional song recorded by the original lineup in 2002 and three more tracks recorded in 2010 by Northern Haze’s reconfigured four-man lineup.

The record is pretty fascinating: Black Sabbath/ Vanilla Fudge/ Blue Cheer-style molten rock with a pronounced Jimi Hendrix influence, all sung and recorded in the group’s native language, Inuktitut. As the documentary below revealed, Northern Haze rarely ventured outside of the tiny Arctic Circle community Igloolik to play gigs – the recording sessions (coordinated by the CBC) that spawned Sinnaktuq and a handful of British Columbia festival performances were the lone exception. In 2011, the quartet (which includes three original members) reconvened after the reissue and documentary with the intention of recording a new album. If it’s anything like “Qaina,” which fuses the 4,000-year-old Inuit tradition of “ayi ayi” songs with ‘70s stoner idioms, it’s gonna be sweet.


Living the Dream: Northern Haze

Øystein Brun (Borknagar) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

borknagar_decibel_progressivemetal_2012

OK, ICS Vortex had a cameo on “My Domain”. He’s now returned as a full-time co-vocalist. What’s the story there? I gather a lot of old-time Borknagar fans now feel it’s time for Garm to step back into the fold. Universes colliding and all that.
Øystein Brun: Well, wish I could reveal an enigmatic story here, but everything evolved in a really mundane manner to be quite frank. Since the spit about 12 years ago, Vortex has been a good friend of the band. Back then we split because of practical reasons—not musical reasons, personal conflicts or whatever. So you might say that Vortex has been lurking in the shadows of the band all this time. During the recording of our acoustic album, “Origin”, we came across and discussed my plans to return back to the core sound of Borknagar after the release of the acoustic effort. Vortex reminded me about an old tune that we prepared for the The Archaic Course recording session, but due to different reasons, never recorded. Vortex always loved that song, so we started to talk vaguely about recording that one for the Universal session with him doing the vocals. From there, things just evolved. I made an updated pre-production of the song, and he came to studio to record the vocals. At least from my point of view, there was some magic in the air and I think the result turned out really great. Later, Borknagar got an offer to do a supposedly attractive tour in South America. Vintersorg was not able to join for that tour, and Vortex offered us to do that tour as a kind of retro-thingy, doing mostly songs from his era. The SA offer turned out to be more or less a ‘scam’, so we had to pull out. But from that point on, Vortex was involved in the band more than just being a side-kick, so bits and pieces of the universe collided along the line. Well, actually Garm joined us onstage during our Inferno Festival show. I think it was a great and emotional moment for all of us. It was such a blast to have all the three vocalists onstage at the same time.

You recently replaced drummer David Kinkade with drummer Baard Kolstad on a recommendation from Vortex. How did that play out?
Øystein Brun: Well, we saw that the cooperation with David Kinkade was about to come to an end. And we started to discuss how to deal with it, and Vortex told us about this extremely talented youngster that he came across earlier the year. As far as I know, Vortex did some engineering for Baard and his previous band. He was amazed by the talents of these dudes, so we kept an eye on Baard for a few months before we started to talk with him.

The two of them recorded a cover for “Don’t Tread on Me”. One of the bonus tracks for Urd is a cover of “My Friend of Misery”. Was Kolstad’s involvement hinged on a Metallica ‘black album’ cover? I’m kidding, but there has to be some connection.
Øystein Brun: Well, the story behind these Metallica covers goes as follows; Metal Hammer Germany in cooperation with the Metallica management wanted to release a tribute album with cover songs to celebrate the 20 years since the ‘black album’ was released. Borknagar and ICS Vortex were asked to do one song each. They wanted Borknagar to do “My Friend of Misery” and ICS Vortex to do “Don’t Tread on Me”. At that point in time, we were actually recording drums for Urd and had already hired the studio for a couple of weeks. So we just tracked one additional song on drums and then Vortex hired Baard to do the drums for his version over a weekend or so in-between. Reportedly Baard just came to studio, sat down and recorded the song in one take. Remember Vortex and I talked on the phone, and he just told me that this is the perfect Borknagar drummer. And so it became. Baard’s involvement in the band didn’t really stand or fall on this session, but it definitely gave the whole process a spark and made the decision easier.

How was writing Urd different from Universal? Urd feels a lot more natural in comparison.
Øystein Brun: Fundamentally I don’t see a very big difference in writing Universal compared to Urd. The framework for the songs of Universal and Urd pretty much derives from the same writing mode—or should I say, creative era. But we took a much more firm grip of the production ourselves this time around. For instance, I upgraded my home studio just before starting the production with the intention to do more of the ‘dirty’ work myself—like editing, cross fades and so on. Also the majority of the recordings. This made the whole process way more dynamic and relaxed I would argue. We didn’t need to rush anything; we had both the time needed and technical resources to work the material into perfection—in a relaxed environment—at least from our perspective. This also empowered our creative outlets throughout the process by sending samples back and forth, trying out new ideas and so forth. Looking back, I think we managed to find a perfect symbiosis of writing and producing. But the most crucial point is the fact that we got Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios to do the mix. Jens really understood our musical visions in a way that nobody have done before him and he definitely managed to turn a piece of coal into a diamond.

Century Media premiered Urd with the song “Roots” (on the Deciblog, natch). Was that the first song you wanted people to hear or was that more a label decision? I think it’s the most ‘Borknagar’ from a collective sense.
Øystein Brun: Actually we made the decision together with Century Media. Due to the diverse nature of our music, I always find it a bit difficult to make decisions like this. But we came to the conclusion that “Roots” was the song that pretty much had everything and therefore would be the best song to present the album—as a teaser. I think it worked pretty well and the response on the song was really overwhelming.

I’ve always been impressed with your writing volume and quality. I don’t recall many bands releasing new albums every year, especially in the ‘90s. Of course, you’ve had breaks in-between since then. What do you attribute to your songwriting inspiration?
Øystein Brun: Thanks for the compliment, sir! My short answer is: I don’t know. My cheesy answer is: the genuine passion for making music. The black metal answer: trips to the forests and hiking the mountains. Well, they are all true in some sense, but in all honesty, I am not really able to pinpoint any specific source of inspiration. I have been doing this for quite some years now, and making music has become a highly integrated and important part of my life. I find life in general as the source of inspiration, and to me, life is some sort of travel where the crucial “mission” is to broaden my horizon towards all facets of life—it’s all about taking a step further. Likewise with our music. I think this pretty much goes for the rest of the crew as well.

I hear you’re a big Alan Parson’s Project fan. Most metal fans might be familiar with “Eye in the Sky” or “Sirius”, but what are your favorite Parson’s tunes?
Øystein Brun: Well yeah, I have my Alan Parson’s Project-period pretty much every single month… [Laughs] One of my absolute favorite tunes of all time is actually “Some Other Time” from the I, Robot album—I have already booked that one for my burial. Other favorite songs are: “The Raven” from the debut album Tales of Mystery and Imagination, “In the Lap of the Gods” from the album Pyramid, “Silence and I “ from the album Eye in the Sky—just to mention a few. From my point of view, APP is one of the most underrated bands around. They have done so much great music over the years. But I must admit that their first 4-5 albums are the best, some of the ‘newer’ stuff doesn’t knock me out as much as the debut for example.

If there’s a lyrical center to Urd what would it be?
Øystein Brun: The lyrical core of the band is about portraying nature and advocating a poetic perspective on reality– without going new-age by any means. Each album has a different angle and approach. On Universal, we had a very outward perspective on things—dealing with the universal laws of nature, cosmic coherence(s) and so forth. With Urd, we wanted to turn the face back down to earth and burst into the soil, head first, so to speak. Lately, I have read a lot of the work of recently late Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess. Back in the ’50s, he was one of the driving forces behind the ‘deep ecology movement’. He professed a very important message—or should I say, challenge towards the superior Christian worldview back then, where mankind is the ruler of the earth. He contributed to change the general consensus and get people to realize that mankind is a part of nature in the same manner as every single creature. Every creature, every species are mutually connected and mutually depending on each other—and Arne Naess advocated that we should respect and take care of nature with this in mind. We are all deriving from the very first living cell and therefore spread out in different evolutionary branches. There is something grandiose and poetic about this—and this is something we wanted to portray.

I like that you’re exploring the fact that if we go back far enough, we’ll find out we’re all connected. It’s both mythological and future-sci. How’d you come to this conclusion?
Øystein Brun: I guess it would be a bit too ‘cocky’ of me to argue that this is my conclusion. First and foremost, this is basic evolutionary biology. My take on all this is that I urge to portray this in a poetic way. The magnitude of reality is from my perspective way more grandiose than all religions together—and that is what we want to portray without going totally ‘National Geographic’ on the theme… [Laughs] That aside, in philosophy—and in religions for that sake—we are very often looking to the sky when pondering about existential questions—where do we come from, heavenly father and so forth. I agree that it is jaw dropping to lay on the grass counting stars, but I find it equally overwhelming to turn the head around and follow our earthly and evolutionary roots to the very origin—so to speak.

Urd is one of three Norns. She represents the past. How is Urd, as a collection of songs, connected to Borknagar’s past?
Øystein Brun: Well, there is a lot of layers to the title Urd. From my point of view, an album title should be able to hold a lot of different meanings as well as being some sort of thematic glue. First and foremost, we wanted this time around to have an Old Norwegian title in order to anchor the album to our musical and lyrical origin– but also geographically. In northern mythology, Urd represents the past, while Verdande represents the present and Skuld represents the future. Together they weave the lifeline of every child born. Obviously we find the link to the past appealing, as we are a bunch of nostalgia trippers. But also when pondering about this, I find these Norns to be a very interesting analogy towards the DNA-molecule. Often, when you break down mythologies to modern discourse, you often find a lot of great wisdom therein. So the whole concept of Urd pretty much covers the very essence of the band—nature, life/death, man vs. nature and so forth.

Can we expect follow-up concept albums based on Verdande and Skuld?
Øystein Brun: Maybe, maybe not. Have to admit that I have got this question a lot of times. But still, we haven’t really made any thoughts about it yet, to be quite frank. Thematically, Urd stands on its own feet, so we are not tied-up to follow this path. And on the other hand, we don’t like to be too predictable, mostly for our own dear autonomy. We want the ‘concept’ of the next album to evolve together with the music—to sum up things, an album title is always one of the last things we nail before delivering the master.

Jens Bogren has a reputation for being a taskmaster and a perfectionist. What did he bring to Borknagar on Urd?
Øystein Brun: Man, I can’t praise Jen Bogren’s work enough. For us, doing fairly complex music, it has always been such a battle to get a suitable production that gives enough space for the dynamics in spite of the fact that there is a massive flow of instruments—basically all the time. Jens Bogren quite simply deciphered our code, like nobody before him. It sounds massive and powerful, at the same time he managed to get the dynamics to work perfectly. The sound picture is so big and airy that you almost can play soccer therein, but at the same time, the sounds are distinct and powerful. I really don’t know how he did it, as he did most of the work before we entered the studio. But I have a theory that he has an almost inhuman mental capacity to keep tracking all details. Every single note or even audio wave on the album was tweaked with a purpose and meaning—nothing was done by coincidence or a laid-back attitude. So the only thing we could do was to lean back and enjoy. Jens Bogren for president!

During the recording, mixing and mastering phases were you careful to not over-perfect Borknagar? What I’m saying is this: Too much perfection can, in fact, make a record sound sterile or lifeless.
Øystein Brun: Yep, you nailed it! Over the years I have become increasingly focused on finding the delicate balance between perfection and plain cheesiness in terms of production. As mentioned, we did a lot of the recordings and editing ourselves this time around, and we could easily have overdone things—getting the material to sound extremely sharp, snappy and tight. That is no problem if you have a few hours of experience with Cubase or Pro Tools. But once that balloon bursts, you kill some of the feeling in the music, and it is mentally very difficult to take a step back. So we always keep this in mind when working—90% precision and then leave the remaining 10% for the X-factor, the capture of the moment or whatever. The best lenses in the world are grinded/polished by a human hand because of the human irregularity in the movement.

Borknagar’s never been a dedicated touring outfit. Why is that?
Øystein Brun: In all honesty, the core activity of Borknagar is and has always been about creating music. It may sound harsh, but everything else is secondary. We are not the typical band that releases an album to make our way onto a tour or whatever. But one should not forget that we did quite extensive touring in the late ’90s. We did a US tour with Emperor in ‘99, we did two European tours with In Flames and Cradle of Filth respectively, we did an Eastern Europe tour and several small tours in Norway over a period of relatively few years. And don’t forget all the festivals we have done throughout the years. But sure, we are not a dedicated touring band today per say. But that might change, who knows.

I’m sure from a business point of view you understand touring and merchandise sales are the lifelines to bands these days. Is Borknagar a business or something else entirely?
Øystein Brun: Yeah, tell me about it… [Laughs] I think relatively few bands, at least within the metal scene, start out as a business enterprise. In the beginning, it was all about idealism and pure passion for the music we were creating. In the beginning of the ’90s, I was literally breathing, eating and drinking music. Money and business was not really of any crucial interest—as long as we could go to a studio and record albums. When we signed our first deal, we were basically just happy that we could go to a studio and the record company paid the studio bills—we got our PD’s and free travels. This said and several tours done, we pretty much came to a crossroad in early 2000. I was expecting my first kid and this naturally forces you to think about things in a bigger picture. And what really started to bother me and the rest of the guys at that time was the fact that we up until then didn’t earn a single dime, not a single one. Economically, we had been pissing our pants so many times. Economically, things didn’t make sense anymore as we had empirical reasons to believe that there is money floating around in the undercurrents of the band—we sold fairly well, several albums released and so forth. I remember we got an offer to do a quite big tour with a big band after the release of Empiricism. So we set the bars a bit higher and demanded that somebody (the agent or the label) should guarantee us that we did not return after the tour to yet another economic hangover. We were not demanding shitloads of money, but just enough to pay our actual bills at home. Nobody wanted to provide us with some sort of economic security, and I was pretty much like: “OK then, fuck that”. I think this made us reconcile with and empower our initial philosophy that music comes first, everything else is secondary—and this is something we basically have adapted to ever since and have established our daily profession and income elsewhere. But actually, I think this is one of the reasons why we are still going strong as a musical collective. Our existence as a band is not depending on sales, and we don’t need to make a chart breaker or tour the world in order to get ends to meet and meals on the table the next year. Of course, we try to cope with the business side of things the best we can as we are definitely not anti-commercial. But doing music for a living is granted to the very few, and we don’t strive for it anymore. Nowadays, I would love to do some more touring, but we have to adapt to reality: we are not 19-years old anymore and we have responsibilities that make touring for months at a time a logistical nightmare. But again, things might change.

** Borknagar’s new album, Urd, is out now on Century Media Records. Order it HERE and get a free Viking drinking helmet. Actually, no, you won’t. You’ll just get killer music with a deep message. Or massage, depending on how you use the CD.

STREAMING: Old Man Gloom Premiere Brand New Track!

By: adem Posted in: featured, heavy tuesdays, listen On: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

CEK_1276.psd

Sure, other “music-related” sites bring you premieres of new tracks every other day. Even NPR has been known to throw a metal album on the interweb for your consumption. But you know where to go for the really good shit, right? That’s right, some to the killingest, trooest labels in all of metaldom entrust us to tantalize the metal world with these pre-release sneak peeks, so when their album drops the people who matter will know they gotta go out and git some of this shit.

And in that spirit we humbly subject treat you to the latest aural dust-up from Old Man Gloom. Some of these other show-off sites that premiere tracks from a really good group that everyone loves have nothing on us, because we are streaming a track from a Supergroup (yeah, I totally capitalized that, motherfucker) that includes dudes from six other really good groups. Which is kind of weird, because there are only four people in the group. We suppose they must all be such good musicians that they’re each in several of the best bands in the world.

For instance, have you heard of Converge, ISIS, Cave In, Zozobra, Doomriders and Mamiffer? Don’t be ridiculous, of course you have. Well, some of those guys are in OMG. You know what we say to that? O.M.G. Yeah, we’re that stoked for our own premiere.

We’ve actually the heard the song, so it’s more of a premiere for you than it is for us. Not bragging or anything, but suffice it to say that the smug, self-satisfied feeling we have comes from knowing that we’ve been listening to a really cool song called “To Carry the Flame” from the album NO for a good couple weeks, and you still probably haven’t even bothered to skip down and click play yet. You should probably do that now. You can come back up and read the rest of the wisdom we’re about to drop while you’re getting a spinal readjustment from the sonic pressure OMG exerts on your fucking head, neck and shoulders. Hurts so good.

Actually we don’t really have any more wisdom to drop and if we’re being completely honest, none of the above qualifies as much more than idiotic rambling. So, enjoy the fourth track on the fifth album from Old Man Gloom. You can purchase this album when it is released next Tuesday, June 26, by Hydra Head Records. Or you can pre-order seven different ways here.