The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 9/30/09

Pure 'n easy on the spiel as I'm literally on the run...

Kudos to the new Ace Frehley record, be looking out for a review here at The Metal Minute. Also be on the scope for another Label Spotlight, this time with you black metal mongrels especially in mind as The Metal Minute features four releases from the Moribund Cult...

Changes abound and things are on the ups...they'd better be, dangit!

Slap me silly, I'm outta heah...

Ace Frehley - Anomaly
Ace Frehley - Kiss solo album
Ace Frehley - Trouble Walkin'
Frehley's Comet - s/t
Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland
Snail - Blood
Leeches of Lore - s/t
Flood - Native
Black Pyramid - s/t
Kitchens of Distinction - The Death of Cool
Kitchens of Distinction - Cowboys and Aliens
Kurtis Blow Presents The History of Rap Vol. 1
Metalocalypse: Dethklok Dethalbum II

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Label Spotlight: Meteor City Records

Their motto is "Soothing troubled minds since 1997." Operating out of Tendoy, Idaho, one of the last places one would expect to find a record label catering specifically to stoner, doom and sludge rock (or maybe it's locale is right on the money), Meteor City Records is one of the hippest indie labels you're going to come across.

Their current roster may not be household names quite just yet, but the quality of groups Meteor City carefully nurtures makes them a reputable imprint, particularly if you're down for a loud 'n dirty, space truckin' good time from your music player. Of course, other bands you are familiar with reside at Meteor City such as The Atomic Bitchwax, The Hidden Hand, Spirit Caravan, Spiritu, Farflung and Nebula.

On the rise, however, are names you'll want to get acclimated with such as Elder, Unida, Black Pyramid, Flood, WhiteBuzz, New Keepers of the Water Towers, Snail, Ararat, Eighteen Wheels Burning, Dead Man, Village of Dead Roots and Leeches of Lore. Here's a look at a handful of Meteor City's recent offerings:

You have to approach Leeches of Lore simply because their name begs your attention. What you're getting from these guys is one of the more original attacks to dropkicked metal filled with old school thrash ala Deaf Dealer and Blood Feast, and random surprises such as folk, funk, western and desert drone. Don't forget an abundance of the outright weird.

Leeches of Lore's self-titled album is like the soundtrack to a Quentin Tarantino flick not-yet-made about a speed metal band circa 1986 taking a drunken trek out of San Francisco into the desert for a climactic showdown against confederate tarantulas and karate-kicking drug peddlers.

Originally recorded by the Albequerque-based duo of Steve Hammond and Andy Lutz, Leeches of Lore will slam your head against the table with the dynamic "I Am the Raptor," which comes out blaring with brutally fast thrash and then skids into a delightfully strange sequence of malleable modes. Take a trip with a dusty swerve onto a lost highway with spacey acoustics, followed by translucent funk lines before "I Am the Raptor" resumes its heavy course.

If you remember Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution, you'll undoubtedly cue them to mind on the Mexicana twang of "Cenozoic Death Waltz," while "Pig Scrapings" blares with a titanic doom crunch following a reverential lead-in. Take the rest of the journey if you dare. Leeches of Lore will challenge you straight into the ethereal, the goofy and ultimately the boisterous. Thrash metal should've been this creative back in the day...

Snail is a band which some might consider what the Foo Fighters might be if Dave Grohl stayed underground or at least kept his foot firmly planted on the distortion pedal from song-to-song. As wonderfully explosive as the Foos can be, Seattle's Snail is the methodic, chugging and harmonious embodiment of Grohl, Josh Homme and Fu Manchu without a sleek veneer. When they cite shoegazer acts such as Lush and My Bloody Valentine amongst their influences, "Blacklight" is their proof positive.

Having performed in the past with Matt Pike's revered stoner sect Sleep, Snail's Blood is a rare album which seeks as much melody as it does syrupy thickness. Though "Mental Models" moves just above a crawl, it possesses undeniable groove, as does "Cleanliness," "Underwater" and "Committed."

"Not for Me" is Blood's signature tune, erupting from a slow-timed syncopation as Mark Johnson (formerly of Blessing the Hogs and The Crucified) and Eric Clausen blare from their axes and fuse in some trippy organs amidst the song's agreeable fuzz threads. The beat patterns from Marty Dodson vary from midtempo and pinpointed to more uppity, allowing his gang to improv at times while never losing the internal vibe. "Not for Me" unravels into a smartly-short jam session at the end, leaving the listener wanting more, even if Blood clocks in around 50 minutes overall.

The members of Snail reportedly took a 13 year spiritual journey to Sheol and if so, their audile reunification on Blood is a happy enjoinder filled with more cadence than simplistically-penned rawk usually accommodates. The interchanging swirls and chunks of "Blacklight" certainly testifies these guys found something meaningful through their sabbatical.

Northmapton's Black Pyramid is one of the most focused bands on Meteor City's expanding roster. Playing in a more classic style of doom and stoner with a dedicated discipline to cohesive structure ala Pentagram and Sabbath, Black Pyramid's self-titled debut is one of the most confident doom albums this year.

"Visions of Gehenna" is nearly relaxed despite its pinpointed strikes and cumbersome tones. Andy Beresky homages Tony Iommi amidst "Gehenna's" steady throb and still jerks out his own psych lines between the apocalypyic raid of his wah-yanking.

Black Pyramid doesn't get much faster than a stamping march on "No Life King" and the Ozzy-era Sabbath slide to "Twilight Grave" and "The Worm Ouroboros." However, they are constantly alert on "The Cauldron Born" and don't hesitate to exploit potential melody with acoustic intros such as the one found on the closing track "Wintermute."

They make no excuses for their influences nor their propensity to honor them. Black Pyramid's existence is to comment about war, sociology and the occult with a shambling output emphasized by thick chord progressions and sixties and seventies-laced guitar solos. A familiar script, sure, but Black Pyramid pulls it off as if they were born to it...

Like their densely-saturated namesake, Flood's latest album Native is a drowning session in murky chords and waterlogged movements. In fact, Native hardly aspires past a submerged slosh at all, save for some random snare-tom roll-throughs and occasional step-ups tempo-wise.

Closer to Earth, Weedeater and Electric Wizard than Sleep, Sunn O))) or other drone-drenched lords of the quagmire, Flood literally seeps into their frequently extensive stoner compositions. The 18:29 "Aphelion" and the 10:38 "Water" are not only exercises in endurance; they dare their listeners to wait for the increased amplitude you know is coming.

Bearing supplemental samples and assorted aural flotsam to create a sometimes haunted atmosphere to their dank projections, Flood's sluggish tunes enhance the primary doom spirals they dabble exclusively with.

Sure, Flood is focused on being louder than midnight marauding and they do tend to be a bit clumsy here and there on interchanges, but if you like your metal set upon a deliberate course, these guys can roll it with a fixated purpose and give you a thundering payoff at times. "Dam" especially works itself past an aloof set of bass and guitar tugs into a raging funeral march.

Only The Ocean and Ahab can outdo these guys in their tidal-crashed doings...

--Ray Van Horn, Jr.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Gwar - "Let Us Slay" video

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 9/23/09

Alrightee, folks, let's see what chaos ensues this Wednesday, eh?

Usual chaos at home with wifey and I both recovering from injuries. Poor lass crashed down a flight of steps and twisted her ankle, then tripped on her crutches and bent my arm back when I caught her. Always sucks when you're parents to a little one and both busted up, but I'd say our determination has given us the juice to conquer this quickly, so on to the next round of shit!

Last night I enjoyed the pleasure of conversing with Tyler Mane, aka Michael Myers of Rob Zombie's current two Halloween flicks and other film credits such as X-Men, Punisher and Troy, not to mention he's a former WCW pro wrassler from the early nineties you might've remembered as Nitro.

So you take your pleasure with the pain as Paul Stanley does in "Room Service" and you keep movin' and groovin'. That being said, let's cut the chatter this week and sling out the playlists and see if we can all play nicely in the sandbox, k?

Whiplash - Unborn Again
Shrinebuilder - s/t
The Few Against Many - SOT
Ahab - The Divinity of Oceans
Halloween II (Rob Zombie) original soundtrack
Dag Nasty - Can I Say / Wig Out at Denkos
Dag Nasty - Field Day
Dag Nasty - Minority of One
Government Issue - You
Deep Purple - Stormbringer
Ride - Nowhere
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Joe Jackson - I'm the Man
Joe Jackson - Look Sharp
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious
Foreigner - Can't Slow Down
Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Demilitia - s/t

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CD Review: Demilitia - s/t

Demilitia - s/t
2009 Steelhead Entertainment
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

There's a distinct grimy resonance to New York City hardcore and metal. It's usually characterized by slapped and plucked bass vibratum located in untidy filler spots, which is meant more as a compliment than a cheap shot. Biohazard and Nuclear Assault are two of the territorial forerunners in this respect. Also unique to New York 'core and thrash is a we-don't-give-a-flying-fuck ethos to its manifestation. The more racket, the better. If it sounds like the hostile derailment of the yellow line pitching over en route from Battery Park to Brooklyn, then ye bang, you've got yourself a band, dig?

Demilitia fits the profile if you want to talk about a New York City metal unit draping more balls than finesse. Not that these dudes don't exhibit flair when they want to; the mega-mosh section of "Monstro" from their self-titled debut release is full-on charged with a kicking tempo and flailing rhythm and lead guitars.

Even a song such as "Acrimony" comes off partially like Lamb of God and partly Immolation with a couple of zip-bang breakaway parts and guitar god solos from Demilitia's Owen "Big Gun" Burley. Its general cohesiveness (minus a few slight halts in momentum) counters the dogpiling chaos of "Teleox," (which does have a killer intro) as does "Abstract Fear," which is more straightforward than the title indicates, at least until it shifts gears into a ratchety breakdown mode in the final stanza.

At times Demilita are sloppier than a mattress on a hot Saturday night, yet this is actually part of their charm. "Brutalizer" is a complete noise fest brought to finish with squealing distortion and a final throat blare before the crack of a capped midnight special rings out.

At the front of the six-song mini album, "A Better Mousetrap" comes out snarling with guitar tugs from Burley and band founder Billy Blitzed, wailing death throes and chunky bass prods from Jason "Bassman" Porzse. It catches and loses its nasty groove intermittently as it switches from hardcore to death metal, as does "Teleox" thereafter.

Having been toiling around since 2003, the Demilitia squad, which now boasts the vocal spewage of former Immortal Flesh vocalist Ralph Reyes (also going by DJ Retch and Hunter Reyez), comes barging into the scene with as much of a what-the-fuck-you-looking-at candor as what you'd get by docking at the wrong port across the Hudson. Their debut isn't pretty, but it does kick your pants high up into your crack at times. Who sharted?

Rating: ***

Saturday, September 19, 2009

CD Review: Whiplash - Unborn Again

Whiplash - Unborn Again
2009 Pulverized Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Pulverized Records is quickly ascending up the totem of the indie metal imprint strata, home to some of the underground's fastest and more extreme acts on the scene today such as The Few Against Many, Seance, Guillotine, Watain, Conspiracy, Satariel, Impiety and Deceiver. Catering to cross-generations of metal performing clientele, it's pleasing to see a band like Whiplash re-emerge with these guys.

1985's Power and Pain remains today one of thrash metal's finest records from the lower tiers of the eighties bracket, while their calling card album Ticket to Mayhem the subsequent year put Whiplash on the map alongside their east coast thrash brethren Overkill, Carnivore and Hades. Though original Whiplash drummer Tony Scaglione departed the group for a brief stint with Slayer in Dave Lombardo's stead, Ticket to Mayhem's drummer Joe Cangelosi and mainstay guitarist/vocalist Tony Portaro nearly had their shot at greatness.

Not that Whiplash disappeared entirely, but the constant changes behind the drum kit (with Scaglione and Cangelosi taking turns amongst themselves and Bob Candella) plus future in-and-out personnel (former vocalist Rob Gonzo and bassist James Preziosa being amongst others) wrecked havoc in the band's camp and thus wrecked their momentum. The unfortunate passing of original bassist Tony Bono in 2002 only further destabilized Whiplash's efforts to remain entrenched in the scene.

Never let it be said however that Tony Portaro doesn't hold the torch high for the old league. Officially returning to the metal world with a new proper release Unborn Again, Portaro, along with Cangelosi and current bassist Rich Day are making the most of the moment in a metal revival welcoming back the classic style of Bay Area-bred speed metal. While the younger bands such as Fueled by Fire, Mantic Ritual and Skeletonwitch are gaining the most attention with their old-is-new ethos, the elder guard is winning over substantial numbers themselves.

Testament, Death Angel, Megadeth, Exodus, Kreator and Destruction have enjoyed press and fan-praised returns to the scene. Whiplash, never one of the front runners of their day, still makes a reasonable impression with Unborn Again, an album which might've caused a slight stink back in the eighties if had run concurrently with Power and Pain, Ticket to Mayhem and Insult to Injury.

Then again, Whiplash began to experiment like most of the thrash bands fighting for survival in the North American metal kill-off during the early nineties. Cult of One comes to mind in this respect. Today is a new day with not as many rules and constraints, which means Whiplash can get away with trading up tempos and schisms on Unborn Again.

You can certainly expect Whiplash to deliver cheek-pulling velocity on "Pitbulls in the Playground," "Float Face Down," "Snuff" and "Feeding Frenzy." After all, this band's identity always was about thrash, considering their moniker runs parallel with Metallica's famous tune of the same name from their faster and more prolific years.

Unborn Again does bring things to a mid-tempo slide on "Hook in Mouth," "Firewater" and "Parade of Two Legs," the latter of which assuumes a Ted Nugent-esque swamp rawk mode. "Swallow the Slaughter" is one of the coolest songs on the album following an amusing carnival skit designed as a nod back to Whiplash's Ticket to Mayhem. After a squabble over a free soda refill, "Swallow the Slaughter" jumps into a chugging rhythm on its verses before speeding away on its tuneful choruses.

Tony Portaro sounds absolutely giddy on the mike and with his riffs and solos. On "Snuff" he shucks as much as he strums with gnashed downstrokes as Joe Cangelosi lays down a snappy polyrhythm beneath the track. Though "Firewater" takes a deliberate ambling pace with its Native American theme, the entire trio rips away immediately thereafter with "Float Face Down."

In one sense, Whiplash are a better band than ever given their experience, albeit Power and Pain is a far superior hellride to anything the band has done since. The cadence of Unborn Again has a seemingly tactical stripped sound, as if to chain it directly to the eighties, which will delight some and probably turn off others. Nevertheless, Tony Portaro and Whiplash are unafraid to take chances; the payoff is they sound invigorated and ready to play.

Rating: ***1/2

Friday, September 18, 2009

CD Review: Shrinebuilder - s/t

Shrinebuilder - s/t
2009 Neurot Recordings
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Over at the Neurot distribution pad, things are getting red-hot, particularly with one of this year's frequently-discussed collusions, Shrinebuilder. If the gathering of Scott "Wino" Weinrich, Dale Crover of the The Melvins, Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Om's Al Cisneros reads like a sludge metal wet dream on paper, consider it good as advertised.

Four members sharing lead vocal duties on lurching tracks of dropkicked nirvana, Shrinebuilder sinks themselves and their listeners into repeated dips of distorted trance guaranteed to generate bobs and bangs along the way.

Naturally you'll get shades of Saint Vitus and Spirit Caravan on the Wino-fronted "The Architect" and "Pyramid of the Moon" has Al Cisneros' dazy abstraction stamped all over it, not to mention Dale Crover's Melvins-esque plodding.

Nevertheless, this combination of ambient doom riders makes a logical union, each bringing their modes and execution styles under the fold of Shrinebuilder's nurturing microcosm. As Wino's current solo band recently experienced its own shakeup, you have to figure his three-day recording session with three of the cream of molten crop allowed him to vent with his greasy guitar and his rubble-gagged pipes. Ditto for his cohorts, who really make the most of the moment, collectively expounding five cuts of stoner-doom the underground is going to snap up ravenously.

"Blind For All to See" unravels translucent swerves in its establishment, patiently cultivating and jamming out a bed of sonic intensity with each overlapping bar--you know Neurot chief and Isis leader Aaron Turner approves of that. If guitars could pull herbal tugs, they'd sound trippily like those jerked out by Wino and Scott Kelly on this one.

The opening number "Solar Benediction" is a bit of a marathon (albeit a fun one) where each member sounds off in style and voice. Crunchy and methodic one minute, slower and heavier than pulling a skid loaded with cement blocks the next, "Solar Benediction," like the rest of Shrinebuilder is an enviable bit of work. Chocked 'n stocked with cosmic wah, death growls, clattery tom rolls and abusive riffs, it all works into a sedate hypnotism before unleashing a vengefully loud and sluggish clout on the tail end. Songwriting this deep obviously took longer than the three days Shrinebuilder allotted themselves in the studio, but it's impressive no matter the duration of time spent in its creation.

Unifications and team-ups galore in the metal scene today, Shrinebuilder is one of those which really matters...

Rating: ****

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 9/16/09

Greetings, metal junkies! From the finally-cooled offices of The Metal Minute I bid you howdy and hails. Hope you're week is going well.

Aside from continued fatigue, I'm hanging in there. Thanks to Alex Gilbert for his Hacride interview last week with production here skidding big-time. As I titled an audience participation poem I wrote, blame the baby...

I want to give a hearty thump on the chest of respect to Steve across the pond at, who just announced he's closing up shop indefinitely. I wrote over there at different points in my career and found Steve to be a hell of a nice guy. Hope one day I'll get over your way, brother, and we can toss a pint under the Union Jack!

Still smiling about last Friday's Naked Raygun show for many reasons. One day I'll share a couple stories about it, but for now I take comfort that Jeff Pezzati, who is fighting MS, has the pride and heart to get up there onstage and give it his all. He's punk to the end. I take even bigger heart his venue-packed audience was so receptive and welcoming to him. In minute corners of the cosmos, life does get it right for a change...

Everyone chime in if they picked up the new Megadeth album! What're your thoughts? I'm figuring it to be a top-10 finisher at the very least. Thanks to the 'deth crew for posting my review of Endgame for Hails & Horns mag at their iLike site!

Over at Heavy Metal have a peek at my review of the latest Anvil album This is Thirteen and at Dee Snider's House of Hair Online you can find my chat with KK Downing of Priest, mega cool.

I continue to assault the boy with Deep Purple, finally catching up to Stormbringer. I know a lot of folks diss this album and sure, it may not rank at the top of Purple's catalog, but dammit, this is a freakin' groovy record. Yes, it switches moods and genres and you can tell why Ritchie Blackmore took off after this album (he especially sounded off about Purple dabbling in funk on his way out through the turnstiles), but I think everything Stormbringer attempts is successful or at least agreeable. Plus, I'm one of those few who really applauded Purple for having two young lion vocalists in the shop who became future legends. Hearing Hughes and Coverdale together is worth the ticket alone.

Also found myself deep into the Stone Roses this week as the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut came out...20 years? Jay-zus!!! I pulled out My Bloody Valentine and Ride as well and figure to be jumping into that white noise alternative stuff in the upcoming weeks since I loved it back then and still do today.

And with that, my friends, I wish you continued gratitude for your support of The Metal Minute!

Deep Purple - Stormbringer
Deep Purple - In Rock
Anvil - This is Thirteen
The Stone Roses - s/t
Butthole Surfers - Independent Worm Saloon
Seal - s/t (1994)
Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland radio sampler
Shrinebuilder - s/t
Zombi - Surface to Air
Scott Motyka - Cut...From Within
Dio - Lock Up the Wolves
Temple of the Dog - s/t
My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything
Ride - Going Blank Again

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Paint it Black and Naked Raygun - Live 9/11/09 - The Ottobar, Baltimore, MD

A night where legendary punk legends return to the road after a 15 year layoff, the atmosphere was all hardcore, all punk, intensity growing as each of the five bands took the stage. Naked Raygun were more lean and settled into a set filled with midtempo to fast numbers from their earlier catalog.

Representatives from the time-honored DC punk and hardcore scene were on-hand (it was cool meeting John Stabb of Government Issue on the floor) in a venue-packed Ottabar to pay witness to one of the greats, who gave a pretty solid performance and kept the air of nostalgia swirling about the club. Old meets new on a memorable evening filled with passion and respect.

Paint it Black nearly stole the show as you'll see by these action-flailed shots, and Naked Raygun's Jeff Pezzazi even stepped out with them for their closing number, a moment which Paint it Black's Dan Yemin noted before leaving the stage as being "the happiest moment of my adult life."

Paint it Black:

with Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun:

Naked Raygun:

Photos (c) 2009 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guest Writer: Hacride Interview by Alex Gilbert

Photo by PeeAsH

One band who has been taking some big strides lately is France’s Hacride. With their evolution on Lazarus, we see a much more personal, epic, and open-minded Hacride. Those who’ve been tuned in should know we really dug Lazarus, and The Metal Minute is happy to follow through with Samuel Bourreau, vocalist of Hacride. Samuel explains Lazarus, their thirst for gigging, a glimpse into the French Metal scene, and more. Come join the fun over here, but remember to bring yer own booze.

Metal Minute: France lately has been a place emerging with originality, unique mind-bending moods, and a ton of low end on the extreme metal guitar tones. How does it feel adding such incredible sounds to the creative French metal scene?

Samuel Bourreau (vocals): It feels very good to be part of a scene which is moving and improving day after day. I know France hasn’t always been very active in the metal scene in general but things are moving, bands get signed to bigger labels and starting to move ahead. Things didn’t seem easy at the beginning, and still it's not, but it’s very motivating to see mentalities are changing in France and outside France concerning French metal bands and festival--I especially think of Hellfest here.

MM: The production on Lazarus is amazing! You guys have made it such a compelling piece of art. From all the hearty experimentation to the production of the bass creating such a heavy sound when the brutal parts come through, you guys must be very proud of the record you self-produced?

SB: We are very proud of it yes, and every time we go onstage it’s like a struggle to make the better out of it and to give the album a new life, bring it to a new step to share it with the people in the crowd. I had lots of doubts before actually hearing the finished version. That brought me adrenaline cause it was a real challenge for us. It's like a new album of course, but with the pressure of going further in our own way. We like our previous ones but music is exciting when you push it further every time. We wanted to make something more violent and more atmospheric at the same time, to reproduce everyones' feelings. I think and talk to people’s inside minds.

MM: Also, the artwork on Lazarus is beautiful! Care to give some promotion for that?

SB: We asked a young American designer to do it, Alex Eckman-Lawn. He really did get what we wanted and if you have the album I guess you saw the rest of it in the booklet. Making the CD a nice product is very important for us because it gives a new dimension to the album concept. Music is more important of course, but it’s one other sort of art. The meeting of those two arts makes it stronger.

MM: So the Lazarus double LP is coming soon for us vinyl lovers. That’s awesome; I bet you guys are excited about that?

SB: That’s the following of my previous answer. It’s because the cover is good, but also the LP helps to appreciate it a bit more. It’s our first vinyl release so sure, we are excited about it. I really like LPs so...

MM: In the evolution of friends in Gojira, Hypno5e, Eryn Non Dae, and of course Hacride just to name a few, all of you guys still hold an original sound, and have all evolved from being very dense and dark, to a much more personal and virtuosic sound. With Hacride’s evolution in Lazarus, is it a very organic process creating the music you do?

SB: I think we are all taking our own way and that’s why it’s still interesting and that’s also why I’m proud of being from that scene. We have in common the fact of being modern and dark, yes, but I also meet bands from other countries going to the same direction, another proof that music and art have no borders. We wanted a more organic album and sound to again speak to the soul. Adrien, our guitarist, composed this album while we were ending our tour with Amoeba. We sat at home between 4am and 10am, when everyone is or getting up or going to sleep, and that’s why I think you have this strong atmosphere like when you’re the only one still awake sitting in your apartment at 3pm thinking about life ad the world, nothing to disturb you, when you’re hypnotized by silence and quietness. Regarding the sound, we chose to record the drums in a studio doing normally folk, jazz and pop rock stuff to have a more organic sound instead of the common heavy drumming. It was a global choice and you really pointed it out well.

MM: Any future plans on material to expand Hacride’s sound even more?

SB: Nothing for the moment but touring. Especially on the weekends which is a bit hard sometimes (we have only one weekend free until Christmas) but it's so good when we are onstage. We have the chance to defend our album onstage so I don’t want to complain about it, of course. Live is the real musician's food, it’s such a great joy to share our music with the others. Nothing else upcoming for the moment or nothing very concrete.

MM: Like I’ve said earlier, metal in France has truly been sticking out as its own. Any shout-outs to any fellow French bands you guys have played with or are friends with?

SB: I don’t know there are lot of bands we really like in France, other than the ones you mentioned before or other bands from our town like Klone our Tanen. It’s hard to talk about one or two. Maybe I’ll say to Om Mani (Rock Metal band from North of France) “Don’t worry, you’ll have your drummer back,” because as our drummer is a father for one week now, we’ll do the upcoming concerts until November with their drummer, Mike. He did his first gig with us last weekend at Hole in the Sky in Norway while Olivier’s wife was giving birth at the same time.

MM: Does Hacride have any plans and dreams to come tour the US? I’m sure there would be a lot of people here excited to see Hacride live.

SB: That’s one big dream we have of course. Nothing planned yet but we really want to come over to the US. So if someone’s reading it and is interested, go ahead and contact our manager, she’ll be happy to sort it out!

MM: Out of Hacride’s whole discography, what are some of your favorite songs to play live?

SB: My favourite song to play live are “My Enemy,” the last track of the new album because I love the energy of the beginning and the atmosphere of the ending part. This song really has two faces and I like both. It’s the one we usually play first after the instrumental “Phenomenon” to open. The other is the last song from Amoeba called “On the Threshold.” Same thing, I love the energy of the song; it’s really the transition between Amoeba and Lazarus. We usually play it last onstage cause of this feeling of “To be continued..."

MM: If you were to create a dream tour, who would be on it? Feel free to name a full scale arena festival if you wish.

SB: That’s a tough question because the dream is to share the experience with the maximum amount of people anyway. Big festivals like Wacken are great, sure, and it’s always impressive to be a part of it and see the organization of such a big event. But I really love the atmosphere of smaller and more specialised festivals like the Hole in the Sky we did in Norway one week ago, or the ProgPower festival we are doing in a few weeks. Regarding bands, touring with Opeth, Enslaved, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater or Mastodon would be huge. Anything, as long as it’s a great experience regarding the crowd, the people we meet and the different cultures we can see. Even just the fact of entering a new country, seeing the landscape and stuff is nice. Every kind of experience makes the man and improves the sensibility of someone whose purpose is to create right?

MM: What music has been playing in your CD player lately for your listening pleasure?

SB: I recently rediscovered Coroner. For a long time I didn’t listen to it. Otherwise, I’m listening a lot to the new Mastodon album, I really, really like it. I’m also curious to listen to the new Alice In Chains album.

MM: Lastly, you guys have such a great family with Listenable Records, and the responses so far for Lazarus have been great! How does the future look for Hacride?

SB: Yes, we are very happy about the response we received so far. I don’t know what the future is made of. I’m curious to see, but I guess for the moment it’s touring and when the time will come for a new album I guess our guts will tell. We sure want to push it as far as we can, but the main purpose is to defend our album. It’s our third album now, we are improving step-by-step like we always did and we’ll continue this way, being true to us and to the others. Life will bring the answer to that one.

(c) 2009 Alex Gilbert

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 9/9/09

Got a lot simmering in my mental stew this week coming out of the three day weekend spent largely with the kiddo, just us boys and all that stuff. I've said it before, but some critical decisions will have to be made now that he's officially our boy and I can't skimp on his needs nor those of my day job either. For now, I simply move on and think things through.

Big Deep Purple week centered around the DVD review I put up this week. I specifically wanted to introduce the boy to DP and it wasn't a mistake. That little man was headbanging in his car seat like no one else I've played for him other than Megadeth. As fate would have it, I picked up Fireball for dirt cheap in a sidewalk sale, so it was just meant to be this past weekend.

NFL kickoff heading our way, yipee!

Gotta roll, like Joe Jackson and Anthrax crooned: got the time, tick tick ticking in my head...

Deep Purple - In Rock
Deep Purple - Fireball
Deep Purple - Burn
Deep Purple - Machine Head
Megadeth - Endgame
Shadows Fall - The War Within
Shadows Fall - Retribution
Six Feet Under (t.v. series) soundtrack
Winds of Plague - The Great Stone War
Dio - Lock Up the Wolves
Silverchair - Diorama
Allman Brothers Band - Brothers and Sisters
Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet - Here and Now
Leeches of Lore - s/t
Ozzy Osbourne - No Rest for the Wicked
Dead Can Dance - Aion
Judas Priest - Turbo
Joe Jackson - Look Sharp
Seal - Human
The Ditty Bops - s/t
Beck - Mutations
Skyfire - Esoteric
Cynic - Traced in Air

Monday, September 07, 2009

CD Review: Behemoth - Evangelion

Behemoth - Evangelion
2009 Metal Blade Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

In all likelihood this review is worthless, considering what you'll read here is no doubt the same judgment as everyone else confronting Behemoth's latest litany of confrontationalism.

Is it not surreal a band as unapologetically extreme as Behemoth has found themselves in the strange lap of guaged success? Sure, this is still underground material, but look amongst today's generation of mallrats and lo, you'll find plastered across their barely-nubile chests one of the most blasphemous and precisely bombastic death/black metal outfits in the entire universe. Next thing you know, Gorgoroth's metallic germination will be spread across today's teen metal society. Or Xasthur, for that matter.

Indeed, we've come to a point in modern metal's resurgence where Slipknot is no longer heavy enough for the masses. Lamb of God is still one of the top dawgs of the scene, but the hip upswing in favoritism is leaning incrementally towards Nile, Vader, Dimmu Borgir and of course, Behemoth.

This is not to say any of the aforementioned groups including Behemoth have sold out to the machine. Instead, the machine has spun its beacon hard towards the riotous cacophony of triple-timed antichrist anthems, since said music obviously demands to heard these days. A sign of the times, be sure.

Evangelion is all you can and should expect from Behemoth. As one of the indisputable leaders of death metal, Nergal and his feral hellhounds play straight into their severe schemes with no deviation. Bloody mayhem prevails as usual on Evangelion with nonstop savagery ala "Defiling Morality of Black God," "Ov Fire and the Void" and "Daimonos."

If anything, Behemoth has grown a smidge more exact in their already letter-perfect attack plan. Save for the doom-trodden march prevailing on the eight-minute-plus closer "Lucifer" and the lumbering, ratchety first half of "Ov Fire and the Void," Evangelion is all-systems-go with plummeting thrash designed to make you hold onto your cookies all the way.

Evangelion's most tapestried cuts are "Transmigrating Beyond Realms Ov Amenti" and "He Who Breeds Pestilence," where the pace is so reckless even drummer Inferno trips over himself a couple times, albeit he's on the dime the majority of the album. Nevertheless, these songs are so intensely written, the weaved miasma in their wake leaves the listener paralyzed by Behemoth's astounding grandeur. The ride of "Transmigrating Beyond Realms Ov Amenti" is so fierce Nergal's final throat blat is like a rebel yell at the end of a whiplashing coaster.

Nergal's diatribes are well-known (as if anyone would be foolhardy enough to question them with music this brutal), however, he reportedly delved deeper into the Old Testament for Evangelion in order to substantiate his hardline arguments of Christian sanctimony. Mallrats today may or may not have a clue of what Pandora's Box of fiendish hatred they're endorsing on their bodies, but they're tripping on the blaring and unyielding temptations raging out of Behemoth's box.

Evangelion is the tempestuous sound of professionals (if not professors) easily expounding their deafening craft while most of their imitators drool on...

Rating: ****

Sunday, September 06, 2009

DVD Review: Deep Purple - History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76

Deep Purple - History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76
2009 Eagle Vision
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Not to say Deep Purple's iconic stature in rock history has been downplayed over the years, but the time clock revovles on its own and waits for nobody outside of God to keep pace. What this means is groups from yesteryear at times need a little extra push to continue staying relevant for upcoming generations. It's why The Beatles stay germaine, ditto for The Who, Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. Part of the reason--outside of certain music being so inventive and envelope-pushing they remain veritable case studies--is because their ensconced canon equates into lucrative tidings. Thus remasters, reissues, compilations and rarity specials become the norm as decades progress.

Deep Purple will usually get mentioned in the lineage line along with Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Iron Butterfly as a cornerstone group paving the way for heavy metal. Not that Purple accepted themselves as heavy metal pioneers if you're to ask Jon Lord (they're simply rock 'n roll in his opinion), but there's no getting around the volume and intensity of Deep Purple In Rock. In many ways, what Deep Purple accomplished with In Rock is still-today unprecedented. The best for them was yet to come with the subsequent Fireball and Machine Head albums, the latter of which is regarded by many as not only Purple's definitive album, but one of the inarguable classics of both rock and heavy metal.

With all the talent Deep Purple cultivated within their blaring microcosm, it's sad but not altogether shocking to witness their inevitable collapses and rebirths. Even Brett Favre has retired fewer times than Deep Purple. One can understand the destructive ramifications of having so much aptness and instinct housed together in one band just by watching History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76. Defining the term supergroup at the height of their capabilities (known in rock lexicon as Purple's "MK II" period), part of the reason the band suffered so much internal combustion rests on the fact its players were too good.

Could it not be said by watching four hours plus of archive footage including televised appearances, live films and quirky early-on forms of rock video that the writing was on the wall for both Deep Purple's rise and fall to prominence, simply because of Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord? Most will argue the prolific guitarist and keyboardist complimented each other, which is true enough. However, watch carefully throughout History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76 and you'll detect occasional ambivalence between both players. Soloing for interminable minutes between Blackmore and Lord were no different than Yes' Songs for Topographical Oceans; mesmerizing mastery over their instruments to the point you drown in the presence of each musician. Yet "drown" is the operative word. Even though it was rather fashionable of late sixties rock groups such as Canned Heat and Mountain to jam in freestyle for half a set, Blackmore, Lord and if allowed, bassist Roger Glover forget the audience and simply wank themselves onstage with the tools of their trade. One-upsmanship has a part in it.

You can see it on the two versions of "Mandrake Root" and three issuances of "Wring That Neck," the latter of which is mercilessly coupled back-to-back in a near 40-minute marathon of vociferous distortion and looping ostinato. Ritchie Blackmore is a true six string god, however back then you would've had to reel his ass in if you wanted to pimp more than a couple of your songs. Blackmore is seen masturbating the neck of his guitar against his amps and stroking his frets as if he might actually jerk out some jizz to his audience, some of whom dance and sway in cultish demeanor, most of whom stare in puzzlement. In contrast, when Jon Lord has his chances, he usurps his alotted time with outright greed. He closes his eyes and plunges himself into fugue lines, psych lines, classical overtures, singular plucks designed to hold his band and the crowd on edge. That is until he, like Blackmore, directs the band back into action. Keep in mind, Lord is responsible for Purple's foray into the symphonic realm ala The Moody Blues with the former's 80-minute Concerto for Group and Orchetra from 1970.

Regardless of the criticism here, Deep Purple were undeniable innovators. Their daring amplitude and willingness to coax out full-on sonic din as Blackmore and Glover hump their instruments against their stacks is a tactic being revitalized today by ambient and art-driven metal acts, much less Sonic Youth and Today is the Day before them. Though the world will always play the halcyonic intro notes of "Smoke On the Water" in their minds with the mention of Deep Purple, never let it be forgotten this is a multi-platinum-selling group who busted up the charts even in busted up and reassembled formations. They received platinum sales for the David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes-assisted Burn as well as Stormbringer. They were still selling tickets even after Ritchie Blackmore packed it in en route to a mimicking solo career and ultimately the pivotal Rainbow. Come Taste the Band may not've been wholly worthy in the shadow of the group's indispensibles (i.e. In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, Made in Japan and Burn) but people still lined up to buy it and still packed in the arena to see Deep Purple with the late Tommy Bolin wielding axe.

History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76 is a four-hour-plus outing with apparently not much structure intended other than to touch upon the MK (or "Mark") I-IV lineups for celebratory sake. The "history" section of the DVD is almost a joke as it quickly runs through Deep Purple's best-known stages, wrapping its business in close to 20 minutes. It suffers from abbreviation and a too-generalized narration, not to mention it yields quick-cut pieces from longer-running footage you'll be watching later on. This is a trend a lot of music DVDs have become guilty of lately; recycling the same footage in splices, thus provoking a right to viewer grievance.

On the plus side, the full-length performances are the reason you'll be thoroughly engaged in History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76. While some of the songs are televised appearances such as Top of the Pops and some German rock and jazz shows where Deep Purple get to play live, some, unfortunately, are by-products of those times when lip-synching was commanded, not suggested. It makes "Black Night" utterly laughable to see the criminally-unheralded Ian Paice barely tap his heads while the overhead track indicates thunderous tom rolls. It's as ridiculous as watching "Philthy" Phil Taylor of Motorhead continuously driving a mosh-paced polyrhythm in the "Iron Fist" video, even during a combination snare-tom roll on the audio track. Oops.

Heck, even watching the MKI inception of Deep Purple (including vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper) grind through "Hush" in a televised party show hosted by Playboy's Hugh Hefner with a handpicked guest list shimmying for effect is smarmy in itself. Albeit, Blackmore trying to teach Hef a crunch chord is amusing, considering Blackmore's historically standoff nature. You have to wonder if he was bribed on the side to come out of his shell and act like he gave a damn showing Hef a chord. Sure, and ask Elvis in the afterlife what he thought about Steve Allen...

Let's not needle any harder than necessary, though. History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76 is worth grabbing, even for the aforementioned quibbles, because this is time capsule stuff. Seeing a hairball Ian Gillan slam congas during "Mandrake Root" makes you want to jump up off the couch and get involved (as this writer was guilty of doing on his own conga set while reviewing). Gillan was obviously on something harder than a peyote trip during the "Highway Star" footage as he slogs, sloshes and mumbles with broken lyrics and interjected babble. It's funny as it is utterly pathetic, but it is compelling to watch and wonder how the rest of Deep Purple professionally made it through such an embarassing vocal performance. Of course, Gillan was--and still is--a master of the wail as he rips his tonsils out on "Child In Time" and "No No No."

History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76 focuses largely on the Gillan and Glover MK II era before slipping into the Coverdale-Hughes era with decent representation. On the second disc of the set, there is a long series of interviews and backstage films made by amateur documentarians which reveal a lot about the MKIII Deep Purple. The fact Ritchie Blackmore is nowhere to be seen in the company of the other four members states a hell of a lot to the point both Lord and Coverdale later admit to having no surprise by Blackmore's departure. Coverdale is green in front of the interview mike during the MKIII stage, while in the (then) band-snuffing MKIV era from 1975-76, he has grown into his position with less shriek and more crotch-rubbing bravado, which would suit him to a tee for his future endeavors in Whitesnake. Bearded and drippy-haired, Coverdale in Deep Purple's final days is the mark of confidence, yet perhaps it could be said that without Blackmore, the intuitiveness Deep Purple played with was gone, no slam intended towards the stoic sacrificial lamb, Tommy Bolin.

The interviews with both Ian Paice and Jon Lord during the MKIII and MKIV periods of Deep Purple are actually the most intriguing sections of the whole DVD. Here we get to delve into the psychology of both men, while a rare catch-up with the reclusive Blackmore is the undeniable highlight of History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76. Blackmore conveys everything you would've speculated at that point in time, which is to say he held a distaste for society in general and had become bored as hell with his life. Interesting to see how he tempered his entire rock star being--Purple and Rainbow together--into the Medieval-flavored rosemary and thyme new age stylings of his current entity, Blackmore's Night. One might infer the rock god has found his peace, particularly since he is caught in the history section noting his influences and interests were more in league with blues, hard rock, rock 'n roll, classical and Renaissance kindlings, while his bandmates were more interested in exploring funk. Even Ian Gillan says much earlier in the DVD he'd felt the band was going through a predictable motion before he left the first time. Was that Blackmore's stubbornness at work? You be the judge.

The infamous California Jam performance of 1974 which resulted in the controversial onstage implosion by an angered Blackmore is touched upon this set (particularly the band's onetime manager Tony Edwards issuing a statement about hightailing it from arrest on a French t.v. show), albeit it nearly serves as a mere teaser for the entire concert DVD you can find for sale, ironically enough through the same distributor as History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76. Cheapo to a degree, but at least the point should be made when circumventing this timeframe of the band's prolonged career.

Far from perfect, History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76 is still one to dive into for its cross-sectioned dissemination of one of rock's biggest family feud affairs. Dysfunctional to the point each member of the MKII period save for Blackmore has waltzed back in and back out again as Purple continued to surface in each subsequent decade (with Gillan and Glover humorously coming back to a Lord-less crew on 2003's gamey Bananas album), this aspect alone is going to be worth the extensive ride. If not to see a maudlin reworking of The Beatles' "Help" set to a black-and-white post-industrial England backdrop during the MKI stage. Rare live footage of "Burn" doesn't hurt either...

Rating: ****

Friday, September 04, 2009

CD Review: Winds of Plague - The Great Stone War

Winds of Plague - The Great Stone War
2009 Century Media
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

2009's vote for most-improved band would have to go to Upland, California's Winds of Plague.

Though already on their second album last year with their Century Media debut Decimate the Weak, Winds of Plague at times decimated themselves with implosions of too many ideas and too little structure. Add to the mix scattershod breakdowns which fully interrupted songs in the midst of their steam, and frankly, only the younger demographics addicted to chugging skids had something to cheer about.

Winds of Plague are onto something, to be fair, even if so many others, past, present and future are as well. Their attempts to bridge fantasy realms and equivocal symphonies of valor brings Dark Tranquility to mind, as well as Nightwish, Dimmu Borgir and Skyfire, all representatives of varying latitudes of orchestral-tapestried metal. In other words, Winds of Plague have more than their share of competitors, which means if they want to not only capture sn audience but stay relevant, they would have to jack their efforts from the overambitious and undisciplined Decimate the Weak.

Fortunately for this group, their third album The Great Stone War does exactly that. While they refuse to part ways with the stereotyped whumping breakdowns (if you want a prime, recent example of a good breakdown which serves its main rhythm and is heavier than anything the entire clan of youngsters can churn out, go to Megadeth's "How the Story Ends" from their upcoming album Endgame), what Winds of Plague has learned this time around is to let them seep into the overall flow of their caustic blares, at least during the first half of the album.

The Great Stone War is bookended by a narrative clash against usurping demigods storyline which is actually quite welcome from a generation spent in awe of Lord of the Rings, while its predecessors were reared on Conan the Barbarian and Heavy Metal magazine and bands such as Manowar and Armored Saint comparatively. Metal was bred on this stuff. This is the here and now, however, and after a solid spoken introduction "Earth" setting the stage for assured metallic mayhem thereafter, Winds of Plague wastes not a lick of time clouting their listeners upon the head with the traditionally-titled "Forged in Fire." A little Anvil, anyone?

Supplemented by symphonic compositions and note-frolicking piano, "Forged in Fire" mashes everything in sight before halting their booming grind into a slowed-up breakdown to at least end the song instead of flat-out disrupt it. Throughout The Great Stone War, Winds of Plague pounds and pounds and pounds some more usually on a straightlaced track, but also with a typical propensity for blast beat tackling and of course, those plentiful, frustrating breakdowns.

At least Winds of Plague are learning as they go and getting damned near close to perfection. When they pause their heavy-fisted tempos with breakdowns, they've coated them with highly busy string sections or keyboard tapestries. "Soldiers of Doomsday" is a mostly exciting stampdown session, while the gradually-sculpting "Approach the Podium" inherits a plethora of chimes and external synth textures to coat up the song's doom grind. Again the song ends on a breakdown, but it does manage to carry a gusty set of strings along the way. Despite the monotonous breakdowns which prevent the tune from gaining full strength, "Classic Struggle" (possibly the tune most listeners will clutch onto) does benefit greatly from fugue organs at times.

Winds of Plague's apocalyptic story about an earthly battleground for Orc-like hellhounds versus farflung knights set in a modern age is strictly pulp, but Par Oloffson's lavish artwork, which would be fitting upon a contemporary triptych, much less a folded CD inlay is gorgeous and perfectly realized for The Great Stone War's battle of the damned plot. At least you have swords to visualize in midair as Winds of Plague routinely breaks and breaks their rhythms with 'core-inspired flails of agitation.

This album is figurative and literal leaps beyond Winds of Plague's previous work. Taking the time to integrate acoustic outros and soaring orchestral maneuvers amidst their dark clang and outrageous barks courtesy of Jonathan Cooke (and a handful of guests such as Suicide Silence's Mitch Lucker, Terror's Martin Steward and many others) means Winds of Plague has invested much into themselves to reach a vision they were only scratching around at in the past. The Great Stone War is a monster achievement for this group and this particular thread of metalcore-meets-symphonica. Once this band feels comfortable enough to drift out of their breakdown trappings while keeping all the other elements doing them a great service, Winds of Plague will be thus truly mighty.

Rating: ***1/2

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Dimmu Borgir Issues Statement Regarding Recent Personnel Changes

Cutting and pasting for posts isn't really subscribed here at The Metal Minute, however this statement given by the members of Dimmu Borgir following their recent firings of Vortex and Mustis is something to behold. Nuclear Blast released these comments from the band yesterday:

Norwegian symphonic black metal band DIMMU BORGIR have issued the following statement regarding the recent band member firings:

“Man, what a shitstorm response!

Too bad all the shit is thrown in the wrong direction.

Oh well, what else could we expect? We don’t blame you as you still haven’t heard the other side, the band’s side. We have put up with unprofessionalism and bad live performances for years. This couldn’t be ignored anymore as we firmly believe the fans deserve the best on both records and shows.

First of all, a big thank you to those who still have their own mind intact and believe in the music of the band and not only judge by what is falsely accused in statements posted online by recently fired members based on their ignorance, bitterness and greed. A quite normal human response when being disappointed but we hope you kept in mind the saying that goes: ‘Those who scream the loudest have the most to hide…’


‘Only when we’re calm we’ll be able to listen.’

We have a feeling, judging from some of you and your ‘jump to conclusion’- type of comments and responses, that some of the reasons that are about to be explained might as well end up as too much for you band member ‘fans’ to grasp the magnitude of, or to handle. We’ll give it a try. The true fans of the band and its music already have shown their support and understanding without us having to explain it to them in detail. But for the rest, anyways, here goes:

Let us give you a few things to chew on - perhaps especially to those of you that have already taken sides. Some of it concerns both Vortex and Mustis collectively; some of it is separately based issues. And yes, it might come as a surprise to some of you but they were fired with a reason.

To make it seem less of a soap opera and less embarrassing, if this is even possible at this point, for those it concerns, we’ll keep things simple and straight-to-the-point. On a side note and in comparison, just keep in mind that people have been fired for way less in this and other bands before. So for those of you who think we didn’t try and make this work and did this out of anything else but what we thought was best for the band, please think again and consider the following written words below carefully.

At the same time, as we hate to ruin the idea of how some of you guys perceive this band and its members both in a positive and negative way, those of you who care deserve to hear the truth and here are a few excerpts, out of many, we might add.

Let’s put things in perspective for a second: For someone to be in a band, on any level, first there’s got to be commitment and dedication, a drive and urge to do what you do, whether you’re part of the song writing process, planning the touring part, business part, the administrative part or simply just the performing part – doesn’t matter which one you’re mostly involved in. However, you need to be involved in some of it to a certain extent to be considered and treated as a member and you have to show some sort of level when it comes to responsibility, not only for yourself but for others around you as well.

Over the course of 10 years period, there’s also something you either develop the comprehension of or you don’t (most develop this basic approach way sooner), called ‘understanding of how things are run.’ We know it sounds blunt, but it’s important that this is being enforced on behalf of everyone involved within a band and its working partners. After time, you’ve got to know and accept your place and what role you have taken and your ability therein; the sooner you do this, the better. Remember, you still - at the same time - have to continue to earn your place and work for it, respect it and nurture it like a child, even after years of success. It doesn’t come for free, it doesn’t stay for free and it doesn’t leave for free either. We’re all replaceable.

Are you part of a band for the right reasons? And do you really want this? What are your thoughts on the aspect of being away from home over shorter and longer periods of time performing for your fans? Are you aware of the sacrifice you have to still do after all these years to be able to continue this and are you aware of the workload and the sacrifice not only the other members have done and still do, but also people working with the band in other areas have done over the years, while you haven’t? You need to do your part, or at least do an attempt to be given a fair chance of survival, even if it’s not as much. Certain simple basic things, which are spawned out of common sense, those are the things we expect from you. That’s if you want to be looked at as a member of a music group and be taken seriously. The things mentioned above are all obvious factors and basic principles you need to be square on and aware about; if not, you’re wasting yours and other people’s valuable time.

Further down is a couple of things Vortex and Mustis simply ‘forgot’ to mention in their previous statements respectively. Also the fact that Mustis’ statement(s) not being written by himself but by someone else means it is false accusations and have been registered as such by our lawyers.

Lesson number one, the obvious one: Don’t forget to bring your instrument when you’re about to play a festival in which you’re going to perform in front of thousands of fans that have travelled far and paid money to see you play. Maybe you haven’t been into it so much the last couple of years and it’s - on top of that - an early flight; you feel things are a bit tedious – no worries, we all experience this from time to time but we know the deal by now after so long, and so many years. Or, so we thought.

But, we shouldn’t have to remind you to bring your own instrument to a gig. For that there’s no excuse, neither will we accept one.

Lesson number two, a less obvious one and can easily be forgotten while under the influence but still: Don’t hurt yourself in an alcoholic rage smashing a glass to your forehead putting yourself, your band ‘mates,’ crew, not to mention the show(s), in jeopardy. Remember, the money you care so much about getting, compared to the minimal of effort you put in won’t be paid out to you or anyone else in the band if the show(s) doesn’t happen. You have responsibility. We suspect this weren’t part of your calculation, obviously none of us are perfect but as a grown up person, we expect more.

Luckily for you, the make up covers the cut from the smashed glass on your forehead onstage. You did manage to get away with general bullshit, classical cocky rock star attitude and carelessness – this time too. You wouldn’t get away with it at home around your family so what makes you think it’s fine to behave like an asshole around your band members, your family away from home? On-stage equals posing, off-stage it’s a no-no.

But, contrary to other times in the past, there simply won’t be another chance and you know so goddamn well why you’re not given yet another. Suddenly, we’re the bad guys because you expected another shot out of mere habit, just because we were too nice in the past to grant you another one and another one. Your stage sound and set-up we won’t bother to address anymore. Your stage performance lately we won’t bother to mention either. You know why you’re not part of this band anymore, don’t make excuses and make it look like it’s someone else’s fault when you very well know it was you alone who put you where you are right now.

Now, auctioning off your band’s most recent album on eBay, only signed by yourself, can’t be looked upon in any other ways as pure greed, not to mention mockery, towards the rest of the members of the band that you’re still in, AND the fans. Attempting to sell a CD of the last album (which you can still get hold of in shops) with only your signature on it for the highest bid is a remarkably low act.

Instead of getting hold of some work to do, if money is what you so desperately seem to be needing (while you actually maybe rather should be considering working on ideas for a new album if you’re so concerned about being credited correctly), you rather believe the easiest and fastest way to money must simply be to start a blackmailing procedure against the other members in the band holding important files as ransom - files that are the band’s property which we need for future projects that would bring you money later eventually, in one way or another. Now it won’t. Not a very smart and thought out thing to do. Not to mention the fans now have to wait for these special releases because your ego for some odd reason is hurt and in total control.

These files, which we handed over to you in good trust over a year ago as a band member and what we’d consider a brother despite your lazy ass, not surprisingly you haven’t even touched it as part as bonus features special of a re-release campaign including certain albums.

Instead, you threaten to sue your fellow band members for neglect and not treating you right monetary wise. Isn’t it typical? You both want to harvest the fruits, but putting labour into it yourself is not so important. See how long that’ll last in real life. Ironically, it lasted this long with the band, finally now that time is over.

This shouldn’t be acceptable. So what do we do? We don’t accept it. After all these years wiping people’s asses and feeding their mouths, we’re forced to take on another strict angle, like you do with kids when nothing else works. To be forced to almost constantly spend energy on dragging someone to practice for instance and be part of a unit – a force, is tedious for the rest of us. Always an excuse not to do what’s expected of you.

To the best of our efforts, we’ve tried to explain over and over, again and again how the business side of things work, but when ignorance is bliss and the people it concerns fail to even meet at band business meetings, later not understanding and realizing because of the obvious fact that they weren’t present, the deal is then suddenly we’re ‘hiding something’ and ‘I must get ripped off, there’s no other logical explanation!’

Sounds familiar to some of you readers?

But on the contrary, we’ve not been afraid of encouraging the use and exploration of talents of other members elsewhere while still being in the band. We have even handed over major projects on a silver plate but to not even bother replying to such offers speaks volumes. We can’t do that job for you too. What about the talk of a certain ‘solo’ project for the last 10 years? Where is it? Talk, that’s what it is. Talk and no action.

Still complaining, not trusting your partners for the last 10 years when receiving a pay check, worth way beyond your song ‘writing’ ability and what you’re already credited for is fair in your eyes. It’s amusing and at the same time sad to see how little reflective and humble grown people can be sometimes; or in this particular case, most of the time.

Stop acting like composers and song writers until you have written and released something on your own that’s worthwhile and we’ll see how well you do. To quote Vortex in his very own statement; ‘I have really enjoyed the ride!’ Sure you have, it’s been for free! Either because of lack of interest, dedication, understanding and capability or all of those.

So a word of advice: For those of you who’d wish and would want to work with either of these guys in the future, please be prepared to discuss business first since the art of music comes secondary.

We believe there’s no need to go into further details; it’ll be highly embarrassing. It already is for the rest of us and most sane people get the point by now. If you feel you haven’t been appreciated, this goes for both, then why did you accept the large sums of money all these years that has been handed out to you? It was convenient, wasn’t it?

For how much longer should we accept a service on stage that has slowly deteriorated over the last few years which we know other bands wouldn’t tolerate, seeing as your performance simply wasn’t good enough and your self critical view was like zero. Explain that.

But you wanted the cash, pretty typical. Give someone something even if they don’t deserve it just to keep everyone happy and they want more of it. Don’t take credit for something you haven’t written. If you knew how to arrange and write a song, you would have already, just like the rest of us. But no, your lazy ass is too ‘busy’ complaining about not getting what is ‘rightfully’ and ‘legally’ yours.

Funny then, how the new album is halfway finished written already by the rest of us without any of these guys’ input, still having all those elements we’re known for. Even having obligations and work with other bands simultaneously on the side.

But those who still believe in the band and its music, and not in recently fired members’ bitterness, greed and fear of what’s around the corner, will understand this when the next opus is out. We could write a book about previous members’ and their separate reasons why they’re not in the band anymore, but we believe you don’t want to hear most of it by now.

This wasn’t an issue of the typical ‘musical differences’ bullshit statement either. Other bands cover up their shit with that worn out excuse, but musical differences is exactly what makes this band sounding unique. Sadly, some of the members lost the focus along the way; some people close to the band will say they did that a long time ago, and for that there was simply nothing we could do anymore. We can’t force people to do something they obviously don’t want or care about. We tried - but they didn’t. Our patience and goodwill is not everlasting. So for those of you who still think we owe them more than a phone call or an e-mail letting them know their ‘services’ are no longer wanted and needed, think again. We just had enough and for that we’re not sorry. We’re only sorry it didn’t work out in the end.

And to those who think greed played a part in this, so absolutely, and now you know whose careers are run by it and whose isn’t.

See you soon,

Galder, Shagrath & Silenoz.”

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 9/2/09

Salud, readers, hoppin' like fire torching my piddies over on this side of the globe.

The big news of the week is we have adopted the foster child who's been in our care for over a year. I'm now an official father and no longer a rent-a-dad. It was a sobering moment to be in the courtroom with the judge stating kind words to us before issuing the decree awarding us our legal boy. I'm humbled, even in the midst of frustration parenthoood normally brings. This child is going to be amazing, I can tell. Hell, he was headbanging and fist pumping in the backseat whilst listening to the new Megadeth and yelling "Da da?" until I pumped my fist with him.

Tuesday night I was on the horn with Shadows Fall drummer Jason Bittner, which was a real treat with his candidness and good humor considering his long day in preparation of Shad's upcoming tour and the release of their new album Retribution in a couple weeks. Suffice it to say, Retribution is heavy stuff, as is the new Megadeth, Endgame, which I can assure you listeners of both albums are going to geek over the spectacular guitar work on each. Endgame is especially fabulous; Dave Mustaine is genuinely motivated and the addition of former Jag Panzer/Nevermore guitarist Chris Broderick presents a tag-team guitar duel for the ages. Yes, Endgame is that good.

Thanks to Alex Gilbert for supplying a review this week to keep the pulse beating at The Metal Minute. As the week progresses, expect a review or two from yours truly coming your way. Like Little Suzy, things are on the up and I'd hope to not come down...

Megadeth - Endgame
Amon Amarth - The Crusher reissue
Assjack - s/t
Pestilence - Resurrection Macabre
Haircut 100 - Pelican West
Gwar - Lust in Space
3 Inches of Blood - Here Waits Thy Doom
Rammstein - s/t
Shadows Fall - Retribution
Duran Duran - Rio
Duran Duran - s/t
Celan - Halo
Ride - Going Blank Again
Quiet Riot - Condition Critical
Atlanta Rhythm Section - The Best of Atlanta Rhythm Section
Skyfire - Esoteric
Canis Dirus - A Somber Wind From a Distant Shore
Leadbelly - Goodnight, Irene

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Guest Writer: Alex Gilbert: CD Review: Hacride - Lazarus

2009 Listenable Records
Alex Gilbert

French experi-metalists Hacride explore the distances on their 2nd full length, Lazarus, and the band has really made a masterpiece. I’ve got to say that France has been kicking a lot of ass in metal lately, with the rise of giants such as Gojira, Eryn Non Dae, Hypno5e, Gorod, and of course, Hacride. Call it the Gojira effect or not, but keep in mind each band still holds elements of their own. The country shows no sign of slowing down. Like much of the French metal scene, Hacride has begun their roots in a brutal and progressive wake, inspired by the low-ended extreme metal tones of Meshuggah: obscure structures, and sprinkles of experimentation. A unique way to go about it indeed, but now France has found its evolution once more, where all the bands have taken on a more personal, mature, and epic feeling. Lazarus is Hacride finding their identity, and the sounds they unleash give an incredible experience.

“My Enemy” is a complex song, but the meaning of complexity moreso refers to the rich details, hearty experimentation, and strong structures (structures that still may have some obscurity to them). When Hacride decides to get brutal, they can be as brutal as anyone. The textures are rich in this one, which a big part is aided by the production (which Hacride self-produced). This is one of those albums you have to let grow on you.

Songs such as “Act Of God” unleash monstrous intros, which then lead into the unique world of Hacride. Then you have that ambience which strikes the listener’s conscious like the mid-section in “Phenomenon,” which blends in brilliantly with the song’s other side of extremity. There’s an epic song right there for ya! Influentially, a big Tool influence is evident, even considering the length of certain songs on Lazarus. Meshuggah still plays a big part in Hacride’s approach, but that influence is less evident this time around.

Hacride has risen big with Lazarus, and they are a very nice fit indeed on Listenable Records' amazing roster. Lazarus adds some much needed creativity into metal, into progression, and into art. I’m excited to hear what Hacride comes up with next, because as creative as they are, you almost aren’t going to know what to expect, except for something special.

Rating: ****