Tag Archives: metal

Infamous Albums: Black Sabbath’s Born Again

Infamous Albums will be a new series of articles where Alternative Nation writers take a look at albums that are normally panned by the bands fan base, to see if they are as bad as their reputation. To celebrate their final tour this first installment will focus on metal pioneers Black Sabbath’s 1983 album Born Again.

Black Sabbath is a band that needs no intro. Formed in 1968, Sabbath is highly regarded as the “Godfathers of Metal”. Their distinct sound quickly got them fame with albums such as Paranoid and Master of Reality. However, towards the end of the decade the band would release a few flops and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne started losing interest in Sabbath. Finally, in 1979 Ozzy left the band. He would be replaced by former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. The next year they would release Heaven and Hell. This record would give the band a more updated sound helping them compete with big releases from Judas Priest, Saxon and Ozzy’s solo act. After releasing the next album, The Mob Rules, Dio would also leave the band, leaving Sabbath to find yet another vocalist.

They recruited Ian Gillan who, at the time, was out of Deep Purple. When this line up, was announced the hype was pretty big.  A rock legend working with the founders of metal? How can this go wrong? Well, to a majority of Sabbath fans it did. Though the album sold well, it was panned by critics and fans alike and is still considered to be among the band’s worst. This is the only album to feature Ian Gillan and the last one to feature classic drummer Bill Ward.

The first thing one notices when checking out this album is the cover which features a red baby with yellow finger nails and teeth. This awkward cover sets the tone for the album… whether it was intended or not.

The first track,”Thrashed”, kicks off real well until Gillan’s scream comes in. Ian Gillan is a great vocalist and his screams were the best parts of Deep Purple tracks like “Child in Time” and ‘Highway Star”, but here it sounds forced and out of place. The lyrics are pretty cool and have an anti-drinking and driving message. The riffs are pretty catchy even if they are a little simple by Sabbath standards. The production on the track is really poor, as the bass cannot be heard at all and Bill Ward’s drumming sounds very processed as if it were done by a drum machine. These same production problems are present throughout most of the album. Flaws aside, “Thrashed” is still an alright track.

Next track, “Stonehenge”, is two minutes of nothing but random sounds. The third track, “Disturbing the Priest”, is an odd one. The melodies, riffs and production on this song are actually pretty well done, but the vocals are some of the worst on the whole album. Like on the first track, they don’t fit and Gillan’s random laughing parts just sound plain ridiculous,, making what could have been a great track only average.

“The Dark” is another track of random noises this one just 45 seconds long. This brings us to the album’s most well known track, “Zero The Hero”.  Gillan’s vocals actually work here and the chorus is very catchy. The intro is dark with its creepy opening riff and ominous bells. The main driving riff is very atmospheric and sounds like nothing the band has done before. The lyrics are about being mediocre which is ironic since this is a solid track and the best on the album.

The next track “Digital Bitch” starts side two of the record as well as the album’s downward spiral. The song has an okay typical 80’s metal riff that is ruined by both the production and Gillan’s vocals (there seems to be a trend here). His attempts at Rob Halford-esque screams aren’t very good and the lyrics are pretty corny.

The title track is a power ballad, something Sabbath has never done before this point. Guitarist Tony Iommi, who is known for writing some of the best riffs known to man, just plays the same generic chords through the whole track. The lyrics feel like they were made up on the spot and the track just feels dull.

“Hot Line” is an attempt at a straight up rocker. The songwriting is very run of the mill and every issue this album has can be heard on this one song.

The final track “Keep It Warm” opens up with a good riff and Gillan sounds surprisingly good. For a second the track sounds a bit like Deep Purple. The track goes downhill fast though as Gillan’s vocals get worse and the production and songwriting problems start to show.

All and all Born Again is not a good album nor is it a terrible one. There is one solid track and two okay tracks keeping the album from being completely bad. Many good ideas can be found on this record though are ruined by the poor production, unfitting vocals and in the case of the last three tracks, lazy songwriting.

Ranking: Worth a look for fans.

Interview: Necrophagia’s Killjoy Talks Next Album And Filmmaking Plans

On January 9th, Venom offshoot Venom Inc and death metal pioneers Necrophagia played New York City’s famous venue Webster Hall as part of their first US circuit. For the uninitiated, Venom Inc is a new band that features ex-Venom members Mantas on guitar, Abaddon on drums, and Demolation Man on vocals, making this band a reunion of Venom’s 1988 to 1992 line up.

After the local openers, Necrophagia hit the stage. Their set was mostly focused on later material, as no songs from before 1998 were played. The band performed several fan favorites, such as “Embalmed Yet I Breathe” and “Blood Freak”, all while vocalist Killjoy practiced his horror theatrics. The band ended their set with their most well known song, “Cannibal Holocaust”, based on the horror classic of the same name.

After Necrophagia’s killer performance, it was time for Venom Inc. Audiences were curious due to the fact that though this version of Venom does not include classic vocalist Cronos, they still have two of the original three members. The band started their set with the title track from the 1988 Venom album Prime Evil. This was the only song they played from the line up they were a throwback to; from that point on the set list was mostly songs from the first two albums, Welcome to Hell and Black Metal. This included many classics such as “Black Metal”, “1,000 Days in Sodom”, “Countess Bathory”, “Don’t Burn the Witch” and “Schizo”. They also played some of the non-album singles from that era such as “Warhead” and “Bloodlust”. The band had good energy and looked like they were having a lot of fun. All and all the show was loved by the crowd who were sad about returning to reality afterwards.

I was given the opportunity to interview Necrophagia vocalist Killjoy. We had a pretty natural feeling conversation that revealed his plans for the next Necrophagia album as well as films he plans on making.

So how is the tour going so far?

It’s going great, a lot better than I expected. I’m getting drunk every night with Abbadon.

How did a bill like this happen?

Venom Inc personally wanted us for this tour. They contacted our manage,r who hooked us up with their booking agent. If it wasn’t for this tour we wouldn’t be touring at all instead I would have used the time to work on the next album.

Can you tell us a little bit about this next album?

The album will be a little bit more aggressive than our other stuff. It will just be a straight forward record, no interludes and nothing out of the ordinary and no random non-metal songs like “Sadako’s Curse”. It will just be a full on metal album that is more aggressive and maybe a little faster.

Speaking of “Sadako’s Curse”, what inspires you to write those non-metal songs?

I think it’s because I quit so many different side projects, and without taking away from what Necrophagia do, I think we were never a death metal band. I just keep my mind open. I’m a fan of Death In June, The Smiths, Elvis, Combichrist, and a lot more stuff that’s far from the metal genre. I try to make these influences work without going too left field.

That would explain why you guys sound nothing like other death metal bands yet you are credited as one of the first .

Early on, there was no terminology for it. I understand we had bands like Death and Possessed, but we didn’t really know what we were doing. We were just trying to make music that was as heavy, sick and different as possible. Everyone started going in that direction once we did Season of the Dead in ’87. To me that album is not a death metal record, people always tell us that we helped start death metal and I don’t care. I don’t claim to have started anything and neither did Chuck of Death. He was a very good friend of mine. We both just loved horror films and love bands like Hellhammer and Venom and let it influence our work.

People love labeling everything. Nowadays it’s gotten really out of hand. I’ve seen people say that punk and punk rock are different genres.

That is weird. I know you have hardcore punk and crust and grindcore and all that, but I don’t get how you can have punk that’s not rock. To me we are just a metal band. I don’t like just one certain tag.

If you were to bring back one of your aformentioned old side projects which would it be?

I’d bring back Enoch, because I love making music that is horrific and sometimes making heavy music isn’t always horrific sounding. To me, that project was more of a challenge… people got to hear a soundtrack to a movie that they never heard of ’cause it only exists in my head.

Would you ever do a voice over for a horror film? Made voice a demon?

If I like the script yes, I’d even do it for a cartoon if I liked the idea. It’s something I’ve thought about actually. Ultimately, I want to direct movies. I have three different scripts written so when I finally call it a day with this band, that is what I will do.

Can you tell us about these scripts?

I rather not, only because the titles of these alone give what they are about. I can tell you they are straight through and through horror films. Two of them are very occult based, while one is going to be the most extreme and original thing anyone has seen… and I stress original, which is why I don’t want to say what its about cause its never been done.

If you were to get any director, dead or alive, to direct these scripts who would it be?

It would be easy to say Fulci though I don’t know if his style would fit even though hes a huge influence on me. I’d say Mario Bava. I feel my stuff would be more up his alley.

Ten Of The Heaviest Bands From Australia

Australia one of the world’s biggest countries is known for having some of the most interesting and diverse animals on the planet. The country also has many bands that are as extreme and interesting as its wildlife. Here in no order are some of the country’s best metal and hardcore punk bands. Some of these bands are well known, but fans tend to forget that they are Australian.

Captain Cleanoff

Australia has been a full force for punk, hardcore and grind as early as the 70’s with classic bands like The Birthday Party. One of the bands doing it best today is the grindcore band Captain Cleanoff. With fun short songs and distinct drumming this band is a must hear for any fan of the punk side of grindcore.

Fuck… I’m Dead

The country also delivers when it comes to the more metal side of grindcore. Fuck… I’m Dead are a goregrind outfit from Melbourne. Their groovy sound should please any fan of bands like General Surgery and Haemorrhage.

The Amenta

From South Wales comes one of the country’s most overlooked and original bands. Formed as Crucible of Agony in 1997 the Amenta plays a fusion of death metal, black metal and industrial.  The result is a sound that is really heavy as well as haunting.

The Berzerker

One of the most well known grindcore bands, The Berzerker’s music is a good gateway to those looking to get into the genre. The band played an electronic music influenced death metal/grindcore fusion with some of the fastest drumming known to man. Live, the members sometimes wore monster masks and the shows were known for intense energy. The band is now broken up, but with all these recent reunions maybe one day they will return.

King Parrot

From Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records comes the one and only King Parrot. The band plays a mixture of thrash, grindcore and sludge with parrot squawk vocals and comedic lyrics. They are mostly known for their live shows which consist of the band throwing water at the audience and vocalist Youngy mooning them the whole set. Last year the band toured with Superjoint Ritual and responses to their set were pretty positive.

Sadistik Exekution

Kinda like the Mortal Kombat franchise, this band loved using the letter K in the place of the hard C sound. Sadistik Exektion was a old school death metal band from South Wales. They were mostly known for their second album We Are Death… Fukk You!   This was a reaction to music critics mislabeling the band as a black metal band and also shows they had a sense of humor. Ironically their later albums contained black metal elements. Sadly this band is no longer together.

Nazxul

Most of the time black metal bands that use keyboards tend to be very cheesy. Nazxul are not only one of the exceptions, but are one of the best at it. The keyboards add great atmosphere and the vocals sound completely inhuman (in a great way). They played Maryland Deathfest in 2010.

Hobbs’ Angel of Death

Named after vocalist/guitarist Peter Hobbs, this hidden gem plays 80’s thrash in the vein of old Slayer though the band prefers to be labeled as “virgin metal”. Though a big name in Australia, they were always pretty obscure elsewhere. In recent years they have been getting more worldwide exposure, slowly making them a new favorite among old school thrash fans everywhere.

Portal

One of the strangest metal bands out today, Portal plays a style they call “avant garde blackened death metal”. Their sound is extremely heavy with ultra deep vocals and off beat droning riffs. They are also known for their bizarre on stage look which includes vocalist The Curator wearing various objects on his head. The band has played Maryland Deathfest in both 2010 and 2015.

Destroyer 666

Since the sub-genre’s inception, Australia has always had a plethora of blackened thrash bands. The greatest and most well known of these are Destroyer 666. Playing a take on this style that sounds really evil and really epic at the same time help make this three piece one of the best post-80’s thrash bands. In 2001 the band relocated to Holland. They are scheduled to play this year’s Maryland Deathfest and have their first new album in seven years to be released in late February.

 

Top 10 Metal Albums Of 2015

2015 has been a pretty memorable year for metal. We had many over the top news stories including Brett Hinds of Mastodon revealing his hatred for metal as well as a couple proposing on stage at a Napalm Death concert. America’s biggest metal festival, Maryland Death featured the debut performance of grind legends Agoraphobic Nosebleed while Hell’s Head Bash featured the first ever US show of black metal titan Satanic Warmaster. We have also sadly lost many metal greats including Bolt Thrower’s Martin Kearns, Gorgoroth’s Frank Watkins, Nunslaughter’s Jim Sadist, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead as well as the band’s original drummer Phil Taylor.

2015 has also brought us many great metal albums. So many quality releases came out this year that it took the combined tastes of writers Birdman and Anthony to pin point the best of them. Here is our top 10 metal albums of the year, with 8 bonus albums.

Archgoat – The Apocalyptic Trumphator

Anthony: This year had several extremely intense war metal albums released including the latest offering from Revenge as well as the debut album from Goat Semen, but the best of all these is Archgoat’s latest release. This album is extremely raw and filthy sounding. Mix that with Lord Angelslayer’s haunting vocals and you get one of the most sinister sounding albums of the year.

 Arcturus Arcturian

Birdman:  This is the 5th album from the Norwegian avant-garde powerhouse. It is also their debut on German label Prophecy Productions. One can hear influences from all across the musical spectrum on this record.

Between The Buried And MeComa Ecliptic

Birdman: Like previous releases, Coma Ecliptic is a concept album, or rock opera as the band would say. The album tells the story of a man stuck in a coma traveling through his past lives. It is very reminiscent of the progressive side of Queen, shying from their death metal and hardcore roots.

Leviathan – Scar Sighted

Anthony: In 2011, one man black metal project Leviathan released True Traitor, True Whore. This album was of pretty poor quality and made fans wonder if he was loosing it. His new one, Scar Sighted though proved them wrong. The album has cleaner production then previous efforts which actually fits well with the atmosphere. This album is of his best releases up there with The Tentacles of Whorror.

Napalm Death- Apex Predator Easy Meat

Anthony: This year has been a huge one for Napalm Death as they have been in the news several times as well as put out a killer new album. On this release the band mixes in elements from post punk bands most notably Swans. We are also treated to some old school straight up grindcore tracks to help even out the mix. Easily the grindcore album of the year.

OceanoAscendants

Birdman: Album number 4, for the deathcore quintet from Illinois. Oceano have extended the range of their guitars even more, with their new songs sounding heavier than the band has ever been. The atmosphere that the band perfected since 2009’s Depths has been maintained as well.

 Rivers Of NihilMonarchy

BirdmanThe sophomore album by RoN is a little more progressive than their debut. Production does justice for this assault of technical death metal. Basically, if you’re a bass guitar kind of guy, you’ll want to check out this record.

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

Anthony: Iron Maiden’s epic double album is the best album from a mainstream metal act this year beating both Ghost’s Meliora and Motorhead’s Bad Magic. At around 92 minutes this is the band’s longest album to date. With that said it doesn’t drag on for a second and almost all the tracks are very addicting. Maiden is still at the top of their game.

https://youtu.be/iKGkfFkvf_s

Deathammer – Evil Power

Anthony: From Hell’s Head Bangers Records comes this tasty scoop of Norse thrash. With a sound very similar to Slayer’s Show No Mercy, Evil Power is thrash album of the year.

High On FireLuminiferous

Birdman: An album that draws on anything that has influenced frontman Matt Pike over the years. You can still hear Pike’s guitar vibrato, some very fast thrash-influenced tracks, and slower doom tracks from their early years. You can even hear a track that sounds akin to Pike’s other band Sleep.

StratovariusEternal

Birdman: Eternal marks full-length number 15 for Stradivarius. While no original members of this band are left, Vocalist Timo Kotipelto is still going strong with his songwriting collaborating once again with Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica). The album is a blend of old school power metal and modern European-style power metal.

Shining – IX Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends

Anthony: From the mind of madman Niklas Kvarforth comes the bands most melodic and progressive release to date. The album focuses on epic and slow song structures which bring on a mix of emotions. This is also the band’s more versatile effort to date mixing in elements of industrial, folk and other genres and shows that Niklas is still at his creative peak this late in his career

Sulphur Aeon – Gateway to Antisphere

Anthony: Once again these German’s are back with their brand of Lovecraft themed death metal. With brutal vocals, brutal drums and heavy in your face bass and guitar, Gateway to Antisphere is this year’s best death metal release.

ArmageddonCaptivity & Devourment

 Birdman: This band is the brainchild of Chris Amott (ex-Arch Enemy). It began as a side project that took off in the interim period between Arch Enemy’s first and second albums. The debut was a melodic death metal approach similar to that of Amos’s main band. The band then, released two power metal albums afterwards, but this year saw the band had returned to their melodeath roots.

NeurotechStigma

Birdman: Likely the least known artist on this list, Neurotech is a one-man symphonic industrial project hailing from Slovenia . It is the brainchild of Andrej Vovk, better known as “Wulf”. He actually released two albums this year, though the second one is more of a futurepop/trance album. Stigma is the type of cyber metal album that builds and builds and builds, notably with the first and final tracks.

Mgla – Exercises in Futility

Anthony: Out of all the great black metal releases from this year, this latest entry in the Mgla saga is by far the best. With all of the band’s signature traits such as melodic mid paced song structures, distinct vocals, killer riffs, and great drumming are still intact and in full force. A great album for both newcomers and veteran fans alike.

Cain’s OfferingStormcrow

Birdman: It was originally thought that this power metal supergroup would be a one-album deal. Right after the release of the debut, members got busy with their main projects. With Stormcrow the band has retained their vocalist, guitarist, and drummer while bringing in a new bassist and the keyboardist from Stratovarius. Not only that, the band has gained social media presence with this sophomore album as well as a tour in Japan to support the album.

Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower

Anthony: Windhand’s third release isn’t much different then the last in style. While in a lot of cases that could be a bad thing, here the band is able to pull it off well as the songs still sound fresh and not like a carbon copy of the last album. As Windhand continues to grow bigger and bigger they also continue to show the world that they are a band that well deserves this attention. Vocalist Dorthia Cottrell also put out a self titled solo album this year. While not very metal, it is still recommended for fans of her vocals that want to hear a different side of her.

Top Season Of Mist Releases Of 2015

Formed in 1996, Season of Mist is one of metal’s leading record labels. In the start the label only focused on more extreme genres such as black and death metal, but has since expanded to include all forms of metal as well as none metal genres such as punk and goth rock. To this day, they put out some of the best albums the underground has known. Here in no order are their best releases from 2015.

Benighted – Brutalive the Sick

Made as a late celebration of the band’s 15th anniversary, Brutalive the Sick is a sick live album. This CD/DVD combo really shows off the strength of these French deathgrind great’s live performances as they play the Sylak Festival in their home country. This is without a doubt the best way to experience the band.

Rotting Christ – Lucifer over Athens

Speaking of awesome live albums, Greek black metal veterans Rotting Christ have also given fans a take home taste of their live sound. Lucifer Over Athens is a live double album that also celebrates the band’s entire career. With songs ranging from their early demos to some of their most recent stuff, this release works as both a good live album and a best of album.

Weedeater – Golliathan

Coming from the swamps of South Carolina comes a new release from stoner metal blazers Weedeater. This album has many of the same elements of all Weedeater releases including short simple songs, use of non-metal instruments such as banjo and organ and lots of fuzz, however it is done in a way that gives this album its own identity. Like the last two albums this one is produced by Steve Albini which is always a plus.

Drudkh – A Furrow Short Cut

Back in 2010 these Ukrainian nationalists released a post-rock album called Handful of Stars.  In 2012 the band returned to its atmospheric black metal roots with Ethereal Turn the Wheel and continues down this path with A Furrow Short Cut. Like most bands in this sect of black metal, this album is good at bringing on a variety of emotions. This record is beautiful and sad when it needs to be, but is also not afraid to punch you in the face with heaviness when it wants to. A great album for driving or working on artwork.

https://youtu.be/_oJtqEM9hCQ

Kylesa – Exhausting Fire

Savannah Georgia is known as America’s most haunted city as well as one of it’s most creative and Kylesa’s new release really helps show this. Mixing in the atmosphere of their later sound with the aggressiveness of their older sound, Exhausting Fire is a melodic,sludgy, trip at the brain. Definitely one of the best sludge metal albums of the 2010’s.

Hate Eternal – Infernus

After their legendary third album I Monarch, Hate Eternal seemed to have lost their touch. On their latest album Infernus, the band came back strong. This album’s crispy sound, atmosphere and great musicianship make this a must hear for any death metal fan.

https://youtu.be/S7254AECfWk

Revenge – Total.Behold.Rejection

Canada’s savage black/death metal machine is back with another serving of chaos! Like all releases from Revenge, this album punches you in the face with its heaviness. The production is very raw but done to a degree where you can still make out the songs.; this album is minimalist metal at its finest and rivals the band’s early work.

Shining – IX Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends

From the mind of madman Niklas Kvarforth comes the bands most melodic and progressive release to date. The album focuses on epic and slow song structures which bring on a mix of emotions. This is also the band’s more versatile effort to date mixing in elements of industrial, folk and other genres and shows that Niklas is still at his creative peak this late in his career.

 

Devin Townsend Talks 2016 Plans And Why Strapping Young Lad Will Never Get Back Together

First entering the metal world with the progressive death  metal band Strapping Young Lad in 1994, Devin Townsend is one of metal’s most original and most hardworking gentlemen. Among his various projects, he has released a total of 23 albums, all which showcase his large variety of influences, causing some to dub him “The Heavy Metal Frank Zappa”. Just last year he released Z2with the Devin Townsend Project, and the self-titled debut album by his new project, Casualties of Cool. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing him by phone. We talked about topics such as his plans for 2016 as well as why Strapping Young Lad will never get back together.

On being compared to Frank Zappa:

I don’t smoke cigarettes… so I guess that’s a difference. I do love Zappa, though if I had a choice, I would have gone with Captain Beefheart. Beefheart was completely unaware of how brilliant he was while Zappa knew it.

On Casualties of Cool:

Casualties are a project I have been working on for a long time. I guess because I do all this work with DTP and all these other projects it’s easy to forget the other stuff you have planned and easy to fall into a paint by numbers sort of thing.  This project was something that started slowly without any intention of it turning into anything, but it ended up being a very personal reflection of where I am in music at this point. I’m sure my typical heavy metal fans don’t have any interest in this, but for me it was a really important one cause I got to do something without anyone asking for it. People call this project country all the time but I think its not quite country. I think its more progressive and dark. I think the influence for the sound comes from where I grew up. I grew up on the Americana sort of vibe, stuff like Johnny Cash and Pete Seeger. Then in 2008 I remember hearing that Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration record Raising Sand and thought it was pretty cool. I guess in natural ways this sound just found its own footing.

On possible future albums:

There are always tons of future ideas! Kind of like how I let Casualties evolve the way it did,I let my future solo work evolve in whatever way it wants to. Next thing I’m doing is a Devin Townsend Project record which will be different than anything I’ve done in the past, but along the same lines of that epic heavy metal vibe. I plan on doing a symphony by the end of the year and I have a bunch of a little side projects I’m working on but I’ll let the ones that feel most important to me take a pole position and that would be  the Devin Townsend Project.

On 2016 tour:

We have a planned Devin Townsend Project 2016 US tour, but no dates or locations are decided yet.

On Strapping Young Lad Reunion:

I hate to disappoint you, but the short answer is no. Other then Jed, I don’t really talk to those guys anymore. A lot of fans are upset that there won’t be a reunion and that I’m not doing Strapping anymore, but I can’t spend anymore energy apologizing. I feel I have progressed as an artist and have moved on from that stage in my career.

On who he would like to collaborate with in the future:

Pretty much everyone I’d like to collaborate with I have already. I don’t listen to enough modern metal to have a new list of favorites. The biggest problem with metal in general is that its hard to sustain. Look at Metallica for example they are these 50 year old guys who can’t seem to put out another metal record. They had Orion fest, movies, and Lulu, but no new metal material. I see their problem being they just don’t have the energy anymore. Which I can totally relate to. The collaboration album Deconstruction was an idea I had at the time and though I feel its a good record, I don’t have any plans to do anything like it at the moment. I often wonder if the people I respect as musicians have anything in common, if we just hung out. I wonder if we tried to put together some kind of supergroup that we would end up just all hating each other’s guts… that would suck.

Morbid Angel’s Albums Get Ranked Up!

Formed in 1983 and run by guitarist Trey Azagthoth, Morbid Angel is one of the biggest death metal bands of all time. Their distinct riffs, powerful drums, and dark atmospheres have kept them a favorite among metal fans young and old. To celebrate the band’s body of work this new installment of Alternative Nation’s “Ranked up”  series will focus on Morbid Angel.  This list will include studio albums only.

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9.Illud Divinium Insanus (2011)

Often called the St. Anger of death metal, the band’s most recent album is a total train wreck. The album was hyped up due to eight years with no new Morbid Angel albums and the return of iconic vocalist David Vincent.  When the album was finally released, it was met with heavy criticism and memes bashing it all over the net. Morbid Angel tried to experiment with industrial. Now if Morbid Angel took influence from bands like Throbbing Gristle, Foetus, or Skinny Puppy, this album could have been awesome. But instead they mix in cheesy Vampire Freaks.com industrial and end up sounding close to nu-metal (in 2011!). The album’s mind numbing lyrics (such as “kill a cop kill a kill a kill a cop”) make it even worse.

MorbidAngel_Heretic

8. Heretic (2003)

Released three years after the amazing Gateways to Annihilation, Heretic was a huge step backwards. The style of this album is that of your usual later Morbid Angel release minus the memorable song writing.  None of the songs really stand out and it just feels like a disappointment after how good the last one was. After this album vocalist Steve Tucker would leave the band and join the awesome super group Nadar Sadek.  He would return to Morbid Angel in 2015. This is also the last album to feature drummer Pete Sandoval as he would leave in 2010.

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7. Domination (1995)

Joined by former Ripping Corpse guitarist Erik Rutan, Domination was the band’s  attempt at a more commercial sound. The album sounds overly polished,downed down and one dimensional. With that said the songs ,”Dominate“, “Where the Slime Live“, and “Dawn of the Angry” are still solid tracks. After this album Erik Rutan would leave and form Hate Eternal, only to return to Morbid Angel in 2000. David Vincent would also leave the band and not return untill 2004.

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6. Abominations of Desolation (1991)

Recorded in 1986 this was supposed to be the band’s debut album, but was scrapped because the band did not like the end product. In 1991 the band’s then label Earache records decided to release it due to their  new found popularity. The line up on this release included Trey Azagthoth on guitar, John Ortega on bass, Richard Brunelle on guitar and Mike Browning on both drums and vocals and was produced by David Vincent.  All of the songs except for “Demon Seed” would appear on later albums. This album is a fun listen mostly to hear how classics like “Chapel of Ghouls” originally sounded. After this album Mike Browning would leave to form Nocturnus. John Ortega would also leave, but not really go on to join or form any band.

MorbidAngelFormulas

5. Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (1998)

After Domination took them in a bad direction, Formulas got the band back on their feet. Out was David Vincent and in came Steve Tucker who proved he was a better vocalist (yes you read that right!). The satanic lyrics of the first four were replaced with lyrics based on Sumerian and Lovecraftian deities with some of the lyrics even being in Sumerian. This theme would follow on all of the Tucker era albums. The album’s musical sound is very similar to that of Covenant but with more extreme vocals. Highlights include the thick sounding “Prayer of Hatred”, the semi anime inspired “Hymn to the Gas Giant” and the haunting tune “Hellspawn: The Rebirth“.

 

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4. Blessed are the Sick (1991)

This sophomore effort  is known for creating the band’s signature sound. The album is slow paced although contains some very fast riffs and has overtones from goth and classical music. This style would follow the band on most later releases. Some of the best tracks from here include “Desolate ways” ,”Blessed are the Sick”, and “Day of Suffering“.

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3. Covenant (1993)

 

Morbid Angel’s third album is their most well known and their first taste of mainstream success. The album was put out by Giant records, a division of Warner Bros making it the first death metal album to be put out by a major label. The music continues the style that the previous album started but speeds it up slightly. The lyrics are the band’s most satanic to date and the song “God of Emptiness” was featured on an episode of Beavis and Butthead.  Some other classic’s from this album include “Vengeance is Mine, “Rapture“, and “Angel of Disease“. In 2013 the band celebrated the 20th anniversary of this album though even when not celebrating it, plenty of songs are bound to appear in the band’s setlist.

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2. Altars of Madness (1989)

One of the most iconic death metal releases of all time, Altars of Madness is a classic from front to back. Here on the band’s true debut album (not counting Abominations) Morbid Angel plays their original trashy and slightly technical death metal. Here the world got the first real taste of Trey’s amazing guitar work, Pete’s insane drumming and David’s demonic vocals on classics such as “Chapel of Ghouls“, “Immortal Rites“, “Maze of Torment” and Lord of All Fevers and Plagues“. Many music magazines and websites to this day still list it as one of the best death metal albums of all time, with a few even giving it the number one slot.

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1. Gateways to Annihilation (2000)

While Covenant will always be remembered as the band’s most well known release and Altars of Madness as their most important, Gateways to Annihilation is Morbid Angel’s musical peak. With Steve Tucker on vocals, Erik Rutan returning on guitar and the combined might of Trey and Pete we get the ultimate Morbid Angel song writing team. The album’s style is much slower than any other album by the band and is heavy on atmosphere. The guitar tuning is extremely low giving the riffs are really chunky and give off a crushing sound. Erik and Trey’s lead solos bring on a feeling of destruction and chaos. Now that Steve Tucker is back in the band hopefully we will see a proper follow up to this masterpiece of music. Summoning RedemptionI and Ageless Still I Am are the best tracks from this album.

 

 

 

Interview: Saxon’s Biff Byford Talks Future Tour Plans And Recent Album

2015 has been a pretty busy year for British metal heavy weights Saxon. They have spent a majority of the year touring, whether it be with L.A band Armored Saint or the almighty Motorhead, but this still left them with enough time to put out their new album Battering Ram. Battering Ram is the band’s 21st album and shows that the band is still on top of their game.

Biff Byford’s voice still sounds great as shown in “Queen of Hearts”, “Battering Ram”, and the haunting ballad “Kingdom of the Cross”.  Nigel Glockler’s drumming is produced really well showcasing his style, especially on the track “Destroyer”. Guitarists Paul Quinn and Doug Scaratt both have plenty of great solos throughout the disc. The song “The Devil’s Footprint” has a solo in the vein of 80’s speed metal like Accept, with a touch of atmosphere, while “Top of the World” has that good old rock’n’roll guitar work.

All and all there isn’t anything bad to say about this release. Any fan of Saxon should enjoy this album as it is one of band’s best modern efforts.

I had the honor of interviewing vocalist Biff Byford about this awesome new release. He was a nice guy and revealed some future tour plans as well as his love for Indian curry!

On Battering Ram‘s writing process: It went really well. The bassist and I started the process and then the others joined in. We all got drunk and ate lots of Indian curry!

On album name: I felt it was a good title, just like the track it’s named after. The name really rings right off the tongue and fits in with how the album first hits you. The first four tracks are the heaviest, but after that it gets more melodic.

On possible music video: We have no plans on shooting another music video for the album. We not too long ago put out a lyric video for “Queen of Hearts”. We might do a live video in the future. Maybe “Devil’s Footprint” or “Queen of Hearts”. I feel those would be good choices.

On 2016 tour: We are still touring with Motorhead until February. We are planning on playing shows in the US around April or May. We have no planned opener as of now.

On the track “Kingdom of the Cross”: It was a poem I wrote and we put it together with some of Nigel’s keyboard ideas. It was a bit of an experiment, a bit of a mad idea I had. I think it worked pretty well.

On favorite song to play live: I’d say the older songs are my favorite to play. Either “Denim and Leather” or “Princess of the Night”.

On the album “Innocence is no Excuse“: I feel the songs from that album were great but the production made it sound not so metal.  It was just something that happened,the label wanted a more radio friendly sound for that record.

Megadeth’s Albums Get Ranked Up!

Formed and pretty much run by ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine, Megadeth has always been a household name among metal die-hards and casual listeners alike.  Though the band has had ups and downs, they have always been hailed as the most consistent of the Big Four. To celebrate the upcoming album and rumored 2016 tour with Suicidal Tendencies we have decided to make this current installment of Alternative Nation’s “Ranked Up” series on Megadeth.

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Super Collider (2013)

After an awkward commercial rock phase, Megadeth started coming back strong with albums such as The System has Failed and Endgame. Somehow it led to this. Here Megadeth combine elements of post-grunge and glam metal. Funny considering Dave Mustaine always called glam “Gay Los Angelos Metal”. Some tracks, such as “Burn“, start out with good intros, but then turn for the worst within seconds. Even the most open-minded fans will have a hard time finding merits to this train-wreck.

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Risk (1999)

Risk is one of the most infamous releases from the Big Four and Megadeth’s second most infamous album. Like the title implies the album was a big risk for the band as it was a pretty experimental release. The song “Crush’Em” sounds like an attempt at industrial, “Breadline” sounds like something 3 Doors Down would make while,  “Insomnia” sounds like a failed attempt at atmosphere. The closest this album has to a good song is “Prince of Darkness“, which starts out decent but goes downhill fast. Fans blamed the contemporary nu-metal trend for this album, but Dave Ellefson claimed Risk was a reaction against it.

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Th1rteen (2011)

2011 was a strange year for metal albums; many bands released albums of unbelievably bad quality, such as Morbid Angel’s llud Divinium Insanus and Metallica and Lou Reed’s Lulu. While those albums were weird experiments gone wrong, Th1rteen is the exact opposite, pretty much being Megadeth by numbers. The album is just filled with generic song writing and recycled riffs, making it completely forgettable.

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The World Needs a Hero (2001)

After the negative reactions to Risk, Megadeth decided to go back to their roots. Guitarist Marty Friedman would leave the band, move to Japan, release a J-pop album (not making this up) and be replaced by Al Pitrelli. While the album was a return to form, it was very bland and forgettable. Some tracks, such as “Promises” sound like they could have come from Risk.

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Cryptic Writings (1997)

Continuing the path of their previous album, Cryptic Writings is more of a rock release then a thrash one. The album sold very well even getting it a platinum status and the song “Trust” still appears in the band’s set lists. However musically,  Cryptic Writings is only okay and sort of was an omen of what was to come next.

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Youthanasia (1994)

After Countdown to Extinction gave the band more mainstream attention, their next album, Youthanasia gave them a more mainstream sound. This album is most known for the hit song “Train of Consequences” and the ballad ‘A Tout le Monde“. While far from their best release, Youthanasia is still an alright record.

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Countdown to Extinction (1992)

By 1992 most of the 80’s thrash bands were putting out embarrassing albums, but Megadeth showed the world they still had it. The album is most known for the singles “Skin O My Teeth“,”Sweating Bullets“, and “Symphony of Destruction“. The deep cuts on this album are cool to especially “Psychotron” and “High Speed Dirt“.

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So Far So Good… So What! (1988)

Megadeth’s third album is also their most underrated. Originally panned for its bad production and “Anarchy in the U.K.” cover, this release is usually considered to one of the band’s worst. However, if one gives the album a chance they shall find some great tracks such as “Liar” and “In My Darkest Hour”.

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The System Has Failed (2004)

After ten years of okay to bad albums, Megadeth finally gave fans the comeback they had been waiting for. Guitarist Chris Poland who played on the band’s first two albums came back and gave this record an old school Megadeth feel. This was also the first album not to feature long time member Dave Ellefson who would not return till 2010. While the album has some cheesy tracks like “Of Mice and Men” it also has plenty great ones such as “Black Mail the Universe” and “Die Dead Enough“.

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United Abominations (2007)

In 2004 the band showed they were coming back strong. Three years later they show it even more with United Abominations.  Chris Poland was swapped out for Glen Drover and his brother Shawn Drover joined on drums. Some of the best tracks from this album include “A Call to Arms”, “Washington is next” and the Japanese bonus track “Black Swan“.

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Endgame (2009)

Continuing the path the band was on in the 2000’s, Endgame is the best post-Rust in Peace album. Glen Dover was replaced by Chris Broderick who brought with him amazing guitar work. This album is filled with awesome energy and technicality. Tracks like “This Day We Fight” and “Headcrusher” showed the world that Megadeth were still at the top of their game.  Sadly this moment didn’t last forever…

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Killing is Business… and Business is Good (1985)

Megadeth’s debut is still one of their best. Self produced by the original line up of Dave Mustaine on guitar and vocals, Chris Poland on guitar, Dave Ellefson on bass and Gar Samuelson on drums, this debut is their rawest effort to date. Some of this album’s gems include “Rattlehead“, “The Mechanix” and the cover of the Nancy Sinatra classic “These Boots“.

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Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying (1986)

Containing the same exact line up as Killing is Business, Peace Sells is the band’s breakthrough album. The band got signed to Capitol Records and the production values went up. This is also the first Megadeth album to have politically charged lyrics something that would become a stable of the band, though also had songs with satanic lyrics such as “The Conjuring“. Other great tracks include “Peace Sells“, “Wake up Dead” and “Devil’s Island“.

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Rust In Peace (1990)

Megadeth’s best album is also one of the best metal albums of all time. Added to the band was guitar master Marty Friedman who would stay with the band throughout the 90’s. Marty’s technical guitar playing brought some of the best riffs and solos ever created to the table. “Holy Wars“, “Tornado of Souls“, “Hangar 18“, “and “Poison was the Cure” and just about every track on this album is a classic. The band would celebrate this album with a tour that consisted of them Slayer, Anthrax and Alice in Chains. In 2010 the band would do an anniversary tour for the same album with Slayer and rotating openers Anthrax and Testament.

Rotting Christ Frontman Talks Live Album, 25+ Year Career, And New Album

Sakis Tolis has been a core member of Rotting Christ since the band’s inception in the late 80’s. For decades the band has honed their craft of dark metal, blending the styles of gothic and black metal together. The time and resources spent has given them 11 full-lengths under their belt, with album number 12, Rituals, on the way in February of next year. This year saw the release of “Lucifer Over Athens”, a double live album recorded in their homeland of Athens, Greece, showcasing the band’s 25+ years of musical output. Recently I was fortunate enough to have an exchange with the frontman via e-mail, where he seemed overjoyed to say the least.

Regarding your double-live album: Just how difficult was it selecting 2 hours worth of material from a discography spanning 25+ years?

A pain indeed! 123 albums more of 150 songs in our career and we had to get the summary of them! A hard job indeed but after a lot of talks and philosophy we went ahead with a setlist that includes songs from our early demos through our very latest material. I hope the setlist satisfied at least a bit of our metal brothers around.

“Lucifer Over Athens” contains a bonus track from the “Katá ton Daímona Eaf̱toú” sessions “Welcome To Hel”. How did that track not make the album itself?

We always have bonus tracks for any kind of use extra editions limited editions etc etc… how did that sound for you?

I see you’ve contributed the keyboard tracks for past albums? Have you ever desired to have a live keyboardist?

We did once in the past but didn’t work. Man it looks awful on the stage playing keyboards, at least for our band…

Do you still like being referred to as “Necromayhem”?

Why not? If you want to call me like this feel free to do. I never forget my roots.

You’ve made it clear that the band name expresses your opposition to any religion. What do you think of the New Atheist movement?

Is there any? I mean a movement? Atheist movements exists since the ancient times… you mean atheist in our music? If yes, of course and its good.

NON SERVIAM brothers.

How is the new album coming?

Almost ready… I do not know man. I have been working since last year on that and I am not able to tell you how sounds or better; if its good or bad. It sounds dark though. With many guests, including our fans, who actually participated on the chorus of one song!

What can we expect from your sets on the upcoming tour with Mayhem and Watain? As varied as your live album? Or new material?

Both… in the little time we will have on stage… we will try to not disappoint anyone, and will include songs from all of our eras.

What is your desert island album?

BLACK METAL – VENOM

This is history and personally I have a strong respect for history!

Closing Remarks:

Thanks for your attention.

See you in on the road for some hellish shows around your land.
until then…

BE TRUE TO YOUR OWN SPIRIT

SAKIS/NECROMAYHEM on behalf of ROTTING CHRIST

Metal Artist Spotlight: This Is Black Table!

Geosonic Magazine Volume 1: The Mid Hudson Valley

Hailing from the deep dark woods of a mysterious land known as Monroe, New York comes Black Table! This four-piece formed in 2012 and refuses to fit into one metal sub genre. The band’s experimental sounds have gotten them some media attention as well as landed them shows with metal greats such as Vital Remains, Wolven Ancestry, Sig:Ar:Tyr, and Agalloch.

More recently they played The Shadow Woods Festival in White Hall Maryland. I had the pleasure of interviewing vocalist/guitarist Mers Sumida, guitarist DJ Scully, and bassist Ryan Fleming on how this young, unsigned band has gotten so far so fast.

On band’s sound:

Mers: I’d say experimental metal. We aren’t really black metal… maybe a little blackened, but I feel we don’t have a genre.

Ryan: Since we pull influences from many styles, I don’t think we gravitate towards anything really. We just play what we like and try not to really pigeonhole our sound.

On band’s name:

Mers: We wanted a name that didn’t really have any previous meaning. The goal was to have our music and personality  provide its definition. A table is a simple humble structure: it’s common and mundane.

On Shadowwoods Fest:

DJ: I loved sharing the stage with Sangharsa, great guys.

Mers: Slagstorm were really good they opened up the fest and I loved catching Falls of Rauros later.

DJ: Oh yeah those were good too, and Hivelords were fucking heavy.

Ryan: I have to say it’s my favorite show that I’ve ever played. Everyone was really cool! We wish we could stay both days, but we couldn’t since we had a show the next day.

On growing pains:

Mers: It took a while for us to be able to practice again in 2013. I didn’t have a job for a while, so I had no money for gas. Even when we aren’t doing anything I’m always writing songs, lyrics and ideas for the band.

Ryan: We wrote stuff for our new album during our hiatus. Since the writing process too so long we had different opinions on the products and ended up re-writing them. Though we weren’t playing we never stopped working, we wanted to get the stuff done.

How do you guys feel being a young unsigned band yet have tons of coverage and already play big shows?

Mers: We are always humbled and motivated by the support we get. It feels surreal a lot of the time, to know that people care about this thing you do that is very personal and vulnerable, at least for myself. It’s an honor. Music was my first expression so it carries great meaning for me.

Ryan: I’ve always been humbled that anyone takes the time to give our band even a moment of attention. As for labels, we haven’t really felt the need to look in that direction. We are extremely focused and know exactly what we want to do, so until we see a place where a label can elevate that, we are perfectly fine doing everything ourselves.

DJ: It’s great… While I think labels can still do bands a lot of good, they’re not entirely necessary if you have really have the drive and confidence to do what you want, and do it the way you want to.

Geosonic Magazine was put together by Doug McCausland in June 2013, showcasing multiple unsigned artists 
from a unique geographical location in the United States. You can contact him at dmccausland1(at)gmail.com

10 Metal Covers So Different, They’re Wasteful

In this writer’s opinion, a band can do a cover song injustice one of two ways (in rare cases both). One is by playing the song to a T, and adding no elements of what your band has to offer. For some reason the most occurring example in my mind is Joan Jett’s cover of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. But this editorial is dedicated the other path of injustice, having a cover so different that it either is unrecognizable, or defeats the purpose of the original version. Now for those of you who think that I’m being “too mean” or that “a band has every right to do a grindcore version of “Genie In A Bottle”, I just want to make you aware that covers cost money. Yes, music law is a thing, and it states that your band must have a license for every cover song that it records and sells (even for streaming on Spotify and Bandcamp), and venues must obtain licenses if they are going to allow bands to play cover songs. My co-writer once spoke to members of Jungle Rot about the possibility of performing their cover of “Jesus Hitler” originally by Carnivore, and their response was along the lines of “we don’t want to deal with the paperwork”. A mechanical license can be very expensive depending on how many copies of your cover song you intend to sell. So I would imagine if your band was to do a cover song, you would want the perfect blend of originality and homage so that you would get a return on investment. But these 10 songs that I will now list, seem like a wasted investment and their efforts would have been better spent on just another original. I’m not sure if mechanical licenses were acquired for all of these. Some are so different that you could get away with claiming it’s an original. I’ve divided this list into 2 parts; 5 metal covers of metal songs and 5 metal covers of non-metal.

 

Forgotten Tomb – Depression (Originally by Black Flag)

You’ll understand why this cover is ridiculous at 3:06. First of all, it’s a good thing this band didn’t sell this record on iTunes because in accordance with their policy on 10 min+ songs, this cover wouldn’t be available for purchase unless you bought the whole damn “album”. Secondly, when there’s an extended period of feedback, it’s usually reserved for live shows, and it’s best when it’s accompanied by breaking instruments on stage. Other than a small minority of extreme noise fans, does anyone really want 7 minutes of feedback/wasted space on their music player?

 

Sunn0))) – For Whom The Bell Tolls (Originally by Metallica)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRLBCeC-uCk

West Coast weirdos Sunn0))) did several of these types of covers. Initially I thought they just played this Metallica classic 3x slower. But no. There are no vocals, and there’s not much variance in the riffs, as was on the original version. The band has been on record stating that this was meant to be a reinterpretation rather than a cover, explaining why there is literally zero resemblance to Metallica’s recording, sounding instead like a Sunn0))) original. Still, a music lawyer once told me that even rearrangements require a license. And why even bother slapping Metallica’s name on 10 minutes of drone doom?

Fun fact: The full title of this track (last track on “Flight Of The Behemoth) is “F.W.T.B.T. (I Dream of Lars Ulrich Being Thrown Through the Bus Window Instead of My Mystikal Master Kliff Burton)”

 

Tuathail – This Charming Man (Originally by The Smiths)

The guitar melody on this bears resemblance to the original, although the distortion makes this cover look like a troll. And the main importance of songs from The Smiths is Morrissey’s vocals. Replacing them with typical black metal vocals doesn’t do The Smiths justice, while the pop-esque melody doesn’t do black metal justice.

 

Amon Amarth – Aerials (Originally by System Of A Down)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy_6Z7tto2k

Same case as above. SOAD’s vocalist Serj is one-of-a-kind. And while Amon Amarth’s vocalist Johann could be considered the same, he really should stick to what he knows, lyrically and vocally.

 

In Extremo – This Corrosion (Originally by The Sisters Of Mercy)

The token folk metal tune on this list. The use of folk instruments on this recording definitely bring something different to the table. Problem is that the instruments give it too much of an improper upbeat tone, while the original recording has a gothic tone that is too epic to be messed with.

 

Epica – Crystal Mountain (Originally by Death)

Sometimes you can sneak clean vocals into death metal songs and keep them good. But having a soprano interject in the middle of a death metal classic is just over-the-top. The addition of a symphony is pretentious as well.

 

Celtic Frost – In The Chapel In The Moonlight (Originally by Dean Martin)

Yes. Celtic Frost does Dean Martin. This song has a percussive track just like several of their originals from earlier works. Tom G. Warrior for the most part refuses to do actual singing on this as usual. As was the case with The Smiths, it’s injustice to a singer but now with a beat that sounds nothing like the original.

 

Crystal Viper – Tyrani Piekieł (Originally by Vader)

I can’t help but feel that this was done out of nepotism. Both bands are from the same Polish metal scene. This cover features Vader frontman, Piotr Wiwczarek, but as a backup vocalist for the most part, only having the lyrics in the bridge to himself . While this doesn’t annoy me as much as Epica’s Death cover, the clean vocals still defeat the purpose of this death metal track. The guitar tuning on the original recording was more aggressive as well.

 

Machine Head – Colors (Originally by Ice-T)

Given that this song was recorded when the Nu-Metal movement rose to popularity, it of course raised some eyebrows. Flynn’s rapping isn’t too different from Ice-T’s. So to give the song a twist, he inserted a few guitar techniques here and there. But pick scrapes can’t really hold a candle to record scratches in my opinion.

Vital Remains – The Trooper (Originally by Iron Maiden)

This is my example of a cover being unjust by being the same and different all at once. Before the death growls kick in, the guitars are played in the same way as the original. So the beginning sounds like power metal. Hence they’re trojan horsing their death metal on you here. In the past, death metal bands have covered metal classics. But in other cases, the riffs were made more aggressive and tuned lower.

Top 10 Metal Albums Of 2005

2005 was one of the best years of the last decade for metal as well as one of its most diverse. Many current bands would release their most well known albums and several classic bands showed the world they were back on their feet. Here in no order are 10 of the best metal albums from that year.

Kreator – Enemy of God

In 2001, thrash icons Kreator showed the world they were coming back strong with the album Violent Revolution. Four years later they proved it even more with the even better Enemy of God. Like the previous album it combines the band’s aggressive old school thrash sound with melodic death instrumentation. These reused elements were more perfected on this album, creating a record that almost rivals the band’s early work.

Devourment – Butcher the Weak

Slam is a micro genre of death metal that tends to be more miss then hit. Nothing hits harder in this genre than Devourment’s older albums. Butcher the Weak is the band’s finest hour. The album is simplistic and brutal without being generic. The track “Babykiller” is now the band’s most well-known song.

High on Fire – Blessed Black Wings

Blessed Black Wings is the third album from Californian sludge elites High on Fire. Like most of their releases, this album fuses sludge with thrash and contains complex drumming. Legendary producer Steve Albini’s touches give this album a raw and dirty sound. This is so far the band’s best work. If you like this album also check out Witchcraft’s Firewood from the same year.

Hypocrisy –Virus

Hypocrisy’s Virus is the band’s 10th album and one of their most diverse. The album’s sound is based in melodeath like most of the band’s work, but elements from thrash, black metal, industrial and punk can be heard. Guitarist Gary Holt of Exodus even plays on the track “Scrutinized”.

Gojira  – From Mars to Sirius

2005 was a year that saw many solid prog oriented metal releases. Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Akercocke, Nevermore, and Strapping Young Lad all had great albums that year, but they all paled in comparison to From Mars to Sirius. Playing an ultra-heavy, riff driven, and groove influenced (without the tough guy attitude) style of progressive death metal, Gojira are one of the most original bands of the last decade and this album is their opus.

Taake – Hordalands doedskvad

Taake’s third album is the best black metal from that year. On this release Norway’s famed one man black metal outfit brings dreamy atmosphere mixed with raw energy. To this day he has yet to top this album. Other great black metal albums from 2005 include Naglfar’s Pariah and Axis of Perdition’s Scenes from the Transition Hospital.

Bolt Thrower –  Those Once Loyal

The band’s eight full length is also still their latest effort. This is because Bolt Thrower feels they won’t record again until they know they can write a great follow up. Crunchy riffs layer this release and not a single song is forgettable. Martin “Kiddie” Kearns, who played drums on this album has sadly recently passed away. May this album live on in his memory!

https://youtu.be/ZEVVOQD6VIQ

Kamelot – The Black Halo

Power metal is a genre that tends to be flooded with cheesy bands. Kamelot is a major exception. Here on their greatest album the band continues the dark Faust inspired story that started on the previous offering Epica. The dark feel of the music and progressive song writing make this an album that could appeal to even the harshest of power metal haters.

https://youtu.be/5RimEGS5XCs

Napalm Death – The Code if Red…Long Live the Code

Grindcore creators Napalm Death’s eleventh studio album is one of the best of their more recent work. Like a lot of later Napalm Death albums, the sound combines the grindcore of their early days with their early 90’s death metal sound. The track “The Silence is Deafening” is now one of the band’s most popular tracks.

Nile – Annihilation of the Wicked

This fourth entry in the Nile saga is still to this day the band’s most iconic. This album also features some of the band’s most well-known songs such as “Lashed to the Slave Stick” and the title track. The band’s trademarks such complex drum fills and epic Egyptian vibes are turned up to eleven on this record. Ten years later and Nile is still a household name to death metal fans.

Josh Homme, Mark Lanegan & Iggy Pop Are In A New Silent Film

Gutterdämmerung seems to be a portmanteau of the English “gutter” and the German “götterdämmerung” (or just an Anglicization of the word), which means roughly means “a collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder.” The word is a German translation of the Old Norse ” Ragnarök” a prophetic concept in Norse mythology which foretells a large and all-consuming battle between deities which would to extravagent chaos and disarray, as dramatized in Richard Wagner’s opera series, also entitled “Götterdämmerung.” Enough background.

Importantly, there is a spooky awesome independent film in the works from the Belgian-Swedish visual artist Bjorn Tagemose, entitled “Gutterdämmerung.” A tribute to 1920’s Hollywood (the era’s horror genre to be specific), the tagline is the “loudest silent movie on Earth.” This may not be a complete exaggeration. The film will be “silent”, if you exclude the dark, heavy soundtrack that will be accommodate the film at all points. Instead of the ragtime piano or organs prevalent in old-timey film, the website says the soundtrack is performed by  “a live rock band of rock express the emotions and action whilst special effects from the film explode to life all around the audience.” Though exact artistic details of the soundtrack have not been released, several figures from alternative rock, metal and punk are starring in the film – which may give some hints to what the soundtrack will sound like. So far, the film’s cast has been announced as Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Josh Homme (listed as Joshua Homme), Motorhead’s Lemmy, solo artist and ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegen, famed Black Flag singer and inspiration speaker/comedian combo Henry Rollins, Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes, Slayer’s Tom Araya, solo artist Grace Jones and the one and only Iggy Pop.

The website is hosting a contest for tickets and merchandise to guess the two remaining co-stars. The film is expected to be released sometime in 2016. The film’s Facebook page lists the project as a “concert tour”…perhaps all the collaborating musicians will go on tour together to promote the project? We’ll have to see.

Watch a promotional trailer for the film below:

 

Interview: Soilwork Drummer Is ‘Not A Big Fan Of Modern Music Production Trends’

Dirk Verbeuren is a musician most known as the drummer for the Swedish metal powerhouse Soilwork. He joined the band in 2004, just in time for their groundbreaking Stabbing The Drama album. Beyond his flagship band, he has made many contributions both live and in-studio to bands such as Satyricon, Aborted, The Devin Townsend Project, Jeff Loomis, Warrel Dane, The Project Hate MCMXCIX and many others. He also hosts his own instructional drumming program over the internet for paid subscribers called Dirk Blasts!.

Needless to say, he has kept busy as a musician, especially with the upcoming release of Soilwork’s tenth studio album The Ride Majestic. Nevertheless, Dirk took some time to answer some questions on the band he has spent over a decade in, as well as questions about his drumming style.

I saw the documentary on this new album that featured Björn. Obviously the events leading up to making the album were a ‘majestic ride’ for him. What does the album title mean to you personally? Have you experienced a ‘majestic ride’ of your own while in this band?

Yes. I’ve been so fortunate to spend a decade in Soilwork, and for the most part it’s been a fantastic time. I’ve certainly experienced my share of bumps in the ride, both within the band and on a personal level. What I take away from that is a new understanding about how best to navigate through life and become a better person in the process. Every moment is important and it’s really up to us to make the best of whatever situation life hands us. It’s a majestic ride if we choose to make it so.

For this new album the band has teamed up with the management company Breaking Bands, [founded by Testament vocalist Chuck Billy and The Zazulas]. How did this all transpire?

We found ourselves in a tricky place after releasing The Living Infinite. Our relationship with our then-manager was steadily deteriorating to the point where it became almost impossible to function as a band. We decided to stop touring, let the contract run out and move on. Chuck has been a Soilwork fan and a friend of Björn’s for many years. When we found out that Breaking Bands was interested in working with us, it was pretty much a no-brainer for us. Chuck, Jonny and Marsha Zazula, and Maria Ferrero have already taken things to a whole new level for us. With their help, we’re more ready than ever to conquer the world!

Looking back, what was your favorite moment of recording The Ride Majestic ?

I was in the studio only when recording my parts. As much as I enjoy being around to see an album come together, my schedule rarely allows for that to happen. But I know my bandmates always deliver incredible music and performances, as they all did on The Ride Majestic. My favorite thing was that I got to practice the songs and arrange the structures with Björn and David beforehand. Thanks to that, I got to record full takes of almost every song. I’m not a big fan of the trend of “perfect” productions; the organic and spontaneous aspect of my playing is what matters most to me, and our producer David Castillo was 100% in tune with that. We did absolutely minimal editing on the drum parts. I like to hear the little imperfections and the vibe of the moment captured in the songs.

What made Soilwork decide to record their recent live album in Helsinki?

Finnish music enthusiasts embraced Soilwork early on. I can’t remember a single show in Finland where the crowd was anything less than amazing. With that in mind, we felt that we owed it to them to shoot our DVD there. And it turned out to be an incredibly epic night indeed!

I noticed on Live In The Heart Of Helsinki a lot of material from before Stabbing The Drama. What is your take on the older material? Or do you not like to change up the drum tracks so much?

We respect all of our fans, including the ones who think the first two albums are the best. Live In The Heart Of Helsinki contains songs from every one of our albums. Our music has evolved along with us over the years but we’ll always be immensely proud of our legacy. Also, one of the beautiful things about Soilwork is that every musician is allowed ample room to be himself, to express his own personality. I play the old songs my own way but I do my best to incorporate the key elements of the performances of my predecessors Henry Ranta and Jimmy Persson.

You have an instructional program for purchase on the internet called Dirk Blasts! which updates regularly. Have you ever considered an extensive instructional DVD for worldwide distribution?

I considered it. Making a DVD is quite a project though. As much as I love my vinyl collection, physical formats are inevitably dying off. Streaming platforms and interactivity are becoming the norm. I wanted my drum lessons to be in tune with the way people obtain their information. My wife Hannah came up with the idea of creating instructional videos and interacting directly with my students through the Dirk Blasts Facebook group. And of course she was right: it worked out really well! My fellow drum fanatics are sharing their knowledge and questions, and I’m learning as much from the whole experience as they are. We’re all students. I’m really proud and happy to be a part of this growing community! Anyone who’s interested to join Dirk Blasts can sign up at www.dirkverbeuren.com/product/dirkblasts

What’s your favorite Soilwork song to drum along to?

I love them all, but I never seem to get tired of “Nerve”. It was a pretty tough song to master at first. Now I have it down to where it has a solid flow. I can bang my head when I play it and I keep messing around and improvising the details, which keeps it fun and also challenging. That song never fails to get audiences going.

Finally, what is your desert island album?

Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects Sol Niger Within. I’ve played it hundreds of times and it still gives me goosebumps. One of the most unique, heartfelt and inspiring pieces of music ever created.

Slayer’s Albums Get Ranked Up!

The most extreme of the “Big Four” Slayer is a household name to casual metal listeners and die hard metal-heads alike. To celebrate Slayer headlining this year’s Mayhem Festival, as well as their upcoming album, we have decided to make the third installment of Alternative Nation’s “Ranked Up” series focus on Slayer. This list will include studio albums only; the band’s EP, demos, and cover album will not be included.

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Diablous In Musica – 1998

Last and certainly least on this list is this notorious record from Slayer.The 1990’s were the worst time for Slayer, and this album shows. On this release Slayer jumped on the Nu-metal bandwagon that was starting to plague the metal scene. The album is normally considered to be the band’s worst and the tracks are long gone from Slayer’s setlists.

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Divine Intervention – 1994

1994 marked a year where almost all the thrash metal bands moved away from the genre that made them famous. Slayer, on the other hand decided to stick to their guns and put out another thrash album… of course, the previous album on this list came out four years later.  Sadly this album is very bland. The album is very uninspired and feels like a watered downed version of Seasons in the Abyss. Notably, this was the first album to feature ex-Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph. If you want to hear Paul play some really good thrash check out the Forbidden albums, Forbidden Evil and Twisted into Form.

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Christ Illusion –  2006

Originally planned to be released on 6/6/06, this album marked the return of original drummer Dave Lombardo, which makes Christ Illusion the first album with the original line up since 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss. The music is fast and thrash again, but some of the groove elements from God Hates Us All still remain.

Most of the tracks on this album sound exactly the same, and the whole album feels like a Slayer parody, with God bashing lyrics in almost every song  that sound like they were written by an angsty 14 year old. For the most part this album was a missed opportunity at something that could have been awesome.

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World Painted Blood – 2009

Released six years ago, World Painted Blood is Slayer’s latest, as well the last album that will ever feature guitarist Jeff Hanneman due to his death in 2013 and Dave Lombardo as he left the band around the same time. The album has good ideas and the lyrics are drastically improved, though it sounds really overproduced. The best track from this album is “Hate Worldwide“.

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God Hates Us All -2001

Released on 9/11/01, the album’s original cover of a bible with nails and blood caused a lot of controversy. This caused a censored version of the album art to be released. The album style adds back the thrash elements while still sounding modern. While not Slayer’s best work, the album is a lot of dumb fun with over-the-top lyrics like “Paybacks a bitch motherfucker“. After this album, Paul left and Dave Lombardo would come back for a short while only to leave again then come back in the same year (not making this up).

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Seasons in the Abyss – 1990

Seasons in the Abyss is the fifth Slayer album and considered by many to be their last great one. The album was more mid-paced than previous ones expanding on a trait started on the last album. The album spawned several classic tracks including “Dead Skin Mask” and “War Ensemble“. The lyrics deal more with war and society instead of Slayer’s usual horror and Satan lyrics. To celebrate this release, Slayer toured for the album with Megadeth, Anthrax and Alice in Chains. Twenty years later, they would tour for the album again with both Megadeth and Anthrax returning.

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Hell Awaits – 1985

Slayer’s second album is also one of their most underrated. The album is Slayer’s first full thrash effort, as the last one had more of a classic metal feel. The lyrics on this album are all about Hell, Satan, and horror, just like on the last one. The title track is one of Slayer’s most well known songs and is still a concert staple to this day. The album though includes other killer tracks such as “Necrophiliac” and “At Dawn They Sleep“.

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Reign in Blood – 1986

Reign in Blood is the third album by Slayer and the band’s most popular. The album is also the band’s fastest album to date and the first one to be produced by Rick Rubin, who would produce most of the band’s albums. The album spawned Slayer’s two most popular songs “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death“. The album has many cool deep cuts like “Altar of Sacrifice“, “Criminally Insane“,and “Postmortem” . Dave’s first departure was soon after the release of this album, though he would return… and leave again, then return, and leave again, and so on.

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Show No Mercy – 1983

Back in the 80’s a little known band called Slayer was playing L.A. bars. They played a style similar to Venom and Mercyful Fate. They then saw Metallica play live and decided they needed to play faster than them, thus the sound of Show No Mercy was born. Unlike later albums which are mostly pure thrash, this album has a traditional metal feel, with some songs, such as “Tormentor“, not sounding like thrash at all. Best tracks from this album include “Die By The Sword“,“Black Magic“, The Antichrist” and “Evil Has No Boundaries“. Sadly, songs from this album are rarely ever played live nowadays.

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South of Heaven – 1988

Slayer’s fourth album, South of Heaven is the band’s best album. On the first three albums,Slayer tried to be the fastest band on the planet. Each one would be faster then the one before it. On South of Heaven the band slowed down their tempos and tone down the vocals. The album focuses more on having good riffs and diverse songwriting. The songs “South of Heaven” and “Mandatory Suicide” to this day are concerts staples. The album is loaded with other amazing tracks such as “Ghosts of War“,”Silent Scream“,”Spill the Blood” and pretty much every other track on the album. This is one of the best thrash albums of the 80’s and a must listen for any fan of the genre.

10 Metal Albums You May Have Missed This Year So Far

We’re about halfway into 2015. A lot of my friends have engaged in this new tradition of listing their favorite albums from the year so far. Thinking about doing this yourself? Not so fast. Here are some mind-blowing albums that have either been released independently or by a relatively smaller label. Some of these albums are from newer bands, others are from side-projects or after-projects. Some are from older bands, and there’s even a comeback album thrown in this list.

Mechina – “Acheron”

I’ve been a fan of this band only since last year. The first thing I’ve noticed on this new album is how they’ve managed to sink as low as the band, After The Burial (That’s a joke, not an insult by the way). By which I mean they have incorporated the use of what sounds like a 9-string guitar, an instrument popularized by After The Burial. Upon further research, I had discovered that the band had actually been using a 10-string guitar. I’ve also noticed a greater emphasis on interludes within the album, my favorite one being “Ode To The Forgotten Few” featuring Mel Rose. While doing different things on this release, Mechina continues to pummel us with their blend of Symphonic/Groove/Industrial/Death Metal. Their futuristic image has prompted the band to format the pre-sale of Acheron onto individual USB drives. The album is actually the first of the second part of a double-trilogy. Talk about concept.

Alkaloid – “The Malkuth Grimoire”

The band was formed by former Obscura drummer Hannes Grossmann, in collaboration with Dark Fortress frontman Morean, and featuring Obscura’s former guitarist and current bassist. The Malkuth Grimoire is a great way to hold yourself over while you wait for the new Obscura album. Despite similar band members as well as being lumped into the same sub-genre of death metal, there are significant differences between the bands as demonstrated by this debut. Alkaloid have displayed more technical vs. melodic guitar techniques. The album features a track called “C-Value Enigma” entirely composed of a bass solo by Linus, not performed on any Obscura track. The vocals can be described as more sinister than Obscura’s.

Armageddon – “Captivity & Devourment”

Originally formed as a side project for Christopher Amott of Arch Enemy. The band has been on and off for almost two decades largely due to Chris’ involvement with his main band. The band began playing a similar style of metal, then progressed towards a pure power metal effort. But this time around, Chris managed to take Armageddon back to it’s roots with Captivity & Devourment.

Arcturus – “Arcturian”

In the avant-garde category of metal this is a must-know band. Among the two founders of the band is the drummer for Mayhem. This album is quite the journey for those who love exploring the atmospheric side of metal. Hopefully you were able to catch the space vikings at this year’s Maryland Deathfest.

Chapel Of Disease – “The Mysterious Ways Of Repetitive Art”

The name is taken from two Morbid Angel songs, “Chapel Of Ghouls” and “Angel Of Disease”. Their debut album was more geared towards old school death metal. This time around, the 4-piece death metal act from Germany included even more clean portions so well-produced that they’ve begun to really take on Morbid Angel’s atmosphere.

Immortal Souls – “Wintermetal”

They are likely named after a song from Edge Of Sanity, and you can consider them the Melodic Death Metal version of Immortal. The subjects of Winter, Snow, Sorrow, and Coldness are constant in the band’s lyrical content. I’ve followed this band for several years, yet I was kept in the dark about this album. I remember seeing the video for “Calm Before the Snowstorm” over a year ago, and not learning of many updates since. But of course, when Wintermetal was unleashed upon the public, they really brought it.

Sulphur Aeon – “Gateway To The Antisphere”

If you’re hooked on this Cthulhu fad, then I have a band for you. It features the insane vocal stylings of M, the heavy sounds of bass and guitar from T, and the brutal drumming from D. I’m not making this up. Did I ever mention, image is necessary for bands who want to get their name out there?

Viking – “No Child Left Behind”

Viking formed in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. They had an album out on Metal Blade Records in ’88, and then another released on Caroline Records in ’89. Between those two albums, the singer and drummer became Born-again Christians, prompting lyrics with no blasphemies on the second album. Their new faith also prompted a break-up, for fear that singer, Ron Eriksen could not balance touring with his new faith. Hence, No Child Left Behind is a comeback album. It features the mighty Gene Hogan on drums (tapped by his brother Brett, who joined Dark Angel after the initial break-up).

Cain’s Offering – “Stormcrow”

I consider us very lucky to have this album in existence. This is a power metal supergroup that formed a few years after Jani Liimatainen’s departure from Sonata Arctica. It also features Timo Kotipelto, singer of Stratovarius, as well as members of Wintersun, Rhapsody, and Silent Voices throughout the years. They released their debut in 2009, but could not follow-up much due to members’ commitments to their other bands. It seemed as though Cain’s Offering would be a one-time deal. But now, with the release of Stormcrow, the band has promotional photos of the full-lineup, and now a social media presence. While Timo still has a huge commitment to Stratovarius, perhaps there’s still some hope for this band to tour in promotion of their albums.

Pyramaze – “Disciples Of The Sun”

Here’s a power metal band we don’t here too much from either. Hailing from Denmark, their previous album featured Matt Barlow (ex-Iced Earth) on vocals. This new album welcomes new vocalist Terje Haroy, as well as some other new musicians. As of now, the drummer and keyboardist are the only members to remain of the original line-up.

Top 10 Metal Albums From 1995

1995 was a year for change in metal; mainstream groove metal was in full swing, old school death metal was dying out and being replaced with all kinds of spin offs, and black metal was starting to get mainstream attention. Many new ideas also started to come out of the genre, including several that are still influential in metal today. Here, in no order, are ten classics from that year.

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At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul

The fourth album by Sweden’s melodeath creators and the bands most well known, Slaughter of the Soul is more melodic than the band’s previous efforts and contains some of the band’s most well known songs. While not their best album, it’s still a solid release that helped evolve the sub genre.

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Immortal – Battles in the North

Immortal’s most well known album is one of the most popular Norse black metal releases. Like the previous two albums, the lyrics are about winter, fantasy and the forest. This is the first album to feature songs about the Blashyrkh, a theme that will appear on all later albums. A great album for those looking to get into Norwegian black metal.

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Abigor – Nachthymnen (From the Twilight Kingdom)

Abigor’s classic record succeeds in incorporating symphonic elements that are very subtle and don’t drown out the other instruments, while also containing very distinct riffs and vocals.

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Alice in Chains – Alice in Chains

Affectionately called Tripod by fans, the third Alice in Chains studio album displays the band’s usual sludge metal/grunge fusion with even more melodic songwriting sensibilities, mixing elements from the first two albums and the Jar Of Flies EP, making it the band’s most depressing release to date.

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Dark Tranquility – The Gallery

While many melodeath albums have been released at this point (including one by these guys), this album helped to further define the genre. The Gallery is full of both clean and growled vocals, keyboards, depressing lyrics, and acoustic parts. All of these would later become part of the band’s signature sound. Bands like Kalmah and Omnium Gatherium would probably not exist without this album.

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Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve

One of the most important metal albums of the whole decade. On their first album the band played thrash with prog mixed in. On this album the band takes on a style of its own. The album’s full of groove, technicality, and free jazz influence. This style would give the band legendary status. Many bands would try to copy this style. Sadly, they missed the point.

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Blind Guardian – Imaginations from the Other Side

Blind Guardian’s previous album, Somewhere Far Beyond, showed hints of the band transforming from traditional metal to power metal. Here is where the transformation is complete. While most power metal is very cheesy, Blind Guardian keeps the cheese level to a minimum and focuses on just being awesome, and IFTOS is one of the best releases from a band that never disappoints.

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Down – Nola

Throughout the 90’s, Eyehategod, Pantera, Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity all released some solid work… so what better to do then have the bands join forces! Their combined might gave birth to Down! Mixing Black Sabbath with the sounds of the south, Nola is one of the best efforts by any of these musicians.

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Suffocation – Pierced From Within

Long Island’s Suffocation are most known for being forerunners to both the technical death metal and brutal death metal sub genres. Here on Pierced From Within, they perfected their style. Tons of amazing drum fills, guitar riffs, and grooves are heard here, resulting in one of the best death metal albums of all time.

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Dissection – Storm of the Lights Bane

Last and nowhere near least is Sweden’s Dissection and their album Storm of the Lights Bane. The band’s sound is a perfect mixture of black metal, death metal and melody. Here on their second album, the band does it best. The album gives off a haunting feel mixed in with its fantastic guitar work and dark fantasy lyrics. To this day, the track “Where Dead Angels Lay” is one of the most acclaimed black metal tracks of all time. The band may be long gone, but their legacy lives on!

Doug McCausland is co-editor and reporter for Alternative Nation. If you have any questions or tips you can email him at dmccausland1(at)gmail.com

 

Interview: Exodus Talks Tour With Testament, Praises Goatwhore & High On Fire

On April 29, 2015, Testament and Exodus played a sold out show at the Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York for their current leg of the “Dark Roots of Thrash II” tour. This tour is the first time these thrash giants have toured together.

After the opening act Shattered Sun, Exodus took the stage.  They started their set with a nice mix of later material before getting the crowd really going with their classic track “A Lesson in Violence”. The set continued to be a mix of new tracks and classics, such as “The Toxic Waltz” and “Bonded By Blood”. The band ended their set with the fan favorite “Strike of The Beast”. The band’s sound was spot on and the mosh pit and the crowd got more and more energetic as the set went on, a normal trait for Exodus’s shows.

Though Exodus is a tough act to follow, Testament started their set with “Over The Wall”one of their most acclaimed songs, before taking the audience through a retrospective set consisting of their classic studio albums The LegacyThe New Order, and select tracks from Practice What You Preach. The stage had a backdrop of the band’s first album cover as well as two talls signs with demon heads on them that would occasionally breathe smoke.

Strobe lights flickered and changed color through the whole set. Metalheads both young and old were screaming along to their favorite tracks from these classic albums. The band played an almost two hour set , with their perfect sound and stage presence keeping the crowd interested. It’s certainly a metal tour to behold. I caught up with Exodus drummer Tom Hunting prior to the show, who brought me up to speed on the current tour, his opinion on modern metal music, and a couple of fanboyish tidbits…

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Photo by Ray Rollings Jr.

How did an awesome double bill tour like this happen?

This is a sequel to Testament’s “Dark Roots Of Thrash Tour” they did two years ago.  For this tour we wanted to bring a Bay Area package. The two bands never really toured together. We have played random one offs but never a full tour. It’s doing good, man.

Yeah, I heard the show at Mojoes in Joliet, Illinois over sold by four hundred tickets.

That wasn’t us, that was the promoter (laughs). Something was going down with the local government and the venue. A fire marshal was called. The promoter was in a tough spot because the venue was only meant for so many people. I think the local government was trying to bestow some new laws. It got messy. They would do a body to body swap where someone would get out of the venue, then they would let another person and that person who went out wouldn’t be allowed back in. It sucks for the fans, but we couldn’t do anything about it.

With the high demand for this tour and how well it’s doing, do you feel Exodus is bigger now then they were in the 80’s?

I think it’s a different time & different climate for sure. I think the state of metal, in this country, is pretty good right now. People are still coming to shows and supporting live music, which is good because I think this music is best delivered live. We are in a very good place right now.

Are there any modern metal bands you keep an eye on? 

I’m not the most knowledgeable on new bands, but I feel Warbringer are doing it old school, and doing it well. Then there is Goatwhore, who I absolutely love. Not really a thrash band, but my favorite Bay Area band right now is High on Fire. They just have that groove. I love anything with groove in it. A bunch of bands today are doing it right.

Any advice for young metal bands just starting out?

Keep in mind that if you are able to play music, for a living, it’s a gift. Don’t get caught up in your own legends, no matter how many people tell you how bad-ass you are.

Back in 1989 you guys did a cover of the War classic “Lowrider“. What made you beside to do an out of genre cover like that? If you were to cover another 70’s funk song what would it be?

Probably something by The Ohio Players. Not “Rollercoaster of Love”, but maybe “Fire” or “Skin Tight“. We tossed around ideas of doing another funk cover. That War song was kinda near and dear to our hearts because Gary and I grew up in an area where the funk culture was pretty heavy. That song covered to heavy metal pretty easily. War just wrote good music, super talented band with a killer riff section.

If you were trapped on a desert island and could only bring one album which would it be?

It would have to be Rainbow’s Rising. I just think that album is a journey. It’s just a great album. Classic metal band with Dio and Richie Blackmore, it just crushes.

Also check out my interview with Testament’s Eric Peterson.

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Photo by Rob Muller.

Edited by Doug McCausland.

10 Astonishing Metal Bands From Israel

This June, yours truly will be making the third trip of his life to Israel. In honor of this upcoming trip, I’ve decided to do some reflecting on my favorite bands from the country home to “The Holy Land”, in order of formation date. Metal is viewed as sacrilegious particularly in Israel. Many venues will not host shows on the Sabbath. Despite this, several of the bands below have endured the controversy and have become well-respected in the metal underground.

Salem – Tel Aviv – Formed in 1985

The name was taken from the horror film “The Witches Of Salem”. Their style is a blend of death and doom metal with occasional oriental influences. Drummer Nir Nakav, has stated in an interview for the documentary “Global Metal”, that their lyrics pertaining to Jewish suffering has had the band butting heads with Varg Vikernes (despite Varg admitting to appreciating the music). In 1994, they released their debut full-length Kaddish. The title pertains to the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer for dead relatives, included in three daily synagogue services.

The opening track, “The Fading”, received regular airplay on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. The 9th track on Kaddish, “Ha’ayara Bo’eret” (The Burgh is Burning), is a cover of an Israeli folk song, sung in Hebrew, and its lyrical content is associated with the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust. They’ve released 4 other studio albums since then, and in 2011, Kaddish was re-released. A special concert to commemorate the re-release took place in Tel Aviv, where GN’R guitarist “Bumblefoot” joined the band on stage.

 

Orphaned Land – Bat Yam – Formed in 1992

A progressive metal band which incorporates elements of Middle-Eastern and Arabic music. Each of their albums contain the concept of two extremes clashing; Shadow to Light, East to West, Past to Present, or God to Satan. Their lyrics have often promoted a message of unity and peace between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Their debut on Century Media Records, Mabool, tells the story of three angels, one from each of the Abrahamic religions, on a journey to warn humanity of a flood invoked as punishment for its sins. Despite several biblical references in their lyrics, most members of this band identify as agnostic or atheist. Overall, the one message this band wants to relay to all who listen is as follows: “People should be judged by their hearts and inner sincerity, not their religious beliefs.”

 

Melechesh – Jerusalem – Formed in 1993

They may be residing in The Netherlands now, but Melechesh have a history in Israel and are still being marketed as a band from Jerusalem. Their name derives from two words with Aramaic and Hebrew origins. The meaning of the conjoined words is “King of Fire”. Up until 1998 the band recorded and gigged in Jerusalem where they were harassed by law enforcement officers with deeply held religious beliefs, prompting their relocation to The Netherlands. Their debut was controversially titled As Jerusalem Burns. They refer to their sound as Sumerian metal. Just think Absu, but with more oriental influence. On their most recent album, Enki, from this year, they had the opportunity to collaborate with Max Cavalera.

 

Distorted – Bat-Yam – Formed in 1996

They took influence from progressive and gothic metal bands and an oriental influence from their country-mates Orphaned Land. They didn’t release a debut album or tour outside of the Tel-Aviv area until 10 years after forming. The success of the debut, Memorial, earned them a deal with Candlelight Records.

 

Winterhorde – Haifa Region – Formed in 1999

Originally called Autumn Palace, they changed their name to Winterhorde two years later after some soul searching and line-up changes. The success of their demo grabbed the attention of Greek label Burning Star Records. The label would release their debut album, Nebula, prompting positive feedback and demand for Israel’s answer to theatrical melodic death/black metal to tour Europe. Their 2010 sophomore album Underwatermoon was met with similar positive response, and the band is currently working on album number three, Maestro. They have shared the stage with several international acts with similar musical influences. Such includes Keep Of Kalessin, Negura Bunget, Crematory, and later this year they are due to open for Ne Obliviscaris in Tel-Aviv.

 

The Fading – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2000

They began at the dawn of the new millennium as Excessum, then changed their name to “The Fading” (me thinks named after the opening track on Salem’s debut) in 2006. Two years later, The Fading competed in Israel’s division of the Waken Metal Battle for a spot on the WET stage at that year’s Waken Open Air. They competed against several Israeli metal bands including one with their former producer, and won. They also won the global division of the Waken Metal Battle, held while they played the festival. Their prize as such, was a record deal with the festival’s record label. Under this deal the band recorded their debut album, In Sin We Find Salvation.

The success following the debut, has earned them the opening spot on several shows with international metal bands coming through the Middle-East. They are often matched up with melodic death metal favorites such as In Flames, Children of Bodom, and Arch Enemy. In 2013, the band announced work on a sophomore album, self-produced. As of this year, they have announced via Facebook that ‘Till Life Do Us Part, is due to be released later this year.

 

Nail Within – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2001

Like The Fading, Nail Within play melodic death metal, though the latter is a little more aggressive and thrashy. While recording their debut album in Germany, the band got to meet figures of the Teutonic Thrash Metal scene, as well as At The Gates singer Thomas Lindberg, all whom made guest appearances on the eponymous album. The band ended up being short-lived, breaking up soon after their release show, yet being highly influential to Israel’s melodeath scene. They played a one-off reunion show in Tel-Aviv with Salem’s drummer as well a guest appearance by Thomas Lindberg.

 

Dagor Dagorath – Afula – Formed in 2003

Filed under Tolkien-named metal bands. Specifically, their name refers to “The Battle Of Battles”. They faced a four-year hiccup due to some members’ mandatory civic duty of military service. Hence their debut album, Yetzer Ha’ra, was released 6 years after their formation. They have been featured in an issue of Metal Hammer UK as well as the first volume of Burning Roots, an anti-nsbm compilation.

 

Whorecore – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2003

A six-piece grindcore/death metal act, from “The city that never stops”. Known for playing as many shows as they can with a total disregard for venue or audience. They are considered Israel’s best live actin the punk, grind, and metal communities. They have two full-lengths under their belt, with their debut album, Protection, released in 2006. Also featured in “Global Metal”. “Supporting violence against stupidity since 2003” (Facebook excerpt).

 

Hammercult – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2010

Considered a supergroup in Israel’s metal scene that featured two members of The Fading. Their unique blend of thrash and death metal won them the Israeli Waken Metal Battle of 2011, as well as the Global Waken Metal Battle that same year. They’ve done several European tours with the likes of D.R.I., Sepultura, and Napalm Death. Their first album, Anthems Of The Damned, was released by German label Sonic Attack in 2012. Continuing to promote their second album, as well as a potential third album, they will be the support act for Overkill’s show in Tel-Aviv this June.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Acropolis – Melodic Power Metal with Trance influences  – Tel Aviv

Buzzer – Stoner/Sludge Metal – Tel-Aviv

Edited by Doug McCausland