We are well aware that it’s Friday but press pause on the celebratory Van Halen for like 10 minutes or something (some unfortunates have to work the weekend, y’know) because we’ve got some crucial FYI for fans of the noir melancholia of doom, death rock. Atriarch and Alaric have a split out in April 17th through 20 Buck Spin and below are a couple of tracks to help get you in the mood for what should be essential listening.
Both bands are are presently tied-up working on successors to their superlative debuts. Atriarch’s Forever the End (ranked 23rd in Decibel’s Best Albums Of 2011) was a real doozy, a heady abstraction on doom, with downtempo and downcast elements of black metal. If you haven’t heard it you should definitely check it out at Seventh Rule‘s BandCamp page HERE. Alaric’s self-titled LP had was similarly genre non-specific, and was a pretty cool, portentous offering of death rock, gothic punk and new wave.
This will be an interesting release given both bands’ different styles but it kinda makes sense mood-wise for them both to be sharing wax. 20 Buck Spin supremo Dave Adelson said it was inevitable that both bands would share a split.
Here is his take on it: “The two bands have been very close and touring together for several years already and share a common aesthetic that manifests differently in each band. Russ and Nick have even shared a split release in the past with prior bands, for those who remember, so in a sense this is coming full circle.
“Each band is twisting elements of dark post-punk and death rock into something haunting and memorable, in such a way that isn’t happening anywhere else in underground music. I have known both bands for a long time, some of those guys since we were just kids, so I’m excited to get this split released and I look forward to working with these guys more in the future and our continuing friendships.”
The bands themselves were less forthcoming, with a joint statement released through Alaric reading, “We have connected on a level and influenced each other in a way too inherent to explain; this [split] is merely an expression of our bond.”
**Alaric and Atriarch will be touring in support of the split in April:
10th – Seattle, WA – Highline w/Bell Witch
11th – Portland, OR – Branx (record release show)
12th – Eugene, OR – Wondering Goat
13th – San Francisco, CA Submission w/ Negative Standards & Swamp Witch
14th – Oakland, CA First Church Of The Buzzard w/ Crimson Scarlet
15th – San Jose, CA Blank Club**
By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, tours, videos On: Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Who ever would have thought that the instrumental music scene, as it pertains to Decibel’s readership, would be as saturated and crowded as it has become since Pelican ended up on the cover of issue #33 way back in 2007? It’s gotten so much so that bands whose savant-like members who are ineffectual basket cases when not allowed to opportunity to express themselves musically through their instrument of choice are having to tap into other creative avenues in order to get the public to stand up and take notice.
For instance, check out this video for the track “Pleng” by instrumental mathematics professors, Valerian Swing. It’s a deceptively simple visual complement to the sort of stuff Don Caballero don’t write anymore, but notice they’re playing in a room you might otherwise see in a Perceptual Psychology textbook, that drummer David romances his kit like the math ‘n’ roll version of Brutal Truth’s Rich Hoak and just what the hell is going on behind the Correggion, Italy-based trio as they bound around? The offical credits (listed below) list off cast members in the role of ‘The Fish,’ ‘The Naked Guys’ amongst others, so keep a watchful eye out as you never know what you might be missing.
VALERIAN SWING – “Pleng”
From the album A Sailor Lost Around the Earth available now from Magic Bullet Records.
Director: Rane Fritte
Editing & Post Production: Stefano Villani
Color correction: Rane Fritte
Camera operator: Marco Brandoli
Additional Post Production: Davide Guldoni
Production design: Silvio Lolli
Assistant production design: Riccardo Tavernari
Set decoration: Gianni Monternini
The “Fish”: Giacomo Ferrari
The “Sailor”: Giacomo Sacchi
The “Deep-sea diver”: Max Rossi & David Ferretti
The naked guys: Rifkin Kazan
Special thanks to Reproject & Pongofilms.
The trio have been weirding up North American shores for a couple days already, embarking upon their first US tour centered around a showing at this year’s South by Southwest music marathon, when Austin, TX gets overcrowded to the gills and does its best imitation of your average Chinese urban area. Here are the remaining dates and info on how to score their music if you can’t make it out and buy it in person.
March 8 – Frederick MD – Cafe 611
March 9 – Baltimore MD – NOVO Festival – Windup Space
March 10 – Fredericksburg VA – Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades
March 11 – Richmond VA – Strangematter
March 13 – New Orleans LA – Neutral Grounds
March 14 – Austin, TX – SXSW Festival
March 15 – Austin, TX – SXSW Festival
March16 – Austin, TX – SXSW Festival
March 17 – Austin, TX – SXSW Festival
March 18 – Tulsa OK – Crystal Pistol
March 20 – Nashville TN – The Muse
March 21 – Louisville KY – Chestnut House
March 22 – Columbus OH – Kobo
March 23 – Tyrone, PA @ We live in New York and LA Art Space
*ALL SHOWS w/ TIME COLUMNS
Download A Sailor Lost Around the Earth from iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-sailor-lost-around-the-earth/id423215498
Order from Magic Bullet: www.magicbulletrecords.com/mailorder.html
By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, the decibel magazine tour On: Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Portland’s a sweet city. It’s got a well-titted public transportation system, a record store for every sub-sub genre (except for Mozambique deathfolk, which is unfortunate.), a zoo, and Powell’s City of Books. Of course, it has other things, too. Like guys with 18th century moustaches in little girl pants, but so too does every city where counter-culture is a counter to counter-culture.
Portland also houses newcomers Stoneburner, which also houses Buried at Sea guitarist Jason Depew. Of course, since we were gaga over Buried at Sea’s Ghost EP and all things associated with the heavy, we couldn’t resist requesting Stoneburner to open the Portland date of the Decibel Magazine Tour.
“As a group we are truly honored to share the stage with such an eclectic mix of some of the most subversive and brutal bands around today,” says Stoneburner axe-master Depew. “This one is going to be a night to remember. They’ll have to raze the building and salt the earth when this one is over…”
Stoneburner will exclusively play monolithic fuzz doom at the Hawthorne Theater:
April 22 – Portland, OR – BUY TICKETS
** For the complete Decibel Magazine Tour dates, please visit the Decibel Magazine Tour WEBSITE.
** Visit and like Stoneburner on Facebook.
By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, March 8th, 2012
In terms of being recognized as a major force in the world of extreme music, Finland can often be overshadowed by its Scandanavian neighbors Norway and Sweden. Although the Land of a Thousand Lakes has its fair share of metal stalwarts both past and present—Sentenced, Children of Bodom and Finntroll, to name a few—it’s fair to say that the good old USA hasn’t necessarily been exposed to the wide variety of tuneage that has bubbled up from its shores over the last few decades.
So the upcoming release of Barren Earth’s sophomore record—a group that includes current or former members of high-profile Finnish acts like Amorphis, Moonsorrow and Swallow the Sun—seemed like the perfect time to bring some of those gems to the surface. And who better to catch us up on what we’ve been missing out on over the years than BE bassist Olli-Pekka (“Oppu”) Laine (ex-Amorphis, Mannhai, Chaosbreed) and drummer Marko Tarvonen (Moonsorrow, Chaosbreed), whose selections we’ve neatly compiled into a Spotify playlist.
Stone—No Anaesthesia! (1989)
Stone’s self-titled debut was an important milestone for Finnish metal, and therefore for Finnish popular music in general. Stone didn’t break through overseas, but the band proved that it’s possible to write and play internationally relevant metal music in Finland too. Hanoi Rocks had had its 15 minutes as celebrated rock stars outside of Finland, but this was something different. With their long and greasy hair, ruptured jeans and zitted faces, Stone was something to identify with. They were all also extremely skilled musicians and had an incredible amount of talent in composing. The group’s second effort, No Anaesthesia!, was a highly anticipated release back in 1989. I remember cutting school the day it came out just to be among the first fortunate ones to touch its cover and to put the record on my turntable. Starting with an epic version of Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia”, which was followed by a crushing thrash metal riff and bestial growl, it directly hit the nervous system of an anxious teenager. When discussing the true pioneers of Finnish metal, Stone is definitely the very first band to mention. (Oppu Laine)
Amorphis—The Karelian Isthmus (1992)
This is a true gem of Finnish death metal. In fact, I think it’s still the best death metal album from Finland. I used to listen to this almost every day when I was a teenager. I remember it was one of the first Finnish releases with better sound production. Back then, no studios or engineers had any expert knowledge of how to produce death metal. It was also among the very few death metal releases to include keyboards in those days. As a fanboy, I’m truly privileged to play with Oppu after 20 years after this album’s release. (Marko Tarvonen)
Waltari—Monk Punk (1991)
Talking about originality, Waltari is an absolute master of musical experimentation. In the spirit of the ‘90s, the band mixed any kind of metal and rap music, including on Monk Punk. But they were also excellent players and had loads of catchy tunes. And they still do. Waltari was also the first rock group since Hanoi Rocks to do serious tours outside of Finland. Torcha! was the group’s breakthrough album and was followed by another hit record, So Fine! Not necessarily the most extreme band in terms of brutality, but still worth of checking out, especially since some members of major metal acts like Kreator, Ensiferum and Children of Bodom have been, and still are, part of Waltari’s ongoing saga. (OL)
Impaled Nazarene—Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz (1993)
Together with Beherit, Impaled Nazarene was an originator of Finnish black metal. Or was it called sado metal back then? Nuclear metal? Nevertheless, these guys didn’t give a shit. Not even today! IN’s debut album must have been the sickest and most perverted album released back then. Just listen to the middle part of “Goat Perversion”. Their career has not been the easiest one, but they’re still around to wreak havoc. Respect. (MT)
Rotten Sound—Drain (1998)
The gods of grind! The drum work by Kaitsu [Kai Hahto] on this one is simply wicked and amazing. I remember my jaw dropped off when I first heard this album. I had heard stuff like Terrorizer and Napalm Death before, but Rotten Sound put grindcore on a totally new level with a crushing, Entombed-like guitar sound together with Kaitsu’s über-technical but groovy drumming. Classic stuff! (MT)
If those five selections weren’t enough, Oppu and Marko went above and beyond the call of duty to give us three more extreme albums from their home country that you should be sure to check out once you’ve cracked open another Karhu.
Xysma—First and Magical (1992)
After the speed metal era, it was time for another wave in the Finnish metal scene. Musical tastes rapidly changed to more extreme stuff and Xysma was the first representative of grind-ish death metal in Finland. In my opinion, they are responsible for the whole death ‘n roll genre, which was more successfully launched by Entombed a couple of years later. Xysma had already started to flirt with ‘70s rock on 1990’s Yeah…tambourines, clean vocals, hippie melodies and Black Sabbath influences. With First and Magical, they polished their style to its perfection and were a huge inspiration to every Finnish death metal band. Without Xysma, Finnish bands wouldn’t have experimented mixing different genres as bravely as they did. Xysma’s originality helped them to rise above the competition, and they did it with style! (OL)
Mana Mana—Totuus Palaa (1990)
Mana Mana operated in the late ‘80s, but because they weren’t “metal”, I didn’t pay any attention to them back in the day. But around 2003, I heard the song “Kuolla Elävänä” on the radio and got hooked immediately. Actually, if you compare that particular song to Paradise Lost’s “Gothic”, you’ll be surprised by their similarities. Mana Mana is probably the doomiest band all time in my book. The group’s lyrics, sung in Finnish, deal with death, insanity and sorrow, but not in a forced way like most doom metal acts write them. Mana Mana’s mastermind Jouni Mömmö sung plainly about his own experience. The guy was evidently haunted, and sadly took his own life by overdosing pills in 1991. (OL)
Beherit—Drawing Down The Moon (1993)
Beherit must have been the first black metal band from Finland. I remember I bought this album the day it was released, and when I got back home and put it on the stereo and was blown away by the evilness that was coming out of my speakers! Those brutal and wicked vocals together with that rude guitar sound made this the best black metal album. Ever. I love the primitive way Beherit wrote its songs. It makes them more ritualistic. Just listen to “The Gate Of Nanna”. I could repeat that mantra forever! (MT)
**Barren Earth’s new LP, The Devil’s Resolve, hits shelves on Tuesday. Be sure to pre-order a copy here!**
**Previous Decibrity playlists:
I haven’t kept up recently on where urban black metal sits in the kvlt spectrum, but these two tracks by Brooklynites Mutilation Rites sound like they were recorded in a sewer and mixed in a crematorium. This is Side B of Devoid, the 12″ EP from Forcefield Records, and shows the band throwing jagged chunks of thrash, rock and punk into the BM windstorm and headbanging to whatever comes out.
Eleven full-lengths spanning two decades in the silly and oft-lethal record business requires a bit of fortitude and self-reinvention. Well, Unleashed — long known for pre-dating Super Wario Amon Amarth with their tales of Viking plunder and intrepidity — has fortitude in spades. Blonde-haired and Viking-large Johnny Hedlund’s been at the death metal game longer than most of his been-departed-for-ages peers (that counts Entombed, for all intents and purposes), as have original Unleashed members Anders Schultz and Tomas Olsson. Unleashed is, as it seems, tough, even if they took a seven-year sabbatical (uh, what’s the Norse word replacement?) between Warrior and Hell’s Unleashed.
As for self-reinvention, well, that’s perhaps up for a debate on minutia. Since 1991, the Swedes haven’t strayed too far from their original catchier-than-the-1710-1713-plague formula, and it appears after a few stunted efforts to make Unleashed “rockier” they’re back on the longship, readying for yet another biennial assault in the form of new album, Odalheim. This time around, however, the Warriors of Midgard are teaming up with pagan/heathen battle dudes from afar — like the Mayans, for example — to wage a metaphorical war on Christianity and, as you’ll read below, the “White Christ”.
“After years of struggle and toil against the armies of White Christ, the Midgard Warriors went across the open sea to gather the battalions there, and to build an army big enough to fight in the final stand,” rails lead hornblower Johnny Hedlund. “At the end of the (Vinland) North American journey, the Midgard Warriors and their growing armies traveled through the Sierra Madre and into Central America to meet with the Toltecs, Olmecs, Aztecs and others. It seemed they had all joined forces to build a rebellion against White Christ. They were now known as the Maya Warriors. We joined for Blot and Celebrations to our common task and for life long freindship. We had now grown to be a very respectful army of warriors that set off to the European continent again…”
Indeed, Unleashed is prepared for attack. And, of course, the quartet wants you to be war-kitted as well by first sounding a 2:40 battle call. OK, hyperbole dismantled, we have the new Unleashed cut, “Rise Of The Maya Warriors”.
** Unleashed’s new album, Odalheim, is available April 24th, 2012 on Nuclear Blast Records. Order it HERE or find yourself at the business end of a Mayan perforator while Johnny and his blood-glee Vikings observe in acceptance.
By: adem Posted in: featured, heavy tuesdays, stupid crap, videos On: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
All it took was one six-minute video by comedian Dave Hill to reveal what we’ve all suspected: Black metal fans lack the “humor” gene. When presented with anything— a Youtube video of someone getting hit in the nuts with a ball, for instance—that requires their grim face to contort into something ungrim, and simultaneously makes them feel like emitting a weird sound like “ha ha ha,” they just lash out like angry badgers.
What, you may ask, caused such a reaction? Metal Injection recently asked “The King of Metal” (aka Hill) to review some recent modern black metal releases. This is what he came up with.
Whether or not you find Hill’s shtik chuckle-worthy, there’s no denying the unintentional hilarity of the comments in response to said video. Hill obviously struck a nerve that required the kind of outrage reserved for metal news websites and political conservative/liberal party-baiting blogs. Observe:
Personally, “BucketMan,” we think Euronymous, if he came back, would have bigger fish to fry than the King of Metal. We gotta think that a certain Stabby McStabberson solo artist living in the wilds of Norway might actually be topping his list. Then maybe he’d stab himself.
Then there’s this:
The “g” in “gmike620″ no doubt stands for grim. He’s so grim, in fact, that he not only vehemently objects to everything the King of Metal has to say, he also hates the bands being reviewed. He does, however, make a valid point that being a greeter at Walmart may be one of the worst jobs ever.
This one is troubling for entirely different reasons:
As far as we can tell, “Roeseph” seems to believe that the King of Metal is so untr00 that he bags groceries at Jewel for a living. Ouch. Based on what, we’re not sure. What we can be very certain of is that Roeseph has a serious anger management issue.
We’re not sure that anyone with the screen name of “LetThereBeProg” is really in a position to lay judgment as to the gayness of a “cliche pentagram.” And who’s to say that the King of Metal isn’t actually friends with Fenriz? (see above photo of Hill with Immortal)
Now it’s your turn Decibel readers. That comments section below isn’t going to fill itself with misspelled, grammatically incorrect rantings and threats.
By: frank.lemke Posted in: featured On: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
What kind of a venue could possibly serve as home base for the Monster Manual-toting, frost giant-destroying, death/thrash purveyors Battlemaster? Some sort of Gollum cave or elven hideaway? Wrong you are – the nerd rage brought on by this Richmond wrecking crew fits snugly into local watering hole Strange Matter, a spot you will enjoy equally for its bitchin’ menu, metal-friendly show calendar, and dungeon master-approved video game arcade. After all, what hesher doesn’t want to beat Golden Axe while chewing on a sloppy burger to the soundtrack of local and national metal bands?
Sound: The set up here is totally pro with everything mic-ed up by JK, Richmond’s main sound guy for loud music. He had the mix clear and heavy both on and off the stage. Drums came through the PA huge and boomy, guitars sharp, and vocals warm and loud.
Drink Menu: A good selection of both cheap (24 oz Genesee cans) and craft (Lagunitas IPA!) beers on tap along side drink specials (the “Hatchetman” aka Faygo and Vodka) and $2 well shots on non-show nights.
Food: Far from your average bar grub, the menu at “Smatter” gives you a tasty mixture of vegetarian/vegan eats (portobello cheese steak, vegan crab cakes, veggie thanksgiving sandwich) along with various fancily dressed meat burgers (optionally sandwiched between grilled cheese’s instead of buns!) and other carnivorous treats. Look for the Three Aligned Moons of Thra on the menu for items that can be made, or already are, vegan.
Hospitality: Each band receives one pitcher of American lager on the house, which isn’t wildly generous, but members also get half off their tab at the end of the night (drinks and food), which is pretty killer!
Crowd: The bar definitely has huge nerd appeal, but when Ramming Speed is in town we’ve always found ourselves surrounded by crust lords, metalheads, and VCU norms looking to let their hair down with suds and rock ‘n’ roll.
Bathroom: There are two unisex bathrooms, I used one of them and it was a little gnarly, but after touring enough you tend to get right to work and ask questions later.
Staff: Between the bartenders, door staff, sound engineer, and in-house talent buyer Mark Osborne, this place is stacked with awesome people. We’ve always had very positive experiences with money, sound, and heavy drinking.
In closing: This seems to be the main small/midsized venue (probably 150-200 cap) in Richmond right now, so if you’re a show-goer in the area you probably already know about it. As the member of a touring band, Strange Matter is easily one of my favorite bars in the entire country, and with the killer food and friendly faces, I can’t see that changing. The only downside about the room is the awkwardly-placed staircase that sticks out in front of the stage, so keep your wits about you when circle pitting.
By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
“When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you,” Nietzsche promised in Beyond Good and Evil, but Mr. Philosophize with a Hammer never did recommend any appropriate mood music for making goo-goo eyes at the infernal regions. Which is why it is such a great thing for we lovers of darkness that the world’s preeminent horror culture magazine Rue Morgue continues to DJ the end times via Hymns From the House of Horror Vol. III, another entry in the magazine’s popular series of free, limited time downloads of “rare, exclusive and otherwise hard-to-find horror music.”
The first two Hymns volumes were annual multi-track compilations featuring such Decibel familiars as Blood Ceremony, Cauldron, Rammer, and GWAR. Beginning with Vol. III, however, the glorious punishment will be meted out monthly to allow for “more timely…ceremonial offerings.” The first track, “Olivia (Object of My Infection)” from horror folk-punks Harley Poe, is available now and heavier fare, we are assured, looms on the not-so-distant horizon.
“We like to have a good balance of all the monsters, for sure — zombies, vampires, werewolves, murderers,” Rue Morgue Assistant Editor Trevor Tuminski chuckles when asked how he determines a song is heinous enough for the hallowed halls of the House of Horror. “Actually, people can be a little bit skeptical about bands that tap into the horror genre for inspiration. They worry the music is going to be kitschy or jokey. I hope the Hymns compilations show people that there are a lot of bands bringing horror elements into their music in really interesting, diverse, unorthodox ways.”
Since we had a bona fide horror culture expert on the line who also happens to be well-versed in the cacophonous folkways of heavy metal — the Rue Crew is known to blast Nine Inch Nails, Alice Cooper, and Skinny Puppy in the magazine’s funeral home lair, and recently journeyed en masse to participate in a Toronto Ghost ritual — the question had to be asked: Why is there so much overlap between the Rue Morgue and Decibel wheelhouses? Why is it so much easier for Decibel to put together a zombie themed issue than one on, say, Nora Ephron (e.g., I Feel Bad About MY Neck, Too…From Headbanging!; A Cannibal Corpse tribute to When Harry Met Sally, etc)?
“There is a larger than life escapism to be found in dark art,” Tuminski posits. “People who go to horror movies are always chasing the bigger fear. They’re always looking for new interpretations of the fantastical that push further, in much the same way amusement park fans always want to ride the tallest, fastest rollercoaster — and as soon as they get off they’re looking for an even taller, faster one. It’s this natural interest in escalation and stretching our own boundaries, I think, that horror and heavy metal fans share.”
These are affinities and synergies Tuminski hopes to further stoke through both the excellent Audio Drome section of Rue Morgue and the Hymns compilations during this moment of “horror zeitgeist.”
“I would love to believe these compilations are helping to steer fans of dark music and horror films and literature toward other art forms they may not have experienced before,” he says. “That’s probably a lofty aspiration for what is essentially a monstrous mix-tape, but I don’t think it’s at all impossible.”