Category Archives: New Music

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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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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CVLT Nation Takes on the Misfits’ ‘Walk Among Us’

0003647112_10CVLT Nation brings us the next new installment in their series of underground classic compilations. This, the 15th series entry, focuses on the Misfits’ classic Walk Among Us. They’ve included a vast selection of bands that span the entire spectrum of heavy frequencies. This particular compilation features covers from Hellkeeper, The Wraith, 偏執症者 (Paranoid), True Love, Bleach Birth, Casket Huffer, Hag Graef, Beastmaker, Black Tomb, Dreadlords, and False Light. Like every one before it, this Sessions comp is now available as a free download, no strings attached.

Find the comp’s track list below to see exactly who did which song.

About CVLT Nation’s Sessions Series:
The CVLT Nation Sessions cover iconic albums that’ve influenced genres across the board. Every song from said album is covered, each band on the album does one single song from that album. CVLT Nation has tapped a lot of their favorite heavy underground bands from around the world to record the covers. The object is two-fold; the introduction of some seriously influential material to new ears and minds, while the bands covering the material expand their fan base. And it’s all available for free—free distribution and download. Just go to their website, CVLTNation.com, to grab your music and hopefully find something new to you. Nashville-based Black Matter Mastering has handled all mastering duties.

The last release CVLT Nation tackled was Bolt Thrower’s In Battle There Is No Law which—along with Joy Division’s Closer, Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, and The Cure’s Pornography—turned out to be among the best installments. Other seminal albums CVLT Nation has covered include the Dead Kennedys’ Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, Black Flag’s Slip It In, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, Amebix’s Arise!, and the Misfits’ Earth A.D. There’s also a couple more Sabbath album’s, Sleep’s Holy Mountain, Bathory’s debut LP, and Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing by Discharge, which kicked the whole series off. You’ll find the complete list at CVLT Nation’s website or their Bandcamp page, where you can grab the releases from, as well.

These series entries usually come around every few months so make sure to stay sharp and check back regularly.

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Misfits ‘Walk Among Us’: The CVLT Nation Sessions Track List:
1. Hellkeeper – 20 Eyes
2. The Wraith – Turned Into A Martian
3. 偏執症者 (Paranoid) – All Hell Breaks Loose
4. True Love – Vampira
5. Bleach Birth – Nike A Go Go
6. Casket Huffer – Hatebreeders
7. Hag Graef – Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?
8. Bleach Birth – Night Of The Living Dead
9. Beastmaker – Skulls
10. Black Tomb – Violent World
11. Bleach Birth – Devil’s Whorehouse
12. Dreadlords – Astro Zombies
13. False Light – Braineaters

REVIEW: BROWN ACID – ‘The Fifth Trip’

Bear with the brief analogy: when surgeons are tits deep inside of a pocket left from an excision, deep stitches are placed inside to pull everything together so as to foster strong internal structuring. Those absolutely integral components eventually dissolve over time. While at first glance of the surface, the superficial sutures appear to’ve done the job of holding everything together, the work done underneath and out of view provided a sturdy foundation that prevented an empty, hollow encapsulation.

It’s the scores of unknown, unrecognized, essentially unheard nuggets that give our music’s history its structure along with true fullness and richness.


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If you happen to be new to the Brown Acid compilation series, it’s a continuing anthology of rare and obscure rock & roll gems that’ve been unearthed and curated by RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records. It’s been remarkably prolific in a surprisingly short amount of time. Every installment of sonic rarities can satisfy both the casual fan and the connoisseur, equally. There’s always a little bit of everything—proto-metal, proto-punk, drone, psychedelic, garage rock & roll, etc.—gathered and sorted from what has to be some of the most gloriously obscure collections around the world. Where does The Fifth Trip fit in? Well, it’s probably one of the best contributions that’ve been made to this continuously expanding anthology so far.

From the jump, with “No Reason” by Captain Foam, The Fifth Trip turns out a load of great space rock which also includes strong cuts like Finch’s “Nothing in the Sun” and Cybernaut’s “Clockwork.” Fargo’s “Abaddon” is a choice slice of Iron Butterfly-esque acid rock and Flasher’s “Icky Bicky” throws in a touch of soul, though both tracks have a golden California vibe that helps them stick out. “Fireball,” from Lance, is a great slice of raw rock & roll leaning in the direction of punk. A bona fide highlight track is a bluesy, psychedelic take on “Helter Skelter” by Flasher, which, I’ve gotta admit, I was fully ready to blow off before resolving to give it the benefit of the doubt with a verse and a chorus. The amalgam of it’s driving rhythm, insistent vocal delivery, and its scorching organ presence—most likely a Hammond—almost recreates the song, period.

RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records have assembled this installment of Brown Acid with some of the most eclectic selections so far. At first listen is it seems like the material on The Fifth Trip could’ve been culled from the farthest reaches of the sonic stratosphere, yet. But that’s one of the coolest things about this whole Brown Acid ‘trip’; each time has to require even more searching and digging for material that’s worthy of the anthology’s standards. So, let’s keep this thing going!

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.

 

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

FEATURE: DEAD LORD – ‘In Ignorance We Trust’

fd1d46af-05fd-4323-883a-497b9843cc46Personally, I became familiar with Dead Lord right after Century Media announced their plan to release the band’s 2015 ‘Heads Held High’ LP. They put in some great hard work on that album and it paid off in the form of one of the best album’s that year. Just when it was starting to feel like a new Dead Lord album should be due soon, ‘In Ignorance We Trust’ begins to surface. That first single, “Reruns,” created a ‘hurry up and wait’ kind of eagerness, but now that August 25th has come and gone, ‘In Ignorance We Trust’ has finally materialized.

If you’ve never heard Dead Lord, we should change that (see below). Words like retro, ’70s rock, revival, throwback, proto-metal, tend to be often used in reviews or articles and it’s starting to get old. Wearing your influences on your proverbial sleeve is difficult for a band to do without succumbing to mimicry. But Dead Lord rides the line brilliantly. Hints certainly come through in their music, but Dead Lord has a distinct presence that sets them well apart from anyone, present or past. Really, what do the 1970s sound like? Are we referring to the loud, overdriven tube amps? Did musicians play differently between 1970 and 1980? Does it have something to do with analog recording? Is it a specific grouping of chords, progressions, techniques? I mean, I understand the references and I understand the urge to classify a band or artist for the sake of explanation or description. The truth is, though, the 1970s were pivotal times for rock music and, like anything else with true value, the decade’s sonic influence has never really disappeared. So, this “retro” sound isn’t really retro at all. It’s really just a classic approach to rock & roll that’s proven to be bountiful and timeless. The point is, while Dead Lord certainly found influence in such an area, they’re not participating in some 1970s Thin Lizzy revival. They’ve got more of a Dead Lord in 2017 thing going on, by way of, again, a classic approach that’s timeless.

Dead Lord travels down the NWOBHM path, but they exist on the hard rock side. They’re the kind of band that you can recognize upon hearing. Melody and harmony are absolute pertinents in their sound, as is singer Hakim Krim’s distinctive lyrical phrasing. ‘In Ignorance We Trust’ is their third full-length release since their debut, ‘Goodbye Repentance’, back in 2013. It’s unfortunate that they’ve never made it over to North America for any extensive a touring, but they’ve been absolute road animals over in Europe and abroad. Every time their name comes up online, there’s like another 20+ live dates that appear. The point is they never seem to rest, they’re always active. That’s the kind of thing that allows a band time to tighten up, learn one another’s tendencies, develop, and push themselves in unique ways. So, their experiences and dedication come through on ‘In Ignorance We Trust’ and it all pays off, big time.

Musical dimension, vocal performance, composition all stand out as points of development for Dead Lord. And they’ve also got some interesting ways of reworking the concepts of ‘lead’ guitar. Olle Hedenström and Hakim Krim have a lot of extended twin guitar interplay where, a lot of times, their harmonies create and carry the melodies. Hakim has endless charisma and his vocal deliveries are rich and they have a capacity for carrying range, as you’ll hear in cuts like “Leave Me Be,” “Never Die,” and “Part of Me”—a solid ballad-esque song that should quell any doubt of the band’s ability to deliver an epic composition.

Incidentally, the second half of the album would translate to a pretty fucking grand live experience. Just after “Part of Me,” they pick the pace up gradually with “They!,” then “Darker Times” tops the record off with a chorus hook that hangs in the air well after the song is done. Hell, the dynamics of the sequencing of ‘In Ignorance We Trust’, start to finish, would be a fantastic live set, straight through. There’s a special edition that has two additional tracks; “The Indifferent” and a surprisingly fitting Dead Lord take on Motorhead’s “Stone Dead Forever,” respectively. I’ve probably played this album through five or six times now. After hearing the ultra-catchy stand-out lead single, “Reruns,” anticipation took hold immediately, and now that the new album is here I’m already stoked for the next record.

Find Dead Lord on Facebook. You can buy ‘In Ignorance We Trust’ here.