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.

Inside The Shredder’s Studio #2: Mike Hill’s Favorite Riffs

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, lists On: Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

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We’re chuffed to have a dB album of the year award winner take over the shredder’s studio this Wednesday. In this second installment, Tombs guitarist and vocalist Mike Hill tells us about the riffs that led him on a musical path of totality. While you are at it make sure to check out the new Tombs track “Ashes,” available exclusively as a blue flexi disc in the October issue.

Take it away, Sgt. Hill.

I watched USA’s Night Flight regularly when I was a kid back in the 80’s. Movies like Another State of Mind and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains planted a seed that someday I should try my hand at playing music. Back then, I was dead set on playing bass. When I heard the mightiness of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, I knew that guitars, cranked through massive amps, were going to be part of my destiny. Below are some of the riffs that set me on the path.

Black Sabbath – Iron Man

I’ve often cited the Ozzy and Dio eras of Sabbath as influences, but it all comes down to “Iron Man” for me. This lumbering behemoth made me look at music in a totally different light. I was a big Zeppelin and Rush fan prior to that, and though both of those bands are amazing, “Iron Man” connected with me on a physical level.

Black Flag – Life Of Pain and My War

A few years after I discovered Sabbath, I started dabbling in punk rock. The Rollins years were the main line to what is was all about to me. This was the only band that mattered to me when I started listening to punk and hardcore. Yeah, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains and Dead Kennedys were groundbreaking but these two tracks communicated directly to my reptilian brain stem. These tracks are the soundtrack for numerous bare-lightbulb-nights watching the minutes click by as the sun rises.

Slayer – Raining Blood

I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t agree that this song rules. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard dudes warm up with this song in soundchecks across the country.

Celtic Frost – Dethroned Emperor

A list like this wouldn’t be complete without Celtic Frost. This is one of the heaviest jams by one of the heaviest bands.

Bolt Thrower – …For Victory

The first few Bolt Thrower records are genius, genre-defining records. The title track on “…For Victory” is a study in power, the sound of Roman Legions and Thunder Gods.

Morbid Angel– He Who Sleeps

I saw these guys play a one-off show out in Flushing, Queens on a night off of the Pantera tour. It was in a really small club and they tore the place apart. Seeing them perform this track live in that setting was one of the most intense metal moments of my life.

Iron Maiden – Ides of March / Wrathchild

When I was a kid, I discovered Iron Maiden from reading Creem. It was a piece about the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal and they profiled the “Killers” album, likening it to Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” record. I collected my allowance that week and hit the record store, scoring the cassette version of “Killers.” These were the tracks that introduced me to Maiden. For me, it was all about Paul D’ianno. It’s only been in the last few years that I have even warmed up to Bruce Dickinson.

Get in touch with Tombs here and follow Tombs on Twitter.

STREAMING: Ofermod “Mystérion Tés Anomias”

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

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The last we had heard of Swedish black metal terrorists Ofermod, they were busy promoting their 2008 debut Tiamtü full-length and acting all anti-cosmic gangster—rumor has it headcheese Michayah Belfagor (aka Mika Hakola) has been involved in all sorts of untoward activity—while the rest of the world spun and burned like Belfagor and his unmerry cohorts had something to do with it. Four years later and Ofermod—which means ‘Bravado’ in Swedish—haven’t amounted to much, but that hasn’t stopped French outfit Season of Mist from mining the group’s repertoire for black metal gold. Namely, the Mystérion Tés Anomias EP, which originally saw light in 2005 on the Norma Evangelium Diaboli label.

Now, what a Swede is doing penning album titles in French is beyond us, but this little ripper from the mid aughts should be enough to remind that black metal, when parsed properly, can be a superb spark to any shitty need-to-conform day—whether that’s at the office or in the back of the class or hauling trash—we all adhere to make bucks to survive. No, Mystérion Tés Anomias won’t supplant a paying job or replace an inheritance, but it’s certainly angry and nefarious enough to purge all those dark feelings inside.

Anyway, Decibel and Season of Mist have hooked up for a comet-like stream of Mystérion Tés Anomias. That’s right, starting today and ending September 11th, 2012, Ofermod’s first EP will stream until A) the world ends or B) we take it down due to label commitments. Soak in Mystérion Tés Anomias for all its worth. Unless you own the 2005 original. Then you’ve already soaked in enough Ofermod for two of us.

** We recommend a copy of Ofermod’s Mystérion Tés Anomias HERE. We wouldn’t want to cross Michayah Belfagor, ’cause knowing that Swede, he’d fly over to the US and pelt our precious offices with Surströmming and stink-eyes.

STREAMING: Family: “Bridge & Tunnel”

By: adem Posted in: featured, heavy tuesdays, listen On: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

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We’re sorry to do this to you, but this little premiere we’re going to bust out today, is going to make the next several weeks drag on as you anxiously await the release of Family’s debut album for Pelagic, Portrait, on October 30. We can guarandamntee you we will be spinning our advance copy incessantly. We tell you this mostly because we want to make you feel bad.

What’s all the fuss about? Well, Family are a Brooklyn-based quartet—half native New Yorkers, half Southerners—that have taken a cue from Mastodon and sprinkled some freshly ground classic rock on their meaty version of modern metal. It has groove, it has rage, it has some serious bludgeon capacity. There are even progressive touches to the arrangements that cohesively bounce through all kinds of tempos, riffs and moods. We hear Unsane splatter-scrape, Soundgarden throb and maybe just a touch of 21st century dirty-knees blues.

Who is responsible for this ruckus?, you may ask. Here’s who: guitarists Steven Gordon (of MetalSucks notoriety) and Joshua Lozano ( who’s also played with Cobalt and ex-Swans vocalist Jarboe), drummer Jody Smith and bassist/vocalist Kurtis Lee Applegate.

The tune we’ve bestowed upon you below, “Bridge & Tunnel,” is a good indication of what the rest of Portrait has in store. There are plenty of dynamic peaks and valleys both within each song and from song to song on the album. We are particularly fond of the part two minutes in where Family digs into a grinding riff and drummer Smith decides to kick in the double bass for a spell. Like the entire album, it features a good mix of crunchy and smooth(ish). Hell, see for yourself.

Since we feel a little bad for teasing you with this track, we’ll go ahead and send you over to the band’s Facebook page, where you can also stream a second track, “Bopsky,” from Portrait. Not sure if it’ll make the wait until Oct 30 any easier, but at least it’ll give you an additional peek at what is sure to be one of our favorites of 2012.

Behold: Decibel 100th Issue Celebration Show Details!

By: andrew Posted in: breaking newz, featured On: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

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The Mayans were off by a month: The world will officially end on Saturday, January 19 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA, when Decibel Magazine proudly brings you our truly apocalyptic 100th Issue Celebration Show! Faces will be decimated not only by

Pig Destroyer
Repulsion
Municipal Waste
Tombs
and
Evoken

but a special surprise headliner that we’ll be announcing in November. And we assure you: these folks are a little more about tearing a room apart than tying it together.

If that’s not enough awesomeness for you, all attendees will receive a special ultra-limited Pig Destroyer flexi with the purchase of a ticket. These will be available for pick-up the day of the show, and will only be available at the venue on the day of the show. After that, they’re gone forever.

So, seriously, what the fuck are you waiting for? Drool over designer Bruno Guerreiro’s sick show poster, and come celebrate 100 issues with your favorite bound printed degenerates.

STREAMING: Serpentine Path “Obsoletion”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

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Yeah, it seems kind of corny to talk of a “dream team” existing in doom’s dark, colorless realm but, shit, just consider Serpentine Path’s personnel. You’ve got Tim Bagshaw, guitarist for saturnine UK doom crew Ramesses and a founding member of Electric Wizard, jamming with entire crew of the now (sadly) defunct Unearthly Trance, Jay Newman on bass, Darren Verni on drums and Ryan Lipynsky on vocals. Seriously, there’s got to be some kind of magick at play.

It’s enough to put your faith in those breathless urban myths that tell of an all-seeing doom metal impresario who lives out there in the ‘burbs, sending out commandments from an oak and rawhide easy chair in his front room. A cloaked individual, unseen to the public, he is said to have started life as a moderator on an underground doom forum until he attained superpowers after accidentally microwaving a rival’s copy of the Electric Wizard/Reverand Bizarre 7″ split. And now, reclusive of all human contact save for the mail man, this omnipotent, omniscient doom seer is pulling strings in the scene. Like, obviously Serpentine Path hooked up through shared musical outlooks, the members meeting on tour when Ramesses shared van space with Unearthly Trance back in 2009, but still: For all of us super-bummed out when U.T. called it a day this is a kind of freaky Pet Sematary reincarnation of what was a great band.

Serpentine Path take the riffs down low and contort them into the sort of dirges that make confetti of inferior speaker cones, and you’d expect nothing less. Anyway, here’s an exclusive preview of the superlative “Obsoletion”, taken from the band’s self-titled debut.

Serpentine Path is out through Relapse on September 11th in the States, the 17th everywhere else.

**You can poke Serpentine Path on Facebook HERE. And you can order it HERE. Don’t dare disappoint the Doom Lord; his microwave still works.**

STREAMING: Satan’s Wrath “One Thousand Goats in Sodom”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, September 3rd, 2012

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What do goat heads, goat head masks, inverted crosses, bullet belts and improperly held axes have in common? Normally, we’d say Sadistik Exekution or Impaled Nazarene during their sado-battle-goat phase, but the answer is neither. It’s actually Greek duo Satan’s Wrath, who, if we’re being kind, are a bit of throwback to times when posing with stage props was somewhat frightening to little boys from towns medium and small. Musically, Satan’s Wrath posit themselves right in the middle of ’85. There are bits of NWOBHM, Teutonic thrash, and tenets of what would become death metal, as laid out by Possessed and Mantas/Death, coursing through Satan’s Wrath’s nasty little veins.

These throwback cycles are about once a decade—anyone remember Bewitched’s Diabolical Desecration, as part of the first wave?—but Satan’s Wrath have rekindled the fire, blown heavily on the burning embers that are the group’s eternal/infernal influences, and reborn anew extreme metal from a bygone era.

Enjoy the goat. Enjoy the metal.

** Satan’s Wrath’s new album, Galloping Blasphemy, is out September 25th, 2012 on Metal Blade Records. Get it HERE or feel the wrath of Satan enjoying a Koegel or two on Labor Day. The former is a far better option, though Koegel do make good hot dogs.

The Lazarus Pit: Warlord’s … And the Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, lazarus pit, listen On: Friday, August 31st, 2012

Somebody had beans for dinner.

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, we dig through the Metal Blade vaults and find one of the true oddities in their catalog – a debut album that wasn’t really a debut album, one that nobody heard but still helped invent an entire subgenre: Warlord’s … And the Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun (Metal Blade).

It’s always fascinating coming across records that connect the dots between styles, the missing links of musical evolution which didn’t quite fall into what came before or after and so fell between the cracks.  Hell, that’s one of the reasons I do this column.  And while the classic rock/neoclassical influences of power metal are fairly obvious (Rainbow, Rising Force), as are the early acts practicing the style (Helloween, Manowar), but the bands that bridged the gap don’t receive nearly as much recognition.  Warlord, as you may be able to guess, are one of those important in-betweeners.

Formed in 1980 in Los Angeles by  guitarist/songwriter Bill Tsamis and drummer Mark Zonder (who later joined the more-successful Fates Warning) and influenced by 70s arena rock and New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, Warlord had grand ambitions – they were going to rule the world, even if nobody else was aware that they, well, existed.  Sure, they’d had a couple tracks on the Metal Massacre compilations, and Metal Blade had released an EP of theirs called Deliver Us, and they hadn’t technically performed live, but they were determined to skip right over the (oversaturated, horrible) early 80s LA club scene.  And they knew exactly how to do that – by renting out The Raymond Theatre in Raymond, Washington and recording their live concert debut.  Without an audience.  And then releasing the VHS of that concert and using its “soundtrack” as their quasi-full-length debut.

As ill-conceived as the venture may have been, 1984’s …And the Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun contains some pretty serious jams.  Consisting of the definitive versions of all the material they had written and released to date, these seven songs are stronger than anything a band like, say, Chimaira has written in almost as many albums.  After an admittedly silly opening narration about the portentous year of the recording, they kick into “Lucifer’s Hammer,” a song which manages the impressive feat of having a pre-chorus almost as catchy as the chorus itself – the latter of which, about a hammer falling on you (presumably Lucifer’s) gave Swedish power metal masters Hammerfall their name.  “Lost and Lonely Days” brings the trademark power metal gallop and a keyboard crisis courtesy of whiz kid Diane Kornarens.  “Soliloquy” delivers, as per its name, an agonized internal monologue, while “MCMLXXXIV/Child of the Damned” fills the requisite extended-instrumental-into-Iron-Maiden-epic slot, and “Deliver Us” re-purposes the “Diary of a Madman” riff for much frillier purposes.  Also, there’s a song called “Aliens” that’s way catchier than anything Hypocrisy has done on the subject.

They never really got their act together after this, going through a series of vocalists (all with the stage name Damien King, I through III) and never actually putting out a fully formed album.  Obviously Zonder went on to better (or at least more successful) things during the late 80s and 90s, but the band did reform in the 2000’s and put out an legitimate record and played some live performances (presumably with an audience this time).  Still, they were influential (as evidenced by the Hammerfall thing), and they were instrumental in helping New Wave of British Heavy- and speed metal evolve into the unstoppable iron plated behemoth known as power metal.

Official site

Buy it here! (Note: That link is to where you can purchase a DVD of the video; the CD and vinyl of the actual album has been out of print for ages, but the band is releasing a two CD anthology in mid-September that contains everything they ever recorded, so grab that when it’s available!)