The Big Swim: American Sharks Tour Diary

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: diary, featured On: Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

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Austin, Texas purveyors of kinetic riffage and uber-burly grooves American Sharks just dropped a sick self-titled debut back in September — check out a stream here — and are now on the road with Clutch and The Sword backing it up.

Bassist/vocalist Mike Hardin checks in with this report…

Saturday, Oct. 12th: Texarkana

Day one. Starting the tour real strong. We played a really awesome tiny little icehouse. I must have had about 7 Bud Lights before we even played. Afterward we took it to our buddy Josh’s house. That’s when the Jim Beam shots started…and the barfing. Nobody cried.

Sunday, Oct. 13th: Nashville, TN

Night two saw us playing another awesome small venue. Unfortunately both the last two shows have been smoking inside bars. If you haven’t lived in an area where there is smoking in doors for a long time it really fucks you up. Whatever, I got drunk so I didn’t care. We stayed at a friends house that night that has the most amazing pup in the world! Her name is Annie and she is a pitbull mix. She slept by us and she was really sweet.

Monday, Oct. 14th: Asheville, NC

Dayal Patterson, author of Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult give us his Top 10 BM albums

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews, lists On: Monday, November 11th, 2013

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We’re all listed out after totalling up the scores for the albums of the year and putting together our Top 100 Black Metal Albums of All Time special issue. But author Dayal Patterson, a man in league with unfathomable evil, kindly dipped into his wellspring of arcane ancient darkness to muster the energy to give us one more list, a top ten to mark the unholy birth of his 2.636lb magnum opus, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult.

For the story behind this mammoth tome, check out our post here. But read on for Patterson’s list. It isn’t in any order and it’s a personal top ten as opposed to the more academic, most-important/best-BM albums of all time list.

VENOM Welcome to Hell (Neat Records, 1981)
“I think we have to put in Venom’s Welcome to Hell because that effectively kick-started the genre. Black Metal is the more obvious album because it gave a name to it—maybe I should have gone for that—but they are both essential. It’s not really an album; I guess everyone knows this but it was demo tracks released without the band’s consent, and it sounds pretty raw because of that. Then again, I think that became quite an important part of black metal, that lo-fi approach. It was a long way from what we call black metal now but that was the inspiration for the Norwegian bands, a lot of the second generation bands who followed; they considered it black metal, and I think after writing this book I would as well. Those first three Venom albums really are timeless. They get better and better with age. Black Metal is the better album—maybe you can stick those together?—but Welcome to Hell is the more historically important. That is where it was born, if it was born anywhere. With Black Metal they had a bit more time in the studio, refined things a bit, the songwriting is better. Venom were hugely successful; they never did the whole band-in-a-van thing, they were headlining big venues almost straight away. When you look at a band like Immortal you can see a lot of Venom; I always thought Immortal were more of a First Wave than a Second Wave band, despite the corpsepaint—their attitude is very Venom, larger than life. Venom was all about entertainment and I think that is what it was about back then. None of those [black metal] rules came in until later one. You were allowed to be a bit of a rock star back then. In the ’90s—Fenriz and Apollyon talk about that in the book, and Samoth as well—stuff was labelled black metal, but in the ‘80s it was almost like you had to find the black metal in releases. You had to extract it, and those early ‘80s albums by Sodom, Destruction and Kreator, bands like that, you could hear it, you could discover the black metal in it. A lot of it was down to interpretation.”

5 Corporate Logos Gone Underground Metal By Christophe Szpajdel

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Monday, November 11th, 2013

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If the name Christophe Szpajdel doesn’t ring a bell you probably don’t own CDs or LPs (or, you’re new to underground metal; hey, we all start somewhere). ‘Tis the conundrum of being the product of a digital age. Liner notes, credits, lyrics, etc. often get pushed to some dark corner of a binary folder (or completely forgotten), but that’s a conversation for another rainy fall day. Belgian born Szpajdel is infamous for a few reasons, actually. You know the Emperor logo. He was the artist. Arcturus? Yup, Szpajdel. The old Moonspell logo. That’s our guy. Impiety? You guessed it. Szpajdel. He’s so prolific he has a 272-page book of logos on Die Gestalten Verlag (HERE). So, what’s Szpajdel up to now? Transforming corporate logos into underground—predominantly black metal—signs of the apocalypse. Here are a few recently highlighted by FastCo.

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This is a classic thrash metal vibe with a good ’70s rock feel to boot. Perhaps a little too ‘on the nose’ (FastCo = a logo moving, uh, fast), but when has metal been about subtlety?

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Next to the Walt Disney piece, this is class. Reminds me of Seance’s logo mixed with the Dark Crystal logo. Podlings + death metal + the greatest data hunter/gatherer on the planet = nifty.

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Another thrashy look. Maybe more hardcore, dis-core, or power violence. Actually, looking at it now, the one thing that comes to mind is the Tragedy logo. And, hey, Tragedy rules. No, their logo wasn’t illustrated by Szpajdel.

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Another good one, really. More “French” than, say, anything else. Like Alcest got in trouble with Bill Gates for software piracy, so they forced him to make a song about blue screens of death, multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, and the sadness of having to do full restores.

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Ah, this could by any band at the demo stage. You know, when they’re not quite sure what they want to do but they want to convey evil. Maybe this is Facebook’s “dorm logo.” Before Suckerbirch figured out he could steal from the Vanderpickles without them noticing. Too much.

Dave Matrise (Jungle Rot) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, November 8th, 2013

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** Hard to believe Jungle Rot’s been kicking death metal’s can since 1994. With seven full-lengths in their body bag—the most recent of which is this year’s Terror Regime—the Cheese Staters have written the book on Midwest death. We sit down with founding member Dave Matrise via the wonders of technology (that’s the Internet for you short bus folk) to discuss Terror Regime but mostly what it takes to be in a death metal band in 2013. Mostly.

You’ve been doing death metal for almost 20 years. Looking over your career and what you’ve accomplished what do you think of it?
Dave Matrise: When I started out I never thought this band would still be around today, only in my dreams. I am very proud of our accomplishments, this is our 8th CD. Our fans have stuck by us from the beginning. We have engaged new fans as well. We have almost done everything I have set out to do with this band. What I enjoy most is when we tour with bands that I started out listening to back before I was in a band that to me is just mind blowing. I would always tell my buds, “I wish I could tour with a band like that” or “I would kill to go out on the road with that band.”

What advice would you give to bands just getting their feet wet?
Dave Matrise: To just try to keep it fun for as long as you can. Support other bands, the underground scene, and never stop the fight for something you want or dream of. Back when I first started to play it was easier, there were so many good bands in our area and everyone supported one another. We were always going to shows to make a scene. Bands starting out have to remember why they started to play and that is to play live shows. It’s not a competition with others. It’s about unity and supporting each other. If you don’t start that, there will never be a scene to play to.

What are the realities facing death metal bands in today’s music market? I’m talking top-down.
Dave Matrise: All I can say is that it’s going to be a long and painful journey. Starting out is the hardest thing. Trying to find venues to play live is not that easy, especially when the bands don’t have a name for themselves yet. That’s were a lot cash will come out of someone’s pocket; paying to get on tours/shows and paying for everything that you need to keep it going. When the chance comes to sign to your first label, beware and do get a lawyer to look over everything, get his advice. Touring time could be the best times for some bands and the worst time for others. We traveled in a van for five weeks at a time, sleeping and living in it every day. The road is the biggest pay off, but it takes the most work of all. We drive multiple hours on end and hope there is a hot meal waiting for us or a buy-out when we arrive at the venue. It is really hard for bands today to really make it and be successful.

Victory Records called Jungle Rot “knuckle-dragging Neanderthal death metal.” Surely, there’s more to Jungle Rot than that.
Dave Matrise: I do like the way that sounds. I like to think of us as soul-taking death metal that will leave you begging for more. Jungle Rot is all about keeping it true to our fans and style of music, we have gained a lot of respect over the years and want to continue that and growing our fan base. When you come out to a live show you will see exactly what we are about.

Is there separation between Terror Regime and Kill on Command, as far as style and substance are concerned?
Dave Matrise: There is not necessarily a separation but we definitely added a lot more aggressions this time around. This time we worked more on melodies and getting solid solos down for each song. Our guitarist Geoff really pushed himself this time around to kick out some amazing leads, and our drummer Jesse kept our energy level to the max and really, really impressed the hell out of us. Our fans know just what they are getting when buying our CD’s. We all went into this recording with 100 percent confidence and Terror Regime will show it.

Is there a place for groove-oriented death metal these days?
Dave Matrise: Yes, very much, how much more extreme can the music get? People want to hear something new, and fresh, not the same copy-cat bands that some labels flood the scene with. We stand and wait to show everyone that there is way more to brutal music then just how many blast beats per a second you can do. We want to bring back the good ol’ days where everyone would throw their fist in the air and help you up if you fell down in a circle pit. That was the old school way. There are a variety of styles of brutal music to choose from, not just the same extreme speed over and over.

What about song placement on Terror Regime. Was it hard to sequence the album? It has a pretty natural flow to it. It’s something most death metal bands don’t really get.
Dave Matrise: Jungle Rot has something different then some other bands. Most of our songs do not sound the same and when we picked the track list, we just let the energy flow out to us, it came very natural. We really think there are a good variety of songs for everyone. It will be easy to find many songs to enjoy. Some releases by other bands sometimes will sound like the first song all the way to the end and in that case it would make it more difficult to choose a good track.

Musically, what inspires you these days? It can be musical or not. News, politics, movies, etc.
Dave Matrise: When I write songs on the guitar it’s like a breath of fresh air. I pick up to play and forget about everything that is happening around me at that time, just free from the outside world. Writing comes easy for me , I can start to write something right on the spot and it just works; it has always been like that. It’s also what has kept me into music for this long and is helping me make a career out of it. I knew early on that this is something I was good at, this is what I was meant to do. Jim writes most of the lyrics, he’s always talking about current events and what is going on in the world. He also watches a lot of movies, which I believe is what helps him to write the lyrics so well. Jim really hit some good topics this time around with songs like “Voice your Disgust” or “Blind Devotion,” they all seek the truth.

What does the album, Terror Regime, title refer to?
It’s almost the end of the world and mankind. Someone is coming for us. The Regime is our controlling government that we have, they are trying to tell us all how to feel, what to think, and what to believe in. They try to scare us into the lies that they have fed us. (This is what this small world could come to if we give in and lay down our guns, I say no-way to that.) On the new cover, the regime is coming after everyone to give up their rights. The skulls hanging are from the victims that would not give into them. They fly their banners with hate, they love red; it’s the color of blood.

The cover has an iconic look to it. Almost like the old Bolt Thrower covers. Where’d the idea come from to have a tank on the cover?
Dave Matrise: The idea came up from our artist, Gyula. He has done our last three covers and is amazing at what he does. We just send him the titles and all the lyrics, and he nails it every time. All of the songs are about the world and the current state we are all going through today. He really made the complete CD layout tie in together from front to back, with the titles and images working together. We can never escape the “war and gore theme” with a name like Jungle Rot, and it fits just right this time with our new music, killing and crushing all.

What do you make of the “I Predict a Riot” song appearing on Workaholics? Did you notice an upswing of interest or was it more of a passing piece of music in the series that didn’t affect the band.
Dave Matrise: We thought it was killer and it was an amazing feeling to hear our music on the TV. I don’t think it did much for us, it was so short and not too many people could tell who it was. We hope next time, it will be a longer spot and that it will make a bigger impact for us. Heck we’d even love to play live for a taping!

Victory re-reissued Skin the Living. What’s it like to have your demo material out in the market again? It was first issued by the band and then reissued by Pure Death Records.
Dave Matrise: It feels real good. That’s something I have wanted to do for some time. We’re giving it a proper release and, most of all, it’s being pressed on vinyl. We released it back in ‘95 and then again on a limited pressing through Pure Death Records. This will give everyone a chance to have a rare piece of ours; it will show where it all started for Jungle Rot and how long we have been fighting this fight for old school metal to stay alive.

** Jungle Rot’s Terror Regime is out now on Victory Records. A ton of Jungle Rot merch—vinyl, t-shirts, CDs—is available HERE. Click the link and do the war support dance. Film it too, ’cause then we can post it on Jungle Rot’s Facebook timeline.

BREWTAL TRUTH: Read This Now!

By: adem Posted in: featured, liver failure On: Friday, November 8th, 2013

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There are all kinds of new products popping out of the woodwork in the Decibel Universe right now. You may have heard of this limited-edition 100th Issue Show: The Movie DVD that’s just arrived at dB HQ. Then there’s the Top 100 Black Metal Albums of All Time special issue that’ll be the perfect holiday gift for those hard-to-buy-for, extra-kvlt friends and family on your holiday shopping list. And you’re no doubt on pins and needles waiting to see what we Decibel hacks chose as the Album of the Year in the upcoming January issue. (SPOILER ALERT! . . . Just kidding. We have no idea either, but it’s never the album that topped our own list.)

There is, however, one very special new release that we’re particularly partial to: The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers: An All-Excess Pass to Brewing’s Outer Limits. This is like the craft beer version of Commandant Mudrian’s Choosing Death, as it focuses on the extreme edges of the craft beer world. These are brews that, were they around back in the day, would have left the Heavy Metal Parking Lot crew laid out flat.

Best of all, this is 224 pages of brand new Brewtal Truth material. Nothing in the book previously appeared in any of our columns in the magazine. It’s the same idea—metal and beer come together as one (to paraphrase former Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff)—but it’s all about the extreme stuff. On the beer side, there are more than 100 extreme beer profiles from around the world. There are also interviews with key people from some of the most extreme breweries out there: Stone, Avery, Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, Surly, BrewDog, Lost Abbey and Mikkeller.

The extreme music element is in there, too, of course. Every beer profiled features an extreme music pairing and there are exclusive interviews with the craft beer-crazy members of Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste, Clutch, Charred Walls of the Damned, Brutal Truth and Mastodon.

We’ve done our best over the last four-plus years to bring our beer knowledge to the extremely extreme set via our column in Decibel, and the Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers continues that mission by delving into the insane world of high-alcohol, mega-hopped, barrel-aged and metal-inspired brews.

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Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Alaska’s Nott

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, free, interviews, listen On: Friday, November 8th, 2013

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Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

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Seriously, there’s too much music out there for anybody to find all the good stuff.  Even keeping up with the major movers ‘n’ shakers in the scene can become overwhelming; keeping on top of unsigned wonders verges on the exhausting.  It’s gems like this new EP by Nott that keeps us happily, hungrily in the game.

Alaskan-raised Tyler Campbell has absorbed a myriad of influences and blasted them all back out as 18 minutes of atmospheric death prog havoc.  The fire on this recording is almost physical.  Guitar and drum arrangements and performances are certainly exciting, but the vocal scourge truly sets this apart from the pissed-at-life crowd.  Catch the EP at Bandcamp (or scroll down and press play), and hear about Nott’s origins and imagined pathways straight from the dude himself.

Who is Nott?  What life/background led you to these dark creations?

My name is Tyler Campbell, and I am Nott. It’s who I am and what I do. I’ve always loved darker music. When I was a kid I heard some Pantera from my parents, and it absolutely enthralled me.  As the years went by and I found myself searching for more and more things, the darker and heavier the music always got.  One day I decided to try my own hand at creation, and thus Nott was born.

Where did the project name come from?

When I was deciding on what to call the project, I had a few characteristics I wanted in mind. I wanted it to be a pseudonym –more than a band name, since I alone am not exactly a band- and a short word at that, so after a good bit of brainstorming it came to me. After some research, I discovered the Nótt was an Old Norse goddess, the goddess of night.

This happy little coincidence struck a chord with me because I come from a strong Scandinavian heritage. Where I come from means a lot to me, as it’s what influenced who I am today. Nott seemed fitting, and taking the accent off the ‘o’ made the title a little more mine.

You’re in Alaska?  Where exactly?  Have you always lived there?  What do you like/dislike about your locale?

I grew up in Southeast Alaska, but currently I live in Seattle to attend music school. I spent my whole life in Alaska, and it’s where I call home. I grew up in a cold and forested area, and the music I was getting in to definitely reflected that, especially when I began explore the worlds of black metal.

While it was a nice place to grow up, there was zero room for expansion and evolution in terms of local music, and it was extremely difficult to get anything outside the town. I had a death metal band in high school and we played a few local festivals, but it seemed impossible to advance. Now that I’m in Seattle, I’m beginning to find a much larger market for the type of music I make, as well as a much larger network of people that are helping to make things happen for Nott.

Have you worked on other music projects before Nott?

Nott is this first real project of mine. Never before this have I seriously delved into something creatively, so in a sense this is the beginning.

Your song lengths are remarkably consistent on the new EP.  What gives?

I had a three-act piece and enough music to play around with each bit somewhat evenly, and the idea of implementing a 666 in the works not only fit the words, but also was just too good to pass up. One thing about it that was very interesting was that it started out as a small and simple concept, but ended up being a fairly difficult procedure in the writing process. When you want to progress a song a certain way to fit a story appropriately, constraining each song to an extremely strict time limit was challenging. It forced me to make a lot of creative decisions that I don’t believe I would’ve made otherwise, but I’m very happy with in the end.

What music is exciting/influencing you right now?  Is there any non-heavy music that you’re enjoying?

I seem to always be listening to Gojira, Opeth, Meshuggah, and Ahab. There is of course much more, but those bands are always standing out as driving forces for me creatively, and when I listen to them I get inspired like none other.

In terms of ‘non-heavy’ music, I’ve been listening to a lot of Steven Wilson’s projects and Russian Circles as of late. I love how in both cases they’re able to explore very dark and beautiful avenues musically without the need of sonic heaviness. I think about that a lot when I write for Nott. I believe that when you want something to sound extreme in certain regard, you need to also supply the polar opposite for contrast. Otherwise, the sound –especially during a lengthier piece- gets a tad dull and uniform, no matter how intricate and intense.

What was the writing/recording process like for Obsidian Depths?  Anything particularly different from the way the earlier EP came together?

With Obsidian Depths, I had an overarching vision of the story I wanted to tell and how I wanted the music to progress. I filled in the gaps accordingly until the piece was complete. I wrote it all at home on my laptop, and began the recording process there as well. I engineered the guitars and bass direct into my interface and used plug-ins from there, and used Toontrack products for the drums. I brought the stems back home to my good friend Lance Fohrenkam where he engineered my vocal sessions, then mixed and mastered the whole thing.

Devouring Deities, the earlier EP, came together in a very different fashion. I wrote out the music with almost no direction, whereas the lyrics follow a cohesive and continuous story. Obsidian Depths, on the other hand, was written both musically and lyrically with the whole in mind.

Have you played your music in a live setting?

Nott has never been performed live, and that’s not because I might not one day want to. I haven’t yet pieced together a band for the material, and I’m not certain if I ever will. That depends on the capability and passion of the fellow musicians interested in joining me.

What plans do you have for this project, or any others you might have brewing?

My plans with Nott are to keep it going for as long as I can manage. I have begun writing for a third EP, but it’s far too soon to tell when it’ll be completed. Currently, Nott is the only project on my mind, and the only one I’m devoting this level of attention to. Obsidian Depths got Nott a fair bit of attention, and I’m very excited to see where it goes as I make more material.

Jonas Renkse & Anders Nyström (Katatonia) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Thursday, November 7th, 2013

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** Katatonia recently ventured through the U.S. with Cult of Luna, Intronaut, and Anciients. I sat down with old buds Jonas Renkse & Anders Nyström to have a laugh, chat, talk about old shit (not transcribed), and highlight “experiment” album, Dethroned and Uncrowned. Read on Katacolyts!

What was the motivation behind Dethroned and Uncrowned?
Anders Nyström: It was a total experiment. We saw something lurking deep down on Dead End Kings. By stripping all the elements of heaviness, we’d come up with a more beautiful, quiet sound. Of course, we weren’t ready to dig into that while we were recording Dead End Kings—that would’ve been silly. So, we said, “When we’re done, let’s go back and bring up the files again to see what we can do with the ideas we had.” We felt the material could take a totally different direction and end up as something very beautiful. It sparked the whole thing.

It takes a bit to adjust to. It’s Katatonia but it’s not.
Anders Nyström: It’s an experiment. It’s very important for people to realize this isn’t the direction we’re taking the band. We knew and we felt could pull it off.
Jonas Renkse: It’s for the people who felt Dead End Kings was too harsh.
Anders Nyström: It’s for the housewives. [Laughs]

It’s cool you’re able to experiment and have the label support you.
Anders Nyström: Well, actually we didn’t have a label to support us. That’s how the whole pledge campaign came about.
Jonas Renkse: We didn’t really like the idea, but there was no budget for what we wanted to do.
Anders Nyström: They [Peaceville] really get what they were going to get. They liked the idea, but nobody knew what it was going to sound like until it’s handed in. They had some faith in us. Or, we did some blackmailing. [Laughs] The fans also pledged. It was a win-win. They supported the project and they got it.

Do you support pledging as a financial tool now that you’ve gone through it?
Anders Nyström: It depends on what you pledge. If there’s one product out there that says, “This is what you get when you pledge,” then that’s fine. But when you start going into services that aren’t in your comfort zone, we’re not too into. I mean, where does it stop? I can see management or the label trying to push it [the pledge] too far.
Jonas Renkse: I don’t think we’ll do it again. We’re grateful for what we got, but next time we’re going to focus on the regular album done the regular way.

Pledging is a popular thing now for bands fund whatever they want.
Jonas Renkse: It is. I think it’s the perfect way to finance stuff you want to do by the people who really love you. On the other hand, I feel it’s important to keep some distance. As Anders said, we need to have our comfort zone. I don’t think anybody wants to do anything to get money.
Anders Nyström: The main thing with Kickstarter is for bands who don’t have a label. They’re on their own. Unsigned. It’s when you have other people behind you, that’s when things can go really wrong.

Was there a point where you felt limited musically on Dethroned and Uncrowned?
Jonas Renkse: Most of the ideas were already there. So, no. Some of the songs were more difficult to translate than others. That was the challenge. There are some really heavy songs on the album [Dead End Kings]. Actually, those songs turned out great in the end. Very lush.
Anders Nyström: Exactly. Some songs have the metal characteristics—picking, for example—and to translate them to acoustic guitar can be very tricky. If we tried to make the songs the on the acoustic the same way we made them on the electric, they’d be horribly amateurish. That was the biggest challenge, to get songs to work. Sometimes it was best to not have any guitars. None. Just the vocals and the background. That became a bigger picture. Those moments are so dynamic. There’s just a small amount of instrumentation. All this was there all the time, way down in the mix [on Dead End Kings]. We had to take away a lot of stuff to find the right moments on this album [Dethroned and Uncrowned].

I’m surprised you didn’t use this opportunity to do covers. Like a Whitesnake song.
Anders Nyström: [Laughs] He [pointing to Jonas] wouldn’t allow me! We’re supposed to take this project on tour next year. It’s not the new direction of the band. I’ll say that again. But we’ll take this on tour. We’re going to treat older songs the same way for the live show. It makes sense. We do love cover songs, so it might be cool to do that live, but not on an album.
Jonas Renkse: Not yet.
Anders Nyström: We’re working on it. [Laughs]

You’ve done some stuff outside Katatonia, Jonas. With Bruce Soord.
Jonas Renkse: It was a good experience. I came in quite late to that project. All the music was written, the lyrics, the vocal lines. I just put my signature on it, using my voice as I always do. The result is nice. It’s not very metal at all. I like it. It’s not too far from Katatonia. We have some electric parts in Katatonia, but it’s very different.

Any chance of resurrecting Diabolical Masquerade, Anders?
Anders Nyström: Well… I can’t believe how the last album [Death’s Design] is at this point. Twelve years old now. Crazy. I’ve been saying we have Bloodbath, but if Bloodbath ain’t going to do something, it’s probably what I’m going to do. But there’s a new Bloodbath we’re working on. I like opposite of extremes. It’s probably something I could pick up again.

And you’re reissuing Viva Emptiness. It’s 10 years old at this point. That’s crazy.
Jonas Renkse: It was recently remixed and remastered to have it released at the same time of the Paradise Lost tour.
Anders Nyström: But it’s not to celebrate 10 years or because of the tour. We were never really happy with the outcome.
Jonas Renkse: The decision to remix it came before.
Anders Nyström: Exactly. It’s just timing. We look forward to redeeming ourselves, releasing the album and playing it live. We also added some stuff that we left off the original version. Like vocals on the last song. I think people are going to like it. Way less St. Anger. We applied an anti-Ulrich filter to the album. [Laughs] More Katatonia.

** Katatonia’s Dethroned and Uncrowned is out now Peaceville Records. It’s available HERE. It’s available on vinyl too (HERE). Katatonia’s Viva Emptiness is out now too. Available on CD (HERE) and LP (HERE). Wicked, right?

Decibrity Playlist: Vattnet Viskar

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

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Given that fall is about halfway over and the weather, at least on the East Coast, is getting frigid, we thought it was a good time to present our second ever season-specific playlist. While Chris Alfieri’s “Song to Burn Leaves To: A New Englander’s Fall Music Companion” compliments Torche’s “Summer Fun” playlist quite nicely, Vattnet Viskar‘s debut full-length is a pretty good record to spin during any season (and happens to be one of my favorites of the year). Plus, the guitarist’s inclusion of Russian Circles’ “Schipol” clearly shows he has impeccable taste. You can more read about these New Hampshirites in our November issue (which also happens to have a pretty sweet HOF if I may say so myself).

Feel free to listen along here and you can pick up a copy of Sky Swallower here.

Type O Negative’s “Christian Woman” (from 1993’s Bloody Kisses)
I remember the first time I heard Peter Steele’s voice. It was in the fall of 1997, also my freshman year in high school. A formidable time in my adolescent life. I purchased Bloody Kisses at my local mall’s Sam Goody, went home, and was immediately in love. A week later, my grandfather died. This was the first of many heartbreaking falls with Type O Negative.

typeo

Danzig’s “Tired Of Being Alive” (from 1990’s Danzig II: Lucifuge)
The sweet smell of apple cider mixed with Glenn’s bleak world view always makes for a good fall evening. Although his debut album is filled with the perfect soundtrack to the prequel of winter, “Tired of Being Alive” sounds bleaker than most. Cuddle up with a loved one in front of a bonfire and follow through with that suicide pact.

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Neurosis’s “The Doorway” (from 1999’s Times Of Grace)
Times of Grace is arguably my favorite Neurosis album. “The Doorway” is why. It was the first time I actually understood what the term “sludge” actually meant. Although the song is perfect, it’s the riff in the middle that makes me thirst for this song every October. At about 3:18, the most evil sounding riff that has ever been created sneaks in to haunt you. Punishing and never letting up, it harkens some dark mental imagery. Just the kind that you’re craving around some hallowed evenings.

neurosis

Russian Circles’ “Schipol” (from 2011’s Empros)
To me this is THE Russian Circles song. It’s got all the necessary aspects that make them such a powerful force. This piece is one gigantic build up, and the pay off is very much worth the wait. For us New Englanders, fall is the last great buildup to winter. It’s generally the last time, for months, that the outdoors is habitable for most of us. This song symbolizes that in its movements. A soft, warm start leads to a punishing cold end.

empros

Windir’s “Svartesmeden Og Lundamyrstrollet” [“The Blacksmith And The Troll Of Lundamyri”] (from 1999’s Arntor)
Windir is the embodiment of black metal. A beautiful introduction leads way to soaring vocals and a wall of blast-beaten sound. A perfect and fitting accompaniment as fall’s daylight warmth gives way to winter’s bleak white walls. Terje “Valfar” Bakken’s musical vision was cut short when he was found frozen to death in 2004, but the cold spirit of Windir lives on year after year.

windir

*Order Sky Swallower here.

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

Past entries include:

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

Watch some new Imperial Triumphant footage

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, tv, videos On: Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

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At the Deciblog, we strive to find things for your listening pleasure. Occasionally, we can take it a step further like today with some excellent footage of the experimental black metal band Imperial Triumphant shot recently in their hometown of New York City (get past the slightly shaky start and things look better).

Check out the band below and then stream their new album Goliath on Bandcamp.

Connect with Imperial Triumphant on Facebook.

Sucker For Punishment: A gift from a black metal god

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

caraneir

Pardon me if I’m a little distracted this morning, I just saw Slayer last night, and say what you will about Kerry and Tom heading out with a pair of hired ringers in Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, but their all-oldies setlist warmed the cockles of this 43 year-old’s heart. No fewer than six Metal Blade-era songs, including “Captor of Sin”, which I’d waited 29 years to hear live. Three additional Reign in Blood deep cuts to go along with the requisite staples. An inexplicable but wicked cover of Exodus’s “Strike of the Beast”, for crying out loud. And five Seasons songs tossed in for the noobs. It was shameless nostalgia, bordering on a cabaret show, and when the new album arrives I’ll cross that bridge cautiously, but at a time when Kerry King needs to get back in the good graces of his longtime fans, my oh my, do he and the guys ever deliver on their current tour. Check it out if you can.

As for this week’s new releases, welcome to that time of year where the quality of new music starts to wind down. It’s a fairly busy week, the quality decent, with just a couple of must-buys. And yes, I endorse the new Stryper album, in that it’s very good at that particular form of music. However, if there’s ever a CD sticker or a print ad saying the new Stryper album is “Decibel approved”, I might have some explaining to do.

This week’s essential albums:

Cara Neir, Portals To A Better, Dead World (Broken Limbs): The Texas duo has always been great at combining black metal, punk, post-punk, and progressive metal, but their latest album molds it into a fully-realized, cohesive whole in a way they’ve never done before. Melodic, playfully atonal, ferocious, and never complacent enough to stay within one particular template, it’s high time people started regarding Cara Neir as important up-and-comers in extreme music. Stream and buy it via Bandcamp.

Gift Of Gods, Receive (Peaceville): If you’re a fan of Darkthrone’s The Underground Resistance – and if you profess to like metal, there’s no way you can possibly not like it – then you’ll love the debut solo EP by Nocturno Culto. Stylistically it’s very much the same, with loads of Celtic Frost worship, but it’s not without its quirks, like a startlingly good cover of Universe’s “Looking For an Answer”. Not only is Gift of Gods a fine companion to The Underground Resistance, but you can’t help but hope Nocturno continues to explore his own sound further with this project. This EP is far too good not to follow up.

Also out this week:

Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Spiritus Mundi (Tee Pee): The French rockers are back with another album that’s typically a diverse and often befuddling blend of psychedelic rock, space rock, garage rock, and even a little Donovan-derived folk. Highlighted by a psychotic cover of the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Roller Coaster”, it’s an unpredictable record, but one that’s never for a second dull.

Convulse, Evil Prevails (Svart): The Finnish death metal veterans reunited 18 years after splitting up, and have since recorded a third album, their first since 1994’s Reflections. Not surprisingly it’s a workmanlike example of first-wave Scandinavian death metal, plenty pulverizing but always mindful of songwriting dynamics.

Czar, No One Is Alone If No One Is Alive (Cracknation): The Chicago band’s second album is an interesting one, bridging hardcore, noise, and metal, but not in the obvious ways, instead creating a peculiar hybrid of power, dissonance, and melody. It crunches, it grooves, it lurches, all with impressive precision. Stream and buy it via Bandcamp.

Dagoba, Post Mortem Nihil Est (eOne): What sounded creative ten years ago now sounds stale and repetitive, as French band Dagoba continue to plug away with the chugging, atmospheric groove metal. It’s capably done and slickly produced, but despite some admittedly strong moments (“Yes We Die”) it’s impossible to get excited about this form of music. Which reminds me, remember the band Raunchy?

Enabler, Flies (The Compound): The best tracks on this new EP by the Milwaukee hardcore band are the surprisingly measured instrumental “Switch” and the wicked cover of Sepultura’s “Arise”. But the entire thing costs only four bucks, so why not buy the whole shebang? Get it via Bandcamp.

Falkenbach, Asa (Prophecy): It’s been a while since I last heard a Viking metal album as good as this one, the latest by the project helmed by German musician Vratyas Vakyas. Since Árstíðir Lífsins’ Vápna lækjar eldr, actually. Adorned with atmospheric, melancholy melodies that pine for the fjords like the Norwegian Blue, this is tastefully written and performed, richly arranged, and bracing to listen to.

Finnr’s Cane, A Portrait Painted By The Sun (Prophecy): It’s nice to come across Canadian metal bands that are inspired by their landscape, and Sudbury, Ontario’s Finnr’s Cane is just that. Hailing from a mining-ravaged environment that at times looks like the surface of the moon, this band’s music is suitably bleak, a forlorn blend of black metal and expansive post-metal. A welcome addition to Prophecy’s impressive roster.

Impending Doom, Death Will Reign (eOne): These Christian metalers actually have a much better grasp of deathcore than your average deathcore band, and on their fifth album their bludgeoning noise is competently accentuated by plenty of moments that involve genuine musicality.

Izegrim, Congress of the Insane (Listenable): The Dutch band continue to churn out the death-infused thrash metal in their Holy Moses-influenced way, frontwoman Marloes Voskuil following faithfully in the footsteps of Sabina Classen. “Celebratory Gunfire”  is a standout on a straightforward, satisfying record.

Lita Ford, The Bitch Is Back…Live (SPV): For a small club show recorded in her old stomping ground of Los Angeles, Lita Ford’s new live album is a somewhat tepid affair, with not much palpable energy from neither the band nor the crowd. That said, Ford is enjoying a nice little resurgence – last year’s Living Like a Runaway was a charmer – and the new material sounds solid here, as do the ‘80s staples like “Can’t Catch Me” and “Kiss Me Deadly”.

Mad Hatter’s Den, Welcome To The Den (Inverse): The Finnish band relies on keyboards a little too much, but that doesn’t take away from the songwriting, which is lovingly derived from Maiden and Priest and features a strong lead singer in Taage Laiho. Couple that with a song as wonderfully titled as “Sharks of Power”, and you’ve got a winner. This one’s a blast.

(the) Melvins, Tres Cabrones (Ipecac): The gimmick behind this latest Melvins release is that original drummer Mike Dillard has returned to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary, with Dale Crover moving to bass for this album. It’s a neat little novelty, and Buzz and the guys are clearly having a blast on the new songs as well as the hilarious covers of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and “Tie My Pecker to a Tree”, but nothing these days beats the four-piece Melvins (featuring Buzz, Crover, and the Big Business boys) and it’s now been more than three years since The Bride Screamed Murder. This stuff is a blast, no question, but bring back the four-piece lineup, guys.

Mother Susurrus, Maahaavaa (Ektro): Another avant-garde gem from Finland, this time a remarkable combination of doomy metal and acid rock. No sunlight in winter and no darkness in summer clearly compels people to make the freakydeakiest music possible.

Nekrofilth, Devil’s Breath (Hells Headbangers): Hells Headbangers have an incredible ear for quality fist-bangin’ thrash filth, and the latest by the Cleveland band – their first full-length after a series of demos and splits – is a simple, predictable blend of thrash and hardcore punk, but done with tremendous energy and humor. Harmless, riotous fun.

Otargos, Apex Terror (Listenable): Creative black metal that smartly thinks outside the box? Of course, it’s from France. It’s not quite on the level of Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, and tends to pay homage (putting it politely) to Gojira more often than not, but this latest album by Otargos is nevertheless worth investigating.

Ovo, Abisso (Supernatural Cat): The weirdo Italian duo has teamed up with Gnaw’s Alan Dubin and Carla Bozulich’s band Evangelista for yet another stupefying, impenetrable, yet surreally enthralling collection of music that ranges from relentless metallic pieces to arbitrary jamming in the name of experimentation.

Paradise Lost, Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities) (Century Media): It seems odd, and slightly cynical, to commemorate a significant anniversary with a Contractual Obligation Album but longtime fans of Paradise Lost will find this new odds-and-sods collection of mild interest, from the gothed-up covers (including Everything But the Girl’s classic “Missing”) to the two re-recorded tracks, and the new song “Loneliness Remains”. New and casual listeners might want to stick with the proper albums, though.

Rising, Abominor (Indisciplinarian): The Danish band’s blend of crust, sludge, and simple rock ‘n’ roll is energetic enough, but the monochromatic vocals by the sandpaper-throated Jacob Krogholt greatly diminish the overall impact of the otherwise very good music, feeling like an empty imitation of Lemmy and Jaz Coleman.

Stryper, No More Hell To Pay (Frontiers): It’s easy to lampoon Stryper these days, but once upon a time these guys made quality heavy metal/hard rock when they weren’t flinging bibles at audiences. 1985’s Soldiers Under Command was a first-rate record, and this new album very much follows that template, the music harder-edged, melodic, and bolstered by the singing of Robert Sweet, which is just as strong as it was 30 years ago. Even the cover of the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus is Alright With Me” kind of works. Sure, the fundie proselytizing gets cheesy, but so does Watain’s Satanic proselytizing. In both cases, the music is good enough for secular listeners to enjoy just as much as those who take the lyrics seriously. Jebus, the Debil, it’s all a gimmick. Stryper have their gimmick, and they sell it well here. Yeah, I’m just as surprised as you.

Vengeance, Piece Of Cake (SPV): If it’s always 1989 in your mind, if the first Blue Murder album is your own personal Black Sabbath, if you keep wondering why Axel Rudi Pell doesn’t put out new albums every six months instead of annually, then you’ll probably be excited about this one. For the rest of you, Leon Goewie’s vocal histrionics will have you in stitches.

Zemial, Nykta (Hells Headbangers): Active since 1989 but with only three proper full-length albums, any day the Greek band puts a new one out is clearly an event for their followers. Helmed by Archon Vorskaath, who handles all the instrumentation, Nykta is very much like the recent work by Rotting Christ, a peculiar combination of influences, rooted in black metal but far more wide-ranging, songs hinting at a filthier side but recorded cleanly, riffs hinting at savagery but quickly giving way to melody. From the Celtic Frost-style “Under Scythian Command”, to the defiantly proggy, 11-minute “In the Arms of Hades”, to the “cover” of John Cage’s “4:33”, it’s an impressive work by someone unwilling to be tied down by genre restrictions.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

The Opium Cartel, Ardor (Termo): Led by Jacob Holm-Lupo, from one of my favorite prog bands White Willow, this Norwegian Collective focuses on the lighter, more pastoral side of progressive rock, combining such ‘70s influences as Genesis and King Crimson, and from the ‘80s, The Dream Academy. Production-wise this new album totally evokes the mid-1980s, a lush, sumptuous sound that celebrates the smooth-sounding excesses of that era, wonderfully exemplified on the epic “Mariner, Come In”. While singer Alexander Stenerud does a splendid job singing on such tracks as “White Wolf” and “Northern Rains”, Norwegian pop singer Venke Knutson steals the show on such standouts as “Kissing Moon”, “Revenant”, and the absolutely beautiful, understated cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Then Came the Last Days of May”. Check out Ardor at iTunes.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy