The Metal Minute wishes each and every one of you a ragin' Cajun kinda New Year filled with good times, prosperity, food in your belly, warmth on your backs, gas in your vehicle and lots of loud vibes to take away the negative vibes that threaten to drag you down...
Since launching this page in August, I've at times questioned how long I should persevere with it, given the shortened personal time and overall bad luck that this past year presented that needed full-scale attention. I think I've learned that to move forward you have to be pulled back two or three spaces like on a Monopoly board, and though I drew close to the Free Parking jackpot a number of times, only to be handed a lion's share of money-grubbing Community Chest cards--frequently to the tottering edge of bankruptcy--I have grown a little stronger and hopefully wiser from this very difficult year.
As for The Metal Minute, the increased audience I've enjoyed from week-to-week as the hit counts pile up and many of you have reached out to me either asking for coverage or to simply say you like Guinness as much as I do has kept me and the site motivated to continue on. The tremendous support the bands and the labels and especially the readers have given The Metal Minute makes me realize it can grow even bigger in the upcoming year and hopefully make room for ventures and projects to which I can personally nurture and reach the level of happiness in my writing career that I've pounded the better part of 20 years to achieve. I feel I'm successful just by getting to know each and every one of you who reads this thing and bothers to leave a comment or drop me a line or connect with me at MySpace. Better yet, I'm rewarded from you all and I thank you profusely for getting behind The Metal Minute. I simply would've let this go without you, if only to play for hours with my fully interactive R2D2 in my downtime and nothing else...
In college, I was the assistant editor of the campus newspaper and I also had my own music column which nobody except for three people read when I focused strictly on metal and punk rock. I had to diversify in order to gain a readership, and it's a lesson I've carried into my adult life. I swore I'd never like country music; well, maybe not today's pop country crap, but the old school...yeah, I'm caving in like I caved in to jazz, soul, funk, R&B, rockabilly, classical, Celtic, hip hop (old school, not this current corporate bullshit), electronic, alternative, techno, world music, you name it. It's a musical globe and you need to open up to its tuneful revolutions, lest you miss out on living altogether.
So enough of the mush and the preaching. Let me just wrap by saying that my audience here at The Metal Minute is a thousand times fuller than my college writing days, and while the internet has a large role in it, I'm gratified a huge contingency of people found their way here and make it a regular stop.
No update tomorrow as we have a very long and happy night ahead of us. May your celebration of the new year be a joyous one and consider these words of wisdom I took comfort in yesterday: the optimist stays up late to embrace the new year; the pessimist stays up late to be rid of the old year...
Monday, December 31, 2007
Fight Pretty - Rewiring the Human Body
2007 Dwell Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
One thing about Every Time I Die, they've really opened a lot of doors and twirled a lot of brain noodles in the metal underground, so much that by now they can honestly be considered an influential band of this generation. Not that Houston's Fight Pretty should be thought of as an Every Time I Die clone; it's simply that the popularity of ETID and Dillinger Escape Plan has made the sound of disjointed and deliberately confused hardcore more appealing to a mass audience, which gives Fight Pretty a better platform to loudly reach out from.
Rewiring the Human Body is a noisome screech out of Texas filled with roughshod rhythms, piercing fret scratches, hollow (but oh so good) tempos and a raging voice of helter-skelter that is altogether tough to digest like raw squid, but as much as Fight Pretty squeezes and grabs with their chopsticks of chaos, there becomes the sound of urgency beneath their intended lack of discipline.
Vocalist Denniz concocts a witch hazel yelp fest mixed of Ian MacKaye and Converge's Jacob Bannon with lyrics that spill self-contamination and internal loathing. His manic wailing is reflective of the unsettling fears and doubts many younger people wrestle with, frequently to the teetering edge of implosion. Songs like "Bad Sex," "Tradition Burner," "Giallo," "Art Abuse" and "Kurt Cobain's Not Dead" all deal with a dispirited internal flogging materialized through tobacco haze, sadly-filled shot glasses and dried jizz on the stomach that the muse is too emotionally drained to wipe away.
In short, Rewiring the Human Body is a cacophonous dome shot of an ever-growing reality brewed from clouds of apathy and ravenously ingested hatred. Approach this one with caution; this is the sound of a damaged spirit, which gives it a dangerous air of empathy.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Rob Rock - Garden of Chaos
2007 Candlelight Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
While younger eyes may chuckle at the moniker of Rob Rock, there's no doubt the name has historically commanded absolute respect in the metal world. One key reason is for Rob's work with the underappreciated Impellitteri. Another is the fact that Rob was in league with the legendary Tony MacAlpine, Tommy Aldrige and Rudy Sarzo in 1986 for the M.A.R.S. cult classic Project Driver. Rob's also popped up in other avenues such as Joshua, Axel Rudi Pell, Warrior and Driver, just to name a few. Nevermind the countless guest appearances and session performances his name is tagged to.
As a solo artist, Rob Rock has embraced who he is and always will be, a commanding power metal vocalist who surrounds himself with no less than capable musicians who give him the drive and energy to propel himself and his spiritual messages of hope. On his fourth solo album Garden of Chaos, the only surprise is the extra polish compared to 2005's Holy Hell.
Garden of Chaos is both leaner and stronger than Rob's previous solo work, largely due to the co-production and co-writing of power metal savant and guitar ace Roy Z. Rob's association with Roy Z has been a long-standing affair, and the duo penned seven of the album's eleven tracks together. Assuredly Z's heavily-strummed influence is reflected on songs like "Metal Breed," "Satan's Playground" and "Savior's Call."
As the central theme of Garden of Chaos is a lamenting search for God's lost paradise, the album takes on a larger-than-life quality on "Savior's Call" as well as the pulsing chug of "Spirit in the Sky" and the soaring speed of "Milennial Reign." If all Christian-based music sounded this triumphant instead of chiefly sappy...
Rob Rock's convincing delivery in a heavy metal strategm that opens up for the wistful ballad "Unconditional" and the uplifting acoustic-driven finale "Ode to Alexander" is the reason Garden of Chaos succeeds as well as it does. Assuredly this is his finest hour as a solo artist and with Carljohan Grimmark and Andreas Johansson providing a thoroughly stable rhythm section (along with Roy Z and a cotillion of guest musicians including Liza Rock all in tow), Garden of Chaos is a statement piece in a career already defined well before it.
Seizure Crypt - Hello, My Name is...Madness
2007 3:16 Productions
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Some bands purport themselves to be hardcore, and some are hardcore, the brain-busting, lick the glass off the floor and light your farts on fire kind of hardcore. Back in the day, awards for nutjob hardcore purism would've gone straight to Gang Green, Cryptic Slaughter and the Crumbsuckers, just to name a few.
New York's Seizure Crypt would assuredly corral themselves an honorary badge of mayhem just for their zany stage antics on road jaunts called the "Fuck Pay to Play Tour" and "Bring Your Shit Tour," which includes demoltion of 12-foot ladders and instigation of a Thanksgiving prop fight amongst their moshing fans. In short, Seizure Crypt is freakin' bonkers and they prove it with every rabid lick of Hello, My Name Is...Madness.
There's no style, barely a form and hardly any redemptive value to Seizure Crypt, but they don't pretend to possess any of it. Their blazing fast hybrid of thrash, metal and grindcore is the stuff of jacked-up lunacy. You can hear the spit spatter their mikes and that might be the sound of someone taking a leak on the studio floor (and at Seizure Crypt's speed, that has to be a messy stream) because these guys just wreck without abandon and bellow like they're not satisfied until they've fully aggravated the shit out of their neighbors. Seizure Crypt doesn't eat refried beans or gulp down thorazines in Queens; they toss beer bottles over their shoulders and take inspiration from the splintering shatter sound.
Mike SOS leads his insane stomp posse on cuts like "The Great Defector," "Thankless" and "The Deadend" with mongrel yelps that if nothing, has a brutal honesty about it. There's no sugarcoating, no subscribing to baritone-choked hocking that's the norm of a post-Biohazard young gun hardcore scene. Mike SOS and his roaring cohort (and band founder) Tom Reardon might as well shout toe-to-toe with Billy Milano. If you're witness to this tryst, bring rags to wipe the saliva off of your forehead in the slimy aftermath, because that's how Seizure Crypt operates; no fucking around, no selling out, no wussing things down. You either keep up with their skullcrushing zaniness or you hightail it straight for the yellow line to Midtown.
Seizure Crypt brandishes a little bit of Black Flag prowess on "Engima" and "Herein the Problem Lies," as well as some Agnostic Front crunch on "Inhuman Nature," which signals that there is some substance beneath their unapologetic disorder. As Seizure Crypt is currently working on a new album, it should be interesting to see what direction they go from here, if any. As it is, Hello, My Name Is...Madness is the sound of 4:00 a.m. alley defecation and it works like a charm.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door
2007 Starz Home Entertainment / Modern Cine
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
There are some stories so horrific that to submit yourself to their brute impact is to strip yourself body and soul to it. The anguish and torture that some people in this life endure at the hands of barbaric, heartless creatures often goes untold, buried beneath the shattered psyches of the victims who are often left shelled in the aftermath of their dreadful experiences, assuming they've lived through them. Frequently the victims are children or preteens, which only increases the intensity of the crimes inflicted upon them. To beat a child is taboo; to mentally abuse a child is utterly wicked. To rape and sexually maim a child is, well...unspeakable.
Best-selling author Jack Ketchum turned the literary world on its ear with his brutally honest account The Girl Next Door, a guttural novel about extreme child abuse that is based on actual events, namely the 1965 rape, torture and murder case of Sylvia Likens. The filthy atrocities extolled upon a young girl in a house full of seemingly normal late-fifties suburbanites is outlined in controversial detail in the book, and brought to life now in daring fashion in this film adaptation.
Obviously not to be confused with the 2004 sex angst movie Girl Next Door starring Elisha Cuthbert, Jack Ketchum's story is a Lifetime network story devoid of the mush and the sap. The bad guys nearly get away with their sickening crimes, and there's no feelgood bird-chirping at the end. If you think you're pissed off at the stereotypical misogynism-brought-to-justice plots (not to make light of a sensile subject) of these bon bon teledramas, trust me, you're wholly unprepared for what you'll be submitted to with Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.
I've frequently enjoyed conversations about having the fantastical opportunity to visit any place in yesteryear and often I've settled upon the 1950s. There's a certain glamour and appeal about Fifties America that's endeared to those who lived the times, and I've had my exposures through parents who were there and reflect fondly upon the good times and the bad, a time where where they carried switchblades in their pockets but almost always settled duels with their fists. The romantic picture of shiny chrome mags and sharp cut fins on the backs of sleek iron chariots driven by leather-clad stallions with Vitalis-slicked duck's ass pompadours often triggers a laissez-faire take-no-shit attitude that appeals to most men of any generation. Ditto for the bobbing ponytails and sleeve-rolled button down shirts and denim capris of the ladies found in the greaser lions' company. The sound of Bill Haley & The Comets, Larry Williams, Santo and Johnny, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers... All part of the facade that creates a magicical mysticism of the Fabulous Fifties.
Stephen King through his horror stories has brought a more realistic window of the fifties in which he grew up, which makes room for the striped shirts, the pleated slacks, the Converse Chucks, the penny loafers and the cowlicks amongst the raging machismo and feministic rebellion. Be it Rob Reiner's beautiful interpretation of Stand By Me, Tommy Lee Wallace's edgy televised rendition of It or Mick Garris' sensitive take on Riding the Bullet, the message ushered by Stephen King in these vehicles of terror is that not everything was peachy keen and arrow straight in Pleasantville. For all of the idyllic status quo of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver, you still have to remember that the fifties had to confront the likes of Ed Gein and Charles Starkweather, the latter a 21-year-old spree killer who gave greasers at-large an extra bad rap.
Keep all of this mind as you watch The Girl Next Door, because there's no books of love or Mr. Bass Man driving a tuneful, idealistic harmony to keep you safe. No boy lollipops, no Peggy Sues, no teddy bears... The Girl Next Door is brute ugly in the same fashion that Last House On the Left was, or I Spit On Your Grave or Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. This is an emotional plunge into hell that possesses a base of truism to it, which makes it all the more shocking.
On the last throes of innocence, a group of kids turn on one of their own through the manipulation of a cold-hearted divorcee whose values and scruples are a twisted grab bag of World War II conversative and bluntly hedonistic. In Aunt Ruth's disgraceful microcosm, she disguises her shame at being rejected as a woman by inflicting callous punishment upon her orphaned neices Megan (Blythe Auffarth) and Susan (Madeline Taylor). Already a mother to a clan of boys, Ruth Chandler (Blanche Baker) is affectionate to them, but not the girls. She allows underaged drinking (the boys only, of course) to go on under her roof, which entreats her to the gang as "one of the guys." Still, the deeper we get into The Girl Next Door, the more of Aunt Ruth's deep-rooted hatred against her own gender unfolds, incorporating repulsively with each frame.
Like Stand By Me, the story is unfolded through the eyes of one of the witnesses to the tragic events of the story, David Moran (Daniel Manche). The older David sets up the drama with bookend narration dotted by deeply affecting prose, ushering the tale with the gloomy epithet that David's second wife who describes her pain knows nothing of the word compared to what he and his playground love Megan endured in 1958.
The despicable things that happen to Megan and her impaired sister define cruelty. As Megan is humiliated time and again by the Chandler family with painstaking measures, the story goes beyond rough disciplinarian actions and delves waist-deep into the revolting. Blindfolded and gagged with unsanitary rags, hung by the wrists, stripped bare naked, given water to drink that's been pissed in...this is--forgive the awful pun--child's play compared to the horrors poor Megan (and the viewer) is eventually forced to withstand. While director Gregory M. Wilson handles this delicate subject with class, the implications offscreen and the piercing screams of Megan is enough to make even a Hostel junkie squirm.
Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door is nearly unbearable, that's the ink-wet bottom line. For all the time period replication Wilson and his crew whirls together decently, the desire for an Elvis or Chuck Berry tune works on your nerves, anything to separate yourself from the lamentable plight of Megan. Pass us a Rolling Rock pony or at least an orange Nehi, please, for the love of God! A Sky Bar, maybe? Though the film only goes an hour and a half, the prevailing emotion is that you want time to speed this thing up as much as you want Megan and Susan to get out of that bomb shelter hellhole where at some points, most of the neighborhood kids have congregated to take their tolls out on a girl they briefly knew as the new kid in town, but nonetheless played friendly with before confronting and embracing evil in the Chandler house.
The exploration of how violent a turncoat society can get in this film is its loudest message. Despite having David as Megan's advocate, neither child will escape this ordeal unscarred. Neither will you once the film has ended...
Candlelight Records will be releasing the much-delayed Marilyn Manson early years retrospective Lord of Darkness on January 15th.
The DVD will feature footage of the original Manson lineup including Daisy Berkowitz, Gidget Gein, Madonna Wayne Gacy and Sara Lee Lucas. Lord of Darkness traces back to the Spooky Kids era of late 1989 and follows Manson and his former hellions on a 1990 road haunt.
Jwyanza Hobson (c) 2005-07 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute
Former Crisis guitarist Jwyanza Hobson and one-time drummer Josh Florian have begun a new project calling themselves Ace of Sabres. Hobson will be singing in the new group as well as playing guitar.
Hobson is also currently working with Crisis pal Afzaal Deen as well as Eyes of Fire's Nicholas Bernardi and Daniel Kaufman in the atmospheric art metal unit The Angels Whispered Danger, which is still tracking material.
For more information and to sample some very well-produced demos click here: Ace of Sabres MySpace Page
Friday, December 28, 2007
You knew it was coming, but it's also coming as part of a joint venture with many other scribes such as Heavy Metal Time Machine, Heavy Metal Addiction, Hard Rock Hideout, Rock 'n Roll and Meandering Nonsense, Rock of Ages, Bring Back Glam and others...
I already compiled my best-of list for Metal Maniacs and AMP magazine, so this is what I consider my 25 Immaculate Receptions for 2007 with one late runner-up. As metal continues to diversify and expand, it gets much harder to choose the best of the best. There are countless albums who didn't make the list that deserve to be otherwise. You know me and you know who you are; it's nothing personal and I love you just the same. Chalk it up on a very active metal scene with a ridiculous amount of practitioners. That being said, I came to the conclusion that Between the Buried and Me's Colors deserves top honors for the year. You've read my review here at The Metal Minute, nothing else needs said other than astonishing...
So, without further pomposity, here's my list. Scroll to the bottom and visit these other fine writers for their year-end picks as well...
1. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME - Colors
2. TITAN - A Raining Sun of Light and Love, For You and You and You
3. WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – Two Hunters
4. THE ABSENCE – Riders of the Plague
5. LIZZY BORDEN – Appointment With Death
6. LONG DISTANCE CALLING – Satellite Bay
7. BAD BRAINS – Build a Nation
8. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – Era Vulgaris
9. THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER – Nocturnal
10. YAKUZA – Transmutations
11. OBITUARY – Xecutioner’s Return
12. HIMSA – Summon in Thunder
13. NILE – Ithyphallic
14. PRIZE COUNTRY – Lottery of Recognition
15. DAATH – The Hinderers
16. ROSETTA – Wake/Lift
17. UDO - Mastercutor
18. SCORPIONS – Humanity Hour 1
19. AMPLIFIED HEAT – How Do You Like the Sound of That
20. CHRIS CAFFERY – Needles and Pins
21. EVERY TIME I DIE – The Big Dirty
22. SKELETONWITCH – Behind the Permafrost
23. OM - Pilgrimage
24. THE RED CHORD – Prey for Eyes
25. KAMELOT – Ghost Opera
Runner-Up: OCTOBER FILE - Holy Armour in the Jaws of God
Please also visit these pages:
Bring Back Glam Bring Back Glam
Hard Rock Hideout Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Addiction Heavy Metal Addiction
Heavy Metal Time Machine Heavy Metal Time Machine
Imagine Echoes Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock Faves Layla's Classic Rock Faves
Raise Your Fists Raise Your Fists
Rock of Ages Rock of Ages
Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense
What's up with Hollywood these days that they disrespect their viewers as much as they disrespect their magic makers, so much that movies are becoming less of an event than they used to be? Is technology so grand that Hollywood takes for granted the relative ease (compared to old school methods) of computer-assisted filmmaking that they feel obliged to cram as many "mega" movies as they can all at the same time? Do they think people today are so ready to peel off their dispoable dollars each and every weekend when a movie ticket now costs $9.00 a pop? Do they think this society is so instant-gratification-dependent that it must dazzle and tantalize us all with The Golden Compass, I Am Legend, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Sweeney Todd, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Water Horse, Enchanted, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story all in one fell swoop? Throw in your mandatory chick bribes like P.S. I Love You, and Juno and the award-courting sophisticates The Great Debaters and Charlie Wilson's War, and all it does is prompt this question: Just who the hell do you think you are, Hollywood?
Say what you will about any of these films; this rant isn't about a question of taste. It's about Hollywood's lack of integrity and lack of regard for its audience, which has traditionally been viewed as a cash cattle chute they want to jack a deathkill spike into people's skulls before separating them of their duckets. When you consider Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, you have to take a couple things into consideration. The first Aliens vs. Predator was a flop despite being a vehicle comic book addicts had been salivating acid for. Wasn't Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection enough of a bomb themselves? What in the world prompted a second AVP film, especially released on Christmas day? Granted, those who don't observe the holiday need catering to some extent, but honestly, what marketing genius decided we needed to go see alien species tear the shit out of each other on Christmas? You can stay home and watch that on the DVD your loved one gave you if you're so inclined to reject A Christmas Story or Miracle On 34th Street. That's your prerogative.
Ditto for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. What are these clueless movie execs thinking? Are they trying to put a stake into the heart of this film without giving it a proper chance to fly? I'm personally very excited to see this movie after watching the brilliant Broadway revival in New York last year. But not when I want to see The Golden Compass first, regardless of some bible thumpers who would rather I take into their consideration that this fantasy epic is a spit on the toes of God. I'm even interested in seeing I Am Legend, though this is no more a festive venture than Black Christmas and even though it's already been done twice in the past as The Omega Man with Chuck Heston and The Last Man On Earth with Vincent Price. Sure, I'm a sucker to see how Will Smith carries this one, particularly with the aid of better tech to make Richard Matheson's bleak vision of apocalypse come to light. Still, why all of this dark shit during the most peaceful season of the year? Why did Fred Claus come out in October? The same reason Rob Zombie's Halloween came out in August; Hollywood is a greedy bunch of pricks who are in cahoots with Corporate America in a cheap ploy to jumpstart holiday seasons ahead of their time. Shame on all of it...
The point, however, is that Hollywood is no longer content to put a sincere effort into making a film any kind of big deal beyond a month of promotion and maybe some earlybird teaser trailers in advance. Surely I'm looking forward to the new 10,000 BC in March, but when it finally gets here, I expect it to hang around for maybe three weeks before disappearing in the light of the next big CGI fiesta that Hollywood has slammed together to lure us back to the theaters. I'm not stupid; I studied marketing throughout college and essentially what I do with my music journalism is marketing (regardless of whether it's good or bad), so it appalls me to see Hollywood's crass demeanor in how much product it rams down our throats like cheap tequila. Like musicians and stages, actors and movies are twice what they were 20 years ago, and in a finicky, spoiled brat Rome such as we live in now, the choice to snobbily accept or deny a piece of art--be it a painting, an album or a film--has turned it into a commodity. Is it any wonder why Beowulf was the talk of the town for a couple weeks and now it's already vanished as quickly as it was hyped? Already the DVDs are being pressed, so be on the lookout for it at your local Wal Mart as early as next week, given the immediate recycling Hollywood gorges itself upon.
Remember when a Star Wars movie was an event? Remember when Alien and Aliens was an event? Rocky? Indiana Jones? Friday the 13th? Purple Rain? Vacation? Even Gandhi? These were movies many looked forward to and wow, the films actually spent a considerable amount of time lurking in the theaters, giving people a chance to catch them before they got yanked ahead of a proper cycle life. Nowadays, you can either make a stab at catching them before the next flux of eye-popping sail-setters barge their way onto your wish list, or you can just blow it all off and wait for them to appear on video or cable. Sadly, this is the collective option of Lazy America and in some ways you can't blame them. When Hollywood wastes so much of its resources churning out puke in a weak attempt towards hedging demographics, then people should rebel. When half the movies coming out today are goddamned remakes or recycled plots, it's a sad telling of where we're at in the entertainment field.
Of course, people today don't expect that much since they're willing to embrace cheaply made dreck by bobbing camera hacks featuring average joes stabbing each other in the backs in elimination style. Reality t.v. is a curse, as are crime shows with lead characters as lifeless and icy as the corpses they prod from week-to-week. Minus the hilarious (and soon to be axed) Scrubs, why the hell do we need more medical shows? Wake up, people! This is why Hollywood exploits you!
What's the purpose of this, you ask? Most likely out of motivation that I'm just as broke as most people but I still love going to the movies. I'm old school; I don't want CDs to vanish and I want my movie theaters there when I can get to them. Hell, I support a local drive-in just because I'm that much of a purist. I don't need to be huckstered by an ever-changing marquee that differs from week-to-week as much as the rosters of contemporary sports teams. Perhaps what it all boils down to is that everyone is so motivated to succeed that they push, slam and cram until they make a score. Sure, there's something admirable in doing your best and receiving your proper due. However, when you sacrifice the awe, the intrigue, the splendor and the principles of your foundation in order to generate a quick hit, then that's just selling out.
Hollywood, you suck.
For the old league, this oughtta bring back some memories; for the new school, this one's a who's who of eighties metal gathered under Ronnie James Dio's wing in the name of charity...
Dio, Dokken, Rob Halford, Iron Maiden, - Hear N' Aid
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Thursday, December 27, 2007
Paths of Possession - The End of the Hour
2007 Metal Blade Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Those who have been following Paths of Possession remember when they were a trio that once included former Morbid Angel guitarist Richard Brunelle. Having released their first album Legacy in Ashes on their own duckets, Paths of Possession has come a few miles as remaining founders Randy Rutman and Jay Fossen have long since fortified their ranks with second guitarist Jack Goodwin, drummer Nick Goodyear and none other than Cannibal Corpse's own George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher growling at the helm.
Having the Corpsegrinder in league with Paths of Possession not only endeared them to a deal with Metal Blade, but it's opened them to a broader audience. Between Paths of Possession's last album Promises in Blood and their 2007 album The End of the Hour, the band has presented Fisher and their audience an alternately challenging form of extremity.
Rather than pound brutally and relentlessly at top speed in deliberately nonsensical thrash odes to gore, Paths of Possession keeps things largely at mid-tempo with a few spurts of speed to pay off their build-ups. Utilizing a heavy dash of old school death and black metal structuring ala Bathory, Candlemass and Dark Angel, Paths of Possession is more about the art of the song versus the bluntness of it. On The End of the Hour, the album's muse focuses upon a war survivor trying to make sense of all that he's been exposed to, mentally standing on the threshhold of hell. He is hypothetically presented with the choice to exhume the hatred he's built up as an exploited soldier or surrender to it and become a harbinger against mankind.
In its own way, The End of the Hour's grim storyline is something of a protest piece, if not a sardonic psychological commentary. When the album does blitz in tempo, it's for a purpose. Mostly the menacing pace of songs like "As Sanities Split," "Memory Burn," "I Am Forever" and "Engulfing the Pure" is to create an aura of the sinister that is capitalized in increments on quicker songs like "In Offering of Spite" and "Pushing Through the Pass."
What Paths of Possession's restrained rhythms offers the listener is a chance to consume Corpsegrinder more in full. As he's normally forced to bark at the speed of a carny huckster or auctioneer in Cannibal Corpse, here he's forced to linger and taper his vocals to fit the more labored tone that Paths of Possession puts at his feet. The chance for Corpsegrinder to catch his breath between verses is unique enough, but the chance for the listener to soak him and the band up is the primary reason to listen to Paths of Possession. They may not be as surgically precise as Cannibal Corpse, but the stitches Paths of Possession threads are heady and felt on a large portion of their punctures.
Attention bassists and drummers! If you have your act together, NYC death metal legends Dimentianon are seeking your services. Contact Greg at email@example.com or www.myspace.com/Dimentianon or call 631-819-2086
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
"MIDDIAN, the band featuring former YOB leader Mike Scheidt, has issued the following update:
"As many of you know, MIDDIAN received a cease-and-desist demand in October from MIDIAN of Milwaukee LLC. This demand required MIDDIAN to stop using our name completely, stop selling our album, and further demanded that all of our recorded CDs and albums be destroyed. MIDDIAN was served a cease-and-desist by a band that has never played outside of Wisconsin, hasn't put out a single record, or had a steady lineup in the last seven years. They hadn't even updated their website since year 2000 as of a few weeks ago. We played Milwaukee in May, and no one there even mentioned a local band MIDIAN of one 'd.' Nor did one of their 'fans' come to the show.
"Prior to this demand, we had never heard of them. Upon further research into the group, we discovered they had not used their name or trademark in years or even played outside of Wisconsin, ever. Our initial response was that our bands could peacefully co-exist. Especially since we learned that our usage combined with their non-usage entitled us to the name, rendering their trademark useless. But we felt it would be wasting everyone's time and money to send the issue to litigation. Besides, before the name MIDDIAN was chosen, a careful online search was done, proving that no other active unit had the same spelling.
"Instead of responding or agreeing to our offer of co-existence, they filed a federal suit against the three of us individually, our label (Metal Blade, who dropped us because of the suit), our booking agent Nanotear Booking, and an online merchandiser we had never even heard of until we saw the complaint.
"We sent them word that we would give the name up and even agreed to some other demands that seemed unreasonable, simply because we're not in a financial position to fight it. They refused to accept our settlement, demanding we pay them tens of thousands of dollars.
"By right of actual usage worlwide, the name MIDDIAN is ours. Regardless of that we have no choice but to FIGHT and defend ourselves in court. We intend to strip them of their trademark and deny them their unfair demands of money and of our music.
"We're humbly asking for YOUR help. Spread the word far and wide, to wherever you can. If you can afford it, please donate some money to our defense fund. We're going to have A LOT of legal fees and we're simply not in a position to pay for it by ourselves.
"We would like to thank everyone that has sent us messages. The underground metal community's love has simply been overwhelming.
"With your help and support, MIDDIAN will stand triumphant against this truly evil attack on our persons and families."
Happy holidays, readers! Hope you all are enjoying the season with most of your hair left on top. Why people feel the need to act so uncivilized on Christmas day, in particular at 7:20 pm when everything is shut down and most of the world doesn't have a job to be at is completely beyond me, but just watching my wife get blown by selfish, reckless sons of whores (a couple threading the needle from oncoming traffic) is just unfathomable.
The more we stray into a mindless 24-7 existence, the more I feel like people at-large become hedonistic. If you're talking about an SUV with a nuclear family complete with two kids staring in robotic, drone fashion at tiny video screens while their irresponsible father puts his family in danger including those in the oncoming lane, as well as the passed vehicle that is calmly going just a few ticks above the speed limit, then it just turns my stomach and I begin to feel capital punishment is necessary for speeders, tailgaters and reckless drivers. Imprisonment and immediate revocation of driving privileges. It's that simple.
One may think this is harsh and overreactionary, but I believe that everyone's self-absorption and self-importance is a large reason the nightly news is so depressing and why we get sent nauseating photos of mangled vehicles with torn bodies inside. I can't remember a Christmas ever where I've seen so many inconsiderate jackoffs with no right or reason to behave as if it's a work morning at zero hour. People like this have no regard for their lives, much less anyone else's, so why not show them the value of life? The peace of the season and the intended reflection and tranquility is the real reason we celebrate the day as a nation, though we all (myself included, I assure) have mostly built up a gut-wrenching level of stress inside ourselves just getting ready for the holiday. I blame this syndrome on Corporate America, but that's a rant for another day.
In the stress and anger I previously mentioned, there's coping mechanisms if you're smart enough to embrace them. My mother would always find solace in The Who when she was blood-red angry. In fact, whenever we'd hear "My Generation" thundering in the house, we tended to go back out for another hour or so. Having one of the most dreadful weeks I've had in ages all last week, I found comfort--weirdly enough--in Kiss' Creatures of the Night. I've had my tirades about Gene and Paul's materialist ways and how much of a cash cow Kiss has become; or should I say, always was (we were just too entranced with them to understand we were an exploited demographic). Still, last week really called for an angry album as therapy, and I wasn't looking for the Bad Brains' I Against I to do it since I jam to them more in the name of peace than anger. Since Creatures of the Night was an angry album itself with the inner turmoil that Kiss bore at this time in their career, it's one of the few truly honest albums they recorded. Eric Carr's tremendous pounding gave me all the fuel to relinquish the stress and despair I felt all week, thus Creatures of the Night became the week's winner, much as I expected it to be a Christmas album that won. Sometimes you have to adjust in order to deal.
So let's have 'em, peoples....whattya listenin' to?
Kiss - Creatures of the Night
Lizzy Borden - Visual Lies
The Jam - Compact Snap
Vesania - Distractive Killusions
Thursday - Kill the House Lights
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Christmas Attic
Reverend Horton Heat - We Three Kings
John Denver and The Muppets Christmas
Harry Connick, Jr. - When My Heart Finds Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Black Crowes - Amorica
Opeth - Damnation
Black Eyed Peas - Elephunk
Anthrax - We've Come For You All
Byzantine - Oblivion Beckons
Monday, December 24, 2007
No update tomorrow in observance of Christmas. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and remember 'tis better to give than receive...take that as you will. Keeping things on the light side today, so warm your coffee, hot chocolate or spiced wine and spend a few minutes goofin' with these clips. Merry Christmas!
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Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 6:51 AM
Headbanger's Holiday Bonus Video: Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Wizards in Winter w/Synchronized House Lights by Carson Williams
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Vesania - Distractive Killusions
2007 Napalm Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Last year, Polish black metallers Vesania broke out of Warsaw with their 2005 release God the Lux and courtesy of their deal with Napalm Records, are starting to reach out to the rest of the metal world. Listeners are obviously prepared to receive Vesania's brutal symphonic-laced odes, given the buzz being generated by metal journals and extreme metal fans about their latest conjuring Distractive Killusions.
A large part of the buzz is generated due to Vesania's associated paths that has led drummer Daray to a stable post with his native brethren Vader and Orion as a fixture in Behemoth.
Vesania has just a few short ways to go before reaching the level of intensity of Vader or the finessed veneer of hatred that Dimmu Borgir rules the black metal scene with. On the other hand, Distractive Killusions is impressive enough on its own merits, which are titanic blast beats and mega riffs underscored by orchestral samples and keys as well as truly perverse growling from Orion, who expresses his lunacy with as much unsettling laughter as he does guttural yelping.
Distractive Killusions gallops on crushing pistons that fly freewilled with random containment to ground Vesania's spiteful odes with more majesty than even God the Lux or Firefrost Arcanum possessed. The songwriting on Distractive Killusions is its greatest asset, so much that a song like "Rage of Reason" is damned near progressive with its shifting tempos, triumphant march strides and a synth drench that spills into the next track, "Of Bitterness and Clarity," one that rages away like hellspawn despite the woven synth tapestries that barely encloses it.
With the addition of second guitarist Valeo, Vesania is now fortified with fearsome chords and complicated solos that elevates "Aesthesis," "Of Bitterness and Clarity," "Hell is For Children" and "Narrenschyff" to the heights hinted at on God the Lux. In short, Distractive Killusions is the album that will bring Vesania up the ranks in metal, largely to due to its affiliations, but mostly due to its bestial bombast that is guaranteed to sink its hooks in you like Cenobite chains. Don't struggle against it because this album will rip your flesh apart; just surrender...just surrender...
The Clay People - Waking the Dead
2007 Overit Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
While The Clay People may sound like a grade-B fifties horror discard or the title of a lost Johnny Quest episode, Albany, New York's The Clay People is an underground metal and rock band without classification. Try pegging these guys snugly into any one hole; you'll have better luck trying to wedge one of those plastic triangles into the circle opening on one of those children's bumble balls that's often the ultimate pisser for a 2-year-old.
In some ways, The Clay People have almost no direction on Waking the Dead other than to be as openly experimental within the context of straight-laced heavy riff lines, which means getting openly brazen with lucid electronics and shout-outs to "suck on this" on "Burning Tao," or to muck about with standard radio rock like Fuel, Disturbed and Nickelback with a seemingly intentional screwballish swipe on "Never Give Up" and "Swerve."
The spaced-out guitar lines from Brian McGarvey and John Delehant and pumping drums of Dan Dinsmore on the instrumental "Be Mine" is one of the album's best cuts, particularly due to the trippy, stamping vibe, while bassist Eric Schwanke guides the band with some laid back funk licks on the subsequent song, "Lost," one that would've been basic and ordinary without them in addition to Dan Dinsmore's smacked-up rolls. McGarvey and Delehant also rise to the occasion on "Valentine," "Monsters" and "Never Give Up."
If The Clay People aren't deliberately trying to be cheeky in their work, then one has to wonder where they're coming from. There's a deliberation towards the bizarre with these guys, largely due to the manic, chunky vocals of Daniel Neet, using songs like "Saturn vs. The Dreamer," "Valentine" and "Secret" as a guage. Granted, he sharpens up somewhat on "When Heavens Fall," one of the cooler songs on Waking the Dead that largely works due to the stripped-back distortion that carries most of this wonderfully awkward ballad. Still, like the rest of the band, there appears to be a pointed measure of seeking out the funny beneath the mundane, which is hopefully the intended joke behind Waking the Dead.
Yes, the album rocks quite often and certainly The Clay People are fun to trip to since you're getting something so different you can't quite put your finger on their pulse. But when they throw out a 40 second acoustic thread, "The Ancient One Interlude" and follow it up with a quirky rock jam made stranger with some Duran Duran-like bass lines and interloping synth strikes on "Obstacle (Failure)," then the jury is out on whether or not The Clay People are adhering to a code of undermining silliness or if it's something else altogether. Somehow the joke's on us all regardless...
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Thursday - Kill the House Lights
2007 Victory Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Nowadays admitting you like emo punk takes guts. What was once a vibrant, guttural art form of expression in its early stages with Rites of Spring and Dag Nasty is now mostly a prefab bastardization of music bred on principle and righteousness. These days emo bands and their followers have become the dartboard fodder for the rest of people engaging in the heavier side of music, and there's a reason for it. The reason is that emocore is just as corporate now as hip hop; both were genres bred and bled on the streets, and now both are cash cow doppelgangers. Almost nobody saw the ascension of emo rock in its current state coming, a state that has drastically set division lines in the underground today as much as heavy metal and punk rock constituents once glared at each other with venom in the early-to-mid eighties. Unless you're a fan, just to say the word "emo" makes a lot of people feel like they ate a spoonful of horseradish first.
Though metal purists today would just as soon defecate on a skinny lad clad in a skin-tight tee and a retro new wave hair drape, this symbolic snobbery unfortunately means that some really good bands doing meaningful work get overlooked. Not that Thursday has had any worry about alienation from the music scene; their contingency is teemed with devout listeners, and while one might question the validity of their base demographic today, the simple truth is that Thursday was there at the beginning of the emo explosion before the turn of the millennium, playing to a handful of kids in New Jersey basements with the carbonized post punk explosiveness of Hot Water Music, Fugzai and early Thrice. Elite hardcore listeners would cite that Thursday's debut album Waiting is their finest moment as a punk band because of their endearments to We're All Broken, At the Drive-In and Snapcase. However, Thursday has reached for something bigger in their evolution.
Over the years, Thursday's songwriting and instrumental execution has gotten so alt-rock expansive that their name frequently gets mentioned in the same sentence as The Cure. Ironically, Robert Smith himself has expressed having difficulty listening to Thursday because of their blunt intensity. On their new retrospective CD/DVD Kill the House Lights, Thursday explores their rise to fame and near implosion through a two-hour film that is as interesting--and narrowly tragic--a music documentary as any filmed.
On their way up the pop punk ladder, Thursday openly admits having lost sight of themselves. Though 2001's Full Collapse was a breakthrough album for Thursday, as well as the emo scene, the true transition period of the band's existence came with their signing to Island/Def Jam, which Kill the Lights outlines in full detail. Though "Understanding In a Car Crash" put Thursday on the map and the tube, it was the monstrous workload that went into their subsequent album War All the Time that can be looked at as a near linchpin that almost destroyed these guys as a unit. The film takes us into the cellars they crawled out of and through the offices of Victory Records, who helped usher Thursday to the masses then into the lap of corporate greed and indifference. It was a power label that yanked all lifelines when Thursday reacted cautiously and expressively to their overwhelming popularity by recording a statement piece that Island/Def Jam didn't really want, A City By the Light Divided. In the effort to save themselves, Thursday became artisans, though the battle with their A&R rep was nearly their total undoing.
When your A&R liason has no confidence in you as a punk act because you've failed to generate any radio hits, that's telling of where you've come on your path. True punk rock is not about flirting with the airwaves and selling yourself through gimmicks and payola to radio directors. Shame on Island/Def Jam for trying to soft soap and prepackage a sound that belongs in the clubs instead of the gucci arenas, and shame on any so-called punk act deluding themselves into thinking their quasi angst has anything to do with bloating your bank account. It was at this brink of disaster when Island/Def Jam flogged Thursday for their impudence which prompted them to fight their way off, only to return to the label that helped launch them, Victory.
The story of Thursday is intriguing, particularly when you observe these guys putting together something in the interest of music and friendship that is grossly undermined by infiltration, so much it sets members against one another. If Thursday's learned anything at this point, it's that the majors can frequently be more satanic than a church burning hedonist. In that respect, Kill the House Lights is as much of a guidebook to up-and-coming bands on how to conduct yourself and your career, being wary of the traps and pitfalls that can ensnare you from reaching the level of craftsmanship that honest, decent music bears. Be true and persevere or sell out and quite likely be kicked to the curb eventually.
The fruit of Thursday's trials comes on the three new songs of the CD portion of Kill the House Lights. Though the CD is largely comprised of demos, outtakes and live cuts, the opening tracks "Ladies and Gentlemen: My Brother, the Failure," "Dead Songs" and "Voices On a String" rank amongst some of Thursday's best work. Each bears the progressive artistry excavated on A City By Light Divided and yield some of the original hardcore rage that got them started.
Perhaps Thursday is now where they want to be as a band. Having seen the top and nearly forked it all, Thursday has survived out of love for what they've created. Sure, there's a ton of copycat emo bands out there right now who tripped out on what Thursday helped spawn and refine, along with Boy Sets Fire, Silverstein, Thrice and Boys Night Out, and regardless if you love or hate the banshee screams and sissy wailing, there's no denying that Thursday is a class act of their own design.
Friday, December 21, 2007
The Metal Minute, in partnership with Bullet For My Valentine, announces a brand new contest in which one lucky winner will receive a brand spanking new ESP guitar from the band!
In honor of their upcoming new album Scream Aim Fire, Bullet For My Valentine is inviting their fans to participate in this ultra-rad contest. The album was produced by Colin Richardson (of Machine Head and Funeral For a Friend esteem) to complete an album described as "packed with aggressive tempos, insane guitar riffs and incredible lyrics."
Bullet for My Valentine is comprised of Matthew “Matt” Tuck (guitars, vocals), Michael “Padge” Paget (guitar, supporting vocals), Jason “Jay” James (bass, supporting vocals) and Michael “Moose” Thomas (drums).
Scream Aim Fire will unleash on the market January 29th with a headlining tour across the UK and North America late the same month.
Click here for your chance to win the ESP guitar from Bullet For My Valentine: Bullet For My Valentine Guitar Giveaway
Mudvayne - By the People For the People
2007 Epic Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Sometimes greatest hits compilations after a handful of albums in a band's career are a bit suspect, none more so than A Flock of Seagulls shortly after only two albums. However, if you're going to do band anthology after four full-lengths in the case of Mudvayne, then do it with an angle; give your fans something they don't quite already have!
By the People For the People is Mudvayne's bonding time with their fans. The album's selections were generated strictly by fan votes, however the twist is that Mudvayne serves up demos, live versions and other assorted goodies (such as four previously-unreleased songs) instead of cleaned up product their devout legion currently owns in their collections. And to lend the album a personal touch, vocalist Chad Gray introduces each song.
The expected songs such as "Death Blooms," "Dig," "Fall Into Sleep," "Not Falling" and "World So Cold" all appear on By the People For the People, albeit in alternate forms, plus other fan-favorites as "Happy," "(Per)Version of a Truth" and "Skrying." To up the ante, Mudvayne does an acoustic redux of "Forget to Remember" from Lost and Found along with two outtake songs, a brand spanking new jam, "Dull Boy" and a cover of The Police's "King of Pain."
The best cut on the entire project is one of the newer songs "On the Move," a slapdash funkfest recorded during the End of All Things to Come sessions. Shame that it couldn't have appeared on the final album because it has a lot of spunk, pep and personality with a soothing breakdown in-between the manic sections of the song. The guitars are especially vibrant on this one as well, which in hindsight leads one to think "On the Move" could've been a sleeper hit for Mudvayne.
As for the other newer tracks, "Goodbye" is presented in raw form, a tinkering session for Mudvayne right before they began officially recording End of All Things to Come. In some ways, the song comes off like a trippy Cure ditty ala The Top and Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me era. As progressive an album as End of All Things to Come is, it's no surprise that it spawned these two highly diverse outtakes.
"Dull Boy" is a preview of what's to come for Mudvayne as it was more recently tracked following the Lost and Found sessions. As Mudvayne has been driving towards a more rock-oriented direction, the song is metallic and straightfoward with acoustic accents and subtle jazz syncopation from Greg Tribbett and Ryan Martinie. Drifting away from the brash and crash of the L.D. 50 days, Mudvayne is gradually steering towards becoming a straight-up rock band with shades of the soulful artistry that has been a part of their genesis.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of By the People For the People is their "King of Pain" cover. The song is so complicated (along with "Wrapped Around Your Finger" from Synchronicity) that even The Police themselves struggled with it live at the Virgin Fest this past summer. Hearing Mudvayne nail the core melody and have the courage to alter the tempo of the choruses with jacked bass and crunch chords, along with some terrific layered guitars from Greg Tibbett makes this version of "King of Pain" a worthy endeavor.
Kudos to Mudvayne for putting a little extra effort into something as tepid and everyday as a greatest hits package. Linking this to the fans was a nice step, but presenting the tracks as they have on By the People For the People is taking things in a much cooler direction.
Here's an opportunity to spread some good news for a change...
Megadeth's publicist released the following news item:
"Lucky to have his own home spared in the recent Southern California wildfires, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine and his wife Pam recently organized the donation of toys to the Toys For Tots organization, which is being distributed to families affected by the fire. This month, pallets of toys bought in a joint venture with Hasbro Toys were delivered to Camp Pendleton, the town of Fallbrook and the North Coast Church, which the Mustaines attend. 'We live in a little town,' says Dave, 'and this is nothing any neighbor wouldn’t do for another neighbor.'"
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Bobaflex - Tales From Dirt Town
2007 TVT Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Bands that are difficult to categorize, particularly in the teeming ranks of today's metal scene that are so diverse everyone feels a need to subdivide, are deserving of respect. It's not easy to produce a vibe truly your own when so much has been done before you, but West Virginia's Bobaflex, like their territorial brethren Byzantine, are masters of invention. Of course, you'd better be when you derive your band name from a beloved Star Wars villian and an exercise machine. It also doesn't hurt that two constituents of Bobaflex are brothers Marty and Shaun McCoy, who are direct descendents of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud. When you have that kind of piss and vinegar in your veins, you're bound to do something remarkable. Tales From Dirt Town is reported to be an ode to downtrodden America, and if that's the case, consider Bobaflex to be working class heroes.
In four years, Bobaflex has built their sound on an intriguing mix of varied metal modes, grunge themes, garage rock, southern grease and arena bombast. On their third album Tales From Dirt Down, Bobaflex defies dissemination with a constantly twining album filled with power grooves, metal chunks, syrupy riffs and soaring vocal syncopation given extra moxy with dashes of percussion and melancholia to create a diverse and challenging listen.
Gifted with the wherewithal to mix bouncing rhythms and stomping beat structures on songs like "Sellout" and "Born Again," Bobaflex quickly throws a well-written monster ballad filled with a subtle Nirvana moodiness on "Satisfied." Amping things back up with throbbing bass vibrato on "Need a Drink," Bobaflex again changes the tempo with another ballad "Savior," complete with a brief fist-pumping shout-out before the final stanza to spice it up.
The best quality of Tales From Dirt Town is its convincing possessiveness. Bobaflex is not afraid to try anything new even as it delves into the past. They're excellent songwriters who leave memorable choruses imprinted on your brain even as they seek to just rock those brains out on other songs like "Be With You," "One Bad Day" and "Goodbye," the latter song featuring a shrill guitar melody line that dots the main riff structure.
Bobaflex is a band that deserves an audience, particularly one that appreciates their daring incandesce that gives their grimy brand of unclassifiable metal extra footing as they take one step higher on the rungs towards success.
Drum Wars: The Ultimate Battle - Carmine and Vinny Appice
2007 MVD Visual
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Late last year I had a chance to sit down with legendary rock drummer Carmine Appice for a fair hour or so as he was promoting a new Cactus album as well as his Ultimate Guitar Zeus collaboration project and as you might expect, the hot topic of the conversation came over the enunciation of his last name.
One of heavy metal's longest-standing jokes has been about the correct pronouncing of the name "Appice." As teenagers we got into some heated arguments that were so extreme they momentarily severed relationships. "A-peece, no... A-peesh... fuck you, it's A-pyce... screw you, douchebag, it's A-puh-chee..."
Carmine and his younger brother Vinny have played up this ridiculous rivalry in the press over the years, knowing the elusive final answer still stumps journalists as well as fans. Carmine, as he did in our interview, stands on "A-peece," while his equally reknowned sibling Vinny maintains that "A-puh-chee" is the familial pronunciation. So what to do about all of this internal chaos?
Have a drum battle, of course!
Drum Wars: The Ultimate Battle may be one of the funniest wool-pulling gimmicks of all-time because Carmine and Vinny Appice turn a silly fan debate into a show-stopping skin jam session that's passed off as a drum scrum for bragging rights to the name pronunciation. This fun DVD plays the joke to the hilt as both brothers mimic a "fierce" competition that may or may not be existent within their historical microcosm. The illusion they present comes off expectedly cheeky, even dragging out some over-the-top "fan opinions" as to who's going to win this drumming publicity stunt.
What Drum Wars turns into, however, is a terrific drum duet instead of duel. The brothers lay down basic beat patterns for each other then take turns flogging the snot out of their kits, not so much in the interest of one-upsmanship, but more to show why these two guys are amongst the best modern rock drummers ever to sit on the stool. You know their backgrounds and who they've played behind; the Appice name is found on many seminal rock and metal albums over the past three decades, and to watch them hammer it out as brothers instead of adversaries is the best treat of all to this DVD. Vinny may have a slight edge in hand speed, particularly on his snare rolls, and he also possesses the reigning title as loudest metal drummer, but his older brother is a finessed powerhouse himself, rolling his toms effortlessly and barely beading sweat in the process.
In essence, the Appice brothers are to the drums what Roy Clark and Buck Owens were to dueling guitars and banjos. The exchange between Carmine and Vinny is friendly and heartfelt, though neither dare screw up in the presence of each other; if there's any sibling rivalry between them, it's that. The honor of the family name--regardless of how it's pronounced--is the only thing at stake on Drum Wars, and the Appices do it justice.
So who wins the battle, you ask? Find out for yourself, but one hint; Vinny and Carmine's older brother Frank has a say in things as well...
After nine years on the hardcore scene, Christian punkers Seventh Star has announced they will break up after a handful of shows in January and March next year.
Facedown Records issued the following release from the band:
"So after nearly nine years of being a band, Seventh Star is breaking up. We’ve had three full lengths, hundreds of tour dates, seen the world, have made great friends, toured with some of our favorite bands/biggest influences and we feel it’s our time to move on. The main reason is different levels of dedication within the members. We are no longer all on the same page with how much of our lives are to be spent on the band. Some are personal reasons, others not. We feel we would rather go out on top than to fizzle out.
We’ve always tried to give 100% in what we do. We’ve never been about the status, popularity, money or whatever passing trend is going around. We strived to play the music we wanted to and never back down from our message to speak to the Hardcore community about our Savior, Jesus Christ and God’s Grace. We’ve sacrificed time, money, relationships and college all because we believed in this. Sometimes it’s been trying, but always been where we wanted to be. At this point in time we can’t give 100% to the band and we are called to other areas of our life.
We are playing a few final shows hitting some spots in Florida in January, playing one last show in Ocala, flying to our second home of Las Vegas, NV and playing our final show at this year’s Facedown Fest. Our original members Mike Whitaker and Shawn Douglas will be joining us to end the band.
We want to thank Jason and everyone at Facedown Records for believing in us. We also want to thank all the bands we have toured with and everyone who has ever supported us in any way. You know who you are.
NEVER LOSE HEART."
Final Seventh Star show dates:
Jan. 25 – Jacksonville, FL @ Fuel Coffee House
Jan. 26 – Clearwater, FL @ 688 Skatepark
Jan. 27 – Ocala, FL @ The Capitol
Mar. 15 – Ocala, FL @ TBA
Mar. 27 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Hammer House
Mar. 28 – 29 – Pomona, CA @ The Glasshouse – FACEDOWN FEST ‘08
Go motherfuckers go...
Veteran sludge rockers Nashville Pussy announces today that they will premiere brand new material as they conduct an extensive North American tour following the holidays. No hint as to song titles or the name of the next album. Nashville Pussy last released Get Some in 2005 on Spitfire Records.
Tour dates as follows:
Dec 26 2007 8:00P Fillmore San Francisco, California
Dec 27 2007 8:00P Wiltern Theatre Los Angeles, California
Dec 28 2007 8:00P Grove Of Anaheim Anaheim, California
Dec 29 2007 8:00P House of Blues- Mandalay Bay Hotel Las Vegas, Nevada
Dec 30 2007 8:00P Marquee Theatre Tempe, Arizona
Dec 31 2007 8:00P House of Blues San Diego, California
Jan 2 2008 8:00P Abbey Theatre Durango, Colorado
Jan 3 2008 8:00P Mesa Theater & Club Grand Junction, Colorado
Jan 4 2008 8:00P Belly Up Aspen, Colorado
Jan 5 2008 8:00P Belly Up Aspen, Colorado
Jan 6 2008 8:00P Sandbar Vail, Colorado
Jan 7 2008 8:00P Sandbar Vail, Colorado
Jan 9 2008 8:00P The Calypso Crested Butte, Colorado
Jan 10 2008 8:00P Black Sheep Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jan 11 2008 8:00P Fox Theatre Boulder, Colorado
Jan 12 2008 8:00P Aggie Theatre Ft. Collins, Colorado
Jan 13 2008 8:00P Bluebird Denver, Colorado
Jan 15 2008 8:00P Snorty Horse Saloon Springfield, Missouri
Jan 16 2008 8:00P Sokol Auditorium / Underground Omaha, Nebraska
Jan 17 2008 8:00P Granada Theater Lawrence, Kansas
Jan 18 2008 8:00P Cain’s Ballroom Tulsa, Oklahoma
Jan 19 2008 8:00P Granada Theater Dallas, Texas
Jan 20 2008 8:00P Emo’s Austin, Texas
Apr 17 2008 8:00P Blue Note Columbia, Missouri
Apr 18 2008 8:00P Metro/Smart Bar Chicago, Illinois
Apr 19 2008 8:00P The Rave Eagles Club Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Apr 20 2008 8:00P First Avenue Minneapolis, Minnesota
Apr 21 2008 8:00P Majestic Theatre Madison, Wisconsin
Apr 24 2008 8:00P The Vogue Indianapolis, Indiana
Apr 25 2008 8:00P Southgate House Newport, Kentucky
Apr 26 2008 8:00P Majestic Theatre Detroit, Michigan
Apr 27 2008 8:00P House Of Blues Cleveland, Ohio
Apr 29 2008 8:00P The Mod Club Theatre Toronto, Ontario
Apr 30 2008 8:00P The Mod Club Theatre Toronto, Ontario
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Dirt Mall - Got the Goat By the Horns
2007 Daykamp Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Being in proximity to the legendary L.A. hard rock and metal scene that is trying to rebound from over a decade of narcolepsy, Dirt Mall rolls out their amps and plugs in some feelgood dirty rock 'n roll filled with a grab bag of Faster Pussycat, Fu Manchu, Redd Kross and Bon Scott-era AC/DC.
In a retro rules underground revival scene, one where Little Stevie spins the coolest three-chord rock 'n roll on Sirius radio, a band like Dirt Mall thusly has their outline spelled out them. They play by the KISS mandate, which may have a small portion to do with the Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter variety, but their head-bobbing rock throttle is more akin to the acronym Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Cuts like "Hello Los Angeles," "Medicate (Today)" and "Step Up" benefit from Derek Madeiros' stamping beats which keeps a steady throb to Got the Goat By the Horns. Dirt Mall's rhythm section of Johnny Anguish, Jason Murray and Jamie Griffith respond to Madeiros by peeling off wicked strumming filled with low-end distortion instead of cumbersome monster riffs. Only in the last half of the final track "Ghosts Descend" does Dirt Mall strap on the heavy brass for a rockout finish.
Backing the foursome is Mike Quinn with organs and keys, a name the band advises us to remember for the future. Together Dirt Mall opts for the groove instead of the hammer and still the effect is a pulse-addicted eight song album ready to peel the paint off of The Whisky and The Troubadour.
If Dirt Mall doesn't leak onto Little Steven's Underground Garage, then let this writer begin the campaign. Got the Goat By the Horns knows its boundaries and doesn't exceed them; instead it just embraces the jam and fills the air with a bouncing rock 'n roll vibe that's difficult to resist. Somebody hip Dick Manitoba...
How goes, bros and sisses? Another heavy action week and a pitstop for Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday...
Hope you guys are closed to finished with your holiday purchases and plannings. I can honestly say this is the closest to finished we've ever been, though it's been hell and high water getting there with a broken sump pump and an $800 truck repair bill--these things always seem to sting ya at the holidays, don't they? Just another working class stiff trying to get along. I think that's why metal, punk and rock 'n roll are my favorite categories since they give a sound to the working class. I know, that's a bit of a cliche, but that's what's up.
As wifey and I run like idiots trying to get ready for two dinners we're hosting this weekend plus get packages we're sending to friends and family as far as the midwest and the UK, we're holding our own as best we can. If you've been married for 12 years like us, you soon fall into a rhythm where the pretend insults and the needling jokes at one another are the saving grace to your relationship. Anyone can fuck and call it a marriage, but to be able to give your spouse the finger and then a kiss and both of you laugh your asses off... that's real. We need it, trust me, since we've been hustling to attend to the problems in our faces as well as close the lid on our shopping and wrapping. The other night was so stressful I had no choice to just sit on the bed with SportsCenter playing the same damn football highlight (all two of them) while writing out Christmas cards and last night on a wrapping marathon while watching Return of the Living Dead 3.
Music-wise, the closer we draw to the big day, the more I need to make room for Christmas tunes, so that's been a fair chunk of this week's flavor, plus I'm on an Annihilator cram session as I prepare for an interview with Jeff Waters tomorrow. I'm spinning a fair deal of The Cult and Doro, since I was on the phone with the metal queen this past Sunday. Every time I've interviewed Doro, I've had a wonderful mood upswing afterwards; she really is the nicest person on the planet and I wish someone could bottle up her vibe. Last Friday I had an hour-long chat with director Adam Green of Hatchet, which was likewise a total blast. If you horror-hounds haven't yet seen Hatchet, get a move on, huh? The heavy hitter of the week, however, happens to be the Stax 50th Anniversary double disc, which is filled with some of the greatest soul and funk songs ever grooved. Ultimately recommended... Finally, Prosthetic Records sent me the new Byzantine album, Oblivion Beckons, one of my most-anticipated records for the new year. Advance word is...holy shit...
So let's roll 'em, regs...I always look forward to hearing from you...
Stax 50th Anniversary
The Cult - Sonic Temple
The Cult - Love
Annihilator - Metal
Annihilator - Alice in Hell
Annihilator - Never Neverland
Annihilator - All For You
Annihilator - Schizo Deluxe
Annihilator - Criteria For a Black Widow
Doro - All We Are - The Fight
Doro - Warrior Soul
The Donnas - Bitchin'
Dirt Mall - Got the Goat By the Horns
Byzantine - Oblivion Beckons
Tommy James and The Shondells - Hanky Panky and Other Hits
Long Distance Calling - Satellite Bay
The Jam - Compact Snap
Opeth - Damnation
Bobaflex - Tales From Dirt Town
Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas
Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve and Other Stories
Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Christmas Attic
Bing Crosby - Merry Christmas
The Ultimate Christmas Album Vol. 3
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Further proof that what you see isn't always what you get...
I'm largely against these reality-based t.v. shows that prove what an uninspired Hollywood generation we live with, and if I can debunk a few things of what cathode splooge comes projected from the boob tube, I'm more than happy to do it.
Case in point, one Lacey Conner, the redheaded devil-diva from VH-1's Rock of Love. Thanks to my wife, I had to see Bret Michaels more than I needed to on a weekly basis and I personally had no idea it was the Lacey from the Goth metal band Nocturne vamping on his goofy romance show until she showed up on a finale episode playing one of Nocturne's songs, "Shallow" live. Nice irony, huh? What's sad is that the Lacey on the show was presented as a backstabbing wench from hell, but I found an entirely different person in 2005 when I interviewed Lacey for RoughEdge.com.
I'm hoping the real Lacey Conner is the one I had a blast talking on the phone with, the fiery vegetarian supporting animal rights and global peace, so much she's constantly found on the streets protesting. Yes, she's quite outspoken, but Lacey was sounding off against righteous topics instead of the moronic crap she was characterized on Rock of Love. In hindsight, the whole Rock of Love venture turns my stomach even more because, given what I learned from interviewing Lacey in 2005, it likely proves my point that reality t.v. is just plain bullshit...
Click here for my interview with Lacey Conner and be your own judge: Lacey Conner 2005 interview
Photo (c) 2007 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute
Following her successful tour of North America this past summer, Doro Pesch will return to the U.S. roads (as well as a date in Toronto) in the spring of 2008. I had the opportunity to chat with Doro this past Sunday and she expressed her excitement at having a chance to return to previously-visited venues as well as new stops on this leg. Doro has a new 5 song and 5 video EP coming out entitled All We Are: The Fight, as well as a role in the upcoming high adventure film Anuk: The Path of the Warrior.
Upcoming tour dates:
20 - Philadelphia, PA - Grape Street
21 - West Springfield, VA - Jaxx
22 - Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance
23 - New York, NY - Highline Ballroom
25 - Toronto, ON - Funhaus
26 - Cleveland, OH - Peabody's
28 - Detroit, MI - I-Rock
29 - Mokena, IL - The Pearl Room
30 - St. Paul, MN - Station 4
1 - Milwaukee, WI - Vnuk's Lounge
4 - Seattle, WA - Studio Seven
5 - Portland, OR - Hawthorne Theatre
7 - San Marcos, CA - Jumping Turtle
8 - West Hollywood, CA - Whisky a Go Go
9 - Tempe, AZ - The Clubhouse
11 - Houston, TX - Scout Bar
12 - Ft. Worth, TX - Ridglea Theater
13 - San Antonio, TX - White Rabbit
15 - St. Petersburg, FL - The State Theatre
16 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Culture Room
18 - Nashville, TN - The Muse
19 - Atlanta, GA - TBA
Monday, December 17, 2007
For a historically unpredictable band like Amorphis, the only true given is their malleability. Few bands in metal can say they went from a thrashy death metal band to a psychedelic art band to a straightforward pop rock band to a nearly un-categorical progressive metal band. Guitarist Esa Holopainen has been there from the beginning when The Karelian Isthmus screeched and thrashed straight out of Finland after the sound died out in North America. Ironically, Amorphis got a bit more recognition on this side of the globe from their befuddling mainstream album Far From the Sun. Did Amorphis have something of an identity problem? Some may argue yes, but some bands continue to challenge themselves, no matter how strange or bald-faced they sound to their core fans.
Amorphis are who they are, and having reinvented themselves yet again on last year’s Eclipse, the Finnish progressionists change things up one more time--albeit with no personnel shifting for once—-in what may be their most expressive album to-date, Silent Waters. Esa Holopainen dialed in from his home turf to give us a deeper examination of where Amorphis is at mentally and musically these days...
The Metal Minute: I want to talk about Amorphis’ take on the word “amorphous,” meaning no concurrent shape or form. Your band has followed this namesake in theory as well, be it from The Karelian Isthmus to Elegy to Far From the Sun. Your latest album Silent Waters is obviously another shift in direction as well, so obviously you’ve had some diverse transitions in-between all of these albums in the band’s history. Have you felt the need to continuously challenge what Amorphis is about on each album?
Esa Holopainen: You know, it’s really funny how the music world describes us and it’s been interesting through the years. There’s been a lot of changes with some of the albums, sometimes more and sometimes less, but I guess people have to expect it as this band’s trademark, at least that we were going to change whenever we could. Why we have changed so much, I don’t know; it’s really hard to answer. There have been a lot of lineup changes over the years. Of course every time we’ve done that, someone’s always brought something new, but I think now we’re more stable I guess compared to Eclipse, our previous album. It’s gone quite well since we started having Tomi (Joutsen) on vocals starting with Eclipse, and that’s how we wanted it. It’s also the first time that we’ve done an album this fast from the previous one, and with exactly the same lineup, which is something new for us! (laughs) I always like to put something fresh into the music that’s different from other things, experimental things with our music; so that’s definitely why things are what they are, featuring a lot of different elements on each album.
MM: Vocally, Amorphis has been about evolution from a strict growling base in the beginning years to Tomi’s soaring cleans on Eclipse and Silent Waters. I think the vocal presence likewise changes the face of the way the rest of the albums have gone. Tell us about how the role of the continuously altering vocals might’ve changed the identity of the band as Amorphis has progressed.
EA: It’s been a funny sort of circle with what we have gone through. We started with our guitarist Tomi (Koivusaari) who was singing back then and doing the crunch type of vocals. Quite soon on Tales From the Thousand Lakes we knew that we definitely wanted to add more melodic vocals in our music. We had one of our friends helping us out with vocals on Tales and we really liked the results so much we decided that we wanted to have a real singer in the band, and this was when Pasi (Koskinen) was hired. During the time we released Elegy, we really picked a difficult vibe to bring in these clean vocals and started to throw the hard vocals away because we felt it didn’t fit the emotion of our music at that time. It’s funny to think, once Pasi left the band and we brought Tomi Joutsen to our vocals, he told us he was a really big Amorphis fan and he used to sing to those first two albums. We went through some of those songs which we haven’t played for years and years, and when he brought up the idea that he would like to do heavy vocals to our music, everybody was really 100% behind him and we all liked the idea to bring the old vocals back. It’s a great feeling now, especially the way Tomi has become the definitive Amorphis singer; it’s good that we’ve gotten everything we wanted from this guy.
MM: Going back to Far From the Sun for a second, you guys almost landed on Virgin Records, which may or may not have broken AMORPHIS here in North America, but going back to that point in time and what you’ve created since joining Nuclear Blast Records, do you wish that the Virgin deal had come to life or do you feel you ended up on the right path as you are now?
EH: I think a lot of bad things happened around the time of Far From the Sun and the “deal” with Virgin. There were a lot of procedural policy problems with Virgin and there were a lot of empty promises. In some territories the album did really nice, but in other territories where we’re already known… For our career, the release was a disaster. Germany, for example, had almost no promotion at all! It was really, really weird. I think we saved ourselves from the mere fact that everybody warned us that you should never go to a major label because you’re really not sure that they’ll do everything for you in your agreement. That’s really what happened, but the people here at the local Virgin were very nice, so we negotiated with them out. We don’t want to waste another album if they’re going to do the same thing! The good thing was that it was released in the States and North America, which was good for us because that was much better than what it was here in Europe. Pasi suffered from a lack of motivation and he didn’t like to tour anymore, which is typical of what happens when you lose interest in something. So we were without a singer and thinking ‘What we should do?’ (laughs) The first thing that we did was we contacted Nuclear Blast because we know all of the people over there and it’s really easy to communicate with them; if they promise something, they will keep it. They knew all the people in the industry and where to promote the band, and so we had a big blast when we found Tomi to be our singer, which was also really frustrating and a long process to find a good singer like him. Luckily we ended up with Tomi and it really worked well. We call Eclipse our first album of our new era, if you want to put it that way. So a lot of negative things happened between Far From the Sun and Eclipse, but I think it’s been a good thing since we found Tomi and went back to Nuclear Blast. We’ve definitely started a new era for this band. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of shitty things before something good turns up! (laughs)
MM: (laughs) Silent Waters and Eclipse draw inspiration from The Kalevela, and The Kanteletar is a book of 700 poems about Finnish culture, which was also a firm base for Elegy and Tales From the Thousand Lakes. Obviously Amorphis celebrates Finnish culture in your music, and these last albums especially have been more open and expressive in sound. How much do you find yourself nodding back to The Kanteletar for inspiration? I think it really helps create that folk root sound of Silent Waters, in particular the song “Enigma.”
EA: Yeah, exactly. Both Eclipse and Silent Waters are modern versions of our Finnish traditions and beliefs. The basic theme of this album is that it’s the old Finnish belief that tells the story of a man who travels to the land of dead people. People used to believe that you had to travel across the river into this land of the dead people. This is a basic belief and Silent Waters is a sort of telling about this, which is not a very happy theme (laughs), but it was interesting what we really wanted to throw on this album. “Engima” is really one of my favorite songs on this album because it’s almost a pure acoustic track; I really like acoustic music and it was a great, great song to have on this album. It has a really strong folk influence which is a nice molded piece there. It would be nice sometime in the near future to do a live CD with all-acoustic arrangements.
MM: I’ve noticed a lot of people still trying to tag Amorphis as a death metal band, and other than the nature of your muse for Silent Waters, there really isn’t much justification to call Amorphis a true death metal band these days. You guys were in the beginning, of course, but not so much anymore. What are your thoughts to that?
EA: (laughs) Literally, yeah, we started as a death metal band, and there are a lot of people who want to keep us as that death metal band! But it’s funny that all of these bands have to be categorized in some way. I do like a lot of death metal music, but there are so many aspects to our music as well as a lot of dimensions. The influences are not just from death metal; I think the only thing that’s from death metal in our music now are some of the vocals, but there’s so much more to us than that. I hope they still keep us as a metal band, but I definitely wouldn’t consider us a death metal band as well as a Gothic band. I think with death metal music, it’s like pop music; you can’t really vary pop music, plus you’re really stuck with the one form! (laughs)
(c) 2007 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute