Metal

All posts tagged Metal

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Artist: The Apocalyptic Fist of the Black Death

Album: Volume II: Born of a Broken Jar

Rating: 9.5/10

Hailing from the Cuyahoga Valley, experimental metal act The Apocalyptic Fist of the Black Death provide an avant-garde approach to modern extreme metal. Through the use, and misuse, of odd time signatures, samples and bone crushing riffs, they have stamped out a often-attempted-yet-rarely-successful niche. With a sound and approach falling somewhere between The Dillinger Escape Plan, early Mastodon and the Mike Patton-led Fantomas, the band fully and equally embrace experimentation and brutality, sacrificing nothing in between. Their live shows are proof of this.

Recently, AFOTBD dropped their sophomore EP, Volume II: Born of a Broken Jar. On this release, the band have successfully expanded upon their earlier work, while showcasing their signature sonic intensity. In a nutshell, there is no sophomore slump!

Volume II: Born of a Broken Jar opens with the brief but mood-setting instrumental, “Haunted.” With a beautiful and eerie minor key piano piece, mood and atmosphere are immediately established, lending the perfect segue to the first full track, “The Whole in Things.” This proggy little number gets right to the point, with a barrage of slamming riffs that aim straight for the jugular. The drum and guitar work immediately catch the ear, as their interplay and odd rhythmic structure are utterly infectious.

From there, “Charlie Murphy’s ‘True Hollywood Stories'” is packed with blast beat-to-chugging riff/drum interplay, with a grinding riff that commands your attention. Finally, the EP closes with perhaps its most ambitious track, the ten-minute “Born of a Broken Jar.” Grinding, chugging riffs lead off the track, before an almost blusey, Zappa-esque lick takes the track in a more groove-heavy direction. By it’s middle, this track gets very interesting, breaking down with a quieter, Middle Eastern guitar lick, reminiscent of the more ambitious moments of Nile, before building itself back into a soaring and slamming conclusion.

It’s safe to say that The Apocalyptic Fist of the Black Death are, without a doubt, among the most ambitious acts to emerge from the Northeast Ohio music scene, of really, any genre. With Volume II: Born of a Broken Jar, the already forward-thinking act have pushed their own envelope, creating a small but loud statement with the confinements of an EP. It leaves you on the edge of your seat, desperately craving more.

Key tracks would include all of them because well, there’s only four, and they all stand out quite well. However, the massive crescendo that is “Born of a Broken Jar,” the EP’s final cut, is nothing short of a masterpiece, that only gets better with repeated listens. All in all, a must-have for fans of experimental, heavy, progressive music.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

POTD

Artist: Psyclosarin

Album: Perceptions of the Damned

Rating: 9/10

Since 2011, Northeast Ohio Death Metal mainstays Psyclosarin have been offering up their unique take on the genre. With enough massive riff and slamming grooves to bring any mosh pit to its knees, the band have carved themselves a special niche on the scene. With dozens of high profile performances at notable venues such as the Agora in Cleveland, Psyclosarin have set the stage as one of the leading forces in a new generation of Extreme Metal.

With their latest release, 2016’s Perceptions For the Damned, Psyclosarin take the overt brutality of classic Death Metal and sprinkle in a slight but significant touch of the atmospheric drone of Black Metal for a refreshingly exciting collection of very heavy songs. Similar to the approach taken by acts like Behemoth and Vader on recent releases, Psyclosarin favor neither style over the other, but sacrifice nothing, keeping up with straight-forward yet extreme ethos of the hybrid sub-genre, Blackened Death Metal.

Perceptions of the Damned opens with the rousing title track. A true Death Metal Slammer complete with grinding riffs overtop blast beats for an unrelenting pulverizing track with a middle section vaguely reminiscent of Powerviolence and a closing guitar lead-to-final refrain that climaxes into the highest reaches of hell.

From there, the slow opening of “Limb from Limb” does nothing to prepare for the insanity that’s to follow. Crashing into a wall of chaotic, frenzied riffs, the track introduces some more Black Metal riffing styles for some serious textured sonic torture. “Thrown to the Wolves” offers more gigantic riffs while “All Hail None,” the undoubted standout of the first half of Perceptions of the Damned, boasts another wall of  massive guitars, but the real moments of genius hit just two-thirds into the song, as the song begins to shift into an unexpected slamming groove.

“Sever the Cord” begins with an interesting melodic swarm of guitars, taking a brief but welcomed left turn, before igniting into another nuclear assault of riffs and chaos. The Thrash-like riffs that hit by the middle of the song are also a definite highlight! “Born to Burn” showcases more of what Psyclosarin seem to do best, with twin guitar attacks shifts from Black to Death Metal-style riffing seemlessly. The album closes with the Thrashy “Rampage,” with riffs that rival the most technical and brutal moments from Machinehead.

All in all, Perceptions of the Damned is an unrelenting, ugly collection of songs that rarely comes up for air. Amidst the chaos, there are several moments of genius and some really well-crafted material that comes across to perfection. The production does great justice, by balancing the harsh technically to where nothing sounds sacrificed; a rare feat in the age of extreme digital compression. This record is Psyclosarin coming into their own, and serves as an exciting landmark of what’s they’ve done and where they’re heading. Standout tracks include “All Hail None,” “Thrown to the Wolves,” “Born to Burn” and the title track.

Watch the official music video for “Limb from Limb” by clicking here.

Annihilate performing at Freestock 2016. Photo by Katlyn Jackson Photography.

                                                    Annihilate performing at Freestock 2016. Photo by Katlyn Jackson Photography.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Since its inception over three decades ago, Hardcore music has utilized extremity to take a stand. Through Hardcore, the voice of a misanthropic youth was given a primal yet intellectual platform, to rage against a society gone mad. And through this blast of angst and energy, a message of hope and empowerment is brought to light.

Such is the tradition of this extreme extension of Punk Rock, a tradition proudly carried forward by the likes of Mahoning Valley’s newest powerhouse, Annihilate!

Annihilate began roughly a year ago as its members began searching for something they just weren’t getting from their previous bands. It wasn’t until these individuals came together and begin making noise, that a clear path was to be set.

“This band is more or less the product of two previous bands breaking apart. It started off as The Event Horizon which only Billy (Russell, vocals) was a part of at the time. One day he messaged me on Facebook telling me he liked my drum covers and that he wanted me to be their new drummer and that was about it,” said drummer Andrew Blose of the band’s formation.

Blose also said that it wasn’t until co-founding member Nick Cavicchi jumped to lead guitar that Annihilate really found it’s stride.

“Nick was actually playing bass with us for a while. It wasn’t until Annihilate that he started playing lead in the band. As ATI we were still having problems with writing music as well as other personal problems between members so we made the decision to let go of one of our guitarists, rewrite all of our songs and change the name to Annihilate. This was when we made the decision to start writing more Hardcore-driven songs,” said Blose.

Of the music of Annihilate, Cavicchi said that it was very akin to the classic Hardcore bands of the 80s, like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys for example, for rallied against the establishment and emphasized the ideas of individuality and empowerment.

“The music we write is in my own opinion pretty true to the OG Punk bands as far as the meaning goes. It’s about staying true to yourself and your friends. It’s pretty much like how Dead Kennedys said ‘fuck you’ to the establishment and the weak-minded people around them. What I think it means to be a Hardcore/Punk band these days is about just being yourself,” explained Cavicchi.

Annihilate vocalist Billy Russell. Photo by Katlyn Jackson Photography.

Annihilate vocalist Billy Russell. Photo by Katlyn Jackson Photography.

He added that the band is more concerned with it’s message of unity and keeping in step with those who seek it, rather than fame or glory, or the multitude of negativity from those who perpetuate such negativity.

“This band was founded around being friends and playing shows to our friends. Personally, I’m not in this for fame or anything like that. I’m in it to make a stand. I’m in it to write against racism and all the bullshit fascist mentalities people have. If people don’t like how we have songs against racists and weak people who bully people, then they can fuck off,” said Cavicchi.

Interestingly enough, 2016 has proven to be a big year for extreme music, particularly Hardcore. Rightfully so, bands such as Nails and Full of Hell have been in the national spotlight being featured in mainstream publications like Rolling Stone and Vice. The members of Annihilate feel that this is an exciting time indeed to see this music begin to flourish.

“I feel like it is a huge time for extreme music. You see more and more fans of heavier styles of music showing up left and right and it’s a great feeling. We’ve kind of been the ‘black sheep’ of the music scene for decades so it’s definitely awesome that metal is becoming more accepted in our culture. The music we know and create is making a huge impression on people,” said vocalist Billy Russell.

However, they are unsure as to whether or not they would fit in with it completely.

“We don’t really know if we fit into the scene or not. We’ve never really thought about it that way,” said Russell.

“Deciding whether or not we fit into a scene is kind of funny when you think about it,” added bassist Graham Kirk. “The whole rise of Punk rock was based on the idea of not fitting in and that idea stayed true when it evolved into Hardcore. But if the entire Hardcore scene is just a bunch of misfits looking for a purpose then you can count us in.”

Cavicchi explained that although this scene is taking off nationally, and regionally, it’s yet to catch on in their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.

“Our local scene in Youngstown is not so great for Hardcore music and fans. Regionally it’s alright, but Cleveland is where it seems to shine. Most venues here in Youngstown aren’t the biggest fans of the energy hardcore brings but I can see their angle. Cleveland, on the other hand, is pretty good for bands like us to play. Personally I’d like to see more venues open-minded to Hardcore and Punk bands playing even if the shows get wild. Those are the shows people remember for years,” said Cavicchi.

Annihilate guitarist Nick Cavicchi. Photo by Katlyn Jackson Photography.

Annihilate guitarist Nick Cavicchi. Photo by Katlyn Jackson Photography.

He also expressed the important of house shows and more DIY situations where the fans can be more directly involved.

“So for me, 2017 should be a year of more bands playing in Youngstown. Hell, even new bands can play house shows and not worry about what people think. Most bands around here are out for personal gain and I want to change that. We should come together and support each other. That too should be a big change made within the next year,” Cavicchi said.

More so than almost any other genre of music, Punk and Hardcore artists have always maintained a direct and somewhat personal relationship with their fans. The members of Annihilate are fully embracive of this practice and utilize social media to its maximum potential.

“Social media is definitely a great tool for gaining more of a following. We have all of these resources like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. at our disposal to connect with people from all around the world. They didn’t have that opportunity before the Internet crawled into the mainstream, so I’d say we’re pretty lucky to be a band in the generation we’re in as far as publicity is concerned. And I think shows should have a huge impression on the audience,” said Blose.

However, they indicate that a strong live show will leave the longest lasting impression on fans above all else.

“You want to captivate them in that moment and have them leave with something that isn’t tangible,” said Blose. “It takes more than standing in one spot and running through the motions to accomplish that. I’ve seen bands play that have impressed the fuck out of me musically, but they had one or two people watching them because they weren’t doing anything. They weren’t moving around, they weren’t interacting with the crowd; they just looked down at what they were playing the whole time and walked off stage when they were done. You’re only as good as you make yourself look.”

“As far as live shows go, I remember playing with Hatebreed and Acacia Strain when I was in Cherry Poppins and talking to Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed. He gave me advice on how to get fans to show more support and what it means to be a part of this scene and what he told me has stuck to me since. He said, ‘I remember playing in front of a crowd of 10 people. Going, setting up and performing, not knowing what is going to happen next, but it didn’t matter what happened next. All we wanted to do was give a message to people that we didn’t give a fuck what people think. Just go out there and make them want more every single fucking time.’ I remember that clearly because that showed me that the bands I look up to have been in the spot we are in and we have the potential of doing something great,” added Russell.

Annihilate has some big plans moving forward into 2017. As of October 2016, they’ve began work with Billy Duganne at Legion Productions on recording their debut EP, which the band hopes to release by year’s end. In the meantime, you can listen to Annihilate’s debut single, “3:15,” by clicking here.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

By the late 90s, the promising musical landscape that was “Alternative Rock” took a dramatic turn into strange, unsettling territory. And there was none more unsettling than that of Nu Metal.

This hybrid genre, comprised of post-Thrash groove metal, alternative rock and rap/hip-hop, left a very bad taste in the mouth of 90s alternative audiences. The decade that saw the rise and mainstream success of acts as influential and diverse as Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Kyuss, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana to name a few, fizzled out into an instantly nostalgic radio-rock wasteland.

Enter Nu Metal: A bastardized version of alternative metal which filled the gap between Electronica and third generation post-grunge.

Looking back, rock music was almost just as much an integral part of rap and hip-hop at its inception as anything else. DJs lifted just as many samples from 70s hard rock as they did from funk and soul. The idea of a slick, repetitive guitar riff under and funky beat was undeniably infectious, as proven on Run DMC’s rendition of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way:” The first major hybrid hit. Also, in the late 70s, punk and hip-hop were akin to one another, speaking socio-political truths to disenfranchised youth.

By the early 90s alternative scene, acts like Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine had emerged. With their aggressive heavy metal guitar overtop deep grooves and rap-like vocals, new audiences flocked. With the former taking it to experimental and avant-garde territories and the latter taking on a punk rock-esque political platform, the musical marriage undeniably made sense. By the mid-90s, angst-driven metal-ish acts like KoRn, Deftones and Limp Bizkit ushered in and solidified the sound of Nu Metal, taking the groove and hip-hop influence even further, with downtuned, bass-like riffs, screamed/growled vocals and later introduced a Turntable-spinning DJ as a predominant instrumentalist.

In its humble beginnings, the genre seemed just as promising as any of Lollapalooza-era offshoots. However, by the time of its peak mainstream accessibility, it failed to capture the admiration of either heavy metal or rap audiences. It instead found it’s niche in (predominantly) white suburban teen angst. The fashion choices of this scene are perhaps cringe-worthy enough (baggy clothes, overly-abundant accessories, poorly spiked hair), but what about the music itself? Here is a look at some of the best and worst the Nu Metal scene had to offer…

 

THE BEST

Incubus_make_yourself

IncubusMake Yourself 1999

Of all the acts from this scene, Incubus may have been the most musically diverse, and certainly had the best vocalist; Brandon Boyd. The album features signature scratching and rapped vocals, however, they are used sparingly and actually add quite a bit of flavor in contrast to Boyd’s impressive vocal range. Lyrically, the album isn’t as angst-y as most of its contemporaries either, and instead takes turns into the philosophical and ethereal. The album as a whole has more in common with post-grunge than KoRn. One could argue that if the scratches and raps weren’t present, it’d work as a decent Stone Temple Pilots record. The band would eventually abandon the signature Nu Metal sounds all together on future releases and explore more alt-rock territory on later releases.  Overall, Make Yourself holds up rather well almost two decades later.

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SlipknotSlipknot 1999

Perhaps the most aggressive and extreme of their contemporaries, Slipknot drove deeper and darker than your average teen angst Nu Metal act. The fact that they wore unique masks and dressed in post-dystopian-like jumpsuits worked as both a gimmick and the most initially intriguing aspect of the band. The music was ugly, and sounded just a bit more demented than the rest of the crop. Slipknot incorporated elements of Industrial, Thrash and Death Metal, along with distorted turntables, horror film samples and hard-edge rapped vocals (possible influence on Tech N9ne?). Their chugging guitars were not far off from those of Ministry. They would eventually go darker and heavier on their follow-up Iowa, before teaming with Rick Rubin for  more crossover appeal on 2004’s Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. Still, their debut stands out like a severed head in a period of mostly dormant heavy metal.

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SepulturaRoots 1996

Is it fair to label Sepultura a Nu Metal band? Absolutely not. The Brazilian quartet took Thrash metal into exciting new places in the early 90s with albums like Chaos A.D., and also made a name for themselves as an early Death Metal act in the late 80s. So what happened? Finding influence in their native Brazilian and African percussion-heavy “roots,” and looking to emerging acts like KoRn and Deftones, they teamed with producer Ross Robinson for something new and heavy. Robinson’s signature sound saw the band eliminating almost all high-end from their guitar sound, trading leads and guitar solos for low, downtuned riffage. For what it was, and when it was, its the perfect marriage of old and new school heavy metal. Both new and old fans embraced this momentary direction. Frontman Mx Cavalera would eventually abandon Sepultura entirely to go in a complete Nu Metal direction with his next, and currently still-running band, Soulfly.

Korn-Korn

KoRn KoRn 1994

It’s almost hard to believe this album came out at a time when Nirvana, Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins were dominating the rock landscape. The sound was at least three or four years ahead of its time, and no one sounded like KoRn before KoRn. Their decision to utilize (then-cutting edge) seven-string guitars and tune them a whole step lower, was something unheard of even in the deepest corners of extreme metal. Their riffs steered far away from traditional heavy metal by sounding more percussive, with all instruments locked into a tight, heavy groove. In ’94, Death Metal was still a very underground phenomenon, and this was the heaviest thing to alt-rock audiences since Pantera. As a result, it spawned a new approach to metal which would come to the forefront in the late 90s and early 00s.

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DeftonesAround the Fur 1997

With their sophomore release, Deftones took the rough edges of their debut, 1995’s , smoothed out some, and sharpened others. The vocals, although still mostly screamed, had just enough accessibility to lift the song to higher levels when needed, without losing any edge. The riffs were still very grove-heavy, but stronger. The main difference between Around the Fur and Adrenaline was that the band learned when to hold back before exploding, giving these tracks a truly powerful impact. There are hints, albeit few and far between, of the Post-Punk and Shoegaze avenues the band would eventually take. However, Around the Fur is probably the most artistic record of the Nu Metal era.

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System of a DownToxicity 2001

Toxictiy was undobtedly a powerful nail in the coffin of Nu Metal. Sure, the band played low-tuned groove-riffs with the occasional growled vocal. But of any of their contemporaries, System of a Down took note from the genre’s most high-profile inspirations; Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine. The spastic outbursts and odd time signatures clearly harkens back to the best days of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, while their socio-political overtone is of the strongest since the heyday of Rage. The middle-eastern influences and overall quirkiness also set the band light years apart. Toxicity is often referred to as an essential metal record.

Honorable Mentions:

Soulfly – Soulfly

KoRn – Follow the Leader

Stuck Mojo – Stuck Mojo

System of a Down – System of a Down

 

THE WORST

Korn_-_Take_a_Look_in_the_Mirror

KoRnTake A Look In the Mirror 2003

By 2003, KoRn were basically the lone survivors, smoldering in the rubble of Nu Metal. And they weren’t in the best of shape either. After failing to find a groove or produce anything new or interesting for several years, Take A Look In the Mirror sounded like a tired reflection of the innovative sound the band became known for, only worse. The lyrics are angry for the sake of being angry, and cheesy to the point of no return. The riffs sound like uninspired rehashes of earlier work. The inclusion of rapper Nas on a track sounds like a failed attempt to recapture the magic of earlier collaborations with Ice Cube. Although the band would try their hand at more electronic and Industrial sounds on future releases to mixed results, this album will forever serve as a glimpse at the end of an era.

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EvanescenceFallen 2003

Evanescence attempted to trick many a young pre-teen and teen girl that their generic, commercial brand of post-grunge Nu Metal was hip and Goth. Shame on them! Although singer Amy Lee has an impressive vocal range, the overuse her high-pitched soprano overtop cheesy, formulaic riffs doesn’t do much other than tire the listener. The fact that Fallen saw much mainstream success at the beginning of the decline of the music industry is also a testament of what the record industry was pushing on the masses during its last breaths. The band declined after this release.

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Papa RoachInfest 2000

Not sure what’s worse: The fact that Papa Roach rose to fame with generic rap-rock anthems of angst at the height of the genre’s reign or that they morphed into some awkward cock rock band who still saw success after its demise. One thing is for sure: The undeniable irony. And it makes perfect sense. Infest was as whiny, angst-y, and lyrically idiotic as it got in terms of frat boy Nu Metal. With the rise of bands like Limp Bizkit, Nu Metal saw success in pop territory, and Papa Roach did well to exploit that. And, unfortunately, they still do.

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Linkin ParkHybrid Theory 2000

By the time of Linkin Park’s debut, Nu Metal was down to a science. Find a group of angry suburbanites who lived through the grunge years, were exposed to punk and Industrial but never quite got it, and who had a deep appreciation for aggro-Gangsta Rap and BAM! You have a successful Nu Metal band. Linkin Park did little, if nothing, to further the genre. Instead embodied literally all of its tacky cliches. Hybrid Theory, a massively successful record, serves as their crowning achievement. And understandably, as it represents this genre at its mainstream peak. It was possibly the biggest crossover hit, having just enough edge (in terms of Nu Metal) for the hardcore fans but enough fluff for rock and pop radio. Linkin Park would go on to attempt Electronica and more traditional radio-friendly alt-rock to moderate success, however the scars of Hybrid Theory are too deep not to notice.

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Limp BizkitChocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water 2000

Initially, Limp Bizkit seemed like a silly joke. Kind of a far-inferior version of Primus; wrought with redneck humor, but overall lacking in artistic integrity. And it was okay. They sounded like douchey frat boys and they owned it. Take into consideration some stellar musicianship, especially from guitarist Wes Borland and bassist Sam Rivers, LB might not seem so bad. It wasn’t until their third album, 2000’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, that the real moronic nature of vocalist Fred Durst hit it’s all time high, or low. With jabs at pop starlets, alt-rock titans like Trent Reznor, and whoever else he didn’t like, Durst put it all on tape, ultimately embarrassing only himself. Musically, it sucks. That’s about it. Lyrically, your dog’s farts might be more profound. There are no redeeming factors here (Sorry Wes). You’re best off to just move along.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Flaw – Through the Eyes

Limp Bizkit – Results May Vary

Papa Roach – LoveHateTragedy

Dope – No Regrets

Adema – Adema

Rob Zombie performing at Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio. Photo by Brandon Judeh.

Rob Zombie performing at Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio. Photo by Brandon Judeh.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Halloween arrived early Monday night, when Rob Zombie and his “Super Monster Sex Action Tour” rolled into W. D. Packard Music Hall in Warren.

Set to a backdrop of famous monsters such as Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman and King Kong, Zombie and company rocked the intimate venue for nearly two hours.

Coming out in a cloud of fog and red lights, Zombie, guitarist John 5, bassist Piggy D and drummer Ginger Fish kicked things off with 2013’s “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy,” much to the fans delight.

The sold out crowd erupted after the first few notes of White Zombie classic, “Super-Charger Heaven” which set the tone for the rest of the night.

The layout of the concert was much more low key than a typical Rob Zombie show, using backdrops, lighting and fog to set the atmosphere.

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Photo by Brandon Judeh.

A big contrast to the high-end productions Zombie has been known to put forth in recent years. Missing were the giant robots, fire and big screens.

Surprisingly, this did not take away from the show; rather it proved that Zombie and his team could put on a high quality show, no matter the setting.

“Living Dead Girl” and “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown” stood out as two of the best songs of the set, with Zombie’s energetic stage persona leading the way.

As the quartet hammered through “House of 1000 Corpses,” “Meet the Creeper,” and “Never Gonna Stop” they switched gears by throwing in a couple of covers.

In between “Thunder Kiss ‘65” the band stomped out heavy renditions of the Ramones classic “Blitzkrieg Bop” and Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” With Zombie adding “I’m sure sometime in the 22-year history of the Ramones that they came through your town. If you didn’t see them, well, you fucked up. If you weren’t born yet, that’s your problem.”

The Ramones did indeed roll into nearby Youngstown in July of 1976, when they played their first concert outside of New York at the Tomorrow Club inside of the old State Theater.

Joey Ramone also met future members of the “Dead Boys” that night.

Guitarist John 5. Photo by Brandon Judeh.

Guitarist John 5. Photo by Brandon Judeh.

As the band returned to the stage after a brief intermission (with the crowd chanting “ZOMBIE, ZOMBIE!”), John 5 came out and proved why he is one of the best Metal guitarists.

His gritty guitar solo of the National Anthem was the perfect segway into Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band.”

Aside from that, John 5 showed all night long why Zombie works closely with him on albums and with the music he provides for some of Zombie’s movies (see Lords of Salem).

As the night slowly closed to an end, John 5, Piggy D and Fish played a slow, sludgy and heavy rendition of “The Lords of Salem” before closing with the fan favorite, “Dragula.”

When the band left the stage and the lights went on, the crowd continued to chant, but this time the beautiful horror show was over.

 

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Faith_No_More_-_Sol_Invictus_Album_Cover

Artist: Faith No More

Album: Sol Invictus

Release Date: 5/19/15

Rating: 9.5/10

Back in early 2000, at the age of 14, I remember being in an Internet chat room (remember those?) for Mike Patton’s record label Ipecac.

The versatile singers company was still in its infancy as was his new band Fantômas.

Still in love with both Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, I asked a question that I doubted would be picked amongst the thousands of questions being submitted.

To my surprise, however, it was.

The question: Will Mr. Patton ever reunite with Faith No more to make another great record?

The answer: Hell no, never!

At least that’s what the moderator, via Patton, said to me and the other faithful fans, much to my chagrin.

Never say never.

Back “From the Dead” 15 years after that moment, Faith No More has released it’s seventh studio album, Sol Invictus.

What can you expect from a band that hasn’t put a record out in 18 years?

When it’s Faith No More, an album that stands shoulder to shoulder with anything they put out in the past.

This effort ranks somewhere above Album of the Year and the two pre-Patton records. And somewhere between King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime and The Real Thing.

Faith No More circa 2015. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

Faith No More circa 2015. Photo courtesy of rollingstone.com.

The record starts out with the title track and kind of eases you into the album, with its soft piano and Patton’s unique vocals.

When “Superhero” kicks in, it’s like a swift kick to the gut as Patton and keyboardist Roddy Bottum alternate screams in a track that meshes new and old together perfectly. A track that could have easily have been on 1992’s Angel Dust.

Up next is “Sunny Side Up” one of those songs that kind of sneaks up on you and can quickly become your favorite, with its contagious chorus.

“Separation Anxiety” is an ode to classic faith no more, with Billy Gould’s heavy bass and Mike Bordin’s signature drumming patterns. It’s very reminiscent to their heavy, funky grooves off of The Real Thing.

The songs heavy finish is enough to keep any long time fan happy.

Other highlights of this album include, “Cone of Shame’ and the album finishes off fantasticly with it’s final three songs.

“Motherfucker,” “Matador” and “From the Dead” are the perfect ending to a near perfect album.

The lead single, “Motherfucker” was a bit of a surprise, since it features Bottum’s vocals on lead.

But after a few listens, it was well deserved, as his quiet vocals (which he nearly raps) are the perfect leeway for Patton’s strong voice.

“Matador” is a song that has been around for a while, since the first time Faith No more got back together in 2009, and it sounds even better on the record.

Patton’s vocal chops are on full display in this one, hitting unconceivable notes and proving why he is one of the best singers of our time.

The band proves that they are still weird and willing to try new things on the closing track “From the Dead.”

It doesn’t sound like anything they have ever done, an ode to the 60s hippie revolution.

“Homecoming parade/welcome home my friend,” Patton croons on the opening line all while shaking a tambourine.

“We come back to history in present times/Watch your watch unwind/We’ve been turning miseries to nursery rhymes,” Patton sings, almost ironically, at the end of the song.

Indeed Faith No More is back from their long slumber, taking us back to a time when music was good and with Sol Invictus, it’s as if they never left.

I have listened to this album over and over, trying to find fault with one of my favorite bands, but I can only find one; that there are only 10 songs.

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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!

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Exodus

Album: Blood In Blood Out

Rating: 5/5

Release Date: 10/14/14

In terms of Thrash Metal, what comes to mind for many are undoubtedly the “Big 4” which includes genre pioneers Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. However, the San Francisco Bay Area scene of the early-to-mid-80’s certainly wasn’t limited to just a handful of acts, nor was it short of boundary-pushing pioneers.

Among the many acts to emerge from that scene was Exodus. Noteworthy for featuring a young Kirk Hammett in their early incarnation, Exodus was just as innovative and trailblazing as any of the Big 4 acts, if not more so. Their style has always pushed the limits, even into extreme metal territory, with early Death Metal acts like Possessed and Morbid Angel, as well as Black Metal act Emperor citing them as a major influence.

30 years later, the Thrash legends return with a brand new neck-braking record, sure to pump some life into a genre that has grown stale in recent years. Blood In Blood Out, their latest effort, released via Nuclear Blast Records, is probably the best release in the genre since Anthrax’s massive 2011 comeback effort, Worship Music.

Exodus waste no time in getting right to the point on Blood In Blood Out, with non-stop brutal riffage, speedy solos, and socio-politically-charged lyrics that touch base on everything from organized religion to the current state of national affairs.

Leading off Blood In Blood Out in the Industrial-tinged “Black 13,” a ripping album opener featuring over-the-top aggressive riffs and lyrics that hook the listener immediately. From there the pummeling only continues with the catchy title track and political awareness of “Collateral Damage.” “Salt the Wound” features an unmistakable guest appearance by Kirk Hammett in the form of a tight, wah-drenched guitar solo and “BTK” features some brutal guest vocals from Testament’s Chuck Billy.

The second half of Blood In Blood Out takes the intensity even further with angsty tracks like “Wrapped in the Arms of Rage” and “My Last Nerve.” “Numb,” one of the album’s several highlights, features vocalist Steve Souza screaming “I’m sick of what I’ve become, but this world has rendered me so fucking numb!”

Closing out the album are a pair of slammers; “Honor Killings and “Food for the Worms,” leaving the listener adrenalized and ready to take on anything! A true metal record through and through, the album closes with a special bonus track, a cover of Angel Witch’s “Angel of Death.”

Despite several lineup changes and guitarist Gary Holt’s stints with Slayer, Exodus have prevailed a force to be reckoned with in Thrash Metal. Contemporaries such as Lamb of God, Machine Head and Trivium will fall to their knees, as these godfathers of Thrash show the metal community yet again, just how it’s done.

All in all, Blood In Blood Out is a very tight riff-heavy, consistent and truly brutal album that highlights the best the heavy metal genre has to off. Highlights include “Black 13,” “Blood In Blood Out,” “Salt the Wound,” “Numb” and “Honor Killings.” The bonus track is pretty stellar as well, breathing new life into an old NWOBHM gem. For fans of pure, gut-wrenching, no gimmicks heavy metal, Blood In Blood Out is a perfect record.