On the importance of “vintage stage antics” for a thriving metal subculture by Robin Staps (The Ocean)

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, justify your shitty scene On: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

theocean_live_decibel_2013

As some of you may have noticed, there has recently been an explosive, blown-up debate about (the lack of) stage diving on this year’s Summer Slaughter tour between us, Summer Slaughter, and the fans. Apart from all the useless “you better book ‘baby corpse deep throat massacre’ next year, this tour is not metal anymore” rubbish, some commenters have made some very legit points, and I would like to add a few thoughts here.

Do we rely on “vintage stage antics”, as Summer Slaughter Tour Creator Ash Avildsen has called stage diving, in order to get the point in our music across? No we don’t, and despite some venues’ rigid security policies, we have been enjoying this tour a lot. However, there is more to it then leaping into the crowd to impress teenage girls. A strict code of conduct for stage behavior essentially compromises the interaction between band and crowd, and the experience for fans that pay to see a show, as well as for us as musicians. Metal or hardcore shows with a high security prison atmosphere can no longer be the intimate experience that they are meant to be. All the bands on this tour belong close to the crowd, and sometimes in the crowd. This is a gesture that builds bridges, and that’s what sets us all apart from mainstream artists on huge stages, where the distance and the height of the stage becomes symbolic for a hierarchy between artist and crowd: the artist puts himself above the crowd, away from the crowd… like an untouchable deity that is being idolized by those who look up to him, literally and figuratively. While shows of a certain size essentially come with bigger and higher stages, this idolization is what we strive to avoid, through close and intimate interaction with the fans. This is why we meet people, to trade booze and food for merch, this is why we stay with fans, and this is also why we stage dive. As one commenter has put it: “At least the ocean and bands like them lower themselves and treat their fans like friends. Rowdy dysfunctional friends. It connects a crowd more than it ever separates. Isn’t that what music is all about?”

With this whole discussion, what I find lacking most of the time is a bit of common sense. Artists obviously don’t want anyone to get hurt, but there will always be a potential risk involved when a crowd gathers to watch a band play, gets excited, and starts moving to their music—just as there is a potential risk involved with playing football, or doing any kind of sport, really. And in the end, that’s what a metal show is, both for the band as well as for the majority of the audience: a sporting event, a sweaty work out. And much like football players are aware of the potential risk of twisting their ankles or getting bruises while diving after the ball, fans in the first few rows of a metal show are aware of the fact that there may be dancing, stage diving or crowd surfing, and of the potential risk of injury involved with these activities. In the internet age everyone knows that, even people who have never been to a metal show before in their lives.

At the heart of the recent security paranoia lies the case of Randy Blythe, which has become the September 11th of the metal scene. In its wake, we are seeing a drastic tightening of security policies at shows across the globe, and especially in America. And much like the Patriot Act, a result of September 11th, with it has come a massive infringement of civil liberties that has affected our society and changed our lives in many ways, much like the way new security policies at metal shows affect the practice of our subculture, and our freedom of artistic and emotional expression.

Randy’s case has become the horror scenario of professionals in the entertainment industry, who fear that this could reoccur at any moment unless a band’s and their fans’ modes of expression are strictly regulated and controlled. Venue owners and booking agents feel that there is an immediate need for action, and I can hear hysterical calls for drastic measures everywhere. Some venues are instructing their security staff to prevent certain antics at any cost. I have seen bouncers grabbing stage divers by their ankles, violently dragging them out of the pit and over the barricade, and I have seen people face plant on the floor in the ditch between stage and barricades in the meantime, because security staff was too busy escorting crowd surfers out of the building and kicking them out of the show. On the other hand, bands are being asked to sign waivers on certain tours here that forbid them to even TALK about moshing, stage diving or circle-pits. Bands get fined if they break these rules, or even kicked off tours. Fans are immediately banned from shows if they engage in activities that have been at the heart of this subculture since its inception.

While these new rules are there for a reason, it is up to us, the bands and artists of our time, to challenge and eventually break these rules—because in the end, isn’t that what punk rock and hardcore are all about? If I had been following rules and regulations and what other people consider to be good or bad for me for my entire life, I would have never gotten involved with punk rock or metal in the first place. My mom didn’t want me to go to punk rock shows, but I did it anyway, and found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience, stage-diving included. If punk rock can be summarized in a few words, then it is first and foremost about breaking rules, about finding our own way, about trusting our own judgment and deciding for ourselves what is good and bad for us, rather than letting authorities make decisions for us.

It is a matter of becoming mature. Kant defined enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his own self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another”. In that regard, punk rock and all related heavy music subcultures are a form of self-enlightenment, and its motto has always been sapere aude!—use your goddamn brains!

If I was a schoolteacher in Utah, and if it was expected from me to not teach the theory of evolution in class—would I follow this rule, just because some Mormon idiot tells me to? No, I certainly would not. I’d break the rule and teach the theory of evolution, until I was reprimanded and expelled. Then I would move to another state and do the same thing there, because my own sense of reason is stronger than irrational rules and regulations.

Unfortunately, “moving to another state” is not an option here, in the case of the subject of this article. I love metal and hardcore, and I don’t want to have to move on to techno or merengue music due to the environment for living and executing our subculture becoming too oppressive. There is a lot at stake here, and this is why we, the musicians and artists of our time, need to stand up and fight for it. We carry this responsibility, and we are in a stronger position than our average fans to do something about it, because if they ban us from getting back on stage after stage-diving (this actually happened to me on this tour), the show is usually over. And no promoter wants that.

Ben Weinman told me a story the other day, about a girl who sued them a few years back for getting her neck hurt at a Dillinger show. She argued that she had never been to a Dillinger show before and was not aware of stage diving and such. She had to withdraw the claim after the Dillinger camp presented YouTube videos of 5 of her favorite bands (according to her MySpace profile) to the court, all of which showed evidence of stage diving, even by band members. The girl had seen those videos. As Ben put it: “Our case was that moshing and crowd surfing is part of our sub culture and a band or fan conducting themselves appropriately is completely determined by the norms within that culture. The bands she had admitted being a fan of and seeing live in concert were all, at least loosely, part of that subculture and were also known for this kind of conduct. In other words, if you are going to go stand in the middle of a ritualistic tribal ceremony in which people shit on each other, don’t get mad if you get shit on you. Stay home and watch it on the history channel instead.”

When you go scuba diving, you need to get a license, you are made aware of the risks involved and sign a waiver where you indemnify the company you book your dives with against any claims related to health-issues or injuries. Maybe this is what we need for metal heads that go to live shows as well, a general license to attend, which attests that the license holder is aware of the risks involved, that he will NOT sue the venue, or the band, if he gets injured. If that gives us the freedom to behave as we like and as we always have, I would be in full favor of it. But do we really need this?

Another commenter on Facebook mentioned that these no stage diving rules were perfectly legit and understandable, because of course people would sue the venues and bands if they got hurt at a show—just like parents would sue the parents of their own kids’ best friend, if their kid got hurt at the other parents’ houswe…

This attitude makes me angry. It is the paradigm example of a skewed way of thinking: it’s the same logic that allows you to sue McDonald’s for making you fat. A logic that neglects choice, a logic that degrades and flouts human intellect and reduces us to sheep that have to be fenced in order to thrive. Do we really want to raise our children without any exposure to potential threats and dangers, in a perfectly sheltered, brave new world? Then we need to reduce their metal experience to watching videos on YouTube, because we will never be able to eliminate all potential risks at a metal show, where crowds gather to be MOVED by music. People will eventually get hurt in high-energy scenarios, whether that is a metal concert, or a sports event, and that is tragic… but the only alternative is a culture completely devoid of fun, freedom, excitement and drama. As Kurt Schwitters put it: “There is not enough tragedy in human existence“. These days, more true than ever.

Let me finish on a positive note, with a comment by an attendee of the Detroit run of Summer Slaughter: “Summer Slaughter was my 10 year olds’ first concert @ The Majestic in Detroit. The Ocean’s lead singer pulled him onstage, and he dove off. No worse for the wear… And he hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

** Visit, LIKE, and yell at The Ocean on Facebook by clicking HERE.

** The Ocean’s Pelagial is out now on Metal Blade Records. It’s available HERE. If you’re wondering what Pelagial means but don’t want to spend time looking up the definition we did that for you. Click here.

EXCLUSIVE: Archive interview with Jeff Hanneman

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

jeffhanneman

Sometimes a little cleaning can unearth big finds. During my latest attempt at restoring some order to the house of CDs I live in, I came across a stack of old CDR’s that contained the archives of my old radio show, Hellraiser’s Ball, at USC’s student run radio station, KSCR (1560 AM!). One of those discs was labeled “Jeff Hanneman interview.” I had been assigned the interview by a magazine that I wrote for at the time, Worldly Remains, which never paid me and then vanished from the face of the earth forever. This was done in summer 2003, before the release of the War at the Warfield DVD. I was the ripe old age of 20, and not super experienced with band interviews, so it’s… Rough. Not super insightful, shall we say. I like to think I’ve gotten better at interviews since then (and know a hell of a lot more about Slayer), but my editors can probably attest otherwise. At any rate, it’s worth listening to just to hear how patient he was with awkward me asking him questions he’d heard 1000 times before, and to get a sense of his legendary sense of humor. I no longer have the transcription I made at the time (and I’m sure not doing it again), but I thought I would share the audio just to make the record of the late, great Slayer guitarist’s time on this earth a little more complete.

 

Cobalt’s Phil McSorley moves on to the hateful underworld of Recluse

By: dB_admin Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews On: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

971802_588604264503499_876605219_n

by Kim Kelly

Phil McSorley has no interest in talking about Cobalt, and would appreciate it if people would stop fucking asking him about their recording plans. His frustration is understandable, given that he’s just weeks away from the release of his pet project’s first demo and he’s still being bombarded by questions about his flashier MDF-approved collaboration with Erik Wunder. The new material McSorley’s been working on has little to nothing in common with Cobalt; hell, it’s more Vlad Tepes than anything. Recluse represents the all-consuming misanthropy of black metal’s best-known drill sergeant, and, save for bass tracks recorded by Loss’s Mike Meacham (who also spearheads Graceless Recordings), it’s entirely McSorley’s doing. As he says, it’s not for wimps.

Up until this past Tuesday, only one Recluse song had surfaced. Posted to YouTube a few months back, “No Way Out” is a death march of a song, coldly melodic and lashed to a shambling, measured pace culled straight from a 1996 Belketre demo. McSorley’s vocals are an amoral groan rattling deep within his throat, choking on their own vitriol and disgust, and the raw production serves to amplify, not obscure.

Another song, “Erect Holy Strangulation,” was just posted here, and it’s a doozy. We had a nice cozy chat with McSorley about his wretched new brainchild below.

You’ve kept Recluse largely under wraps up until recently. Why take such a low-key approach?
McSorley: I am doing it this way because this is not music for the casual listener. I don’t expect many to identify with Recluse because people are inherently cowards, and their ears are accustomed to more liberal sounds. Recluse is the music of repulsive violence without compromise.

You’ve said that people who like Cobalt won’t like this.
McSorley: Cobalt has nothing to do with Recluse. Recluse is a self-aggrandizing exercise in violence towards the repulsive cowards and sheep that comprise humanity. I have always been the pointed tip of Cobalt, bringing the danger and violence to the band. Erik Wunder is very talented, and we work well together, but Cobalt will never capture the hate I feel for people musically like Recluse.

Besides the obvious LLN worship, what other sounds or subjects influenced the creation of this first demo?
McSorley: Recluse has been compared a lot to LLN bands, though this wasn’t intentional. I am fine with the comparison if it is made by people educated about their words. I’m not going to run off a list of bands that I take influence from. Those who understand the feeling of hate that I put into this music already know what my influences must be. As for subjects that create this feeling, there is only the genetically coded hate I have for nearly every person I meet.

How long has the concept for Recluse existed, and when did you first start writing material? What do you tackle in the lyrics? “No Way Out” seems like it could have a variety of meanings, given your background.
McSorley: I have been writing for this project for a few years in between other commitments. This year I decided to give this disgusting feeling a name. The lyrics are about decimation, profaning the saints of Jehovah/Muhammad, war, isolationism and hate for mankind. “No Way Out” is lyrically concerned with the frightening solitude of death, taken from the perspective of an extreme misanthrope who revels in centuries of silence.

What was the recording process like? I know that you’ve generally got fuck-all free time to start with, and now with you in Georgia and Meacham in Nashville, even the comparatively short distance must have been a pain in the ass.
McSorley: The recording process was completed by me, minus the bass. Mike Meacham recorded the bass on this demo, and will probably continue to contribute his negative energy to Recluse. The mixing was done by Zack Allen of Obsidian Eye Studios. Both are completely understanding of the true goals of Recluse: to create hateful and violent black metal.

Graceless Recordings will be releasing the demo on tape. Why go for cassette? Do you have plans to release it on any other formats?
McSorley: Recluse is not for the idling listener. I am not opposed to any other formats, but I believe that a demo should be released on cassette. It’s not my problem if people don’t have a cassette player.

What are your goals for this project? Will you continue creating music under its banner, or was this a one-off?
McSorley: Recluse will continue to record and release records on its own terms. If only 30 people in the world get a Recluse tape and understand and relate to the message, it will change nothing for me. Integrity is a relic of years gone by in metal. I want nothing to do with its money-grubbing, perfect production-humping, and contract-peddling bullshit. You are all fucking scum.

What newer bands should those who dig Recluse look out for?
McSorley: People should listen to whatever moves them and stay the fuck away from things they know nothing about. For those who feel as I feel, the amazing Canadian project Gevurah comes with the highest recommendation.

Shred Like A Werewolf: Sadgiqacea/Hivelords Tour Diary 3

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: diary, featured On: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

3 AUSTIN TX

We’ll make this intro concise as possible, so as to allow readers to break on through to the other side that much quicker: A) False Prism and Cavern Apothecary — presented by Sadgiqacea and Hivelords, respectively — are two of the best, most intriguing mindfuck metal releases of the year thus far. B) The bands just wrapped a lengthy tour together. C) After two tour diaries penned by a mysterious scribe amongst them known as “The Portalist” (Part 1, Part 2) Fred Sadgiqacea walks us through the endgame…

July 30th: Dear Frisco, Yer next, and shit are you cold! Folivore brought an onslaught of smoke and riffs that seemed to rise from the cracks in the streets and pierce our empty vessels. 24 oz PBRs were something to cool us off from the hellish heat Hivelords had left behind. Smoldering crags shot up from the floor and straight into a black hole as a transition from them to Sadgiqacea, and then the night grew $3.00 colder…

July 31st: Que Sera, Sera, in Long Beach, brought forth a warm welcome from our Pigeon Winged friend Ryan, Earsplit and CVLT Nation. The night was full of good vibes from all. Doctorshopper performed open heart surgery on us with a black metal induced sphere of energy, the crowd was livid for us all, and we had the pleasure of seeing a familiar face to catch it all on camera. Killer posters were printed with art by none other but Tom Denney. The night ended at our gracious hostess’s with Sausage and meatball sandies, a giant bag of Tortilla chips n salsa for the boys, and the classic Stephen King horror flick, The Mist. Fuck Yes.

August 1st: Off to Vegas in the hot sun and the strip is not our objective. We arrive at James’s KVLT HOVSE of blood magic and sorcery around 10, and the night is as young as the innocent faust. Hivelords and Sadgiqacea strip the audience of their vocal chords and charge their eardrums with chaos. We leave off with a Transylvanian Hunger to linger in the desert night air…After a lengthy farewell to the Walmart thirty pack thieves and a most enthusiastic group of new fans, we hightail it to Tuscon before the sun make us it’s bitch.

August 2nd: Too late!

STREAMING: COFFINS “Colossal Hole” EP

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, August 26th, 2013

package

Courtesy of the good guys and ghouls from Horror Pain Gore Death Records, we’ve got a particularly fetid and rotten Monday afternoon treat for all you gore-obsessed Decibangers out there in the shape of Coffins Colossal Hole EP.

Anyone with a penchant for sloppy-joe, old-school death metal will already be on first-name terms with the Japanese quartet’s sound. And of course, you’ve all heard “Reborn”, right? The track they cut exclusively for Decibel’s flexi-disc series? Well, you can check that slice of punk-cum-death metal out here while we’ve got your attention.

Anyway, to the matter in hand. Colossal Hole is a three-track EP strictly limited to 500 copies and comes on 10″ deluxe vinyl (45RPM Black Night vinyl, if you’re curious to know about such things). The tracks are rough, pre-production demo tracks the band cut when working towards Relapse debut, The Fleshland. The artwork comes from the fair hand of guitarist/vocalist Uchino, and feel free to make full use of the complimentary sick bags included with the release. There is also a pair of numbered tickets with each release. They won’t get you in anywhere but, y’know, it’s nice to have something to underline the exclusivity of the whole thing. Neat, huh?

**Buy it now from here
**Coffins on Facebook

Malfeitor Fabban (Aborym) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured On: Monday, August 26th, 2013

aborym_blackmetal_decibel_2013

** If you’ve ever visited a large city, it’s readily apparent between trash-strewn alleys, huge skyscrapers, and rush hour hustle ‘n’ bustle, decay is happening. Cities—from Aborym’s home in Rome, Italy and New York City to Oslo and Miami—are slowly rusting and dying from the inside out. Add humans to the equation and cities turn into cesspools of oxidation and dead dreams. This is what Aborym are trying to paint on new album, Dirty. We corner Malfeitor Fabban as he sifts through spent drug needles and rescued MIDI controllers.

Where do you think Aborym fits in the overall schema of metal?
Malfeitor Fabban: In the fucked up area man! (kidding…) Well, I’ve no idea. Is it necessary to be included in a musical context? I mean, I believe it could be difficult for a band like Aborym.We did not choose to play this or to play that. We simply play. Got it? We had the need of something really shocking and eye-poppin’, like to wake up in a hospital after speedballing, something really dangerous like heroin and cocaine mixed together and injected together in a single fuckin’ shot.

Is black metal still recognizable in Aborym at this stage?
Malfeitor Fabban: Black metal belongs to the past, to our roots maybe. Now we are very far from black metal. We’re an active part of a very private and exclusive club made for very few bands that actually can and want to make music without limits, rules and music business dictates.

Are you following in the footsteps of others—like Thorns for example—or venturing out into uncharted territory? Just curious how you view Aborym’s trajectory.
Malfeitor Fabban: Thorns is a cool band, but it’s not an influence for Aborym. To me the real matrix, the true and fundamental mix in between metal, industrial music and electronic has been created by Trent Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails even if we try to not be influenced by any other bands. We want to sound like Aborym. Aborym is a band that changes its skin year after year, disc after disc. The changing, metamorphosis, experimentation, are elements of our musical DNA. We’re not able to realize an album with 8-10 tracks all similar to each other, so not even albums. The many people who follow us since the ‘90s are used to our continuous changing and mood swings, and this is one of the peculiarities of this band. The metamorphosis of Aborym have always been oriented to achieve something that is not conceivable or imaginable: we like to catch our listeners unprepared, we love destabilizing them, and give them new emotions and feelings that they never had until that moment. This metamorphosis, in my opinion, has traveled in parallel with an evident musical, technical and attitudinal growth.

What kind of advancements—whether technological or compositional or both—have you made to Aborym since Psychogrotesque?
Malfeitor Fabban: Dirty has been written starting from synths and hard disc recording, MIDI stuff and so on. And we decided to work like this in order to get the weirdest, coolest, powerfulest Aborym album ever, something really heavy, psycho and innovative. A real eye-poppin’ unexpected piece of art. We strongly wanted our sound to be more cold and modern and at the same time full of weird melodies, arrangements, new ideas and new way to combine different styles and music. The work and the details of the electronic and industrial structures of Dirty were treated to an almost fanatical level and the result is very, very high. We use synths a lot, keyboards, we work a lot on hard disk, we write MIDI and abuse of samplers and VST. We have thousands and thousands of sounds and through software we manage to modify them and made them sound like we want. All of this is like a real trip,my friend! We decided to give to Aborym a strong industrial brand, plagiarizing even more the most damn fierce metal with electronics, using the power of synths, machines, software, of sound cleanliness and as well the power of a total absence of any rules that are not ours.

Describe the contribution of the other members to the music making process for Dirty. Is it collaborative, confrontational, expansive or all of the above?
Malfeitor Fabban: I deal with the songwriting with Paolo. Bard takes action when all the tracks have been set and when we defined the structures of drums and time. It’s great teamwork. Paolo is a professional and talented musician, a person with whom it’s just a pleasure to make music with. He’s also vocalist and guitarist in Hour of Penance, a death metal band.

Over time, what have you learned to not include in Aborym’s soundscape? It’s pretty dense.
Malfeitor Fabban: We went beyond every conceivable scenario and we created new fuckin’ music for a new fucked up generation. This album is another demonstration of how music can be universal. Just keeping up, keeping up with the times and staying on top of things helps to keep us going.

Aborym started off as a covers band. Does Dirty II bring everything full circle?
Malfeitor Fabban: I don’t want to say I get giddy like a little girl, but it was exciting for me to record songs like “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails”, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. These two versions represent for us a real tribute to Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails, and I have tried hard to try to sing these two songs in such a way as similar as possible to the original. It has been a fantastic experience for me, to able to sing these two songs, believe me. As far regard the Maiden’s “Hallowed…”, we wanted to propose a classic of heavy metal music played in Aborym-style without fucking compromises. We played three or four times faster, sung in streaming, we used synth, electro patterns, keyboards and all that could do absolutely sound disturbing and crazy. Our version of “Hallowed Be Thy Name” should have sounded exactly like that.

You’ve also included fan recorded material as well as your own as part of the splice-in compositonal process. What was working with all those sources like?
Malfeitor Fabban: “Need for Limited Loss.” It’s a song written by Alberto Penzin (CO2, former Schizo) on which we have mounted a series of riffs, samples, scores, screaming and lyrics that some fans have sent us. The idea was to create a song with them and it was a great experience! The entire second disc of Dirty is our way of thanking our fan-base, a second CD dedicated to them and partly achieved with them, all to celebrate even if with some delay, 20-years of Aborym.

What do you want to communicate on Dirty?
Malfeitor Fabban: Crisis (economical, social, spiritual), social seclusion and isolation… That’s why I love the “city” concept: you can feel alone even if you are surrounded by millions of people, millions of lights, clubs, streets, technology, attractions and so on… Sexual repression, urban violence, diseases, complex-unstable, often violent kind of relationship. I just wrote about something I can see everyday in my city. My only great inspiration, what actually pushed me to write lyrics like that, is the everyday life, my daily careful study on the people I meet everyday. It’s exactly a cross-section of the modern society, lyrics that talk to things visible to everyone. Everything that surrounds us is a huge container of shit and piss and this fucking planet is falling apart. I see it this way, Dirty is completely based on that and it is also loosely based on what we did starting in 1992, getting in fights, waking up messed up and drunk in strange dirty beds, drug addiction, alcoholism.

Dirty is a challenging listen. What do you think the listener walks away with after experiencing Dirty?
Malfeitor Fabban: I don’t care. Becoming more mature with the music and growing as our audience grows, we just don’t limit ourselves by staying at the same level. It’s hard for me sometimes to explain what I mean. If you are a non-open-minded boring braindead, well, better to stay away from Dirty. This album is for gourmets.

** Aborym’s Dirty is out now on Agonia Records. It’s available HERE for order. Unless you’d rather go here and buy a Skrew record, of which none have aged gracefully.

STREAMING: Scythe’s “Leather Aggressor”

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, August 23rd, 2013

scythe - band 3

In recent years, Chicago has been home to all sorts of experimental and off-the-path metal. Lest you forget it’s also the hometown of Paul Speckmann of Master, scads of restaurants that serve large racks of meat and tons of old-school goodness.

On that note, Decibel is happy to provide an exclusive stream of Scythe’s “Leather Aggressor,” from their upcoming album Subterranean Steel. R.I.P. Records will release the record on September 11 — learn more on the band’s Facebook page.

Check out the song below. A quick interview with guitarist and vocalist Rick Scythe follows. Happy Friday!

Can you give us a history of the band?

I was the founder and primary songwriter for the band Usurper from 1992-2007. Usurper broke up in 2007 and it seemed like the band was buried and forgotten. In 2009, Usurper was getting a lot of good offers to get back together. We got offers to play fests and to some live shows. I wanted to do this. It felt like enough time had passed. There was a new breed of metal fans discovering Usurper. I thought this was a good time for a Usurper reunion but a few of the other past members did not want to do it. So it never happened.

So instead of re-forming a new version of Usurper, I decided to form my own band where I could carry on the traditions of Usurper, but also explore new territories. I didn’t want to do what most old bands do when they reform — have one original guy and then the rest new members. I figured I would form a new band and start from the ground up. It wasn’t the easy way, but it felt like the right way.

Since Scythe formed we released our debut album Beware the Scythe in 2012 and now we are ready to release our new album Subterranean Steel.

How did you come up with the name Scythe?

I’ve used the name Scythe in songwriting credits for Usurper since 1993. Scythe was going to be my solo band after Usurper, but once I got the lineup situated, Scythe simply became the name of the band. Scythe is a power trio and (also features) Dan Geist on bass/vocals and Joey Contreras on drums.

How did the new album come together?

After our first album, I kept writing songs. I reworked some old songs that I never recorded over the years, wrote some new music and collaborated with Dan on some new songs. The result is nine-song homage to all underground metal warriors. The only criteria when writing this album was that all songs must be 100 percent headbangable and fistbangable.

What can you tell us about the track we’re premiering today?

The song is called “Leather Aggressor.” It’s a metal anthem about the age-old struggle between barbarians and tyrants. Inspired by the sack of Rome, but also about rising up, banding together and taking a stand against the corrupt powers that be.

What’s your favorite part of the Chicago metal scene?

Playing in front of some of the most die-hard fans in the country.

BREWTAL TRUTH: Drink This Now!

By: adem Posted in: featured, liver failure On: Friday, August 23rd, 2013

brooklyn_sorachi_ace2

Given the opportunity to write about craft beer every month in Decibel has been eye-opening. The idea that our “Brewtal Truth” column would have lasted more than four years (and counting) and even spawn a book—The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers, out in November—is pretty amazing. Now it’s time to bring a little “Brewtal Truth” to the Deciblog. Each week we’re featuring a different craft beer that you should drink now. These aren’t so much reviews as recommendations. We won’t post anything here that we haven’t happily poured down our own gullet. There’ll be a new one every week at noon Eastern time, a little something to get you thinking about your imbibing options for the weekend.

Since my upcoming Brewtal Truth column in Decibel deals with well-hopped beers and why you should drink them as soon as possible (and not try to age them), I figured I’d dedicate my next few blog posts to the topic of hops. Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace is actually named after the hop variety used in the brewing process. Sorachi Ace was developed in Japan in the late ’80s (along with some really bad hair metal, see below). It’s a cross between English Brewer’s Gold and Czech Saaz hops and it produces curiously piquant lemon flavor and aromas in beer. Since craft beer hadn’t quite taken off yet, there was no market for this unique variety when it was first developed. Fast forward 25 years and brewers are scrambling to get their hands on new and interesting varieties to satisfy hopheads. Sorachi Ace (the hop) still isn’t grown in large quantities, but this beer is a perfect way to experience its unique characteristics.

SORACHI ACE
Saison
Brooklyn
Brooklyn, NY
7.6% ABV

This is our second Deciblog post about a beer from Brooklyn (see the first here), but we swear, we’re not just sucking up to the biggest metropolis in the U.S., or trying to get in good with the dudes in Tombs. But everything we wrote about the borough of Brooklyn and its brewing history and excellent water apply to Brooklyn Brewery. Not everything the brewery makes is brewed in Brooklyn, but their specialty releases like Sorachi Ace are. They are probably the highest profile craft brewery in NYC and their brewmaster, Garrett Oliver (editor of the excellent Oxford Companion to Beer), is a rock star in the craft beer world.

Onto the beer, starting with a word of warning. This is packaged in a Champagne bottle with a cork and cage. With some beers this is for show, but not with Sorachi Ace. Be careful when uncaging and dislodging the cork, because it will fire off like a bullet. I nearly put a serious divot in my ceiling when carelessly opening my bottle; it has put-out-an-eye kind of power. This brew was bottle conditioned with a Champagne yeast, which basically means that the yeast and a little bit of sugar were added when it was bottled to kick start a secondary fermentation to give it excellent carbonation. Mission accomplished. It pours into the glass with a massive foamy white head. And the smell is amazingly exotic. I get citronella, grass, gooseberries, pineapple, vanilla, a bit of funk and that somewhat indefinable Belgian yeast spice. It’s crazy. All the notes are super bright and crisp. The beer equivalent to trebly. And most of it is thanks to the Sorachi Ace hops.

The lemon notes of the hops really show up when you taste it. The carbonation is big and creamy and washes layers of bitter lemon across your palate. You get a little bit of tropical fruit in there as well, but it’s hard to get a lot beyond the lemon. It’s not sour at all, it just has a lemon flavor. For the most part it’s also quite dry which keeps it from tasting like lemon candy. The finish is pleasantly bitter, but not much bitter is needed for such a dry beer. The remarkable thing about Sorachi Ace is how quaffable it is for a 7.6% beer. It’s light bodied and refreshing, just like a saison should be. Saisons were traditionally given to farmhands to quench their thirst in the summer months, but it’s doubtful they would have drunk something this strong, and definitely not with Sorachi Ace hops in it.

More and more beers are brewed using a single variety of hops, so you can really get a sense of the characteristics they bring to them. This achieves that goal perfectly. No other hop tastes like Sorachi Ace, and this is a showcase for everything it has to offer. We usually like to end things with something musical and the obvious move would be to put something contemporary and extreme from Brooklyn, since it seems to have no shortage of impressive bands. But there was a band that arrived on the scene about the same time Sorachi Ace was developed that referenced Motörhead, rhymed “false metal” with “boiling kettle” and had Kerry King in its video long before there was an extreme music scene in Brooklyn. So, we’re going with that.

Let Orbweaver Fuck Up Your Friday!

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Orbweaver featured

Florida’s Orbweaver just released one of those records that sounds just like its cover art.  Like, if Mastodon’s latest actually sounded like the roar of a multi-jawed bull with scales, or if mid-period Novembers Doom actually sounded good.  Copiously limbed, eye- and mouth-dominated monstrosities from space are climbing through razored tears in space-time to devour your body and eternal energetic self before you can say “Holyshitthismusicisawesome!”

Which you will try to say, because it is.  Discordant, dirty, twisted, demonic, but spacious and intricate – their latest material on Strange Transmissions from the Neuralnomicon will kick your 26-dimensional ass all up and down the omniverse.  Luckily, these songs have projected themselves temporarily into our reality (at Bandcamp), so you can experience it all for yourself.  Also, check them out at their official website.

We asked songwriter/guitarist Randy Piro about his vision for the music so that you could connect to a human behind the chaos.  Take a listen to the album while you read his thoughts.  Holyshitthismusici… AAAAAHHH!

Can you talk a little about how the members got to know each other and how the band formed and defined its sound?

Right from the start I had the concept of mixing harsh noise and metal; psychedelic to a degree, but more just pure chaos and noise mixed with abstract, off kilter, aggressive music.  I met our original drummer Mike shortly after I started writing the first few songs. He came from a pretty straight forward death metal background, so it mixed well with the more abstract and chaotic elements. From there we enlisted Sally. She and I had previously played together for several years so we already had a good musical rapport. We found Jason who embodies exactly what I always wanted in a bass player; Geezer and Getty.  Once the full lineup was established, the previous songs evolved through the trial and error of live performances, and our different musical backgrounds. We then wrote the remainder of the songs together as a band.

What specifically is exciting to you as a player when you perform this music?  What do you enjoy most about these new songs?

As cheesy as it sounds, live performances are somewhat of a transcendence ritual for me. While I am setting up my gear I’m a total mess… stressed, freaking out because some pedal is not working, geeked out on adrenaline, just totally awkward and mortal. But once I hit the standby switch and let the first wail of feedback come forth…the world goes black around me and I am simply wrapped in the sound… that’s my favorite part.  As far as the songs themselves, each are enjoyable and extremely personal to me, so just the simple act of playing them is beyond rewarding.

Orbweaver2

How do Orbweaver songs get worked out?

Most of the songs were written by me before the lineup was completed, the only reason for this was simply to get the band going. Everyone was very involved in the arrangements, and integral to crafting the overall sound.  We recently welcomed our new drummer Scott into the band, and have begun writing for the next LP. These songs are written democratically… everybody contributes. That said it all starts with someone’s original idea, and from there we just lock ourselves in our lair and hash it out.

What musical or thematic goals drove the creation of this new material?

The goal was to create an experience that takes one from the comfortable environment they reside in and throws them on a journey far outside the zone of familiarity.

As far as lyrical concepts, I am writing a continuing story that unfolds kind of like a comic book would.The lyrics were omitted on purpose; and this is where the visual art comes into the picture. I worked with Jean Saiz (Shroud Eater) to create 5 comic style trading cards which depict elements from the story. These are revealed in the limited edition cassette packs released by Primitive Violence Records.

These cards are the only defined glimpse the listeners will have… for now. The albums artwork ties in directly to the story, but I wanted to be a little more abstract about it. My intent is that the listener would just zone out on the art while absorbed in the music, and draw their own conclusion. This will continue for the next few releases, and cummulate with the entire storyline being made available in one grand, mind twisting form.

Orbweaver3

How does the song development process differ in Orbweaver from the way Gigan works?

When I started Orbweaver I had every intention of finding local musicians who had the ability, drive, and creative fortitude to do what we do. The end result was exactly what I was looking for; a band that gets together several times a week to rehearse and write. Because of this a lot of our newer material comes just from jamming together, and we have the luxury to bounce ideas around for days on end if need be.

We all lived far apart in Gigan, so songs were generally written before hand and then shown to the band. But that’s the way we had to work. We had limited time with each other, and we made the best out of it.

What non-metal musical backgrounds do Orbweaver members bring to the material?

A lot actually. Every member of the band has different, sometimes polar opposite musical tastes and background; but we all have common ground. I myself listen to a lot of older prog and electronic music. Jason is the total stoner rock guy, Sally digs out on funkier, weirdo stuff. It’s funny, historically our drummers listen to the most metal…and Scott is no exception. He’s the young guy of the group, so he likes a lot of the more modern bands.

Now that you’ve got a couple shorter recordings, do you have any lengthier ambitions on the horizon?  What, generally, do you see coming next for Orbweaver?

We are currently writing the material that will become our next LP, and will begin the recording process sometime next year. Until then Orbweaver will continue to tour and play as many shows as possible.

The Southern Ontario Metal Fest and the Shit Promoters Have to Deal With

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, listen, uncategorized, videos On: Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

deciblog - hugofest

Before you jump all down my throat and get up in my grill, understand that not all metal festivals are on the same level as Wacken, MDF, Roadburn, Chaos in Tejas, Bloodstock, one of the annual Scion-sponsored shin-digs or even Hopscotch or FunFunFunFest. Not every fest has the ability to draw thousands or can be held in a major market or central location. Not every fest has the pull or financial backing to draw bands out of retirement or attract exclusive one-offs. While I’m sure most promoters would like to get to that point of professional operation, notoriety and opportunity, the truth is, shit can’t be big and exclusive all the time. That’s where fest like the Southern Ontario Metal fest come in.

Kicking off at Club Absinthe (with a second, outdoor stage to be set up in the adjacent parking lot) in downtown Hamilton tomorrow, the SOMF is in its third year and is what you’d consider a smaller regional fest that brings together a few internationally recognised acts with a good number of popular Canadian acts and younger bands local to the region for a weekend of fun and frolic in the mid-sized city yours truly has called home for the past decade. Yes, a coup of sorts is happening as tech-metal wizards Psyopus are getting back together to play SOMF, and one of the jerks who wrote this will be doing an exclusive spoken word/reading thing at the Friday show, but for the most part, this is the equivalent of your younger brother scampering after you, yelling “Wait up! Wait up! Let me hang out with you!” as you and your dumb friends take off to smoke weed and fail miserably at picking up chicks down at the A&W. So there.

SOMF promoter, Matt “Hugo” Lewis is a long-time friend of mine and has been peppering me with regular phone calls over the past few months, regaling me with tales of frustration, triumph and hilarity. He’s even foolishly asked me for advice a couple times. I know, what a crazy fucker!! The latest obstacle has been the local city government giving our man hard time after hassle as the sands trickle through the hourglass and the fest’s start date ambles over the horizon. So, just to give you a small sampling of the shit promoters have to put up with, I got Matt to jot down a bit of his recent experience.

You used to hold the fest at some campground in the middle of fucking nowhere, southwestern Ontario. I’m pretty sure Middle of Fucking Nowhere actually was the name of the town. Why did you decide to move it to downtown Hamilton? Were there any other locations/cities you considered?
As we started to plan the third year of the fest, we were advised that the campground we had been using was no longer going to be open. So, for a couple weeks in October I called around and tried to find an alternative site that we could still include camping. No other campground wanted metal heads moshing and drinking all weekend on their grounds. We decided that if we couldn’t keep the camping, we might as well move it to a more centralized location. I had been putting on shows in Hamilton for years and had a good relationship with the club. They had moved to a new location which fit the possibility of still having two stages. We also needed to keep in it Southern Ontario because of the name. We didn’t really seriously consider any other city until seven months into this when I got frustrated with the process. If we do put on this festival next year, it may be in a different city.

deciblog - hugofest1

Tell us, in as much detail as you’re willing to spare, about all the shit you’ve had to deal with, with the City of Hamilton in having this show in the city?
The start of the process to get a festival approved in the City of Hamilton looked fairly straight forward. There is an application you fill out with all the details including why this event would be good for the city. The CoH sets up a meeting to go over the application with you, ask questions that any experienced promoter should know and they talk to you about security and policing, noise, road closures, if there will be any alcohol, etc. That process happened in February and two weeks after the meeting, the event was approved. I went about my business planning, getting a production team in place, fencing, staging, security and bands.
One day I got an email from the CoH saying the city councilor for the district had some concerns about the bands playing. Fuck The Facts was his main concern at this point and wanted to know how they were going to be announced. I let the CoH know we dont have announcers, this isn’t Rock on the Range or some redneck fest. I was polite and professional and advised the city we don’t have announcers and that I could talk to the band and ask them not to say their name. [Guitarist] Topon [Das] from FtF thought this was hilarious and insane, but agreed cause he’s an awesome guy. As ridiculous and morally objectionable as it was to me, I was happy to work with them because they could put any number of obstacles in front of me to prevent the outdoor stage from happening. About a month later, I was in the city of Burlington [the city "next door" to Hamilton] locking down some production stuff when a City of Burlington employee told me that he’s hearing all this controversy about our festival and didnt think it was happening anymore. Uh, news to me.
After hearing this I got a hold of some people and found out what the issue was. The city councilor had looked up some of Dying Fetus’ lyrics…. Well, this was a whole other thing now. It took some time after I reached out a couple times to go over his concerns. When we did speak, he had the usual questions about metal that most other people outside of this community would have. I understood his concerns about an outdoor stage and that people walking by could potentially hear offensive language. Something not offensive to me is I am sure really offensive to someone else, but this country has freedom of speech, doesn’t it? I understand that when someone stands on a street and preaches the love of God, which offends me to no end, I respect his right to say what he wants and I expect the same from him. Now back to the topic at hand. Said councilor wanted a list of talking points so he could defend the festival to his constituents. No problem, I sent that off which included some consequences I would be willing to enforce if bands expressed their opinion in an offensive way. That seemed to do the trick.
Now, as far as the noise by-law is concerned… Since the parking lot is considered semi-private, I had to file for a noise exemption from the city. I filed that in the beginning of June. After multiple follow ups, I heard nothing about it until the third week of July. They wanted to meet. I obliged, brought a gear list and site map. The meeting went well; I signed for the exemption and they said they would send it to me by email. A week later I got an email asking me to do a test run in the parking lot with my equipment. I said, “Well, that’s not possible. I am not going to spend extra money on a generator and the gear were using for 20 minutes.” They said it didn’t have to be the same gear, they just want a reading of the decibels. I politely said that’s not something I am willing to do as no other festival [in the city] ever has been asked to do a test run before, plus it’s three weeks before the festival. If this was the second or third week of June, I would have ample time to make changes, if needed, to meet their requirements. They came back and said we won’t issue the permit if you dont do the test run. Well, now my back is against the the wall. If i dont do the test run, I have to drop the outdoor stage and then this fest isn’t what was advertised and through no fault of my own. I put together the “test run” goes pretty well and now I am currently waiting to hear back if we get the permit.

The good news is that the test run happened a few days ago and went well. The SOMF will go on and Fuck the Facts, Dying Fetus and the rest will be able to offend not only the local councillor, but the multitude of crack dealers, alley-dwelling drunks, pregnant pack-a-day huffing welfare moms and screaming homeless schizophrenics that are usually found wandering this particular part of his ward and downtown Hamilton. And no, I’m not kidding, embellishing or being dramatic.

www.somf.ca