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

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, January 3rd, 2014

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Happy New Year, you pecking geeks. There’s not much going on at the end of the year, and not much going on in the beginning of the year either. I know I’ll sound like a mimic over the next few columns stating that again and again, and you know, parrots don’t like to mimic.

EXHUMED/IRON REAGAN team up to kill a split on Tankcrimes.  The fact that this is pretty good should not come as a shock to anyone, really. Both bands are killer, and although I LOVE Iron Reagan, Exhumed REALLY bring it on their side of this. Just check out the nasty old-school deathness of “Gravewalker.”  The masters of gore really go for the jugular on this one, way crustier sounding than their last full-length, and they do a Minor Threat cover (“Seeing Red,” no doubt). That’s not to detract from the Iron Reagan Side at all; they certainly bring it with their amped-up version of hardcore punk, the track “Gave Up on Giving a Fuck” is the one that stands out to this birdbrain. Cool idea, great execution. The cover is a nice nod to both bands as well.  Get this. 8 Fucking Pecks.

Continuing the theme here (no, Tankcrimes doesn’t pay me), CANNABIS CORPSE/GHOUL release a split as well on Tankcrimes called Splatterhash, and it’s death metal, it’s gory, it’s good, it’s squawking fun.  Both bands have such an abrasive sound and over-the-top aesthetic that this pairing makes perfect sense.  Nothing will come across as shocking, though, and this kind of seems like a cool release to kick off their tour together.  Cannabis Corpse have songs about weed and gore, and Ghoul have “Spill Your Guts” with songs about gore. ANY fans of this more comedic genre will love this, and any fans of either band will dig an early grave to this. Love the cover, too. Peck this bad boy up. 7 Fucking Pecks.

Can you believe it? Kicking around the underground for years,  NAUSEA are back with a new full-length, Condemned to the System, on Willowtip. There’s not much in the way of esoteric arty birdshit here, and that’s not what anyone would expect from them. This is crusty, raw, angsty, from the gut, and visceral. They’ve been kind of getting it back together, doing some fests here and there, and it’s good to see Garcia and co. return to form and get a little support. I mean, there hasn’t been a Nausea full-length since ’91. If you have never heard this band, check this out, as this release does not disappoint. Crust pecking metal.  7 Fucking Pecks.

Prog-Death ‘Til You Drop with Exist’s New Sunlight

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, free, interviews, listen On: Friday, January 3rd, 2014

exist band pic

Back in May, the Deciblog allowed me the space to gush a little about Death To All frontman and Cynic tour buddy Max Phelps, who I’ve known a little bit since seeing his band Exist play in several low-key Maryland venues.  At the end of 2010, Exist recorded and released their In Mirrors EP, and now, after more than a year of on-and-off preparation, have completed this version of the band’s first full-length album, called Sunlight.  Hardly the ethereal swoonfest that such a name implies, Sunlight is maddeningly loud and heavy, at times suffocatingly dense and at all times intricately layered.  It is a jarring sonic advancement over the EP, an hour of melodic precision and haunting accents.  The j-word (that’d be “jazz” for all you prog novices) gets thrown around a little too often, but Exist truly improvise within structures that sound like your hip uncle’s favorite jazz quartet just discovered distortion and vein-popping vocals.  My guess is that it’ll take approximately 2,014 listens before all the pieces become clear, but the good news is that each of those listens is just getting better and better.

Phelps took the time to talk a little about the album’s creation, so while you listen to “Self-Inflicted Disguise” (above) and “If or When” (below), read up on the level of dedication necessary to pump out this monstrous recording.  Be sure to check out the Exist website (http://www.existband.com/) where you can name your price for the digital download of Sunlight… and rumor has it that the $2 minimum currently suggested may evaporate so you could hear all this blustery deviance for free.  Or you could pay some money and actually support the scene as part of some outlandish New Year’s resolution…

It’s true that two of these songs showed up on the EP also?

Yeah, just “Writhe” and “So We Are…”.  The rest of it was actually all written around the same time that we did record the [In Mirrors] EP.

So why the choice to not record them at the same time as the EP?

Actually, it was more like the EP was kind of an accident.  It wasn’t intended to be an EP.  We went in and we were really just going to be demoing two songs – “Writhe” and “In Mirrors” – and then the third track really came out of an improvised sort of thing that we started doing when we were rehearsing.  So we ended up deciding to record that whole thing.  Originally “So We Are…” and “The Pine” wouldn’t have even been different tracks, but it was this really long thing and we realized we had like a 15-minute song and we ended up cutting it into tracks.  So [the whole recording] ended up being, like, a half-hour so we ended up just calling it an EP.

Did the compositions change, or just the performances?

I would say more the performances, because there are certain things that we are intentionally trying to do differently every time.  We improvise a lot of stuff.  It’s not really the compositions that have changed as much as…  There’s these solo sections that we might do differently different times, because we’re trying to define different parts of the music more by parameters than this really literal riff-by-riff thought process that I think is in a lot of metal these days.  The solo section in “Writhe” is this chord progression that actually is the first thing you hear in the song, these kinds of changes and we play over that.  Now, we did do something kind of different with that, that I think we’re going to permanently do, which is the second half of the solo – ‘cause it’s this really long solo section – in the second half we used this through-composed thing, so it’s all written out and [Alex] Weber and I play it in unison.  It’ll show live, I think – this kind of improvised thing up until this crazy stream-of-consciousness but all written out like it’s planned.

Has your method for improvising changed since you first started playing these songs?

It’s definitely way, way, way different than it was when we wrote those songs.  I think everybody else in the band would probably say the same thing, just because we’re all playing a lot of music.  For me, that’s a big focus when I work on guitar, I practice improvisation.  Every year I look back, and you can kind of see yourself changing because you’re discovering new things.  I would say it’s a lot different than even a year [ago], and two years definitely.

Any specific musical ideas you were attempting to convey at the time?

I try to keep it pretty intuitive.  So the compositions are just based on ideas that I have in my head, sometimes with the guitar, but they’re intuitive ideas that I just really like and get attached to.  And then I try to just build the compositions around that.  It’s a pretty natural process, one of those things where it kind of felt like it wrote itself.  Maybe that seems cliché to say, but it wasn’t a forced process, it was just that I liked these ideas and I played them over and over in my head and it just formed itself after a while.  I don’t know if there were really literal concepts as much as ideas that kind of built.  And I guess the improv thing is part of it ‘cause that’s just how we play.  [Some of it] might have been the result of toying around with a chord progression that I already.  I think some of [the improv] comes out because that’s what we do already.  We jam a lot.  When we have a rehearsal, we’ll stretch that stuff out, explore things… not even productively, just for fun.  [laughs]

exist eye

How many different vocalists are on the album?

Pretty much all of us.  Alex Weber and I do the growls and [Matt] Clise does a little bit here and there, he’ll do these high screams.  There are a lot of points where we layer the vocals a lot.  The cleans are mostly me, but Clise actually did some of them.  There’s one part in “If or When” that we just had him sing, because he’s probably a better singer, honestly.  He just sounded good.  And he did some of the harmonies.  And on some of it, there’s some weird textural stuff, too, so sometimes we might even be using voice for things that don’t even sound like voices.

Can you describe the recording process and whether there were delays or difficulties?

Yeah, some of it was dumb things, like there would be a tech problem here or there.  I think a lot of it just came down to the nature of that stuff.  It’s really, really dense and we got really perfectionist about everything, so one session could be dedicated just to me picking this one little sound or something.  I think that’s probably part of why it took so long.  I think it took us something like 6 months to record, and most of that was probably spread over the experimental stuff more.  So we might have been done 80% of the recording in a few months and then there were months dedicated to these little details.

There is a lot of intricate depth to songs like “Self-Inflicted Disguise”.  Did that come about as a studio idea, or did you have a sense of it before you started recording?

It’s kind of both.  We’ll know, “Okay, this is supposed to have something to this effect,” and maybe with the effects and the ambient kind of stuff we have an idea of a desired effect that it’s supposed to have but the question is how do you get that and what kind of sound do we use.  We’ll have a pretty clear idea – it’s not like we’re shooting random stuff – but, like, I know I want something that sounds like this kind of wind sound or a train or something here, and then it’s [about] how we emulate that.  Or maybe in some cases [we realized], “This needs something here, but we’re not totally sure what it is.”  It’s kind of different across the board.

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Mixing these songs sounds like it would be extremely tricky…

[Laughs]  Yeah!  [Dustin Miller, who mixed Sunlight] lives in Iowa, and he’s really awesome at what he does.  I mean, he’s patient enough to deal with doing a dense recording like that.  I think he really wanted to make us happy.  He’s one of those guys that, when he’s mixing something, he’s cool with trying to get across what an artist is trying to do, specifically.  He’s flexible with doing things that aren’t in his comfort zone.  He’s just cool about trying a lot of different things.

He would send us passes of stuff.  We gave him rough mixes that just kind of showed how everything was supposed to sit in terms of volume, or interpretively how everything was supposed to be, and that was kind of a good starting point and he worked off of that.  There was a lot of him sending us stuff and us taking notes on it, and then he sends us another pass, and… yeah, it took a while.

You going to be able to play shows to support the album?

We’re not planning any at the moment.  I think we’re definitely going to play live, it’s just a question of when.  We’ll be hoping to get on some tours, but we don’t have any immediate plans right now.  I’m already working on writing new music, so it’s possible that could even happen before we play live again.

Do you have any upcoming tour responsibilities with Death To All or Cynic to work around?

Touring with that stuff isn’t really very rigorous, so I don’t think that will get in the way too much of any potential plans for Exist.

 

Live Report: Neurosis in San Francisco

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, live reviews On: Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

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I once heard a story about a deaf neighbor in our townhouse complex who blasted music at all hours. When one of the neighbors went to complain he learned that the man would sit on the floor and let the rhythm wash over him so he could “feel” the music. Even for those fortunate enough to hear that is somewhat like the experience of a Neurosis show. Your body is a Newton’s Cradle; one touched, it remains in motion.

The band’s San Francisco show – this year, on December 29th, is one they traditionally play before the New Year in their hometown. Although Steve von Till and Scott Kelly have long since relocated the band’s history is intertwined with the Bay Area. Their seminal 90s albums – Souls At Zero, Enemy Of The Sun and Through Silver In Blood – were recorded when they were very much a part of the Bay Area music scene. For listeners, a Neurosis show as the year ends offers a moment of reflection and introspection. When the rest of the world is partying, their music forces you inward.

The show at the Grand Regency Ballroom was devoid of filler. The video backdrop long used by the band has been retired. Many have bemoaned its absence but Neurosis doesn’t need it. They certainly don’t need between song banter so why be afraid to let the songs stand alone? The backdrops were in many ways the product of a younger, experimental band. Now, they’ve been there and instead offer a voice of survival and experience.

The band looked – and sounded – like the Old Testament brought to life. Kelly, with his gnarled beard and unhinged growl, resembled John the Baptist after his desert exile and a more sedate von Till wove feedback with his guitar. Neurosis is longer the adventurous young men but, rather, the wise men who have ventured into the wilderness and returned to share their story. They remain one of the few bands that can make you feel what you were supposed to get in church.

Neurosis: Grand Regency, December 29

Locust Star
We All Rage In Gold
From The Hill
The Tide
Water Is Not Enough
My Heart For Deliverance
The Doorway
Stones From The Sky

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Photos by Raymond Ahner

Starting the New Year Off with a Bang: Random Glen Benton Quotes.

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, stupid crap On: Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

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Long-running, God-poking death metal crew, Deicide released their eleventh album, In the Minds of Evil in late November. This had journalists the world over gleefully rubbing their nubs at the thought of another round of press with the ever-quotable Glen Benton. Those nubs were rubbed a little less vigorously when it was learned that the bassist/vocalist was rumoured to be looking into the backgrounds of folks lined up in the interview queue and turning away those who had dared speak negatively about the band in the past. Don’t ask me how in the name of Sally-sweet-tits I made it past the cut – though, it’s safe to assume that after this I probably won’t ever be granted congress with Benton again – I ended up interviewing the man for a foreign publication and, as these things go, wasn’t able to incorporate all the gold dropped into my lap in the piece. So, in the spirit of the editorial of issue #42 (get it here), I figured why not cherry pick the interview for a few classic additions to the Book of Benton?

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On lyric writing:
After all these years, how do you make sure you’re not repeating lyrics, themes and ideas, especially when you’ve been talking about ways to stick it to God since 1987?
The way I look at is “who cares?” [laughter]. Who gives a fuck anymore? Does anybody even read the lyrics anymore? It’s like they’ll release the first SoundScan numbers and it’ll be like 2900 copies sold the first week, but there are like 50,000 downloads. Does anybody even read the packaging anymore? I was going to put in the album this time, “If anybody’s reading this, thanks for not ripping me off!”

On new guitarist, Kevin Quirion:
Kevin kind of was an inspiration this time in terms of lyrics. He kind of kicked my ass as far as writing lyrics goes.
In what way?
Well, he’d be like, “Hey man, I’ll try to write some lyrics.” He would, I’d read them and be like, “Dude, get the hell out of the way.” [laughter]
At what point did Kevin come in as a full-time member?
Well, if it were up to me he would have joined after the first time he played with us, but we kept giving that other guy, who’s got some issues, chances because we’re nice guys. Well, not so much me. I was the one totally against him coming back and forth like that. It was more like [drummer] Steve [Asheim] and [guitarist] Jack [Owen], who are friends with the guy, wanted to keep giving him chances. I’m not the type of guy to give chances. I just kind of went along with it reluctantly. Finally, there was an issue in Europe on one of the tours and I chucked his ass off the bus and called it a day.
You’re talking about Ralph Santolla?
Umm, yeah. Man, without going into great detail, let’s just say the guy’s a trainwreck and leave it at that.

On inspiration:
The new album seems a lot more inspired. What would you say has breathed new life into what you do?
You know what man, I’m 46 years old, I never thought in a million fucking years I’d be doing this crap for as long as I have and I just don’t give a fuck anymore. It’s kind of like when I go to the casino and gamble. If you go to the casino and you’re worried about losing, you’ll never fucking win. If you go to the casino and don’t give a fuck what you spend and you’re just there to have a good time and you can walk away from it a winner or a loser, you’ve won. So, I don’t give a fuck anymore. If you like what we do, great. If you don’t, I’ve had my balls stepped on for I don’t know how many fucking years and just because Neil-Young-Booger-Sugar doesn’t like it or some 13-year-old kid wants to tear it apart on the internet, who gives a fuck?

On Roadrunner Records:
Roadrunner, on a personal level, treated me great. They hated particular two members of the band, but they treated me and Steve great. If I ever needed money, all I’d do was make a phone call and it’s be in my account before six o’clock at night. They helped me through my first divorce, financially. They paid to have my tonsillectomy done around the time of the first album when I couldn’t tour because my tonsils were rotting in my throat.

On making ends meet between album cycles:
I got fortunate and came into a bunch of money a few years ago. So, everything that I own, I own outright. I can basically go out and collect aluminum cans and pay what I have to pay in bills every month.

On longevity:
The kids still like to come out and hear the old-school metal. I’ve watched I don’t know how many types of music come and go down the toilet during my career and I’m still working. I must be doing something right.
Are you finding the numbers at shows increasing, decreasing or has it levelled off?
95% of the time, if a show tanks or there’s a bad turnout, I like to point my finger at the promoter who didn’t spend any money in promoting the show. If you don’t know we’re coming to town, how can you go to the show? Most of the time the promoter figures, “I don’t want to spend any money on this. I’ll let those guys drawn on their name alone and hope for the best.” As we all know, promoters, agents and all that are the plecostomus of the fish tank; they just swim around eating the other fishes’ shit all day.

On parenting:
What does childhood rebellion look like in the Benton household?
My youngest one just turned 12 last week and he gets a little bit of a smart mouth, but that’s about it. His stepmother works for the school system here and works with special needs kids, so she knows how to deal with him. Hell, she knows how to deal with me! I’m like most parents, I use his wants to control him. So, he wants a Playstation 4 for Christmas. Well, if you want a Playstation 4 for Chrsitmas, you’d better be on your best-est fucking behaviour while I’m on tour or you ain’t getting anything. If I have to quit my tour and come home because you’re being a pain in the ass, it’s going to be very hard to live here together. [laughter] One thing about my kid, though, is that I get all his teachers, all the people in my neighbourhood, all the older people and that, all say the same thing about him: that he’s well-mannered, very polite and always says hello and is very helpful. As you know, parenting is a very thankless job, so when I hear those things, those are my thanks.

[we will forever wonder if Benton’s kid got that Playstation he was hoping for…]

In the Minds of Evil is out now on Century Media.

KILLING IS MY BUSINESS: White Wizzard’s Jon Leon and Attorney Eric German Break Down Breaking Up

By: Etan Rosenbloom Posted in: featured, killing is my business On: Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

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Being a metal fan means having an opinion about whether Slayer is Slayer without Jeff and Dave, or which lineup of Death reigns supreme. You’re used to haggling over the creative impact of band member turnover. What you might not know is that even the most amicable lineup change can involve a host of legal and financial implications. Unfortunately, most bands don’t figure that out until current and ex-members have hired lawyers and written antagonistic Facebook posts about each other.

Decibel Issue 112’s Killing Is My Business column focuses on what happens behind the scenes when a band is “going through changes,” to quote a singer who’s no stranger to lineup woes. Here are two unabridged interviews I conducted for the column.

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First up: Eric German, a metal-loving attorney for Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP. He’s handled multiple metal record deals over the years, including the deal with Century Media for the Geoff Tate-less Queensrÿche.

Eric German

Eric German

What kinds of legal agreements might a band have to consider when it experiences member turnover? What areas could conceivably be affected?

All aspects of the band might be affected – publishing, touring, merchandising, recording, etc. Consider your band a small business, and the band members are the shareholders. Or consider that the band is a house that all of the members chipped in and bought together. Jonny may have fixed up the attic, Sally might have painted the kitchen, and Timmy might have brought home the family dog, but now it is divorce time and whole thing has to be broken apart and parsed out to the various members. So unless there was a pre-nup, there are going to be issues about who owns what and how that should be valued.

When a band is dealing with member turnover, why might a lawyer get brought in?

Member changes in a band raise issues of trademark law (who can use the name), corporate/partnership law (who owns the band assets and how are they valued), copyright law (who owns the copyrights and do they need to be assigned), and music law (which deals are affected and what needs to be done in terms of notifying the record company, publisher, etc.). These issues can be complex and if there is any real money at stake or if the name and songs are important to both the departing member and the remaining members, there are bound to be issues. Even if everyone is on the same page, making sure the split is handled in a legal and formal way will avoid unwanted misunderstanding down the road and can prevent embittered former band members from making a fuss should you strike it big after they left.

I’d imagine that a lawyer will often be brought in by the label or publisher to deal with contract issues that result from band member turnover. Are there any issues that might specifically affect unsigned, unpublished bands going through member upheaval?

Don’t expect the label or publisher to shoulder the burden of your inter-band drama.  That’s on you. You need to get your house in order and come correct to do business with the third-party entities that are invested in your band. And yes, even unsigned bands need to sort out who owns the name. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen a band get big and a former member pops out of the woodwork once the band gets big, demanding co-ownership, etc.

Is there a band equivalent of a pre-nuptial agreement, where the members agree to such and such happening if one of them leaves?

Yes. It is called (wait for it) a band agreement. It sets forth the way someone can get voted out, how new members come in, what the income splits are, etc. For most professional bands, I generally advise they operate through one or more corporate entities, and the operating agreement for the corporation or LLC as the case may be also serves as the de facto band agreement.

We’ve all heard stories of a band continuing on without a founding member, and a legal spat erupting over use of the band’s name. How do those trademark agreements work, and why might one party or another ultimately get control over the name of a band?

Trademarks are “brand identifiers” – trademark rights arise when the relevant consumer base (in this case, the band’s fans) identifies the trademark (in this case, the band name) with a particular source. So when a band breaks into two competing versions warring over the name, absent a band agreement, courts will generally award the rights to the version that fans most closely identify with the name. 

Have you ever seen bands try to work things out just because it’d be a huge pain in the ass not to?  

Of course! Litigation sucks for the most part. It is costly, time consuming, evasive and just a whole lot of negative energy all around. Litigation over a band name should generally be a last resort – it is too rough out there in today’s music scene to throw a lawsuit on top of it if you do not have to.

Do labels tend to get concerned when there’s a lot of member turnover in one of their bands? Or is it all the same to them as long as the music gets made? 

Well remember that the label wants to be able to sell the band’s albums under the name that the prior marketing and sweat equity investment has gone into building. Some labels write provisions into their recording contracts regarding what happens in the event of a departing or leaving member, just because they don’t want to have to deal with the problems.

What are some steps that a young band can take in the good times to keep things form getting really legally complicated in the bad times? 

While every situation is unique, here are some general guidelines to follow: Do a band agreement. Create a company and have the company own the name. File a trademark in the name of the company. Make sure the band agreement sets forth clear procedures regarding how someone is voted out or how they can leave, and that the name stays with the remaining members of the company. 

As a metal fan, can you remember a time when member turnover has resulted in worse music? What about a situation where the music has gotten way better after a difficult changing-of-the-guard?

Member turnover resulting in worse music: Van Halen (David Lee Roth v. Sammy Hagar? Not even close)? Guns N’ Roses without Slash? Judas Priest without Halford? Iron Maiden without Bruce or Adrian Smith? Fear Factory without Dino? Slayer without Hanneman and Lombardo the jury is still out, although they did just destroy the Hollywood Palladium with a killer old-school set. Better: I like the new Carcass a lot despite the loss of Amott. And the Geoff Tate-less Queensrÿche is MUCH better. I’d call Black Sabbath shifting from Ozzy to Dio a PUSH.

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Next: Jon Leon, leader and sole original member of White Wizzard. This LA-based trad metal band has cycled through 16 members since 2007. 

Jon Leon of White Wizzard

Jon Leon of White Wizzard

On a creative level, what’s been the impact of the lineup changes that White Wizzard has endured?

I think creatively I have just progressed and grown. Sometimes if a guy says something bad about you or you feel like people are hating you, it is important to channel it into a positive fire for yourself and get inspired. I write everything, so that is why it can stay consistent. I am determined and it gave me a thicker skin. I am excited for the future…I feel the adversity has just made me stronger and more driven.

What was the legal fallout after the first big lineup change, when three members left and later formed Holy Grail?

No real legal fallout. They decided to go a different direction and we had some serious disagreements. That story is a long one but I think overblown as well…had we had an agreement written up and a solid manager I think we would have stayed together and became a really big band. But it is hard when you are hungry, have different ideas and big egos and everyone is really talented. Many bands implode for reasons that first lineup did. I wish those guys the best.

Do you find that member turnover has put a financial strain on White Wizzard over the years?

Not as much as being on a record label and not making any money off of album sales did. I would also say Wyatt Anderson choosing to bail on some tours last minute and Download Festival hurt a bit. I think promoters lost some faith in the band when we went out with replacement singers. People really wanted to see the singer on the record.

A lot of factors come into play when there’s band changeover. What’s the most surprising thing you had to deal with resulting from a departing/incoming band member?

This has always been my baby from its formation. I was signed exclusively as a songwriter and owner of White Wizzard to the label. Once the first lineup split, I took exclusive control. That has been a problem at times for some guys I think, that I am in charge. It is hard to make a band democracy without it becoming a dictatorship. I always wanted a democratic band of brothers but it just did not work with personality dynamics and other people’s personal issues, along with me being the songwriter – it created friction, jealousy, mistrust, etc. There have been too many strange things to pick one. That is a whole interview in itself… a Spinal Tap documentary, really.

You’re on your own label right now. How is the band agreement with the current incarnation of White Wizzard different from the agreements you had when you were signed to other labels?

I will be giving each musician a percentage of sales profits monthly with statements. Very cut and dry. The big difference is guys working with me will make money, and I will make money. That should be a nice change for all of us. No money always causes tension, and people lose hope and get frustrated.

A lot of young, idealistic metal bands would purposefully not think too much about the legal and financial aspects of being in a band, thinking that trust and respect are all that you need to get you through tough times. Why is it important for a band to consider these things early on?

Write up solid contracts together. Spend a couple hundred each and hire an attorney to help get it right, and try and find a manager. If you are serious that will help you should things go south between even a couple guys…and trust me, it almost always will.

Decibrity Playlist: East of the Wall

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

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East of the Wall dropped its fourth full-length a little over two months ago. But just because we’re a little late getting around to praising Redaction Artifacts doesn’t mean that we don’t hold a special place in our grim hearts for the New Jersey quintet, one that’s been ensconced there since The Postman Syndrome’s 2002 magnum opus Terraforming. So we were stoked when guitarist/vocalist Matt Lupo sent us five tracks that give him “memories of warmth”. Given his musical endeavors, the diversity of what helps him deal with this wintry weather is not surprising. Feel free to listen along here and pick up a copy of Redaction Artifacts here.

Guapo’s “III” (from 2005’s Black Oni)
While this isn’t my favorite Guapo song, it’s certainly high on the list. And my favorite (“Five Suns”) is actually an entire album, so I don’t think that counts. I first heard these guys on WFMU while I was driving home form the rehearsal studio around 1am in February of 2004. I got home and sat in my freezing car until the next station break to find out what it was. The DJ played the whole Five Suns album and then forgot to tell his listeners what he just mesmerized us with. So I called the station to ask, and was introduced to a world of dark, brooding, oddness that sounds like it was written 40 years ago. “III” embodies everything that you need to know about this band.

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Unwound’s “Radio Gra” (from 2001’s Leaves Turn Inside You)
Dirge-y and dirty, this instrumental cut from the second disc of Unwound’s swan song album is doom without the doom. It really does come across as the end for this band. Nothing says “it’s curtains” like that melting mellotron. And I love how the bass stays static on the verse for a while before joining up with the other instruments to round out the chord bottoms. Make sure you listen to this whole album if you’re in a cathartic kind of mood.

unwound

Kings of Convenience’s “Failure” (radio edit) (from 2001’s Versus)
It’s never too early to start hunting down that feel good song of the summer. Just had that perfect day at the beach and you’re getting ready to sip some martinis at the cabana? Didn’t think so. But this song will make you want to feel that way. I usually don’t go for remixes, however this one isn’t all that far from the original, and it adds a tasty bit of trumpet to the cocktail.

koc

Sharks Keep Moving’s “Join Up” (from 1999’s Sharks Keep Moving)
You just messed up pretty bad, didn’t you? Yeah, someone’s crying right now and it’s definitely your fault. You just weren’t thinking, were you? Well, you could say something…you could try to make amends. It starts with an apology, an admission of guilt. It requires some introspection, and a plan for avoiding this situation in the future. And then you could both move forward. The trust could eventually be rebuilt, and you would both be stronger for the experience. But that takes time, and you don’t even think it’s worth it, do you?

skm

Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 (1908)
This here is my favorite piece of symphonic music. The first movement builds so slowly. It peaks, falls, and then climbs even higher. Then it starts sinking…by the five minute mark, you’ve already had such a dramatic experience, but then it branches out and the narrative gets even more interesting. If you can find the version by Edward Downes and the BBC Philharmonic, that’s the one you need.

rachmaninoff

*Order Redaction Artifacts here.

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

Past entries include:

Enabler
Wolvserpent
Drugs Of Faith
SubRosa (Part 1) (Part 2)
Vattnet Viskar
Skeletonwitch
Ihsahn
Earthless
Watain
Orange Goblin
God Is An Astronaut
Primitive Man
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)

New Year’s Metalutions

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, stupid crap On: Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

MSDSTDA EC010

In 2014, I resolve to:

Descant the insalubrious.
Yoko Ono Chimaira.
Stop smashing hammer faces.
Train my army of attack hamsters.
Look into whether or not goat sacrifice requires a permit.
Resist your touch of evil.
Follow Darkthrone on tour.
Convince Albert to do a Hall Of Fame on Nightwish’s Wishmaster.
Transcribe Obituary lyrics.
Watch more porn.
Actually listen to albums before I review them.
Create supercut of every usage of the name “Satan” in black metal songs.
Collapse contradictions.
Arrange joint Graveland/Orphaned Land tour.
Make a sequel to Rock Star that follows the rest of Ripper Owens’ career after he quit metal to become a sensitive singer-songwriter.
Listen through the Merzbox.
Find out who would win in a fight: Godzilla or Jucifer’s amp stack.
Write more Metallica erotic fanfiction.
Finally listen to this “Deathheaven” band all The Kids are talking about.
Remix the Morbid Angel remix album.
Film a band documentary that isn’t “spiral of self-destruction” or “wacky tour antics” or “point the camera at Lemmy.”
Let the bodies hit the floor.
Hide the bodies.
Start that My Little Pony-themed metal project with J. Bennett that we’ve been discussing forever.
Stop posting half-assed “humor” articles.

***Have some resolutions of your own? Share them on twitter with #MetalResolutions!

INTERVIEW: Sindre Solem from Obliteration

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, December 30th, 2013

obliteration

On November 12th, Norwegian death metal atavists Obliteration finally broke their silence with Black Death Horizon, the long-awaited follow-up to their awesome 2009 LP, Nekrospalms. Where ‘psalms spread the gospel of old-school death metal through riffs redolent of Autopsy et al, Black Death Horizon finds Obliteration visiting a new plane of extreme metal. Death metal, black metal, and weird outré HC punk; all are repurposed and emulsified into some weird noxious liquor that somehow makes old-school sounds taste fresh. It is a physically imposing record but psychedelic in its own way, too. As vocalist Sindre Solem explains, it’s a kind of magic.

It has been over three years since Nekrospalms, when did you start writing Black Death Horizon and why did it take so long?
“We started writing when we were still playing live and promoting our last album, Nekropsalms, in 2010, but it didn’t really work out. Everything we wrote sounded similar to last album only worse. We had quite a rough time trying to write the album but I think everything started to make more sense and the songs evolved into something we wanted about a year ago.”

It does sound and feel a bit different. Was it deliberate that is should sound different to Nekrospalms?
“I think just after we did Nekropsalms, and toured on that album, the general attitude in the band changed. Perhaps we got older, I don’t know, but the intentions we had with our Nekrospalms album, we fulfilled that part of ourselves when we finished Nekrospalms so we wanted to do something a bit different. I think just the general atmosphere within the band and with us as people had become more cynical, and colder since the last album.”

Did you want to distance yourselves a little from the old-school death metal scene?
“I think unconsciously, yeah. Because with Nekropsalms, I felt that the environment within the entire metal scene at that moment was over-produced and fucking boring, and that none of the good old bands got the credit they deserved. We tried to bring back that kind of production and add kind of hidden tributes to Winter and Autopsy in the songs. But I feel lack the reference culture within metal has gone too far and after Nekropsalms we put that part of us behind us. Now we just want to create something that sounds more like us. I don’t know quite how to put it, but when we wrote the last album we wanted to evoke a certain atmosphere. We wanted this to sound dark; the energy must really make us go apeshit. We just had a different perspective on how we were going to write songs. We didn’t think of inspirations or stuff like that; the general feeling the songs gave us was more important, and going outside of the death metal boundaries did not matter at all. I think it is really important to just say ‘Fuck the boundaries!’ and go wherever the song takes you.”

Absolutely. There is almost too much love for the old-school and we’re in danger of losing the danger . . . What is your writing process like?
“Obliteration is by far a morbid democracy. Ha ha! There is a lot of magic happening within the rehearsal room or from just hanging out together. Some songs were . . . Arlid [Myren Torp, guitar] usually has some riffs or ideas but a lot of this album has evolved [with us] together at the rehearsal room, and the difference is that we have had a few lyrics completely finished, that we were very happy with, before we had any music for them, so we were in the rehearsal room and I was reading the lyrics, and we were thinking that kind of feeling did this sentence or this verse give us. We tried to write the riffs and arrangements around that. We did a lot of that together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but in the next rehearsal you can come back and have a really good idea out of something that we did the last time. If that makes sense.”

You recorded it yourselves again at the same same studio in Kolbotn, what is it like?
“It’s owned by our guitarist and the drummer from Nekromantheon, my other band. It is by far not a professional studio. All the recordings we have done have been done at Kick’s parents’ basement – Kick is the drummer from Nekromantheon. We recorded everything ourselves and mixed everything ourselves, and it’s a pretty stripped-down way to do things. There is nothing fancy about it whatsoever. There are a lot of restrictions, which I think is a good thing because you have to use your ears instead of your eyes watching a computer screen and shit like that.”

Do you think that the restrictions placed on underground musicians when it comes to recording conditions and so on help with the creative process, in the sense that necessity becomes the mother of invention?
“Yeah you have to work harder, I guess. But then I don’t think that many bands have that restriction right now. I don’t think those restrictions are necessarily positive but if you have a big, fancy studio where you can do whatever you want and just replace drums and everything I think it is harder to say no. In our studio, we use a lot of time to make suer that the drums and the amps sound good before we start recording so we don’t have to work that much at the end. But it is important to record extremely fast so that you can keep some of that energy up, and keep that atmosphere and spontaneity in everything. The music in metal is supposed to be safe so it is really important to me that the production fits the entire atmosphere and feeling of the music. I just feel that if it doesn’t have soul and character and doesn’t give me something on an emotional level then it is fucking boring to me. It doesn’t have to be metal, but all art-forms, whatever, if it doesn’t move me then it is worthless, and I think that most over-produced metal albums over the last ten years are like that.”

I’d imagine you don’t like to do too many takes? Is it a question of doing as much rehearsal as possible beforehand then firing right in to it?
“Then it sounds more fresh, more alive. It sounds flat and dead if you do it over and over again.”

Did you have any outside help with the recording?
“Well Kick has worked as a studio engineer, kind of, and he has a set of ears that works well, so he gives us compliments or criticisms during the recording. We have this one guy who lent us his stereo tape recorder so we recorded the master on that stereo tape and delivered that to the mastering. He helped us with that, but it was mostly us.”

Is there a punk/hardcore influence on Obliteration? There seems to be more of that on Black Death Horizon.
“Yeah, Arlid and me have been listening to a lot of crust punk, and not just Swedish bands but American bands have been really important to us to, like Deadboys. We’re big fans of Deadboys, and of course bands like Discharge and all that shit, but also newer crust like Tragedy, Talk is Poison. I am a huge Cro-Mags fan also. It kind of shines through. We’re all into crust punk and hardcore.”

What can death metal take from crust punk and hardcore?
“I don’t know because I haven’t really thought about it like that because the punk side of our influences is just one of our many external influences; it just becomes part of the package. I just like the raw energy and the carelessness in hardcore. Many of those bands are really organic. There is one band called Sanctum, from Portland, Oregon, and I think they have broken up now but they are the perfect mix between hardcore punk and Bolt Thrower-ish extreme metal, and they are fantastic.”

**Order Obliteration’s Black Death Horizon here
**Obliteration on Facebook

Top 5 Albums NOT In Our Top 40 Of 2013 List

By: Chris D. Posted in: defend your shitty taste, featured, lists On: Monday, December 30th, 2013

topfivealbumsnot_decibel_2013

** Every year we do it. Decibel assembles a list of killer albums based on a secret algorithm. This year, I wanted to add to our Top 40 list (as published HERE). Albums I felt were overlooked on our list. The artists and albums reflect my opinion only and weren’t subject to the secret algorithm.


NUMBER 5
Sulphur Aeon “Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide” (Imperium Productions/F.D.A. Rekotz)
Germany’s Sulphur Aeon hit Cthulhu in its lidless eyes on debut, Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide. And if judging by the cover art, Sulphur Aeon has death metal’s top spot occupied by a nautical mile. It’s a sight to behold. Ola Larsson’s interpretation of Cthulhu emerging from the ruins of R’lyeh is brilliant. Musically, Sulphur Aeon remind of Storm of the Light’s Bane, but there’s a heavy helping of bottom end. The rumble that cuts through Torsten Horstmann’s leads is nearly indescribable. The feeling is like ancient buildings crumbling in near-real time. Brutal. But also memorable.


NUMBER 4
Bölzer “Aura” (Iron Bonehead)
Though an EP, Aura deserves a spot on our Top 40 list. At 22-minutes, Bölzer’s debut for Iron Bonehead is audacious yet savage, taking death and black metal to new places. Much of Bölzer’s uniqueness comes from KzR’s guitar sound, which must be heard to fully understand. He has the low-end of, say, John McEntee but uses a high-end technique that could only be described as tremolo picking with an E-bow. The song construction also deserves notice. Aura’s three songs race by at a frantic pace, but at no point do they feel contrived or glued to convention. KzR also possesses an alternating growl and howl, which—during Bölzer’s slower moments—reminds of Neurosis’ apocalyptic vociferations. 2014 will be a huge year for the Swiss. Also, huge points for naming their demo, Roman Acupuncture. Why? Dunno. Sounds ancient like Assyrian Aqueducts.


NUMBER 3
October Tide “Tunnel of No Light” (Pulverized)
Ex-Katatonia members Fredrik ‘North’ Norrman and Mattias ‘Kryptan’ Norrman unite (or re-re-unite) for the second October Tide album to not feature Jonas Renkse. On Tunnel of No Light, the Norrman brothers create a fantastically desolate landscape. The difference between Tunnel of No Light and its equally awesome predecessor A Thin Shell are the licks, the introspective interludes, and newcomer Alexander Högbom’s screams. Though I’m a sucker for Tobias Netzell’s (also of In Mourning) textured gurgles, Högbom complements October Tide’s blue tunes. Clearly, the Swedes’ sound won’t move mountains, but fans of early Katatonia, Rapture, Daylight Dies, and Swallow the Sun shouldn’t sleep on Tunnel of No Light.


NUMBER 2
Valkyrja “The Antagonist’s Fire” (WTC Productions)
This little dirty gem of an album hit Decibel’s desk a bit late. That being said, Valkyrja’s third assault on organized religion is violent, blood-thirsty, and fucking catchier than Mary Magdalene’s gonorrhea. Frontman A.L. invokes Swedish greats (no need to mention names) throughout The Antagonist’s Fire’s seven stunners. At times, however, it sounds like he’s gargling. Combine that with slight echo and, well, goose bumps. S.W.’s a Bible-burning axe-slinger, his runs on “Betrayal Incarnate”, “The Cremating Fire”, and “Season of Rot” particularly effective at sounding Swedish while also battering temporal lobes like a seasoned vet. If Watain went off the rails on The Wild Hunt, Valkyrja’s The Antagonist’s Fire probably the album of most (similar) interest.


NUMBER 1
Soilwork “The Living Infinite” (Nuclear Blast)
Two-discs and not one sleeper. That’s how I feel about Soilwork magnum opus, The Living Infinite. Gone are the flat-headed American-isms that permeated most of Peter Wichers’ work. Replacing them is a Euro-centric approach (Sylvain Coudret synching up with David Andersson is a huge deal!) to melodic death metal, the likes of which Soilwork perfected on The Predator’s Portrait (and Americans stole wholeheartedly from). But this is no The Predator’s Portrait, Part II. Soilwork in 2013 are a different band. Better players, new members, and—absolutely—better songwriters. It sounds stupid, but the choruses on The Living Infinite are epic. Addictively massive. Björn ‘Speed’ Strid is still venomous as ever, but his singing voice has improved tremendously. The guy’s lines across every track (20 of them) are, to be cliché, illegally catchy. Add the massive (and warm) production and there’s nothing left to discuss. Lights out competitors. All tracks are choice, but I recommend starting with “Spectrum of Eternity”, “Let the First Wave Rise”, “Rise Above the Sentiment”, “The Living Infinite II” and the stupid stupid good closing track, “Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard”. The Living Infinite is the metal album of the decade. Dispute that? Give it a fair shake without being a diehard douche first.

Celebrate 10 years of Seventh Rule by winning all their records

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: contest, featured On: Monday, December 23rd, 2013

seventh rule discog

What with a holiday season to service and a ten-year anniversary to celebrate, the good people of Seventh Rule Recordings have doubled down on the good cheer and offered you the chance to win their entire vinyl discography in their 10 Year Glitch Prize Package

Says a dispatch from Seventh Rule’s Portland HQ: “Seventh Rule has been around for 10 Years now, and its been a beautiful blur. We’ve seen highs and lows, but are happy and thankful to all the people who continue to support us through the years. Such a milestone deserves a contest of epic proportions…”

Now, they didn’t have to do this to make us love them. Over the last ten years Seventh Rule have built such a reputation for putting out antisocial, disquieting and unique records from the likes of Indian, Batillus, Author & Punisher and Atriarch, that their name is a guarantee of quality.

More than half these records are now out-of-print, all of them are pretty awesome; some are already classics in the extreme metal pantheon . . . Or certainly neo-classics; The Unquiet Sky, for sure, Furnace and Forever the End to name just three.

**To win, email your name and address to tenyearglitch@seventhrule.com before midnight PST, Dec 31st. If your name comes out the hat, you get one each of these:

Sweet Cobra – Praise LP (Red Vinyl)
Akimbo – Elephantine LP (180G Vinyl)
Buried At Sea – She Lived For Others But Died For Us | Single Sided / Etched LP (Swirl Grey Vinyl)
INDIAN – The Unquiet Sky 2xLP (BLOOD RED#11 and EASTER YELLOW#2 AsideBside Vinyl)
The Makai – The End Of All You Know LP (Grey Marble Vinyl)
INDIAN – Slights and Abuse LP (Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl)
INDIAN – The Sycophant LP (Bloody Sun Vinyl)
Sweet Cobra – Bottom Feeder | Single Sided / Etched LP (Black Vinyl)
Wetnurse – Invisible City 2xLP (#7 Green / Black Splatter Vinyl)
Light Yourself On Fire – Intimacy LP (Yellow / Black Nuclear Style Vinyl)
Millions – Gather Scatter LP (Crystal Clear Vinyl)
Coffinworm – When All Became None LP (Bong Load Green Vinyl)
The Swan King – Eyes Like Knives LP (180G Vinyl)
BATILLUS – Furnace LP (180G Vinyl)
Atriarch – Forever The End LP ( Crypt White Marbled Vinyl)
Thergothon – Stream From The Heavens (Reissue) LP (180G Orange Vinyl)
Wizard Rifle – Speak Loud Say Nothing LP (Vinyl Bong Random Colored Vinyl)
Author & Punisher – Ursus Americanus LP (Grey And White Marbled Vinyl)
Stoneburner – Sickness Will Pass LP (Blood Marbled Vinyl)
Atriarch – Ritual Of Passing LP (Rozz Williams Red Vinyl)
Author & Punisher – Women & Children LP (White #1 with Black Splatter Vinyl)
Gnaw – Horrible Chamber LP (SILVER P19 with RED#3 Haze Vinyl)

Ts and Cs as follows: Only one entry per person and use a valid email address so they can actually send you the records, oh, and Seventh Rule will cover shipping charges.

In the meantime, you might want to get a little present to yourself and visit the Seventh Rule webstore; it is running a 33 per cent off offer. Just use coupon code “10YRFTW” at the checkout.

May the odds be forever in your favour.

Seventh Rule on Facebook
Seventh Rule Recordings on BandCamp