Sink Into A Flame Bath

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

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This morning Decibel has the pleasure of bringing you an appetizing little slice of “mile-high deathgrind” courtesy Denver’s own Enemy Reign. Culled from the super-solid, old-school-meets-new-school-and-for-once-they-actually-get-along upcoming full-length pummeller Between Hell and Oblivion, “Bathed in Flames,” guitarist Nick Guenther tells us, “puts everything we love about metal on display.”

“Between the scorching blast beats, classic death metal riffs, true breakdowns, and vivid lyrical imagery, this song gives a good sample of what Between Hell and Oblivion is all about,” he says. “The brutality starts right away in this song, bleeding all ears within listening range. Lasting till the two minute mark will offer a nice reward of a huge breakdown — a la old Dying Fetus — coupled with the dual guitar layering that will make any head bang.”

Between Hell and Oblivion is available for order through Enemy Reign’s official website. Follow the band on Twitter and Facebook.

INTERVIEW: Noisear’s Dorian Rainwater on the New Mexico grind crew’s “Turbulent Resurgence”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, September 10th, 2012

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What else could New Mexico nerve-shredders Noisear have named their forthcoming album? Turbulent Resurgence kinda sums everything up nicely; in the year since the release of the near free-jazz grind lunacy of Subvert the Dominant Paradigm, the band have shed some serious personnel and had to regroup and re-focus. But despite the changing of the guard, core writing duo of guitarist/vocalist Dorian Rainwater and drummer Bryan Fajardo were still at the wheelroom, rolling up and tossing riffs and blasts together for the greater good.

Turbulent Resurgence is Noisear‘s debut LP for Willowtip and comes booby-trapped with 40-second salvos of turbo-grind. And as Dorian Rainwater told the Deciblog, while they may have reined in some of the chaos, Noisear are still keeping the dial jacked up high against the red…


This sounds a bit more cohesive, more straight-ahead than Subverting the Dominant Paradigm, was that intentional?

Dorian Rainwater: Yeah, it’s a bit more straightforward than a few of our releases; we were a little bit more angry. We lost a couple of members on the last tour we did, last year, around the Maryland Deathfest, and we had to get a new guitarist. And we got our original guitarist from 1997 on this album. It’s a lot more angry and a lot more serious.

How did that affect the writing process?
Dorian Rainwater: Well Bryan Fajardo [drums] and I usually write all the material anyway, so it really didn’t affect any of the music but as far as the vocals it kinda had an affect, as far as you can tell the vocals are different to the last album. There’s not a lot of the higher vocals and most of the vocals were done by myself and Thomas [Romero, guitars/vocals] so there’s a bit of a different flavour on this one in comparison.

Is there more of a death metal influence?
Dorian Rainwater: Yeah, it does have a little bit more of a death metal edge to it but I think that we went a little sporadic on the last album, and we were adding a lot more than we should have, y’know, and we wanted to do it a little more straightforward just to capture the same essence as the live atmosphere.

Murder Construct “Results” Track-By-Track

By: Chris D. Posted in: contest, featured, gnarly one-offs On: Monday, September 10th, 2012

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1. “Red All Over”
Travis Ryan: Just a song about violence. Nice and simple… And bloody.
Leon del Muerte: The fastest song I’ve ever written. This one and “Under the Weight…” were completed towards the end of the writing cycle, but I knew for sure that this would be the opener. That’s two-for-two on opening songs at 260 bpm. The intro kinda lulls you into thinking we totally pussed out.

2. “Under the Weight of the Wood”
Travis: My parents thought it would be a good idea to send me to Catholic school. Early in my childhood, they tried the whole Christian thing and my mom seems to be the only person who really held onto any kind of faith, really. My dad was a lawyer and my mom a paralegal, so they were doing alright and wanted ‘the best’ for their kids. In a way I’m glad they did because I’m sure it helped shape who I am today and in doing so they inadvertently turned me 180 degrees away from all organized religion. I like being mean to Christians through my lyrics especially… and Jesus. The guy who told us to befriend our enemies…. cuz, you know… that always works in real life…. if you want to die that is. Anyways, the title of this song is actually the title of an old church standard our old bat of a ‘music teacher’ we had in school would always make us sing. Little did she and the rest of the staff know that it would one day turn into this, a harsh, mean-spirited prodding of Jesus on his way to Calvary.
Leon: I wrote this one at almost the same time as “Red…”; this one was a little bit of a departure. Not quite as fast, and with some kinda ‘fun’ chord structures. Even though it is chock full of simple riffs, this one is difficult to play correctly, because it bounces all over the fretboard from riff to riff. Travis wanted to cut the closing grunt on this one, but it’s got that cool barfy sound, so I kept it in there as long as I could. A little bit of that Martyrdöd jangliness in the verse riffs. We called this one “Space Metal” for a long time because the riff towards the end reminds me of something that would be on an episode of Star Trek or something.

3. “No Question, No Comment”
Leon: I think this was the first song written for the album that came away without too many changes. Lotta 3/4 in this one, which isn’t one of my favorite time signatures for blast beats, but to keep pace with the “half-blast” of the chorus riffs, it had to be that way. I think this one also has some 15/8 (8/8+7/8) and other weird time signatures in it. I tend to think of 3/4 accented blasts as being a bit too pirate-y, but what’re you gonna do. I think the opening riff and the last riff were both beats first and riffs written second, which is kind of a goofy way to write. Danny will record beats and then we write the riff on top. At least it breaks you out of the box of your own typical style. The second solo riff may or may not be lifted almost completely from a certain Swedish band. It’s not really, but it reminds me a lot of uh, something…

4. “Gold Digger”
Leon: Probably the most straight forward song on the record. It’s actually pretty ‘fun’ until the middle part. Kevin came up with the high-pitched counterpoint that really makes the middle part so powerful, along with Travis’ howling. There’s a break where I play by myself after that middle part and I did a whammy dive on the last chord of the riff. It was so stupid sounding that we decided to double it and keep it. Also a few 15/8 parts in here, if I recall correctly.
Travis: This song is about someone that goes for the cold hard cash, turning their back on everything else in the process because of the gold and silver blinders they have on. Shame on the douchebag.

5. “Compelled by Mediocrity”
Travis: Everyone thinks this song is about ‘djent’, a new ‘movement’ of incestuously motivated kids who are trying to be Meshuggah as if that style wasn’t screaming obviousness like fuckin’ Harold and Maude at a funeral (if that didn’t show my age, nothing will). Sadly, its not… this album took so long to come out (what, 9 months or so?) that when I wrote this, djent wasn’t the cool thing yet—it was deathcore. Remember that? I know its kind of hard because that was almost 52 weeks ago which means 52 flavors ago and even with the Internet being born in a kid’s hands, it’s still hard to remember way back like one whole year ago!!! Point blank this song is about hiding behind a couple strings when you’re playing a fucking 9-string guitar of all fuckin’ things and somehow being praised for it. That praise is indicative of where we are heading. If kids are that much into weakness, we’re in trouble. Not everyone was made for this. This song goes out to those who think they were… this week. At the end of the day, it was written out of just wanting to have fun and taunt the Internet generation. They can fuckin’ take it once in a while, jeez.
Leon: Another sorta old one. I really like that people have gotten super pissy about the lyrics. It wasn’t even about what half the people complaining about it thought it was about. [Laughs] As far as the music goes, this one is probably the most collaborative track. The first riff is Kevin’s, the second Caleb’s, and third mine. Even the whammy-dive part over the blast was actually Danny’s idea.

6. “The Next Life”
Leon: This was another very early track for the writing cycle, but it was completely different. There’s actually video out there of us playing it the original way (and Travis announcing it as “NNEEEWWWWW SOOONNNGGGGGG 2″), but something about it just didn’t add up for me. The flow was kinda broken in two, so I took it home and completely re-wrote it. Some of the original riffs are in it, but it’s otherwise a much longer song (previously, it was about 1:20) with a lot more twists and turns while presenting a better flow. We called the solo bass part the ‘Maryland Deathfest Riff’ because I could just see that one getting the pit started immediately. It’s for the kids, man! The last riff was the biggest departure from the original and from most of the rest of the stuff on the album. 5/8 and 6/8 butted up against each other always sounds cool to me, so the last whole section is all that. This one is definitely meant to end ‘Side A’.

7. “Dead Hope”
Leon: This one is Kevin’s baby from start to finish, and probably my second favorite track on the album next to “Red….” It’s got parts that are somewhat similar to Exhumed-style riffing, but I didn’t write it. [Laughs] There’s also a lot of Kevin’s own weirdness in here that I love. This track came up so close to recording that I didn’t even have time to learn it correctly and Kevin recorded all the rhythms. I recorded one small part I wrote on the second riff, but this is otherwise all him and Danny. Love this track, and can’t wait to play it live.

8. “Feign Ignorance”
Travis: Some people need to speak up more often instead of being so passive, especially if they feel the same way as someone who lets their thoughts be known at all times. To some extent of course—we don’t need everyone walking around like they’re a customer on that show Hardcore Pawn or some shit. Then again, this song could be about them too. Just do something.
Leon: Another Kevin song. I didn’t even notice until right now that we put both of Kevin’s tracks right up against each other. Again, a lot of his personality shining through here. I wrote one riff in this one, but the structure and everything else is all Kevin, including the harmonics at the beginning. This one features Trav’s ‘singing’ voice most prominently. That part reminds me a lot of Voivod for some reason.

9. “Mercy, Mercy”
Travis: My uncle Paul used to play this ‘game’ with me and my sister where he would put us on bar stools, spin us around until we were either about to puke or pass out and tell us all we had to say was ‘mercy, mercy’ and he’d stop. Well, he’d never stop. Jerk. When I was 9, my parents were having a party at the house and I was walking around sneaking in the little bits of wine in people’s glasses. My uncle saw me doing this and filled up a whole glass with white vinegar and called me over and pointed to it and told me to drink up. I thought it was a nice White Zinfandel and proceeded to down that shit. Of course he was all “Yeah, drink up!” and as it went down my throat I gagged like crazy and ran to my bedroom crying and embarrassed. I eventually gained an appreciation for his antics and I love the guy to death so the title of this is for him, the lyrics not so much.
Leon: Caleb’s song. I just barely learned this one in time for tracking. The part in the middle where the guitars stop and it’s just feedback was actually written in when we screwed it up at practice. We were playing the song, but neither Kevin nor I had learned that riff yet, so Danny and Caleb kept playing while we were looking at each other blankly, with no idea how to play along. [Laughs] It was kinda cool, so it got written in and is now my favorite part of the song. I think that only the d-beat riff in this song is in 4/4, but I haven’t really counted it.

10. “Malicious Guilt”
Travis: I used to really only have nightmares. There’s a couple in my life that have been recurring that used to plague me but it’s been years since I’ve had ‘em. One was I was part of a family that was trapped in a GIANT gymnasium and we couldn’t figure out why we were there or how to get out and I’m sitting there wondering who the hell these people were anyways!?! But the song is actually about the other one: Somehow, at some point I had killed some dude and threw his head into a pond by my old house (I actually found it on Google earth yesterday. [Laughs]) and it wouldn’t decompose—it just constantly bobs up and down there and the woods around it would always be glowing. The other half of the dream is my friends and I for some reason were freaking out about getting busted for killing some little girl and burying her. The fact that we did it, the not knowing if someone else would squeal, the intense guilt we would feel the rest of our lives… just really fucked with me. Was it my conscience fucking with me? Or was it just being afraid of getting caught? I’ve always had the knack for being able to bring myself out of dreams and stop them. When I would wake up from this one, the extreme amount of relief would hit me and the rest of my day would be killed wondering who that girl was, who killed her and why the hell am I having this stupid nightmare anyways!?! Doug Marsch of Built to Spill said in a song “no-one cares what you dreamt about unless you dreamt about them”. I agree, so this is the only place people will read that this is based on a dream cuz otherwise, who would give a shit?
Leon: This one I had serious reservations about. [Laughs] The first riff was something I wrote a long time ago and shared with the guys, but Kevin, Caleb and Danny put this one together during a single practice I missed. I wasn’t too sure about it, and I eventually added the ‘solo’ riff, but it came out pretty good. It’s another fun track and the aforementioned solo is the most hilarious thing I’ve recorded in a long time. Kevin has a huge board with tons of effect pedals and things, which is the total opposite of my setup. I just have a tuner and a channel switcher. I borrowed a few of Kevin’s things and this goofball solo was born. It sounds like the toilet on the Deathstar or something.

11. “Resultados”
Travis: Initially I wanted Juan Brujo to do some guest vocals on this but in the 25 or so years he’s been doing Brujeria, everyone in a band that knows him has asked him to do the same for their band and thus he just doesn’t do any. Why the hell didn’t I think of that? Anyways, I love singing in Spanish, I love hearing Spanish done through the death metal filter. That’s literally the reason for this song. That and I love Border Wars and felt like fucking around with the subject. Plus it confused the shit out of Leon and that’s always fun.
Leon: This one is, uh, multi-cultural. [Laughs] The music was written before the lyrics, including the outro, but I hadn’t shared my ideas for the outro with anyone else, so no one really knew what it was gonna sound like. So it’s in Spanish, but the feel is much more middle-eastern. As a big Secret Chiefs 3 fan, this was a simple homage. In fact, we had a lot of trouble recording the outro. I wrote a LOT of music for it, but two people flaked, another guy’s (Joe from Intronaut) instrument almost broke in half while we were tracking and so it came out the way it is. It’s not bad, but I wish we coulda used all the music that was written…though it mighta made it a garbled, incomprehensible mess if we had. The final riff is in such a mess of different time signatures that it was difficult to tab it out and show others how to play it. It goes from something like 8 to 9 to 9 to 7 to…I don’t know what the fuck. I like how the album is in like a lion and out like a lamb, a sorta cooling-off period after the rest of the album has already kicked the shit out of your speakers.

** Murder Construct’s new album, Results, is out on now on Relapse Records. It’s available HERE on CD and vinyl. Now, the only thing missing from Results is a bonus disc of Leon and Travis doing commentary over the music, which would be Darkthrone-like awesome. Of course, you could just read aloud what the two of them have stated above while playing Results to create your own color commentary. Oh, bring a friend.

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

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases On: Friday, September 7th, 2012

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What’s up, Motherpeckers? It seems the fall is a little dry, at least this part anyway, so let’s plow through this.

We’re going to start with the fucking evil HOODED MENACE, Effigies of Evil. This is old school death metal, and I mean old school. Slow, mean, nasty, heavy: These guys don’t need blasts to make one’s bowels quiver. Raspy low vocals over killer grooves with the occasional two-part guitar harmony thrown in. If you’re already a fan, you know what to expect; if you’re not, expect heavy, doomy riffage with very traditional Euro death vocals. If I had one complaint, it’d be that the production here is almost TOO good. I mean, you want a band like this to reek through your turntable, to make you dirty just listening to it. You really can’t hear the bepatched denim jacket here; that is EOE’s only real downfall in this bird’s eyes. Anyway, I digress. The new HOODED MENACE is really good, so go check it out. 7 Fucking Pecks.

Need therapy? Remember the mid ’90s, when there were noise rock bands and a lot of them got signed to majors? Well, the Helmet/Jawbreaker-y THERAPY? is at it again. They never really gave up, but in this feathered opine, they should have. Gone are the days of grunge and the music influenced by it. This band was kind of cool back in the day (see above video), but now kind of just comes off dated and goofy, and A Brief Crack of Light drives that point home again. Anyway, this thing sounds like a cross between, well, Helmet and Jawbreaker. Watered-down noise-rock grunge with no teeth at all, it’s about as fierce as a wet rag, and although it moves, the riffs never really seem to match up, with lyrics that are intended to be edgy, but aren’t really. Do yourself a favor and got get their record Nurse; or better yet, go get some old Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, or something like that. Stay away from this. 2 Fucking Pecks.

Fuck yeah, haarp. No, not the high-frequency active auroral research program; the band from New Orleans. Slow and thundering, mean and punishing, although calling them slow seems unfair. haarp are not a doom band; slow yes, but not doom. It moves, it grooves. This three-song full length, their second, clocks in at 40 minutes and is punishing, slow, low and heavy with screamed guttural vocals. This is music that could only come from NOLA; it’s twisted and sick. Something primordial crawled out of the swamp, and that something is Husks by haarp coming out on Housecore Records. 7 Fucking Pecks.

So, my old school peck here today will be COP SHOOT COP (buy drugs, shoot drugs, buy drugs, for those not in the know) because that Therapy? record really pecking bummed me out. Two bass players, noise, punk, jazz and whatever.

STREAMING: haarp “Bear”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, September 7th, 2012

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According New Orleans-based sludge doom outfit haarp, their music is a weapon. Not the kind of weapon the U.S. government has in the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (H.A.A.R.P.), but more the ancient Celtic god kind; a weapon of enchantment. Though we really wouldn’t say our experience with haarp—stylized in all lowercase letters—is enchanting in a Disney sort of way. Rather, they wow in their ability to transport us to realms distorted and down-tuned and hook-laden.

“When writing Husks,” says haarp skinsman Keith Sierra, “we tried to continue the development of our sound by adding some influences we haven’t touched on in the past while still maintaining the feel and sound we have cultivated over the past few releases. We think the results paid off, and that the album is a natural progression of our sound.”

Natural progression + cultivation of new influences = rad! So, enjoy a cold one on yourself while you enjoy a loud one on us and Housecore Records.

** haarp’s Husks is out September 18th, 2012 on Housecore Records. Husks is on CD HERE and LP HERE. Get it or be sent to Alaska on your own dime to be a human H.A.A.R.P. experiment.

Bonin’ the Interhole: Dead River Runs Dry

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, September 7th, 2012

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Bands like Gojira and Godflesh might be major brand names ‘round these parts, but mention them to your average Metallica-loving broseph and you’re likely to get a squinty-eyed, the-fuck-you-say? half-nod.  But Decibel just won’t quit.  We dig deeper, danker, darker and dirtier (though rarely fitter or happier) to turn up a few otherwise overlooked gems.  While Throw Me a Frickin’ Bone lays it out all hard-copy-like, every Friday the Deciblog brings you the stealthiest bandcampiest demos, EPs, singles, one-offs, full-lengths, and start-up acts that catch our attention with Frickin’ Bone 2.0:  Bonin’ the Interhole.

I need to buy a plane ticket to the land down under.  Like, now.  Based on the music I hear coming out of that deranged Pacific continent, I imagine black skies unlit by a dripping red sun, leafless gray trees draped with slaughtered koalas, and incorporeal wraiths fading in and out of the mortal plane to terrorize any humans crazy enough to live, work, or travel through such a country.  TV wildlife specials and steakhouse chains be damned!  Anyplace it would take me almost a day to fly to had better be as extreme as the above description.

New ghoul-conjurors Dead River Runs Dry add to the bleak horrors rising from the Australian hellscape.  They rot ears with a familiar brew of blackened hatred, and it’s expertly realized.  For now, you can hear their four demo tracks at their Bandcamp page.  Continued recording has been promised.  You’ve been warned.  Read more for some insight into the ensuing Aussie destruction.

Dead River Runs Dry members have been active in a lot of other projects.  Can you describe how they led you to working in Dead River Runs Dry?

We’ve all known each other for some time due to our involvement in various Australian bands and figured it was time to collaborate in this configuration.  So far it’s worked out well and we’re pleased with it. Other projects we’ve been in are readily discoverable but Dead River Runs Dry represents a different focus to them. It is an entity of its own.

How was the demo material written?

I wrote the material in the space of a week and sent it to the others for their input. There was no ‘grand plan’ other than I couldn’t ignore what had inadvertently been tapped into. Given the experience and more importantly, the nature of the other members, I’d be a fool to deny their contributions and the material is stamped with them.

What ideas were influencing the music and lyrics?

Themes such as misanthropy, desolation and bleak, ruthless hatred are common in our material. Any musical or lyrical reference to “positivity” or “glory” is an imagining of potential or a glimpse into personal experiences – gnosis or reverence if you prefer. It remains brief because the reality is that such things won’t last. A lot of anger comes from seeing the potential for an altered existence and due to constraints, shackles and the position that we as mere humans chained to this reality find ourselves in, are in many ways powerless to do anything about other than extracting what we can from our own insights and applying it to our own paradigms.

How/where were the songs recorded?

Drums, guitars and bass were recorded in a home studio called Scabby Road with the combined forces of myself and my friend Mat Taylor. Vocals were invoked from the void by Murmur via correspondence. One thing I learnt from the sessions was that we respond well to pressure. We were against the clock (aren’t we always?!) and that added element of stress helped yield the results you can hear on the recordings. I like that way of doing things because you tend to not over think things to the absolute. Only spontaneity is real!

What other bands are exciting you right now?  Anything unusual having an impact on your music or mindset?

This a band whose members for some time have all involved themselves in various paths, practices and explorations so at this point we’re not sure what constitutes unusual in the ‘normal’ sense…one thing we can all agree on is that there’s enough fire to sate our collective appetites in regards to Dead River Runs Dry’s output, if you know where to burn. That’s a vague answer I know, but it’s something I don’t really like to discuss too openly because I think it reeks of desperation when bands try to overwhelm you with whatever they’re into. Which isn’t to say I couldn’t do that if I wanted to. Fark! How cryptic!

As for bands – lately I’ve into releases by Swans, Mongrels Cross, Blut aus Nord, Leviathan, Rowland S. Howard, Karjalan Sissit, Ben Frost’s “By the Throat” album, Edward Artemiev’s soundtracks for Tarkovsky and Bleakwood among many, many others.  Readers would benefit from checking out Paroxysmal Descent, Order of Orias, Greed & Rapacity, The Veil, Denouncement Pyre, Nocturnal Graves, Impetuous fucking Ritual, Cauldron Black Ram and Stargazer if they’ve not already, of course. Those last two I mentioned feature members of  Mournful Congregation and it’s definitely worth your time to listen to any project that has their collective or individual input on it.

Is a full-length recording on the way?

There’s enough material for an album and we’re planning on recording it at the end of this year. Maybe a split release as well.

What path does Dead River Runs Dry take from here?

The one less travelled.

America’s Workforce: Horrified

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, stupid crap, uncategorized On: Thursday, September 6th, 2012

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So, the other day, Repulsion’s bassist/vocalist/friend of Decibel, Scott Carlson sent us a link to a rather peculiar little article from the Washington Post with the comment attached, “Our music is truly Repulsive.”

Check it out: Is Listening to Music Making You Worse at Your Job?

Now, why out of all the bands that have existed in the history of grindcore and/or death metal, the researchers zeroed in on Repulsion is beyond us, but when you take a look at a link from the British Psychological Society’s blog site giving a bit more background into the study, you can see the psychologists did their share of research not only into Repulsion, but just why the average (wo)man on the street might literally lose their shit upon hearing the songs the Mudrian family is probably using to lull their daughter to sleep at this very moment. As someone who, during a more promising time in my life, was working on a Ph.D. in the Psychology of Music and wasted a good chunk of my early adult-hood doing stuffy lab experiments that ultimately sucked every inch of fun out of listening to and experiencing music, I can always appreciate an unintentionally hilarious clinical assessment of the music we hold so dear to our blackened hearts. Which is why I loved this line taken from the BPS blog:

The fast-tempo ‘extreme guitar-based’ music of Repulsion, the researchers explained, is like ‘a cacophony of sound, in which the segmentation of each individual sound from the next is difficult to identify.’ This means it has less acoustic variation from one moment to the next, which helps explain why, even though disliked, it had a less detrimental effect on serial recall than Infernal’s [the band used as an example of music the study's subjects enjoyed] pop song.”

And you gotta love the writer’s assumption that Korn is so universally loathed that they would help improve cubicle performance everywhere.

South Pole Discharge: John Darnielle’s Metal Covers Set Is Nigh

By: nick.green Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Thursday, September 6th, 2012

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John Darnielle has delighted readers of Decibel since the magazine’s inception with his South Pole Dispatch backpage column, and we are certainly grateful to have his humorous, provocative and thoughtful commentary gracing our pages every month. But Darnielle has a long, colorful history of writing about metal, both as the mastermind behind the long-running Last Plane to Jakarta webzine, as well as the voice of indie-rock mainstays the Mountain Goats. Anyone responsible for “Marduk T-Shirt Mens Room Incident” and “Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” has to have a little hesh in him.

Darnielle’s metal fandom is so well-known that when word leaked that the Mountain Goats were going to record with Erik Rutan, rumors spread that 2011’s All Eternals Deck was going to be a full-on death metal album. Alas, that was pure horseshit/wishful thinking, but Darnielle will be flying the death metal flag proudly this weekend at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, NC with a one-time-only all-metal covers set. That’s right: 20 years of Darnielle writing about Darkthrone has reached its next logical step with Darnielle performing the music of Darkthrone. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Darnielle to give up the goods on the planned set list, but he took a little time out of his hectic schedule to talk about Cannibal Corpse, writing about metal and adapting some of his favorite songs to a Mountain Goats-style performance.

Your webzine Last Plane to Jakarta hasn’t been updated since November of last year – what gives?
I’m just too busy. I’ve sort of stopped doing it at the moment. Even going to the poetry model was sort of a reflection of that. All magazines are facing this problem right now. When I used to read record reviews, I wanted to find out what records sounded like and to hear what people thought about them. The general availability of high-speed internet has rendered my descriptions of music fairly useless. If they’re entertaining, that’s good. But what created my passion for writing about music is sort of gone, because everybody can just listen to whatever they want at any time. The nature of reviewing music has changed so much that I have to think about it more before I really want to do it. If I wasn’t busy doing the Mountain Goats and writing other stuff, I’d be updating the site at least once a week. I don’t have the time to do it in any way that would be fulfilling. I could probably churn something out regularly, but that’s not my style. We did that for a period of, like, four years – I’d write a 1,000 or 2,000 word piece every Sunday night. When it started to feel like a grind, I had to stop. The whole point of Last Plane to Jakarta was that it was a passion project.

Is it true that you were once planning on putting together a ‘zine where you’d review the entire output of an artist in a single issue?
My friend Joel had an idea called “365,” where you picked a song that you’d listen to exclusively for a year. You’d live with that song you picked out, you’d write about nothing but that song for an entire year and you’d publish one ‘zine at the end of the year documenting the experience. I thought that was a brilliant idea. I’ve had a lot of ideas for discography-type ‘zines. That kind of intense focus is something that I really miss about the ‘zine culture. It used to be, “I have a ‘zine about cookies. That’s it. I review them wherever I go.” Do you remember those big rock ‘n’ roll family trees? They were extremely ornate and really well-researched. They were these giant pages that traced everybody who was ever in a band. Something like that with a single band per issue – I thought that’d be really cool. But it goes back to your earlier question: When would I ever have time to do that?

Between Last Plane to Jakarta, South Pole Dispatch and your book on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, is there anyone who left who is surprised to discover that you are so enthusiastic about metal and extreme music?
I don’t mean to dis the good people who interview me, but that question comes up in literally every interview I do: “So: You play acoustic music and you listen to heavy metal?” I was really stoked when the Mountain Goats went to work with Erik Rutan, because he listens to a broad range of music. Genre partisanship is something you generally outgrow by the time you’re 18. Everybody who loves music listens to all kinds of music, but there has always been this weird thing with extreme music where people assume that maybe if you like something that’s outlying, that’s all you like. It’s a really entertaining idea to consider. Maybe there is someone out there that’s like, “Nope, I only listen to thrash.” But the possibility seems really remote. Music is a continuum of sound and personal expression, not team sports.

Did you gush like a fanboy when you met Erik Rutan?
Are you kidding? I wrote to Erik Rutan when we were in the studio and he wrote right back. I was like, “Guys! Erik Rutan just responded and he’s totally into it!” We were all freaking out. Have you seen the Cannibal Corpse Centuries of Torment DVD? When this interview is over, I need you to go watch it. No matter how you feel about Cannibal Corpse, you will love them by the end of the documentary. They documented their first drive from Buffalo down to Tampa to record with Scott Burns at Morrisound back in ’87. They had one of those big ol’ bulky VHS cameras and they filmed themselves going south to record an album for Metal Blade. We became obsessed with this documentary and we recreated the Cannibal Corpse drive down south on I-95 when we went to go work with Rutan. Generally speaking, Erik records death metal. And death metal is recorded discreetly, in parts. You don’t track multiple instruments at once when you’re recording a death metal record. You track the drums. Then you track the guitars. And so on. It’s half math, and half music – a whole different discipline. When we play live, we have three sets of cans in isolation and we play all together. Nobody has ever gone down to Erik Rutan’s studio to do that. So there was a lot of time spent figuring out how to do this thing that they don’t usually do. Erik has an amazing work ethic, too. That guy can go laaaaaate. [Laughs] It was totally fun. Really great.

You will be playing an all-metal cover set at Hopscotch this weekend. How did that idea come about?
When we were invited to play Hopscotch, I just wanted to do something different that would justify showing up at the festival. I play some music festivals, but I don’t really go to them. And if I did, I expect that I would just see a bunch of bands playing their usual sets and that would be really boring. So I wanted to do something that would be entertaining for me. I’ve also learned by working on a couple of projects over the years that if you announce you’re going to do something and book it, you can kick-start your creativity. Otherwise, you get these weird ideas and short of actually making an arrangement to do them, you’re busy enough with other distractions that they never really materialize. But if you get the idea to hire a lap steel guitarist to play on your record and you write to him and ask when he’s available, then you’re locked into doing it. And then Bob Barrone shows up and puts down three amazing lap steel parts on your record, which is actually what happened with All Eternals Deck. So the all-metal covers set was an entertaining idea that I had that I decided to pitch. Of course, there’s a week to prepare for this performance and I still have four songs to learn. [Laughs]

What challenges have you encountered scaling these covers for a Mountain Goats-style performance?
Well, with most of the songs I picked, they’re deeply anchored in the rhythm section. I’m playing all of them on piano. If I played Stride piano or a boogie-woogie style, I could probably anchor them pretty easily with my left hand, but that’s not normally what I do. If you listen to anything that’s in a D-beat style, that’s really hard to compensate for on piano and keep the song moving forward. I have some people helping me out with this set, though. Figuring out how to make the stuff with a more galloping rhythm work without cheating the tempo down is tricky. I’m radically transforming some of the songs. I’m doing a Summoning song, and Summoning is big, big drum sounds and giant riffs. I’m playing the same notes, but the vibe is completely different. The funny thing about this set is that if you book yourself a show, you’re basically saying, “I have this great thing that I want to show you.” That’s what it means, right? This is more of an experiment in front of people. I will be shocked if there’s more than two people in the crowd who can identify more than two of the nine songs I’ve worked up. There’s a Summoning track and a Darkthrone song – that’s all I’m going to say. It would be no fun if people knew what was coming.

This is very important: Will there be any Prostitute Disfigurement songs in the set?
No. I’m a death metal partisan – I like a lot of black metal and I love a lot of NWOBHM acts, when genres were getting really blurry and no one knew what was coming next. Like Venom. Or Mercyful Fate – that’s one of my Top 5 favorite bands. Death metal is what I listen to more than anything else. If you try and put those riffs on piano, there’s so much going on with the drums and everything else, that you almost have to rework it. What I’ve done with the one pure death metal song in my set is write my own chords – it’s a totally different song now. Prostitute Disfigurement is your classic meat-and-potatoes death metal. I have this compilation called Brutally Sickness from Indonesia that has 50 bands like that. They all sound a little different, but they’re all playing the exact same style of metal. I don’t know what I can really do with that. I do feel a little guilty that I didn’t pick a Heinous Killings song, because that guy is really sick. And he’s married! If you ever read the liner notes on Heinous Killings albums, he always thanks his wife “for being understanding,” which I think is the best thing ever.

When word erroneously circulated that the last Mountain Goats full-length All Eternals Deck was going to be a “death metal album,” you responded by tweeting “tMG can’t play DM until I master guttural death growl i.e. ca 2015.” Have you moved the timetable up on this?
People are constantly asking me, “Why don’t you make a death metal record?” You could only actually want to hear that if you didn’t like death metal. Death metal is a lifelong discipline. Hanging out with Erik Rutan, I really got a sense of how much it takes to play that style of music. You can’t be a jazz pianist and think, “What the fuck, I’ll play some death metal!” It’s not like that. Death metal is a lifetime commitment. You decide that you want to play a style of music that speaks to your spirit and you dedicate yourself to that pursuit. I was joking when I said “2015.” I would have to change my life to play that kind of music. I would have to become a real guitarist first, then learn the death metal style. I play folk guitar. I play chunky rhythm chords and I can sit in with anybody and do that. But to do what those guys do? It’s hard and very earnest work. Not to mention that the people who think they want to hear me play death metal are generally not death metal fans. By the time I got halfway through the first song, they’d all be like, “You know, I do not like this kind of music.”

Decibrity Playlist: Grave

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, September 6th, 2012

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It’s obvious that we have quite a lot of love for Grave around these parts. Don’t believe me? Just check out Greg Moffitt’s review or Jonathan Horsley’s profile in our September and October issues, respectively. While the Swedish death metallers just released their new album Endless Procession Of Souls last week, guitarist/vocalist Ola Lindgren had other ideas about what direction to take his playlist (which we’ve compiled into a Spotify playlist). In fact, we’ll just let the band’s founder explain:

“It was very hard for me to think of a subject for this playlist, and I didn’t want to just go for the obvious ‘favourite death metal albums’ or something similar, especially since Greg Mackintosh had some of my classic faves in his list already. I decided to do something different, but I couldn’t do it without including some of the bands from his list since they simply have to be in mine as well. I guess it’s true that great minds think alike. So here is my playlist, featuring five of my favourite, non-death metal albums.”

Depeche Mode—Ultra (1997)
Heavy, soft, dirty and clean thrown together and mixed to perfection. One of my all time favourite productions, and it has a song for whatever mood you’re in. Not to be confused with or compared to the early synth-pop Depeche—this is a giant.

Alice In Chains—Dirt (1992)
A classic, which, in my opinion, doesn’t have much to do with the whole grunge scene. I’ve always liked AiC for their heaviness and dark lyrics combined with brilliant songwriting. Grave covered “Them Bones” on our 2006 release As Rapture Comes.

The Cult—Sonic Temple (1989)
Straight forward rock at its best. I will never get tired of these songs no matter how many times I hear ‘em. Bob Rock’s production to bring this album together was the perfect match at the time. I’ve always thought about covering a track from this album—maybe for the next Grave release.

I Blame Coco—The Constant (2010)
Killer debut from Sting’s daughter Coco Sumner. Don’t really know why I’m into it so much, it’s just great songs and a great voice. I will probably not score too many cool points with this.

Queensrÿche—Empire (1990)
Epicness of the epics. Everything about this album rocks, and I think every band in the genre wishes that they would’ve came out with something like it. The production is just so perfect in every sense—and the songs too. Bear in mind that I hated and despised this when it came out hehe…

*Pick up a copy of Endless Procession Of Souls here and catch the band on tour:

Sep 20 The Casbah Charlotte, NC
Sep 21 Masquerade Atlanta, GA
Sep 22 Headliners Music Hall Louisville, KY
Sep 23 Screamin’ Willie’s Columbus, OH
Sep 24 Howard Theatre Washington, DC
Sep 25 Bogie’s Albany, NY
Sep 26 B.B. King Blues Club and Grill New York, NY
Sep 27 The Altar Bar Pittsburgh, PA
Sep 28 Trocadero Theatre Philadelphia, PA
Sep 29 Palladium Worcester, MA
Sep 30 CLUB SODA Montreal, Canada
Oct 01 The Opera House Toronto, Canada
Oct 02 Peabodys Cleveland, OH
Oct 03 BLONDIES Detroit, MI
Oct 04 Mojoes Joliet, IL
Oct 05 Station 4 St Paul, MN
Oct 06 People’s Court Des Moines, IA
Oct 07 The Gothic Theatre Englewood, CO
Oct 08 The Complex Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 10 El Corazon Seattle, WA
Oct 11 Hawthorne Theater Portland, OR
Oct 12 SLIMS San Francisco, CA
Oct 13 Ace of Spades Sacramento, CA
Oct 14 City National Grove of Anaheim Anaheim, CA
Oct 15 Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ
Oct 16 House of Rock El Paso, TX
Oct 17 Trees Dallas, TX
Oct 18 Scout Bar Houston, TX
Oct 19 Backstage Live San Antonio, TX
Oct 21 The Firebird St Louis, MO
Oct 22 Blackened Moon Lansing, MI
Oct 23 Broadway Joes Buffalo, NY

**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:

Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Dawnbringer
Ufomammut
Shadows Fall
Horseback
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Torche
“Best of” Meshuggah
Astra
Pallbearer
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)

CONTEST: Win Yellowtooth CDs!

By: Chris D. Posted in: contest, featured On: Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

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First off, Michigan City is not in Michigan. It’s actually in Indiana, has views of the Chicago cityline, is closer to Gary, Indiana than anyone—even Michael Jackson—would ever want to be. Second off, Michigan City houses newly—as of 2008 at least—spawned sludge-doom outfit Yellowtooth. If you have yet to hear of Yellowtooth and their brand of Midwestern groove doom, well, today may be your lucky day.

Decibel and Orchestrated Misery Recordings have teamed up to offer anyone who emails us a chance to win shrinkwrapped copies of Yellowtooth’s new album, Digust. That’s free end-of-days doom sludge crossover metal for 5 (Five) lucky fuckers. This stuff is made out of urban decay, misery, and smog from Gary’s infamous stacks. Yellowtooth as a sonic compatriot to Winter’s Into Darkness and Eyehategod’s Dopesick.

Email us: HERE.

Contest ends September 12th.

** Like Yellowtooth on Facebook. Klicken Sie HIER.

** Yellowtooth’s Digust is out September 11th, 2012 on Orchestrated Misery Recordings.