Italy’s most cult: Dark Quarterer show how it’s done in 80s rehearsal footage

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen, videos On: Monday, April 15th, 2013

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The following home-shot recordings of cult Italian metal champs Dark Quarterer should serve as a how-to for any bands, young or old, who want to marry metal’s appetite for epic derring-do and mysticism with a resolutely blue collar work ethic and run with it. You see, epic metal just doesn’t magic itself epic after a couple of crude allusions to Greek mythology and Tolkien, with a saucing of battle lore to season the lyrical stew; no, it’s forged through hard labor, big ideas stretched out from its creators’ vision and passion. Epic metal requires practice, and lots of it; if that means getting a sweat on in the garage, shirts off and amps on full, then so be it. This is a results-driven business. Dark Quarterer might always remain triumphantly obscure, sinfully slept on, but looking back, it seems they always got results.

Dark Quarterer were formed in 1978, but their story stretches back to ’72, when bassist/vocalist Gianni Nepi and guitarist Fulberto Serena first started jamming together. Under the name Omega R, they started out playing covers, until 1978, when they changed their name to Dark Quarterer and started working towards obscure anthems such as “Red Hot Gloves”, which sounds like a Faustian Rainbow, and the warped N.W.O.B.H.M. of “Colossus of Argil”. The latter plays out like a lesson in reverb application and recherché song structure, serving as an indicator of the progressive quality that would color Dark Quarterer’s later works.

Dark Quarterer’s radness might be impossible to quantify but it’s imminently identifiable from this footage. Even though the audio is all over the place (the production on the band’s self-titled 1987 debut was similarly raw), the passion translates. But allied to that passion (a prerequisite, you’d think, but not always . . .) is Nepi’s weird vocal phrasing, eccentric enough to distinguish himself from any of his metal peers, coming across like the chimera of some psychedelic Ronnie James Dio. Perhaps the Italian into English translation adds another layer of mystique; but Dark Quarterer’s whole vibe feels like it’s been inspired by Umberto Eco’s most arcane moments. They’ve proved that you can be progressive and epic and yet eschew any need for Hallowe’en swords and neoclassical shred guitar; that you can sound evil and supernatural without overdoing the theatrics; that there is truth in the metal rule that states that bands with an eponymous debut with an eponymous song-title always, always rule.

Dark Quarterer “Red Hot Gloves” rehearsal, 1984

Dark Quarterer “Gates of Hell” rehearsal, 1985

**No need to summon Cthulhu to stay abreast of Dark Quarterer’s affairs, just use Facebook

Adam Zaars (Tribulation) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, April 15th, 2013

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I’m trying to put a finger on The Formulas of Death, but I can’t. Was the intention to make an album that’s hard to fit into one easy category?
Adam Zaars: No, that wasn’t the intention, but I’m not surprised to hear the question. The intention was just to create flowing music. It would have been hard not to do it in the way we did it, we just let it happen. We didn’t have an agenda to stir the pot or anything, although it seems now that we did.

My initial impression is that it’s a bit of a time-span record. There are bits from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s throughout the soundscape. What was it like writing music for The Formulas of Death?
Adam Zaars: We take inspiration for the atmosphere and the song and riff structures from anywhere, so I’m not surprised to hear that either. I know I just said that it was easy to write the album, but it also took time. We always waited for the music to come to us rather than trying to force things out. Trying to make sense of everything was at times a bit confusing, but in the end I think we managed to do just that, I think the music is very coherent.

I mean, I notice all kinds of things happening on the record. Like “Spectres” could be a descendent of Unanimated, but then you throw in the black metal reggae part at 2:36. “Rånda” has that old Opeth bounce. “Spell” has that old Bathory peel to it. Are purposefully referencing the music that you like?
Adam Zaars: No, we are not and we always get compared to bands that we don’t listen to (except from Bathory in this case). I still don’t get that reggae thing either. I think that’s a narrow-minded comparison, or maybe I’m just so far removed from that genre that I just don’t hear it. I hear we have disco beats in the album as well. I mean, come on, are people so imbedded in their own cultural pattern that they can’t even take a beat for what it is? It’s a beat! It’s got nothing to do with any style of music, it’s just a beat. Listen again, and forget what you have heard before. I know that can be hard, but I really think those beats on our album are just there for the right reasons and we certainly didn’t put them there to be outlandish or anything, you know.

What role do the instrumentals play? Each one is vastly different from the other.
Adam Zaars: The whole album could have been instrumental really. Instrumental music has that ‘free’ way that I was just mentioning, it can just flow freely and that’s an inspiring thing to me. “Laylah” and “Ultra Silvam” were originally intended to be one song, but it turned out that we needed to make two! I don’t know why really, we don’t really analyze it while we do it, we just go with what feels like the right way.

I’m curious where the inspiration to “Ultra Silvam” came from. I know it’s an old term for Transylvania, but the song’s not creepy or dark. It’s more of a groove, shake your money maker-kind of thing.
Adam Zaars: It’s a beautiful area with a lot of history and myth that relates to the band to a certain extent. That said the title is a metaphor rather than a hymn to a piece of land. And I have to say that to me that song is very dark. I think it has got a lot of what I would call Swedish darkness in it. I always start humming on other old Swedish songs when I have listened to it, songs that are dark and somber yet beautiful to me. It’s all in the eye (ear) of the beholder I guess, and this time it might be my cultural background that getting me to that conclusion, although I have a feeling that it isn’t.

Back in 2009, you told me Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness was tops. Do you have movie soundtracks or scores that you feel are exemplary and, as such, part of Tribulation’s fabric?
Adam Zaars: It still is! In particular the (Herzog’s) Nosferatu and Suspiria scores.

Was it important to keep things aggressive? For all the experimentation and curveballs, The Formulas of Death is still very much a death metal record.
Our music is emotional to us and it carries a range of emotions to us, and aggression is a strong emotion hence it’s not surprising to me that it’s still in there. Again, we really just did it without too much analyzing, we didn’t go, “We should really have an aggressive one as well.” Because of the time it took to get the right feel of everything I’m not surprised to hear that people have so many different thoughts about it and feel so many things about it. It’s varied, I guess.

What is death metal in your eyes?
Adam Zaars: If I could name one album that is death metal to me I would say Covenant. But that’s not all there is to it, of course. I never really listened that much to death metal, except for the albums and bands that really stood out, and they were always so good, like Morbid Angel. When death metal isn’t creative it might be the dullest genre there is. I have more patience with old heavy metal bands than I do with death metal bands, because it seems like it’s very hard to make anything at all that’s the least interesting. To me that is. I don’t really care to be honest. Good music is good music, bad music is bad music. It’s obvious isn’t it? I don’t get why you have to be loyal to a certain something that someone once upon a time made up. We weren’t there; there is no nostalgia in it for us. Genres seem like a good thing for journalists, something that makes their job a bit easier, and for people that make documentaries about music and for people that have to fit in to a, again, certain something that someone made up.

Lyrically, where are you taking the reader? There are all kinds curious things. The intro title, “Vagina Dentata,” for example. The Hebrew titled, “Night.” Or, the Lovecraftian “Wanderer In The Outer Darkness.”
Adam Zaars: The lyrics are personal and purposefully dark, obviously. They are metaphors and they are literal. I don’t want to get into too much detail since I find it nice to hear that people really make up their own minds about what they are about and that doesn’t really matter to me since I know what they mean to me. “Vagina Dentata” doesn’t mean what most people think about when hearing the title, it’s about a passage way and an opening, an initiation. That’s mostly what the rest of the album is about as well. It’s about spiritual death and rebirth and about becoming. The Hebrew title paints a picture for people that don’t know Hebrew, it’s a beautiful set of letters isn’t it? For the people who do know their Hebrew it might have even more depth and suggestions.

Would you say the lyrics are tied into your spiritual outlook?
Adam Zaars: Yes, they are. They are a part of it, the music is as well. I would say that it’s the output of a spiritual life. They don’t fully reveal it, that’s for sure, but I find spirituality and creativity very much intertwined. I can almost go as far as saying that I couldn’t be creative and stand for what has been done if it wasn’t. Art is spiritual for me, and to us what we do is art.

Describe your spiritual outlook. It’s not like it’s obvious as Glen Benton’s burned-in forehead cross.
Adam Zaars: What is he? An inverted non-spiritual Christian? I don’t know the guy. It’s quite difficult to make sense of my views in a short space like this because I can never say a thing like “I’m a Satanist and I follow these rules,” or “I’m a Shaivite and my heart strives for union with the blabla” mainly because I find it hard to put a name to it as easy as that. I mean, except for the superficial namedropping and attitudes towards life there isn’t that much difference between the goals of a Western Satanist and a Hindu ascetic. It’s a quest for the ending of the life-cycle and either a union with something you put a name to or a dissolution from whatever it is you put a name to. Some may argue, of course, but I look at it from a wider angle. At the same time I’m not saying that certain names are not important, they certainly are, but I think it’s the intent and the belief and the will and maybe even the history behind it that is very important. My spiritual outlook isn’t tied to any religion, but I do find what could be called Indian philosophy appealing, maybe because of its vast variety, but it’s also based in Western as well as “new world” thoughts and ideas. I think pretty much all religions could be useful as long as you know how to approach them and as long as you see all the external bullshit, I also think that many religions can be useful if you fully embrace them. Paradoxes are always a part of spirituality, I guess. In a western environment I have always found the “left hand side” of things more attractive and I would probably be called superstitious. It derives from both faith and experience with an emphasis on the latter.

Where’d the cover idea come from? Kind of reminds me of a dark post-punk album cover. Like something The Chameleons might’ve done after Script of the Bridge.
Adam Zaars: Funny thing, I just heard The Chameleons last week actually, maybe a bit too “nice” for me. The cover was drawn by Jonathan, the guitar player, and the original image he made it from is from an old fin de siècle magazine. I find it perfect for the album really, we couldn’t have used anything else. I like how it has this uncertainty to it that I think the album has as well. It’s folkloristic in a way that is in accordance with the album. It has got that dark old fear of the unknown that still lingers in man, it’s also very sensual and it has a divine quality to it as well. Not that farfetched, I guess.

It was done at Necromorbus Studios, correct? It’s probably the best recording to come out of the studio. I feels vintage but not detrimentally so.
Adam Zaars: We needed the freedom of having a lot of time and we needed to do it in an environment that was nothing like a big city where we could make the studio into our own. We did the drums in Necromorbus (Tore also did the mixing and mastering), then we relocated to our home town in the western parts of Sweden to do the rest with Jonas Wikstrand. We had two rooms and pretty much rearranged them completely into what felt comfortable for us. It was an inspiring time, I never really wanted to leave the studio. It was great working with both guys really, and I am really pleased with what they both contributed.

As for current happenings, what did drummer Jakob Ljungberg bring to the table? I like his switch between hard rock pounder and progressive rock creativeness.
Adam Zaars: It’s great playing with him, he’s a great addition in a lot of ways. We’ve know each other since we were kids and we have always played together, so to have him in the band is great. He adds his kind of drumming which isn’t the typical death metal way of drumming and that’s exactly what we needed.

Alright, final question. Plans for 2013? Domination or sit quietly back and let the music do the talking?
Adam Zaars: We have plans. Hopefully we can make them happen!

** Tribulation’s new album, The Formulas of Death, is out on Anja Offensive. It’s available HERE, and if you’re smart you’ll check it out. It might be the hippest “death metal” record ever recorded. No, seriously.

Tales From the Metalnomicon: Kier-La Janisse

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews, king fucking diamond On: Friday, April 12th, 2013

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

In her exquisitely rendered, frequently disquieting, always edifying new book House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films well-respected critic, festival programmer and King Diamond devotee Kier-La Janisse writes of a childhood visit to a garage sale during which she pleads with her mother for the quarter necessary to purchase a copy of Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws.

“She conceded, with the caveat that she be allowed to read it first to make sure it was ‘acceptable reading’ for a child my age,” Janisse writes. “I expected this. What I didn’t expect was to get the book back marked up with a ballpoint pen, words changed, and entire pages scribbled out. I still think this book is my mother’s masterpiece of repressive zeal.”

Janisse continues:

Of course, the ink didn’t deter me: If I held the pages up to the light I could read through it. Like all things buried, these dirty truths come to the surface one way or another.

House of Psychotic Women is not unlike that light. Its lushly illustrated pages illuminate and elucidate, summoning hitherto obscured patterns and subtexts of both classic and obscure entries in the “apocalyptic hysteria” celluloid subgenre into view, deepening appreciation for those films a given reader has seen, piquing interest in the dozens they haven’t. (The appendix compendium will almost certainly blow the minds of most outré junkies.)

KierLaJanisse

“I was always drawn to these films, but for a long time I never gave it much thought beyond, ‘Yeah, I like these movies with crazy women in them,’” Janisse tells Decibel. “Once I started writing the book, though, it was striking to me how the central problem of so many of the women in so many of these films is the same problem, which is issues of identity — basically, the expectations others manufacture for women, the expectations they manufacture for themselves, and then the consequent ways they act out when the inability to meet those expectations becomes clear.”

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Odela Exposes its Proggy Bits

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

Odela Moth Eater cover (TOP)

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.

Odela Moth Eater cover (BUM)

In the maverick spirit of bands like Melvins and, more recently, Slayer, this Friday we bring you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack Lite.  Recently we heard this tidy little instrumental EP by French rock composer Christophe Le Roux and really enjoyed its playful heaviness, sonic clarity, and dedication to narrative cohesion.  There’s no monumental revelation here, no high-five-inspiring sicker-than-thou brutality, just some well recorded moments that allow you to transcend the mundane and live in the ethereal realm for about 10 minutes.  We liked the music enough to present it here for your taking or leaving, and we asked the man behind the freaky topless bug lady to tell us a little more.

What is your music background?

I studied music theory in France at the CEMMI (which no longer exist). The course was mostly based on jazz improv but I’ve always had a preference for written music, especially sophisticated guitar riffs and odd time signatures.

What influenced you to make Odela’s music?

I guess my biggest influence is Dream Theater, but I find inspiration in anything really.  To name a few bands that everybody knows [which] I’ve listened to a lot in the past decade: Paradise Lost, Pantera, Sepultura, Opeth, and most recently Animals as Leaders.

Your Bandcamp page says you are French… how did you end up recording in Canada?

I have dual citizenship, both French and Canadian so I moved to Canada (Calgary) and lived there for 6 years. Recording in Canada was pure destiny.

Was the music fully composed before you recorded, or did anything change during the recording process with Alan Sacha Laskow involved?

Yes the music was fully composed except for the choir voices during the outro of The Moth Eater. That being said, Sacha has contributed so much to the end result thanks to his expertise in sound engineering; he turned what was on paper into real music and went far beyond my expectations.

How did the cover image for the EP come about?  What do you like about it being attached to your music?

I first came across Mariella’s artwork at a Jung People CD release concert where she had a few paintings on display. I was blown away by her talent so I searched online to see more of her stuff, and that’s when I found the image of The Moth Eater. I like the morbid and beautiful character of this picture.

Some of the songs on the EP are very short – are they absolutely complete, or are any of them ideas that could be  expanded further?

I feel the songs are the right length. I’m a huge prog fan but I chose to do something rather short and pretty straight forward on this EP – though I do intend to write real long and proggy pieces in the future. I’ve actually had a few people telling me the songs were too short; I take this as a compliment and constructive criticism.

What non-musical ideas do you think enter into your composition/performance process?

The general idea behind the music is the dramatic ambience that I’ve tried to recreate throughout the riffs, the harmony and the low tuning. “Orphan in the Playground” is about solitude.

What hopes do you have for the Odela project in the future?

I hope I get the chance to do a full length album in the near future as I have a lot more music to share with the world! But right now I have other priorities and I’m working on other projects. I would love to see Odela’s music featured in a movie or a video game.

North. Interviewed.

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews On: Thursday, April 11th, 2013

deciblog - north album cover

Hmm. How did we miss this one? Did we miss this one? Was it only I who wasn’t paying attention and missed it? Either way, Arizona’s North has a “new” album out. It’s a wall of crushing, psychedelia-tinged post-Neur-Isis mania entitled The Great Silence, though “new” is a bit of a misnomer as it was actually originally released last year. Whatever. In an industry where people are sacrificing their first born for decent first week sales numbers, we’re sure a little promotional nod a few months after the fact won’t hurt. I’ve always said, what would you rather have? A shitload of sales right out of the gate, then being forgotten by most of the public a few weeks later, or a consistent handful of smaller weekly sales over the course of a longer period of time? While you mull that over, here’s an interview with guitarist Matt Mutterperl.

How did North come to be? And how does a band from Arizona come to use the moniker North anyway?
[Bassist] Evan [Leek], [drummer] Zack [Hansen], and our previous guitarist Ty had been in previous musical endeavors for a little while. After their previous band dissolved, Evan “formally” asked to start a new band, to which Zack agreed only if he could drop-kick Evan in the stomach. Evan actually did get drop-kicked in the stomach, who repeatedly stresses that it did not hurt, and they were off in a new direction. Seriously. I was invited to practice one day since I had known Ty through a mutual friend, and had showed him some of my own riffs, and that was that. The three of them had already demoed some material, which I don’t believe I have anymore. It’s floating around the internet somewhere, I think. Our name? From the 1994 movie of the same name starring Elijah Wood. I’m fond of it because it’s simple, not offensive, and not awkward to say: contrast “North” with a canonical example like “Anal Cunt.”

I notice at one point, on your bandcamp page for What You Were it reads “North was…” Was there a break up in there somewhere?
Not a break-up, although we have lost some members. I feel like “North was” is the most accurate way to say it, but it doesn’t matter much.

What was the original goal/philosophy behind the band when you started and how has that changed since?
There wasn’t any kind of specific aim other than to make loud, heavy music, and I think we’ve stayed true to that even if we’re the only ones that may think so. Every time we set out to write, there’s always a new theme/pattern/riff/idea that we explore, regardless of where it goes. As five people who are genuinely interested and invested in making music, we do our best to stay motivated and improve ourselves. That’s also something that hasn’t changed in the last 7+ years.

deciblog - north live

How long was The Great Silence in the works in terms of how long it took to write and record?
That was in the works for about four years. “Pulse,” “Patience,” and “Paradox” were the first songs we wrote way back in 2008/2009, only they were all played together in a piece originally titled something transparent like “Megasong.” The last song we wrote was “Origins” in 2011. Recording only took about week.

Was there anything you were consciously or deliberately trying to do different on the new album from past recordings? How would you characterise The Great Silence in comparison to your other releases?
We always try to do something different on every album, whether it ends up being subtle or not so subtle. I think that’s a shared goal for most bands, but for us it’s been stark in some areas; our first two records were instrumental, for example. On What You Were, we had a dedicated keyboardist and it was our first album with a vocalist. For The Great Silence, we were at a point where the future of North seemed questionable, so there was more of an emphasis to “leave it all out on the field,” to quote high school football coaches everywhere. Thankfully now, we’re inspired enough to not suffer through that kind of low morale. Happens to all of us, it’s just in how you manage it.

How does North on record compare to North live?
I wouldn’t say there’s a real marked difference. We may or may not be much louder than the volume you play our records at, but trust and believe we’re always trying to be. We don’t try and get too improvisational live, although that element is subtly there if we’re feeling daring.

deciblog - north live 2

How much touring have you done since the latest album’s release? Any dumb/awesome/horrifying tour stories to share?
We toured through the south, both coasts, and some of the mid-west, which added up to about six weeks of touring. The worst situation was at the end of our August tour when our van’s rear end, which had been spitting oil for a while now, was deemed unsafe to drive. Kyle and Evan had to stay back in Salt Lake City, and then drive the van from there back to Tucson. The rest of us had school or work and had to fly home. The Midas we were at was exceptionally accommodating and donated $1000+ in parts, however. Some of the most awesome situations were camping at Emigrant Lake in Oregon the night of a meteor shower, playing an outdoor block party, and on a personal note, getting to see all the people that we never get to for reasons related to distance.

Do you have any new material in the works? What’s up in your immediate future?
We’re currently working on new material for an EP or split, whichever materializes first. We’re trying to get louder, gloomier, and more precise, like sharpening the edge of some kind of a sad, sludgy knife. Opinions vary. This summer we’re planning on doing some touring mostly around the west side of the country, and hopefully putting out a new something-or-other for everyone to hear.

North on Facebook (also from where the live photos were lifted)
North on bandcamp

Decibrity Playlist: Anciients

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

anciients

The dudes in Anciients will release their debut album, Heart Of Oak, on Tuesday. Just in case Jeff Treppel’s lead review in our April issue or Kevin Stewart-Panko’s profile the following month weren’t enough to convince you of the Vancouver quartet’s awesomeness, guitarist/vocalists Chris Dyck and Kenny Cook passed along some of the records they’ll be spinning as they hit the road on the Death To All tour starting this weekend. As Dyck explains, “Although most of the time we have Kenny’s iPod set to shuffle, these albums will most definitely be all up in the van. These are a few of our faves to drive to—there are a ton more albums we dig, but most of these get a lot of play and I don’t see that changing any time soon. We listen to a ton of metal and a ton of classic rock [so] that [is] the vibe nine times out of ten…ELO to Mayhem, Thin Lizzy to Suffocation. If it’s good, we recognize it and dig it…haha.”

While we’ll compile all of these tour playlists into a master road warrior playlist one day, in the meantime we’ll turn things over to Chris and Kenny. You can listen along here.

Mahavishnu Orchestra—Visions Of The Emerald Beyond (1975)
I chose this record because it has been one of my favorites since the first time I heard it. The musicianship is completely mind boggling, the way they switch through odd time signatures is amazing and the combo of John McLaughlin (guitar) and Jean-Luc Ponty (electric violin) is outstanding. I still don’t understand how they are able to sync up on some of those runs. What does it the most for me on this record is the insane drumming. Michael Walden just destroys on this recording, it’s like controlled rages of awesomeness that never stray from the pocket and just the all around tone of his playing is godlike. I really enjoy this album from start to finish—just give the first two tracks a listen and you will get the overall picture.—Kenny Cook

MO

Craft—Fuck The Universe (2005)
If I listen to any black metal a lot, it’s this record. It’s most definitely a record that puts you in the mood to crush things, like riffs and such. “Demonspeed” would have to be the track for me off of this album…either that or the title track.—K.C.

This is my favorite black metal record ever, easily. The vocals, the guitar sound, the drumming, the bass tone…everything. Such catchy parts mixed with such dissonance. An amazing record, every song rules. The title track and “Demonspeed” are my jams for life. I feel like punching through concrete when I listen to this in my Kia, it’s so rockin and so badass at the same time. A nearly perfect metal record in my opinion.—Chris Dyck

craft

The Steve Miller Band—Greatest Hits 1974-78 (1978)
This is record I used to listen to as a kid when my mom would drive me to school. It’s the epitome of a greatest hits record, every song is great. You may want to skip “The Joker”—we’ve all heard that enough for one lifetime—but so many other songs are choice on here, “Serenade” being the best.—K.C.

“Serenade”, “Swingtown” and “The Stake” specifically, this collection of Steve Miller tunes is essential as fuck! It is classic and always, always finds its way into the mix. I’m 35, so I have been listening to this album for all my life…crucial cruisin’ tunes.—C.D.

smb

Death—Human (1991)
The greatest Death album, and one of the greatest death metal albums of all time. Every song is brilliant…”Together as One” is my jam. This lineup was a total game changer in my opinion—this smooth, techy, brilliant, clear sound…so stoked to do this tour and see these guys lay waste to thee classic death songs on the reg. Childhood dream realized…yup.—C.D.

death

Steely Dan—Can’t Buy A Thrill (1972)
The first record by this supergroup of serious musicians. Definitely one of my favorites for sure—love the Denny Dias and Skunk Baxter guitar harmonies, very epic. I always thought “Reelin’ in the Years” was a Thin Lizzy song when I was young because of the guitarmonies. I have always loved the way they threw lap steel in to the mix. Perfect feel good road tunes.—K.C.

Since my brother started bringing Steely Dan to work years ago, our whole family has kinda really made it like our hangout tunes, haha. This album has several classics. What can even be said about Steely Dan—too good, amazing in every way…no comparison…so fucking smooth!—C.D.

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Neurosis—Through Silver In Blood (1996)
Our friend Bonnie turned us on to these guys a few years back. Of course I have always entire known about them, duh, but never really, really got to into them. But…once I heard this album, I actually woke up quite a bit…like this record is every art/beard metal bands bible. It humbles me now every time I hear it. The title track, “Eye” and “Locust Star” are essential…beyond heavy. One of the greatest live shows I have ever witnessed…inspiration forever, truly an original band…so rare to find, and they are loud as fuck, so massive bonus points for that.—C.D.

neurosis

Graveyard—Hisingen Blues (2011)
Graveyard—Lights Out (2012)

Amazing band. I just had the pleasure to see for the first time a month ago. Been listening to them for some time now and it’s just all around killer bluesy rock and roll. The vocals are just ridiculous—this dude has some serious pipes. These two records will be getting some well deserved play time through the stereo in our van.—K.C.

I got into these guys in the last couple years hard. Super classy stoner rock—evil, catchy, [done by] amazing musicians and heavy without distortion all over the place. This album is fucking mint. We just saw them in Seattle…wow. Sweden for the win once again—perfect camping/shotgunning beers album also.—C.D.

hisingenlightsout

High on Fire—Death Is This Communion (2007)
This is my favourite record by HoF. Crushingly killer and perfect for the highway.—K.C.

“Rumors of fucking War”…period. The greatest song to get stoked to of all time.—C.D.

hof

*Pre-order a copy of Heart Of Oak here.

**Anciients tour dates (* for Death To All shows):

4/13 Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues w/ Masters of Steel*
4/15 Engelwood, CO @ Gothic Theatre*
4/18 Detroit, MI@ St. Andrews Hall*
4/19 Cleveland, OH @ House Of Blues Cleveland*
4/20 Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s*
4/21 Chicago, IL @ House Of Blues*
4/23 Montreal, QC @ Club Soda*
4/24 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza*
4/25 Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of the Living Arts w/ Believer*
4/26 Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore (Silver Spring)*
4/27 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium*
4/28 Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre*
5/15 Billings, MT @ Railyard
5/17 Des Moines, IA @ House Of Bricks
5/18 Indianapolis, IN @ Indy’s Jukebox w/ Glorior Belli, Wolvhammer
5/20 Pittsburgh, PA @ Belvedere’s w/ Glorior Belli, Wolvhammer

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

Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) (Björn Strid)
Intronaut
BATILLUS
Inter Arma
Helen Money
Misery Index
Ancient VVisdom
Holy Grail
Rotten Sound
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Early Graves
All That Remains
Bison B.C.
A Life Once Lost
Fight Amp
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Grave
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Dawnbringer
Ufomammut
Shadows Fall
Horseback
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Torche
“Best of” Meshuggah
Astra
Pallbearer
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)

STREAMING: Purson “Spiderwood Farm”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

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We’re certainly entering strange space when a band like Purson is beloved by metalheads of sundry stripes and sick permutations. Self-described as “Vaudeville Carny Psych,” Purson—if lines between music styles, genres, and eras mean anything—could be the missing link between Mellow Candle and Black Sabbath. Or, Fairport Convention mixed with iconoclasts Coven. However, you want to pull back time and scatter long-settled dust to compare Purson’s sometimes smokey, sometimes sultry, mostly bucolic (wait until you hear “Tempest and the Tide”) heavy folkisms what really matters is that it rules. Not kind of. The ruleage is in absolutes.

Most bands like to take stabs at once was through irony (the worst kind) or sheer appropriation (cute, but temporal), but Purson have depth of character and wide sound palette all their own. Sure, much of the band’s likeability may come from Rosalie Cunningham’s genuine voice(s). She’s hard to ignore, really. But take a deep look at the music, and her bandmates (and their influences) aren’t just off Uncle Monty’s turnip cart. They have skill, really transportive abilities that hover in the nether regions above and below the convergence points of folk, rock, hard rock, psychedelia, jazz, and pop. It’s the Canterbury sound brought frilly cuffs and wildly muted colors frolicking into the present.

So, you can image we’re pretty chuffed to be ground zero for the premiere of Purson thriller, “Spiderwood Farm,” which is naturally named after some obscure ’70s band and about something tangentally scary, as Miss Cunningham so eloquently details: “Spiderwood Farm is a protest song of sorts. Spiderwood council are trying to evict the tenants of the farmhouse. They have been dead for over a century but the ghosts are rather comfy there. The dark needs a comfortable bed, so they said. Hopefully our monster riffs can change the council’s mind.”

** Purson’s new album, The Circle And The Blue Door, is out April 30th 2013. It’s available HERE if you don’t mind sharing your time with the ghosts of Spiderwood Farm. Also, don’t forget to check out a different version of “Spiderwood Farm.” It’s, uh, fuzzy. Click HERE.

FULL ALBUM STREAM: Pensées Nocturnes’ Nom d’une Pipe

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

SOLEIL

Black metal has seen more than its share of weirdos. It’s a genre that seems to attract idiosyncratic loners, especially since Varg proved back in the 90s that you really don’t need more than one person in the band.  The French cabaret black metal act Pensées Nocturnes consists entirely of the single-monitored Vaerohn. And to his credit, it doesn’t just sound like one dude with a keyboard. His fourth album, Nom d’une Pipe, embraces the macabre in Grand Guignol style. In addition to blast beats and shrieks, keep your ears peeled for bass, accordion, trumpet, horn, tuba, saxophone, English horn, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, piano, flute, trombone, violin, and cello. Possibly the kitchen sink, too, but that would just be obvious. Enjoy the full album below for a limited time!

***Nom d’une Pipe is available now from LADLO Productions. Get it here

Visual Violence: Brent Eyestone

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen, lists On: Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

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Decibel‘s coverage of the debut LP from Richmond, Virginia dark thrash stalwarts Iron Reagan has been fairly comprehensive — last month Chris premiered a stand-out track off Worse Than Dead in this space and there is a short profile of the band in the print issue on stands now — but one aspect of the album we haven’t quite delved into is the uber-sick cover artwork created by Magic Bullet Records proprietor/Highness guitarist Brent Eyestone, a true punk rock renaissance man who graciously agreed to walk us through the inspirations and processes that led to this slab of Visual Violence…

Oddly enough, in spite of 86 mutual friends (by Facebook’s estimation), probably dozens of the same shows, and less than 50 miles from my doorstep to his here in Virginia, Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan) and I actually didn’t even meet each other until about three years ago — out in Indianapolis of all places. Later that summer, I was dating one of his friends back in Richmond and we got the chance to hang out quite a bit. I quickly learned how passionate he was about specific kinds of music and it was very easy to hit it off and bond over a lot of mutual bands and records that had accumulated in both of our collections for the better part of three decades. Toss in a bunch of fun hangs out in nature with grills and beverages during those summer months, and I had come to appreciate Tony’s friendship and kindness quite a bit.

Fast forward about year or so later: Ryan [Parrish] quits Darkest Hour and immediately starts new bands with Tony — Iron Reagan — and myself — Highness, Bleach Everything. Everything starts making sense and getting even more incestuous accordingly, with Iron Reagan also nabbing fellow Darkest Hour-bailer Paul Burnette and Phil Hall from Municipal Waste. All of a sudden we’re all in these new bands and super excited about what’s happening.

Iron Reagan gets off to the fastest start, having a demo out within what felt like weeks of the first practice. It’s completely great and, naturally, I let both Ryan and Tony know how much I appreciated the sounds they were making with Iron Reagan.

Around the same time, I was releasing a slew of new records on Magic Bullet. This brings us to the first album that influenced the decision-making behind the Worse Than Dead cover:

1. BIG CHINA & LITTLE TROUBLE Lo-Panning LP (Magic Bullet Records)

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INTERVIEW: Steve Ramsey on keeping the devil out of Satan’s resurrection

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

Band-Satan

That Satan were one of the most slept-on bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal because of their name is a cruel irony. For a genre that adopted the devil as chief muse and aesthetic patriarch, Satan should have fitted right in; acceptance should have been instant. But while Satan, too, were a product of Venom’s hometown, Newcastle, England, their approach was wholly different.

Formed in 1979 when guitarists Steve Ramsey (also of seminal UK folk metal band Skyclad) and Russ Tippins were still at school, Satan were all about incorporating melody and technicality into NWOBHM’s innate speed. History, politics and justice trumped the for-the-album Satanism of their Geordie peers and the scene at large.

Satan were named after Satan but they were never in league with him. Ramsey and Tippins guitars were the rapier not the hammer; shit, they could really play. But many couldn’t get over a band called Satan coming out with a debut LP Court in the Act that showcased highfalutin’ musicality while paying no genre union dues in its lyrical themes. Calling the band Satan while singing about justice, Native Americans a la Maiden on “Broken Treaties”, Vikings on “Blades of Steal” (a la Maiden again), running from the law (a la . . . There are plenty of artistic parallels with Maiden) . . . That was all taken for cognitive dissonance by a music press that lumped them in with the then nascent extreme metal scene.

Satan were never that: they were straight-up, Heavy Metal, progressively cavalier, and that, as Steve Ramsey tells the Deciblog, helped screw everything up. Satan changed their name (Blind Fury [see bottom], Pariah, The Kindred), changed their line-up, lost momentum, and eventually succumbed to obscurity.

But Ramsey is not bitter. With the imminent release of Life Sentence (Satan’s first studio album since 1987’s Suspended Sentence), and a headlining appearance at Live Evil Festival confirmed for October, he has way more to look forward to than to regret.