In case you have been on a spiritual pilgrimage or without an Internet connection in recent months a quick reminder that we had a big party last weekend to celebrate our 100th issue. A bunch of bands that have graced the cover, best of lists or Hall Of Fame (some of them multiple honorees) played. The lineup delivered and then some: Evoken, Tombs, Municipal Waste, Repulsion, Pig Destroyer and Converge. Attendees got a free record (Pig Destroyer flexi) just for showing up. Our editor did a gigantic beer bong and people flew in from around the United States. I took Amtrak train 665 to Philadelphia and train 666 back to New York City the following day after a requisite visit to the Rocky statue.
Our main man Raymond Ahner (check out his work or follow him on Twitter) flew all the way from California and documented the evening from the front row, dodging bodies and bodily excretions as he does in a photo pit every week in the Bay Area. Ray’s photos from the night follow, as well as a few words on his journey. Congrats to Albert, Andrew and our staff — many who made the trek to Philly — and see you in another 100 issues. And a special thanks to our readers, who make this all possible.
When Decibel announced that they would be putting on a show to celebrate their 100th issue, I knew that I had to photograph it, even it meant a weekend trip across the country and back. But as I walked into the Union Transfer and secured a spot in front of the stage, I must admit that I became somewhat torn as to what to do. As a fan, I wanted to put the gear away, go grab a beer (or three) and simply enjoy the bands from the crowd. But as a photographer, I wanted to be smashed up against the stage dead center, and while attempting to capture as much of the evening as possible. Needless to say, I chose option number two. And even as the stage diving kids relentlessly kicked, elbowed and pummeled me, my gear, and everyone in the front row, I just couldn’t leave. Sure it would have been easy to join the other photographers who sought safety while shooting from the back of the stage, but to me, it just wouldn’t have been the same. I hope that these photos somewhat covey just what a spectacular evening of Metal it was.
By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listenOn: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
Back in the old days—1988-1991—you didn’t need to sound “retro” to be cool. Even if you sucked you were cool because you were death metal. Black and white band photo, a group of scowling dudes, the obligatory cemetery backdrop (or rubble heap), and a kick-ass logo were all you needed to convince worldwide throngs you belonged with the rest of the pack. In the new days—i.e., now—the essentials don’t mean shit. You’re cool because somebody on an Internet forum says you’re cool. A tastemaker with an audience of 12.
Actually, that’s not true. Take France’s Necrowretch, for example. For years—since 2008, actually—they’ve toiled in obscurity, releasing demos and 7″‘s on labels small and cult. Well, it didn’t take long before death metal’s original Eye of Sauron (aka Century Media Records) gazed upon the Rhône-Alpes region of France and found, like they had back in the old days, something real, something cool, something decidedly violent and altogether evilly incandescent. Sure, Necrowretch owe their very existence to bands before them, but not the bands normally cited in I-love-the-past treatises. Right. No Entombed or Nihilist. Carnage or Dismember. We’re talking Merciless. With a smattering of Blasphemy.
It’s time to put on your black pants, your never-washed jean jacket, and a pair on non-descript black shoes—Adidas makes an all-black Samba just so you know. It’s time to wage war on hump day. It’s time for Necrowretch to rise from their moldy grave to rule all!
** Necrowretch’s debut full-length, Putrid Death Sorcery, is out February 5th on Century Media Records. Pre-order it HERE to get a good vile dose of the bubonic plague. Go on now. It’s what all grown-up metal of deathers do these days.
Man, it gets fucking crazy in the Lightning Swords of Death practice space if this video for “Baphometic Chaosium” — the title track of the new record available now — is any indication. There are what appears to be grown-up versions of the Phantasm munchkins, a rather busty-sassy ram-headed demoness, and several trim dudes in shades churning out the sort of blackened death metal that keeps the party going. Check it out below…
For more information hit up Lightning Swords of Death on Facebook or Twitter.
By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listenOn: Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
I have a pet hamster. His name is Ozzy. He is adorable but terrified of everything. However, over the course of his cohabitation with me, he’s become acclimated to the sounds of heavy metal, probably due to the fact that I play it for 16 hours a day. I’ve discovered that he actually has quite discerning taste, and reacts differently to the different things I play. So, in this column, I’m going to play him some of the latest metal singles, record his reaction, and then offer my scientific interpretation of what his behavior means vis-à-vis the song.
Song: Clutch – “Earth Rocker”
Reaction: The subject poked his head out of his wooden hutch. He sniffed around a little bit. He then stuffed some pieces of bedding into his cheeks and disappeared back into the house.
Interpretation: “This… This song! It stirs ancestral memories of glorious freedom. Okay, I’m going to make a break for it this time, for real – wait! I think the Great Old One Who Feeds Me And Scratches My Belly is out there. Nothing to see here, master! Just grabbing some bedding, IGNORE ME.”
Song: Lightning Swords of Death – “Baphometic Chaosivm”
Reaction: The subject ran in his wheel. Stopped. Stood up, ears perked. Shot off the wheel, climbed the side of his cage, sat on his perch. Jumped off and darted back onto his wheel.
Interpretation: “OH GOD THIS IS IT I’M DONE FOR – Oh, I guess the Great Old One is just running the vacuum again.”
Song: Darkthrone – “Leave No Cross Unturned”
Reaction: The subject noticed toilet paper tube. Wrestled toilet paper tube. Lost to toilet paper tube.
Interpretation: “This makes me want to go out and slay a host of heaven’s angels, but I guess I’ll have to settle for this toilet paper tube. HAIL AND KILL – no! NO! This wasn’t how it was supposed to go! Curse my frail hamster form!”
After a bloody successful maiden voyage in 2012,Decibel Magazine is doubling down on veteran star power for our second annual national tour. This spring, the plague spreads as we bring you three living legends of death metal and grindcore: preeminent gore institution Cannibal Corpse; rabble-rousing U.K. grind icons Napalm Death, and NYDM stalwarts Immolation.
While occultism permeated last spring’s inaugural dB tour-featuring exclusively European headliners in Behemoth, Watain, the Devil’s Blood and In Solitude-we looked (mostly) to North America for this year’s unholy assemblage. Three of our favorite underground powerhouses will take on this year’s rotating opening slot: demented Bay Area death-grinders Cretin, Canadian tech-prog upstarts Beyond Creation and Beltway grind/powerviolence crushers Magrudergrind. And the time is ripe to see the new bleed into the old: three of the six artists performing are expected to have new records detonating during the tour.
Kicking off in May, this year’s gauntlet will last a full week longer than its 2012 counterpart, spanning over 30 North American dates. Presented by Metal Blade, Indiemerchstore.com, Nuclear Blast, Lace Pickups, Century Media and Season of Mist, the 2013 Decibel Magazine Tour will bring together the kind of globally-renowned, boundary-pushing innovators that have made it possible for our magazine to continue thriving for over 100 issues. Coming off a tour noted for Behemoth frontman Nergal’s triumphant return to the States following his battle with leukemia – which culminated in an explosive sold-out closing gig in New York City — we had no choice but to go bigger and even more badass.
“We’re psyched to be headlining this year’s Decibel Magazine Tour along with Immolation and Napalm Death,” says Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster. “This is a lineup of bands that have been a consistent part of the death/grind scene for decades, and we’re proud to be a part of it. It will be a legendary night for extreme music.”
“Do you remember the Blue Grape Merchandise catalog?” asks Decibel Editor in Chief Albert Mudrian. “How about the Hard N’ Heavy Grindcore Video Special? Or purchasing CDs in longboxes? Then this year’s Decibel Magazine Tour was assembled for you. See you on the campaign trail for musical destruction.”
“We are really excited to be getting back to the States!” enthuses Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury. “We are fired up to be sharing the stage with Immolation and Cannibal Corpse-great friends of ours from way back, and awesome bands! Also, finally, for us it’s brilliant that this is a Decibel tour, a magazine that’s shown us great support over the years. That makes it an honor for us to be part of this package, and something very close to our hearts. It’s going to be a fun tour for sure! Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Totally chuffed, too, that Albert’s agreed to do some backing vocals on ‘The Kill’ with us! Yes, come on!”
Psyched and/or chuffed yourself? Well, here’s an early opportunity to score a great deal AND avoid standing in line. Twenty premium packages are available in each market that include your ticket to the show, a tour T-shirt, a tour poster, a super-exclusive “Skip the Line” pass to move you to the front when doors open, one free track, “Scourge of Iron” from the forthcoming Cannibal Corpse box set, Dead Human Collection: 25 Years of Death Metal (3/19), and one 10% off coupon for a purchase on Indiemerchstore.com. The price of this package is less than you would spend on a ticket and a tour shirt at the show! More details, including ticket info, will be announced at www.decibelmagazinetour.com
2013 DECIBEL MAGAZINE TOUR DATES
May 10 / Houston, TX / Fitzgerald’s
May 11 / Dallas, TX / Trees
May 12 / San Antonio, TX / Backstage Live
May 14 / Tucson, AZ / The Rock
May 15 / Ramona, CA / Ramona Mainstage
May 16 / Santa Ana, CA / The Observatory
May 17 / Oakland, CA / Oakland Metro
May 18 / Portland, OR / Wonder Ballroom
May 19 / Seattle, WA / El Corazon
May 21 / Vancouver, BC / Commodore Ballroom
May 22 / Calgary, AB / MacEwan Ballroom
May 23 / Edmonton, AB / Starlight Room
May 24 / Regina, SK / Riddell Centre
May 25 / Winnipeg, MB / The Garrick
May 26 / Minneapolis, MN / Mill City Nights
May 28 / Chicago, IL / Bottom Lounge
May 29 / Detroit, MI / Harpos
May 30 / Buffalo, NY / Town Ballroom
May 31 / Toronto, ON / The Phoenix
Jun 01 / Montreal, QC / Club Soda
Jun 02 / Boston, MA / Royale
Jun 04 / New Haven, CT / Toad’s Place
Jun 05 / Brooklyn, NY / Music Hall of Williamsburg
Jun 06 / Philadelphia, PA / Union Transfer
Jun 07 / Cleveland, OH / Peabodys
Jun 09 / St. Louis, MO / Pops
Jun 11 / Atlanta, GA / Masquerade
Jun 12 / Orlando, FL / Beacham
Not only is The Cemetery an exquisite slab of nasty/fun uber-brutal indie horror — think Cabin Fever via Evil Dead — it also throws extreme music fans a serious bone with a soundtrack featuring a gang of grind n’ blasters including Fleshgod Apocalypse, Gorod, Ulcerate, Circle of Dead Children, Defeatist, The Year of Our Lord, Squash Bowels, and Crowpath.
Decibel recently caught up with Adversary Films executive producer Brian Iglesias, who kindly took a few minutes between making the rounds for the company’s much-praised horror flick Cross Bearer and prepping the animated Korean War epic Chosin to chat about the nexus of gore, metal, and DIY ultra-violence.
The Cemetery brings legit extreme metal into the horror movie mix. It seems like a natural fit, but for whatever reason genre films seem to usually employ some sort of cock rock or nu-metal…
Well, just like there are very different factions within heavy metal, there are very different factions within horror culture. A mainstream horror filmmaker is not going to have the same concept of what is extreme as someone who, like us, comes from an indie horror background and grew up on a steady diet of Evil Dead and Dead Alive. We’re just not going to be as easily impressed by a movie based around a scare tactic or a slick marketing campaign or Anthony Hopkins fighting a possession. So for us [extreme music and horror] is a perfect combination. There is a similar directness and honesty to hardcore and metal — those bands are not playing to get rich or get the girl. They’re playing that music because their internal compass points them toward it and they’re answering that call.
Talk to me a little bit about your own extreme music background.
I’m dating myself here, but I graduated from high school in 1995. For me, from the mid-90s to the early 2000s in heavy music was the equivalent of the Industrial Revolution. My brother had roadied for some local metal bands — hair metal bands; you know, denim jackets, long hair — but it was great hardcore bands like Snapcase, Strife, Sick of it All that really turned me onto this music, and from there I just kept getting into heavier and heavier stuff, my interests kept expanding into other extreme genres.
Does the DIY ethic/approach of the underground metal and hardcore you came up on inform the way you approach filmmaking?
When the Deciblog caught up with GOJIRA frontman/guitarist Joe Duplantier last week, he was clocking up the road miles across Canada on in a tour that’ll see the French progressive/death-ish metal quartet take in the west coast of America before snaking along the south and terminating in New York.
Supporting their fifth album, L’Enfant Sauvage, in the company of The Devin Townsend Project, this tour is especially a big deal for Duplantier; not only should it cement his band’s rep as titans of rhythmically complex, cerebral metal, but it winds up in his home town. Having relocated from Bayonne, France, Duplantier is now a bona-fide New Yorker, and the change of scenery has done him the world of good.
How important was it that you carried on with your U.S. tour after the Lamb of God tour was cancelled when Randy Blythe was detained in the Czech Republic? Did it give you a greater sense of independence? Joe Duplantier: It was very important for us to tour the States at that moment; we had a couple of options, even before this, to tour. We needed to do a headline tour in the US when the album was out. It was really important; the UK, the USA, and France are really our markets, Scandinavia too, so we really felt we needed to do this tour. Then Lamb of God came along with this offer and we really couldn’t turn it down—it would be suicide to go on tour on our own while they were touring. So, yeah, we decided “Yes, let’s do it” and when it got cancelled, just a couple of days before the tour was supposed to kick off, we were like, “Let’s go—let’s do it!” There was no promotion. There were no venues booked. We needed something and we were able to do it pretty easily because now we have a name, people were expecting us to tour anyway so it turned out pretty good. We had to tour in a shitty van with a small crew, because they were just club shows. But we did it and we were glad we did it. It was just the east coast, bits of Canada, Chicago, so the tour we are doing now is the first real headlining tour in the US and it’s a big deal.
And, as I understand it, the tour finishes in Brooklyn, your home town? Joe Duplantier: Yes, exactly! I am pretty excited about that. I have about a million guests on that show!
How does that feel to be a guy whose home town is Brooklyn? does it feel like home?
Joe Duplantier: It does, actually. Y’know, since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by the city, by New York in general. It’s like an explosion of energy, culture and entertainment—there is a lot going on in New York, and so many different people. I live in a building in Brooklyn and it’s full of people from all over the world. I think there are just one or two real Americans; there are people there from all over the world, Puerto Rico, Europe, Asia . . . And I feel really really good because most of these people are away from their families and we stick together; the whole neighbourhood is really friendly, and there is something wild and chaotic that I can’t explain. For me it’s really good. I feel pretty intense inside and I needed some place like that. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but since I moved there, in like a year and a half ago, I really call New York home now. I feel at home, definitely. There is a lot going on, which is really good for me, for my spirit. I call Brooklyn home.
Where would you recommend do go eat in New York? Joe Duplantier: Well I live in Bed-Stuy and that neighbourhood has a reputation for being a little bit shady but I try to dig that neighbourhood because the people are incredible. There are lots of cafes and bars. This neighbourhood is called Fort Greene, and every Saturday morning there is a very nice market where you can get all sorts of things from the farms around New York. There is this place that is right across from my street called Colador Café—I love to hang out at this place
Growing up, I always looked at New York as being this cinematic place—Woody Allen movies and so on—was that the same for you? Joe Duplantier: Absolutely—of course! The first time I went to New York I was 12, and since then, at least once a year, I have spent about a month a year in New York, and I realized that it was not just in movies; New York is a huge scene for a lot of things to happen. There is the Woody Allen aspect, definitely, in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but there are a lot of other aspects that I was not expecting at all—humans, people! The people are really warm and friendly, and get together all the time; there’s a life, a real life, and it’s a little scary when you first get to New York. It’s a little hard, a little cold, and you wonder how you’re gonna make friends, how you’re going to fit, and when it comes it’s really amazing. I grew up in the countryside, and of course I am really close to my home town, to nature, but I kind of needed this. I needed something else, and I am glad I moved on. It was not an easy move but it worked out pretty good.
Does it pose any logistical problems for the band? Joe Duplantier: For the band it’s not a big problem. We get together to compose. I go back to France; they come to New York. We go on tour in the States and we go on tour in Europe: We feel as if we have a base in North America now.
Have you noticed much difference in the lifestyles between Parisians and New Yorkers? Joe Duplantier: The wine is better in Paris, I can say that. And it’s cheaper, too! [laughs] I love Paris. I was born in Paris, and I call Paris home also, but there’s a difference. Things are more relaxed in New York. There are fewer rules. Paris is a little more stiff, in my opinion, while New York is a little more rock ‘n’ roll, a little more relaxed. It’s really easy to accomplish things. If you want to have a business, you can have it in the blink of an eye in New York. It’s a place where you can make arrangements with landlords, that kind of stuff is more flexible. France has a pretty unique situation for social security, and all that kinda stuff. In France, the taxes are kinda high but then the government has your back on a lot of stuff—the roads, the houses, and all that—but in America and New York it’s a little more brutal. I don’t know, for me it’s nice to have a little bit of both.
Do you think this will have an effect on Gojira’s sound or do you think that any influence New York has on your ideas will be diluted by the fact you are always traveling? Joe Duplantier: You’re right, the fact that we are traveling so much affects us much more than me living in New York. By the way, we composed the whole album [L’Enfant Sauvage] in France; I did pre-production in our small practice space in the south of France, away from everything. It’s really remote. The fact that we produced the album in New York, of course, had an influence; the guys were taking the subway every morning, like it had an impact and I am glad we chose New York for that. It added that [energy]. It’s very energetic, and it also influences you, the things you see in the streets. I mean, you see homeless people, high buildings, concrete everywhere, it’s kinda oppressive and hard, like our music; our music needs to be oppressive and hard, so it fits pretty good. But the fact that we travel is the main thing. Our music started to change and get less naïve when we started to tour all over the world, and confront ourselves. That had a huge impact.
Is that when you get most of your ideas, when you are on the road? And not maybe just in the literal sense of hearing the riff in your head, but in terms of knowing what feelings or thoughts you want to express musically? Joe Duplantier: Yes, sometimes, it’s funny. From a certain point of view, yes, from the other, no. It depends how you see it. At least for me, as a singer and a writer, it is crucial, essential; it is the core of everything that is being expressed. You could have the exact same riff in a different context and it’ll sound different. Of course depending on your state of mind and what you want to express generally in your life. For example, me moving to the States was something that I could not avoid. For a long time I wanted to do that, and the fact that I could was just to be close to myself, to my heart. I don’t know why it is New York—it could be Bangkok, India—but it’s me just trying to be me as much as possible. Just like the other guys, like my brother Mario likes to surf with his friends when he has free time, and if he can do that as much as possible it’ll be more powerful and people will get that.
Is that your greatest creative strength, that trust between each other? It’s weird because I can’t think of too many other bands whose principal songwriter could move to the other side of the world and it not really affecting the band. Joe Duplantier: Yes, I think you’re right; it’s very precious. And we have our hard moments, of course, but I’m really glad that our brotherhood is not affected by this crazy life that we have now. There are a lot of tensions; we are on top of each other in a bus, sometimes it’s a van. It’s a hard life but we just get stronger with this because we know how to form the tensions into something positive. We talk a lot. We try to be as respectful as possible—because we’re different. We are part of the same band and stuff but we are still four very different people . . . And I think we love each other, and this is important.
It seems that to survive in this lifestyle it’s important to retain that childlike enthusiasm for touring, for playing music and traveling. Is this the case for you? Joe Duplantier: It’s an interesting question. Sometimes we are tired of touring and sometimes, when it goes well and we have the proper crew and the bus, the enthusiasm comes back really strong, in just one second. But we always have something to hang on to. There is always something that we are very excited about . . . It could even be something like the merch doing well! [laughs] . . . Just one little thing, and it’s like, “Yeah, man! We made a thousand bucks!” It could be anything, but we always always remember our first days when we were nothing to the audience and we didn’t exist; then we were like, “One day we will play with Metallica!” And now we’ve played with Metallica. We’ve always remembered that we are living the dream and, of course, when the dream comes true it is not a dream anymore; it becomes reality and you have to deal with that, and you have to have new dreams. Right now, our new dream is to have a good backline in America. [laughs] Everything is going pretty well. It’s slow. We’ve never had a big explosion and the band is doing well with one song on the radio. We’ve never had that. But it’s going very well, slowly but steadily. It’s a steady progression. This is really, really good for the spirit.
It’s always better to go slow rather than rushing things out—especially rushing material and hurrying an album. That break after The Way of All Flesh, when you were sorting out management, etc. must have done you good. Joe Duplantier: We think a lot when we do something, more than we have in the past. I think that we have a lucky star because we did a lot of things without thinking at all, like, for example, on the first album we didn’t have any record company, management, nothing, and we could have easily have said, “Let’s just give up. We’re playing death metal in the 21st century let’s just give up.” Some people were saying, “Come on, man, you’re singing in English? You’ll never make it in France—give up!” And we never give up. We just worked. But now we have to put more thought into every step we take; the choice of management, the record company . . . Like before signing this deal with Roadrunner, we had the option to go completely independent, to record all our music ourselves and put in on the Internet. We seriously thought about this. We thought a lot. We had about one thousand band meetings and talked on Skype with people. I think we made the right decision. We really need a push from professionals, and even though the music industry is in the shit right now—it’s in the toilet—at least people in the record company and the management know how to promote a band and improve their situation, so we can use that help, definitely. I am glad we made that decision.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Have you been writing? Joe Duplantier:You know, these last couple of months I have been really tense; we have been touring constantly, so, we had two weeks break before this tour and we were trying out best just not to think too much. What we are trying to do right now is to reinforce the crew we have right now and the gear, and the organisation around the band. Even the communication between us and our partners, our management, record company: We are still trying to figure out the best way to communicate and to be more efficient. Right now we are more focused on being a stronger team, well-organised. This is very, very precious to us. But, of course, we have tons of projects. We’ve put them on the side because this album is doing pretty well. We have a lot of shows sold out whereas a couple of years ago we were struggling to fill a small venue. We feel there is something happening for us right now so we just try to stay strong and get stronger; then we will think about all the crazy projects, like having a metal ballad! [laughs] And all that stuff. I cannot even talk about all the projects we have because there are too many of them.
**GOJIRA official web
**L’Enfant Sauvage is out now, order it HERE
**GOJIRA US DATES w/The Devin Townsend Project
Jan. 23 – The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA
Jan. 24 – Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA
Jan. 25 – Henry Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
Jan. 28 – Marquee Theatre – Tempe, AZ
Jan. 29 – Sunshine Theatre – Albuquerque, NM
Jan. 31 – Granada Theatre – Dallas, TX
Feb. 01 – White Rabbit – San Antonio, TX
Feb. 02 – Warehouse Live – Houston, TX
Feb. 04 – State Theater – St. Petersburg, FL
Feb. 05 – The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
Feb. 07 – Rams Head Live – Baltimore, MD
Feb. 08 – Irving Plaza – New York, NY
Feb. 09 – Mr. Smalls – Millvale, PA
Feb. 12 – House of Blues – Chicago, IL
Feb. 13 – Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ON
Feb. 14 – Le National – Montreal, QC
Feb. 15 – The Palladium – Worcester, MA
Feb. 16 – Theater of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
How will the new album, Circle, differ from Beginning of Times? Esa Holopainen: Our producer Peter Tägtgren has brought lot of old school ideology back to band. I guess that we have needed sort of encouragement to go for slightly more extreme sound world. It is more low bass-ed, guitar-oriented and there’s shit load of varieties on Tomi’s vocals.
Sounds like you’re exploring a bit more. Longer, more progressive, and possibly heavier songs? Is this a return to mid-‘90s era Amorphis? Esa Holopainen: [Laughs] This is what people has asked after every album we’ve now done. I wish I could say so, but we have to keep focus on what’s happening today and that’s what counts most. I mean we did some great things in the past and wish to keep that same spirit up in the band, but same time we want to go ahead and take new challenges. I can say that we are highly influenced on what we did and during recording process we did compare to the old albums like Elegy or Tales… I know that Peter is trying to get some of that old shit on the album, so let’s see how he succeeds with this.
How’d you end up with Peter? And why Peter Tägtgren, by the way? You’ve been pretty comfortable with the Finnish dudes—Mikko and Marco—since moving on from Simon. Esa Holopainen: We needed refreshment. Four albums that we’ve done with same team, Marco producing vocals, Mikko mixing the album and recording at the same Sonic Pump Studios was formula that we needed to break down. We sat down last spring and went through with different ideas with different producers and usually the good ideas are much closer than you think. This was the case with Peter. I remember talking with Peter years ago about him producing us or going to his Abyss Studio to record something. We met him at 1994 when we did a tour together with Hypocrisy and been friends since them. Swedes are our neighbors, so we generally get along well with them. He always told that if he would produce us he would come up with this ’70s ideology mixed with the brutality and melodies that we carry.
How many farm animals appear on the new record? Those sheep from the studio report sounded brutal! Esa Holopainen: I think the only animals on the album are six of us in the band. We had a blast in Petrax Studio where we recorded the drums. It’s located in the country side of Finland and is surrounded by a farm. There was nothing else to do that focus on last arrangements and recording. Plus eating and drinking.
Did you record the album in a jam room environment or was it sectioned off by member? Esa Holopainen: Not really no. We had pretty clear structure on most of the songs, but some of the intro parts we came up with [were after] getting stoned and jamming.
OK, what part of the Kalevala will you explore this time? Esa Holopainen: I think Amorphis and the Kalevala are intrinsically tied at this point. We didn’t want to take any particular story out from Kalevala and gave Pekka Kainulainen free mind of coming up with a theme and storyline. The lyrical subject is modern storytelling inspired from the Kalevala. Timeline goes from dusk till dawn and tells about desperate man who gets hope from old spirits.
Just who is Pekka Kainulainen? Esa Holopainen: Pekka is Finnish artist who does performance art, paints, writes poems and besides this he is an art teacher. In his art he uses mythological methods to construct a story. We met him through Tomi Joutsen and really liked his art in every form and started to talk about him writing for Amorphis.
The workrate this time around has been quite quick. One year after Beginning of Times. Are these totally new songs or things you’ve been working on for a while now? Esa Holopainen: These songs we started to rehearse [this past] summer. I started to write first songs in the beginning of 2012. It helps that we have lot of members who write and come up with ideas, so it’s not just one guy who does everything. But once you’re focused on what you do it’s easier to keep up the pace of work and motivation than writing piece of a song and coming back to it a year later.
What do you want fans to walk away with after hearing the new album? Esa Holopainen: Getting new experience and after listening the album having the feeling that they want to share the musical trip again. Today, kids don’t have passion for albums anymore, they want everything fast and immediate. I wish that some kid, blessed with brains would listen the whole album through, getting something from it. Old fans do, I’m pretty sure of that.
Any working titles for songs you can give? Esa Holopainen: Typical, really stupid ones like: “Mehtä” (forest), “Nosestuff” (nose tobacco), “Pelimanne” (gypsy folk player), “7jarko” (seven Jarkkos), etc.
Oh, and what’s the title of the new album? Esa Holopainen: We don’t have title yet but you can call it Stabbing Gypsy Folk Player. [it's called Circle---CD]
** Amorphis’ new album, Circle, is out April 9th on Nuclear Blast Records. “Circle represents integrity. Back in the days, when there was something special to talk about, wise men used to sit in a circle. Not everyone was invited to join them. But in this story, the protagonist was invited among the wise men’s circle,” says Tomi Joutsen. Yeah, that sounds rad.
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…
It is difficult to imagine a more Decibel-friendly premise than the one upon which the digital comic series Satanic Hell is built…
Broke and directionless, the three members of the industrial metal band Satanic Hell arrive in Texas for a chance tour set up by a mysterious promoter named Sam. Death Priest, Dante, and Exodus quickly find trouble in the bizarre world of Texas, now an authoritarian state controlled by a council of religious fanatics.
…and it only gets friendlier as the band cobbles together a Metal Militia in later issues to take on the fanatical Reverend Scudder behind enemy lines.
The first issue of Satanic Hell is currently free through the comic’s official website. A few panel images — requisitioned via Facebook — are below. (Kreator represent!) Satanic Hell also somehow manages to Tweet occasionally from inside the Christodom.
Have you heard? Decibel Magazine just launched its 100th issue! We’ve kinda kept it quiet, only hyping it every other day or so for only the past several months. Turns out we’re hosting a celebration show in Philly this weekend! Who knew? I wonder who will headline…
As this extremely extreme monument edged closer to becoming reality, dB think tank Nick Green came down with a serious case of the good ideas (a chronic condition with that dude): Since EiC Albert Mudrian assures us that he can divine any review’s numerical score from the tone of the review text itself, why not test this claim with a variety of selections from the past 100 issues? Thus was born this exclusive Deciblog special edition Call & Response.
We sent our most beloved extreme music addict six old reviews, identified only by title (with the score and author’s name removed). He responded to them with pithy anecdotes and, in at least one case, without actually reading the review!
The Mars Volta – The Bedlam in Goliath
Score: 3 Author: Brent Burton Published: #42, April 2008
The Mars Volta, it seems, worked on their latest record until it was so full of jazzy, funky, neo-progressive nonsense that it couldn’t hold another note. It is everything against which punk rock was directed. Which is too bad, because these guys are obviously talented, and if 2003 debut De-Loused in the Comatorium is any measure, capable of some interesting songwriting.
On Bedlam in Goliath, however, everything takes a back seat to vocal and instrumental pyrotechnics. The band’s fourth proper full-length is so showy and dense that it’s easy to forget that it contains actual songs. The problem, of course, is that they can’t leave well enough alone. They pile off-kilter rhythms on top of off-kilter rhythms—many of which are performed at breckneck tempos. Guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez treats each song as if it were an opportunity to show off everything he knows. And vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala sings as if he’s paid by the word. Just when you think it can’t get any thicker or
more obtuse, they’ll throw in a swirling synth or a snaky sax. Everything about this record stinks of overindulgence.
It’s easy to imagine these guys hearing one of Miles Davis’ dense jazz-rock albums and thinking, “This would be great if only it were faster and more complex.” But it wouldn’t. It would be impenetrable. It would sound just like The Bedlam in Goliath.
Albert Says: 5. I remember Bonzo dragged me to see them at the Electric Factory in, like, 2005. They were awful, but I was I drunk enough to heckle “’One-Armed Scissor,’ Motherfucker!”
Bring Me the Horizon – Suicide Season
Score: 8 Author: Kirk Miller Published: #50, December 2008
The best moment of this year’s Warped Tour (yes, there were actual best moments) happened in Long Island, when U.K. metal newcomer Bring Me the Horizon found themselves performing on the stage next to pop starlet Katy Perry… or, more specifically, next to the stage where she was just about to perform. Intentionally or not, BMTH cut into the “I Kissed a Girl” singer’s set by a good 10 minutes, encouraging the audience to start a circle pit around the sound tech, eliciting an audience chant of “We will never sleep! Sleep is for the weak!” and, in general, scarring the minds of 13-year-old pop fans forever.
So the guys have energy and sass—do they have chops? Yep. Sure, the whole of Suicide Season leans on familiar hardcore tempos and repeated choruses, making the band’s assault easy to digest; it’s not pop, but it’s certainly on the lighter side of the metalcore spectrum. But the underlying viciousness is ever-present, with “The Comedown” and “Football Season Is Over” sneaking into DevilDriver territory (thanks to vocalist Oli Sykes’ screeches, a vocal tic he otherwise avoids). At their best, the songs are memorable noise, chock full of easy-to-chant choruses, most specifically on “Chelsea Smile” (“Repent! Repent!”) and “Diamonds Aren’t Forever” (the “sleep is for the weak” track).
Admittedly, the screamo closer/title track is, well, “so gay” (to quote Ms. Perry’s other hit), but otherwise, Bring Me the Horizon are a welcome visitor to these shores… and, hopefully, a bad pop concert near you.
Albert Says: 8. This author HAS to be Catherine Yates. She’s the original Kirk Miller of the reviews section.
Jello Biafra with the Melvins – Never Breathe What You Can’t See
Score: 5 Author: J Bennett Published: #2, November 2004
Theoretically, this is one of those records that should, at the very least, be “okay.” But, as much as I’d love to, I just can’t get it up for this one. Honestly? Jello Biafra fronting the Melvins doesn’t really sound like that hot of an idea. I like “Holiday In Cambodia” and “Too Drunk to Fuck” as much as the next snide asshole who was too young to get into the Dead Kennedys before they broke up, but I guess I like my Melvins over here and my Jello Biafra over there. Preferably way over there. With Fred Schneider and Johnny Ramone. But that’s judging a book by its cover, I suppose. It’s when you actually put the album on that the real disappointment starts. Swear to god, on “McGruff the Crime Dog,” Biafra implores us to “take a bite out of crime.” “Wholly Buy Bull” is the kind of Ventures’ carnival music that doesn’t sound good when Mr. Bungle actually pull it off at three times the speed; mid-paced, with Jello’s cartoonish warble railing against “the Evil Empire” (while one can certainly appreciate the similarities between the Reagan and Dubya administrations, something tells me Jello has had this one on the back-burner since the Gipper was running guns out of the Oval Office), it just gets tedious. On the other hand, it is the Melvins, and there is a song about McGruff the Crime Dog. Not to mention another one called “Voted off the Island.” So it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
Albert Says: 5. Pretty sure this is Bennett. He only reviews, 9s, 5s and zeros.
Kittie – Never Again
Score: 8 Author: Andrew Parks Published: #19, May 2006
Anyone else remember when Kittie were hyped on one of MTV’s “You Hear It First” segments? That geek chic blowhard Gideon Yago––or maybe it was the best bald TV personality ever, Matt Pinfield—was all like, “whoa, this Morgan Lander chick can scream and shit!” (Plus, she’s hot in a damaged girl way, said his inner dialogue.) As if it were a revelation that a woman can rock, let alone lead a savage metal quartet with a screaming, screeching single called “Spit.” They’ve lost half their lineup in the decade since (everyone but Lander and sister/drummer Mercedes), but this digital-only EP (download it from iTunes to get all four tracks) props 2006 up as a promising year for the quartet.
A clear teaser, it shows four distinct sides: the Pantera scream/Sabbath stomp/slight guitar solo side (the title track), the Rice Krispie crunchy, melodic modern rock side (“Breathe”), the schizo, Morgan-got-range side (“This Too Shall Pass”), and the sorta soaring power ballad side, with a hefty bottom end and persistent riffage (“Everything That Could Have Been”). Here comes the clichéd pun to cap this review off, then: Kittie have their claws sharpened, so you best watch out for their LP later this year. Meeee-yow! You heard it here first, folks.
Albert Says: 7. Fuck you for making me remember Gideon Yago.
Static-X – Cannibal
Score: 6 Author: Daniel Lukes Published: #31, May 2007
If you ever needed proof that the cliché “any publicity is good publicity” is bullshit, then the vicissitudes of Static-X—never media darlings in the first place—over the last couple of years should suit you fine. What puzzles is that in these days of “nü-metal sucked all along” orthodoxy, they’re still on a major label. Fact is, for anyone who cares to look beyond the big hair, dumb lyrics and “evil disco” shtick—or will admit that we’ll probably find Trivium or Killswitch as mockworthy in five or so years (or even now)—Static-X have always been a pretty decent band, whether grinding out straight-up Prong/White Zombie/Ministry industrial metal, or indulging in Korn/Deadsy-style balladry à la “Cold” or “Just in Case.”
Reports on Cannibal promised a heavier outlook, and in some respects Static-X have noticeably moved with the times. This fifth (!) album not only sounds decidedly thrashier, but is definitely also the least pop-metal they’ve ever been: “No Submission” could almost be a mechanized Deicide. Most notable in their (understandable) desire to appeal to the “we grew up on milk and Maiden” crowd is the fact that Cannibal is plastered with (widdlesomely impressive, actually) solos, courtesy of returning member Koichi Fukuda, who on “Cuts You Up” even sounds like Bill Steer! Those who aren’t ashamed to ’fess up as fans will find moments to enjoy here—the lead-laden Celldweller techno rave part in “Behemoth,” the classic Static-X groove of “Destroyer” that could be right off 2001’s Machine—but there’s also much energy-lacking, uninspired Static-by-rote filler, and on the whole Cannibal tends to smack somewhat of that typical syndrome of bands going for “heavy” over “creative, interesting or different,” as if the two options were mutually exclusive.
Albert Says: 6. This is amazingly prophetic: “Fact is, for anyone who cares to look beyond the big hair, dumb lyrics and “evil disco” shtick—or will admit that we’ll probably find Trivium or Killswitch as mockworthy in five or so years (or even now).”
[Pay close attention to this last review for two reasons: a) the second paragraph might be the best writing in the history of writing; b) the final sentence paired with Mr. Mudrian’s guess give me the giggles, and I see no reason you shouldn’t share in the mirth.]
Pendulum – Immersion
Score: 1 Author: Shane Mehling Published: #77, March 2011
This review was initially written in the span of the first six-and-a-half-minute song. It was like a fugue state that ended with a compendium of insult after insult that picked apart the generic, almost abusive electronica-rock rubbish that was expelling from my speakers. And this was before I heard the vocals.
What can I say about Pendulum’s Immersion that hasn’t been said about shitting your pants in a restaurant? This is the kind of music that you hear in foreign movies and think, “The radio sucks, but at least I’m not in that dance club right now.” I would love to be more erudite, but the bottom line is this is music for stupid babies.
I mean, would I rather listen to modern R&B? Like actually choose to listen to the new record by Maxwell instead? Actually, I think I would. Hell, I’d rather hear a mob of women laugh at my failure to maintain an erection than plow through “Watercolour” again.
The reason I’m not giving Pendulum a zero is because maybe, like certain forms of extreme music, there is a level of skill and taste that I’m just not accustomed to and can’t appreciate. Possibly if someone more versed in the genre pinpointed the highlights and explained why these are revolutionary or awe-inspiring, I’d realize that I just wasn’t giving Immersion a fair shake. But the reason I’m giving it a one is because if I’m wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Albert Says: 2. I’m not confident in that at all. Something tells me we did something dicky with the rating as we are want to do with a writer mentions the number in the body of the review. Also, is this Frank?