Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve heard that thrash metal giant and God of the underworld Jeff Hanneman passed away at the tender age of 49 last week, due to liver failure. It was a sad and tragic day for the metal brethren who prefer to remember him like this….
As a life long metalhead, I feel it is not only my duty but a privilege to pay my respects to the shredder I have admired for years. So lets all throw some horns and give a HAIL SATAN to the master and a middle finger to Westboro Baptist church and listen to some SLAAAAAYYYYYEEEEEERRRRR! Jeff Hanneman, may you rest in peace. \m/
After being on hiatus for over ten years, Ohio’s own Funeral Pyre has returned, with a new lineup and a vengeance. Not to be confused with California’s melodic black metal act The Funeral Pyre, Funeral Pyre (originally Funepyre) started off as a black metal side project of the Cleveland death metal band Decrepit. The band has paired up with Ohio label, Dismal Records and is back in the studio recording.
Prior to reforming in 2012, the band released three demos. There is a definitive rawness to the first three demos that makes one think of first wave black metal giving birth to the second wave. There is a fine line between plain bad production and kvlt production. Funeral Pyre was teetering that narrow plank with the sound quality of the first three demos but upon reformation last year the production quality has improved immensely. While the sound quality remains kvlt, it seems the band understood the issue with the production since the 2012 release is a compilation of older tracks, rerecorded with the better sound quality.
Despite being an American band, the resonance is more reminiscent of Norway’s distinctive sound and Australia’s raw war metal atmosphere as the compilation is a bit of an amalgamation of Tsjuder and Blood Fire Death era Bathory with the melody of Taake and the rawness of early Destroyer 666. The band captures that late eighties/early nineties atmosphere well on tracks like I am the Black Priest, In Scorn Defeat and Beheaded at the Alter. Overall the compilation is a quality listen and I highly recommend it. We should expect new material from the band in the near future but until then join me in the fiery pits of Hell with Funeral Pyre. Happy Listening! Hails!
Continuing my tribute to Cleveland metal I bring you C-town death/thrash legends Soulless. Blustering through Cleveland’s metal clubs and pubs with pure metal imperium since 1997, the band has released four full length LP’s to date, including the 1999 debut, The Darkening of Days, 2002’s Agony’s Lament, 2007’s Forever Defiant and the latest release from World Chaos Productions, In Death’s Grip. Not only is Soulless continuously recording original material, they also have appeared on several tribute albums such as Armageddon- A Tribute to Destruction, Overload II- A tribute to Metallica and Hellbent for Metal- A Tribute to Judas Priest, just to name a few.
The band has been known to tour relentlessly, opening for such acts as Nile, Macabre and Cleveland’s own Nunslaughter. The hard work has paid off as Soulless has developed quite the diehard, cult following amongst the local circuit. Soulless only continues to please the diehards with their 2013 release, In Death’s Grip by not veering far from the sound that we fell in love with in ’97. More of a thrash album than a death metal one, In Death’s Grip showcases blistering solos, anthemic choruses and catchy riffs and even epic interludes. From beginning to end the album flows nicely without a dull moment. Tracks like It Ends Tonight and Bury the Cross show tremendous growth in the musicianship of the band featuring masterfully crafted, almost progressive soloing.
Soulless stays true to their roots by covering Cleveland thrash pioneers, Destructor. The album is a must-have for thrashers and death metallers alike. As usual I will let you be the judge. Below is the sixth track off of In Death’s Grip, Bury the Cross. The full album is available for free streaming on Bandcamp as well. I’ve posted a link below. Happy Listening! Hails!
Since I started this blog, I have wanted to do a tribute to Cleveland metal. Being a Cleveland native myself, I am no stranger to the greatness that is Cleveland’s music scene, despite its being the home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The first Cleveland band I will pay homage to is the ruthless, Black/Death metal act Blood Coven.
Formed in 1993 by Dann Saladin, Blood Coven is a force to be reckoned with, terrorizing Cleveland with brutal live performances and intense new releases. Despite forming in ’93 the band only has three full length releases to date, Ashes of Autumn Burning, Battle Cult Empire and 2012’s Of Blood and Battle. The newest full length album seems to be re-mastered versions of earlier tracks compiled onto one merciless and beautifully crafted LP. The band maintains it’s distinctive sound, never watering down their unique blend of Black and Death metal for the mainstream masses. What sets Blood Coven apart form so many other Black/Death acts is their range in vocals (from shrieks to growls) and stunningly melodic, clean soloing.
While so many bands have forgotten the art of soloing, Blood Coven celebrates it, featuring a beautifully rendered solo on every track. The guitars range from melodic unmuted tones to heavy distortion and in true Black/Death adulation, the lyrics are heavily Anti-Christian. Tracks like Ashes of an Autumn Burning, An Angel’s Rage and Bloodwrath, grip the listener into a dark world of unadulterated pain, to no protestation.
The band has suffered a slew of lineup changes over the years and is currently looking for a rhythm guitarist. I am confident, however, that Blood Coven will find a guitarist soon. Until then, I welcome you into the bowels of Hell itself with Blood Coven. Happy Listening! Hails!
Everyone once in awhile it is necessary to go above ground for some much needed fresh air. My lungs have had their fill, however and I have plummeted deeper than ever into the very core of the underground to bring you Gestalte, black metal savages, hailing from the Netherlands. There is nothing quite like traditional, no frills, raw black metal and Gestalte continues to carry black metal’s message of evil.
Gestalte, (pronounced guh-stawlt) means a unified whole in Old German. Clearly the band has extracted their name from esoteric doctrine as the lyrics indicate a deep fascination with the occult and high ceremonial magic. The band formed back in 2009 and is soon to release their first, self-titled LP under small indie label, Heidens Hart Records. The demo is spellbinding and highly evocative of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas era Mayhem. The vocals range from high shrieks to low, Atilla-like, vibrations and the guitars maintain a hypnotic repetitiveness, definitive of atmospheric black metal. The production is shoddy yet listenable, in true kvlt fashion and the blast beats invariably attack the listener.
The band has been having some troubles with their bassist Wraak, which has lead to a delay in the release of their LP. We can only hope the issues are soon resolved. Overall, the demo drew me in and I have no criticisms. As usual, I will let you be the judge of that. Below is my favorite track off their self-titled demo, Pazuzu (Winged King of Desert Spirits). Happy Listening! Hails!
I wouldn’t normally attend a “concert” at a big commercial venue, preferring instead the intimacy of small shows held at metal pubs and DIY clubs, however, there are those instances when the lineup is so impressive attendance is absolutely imperative. The Metal Alliance Tour was an absolute Thrash-stravaganza featuring Municipal Waste, Exodus and “big four” legends Anthrax on the same bill. Bloody Hell! To much dismay the concert was held at the House of Blues, a dreadfully disappointing venue for a metal show, equipped with waify cocktail waitresses, overly priced beverages and bathroom attendants. Upon entering my friend and I were wanded, stamped and purse searched only to enter the club and immediately be assaulted with the sight of a snack bar. Who the hell orders nachos at a metal show? Not only will they be ridiculously overpriced but they will inevitably taste like bland topping-less poo.
Go to Perkins after the show like the rest of the civilized world. Not only was there a snack bar, there were advertisements on the big screen and lotions in lieu of graffiti in the bathroom. It was commercial hell but with good purpose.
The first band up was Pasedena, California’s heavy/power act Holy Grail. With a solid live performance, flawless and intricate guitar work and a stereotypical “Power Metal” presence (complete with gauntlets and flowing manes) Holy Grail delivered the goods. The success of such bands as 3 inches of blood and Dragonforce has bought about a resurgence of Power Metal and rightfully so. Holy Grail is enjoying great success as a result. If you haven’t heard of Holy Grail before they are definitely worth giving a second look. Check out their latest full length release from Nuclear Blast, Ride the Void for good, old-fashioned, Maiden-esque Power Metal!
Holy Grail kicked ass. Unfortunately for me the next band on the bill was not what I expected. I was under the impression that High on Fire was supposed to be playing, not because I dreamt it up or am delusional but because of this misleading “official” tour poster…
Dirty liars, the next band up were Metalcore veterans Shadows Fall. Gahhhh! Why is it that whenever you go to see a quintessential metal band there’s always at least one “core” opener that you have to endure, or in my case ignore while perusing through the merchandise tables, smoking cigarettes, and making small talk with the opening bands, until the set is over? James explained to me that the reason High on Fire was not playing was because they had to drop the Metal Alliance Tour to finish their own European tour. While completely understandable, it did not make the reality of Shadows Fall onstage disappear. I kept pondering what horrors might reside clandestine within Brian Fair’s ridiculous dreadlocks.
Tough guy chest pounding and squatting, three cord riffs played in drop D, and poorly delivered screams followed by whiny, sing-song choruses about relationships and politics (uhgg just sing about the devil) are the backbone of Shadows Fall’s distinctive sound. Still the band never fails to deliver a good performance to their audience, which is most likely the reason they’ve achieved such great commercial success. Here is a live version of the title track from the latest release Fire from the Sky for anyone interested.
Just like all good things must come to an end, so too the bad. Municipal Waste was scheduled to hit the stage next and I was not going to miss it. One of the better New Wave Thrash/Crossover bands among many, The Waste put on a great performance, playing everything from classics like The Terror Shark, Headbanger Face-Rip and Beer Pressure, to fierce new tracks like You’re Cut Off. Rowdy and tongue in cheek, Waste vocalist Tony Foresta joked with the audience and ingeniously fired up the crowd, having expectations of inciting no less than a full on heavy metal vomit party. The Waste generated a full-fledged pit with crowd surfing, blood and sweat. Beautiful. Witness for yourself the metal party prowess and masterful musicianship of Municipal Waste as they perform the classic, Mind Eraser.
While Municipal Waste did not fail to “Fuck Me Up!” things would only get better from here as Exodus would soon hit the stage to bludgeon the crowd with pure Bay Area Thrash. A sea of black, denim and leather-clad Hellions chanted EXODUS! at the top of their lungs in anticipation. The lights grew dim and the melodic acoustic intro to The Ballad of Leonard and Charles began emanating from the loud speakers. The crowd’s hunger grew as Gary Holt hit the stage, shredding to perfection. The set list was ingenious, including songs such as Fabulous Disaster and Blackened and no one was left wanting for Paul Baloff as Rob Dukes flawlessly belted out classics, Lesson in Violence and (with the help of Holy Grail vocalist, James Paul Luna) Bonded by Blood.
Exodus further engaged the audience with theatrics as a blast of confetti spewed from the stage at the end of Bonded by Blood classic, Strike of the Beast. Forming huge circle pits and crowd surfing, the audience was riled up. The band fittingly concluded their set with Good Riddance from the 2010 release Exhibit B: The Human Condition. The conclusion was followed by the band’s gifting of guitar picks, drum sticks and set lists to the crowd. I managed to procure a set list. A brilliant performance as usual from thrash metal legends Exodus. Here is a glimpse of what you may have missed. The band is in San Francisco performing my favorite Exodus song Lesson in Violence.
And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The climax of the evening, Anthrax was set to hit the stage. Performing the essential Anthrax album Among the Living in its entirety, Joey Belladonna took the stage belting out the title track to perfection. Before they could begin Caught in the Mosh, Frank Bello lost sound and Scott Ian roared with conviction “You guys are too metal for this club!”. Damn straight! The crowd cheered in unanimous agreement. Anthrax really knows how to get a crowd going and aside from the fact that Scott Ian has sold his soul to VH1 (Satan is pissed) good showmanship, impeccable performance and catchy anthemic licks have marked Anthrax’s success.
Playing side one from the 1987 LP, then taking a short break from the album to play AC/DC cover TNT and Grammy nominated track I’m Alive, the band broke up the set nicely. Joey beckoned audience participation during the classic track Indians and everyone went wild. As a precursor to the encores Joey handed out slices of pizza to crowd. I’m sure whoever snatched those up enjoyed the most metal slice of pizza they will ever eat. He then proceeded to raise him arms and shout “CAN YOU DIG IT!”, a quote from the cult classic The Warriors. I felt the urge to shout back “CAN YOU COUNT SUCKAS!” but remained silent in the realization that I may have been the only one picking up on the reference.
Scott Ian asked for a “moment of rage” in honor of the victims of the tragedy in Boston before the second encore. The whole crowd roared, enraged. The band concluded the set with I am the Man to everyone’s approval and began tossing guitar picks and drum sticks into an enthusiastic crowd. They ended the show by bowing in appreciation of proverbial diehard fans. To give you a snip-it of what you might have missed here is Anthrax performing Indians in Anaheim, California.
Overall The Metal Alliance Tour is worth catching if the metal masters haven’t already invaded your town. It dripped with showmanship, flawless performances, circle pits and Thrash Metal Hell. It’s a must see event for thrashers, well worth the 40 dollar cover charge. Hails!
After listening to this band’s recent EP Individuation I was left pondering the notion that liking this band might just qualify me as a hipster, but I have neither a trust fund or a Tumblr account so I believe I am in the clear. The experimental trio formed in Iowa back in 2010 and has released two EP’s to date, Invariable and Individuation.
Progressive and sludgy with hints of ambiance, Individuation is a treat for both math rock geeks and more adventurous music enthusiasts, personifying experimental post-metal excellence. The success of post-metal bands like ISIS or Forest of Stars ensures the genre is here to stay and Blizzard at Sea are riding the coattails of this obscure genre. While the harsh vocals were a bit weak, at times sounding a bit “core” or nu metal, I was quite impressed with the clean vocals on the 2011 EP Invariable, as well as the masterfully timed progressive changeups that define the sound of the band.
Evoking images of wormholes and vortexes with lyrical themes touching on topics like Fringe Science and Metaphysics, Blizzard at Sea is sure to appeal to a more intelligent audience. Overall the band is solid and (despite being a bit of an ISIS rip-off) will most likely enjoy a promising career but I will let you listen for yourself. I welcome you to enjoy the first track off Individuation, Accelerating Returns. Happy Listening. Hails!