Jari Lindholm (Enshine) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

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Enshine and AtomA share similar traits. High concept atmospheric metal. Lots of instrumental passages. A space-like art direction. In your view, how do they differ, seeing as though both bands were once upon a time part of Slumber?
Jari Lindholm: Although all the bands mentioned share the basic set of instruments and ingredients for the most part, the most obvious difference between AtomA and Enshine would be that Enshine is more guitar based and the vocals are different. AtomA is more experimental and more about finding new and unique ways of making music while Enshine is a bit more ‘traditional,’ to me personally anyway with my own musical background.

When writing music what do you typically seek?
Jari Lindholm: I seek to create the sounds and the music I would want to listen to at the moment of creating it. Sometimes I wish to listen to something that sounds a certain way, and if it doesn’t already exist, then it has to be made. Making music is also something very therapeutic, so it serves to fulfill an emotional or spiritual need.

You had put out some previews to Enshine songs before naming the project Enshine. What was the initial reaction like?
Jari Lindholm: Mostly positive, but then of course this material was mostly found by the listeners who had already been following the works of my earlier bands.

And at what point did you realize you wanted to put out a full-length?
Jari Lindholm: Pretty early, I think it just came naturally when starting to write these songs. The songs were written with some kind of album structure in mind and the order of the songs was decided early as well, before starting the recording. It was all recorded in demo versions first to arrange it as a whole and see how the songs would follow into each other and so on.

How’d Sebastien [Fractal Gates] enter the fold? Seems logical to go with a Swede.
Jari Lindholm: I heard his songs with Cold Insight on Myspace and it seemed to me we had similar sources of inspiration for our respective projects. Turned out we had some other common interests also. So, we were sending different ideas and song sketches to each other and after some time he showed me some suggestions of vocal ideas on some of the sketches I had done. Sure, it seems logical to have the band more local, but I think it is rare to find others with similar ideas around where I live. Especially at that time it seemed to me that most of the local musicians had either gone back to the ’80s glam stuff, a lot of them I guess weren’t even born then, or they wanted to play more ‘brootal’ types of metal and so on. Nothing wrong with being influenced by ’80s stuff, by the way, but I just think it’s weird when this whole retro style became such a big hype again. Nowadays, I don’t hang out at the rock and metal places so much so I don’t even know what is the current trend at all, but most of the time when I find people with a similar taste and view of music, they are from places far away.

I find Origin to be a good starting point. I can hear and see the vision. Big songs. Big production. Am I on the right track?
Jari Lindholm: I would think so, yes. I am always trying to find new ways to make it sound bigger, always trying to improve with new ways in production, as well as songwriting and arrangements of course. To find ways of adding a lot of atmosphere and texture and still getting everything across as clearly as possible. Every part of each song has some kind of added texture component. Sometimes they may be very subtle but they are always there for the sonic experience.

Favorite track at the moment?
Jari Lindholm: From the album, at the moment maybe “Ambivalence.”

There’s lots of instrumentals on the record. Was that on purpose?
Jari Lindholm: Yes, the two more ambient instrumentals serve the purpose of dividing the album into different sections, it starts off with some more melodic tracks and “Astrarium” is a sort of bridge into the heavier tracks like “Nightwave” and “Ambivalence.” Even if “Refraction” was placed in the early part of the album just to spread out the heavier, more rhythm-based songs a little bit and not lump all of them together. “Immersed” is another bridge back into a more melodic section while “Constellation” is a bridge to the silence that comes after the album is over.

I like how you added ambient pulses to “Immersed.” It’s a bit different from the rest of the songs. Where’d that song come from?
Jari Lindholm: It is a little different and, in fact, the oldest song on the album, written as far back as 2005! I was at the time experimenting with some new synth sounds and drum samples and a lot of times a piece of music comes as the result of this kind of sonic experimentation. That is one of the reasons I am always messing around with new sounds, new equipment, etc. What you hear on the album is not the original recording, however, but was adapted to fit the sounds of the other songs.

You ended up on an obscure indie, Rain Without End Records. Did they seek you out or the other way around?
Jari Lindholm: We were connected through a mutual friend, or well, he was working with helping the label at the time. So he made the suggestion both to us and James at Rain Without End.

I hear you’re already working on the next full-length. With Sebastien serving a more important role. What can we expect from the next Enshine?
Jari Lindholm: Personally, I aim to find a slightly more organic sound for the next album, it will still have the same basic style however. Both me and Seb are into doom/death with a touch of rock, which is already a part of our sound, but I think we will try to incorporate more of that in the future, as long as it can be done with style, and I think it can! There is still a lot to be done before it is possible to describe the overall sound of the next album though.

** Visit and LIKE Enshine on Facebook.

** Enshine’s new album, Origin, is out now on Rain Without End Records. It’s available HERE. Or, you can get the new Disemboweled Cunt album. But one is clearly superlative to the other.

Road Rituals: Blood Ceremony Tour Diary, Part 3

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: diary, featured, tours On: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

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Ramblin’ gamblin’ men.

***As chronicled by Alia O’Brien, singer/flutist/organist for Canada’s finest occult rockers, from their current tour with Kylesa, White Hills, and Lazer/Wulf. Remaining tour dates listed below; preorder their phenomenal new LP, The Eldritch Dark, here

Although our highway blowout incident threatened the Albuquerque show, we made the gig and then set course for Denver, Colorado, home of some of the greatest craft beers in the United States. We played at the Marquee Theater a year and a half ago supporting Ghost, and it was a great feeling to return to a familiar venue–we already knew the lay of the land. Last time around the sound guy was wasted and got fired for throwing a pint glass at the bartender, so we were happy to see that his replacement was less volatile.

A day off fell between great shows in Salt Lake City and Santa Cruz and so we opted to stay in Reno for a night of gaudy excess. Fueled by an Indian meal and “espresscatinis” prepared by White Hills’ bassist and drink wizard Ego Sensation, BC and WH combined forces to take The Biggest Little City by storm. We managed not to fritter away too much merch money at the slots, and instead flocked to the dance floor at the hotel’s club. We were even comped a bottle of vodka! At first we were suspicious of the gesture, having had a misunderstanding about the price of pink lemonade at a club in Hamburg on our last European tour, but there was no catch–it was simply a slow Thursday night. While we were a bit haggard the next morning, we dusted off the cobwebs and had a quick swim before heading off to California.

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Dave W. of White Hills tearing up the dance floor with a mysterious stranger.

 

Our show at Slim’s in San Francisco was memorable not only because of the amazing crowd, but also thanks to the venue’s chef, Jose, a metal maniac who cooked us one of the best meals we’ve had on the road to date. We ended up with a bit of extra time the day after our show in San Fran, and so we grabbed a leisurely breakfast with White Hills and then sauntered down to Amoeba Records, where we met up with musical madman Scott Carlson (the Grindmaster General!) and his partner Erin, as well as old pal Carson Binks from Saviours. We spent a bit more than we should have. So it goes!

 

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Amoeba warlords! Left to right: Sean, Mike, Carson, Scott, Erin, Alia and Lucas.

 

More friends awaited in Portland, where we got a lot of love from the crowd at Star Theater. Nate and Rob from Witch Mountain put us up in their gorgeous bungalow, complete with crackling fire and heavy chunes on the stereo. Nate gave us a tour of Portland in the morning, which included Da-Pressed Coffee, Movie Madness, delicious (vegan!) breakfast, and some further record shopping–as if our vinyl binge in San Francisco wasn’t enough!

 

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The caffeine alleviated his da-pression.

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Blood Ceremony meets Whiskey the cat at Casa Witch Mountain.

 

The next string of shows wove through Canada, and we were happy to have regular access to our data plans and the almighty BBS (Bad Breath Special) from Tim Horton’s: an everything bagel with herb & garlic cream cheese. Our first Canadian date was in Vancouver, where the massive green room area boasted two ping pong tables but no paddles to be found, which lead to much frustration! We had a taste of the good life when my mom–who happened to be in town on business–took the band out for an Italian meal. It was also nice to reunite with some of our West Coast band buddies, including Shane from 3 Inches of Blood and Matt from Funeral Circle. Our night off between Vancouver and Calgary was spent nestled in the misty mountaintops of Revelstoke, BC, where Sean’s old roommate Alex hosted us and even built a massive bonfire!

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Celebrating our return to Canada with Matt from Funeral Circle!

 

We were happy to hit Calgary once again after playing a raucous show at the Noctis Festival last fall where we had a face-melting weekend with Venom, Nunslaughter, Manilla Road and other heavy pals! More faces were melted this time around, including ours, thanks to crushing sets from our tour mates, mixed drinks courtesy of Ego Sensation, and an off-the-wall Cowtown audience. To close this chapter of Road Rituals, I leave you with a picture taken at Noctis last fall of BC hanging with members of the almighty Venom!

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Noctis metal meltdown.

 

BLOOD CEREMONY
w/ Kylesa, White Hills, Lazer/Wulf
06/11 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
06/12 Ottawa, ON Maverick’s
06/13 Montreal, QC Il Motore
06/14 Brooklyn NY Northside Fest (Music Hall of Williamsburg)
06/15 Albany, NY Bogie’s
06/16 Boston, MA Middle East Downstairs
06/18 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
06/19 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel
06/20 Asheville, NC Asheville Music Hall
06/21 Atlanta, GA The Earl
06/22 Savannah, GA The Jinx

The Grindcore Riches of P.O.O.R.

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, lists On: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

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Last September the frenetic Ventura, California quartet P.O.O.R. — i.e., Point of Our Resistance — released Extinction of Trust, which just so happens to be one of the great grindcore records of the last several years. Yet despite featuring members/ex-members of Fatalist, Dirty Dead, Decrypt, Stump, and Burning at the Stake, and a slew of gigs opening for such luminaries as Nasum, Rotten Sound, Exhumed, Phobia, and Fuck the Facts, this diverse, churning, creative slab of blast n’ roar still has not quite received its proper respect.

Ahead of the band’s gig this Saturday at Las Vegas Death Fest V, Decibel asked P.O.O.R. guitarist/vocalist Neil Burkdoll to give us the lowdown on six standout tracks from Extinction of Trust. (Matt Harvey from Exhumed makes a couple cameos.) If you like what you hear, the entire album is available via the P.O.O.R. Bandcamp for five well spent bucks.

1. “American Idolatry”

First song on our album, mostly due to the fact that I did the guitar feedback in the intro and it sounded like a good opener to the album. I wrote the music to this one with [drummer] Brad [Vanderzee] doing the lyrics. It has more of a Death Metal vibe to it than some of our other songs, but we are fine with being death/grind and not just straight grindcore. The last half of the song was very inspired by Utopia Banished-era Napalm Death, but I’m not sure anyone would even notice besides me. It was just a certain vibe I was shooting for and I’m still not sure if I ever captured it.

2. “Corpse Corruptor”

This is probably my favorite song because the beginning riff makes me want to kill things in the way that Out of Step by Minor Threat makes me want to kill things. The first two riffs were actually stolen from a song I wrote in 1996 for my old band Morthona. It was from the song “Epic” and it was on our Where All Dividing Lines Become A Blur demo tape. I had those two riffs and the rest was written on the spot as Brad and I were jamming. This is a song that we have played at every show we have ever performed.

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STREAMING: STONE TITAN PREMIERE TITLE TRACK FROM “SCRATCH N’ SNIFF”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, June 10th, 2013

SCRATCH N SNIFF

Courtesy of the good people at Safety Meeting Records, here is some fresh sludge in the form of the title track of Stone Titan‘s forthcoming debut LP, Scratch N’ Sniff.

Okay, so those of you who are familiar with the underground scene in South Windsor, Connecticut, may well know all about the trio’s trippy sludge. But, for the rest of us who are not quite as clued up on The Nutmeg State’s repertory of dive-bar metal, Stone Titan’s sound is all about low-end and off-kilter guitars fighting it out in the mix with the bass, psych-grooves, and the sort of localized nihilism and anxiety associated with the morning after the beer and the drugs.

Stone Titan are a mess, fucked up in all the right places, and “Scratch N’ Sniff” is one fat pile of gelatinous groove, hollered spite, squawking feedback, with a nasty like HxCx feel-change halfway in. But while it’s a great track, it’s probably not even close to being the best jam on the album (for our dollar, that’s got to be the E.H.G. grade misery ‘n’ riffs of “I Wish I Was Fucking Dead”, or the morbid waddle of “A Brief History of Overweight Men”).

Scratch N’ Sniff is out June 25th. Here is the title-track:

**Stone Titan on Facebook
**Stone Titan on Bandcamp
**Incidentally, Safety Meeting’s Unholy Grave/David Carradine six-inch split is available to order, too, which y’know, might be worth ordering.

STREAMING: Scale the Summit’s “The Migration”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, June 10th, 2013

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Scale the Summit are pretty much the epitome of the hoary old cliché “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” After all, who would’ve thought that playing instrumental prog rock in the 21st century would be a remotely sane move, much less a valid career path? it seems to be working pretty well for them  – although it helps that, unlike a lot of their fellow Musicians Institute alumni, they can actually write songs in addition to their obvious technical mastery. They’ve been pretty prolific to date with said songs, knocking out four full-length records in space of a six-year existence. The Migration is the latest of those, and while it doesn’t offer any real surprises, it also doesn’t screw up the amazing, intricate style they’ve made their own. No guest vocalists, no dubstep drops, no djent. Just emotionally-charged beauty in the vein of Joe Satriani and Dream Theater (in their streamlined mode), expertly coproduced by Between the Buried and Me’s Jamie King. But don’t take my word for it – listen to the full album  stream below.

***The Migration comes out on June 11 courtesy of Prosthetic. Preorder it on physical media here, on iTunes here, or from Bandcamp here

Tour Dates:

6/5      Seattle, WA – Highline*
6/6      Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater*
6/7      Calgary, AB – Calgary Metalfest*
6/8      Edmonton, AB – Pawn Shop*
6/10    Winnipeg, MB – Osborne Village Inn*
6/11    St. Paul, MN – Station 4*
6/12    Chicago, IL – Double Door*
6/13    Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class*
6/14    Rochester, NY – Bug Jar*
6/15    Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus*
6/16    Syracuse, NY – The Lost Horizon*
6/17    Montreal, QC – Il Motore*
6/18    Toronto, ON – Wreck Room*
6/19    West Chester, PA – The Note*
6/20    Boston, MA – Great Scott*
6/21    Baltimore, MD – Metro*
6/22    Charlotte, NC – Tremont Music Hall*
6/23    Nashville, TN – The End*
6/24    Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn*
6/25    Orlando, FL – The Social*
6/26    Tampa, FL – The Orpheum*
6/27    Metairie, LA – Cypress*
6/28    Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s*
6/29    Austin, TX – Red 7*
6/30    Dallas, TX – Club Dada*
7/01    Lubbock, TX – Jake’s Sports Cafe**
7/02    Santa Fe, NM – Warehouse 21**
7/03    Denver, CO – Marquis Theater**
7/05    San Francisco, CA – Slim’s**
7/06    Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy**
7/07    San Diego, CA – Soda Bar (w/ Castle)
7/08    Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
8/03    Camden, NJ – Yestival @ Susquehanna Bank Center (w/ Yes)
# with Intronaut
* with Intronaut & Mouth of the Architect
** with Intronaut & Castle

Watain “The Wild Hunt” Track By Track Preview

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Monday, June 10th, 2013

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** The “Wild Hunt” listening party was held at Duff’s in Brooklyn, New York on June 8th. Century Media hosted, with Erik Danielsson acting as infernal master of ceremonies. The track-by-track review was written on first listen at Duff’s.

Track 1: “Night Vision”
Big slow intro build. Heavy metalesque segue, twin harmonic leads cutting the dirty distortion. Tympani drums signal the oncoming assault. Raw mix, up front, clear ’80s production. Lots of space, buried guitar solos. Chaotic.

Track 2: “De Profundis”
More direct, tremolo Swede vibe. Vocals feel like venom on skin. Could be a Sodom song—tight and riff simple—if it was done by a more musically adept Sarcofago. Then it goes into a Dissectionesque march, but still very much Watain. Triumphant mid-section. Very soundtrack-like.

Track 3. “Black Flames March”
The trademark Swedish tremolo riff returns. Windswept in feel but also evil and grimy. The mid-section breaks open, spacey and focused on a drum/vocal call and response. Nice solo transition into a rocking movement that could’ve been on Tormentor’s Anno Domini record.

Track 4. “All That May Bleed”
Reading the lyrics to this song as it plays gives it a new dimension. It rolls along, powerful and purposeful. Erik’s rolling the “r”, too. There’s a violent mid-section; feels like something out of South America but sounds like no one. The tight thrash riff that explodes out of the brief solo is Germanic. The amount of production “things” is also of note. Whether it’s the bubbling bass or background noises, there’s more here than a “song.” “All That May Bleed” is the 7-inch single.

Track 5: “The Child Must Die”
Very much in line with the black/death of Unanimated. Erik’s vocals clear and commanding, a sense of climatic danger. The drum production is of notice. Huge and impactful. The coruscating melodic guitar could be on a Mörk Gryning record, like Maelstrom Chaos. The rocking end, with the bass and guitar lines guiding the song to its inevitable resolution.

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Track 6: “They Rode On”
Introspective. Singing! Very singer/songwriter. Pensive. Will surprise. Feels a bit like a Root song from The Book, without the Bohemian vibe. Or maybe something like Bay Laurel would do on Days of Joy. Very Swedish in mood. Great end of Side A track. Guitar work is fantastic. Feels like Erik’s invoked Quorthon. But this is very much individual. It’s a genuine song construction. The solo is fucking brilliant. Slow and melodic, lengthy it takes over before Erik’s vocals return.

Track 7: “Sleepless Evil”
Brutal. Some kind of nasty, barely unbridled version of German/South American death. The alternating tremolo guitar the only indication this song of Swedish origin. Horror movie piano break. Dynamic. Big production. Drums sound massive. Guitars churn. Thrashy break into a more black metal assault. Solos clash, break. Direct and uncompromising. Consider this a response to track 5.

Track 8: “Wild Hunt”
This is the single. To me. Ritualistic. Choir vocals. Sort of what Bathory did on Blood Fire Death. Dark, slow and melodic. There’s menace present but it’s an ancient menace. Something finally awake after a long slumber. Solo is great. Depressive yet engaging. Funeral march-like. Again, feels like Bathory on Hammerheart. Erik’s singing. A bit of a Pink Floyd feel. Outro is great. Big and reflective. Strange flamenco finale.

Track 9: “Outlaw”
Pulling in ancient voodoo/religious vibe. Unleashes hell. Fast, spitting black. Cool thrash solo, weird prog movement. Solo’s chaotic, wild, recalling the late ’80s. Oh, there’s a Maybe Voivod if they worshiped the devil and dined on the dead. Not evil just noisy and different. Voodoo vibe comes back. Maybe inspired by the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom soundtrack. Ends suddenly.

Track 10: “Ignem Veni Mittere”
Instrumental. A break. Shows Watain’s melodic side. An evil bit closes it out. They’re developing at a frightening pace. While one one hand, they’re brutal and uncompromising, on the other they’re nostalgic, reflective, and musical. The marriage of the two styles will surely bring more interesting things in the future.

Track 11: “Holocaust Dawn”
Brutal yet experimental. Choirs. Waltz part with tremolo guitars. Arabic section, with talking and atonal strings. Fast blasts dominate. This is Watain in 7-minute frame. This the past, the present, and future of Watain. Certainly, it’ll divide the purists, but the purists see only out of one eye. Sadly.

** Watain’s The Wild Hunt is out August 20th in North America.

Tales From the Metalnomicon: John Edward Lawson

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, June 7th, 2013

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Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a twice-monthly column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…

Reading the work of Raw Dog Screaming Press founding editor/bizarro author extraordinaire John Lawson might be best described as taking a very scenic shortcut into an Altered States-esque surrealist landscape without having to invest in a sensory deprivation tank. Metalnomicon, naturally, is more than a little pleased to have the heavy metal loving boundary pusher here today to give us a peek at the soundtrack to his escape…

The path I took to becoming an author was somewhat crooked. I started out as a child excelling in visual art, and learned to use music to block out the world and concentrate on my craft. Later, as a teenager entering adulthood, I shifted focus to making music and even became a certified audio engineer at Omega Studios. Between sessions in the studio I indulged my side passion, writing, and received much more notice for it than I ever did in music. Over a dozen years later I’m a full time author and member of the editorial staff at Raw Dog Screaming Press, where I’m lucky enough to work with such author musicians as S. Craig Zahler of Charnel Valley and Realmbuilder, Donna Lynch and Steve Archer of Ego Likeness, Michael Arnzen and Jason Jack Miller who collaborated on the Audiovile project, and Eckhard Gerdes of Scuff Mudd.

As you can see there’s an enclave of creators who are successfully working with both sound and the written word.

The moment where it all clicked for me was 1990 during a trip to England, where I heard Napalm Death after years of struggling to find music that spoke to me. Ever since then I’ve listened to brutal music while working. In general it’s stuff like Six Feet Under’s Undead album — listening as I write this! — or Killed the Fixtion. Especially their song “Pulse.” But I like to mix the old with the new, and include such as Sepultura’s Arise, …And Justice For All, Earth AD by the Misfits. They’re still in regular rotation as I put words on the page.

My next book being released is an artbook called Verminomicon, A Field Guide to the Vermin of Yuggoth: Abominations of a Haunted World. You’d think for a project like Verminomicon I wouldn’t need any more inspiration beyond the incredible — and horrific — sculptures created by artist Tony Debartolis for the book. However, I mixed lethal doses of death metal and dark drum ‘n bass to keep me charging through crafting all the Lovecraftian-style purple prose. The playlist included Mantis, Substep Infrabass, The Relic, Hypocrisy, Arch Enemy, and Carcass. I anticipated needing something more atmospheric and moody, but creative forces can be counterintuitive.

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Redefine “Death Metal Percussion” with Goatcraft’s All For Naught

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, June 7th, 2013

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How many extreme-minded riff lovers do you think headed to the Deciblog today for a treatise on classical piano composition?  Not the standard purview of a magazine proclaiming the virtues of black-thrashing terror, I’ll grant you, but this spring Forbidden Records has brought us an album that, by all outward signs, should be a lo-fi Satanic hymnal but turns out to be 45 minutes of haunting, apocalyptic dirges for piano (and very occasional ambient flourishes).  The project is called Goatcraft, a disturbing moniker – does it refer to the craft of building goats from other raw materials, or creating new exciting forms out of goats? – which would have trouble getting any more workmanlike in its appreciation of the dark arts.  The album is called All For Naught – again, none more nihilistic.  The cover art lays Old English font text over a black and white sketch of a lone goat atop craggy nighttime peaks.  The promotional materials call the genre “necroclassical”.  There are songs with titles like “Call Me Judas”, “Infinite Death”, and “Vestibule to the Abyss” (and, er, “Goats Will Riot”).  The pianist making all the ebony (and ivory) racket is called Lonegoat.  Lonegoat is from Texas.  Okay, that last bit doesn’t quite spell frosty darkness, but Absu hails from the Lone Star abyss and you accept that just fine.

Cover Art

Enough trying to convince you that Goatcraft belong here.  All For Naught is simply engaging music, layered with cascading (not Cascadian) melodies, persistent rhythm structures and dark tones.  What initially sounds like the overenthusiastic pounding of a keyboardist who just hasn’t gotten around to learning the guitar yet opens up over the course of its dozen tracks to reveal an accomplished musician with a taste for majestic horror.  I have a few piano-playing acquaintances with no interest in extreme metal who reluctantly gave All For Naught a shot, and they were very complimentary of what they heard.  “I listened to that CD last night,” one such doubter told me in a low voice, all dry and grudging skepticism.  “It was actually really good.”

The album is streaming at Bandcamp, and you can hear it right here from the Deciblog.  We’d love to hear what other web-connected metal maniacs think of this music.  Enjoy your very non-metal day!

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Get a Van for Getting in the Van: An Interview with Greenvans Owner Andrew Reitz

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews, uncategorized, videos On: Thursday, June 6th, 2013

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I don’t exactly remember how I stumbled across Greenvans, but if Andrew Reitz had been offering the use of 15-passenger vans at affordable rates exclusively to touring bands, it would have made my touring life a fuck of a lot easier. I would have avoided doing month long tours in minivans out of necessity, for one thing. It’s about time there was a service that won’t nickel and dime you on milage or tear you a new one via claims of mandatory daily insurance, like most conventional vehicle renters, and actually understands a touring band’s needs, unlike most conventional vehicle renters. If you’re in a band and don’t already own your own touring chariot, here’s an introductory interview with your new best friend.

How did you get started in the van rental business? What were your humble beginnings like and how are things different today?
To be honest, Greenvans started out accidentally. In 2007, I bought a van and trailer for my band’s first full US tour (this was the band that eventually became Defeater). We toured for two months, it was a mild success, and then like every band that buys a van thinking they are going to tour all the time, I was left with a van sitting unused in my driveway. I thought about renting it out to bands, but I wasn’t comfortable letting strangers drive my baby. A few months later some friends in a band called I Rise were in a bind, they desperately needed a van, and I desperately needed some extra cash. I rented them my van for two weeks, and that was the beginning of Greenvans. My friend Anthony and I got together and started brainstorming about the possibility of starting a business around what was such an obvious need in a market that we both understood. We both had toured, so we knew first hand that finding affordable transportation as young band was next to impossible. We wanted to offer a service that so many bands needed but didn’t have access to because so few companies understood or cared about the needs of a touring band. From there it was a slow, uphill battle as we grew from one van, to two, to three, etc. We made a ton of mistakes early on, but learned important lessons that shaped the way our business works today. I wouldn’t say that it’s EASY now, but we have certainly gotten better at what we do. The only thing that’s different now is that we’re not fighting an uphill battle every day, only a few days a week.

Do you “get in the van” (c’mon, you knew it was coming!) much yourself anymore?
Haha, yeah. I get in the van whenever I have to. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to go on tour anymore, but whenever a van needs to get delivered to a customer and there’s nobody else around to do it, I have no reservations about putting on some music and cranking out a cannonball overnight drive. Anthony and I have made A LOT of trips across the country in the last 6 years for Greenvans. Some fun, some not so fun, but those trips always leave us with good stories.

Is there a story behind how you ended up with the name Greenvans?
We started out renting biodiesel and veggie oil vans, so we were primarily a “green” company. The first van that I bought was a diesel van I had converted to run on Waste Vegetable Oil. The original idea for the business came from renting WVO vans to bands so they could save money on fuel and take part in an eco-conscious initiative. Since then we’ve had to grow our fleet beyond just diesel vans and incorporate gas vans because of the demand. A lot of bands do prefer the basic gas option and we can charge a much lower rental rate for them.

What sort of client range do you have? By that, I mean who are some of the bigger names that have used Greenvans?
We work with everybody from small local bands doing weekend runs to full time touring bands. Every Time I Die, Terror, Parkway Drive, The Joy Formidable, H20, Unearth, Shadows Fall, The Chariot are some of the bigger bands that have rented vans from us. Oh….and Snoop Dogg. Not even kidding.

What does a band that isn’t based in proximity to your Massachusetts homebase have to do if they’d like to rent from you? I noticed you have a new location on the west coast. Any plan to get into the Midwest so as to cover as much of the country as possible?
We do whatever we can to make rentals work for bands who aren’t close to Boston. We’ll deliver a van anywhere….obviously the further you get from us the more expensive it gets, but we try to keep our delivery rates as low as possible. As long as we get fuel, tolls, transportation for the driver, and the driver’s pay covered, we’ll get a van to you. We just opened up a west coast office in Huntington Beach, CA this year thanks to our friend Chris at No Sleep Records. He’s been kind enough to let us share some of his office and parking lot space, though I’m sure he’s regretting it now that we’re actually using it. Chicago is on our radar for our next location, but we’re still a year or two away from making that happen.

What happens in cases where bands from other countries rent your vans? Do you have a staff of drivers on hand to drive bands who need help behind the wheel?
We don’t have a “staff” of drivers on hand, but we’re fortunate enough to be in a circle of friends that have a lot of tour experience. We have SO many friends that spend their lives on the road in bands, as TMs, merch dudes, drivers, whatever, and they are always eager to find other touring opportunities. I don’t have a hard time finding drivers for international bands. We don’t require all international bands to hire drivers, but it usually ends up being the easiest option. Sorting insurance can be a little difficult and expensive, but we know how to get it done if we have to.

What sort of maintenance do you have to perform on the vans in your fleet? Is there a certain scheduled point you take a van out of commission? What happens to the vans you no longer rent out?
Maintenance and safety are our most important concerns. We’re VERY serious about keeping our vans in excellent mechanical condition because bands have a high expectation for safety and reliability. Our shop spends most of its time (and our money!) on tires, brakes, oil and fluid changes, front end work, etc. All normal wear and tear items, but we also do more serious engine and transmission work from time to time to keep our vans lasting as long as possible. We usually run them to 150,000 or 200,000 miles before we take them off the road, at which point we either sell them at auction or to local dealers. Obviously things happen on the road, but one of those things that we’ve learned to deal with over the years, and have gotten quite good at, is going above and beyond to make sure bands don’t miss shows when something goes wrong. We’ve been in business for just over 6 years, probably logged well over 2 million miles on all of our vans total in that time, and I think only 5 shows have been missed because of mechanical problem. If a van breaks down and I have to put a band in a limo because it’s the only vehicle I can find to get them to their show, I’m going to do that. (and, yeah, I have.)

Obviously, Greenvans is different from the major name rental companies. But what makes Greenvans different from other indie companies?
There aren’t a lot of other independent companies that do what we do….honestly because it’s difficult, it’s expensive and it’s risky, but regardless, we LOVE what we do. I think I’m constantly toeing the line between being a small business owner trying to make a living, and a dude that used to be in a struggling band that wants to help other dudes in struggling bands. I couldn’t tell you specifically what makes us different from other rental companies in the music business, but compared to some of the standard rental companies out there I like to think that our customer service and the relationships we build with bands is what sets us apart. I enjoy interacting with bands, and I take great personal satisfaction when a tour goes well, and when something goes wrong that I can’t fix in a way that the band is happy with, I’m pretty disappointed, and that’s what drives me to be better at my job. My outlook on band life and touring is that successful bands put together good teams: They have managers, labels, booking agents, merch companies, etc that handle a lot of the hard work that goes into growing a band. I see Greenvans as part of that team for most of our customers, and it’s an important element that a lot of bands overlook. We’re really good at dealing with tour transportation, so it’s fun for us to be a part of a group of talented individuals working hard for something they believe in.

What vans/trailers do you have available in your rental fleet? I notice you have diesel and waste vegetable oil rentals available in addition to standard gasoline vans? How popular are you finding these alternatives to be?
All of our vans are Ford E350 15-passenger vans. We have a few trailers, 5×8, 6×10, and 6×12 sizes. The majority of our vans now are regular gasoline vans because Ford stopped making vans with diesel motors, so we started buying newer (2011, 2012) model year gas vans while we wait for Ford to reintroduce the diesel motor in it’s new models. We do still have a few diesel/biodiesel/waste vegetable oil vans that we rent out as well. These are good alternatives for bands that want to stick with an environmental initiative as well as save money on fuel on long trips. It’s not an option for everybody, most bands just want your basic, most familiar Ford 15-passenger gas van and above all else they want to spend as little as possible.

deciblog - greenavns

I also noticed you have a sponsorship option at reduced rates. Please describe what’s going on there?
The sponsorship program was a way for us to get creative in figuring out how to reduce our rental rates while still covering our operating costs. We partner up with various music industry related companies and wrap some of our vans with their ads. The companies get great exposure on the road and at shows, use the vans for their own events throughout the year, and in exchange bands can rent these vans for lower rates than the standard unwrapped vans. GHS Strings, Jensen Loudspeakers, Amplified Parts, Clayton Custom Pics are a couple of the companies we work with to keep our rental rates low for bands.

Without naming names (unless you’d like to), describe the worst condition one of your vans has ever been brought back in? Describe the biggest rental nightmare you’ve had to deal with? What happens in cases like these?
One of the biggest rental nightmares I’ve ever dealt with was a band that decided to leave a van at the Milwaukee airport without telling me….even though it was supposed to be returned to New York about 4 days earlier. I had one of our guys on his way down to meet the band and pickup the van. The band’s manager called about an hour before the meeting time and said they were stuck in a blizzard in Canada. Ok. That’s fine. Maybe it would have been cool if you called to tell us this earlier, but it is what it is. My dude headed home, I lined up another friend in New York to pick up later. So a day goes by, haven’t heard from them. I call the band, I call their manager, no answers. Two days later I got their manager’s assistant on the phone and he’s like “oh, are you calling to schedule the pickup in Milwaukee?” Um, no dude, I’m calling to find out where my van is cause it’s 2 days late and you’re supposed to be in New York, not Milwaukee. The assistant is just like “oh, yeah, the tour ends in Milwaukee, so that’s where the band is flying out of and that’s where we need the van picked up.” I have a momentary panic attack thinking I royally screwed this one up, so I go back through my email, I look at the routing they gave me, I check, check and double check all the rental dates that were confirmed, look at the contract, the invoice. Nope. I’m right, a one-way rental to Milwaukee was never discussed. These dudes basically stole my van for 4 days and just thought it would teleport itself back to Boston. I have to get somebody to fly to Milwaukee on a day notice and drive almost halfway across the country. When I sent the manager an invoice for the $1500 or so that it cost to retrieve, he emailed me all bent about how high the price for the pickup was and if there was anything I could do to give him a better deal. Needless to say I billed his card and wrote him a very friendly email explaining that he was an idiot.

What sort of goals do you have for the future of Greenvans?
We want to get better at what we do every day. Our biggest goal is to continue to grow our fleet and our brand name, but it’s most important for us to do that without sacrificing the level of customer service and attention to our customers that I think defines Greenvans. As long as we keep making progress and growing our company without losing sight of our original motivations, then we’re headed in the right direction.

Check out the Greenvans website here

A Haphazard Chronicle of Cobalt’s First (And Last?) Tour: Part II

By: dB_admin Posted in: featured, tours On: Thursday, June 6th, 2013

day1-stage2

day3

by Kim Kelly

Richmond
We’ve got a super-short drive today, so we wasted as much time as possible before hopping back in the van and firing up The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Josh brought along a bunch of brainless DVDs, so between those and Michael’s unwavering dedication to picking on Josh, it went quickly. Richmond is a great city and tons of awesome people call it home, so we were all really looking forward to the show, especially since hometown hessians Battlemaster were due to play. We killed off some time with gargantuan milkshakes and a badly needed Kroger run (we were all on the brink of scurvy), then sluggishly hauled everything through Strange Matter’s heavily-stickered doors and into a towering inferno. Summer in Richmond is no joke, and the lack of air conditioning dragged morale down a few notches (though we were very grateful for the healthy food they kindly stuffed down our grease-slicked gullets).

Lord Mantis hadn’t been able to squeeze onto the bill, so they were watching hockey somewhere near Philly while Cobalt carried on their Virginia campaign. A new local black metal band called Crater opened and Asheville’s Shadow of the Destroyer pummeled punters with a blast of cold, abrasive black metal before Battlemaster took the stage. Andy Horn is one of metal’s best frontmen, and his band’s bizarre world mix of sci-fi, fantasy and epic nerdery, coupled with blistering black/thrash, is always a joy to witness. The crowd ate it up, but thinned out as it got later and later. Technical difficulties plagued the somber acoustic interlude “Throat” and threw things off course for a few minutes, but the band quickly recovered, and the remainder of the performance went off without a hitch. We crashed at Tim from Forcefield Records’ place, ensconced in a circle of oscillating fans.

philly

Philadelphia
Phil ended up in the backseat with Michael and I today, and felt comfortable enough by now to open up about his job and his life with the Army. He’s a very private person, so details are unnecessary, but suffice it to say, he’s seen some insanely brutal shit and been through unfathomably intense experiences, especially during his time as an Army scout in Iraq. Phil’s a genuinely nice, respectful, trustworthy guy, and fixating upon his military career does him a disservice; his reluctance to talk about those things in interviews or to fans makes sense. He did mention, grinning, that he likes to blast Angelcorpse and Krisiun at his soldiers during training to keep them rattled, but beyond that, seems to keep his metal and military lives very much separated.

Now that he’s back stateside, he works as a drill sergeant. He wakes up at 3 a.m. every day, spends every waking hour making life miserable for new recruits, breaking them down and building them back up, turning snot-nosed high school kids into war machines. He’s done with work at 10:30 p.m., goes home to spend time with his family, then gets up and does it all over again. It’s a small miracle that he was able to take time off to do this tour; he put in the request three months prior, and is headed back to Georgia to get ready for work Monday morning. Half-joking, I asked him when he has time to sleep. “I, uh… don’t.” He was serious. As he said, his entire life is “family, music, Army.” There’s not much room for anything else, and that he’s carved out this week’s worth of time speaks volumes about the depth of his commitment to Cobalt. He keeps saying how humbled and appreciative he is that people care enough about their music to come and watch them play, but that he isn’t really enjoying the act of touring. You can tell that all he really wants is to be home with his wife and his Vlad Tepes records, but instead he’s here. One hopes that their fans can appreciate that kind of sacrifice, if nothing else.

He changed the subject soon enough, anyway, and just like that, we were back to chattering about farts and black metal. Baltimore traffic slows us down, then DC traffic does a real number on us, so we rolled up later than expected… to absolutely no consequence. The other bands were still loading in as we arrived, and the show itself didn’t end up starting ’til late, since “punk time” is alive and well in West Philadelphia. The Millcreek Tavern was an odd choice for this show, but we got to see the best new band in Philly, Hivelords, smear a gnarly blend of whacked-out doom and filthy black metal all over the joint, and a decent number of diehards stayed out to rage ‘til nearly 2 a.m. The band has really gelled by now, and seem totally comfortable onstage; it’s a shame I’ve got to leave them tomorrow, because those NYC dates will undoubtedly be the best yet.

Judging from what Phil’s said, this will be Cobalt’s first and last tour, so if you missed them this past week, you missed them forever. Cut ‘em loose, and watch ‘em fly.