Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vanessa Nocera (part 2 of 3)

Vanessa Nocera, part 2 (of 3). In part 1, Vanessa gave an insight into the death metal of Skeletal Spectre, for which she does vocals, in collaboration with guitarist Rogga Johansson (who himself has more than several musical projects). This second part of the interview focuses on some biographical information related to Vanessa’s world of metal music. Vanessa is a musician, but she does more than playing music, as you will see here. Vanessa shows the symptoms of a metal workaholic.
Is it true that you, Vanessa, are the owner of Razorback Records, the horror gore metal record company? If so, how does the company make money to continue, if music sales are minimal because it is horror/gore specialized subgenre and because of downloading?
Vanessa: The label does better now than it ever did. We have a reputation of being limited to just horror-themed bands, but this is not true. We have bands on the label who are straight forward death metal and are not really influenced by horror films; bands such as ONIRICOUS, GUTWRENCH, MAUSOLEUM (they’re half and half influenced, I suppose), TOMBSTONES, DECREPITAPH, and a few others. We just signed a black metal band to the label as well called DOMINIUM and we have bands like BLIZARO who are not even 100% metal and no death metal at all really, so we definitely have more of a variety than people realize.
Actually, the second SKELETAL SPECTRE album “Occult Spawned Premonitions” had no movie influence at all. The lyrics that I wrote were all inspired by Kentucky folklore and haunted areas in Kentucky that I heard about growing up, and other lyrics written by our friend Dr. Lucio Holocausto were inspired by horror comic and novel worship. So, yes, we are predominantly a horror-influenced label, but we are not limited to that at all. It would be nice to break that rumor.
Does Razorback Records and your musical projects take up all your time? Do you tour a lot? Do you have time for a spouse and the married life? I suppose you have no time for having a family, even if you wanted one?!
Vanessa: Razorback is a full-time job, but we definitely take our time off from it. It’s just me and my husband who run the label and some days there is more work to do for just two people, but we manage time and money quite well and I’m sure that’s why the label is as strong as it is and we’re able to do tons more now than ever. Soon I’ll be recording tons more material for all of my current bands (SCAREMAKER, HOWLING, WOODEN STAKE, LOATHSOME, ORLOFF, CAULDRON BURIAL) and a few other projects that I will later reveal. We are still traveling every now and then and setting up at horror conventions which is a great way to get our name out there, promote who we are, meet fans who are new and old, and make new friends in the con circuit. I don’t tour with my bands, so that’s my way of getting out there.
As far as family does, I’ve NEVER wanted children, and this was one of the many things that Billy and I agreed on when we first got together. Married life is great and we definitely make time for that, but NO children at all! Haha!
According to Metal Archives, it seems like you started recording music around 2010. Can you explain more about your musical endeavors in the 2000s. You just turned 30 this year, so the 90s are not much of a time that you remember, as you were 10 years old in 1993, when the golden age of death metal was coming to a close. Were the late 90s when you started playing music?
Vanessa: One of these days I’m going in if at all possible and changing my profile on there, haha! My beginnings in the underground started in early 2006 when I moved to Chicago and started a death metal band called SLASH DEMENTIA (that was a working title), and I also had intentions on starting a record label called DemonSlave Recordings. The band did not last long because of conflicts with members, so the band split and I formed the black metal band WOLFHOLLOW with one of the band members who also left SLASH DEMENTIA. We had a demo, an album, and a couple of EP’s as well as appearing on a 4-way split called “Total Black Onslaught of Death”. You can seek out WOLFHOLLOW on metal archives. My name was Khaos, but my pic is there; you will see me.
In late 2007/early 2008 I was in the middle of writing the second WOLFHOLLOW album, but quit the band and my label and moved back to Kentucky. There was too much turmoil happening and I ran away from music for a while. In 2009, that is when I met Billy and he was the one who pushed me into picking up the guitar again and writing songs. Throughout late 2009 I had tons of songs written for SCAREMAKER and in March 2010 we flew to Texas where our drummer lived at the time and recorded the album and some EP material.
I was too young in the early 90’s to know about the underground of metal, but I was definitely into bands that other girls my age would never listen to. At age 7 I bought “Kill ‘em All” and was hooked from there. I went from thrash, to death, to grind, to black, and I kept digging and digging to find new music. I started playing guitar in 1992 when I was 9 and I’ve sang and growled for as long as I could remember.
At any rate, it seems like something happened, like the Big Bang explosion of creativity and activity, in the year 2010 and 2011 and all of a sudden you were making all this music. Vanessa: I’ve always been a creative person. I’m into reading and watching documentaries on the occult, the black arts, Satanism, Paganism, Voodoo, and so on, so I’m always full of ideas. Horror movies and comics are of course another main source of inspiration.
Plus, I have tons of old riffs from when I was 11-18 years of age that were never used, so I have been reworking them into better songs with newer riffs and I’ll be using those in upcoming releases. I’m constantly doing something whether it’s my own stuff or writing for other people and appearing as a guest on other bands’ releases. www.facebook.com/skeletalspectre

Monday, July 29, 2013

multitalented metal musician: Vanessa Nocera (part 1)

Vanessa Nocera: multitalented metal musician (part 1)
My introduction to the works of Vanessa Nocera began with the death metal album “Voodo Dawn” by Skeletal Spectre. For me, the combination of Vanessa’s growl-snarl and the classic-Stockholm death metal guitar sound of Skeletal Spectre was fun from the moment I heard it. I figured it was time to find out more about Skeletal Spectre. In the process, I found out a boatload of interesting information!
This is first part of the interview with Vanessa Nocera. It deals mostly with things related to Skeletal Spectre. Later on I will post the second part, and in that section, Vanessa talks about her other musical projects. But, for now, this is your chance to learn about Skeletal Spectre. If you like classic death metal, you’ll be pleased to hear this music. You’ll also be pleased to hear who is playing guitars on this, as it is one of the most dedicated practitioners of classic-style Stockholm-sound death metal today.
Anyway, there’s more Vanessa Nocera music to tell you about in the next portion of the interview. Here’s part 1 for now.
For Skeletal Spectre, only you are identified by name. The other people in the project have hidden identities. Are their identities hidden because of legal/contract reasons, or for fun?
Vanessa: To be honest, I’m not sure why the original members decided to not use their real names. Over time it was sort of found out by people the Rogga (Beyond the Pentagram) was the mastermind behind the music because you can definitely tell it’s his style. I entertained the thought of using an alias when I joined, but I felt like I should just use my name.
Is Rogga Johansson involved? I ask because that guitar tone sounds like someone who loves the old Stockholm-style death metal guitar sound.
Vanessa: Yes, as stated before, Rogga is the main musician in the band. He writes all the music and performs all instruments, except drums. We knew keeping that secret wouldn’t work with some people, haha!
The "Flip-Side of Satan" has traditional metal singing! That took me by surprise! How many times how you heard people say that you and Doro Pesch, the metal queen, sound alike?!
Vanessa: That’s the first time I’ve heard a comparison to Doro, but I’ll take it. I have many other bands in which I have done clean singing in. WOODEN STAKE is one where I do a mix of clean singing and growls, and I’ve heard comparisons to performers such as Stevie Nicks, Siouxsie Sioux, Kat Bjelland, and even Madonna. I also did some clean singing on the cover song “Devil’s Son” with my other band SCAREMAKER as the closing track on our debut album “What Evil Have They Summoned…”, and there is more to come from me as far as clear vocals go.
Skeletal Spectre was released on Pulverised Records. What are the company's legal obligations and what are yours? I'm assuming that you basically never see any money from music sales because of downloading and also because of the costs of publicizing Skeletal Spectre.
Vanessa: I co-own and co-operate Razorback Recordings, so basically my payment was quite a few copies to stock in our mailorder to sell and the other bandmates received copies, too. The album is selling well on our end though, so that’s all I know as far as how well sales are. I’ll ask eventually how the album is doing for them, but I’m not fully clear on how they advertise.
What about the costs of the recording? I'm curious as to how a band like Skeletal Spectre finds money to make music in a world in which this music has such a niche market. Is it relatively cheap to record?
Vanessa: I record all of my parts in my home studio, so it virtually does not cost me a dime. I consider my payment for my time and artistry the copies of the CDs and the recognition I get for my work. I would never demand money for studio time when I can come into my office/studio and just work for nothing. I do music because I want to do music and I’m a very creative person, so I understand the underground does not work in the way of mad cash flow, haha!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

new death doom Forlorn Path: "Man's Last Portrait"

If you like to check out new death doom bands, ones that are laboring in relative obscurity, paying their dues and doing self-releases, then here's Forlorn Path. They are still in their initial phase of finding their definitive sound, in this, their third self-release, but are clearly showing good signs of strong potential. Forlorn Path is not funeral doom, but it is certainly on the "death doom" part of the metal world. As you can imagine, Forlorn Path is no lightweight, half-hearted effort. Instead, this music speaks volumes about their desire to play doom, and to pour their work, time and money to make music that has a pretty specialized audience. Will it get noticed by many people? Will they be future household names in the genre of doom? Or, will they break up and be forgotten, except by fanatical doomheads? Time will tell, friends. But if you are total doomheads you give the music a spin and you will be surprised by the seriousness of purpose by this unsigned band.
Speaking for myself, I have listened to this band many, many times in order to try to find out if the music clicks with me. They have solid songwriting, and work out well the melancholic-depressive parts of their sound, often through keyboards. It does require a patient ear and it is not particularly melodic, although it is catchy in some places. The result? I think I do understand the sound quite a bit better now that I have heard the songs lots of times. I would not hesitate to recommend the band to those who are obsessed with death doom, especially the more modern, melancholic doom.
After thinking about it a bit, I think the guitar chugs a tad too much, it relies too much on the play-on riff, the riff that is heavy and is metal and all that, but that does not stand out, it does not grab this listener's attention. If I had to pinpoint one area of improvement to focus on, it would be to reduce the chugging parts, and increase the guitar "spices": tremolo; solos; melancholy; fast chords; slow melodies; and other such things; explore more soloing; question whether a riff has something else besides the heaviness, which I like, but I also would like more personality in the guitar.
I also hope that next time the drum sound is not so plastic and flat. It does sound like a computer. It would be lovely if the band would have a more metal sound on the drums, more like real drums.
I hope that, dear reader, you are not getting the wrong impression. Forlorn Path is serious doom. I happen to like a whole lot of doom. If you do love melancholic death doom, I have to tell you: this is definitely a band to hear and one that you should support. They are still young and I think they will do great doom in the future. They just have to keep going and be brave enough to change things to write memorable, melodic, melancholic yet massively heavy doom. It's not easy to do, but this band will do it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

the student (Exhumed) and the master (Carcass) in 2013

the student (Exhumed) and the master (Carcass) in 2013: Exhumed (U.S.): "Necrocracy"
I hope that you are excited for what's about to happen! Both Exhumed and Carcass are about to release new albums. Exhumed's album "Necrocracy" will be published in August and Carcass' album "Surgical Steel" will be released in September. Essentially, it means that you will have two Carcass albums to enjoy. Carcass' last studio album was in 1996, and in 1998 Exhumed emerged with their debut, a relatively honest Carcass-worshipping album. Ever since then, Exhumed has, more or less, followed Carcass' musical change from goregrind to quality death metal with heavy metal melodies.
Don't be fooled by Exhumed's stupid image and gimmick, the actual music is quite good!
Exhumed's music is actually classy, catchy and tuneful death metal, although as you can see, the band is trapped in an image that they came up with, most likely, when they were teenagers and wanted to get attention with horror movie shock jock image. (their first demo is from 1992).
In this album there are mainly two vocal styles: the low grumble and the more normal death metal growling, just like in classic Carcass. Often, the vibe recalls Carcass' "Symphonies of Sickness" and "Necroticism": the riffs, the soloing, the drumming are all classic Carcass. Exhumed has done another very interesting job of continuing the tradition of Carcass, even though Carcass has been gone for a long, long time. Now, that Carcass is back, I think things will be interesting for total Carcass listeners.
How will the new Carcass album compare with classic Carcass? Disappointment is often the case!
It is very likely that Carcass will disappoint the fans of the classic sound, especially if Carcass will sound more like "melodic death metal" in the style of the album "Heartwork," an album in which Carcass abandoned death metal and became more of a traditional heavy metal band, with growled vocals.
At any rate, we are about to find out, aren't we?
I think that Exhumed is just as anxious to hear the new Carcass, as lots of other fans are. Either way, I know that I have enjoyed Exhumed's album.

grind, of an experimental spirit: Antigama (Poland): "Meteor"

Antigama (Poland): "Meteor"
Antigama is a grind band, with a crisp production (not a garage sound). Of course, it is blazing fast, with short songs. Antigama functions at an experimental level. While a lot of the music sounds like noisy grind, a closer listen demonstrates that something else is at work, something different. While traditional grind can be quite easy to get into, the speed and the headbangingness of the riffs welcome the willing ear to the rocking nature of grind.
It is that way with Antigama, but with some jazzy and spacey surprises. This music is much more disruptive of lineal song structures, it tests the listener's patience a lot more by changing things up, and with more frequency. The stop/start mathcore elements and the jazzy vibes are fundamental for this band. Antigama is for listeners who like fast music that explores the experimental side of grind. It sounds pretty crazy, and I imagine that in the live setting it all just sounds loud and speed. In a way, Antigama is a bit more challenging, a bit more hip to other genres. Check it out if you like grind and you don't mind a few incursions into experimental music. www.facebook.com/antigama

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NWOBHM-ish occult doom/heavy metal: Magister Templi (Norway): "Lucifer Leviathan Logos"

NWOBHM-ish occult doom: Magister Templi (Norway): "Lucifer Leviathan Logos"
I highly recommend this album if you love bands that worship the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and old heavy metal, especially old doom.
The band's debut full-length album goes all out for the old school production and songs, somewhere between early 80s doom, late 70s traditional heavy metal and obscure heavy metal. Thus, whether it's the vibe of Witchfinder General or the "cult" sounds of Manilla Road, this band Magister Templi works a very niche corner of metal music.
There are headbanging moments, the typical metal cheeseball lyrics, a rocking feel, some galloping guitar work, all of them topped with a vocalist that sounds appropriately street/biker/dirty rock, kind of punk-ish at times.
They have the enthusiasm and the songs. It's a strong debut, I believe, and they can definitely build on this beginning. Of course, if you like old heavy metal, these songs are instantly likable, which means that your subconscious has, sort of, already heard bits and pieces of these songs, it has heard the influences and recognizes them, which is why the songs sound comfortable.
The second album should be one to watch: which direction will they go, more retro or will they get a bit more adventurous?

Last Chance to Reason: not for jive suckas: weirdo jazzy screamo bonkers rock

Last Chance to Reason: "Level Three"
WARNING: NOT FOR JIVE SUCKAS. This is not for the cranky "metal police" people, but for the I-like-to-hear-weird-bands-tripping-out people. This is not much of a metal album, you feel me, dog? Just relax, cuz this ain't no Manowah nor Slaya macho posturing shizzy.
My info sheet is telling me that the cats at Metalsucks be saying that this band right here, Last Chance to Reason, is “one of the most exciting young prog acts on the scene today.”
Don't know about all that, but let's go for a ride around and find out what the shizzy is all about.
These cats are total new jack rock. First, they be doing these spacey moments of alternative-ish, college suburban experimental rock. You know, kinda trippy, kind of whiny, emo-ish, maybe Radiohead-ish vibe. That's what I hear, but I ain't no expert about these sounds, playa.
Then, just when I was thinking that I got it, they get all angry and whatnot, and start to hardcore rock and screaming and shouting and doing all those crazy things. What happened to the mellow? Gone! Now it's all angry. Why you mad, bro? What happened? Something got them going, dayum.
These crazies are all over the place. "Amazing" and words like that is what people be saying. You gonna have to check it out and see how much patience you have for this clustercluck of styles. As for me, I need a nap now, gotta jet. I'm out.

Monday, July 22, 2013

the 7th album by Eternal Tears of Sorrow (Finland): "Saivon Lapsi"

Eternal Tears of Sorrow (Finland): "Saivon Lapsi"
Given that this is their seventh album, for people who know this band's music, the question is not whether it's a quality release. Rather, it's how the small changes in sound go in interesting new directions and how the band reworks its essence, building upon its legacy.
The sound on this album is lush melodic-symphonic-melancholic growl metal, spiced up with traditional, melodic singing. The overall sound, at times, emphasizes particular aspects, like total shredding guitar solos, melancholic sounds or symphonic elements.
However, the big picture is symphonic growl metal.
The songwriting is top notch. The album is also top of the line for this style of music. This is better than "good," and it is definitely very good and highly enjoyable, if you do like symphonic metal. The band sounds very knowledgeable, very skilled in the studio, and with a great ear for melody and writing "hits" in the genre. They know how to make an album full of "hits," and has delivered a great effort, a commendable work, with no weaknesses, only catchy songs.
This band is masters of "symphonic growl metal" or "symphonic heavy pop," whichever way you would like to look at it. It appears that there is a lot of studio magic, which is normal for this style. The drums don't sound very metal, the guitars are not very rough and do not cut that well, which makes the music soft, velvety and poppy. If you like this style, I think you will be very impressed with this band, as you should be. They know their craft very well. Personally, I wish it sounded heavier, more human, but that's just my opinion.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

traditional prog Ivanhoe (Germany): "Systematrix"

traditional prog Ivanhoe (Germany): "Systematrix"
Even though traditional progsters Ivanhoe have 5 albums, this is the first time I hear their music. Ivanhoe has a strong, gritty and soulful singer in Mischa Mang who sings with a noticeable effort to add something different. It's melodic singing, but midpaced singing, very chorus-like singing, with the layering, sounding like several people at the same time. The singing pretty much takes over everything on this album, and it's possible that it is the number one attraction for some people.
Instrumentally, one can hear the bass guitar very clearly. In large part, that is because the guitarist Chuck Schuler is a team player: he's not playing attention-seeker riffs, but creating melodies that the singer can work with. Overall, the music and the singing go together very well.
In short, Ivanhoe has a good, clear production and they have a lot of talent, but they restrain themselves.
Perhaps if you like a band like Pain of Salvation, you might like Ivanhoe. This is midpaced, prog, intelligent instrumentation.
On the other hand, if you want to bang your head, Ivanhoe is not that type of band. Ivanhoe will sound very boring to you if you want simple, thrashing or catchy music. This is more on the side of "difficult metal" for people who have patience with bands that are oblivious to what most metal fans want. Actually, Ivanhoe is more for people into Tool, too, maybe, or just those bands that don't fit nicely into categories. It is prog metal, but it is also very strong-willed and anti-cliché metal, with lots of emotional singing. www.ivanhoe.de

Hessian (Belgium): "Mánégarmr": hardcore and metal, but not "metalcore"

Hessian (Belgium): "Mánégarmr"
A band like Hessian can cause headaches for people who worry about categories and genres because Hessian can be as intense as black metal ("Plague Monger"), as heavy as death/funeral doom ("Father of Greed"), so on and so forth.
Yet that is not what Hessian is.
I think Hessian sounds more along the lines of musicians who love the energy of death and thrash metal, but who are sick to their stomachs of the "perfect" production, the clichés, the retro, the lack of brave mentalities and the whole "we play metal songs about metal and violence" thing.
It's my guess.
They also like hardcore, I think, but they are tired of the breakdowns, the formula, the "thug" imagery, and all the other formulas, like mixing harsh and melodic vocals.
Hessian sounds like hardcore and growl metal, but in the sense that I have been talking about.
Hessian is not easy to get into, for me. I have been listening to this for a while now, maybe months and was thinking that maybe it would click, but it has not and I want to this review out.
They sound heavy, energetic and professional.
Nevertheless, beyond that, I am just not understanding the songs, they are not connecting. Maybe it is the cold, dissonant, post-hardcore, post-metal sounds.
Hessian may be too far out there for me, perhaps. I do like the song "Plague Monger," but that one sounds more metal and it's easier to get.
So, I will just say this: there are younger bands who seem pretty wise, musically, and who sound displeased with the state of metal and harcore, and are trying to see where they can take things now, with their energy, speed and heaviness.
They sound like they have their things together and know what they are doing. A bit too dissonant and post-everything for me and that's the reason why I feel like I don't understand the music very well.
Don't take my word for it. Listen for yourself.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

new prog metal: Edvian (Russia): "2012"

I do not have much information about Edvian and the little I have found says it is a band from Russia. At the end of this review I give you a couple of places to check things out. Right now, I'm going to report about how I hear the music.
Edvian is a heavy, prog metal band with a chunky guitar sound and melodic singing. The guitar tone is remarkably heavy, which contrasts with the melodic singing and constant use of keyboards/electronica sounds. The songs are pretty memorable, sounding both heavy and ear candy at the same time, kind of poppy.
They sound at times like "Dream Theater with more pop/electronic/dance sounds" and also like "Linkin Park gone heavy and downtuned." I'm still trying to figure it out, but maybe you can check this out and figure it out faster than my elderly brain.
Don't get the wrong impression, though. Edvian is not a pop band and it is a metal band, but pretty modern, hip and open-minded of other genres, which they incorporate, while still keeping the heaviness.
Who is this music for? Anyone that wants to hear new prog metal, with melodic singing. The singing is melodic and smooth, in a sing-along style.
Here are a couple of places where you can hear a bit of the music.

gutter slime punk death: Wound (Germany): "Inhale the Void"

gutter slime punk death: Wound (Germany): "Inhale the Void"
The guitar might as well be a lawnmower or a saw. Following that logic, the guitar riffs sound like a saw cutting through a wall of bricks (or getting stuck, revving up, against the bricks). At times, there are these "solos," that sound like the "guitarist" is drunk and he doesn't know how to tune his guitar.
For a band like Wound, this is their own way of playing death metal: dirty and swampy. Wound is the type of band that appeals to those that like old-style sloppy joe's death metal; it is barebones production.
Wound sounds like they thought they would differentiate themselves by going in an old-school direction and they have succeeded. It's not "clinical" and "clicky" death metal.
On the other hand, the songs aren't too shabby, either. Not bad, not bad at all.
They are not pretending to reinvent the wheel. Just having a few beers and jamming out these tracks. They might have done these songs in a couple of days, maybe, I don't know. They don't want to take out the warts and all. It's people playing old, punky death metal, and that's how they do it.
If you are very picky and you want "mind-blowing" musicianship, this is not it. Wound is stinky, slimy death metal.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Killswitch Engage's twin: Mercenary (Denmark): "Through Our Darkest Days"

For practical purposes, dear reader, I will assume that you have heard the most recent Killswitch Engage. I also assume that if a person does not enjoy the sounds of Killswitch Engage, then that person stopped reading this review as soon as they saw the name.
Mercenary is no Killswitch Engage rip off, however. Mercenary's debut was published in 1998, in addition to demos in 1993, 1994 and an EP in 1998. So, including this album, Mercenary now has 7 studio albums.
Mercenary does play melodic growl metal, and on this album they sound very much like a band ready to gain new listeners from the crowds that like Killswitch Engage and All That Remains.
Mercenary means: growl-shout vocals; melodic singing; catchy-poppy energy; chugging guitar moments; melodic solos and hooks; professionalism; slick, clicky computerized drum sound; so and so forth.
As I have pointed out, Mercenary, as a sound, has been around for a while. Thus, this album is a professional recording, on a level with the bigger names in this subgenre. The production is very "modern" and all those things that fans of this music expect.
In short, Mercenary has turned every stone to deliver the type of album that fans and followers of this subgenre love. If you did enjoy Killswitch Engage's recent album a whole lot, I would imagine that you would enjoy the level of professionalism and catchiness in Mercenary.
Speaking more subjectively, I especially do not like that flat drum sound that so many bands use, and I think it would be better to use a more natural sound, something that sounds like real drums.

filthy, gutter punks: Kromosom: "Live Forever"

filthy, gutter punks: Kromosom: "Live Forever"
Kromosom presents filthy, worthless, garage d-beat crust yell-until-your-throat-is-damaged obnoxious gutter punk.
If in the last month you have not showered, have not brushed your teeth and have not changed your clothes, then you have a good idea of how filthy Kromosom sounds.
What's the guitar player doing? what about the drummer? the bassist? the vocalist?
I have no clue because I cannot hear anything except obnoxious noise, some crazy banging on cans, a drunk guy plucking away at the bass; an angry, untalented foolish idiot trying to play guitar; and a certified lunatic screaming away, yelling about things that punks do not like.
Kromosom makes the Sex Pistols look a bunch of country club gentlemen.
Today was the very first day that I heard Kromosom and I loved this raging garbage sound from the first second.
It is that awesome.
I kid you not, Kromosom is the work genius minds.
So ridiculously brilliant!
Recommended for dirty gutter social outcasts into Discharge, Siege, The Exploited, Eletro Hippies, Heresy, Destroy, Extreme Noise Terror, early Napalm Death, and lots of bands with "Dis" in their name, those Scandinavian d-beat hoodlums, and lots very intense, garage sounds that is as punk as they can possibly be.
Only for those that love garage sounds.

the best worst lo-fi cave garbage: Teloch Vovin: "I"

If you find that Darkthrone is just too polished, elegant, and fancy;
and you think that d-beat, crust punk is a bunch of rich-kids, big-budget sounds;
and you want something more homemade, here's a treat for you.
Teloch Vovin plays sounds that are only slightly more musical than a garbage disposal at work. The vacuum cleaner is more musical than this.
Now, some people might be thinking: "Oh, c'mon now, surely you are exaggerating!"
Let's find out how much!
Listen to this and you tell me! www.reverbnation.com/telochvovin

Metal Bulletin Zine online at www.fuglymaniacs.com

Check out issue number 36 of Metal Bulletin Zine at www.fuglymaniacs.com

Monday, July 15, 2013

One last chance: Amon Amarth, Darkane and several other reviews

Amon Amarth, Darkane and several other reviews.
Ok, so, here is the last batch of reviews from Metal Bulletin Zine issue number 36.
Soon I will post reviews and interviews for issue number 37, but I thought that--in case you missed these albums--you might find at least some of them to be to your liking. Some of these bands are famous like Amon Amarth, others are wild punks like Full of Hell, and others elegant like Trail of Tears, and still other just plain bananas like Shining.
Read on, and hunt some of these down! Some of the albums have are just releasing now.
Full of Hell (U.S.): “Rudiments of Mutilation”
I have to tell you that Full of Hell’s music is for those into annoyingly brilliant noisy grind punk doom sludge whatever. The songs range from total grind blazing speed to very slow spacey sludge doom, with a strong tendency to make a lot of noise. A lot.
If you don’t like bands that cross genre boundaries, then you won’t like this. If you genuinely love noisy stuff, and you don’t get frustrated that one song sounds like grind, and another is a crawling, snail’s pace number, then this is for you.
Categories, limits and rules all mean exactly jack squat to Full of Hell. It’s crazy, bipolar, dichotomous music. www.facebook.com/fullofhell
Mumakil (Switzerland): “Flies Will Starve”
There is never, ever a bad day for all-out grind! Mumakil proves that the millions (and millions!), and millions (and millions!) of grind fans need blasting. Fast is headed your way right here! 24 songs in about 36 minutes, and only one song reaches the 2-minute mark. Yes! Mumakil is the type of music that you put on, and get your hearing wrecked in a whirlwind of blasting and growling, and then they are gone. Done. Yes!
Great, that’s the efficient way. Don’t waste my time, just get to the grind, play the grind, play fast, really fast, scream, yell, growl and grunt and lose your mind. I love it. Never too much blasting. Can you smell what Mumakil is cooking?! It’s a spicy dish of no-nonsense grind, served on a hot plate of sarcasm and anger, with a tall glass of talk-smack lyrics. With a thick, modern production, not a garage-style sound. If you like to-the-point, old-style, drill-and-blast, nothing-but-grind grind, then invite Mumakil to your house. Not for schmucks. www.facebook.com/Mumakil
heavy metal (traditional)
Attic (Germany): “The Invocation”
Attic signed a contract with the evil powers, and it is a one-sentence contract, as follows (yes, I receive copies):
“Attic is hereby granted their wish to sound, as much as demonically possible, like Mercyful Fate 1981-1985, and in return they agree to surrender their soul to me [you know who] and to spend eternity in my lake of fire.”
Anyway, yes, yes, the song titles, the singing (even down to the laugh), and everything is meant as a huge tribute to Mercyful Fate.
How much do you love classic Mercyful Fate?! Well, that’s nothing. Attic loves Mercyful Fate more!
Everybody interested in all things MF/King Diamond, here’s a band to keep you entertained. www.facebook.com/atticfuneral
melodic/growl metal
Amon Amarth (Sweden): “Deceiver of the Gods”
Amon Amarth. This model of consistency, reliability and quality will once again satisfy the metalheads. Overall, the galloping riffs and the melodic hooks/solos illustrate why this band has never disappointed me. From the looks of it, those into them will also be pleased. The vocals are gruff, as always, but easy to growl along to. The drums sound perhaps a bit faster, with excellent segments of double-bass where it’s needed.
Most importantly, you can bang your head like nobody’s business. The band has mastered the art of headbanging, memorable melodic/growl metal. Put it on your “to get” list because it has everything that Amon Amarth listeners like: quality songwriting, catchy melodies, uptempo/galloping riffs, and a great sense of how to get you moving.
Throughout nine albums the band has gradually changed from a death metal band to uptempo and memorable growl metal, while adding some heavy metal catchiness. Formed in 1992, it’s like Amon Amarth has studied the history of legendary metal bands, has avoided those huge missteps that alienate their listeners, while getting bigger each time.
Darkane (Sweden): “The Sinister Supremacy”
Quality. Experience. High Standard. Perseverance. Darkane.
Darkane is modern metal incarnate, in a positive way, that only experienced, tested veterans can be. What doesn’t Darkane have expertise in?! There’s enough of everything for everyone here. Whether it’s huge thrashing guitar work, melodic hooks and solos, in-your-face heaviness, energetic/aggressive vocals, singing, and well-arranged songs, it doesn’t matter, they deliver a coherent, smooth impact.
Clearly, the matter of coherence is key. Darkane finds ways to unite different components in one single, unified sound.
Sometimes, Darkane goes into total thrash mode, where the pace dictates joining in, or getting out of the way. Just join in, as in “Humanity Defined,” where the thrashing, galloping tempo takes over, while allowing breathing room for a bit of melodic soloing.
This same Darkane vibe and sound, somehow manages, in places, to sound more death metal-ish on “The Decline,” yet it sounds very much like Darkane. Mainly, it is because Darkane does not stay in a box, and just cuts across different genre lines.
They even manage to surprise with the unexpected “Hate Repentance State,” not a full-on thrash attack, but the opposite, a mellow, melodic ditty that seems to appear out of the blue. Recommended for followers of bands that are concerned with good songs, and not so much the name of the genre. “Thrashing, melodic growl metal”?
Here’s an interesting fact for the Darkane followers. Do you remember their debut 1999 album “Rusted Angel”? Or have you heard it? Lawrence Mackrory did vocals on that album and he disappeared from Darkane’s history as “that guy” from the first album. “That guy,” surprise, surprise is “Larry Lethal” from silly thrashers Freddy Krueger’s Ünderwear (FKÜ) and now is back in Darkane. Such is the cycle of life. www.darkane.com
Trail of Tears (Norway): “Oscillation”
Many, many, many great news about “Oscilllation” by Trail of Tears. There is also some bad, bad news, but it’s not even bad news about this album. More on that in a second.
In terms of style, Trail of Tears represents the dichotomy of elegant, lush symphonic/melodic/melancholic/pop/catchy sensibilities with heavy/growl/headbanging metal. On this album, they master their craft impeccably and beautifully. It is certainly the one that I have enjoyed the most since their debut in 1998, “Disclosure in Red.” It would be easy to go into great detail, but for the sake of brevity, I will tell you about one thing that really, really, really steals the show here: the singing by Catherine Paulsen. What can’t she do?! What a talent. She knocks it out of the park on this one. Excellent way to carry melodies, passionate singing, with a variety of voices, from intense high, air-raid siren acrobatics to soprano gymnastics, to midrange singing.
Anyway, I won’t bother you with more details. The songs by Trail of Tears = excellence in their style. Ah, yes, the bad news, eh? Trail of Tears has disbanded! So, this is it. No more Trail of Tears. Reunion, anyone? www.facebook.com/trailoftearsofficial
prog (traditional)
Scale the Summit (U.S.): “The Migration”
An instrumental prog band like Scale the Summit comprises a different listening experience from most metal because the listener can hear everything well, without the screaming/growling (and special effects) and without other things to distract from the music (sound compression, constant blasting, etc.). Instead of a barrage of noise, Scale the Summit endeavors in a fluidity of sound, flowing notes/solos that ease their way through the songs.
Guitar, bass, drums, and good songs. Kind of rocking at times, but in a mellow-proggy way. The sound of music, just the instruments. Highly recommended if you want something musically accomplished, but that still has songs to get into. It’s not show-off stuff, but a good balance of music for musicians and music for intelligent listeners. Guitar enthusiasts, this could be for you!
weird experimental
Shining (Norway): “One One One”
Shining celebrates a carnival of clashing traditions of sounds with their “blackjazz”: industrial jazz saxophone mosh scream electronica paranormal postfreaky metal rock.
Shining hovers-un/covers their art with highly annoying, teeth gnashing, nails-on-chalkboard idiot savant majestic beauty brain snaps for the mentally rearranged puzzles in an epidemic maze of purposeful confusion mis/re/un/directed at mindcluster eccentricity.
This makes all orthodox/traditional/impatient listeners reach for a new pair of clean diapers. That’s right, come and get it. Brain melt function mode on.
Grab a paper bag. Hyperventilate. www.facebook.com/shiningnorway

Sunday, July 14, 2013

power metal: Dark Moor

Before moving on to issue number 37 of Metal Bulletin Zine, I want to show you the updated versions of reviews from issue number 36 BECAUSE these are bands that, I think, are some of the most interesting albums that I have heard recently, mostly in the month of May and June.
heavy metal (power)
Dark Moor (Spain): “Ars Musica”
This makes 9 albums, from their debut in 1999. It is true that I have never heard a Dark Moor title that I did not like, and listening to this new one is just as much fun as their previous material. Featuring luxurious, symphonic power metal; and melodies that hit the mark big time, these veterans deliver like the true professionals that they are. Dark Moor does not emphasize upfront shredding guitars nor heaviness per se, rather it is melodies, hooks and notes coated in sugar. Speedy rockers, uptempo compositions, sing-along tunes, midtempo numbers (some more symphonic than others), ballads and others in between, Dark Moor covers all the bases in power metal, including acoustic and orchestral versions, and a song in Spanish. If you like power metal and you have not given them much of your time, this album is a very good place to start. Another fine, fine effort. Pleasing. www.dark-moor.com

death metal: Vorum; Defeated Sanity

Before moving on to issue number 37 of Metal Bulletin Zine, I want to show you the updated versions of reviews from issue number 36 BECAUSE these are bands that, I think, are some of the most interesting albums that I have heard recently, mostly in the month of May and June.
-- -- Here are the updated versions of the reviews of Vorum and Defeated Sanity that appear in Metal Bulletin Zine #36, the new issue that is now complete.
-- death metal (obscurantist)
Vorum (Finland): “Poisoned Void”
It is one thing to play chugging guitar and to growl and call that death metal. It’s a complete other perspective-craftsmanship involved in the creation of the type of obscurantist death metal played by Vorum. Archaic or ancient death metal functions at a whole other level. For one thing, Vorum’s music cuts across three genres: dark thrash, blasphemous death metal and black metal. The key thing is how Vorum puts it all together. There’s lots of tremolo segments, but the guitar tone is heavy, so it sounds like a massive black metal guitar, and the solos are about the shredding. The vocals are semi-intelligible, but it is a growl-snarl that takes the sound into the realms of “dark and evil death metal.”
Vorum is so good that the music is a perfect illustration of why death and black metal have the same origin, were once one thing, and are, in Vorum, one again.
Just as a side note, I’ll tell you about some “little” things that I find excellent. I find the guitar solos to be very enjoyable and are, for me, a highlight of the band’s overall sound. They really add personality to these songs.
The drumming. I like the sounds of the cymbal work, and the hard-hitting (non-plasticky) sound. The way the double bass, cymbals and snare join together, it’s a pleasure to listen to, over and over again. Quite a creative style of drumming, that will have your ears entertained. It’s true in my case, anyway. Very good. Recommended for the selective listeners into obscurantist/ancient death metal. www.facebook.com/Vorumdeath
death metal (technical/blastattack)
Defeated Sanity (Germany): “Passages into Deformity”
“Brooooootality,” slamming technicality is how Defeated Sanity rolls. If you love, love the super-over-the-top karate-chop-moshpit beatdown and throwing your elbows in good, friendly violent fun, I have to tell you that Defeated Sanity has just entered their album “Passages into Deformity” into the my wildly famous Most Brutal Album of the Year contest, which takes place in my van, down by the river. Every person who is physically fit should form a pit now. Do it. Do it now for Defeated Sanity!
I am not physically fit because I am 83 years old, but I can sure lift up my hand and do the Frank Mullen hand quake like nobody’s business!
It’s easy for me to do it because my hands already shake all the time, anyway.
What I like the most about Defeated Sanity is that they do well the multiple things that they do, meaning that they cook their songs just right, at the right temperature, and the result is a great success. The superlow indecipherable grunting, the blasting, slamming, shredding, riffs, pinch harmonics, solos, and all these things are placed and measured well. For example, the chugga-chugga knuckle-dragging low-string plucking, if not handled correctly, bores me to tears because it can sound like uncreative, unskilled stuff played by good-for-nothing, weekend warriors of death metal. That’s certainly not the case with Defeated Sanity! Step aside, make way for the professionals. If you want to hear a superbrutal band this year, and you insist that you have the patience for one album only, make it this one.
It’s that good. About the only thing that is missing here is pig squeals and more screaming, but this is so good that I will forgive them for that. Nobody is perfect, but Defeated Sanity is 97.33% perfect. www.facebook.com/DefeatedSanity

Saturday, July 13, 2013

black metal reviews: Grave Desecrator, Stonehaven, Cnoc An Tursa, Negator, Windfaerer

Before moving on to issue number 37 of Metal Bulletin Zine, I want to show you the updated versions of reviews from issue number 36 BECAUSE these are bands that, I think, are some of the most interesting albums that I have heard recently, mostly in the month of May and June.
-- -- Here are the updated versions of the reviews of Queensryche and Infinita Symphonia that appear in Metal Bulletin Zine #36, the new issue that is now complete.
black metal (ancient)
Grave Desecrator (Brazil): “Deathspells Rising”
I unknowingly lost this album and I should have reviewed it a long time. Like I’m telling you, though, I had not found it until last week. This is actually a 2011 compilation of demo, unreleased songs and live tracks.
Not being familiar with Grave Desecrator, I have enjoyed this collection immensely. Grave Desecrator sounds exactly like the typical South American black/death/thrash bands have historically sounded. They live up to their vicious name and I recommend it only to anyone who particularly loves the first releases by Sepultura, Sodom, Sarcofago, Blasphemy and others like that. They do a cover of “Sacrifice” by Bathory, taking that early black metal track through the meat grinder and making that horrible song sound even more horrid and atrocious.
Due to the variety of recording sources, the sound quality ranges from tremendously awful to unbelievably bad, all done to exquisite perfection. Grave Desecrator is great stuff!
black metal (traditional) Stonehaven(U.S.):“Concerning Old-Strife and Man-Banes” Old, necro, archaic black metal, recorded in a cave. Stories of wars, feuds, conspiracies and treachery, all written in a special language for you. Stonehaven is a necro black metal band’s band. Check it out, “Of the White Fall and Frozen Walls”! How good is your Viking English? Well, I don’t think that this story has a happy ending, nor does the piece called “Cutting the Necks of the Upstarts.” Tremolo riffs summon shrieks and snarls with the appropriate drumming, Stonehaven has reached deep into the history of black metal and barbarian Europe, with such enthusiasm that it must be welcomed by the total-black-metal audience. There’s a time and place, a perspective, embodied in Stonehaven, and you will know as soon as you hear it.
In places all over the world, in metal, there are a few grumpy metalhead musicians who frown at the state of metal where they live. I get the feeling that Stonehaven is one such band. Recommended for those into regional and local black metal bands that are not international rock stars, but that you know are actually pretty good at what they do, and just as important, they know what they are doing, and are not moved by the fickle-minded trends in metal.
black metal (transitional) Cnoc An Tursa (Scotland): “The Giants of Auld”
Negator (Germany): “Gates to the Pantheon”
Windfaerer (U.S.): “Solar”
The clean production of Cnoc An Tursa‘s fast, tight melodic black metal enhances the listening experience by allowing the symphonic and guitar elements to stand out.
In this instance, the songwriting itself goes beyond any genre. Case in point, “Ettrick Forest in November” shows tremolo picking, heavy metal catchiness, and symphonic components in effective unity. The mellower tracks like “Culloden Moor” or the faster ones such as “The Lion of Scotland” all reveal the commonality of emphasis on songwriting.
The audience into “Viking/folk/black”-ish metal will find Cnoc An Tursa to be a fun, strong experience. Plus, you are sure to enjoy learning about Scotland, its history, nature and mythical heroes. Very competent recording! www.facebook.com/cnocantursa
Negator plays a well-balanced style that is part black metal, part death metal, and executed tightly, efficiently, and in a compact format, with up-to-date studio techniques, as found on current death metal (non-old school death metal). Speaking of style, Negator uses at least four recurring guitar fundamentals: tremolo/black metal riffing; thick death metal riffs; dissonant notes; and chunky thrashing hooks. Vocally, the vocals are both black and death, although the black metal style is more prevalent. Overall, Negator’s music goes to toe to toe with the most popular bands playing blasting/brutal death metal. Negator may not be the most famous of names, but I recommend this to fans of Belphegor and Behemoth, as well as Hate Eternal, and modern blasting metal in general. The difference is that Negator sounds newer to the game, so to the listener they will sound fresh, since this band comes from a black metal approach.
Warning: knowledgeable listeners will know that Negator used to be a lot more of traditional black metal, with their 2004 debut “Old Black.” You should know that they have changed a lot, and have made a push from that style towards Behemoth-style intensity.
Leaving aside that touchy issue of style change, if you just listen, you hear that Negator has taken a jump to running with the big dogs, and it’s the type of energy goes that over well with fans of “extreme metal” in the U.S. www.negator666.de
Fans of modern, melodic, fast black/death metal, here is Windfaerer. They will win you over with one listen.
First things first, they play generally fast/uptempo, tight, professional-sounding black metal, with songs that make an impression quickly, so the listener doesn’t have to listen 27 times to understand. Now that you know that, to the point. Here are two things about Windfaerer that I think are identity makers for them.
The guitar work. Above all else, the talent heard on the guitar makes the album. For example, “The Morning Star” displays such a quick-hitting, big riff at the beginning, so that this song closes the album with a bang.
Besides the good riffs, the soloing is worthy of your attention. Some of those notes are, in fact, ear candy. It has occurred to me that maybe those fluid notes are not even guitar, but I do not have enough information or knowledge to tell you. Maybe you, dear reader, should listen to the soloing in “A Glimpse of Light” and see what you think?!!
Secondly, Windfaerer has a violin player and this adds an ear-friendly, different dimension to their metal. It’s a distinguishing mark of Windfaerer, and one that makes the music even more listenable and enjoyable. www.facebook.com/windfaerer

Queensryche; Infinita Symphonia: reviews

Before moving on to issue number 37 of Metal Bulletin Zine, I want to show you the updated versions of reviews from issue number 36 BECAUSE these are bands that, I think, are some of the most interesting albums that I have heard recently, mostly in the month of May and June.
-- -- Here are the updated versions of the reviews of Queensryche and Infinita Symphonia that appear in Metal Bulletin Zine #36, the new issue that is now complete.
-- --
adult contemporary metal
Infinita Symphonia (Italy): “Infinita Symphonia”
Queensryche (U.S.): “Queensryche”
Infinita Symphonia. This is where the good singing takes place, where melody predominates, and sing-along choruses await the listener.
Very quickly, here’s the deal. Huge, direct rocking metal riffs, catchy hooks and solos, song/rhythm-based no-nonsense drumming, and a good singer with a bit of grit (not thin-high singing), but still smooth and talented.
Rocking metal songs, proggy tracks, midtempo numbers, and ballads. A ballad?! Yes, a love song, perfect for your wedding. That’s right, a love song. “In Your Eyes,” is called. Quality stuff. Ear-friendly. Recommended for those into “metal that the whole family can enjoy, even the kids.”
Confession: I hated this album the first time I heard it several weeks ago! Nevertheless, I decided to return to it yesterday and today. Something changed! The music is still the same, but my understanding of it became better, and in return, I totally see what Infinita Symphonia is doing. Fun, upbeat, rocking.
Look up the video on YouTube “If I Could Go Back” for a taste of the upbeat, melodic metal rocking! It’s not a high-budget video, but just listen to the music.
Queensryche. Excellent singing, strong choruses, an abundance of guitar melodies, and overall semi-prog feel, in the sense of adult contemporary metal or light metal. The previous Queensryche album with which this meshes the best is probably "Empire."
It is also very good, and well done at all levels. The bands sounds confident, experienced and professional, and the sound quality is full and bouncy. It's very easy on the ears and it's a very welcoming and friendly vibe.
The band has worked extremely hard at repairing the reputation, at redeeming the name, and at making a serious effort to compose a well-balanced album with great midtempo songs, and with a couple of uptempo rockers.
Very, very recommended for Queensryche listeners that enjoy the more midtempo, mature, catchy and lighter metal side of the band's history.
It's probably a bit disappointing for those listeners hoping for something heavier and faster, but if you listen to the complete album, I would predict that it will grow on you, as long as you listen to this, for what it is now, and you do like "adult contemporary metal," easy-listening music. High quality, regardless.

Friday, July 12, 2013

interview: Aphelium (Venezuela; power metal)

Just in case you missed it, here's a new version of the interview with Aphelium from Metal Bulletin Zine #36. Number 36 is now complete, and I thought it would be good to check out their power metal, if you have not done so.
-- Aphelium (Venezuela) The previous issue of this zine had a positive review of these traditional, melodic power metallers’ demo. Now, here they are again, explaining their musical journey in metal. Aphelium is Marcos (bassss), Yohan (drmrrrr), Ismael (grrrrr), Joan (waaah!), and Christhian (keybrrr). www.facebook/com/ApheliumBand -- Greetings, Aphelium! How is life for a power metal band in Caracas, Venezuela in 2013? Are metalheads in Venezuela becoming fans of Aphelium? What do fans and zines, and webzines say about you?
Joan: First of all, we'd like to thank Mauricio for this interview and say hello to all the Metal Bulletin followers.
Ismael: Greetings from Venezuela! Life for any Metal band is not easy in the beginning, but when you love Metal, you go on, no matter how hard it is. Even though Caracas has one of the most important Metal scenes in Venezuela, it is difficult for Metal bands to endure throughout the years, since there's hardly any support from producers. There are some producers who make great efforts in order to help maintain the local scene, but it is not enough. This could be explained by the fact that Metal culture is not fully developed in our country.
Marcos: About the fans issue. Well, we are really beginning our road as a band, we don't like to talk about "fans", we prefer the term "followers", people who like our music and support us. And we are thankful with all those people who have been to our shows and who have downloaded or bought our Demo. Joan: So far, our Demo has had excellent reviews, which makes us really happy, since we've put a huge effort in our music. Local pages like "La Movida Metal", "Hermanos del Rock" and international pages like "Sorrow Eternal" and "Metal Storm" have talked about how they enjoyed it, and have encouraged us to keep on working on our music. Of course, we'd love to have more songs in it, but that's all we've been able to record until now.
What are your earliest memories of metal music in Venezuela? A show, a video or a metalhead friend?
Ismael: The first time I listened to Metal, I was like 14 years old and I was at my cousin's house. We were watching the MTV's top ten and I saw a music video of Rata Blanca's "La leyenda del hada y el mago". I loved the song but I didn't know what it was all about. The other moment that made me love metal even more was the Stratovarius show at "La concha acústica", a venue in Caracas. I really enjoyed that show because Stratovarius is one of my favorite bands, and also, "Metempsicosis", a Metal band from Caracas which is currently inactive (and one of my favorites), was going to perform as the support band for Stratovarius.
Marcos: Undoubtedly, the Motorhead concert. Lemmy Kilmister is a badass motherfucker! Watching him was priceless!!
Joan: When I was around 8 years old, I remember I saw an Iron Maiden video on TV. I had no idea what it was, but I really liked it. Several years later, I started listening to Rock music thanks to a friend in high school and I got the chance to discover the song from the video (which was Man on the edge!). I also remember my first Power Metal album. I saw the Cover and, at first, I thought it was a game or something. I decided to buy the CD because the guy who was selling it told me I might like it, if I liked fantasy and Classical music. When I got home and pushed play, I discovered music I had never imagined, Epic and wonderful; it was Rhapsody’s Dawn of Victory!
Yohan: If you're talking about Venezuelan Metal, my earliest memories are related to Metempsicosis. My brother showed me that band and I've always regretted not being able to see them live, since I was too young to go to their shows. I had their first record, "Alpha", which was a huge inspiration to me and made me realize I could have a band, a record and fill venues! Another memory I have, is the first concert I went to. My brother took me to an Iron Maiden concert! I was very young, and that was the moment he taught me what Metal was and I started to love it!
Cristhian: In my case, it was when I was14 years old. One day my neighbor showed me "BYOB" by SOAD and I was amazed by the melodies in the verse. The next day I bought the Mezmerize album.
What do you think about Arkangel and "Represión latinoamericana"? Is that band interesting to you?
Joan: Arkangel is one of the most influential Heavy Metal bands here in Venezuela. We think the way they expose our reality in "Represión Latinoamericana" is remarkable. And it is interesting how some things they describe in their songs haven't changed much.
Did Joan sing Venezuelan pop music when he was a child? Since you are from Venezuela, did you rebel against the music of José Luis Rodríguez "el puma"? I suppose that it is almost impossible to avoid his music in Venezuela? He was very famous in the 80s, but now only old people like his music?
Joan: I used to sing jingles and stuff like that, but besides that, and Choir music, I've never liked Pop music. The music of "El Puma" is not something one can't avoid in our country, as you might think (Thank God!). He was, and still is, very famous indeed, but, just like you said, mostly older people like his music. A Venezuelan singer who is definitely one of my influences is Torre de Marfil's first vocalist (Torre de Marfil is a Power Metal band from Caracas).
Lastly, how do you imagine Aphelium in ten years? And what are your objectives in the next couple of years, after the demo? Is Reverbnation or Facebook good for knowing what is happening with Aphelium?
Ismael: Right now, we are trying to keep the same active rhythm we've had over the last years. Ten years from now, we hope to have increased significantly the reach of our music. Our dream is that, in the near future, a lot of people throughout the world feel inspired by our music. We have some planned objectives; for example, we are currently working on our first album material and we hope to get more gigs, in our country and internationally. Regarding Facebook and Reverbnation, we consider that both are essential tools nowadays. Facebook is ideal for connecting with your followers and know firsthand about their opinion on the band and their expectations. On the other hand, Reverbnation is more focused on the music and lets musicians keep statistics of their musical activity in social networks, so it's extremely useful to know how good we're doing with the band. We think these are the best tools for new bands like us, so we'll keep on using them in the future. THE END.

interview: Project Armageddon

Metal Bulletin Zine # 36 is now complete.
Since there is a lot of music covered by Metal Bulletin Zine and sometimes it feels like there is too much, here is a bit from issue #36: an interview with Project Armageddon.
This is newer version of the interview. Anyway, in case you missed the interview before, here it is:
Project Armageddon (U.S.)
With the album “Tides of Doom,” these Texans called Project Armageddon found the heavy metal time machine. Project Armageddon did not travel back in time to the 1980s, but rather to 1969-70 England, and they took to Texas the guitar used by Tony Iommi, and all his studio equipment, which is why this guitar sound will recall classic Black Sabbath and big-riff doom-stoner sounds. You wanted the doom, you’ve got the doom!
Here are the answers by Raymond Matthews (the cannons) and Alexis Hollada (the grit and the thunder) to a set of questions sent to them in Morse code. The lineup is completed by Brandon Johnson (the crunch). www.projectarmageddon.com
-- Hello, Project Armageddon! I have been listening to the "Tides of Doom" album. I didn't realize that Houston, Texas had such doomsters. Is it true that you put out the album by yourselves? What does that mean? You have put up your own money to record the album?
Raymond-We own the production company, Shattered Man Records. So we did record the album ourselves, and we paid for the CD production from money we saved playing shows. We try hard to reinvest everything we make back into the band so we can continually improve our sound and quality of production. We also hired out the mixing and mastering to Tomasz Scull, of supernaturalsoundltd/Venomin James & I'd say he did a killer job for us.
Are you all homeless now from having spent all your money on the album?! Are you living in a van, down by the river? Project Armageddon must be one tough bunch to go at it alone?
Raymond-I've played drums for over 20 years and have always been motivated by the excitement of creating something new, original, and entertaining, and then having the joy of sharing that with fans in a live performance. I also thrive on the technical challenges of capturing that original work in its best possible form by recording. Though I don't have formal training in recording, after spending countless hours and dollars over the years I've managed to pick up enough to make it work.
Doomstress Alexis-Really when it comes down to it, if you have a drive and passion about something that you are creating, then you strive to overcome any obstacles in order to achieve that goal. There are things that will either obstruct that objective or perpetuate it. If it means enough to you, you will find a way to make it happen regardless of the consequences, and this is true in many things in life.
So how exactly does Project Armageddon achieve its sound? Do you use special equipment? Do you use equipment that is old, in order to achieve the classic 70s doom sound? How much autotune did you use?!!
Raymond-We use a rack mounted 24 track recorder, the Alesis HD24. It captured the sound exactly as we play it. I use the same Tama drums set that I bought in new back in 1991, the Rockstar DX series, with some good mikes and as few punches as possible. It's important for the feel or the song to try to get in in as few takes as possible. We typically play the song and record the drums, bass, and rhythm guitar all at once. This helps capture the live feel, then we go back and add or replace bass & guitar lines including solos and harmony tracks. Last we lay down the vocal tracks. Doomstress Alexis does a great job of capturing the feel in just one or two takes most of the time. The sound has to be attributed to the gear and the mikes we use. Like to make sure we can capture the same or better sound live and we have on the album so we don't rely on any triggers or computer generated synthesizers. We use a couple samples that we made ourselves, too, like the marching crunch in “Fallow Fields,” which is the same sample we used on the first album. We do have an assortment of effects pedals and love to experiment with them to create original sounds as well. One example is running the bass through a POG (Keyboard synth pedal) as heard in the intro to “Sanctimonious.”
Doomstress Alexis-1st off-NO AUTOTUNE! We record through a mix of different gear both analog and digital, and then we sent it off to SupernaturalSoundLtd for mixing (although the 1st record we did mix ourselves via an analog mixing board). Aside from that we just use great gear that gives us the sound we like, and we capture it well thru trial and error, and advice from those with the know-how.
How can people stay in touch? I live in Washington State, have you ever played here?
Raymond-We keep up with our Facebook, ReverbNation, Youtube and MySpace pages. We are on Itunes, CD Baby, hellridemusic, shadowkingdomrecords.com, brainticket.com, and several other locations on the web. We have also recently created our own official band website: www.projectarmageddon.com. There are links to listen to and buy our music, shirts, and other band merchandise, as well as info about our upcoming shows and events. We also have a blog with info about past events and a fairly extensive photo gallery. From our site you can sign up to become a "Fan" & receive notifications of upcoming events. We have not yet played Washington State, but we do plan to do more touring this year and the next, so check back with us at the website to stay informed. Thanks, Raymond Matthews. THE END.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Deep Purple; Spheron: classic prog and prog death metal

Deep Purple: "Now What?!"
It took a few listens to understand a bit of what goes on with Deep Purple in 2013.
I recommend that the listener give time to this album, much time, to let it do what it will. Listen to it, and then come back to it a few days later and listen to it more (or bits of it), and after a few weeks of doing that, the different parts of the album will start to assemble themselves in your mind. That's what happened to me; maybe it will be that way in your case, maybe not.
The album is progressive rock, classic rock, proto metal, metal and blues all rolled into the Deep Purple sound. The music is made by senior citizens; it is not a "rocking" album. Regardless of that, the singing sounds good as only Ian Gillan can, the production is clear, crisp, and lively. The keyboards are loud and upfront, the guitar is proggy, melodic and bluesy; and the rhythm section sounds jamming and vibing.
Deep Purple in 2013 is music for people with patience, and who listen to Deep Purple because they trust the musicianship of the band, given that Deep Purple is the personification of the living history of rock music.
It is midtempo, but the creativity is there, the songwriting, unique, and the talent, undeniable.
Personally, I wish it were more rocking. I don't have the total patience to listen to a complete album of old rock in a single sitting. However, I do appreciate that Deep Purple is not trying to prove that they "still got it like back in the day" nor is this a reunion of some sort, nor an attempt to replicate a previous sound/album, such as pandering to the audience or the market. It is the 2013 version of Deep Purple, senior citizens continuing on the legendary musical trajectory, doing their jams.
Recommended for fans of old prog rock, classic rock, proto metal, and just generally old rock. Recommended for listeners that check out all Deep Purple music, not just a specific time period, album or lineup.
Spheron (Germany): "Ecstasy of God"
This album also took a few listens to comprehend. The blasting barrage that is Spheron at first overwhelms with technicality, prowess and high volume.
After the impact of the blasting death metal wears off a little and the dust settles a bit, a better view of the music emerges.
The guttural vocals, the heaviness of the riffing and the blasting drumming are the foundation for the band's sound, but there is more to it than just that: the guitar soloing and the riffing are both melodic, skillful and catchy (but inside a whirlwind chaos and technicality, "melodic" in that particular context).
For instance, "Clasp the Thorns" shows quite a bit of dark melody, clean guitar sounds and finger-bending soloing. Once I listened to the song more carefully, I started to see the work and imagination that is involved in Spheron.
Cold, brutal, technical is the working thesis of Spheron, but with a balance with the songwriting that non-musicians can enjoy and understand: speed, melody and segments with various moods (not just blind speeding).
The band sounds experienced, not just enthusiastic, which they also do. This is their proper debut, with a 2008 demo and 2010 EP previously. It has taken them a while to get to this point, but it appears that with some time they were able to pause and reflect about what music to make.
Playing fast is fun, but they do have other important elements to their sound.
Spheron, unfortunately, uses that clinical, "perfect" production so dominant in "modern death metal," so the drums sound relatively plastic/electronic. Compared to the drum sound of the Deep Purple album, Spheron has too much a "perfect" drum sound (too much like: not the sound of real drums).
I wonder how this would sound with a more natural drum sound!
To end: Spheron has totally impressed me with their maturity in the songwriting. They sound wise beyond their years. Totally recommended for the listeners into technical/blasting death metal and perhaps more broadly, death metal and black metal with good guitar playing.

Slayer: 25 years of "South of Heaven"

July 5th, 1988 is the date that "South of Heaven" was released (according to Metal Archives).
Listening to this album what I hear is a more developed sense of songwriting. Dave Lombardo sounds quite freer to do other things besides just trying to keep up with the fast riffs of previous Slayer albums. He seems to have more time to do more fills, to explore other rhythms. This is probably one of the most obvious highlights of the album.
Even though the album is certainly not a slow one, the title track creates that false impression. That, coupled with the fact that it is slower than earlier albums, it does sound toned down.
To be honest, I have never liked this album. I don't remember that I have ever liked it. I did not like the title track when it came out. I probably complained that it was too slow, blah, blah, blah. Being young and stupid, I could not verbalize why I did not like it.
For weeks now, I have been listening to the album, to see how much more I can hear now.
Before getting to 2 main things that I do not like about the album, here are some things I do like: the drumming (as already stated), the guitar work on the title track (the Black Sabbath vibe in the slow melodies sounds good), the song "Cleanse the Soul" is headbanger for sure, "Silent Scream" is alright (despite some bad, cheese ball lyrical lines), and a few other things, such as a lot of the soloing, for instance, and some other segments of songs.
2 things that are not so good, in my opinion.
1. Tom Araya's vocals. He sounds like he is being forced to sing, which is something that the man does not have the talent to do. At times, he sounds half-hearted, and at other times, he sounds awkward, trying to be tuneful. When the music is going faster, he appears quite more comfortable at doing what he does best, but this album does not play to his strengths, which are energetic thrash vocals and screaming.
When he tries to sing, to carry a tune, like on "Behind the Crooked Cross," Araya's limitations are clear, also like on the Judas Priest cover "Dissident Aggressor." He sounds like a punk covering a heavy metal singer. That cover was probably the record company telling them to be more commercial for radio, like Anthrax having success with all those covers, and Megadeth covering Alice Cooper, Testament covering Aerosmith, Exodus covering AC/DC and other bands, all around the same time period.
"Spill the Blood" just does not sound good with the attempts to sing. The man clearly cannot sing, and he's not doing what he does best: energetic vocals. I feel kind of embarrassed listening to him trying to sing. He must have been under a lot of pressure to be tuneful and tried his best, but it does not work out very well, in my opinion.
Not to mention that his screaming has been dialed down a whole lot. Instead, we get this sort of yelling that sounds like a watered down version of Araya screams.
2. the guitar riffs.
Slayer guitar work sounds good when it is fast on this album, but there's a lot slower-than-usual riffing and it just does not grab my attention. Honestly, I space out during some parts of the songs and then I have to go back to them because I realize that this or that segment lost my attention.
It's possible that midtempo, radio thrash riffing is not the band's strength. More than a few occasions sound faceless and kind of just "ok," but it's not a ripping riff. If it's not going to be fast, then maybe it should be more catchy? The play-on riff is easy to forget and hard to remember.
In short, to me, it is a weaker Slayer album.
In that sense, I find the next album, "Seasons in the Abyss," more enjoyable: more energetic, more melodic, more catchy riffs, the Araya vocals are restored in fine form. Regardless of being a pretty polished album, "Seasons" sounds more like Slayer to me than "South of Heaven." (I do prefer the first three studio albums, but that's a different story.)
Some Slayer listeners really, really love "South," and they have expressed their love of the album all over the internet. I wish I could say the same.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

traditional melodic heavy metal: Tierra Santa (Spain): "Mi nombre será leyenda"

traditional melodic heavy metal: Tierra Santa (Spain): "Mi nombre será leyenda"
Some people have called Tierra Santa the "Spanish Iron Maiden," but that has not been a correct description for years and years now. This is their 9th album since 1997, and at this point in its career, Tierra Santa articulates a more unique, midtempo, traditional, heavy rock-based sound, rather than the speedy, fast-paced power metal for which they used to be known.
The central members of the band are the same, there is no big shift in lineup to announce, so everything is 100% good on that score. The talent for songwriting has become more experienced, and the talent for the execution of the songs is definitely that of confident veterans, who in the long run, have found a more specific sound that is Tierra Santa's identity.
However, it is important to be honest from a metal perspective, Tierra Santa has toned down the heavy metal substantially compared to their classic, power-metal glory albums like "Sangre de Reyes" (2001) and has even brought it down a notch from "Apocalipsis" (2004) which is a great album, with a less power-metal approach. Specifically, on this 2013 album, the guitars have been pushed into a less prominent position, and keyboards are more upfront. Secondly, the drumming is midtempo, and it's difficult to hear any double bass work.
Thus, you should look into this album, ONLY if you are ok with Tierra Santa's more heavy rock, less power metal sound, and you like to give bands a chance when they make changes as they grow older.
Of course, of course, they are very capable musicians and they function at a high level of professionalism, and this album represents the quality songs they have been doing for a long, long time.
Here's a breakdown of the rockers and semi/ballads.
uptempo heavy rockers:
Mi nombre será leyenda
Perdido en el paraíso
Ghenghis Khan
Hasta el amanecer
El último
Más allá de la vida
Solo se vive una vez (semi-ballad)
El cielo puede esperar (another ballad-ish song)
Si estás allí (very, very AOR, 80s ear candy, like Journey and Survivor)
Héroe (acoustic version)
In summary, despite the fact the drumming is the weakest, least creative I have heard on any Tierra Santa album, it is ok and I'd give the drumming a grade of a 70. The songs are fun and Tierra Santa-like, which, for me, is the most important aspect.
If you are a rather open-minded listener of Tierra Santa, then here's another very good album by the experts.

Monday, July 8, 2013

rock stars and joy destroyers: Guns n' Roses (U.S.); Altaar (Norway)

rock stars and anti rock stars: Guns n' Roses (U.S.); Altaar (Norway)
Guns n' Roses: "Chinese Democracy"
I know that everybody seems to have heard this album years ago or whenever it was released, but I had not.
To me, this album sounds like an effort to please the old fans, while attempting to sound current or updated, whatever that means.
For example,"Shackler's Revenge" sounds like industrial L.A. dirty rock, a bit techno, a bit bluesy. It would be inaccurate to say that it's a memorable song, to me. I find it to be very 90s, like blues-rock with a bit of that "alternative" or "industrial-techno" stuff that big, famous bands did.
"If the World" sounds like soccer-mom-and-dad radio light rock. Kind of whiny, nothing too outstanding, but just mellow, background music, but, like I say, with whiny singing. Music for crowded restaurants that need some background sounds going on.
Anyway, here and there is a bit of "rock and roll," but mostly it's a mixed bag of whiny-nasal singing with midtempo songs that don't have much uptempo energy, so, really, not much rocking. I guess millions of people find it to be fun, but my ears are telling me that this is about as exciting as a vegan having to listen to people talk about the different types of steak that they like to eat.
That's what I hear, anyway. Personally, I was pretty bored and I cannot imagine listening to this again. Just a metalhead's perspective, I guess.
Altaar: "Altaar"
And now for something completely different!
I'll just get to the point. Altaar is shoegaze. If you do not like shoegaze, this is where get out of this bus, and wait for the next one.
And for those that are still reading. OK, so, Altaar is not really just "shoegaze," it's a fresh-sounding, new-kids-in-town super, duper, cooper, over-the-top doom and gloom snail sloth music. Now, I know that recently I have been telling you about some death doom bands and other doom bands and all sorts of slow music.
Altaar is beyond funeral doom, beyond slow. Time stands still with this music. Altaar has pushed slow to the absolute limit. If they play any slower, it is because they all just went to sleep standing up onstage.
There are two songs. One is like 19 minutes and the other is some 14 minutes. Supposedly, there are rumors that somewhere in here, somewhere in these songs, there are vocals.
But you might miss them because you might fall asleep listening to this. I have not heard vocals on the first song, which is called "Tidi Kjem Aldri Att." (which means, "We hate having fun and we detest rock and roll and we just want to sleep all day and sleep all night. We hate life.")
And they wait some 4 and a half minutes before the vocals (punk-ish yell-growl) kick in during the second song, which has a long title, but it probably means that they do not like you and they do not like your stupid friends, either. And they think I'm stupid, too. They also hate themselves because they are stupid, too.
This second song has a bit of rocking.
That totally shocked me! I thought it was the end of the world that they did that!
Let's not get too excited, though, because they go right back to the super slow music and everything feels normal, good and happy (depressed) again.
Phew! I'm glad (depressed) that they did not get all uptempo and joyous.
You like slow, really slow music? Altaar is another band that you need, you must check out.
By the way, you might want to consider taking some medication. I think your family and friends are right about you. There is something going on with you and a bit of medication or maybe just talking to a therapist will help you. It's not normal (yes, normal) to sleep all day and sleep all night, you know? There is daylight for a reason.