If you’re a fan of my writing, or music and sports in general, check out my new blog Warrmageddon Inc and tell all your friends!
So after a year of writing about music on my blog, I’ve learned one important thing: nobody really cares about music reviews. It’s just a sad fact, man…if somebody wants to know if a record is good, they’ll pull it up on Spotify or iTunes and listen for themselves, they don’t need a ten paragraph review describing the essence of the album for em. With that being said, the real challenge is finding new music that’s even worth listening to on the internet. Therefore, I’ve revamped my monthly reviews column to just spotlight the best records released each month. All but two of these albums (Holy Grail and Gruesome Stuff Relish) are located on Spotify, and all albums are completely worth your time if you like heavy music.
Voivod – Target Earth
Next to Metallica, Voivod is one of the first thrash bands I ever fell in love with. Target Earth is their first album ever without original guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, as well as their first in over twenty years to feature original bassist Blacky. Despite having a new guitarist, the sound on this album is exactly what you’d expect to hear in a Voivod record. It’s got the sci-fi thrash elements from Killing Technology, as well as the groovier elements of albums like Dimension Hatross, in fact, you could really just say that it’s a perfect mixture of the many different styles of Voivod. This was definitely my most anticipated album of the year and it did not disappoint at all.
Cult Of Luna – Vertikal
I got into Cult Of Luna right around 2006 when their album Somewhere Along The Highway came out and they completely blew my mind. Here we are six or seven years later and they still have me scratching my head, shocked at how genuinely awesome they are. Vertikal continues to tread down the post metal path they helped create with Isis and Neurosis, but it also goes a lot deeper than just the standard Cult Of Neurisis riffs. The album actually has a strange, almost robotic feel to it at times. In fact, check out the eighteen minute track “Vicarious Redemption” which features a pretty massive dubstepesque breakdown in the middle that just disintegrates the mind. I fully intended on just reviewing this album after listening to it on Spotify a few times, but after hearing all the nuances in it and how deep and dark it is, I really had no choice but to buy the record and let it do with me what it wilt.
Hatebreed – The Divinity Of Purpose
If you’ve heard of Hatebreed, you obviously don’t need to read this review to find out what this record sounds like. Like almost every other Hatebreed album, Divinity Of Purpose features a punishing mixture of hardcore and thrash, but what separates it a little from past albums in their discography is the addition of catchier hooks, as well as more hardcore influence than past records. The album also features incredibly uplifting, positive lyrics that will brighten up the day of even the hardest of hardcore kids in Terror shorts.
Phil Anselmo/Warbeast – War Of The Gargantuas Split EP
I was initially psyched about hearing this split, because it features the debut of Phil Anselmo’s solo material. In hindsight, it’s kind of a bummer now because it’s gotten me even more psyched for Phil’s actual full length, but it won’t be out for a few more months. Musically, these songs seem to be very similar to what Pantera would sound like if they were able to record an album in 2013. Phil’s two songs “Conflict” and “Family, Friends are loaded with a lot of groove, but plenty of thrash as well, not to mention Phil’s signature vocal style, which is similar to his vocals on the new Down EP. If these songs are any indication of what Phil has in store for the future, the future is bright…and angry. As far as the Warbeast songs go, they are two throwaway songs featuring an old lineup, so they aren’t exactly standout tracks, but they don’t ruin the album by any means.
Blockheads – This World Is Dead
It seems that if there’s one genre in which the folks at Relapse Records never release a dud, it would be grindcore. This is Blockheads’ first album for Relapse, but these French speed-demons are veterans of the genre and they are completely deadly. If you like your grind to be angry, politically-charged and incredibly reminiscent of Nasum, this album is right up your alley.
Rotten Sound – Species At War
Most of what I said about Blockheads is also true for Rotten Sound. They are another example of the incredibly violent, technically proficient grindcore Relapse has been known to crank out over the years. Though this album only contains six songs, none of which are over two minutes, it is still heavy as hell with a nice death metal guitar tone and it absolutely crushes.
Holy Grail – Ride The Void
It seems that any band who plays heavy metal these days always gets thrown into their own little sub-genre. Holy Grail is a band who doesn’t really fall under any category but “heavy metal”. Their sound consists of straight forward, fast-paced riffs with power metalesque vocals and insanely catchy hooks. In fact, in my opinion, “Bestia Triumphans” reminds me of what Avenged Sevenfold would have ended up sounding like if they had never given up on making real heavy metal.
Newsted – Metal EP
This is the new solo project from the former bassist of such thrash icons as Metallica, Voivod and Flotsam and Jetsam, Mr. Jason Newsted. I didn’t know what to expect from an album featuring Jason doing most of the songwriting, but as it turns out, this record is pretty cool. I mean, it’s not really extreme metal or anything, but it’s got elements of thrash as well as straight up hard rock mixed that give it a very Motorheadian vibe. Though this album isn’t exactly perfect, it shows that Newsted is definitely in a good place creatively and I anticipate that the material on his forthcoming solo full length will be as good as most of these songs, if not better.
Denouncement Pyre – Almighty Arcanum
It seems that in the internet age of 2013, everyone and their mother has a black metal project. The problem is, most of those bands are kind of pretentious and lose the point of the genre. Denouncement Pyre are a band who obviously understands what the genre stands for, however, they also clearly understand that black metal is a genre that sounds best when its razor-sharp, insanely evil riffs collide head first with the brutal tone, groove and aesthetic of death metal. I’ve honestly gotten tired of quite a bit of the black metal coming out these days, but this album is one that I haven’t once had the urge to turn off before it’s over and it never actually gets boring.
Gruesome Stuff Relish – Sempiternal Death Grind
First off, I know what you’re thinking and I feel I am asking the same question…”what the hell is a Gruesome Stuff Relish?!”. Though I’m not sure what their name means, or even what the word “Sempiternal” means, I do know that these guys are a straight-up monstrous Spanish goregrind band. Their lyrics are all based on horror movies and their music is very similar to their Spanish goregrind neighbors in Haemorrhage. These guys obviously know their way around a Carcass riff or two, but they don’t really rip them off so much ass they make them incredibly brutal. This is definitely not the kind of band you put on for serious moments of reflection, it’s just wild, crazy, brutla goregrind.
It’s obviously incredibly late to be listing my favorite albums from a year that’s been over for almost two months now, but nonetheless, I had to get this post done for pure catharsis sake. I’ve been busy with various projects and haven’t had time to devote to the site in a while. Honestly, this list looks like crap format-wise and probably doesn’t make any sense, but I had to get it done and posted to get that weight off my shoulders and move forward with new stuff for the blog. If you see something on there that sounds interesting, look em up, and if you can’t find any info, message me on Facebook and I’ll link you to their music. Enjoy!
1 Saint Vitus – Lillie: F-65
This is one of the few albums I heard last year that truly is perfect all the way through. Though the album only has five real songs, each one of those songs is one of the greatest Saint Vitus have ever written. I think part of my obsession with this album is because it only has five actual songs, so there isn’t much to take in, and also because I’ve seen all five of those songs played live twice this year and every one of them sound WAY better live than they do in the studio.
2 Napalm Death – Utilitarian
The best grind album of 2012, and possibly one of the best of their career. Every song on here is laden with hooks, but also some incredible blasts of grind fury. Napalm Death have once again claimed their crown of best grind band ever.
3 baroness – yellow and green
This record was my favorite of the year for a while until the very end, honestly. It’s completely different from every other album they’ve ever put out and both discs are a rollercoaster of badassery, without question.
4 converge – all we love we leave behind
The heaviest hardcore band on the planet got heavier and more ridiculous.
5 overkill – the electric age
This album, along with Royal Thunder, was my biggest surprise of the year. I knew Overkill would come out swinging for the fences, because that’s what thrash metal icons do, but I had no idea they’d knock the cover off the ball like they did with this record.
6 christian mistress – possession
I normally don’t dig female vocalists much, but this band is the major exception to the rule. Heavy as balls riffs, coked-up rock n’ roll fury and songs catchier than Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXIII.
7 testament – dark roots of earth
Testament are one of my favorite thrash bands of all time and this record just goes to show that they still have it. Native Blood might be my favorite song all year.
8 pallbearer – sorrow and extinction
This is one of the greatest doom albums I’ve ever heard, without question. Riffs so heavy they’ll knock the fillings out of your teeth.
9 graveyard – lights out
People always talk about how rock n’ roll is dead, but if they’ve ever heard these Swedish monsters, it’s obvious that rock n’ roll is VERY much alive.
10 royal thunder – cvi
Incredibly bad ass bluesy, southern rock n’ roll. I hadn’t listened to them much prior to this year, so this album would have to be my biggest surprise of the year, without question.
11 deftones – koi no yokan
I haven’t heard a Deftones album since Self Titled that I wasn’t obsessed with, and Koi No Yokan was no exception. They have once again incorporated beautiful vocals and atmosphere with seven-string riffs that kill, and a powerful rhythm section. I would say this is definitely one of the best albums of their career, without question.
12 torche – harmonicraft
Any time Torche puts out a new album, they seem to unleash something new upon the world. With Harmonicraft, they somehow managed to include, ridiculously heavy, signature Torche riffs with elements of arena rock and pop punk. Fantastic driving album.
13 neurosis – honor found in decay
Neurosis have released yet another album that sounds like Neurosis, but doesn’t resemble any other album in their back catalog. It’s one of those albums that has so many elements in it, that you hear something new on each spin, and it can’t be classified under any real genre because it just sounds like Neurosis and not much else.
14 horseback – half blood
2012 was definitely the year of Relapse Records. One reason is because of bands like Horseback who completely pushed beyond genre limitations to create one of the sickest psychedelic rock albums ever. It’s got occasional black metal vocals sung over soothing, trippy, bass-driven rhythms that just melt my heart.
15 pig destroyer – book burner
I am a pretty big fan of Pig Destroyer, but upon hearing Book Burner, I became much more obsessed with them. This record has all of the elements that make them great, but they also added Adam Jarvis from Misery Index on drums, which took them to a completely new stratosphere of heavy.
16 conan – monnos
Words can’t express how disgustingly heavy this album is. It’s got the hugest, fattest tones i’ve ever heard on a doom album. These guys are the Yokozuna of British doom metal.
17 meshuggah – koloss
Meshuggah are one of my favorite bands on earth, so it wasn’t surprising how good their new record was. What did surprise me, however, is how they were able to slow it down and change their pace just enough to avoid sounding like they were ripping off the genre they unintentionally created.
18 cattle decapitation – monolith of inhumanity
I’ve always had respect for this band, but this is the first album of theirs that really blew my doors off. It’s got all of the usual brutal death/grind riffs going on, but the real star of the show is Travis Ryan’s version of clean vocals, which consists of disgusting, undead howls.
19 liberteer – better to die on your feet than live on your knees
When I first heard this album, I was completely floored. The stunning mix of HM2 death metal with grindcore and civil war type passages is absolutely crushing.
20 asphyx – deathhammer
This album is part two of Martin Van Drunen’s brutal death metal assault in 2012. It sounds like an Asphyx record, obviously, but with the fantastic production of the record, it’s helped them continue to reign as one of the heaviest bands on the planet.
21 black breath – sentenced to life
The cool thing about this band is the fact that they took a style like old school Entombed-style death metal that’s very old and familiar, and they added their own hardcore influence to make it even more intense and pummeling. This is a perfect mosh-pit album.
22 municipal waste – the fatal feast
At this point, it’s very easy to lump Municipal Waste in with the 80′s thrash bands as one of the best thrash bands of all time. Their new record continues that legacy with a ton of awesome thrash/punk anthems, as well as an appearance by John from Nuclear Assault which rules.
23 corrosion of conformity – corrosion of conformity
This is the first COC album in forever without Pepper on guitar, and in my opinion it’s one of their best. The mix of their doomy rock n’ roll era with their hardcore punk/thrash roots is just delicious.
24 incantation – vanquish in vengeance
This is another album that caught me by complete surprise. It’s an old school death metal album, but it’s also got a lot of slow, devastating doom riffs that add an extra 100 lbs to their already insanely heavy death metal.
25 pilgrim – misery wizard
In my review of this record, I stated that this band is like the football team that wins by running the ball up the middle and playing violent defense. The reason I said that is because this album is a slow, plodding, thick slab of doom that rarely changes pace and beats you to death every step of the way.
26 grave – endless procession of souls
I’m obviously a sucker for old school death metal and Grave are one of my favorite bands of the genre. This new record is just another gory chapter in their fantastic discography.
27 grand magus – the hunt
This album caught me by complete surprise with how catchy it is. It’s got a lot of heavy, bone-crushing riffs, as well as some epic Norse-themed lyrics, and it’s impossible to not headbang to.
28 the sword – apocryphon
I’ve always been a big fan of this band, and this record is another flawless part of their discography. It’s got all the foot-stomping classic rock/doom influence, as well as the cool sci-fi element that makes them continue to be interesting.
29 enslaved – riitir
Enslaved are a band that has been able to continually change and progress over the years, and with this record, they brought that progression to it’s highest peak yet. The vocals on this album are much cleaner than on previous records, which actually gives it a bit of beauty at times.
30 inverloch – dusk subsides
This band was formed in the ashes of dISEMBOWELMENT, and they picked up right where they left off. Slow, plodding funeral-esque passages lead to huge, monstrous doom riffs and back to a crawl again. It’s a shame this album wasn’t a full length, because it is truly intense.
31 paradise lost – tragic idol
Though they are a legendary British doom band, Paradise Lost have taken on a much stranger tone with their newer albums, but I love it. The biggest thing for me was the hooks all throughout this album, it’ll stay with you for MANY days after you hear it.
32 down – down iv part 1 purple ep
With this first of four EP’s, the boys from Nola seem to have gotten in touch with their Saint Vitus influence and I couldn’t be happier. I just hope the next three EP’s sound this awesome.
33 dying fetus – reign supreme
2012 was an amazing year for brutal death metal, particularly when a band like Dying Fetus comes out with a back-to-basics death metal album full of the slams and monstrous blast beats their fans know and love them for.
34 norska – norska
Though this album is a reissue, it was one of the finest doom albums I’ve heard all year thanks to their incredibly creative riffs. These guys definitely offer up a fresh take on a genre that is sometimes lacking in the freshness department.
35 unsane – wreck
Some people call Unsane noise rock, but it’s more than that. It’s a heavy, groovy, bruiser of an album. Chris Spencer’s voice is also incredibly grating and it never gets old to me.
36 prong – carved in stone
Tommy Victor perfected the art of “groove metal”, and when you hear this album, you’ll understand why. The man can also still write a hook like nobody’s business.
37 bison bc – lovelessness
Though these guys are a mix of stoner metal and Mastodon, they have managed to progress more and more with each album, culminating in one of the best albums of their career. This is another album that’s great for drinkin heavily and drivin fast.
38 ihsahn – eremita
The former Emperor main man has always managed to stay ahead of the curve as far as prog metal goes. “Eagle And The Snake” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
39 Nile – At The Gates Of Sethu
Another burly, technical, semi-eerie slab of Egyptian death metal from the only band in America that knows how to do it.
40 The Faceless – Autotheism
Definitely a change of pace for these guys from their previous albums due to a new vocalist, but still just as proggy and brutal as ever, with a touch of Opeth for good measure.
41 Grand Supreme Blood Court – Bow Down Before The Blood Court
One of the loudest albums I’ve heard all year. Seriously, it’s impossible to turn it up very loud without blowing out your ear drums. It’s brutal, old school death metal featuring current and former members of Asphyx.
42 Kreator – Phantom Antichrist
This album features a legendary German thrash band doing what legendary German thrash bands do…playing fast, infectious thrash metal.
43 Katatonia – Dead End Kings
This album is absolutely gorgeous at times. It seems that this album is quite a bit more melodic than previous records, and they also don’t sound like Chevelle anymore, thankfully.
44 Murder Construct – Results
Absolutely bloody grind/death metal from members of Pig Destroyer, Intronaut and more. Fast and violent win the race.
45 A Life Once Lost – Ecstatic Trance
This is their first new album in a while, but stylistically, they are just as nuts as ever. The manner in which they layer a crap-ton of awesome solos and leads over a huge, monstrous groove is just amazing to me.
46 haarp – Husks
These guys are one of the best bands going in New Orleans these days, so it’s not a surprise that this album is awesome. What did surprise me, however, was the fact that it only has three songs…three very long, brutal, depressing songs.
47 Bereft – Liechenhaus
This band features current and past members of bands like Intronaut, The Faceless and Abysmal Dawn, so I didn’t know what to expect from them style-wise. The end result is a ten-ton mountain of soul-crushing doom.
48 Nachtmystium – The Silencing Machine
The boys from Chicago broke away from the Meddle theme of their last two albums and went back to making hateful black metal. The results are exactly what you’d expect, only a little better due to better production, as well as a still-lingering Floyd influence.
49 High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
Matt Pike is a complete monster, plain and simple. When you combine his amazing songwriting abilities with Kurt Ballou’s incredible production, good things are bound to happen.
50 Burning Love – Rotten Thing To Say
I listened to this album because their singer is Chris Colohan from Cursed. I fell in love with it because of their hardcore-punk mentality with some rock n’ roll thrown in for good measure.
51 Cannibal Corpse – Torture
If you have ever heard Cannibal Corpse, then you know what this album sounds like. Brutal lyrics and an uncompromisingly punishing form of death metal have been their calling card for 20 years.
52 Car Bomb – w-^-w-^^-w-^-w
This album reminds me of a mixture of Dillinger and Meshuggah, but at times fastier and groovier and a little more insane.
53 Castle – Blacklands
This album has a bit of a thrash metal influence, but it’s tuned way down and has a cool doom-rock vibe to it.
54 Bell Witch – Longing
Very emotionally-draining, super intense funeral doom. It’s made by just two guys, but you sure can’t tell due to the intense, soul-eviscerating riffs.
55 Horrendous – The Chills
Many bands try to sound like Entombed, few manage to pull it off the way these guys do. I’m a big fan of old school death metal, and apparently these guys are too, because this record could have come out in 1991, easily.
56 Angel Witch – As Above, So Below
I’m so glad that these guys got a real record label, because the production on this album is amazing. Music-wise, it’s exactly the kind of old school, epic metal you’d expect from one of the O.G. NWOBHM bands.
57 Candlemass – Psalms For The Dead
Epicus. Doomicus. Metallicus. This is supposedly their last album, and it’s got all of their typical bells & whistles to leave fans with a good taste in their mouths.
58 Pelican – Ataraxia Taraxis
Though this isn’t really the Pelican I’ve grown to love, I think I can appreciate what they were going for with this Ep. It’s way more rock n’ roll than their previous albums to say the least.
59 Dawnbringer – Into The Lair Of The Sun God
The only genre I could really give this album would be “heavy metal”. It’s throwback, epic metal with classic rock vocals, basically.
60 Gaza – No Absolutes In Human Suffering
It seems these guys get angrier and nastier with every album. At this point, they remind me of a hardcore band who tried to make technical death metal.
61 Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
I assumed that signing to a huge label would ruin these guys, but it actually made their unique brand of groovy, technical metal even heavier and more preposterous.
62 D.I.S. – Becoming Wrath
The letters in their name means destroyed in seconds, which is kind of a fitting band name for this incredibly mean-spirited mix of black metal, death metal and hardcore.
63 Cryptopsy – Cryptopsy
They finally got back to making violent, dizzying technical death metal, and it paid massive dividends.
64 Hooded Menace – Effigies Of Evil
A very cool mixture of death and doom metal, with a dash of horror samples to make it even more terrifying.
65 Swans – The Seer
This album was almost too much for me to take in due to it’s length. It’s not really metal by the standard definition, but it’s the kind of sprawling, gorgeous album that is very rewarding when you let it sink in.
66 Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas
Loud and abrasive would be the operative words to describe this album. It’s blackened death metal with a sprinkle of weirdness.
67 Evoken – Atra Mors
Slow, plodding, depressing funeral doom. The perfect album to listen to while walking through the woods at night.
68 Dysrhythmia – Test Of Submission
Brain-rattlingly technical instrumental metal. Colin Marston knows how to make instrumental metal not boring.
69 Ancestors – In Dreams And Time
Very dreamy, sludgy post-metal. Great music to sleep to.
70 Daylight Dies – A Frail Becoming
A nice mixture of doom and death metal. It could be said that this is what Opeth should sound like these days.
71 Spawn Of Possession – Incurso
Insane, technical death metal. They seriously cram like 5,000 riffs into each song. Incredibly brutal.
72 Fight Amp – Birth Control
This album is also very hard to classify. I would say they are like Torche, but with maybe a bit more of a Jesus Lizard influence.
73 Evocation – Illusions Of Grandeur
More old school death metal that uses the crap out of the HM-2 pedal. Incredibly heavy and awesome.
74 Dragged Into Sunlight – Widowmaker
A nice, depressing, terrifying mixture of death and doom, but it’s more like the soundtrack to a serial murder, honestly.
75 Agalloch – Faustian Echoes
One twenty minute song of melodic, gorgeous, Agallochian black metal.
76 Gypsyhawk – Revelry And Resilience
Upbeat, throwback rock n’ roll just the way I like it. They have an amazing Rick Derringer cover on here as well.
77 Samothrace – Reverence To Stone
This album has just two songs, but both of them are thick, depressing and heavy as hell doom.
78 Kowloon Walled City – Container Ships
Very sludgy metal that’s hard to define, but they remind me of bands like Torche that have a rock n’ roll influence mixed in with doom.
79 Mutilation Rites – Empyrean
Very dense black metal, but also got elements of crust and thrash to keep it interesting.
80 Aborted – Global Flatline
Brutal Swedish goregrind/death metal with some…creative song titles. This record also has some cool guest vocalists like Trevor Strnad of Black Dahlia.
81 Old Man Gloom – NO
This album wasn’t as awesome as I initially thought it’d be, but when it hits the heavier songs, it definitely brings enough thunder to make up for the slower parts.
82 Chrome Waves – Chrome Waves
Can’t decide if this album is black metal or not, but it’s definitely fast, chaotic and intense. Stavros from Atlas Moth does an insane job on the vocals, the most unique part of the album.
83 Ram – Death
Traditional heavy metal in the vein of Judas Priest or Dio-era Sabbath.
84 Dethklok – Dethalbum III
Their last album was incredibly boring, so I was shocked to hear how brutal this album turned out to be. Then again, anything with Gene Hoglan is going to be at least a little awesome.
85 Mares Of Thrace – The Pilgrimage
Very eerie stoner/doom similar to The Melvins, but with a lot of shred and a lot of very intense passages.
86 Wizard Rifle – Speak Loud Say Nothing
Spastic mix of garage rock and sludge metal. Reminds me of a more spastic version of Pissed Jeans
87 Enabler – All Hail The Void
An insanely fun mix of black metal, punk and hardcore.
88 Zombiefication – Reaper’s Consecration
Incredibly vicious old school death metal. They’re clearly fans of Entombed and Autopsy.
89 Sons Of Tonatiuh – Parade Of Sorrow
A raw mixture of sludge/doom and punk from Georgia, but they sound like a band you’d hear opening for Eyehategod or Crowbar in New Orleans.
90 Hour Of Penance – Sedition
Insane technical death metal, but unlike some bands who just wank it Necrophagist-style…they are more hellbent on speed than anything.
91 Unconscious Disturbance – Mind’s Corner
Creative progressive rock with a jazzy touch, as well as Human-era Chuck Schuldineresque vocals.
92 Antigama – Stop The Chaos
Straight up face-smashing, creative grind.
93 Acephalix – Deathless Master
Brutal old school death metal done the right way.
94 Aura Noir – Out To Die
Awesome mix of old school thrash and black metal. Very similar to Venom or Celtic Frost.
95 Tiamat – The Scarred People
An absolute classic from the old school progressive death metal band turned into semi-gothic doom metal stalwarts.
96 National Sunday Law – Festival Of The Horned God
Ridiculously crushing atmospheric doom. Nice, beautiful acoustic passages one minute, insanely heavy doom riffs crashing down the next.
97 Vaginal Bear Trap – Just The Tip
Incredibly catchy goregrind/death metal. Also, best band name ever.
98 Martyrdod – Paranoia
Blistering blackened crust punk/thrash.
99 Grave Disgrace – Grave Disgrace
Very obscure Russian sludge/stoner doom that I stumbled on randomly, but fell in love with.
100 Abigail Williams – Becoming
Surprisingly good, epic black metal. Definitely their best album.
When I was in high school, I listened to mostly rap and nu-metal until a friend let me borrow Ride The Lightning. But even after hearing one of the finest metal albums ever, I still wasn’t blown away by much metal I was hearing, and then I heard Living Sacrifice’s The Hammering Process and it changed my life completely. The reason I mention this, is because tonight in Monroe, La, the band Machina featuring Rocky Gray of Living Sacrifice, Phil Taylor of Future Leaders Of The World, and John Lecompt of Evanescence will be playing. They are currently being filmed for the show “The Making Of Rock Stars”, so I caught up with Rocky to find out more about the band themselves, the show, and what the future holds for him. You can check out Machina here, and find out more about the event here.
Your new band Machina features members from bands like Evanescence, Future Leaders Of The World and Living Sacrifice. How long has Machina been around, and how did you guys come together?
John, Thad and myself have been around each other for a very long time and Phil started hanging out in Little Rock and hooked up with John and it all kind of fell into place from there. Machina started in 2006.
You’re currently being followed on tour by a camera crew for the reality show “The Making Of Rockstars”. How did they go about choosing you guys to be the subjects of this show and what network will it be shown on?
We worked with someone who knew David, the shows producer, and they told David about us and we got together and discussed the show and we were into the idea and it was a go from there. It all happened pretty fast. Not sure of what network the show will land on yet. Maybe all of them. There’s a lot in the works in that area.
One of the purposes of the show is to highlight the ups and downs of the rock n’ roll life style. Have there been any particular moments that stand out in your mind, that give a realistic example of the life of a rock band in today’s unsteady music industry?
Oh yeah its very real. You’ll see busted up vans with no mufflers, the bands loading in their own gear and sometimes 20 people at the show. But the bands still go out there and make it happen cause it’s what we do.
As I mentioned earlier, you guys feature ex members of bands that have already had quite a bit of success. What made you choose this point in time to basically start from scratch and begin building up the legacy of a new band? Has it been weird at all having a camera crew follow your every move, or have you learned to embrace it?
We’re not really doing anything new. What we’re doing is what we’ve been doing for years we just have a camera crew taping it all now. Its not that weird to John and I, cause back in the Ev days there was a camera around most of the time so we’re pretty use to it.
Will each date of the tour have its own episode, or will all of the footage combine to make an entire season? Also, do you think that the hype of each show being filmed will have an effect on the size of the crowds for your shows on this tour?
There will be a season of the show with us. So far I don’t think the show has factored in too much on attendance but the more we’re out it may catch on a little more.
What can someone attending a show on this tour who’s never heard Machina before, expect to take away from your live performance?
All we can do is hope they were entertained by a really good rock band, maybe buy some merch and help spread the word.
As someone who’s played huge festivals and arena shows, as well as shows at dive bars and other smaller venues, which would you say you enjoy doing more?
I enjoy them all really.
Aside from being in Machina and focusing on this tour, you also own Deadest Designs, co-own Fader Recording Studio and play drums in Soul Embraced, We Are The Fallen and Fatal Thirteen. You’re also the lead guitarist in legendary metal band Living Sacrifice. How are you able to manage all of these projects without spreading yourself too thin?
Its normally not very hard to do everything but on occasion some projects will book things on top of the other and creates a little mess for me to work out, but I get it all lined out.
Speaking of Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced, will there be new albums coming from either of those bands in 2013?
LS and Soul Embraced will both have records out in 2013.
As someone who’s written quite a few awesome songs in his career, if you could go back in time and write any song ever, what would it be and why?
Maybe Back In Black by AC/DC. Its one of those iconic rock songs that has stood the test of time. Its one of the few rock songs you can say is a masterpiece.
In my last post, I reviewed a Prestor John live show and referred to them as “boogie rock” a term very fitting for their sound. I caught up with their guitarist/vocalist Jimmie Bryant a while back, and I wanted to know a little more about the history of the band, how production of their new record is going, and their plans for the future. You can check them out on Facebook and Reverb Nation. Prestor John are playing a show at Tsunami on November 20th with Machina, a band currently being filmed for a reality show called “The Making Of Rock Stars”, and they members of Future Leaders Of The World, Evanescence, and Living Sacrifice. Find out more about the show Here.
How long have you been playing music and what instruments do you play?
I have been playing since I was eight years old. I started playing the fiddle, and about two years into that, I realized that the fiddle sections were really big and there’s a lot of competition, so I switched to viola and I played for my school orchestras all throughout high school. That’s what I went to college for was music performance, I didn’t get my degree, but I was on the music performance track for viola. About six years ago, I picked up the guitar seriously and decided to give it a stab.
You used to play drums in Prestor John right?
Right, I also play the drums. That was really a lot more out of necessity, because we had a really difficult time finding somebody who was a good fit for us, and at the end of our struggles we decided to go with the two-piece for the sake of getting the songs we had written on stage and out for people to hear.
Prestor John has been involved in the Monroe music scene for quite a while, and in various incarnations. Who is currently involved in the current incarnation of the band?
It is myself on guitar and lead vocals, and occasionally on the fiddle, Mitch Lang aka “the stache” on bass and acoustic guitar, and Matt McDonald on drums. In the future, we may be having the return of Johnnie Hollis on lead guitar.
Do you incorporate the fiddle into your live performance?
We did initially in what I call Prestor John version 1.0, but now I don’t do it so much. It was pretty much because we were a two piece, and there weren’t enough hands for so long that I kind of got away from it, but I’m looking forward to reintroducing the fiddle into our live shows.
Is this the first time the band has had a bassist? If so, why did you choose now to add that to the sound?
This isn’t the first time we’ve had a bassist. We’ve toyed with the idea, and we played with a bassist on stage, but we never really stuck with it beyond a show. Mitch actually came to me and we got to talking about him possibly joining up, and I’ve always thought of the band being more than a two piece. Everything we did initially was out of necessity, because we weren’t happy with the people we were working with and trying to flesh out the sound with. I’ve always imagined the band being a four piece or being very Queens of the Stone Ageish, where they’ll perform with ten people on stage, but the band is only three dudes. Really it’s only Josh, but it’s the same dynamic I’m going for, to have a big diverse group of people.
You’re currently in the studio working on a new record, right? How has that been going so far?
Yeah, we are. It’s been going well. It’s always pretty stressful when you work with new people, and you don’t know how they’re going to interpret your material and mix everything down, but we went to Music City Studios in West Monroe, and Scott over there was amazing. He got us with an engineer who I felt was in touch with us, his name is Cody Codine Oliphant, and the first cuts feel pretty good. I’m looking forward to getting the whole shebang done.
When the album is finished, and you begin the cycle of distributing it, will you be doing so online through bandcamp, or are you trying to get a record label for it?
I’m of the new school when it comes to that, because record labels don’t serve the same purpose that they did twenty years ago, and with the development of the internet, a lot of their power is taken away in terms of distribution. Kids in China can download my songs right now. So, to me the real value in a label is their ability to promote you, and their ability to facilitate you on the road. I would love to be signed to a label, but only if it was the right situation, because between bandcamp and reverb nation, you can do everything yourself. You can go to the library of congress and copyright your songs. You can file for a business license and make a publishing company, you can do a lot of these things on your own, so I’m kind of not in any rush and open to both ways, whether it is through a label or totally internal is fine with me.
Are you going to be doing any hardcore touring in the future?
That’s the plan, but it’s important not to put the cart before the horse in terms of promotion and stuff. Right now we’re working on a college radio campaign to build awareness up, and give us a gauge of where we’re playing and where would be good to go and play. College radio is a really valuable tool to bands trying to make it, because students run it, and students decide what to play, so we’re really trying to work on tightening up and trying to be as professional as possible so big opportunities don’t pass us up.
So, if you were asked by someone who’s never heard your band, to describe your sound, what would you tell them?
I would tell them it’s like progressive blues. Grunge rocky at times, a garage rocky type thing at times, and very groovy.
Who are the people that inspired you the most to start playing music, or even the type of music that you’re doing right now?
I would say there’s one family in particular. The whole desert rock scene out west really influenced me and Johnnie Hollis–the other co-founder of the band–and they just left a mark on us, hearing the way they arrange their songs, the beats, the guitar tone and the family kind of spread out from there. All those bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal and Kyuss. Also bands like Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down and Rage against the Machine.
If you could pick any 3 bands to go on tour with, who would it be?
If we were in a perfect world, I would ask from the local scene, Gatorbait or Flea Circus. I was also thinking The Vidrines or Electric Sermon. If I could go on tour and open for anybodythough, it would have to be the Eagles of Death Metal or Arctic Monkeys.
If you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
I would say “Song for the Dead” by Queens of the Stone Age.
With the weather here in Louisiana getting much colder, it means that it’s the time of year when really awesome shows happen. For my latest jaunt on the town, I went to Tsunami to see local favorites Prestor John, and The Rusty Shacklefords from Bossier City, La.
When I arrived at the venue, the first person I saw was the guitarist of The Rusty Shacklefords and he caught my attention immediately, sporting a cool Megadeth shirt. Being a huge Megadeth fan, I was instantly interested in hearing him play. Though they sounded nothing like Megadeth, The Rusty Shacklefords did present a fairly easy on the ears punk rock experience, one very conducive to drinking in a dive bar on a Friday night in a small town. Though they were pretty laid back rockabilly/punk, not unlike many punk bands you’ve heard before, that’s what also gave them a bit of a charm. Their music was quite catchy, and definitely got people moving. Also, during one of the songs where their bassist sang, they did remind me of The Pixies a bit, which is NOT a bad thing. They also did a pretty neat cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges. When The Rusty Shacklefords were done, Prestor John came on stage and dropped a funk bomb on everyone in a 20 ft radius.
Prestor John are a local favorite due to their unique band of “boogie rock”. They are a band that takes pride in playing catchy rock n’ roll done properly. For some time, they had been a two-piece, however, during this show, they introduced their new bassist Mitch Laing, formerly of The Heritage. Mitch has always been a very active and entertaining stage performer, particularly in his hardcore band The Heritage. In Prestor John, he unleashes the same kind of energy on-stage, but instead of feeling forced, it comes off 100% genuine and heart-felt. The founder and ringleader of Prestor John is a man named Jimmie Bryant. Jimmie is a music major, and has been kicking around the Monroe music scene for numerous years, he’s also the head sound guy at Tsunami. After talking more with Jimmie in an interview we did–which will be posted soon enough–I discovered he and I have very similar taste in music, particularly a love for the band Queens Of The Stone Age, and the entire desert rock genre. You can tell he’s a fan of QOTSA while watching him perform in Prestor John, but not in the way that they replicate them; in fact, Prestor John doesn’t sound much like QOTSA at all, however, Jimmie does understand the importance of making the audience want to shake their rumps to funky, bluesy, jazzy rock n’ roll, and that’s something he has a Ph.D in.
Overall, I definitely had fun at this show, and I’m glad to see Prestor John at full tilt. They are a band very unique, and important to the fabric of the Monroe music scene, and I look forward to seeing them again. In fact, they’ll be playing at Tsunami on November 20th with local band Eight Feet Thick and Machina, a band from Little Rock, Ar featuring Phil Taylor (Future Leaders Of The World), John Lecompt (Evanescence), and (one of my favorite musicians) Rocky Gray of Living Sacrifice and Soul Embraced. Come check it out if you’re in the area!
There aren’t many bands that I like so much, that I celebrate their entire discographies. One of those bands, however, is Deftones. They are a band I’ve loved since high school, and every one of their albums is special to me for one reason or another. There is one person I know who enjoys them more than me, however, he is my friend Brandon Griffin. He is also the singer of a local Deftones cover band called White Pony, who will hopefully be having shows again soon. Please enjoy his review of the new Deftones record, and if you want to submit reviews for my site, please contact me on Facebook.
Deftones “Koi No Yokan”
By Brandon Griffin
Deftones return after the release of 2010′s Diamond Eyes with their seventh studio album, entitled Koi No Yokan. An entry into their catalog that is a departure from their previous efforts, yet somehow familiar; redefining the band itself and the genre. It is quite evident now that this band has no intentions of stopping or looking back; only evolving and moving forward. It’s the band’s second album with fill-in bassist Sergio Vega. The album’s Japanese title is unlike the sense of “love at first sight”; rather Koi No Yokan refers to “the sense of meeting someone for the first time, and knowing that the two of you will fall in love eventually.”
That being said, right out the gate Koi kicks off with the bouncy “Swerve City” as Chino croons “She breaks her horses, with distant voices.. that travel through the air!” As Stephen hammers away with a rolling riff that has your head nodding immediately. This track is the best opener the band has presented us with since “Feiticeira” from White Pony. In the haunting track “Romantic Dreams”; we hear the band experiment with unique song structure, deep layers, and odd-time signatures. Moving all throughout the album, the band demonstrates their heavy nature with tracks such as “Poltergeist”, “Gauze”, & “Goon Squad” which are all relentlessly aggressive, and down right raw & dirty. Then songs such as “Entombed”, “Tempest”, & “Rosemary” are simply gorgeous, murky, warm, and full of emotion. These songs show the Deftones in a new light and that they are very versatile in their song writing.
Koi No Yokan is simply an evolutionary step in their ever growing sound. Sonically this album is brilliant. Frank Delgado’s synth creeps through while Stephen’s 8-string pounds away, and Chino’s vocals sound better than ever before. It’s hard to compare one Deftones album to another, they’re all unique in their own way; yet they are still Deftones. Does that make sense? This is a band that has some how, in their 24 year career, managed to stay relatively away from the mainstream; but yet consistently crank out great solid albums and keep a massively dedicated fan-base. This one is to no exception.
Dare I say Koi No Yokan may be the band’s most cohesive piece of work to date. It is lush, haunting, beautiful, angry, melodic, and heavy in all of the right places. Koi No Yokan flows gracefully from one track to the next, unrelentingly; until it all comes full circle with the soothing closer “What Happened to You?”. A beautiful tune that really smooths everything out, like a peaceful shoreline. This is Deftones’ atmospheric magnum opus. There’s definitely something for everyone on this album. I feel that Koi No Yokan will pull you in; whether you’re a new fan, old, or first time listener.
There is nothing that soothes the soul more than a good road trip. After a super stressful week, my friend and I headed up to Downtown Music in Little Rock, Ar for one of the best hardcore tours of the year.
After driving 3 hours and listening to bands like Unleashed, Terrorizer and Bolt Thrower we arrived to the venue, and I was shocked at how many people were lined up outside already. I made my way inside and bought Converge’s new album on cassette and shortly thereafter Kvelertak kicked the night off with a sonic boom.
Kvelertak are a six-piece hardcore/black metal/punk band from Norway. I had listened to their album a couple of times, but didn’t know much of their music. All four guitarists (3 guitar/1 bass) were absolutely full of energy, and though you could tell not many folks knew them, they won over a few fans on the night for sure.
When Kvelertak finished, Torche took the stage. Though this is the third time I’ve seen Torche this year, this was the first time they played through a legit P.A. and the difference was obvious…that sucker was nuclear. Setlist-wise, they played a pretty straightforward Torche set. It included plenty of songs from their new album Harmonicraft like “Letting Go”, “Kicking”, “Reverse Inverted” and “In Pieces”. They also played a few choice cuts from Meanderthal like “Piranha” and “Sandstorm”. They also played my two favorite songs “Charge Of The Brown Recluse” and “Tarpit Carnivore”, along with a couple of new songs on a split coming out soon. In my opinion, there aren’t many bands in the metal scene these days that are as fun live as Torche is. Though I’ve seen them a few other times, this was definitely my favorite Torche show for sure.
Once Torche finished, Converge took the stage and it was time to party. I’ve waited at least 8 years to see this band live, so seeing Jake Bann0n, Nate Newton and Kurt Ballou on stage and Ben Koller hunkered down behind his kit, I got super excited. My excitement hit the breaking point when they started their set with the Jane Doe opener “Concubine”. Next, they played “Dark Horse” from 2009′s masterpiece “Axe To Fall”, then “Heartless” from You Fail Me. From there, they launched through a bunch of songs from the new album All We Love We Leave Behind, as well as Axe To Fall, and a few more from You Fail Me and Jane Doe. For me, the highlights of the set were “Eagles Become Vultures”, “Aimless Arrow”, “Sadness Comes Home”, “Empty On The Inside”, and Jane Doe’s “The Broken Vow”. After blasting away through both new and old classics, they ended the set with “First Light/Last Light” from You Fail Me. By this point, I was in shock at just how truly incredible these guys are live. Ben Koller was the one I was most impressed with, however, his drumming definitely sets a blistering pace, and Kurt Ballou and Nate Newton didn’t miss a single note, while Jake Bannon prowled like a starving lion in a petting zoo. In fact, I figured Converge would sound kind of raw live, but somehow their songs, particularly the newer songs, sound almost identical live as they do on recording.
Overall, I’m very glad I made this trip because Torche are one of my favorite live bands and Converge put on an absolute clinic, and were just as amazing as I had hoped they would be.