Ian Pethtel

All posts tagged Ian Pethtel

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By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

On the eve of the release of their debut album, Orwellian vocalist Ian Pethtel and guitarist Seth Kensinger have much to be excited about. After nearly two years and some personnel changes, the band’s massive debut, Visions of the Future, has been cut, printed and already made available for online streaming. If that we’re enough, the Northeast Ohio metal titans will be opening for modern metal giants All That Remains at the Agora in Cleveland on May 17 and are set to headline the indoor stage at one of the summer’s biggest local festivals, SYLM’s Local Kickback in Austintown, Ohio on June 13.

After captivating audiences across the NE Ohio scene with a unique brand of heavy, melodic and technical heavy metal, as well as opening for a slew of national acts along the way, Orwellian have quickly established themselves as the act to watch. With Visions of the Future, Kensinger described the importance of pin-pointing the energy of the group with their first release.

“It’s just capturing that moment in time, as the band is forming,” said Kensinger. “I think our debut album is going to be interesting because you may hear things on this album you may never hear again. We’re going to just continue to grow as musicians from here.”

Despite the release of Orwellian’s debut, Kensinger and Pethtel are no strangers to the scene. Several years ago, they performed together in the band IO several years back. Pethtel has also kept busy serving as the vocalist for area legends Kitchen Knife Conspiracy, who also released a highly anticipated new record back in March.

“I’ve been working with them (KKC) on the new record since I joined in 2010. We just now in the last year really hit the studio to lay down the new tracks. So if anything, I’d say by the time I went in to do the Orwellian album, I was already in studio mode,” said Pethtel.

Visions of the Future certainly does capture Orwellian at a significant time in their career. As the creative fires are burn bright and hot, the band seize a rare opportunity to capture lightning in a bottle. Similar to debut albums from greats like Black Sabbath and Metallica or Carcass and Celtic Frost, Visions of the Future boasts Orwellian’s signature, timeless sound, while moving the genre further ahead at the same time. Tracks like the blistering closer “Kodiak” and concert favorite “Novel of Despair” showcase both the band’s raw intensity and knack for technicality and musicianship. Because of this, Orwellian balances two extremes of underground and slightly more accessible heavy music.

“We’re not a technical death metal band per se, but we’re not like All That Remains or In Flames’ later, more radio-geared material. I think we have a good mix of a bit of technicality, some groove, and some catchy shit. A little something for everyone, hopefully,” said Kensinger.”

They also discussed the state of the current local music scene of which they are a part of and the importance of helping to build that scene, while not over-saturating their own hometown and fan base.

“I think if we were to play Youngtown too much, eventually nobody’s going to come,” said Pethtel. “Because they know that if they go next week they can see us, or possibly wait for a free show.”

Pethtel continued that because Youngstown is a smaller scene compared to other markets such as Cleveland, there is more opportunity for success in a “less is more” approach.

“When we play out of town, the response is better. Youngstown, to me, is still rebuilding its scene. Whereas when we play out of town, we get a lot more random drifters through the door. We like to play less hometown shows with more of an impact. That way, when we play to our friends in town, it gives us the confidence boost to win over audiences in other big cities,” Pethtel said.

“Networking is a plus,” added Kensinger. “We get new fans and make new connections at every show.”

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One issue many local bands face in trying to play larger shows and venues outside of their hometown is ticket sales. Promoters or venue managers often require bands to participate a pre-sale in order to determine an accurate number of attendees and to pay the bands based on their pull. This is a controversial method however, as many local acts argue that the very reason they’re attempting to book these venues is for greater exposure, and the idea of a pre-sale can make it difficult to do so. Orwellian have an interesting take on the matter, not shying away from ticket sales, but carefully choosing their involvement.

“We got lucky and got hooked up with a guy at the Agora that’s no bullshit. And we don’t bullshit him. We don’t say we’ll sell 50 tickets and show up with 10. We’re honest with him and we work hard to do it,” said Kensinger.

“It’s not easy, but you’re never going to get the show opportunities if you don’t do it. Because there’s always 10 other bands that will do it,” added Pethtel.

Regarding the growing number of local summer music festivals, Pethtel and Kensinger said they believe it’s a great opportunity to grow the scene, play to different crowds and experience a unique limelight.

“You get to see how many people are really about supporting local music, how many people really care about it. Why would you not want to have a festival? Why would you not want as many chances as you can to put local bands in their best light?” said Kensinger.

As for the future of Orwellian, they are still ecstatic to release the record, which has been a long-time-coming for fans and the band alike.

“I can’t wait for everyone to hear this, mainly because of Ian’s vocals. I think he’s really going to surprise a lot of people with what he’s done on this record,” said Kensinger.

“I am incredibly happy with it. I think this is the first time I’ve recorded where I’ve gone back over it a hundred times and thought, ‘wow, there’s not much if anything I’d want to change,'” finished Pethtel.

Orwellian are planning a major hometown release for Visions of the Future by the end of this summer. In the meantime, it is available for streaming via the band’s official Reverb Nation page and physical copies will be available at their upcoming performances at the Agora in Cleveland on May 17 and the SYLM Local Kickback at Chipper’s Sports Bar in Austintown on June 13.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Seven Deadly Sins

Artist: Kitchen Knife Conspiracy

Album: Seven Deadly Sins

Release Date: 3/7/15

Rating: 9/10

For music fans in the Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania region, it’s very likely that Kitchen Knife Conspiracy are a household name. For nearly two decades, the self-proclaimed “Stompcore” act have offered an endless onslaught of battering rhythms, chugging guitars and horror-themed lyrics to the masses. But to write KKC off as just another act is the seemingly endless pool of death metal bands should be considered a “deadly sin.” The regional mainstays have transcended a multitude of fads and genres, balanced personal careers and side-projects, experimented sonically while only continuing to intensify and have influenced countless local acts over the years. Their lyrics, although violent, contain a stabbing social-awareness and razor-sharp wit, often sprinkled with a Cannibal Corpse-esque sense of humor. Like it or not, Kitchen Knife Conspiracy are the original “pimp daddies” of the Youngstown music scene.

It has been nine long years since KKC released their last album, 2006’s A Friend in Need… Is a Friend to Kill. Since then, a lineup shift saw the departure of guitarist Kevin Lewis and original vocalist John Prosenjak. Enter new frontman, Ian Pethtel (ex-IO, Secondhand Suicide, and currently of Orwellian). The local metal veteran joined KKC now several years ago, and is recently featured on their long-awaited new album, Seven Deadly Sins.

Seven Deadly Sins features Kitchen Knife Conspiracy on their most ambitious musical escapade yet. As the band examines each of the actual seven deadly sins, an emotional, often piano-driven instrumental serves as the calm-before-the-storm before all of the hellish fury of each individual sin is to be unleashed. With these instrumentals, largely composed by drummer Fred Whitacre, a stage is set allowing each of the following tracks an opportunity to stand out in a unique way.

The album opens with “The Wrath,” an instrumental leading into the blistering and soon-to-be concert favorite, “Buried By the Hatchet.” Another anger-fueled rouser, “Violent Eclipse,” follows before leading into “The Greed” and “Triple Six Fix,” another stomper with Pethtel bellowing, “Openly plan your fame, deceivingly win it all, now that you’re on the run, is the risk worth the reward? You’ll burn as they overcome.”

The middle section of Seven Deadly Sins begins to emphasize the band’s growth as songwriters.

“The Sloth” leads into “Acedia,” another standout track featuring the ruthless grind of guitarist Jeremy Cibella with some of his most clever riffs to date. The following track, “Red Ghost,” is also a highlight from the album. From the haunting yet soulful backing vocals and equally haunting piano lines provided by Whitacre, to the ingenious melodic bass lines from Johnny Kihm, this track is like no other in KKC’s repertoire. Off all tracks, “Red Ghost,” in many ways, feels like a band coming together on all creative fronts, with the whole truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Kitchen Knife Conspiracy. Left to right, guitarist Jeremy Cibella, bassist Johnny Kihm, vocalist Ian Pethtel and drummer Fred Whitacre.

Kitchen Knife Conspiracy. Left to right, guitarist Jeremy Cibella, bassist Johnny Kihm, vocalist Ian Pethtel and drummer Fred Whitacre.

“The Pride” enters into “Doomcult,” led by a (somewhat) slowed down, melodic Doom riff. “The Lust” brings us “Desire For the Dead,” another perfect example of KKC’s lyrical ability to balance both grotesque and thought-provoking imagery. “The Envy” gives us the slammers “They’re All Dead in There” and “I Don’t Have Anything,” with more brutal riffage and technical prowess.

Finally, Seven Deadly Sins concludes with “The Gluttony,” giving us another track most likely to become a fan-favorite; “A Vile Sense of Taste.” With a straight-forward attack, it’s reminiscent of the band’s earlier material. Final track “The Seven Deadly Sins” closes the album on a similar note, with yet another haunting melodic piano performance from Whitacre.

In many ways, Seven Deadly Sins indicates how extreme metal can stimulate both the primal and intellectual components of the mind. KKC never fails to energize and get the blood pumping (or squirting). However, they also have used their intensity to paint a much bigger picture and there is much appeal to this new record. Musically, the band are not only just as ambitious as they were on earlier work such as 2000’s Sin Pathetic and 2002’s Handicapitated,” but their hunger has only intensified. The influence of individual side ventures is apparent as well. Last year, Whitacre released a solo album spanning a multitude of genres. His confidence as a songwriter shows, especially in the excerpts credited to him. Pethtel, having been working with Orwellian for the past year-and-a-half, has also seemed to keep him sharp, as anyone who as seen that band live would attest to.

All in all, Seven Deadly Sins is an ambitious piece musical mastery. Nine years worth the wait, as the album successfully keeps Kitchen Knife Conspiracy true to themselves, while offering a whole lot more. Stand out tracks include “Triple Six Fix,” “Acedia,” “Red Ghost” and “Doomcult.” Although, the endless brutality of “Buried By the Hatchet,” Desire For the Dead,” “A Vile Sense of Taste” and the title track are not to be counted out either. Although not for everyone, this record will secure the band’s legacy among die-hard fans and undoubtedly usher in a new generation of fans. If you like your music heavy, mean and thought-provoking, then Seven Deadly Sins is a must-have!

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.

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