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All posts for the month May, 2014

Black Sabbath circa 1974. Photo courtesy of vh1.com.

Black Sabbath circa 1974. Photo courtesy of vh1.com.

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

From the heavier progressive music of the 70’s came what we now we know as Heavy Metal in its most pure form. Traditional Metal, Doom Metal and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal all had their beginnings in England. Grandfathers of all Metal with a specialty in Doom, Black Sabbath, defined the darkness, thickness and heaviness that was with obvious roots in blues and psychedelic rock. Other bands that helped forge heavy metal showcased these elements as well as proficient guitar skills and extended soloing that many of the experimental genres artists before them engaged in.

The first proto-heavy metal bands such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple attracted arena-sized shows similar to the previously examined prog rockers and arena rockers. However, the grandiosity was more focused within the size and scope of the riffs more so than the technicality of the musicians. As such artists began to rise in popularity and Black Sabbath really began to set the “tone” for darkness with Tony Iommi’s sound and slow heavy sound and Ozzy Osbourne’s lyrics provided a blueprint for overall themes in much of early metal. By the mid 70’s, Judas Priest helped the genre evolve a bit past where the forefathers derived most of the heaviness, the blues. It was more “straight up” like what many would describe as “hard rock” today. Around the same period, Motörhead reintroduced the speed in rock not dissimilar to some of the early punk rock.

But it was with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that metal gods such as Iron Maiden and Saxon followed in a similar vein but with the original heaviness and darkness paramount yet again. As such, NWOBHM came to dominate the heavy metal scene of the early mid 1980s. Bands such as Def LeppardDiamond HeadTygers of Pan TangTankRavenDemonSamsonSweet SavageJaguarAvengerBlitzkriegGirlschoolAngel WitchWitchfynde,  Persian Risk and White Spirit featured the fast upbeat songs thought of when many audiences think of Metal in a general sense. The distinct mysterious harmonies, power chords, solos and melodic vocals with themes based on mythology returned similar to founding fathers’ Zeppelin and in addition sometimes the dark mystical lyrics similar to Sabbath and often went a step further.

However, Iron Maiden continued on to become extremely progressive, and other places in the world picked up on this music especially into the 80’s. As the English movements lead up to what would become the first to call themselves other subgenres in other countries, one remained the same to this day. Doom, which is where Metal came forth after stewing in blues and experimental rock, such as psychedelic and prog, and will remain undead in Tony Iommi.

Doom is the root of Metal just as Blues is the root of Rock. Pagan AltarWitchfinder General and of course, the previously examined My Dying Bride are great British Doom acts. Of course other countries went on to produce some great doom, in United States, PentagramSaint VitusTrouble and in Sweden, Candlemass and Count Raven, all acknowledge a reverence for doom and traditional metal the sub-genres that they are known for now (US – Thrash, and Sweden – Black Metal) both of which will be examined as geographical phenomena later in this series.

Indeed with Metal in general, Doom and NWOBHM, several sub and sub-sub-genres evolved and will be discussed as phenomena in specific geographical regions. Though England’s Venom brought us the term Black Metal at roughly the end of the NWOBNM movement, we’re going to see how it became a phenomenon in the Scandanavian lands next.

For now, enjoy these essential tracks spanning many Traditional Metal/Doom and NWOBHM and check out the previous Picks of the Week which I played on the radio.

Black Sabbath:

Angel Witch:

Iron Maiden:

Pagan Altar:

Venom:

Off! left to right, Dimitri Coats, Mario Rubalcaba, Keith Morris and Steven Shane McDonald. Photo courtesy of alternativepress.com.

Off! left to right, Dimitri Coats, Mario Rubalcaba, Keith Morris and Steven Shane McDonald. Photo courtesy of alternativepress.com.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Cheif)

Punk outfit Off! can easily be described; simple and powerful. In an era of bloated production and YouTube stardom, Off! provide a minimalist blast of fresh air. Their intensity and DIY attitude say it all, and no where is this more prominent than on their latest release, Wasted Years.

Formed in 2009, Off! is comprised by punk legends Keith Morris (Black Flag/Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Steven Shane McDonald (Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket From the Crypt, Hot Snakes). Their vintage punk rock sound incorporates elements and ascetics of early 80’s hardcore, proving refreshing in a moden musical climate.

Many in the punk community can attest that the national scene has been in decline since the rise of corporate punk-pop acts like Blink 182 and Good Charlotte in the late 90’s and early 00’s. The punk revival of the mid-90’s had taken a backseat, as emo/screamo, punk-pop and quasi-hardcore acts rose to dominance over the last decade. However, the punk scene, like a plague of cockroaches, refused to die off despite how popular and commercial said genres became. However, as a sign-of-the-times, Off! are at the center of yet another resurgence, and an even more grassroots punk rock movement.

Off! released their second album, Wasted Years, in April 2014 to overwhelming positive reviews. Fans of the members’ previous projects are been embracive, as the sound varies little, yet stands on it’s own just enough to allow Off! a unique and memorable sound.

Wasted Years is in many ways a very complex record. Although all of the tracks don’t meet or barely meet the two-minute mark, the range of emotions vary. Lyrically, the album travels into dark territory, particular near it’s closing. Leading off with tracks “Void You Out” and single “Red White and Black,” Wasted Years comes out swinging offering no apologies. Tracks like “Legion of Evil” and “No Easy Escape” represent the tried and true classic punk ethos of nonconformity through constructive angst.

Lyrically however, more personal themes come into play with mid-album tracks like “It Didn’t Matter to Me,” “Death Trip on the Party Train” and “I Won’t Be a Casualty.” The honesty and emotional depth of the original hardcore movement becomes more obvious as the album soldiers forward. Finally, Wasted Years takes a twist of darkness on closing tracks “Time’s Not on Your Side,” “Meet Your God” and “Wasted Years.”

Wasted Years comes at the right time in music. As corporate rock continues to take hold, spouting out endless reunion tours of many acts prematurely past their prime, or a slight oversaturation of rock bands who are still making great music (Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters and even Queens of the Stone Age), Off! find ground not common settled in recent years. Their underground buzz has continued to grow, and mainstream attention is not far. Perhaps a little of that attention would not be so bad; to shed light on a new raw movement. The attention comes and goes. What remains consistent, is the pure intensity and raw emotion that is Off!

Entering the mid-2010’s, the influence of real punk and hardcore is as evident as ever. As long as fans are still pissed, still have something to say, still have something to believe in and still know a machine to rage against, Off!, as well as the subsequent movement, will always have a place among leather and spike-clad punks and hole-in-the-wall dive bars. And what better place to be!?

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Floor

Artist: Floor

Album: Obliation

Release Date: 4/29/14

Rating: 9/10

It’s been 12 long years since the world got their last taste of Florida-based Sludge act, Floor. The band stunned the underground metal and alternative community with their 2002 self-titled debut, only to disband two years later. Although the album and band were a little-known gem of that scene at the time, the years have been kind to Floor as word-of-mouth has garnered a strong cult following. This year, they return with their follow-up, Oblation.

Oblation picks up right were the band left off in 2004, offering an array of slamming down-tuned riffs and juxtaposed with soaring harmonious vocals. Unlike many others in the underground realm, Floor manage to maintain a balance of slamming guttural sludge metal with an almost knack for pop hooks strewn throughout.

Kicking off with the menacing title track, Oblation is ripping from the start. Tracks like “Rocinate,” “The Key” and “Love Comes Crushing” find a unique balance of dark brooding tones while remaining upbeat. Other cuts like “The Quill,” “War Party” and “Sign of Aeth” are almost more characteristic of Sludge metal, sounding somewhat along the lines of Jucifer.

Despite the overwhelming heaviness of Oblation, there is much more than meets the eye, or perhaps ear, to Floor’s music. There is an aesthetic more in tune with punk and alternative, as Floor often put their metal credibility on the line on Oblation, channeling something deeper. The heaviness is more about a feel, a mood, rather than a style. In some cases, the album may appeal more to fans of punk (and unfortunately hipsters) than fans of modern metal.

Oblation sounds as a natural progression for a band who may have left before the party got started. With a resurgence of Sludge/Doom/Stoner metal swarming through the underground, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for Floor to make a hopefully permanent comeback.

By William R. Soldan

 

…Somewhere on my journey I saw everything

Where the songs do grow

And the flowers can sing.”

—Swervedriver, “Ejector Seat Reservation”

 

Heading down Cedar

toward the city and

setting sun,

the sky’s a dichotomy of

gilded jet-streams and

creeping

violet

night

 

*

Flowing

below the marquee

of an abandoned theater

we collide

with an electric

neon glow

that I imagine would seem

otherworldly

reflected in a rain puddle

 

if only

it had rained

 

*

Inside,

perched in the corner

near a graffitied

cigarette machine,

we wonder if he’ll

be here:

 

an old friend from

some years back

 

There, she says,

at the bar

 

*

He sees us,

at first perhaps just shadows,

but we resolve in his vision,

and recognition

shapes his face

 

We engage in the ritual

of those who

had once shared a

similar descent,

and I’m fascinated by the

degree to which

some things change

and some things

stay the same

 

*

The show starts

and the crowd thickens

 

I catch a glimpse

of a leather-clad cat

looking like he stepped

straight outta

Superfly

 

And suddenly I wish

I could grow

an afro

 

I hurry to the head

and there decide

I dig this place,

all its

in-your-faceness:

 

layers of spray paint

on the walls—check

stall w/ no door—check

toilet clogged with . . .

—check

 

my kind of joint

 

*

Outside,

Congregated in the cold night,

our old friend says the show

was like melted tires on the moon

 

and I say,

Yeah,

that’s about right

 

*

so after seven years

we’ve reconvened

and after several hours

again take leave

 

the same

but different

 

*

Past our normal hour

we decide to take

the long way home

 

as the moon waxes

beyond the glass

and we muse on life’s

cyclical nature

 

cherishing

who we were

 

and who

we are.

Idle Shades, left to right: vocalist/bassist Angelo Scordo, drummer Anthony Rapone and guitarist Josh Wakeford.

Idle Shades, left to right: vocalist/bassist Angelo Scordo, drummer Anthony Rapone and guitarist Josh Wakeford.

By Frank Meyers (Opinion Nation)

I just got a chance to sit down and take a listen to Idle Shades recent album release Picture Perfect. and I first want to say way to go guys. The Idle Shades are one of the few bands still around that I remember from when I first started going downtown to local shows. I have plenty of memories watching them open shows for Johnie 3, who as we all know is no more. I can honestly say that over the years they have done a great job at fine tuning their material and working their way into their own little thing. Their live shows are high energy and non stop rock, so I was anxious to see how that transferred over to CD.

From the opening chord on the first track, “Leaving Me Behind,” to the final chord of the 11th track, “Tomorrow,” Idle Shades put together a very tight and great sounding record of straight up rock and roll. The music is upbeat and energy driven, the vocals are very fitting for what they are doing, and the lyrics are well written and for the most part give the feeling of real thought and a sense of sincerity to some extent. There are moments in a few songs where I can catch a slight reminder of old school Bad Religion vibes in there, which I really enjoyed. All around this album was worth the wait.

I am glad to see that another great band from Youngstown has put out some take no prisoners rock and roll and didn’t conform to anyone else’s standards but their own!! The music scene in Youngstown is looking up people, and the Idle Shades have been working their asses off for years now and are a big part of what is going right in it, and Picture Perfect is definitely an album that is right there at the top and will be in my playlist for years to come. So, I just want to say thanks to the band for their hard work they put into what they do for our listening pleasures!!

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By Frank Meyers (Opinion Nation)

So, April has come and gone already. Let’s take a look back and see what Youngstown had going on. I can tell you that good times rolled and the beers flowed. It was a bit of a slower month in the way of shows for this guy here. With that being said, the shows I did make it out to where all awesome.

One of the highlights of April for me was getting to see the Guilty Pleasures at Cedars on Good Friday. This is a group that I completely enjoy watching and listening to. It is made up of some older yet still very entertaining musicians from Youngstown and surrounding areas. Although there set is made up of cover songs, they still have a passion and love for what they are doing up on the stage, and you can feel a sense of gratitude between the band and all the fans that come out to their shows. You may not be getting the thundering, fast paced, take no prisoner style that many of the younger local bands are bringing to stage nowadays, but there is nothing wrong with a fun, laid back, live in the moment type of show from time to time, and the Guilty Pleasures are definitely the ones who will give you that.

Also in April, we had the return of White Cadillac to the stage for their first show of 2014.They made their return at the Royal Oaks with guest The Whiskey Daredevils. There was definitely a great turnout for this one as White Cadillac made sure the fans remembered why they have been waiting so eagerly to see them live again. These guys own not only the stage, but the entire venue when they show up and start to play. Just watching the crowd interaction and feedback you would think you were at a stadium show to see one of the great metal bands from the 80’s or something. Hard not to have a good time.

A very appreciated change of pace came later in April when Cedars hosted Penguins in Bondage: The YSU Frank Zappa Ensemble. The second time seeing this and it was just as good if not better than the first. Would have never thought that I would enjoy anyone doing covers of Frank Zappa songs, especially a college ensemble. Well, lets just say that those thoughts were silenced very quickly. This was a great night with a very diverse crowd of people attending. There was the young crowd in their band t-shirts and jeans, drinking their cheap beers while listening to some great music. Then the other part of the crowd was the older more mature part with their dress clothes and glasses of wine. Sitting idly at the bar enjoying the show from a distance. Not that there is anything wrong with either, it is actually quite refreshing and in some ways a testament to the diversity in the Youngstown music scene.

These are just the highlights of the shows I was able to attend in April. There were other things that took place in April such Chapless Larry at Chippers Sports Bar which I heard was a great show. I know Amnesty for Astronauts played in Fernengels in Salem with Days Before Empires, and I can only imagine how great that must have been. Also, I know Steven and the Damned had a show or two I was unable to make. Along with others that I am sure were great shows. Unfortunately you can’t make them all.

May is now here and some stuff to keep your eye out for: May 10 at Cedars The Spastic Hearts, Turbo Lovers, and special guest from Chicage Voice of Addiction. May 10 at Crawlspace Amnesty for Astronauts and Pilot the Mind May 16 at Cedars Baroque Monody, Pilot the Mind, and Harnessing the Sun Just a few, be sure to pay attention for other dates in the near future.

Orwellian left to right: guitarist Seth Kesinger, drummer James Shaw, vocalist Ian Pethtel, bassist Mark Moats and guitarist Rickie Palmer. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

Orwellian left to right: guitarist Seth Kesinger, drummer James Shaw, vocalist Ian Pethtel, bassist Mark Moats and guitarist Rickie Palmer. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief

Imagine George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian state. Human thought and emotion have been eradicated in order to make way for a mechanized, mundane existence. Then, suddenly, mankind’s natural individuality begins to spread like a virus. A bloody revolt ensues, and the power of the human soul, ideas and expression, are all raging against the system.

Now, imagine a soundtrack to this conquest: The brutality; the struggle; the rage. Northeast Ohio’s aptly named Orwellian comes to mind in doing so.

Orwellian is an extreme metal outfit comprised of some the of the area’s HEAVIEST hitters. Lead by Kitchen Knife Conspiracy frontman Ian Pethtel on vocals, the band features guitarists Seth Kesinger (ex-IO) and Rickie Palmer (Postpwn3d), bassist Mark Moats (ex-Dawn Abandoned) and drummer James Shaw (ex-Paradym). Their fusion of death metal, black metal and grindcore, along with the unique influence of the members’ various projects, offer a distinctive sound spanning nearly the entire spectrum of extreme heavy metal.

“We kind of take a little bit of everyone’s influences and throw them into one style,” said Moats.

Orwellian has been in the works for several years. After the demise of IO, Kesinger began writing music with a handful of others before solidifying the final lineup. With the final addition of his former bandmate, Pethtel, Orwellian had come full circle and began focusing their creative energy on something new and distinct.

“It’s really just about bringing something to the table,” said Kesinger. “Then whoever’s there or not there can really just start expanding upon it. It’s really free, anybody can bring an idea to the table. If it sucks we’ll tell you, if it’s awesome we’ll keep it.”

“We’re not trying to stick to a certain genre or sub-genre. If it works, it works. We’re very critical, but it works. We’re not afraid to tell each other if something’s not working,” added Pethtel.

The raw emotion and range of influence is certainly present in the band’s music. The chugging riffs of “Novel of Despair” and the slamming-yet-melodic “The Gift” offer a look into what Orwellian does best; the thinking man’s death metal. These tracks perfectly surmise the rage of an individual whose been stripped of their being through a hierarchy of power. Pethtel’s signature growl offers an unbridled sense of brutality, matched flawlessly by the band’s very intense, yet very musical style. Tracks like the Fear Factory-esque “Tyrant” and “Abandoned (in Flames)” also indicate the band’s socio-political quip, living fully up to their name.

Orwellian debuted live at the Crawlspace Concert Club in Girard, Ohio in March of this past year. Since then, they have brought their brand of metallic brutality to dominance with explosive performances at the Outpost in Kent, Ohio. According to the band’s official Facebook page, this is only a taste of what’s to come:

“Here the story only begins for Orwellian. Where they’re going and what they do is left in their own hands. All we know is… it won’t be pretty.”

Orwellian is set to play Wedgewood Ramps in Austintown, Ohio alongside Youngstown-based thrash outfit Chaos Reigns, Warren metalcore masters Among the Fallen and post-hardcore punks Them Bastards on May 10. They will also be returning to the Outpost on May 31 for a headlining set with support from Chaos in the Sky and Cherry Poppins.

Stream exclusive Orwellian tracks here.

Orwellian Poster

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

Modern Prog Supergroup Killer Be Killed Ready Debut

IN THIS ISSUE:

Music

Ms. Rose

Art

Scene

Poetry