Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Finland’s Edge of Haze

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, August 15th, 2014

EdgeofHazeband

Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

EdgeofHazeLogo

The phrase “progressive elements” in a promotional blurb can, for the jaded and cynical among us, cause an almost mandatory smirk, narrowed glare and cocking of the head slightly to the left.  It can mean anything from multisectional songwriting to the use of keyboards, from djentrification to the splicing together of disparate musical forms.  Until the results are rendered, it’s hard to be sure what those two words mean.

Once the context words like “Finland” and “gothic rock” and “fans of Junius” take their place, it becomes much easier to discern the direction that Edge of Haze plan to take.  And so much the better.  Their second self-released full-length, Illumine, draws together the strongest qualities of melodic heavy music – commanding vocals, contemplative melodies amid emotive and truly muscular guitar rock, sky-high musical ambition that never loses sight of gut-thrumming ground.  Sure, the keyboards become prominent at times, and there’s some djent here, but the whole of Edge of Haze’s sound turns out to be quite a bit greater than the sum of these parts.

Now, a week before its official release, you can hear Illumine for yourself and find out from bassist Eero Maijala and percussionist Janne Mieskonen all about the band’s intent, process, and experience with, um, man-birth.  And if you like, check out the band on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages for more info.

Edge of Haze began life as Damage.  Can you talk about how that original version came together and what your vision was for it?  How did it grow into being Edge of Haze?

Janne: We formed the band as Damage with Eero in 2007 and were driven by the pure will to play and create music together. We’ve known each other for more than ten years so overall the project was about having fun and trying our limits. The music was more straightforward attitude metal with some alternative influence. After discovering bands like Katatonia and Swallow the Sun we began to write more atmospheric and experimental stuff and pushed the initial sound towards something completely new.

Eero: We became a full five-member band in 2010 and as a result we decided to change the band’s name for something more original and suiting the sound better. The spirit we had has lasted and above all all the band members are best friends with each other.

Janne: Yeah, all of us have been good friends before being in a band together.

Unlike many bands, Edge of Haze started recording music very quickly.  Was original music always a driving reason for the band?

Eero: Definitely! The two of us began writing our own songs with a crappy keyboard and a drum set sometime after we had first met. We recorded those songs into an old MP3 player and we still have that distorted jangle stored somewhere haha. Writing our own original music has always come naturally to us and we never really got into playing covers.

What would you say Edge of Haze is all about for you?  What do you hope it communicates to your audience?

Eero: Discovering, exploring and maintaining our own sound. Using every color of the palette when it comes to songwriting. Being as open-minded as possible band-wise.

Janne: Exactly. We’d like to convey our vision on good music and share the ideas we have behind the songs. I think our music has the ability to get you to a certain state of mind which is always cool. It’s also cool to try to visualize what we’ve been after music- and lyric-wise, for me each song on the new album has its own color and environment.

Do you think anything has changed in your approach since your last album?

Janne: We have expanded the field we operate in with more dynamics, rhythmic elements plus bigger production. I think the songs are more mature, better organized and more interesting than before.

Eero: Janne and I like to call the last album, Mirage, “nightclub metal”, as while listening it you feel like being in an old nightclub from the 50′s with jazz playing, Frank Sinatra etc. We don’t exactly know where this notion came from, I guess it’s just a vision in our heads from the ethereal vibe of the album. The Mirage nightclub is warm and cozy and not really dangerous in any way. As Mirage was like this casual jazz club, Illumine is that same club in a future dystopia. With decayed walls and abandoned hallways, with a lot more edge and danger. And with a very menacing atmosphere.

Janne: Yeah, as Mirage was more like a safe but vague selection of songs we had back then, Illumine is a clear uniform entirety. Each song has its role in the story.

Eero: It was also really cool to work with guys like Acle Kahney, who is primarily known from TesseracT and Tuomas Yli-Jaskari from Tracedawn. These guys really gave the album the sound we were looking for.

Do you have a specific approach to songwriting that you have used multiple times, or has the process been different for each song?  Can you describe that a little bit?  Is it an individual or collaborative process?

Eero: Now that I think about it the process on every song on Illumine was quite similar. Every member of the band has recording equipment at home, and one of us usually gives man-birth to an idea or a full song at his home and sends it to others. Then we begin to work on it, bounce off each others ideas and arrange the final version together as a band.

Janne: Nowadays we have five active composers in the band so all of us are involved in composing and it’s really cool to notice how we all share the same vision what Edge of Haze is supposed to sound like. Every one of us has their own style to contribute with but as we’ve known each other for so long we kinda end up making material that not only sounds like our own but also settles well together.

Do you think Illumine came from a particular emotional or philosophical place, or is each song its own entity?

Janne: Illumine came from the same foundation lyrically since it’s a concept album. I really enjoyed writing the story for I remotely see some association with me and the protagonist. The album is about finding yourself and daring to have an opinion, similar stuff which I’ve been dealing with in real life. I had the original idea for the album while spending a week in a cottage in the middle of wilderness. I had all the time in the world just to think about things and let ideas flow through my head. I somehow ended up imagining a city which represented all the limitations in the world and the place I was in, the wilderness, as the ultimate state of freedom. I really started liking the confrontation and so I made up the story about the transition between those two states. It’s simple, it’s universal and something you can identify yourself with and that’s why it works. I was also inspired by a book called Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden about a North Korean dissenter who had been living his whole life in a miserable prison camp but eventually had the courage to take the leap and attempt an escape. I think that is something to inspire every human.

Are there particular musical ideas you hope to explore more with Edge of Haze?

Eero: As Illumine was recorded almost a year ago, we have some new and unused material for the third record already! If I was to describe the new material I guess it focuses more on singing and little bit simpler song structures, something like Radiohead meets Gojira and Hans Zimmer [haha]. One thing that I’d love to do is to write a totally acoustic song for Edge of Haze in the future and on the other hand a crazy, fast song, kinda like “The Pyre” on Illumine but more twisted. This all is exciting for us too because we don’t yet know where this progress will take us but so far it seems really promising!

Janne: I would like to explore both making straightforward songs and in the other hand pieces that focus on the flow, atmosphere and dynamic building. It’s really exciting to notice how tenuous the limits are for an Edge of Haze song.

Do you have any specific plans/goals for Edge of Haze in the near future?

Eero: We definitely want to perform live more! We have some club gigs booked to support the album but we’d like to do more. So a tour in Finland or Europe would be fantastic.

Janne: There are a couple of music videos coming up too which will keep us busy at least during the fall, stay tuned for those on Youtube! Our singer and guitarist Markus and our good friend Olli Kiikkilä have some real talent on the visual side too and we want to utilize that as much as possible. And then of course we’ll keep on making new music as every member of the band is writing stuff for the new record already.

Eero: Every one of us has their own influences and an own style when it comes to writing music and it is always great to put these ingredients together and see what kind of mixture we’ll end up with!

The Deciblog Presents More “My Awesome Day Job” Content: USA Out of Vietnam Does a Secret Vegan Supper Club. Of Course.

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, videos On: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

deciblog - usa vssfront1

In simplistic terms, I guess one would/could say USA Out of Vietnam is a space rock band. Actually, the Montreal outfit is a genre-defying entity that incorporates elements of everything from psychedelia, shoegaze and black metal to doom, noise rock and Angelo Badalamenti-sounding soundtrack stuff. The band has a new record out on New Damage called Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes which is fully representative of their sub-genre use, abuse and broadstroking. In the run up to the release of said debut full-length a couple of months ago, we were informed by their handlers that the band’s keyboardist/singer, Blankie had a day job that involved going cooking vegan meals for families in the homes of upper crust Montrealers. The reality is that while this has been a part of their repertoire, a bigger piece of their employment puzzle comes from the vegan supper club (Vegan Secret Supper) run out of locations in Montreal and New York. Still sounds like a pretty sweet gig to our ears, so in-between preparations of “romanesco soup, bruleed figs with bergamont, mango tamarind-battered cauliflower, white chocolate puff pastry, house-made root beer, date toffee chocolates and marbled cashew mousse” [all dishes from a recent Montreal menu] we poked around to ask what’s what.

Let’s start with some of your background. How long have you been a chef? Did you always specialise in vegan food? Any formal training?
I’ve been cooking for about seven years. Vegan has always been what I cook, as I learned to cook as a vegan basically. I have no formal training. I worked a restaurant one time in Vancouver as an on call fill in for a bit but have always been on my own.

I’ve been told you actually go into rich people’s homes and cook for them at their places. How did you fall into this line of work?
I actually cook at my home and people come to me. It’s [called Vegan Secret Supper and it's] like a supper club or an underground restaurant, if you will. Every once and a while, I cook at fancy people’s houses, but I truly would rather not and it’s quite awkward. Since I have lived and done VSS in a few cities, I travel a lot to do it. I was living in New York and some of those clients let me take over their house and do supper clubs back in New York when I [would] go down about once a month from Montreal.

When working for one family, would you work for them full-time or do you go from home/family to home/family? Do you cook all their meals or only if they’re having a dinner party or something?
Maybe not so applicable. Never been a private chef…though I was supposed to be Ben Stiller’s private chef this past spring in Vancouver, but I turned it down when I realized it wouldn’t just be me and Ben high-fiving in Whole Foods picking out granola together.

One of these folks knows how to make birch syrup glazed sourdough doughnuts filled with orange curd…
deciblog - usa band

What’s an easier work setting: someone’s private home or a restaurant?
Since I do most of the suppers at my home, that’s definitely the best. It’s comfortable for me, and you as a diner get the whole experience of being in my zone. I don’t like going to other homes because it’s like catering and I have to get everything ready and be scared I’m gonna burn the people’s fancy pots or break something. As for a restaurant, it’s a very different thing for sure; I haven’t done it much, but I’d say my house. Who doesn’t wanna just cook at home in your underwear? Ok, I totally don’t do that but the “feeling” is there.

Because you’re working right there and they know and see you, do you find the people you cook for to be not as overtly picky about some part of the meal that’s not to their liking as opposed to restaurant patrons who, because you’re in a more faceless position, will send food back and complain openly?
I think because it’s more of an experience to come into a house set up as a restaurant and because it’s vegan, vegan people are always so pumped to be there. It’s not like a restaurant where you have no idea what mood people are in and where they came from, maybe they’re in a rush or something, but my supper club is a plan they’ve made and if they weren’t excited to come they probably wouldn’t have come! I have never had food sent back.

What’s the most ridiculous meal you’ve ever been asked to make by any of your employers?
I wish I had a good answer for this. I guess I get requests when I do a private supper; like once I got, make me “yellow cake.” I know that’s a thing, but really have no idea the difference between white and yellow, really. Oh, this other guy once when I did a private supper in New York told me to “make sure to wash the greens well if you serve them”. Ok, dad.

Seeing as some of the people you work for have been described as “well-off,” what’s the most extravagant thing you’ve seen or experienced on the job?
The people who come to supper club range from kids like me to 86-year-olds who bused across town to the very wealthy. The mix of that is pretty cool to see all at one table in my house in Bed-Stuy. The “wash the greens guy” rolled up to his private supper with his case of wine in his Mercedes and asked me for a discount and to get another person in for free. I was like, ummm, no thank you.

Have you ever travelled with someone or a family as their private chef on a vacation or something like that?
Could have been Ben if he was lucky enough to have me.

Does anyone know you’re in a band? What happens when you leave to go on tour – do people starve or relapse and start going to Burger King three times a day until you get back?
I doubt anyone knows I’m in a band…I am a minimal talker cause if I talk to people to much I’ll just make an inappropriate joke. Yes, there is some sobbing. They get pats on the back.

Email interviews are convenient, but I always feel like I’m missing something. Is there anything else you feel needs mentioning or that I missed?
I dunno, there’s a website here if you wanna look at it. I had a book come out last year. Maybe it’ll give you a bit more info on what I actually do.

Vegansecretsupper.com
It’s on Facebook, too.
And Tumblr.

Oh, yeah, there’s a band to check out as well: USA Out of Vietnam
Watch their “Leg of Lamb” video:

Decibrity Playlist: Young Widows (Part 2)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, August 14th, 2014

YoungWidows_by Amber Estes Thieneman_1 comp

Last week, we brought you the beginning of Evan Patterson’s “dark country and folk” playlist. In two-and-a-half years of doing these, it’s safe to say that his picks–most of which originated on 7″ singles–are some of the more obscure, yet fascinating, we’ve encountered. While Part 1 tackled tracks from 1956 to 1963 (don’t miss the fuzz on Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry”), Part 2 covers tunes from 1966 to 1971. Young Widows‘ guitarist/vocalist even threw in a bonus playlist that you can check out after perusing his 13 other selections. What a guy. While you’re at it, be sure to pick up a copy of his band’s latest LP, Easy Pain, here.

Fred Neil’s “The Dolphins” (from 1966′s Fred Neil)
While Fred Neil is more folk than country, his voice is as dark and as low as folk could get, and has gotten since. Even though he was a part of the Greenwich Village scene, I see him as being a bit more of a country singer. He wrote songs for Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison in the ’50s, and was a fill-in, on set singer for Elvis’s early films. “The Dolphins” is off Fred Neil’s self-titled third album, which features his more well-known number “Everybody’s Talkin’”. Later in 1969, “Everybody’s Talkin’” was made famous by Harry Nilsson. I like thinking that “The Dolphins” isn’t actually about dolphins, but after Fred Neil retired from music he moved to Florida to refocus his life on the preservation of dolphins. Wild. I’m betting most of his time was spent lounging on a sailboat until he died of skin cancer in 2001.

Nancy Sinatra’s “Lightning’s Girl” (from 1967′s “Lightning’s Girl”/”Until It’s Time For You To Go” 7″ single)
The first time I heard “Lightning’s Girl”, I was floored by its arrangement and production. The kick drum might be the best sounding recording of a kick drum I’ve heard. The dark fuzz guitar, string section, choogling bass line, king-of-the-jungle operatic background singing and the threatening lyrics are a combination unlike any other. The powerful and direct Nancy Sinatra, daughter of Frank, doesn’t beat around the bush with Lee Hazlewood’s pitchfork in her hands. They were out to kill with this song, and kill they did. “Lightning’s Girl” is a theatrical song and again, Hazlewood has no rules or guidelines with his writing or production. A Billy Strange arrangement and an absolutely epic country song.

Mickey Newbury’s “How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song)” (from 1968′s Harlequin Melodies)
Mickey Newbury…well, he just dropped in to be one of the most prolific songwriters to ever walk the face of this tiny planet. He has influenced many, many artists and songwriters. His legacy will continue to influence many, many more. In this song, the tension between the hollow percussive plucked fiddle strings and Mickey’s charred dense voice is unlike any I’ve felt while listening to a song. “How Many Times” is off Mickey’s debut album Harlequin Melodies. From beginning to end, a perfect country album.

Roy Drusky’s “Such A Fool” (from 1969′s My Grass Is Green)
Roy Drusky had too many records. I discovered him last year when I purchased his New Lips album for a dollar. From what I can tell, the album is a collection of singles that came out in 1969 and prior. It features “Jody and the Kid”, one of the first Kris Kristofferson songs to ever be recorded. When Drusky stretches out “Such a Foooooooooool,” I can’t help but smile.

Jody Reynolds’ “Endless Sleep” (from 1969′s “Endless Sleep”/”My Baby’s Eyes” 7″ single)
Like Sanford Clark’s “The Fool”, “Endless Sleep” is a bit of a rockabilly country crossover. The original 1958 version actually features the same guitarist as “The Fool”, Al Casey, who was a sidekick to Lee Hazlewood on his early productions. I prefer the darker, more haunting and reverb drenched harmonica 1969 version of this song. I can only imagine that this is a true reflection of Reynolds’ tiresome attitude–he had to be sick to death of performing the song for well over a decade. A group from Vancouver called The Poppy Family did an even darker cover version of “Endless Sleep” in 1969 that I might enjoy more, but it doesn’t fit this playlist’s theme. The 1958 version was Jody Reynolds’ first single and his second was the song “Fire of Love”, which later was covered by MC5 and The Gun Club. The Gun Club even named its album after the song. Reynolds eventually started working with Hazlewood and in the late ’70s had signed on to write songs for this singer named Elvis, but Elvis died just before recording any of Reynolds’ tunes.

Karen Dalton’s “Same Old Man” (from 1971′s In My Own Time)
Like Fred Neil, Karen Dalton is a Greenwich Village folk artist. The song was arranged by Steve Weber. Weber was a founding member of The Holy Modal Rounders. The droning strings, the traditional banjo and her incredible creeping voice together make a sound that I can’t get enough of. “Same Old Man” is from her album In My Own Time. The album is more upbeat, bluesy folk–it’s great, but “Same Old Man” is a truly unique folk song that will be held timelessly above the rest.

Bonus playlist of inspiring voices:

Love’s “Signed D.C.” (from 1966′s Love)
Captain Beefheart’s “Blabber ‘N Smoke” (from 1972′s The Spotlight Kid)
Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” (from 1973′s For Your Pleasure)
Iggy Pop’s “Mass Production” (from 1977′s The Idiot)
Public Image Ltd.’s “Flowers of Romance” (from 1981′s The Flowers Of Romance)
Wipers’ “Romeo” (from 1983′s Over The Edge)
Crime & The City Solution’s “Hunter” (from 1988′s Shine)
Scott Walker’s “Face On A Breast” (from 1995′s Tilt)
The For Carnation’s “Emp. Man Blues” (from 2000′s The For Carnation)
Smog’s “Song” (from 2001′s Rain On Lens)
Angels of Light’s “Evangeline” (from 2001′s How I Loved You)
Mark Lanegan’s “Hit The City” (from 2004′s Bubblegum)

*Photo by Amber Estes Thieneman

**Pick up a copy of Young Widows’ Easy Pain here and check them out on the following dates opening for Minus The Bear:

10/21 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
10/22 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
10/23 Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
10/24 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock
10/25 Des Moines, IA – Wolly’s

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Metal Yoga With André Foisy #4

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, tv, videos On: Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

LOCRIAN-A-572x381

André Foisy plays guitar in Locrian and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches in Chicago, including a monthly candlelit yoga event set to dark ambient metal. You can find his yoga teaching schedule and more information about him on his website, Facebook page, and you can find past instructional videos on his YouTube channel.

This post is about a pose that feels like a massage that just about anyone can do just about anywhere: shoulder shrugs.

People that sit at desks a lot, drive a lot, or carry heavy amplifiers around often round the shoulders forward, which tends to weaken the upper and mid-back muscles. [If you look at metal band promo photos, then you’ll probably notice a lot of people that round their shoulders forward.] When the upper and mid-back muscles get weak, then people tend to get neck pain and tight shoulders.

Shoulder shrugs will gently strengthen the upper and mid-back muscles and help to to increase shoulder mobility and release tension in the shoulders, neck and back.

Watch this video to learn how to do the pose properly.

Tips:
• Don’t push the head forward; keep the back of your skull bones over your sacrum;
• Keep the chin parallel to the floor, so that the neck doesn’t strain;
• Keep the arms relaxed so that this pose isolates the upper back and shoulder muscles;
• Don’t round the shoulders forward between rounds

Do this a lot and notice how you feel. Specifically, if you do this frequently, then notice how your range of feeling and movement changes over time.

Sucker For Punishment: Tumbleweeds

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

band01

It’s another light week for new releases, and mercifully so for yours truly, who is currently recovering from a hot and loud weekend at Heavy Montreal, where the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Twisted Sister (who totally ruled), Voivod, Municipal Waste, Exodus, and dozens more bands played to around 40,000 people over two days. Fellow Decibel contributor Kevin Stewart-Panko could not have disagreed more in regards to Babymetal’s performance – you can probably guess which one of us dug it – but we both agreed that the kids in Unlocking the Truth just might be the real deal after all. Anyway, be sure to catch his recap in Decibel the magazine soon.

In the meantime, although there are a few decent albums this week, they’re all eclipsed by my non-metal choice this week, which is a major Album of the Year contender. And besides, one of the best metal albums of 2014 comes out next week, so you might want to save your hard-earned cash for that one.

Abysmal Lord, Storms Of Unholy Black Mass (Hells Headbangers): The problem with this most primitive form of death metal is not the atmosphere, these Louisiana guys have that suffocating, dank atmosphere nailed. No, the real crux is the fact that the guitars sound so dense in this deliberately lo-fi production that the second the music kicks into blastbeat-driven sections, all sense of melody disappears. Contrast that with the band’s brilliant, Asphyx-style doom passages, and it becomes frustrating. Your mind subconsciously follows that melodic pattern, than the whole thing speeds up, all sense of melody vanishes, and you’re lost. I love you, Hells Headbangers, but I can’t fully recommend this one.

Atara / Miserable Failure, Hang Them (Kaotoxin): Personally I find Atara to be the more interesting of these two French bands on this split release, their form of grindcore is more controlled, disciplined and metal than the manic, punk-derived Miserable Failure, leaning more towards the crusty, old-timey Brutal Truth side of the genre. Still, though, these two bands complement each other very well on this release.

Evil United, Honored By Fire (MVD): Led by vocalist Jason McMaster, who us old-timers remember best as the leader of sleaze rockers Dangerous Toys, Evil United focuses more on classic speed metal, combining double-time tempos, thrashy rhythm riffs and flashy harmonies, and vocal histrionics like classic Exciter and Helstar. Aside from the odd regression into metalcore breakdowns, which are frankly beneath these guys, this is a surprisingly good, not to mention energetic release.

Funerary, Starless Aeon (Midnite Collective): This relatively new band from Phoenix focuses on the more outwardly horrific side of doom metal, with plenty of ultra-low notes and riffs plodding along like the most morbid of funeral processions. Interestingly, though, is a stateliness to the music that’s very reminiscent of Neurosis, bringing mournful gravitas to all the gimmickry, giving the music substance and depth. They’re not quite fully there yet, but a track like “Beneath the Black Veil” shows they’re well on their way. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Grifter, Return Of The Bearded Brethren (Ripple): Swaggering, swinging, groovy heavy metal, much like Orange Goblin but featuring singing, which will endear these Brits to the Clutch crowd. It’s very good stuff, although if you ask me I will always prefer The Grifters to Grifter.

John 5, Careful With That Axe (60 Cycle Hum): Typical of most solo albums by metal shredders, this is all noodling all the time, but what separates John 5 from the rest is just how playful he makes it all sound. There plenty here to make Guitar World readers and Guitar Center loiterers salivate, but to folks who couldn’t care less about technique, this album manages to keep the mood light and fun, veering from style to style with a manic energy that often resembles that of Devin Townsend.

Rabbits, Untoward (Lamb Unlimited): The Portland noise band is at it again, churning about abrasive, often obnoxious compositions that bear an uncanny resemblance to Melvins and Harvey Milk. Sludgy, sloppy yet deceptively clever, and always, always ugly. So ugly, in fact, that you kind of want to come up for air afterwards, just go outside and enjoy some sun. The mood on this record is that sour, and in this band’s case, mission accomplished. They’ve come to ruin your day.

Slaughterday, Ravenous (FDA Rekotz): The likeable German band follow up last year’s fun Nightmare Vortex with an EP’s worth of, once again, no-frills death metal in the early-‘90s Swedish tradition, pulled off in very convincing fashion.

Upon a Burning Body, The World Is My Enemy Now (Sumerian): Kiddiecore as instantly forgettable as this band’s name.

Not metal, but totally worth hearing:

FKA Twigs, LP1 (XL): Sometimes it’s easy to cynically gauge hype as simply the product of a collective hive mind, but once in a rare while the buzz surrounding a new artist is simply because the level of talent on display is undeniable. Singer-songwriter Tahlia Barnett, whose work under the moniker FKA Twigs has been generating more and more interest over the last 12 months, has delivered on the promise of her early work with an astonishing debut album that combines the glitchy, poppy charm of Grimes with the murky sexuality of Tricky’s classic Maxinquaye, yet is so unconventional, “Pendulum”, “Lights Off”, “Closer”, and “Two Weeks” coming across as a wholly original product of a wicked, vivid imagination.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy

VIDEO PREMIERE: Funeral Horse’s “Stoned and Furious”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, videos On: Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

funeral horse

Funeral Horse clearly watch the same terrible shot-on-VHS 80s movies that I do, because their video for “Stoned and Furious” captures them perfectly: the dead-on framing, the cheap sets, the “acting.” That’s enough reason to watch the video on its own, but hey, throw in some some quality stoner punk and you have yourself a winner. You don’t even have to break out your old VCR! Just click below and enjoy.

***Sinister Rites of the Master is out now courtesy of Artificial Head. You can order it here.

Alekhine’s Gun Fits Queens For A “Crown of Knives”

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured, videos On: Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

563049_508522715853470_249645901_n

Force of nature.

Is there a phrase that better encapsulates the pure transcendent fury actress/frontwoman/fool crusher Jessica Pimentel exudes during a performance by genre bending extreme metallers Alekhine’s Gun?

Maybe, maybe not. That sort of charisma and élan is admittedly difficult to bind up in words — as anyone privileged enough to have been on hand for the band’s roiling, perception-leveling set at Blackthorn in Queens a couple weeks back will no doubt attest.

By way of proof, Decibel presents exclusive video of Alekhine’s Gun performing “Crown of Knives (Tsoncha Korlo)” below…

The track is available for free download as part of the excellent compilation, NYC Sucks: Volume 4. The first Alekhine’s Gun EP, Meditations in Wrath, can be procured via Bandcamp. The brilliant Jeanne Fury dug into the juncture of metal and Pimentel’s role on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black here.

Q&A with Pure Hell on Innovation, Evolution and the ’70s Punk Scene

By: Laina Dawes Posted in: featured On: Monday, August 11th, 2014

purehellband

Pure Hell are known for three things: 1) being the first all African-American punk band; 2) having a wickedly cool band name; and 3) being the focus of a very popular online photo from 1978, depicting the quartet with dyed, glow-in-the-dark, chemically-straightened hair and ill-advised face paint. Formed in Philadelphia in 1974, they were inspired by both the political and socially-charged climate and the musical rebellion they admired within the proto-punk scene. The band was never a commercial success in North America, but within New York City’s notorious ’70s glam/punk enclaves, they were well-respected and considered an inspiration, cultivating a following in England via their single, 1978’s cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and the B-side, “No Rules.”

Legal and personal disputes caused Pure Hell’s debut album, 1980’s Noise Addiction, to be shelved for 28 years, and selected tracks from their second, 1992′s never-released The Black Box  (produced by Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister with contributions from members of Nine Inch Nails and LA Guns) were only recently made available online. The band initally broke up in 1980, but later regrouped in Los Angeles in 1990, and despite original drummer Michael “Spider” Sanders’ death in 2008, the band continues on, playing select dates around the New York/Philadelphia area and in Europe.

The Deciblog emailed  founder/vocalist Kenny “Stinker” Gordon, who is currently writing a book on Pure Hell, to get some background on this legendary band.

How did you meet the other members in Philadelphia? 

Michael [Sanders] moved into my house in 1972 and we formed a bass and drum rhythm section. By 1974, after playing a talent show at my college prep school as Pretty Poison, I renamed the band Pure Hell before venturing up to New York City that same year.

Philadelphia had a clique of musicians and recreational drug users that hung out around the Samson Street Village and went to concerts, but we grew up in the same vicinity. We had similar perceptions and taste in music, and leaned toward the musical innovations that certain bands and artists at that time were making. We had album collections comprised of Miles Davis’ Live Evil, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pink Floyd’s Relics, the Stooges, and Hendrix. Being so close to New York, we had access to imports.

You are known as the “first black punk rock band.” I imagine that while all kids are influenced by the popular music of their generation, It must have been a bit odd because not too many African-American rock bands existed during that time. What was the reaction from your friends and family members when you started playing punk rock?

Actually, my mother bought the first bass and amplifier I had. It was during the Civil Rights era at the end of the 1960s and into the ’70s. It was obvious that people like Gil Scott-Heron and Alice Cooper were making statements. Punk rock was a movement, breaking the remaining restraints of convention after the “love and peace” thing of the ’60s. We were ahead of our time, and most people around us wanted to go come along for the ride.

PHCOVER1

There is a pretty famous 1978 picture of the four members wearing makeup and various colored hair. Who was responsible for your look? 

This model named Charlotte from Switzerland and Rose Taylor [Mick Taylor's ex-wife].  When we were in London, she took us to Ricci Burns Salon on Kings Road to make us over, like their friends the Rolling Stones.

Were there any concerns that people would look at you as more of a novelty as an all-black punk band, not taking your musical talent into account?

At our peak, we were one of those bands that thrived on blistering an audience. Unfortunately the “cause” of that era simmered, and the original scene died with Sid [Vicious] by 1980. Some adapted to the radio-friendly industry; others came apart simply by burning both ends of the candle. We had the spotlight to display the musical substance of the band and, frankly, a couple of us decided not to take full advantage of the opportunity. I think it “concerned”some people because they couldn’t figure how we were involved in the very essence of punk, like Television and Johnny Thunders before he formed the Heartbreakers. Though the original Pure Hell lineup released one album before disbanding in 1980, Spider and I put the band back together for extended recordings [in 1990] before he died. I currently have prominent irons in the fire that don’t want to talk about, as I wouldn’t want to jinx it.

I thought the sound on the released tracks from The Black Box wasn’t specifically “punk,” but a hybrid of metal and punk. Did working with Lemmy , and/or your move from New York to L.A. have anything to do with the heavier, more muscular sound?

L.A. had character during the late ’80s through the mid-’90s. It is the American film and entertainment industry, right? Lemmy produced and played on some of those extended recordings because Motörhead was on [1977’s] Geef Voor New Wave compilation LP along with the Adverts, Generation X, the Sex Pistols and others. Lemmy played bass with the Damned under the name the Doomed in 1979. So, he worked with us, but the influence was our own.

We were just flexing our weight and clout of our friends that we were working with. Different genres of music had risen since the birth of punk. The sound is what it is. The [Los Angeles] riots were happening between some of those sessions.

There were some legal issues pertaining to the delayed release of Noise Addiction. How was it received when it finally saw the light?

Better than I would have imagined. It was surprising for Henry Rollins to be so enthused [that] he placed it on his playlist at Indie 103.1 FM in Los Angeles, and the units moved within European markets. It’s a shame such a fiasco took place early on during our Holland and England debut tour in 1978.  Back then, there were too many irons in the fire of the negative kind that had to be gotten rid of.

Where did you find the most acceptance of your music, and besides the upcoming book project, what are your future plans?

Europe was where we had the largest platform, so the prominent irons currently in the fire include a possible return there after many years, and the same for California.

 

John Browne (Monuments) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, August 11th, 2014

monuments_progmetal_decibel_2014

** UK/US prog metallers—the ‘djent’ tag is now deprecated—Monuments have a new album out, The Amanuensis. If you can’t pronounce ‘amanuensis’ or don’t know what it means, well, guitarist/songwriter John Browne provides an explanation below. Now joined by ex-Periphery vocalist Chris Barretto, Monuments are stronger than ever. The Amanuensis is a more straight-forward effort, but it’s no less impressive—technically speaking for the eggheads in attendance—than predecessor Gnosis. Read on as Browne details The Amanuensis, Barretto’s praise-worthy traits, and what his mum likes about Monuments.

Some have labeled Monuments ‘djent’. What do you make of genres or classifications of your music?
John Browne: Music is music. It has the same 12 notes as any other music, the only difference is the way it’s expressed, so we use pretty silly words to try and explain the sound. The word ‘djent’ makes no sense whatsoever to describe a genre, the tone that it references isn’t really utilized by many bands that are classed as it. I feel progressive metal is a much better reference to our music, with a huge dose of groove.

How is The Amanuensis a different record from its predecessors?
John Browne: The most obvious difference is the change of vocalist. We enlisted Chris Barretto (ex-Periphery, Ever Forthright, Sexamaphone) to take over vocal duties. So, automatically that’s made this record sound notably different. It’s definitely focusing on big groovy hooks. Instrumentally, the music is more traditionally structured. However, the riffs are still as crazy as the Gnosis.

What’s your favorite moment or song on The Amanuensis? Something you’d tell your mum about maybe.
John Browne: I really like the chorus of “The Alchemist”. It’s really simplistic, but I think that part will sound big and open when we play it live. I also dig the “End of the world” ending of “I, The Destroyer”. I can’t really focus on one part or song. All of the songs I’m happy with how they all turned out. I know my mum will blast this out of her car like she did with Gnosis. She loves groove.

What is an amanuensis?
John Browne: The word ‘amanuensis’ means script writer. Someone who will write down something they are dictated, I guess like an audit.

Lyrically, what are you going after?
John Browne: The album is about the Samsara cycle, the cyclical existence of life that we are all bound to. Chris has written an entire story around the lyrics. Maybe that will see the light one day! It’s the story of Samsara.

Any guests that help you destroy on The Amanuensis?
John Browne: No guests on this album. As it’s Chris’ first album, we wanted the focus on him.

What’s it like with Chris Barretto up front?
John Browne: Amazing. It’s such a relief to not have to worry if he will sing his parts in tune and time. He’s a musician and it’s really easy to bounce ideas off of him.

How is this lineup different from previous iterations? I gather it was more of a side-project when Monuments originally kicked off.
John Browne: Monuments was originally a side-project with myself and Joshua Travis (Glass Cloud, ex-Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza). We had one of our tracks played on Radio 1 in 2007 as track of the week.

You produced The Amanuensis at a few different studios with a few different producers. What was it like to work through and finalize the new record?
John Browne: We produced the drums at Monnow Valley studio in Wales with Romesh Dodangoda. It sounds great, all natural and fun! Vocals were produced by Eyal Levi at Audiohammer Studios. They also sound incredible. I handled the guitars, bass, mixing and mastering myself at my studio, Bear Noize Studio. We did the drums in four days, guitars/bass in about 30 days and vocals took a whooping 43 days (sorry, Eyal). We stripped back for this record feel metal has lost the ‘live’ element of production. All bands sound too perfect and albums aren’t really a true representation of what the band actually sound like in a live setting. We stripped it back. We wanted to give everyone what we actually sound like, with us actually playing the instruments. We didn’t use one drum trigger on the album. The final result is great!

What do you want fans to walk away with after listening to The Amanuensis?
John Browne: Hopefully, they feel like they had the journey that was intended. It’s a pretty relentless record, but with some huge vocal hooks. We’re hoping this album will get stuck in peoples heads. It was a lot of fun to write.

** Monuments’ new album, The Amanuensis, is out now on CD and vinyl. It’s available HERE in a few cool configurations.

STREAMING: Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats “Runaway Girls”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, August 8th, 2014

uncleacidandthedeadbeats_stonerrock_decibel_2014

One of the coolest bands on the planet are UK psych-rock-doom outfit Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats. Having come off a strong third album in 2013′s Mind Control, Uncle A is poking their tweed ‘n’ weed heads out of the bong water long enough for the lucky among us to hear new tune, “Runaway Girls”. Pivoted off the same early ’70s Sabbath/fuzzball vibe, “Runaway Girls” sounds like a true late summer winner. It has that slow August feel, where the days are long and the sun burns a warm amber.

“My approach to writing is pretty much the same every time,” Kevin “K.R.” Starrs revealed to the Quietus. “We recorded Mind Control slightly differently from the other albums in that we went into a studio for two weeks solid and did everything at once. It was pretty intense and I’m not sure if I’d want to do it in that way again. I think the best way is to break it up over the space of a few months, live with the recordings for a bit until you start hearing it differently and then work on them again. I like the idea of going into the studio for a few days at a time and then taking a break from it all.”

Sit back, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, and roll into the weekend cool-like with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats. “Runaway Girls”.

Catch Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats on tour:
9/24: Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
9/25: Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
9/26: New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
9/27: Montreal, QC @ Il Motore
9/28: Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
9/30: Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
10/1: Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
10/3: Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
10/4: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
10/6: Seattle, WA @ Neumos
10/7: Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw
10/8: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
10/10: San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
10/11: Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theater – SOLD OUT
10/12: Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theater

** Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats’ new 7″ Runaway Girls is out soon on Rise Above Records. While the pre-order for Runaway Girls isn’t available yet, check out these super products from Uncle A. Click HERE.