Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico-No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens

DiWulf Publishing

Authored by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico, "No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens" is a (recently-released) book covering the history of New Jersey's unheralded music venue, City Gardens. As someone though who has amassed quite the collection of post-punk and alternative rock encyclopedias, history books, reference sources and even pocket companions, and (incidental) someone who actually lived through the time period this covers (eighties to nineties), I will say that whether or not you were at all familiar with the (should have been legendary!) City Gardens is of little to no concern when it comes to this exhaustive novel. For "No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes" makes you see City Gardens as if it could have been any club in any city. Or rather your favorite club in your local town! And even if it wasn't your club, authors Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico make you feel as if you are right there, right in the heart of the action as they have crafted a work of art in regards to an era that many of us will always hold firm to and consider to be the defining moment in the history of punk, hardcore and heavy metal! Working your way through the pages of this book you find yourself transported back to a time when music was exploding and the scene, both national and local, held endless possibilities and there was always some new sound to discover! As far as actual coverage of this well-loved and highly-respected club is concerned the book is broken down into different time periods even if the sentiment is all the same! Through interviews with a who's who of the alternative rock, punk rock and hardcore scene (as well as club workers and club goers!) we're given insight into a live venue which hosted some absolutely amazing talent during it's run! And yes it wasn't just about post-punk rockers and slam-dancing hardcore kids as this was a club which never discriminated (music-wise). Whether it was the punk and hardcore scene, heavy metal or hip-hop, pop-rock or reggae it was all fair game and treated equally! And in the confines of this book it's all entertainment as you read about a club which would go on to become the life-blood of New Jersey. No spoilers of course, as this one should be read in the comfort of one's own home (suggestively-speaking) with a glass of wine for maximum enjoyment, but the huge array of interviews (from the Butthole Surfers to Black Flag) and personal memories from shows (everyone from the Lords Of The New Church to the Circle Jerks played there and man alive, what I wouldn't have given to have seen both!) is just crazy making "No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens" another book that I will be adding to my personal collection  as soon as humanly possibly! This is one book which deserves special mention and should hold a special spot in any self-respecting collection of music-related material. With that I say kudos to Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico for what amounts to a well-researched and highly-informative book and one which I have no reservations whatsoever about recommending!

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Obliterator-For Those About To Die...


Clocking in at just under twenty minutes in length, "For Those About To Die..." is the five-track debut-release from Spain's Obliterator.  Active since 2011, this four-piece is fronted by bass player Sergio and should not be confused with the Portugal act of the same name (or for that matter the two similarly-named bands from here in the U.S.!). What this Spanish band might lack in experience they more then make up for with their charisma and sincere enthusiasm as they thrash the living daylights out of all things "peace and quiet" with some tasty, (raw) Slayer-inspired metal! On "For Those About To Die..." it's all about the fury as these guys prove that they can more than hold their own while they hold you down by the neck and pummel with you with kind of aggressive thrash that was all the rage back in the day! You can (and should!) listen to each one of this EP's tracks on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuxwfneieyTj2kM8F2JEGeg) and you can also check out the band's official video of "Steel Rain" here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzR_dFNX4h0). Recommended for old-school thrashers and metal maniacs everywhere!

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Pÿlon-Homo Homini Lupus

Roxx Records

Now in their 12th year together, with (current) vocalist/guitarist Matt Brand and (former) drummer Tinu Christen having first hand-crafted the band's firm foundation together back in 2002, Switzerland’s Pÿlon are now on album number six with the excellent "Homo Homini Lupus". Still (in spite of such an impressive back-catalog which also features two splits with Painwork and My Silent Wake) it was only last year's "The Harrowing Of Hell" (initially released in 2012 on vinyl and in 2013 on CD as a collaborative effort between Roxx Records and Quam Libet Records) that served as my introduction to Pÿlon and their classic take on doom metal. Ever since that divinely inspired moment I've found myself at the mercy of this band's well-honed style and crafty delivery! On "The Harrowing Of Hell" (which, if you are not at all familiar with, you can discover by way of my 2013 review posted below!) the band, now featuring a line-up of vocalist/guitarist Matt Brand, guitarist Oliver Schneider (Mink Security), bass guitarist Reto Hardmeier (Punish, ex-Aliengates) and drummer Beni Mayer, perfectly balanced original content with a creative re-imaging of the well-known Black Sabbath number, "Paranoid". On "Homo Homini Lupus" (an album that marks another turning point for this Swish collective!) the band once more blends original content with a unique cover track. This time around the band truly surprises the listener with their take on Slayer's "South of Heaven"! Featuring guest musician Tim Gaines (Stryper) on bass, "South of Heaven", or (if you will) this band's choice to cover such a classic thrash number,  finally answers a question that I have pondered since I first bought Slayer's fourth album back in 1989 or 1990*. That question was "What would it sound like to have a Christian metal act cover a song that features such strong apocalyptic imagery?". Well, now I know. It sounds AMAZING! But, here's the real deal about this album. The original material here is absolutely incredible! As briefly touched upon above, "Homo Homini Lupus" moves the band into new territories previously only hinted at on "The Harrowing Of Hell" with the original compositions "Crowned", "Al-Hahar" (featuring a verse in Modern Hebrew!) and the album's first single, "Saligia", which can be previewed here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-xWNxdKLiQ), taking doom in a direction quite similar to a certain Malta-based outfit. And incidentally that particular band donated the use of their lead singer for this upcoming full-length endeavor from Pÿlon! That's right, I'm talking about another one of my favorite doom bands in Nomad Son and on "Homo Homini Lupus" the vocal talents of Jordan Cutajar are put to good use with each and everyone of the original compositions here coming across as nothing short of brilliant! All six of Pÿlon new tracks are exquisite in their own right, blending doom rock and doom metal fundamentals with clever arrangements and intelligent, thought-provoking/soul searching lyrics, but with the addition of Nomad Son's hugely talented Jordan Cutajar such numbers (especially the later half of the new tracks like "Saligia", "Is se donnent du mal", "Crucifer" and "The Curse of Eden") take on a life of their own making "Homo Homini Lupus" an absolute must for doom connoisseurs! Prior to this posting I actually mentioned to the fine folks at Roxx Records how heavenly I found this release as that's how griping Pÿlon's latest is! Obviously the Nomad Son connection and the Slayer cover alone will draw in plenty of curious onlookers, but as a whole this really is masterful work! If only I could share more with you, but sadly you'll just have to wait until June to experience it for yourself. As a final note there is a special package available to the first 100 pre-orders of this exception album. For a limited time all pre-orders (well, at least the first 100!) will come with an exclusive lithograph hand signed by all of the members of Pÿlon! Not only is that a neat idea, but it will most assuredly become a sought-after collector's item down the road! Why wait then? Find out more at:  www.roxxproductions.com

Link to Pÿlon "The Harrowing Of Hell" review:

* My memory fades as I grow older and I no longer remember exactly what year it was that I first bought this album on cassette tape.

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Monday, April 28, 2014


Napalm Records

Having checked over my old posts it seems the closet that I have ever come to Germany's Xandria was when I covered Wolfpakk's self-titled album. And that was only because that particular pet project featured Xandria's (now former) bass guitarist, Nils Middelhauve! From the looks of it Xandria has a long list of former members. And with "Sacrificium" this female-fronted symphonic metal act has new members in place so the line-up changes continue. All of which makes it ever more amazing that the group's latest is as sound as it is! That's not to say that I'm suddenly a huge fan of all of this. Symphonic metal has always been a bit hit or miss with me. Still, I'm going to call it as I see it and on "Sacrificium" this band sounds blessed to have tapped a new vocalist like Dianne van Giersbergen (Ex-Libris)! Whether she is a step forward or a step back from what the group had I honestly do not know as this really and truly is my first taste of Xandria. That in and of itself is kind of sad seeing as this outfit has been around (in one form or another) since 1997 when Marco Heubaum (vocals, guitar, keyboards) first assembled the project! Since then the group has released their fair share of demos, singles and even a compilation along with this release, the group's sixth overall full-length studio album! Straight to the point, what I like about this album is how "Sacrificium", despite being awash in symphonic moments, maintains a metal edge. Even if it is a bit too keyboard cluttered for my taste the album has a clear cut appreciation for actual heavy metal and when you combine that with the powerful vocal delivery of Dianne van Giersbergen it ends up being a nice match. What I didn't like about the album (besides the over-use of keyboards) is how it sometimes seemed a bit too fancy for it's own good. It wasn't enough to turn me off, but that (the over-glamorous/glittery nature of such a genre) can be the downside of symphonic metal. Not for all, but when you find yourself sitting on the fence about such a style of metal it can be the deciding deal breaker. If I had to grade it I'd likely toss out a B- or an B+ although I can't quite decide if I'm being too generous or not generous enough? For simplicity sake, symphonic metal aficionados should gel with an album like this one while the traditional heavy metal crowd most likely would have a  momentary shrug of the shoulders followed by a "OK..." response.

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Helms Alee-Sleepwalking Sailors

Sargent House

It's all been one big lie friends. Ignorance is most assuredly not bliss. You'd have a hard time convincing me otherwise as I tragically unaware of Seattle, Washington's Helms Alee (bassist/vocalist Dana James, guitarist/vocalist Ben Verellen and drummer/vocalist Hozoji Matheson-Margullis) until only just recently. And with "Sleepwalking Sailors", the third full-length album from a band that has had a long history of releasing EPs and splits since only 2007, this is true bliss. As such, how can one claim to experience a feeling of bliss outside of the sounds of Helms Alee? That is a troubling question and one which may never be answered in a satisfactory fashion. Thankfully we can all move on and treat this as a learning experience. For those no sense in drowning in our tears about what could have been, time we might have spent in the comfort of this unheralded trio with shared vocals, female and male, when we can now embrace the expansive collection of textures and sounds that make up this featured full-length attraction! Blessed with an uncanny ability to maneuver emotional material over a vast and ever-expansive sonic landscape, which (somehow) is atmospheric without actually transcending into some sort of  "atmospheric" rock and/or metal sound, the members of Helms Alee carefully mask their own roots/personal desires so that the music at hand beautifully meshes, note for note, into one perfect creation! And that's exactly what amazes me most about "Sleepwalking Sailors". It's truly something how Helms Alee (playfully) goes about stretching rock's boundaries, covering everything from stoner rock, post-grunge, alternative rock and math metal to indie rock, post-punk and even doom metal(!), in a (seemingly) carefree fashion and yet, upon further investigation (over repeated listens which is an essential component of the whole "Sleepwalking Sailors" experience!), the material present on this Seattle rock band's latest is not just technically-sound, but in reality expertly-constructed in order to get the most out of every moment! To say that I was blown away by this recording would be a understatement as "Sleepwalking Sailors" is superb in just about every way that you can imagine! From production to content it's easily to see that everything about this band's third album has been touched up and tweaked. Even so, "Sleepwalking Sailors", is colorful and personal. Helms Alee has graciously extended an offer for each and every listener, one that encourages you to walk alongside this trio as they explore a world of creativity and imagination where anything and everything is possible! I would encourage each and everyone of you who reads this piece to join Helms Alee on this journey of discovery. It's well worth the time. You can find out more about Helms Alee on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HelmsAlee) while you can hear this remarkable recording for yourself right here:


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Free Metal Monday: Iron Regan-Spoiled Identity


This Monday's freebie is not so much "metal" per say. Or at least not on this (Richmond-based) band's latest 13-track release, "Spoiled Identity". As some of you may recall Iron Regan, whose 2013 full-length debut album, "Worse Than Dead", I covered last year (http://metalmark.blogspot.com/search?q=iron+reagan), is a side-project featuring members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour. While the band's debut-album was (thrash-tinged) crossover (sounding not at all unlike a punk/hardcore version of Municipal Waste) "Spoiled Identity" drops a lot of the more metal moments and instead focuses on straight-up hardcore punk. With this "Name Your Price" download, which will also be available as a flexi 7" through Decibel Magazine, the band speeds through 13 tracks in under five minutes! While the title cut clocks in at a minute and four seconds the majority of these "songs" run the length of twenty seconds or so! Mind you some of these "songs" are just sample clips, but still it's all good in the hood as this is one of those records that you could blast in it's entirety before your neighbors would even have time to call 911 to complain about the noise! Now that's cool!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Doppelgänger-God is a lie


"I'm Alex, guitar player with the heavy metal band Lonewolf (https://www.facebook.com/lonewolfdivision). Here is the other project I've joined and I'm playing in: My Doppelgänger". Thus began the e-mail from Alex Hilbert inquiring as to whether or not Heavy Metal Time Machine took submissions from unsigned acts. Of course the answer to that question has been and will always be a resounding "Yes!" with any and all small print as to the matter (if there actually was any!) simply stating "All submissions (from pop rock to black metal!) are welcome whether you are signed or unsigned"! With that, Alex went on to say that the band's sound (unlike the more traditional, power metal leanings of Lonewolf)  is like "Guns N' Roses meeting Metallica with a touch of Lynyrd Skynyrd and with a kind of Hellhamer on the drums ! No musical boundaries , but still very metal...". And from that point on I was off and running, downloading the album and plugging myself into the (D.I.Y.) concept album that is "God is a lie" (http://mydoppelganger.bandcamp.com/album/god-is-a-lie). What's it all about you might ask? Well, straight from their mouth to this page: "The album is meant to describe the degeneracy of a being, lost in a world he can only feel through its violence and its perversion. The unequal fight between the conscious man and his baleful double will bring him to the end of a life that was eventually sauntering on the sinuous road of insanity". Not to far-fetched if you ask me as one only need look out his window to see the truth in it all. But, heavy-message aside, this French is more then words. For this newish (as in 2012 or so from the sounds of things) French band has planted it's roots down deep into rich soil from where their various influences and inspirations* can sprout up and fully blossom! With "God is a lie" the band, gracefully lead by singer Will (or a French James Hetfield disguised in "rock and roll" sheep's clothing!), takes nothing for granted as the whole project, from "the recordings the mix and mastering (with Powerwolf's guitar player in "Studio Greywolf" Germany) to the 16 pages booklet", might look and sound professional, but it is indeed a 100%  D.I.Y. affair. And it's that same sense of self-assured passion that moves these musicians involved and has resulted in a genuine rock record! Sure as the air we breath there's a metal essence to this French collective and there's a real blues mindset to be found within some of the song-construction that appears on "God is a lie". Even so, as you slowly pull away from this album and reflect on the overall riches that it possesses, it's rock, real rock and roll (even classic rock friends) that you end up taking with you. But, don't take my word for it as each and everyone of you is certainly sensible enough to stream this album and take from it what you will. Just remember though that it's not enough to just have ears. No, you have to learn to really listen. And an album like this deserves one's full listening ability so that all of it's riches can be yours! For more on My Doppelgänger be sure to head over to the group's Facebbok page here: https://www.facebook.com/my.doppleganger.official

*For My Doppelgänger it's not just about the obligatory "metal" role models (Metallica, Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses, etc.) as the likes of Uriah Heep, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Mark Knopfler, The Rolling Stones and Blackfoot are referenced as well! And yes, it does show in the band's blues-based, hard rock/heavy metal approach to riff-happy rock!

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SadDoLLs-Grave Party

Inverse Records

By now we should all know the sort of trouble that you can get into when you make assumptions. The same can be said about expectations (as I soon enough came to grasp with "Grave Party") so anything that you might think you know about SadDoLLs should be promptly and properly disposed of. Move past the name (one that conjures up any number of would-be eighties hair metal revivalist bands) and the absurd nature (really outright oddity!) that is this album's artwork, which is something that (frankly-speaking) suggests (design-wise) a mash-up of Poison and Megadeth (with some Merciful Fate/King Diamond touches?) and just let your mind go black. Got that? Are you ready then? Good, for "Grave Party", which is actually just the latest work from this Greek band who first set foot on the scene with the (self-released) 2007 demo EP, "Dead In The Dollhouse", is not hair metal, hard rock or even heavy metal. Instead it's the current sound of an electronic/industrial (alternative) act from Athens, Greece and one, that for all the marbles in the world friends, makes me envision Depeche Mode, God IS LSD and Ministry making over some blank slate of a nineties rock band for their own nefarious reasons! And that's not some sort of  dismissive compliant, but rather it's a complement to the hard fought nature of this Greek band and their technologically-enhanced stab at rock music! Truth be told, the bio spells it all out as "Darkwave Metal". The difference between the two being, or at the very least as I hear it with these long-used ears of mine, "Grave Party" is less about metal (as a general rule and/or a blueprint) and more about the creative energy which flows between the natural (traditional instruments) and the artificial (studio tricks) in a heavy rock setting. So those looking for that "metallic sound-scape" might just be let down whereas those individuals seeking electronic music with a "rock edge" would likely really enjoy this album. As an introduction to the band it sat well with me and, in regards to it's overall direction,  I found it motivating from the standpoint that it is, more or less, an electronic product. As such it get's high marks in my book.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Riot Acts-Walk Where You Struggle


As someone who has long embraced the concept of a "well-balanced diet", or at least as it pertains to what I listen to over the course of any particular 24-hour period, I made it a goal early one to try everything at the buffet. That of course means that friends and comrades, in a never ending state of well-meaning affection and appreciation of my "unique" tastes, often times drop the names of random bands in my lap with the usual "Hey, check this band out!" tag boldly proclaimed in the e-mail title. As of late I seem to be running hot and cold when it comes to such "suggestions" although (thankfully) Riot Acts proved to be a case where said suggestion was spot on! With this just-released EP, so fresh in fact that it still has that new car smell (!),  Markham/Stouffville-based Riot Acts continues to showcase the overabundance of talent that comes from our friends to the North. It also ends up further proving the merits of melodic hardcore for those few select individuals who still believe that those two terms should never be applied together! With a line-up that includes Tim Hoar and Matt Locicero on guitars and vocals and a rhythm section of Brahm Van Zeeland & Bryan Klotz (bass and drums respectively) this young (at least as far as how long they've been together as it sounds as if they all bring experience to this 5-track release) act is fairly relentless on opener "What's Left After Taxes" up to and including EP closer, "Bar Fight". And it's that sense of urgent uprising that smashes the senses all the more making the aptly-titled "Walk Where You Struggle" highly worth investing in! With that said I encourage even more suggestions as this life our ours is far too short to keep good music to yourself!   


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Miracle Master-Tattooed Woman

GoldenCore Records/ZYX Music

Truthfully this one peaked my interest based solely on the album artwork. Does that reflect poorly on me? Or is it my admission that there is just something about a beautiful woman with tattoos and a smoking gun that will be my undoing? Granted, none of that is at all relevant to the music at hand. Even if I do have to hand it to these Danish/German rockers when it comes to their talent! Yes, it's Friday so that means bad puns aplenty, but when your week has been spent fighting household germs and dealing with your own sickness and that of a child what more do you want? Well, how about rather stealthy hard rock and roll that borders on (sleazy/hair) heavy metal? Formed out of the ashes of Pump (yeah, you got me as I've never heard of the lot either even if they did release three albums during their time alive!) Miracle Master features lead vocalist Oliver Weers (ex-Oliver Weers Band, Ripe, D.I.M), guitarists Marcel 'Selly' Bernhardt (ex-Pump, Tales Of Sorrow, Unfroynd) &  Axel 'Aki' Reissmann (ex- Pump, Hazy Shade, Downspirit), bassist Michael Vetter (ex-Pump, Chinchilla, Watch Me Bleed)  and drummer Andreas Minich (ex-Pump). With "Tattooed Woman", which was released at the start of March, we're generally talking about music that should appeal to those of us who were old enough to appreciate this sort of thing the first time around (read: late eighties/early nineties). Even if it's nothing that's going to rock the world with any sort of originality it's at least a collection of tracks that are catchy and fairly enjoyable in their own right. If I could pinpoint the sound I would, but honestly twenty or so years now of hard rock, hair metal, sleaze metal and pop metal has made it all blur together in my mind so I'll leave such duties to those who follow this kind of thing and nothing else. Otherwise I'd expect this lot to be heading towards those hard rock festivals that seem to pop up every summer or so in the mid-west. That would seem about right....

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Interview with Hamilton, Ontario's Hey Clown

Hey Clown in all it's glory!

Back on April 15th I covered Hey Clown's new self-titled EP (http://metalmark.blogspot.com/2014/04/hey-clown-hey-clown.html). Now I am honored to present an interview with this very cool, Hamilton, Ontario-based five-piece. For those not in the know, Hey Clown, who have been active now for 13 plus years(!), play a hair-raising blend of hard rock, hardcore and heavy metal that is instantly addictive and downright desirable in this day and age where false metal bands like Pop Evil  (sadly) get all the press. Unlike those kinds of gawd-awful acts Hey Clown's vibe is real and their music, incl. the new (free-digital download) EP, is rewarding! I want to thank the band for taking the time to chat with us and and I would encourage each and everyone of you to download the EP and spread the word about this hard-hitting five-piece! As always it is up to each and everyone of us, whether you consider yourself to be a casual listener of heavy metal, a real fan of the genre and it's various offspring or (like me!) a total FANATIC, to keep the scene alive! And we do that by supporting underground and indie acts WHEREVER they might be found! We do it by sharing band's like this with fellow heavy metal brothers and sisters and by going to shows and spreading the love! We're all one family so support each other and show bands like Hey Clown that they are appreciated and that we've got their backs through thick and thin! Right? Right! OK, enough of my soapbox preaching for the day. Here's the interview so read on and enjoy!

Andy-Thank you guys for taking the time to talk with us. Let's start with the band name and history shall we? Could you give our readers a rundown on both please?

Dave (Hey Clown' bassist)- I was sitting in a local coffee shop, as we did quite often back then, and it just came to me...Hey Clown! It had a certain ring to it. There's no real meaning behind the name....it just sounds cool. The band started out being myself, Cody Morris and Mike Haines. We were just a band that jammed in someones basement until Toui Manikhouth joined. He was the missing piece at the time. We quickly became a pretty serious band (in our eyes) playing all over Ontario and even down to the states. Since day one though, the one thing that Hey Clown always lacked was that ever so crucial front man. We got by and had an absolute blast doing it. I would not have changed anything about it. These were some of the best times of our lives. Eventually life events got in the way for Mike and he decided that he needed to move on and leave the band.  After that the band kinda stopped playing. We maybe played a show a year just because it was fun to do. Several years down the road Andrew Rous joined the band. He has been a good friend of all of ours for quite some time so it worked out perfectly. He already knew the songs so everything came quite naturally. We ended up playing a couple of shows instrumentally with Rous and then Andrew Shaw came into our lives. We couldn't have asked for a better front man. He is everything Hey Clown has ever wanted and has exceeded expectations. We feel very lucky to have him.

Andy-Whose who these days in Hey Clown? 

Hey Clown-
Toui Manikhouth - Guitar
Dave Pettigrew - Bass
Andrew Rous - Guitar
Cody Morris - Drums
Andrew Shaw - Vocals
Andy- Talk to us about your new lead singer would you. You spent some 13 years looking for that last piece of the puzzle correct?

Toui - I went to college with Andrew and through similar interests and good vibes we became friends very quickly.  I always knew he had a very musical background; we were both involved in our own musical endeavors while we were in school and I saw him perform a couple of times.  At this point we (Hey Clown) had already gone through about 3 vocalists and Mike decided to take on a lot of the responsibilities of fronting our band vocally.  Time went by, we didn't play too many shows, and inevitably Mike left the band completely.  We needed somebody who would bring something completely unique that would compliment what we did with our instruments, somebody who was smart with their delivery vocally and lyrically, and more so just understood what were trying to do musically. We definitely got some offers from people to fill that position, but in the end it was when Mr. Shaw came into the picture with his genuine talent and background, we all knew right from the start he could potentially be our guy.  He started jamming with us in the summer of '13 but it was the start of 2014 when he officially joined and when we started to buckle ourselves down as a 5 piece to start working on our material.  It took him only 3-4 solid practices with us before we realized that what he brought to the table was exactly what we were looking for and within 2 months, he exceeded every expectation that we had for someone to take that role.  His work ethic was awesome and just how quickly he picked up on everything and how it sounded when everything all started coming together, it was surreal. The transition has been seamless and an absolute pleasure to have him play with us so far and I can't see him not being a part of what we're doing. As far as I'm concerned if it took us 13+ years to get to this point, then it was definitely worth the wait.
New lead singer Andrew Shaw attacking the mic!

Andy-Other then being "loud" how would you best describe the band's sound to those who have never had the pleasure of hearing you?

Andrew Rous- It's always hard when asked "what kind of music do you play?" I always default to "heavy".  While "Metal" or "Heavy Metal" don't necessarily qualify, it's also not hardcore or punk really.  But there's elements of all of those in there.  We have an aggressive sound. Loud and heavy.  Aggressive Heavy Rock would be my best shot at formalizing it.
Andy-Name game time. List your influences if you would.

Hey Clown-Sepultura, Refused, Slipknot, Deftones, Hum, Dillinger Escape Plan, Everytime I Die, Chore, Shallow North Dakota, Fiftywatthead, Kittens, Soulfy, Metallica, Iron Maiden, just to name a few, and that's just the heavy stuff.
Andy-Who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with?

Toui-We've played with a lot of great independent bands but the ones that stand out for me are: Shallow North Dakota, Pureblank, Chore, Keelhaul, Fiftywatthead

Andy-What's a typical live show like for Hey Clown?

Andrew R.-It's a whole new creature now.  We just played our first show with Shaw this past week.  It was a whole new dynamic and we loved every minute of it.  He brought an energy that was missing before.  I can't wait for our upcoming shows because I know it's only going to get better and more comfortable.  It's a different show completely and I think people are going to dig it.

Andrew S.-Imagine a hydrogen bomb going off…then add a couple of high profile assassinations, mixed with random dance moves and a black hole.

Cody-A typical show for us is pretty sweaty and loud. We tend to be pretty high energy. It's hard not to be high energy when the wonderful people watching us are as well. With the addition of Andrew Shaw on the mic we hope to engage an uncontrollable energy out of our listeners.
Hey Clown tearing shit up!

Andy-You've been around for a long time now, but this EP looks as if it's you're first real recording output. Is that correct?

 Toui- This EP will technically be our 2nd release.  We put out a 3 song EP close to 10 years ago that was recorded by Chris Bell (Chore).  I think I can speak for all of us when I say that was our first real recording experience individually.  It was recorded on a digital 8 track at Dave's parents house in Dunnville, On.  We were pretty young back then and didn't really take the whole recording process as seriously and meticulously as we do now.  One of the songs that was on our first record (The Gardiner) we changed up and re-recorded for our new EP.  We also contributed a track called "Heavy Metal Vomit Party" to a compilation disc called Steel City Music about 8 years ago, and it primarily showcased a lot of great independent artists from Hamilton.  This new EP is a fresh start for us and an introduction to what's coming.  We have tons of material and now that we've solidified an official line up, we can finally start thinking about putting out records.

Andrew R.-This was my first recording with Hey Clown, and my first real recording session of anything.  It all went incredibly smoothly and I really enjoyed it to be honest.  I've been a close friend of the band since it's creation, and its great fun being involved with the band now.  But Mike was a great guitar player and songwriter so I had big shoes to fill.  These recording sessions sort of felt like a proving ground for me and everything went great and we are all really  happy with how the EP came out.  So I guess I'm safe...for now.

Andy-The EP was produced by Steve Haines right? How did that come about? 

 Toui-Steve Haines is actually Mike's (our old guitarist/vocalist) cousin.   He's a seasoned veteran in the Hamilton music scene and we've had the pleasure of playing with his bands a few times over the years.  He started to get into tracking and producing a while ago, and ran into Dave and Rous at local guitar shop and offered his services to us when we were ready to record.  One thing lead to another and he ended up doing these 3 songs for us over the course of a year.  He genuinely believes in us and he proved it by spending so much of his time on this tiny record.  

 Andy-So far Hey Clown has only released digital material. Are there any plans for physical releases down the road? Will there be other merchandise for fans to secure? 

Toui-Digital is much easier to put out and spread more quickly nowadays - which is what we wanted initially.  We've already started talking about our next record, which we will definitely release physically day one.  

 Andrew R.-We hope to have shirts and stickers or something real soon.  The music was just easier to release digitally and for free at this point.  We just want people to give us a listen and hopefully come back for more when we can get a tangible record released.  It's funny that in this digital age, as much as everyone downloads, you can't escape that need for the album in your hands.  I know that's generally how we all feel, so we are extremely motivated to get something pressed and in people's hands, and on their shelves.

Andy-That's really how I feel. I've got nothing against digital material (esp. seeing as that's primarily what I review on a day to day basis), but there's just something about the feel of a physical release whether we're talking about CDs, cassettes or (my ideal format!) vinyl! But anyway, on your bandcamp page it says that Andrew Shaw wrote the lyrics for the music. That sure sounds like it was a quick transaction from new member to head writer and then into studio! Was it really all that quick or am I just making it sound like it was?

 Toui-We started recording this EP before Andrew officially became a member; once he joined, he was aware that there were 2 songs ready for him to record, whenever he was good to go.  Not only that, but he also had a catalog of 17+ songs to learn.  As opposed to rushing things like we've done in the past, I wanted to make sure that we did it right this time - especially because I knew that we had something special with Shaw now in the mix.  We took our time with it, and so did he but everything progressed at much faster rate then we all originally anticipated.  I would send him a couple of mixes here and there for him, just to use as reference and he sent them back a couple of days later with vocal takes he did at home and a set of lyrics.  When it came time to practice, he already had material that he worked on prior because of the recordings and was ready to go.  His work ethic is insane and attributes to what we've been able to accomplish and why we've come so far in such little time.  The dynamic was right, our songs sounded completely fresh, we were a new band and we had a record out - from the ground up, all in about 10 practices.  
Andy-And speaking of Andrew, what's his background? By the sound of his vocal delivery this doesn't sound as if it's his first rodeo!

Andrew S-This is actually the first time I've been in such an "Aggressive" band. Growing up, I have always played in more alt-rock bands. I've always been influenced by Radiohead, Patrick Watson, Broken Social Scene, Etc. HEY CLOWN has become a completely new canvas. It feels fresh and alive, loud and catchy, a 
whole new experience, which brings out the best in what I would like to say to an audience. We all mesh so well. The veterans with the new blood. 

Andy-I could agree more! So, where can our readers find out more about Hey Clown?

Toui - The easiest place right now is our FB page.  We update it quite frequently. https://www.facebook.com/heyclownband

Andrew R- Come to our shows!  Talk to us! This is the best way to experience Hey Clown and I would recommend it to anyone.  But also visit our Facebook, Twitter, and Bandcamp pages. 

Andy-That might prove difficult for me though seeing as I'm in Ohio! But man alive, if I could make I would make it for sure as your sound is killer! Given that, has there been any label interest shown so far? I would think that your brand of metal would have a lot of appeal!

Toui-No label interest so far.  We just focus on what we're doing right now and we don't take any help offered to us for granted.  That's the important thing. We're very appreciative of the smaller things people do for us whether it's making the trek to our shows, taking pictures, saying nice things to us, etc.  Music is a very tough market to get into and it's the smallest actions that can potentially reverberate the most.
Andy-That's a shame (the no label interest part). Hopefully that will change though as the word gets out about your band. With that said, any famous last words? 

Toui-Be nice to each other.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Words Of Farewell-The Black Wild Yonder

AFM Records

As just one of many CDs that I received in the mail last Friday (April 18th to be exact with a special thanks to Dustin Hardman for the well-stocked package of goodies!) "The Black Wild Yonder" has thus far proven to be one of the better surprises. Maybe I wasn't expecting a lot out of this German collective, but that would be of no fault of their own. "Words Of Farewell", who have been on the scene since 2006 or so, are melodic death metal done right. Perhaps it is just that that term, "melodic death metal", is every-present and over-used? Or maybe it's just that there are so many newcomers in this field that it has blinded me to the fact that there are still elegant acts out, with a foothold planted firmly in the greats of the past thank you very much(!), that are doing much more then simply riding out the current fad trends? Whatever the case I owe this lot an apology and the aforementioned explanation. For "The Black Wild Yonder" is a release which you could easily use to set aside as a standard of the field and that is a good thing. A very good thing indeed! Take away the obvious, melodic passages executed with precision and written in such a manor as to flow and peak at all the right moments, and you're still left to witness a band that has marvelous "metal" aspect to their overall sound. That probably sounds as if it should be a given, but for this German lot there is a clever balance point in play between the two extremes. The melodic side of Words Of Farewell is clearly meant to appear as good as it gets (and it does so as careful consideration was obviously given to each and every line present within the band's sophomore output and, to that end, Leo Wichmann 's keyboard passages are exquisite!), but one thing that is even more enjoyable to discover (so I implore you to do just that!) is that when the band-mates concentrate on the heaviness factor of their sound it's turned upside-down/inside-out with only the BEST of the BEST leads (something guitarist Erik Gaßmus should be awarded for!) having been chosen. One could try to pin-point the rock elements in this band's overall direction on "The Black Yonder", but it's better to just point out that it is there as opposed to where it came from! Rock-based construction is nothing new in this day and age of course. For Words Of Farewell they may not be the innovators, but they've taken such a concept as far as it can be taken while still maintaining a healthy metallic  approach to their delivery. Everyone plays their part here perfectly (up to and including vocalist Nicolas Alexander Otto) so there's never an uncomfortable component to Words Of Farewell. There's never a lull in the action either as this German collective carefully moves it's peaces across the chess board paying special attention to what comes next. Beautifully-constructed and perfectly-delivered,  "The Black Wild Yonder" has made me a believer when it comes to Words Of Farewell. Even though I walked into this performance with no clue as to what to aspect I walked out of it with all of the elements dancing around in my head! With it's admirable rock and roll song construction, admission of classic heavy metal's influence in lead guitar work, moving keyboard passages and careful attention paid towards the past and present elements of melodic death metal "The Black Wild Yonder" is an absolute must-have addition to metal collections! There's nothing more to it then that! 

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DRUKNROLL-Точка Кипения (Boiling Point)

Metal Scrap Records

"Точка Кипения" is the official title of this Russian act's latest (their third overall full-length output since forming in 2006) with the translation being "Boiling Point". Between that piece of information and the fact that this is all in Russian then you should have a general idea about what this four-piece is offering (at least lyric-wise). It also serves as a bit of a head's up/warning that if you can't get past the language barrier that some releases come packed with then you should turn back now. For everyone else who has stuck around then let me just say that with this one (due for release here in the states in July from the looks of it) you get pretty much everything on the menu ad then some! And that's just in the first five tracks mind you! We start off with something akin to modern metal on "Злоба" ("Rage") before our attention is quickly turned towards the melodic rock/hard rock of  "Моя звезда"("My Star"). That in and of itself was odd (especially as that second track there features acoustic passages and all!), but then track three cuts in and it's heavy rock/thrash n' roll meets death metal with more then a few quirky time-changes to make you question just what the hell is going on with this bunch! Keep in mind the fact that you're but a third of the way through  "Точка Кипения" ("Boiling Point") and there are still seven tracks to go! And pretty much that's how it goes with this one. In-between this odd mash-up of progressive power metal and heavy thrash, with vocalist Alexandr "Horror" (Svartstorm, ex-Князь Тьмы) splitting his time between a hard rock style of delivery and a death metal growl(!), "Во власти глубины" ("In the Power of Depth") throws weird sound effects at you (apparently from the hands of lead guitarist Alexey "Alex Knip" Khuzhaev)  while challenging your ideas of what can and does pass for "modern metal" here in 2014! All of which brings up a good point about DRUKNROLL's latest. Is it by definition "modern metal"? Or is this band just extremely experimental in it's approach to music? Would you label this one adventurous or write it off as being far too schizophrenic for it's own good? The truth is I don't quite know. Some of ideas here are clearly clever and the combination of heavy metal/thrash metal and keyboards & sound-effects actually works. But there are other times when it's all a system overload and it's almost as if the band had one too many wild ideas for just one simple song and would have been better suited flushing these ideas out over several songs. If I was to grade it we'd be looking at a B- or maybe even a B. That's clearly not enough to recommend "Точка Кипения" ("Boiling Point") to everyone so this one would be better saved for those who are looking for something different and off the grid.

Russian titles:
1. Злоба 05:00  
2. Моя звезда 04:35  
3. Самурай 04:36  
4. Во власти глубины 04:46  
5. Оборона Севастополя 06:01  
6. Белая смерть 05:29  
7. Десятая ночь 04:33  
8. Игра с огнём 05:06  
9. Бог морей 05:15  
10. Насыщение 04:44  
Title translations:
"Boiling Point"
1. Rage
2. My Star
3. Samurai
4. In the Power of Depth
5. Defense of Sevastopol
6. White Death
7. Tenth Night
8. Playing with Fire
9. Sea God
10. Saturation 

 Special thanks to the Metal Archives for providing the track listing and subsequent translation.  

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Noble Beast-Noble Beast


Recently signed to their local label, Tridroid Records, Saint Paul, Minnesota act Noble Beast has been active since 2007 with a 2010 demo having preceded this, their self-titled debut-album. Lead up front by guitarist Sir Robert (whose voice, while a little rugged at times, does a commendable job of capturing the essence of this traditional heavy metal/power-metal band) and with influences running the gamut  from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden to Kreator and Emperor, Tridroid Records' latest signing is striving to hit that perfect peak and damn if they don't achieve it right out of the gate with "Noble Beast"! The first thing you're likely to notice about this quartet is how capable they are at writing memorable material. Numbers like (opener) "Iron-Clad Angels" and (personal fave!) "The Dragon Reborn" (which can be streamed at the bandcamp link below) contain so many hooks that it's almost impossible for them not to snag hold of something and pull you right in! Credit should go to fellow guitarist Matt Hodsdon (Chaos Frame, ex-Matt Hodsdon, ex-Epicurean) as, together with Sir Robert, he creates an atmosphere of epic metal proportions! The lead work of a number such as "We Burn" (which you can also stream below!) finds Noble Beast galloping into territory previously inhabited by the likes of Blind Guardian, Helloween and Iron Savior! With a stud bassist like Drew Sutphen now along for the ride and with the drum duties having been split up between Jamie Strobach and David Thames, "Noble Beast" ends up being an all-killer/no-filler CD! Guests such as John Yelland (Disforia, Judicator) and George Eliassen (Shadowdance, ex-Cipher) stop by to lend a hand with backing vocals throughout this ten-track album while the song "Disintegrating Force" alone includes harsh vocals from Aaron Lott (Australis, Chaos Frame, Cold Colours, ex-Enshrined, ex-Golgotha's Pyre, ex-Sinis, ex-Solace of Requiem (live), ex-Swatara) and a wicked guitar solo from Kevin Alter of Deretla and Invidiosus fame! And it's these guests, and what they each individually contribute (as far as style choices and their own distinct influences), that turn an A project into an A+ one! Whether you're a fan of Iron Maiden/Judas Priest/Dio-infused power metal, the likes of Helloween and Blind Guardian or even more progressive-leaning acts likes Symphony X and Kamelot this Saint Paul act has something to offer making "Noble Beast" a highly recommend release!


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Monday, April 21, 2014


AFM Records

 Featuring within it's ranks two members of Blind Guardian, Marcus Siepen (guitars) and Frederik Ehmke (drums), and having originally gone by the name of Neoshine (with an EP, "With a Neoshine", surfacing in 2005 and a demo, "III", appearing in 2007) Germany's Sinbreed are now on album number two with the exceptional "Shadows". With the band's guitarist/keyboardist Flo Laurin sitting in the producer's chair and producer Markus Teske (Symphony X, Vanden Plas, Neal Morse, Saga and many more) once more taking care of the mixing and mastering aspects of "Shadows" just like he did on the group's (well-received) 2010 debut-album, "When Worlds Collide", "Shadows" ends up as an early 2014 favorite in the field of European-styled melodic power metal/speed metal! With a line-up that also includes former Neoshine member Alexander Schulz on bass and the (spotlight-stealing) Herbie Langhans (Beyond the Bridge, ex-Seventh Avenue, ex-The Preachers, ex-Neoshine) on vocals Sinbreed, in an effort to put some real space between themselves and the rest of melodic power metal/speed metal scene, marches their way through album number two with cuts such as (opener) "Bleed" ("Shadows" first single), the sweeping "Call To Arms" and "Leaving The Road" staking a claim early on that this one will be epic!  Pardon the pun, but closer "Standing Tall" stands tall with it's power metal take on Iron Maiden and even as the band speeds things up on the likes of  "Far Too Long" and "London Moon" they never lose focus on task at hand, creating melodic metal masterpieces! Sinbreed's ability to write catchy numbers along the likes of  "Call To Arms", "Bleed" and "Far Too Long" is head's above the competition and given the stylistic differences offered on numbers like the majestic "Reborn" and the aggressive "Black Death" ( a monster of a cut, "Black Death" is by far the heaviest and most "extreme" number on this disc and it just BOOKS it's way right down the middle of the road!) it's hard not to be pleased by this band's obvious quest towards balance and perfection. Sinbreed has all it takes to be the voice of a new generation of melodic power metal/speed metal bands. That's of course if their voice can end up being heard more frequently then it has been. After all four years between albums is a real long stretch! Based on what's going on with "Shadows" might it just be that the time has come for all involved to push this act to the forefront? One could make that argument and I most certainly would!

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Free Metal Monday: Lilith-Bloom


Now signed to 6131 Records (http://6131records.com/site/), and with an upcoming tour in support of this 5-track demo EP being talked about, self-proclaimed "feminist doom punk" Lilith hail from Phoenix, Arizona with the 14-minute "Bloom" serving notice that five-piece is here and that they have no plans of going anywhere anytime soon! The two minute plus "Wolves' Den" serves as Lilith's introduction to the scene at hand (or dare we even say the world!) with lead vocalist Sarah M. demanding the listener's attention as she urgently tackles issues still facing modern day women in a (sadly far too dominated by hard-nosed males who remain misogynists even in this day and age) scene that should be way more tolerating then it is! That's not the only topic that Sarah (with a refreshing with an air of honesty!) takes head on (she also touches on bigotry), but it's obvious by the passion and power in her voice and in her delivery that such issues drive her and her devotion. And why shouldn't they? We are talking about 2014 after all and by now we really should have moved beyond such BS as to whether or not women should have a place in punk, hardcore and metal! Unfortunately there's still work to be done and, with an all-male backing band providing the relevant noise* that's needed for her to deliver these (all too important) message at hand, Sarah rallies the troops on "Bloom" making this 5-track EP more of a battle cry then anything else! Hardcore/punk fanatics (as well as those that love doom-laden "alternative" projects) would be well advised to check "Bloom" out as this 14-minute monster of an EP is a one-punch KNOCK-OUT blow to today's male-dominated scene! It offers up a  real fury of a soundtrack to go with it's sincere message that change is needed and it's needed now! One can tell that for Lilith (Sarah, guitarists Andre R. and Samad A., bassist Mike H. and drummer Make H.) there's so much more to be said even with "Bloom" being as good as it is! In fact it comes across as just the beginning of this band's journey and if I was a betting man I'd throw it all down (every last cent!) that "Bloom" is just the start of what will be one remarkable career!

*"Bloom" is constructed from jagged pieces/parts of old-school/classic punk rock and (street-fighting) hardcore with ample amounts of post-Pentagram doom added into the mix so that the maximum amount of damage possible can be achieved with just one click of the word "Play"!


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Sunday, April 20, 2014

SODS Law-Rough Mix 3-Track Demo


Real and raw "we all bleed red" punk rock from Derby. Featuring  the vocal skills of Carl Lander with bass guitar performed by Luke Mcloughlin and guitars & drums (respectively) by the pair of Rich & James Burnett (Father and son perhaps? One would assume as much given the young looking drummer of this UK act!). Special thanks/shout-out to Stereo Killer for tipping me of to this free download (link below) which (warmly enough) reminds me of the old "basement days" when both the feedback and the fuzz was soaked up under the cover of lot's of (cheap beer) foam! All I've got in me to ask is this then. "Got any more mates?".


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Lions of the South-Chronicles of Aggression


U.S. metal act Lions of the South, which formed in 2008 and happens to hail from Florida (Miami), released this, their full-length debut album and only piece of recording to date, back on January 1st. Now Rock 'N' Growl Promotion has steeped in to handle the PR for this heavy metal/thrash metal trio and, having now streamed this LP two times over, it's not too hard to fathom why they've caught the attention of said promotion! This power trio, who might technically hail from Miami even if it's fairly clear to all involved that their roots can be traced all the way back to South America, features Cristobal Perez on lead vocals and guitars, Felipe Vilches on bass and Andres Nayar on drums and, thanks in no small part to the surprisingly clean, crisp and clear production job that has taken place on this self-released slab of metal, this up-and-coming three-piece is packed with promise! The likes of Sepultura, Megadeth, Pantera (and maybe even some Slayer?) has been soaked up by this trio from South Florida and then it's been chewed up and spit out in the most venomous of ways making "Chronicles of Aggression" a blistering collection of chunky HEAVINESS! Not short on talent, Lions of the South could easily make headway in today's scene if they can build on the success of this early 2014 thrash attack!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Zephaniah-Stories from the Book of Metal (2014 Re-Release)


Six years has passed since Indiana's Zephaniah first released "Stories from the Book of Metal". Recorded at JTW Recording Studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (with producer Joel Wanasek working side-by-side with Zephaniah on this unheralded gem!), "Stories from the Book of Metal" was the band's lone piece of studio work during their initial five year run (2005-2010). With the band now reformed and two new members, guitarist Tony Rudny (Beneath It All) and drummer Cody Johns (Viking, 80000 Dead), pairing up with the returning original members, (vocalist) Logan Detwiler (Valhalla), (guitarist) Justin Zych (Viking, Vindicator, Valhalla) and (former drummer turned bass guitarist?) Ian Bender (Beneath It All), Zephaniah can turn their attention towards their upcoming sophomore, "Reforged". That release should drop sometime later this year and it's worth repeating this little bit of information that has been making it's way around the net (especially for long-time fans of the group although even those who might be new to this Indiana-based band's distinct take on heavy metal would do well to jot this note down as it's bound to be a headbanging good time!). Per the promo material: 

"The band will triumphantly return to the stage to headline the USA's Warriors of Metal Fest VII from June 26-28, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio where the band will play their entire debut CD, "Stories from the Book of Metal" from start to finish."

That sounds like it would be an epic event given the overall strength present on Zephaniah's debut album! On any other day you could call this one straight-up power metal, but that tag would seem to fall short as there is much more to this release then initially meets the eye. Helped out by the stellar production, "Stories from the Book of Metal" features catchy melodies and fairly lethal lead solos that flirtatiously dance between speed metal and European-style power metal. On the one hand it's a somewhat smooth take on the genre (with Logan Detwiler's clean singing giving the band a bit more flash and class then what one might expect from a band of this particular field), but there's little chance of mistaking this album for anything but METAL, what with (amazing) drummer Ian Bender pounding the living daylights out of his drum set and all! Even more amazing is the fact that the bass playing of (the departed) Tyler Sumwalt is actually discernible(!) as that is something that is far too often for my tastes buried in the mix. and finally we are treated to some rather nice piano passages courteous of guest musician Adam Guingrich and it has to be said that the direction that the band took when it came to "Stories from the Book of Metal" is something to be admired. For comparisons sake you could look towards the likes of Hammerfal and Dragonforce as (quite honestly) those two names were thrown around long before I even was aware that this album would be getting a re-release. As source material goes both bands would seem legit although it has to be said that Zephaniah's debut album is colored in differently then those two bands making "Stories from the Book of Metal" a tastefully assembled piece of speed metal/power metal. It's also one that should most assuredly be added to ones' metal collection and it's an album that has me anticipating what this band can pull off on their 2nd full-length adventure!

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Thunder Lord-Heavy Metal Rage

Iron Shield Records

Chile's Thunder Lord (possessing one truly metallic moniker!) will have this, their (originally self-released back in 2012) sophomore output, re-released by Iron Shield Records at the tail end of this month. For fans of traditional heavy metal  we're talking about nearly 38 minutes of no-frills, straight to the heart of the matter, true metal with influences such as Running Wild, Grave Digger, Exciter, Iron Angel, Sodom, Living Death and Blind Guardian playing a huge part in this band's development. Since 2002 this Santiago-based outfit has been churning out their own brand of rough & ready heavy/power metal with a pair of demos (released in 2004 and 2005 respectively) having preceded their 2008 full-length debut album, "Hymns of Wraith in This Metal Age" (also self-released). That album was over an hour long(!) so this one could be viewed as a bit of a letdown in that department. But, only in that department friends. For you see, everything else about "Heavy Metal Rage" is golden. Semi-rough vocals of the metallic kind ride atop waves of club-worthy, down and dirty riffs that, with one eye closed in the darkly lite confines of an underground metal venue, could easily pass for music from the "good old days"! Sound's promising right? Well, it is! What works well for this lot (and thus this album) is their ability to transform those previously-mentioned influences into a rather nifty, (charmingly) rough around the edges, sound of their own that recalls many a great old band while effectively carrying itself in a proud manor that says "We are Thunder Lord. This is who we are. This is what we sound like and this is what we stand for. Love us or loath us it makes little difference to us as we will keep on cranking out the riffs OUR WAY!!!!". And personally I find myself loving the likes of Thunder Lord more and more as we find ourselves inundated with more and more generic rock and generic metal on a daily basis. This is true heavy metal/power metal with anything flashy or sparkly. There no keyboards or symphonic moments. There's nothing to suggest that this is anything but no-holds-bared heavy metal  by heavy metal fanatics for heavy metal fanatics. It's just meant to be enjoyed as is so do just that-enjoy it. I know I did and so will you!

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Interview with MUTANK's Stephen "Steve-out" Reynolds

Left to Right, Steven "Steve-in" Breen (Rhythm Guitar), Ahmed "On-Meds" Saad (Drums), Stephen "Steve-out" Reynolds (Bass and Vocals), Liam "Lee" Hinchey (Lead Guitar)

Having just reviewed MUTANK's latest release, "M.E.C.H. Metal", YESTERDAY (April 17th, 2014!) I managed to pull off an interview with the band's bassist/vocalist, Stephen "Steve-out" Reynolds! I have to give a huge shout out to Stephen for his prompt insanely quick response and I'd just like to say that I wish more musicians and/or bands were this responsive/approachable* and if you are looking for a up and coming band to throw some support behind then I highly recommend this Montreal four-piece! You can read my review of their speed metal/thrash metal-infused crossover album below (which I HIGHLY recommend to all metalheads!!!!!) and if MUTANK happens to play anywhere near you then by all means check this lot out! From the sounds of things you will not be disappointed as this act comes across as one which can and will back up the strength of their studio work on the live stage!


Andy (A)-Could you give us a brief run-down on whose who in MUTANK?

Stephen "Steve-out" Reynolds (SR)-First we got Steven "Steve-in" Breen. This motherfucker is a rhythm machine, always on point with his riffage so long as he's got a few wobbly pops in 'im. Most solid guitarist and solid dude I've ever played in a band with. He's the main proponent of any punk influence you hear in the tunes. He once punched his own dick because he got mad at it. 
Next up is Ahmed "On-Meds" Saad. He's been compared to late 80's Lars Ulrich which is fine by him as he's the biggest Metallica fan I know. He only really picked up drumming when we started the band and the progress he's made is indescribable, people often don't believe me when I tell them that because we only started this thing less than a year ago. He's the sober one and "secretly" wishes he were a guitarist.

Liam "Lee" Hinchey is a mean motherfucker who I have been playing in bands with for a long time. He shreds like Satan on a surfboard and doesn't take "slow" for an answer. He joined after the first album was written so expect some crazy shit of his to appear on the next offering. He's also in a death metal group called Crosstitution, be sure to check them out!

Lastly there is I, Stephen "Steve-out" Reynolds. I play bass and do vocals. My favorite pass times are playing frisbee, long walks on the beach and getting inebriated with MUTANK followed by puking up the contents of my stomach into a pentagram drawn on the floor and reading omens in the pizza chunks. Renowned sesquipedalianist, I write the lyrics and do a lot of the artwork too! 

There are a lot of other people who do a lot of shit for MUTANK that I wish I could mention here but I don't want the whole interview to be just this question so, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! TANK MU!
A-Certainly this won't be the first time (or for that matter likely the last LOL!) that you've been asked about the name, but let's get it out of the way first and foremost! What's in a name? Especially one as cool as MUTANK?

SR-MUTANK is a portmanteau of the words "mutant" and "tank". I came up with it while I was taking a dump at work. It's just got a ring to it, you know? I texted it to Steve-in along with a pile of other names and he mentioned it back to me a few days later and I was like "What the fuck is that?". The rest is history.

A-Give us a brief bio on MUTANK if you would please?
SR-It all started with me trying desperately to get in the band "Wetmetal" which contained my buddies Mike Molloy (former MUTANK guitarist) and Steve-in. The project was coming to an end so instead we started writing our own shit and began looking for a drummer. After trying out a few pretentious numb-skulls we found On-Meds (this was around April/May of 2013). Dude knew exactly where we were coming from with the tunes, and was very chill but professional. From there we started jamming flat out and things started to flow... and QUICK. After a couple of months we got offered a show we couldn't refuse, and, even though we didn't have a set, we said yes. We pushed ourselves to write what is now the first album just so we could play that show. Soon after Molloy decided to move away so we brought in our good buddy Lee who added to the insanity that was MUTANK with his unique play style (particularly his solos!). Since then it's been a roller-coaster ride from hell! Soon after our first show we rushed into the studio with our new guitarist and recorded "M.E.C.H. Metal". Currently we're just trying to stay alive and write our next album! 

A-"M.E.C.H. Metal" is just your latest and greatest correct?
SR-Well, if by "greatest" you mean "only" then yes. I'm personally very satisfied with everything about this album, along with the history and the process of making it. We've still got a lot of riffs on the back burner and a lot more shit to scream in peoples faces. All these factors combined mean you should have some new MUTANK jams to bash your skull to by the end of this year!

A-Any story behind the "M.E.C.H. Metal" title? 
SR-Well, M.E.C.H. Metal means "Middle East Coast Heavy Metal". Despite being based out of Montreal, our drummer is out of the Middle East and the rest of the members hail from the East Coast of Canada. We put em together and it sounded cool. Voila!

A-Fave tracks of the moments  from "M.E.C.H. Metal"?
SR-Jeez, that's a tough one. I think the track "MUTANK" is my favorite at the moment. Some of the songs on the record I wrote when I was much younger and some are brand new material. The song MUTANK is a good mix of these two styles with riffs stripped from songs I wrote when I was 16 mixed with some new stuff inspired directly by my buddies Mike Molloy and Steve-in. The lyrics are a resounding statement of discontent and disconnection from the general bullshit of everyday life that I think a lot of people can relate to. It's all summed up with a big "FUCK IT, WE'RE MUTANK". I'll give "Heavy Hand of the Doomsday Clock" honorable mention as I get goosebumps every time I hear it. 

A-Now, the album is epic, but what should people expect out of a live MUTANK show?
SR-A shit-ton of energy, pits, loudness, blood, fast fucking music, terrible jokes in between songs and a bunch of ugly dudes running around the stage like they're on PCP.

A-Who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with so far and who would be on your dream bill?

SR-We haven't got many big names under our belts, hopefully that changes soon. Our first show was with Lich King which was really fucking cool. I really hope we get to play with Municipal Waste at some point! Suicidal Tendencies would be another dream come true, one of the best live sets I've ever seen. Odd Future is another personal one, they have crazy pits and it would make for a really radical show. It's obvious to say "The Big Four" but honestly I hope those guys retire soon to make room for the new generation of scum-dumplings.

A-Any favorite shows so far that spring to mind?
SR-Days of our Lives.

A-LOL! OK, what's the one thing that MUTANK must have backstage at all of their shows?
SR-A backstage would be nice. After that, cold beer, warm beer and ice tea!

A-Changing gears some here, but from the sound of it you guys are fans of old school speed metal and thrash as well as crossover eh?

SR-We've all got very varied musical tastes but the place we are succinct is in regard to no-nonsense, l.a.f. in your face crossover-thrash metal. That being said, a lot of other influences work their way into songs in places you may not necessarily expect or notice. We're not happy just dong what our predecessors did and living up to the thrash stereotype, although we will always remain true to our thrash roots!

A-Verses time! Metallica vs. Megadeth. Who really slays the beast?
SR-Depends on the era and who in MUTANK you ask. I'm Megadeth all the way. They are the reason I play music, without Megadeth there would be no MUTANK, but the same could be said for Metallica.
A-OK then, D.R.I, C.O.C. or S.O.D? Who comes out on your top? Whose the best of the best?
SR-I would imagine the band would be united in saying "D.R.I.". Me and Steve-in are jamming that shit out constantly. I don't wanna say whose better or worse because that's hard to define and I don't usually like to pick favorites, but come on, where do you think "crossover" came from!?

A-Slayer or Anthrax?


SR-Seriously, this one is hard for me to decide. I would personally say Anthrax, but I know at least half the band if not all of them would go with Slayer. To each their own. I don't think it's such an easy comparison.

 A-If you could be on any tribute album whose would it be?
SR-Probably Suicidal Tendencies, if they ever get around to the suicide part. MUICIDAL! 

A-So true! Stephen, are there any other bands from your area that our readers should check out?
SR-Warsenal, Chemical Way, Powered by Death, Venomenon and the list goes on. The thrash scene here in Montreal is really growing, it's an exciting time!  Also, anyone into death metal should check out Lee's other band "Crosstitution"! 

A-Warsenal totally shreds! I'll have to check out the others though as I'm not familiar with the names. But anyway, let's say that MUTANK actually conquers the world. What now?

SR-Our music would probably turn to shit, seems to happen when any band becomes hugely successful. I would shave my head and sing about my "Dharma Eye" a lot, appoint an ostrich as the President of the United states, sleep in a garbage bag full of chicken fingers and pay terminally ill children to have fist fights for my entertainment. Honestly, I think no matter what happens I'll end up in a basement somewhere writing riffs without a dime to my name, no teeth in my head, and body-sized pillow as a wife.

A-Parting shots? I give you free use of the mic for good or bad! The last word is yours!
SR-Listen to MUTANK every day and tell 10 friends about MUTANK or you will get stampeded by rhinos! This shit happened to a buddy of mine just because he went on vacation with his metal hating girlfriend and didn't get his daily dose of MUTANK. Now he's in intensive care! Please, go download our "pay what you like" album M.E.C.H. Metal (mutankthrash.bandcamp.com) and be sure to donate hundreds of dollars to help pay for his hospital bills. Make sure to like us on Facebook (facebook.com/bonebrainsnotdemolishers) so you can get constant updates on his condition! Please direct any "get well soon" messages to mutankmail@gmail.com! MU TANK IT WON'T HAPPEN TO YOU! SO DID HE!

Review of the awesome "M.E.C.H. Metal":

*I will not name any names, but there a few bands that I've been trying like crazy just to figure out how to PAY FOR their album in order to review it with NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER! And I'm talking about dozens of inquests through messages on Facebook, postings on Facebook, etc. If that is how you treat people who want to buy your merchandise then that speaks volumes about your attitudes toward the listening public!

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