Welcome back to France, my friends. We have been spending a good deal of time in this fabulous country, and with good reason. The underground metal culture in France is out of fucking control! The latest band to grab my attention is an outfit going by the name of Crankset with their latest album entitled, Graceful Delicacy. I’m not familiar with this bands earlier endeavors, but if those works are half as intriguing as this release, then by God! I’m going back into the catalog! Graceful Delicacy opens with a double bass drum onslaught, a veritable distorted six string bludgeoning, and a vocal performance that would run chills up the spine of the Dark One himself. These guys feature some excellent time changes and unexpected technique to keep each listen a fascinating journey. Crankset sound like they have a bit of death metal influence mixed in with a more straight forward metal approach, and it’s those aforementioned changes in speed and texture that keep me poised on the edge of my chair.
“Tesla’s Rotating Magnetic Fields” is a true gem. As the opening strains of feedback drift into the ether, the full on metal assault doesn’t take the cowardly, around the back approach to kicking your ass. Crankset walk straight up to you and with a meaty index finger cocked behind the thumb, and they flick you right in the forehead. And this isn’t just a casual flick in the head. Oh no . . . this is a flick in the head brought to you by a Titan. I love the double bass drums as they lay down a sheet of punishment all while the guitars are creating amazing up strokes of texture. The break in the middle is awesome as the band brings the tempo back down before unleashing the aggression one more time. Strong tune!
You’ll also want to check out “My Desired Prey” in all of its off time splendor. This tune has more in common with the experimental metal stuff that I’ve been digging on lately, mostly in song structure and the way the band uses a wide array of dynamics to achieve a vibrant wall of tone and mood. This may be the most kick ass tune on the release, but I don’t want to color your experience. Go to the bands MySpace page and I believe that you’ll still be able to download Graceful Delicacy for the economically pleasant cost of free. Once you’ve done that, drop the guys a line of appreciation, let them know what you think of their art, and be on your way. www.myspace.com/crankset37
As we make our way back to the States, Racer somehow or another strapped pontoons onto this old bird and landed us on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain overlooking the great city of New Orleans. See how we’re sticking with the French theme here folks? Uh huh. Anyway, there’s a great progressive rock band that calls NOLA home and they go by the name of Abigail’s Ghost. They have a new album that’s going to be release in May entitled d_letion and looks to contain eleven tracks. Pre-orders started in March and to my knowledge are still open to anyone who’s interested. This is a band that fits well with the In Absentia / Deadwing era of Porcupine Tree, so if you’re a fan of those progressive rock sounds swing by and check these guys out. Don’t take my word for it. They have a teaser for the album posted on their MySpace player, so giver ‘er a whirl. I personally dig how they mix up the ambient synth sound with the heavy guitars. The contrast of light and dark is mesmerizing. Kinda’ like the town they call home. Ah . . . New Orleans. www.myspace.com/abigailsghost
We’re gonna’ cross the better part of the country now and make a short stop in Denver, Colorado. Strap on your mosh boots and make sure your health insurance is up to date, coz’ this next band is gonna’ have us strutting in a counter clockwise motion, flailing our limbs for both personal protection and maximum potential damage. The Casket Crew has that old school 80’s crossover punk sound that fused the street edginess of hardcore with heavy metal. Heavily distorted guitars with a great sense of groove, mid tempo beats and pulsing bass lines, and the gravel grinding vocals create a sound that takes me back to when I wasn’t afraid of a plank of wood with four wheels bolted to it. I’m digging the distorted bass tones through the music as well. It gives the riffs another sense of heaviness, and almost adds a tone of grindcore to it. “Evil Act of the Day” has a great groove to it and should give the muscle in your solar plexus a good work out. Thrash ‘til death indeed! www.myspace.com/thecasketcrew
Pullin’ in to the West Coast, Racer got word as we made our final approach for landing in the Bay area that the late 80’s metal/rap/avant garde unit of Faith No More have re-united. Oh yeah . . . and it feels so good! I loved FNM, as the Angel Dust review from last year should tell you, so this news made me spit my in flight Scotch and soda through my nose. I never thought it possible, so I checked the sources and it’s true. The band will be touring parts of Europe this summer and judging from the posted itinerary, they’re focusing on the festival circuit. Will they be touring the U.S.? Don’t know yet. Will they be recording a new album? Don’t know yet. Will they stay at my house for a month and allow me to make them breakfast? Again . . . don’t know yet. But keep it tuned here, Waveriders, coz’ if anybody is gonna’ know what’s up with these guys, it’ll be us. Or you . . . if you decide to hang out on their MySpace page for hours on end. www.myspace.com/faithnomore
Through the dense haze of smog and into the heart of Los Angeles, we find our friends in Bigelf going down the checklist to ensure they haven’t misplaced any of their necessary belongings for their upcoming tour of Europe. Sure, it’s not until fall, but you can never be too prepared for traveling to foreign shores. Our heroes will be joining the likes of Dream Theater and Opeth on this year’s edition of the Progressive Nation Tour as they make their way around Northern Europe and the U.K. Apparently the bands on this tour were handpicked by Mike Portnoy himself. Portnoy just climbed about a hundred and six notches in my book coz’ no one deserves being on a ticket of this magnitude more than Bigelf. So says the Pope. www.myspace.com/bigelf
Sticking around in L.A. for a bit, let’s stop in with Clemente from Petty Crux and see what he’s been up to. You don’t say. You’re going into the studio to start work on a new single? Awesome! Oh, and you have a new web site up and running? Get out. You have a video that’s being edited as we speak? No kidding. Waveriders, if you’re missing bits and pieces of this it’s coz’ the lads of Petty Crux have been out of control busy since finding themselves in the City of Angels. God bless ‘em! I shouldn’t have to say it, but swing by their page and check out this poppy, punky, alt-rock, indie thing that they do, get mesmerized, and get the band’s name tattooed on your stomach. These guys are straight up good. No frills, no fuss. Just good melodies, tight arrangements, high quality performances. They’ve pretty much got it all, and that’s why we love ‘em. www.myspace.com/pettycrux
Wrapping up this trip at our home base, there’s a band tooling around the San Diego area that deserves all of your love and attention. Very rarely do bands come around that can combine beautiful melodies with an air of edginess or combine well crafted tunes of love with songs that hold a mirror directly in the face of a society. War Stories is a band that is destined for greatness. You know us, Waveriders. Racer and I don’t frivolously throw around statements like that, and we’re not now. This band is the real deal, they just need people to stop listening to crap music and start listening to War Stories. I’ve already reviewed Vol. I so I probably don’t need to go into any details on that right now. What I do need to tell all of you about is that the band has released a new album called Arm Yourself. Now, I haven’t heard the whole thing yet, but judging from the select tracks that the band has posted on their page, I get the sense that it’s as good as Vol. I, and may be even better. The initial feeling that I get from listening to these songs is that, if it’s even possible, the songs have a more mature sound. Check out “Hangin’ On” and revel in the majestic sound of the melodies and let the lyrics percolate in your brain for a bit. I said it . . . I mean it . . . these guys are for real. See you next month! www.myspace.com/warstoriesmusic