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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Metal Minute's 2009 Up to the Minute Awards

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand here we are once again, faithful readers, the unconventional, less-than-cool, but straight-from-the-heart second annual Up to the Minute Awards. No preamble needed, no kettle drum pomp and circumstance to be found. Your host of the festivities presents these illuminous bestowments from the courtesy of his flannel pants and Mouth of the Architect shirt that was slept in the night prior. The after party is in each and every one of your basements or main listening stables, and with that, let's pay homage to the late, great Jackie Gleason...

Aaaaannnd aaaaaawaaayyyyyyy weeeeeeee goooooooooooooooooo!

Best Metal Album of 2009:

Mastodon - Crack the Skye

Best DVDs:

Iron Maiden - Flight 666
Thin Lizzy - Are You Ready?
Voivod - Tatsumaki: Japan, 2009
Woodstock 40th anniversary edition
Dee Dee Ramone - History On My Arms
ZZ Top - Double Down Live: 1980 & 2008
The Moody Blues - Threshold of a Dream: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival

In the Welcome Back Kotter Club for 2009

Ace Frehley
Living Colour

Torturer's Choice aka Worst Song of the Year (and coincidentally, Parental-Chosen Worst Role Model)

"Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus

Most Juvenile Song You Still Can't Avoid Singing

"Pussy" by Rammstein

Cha-Ching My Bling-Bling Sellout Award:

Black Eyed Peas

Favorite Non-Metal Album of 2009:

Depeche Mode - Sounds of the Universe
Air - Love 2
Calder Quartet - Transfiguration
The Mars Volta - Octahedron

Metal Meltdown Award:

Megadeth - Endgame

Still the Champeens of Thrash After All These Years


Since There's No New Opeth Album This Year, The Gothiest of the Goth Album

My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire

Though We Were All Rooting for it to Be Heaven and Hell, The Doom Masters Award Goes Elsewhere...

Candlemass - Death Magic Doom

Trimming the Fat and Proving Prog Metal Can Be Something Less of a Wankfest

Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings

Sludge-O-Matic Fun Fiesta of the Year

Kylesa - Static Tensions

The Holy Shit, These Guys Are Swimming in a Topographical Ocean Award

Between the Buried and Me

Black Metal as Alt-Art:

Brown Jenkins - Death Obsessed

Ding-a-Ding-Dang-My-Dang-a-Long Death Grind

The Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate

Best Reissues

Subhumans entire back catalog
Halloween III: Season of the Witch soundtrack
King Diamond - The Spider's Lullaby
The Ocean - Fluxion

Coolest Metal Album Cover I Should've Voted For

Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg

Can't Believe it Didn't Reek:

Kiss - Sonic Boom

Space Groovin' Good Time Sing-a-Long Album of the Year

Powerman 5000 - Somewhere On the Other Side of Nowhere

Album from 2008 I'd Wished I'd Discovered Last Year Instead of This One:

Gonin-Ish - Naishiyo-Sekai

Most Metal Moment of 2009 by a Non-Metal Artist

Lady Ga Ga's bloody performance at the 2009 VMA's

Most Un-Metal Moment of 2009

The Dancing With the Stars orchestra playing Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" Oh, the humanity!!!

The Screw You Guys, I'll Do What I Like Album Award

Ian Gillan - One Eye to Morocco

Jingle Bells With Some Amp, Or Who Saw that One Coming this Holiday Season?

Halford III - Winter Songs

For the Honor:

Ross the Boss
Doro Pesch
Udo Dirkschneider

All Guts, No Glory

Mary Forsberg Weiland for her candid book Fall to Pieces, and her studies to be a rehab counselor

Most Cosmic Live Performance

Pelican and Isis

The First Great Metal Albums of 2010 (Already):

Sigh - Scenes From Hell
Overkill - Ironbound
Ihsahn - After

Best Franchise Reboot

Star Trek

Most Fucked-Up Film to Light a Doobie To


Cult Movie of the Year


Mainstream Metal Tube to Beat Now that Talking Metal is Relegated to Podcasting

That Metal Show

Best 'Toons

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Metalocalypse: Dethklok
Spongebob Squarepants

Not Dissing the Talent, But Sorry Dude, You're Not Muhammad Ali

Chad Johnson, aka Chad "Ochocinco"

Most Feelgood Stories of 2009

New Orleans Saints

The Great Big Ball of Suck

The Quickening Demise of Your Favorite Record Store, deathstroke provided by iPod

Still the Hottest Celeb in All of Hollywood

Jane Seymour

Ray's Craziest Interview of 2009

Lita Ford and Jim Gillette

Curtain Call, Please

System of a Down

The Band to Carry Metal Into the Future


Quite Possibly the Next Big Thing in Metal

Age of Evil

In Our Prayers

Ronnie James Dio

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Take 5 With Martin Hanner of Skyfire

While I continue my extended break through the holidays, enjoy this Take 5 chat with bassist Martin Hanner of the Swedish death-symphonic-thrash hybrid, Skyfire...

The Metal Minute: It’s been five years since Skyfire’s had a full-length album for release, albeit you issued Fractal as a download-only EP. The long wait for fans between 2004’s Spectral and this year’s Esoteric has been well worth it. Tell us about the time spent for Skyfire between these albums. Did you feel such a lengthy duration between albums paid off for Esoteric?

Martin Hanner: Well, after Spectral, Jonas and Henrik left the band so we had to find replacements for those guys. Luckily we found Johan Reinholdz and Joakim Karlsson. Another thing that did contribute to why it has taken so long for us to release another album was that our label at the time Arise Records went bankrupt which meant that we had started writing new songs, recorded them and so on. We got contacted by some labels, but in the end we signed to Pivotal and we are very proud to be working with them, they are all great guys. Regarding your last question I think the fact that we had so much time on our hands contributed to make Esoteric a better album than if we had released a record right after Spectral. That said, five years is a little bit too long in my opinion, but even though it has taken some time for us to get back on the scene, I think we have grown both as a band and individuals.

MM: How do you feel the sales of Fractal as a download-only product went for Skyfire? Obviously the times are changing with a force of music distribution aiming towards downloads versus hard copy albums. Esoteric is obviously available as a hard copy CD, but was Fractal a sales success for you guys in your opinion?

MH: I haven’t received any sales figures yet, so I have no idea. There wasn’t really any promotion done for that release because the reason to why we decided to release it in the first place was to give something back to our fans for being so patient while waiting for Esoteric.

MM: The symphonic element to current modes of heavy metal are varied to such latitudes of extremity whether you’re talking about the pop-mindedness of Leaves’ Eyes and Nightwish versus the more aggressive modes such as Dimmu Borgir and yourselves. I applaud the seamless transition of fusing your orchestral samples into the brisk brutality of Esoteric. It’s not often done with such class and frequently comes off as cheesy by lesser-experienced bands and groups looking to rush their samples into their songs for expedience sake. Do you feel there’s a fine art to mixing these symphonic parts into Skyfire’s music some people might not appreciate?

MH: Thanks a lot! Yeah, I definitely feel that a lot of people don’t understand or appreciate these arrangements for what they are, but that’s something that you can never get away from and to be honest, it would be pretty boring if everyone felt the same way about these things. I mean, many people who are into metal hate keys and orchestral arrangements and don’t think these things belong in metal music. But then, they are fans who are really musically gifted and break down the music and notice all the little things in the music that many others not even hear. Personally, those are the fans I like to discuss music with because that’s exactly how we work when we write the music. When we compose we are not just looking for a sound; we really try to make our songs interesting at all times by adding stuff like, for example, a cello and violin working together in order to build up for a transition to a solo. When you listen to our albums, there's a lot pretty much going on and sometimes it’s hard to hear these things, but when we play live and manage to get a good sound, some of these arrangements really come to life and that’s pretty cool.

MM: In my review of Esoteric, I likened the experience to an Heironymous Bosch painting where Skyfire illustrates in music the intertwined relationship between Heaven and Hell, particularly mankind’s perceptions of both. Your music has an ability to take listeners to both planes, frequently within bars of each other. “Under a Pitch Black Sky” would be a good example. Do you feel there’s a Boschian dimension to Skyfire’s music?

MH: Absolutely, and that’s one of my biggest ambitions with Skyfire; to combine and mix these worlds. I love when you mix frenetic, aggressive parts with melodies and atmosphere and I think that is something we have done better on Esoteric than ever before. We have always had the melodies and the bombastic parts but now we have added more aggression and also some more progressive parts. In the future I want to continue to do this and expand the Skyfire spectrum even further.

MM: Music as fast and detailed such as Skyfire’s is being generated all over the world, almost as if in a hurry to compete. Again, I compliment your band for taking your time with Esoteric, but was there any moment along the way of the album’s conception where you might’ve felt a little pressure to finish?

MH: There were times especially in the end where we felt that we had to finish soon because we had kept on pushing back the release date. At the same time we felt that we wanted to be 100% satisfied with the songs. I think it is important with deadlines, but one thing that I have learned through the years is to not set a deadline before you got enough material to record an album. Sure, it’s important to release albums, but there’s no point in releasing something that could've been a hell of a lot better. Plus, you can’t rush inspiration. To write good songs takes time and if you need more time in order to make an album better, so be it.

Copyright 2009 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Going on Hiatus...

Today's Sigh review marks a temporary break for The Metal Minute.

I've come to a decision aided by my obligations and future prospects that it's time to halt my work here for a spell and move forward to claim what's awaiting me down the road.

It's been an incredible run to this point and I thank every single reader, band, artist, publicist and record label exec for your tremendous support. I especially thank Metal Hammer magazine for even noticing this blog out there in the vast cyber ocean, much less decorating it this year with one of my proudest honors as a journalist.

You can still find me in's Musick area, as well as Dee Snider's House of Hair Online. I will also be taking the time to finish writing my second novel and then begin a screenplay to my first book, "Mentor." 2010 will be Van Horn's year. Bank it.

As the forthcoming opportunities unravel themselves in the immediate future, I will then likely pick back up here. At the moment, everyone be good and enjoy the holidays. Do drop me a line now and then to let me know how all fares with you all, faithful droogies.


CD Review: Sigh - Scenes From Hell

Sigh - Scenes From Hell
2010 The End Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Once again Japan proves why their arts and entertainment scene rivals anyone's in the entire world. Not even the turn of the new year and 2010's first outstanding metal album comes courtesy of the deadly-brilliant Sigh, Scenes From Hell.

Emperor (and to more streamlined measures Dimmu Borgir) essentially opened the frigid gates guarding modern black metal by introducing symphonic supplements to the briskest-flowing music available. Let's not of course forget to bow before Celtic Frost for having the guts in the eighties to dabble with strings and chorals within a black metal construct where such maneuvers were more critcized than praised.

Both bands might or might not be humbled by all that has transpired in their wake given the viable explosion of extreme and dark metal caveats borne out of the Scandinavian territories. Call it death-folk, call it Viking metal, call it Symphonic Purgatory whatever; the sound of an orchestra breezing (sometimes in gelatinous globs depending on whether the band in question is using samples or a real section) behind carreening bpms has set the world on fire. Thus, mission accomplished from the black metal legion.

Asia, however, has quite a bit to say themselves, not just in black metal, but in metal and rock altogether. Taiwan's Chthonic has emerged as one of the metal scene's finest assets, while in Japan, groups such as Boris, Dir En Grey, MUCC, Balzac, Geisha and Gonin Ish have produced electrifying metal, rock, punk and prog the world simply needs to hear if it's still obtuse to them at this point.

If black metal and violently extreme speed isn't your thing, then Sigh isn't necessarily going to win you over. However, the ingenuity of this group demands attention. Though originally signed by the late Euronymous of Mayhem and his notorious label Deathlike Silence Records, Sigh has managed over the course of their blistering career to milk some of the most diverse articulation the subgenre has ever seen. Gallows Gallery, Hangman's Hymn and particularly Sigh's 2001 space-funk-death masterpiece Imaginary Sonicscape have all breathlessly pushed the boundaries of black and death metal to their straining points.

This time, Sigh proves why they're one of the most ambitious metal groups operating today with the Faustian thrash guiding the supremely impressive Scenes From Hell. In the past, Sigh has fused everything from jazz to folk to electro-ambience to 70s funk into their lunatic art. This time around, chamber fugue set on reckless abandon is the scheme to a successfully tormented vibe on Scenes From Hell.

Giving oratory resonance to Dante and Heironymous Bosch, Scenes From Hell is wonderfully brutal, frighteningly maudlin and occasionally nuttier than a tin of holiday cashews. The forlorn march guiding "The Summer Funeral" is accompanied by an oom-pah horn and string section which varies schizophrenic vibes between depressing, playful and ultimately grievous. In spots, the string section and plummeting organs rings like a mud-bogged slosh to the cemetery plot's gaping maw.

Most of the time, Scenes From Hell rockets with tremendous ferocity while creating climactic background scores. "L'art de Mourir" bobs between a succession of orchestral lines inspired by Fiddler on the Roof, Bernard Hermann and old 40's popcorn flicks, all while moving at top flight. "The Red Funeral" is practically perfect with its punishing velocity and spine-tingling string plucks, much less the avalanching brass section creating a transcendent din of cataclysm. Provoking a seriously infectious headbang amidst the senses-flailing "Musica in Tempora Belli," even The Great Kat might have to yield for just a second to pay respect to this group.

With an out-of-nowhere funky organ blare greeting "The Soul Grave," Sigh stamps on the gas yet again while their string and horn sections create a titanic overlord theme to accompany all the differing guitars, organs and synth strikes assisting this chaotic composition. All over this album, Sigh goes beyond most of what has been attempted in symphonic metal by coralling puffing tubas, frantic clarinets and a deep extraction of a Brahms symposium performed in the oldest concert hall built during the Victorian age. The fact Mirai Kawasima would be at the fore with death snarls and banging piano hammers, along with Shinichi Ishikawa's fearsome guitar leads would indicate the Grand Guinol has risen again.

Seriously, the only symphonic supplements missing from Sigh's wondrously astute orchestral aesthetic is the love theme from Dr. Zhivago and the Star Wars promenade. Otherwise, all is fair game including the alluring addition of saxophonist/vocalist Dr. Mikannibal for her first official full-length Sigh project.

Scenes From Hell is devilishly neurotic and one of the most fabulous dirge odes ever created in metal. Once again Sigh stakes another watermark in their illustrious career. The gauntlet has been thrown hard to the metal community with the thunderous burst of Promethian clatter.

Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guest Writer: Alex Gilbert: CD Review: Brown Jenkins - Death Obsession

Brown JenkinsDeath Obsession
2009 Moribund Cult
Alex Gilbert

Brown Jenkins, a.k.a. Umesh Amtey (UA) is the man. No, seriously! His latest piece of abstract art, Death Obsession, calls upon the apocalypse. Hailing from Austin, Texas, the man pretty much mixes old alternative rock, shoegaze, and of course a bloody fucking brilliant atmosphere of black metal. The hazy distortion compliments his experimentation, and the vibe of it all creates such a thoughtful listen.

“Lifetaker” pretty much takes your life away with its mesmerizing atmosphere. He really creeps along this track with such dark melodies, fragile textures, and echoes of the end. The guitar work I’ve got to say has such an incredible train of thought, where Mr. UA really expands this evil to above and beyond. Really, it’s almost like he’s giving you a preview of what death is going to feel like. Death Obsession closes with “We Disappear,” which keys in UA’s final words. The song continues its droning tones, and the transitions continue to get darker and darker. Brown Jenkins almost hypnotizes you with its carefully painted picture with abstract strokes of despair. And wow, this song really opens up to become a monster, and Brown Jenkins can definitely be defined as epic. “We Disappear” is a brilliant album closer, and should leave you hungry for more.

Hands down, you may even forget that Death Obsession is playing because its concept clashes perfectly like one whole big song. This is a mandatory listen from start to finish. Fans of Burzum and Leviathan are going to love this release, as well as fans of Godflesh and Neurosis, but to simply put it, anyone with a keen taste for something unique, mind bending, and out of the box raw and intense, you need to pick up Death Obsession, NOW!!

(c) 2009 Alex Gilbert

Editor's Note: Word!!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 12/9/09

Not a lot of blab for ya this week, gang. Been a hard, hard way to go lately and simply pushing through it all with forced grins.

A great big thank you to both Bruce Kulick and Mary Forsberg Weiland for keeping my spirits up with our fun interviews this past week. Getting to thank Bruce for throwing me a pick during Kiss' Crazy Nights tour was one of the items on my mental checklist finally notched up. Mary is also a sweet person and given her busy schedule following the release of her book Fall to Pieces, I'm honored for the time she graciously gave me for the interview, which ought to be running at shortly. Also be looking for the Bruce Kulick interview anytime now at Dee Snider's House of Hair Online. While you're there, check out my interview with Living Colour's Corey Glover.

Back at Fango, I reviewed the reissue of King Diamond's House of God this week and more are heading over in that direction, so please bounce in over yonders as you would here. Heavy Metal is running my best-of lists along with the rest of the staff, so take a peek there if ya please. Over here, The Metal Minute's Up to the Minute awards ought to be slinking in soon.

And as always, friends, grazi...

The Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate
Gonin Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai
Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Bruce Kulick - BK3
Subhumans - Worlds Apart
Fates Warning - Awaken the Guardian
Hypno5e - Des Deux L'une Est L'autre
DYSE - Lieder sind Bruder der Revolution
Agnostic Front - Cause for Alarm
Kiss - Sonic Boom
The Cure - Bloodflowers
King Diamond - House of God
Brown Jenkins - Death Obsession

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Take 5 With Jeremy Goldberg of Age of Evil

The last time I felt this strongly about a young band on the verge of breaking through, it was summertime about six years ago in a parking lot behind the Recher Theatre in Towson, Maryland. The headliner and my host that evening was Iced Earth, yet it was their openers, Trivium, who blew me right out of the hall. A lot of classic power metal fans grumbled about Trivium's fireball thrash, hardcore and pure metal hybrid engine (still a relatively innovative scheme at this point in time) after the show, but I knew what I'd seen was impeccable maturity which quickly blossomed into one of metal's great success stories.

The guys in Age of Evil only recently survived their tribal rites of high school, but there's more to their story than their collective lifespans. Spend a few minutes talking with guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Goldberg and you'll learn rather quickly his band is deadly serious about their mission as a youth-energized classic power metal unit. Encasing a pair of brothers whose friendship trails most of their natural lives, Age of Evil's internal familiarity is but one of the key ingredients to their early-on capabilities as musicians. These guys are family as they are comrades, yet there's a disciplined professionalism to Age of Evil you can hardly train or pass unto others. It is nutured within each individual as well as the sum of their parts.

Age of Evil has already been to Europe, they've already released one album Living in a Sick Dream and correlating video, and they're now calling attention unto themselves with their newest EP Get Dead, a six pack of tunes divvied out between two originals, two covers and two live tracks. As I spoke with Goldberg, I found out the Age of Evil crew so happens to call Trivium their friends. Perhaps Age of Evil's destiny will parallel Corey Beaulieu and the Triv. For some reason, I have that hunch once again...

The Metal Minute: In a sense, Age of Evil came together through your parents who kept running into each other and it allowed the four of you—being two sets of brothers—to build a friendship. I believe in fate, so it’s fate the four of you guys came together with the same mind set of what you wanted to do with this group. What happened once you all got together; was an instant click or something that built over time? Also, I’m curious; are or were any of your parents metalheads at all?

Jeremy Goldberg: It was a click right away. When we were young, probably around three or four years old, we were just inseparable and it’s been that way since. We did all kinds of stuff together. One thing that comes to mind is we made Jackass videos together. We took vacations together. We just did a lot of stuff together and we all knew from the beginning we wanted to do something together and that thing is music.

I would say our parents are rock ‘n roll and metal. Garrett and Jordan (Ziff)’s mom I know for a fact was going to the Ozzy and Van Halen concerts when she was our age. My parents are a little bit more rock ‘n roll, you know, bands like Boston, Bruce Springsteen and Foreigner.

MM: I don’t think Age of Evil sounds like Trivium, however I think you have the opportunity to be the next Trivium given how you have such a sharp craft this early on in your careers. There’s a lot of bands who have more years on you who don’t sound half as good! Obviously Age of Evil has spent a lot of time together to polish up your chops, much less just as guys in high school. Tell us about spending your time developing a band while in school versus just goofing around or playing football or whatever.

JG: There can be a lot of sacrifices if you really want to be a serious and successful band. Sometimes you lose a little bit of that social life or something like that, but we’d try and balance it pretty well, actually. We spent a lot of time making our songs really solid, especially when we play live. It was very important to us to sound as-good, if not better live than our CDs do. So we’d do a lot of things like playing the songs slowed-down or playing the songs sped-up and working on them until we could play them at any tempo until we wanted to play them at the right tempo so it all sounds tight no matter what. We make sure that picking patterns are the same. A lot of little stuff goes into our live sound. It translates differently live; you’ve got to do a lot of downpicking and we really focus on all kinds of stuff like that. I think that’s one reason why we’re tight as a band; we really, really focus on things like that.

For us, it’s all about groove and melody. Nothing else matters but that. A lot of bands take the term “heavy” and they misinterpret what heavy means, I think. To me, the heaviest thing you can do is have that groove, especially a band like Pantera. They have that solid groove and to me it doesn’t need to be blast-beating fast and Cookie Monster screaming to be heavy. I think a lot of people nowadays don’t have the best sense of melody, which I think is super-important, and it’s really important to us when writing songs.

MM: The two studio songs on the EP, “Cruel Intentions” and “Get Dead” are tight-written tunes. They have a bit of the Bay Area thrash sound and the Euro power metal feel, and I definitely hear the Pantera in your sound. Obviously you’re well-schooled on classic metal structures, though I detect a subtle hint or two of the new school in Age of Evil, for instance, As I Lay Dying. You guys are nowhere near a metalcore band, but how do you all decide what vibe fits best for Age of Evil considering there’s so many directions metal can go these days?

JG: We really don’t try and put ourselves into a specific category or anything like that. We just do what we want and fortunately for us—-especially Jordan, our guitarist-—we really don’t listen to much after 1991. We try not to let metalcore and all that stuff get into our music. I know about the stuff, but I really just try and keep away from it. We have a lot of material ready for the next the next album and you will definitely hear a lot more hard rock, more traditional rock and heavy metal than you will hear it going heavier. It’s not going to be heading into that more metalcore stuff; it’s going more towards the roots than anything.

MM: You guys did a really sharp cover of Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind.” I’ve interviewed both Sebastian Bach and Rachel Bolan in the past and I know both guys were really hyped on that song and both really wished it could’ve scored as well as their first album. I remember when that song came on for the first time on the original Headbangers Ball, I went out of my skull on that song, man! For Age of Evil’s purposes, why pick this song and “The Hellion/Electric Eye” to cover?

JG: The Skid Row cover came unexpectedly. What we did was, when we were in Europe over the summer, we were recording the EP in-between tour dates. We had a day off in the studio and our engineer Uwe Lulis said, ‘Why not record something? We have an extra day!’ We sat around and Garrett said, ‘I’ve got the perfect song!’ It was Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind,” and all four of us knew that was going to be the one. It has a lot of attitude and aggression, it’s fast-paced, there’s a lot of energy and we all felt our style would fit very well with it. What I did was, I pulled out my phone and played the track a couple times because we didn’t know how to play it, and we just recorded it on-the-spot. I mean, we just did it! When Garrett went to do the drums, we all sat and watched him do it. He did one take and we were like, ‘Holy, shit, dude! You’re done, that’s it!’ Then it was the same thing with the guitars. Pretty much everything you’re hearing is one, maybe two takes all the way through, and again with the vocals, also. We really did not have much time with this, so we just went balls-out and gave it everything we’ve got and did that song really quickly. It turned out awesome, and that speaks of the song, because that song is basically all about that; Skid Row’s style is dirty and I don’t know how to describe it, but it just fit us really well.

We played “Electric Eye” about a year ago in London and we played it in London because going in we knew that a lot of the people we were playing for didn’t know who we were. While we knew they would like our originals, we wanted to give them something they would remember. We thought it was better to do a Priest song in London, and that song got a really good response. It went over really well. We knew that because it was a little earlier in the show, our style, our tone and our vibe would definitely make it sound a little heavier, more modern, I guess you could say. That song was really fun to do.

MM: The two live songs on the EP, “Eye for an Eye” and “Glimpse of Light” sounds to me like you’re playing at a wicked cool venue with a nice crowd. Put us there onstage from your perspective. It has to be the greatest feeling in the world to wreck a big audience live with some heavy shit, right?

JG: Oh, yeah, there’s really no better feeling, and we love playing live. Those songs were actually this summer in Europe. We’re definitely a live band and feed off the energy of the crowd. A lot of times for me, the set goes by so quickly because my adrenaline and everything is so high. I usually don’t remember most of the set! We just have so much fun playing live and I think you can definitely hear that in those two songs.

Copyright 2009 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

My Music Montreal Video Interview with Slaves On Dope

Special thanks to Barbara Pavone of My Music Montreal for the hook-up... \m/

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Metal Minute's 25 Immaculate Receptions (and Honor Roll) for 2009

A little early on this, sure, but it's already that time in the industry where metal journalists are asked in advance for their year-end picks. Since I was already in process for my top 20 at Heavy Metal, I went ahead and rounded out my 25 Immaculate Receptions, plus a generously-filled Honor Roll of albums that didn't make the cut yet most definitely deserve mention.

The 25 Immaculate Receptions of 2009

1. MastodonCrack the Skye
2. IsisWavering Radiant
3. Between the Buried and MeThe Great Misdirect
4. KylesaStatic Tensions
5. CandlemassDeath Magic Doom
6. ChthonicMirror of Retribution
7. MegadethEndgame
8. SepulturaA-Lex
9. ZombiSpirit Animal
10. VoivodInfini
11. Slough FegApe Uprising!
12. PelicanWhat We All Come to Need
13. SlayerWorld Painted Blood
14. Brown JenkinsDeath Obsessed
15. SkyfireEsoteric
16. Sunn O)))Monoliths and Dimensions
17. The Black Dahlia MurderDeflorate
18. HacrideLazarus
19. Shadows FallRetribution
20. TyrBy the Light of the Northern Star
21. Mantic Ritual - The Executioner
22. My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire
23. Heaven and Hell - The Devil You Know
24. Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade
25. Ahab - The Divinity of Oceans

Honor Roll of 2009:

Lamb of God - Wrath
Arise - The Reckoning
Vader - Necropolis
Behemoth - Evangelion
Ancestors - Of Sound Mind
Leeches of Lore - s/t
Nocturnal Fear - Metal of Honor
Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings
Leaves' Eyes - Njord
Static-X - Cult of Static
God Dethroned - Passiondale
Job for a Cowboy - Ruination
Living Colour - The Chair in the Doorway
Ace Frehley - Anomaly
Warbringer - Waking Into Nightmares
Mudvayne - s/t
Novembers Doom - Into Night's Requiem Eternal
Bone Gnawer - Feast of Flesh
Assjack - s/t
Luna Mortis - The Absence
Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration Plague
Nile - Those Whom the Gods Detest
Shrinebuilder - s/t
Wino - Punctuated Equilibrium
Lillian Axe - Sad Day On Planet Earth
W.A.S.P. - Babylon
Killswitch Engage - s/t
UFO - The Visitor
Powerman 5000 - Somewhere On the Other Side of Nowhere
Nihilitia - Nihilist Militia
The 11th Hour - Burden of Grief
The Amenta - Non
Psyopus - Odd Senses
Gollum - The Core
Conspiracy - Concordat
DYSE - Lieder sind Bruder der Revolution

Thursday, December 03, 2009

CD Review: Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate

The Black Dahlia Murder - Deflorate
2009 Metal Blade Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Is a bone-snapping deathspeed band like Black Dahlia Murder allowed to deviate now and then? Apparently not, since their fourth album Deflorate has met its share of harshness as much as its praise.

Despite the reasonably high charting position of Deflorate, I'm a little stunned by the random criticisms of this album, honestly. I could condone the dart-throwing if these guys scaled back their bpms to 30, drew eye-liner around their pupils and gallavanted all weepy-eyed about lost loves. What's there not to like about Deflorate, I ask?

Has Black Dahlia Murder slowed down? Hardly; only Cannibal Corpse, Vader, Emperor and maybe Keep of Kalessin could blast beat this band into oblivion. Has Black Dahlia Murder wussed out their sound? Only if you judge Deflorate by the standards of Black Eyed Peas' current electro-disco fiasco. Has Black Dahlia Murder grown as a band since their brackish 2003 debut Unhallowed? Tons.

Okay, so I'm a tad soft on these guys since my interview with howler Trevor Strnad was my very first cover story for Pit #52. Still, there's no denying Black Dahlia Murder is one of the fiercest metal units on the planet, even when luxuriating their trademark maniacal grind with a classic power metal guitar solo in the middle of the dizzying "I Will Return." The escalating intro and outro of the same song may be atypical of what Black Dahlia Murder has attempted in the past, but it's a terrific round-out to a fireball of an album which hones in on the group's core angst with snapcase precision.

Despite the loss of guitarist John Kempainen as of their red-hot previous album Nocturnal, Black Dahlia Murder misses not a lick with the addition of Ryan Knight. If anything, Black Dahlia has closed up their very few gaps on this album with the mixing graces of industry giant Jason Suecof. Every eruptive thrash pattern is on the dime and every tinny clang of Shannon Lucas' (formerly of All That Remains) ride cymbals announces Hell's opening. Every coating of shred is ridiculously-stroked. Trevor Strnad remains a pure animal on the mike with his screech-barf motifs. His throat blats are positively rhythmic on "Denounced, Disgraced," where even the harshest yelping Scandinavian death or black metaller has to give this bro his props.

All that's really changed on Deflorate is a handful of fancy-dandy adjustments to the arrangements (fielded by guitarist Brian Eschbach) to the point "Necropolis" and "A Selection Unnatural" breeze and float as much as they accelerate with brutal exhalations.

Of course, this allows for dribbles of melody to manifest, albeit in increments. They wade beneath the pounding detonation of "Christ Deformed," one of Deflorate's more tapestried songs along with the aforementioned "I Will Return."

Most of the time Deflorate is busier than Foghorn Leghorn trying to decide who to pester more: the widow hen or the hound dog. From the listener's point-of-view, Deflorate's unremitting velocity is enough to keep up with it'll require multiple listens to uncover the planted harmonies within "That Which Erodes the Most Tender of Things," "Death Panorama" and "Eyes of Thousand." They make this ear-splintering album all the more entertaining to consume by attrition.

Nocturnal was perhaps only slightly more impressive, but naysayers be damned; Deflorate is utterly badass...

Rating: ****1/2