Decibrity Playlist: Skeletonwitch

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, October 31st, 2013

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Dustin Boltjes has a lot of reasons to be pumped right now. His band Skeletonwitch released its fifth (and possibly best) full-length, Serpents Unleashed, on Tuesday (probably the most important item on this list). The Ohio quintet just kicked off a string of tourdates alongside The Black Dahlia Murder. Oh, and he and bandmate Chance Garnette appear in the latest episode of Kids Interview Bands (definitely the most hilarious). Album cycle hoopla aside, the drummer is also pretty psyched about the current state of death metal. We’ll let him take it from here. “Death metal is alive and breathing! The last year or so has been monumental for new death metal releases. In particular, the wave of classic death metal bands (i.e. Gorguts, Suffocation, Carcass) returning to reclaim the throne and prove to the newer wave of death metal bands that not only are these bands alive, but quite frankly still doing it better, some 20-plus years later.”

So we present to you Dustin’s “Death Metal Is Not Dead” playlist, complete with three old-school bonus selections. Feel free to listen along here and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Skeletonwitch’s killer new record here.

Gorguts’ “Forgotten Arrows” (from 2013’s Colored Sands)
Gorguts has been and always will be my absolute favorite death metal band. It started with Considered Dead in the early ’90s and with every album since they have managed to keep you on your toes and constantly evolve. When they disappeared after the amazing From Wisdom to Hate, I accepted that they were gone forever. Then out of nowhere, words began to spread of a newly reformed Gorguts with an unbelievable lineup to back the genius that is Luc Lemay. I began to grow increasingly impatient, like a kid waiting for Christmas morning, to hear this “new” Gorguts. After an extensive wait, HOLY SHIT! They not only returned with a vengeance, but in my opinion have released the best death metal album to come out in the last decade. Hail the mighty GORGUTS!

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Suffocation’s “Purgatorial Punishment” (from 2013’s Pinnacle Of Bedlam)
Suffocation has done it again. Absolutely crushing release from these guys. In a world full of cookie cutter “death metal” bands, they have continued to set the bar in brutality. And to all of you “deathcore” breakdown kings, this band truly understands what a breakdown riff should consist of. Period. Wimps and poseurs, take note.

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Carcass’s “Captive Bolt Pistol” (from 2013’s Surgical Steel)
I’ve always been that guy that thought Heartwork was and will always be their best record to date. I love the grindier, grittier approach on Necroticism, but Heartwork just really hit it home for me. Now they have returned and pretty much took the best parts of both those records and meshed them into one killer death metal album. Welcome back Carcass! We’ve missed you…

carcass

The Black Dahlia Murder’s “Into The Everblack” (from 2013’s Everblack)
I honestly was never a fan of these guys until we toured with them and I got to witness night after night just how unbelievably talented these dudes are. In my opinion, these guys are single-handedly one of the best modern death metal bands to emerge post-2000. And with every record, they’ve gotten more vicious. This album is without a doubt TBDM at its finest. Cannot wait to hit the road with these guys again in October!

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Wormed’s “Stellar Depopulation” (from 2013’s Exodromos)
Razor sharp and unrelenting. I don’t listen to a lot of the more technical death metal, but once I heard this, I was completely blown away. I cannot get enough of this record. Approach with caution…

wormed

Dordeduh’s “Cumpăt” (from 2012’s Dar De Duh)
A friend of mine turned me on to these guys. I don’t know much about them, but I do know that this is the perfect album to smoke some weed, kick back and take the journey into madness. Stellar fucking record!

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Portal’s “Kilter” (from 2013’s Vexovoid)
This a complete and total mindfuck. ‘Nuff said…

portal

The last three songs for my playlist are from classic death metal albums. These songs rule and still hold strong this many years later:

Deicide’s “In Hell I Burn” (from 1992’s Legion)
I can remember listening to this record on acid when I was 16 years old and truly getting scared. Hands down, one of the most evil records ever created.

deicide

Disincarnate’s “Stench of Paradise Burning” (from 1993’s Dreams Of The Carrion Kind)
One of my all time favorite death metal records. The song writing is perfect. It’s brutal, melodic and quite frankly way ahead of its time. James Murphy’s soloing on this record is as good as it gets! If you’ve never heard this album, go listen to it right now!

disincarnate

Cannibal Corpse’s “Shredded Humans” (from 1990’s Eaten Back To Life)
This was technically the first death metal song I had ever heard with young 14 year old virgin ears. And I fell in love. Brutal, uncompromising and hilariously awesome gory lyrics to go along with it! This album made me wanna play drums like this. And now, 23 years later, it’s still a huge influence of mine.

cannibal

*Order Serpents Unleashed here.

**Skeletonwitch tour dates (2013 dates with The Black Dahlia Murder, Fallujah, Noisem and Wolvhammer; 2014 dates with Amon Amarth and Enslaved):

31-Oct Ritual Ottawa, Canada
1-Nov Rum Runners London, Canada
2-Nov Mod Club Toronto, Canada
4-Nov Crocks Thunder Bay, Canada
6-Nov WECC Winnipeg, Canada
7-Nov Louis’ Saskatoon, Canada
8-Nov Avenue Theatre Edmonton, Canada
9-Nov THE DEN Calgary, Canada
11-Nov The Biltmore Vancouver, Canada
12-Nov The Center Spokane, WA
13-Nov Wow Hall Eugene, OR
14-Nov Whiskey Dicks South Lake Tahoe, CA
15-Nov Strummers Fresno, CA
16-Nov Glasshouse Pomona, CA
17-Nov The Rock Tucson, AZ
18-Nov Tricky Falls El Paso, TX
19-Nov Club Patron Odessa, TX
20-Nov Conservatory Oklahoma City, OK
21-Nov Outland Ballroom Springfield, MO
22-Nov Firebird St Louis, MO
23-Nov BLUE MOOSE Iowa City, IA
24-Nov The Castle Theatre Bloomington, IL
25-Nov Mojoes Joliet, IL
26-Nov The Intersection Grand Rapids, MI
27-Nov The Machine Shop Flint, MI
17-Jan House of Blues Las Vegas, NV
18-Jan Club Red Phoenix, AZ
20-Jan Backstage Live San Antonio, TX
21-Jan House of Blues Dallas, TX
22-Jan House of Blues Houston, TX
23-Jan Siberia New Orleans, LA
24-Jan Center Stage Atlanta, GA
25-Jan The Ritz Tampa, FL
26-Jan Revolution Fort Lauderdale, FL
28-Jan The Jinx Savannah, GA
29-Jan THE FILLMORE Charlotte, NC
30-Jan The Norva Norfolk, VA
31-Jan The Fillmore Silver Spring, MD
1-Feb House of Blues Boston, MA
3-Feb TLA Philadelphia, PA
4-Feb Irving Plaza New York, NY
5-Feb Irving Plaza New York, NY
7-Feb House Of Blues Chicago, IL
8-Feb Mill City Nights Minneapolis, MN
9-Feb Granada Theatre Lawrence, KS
11-Feb Summit Music Hall Denver, CO
12-Feb Murray Theatre Salt Lake City, UT
14-Feb Regency Ballroom San Francisco, CA
15-Feb The Wiltern Los Angeles, CA
16-Feb House of Blues San Diego San Diego, CA

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

Past entries include:

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)

Metal Yoga With André Foisy #1

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: diary, featured, gnarly one-offs, videos On: Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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André Foisy plays guitar in Locrian and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at Turbodog Yoga in Chicago, IL. You can find his yoga teaching schedule and more information about him on his blog.

When I tour, I notice that parts of my body start to hurt once that I begin sitting in a van for extended periods and moving furniture from city to city. In my last few tours, I’ve been doing yoga to help me to feel my best. I normally suffer from low back pain and the pain gets pretty intense when I tour. Lately, I’ve been using a pose that I’m calling the Iron Monkey Pose, in honor of one of my favorite bands, to maintain a pain free back on tour and to loosen up my tight hamstrings (the muscles in the back of the thighs).

Low back pain and tight hamstrings go together like PBR and stomach cramps (at least for me). It works like this: tight hamstrings limit the range of motion in the pelvis, so the low back does the work that the legs would be doing if the hamstrings weren’t so tight. So if your low back hurts on tour, then you need to do something not only about your back, but also about your tight hamstrings. Certain things on tour make tight hamstrings and low back pain worse, such as sitting in a van for hours or by lifting amps with poor postures. Iron Monkey Pose relieves low back pain quickly and efficiently by lengthening the torso, strengthening the upper back, and opening up the hamstrings by fatiguing the quads.

The pose is easy to do when stopping to get gas, when you stop to eat dinner at Cracker Barrel, or when your van driver gets pulled over in Oklahoma because you all look the way that you do. You could even do a variation of this pose while seated in the van or chair.

Here’s how the pose works:

Iron Monkey Pose fatigues the quads, which causes a muscle release in the hamstrings. The quads are the antagonist muscle of the hamstrings. When the quads engage, then a muscle receptor in the quad sends a signal to the brain telling it that the quads are contracting and that the antagonist muscle of the quads, the hamstrings, needs to release so that the quads won’t tear.

Benefits:
-Decreases bitching in the van
-Reduces the desire for anti-depressants on tour as well as intoxicating substances
-Releases low back tension, by lengthening spine
-Strengthens quads
-Releases hamstrings quickly, and safely
-Enhances energy

How to work in the pose:
1) Begin by standing with the feet hip distance apart with the knees directly under the hips;
2) Activate the feet (toes are spread and off the ground);
3) Place the weight in the heels;
4) Bend the knees and stick out the butt slightly;
5) Lower the ribcage so that it’s pressed up against the thighs;
6) Clasp hands around elbows;
7) Draw the shoulder blades down the back;
8) Draw the breath into the ribcage;
9) Press arms against legs, tractioning the torso longer and away from the hips;
10) Relax the neck and let the quads smoke.

When the quads begin to quiver, then stay there and keep breathing slowly and deeply.

Variation: This pose can be executed in the van by sitting and then following steps 5-10. This variation won’t release the hamstrings, but it will lengthen the torso and strengthen the upper back.

Preview a live Municipal Waste track from “Decibel’s 100th Issue Show: The Movie” DVD!

By: mr ed Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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You may have noticed that Decibel hit the 100-issue mark earlier this year. You may have even heard we threw a little party to celebrate that achievement. But did you know we also filmed and it turned into a fucking movie? Yeah, you probably knew that, too. But did you know that it will finally be available on DVD this Friday, November 1st EXCLUSIVELY through the Decibel webstore? Okay, we may have mentioned that several dozen times as well.

So, at the risk of repeating the obvious, here’s something new: a clip of Municipal Waste performing “You’re Cut Off” as featured on the DVD.

Dig it now, and grab “Decibel’s 100th Issue Show: The Movie” here on Friday.

Sucker For Punishment: And then my MIND split open

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured, uncategorized On: Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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As you probably know from the endless stream of obituaries, tributes, and remembrances, Lou Reed died this past Sunday morning. Interestingly, none of the prominent metal blogs have mentioned his passing, save for the odd snarky remark about how we’ll never have a sequel to Lulu now. And it’s understandable, I suppose, because Reed’s music came from a distinctly different place than heavy metal: Black Sabbath came from the grime of postwar Birmingham, while Reed was an English major from Long Island who fell in with the Warhol crowd.

However, his band The Velvet Underground would go on to be one of the most influential bands in rock ‘n’ roll history – anticipating punk rock, post-punk, noise, shoegaze, drone, and avant-garde – and because modern metal’s post-millenial breadth now overlaps into all of those forms of music, Reed’s shadow does loom over metal today as well. In fact, for all the talk about “extremity” in metal circles – Decibel is, after all, “extremely extreme” – Lou Reed was doing some of the most extreme things rock ‘n’ roll had ever seen between 1966 and 1975. With the Velvets, he experimented with atonality (“European Son”), searing feedback (“I Heard Her Call My Name”), epic blasts of rock ‘n’ roll fury (“Sister Ray”), song structure (“The Murder Mystery”). As a solo artist he accentuated glam rock with an abrasive, out-of-the-gutter grittiness (Transformer, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal), made a full blown orchestral rock opera (Berlin), and predated abstract drone music on the notorious Metal Machine Music.

And in true metal fashion, when Reed did something, he always went all-in, whether in challenging his audiences with noise, showing an unabashed tender side, paying tribute to Edgar Allen Poe on The Raven, or, yes, making an album with Metallica as his backing band. Who cares if he failed the odd time? He went into every project with passion every time, and did it. No rock artist was ballsier than he. Two years after the metal world guffawed at Lulu, I suggest you go back to “Junior Dad”, its only meritorious song, and you’ll hear some genuine soul. Not even Metallica’s ham-handed playing could suppress Reed’s power.

So while there’s a crazy number of new albums out this week, including a few that are totally worth hearing, this week’s essential music is Lou fucking Reed. If you’re going to spend some money on music in the next few days, and are not familiar with Reed’s work, there’s no time like the present to start now. Take your pick: those wildly diverse Velvet Underground albums (White Light/White Heat is one of the heaviest, most abrasive albums of all time), Transformer, Berlin, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, the pleasant Coney Island Baby, the lucid The Blue Mask, the wonderful, stark New York. Either way, you’ll be starting an incredible journey of musical discovery. If he’s cvlt enough for Krieg, he’s cvlt enough for you.

Here are the best new albums of the last truly crazy week of 2013:

Corrections House, Last City Zero (Neurot): The level of talent alone in Corrections house is stunning: Mike IX Williams, Scott Kelly, Bruce Lamont, Sanford Parker. For all the big names, though, the best thing about this album is just how brazenly non-traditional it is. Sludge, doom, and noise coalesce throughout its eight tracks, but are woven into something altogether peculiar, creating a mesmerizing industrial/darkwave whole that somehow avoids sounding dated. Like Vhöl earlier this year, this is one supergroup that not only emerges triumphant, but completely surprises.

Hail Of Bullets, III: The Rommel Chronicles (Metal Blade): As good as Asphyx’s 2012 album Deathhammer was, as cool as it was to see them play a devastating doom/death set this past April, I personally get more out of Hail of Bullets. Perhaps it’s because Martin Van Drunen’s WWII-inspired band is more thematically focused, or maybe it’s because his backing musicians in this band are a little more melodically refined, but either way this is another stellar album by the guys. Pulverizing in its power, yet underscored by mournful melodies that lend gravitas to the darkly themed music, it broaches the serious subject with theatricality and respect.

Inquisition, Obscure Verses For The Multiverse (Season Of Mist): Inquisition’s latest – and heavily hyped, thanks to Season of Mist – album continues for the most part the duo’s savage yet workmanlike take on black metal, but midway through the worm turns, as “Joined by Dark Matter Repelled by Dark Energy” showcases some real inventiveness in its elastic lead riff, its use of atonality, and its progressive nature. From then on things get nuts, from the throttling intensity of “Arrival of Eons After” and the measured pace of “Inversion of Ethereal White Stars”. What starts off as a good follow-up to 2011’s Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm gradually turns into something rather extraordinary. And its artwork is simply stunning. It’s been a down year for straight-ahead Satanic black metal, but this is one of a few standouts. Just try not to be distracted by the Popeye vocals.

Russian Circles, Memorial (Sargent House): Who needs words, anyway? Metal/heavy rock/prog lyrics are 90% boring these days. Russian Circles evoke more feeling and expression in their instrumental music than your average band with a singer, and on the follow-up to 2011’s revelatory Empros they’re at the top of their game. Impeccably paced, and surprisingly economical in both performance and songwriting – it’s not much more than half an hour long – the foursome is utterly spellbinding. And when the great Chelsea Wolfe makes an appearance on the heartbreaking title track, in keeping with the band’s aesthetic, her imperceptible, dreamy vocalizing packs a massive wallop. Like the film Lost in Translation, sometimes not knowing what’s said has an even bigger impact.

Sepultura, The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (Nuclear Blast): Even five years ago I would never have thought Sepultura would be making the more creatively vital music than Max Cavalera’s Soulfly, but that’s indeed the case, as the Brazilian greats have been on a good creative roll since 2009’s A-Lex. Their 13thalbum sees them reuniting with Roots Bloody Roots producer Ross Robinson, and not surprisingly it’s the most pulverizing Sepultura record to come along in years. It’s a tough one to get into at first because of its sheer atonality, but it does settle in, turning out to be a spirited, inspired record, Andreas Kisser’s riffs propelled by young Eloy Casagrande, one of the best live drummers I have ever seen.

Untimely Demise, Systematic Eradication (Punishment 18): Unlike Toxic Holocaust, Untimely Demise’s brand of thrash is devoutly Eurocentric, and unlike Warbringer (see below), they know what they’re doing on their new record. Slickly recorded and performed and with a strong sense of dynamics as well as intricacy, the Canadian band take a big step forward on the follow-up to 2010’s City of Steel, coming across as a neat balance between Arch Enemy and Kreator. Songs like “Spiritual Embezzlement” and “Somali Pirates” are absolute scorchers, while “The Last Guildsman” and “Revolutions” showcase lead shredder/vocalist Matt Cuthbertson’s greatly improving melodic sensibility. Highly recommended. Stream it here and order it here.

Also out this week:

Ayreon, The Theory Of Everything (Inside Out): The king of the bloated prog metal opus, Arjen Lucassen is back with his most bombastic work yet, a crazed double album musical loaded with high-profile guest musicians including Steve Hackett, Reick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, and members of Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, Grand Magus, Kamelot, and more. Lucassen does have a knack for engaging vocal melodies, which help tie this four-part, 90-minute mess together, and the arrangements, as wankeriffic as ever, hold back just enough to avoid sounding impenetrable. It’s a ludicrous piece of work, but done with skill, and I’m quite surprised I don’t hate it.

Dethklok, Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem A Klok Opera Score (Willams St): People still watch this show? I haven’t seen the actual one-hour special episode of the metal cartoon, but from a musical standpoint it’s a curious one, as Brendon Small downplays his faux-death metal the kids likes so much for something a lot more self-indulgent. At times it veers toward Queen and the manic quality of Devin Townsend, but for the most part it pays homage to the sung-through musical. It had to be a monumental project for Small and his collaborators, but unfortunately, none of the songs are very engaging at all, a mess of hookless songs that tell a story that’s not very interesting to begin with.

Devin Townsend Project, Retinal Circus (Inside Out): The ultimate treat for Devin Townsend fans, this lavish DVD/CD set was recorded a year ago in London, where Townsend and his friends performed a whopping 25-song set spanning his long, eclectic career. Personally I don’t think he’s ever sounded better than on Addicted, Deconstruction, and Epicloud, and they’re represented well here. Whatever era is your favorite, if you like Devin’s kooky music you will absolutely love this set.

Doyle, Abominator (Monsterman): He might have played a crucial role as guitarist for the Misfits, but the devilocked behemoth is going for a Pantera-meets-punk sound on his solo debut. From the unimaginative riffs, to the rampant pinch squeals, to the bland vocals, nothing on this record leaves any sort of impression whatsoever on listeners, inspiring nothing but apathy. No, wait, “Cemetarysexxx” [sic] is mildly amusing. But go listen to Walk Among Us and the self-titled Misfits compilation instead.

East Of The Wall, Redaction Artifacts (Translation Loss): The daring New jersey band is back with another record that straddles multiple genres with great skill. Once again, progressive rock, noise, post-punk, and sludge metal are referenced but never solely relied on in these elastic compositions, instead turning into an adventurous, cohesive whole that blends melody and atonality well, at times beautifully. Like Intronaut, this is wholly unclassifiable music, created and performed with tremendous discipline.

Enbilulugugal, Noizemongers For Goatserpent (Crucial Blast): Two CDs, a whopping 79 shrill, pointless songs of “hyperblast blacknoise musical scum.” Todd Flanders put it best. Stream it via Bandcamp if you’re so inclined. 

Germ, Grief (Eisenwald): I won’t hide my love of black metal meshed with post-punk, and the latest album by musician Tim Yatras whets that appetite very, very well. Swirling guitars, tortured vocals, and melancholy melodies intertwine, which makes for a compelling contrast, but things get truly unpredictable when Yatras indulges his more mainstream pop predilections, as on “The Stain of Past Regrets”. And for those who dearly miss Amesoeurs, Audrey Sylvain pops in for a cameo vocal appearance on two tracks. Stream this splendid album here at the Deciblog. 

Harm Wülf, There’s Honey In The Soil So We Wait For The Till (Deathwish): This new project by Blacklisted vocalist G. Hirsch follows in the footsteps of Angels of Light, Across Tundras, USX, and Scott Kelly, delving deep into the murkier side of Americana with a series of lo-fi acoustic compositions. It feels as if Hirsch still needs to find his own identity – the Gira/Kelly influence is obvious – but this is an otherwise promising start.

Kataklysm, Waiting For The End To Come (Nuclear Blast): The Quebec death metal veterans do More Of The Same on their 11th album, an occasionally pulverizing but mostly contentedly mid-paced record that confidently balances melody and physicality without venturing too far outside that comfort zone. It’s pleasant enough, and perhaps the highest compliment I can give it is that it’s probably their strongest of their last few albums. “Dead and Buried” and “Empire of Dirt” are a couple of keepers.

Kill Devil Hill, Revolution Rise (Century Media): If Pantera is at the top of the ladder with Down a couple rungs below and Hellyeah at the very bottom, Kill Devil Hill would be comfortably in the middle. The second album by Rex Brown, Vinnie Appice, and two other guys is often lazy, wallowing in milquetoast post-grunge drudgery, but when they focus on actual heavy metal, it’s not too shabby. At least they have a firm grasp of hooks, something Hellyeah has not figured out.

Mutation, Error 500 (Ipecac): Speaking of supergroups, here’s one that doesn’t exactly work. Sure, the idea of Shame Embury and Ginger Wildheart joining forces with Merzbow and Mark E. Smith (!) might seem neat on paper, the end result is a crazily unfocused mishmash of grind and noise. Although I will say I dig the weirdo, vaguely Fall-style jam with Smith on “Mutations”.

Myka, Relocate, Lies To Light The Way (Razor & Tie): Yikes. I’m invoking the Tokyo Blade Rule on this one.

Necrophobic, Womb Of Lilithu (Season Of Mist): First of all, good for the members of Necrophobic for distancing themselves from convicted wife beater and child beater Tobias Sidegard and giving him the boot. But his vocals remain on this album, so if you’re going to buy this undeniably strong blackened death metal album, be aware you’re still putting money in this jerk’s pocket.

Noctum, Final Sacrifice (Metal Blade): The Uppsala, Sweden band are definitely on to something good with their promising Mercyful Fate-by-way-of-Pentagram style, much like their local peers in In Solitude. Despite pushing a lot of the right buttons – David Indelöf is a terrific singer – the songs lack staying power and mystique. They sound like they’re one record away from a real breakthrough. “The Revisit” is a standout, but overall, this band’s not quite there yet.

Protest The Hero, Volition (Razor & Tie): The popular Canadian prog-metalcore band can play the hell out of their instruments, there’s no question about that. For all the ingeniously manic arrangements and equally histrionic vocals, however, what matters most is whether they can keep everything from flying out of control. As usual, the instrumental wizardry is rampant on their fourth album, but only sporadically do any of these songs stick. “Tilting Against Windmills” is a great example of how good Protest the Hero can be when they streamline their music just a touch, but far too often the arbitrary feel of the arrangements fails to connect with any listener who doesn’t loiter at Guitar Center all day. Even the best prog bands know you shouldn’t make your audience work this hard to get into your music.

Sabaton, Swedish Empire Live (Nuclear Blast): Yes, I genuinely enjoy Sabaton. Their war themes do come across as cartoonish at times, but at its best their brand of power metal is bracing and fun. European audiences agree, as you can see and hear on this stunning new DVD/CD release, recorded at an outdoor festival in Poland in front of more than half a million people. All the hits are carted out (“Cliffs of Gallipoli” is my personal fave) as well as selections from their outstanding 2012 Carolus Rex, all performed with verve and charisma. Fans will love this one.

Sirens & Sailors, Skeleton (Razor & Tie): You’re using electronic gimmickry to enhance the intricate stops and starts Meshuggah invented 20 years ago. That’s cheating, kids. Go away, and stop wasting everyone’s time.

Skeletonwitch, Serpents Unleashed (Prosthetic): Another album, another collection of exuberant blackened thrash tunes by the ever-lovable Ohio band. Teaming up with Kurt Ballou was a good decision, too, as he not only gives this record his typically slick-yet-savage tone, but he helps emphasize the band’s melodies a little more than usual, and it’s no coincidence that this is Skeletonwitch’s most immediately catchy album to date.

Testament, Dark Roots of Thrash (Nuclear Blast): recroded earlier this year in New York City, this live album/DVD is a very good snapshot of present-day Testament, showcasing the strength of their excellent post-comeback albums, as well as revisiting their ‘80s classics. The band sounds even more taut than usual thanks to the great Gene Hoglan on drums, and Chuck Billy is in fine vocal form. Anyone who loves Testament – and that should be all of you – will thoroughly enjoy this set.

Toxic Holocaust, Chemistry Of Consciousness (Relapse): Joel Grind, this month’s Decibel cover star, has come through with yet another simple yet fun full-length of thrash at its most straightforward. Mixed by Kurt Ballou – but not produced, that’s the key – the album retains a lot of the filth that folks have come to expect from Toxic Holocaust, but at the same time there’s more punch in the songs, which actually show more dynamic range than Grind’s past work. It’s not the thrash album of the year by any stretch – hello, Noisem – but this is nevertheless an enjoyable record by a prolific and consistent musician.

Tribune, Tales (Corpse Corrosion): This Vancouver band is a curious one. One minute, they sound like a decent Volbeat knock-off. The next they’re doing melodic traditional metal in the same vein as Tyr. Then they’re playing harsher sounding sludge. Then Pantera riffs. They do each of those things well, but unlike fellow Vancouverites Anciients, it leads to a lack of focus in the songwriting. This thing is all over the map.

Warbringer, IV: Empires Collapse (Century Media): What happened to this band? I’ve been following Warbringer since their demo surfaced in my mailbox years ago, and have always considered their Sacrifice-style music among the best of the new generation of thrash bands, but this new album sounds lost. The band seems at a crossroads, unsure where to go next, because the entire record is torn between “extreme” metal and punk, as if the guys are bored with doing what made them so good in the first place. From the rampant blastbeats to the boring hardcore tracks (“One Dimension” is heinous), this is a waste of time. Stick to what you’re best at, guys.

Winds Of Plague, Resistance (Century Media): How fleeting is children’s metal notoriety these days? What was hilarious five years ago is now boring – and dare I say, competent – compared to a wave of even more ludicrous new bands. Congrats, Winds of Plague, you’ve graduated from “walking joke” to “irrelevant”.

Zodiac, A Hiding Place (Prosthetic): The German band plays spirited blues rock, but even if a band is charmingly stripped down and retro, it’s still nothing without personality, and that sense of identity just isn’t there. While pleasant, this album is far too generic. And sorry, guys, but Built to Spill did the best of “Cortez the Killer” of all time, and that still can’t top Crazy Horse. Don’t bother trying.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, Uzu (Suicide Squeeze): At first the concept behind this Montreal project seemed fairly straightforward, reflected in the name: The Asian heritage of masterminds Ruby Kato Attwood and Alaska B colliding with Sleep-derived doom metal. But ever since expanding to a full touring band, they’ve proven to be something even more amorphous. Their live shows were revelatory compared to 2011’s excellent YT//ST, and now the follow-up Uzu shows just how far they’ve come. Stylistically it’s all over the map – it veers from Yoko Ono abstractness, to classic prog, to doom, to First Nations music – but it segues from style to style gracefully, plaintive giving way to heavy, to menacing, to operatic. Highlighted by “Whalesong”, “Hall of Mirrors”, and the gorgeous “Seasickness” suite, art rock doesn’t get any better than this.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy

(photo via Tumblr)

Six Steps Toward Extreme Metal Halloween Preparedness

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, king fucking diamond, lists On: Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

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Halloween is this Thursday. Decibel wants you to be ready.

1. Minor Threat-aping Texas Chainsaw Massacre T-shirt

The genius behind this Salad Days EP cover re-imagining

…should start an agency with whoever came up with “Guilty of Being Dwight” pic below, stat:

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(Picture cribbed from the Salad Days: The D.C. Punk Revolution documentary Facebook page.)

2. Crazy Tom G. Warrior “Life-Sized Concrete Death Masks”

You really have to see this stuff to believe it…

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…but for those who can’t afford one of these (understandably pricey) heavy-as-heavy-gets collection cornerstones the official Exodus Tempo of the Damned pullover is a nice non-budget busting option.

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3. The new HOWLING EP

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STREAMING: The Golden Grass “One More Time”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

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Limited edition records are kind of stupid. Every record, even Michael Jackson’s Thriller, are limited. At least, that’s what the late great Doug Earp (he of Wyatt Earp Records; Repulsion fans take note) said to me one day while I was buying a Cathedral Soul Sacrifice 12″. And he was absolutely right. Nevertheless, labels continue to limit the number of copies available for obvious reasons. One) to fuel demand. Two) pressing records is expensive and no label manager worth his/her salt wants to sit on crates of unsellable records. That being said, the latest 7″ from New York City’s own heavy-hazy rockers The Golden Grass is limited to 200 copies on either side of the Atlantic (buy links below) and there’s not much we can do about it, except rejoice in the throwback grooves that feel like the first time Moonmadness or One Way…Or Another blared, all scratchy and slightly warped, on dad’s dusty Technics player.

To drive the point home, this is what The Golden Grass says “One More Time” is all about. Yeah, fits right in with summers of our youth, a time forgotten to the bullshit “everything’s connected” era we currently die like enslaved dogs in: “It’s a song about a girl that you fall in love with, for a day, when you’re traveling in some strange city, like Portland or New Orleans. And she has a Vespa or a moped, and you ride around town with her, all day, getting wasted, riding on her bike. Total magic. Then, you never see her again. You want to, but it never happens. Then months later you realize the beauty of the moment you two shared.”

So, it’s with corduroy dreams and Pinto nightmares that Decibel, in cooperation with Finland’s Svart Records, brings you “One More Time” from The Golden Grass. Cutting a rug is mandatory, natch.

** The Golden Grass’ “One More Time / Tornado” 7″ is out now on in the US on Electric Assault. Americans who like to boogie like it’s late summer 1972 can do so by clicking HERE. Europeans, who like the Americans, want to enjoy memories of a hazy summer back when times were great, can do so HERE on Svart Records.

STREAMING: Germ’s “Grief”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

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The solo project of the incredibly prolific Tim Yatras (Austere, Grey Waters, ex-Nazxul, ex-Woods of Desolation, etc), Germ is, in a lot of ways, a band in disguise – which is appropriate, considering it’s almost Halloween. Instead of being a sexy pirate or sexy pizza, though, this is a killer post-punk/new wave band dressed as atmospheric black metal. It’s a really weird clash, but also one that works. Yatras uses depression as the common factor, and from there combines the two sounds without hybridizing them or losing sight of the individual identities. Disembodied screams transform into sweet singing and vice versa, waves of feedback coalesce into triumphant guitar solos, minor key slashing gives way to epic hooks. Their second album, Grief, is one of the weirdest things you’ll hear this year, and one of the best. We’ve already premiered one song from the album, “Butterfly.” Here’s the rest.

 

***Grief is out now courtesy of Eisenwald. You can order it here.

EXCLUSIVE STREAM: Demonical “King Of All”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, October 28th, 2013

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Dearest death-heads, please affix your finest gurn of appreciation as we welcome an exclusive stream of “King of All”, a real chunky piece of slo-mo O.S.D.M. chug taken from Demonical’s gnarly forthcoming Metal Blade LP, Darkness Unbound.

As you would expect from Demonical, Darkness Unbound is one unsophisticated beast; Demonical, lest we forget, are graduates from the early ‘90s Swedish death metal scene, having been formed in 2006 by Centinex alumni Daniel Gustavsson, Martin Schulman and Ronnie Bergerståhl. When Centinex split they had left behind a sound that was growing ever more melodic and further from their roots in lo-fi death metal. Decadence: Prophecies of Cosmic Chaos and World Declension are not likely to ever be mistaken for the work of In Flames, but they lacked the weight and untutored brutality of albums such as Centinex’s crude debut, Subconscious Lobotomy, and the awesome Transcend the Dark Chaos EP. Demonical reverses this trend.

Four albums in, they still hark back to those old-school values; less sophistry, more swollen riffs. Darkness Unbound, recorded at Necromorbus and Wing Studios in Stockholm, is raw, it’s meaty . . . And it’s only fitting that we should preview “King of All”. As the album’s epic centrepiece, it is a real heffer of a track, a lead-spined bison with a sort-of “God of Emptiness” vibe. Well, almost; certainly, it feels similarly epic. Check it out:

**Pre-order Darkness Unbound here
**Demonical on Facebook

VIDEO PREMIERE: From Hell “Holy War”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, videos On: Monday, October 28th, 2013

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Michigan’s From Hell is the latest quality act from the Motor City. Self-described as d-beat meets thrash meets goth, From Hell’s Dischange-covering-Converge-with-Boss-HM-2s-hooked-up-for-maximum-effect is right down our proverbial plate. The group’s new full-length, Heresy, has been out since June, but From Hell are just now premiering—thanks to Paper+Plastick Records—the video for Heresy’s most intense track, “Holy War”.

Here’s what From Hell’s Chris Zomerfeld has to say about “Holy War” and working with 3D motion designer Matt Frodsham. “Vinny from Paper+Plastick hooked us up with Matt Frodsham and we let him pick which song he wanted to do a video for from the album. We were excited when he picked ‘Holy War’ because it’s one of the most energy packed visceral songs on the album, so we were excited to see what he would do with it. He blew our minds with all the stuff that he created from scratch for the video! So much demonic, blasphemous, and creepy imagery. The song is about religion and the way it twists the psyche, and how the only solution is to destroy it. The creepy dark images fit perfectly with the music and lyrical content. What’s darker and weirder than religion?”

Exactly. What’s darker and weirder than religion? Nothing. Don’t believe us (that’s Decibel and From Hell)? Look up Krampus. Or Youtube videos about Christian snake handlers. Look up Cynocephaly. Or read up on the bullshit that’s Mormonism. Without further tirades on oddities of Christianity, here’s “Holy War”.

** Check out From Hell on Bandcamp. Click HERE.

** From Hell’s Heresy was released June 25th on Paper+Plastick Records. It’s available HERE.

Andrew Craighan (My Dying Bride) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, October 25th, 2013

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** We make it no secret we’re fans of My Dying Bride. From their Hall of Fame induction to innumerable citations in pages and blogs, My Dying Bride has appealed to our inner and outer miser for an age or two. Well, this session was originally sent off to My Dying Bride in June, hoping to get a scoop on the group’s Maryland Deathfest announcement, but since this is doom we had to wait until October for the Bride to answer. Either way, scoop or not, we’re still happy-sad.

Map of All Our Failures had some interesting stuff on it, but I felt it lacked the spirit of previous full-lengths. Obviously, this is from a fan’s perspective, but was there a different musical approach to Map than, say, For Lies I Sire or A Line of Deathless Kings?
Andrew Craighan: Hi, Chris. Yes, a big difference really. We spent probably the best part of two years going through various riff structures and ideas, writing and re-writing, recorded The Barghest O’ Whitby EP (a limited release) in between and still had more for a second EP The Manuscript after it. We didn’t feel we compromised in any way and meticulously ensured that what we were writing made us (primarily heavy metal fans who like doom) happy. So, we didn’t feel we were lacking anything from an insider’s perspective. And if we did it wasn’t spirit. If there’s one thing you do need 23 years on is the will and energy to do it, which we had in fucking oodles. It has the same spirit as any other release had in my view.

Although I felt it lagged a bit in spots, Map seems to be wildly appreciated by longtime fans. What did you make of the response?
Andrew Craighan: I think the response was to be as expected in a rather downbeat way. It’s pretty simple, some people really liked it and some didn’t. For me, there was new kind of reaction to it too, which I quite enjoyed for its honesty and simplicity, which was a new breed of young metaller. The ones with short hair and loads of neck tattoos kind of picked up on it and said I have no idea who or what the fuck these guys are doing and I don’t fucking like it because it’s too slow and miserable but they’re clearly good at whatever it is so 8/10. We saw this a lot. One review from someone, who could only be 9-years old, proclaimed he liked the bits that sounded like Tenacious D and when it didn’t sound like Tenacious D he didn’t like it 5/10. Isn’t the Intershed wonderful? You simply can’t argue with logic like that. And why would you?

You used Mags for Map. Did you know what you wanted production-wise going in? There’s a lot of separation between instruments, which is nice to hear.
Andrew Craighan: Yes, Robert ‘Mags’ Magoolagan was involved again and we recorded it at Futureworks in Manchester, England. Mags will be with us until he says otherwise; he’s part of the gang and also does our live sound and laundry; well, I think it’s laundry he’s doing, there’s always some low rhythmical rumbling scraping sound onstage when he’s around, anyway, a good guy. Back to the mix though to be honest we probably knew what we didn’t want more than what we did, if that makes any sense. The mix and feel of the album couldn’t be quite as fierce as The Barghest O’ Whitby was due just having done the The Barghest…so, we knew to steer clear of that approach. We did want clarity but not at the expense of heaviness a bit of crunch, feedback and growl, you know not too clean it’s still got to be metal. A tricky balancing game but as usual time and money runs out and you have to stop at some point. I like what we got but I have an inkling that we might go for a darker more sinister sounding mix next time. Time will tell.

I’ve always been intrigued by Aaron’s lyrics. They’re dark, thoughtful, and well written. Map of All Your Failures sounds pretty dismal. In true My Dying Bride fashion, of course. What’s going on lyrically?
Andrew Craighan: On this LP a lot more variations on theme than some of the later albums and for me some of the best lyrics for some time which is a task as Azz [aka Aaron for you 9-year olds] really does have an eye for this style now. Take “A Tapestry Scorned,” for example, in this we are dealing with a mythical tale of betrayal, murder and magic all beautifully told to a dreary but heavy-as-fuck soundscape. Why you think this lacks spirit is simply beyond me but such is life, or Hail Odysseus. In my eyes another great song a real story from mythical antiquity with our very own My Dying Bride twist in the tale. This music isn’t just plastic pop. It’s soul-crushing doom and I understand it’s not for everyone and not many can feel or see its dark delights but it’s there for those that can. I could go on but if people are intrigued enough to be reading thus far they are welcome to check out the songs online and see if doom is for them. Or even (dare I say it) buy them online.

I also like the fact that Shaun’s starting to come into his own. How important was Shaun to Map?
Andrew Craighan: Pretty important I’d say. We like the violin being back in the mix as it is useful asset to our more sombre ditties. He is becoming with each release easier to work with (not that he is ever difficult mind) as he knows what we want and where, etc. and has in many instances has now trumped us to the best melody lines, the little swine. On Map, I would have to agree with you that he pretty much hit the nail on the head with all the work he did, so credit where credit’s due T’t Youngun!

I know I’m slightly nuts, but I felt The Manuscript tracks were better than the Map tracks. Did you know which tracks weren’t going to make it to the Map album?
Andrew Craighan: Bloody hell! No, as it happens all the tracks bar one were written long before the studio was booked and the one we wrote in the studio became “A Pale Shroud of Longing” and very nearly got left off of the EP. But right up to the very end we didn’t have a full idea [of] which were in or out. I think we started with “A Map of All Our Failures” the actual song then built the rest around it in relation to how they sounded around that. We’ve never done that before, so it was quite unique for us.

Were the Manuscript choices more flow or thematic-oriented?
Andrew Craighan: The Manuscript was chosen as the title track simply because at that time we liked the theme of the lyrics on that song the best. Plus the song itself was good enough to build the EP around it. Again a none standard lyrical work The Manuscript and a very well told tale. The rest were simply and with no disrespect to them not going on the LP as I explained above.

How are the two releases related lyrically?
Andrew Craighan: Not in any way.

And the mix for The Manuscript is different. Why is that?
Andrew Craighan: This was due to us experimenting a tad nothing too drastic just something we simply fancied doing.

How has My Dying Bride changed or its outlook changed in the digital download era?
Andrew Craighan: It’s much easier to be miserable now and we’re certainly less optimistic about our future than ever before if that gives you any clues. Times have changed and music of all types is suffering from people considering bands as throwaway items, possibly due to the consumerist ideals that we’re force fed by TV. The days have gone I think when bands like us (on a small scale) and before us the really big boys (Iron Maidens, Metallica’s and Slayers, etc.) who are made truly special in a big way by lifelong devoted fans and it’s not down to the newer bands being lacklustre or lacking in talent or conviction, it’s just they seem to billed as the next big thing then disappear to be replaced by the next big thing, etc. The easier it is to obtain anything in life the less value and meaning it has. And right now music is free to anyone apart from the bands making it as they ultimately pay for it. So, it’s never been harder to be in a band than now. I can’t see honestly how it can continue for much longer. Don’t get me wrong I’m not just moaning at the so-called youth of today the band has always been at the bottom rung of the music ladder but the digital ladder starts much fucking deeper down. (a song title in there somewhere methinks). I hate Christmas too and bunnies.

Is the band and music more personal now? Or is there no change from, say, 1995?
Andrew Craighan: I think for me this is kind of related to the above moan due to the scene today. For me, it’s always been personal. I mean, how can it not be? But now it means more to me to just be able to do it while it lasts, I love it, being a metaller as always been my dream since I heard Bat Out of Hell (I know it’s not metal now, but I didn’t back then), Marshall stacks, long hair, tattoos, loud spiky guitars, gigs in foreign places and all the welcome goodies that it attracts. So, being a metaller in a band that gets to do it loud I really take it personally and just try enjoy each moment of it. Which, in truth can be hard sometimes. But overall and as much as I do, I can’t complain.

When can we expect My Dying Bride in the US? Maryland Deathfest 2014, maybe?
Andrew Craighan: Yes, sorry this is so late as you would have had a good scoop there, but the news is out now. So, see you at the Maryland DeathFest in 2014. It’s a one-off gig for us, no tour, so if you’re into English doom that’s where a full pint of it will be. It’ll be cloudy and raining too.

** My Dying Bride’s The Manuscript is available now via Peaceville Records. It’s HERE on CD and HERE on LP if you’re miserable enough to spend money on music. Like we are.