Category Archives: Music Video

FEATURE REVIEW: STÄLKER – ‘Shadow of the Sword’

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Last year, the New Zealand born trio Stälker unloaded a smashing demo/EP called Satanic Panic that ripped through speakers with a massive speed metal attack of Canadian proportions (circa 1983-84). It blew me away, so I reached out to the band to see about more music. Keeping their cards close to the best, they mentioned new music hopefully sooner rather than later but not much more. True to their word, Stälker has released their debut LP Shadow of the Sword via Napalm Records. They’re providing labelmates Evil Invaders with some worthy speed metal company and bolstering the label’s speed/thrash presence with a stellar record to help close a great year for music out.

Speaking of Evil Invaders, if you want to draw comparisons, Stälker could be the Sodom/Tankard to EI’s Kreator/Destruction. Fortunately for those just becoming acquainted with the band, they’ve included all three tracks—“Satanic Panic,” “The Mutilator,” and “Shocked to Death”—found on their earlier Satanic Panic demo.STALKER-Satanic-Panic-cover-art Also carried over from that first release is their distinct rawness of overall sound value. Stälker’s visceral speed metal attack arms Shadow of the Sword with a furious arsenal of sharp, jagged riffs, barreling percussive rhythms careening forward at frenzied speeds and corrosive vocal attacks that can deliver caustic shrieks at throat-shredding volumes.

Shadow of the Sword is an unrelenting speed metal assault by a young band that absolutely deserves to be looked into, especially by fans of classic underground speed and thrash. Now, at the dusk of 2017, Stälker drops Shadow of the Sword just in time to be considered one of the year’s best metal albums. So pick one up for yourself, and someone else. Don’t be a selfish prick! There’s enough music to go around. Merch is another story, that shit is going fast.

The band let’s you name your price for their Satanic Panic release. It can be found below, so dig in!

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FEATURE REVIEW: VOJD – “Behind the Frame” 7″

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If you’re new to the action, VOJD is the heavy hard rock force previously known as Black Trip. Since the last Black Trip LP, Shadowline, was released, they’ve made some changes. Now a four-piece, drummer Anders Bentell has replaced Jonas Wikstrand—who left amicably, of his own volition—and Joseph Tholl is now playing bass in Johan Bergebäck’s stead while also remaining the lead vocalist. The band decided on the renaming to essentially reflect a new beginning. It could be argued that VOJD is a new entity, but the majority of Black Trip—Joseph Tholl and guitarists Peter Stjärnvind and Linus Björklund—still remain.

Just in time to bid 2017 a farewell, VOJD is charging ahead fast and hard with a new two song 7” single titled “Behind the Frame” via High Roller Records. Both songs are exclusive and they will not appear on VOJD’s upcoming full-length, entitled The Outer Ocean. Faint punk-like undertones peek through in the opening riff of the guitar-driven title track. Joseph’s distinct vocal delivery is strong, at peak force, and it guides the song with a fierce NWOBHM-esque attack. The single’s flipside is a killer cover of a song by the English hard rock band Tempest, called “Funeral Empire,” taken from their 1974 Living in Fear LP. VOJD takes the song by the balls and makes it sound like it was written for them, like all great covers should do.

Looking at the bigger picture, “Behind the Frame” kinda sets the tone, and expectation, for The Outer Ocean. The band is prepared to put more concentration into their activities this time around. Joseph Tholl explains, “I’d say it’s a bit more focused now. It’s definitely no side project. We want to play live more on this album than we’ve done on the previous ones. We’re really looking forward to perform a strong set of songs from all our three albums.”

VOJD-The-Outer-Ocean-LP-BLACKThe projected date for The Outer Ocean is February 23, 2018. Like a lot of people, the new full-length can’t come out soon enough for me, so I’ll post any updates and other pertinent VOJD information as soon as it comes in. In the meantime, check out the VOJD/Black Trip playlist below which includes the original version of Tempest’s “Funeral Empire.”

Physical copies of “Behind the Frame” are limited to 750: 100 transparent ultra clear vinyl, 400 transparent beer coloured vinyl, 250 black vinyl

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PRIEST: Talking New Flesh with the Puppet Master

 

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So, Priest is finally putting the full-length release out. The Pit was a fantastic lead-up and New Flesh delivers on The Pit’s promise.

Thank you! I’m glad that you liked it. You never know how people are going to react once it’s released into the world.

Just for background, when did Priest come together as a band?

When we first started talking about it, it was 2011, so the idea has been there for a while. In 2015 we really started to pull everything together. That summer is when we first went into the recording studio with Alpha producing. But then everybody had their own things that they had to do so we just recorded when we could get together.

How many people is Priest comprised of in total?

Priest has three members; Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury. There’s one singer and then two guys running the synthesizers, electronics, and electronic percussion.

Before New Flesh you guys released The Pit. Is that meant to be an EP or single?

Actually, I really don’t know! It started out as a single but then we released a second single. I can see how that could be a little bit confusing.

Either way, it was Priest’s first official release and a precursor meant to lead up to the full-length…

Yes, exactly.

It’d probably be a good time to address the past with the inevitable curiosity about the affiliation with Ghost. Without really giving that anymore attention outside of clearing things up, what was the affiliation with Ghost? Did that have anything to do with the way Priest came together?

Alpha produced the first Ghost album, so there is that connection. It may be that seeing how fans responded to the mystery and anonymity of Ghost kind of served as a catalyst of sorts for the way we might approach some of the visual aspects of Priest. I guess maybe it even served as a springboard for us to dare to do what we have with Priest. I would say that it might be considered a bit of a learning process as far as stepping into the unknown is concerned.

So in that respect, Priest was affiliated with Ghost, but no other significance. How about yourself, personally?

Let’s just say that I was something like a marionette within the band back in those days. The other two guys in Priest we’re not in Ghost, however. But you know, that was a great period of learning in my life. I loved playing in a group with such great musicians.

For you, is Priest an artistic project or is it something more substantial and long term?

It was always meant to be a band. We have a lot of ideas and plans for the future. We haven’t done it full time yet but we will get there. I’m sure that some people probably see it as a project but it’s something much more for us. Priest is something that we’re all serious about.

The release of the group’s first full-length album is certainly a step in that direction. The material has a significant crossover appeal. How did Priest’s sound begin to make its shape? One album in and there’s already a discernable stylistic approach established, it seems.

I guess you could say that our sound is like a broth of what we grew up listening to. We wanted to write an album that shows what we love and where we come from, so we went back and listened to recordings from bands we’ve loved for a long time because we wanted to see how they were recorded, the way they used their synthesizers on album’s like Music for the Masses and other early albums. The production also gave the songs a different touch, I think.

When did you begin the sessions for New Flesh?

We began recording that material in late 2016 and January of 2017.

Had all of the songs been written prior to recording them or were they done in the studio?

Most of the songs already existed when we got to the studio, but a few were completed once we went in, like “Populist,” for example (an album highlight – Ed.).We wanted to experiment a little once we got there. A couple of the songs were taken from long, long pieces on a computer and given to Alpha to be cut and arranged. It was a little bit of a strange way of working but I think we manage to find some good things that way. But I think it’s always great to be able to find something new in creative experiments like that.

The so-called ‘happy accidents’.

Exactly.

How did you guys go about writing the material?

We have one main songwriter, but there are some collaborations between him and Alpha. The first song on the record is a collaboration between him and Mercury, which was written a while back. Of course Alpha came in and put his touch on it so it was a completely different piece after that. But for this album we just had one main songwriter. In the future we will experiment much more with a lot of different ideas that we have floating around. It would be nice to just go away for a week somewhere, to a house or something and plug in our synthesizers and equipment and see what happens. There are so many different ways to go about doing something like that.

b5377fff506b5e755f33d3bd822acf86.960x960x1You mentioned having a lot of different ideas to work from. Is there more music that didn’t make it onto the album for whatever reason? Whether it was due to time, continuity, or something else?

We actually have a lot of songs, we’re not going to run dry. I mean, we have songs that have been written over time, maybe the span of 15 years or something. That’s a lot of songs!

I’m sure it’s safe to assume that the years yielded a lot of music.

Yes! It’s kind of like a gold mine. With so much material, that gives us a lot of music to experiment with. It gives the future some security, knowing that we have so much music to go through and work with.

I would think that would make you feel a lot more free to explore further reaches of your spectrum.

Yes, I guess it does. It’s kind of like insurance or having a backup.

The influences of classic artists and bands comes through but you guys manage to keep your sound your own while incorporating some of those elements really well. Is the possibility of turning younger listeners on to that early music that you love something you’d like to do?

Oh, absolutely. It’s a compliment to hear that you can see those influences in our music, so thank you. We did reach back into our pasts to bring this music out.

So, is that something that the group will continue to do?

I don’t know, honestly. Maybe we could reach back centuries and try something with classical music interpreted through modern technology and music machines! Of course, whenever you’re lost you can always go back to Bach. You can always find something within his music.

C76by_tVQAAhWDzWith regard to the creative aspect of writing, what inspires you? Outside of music, I mean. Is it scenery? Is it film? Do stories inspire you? Where do you find that kind of thing in the world?

I have vivid dreams. When I was young I used to dream about things like robots and technology. I guess I found some inspiration in electronics. I used to dream in pixels, something that looks like that, anyway. I also find creativity in things like video games or movies. I have a lot of ideas that are inspired by movies. Not all of the lyrics were inspired by movies on New Flesh, necessarily, though the title comes from the David Cronenberg movie Videodrome. I think that a lot of inspiration can come from daydreams. But sometimes that’s very hard to understand. I mean, how do you interpret that? How do you grasp that and turn it into something real? Is it in sounds? Is it in words? To be truthful, I think that I can find inspiration in just about anything that can affect me and any kind of way.

What kind of standards would you say that you’ve set for yourself? Creatively speaking, I mean.

For me it’s really important that words and music fit together. It all has to be one entity. I absolutely feel like it has to work for me. As long as I get it and it means something to me, that’s what matters, I think.

What about the creativity where the visual aesthetics concerned? The masks are effectively ominous in their own way.

There were a lot of ideas that we put through the grinder. It took a while. We didn’t know which way we wanted to go. I found some bondage masks online and I picked one that I though looked pretty cool. I thought, “Let’s put that on with the priest’s collar to see how it works. Then, bingo!” There it was. It was one of those moments that you don’t really have to talk about it because everyone just knows. Since everybody really liked it, naturally, that’s what we decided to do. Then we decided to use the bird masks for the other two people. It’s kind of like the image of Odin and the two crows. Of course, with the bondage mask, there’s a little bit of a Hellraiser influence, as well!

What does Priest’s foreseeable future hold where touring is concerned? Has that been discussed?

We’re actually planning for our live show now.

23551110_766973936829695_2498252667320934479_oAny substantial plans to speak of?

We have two shows coming up: Vienna on December 7th and Copenhagen on December 9th. Then there’s going to be a showcase for industry type people and close family members. After that it’ll be a matter of finding a good team around the band for us to work with. We have some great ideas that we want to do the right way.

Are there any places, geographically speaking, that you’d like to shoot for?

Well, at this point it’s easiest and makes the most sense to focus on Europe. We’d love to play around the U.K., but all of Europe should be fairly easy for us right now. Especially compared to places like North America, Australia, or Asia, though we do want to visit those places, too. In the long-term we’re focused globally.

It’ll be great to see these songs live with a top-notch show to go with it.

Hopefully it will be much sooner than later.

Well, thanks so much for your time today. Good luck with the album release. It’s certainly one of my personal favorites for the year. And good luck with the tour plans. Be well!

Thank you! I appreciate your time, as well. It will be great to make something happen. Good bye!

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REVIEW: THE LIMIÑANAS – ‘Istanbul is Sleepy’

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Lio and Marie Limiñana are a French duo who’ve been releasing some highly catchy and effective music from their metaphorical psych-pop garage since 2009. They’ve been doling the music out in small doses, like their new EP, Istanbul is Sleepy.

There’s a perpetual rhythmic drive that carries the music on the Istanbul is Sleepy EP. The songs are loaded with varying shades of sonic colors that bleed together and creating distinguished hues that swirl together and flow freely. There’s an easiness in the music’s welcome monotony that elicits a zoning effect with hypnotic results. The title tracks, which opens the EP, is a super successful collaboration with Anton Newcombe (The Brian Jonestown Massacre). Tempo plays a big role in the EP’s presence. Of the four tracks, the first three share a similar strut and swagger. The final cut, “Angels and Demons,” picks up the pace slightly with an upbeat rhythm that saunters steadily from start to finish. Each song lives anchored in a warm, lo-fi psychedelia and scattered traces of hypnotic shoegaze. But hints of soulful, even bluesy, elements help keep each song distinctive. The way the vocals are delivered, in both English and French, is a secret weapon the duo has that adds layers of dimension that can sound as mysterious as they do romantic. An overall filmic quality within the music can evoke cinematic flashes of  tranquil desert scenes of American Southwest landscapes a la Joshua Tree. It’s a key characteristic of the EP’s vibe that helps allow their individual style of psychedelic garage-pop stand comfortably apart from their musical peers and contemporaries.

The Limiñanas’ Bandcamp page will give you access to essentially all of their releases, digitally. Check it out here.

DEATH FOR LIFE: Xtreem Music’s Commitment to Extreme Metal

f0014466-750f-4706-86a2-8ab6a6dffbf6Originally founded, and still operated, by Dave Rotten from the iconic brutal death metal faction Avulsed, Xtreem Music is based out of Spain. Their beginnings are traced back to Repulse Records (1996-2002). They’ve been knocking out some of extreme metal’s gnarliest releases for years, and they’ve been especially consistent with their attack over the past year or so. Even before, really. But back in those earlier days, the god-awful ‘Nu Metal’ thing took shape from the whole rap-metal concept, many of the acts came complete with a DJ. Those were horrible days for fans of real metal of all subgenres. By the later years of the decade, even death and black metal were starting to flounder thanks to misguided experimentation and something that resembles a drought of real quality.

300x300Thanks to a chain of events that ultimately resulted in a resurgence of interest in essentially all valid subgenres of rock & roll and heavy metal, labels like Xtreem Music can now have a fighting chance at drawing some well-deserved positive attention to all of their bands—existing, current, and new. With bands that land on the ‘meat and potatoes’, straightforward death metal to the more technique-driven precision of the tech death arena, their primary focus tends to be on a lot of different persuasions of death metal, though they don’t simply begin and end with those styles. They’ve made accommodations to do their part in promoting and proliferating many other styles as well, with Fighter Records. There’s probably no persuasion that Xtreem doesn’t cover on its current roster. And there’s more on the way.

c3ec1895-e033-4fa5-aaac-135e7c1a9179Just this year, Xtreem Music has been killing with crushing thrash metal with album’s like Holycide’s Annihilate… Then Ask, Panikk’s Discarded Existence, Cloaks of Oblivion by Eruption, and in July they dropped Nadimac’s Besnilo, which has prime crossover appeal. They kicked the year off with crushing LPs from Nasty Surgeons’ Exhumation Requiem and Daemoniac’s Spawn of the Fallen. There’s a preponderance of flattening death metal releases from bands like Canker, Cryptic Brood, Soulskinner, Infestus, and of course Avulsed. They also unchained The Mortal Horizon by Desecresy, Gravesite’s Neverending Trail of Skulls, and Purtenance’s Paradox of Existence. 9d498f4c-fc6e-4497-b542-110df5e37315Xtreem Music only recently announced new thrash with No Amnesty’s Psychopathology on November 14th. And there’s an official release of Neocaesar’s debut  LP, 11:11, coming on December 5th. Neocaesar is comprised of ex-Sinister members; Mike van Mastrigt (vocals), Bart van Wallenberg (guitars), Michel Alderliefsten (bass), and Eric de Windt (drums). Looking into next year, Cruentator’s debut album, Ain’t War Hell?, is scheduled to drop on January 10th, 2018.ceeeef72-c45b-49aa-a7ae-90340e004930

With Dave Rotten’s essential life-long love and affiliation with extreme metal, the Xtreem Cult Series seems natural. The label offers the availability of titles from legendary bands like Revenant, Aggression (Can.), Morpheus Descends, Rottrevore, Abhorer, Demolish, Lethal Aggression, and again Avulsed. Find all of those releases, and the other Xtreem titles via Bandcamp. They’ve got a few free downloads to grab while you’re there.

c29a0ec9-d91f-4180-97a1-2cc4f6366e2fAt the moment, there’s a full exclusive stream of Bloodhunter’s sophomore LP, The End of Faith, at Invisible Oranges, which you can get to by clicking here.

Do yourself a favor and look over the playlist below. There’s a load of talent from Xtreem Music’s roster, though it’s nowhere near everything. Visit the label’s site for a more comprehensive idea of available selections.

 

EVIL INVADERS: On a Strict New Diet

714_EvilInvaders_CMYKOne of the best things about writing about the music I’m diggin’ on, is speaking with the artists who make the music I love. The older I get I’m finding that closing my mind to certain musical genres as a young person was really ridiculous. But heavy metal always made the cut, speed metal being among the favorites. The 90s were dark for the majority of those fans, so now that things are full-circle and the youth has managed to catch on and give the scene some new wind. And it’s been great, for the most part anyway. Belgium’s Evil Invaders is a band I fortunately came across really early in their evolution. Their vocalist, Joe, and I eventually struck up a rapport so it’s been awesome to watch them take shape as a band. Just recently, I spoke with Joe again about this awaited new LP, Feed Me Violence. Apparently a lot has transpired for the band since release of their debut LP, just about two years ago, now.

“I think it’s the best we’ve ever sounded,” Joe says with regard to the state of the band as they gear up for the new album release and another busy cycle. It doesn’t take long to hear developments within Evil Invaders’ overall sound. Since their first album, Pulses of Pleasure, they’ve maintained a fairly hectic schedule filled largely by touring and festival participation. As a result, over the past two years they’ve sophisticated their sonic presence to become a sharp, intricate killing machine—kinda like Joe’s guitars;>) They’ve gone through some necessary personnel changes, which turned out to offer new perspectives that certainly helped to cultivate their already stellar attack.

Opening the record up, “Mental Penitentiary” doesn’t waste any time showing of an elevated level of songwriting, and Joe’s vocal diversification, which he goes on to really drive home in a fantastic way throughout the rest of the album. “As Life Slowly Fades” opened their ‘In For the Kill’ EP last fall, so as it turns out the band had given us a quick peek at the new full-length.

Joe pointed out that “Broken Dreams of Isolation” and “Among the Depths of Sanity” are the band’s slowest and fastest tunes ever, respectively. So, Feed Me Violence is essentially an album of polar opposites. The former is the only cut on the album that is comprised of material held back from the Pulses of Pleasure sessions. “Sometimes there are parts have to sit for weeks, months, or even years before it can find its way into a song,” he explains. “Just because you have something doesn’t always mean it’s worthy of being used.” Talking to him, I can hear his resolve, distinctly. That particular song also clearly demonstrates Joe’s newly revealed range as a vocalist. The song definitely stands out as a clear album highlight.

Feed Me Violence boasts nine tracks that both carry over the band’s initial musical direction and establishes a platform for Evil Invaders to expand their creative energy. They’re not the kind of band that fits a bag-full of riffs and sections together for the sake of amassing a quantity of material to occupy maximum area on a disc. “I would rather spend the time writing 10 great songs that will all be used, rather than writing 20 alright songs to pick through.” Personally, I’m completely with that. It’s always a good thing to get another new release from a great band but if more wait time means receiving a higher grade of material, waiting isn’t the worst thing in the world.

And then, again, there’s a brand new band lineup, which features new guitarist Max, bassist Joeri, and Senne behind the drum kit. Feed Me Violence absolutely benefits from having the new perspectives. Not to mention the escalation of musicianship and technical executions. Every single cut feels inspired, kinda like they’re a new band with everything to prove. “Max is a better guitar player than I am, everyone in the band is great,” Joe acknowledges. “I want to have people that are better so the band and the music will continue to get better every time, and it pushes me to be a better guitar player.” Being a relatively young band of hungry musicians, Evil Invaders’ Feed Me Violence is but the next logical step for a band that lets their music do the talking, and it’s promising great things are still yet to come.

JOE’S CUSTOM J-AXE GUITARS

Take a look at the guitars Joe plays. Those headstocks, the sharp, sleek body contours, the unique colors and finishes; he makes his own guitars. That’s what he does with his manufacturing imprint, J-Axe. There’s also a photo of bassist Joeri in action with a customer J-Axe piece. If I had a better personal situation and steady income flow, I’d commission a J-Axe guitar in a heartbeat. When you go back and listen to his maniacal performances within his songs, you can get a pretty good idea of how guitars’ capabilities and performance. Give him a look or a shout, here.

FEATURE REVIEW: GARY NUMAN – ‘Savage (Songs From a Broken World)’

12_GF_SLEEVEIt’s unfortunate that Gary Numan isn’t always deservedly hailed for reinventing himself. Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Elton John, even Madonna—all professional reinventers—have historically been recognized on a wider scale, though Gary’s rebirths have been equally remarkable. Maybe it’s just an admirer’s bias but Gary Numan belongs among them.

Gary’s last LP, Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)’, was a conveyance of personal introspection and reflection. It also happened to be one of his most lauded releases in his 40 year career. There was bound to be some pressure and stress following that album up. Then while he was engaged in his writing process, something fucked up happened on the way to the forum, and that ham of a scoundrel Donald Trump somehow usurped the Oval Office. So ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ has a loose, quasi-conceptual basis in a world society where such leaders have allowed the planet to be neglected and ravaged by the human race and soulless giants of industry. Set in a not too distant future, ‘Savage…’ could double as a contemporary cautionary tale.

The presence of Middle Eastern flavors embedded within the layers of melodies and synth lines enhance the mood and add depth and dimension to the music. Gary’s incorporation of such elements really reinforces his unwillingness to play it safe. Throughout ‘Savage…’ the underlying feeling of impending unrest, even ultimate demise, never really goes away. Being a lifelong fan of heavy metal, among other persuasions, I was immediately impressed with the overall heaviness of the album’s vibe, both conceptually and musically. Even from the beginning with “Ghost Nation”—an easy album highlight—, the mood created by the sonic depth of the synth line has an almost crushing presence underneath the catchy chorus hook. “My Name is Ruin,” “When the World Comes Apart,” “Pray For the Pain You Serve,” are all memorable heavy-hitters. With the marching cadence that introduces it, the latter provides a feeling of cold, driving militancy. From time to time, sounds that resemble the cruising of airborne projectiles enhance that vibe.

Though ‘Savage…’ isn’t all doom and gloom, there’s a dystopian bleakness that enshrouds this collection of songs. I’ve always been a huge fan of Gary’s timeless classic “Down In the Park” and the innate tension the synth melodies seem to generate, but he’s managed to create a different kind of tension that feels somewhat direful in a ‘this could really come to be’ kind of way, thereby making it much more ominous. Gary’s effort and commitment given to this new LP have really paid off. In a lot of ways ‘Savage (Songs from a Broken World)’ is one of the best releases in Gary Numan’s 21-album catalog, hands down.

Check out Gary Numan’s store now