Jürgen Bartsch (Bethlehem) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, November 10th, 2014

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** Bethlehem have crafted one of the best albums of the year in Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. Strange, heavy, explorative, and dark are all adjectives to describe the group’s seventh full-length. As a concept album, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia picks up thematically where Mein Weg left off. Prepare yourself for a journey from a black, dangerous mind. Jürgen Bartsch’s mind.

Have you lost your mind?
Jürgen Bartsch: Oh surely. There are always troubles with this band. There’s all the hate we get. People leaving the band. I think I have a talent for it, if you can call it talent. I’m like an engine. If I start it, the engine stops when it’s finished. I give a shit. I’m always working against all odds. It’s my fate. Albums like this make me nuts, too. I don’t do anything else but this shit for months.

Musically, the new album is accomplished. It’s diverse.
Jürgen Bartsch: That’s true. I only say this because we do what we can because we can. We have no limits. We did Mein Weg and A Sacrificial Offering to the Kingdom of Heaven in a Cracked Dog’s Ear with Niklas [Kvarforth] from Shining because we can. Black metal people asked us why we’ve done what we’ve done with Bethlehem. We can. That’s the only answer. I don’t want to be limited to black metal. We love music. We grew up with black metal and progressed with it, but why should black metal be limited? It shouldn’t.

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is a concept album, right?
Jürgen Bartsch: Yes. This album is the final album of a trilogy. Schatten aus der Alexander Welt, Mein Weg, and the new one are part of a concept. I wrote this concept in the ‘90s. This was done on purpose, by the way. I wanted the lineup for this album to be special. Open-minded people, to open up the concept. Sure, it took too long for us to complete. Something like 13 years, but we didn’t mean for it to take that long. We were robbed of time and energy. Now that it’s finished I never want to do it again. The concept times are over for us. We will go on. We won’t be doing the S.U.i.Z.i.D. album again as well. I think this lifestyle is dead. There’s no reason to go back to the old days. We do have a screamer in the band though.

It doesn’t sound like Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia was an easy album to write.
Jürgen Bartsch: Not so easy, I would say. And I’ve been doing Bethlehem for 23 years now.

The new album grows on you. Almost like a movie soundtrack.
Jürgen Bartsch: This was done on purpose. The final chapter always has to be unique and special. The album before was a mixture of different styles and sounds. Of course, this album is over-the-top with it. We had like 200 song ideas. We had to carefully choose from those ideas. Every song had to stand on its own. Each song has its own character. That’s why it’s taken so long. We were checking off ideas, transforming them into songs.

There are some really different songs on the album. “Egon Erwin’s Mongo-Mumu”, “Ich aß gern’ Federn”, and “Letale Familiäre Insomnie” aren’t normal Bethlehem.
Jürgen Bartsch: True. Some of the songs are based on Olaf’s guitar ideas. He’s not a metalhead. He’s the only member in Bethlehem to not be a metalhead. He comes from the indie rock/punk scene. Therefore, he has a different input. I don’t have that input. He has a different feeling than I do. The album is clearly split into two. Olaf’s songs and my songs. Myself, I can easily write metal songs or sick songs. I have the right feeling for it. Olaf can write songs from a different viewpoint. He writes melodies that I’ll never think of. This is the last album with Olaf. It’s more a thank you for all the years of comradeship.

Is there a sense of duality in Bethlehem? I don’t get the sense you’re telling people death is the only way.
Jürgen Bartsch: We represent life and death. Just celebrating one side of whatever—whether it’s black and white, life and death—isn’t natural. We’ve always had humor in Bethlehem. There can’t always be only aggression. First of all, it’s boring. Second of all, it’s unreal. It’s not part of the whole. Our melancholic songs and lyrics about suicide and death had another side, but most people don’t realize it. Our songs were also pro-life. They weren’t exclusively pro-death. I hate just doing one thing. That’s probably why we have aggressive as well as positive, melodic stuff. There is a melancholic undertone to our positive, melodic stuff, I must say that.

I really like the vocal production is great. Guido sounds very full, robust throughout.
Jürgen Bartsch: Don’t tell me this. The whole album was mixed in two and half days. The mastering took two hours. I’ve been producing Bethlehem albums since 1999. I definitely have an idea of who we should sound. Markus Stock, who I’ve been working with for years, also knows how we should sound. We are on the same level. The longest period is recording the music. We wanted a spontaneous product.

Tell me about the title, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. It’s a mouthful isn’t it?
Jürgen Bartsch: I have problems speaking about how I came up with the title. When I wrote the concept it was 16 years ago. I was a different person. I was addicted to drugs. I had strange ideas about life in general. The basic concept was inspired by my visions. Of course, these visions, now that I look back on it, were from my drug abuse not from something spiritual. Anyway, the concept was about a serial killer specializing in killing young girls. Schatten aus der Alexander Welt describes this world and the demons that live within it. Mein Weg was the answer. How to get rid of your own demons. A way out of the world. This resulted in the fear of 666 or the demons Therefore, Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.

“Nazi Zombies mit Tourette-Syndrom” sounds very David Lynch. What’s the story there?
Jürgen Bartsch: “Nazi Zombies mit Tourette-Syndrom” was a gag between band members on the flight back to Germany from MDF 2012. We thought it was funny, so I kept it for a song title.

** Bethlehem’s Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is out now on Prophecy Productions. It’s available HERE, unless you fear 666. In that case, double down on your most spiritual of fears and get the 10-LP limited edition Hau Ab boxset, HERE. If you don’t know what “hau ab” means, click the link. That’s a German language lesson for the day.

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

By: admin Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, November 7th, 2014

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So much not thrilling going on this week. I dunno, maybe my beak is sore from all of this typing, I have a (ahem) hunt-and-peck approach to typing, you know…

BLOODBATH are releasing Grand Morbid Funeral; get your HM-2 pedals a-ready for the stompin’. It harkens back to the so-called glory days of early death metal, in this case the more Swedish/Sunlight Sound era. This record doesn’t feature Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt, and offers Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost on vocals instead. Aside from this (can you tell I had no transition there?), the band really has lost no steam since 2008’s The Fathomless Mastery. But we’re not here for all of that, are we? GMF is just, well, really old-school, Bloodbath is more or less a project really allows the band to experiment a little, and they don’t, but sticking to a formula in this case isn’t a bad thing. That being said, Bloodbath don’t follow a blueprint necessarily, as it can’t be said that this sounds like their previous releases. This is “heavy, organic, raw, sludgy death metal,” says their press release, and it doesn’t miss the mark. The songs here are pretty well-crafted, and I gotta say, although I’m not the HUGEST Bloodbath fan, this is pretty ripping and I’m pecking digging it. 7 Fucking Pecks.

OLD MAN GLOOM are putting out Ape of God, but all of the promos that have been going around have been proven to be false to avoid leaks, so I’m not sure what to review, so I’ll just post this.

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Dr. Zaius is an “Ape of God.” Get it?

SSS come at us with Limp.Gasp.Collapse, and while I’m normally a fan of these guys, I’m having a hard time finding this one in my ear holes all of the time. This crossover act has short bursts of speed mixed in with the occasional mosh riffs. This is normally right in my cage (wheelhouse); I just find this one a little trite. The vocals seem off (energy-wise) and the guitars don’t really have enough bite. You know when thrash bands get to like their third or fourth record, and the record isn’t bad, but just like a little stale? It sounds like that. The riffs are good, but I think the production lends to a bit of sterility that I wish wasn’t here. Not to say that this sucks, because it doesn’t; just wish the production lended to having more life. 4 Fucking Pecks.

VENGEANCE RISING, Released Upon the Earth reissue. UGH. (Formerly) Christian “grindcore.” Grindcore being a VERY loose term here. FURTHER proof you can be old-school and STILL suck. 1 Fucking Peck.

TMaFLH Update: The Cold View

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, November 7th, 2014

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Last year we featured a German drone/doom project called The Cold View, who had, at that point, recorded a five-song suite called Weeping Winter that could successfully leech all heat-potential from a newborn star and leave behind only frozen dust and brittle ash.

Luckily for anyone still able to feel positive emotion after listening to Weeping Winter, The Cold View’s mastermind didn’t stop there.  He has since recorded a bonus track for WW‘s physical release through Russian label GS Productions, as well as a new album called Wires of Woe, Ways of Waste through the Endless Winter record label.  Beyond getting double the W’s (quadruple-u?), you’ll hear over an hour of new depressing darkness in the form of four new tracks (named, unsurprisingly, “Wires” and “Woe” and “Ways” and “Waste”).

We caught up with A.A.S. again for an update on his project and his impressions of the new album.  Develop your own impressions with a full stream from the Cold View Bandcamp site, and be sure to check out the Cold View official website.  Maybe your loneliness won’t feel so lonely.

The last album was winter-themed, and songs were actually written around the winter months.  Last time we spoke you mentioned that you had another concept in mind for the follow up:  is this the concept you developed into Wires of Woe, Ways of Waste?

Everything that I create with The Cold View, from music to artwork and to lyrics, is in some way interconnected. It is all part of a concept that is proceeding from record to record. This concept should get clearer with the second album Wires of Woe, Ways of Waste. But maybe it will not get comprehensible until the release of the third album – at least I hope it will come to a third album.

I do not want to reveal too much of the underlying concept. I do not want to make a huge affectation out of it and I want to leave it to the listener, if he or she wants to make some thoughts about my creations.

But for those interested I would like to give some hints. Just look at the album titles, the song titles, how stylistic devices get used, repeated, altered, enhanced and progressed. Or look at the themes and the point of view in the lyrics. This all should make some sense by considering the band name, that derives from a concept how to see the things in the world. This concept was popular in the intellectual avant-garde of the early 20th century for a short time and was fundamentally inspired by Nietzsche. The first album was written from an ego perspective dealing with the cold season and personal emotions connected with it. The second album takes a more neutral view and is dealing with the “coldness” in the modern world and society.

Musically the concept changed from using much more sequencer and synthesizer as on the debut album Weeping Winter to using much more guitars on the second album Wires of Woe, Ways of Waste. Many layers of guitars got arranged one upon the other. I made extensive use of acoustic guitar, that was recorded clean and re-amped afterwards. Many drones are based upon field recordings that got excessively manipulated. I did a lot of experimental sound creation. So I played synths through guitar amps or used guitar recordings for sequencers, to name just two examples.

Did you approach the writing or recording process for the new songs any differently than on Weeping Winter?

Of course I got more experience over the time so I could optimize the work-flow of the recording process. I also bought some better equipment and switched from 16Bit/44,1hz to a more professional 24Bit/88,2kHz recording quality. So there were some changes from the technical side.

The creative process in contrast did not change that much. I am always developing ideas in my mind and use them when I am writing some base compositions. The main creative work still happens while actively working on a song. The most experimental sounds and compositional refinements also get created while working on the song. The advantage of this approach is maximum freedom, spontaneity and also a higher involvement while recording. The disadvantage is that the outcome is not projectable in every case. I at least reject as many recordings as I retain.

As I said before, the compositions of the debut were mostly based on synths and sequencers. On the second album the compositions were mostly aligned to the guitars. Of course this had an impact on the process of composing and creating. Also the songs got much longer than on the debut. On both albums the song structures are far away from usual pop compositions and did change from record to record. Even though I intentionally wanted to create longer songs, the compositions on Wires of Woe, Ways of Waste needed a longer runtime to breathe and proceed.

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Did the album turn out the way you first imagined it?

I am very happy with the result of the new album. Nevertheless there is always much room for improvement, from recording to composition to musical skills. And of course there is a gap between intention and result. The trick is to be aware of this mismatch of imagination and realization. I creatively use these shortcomings to create something that maybe gets different from what was intended, but in the end is satisfying and fitting well.

Your doom sound is much sparser than most other albums in that style.  Why do you think this is?

I do not really know if everybody would agree that my doom sound is “sparser” than of others. In fact, I do think that my sound is different from other Funeral Doom albums. My songs are less melodic and rhythmically less varied. The reason for this is that my music is very influenced by Drone. That’s why I actually think that I do not create music in a tight sense. I do judge myself as creative with sound. I am utilizing many effects and I am using the interferences of different track layers to shape sounds. So also the riffs are even more far away from the clearness of other records. To sum it up, my creations are strongly focused onto sound. Everyone who feels up to listen close enough will find many details. Good headphones or good speakers are mandatory.

How did you get hooked up with Endless Winter for this release?

As I did for the first album, I again wrote to a couple of smaller labels which are dedicated to Doom, Drone or Extreme Metal in general. I did not get a label for the first album, so I was very happy to have two labels interested into the second album. Endless Winter and GS Productions from Russia were interested and both left a good impression. The persons behind the labels do know each other and in the end we agreed that Endless Winter would do the second album and GS Productions the re-release of the debut including one bonus track. The guys are great people who are doing what they love and helped me to put my records into great physical releases. I have the impression that Russia is a country with a higher interest in Doom Metal and Funeral Doom than somewhere else. But also in Russia the Doom genre still is just a niche of Metal and extreme music, of course.

Are there any specific personal reasons you chose to explore “the loss of identity in the modern world, about the alienation which is born out of a technocratic material civilization” on the new album, or is this just a theme that happens to fit your music well?

Indeed I think that this theme fits to the music very well. And I think it is a theme that many people out there are familiar with. Personally it is something where I am concerned. The most people seem to be affected by it even more, independently if they know it or not. The theme also is part of the underlying concept of The Cold View. The first album is about the self, tortured by personal struggles and lost in nature. The second album deals with the isolated individual human existence, completely absorbed by consumption, technology and left in separation of nature. Even though my thoughts are not new, they may be not too common for the lyrics in Funeral Doom. This album and its perspective are the logical progression if you consider the concept of The Cold View.

The Other Side of the Same Coin: An Interview with Merdarahta’s Topon Das

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, interviews, listen, videos On: Thursday, November 6th, 2014

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For those who came late to the on-going party that is Fuck the Facts, you might not realise that some of the earliest works with the FtF brand on ‘em came more from the noise side of the extreme music spectrum. And if you take into consideration that we recently dedicated an entire issue to the noisier outposts of sound, it’s a safe bet that a little less musical structure and lack of overt “killer riffs, dude” is going to scare us away.

From the mind of Fuck the Facts mastermind, Topon Das comes Merdarahta, an atmospheric-ambient-experimental-drone-doom-noise project that more approximates the sound of the Earth spinning on its axis funnelled through a two-tiered pedal board than it does “killer riffs, dude.” There already exists a prolific collection of releases (with Solar Pulse being the latest) all of which you can sample at the band’s Bandcamp page. Enjoy the soothing/harsh soundscapes as you read the following introductory interview with Topon.

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So, the history of Merdarahta goes back a couple years. When and why did you start heading down this path? Was it an inverse creative reaction to what you do in Fuck the Facts and most of the bands you end up recording?
My interest in noise goes back almost as early as my interest in grindcore. Some of the very early FtF releases in the 90’s were straight up noise/experimental releases. When FtF became a full band in 2001, we still did a few more releases like this, but with time we veered more towards the path of being a grindcore and metal band. I never lost interest in noise and more experimental music and we always included elements of this in all of our releases, but with the busy FtF schedule I didn’t have a proper outlet to dive full-on into it. The real beginnings of this project started in the summer of 2010. It’s hard to pin point an exact time as the beginning because I didn’t all of a sudden decide that I was going to start an “ambient noise doom” project. I just started going down to our rehearsal space with a guitar, a loaded pedal board and a couple of beers. The idea was to just improvise and play until I found an end. I wasn’t worried about writing riffs or structuring a song, I would just start and see where it would take me. Since recording is one of my big passions, I recorded almost every session that I did and this ended up being the basis of what would become the first few Merdarahta releases. This was all happening while FtF was working on our album Die Miserable, and I had recorded a track like this for the bonus section of the CD. The track is titled “Oct 26th” (the date that it was recorded) and this is what I consider to be the beginning of Merdarahta. The first Medarahta release, Snake Charmer/Towers was also initially intended to be released under the FtF name, but that’s when I decided to make this a separate project. I knew I wanted to do more with it, and it just felt like it needed to be it’s own entity.

It’s only been now that you’re starting to take Merdarahta a bit more seriously. Why’s now suddenly and doesn’t the fact that FtF has gone more independent make time for anything else a bit of a struggle?
The main reason I never did more with Merdarahta was simply because FtF is so busy. I’m definitely always working around having a full plate with my band, studio work and family life, but even when we were on Relapse, I didn’t have time for much else. FtF had a bit of downtime, so I wanted to try directing some energy into this different outlet. It’s pretty fun and exciting for me because I haven’t had another “band” in almost 10 years. Luckily with it being a collaboration project more than an actual band, it’s easier to manage.

You started this project, but the participation aspect of it has changed. Who else is involved? Why and when did you start bringing others in?
It started as 4/5ths of Fuck the Facts, plus our friend Leigh Newton from The Sun Through a Telescope. But since then I’ve been trying to bring in different collaborators with each release. My next-door neighbour Seb Choquette from the band Mekhaya, is actually one of the mainstays now, but we’ve had Adam Jennings from Winters in Osaka and Mike Raymond from Black Oak Decline, as well as ex-FtF member Dave Menard on different Merdarahta releases. From the beginning I wanted it to be more of a collaboration project rather than a band. As a general rule I try to keep it to seven people on each release. I already have a list of different people that will be on future releases, but I also do ask some people to come back and contribute again. I get a feeling on how things are clicking and the contributor’s general interest, and then just take it from there. I could definitely do this project all on my own, but there’s something that’s exciting about working with different people and seeing what ideas they come up with. It’s similar to FtF in the way that I like to have the creative input from others, but different in the way that I take a lot more control in shaping Merdarahta than I do FtF.

How are the recordings done and structured? Does each person add their own parts in isolation or in collaboration? Do you find certain people doing more improv, going down more structured avenues or using certain sounds more than others?
I always end up recording Mel & Vil (Fuck the Facts), and every time we record its just straight up improvisation. They might have heard the track once before, but I’ll just hit record and let them do their thing. In the end, I might end up doing a bit of editing, but as with everything else in this project, it’s very minimal. As for the other collaborators, I just send them the base track via e-mail for them to record their parts to. They have the benefit of working on parts if they chose to. Again, I’ll take what gets sent back to me and work it in. I have even taken something that was contributed and used it as the base of a completely new track if I felt it didn’t really work in the piece. Not much ever gets completed deleted, but sometimes it’ll sit more in the background as ambience rather than the focus.

In the going back-and-forth with different contributors, how do you know when a particular song is “done”? Is there a lot of free reign for whoever’s adding their part to do something on the “outlandish” or unexpected side of things? Have you ever had it where you just didn’t like what you got back?
What I get from the different collaborators is completely up to them. I never tell anyone what to do or what I expect, and 90% of the time I’m really happy with what I get back. For some people it comes a lot more naturally to do something like this, and they are doing different things and experimenting more with non-traditional instruments. Others approach it in a more standard fashion, which can also work. If I get something I really feel doesn’t work, I’ll cut it or try using it elsewhere. A good example would be the track “Breathe,” that guitar melody started as something that was meant to be mixed in with a different track, but I felt it worked much better on it’s own. So I sent that isolated track to just a couple of other collaborators and it ended up being my favourite track on the release. Most of the time though, its just finding where everything needs to fit level-wise. There have been parts I thought didn’t work, but turning it down, or even up, can usually make it find it’s place. I know the person had something in mind when they recorded the part, but sometimes I might just not hear it the same. As for when things are finished, usually it’s once I have all the tracks and have spent a couple of weeks listening and tweaking it. Like with any sort of music writing/creation, you have to just reach a point and say, “ok, it’s done now.”

What does the name of the band/project mean or refer to?
Merdarahta is actually taken from the title of a Fuck the Facts ambient noise piece that we released in 2002 on a split CD with Czech grind band Feeble Minded. As much as Merdarahta is a separate project, it was important to me that they still stay connected in someway.

Is the live band very much different from the recorded band? Musically, how faithful are you to what you’ve put down on tape or is Merdarahta live quite different from Merdarahta on record?
Right now, Merdarahta live is very different from the recorded output. When I decided to take the project to a live setting, the initial idea was for it to be completely improvised and also with a revolving line-up. We did three shows with a different line-up where we would create a different piece for each show, but recently we’ve stabilized the live line-up to be Mel Mongeon, Leigh Newton, Seb Choquette and myself. Instead of writing a new piece for each show, we have one that is morphing overtime. There’s a basic structure, but also a lot of room for improvisation. I’m not 100% sure where I want to go with Merdarahta live. For now we have something that works, but I know I don’t want to settle into being a “band” with a solid line-up. I want to keep the door open to change and different variation on the project.

What are some of the more discernible challenges in creating music on the more minimal end of things as opposed to grind with a traditional two-guitar/bass/drums/vocals line-up?
I would be lying if I didn’t say it was much easier. Working on Fuck the Facts material takes a lot more of my time and just a lot more focus. Working on Merdarahta tracks is just about getting relaxed and listening. Any adjustments I do are very minimal and I never want to go overboard with any sort of processing, so the workflow is very smooth.

What have some of the more interesting reactions you’ve had directed at Merdarahta, from those more familiar with FtF and otherwise?
It’s cool because Merdarahta has really attracted a different audience. There hasn’t been a big draw from the FtF crowd over to Merdarahta. I’m sure there are a few people that enjoy both projects, but if anything I see a whole different group of people at a Merdatahta shows than I see at FtF shows, and even on-line I see a different group of listeners for both bands.

Now that you’re working with a bit more focus, do you have any goals or aspirations for the project that you didn’t necessarily have in the past?
It started really just as something that I wanted to do for fun and now it’s turning into something that I could see myself continuing for a long while. I want to pursue it as I would any band, with more releases, shows and possible touring, but mainly I want to see where I can take it to keep things fresh and interesting without totally abandoning the initial vibe and concept of the project. I have a lot of different ideas and an evolution already in mind for Merdarahta, so we’ll see where that takes us and how it all comes together. Most importantly it has to be very different from Fuck the Facts. I always think of Merdarahta as being the right side of my brain band and FtF the left side. With both these projects I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds and it’s nice to be able to jump back and forth between them depending on my mood.

Check ‘em out on Bandcamp, Facebook or watch this:

As well, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Fuck the Facts has a new EP out and available; the first release from their Noise Salvation imprint. Entitled Abandoned, it consists of three songs that were originally written for their last album, Die Miserable and you can give the tuens a whirl on the band’s Bandcamp page, here.

Encrotchment With Eddie Gobbo From Jar’d Loose: Week 9

By: Eddie Gobbo Posted in: encrotchment, featured, nfl 2014 On: Thursday, November 6th, 2014

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Don’t blame me. I voted for Gibby Haynes.

Slow, Still and Swaggin’

I’ve been a sports fan since 1984, when I came out of Dan Marino’s womb. I’ve been a metal fan since 1994, when I seen Cannibal Corpse in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, staring Dan Marino. One of the first dudes I remember meeting in the Chicago music scene that rocked the metal/sports lifestyle, like me, was Dave Hofer, author of the new biography of bassist and heavy metal legend Danny Lilker, Perpetual Conversion.

I used to watch Hofer from afar. He would rock a Pittsburgh Pirates hat on the regular. I assumed he was from Pittsburgh. Turns out he was from the suburbs of Chicago, and his wife (then girlfriend) Missy was from Pittsburgh. As you can guess, Dave and Missy are both “Stillers” fans as well. (Two people recently emailed me to point out that I’m spelling “Steelers” wrong; I’m doing it purposely to reflect the accent of yinz in Pittsburgh, ya jagoffs!!!)

The Stillers are playing amazing football right now, led by the most productive receiver in the league, a guy named Antonio Brown. Is this team a legit AFC Championship threat? An unbiased Hofer thinks so:

“Last season, the Steelers hit their stride too late in the season and finished 8-8. This year, they’ve made good adjustments much earlier in the season. Big Ben’s played lights-out the past couple of weeks. I could see them in the Super Bowl, easily.”

The last time the Stillers went to the Bowl, I ran into Hofer wearing a yellow shirt that said, “Ike Taylor: Swaggin’ U.” He told me that Missy had it made for him. Apparently Ike Taylor, when he introduces himself on Sunday Night Football, says “Swaggin’ U” instead of the normal [insert legit university name here]. This fact was confirmed a few weeks later when the three of us watched a Stillers SNF game together. I’ve been pissed lately because Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs has ripped off Taylor’s gimmick. On SNF , Suggs introduces himself as, “Hacksaw: Ball So Hard University.” I’m such a badass sports journalist that I actually recorded Suggs saying it this past week , uploaded it to YouTube, and have the clip for you right here.

I had to ask Hofer if he too was aware of/offended by Suggs doing this:

“Sadly, yes. I am aware of this. Weak imitation.”

Now, unlike Hofer and myself, there’s one man that has been very anti-Stillers lately: my dad. For the last several weeks, he has been wrapped up in gambling on them. The problem isn’t that they aren’t winning; it’s that my dad thinks they are too “slow” to watch. When we were watching them play the Jags a couple weeks back, my dad rose from his couch during a Stillers drive and yelled, “YOU’RE SLOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” at his big-screen TV. It reminded me of a grade school gym teacher yelling at the fat kid in the back of the line when the class is running laps. The following week, in a big matchup against the Browns, the Steelers ran the ball three consecutive times, gaining four yards each. My dad again rose from his seat and said, “I can’t watch this anymore. This team bores me,” and stormed out of the room. What does Hofer think?

“I don’t think they play slow or sluggish. The Steelers offensive m.o. is to take the lead, and then start running the ball to wear down the defensive line of their opponent, as well as drain the clock.”

I see both sides of the argument. The Stillers are a methodical throwback offense. They like the run game, the short pass, the scrambling QB and the old reliable tight end. But yes, by NFL standards these days, they lack the certain dazzling speed most NFL teams have. I believe this actually leads them to wins. They are not what defenses are used to facing these days.

To all you parents out there, let this be a lesson: Never yell at your TV in front of your children. Address all grievances with your television in private, or in a session with a licensed Cable Guy present.

If you’re looking for a great holiday gift for the metalhead in your life, look no further than Hofer’s new book, Perpetual Conversion. As an avid reader of rock biographies, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s frankly the first of its kind: a biography of the life of a metal legend who existed exclusively in the underground. I’m proud to say it was written by a friend of mine, and a man that bleeds both black and/or yellow, depending on how much beer he consumed while watching the game.

perpetual

In the Cards

Welp, we’re officially halfway through the NFL season, and the best team in football is the Arizona Cardinals (The SI Power Rankings tell me how to think).

Good for the Cards! I guarantee their preseason mindset had a lot to do with them being the NFL’s only 7-1 team. They knew going into the season that they were in a division with arguably the two best teams in football, Seattle and San Francisco. They had to have their game tight, like Kobe on game night. Mistake-free football on both sides of the ball was the only way they’d might be in the conversation come December. And in said conversation they are.

What’s weird about the Cardinals is that their overall team stats actually lack luster. They are ranked 23rd in the league in yards per game (330.4), and only 14th in points per game (24.0). They’re also not in the top 15 of any major team defensive category. Bruce Arians has them playing an interesting style of football. It’s basically bend, but don’t break, but make SURE you win. The Cards will not shut out a team, nor will they blow out a team, and that’s OK (as Stuart Smalley would say). They’ve won three games by exactly 11 points this year, and the rest have all been wins by less than 11. Every one of their toast-of-the-league counterparts all have several wins where they’ve LEVELED teams. But that’s just the 2014 Cardinals. They are neither feast nor famine. They are just a team that wins (with a hard schedule coming up, so they better hold steady).

Shout-out to Carson Palmer, a man who everyone assumed would be retired, backing up some rookie, or packing lunches at this point. His stats aren’t strong, but his leadership is. And lastly, watch Arians jog to mid-field after a win. It’s Baywatch-esc!

FinTrolling

Now let’s meet the Arizona Cardinals, Jr., the Miami Dolphins. Like every girl in Miami, they’re hot. For the first time under coach Joe Philbin, the team has an identity not associated with bullying; they’re a fast, young team, with an efficient offense. Let’s not discount this giant feat. A team getting an identity is not easy. The last time the Fins had an identity, it was a weird one. Coach Tony Sparano had them playing a mafia-style wildcat, with RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams getting direct snaps. That worked for a few weeks, until the entire league figured out how to defend it in unison (stack the box every down).

Is QB Ryan Tannehill a superstar? No. But in the last five weeks, he’s played like one. Frankly, he’s played the best football of his NFL career. I attribute this to his offensive line not calling in sick like they usually do. If you watched a Dolphins game last year, it was like watching missionary position fetish porn. Tannehill was on his back THE WHOLE TIME! The Fins gave up a league-worst 56 sacks last year. This year, sacks are down, Tannehill is up, and therein lies two more porn references.

Here’s the problem: I see this Dolphin wave of success coming a halt, and quick. The Fins’ next three games will be unbelievably trying. The results could make, but will more than likely break, their season. This Sunday, they draw the Lions at Ford Field. They wont be able to run with this team in a shootout. This is rub of having an offense without a second gear. Shootouts kill you. Then they have a short week, playing the Bills on Thursday. The Bills are going to want to hit this team Rob Ford-on-a-pipe style. The Fins will probably come away with a win, but at the price of embarrassment, unanswered questions and someone more than likely getting seriously injured, also like Rob Ford. (Did you vote this week, by the way?)

Then the Fins go to Denver. Ugh.

6-5 going into December with match-ups against the New England, Baltimore and the two with the Jets (who will probably take one) is not conducive to a playoff berth. This week in Detroit is the Super Bowl for the Fins. They lose, no playoffs. It’s as simple as that. Gear up, Gloria Estefan employees.

Are You There, Mark? It’s Me, God

Welcome to Hell. I’ll be your tour guide.

[English Accent] Me Mum Never Lets Me Listen to Fucking Punk Rawk.

And finally this week, the Dallas Cowboys are currently in London preparing for their tilt against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Someone in the Cowboys front office, who probably has had sex with Jerry Jones, came up with the ingenious Twitter hashtag for all things Cowboys-related in England: #CowboysUK. As bad as that hashtag is, it doesn’t come close to the onecurrently being used by their personal English chef: #CowboysUKcook.

Pick of the Week

New Orleans -3 over Frisco

TRACK PREMIERE: Centinex’s “Rotting Below”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Thursday, November 6th, 2014

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Got an iron deficiency? Ask your doctor to prescribe Centinex. Manufactured in Sweden using a formula passed down for generations, Centinex will provide you with all your daily metal requirements. Side effects may include headbanging, moshing, and death. Do not take Centinex if you suffer from whiplash.

Try out a sample dose below.

***The FDA approves Redeeming Filth on November 21, so look for it from Agonia Pharmaceuticals. You can preorder it here and keep track of any new developments here.

Decibrity Playlist: Giant Squid (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, November 6th, 2014

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Giant Squid‘s debut LP, Metridium Fields, was re-recorded in the very early days of Decibel and we’ve been following the group’s musical trajectory ever since. Fortunately, the band is still going strong, having released a new album at the end of October. While guitarist/vocalist Aaron John Gregory described the record as a “giant love letter to the Mediterranean and specifically Bronze-age Greece,” the essay he penned for us below is his epic love letter to music. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did. Be sure to pick up a copy of Giant Squid’s latest LP, Minoans, here and stay tuned for part two next week.

How I discovered some important music while growing up in the suburban wastelands of Sacramento (open an ale, grab some headphones and keep an open mind).

I owe my entire musical existence to punk rock. Seriously. Well, maybe Nirvana before punk. And actually, probably Master of Puppets before Nirvana, but I didn’t know that yet when I heard it, cause my initial reaction to that album was pretty much total fucking terror (story below). But the scars that Puppets left on my eight year old self most likely resurfaced into something useful much later on. And even before that, it was The Monkees and Beach Boys all day long–mostly “best of” tapes for both–so I’m sure they too planted some important seeds in my early musical consciousness because I rocked the shit out those bands on my Grandpa’s Sony boombox cassette player growing up.

One thing was sure: I actively wanted to listen to music when I was really young and just fed my desire with whatever was catchy and close at hand in my sheltered, suburban life growing up in Carmichael, CA, a suburb of Sacramento. Mostly all my parents had laying around was 90% Jimmy Buffet, so pickings were very, very slim. But as I got older and started to put myself out there, Sacramento turned out to be not such a bad place to grow up and discover important music.

My Dad one day took me skiing. I was about eight. I fucking hated skiing. My Dad fucking loved skiing. Skiing scared the shit out of me, but I wanted to make the old man happy and not be a pussy, because we all know that skiing in the ’80s was super manly. Before we hit I-80 East towards Reno, we stopped at Tower Records in Orangevale, CA, right by Sunrise Mall. He wanted to grab some album that had just come out. I wanna say it was something cool like 38 Special, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks or The Kinks (which was about as cool as my Dad’s musical taste got), but I’m sure it was just another fucking Jimmy Buffet album. I can’t remember. But my Dad, among many things, was a generous dude and asked If I wanted something too. Here’s where my memory becomes crystal fucking clear. There was an endcap display of tapes, all with the craziest, darkest, most alluring picture on the front: hands in the sky playing a graveyard of tombstones as if they were marionette dolls. The top of the display repeated the image in a huge card board cutout and read: Metallica Master of Puppets. I’ll take this one.

On the first ski run of the day, I ate shit so hard and so ugly that my left leg twisted sideways at the knee, well beyond where even my childish rubber bones were capable of going. The pain was excruciating. I remember the panic and regret on my Dad’s face. One of the clearest memories I’ll ever have of him. The ski patrol came up and put me on a sled, hauled me down the mountain and Dad got me back to our Dodge camper van–one of those pop top versions with a side bench, little bathroom, sink and fridge. Now, my Dad was young. If I was barely eight, then my Dad was like 29ish. So I don’t necessarily blame him for doing what he did next. It boiled down to, “Are you okay? Yeah? Maybe rest here in the van a bit, listen to your new tape. Here’s a bottle of water and some vanilla wafers. I’m going to go get a couple more runs in, that okay?” Sure pops. Again, I can’t blame him. I ate snow on the first run half way down the bunny hill. My old man wanted to bounce black diamonds in his one-piece ski suit and aviators. So he bailed, but not after putting in my tape.

Now see the first paragraph above. Everything up to this point in my musical life was “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Little Surfer Girl”. My new tape starts to play. The gorgeous acoustic intro of “Battery” starts. I’m thinking, wow, this is really pretty. I did good on this pick. Then, well, ya know, “Battery” really starts, and I’m sure I spiritually shit myself. I remember so clearly just being fucking frightened. Laying on my back on the van bench, knee killing me, cold and alone, fucking “Battery” blasting. I made it only about ten or fifteen minutes in before pussing out and turning the stereo off, which would put me at about “The Thing That Should Not Be”. No wonder I aborted the mission.

Back then, I shelved the tape and didn’t revisit it ’til I was in sixth grade, most likely to impress, or scare off, the jocky neighborhood kids who listened to NWA and 2 Live Crew. I still have that exact tape to this day. And still think it’s one of the greatest, heaviest, most perfect albums ever made.

Nirvana: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came on the radio when I was 13 and quickly my Appetite for Destruction and Master of Puppets tapes started collecting dust. I don’t need to say anything else about Nirvana. It’s all been said a million times before. What I can say is that I fucking loved Nirvana. My walls were wallpapered with posters and pics of the band. I bleached and then died my long hair with red Manic Panic. I wore shitty cardigans and tattered jeans.

About this time, the internet was just barely becoming a thing. The kid across the street had a computer and a program called Prodigy, which worked sort of like an internet browser by having internal message boards. I started going over there and writing other fans to trade live bootleg tapes via the mail. CDs were picking up momentum and some European companies were releasing live bootlegs on disc. After a while, one badly recorded Nirvana concert sounded like another, and years later I got rid of most of them. One CD in particular though was called Seventh Heaven, which I still have today. Earliest released version of “Rape Me” and two devastating versions of “Aneurysm” live.

When Nirvana played the Bosnia Rape Victim Benefit at the Cow Palace, my best buddy’s Mom drove us out there. When Kurt walked out on stage, I was only two people away from him, or should I say, two people away from the front barrier. At that moment all of the Cow Palace surged forward. I was a scrawny 15 year old. I lasted about six songs before feeling like I was going to shit and puke at the same time. I looked behind me and there was a mountain of a man, like a biker if an oak tree could be a biker. He looked at me, saw me turning green, asked if I needed help, which I most certainly did, and grabbed me. Somehow, against thousands of people seemingly pressing down on him, he was able to turn around and push me through some of the crowd and away from the stage…directly into the “mosh pit”. From there I battled my way to the bleachers and sat down, sad, watching the rest of the show. They played a bunch of jams from the yet-to-be-released In Utero.

That’s the concert above. As Kurt walks out, imagine me about eight feet in front of him. So fucking stoked to have seen him live. Fast forward 15 minutes in and watch them them plow through “Milk It” for the first time probably ever live.

Punk rock: About the same time I was really into Nirvana, I discovered punk rock. My first show ever was The Dead Milkmen at the legendary Cattle Club, about a year before that Nirvana gig above. I think my second gig was NOFX at the same venue. I had some Angry Samoans tapes, a couple Circle Jerks and D.I. tapes and finally some Dead Kennedys albums. I loved it all. Fast, pissed, easy to understand. But most of these bands were also damn fucking goofy, even when they were trying to really convey something lyrically of importance. Then, a neighborhood kid who had spent most of our time growing up together being the biggest thorn-in-my-side bully asshole, asked if I knew who the Subhumans were. And of course, when I didn’t, he made me feel like the fucking know-nothing poser that I surely was, of course…ahem. So, I went out to the local record shop just down the street that had a surprisingly well stocked punk rock section and promptly stole (sorry Mom) my first Subhumans tape, EP-LP. Fuck the bully for being such a fucking prick through elementary and junior high, but god bless him for exposing me to such amazing music.

The Subhumans changed my life.

I was vegetarian for over ten years after listening to the incredible peace-punk messages deeply entrenched in the Subs’ songs. I fucking rejected authority (high-school teachers), questioned my country (wore a shitty American flag upside down on my lame bomber jacket) and started really wanting to get good at bass, which was my instrument of choice then. Because the Subhumans weren’t just lyrically captivating in their anarcho-socio brilliance, they were goddamn progressive rock! No, they were still punk, punk as fuck! But they intermixed other genres of music like British style rocksteady reggae, Black Sabbath style doom licks and oddball time changes like early Genesis. They had a 16 minute song that took up the entire second side of an LP! And all of it was never contrived, never self-serving, never corny. It stayed pissed, dark, abrasive and was fast as fuck at times, while still slowing down to allow the band to stretch its musical prowess. Bruce, the Submhumans’ guitarist, will go down as my biggest influence today. His tendency to bounce around half-step driven, odd time, punk dirge riffs is the foundation of anything I attempt to do on guitar more than 20 years later.

For me, a metalhead looking to listen to Subs for the first time should start at From the Cradle to the Grave and then Worlds Apart. All of their albums are flawless, but those two records in general are the highest level of craft punk rock has ever achieved and are basically progressive rock masterpieces. I dare anyone to argue that point. The first Subhumans video is the 16 minute side B track from Cradle to the Grave, the second is Worlds Apart in its entirety.

Here’s a video of Giant Squid covering a Subhumans song at a Citizen Fish show we played a while back. One of the most fun moments I’ve ever had on stage.

About this time, I finally had a real solid band with a slew of songs. We were called Eggs in Your Face. It was a combination of dumbed down Nirvana simpleness and F.Y.P. snarkiness, all put to a 1-2, 1-2 fast punk beat, and it fucking ruled. I played bass and did “back up” vocals. My other Nirvana obsessed friend, Jason Divine, played guitar and sang and wrote the lyrics. Jordan, who was from another band that I was trying to get going called The Retards, played drums. The Retards, despite the dumb-as-fuck name, thought we sounded like the Submhumans or Minor Threat, at least in spirit. But Eggs in Your Face just sounded like three brats who were outside your house throwing eggs at your car.

One day, Jason and I both got pulled into the principal’s office separately when a little comic strip trading scheme we had was discovered. Sophomore year we both had art class at different periods. I’d draw some ridiculous Eggs In Your Face themed comic, usually us kicking dogs or blowing up the school, and placed it in his bin. Then he’d come to class second period and find it, laugh, then one-up me with something funnier, which I’d find next time I came in. Back then, Jason could draw circles around me, so shit got really good, and really crass, very quick. Of course the hippie art teacher eventually found it and reported it, hence the visit to the principal’s office. This was all pre-Columbine; we would have been expelled if it was ten years later, or worse. The principal asked if we really wanted to kick dogs or blow up the school. Of course we said no. I fucking love dogs. So we were off the hook, but were told to cut that shit out. So we channeled our ridiculous ideas through our band.

The video above is a pretty rad live recording of us playing at a party. I dare you to get three songs in. “Bring Dynamite to Your School” is one of my faves.

Soon after, towards the end of my junior year in high school, I met the dudes who would go on to create Giant Squid with me. But first we had to trudge through years of figuring it out. We started a band called The Pedestrians, which then changed its name to The Chinese Connection (simply after the Bruce Lee movie and for no other reason) and eventually The Connection. All incarnations played fast-ass punk with jarring breaks into upbeat rocksteady reggae. Yup. The Pedestrians played countless local shows at every coffee shop, parking lot, friend’s garage, pizza parlor, bowling alley and even during lunch at our high school. By the time we were The Connection, we sort of knew what we were doing and started recording in studios to 1″ tape. By the time we matured into The Connection, I tried to become Mr. Social Commentator. Again, listening to way too much Subhumans and Citizen Fish.

The video above is a snippet of us playing at a pizza place in Davis, California, 1996. Thanks to Ryan Bird for uploading this recently and several of the other videos below.

*Stay tuned for Part 2 next week

**Photo by Lauren Wiest

***Order a copy of Giant Squid’s Minoans here

****For past Decibrity entries, click here

Video Premiere: Deadkill’s “Shakes”

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: exclusive, featured, videos On: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

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Massive hangovers! Camel breath! Riffs! Hair of the dog shots! Barfing on video! Fortunately, these guys decided to walk to the bar for another day of partying.

The aforementioned bad behaviors are in full effect in the low production cost but high comedic value video debut of Deadkill’s “Shakes.” Decibel premiered the No, Never! album in the beginning of 2014. Back then, the band told us “Shakes” was about: “going balls on the bottle then trying to hold it together the next morning.” This is something many of our staffers understand all too well.

Now, we’re the first to show you their Beastie Boys antics meet Circle Jerks sound. Check out the “Shakes” video below and touch base with the band here. The LP version of No, Never! is still available from our friends at Good To Die Records.

Exclusive Stream: Hollow Earth, “The Reclamation”

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

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If you’re looking for some doom-y metallic hardcore nastiness, rising Michigan badasses Hollow Earth are here to oblige. We’ve got an exclusive stream of the uber-brutal slow-burner “The Reclamation” of band’s upcoming debut full-length, Silent Graves.

Check it out. Preorder here. Metal Injection has got the video for “Swallowing Knives.” Tour dates after the jump.

New Nader Sadek Studio Video: “Deformation by Incision”

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, listen, videos On: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

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We love Nader Sadek up in the Decibel compound – and by compound I mean the various living rooms, man caves and bathrooms where all this shit gets put together on a monthly basis.  If you’re a subscriber, you are getting/have gotten the new 4-song EP, The Malefic (including current band members Flo Mounier on drums, Rune Eriksen and Bobby Koelble on guitars, and Travis Ryan on vox), with the most recent issue of the magazine.  Barring that, anyone checking out the mag and the blog over the past couple years has seen some great reviews and premieres of the project’s material to date.

Travis

The Malefic‘s savage opening track, “Deformation by Incision,” was captured in the studio both sonically and visually, and now you can see the video of the band laying down their vicious parts.  Check out the video below, and make sure to score a copy of the whole EP for superior bangability.

For more Nader Sadek info, check out the official site here.