Stream a New LUSTRE Track!

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, July 12th, 2013

Lustre logo

It’s possible you’re not yet an initiate of the Lustre phenomenon.  Despite several recent releases, I think the last time the project drew Decibel’s attention was when Scott Seward reviewed 2010’s A Glimpse of Glory.  So, yeah, it’s been a while.  Since then, head nature-screamer Nachtzeit has given the world another EP, a split, a compilation of unreleased material, and a full-length album called They Awoke to the Scent of Spring.  All of which rule.

Lustre music rules in that windswept-moor-during-a-druid-ritual-lit-by-aurorae sort of way.  Take a few spirited keyboard melodies, load them up with twelve tons of atmosphere courtesy of buzzing guitar chords and buried screams, and top it all off with bird calls and wolf howls.  If you’re imagining a cross between Burzum’s non-violent material and Celestiial, you might be close.

Sommar 2013

We asked Nachtzeit for some insight into his musical process, and he responded with his thoughts and a stream of a new song, “Green Worlds”, to be included on an upcoming full-length album.  We think you should settle in and breathe deeply the dark beauty that comes from Lustre.

 

When did you start playing music?

I think I was about 10 years old when I got my first guitar from my father.  I am self [taught], more or less. I remember listening to my cousin’s Maiden and Metallica CDs and trying to figure out the melodies and riffs I liked the most.

How did your music taste evolve, from the first music that you remember enjoying through your own career?

The very first things I remember enjoying was Cornelis Vreeswijk and Simon and Garfunkel.

Later on I started listening to Iron Maiden quite a lot, and after that I found bands like In Flames and Dimmu Borgir, and when I was around 15-16 (probably) I got into the whole black metal thing with Burzum etc. I have never been the kind of person who only likes this or that genre for this or that reason though. What makes me like something is the feeling that it gives me. It’s as simple as that.

Lustre’s music seems to have two distinct sides:  the gorgeous melodic keyboard lines and the darker, heavier guitars and vocals.  When writing songs, does one come before the other or do they happen side by side?

Well, I don’t really think of it that way at all. The “heavier guitars and vocals” are just ways to create atmosphere. To be honest, I don’t really look at Lustre as a black metal or even a metal band. To me it’s just music. Those are just different elements that I use to write atmospheric melodic music. Lustre is Lustre.

When did you start trying out the horrific vocals?  Do you use them solely for texture or to bring lyrics to the songs?  On a related note, can you describe how “Into the Ancient Darkness” [on the recent compilation Lost in Lustrous Night Skies] came about?

Are they horrific, really? When recording Night Spirit I wanted to try something new, and the vocals in Lustre since then is the result. I thought they would fit Lustre perfectly because they blend into the rest of the music almost like an instrument of its own and because I think they contribute to the atmosphere in a nice way. They are also the kind of vocals that you can record anytime, anyplace, which fits me and Lustre perfectly. Regarding “Into the Ancient Darkness”, me and a friend of mine went to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, that my family owns. We went into the forest near a river in the middle of the night where we sat down and made a fire. This is the kind of thing that me and my friends have done from time to time for as long as I can remember. However, one thing led to the next and I ended up recording these screams that you can hear in this song.

Are there non-musical forms of art (paintings, movies, literature, etc) you enjoy that have affected the work you do with Lustre?

Yes, I think that there’s a constant flow of inspiration from all these sources which affects the music that I write for Lustre. I think it’s hard to point out some works that has inspired Lustre specifically though.

Can you talk about the other music projects you’ve been involved with and how they’ve been different from Lustre?

Sometimes I feel like I want to do something different, apart from Lustre, and all the side projects I’ve had throughout the years has been a result of that.

What was the thought process behind the recent move to work with Nordvis for your next albums?

Well, he’s a great guy which I really enjoy working with simply because it goes very smoothly and because his releases are of a very high quality. He has also shown a genuine interest in and support for Lustre.

Do you feel that Lustre has a well-defined sound already, or do you see it taking any different paths in the future?

I think that Lustre has its own sound for sure, but there are still obvious differences between the things I have done this far, and I plan on keeping it this way.

Let This Beast be the Envy of Your Record Collection.

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, uncategorized, videos On: Thursday, July 11th, 2013

deciblog - envy band

On Tuesday, Japanese post-hardcore legends, Envy will release Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows, a 14 LP and double DVD box set to commemorate their 20th anniversary. Here’s a quote from the press release:

Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows is a limited-edition super-deluxe box set that collects every song ever recorded by Envy (95 songs in total) across 14 vinyl LPs, all re-mastered for vinyl in 2013. Each record is housed in its own full-color jacket, featuring all new artwork. Also included is a brand new, previously unreleased 100-minute DVD, a DVD data disk packed with all 95 songs in high-quality MP3 format, and a 100-page coffee table book featuring dozens of exclusive photos, plus lyrics to every Envy song, transcribed in both Japanese and English languages. The entire mind-blowing package is housed in a sturdy custom outer box – printed on a custom reflective metallic foil board. Strictly limited to 1,000 copies, Invariable Will is a monument to one of underground music’s most enigmatic bands, and a celebration of their unfettered brilliance.”

Herein, fans of their more recent post-rock excursions (say everything from 2006’s Insomniac Doze onward) can pay witness to the band’s roots as angular and often violent sounding punk/hardcore band and trace their transformation towards the cinematic, anthemic and ethereal outfit they are today. Here’s the track listing of this behemoth (and when we say behemoth, we mean behemoth – the promo only includes the book, DVD and MP3 discs and it’s probably the biggest item we’ve ever signed for standing in our PJs on our porch at 9AM):

SIDE A
01. IN THE MUDDLE OF THE RAGE 01:50
02. YOU HAVE A VOICE… 01:42
03. REMEMBER 00:43
04. ABILITY 00:46
05. UNDER THE SKY 02:28
06. YOU HAVE A VOICE 01:32
07. PASSAGE OF WIND 01:55
08. STILL REMAIN 02:16
09. END OF THE LINE 01:38
10. JUST ALIVE 02:12
11. REACH OUT 02:03

SIDE B
01. ANGEL’S CURSE 04:43
02. PENDULUM 05:46
03. LEADEN WING 03:10

SIDE C
01. BREEZE AND DESTINY 05:10
02. UNREPAIRABLE GENTLENESS 09:50

SIDE D
01. ECHO REGENERATES 02:41
02. THE END OF MEMORIES 02:00
03. AWAKEN EYES 04:31
04. TESTIMONY OF THE EXISTENCE 01:27
05. AN ENCYCOLPEDIA OF THE UNIFICATION 03:14

SIDE E
01. LIMITATION 04:11
02. TREMBLED 04:12
03. A VICIOUS CIRCLE AGAIN 01:23
04. OFF 02:39
05. CRUSADERS 01:58

SIDE F
01. FOR YOU WHO DIED 03:04
02. BLACK PAST 01:53
03. GREY WIND 04:24
04. CARVED NUMBERS 03:36
05. 444 WORDS 02:14

SIDE G
01. ZERO 02:05
02. FAREWELL TO WORDS 02:45
03. LIES, AND RELEASE FROM SILENCE 04:47
04. LEFT HAND 03:01
05. A CRADLE OF ARGUMENTS AND ANXIOUSNESS 05:24
06. MYSTERY AND PEACE 06:48

SIDE H
01. INVISIBLE THREAD 02:43
02. THE SPIRAL MANIPULATION 03:28
03. A CAGE IT FALLS INTO 06:10
04. THE LIGHT OF MY FOOTPRINTS 04:12
05. YOUR SHOES AND THE WORLD TO COME 08:04

SIDE I
01. A FAR-OFF REASON 06:18
02. AN ADEVENTURE OF SILENCE AND PURPOSE 06:07
03. INVISIBLE UNDERSTANDING 08:02

SIDE J
01. CHACUN DE TES PAS 04:46
02. A RED WOUND PICTURE 03:24
03. CAPE OF DESPAIR 02:37
04. THIS SELF-CRUSADERS 02:36
05. TREMBLED 02:03
06. GUILT 03:06

SIDE K
01. CASTLE OF LIES 03:30
02. CONNECTED VOICE 07:11

SIDE L
01. AWAKEN EYES (LIVE) 06:50
02. GO MAD AND MARK (LIVE) 07:33

SIDE M
01. CHAIN WANDERING DEEPLY 08:29
02. DISTRESS OF IGNORANCE 05:46
03. EVIDENCE 03:16

SIDE N
01. COLOR OF FETTERS 07:19
02. UNREPAIRABLE GENTLENESS 08:11

SIDE O
01. GO MAD AND MARK 06:35
02. A CONVICTION THAT SPEEDS 05:27

SIDE P
01. REASONS AND OBLIVION 05:05
02. A WILL REMAINS IN THE ASHES 12:44

SIDE Q
01. FURTHER AHEAD OF WARP 06:51
02. SHIELD OF SELFLESSNESS 04:30

SIDE R
01. SCENE 07:08
02. CRYSTALLIZE 10:34

SIDE S
01. THE UNKNOWN GLOW 15:28

SIDE T
01. NIGHT IN WINTER 06:05
02. A WARM ROOM 07:18

SIDE U
01. A ROAD OF WINDS THE WATER BUILDS 10:03
02. ALL THAT’S LEFT HAS GONE TO SLEEP 04:01

SIDE V
01. THOUSAND SCARS 06:35
02. FADING VISION 04:44

SIDE W
01. AN UMBRELLA FALLEN INTO FICTION 06:26
02. ISOLATION OF A LIGHT SOURCE 03:40
03. PURE BIRTH AND LONELINESS 05:08
04. CONCLUSION OF EXISTENCE 05:08

SIDE X
01. A WINTER QUEST FOR FANTASY 06:25
02. LIFE CAUGHT IN THE RAIN 04:24
03. AS SERENITY CALLS YOUR NAME 07:38

SIDE Y
01. GUIDANCE 03:21
02. LAST HOURS OF ETERNITY 07:05
03. RAIN CLOUDS RUNNING IN A HOLY NIGHT 08:32

SIDE Z
01. PIECES OF THE MOON I WEAVED 04:48
02. LIGHT AND SOLITUDE 07:15
03. DREAMS COMING TO AN END 04:04

SIDE Z2
01. INCOMPLETE 01:25
02. WORN HEELS AND THE HANDS WE HOLD 05:44
03. A HINT AND THE INCAPACITY 06:44

SIDE Z3
01. A BREATH CLAD IN HAPPINESS 06:25
02. 0 AND 1 07:32
03. YOUR HAND 03:04

TRR200_envy_LP_77417Lid_out

We caught up with vocalist Tetsu Fukagawa for a short email back and forth that allowed our man to display his increasing command of the English language and exhibit as much surprise as we did that Envy is still going strong 20 years down the track.

When you started Envy, did you ever think you’d be celebrating a 20 year anniversary? What were your original goals for the band and how are those goals different today?
We weren’t thinking about anything when we first started. We never did anything for our 10th or 15th anniversary either. All we thought about in the beginning was to have fun, after a while we started to feel the possibilities and that’s probably when our mindset as a band began to change.

What are some of your favourite moments of being in the band?
When I first saw our music in a record shop. Making and recording music is always a hard process but there’s always a sense of accomplishment when we finish. Guess the other one would be when we played Fuji Rock for the first time, we were really nervous before but it was awesome.

Is there a particular point where you felt that Envy was going to end up becoming a long term proposition and feature in your lives, whether or not you were able to make a full living from playing in the band?
When we first started the band we never thought that it would last twenty years. Not sure if there was a particular point, but I think that the reason why it’s lasted this long is because we’re all good friends, share the same values and love to hang out and play music together. Envy’s a big part of our lives but we’ve always felt that time spent with our families and jobs were equally important.

Who had the original idea of compiling all your recordings for Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows?
The box set was [Temporary Residence boss] Jeremy [Devine]‘s idea. If he didn’t say anything, we probably wouldn’t have done anything for the band’s 20th. It’s because of him that we were able to make this amazing box set. I’ll cherish this for the rest of my life.

How long did it take to get everything (including the mastering of the music, the content for the book and the packaging) and put everything for the box set together? Were there any production problems or issues that you had to deal with along the way? What was the hardest part of this process?
It took us a while to edit the live DVD and to photograph the moon for the cover. Guess all in all, it took about six months, but we had a great time doing it. Mastering the tracks was hard, it was a pain to check 95 songs worth of audio and lyrics, took a lot of concentration.

In going back and looking over your career for the purposes of the boxset, is there anything that you stumbled across that you had forgotten about? What other sort of memories were unearthed during the process?
Twenty years went by quick…I don’t think I’ve actually looked back on it yet. I have memories of the songs we made and shows we’ve done, but I figure I’ll look back when we decide to stop the band. Going through our old flyers and videos did make me realize that we used to push ourselves really fucking hard.

What do you feel are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned with Envy over the past 20 years?
That continuity is important. All of the experiences we’ve had were because we kept doing what we do. I really feel that continuity is power. The other thing is that I love to stand on stage and perform. There’s nothing like the feeling of performing a song that we made in front of a crowd that wants to listen to us.

Knowing what you know now about being in a band and the music industry, is there anything about Envy’s career you’d go back and change or do differently?
It’s a hard question, there isn’t anything specific that I would change… Not sure if this is answering the question, but I’d tell myself to pursue what I value in order to understand the process of all things.

Once this box set is out, what’s next for Envy?
We’re doing some shows in Japan and planning a tour of Asia for this year. We’re also currently making new tracks for our next album which we hope to release in the spring next year.

Do you think you have another 20 years in you?
I’ll be 60 if we do it for another 20 years. I don’t think that’ll happen, but I had a kid last year so I’d like to keep the band going long enough for him to see me perform.

Got a couple hundred bones burnin’ a hole in your pocket? Love you some Envy? Go here.

Decibrity Playlist: Scale The Summit

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, July 11th, 2013

sts2012

We here at the Deciblog are proponents of good health. So when we were presented the opportunity to present a playlist with that lofty goal in mind, it was an easy choice (not to mention we’re big fans of Scale the Summit’s instrumental musings). As guitarist Chris Letchford explains, “I spend five days a week in the gym lifting. Health and fitness is a huge part of my life. When I go on tour, if I don’t keep it up while on the road, I’ll lose all my progress. I like to eat well and exercise as much as I can and for everyone who has ever toured, they are the two hardest things to maintain while on the road, but it is doable! The best part of music for working out is it helps you zone out all the distractions of people yelling/grunting in the gym, dropping weights, and it keeps people from talking to you. I don’t go to the gym to hang out, I go to lift and get out of there as fast as possible. Good workout music is also important for rep timing, which is how a lot of these albums have made it into the shuffle for my gym tunes. Here are my top five [okay, six] favorite albums (in no particular order) to listen to while working out.”

If the tunes below aren’t enough to get you to pump some Fe, Chris will be back next week to provide (1) health and fitness tips for touring and how to achieve them while on the road for months and months and (2) his favorite three lifts in the gym. While you’re waiting, pick up a copy of The Migration here and listen along here.

Tesseract–Altered State (2013)
This is a new one for everyone, including myself, since it just came out. The djent style/genre is great for lifting. Like I mentioned, I’m looking for a great tempo for rep timing and something not too busy so that I can stay focused on the workout and not get sucked into the music too much. I really like the new direction with the vocals and new guy filling that position. Great job on this album fellas, really like it! Maybe next time a guest guitar solo, wink.

tesseract

The Contortionist–Exoplanet (2010)
This album has been a favorite of mine for a long time now, and I have done dozens of workouts to it as well. They have done studies on certain things that can help someone push harder and lift heavier in the gym and listening to metal was one of the top. This album in particular really pushes me because of the more aggressive vocal style. Even though these dudes are considered in the djent scene, they are far from it. They are definitely more metal/prog, with more dynamic shifts than most djent albums.

contortionist

Periphery–Periphery (2010) and Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal (2012)
These guys are my buds and Misha has known for a long time that I have worked out to his music. Both records have great songs, tempo, aggression, energy and dynamics. Misha’s solo songs also get thrown in the mix as well–“Mr. Person” is the best for lifting!

III

The Black Dahlia Murder–Deflorate (2009)
I have been listening to TBDM since Unhallowed, a record I can actually remember buying from the mom and pop CD store I worked at nearly 10 years ago, when people actually purchased CDs. I had quite the collection actually. Miss those days as there is nothing really collectable about mp3s, sadly. These guys have always been my “party death metal” band–you get all the aggression and energy that you’d expect from death metal, but it’s also fun and you can hear it in the records they release. Though all of their records make it in the mix for workout music, this is the most recent album of theirs that I have been jamming while at the gym.

TBDM

Anup Sastry–Ghost (2013)
Like I mentioned earlier, I like albums to be less distracting and more there to keep me focused and energized [while I'm working out]. This album has been my top choice, especially for my really hard muscle group days. It has great tempo and timing, awesome songs, and even without someone screaming at you, you still get a ton of aggression to keep you focused on what you’re about to lift.

anup

*Order a copy of The Migration here.

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

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

STREAMING: Bangladeafy’s “The Briefcase”

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

bangladeafy9 [photo by Lindsay Newcomb]

If you are scanning the Internet chances are you have a set of headphones and 15 minutes to burn. If that’s the case check out this funky little EP The Briefcase from New York City duo Bangladeafy.

We’re running out of phrases to describe their music today so if you have any questions just ask the band directly on Facebook. If you dig it the album is available from Nefarious Industries.

Niklas Sundin (Dark Tranquillity) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

darktranquillity_deathmetal_decibel_2013

** Dark Tranquillity have a new album out. It’s called Construct. As one of the many requirements of writing about metal is interviewing bands when they have new albums out. Hence, this feature. Actually, scratch that. I’ve been interviewing Dark Tranquillity for almost 20 years now, since the Skydancer effort, so me and the Gothenburg boys have a bit of a rapport. Not that I’m a creature of habit, but Construct is a fantastic album and Niklas, the interview subject below, has always been a reliable dude to talk to. Read on. Go buy Construct. And enjoy the brainjoy that results in listening to Construct.

I get this sense that Construct is a different record for self-preservation purposes. Any truth to that?
Niklas Sundin: Maybe. We never have a master plan during the songwriting, but on a personal level it was probably important for us to create something different in order to keep the fire burning, so to say. During the first 10 years of our career, we were seen as a pretty experimental and forward-thinking band, and I never was comfortable with being placed in some kind of stalwart “melodeath” (or whatever the kids call it these days) category where we were expected to deliver the same kind of music year after year, so from that perspective it feels good to have created something that strays a bit from the past couple of albums.

What was different about the creation of Construct compared to We Are the Void? Or, any of the previous albums, in fact.
Niklas Sundin: It was quite different in that we completely abandoned our usual modus operandi of writing and arranging the songs in the rehearsal room. We couldn’t get the creative juices flowing with all the six of us locked up in a tiny, smelling space with no windows and air flow, so instead we started experimenting with working directly in a studio setting instead. Not sure how much this actually influenced the outcome of the album, but it was a welcome change that gave us some new perspectives. It’s possible that we’ll return to the rehearsal room jamming sessions in the future, but for Construct another working method was needed.

It’s not like you’re strangers to stylistic shifts. Do think this is the biggest departure or would that honor still go to Projector?
Niklas Sundin: It’s too early to be able to be objective about the new album, but I’d say that Projector was a more radical change. It was the first album from our genre to feature clean vocals to that extent, and it had so many stylistic elements that were completely new, both to us and to our audience. While Construct is a different record, the metal climate in general is more open now than what it was 15 years ago, so the relative “weirdness” of the album is probably smaller than for Projector.

What was the songwriting split like this time around? I remember Henriksson was the main supplier in years past.
Niklas Sundin: Most of the music was written by Jivarp, Brändström and me, but every member is actively involved in the process and contributes to the arrangements. As usual with DT, there is a lot of collaboration, and many songs end up being very different from their first incarnations, so it’s hard to speak of songwriting in the traditional sense. Person A might have written all the original riffs for a song, but person B and C took them into a completely different direction. Well, you get the point. Henriksson’s main creative contribution this time was to compose and play the bass parts, a first for him since Projector. His bass style was always very creative, and I think it adds a lot to the final album.

I hear a lot more of Brändström on this record. He’s employed differently though. Lots of textures, main features, and score-like vignettes. How crucial was Brändström to Construct? I love his input on “Uniformity” and “None Becoming.”
Niklas Sundin: He wrote three songs solely by himself (“None Becoming” being one of them), and contributed heavily to most of the others, so I’d say that he was very crucial. The keyboards are certainly more audible this time around, and maybe a bit more organic, but Martin was always creating these multi-layered soundscapes. However, it’s notoriously hard to integrate that kind of keyboard arrangements into the already crammed audio space of a typical metal production, so in the past a lot of the different textures and nuances got lost in the final mix. Jens Bogren deserves all the credit for making the keyboards this present without making things less heavy. On the contrary, the electronics give a dark and uneasy feeling to the whole record, which is the perfect way to incorporate these elements in our music.

Then again, this is still very much Dark Tranquillity. “The Silence In Between” and “Weight Of The End,” for example, are tried and true Dark Tranquillity. Was it important to keep the DNA intact?
Niklas Sundin: I don’t know. Things just happened, and there was never any discussion of needing to safeguard by have some regular DT songs on there. In my view, “The Science of Noise” is the most typical song on the album—it easily could have been on Fiction or Character—but the ones you mentioned are also occupy a very traditional DT territory even if they both have parts that I’d consider a bit different for us. I think that the only DT element that isn’t very present on the album is the fast and semi-technical riffing with muted rhythms, but we had those in abundance on the past few records.

I like the compositional choices in “Uniformity.” That ending is quite cool. The slow lead out and Jivarp losing his drum mind. Really shows the band creatively on fire.
Niklas Sundin: Thanks! It’s a weird one for sure, but it’s already turning a lot of heads. It’s another one of those songs that took on a couple of very different guises before the final version manifested itself. The drum orgy at the end was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and the verse section and chorus originally sounded very different. For a long time we didn’t know quite what direction to steer the song in, or if it even would end up on the album at all, but it all came together in a good way in the end.

“Endtime Hearts” is kind of cool, too. Reminds me of a theme song to a Japanese cartoon. It’s all bouncy, sparse, and modern.
Niklas Sundin: [Laughs] Maybe you’re right! Haven’t thought of a cartoon vibe, but it’s certainly bouncy and with a strong beat throughout the whole song. As with a lot of the material on Construct, the chorus is actually an old riff that suddenly found its way into a song. I wrote it in 1999, and it was suggested for a few earlier albums in a more slow and doomy version, but no-one seemed to like it very much. This time, I was working on a more industrial and monotonous rhythmic riff (inspired by Einstürzende Neubauten’s “Was Ist Ist”, but one can’t really hear much resemblance now) and this old melody came to my mind and eventually became a catchy chorus instead of a slow droning thing. The guitar solo unintentionally owes a lot to the first Kent album, both in terms of the chords used but also with the e-bow harmonies in the backgrounds. All in all, it’s an eclectic mix of influences and a pretty different song for us. Should be a good live tune, though we haven’t really started thinking about that yet.

OK, I think “Immemorial” is atypical for Dark Tranquillity. Almost sounds Finnish. That folky melody, the sparkly guitar, and the accompanying keyboard line. Where’d this song come from sonically?
Niklas Sundin: On every recording, there’s usually one song with a lot of 3/4 time signature riffs, and they tend to be a bit folky. “Immemorial” started out by making an intro/verse/chorus block from some of Anders’ riffs and then trying some different alternatives out for a middle section. The folk melody was written in ’90s and seemed to fit perfectly. It’s pretty normal for us to mix old and new; every band member writes music, and we have library of thousands of riffs in all kinds of styles, so it’s often a case of waiting for the right moment or suddenly making a connection between a new and old idea that can bring a song to life. On We Are the Void, the whole of “Iridium” and parts of “Arkhangelsk” was written back in 1998, and on every album there are a usually a couple of really old riffs mixed with the recently written ones.

You recorded the album where? I know Bogren mixed it.
Niklas Sundin: We did all the recordings ourselves in Brändström’s studio, Rogue music. For the drums, parts of the neighbouring facilities—a classic prog studio called Nacksving—were utilized. It’s incredibly convenient, both since it’s located a short walk from where we live and also because it allows us to spend as much time as needed on the recordings. Studio work is always a stressful experience no matter what, but this setup is optimal for us.

And you said, “Haven’t been this excited about hearing our own music since 1993.” That’s a pretty big statement. What’s up?
Niklas Sundin: Yeah. That was something I put on Twitter for some stupid reason. I know that it sounds like typical promotional nonsense, but it’s rare for me to be this excited after a studio visit. We’re a very democratic band, so every song and riff gets tweaked and revised a lot of times, and in the past I often preferred earlier versions of songs than the ones that ended up on the albums. As a result, my usual reaction when hearing a freshly recorded album is that it turned out fine, but by virtue of our working method there are things that don’t fit my own personal taste to 100 percent. I’m sure that it’s the same thing for the other members. No one can be a fan of everything when there are five songwriters in the band. This time I can actually listen to a new DT album without being frustrated with how certain songs were “diminished”, which is a first for me since our debut album. However, this was never meant to be a huge PR statement, and it’s a case of 140 characters not being enough to give the full picture.

What inspires you guys at this point? I’m sure music is music, but tying in business, press, and touring is always a chore.
Niklas Sundin: It is—but there is no venture in the world that is fun and exciting 100 percent of the time. The only things that really matter are the creative process and the music itself. Until someone invents teleportation, touring will always be tough, and unless you’re a complete narcissist, doing interviews and press and having to deal with the public aspect of band life won’t always be a pleasant experience. But so far the positives outweigh the negatives, and we’re fortunate to have an audience for what we’re doing.

What was the reason for Daniel Antonsson’s departure? Are you bassist cursed? I’m joking, of course.
Niklas Sundin: The cursed DT. [Laughs] Nah, we’ve just had a handful of lineup changes in two decades, and Daniel was with us for a full four years, so it’s not that bad compared to a lot of other bands. There’s no radical reason behind his departure, and it sort of ties in with the previous question. You have to sacrifice a lot in order to be in a full-time band, and it’s hard to be on board without committing to 100 percent. Daniel was feeling creatively unfulfilled from not playing the guitar, and our touring schedule of 200+ shows per album doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for other ventures, so at the end of the day he figured that he’d be more happy founding his own band and also being able to devote more time to his studio work.

What do you hope Dark Tranquillity fans walk away with after listening to Construct?
Niklas Sundin: I haven’t thought of it, and it isn’t much of a concern. As cliché as it might sound, I never wanted to become a musician in order to serve people with music but rather to express something for myself. I’m sure that some old fans will view the album as a breath of fresh air and that some will think that we’ve “betrayed” whatever roots we supposedly have. And some will probably think that it sounds like a typical DT album. Either way is fine with me.

And plans for 2013? I’m sure touring.
Niklas Sundin: Yes! Summer festivals are being booked, and there are plans for both US and European headline tours in the fall. We can’t reveal any details just yet, but things look very promising on the planing front.

** Dark Tranquillity’s Construct is out now on Century Media Records. It’s available HERE, unless you’d rather chase down Fall of the Leafe’s Evanescent, Everfading effort on eBay. They’re on eBay, but they get really pricey really fast.

STREAMING: Beyond’s “Fatal Power of Death”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

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Those who have been following my writings in the pages of the magazine , on here, or on Twitter (@JeffTreppel) will probably have figured out that I’m not the biggest death metal guy. So, for a death metal band to catch my attention, they really have to be something special. Beyond (Germany) fit that criteria. Their full-length debut, Fatal Power of Death (accurate, if somewhat redundant), brings the old-school horror. This is evil, filthy stuff, but with an unbelievable groove the way your Swedish grandmother used to make it. It’ll kick your ass and then rub your face in some blackened chaos. I’m super psyched to present an exclusive stream of the full album below, and here’s an interview with guitarist R. for some reading material while you listen.

 What dark forces conspired to get you to start this band?
It’s impossible to mention all of them but I’ll try to elaborate as detailed as possible. The main reason anyone involved in BEYOND started writing music was because we felt real inspiration. Especially in the beginning you simply know that there’s alot of stuff lacking in death metal music these days and someone just had to pick up the weapons (if you will) to start fighting against all the crap that get’s called „death metal“ these days. That would be the bottom line but there’s way more to it.

Way before I ever got in touch with heavy metal I was way more interested in paranormal things and other really wicked stuff than the usual worldly textbook material anyone learns in life. You see, it wouldn’t surprise anyone now that someone like me easily got into stuff like POSSESSED, BATHORY, NECROVORE just to name a few old ones everyone may know.

You can tell something similar about Roland (founder of Shapeless and then BEYOND). It was just a matter of time both of us would pick up an instrument to orchestrate the profound darkness and brutality that would be lurking in our minds.

Did you have a direction for the cover art, or did the artist create it on his own?
Yes we did, we wanted Manuel to create a chaotic mass with demonic and harsh faces and everything. We gave told him basically what to do. But the painting itself was done from scratch using his own inspiration and it is truly a great one. We’re absolutely satisfied with the work of Mr. Tinnemanns.

Are there any specific lyrical themes you explore on the record?
Most of it deals with extreme violence and ugly darkness, such as Consuming Black Void. However we also have a number like Schizopsychotic Eruption that describes insane force-fed mental disorders that some of us occasionally experience. The whole chaotic riffing in that song completely fits to the message. Appearance from Beyond is an older number that has hints to the paranormal world that all of us are inspired by. We specifically changed the ending of the song from the original demo version to make it fit more with the lyrics.

Why did you decide to go with Patrick Engel to produce the album?
Simply because we know what kind of capabilities this guy has. If you want a churning death metal record sound the way it has to sound – without becoming too cleaned up, you just have to pick someone like this. Easy choice.

Why the relative anonymity with the band member names?

Using first letters for the band member names just came along all naturally. This may change in future, however we think it’s useless these days to know the people behind the music, because I as a music fan rather care for the musical work than the people behind this.

Beyond – Fatal Power of Death by DecibelJeff

***Fatal Power of Death comes out on July 15 courtesy of Iron Bonehead. Order the LP, cassette, and T-shirt here or the CD here

STREAMING: Axeslasher “Woodland Tortuary” with Comic Book Lyric Sheet (Plus Contest!)

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: contest, featured, listen On: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

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Axeslasher and Decibel present an exclusive stream of a song off the gore-obsessed thrashers’ upcoming album Anthology of Terror, Vol. 1, due later this year on Antithetic Records.

Mixed and mastered at the Filth Chamber in Denver with producer Patrick Bruss (CRYPTICUS, TOMBSTONES), “Woodland Tortuary” is a tongue-in-cheek look at late ’80s sadism, inspired by equal parts grindhouse splatter and real life events.

Also: Fed up with “annoying lyric videos created only to generate ad revenue,” Axeslasher teamed up with Albequerque artist Tim “Rabbit” Cochran to create an (amazing) blood-soaked homage to EC Comics mirroring the lyrics of the song.

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Call for Video Entries (After the Jump):

Revocation’s Dan Gargiulo’s Top 5 video games for keeping sane on the road

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews, lists On: Monday, July 8th, 2013

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Like his bandmates in Boston death-thrash champs REVOCATION, Dan Gargiulo should have been getting ready for Summer Slaughter 2013. Y’know, there are important duties to be done before hurtling across the country in a van: like filling said vehicle full of diesel, packing a bag, loading his guitar into the van, stockpiling Cheetos and cancelling the milk. But instead, we had Gargiulo sneak off and gave us five video games guaranteed to keep him away from hard drugs, TV defenestration, people . . . And as it turns out, action, too. This is what Revocation’s resident games master came back with . . .

I like to call myself a fan of video games, because if I use the word “gamer” to describe myself people might assume that I belong to some community of basement dwellers, and I don’t—because my bedroom is on the second floor. I don’t feel much camaraderie with other people who play games just because they also play games. Not to mention most people I know who play games enjoy action-packed, fun-filled games that involve guns and stuff. My tastes are narrow and I’m not willing to branch out (with a few exceptions). These are a few games I play on my laptop while touring, often when I should be socializing.

1. EarthBound.

A 1995 Super Nintendo RPG that parodies other RPGs of that era. Despite its constant clowning on other games it manages to actually have a better story and gameplay than the games it pokes fun at. You get to fight aliens, hippies, piles of vomit, robots, etc. The graphics aren’t too great but I honestly think that graphics are the least important part of a video game. The music is trippy as hell too. Play it if you like turn-based combat, which I do. I’m also currently playing it’s hard-to-acquire sequel, Mother 3. I had to download the Japanese version and get a translation patch just to play it. Totally worth it.

2. Final Fantasy Tactics.

It’s long and tedious strategy RPG and the combat is slow. I love this game because you can spend hours planning out and customizing your group of cartoon warriors. The story is okay, but after beating the game over ten times in my life I just skip it now. The final boss is a gigantic pope zombie thing. He kind of looks like the singer from Ghost. Rad.

3. Dragon Warrior (or Dragon Quest if you live in japan).

This was one of the first popular RPGs. It’s so tedious and poorly designed that when you try to walk down a flight of stairs you actually have to access the menu and hit “stairs”. But I like that sort of thing. How could you not think that’s funny? You wander around the 8-bit world and are annoyed again and again by the much maligned “random battle” game mechanic. This seems like a bad review, but honestly despite all its flaws it’s one of my favorite games for the NES.

4. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

This game is the most recently released game that I play on tour and it came out in 2002. It’s like Skyrim, but far less intuitive and way more complicated. Convoluted almost. There’s no fast travel so you actually have to slowly walk to wherever it is you’re going. The action is awkward and the graphics leave a lot to be desired but I still think this is the best Elder Scrolls game. Nostalgia might have a small part to play in that. Morrowind has an enormous game world with a wide variety of strange locations, and there are a ton of things to do. it’s like being on an alien planet, full of Vikings, elves, orcs, and humans who hate you for being a foreigner. (Your character is a foreigner.)

5. Fallout 2

Came out in 1998 I think. This is probably my favorite game of all time, besides maybe Demon’s Souls. Unlike the popular revival of the Fallout series by Bethesda, this game and the original Fallout are top-down view, turn-based combat games. Most people who are fans of the new games (which are first person shooters), have trouble enjoying the old games because of the painfully slow pace. That doesn’t bother me one bit though. The more tedious the better. It’s kind of like Mad Max, except there are some high-tech plasma rifles and such for you to find and use against mutants and junkies. I could sink over 50 hours into this game, easily. When I was a kid my neighbor’s house was burning down but I didn’t go outside to check it out because I was busy pumping lead into aliens.

**Revocation’s self-titled LP is out August 6th on Relapse Records. Order it here

White Wizzard’s Top 5 Obscure ’80s Metal Albums, Part II

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen, lists On: Monday, July 8th, 2013

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By Jon Leon (White Wizzard)

5. Watchtower’s Control and Resistance (1989)
Possibly the most over-the-top falsetto vocals of all time…Mixed with some of the most technically proficient playing I have ever heard. Everyone talks about Voivod, who are great, but I think this album is superior to anything any technical metal band did in the ’80s. On pure musicianship, it is hard to beat this one. Some will have a Geddy Lee-like effect in not being able to handle the high vocals. I love it and think it fits perfectly. A must-listen, if just to appreciate the arrangements and playing. Incredible.

4. Savatage’s Power of the Night (1985)
No album captures the essence of the middle ’80s feeling of pure metal better than this album. It is so damn good—it is amazing that this does not get mentioned more. Hall of the Mountain King got them more airplay on MTV and is the album more people talk about—but for my money, this album is the best that they ever did, and one of the best of the ’80s period. The opening track is just a perfect heavy metal song. Every tune rocks your ass off, and Criss Oliva (RIP) just destroys on lead guitar. Another huge influence on me as a kid. This band should have been bigger.

3. Wrathchild America’s Climbin’ the Walls (1989)
Man what a bad-ass band these guys were. Originally called Wrathchild, and then sued by a shit glam band that nobody knew about from the UK for the name. They had to add the “America” to the name, which just sucks. What a fucking amazing album this is. “Smothered Life” is such a winner. Every song kills. Shannon Larkin is just an insane drummer. Sadly after this album and the fantastic follow up 3-D, they changed their name to Souls at Zero and changed their sound. And gave up after. As a wide-eyed, naive young pup, I went to see Souls at Zero right before they split in Palo Alto, CA–and right after, Shannon Larkin joined Ugly Kid Joe, HORRIBLE! I asked Brad the bassist/singer why the hell Shannon joined that horrendous band (whom they were opening for that night, WTF?), and he just hung his head and said “I don’t know” and went to the table to eat his catering. He looked so bummed. They played to 10 people, and it was depressing. They were my heroes in my early days of discovering music, and sadly never were to be seen again. Well except for Larkin, who joined Godsmack. Fuck you, Shannon! You left the best band you were ever in. Miss these guys. Get both Wrathchild America albums, and Souls at Zero’s self-titled album, if you can find them (all out of print, I think). Atlantic did not push them, and after Shannon left, it was over. RIP one of the greatest bands to never make it. Huge influence.

2. Blue Murder’s Blue Murder (1989)
John Sykes went and recorded a masterpiece with this album, and then nobody noticed. [Agreed---CD] I think the pants they chose to wear may have did them in, along with the bass player’s haircut. It was the later ’80s and towards the end of metal. They looked like a lot of the idiots in hair metal and may not have been taken as seriously as they should have been. Every song is strong. The fretless bass adds an original feel and touch. It is a pure crime that this album is not more known and appreciated. Go buy it and turn it up, LOUD.

1. Crimson Glory’s Transcendence (1988)
Hauntingly beautiful album. Just stunning. Midnight is criminally overlooked in the mainstream. His vocal performance on this album is only beaten out by Geoff Tate on Mindcrime for the greatest of all time on any metal album, in my opinion. The rest of the band is amazing as well. Fantastic arrangements and sonic landscapes. Purely ahead of their time. Power metal owes everything to “Red Sharks”. The title ballad is breathtaking with harmonies at the end that sound like Scorpions circa In Trance (1975). The guitar tones and playing are mesmerizing. Simply the greatest obscure metal album of the ’80s. Go get it and play it over and over.

** White Wizzard’s new album, The Devil’s Cut, is out now on Century Media/Earache Records. It’s available HERE. Or, you can figure how to reunite (officially) George Lynch, Don Dokken, Jeff Pilson, and Mick Brown, have them put out an album like Tooth and Nail, and go on tour without a single problem. Which offer to you want, kind spandex-loving sirs?

Blues Into Metal #3: Joe Wood

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

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Guitarist and vocalist Joe Wood is best known for his time in T.S.O.L., including the classic Change Today? album – a hybrid of punk and blues that I consider one of the best Southern California punk albums in the early-to-mid 80s. The album’s highlight is “Flowers By The Door,” a near-perfect song that is still moving and powerful decades later. Wood also appeared on the underappreciated Revenge album (a song was featured in the cult classic The Return Of The Living Dead). T.S.O.L. later ventured into glam metal, which divided fans but led to two records Wood still loves (more on that later).

T.S.O.L. eventually reunited with original vocalist Jack Grisham and Wood returned to blues, working day gigs to support his family and fund his passion. Wood is an example of creating a life in music and the journeyman’s road in both underground music and blues. Since returning to blues he’s opened for B.B. King and other legends and fronts his band Joe Wood And The Lonely Ones. He also started painting blues legends; his artwork has been featured in local showcases. Wood, who still lives in Southern California, talked to us about his career and writing the perfect song. I was pleased to learn he owns a deck of Robert Crumb’s Heroes Of The Blues trading cards.

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How did you get into blues?

I had an uncle who was a convict. He would get out of prison and visit my family. He gave me a guitar and told me to learn to play the blues. I wanted to learn to play the guitar and he said blues is where I should start. That’s when I was 16 or 17. I got a later start. The T.S.O.L. thing was kind of a fluke. They were like “do you want to go on tour” and I was pretty much homeless, so I did what I had to do.

What blues records did you learn from?

The first was Lightnin Hopkins. I started studying blues really heavily after touring. I wanted to be in a great roadhouse blues band. For me, it all starts with Jim Morrison and The Doors. Morrison was just doing blues songs, basically. I love writing and poetry and I’m a big reader. The Doors didn’t do the typical I-IV-V blues; they did rock songs with a blues tone. I studied The Doors and then went to Lightnin Hopkins, but I wasn’t good enough to play it. So I went to Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker, would study another guy for a few months, then move on.

Most people who get into blues start with rock and work their way back. It sounds like you did the opposite.

That’s correct. Look at the Change Today? record. The sounds, songs and melodic tone all come from implementing the blues into the T.S.O.L. sound. That’s what changed everything. If you throw blues into punk rock you come up with classic rock, almost (laughs).

What have you been up to since you left T.S.O.L.?

I’ve been writing and recording songs as fast as I can, which isn’t that fast (laughs). I did a solo recording and then I decided to go back to blues. I was doing blues when I was hired for T.S.O.L. (Guitarist) Ron Emory started playing with my band which is how I got the job. They broke up when (vocalist) Jack (Grisham) wanted to do Cathedral Of Tears. I’d already done the punk thing, y’know. So I decided to go blues at 22. It’s always been my music even if I loved punk. Ron started sitting in with my band and (bassist) Mike Roche started coming to the shows. We were going to start a new band and the manager said let’s call it T.S.O.L. That’s how that happened – either a mistake or the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

I’m a big fan of the early T.S.O.L. records but it seems like there was an emphasis on Change Today? on musicality and songcraft. “Blackmagic” and “Flowers By The Door” are unforgettable.

Ron and I were a great team. As far as “Flowers By The Door” — I wrote that by myself but he wrote the hook. On “Blackmagic” he wrote the music and I wrote the words. It was such a good partnership. We wanted to be great musicians. When I started in the band we wanted to make good, melodic music. I didn’t care at that point what anyone else liked. And I paid the price for two years: getting in fights and getting bottles thrown at me and having people yell “Code Blue,” which they still do to this day. We eventually became our own band and it was great, but drugs became a huge problem. This was when record companies were really big. They had a lot to do with the direction of Hit And Run and Strange Love. There was just touring, touring, touring.

Did it hurt you when people said things like ‘the new T.S.O.L.?’

I’m going to be honest with you. I moved away from home when I was 13. I was on the road with a rock band. I didn’t give a shit what anyone said. I was having a ball. It was a great time to be in a band, right before the Seattle thing. It was great times. Yeah, on Hit And Run and Strange Love we had makeup artists and rock star stuff. The punk rockers didn’t like that but I was just a musician. The drugs kind of took over my life. It’s funny; I never wore my hair big except for those photos.

Do you think a lot of people who were critical didn’t know what it’s like to make a living as a musician?

That’s the thing. In 1978 I was at The Masque the first time The Germs played. There were no fans when I started. The fans were in bands. I always went my own way and did what I wanted to do. I love Hit and Run and I think there are great songs on Strange Love. Guns N’ Roses opened for us and then we opened for them. When you are listening to music and involved in music you change. I get bored very quickly. I like to experiment. That’s not commercial. People want to hear what they are used to. When you go see The Rolling Stones you want to hear “Time Is On My Side,” not the new stuff.

What struck me about Change Today? is that the themes are blues themes. “Blackmagic” has the occult and love tied together. On “Red Shadows,” there’s the sensation of being followed…

It’s all blues. We’re talking about the things that move you and turn your life upside down. Women are the most powerful thing in the world. Look all the way back to Samson. Sometimes, I wrote so much, if it sounded good I’d let people come up with their own meanings. I’ve heard so many interpretations of our song “John.”

I’m spontaneous. With the band I have now we don’t rehearse. We just do it. I like to get into a hypnotic beat that begins and ends with the drums – they are instilled in everyone. A lot of people didn’t get my stuff. It means a lot to me when people ask me about what I was trying to do.I love simplicity in music like Joe Cocker. I like saying what you need to say. I hate progressive rock with a passion. It always confused me and got me down. Right when you are getting to like it they change.

What are some of the reactions you’ve heard over the years to “Flowers By The Door”? I think it’s your best song.

It was the biggest song we ever had because it got put on a ABC school special about teenage suicide. It ran throughout the show. I had one guy camp out on my front lawn for a few weeks. He was a troubled kid. To this day his family writes letters saying that song saved his life. I don’t want any more than that, man. I wrote the song in ten minutes sitting on a back porch.

Is the front cover of Change Today? a Tarot deck?

It is. Ron came up with that cover. It looked great.

Do you think in retrospect the image speaks to the themes of that record: fate, chance, destiny…

Blues is always singing about sex and death and a little in between.

After T.S.O.L. ended how did you find your way back to blues?

I don’t have a pension. Blues guys can play till they are 80. This is what I’m going to do. I’m not going to become a welder or a lawyer. Once I got back into it I decided to be the best blues musician and singer I could be. I’m not a natural like my son who plays drums. I would play gigs but I also sat in my garage for five years practicing. It was also one gig a week for about three years at a blues joint.

What was the hardest thing to learn after being on the road with a successful band?

Well, money, for one. I had to work during the day and play at night for many years. I didn’t want to beat a dead horse and continue to play T.S.O.L. I couldn’t make it better than it was at its peak. Once you lose members the chemistry changes. So, I did just about everything from laying brick to roofing. My big thing was a gig doing show power for big outdoor events, things like Madonna. I never did the touring stuff but I laid cable and worked my way into a manager position. I did that until I fell and crushed my back and needed a bunch of surgeries.

Since you were successful with T.S.O.L. was it hard to go back to regular work?

It was, but I had a baby boy. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about him. If your passion is music and you want to have kids and you aren’t getting huge royalty checks you better be able to work (laughs).

A lot of blues artists have day jobs.

They weren’t living like kings; they were gigging five nights a week in juke joints. I knew my road was going to be hard. But I couldn’t keep playing “Blackmagic.” Once in a while I’d go to Brazil and do (T.S.O.L.) sets because I could play for 25,000 people singing all the words in all my songs because my records were the only ones released in South America at that time and the payday was huge. I didn’t mind doing those sets. I’ll still play “Flowers By The Door” at my little blues gigs. I don’t turn my back on it. But I can’t be the 24-year-old Joe Wood. I’m 53 now. The songs that I sing now, I think, are just as important.

What’s the difference between gigging to a small crowd versus a massive audience?

Small gigs are always better. With big gigs it’s much harder to connect. I also don’t like playing outdoors. I like small, dark places. I think my ultimate thing would be playing 500-seat capacity places with good lighting, so everyone gets into the show and performance.

Do you want to play for the rest of your life?

Yes. I kind of have to. It’s not a financial thing. It’s just become part of who I am. That’s why B.B. King does it. He doesn’t do it because he needs the money. Believe me, if I didn’t have to do this, if it wasn’t ingrained in me, it would be really easy to just relax. It’s just who I am.

Get in touch with Joe Wood on Facebook
Visit Joe Wood’s website for gig and artwork information



Read Blues Into Metal 1: Jason Ricci
Read Blues Into Metal 2: Up Jumped The Devil (with Adam Gussow)