Decibel’s 100th Issue Show: The Movie Trailer

By: mr ed Posted in: featured, videos On: Thursday, September 12th, 2013

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January 19: a momentous day for America. In 1982, it gave its citizenry Jodie Sweetin, Full House’s preeminent meth fiend. In 2013, a slight upgrade: Decibel Magazine’s 100th Issue Show at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer, starring Converge, Pig Destroyer, Repulsion, Municipal Waste, Tombs, Evoken and a who’s-who of extreme music luminaries. We teamed up with director David Hall (the man behind multiple Maryland Deathfest films) to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event, and are just about ready to unveil it in the form of our first-ever concert DVD. Getcha popcorn ready. (And meth.)

Decibel’s 100th Issue Show: The Movie will be available exclusively at store.decibelmagazine.com on November 1. It will be a highly limited affair: just 1,000 copies. If you’re currently keeping it weird in or around Austin, TX, you’ll get a chance to preview the film in its entirety, as it’s making its world premiere at Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Horror Film Festival, running October 24 – 27. Otherwise, be sure to snap up the hard copy after Halloween—the DVD will include hours of ridiculously awesome bonus footage—perhaps most entertainingly, a ribald commentary track from Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste and Scott Hull, Blake Harrison and J.R. Hayes of Pig Destroyer.

So, without further ado, it gives us great pleasure to bring you the initial teaser trailer, with plenty of ripping grindcore, doom, thrash and, yes, Kevin Stewart-Panko ’tude.

Gabbing with Matt Harvey, the one from Exhumed

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews, uncategorized On: Thursday, September 12th, 2013

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Tell your average schmoe on the street that you’re doing an interview with Matt Harvey and they’ll probably think the topics of conversation are set to include pitch selection, what it’s like having Andrew Bonazelli as a stalker and season ending surgery. What automatically comes to mind when you mention the name Matt Harvey to the denizens of Decibel are getting wasted and being hungover because you got too wasted. Or not hungover enough because you didn’t get wasted enough. Oh yeah, there might be something about Harv’s long time pet project, Exhumed and a little about the new album they released recently entitled Necrocracy, but mostly your first thoughts would turn to getting shit-faced and nerding out about death metal and grindcore into the early hours. We caught up with Harv via email and keystroked him mostly about stuff he probably he didn’t want to talk about.

How does a band that spent the majority of two years on the road, that went through a significant membership change at about the halfway point of all that and have members living in different towns across the country manage to write and record a new album amongst all the chaos?
Well, the record was written in fits and starts, between tours and whatnot. I had a bit of a leg up though, as songs like “The Shape Of Deaths To Come” and “Ravening” I had already started working on during the All Guts… sessions, so that helped. Also, having played “As Hammer to Anvil” a couple hundred times by the time we started writing in earnest, it was a good incentive to write some new shit and break up the monotony. All the live shows really convinced me that what the last album really lacked was any kind of slower, heavier groove stuff, so I knew early on that I wanted to incorporate more of that kind of shit into Necrocracy. I mostly put together skeletons of songs myself, and then showed the guys really rough demos, some of them were just MIDI demos because my little pod that I use for home recording broke at the beginning of the writing process. And as far as Bud coming back into the fold, if anything it made it smoother, just because he and I are really on the same page, having known each other for years, and played guitar together in Scarecrow as well. I’m always writing, and once the first couple of songs, in this case the title track and “Shape…”, were hammered out, the momentum gathered pretty quickly. Having to write around our tour schedule is something that I think helps the songs really stand out from one another this time around – since they weren’t all written in one continuous go like on the last one. The core of the band has always been rhythm guitar and drums, and Mike [Hamilton, drums] and I live really close by, so could rehearse and bounce ideas off of each other. Regardless of the line-up, we’ve always kind of used the “Metallica” process, rhythm guitar and drums first and then bring in the other guys and build around that. AGNG was kind of the exception in the catalog. The process worked well for that record, but the dynamic is different this time around, and it worked also, in fact I think it worked better. Rob [Babcock, bass/vocals] came up right before the recording started and we had a cram session going for 10 days or so, hammering shit out and adding all the little clever bits and such. We ended up writing “The Rotting” during that time, as well as the bonus track “Chewed Up, Spit Out.”

What was the writing process like this time around? Was it anything like you’ve experienced or embarked upon in the past? Is doing things differently something you try to do in order to keep things fresh or are you simply playing with the hand you’ve been dealt?
It’s more just playing the hand we’ve been dealt. Things tend to come together pretty organically at this point. Mike and Rob did almost the entire All Guts… tour cycle with the band, so we have a really good chemistry, personally and musically, and that helped the rhythm section come out quite a bit more on this one, which I thought was important. The bass on most of our albums has ended up being more of an afterthought, which I really wanted to remedy. [Guitar/vocals] Bud [Burke] ended up coming into the studio and hearing some of the material for the first time, and we worked out a lot of stuff on the fly, which was cool. Because we were so under-rehearsed – even for us – a lot of the ideas on the record, fills, transitions, that kind of stuff, were really spontaneous and fresh. It was a cool contrast to so much death metal that you hear that sounds so calculated and contrived. The songs being a little slower also allowed a little more breathing room for stuff to happen. We also worked out a lot of harmonies and stuff in the recording studio, simply because we hadn’t played the songs with two guitars yet in the rehearsal room, so that was fun and ended up bringing some unexpected challenges and pleasant surprises. The best thing was that we had a bit more studio time, which allowed us to try more ideas, be a little more thorough with the vocals, and even put together the outro bonus track “E Pluribus Mortem” and the bonus track “Go For The Throat” while we were recording. That was new, we’ve never written a song in the recording studio before – we’ve never had time!

What did the new members bring to the recording process that you expected of them? Did they surprise you by bringing anything you didn’t expect them to?
I think the main thing was just having more of a proper “band” dynamic. Having spent a lot of time on the road together and playing tons of shows, even though we didn’t spend months in the jam room working on the material, we’re all so used to playing with each other and working together on the fly that things were able to move really fast once we finally started working on the material. Mike is more of a “feet” drummer than [ex-drummer] Danny [Walker], who’s more of a “hand” guy, so we worked in a few more double kick sections where the kick drums get to helicopter speed, and just having a dedicated bass player made me really want to hear the fucking bass for once on one of our records. One thing that was unexpected was getting to hear the rhythm section lock in a bit on some of the slower bits, the bass guitar matching the bass drum, standard rock band stuff, but unusual for us, which was nice. Bud ended up stepping in and doing some vocal sections on the fly which was a definite serendipity and added a nice layer or gurgle to a bunch of stuff.

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How would you say Necrocracy differs from the rest of the Exhumed discography? More specifically, All Guts, No Glory seeing as these are the two records to come out after you got the band back together?
I think it’s kind of the South of Heaven to AGNG’s Reign In Blood - it’s definitely our slowest overall record so far, with a bit more melody than some of our stuff, but there’s still plenty of aggression and blasting as well. I think the songs stick out from one another more than ever, which was really important to us. I think it’s kind of a reaction to the last album, which was all about being unrelenting and just being a total “fuck you” kind of record – this one is a bit more churning and heavier, also a little darker and rawer. The last one was kind of a wall of sound, like Fleming Rasmussen mix, and this one is more of a Rick Rubin-type mix with a bit more separation between the instruments and stuff. I’m really happy with both of them and I think they’re both distinctly different from each other.

Over the last couple albums, you’ve started to implement deeper meanings to your lyrics while still having them appear to be gore-based on the surface. Necrocracy seems to take that a step further. Is there a broader theme to the album? What’s the meaning/significance of the album’s title and how is the artwork related to the entire she-bang?
Yeah, this one definitely has a lot of political underpinnings. The Presidential election was in full swing the whole time I was writing, and that really kind of inspired the whole direction of the lyrics. Everything is still filtered through the gore metaphor and stuff, so it’s not like a Dropdead album or anything, but there is a political theme running through most of the songs. It’s very anti-corporate, anti-consumerism, that kind of stuff. The system in America is just entering a very corrupt phase, a lot like the robber baron-era in the late 1800s and early 1900s – it’s freedom for the strong to extort the weak, and the weak are bought off incredibly cheaply, happy to dig their own graves on a steady diet of infotainment, fast food and reality TV. Hopefully we’ll have a reawakening like the early 20th century labor movement again and restore some kind of balance between the ultra-rich and the ultra-poor. So basically I touch on a lot of that kind of stuff, but by singing about blood and guts, haha!

Musically, there seems to be a greater incorporation of traditional metal and thrashier themes. Yes? No? Maybe so? I also quite enjoyed the rampant use of dissonant fourth or fifth or whatever-the-fuck-they-are chords in some of the choruses – it’s like Megadeth meeting something that doesn’t suck. Was there anything that you went into this album deliberately wanting to do, do differently or experiment? Any mistakes you wanted to avoid?
I just wanted to incorporate more groove. Usually the better our production, or the slower our songs, the more people recognize the trad-metal influences, simply because they’re not blowing by at a million miles an hour under a heaving layer of grime. When it comes to metal, I’m much more likely to be listening to Armored Saint or Tank than Regurgitate or Pungent Stench, although I love all those bands. Especially constantly touring with death metal and grind bands, it’s hard to really want to hear too much of that. I personally love songs with good melodies, catchy choruses and good arrangements, whether they’re by Metallica or Magrudergrind or Chicago. I listen to all sorts of stuff, so even when we’re being as “brutal” as possible, there’s still a sense of song in there – hopefully. I just wanted to avoid repeating the last album, avoid playing it too safe and just blasting our way through stuff – having some trust and belief in the material to let things repeat and stretch out arrangement wise and just trust in the riff.

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How quickly/smoothly did the recording process go? Or was it a protracted mess filled with computer crashes and triple-digit takes? What happened to the short grind songs you mentioned you wrote on the spot? Are they being saved for future EPs or whatever?
The process was pretty smooth – we used the same studios that we recorded All Guts at, so it was very familiar. We did the drums in four days, which allowed us to work out an outro that is on the vinyl version, as well as a short grinder called “Go For The Throat” and an intro that we ended up scrapping. But just having the time to do that is a huge change in the right direction for us. John at Trench and Ryan at Arcane are friends of ours, and they know what we want. About 2/3 of the way through the work in Arizona (where we tracked guitars, bass, and vocals) we took off to Japan for three shows with Cannibal Corpse which was amazing. Totally worth going to rehearse for two hours after tracking for nine during the day. We just stayed in an extended-stay America hotel for the time in Arizona, bought groceries and cooked at the studio. Again, I got to watch Giants post-season baseball, we were on the road with Municipal Waste and Napalm Death in Connecticut when they won the world series (yes!!!) and read tons of Ryan’s comics, so that always makes any down time enjoyable. The two short grind tracks, “Go For The Throat” and “Chewed Up, Spit Out” will be bonus tracks, along with “Not Yet Dead Enough” which just didn’t fit on the album time-wise and the aforementioned outro. So the die-hard necromaniacs will have some cool extra goodies if they want to go for the fancy schmancy versions of the record.

Given that Exhumed has gone through many years and many incarnations, how would you characterise present-day Exhumed versus the various versions of the band in the past?
This is definitely the best line-up we’ve ever had, not just in terms of playing but in terms of work ethic, attitude, and just being on the same page. I can’t imagine any other line-up going out and playing 200 shows a year the way we do at this stage in the game. There would have been a lot of punch-ups and weird shit going on- but now, the worst thing that happens on tour are the hangovers!

Stay abreast with all of Exhumed’s road dogging lunacy and urethra-loosening drunkenness at: www.facebook.com/ExhumedOfficial

VIDEO: Carvin’s Shreds of Insanity

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, videos On: Thursday, September 12th, 2013

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I assume there are some fans of guitar shred reading this, because this is a metal website on the Internet. Well, today’s your lucky day! Century Media gathered four pretty killer shredders with long, flowing locks at the Carvin store in Hollywood on August 26 to allow them to show off their skills, jam together, and answer questions from their fans. It was originally supposed to be a competition, but let’s be honest – shredding is its own reward. Jake Dreyer of WHITE WIZZARD, Parker Jameson of STARKILL, Dave Silver of SAVAGE MESSIAH, and Rick Di Marco of DEATH DIVISION all prove that they know their way around a fretboard and that they’ve all watched G3 concert videos way more than any human being probably should. Check out the 40 minute video below to see the entire event; for punk rock fans, it’s basically a vision of hell, but if you’re into Yngwie, Satriani, or Petrucci, this is six string Valhalla. It also provides definitive proof that guitar heroes should probably rely on other people for their vocals.

DEATH DIVISION: https://www.facebook.com/DeathDivision

SAVAGE MESSIAH: http://www.facebook.com/SavageMessiahMetal

STARKILL: http://www.facebook.com/StarkillOfficial

WHITE WIZZARD: http://www.facebook.com/WhiteWizzard

STREAMING: The Ruins of Beverast “Blood Vaults”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

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The last time we spoke to black metal pontificator Alexander von Meilenwald he had the following to say about The Ruins of Beverast’s origins: “I didn’t define any concrete goals in the beginning, to be honest. The Ruins Of Beverast were established rather spontaneously when I felt the need to express new musical urges that haunted me for some time in the early years of the new millennium. That was not preceded by any conceptual thoughts or ideas. Yet, when making music it has always been my goal to draw a musical picture and evolve eerie and surreal atmospheres more than to create a sequence of guitar riffs or follow a certain style. The concentration on ghastly sceneries is made easier for me now when working alone, because the atmosphere of the songs is way more homogeneous than it was in my previous band, where we always had to compromise.”

Well, as it was with previous albums—specifically 2009′s blindingly good Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite full-length—The Ruins of Beverast’s new album, Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer (Cryptae Sanguinum – Evangelium Flagrans Henrici Institoris), is one of haunting images, surreal atmospheres, and eerie themes fit for a Lovecraft novel or a real-life movie about the horrors and atrocities of the Church. Von Meilenwald’s creativity knows no bounds on Blood Vaults. From “Daemon” to “Spires, the Wailing City” and “Trial” to “Monument,” Blood Vaults is an effort of stupendous conviction and vision. The icing on the cake is the Church-choir degeneration treatment in “Malefica.” It’s clear The Ruins of Beverast lead-priest has no affinity for the Church or its teachings.

It’s an absolute honor to be able to stream the entire Blood Vaults. Bow down! It’s time to worship not on Sunday but on Humpday.

** The Ruins of Beverast’s new album, Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer (Cryptae Sanguinum – Evangelium Flagrans Henrici Institoris), is out NOW on Ván Records. It’s available HERE in a few kick-ass configurations on vinyl and CD. Like double blue vinyl with bronze hot-foil embossing or a CD with bronze hot-foil embossing with a hardcover. Yeah, we want them all!

Decibrity Playlist: Primitive Man

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

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The dudes in Primitive Man spent much of the summer on the road in support of their debut, Scorn. Like any other touring band, the Denver trio–which features drummer Isidro “Spy” Soto, vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy and bassist Jonathan Campos–has a batch of go-to tunes when it comes time to traverse the good ol’ U.S. of A that they were kind enough to share with us (even broken out by band member). As McCarthy tells us, “This is a list of songs that we jammed on our previous tour. It is full of ups and downs, similar to being out on the road. But when things are bad, it helps to light the weed, hit the music and remember how much you love doing this shit.” As we’ve come to see from the likes of Anciients, Intronaut, BATILLUS and, one of my personal favorites in this series, Kowloon Walled City, the soundtrack to touring is usually a pretty diverse one–Primitive Man’s is no exception. They even listen to audiobooks for crissakes.

Feel free to listen along here and pick up a copy of Scorn here.

Ethan’s picks:

Corrupted–El Mundo Frio (2005)
The only time I ever have an entire hour to devote to listening to this song is when I’m on tour. So it’s kind of a ritual for me. It’s good for drives when everyone else is asleep. Corrupted might be the heaviest band in the universe in my opinion.

Anything by Curren$y
This is a good way to start an early morning drive. Wake up, smoke up, gas up, ride out to the next city.

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Slowdive–Souvlaki (1993)
I really like the atmosphere of this record. Super depressed and spaced out.

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Anything by Crowbar 2005 and earlier
No one knows pain like Kirk.

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Mournful Congregation–The Book Of Kings (2011)
So crushing and sad sounding. The songs are extremely well written and I haven’t put it down since they toured the U.S. in 2012.

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Anything by the band In Disgust
The songs on their split with P.L.F. are devastating.

Spy’s picks:

Christopher Hitchens–God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007)
Late at night after shows I don’t want to hear anything super loud and crazy. I’d rather listen to something informative that shares my beliefs and views on religion and politics.

George Carlin–You Are All Diseased (1999)
George Carlin is the motherfucking truth.

Jon’s picks:

True Widow–True Widow (2008)
I like this record because it’s really sad and really happy at the same time. Like touring.

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Young Roddy–Good Sense 2 (2013)
This record is about the come up. And we’re on the come up.

Knelt Rote–Trespass (2012)
Because it is super fucking evil and super fucking amazing.

*Order a copy of Scorn here.

**Catch Primitive Man on tour on the following October dates:

13th – Kansas City, MO @ The Sandbox
14th – Madison, WI @ The Vault
15th – Pittsburgh, PA @ Gooski’s
16th – Philadelphia, PA @ The Millcreek Tavern
17th – NYC, NY @ TBA
18th – York, PA @ The Depot
19th – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
20th – Louisville, KY @ Haymarket Whiskey Bar
21st – St. Louis, MO @ TBA

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

Past entries include:

Gorguts
Exhumed
Ulcerate
Pelican
Scale The Summit
Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Mouth Of The Architect
Howl
Kings Destroy
Zozobra
Call of the Void
Saint Vitus Bar
Coliseum
Woe
Anciients
Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) (Björn Strid)
Intronaut
BATILLUS
Inter Arma
Helen Money
Misery Index
Ancient VVisdom
Holy Grail
Rotten Sound
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Early Graves
All That Remains
Bison B.C.
A Life Once Lost
Fight Amp
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Grave
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Dawnbringer
Ufomammut
Shadows Fall
Horseback
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Torche
“Best of” Meshuggah
Astra
Pallbearer
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)

STREAMING: Vulture Industries “Lost Among Liars”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen, videos On: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

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If you were to ask Vulture Industries’ main-brain Bjørnar Nilsen where inspiration comes from, he’d probably say this: “We draw inspiration from all over but tend to give each part a good kick in the side to bend it a bit out of shape. If you draw a hexagon and put Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Devil Doll, ‘70s Alice Cooper, Mastodon and Screaming Jay Hawkins in each corner, you’d find us in the middle. (thanks Lords of Metal)”

Nick Cave and Mastodon in the same sentence? Screaming Jay Hawkins and ‘70s Alice Cooper also in the same sentence? Well, yes. Vulture Industries are Norwegian after all. And Norwegian “metal” acts have had a long history of doing things, well, the Norwegian way. They’re either strange as the night is long on the Winter Solstice or remarkably difficult to follow from a modern song construct perspective. That is to say, if you liked Arcturus, Solefald, Ved Buens Ende, Frantic Bleep, Madder Mortem, and a host of oddities calling Fjordland home, well, Vulture Industries should probably be on your target list.

After two full-lengths on label Dark Essence, the Vulture-dudes have jumped ship over to Season of Mist. A fitting home, really. Arcturus, Carnival in Coal, and host of oddbirds frantically pulling from genres disparate are now labelmates to Norway’s latest screwballs. Still onboard? Good. Check out this lyric video courtesy of Vulture Industries.

** Vulture Industries’ new album, The Tower, is out soon on Season of Mist. It’s available HERE for pre-order in lots of pretty colored—money green, white and black—vinyl, as a CD, and as a t-shirt. No combos though. Yet. You’ll have to play Killer Instinct to get the ultra-combos. Wait, where’d that come from? Let’s blame Nilsen for that non sequitur.

Empty Flowers Song Premiere/Track By Track

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen, lists On: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

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So Randy Larsen and Bernie Romanowski from long-running noisecore antiheroes Cable launched a new project a little while back called Empty Flowers to explore 90s-style smart, seething gut-punch post-hardcore. And the mix actually works! Really fucking well! The band’s debut, Six, created some impressive atmospheres and undercurrents, but the sophomore release Five sees Empty Flowers truly hitting its stride, finding the sweet spot between angular, dynamic riffs and rhythms — think Unwound, Slint, Hoover, etc — and a kind of old school Superchunk clanging pop sensibility. Add to this solid, diverse vocals that range from punk rock shouts to Guy Picciotto-esque abandon to — especially on the track “Car Fires” — a Geoff-Farina-not-Ralph-Macchio Karate-like brooding croon, and you’ve got a pretty damn compelling aural journey on your hands.

Check out our exclusive premiere of the song “The Water” along with a full album track-by-track elucidation below. Other samples are available at the Empty Flowers Bandcamp.

“Five”

Christian McKenna/vocals: One of the last tunes written for the record. I like how the first part is pushed to its limit. We do not get together or practice very often. When we ran through some tunes in Randy’s basement before our first gig to open for the mighty Red Hare this past May everything sounded like dog crap. I just remember thinking, “So this is how it’s going to go down?” We opened the show with “Five” and when we hit that first transition I knew we were going to be okay. We ended up having a great time and Red Hare blew our minds.

“I Get to Know Its Name”

INTERVIEW: Bill Steer of Carcass

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, September 9th, 2013

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There are a lot of hooks on Surgical Steel, but that has always been the case with Carcass; no matter how brutal it gets, it’s always hummable. Has that been deliberate?
“Well yeah, I’m glad you think that. Yes some of the music is difficult to the untrained listener but we do wanna have hooks; they are just not hooks in the accepted commercial sense. I’ve always maintained that just because we are doing music that is very aggressive and intense it doesn’t mean it can’t have its own kind of beauty. Some people would probably maintain that it is not melodic because the vocals are shouted but, of course, with style of music it is more like the guitars are carrying the melody and the vocals are almost like another percussive angle.”

Niklas Sundin (Dark Tranquillity) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, September 9th, 2013

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** Niklas Sundin and I first interviewed back in ’93 after the release of Skydancer. Well, this year Skydancer, Dark Tranquillity’s stunning debut album, turns 20. To honor how time has been kind to this stellar release, Niklas agreed to answer a few nifty questions. More importantly, Dark Tranquillity have acquired the rights to both Skydancer and its companion EP, Of Chaos and Eternal Night, and are in process of properly reissuing the titles. A remastered Skydancer—different from the Skydancer reissue from 2000—is available for streaming on the group’s Bandcamp site. Click HERE.

20 years?! Where has time gone, Niklas?
Niklas Sundin: You tell me! [Laughs] I seriously have no idea what happened…

You’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of Skydancer by putting out new versions. Tell us about what you’re doing.
Niklas Sundin: Well, it started by accidentally discovering that we had the option of getting back the rights to the Skydancer album and Of Chaos and Eternal Night MCD. None of those albums had been (legally) available digitally for years, and the physical releases were also out of print, so we seized the opportunity to finally get to own our own music. The songs were remastered some weeks ago and are now available in true DIY style on our Bandcamp page (darktranquillity.bandcamp.com). Proper CD/LP versions will follow shortly, and everything should also be available on Spotify, iTunes and so forth before the end of the month.

How does the 20th anniversary edition differ from the re-release in 2000?
Niklas Sundin: The album is properly remastered this time, which wasn’t really the case with the 2000 edition. The production was always the weak point of Skydancer, and while there are limits to what one can do without access to the separate instrument tracks, everything sounds much better now. The album is so old that there wasn’t even any proper mastering done the first time around; all songs had a different output volume and are sonically very incoherent. In addition, the layouts will be different, though I haven’t fully decided what to do yet. Before the Spinefarm deal came along, there were plans of releasing the album through Necropolis Records under the title In the Golden Dawn of Winter, and I made some illustrations for that for that before we decided to use a photographic cover instead. Maybe those will find their way to the re-release. Either way, I want to keep it authentic and have it look like something that actually could have been released back then and not anything modern.

What label is putting out the reissues?
Niklas Sundin: I probably shouldn’t say anything publicly before the deal is signed, but it’s pretty much the label that one would expect.

When we interviewed back in ’93, it was done by mail. I know you’re a proponent of technology, but ever thought about doing one last interview by mail? Hand-written and all.
Niklas Sundin: Nah…there was something very appealing about the process of slowly putting pen to paper to write something and then sending it away to a remote country in an envelope with glued stamps, and in a way I like the fact that it required so much more work and devotion compared to just hitting “send” on the computer, but everything has its time and place. The early tape-trading scene kind of lent itself to that sort of super-analog communication, but it’d be hard to go back from the convenience of e-mail. But I do think that it’s great to see that there are counter movements to the technology boom: Labels releasing music solely on cassettes, bands recording music on 4-track recorders and writers going back to pen and paper in order to make their creative work less of a mechanical process. Too many options and too much comfort can be a bad thing sometimes, and a lot of individuality can get lost when everyone is using the same tools.

Skydancer was a revelation. It sounded so different from everything else at the time. The songs, the vocals, the lyrics, the cover art, the production. What do you remember about putting Skydancer together?
Niklas Sundin: Complete panic! [Laughs] We were well prepared and had rehearsed like madmen, but studio recordings back then were always stressful. Our budget only allowed for ten studio days for recording and mixing, so there wasn’t any time to fine-tune things, and we often had to use first takes even if they weren’t perfect. There was a good idea of we wanted to accomplish, but we lacked the studio knowledge to communicate it to the engineers, who in turn were clueless about extreme metal, so there were lots of tension and misunderstandings. Other than the studio frustration, which I’m sure that anyone recording an underground metal album in the early ’90s can relate to, the whole process was very creative and smooth. There was a real sense of excitement throughout the songwriting process, and it felt like we really were onto something new and original that we needed to capture on tape and let people listen to as soon as possible.

What’s your favorite tune on Skydancer? I think from day one to present, mine’s always been “A Bolt of Blazing Gold.” But I gotta say “Skywards” is creeping in close second.
Niklas Sundin: “Skywards” (listen HERE) should have been my fave pick, and it’s the most technically accomplished song, but the guitars are way too quiet in the mix which always ruined it for me. We somehow moved the guitar channel sliders on the mixing board too low much during the mix-down, and there wasn’t any time to make a new attempt. So, I’d go for the frantic “Nightfall by the Shore of Time” (listen HERE) as my fave. Our only space-themed track, with a title borrowed from the inner sleeve photo of Bathory’s Hammerheart LP.

What were you thinking with the lyrics? I know Sabbat was a personal inspiration, but each song is crammed with words, phrases and pictures. Like “My Faeryland Forgotten” is only 4.5 minutes long but it has 15 pages of lyrics.
Niklas Sundin: Sabbat was the main influence for sure; from Martin Walkyier we got the inspiration to write lengthy and epic lyrics and to feature vocals on almost every riff. Phlegethon from Finland was also a band whose lyrics we approved of. In retrospect, it’s weird how a bunch of kids from suburban Sweden would chose to go for that kind of meticulously crafted verse in archaic English, but both me and Mikael were bookworms back then, and at the time we were fixated on the idea of creating something larger than life—a band that would be a world in itself and represent something bigger than just mere music. It was all very over-the-top, extremely pretentious, and in many ways hard to relate to when being twice as old, but I’m honestly pretty impressed by what we managed to came up with as teenagers. I never could write lyrics with that kind of flow and complexity today.

Do you remember how it was received? Distribution was pretty poor, considering it was one of Spinefarm’s earliest releases.
Niklas Sundin: Yes, Spinefarm was mainly a distribution company back then, and I think that they only had released Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon and North from Here by Sentenced prior to our album. Nevertheless, Skydancer found its way to a lot of unlikely places. We were avid tape-traders back then and would put the album on Side B on every cassette we sent out, meaning that several hundred people heard it that way and then spread it even further. The response was overwhelmingly good – out of the very many reviews we read, only Close-up magazine from Sweden was negative (much to our disdain, since this was the magazine that everyone knew back home). The first version of our website had an archive with lots of ‘zine reviews for the early albums, but unfortunately those files are long lost. Otherwise it’d be a nice addition to the reissue layout.

Decibel inducted The Gallery into the Hall of Fame back in 2010. Think we made the right choice or should we have gone with Skydancer?
Niklas Sundin: No, The Gallery had more impact, so it was the right choice. Skydancer is more unique, but its weirdness and eccentricity always made it more of an acquired taste rather than a breakthrough release. But there still are a lot of people that consider it to be our best album, just as there are people that prefer At the Gates’ The Red in the Sky is Ours to their later releases. Of course those records are very different from each other, but what they have in common is that they’re wildly experimental debut albums that were followed by more controlled and streamlined records.

Any chance a Skydancer tune could end up in setlists for 2013?
Niklas Sundin: We’ll see. It has to be for the right reasons and we have to be able to do the music justice in a way that the 17-year old us would have approved of. Much of the charm of those songs lies in the fact that we’re playing a bit over our real abilities and that the music sometimes is on the verge of falling apart. Tempos go up and down, and the tremolo picking isn’t always supposed to be very precise or logical, so in a way it’s the opposite of what we’re doing these days. I think that if one looks beyond the nostalgia factor, it doesn’t always work when veteran bands perform their early material live. Everyone is used to the looseness of the original recordings, so a technically improved and tighter live performance can sometimes take away the magic.

** Dark Tranquillity’s Skydancer will be available on CD and LP in the near future on an as-yet-determined record label (prediction: Century Media). Until then you can buy the album for a mere 7E digitally or stream it for free. We hope you pick the former over the latter. Click HERE.

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

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, September 6th, 2013

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It’s been awhile, so let’s get into it, shall we?

GORGUTS are back at it with Colored Sands, and lemme tell ya, it’s REALLY good. All the elements are there: death metal, tech metal, and there are some downright pretty moments. I mean, one can’t really touch some of the older chapters of this legendary band, but this thing moves, it shifts. Not only does it not sound like a pale facsimile of themselves, but LeMay’s compositions really stand out. The performances on this are phenomenal, not that one wouldn’t expect that with Marston, Hufnagel and Longstreth holding it all down. This is spacious and dense at the same time, and the production is slick, but it really lends to the overall feel of this record. The riffs are light and proggy, but when they dig in, they really dig in. Fans of this band will be thrilled, and there will be a ton of new fans to follow suit. The one thing that really leaves me scratching my beak here is the lyrical theme, which is tight, but I’m not too sure what’s going on. I mean, I get that it’s a comment on Tibetan culture, but this birdbrain is not too sure what that means. Although, that’s not really their fault, is it? 8 Fucking Pecks.

MINISTRY From Beer to Eternity: I’m just going to review this one without even listening to it. Hey, remember The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste? Or The Land of Rape and Honey? Or even Twitch? Those were great records. Again, I haven’t heard this one, but it’s a disappointment. But hey, that’s cool: Jourgensen is doing his thing, and that’s pretty admirable. You know the deal: samples (yech), drum machine, buzzsaw guitars and processed vocals. It’s okay for a record I’ve never even heard. Horrible title, though. 5 Fucking Pecks.

I’d like to talk about the passing of a dear friend on August 23: Joey LaCaze, better known as the drummer for the legendary EyeHateGod. A lot of drummers can’t play in the pocket like Joey did, and he was a great guy to be around, always having a good time and trying to make you laugh. Our regards to the boys in EHG. RIP to an all-around great guy and amazing talent. (EyeHate)Godspeed, my man.

‘Til next time, Waldo out, squawk.