LIVE REVIEW: Dawnbringer

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, live reviews On: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

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It was only fitting that Dawnbringer’s first NYC show was at Saint Vitus. After all, the middle stop of a three-day stint that was “the closest thing to a Dawnbringer tour that has ever happened” brought a band whose last two outstanding records have given it some well deserved recognition to a joint that has helped raise the, um, bar for metal shows in the area. Unsure when I’d ever get a chance to see Chris Black and company up close and personal again, the decision to head out to Brooklyn was a no-brainer.

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The band’s set kicked off with “So Much For Sleep”, the leadoff track from 2010′s Nucleus. Given that Dawnbringer is basically a studio project, albeit a long-running one, the band–whose live show features Scott Hoffman and Matt Altieri on guitar, Ian Sugierski on drums and Black on bass/vocals–wasted no time finding its footing in a live setting. Sure, they’d played the night before, but this was also a group that until two years ago hadn’t played a show in over a decade (not to mention, unlike Hoffman, Sugierski and Altieri aren’t even in the “studio” lineup). My ears noticed no hiccups, just tight playing.

The show wasn’t sold out, but for a Friday night in NYC, the Chicagoans got a pretty decent crowd whose rabidity made up for the lack of sheer numbers. The hour-plus set was a mix of old and new, leaning a little heavier on more recent material early on when Black announced that they were about to play some songs from last year’s Into the Lair of the Sun God before playing “older songs you’ve likely never heard.” While “My Destiny Is Death” briefly got a pit going, “To Murder The Sun” was the highlight of the show for yours truly. One non-musical observation: from certain angles (none of which are reflected in my poor quality iPhone pictures), Chris Black can easily pass for Albert Mudrian, right down to certain facial gestures…now you know.

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Unfortunately, I completely missed openers Crypter and Polygamyst, but did manage to catch the last few songs of Kings Destroy’s set, who set the tone with the massive riffs and grooves that emanated from guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski. To make up for my unprofessionalism, I’d point out that I saw a Black Sabbath 1984 Born Again tour shirt, which was made even more remarkable by the fact that owners of two of the best patch jackets I’ve seen happened to be standing nearby. It was only fitting that the owners of said denim treasures appeared to have the time of their lives rocking out to a band that, even though may not play the live circuit anywhere close to regularly, aspires to uphold the musical tradition those jackets proudly display.

Here’s some video footage from a 2011 Dawnbringer show, which at the time happened to be the band’s first in 13 years:

Pick up a copy of Into the Lair of the Sun God over at Profound Lore.

Also, be sure to check out Brandon Stosuy’s in-depth piece on Saint Vitus over at Pitchfork here. You can also check out Chris Black’s Decbrity playlist from last year as well as Saint Vitus co-founder Arthur Shepherd’s after hours playlist.

STREAMING: New Gigan

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

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We’re fans of musical nuttiness here at the Deciblog. And there’s nothing nuttier — or more impressive — than the colossal mindfuck that is Gigan.

We received an advance copy of their new album Multi-Dimensional Fractal Sorcery And Super-Science (due from Willowtip on October 15 — preorder details to be announced soon). We’re happy to premiere the new track “Electro-Simulated Hallucinatory Response.” Let us know what you think and get in touch with the band here.

STREAMING: Diamond Plate “Walking Backwards”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

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Diamond Plate couldn’t be more literal. In a few ways, actually. One, the band name refers to, well, a diamond plate or tread plate, as seen on truck covers, trailers, mud flaps, and restaurant floors. They’re “metal,” get it?! Two, when asked for a quote about the track we’re premiering they said, “No click track, no editing, you are hearing the second take of the song. Enjoy!” Meaning, there’s no Pro Tools pretending in the Diamond Plate camp. Just old-school, real-world playing/recording techniques. Three, well, we’ll leave that up to you.

So, yes, Diamond Plate returns with new album, Pulse. Gone is old throatman/four-stringer Jon Macak and in his stead is newcomer Matt Ares. Together, Diamond Plate sounds like the post-aggression period of thrash metal. When Testament went sophisticated on Practice What You Preach, when Death Angel wowed on Act III, and when Metal Church wrote an unsung classic in The Human Factor. Sure, there’s bark to Diamond Plate’s bite on Pulse, but it’s largely subservient to high conceptisms—wait until you hear “Still Dreaming”—and Neil Kernon’s sage-like production.

Prepare to mosh. In a library. In a professor’s study. In maturity.

** Diamond Plate’s new album, Pulse, is out August 20th on Earache Records. It’s available for pre-order HERE in a few different configurations. Do it now before they change their name to “Durbar floor plate.”

STREAMING: Hyrrokkin’s “Anacoluthon”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

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Kind of funny that the captcha when I downloaded Hyrrokkin’s Pristine Origin was “guitar player.” This power trio definitely has one of those, and he makes all sorts of crazy noises with his instrument. As does everyone else. A saxophone even shows up at one point. A little bit of Dysrhythmia, a little bit of Animals As Leaders, a little bit of Sonny Sharrock. If you’re into weird heavy avant-garde action with actual musicality attached, prepare to be art rocked. Plus, these guys get bonus points for finding one of the few remaining mythological monsters that hadn’t been used as a band name yet. Enjoy this exclusive premiere of “Anacoluthon.”

***Pristine Origin comes out in September on Sick Room records. You can order it here , follow them on Facebook here, and download their debut cassette, Astrionics, at their bandcamp page here

Punk Is Dead…Is Alive

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews On: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

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The above flyer for Punk Is Dead 2013 sufficiently testifies to the potential awesomeness of the inaugural edition of the upcoming Lancaster, California confab, but we decided to dig a little deeper anyway and asked organizer Zack Barrera about the vision behind his self-described “truly underground, DIY festival.”

Talk to me a little bit about the origins of Punk is Dead Fest.

There were a couple factors. I wanted to start something that would have a home here in the Antelope Valley. There’s not much going on here.Not to say that there is nothing but for music, sometimes up here in the High Desert it feels exactly like that: A desert. Second, I wanted to see if I could organize a festival comparable to the majority of heavy music festivals going today, but without the usual corporate sponsorship. I feel that has no place in punk/hardcore/metal and it always disturbs me when I see a smaller hardcore festival resorting to sponsorship from beer companies in order to make ends meet. I can understand why the larger fests may need corporate sponsorship in order to function, but it always makes me wonder when I see a smaller fest doing the same.

Have you ever done anything like this before?

I’ve been booking and promoting shows independently for four years now but this is by far the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted.

Why did you choose to call the fest Punk Is Dead?

The festival moniker comes from the Crass song of the same name. What I and the festival stand for is perfectly encapsulated by the message of that song. Which is that punk has been co-opted by the labels and corporations who could care less about its spirit and ethos and are only concerned with the lining of their own pockets through the hard work of the bands. There will always be the small core of true believers who through their own hard work keep the spirit alive but for the vast majority of “punks” all it means and all it ever will mean is T-shirts, pins, and patches.

Obviously you’ve got some really heavy hitters playing, but also a slew of newer, more obscure acts. How did you approach the booking?

John Dyer Baizley of Baroness on five life-changing album covers

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews, lists On: Monday, July 29th, 2013

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“I could go on all day about Pink Floyd record covers,” says Baroness frontman/guitarist John Dyer Baizley. “I could go on all day about Neurosis record covers or Converge—Jacob Bannon is another great album cover artist.”

He really could. But we’re mean and we need five to compile an easily digestible list of cover art, all of which are of life-changing importance for Baizley. His artwork has graced albums by the likes of Kylesa, Skeletonwitch, Torche and Pig Destroyer, and now—fittingly seeing as he readily cites Pushead (Brian Schroeder) as an influence—Metallica t-shirts, too. Here is his list:

BLACK SABBATH BLACK SABBATH
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“I am not sure that I have a Top Five per se, but there are definitely records which from the visual aesthetic standpoint that have had a huge impact on my career, both in music and in art. Y’know, I’d have to say the first, the earliest memory I have of quote-unquote losing myself in an album cover was when I was very young. Just like everyone else in the original Baroness lineup, I grew up in a very small town in the country where there were no record stores dedicated to our tastes as young teenagers in search of heavy music. Naturally, we gravitated towards our parents’ record collections, and a friend of mine’s father had a huge record collection. I remember very vividly the first time I saw the first Black Sabbath record. That bizarre tinted vision of the girl in the woods had a profound effect on me because I didn’t understand it. It wasn’t like a tongue-in-cheek joke in the way that I was used to seeing record covers at the time. Y’know, it wasn’t Aerosmith Pump or something like that, where there’s two vehicles in the throes of passion. There was something very unobvious about it, and something that in my 11-year-old hands had some kind of mystique, some untenable qualities to it which mirrored themselves in the music. That was really my first entrance to the world of album art, and there lesson there being: The more obvious you are, the less engaging the record becomes on repeated listens—or repeated viewings. As I grew older my interests grew further and further into underground music and punk and hardcore.”

BLACK FLAG MY WAR
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“The second hammer to the face moment for me was when I got the Black Flag My War album. Again, taken out of context, [the cover] almost doesn’t have anything to do with the record, but when paired with the music on the disc it seems to enrich the music, or seems to give the music a little bit more, a little bit of a broader life. I always loved the gut impact of the Black Flag covers, and of Raymond’s [Pettibon] art, which never encroached upon being obvious or literal. I find this is something that pops up again and again in my own work, which is hinting at the music, or responding to the music, rather than literally narrating something. That is definitely a favorite of mine.”

YES RELAYER
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One of my favorite all-time covers by one of my least favorite bands is Yes Relayer, which is in so many ways better than the album itself. I am a self-professed huge Roger Dean fan. I think that he is a total maverick when it comes to marrying the visual with the sonic in a convincing, enriching and interesting way that never deletes from the music—it’s only an additive quality. So, Yes, the Relayer cover . . . I almost wish the music wasn’t there because it’s so good, and it maybe that’s the exception to the rule.

DAMAD BURNING COLD
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“Further and further down the wormhole I went, the more underground music that I became enamoured with and entrenched in. As a teenager, I was a fan of Metallica and I loved the Pushead stuff, but as I delved deeper into the world of mail order and the DIY punk underground, I found out that Pushead was much more than The Guy That Did Metallica T-Shirts. So there is no conversation about album art that I could have that didn’t include Pushead. Quite easily, my favorite work that he has done is any of the stuff that he has done for the Savannah, Georgia, band Damad; the seven-inch that he did for them, and especially the full-length Burning Cold . . . Just fantastic, fantastic art, that totally reached me as the angst-y, angry teenager that I was. It was something that reflected some of the ugliness and some of the beauty of the record itself, but furthermore from an artist and a draftsman’s perspective it is a beautiful cover. I often find myself emulating something of that style, and that sort of goes without saying but here I am saying it. Right, that’s four records . . . Just to round it off and pull myself out of the underground a little bit . . . ”

JESUS LIZARD LIAR
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“One of my favorite records of all time, one of my favorite record covers of all time. It’s a totally crazy album cover and a totally crazy record. The two work hand in hand in such a unique and special way. I think it is another one of those pinnacle records for me. The record itself had a certain time and place and quality in my life; it taught me, it definitely moulded me into the music that I am, and gave me an outlook on music that I wouldn’t have as deeply as I do now without it. And furthermore the album cover, which I don’t know if you’ll remember it but it’s the one with the Spanish royalty painting but all the heads of the royals are cats. It is, as an image, very striking, very non-literal. I’m not sure how the two relate other than the fact that I sense that they do, and I think sometimes that is good enough.

“The point of playing this music, the point of making this artwork is to create some sort of challenge, or offer some sort of alternative or opinion. Or, just to get a little weird. And that’ll break people from the norm and the norm, of course, being this over-compressed tripe that we call pop music. Whether that battle is purely against pop or somehow finding a new line within it that is interesting and engaging, or whether its apolitical, political, religious, semi-spiritual, just plain fun or weird for the sake of weird, it doesn’t matter as long as you’ve got an individual voice both on paper and on record. I think it’s important that we all continue to do what we do. Even though our canvas has somehow worked its way from 12-inches by 12-inches down to 100 pixels by 100 pixels I still believe in the LP format as a presentation of artwork.”

**Visit A Perfect Monster to learn more about John Dyer Baizley’s art
**Click HERE to order Baroness Live at Maida Vale

STREAMING: Gorguts “Colored Sands”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, July 29th, 2013

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Spoiler alert! The new Gorguts album, Colored Sands, rules. But you knew that already. The band that put Canadian death metal on the map—with Considered Dead and Erosion of Sanity—and then sent death metal into fits of spiral rage on 1998′s Obscura and 2001′s From Wisdom to Hate have returned, with class, chops, and curveballs intact. What’s funny is that few liked the “new” Gorguts in the late ’90s. Few understood leader Luc Lemay’s atonal song structures. Few reacted violently to what they didn’t understand. Almost Schönberg-like, if you will. Then again, several acknowledged the music behind the math and the meditative qualities of chaos, praising it, hailing it as an advancement, a quantum leap.

In 2013, Gorguts returns! With an all-star American lineup oddly enough. Enlisting drummer John Longstreth (Origin), Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia), and Colin Marston bassist (Behold the Arctopus, Krallice), Lemay solidified Gorguts as next-level next level death. “The collaboration with John, Colin and Kevin was awesome! They made this project very stimulating for me. They’re very creative, intelligent people, amazing Artists, great individuals, and great instrumentalists,” said Lemay in a recent Invisible Oranges interview. A clap of hands to that!

Even in times when complicated, busy death metal is accepted (more now than ever before), Gorguts floors everything on Colored Sands. They just think differently than most, refusing to ape their peers (and themselves) when ideas run dry. Take, for example, the title track, “Colored Sands.” There’s space, a sense of economy, of unbridled chaos opening up for brief moments to allow for introspection. And then it comes. The quirky, skronky movements. The chug of chugs behind serpentine riffs. In short, it’s challenging—mentally and instrumentally—but superb example of death metal living and breathing, thinking.

“The song “Colored Sands” tells the story about the intricate, poetic, mystic ritual of drawing sand mandalas,” says Lemay. “Tibetan pilgrims can walk for months, sometime a whole year, prostrating face to the ground every tree footsteps until they reach the place where the mandala will be executed. Once the mandala completed, the monks will dismantle the mandala, and take the sands to the closest stream of water. This stream will bring the sands to the river, the river to the immensity of the ocean to spread the mandala’s peace and beauty to the planet. The single harmonic, in the beginning of the song, pictures a single grain of sand hitting the ground…then with the pattern in 5 slowly appearing, illustrates the five elements in the Tibetan philosophy such as: air, water, fire, earth and space which are embodied in the mandala through their specific colors. From there the mandala slowly takes form in the music.”

** Gorguts new album, Colored Sands, is out August 30th on Season of Mist Records. It’s available HERE for pre-order on CD, LP (various colors), and as a t-shirt pack. Limitless options for eggheads and physicists alike!

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

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Monday, July 29th, 2013

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The dog days of August are certainly here, and boy howdy, there’s at least ONE release that I’m super-stoked on. Let’s get into it, shall we?

The masters of Gore Metal are back at it. EXHUMED release Necrocracy, and this thing rips. This gore-soaked platter has grooves, blasts, hooks and, well, plenty of gore. At times, this record is downright catchy and doesn’t suffer from any loss of extremity. See “Coins Upon the Eyes” or “The Carrion Call” for examples. The riffs stick to your ribs like a good VERY RARE steak. This is an amazing follow-up to last year’s barn-burner All Guts, No Glory, and just as good in a different way. The production is a little warm and could use a little more beak for my taste, but you know what? The songwriting is stellar, so pick this up. 8 Fucking Pecks.

Whatever happened to NORMA JEAN? I’m not too sure; maybe they were hanging out with Norma Stitz. Anyway, Wrongdoers is coming out, and golly are these boys pissed. You know how some bands tend to lose the anger and vitriol of their earlier recordings? Well, not Norma Jean. Often lumped in with metalcore, this is definitely a hardcore band with metallic leanings, so you know there are chugs and breakdowns and a little of that “wheedly-wheedly” stuff, so if that’s not your thing, you won’t dig this. But it’s pretty good; it’s mean, and doesn’t sound dated like that late ’90s/early ’00s hardcore that was huge back in the day. This sort of stuff isn’t really my cup of seeds, but a good solid record is a good solid record, and this is one. 7 Fucking Pecks.

WHOA, did it just get stale as peck up in here? Did someone open a bag of week old bagels? NEWSTED releases Heavy Metal Music, and it SUCKS. Not that anyone expected much, but really. It’s heavy metal all right, at times the riffs sounding like a watered down Motorhead, and Newsted’s vocals sound like a cross between Chuck Billy and Hetfield. Hopefully he has fun with this, because he doesn’t need the money. And don’t get me wrong: This is nowhere NEAR as bad as any Metallica albums post-Justice, but one wonders what’s the point? The riffs themselves are pedantic and go absolutely nowhere, and it seems that Newsted is forcing his ideas and trying to write “metal” topics. This is bland, boring and completely unnecessary. Not even good enough to be a joke. How about writing a good record INSTEAD, Mr. Newsted? 1 Fucking Peck.

STREAMING: Fyrnask “Vigil”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, July 29th, 2013

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As summer reaches her cruel arms into August (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), the days elongate (not scientifically), the sun burns hotter, and time stands still. The Dog Star blazes the night sky. These are, my friends, Canicular Days. But what if long-dead winter—his biting cold and piercing winds—suddenly came into view. A brief respite from dogs going mad and seas boiling over. Would you welcome his Majesty? Let’s find out.

For Germany’s Fyrnask, it’s always winter. Not superficially. Whether it’s the plains of northern Germany or the great Black Forest of the south, it’s perpetually cold in Fyrnask’s world. Formed by a single multi-instrumentalist Fyrnd (don’t Google Translate the name, please) a mere five years ago, Fyrnask has already issued one album, 2011′s Bluostar—new full-length Eldir Nótt arrives this September—to a blizzard of rave reviews.

Decibel was lucky to get an early glimpse of the eerie cold by premiering new Fyrnask track, “Vigil,” in all its 9-minute snow-draped glory. Welcome his Majesty. It’s OK, he (frost) bites.

** Fyrnask’s new album, Eldir Nótt, is out September 23rd, 2013 on Temple of Torturous. It’s not available for pre-order yet, but you can LIKE Temple of Torturous’ Facebook page for updates. Click HERE to Like.

BREWTAL TRUTH: Drink This Now!

By: adem Posted in: featured, liver failure On: Friday, July 26th, 2013

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

This week’s selections may well rub a lot of readers the wrong way as it seems that there are still metal fans who hold the city of Seattle and its late-’80/early-’90s grunge bands responsible for “killing metal” or some such nonsense. Our take on the subject is that that “death” was more or less self-inflicted. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains et al. just kind of kicked the corpse aside and did their thing. But this is about beer. And in this same era, Seattle was also one of the key cities for the growth of craft beer. Elysian started as a brewpub in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in 1996 and has grown into one of the city’s best purveyors of interesting, tasty, creative brews. (Plus their Elysian Fields bar by Safeco Field and Centurylink Field is thee place to drink before Mariners and Seahawks games.)

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LOSER
Pale Ale 7% ABV

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SUPERFUZZ
Blood Orange Pale Ale 5.4% ABV
Elysian

Seattle, WA

Loser was originally brewed five years ago to celebrate Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary, but it’s stuck around as a year-round offering. The original label had a live picture of Mudhoney on it, but the non-anniversary edition boasts the “Corporate Beer Still Sucks” tagline (a riff on SST Records’ “Corporate Rock Still Sucks” stickers and t-shirts from the late ’80s), a sentiment just as relevant today as it was a couple decades ago. Despite your feelings about grunge and the loser culture, this beer does not suck. At 7% ABV, it’s a robust version of an American pale ale (APA). Hell, this could pass for an IPA—sort of an English/American hybrid of the style. It has all the classic foresty/citrusy hop notes of a West Coast PA/IPA, but there’s a definite richness and roundness to the malt character and a certain lack of IPA crispness. It’s a big beer for summer sipping, but, man, is it well balanced and easy to drink.

The label of Superfuzz looks like something out of the psychedelic ’60s, but our own personal association is with Mudhoney’s seminal EP, Superfuzz Bigmuff, thus the pairing with Loser in this column. This is a warm-weather seasonal for Elysian and, unlike Loser, this is definitely more of drink-more-than-one thirst quencher. It’s not exactly a session beer, but it’s much lighter bodied and refreshing. Take a sniff and it’s pretty much like any other well-brewed West Coast APA. You can’t really detect much blood orange, or any orange. (Honestly, does anyone know what blood orange actually tastes like? Is it any different from an orange orange? Really?) But take a swig and the orange is there nicely complementing the hoppy citrus notes. It’s not “loud in the mix,” so to speak, but it adds a nice tart fruitiness. There’s just a hint of sweetness here, making the finish crisp and dry.

If you can find it in your heart to forgive Seattle for putting Ratt, Bang Tango, Cinderella, Warrant and about a hundred other useless hairfarms out business, then we suggest you try these beers.