Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thousand Year War – Kingdom Of America

Ho-lee fuck!!  That was my initial reaction to opener and title track “Kingdom Of America”.  I actually said it out loud.  Then I played the track 2 more times because it just felt so good.  It IS so good.  Welcome back Thousand Year War!!!

I'll admit it, I'm a fan of this band.  I reviewed their previous release and also did an interview with Hiram Lohr, the multi-instrumental mind behind the band.  I was looking forward to hearing the new stuff.  And when you hear something that you are anticipating and it still blows you away, then job well done!

This is melodic death metal at its best.  Which to me means that the melodic side of the music is there, but it doesn't take over and detract from the death metal.  It is there in the proper portion.  And this music does not wuss out.  There is plenty of brutal goodness to be had.  In fact this has a very angry edge to it.  This is music that sounds as though it's creator is kinda fed up with things and has some shit to say about that.  Title track “Kingdom Of America” literally explodes out of the speakers and just rages.  Rage in music is good, it provides us a much needed release.  Let's face it, life sucks most of the time, and I, for one, am always glad to have music that feeds that rage.  For me it helps me release the rage so I don't kick my cats across the room or do something much, much worse.

“Weep As We Die” is the second track and is more down tempo.  It has some great riffs and guitar work, and there is a fantastic guitar melody that winds its serpentine way through the song.  Then we have “London Dungeon” a Misfits cover that works very nicely with the original songs here.  “Doom Rides These Mountains” is an instrumental track and well written.  There are some very cool changes in tempo and time signature.

The EP closes out with “Vulture Eyes” and “Gather The Wolves”, two absolutely face melting blasts of what is right and good with this genre.  As I've said before about this band, although they hail for the good ol' USA, they definitely have a very European sound, and given that melodic death came from Europe, that is a good thing. They do not ape what has gone before, they make it completely and wholly their own.  This release just crushes, and I can't recommend it enough. It gets the blood pumping, the heart firing on all cylinders.  It makes you wanna saddle up with Thor and go beat some frost giants to a fucking pulp.  It does what all music should; it makes you feel.  Now leave me alone, I need to go listen to this like, 20 more times in a row.

  - ODIN

Monday, April 29, 2013

Revenge of the Quick Ripple Bursts - Featuring Harvester, Juggernaught, Doomdogs and Curse of Disobedience

Harvester - The Blind Summit Recordings

When I hear the word harvester, images come to mind of some monstrous mechanical demon scouring across the fields, tearing apart all that lie before it, leaving the earth barren in it's wake.  Overly dramatic, I know, but there it is.  Now the band Harvester do nothing to dispel that images, raging across the world of stoner/bluesy rock riffiness, tearing apart the pretenders and leaving their scattered remains in their wake.

"Cosmonautical Mile" is about as fierce an assault of unadulterated rock as I've heard in a while.  Think a band like Roadsaw at their best, violent and aggressive and determined to bloody their knuckles on something.   The sound is full and the guitars come at me as if they'd just been released on parole and had some serious damage to catch up on.  "Circle Eater" follows suits, as does the rest of the six songs that make up this album.  Vocals are raw and roughened without being too dirty and drums and bass combine to beat my mid-section as if I'd stepped into the UFC ring unprepared. 

Juggernaught - Bring the Meat Back

"Bad Idea" rumbles at me like the bastard child of Corrosion of Conformity and the Red Hot Chili Peppers after an uncensored night of moonshine whiskey-fueled debauchery and still on the run from the law.  Guitars roll and trounce across a deep-from-the-swamp funky bass.  The vocals leak out like a droplet of bile dripping from the corners of a vagrants mouth.  "Train" confirms that the first track was no aberration.  What we have here is an unholy version of funkified hobo stoner blues that motors with the full-power of their name-sake Juggernaught.  Think a metallic-veined Credence Clearwater or the Masters of Reality facedown in the Mississippi Delta and you won't be too far off.  It's a train that has nowhere in particular to go but will get then with damn full force.

 I'm hooked. 

Doomdogs - Unleash the Truth

Big Jay told me about these guys a while back, but I just never had the time to listen to the few songs he tossed my way.  My loss.  Stampeding stoner blitz is what we got here.  Far more rocking and passionate than the "doom" in Doomdogs would suggest.  The opening guitar tone of "Eye for an Eye" is simply one for the ages, and it's accompanied by a full-body blow of bass and drums.  The vocals bark out from a larynx that's been torn to shreds.   The whole thing hits me like a Howitzer shell. 

One thing that's for certain- these dogs got bite.

Curse of Disobedience - S/T

Gotta be honest.  On my iPhone the Curse of Disobedience songs come up as separate files, rather than as one album or such, so I don't really recall if these songs are one whole, or their order or what not.  I seem to recall that I loaded up two albums from this Southern Metal ensemble, but don't hold me to that.  In the end it doesn't matter, cause what we got here is some serious D.I.Y. doom-laced metal.  "Dead Seas of Life" brings in some serious shred across it's thrashing riffs.  Like Paul Anthony Hill's other project, Arise Within, the raw production speaks to the passion of the band, fighting to get their sound out there.  "Full Throttle Suicide," ups the ferocity into a hell-bent thrashing assault.  Mos Generator's Tony Reed lends his sizeable chops to the second lead guitar solo in "Kill or Be Killed," a downtuned metal dirge.

My favorite though is a toss-up between the metallic crunch of "Reborn" -probably the tastiest slice of lo-fi metal I've feasted upon- of the female vocal inflected slab of goth-tinged heaviness that is "Resurrection."   I wish I knew the name of the woman who provided the ethereal melodies accompanying that song, because her tone really lifts that songs to an angelic place.



Sunday, April 28, 2013

WACKEN METAL BATTLE CANADA Unleashes FREE DOWNLOAD Compilation of Competing Bands

Wacken Metal Battle Canada has unleashed a FREE DOWNLOAD compilation to promote some of the top Canadian metal talents competing in this year's largest metal contest for one true champion to represent the nation with the highest honor at this summer's 2013 edition of Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. 

Promo Video - Wacken Metal Battle Canada - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQcxqsxchkQ 

The FREE DOWNLOAD is available at the following link here.

Wacken Metal Battle Canada Compilation Vol. 1 - Track Listing: 

1. Adrenechrome - Led Elephant 05:37
2. Answer With Metal - Two Wrongs (Don't Make A Right) 05:06
3. Cecile Monique - Never Over 03:37
4. Crimson Shadows - Beyond The Mountain Wasteland 05:50
5. Cryptik Howling - Ulysses Death 03:58
6. Dissension - Of Time And Chronic Disease 06:58
7. Dreamers - No Place To Hide 04:23
8. Eclipse Eternal - Deathbound 08:29
9. Embracing Soul - Luna 03:42
10. Fallstaf - The Cost 03:21
11. Laugh At The Fakes - Blinded 05:28
12. Mastery - Step Up 04:23
13. Mürtenscythe - (Smoking weed) Through The Horn of Satan 08:30
14. Panzerfaust - The Apple of Infinite Knowledge 08:15
15. Powered By Death - Hit The Surface 03:00
16. Pyramid Theorem - Another Day Slips Away 06:28
17. Sanguine Glacialis - Into The Heart of Chaos 06:44
18. Slyde - New World Sympathy 03:36
19. Spewgore - The Ride 02:12
20. Through Death - Orphaned 03:38
21. Trainwreck Architect - The Door Slam Shut 04:14
22. Venomenon - Temple of Lies 07:13
23. Vesperia - O' Hail The Northlander 04:49
24. Virulys - Endless World 04:40
25. Warcall - Faces of Death 04:49
26. WarMachine - Moving On 04:04

    Being held in Toronto, ON and Montreal, QC during the months of May and June, 37 independent Canadian metal bands from across the country will challenge one another to join a list of Canadian heavyweights such as Voivod, Exciter, Razor, Annihilator, Anvil, Kataklysm, Cryptopsy, 3 Inches of Bloods, Despised Icon and Danko Jones who have performed at Wacken Open Air in years past.

The W:O:A Metal Battle was founded by Wacken Open Air in 2004 to encourage future generations of heavy metal and rock as the festival believes in supporting the future of metal music and its musicians. 
The Wacken Metal Battle Canada line up for the qualifying rounds in Toronto & Montreal is as follows and will be judged by a panel of local music industry representatives.

Qualifying Rounds - Toronto

April 28th @ The Rivoli
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/144925635688346/
Fragile Existence
Website: http://www.facebook.com/FragileExistence/
Eclipse Eternal
Website: https://www.facebook.com/EclipseEternal
Website: www.deathmarch.ca
Vernon Howell
Website: www.facebook.com/vernonhowell416
May 5th @ The Rivoli
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/145113242334068/
Website: www.dreamerswtf.com
Pyramid Theorem
Website: http://www.pyramidtheorem.ca
Crimson Shadows 
Website: www.facebook.com/crimsonshadowsband
Website: www.adrenechrome.com
May 15th @ Hard Luck Bar 
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/636121479737458/
Website: http://www.warmachineonline.com
Website: www.MasteryOfficial.tk
The Unborn Dead
Website: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Unborn-Dead/88574066218
Cecile Monique 
Website: http://www.cecilemonique.com
Laugh At The Fakes 
Website: www.laughatthefakes.com
May 22nd @ Hard Luck Bar
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/504838809551210/
Website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2295859923/members/
Website: www.facebook.com/nephelium/
Empyrean Plague
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Empyrean.Plague
Answer With Metal 
Website: www.facebook.com/answerwithmetal
May 26th @ The Rivoli
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/454483377961413/
Website: http://www.panzerfaustblackmetal.com
Embracing Soul
Website: http://www.embracingsoul.com
This Is Death Valley
Website: www.facebook.com/therealtidv
Website: http://www.slyde.ca
Qualifying Rounds - Montreal
May 9th @ Katacombes
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/269499079852535/
Website: http://www.facebook.com/DissensionMTL
Website: https://www.facebook.com/warcallband
Website: https://www.facebook.com/VirulysBand
Website: http://bookakee.bandcamp.com/
May 15th @ Katacombes
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/349373411841013/
Trainwreck Architect
Website: http://www.trainwreckarchitect.net/
Website: http://venomenon.bandcamp.com/
Demise of the Crown
Website: http://www.demiseofthecrown.com/
Website: http://www.reverbnation.com/fallstaf
May 22nd @ Katacombes 
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/398000663640115/
Through Death
Website: http://www.throughdeath.com/
Website: http://www.reverbnation.com/crosstitution
Website: http://www.murtenscythe.bandcamp.com/
Powered by Death
Website: http://www.reverbnation.com/poweredbydeath
May 31st @ Katacombes
Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/311701678957238/
Website: http://www.valfreyametal.com/
Sanguine Glacialis
Website: http://sanguineglacialis.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.karkaos.com/
Website: http://www.hollowofficial.com/

Semi Finals - Toronto
May 31 - Hard Luck - Toronto, ON
June 7 - Rivoli - Toronto, ON

Semi-Finals - Montreal
June 7 - Katacombes – Montreal, QC*
* 2 MONTREAL BANDS MOVE TO FINALS - June 22 at Opera House, Toronto, ON

Finals - Wacken Metal Battle Canada
June 22 - Opera House, Toronto, ON

For more info on Wacken Metal Battle Canada, please visit these links:

Official Website: http://www.metalbattle.ca 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetalBattleCanada 
Twitter: @MetalBattleCAN
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/WackenMetalBattleCAN

Saturday, April 27, 2013

MAJALIS Signs With Pulverised Records

Swedish abjection horde MAJALIS is now in league with Pulverised Records!

With this project group suspended for several years and ultimately resurrected by the group's pivotal figures Tobias Netzell and Björn Pettersson, also of In Mourning fame; MAJALIS is now ready to take the first leap forward and introduce the band's debut EP to the unsuspecting world of mournful harmonious scorn.  

In an official press statement from MAJALIS six-stringer Björn Pettersson: "We are happy and proud to be able to work with Pulverised for our debut EP. Some of us have been working together before and it feels like both us and the Pulverised guys are pretty stoked about this project, so we have no doubts that this will be a good collaboration."

MAJALIS is a newly formed band but is hailing from a project that started quite some time ago, much of the material to this first EP was written by Tobias and Björn several years ago. Later the four of us got together and decided to make the project into a band, and now it feels perfect to be able to put these songs out as a first sign of life. All four members are active musicians in other bands and are no strangers to playing live or writing music, plus we all tend to work very well together so we have a lot of good vibes for this. The music we have recorded so far draws inspiration from some atmospheric, hardcore and doom-influenced territories. We are really eager to get going and to present what we are working on."

Pulverised Records label manager Roy Yeo had this to say regarding the latest signing: "Having worked with In Mourning previously, we knew very clearly what Tobias, Björn and co. were capable of for sure. MAJALIS although are amongst the same musical territory with the likes of In Mourning, Katatonia, etc and its predecessors, they sound nothing like the aforementioned bands. There is really no better way to describe MAJALIS than somewhat sounding dangerously close to a funeral-like Post Rock band with unyielding depressive underlings."      


Daniel Jansson - Bass, Vocals
Tobias Netzell - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Björn Pettersson - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Jonas Martinsson - Drums


Friday, April 26, 2013

White Dynomite - S/T

I love it when a review is so easy to write! Lately I've been doing a lot of band interviews, which is fun, but transcribing and editing them is a pain in the ass. But reviewing White Dynomite is fun and easy! 10 songs in 26 minutes, one of them's called "White Dynomite" and another is called "White Dynomite Reprise." Just like their heroes in the band Boston, White Dynomite basically live the lyrics to Boston's "Rock N Roll Band" -

Well, we were just another band out of Boston
On the road to try to make ends meet
Playin' all the bars, sleepin' in our cars
And we practiced right on out in the street
No, we didn't have much money
We barely made enough to survive
But when we got up on stage and got ready to play
People came alive

Having had the pleasure of seeing White Dynomite rage the stage a few times I can say the people really do come alive. Especially the people on stage. Featuring two members of Roadsaw (Tim "TCB" Catz on bass and Craig Riggs on drums) as the rhythm section you know this band can boogie. The guitar playing of John Darga and the unhinged vocal stylings of Dave Unger complete the package. So what do they sound like? They claim eer, fried chicken, polyester, gasoline and horror movies as their influences. There's not much I can add to that except for maybe Foghat and the Lazy Cowgirls. Songs like "Cuz I Said So" and "Go Fast Be Violent" are snotty punk scorchers that will probably piss off uptight punkers. "Don't Tell Me (I Need A Doctor)" boils down Humble Pie's "I Don't Need No Doctor" down from 8 minutes to 2. Any ladies out there interested in the men of White Dynomite just need to listen to "Black Light Woman" for instructions on what they're looking for. But, by far, the best jam on this album is "High When I Die" because it will be totally accurate.

What else could you possibly want from a rock band's first record? The cover's offensive, the music kicks ass and the guys are haggard warriors that kick to the jams onstage. To quote Boston again -

Rock and roll band
Everybody's waitin'
Gettin' crazy
Anticipating love and music
Play, play, play, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!!!!

Listen to the record!!!

Buy from White Dynomite

"White Dynomite" the song

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Ripple Effect Seeks New Writers!!

Well, here it is.

Our last call for writers brought us the stellar talents of Swedebeast, who's been regaling us with imaginative tales from the sludgy and heavy.  Add to this the recruited talent of The Professor, Odin, Metalrising and The Rhythm Slayer and the Ripple family has grown nicely.

But, we think we're still a bit short.

The Ripple Effect is growing so big, so fast, there simply is no way for us to keep up with all the quality music that comes in.  And now they could use just a little help.

We've got openings for one or two more writers.  We'd love someone who has a mind for lots and lots of heavy.  We mean heavy, dirty, deathy, blacky metal, stoner, fuzz, doom, sludge, and even some punk.  Again.  Stoner.  Lots of stoner, doom and black metal.   We could also use a great mind who loves emo, electro, and indy pop.  If it happens that both those minds are in the same person, then so much the better.

So, if you'd like to write about music, get lots of free music to review, and have your column syndicated across everything from GuitarWorld Magazine's website to USAToday, let us know.  We can't pay ya, other than in good music, lots of love, and a lifetime membership in the Ripple gang.

All it takes is a desperate passion for music and the desire to tell people about it.  As fun as the gig is, we'll only take people with a serious commitment to listening and writing.  Nothing half-assed about the Ripple.

Send in a writing sample about an album you love, 5 or 6 paragraphs.  Tell us why you love it, how it makes you feel and why the rest of the world should care.  Create some ripples.

That's what we do here at the Ripple Effect.  Create some ripples.

Crankshaft And The Gear Grinders - What You Gonna Do?

You want to go on a trip with me? Are you sure? Cool because we're heading down through Mississippi into Louisiana with New Orleans being our destination. Our tour guide is Alex"Crankshaft"Larson and he will take us past the usual tourist traps and to the heartland of NOLA, where the real stuff takes place. So buckle up and prepare yourself for a journey deep into the Delta. Hey...wait a minute! What's going on? We're heading in the wrong direction, damn it. This vehicle is heading north....come on now, turn around Crankshaft!

...and welcome to Anoka County, MN where Crankshaft And The Gear Grinders are from. My knowledge of Minnesota is limited however I do know it can be a cold-ass state but with music this hot and seedy you can thaw perma-frost in two minutes. Hell, you can stop a full-blown blizzard with this band. Maybe it's the cold climate that got main man Crankshaft into this kind of music that he calls Pork Neck Boogie. Regardless, it's shit hot and...I still get heavy vibes from delta blues alright!

Apart from the delta blues input you find equal parts of Tom Waits, G.Love And Hot Sauce, House Of Freaks, Mardi Gras and plain old emotions and fun in the band's sound. And damn, it's infectious. I've listened to What You Gonna Do? in my truck a lot and the album is a straight up traffic hazard. Once I hit play I start to groove in my seat, playing all kinds of air instruments and if I wasn't wearing the seat belt I would probably try to dance...while driving! I'm telling you I'm the biggest traffic hazard around listening to Crankshaft And The Gear Grinders.

Starting out in 2008 Crankshaft has been pretty busy recording and touring as a one-man band, Crankshaft, or with his backing band The Gear Grinders. Strictly DIY either venture releases their albums via the local label Slab Town who only works with local talent in order to spread their music to a wider audience.  And this feeds off on Crankshaft And The Gear Grinders because it adds to the sincerity of the band because apart from being shit hot and seedy there's a genuinity to their music. And even more importantly they seem to have a blast playing this stuff....and I want to join the party.

Do you have a bad day and you need to be uplifted? Or you just want to have a good time? Look no further, Crankshaft And The Gear Grinders have the remedy for you and that remedy is What You Gonna Do?. If this album can't get you going and make you feel better, then I don't know what is wrong with you. Because this is hot, rocking, hypnotic, groovy, infectious and damned good music. No I'm wrong, it's damned fantastically great music! I mean I'm up dancing to this and that only happens if I'm drunk or if I have lost my marbles all together and none of that applies right now. So get your hands on What You Gonna Do? and join in folks!!!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Single Life- 7" of Fun Featuring, Katla, Male Bondage, Bel Argosy, and Ex Friends

Katla - I Will Hunt You Down

When I was a kid, I used to watch the Saturday afternoon Hammer horror flicks with a particular duality. I wasfascinated and frightened at the same time. I was too young to know that I was also titillated by the exploitative aspects of the movies, I just knew I liked the witch cult and vampire scenes and Christopher Lee was one creepy dude. This record takes me back to those times.

In my visions, I am transported into that world. I've just escaped the grey, fog shrouded haunted mansion of horrors presided over by Christopher Lee and his minions. I wake up on the forest floor after a night of running for my life and I am greeted by fresh sunlight filtering through the trees. The air is crisp but the sun warms my bones and in turn gives me hope for the new day. I rise, and begin following a deer trail I spot in the underbrush. As I approach a clearing I began to smell the welcoming traces of a campfire and with it, elation that I am to be saved at last! But when I look up from the trail and emerge, I find that I have stumbled into a meadow filled with a large coven of women dancing with abandon around a bonfire. Their naked bodies are drenched in sweat, but they have no awareness of my voyeurism, as they are in a trance brought on from the pagan ritual that began the night before. Some of them are wearing deer heads over their own and others have blood smeared on their glistening breasts. I should be frightened but I am seduced by the primal spectacle before me and stare slack-jawed.

At this moment, the high priestess steps from behind the bonfire, chanting with eyes rolled back in her head, her black robes flowing around her, blown by the intense heat of the fire. Suddenly, she stops, sniffs, and her eyes roll down and instantly meet my gaze. All the blood runs out of my head. I recoil at her fangs as she screams commands in latin; I spin and run into the forest, being chased by her enthralled sycophants. Is it fear that I feel as I run through the forest? Confusion overtakes me when I realize it is actually invigoration.

My feet cannot propel me away from my desire. I am overtaken and laid out on the forest floor. The blank death stare slowly emerges as I am slowly drained of blodd by this vampire witch cult. And underneath the stare, beyond the pain, past the horror, I feel contented satisfaction.

- Mysterious Mammal


Male Bondage - S/T EP

Disgusto-bathtub meth-addled punk sludge from the glorious heartland of America.  Slithering from underneath whichever moss-encrusted rock they used for refuge during their last hangover, Male Bondage brave the sunlight to drop off this 5 song traveling mosh pit of post-stoner slime.  Vocals gargled out in belching bursts of air, guitars muted and strummed with hammers for picks.  The opener, "Entrance Music" is such an impossibly slowed-down, and lumbering post-Sabbath doom fest that I couldn't tell if I was playing a 45 at 33 RPM.  But I need not fear.  The punk blitz of "Violent Cravings" ramrodded straight into my brain next, letting me know that the speed was right.  As was the whole damn package!  Stoned out farts of punk fury, mixed with fuzz and spit. The boys are even crafty enough to toss in a touch of indie rock charm to "High Road," without ever losing sight of the fact that they just really don't care.

Side two, shows a touch more of the bands chops with "Voice of Reason" exploding with post-hardcore punk and some pretty serious guitar chops.  "Bondage of Men" wraps it up with pure bile and axle grease.   If that doesn't all sound like the key ingredients to a good night's party, I don't know what is.

Someone call Ripple band, C.F.A., I may have just found their perfect touring partner.

Bel Argosy - The Wreck of the Bel Argosy

Warbley, lo-fi punk a la The Replacements with enough of a D.I.Y. ethic and passion to be charming.   A touch of garage/surf vibe even permeates side B opener, "Yer Business."  Each song chugs along in pure blissful blinders-on obliviousness to the music trends, but with full understanding that their music will never break the big time and they just give a fuck. They're gonna pump it out and play with full abandon and rock and stick that finger right up the man's gloryhole.

Gotta respect that.  Being a sucker for D.I.Y. garage punk, this one's sounding pretty damn good to me.  If you like bands like Replacements and Jay Retard, you'll probably find much to love here. You can buy the 7" (which is a nifty little 4-song package) or get a free download.  Or both.  Take a listen below.

Ex Friends - Twisted Around

A smattering of Oi! punk mixed with pure on gut-charging mania makes Ex Friends a frenetic good time.  Songs like "Punk Rock Wedding Punk Rock Divorce" simply rock. Dig the male/female gangland vocals on the chorus.  A nice touch that picks this up above the ordinary.  Combine that with a lead foot welded to the accelerator pedal and we're off and running full speed.

Male vocals are appropriately gruff and lye gargled.  Guitars chug along at near light-bending speeds and drums and bass attack like a pitbull on a poodle.   Still, the band manages to balance this fury with some dynamics, like the relatively slow and melodic "Rainy Season."

The PR says for fans of Leatherface.  I'll agree there.  I don't know Yo-Yo Records in Germany, but if this is the quality of the stuff they're putting out, I'll be keeping my eyes open.  


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Toarn – Brood Of Vipers

 Brood of Vipers

Metalcore, as a sub-genre, has been around a while now and I think for the most part it's gotten very played out.  A lot of metal fans never liked it to begin with and the few bands that actually did it well have kind of moved on to other hybrid genres.  Let's be honest.  Most metalcore bands suck more balls than Sasha Grey.  It is a treat, then, when a new band comes along and takes the genre by the throat to show us that there is still life and there are still some tricks in the bag.

That band would be Toarn, and the EP that has me all excited is called “Brood of Vipers”.  They are a self described Christian metal band, so now I feel a little guilty for putting a porn star reference in that first paragraph, but not enough to edit it out.  Toarn definitely put me in the mind of a band I really love, Shadows Fall.  They have a lot of the melodicism and creativity that the Shads feature in their music.  There is also some stuff here that is reminiscent of a little band called Lamb Of God.  Don't get me wrong, these guys are not merely aping the two bands I mentioned, just “recommended if you like” kind of stuff.  You are definitely talking bands right in my wheel house.  Hell if Toarn could have thrown in something a la Deathspell Omega, I'd be in the ER right now with one of them 4 hour erections.

There is some really fantastic music here and you should do yourself the favor of checking it out.  “Brood Of Vipers”, the title track, is just crushing and exactly what a metalcore song should sound like.  There is a vocal breakdown in “Bloodstained Love Story”, and then the band comes in like one of those dubstep drops, only good.  Literally wall shaking stuff.  There are all manner of little atonal guitar riffs snaking in and out of these tracks that really hit the spot.  The drumming is just about perfect, this guy knows when to pummel the double bass and when to leave it alone. 

The recording and mixing of this is very well done.  Everything sits right where it should and is balanced very well.  The song writing is very good as well.  Nice, concise songs that beat the shit out of you and then move along to the next beating.  Being metalcore, there are the requisite breakdowns in each song, but they are done creatively, you don't get to the point where you think, “Ah, that breakdown is there only because it has to be”.  Six songs, probably about 20 minutes, perfect length for an EP and a fantastic introduction to the world for the music of Toarn.  Go out and find this, listen to it, and thank me later. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Bevar Sea - S/T

When I think of great stoner/doom capitals in the world, many names come to mind.  Birmingham, the home of Sabbath.  The California desert, home of Kyuss, and really, any place in Sweden, because Sweden, well . . . rocks.

But I don't think of Bangalore.

At least not until now.

I know nothing of Bangalore.  Nothing of the atmosphere and climate that could breed a band this heavy.  This mammoth.  This seeped in the classic sounds of early Sabbath and the doom fathers that followed.  But some quick tapping at the keys revealed that earliest reference to what became Bagalore was found in a ninth century stone inscription on a "vīra gallu" (ವೀರಗಲ್ಲು)  which literally translates to, "hero stone", a rock edict extolling the virtues of a warrior.  And perhaps that's the key.  Because the band Bevar Sea are nothing if not warriors, extolling the virtues of the hard and heavy in the world of doom.

With Sabbath as a foundation, these warriors chiseled into their rock the inscription of southern sludge, the  carvings of the wasted california desert, and finished it with the artistry of progressive/darkened psychedelia, all of which as combined to form their monument to heavy rock.  Their own vīra gallu to extoll their belief in the heavy.

43 minutes and only four songs with nary a minute wasted. The riffs come one after another like cars from a barreling freight train, each one hitting me with the impact of that locomotive.  "The Smiler" mutates the riff from Iron Man and combines it with the grizzled vocals of a weary warrior--one who has seen too much and swallowed too much and needs to vent.  And the guitar wail away and the riff gets heavier and harder and it's all just so . . . perfect.

But this isn't an album to dissect each individual song.  Rather, each track works like another hammer to that chisel, inscribing the stone with the power of Bevar Sea's rock.  Together, these four tracks comprise one massive epic, made up of four smaller epics.  Each song takes it's own time to evolve and develop, each one telling it's own tale in time and pace, tempo and exploration.  And not to put too much into the "warrior" analogy, but damn, I'd swear listening to tracks like "Abishtu" that I can see ancient troops marching, battlefields and bodies and war and armies.   And doom.  Lots of doom.  Almost as if Bevar Sea have created their own genre of the stoner/doom world, "battle doom."

Guitar leads when they come are restrained and tasty, like a brief reprise from the bloodshed.  The rhythm section is always dead on keeping the soldiers steadily trudging towards their doom.  The vocals add the menace.  And the riffs are the war.  Battle doom.  Inscribed on an ancient rock.  A warriors creed.

Bevar Sea have found it.  They embody it.  An album I can't listen to enough.

From now on, we'll all remember Bangalore. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ripple Field Report - The Specials/Little Hurricane Fox Pomona 3/20

What would it be like to see a band that truly defines a particular genre? Imagine the possibilities: dodging spitballs and projectile beer at some bowling alley in Memphis during the Pistols’ North American tour; sweating it out in a Queensbridge park watching Marley Marl work the turntables while insulting BDP’s Bronx lineage at every opportunity; maybe being fortunate enough to have caught Dylan go shockingly electric at the Newport folk festival back in 1965.  Heady stuff, no?

Having the privilege to stand among the adoring faithful when The Specials reunion tour rolled through Pomona late last month comes damn close.  The Coventry natives capture the essence of the ‘two-tone’, bi-racial English ska movement of the late 70s- early 80s better than any other band – the English Beat, brilliant in their own right, branched off significantly into other genres and thus cannot be so easily categorized, and Madness and the Selecter cannot possibly be shelved in the same lofty regions.  The Specials aren’t just synonymous with the style; it would be impossible to conceive of it without their presence.

A jawdropping 35 years after their heyday they barely missed a step at the perfectly sized Pomona Fox on March 20.  Founding member vocalist/catalyst/whirling dervish Neville Staple was sidelined from this reunion circuit due to health concerns, and original composer/keyboardist Jerry Dammers is long gone, but otherwise the band delivered an energetic set dripping with nostalgia that left the crowd deliriously satisfied and for all intents and purposes transported back to a dancehall in the Midlands circa 1981.  Reluctant frontman Terry Hall gripped the mic stand and peered slyly at the audience like he knew the winning tickets to next week’s lottery, but couldn’t for the life of him figure out why a bunch of twentysomethings from Southern California were still screaming raucously in appreciation of the band’s uptempo signature anthems like “Do the Dog”, “Monkey Man” and “Concrete Jungle”.  Even more compelling were the band’s treatment of more introspective, original pieces with somewhat subtle messages to deliver like “It Doesn’t Make it Allright”, “Too Much too Young”, and the enchanting, initial encore “Ghost Town”, one of the band’s most enduring highlights.

Rhythm guitarist Lynval Golding admirably filled in for Staple in the backing vocal/toasting/crowd banter department; whatever he washed down his dinner with should be bottled and sold next to the Red Bull special editions, because he bounded around the stage with reckless abandon belying his mid-60s youth.  Particularly impressive as well was bassist Horace “Gentleman” Panter, admirably taking a few star turns at centerstage while anchoring the band’s bread and butter rhythm section.

Opening were San Diego up-and-comers Little Hurricane.  The duo might have been physically dwarfed on stage by the fairly massive instrumental backdrop awaiting the Specials, but once they blurted out a few bluesy riffs from their stellar debut Homewrecker, they seemed larger than life.  Keep a lookout in these hallowed web pages for the results of an impending interview with these surefire headliners, where they will be asked point blank to respond in a few succinct words to the ubiquitous White Stripes comparisons.

--Rhythm Slayer

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hello Lazarus - Moving Forward Over The Next Financial Quarter EP

I helped close down a pub in Bristol.  I met two Australian women on Holiday, a guy from North Carolina (who had trouble holding onto his passport), two nurses visiting the shore from London and a bar full of black leather jackets and pierced faces.  One after another local Classic rock, Punk, New Wave, British blues and Alternative rock band took the small stage as we loudly pounded our Courage.  The music was, for the most part, great, although eclectic and markedly different from the usual open mic night at a stateside bar.

At last call the two Australian women and I stumbled out the door in search of food.  That's when I learned how Bristol breeds experimentation and novel experiences.  We found a Chinese restaurant that was open at 2 a.m. for takeaway.  I ordered chicken chow mein.  The Oriental British lady rocker with a streak of purple hair and tattooed eyelids who took my order asked, quite seriously, "Do you want chips with that?"

I was dumbfounded.  French fries with chicken chow mein.  Why not?  I said, "Sure," and received a paper cone of fried potatoes to add to my chow mein.  She then said, "Vinegar and mayonnaise?"  I looked down at my box of chicken chow mein and cone of chips and thought, "for what?"  I replied, "May I have ketchup?"  She looked at me quizzically as if she had never heard a request for ketchup, and calmly advised, "Ketchup?  In a Chinese restaurant?  I don't think we have any, but, let me check."

The next morning I awoke to Moving Forward Over The Next Financial Quarter, a four track EP by the Bristol band Hello Lazarus that is scheduled to be released by Scylla Records on April 22, 2013.  True to its Bristol origins, it is complex, contradictory, a melding of styles with the slight taste of bitterness of a room temperature ale.  Well, maybe the last part was just in my mouth when I got up.  Yet, on Moving Forward Over The Next Financial Quarter you will hear a grand alternative rock, punk, new wave, wall of sound.  Paradoxically, all of that sound comes from what is essentially a pub power trio.

The EP provides a twist on mainstream alternative rock.  More like Muse and, fortunately, less like Coldplay.  The first track, the band supports with a video, is "When In Rome.”  It typifies the sound of Hello Lazarus - hypnotic, slightly punky, slick and theatric.  The remaining tracks - "Get An Axe," "I'm No Explorer" and "Stallion" - are twists on the formula.

According to Hello Lazarus, Moving Forward Over The Next Financial Quarter is just the first of three EP's. Like a good chicken chow mein with chips, dashed with vinegar and dipped in mayonnaise, consumed in the middle of the night after a pub crawl, I suspect the music will greet hordes of its fans rising after an all-nighter. Hello Lazarus.

-     Old School

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dust - Hard Attack/Dust RSD 2xLP

Around Ripple, we just couldn't be more excited about the pending remastered/reissue of the two seminal Dust albums, Dust and Hard Attack.  Coming on RSD, 4/20/2013 it's about time these albums got a proper reissue and opened up new ears.  To mark the occaision, here's a re-issue of an earlier Dust review I wrote when I first got a copy of the original Karma Sutra vinyl.

And don't forget Woody's recently published interview with Dust's Richie Wise.

With Marky Ramone being a recent, and very gracious guest on our radio show, there really was very little surprise which band was going to occupy this month's Proto-metal Report. For those of you who want to hear what Marky had to say about his old band, the Ramones, Phil Spector, the great CBGB days, and see why the show was chosen as one of the Best Shows of the Week at blogtalkradio, you can still download the podcast for free at Ripple Radio. But for today, we're going back a little farther in time to this nasty little treat from early in Marky Ramone's discography.

Formed in 1968 by guitarist/vocalist Richie Wise, bassist/guitarist Kenny Aaronson, and a still then teenage, Marky Ramone (then Mark Bell), with lyricist Kenny Kerner, Dust cut a path rarely traveled at the time. While most of the early heavy proto-metal vibe at the time was coming from the U.K. and Europe, Dust tuned in hard and heavy to the darker, psychedelic early metal vibe. Plying their trade in New York, the boys were quickly signed to Kama Sutra records and released this vintage undertaking of ball's out, in your face, pre-metal corruption.

"Stone Woman," starts off nicely enough with a charging guitar riff, but doesn't really tell the story of what awaits you. Appropriate sounding for the day, the blasted to the front of the mix overdubs of slide guitar sound dated today and detract from the real song underneath. Buried down there, Marky Ramone is instantly proving himself a drummer of record, beating out beautifully complex polyrhythmic hard rock runs. We'll consider this song a gentle misstep and move right on to the meat of the album.

"Chasin' Ladies," the second track is a beauty. Following Marky's drum into, the boys quickly drop right into a funky, slightly southern groove, deeply indebted to Mountain's "Mississippi Queen." Big chords, slashing guitar fills and Marky keeping beat like a wild child freshly released into civilization. Richie Wise's voice, gently distorted, brings an edge of urgency to the track. But what really blows my mind are the fantastic, hugely looping basslines of Kenny Aaronson. Later to go on and play with the Stories and Rick Derringer, Aaronson plays like a freak of nature. Just listen to the stuttering breakdown midway through. He's throwing in more notes per line than should be humanly possible, plucking away like some 8-fingered mutant. Huge basslines, running up and down the neck, Aaronson's bass doesn't anchor the song to the rhythm, rather he unleashes the beast and sets it out to hunt for fresh prey. And when Wise finally takes the handcuffs off and rips out his first solo, it's a beaut. His tone sounding totally original, like his fingers have been laced with electricity. This song's a winner.

"Goin' Easy," finds these three New Yorkers dropping down into the deep Mississippi swamp for a muddy tour through some slower southern-tipped blues. While totally out of sync with the prior song, it still holds together here, tipping a hat towards the wandering muse that probably kept these boys from ever hitting the charts. But listen closely, there's a beautiful melody there as Richie sings "And I love you/and I'll never let you go." Again, a bit too much dubbed slide guitar for my taste, but still a worthy effort.

All of which brings us to "Love Me Hard." While many a purist will make a strong argument that the overt Sabbathism of "From a Dry Camel," is the album's centerpiece (a song we'll get to in a moment) this frenetic, charging track is the pinnacle of this Everest of proto-metal for me. The opening guitar riffs chugs out like a blind rhino in heat, blasting right into your face. Aaronson's looping bassline shoot the song off into some nearby linear orbit, and Marky Ramone's drums need to be heard to be believed. And it's not the obvious fills that captivate me so much. It's the stuttering, missed-beat, rummaging pounding he lays down underneath the main riff that drops my jaw. After a mid-song breakdown that probably goes on for one or two bars too long, the drums come pounding back, mutating right back into the opening charging riff. Wise's voice is at it's finest, adding a real sense of ferocity and passion to the singing that even allow us to overlook the occasional lyrical misstep like "Now I'm standing here alone/Alone and by myself." (as opposed to be alone with all those other people, I assume.) But even then, the song is shoved down your throat with such conviction, Wise sells it completely. No doubt about it, this blast should rightfully take it's place up there with the best of the early American proto-metal.

Now, I've already alluded to the 9:53 minute ode to B-school horror film, gloom and doom that is "From a Dry Camel," and without a doubt this song deserves the praise that gets heaped upon it. This is full on, massively mentally distorted Sabbath at its frightening best. Deep, impossibly heavy, trudgingly slow riffs blast out like the world's worst acid trip. This is without a doubt the most menacing sound coming in 1971 from some place other than Birmingham, England. Plowing forward at this corpse pace for nearly four minutes, the steam picks up midway, acoustic guitar flailing over the lobbing bass, gathering momentum, picking up speed straight to the acid-fried guitar breakdown. A pure on assault of Sabbath-fired doom metal that probably scared the shit out of some kids at the time.

"Often Shadows Felt," is a a mostly acoustic come down from the mangling your soul just took with "Camel," featuring a gorgeous melody, some nice strumming and some more astonishing Aaronson basslines. Finally, "Loose Goose," ends the affair with a jaunty, boogie woogie, instrumental, bluesy blowout. Written by Aaronson, you won't be surprised that the bass struts all over this song like a coked up pimp hunting for his ladies. Fine stuff, indeed.

Dust went on to record another solid album, 1972's Hard Attack (which we'll get to someday) before disbanding. Mark Bell's path is well chronicled, joining the Voidoids before adopting his famous last name and blasting punk to an unsuspecting generation. Aaronson's musical career was no less satisfying, remaining an in demand bass player, and Wise and Kerner went on to form a production team, responsible for such gems as The Stories and the first two Kiss albums. But this album isn't about what heights the former members of the band climbed to, it's about the birth of heavy metal. That freakish scientific experiment when gentle psychedelia and blues was transmogrified into something altogether terrifying, the snarl nosed, saliva toothed monster we all know and love.

One worth getting.


Buy here: Dust

Buy Hard Attack here: Hard Attack

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Daylight Dies - A Frail Becoming

For a band that has been around since 1996, Daylight Dies from North Carolina cannot be accused of oversaturating the market with releases. New album A Frail Becoming is only their fourth full-length, excluding a live album from 2005, in 17 years but better late then ever when it is this good. Dismantling Devotion from 2006 is to me a great album that I still play frequently. The follow-up, Lost To The Living was not bad but it didn't affect me as much leading me to not paying it much attention. Therefore A Frail Becoming is the natural and logical step for the band and it is amazing!

Somehow they have managed to blend doom, death and post metal with some really deft songwriting creating a concoction that is beautiful, dark, miserable, enigmatic, heavy and damned great. The confidence within the band is so apparent in the structure and execution of their playing. It's so unrestrained, flowing, soaring and adventurous only the way it is when a band are free of all artistic shackles. They do what they want because they know they can and because they know they are good.

What they have constructed reminds me of latter-day Katatonia. Not as much musically as atmospherically since Daylight Dies are overall more heavier. Instead they invoke the same emotions and feelings as the Swedes and most strikingly is how, while the music is soaring they also keep weight to it. This mix definitely adds to the melancholic and dark side of the them, A Final Vestige is a prime example of this.

While still keeping it Swedish there's also a hint of Opeth's rich texture, how the songs are built up and performed. And if you disregard the rough vocals Riverside are in the mix as well, just check out Sunset.

It's such a revelation to come across a band where the enormous collective talent comes to the fore; when all their collective knowledge comes to use and nothing is wasted or over done. When this happens great music is created. Music that matters, that is poignant. And that's what Daylight Dies has done with A Frail Becoming. They even utilize rough/clean vocals a lot, something I am very allergic to. But here it works perfectly, you know it makes sense.

If Daylight Dies are an unknown entity for you A Frail Becoming is the perfect introduction to their world. And what a musical world it is. Once you have absorbed this amazing release, go back and check out their other albums because you don't want to miss on such a talented band as them. In fact, their entire back catalogue should be in every record collection out there.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gift Of Gab - The Next Logical Progression

It Begins:  Penfold is born.  Behold; the universal starting point.

Progression #1:  Penfold listens to the music his parents play in his family’s home.  It is clear that the little tyke enjoys what he is hearing.

Progression #2:  Penfold is given his mother’s old stereo, which is promptly put on top of his dresser.  Alone in his room, he tunes the FM radio to his parents’ preferred station.  He then further enjoys the songs he has become familiar with based on his parents’ listening habits.

Progression #3:  After beginning middle school (6th grade) Penfold speaks to his friends and realizes that there is a whole universe of music that he has not heard.  He readily dismisses this musical universe however, maintaining that if his parents don’t like any of this music then it must be bad.

Progression #4:  The music Penfold identifies with changes radically thanks to two well-known culprits, puberty and high school.  Right on cue he embraces the fact that parents never like much of the music their children listen to and thus their tastes can’t be applied as a benchmark going forward.

Progression #5:  Penfold becomes employed!  Earning paychecks means he is no longer limited to the radio for musical sustenance.  Historically speaking, this marked a major turning point in the evolution of Penfold’s musical fanaticism.

Progression #6:  While obtaining a higher education Penfold discovers he has a near unquenchable thirst for interesting music.  He readily sheds most of his naïve opinions which labeled entire musical genres as “garbage”.  The truth, brought on by listening to amazing act after amazing act across the musical spectrum, set his ears and mind free.

The Next Logical Progression:  Having derived all the pleasure he possibly could from music, Penfold puts down his headphones and devotes the rest of his life to becoming the world’s foremost expert on lichen.  And zen gardens too!  Definitely zen gardens!

Waveriders, waveriders, waveriders.  Who among you has ever been let down by a new release from one of your favorite artists?  I imagine that would be almost everyone reading this post.  Let’s face it.  If you are even remotely serious about music then at some point the aforementioned scenario will have reared its ugly head.  It is as unfortunate as it is unavoidable.  That’s what makes The Next Logical Progression by the Gift of Gab so special.  Allow me to explain.

Many years ago I was exposed to Blackalicious’ spectacular album Blazing Arrow.  This album singlehandedly changed my mindset in regards to hip-hop music.  Gift of Gab is the emcee half of Blackalicious.  He instantly became my favorite rapper and has retained that title to this day.  The problem I quickly ran into was that based on my immense enjoyment of the Blazing Arrow album I had elevated my expectations regarding Gab’s future musical output far beyond the scope of what mortal men could produce.  Regardless of the quality of his post-BA output (for the record the vast majority of it falls between excellent and very good) I was bound to be disappointed.  My disillusionment reached its peak in 2009 when I picked up Gab’s second solo release titled Escape to Mars.  I’ll just say I didn’t care for the album and leave it at that.  Long story short when I heard about the impending release of Next Logical Progression in 2012, I have to be honest and report that I wasn’t terribly excited by the news.  Thankfully the incredibly loyal music fan that lives inside my brain made his presence known and I bought a copy.  That proved to be a wise decision.

NLP is a fantastic album!  A snare drum roll signals the beginning of the first song and for the next thirty eight minutes and twenty seconds class is in session.  Dope rhymes?  Check.  Wicked and varied lyrical flows?  Affirmative!  Wide variety of topics covered?  Witnessed.  Positivity and/or realistic messages on offer?  Top to bottom!  Vibrant production providing each song with its own unique sonic footprint while still feeling like one complete musical statement?  Yes indeed.  Does it put a smile on my face?  Ear to ear.  Might it contain the most impressive guest verse I’ve heard in some time?  You’d better believe it!  Look, I could keep going but I think you get the point waveriders.  This album prompts me to put a tally inside of each box on my “Penfold will like this album if X is incorporated” checklist.

I won’t call NLP a comeback album, because in truth the Gift of Gab never really left.  If you have never heard of this emcee or listened to any of his work, this album is a perfect place to start.  On the other hand perhaps you have been following Gab for some time and are currently experiencing a lull in your fandom.  Based off my own experience I wholeheartedly believe that this album will rekindle all the love and appreciation you felt in the past while at the same time producing generous amounts of excitement for the future.  Enjoy!



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