EXCLUSIVE: Godflesh clip from Maryland Deathfest: The Movie III

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, videos On: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

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There’s no introductory preamble necessary for this clip from Maryland Deathfest: The Movie III. You all know that Maryland Deathfest is an obligatory pilgrimage for any self-respecting blastbeat-worshipping Decibangers. And Godflesh are, well Godflesh: The marriage of riff to machine, the sound of urban alienation, of a dead city collapsing in on itself, et cetera.

But here’s one anyway from director David Hall to set the scene:

“As the last band of MDF IX exited the stage, I started to hear the rumors. It was Sunday night at MDF IX, and Ghost (back then they didn’t carry the BC) had just finished entertaining a packed house with their first North American gig. And amidst the swishing robes of the unnamed ghouls came the whispers “Godflesh.” That’s how rabid MDF attendees are: after four days of 50 plus bands crammed up their cake holes they wanna know what’s in store for next year. You invariably hear personal wish-lists of bands to see and MDF faves, and “wouldn’t-it-be-amazing-ifs” but the name I kept hearing from reliable sources was “Godflesh.”

(I think it’s a testament to how much Ryan and Evan lock shit right the fuck down: they know who’s playing a good year in advance.)

Fast forward twelve months. MDF X. I’m standing in the Sonar again downing Maker’s Mark with Steve Austin in a hot-as-fuck Baltimore. I remember walking outside about half-an-hour before Godflesh were about to start and being shocked at how packed the crowd was. The bodies stretched from the front of the stage almost all the way back to the other stage across compound. It was a mass of sweaty, black shirted bodies. I did a quick check of the crew and then carved myself a spot to bear witness.

I don’t remember every song Godflesh played and I can’t remember how long they played for, but from the moment they started to the last squelched-out note of the set, I, and roughly 3000 other people, got lost inside the raw beauty, emotional sting and overall gravitas of Justin Broadrick’s music and words. Godflesh’s set was easily one of my favorite performances of the festival.

Huge props to the film and audio crew – I think they captured the moment perfectly.

*fun fact: if you watch closely you’ll see Steve Austin at the front of the stage losing his shit to the music accordingly.”

Godflesh “Streetcleaner” – live at MDF X, from Maryland Deathfest: The Movie III

**Maryland Deathfest: The Movie III can be ordered here for a miserly $13.00. Order before June 1st and receive a download link to the audio soundtrack and free shipping.**

Decibel’s Top 5 Doom Metal Logos

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, lists On: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

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5. Saint Vitus. Crosses galore on the second Vitus logo. Three of them. For the Trinity perhaps. The original SVS logo only had one. Three’s a crowd, we say. But this logo is boss. Looks a bit cheap and overdone at first blush, but the barbed letters? Could be heavy metal cliché. Nope. Crown of thorns symbolism. Crosses that dot the two “I” letters? Could be just crosses. Nope. Candle flames. The gigantic “V” with the cross in it? Sacred feminine cock block. We made the last bit up, but you never know. The logo’s still in use today.

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4. Cathedral experimented with a few fonts before settling on this one. But it’s not the Celtic font alone that makes this one a winner. It’s the Celtic font AND mermaid crest. First on the In Memorium in 1990, the logo and crest combo reappeared on 1992’s Soul Sacrifice EP. Together, they harmonize something archaic, stately yet forlorn. Grace in decay. Cathedral continues to use this logo—though if you have the U.S. version of Supernatural Birth Machine you’ll get the band-disapproved ‘stoner rock’ logo—in various widths. They even updated it for The Last Spire album art. Not as cool as the original, but we still like the Cathedral logo because it’s simple yet it conveys so much.

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3. Pentagram. Most ‘70s-era proto-dooomsters or doomsters didn’t experiment too much with logos. Black Sabbath had a different logo on every album, but they never communicated dread. Neither does DC’s Pentagram. The difference here is the Pentagram logo continuously implies angular, if ordered, aggression. From the stems of the “P” and “M” (and shorter “N” and “G”) to skewed “E”, “A” and “R”, the logo, indirectly perhaps, would inspire a legion of longhairs to pull the open and closing logo letters in the most wickedest of ways imaginable.

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2. Paradise Lost. British doom/death pioneers Paradise Lost went through several logo iterations (the Paradise Lost demo logo is sweet!) before settling on this crown jewel. Appearing on two pivotal albums—the Gothic album was inducted into Decibel’s Hall of Fame for a reason—, this logo, along with My Dying Bride’s withered brand, represented fine Peaceville doom/death. The chopped up serif-ed lettering displayed unease while the connecting strands (“P” to “A” and “D”, “E” to “T”) were like the last remnants of ancient drapery. Though Paradise Lost continued to change their logo on albums after Gothic, this defines the marriage of doom and death metal.

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1. Not only is My Dying Bride the perfect logo, but it’s the perfect doom metal logo. What could be sadder than a dying bride? Not much. And My Dying Wife doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as effortlessly. The logo first appeared on the God Is Alone 7” and the Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium EP. It’s earthen, easy to read, and the root-like stem extensions emote elongated pain. Similarly, there’s a death metal quality to the My Dying Bride logo most bands of woe miss. The “NG” in “Dying” and the “BR” in “Bride” are evilly misshapen. This is ace, boys! So is the new Manuscript EP, which uses a simple font instead of My Dying Bride’s signature script. Can’t win ‘em all.

** Check out our Top 5 Death Metal logos HERE.

** Check out our Top 5 Black Metal logos HERE.

TRACK PREMIERE: Set and Setting’s “Spiraling Uncertainties”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

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It’s been shitty and raining in Los Angeles the past few days. Obviously you don’t care, since we have beautiful weather 99% of the time, but these are perfect conditions for Set and Setting. Not because Set and Setting are shitty; they aren’t. If you’re going to listen to heavy post-rock like this, it’s best to do so on an overcast, gloomy day to get the full impact. The term “set and setting” has something to do with LSD, but there’s no real psychedelia to be found here. Just melancholy and endlessly quivering guitars. While a good chunk of the Temporary Residence Limited roster mines these same peaks and valleys, Set and Setting’s debut LP, Equanimity, proves there’s still gold to be found out in those hills. It’s not necessarily the kind of gold that cheers you up upon finding it, but it shines nonetheless. To prove to you it isn’t fools gold, we here at Decibel have an exclusive premiere of “Spiraling Uncertainties” so you can check it out for yourself.

If you dig what you hear, check them out on tour.

6/6 Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub w/ Inter Arma
6/7 St. Petersburg, FL – Octave w/ Inter Arma (ALBUM RELEASE SHOW)
6/26 Tampa, FL – The Orpheum w/ Intronaut, Mouth of the Architect
7/1      Tallahassee, FL – The Shark Tank
7/2      New Orleans, LA – Siberia
7/3      Houston, TX – Mango’s
7/4      Denton, TX – J&J’s Pizza
7/5      Austin, TX – The Frontier Bar
7/6      San Antonio, TX – Ten Eleven
7/8      Tucson, AZ – Plush
7/9      Phoenix, AZ – The Trunk Space
7/10    San Diego, CA – Til Two Club
7/11    Corona, CA
7/12    Los Angeles, CA – Star Bar
7/13    Las Vegas, NV
7/14    Pomona, CA – Characters
7/16    San Francisco, CA – Hemlock Tavern
7/17    Oakland, CA – Eli’s Mile High Club
7/18    Sacramento, CA – The S.A.C.
7/19    Eugene, OR
7/20    Portland, OR – Ash St. Bar w/ The Body
7/21    Seattle, WA – Kraken
7/22    Tacoma, WA – The Dwell Hole
7/23    Vancouver, BC – The Zoo Shop
7/24    Olympia, WA – The Blue House
7/25    Portland, OR – The Woods (generator show) w/ Nux Vomica
7/26    Boise, ID – The Shredder
7/27    Salt Lake City, UT
7/28    Denver, CO – Seventh Circle Music Collective
7/30    Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
7/31    Minneapolis, MN
8/1      Milwaukee, WI – Frank’s Power Plant
8/2      Madison, WI – Dragonfly Lounge
8/3      Chicago, IL
8/5      Bloomington, IN
8/6      Nashville, TN
8/7      Birmingham, AB – The Forge
8/8      Atlanta, GA
8/9      Athens, GA – The Caledonia Lounge
8/10    Savannah, GA – The Jinx

*** Equanimity comes out courtesy of Science of Silence Records on June 4. You can preorder the LP here.

An Unauthorized Guide to Maryland Deathfest XI

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, lists On: Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

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We got semi-retired punk/metal atavist Stevo do Caixão, currently of Tombstones and formerly of the legendary Impetigo, as well as Axeslasher guitarist/vocalist Professor Pizza, and metal scribe Andy O’Connor — sadly, that’s his real name — currently of Pitchfork, Metalsucks, and Noisey, among other publications, to break down the upcoming Maryland Deathfest, debunk old myths and create new ones…

Stevo do Caixão: So this is eleven years of Maryland Deathfest, how does that make you feel? Old? Sick? Like you need more sleep and more money?

Professor Pizza: It makes me feel like it should be in a nicer place than Sonar.

Andy O’Connor: Well, this is actually my first ever Deathfest. So, it doesn’t really make me feel old.

Professor Pizza: Although there’s hella titty bars around Sonar, so that’s awesome.

Andy O’Connor: Isn’t there one where you can bring in fried chicken? This is VERY important.

Professor Pizza: There’s one next to a chicken place where you can indeed bring the chicken inside. If you’re smooth enough you can feed the strippers.

Andy O’Connor: RIP Andy, that’s my Vallhalla.

Stevo do Caixão: I tend to agree, fried chicken is kind of important not only to metal, but to the festival atmosphere in general.

Andy O’Connor: Austin does not bang when it comes to fried chicken. I hope Baltimore has the goods. You know your city got the fried chicken game fucked up when the main alt-weekly devotes a cover story to that very issue.

Professor Pizza: I know it sounds ridiculous, but there’s a tasty fucking barbecue place in Baltimore near the harbor.

Andy O’Connor: Barbecue? That far north? Hella sus.

Stevo do Caixão: So Thursday night is “Just the Tip” night.

Andy O’Connor: My flight gets in around 4:15, may miss the first band. Stoked on Deiphago and their brand of PCP black metal. And Bolt Thrower, obviously.

Professor Pizza: “Just the Tip” night last year was rad. Autopsy had the police pull the plug on them.

Andy O’Connor: Autopsy gets it turnt up. When I saw them at Chaos it was ratchet for a death metal show.

Professor Pizza: I’m pretty much only going for Cobalt and Bolt Thrower on Thursday. Pretty interested to see those Colorado boys considering I’m from there and have never seen them.

Stevo do Caixão: Well, that’s my point. For Abigail and Bolt Thrower night, you could do a lot worse with “just the tip.” And yes, things got crazy last year.

Andy O’Connor: Cobalt will be interesting. Man’s Gin were awesome two SXSWs ago.

Stevo do Caixão: So what are the chances of there being trouble with the law during Bolt Thrower’s set? And with Cobalt being sandwiched between Abigail and Bolt Thrower?

STREAMING: Shining (NOR) “My Dying Drive”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, May 6th, 2013

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For a long while, Shining (SWE) and Shining (NOR) were swappable entities to the uneducated metal hoi polloi. Thankfully, they’re hardly interchangeable sonically (and visually), as one’s firmly razor-deep in DBM and the other is applying jazz, rock, and black into something rather undefinable—they call it ‘blackjazz’—but altogether Norwegian. Guess which one we have on offer? That’s right. The Norwegian Shining, the very same band responsible for blowing minds and confusing brains on 2010′s Blackjazz effort.

Having spent the last three years writing, fucking with, and re-writing new album, One One One, Shining (NOR) have built upon their obtuse fusion, destroyed the foundation, and emerged like extreme metal avant-heroes. In some regards it’s a more straightforward effort, but in others completely not. New video for lead-off track, “I Won’t Forget,” has an ’80s sci-fi feel, but musically it’s like The Dillinger Escape Plan crossed streams with Ministry’s Psalm 69. Yeah, it’s that good.

Without further sax interjections and exclamatory riff-runs we bring you “My Dying Drive.” A play on My Dying Bride? Maybe. See if you can spot the parallels. They may not be there.

** Shining’s new album, One One One, is out May 28th on Prosthetic Records. It’s available now DIGITALLY or for pre-order as PHYSICAL. One One One is already being claimed, by trusted dB sources, as a best-of 2013 album. Don’t trust us. Listen and be floored.

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

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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Hey there, beak geeks; it’s been a while. Your boy Waldo has been suffering from a seed allergy.
The theme for this week is old-school, so let’s just dig right into it, shall we?

The most overlooked “tion,” IMMOLATION hit us with a new record called Kingdom of Conspiracy on Nuclear Blast. Right in time for the Decibel tour, eh? This is pretty good. I can’t really understand why these guys have been passed over as a great band all of these years, but this record will not disappoint. A lot of bands try to transcend genres, play technical for technicality’s sake. Not Immolation: They just do what they do best, and that’s being themselves. The production here is clear, but not too crisp or clear. This is like a good steak: hearty, beefy, and you know exactly what you’re getting without disappointing. This doesn’t have the fury or rage of Dawn of Possession, but at a time where most bands would be WAY beyond their prime, Immolation are still going strong. 7 Fucking Pecks.

GRAVEWURM, Infernal Minions: This is some kvlt fvcking stvff here. Not to be confused with “Graveworm,” this, their ninth record, comes across as pretty amateur… or tr00, depending on your take, really. I kinda enjoy this for the sheer fun of it, but it’s not a great or even good record by any stretch of the imagination. For a band that’s been together 23 years, you would think they’d get a little better; maybe I’m just too “mainstream.” The production here is pretty low-budget, but not in an intense, grating way; more like a “we didn’t have any money” way. This is warm-sounding and not frostbitten: pedantic black/death rock riffs that just sort of plod along, with some vocals that sound like they could be done by this guy:

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Get your bullet belts on. SODOM release Epitome of Torture, and, well, it’s a Sodom record, amirite? There’s nothing surprising here. Sodom know how to write a couple of catchy thrash riffs here and there, but this sounds a little watered-down, and that is due in part to the production AND the fact that no one needs another Sodom record. Never considered the braintrust (note how they pronounce the word “epitome”) of the thrash world, they prove it with the subject matter of the songs and some of the riffs (see the self-referential track “S.O.D.O.M.”), but there are some hooks here and there. This doesn’t suck or top anything they’ve ever done. If thrash without teeth is your thing, then be my guest. 4 Fucking Pecks.

I would’ve reviewed the new DEP, but c’mon…

Interview with Death To All 2013 Frontdude Max Phelps

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, tours On: Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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Admission of personal bias:  I think Max is awesome, because I’ve seen Max do Max’s thing in Max’s band (Exist) and Max’s band is awesome.  I once described Exist’s music as not metal so much as a rad jazz quartet that decided to plug in and rip it up all loud-like.  Those proggy death-flecked jams got Mr. Phelps hooked up with Cynic’s Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert to augment their band for some tour dates.  That association led to his being tapped as vocalist/guitarist to fill Chuck Schuldiner’s legendary shoes on the 12 dates of this year’s Death To All tour.

Last Friday, April 26, DTA stopped in Max’s Maryland stomping grounds and played Silver Spring’s Fillmore, and the the beautiful space filled with trooer-than-troo metalheads craving some thrash-death of the gods.  I won’t spend time describing the experience – I leave that task to Philly Decibro Chris Dick – but I will say that the atmosphere of the show was fun and fulfilling.  Anciients opened strong, surprise guests Exhumed doused the audience in unexpected ferocity and gleeful gore, and Human-era Death made an earnest stab at honoring the legacy of some truly trailblazing music.

Before the show, Max and I sat down to talk about the tour and his non-Death activities.  Here’s what he had to say:

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How are the shows going?

Great.  A little rough on the voice but I’m getting through it.

Because you’re not used to [growling] as much, or as often?

For as often, and it’s an hour and a half, and I think the other thing is it’s that specific kind of old school death metal… I don’t know how you’d describe it, but it’s that very specific sound, and it’s kinda throaty…

Are you doing something different with this voice than you would do with Exist?

Yeah, I would say it’s different.

Harder, or just different?

A little rougher, maybe, on the voice but I’m using this throat coat stuff and drinking honey in between songs.  [laughs]

How has the vibe of the shows been?  Is it different than when you were out playing Cynic music?

Yes, definitely.  It’s metal as shit.  Obviously with Cynic there’s not as much moshing, maybe you chill out and you watch it more and just absorb it.  It’s different for different shows.  Montreal was crazy, they were just really…

Physical?

Yeah, totally.  LA was actually the same way.  It’s different from show to show, but the reactions are great.  People really, really love it. 

How about among the guys on stage?  You’ve played other stuff together, so does it feel any different between you guys when you’re playing?

I’ve never played with Steve [DiGiorgio] before, but with Paul and Sean there’s definitely a thing that I’m used to, especially with Sean’s playing – he likes to pull back a lot.  It took a few shows for us to really get into the groove.  There are little subtleties and we start to feel out what’s gonna happen here or here, ‘cause it’s a lot different than just rehearsing to the recording or something like that.  Obviously the music’s a lot different, but there’s definitely a familiar thing there because they’re the same players.  

How much did you guys rehearse beforehand?

I went out [to California] and rehearsed with Sean and Paul for a little less than a week, maybe 5 or 6 days, and then Steve flew out for the last day.  I live on the East Coast, those guys are in LA, but we talked through the internet or on the phone:  “Okay, you take this part, for this let’s try to do something like that.”  Of course, half of that shit doesn’t really [make it to the stage], you have to get in the room to really [work it out]. 

Have there been any surprises on the tour?

Well, we opened up in LA with the most Spinal Tap thing everEverything’s been sound checked, we figure all the equipment’s good, but it’s the first show, so we don’t know exactly how it’s gonna go yet.  We’re still working out tightness and everything.  So we’re all prepared to go out there, and Sean does his drum intro on “Flattening of Emotions”, and then we come out after he’s been playing for a few bars, and we kick in.  So Steve gets out there, realizes that something’s wrong with his rig, so he’s standing there with the guitar tech and they’re trying to eliminate every problem – look at all his pedals, [find out] what’s wrong here?  So Sean’s just playing this intro, and it’s kind of an indefinite thing – it can go for as long as it needs to – but it gets to be a little bit of a long time.  So Paul and I just start making noise, just some trippy sort of shit and just jam around.  We can make this work, whatever, no big deal.  So we’re doing that, and it’s going on [and on], and it turns into a Cynic show, right?  Eventually it goes from, “Cool, we can deal with this,” to “Okay, this is getting really awkward.”  Sean, after a while, was like, fuck it, and stops and we just walked off stage and went back out again once they got it [working].

It was pretty funny.  It was one of those things, at the time it was kind of like, oh my god, of all the things that could happen… But it was actually kind of a nice ice breaker.  It was legitimately funny.

What do you gain creatively for yourself playing this music as opposed to Exist or Cynic?

There’s not really a lot of creative input because it’s basically just learn [the parts].  I guess my job is trying to emulate things, for the most part, pretty verbatim and try to create that experience, make it feel as [authentic] as possible.  You can never be somebody else, you know, and it’s foolish to really try to, but within what’s possible, just really trying to make it feel like a Death show.  There are things that fall to interpretation; like the solos, there are certain things that I’ve just ended up interpreting myself and maybe doing a little more of my own thing.  But for the key things, there are definitely these important melodies or ideas that you definitely have to play.  Any time that you’re playing any kind of music, you’re expanding your vocabulary… Even just with the chops thing, the trem[olo] picking, because I haven’t done that sort of stuff in a long time.

Another thing, I think, is really just letting loose a bit, because it’s a fun gig.  It’s been a little bit of a lesson, too, on stage presence and just partying, just kicking some ass and having fun and not to think a lot.  And we feed off of the crowd’s energy too, which makes it really fun. 

[At this point, the VIP meet ‘n’ greet takes over the room, after which Max and I duck in and out of rooms to find a place to finish the interview.  Eventually we make our way to the tour bus to wrap our discussion inadvertently oust guitar tech Scooby from his comfy perch away from the venue’s pre-show hubbub.  Further conversation (and a ventilation system impersonating a jumbo jet at liftoff) enused.]

I was interested in when you first got into Death, and what Death record first excited you.

The first album I heard was Human, actually.  I played in a band in high school that covered – well, we never really did it, I think two of us learned it and the other guys didn’t – we were hypothetically going to cover “Lack of Comprehension”.  It was me and Anup Sastry, he drums for Jeff Loomis right now.  So Human was the first one, and then Spiritual Healing.

What else were you listening to at the time, and how did that fit in?

Then?  I was a prog-head and a metalhead in high school, so probably a lot of Opeth, Nevermore, Emperor, Rush, Tool, maybe some King Crimson.  The Opeth and Death stuff was a segue into more death metal.

And now for some totally non-Death questions.  How far along is the work on the new Exist record?

It is so close.  It’s being mixed right now.  I’ve been hearing rough mixes, and what’s kind of cool is that we had these two days off when we were passing through Iowa which is where our mixer lives – he lives in Des Moines – so I actually got dropped off and spent a day working on it with him, which was pretty cool and a nice coincidence.  So it’s out of our hands, it’s all in the mixing and mastering now.  There’s a lot of logistical stuff we have to figure out.  We don’t even know how we’re releasing it yet; we don’t know if we’re going to try to maybe go with a label or just DIY it, which is definitely a big possibility right now.  We are going to try to have a song up [at the Exist website] pretty soon, so stay tuned.

Have you guys [in Exist] played any shows since you recorded?

No.  The recording was stretched into this long process that ended up being way crazier than [expected].  That always happens.  Anything in music with deadlines is unrealistic, always.  It ended up getting stretched over a really long period, which is why we just finished it.  That’s kind of our fault, too, ‘cause we get really nitpicky.  We’ll have a session just trying to dial one sound or make some weird effect where we’re breaking glass and recording it backwards and putting reverb on it… It’s basically done.

How much music is on the record [keeping in mind that the In Mirrors EP was a half-hour set]?

It’s pretty long.  It’s pushing an hour, maybe 55 minutes or something crazy like that.  Given, there are two re-recorded EP songs on there, but we tried to do some different stuff with them; there are those sections that are improvised.  There are re-recorded versions of “Writhe” and “So We Are” which were originally intended for the album.  The EP was kind of an accident, we just wanted to record something, and it just ended up being so long.  [The new one] is not just one big thing.  It’s [got] songs.  It’s got the improvised stuff, but we’re trying to make it accessible, and maybe we can stretch out more live

And you did one other Exist album before.  Is that around somewhere?

Yeah, the band name [on that other album] is Exist, but it kind of formed out of another band, and it’s a completely different lineup.  It was me and a good friend of mine I grew up playing with, Alex Rüdinger, he actually plays for the Faceless now, and then a bass player.  I actually have pressed copies of it.  I’ve never really talked about it.  It was one of those things we did and then thinks kind of fell apart and we were getting into different stuff.  It’s around.  I don’t know if we’ll ever really try to release it.  It’s very different.  It’s death metal, definitely.

Do you have plans to play Exist’s music at some live shows soon?

I don’t know how soon we would.  The big thing right now is figuring out how we’re going to release the album, and I’m doing this [Death To All] right now, and Weber, our bass player is actually playing for Loomis right now on that Soilwork tour, but he’s actually getting back around the same time as me.  I don’t know.  We might book some sort of Baltimore CD release party or something like that.  We’re all juggling a lot of different things, so I don’t know how soon we’d really be playing shows, but it’s definitely something we want to do.  We want to take Exist and see if there’s a demographic out there for that and see what happens.  I’m excited about it.

Jeff Hanneman: 1964-2013

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, RIP On: Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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When it comes to creativity and vision, the best of us don’t compromise. It’s easy to shift and jump on a trend to make a buck, or follow blindly when someone promises a path to success. It’s a path many of us would take. Those destined to make a mark never compromise on their vision, their integrity or their standards. They do what they want and don’t expect anything for their work, or even expect people to understand. In the words of mythologist Joseph Campbell, they follow their bliss. It’s strange to say of a guitarist who penned songs that offered a bird’s eye view of the abyss, but Jeff Hanneman was following his bliss until he left us yesterday at the untimely age of 49.

Jeff Hanneman was lucky. Many innovators need to wait until late in life or after they are long gone to be praised: examine the history of music, writing and art for examples. Hanneman was able to not only make a career, but change the lives of millions because he didn’t take the easy road. In a time of hairspray and fishnet stockings, Slayer created something far darker than any of their contemporaries. Hanneman was a key reason Slayer rose to prominence; his twin guitar assault with Kerry King is a defining trait of thrash and a musical marvel that still moves listeners. Most musicians would be content to write one song as good as “Angel of Death.” Hanneman wrote or co-wrote a book’s worth, with a few more likely rattling around in his brain.

Hanneman was a singular entity on stage: feral, driven, seemingly angry. There were never any niceties when he played: it was plug in, power through and move on — and possibly leave a venue without a few rows of seats. Considering how inimitable his sound was — you know a Hanneman lick as soon as you hear it –- I imagine he would be intrigued by the outpouring of grief via social media. Slayer and Hanneman’s sound is an obelisk. No band can replicate it. For generations, bands that even tried to open for them had a long night ahead. But the swift reaction of thousands of fans shows that each listener had a highly personal reaction to Hanneman and Slayer. That’s the mark of art: to craft an intensely individual vision that resonates on a deeply personal level with each listener, to burrow into someone’s heart and soul and stay.

Jeff Hanneman could do that.

Hanneman probably wouldn’t want us to mourn long. Slayer’s catalog is littered with songs about the certainty of death, the impermanence of the physical body and the fragility of the human mind. Nothing is for certain in their music, much like in life. Despite his too-early passing, Hanneman left a list of musical accomplishments that won’t be topped. Music writers will continue to try and fail to explain what makes Slayer work with fancy adjectives and academic analysis, as they have for decades. It’s unnecessary. You know why Jeff Hanneman was special when you hear the lead up to “Raining Blood,” a song so powerful it defies death. For generations, it will remain a bulwark and a line in the sand for anyone that dare call themselves heavy.

Share your condolences with Slayer here.

[photo by WireImage]

Old-School Hardcore Thursdays with AC4. This Week: Rocking with Raw Power

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, listen, uncategorized On: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

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First thing you need to know is that what you’re reading is being written in mid-April. Don’t ask why, unless you come out to the Fear Factory/Hate Eternal tour, MDF or Chaos in Tejas; then you can ask me why. Anyhoo, if all goes the way I’ve planned, I will still be coming off the high of finally seeing one of my favourite bands in the history of forever live and in the flesh after almost 30 years of waiting, hoping, dreaming…I speak of the mighty Italian hardcore band, Raw Power. I’ve been a fan since before I can remember being a fan and crystal balls being operational, stars aligning and whatnot, you’re reading this a few days after my seeing them last weekend.

It would appear that old-school hardcore is making a comeback of sorts – but what genre of music isn’t? Hell, there are more nu-metal bands kicking around at this point than any time outside of the 90s. The usual suspects are alive and kicking; some never went away and some are back doing reunion shows and tours, if you don’t like Satanic Threat you’re not my friend and new bands like Haraball and AC4 are kicking the living shit out of those four and five chord riffs.

AC4 hail from Umea and feature members of Refused, the Vectors and Straight Forward. Their latest album Burn the World (which, as you may have figured out, has been out almost two months) is an awesome slice of old-school harcore with a slightly modern touch and a boundless energy that can’t hide which Raw Power, Minor Threat and Uniform Choice they’re *ahem* borrowing. So, for the next three Thursday afternoons, this space will feature the old members of AC4 spilling their old guts about old music.

The first question we posed to guitarist Karl Backman and bassist Christoffer “138″ Jonsson was:

DISCUSS THE RAW POWER DISCOGRAPHY FROM BEST TO STILL AWESOME BUT NOT-SO-BEST

Karl: The first 12″ You Are The Victim and the Raw Power cassette from 1983 are my favorite albums. The bass on “Fuck Authority” always blows me away. I’m not a big fan of 80′s metal guitar solos but I like the Wop Hour 7″ because they still sound very raw. The version of “Army” on the v/a album Raptus vol.2 Negazione & Superamento is their best song. Some songs on Reptile House are really good too. It wasn’t released on vinyl, was it? I’m not gonna pretend I’ve heard everything they ever recorded, but my least favourite LP is Mine To Kill. I also think the rerecordings of some songs on the Screams From The Gutter album lacked the original punch. Raw Power rules, ok?

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Christoffer 138: #1: You are the Victim (1983) and Screams from the Gutter (1984). #2: all their other releases. And yes, I do own them all. They are not all that great, but it’s still Raw fucking Power. Indeed: it’s a tie for the #1 spot. I worship the total harsh lack of production of the debut, and I live and die by the frenzied hacking of the high-heeled guitar solos of the second lp. Raw, uncompromising, to the death speedy hardcore. Eternal! So – I can’t decide. I consider Raw Power to be the utter most epitome of European hardcorepunk. The best of the best. A band that pens the line ”Don’t listen Donna Summer/We go for D.O.A.” deserves your respect. C’mon son!

Twitter: @crj138
Instagram: crj138

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Check out AC4 here and here

Decibrity Playlist: Saint Vitus Bar

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

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If you live anywhere near NYC and love extreme music, hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Once you find and step through the black doored entrance, not only does the front bar offer a wide variety of drafts and specials, but the back room hosts some of the best shows the city has to offer (Goatwhore played earlier this week, Nails headlines tomorrow). Once the show’s over and last call hits, it’s high time for everyone to hit the old dusty trail…that is, unless you’re an owner–two of the three also happen to be in Primitive Weapons–in which case it’s time to put on some tunes.

As co-owner Arthur Shepherd tells us, “The process of closing up after a busy night at a rock bar/venue on the outskirts of the world’s hippest neighborhood is a very personal experience strictly dictated by the whims of the employees who have most likely been there for over 12 hours. We like to create a playlist that encourages even the most oblivious of late night customers to realize that their night here at our bar is now over. Because we are inundated with the heavy and loud on a daily basis, we naturally tend to lean towards the mellower side of life in these situations, but there are different techniques. Back in the day at our other jobs, before metal became cool again, we would often put on extreme stuff like Deathspell Omega to get people out, but that began to backfire as trends changed. These days I go for a gradual change. Drunk people hate to think, so you start with prog rock, move to the yacht, and finish with Beatle solo work (or related/soundalikes such as Badfinger or Emitt Rhodes). You can also just go for shock value…say Assück straight into the Indigo Girls. Regardless, this list represents the most common musings of the weekend staff.”

You can check out a calendar of upcoming shows here and feel free to listen along here. Lest we forget to mention, if running a bar wasn’t cool enough, Shepard and company also started Sacrament Music.

Yes–Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973)
Yes’s “Changes” (from 1983′s 90125)
My favorite band of all time, Yes, is my only true religion. Luckily I have fellow progressive rock fans employed at the bar to join me and savor in this grandeur. “Close to the Edge” is a good starter, but there is nothing like a song off of Tales From Topographic Oceans to really drive the point home to the drunken masses. The classic Yes moment is [co-owner] George [Souleidis] and I arguing at 5am over the time signature of the opening of “Changes” off of 90215. It’s a part George! There’s no specific time signature. Well, I guess there has to be a time signature.

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Pink Floyd–The Final Cut (1983)
Floyd is sheer perfection. A few of the employees and I bonded on the very controversial (at least amongst fans) The Final Cut LP, so that one is a common, albeit a very, very melancholy, choice. The place is usually empty by the time we get to “When the Tigers Broke Free”, a track about the death of Roger Waters’ father in WWII that was added to the remaster/reissue in later years. I could talk about the importance of Pink Floyd for hours and usually do at 5am. Customers should consider themselves lucky to be gone already.

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Rush’s “The Big Money” (from 1985′s Power Windows)
Those who have experienced a true Rush-a-thon at Vitus should consider themselves blessed. Where else outside of Canada can you drink shitty canned beer and listen to the greatest rock trio of all time? If this goes on during closing, it’s usually strictly for my listening pleasure. I prefer ’80s Rush when working. Closing up while listening to “The Big Money” just makes sense. I never smile, but George has always said that the easiest way to make me happy is put on Rush. It also scares any and all females out of the bar.

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Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” (from 1972′s Can’t Buy A Thrill)
Let’s set sail. Onto the Yacht! This is an old tradition for us. I love Steely Dan. Every song is brilliant. I like to play the “who played on this song?” game. If I gotta pick one, it’s “Do It Again”. The yacht rock delves into all sorts of ’70s greatness. I guess Hall & Oates and The Doobies need a shout out as well.

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Paul McCartney’s “Another Day” (1971)
In my very strong opinion, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath invented every musical genre by 1972–the only thing that changed was technology. Let’s face it, McCartney created pop music. He created it, rewrote it and reinvented it through out his career. I’m a big fan of the song “Another Day”, which was a leftover from the Let It Be sessions. It has six choruses and it’s classic story telling McCartney. Mundane, everyday life in post war Britain never sounded so timeless. We have been through every phase: Harrison, Lennon, Badfinger, ELO, Emmit Rhodes, you name it. Deep, late night conversations about the songwriting nuances of the masters is fuckload of fun.

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Runner Up:

Roy Harper–Stormcock (1971)
It’s folk, it’s prog, it’s got Jimmy Page all over it. ‘Nuff said. Listen to it.

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*Check out more about Saint Vitus Bar here.

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

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)