Wednesday, 29 July 2015

'BBQ’s and Spontaneous Combustion' - An Interview with Valley of the Sun



Valley of the Sun spent two weeks trekking across Europe before making the necessary stop in Tilburg, Holland’s own rock n’ roll hideout. At first sight, birthday boy and singer Ryan looked a little worse for wear but when he showed me the van they had been travelling in, it all made sense. He introduced me to a friendly Frenchman, Arnoud, who I learned was borrowed from The Dot Legacy and was a stand-in for this tour. Then Aaron, the drummer, grabbed a chair and rambled on about Creationists and a museum in Cincinnati where humans are depicted riding on the backs of dinosaurs. I was in good company that was for sure. Eventually we got down to the interview, which you can watch below. If you enjoy stories about touring, food, and making music then be sure to check out this video



Interview by: Victor Van Ommen

Camera: Casper Stokhuyzen

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Death Angel - 'A Thrashumentary' DVD (Review)


Media Type: DVD
Date Released: 24/7//2015
Label: Nuclear Blast

Death Angel is:

Mark Osegueda | (vocals)
Rob Cavestany | (guitar)
Ted Aguilar | (guitar)
Damien Sisson | (bass)
Will Carroll | (drums)

Review:

Being an avid appreciator of all things “making of” and “history of”, I jumped at the chance to review this- over two and a half hours of footage combining both those docu-genres. The first half of this engaging film covers Death Angel's history. Yes, they were very young when they started out and yes, the band was part of the second wave of Bay Area thrash so of course you get lots of their contemporaries as talking heads or cropping up in photos from the time. Each band member (as is now) are interviewed extensively and contribute interesting comments to their history and path through the somewhat murky and ever changing waters of the music industry. The spectre of This is Spinal Tap is never too far away but things never get all the way there as the band members come across as hard working and dedicated pros who often laugh at themselves and the business. Certainly, the band has overcome a lot, for example a horrendous bus crash which effectively curtailed their rise to the top- line up changes, industry changes and even complete dissolution. 



It is noted that it took Chuck Billy having cancer to bring them back together, but once reformed things were better than ever. At the heart of all this is the music, of course. Death Angel have made some cracking records (The Ultra Violence and Frolic through the Park are considered early classics) both early on and recently in their career (The Dream Calls For Blood is superb). The process of how they made ‘Relentless Retribution’ is the focus of the final part of the doc. Jason Suecof is the studio maestro capturing the musical magic while the band roll the songs out with new found enthusiasm due in part to a hungry new rhythm section.

For those with an interest in Death Angel, Bay Area thrash or musical history generally, then this is a must watch. You will be pleased to know that it's nothing like Some Kind of Monster, in that those involved come across well and as likeable down to earth guys. There is not a therapist or a sweater in sight. Much like the band's records, this is no frills; a metal documentary that does what is says on the tin. 

Words by: Richard Maw

‘A Thrashumentary’ is available here

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KLØTT - ‘KLØTT’ Demo (Review)



‘This is 6 tracks of filth. From start to finish, these tracks just drip with pond scum and reek of stale beer, weed smoke, piss and body odour.’

Album Type: Demo
Date Released: 21/07/2015
Label: Self Release

‘KLØTT’ DD track listing:

1). Black Sun
2). Lost in Smoke/Found in Death
3). Anvil
4). Chosen of the Slain
5). In The Gaze
6). Blistered

Review:

Hull sludge/grind/crust/hardcore upstarts and Hull Noise Collective affiliates KLØTT have just released their demo on Bandcamp in a "pay what you want" deal, which is what the D.I.Y scene should be all about. These guys maybe young but what they lack in experience they make up in exuberant intensity.

This is 6 tracks of filth. From start to finish, these tracks just drip with pond scum and reek of stale beer, weed smoke, piss and body odour. 'Lost In Smoke/Found In Death' is a personal favourite with its tempo shifts as is 'In The Gaze' in all its unwashed, crusty glory. Plus the noisy intro to 'Anvil' and the uber doom riffing that follows is sheer brilliance. Yeah, the production value isn't the best but if it was any more polished it would disarm the raw fury contained within. Whenever these guys record and release something to follow this up I'll be first in the queue to grab a copy.

Give it a spin, spend a quid or 2 and support the UK scene you bastards!

Words by: Chris Bull

‘KLØTT’ is available here


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Monday, 27 July 2015

Dead Existence - 'Endless Misery' (Album Review)



‘This is sludge/doom at its most painful, misanthropic and unforgiving. Some would say it's a bit long as it is an epic journey of soul crushing proportions and if you're thinking that, you're missing the point of it; the title is 'Endless Misery' after all’


Album Type: Full-Length
Date Releaed: 04/04/2015
Label: Black Bow Records

‘Endless Misery’ CS//DD//LP track listing:

1). Consume
2). End Devoured by Beginning
3). ....
4), Worthless
5). Tear Apart The Veil
6). Obsidian Black
7). Delusion of Hope
8). Regretamine

Review:

Ooh this is a bit tasty! Dead Existence has been plugging away at the underground sludge/doom scene since 2004 and have made many a venue crumble to dust. 'Endless Misery' is their first full length since 2007's self titled self release and is 8 tracks of sheer misanthropic, unmitigated filth.

We start off with 'Consume' with its Celtic Frost like opening riff veering off into Crowbar territory while vocalist Jake bellows about how meaningless your existence truly is. Things get more atmospheric for 'End Devoured by Beginning' as the clean/reverbed guitars play the opening notes before the heavy, sledgehammer like riffs pummel everything in earshot and the slower closing section wears you down like the Project Mayhem initiation scenes in Fight Club. After the brief interlude of the 3rd track it's back into relentless, punishing sludge for 'Worthless' which has some great double pedal work from drummer (and former bassist) Max. It's clear Jake is angry at the world as he shouts more discouraging phrases and anti humanist slogans. Brutal, nasty stuff indeed.

Next is 'Tear Apart The Veil' and it's dissonant, hardcore style riffs that bleed away as the bass plays a slower, claustrophobic pattern before the guitars join back in for some more Crowbar worship. 'Obsidian Black' starts with some nice 3/4 beat action to get heads wind milling and is a highlight for me personally. The riffs slow down towards the end and the guitars use some different tones and effects pedals to make it all the more miserable before it fades out into noise/ambient/spoken word piece 'Delusion Of Hope'. Finally we get the dying beast of the final track, the superbly titled 'Regretamine'. This song is an epic, painful crawl through self loathing, akin to starving yourself to death. The 13 minutes have enough interesting changes to keep the listener involved but man, it's hard to listen to without wanting to off yourself!

This is sludge/doom at its most painful, misanthropic and unforgiving. Some would say it's a bit long as it is an epic journey of soul crushing proportions and if you're thinking that, you're missing the point of it; the title is 'Endless Misery' after all

Words by: Chris Bull

‘Endless Misery’ is available here

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Atheist - ‘Unquestionable Presence’ Reissue (Album Review)


‘Overall, then, this record still stands as a landmark for tech-death, metal/jazz fusion and all progression in the genre of metal. It is a classic and absolutely essential…’

Album Type: Full-Length (Reissue)
Date Released: 27/07/2015
Label: Season of Mist

‘Unquestionable Presence’ CD//DVD// Reissue track listing:

01. Mother Man
02. Unquestionable Presence
03. Your Life's Retribution
04. Enthralled in Essence
05. An Incarnation's Dream
06. The Formative Years
07. Brains
08. And the Psychic Saw

Pre-production demo:
9. Enthralled in Essence
10. The Formative Years
11. Unquestionable Presence
12. An Incarnation's Dream
13. Retribution (instrumental)
14. Brains (instrumental)

Demo 1990:
15. Enthralled in Essence

Drums & bass tracks:
16. Mother Man

Rhythm tracks:
17. And the Psychic Saw

Atheist were on this recording:

Kelly Shaefer | guitars, vocals
Tony Choy | bass
Roger Patterson | music
Steve Flynn | drums
Rand Burkey | guitars

Review:

Atheist. Florida. 1991. These three facts should be very descriptive about the content held herein this lavish reissue... However, this is nothing like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Malevolent Creation, Obituary et al (not that those bands sound anything like each other anyway- they are only banded by sub genre). In fact, this album has more in common with the direction that Death would head in a year or two later, but is still not comparable. Perhaps Cynic would be a better comparison as this is technical death metal of the earliest and finest variety. The first couple of minutes really marks Atheist and this album out as different. These good ol' boys, way down south in redneck territory were pioneers, carving out a brain twisting path through the musical swamp.

There are a lot of fusion elements here- some of the playing is really jazzy- and yes, that is across the board; rhythm section and guitars. Sure, there are riffs aplenty (all change, all the time!), solos and the virtuoso bass performance but there is something about this record that is very much ahead of this time. If I didn't know that this record was nearly 25 years old I never would have guessed as the production is superb. Everything cuts superbly, which is no mean feat considering how much is going on. The drums are tight and punchy (no pro tools at this time and I assume a limited recording budget so these guys must really have the chops), the bass noodles expertly and the vocals are nowhere near as extreme as some other DM acts from this or any other period. I guess this is like a more cerebral or even jazz version of Death at their peak (which as very cerebral in iteself!).

It is very interesting to note that while technical means exactly that, progressive here does not mean “play aimlessly for ten minutes plus while everything goes nowhere”- all the songs are very short compared to modern standards; four minutes being a reasonable average. The likes of “Enthralled in Essence” are very weighty in places, but not all the time as there is plenty of use of dynamics and odd rhythms. The double bass drums are not continual and blasting is not a feature. Acoustic guitars feature here and there in intros (excellent) and there is a very palpable sense that the band were really trying to excel themselves on this sophomore effort; better playing, better production, better composition.

There are some very odd poly-rhythms here and there, lots of syncopation, and lots of changes. A track by track analysis is worthless here; suffice it to say that there is a lot of technical metal for your delectation. Bonus tracks are included which feature bassist Roger Patterson, who sadly died before the record proper was recorded. His bass lines survived and were re-created, so the album still stands as testimony to his incredible skills.

Overall, then, this record still stands as a landmark for tech-death, metal/jazz fusion and all progression in the genre of metal. It is a classic and absolutely essential, particularly if you ever stick on an Opeth album and think it sounds too much like AC/DC. As technical as it gets.

Words by: Richard Maw

‘Unquestionable Presence’ is available here

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Freedom Hawk - 'Into Your Mind' (Album Review)


‘Overall a very strong album that holds strong throughout; immense riffs and licks, explosive drumming, engaging vocals and solid bass playing- it doesn’t get much better.’

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 23/6/2015
Label: Small Stone Recordings

‘Into Your Mind’ CD//DD//LP Track Listing

1). Blood Red Sky
2). Journey Home
3). Lost In Space
4). On Your Knees
5). Waterfall
6). Radar
7). Beyond Our Reach
8). Into Your Mind
9). The Line
10). All Because Of You

Freedom Hawk is:

Lenny Hines | Drums
T.R. Morton | Vocals, Guitar
Mark Cave | Bass

Review:

The Virginia Beach rockers are back!

Now a trio since  the departure of Matt Cave, they bring out their 4th album and follow up to their 2011 release ‘Holding On’.  Heavy riffs, rolling grooves and soulful melodious guitar entwine to produce their immediately identifiable sound. ‘Into Your Mind’ brings another dimension to their fuzz tinged offerings with all the swagger one would have expected after their previous effort.

A twinge of Ram Jam sneaks into opener ‘Blood Red Sky’; to what proves to be a bloody amazing album, flecked with stoner vocals and Sabbath like grooves,  it oozes into the sub conscious pummelling the senses with aplomb. Definitely the most radio friendly song, a stoner rock band can write, it has the rhythmic pulse of Led Zeppelin with the charisma of Ozzy. Rather adroitly they alternate and meld the prime elements of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s classic rock, metal, psychedelic rock, grunge and even a tinge of thrash. A belting opener.

‘Lost In Space’ epitomises the Virginia Beach trio at their finest; harnessing every single element that makes them enjoyable to the listen to; sci-fi lyrics, guitar riffs and lead melodies that create momentum and splashes of colour to lift the arrangements. The passion they have for hard rock and its history is transferred directly into this song and its finely tuned style of song writing.  The lead break in ‘Journey Home’; housing more layers than a triple decker sandwich, brings the catchiness up to immensely classic levels whilst the refined drum rolls from Hines and psychedelic chord choices make ‘Waterfall’ an absolute must have for their live shows; housing a slinky funk groove before opening up to a stoner rock ballad, superb stuff.

With a nod to Southern Rock, they take a wander with ‘Beyond Our Reach’, with clean, echoing guitar rhythms that hammer into the brain and take root enabling you to hum them all day long. Putting a pin in their heavy distortive work to get their point across, and they do, so very well.  Smoothly moving into the title track ‘Into Your Mind’ with a Clutch like stomp, you’re subjected to wondrous harmonies that combine Soul, Blues, Hard Rock and Stoner Metal with style,  making this trio diverse- yes but also enticing, flowing with musical chemistry. Jim Morrison’s influence is a shining beacon on the opening vocals here. A track that can only be described as organic; it is like no other on the album but reflects the roots of the Hard Rock/Metal genres. This song reminds the listener; no matter what kind of song they write, what lies at their core- delivering energetic rock whilst worshipping at the altar of the greats. It is by this point that I have realised just how good drummer Lenny Hines is; almost Ian Paice like, his dexterity for fills and his stylistic variations are immense. Each drum part is superbly arranged and executed with intent and attention to dynamics.

‘The Line’ glides in next; instantly attention grabbing, sombre and melodic, driven with emotionally charged vocals and strong bass lines, it is wondrously morose and melodic. The guitar lines take over about half way through and lead the song to an enchanting instrumental ending. Ending on a high with ‘All Because Of You’; it is a funky, groovy number that will cause those with even the blackest of souls to have a little wiggle round the kitchen.  It is simple yet effective and with more than ample guitar wizardry, catchy drums and bass entanglement, it takes me a minute to calm down and declare that I am in no doubt this record is winning. With the focus honed on refined, hook-orientated chord progressions and the Ozzy like crooning of guitarist T.R. Morton these 10 songs remind me of everything from Sabbath to Kyuss; Clutch to retro Corrosion of Conformity.

Overall a very strong album that holds strong throughout; immense riffs and licks, explosive drumming, engaging vocals and solid bass playing- it doesn’t get much better. They have developed a fantastic writing/playing style that pings the senses and has massive potential for success within the retro/classic rock movement. They balance the vocal and instrumental parts alongside excellent attention to detail with their arrangements. Capitalising on the best of the 70’s whilst adding their own twist based around excellent song writing as opposed to stylistic retro posturing.  If you love classic rock and up tempo metal/hard rock then this will settle nicely between the ears and tickle your fancy.

Words by: Kat Hilton

‘In Your Mind’ is available here

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A Trust Unclean - ‘Reality Relinquished’ EP (Review)


‘The whole EP is so energetic, inspiration seems to bleed from every available crevice; here is a band basking in a creative flourish.’


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 07/08/2015
Label: Self Released 

‘Reality Relinquished’ EP track  listing:  

1). Enucleation”
2). “Feckless Traditions”
3). “Perverse Agenda”
4). “Insipient Catastrophe”
5). “Reality Relinquished

A Trust Unclean

Joe Corky | Vocals
Steve Hunt | Guitar
Mikey Gee | Guitar
Bobby Hembrow| Bass
Scott Horne | Drums

Review:

Music such as this is savage by design, and with a name like A Trust Unclean, you expect this band’s sonic assault to be as rough and splintering as a hangover after a four day absinthe binge. But what has surprised me with the Oxfordshire band’s ‘Reality Relinquished’ EP is just how much character lurks in their overtly guttural and uncivilised demeanour.  Never at any point do they get lost in that unquenched desire to be heavier than Satan’s bollocks and forget about the key assets in melody, structure and imagination. The songs snap every which way, like Steve Irwin – God bless his crazy, crazy soul – wrestling an unsuspecting alligator, but the way, in which these compositions are constructed, you end up sucked into its ebb and flow almost instantly. 

‘Perverse Agenda’ is underpinned by low strung grooves which are interjected by Joseph Corcoran’s hoarse vocals and fly-in-a-glass whizzing fret board runs. The whole EP is so energetic, inspiration seems to bleed from every available crevice; here is a band basking in a creative flourish.

Blast beats, when you venture down heavier roads such as this, can so often be an all-out matter of quantity outweighing quality. But here, especially on ‘Incipient Catastrophe’, Scott Horne’s footwork is deft, intricate and all over the place, tighter than a gnats arse yet so fluent. It gives the songs a chaotic undercurrent, but a chaos that is well organised and executed. It’s these stuttered rhythms, despite the crushing countenance of the overlaying guitars that give this record so much of that aforementioned character. Without it, this would just be a heavy record, another one for the pile of ‘just noise without anything going for it’ records in existence.   

On the title track it is guitarists Steve Hunt and Mikey Gee who impress the most. From the pained lead lines to the Gojira pick scrapes, bursts of tremolo picking and all-round complexity – the tab of this no doubt resembling something akin to a child let loose with a label gun – here are two guitarists with their heads firmly leading, their macro intellect and vision the way. Showmanship isn’t really an egotistical presence here, for any of the musicians. This is a collective effort and, yes, there are moments of brilliant individualism, but it is as a collective where they are strongest, no one ever takes the limelight for more than each particular section requires.

With five songs all either three or four or five minutes long, the EP flies by. It’s a wham-bam-thank-you-mam of technical and devastating death metal. The juxtaposing smile that broadens your gob while listening speaks volumes. Honestly speaking, I’m not too enamoured by this end of the metal spectrum – it’s something I dip in and out of from time to time – so for a band of this calibre to capture my imagination, to have me excited as this record does is, from a personal stand point at least, a pretty darn good achievement.

It is heavier than Satan’s bollocks, but it’s fun and very well written too.

Words: Phil Weller

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