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All posts for the month November, 2012

Youngstown alt-metal outfit The New PhaRmacy.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Youngstown alt-metal quintet, The New PhaRmacy, have been on the rise for quite some time now. Formerly known as Dead II Me, the group changed their name over a year ago and have continued to not only make their mark on the scene, but stretch out and grab attention on a national level as well.

Now, the band are preparing for a major showcase gig in Austintown, Ohio on Nov. 30, hopefully catching the attention of a major American record label.

“We were approached by Louis Hickman of Rage Productions about the showcase,” said guitarist Hollywood M.D. “It’s part of the ‘Exposed Music Festival’ which travels to different cities to ‘expose’ local unsigned talent that is recommended through their contacts. The A&R rep that is coming is Kim Stephens, who currently works with Capitol Records (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, Seven Mary Three, Saving Abel, Sick Puppies, Adelita’s Way). He also has worked w/ Universal and Atlantic Records. It’s on Friday Nov. 30, 2012 at Sammy’s Great American Bar (1722 S. Raccoon Rd.) in Austintown.”

Hollywood also spoke of how getting to meet and speak with some like Stephens will benefit The New PhaRmacy positively.

“With the impact of some one like Mr. Stephens, anything is possible. We will also get one-on-one FaceTime with him which is a rarity. As of now we don’t have a set time so get there when the doors open. Our set will run approximately 30-35 minutes,” said Hollywood.

The band have been held up in the studio for the past couple weeks laying down new material. While a full-length is in the works for a release sometime in the next year, Hollywood said that will take a short backseat as they have a few more high-profile gigs to attend to.

“Somewhere in between we are looking to go into the studio and finish our full length. For now there will be a five-song EP of new songs (and one really new) available for the Capitol showcase show,” said Hollywood.

Larry Serb of Don’t Touch That Studios was the man at the helm of the new EP, recording, mixing and mastering the finished product while capturing the raw power and emotions behind the new material. As of press time, Hollywood noted that the EP is in its final production stage before it’s to be unleashed upon the world.

“The new EP is in its mastering stages,” said Hollywood. “This one is far more advanced as a whole. We are more evolved as a band musically than ever. This time around is more of a ‘reach in and pull on the soul like a marionette, capturing every human emotion.’ And that’s what we did.”

Before the band heads back to the studio to finish up their full-length, they have another showcase for Radium Records on Dec. 22 at The Altar Bar in Pittsburgh and another noteworthy gig at the Ripper Owens Tap House in Akron on Jan. 26. They’ll also be involved in the premiere of the film The Zombinator, in which they made a cameo performance. The movie premieres in Youngstown Dec. 15-31.

Finally, Hollywood indicated that there will be no signs of The New PhaRmacy slowing down in the near future, so stay tuned.

“Our immediate plans are simple: Progressing forward without stopping,” said Hollywood.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Artist: How to Destroy Angels

Album: An Omen (EP)

Release Date: 11/13/12

Rating: 3.8/5

Earlier this month, fans of Trent Reznor were treated to new material as his project How to Destroy Angels release their second EP, An Omen. The EP is the follow-up to their self-titled debut EP which was released in 2010. The band has been quiet until recently with this release along with a tour and full-length due next year.

How to Destroy Angels is the electro-pop love-child of Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor, his wife and former West Indian Girl singer Mariqueen Maandig, with long-time studio collaborator Atticus Ross and visual collaborator Rob Sheridan. Although their sound wanders the realm of experimental-electronic, there’s a slick sense of pop sensibility thrown in the mix, due partly to Maandig’s beautifully haunting vocal delivery.

The band recently signed to a major label in order for the music to reach a mass audience, despite Reznor having had a very public dismissal of major record labels in the press in recent years.

Regarding How to Destroy Angels signing a deal, Reznor recently explained, “The main reason I do what I do is I want to do something that matters. I want to be able to create art that reaches the maximum amount of people on my terms … That was a key component … Because it came down to us — us being the band now — sitting around and identifying what our goals were. And the top priority wasn’t to make money. It was to try to reach the most amount of people, and try to reach the most amount of people effectively, that doesn’t feel like it’s coming completely from my backyard. Because I don’t want this project, ultimately, to just be dismissed as a ‘side project’ or … a ‘patronizing affair with Trent and his wife.’ Sounds terrible, you know?”

An Omen is a six-track peek of what the band have been up to and a hint of what’s to come with next year’s full length. It opens with the lead single “Keep It Together,” a haunting mid-tempo electronic song which reels you. From there, the somewhat folky “Ice Age” appears but in its seven minutes, never really seems to peak. The next two tracks, “On the Wing” and “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,” begin to pick up sonically, with pulsating electronic beats and more haunting vocals. Finally, the EP concludes with its two best tracks, “The Loop Closes” and “Speaking In Tongues.”

All in all, An Omen is certainly a good listen. However, it doesn’t seem to stand out as much as the previous EP does. The songs on here are more airy and slow, with a creepy electronic undertone slowly driving you along, unlike the previous effort, which was at times more up-tempo and menacing. Although, Trent Reznor often has a knack for creeping up on his listeners. Either his material grabs you right away (Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral) or slowly takes it’s time to settle into your psyche (The Fragile, Ghosts I-IV).

The material has only been out for a while, and is a small sample of a larger piece, so it’s possible I could be jumping the gun. Don’t get me wrong, it is by no means bad, it’s actually very well written and even catchy at moments. But I feel that it doesn’t quite stand up to their debut. Is it worth a listen? It’s absolutely more than that, it’s a really good piece of music.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Artist: Deftones

Album: Koi No Yokan

Release Date: 11/13/12

Rating: 5/5

Not many artists can claim the ability to balance Smiths-esque indie sensibilities with heavy-as-fuck riffs quite like the Deftones. Come to think of it, probably no one can! Deftones have a knack for making hypnotically beautiful, powerfully heavy metal rhythmic tantrums without letting their metal influence overshadow the aspect that they write amazing and challenging songs. And it’s never been more apparent than on their latest release, Koi No Yokan.

After 2006’s commercially disappointing effort, Saturday Night Wrist, the Deftones experienced a series of setbacks. They parted ways with long-time producer Terry Date and while recording what was to be their 2008 album Eros, bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a motorcycle accident and remains to this day in a semi-comatose state.

However, in 2010 they managed to pull it together and release their most creative and overall best effort since their landmark 2000 album, White Pony. It was Diamond Eyes, the album that not only placed Deftones back on the map, but forever solidified that they’re a creative force to be reckoned with.

Diamond Eyes was a very hard album to top. With every track easily flowing into the next, they album felt very concise as a whole with no real clunkers or skipable tracks. This year, they’ve managed to do it again with Koi No Yokan, picking up where Diamond Eyes left off.

Koi No Yokan is eleven tracks of pure energetic beauty. From the album’s opening smashing grooves on “Swerve City” to the metallic dissonance of “Romantic Dreams” and “Leathers” through the pounding singalongs of “Poltergeist,” “Entombed” and lead single “Tempest,” the album takes the listener on a perfect sonic journey. It finally concludes with an incredible trio of closing tracks, “Rosemary,” “Goon Squad” and “What Happened To You?”

Both lead singer Chino Moreno and the band as a whole have stepped it up with positive results. Moreno’s dreamy yet angst-y vocals meet guitarist Stephen Carpenter’s 8-string guitar riffs to perfection, while the sophisticated drumming of Abe Cunningham and final textures of keyboardist/sampler Frank Delgado round out this artistic masterpiece.

Koi No Yokan does not have a weak track on it. Much like Diamond Eyes and White Pony, the songs on the album just flow into one another, with no need to hit the skip button at any time. Certainly an album worthy of going out to your record store, paying for the physical copy and taking in the experience. Because that’s exactly what this album is, an experience!

Soundgarden, left to right, guitarist Kim Thyall, drummer Matt Cameron, singer/guitarist Chris Cornell and bassist Ben Shepard.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

“I’ve been away for too long!” howls Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell on the first track and lead single off the band’s comeback album, King Animal. And rightfully so, for it has been 16 long years since their last album, 1996’s Down On the Upside. They disbanded in ’97, pursuing separate music projects over the next decade, most notably Cornell’s band with Rage Against the Machine members, Audioslave, and drummer Matt Cameron’s permanent gig with fellow Seattlers, Pearl Jam. But the planets have re-aligned and Soundgarden has officially marked its return.

Believe it or not, Soundgarden have been around for what’s closing in on 30 years. They formed in Seattle in 1984, and along with bands like Green River and the Melvins, they’re credited with inventing what came to be known as “grunge” music. With their punk rock ethos, Sabbath-inspired down-tuned guitar riffs, strange time signatures and dark lyrics, Soundgarden blazed the path of what would become known as grunge, inspiring a whole crop of artists from the Pacific Northwest, including Alice in Chains and Nirvana, to tune low and get pissed.

Soundgarden released their sixth studio album, King Animal, on Nov. 13, 2012,

It would be the ultimate injustice to label them as just you’re typical angry heavy rock band. First of all, they have a sound that truly defies categorization. They’re heavy yet psychedelic, angry yet intelligent. Grunge is only a mere general term that serves its artists no justice, especially in the case of Soundgarden.

King Animal picks up were Soundgarden left off, sounding like it easily could have been released right after Down On the Upside had they not split up. They were never a band to purposely revisit themselves, but instead press forward with each release. Sure, the signature sound is still intact, and it’s clear on tracks like “By Crooked Steps,” “A Thousand Days Before” and “Bones of Birds.” But to some fans’ dismay, there isn’t much that harks their heyday of Badmotorfinger or Superunknown.

Aside from the music, the other key factor to Soundgarden is the gut-wrenching vocal ability of Cornell. The guy can rip the paint off the walls of any size room. And he hasn’t lost any of it. Despite the grittier approach he used with Audioslave and the slightly calmer vocals on his solo records, they’ve had little-to-no influence on his approach to this new album. The only exception would be the single “Been Away Too Long,” which is probably the weakest track King Animal has to offer. Overall, the vocals deliver, providing a pure adrenaline rush  atop guitarist Kim Thyall’s doomy, dirty riffs and drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepard’s driving rhythm section.

King Animal is not the best album in Soundgarden’s catalogue, that honor arguably goes to Badmotorfinger or Superunknown from the band’s peak creative and commercial success. But it’s far from being bad, or even average. It’s a natural progression with plenty of killer and memorable tracks. Highlights of the album include “Bones of Birds,” “Taree,” “Worse Dreams” and the closing track “Rowing.” The album should appeal to most older fans, but with enough modern acts to rip them off and piggy-back their pioneering sound, younger fans should embrace it as well.

By Joel Anderson (Art and Poetry Editor)

I love John Lennon. Not just for his music, but for his writing as well. When I was younger, I used to watch the Beatles Anthology my uncle taped for me when it first aired on TV. It was while watching the special; I first encounter Lennon the poet.

There was a clip of Lennon promoting his new book “In His Own Write.” Lennon recited on of his poems from memory called “The Wrestling Dog.”

One upon a tom in a far off distant land far across the sea miles away from anyway over the hills as the crow barks 39 peoble lived miles away from anywhere on a little island on a distant land.

When harvest time came alone all the people celebrated with a might feast and dancing and that. It was Perry’s (for Perry was the Loud Mayor) job to provide (and Perry’s great pleasure I might add) a new and exciting (and it usually was) thrill and spectacular performer (sometimes a dwarf was used), this year Perry had surpassed himselve by getting a Wrestling Dog! But who would fight this wondrous beast? I wouldn’t for a kick off.

 I immediately wanted the book. Mainly because I thought the answer would be in the book, because as an eight-year-old it was important to me to have the answer.

 But as I grew up, and continued reading this poem, I grew to love its total “Britishness” and the Carroll-esque quality this poem, and many of the other stories in Lennon’s book, has.

I love the purposely misspelled words. You can hear the Liverpool accent break through with every spelling error. It had an impact on me, because I never read anything like this before.

 Years of schooling taught me how to write properly, here was a book that was misspelling words on purpose and leaving out grammar on purpose. It was a freeing idea.

 Of course my writing doesn’t have the finesse and free flowing style as Lennon has, but it’s a practice I long yearn to have.

Written by, Jackie Pollo

Last Summer resides beneath my eyes
Jezebel horizon, cotton-pink skies
Such clandestine awakenings hibernate
Under laths of infatuation incarnate.
If lingerings of Love had survived
Memories of such desolation revived
Only to scorn remnants of your name
As if they weren’t already fuel to the flame.
A pain so greedy to blacken the scythe,
Like the thorn so readily sown to writhe.
And tears that fell, Earth sucked clean
Poisoned by pain, those acid rain streams
Nurturing the demon-seed soil
To hasten, the roots uncoil.
Betrayal beautified, and bright blue-eyed
Love’s insatiable thirst yet again denied.
But the billowing clouds still tumble through skies
While infernal horizons continue to rise.
Truth and beauty zephyr upon seraphim’s wing
Because Summer splendors in greater things…

Written by, Jackie Pollo

for what evil surpasses that
of which only love can derive?

I’ve seen it twice, but blind to some,
azure eyes, hypnotic in gleam.
know of the perversions yet to come,
dark beauty spells the unforseen.
a witness to enslavement, for I saw
words whispered of love linger.
celestial beasts, on weakness they gnaw,
feed on anguish with prying fingers.
how can such tender vices be denied,
from one whom beholds it in vain?
intentions from fulfilled to deprived
when love utters its own name.

Written by, Joel Anderson

Journalism graduate of Youngstown State University

 

This armor needs a spit shine

 

What once glittered like the ocean in the moonlight

Has now become dull and grey

When I first put it one I felt impenetrable

 Now the cracks are showing and I feel vulnerable

 

My noble steed that used to be so vibrant

Has aged worse than my suit

But we still have one more job to do

Because I still feel the need to rescue you

 

So grab my hand and jump on

The knight is young and we have many places to go

Chivalry may be dead

But I’m doing my best to bring it back

 

So keep your knife away from these cracks

For if you kill me you’ll have nothing left

But a dead man in dull armor

And that’s no way to end the Knight.

October 2012 Issue-

Moments are suspended in time. The instances where the mind reaches its limit, the fear of death, the horror of the unknown- those are the moments that stick with the soul forever, even if they are not wanted.

In this issue of the Raw Alternative‘s Poetry Section, we will dig deep into the realm of this month’s holiday with not only poetry, but some fiction works as well.  Let us all succumb to the mysteries of the night and the happenings when our eyes are closed. Because during those moments in the brink of terror, we are the most inspired and alive.

-Miranda Tusinac