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All posts for the month April, 2014

Rush circa 1977.

Rush circa 1977.

By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

Progressive rock, lovingly referred to as “prog,” originated in England and developed in the rest of Western Europe (reverse of classical music) in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. It developed from the aforementioned experimental, psychedelic, and space rock genres, all of which are sometimes associated more broadly nowadays as forms of art rock. Musicians/composers all of these attempted to recreated music in a more  artistic way drawing from visual art as inspirations for themes and concepts as well as literature… Much like how opera was always composed along side a libretto (script) as well as various other visual art forms like costume design.

Though the Beatles’ baroque pop elements and The Who’s rock opera reintroduced classical terms back to us, earlier in the 60’s and 70’s, progressive rock kept expanding on the overall musical complexity of the aforementioned which the flavors and textures instrumentation of the avant-garde instrumentations of experimental, psych and space pioneers. The standard 3-4 minute song that some of those pioneers still tried to adhere to turned to unabashed musical trilogies, epics that often stretched to 20 minutes (roughly equivalent to about one side of an album) or even 40 to 60 minutes in length (a whole album) like symphonic and jazz records in which one piece could possibly take up one whole side of a record or a whole record.

Indeed, artistic and literary concepts contributed to the eventually commercially successful psych/space rockers Pink Floyd, it was artists like Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Yes, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer that brought this term to even the radio, though the music was spliced into smaller parts or movements to accommodate radio play.

Perhaps the most imperative aspect of this first period in prog rock is the use of other instruments besides the standard guitar, bass, drums line up of most of rock’s history up to this point. The first most obvious is keyboards which each of its precursors re-established as well. (Brian Eno, experimental; Ray Manzarek, psychedelic; Richard Wright, space.) These keyboardists as well as the undeniable guitarists of the 60’s and 70’s such as Hendrix and Clapton (particularly his work in Cream) that were already established as great musicians kept fostering the reverence for virtuosity on said instruments but others as well.

This aided in the eventual symphonic accompaniments of Tull’s work and caused people to reexamine works such as The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed which ended up becoming a commercial success for them and subsequently paved the way for classics such as Yes’ Yes Album and Close to the Edge, King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s self titled debut LP.

In North America, few bands followed this movement but the ones that did saw great respect. Bands such as Starcastle, Happy the Man, and highly recommended pick, Crack the Sky, had seen limited success relatively speaking but still have devoted fans to this day. Alan Parsons Project and the Electric Light Orchestra saw more success as they were a bit more radio friendly and as even more radio friendly hybrids inevitably came about like Southern rock-prog such as Kansas, arena rock from many regions like Boston, Styx, Journey, GTRForeigner and Queen came about. It was in this roar of the arena rock movement of the pinnacles of prog, its sub-genres arena and math rock combined, Canadian band, RUSH.

Rush’s numerous epic albums moved prog rock back to some of its purest forms. They raised the bar for this genre as well as the aforementioned sub-genres that came about and most importantly to the soon to develop, Heavy Metal. In fact, besides the other obvious proto/traditional metal acts such as Black Sabbath (and arguably Led Zeppelin) which shaped its heaviness it was bands such as Rush that shaped the technicality and speed that would find themselves prime features of what most people think of when they think of metal in its broadest, or perhaps most popular, terms.

Meanwhile, in Germany, Kraftwerk put out their famous lengthy epic, Autobahn, and then several Italian and French acts followed those sort of prog rock waves. In fact prog rock in its most pure form still enjoys a following attracted by even the most obscure of European bands. However, nothing was as successful as bands like Rush who remained steadfast all through the second and third waves of prog rock as well as many the greats from the first wave who continued to record all through the decades and influenced much rock and metal into the 80’s and 90’s such as QueensrÿcheDream Theater, Tool, and modern acts as varied as Mastodon and Opeth, all of which I look forward to examining in my next series on the sub-genres of Metal. Stay tuned…

Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick (Part 1)

Crack the Sky – Sea Epic

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – From the Beginning

Rush – The Temples of Syrinx

Dream Theater – A Mind Beside Itself II: Voices

Tool – Parabol/Parabola

 

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Incentive. Photo courtesy of the official Facebook page.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Magnificent talent lurks from every crack and corner of Northeast Ohio. Many can be seen slugging it out for dominance in local clubs and bars. Yet some fly under the radar, spreading like a disease around you before finally creeping out at the last possible second, and altering your idea entirely of what the scene is, can and should be.

Such is the case for Incentive. Hiding along the shadows of the Canton, Ohio music scene, Incentive is a self-produced, self-released one-man post-industrial act. The music is comprised of distorted and contorted electronic noise, with hints of melody laid throughout. Similar to the likes of Coil and Cabaret Voltaire, Incentive utilizes the blatant noise and atmospherics of classic industrial, with hints of Post-Punk, Goth, IDM, Noise, and Witch house for a classic yet contemporary electro-industrial sound.

The man behind Incentive, James Osborne, said his musical influences’ roots lie across all plains of the electronic spectrum.

“In high school I listened to quite a bit of Japanese Noise, the old stuff from the Boredoms before they turned into more of a Kraut Rock-type group. I was also into industrial music a lot too, stuff like KMFDM and some of the works from Killing Joke,” said Osborne.

However, he said his perspective of the industrial genre is based more in imagery and ideas than a one particular sound.

“I think the best way to describe industrial music is not necessarily trying to categorize it by its sound, but by its mindset as well. When you look at a lot of early-80’s industrial videos and such, they all have very similar imagery. That sort of weird post-dystopian imagery and wastelands. I think it’s about trying to show the reality of industrialization, and now this post-industrialization that we’re living in,” said Osborne.

Incentive began making noise in 2003, experimenting with limitless boundaries of the process of creating machine-based music, with an indication of a broken human soul subtly strung throughout. By 2009, Incentive had compiled enough material for a debut release, No Justice, No Peace. Since then, he has released an album’s worth of music consecutively each year. Three of the more recent albums, Cyberpunk Age, Ascension of Isaiah and Prospect St., are available for purchase at Incentive’s official Bandcamp page.

Currently, Incentive is hard at work on yet another album, which is nearing completion.

“The album I’m working on right now, I’ve been working on since August. And I’d say it’s about 75 percent complete right now,” said Osborne.

Music is not the only trade Osborne has mastered. He has also launched the successful independent record label, Dystopiaq Records. Along with Incentive’s entire discography, Dystopiaq, which operates under and Creative Commons License, has released records from various experimental electronic bedroom artists, as well as a number of compilations featuring bedroom artists from around the globe. The label, which was founded in 2009, was designed to release and promote “products that put wrinkles in your brain.”

The label’s official Facebook indicates:

“Dystopiaq releases consistently unique and interesting cuts from the around the world. We primarily focus on a wide range of electronic music, but we have no issues with other styles.”

Osborne said Dystopiaq will continue to seek out and release distinctive talent, from whatever corner of the world it may lie.

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By Frank Myers

SO, as march draws to a close and our ear buds attempt to rest and regain their hearing lets look back at the shows that destroyed them to begin with. It was indeed a great month for Youngstown’s local music scene and all the thanks goes to the local bands, all the local venues, and of course the touring bands that passed through and graced our stages. Also, a huge thank you to Supporting Your Local Music for playing a huge hand in getting shows set up for the local bands and just doing what they do over there. Without all of these people and all of you fans coming together and working to keep this scene of ours allive it would all crumble!! So thank you to the fans as well.

The month of March was definitely started out with a blast as Idle Shades, Harnessing the Sun, and Amnesty for Astronauts took over the Brickhouse and owned the stage. This show was a blast and all three bands showed us why we love the local scene so much as they gave everything they had on that stage for the fans. It was a great time and the music was the perfect soundtrack for the evening of course.

Not to be outdone in March, The Spastic Hearts stepped up to the plate with a show at The Royal Oaks with their buddies from Idles Shades. If these two bands weren’t enough to draw a crowd and cause some noise and partying, Youngstown was also graced with the presence of The Sheckies all the way from South Jersey. If you have never seen a live performance by these guys you are missing out for sure. For a Thursday night show, the Oaks was packed and nobody was thinking about those morning alarm clocks they were going to have to face in the morning. Idle Shades were solid and fun to see as always, The Spastic Hearts stole eveyones hearts once again, and The Sheckies showed us how this rock and roll thing is done up in Jersey for sure. Huge thank you to The Sheckies for stopping in Youngstown to party with the people.

March wasn’t done rocking yet though, because next we had the St. Paddy’s Day show at Chipper’s featuring Amnesty For Astronauts, Baroque Monody, Pilot the Mind, Steven and the Damned, and The Days Before Empires. There was a great turn out for this show, despite the overflooding of cops on the streets for St. Paddy’s Day weekend. The bands put on a hell of a show and the beer flowed like water. It was a great evening.

Also, in March the scene saw the return of The Turbo Lovers to the stage for the first time in this year. Not only was it their return but it took place in the newest venue on the scene The Crawlspace in Girard. Always good to know B.J. Lisko and the guys are still serving up their brand of rock.

First in Space made sure they weren’t forgotten about this past month playing a show at The Royal Oaks with guests The Lady and The Monsters. I always enjoy seeing First In Space and they even raised the bar and debuted some new songs in their set list which the crowd seemed to enjoy. The Lady and The Monsters, from the Pittsburgh area, stepped up and made sure everyone remembered them at the end of the night as well by just doing there thing and making sure the crowd was with them.

Lastly, for the month of March I do want to give a heads up on some new album releases. First up we have Baroque Monody who released their album Empress (III)/Emperor(IV). Be sure to check this one out. The other album release this month was the long awaited Idle Shades release titled “Picture Perfect.” These guys have been playing the scene for a number of years now and I for one am looking forward to checking out their album.

So there you have it, a quick recap of the month. I know that is only a number of the shows that took place, and I apologize to those I didn’t get to. Keep your eyes open for future show dates and times as they are announced. Until next time, keep on rocking!!

 

By Frank Myers

deecracks-beyond-medication

Artist: DeeCracks

Album: Beyond Medication

Release Date: April 1

Rating: 10/10

Well everybody, the DeeCracks are at it again with their new album Beyond Medication. This is one I have been waiting on for awhile now and I was not disappointed a bit. The boys from Austria strike again with a full frontal assault of in your face fun time rock and roll. If you can listen to this album without bobbing your head or tapping your feet, then odds are you are deaf or just not really listening. From beginning to end this album is full of the punk rock sound that got me into the DeeCracks to begin with.

While listening to Beyond Medication I do find in some tracks where the band ventured a little more into a surf punk/rock type of sound, which I personally feel they blended quite well without losing their trademark sound. From beginning to end you have Mike playing the drums with the same fierce passion and timing we have all come to love, Matt with that raspy but fitting voice and those spot on guitar riffs, and Manu playing that bass like a true rock star! If you have never heard the DeeCracks before, what are you waiting for. This is a perfect album to start with.

Beyond Medication was released April 1 and I highly suggest just let go of everything going on around you and enjoy some kick ass tunes for awhile. May be the best purchase you make, ever!

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Liars

Artist: Liars

Album: Mess

Release Date: 3/24/14

Rating: 8/10

Despite bouncing rhythms and club-worthy dance beats, Brooklyn electro-art-punk act Liars dabble in dark, slightly uncomfortable subject matter. Coming off the success of 2012’s WIXIW, the group has cemented a contemporary yet satirical post-indie sound, the gets bodies moving and minds ticking.

With the release of Mess via Mute Records, Liars have continued to flirt with mainstream noise while still remaining completely under the radar. The album features the signature electronic sound the band has crafted over their decade-long career, but still shows signs of evolution and maturing. Powered by slamming synths and undeniable catchiness, Mess picks up right where WIXIW left off and continues to curve left of center throughout.

Kicking off with the highly-danceable “Mask Maker,” Mess establishes itself from the get-go and catches your attention. Seemingly feel-good tracks like “Vox Turned D.E.D.,” “Pro Anti Anti” and lead single “Mess on a Mission” offer an almost EDM feel, with hints of psychedelia. They sound similar to older Daft Punk, but with a much sharper edge.

However, Side B of Mess sees Liars taking a turn for the dark side. The aptly titled “Darkslide” and the menacing “Boyzone” feature an Autolux-meets-The Knife sound, quick with wit and febricity. Lengthy tracks “Perpetual Village” and “Left Speaker Blown” conclude Mess on a satisfying yet someone incomplete note. The album feels as if it’s going somewhere, but never quite gets there. Perhaps this was done intentionally, almost as the sounds of the previous record set the stage for this release.

All in all, Mess is top to bottom a pretty good listen. Some tracks like “I’m No Gold” and “Dress Walker” lean toward predictability, but nonetheless are solid and interesting. Standout tracks include “Vox Tuned D.E.D.,” “Pro Anti Anti” and “Darkslide.” For fans of Blonde Redhead, Autolux, The Knife, and perhaps even some newer electronic and EDM acts, Mess will serve as a pleasing listen.

Killer Be Killed. Left to right: Max Cavalera, Troy Saunders, Dave Elitch and Greg Puciato .

Killer Be Killed. Left to right: Max Cavalera, Troy Saunders, Dave Elitch and Greg Puciato .

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

The earth shook for fans of the Prog Rock/Metal community last year. When it was announced that members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, The Mars Volta and Soulfly were uniting for a secret project called Killer Be Killed, the buzz was immediate. As leaders of both modern progressive and heavy music, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon and The Mars Volta are held in high-regard as innovators. Coupled with the legendary Max Cavalera of Sepultura, Nailbomb and Soulfly fame, Killer Be Killed has been hyped as the supergroup of the generation for many.

The roots of Killer Be Killed were planted as early as 2011 when Cavalera and Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato announced that they would be working together on a collaborative project. Shortly thereafter, Mastodon bassist Troy Saunders and former Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch hopped on board, and the project was officially born.

As many feel the popularity and impact of heavy music has severely dwindled in American over the last 10 years, this project promises the best of the best of what America has to offer. And while many of the genre’s contemporary heavy hitters are popping up from across the Atlantic (France’s Gojira. Poland’s Behemoth, etc.), Killer Be Killed may serve as the United States’ best representation of heavy music in over a decade.

Cavalera is no stranger to the international metal scene. For nearly 30 years, his long-standing influential presence has been felt, beginning with Brazilian thrash and Nu Metal pioneers Sepultura, and continuing with his current project, Soulfly. Puciato and The Dillinger Escape Plan have been captivating audiences since the late 90’s, successfully bridging the gaps between punk, post-hardcore, metal and progressive with their extreme brand of music. The Mars Volta rose from the ashes of the post-hardcore movement and successfully carried the torch of Prog Rock throughout the 00’s, and Mastodon have served as possibly the biggest heavy act of the last decade, slaying audiences with their Tool-meets-Metallica brand of sludgy, thrashy Progressive Metal.

In March of 2014, Killer Be Killed released two tracks from their upcoming self-titled debut via Nuclear Blast Records. “Wings of Feather and Wax” and “Face Down” are first glimpses into what these Prog titans have laid upon the world. Both tracks lean more toward the styles of thrash, reminiscent of older Mastodon and Sepultura records, and far cries from another The Mars Volta or The Dillinger Escape Plan have ever released. Still, the musicianship is tight, and the music is heavy! Both Saunders and Puciato share vocals on these particular tracks, and their vocal harmonies match surprisingly well.

“It’s a bit of Sabbath-y doom, a bit of thrash, a bit of hardcore and punk,” said Puciato in a press release. “Of any of our bands, it sounds the furthest from mine.”

With elements of tried-and-true classic heavy metal with modern touches from some of the genre’s finest, Killer Be Killed is set for genre domination, as well as to make a bold statement for American music, perhaps to inspire more contemporary acts away from trendy and “core” sub-genres and back to original heavy music influenced by many of its modern offshoots. At any rate, Killer Be Killed is the sound of now.

Killer Be Killed’s debut is set to be release May 13 via Nuclear Blast. As of press time, no announcements of live dates or a tour have been made.

Soundgarden circa 1994. Left to right: Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Kim Thyall and Ben Shepard. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

Soundgarden circa 1994. Left to right: Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Kim Thyall and Ben Shepard. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

What happens when you take the dark sludgy riff of Black Sabbath, combine them with the mystique and high-pitched shrills of Led Zeppelin, add in a pinch of psychedelia before slamming it through a filter of punk? Soundgarden is what happens.

Formed in Seattle in 1984, Soundgarden were among the first of the “grunge” acts. Combining the sounds of early 70’s British heavy metal and early 80’s American punk and alternative, Soundgarden had carved a unique niche in the local underground, quickly attracting the attention of emerging Seattle record label, Sub Pop.

By the late 80’s, Soundgarden were the first of their peers to land a major record label deal, signing with A&M. Their second LP Louder Than Love sold over 250,000 copies and their follow up, 1992’s Badmotorfinger, would go gold.

By the time of Badmotorfinger‘s release, the grunge movement had already begun to sweep American like a plague. The Glam/pop metal of the 80’s had all but disappeared by the early 90’s, as a more cynical, intellectual and anti-establishment musical movement took hold. And ttrailing in the footsteps of breakthrough Seattle acts Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden were poised to soon take the reigns.

By 1994, grunge was at the height of its popularity. So much so, that many of the genre’s pioneers had declared the scene “dead.” However, that wasn’t the case, especially for who was arguably the genre/scene’s founding entity.

Soundgarden took the alternative scene by storm in 1994, releasing their iconic masterpiece, Superunknown. The album was their most concise work to date, with songs that showcased both maturity and a fierceness of a band at the peak of their prime. The sound and production, thanks largely to producer Terry Date, was thick and full, yet the raw primal energy is still very obvious. It’s well-produced without being over-produced. Overall, Superunknown stands as a clear indicator that Soundgarden had grown comfortably into their own skin.

The album kicks off with the droning sludging riff of “Let Me Drown,” a common sentiment of the grunge mentality. However, the second track almost trades the trademark angst for a Zeppelin-esque crooner with a funky, yes funky, bass line on “My Wave.” The single “Fell on Black Days,” follows, with implementations of odd time signatures and Eastern rhythms, the song may be the most diverse grunge radio hit of all time, as it still can be heard all over active rock radio. From there, the heavy and undeniably catchy riffs of “Mailman” and “Superunknown” before leading into the mystically manic depressive “Head Down.”

The next track would prove to be their biggest, perhaps definitive song. “Black Hole Sun,” with its use of the common loud-quiet-loud grunge formula with a psychedelic twist, has become a staple for rock radio and the band’s live set list. The accompanying music video, complete with face-distorting and the death of the planet, became an instant hit, and is widely considered one of the most artistic videos ever produced. Following it is the almost equally-iconic “Spoonman.” Written about a local performer named Artis the Spoonman, he is featured on both the track and music video.

Two of Superunknown‘s darkest tracks, “Limo Wreck” and the single “The Day I Tried to Live,” begin side two with a slower and darker lyrical take. The punkish “Kickstand” breaks the tension before “Fresh Tendrils” and the doom-y “4th of July” encompass the listener. Another Eastrn-style track “Half” leads the album into it’s bleak closer, “Like Suicide.”

Superunknown has been regarding a critical and commercial success, being widely well-received upon its release, selling over nine million albums worldwide. Lyrically, Soundgarden has always flirted with the dark side, and this record is no exception to that. However, despite it’s use of odd time signatures, dark lyrical themes and tendency for not-so-easy listening, the album skyrocketed into the mainstream. By the late 90’s/early 00’s, rock radio was full of acts highly influenced by Soundgarden and Superunknown in particular. From Days of the New’s use of alternate tuning to acts like Staind, Seether, Puddle of Mudd and so on and so forth, the influence of Soundgarden is too obvious at times.

Soundgarden released the slightly less-successful Down On the Upside in 1996 before calling it a day in 1997. Drummer Matt Cameron went on to play with Pearl Jam, where he is a current full-time member, and Chris Cornell went on to release three solo albums and front the supergroup Audioslave from 2002-2007 with ex-members of Rage Against the Machine. High demand for a reunion was asserted by fans and promoters alike and by 2010, Soundgarden announced a reunion tour and performance at the year’s Lollapalooza Festival. They stated that rather than reuniting for money, they waited until the time was right. In 2012 they released King Animal, to positive reviews and reception.

This year, Soundgarden will embark on a 24-date U.S. tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Superunknown alongside Nine Inch Nails (also celebrating a milestone album) and Death Grips.

All in all, the influence of Superunknown is one of the most long-standing of it’s generation. Contemporary post-grunge and metal acts site the album as a key influence, and it’s singles are still heard all over mainstream radio to this day. As a rejuvenated Soundgarden soldiers on into a new decade and new era, Superunknown remains an archetype for what the band can achieve in the future.

 

Rage

By Mike Binder

break?

break.

calm, calm.

rage!

 

fifty percent of me

doesnt know what the other half is thinking.

i know its not the time to rhyme,

but the reason in me has started drinking.

its impossible to tell the difference

between reality and what i make myself hear.

is this what im really feeling, babe?

or is this what my other me makes it be?

 

break?

break.

calm, calm.

rage!

 

chopped up into syllables

a sentence becomes only what we can read.

reading between the lines is fine,

cuz sometimes that space is all that we need.

a circle is a circle cuz it never stops rounding,

but the end is what we are all searching for.

these symbols in a row will bind you.

but what they mean can define you, confine you.

 

break?

(break it into little pieces).

break.

(bomb down until it ceases).

calm, calm.

(pent up in this cage…

until all you can feel is my)

rage!

 

break me into shards,

and then piece me together.

break me and im apart.

i done binged and now i shall purge.

calm i feel as i write this.

calm im locked up in this cage.

rage.

 

break?

(break it into little pieces).

break.

(bomb down until it ceases).

calm, calm.

(pent up in this cage…

until you can feel all my)

rage!

Unfaire

By Mike Binder

Most times, I beckon for metal…black death, it just seems to settle the emptiness in me. I know I’m not that deep, but sometimes it soothes the subterrianial discomfort in me.  Like I said: I ain’t.  I am my own worst enemy.  Seriously, I’ve become a mental amputee. Miserably, the limbic system I’ve tried so hard to cultivate has created its own destruction. You pressed that button, and I expect that you’ll accept its reprecussions.

There’s no need for a chorus, that submission would only bore us.  Your soul is too pourous, please let me fill the cracks, it’s all for us.

The anarchy.

Is in the hyprocrisy.

The gears stopped turning, but I believe we can rise again. The Phoenix has its own regrets…even as she burns, we’ve let us…(get us) past the implantation of this hypothetical fetus.  It’s a shame that what now grows between us has been suffocated by the tourniquet that we let choke us dead. Now spread your ears and let me fuck your mind, just open wide. You’ve paid the price to let me confide.

There’s no need for a chorus, that submission would only bore us.  Your soul is too pourous, please let me fill your cracks, it’s all for us.

The anarchy.

Is in the hypocrisy.

Ghost limbs and phantom prostethics, bearing the spirits of what used to be.  I know what was there, I know what’s there; but I can’t… I refuse to bare; I beg to pull your hair. It’s not fair.  I paid the fare to enter your secret lair, and it makes me sick that you’re so laisse faire, it’s just not fair.  It makes me sick that you’d think that I’d pick this. A random roulette assassinating a million white picket fences, I’m just your menace…ill pay my pennence, just get on your knees first.