Sucker For Punishment: Buying Time is Here

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

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When it came to new metal music in the first half of 2014, personally I feel it was mediocre at best, with only one album, Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata, deserving of the adjective “exemplary” a rung or two higher than a small handful of releases that qualify as being “very good”. However, this year’s release schedule is so heavily weighted towards the latter half of the year, that any publication’s “best of the year so far” lists seem pointless. Looking at only the next three months, I counted around 20 new albums, nearly all of which I have heard, that are worthy of consideration for my own ballot for Decibel’s year-end writer’s poll. Considering the fact that less than ten percent of the more than 300 albums I listened to and wrote about from January to July were worthy of singling out, that number is staggering. I said a while back that 2014 would get a lot better, really fast, and here in this second week of July it’s gotten truly nuts. The summer release schedule is officially off to a rampaging start this week, with no fewer than seven, maybe eight new albums you must hear. So while the music is often on the doomy and gloomy side, the forecast for the next few months is anything but. Get ready for some fantastic new tunes.

Bongripper, Miserable (self-released): By now you should know exactly what to expect from the Chicago foursome, nothing but slow, deliberate, mind-bogglingly heavy instrumental doom. Contrary to Earthless’s explorations of the more textured side of the sound, and Shooting Guns’ smart blend of krautrock and psychedelia, Bongripper is all about sheer metallic force. If you’ve ever seen them live, you know what I’m talking about. What this seventh album also proves, though, that for all the Conan-levels of knuckle-dragging doom, the band is also capable of strong dynamics, only with the speed, or lack thereof, with which they work, it requires a little patience. Let these three compositions flow, though, and you’ll find just how well everything shifts gears subtly, naturally, and enthrallingly. The album is currently available as a name-your-price download via Bandcamp, and if you like the doom, this is a total no-brainer.

Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket, In A Dutch Haze (Outer Battery/Roadburn): At a festival like Roadburn it’s impossible to see everything, but one omission from my 2012 experience that I always regretted was the collaboration between J. Mascis, his Heavy Blanket bandmate Graham Clise, and the rhythm section from San Diego psychedelic rock institution Earthless. That performance generated a fair amount of buzz afterward, and now that it’s been released as a special live album you can understand why. A sprawling, hour-long jam it ebbs and flows from mellow passages to pure rampaging hard rock, Mascis and Clise shredding all the while. Some have pointed out that the presence of Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell is missed, and that’s understandable given his talent and the chemistry Earthless is renowned for, but this jam works well in its own ragged, immaculately stoned way.

Exordium Mors, The Apotheosis of Death (Iron Blood & Death): Considering the past work of bands like Ulcerate and Beastwars, and two absolute stunners in 2014 courtesy Diocletian and now Exordium Mors, something is happening way over on the other side of the world in New Zealand. It’d be easy to call this kiwi obscurity “blackened thrash”, but there’s a whole hell of a lot more going on under the surface. The Absu influence looms large, but most importantly, so does the specter of Mercyfrl Fate, as the guitar work shows flashes of flamboyance that you just don’t hear in American metal. There’s no shame in showing a little instrumental flash amidst such otherwise primitive sounds, and to hear that kind of bombast juxtaposed with such brutal black/death music is a welcome thing to these ears (and wait, was that some Messiah Marcolin-style singing on one track?). Highlighted by a sprawling, 30-minute suite and continuing into three more concise tracks, this is a great example of how it’s often best to be far removed from any particular metal “scene”. With no hive mind to follow, left to think for oneself, this band has put a very unique spin on extreme metal, one that’s plenty towering and formidable, but most importantly, stands out because of its unwillingness to be categorized. This is a splendid debut full-length. Preview and purchase via Bandcamp.

Goatwhore, Constricting Rage Of The Merciless (Metal Blade): It’s not that Goatwhore made a bad album – for these guys that’s just impossible – but I just wasn’t as absorbed by 2012’s Blood For the Master as I was by 2009’s stupendous Carving Out the Eyes of God. It didn’t grab me enough; after all, you can imitate Celtic Frost all you want, but even Celtic Frost had hooks. This new sixth album, however, is a big, big return to the form of five years ago, thanks to a bevy of tracks that waste no time getting in your head. “Reanimated Sacrifice” is more of that Warrior worship, “Schadenfreude” sneaks in some very strong melodies, “Fucked By Satan” and “Externalize This Hidden Savagery” are a pair of delirious ragers, and best of all, “Baring Teeth For Revolt” is the best Goatwhore song since “Apocalyptic Havoc”. As per usual, the New Orleans band will be touring like mad, and it’s good to know they have a tremendous album to promote. Buy this one.

Gotthard, Bang! (The End): I always found the Swiss band’s popularity in Europe inexplicable, and then I saw them perform a couple shows a year and a half ago. It’s shameless ‘80s pop metal, but much to my surprise it was performed with great energy and charisma, and listening to their 11th album that pleasant feeling is palpable. Never mind how often the band rips off Sykes-era Whitesnake and all the clichés that entails, “Jump the Gun”, “Feel What I Feel”, and the title track are great tunes that dad rock (or in my case, uncle rock) fans would thoroughly enjoy.

Judas Priest, Redeemer of Souls (Epic): Having already written several pieces about the new Judas Priest album, including a review in the next issue of Decibel, I’m reluctant to go into great detail again for fear of self-plagiarizing. However, I will say Redeemer of Souls is a joy, from start to finish. Richie Faulkner has proven to be a terrific replacement for the retired K.K. Downing, and you can tell he’s brought new life to the band’s new songs. All 13 tracks – and the five bonus tracks on the deluxe edition too – burst with life, channeling the better moments from Painkiller as well as the more melodic moments from Screaming For Vengeance. It’s a huge step up from the wildly uneven Nostradamus, simply Judas Priest being Judas Priest, and by keeping things simple the band has reasserted why Priest remains the truest living embodiment of heavy metal. It’s important for a genre’s masters to make vital music, and it’s a pleasure to see this band back in peak form.

Mortals, Cursed To See the Future (Relapse): I stumbled across Brooklyn trio Mortals a couple years ago and was thoroughly impressed by the intense combination of black metal, doom, and sludge they created. The more I followed their progress, the more impressed I became with their willingness to let things grow. They were signed to Relapse incredibly quickly, in early 2013, but they smartly kept working on new material and honing their work on the road. By the time I finally saw them perform in person last fall, they’d become something a lot more formidable than I’d heard on record, and the much-anticipated debut album captures that live power extremely well. Guitarist Elizabeth Cline and bassist Lesley Wolf bring feral ferocity to Cursed to See the Future, from the buzzsaw riffs to the snarled lead vocals, while drummer Caryn Havlik punctuates and propels the songs with startling authority. This is a band absolutely brimming with ideas, and at times you feel that some of the songs don’t have to approach the nine-minute mark, but that’s a very minor gripe, as this music roars with a level of intensity I haven’t quite heard lately. It’s a remarkable effort. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Origin, Omnipresent (Nuclear Blast): It’s so interesting how Origin, a band that helped pioneer the full-on, brickwalled assault that is post-2000 technical death metal, has made a significant change in the way the band makes an album. Musician and producer Colin Marston is a sworn enemy of that overly loud production and mastering, and what he’s done with Origin on its sixth album is so simple, yet so overlooked in extreme metal, creating distinct space in the sound. The music is as dense as ever, but it now breathes, and is so much easier to take in. The trio of guitarist Paul Ryan, bassist Mike Flores, and drummer John Longstreth is as great as any death metal band working today, and they flourish on these dozen tracks. More death metal should sound like this.

Sonic Syndicate, Sonic Syndicate (Nuclear Blast): Still carrying on like it’s 2004, still mimicking Killswitch Engage, still showing no musical growth whatsoever, still hilarious.

Steel Prophet, Omniscient (Cruz del Sur): At its most focused, Steel Prophet’s first album in a decade is adequate prog/power metal, galloping along in its Iced Earthy way, rife with robust Nevermore-isms and moments of Symphony X-stasy. But for some insane reason this thing quickly loses itself in 9-11 conspiracy theories, awful psychedelic interludes about taking a meander through oleander, aliens and Richard Nixon, George Orwell, and a truly awful cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I’m all for ridiculousness in metal, but this much ridiculousness? Goodness, no.

Vintersorg, Naturbål (Napalm): The musical partnership of Andreas Hedlund and Mattias Marklund has yielded some very good Viking metal over the years, but the band has been especially strong as of late, with 2011’s album Jordpuls turning out to be one of Vintersorg’s finest moments on record. Naturbål – Swedish for “nature’s bonfire” – continues that positive momentum nicely, the band’s epic yet welcoming music equally bracing and affable. Hedlund is in his usual strong vocal form – it’s always nice to hear Viking metal with actual singing rather than growling – while these compositions skitter gracefully from blastbeats, to palm-muted marches, to more contemplative, melodic fare.

Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestite (Artemisia): The latest album by Olympia, Washington brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver seems like a severe departure, but is it really? Sure, all the guitars and drums have been replaced by vintage synthesizers and a wind ensemble, but essentially this is very much the same kind of music, the same hypnotic chord progressions and melodies as heard on their past work. Only this time, instead of following the lead of Weakling they’re looking to Tangerine Dream for inspiration. With that “Cascadian black metal” gimmick so played out, it’s encouraging to see Wolves in the Throne Room branch out more, but this music follows more than it should lead, often feeling too derivative, not exactly coming through with many assertive ideas. The music just floats along complacently, going nowhere, achieving nothing. If the goal was to strip the band’s music of all metallic trappings to expose the real core underneath, you can’t help but wonder just how hollow and empty this whole thing was from the start.

Wolvhammer, Clawing Into Black Sun (Profound Lore): A little restraint in extreme metal goes a long way. After capturing people’s attention with a pair of outwardly hostile, aggressive albums, the Minnesota-based band takes a much more measured approach on this new record, and the difference is, ironically, colossal. It’s not unlike when Nachtmystium toyed with psychedelic rock on the classic Instinct: Decay, how the music here reins all the aggression in. There’s more control, and consequently more space within to work, and songs like “The Desanctification” and “The Silver Key” benefit immensely, with even a slight gothic influence creeping in, most noticeably on the subdued “A Light That Doesn’t Yield”. That’s not to say the music is any less intense – that couldn’t be farther from the case – but by pulling its punches just a little, Wolvhammer still manages to score a wicked knockout. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy 

FREE DOWNLOAD: Electric Citizen’s “Savage”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, free, listen On: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

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Our own Adrien Begrand has been raving about Electric Citizen for months now (like here, for example), and since he has pretty impeccable taste (for a Canadian), I figured I would check them out – and he was right. The nice thing about this whole occult rock trend is that the bands need to have actual songs in order to stand out. Electric Citizen have those in spades. Their debut, Sateen, hits all the creepy, catchy notes we want from the style while establishing their own distinct, shimmering sound. The album is out now, so you should already have it, but in case you don’t, we are pleased to offer an exclusive download of the song “Savage.” According to singer Laura Dolan, “We call this song our little ripper. It’s about gettin’ angry and fightin.”

And hey, even better – if you want the whole album, head over to Twitter, where we will be giving away vinyl/CD bundles (courtesy of RidingEasy Records) to THREE random winners over the next 24 hours! Hail Sateen.

***Sateen is out now on RidingEasy. Check out the band’s website here. Download the album here. Purchase the wax here.

And STILL “No Salvation”: Exclusive Coliseum Premiere!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

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For its tenth birthday Louisville, Kentucky’s rightly celebrated progressive punkers Coliseum may have re-signed with Deathwish, but it’s the rest of us who are getting the gift: A totes beautiful deluxe reissue of the band’s instant classic self-titled debut rager featuring eight bonus tracks, a full remix by Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind, extensive liner notes, and cover artwork by John Baizley of Baroness.

Below we have the exclusive premiere of a rare early song included on the disc, “No Salvation” — enjoy!

Coliseum is out August 19. Preorder page is here. Tour dates after the jump.

William Bennett (Cut Hands) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

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** The original interview Cut Hands’ William Bennett is featured in our groundbreakingly awesome “noise issue” (HERE). What follows below is the full transcript. If you’re adventurous enough to you’ll succumb to Bennett’s Afro Noise.

What is Afro Noise?
William Bennett: This was the name of the debut Cut Hands record, essentially referring to two fused elements I began experimenting (and not without some initial trepidation!) with around 2003: hand percussion and electronic ‘noise’, initially on the song ‘Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel’.

Where did the name Cut Hands originate?
William Bennett: It was from the song I wrote entitled ‘Cut Hands Has The Solution’, released at that time (on the album Bird Seed, 2003) which mostly deals with eating disorders.

You are still part of Whitehouse. Is Cut Hands a sort of creative release from Whitehouse or are they mutual exclusive creative spheres?
William Bennett: I put a stop to Whitehouse as an ongoing project in 2008, it wasn’t really planned that way but Cut Hands has taken up all my time ever since.

What’s different about electronic music in the 80s when you kicked off Whitehouse and now?
William Bennett: I guess the main thing is that audiences had such little access to information, not to mention electronic musical technology, that there was a dramatically different level of expectation. At shows, for example, there was a real sense of ‘what the fuck is that’, it’d be very difficult to achieve that type of response now.

Polyrhythm is a common attribute across African music. How do polyrhythms play into the music you create for Cut Hands?
William Bennett: With an absence of voice and conventional musical instrumentation, it’s to polymeters and polyrhythns I turn to provide the overwhelming intellectual and physical stimulation I crave. Many of the voodoo polyrhythns are intensely complex and I wouldn’t know how to deconstruct them if I tried, or even wanted to, nor do I have the musical skill or background. Therefore, I merely take inspiration from the feeling and take it from there within my own musical domain of experience, which is complex in its own right.

You’re bridging vévé art with African-informed musical styles. Where’s the connector between Haitian voodoo symbols and Cut Hands’ musical endeavors, which appear to be more African than Caribbean (realizing there’s a cultural and historical connection, obviously)?
William Bennett: Voodoo is a syncretic religion that borrows from a wide range of sources both African and European, in addition to local Caribbean or American. It is also a very open and permissive religion to all kinds of people and sexuality. As with the music I think what’s important is the spirit rather than specific geographic origins of its various facets.

You say you’re “Easily pleased, never satisfied”. What does that mean in relation to Cut Hands?
William Bennett: This is just kind of how I am with life so it applies to making music as much as eating out or watching a movie. Creatively, it can be a curse too, things end up taking much much longer than they need to.

What excites you about making music at this stage?
William Bennett: That rare moment of successful alchemy, when the components produce a magical sound far greater than the sum of their parts. Sometimes you can go many weeks without getting that. I adore playing live, too.

Damballah 58 came out last year. What are you currently working on? And where can people find it?
Volumes 3 and 4 just came out as vinyl LPs, am also working very hard on a brand new studio album.

Is there still art in releasing physical product? The digital age has its pros and cons, naturally.
William Bennett: I think so. There is a palpable kinesthetic pleasure in touching and manipulating that I find deeply attractive. Certain types of music perhaps don’t benefit from that so much. For me, nothing beats physicality.

** Cut Hands’ Damballah 58, Volume 3, and Volume 4 are available now. Check out Bennett’s blog (HERE) for ordering information, what’s he’s listening to, what he’s reading, and more!

Metal Yoga With André Foisy #3

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, videos On: Monday, July 7th, 2014

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André Foisy plays guitar in Locrian and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at Turbodog Yoga in Chicago, IL. You can find his yoga teaching schedule and more information about him on his blog.

A lot of musicians get wrist problems. Playing guitar, bass or pounding on drums places a lot of strain on the wrists. Typing and texting doesn’t help. People do lots of things to numb the pain: painkillers, alcohol, or whatever, but that pain is just your body’s way of saying that you have weak wrists that are misaligned. I see these issues frequently in my students.

Many people get surgery for wrist pains. In most cases, people could prevent having surgery by strengthening and aligning the wrists with the proper poses. Trust me, surgery is great when Carcass sings about it, but it’s something that you want to prevent if possible.

Today, I’ll share a Turbodog yoga pose called Eagle Claw that’s great for strengthening and stretching the wrists.

Here’s a video I made about how to do the pose properly:

Benefits:
-Keeps your paws strong
-Strengthens the muscles in the wrist
-Helps to property align bones in the wrists
-Helps prevent and heal carpal tunnel syndrome

A “Festering” Ear Worm: Exclusive Acrania Premiere!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Monday, July 7th, 2014

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Thanks to Acrania the world shall soon no longer need wonder what it would sound like if George Orwell served as spiritual advisor to a uber-brutal modern death metal band — these London slammers’ kinetic, oppressive, appropriately-titled debut full-length Totalitarian Dystopia will answer that question in fairly definitive fashion at the end of next month.

What? Worried this assessment might be doublespeak? Set your mind at ease with the exclusive premiere of the lyric video for the sick grind-y jam “Festering With Dishonesty” below:

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Totalitarian Dystopia, out August 19, features guest appearances from Tom Barber of Lorna Shore, Mendel of Aborted, and Jamie Hanks of I Declare War. For more information visit on Unique Leader.

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

By: dB_admin Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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Ok, Happy Fourth of July. You know, like, it’s  that day and all.

GOATWHORE release Constricting Rage of the Merciless. Let’s not really discuss the title, as I don’t know what it means. Produced by Erik Rutan, this definitely has a full sound, full of clarity and definition without losing any teeth (or beak, in this case). There are your usual things here that are native to a Goatwhore record: blackened thrash abounds. There are some stylistic differences, though: blast beats, although not a prolonged section, appear, which is a little unnatural for them.  They also kind of try their hand at some like boogie-woogie type of swing that settles into a nasty groove; this is not surprising considering their geographic location. All in all, this is really close to Blood for the Master, which some hail as their best, but has some songwriting differences without straying from their overall sound.  7 Fucking Pecks.

Are you Cursed to See the Future? Well, Brooklyn three-piece MORTALS do. This is kind of hard for me to really bond with. There’s a blackness, a darkness, but I can’t really seem to pigeonhole this. It has a black metal sort of feel, kind of like Gallhammer, but better? More precise?  There are elements of sludge, doom and even the odd moment of hardcore thrown in at times. Even though the recording is pretty good, the production feels claustrophobic, and not in a good way.  It really feels squashed within an inch of its life, and leads me to believe that this would be a LOT better live.  I do have to say that they create a hell of a racket for a three-piece, and the filth on here has an underlying needling feeling. I guess I should add, even though it’s not relevant, that Mortals is three ladies. So, yeah, this is an admirable first effort. 6 Fucking Pecks.

I’ll be quite honest: I’ve never been a huge fan of ORIGIN, and their new record Omnipresent is no real exception. It’s not bad, but like I said, I’ve never been a huge fan. I DO have to say that the Colin Marston mixing job is impeccable, and the record has a really good tone, as some of these types of releases tend to be squashed to all peck. This is techy sort of death metal, for those of you that don’t know, and this album has more diversity  than any of the preceding releases.  I really don’t want to hate this, but I gotta be honest here: It’s just not my thing and I pecking can’t dig it. For those who like this sort of thing, you will not be disappointed, and I think it’s one of their better releases. It’s just not for me. The bass sounds cool and the drums sound amazing, and they can play. So, you like this? Buy it.  If you’re like me, this won’t change your mind. 5 Fucking Pecks.

KSP (Sorta) Plays A&R. Client #1: Shroud of Despondency

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, gnarly one-offs, listen On: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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One of the most distinct memories I have pertaining to Milwaukee black metal outfit Shroud of Despondency is as follows: the scene was February 2011, Clearwater Beach, Florida. My wife, kid and I were in the midst of our annual pilgrimage down south in order to escape the depressing, bone-chilling cold of another southern Ontario winter and because metal and deadlines never stop, even when you’re away and on vacation, I brought along a bit of work to dust off. “Work” is a bit of a misnomer though; most people wouldn’t call sitting by a hotel pool or on the beach, basking in the sun while listening to various new releases and jotting down a few hundred words on the matters at hand, work. Tough life, I know. My parents are still mystified at how I make a living. Hell, so am I!

Anyhow, after spinning their then-latest release, Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion, and doing a bit of research into their backstory, I remember thinking to myself – and writing for the rest of the world to see – about how odd it was that this band, aside from help with PR, was still virtually independent and remained unsigned. Now, I’m not the biggest black metal fan around, but having been in this game long enough and having been exposed to as much of everything as I have been in my travels, it’s not hard to pick out who’s delivering quality goods and who’s gussied up in corpse paint and singing in Norwegian despite hailing from Topeka, if you catch my drift.

That was over three years ago and in the world of Shroud of Despondency, that was three full-lengths, two live albums, two demos and two split EPs ago. When the band’s latest album, the double-disc set, Tied to a Dying Animal turned up in my mailbox and I noticed that the band was still unsigned, well, I continued to be flabbergasted. In these bespectacled eyes, Shroud has always struck a fine balance between black metal’s esoteric and progressive bookends; in addition to the skin-searing atonality and machine gun riffing inherent to the genre, the band has made it a commonality to include tasteful strains of classical, Americana and folk, not to mention thrash, doom and death metal, in their sound. Basically, I was amazed they still hadn’t had someone’s dotted line thrust in front of their faces, especially in light of 1) the black metal genre’s historical open-armed acceptance of everyone from Emperor and Vattnet Viskar to Abruptum and Panopticon, and 2) the shitloads of crap out there that gets passed off as “essential listening.”

At first, I thought it was maybe the band themselves fiercely holding on to their independence. Maybe they didn’t want to sign their lives away and were actively attempting to avoid becoming a casualty of the business? Or maybe it was because they wanted to keep the band as an artistic, albeit extremely prolific, hobby? Or maybe they were just the types who forsook any amount of the business side of things because they’d rather smoke bowls and jam out? Or maybe they’re just lazy as fuck? I was assured by various sources that none of the above was the answer, though the assumption was that the answer lay somewhere in the middle (except for the smoking bowls and being lazy part – I made that shit up). I mean, this music thing is so subjective; there’s no accounting for taste across the board – I’m sure there’s some asshat out there somewhere who will dismissively tell you he thinks Master of Puppets is just “all right” – and I realise that just because I find merit and value in something doesn’t mean the world at large will fall in line, but I remain amazed that this band’s name isn’t on more people’s radars. So, I tracked down mainman, guitarist Rory Heikkila and asked for a little background and his assessment of the situation.

“After several years of working on other projects, some metal and some folk/indie rock, I decided in 2010 to again start recording as Shroud of Despondency. Recently, I was approached with the idea of writing about the history of the band, my dealings with labels, my work habits, and overall determination as an underground artist. This invitation is both humbling and irritating, but overall something I feel is both deserved and necessary. I’m not sure a ‘typical’ metal artist is something that exists and I’m sure I’m not a ‘typical’ anything, but I do have an everlasting love of, and obsession with, heavy metal so the idea of getting to talk about my band in the this format is kind of cool considering the overall feeling I’ve gotten from friends, fans, and family is that the project is, for whatever reason, emotive and purposeful enough to be recognized as valid by people who release music.

“Shroud of Despondency was created in the mid/late 90’s as a means of coping with the suicide of a close friend, an experience even this grumpy old nihilist wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy, and the overall feeling that being a ‘metalhead’ in Upper Michigan was a relatively solitary adventure (hence the initial one man band aspect of the project). After a demo, 2002 saw the release of For Eternity Brings No Hope, release on Bindrune Recordings. If asked to speak of my dealings with labels I have nothing bad to say about Bindrune. The only regret is I was probably a bit too tripped out and young to recognize how fucking cool of an opportunity it was. I get asked a lot why they didn’t release more and I really don’t know and I’m not much of a person who dwells. To this day they release some of the best music.

“I recorded two follow ups, Forced to Wander into Nothing and Fairytales from the Tunnel of Puke, that only saw the light of day through CD-R trading. Again, tripped out. Overall, today, I’m glad I didn’t care because certain aspects of the albums are just atrocious. I feel this in spite of the compliments I get from those weird enough to tolerate insanely loud yelp-y vocals on top of under-produced, and occasionally poorly written, black metal songs. The same fate existed for the split with Algol on Paragon Records, although I like those songs a lot, and sessions I recorded for two other splits. No regrets. Heavy metal is littered with DIY artists who have worked for insane amounts of time to prove their worth and passion and that is, honestly, part of the appeal of the genre. The spirit is, even with all the sheepish posturing, that of the individual and I most definitely consider myself an individual.

“Not that a person can ever truly get over the losing of friendship to mental illness, particularly a person already hardened by feelings of alienation, but after all that it was time to grow. So I moved on. I honed my guitar playing, shredded some pretty hilarious tech-death metal, and then some folk/indie rock projects to honor my mother’s wish to hear me sing. Fuck you. As rough as it sounds to you, she loves it. The tensions of everyday life have a way of building up inside a person and in 2010 I decided it was in the best interest of my psyche to record as Shroud of Despondency again. Obective:Isolation was recorded. It definitely felt great to record honest and dark music again, but I also knew that Milwaukee had a great underground scene that I was interested in being a part of. A lot of you people don’t know this yet but Milwaukee has an insane amount of good bands.

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Dark Mediations in Monastic Seclusion was the first full length with a full line-up and Pine followed a year later. There were also a ton of local shows with kick ass bands thanks, mostly, to local promoter Jason Ellis. Choosing to promote the album through Clawhammer PR turned out to be a good decision. Both albums got many favorable reviews and I’m immensely proud of them, the live EP’s and the live shows. However, I will admit that this is the time a certain amount of bitterness started to show itself. “So and so (insert shitty opinion on supposed shitty band) is on such and such label and I have no spare money because I want to release music.” Boo-fucking-hoo right?

“Staying true to my work patterns, writing for the next album began before we had even released Pine. A double album, Tied to a Dying Animal was released in 2014 and is an album I fear, try as I might, I may never top. The rest of this doesn’t read ‘I’m stopping.’ I’ll definitely try. I’ll try until I’m dead or physically incapable of writing music. It’s the most accomplished metal material under the name and the most accomplished acoustic/instrumental material. It is the most sincere, dark, personal, and expensive album I’ve ever recorded. All with the bizarre muse of Martin Scorsese films. I love it. As a bonus, I feel it’s done exceptionally well locally and beyond thanks again to Clawhammer. The list of pretty kick ass bands we got to play with is pretty big and it helped create more memories, but the recording process left everyone a bit burned out. I’m admittedly a difficult person to work with when it comes to music. There isn’t too much room for other visionaries in Shroud of Despondency and I was most definitely lucky to have worked with as many visionaries as I did, so we are kind of either on hiatus or reworking a line-up right now. Check out some live clips on YouTube though. We killed it. Then go to bandcamp and work your way back from Tied to a Dying Animal.

“I’ve touched upon the history of this project in probably too many words and hopefully did not come off as bitter. I can say I am not bitter because of my understanding of what music is. To me music/art is something that transcends the idea of culture as it represents the thoughts, feelings, repressions, and philosophy of whatever neurotic flesh oddity is creating it. There is no need to blame because there is no one to blame for supposed ‘artistic short comings’ because the feeling of satisfaction that creating gives me, no matter how imperfect the creation might be, is bigger than any praise or criticism that can be rifled at me by a species who lives to critique others. I critique myself through writing and I am a stronger man because of it. I can get up every day and attempt a normal, sometimes merry and sometimes contemplative, life because I know I have a place to put whatever horror should arise. I do my job as an artist without being a quitter in life. Fuck the rest.

“So, yes, I’d like to stop spending large amounts of money on my music, but I most definitely would not be the first artist to fail miserably at getting ‘proper’ recognition. The word ‘proper’ is in quotes because I am speaking merely of that validation that comes with having a label release ones music, not the recognition I give myself and the beneficial consequences of such smugness. In fact, now that I’ve reached the end of this I feel even weirder about what could be perceived as seeking alms. Fuck it though, I was asked to write about my baby and I did and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so. Check out our fucking albums. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. Praise be to the adversary, or something.

ShroudofDespondency.bandcamp.com
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Decibrity Playlist: North

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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I first read about North via Catherine Yates’ review of What You Were back in 2008, but it wasn’t until I perused our Managing Editor’s writeup of the record in that year’s top 40 that I thankfully got around to listening. Even though it’s been a while since then, once you’ve read last year’s interview with guitarist Matt Mutterperl, all I really need to tell you about what the Arizonians have been up to recently is that they dropped a self-described “transition” EP Metanoia back in March and that it’s great to have them back. Since the trio will be hitting the road next month, we asked Mutterperl and drummer Zack Hansen to contribute another chapter in our ongoing series of what gets played in the tour van. After you’ve checked out their picks below, get a copy of Metanoia here. What You Were is also being released on vinyl for the first time next month, and you can pre-order that here.

When I’m on the road and it’s my turn to drive, it’s essential that I have a few things: coffee, light assorted snackery, and tunes that keep me engaged and pass the time. Here are my picks.–Matt Mutterperl

The Smashing Pumpkins–Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness (1995)
I first got this album when I was in grade school and I only jammed a few other songs besides the singles. Years later when I revisited it, I listened all the way through it and it was totally captivating. I love this record. We attempted covering “Bodies”, but it’s been on the drawing board for a while, unfortunately. Gets better with every listen through, I think. Perfect to get lost in.

Q And Not U–No Kill No Beep Beep (2000)
I moved to Arizona in the middle of high school, and I had zero friends for a little bit, except for the internet. A forum I was on had mentioned Dischord Records, and somehow I came across Q And Not U. This album was a real eye-opener/taste-shaper/mind-expander. It’s catchy as hell, and usually [bassist/vocalist] Evan Leek and I can sing along to most of it and dance like a couple of hip jerks!

Weezer–Pinkerton (1996, 2010 deluxe edition)
Again, an album that I briefly flirted with as a youth and came back to appreciate later. Pinkerton has that raw, visceral emotion that Weezer’s other offerings don’t really do for me. I can listen straight through, finger-drumming along for almost an hour before we hit the b-sides and live tracks: “Getting Up and Leaving” and “Tragic Girl” are solid tracks that I had never heard before and instantly fell in love with.

Glassjaw–Worship And Tribute (2002)
I’ve listened to this album countless times, and it never gets old to me. From front to finish, Daryl Palumbo’s vocals never let up. Hell, every instrument is shining here. “Tip Your Bartender” quickly sets the tone and all of the sudden I’m on “Pink Roses” and still jamming. I can easily get lost in this piece for it to satisfy part of an overnight drive. This album is timeless to me.

Sleep is such an invaluable resource on the road, you really take for granted just how comfortable the minute sounds of your own room are. Then you have to take into account the guys snoring their skulls off, the hardwood floor, the unfamiliar houses and the non stop ringing in your ears. Most of the time music is a necessity just to get those four hours of sleep you need to get back in the driver’s seat. North plays loud, heavy, and extreme music and so many of my favorite artists and groups are the opposite of that. I think a good contrast is needed. Here are some albums I need to get by on tour.–Zack Hansen

Sigur Rós–Ágætis byrjun (1999)
Such a monumental record, this band can do no wrong in my eyes. When we first started touring, I didn’t drive a lot. I would just throw on this record and ( ), and pass out in the back of the van for hours. I’m not sure I could stay awake through more than two songs, it was just so soothing and melancholic that I had no choice but to shut down completely.

Sylvain Chauveau–Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated) (2010)
I listen to a lot of composers and I think Frenchman Sylvain Chauveau is one of the strangest. Singular Forms bucked the trend of his previous albums and went so completely minimal that it becomes borderline creepy. The vocals make this project and really set it apart from the rest of his work. It’s rhythmic, raw, repetitive, and disconcerting. Doesn’t sound like the most appealing music when you need rest but it works. This is one of those albums where I’ll fall asleep over and over, only to wake up in the middle, only to go to right back to sleep again.

Mouth Of The Architect–Quietly (2008)
One of the most important records of my adulthood. It came out around the same time as our first full length, What You Were, in the summer of 2008. We were on tour for a month and our route was a few days behind the MOTA, Intronaut and Behold The Arctopus tour. We sometimes even played the same venue. All the while I listened to Quietly twice a day at least. It was my go to record when I needed peace and quiet. At the same time it’s not a gentle record, quite the opposite in fact. It’s so depressing and dark, from the opening sample of the wind chimes to the final vocals on “A Beautiful Corpse”. This is the music I needed to shut down the rest of the world for a time.

Braveyoung–We Are Lonely Animals (2011)
We toured with Braveyoung when they were known as Giant in our early instrumental days and they really showed me how tour was supposed to be done. I look up to them musically and as people. They went from putting out such a ridiculously crushing EP in Song to instrumental perfection on We Are Lonely Animals. I could listen to this all day and night, and sometimes do. It’s a nice reminder of the art and true beauty in music. It’s making me sappy as we speak. Their last record Will The Dust Praise You is equally inspiring.

*Photo by Andrew Weiss

**Pick up a copy of Metanoia here and check out the band on the following dates:

8/01/2014 Club Congress – Tucson, AZ
8/02/2014 TBA – Santa Fe, NM
8/03/2014 Denver Black Sky – Denver, CO
8/04/2014 FOKL Center – Kansas City, MO
8/05/2014 The Triple rock – Minneapolis, MN
8/06/2014 Quarters – Milwaukee, WI (with Northless)
8/07/2014 The Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL (with Northless)
8/08/2014 Ottawa Tavern – Toledo, OH
8/09/2014 The Shop – Pittsburgh, PA
8/10/2014 King Fun Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
8/11/2014 TBA – Brooklyn, NY
8/12/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
8/13/2014 Slim’s Downtown – Raleigh, NC
8/14/2014 The Poison Lawn – Knoxville, TN
8/15/2014 Wallstreet – Murfreesboro, TN
8/16/2014 The Forge – Birmingham, AL (with Set and Setting)
8/17/2014 Hey Café – New Orleans, LA (with Set and Setting)
8/18/2014 Hi-Tone – Little Rock, AR (with Set and Setting)
8/19/2014 Lindbeerg’s – Springfield, MO (with Set and Setting)
8/20/2014 The Conservatory – Oklahoma City, OK
8/21/2014 Holy Mountain – Austin, TX
8/22/2014 Lowbrow Palace – El Paso, TX
10/16-19/2014 Southwest Terror Fest III, Tucson, AZ

***Past Decibrity entries include:

Tombs
Sadgiqacea
The Atlas Moth
Arch Enemy
Archspire
Cormorant
Eyehategod (Part 1) (Part 2)
Floor
Iron Reagan
Fight Amp
Cynic
Melt-Banana
Junius (Part 1) (Part 2)
Alcest
East Of The Wall
Enabler
Wolvserpent
Drugs Of Faith
SubRosa (Part 1) (Part 2)
Vattnet Viskar
Skeletonwitch
Ihsahn
Earthless
Watain
Orange Goblin
God Is An Astronaut
Primitive Man
Gorguts
Exhumed
Ulcerate
Pelican
Scale The Summit
Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Mouth Of The Architect
Howl
Kings Destroy
Zozobra
Call of the Void
Saint Vitus Bar
Coliseum
Woe
Anciients
Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) (Björn Strid)
Intronaut
BATILLUS
Inter Arma
Helen Money
Misery Index
Ancient VVisdom
Holy Grail
Rotten Sound
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Early Graves
All That Remains
Bison B.C.
A Life Once Lost
Fight Amp
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Grave
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Dawnbringer
Ufomammut
Shadows Fall
Horseback
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Torche
“Best of” Meshuggah
Astra
Pallbearer
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Inside The Shredder’s Studio #12: Woody Weatherman of COC

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, lists On: Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

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Woody Weatherman of Corrosion of Conformity has influenced generations of shredders. His career has spanned many phases: the massively influential crossover albums, their unexpected commercial run in the ’90s and the return of the old school lineup in recent years. COC remains as relevant as ever and just released their new record IX. Mr. Weatherman sat down to tell us about the riffs that schooled him.

“Since I first picked up a guitar and tried to make a noise, the players that grabbed my attention were the ones that really would bend the string and meant it, and that has kind of stuck with me over the years,” he says.

Please welcome Woody Weatherman to the shredder’s studio.

ZZ Top: “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings”

I remember breaking into my Dad’s ZZ Top vinyls and it was on. Billy Gibbons is one of my faves to this day. This is one we occasionally halfway do as a warm-up during sound checks.

Black Flag: “Depression”

Attitude goes a long way and can sometimes carry a player. Seeing Black Flag when I was 15 or 16 was a game changer and some of that early stuff was a big influence on me.

Scorpions: “Dark Lady”

Giant overbends and awesome guitar intros have always grabbed my attention. I’ve been a huge Scorpions fan since I was a wee lad. There are so many great tunes to choose from but this is an old one that has cool guitar work

Black Sabbath: “Turn Up The Night”

What list these days is complete without some Sabbath? This band has influenced countless players and I’m one of them. Pretty much any song is great but the guitar work on this tune is pretty cool and a little different than a lot of Iommi’s stuff.

Jimi Hendrix: “Ezy Rider”

Probably the biggest influence on me since it was the first stuff I owned when I was a kid. He bends those strings just the way they ought to be bent.


Motorhead: “Bite the Bullet”

Sometimes you just want to hear some good solid rock and roll.

Read previous installments of Inside The Shredder’s Studio:

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

#5: Kurt Ballou of Converge
#6: Mark Thomas Baker of Orchid
#7: Andre Foisy of Locrian
#8: Eric Daniels of GSBC and Asphyx
#9: Kevin Hufnagel of Gorguts
#10: Marissa Martinez-Hoadley of Cretin
#11: Eric Cutler of Autopsy