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

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, March 8th, 2013

forthoseabouttosquawk_2013mar8

ANTHRAX are back at it and because Worship Music wasn’t that bad, this bird brain had high hopes for the EP Anthems. Then I saw it was a covers EP. Oof. This thing stinks more than a pile of homeless people fighting over a bag of buttholes. You really want to hear a bunch of old dudes cover six classic rock songs and then tack one original on the end? Not I sir. Not I. these songs are staler than a comedy set by Carrot Top. So, yeah, if you want to hear inferior versions of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Journey, Rush, Cheap Trick and Boston, by ALL means pick this up. Or just do yourself a favor and punch yourself in the dick instead. 1 Fucking Peck.

KEN Mode, those oft-overlooked canucks, release the pre/post-whatever mindfuck of a meld that they create, and boy howdy is it a hellacious racket. I’ve always thought this band was underrated, and from the first blistering track to the last, Entrench proves to be a vicious ride through meanness. The production is spot-on here and really captures a lot of the band’s energy live. This is a heavy noise-rock clusterpeck that remains fresh and never seems to get derivative of the genre. I pecking love this thing.
8 Fucking Pecks.

INTER ARMA release Sky Burial, a Relapse debut for them, and this seems to be a mix of doom, black metal, psychedelic sludge and, well, I’m not too sure. This is reminiscent of Neurosis and Mastodon, there will no doubt be comparisons, but this does not come off as a clone. Pummeling walls of sound chaos envelop the listener and punish the senses. This is that kind of experience that a record should have” an all-out assault on the senses, meant to be both thought-provoking and nasty. Good work, guys: you achieved both.7 Fucking Pecks.

Want some Xover? IRON REAGAN release Worse Than Dead on A389. This is pure unadulterated fun. Just some good old-school thrash mixed with punk. Featuring members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour, how could it be bad? The one complaint is that this isn’t too far off from the Waste mold, and at times is a little indistinguishable from their counterpart. Even the production doesn’t sound all THAT different than the Waste. But hey, this is a good pecking record, so go get this. 7 Fucking Pecks.

Out-of-Print Decibel Back Issues Now Available in iTunes Store!

By: mr ed Posted in: breaking newz, featured On: Friday, March 8th, 2013

ipad_full_103_newsletter

So, you’ve been hunting for a specific Decibel back issue, but the webstore says it’s sold out. Short of the advent of time travel, we can’t help you with procuring a print edition, but now that Decibel is available in the iTunes Store, you can revisit your favorite extremely extreme magazine in digital form.

Away from the comforts of your decrepit bathroom? Now you can read dB on your iPhone or iPad in public commodes! Not only can you snag the latest issues, but out-of-print classics (Electric Wizard, Watain, Darkthrone) and special issues like the Top 100 Death Metal Albums of All Time and the Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the Decade (also out of print).

October Falls: Exclusive Full Album Stream of The Plague of a Coming Age

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, March 8th, 2013

October_Falls_logo

I like the new October Falls record.  How much do I like it?  You’ll have to wait for the next issue of Decibel to find out exactly, or you could completely ignore me (I would) and just listen to the album right here before you can buy it.  If you’re familiar with Mr. Lehto’s expressions of woodsy extremity, you will not be disappointed.  It strums, it buzzes, it screeches and it sings out gorgeously.  If you’ve not heard any previous OF albums, welcome to the fold.  After the music player below you’ll find a track-by-track discussion by the main dude himself.  Listen and learn!

 

At The Edge of an Empty Horizon – The album starts with the first non-acoustic instrumental we’ve ever recorded and as it was kept quite short, I thought it would work best as an opener for the album. The original plan was to start with “Bloodlines” and to have it more in your face when the  music starts, but eventually I liked it better this way, where the first song builds into the second one.

 Bloodlines – This was the first track I wrote for the album and also the one that defined the direction of the new songs, with shorter compositions and more song-oriented material than before. If I should present just one song from the album to someone, this would be the one.

 The Verge of Oblivion – One of the faster songs from the record and actually a song that almost didn’t make to the album. There [were a] few demos from [which] I chose one to be finished and recorded and eventually this one replaced another demo-track. Marko and Ville, who was still the bassist at that point, liked the other unfinished track, but it was a bit too similar with the title track of the album, so for the sake of the album, I chose this one instead. The other one was left in the closet, maybe it will find its place in the future.

 Snakes of the Old World – Sometimes it’s nice to listen demos you’ve recorded years ago and that’s basically how this song started to evolve. Part of this was already demoed over 12 years ago, but never used for some reason, until now. I think this song is closer to the previous albums than the others, mostly because of the nylon-stringed acoustic guitars.

 The Plague of a Coming Age – More riff-oriented piece than anything else on the album and also the first song where we’ve used clean vocals with the exception of some chants on the previous albums. Tomi Joutsen performed the clean vocals for this one and I did the others.

OctFalls

 Mouth of a Nation’s Harlots – Again, one of my personal favorites, a lot of harmonies with lead-guitars and very melody-oriented. One of the songs that mold the whole album into more towards a band-sound. The ending theme is something I’ll surely recycle and use for something else too in the future. Drum-wise it’s one of my favorites, as with the whole album, no triggers or fixes, just a solid performance.

 Boiling Heart of the North – This one features Tomi on clean vocals again. Originally it was actually an acoustic instrumental intro for the title song of the album, but in the end it became a full song with clean vocals and a full band. Quite different from the other material or anything we’ve done before, but it found its place on the album and gives an extra dimension music-wise.

 The Weight of the Fallen – One of the last songs written and deliberately a faster song with blastbeats, so there would be more variation and higher tempos too. When we were recording this, I noticed that I had made a bit of a tribute to Sentenced melody-wise, there’s a slight resemblance to Noose on one part. Sami did an awesome bass-lines for this, so the bass was also kept quite high on the mix, just like in many other parts of the album.

 Below the Soils – Ever since the demo for this was recorded, it was an obvious song to end the record. Very mid-tempo through the whole song, a piece that wouldn’t work in the middle of the album at all, but fits perfect as a closure. It’s one of my personal favorites from the album and with the marching snare-drum it’s kind of like a march towards the end.

Regional Decibel Magazine Tour Openers Announced!

By: andrew Posted in: featured, the decibel magazine tour, tours On: Thursday, March 7th, 2013

regionalopeners

As if you needed any more incentive to attend this year’s second annual Decibel Magazine Tour—featuring not only headliners Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death and Immolation, but rotating openers Beyond Creation, Cretin and Magrudergrind—it gives us great pleasure to announce eight one-off openers for select locations. Blast beats, please:

MAMMOTH GRINDER
May 10 / Houston, TX / Fitzgerald’s

Mammoth Grinder are akin to the classic early eras of Entombed, Dismember or Autopsy, combined with the bolting hardcore speed of Discharge. Armed with a recording driven by chainsaw guitars, screeching noise and quaking drums, these Austin, TX natives carve out a sound equally appealing to fans of metal and hardcore punk alike.

KILL THE CLIENT
May 11 / Dallas, TX / Trees
May 12 / San Antonio, TX / Backstage Live

Kill the Client formed in 2004, and have released three full-lengths in addition to split releases with Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Thousandswilldie. The band has also appeared on For the Sick—A Tribute to Eyehategod and 2008’s This Comp Kills Fascists. “Kill the Client is beyond excited to be playing on the Decibel tour,” says frontman Champ Morgan. “Both as big fans of the magazine and the amazing lineup. To share the stage again with our friends in Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse will be, as always, a good time. Looking forward to grinding Texas faces in. GRIND HARD! GRIND FAST! NO MERCY!”

ABYSMAL DAWN
May 16 / Santa Ana, CA / The Observatory

Hailing from Los Angeles CA, Abysmal Dawn play an aggressive brand of modern death metal. The band seamlessly blends the hooks and technicality of early ’90s American death metal with the atmosphere, melody and the brutality of their contemporaries.

EARLY GRAVES
May 17 / Oakland, CA / Metro

Early Graves formed in the Bay Area in early 2008, and have released three full-lengths, most recently the critically acclaimed Red Horse. The band’s sound has been described as a mixture of old-school Swedish death metal and American hardcore punk, and has drawn comparisons to Napalm Death, Carcass, Tragedy and Testament, among others. “Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse are bands we have been listening to since we were kids,” says guitarist Chris Brock, “and we are extremely proud and excited to play our home in the Bay Area with the tour. Huge thanks to Andrew and Albert at Decibel.”

GREAT FALLS
May 19 / Seattle, WA / El Corazon

There are three certainties in this fucked-up world: death, taxes and Great Falls. Accidents Grotesque—the follow-up to the Seattle trio’s well-regarded 2011 full-length Fontanelle—is a beacon of truth for the godless masses, a dizzying blend of mathematical hardcore and grind in the vein of Narrows and KEN Mode. Says bassist Shane Mehling, “We were already so stoked to see the show that getting to actually play alongside these legends is almost indescribable. I’ve waited decades to be in the same green room as Shane Embury’s hair.”

ARCHSPIRE
May 21 / Vancouver, BC / Commodore Ballroom

Pushing boundaries of speed and endurance set only by the genre’s top artists, all the while remaining accessible and interesting, is no small feat. These Canadians have proven themselves worthy of touring and playing with bands like Origin, Decapitated, Hate Eternal, Abysmal Dawn, Vomitory, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Aborted.

BLACK ANVIL
Jun 05 / Brooklyn, NY / Music Hall of Williamsburg

NYC’s Black Anvil let loose Triumvirate, the follow-up to the acclaimed Time Insults the Mind, on the unsuspecting world in 2010. Triumvirate’s assault is powerful, primal and pure, capturing and channeling the spirit of metal’s earliest trailblazers through a 21st century urban hostility. Insidious tracks such as “The Evil of All Roots,” “Scalping” and “Dead and Left” are as cold and hard as they are hypnotic.

DRUGS OF FAITH
Jun 06 / Philadelphia, PA / Union Transfer

The original idea was to start a punk band, but it ended up being too hard to categorize. Rock, hardcore and grindcore are among many elements blending into something original in the form of Drugs of Faith. Frontman Richard “The Grindfather” Johnson says, “It’s an honor and a privilege for Drugs of Faith to be supporting the bands on the Decibel Magazine Tour in Philadelphia. It’ll be our job to warm up the early attendees for these top names in death metal and grindcore—that goes for Magrudergrind, too, who’s playing this leg of the tour. June can’t get here fast enough, basically.”

Decibrity Playlist: Inter Arma

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, March 7th, 2013

DSC_0302

Last year, Torche was so stoked about the coming of summer that it passed along a “summer fun” mix. To help get ready for the warmer weather this year, we enlisted the assistance of Inter Arma guitarist Trey Dalton to tell us about some albums to spin once “spring has come and it’s time to grill out.” While the Richmond, VA quintet will release its fantastic sophomore effort, Sky Burial, on March 19th, it will also hit the road starting Saturday with Mutilation Rites (see dates below). It’s a safe bet that not only will be plenty of barbecuing taking place wherever these guys roam, but that said grilling will always be accompanied by some great tunes. You can listen along here.

Outkast—Aquemini (1998)
You could probably sub in any Outkast record here, but this one in particular is my favorite. Nothing quite like a powerhouse hip-hop record to loosen up a crowd of people. “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” is a perfect party jam. I can hear the trumpet melody line right now. This record screams low key and relaxed more often than not which is exactly where one should be mentally while flipping burgers with your pals.

aquemini

Jaga Jazzist—One-Armed Bandit (2010)
This sticks with the relaxed music theme. It’s got enough to be pretty engaging if you’re really listening to it but can be just as effective as background music. “Bananfluer overalt” is a perfect example of what I mean. It shifts back and forth from a pretty in the box staccato groove to a more traditional jazz instrumentation. So much cool stuff on this record.

jj

Iron Maiden—Powerslave (1984)
This record, to me, is the perfect mix of singalong Maiden and solid, deep cuts Maiden. This is the album you put on a few hours into the party when everyone is feeling loose. There’s nothing quite like watching a bunch of drunk dudes trying unsuccessfully to hit the high note in “Aces High”. This is also a good choice if you think things are starting to die down some but you want to inject some new life into the group. It’s the musical equivalent of a Five Hour Energy.

powerslave

Prince And The Revolution—Purple Rain (1984)
This is the record I put on to weed out the tourists. If you’re not singing along, or at least having a good time, during “Let’s Go Crazy” then you need to walk yourself to another cookout because you’re taking yourself too seriously. I also tend to try and punch things at the end of “The Beautiful Ones” because it’s just so damn righteous. The end to “Computer Blue” is as heavy as a lot of things coming out now, anyway. There’s also no better way to wrap up any event than by playing the title track. I mean, come on, right?

PR

The Allman Brothers Band—At Fillmore East (1971)
This is a spectacular spring afternoon record. I could listen to “Whipping Post” whenever, but it seems particularly apt on a sunny day in late March or April. It’s got enough variance within the music itself and enough length that it can simultaneously provide air guitar fodder and background noise for whatever conversation you’re having. The whole vibe is positive, and who wants a super negative cookout?

fillmore

Oranssi Pazuzu—Muukalainen puhuu (2009)
This is probably the most out there choice that I’d chance, but I think that this works as well on a clear March evening as it would during Halloween. “Kangastus 1968″, while pretty damn creepy, is just so relaxing. The tremolo on the guitars and the keyboards flying around at the top of the mix are awesome. I could say the same thing about “Dub kuolleen porton muistolle”. It just rules and fits all the criteria I need for a night that’s winding down.

op

My Bloody Valentine—Loveless (1991)
Not a lot I really need to say about this one. It’s certainly going to be a crowd favorite. But this might be the best representation of a record that simultaneously engages and allows itself to fade into the background. Not a lot of records can do that. Good on them.

loveless

Frank Ocean—Channel Orange (2012)
I’m picking this one because I think it rules and don’t want OutKast to be the lone hip-hop/R&B record on the list. I mean, a BBQ is essentially a party, and a party without good hip-hop is not a fun party. Channel Orange is the best hip-hop/R&B record in close to a decade. Everyone should listen to this, even dirty metalheads like myself.

orange

*Pre-oder a copy of Sky Burial here.

**Mutilation Rites/Inter Arma tour dates:

Mar 09 Cincy By The Slice, Cincinnati, OH
Mar 10 Cobra Lounge, Chicago, IL
Mar 11 FUBAR, St Louis, MO
Mar 18 The War Room, El Paso, TX
Mar 19 Chasers, Phoenix, AZ
Mar 20 Moustache Bar, Tijuana, Mexico
Mar 21 The Slidebar, Fullerton, CA
Mar 22 Mayas, Corona, CA
Mar 23 Rock City, Camarillo, CA
Mar 24 DNA LOUNGE, San Francisco, CA
Mar 25 The Colony, Sacramento, CA
Mar 26 Highline, Seattle, WA
Mar 27 The Shakedown, Bellingham, WA
Mar 28 Rotture, Portland, OR
Mar 29 The Shredder, Boise, ID
Mar 30 Burts Tiki Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 31 Aqualungs, Denver, CO
Apr 01 Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA
Apr 02 Medusa, Minneapolis, MN
Apr 03 High Noon, Madison, WI
Apr 04 Franks Power Plant, Bayview, WI

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

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)

Blues Into Metal #2: Up Jumped The Devil

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

robert_johnson2

Quick test: go check your music shelf or your iTunes. How many metal albums have some kind of mention of the Devil? A third? How did that symbolism get there in the first place? Why is it so powerful, and so enduring?

In the second installment of blues into metal, we’re honored to have bluesman and blues historian Adam Gussow from the University of Mississippi by way of Manhattan. While a student at Princeton, Gussow was a street musician with the blues duo Satan and Adam. He’s a gifted harmonica player who encourages that blues be thought of as a living idiom rather than a set of songs that should be learned and repeated.

He’s also studied and read a lot about this whole Devil thing. Gussow’s next book Beyond The Crossroads: The Devil And The Blues Tradition is in the works. Gussow talked to dB about the Devil in popular American music and the parallels between blues and metal.

How did the symbol and the figure of Satan become prominent in blues music?

The figure of Satan has no real presence in blues music. The Devil certainly has a presence in a number of ways. Now, I’m part of a contemporary blues duo called Satan and Adam and I play with an African American from Mississippi named Sterling Magee who calls himself Mr. Satan. The truth is that with one exception Satan doesn’t show up in blues music. The Devil certainly does. I have 160 songs on my MacBook with the Devil in them. Satan is, of course, all over black spirituals. There’s one incredibly important exception in blues which is Robert Johnson’s “Me and The Devil Blues.” Johnson said: “Early this morning you knocked upon my door and I said, hello Satan, I believe it’s time to go.”

It seems like nomenclature. A lot of people think of the Devil and Satan as interchangeable.

Well, if he is then why does the name Satan never show up in the blues? Why is it always the Devil with one exception? My argument for why he shows up in that (Johnson) song is that the youth of the (Mississippi) Delta at the time did not believe in the Devil. Everybody complained about it. Hortense Powdermaker wrote a book called After Freedom about how people were complaining that the young people in the Delta didn’t believe in religion. They didn’t believe in the Devil, God or hellfire and brimstone. It was like younger people could no longer be scared by the talk from the ministers.

When you look at interviews with blues musicians from the Delta they will tell interviewers that blues is not the Devil’s music. Snooky Pryer said “you should see what this music has done for me. It’s not the Devil’s music.” That was the slander that old folks laid on it. It was young people’s music. People cruised to it, drank to it, fucked to it, fought to it. Older generations got scared. It was moral condemnation, just like what happens with heavy metal and death metal. People get nervous and say “this is out of control.” It’s what they were saying in Robert Johnson’s time. Johnson used the word in the song because he knew it was going to upset old people and he knew he would earn cool points from the younger generation.

There are people in the metal scene that say they worship the Devil and are completely serious. But there’s no doubt that for some people it’s also about marketability in rebellion, the ultimate taboo. So this has been going on for 100 years in American music?

Robert Johnson, unlike 90 percent of blues musicians, was willing to associate himself with the Devil in a song to give himself a rock and roll edge. Most musicians weren’t willing to do that. But the Devil still shows up in all sorts of blues songs. There’s a long history of crossroads encounters but none of them take place in Mississippi. They take place in Maryland and North Carolina and New Jersey.

Let’s go right to the source: Peetie Wheatstraw. People tend to miss the Elijah Muhammad/Nation Of Islam side of the Devil in the blues. I have a chapter on it. There’s a whole category of blues songs that take off on spirituals, which often have Satan in them. This strain within the blues is about what the white man has created in the South with slavery. That shows up all over. Peetie Wheatstraw has about 164 recordings and on 162 of them he’s identified as the “Devil’s Son In Law.” On others he’s identified as the “High Sheriff From Hell.”

Wheatstraw wasn’t trying to align himself with the Devil as much as he was trying to say he was bad. I’m the biggest badass around. If you are a black blues performer and know a prime lynching offense is anything to do with a white woman then to be daring or fearless say you are the Devil’s son in law. You are basically undercutting the white Devil. There’s an underground racial wrestling match going on. Honeyboy Edwards said Wheatstraw had a white woman on his arm and a little white dog on a chain and would walk down the center of East Saint Louis. It doesn’t take a lot to figure out what he was telling his audience. He had whiteness on a chain. It was sort of like Black Snake Moan where Samuel Jackson has Christina Ricci on a chain. There’s a charged dialogue going on.

Records back then were called race records. Was there pushback from the core audience for this music or the white executives who pushed it? Or did it move blues records?

No, it was quite the reverse. Stephen Calt’s book on Skip James I’d Rather Be The Devil talks about how he recorded the song “Devil Got My Woman.” It was out a few weeks later and advertised with Devil imagery. It put (James) off a little bit.

White record executives thought it was great. They always suspected some black folks were evil and in touch with this stuff and superstitious. They thought it was a great way to market it; there was no pushback at all. Black people were seen in most white minds as immoral and licentious. The whites who made money off this thought it was great.

In some ways, this marketing and the selling of the Devil in music almost perpetuated existing racial stereotypes.

You’re absolutely right. Of course, there was always a vein of white southern Evangelicalism which is very judgmental and didn’t like the Devil anywhere. That shows up when rock and roll turns up — that it’s the Devil’s music.

When I started to look at the history of the Devil and blues there was something that preceded the guitar; it’s the fiddle. This takes us back to Paganini and European ideas about people with incredible talent being in touch with the Devil (Eds note: also see Jimmy Page). There was an idea very early on that African slave fiddlers were playing evil music. But it didn’t really enter black music until the 1830s and 40s when black culture got internally divided.

In the 1700s, plantation masters were not terribly religious and had no problem with hoedowns and fiddlers. At a certain point the South got a lot more religious. Slaves started converting. Frolics became seen as something you don’t want to encourage. Black culture up until Emancipation was divided and that increased in the years after Emancipation. Slave culture was initially very dry; there’s a lot of scholarship on this. Slaves didn’t have a lot of spending money and didn’t have time or cash needed for alcohol. That changed when blacks were freed. There was a movement to uplift – especially among the middle class. Churches were formed and you could be a minister and make money. Then, there were guys who formed juke joints because they could open a bar and make money. That led to secular black music. John Lee Hooker had a father who was a minster. The phrase the Devil’s music applies because there was a great bifurcation in black culture. There were ministers trying to build churches and blues musicians and juke joints on the other side. Both of them were making money.

Johnnie Billington is an old African American bluesman from the Delta. He has a school and teaches blues. He’s very stern. I played a gig with him once on a street. At one point I said to him: “Mr. Johnnie, I want to ask a question. I heard about how blues is the Devil’s music.” His eyes got fiery and he said “No, No, No!” He said: “Let me tell you this. By the time the minister gets his hand on the dollar the bluesman has already had two chances at it.” I knew what he meant. It was all about competition.

How does blues and the symbol of the Devil make the leap from the Delta and Chicago to rock and roll music? Was the British Invasion just copying things they heard on old blues music? How does it get into white popular music?

It comes from two different directions. First, it comes from white Southern condemnation. You need to go back before rock and roll to the jazz age. There was moral condemnation from black and white ministers. In the 1920s, women were flappers and smoking; black and white folks mingled. These places were called Devil’s Dance Dens. What really set the religious guys off was the dances that came out of juke joints and were learned by whites. Fats Waller has a song called “There’s Going To Be The Devil To Pay.” He was playing a role but had a black minister father in the south.

These weren’t people who believed in the Devil but referred to him irreverently, which freaked out white and black religious folks. That moral condemnation continued. The Devil’s music aspersion was then cast on rock and roll because it’s where whites and blacks were getting together. For them it was the Devil’s music because it was integrationist.

The other side is different. That’s the Eric Clapton/Mick Jagger “Sympathy For The Devil” side. That’s white British rockers captivated by a gothic mythology and the idea of the crossroads. They didn’t know African American musicians in social context and just listened to the records. They thought it was astonishing music and loved the story about how Johnson went away for six months, sold his soul and became incredibly good. There’s a romanticism that British rockers put on the music. They had very little exposure to living, breathing black musicians. Sonny Boy Williamson and Big Bill Broonzy came to Europe but (most British rockers) didn’t know the music in context.

For the heavy metal community the genesis album is Black Sabbath’s debut which came out in 1969. Satanic themes are all over it. “NIB” is about a romantic relationship with the Devil and the eponymous track is – depending on your point of view – about meeting Satan. So did this imagery get into heavy metal music through romanticization?

I don’t know enough about the history of metal to say if these were affective investments. What I do think is that the way the Devil shows up in the blues is a lot different than how the Devil shows up in metal music. I come from the position that the parallels are probably overstated. But there are certain parallels. There’s the idea of an outside class. Blues people were a self-selected subculture. I’d say there is a similar outsider consciousness to the metal community, with the Devil as the paradigm of the outsider. The Devil is an antagonist. For that reason the Devil was also a useful figure for African Americans who felt excluded from a larger culture.

I think people makes the comparison because there are so many common musical idioms. There would be no heavy metal without blues.

There’s a really interesting place where the two come together. There’s a movie called Crossroads. I happen to like Steve Vai. Is he o.k. with metal guys? (laughs). Is he too pop?

I think Tony Iommi would get the top slot in heavy metal.

(Laughs). Well, let’s get back to Crossroads. The Ralph Macchio character has a black blues playing elder. Then there’s the Steve Vai figure, Jack Butler. The script is the work of a white screenwriter, John Fusco. I view Crossroads, which came out in 1986, as the way the white world was trying to make sense of what Steve Ray Vaughn had wrought. There’s anxiety in the blues world about having a white hero, a guy reinvigorating the blues when blacks aren’t interested in it. There’s a way that the music has been inherited by whites, at least in terms of popularity.

In that battle scene we see two kinds of white blues guitar playing. The Jack Butler character is degraded because it’s theatrical and, according to the movie, it’s metal! (laughs) There are staged grimaces and virtuosity without funk. Next to it is Ralph Macchio. Next to the metal version his blues come off as more authentic.

What’s fascinating is that Macchio wins (the duel) by bringing in Paganini. It’s obviously not blues played in a bluesy way. He pulls it out when Vai has him beat. What’s left when you’ve gotten rid of the degraded blues metal guy and you have a white guy who learned to play blues? It kind of makes whites feel better about their affective investment; we too can play something deep and improvisationally brilliant.

You talked about the battle between blues and metal but I think blues has lost an audience because people think of it as a relic. Even if it’s brilliant it seems like something people watch in a nice club.

There’s far too much glomming on to the past, an overinvestment in the tradition, by white blues afficionados. That’s the reason I really like Jason Ricci (see our first installment). He knows the history beautifully and can play any of those styles. But he’s also dared to leap a little higher and create a new blend. I’ve always assumed that there is a deep anxiety among whites about what they are doing playing blues. If they get away from like a B.B. King or Big Walter Horton they aren’t playing blues. I don’t have that anxiety because I played with Sterling who insisted we create new stuff, even if he was in the blues tradition. But I certainly don’t hew too deep into the tradition. I imagine metal has its own problems? As things become institutions they just keep looking back at their own origins.

One of the big movements in 80s metal was thrash. Now there are a group of musicians trying to sound like the early 80s. So there’s definitely revisionism.

That must be difficult in metal where there’s a lot of emphasis on speed and shredding. Once you’ve gone that fast, where do you go after all that shredding? (laughs)

Make it as slow and heavy as possible.

(laughs). Well, that’s cool, too.

We have metal artists today that bring road kill on stage. Models have been crucified. What would the blues musicians think of these antics?

(laughs). The equivalent would be Screamin’ Jay Hawkins rising out of a casket. There’s a certain element of staginess in blues. It’s always had a place. Now, they seem to make a fetish of a guy playing on a back porch. But there’s not a tradition in the blues of negation for the sake of pure negation, doing the least healthy, most sickening thing we can to shock people. There’s none of that in the blues tradition. Life was too hard and you didn’t want to make it that hard on your audience. You wanted to revivify them. But both of them have rituals. There’s an idea of being a subculture doing what it does; that’s very strong in both idioms. I think your readers could appreciate that from a metal perspective.

Get in touch with Adam Gussow here. Disclaimer: He cannot broker crossroads deals.

Adam and Blues Into Metal encourage everyone to know their history and track down some of the amazing music and books referenced above.

Read Blues Into Metal #1: Jason Ricci

STREAMING: HOD “When the Ghouls Feed”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

hod_blackmetal_decibel_2013

The last time HOD made album-related headlines was with 2009′s Serpent on the Ibex Moon label. Well, denizens of death, destruction, and ophidian-related apocalypse scenarios, San Antonio-based HOD have prepared the The Uncreated Demo, as a stop-gap EP between Serpent and as-yet-label-signed long-player, Book of the Worm.

Self-described as “real fucking metal,” HOD—not to be written as hod, H.O.D. or any other way or there will be real-world consequences for the unfortunate offender—now features guitarist Necron, vocalist Vladibeer Reebs, bassist T.A., and drummer Dennis Sanders. In fact, they’re back for the attack with The Uncreated Demo, which was recorded with Dennis Munoz (Solstice) and Stuart “Batlord” Laurence (Agony Column/Ignitor). Consider HOD 2013 to be the snake eating itself and a bigger snake eating the smaller snake, a kind of infinite (and horrifically malign) Ouroboros. “This demo isn’t just HOD’s return to the frontlines,” says throatman Vladibeer Reebs, “it’s the first assault of a whole new war and siege! It’s time for HOD to take our rightful place upon the throne. And those that survive The Uncreated will be consumed in the chaos and death brought forth by the Book of the Worm. We are here from the shadows. And we came to destroy. Fuckin’ metal!”

But don’t let text written by some Deciblogger sway you into a frothy mess of hate and savagery. Just hit play on the Soundcloud widget (there’s no way to make “widget” sound evil is there?) and ride into the maws of death.

** HOD’s The Uncreated Demo is available HERE. Limited to 100 CDs and 125 cassettes! Click the link or we’ll hurl you into the Serpent Men pit, where it smells of stale carrion and lost lives. If you’d rather just listen to HOD instead of contributing to the burgeoning economy, then check out HOD’s Reverbnation page HERE.

Reminiscences from the Fire: Cliff Burton’s First Show with Metallica, 30 Years on

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, interviews, pic of the day, RIP On: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

023-met-triplethreat-soundcheck

As much as I swore I was never going to do a blog post about goddamn Metallica, when Bazillion Point Books contacted me about doing a spread celebrating the 30th anniversary of Cliff Burton’s first show with Metallica (March 5, 1983, for those of you who aren’t so good with math) – featuring actual photographs taken at said show – the opportunity was too good to pass up. So here you go, a tribute to one of the greatest bassists metal has ever known, with pictures taken by one of his friends and excerpts from that same friend’s review of the show from Metal Mania #10. Plus a bonus exclusive interview with the aforementioned photographer/reviewer, Brian Lew. So hit the lights!

METALLICA, THE STONE, MARCH 5, 1983
by Brian Lew, excerpt from Metal Mania #10, 1983

Six months have passed since METALLICA’s dubious San Francisco debut opening for BITCH in September of ‘82, but in those two hundred-odd days the group has built up a large, rabid following in the Bay Area. This particular show was dubbed “The Night Of The Banging Head” and was the debut of new bassist, Cliff Burton. As a crowd of three hundred or so filed into The Stone, the scene was set for what turned out to be the heaviest show in recent S.F. HM history!

025-BLEW-cliffjames-firstshow

METALLICA, those Supreme Metal Gods, those Purveyers of Raging Sonic Decapitation, those Rabid Vodka-Powered Maniacs, blew our faces off as they stormed onstage through a flurry of smoke and blinding light and got things really banging with “Hit The Lights” and it was time to DIE!!!

027-BLEW-cliffsfirstbasssolo

The moment many had been waiting for soon arrived. Bassist Cliff Burton’s solo spot!!! Cliff built his solo from a haunting classical guitar-sounding ballad up to a crescendo of some of the fastest, most apocalyptic bass raging ever performed! Step aside Steve Harris, Bill Sheehan and Joey DeMaio!

028-BLEW-cliffsfirstshow-bw

Throughout his symphony, Cliff (a.k.a. God!) utilized his wah pedal to attain sunds that most would believe impossible; you could swear he was playing lead guitar, not bass. As his solo built up to its conclusion, drummer supreme Lars Ulrich (now playing double bass) and maestro of the six string Dave Mustaine leaped into an awesome jam session that had heads bobbing violently and hair flying in all directions. Then, in one swift action, they were rejoined by vocalist/rhythm guitarist/rager James Hetfield and sped into that ear bleeding anthem “Whiplash.”

032-BLEW-cliffsoundcheckfinger

With the addition of Cliff Burton, METALLlCA now have the heaviest and fastest lineup ever assembled. With dates confirmed for them in New York in early April (including a headlining show on the 1st and a support slot with VANDENBERG on the 8th), and their debut album expected in late spring, things are definitely beginning to happen for this band!

032-BLEW-Donnatheinterviewer

 

BONUS TRACK: Interview with Brian Lew

What do you think it was about Cliff’s playing that elevated Metallica to the next level?
I saw Cliff with his first band Trauma and he already had a local reputation for being an amazing bassist with a crazy unique style.  He played with his fingers like Geddy Lee and Geezer Butler but then he’d use a beer bottle as a slide during his bass solo.  He played bass like a lead instrument instead of a backing instrument.  He was also very confident onstage and I think his addition motivated and inspired James to be more aggressive and confident onstage too.   Also, obviously his eclectic musical taste and musicianship moved Metallica forward from writing a song like ‘Jump In The Fire’ to creating a composition like ‘Orion’.

Did you have any inkling at the time that Metallica were going to explode like they did?
Of course not!    Most of us, including the band, were still teenagers in the beginning and we became friends because of our common fanaticism over NWOBHM.  When Cliff joined they definitely went to another level but there was no way to predict what was to come.  At the time mainstream Metal was Ratt and Motley Crue; you couldn’t even comprehend seeing a band like Metallica on MTV.  For me, I felt something big was happening when they went to Europe for the first time in 1984 and Sounds did a big article on them.  Sounds pre-dated Kerrang and it was THE hard rock / metal publication out of the U.K. in the 70’s and early 80’s; it was the publication that coined the phrase NWOBHM.  When I saw Metallica in Sounds it blew my mind they were in those pages.   However, that was minor compared to where they ended up; from underground metal cassette demo tape to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I still don’t really have my head around it; it’s still weird for me to hear ‘Seek And Destroy’ on the local FM rock radio station.

What is your fondest personal memory of Cliff?
Even when Metallica started getting big he’d still hang out at Ruthie’s Inn and go to local shows, as did all of the Metallica guys.  I guess my favorite personal memories are how he’d go out of his way to say “Hi” to me in those situations.  Even when surrounded by people vying for his attention he’d always take a moment to shoot the shit with me even if it was for only a handshake and a minute.  I was not one of his best or closest friends, but he always treated me like a friend.  One time I ran into him outside of a Dio concert in San Jose and he had a 12-pack with him.  Before I could even say “Hi” he had pulled a can out and handed it to me.  Then he said “What’s up?”  I think that’s Cliff in a nutshell.  He was the real deal.

What do you think his legacy was for future bassists?

I’m not a musician so I can’t say, but obviously the attitude he still projects via the old photos, videos, and recordings still inspires.  I had a conversation with Kirk (Hammett) last year about how Cliff has become such a huge icon and how amazing that is; he was in awe that his brother is remembered like that after all this time.   Cliff’s bell bottoms are like a symbol of individuality now.  The major rager on  the 4-string motherfucker still lives.

***If you want to see more pictures and read more reminiscences from the classic days of Bay Area thrash, check out Murder in the Front Row, available from Bazillion Point Books, HERE

Shiva-Approved Metal Tourism: All Hail Bhayanak Maut!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen, lists On: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

310517_10150373611132901_202401355_n

Bombay metal stalwarts Bhayanak Maut — “terrible death” in Hindi — are a groove n’ grind powerhouse. That much is beyond dispute. But listening to the band’s latest EP Metastasis, one nagging question did arise: Say Decibel gets all fired up and flies halfway around the world to see a Bhayanak Maut home country performance — how’re we going to keep ourselves occupied before and after the show?

In response vocalist Vinay Venkatesh — brother, it should be noted, of Professor Death Metal himself, Vivek Venkatesh — not only gave us the 411 in the form of the Top Five Places Every Metalhead Must Visit While in India list below, but also offered up a stream of the track “Chakna For Church” for the edification of Decibel readers. Get into it. Then get on an aeroplane.

1. Run To The Hills — The Seven Sisters

If you’re travelling to India, then the north-eastern-most states of the country are where you should head to first. You’ll be greeted by fertile plains, valleys, the foothills of the Himalayas, unbelievably delicious food, The Ghost Pepper (dare yourself to eat this), shit-loads of the freshest tea you will ever drink in your life, taxi drivers that only play metal in their taxis (I kid you not), fragile remnants of the British rule from almost a century ago, and mother nature in all her splendour. This is an area that the government thankfully doesn’t give a shit about. Get here and experience this part of the country before the government realises that it’s sitting on a goldmine and decides to fuck it up, too.

2. It’s Not Safe To Swim Today — Houseboats, Coconuts and Fish

Kerala’s Tourism board calls the state ‘God’s Own Country’. They’re not lying. It’s beautiful. It’s also a better holiday destination than Goa. Period. Kerala offers pristine beaches, mountains, valleys, backwaters and flat, green pastures as far as the eye can see. It also offers the best fucking food you’ll find in India. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will never be disappointed. You’re looking at the choicest of fruits, vegetables, spices, coconuts, rice, sea-food and meat in every meal. Must visit: Cochin (just because it’s beautiful and relaxed), Allappuzha (for the backwaters), Munnar (for the hills and the tea), Iddukki (for the weed), and Kovalam (for the sun, beaches and the food).

STREAMING: IMPALERS “Power Behind the Throne”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, March 4th, 2013

Impalers-Band

When Horror Pain Gore Death’s commander-in-chief sent through IMPALERS‘ debut LP Power Behind the Throne it really looked like the email concerned some band called Impalas. Swear to God. And how cool a band name would that be? Okay, when they’re leaping around the savanna Impalas come across too cutesy for old-school thrash metal, but to their credit they take a 100% metal looking horned skull to the grave with them, whereas even the sickest operator in underground metal’s moral wastelands will leave a skull no spookier than a prop from your high-school production of Hamlet.

So yeah, Impalers, well, okay: that’s a band name we can work with, a band we can get behind. Here’s the skinny: Impalers come from Denmark, formed in 2007, have had two demos to their name—2009′s Army of Darkness and A Necessary Evil from 2011. While tracks such as “Aggressor” and “Nuclear Nights” don’t twist the genre into new shapes, they demonstrate that these raw Danish kids have got all the requisite spunk, pep and attitude needed to make it in this game. Fuck, they even sound angry, and are all about the whiplash, qualities that almost seem like afterthoughts to today’s thrashers. You’ll hear the influences; Kreator, ye olde Sepultura, Destruction, Exodus, et al. But that’s no bad thing, quite the contrary. Power Behind the Throne is out tomorrow on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. You can buy it HERE. And you can listen to the album in its entirety below.


**IMPALERS on FACEBOOK