Armand Majidi (Sick of it All) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, October 20th, 2014

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** Decibel Hall of Famers Sick of it All know what it’s like to persevere. They’ve been around longer than most of us have been alive, toiling in the unsteady waters of hardcore/punk like strongmen of the Five Burroughs. Well, the legends have returned in the shape of new album, Last Act Of Defiance. It takes the Koller brothers and the rest of Sick of it All back to the group’s roots, the classic era of New York hardcore. Read on as drummer Armand Majidi rifles through our questions.

This new album, Last Act Of Defiance, is a return to the classic New York hardcore sound. Why go back to that sound at this stage in Sick of it All’s career?
Armand Majidi: We try to vary the songs we write, and therefore albums are also varied. If this one sounds like we’ve come full circle, then it’s because it’s still us writing the music, and we want to play to the strengths of the genre.

What is hardcore/punk to you?
Armand Majidi: It’s aggressive folk music that comes from passion and the gut, and the more honest and humble the musician, the better the song. It’s one of the only genres where technical musical genius doesn’t mean a better delivery. Anyone can be a part of it, as long as their heart is in the right place.

What was it like writing Last Act Of Defiance? Pretty easy or did you find yourselves searching for inspiration?
Armand Majidi: Every artist goes through dry spells, but this wasn’t one. I remember having much harder times with songwriting back in the ’90s. We write about frustrations a lot, and the world seems to always throw plenty of those at us. Maybe it’s because we’re older and have a keener sense of the matrix, but the blatant alliance between world government and media has given us a wealth of issues to draw from.

I hear there are guests on this record. Who are they and what did they do?
Armand Majidi: Joe from Wisdom in Chains makes a guest vocal appearance on the song “Facing the Abyss.” He’s got such a strong voice and sense of melody, that he adds a lot to whatever music he makes.

What happens first in Sick of it All? Lyrics or music?
Armand Majidi: Music. If there ever have been lyrics written beforehand, they’re always altered to fit an existing piece of music.

Sick of it All has always been about message. Do you think kids these days have unfortunately acclimated to the messenger, like Sick of it All?
Armand Majidi: It’s hard to say who the “kids” are nowadays. We see a lot of loyal fans who still come to our shows and understand everything we do. There have always been bands that deliberately write shallow, meaningless lyrics, which appeal to shallow people, or funny lyrics that appeal to the willfully ignorant. If it seems like we’re one of the only bands left seems indignant and discontented with the big picture, then music around us has stopped being revolutionary.

You’ve recorded with Tue Madsen before. What is it about Tue that makes you want to go back?
Armand Majidi: Not only do we get along famously, but he has always understood how to capture the band’s intensity in the quietly controlled, less-than-intense studio setting. It was always difficult for us to find an engineer who could capture our live sound before meeting Tue, so now that we’ve found him, he’s our guy.

Why did you record in New York this time?
Armand Majidi: We wanted to stay close to our families, now that three out of the four members have children.

What do you want fans to walk away with after hearing the new album?
Armand Majidi: I want them to feel that they just heard a hardcore record that has everything, from blistering speed to bouncing groove, to heavy and pounding to bright and melodic. I want them to see that there’s nothing stale about our energy.

What keeps Sick of it All going for all these years? Think you got another 10-15 years in you?
Armand Majidi: Who knows? It’s almost like the world has made us what we are, and not the other way around, so it’s more up to the world than to us. If we can continually provide a positive influence on crowds and future music, then why stop?

** Sick of it All’s new album, Last Act Of Defiance, is out now on Century Media Records. It’s available HERE on CD, vinyl, and in bundles with a t-shirt. Raise up!

Fight Amp Studio Report, Part II

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Friday, October 17th, 2014

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By Mike McGinnis

Positive and negative. Quiet and loud. Angst and ease. Can’t have one without the other.

This is a primary concept we’ve been working with on our new record and trying to incorporate as much contrast as possible in both the sound and the themes without steering too far from the sound we’ve previously crafted for ourselves. As much as we’re using this theme to our advantage, it’s bound to come through in the studio process. There are sessions that are easy as pie, and ones that send you home rethinking all of your methods.

We re-entered Gradwell House Studios after a couple week layover to clear our ears. We previously had finished all of the instrumental tracking, and I just had to go back in to track all of my remaining second guitar tracks and a few accent tracks for noise and leads and some other small nuances.

The guitar tracking was cake, and usually is, as the pressure is off and once I get a good tone dialed in I can blast through the songs in just a few hours max. My secondary guitar rig looked like this: Gibson SG > RAT > MXR Micro Amp > Musicman HD150 > Marshall 4×12 / Peavey Classic 100 > Marshall 4×12. Pretty basic tube amp rig through 12″ speakers. Sounded killer.

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Another short layover, and we returned for the most trying process on any Fight Amp record; the vocals. We’re consciously trying to move our vocals into some new territory with this record, so we demo’d the vocals and have been working every week in the space since well before tracking the music to lock in the exact patterns, melodies and harmonies we expect to hear once we’re in the booth.
We also used a technique we haven’t in the past and are running a second vocal track through a guitar amp to get some natural distortion and reverb in our headphones while tracking to give it a feel similar to a shitty practice space PA system, which is right in our wheelhouse.

Once we hit the first vocal session, it was obvious that it all had paid off, as Jon in particular, who writes most of the lyrics and patterns and does most of the vocal heavy lifting, was able to belt out a couple of our A side tracks pretty easily, and hit a comfort zone that he probably hasn’t hit before in previous sessions. I got in there and finished up one of my main vocal tracks and did backups on the ones Jon had sung and also had a pretty easy-going session, and after 6 hours we had wrapped up 3 of the 8 songs we’re working on. Definitely a productive outing, and the end product is something we’ve never been as stoked on vocally for this band.

After taking these home and sitting on them for another week, we entered Gradwell again to continue the process. This time we invited two ex Fight Amp members, Rebecca Burchette (who played and sang on our first LP ‘Hungry For Nothing’, and now plays in Multicult) and Patrick Troxell (who sang on our first 7″ and now plays in Creepoid) to hang out and contribute some vocals to a couple songs.

It was awesome getting everyone together and having them contribute. There guys are still family to us, and this was the first time we had this group of five people in the same room in a long time. We’re huge fans of both bands these two play in these days, and in fact, Creepoid was just visiting Philly for a few days after completing an 80 day tour, and we were somehow able to line up the schedule to get Pat in to contribute before they split for their new hometown, Savannah GA.

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So needless to say, both Pat and Rebecca killed it. We got exactly what we needed pretty quickly, had some beers and caught up, and then got back to work on the main Fight Amp vocals. But like I mentioned in the beginning, you can’t have an awesome session without knowing the struggles of a rough session, and now was the time for us to hit a few walls. Jon had some trouble singing the next song the way he wanted, so we moved on before we dug in too deep. Dan and I were able to complete our short parts in that same song, and then we sent Jon back in for another song, but he was having the same issues. Just not getting the right energy, performance or pitch.

Jon decided to cut himself out of the session and just pick up on the following one, and we were able to get a few more of my vocal tracks done. But even at the end of the session, we moved to one of my main vocal songs and I could not find the right way to sing it after spinning our wheels all night long. We started to get past midnight and had been working all night, so exhaustion was setting in and was getting harder to focus. Of course we found the proper approach for this song right as we ended the session, which should make it one of the easier songs to complete next time through.

So with the good comes the bad, and hitting walls vocally is something this band is certainly used to and is actually a productive thing, as we now know what DOESN’T work and basically have the exact method that needs to happen next time honed in. The next session should wrap us up vocally, and we can finally get to the mixing sessions that we’ve been so anxious to reach so we can start showing everyone what we’ve had up our sleeve. Stay tuned.

** Fight Amp’s new album is out Spring 2015 on Brutal Panda Records. Keep your limbs peeled for pre-orders and other cool announcements.

King Parrot Fly the North American Skies!

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, tours On: Friday, October 17th, 2014

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Two years ago, Aussie weirdos King Parrot’s debut full-length, Bite Your Head Off, unloaded itself on that continent.  Candlelight Records then released the album Stateside late last year, and the band of screwy-grindy-thrash-loving dudes have been flapping back and forth between land masses to support their renewed new-act status.

We had a chance to ask King Parrot about everything tour related, just in time for their Pittsburgh show (tonight!), and check out the list of remaining tour dates below the interview.  If King Parrot head your way in the next couple months, support!

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How big of a deal is it to tour North America?  How difficult is it to make the trip, have gear available, make travel arrangements to get to all the shows, etc?

For us it has been the next logical step.  We’ve toured Australia a lot off the back of our debut album Bite Your Head Off. It was only released in the US earlier this year so we are a new band in North America and its cool. It’s like starting out again, and because of the way we perform and our accents, people look at us sideways and confused. It was like that in Australia at the beginning too, we’re a weird band, its a pretty confronting show but at the same time it’s always light hearted and fun. The music is obviously pretty extreme so we just try and put on a great entertaining high-energy show, and not take ourselves too seriously.

Obviously a lot of planning goes into coming over here, so that’s why we’ve done extensive tours and made the most of our time here. It seems to be paying off. Visas and travel arrangements are always time consuming but essential, and we now have great people working with the band here in the US that makes it somewhat easier. We love touring and we just can’t do it this extensively in Australia, so we need to be here and hopefully in Europe soon too. We are focusing on the US and Canada right now though and hopefully Europe next year.

What have you enjoyed about touring with King Parrot?  What have audiences been like?

I think we all get along pretty well, we’ve had a few little line-up changes along the way, but the guys in the band now all loving touring. We are all good friends too, so that really helps. The fact that we get to travel around the world, play in a band and perform all the time is really awesome and is a dream come true for us. We’re very lucky and don’t take this opportunity for granted. The audiences have been great so far, we’ve played in front of 5 people and we’ve played in front of 30,000 people and I’ts always fun. We just try to be consistent every night. I’m hoping that once people know what to expect at our shows over here in North America, we can start seeing some really crazy stuff like we get in Australia. I’m pretty sure it’s not too far away; some of the audiences back home are insane. There’s been all sorts of injuries, ambulances, and blood. Lots of blood. Hahahaha.

How much preparation/rehearsal do you do before touring?

We rehearse a lot, and we tour a lot, so we are constantly working, writing or practising. It hasn’t really been too long between shows in the last few years so that helps us keep the set pretty tight. Recently we’ve been spending time writing our second album so it’s been great to get some new material together. We haven’t had much time to do that over the last few years, so it’s been a lot of fun. I can’t wait to start playing some of it live.

What equipment (musical and/or personal) do you take with you on tour?

We take all the basics that we would need like amps and drums etc. I usually have a few microphones, We take a bunch of spare guitars, strings, skins etc. The way we choose to perform requires spares of everything!

How long are your sets, generally, and what songs do you really like playing?

It all depends if we are supporting or headlining, but it’s usually between 30 minutes and an hour. Usually the best received songs and the ones we enjoy most are “Shit on the Liver”, “Dead End” and “Bozo” as they are the songs we have videos for and the ones people know.

What does King Parrot do when you’re not touring?

Any job that will let us go on tour whenever we want! We’re lucky that we haven’t really had to work day jobs in the last 6 months. But the time will come when we have to do it again probably. Hopefully not for too long though, we want to go on tour as much as possible.

What would you say are your primary heavy music influences?  How much hip hop influence do you think is present in your music (I think I hear it in some of the vocal delivery)?

There’s maybe a little bit of hip-hop in there, lots of old punk, rock, and metal influences, I like older stuff like Eyehategod, Poison Idea and Napalm Death and anything in that vein, many of our influences come from there. We certainly like to listen to and be influenced by a wide variety of music. Our bass player Slatts was playing in a country band until recently, and we have all had varied musical endeavours in the past, so we’re not strictly a metal band.

After you get home from this tour, what’s the next step for King Parrot?

We’ll be home in Australia in November for a short 6 show tour to showcase some of our new material to the audiences back home, then we’re back to North America for the ‘Punk Rock But Kinda Not’ tour with Down, Orange Goblin and Bl’ast on the west coast of North America. We plan to record in January and make a new video too, hopefully the new record will be out in the first half of 2015… then I guess we go on tour for a long time!

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King Parrot Tour Dates

Date

City

Venue

Oct 17

Pittsburgh, PA

31st Street Pub

Oct 18

Allentown, PA

Good Weekend

Oct 19

Albany, NY

Bogies

Oct 20

Allston, MA

O’Briens

Oct 21

Brooklyn, NY

Acheron

Oct 24

Bryant, AR

M.F. Metal Music

Oct 25

Austin, TX

Emo’s

Oct 31

Frankston Vic, Australia

Pelly Bar

Nov 1

Marrnambool Vic, Australia

Your Break

Nov 3

Melbourne, Australia

Plastic

Nov 20

Sydney, Australia

Hot Damn

Nov 21

Newcastle, Australia

Hombre Records

Nov 22

Gosford Nsw, Australia

Baker Street

Dec 1

San Antonio, TX

Aztec Theater

Dec 3

Las Vegas, NV

House of Blues

Dec 5

Riverside, CA

Riverside Municipal Auditorium

Dec 6

Dec Los Angeles, CA

Wiltern Theatre

Dec 7

Dec Sacramento, CA

Ace of Spades

Dec 8

San Francisco, CA

The Fillmore

Dec 10

Seattle, WA

Showbox at the Market

Dec 11

Vancouver, Canada

Commodore Ballroom

Dec 13

Edmonton, Canada

Union Hall

Dec 14

Calgary, Canada

Flames Central

Dec 15

Spokane, WA

Knitting Factory

Dec 17

Denver, CO

Summit Music Hall

Dec 18

Kansas City, MO

The Riot Room

Dec 19

Oklahoma City, OK

Diamond Ballroom

Dec 20

Dallas, TX

Gas Monkey Live!

Dec 21

Houston, TX

Warehouse Live

Satan’s Coming to North America (the Band, Not the Dude)

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews, tours On: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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Starting tomorrow, rejuvenated NWOBHM heroes, Satan make a return to North America for a series of tour dates that haphazardly criss-crosses the continent over the course of the next couple of weeks in support of their new live album, Live Sentence. Recorded on their first and only tour of the colonies last year in support of their 2013 comeback album, Life Sentence, Live Sentence encapsulates a partial history of the band (to the exclusion of their 1987 album, Suspended Sentence) which spans back to 1979 with a variety of stops, starts, name and member changes made along the way. You, me, them, we all probably are most familiar with their 1983 classic, Court in the Act, but there are other studio/live/compilation albums out there and now the band is back and arguably better than ever. So, here’s your opportunity metal-ville. Who the hell (yeah, pun totally unintended) ever thought there would be the chance to see Satan live on North American soil? Do it. In the meantime, here’s a short interview with…actually, this was done via email and, come to think of it, we were never informed who specifically answered the questions! How very black metal of them!

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What was the reasoning behind going with doing a live album in the first place? Where was the material for the new live album culled from?
We just wanted to document our first tour in the States. The material is from the two albums with Brian and the early demos.

There have been many starts and stops for Satan since you first came together in 1979. What brought you back together this time around? How has it been different and what are you doing to ensure that past problems are being nipped in the bud as best they can?
We were basically hassled by Oli, the organiser of the Keep It True festival in Germany, for about five years non-stop to reform and play the show. It all kicked off after the success of that show. The past problems were caused by bad press, us naively listening to them and changing what we were doing. We were given the impression we were doing the wrong thing. The press is great now but we wouldn’t care anyway as we love what were doing.

How have the reactions been to your return? With nostalgia, reunions and the NWOBHM being big deals in metal these days, do you find the public’s thirst to hear the old stuff conflicting with your desire to write and play new material?
No, for us it has been even more successful since the release of the latest album. I think a lot of bands struggle to recreate there old gusto but it came natural for us. Unfinished business.

What do you think of when you run into or see the same dudes on the tour/festival circuit today that you saw in the pubs and venues of the 80s? I’m guessing that a lot of what goes on backstage is reminiscing about the old days, who dodged cirrhosis of the liver and bitching about ex-wives?
Yeah, there’s all of that. It’s great to see old faces from the good old days. We’re also getting to meet bands from the time that were fans of Court in the Act, like Death Angel who we are fans of too.

What would you say the demographic is at a typical Satan show these days?
It’s wide spread, but there are more new young fans than the old brigade especially since the release of Life Sentence. It’s so great to still be cool enough for young fans to listen to and love our music.

What are you expecting from this upcoming North American tour?
We hope more of the same like the reaction we got on the East Coast shows. The fans were fantastic.

Judging by the routing, it looks like you’ll be spending more time in the air than on the ground. Was this deliberately planned this way as opposed to doing a city-to-city circuit van tour?
No, it was just how the shows came in. We took what was offered. We have some nice days off in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle too, which is a real bonus.

Are there plans afoot to record any of the stops on this tour?
Maybe. It just depends on transporting the equipment; like you said we’re flying a lot this this time.

What did you learn from the process in creating Life Sentence that you’re applying to both the upcoming tour dates and future recordings?
Just like the festival name that started it all off….. Keep It True! It’s all from the heart and has nothing to do with financial gain or a lust for success at all.

From someone who’s been involved in both the pre-digital and digital age of technology as it applies to music, what have been some of the more surprising pros and cons about the way things are today when compared to the past?
Obviously, the cost first and foremost. The Life Sentence album is the best sounding any of us have ever made in any band but it was also the cheapest! The negative is that the sales aren’t there any more due to downloading. I think bands have there own voice more now though due to the Internet.

deciblog - satan tour poster

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Encrotchment With Eddie Gobbo From Jar’d Loose: Week 6

By: Eddie Gobbo Posted in: encrotchment, featured, nfl 2014 On: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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The weird guy in the GOTHAM commercials: Who is he? I don’t want to watch the show. I just want to know who he is. The Joker?

Eagles of Death Metal

So, we are six weeks into the season. I think it’s safe to say the Broncos are the toast of the AFC, even though I think Philip Rivers is the league’s MVP at this point. But what about the NFC? Is it really the 3-2 Seahawks? We crowned them as 2014-2015 champs after watching them dismantle the Packers in Week 1. Since then, though, the Hawks are 2-2, and–interesting stat–have given up just as many points in that four-game stretch as they’ve put on the board. That doesn’t sound like a team that should have a clear road to the Super Bowl this year. Even though Seattle has been there/done that, I’d have to say the Eagles are this years NFC team to beat six weeks in. After that 27-0 beatdown against the Giants this past week, a game everyone thought would be MUCH closer, it’s clear that Philly is clicking on both sides of the ball. Reminds me of the Seahawks last year.

When my boys in psych death metallers Pyrrhon came through Chicago this week, I hit them up to talk to football. Since they’re based out of Brooklyn, I was praying that these dudes would be Giants fans. I’ve been dying to discuss my favorite NFL coach, Tom Coughlin, with someone. But the Pyrrhon boys are Brooklyn transplants by way of the Philly suburbs, so I suddenly found myself with guitarist Dylan DiLella on Broad Street with a couple cheesesteaks.

For the record, I’ve been to Brooklyn a bunch of times. Never once have I seen or heard anyone mention anything about sports. I once booked a Brooklyn band where a dude was wearing a Charlotte Hornets Starter cap from 1992, but I think that was just irony. Dylan agreed that the Brooklyn music scene as a whole doesn’t give a fuck:

“Honestly… musicians I know in New York City don’t watch football.  Sometimes we even get made fun of for being football fans. I feel it’s just that the people we know in New York City just aren’t into sports. The metal scene in New York is on the artsier tip.”

I get that being from Chicago. But at the end of the day, even the hipsters here watch the Bearz with their librarian-looking girlfriends. If they don’t, we just kick their ass.

Anyway, if the season were to end today, the Eagles’ Chip Kelly would be coach of the year, most likely.  More importantly, it seems like Eagles fans are 100 percent behind this dude, unlike his predecessor, Andy Reid.

“I love Chip Kelly. Last year he surpassed everyone’s expectations. It’s a contrast to the long tenure of Andy Reid. A lot of Eagles fans hate on Andy Reid. That’s kind of how things go in Philly. It doesn’t seem like Kelly will get the same amount of flak. There isn’t that divisiveness there like when Andy Reid was in town. I think it’s because [Kelly’s] a very thoughtful, forward-thinking person.”

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If you haven’t checked out the Patton Oswalt film Big Fan, you should. It’s about a New York Giants fan who almost murders an Eagles fan, among other things. Now as a Bears fan, I know my rivalry bread is buttered with the Packers. I’ve always been confused on the NFC East and how they see their rivals. So, before I parted ways with Dylan, I had to ask, who hates whom in that division of his?

“It’s got to be the Cowboys. Everyone just hates Dallas. That’s pretty much what it boils down to.”

You know that thing called Thanksgiving? Well, Dallas and Philly clash for the first time this year on that glorious day. Dallas is currently playing amazing football, and the Eagles are doing the same. I expect these teams to be on a collision course until then.

Check out Pyrrhon here and buy their new album, The Mothers of Virtue, out now on Relapse .

Brownies Are Ready!

They look good. They smell good. They’re gonna be better than the cupcakes they’ll see the next three weeks. And after that, Josh Gordon is coming over to put weed in them! Somebody call the Playoffs and tell him not to ring the doorbell and come around back.

Making Out With Your Hot Sister

This week, everyone collectively cried when the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers game ended in a tie, 37-37. I hate when people throw shade on NFL overtime rules. They are actually unbelievably appropriate, and lead to potentially interesting scenarios in playoff races.

For example, say the Bengals are leading their division at the end of the season. What if the aforementioned Browns rack up a lot of wins and give chase?  Unless the Browns themselves tie a game this year (or Cincy does it again), the division will not be decided by any tiebreakers, only by wins and losses.

Also, lets imagine this scenario: the Browns have a half-game lead in the division on the last day of the year after they play their game and win. Cincinnati holds all tiebreakers. By chance, the Bengals game goes into overtime. If it’s half way through overtime and neither team has scored; wouldn’t it make sense for the Bengals to just try to run out the clock and play a prevent defense, making sure the other team doesn’t score, getting another tie and winning the division through a tiebreaker?

Also, the next time an NFL player says at the end of a football game they played in, “I didn’t even know a game could end in a tie,” we should kill him. Learn the fucking rules of the game you’ve devoted your life to playing! It takes two seconds!!!

You Weren’t Outplayed. You Were Out-fucking-fanned

Let me take the time to explain the golden rule of attending football games: If your team is playing at home and you are at the game, it’s your responsibility to go as apeshit as you can. Get drunk. Sniff glue in the parking lot. Whatever you gotta do. If you happen to play a team whose fans travel well and infiltrate your stadium, it is your duty to defend your house.

This week, the Raiders played the Chargers in Oakland. The Raiders fans know this year is over for them (they haven’t won a game yet). They also know that San Diego, one of the best teams in football, plays in the same state as them, and has loyal fans in a close proximity. So, what do they do when the Chargers come to town? Pack their stadium and cheer for the Raiders like it’s the Super Bowl. The Raiders still lost. But on the final drive, when the Chargers gained their final lead of the game, the stadium sighed in failure. You could hear a pin drop when the dust settled. A saddened stadium full of fans of their 0-5 heroes. This is why Raiders fans are great football fans.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, something different happened. The Bears and Falcons entered the game literally in the same boat. They had the same record. They are both extremely talented and, thus far, underachieving, teams. To say both teams needed that win would have been an understatement. Atlanta’s huge advantage: the game was in Atlanta! So, what do the Atlanta fans do? You guessed it: show up and get muscled around by a bunch of Bears fans that live a million miles away. If you looked at the crowd during that game, you would have seen a lot of Bears fans. Probably about a 75/25 split between Falcons and Bears fans. You would have thought by the noise and crowd reaction, though, that the crowd was about 80 percent Bears fans. During the fourth quarter on a pivotal third down, Bears DEJared Allen started motioning to the crowd to make noise. And guess what, the crowd made noise and helped the Bears get a defensive stand. At one point, a commentator that wasn’t Joe Buck said, “Are we in Atlanta or in Chicago?” Hotlanta fans: You have a great team. If you can’t cheer at a game, don’t go to it. Your team needed you and lost several pivotal downs on both sides of the ball because you dogged it.

I knew the Falcons fans were softies. However, I thought I was hallucinating when I heard the uproar of cheers in Seattle this week when DeMarco Murray rushed for a touchdown to take the lead with 3:15 left in the fourth quarter. Then a couple minutes later I heard chants of “De-fense” on Seattle’s last drive. The icing on the cake was when Rolando McClain intercepted an over-the-middle pass to ice the game, and the crowd went ballistic. Dallas fans, the support you have for your team during thick and thin is commendable. You, and only you, thought your team had a shot at upsetting Seattle, and you repped hard in that hellacious stadium, proving you deserve every bit of your 5-1 record. As for you, 12th Man, you better check your people. Next time don’t show up with 10 guys and a blow-up doll.

Bad Times, Rams Times

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So, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher had a great Monday night. Not only did he roll up to a game in his home stadium honoring a St. Louis Rams team that beat his Tennessee Titans in the 2000 Super Bowl by a yard; his team lost a game they had an early 14-point lead in by giving up 24 unanswered points and a pick six to end the game. What do you do for an encore: anally rape his mother while pouring sugar in his gas tank?

Are You There, Austin? It’s Me, God.

Better Coach: Jeff Fisher or Gordon Bombay?

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Chug of War

And finally this week, I just want to say that I fucking hate hanging out with my friends’ bands from Boston. They always only want to talk Celtics and Bruins. WHY, WHY NO PATRIOTS?! When Boston’s inAeona came through Chicago this week, whooped ass at a show, and crashed with me after, we started talking sports. I immediately thought to myself, “Crap, here comes a conversation about Rondo and Chara for an hour.” When singer/guitarist Bridge Laviazar told me about an interesting article she read about Tom Brady this past week, I perked up like a rooster.

The article was written by ex-Patriots lineman Ross Tucker. Tucker tells an interesting story about Brady’s involvement in a beer-chugging contest back when he was on the team. Check it out here. It’s a fun little read because it shows Brady in a light that NFL fans frankly never put him in. Brady is the pretty boy of the NFL. He’s on the high-profile team. He has the super-dooper model wife. He advertises high-end watches, not Wranglers or Papa John pizzas. He grows a beard and long hair and we act like he’s playing a part in a movie. At his core, though, I’ve always seen Tom Brady as a badass. Also, the “pretty boy” persona I’ve always found to be hilarious. Is it me, or is basically every NFL QB a borderline male model? The ugliest one is probably Eli Manning, and I’m sure none of y’all girls would kick him out of bed. Unless you’re a Patriots fan…

Pick of the Week

Indy -3 vs. Cincy

 

Decibrity Playlist: Obituary

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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When Obituary returned in 2005 with Frozen In Time–at that point, its first album in eight years–Decibel was still in its infancy. Fast forward to today, and we’re about to throw two tenth anniversary shows on Saturday night while the death metal legends are about to drop their ninth studio effort, the long-time coming Inked In Blood, later this month. Even though they won’t be in NYC this weekend to celebrate with us, it still seemed like a great time for each member of the Tampa quintet to tell us about some tunes they enjoy listening to. As you’ll quickly see, most of them first saw the light of day in the ’80s. After you check out their picks below, you can pre-order a copy of the band’s Relapse debut here (and be sure to read Jeff Treppel’s piece on them in our current issue).

John Tardy

Nasty Savage’s “Indulgence” (from 1987′s Indulgence)
We grew up in the same neighborhood as Nasty Savage. I remember riding my bike to Ben Meyer’s house just to listen from the road to the band practicing in the garage. This is the single biggest reason we probably formed a band and wanted to play metal music. At the time we had no idea what we were doing, we just knew we were having fun and going for it. Those first two Savage albums still have some of my favorite songs. We opened for them on a few occasions and to this day they all are still very good friends of mine. That was a long time ago, before Internet or even CDs. My first copy [of this record] was on vinyl and I can also remember blasting it in my car on cassette. Those were the days.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Cold Shot” (from 1984′s Couldn’t Stand The Weather)
This is some of the greatest music in the world and though it is as far from metal as you can get, Stevie was one of my favorite musicians on the planet. His songwriting and guitar playing abilities made for some of the most brutal songs and solos ever recorded. I was lucky enough to witness him live just months before his death and he lit the stage on fire with his performance. Stevie Ray died in 1990. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 25 years that he’s been gone. Everybody should experience an SRV album at some point in their lives if they have not. I still find myself playing his music all the time.

Donald Tardy

Dio’s “Holy Diver” (from 1983′s Holy Diver)
This brings me back to 1984 as a teenager in the backseat of a friends car headed to a Dio concert. This is what made all of us want to become a rock star and what made me become a drummer. Vinny Appice showed me the light and at a very young age I knew this was what I’d become. It really was amazing to witness such a killer concert at a young age. Spoiled me. There was nothing like the arena concerts of the ’80s. This was the era of mechanical dragons and huge stages and production before any festival concept. I still remember standing as close to the front row as my skinny ass could get, watching as Dio swung his “laser-whip” and making shit blow up…the light show and massive stage! I’ll never forget that experience to be able to stand that close to my hero.

Savatage’s “Hall Of The Mountain King” (from 1987′s Hall Of The Mountain King)
One of the most talented brother combo bands to ever exist and still my favorite band in the world. Having the opportunity to grow up in Tampa and witness Savatage (Avatar) at a very young age is the reason I am in a band. I would sneak into back doors of clubs to see them live and we were lucky enough to open for them a couple times. Criss Oliva’s guitar playing was phenomenal and at such a young age. Better than most, up there with only the likes of Randy Rhoads in my opinion. Plus Jon [Oliva] is still one of the best songwriters in metal and has a voice like an angel and witch combined. With all the metal albums released in the world, I still find myself listening to Savatage. It will never get old to me. Good shit!

Kenny Andrews

S.O.D.’s “Speak English Or Die” (from 1985′s Speak English Or Die)
This album was definitely a game changer for me. From the opening riff of “March of the S.O.D.”, there was no turning back. This got me into heavier and more aggressive music and into other crossover bands like Cro-Mags, D.R.I. and Crumbsuckers. I had just gotten into Metallica and Anthrax when this gem came out, but this was even more aggro. The breakdown riff in “Speak English” is still one of my favorites and I still use it for line checks before we go on. Not only is the music great but the lyrical content of these tunes are still relevant to issues going on today. I love how it goes from one extreme with “Fuck the Middle East” to “United Forces”, showing the humorous side of this classic disc. In a world of P.C. idiots trying to do and say all the “right” things, Billy Milano had the balls to say what a lot of people today are afraid to and if you young bucks are easily offended, as Billy would say, kill yourself.

Mastodon’s “The Motherload” (from 2014′s Once More ‘Round The Sun)
I was a guitar tech for these crazy fuckers in ’05 and have been a fan ever since. I really don’t check out vids these days and the ones I have seen here and there mostly blow. It’s the same shit over and over, but Mastodon seem to always do something cool. Troy’s vocals remind me of Gene Simmons in his heyday and their music, totally original, gives a nod here and there to days of Rush and other classic rock bands. Brent is a total badass on guitar, always separating his playing from the rest of the norm. All I can say to the boys is “Ahhh Jeeez!”, you guys are still killin’ it!

Terry Butler

King Diamond’s “The Family Ghost” (from 1987′s Abigail)
King Diamond hosted Headbangers Ball one time in ’87 when the Abigail album came out. He debuted the video for “Family Ghost”. The format at that time was to have a different guest host the show each week. You know, back when it was watchable. I was glued to the set when he hosted the show. Mercyful Fate is a huge influence on me and I was loving the King Diamond solo albums as well. It was killer and great visuals. A well made video with King Diamond running around looking evil. I loved it. Plus its an awesome song from a great record!

Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” (from 1990′s Painkiller)
Judas Priest is one of my favorite bands of all time. They put out a few records in the late ’80s that were on the commercial side and the fans started losing faith in them. They hit back hard with this song and the album Painkiller! I remember watching the video in disbelief of how heavy and awesome it was! The production was amazing, the drumming was killer. They were back with a vengeance. Screaming for vengeance if you will. Having Scott Travis in the band injected new life and blood into the band. Great video!

Trevor Peres

Celtic Frost’s “Circle Of The Tyrants” (from 1985′s To Mega Therion)
Before I heard Celtic Frost, I was jammin’ out to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, among others, but the day I heard Apocalyptic Raids by Hellhammer, the shit hit the fan. It was the heaviest, most brutal music that my ears had ever heard. To be honest, Hellhammer and the first few Celtic Frost releases are still some of the heaviest albums that have ever been recorded to date. If you have ever watched the video for “Circle of the Tyrants”, you will know what I am talking about. Are you morbid?

Slayer’s “Kill Again” (from 1985′s Hell Awaits)
Slayer! What more can I say? If you truly love heavy metal, you will have at least one Slayer album in your collection. Hell Awaits is overall my favorite Slayer album. It is their most raw album and they took what they did on Show No Mercy to the next level of heaviness. The song “Kill Again” is such a heavy song, lyrically and musically. It is a full blown roller coaster ride. Let’s take that ride. “Kill Again!”

*Pre-order a copy of Obituary’s Inked In Blood here

**For past Decibrity entries, click here

Inside The Shredder’s Studio # 14: Skeletonwitch

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

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Here at the shredder’s studio we usually have one chair in the virtual office. Today, we need to pull up two. Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick agreed to spend some time with us and walk us through their many influences. Please welcome the dual shredders of Skeletonwitch to the shredder’s studio, our 14th episode!

Even better, you can witness the shredding in person this fall. Skeletonwitch has all the forthcoming tourdates on their Facebook page — do go check them out.

NATHAN’S PICKS:
Sepultura – “Beneath The Remains” from Beneath The Remains

I was convinced that Max was the best guitar player ever and that a B.C. Rich Warlock was the coolest guitar ever. Fast-ass picking hand with quick and nimble fretting right from the get go! It has a sweet half-time headbanger part that wrecks my neck every time, a crazy little flanger soaked up-tempo rock part that I must have rewound a hundred times per listen, and Andreas’ solos range from weird to even weirder. I love cranking this album after about three months of not listening to it.

Massacre – “Dawn Of Eternity” from From Beyond

The beginning is this slow, doomy riff that they bring back later in groove form, which is a perfect idea, and he almost raps the lyric: “From beyond enters the horror, of a dark and hideous nature. The fall of man is now at hand.” That part kicks my ass all over the place. Chance and I always “slam” that part out when we crank it in the van. I love the speeding single note death metal riffs, and the groove is fucking top of the pops for me. Well done Massacre, well done!


Overkill- “Hello From The Gutter” from Under The Influence

Overkill still reigns as my favorite thrash band of all time. The riffs are either doing the New Jersey stomp on my skull, or tearing that skull from my already broken neck. They way this song starts is a big selling point. It’s not just a typical bar chorded intro (like I do all the time). It has this picked “country chord” as I would call it, and it’s tough as fuck. It has fast ass, killer runs on the tail end of the verse riffs and badass solo-age. The biggest influence is the audible level of bass guitar. If you don’t have killer bass presence and tone, you don’t have shit. Just ask D.D. Verni, I bet he’d agree.

Amon Amarth – “The Last With Pagan Blood” from The Avenger

My first taste of melodic, epic death metal. The interaction between the two guitars sends chills down my spine. These riffs create this feeling of “hell yeah, we kicked your ass” and then turn around and put you in the dirt because they sound so sorrowful.

Annihilator- “Alison Hell” from Alice In Hell

We have this “Hard N’ Heavy” VHS that has an Annihilator segment on it that we put on after practice. I am really into very quick and nimble, thrashy riffs. Even the little, weird breaks in the song do it for me. It has the ability to be super technical, yet still be able to breathe which shows some of that Canadian Class and tasteful songwriting. The solos are also outta this world. I’ll never be able to play one.

SCOTT’S PICKS:

Since I’m running out of ways to tell everyone how much I love Tipton/Downing, Schuldiner, Jon Oliva, and Denner/Sherman, I’m going to take the pass less traveled and tell you guys about some of my non-metal influcnes. Besides, I’ve always been “the weird one” in Skeletonwitch. May as well embrace it. Haha! Here goes:

The Jesus Lizard – “Monkey Trick” from Goat

The first time I heard the Jesus Lizard was like my first kiss: disorienting, slightly scary, and so awesome it was all I thought about for weeks. This band changed my notion of what “heavy” is. Duane Dennison seems to have limitless creativity. Where in the fuck is he pulling these riffs from? Dissonance never sounded so catchy.

This track has all my favorite elements of The Lizard. You get two seconds of pummeling and then it’s cut abruptly to make room for a bass line that’s so heavy only the Melvins can pick it up. Dennison and McNeilly join in, doing what they do best; fucking ruling. Eventually David Yow escapes from the insane asylum and starts babbling and we’re off to the races. Bonus points for the best scream ever laid to tape. It occurs at 1:06. Trivia fact: That scream is not from any of the members of the band!

David Bowie -”Moonage Daydream” from Bowie At The Beeb

I’ve been a huge Bowie fan since my impressionable teenage years and I can’t listen to any Bowie without reminiscing. My sister and I would leave school in a *cough* Ford Contour and somehow it would take us two hours to get home when we only lived two miles from the school. Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Stooges, and The Stones were the core of our soundtrack.

However, as much as I love Bowie, this track is all about his guitarist, Mick Ronson. If you don’t know who that is….

1) Shame on you!
2.) Look at this picture

When is the last time you shredded a Les Paul while doing eight seconds on David Bowie? That’s what I thought. On to the song….

This version is from a live performance at the BBC studios. I can’t remember the exact year, but all the recordings are from ’68-’72, so it’s in the sweet spot. Every member of Bowie’s band is absolutely crushing it here. The sound of those drums is thunderous! The bass driving! Hurrah for a real budget! The BBC never skimps, but here, Ronson is the real star.

First of all, his tone is incredible. Check it out at 1:12 and 1:17. Is Brian May his fucking guitar tech? Did you catch the pick slide he did back at 1:02? Talk about swagger. It sounds like Ronson is barely able to contain himself, and then 3:37 hits and he is untethered.

There is a lot of talk about civilian space travel in the near future and it’s all fucking rubbish. It exists. Here, right before you, is evidence that Mick Ronson rode a Les Paul to Mars and came back. At 3:57 he officially left the earth’s atmosphere. By 4:10 he’s on the red planet. Absolutely incredible. You can just imagine Bowie and the other musicians in the Beeb just shaking their heads.

Television – “Elevation” from Marquee Moon

If you listen to Skeletonwitch on headphones on you may be a bit surprised by how often Nate and I do not play the same thing. We enjoy complementary guitar parts rather than doubling a single part. How does Nigel Tufnel put it? “Simple lines intertwining?” This is one of my favorite Television songs. The guitars are doing entirely different things at the beginning but the bass provides just enough glue to hold them together. Kudos on the excellent time keeping by Richard Lloyd’s picking hand. You have to have a steady hand for that. Not too much drinking the night before playing this song!

Television was one of several bands that pushed me to take this approach to guitar lines. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice. Funny enough, as I listen back to Elevation I now hear parallels between the guitar solo on this track and some of my own playing. What a mind fuck! Did I rip off Tom Verlaine? I suppose if we really think about that, who DIDN’T rip him off in some capacity?

Check out Verlaine’s solo at 3:02 and the opening of my solo on “Where the Light Has Failed” at 1:49. I also see some similarity between his solo at 3:06 and my solo “Cleaver of Souls” also at 3:06. Weird! Am I crazy guys? Can you hear the influence too?

I love the little “chordy” riff right before the chorus (1:02-1:06). Not sure what they’re doing there, but I’m glad they’re doing it. Next is the chorus. I love the quirkiness of the timing and shards of staccato chords mixed with the major sounding, epic string bends that follow it. It’s as if they knock you off balance and then steady you again.

The Hellacopters – “The Devil Stole the Beat from the Lord” from Grande Rock

They had the riffs, the solos, the motorcycle boots, and, oh yeah, they had the songs! Nicke Andersson is a massive influence on my playing and not just because he’s a fellow lefty, although I do fucking love that, too. And let’s not even go down that (lefthand) path about how influential he was to death metal, because we could write a thesis on that alone.

Somehow the ‘Copters started off sounding like Motorhead and ended their career sounding like Cheap Trick, without making it feel odd or contrived, at least to my ears. I picked “Devil Stole the Beat from the Lord” for all the newbies who may have never heard The Hellacopters before. It has all the classic elements: excellent riffs, super catchy chorus, those monster string bends that bookend the song, nice keyboard lines, a great solo, and plenty of spots where you can windmill strum your guitar like Pete Townsend on trucker speed!

Besides what I already mentioned, here are a couple moments that really blow my dress up:

-The way the second guitar joins in at :07 and the rest of the band joins at :10. They come in in the middle of the main riff before it even finishes its first cycle. Listen to KISS much, guys?

-Check it out at approximately 0:50. Notice how each guitarist, panned hard left and right, does palm mutes off-time from the other? I listened to this song for probably four fucking years before I noticed that. It’s the little things, guys.

-At 1:37 is a classic Hellacopters octave part. It’s added in there to spice up the verse riff. I believe it’s from the Keith Richards school of “never play the same thing twice” (but not because you’re so fucked up that you can’t remember how you played it the first time, which is Keith’s other school).

-At 3:13 they double-down on the chorus, add a couple extra chords, and some nice single note runs which sets up the outro perfectly!

These guys are going to make some serious bucks when they do the reunion thing on the Euro festival circuit.

MC5 – “Gotta Keep Movin” from High Times

A high energy rock and roll band that defined the wildest aspects of American counterculture. They were rock as fuck, punk as fuck, political as fuck and energetic as fuck. Probably my favorite rock band of all time. I was born 30 years too late, but that didn’t stop the MC5 from still having profound effect on me as a youth.

The guitar playing on “Gotta Keep Movin’” is shit-hot and singer Rob Tyner belts out “Atom bomb, Vietnam, Missles on the Moon, and they wonder why the kids are shootin’ up so soon.” I wonder what he would be singing about right now if he was still alive. America needs a band like this again, flaws and all.

John Fahey – “On the Sunny Side of the Ocean” from The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death

I’ve been obsessed with this guy for a couple years now and see no end to my obsession in sight. Check him out!

Read previous installments of Inside The Shredder’s Studio:

#1: Elizabeth Schall of Dreaming Dead
#2: Mike Hill of Tombs
#3: Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy
#4: Alex Bouks of Incantation

#5: Kurt Ballou of Converge
#6: Mark Thomas Baker of Orchid
#7: Andre Foisy of Locrian
#8: Eric Daniels of GSBC and Asphyx
#9: Kevin Hufnagel of Gorguts
#10: Marissa Martinez-Hoadley of Cretin
#11: Eric Cutler of Autopsy
#12: Woody Weatherman of Corrosion of Conformity
#13: Carl Byers of Coffinworm

Sucker For Punishment: Fight Like It’s 1985

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

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After parting ways with vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza in 2004, Exodus took a huge risk in hiring the unknown Rob Dukes as the band’s new frontman, but it was a risk that paid off well. The confrontational, provocative Dukes injected the band with a level of manic energy not seen since the classic Paul Baloff days, and aided by some relentless touring and three very good studio albums Exodus was able to achieve a sort of creative rebirth, attracting a younger audience while at the same time winning over the old fans with this revamped lineup.

Things seemed to be going so smoothly for the band that it came as a very big surprise that Dukes was fired during the recording of Exodus’s tenth album. Even more surprising, though, was the news that Souza was back in the fold and would commence recording the vocals for the new album immediately. Contrary to what people might assume about who was behind Souza’s hiring – many speculated that Exodus’s new manager Chuck Billy masterminded the whole thing – founding guitarist Gary Holt insists that Souza was simply the best option the band had, and everyone had no desire to go through the painstaking audition process to find a new voice.  So hatchets were buried, the slate was wiped clean, and both parties amicably and eagerly joined forces once again.

Although Dukes was a phenomenal frontman, perfectly suited for Exodus, there’s something about hearing Zetro at the helm once again that’s so pleasing, especially to any metal fan over the age of 40. It feels right. I managed to catch the reunited Exodus at their performance in Montreal this summer, and it was admittedly a great pleasure to hear that gravelly, nasal voice performing such songs as “The Toxic Waltz” and “Strike of the Beast”. Based on that alone, you had to think that Souza’s return on record would be just as impressive, or even more, and that’s indeed the case on Blood In, Blood Out (Nuclear Blast), which bursts with the fun and energy of Exodus circa 1985 yet at the same time exudes the breadth of the post-2000 incarnation of the band.

Presented in a robust but deliberately organic sound by producer Andy Sneap, the songs have bite and attack to them, drummer Tom Hunting punctuating each track with his precise and strong double-time beats. The riffs by Holt and Lee Altus sound as nimble as ever and Souza clearly relishes his return to the band, sounding strong and charismatic. However, this record is all about the strength of the songwriting, which is leaner than the band’s ambitious last few albums, tracks like “Salt the Wound”, “Blood In, “Blood Out”, and “My Last Nerve” keeping things simple and incessantly catchy. It’s exactly what anyone wants from these great thrash progenitors, a record that holds up well against the most beloved Exodus albums. I’d even go a little further and call this the best Exodus album since 1989’s Fabulous Disaster, not only a return to prime form, but a welcome return of a familiar face and voice.

Also out this week:

The Acacia Strain, Coma Witch (Rise): I’ve been getting this band’s albums for the past decade, and for the life of me I can’t remember how a single song of theirs goes. That’s one hell of a commitment to mediocrity, guys. This seventh album comes close to putting that streak to an end, though, as “Holy Walls of the Vatican” and “Cauterizer” are snappy enough metalcore tunes to keep listeners awake. Such is the state of mainstream American metal these days that that statement can be considered high praise.

Arabrot, I Modi (Fysisk Format): After mastermind Kjetil successfully beat cancer this year he wasted no time in recording a quick little follow-up to last year’s masterful Årabrot, and the resulting six-track EP is yet another assertion that Årabrot is one of the most original, vital, exciting noise bands working today.

Bethlehem, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia (Prophecy): Don’t bands ever think before they settle on an album title? Seriously, naming your record “Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia” is the worst possible thing you could do to your marketability. Then again, gothic black metal sung exclusively in German isn’t exactly marketable to begin with. Once you get past that asinine title, however, you’ll discover a shockingly beautiful exercise in gothic metal aesthetics, full of bombast and melodrama. I have no idea what the fellow is singing about, but the cadence and coldness of the German language goes perfectly with the music, adding some welcome mystique in the process.

Blut Aus Nord, Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry (Debemur Morti): Coming off the triumphant 777 trilogy that saw French musician Vindsval establish Blut Aus Nord as one of the most creative forces black metal has seen in the last decade or more, you had to wonder where he’d take the music next. After Sect(s), The Desanctification, and especially Cosmosophy expanded the project’s musical palette to thrilling effect, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Vindsval decided to get back to basics, but still, there’s a prevailing feeling on Saturnian Poetry that it’s a regression after several exciting years of progression. The third installment of the Memoria Vetusta series (whatever that is) that originally started in 1996, this album sticks to the black metal basics of tremolo picking, blastbeats, and screeched vocals, which compared to Blut Aus Nord’s recent work is hardly groundbreaking, nor exciting. Thankfully Vindsval is an adept enough songwriter to execute this rote, overdone style in a way that still feels authoritative and better than most black metal of today – the superb one-two punch of “Henosis” and “Metaphor of the Moon” an example – but there’s absolutely no way, in this writer’s opinion, that this record even comes close to the last three. When Vindsval goes forward, I’m with him. When he steps backward, he loses me.

Horrendous, Ecdysis (Dark Descent): I knew nothing about this Philly band before their second album landed in my inbox, but once I heard Ecdysis I was shocked by just how well these guys sneak the hookiest heavy metal riffs into their death metal. At times it’s extraordinary how mindful Horrendous is when it comes to the power of a good hook. When they happen upon one, they let it carry the song, instead of making it a mere fragment of 50 other riffs, melodies, and breakdowns. They find a groove, and stick to it, creating dynamic, engaging songs. Imagine that. I remain torn when it comes to the dry, Martin van Drunen-style vocal growls, as they feel like monochrome set against a Technicolor backdrop, but thankfully the instrumental arrangements more than make up for that shortcoming. Besides, “When the Walls Fell” is the best metal instrumental I’ve heard all year. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp. 

Inter Arma, The Cavern (Relapse): One of America’s most exciting bands has slapped together an interesting “EP” release, comprised of one long 45-minute track that veers exuberantly from black metal, to sludge, to progressive rock, to Americana, and back. So few underground American bands have the guts to combine as many styles as Inter Arma does, and although an album of shorter, more concise songs would be an easier listen than this sprawling epic, this is still a great glimpse of an exceedingly creative band hitting its stride.

The Melvins, Hold It In (Ipecac): Being a huge fan of everything Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover did with the boys in Big Business rounding out the band, I’ve been wary of everything they’ve done since. Yet, typical of these sludge lords, they always come through with something weird and highly entertaining, whether as Melvins Lite, reuniting with old band members, or in this case, teaming up with Paul Leary and JD Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers. The fact that Hold it In is playful is no real surprise, but that it feels leaner than any Melvins record I have ever heard is. The emphasis is no longer on pure heaviness, instead on just creating good, fun rock ‘n’ roll, and on this album you can totally hear the influences of the first to KISS albums creeping into the Melvins’ music more than ever. It’s not without its weird moments – the 12-minute “House of Gasoline”, for instance – but the more laid-back fare like “You Can Make me Wait”, “Sesame Street Meat”, and “Piss Pisstopherson” dominate the proceedings, offering a glimpse at the lighter side of this great band. It might not be a classic album by any stretch, but it’s a very welcome addition to what’s become a wildly diverse discography.

Menace Ruine, Venus Armata (Profound Lore): Like Occultation, whose new album also comes out this week on Profound Lore, Montreal’s Menace Ruine offers a surreal perspective on heavy metal that focuses on a haunting female voice. What separates this project apart, though, is how it constantly keeps the listener at an arm’s length, retaining an air of mystery throughout. Geneviève Beaulieu sings classical-inspired melodies in a very arch voice, while multi-instrumentalist S. de la Moth creates a murky, haunting musical backdrop derived heavily from black metal, gothic post-punk, drone, and once again, neoclassical. The music’s impenetrability makes this a difficult album to enjoy, especially when compared to Occultation’s bewitching new album, but if you can get past the pretension and let yourself warm up to the music, it proves to be a worthwhile, delightfully gloomy experience. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Occultation, Silence In The Ancestral House (Profound Lore): The cryptic Brooklyn trio’s debut album Three & Seven caught my attention two years ago, enough for me to single them out as one of that year’s better new bands, but it still felt as if there was plenty to improve upon, plenty of promise to live up to. The follow-up does just that, thanks partially to producer Kurt Ballou – who always does his best work when stepping away from his hardcore production, which can get predictable – but primarily to the maturation of this band’s songwriting. The juxtaposition of Edward Miller’s classic heavy metal riffing and expressive solos with Viveca Butler’s Siouxsie-derived singing is spellbinding to hear, the two sides creating a very unique tension. It’s a terrific example of a metal band taking traditional sounds, thinking outside the old parameters, and showing enough creativity to create something that stands out. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

October 31, Bury the Hatchet (Hells Headbangers): The inimitable King Fowley has brought back his October 31 project for its first album in nine years, and in what should be no surprise at all, it’s a deliriously fun rampage through horror-obsessed thrash metal. Loaded with weird tales, macabre music, and loads upon loads of palm mutes and d-beats, this is an old-school blast. Jeff Treppel premiered the album here yesterday, so be sure to give it a listen.

Revocation, Deathless (Metal Blade): The talent in Revocation is undeniable, and was so obvious when the Boston band started making serious waves five years ago. Dave Davidson is arguably the best metal lead guitarist of his generation, and he has a knack for combining melody and aggression better than most of his peers. Five albums in, though, Davidson and Revocation still have yet to create that one album, hell, that one song that can galvanize audiences and lift this band into the upper tiers of the genre like so many of us expected to happen. Instead, this new album serves up more technical exercises and milquetoast attempts at melody that might please Guitar Centre loiterers but make no effort to win over the casual listener. They’re so close, too. The reaction to this style of music should be immediate; no one should work this hard to find merit in the songs. This isn’t a prog record. Where’s this band’s “Laid to Rest”, “My Last Serenade”, “Blood and Thunder”? But no, we’re left with another album with plenty of chops but with lame attempts at hooks that feel more like lip service than inspiration. I was among the writers proclaiming Revocation would be the next big thing, but a half decade later it’s time to file this band among the long list of modern American metal bands that showed huge initial promise but always failed to produce anything but ordinary, wasting everybody’s time in the process.

Scar Symmetry, The Singularity (Phase 1 – Neohumanity) (Nuclear Blast): The Swedish band has always been made fun of for embracing pop-derived melodies and incorporating them into their brand of melodic death metal, and the fact that I cannot help but hear Winger in this new sixth album won’t exactly help things. But while Winger is commonly thought of as a typical “hair metal” band from the late-‘80s, they were actually anything but. Underneath the lasciviousness and power balladry was a band with incredible musical chops that had an uncanny knack for smartly combining pop music and progressive rock. With this new album – the first in an apparent trilogy – Scar Symmetry similarly finds an even balance between melody, dexterity, and yes, brutality. Because the music is so hook-oriented, so much more than anything the band has done in the past – which is saying something – it will be greeted with scorn by those who claim metal should only be ugly and not “trite”, but this band deserves praise for going all-in, and coming through with a flamboyant yet, oddly enough, subtly extraordinary album.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy

STREAMING: October 31′s “Bury the Hatchet”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

October 31

Sometimes you just want to play some damn heavy metal. Members of October 31 play in Deceased, Overlord, and Twisted Tower Dire, but this is a much more primal proposition, a chance to bang out some straightforward, satisfying jams in the vein of Iced Earth.  I mean, look at those guys above. What ELSE are they going to play? It’s been nine years since the last time they last appeared, and it’s been long enough. Fortunately, they have a new record, Bury the Hatchet, and just in time for Halloween! You can hear our exclusive premiere below (in festive orange and black!).

***Bury the Hatchet comes out on Hells Headbangers on October 14 (someone dropped the ball there). You can order the CDs, vinyl, and T-shirt here.

STREAMING: Necrophagia “WhiteWorm Cathedral”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

necrophagia_deathmetal_decibel_2014

Originally slated for a 2012 release, Necrophagia’s new album, WhiteWorm Cathedral, is finally seeing the light of day through Season of Mist. Main maggot Killjoy (aka Frank Pucci) isn’t one to let the products of his darkest and bloodiest desires get the best of him, so he let WhiteWorm Cathedral stew in a pot of human remains, werewolf semen, and nude chicks over the course of two years. The smell must’ve been unbearable.

Anyway, the result is more harrowing than ever anticipated. As one of death metal’s godfathers, Killjoy knows how to make our hair stand on end. He’s been doing scary shit since 1983. WhiteWorm Cathedral is ugly, nasty, and dirty. It’s death metal done without care for process or prettiness or perfection. Necrophagia’s always stood for old-school values, and they’re all present in the horror that is WhiteWorm Cathedral.

Sure, tracks have been previewed by others, but Decibel, thanks to Killjoy and Season of Mist, have been granted the full album premiere. Enjoy WhiteWorm Cathedral to the best of your abilities. If you get nauseated, vomit, and eat your vomit, we’re not responsible. Just a warning.

** Necrophagia’s new album, WhiteWorm Cathedral, is out October 28th on Season of Mist. Pre-orders are available HERE. Do it before Killjoy comes to your house and forces you to click the button. Trust us, you don’t want that.