STREAMING: VEX “Memorious”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, February 4th, 2013

VEX

A lot of people were digging Vex’s 2010 debut album, Thanatopsis but even though there was a buzz in the underground surrounding the Texan’s weird genre-splicing take on death metal Memorious still has the capacity to surprise.

Looking at the bare facts is misleading; Horror Pain Gore Death Productions are writing the checks, Vex are being marketed as death metal, all right (even if Memorious’ gray-on-gray cover art is stoically giving little away), so surely there will be riffs that could strip the flesh from your limbs, the typical woo-aaargh(!) baby-eating fare you’d kinda expect from a death metal band. Not really. Right from the get-go Vex throw a curve-ball with the opening chords of “Terra Soar” sounding more Rush than Gorguts— hell, “Terra Soar” is the sort of track title that could even find itself on a Rush album. Even when the track settles into a mid-paced DM sound, it’s clear that Vex pay homage to bands like Enslaved, Primordial and Dissection more so than any of the straight-up blast-beat physicality of death metal’s classic canon.

Vex are progressive and melodic, dynamic too, and maybe this is just Monday afternoon’s torpor warping our doors of perception but they have a Nordic groove to them that’s sure to resonate with all you blue-collar Vikings out there who like nothing more to wrap a koozie ‘round a genuine drinking horn at the weekend. Memorious doesn’t adhere to genre conventions—just when you think you’ve got it worked out there is the super-melodic “Those Days Are Gone”, clean vocals and all, riffs executed without any palm-muting. Heretics! Oh, don’t worry, it’s all tastefully done; Memorious is kinda 40% blackened, 50% technically death metal and 10% “other”, and courtesy of Horror Pain Gore Death, here it is in full:

Vex – “Memorious” on Mixcloud

**Memorious is released on 5th February on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions—order it here

Exclusive New CATHEDRAL Flexi Disc Now Available!

By: mr ed Posted in: featured, flexi disc On: Monday, February 4th, 2013

disc-scan-issue101-circle

Coventry’s mighty Cathedral are retiring in style this spring, following the release of swansong The Last Spire. And your friends at Decibel have the first new music from Lee Dorrian’s doom institution in nearly three years, debuting via our Flexi Series!

It’s unclear if “Vengeance of the Blind Dead” is a nod to the cult Amando de Ossorio film series we’ve profiled in the magazine, but we can tell you that the song–which will not appear on The Last Spire—is the recording debut of none other than Repulsion veteran Scott Carlson on bass. “Vengeance of the Blind Dead” is served cold, metallic gold on black. Jam it here and then order an extremely limited copy here.

STREAMING: Incendiary “Primitive Rage”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, February 4th, 2013

incendiary_hardcore_decibel_2013

Everything is cyclical. Especially in music. Go far enough in the future and Crabcore will be the next wave of cool and innovative (god, let’s hope not). For hardcore, it hasn’t been an easy decade since its popular upswing in the mid to late ’90s and eventual zenith in the early ’00s, but that’s about the change with the imminent release of Incendiary’s upcoming long-player, Cost of Living.

Informed by old-school floor warriors Strife and Snapcase but not subservient to either, Incendiary is primed to bring back metallic hardcore without the pretensions of hardcore’s inevitable forward march into metalcore. This is hardcore metallic. That the Long Islanders do it with North East Corridor conviction shouldn’t surprise anyone.

So says Incendiary: “‘Primitive Rage’ is a song off our upcoming full-length entitled Cost of Living. Lyrically, the song addresses the constant struggle to balance creativity and independence with the realities of modern life. The song also touches on another theme present on Cost of Living: the substitution of our real life emotions, fears, and desires for a safe, disconnected existence online. This is our first full-length record since 2009′s Crusade and we are thrilled to be releasing it on Closed Casket Activities.”

** Incendiary’s new album, Cost of Living, is out 3/19/13 on Closed Casket Activities. Pre-order available shortly, or you can find yourself at 4% raise and hope your boss goes for it. Right?

Tales From the Metalnomicon: Satan Gave Us the Go-Gos

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, stupid crap On: Friday, February 1st, 2013

time-enough-at-last1

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

The general outline of the rock bio is by now well established — young, innocent spitfire achieves dream against all odds only to find fame, riches, and rock n’ roll excess does not quench the deep thirst for someone to love them for who the truly are, which, in turn, at last allows them to love themselves.

The introduction to Belinda Carlisle’s 2010 autobiography Lips Unsealed appears to set readers up for a similar trajectory, recounting the travails of her life at age twelve –”My stepdad had a drinking problem, my mom was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and I was teased as being fat and stupid…I hated my life and wanted something better” — before delivering an exquisite sucker punch to the metaphorical solar plexus with her explanation of how she broke free:

I came home one day from a friend’s house holding a book that seemed like it might help me change my life. I hid it under my sweatshirt and went straight to my bedroom. I felt a tingle of excitement as U slipped it out and looked at the cover: The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. I read bits and pieces, and although I understood very little of the author’s rant against Christianity, I focused on terms like “exorcism,” “evil,” and “black magic,: thinking I could find out how to cast spells and take control of my life.

This wasn’t the first book I’d read on the subject, but it got me in the mood to finally try to cast a spell. I slid a box out from under my bed and removed the contents I had assembled earlier: brewed tea leaves, oak twigs, string, and a candle. I arranged them in front of me as I’d seen in a different book. I chanted some words and called on the invisible powers of the universe to give me life the excitement I felt it lacked and everything else I wanted.

imgres

Did the spell work? All signs point to an emphatic Yes. While still in high school Carlisle enjoys pizza with Keith Moon and a hooker, fields and shuts down an advance from Bonn Scott, meets Pat Smear and Darby Crash while staking out Freddy Mercury’s hotel room, drums for an early incarnation of the Germs as Dottie Danger, co-founds The Go-Go’s, becomes rich and famous, records a couple solo albums, becomes even more rich and famous, and, finally, writes an autobiography wherein on the very first page she gives a plausible explanation for why her career might be credited to Old Splitfoot!

That’s pretty goddamn metal!

Alas, by the end of the book Carlisle is in India where Buddhism turns the “little girl who cast a spell that created the rest of her life” into “a woman who realized the real magic had been there the whole time.” Worse, she praises Metallica’s decision to hire a therapist in the Some Kind of Monster days, as if the twelve year-old version of herself would have gotten anywhere listening to Phil Towle instead of LaVey!

Anyway, nice save, Belinda. But like any other thirtysomething banger raised on backmasked records, we have received the message loud and clear…Hail Satan! 

And now without further ado, a selection of metal covers of Carlisle hits…

“Circle in the Sand” — original, cover.

“Heaven is a Place on Earth” — original, cover.

“You’re Nothing Without Me” — original, cover.

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Brazil’s Bode Preto

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, February 1st, 2013

bode_preto1_decibel_photo_erick_miranda

Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because this post was up last week for about a minute, but you didn’t see it, so here it is again.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

Bode_Preto2_photo_Erick_Miranda_1

Brazilian death metal is not, you know, without precedent.  Teresina pair Bode Preto come from a powerful lineage of hulking death-dealing countrymen.  The style won’t make you question any long-cherished musical beliefs, but debut full-length Inverted Blood, unleashed on unsuspecting (or, I suppose, very suspecting, since you’d have to know to link to it or search for it) world through Bode Preto’s Bandcamp site this past November, offers 25 minutes of cruel guitar blasphemies, ruling rhythms and battering riffs.  This is the kind of stuff that the Maryland Deathfest crowd goes batshit for.  Check out the title track from the record right here while you check out what the band had to say for itself.

Bode Preto is a duo?  That’s a lot of noise for two people to make.  How did you guys start working together?

Josh: Yes, now we are a duo. I play the guitar and vocals with Adelson Souza on the drums, we had few rehearsals as a duo before recording and it sounded very good to my ear, for the shows we will have a solo guitarist and a bassist as guests. We had Fábio Jhasko (formely Sarcófago) as a special guest doing solos on 3 songs and I recorded some layers of guitars that will sound better live with two guitars. I’m talking to a true shredder that is totally into our music to be that guitarist. I started to work with Adelson as a guest, he is someone I know from The Endoparasites since the beginning of the 90′s, but he got so much involved with the music and the band that one day he said “I’m an official member of Bode Preto”, and it is true.

Adelson: Listening to the songs Josh sent to me by email, the sound didn’t have yet the exact format of what was recorded. But there was something we knew could be better explored together. The confinement in Teresina far from my home in Rio de Janeiro catalyzed the concentration especially for what we intended to do. Nobody has ever travelled 3000 kilometers to record an underground band in Brazil.

Does Bode Preto’s music share common ground with what you played in your pre-Bode bands?

Josh: Yes, for me it’s a development of what I’ve been searching since I was 14 years old – I will be 35 next February – with the adding of the chaotic and powerful drums of Adelson. Bode Preto is the perfect band for me to express my true nature.

What was the band or album that most influenced you to start playing heavy music?

Josh: When I was 8 years old the music of The Beatles caught me like a hook in my ears, it was the first time I would enjoy music. After that I started to go after rock ‘n’ roll music as someone that found gold and knows that there’s more, listening obsessively to Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and the Brazilian star Raul Seixas. But when I got a Black Sabbath tape on my hands it was the gold mine revealed. I was 12 then, after that I kept on digging deeper and deeper…

Adelson: For me it was the Possessed “Seven Churches”, Accept “Restless And Wild”, Celtic Frost “Morbid Tales, Death “Leprosy”. Many heroes on the drums for me.

What are your current influences and musical loves?

Josh: I keep all those artists I mentioned before as musical loves. For Bode Preto we have influences of bands like Agathocles, Beherit, Mystifier, Sarcófago, Bathory, Hellhouse, Impaled Nazarene, old Morbid Angel, Deicide, Impurity (Brazil), Maniac Butcher…

Adelson: My heroes that always influenced me: Mike Sus, Dave Lombardo, Ken Owen, Reed St Mark, Pete Sandoval, Nicke Anderson, DD Crazy, Stefan Kaufmann, Bill Andrews, Curtis Beeson, Away, Gus Pynn, Tom Hunting, Mick Harris…

Who picked out the cover art for your releases?  What drew you to those images?

Josh: The album is one piece but it has different parts – the music, the sounds, the artwork, in the same way that a tree has leaves, flowers and fruits. They have different colors, shapes and aspects, but they have the same essence which is fluid and spontaneous. I have chosen those images in that way of spontaneous creation that comes from the attention I gave to that. By synchronicity they are details from different works of the same person, the nineteenth century French artist Gustave Doré. They connect very much with our music and lyrics, helping to create those worlds.

What has your stage experience been like?

Josh: We were doing concerts as a trio before the previous drummer and bassist quit, [and] right now as I said we are recruiting two guest members to complete the quartet live and working for a Brazilian tour that will start in April.

If you could tour with any group of bands, what would your dream tour be?

Josh: Well if it’s a dream for sure Black Sabbath for their next album tour, and Bill Ward would be with them, hahaha! Bode Preto and Black Sabbath on tour, hahahaa! Plus Metallica with Cliff Burton also on the bill. But being more realistic, in [the] USA would be great to tour with Disgorge (I love that band and I know the guys since 1999 when we toured together in Brazil), Von Goat or Black Witchery also would be total detonation. Impurity, No Sense or Mystifier in Brazil and Carcass, Amebix or Beherit (if they were playing live) in Europe.

Adelson: Possessed, Morbid Angel, Venom…

Do you have any favorite moments or songs on Inverted Blood?

Adelson: “Children Of Suicide” and “Elytron”.

Josh: The break and what comes after that on “Serpent Inferior”, the very end of “Children of Suicide”, “Anunciação” and “Elytron (Succubus)” as a listener. “Mother of Ferocity” and “Black Mirror” as a player.

What are your plans for Bode Preto in the near future?  What about long term plans?

Adelson: Consolidate a strong line up to do the gigs.

Josh: We have “Elytron (Succubus)” on the Fear Candy CD of February issue of Terrorizer magazine, we are answering some interviews and working with Speed Freak Agency in Brazil to make the tour I mentioned before. We had our music on the Necrosexual show which I think is cool. This year I have some personal business to take care in Europe (Holland) on the second semester, perhaps it can facilitate a tour over there. Long term plans [are] to keep on doing albums, keeping it heavy and saying what for me is worth [talking] about. I say “long term plans” because you use that but as we know we can die anytime. Thank you very much for the interest on Bode Preto, for me it’s always an honor when people want to talk about and listen to our stuff.

Interview with Cloud Rat

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews, videos On: Thursday, January 31st, 2013

deciblog - Cloud Rat logo

Mount Pleasant, Michigan’s Cloud Rat play grind and they play it really well. They have a new album in the holster and on the ready entitled Moksha, courtesy the fine folks at Halo of Flies. What follows is an interview with guitarist Rorik Brooks and some vids and crap I lifted from their website. Check ‘em out, they rule.

For those not in the know, can you give the history of Cloud Rat?
We formed in December 2009. Adrian plays drums, Madison does vocals, and I (Rorik) play guitar. Adrian and I had played in bands together in the past and, at the time, he and Madison were living together. There was a show at their house and during a set I could hear Madison screaming with no mic over the noise and crowd from across the room. After that, I approached them about starting a grindcore band as I had the grind itch after being in a straight-up hardcore band for a few years. At the first practice we wrote four songs that would eventually end up on our first LP. Since then we have just been working our asses off writing, recording, touring, and sometimes losing our minds doing this.

Second softball question: what about your no bass player decision? Is adding a four-stringer something you’d ever entertain?
We have talked about it in the past, but now I’m pretty sure we are a full cohesive unit without a bass player. We get along well, we write/record together relatively quick and stress-free, it’s easier to organize schedules, especially since we live 2 1/2 hours apart, and in a live setting I think we can pull it off. I run through 2-3 amps/cabs with a bass rig and octave pedal, etc.

What were the initial intentions and goals in forming this band? How have they changed a few years into the game?
We initially were just trying to play some shows, maybe tour a little bit here and there, do a couple records that hopefully would resonate with a few people. Now, after seven vinyl releases, multiple US tours, Canadian and soon European tours, I guess I don’t really feel like a lot has changed. We still want to be DIY/DIT, we still want to write and record good records. Ideally, we would like to have a positive impact, i.e. maybe get some people talking more about social/political issues, and hopefully be an inspiration for some people. But we are first and foremost a punk band, and have no delusions of grandeur.

On metal-archives.com, it says that your lyrical themes are “women’s rights, vegan, self-empowerment.” Yes? No? Maybe so? How so and why?
Our lyrics cover a lot of topics, including those mentioned. Animal cruelty/veganism, patriarchy, globalization/colonialism/industrialization, rape/molestation, domestic abuse/neglect, police brutality, depression, existential issues, feminism, LGBTQ/gender issues, drug abuse, religion, and more. Most of Madison’s lyrics are pretty personal and poetic while also addressing these issues. The three of us care about these things, and I feel like they are all personal issues that affect everyone, whether they know it or not. The more personal songs about abuse, drugs, depression, and the like are all things that the three of us have experienced and come out of, so that’s where the self-empowerment comes in. Note: I don’t know who put the metal-archives thing up.

How has your hometown impacted what you do, play and sing about?
It’s probably more of an influence on us than we know. Small, mostly conservative college / farm town in the middle of Michigan, not a lot to do growing up. Abusive upbringings, drugs followed at a young age for all of us. A lot of our friends have either ended up in jail/prison, dead, in comas or their lives destroyed. I live near multiple CAFOs, and I work in construction, so I see and hear a lot of fucked up things around me. This band is definitely a cathartic outlet for all of that. Also, since there wasn’t a very big punk/metal scene around here, our music influences/tastes were probably shaped a bit differently than someone who grew up surrounded by it in a bigger city. But I don’t know, that could be bullshit. Haha.

You’ve had a good number of releases out in a relatively short period of time. Is this release frequency by design or have you found the floodgates opening in your direction and favour after the first album?
I think it was a combination of things. First, our S/T LP had a lot of positive response. Second, we have gone through some really productive writing sessions. And then, at the same time, our friends’ bands have all been doing rad stuff, so it was only logical to do all of these splits and comps and what not. Now, after Moksha, we are probably going to be slowing down release-wise. We will continue to write and record whenever it feels right, but we want to try and keep the quality of our material top-notch. No records just for the sake of records, you know?

What was the writing process like for the new album? How long did it take and was there anything you were consciously trying to do different or improve upon in comparison to other recordings?
Generally, the way we write is that I will have a batch of riffs. I bring them to practice with Adrian, then he and I will put some songs together. Madison lives 2-1/2 hours away in Detroit, so it’s hard for the three of us to get together. For this album, we wrote and recorded a giant batch of material, which all made up the split LP with Republic of Dreams, the Monomaniac compilation track, Moksha, and the upcoming split 7″ with Orgullo Primitivo, plus three more tracks that may or may not see the light of day. Overall, probably about a year of writing for 26 songs. It took us two days to record the drums and guitars in February 2012, then over the course of the year Madison would add vocals when the records were coming up, and I would tweak guitars here and there. We pretty much write whatever we feel like. I think the only conscious decision is to do our best not to repeat ourselves, and to construct albums that flow well out of all that material.

deciblog - Cloud rat-Cover-300x300

With the album’s completion and the benefit of hindsight, how would you say Moksha differs from the rest of your discography?
I think it is the best-sounding of our material so far, and I also think it is our best put-together album. I’m really satisfied with the general flow of the album, and I think that even though some of the material is way different than anything we’ve done yet, it all still fits somehow. It’s faster and heavier than ever for a lot of the record, it’s slower and more mellow at points, it’s more melodic at times, it’s uglier than ever at times.

Something that stands out for me in listening to the new album is how much exists in Cloud Rat’s riffs. Despite the single guitar, I hear a lot of melodic overtones and layers. Am I hearing things? Or am I missing the double tracking? Is the existence of these melodic washes a series of “happy accidents”?
I’d say happy accidents. Haha. I do two guitar tracks, but we try to stay as true to our live sound as possible. I don’t do any big overdubs or anything. The only stuff I go back and tweak are little things like feedback, maybe a couple volume swells and pickslides. I’ve had people tell me multiple times after a live show that they could have sworn another guitar or even a bass player was playing, but it’s just one guitar. The wonders of an AB/Y switch and a polyphonic octave pedal. Couldn’t do it without those. Also, the person that we have done all of our recording with, Kevin Kitchel, is a master at recording and mixing. He knows how to make shit sound good, and he is a blast to hang out and record with.

What does the title Moksha refer to? What is the significance to you as an album title?
Moksha refers to the concept of the final liberation and extrication of our souls from reincarnation in Hinduism and other Eastern religions. To us, it is a really cool concept, as well as hinting at other forms of liberation. Animal/Earth/Humyn liberation, etc. On the same coin, I think it’s a bit of a dark concept, since in this sense, the final liberation is technically only through a “death” of sorts. Freedom via nonexistence, or at least that’s how I view it.

Seeing as I know very little about you outside of the noise you make as a collective, how much of a priority is Cloud Rat for you at this point in your lives? How are you finding balancing the band and your lives?
I work a full-time job as a crane operator/welder/millwright and have a nine-year-old daughter. Madison is the manager of a coffee shop in Detroit and plays in a million bands. Adrian creates more music than anyone I know in multiple projects. Cloud Rat is a huge part of all our lives right now, with touring and recording and everything. For me personally, it is quite a challenge to balance everything, especially touring while having a growing child. Luckily we’ve been fortunate to have pretty supportive family and friends, so they ease the burden somewhat. After our upcoming European tour, we are taking a break from playing for a while, probably until at least late summer 2013. The hardest part of this band is, unfortunately, financially. I hate money, but to do this you either need to have money or be able to make some money doing it. Missing out on work while touring can really put a strain on bills and other aspects of your life. I wish we could play all free shows and give away merch and records, but it just doesn’t work that way. However, I think we are doing alright, and I foresee continuing to do it for a lot longer.

What’s next on the docket for Cloud Rat?
After Moksha, we have a split 7″ with Orgullo Primitivo from Texas hopefully coming out by late spring/early summer. We are touring Europe, March 4th – April 7th (see dates below). Then, we will take a break and regroup our lives. After that, probably doing some smaller US tours, a bit in Canada, some fests. Hopefully doing Australia and Mexico in 2014. We would eventually like to pretty much play everywhere, really. We are writing slowly, maybe will have material ready for mid-late 2014.

You can pre-order Moksha here:http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/label-releases/halo52-cloud-rat-moksha-lp/

CLOUD RAT EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
04.3 UK London @ the New Cross Inn w/ Lich, Jackals & Skylark
05.3 UK Norwich @ Take 5 (the Crypt) w/ Lich, Jackals
06.3 UK Nottingham @ Annie’s Burger Shack at the Navigation Inn w/ Lich, Moloch, Death Tripper
07.3 UK Edinburgh @ Banshee Labyrinth w/ Lich
08.3 UK Bradford @ Equal Fest!
09.3 UK Margate @ the Practice Rooms w/ Lich, Man Hands & Human Junk
10.3 FR Paris @ Le Cafe de Paris w/ Lich
11.3 FR Toulouse @ Le Pavillon Sauvage w/ Lich
12.3 SP Madrid @ Rock Palace w/ Lich
13.3 SP Barcelona w/ Lich
14.3 FR Hyeres @ Jolly Rogers w/ Lich
15.3 IT Milan w/ Lich
16.3 A Graz w/ Lich
17.3 A Vienna @ EKH w/ Lich & Deathseekers
18.3 CZ Prague @ Cafe Na Pul Cesty w/ Lich
19.3 D Erlangen @ Jugendhaus w/ Lich, Rvivr & Dogjaw
20.3 B Antwerp @ Music City w/ Lich & San Diablo
21.3 NL Nijmegen w/ Resurrectionists & Lich
22.3 D Münster @ Baracke w/ Resurrectionists, Lich & June Paik
23.3.D Hamburg tba w/ Resurrectionists
24.3. DK Valby @ Kraftwerket w/ Resurrectionists
25.3. Sweden w/ Resurrectionists
26.3. S Stockholm tbc w/ Resurrectionists
27.3. N Oslo @ Blitz tbc w/ Resurrectionists
28.3. S Gothenburg @ Härden w/ Resurrectionists
29.3. DK Aalborg @ 1000 Fryd w/ Resurrectionists
30.3. D Bremen @ Römer w/ Resurrectionists
31.3. D Mülheim @ AZ w/ Resurrectionists, Jungbluth
01.4. NL Groningen @ Vera Basement
02.4. D Berlin @ Tiefgrund
03.4. PL Warsaw w/ Republic of Dreams
04.4. PL Wroclaw / w/ Republic of Dreams
05.4. CZ Hradec Králové @ Hudební Klub#4 w/ Republic of Dreams
06.4. D Leipzig @ Plagwitz tbc
07.4. D Köln @ AZ

For more info and other goodies: cloudrat.blogspot.ca/

Live Review: Graveyard/The Shrine

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, live reviews On: Thursday, January 31st, 2013

graveyard

It’s only been a year since Graveyard last came to New York City, and coupled with last week’s sub-freezing temperatures and a second show in Brooklyn two nights later, I was curious to see just how many people would show up to Friday night’s performance. By the time I arrived at the Bowery Ballroom a little before 9pm, the downstairs bar was pretty crowded but upstairs where the bands perform was virtually empty.

01-elg

Yet openers The Shrine still ended up with a pretty decent crowd by the time they took the stage about 20 minutes later. It took me a song to realize it, but I’d actually seen the Venice, CA trio back in late 2011 when they opened for Fu Manchu. Needless to say, they’ve spent the intervening time really honing their craft. The band may not have the most engaging stage presence at this point in its nascent career, but each of its members more than make up for that with his instrumental prowess. It can’t hurt your sound either when you’re using the headliner’s plethora of Orange amps and gear. Frontman Josh Landau commented on the frigid weather conditions, and I can’t imagine it was easy for three dudes from California to deal with them, but he and his bandmates acquitted themselves well, particularly on “Deep River (Livin’ To Die)”, as they played tunes from last year’s excellent debut LP (#37 on our Top 40), Primitive Blast. While Landau is a bona fide shredder on guitar—I’d pay good money to see nothing but him and Isaiah Mitchell from Earthless trade solos for hours—the trio’s real driving force is drummer Jeff Murray. The skinsman may play one of the smaller kits I’ve ever seen (rivaled by Graveyard’s equally talented Axel Sjöberg), but he manages to make it sound as if he’s playing on something two or three times larger. Landau’s vocals still take a little getting used to for me, but hopefully these guys continue to make significant strides. We should find out soon enough as their sophomore album is due out this year.

Even though the show hadn’t sold out ahead of time, the place was packed by the time Graveyard hit the stage. Having first seen the quartet open for fellow countrymen Witchcraft (who didn’t draw nearly as well) at the very same venue way back in 2008, it became immediately clear that the Swedes have really built a name for themselves, at least in the Big Apple. The band kicked things off with “An Industry Of Murder”, the opener from its newest record Lights Out. It took the crowd a little while to get warmed up, but as the smell of weed became much more pervasive, everyone—including the band—seemed to loosen up. One highlight was seeing the following four audience members singing as loud as they could to “Uncomfortably Numb” from 2011’s Hisingen Blues: a father and son alongside a bald and heavily tattooed dude and his female companion. Speaking of which, the crowd was a melting pot, which wasn’t really surprising given the group’s crossover appeal.

While the band focused on more recent cuts, it was also generous in serving up tracks from its first two records, including “Evil Ways” and “As The Years Pass By, The Hours Bend” from their self-titled debut, my personal favorite of their three records. I’d love to see them extend a few more songs with some jamming, but overall Graveyard—between its look (it’s seriously like they walked out of a time machine from the ‘70s, though they’re all put to shame by their Joe Dirt doppelganger of a roadie), onstage presence (frontman Joakim Nilsson was quite talkative in between songs, even if he was often just introducing what they’d be playing) and stage show (smoke machines and lighting gear that were seamlessly implemented throughout the set)—really puts on a professional, enjoyable show. While I wouldn’t agree with the guy near me who proclaimed that what he just saw “must be what it was like to watch Bill Ward in the ‘70s”—I’m not really sure what that even means, even after witnessing a brief Sjöberg drum solo—it was hard not to come away impressed.

Despite the numerous camera phones deployed by the audience throughout the band’s set, shockingly no one has uploaded anything to YouTube yet, so check out some clips of the band’s set from 2011’s Bonnaroo below instead.

Strength Beyond Strength: The Jason Statts Story

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: diary, featured On: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

featured

As Decibel friend Brian Lew (aka Umlaut) says: the metal Gods work in mysterious ways. So there’s no need to tell you how we heard about Jason Statts, a Decibel reader and metal fan confined to a wheelchair after he was robbed and shot leaving his first ever gig about five years ago. The attack — which required an extensive hospitalization and spinal rehabilitation — still leaves him coping with pain that would incapacitate lesser people. Nontheless, Statts continues creating art (see below) with his pinky finger knuckle. His work will be featured on Nate Hall’s new record. Jason also blogs.

Statts agreed to share his story with Decibel. Please join Statts as he writes about his ordeals and how metal helped him stay together on the worst days of his life. He’s not just a survivor but a natural storyteller. –jmn

* * *

This is not a work of fiction. It is my real life. My every day. My “new” normal (a phrase I would come to despise while in recovery).

Recovery? Why? Were you an addict?

Good question. The answer is no. My story is a little more interesting.

Ever seen blood trickle from your best friend’s mouth and throat as he crawled on all fours screaming into a phone – screaming with only one vocal cord because the other was blown to bits by the bullet that first passed through your own neck – as you lay motionless? I have.

Wait. Back up a bit. You must’ve missed something.

Please, let me explain.

Music has always been a part of my life. My parents were both hippies, so there were always classic rock albums around the house. I grew up just south of the Tennessee border in a small town in Georgia. As I got older I started listening to heavy music. I can’t recall the year, but sometime in the ’80s I was introduced to Megadeth. My world changed. I never looked back. As the years passed I played in numerous bands. I played thrash, doom, noise, off-kilter cartoon music and more. Anything really. All I cared about was playing music.

Fast forward to the summer of 2008. I was in a band with two of my best friends, John Collenberger and David Williams. Our band was called sürt {the destroyer}. We played our first and only show on June 28, 2008. Just hours after we unplugged David and I were attacked. I’d never walk again; at least that’s what they say. Dave suffered injuries to his throat and is still down one vocal cord. Other than that he is great. For that I am thankful.

Two young men were convicted based on my testimony at trial. The shooter got life + 80 years, no parole. The other guy testified against the shooter. His sentence was much shorter.

* * *

I woke up in the hospital. I knew exactly where I was and exactly why I was there. I also knew I couldn’t move, not even my arms. I remember who did it, and I remember being pissed off — just a silent rage. I tried my best not to show it. People came to visit. All of them cried. My wife, my parents, family, friends. I’d smile as much as I could smile, tell those people that everything would be o.k. That I would be o.k. I was lying.

“Don’t cry for me, Argentina,” I said to my friend, Jen. She cried even more, sort of a laugh-cry.

Don’t do that anymore, I thought to myself.

The only thought of music at this point was the thought that I would never play it again. I was devastated.

Days passed, strings were pulled, favors called in, newspapers alerted. I was shipped to Atlanta to The Shepherd Center, a spinal cord injury specialization hospital and rehabilitation center. I was put in the ICU. Still no thoughts of music (aside from being angry I wouldn’t be able to play bass any longer). I was moved to a regular room and fitted for a chair. Still miserable; the pain was immense (still is). Days went by; I did my thing, got a bit stronger. Meanwhile, my workplace pitched in and sent me a new iPod containing my entire music library. Great gesture, but I wasn’t ready. Not just yet. I didn’t want to hear music, or even talk about it. I was afraid of hearing something that would take me back to when I was able to walk.

It took about a month for me to want to listen to music again. The first thing I put in my ears was Baroness’ Red Album. Hesitantly, I pressed play. From the first note I started crying. My wife at the time did as well; she watched for a moment and left me to it.

The tears were not from sadness, not entirely. I knew Baroness through the Savannah scene. The record had just come out and I was really proud of them and what they had accomplished. It made me very emotional. Soon the tears dried and a smile appeared. The riffs and harmonies are just great. It’s different from their earlier releases, in a good way. I was hooked on music, again. I relayed this story to John Baizley about a year or so after. He seemed genuinely touched. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.

Baroness broke through the dam I had constructed in my brain. After that I wanted to listen to music all the time. I sat in the dark (after everyone would leave) and listened to my iPod.

Saviours came next. I had almost worn out even the digital copy of Crucifire. The rawness and live feel of that record got to me. It reminded me of driving my vintage Toyota LandCruiser to work over the border in South Carolina, blasting “Rise to Pyramid Form” and “Circle of Servant’s Bodies.” I also played Into Abaddon quite a bit on these trips. I listened to both of these records a lot while in recovery. (Fast-forward a couple of years, and Death’s Procession would become my new favorite Saviours record. Tons of riffs, all of them pretty damn good.)

Two months passed in therapy. I’d moved in with friends who lived very close to The Shepherd Center. My wife and I would go to the center daily. I’m doing well, getting stronger. Listening to more and more music. My brain has an uncanny ability to group certain bands together. The criteria for being in said group is unclear. But it works for me. In this case I’m talking about Watain, Trap Them, and Early Graves.

Watain’s Sworn to the Dark is simply amazing from start to finish. “Legions of the Black Light” and “The Light That Burns the Sun” are two of my personal favorites. They do it the way they want to do it. Plus, they have a sense of humor. At least I hope they do.

I originally judged Trap Them’s Séance Prime by its cover and I’m glad I did. I like nice drawings of skulls. It worked out in my favor. So I knew what I was getting into when I bought Seizures in Barren Praise about four months after the attack. It’s so angry, but so good. Focused. Sloppy-neat. It was just what I needed. I was still dealing with heavy issues and that particular record served its purpose. The guitar tones are like razor blades.

Early Graves’ We:The Guillotine was released around the same time. It was another I bought based solely on the cover. Another hit, in my opinion. Very fast, but very articulate. It’s technical, but not flashy or cheesy. Just… good. Makh Daniels handled the vocals; he later died in a traffic accident in 2010. He was excellent. Even now, I listen to it once every month or so.

As I said, for some reason my brain groups those three bands together. They make a pretty good team. Try listening to all three records one day. It’ll be a good day.

I finally left therapy. My wife and I moved back to Savannah. I had a few reservations, but got over them quickly. Initially, I thought I might be scared, but I wasn’t. A long time had passed and I was ready to be back in my own town.

We’d do our thing, go about the day, eat lunch. I’d sit at night and crank up my iPod. Skeletonwitch was a band I’d seen in Savannah a few times. I owned a couple of records; Beyond the Permafrost was my favorite at the time. They seem to have a very good sense of humor, and you can tell they have a blast on stage. I identify most with them, I think.

I tire more easily now than I did before. When I need an energy boost I like to listen to a band called Children. Hard Times Hanging at the End of the World is a masterpiece, in my opinion. Tons of guitars. There are mountains of riffs spilling out all over the place. Their sound is like getting your brain rewired, or maybe more like getting random new wires thrown in. Again, there’s humor here. I think that is always part of what I like about a particular band or record. Songs like “Power Spirit” and “Time is the Living” keep me coming back to it a lot.

***
It’s been a couple of years, maybe a little more since the shooting. I’m even stronger, physically and mentally, but my personal life starts to crumble. My wife of 15 years and I decide to go our separate ways, a hard choice for the both of us. We weren’t out of love, but we were out of hope for our marriage. The incident devastated us, and the damage was deep. It changed our world completely. We hugged as she packed her last few items. She left. It killed me, but I knew it was for the best. (Still do. We remain close friends to this day, I’m happy to report).

The next thing I listened to was Motörhead. Every record.

Motörhead is, by far, the coolest band ever. If it’s been done, it’s probably been done by Lemmy. Plus, he plays a Ric bass. Beautiful tones, too. I’ve listened to them since I was a kid. They were probably one of the first bands I ever got into. They encapsulate everything that’s cool about rock ‘n roll and/or metal. Shit, music in general. I’m not going to list a single album or single song here. Basically all that is Motörhead is what I like about Motörhead. I can listen to any song they’ve ever done and be happy. That’s the feeling they give me. Complete happiness. I have a smile from ear to ear when I hear them. They’ve gotten me through quite a bit. Lemmy would be proud. The coolest therapist I can think of.

Last April, a group of my friends known as the “Friends of Statts” planned and played a block party in my honor (and for my benefit). One of the best bands I’ve ever known agreed to get together and headline the festival — Floor. When I found out I was blown away. And then they actually played. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling and the awe and the honor to have them playing for me. Every single good Floor song was played that night. It made me feel like I was made of gold. Hugs were delivered to Steve (Brooks) and we’re friends now, at least on Facebook. Framing of the ultimate set list will happen soon.

It’s been a few months since the benefit. I feel better than I have in a long time. I’m finally getting the hang of this thing. I try to stay positive. I write a blog. I feel that every little thing helps. I try to tell people what good they offer to the world, no matter what. Every single person on this earth is worth something to someone.

I’m doing well. Aside from agonizing pain 24/7 things are great. Seriously. I’m considered a quadriplegic, but have a nice range of movement in my arms. I can’t use my fingers, or make a fist, but I still use my hands. I’ll probably not walk again, but I’m o.k. with that. There are worse things. I will have ongoing medical costs. Who knows what the future holds?

I’ll keep being positive as long as I have Torche’s Harmonicraft in my life. It’s pretty spectacular. Perfect, almost. Music will always be a part of me. My being. It always has been, and I couldn’t see it any other way. It’s like air to me. I need it. And I’m glad there are bands out there nice enough to give it to me. Thank you all for that.

Bookmark and read Jason’s blog
Follow Jason on Twitter
Visit Jason on Facebook

Images of Jason Statts by Wayne C. Moore

STREAMING: Anciients “Raise the Sun”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

anciients_progressivemetal_decibel_2013

There’s a time when two Dicks are better than one. But we’re not talking about porn here. Or, some swinger party in Urals. No, sirs. When the universe conspires to bring Chris Dick (me) and Chris Dyck (Anciient guitarist/vocalist) together, it means something. What exactly? Let’s leave it up to the cast of Ancient Aliens to determine the cosmological significance, but one thing is certain: Extraterrestrials definitely didn’t have a part in the great D/i/y/ck convergence of January 2013. No, that would be the fine people over at Season of Mist and the awesome music of Canadian meta-genre outfit, Anciients. You read that right. Anciients with two “i”s.

Why should care about a group of fantastic musicians and songwriters from Hollywood North? The same reason you cared about four guys from Haugesund, Norway or four guys from Huddinge, Sweden or four guys from Atlanta, Georgia or five guys from the Bay Area. Anciients write great music. A patchwork of styles, sounds, and extremes—”apocalyptic riffs, classic hard rock influences and unforgettable vocal melodies,” so says Anciients website—Anciients could be likened to other bands of similar ambition, but let’s make the music do the talking not some daft comparison to bands awesome and ground-breaking.

anciients_heartofoak_decibel_2013

With that in mind, Anciients had the following to say about the premiere of “Raise the Sun” off the group’s upcoming Heart of Oak long-player: “‘Raise the Sun’ represents what we are all about as a band, musically and lyrically. It contains most if not all the elements that we look for in the kind of music we enjoy. It’s heavy but also melodic; this is how we like things to be. Our sound might be full of contrast and duality, but not for contrast’s sake; rather always for the sake of the song. Lyrically it’s about an Egyptian myth, the ‘Hymn To The Rising Sun’ and Chris’ visualization of said myth… It’s about walking the correct path and achieving a sort of awakening. ‘Raise the Sun’ is one of our favorites from the new record for sure.”

It’s time to jam “Raise the Sun”. Are you ready to rock with your Dyck out? Anciients are.

Decibrity Playlist: Misery Index

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, January 24th, 2013

DSC_0805

With the throes of winter usually comes a dearth of new releases. So after perusing the innumerable year-end lists, there’s no better time to catch up on all of the records you missed, not to mention your back catalog. If you’re in a band, it’s also a good time to put out something new given that you’ll have little to compete for attention against, which is exactly what Misery Index will do on February 19th with the limited edition Live In Munich LP. So for those of you choosing to spend the upcoming weeks in winter hibernation, MI’s Jason Netherton was kind enough to put together a playlist that, along with his band’s live album, should help you make it to Spring with your sanity intact. As the group’s bassist/vocalist explains:

The change of season can haunt the mind in peculiar ways. In winter, we are inside more often and for me that means more time around the stereo, combatting the darkness outside by feeding the record needle those essential tunes that set the mood for an overnight flight (supervised by a fine porter or stout—my preferred hibernation brews). That said, certain albums encapsulate winter without question, while some are subtle. Either way, in the dark days that we suffer awaiting the Spring defrost (and the inevitable Maryland Deathfest road trip), I like to crawl through with a mix of slumber and frostbitten emptiness, while going to the back of the rack in order to pull out the bleak tunes that recall those snowbound blizzards from yesteryear…

You can listen along to Jason’s picks here and check out some live Misery Index footage from 2011 below.

Dissection’s “Frozen” (from 1993′s The Somberlain)
This song just bleeds winter (much like all of their first two albums), dropping you smack in the middle of a raging blizzard, racing through the forest, being chased by Nazgûl, with the taste of bleeding, chapped lips and insurmountable fear being the last thing you remember…

Gordon Lightfoot’s “Circle Of Steel” (from 1974′s Sundown)
The first album I remember hearing as a kid. My parents played it incessantly. The dark lyrics that describe a forgotten family’s poverty and suffering during Xmas really sent a dissonant message to my seven year old brain. Joy to the world? Nope.

Agalloch’s “Birch White” (from 2008′s The White EP)
You could really say this entire EP is winter-ready, as far as the mood it sets, which is very tied to the seasons. You hear samples from The Wicker Man throughout and paganistic atmosphere just drips from this recording, really immersing the listener in Summerisle’s springtime “celebration”….you can almost smell Edward Woodward burning.

Basil Poledouris’s “Riddle Of Steel/Riders Of Doom” (from 1982′s Conan The Barbarian OST)
EMPHASIS on 1982! The frozen northern wasteland of Cimmeria in the Hyborian Age just reeks throughout Poledouris’s timeless soundtrack. These numbers played over the opening scene, as Thulsa Doom’s raiders raced through the boreal forest to commence with slaughtering Conan’s village. A “classical” soundtrack, beyond epic and instructs one just how to “crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”

Earth’s “Omens And Portents I: The Driver” (from 2008′s The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull)
This album defines winter hibernation for me. Low lights, Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter in hand, some Vermont sharp white cheddar and (for those lucky enough) a significant other to tell stories to about how you used to fly across backcounty country farm roads with the headlights off, slamming away a case of Natural Light while blasting Obituary’s Cause of Death (hey, that is what passed for fun in those days).

Fates Warning’s “Prelude To Ruin” (from 1986′s Awaken The Guardian)
An all-time favorite, one of those “made me want to be metal forever” albums. John Arch in his prime (as well as the band, at least in this early incarnation), the (unacknowledged? Hall of Fame damnit!) lyrical and vocal genius carved out atmosphere and coldness complemented by riffs that were vomited from of the abominable snowman himself.

Amorphis’s “Forgotten Sunrise” (from 1994′s Tales From The Thousand Lakes)
Never underestimate the power of an album’s cover and layout to influence the feeling or “vibe” of the subsequent post-purchase listening session (perhaps an experience of a bygone era in the digital age?). Nevertheless, the coldness of this track and this album was like a snowflake-covered slab of rotting Finnish meat to my ears when it dropped. Primitive and Kalevala-riffic, this album crawled out of the primordial swamplands to define “winter” death metal to me to this day…

Black Mountain’s “Tyrants” (from 2008′s In The Future)
I am in the future right now and this fantastic band from British Columbia should be more explosive across the underground consciousness. “Tyrants” is my go-to overnight staple for midwinter nights…by 4:18 you should be throwing another log on the fire and watching the hockey highlights, crushing a bottle of old Rasputin Imperial Stout, wondering why Decibel has yet to do an NHL preview…

Eloy’s “Poseidon’s Creation” (from 1977′s Ocean)
Obscure ’70s German prog…who doesn’t love it? These guys released tons of records in Europe, and were pretty much the German Pink Floyd of sorts back then and this album is thought by some to be the jewel in their Gilmour-worshipping crown. That aside, their catalog spurts up a spritzer full of ’70s brilliance, and this is my perfect go-to album for spaced-out late-February 3 AM vinyl jam sessions, snowed in with special friends, soaking up the best German accent this side of Klaus Meine on World Wide Live (can you see zee microphones in zee air?!).

Leonard Cohen’s “Waiting For The Miracle” (from 1992′s The Future)
Many might know this from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, but this track, and the album, were another step into “the future” for Cohen, as his poetry unfolds slowly over somber “end of the world” and end of life reflections…eerie and dreamlike in parts, it’s the audio equivalent of that 5:30 AM drift, on the couch, under the blankets, eyes half-shut and consciousness slipping away as you stare into the fireplace…zzzz

*Pre-order your copy of Live In Munich here.

**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:

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)