Sucker For Punishment: Full Ascent

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014


There are certain bands I’ve only seen in specific settings, and in some cases it’s something where I’d like it to stay that way. I’m sure some readers might relate. For instance, I’ve seen Sodom four times, all on a cruise ship, and it’s gotten to the point now where the notion of seeing the almighty Sodom somewhere other than such a surreal setting on the Caribbean just doesn’t seem right. YOB is another. I live in a city where an underground doom band like YOB can’t afford to tour through, so the only times I’ve seen the Oregon trio play is at the Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands, which is as perfect a setting as you can get. It’d be admittedly awesome to see the band play in a small room in North America, but Roadburn is the one place where Mike Scheidt and YOB are superstars, and the four times I’ve seen them perform have been in front of 2,000 people. And I always experience YOB from the same spot, on stage left, right underneath the gigantic tower of PA stacked beside the stage. The sound there is so immense it becomes tactile, like you can reach out and grab those colossal sound waves. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and likely ever will.

Just how YOB can create such a massive sound from just the barest minimum of equipment has long fascinated me, and I posed the question to Scheidt a few weeks ago for a feature that will appear in the next issue of Decibel. His response was a fascinating one, one which you’ll have to wait a bit for to see, but that reputation of being one of the most gloriously heavy bands in the world right now is on full display on the band’s brilliant seventh album, the aptly titled Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot).

Arriving on the heels of 2011’s Atma, a record intentionally given a much grittier sound than usual, which divided a few opinions, Clearing the Path to Ascend takes a much more straightforward approach, focusing more on that classic doom sound, bringing out as much of that live force as possible. As usual, the tracks are long and very drawn out, requiring patience from those not used to sitting through doom tracks that plod along for more than 15 minutes. However, true to this band’s form, these four tracks, ranging from 11 minutes to nearly 19, are as riveting as you could ever hope for them to be. They might take their time, but they always reach a spellbinding resolution. Better yet, though, the album follows a distinct arc, making for YOB’s most dynamic album in a long time.

“In Our Blood” kicks things off in classic YOB fashion, an exercise in the mighty, towering doom that audiences expect from Scheidt. “Nothing to Win” follows immediately with a throttling arrangement led by drummer Travis Foster, whose thundering beats will remind many of the primal intensity of Neurosis at its best. “Unmask the Spectre” kicks off an enthralling second half, taking the listener deep into some of the darkest themes and tones the band has created to date, and that is countered immediately by the gorgeous closing track “Marrow”, whose melody and use of layered vocals is unlike anything YOB has done, reaching a level of unabashed beauty they’ve never quite pulled off before.

YOB has never put out a bad record, but this new one is a marked step up from Atma, and very much on par with 2009’s triumphant The Great Cessation. Scheidt and YOB are masters of the form, and they’re sounding particularly inspired here. I hope I get to see this album performed live at Roadburn someday, but whatever the venue, you know these tunes would be glorious in a live setting.

There’s no shortage of other good new music to investigate this week, which is nice to see:

Blood Of Kingu, Dark Star On The Right Horn of the Crescent Moon (Season Of Mist): In direct contrast to Krieg’s new album, which is reviewed below and which you should totally get, this latest by the Drudkh side project is one-dimensional to the point of boring. Unrelenting speed but little to no dynamics, clanging sound effects to try to create atmosphere (been there, done that), and absolutely no trace of character to be found. Cosidering this band’s pedigree, such laziness is inexcusable. I’m not buying this, and neither should you.

Code Orange, I Am King (Deathwish): Kids no longer, I take it? Indeed, the new album by the young Pittsburgh band shows so much growth that it’s easy to see why they dropped the word “Kids” from their name. Anything to get folks to take them more seriously. Already ferocious performers who captured that energy in brilliant fashion on 2012’s Kurt Ballou-produced Love is Love/Return to Dust, Code Orange raises the bar on this follow-up, bringing more of a metal sound into their music, the arrangements darker, moodier, and best of all, bigger. And typically, these tracks veer all over the place yet never lose focus, rampaging along for 32 exhilarating minutes, leaving you wondering what the hell just happened when the last track ends.

Dark Fortress, Venereal Dawn (Century Media): Guitarist V. Santura is a busy fella. He features prominently on Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata and Noneuclid’s Metatheosis, two of 2014’s better metal albums, and now his talents are featured on another Dark Fortress album. The German band has never set the metal landscape ablaze, but the music is always a good, workmanlike example of no-frills melodic black metal, and this album is no different. Huge, sometimes towering, not above a little progressive detour, and blasphemously silly, it’s also sneakily catchy, and the guitar melodies by Santura and Asvargr waste no time roping listeners in. The 11-minute title track, which audaciously kicks off the album, is an immediate standout.

Hammerfall, (r)Evolution (Nuclear Blast): Likeable as they are, the guys in HammerFall have been coasting along complacently for nearly a decade now, so it was very hard to get excited about the prospect of another new album. Instead of carrying along sounding anything but inspired, this ninth album is a spirited affair that fans will thoroughly enjoy. Nothing new is offered, it’s more of the simple, rousing power metal they helped perfect, and most importantly, loaded with anthemic hooks. A power metal album is a waste of time without glorious, bombastic hooks, and thankfully this record is overflowing in catchy sing-along melodies. From “Hector’s Hymn” to “Origins”, this is good fun that fits nicely alongside past albums like Crimson Thunder and Renegade.

The Haunted, Exit Wounds (Century Media): Considering how awful the 2011 album Unseen was, I didn’t just have low expectations for the new Haunted album, I simply didn’t care. Yet Decibel’s benevolent reviews overlord Andrew Bonazelli insisted I give this thing a shot, and whaddya know, this album by the revamped band is a good return to form. With Marco Aro back in the fold as vocalist after a decade away, the band has simplified its approach, reverting to the thrashy melodic death metal they excelled at early in their career. That’s all The Haunted ever needed to do, and with this record, their best since Revolver in 2004, they sound reborn. Good for them.

Krieg, Transient (Candlelight): The best black metal not only delivers savage, primal music rife in gloom and malevolence, but matches the music with atmosphere that equally captures that bleak feeling. Of course it’s no surprise that the latest from Neill Jameson’s long-running project captures that very idea. This seventh Krieg album is wonderfully eclectic, smartly spacing the faster tracks across the record, with slower, groovier, crust-ridden compositions, giving it a little time to breathe. Backed by Philly black metalers Esoterica, Jameson creates a palpable sense of anxiety and urban decay, ranging from the menacing grooves of “Order of the Solitary Road” and “To Speak With Ghosts”, to the experimental spoken word track “Home”, to the inspired cover of Amebix’s “Winter”. Stream and purchase the album via Bandcamp.

Pig Heart Transplant, For Mass Consumption (20 Buck Spin): I love you, 20 Buck Spin, but this unbelievably pretentious combination of atmospheric noise wank and powerviolence vocals is completely off-putting. Interested parties can try it out via Bandcamp. Be warned.

Set and Setting, A Vivid Memory (Prosthetic): This instrumental band from Florida sounds like something The Mylene Sheath would have put out five years ago, adventurous post-hardcore/post-metal/post-rock/etc. with no regard for genre restriction and plenty of sumptuous melodies. It might carry on a little longer than it has to, but this is a promising blend of Pelican-derived dynamics and the odd touch of black metal for a little variety. The arrangements show excellent discipline, the songs show some genuine soul, and what should usually be an album that bores me to tears gradually turns into something I’m transfixed by.

Sólstafir, Ótta (Season of Mist): Three years after the revelatory Svartir Sandar, the Icelandic band returns with a follow-up that a lot more people are anticipating this time around, and true to form it continues their sublime fusion of metal, post-rock, shoegaze, and space rock. They’ve always had a real knack for melodies that envelop and entrance, and every track on this hour-long effort does just that. Musically, though, the influences are much broader than ever before, as touches of rustic folk and hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll creep into the songwriting. Practically every track is an epic in itself, but listeners’ patience is always rewarded, multifaceted tracks like “Lágnætti”, “Ótta”, “Nón” possessing the confident grace you’d expect of a genre’s masters. For those who don’t understand Icelandic, which of course makes up the vast majority of Sólstafir’s audience, the lyrics, sung achingly by Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, only makes this already magnificent music all the more alien and enigmatic, adding mystery, coaxing you to try to decode through emotion rather than language.

Wolf, Devil Seed (Century Media): I don’t know why Swedish band Wolf continues to put up with such apathetic treatment from Century Media. All they’ve been doing for the past 15 years is put out some of the most consistently good NWOBHM revivalist metal we’ve seen, so the least a label can do is throw the guys a bone and give them some CDs and vinyl to sell for gas money. But nope, this is an “iTunes only” release (and don’t bother trying to find it on Spotify, it’s been “withheld”), which is a real shame, because it’s one of the better albums Wolf has put out in recent years. “Shark Attack” is uproarious fun (preceded by the brilliantly titled intro “Overture in C Shark”), as is “Skeleton Woman”, while “Dark Passenger” and “My Demon” add some welcome gravitas. This is a great band that deserves more support than their label is giving them, so be sure to download Devil Seed via iTunes.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

Can, Out of Reach (Mute): Recorded during a time when the krautrock innovators were in a serious state of flux – it’s the only album not to feature founding bassist Holger Czukay – Out of Reach was subsequently disowned by the band, buried and ignored for decades. That long lost tenth studio album was finally properly remastered reissued on vinyl for last year’s massive career-spanning box set, but now Out of Reach is at long last available on its own on vinyl, CD, and MP3. Although it severely lacks focus and is in no way in the same league as classics like Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi, it’s not without its interesting moments. Former Traffic members, bassist Rosko Gee and percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah, shoulder the bulk of the load, and add vivid helpings of funk and African rhythms to such tracks as “Serpentine” and “Seven Days Awake”, which benefit from the greatly improved remaster. Even at its absolute nadir Can remains one of the most crazily original and restless experimental bands in rock ‘n’ roll history, and at the very least it’s great to finally be able to properly complete the remastered studio discography. Order it here.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy

TRACK PREMIERE: Divider’s “Crow Eater”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


Labor Day’s over. No more wearing white. Black, however, is always in season. Check out that fashionable album cover below for Divider’s All Barren. Their music also pulls together different shades of darkness, its menacing slow burn drawing from bands like Neurosis and Tombs. We are pleased to offer the opening track from the album for you to shove into your skull.

***All Barren comes out September 23 on Glory Kid records. If you want to preorder it, click here.

Tales From the Metalnomicon: The Return of Dustin LaValley

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a column delving into the vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…

Some readers may recall Dustin LaValley’s memorable Metalnomicon bow a little over a year ago. We’ve invited the literary extremist back today to give us the lowdown on Swallowed: A Hypersexual Romance, his new novel of down n’ dirty heavy metal erotica, along with an exclusive soundtrack to crank while you’re you know, reading…

I have always let the story take me to where it wanted to be, never let genre(s) stand in the way. Whenever an idea comes along, I let it come naturally and wherever it falls when it’s finished being written is where I aim to have it published. In the past that’s been action, thriller, horror, comedy, drama… There has always been an aggressive stance at sexuality in my fiction. As a reader I noticed a lot of authors danced around it, like some taboo that is only to be thought, perhaps maybe muttered during sex, but never fully brought to light. Either these authors have incredibly boring sex lives or they are censoring themselves, keeping things nice and safe and plain, Puritan-like.

I had an idea to do a memoir, to keep nothing hidden and after some thought, decided that sex, illness and hardcore shows wasn’t much of a book, so I added in some fiction. Most of this book is true, I’ve taken certain liberties with it, but for the most part I’d say seventy-five percent is true to life. (I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve been on my deathbed.)

Wanting Swallowed to be as LaValley as LaValley could be, I stuck with the formula that I’ve been using for my more literary work, and that is: fuck with everything…

Mastodon, “Blood and Thunder” and “I Am Ahab”

This one was chosen due to the fact that the woman in chapter it’s listened to, was brought up in discussion when we met as she was wearing their t-shirt. From there we hit the jukebox and played some tracks from Leviathan.

Metallica, “Dyers Eve,” “One” and most of …And Justice For All

These tracks were usual go-tos for any bar I hit up with Ant, real name Tim. Mostly due to the fact that the album is on most jukeboxes and that “Dyers Eve” and “One” are fucking badass.


Suicidal Tendencies, “Go Skate!” and “Institutionalized”

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

By: admin Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, August 29th, 2014


BURZUM has been described as “music to make mortals dream,” and  The Ways of Yore (Candlelight) will do just that, because it’ll put you to sleep. I guess living in France can’t be that cheap; it seems like Varg cranks records out once a year or so. I’m not going to delve into his politics, the fact that he’s a murderer or anything like that. This release is not black metal at all — not that anyone really expected that.  Clocking in at a little over an hour, this is a fully realized dark ambient piece. It may seem like I like this; I don’t.  This comes across like that part in Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” you know, before it kicks into the jam.  Certainly, this is no Filosofem. The synths here sound dated, a little like old Pink Floyd, and the whole album seems to drag a little too much for my pecking taste. There are parts here and there that don’t completely sound like overindulgent Rick Wakeman worship, but there’s no overall feeling of despair or dread.  You certainly won’t be jamming this one on a road trip. So, like, get your pink underwear on and, I dunno, go get Filosofem if you want something like this.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz. 3 Fucking Pecks.

I can’t say I’m too sure what to make of BLOODSOAKED‘s  new one, Religious Apocalypse.  It’s not really a record, because it’s like three new songs, some covers and some live stuff. The new songs are cool, guttural death metal that don’t just rely on pig grunts and blast beats.  The material is strong and goes for the jugular. Old-school death metal that’s pretty mean, with a little groove. As far as the covers go, I don’t think you’ve lived until you’ve heard death metal versions of Cinderella and Ratt. The live songs here lend to the vibe of the record and let you know how good the “band” can be. Overall, this is a pretty fun release, and I’ve gotta say I’m glad I heard it, but I’m not sure I’d buy it. 6 Fucking Pecks.

So, I haven’t heard the new PHOBIA EP, Grindcore, on Deep Six, but I’m willing to bet that it rules. Phobia rules, and if you didn’t know, now you do.

Waldo out.

Exclusive: Stream The New Noisem

By: Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen, the decibel magazine tour On: Friday, August 29th, 2014


By now Decibel readers have come to know and love the young upstarts in Noisem. They turned heads during the last Decibel tour (and almost got Jeff Walker of Carcass in a lot of trouble — check out the details in the instant oral history). So Decibel and our friends at A389 Recordings are excited to premiere the main track off the new Noisem seven-inch.

Here’s what’s cool about this: RSR Records (Europe) and Amputated Vein Records (Japan) are part of this release. There are three versions of the 7″ — all limited to 500 copies.

Side A features the new song “Consuming,” Noisem’s opener for many recent sets. The band then recorded three classic cover songs by Terrorizer, Slayer and Cannibal Corpse to use as three b-sides. The songs have been dispersed randomly among the versions.

Check out the new tune below and then follow the links to get a pressing of your choice.

Red Version – A389 Recordings

European Gold version – RSR Records

The Japanese Blue version w/Obi Strip — Amputated Vein Records

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Dawn of a Dark Age

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, August 29th, 2014


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.


As both a loyal proponent of atavistic black metal and a man with familial roots in southern Italy, I have searched for years for great Italian extreme music.  It has often seemed like a fool’s errand.  In recent years, right on the heels of the surge of varied French extremity, lots of metal has erupted from the land of Romulus and Mussolini, but often there was nothing recognizably Italian in it.  Lyrics spat in English, chords shredded out in styles Scandinavian, British and American.  Not that it was bad, but I could derive as much (or more) pleasure from those bands’ influences, and it all seemed a bit superfluous.

All of which makes the sharp individuality expressed by Dawn of a Dark Age so much more satisfying.  The Agnone duo, comprised of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Eurynomos and vocalist Buran, promise and achieve raw black metal, but that description only serves as a sonic foundation for the agitated and melodic events contained within the songs.  Eurynomos’s musical training allows him to inject the savage swirl with piano, alto and baritone saxophone, and clarinet.

Wait!  Don’t go yet!  Just try it.  The heart and bones and crispy viscera of Dawn’s music are undeniably black.  The other instruments add color in interesting places and twist things just enough to make the view more intriguing.

To add to the allure, Dawn of a Dark Age have promised that this debut recording, The Six Elements, Vol. 1: Earth, will be followed every six months by another six-song recording through 2017, each one thematically exploring humanity’s experience with an elemental force.  The ambition is astounding.  We hope all goes well, and we look forward to the next installment.

For now, here’s a stream of Earth and a look into the mind of the man behind all this vision.

Dawn of a Dark Age just started a few months ago and you already have a complete recording to release. Were you writing music before the band’s official beginning, or did the songs really come out that fast?

Working in solitude makes everything easy and streamlined. I can create, compose and record music for 10 – 12 hours in a day, and then to add the voice of Buran is just the finishing touch. About the music, some songs required long time working, but others just came out easily. “Eurynomos Army” was created in four days but “Dawn Of A Dark Age” took several months of work. Anyway all the songs were written and recorded starting from the last February, when we [were] born as Dawn Of A Dark Age.

How did the musical ideas come together?

When I start to compose a new song I don’t follow a standard schedule. Sometimes I create a melody with my woodwinds, many others a guitar riff or a sequence of chords on the piano can start off the song. Then it is important to have clear in mind the right drumming. So I add the drums and gradually the song comes to life and I start thinking about the arrangement, which has an important role in our sound, especially for the integration of wind instruments. They allow me to experiment [with] different colors and nuances that I want to give to the song.

What part of Italy are you from? Are there other metal musicians in your area who you have worked or corresponded with?

I live in Abruzzo, a region in central Italy full of mountains, sea, hills and streams and with a long history. And this colorful land makes me feel music closer to the natural elements. In the winter you can spend hours in the woods and in twenty minutes you can reach the seaside, and this changing landscape is reflected in our music. But on the other hand there aren’t many musicians in this area to relate with and to share a long term project like this.

What got you interested in writing music for the ancient concept of elements?

As said before, the place where I was born is essential for this project. Being able to play different instruments allows me to relate to each element with a particular nuance of sound. The nature tells us stories only if we are able to hear her! This may sound [like] a project focused on the melody and on the sweetness, but it’s just an illusion. Our music is sometimes melodic, but in a matrix [that] is violent and aggressive, because the nature is threatened day after day by the cruelty of the men that try to take possession of its elements to destroy. His ego, his thirst for power will lead to the inevitable clash between nature and the human race, and that will be the day of Dawn Of A Dark Age.

Which came first, the musical style or the elemental concept?

When I compose a new song I always try to find the right balance between both of them to let them grow together. You can’t think the two things separately; they are tied together and need to be in symbiosis in this long and exciting project.

What music/artists first sparked your interest in black metal? What inspired your inclusion of woodwind and piano instruments into such a violent form of music?

When black metal began to have followed in the early 90s I was studying clarinet at the Conservatory and use to play Mozart, Beethoven and Stravinsky. One day a friend of mine came with a tape recording of Mayhem. Until that time the most extreme things that I had heard were Venom, Slayer, Bathory and Carcass. But that sound was new, dirty, raw and at the same time  charming and above all cold and very aggressive. Since that time I discovered the Scandinavian scene and bands like Emperor, Darkthrone, Immortal, Marduk. I decided to put the ‘classic’ instruments like clarinet, saxophone and piano, which are part of my personal training, just searching for the right colors during the arrangement of the songs, trying to give each one its own footprint that is as similar as possible to the sound I have in mind. If there’s a song that can give you an idea probably this is Stravinsky’s “The Rite Of Spring,” which could be understood as a mother (Earth) sweet and dear who suddenly becomes violent and out of control. This is the meaning I would give to “The Six Elements”, where the peaceful nature can suddenly unleash a fucking hell with an earthquake, a tsunami, or a snowfall in summer.

Do you have a favorite piece of music on this first volume, Earth?

It’s hard to pick up one song, just because, as I said before, I tried to give each one its own particular character and its own particular sound. And also their placement in the setlist is made so that they can follow a path that begins a cycle, grows, reproduces and closes the circle. It is not a coincidence that the tribal bongos open and close this first element (Earth) projecting toward the second one.

Is it a challenge to write the lyrics you want in English, or are you pretty comfortable with the language?

Even for the lyrics I am always searching for the best metric and rhythmic solution that blends with the music and with the idea that I have in my mind. In the next albums I could use the language of my country or a dialect, following the ancient black metal tradition.

You’ve promised five more related recordings over the next 3 years. Are you overwhelmed by that ambition, or is this just the way that the musical ideas are coming out of you?

It might seem like a race against time, but it’s not. Simply everything in the project is related to the number 6 and so I decided to publish them after six months of each other. I’m not worried about the time schedule, I have the full path already clear in my mind, and, as I said, working in solitude allows me to be prolific and to focus all my energies in this project.

Catch up with all things DDA at their Facebook page.

KEN Mode News and Notes: Tour Dates! New Material! New Videos!

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, listen, tours, videos On: Thursday, August 28th, 2014

deciblog - ken-mode-skot

Tomorrow begins the touring cycle for Winnipeg’s tireless road warriors, KEN Mode in support of their forthcoming album, Success. The record itself isn’t slated to be recorded until November, but after almost a year at home, the rest of the world can almost hear the itchin’ in their britches to get back out on the blacktop for a few shows in-between all the lane divider counting.

First up, the “Bonjasky vs. Schilt: Double Dutch to Hopscotch Tour 2014.” Then, after their customary handful of minutes break between tours, they hit the Old World with HARK and stand up comedian Garrett Jamieson in tow before hitting Anselmo’s Housecore Horrorfest in late October. So, come one, come all, come on out to hear some new material (preview below), some old material (some of which can be seen/heard in the final video from Entrench, “The Promises of God”), welcome new bassist Skot Hamilton (who cooks a mean burger the closer it gets to 4am), talk shop with their fucking asshole merch guy and, if you’re anything like me, wish you could be there to see how Jamieson’s comedy routine goes over with legendary German humourlessness.

KEN Mode Tour Dates:
Aug 29, 2014 Riverview, MI Rocky’s Pub
Aug 30, 2014 Toronto, ON Soy Bomb (w/Greys, Child Bite, Animal Face, Life In Vacuum)
Sept 1, 2014 Burlington, VT Nectar’s
Sept 2, 2014 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus (w/Primitive Weapons, Psalm Zero, Couch)
Sept 3, 2014 Pittsburgh, PA Smiling Moose (w/Slaves BC)
Sept 4, 2014 Philadelphia, PA North Star (w/Bardus)
Sept 5, 2014 Raleigh, NC Hopscotch Music Festival @ Kennedy Theatre (w/Power Trip, Artificial Brain)
Sept 6, 2014 Johnson City, TN The Hideaway (w/Generation of Vipers)
Sept 7, 2014 Newport, KY Thompson House
Sept 8, 2014 Chicago, IL Reggie’s (w/The Atlas Moth)
Sept 9, 2014 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock (w/Buildings)

Europe: all dates with HARK and Garrett Jamieson
Sept 25, 2014 Amsterdam (NL), Winston
Sept 26, 2014 Oss, Groene Engel (NL)
Sept 27, 2014 Copenhagen (DK), Stengade
Sept 28, 2014 Flensburg (DE), Folksbad
Sept 29, 2014 Aarhus (DK), Backstage
Sept 30, 2014 Brussels (BE), Magasin4
Oct 01, 2014 Orleans (FR), L’Astrolabe
Oct 02, 2014 Nantes (FR), Ferrailleur
Oct 03, 2014 Barcelona (ES), Razzmatazz
Oct 05, 2014 Madrid (ES), tba
Oct 06, 2014 Toulouse (FR), Saint des Seins
Oct 07, 2014 FR Montpellier (FR), Black Sheep
Oct 08, 2014 Milan (IT), LoFi
Oct 09, 2014 Innsbruck (AT), PMK
Oct 10, 2014 Chemnitz (DE), AC17
Oct 11, 2014 Leipzig (DE), Zoro
Oct 12, 2014 BE Liege (BE), La Zona
Oct 13, 2014 Brighton (UK), Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
Oct 14, 2014 London (UK), Our Black Heart
Oct 15, 2014 Bournemouth (UK), Anvil
Oct 16, 2014 Nottingham (UK), Chameleon
Oct 17, 2014 Glasgow (UK), Audio
Oct 18, 2014 Sheffield (UK), South Sea
Oct 19, 2014 Swansea (UK), Garage

Oct 23-26, 2014 Austin, TX Housecore Horror Festival (w/Danzig, Eyehategod, Neurosis, Satyricon, Portal, etc.)

INTERVIEW: Pit Full Of Shit

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews On: Thursday, August 28th, 2014


If you’ve been to shows around the NYC area–particularly at The Acheron or Saint Vitus Bar, both in Brooklyn–then chances are you’ve seen Frank Huang. More often than not, he’s armed with at least one video camera to capture that night’s show for everyone else’s viewing pleasure. After noticing him time after time at gigs, we finally caught up with the man himself about his work, his life and music in general. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out his blog Pit Full of Shit.

For those who may not be familiar, tell us a little bit about Pit Full of Shit. How did the idea come about? When did you you first get started and what was the first show you shot?
I started shooting live video when I was back in Taiwan around 2007. It began with a school project I made for my friends’ band called Horsemen. I was trying to shoot a short documentary on them. At the time, there was this series of shows called “Metal Monster”, and the band was one of the organizers of the show. So I went in and shot the second show of the series in which Chthonic played. I believe it was the peak of the series. After the show, I found I really liked filming bands and the music, and I felt that since I knew how to shoot video, these bands deserved to be documented. Plus, I could also show our scene to the world (aka the Internet). After that, I kind of just fell into this abyss and never got to get out. I got some really good experience when I was over there, not only shooting local bands but also bands like Abigail, Unholy Grave, Misery Index, Exodus and Death Angel. I’m still good friends with some of the people in those bands, and that really helped me start up when I first moved to States.

Pit Full of Shit didn’t start until I moved to NYC in 2011. I met Frank Godla from Metal Injection and Meek Is Murder at Revocation’s Chaos of Forms record release show at The Studio at Webster Hall. We were both shooting the show, and he suggested that we edit our footage together and post it on Metal Injection. After that project, they offered me a channel on Metal Injection, and that’s how Pit Full of Shit came about. But two years later, MI decided to change its server and all of my videos were gone, and that was when I started the blog. Right now I still post videos both on my blog and Metal Injection, but the source is from my own YouTube channel instead of MI’s server.

Most of your live footage is from shows in and around NYC — how long have you lived around here? What’s your favorite local venue to see a show and to shoot a show?
I moved to NYC from Taiwan in the summer of 2011 for grad school, so it’s been around three years now. If you look into the videos I’ve shot, you will find that in terms of venues, Saint Vitus Bar and The Acheron are the two places I shoot at the most. I can’t really pick just one from those two. Both of places took care of me pretty well when I first started in NYC, are very, very friendly, and believe and are very supportive of the things I do, which means a lot to me personally.

Taking another step back, tell us about some of your formative music experiences — in particular, when and how did you first get into the more extreme side of things?
Well this sounds really corny, but I started listening to Marilyn Manson when I was in junior high school which led me to Slipknot. (This is Taiwan we are talking about, I didn’t really get to find that much information on extreme music, not to mention the Internet wasn’t that cool at that time. Hell, I even liked Limp Bizkit. But it’s 2014, it’s way much easier to find underground music now.) But I always felt like I wanted something heavier. When I got into college, my friends showed me bands like Chthonic and Arch Enemy, and that was when I started digging more extreme music. Bands like Dark Funeral and Naglfar were my favorites at the time, and shooting shows exposed me to a lot of other music too.

There’s a group in Taiwan called Raw Noise Attack. They were the ones that got Abigail and Unholy Grave to play in Taiwan, and they also introduced me to bands like Electric Wizard, Church of Misery and so many other thrash or grind bands that shaped a lot of my musical tastes nowadays.

How many shows a month do you think you shoot? What’s been a favorite recent show you’ve been able to share with everyone? All time?
I would say I shoot about 10 to 15 shows a month, but it really depends on what’s going on. Sometimes I shoot five or six nights a week, sometimes one night in two weeks. It really depends. I would say my favorite recent show was Eyehategod with Iron Reagan and Strong Intention at The Acheron. All time for now I would give it to Gorguts at Saint Vitus Bar–that set completely blew my mind.

Can you tell us more about the equipment you use to shoot shows and the process more generally?
For cameras, I mainly use my Canon 60D. If I’m doing a multicam shoot, I have a Sony VG10 and a GoPro. Soundwise, I use a Sony PCM-D50, which is a really old sound recorder I’ve been using since the beginning but it’s still amazing and a Zoom H4n for board sound. And for editing I use Adobe Premiere Pro and PluralEyes for sound syncing (it’s life saver). Sometimes I try to do different things too, like I shot Eyehategod in Super 8mm film earlier this year.

What are some of your other videography/filmmaking endeavors (music videos, documentaries, etc)?
I’ve actually done music videos for bands like Phobia (and here), White Widows Pact, Bezoar, Call of The Void, Rituals, Noisear, Skelptarsis and Scattered Purgatory from Taiwan. The latest music video I made was for Phoenix’s Funerary, which premiered on Noisey.

Do you ever feel that you’re missing out on the “live experience” by being behind the camera instead of in the crowd? Do you try and mix it up and not shoot every show you go to?
Yes I do, haha, but if you see me at a show with my camera, you would most likely see me headbanging to songs all of the time, so I’m not missing out that much. And sometimes when I do a multicam shoot, I will be at the front of the stage, which to be honest can be really annoying sometimes.

I actually tried going to shows without my camera, but I found I would feel very uncomfortable, and normally after the show I would be like “Fuck, I should’ve shot that show.” So normally I shoot every show I go to, unless there are special reasons like the venue charges a ridiculous amount of money just to bring in a camera, which is totally stupid and greedy in my opinion.

What do you otherwise like to do when you’re not going to shows?
Movies. I’m a film school graduate and it gets me excited that NYC has so much to offer in terms of movies. Especially places like the IFC Center, Lincoln Center and BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music], which always come up with some of the best programs on indie, classic or even cult movies.

For those who haven’t had a chance to go there, what’s so special about Saint Vitus?
Saint Vitus Bar is a place for everyone who loves metal–you can’t really go wrong when you have a King Diamond portrait in the middle of the bar. They play all good songs in the bar, the drinks are very nice and don’t miss out on their buns!

And to me it feels like home. The people who work there know about the music, they are involved in the scene and most of them play in metal bands too. So they actually understand what is like being a metalhead. And they also book some of the best shows in Brooklyn. But don’t be an asshole and ruin other people’s good time, they will be total jerks to you if you do so. But just in general in life, DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE.


What are some tunes you’ve been spinning recently?
2014 has been an awesome year in terms of new releases. I’ve been obsessed with the new Gridlink, Indian, Eyehategod, Coffinworm and Triptykon records. But I’ve been going back to SubRosa’s More Constant Than the Gods for the past week.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Be nice and respectful to all the videographers and photographers you see at any show.

db Exclusive: The National Anthem Courtesy of Exmortus

By: Posted in: baseball rules fuck soccer, exclusive, featured, videos On: Wednesday, August 27th, 2014


Decibel‘s love of baseball is well documented, from the staff baseball road trip of years past recounted in the oral history of the magazine’s first decade to our annual baseball special. Our editor-in-chief is at this moment wondering why fate decided he should edit an extreme metal magazine rather than play in the majors.

So when we heard a rumor from our friends at Prosthetic Records that the young shredders in Exmortus served up their own version of the national anthem at a minor league game in Bakersfield, California we were all over it. Exmortus recently released the smoker Slave To The Sword and appeared in our Metal Muthas column. We’re happy to have them on the Deciblog.

Below, check out an exclusive video of Conan and David showing off their national pride and chops last week at a Class-A minor league Bakersfield Blaze game. Look for the holy shit moment when they play each other’s guitars at about 1:15.

Catch Exmortus on tour this fall with Arsis and Allagaeon, followed by a featured stop at Knotfest in late October. Dates follow the video.

8/27 Amarillo, TX – Wreck Room

8/28 Oklahoma City, OK – Leon’s Lounge

8/30 Spartanburg, SC – Ground Zero

9/1 Springfield, VA – Empire

9/2 Trenton, NJ – Championship Bar

9/3 New York, NY – Santos

9/4 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

9/5 Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques

9/6 Quebec City, QC – Dagobert

9/7 Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall

9/8 Lakewood, OH – The Foundry

9/10 Joliet, IL – Mojoes

9/11 Eau Claire, WI – House of Rock

9/12 Winnipeg, MB – The Zoo

9/13 Saskatoon, SK – Rock Bottom

9/14 Edmonton, AB – Pawn Shop

9/16 Vancouver, BC – Red Room

9/17 Seattle, WA – Studio Seven

9/18 Portland, OR – Tonic Lounge

9/19 Walnut Creek, CA – Red House Studios

9/20 Anaheim, CA – OC Music Hall

9/21 La Jolla, CA – Porter’s Pub

9/22 Mesa, AZ – Nile Theater

9/23 Denver, CO – Moon Room

9/24 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room

9/25 Fort Worth, TX – Rail Club

9/27 Orlando, FL – Haven Lounge

9/28 Tampa, FL – The Orpheum

10/2 Atlanta, GA – The Drunken Unicorn

10/3 Gainesville, FL – The Atlantic

10/4 Pensacola, FL – The Handlebars

10/5 Houston, TX – Mango’s

10/6 McAllen, TX – Aces North

10/7 Austin, TX – Holy Mountain

10/8 San Angelo, TX – Penny Pub & Grill

10/9 Midland, TX – Blue Max

10/26 San Bernardino, CA – Knotfest (Extreme Stage 005) @ San Manuel Ampitheater

Sucker For Punishment: Eleventh Observation

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, August 27th, 2014


Last week I mentioned how writers like yours truly like to cart out the phrase “fully realized” upon hearing an album we deem to be a creative zenith, as if to immediately negate anything the artist might have in store in the future. Nope, sorry, this is as good as it will ever get. If anything, it’s best to use the term in retrospect. Daydream Nation, Ege Bamyasi, Rocket to Russia, those are examples of a band’s potential being fully realized. It’s irresponsible to say the same about a band that’s still going, still pushing forward. Besides, with a songwriter like Mikael Åkerfeldt, the man is so perpetually several steps ahead of what anyone expects from him, that we critics are hoodwinked every time. As soon as we get it into out pompous heads that a certain Opeth album feels like something Åkerfeldt has been building towards all these years, he follows it up with something that expands on that idea even more.

What’s especially cute was how 2008’s album Watershed felt like such a bold step forward for Åkerfeldt and Opeth. “The title could not be more appropriate,” I wrote then. Sheesh. If I only knew. In actuality, his true watershed moment was ditching the extreme metal element from his songwriting once and for all. It’s amazing that the solution to his personal creative stasis was so stupidly simple, but it was a mental block that took him years to get over: instead of making the kind of music you feel obligated to make for your longtime fans, why not make the kind of music you personally want to listen to, and try to still keep it within the overall Opeth aesthetic? If you don’t like to listen to death metal anymore, don’t play death metal anymore. It’s as simple as that. And incredibly, Åkerfeldt made it work on 2011’s inspired Heritage, which was both a reinvention of his band and the most natural possible progression.

In the end, that’s what it’s all about for progressive rock and metal bands: progression. It’s a career-long journey, and part of the fun of the best progressive music is that when it’s happening before your eyes it feels so daring, even baffling, but in the grand scheme of things, when you take a look at that discography after 20 or 30 years, it all somehow makes sense. There have been some significant leaps for Opeth, from Orchid, to Blackwater Park, to Damnation, to Ghost Reveries, to Heritage, but grouped all together, it’s a remarkable career arc the man has created over the past couple decades. And when you crack open the latest new Opeth album and finish listening to the last track, the question that always remains is, Well, where could it possibly go from here?

In the case of Pale Communion (Roadrunner), what listeners get this time around is a lot more consistent that Heritage, which for all its great moments is in retrospect a rather charming mishmash of styles, the sound of Åkerfeldt finding himself all over again, starting essentially from scratch. In fact, the guitarist and singer has never sounded more comfortable with where he is creatively as he does on the new album, exploring numerous facets of vintage progressive rock. Touches of Deep Purple, Goblin, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, and more can be heard throughout this album, but it’s far from a quaint “retro” exercise, as Åkerfeldt uses those decades-old sounds as a launching pad for something that feels neither old-fashioned nor modern, but timeless, something completely his own.

For all the bellyaching about how Opeth isn’t “metal” anymore – please, can we let that whole thing die already? – there are still plenty of moments of darkness and striking power on Pale Communion. Only unlike Opeth’s early work, the musical palette Åkerfeldt draws from is so much richer, to the point where it’s not merely the black-and-white “light and shade” that was his forte for so long. Instead, it consists of splashes of color everywhere, those deep black brushstrokes offset by hues and tones that bring warmth, mystery, and soul.

In fact, structurally this is the most complex Opeth album since 2002’s Deliverance. The bulk of the album consist of tracks ranging from seven minutes to 11, each winding their way through Åkerfeldt’s trademark labyrinthine paths. Typically, Pale Communion doesn’t require the listener to study, but it does need time to settle in. It’s a trip that has to be taken four or five times before being able to get a handle on it, akin to sitting at a window on a train and taking in as much that rolls by as you can. A little jazz fusion here, a little playful funk there. Eastern melodies. Mellotron. Rich vocal harmonies that conjure comparisons to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Touches of string synths that add cinematic flair. Classical guitar appearing, and gone in a flash.

It all sounds so arbitrary, but that’s where the man’s skill as a songwriter works to this record’s great advantage. There are diversions, tangents, but songs never lose sight of their goal, but that resolution is often a lot more understated than, say, songs like “Deliverance” and “Blackwater Park”. And in the end, after several listens, you’re struck by your own impressions of these eight tracks. The taut “Cusp of Eternity” evokes heavy metal better than most extreme-minded bands this year. “River” is so pastoral sounding that it’s striking. “Goblin” is so damn Goblin-esque it’s practically a love letter to Claudio Simonetti. The beautiful “Faith in Others” is the best mellow track he has ever written, genuine feeling surpassing mere craftsmanship. And “Moon Above, Sun Below” is a classic Opeth epic, in which the entire band – whose supporting work on the entire album cannot be overlooked – coalesces in typically exhilarating fashion.

And of course, you’re left wondering where Åkerfeldt and Opeth will go next. But it’s also a feeling of contentment, of knowing that the master of modern progressive rock/heavy metal has never sounded more confident as a songwriter, guitarist, and singer. Again, it’s tempting to call this “peak Akerfeldt”, but it seems I say this every single time, and if you ask the guy, like any supreme talent he’ll never tell you he’s content. That perpetual lack of complacency is what makes this band so special. At this point, his audience will gladly take whatever he offers next, but in the meantime there’s Pale Communion, Opeth’s most rewarding album in many years, to take in again and again.

Also out this week:

Bastard Sapling, Instinct Is Forever (Gilead): When I first heard Bastard Sapling’s song “Lantern at the End of Time”, I practically leaped out of my seat, I was that excited to hear such a spellbinding combination of classic Hammerheart-era Bathory and vocal incantations reminiscent of Coven. It’s a glorious 11 minutes, as impeccable a black metal tune I’ve heard all year, and needless to say I was greatly looking forward to hearing the rest of the band’s new album. Typical of any other overhyped American album, sadly, Instinct is Forever is mostly bluster with very little payoff, in this case reverting to rote black metal arrangements with not enough imagination shown. It does have its moments, as “Elder”, “The Killer in Us All”, and “Forbidden Sorrow” show great promise, but nothing on this record comes remotely close to the perfection of that one highlight. Sample it via Bandcamp.

Chainbreaker, Constant Graving (self-released): This came out back in January, but this week is deadsville, and better late than never. This Toronto band features current and former members of Cauldron, Rammer, and Burn to Black, and can easily be seen as a combination of Midnight and Toxic Holocaust. In other words, filthy, no-frills thrash derived from Venom and Sodom, equal parts maniacal and catchy, with plenty of bad taste on display, right down to the cassette cover, which is crude but definitely, erm, memorable.  Hells Headbangers might want to sign these fellas ASAP. It’s available as a name-your-price download via Bandcamp. Go get it.

Circle II Circle, Live at Wacken (Armoury): I’ve never minded Zak Stevens’ affable Savatage knock-off, the prog/power tunes always decently executed and sung well by Stevens. But in this album’s case, it’s being billed as some sort of triumphant live album at the world’s biggest metal festival. That’s what they always say, when in reality it’s just another one of more than 100 bands playing over four exhausting days. And you can feel it on this recording. The silence from the crowd is deafening. There are some fans present, but mostly it’s the sound of people patiently taking in a band on a quaint side stage before moving on to the next. A god live album has a palpable energy conjured by both the band and its audience, and that’s just not happening here.

English Dogs, The Thing With Two Heads (Candlelight): I vaguely remember English Dogs from back in the day. And by “the day”, I mean a quarter century ago. This band didn’t impress me at all then, and this current incarnation does absolutely nothing either, an awkward combination of hardcore punk and thrash-derived metal that never gels.

Force of Darkness, Absolute Verb of Chaos and Darkness (Hells Headbangers): Nothing but no-frills, thrashy black metal fun on this lively little EP by the Chilean band. Tailor made for those interested in the filthier side of thrash, namely very early Sodom and Sarcofago.

Machinae Supremacy, Phantom Shadow (Spinefarm): If you think your power metal just isn’t right without corny Commodore 64 music, then this Swedish band has you covered. Frankly, I find it unbearable, but if it floats your boat, be my guest.

Sea of Bones, The Earth Wants Us Dead (Gilead): If the kind of doom you’re after is the sludgy sort, the kind that delves, deep, deep into the sludgier side of the genre to uncover something darker and uglier than the more melodic, blues-derived aspect of the sound, then you can’t go wrong with this Connecticut band. Typically it’s powerful to the point of mortifying when they slow things down to a droning, funereal pace, but it’s moments like the Neurosis-like “Black Arm” and the multifaceted “Failure of Light” where this album becomes truly exhilarating. Even the 39-minute drone piece that concludes the album is remarkable in its discipline and moodiness. You know what you’re going to get with Sea of Bones, and that still doesn’t prepare you for the wickedness they have in store. If you missed out on this fine album last year like I did, a new triple LP vinyl reissue is out now. Listen via Bandcamp.

X-Drive, Get Your Rock On (Frontiers): In which journeyman musicians – including James Lomenzo, formerly of Megadeth and White Lion – revisit the watered down cock rock of 1989 with a more, erm, “modern” sensibility. Which means it sounds exactly like Nickelback, with almost as much smarm, and zero charm. Go listen to the new Kix album instead.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers (Matador): For 15 years – wow, how time flies – The New Pornographers have served as a very welcome, sunny respite from a declining increasingly boring indie rock scene, a reminder that a simple, beautiful hook will lift your spirits more than sounding precious and looking fashionable. These old Vancouver friends have always had remarkable chemistry on record, and this sixth album ranks as one of their best. Again, it’s led by A.C. Newman, whose Jeff Lynne-via-Bacharach pop sensibility meshes so well with his enigmatic lyrics, accentuated so well by the great Neko Case, who serves as the perfect vocal foil on “Champions of Red Wine” and “Fantasy Fools”. Inimitable Destroyer impresario Dan Bejar, who always does his best work with this band, hits a high note with the playful “War on the East Coast” and the more incessant “Born With a Sound”. Initially intended as a one-off project, this band has become one of the most enduring, endearing indie bands of our time, and this album fires on all cylinders.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy