The Deciblog Interview: Midnight

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: exclusive, featured, interviews On: Monday, October 27th, 2014

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Midnight is actually one man. Jamie Walters — a.k.a. Athenar — handles all instruments and vocals. Although the band has been around for more than a decade their profile has risen exponentially since the release of Satanic Royalty. Midnight will likely be lurking around some best of lists for the 2014 follow-up No Mercy For Mayhem, which my colleague Sean Frasier described as a “lovingly blackened pastiche” while noting that our friends at HH “excel at identifying artists who climb over the corpses of inferior imitators.” Athenar talked to the Deciblog about Cleveland Rock City, his hatred of travel and Men At Work. You can’t stop steel, folks.

When did you first think of Midnight? I remember seeing an article about you in Metal Maniacs about 2008 or 09.

I recorded the first stuff in early spring 2003 around Easter. It was kind of something to do, y’know. There was no real motive behind it. I forgot about that Metal Maniacs. I’m not really a fan of interviews. So instead of interviewing me he interviewed other people about the band. In thought it was a cool idea.

How did you teach yourself all of these instruments (guitars, drums, bass, possibly others)?

Practice at my house — there were always drums and odd instruments there. I’d just fool around on them and became a jack of all trades and a master of none. I’m passable on all instruments but barely get by. I don’t consider myself a great guitar player, bassist or drummer at all, but I can get by.

I’m also not one of these people that talks about something and is like: “I listened to that in my teenage years.” Anything that I listened to I’m not ashamed of; I still listen to it. When I was young I listened to Michael Jackson and Men At Work. In a few months I wanted to go hear Van Halen. Then it went to Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Month by month I’d get into heavier stuff like Kreator and Celtic Frost.

You mentioned radio. When I listen to Midnight I feel like you focus on writing good songs, which is a bit lost in metal.

For sure. That’s one of the things: I’m a fan of songs. I always thought it was obvious that people should like songs. But now it seems like people want a sound. They want to hear something that takes away their attention rather than grabs it. I’ve always listened to all types of music so there is something buried. There are song structures buried in my brain, what’s left of it. I’m always humming something or changing the lyrics, but there is always a tune or a rhythmic pattern. It’s not something I try to do but it’s there.

The reception for No Mercy For Mayhem has been significant considering the band’s roots.

I don’t pay attention to it. It’s nice and cool if someone likes it. Sometimes if too many people like it – like Ghost – people will say “only the cool people can like it.” If everyone thinks it’s good other people will just think it sucks!

In fairness, sometimes people say things are really good because they are.

Well, I think that, too. I didn’t set out to sign to a record label and I never tried to jump on a tour or sign with a record producer because they have a good name. I just do what I feel comes from me. I think I’m a genuine person and hopefully this reflects that and people can relate to it.

What do you think people identify with in Midnight? I think one writer called you more or less the saviours of heavy metal.

Wow, I wish you wouldn’t tell me that because now I’ll think about it. (laughs). I guess that’s nice. It’s cool that people like it but it’s up to the person.

How did you get involved with Hell’s Headbangers and what has Chase (Horval, label founder) meant to the band?

He’s been great. Four brothers work there and they all do their part. I would just be happy recording and releasing CD-Rs. But they can put it out there and let more people hear it. They give me free reign to do whatever I want. They also ask for my opinion. It’s not like some labels where they want you to do three big, stupid t-shirt designs a year and put an ad on everything. That’s not me. I don’t need 14 hoodie designs with a merch sheet.

There have been some cool items, like the blue vinyl for Satanic Royalty and the picture disc for No Mercy.

I’m a record collector nerd, too. They ask if they can put it on a certain color. They know what they are doing. I leave most of that stuff up to them but I trust them.

How did you get in touch with the label? The Ohio connection?

They are from Medina which is 30 miles away for Cleveland. Cleveland is a small city and everyone knows each other. Even if they don’t know your name you’ll be “the dude with the Sodom back patch.” They always had an offer out there that if I wanted to do a record of any type they were open to it. Nuclear War Now! was putting out stuff and he’s a good guy but he puts a record out and it’s a done. Hell’s Headbangers keep it in print so people can hear if. It’s not 500 records and you are done. It would have really sucked if Judas Priest only put out 500 copies of Stained Class.

How did growing up in Cleveland affect your growth as a musician?

There’s an attitude people have here, a fuck it type attitude. It’s a never try too hard attitude which is maybe why we don’t have any sports championships. I was born here and I’ve lived here for 40 years and nothing much has changed.

What was the metal scene like when you were growing up?

I started going to gigs around summer of 1987 when I was 13 or 14. In Cleveland we had a station called Z-Rock along with a really good college radio station. The college station had a lot of good DJs and would play thrash. Z-Rock was a little more mainstream but at night they’d still play Possessed and Carnivore. I thought Cleveland was a big metal town, at least as a 14-year-old kid.

So you were getting exposed to not just big bands but the underground.

At that age you want to hear faster and heavier and darker and more obscure. In summer of 1987 the second gig I went to was King Diamond and Trouble. You wanted to find out about bands like Exhumer or obscure German thrash, but at the same time I listened to Led Zeppelin and Bad Company and Ted Nugent. Cleveland is in the Midwest so they didn’t care if you listened to AC/DC and Bathory or even punk. You could listen to Angry Samoans and you weren’t set to be a punker with a mohawk. A lot of punkers were listening to Judas Priest, too.

It seems like a city where you can’t escape classic rock. You’re going to have that station that only plays Led Zeppelin and 38 Special.

Even classic Cleveland punk bands like The Pagans weren’t dressed like punkers they were wearing Cleveland Indians t-shirts and jeans. They weren’t trying to be over-the-top punkers with safety pins through their noses.

Is that something we’ve lost in metal? Everything is a small tribe rather than people just uniting around records they love.

These subgenres are idiotic. “I only listen to symphonic power metal.” Heavy metal is a subgenre in itself, so what’s wrong with listening to that? Can’t you just say you like heavy metal and hard rock? It’s now broke down to “I only like a certain type of black metal.” But don’t get me wrong there are good 17-minute songs. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is good.

When Venom did At War With Satan the long song was an exception; it was such a novelty that the novelty became the record.

It was 20 minutes long and a band like that had never done that before. I still like that album. It might not be as much as a song as a collection of riffs but I think it’s really good. It’s tough to make a 20-minute spin unless you have a spooky five-minute intro and a spooky five-minute outro. For the most part that is twenty minutes of riffs.

What two records did you listen to the most when you were a teenager?

Kill ‘Em All – I just played it over and over because I was learning to play. That’s where I learned to figure out riffs. That definitely got played a lot. I could go for on days about stuff that stuff that got played too much.

Did you stick with Metallica through Load?

I did. That might not be my favorite album. There was only a small period of time right before And Justice For All where I thought I was a little too cool for school. For that band to make those first three records, they have a free pass to do whatever they want. Load might not be my favorite but it’s Metallica. And I’m sure they don’t care what I do (laughs).

Do you ever see yourself just doing the band or will you just play when you feel like it?

I’ve turned down more offers that I’ve accepted. Being away from home for five months out of the year is not for me. I do this because I like it and if I did that I wouldn’t like it. I’m not doing this to make a living. My life is half done – what the hell! I play music because it’s what I like to do. In 2013 we might have done 13 shows. It seems like a lot and it was in some far away countries. But if you only pay 13 shows a year that’s not too many.

That has to be a trip to go to other countries and meet people who like your band.

We were in New Zealand and crossing this bridge and it kind of hit me how weird it was to be (there) and people want to hear this music. But it’s not a bad thing. I try not to think about it and do what I do.

Do you still listen to Men At Work?

Every once in a while. The first record isn’t bad. They have a song called “Overkill” on the Cargo album and if a band calls a song “Overkill” they can’t be that bad. There’s Motorhead’s “Overkill” and Men At Work. You pick which one you think is the best.

STREAMING: Ne Obliviscaris “Citadel” + Brendan Brown (Ne Obliviscaris) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, October 27th, 2014

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** Ne Obliviscaris may have a mouthful of a band name and their music may be at the mad end of progressive, but there’s something alluring about the Aussies’ approach. Every song is a labyrinth, begging to be figured out at every turn. We flew down to Australia via digital highways to catch bassist Brendan Brown a fortnight away from Ne Obliviscaris’ stateside release of Citadel. Let’s not forget we have Citadel streaming in full after the Q&A.

There’s a lot going on musically in Ne Obliviscaris. Do you ever think to yourselves? Let’s simplify this a little?
Brendan Brown: We don’t think about the music much at all in the initial stages. We just write whatever comes naturally to us. We never sit down and say to each other: “let’s write a long complex song.” Someone comes into the room with a riff or a few sections and we just jam it out. So in a way it is simple to us and natural. Music should never be forced out. Music is a language and this is how we communicate with one another, and like with any language we have become more fluent at it as the years go on. There is a lot to be expressed by 6 members. So to an outside observer it may appear as a busy six-way conversation, but in our world it is just us being ourselves and having a hearty chat.

Ne Obliviscaris means something like “do not forget”. What do you want fans to remember about Ne Obliviscaris? Obviously, the song titles on Citadel aren’t too easy to remember. (Just kidding. Kind of)
Brendan Brown: I would like fans to feel the same emotion that we do when listening to the songs. Experience the same journey and connect with the ebb and flow of the music as we do when we are writing or rehearsing. We often get messages from fans that state just that. Some fans tell us our music changed their lives and gave them a clear new path in life. To us, that is the highest praise possible. As for the song names, you mentioned earlier that our music is also complex, so I guess that means maybe we are a “thought provoking” band. Cryptic lyrics and song titles that people could dig deep to find the meaning of. Our vocalist Xen takes control of all the lyrics and imagery, and likes for people to make their own interpretations.

There are a lot of “play-through” videos of the band on YouTube. Was that more about marketing or trying to say, “Yeah, we can actually play this crazy stuff”?
Brendan Brown: A bit of both. Anyone that has seen us live knows we can play the songs. We wouldn’t write something that was out of our musical ability. We often get messages from fans asking us for tabs or play-throughs, or even statements on YouTube on our songs saying “there’s no way Dan’s kick drums are real”. It’s just ludicrous… [Laughs] For me personally there were a couple of bass covers appearing on YouTube that were quite incorrect, so I uploaded my own video so people could get an idea of what I was playing because the bass is generally not as prominent in the mix as other instruments. (This was before the tab books were released to the public.)

Were you ready for the response? Kids kind of lost their minds, really.
Brendan Brown: The response to all NeO releases has been very overwhelming. From our very first gig, to our very first demo, fans have always been very vocal about their support and how they feel towards the band. It’s always a great feeling to hear such passionate words come from our fans. Ultimately we write music for ourselves. When we formed as a band we never said “I hope people like this” we just had fun meeting up every week and writing endless music. So we try to not be too concerned what other people think. As long as we are happy with our creation then we were confident our fans would enjoy it too. To us Citadel is just a natural progression of Portal of I. It still has similar characteristics as the previous album, but it is more refined, and a higher level of musicianship. We had three years to improve on our instruments and the music is a reflection of that journey.

What were your primary goals, musically and personally, going into Citadel?
Brendan Brown: Our primary goal was to write something we were proud of. Some things get scrapped. Some sections lead to dead end roads. Generally we just want to create something that flows and is enjoyable to us. Personally I just want to be the best bass player and composer that I can be, always learning and expanding my craft. I believe we are all on the same page there and writing for album number 3 has already begun. There is no shortage of ideas between 6 members.

Anything you didn’t want to repeat from Portal of I? Lessons learned kind of stuff.
Brendan Brown: Just to be more productive and proficient in the studio. Portal of I was a huge challenge and it consumed a lot of time in the studio, which lead to a costly production. This time around we knew what to expect. Plus we all have our own little recording setups at home, so there was lots of pre-production and experience gained in a recording environment. This lead to a more efficient use of studio time, and ensuring we got the best performances from ourselves

I’m curious where the violin melodies come from? Some of them sound like they were plucked from an Erhu player, while others feel almost Bohemian (Czech).
Brendan Brown: Tim is influenced by a broad range of genres, and I think that comes across even more evidently on Citadel with his violin playing. The influences of all members in the band are so varied it can be difficult to pinpoint where the idea stems from. It’s like getting all the music you’ve ever heard thrown in to a pot and then trying to bring out your own unique recipe. Most of my bass lines are funky. But I mainly listen to brutal death metal. Work that one out!

There’s a lot of quality progressive metal coming out of Australia in recent years. What do you attribute that to, if you have a sense?
Brendan Brown: I’m not entirely sure. Progressive music is very broad in terms. You can be progressive rock, or progressive extreme metal. Prog is an all encompassing term. Breaking away from generic music compositions and structures and implementing more worldly sounds, complex rhythms and time signatures. Metal is forever changing and expanding. Australia has an awesome death metal scene; I guess it’s only natural to have a prospective Progressive scene riding along side, and Black Metal scene for that matter. There are tons of very talented people in this country as a whole, regardless of genre. We just love music and arts.

If there’s a focus track on Citadel, which track is that and why?
I would like to think “Painters of the Tempest” is the body of the album. It’s our longest and most involved song. It is an emotional journey and contains so many colors and movements. It is our masterpiece. We are all so proud of it and it definitely brings out the best of our abilities. A true showcase of our 10 year journey to its inception.

** Ne Obliviscaris’ new album, Citadel, is out November 11th on Season of Mist Records. The album is available for U.S. pre-order HERE. If your blood bleeds complex, mind-bending metal, you owe to yourself to pick up Citadel, if even you can’t pronounce the band name.

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

By: admin Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, October 24th, 2014

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Here we go. Mercury is still in retrograde, so you know, a parrot can be moody too.

The cavemen of death metal (self-proclaimed), OBITUARY, release Inked in Blood on Relapse. Beginning as a Kickstarter project, this comes out of the gate relatively fast, and then really slows the pace down. Like puts the brakes on for most of the record. The pace really picks back up near the end, and kinda almost frenetically. Not having much technical prowess doesn’t mean this is pedantic, and most of the songs  hearken back more to the old-school days of death metal. There is a definite groove going on in a lot of the songs, but the overall impression comes across as a little scattered and mixed up. The album does close with a total barn burner, though, that stirs up the intensity to almost a frantic pace.  All in all, this is a pretty good record, certainly no Cause of Death or Slowly We Rot, but better than most of the mid-period catalog. Sooo, I dunno. 7 Fucking Pecks.

Not as good as the movie by the same name, but BLOOD FREAK release Squalor on Willowtip. What is there to say about this genre of extreme death/grind that hasn’t been said before?  There is a difference here, the riffs. This has thrash, death and a little grooviness to it, which separates it from the tons of Impetigo and Repulsion clones. There is some tech here, and the riffs are catchy, giving the overall impression of a pretty good record. Blood Freak’s previous efforts really failed to rattle my cage too much, and although those were good releases, they weren’t particularly memorable. Not the case with Squalor.  Some of these tracks have some fretwork that is busy, but still remains memorable. I’m pecking digging this. 7 Fucking Pecks.

ANAAL NATHRAKH release Desideratum, (making sure my spell check is working overtime here), and prove that they really can keep up the ferocity they’re known for. American black metal really doesn’t ruffle my feathers, but extreme music is extreme music, and this is extreme. This is abrasive and brutal, almost unrelenting at times. The occasional use of samples (lame, right?) and the industrial glitch here and there really adds to break up the monotony of the constant dick-kicking one gets while listening to this. Any fan of this band will surely like this, and anyone who just likes ear-fuckery will dig this, too. That being said, this is certainly not an exciting record by any means, and although unrelenting, is not going to really push them into any new territory. Not bad, but I’m not thrilled either. 6 Fucking Pecks.

New Child Bite Video with King Buzzo, Primary Colors and Killer Music

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, listen, videos On: Friday, October 24th, 2014

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Detroit wildmen Child Bite are currently touring the wide United States, playing this Sunday at the Housecore Horror Film Festival and continuing with dates through the Midwest and East Coast (dates/locations below).  Today we get to show you their brand new (read: just finished yesterday) music video for “Ancestral Ooze,” a song from their forthcoming Strange Waste EP (out November 25th) on Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records.  The video, a tribute to the 1987 underground horror flick Street Trash (which, incidentally, was also referenced by the whole premise of a recent episode of new show Gotham), features Buzz Osbourne as the dealer of brightly colored beverages that cause people to meet their ends in various exquisitely gruesome ways.  The video was written and directed by ex-DEP guitarist Jeff Tuttle.

It’s Friday morning.  You’re not ready for this.  But, oh, you’re so ready for this.  Enjoy!

Child Bite Fall Tour Dates

10/26 Austin, TX @ Housecore Horror Film Fest w/ Superjoint, Corrections House
10/27 New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar w/ Acid Witch, Author & Punisher
10/28 Louisville, KY @ The New Vintage w/ Acid Witch
10/29 Evansville, IN @ PG
10/30 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
10/31 Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle w/ Bloodiest
11/01 Grand Rapids, MI @ Spoke Folks
11/02 Ypsilanti, MI @ Crossroads
11/04 Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
11/05 Baltimore, MD @ Club K
11/06 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
11/08 Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio w/ Doomsday Student, White Mice
Also, check out more Child Bite at their Bandcamp and Facebook pages.

Four Stages. Quadraphonic Sound. Eight Albums. One Band: Kong Interviewed

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, videos On: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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I’ve been going on about Amsterdam’s Kong for almost 25 years. The instrumental metal/electronic/dance-y/trance-y/industrial quartet show no sign of slowing down which, by default, means I’m not going to be able to slow down in my unwavering support for the band. And if they keep offering up killer albums like their recently released eighth album, Stern , well, that’s just more deaf ears for my fanboy-ism to fall upon. Bassist Mark Drillich and I have been in sporadic contact with one another since the early days of the band and their 1990 debut on Peaceville, Mute Poet Vocalizer. Every time the band releases a record, Drillich either cowers in fear at my requests (‘insistent regularity’ might be a good way of putting it) or welcomes the guarantee of at least one hack giving a shit. “Didn’t we do an interview via mail or fax back in the day?” he asked me a few weeks ago. Both, my friend, and on separate occasions. This year is no different, though instead of my going on about the glory of the band’s music, I’ve decided to delve more in-depth about the band’s unique four-stage/quadraphonic sound system live presentation. Check out the photo heading this piece and the video below for visual examples of the main thrust of the following interview, which was done via email. Not snail mail. Or fax.

What was the original motivation in moving away from playing on a regular stage to using the four-platform/quadraphonic sound set up?
It was a combination and a coincidence of several reasons and experiences. The first sort of gig we did was in a friend’s art gallery in which there wasn’t enough room for a stage, so we stood separated, spread through the space with the audience and art in between us. Soon afterwards, we we’re invited to play a gig at the Melkweg in Amsterdam. We were a little hesitant because we didn’t consider ourselves a ‘real band,’ having unusual music and no singer/frontman. Then, our sound engineer, whom we knew from a previous band, came up with the idea to use the set-up from the art gallery: four stages in the corners of the venue and a double P.A. system, meaning extra speakers in the back of the room. This made sense to us, we would take away the focus on the (non-existent) frontman/woman and we wouldn’t have to present ourselves as a regular rock band with the corresponding attitude and presentation. Also, it was the time of the first dance/rave parties in which often a P.A. with four stacks was used and lights and sound were used to create an overall, overwhelming atmosphere. This was the kind of thing we also wanted to achieve with our concerts. An extra motivation was a concert by Karlheinz Stockhausen which I attended around that time in which he played an electronic piece (“Kontakte”) with an octaphonic sound system – four speakers in the corners on the floor and four in the corners on the ceiling – which was an incredible experience.

Initially, what did you use for the individual stages and where did you find the sound equipment?
First, we used what was available in the venue where we played. Later, we bought three stages [which were made] of 1×2 metre platforms (the drummer plays on the normal stage) which we prepared so we could attach our own lighting system to them. The P.A. system is always supplied by the venue, a normal mixing desk with four speaker sets/P.A. stacks. Sometimes, we use a device developed by a friend which makes it possible to send each instrument to a specific speaker and let it ‘travel’ from one to the other, through the space. Unfortunately, this is too complicated to use all the time. So, we also use a double stereo system, but combined with the sound of our own amplifiers it still gives a very spatial and varied sound.

How long did it take before you had everything you needed to start playing live and had the transportation to move all this stuff around from gig to gig?
This is an always changing and developing process. Like I wrote above, the sound system is always more or less the same principle and is, fortunately, not carried around by us. We bring a lot of light equipment though; special multi-cables to connect the different stages and lights, some theatre lamps, different working lights and sometimes video projections. We sometimes attach long poles to the stages so every stage has its own light stand with different lamps attached. Apart from the equipment, it’s very important for us to have a very good (and always the same) sound and light engineer. They know the music by heart and are sort of extra band members when we play live.

For some video evidence of how this business looks and works, check it out:

When you first started showing up to shows with the separate stages/platforms, what were the reactions like from clubs, patrons and other bands?
In general, there are two types of reactions: curiosity and scepticism. Sometimes it took our manager/booker quite some time to convince a club that it really works and is worth the trouble. And many times clubs tell us that it is not possible in their venue because of the size or shape. We always tell them that it is possible in almost any place and once they’re prepared to give it a shot, it almost always proves to work out fine. Of course, after having played like this for some time, people started to hear about it and also booked us because of this set-up. And, in general, after they’ve seen and heard it they have to agree that it works and that is gives something extra that maybe wouldn’t work for all bands, but in our case certainly contributes to the ‘concert-experience’.

Back in the day, I remember reading show reviews in European magazines and once in while the writer would complain about having to wait while you guys set up. How long does/did it usually take to set up and tear down and was it ever really a problem?
I don’t think so, normally we build up and sound check long before the show. It takes us probably a bit longer than the average band but because we always have the same technicians it goes pretty smoothly, normally.

When you tour with the whole set up, did you ever encounter problems with venues not wanting to allow you to use the stage/PA set up?
Normally, venues know more or less what to expect and our technicians always get in touch with the venue long before the gig, but I remember one time where we were initially kicked out when they heard about our set-up. We arrived in London during a support tour for Fear Factory and the guy who let us in (don’t remember whether he was the technician or some kind of manager or stagehand) totally freaked out and decided to kick everybody out, including Fear Factory! After he cooled down and checked with his superiors, everybody was invited in again and we had quite a good night there.

I know that on the one US tour you did many moons ago, that you weren’t able to play using your regular set-up (I’ve seen the photos!). How awkward and uncomfortable did that make you feel?
Actually, that was just one gig in New York and it was a pretty uncomfortable experience. Apart from a few big festivals, we had never played on one stage before. At a festival, there are a lot of extras: the size of the stage, a lot of lights (or sunshine), a large audience and a special atmosphere. In this very small club, there was almost no lighting, a very small audience and nothing to compensate for the lack of the four stages. But, in the end, we only played a few songs because our power-transformers (220 to 110 volt) failed and we had to quit.

Over the years, you’ve maintain the set up. How has it changed/evolved/been refined with time? Is it something you still insist on using at all times, or is the set up only brought out on special occasions or for home town gigs?
No, in principle we always play like this. The only one-stage gigs have been at festivals where it was practically and technically impossible to play quadraphonically. The set-up hasn’t changed over the last few years. We have plenty of ideas, but at the moment there’s just no money to realize them.

So, I’m assuming this way of playing live is going to be a part of Kong’s existence until there is no more Kong?
I’m afraid so. Although it’s a big hassle and a burden sometimes, it’s still the ultimate way to play for us, even for the new band members! It’s fun to play one stage now and then, but only because it’s unusual for us. But I think the four stage/quadra set up really contributes a lot to the way people experience our music and music in general. It’s a more logical and sort of organic way of performing: you take a space, put some musicians, audio equipment, lights and audience in, stir it and have a ball. To me, it’s more fun then this usual ‘audience down on the floor/band high upon the stage’ principle. But apparently not so many people feel this way for as far as I know where still the only band that does it.

deciblog - kong stern

And last, but not least, so to speak, can you tell me a bit about the new record?
The funny thing I realized when working on this album is that we never learned how to do it [properly]. Making music and an album, I mean. So, like with all previous records there was no plan, no goal, nothing that we hoped to achieve apart from putting a dozen or so good or interesting songs together, record them properly and mix them in way that would make them ‘understandable’ or recognizable for other people. And, of course, not repeating ourselves or other musicians too much. Practically, there are differences with other albums; we worked much more separately then before, only using each other to contribute specific parts and to enrich or perfect our individual ideas. We have a great new drummer (Oscar Alblas); a very young (just a few years more than half my age!), classically-trained drummer/percussionist who, apart from Gamelan and modern classical music, plays terrific heavy metal drums and has great, refreshing input. But I can’t say if and in what way it differs from older stuff, to me it’s just a bunch of new songs. Oh yeah, it’s new that we worked with a few guest musicians who played surf guitar, Hammond organ, sabar, synthesizer and vocals!

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Encrotchment With Eddie Gobbo From Jar’d Loose: Week 7

By: Eddie Gobbo Posted in: encrotchment, featured, nfl 2014 On: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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Q: What’s Meghan Trainor’s middle name?

A: Needsa

Primitive Football God

This summer, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the dudes from Denver’s Primitive Man. Not only are they one of the dopest, heaviest, most pummeling bands in heavy music right now, but their bassist, Jonathan Campos, wears a Denver Broncos hat in July. Dudes who wear football hats during the offseason are usually pretty hardcore fans. I knew I had to talk some Broncos with him sometime this season. After what happened this past weekend in Denver, I was certain this was the week to hit up Jon.

This past Sunday, with four touchdown passes against the 49ers, Broncos QB Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre’s all-time touchdown pass record (508). I loved seeing it, because I love Peyton Manning. I’ll be the first to admit, though: I actually spent a lot of time disliking Peyton. He crushed my Bears in Super Bowl XLI. It was tough to like the man after that. Even now that he’s wearing a Broncos uniform, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Jon too threw shade at Manning for years before the uniform change:

 “I hated him. Fuckin’ guy knocked us out of the playoffs at least twice. [The Colts] just always beat us.”

It would be an understatement to say Manning was welcomed by the Denver fan base with open arms three years ago. In the mid-2000’s, Denver drafted quarterback Jay Cutler out of Vanderbilt. He put together three good seasons for the Broncos, one a Pro Bowl year. However, there were always questions about Cutler’s leadership. When coaching prodigy and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels came to Denver and became their head coach, he turned the Cutler regime on its head. Cutler was traded to my Chicago Bears, and the Broncos got small-armed QB Kyle Orton and draft picks in return.

“That was a weird time for my boys. McDaniels just wasn’t the best coach for us; I’m glad he is gone. Jay Cutler was a horrible QB that had a fluke run one year he was here. I mean, he was a good laugh at in  [local] commercials… (but) he wasn’t a leader.”

(I like Jay Cutler, but whatever).

As you can guess, Orton was hated in Denver, too. I’ll never forget being in Vegas for Orton’s first game as the starting QB of the Broncos–which he won, by the way–and seeing two drunks bros in Broncos gear yelling in unison at the TV image of Orton, “YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!” The Broncos drafted a QB the following year in the first round, in theory to replace Orton. His name was Tim Tebow.The drafting of Tim Tebow was a death sentence for McDaniels, and everyone’s tolerance of a punky QB existing in Denver. Enter John Elway as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, and the courtship of Peyton Manning. Two and a half seasons later, Elway’s decision couldn’t have gone more accordingly to plan. Props to Elway and his eternal role in Denver. He is Mr. Bronco. However, with Manning’s success in Denver, it does bode the question of whether or not Elway will still go down as Mr. Bronco if Manning himself wins a championship or two.  Jon thinks so:

“Peyton Manning is a Hall of Famer. I really want him to get a ring. But no one will fill the shoes of Elway. Johnny is the Duke. The King. He started with the Broncos and ended with the Broncos. He took us to Super Bowls we may have had no business in, and won. He may not hold the records [like Manning], but he is the king FOREVER.”

Peyton Manning has surpassed an unbelievable record that he  never should have broken with the cards he was dealt. He not only had to work his way back from what appeared to be a career-ending injury; he had to begin playing for another team, and put up two MVP seasons to get to this point. He defied all odds in doing so. My hat goes off to him.

I’m stoked for Denver’s interdivision clash tonight with the Philip Rivers-led San Diego Chargers. Jon and I both agree that San Diego, like Denver, is a force to reckon with this year.

“This is gonna be a tough game [for Denver]. The Chargers are doing it up this year, no doubt. Its also a short week for us, so that’s’ some B/S. Either way, fuck Philip Cry Me a Rivers. LETS GET IT, DENVER!!!”

Jon’s pumped, and I’m pumped on the new Primitive Man record, Scorn, out now on Relapse .

I Follow Rivers

Now, enough about Peyton Manning. Let’s talk about his the guy he’s going head-to-head with tonight.

I’ll go on the record and say that even though Manning has had an amazing season so far this year — of course anchored by him becoming the all-time leader in touchdown passes — Philip Rivers would still be my MVP this season. Here’s why:

Remember when San Diego’s starting QB was Drew Brees? He destroyed his shoulder and San Diego dropped him for Rivers. Do you think that if the Chargers could go back in time, they’d still drop a future Hall of Famer? The answer is yes. That’s how good Rivers is. He’s the rare QB that can make something out of nothing. He’s been cursed with mediocre coaching, for starters. The Marty Schottenheimer regime killed an amazing Rivers-led team featuring LaDainian Tomlinson in his prime and a Shawn Merriman-led top five defenses. End result, blown playoff games, no Super Bowl berths, and no championships. Since then, the team has literally rode Rivers’ coattails. And why shouldn’t they? Over the years, they’ve lost significant players on the offensive side, replaced them with inferior players, and Rivers still finds ways to get them to produce. Vincent Jackson was, in my opinion, the number one receiver in football four years ago. He went to Tampa Bay and died. He was never replaced on the team with a legit number one receiver. Rivers is currently throwing to Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen. If you put any of those players on the Broncos, they’d be the fourth WO behind, D. Thomas, Sanders, and even Wes Welker. Yet Rivers still finds a way to sling the ball, put up 30+ points a game, and get wins.

Rivers has faced three top defenses thus far (NYJ, Seattle and Arizona). He won two of those three games. He did lose to a KC team fighting for their lives this past week, and may very well lose to the best team in football tonight. If they do, they’ll have a win coming next week against Miami, making them 6-3 at the bye. San Diego’s second half schedule is very difficult, but with Rivers at the helm, they won’t go into any of those games feeling they’re the inferior team.

Lastly, Rivers personal stats do not lie. He’s completing approximately 70% of his passes, and is on pace to throw between 35-40 touchdowns this year, and pass for approximately 4,500 yards. These are beyond MVP numbers. Just staggering.

Are You There, St. Louis-Area Kids? It’s Me, God.

If you’re going trick or treating this Halloween, don’t go to Jeff Fisher’s house. He will trick you EVERY TIME. Just ask Pete Carroll.

Gambling: It’s What’s for Dinner.

I will rarely get political with you in this column. This week will be the exception.

For a while now, it’s been common knowledge that New Jersey governor  (and possibly our next President) Chris Christie (R) has been an open advocate of legalizing sports gambling in casinos and OTBs in New Jersey. This past Friday, Christie signed a bill legalizing sports betting in Jersey. For several reasons, the four big sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) sought an injunction to stop Christie’s legal gambling push, currently leaving it at a standstill.

The legalization of sports gambling would essentially make New Jersey a full-fledged east coast Nevada, and thus turn the East Coast gambling scene on its head. Unlike Nevada, which is a southwest state that is hard to get to, New Jersey is smack dab in the middle of several big East Coast markets. I think it’s safe to argue that legal NJ sports gambling will compel every ready, willing and able football gambler within striking distance of New Jersey to make driving up there every Sunday part of their routine.

I follow the world of football gambling. I make a pick every week against the line (so far I’m 7-0 this season). Now, living in Chicago, I am obviously nowhere near any legal U.S. gambling facility. But I will be the first to admit that there are no shortages of dudes betting, looking to place bets, and looking to take bets out here. This has led me to be blessed with several illegal sports betting-related bedtime stories over the years. Like the time a guy I know tried to call in a bomb threat to a stadium when the team he bet on was losing. Or the time a guy I know placed a bet with a bookie through his friend in Michigan, lost $500, and then decided he wasn’t going to pay because he wasn’t “going to Michigan any time soon.” It all worked itself out. His friend got his ass kicked and his TV stolen.

If sports betting became legal across the board, I’d probably hear less of these stories, which would be a good thing. But I also feel it would lead to a huge spike in sports gambling, which isn’t necessarily a good thing either. Legalization would open up the floodgates for more people working it in to their weekly routine. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the illegal sports betting world on the East Coast is for the most part run by, you guessed it, the Mafia. As fun as it is to deal with the Mafia, the blue collar father of three may not be so quick to place bets with them. They recognize them winning a few hundred bucks isn’t worth the risk of getting busted by the police or getting their head busted by Paul Sorvino if there’s a “misunderstanding.” New Jersey legalization will allow all East Coast sports gamblers to drive somewhere within a couple hours to a state-sanctioned establishment where their bet will be placed in a legit fashion. Something doesn’t sit well with me about this. Call me crazy, but I don’t like the idea of the habitual weekly football gambler having to spend time away from his family to commute to New Jersey on a Sunday in order to place a bet legally. It seems socially counterproductive.

Here’s my ideal sports gambling situation, which I believe is fair for all parties: The U.S. government should either make gambling legal in sanctioned casinos and OTBs in all 50 states, or they should allow legal sports gambling through an online source for people not close to said sanctioned casinos and OTBs. I also think the government should be able to flag certain gamblers as unfit to gamble based on past transgressions, sort of like the gambling equivalent of a DUI. If you can’t afford to lose or gamble responsibly, you shouldn’t have the right to gamble.

That said, here’s your gambling line of the week.

Pick of the Week

Arizona -2 over Philly

Decibrity Playlist: Encoffination

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

III-3

As previously expressed in these pages, the concept behind the new Encoffination record is “the glorification of death: an offering to the embodiment of death’s creation, and to sing the wretched hymns of death’s omnipresence, to kneel to death’s crown as we all shall fall under death’s eventual grasp…If the last record were a tool to teach about death, this record is that creation.” Given the six mentions of death in that pull quote alone and the fact that it comes from vocalist/guitarist/bassist/funeral director Ghoat, it’s not surprising that death permeates his playlist. While most of his picks forgo the death and doom in which Encoffination traverses, the duo’s latest LP, III – Hear Me, O’ Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs), provides plenty of that. After you check out his selections, you can pick up a copy of said LP, which dropped on Tuesday, here.

Steve Earle’s “Ellis Unit One” (from 1996′s Dead Man Walking OST)
This is a powerful song about growing up and being confronted with the realities of life and death. I myself am a pretty staunch opponent of the death penalty (this isn’t the forum so I’m not going into it), and “Ellis Unit One” tells a story of a young man being forced to grow up and go to work at the local prison like the males of his family have done before him. The paradox of the men desensitized to the horrors of execution and the emotional burden it creates paints a pretty morbid and real picture. The nightmare Earle sings about in the last verse (“Even Jesus couldn’t save me…he don’t live on Ellis Unit One”) is legitimately scary as fuck. This is one of the darkest songs ever written. It’s haunting.

Townes Van Zandt’s “Dead Flowers” (from 1993′s Roadsongs and 1998′s The Big Lebowski OST)
Townes Van Zandt is in good company with the track above, as Steve Earle has long been very outspoken about the genius of Van Zandt. Hell, not only did he do a album of his covers, he named his son after him. This also being from a movie soundtrack is purely coincidence. “Dead Flowers” is a Rolling Stones song and was buried on Side B of Sticky Fingers. I fucking hate the Rolling Stones and their version of this is not all that great. If there were ever a time someone really made a cover their own, it’s now. Like many of Van Zandt’s song, it’s a story of lament and sadness, self-deprecation and regret. Van Zandt is the pure epitome of a tortured artist and this song portrays that eerily well.

Danzig’s “Going Down To Die” (from 1994′s Danzig 4)
When I was in mortuary college, we had to give speeches one day, with the topic being related to death. I gave some rambling diatribe about death being the penultimate experience of life–it’s the one thing we will all get right one day. Death equals perfection. Everybody already thought I was weird; that sealed it. I ended my speech by reading the lyrics of this song to the class of 90, which was met with blank stares and uncomfortable silence. This is not only my absolute favorite song from 4p (such an unheralded, underrated album), but probably top three Danzig songs. Glenn’s voice is absolutely untouchable (“I’m sayin’ goodbye…” at 2:05 is fucking panty-wetting) and the sullen, ’50s vibe in the main riff is as cold as the band ever sounded. If Danzig ever wrote their homage to a ’50s teenage tragedy song, this is it. I’ve repeatedly told my wife that I want this song played at my funeral–I want to bum everybody out the best I can.

Loss’s “Open Veins To A Curtain Closed” (from 2011′s Despond)
If any band were to be the embodiment of the term “funeral doom”, it’s Loss. They happen to be good friends of mine (vocalist/guitarist Mike Meacham and I also play together in the occult black metal doom outfit Rituaal), but beyond that, this song and album are just gloom incarnate. But whereas some bands of this ilk just drown you in sadness and depression, Loss creates a myriad of emotions with their guitar work, notably the long clean sections employed throughout the middle of “Open Veins…” The coda then almost plays out as a triumphant crescendo as the lyrics tell the story of a life ended and a pain released. Much like the weight of depression can be suffocating to those who suffer it, this song weighs heavy, but as the deed is done and the song moves on, it becomes a burden lifted.

George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (from 1980′s I Am What I Am)
It’s undeniable that this is one of the most iconic love songs ever written, but at its root, it’s a death song. It’s a song about a love ended upon death. The line “All dressed up to go away, first time I’d seen him smile in years” is a reference to the corpse and hits me right in the feels as a funeral director. There’s several little backwards references to the “he” of the song being dead and it’s so morbidly appealing. It’s such a blunt way to illuminate and posture death and ironic it’s done in such a beautiful way. The chorus of this song was my ringtone for years and everyone at the funeral home always got a kick out of it when it rang at inappropriate times. We’ve played this at a few funerals too and I always get a morbid satisfaction out of it, like they’re in on the joke.

*Order a copy of Encoffination’s III – Hear Me, O’ Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs) here

**For past Decibrity entries, click here

Streaming: New Decimation track

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Decimation band photo 2014

If you are a regular Deciblog reader you’re probably wondering why we didn’t call out the new Decimation track name in the headline. Well, let’s just say it’s a bit of a tongue twister: “Devilish Domain Vortex in the Gloom of Wicked Ziggura.” Wait, what? That’s a verbal flourish that would make Willy Wonka proud. We’ll refer to it henceforth as “the new song.”

Decimation is holding down the fort for technical death metal in Turkey. The song — and boy is it faster than fuck with more than a touch of Suffocation — is from their new album Reign Of Ungodly Creation, the follow to the 2010 release Anthems of an Empyreal Dominion. Decimation has been playing for 15 years; for this release they enlisted legendary metal artist Dan Seagrave to design a 16-page booklet. The album was mixed and mastered by Sasha Borovykh at TsunTsun Productions.

You can touch base with Decimation on Facebook and preorder the album from Comatose.

Sucker For Punishment: A Septuagenarian Stew

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

budos

Metal scenesters have always had a problem with artists that “dabble” in metal. In a way, that’s easy to understand: heavy metal is an all-or-nothing style of music, one whose audience embraces as not only as a diversion but a lifestyle, and they fully expect the same kind of dedication to the music, art, and aesthetic from the musicians. Authenticity and sincerity are key to fans, and when an artist from outside the genre experiments with heavier sounds, the persistently paranoid rabble out there can detect cynicism and condescension from miles away. Never mind the fact that just as much cynicism and contrivance exists within the metal genre as any other form of popular music, but try telling a metal purist that and they’ll respond like a child yelling with its hands over its ears. “LA LA LA, I CAN’T HEAR YOU…

This week is particularly interesting, because contrary to what those who defend metal’s “authenticity” are willing to believe, the two most important new albums are by artists trying their hand at heavy metal-derived music for the first time, in very different ways. Staten Island’s The Budos Band, a mainstay on the outstanding Daptone Records label, has for years excelled at creating an eclectic sound that incorporates everything from deep funk to Afrobeat, but the crew raised more than a few eyebrows when it announced its first new album in four years would be heavily inspired by Black Sabbath and Pentagram, right down to the decidedly metal cover art of a sorcerer (detail pictured above).

Recorded with more focus on guitar and psychedelic effects, but never detracting from the core horn-driven sound of the band, Burnt Offering (Daptone) is sensational in the way it creates a wholly unique environment from the very start. An obvious comparison would be Swedish collective Goat, but unlike that band’s heavily stylized – and stylish – psychedelia, The Budos Band heads into much darker territory thanks to its wicked funk grooves, ominous African rhythms and melodies, free jazz solos, and at the root of it all, that imposing doom sound. It sounds exotic and vintage, but there’s always a modern sensibility afoot, the band taking its already progressive sound into daring, murky territory, embracing a style of music most in the jazz/funk scene either look down upon or completely ignore.

Even more exciting than The Budos Band going all Pentagram on its audience was the announcement that mercurial, enigmatic septuagenarian innovator Scott Walker had teamed up with drone duo Sunn O))) on his latest album. Funnily enough, the idea of a Scott Walker/Sunn O))) collaboration hardly felt like a shock; in fact, it seemed like the most natural of fits. After all, Walker’s last three albums – 1995’s Tilt, 2006’s The Drift, 2012’s Bish Bosch – rank among the most unorthodox pieces of music recorded in the last 20 years, in which the man shedded his pop music past completely, in the process becoming an avant-garde auteur of the highest level. The duo of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, meanwhile, have stripped the sound of doom metal to its skeletal core over the years, to the point where they’ve completely reinvented heavy music in their own minimalist way. So by that rationale, this marriage between these manic deconstructionists feels like a weirdly perfect match, and that’s indeed the case on the daring, revelatory Soused (4AD).

Walker is no stranger to truly heavy music – The Drift remains one of the most intense, harrowing albums this writer has ever heard – but Soused sees him exploring the sounds of distorted heavy metal guitar for the first time, and what makes the entire exercise work is that this is first and foremost a Scott Walker album, with Sunn O))) playing a strictly complimentary, supporting role. That’s crucial, because with the sheer volume of O’Malley’s and Anderson’s past work, it could have completely overwhelmed Walker’s compositions. However, the guitarists smartly hold back. Aside from the gleefully garish opening strains of “Brando”, which cheekily reference Guns ‘N’ Roses of all things, Sunn O))) allow themselves to be conducted by Walker and manipulated in such a way that those monstrous riffs, as on the foreboding “Herod” accentuate the song rather than dominate.

At the end of the day, Soused is less about the presence of Sunn O))) – crucial as it is – and more about the compositions by Walker, which just like his masterful late-career trilogy, throw pop music on its ear, subverting it, perverting it, resulting in a strange, enthralling, abstract, absurd piece of modern art laced with gripping poetry and wry humor, delivered by that distinct voice of Walker’s, which is not far removed from his singing style from 50 years ago, but couldn’ be farther from “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”. If there’s one thing that’s missed, it’s the sheer eclectic quality of Bish Bosch, as its wild, varied instrumentation helped make it so unique, but even though Walker and Sunn O))) take a simpler route on Soused, Walker’s longtime collaborator Peter walsh manipulates it all just enough to keep things from becoming too muddled in those metallic guitars. It’s a dream result from a dream collaboration, a very rare case where a meeting of highly creative minds yields extraordinary, extraordinary results. Sorry, 20-something “extreme” metal bands, this 71 year-old is more metal than you.

Also out this week:

Atomikylä, Erkale (Future Lunch): It might not be on par with Oranssi pazuzu’s masterful Velonielu last year, but this cryptic Finnish band follows that same example and does a great job in its own right. Heavily influenced by both black metal, krautrock, and psychedelic/space rock, the band creates extended jams that combine darkness and color to often brilliant effect, relying heavily on steady, hypnotic rhythms, repetition, and improvisation on top of it all. This is a band to watch, one the Roadburn crowd will immediately gravitate towards, and rightfully so.

Bulletbelt, Rise of the Banshee (self-released): If you’ve got a hankering for simple, no-frills blackened thrash metal, look no further than this New Zealand band. Cut from the same cloth as Skeletonwitch, this second album is all about brisk, tremolo-picked riffs juxtaposed with double-time tempos and blasting, led by the ferocious shriek of vocalist Jolene Tempest. Songs like “Numbered Tomb” and “Death Tinted Red” prove to be immensely satisfying, highlighting a very fun album that deserves a wider audience than what the band has on the other side of the world. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Alice Cooper, Raise The Dead: Live From Wacken (UDR): Is this DVD release of Alice Cooper’s 2013 Wacken performance necessary? Of course it isn’t. Is it fun? Hell, yes. It’s a great little memento from his fantastic Raise the Dead tour, which featured Orianthi, his best lead guitarist in decades. A great little purchase for fans.

Amaranthe, Massive Addictive (Spinefarm): This Swedish band’s approach to power metal is so loopy and over the top, I can’t see why you can’t refer to this music as “extreme” as well. Pop-oriented hooks are pushed way, way up to the forefront, Elize Ryd’s vocal melodies steering listeners’ attention away from some painfully rote, Lacuna Coil-derived arrangements. For some reason this band feels it’s necessary to employ two more male vocalists – one who doesn’t sing very well, one who just growls uselessly – but as long as Ryd dominates the music, which she does, this album works just well enough to qualify as a mildly guilty pleasure. In this record’s case, the more upbeat the music (see “Digital World”), the better off it is.

The Body / Sandworm, Split (Thrill Jockey): Chip King and Lee Buford, AKA The Body, are back with yet another new release, this time a split release with fellow Rhode Islanders Sandworm. The Body’s lone track, the 16-minute “The Manic Fire”, is very much as the title implies, a haphazard mess of abstract noise with a little doom thrown in. A decent mood piece, but far from their best work, paling in comparison to the album made with The Haxan Cloak earlier this year. As for Sandworm’s 11 tracks – 11?! – it’s a scattershot collection of half-formed ideas comprised of raw guitar and simple drumming. Kind of like a black metal Black Keys, I suppose. It’s an intriguing idea, and surprisingly the best thing about this release.

Couch Slut, My Life as a Woman (Handshake): It’d be easy to roll your eyes at every hotly-tipped underground band that comes out of Brooklyn if the quality of the music wasn’t so consistently damn good practically every time. Couch Slut is particularly interesting, too, in how the band channels the atonal, grating noise rock sounds of the 1990s (think Jesus Lizard and Harvey Milk), adds a ferocious female perspective reminiscent of the riot grrrl movement, and tosses in subtle touches of doom and black metal to modernize the whole sound. The intensity is palpable, the songs are tremendously engaging, and Megan Osztrosits is a riveting frontwoman. Here’s hoping this superb, provocative debut is just the beginning. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Deep Purple, Live In Verona (Eagle Rock): Recorded in 2011, the mighty Deep Purple play a lively set of classics in Verona, Italy’s gorgeous Roman amphitheater, bolstered by a full orchestra. Granted, this is neither as adventurous as the band’s past orchestral collaborations, nor is the music as intense and jam-filled as it was 30 or 40 years ago, but the old guys still sound great, the tunes are spirited, the orchestra never becomes a distraction, and it’s beautifully shot, to boot. This is well worth checking out, a real pleasure.

Nuclear Perversion, Desolation Rituals (Iron Bonehead): Crusty black metal? Cartoonish vocal histrionics? Hilarious intro track that’s longer than any of the songs? A track called “Fistfuckchrist”? A cassette-only release because that somehow makes it seem all the more “underground”? Check, check, check, check, and check.

Oozing Wound, Earth Suck (Thrill Jockey): A year after releasing the raucous Retrash, the Chicago trio is back with a similarly energetic and fun follow-up that feels like a manic combination of thrash, Melvins, and most of all, High on Fire. Because it’s delivered with sly humor some might mistakenly question the band’s authenticity, but this is some very strong, robust, thrashy sludge that’ll slap a big, dumb grin across your face.

Slipknot, .5: The Gray Chapter (Roadrunner): When your music and image completely revolves around a gimmick revolving around clown masks, banging on garbage cans, and tapping into white adolescent suburban rage, it can obviously be a challenge to sound convincing doing it in your 40s. Six years ago Slipknot sounded well past its prime on the mediocre, fittingly titled All Hope is Gone, a sloppy album crammed with faux-anger and power ballads, and despite being plenty capable of putting on an intense live show, the idea of Slipknot being relevant in the metal world felt like ancient history. But it’s funny what a little adversity can do to a stagnant band. Bassist Paul Gray died tragically young, while the band endured a very ugly split with overrated drummer Joey Jordison, and the surviving members managed to channel all that angst into their new music, and the end result is Slipknot’s most focused, dynamic, and vitriolic piece of work since Iowa. “Lech”, “Sarcastrophe”, and “The Negative One” bridge nu-metal and extremity as well as fans can hope for, but the real revelation is “The Devil in I”, a brilliant single that brings new ideas to the band’s arsenal, allowing singer Corey Taylor to showcase his impressive – and underrated – vocal range. As is always the case with a popular American band, things run a little long, but overall this is a welcome return to form by one of the biggest mainstream bands in the genre.

Woccon, Solace in Decay (Deathbound): This debut full-length by the Athens, Georgia band is a revelation, cut from the same cloth as Katatonia, Swallow the Sun, and Daylight Dies, but already confident enough to create a personality all its own. It’s rare to come across an album by a new band that sounds this assured, and Woccon makes one hell of a statement on this one. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Not metal, but totally worth hearing:

Jessie Ware, Tough Love (Island): The London R&B singer made an unforgettable first impression on 2012’s nocturnal, brooding debut Devotion, and now that she’s on the cusp of stardom, Jessie Ware pulls out all the stops on the follow-up with admirable success. A much wider range of styles is covered this time around, ranging from dreamy adult contemporary (You & I (Forever)”), to trendy modern dance (Dev Hynes’ “Want Your Feeling”), to bland vanilla pop (Ed Sheeran’s “Say You love Me”), and the sole reason this all works is thanks to Ware, who gracefully adapts to each sound, maintaining an even emotional keel throughout, sounding seductive and soulful, especially on the slow-burning highlight “Kind Of…Sometimes…Maybe”. The much more focused Devotion is the superior album, but Ware still weaves an intoxicating spell on Tough Love.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy 

STREAMING: Decaying’s “One to Conquer”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

PromoImage

Look at those dudes, hanging out in the forest. Pretty old-school. So’s their music. Some Entombed, some Paradise Lost, and a whole lot of death metal, Decaying bring the pain like they used to in the Clinton era, Finland style. We have the entirety of their new album, One to Conquer, to help darken up your workday. MOSH.

***One to Conquer comes out November 4 on Hellthrasher. You can preorder it here.