Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Rise and Fall of Rock and Roll in the 1950s (The Blues and Heavy Metal, Part 4)

The Rise and Fall of Rock and Roll in the 1950s (The Blues and Heavy Metal, Part 4)
PART 1: The Blues and Heavy Metal, Part 1: The Rise of the Blues
PART 2: The Electric Blues, and Country Music (The Blues and Heavy Metal, Part 2)
PART 3: Rock and Roll in the 1940s (The Blues and Heavy Metal, Part 3)
Here is part 4 of the series The Blues and Heavy Metal.
The context of the 1950s
The Black struggle for equal rights in the 1950s intensifies. The symbol of the spirit of rebellion against racism is Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a Caucasian person. Parks’ gesture was part of an organized campaign against discrimination of which Martin Luther King, Jr. is the face.
The African-American struggle for equal rights is taking place in a world context. In the period after Second World War the colonies in Africa are waging various forms of struggles to become independent. The Chinese Revolution triumphs in 1949. Korea is fighting for independence. Vietnam is fighting for independence. The Cuban Revolution from 1956 until victory in 1959 brings down the Washington-backed Batista dictatorship.
There is a sense of hope and struggle amongst Black Americans and many Caucasians feel sympathetic to the just grievances of the fight for human rights for Blacks.
Rock and Roll
Rock and roll in the 1950s exists within the context of institutionalized racism and Jim Crow racial segregation, the second-class status of African-Americans in the United States instituted by law, force, violence, murder, lynching, custom, intimidation, police brutality, and so many other ways not only throughout the South, but in the country as a whole.
At the beginning of the 1950s the young beat of rock and roll is popular with African-American young people, and it is known at this time as “rhythm and blues.” The high energy and the irresistible beat of the music is appealing to a growing number of Caucasian youth, too, but given the social norms of this period, there is stigma for Caucasians to like music performed by Blacks.
As the story goes, a Caucasian record store owner in Cleveland, Ohio by the name of Leo Mintz notices that more and more Caucasian youth browse through the section of records by African-American rhythm and blues artists at his Record Rendezvous record store, even though at this time U.S. Caucasian youth are afraid to buy the “race records” of Black musicians.
Mintz befriends a Caucasian radio disc jockey named Alan Freed and talks to him about what he’s seeing at his record store. Mintz has a role in convincing Freed to begin playing these rhythm and blues records in 1951. Freed’s cool on-air personality and the combination of the exciting, youthful music makes his radio show a hit. Freed begins using the term “rock and roll” to describe the music that he’s playing on his show. His audience at first is made up of African-American youth, but his show becomes very popular with Caucasian teenagers, too.
Freed early on plays music like Varetta Dillard, whose style can be found on songs like “Easy, Easy Baby,” “Scorched,” and “That’s Why I Cry.” A song like “Scorched” is full of energy featuring a great singing voice. Another artist is The Dominoes (Bill Ward and His Dominoes): “Sixty Minute Man,” an upbeat, suggestive number; and Tiny Grimes and the Rockin’ Highlanders with “Blues Round Up,” a song that features quite a bit of guitar. Another example is the Paul Williams’ Hucklebuckers “Rockin’ Chair Blues” song, a lively, animated rock and roll tune.
Varetta Dillard - Scorched
Varetta Dillard - Easy, Easy Baby
The Dominoes: Sixty Minute Man
Tiny Grimes: Blues Round Up
Rockin' Chair Blues : Paul Williams' Hucklebuckers ( 1951 )
An interesting thing happens to rock and roll involving a Caucasian country musician and his band. Throughout the 1940s they have been working with some success as the Four Aces of Western Swing, and other names. This type of country music can often have a lively feel, but it is not rock and roll at all.
In the 1950s they take up the new name Bill Haley and His Comets and begin recording some rock and roll songs, marking a big shift in musical style now directed at teenagers.
In 1955 Haley and his band turn the American music world upside down with the song “Rock Around the Clock.” The genealogy of the song, as has been observed by knowledgeable people, is very interesting: the song verse is very similar to Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over” (1947), which itself is very similar to Charley “Father of the Delta Blues” Patton’s 1929 song “Going to Move to Alabama,” which itself is very similar to Jim Jackson’s 1927 song “Kansas City Blues.”
In any case, “Rock Around the Clock” is without a doubt a song that puts rock and roll in the mainstream in a big way. The song becomes a major international hit when it booms in the movie theaters in the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle, a movie that warns about the danger that teenagers pose to society because young people, it says, have a tendency towards criminal activity. The song itself is fun, but it is one thing to hear it on the radio by yourself at home at a normal volume, and it’s an entirely different experience when you hear it on the big speakers at the movie theater with many other young people who have been watching a movie about themselves. With Haley and band as the gateway, the American Caucasian youth take to rock and roll like fish to water.
Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & His Comets
With the success of Bill Haley and His Comets the businesspeople in the music industry are now smelling the money coming their way and their lust for more grows by leaps and bounds. It is said that the Sun Records bossman Sam Phillips, a Caucasian man who has been working with African-American artists, has been looking for a Caucasian artist that can perform this music with the original spirit of the Black performers so that he can make more money by selling it on a much bigger scale to Caucasians.
Soon he will find him: a 19-year-old young man.
In 1953 an unknown Caucasian truck driver begins recording songs at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee. One day in 1954 he records a cover of the African-American blues artist Arthur Crudup’ “That’s Alright, Mama” and immediately Memphis radio goes crazy for the song. From then on, Elvis mania spreads very quickly as Elvis goes on the road trying to but failing to satisfy the huge demand that there is for his music. The wheels of business are in motion and in January 1956 the debut album is released to madly incredible success.
The Caucasian youth go wild for rock and roll. It is impossible to overstate the importance of Elvis Presley. His music sells at an unthinkable rate, it is hit after hit. Haley was fun, but Elvis has a whole other level of cool due to his tremendous talent, his beautiful voice, his sexy dance moves, the newness of the music, his clothes, his hair, his way of talking, his gorgeous face, and his persona.
Another reason that Elvis is so cool is that he is very young, and millions of American, and British and European, post-World War II teenagers see him as one of their own. Bill Haley’s music is very nice, but he is 30 years in 1955, while Elvis is 20 years old in 1955, and Elvis most definitely does not look like a dad.
Bill Haley and Elvis Presley have opened flood gates. The rock and roll gold rush is on.
Elvis Presley.... Thats Alright (Mama)- First Release - 1954
Arthur Crudup - That's All Right (original version)
Rock and roll as international sensation is underway now with Bill Haley and His Comets, and Elvis Presley. In addition, the new sounds continue with Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ritchie Valens and others.
Some of these performers are totally wild. For instance, Little Richard was a complete maniac with his screaming voice and his way of playing piano. Jerry Lee Lewis seems to come unglued when he is performing. Chuck Berry plays guitar in an exciting way and moves with it all over the stage. Buddy Holly looks extremely young and besides the good tunes, just seems like he is one and the same with the young crowds. There is barely an age difference, if at all. All these rock stars have to be seen performing in order to be believed. Just the reaction by the fans has to be seen to be believed, too.
Little Richard Long Tall Sally - Tutti Frutti
Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls Of Fire
Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode
Rock and roll has taken over American popular music, but the authorities are very upset and alarmed by rock and roll. From the beginning, the government, politicians, religious figures and other authorities speak out against Elvis and rock and roll. Elvis causes a major uproar and the outrage seems to be based on morality, that his dance moves are immoral and indecent, but the real reason is that he is a Caucasian young man playing “Black music” and there is nothing more disgusting to the racist than to see their “own race” accepting, welcoming and embracing the culture of a “different race.”
It is a most racist impulse that is motivating the authorities’ rejection of the so-called immorality of rock and roll.
The preachers and politicians are alarmed at how the Caucasian young people are reacting to what they see as “Black music” and they are scared that the Caucasian youth are acting like Black people. Some authorities use the vilest most racist language to describe rock and roll and what they see as the degeneration of Caucasian youth.
Rock and roll has gained popularity in the 1950s, but rock and roll will not go out of the 1950s with a bang. It goes out with a whimper.
In 1958 Elvis is drafted into the U.S. Army in order to take him out of public life. The media does a lot to bring down the career of Jerry Lee Lewis’ as it makes it a scandal that he marries a cousin who is 13 years old while he is 22 years old. Little Richard leaves rock and roll and becomes a minister after he has some supernatural experiences. By 1959 Chuck Berry is in legal trouble and eventually goes to jail. As if that were not enough, in 1959 Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper all die in a plane crash, an event popularly known as “the day the music died.”
In addition, Alan Freed, the man called “the father of rock and roll,” is under federal investigation during what is known as the payola scandal. Essentially, Freed is found to be taking songwriting credit for some of the songs that he plays on the radio. His career is ruined by the government and it is said that he dies a broken man.
All good things come to an end. It’s no different for rock and roll. By the late 1950s rock and roll becomes a parody of itself and it begins to sound very coopted, not rebellious, and the popular songs sound funny and comical, like The Coasters’ “Charlie Brown” and its line “Why is everybody always picking on me?”
Rock and roll is now also softer, with more ballads, like Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulders”. In addition, rock and roll is coopted by people like Pat Boone, who specializes in taking Black artists’ songs and making them very tame, safe and Caucasian and this is all very much to the liking of the authorities, the corporations and the politicians. One listen to his version of the Little Richard song “Tutti Frutti” is enough to see that rock and roll is dead.
Or is it?
That is the subject of the next installment: the 1960s.
The Coasters "Charlie Brown"
Paul Anka - Put Your Head On My Shoulder (1959) HQ Audio
PAT BOONE on TV 1957 singing TUTTI FRUTTI little Richard

Saturday, August 18, 2018

interview: Morgengrau

Looking for a death metal album with songs that you can remember after the music stops? You don’t have to go look much further than the Texas, U.S. band Morgengrau and its 2018 album Blood Oracle, the follow-up to the 2013 debut Extrinsic Pathway. Check out this exchange with Erika (guitars, vocals) and don’t forget the links at the end of this interview.
Hi, who is answering this interview? Can you shed some light on the band, the process of putting Blood Oracle together and personnel involved in the recording?
This is Erika Morgengrau. Thanks for the opportunity to chat. The band is myself on guitar and vocals, Nick Norris on guitar, Jake Holmes on bass. Kevin Elrod played session drums.
The recording was done a bit piecemeal, as many bands must these days, due to schedules, costs and personal preference. We captured drums at Noisefarm Studios out in Paige, TX with engineer Gilles De Laval at the helm. Great guy, funny, kept us focused and we had some excellent “cranky old metalhead” heart to hearts during the process. Guitars and bass were tracked at Killertone Studios in Dripping Springs, TX. Studio owner Jason Frankhouser is a master of tone, so for me there was no other choice. Vocals were captured at home, in a closet. I produced, and we enlisted Harris Johns to mix and master. He produced Pestilence’s “Consuming Impulse” and Immolation’s “Dawn of Possession.” Those are seminal albums with a seminal sound, the foundations of modern death metal. How could we not want that pedigree for our album? Sophomore albums are very hard - you have to surpass expectations set by the first, but with the inevitable shifts and improvements to style which come while growing as a band, second albums sometimes come off as lost and unfocused. We’d brought our A-game to writing and staying stylistically focused, so we chose A-game support to complete the effort, all the way down to bringing in Nick Keller to do the art. We’re very pleased with how it all came out.
Is Blood Oracle a concept story? Is there a lyrical connection between Blood Oracle and 2013’s Extrinsic Pathway? How much of the external world in 2018 is in the lyrics?
“Blood Oracle" is a concept album that springs off tales started with “Grave of Lies” and “Antithetical” from “Extrinsic Pathway.” There are themes of hopelessness, struggle and the pain of waiting all throughout the album. We’ve all faced dark moments in our lives, struggled with indecision, and bargained for better outcomes, sometimes at great cost to ourselves, when we look back on things in hindsight. My hope is listeners will sense echoes of their own experience in the songs and lyrics, and resonate with them. Albums we can make our own stay with us forever. It is completely free of any references to the outside world: politics, state of the metal scene, environment, et cetera.
For people not familiar with Morgengrau, would you mind explaining your views on Morgengrau music and also the vocals? How do you do vocals (effects, mic cupping, intelligibility, etc.)?
We play death metal because we love it. We wanted to contribute positively to the genre. I can’t emphasize enough that to understand what we’re about means you need to listen to our music. Find a dark room, eliminate distractions. Spend time with the album, get out the headphones, just let it pull you along. Look at the cover art as you listen. Lose yourself.
You’ll find the whole album is a complete thought. Too many bands stitch riffs together with little regard for dynamics and flow. Sure, you can write a lot of songs that way, but are you writing memorable songs that catch on after just a few listens? I like music that breathes, that takes you on a path somewhere. I threw out many more riffs than I ended up using. The order of the songs and their tempos was important; the album needed to flow through each song and into the next in a way that felt natural. That’s why it took five years to write and record.
I knew the vocals, which you’ve zeroed in on, would make or break the songs. They had to be well done, honest, and natural. No mike cupping, no pitch shifting, just a dab of reverb and delay. Clear diction is important - unintelligible lyrics are difficult to connect with. The low tones in “Wolves of Thirteen” and “Incipit Bellum” are throat singing. I wanted to capture the esoteric magic present on albums like “Altars of Madness” and Deicide’s self-titled debut. Listeners needed to feel the emotion and be swept away by it. From the amount of positive feedback we’ve received, I’d say we were quite successful.
Continuing the above question, how does your philosophy apply to the instrumentation (guitars, drums, so on and so forth)?
Traditional, all the way. Six string guitars, a BC Rich V with Dimarzio Super Distortions and a custom Jackson King V with stock humbuckers. Nothing special, not even a Tube Screamer in the chain. Everything was amped through a Marshall 4080 and Harris did the rest. When you have Mr. Killertone doing captures and Harris mixing and EQing, you don’t need a raft of pedals to make it sound good. We love the warm, balanced tone on the album. It sounds good on every type of system - headphones, car, regular stereo… it’s perfect.
The drums are all real. Sure, we tweaked a few late strikes here and there but that’s nothing unusual. Kevin busted his ass laying down those tracks. He’s a tremendous talent. To make the bass stand out, I rewrote a lot of the lines right before recording to counterpoint the guitars. Bass tone is quite clean, very little distortion. Too many bands use super distorted bass playing the same riff as the guitar - what you get then is three guitars just sawing away and making a big muddy river of sound. Not only is it uncreative but it shows a lack of understanding of good songwriting and sonic field.
Would you care to offer your definition of success for Morgengrau?
Success is having people enjoy the album. That’s all I want. This was never about financial return. There is none, not when you’re bringing in the pros to help with the production. The best you can hope for is to keep the financial hemorrhage slightly under control. The payoff is producing something great that didn’t exist before. All of the above goals have been achieved. Worth every penny. We’re very happy with the support and distribution we get through Unspeakable Axe; having Eric to help us with “Blood Oracle” was a huge advantage over the DIY approach we used with “Extrinsic.”
How exhausting was the process of making the album? What are your thoughts about making more albums?
As far as next albums, I’m not sure. The process was very long and took a lot out of me. I don’t know how I could follow it up with something other than a continuation of the concept. That’s a tall order. I won’t say never, but at the moment, I feel like I’ve said what I needed to say and I’d rather invest my resources in other non-music endeavors for the near future.
Erika, you play guitars and do vocals, and have done different genres of vocals and singing with other projects and bands. How do you do it? Are you active in those other entities and do traditional, melodic singing, too? And you have written a novel?! How do you find the time?
As alluded to above, Morgengrau is on the shelf, especially since we don’t have a drummer for live appearances. I’m fine with that. I’m over playing the songs live. I found playing them very stressful. Singing live is fine. I’ve always got a classic hard rock or heavy metal cover band in play. Keeps my voice fresh. Right now, it’s Virgin Killers, doing Scorpions. I’ve done Iron Maiden and Dio cover bands in the past. It’s fun, same group of guys basically, we’re like a family after jamming together for over 13 years now.
I toy with the idea of doing a traditional style project where I can use my clean voice. There’s a lot of things I can do which people have never heard. Here’s something I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned in an interview - I can’t read music. AT ALL. I took 8 years of vocal training as a kid and, while I learned great technique and breath control, I just couldn’t sight read. It’s the strangest thing. To cover my deficiency, I learned to quickly to imitate the others in the choir so the teacher wouldn’t catch on. I believe that’s why I can sing in so many styles - I’m very good at imitating. I enjoy exploring the possibilities of voice. It’s a flexible and powerful tool, and no matter where you go, you have it with you to play with at any moment. It’s the perfect travel instrument.
In regards to time - yes, I like to be busy. My head is very noisy. I go through cycles - right now I’m in a “novel-writing, costume-making and cars” cycle. I have a bad tendency to start projects and not finish them. As I’ve aged, I’ve had to admit that focusing on a smaller number of things, doing them really well and finishing them is more important than having fifty little hobbies in play at a time. I’m always humming and listening to music, but writing songs isn’t very interesting to me right now.
How can fans of death metal give real, tangible support right now?
Get “Blood Oracle” in digital and CD from Unspeakable Axe’s Bandcamp. “Extrinsic” is available via the Morgengrau Bandcamp. Please buy a damn CD. I still have boxes and boxes! That’s it for merch - since we’re not playing live, shirts and patches are hard to move, so I’m holding on them. Depending on interest, we might do a vinyl later. Just buy a CD for now! Listen to the tunes, tell your friends if you like it, spread the word. Hail metal, hail death!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

NEWS: Today, August 14th, WEARY (by former members of Sacrament ov Impurity) Release Demo

WEARY is the new music by two former members of Sacrament ov Impurity (black metal). Weary is based in Mount Vernon, in the state of Washington, U.S.
This is a new recording and you can hear it in its entirety at the link below.

Rivers Of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name – Album Review by Matt Spall

[The following is a review by Matt Spall, a U.K.-based reviewer. He is active on Twitter and you can find the link to his Twitter account at the link below.]
Artist: Rivers Of Nihil
Album Title: Where Owls Know My Name
Label: Metal Blade Records
Date Of Release: 16 March 2018
I have been meaning to get around to reviewing this record for some time. I missed it completely when the promo was sent in advance of its release due to pressures with work and the fact that I was already behind with my reviews, having been faced with an extremely busy Spring release schedule. However, I knew that I had to come back to it at some point, because it is simply too good to miss out on the Man of Much Metal treatment, be that a good or a bad thing. I’ll let you decide.
Prior to this release, I knew literally nothing about Rivers Of Nihil. I like just about every non-core genre of metal, but it has to be something special for me to deliberately seek out new death metal bands as it isn’t at the top of my list of sub-genres. Having said that, if any of the Pennsylvanian band’s previous releases are anywhere near as good as this one, I’m surprised they passed me by for so long.
‘Where Owls Know My Name’ is the third full-length album from the American technical death metal band, having formed in 2009 and it is genuinely something to behold. I’m thinking that maybe some of my reticence to actually compose my review stems from the fact that, subconsciously, I find myself a little intimidated by this record. It is a beast, that’s for sure and it is hard to articulate the music satisfactorily in words.
What I think this record does so well, is it combines a complex, tightly-honed and uncompromising form of modern djent-inspired death metal, with something altogether more organic, inviting and esoteric. If the relentless bludgeoning of warp-speed blast beats and riffs can come across as slightly cold, these passages are interspersed with music that is much warmer, more tactile, more human. For my tastes, this is a magnetic combination.
What makes this album even more amazing is that these breaks in the extremity are almost entirely coloured by strong melodies and are then bathed in lush atmosphere. Clearly the Americans have been inspired by the likes of Pink Floyd and King Crimson in this regard, which is no bad thing. And then, they add in an element of strings and brass to further push the envelope. I’m not going to get into a debate here about my general apathy towards instruments like the trumpet or the saxophone because that’s a meaningless and fruitless discussion on this occasion. On ‘Where Owls Know My Name’, they sound perfectly at home and actually add something to the compositions that I like. Now there’s a turn up for the books.
You might be reading this thinking that it is all very well for Rivers of Nihil to merge the brutal with the beautiful, but it depends entirely on how these two seemingly disparate elements are fused. Well, on that score, let me assure you that there is minimal clumsiness or friction in this regard; there are times when the juxtaposition is quite stark, but that’s usually done deliberately by the band. Generally however, the transitions are undertaken with care and precision, meaning that the songs don’t sound clunky or contrived. In fact, there are times when you don’t even realise that the song has changed tack so dramatically.
In fact, as I listen more, I have realised that the dichotomy between all-out extremity and the quieter, more melodic passages are not quite as distinct as I first thought. Many of the brutal passages actually benefit from being underpinned by layers of atmospheric synths and inviting sounds. And, in some cases, they carry with them a certain groove or melody of their own – it’s not all chug, chug, growl here.
For example, ‘The Silent Life’ is carried away on a wonderfully groovy guitar riff from Brody Uttley and Jon Topore, whilst drummer Jared Klein batters his skins with alarming speed and precision. As the intensity drops away, it is replaced by soulful, bluesy guitar notes, complimented by a resonant saxophone which toys around the edges of jazz. Underneath, the bass of Adam Biggs dances playfully and exuberantly.
Then there’s ‘A Home’, which is actually just as melodic and enticing whilst attempting to blow your ears off. The opening lone guitar is dirty but instantly enjoyable but it isn’t long until the bludgeoning technicality begins and we’re swept up in something thoroughly bruising but incredibly epic-sounding. That said, there are some exquisite quieter passages that cleverly enlist the use of an acoustic guitar, intriguing tones and clean vocals.
And that’s another aspect of Rivers Of Nihil that I really like – the variety within the vocals on this record. Everything from ravaged screams, to guttural growls, to a deep clean timbre are deployed for maximum effect at various points within the album. For this, Jake Dieffenbach requires a lot of credit, even if bassist Biggs is also involved to assist behind the microphone.
There are great compositions throughout this record, from ‘Old Nothing’ where Klein engages his hyperdrive button to his drumkit, to ‘Terrestria III: Wither’, an theatrical, filmscore-esque instrumental that blends man-made electronic sounds with more authentic instrumentation to create something that is quite ethereal at points and heavy, uncomfortable and dystopian-sounding at others.
The ending section of ‘Hollow’, with a flamboyant and melodic lead guitar solo is fantastic, as is ‘Subtle Change (Including The Forest Of Transition)’, which lets go in carefree fashion and indulges in pure, all-out 70s prog-rock worship, complete with traditional keyboard effects, not to mention an extended wistful saxophone solo that straddles the quieter and heavier passages rather skilfully.
However, my favourite moments of ‘Where Owls Know My Name’ come towards the very end, courtesy of the title track and closer, ‘Capricorn/Agoratopia’.
The former begins with a demonstrably solemn, dark and broody Katatonia vibe before heading for more extreme sonic climes. However, the brutality plays more of a supporting role, allowing the sense of suffocating atmosphere and dark melody to take the lead. The short-lived layered vocals that appear at the 3:39 mark are extremely beguiling, as is the serene outro.
‘Capricorn/Agoratopia’ on the other hand, is a very different proposition, but is the perfect way to end such an impressive record. As with the title track, it starts off quietly, deliberately building the suspense and sense of anticipation, teasing us as it goes through the gears before finally pummelling the listener with a final bout or two of extremity. And then, at the five-minute point, everything goes quiet for a few seconds before the song returns with an epic, rousing and spine-tingling crescendo that I only wish lasted longer before closing gently and majestically. As powerful as the music is, it is only enhanced by the sense of hope and positivity that courses through it – it’s a heady conclusion to an intense album, one that has impressed me no end every time I listen to it. I might be a little early to say, but ‘Where Owls Know My Name’ will almost certainly claim a spot in my end-of-year ‘best of’ list. Indeed, from where I’m sitting right now, it has a fighting chance of being crowned my favourite death metal album of 2018.
The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5

Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros – Album Review by Matt Spall

[The following is a review by Matt Spall, a U.K.-based reviewer. He is active on Twitter and you can find the link to his Twitter account at the link below.]
Artist: Tomorrow’s Eve
Album Title: Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Label: Baze Records
Date Of Release: 27 April 2018
Every now and again, I am prone to a bit of a faux-pas. I’m human after all, so it wouldn’t be right if my site was perfect, would it?! The big error on my part this time concerns the latest effort from Tomorrow’s Eve, the German progressive metal band that brought us the monstrously huge ‘Mirror Of Creation II – Genesis 2’ back in 2006.
Given that ‘Mirror Of Creation II – Genesis 2’ was so good and given that fans have waited 12 long years for a follow-up to the concept that featured on that record, you might be wondering why it took me so long to get around to reviewing it. The truth is, I don’t really know. Admittedly, I was beginning to fall behind the curve thanks to a huge influx of new releases and the commencement of a new career. But still, you’d have thought that I’d have made time to bring you my thoughts on this highly-anticipated new record, the first from the band in a decade. But, simply put, I screwed up. After my initial excitement and flurry of early listens, I somehow forgot about it and am only now putting pen to paper having realised my mistake.
What makes the error so much more difficult to fathom is the fact that I really liked what I heard back when I first got hold of a promo. In fact, there was one big thing that struck me from the beginning and which continues to make an impact on me: the heaviness of this record.
All too often, progressive metal has a tendency to err on the lighter side of heavy, where melodies and technicality threaten to dilute the raw power of a genre that, by its very nature, shouldn’t always be all sweetness and light. But Tomorrow’s Eve certainly redress the balance here, as this record is aggressive as hell. This is what I’d call ‘proper’ progressive metal, an amalgamation of strength, complexity and enough melody to keep things interesting.
The tone of the guitars is something that is rather intoxicating to me and makes this record easily the heaviest of the bands’ career to date. Rainer Grund’s performance offers a gratifying crunch that resonates and sends tingles up and down my spine time and again. Anyone who likes interesting riffs that deliver on the metal quota will no doubt lap this album up, just like I do.
However, it isn’t just the guitars that impress. The eleven tracks are boosted by the appearance of Mike LePond (Symphony X) on the bass, who is his usual professional and talented self, enhanced by a production that allows his pulsating, intricate bass work to be sufficiently heard within the mix. The drumming of Jon Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, TNT, Labyrinth, Ark) is equally meaty and dextrous too, adding a commanding spine to the music. The ubiquitous keys are present and correct, Oliver Schwickert liberally dusting the tracks with various tones and textures to wonderful effect, creating depth and atmosphere in the process.
The final ingredient in this edifying recipe is vocalist Martin LeMar (Mekong Delta, Lalu), who brings the latest chapter in the ‘Mirror of Creation’ concept to life. Angry, contemplative, introspective, spiteful – he manages to capture them all and more in an assured and diverse performance throughout, perfect for breathing life into the involved and ambitious lyrical content within ‘Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros’. Not being the biggest fan of Mekong Delta, I must admit that I am always a little surprised by just how good Martin LeMar sounds within the Tomorrow’s Eve environs.
It is almost impossible to single out any of the eleven tracks on this record for specific praise because they are all very good compositions, with plenty going on within each of them, be it a big, hook-laden chorus, an expansive lead guitar solo, a monstrous riff, an engaging rhythm or an emotional vocal performance. Then there are the swathes of keys that soften a few of the rougher edges and provide plenty of rich atmosphere to the music. They never get in the way, but they are an integral ingredient within the Tomorrow’s Eve sound. Given that this album is around xx minutes in length, this consistency is hugely impressive; I expected a filler or two, but I have been proven wrong.
However, I realise that the previous paragraph could be viewed by many as a cop-out. As such, allow me to pick out a few specific highlights within ‘Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros’:
The aptly-named ‘Welcome To The Show’ opens the disc with a suitably grandiose, cinematic introduction, before a no-nonsense uncompromising riff takes over and lays down the gauntlet. From that point on, the song delivers a heady blend of crunching guitar work, atmospheric keys and a larger-than-life chorus that just gets stronger the more I listen to it. I repeat: this is properly heavy and expansive prog metal, underlined by the chugging, start-stop riff at the four-minute mark that is simply wonderful, transitioning smoothly into another cinematic segment. The track then ends in quieter, more subtle fashion, led by vocals and tinkling keys, further reinforcing the effortless variety that Tomorrow’s Eve manage to bring to the party.
You wanted heavy? Then allow me to introduce you to ‘Morpheus’, an epic bulldozer of a song full of roiling menace and dark lyricism, only to open up into another huge, all-encompassing chorus that captures the imagination and gets me singing along. I know I’ve mentioned the word ‘riff’ extensively thus far, but the riff that enters at the 4:18 point is something truly special, full of strength and a certain amount of headbang-worthy malevolence – it’s just so good!
‘Bread and Circuses’ ups the pace and gallops along for the most part in a similar vein to the most powerful of power metal, whilst also injecting a sense of theatre and variation within its five-minute length. ‘Imago’ by contrast is a chunky, meaty affair that shares a few similarities with Kamelot in terms of the sounds it explores and the atmosphere that it creates.
As you might have noticed, I’ve essentially referred to the first four songs on the album. But that’s no accident as I stand wholeheartedly by my statement that ‘Project Ikaros’ simply doesn’t contain any fillers and the standard remains extremely high throughout.
As such, I could go on. But instead, I’ll conclude at this point and instead invite all you progressive metal fans to let Tomorrow’s Eve into your life. If you like your music to be complex and challenging, whilst at the same time able to tell a story and then get your blood pumping with genuine crunch and heaviness, then this is the record for you. Honestly, this is a complete no-brainer and a reminder that intelligent music can still pack a real punch. As such, it comes with the highest possible recommendation from the Man of Much Metal.
The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5

Sunday, August 12, 2018

interview: Artizan

The veteran melodic heavy metal band Artizan (Florida, U.S.) in 2018 has a new album called Demon Rider, their fourth full-length. The new work features a tightly-packed 33 minutes of classic-style hooks and melodies that are instantly successful, and a whole range of headbanging riffs, and songs with the beautiful singing for which Artizan is known. Here is an exchange that took place between this publication and drummer Ty Tammeus.
I have heard your new album Demon Rider a bunch of times now. Very nicely done! Another catchy work, for sure. I’m embarrassed to ask because I feel like I am supposed to know this, but are all the Artizan albums connected by a concept? All the artwork seems linked by a certain dystopian futuristic vibe? What happened to the main character, the young man on the cover of Curse of the Artizan and The Furthest Reaches? Did he die on the previous album?! He’s not on the cover anymore.
We have written one concept album so far The Furthest Reaches. Although all of the albums are not directly related, conceptually, you probably notice a theme in my writing. Since I write all of the lyrics, you will notice I that I write from a generally positive viewpoint, especially when it comes to all of us who are the dreamers. I have a fondness for these people. I think our music best relates to them. And maybe that’s you! I can tell you there is some plans for more concept albums, but I cannot reveal too much now. The Artizan character on the cover of The Furthest Reaches most certainly did not die. You will notice on the lyrics of the last song that he embarks on a journey into space – taken aboard the craft of ‘The Keepers’, who are the aliens that return to Earth after hearing the alarm set off by Mother Earth. His journey may just be beginning. The Artizan character is our mascot, and we will definitely see him again.
Who played on the album and who is in the band in 2018? I think that Jim Morris was the producer on the previous album. I like the sound of Artizan albums; you can hear everything well. Did you work with Jim Morris again? Do you record in Florida and the bands is based in Florida, right? In Jacksonville, home of the Jaguars?!
The band is the same as before except my bassist, Jon, was not able to do the recordings because they were having a baby. Jon has three sons now so his hands were quite full. I had met Joey Vera (Fates Warning) when we toured with them. I sent Joey the demos of the new album and he agreed to do the recordings. So he is a special guest on Demon Rider. I have always considered him one of the greatest bass players. So this is a really special performance for us. It sounds incredible. I have worked with Jim Morris since 1991. We have a long career together. We do record all of the albums with Jim, here in Florida. He has an incredible wealth of experience that he brings to our music, taking our songs to another level with his special touch. Yes, we are home of the Jacksonville Jaguars!
Has Artizan gone over to the dark side of The Force at this point?!!! “Demon Rider” sounds like an evil title and the first two songs have a very sinister imagery. “The Hangman” seems like the brother of the “Demon Rider.” Did the Demon Rider and The Hangman take over the dystopia? It seems like the guitars are emphasizing a bit more bite this time around. Does it seem to you that you have a bit more of a heavier sound or this is all by pure coincidence? Has the tuning of the guitars changed? Are you using different guitars from the past?
The songs “Demon Rider” and “The Hangman” are separate stories. Although they both seem dark, I think with the aggressiveness of the guitars, Demon Rider is a positive good over evil story, whereas The Hangman is about all of the bad things you do to people ultimately catching up with you. We did go into this album with a heavier, more aggressive attitude. This is a little more straight forward but still has slightly progressive elements woven in. I’m not exactly sure of the actual tuning of the guitars, but I do know that we only double tracked guitars this time instead of stacking four tracks like we had always done. It is a heavier final product!
Have you decided to make videos for any songs? My vote for the first video is “Soldiers of Light.” That song is a good illustration of the heavier side of the new album, paired up with the melodies of the chorus, it is a very catchy tune, but really the whole album is very good. Nowadays bands have to be active on media, otherwise people might forget. What is your plan for videos and lyric videos? You probably have plenty of band photos and some live footage that could be used in some way at least for lyric videos. Have you been streaming any songs from the album so far? If so, where?
We have released really cool lyric video for “The Hangman” which people are finding pretty amazing. It showcased the incredible artwork I had made for this song. It was created by the same artist who did the Demon Rider painting, Eliran Kantor. We will also be realizing a very nice lyric video for “Soldiers of Light,” which is personally, my favorite track on the new album. We are streaming the songs from Demon Rider on Spotify and I encourage the fans to search for Artizan there.
To me, the album is the first five songs and 33 minutes. To me, that is a good amount of time for this album. It leaves people wanting more. So, was it the record company’s idea to add extra tracks that are not new songs but alternate and live versions of old songs? Is there pressure to make albums that are 60 minutes long?!
That was exactly my intention: to have the album full of quality material – every song as important as the previous; quality over quantity, with no filler material. So your point to this is exactly what we were striving for. We like to make a limited edition of the album available to our core fans, so I chose this extra content of the live songs and the Harry Conklin bonus track.
For new people that are reading. This band has been around for 10 years now, right? In your own words, after doing this music for that long, and longer, if you count the roads traveled to get to Artizan, what motivates the music of Artizan and what is Artizan all about, musically speaking, the way that you see it? Why do you go through the work involved in making music?
This is a great question. There are many times when I was met with challenges that made me question continuing. I think most passionate, creative people encounter this. Ultimately, if you have a burning desire that motivates you to carry on, it won’t leave you alone, and you find some way to complete your vision. Our music is really about possibilities. If you have a vision; a concise dream, that won’t leave you alone, I believe if you simply do one thing every day, moving you forward to that dream, it is obtainable. We are about the dreamers and what we are capable of. Music touches everyone in some way most every day. I believe that music, but more specifically, creativity, is life. Without creativity a piece if me would simply stop living and thriving. But it is seriously hard work that takes dedication and sacrifices.
Can give some places for people to hear your previous albums? What merchandise do you have at the moment? Can you tell us about the Artizan Armada?
So yeah, definitely put us on your playlist on Spotify and iTunes. Make sure to go to Artizanmetal.com and order the limited edition or standard CD, vinyl and the very limited new T-Shirts. And join the Artizan Armada, an exclusive fan club that gives you access to some free merchandise giveaways and early access to our new albums. We had many Armada members pre-order the new album and the limited edition is almost sold out! Join the Artizan Armada!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Eskhaton (review by MMB)

release date: June 20th, 2018
label: Lavadome Productions
While some people go around talking about how variety is the spice of life and how combining genres is cool and everybody’s happy crazy go lucky snappy in the brave new world of no-genre multi-genre hodgepodge, Eskhaton chooses a much more focused approach with a single-mindedness of purpose that is attractive and the sound to match the mission chosen.
Brutal religious practices, a state of war and conflict, violence as a way of life and humanity preying on humanity are the norm in this barbarian realm. Therefore, in this perspective, the music should be as heinous as the murderous methods employed by the ruling classes to oppress and humiliate throughout history.
In the alleyways and dark corners where this music lurks what matters is maximum aural frenetic intensity harnessed for the objective of high-speed chaotic songs that take sounds to the very edge allowed by the limits of having a human, mortal body. There’s no two ways about it: this will sound like a complete warp-speed blur on the first couple of listens. This band wants that. They need it. It is only after the mind grasps on to something—a whammy bar sound, a guitar lick, a riff, a drumming pattern, anything!—that you can hope to enter this otherwise impenetrable fortress.
Polishing up and sanitizing the recording to make it as clean as possible to achieve a computerized and robotized work is the antithesis of this album.
Cavernous growling.
Blasting overwhelming.
This barbaric bestial, this death metal!

interview: Parius

PARIUS is a young band making an effort to give their progressive music a bit of their own unique flavor, with various sides that make these Americans a headache for people who like to put music in neat genres. Parius is something like a bull in a china shop. That, or maybe, a crazy kid running around with a bunch of money in a big candy store and eating up as much sugar as possible. This publication’s questions were answered by Louis Thierry, the growler, screamer, vocalist in charge of the microphone for Parius, from Philadelphia. Their new album is called The Eldritch Realm.
Metal Bulletin Zine here. Good job on your second album The Eldritch Realm! How is life for Parius in 2018 in the city of the Super Bowl champions? The second album is all done, what is next for Parius for 2018 and 2019?
Hello, Metal Bulletin! Thank you very much, it was the product of a lot of hard work and time, and we couldn't be happier! The reception we're receiving is both overwhelming and very humbling. Winning the super bowl managed to tide us over until the album dropped. I think most of the trash from that night is almost cleaned up. Plans for the future include ramping up our show playing, working on getting more interesting merchandise for fans, and figuring out what our next project will be!
How much live work have you done in your area? Is it your plan to tour?
During our time as a band we've played a fair number of shows. Nothing too impressive, but we aren't new to playing live or anything. We've mainly played shows around the Philadelphia area. We venture outside of that occasionally, but not too often. We'd like to expand our reach to more of the East Coast. Anything farther than that will take some time. Touring is a dream, but for now it'll have to stay a dream. Most of our members have too many commitments to consistently tour, but some day down the line it could be a possibility. If the want is there.
How old are you all at this point? The picture in Metal Archives shows a teenage band.
Most of us are in our early twenties. Dan Silver, the drummer, is still a teenager at 19. Hah, yea, that picture is very old. I think we were all between the ages of 15-17 at that point. Maybe I should contact them and ask them to update it!
The first demo is from 2011 and the band began in 2011, right? What did you sound like back then?
Our first demo is indeed from 2011. It was called Demo-n. Very hilarious right? I thought so at the time at any rate. The band also formed sometime that year. We started completely from scratch. I'd say it was closer to The Black Dahlia-style death metal. We were all very into them at the time and it reflected heavily in our music.
Why were there were four years from the demo to the debut in 2015.
Saturnine was actually complete/mostly complete for a while before we released it. I went away to a different school for a while and it held up the completion of the record. aside from that we had just been playing shows and writing songs until we felt like we had enough material to record an album.
How were things going in 2015/16 after the album? How did people react to the album?
We would play shows around the area, but nothing too crazy. Reaction the Saturnine was lukewarm. I don't remember it well, but I don't think we knew how to effectively market the album. It was also and album made by mostly 16-18 year old kids and was largely derivative of bands we liked at the time. We finance all our work ourselves. Around 2016 Ryan, our guitarist, was working on Let There Be Light; our EP that came out in 2017.
Now here we are in 2018 with The Eldritch Realm. It’s quite the trippy album. Is there an overall horror story?
There is one overall story to the album! The Eldritch Realm started with me wanting to make a Twilight Zone-style story (hence the name). Since each episode is tied to a theme I wanted mine to be the idea of being caught in a circle and stuck on the day to day grind; finding it hard to break out.
The story follows a man with eternal life as he journeys to retrieve his mortal soul guided by the Black Moon, Lilith. He begins by contemplating the nature of his situation and sets off to see what lies beyond this realm and into the next; dealing with the answers he finds while being hindered by a cosmic force.
Have you always had in mind a genre-crossing type of music?
I think our first big genre-crossing was in “Another Kind of Reckoning” (2017) towards the end of the song we have a black metal inspired part. That helped us begin to really think about genre mixing. That and I try to listen to a diverse range of music, which is constantly giving me ideas to incorporate into our music. Ryan and I usually bounce some pretty crazy stuff off each other. I tend to go for the wackiest ideas. Not all of them are good, and not all of them make it through the band trial! But most of us are into prog metal and are every open to doing some wild stuff.
Has your vocalist always wanted to do different styles?
For one reason or another I really fell in love with metal vocals and all the other weird noises people can produce with their mouths. During the writing of The Eldritch Realm I was certainly wanting to experiment to create a lot of variety. I wanted some Dimmu Borgir spoken screaming/pitched speech. I wanted Devin Townsend style yelling. Southern-sounding yelling, trilled r's, choir singing, you name it. Not everything turned out as originally imagined. A lot of testing goes on in the studio. Many influences have inspired my vocals and sometimes Chris Kelly (our producer) and Ryan help me out. They help with harmonies and Chris is heavily featured at the end of “The Binding.”
What is the situation for the band nowadays? Do you have merch for your fans?
We're just working away on this release, expanding our live presence, and thinking ahead to our next project! We aren't currently signed to a label and don't have any plans to be right now. We want to concentrate on crafting our sound, and improving our live performance. We don't want to get tied up in contracts. We distribute our album on Bandcamp! We sell both digital and physical formats and stream anywhere streaming can be done! We are currently looking into making vinyls of the album.
Right now our merch is pretty bare bones, but we are working on getting some more quality goods out there. We have 2 types of t-shirts.
Is there anything else that you want to mention?
We'll be playing a few dates in late August/early September in the Philly/New York/Connecticut area, so keep your eyes peeled!
I wanted to thank Metal Bulletin for taking interest in the band and for taking the time to talk to us. Don't forget to pick up your copy of The Eldritch Realm from our Bandcamp. Happy listening!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Washington state concert calendar, updated August 6, 2018

Friends in the state of Washington,
Is there a metal music show in your area that is not listed in this calendar? Does your local metal band have a show coming up and is not listed here? Is your band's name spelled incorrectly? Are the dates wrong? If you have information about shows/updates/cancellations, please get in contact with Metal Bulletin zine.
Washington state concert calendar, updated August 6, 2018
August 6 Thou Shall Kill, Orator at Substation, Seattle, WA
August 7 Summer Slaughter Tour at Showbox, Seattle, WA
August 7 Novereign, Railgun, Weaponlord, Nasty Bits at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 7 Metal Yoga at The Shakedown, Bellingham, WA
August 7 Filth, others at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
August 9 Mortuous, Torture Rack, Crurifragium, Cerebral Rot at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 9 Pathology, Within Destruction, Parasitic Ejaculation at Club Sur Rocks, Seattle, WA
August 9 Usnea, Amarok, Isenordal at Lo-Fi, Seattle, WA
August 10 Pathology, Within Destruction, Parasitic Ejaculation, Transcribing the Necronomicon, Cold Hearts, Xingaia at The Pin, Spokane, WA
August 10 Descent, Metaphoria, Vesuvian at Tony V’s, Everett, WA
August 10 Night Demon, Blood Star, Demon Hammer at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 10 Aethereus, Theories, Blood and Thunder, Xoth at Airport Tavern, Tacoma, WA
August 10 Pestilent Death, Insineratenymn, Kömmand at Black Lodge, Seattle, WA
August 10 Dilapidation, Shrine of the Serpent, Heathen Washington at The Valley, Tacoma, WA
August 10 Mortuous at McCoy’s, Olympia, WA
August 11 Aethereus, Zan, Odyssey at Checkerboard Bar, Spokane, WA
August 11 Elder, Serial Hawk, Witch Ripper, Summoned by Giants at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 11 Effluvia, others at Safe House, Tacoma, WA
August 14 Plague Bearer, Draghkar, Tyrants from Hell, Dilapidation at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
August 15 CKY, Slaves, Royal Thunder, Awaken I Am, Darkness Stole the Sky at Club Sur Rocks, Seattle, WA
August 16 Insect Ark, Eye of Nix, Belus, Forest of Grey at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 17 Vintersea, Apophis Theory, Somewhere Between at The Heavy Metal Brewing Co., Vancouver, WA
August 17 Eyehategod, Florida Man at Tony V’s, Everett, WA
August 17 The Accüsed AD at Slim’s Annual Hillbilly Headbanger’s, Seattle, WA
August 18 Expain, Xingaia, Ghostblood, Ergo I Exist at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
August 18 Theories, Succumb, Pyrrhon at Black Lodge, Seattle, WA
August 18 Hell’s Belles (AC/DC tribute) at Southwest Washington Fair, Chehalis, WA
August 18 Nocturnal Mayhem at Safe House, Tacoma, WA
August 19 Metal Yoga at The Shakedown, Bellingham, WA
August 19 Alice Cooper at Angel of the Winds, Everett, WA
August 20 Powerglove, Xoth, Anthrocene, Drägorhast, Orator at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
August 20 Apotheon, Aethereus, Enigma, Increate, Odyssian at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
August 21 Batushka, Addaura at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 22 Lamb of God, Napalm Death, The Accused AD at Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
August 22 Bewitcher, Substratum, Kömmand at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 22 Armed for Apocalypse, Deathbed Confessions at The Observatory, Spokane, WA
August 23 Heiress, Great Falls, Kihalas, Deep Tissue, Ox Hunger at Highline, Seattle, WA
August 24 Oxygen Destroyer, Effluvia, Postulous, Without Chemicals He Points at The Plaid Pig, Tacoma, WA
August 24 Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, Napalm Death at White River Ampitheatre, Auburn, WA
August 26 Dead Crown, others at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
August 26 Wet Temple, Opropos, Witch Ripper, Noceur at Karate Church, Bellingham, WA
August 27 DTI, Vile Effigy at Substation, Seattle, WA
August 28 Uada, Wormwitch at The Pin, Spokane, WA
August 29 Void King at Central Saloon, Seattle, WA
August 31 Hell’s Belles (AC/DC tribute) at Snoqualmie Casino, Snoqualmie, WA
August 31 Urðr, Armed for Apocalypse at Hi-Fidelity Lounge, Bremerton, WA
September 1 Armed for Apocalypse, Deathbed Confessions at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
September 2 Avoid, Monsters Scare You, For the Likes of You, As Pillars Fall, Break the Oath, others at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 3 Vicious Rumors, others at The Pin, Spokane, WA
September 4 The Exploited, Total Chaos, others at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 5 Vicious Rumors, Niviane, Jesus Wears Armani, Half a Shadow at Club Sur Rocks, Seattle, WA
September 6 Sorxe, Serial Hawk, Witch Ripper, Grim Earth at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
September 8 Effluvia, Oxygen Destroyer, Disease, others at Le Voyeur, Olympia, WA
September 8 Xoth, Blood and Thunder, Ghostblood, Progenitor at Tony V’s, Everett, WA
September 8 Drug of Choice, Emanon, End Status at The Plaid Pig, Tacoma, WA
September 8 American Wrecking Company at Hard Rock Cafe, Seattle, WA
September 9 Unleash the Archers, Striker, Helion Prime at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 11 Mincefest 2018 at Lucky Liquor, Tukwila, WA
September 14 Splitskull, The Crüd Güns, Exiled to Fire, Darkness Stole the Sky, Infernal Realm, Religicide at The Charleston, Bremerton, WA
September 15 Speaks in Tongues, The Crüd Güns, DTI, others at The Valley, Tacoma, WA
September 15 The Accused AD at Bainbridge Island Private Party
September 15 Northwest Tribfest at Historic Everett Theater, Everett, WA: tribute bands Dr. Crue, Infinity Project (Journey), Second Sting (Scorpions), Almost Human (Kiss)
September 15 Obscura, Beyond Creation, Archspire, Inferi, Exist, Aethereus at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 17 Alestorm, GloryHammer at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 19 Woe, Wvrm, Isenordal, Impulse Noise at Highline, Seattle, WA
September 20 Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity, Moonspell, Omnium Gatherum, Blood and Thunder, Convergence at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 21 Wiegedood, Addaura at Highline, Seattle, WA
September 22 Coven, Disciples of Dissent, others at Wally’s House of Booze, Wenatchee, WA
September 22 Hell’s Belles (AC/DC tribute) at Swinomish Casino & Lodge, Anacortes, WA
September 26 Angra, Scarlet Aura, Forsaken Fortress at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 26 Wintersun, NeObliviscaris, others at Club Sur Rocks, Seattle, WA
September 27 Kingdom Come, Zero Down, others at Club Sur, Seattle, WA
September 27 Whythre, Born Without Blood, others at Substation, Seattle, WA
September 28 Dominus Sabbata (Black Sabbath tribute) at Rocko’s Fireside, Everett, WA
September 28 Pallbearer, Tribulation at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
September 29 The War Within, Corvoid, Metaphoria at Darrell’s Tavern, Seattle, WA
October 2 Incantation, Dying Fetus, Gatecreeper, Genocide Pact at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
October 3 Graham Bonnet Band, Zero Down at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
October 4 Revocation, Exhumed, Rivers of Nihil, Yautja at The Pin, Spokane, WA
October 5 Revocation, Exhumed, Rivers of Nihil, Yautja at Highline, Seattle, WA
October 5 Oxygen Destroyer, Gravewitch, Progenitor at McCoy’s Tavern, Olympia, WA
October 6 The Accused AD, Zero Down at The Plaid Pig, Tacoma, WA
October 9 Satan, Substratum, Skelator at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
October 9 Carach Angren, Mors Principium Est, Wolfheart, Empyrean, Blood and Thunder at Club Sur Rocks, Seattle, WA
October 13 Hatebreed, Miss May I, Ringworm at Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
October 14 Cognizant, Rottenness, Impulse Noise, Seizure at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
October 15 Enemy Soil, Antigama, Violent Opposition, Treasonist, The Drip at Funhouse, Seattle, WA
October 15 Paradise Lost, Sólstafir, The Atlas Moth at Neumos, Seattle, WA
October 15 Gwar, Hatebreed, Miss May I, Ringworm, American Sharks at Showbox, Seattle, WA
October 18 Steve Grimett’s Grim Reaper at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
October 21 Hell’s Belles (AC/DC tribute) at Tulalip Casino, Marysville, WA
October 21 Windhand, Satan’s Satyrs at Neumos, Seattle, WA
October 24 Captured by Robots, The Drip, others at The Big Dipper, Spokane, WA
October 25 Danzig, Venom Inc., Power Trip, Mutoid Man at Showbox, Seattle, WA
October 27 Method 13, Arisen from Nothing, The War Within, No Such Season at Madison Pub, Everett, WA
October 27 Hell’s Belles (AC/DC tribute) at Jazzbones, Tacoma, WA
October 29 Trivium, Avatar at Showbox, Seattle, WA
October 31 Trivium at Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
October 31 After the Burial, The Acacia Strain, After the Fallout at Club Sur Rocks, Seattle, WA
November 2 Second Sting (Scorpions tribute) at Tulalip Casino, Marysville, WA
November 4 Mac Sabbath at Jazzbones, Tacoma, WA
November 9 Arsis, Decrepit Birth, Internal Bleeding, Pyrexia, Angelmaker, Within Destruction at Club Sur Rocks, Seattle, WA
November 9 Neck of the Woods at Eagles 2485, Kennewick, WA
November 10 Dilapidation, Oxygen Destroyer, Effluvia, Drawn and Quartered at The Valley, Tacoma, WA
November 12 Raven, Hatchet at The Pin, Spokane, WA
November 13 Korpliklaani, Arkona at El Corazón, Seattle, WA
November 16 Underoath at Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
November 20 Behemoth, At the Gates, Wolves in the Throne Room at Showbox, Seattle, WA
December 28 Zoso (Led Zeppelin tribute) at Knitting Factory, Spokane, WA
May 30-June 1 Northwest Terrorfest at Neumos/Highline/Barboza, Seattle, WA
Metal Bulletin Zine
P.O. Box 1339
Lake Stevens WA 98258 USA

Saturday, August 4, 2018

interview: Lords of the Trident

Lords of the Trident is the most metal band in the universe, and the universe is scared of the infinite power of this band and their handsomeawesomeness. The lords of the rings and the lords of the flies and the lords of war have nothing—nothing, you hear!—on the Lords of the Trident. The latest chapter of the endless cycle of renewal is called Shadows from the Past. The Lords granted this publication an exclusive opportunity to do an interview. The band promises that they will never, ever again do an interview as long as they shall live in this life or the next or the one after that one, unless another publication requests an interview, in which case they will also grant another interview, but if they do not, then they won’t. Join the crusade of steel and iron!
Greetings, Lords! How is your Kingdom of Madisson von Wiskonssin? Who are the current knights of the round table, My Lords?
Hello! The Madison life is still fabulous, as we continue to rule over the city with an iron fist. The denizens of Madison live with equal fear and respect of their Lords. In essence - Life’s good!
The current lineup is as follows: Fang VonWrathenstein (me! Lead Vocals) and Asian Metal (Lead Guitar) are the last remaining original members, and we’ve been around since the dawn of time. Pontifex Mortis (Lead Bass) is the second oldest member, as he’s been in the band for around 8 years now. Baron Tauren Helleshaar (Lead Guitar) has been in the band for 3 years, and Master Hercule “Herc” Schlagzeuger (Lead Drums) has been in the band for about 1.5 years. He’s the youngin’.
The Lords have been working hard to improve on everything and it shows. The Lords have been active for ten years, right? Did you find a brave soul to take on your mighty music of steel, My Lords?
Thank you! We’ve been active far longer than 10 years, but took a short 750-year hiatus after our ill-fated 1342 European tour (now labeled the “black plague tour” due to the ill-advised promotions of a “free rat” with every ticket purchased), and reemerged in 2008. So 10 years since then, I suppose! We record all of our albums ourselves in our cavernous studio situated in the Mohorovičić discontinuity, 13.5 miles beneath the Earth’s crust. We had to move down here to prevent earthquakes when we broke a string. Our last three albums have been mixed by the stalwart Doug Olson, engineer for the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Cheap Trick. For mastering, we’ve had Dan Harjung at the helm. He’s worked with Megadeth, Robert Plant, and many other fantastic artists before. It took us a while to find reliable mortals to work with, as many engineers would die from exposure to our raw, unmixed material.
Back in 2008 and 2009 the Lords were doing everything by themselves, campaigning amongst the peasants and subjects in the Kingdom of Madisson von Wiskonssin and the Lords roamed the realm with swords, chains and fire. What is the situation for the band in 2018? Is Junko Johnson your own label, My Lords?
The situation is very much the same, although now we bring a minion army in our wake just about everywhere we go! We try to DIY as much as possible, because although we pillage every village we do battle in, sometimes the gold we find just isn’t enough for lavish things like music videos, shirts, and ...you know, food. We also enjoy getting our hands dirty - both during battle AND in crafting the merch that minions proudly wear! Junko Johnson Records is our own home-grown label, and we publish all our music under this moniker.
Unfortunately, I have not witnessed the Lords live in action in a long time because I live in another dimension and my horses are unable to reach the great distance of the Kingdom of Madisson von Wiskonssin. Would you mind explaining what a live show by the Lords looks like in 2018? Do you have the power to harness fire? Have you been lifting weights to increase the size of your muscles for maximum attraction, My Lords?
Ah, but your horses shouldn’t have to go too far - you see, we’ve been busy touring all over! Thanks to the bravest of our warriors on Patreon, we’ve been able to afford a new TRIDENTMobile which, thankfully, doesn’t break down every 100 miles or so. This year we’ve covered the most distance ever, including shows in North Carolina, Colorado, and across Canada!
A Lords show is truly a spectacle to behold. Yes - we do have fire. A LOT of fire. But we also have swords, sparks, armor, weapons, LEDs, and a lot of crowd participation. It’s unlike any show mortals have ever seen. For some, it’s the last show they’ll ever see, because many in the front row perish due to face-melting-syndrome. And yes - we’ve been lifting heavy rocks over and over again to try to seduce the womenfolk as best we can.
Speaking of concerts, what are your plans for bringing your show to other realms and kingdoms in 2018 and 2019? After all, you have a new album and it is only fair that you crusade for it, My Lords.
We’ve got a number of shows lined up for the remainder of 2018, including a CD release with our friends Green Death out of Des Moines. In addition, we’re currently putting plans together for 2019 touring. We tend to try to do at least one longer journey per month for pillaging purposes, and next year we’re attempting our Longest Journey (excuse the pun) ever - Japan! Failing that, we’re hitting up Germany. There will be a large number of miles put on the TRIDENTMobile next year, that’s for certain!
I keep receiving messages from Manowar, and they beg me to ask you that you please turn down your music. I told them I could check in on that request, but that I cannot make any guarantees because, well, the Lords do what they want. Are you willing to tone it down a bit, and be less metal, for Manowar’s sake, My Lords?!
Absolutely NOT! Those cowards still REFUSE to face us in battle. We’ve told them MULTIPLE times that we will take them on, band vs. band, in a steel cage. They’ve never gotten back to us! I think they’re scared, personally. “Loudest band on earth” my butt.
You have done a lyric video for the song “Burn it Down (With Fire)” and you have some guest vocals on it. Who is the guest you speak of, My Lords?
The guest is none other than Brittney Slayes from the band Unleash the Archers. We shared the stage with Archers a few years back, and invited them back to our lair to spend the night drinking and telling stories of conquest. Brittney and I hit it off while talking about opera, and I asked if she might lend her mighty vocals to our latest album. Thankfully, she agreed. I couldn’t ask for a more fantastic guest appearance on this album. She’s truly one of the strongest vocal warriors around.
Do you have more videos on the way? The first three songs “Death Dealer,” “Zero Hour” and “Tormentor” all would be good candidates for the video treatment, My Lords.
In fact, all three of those songs DO have music videos on the way! We’ve got six music videos planned for this album, and four of them are complete as of the time of this writing. I’m hard at work on #5 right now. Keep our eyes peeled for those debuts...I’m especially excited about Zero Hour’s video, as it was shot in 360 and is VR-compatible!
The song “Figaro” has some sweet shredding, but it’s really in the whole album. It’s probably the most ear-friendly song on the album, too. Your guitarists can shred, but how do you manage to keep things in proportion: Are there sword battles in the band to decide how much shredding is too much shredding and how much shredding is the perfect amount of shredding, My Lords?
The phrase “bull in a china shop” could describe the shredding capabilities of both the Baron AND Asian Metal, but strangely, their unlimited power seems to keep each other in check somehow. Don’t ask me how...it must be a guitarist thing. They will look each other in the eyes and wordlessly, somehow...they’ll just know what the PERFECT amount of shred would be for a certain song. That being said, if you’ve ever seen the Baron do a solo guitar performance, it’s like...unbridled shred for 4-5 hours at a time.
If we’re ever in doubt, we’ll start by playing a song in front of a concrete wall and stop RIGHT when cracks start forming. Usually that’s just about the perfect amount of shred.
What is the mystery to keeping the Lords continuing making music, My Lords?
Honestly, the secret is the amazing support of our fans! While it’s very true that music doesn’t make money by traditional means (i.e. CD sales) anymore, it’s an AMAZING time to be in a band due to services like Patreon. Fans will give small (or large) amounts to us month-to-month via this “fan club” model, and in exchange they get amazing perks, like free shirts, behind-the-scenes access, fully mixed-and-mastered acoustic re-recordings of our hits monthly, official bootlegs, and much more. Due to the income we’ve got coming in via Patreon, we’ve been able to play more shows, make more music, and travel further. In essence - the income frees us to take risks. Those risks almost always mean more cool stuff happens more often.
However, I’ll never discount the impact of merchandise sales! Since we make our own shirts and DIY a lot of our own merch, a lot of the income at our merch booth goes back into the band directly. If you enjoy an artist, the best way to support them is by purchasing something from their booth!
Is money the biggest obstacle to keeping your band going, in your experience? Or, is it chemistry in the band? Or, what about the willingness of band members after all these years to keep crusading? What do you when someone’s will is getting weaker, My Lords?
It’s true - much like most things in life, money is the largest obstacle. Although we have a LOT of support on platforms like Patreon, we all still have to toil incognito during the day as mortals in day jobs. The will of all the members is clearly there, and is unwavering. The limit is just money and time. If we were all able to pursue Lords full-time, I can’t even IMAGINE how much content we’d be making! We’d be putting out so much material, people would get sick of how many albums dropped every year.
And if someone in the band IS getting a bit burnt (either mentally, or by my constant flame-throwing), I find it’s best to let them refuel in their own way. For many of us, a little alone time is all we really need. Creativity is a lot like a pitcher - you can’t constantly pour it out. It’ll eventually run out. During those times, it’s important to take time to refill the pitcher in whatever way works for you.
When you write songs, do you like to watch the Kentucky Derby a lot? The last half of the album has lots of galloping riffs. It is great music for headbanging and also for riding horses, My Lords.
Ha! You know what’s funny - we had this exact conversation last year when we were touring through Louisville during the Kentucky Derby. Did you know one of the horses was named “J-Boy’s Echo”? If you ever wanted a horse with a frat-boy name, that’s the one. But I digress…
During the recording of this album, The Baron came to us with a spreadsheet (gosh do I LOVE spreadsheets) which laid out the tempos, timestamps, and general motifs of all the songs we’d written so far. We decided that we should try to push the boundaries a bit on this release, so a lot of these songs are way more challenging musically than those in the past. I think that manifests itself in those galloping, intensity-laden riffs you hear in the music. Slow songs are just fine, as long as they’re still METAL. I mean, “Haze of the Battlefield” was 90BPM. That’s pretty slow!
Where can people hear your albums, My Lords?
Those who DARE to listen can hear our albums just about anywhere on the internet - YouTube, BandCamp, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora - we’re EVERYWHERE. Just type “Lords of the Trident” into google and we’re the first 50 pages. After that, it gets a little weird. However, If you want a one-stop-shop for everything Lords of the Trident related, our website is the best spot.
What else would you like mention, My Lords?
I’d encourage everyone to check out our Patreon. Also, we run a yearly metal festival here in Madison called MAD WITH POWER! We fill a local venue to the brim with free-play classic arcade games and pinball, and invite some of the best metal bands from all across the US to play. This year’s lineup is INCREDIBLE, and it’s also our CD release party! You can check out all the details at MadWithPowerFest.com
Oh, wait! One more question: Aaron Rodgers told me that it is his life’s goal to watch the Lords live in action one day, but his day job keeps him busy. I told him: “You’ll get your chance, Aaron. R-E-L-A-X.” So, has he shown up at your concerts yet, My Lords?
No, but for some reason I keep seeing him all over billboards for car dealerships in Madison. Makes me wonder if he ACTUALLY endorses the local Honda dealership, or they just downloaded a stock photo of him and put it in on the billboard without telling him. Hey Aaron, if you need a crew to pillage the local Honda dealership for improper use of your persona, just let us know. I could use a new car or five.
No, wait! One more question: Can you please make a prediction about the upcoming Kingdom of Greene Baye Packers season? How far will they go?! Does your crystal ball tell you that another Lombardi trophy is coming to the Kingdom of Greene Baye von Wiskonssin again, My Lords?
I have a feeling that the man with the ball will throw it to the other band with the hands who will run in for a touchback halftime down there’s the game!
(The Baron would probably be better equipped to answer this question, Fang doesn’t pay attention to any sports that don’t involve swordfighting)

Against Evil (review by MMB)

Against Evil
All Hail the King
6 April 2018
Against Evil formed in 2014 and in 2015 recorded both a single and an EP, and in 2018 they have the full-length debut. Against Evil is a band from India bitten with the bug of classic heavy metal. What a debut it is! They have such good songs and they show their young-heart personality very well.
It is fun, uptempo songs and the band’s objective is to rock with songs that have an uplifting energy, direct riffs, on-beat drumming, and guitar melodies that communicate themselves effectively. They craft songs that speak the international language of classic-style traditional heavy metal. In short, it is good songs, and that’s the main thing that really, really counts, isn’t it?
The singing is very appealing in the sense that it hits the sweet spot in melodic singing; it is not the all-out banshee glass-shattering screaming that some people say that they find annoying. It is a midrange singing style, with a nice, ear-pleasing tone. On the song “Sentenced to Death” some of the vocals are a bit grittier, closer to the thrash style, but the chorus is still melodic. “We Won’t Stop” does feature the most near-thrash energy in the vocals.
The way the band does backing vocals is appealing, too. Sometimes it sounds like gang-shouts vocals, like the way that it is common in thrash and punk rock, but in this case the difference is that the pleasant tone of the voice makes it cool, as opposed to irritating or amateur-sounding or just like some “every-man” shouting. Maybe it is the melodic tone of the backing vocals that make this band do a good job on that front.
Against Evil is all about guitars, riffs and solos, and when they join that together with the singing in songs, it works out for them. Hopefully this band is just getting warmed up. This band should be interesting to people who want to rock out and have fun with young-heart heavy metal.