db Exclusive: The National Anthem Courtesy of Exmortus

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

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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

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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

STREAMING: Blackwolfgoat’s “Drone Maintenance”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

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“Black,” “wolf”, and “goat” are all words frequently found in the pages of our magazine, so any band with all three words in its name has to be good, right? Absolutely! Only probably not for the reason that you think. Blackwolfgoat is the solo project of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Hackman, Milligram, Roadsaw), and it ain’t black metal. A mesmerizing mix of psychedelia, drone, and general experimentalism, Drone Maintenance takes the listener on a journey, its deliberate repetition bringing about an almost hypnotic state similar to Six Organs of Admittance or Ash Ra Tempel. Unlike most drone, things actually happen in these songs! Check out our exclusive premiere of the full album for yourself below.

***Drone Maintenance is out now via Small Stone. You can buy the CD or digital download here. Grab his last album here.

Rise to Snarl Again: English Dogs Q&A

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews On: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

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When the classic line-up of UK crossover heroes English Dogs reconvened for a raucous U.S. tour a few years back enthusiasm went straight through the squat roof.

And yet a rumored new album, even the band’s most ardent fans would likely admit, seemed a much dicier prospect.

After all, the 2011 jaunt focused on To the Ends of the Earth and Forward Into Battle — releases that dropped in ’84 and ’85, respectively. Capturing lightning in a bottle is one thing, but looking for a charged remnant of the bolt two or three decades later? That’s just crazy, right?

Wrong.

The Thing With Two Heads is a blistering triumph of a comeback record featuring vital and adventurous songs informed by the celebrated English Dogs sound of yore rather than imprisoned to it. (The record is available today on CD, LP, and via Bandcamp.)

Decibel recently caught up with drummer Andrew “Pinch” Pinching and lead guitarist Graham “Gizz” Butt to chat about punks, monsters, and the different ways the flame still burns thirty-plus years on.

So…how’s it feel to have a new English Dogs record coming out in 2014?

GIZZ: [Laughs] We’ve done it at last and who would have believed it? It’s a bloody miracle I tell you! There’s a colossal sense of pride that I feel between us all. We’ve managed something which is absolutely worthy of attention when only a few years ago we couldn’t imagine us ever even sitting around the same table.

PINCH: Bit of a surprise, really. We were only ever dipping our toes back in the water to see if anybody gave a shit any more and were pleasantly surprised to find out that not only the old heads remembered, but the kids had done their homework and were pretty excited to see us as well…It’s a tough place we put ourselves in — allegedly being too metal for punks but not metal enough for metal heads. Thankfully, we were never afraid to just release what we believed in. This record sounds like ’84-’85 era English Dogs. And for that, I am relieved and proud.

Before we get back to the future, I wanted to delve a bit into the past: English Dogs originally slayed right smack dab in the middle of one of most seminal moments in punk rock. You were label mates with GBH and Discharge. I’m curious, what do you think the biggest misconception is about that time? And how do you think those days compare with the scene you’re storming back into now?

GIZZ: I toured with and hero-worshipped GBH and we hung out together and had a lot of fun. But the early ’80′s weren’t always like that. What happened back then was partly a product of pain and misfortune. They were violent times — I remember once in 1980 being beaten right outside my front door by three guys. I was a thirteen year-old punk. These were two skins and one punk.Thatcher and Reagan evoked a fear of nuclear threat and this was 1984. We had all read George Orwell. It was heavy going and not long out of the 70′s when it was normal for fully grown men to beat the hell out of teenagers, maybe something they had picked up from the ways of the SS or the NF! Our parents did what they could but our gear was substandard and we couldn’t afford music lessons. We tried to imitate our heros by using our ears and our memory. Our songs were a reflection of our times. Our pain. Now it is a similar story. War everywhere, and who to believe? The muggings have started again and the safety we felt for a while has gone…because there is so much hate out there. Not long ago I was attacked, head-butted by a random guy for no reason, without warning. No one helped me. Once I’d cleared the blood from my face and went to look for him he had gone and nobody would tell me who he was. So once again we are able to write great songs, maybe because once again we are going through the pain. 1984. 2014. A thirty year cycle — same fears and life is still cheap.

PINCH: I’m not sure there were any misconceptions about the ’80 to ’84 hardcore punk scene in the UK. It did what it said on the label! The biggest tragedy to me was the fragmentation of an already small scene. Bands were suddenly split into categories — hardcore, crusty, anarcho, etcetera. It was stupid, really, as there were great bands in every scene and we were being fed bullshit that none of these scenes could mix. I was a huge Rudimentary Peni fan, but never saw them. I loved their music and their message was powerful, but did I live my life by their writings? Fuck no! Did it make them less attractive because they were a Crass band? No, but would they ever consider playing with a band like us? Unfortunately not. There was definitely an air of snobbery around some bands back then, which was hard to come to terms with, as we were all on the streets fighting the same fight about working and living conditions and dealing with the same dickheads who wanted to fight with you everywhere you went. Fortunately, it seems like most of the violence has gone from shows and there is a real spirit of camaraderie, where it is ok to like multiple forms of music and just be who you are. The world seems like a very different place to the 80s now, but really, is it?

How’d the 2012 reunion for the classic line-up’s first North American tour since 1985 come about?

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Pardon, Please: The Deciblog Interview With Lord Worm

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, The Decibel Study Hall of Fame On: Monday, August 25th, 2014

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Dan Greening — alias Lord Worm — is one of the few true mavericks in death metal. Worm is best known for his work with Cryptopsy; Decibel Hall Of Fame inductee None So Vile and potential inductee Blasphemy Made Flesh are genre classics. Worm’s work with Cryptopsy is inimitable; his lyrics are crazed poetry as notable for their humor, wordplay and puns as for their over-the-top violence. Consider the opening line to the classic “Defenestration”: Oh what a gal!/She seems such a perfect victim/This I can tell, for if beauty by guilt/she’s guilty. And while some consider Worm’s voice an acquired taste the only real competition for extreme metal screams in the past two decades is Dave Hunt of Anaal Nathrakh.

Worm rejoined Cryptopsy earlier in the new millennium and appeared on the underrated Once Was Not. Since leaving the band he has worked with Rage Nucléaire, a Canadian industrial death metal hybrid. Rage recently released their second album Black Storm Of Violence via Season Of Mist. Worm talked to us about the new album, teaching English and why songs about serial killers have gone stale.

You recently participated in an academic conference in Canada on extreme metal (Grimposium). What was that experience like? Could you ever have imagined something like this when you started playing metal?

I never would have imagined anything like it. Here you have all these people with doctorates and masters. You know the sitcom Big Bang Theory? I was Howard. I was the guy at the symposium without a doctorate. So it felt weird. They got a hold of me from Jason (Netherton) of Misery Index — he suggested me.

How did the whole weekend roll out?

It was supposed to be a Friday and Saturday and kind of grew from Wednesday to Sunday. There was a bunch of shows: Carcass, Gorguts and Voivod. They got a bunch of tickets for people who wanted to go.

Well, you’ve made your living as a teacher, right? So it probably didn’t feel alien.

The situation wasn’t alien but – how can I put this — I work with a language center. I get contracts and I go to these student’s workplaces by schedule as opposed to a classroom. Someone from the language center in Quebec gives me a call and says: “we have a bank president that’s only at a certain level of expertise with English and needs more for whatever reason.” It might be a 30 or 60-day contract for twice a week. It’s government people, company people, CEOs, even secretaries. But it is rewarding when they get that little light in their eyes.

Has anyone ever been a death metal fan and noticed you?

A couple times and one really threw me. It was a middle-aged lady who decided to Google her teacher. She came to me about halfway through the year and said: “I hear you have a pseudonym.” And I’m thinking: “uh, oh.” I told her to just ignore it and get back to class.

When you aren’t making music and teaching what are you doing?

Drinking, of course, is a huge part of my life. I live for my liver. I’m the quintessential half drunk English teacher. The best way to teach is halfway sober. And I’m a cinephile and I collect movies.

Don’t you worry that any stuff you buy will get replaced with a new format?

I should start saving for whatever copy is next because I can’t be without my movies. There’s one I watch about every six weeks: Spinal Tap. Cryptopsy was kind of like Spinal Tap; we really are that stupid.

There’s a fine line between clever and stupid.

We straddle that line and it hurts our ball sacks.

Had you always imagined doing something like Rage Nucléaire ?

I was approached by the guys in the band to do a four-song demo but I still wasn’t done with Cryptopsy. It ended up being about three or four years before we could get anything done. By then it grew to a full-length album. I really liked what I heard; they gave me the album (Unrelenting Fucking Hatred) complete but instrumental. I just had to add my bits. This new record wasn’t the case. I got to sit down with the guys and compose.

Did that make you feel more a part of the whole process?

Well, the first Rage Nucléaire album actually felt a lot like the last Cryptopsy album Once Was Not. In both cases I was handed a instrumental full-length album and asked to put my stuff on top of it. So I much prefer the second Rage album.

When you have to work like you did for the first record how do you put your thoughts together?

I’ve done for years and this goes back to the late 80s before Cryptopsy. I’m always in the process of writing lyrics. My journal is an old green thing with a bunch of lined paper. I don’t do anything on a word processor; I’m old school. There are cocktail napkins, matchbooks, and bits of paper. I’ll write a bunch and some words will come and I need to jot them down immediately.

Do any of your songs come fully formed or do you usually work with pieces?

The best songs — if they don’t come all at once — it’s nearly all at once. “Goddess Of Filth” on the new album came while we were in a basement, literally under the stairs. There’s just room for two chairs and computer. We were trying riffs and drum programming. We put “A Sino-American Chainsaw War” aside because “Goddess of Filth” was so good we had to stop what we were doing.

How has your lyric writing changed since Cryptopsy?

It’s a bit different. In earlier Cryptopsy – the first two albums – I hadn’t done much before. We’d jam once a week on Friday and get a bunch of beer. (For example) one day the band came with something totally inspired. We listened to it and I flipped through my lyrics and we turned it into a song you might know called “Abigor.” (laughs). The process took about twenty minutes. Sometimes things click together and it works and other times it’s extremely painful; when we were doing “Orgiastic Disembowelment” it was painful and it took me like four months to complete.

So on this record was it more things coming together or pain?

There’s no pain with Rage. We also gather on Fridays. We never use the word “no.” Everything is worth trying. There’s no “that sucks” – there is mutual respect. We try everything and when something fits we know it. When it works like it did with the song “Black Storm Of Violence,” which took a few weeks, it works out well.

You have to explain the song the “A Sino-American Chainsaw War” (which premiered earlier this year on the Deciblog).

It’s a title that came to me one day. Back in 2006 we were in Europe touring with Grave and Aborted. We were in Belgium and Sven (de Caluwé) from Aborted had all of these song titles — songs he hadn’t finished. He always writes the title then the lyrics. I thought that was interesting challenge. For this album the challenge was “A Sino-American Chainsaw War.” It’s a “what if?” scenario. What if there were no explosives and war had to be fought with bladed instruments, but they could be gas powered? (laughs). It’s basically medieval warfare with gas!

One thing I’ve noticed that’s different between Cryptopy and Rage is that with Cryptopsy you wrote about individual moments of horror and terror – like getting thrown out of a window. Now the focus is terror on a global scale. What changed?

So, the switch from personal to global terror? It was the logical choice. When I was writing for Cryptopsy in the early days like one or two bands were doing the whole serial killer motif: Cannibal Corpse and maybe two others. I was one of the few and the proud. Then, everyone started doing it, even grindcore and black metal bands. Everyone was doing the serial killer thing. I needed a new shtick.

Have you heard a good new serial killer song in recent years or has that been spent?

The music might be interesting now. Lyrically, though, no. I haven’t read any interesting serial killer lyrics. They are torture porn, aren’t they? We get that already in cinema.

I think you presented it with a certain artistry and verbal flair and now it’s like an audio version of the movie Hostel.

Fair enough. I try to keep that flair going. Even when I use second person singular I try to make it something anyone could potential feel.

I can’t think of anyone else in metal who started a song “pardon, please”…

Ah, the old “Slit Your Guts” thing. Oddly enough, on one of their tours during my first Cryptopsy hiatus early in the millennium they found themselves on tour with Cradle of Filth and Flo (Mounier, Cryptopsy drummer) was hanging out with Dani Filth. Mr. Filth confided that he actually managed to rip off “Slit Your Guts” in one of his songs. I saw it in a lyric book and, yeah, he borrowed. It’s a compliment. Dani Filth borrowed from me – what are you going to do?

What song is it?

I don’t remember. I only have their first album. They got too vampiric for me. Vampires are too sexy and I’m asexual. Give me zombies every time.

What do you like to hear in death metal lyrics?

There has to be a back end of black, black humor. It needs to be the same type of humor Clive Barker is guilty of, or the band Nuclear Death. They are the metal Clive Barker. The black humor turns me on every time.

Cryptopsy at the end was taking a toll on your health and our voice. Considering that are you done with that sort of lifestyle?

I won’t state categorically that it’s over but Rage just can’t tour. Fred (Widigs, drummer) plays with Marduk so we don’t have a drummer. Flo actually agreed to play but Alvater and Dark Rage can’t tour for different reasons so that would leave it as a one man band with a drummer and I’m not going to do that. I’m not so addicted to this that I’m just going to do it for the sake of doing it. Any live tours would have to be with a live band.

It’s sort of nice to even be able to choose between Fred and Flo Mounier.

It’s an honor. We’re very pleased to work with Fred. Even though we’ve never met the man he seems like the kind of guy we could hang out with.

Did touring make you not like music for a while?

No. I don’t like touring but for different reasons. As for music, any time you become creative it sticks with you forever. I can’t not make music or not write. It becomes like a zit that turns into a boil when you don’t scratch it. So, I have to create. That will never stop.

Do you ever think of your place in the death metal genre?

I’m too busy creating to worry about it. People can go online and argue about it, but I need to work.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Killer Be Killed’s “Snakes of Jehovah”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, videos On: Monday, August 25th, 2014

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It’s Monday morning. Mondays suck. It doesn’t take a cartoon cat to know that. But lo and behold, we have something to brighten your week: a video featuring Troy Sanders, Greg Puciato, Max Cavalera, Dave Elitch, and a naked chick with a snake. Who says we aren’t good to you? Here’s the latest video from supergroup Killer Be Killed, straight to your face.

***Killer Be Killed is out now on Nuclear Blast. You can order it here. Follow them on Facebook here.

STREAMING: Rigor Mortis “Poltergeist”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, August 25th, 2014

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After the untimely passing of Rigor Mortis guitarist (Mike Scaccia; also of Ministry) in December 2012, the remaining members decided it was Scaccia who would’ve wanted to see new album, Slaves to the Grave, released to the wide world of longhairs, headbangers, and rebel angels. The group has already premiered ripping new track, “Flesh for Flies”, at Metalsucks (HERE), but one track is never enough. Thankfully, Rigor Mortis selected another publication (uh, Decibel) to throw out track number two: lead-off killer “Poltergeist”!

As for if it’ll sound like classic Rigor Mortis (self-titled in the Hall of Fame, natch), here’s Bruce Corbitt talking to the Dallas Daily Observer: “It will definitely sound like Rigor Mortis, but it will be more mature. I don’t mean that to scare anyone. I just mean that we have all gotten so much better than we were when we did our first album. We have the experience to make a better album. We always had some melodic parts to our music that some people haven’t noticed. We wanted it to flow nicely. It can go a million miles an hour and then it can get into a melodic, evil-sounding part. I would say it sounds different, but it undeniably sounds like Rigor Mortis.”

So, there you have it. The final Rigor Mortis album, in honor of Scaccia. Let’s break some fine china to Scaccia with “Poltergeist”!

** Rigor Mortis’ new album, Slaves to the Grave, is out soon, self-released through pledges on Indiegogo. You can pledge HERE and have your name written on the inside of every CD. There’s plans for a blood-splattered vinyl, too! There’s 2 weeks left, get your shovel now and help Rigor Mortis exhume to consume!

Simon Wizén (Valkyrja) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured On: Friday, August 22nd, 2014

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** Valkyrja has largely existed in a vacuum of uncool. The Swedes’ brand of fiery black is likened to Watain fucking around with early period Enslaved, but that’s the extent of Valkyrja’s Satan-powered volcano. Throughout the group’s three-album discography they tap an unknown darkness. They make you feel as if you’ve stuck your head and heart into the abyss. Valkyrja’s latest album, The Antagonist’s Fire, is a genuine and personal journey into inner recesses of evil, where existentialism and nihilism meet in a grimy, blood-and-dreams soaked pit. Black metal reigns supreme with Valkyra!

What’s been happening over the last three years in Valkyrja?
Simon Wizén: After the release of Contamination we focused on increasing the—at the time—quite scarce amount of live performances made. Two tours and several of other performances followed in ’10 and ’11. During the summer of [last] year we record the third album, namely The Antagonist’s Fire, a work that has been growing on us since the birth of Contamination

These two phrases “As always – determined to reach further, ascending higher and descending even deeper. As always – prepared to announce the discontinuation of Valkyrja if all past deeds could not be exceeded.” were on your Facebook. What do they mean?
Simon Wizén: Lay to waste every restriction. If you stick to the same formulae again and again, what do you possibly have to channel? If your only goal is to create a catchy melody for others to cherish, demonstrate your technical ability, or in any other way use the audio tool for a shallow reason without content, what is the actual point of investing time? Evolve or be gone, have something to display through this medium or stop interrupting. Look at your festival poster of choice, I bet you can easily spot ten bands that have lost their spark and simply run on routine, past success and the fame of the now-gone glory days. If you have nothing to say, close your mouth. How simple it might sound, I can’t underline this enough.

Do you think you’ve come out of silence/hardship a stronger unit?
Simon Wizén: Every experience, good or bad, strengthens us as a unit. Difficulties require a solution, which in the end comes out as a valuable experience. Without hardship, what could you possibly learn about yourself? The struggle sharpens the blades.

Did you approach The Antagonist’s Fire differently from Contamination?
Simon Wizén: For the Contamination recording, we had a longer studio session to rely on. This time we had to cut it down, which forced us for greater preparations. We did a full preproduction, which allowed us to get a better grip of what we the overall picture and what details to focus on. I’m equally satisfied with both albums since we pushed them to the limits-at-the-time, and with that in mind I’m secure they will stand the test of time. If they will to others, I can’t say, but if one can’t recognize the great labor put into the own effort, they don’t deserve to be recognized.

I feel The Antagonist’s Fire is more direct than Contamination. Any truth to that statement?
Simon Wizén: We never wanted to do a pure ‘follow up’. We wanted to evolve and use new tools and elements. Sticking to a secure blueprint was never an option. The core is quite similar, as the fruit of all our work are plucked from the same tree, but I see different strengths and approaches in these two albums. If the last one is more ‘direct’ I really can’t answer. It’s a matter of opinion. I don’t share it myself, but that doesn’t make you incorrect. If you ask me, I find the material more raw and furious, more straight-forward and stripped down, but at times channeled through more melodic and/or melancholic parts, which I guess enhance and lift the atmosphere.

The singles we released on Decibel’s blog were received very well. What did you make of peoples’ first-time impressions of your music?
Simon Wizén: Before the album was announced, we had the final result recorded and completed, thus we already knew what to make of it. From what little I know regarding the previews, they received mainly positive critique. On the other hand, these two are only two voices of the overall picture and I guess they will make even more sense when heard in the full context.

Lyrically, what’s happening on The Antagonist’s Fire? Who is the Antagonist? Me, you, Satan?
Simon Wizén: The Antagonist in this case is the opposer of all that defines man, the world, life, laws and every restriction that comes with these shackles. The manifested force of perdition and undisturbed silence.

What do you make of the evils of the world at the moment? Lots of unrest, violence, and tribe-like behavior. Maybe death and destruction will always be part of the human condition.
Simon Wizén: I suppose most of the conflicts are collisions in the political and cultural fields. I don’t care about their wars, actions or rat race to reach the top of the pyramid. Their struggle for leadership is effortless anyhow, as sheep aren’t meant to lead. The wheels of claiming the position as the leader will most likely keep turning until the end of days, it’s in the human nature to conquer. One must understand – mankind has the amazing ability to overrate what we truly are. We are but animals who claimed our own superiority by reducing all other species in our surrounding, hence placing ourselves as the elite. When this meaningless globe is burnt to powder, so is man and all our past ‘achievements’. There is only one solution to our problems, and that is extinction, as we are the problem in the very core. Cattle are meant to slaughtered, keep that in mind.

What’s happening on the cover?
Simon Wizén: The message of the front is pretty clear if you look at the album title and the content of the lyrics. Displayed here is the manifestation of Death, the state of complete nothing. His fires symbolize the many ways through which he works, without limitations and barriers of the worldly. This is a red line, spanning through everything we’ve done, released and channeled since our formation, but in a more ‘obvious’ illustration. It’s actually quite representative for Valkyrja as a unit, in summary. The smoke takes forms as serpents, which should speak even clearer to the observant. A suggestion is to approach everything at the same time, not dissection the audio, lyrics and illustrations alone. They complement and enhance each other for the good of the greater picture.

You moved from Metal Blade to W.T.C. Why the change?
Simon Wizén: We had already been collaborating with W.T.C as they released the vinyl edition of Contamination in ‘12. After all, it was a more suitable label for us, mainly for their understanding of our kind of audio and their interest in our work. I’m satisfied to say we are not stuck in the regular label/band-relationship, but more of a unity in which we aim to reach the same result.

How do you think the way bands operate has changed in the last 10 years? More DIY these days, for sure.
Simon Wizén: We haven’t been around long enough to notice a bigger change. I have the feeling the standard was higher, taken from the thin air though, as anyone nowadays can buy cheap studio equipment, record another Transilvanian Hunger clone, get a friend to release their stuff and call themselves signed. Take a look at the majority of distribution sites, the amount of effortless nonsense filling their space is vast, which makes the whole industry quite fuzzy. Sadly, too few have reached the conclusion that there is no need for additional clones of Darkthrone, Blasphemy, Beherit or their likes. The originals will always outdo their followers anyhow. It’s a simple fact. We never surrendered to the easy way out, nor allowed something to be done for the sake alone. If more time and effort was needed to fully complete a work, nothing was allowed to interfere with the process and rush the result.

What do you make of the current state of black metal? Where does Valkyrja sit in that?
Simon Wizén: The world of black metal is quite dormant right now. There’s always another trend in bloom among us, like the seemingly never-to-end retro garbage, to keep the lowlifes busy. On the other hand, these weak-minded cunts will always seek the next shallow thrill, so let’s find joy in the fact that they pollute something I’m not involved in. As a result, it seems like the genre is taken more serious, compared to some years ago when everyone had an active ‘black metal’ band— whether you were serious with your work or had this project alongside your power- pagan-viking-or similar worthless-metal band. The criterions were face paint and a heavily limited rehearsal tape. I don’t really follow the genre when it comes to new acts, thus I could be wrong, but having idiots of Stockholm around, the judgment might get clouded. Of course I’m speaking generally; there have been some acts that caught my attention for more than one reason—Fides Inversa and Ascension, for example. There are some more great ones out there, but that’s enough namedropping. Great artists don’t need this kind of promotion as their work will surely speak for itself, for those who take the time of discovering it—yet it couldn’t hurt mentioning the superior work made by these two classics-to-come. Support unto those who surely deserve it.

** Valkyrja’s The Antagonist’s Fire is out now through W.T.C. Productions. It’s available HERE for the firebrands, the darkness appreciators, and the sanguine among us.

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: France’s Father Merrin

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, August 22nd, 2014

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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.

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Like most people, when I think of France, I think of burly, hairy doom metal.  If you are not like most people, however, you may be surprised by the rumbly midpaced thunder offered by Father Merrin’s debut EP, All Is Well That Ends In Hell.  You might ask, what good can come of a band blending its love of classic horror film with meaty riff platters and serving it all at a steady gallop?  Lots of good, we reply.  At four songs and about 25 minutes, All Is Well is a supremely enjoyable argument in favor of everything this band stands for.  Once you hit play on the stream below, we don’t think you’ll want to make it stop.  While you get addicted, read our interview with the band’s vocalist – known only as A – and sink further into their clutches.  This is your doom.

Who are the musicians/personalities that make up Father Merrin?  When did you start playing music, and how did Father Merrin come together?

A (vocals): FATHER MERRIN was born in 2009, three of us were in a group of Doom / Death Metal called CIRCLE OF HATE that had split a few months earlier. We started writing new stuff without imposing style and the song “Hellride” was born. Then, to play on stage, J joined us on bass. We have continued to refine our style and music to record four of our best titles that make up the EP All Is Well That Ends In Hell released last May. Earlier this year, we welcomed a new guitarist so I can focus on singing. The Brotherhood is in working order now and everything is going well. On the EP we were 4 (S – Battery / J – bass / D – guitar / A – guitar and vocals), now we are 5 with the arrival of another guitarist.

What were your interests that led you to Father Merrin’s style of heavy music?

A (vocals): We had just as a guideline to propose a dark and powerful music, which can be done in several styles of metal but in the way we write and sound, we have this Doom Metal gene that [comes through] quite clearly. We all listen to different styles but Doom Metal brings us together. [Critics’] first reviews talk about influences from BLACK SABBATH, ELECTRIC WIZARD, CELTIC FROST, TRIPTYKON, CATHEDRAL, CANDLEMASS or MOSS and I quite agree with that, we can be seen as an assembly of all.

Father Merrin has existed for several years, though this EP is your first non-demo release.  How much of that time was Father Merrin writing songs and playing live?

A (vocals): We take our time to compose. We propose an accomplished music which requires experiments on arrangements, structures, and vocal lines because [though] we do not want to lose certain spontaneity, we want to have some perspective on our music. This is also why we recorded “Hellride” in a demo version; it allowed us to [become] known to the concert organizers and the metal scene but also to prepare the recording of EP, fix some little things. However, before the first EP we wrote more songs than what appears on the record. We wanted to offer something homogeneous, [so] some tracks are definitely left out, other ideas were still not mature enough to exploit. Furthermore, we welcomed two new members, find concert dates for honing our music, keep repeating our set to be ready for the stage and the time passes very quickly because it’s been almost a year since we recorded this EP now. As we take care of all aspects that revolve around the band, it takes a lot of time and energy but you will not have to wait 4 more years to have some of our news.

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What has your stage experience been like?  How widely (geographically) and you played, and who have you shared the stage with?

A (vocals): We gave around fifteen concerts in 3 years, which may seem low but in our style and our country it is a great achievement. Finding people who [enjoy] Doom Metal is not common in France, but we do not despair, we work very hard to play live soon (if an organizer reads these lines, he should not hesitate to contact us!). We’ve played with CALDERA, CHILDREN OF DOOM, SPIRIT, SURTR or LYING FIGURES as well as the LEZARD’OS METAL FEST which were scheduled on the same day LOUDBLAST or NIGHTMARE for example. We have played in France in Metz, Nancy, Clermont Ferrand or Chalons En Champagne but if an opportunity comes to play abroad, our bags are packed! Our concerts are dynamic and powerful, and in general, the organizers expect something rather soporific with Doom, wrongly.

What was Circle of Hate (your pre-FM band) like?  How was the dynamic in that band similar or different?  Did you significantly adjust your musical style or goals?

A (vocals): CIRCLE OF HATE was another dynamic, another universe. We were the Doom / Death Metal very basic and it matched what we wanted at the time. The starting point of this band was the ASPHYX or SOULBURN albums still part of our musical background. However, we are not able to go further than the demo; we had other desires and have finally split. But with S (drums) and D (guitars), we knew for years and we wanted to make music together very quickly. Both bands are really totally different in their dynamics and approach to music; I think that CIRCLE OF HATE could never do what we do with FATHER MERRIN.

What will Father Merrin be doing over the next few months?

A (vocals): Continue the promotion of All Is Well That Ends In Hell because we are proud about these 4 tracks and the first feedbacks give us reason; then to find a maximum date to play as it is on stage that FATHER MERRIN takes its full extent and write again and again for a first full-length or other format according to our desires and what is being proposed. We do not have a career plan, but that’s how we see the coming months.

When There’s No More Beer in Hell: Cross Examination Returns with Dawn of the Dude

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, liver failure On: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

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This almost didn’t happen. By ‘this,’ we mean the interview portion of our announcing the return-of-sorts of St. Louis’ Cross Examination to the world of playing crossover thrash while balancing tens of beers on their livers. The quintet, after about six years of silence, has a new 7″ out and available as of last month and recently just completed a run out west. You can stream Dawn of the Dude‘s raging, snot-nosed, party thrash below. Enjoy, because you know they did and they’d probably feel pretty bummed if you didn’t crack open a good time at their behest.
The reason this came down to the wire was because vocalist/interviewee, Cross Exam Dan [a.k.a. Devil Dan] works at a major newspaper called the Riverfront Times in the Ferguson, MO area and considering what’s going on in town (nightly protests/riots, curfews, military presence, etc.) and that everyone else everywhere else is talking about it, you can imagine that working at a ground zero news source in a city previously best-known for being the childhood home of the Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald is keeping employees just a little busy. We didn’t find out about the local newspaper-Cross Examination connection until after we emailed these questions to the band, so sorry we didn’t get a chance to ask more socially relevant questions, if that indeed is what you came to the Deciblog looking for. Then again, we’re sure these guys, more than ever, welcome the opportunity to ramble on about metal and beer.

Where the hell have you guys been and what have you been up to since Menace II Sobriety?
We have actually still been getting together every week for practice all throughout our radio silence, though that has many times just involved drinking a lot of beer and not remembering to touch our instruments. We’re life-long friends and Friday or Saturday night has been when we get together and kick it for over a decade now.

Was there a particular spark to the return of the band?
Well, we never really left; we just worked very, very slowly. On top of being lazy fuck-ups, we also believe in a slow-simmer approach to song writing in order to achieve maximum flavor. Don’t call it a comeback; we’ve been here for years.

Having been on the sidelines for a few years, what have been the most noticeable changes in the metal/thrash scene that you’ve paid exterior witness to?
Seems like “party thrash” as a whole has died down, no longer an overarching trend. Which is neat because that means we can crawl out of our hole again with a bunch of songs about stupid funny shit without it being, like, a “thing.”

When did you start working on Dawn of the Dude and how long did it take to write and record?
We started working on it a few months after Menace II Sobriety came out, so it took six years of relaxed, no-pressure writing. Then, we recorded the music in three days and then, a year later after I finally finished the lyrics, I recorded the vocals in two. We actually recorded an entire other EP’s worth of material in these same sessions that will see the light of day within a year, entitled Shred the Living.

How would you say Cross Examination is different today from Cross Examination of yesterday?
Ray, bassist extraordinaire and primary taskmaster in times of over-arching lethargy, had himself a couple of babies, got married and got a job, so now we have Jimmy playing bass and trying to get us to do stuff. But Ray was better at the latter part. He would call us assholes and tell us about how he was going to fuck our moms whenever we were slow to get to work. Ray stepping back is probably the biggest reason it took us so long to get this out there. Still hang out with him all the time; much love.

Do you still have the van with the drink cooler built into the floor? Are you planning on using it extensively once the EP is out and makes the rounds?
No, we had to smash that van to pieces on the side of the highway after it broke down on the way to Chicago.

Couldn’t be avoided. Then we got a different van, dubbed it the Jambulance, and have since allowed it to fall into disrepair.

The last time I started it the alternator caught fire, and the squirrels that I am pretty sure live inside it now are steadfast in not relinquishing control. We had a buddy drive us in his van on our west coast tour earlier this year, but that one was towed across the finish line after the transmission gave out an hour and a half from home. We are bad at vans.

Is there going to be a new full-length coming in the near future?

We like EPs. They take less time and we all have ADD. Shred the Living coming soon; the world is our oyster after that. Who knows?

Buy Dawn of the Dude and Cross Examination merch here.

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