Rick Polo

All posts tagged Rick Polo

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

It has been over two decades since the world last heard from Cleveland alternative rock pioneers, Death of Samanatha. The band became one of the key players of the 80’s college rock movement, craving out a unique niche in the scene. But by the later part of the decade, at what seemed as the height of the group’s success, they disbanded and have remained relatively quiet for more than 20 years. Now they’re poised for a comeback with a long-awaited reunion disc spanning their short-lived but highly influential career.

Formed in 1983 by singer and guitarist John Petkovic, guitarist Doug Gillard, bassist David James and drummer Steven Eierdam, Death of Samantha took the scene by storm, becoming one of the first notable alternative/indie rock frontrunners in Cleveland. The infamous first gig at a Ground Round family restaurant has become that of legend. With bizarre stage antics, puck rock ethos and sound primed and ready for college radio, the band quickly rose to recognition, and caught the eye of Homestead Records in 1986.

At the time, Homestead Records, based out of New York, was home to some the biggest names underground rock had to offer at the time, including Sonic Youth, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Dinosaur Jr. The full length debut for the label, Strungout on Jargon, brought the band on the national underground scene. They continued to tour the latter half of the 80’s alongside big names such as The Replacements, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins.

Death of Samantha supporting Sonic Youth in the mid-80's.

Death of Samantha supporting Sonic Youth in the mid-80’s.

Sadly, as their aforementioned touring partners caught major label deals and broke out onto the early 90’s MTV scene, they never stuck it out long enough to ee their break. Following the release of Where the Women Wear the Glory and the Men Wear the Pants in 1988 and Come All Ye Faithless in 1990, Death of Samantha called it quits. A small reunion was attempted in 92, but never got off the ground. The band, whose influence can still likely be heard on rock radio via post-grunge/post-alternative acts (think Bush, Everclear, and perhaps Green Day).

In recent years, the original lineup of Death of Samantha have remained active musically, playing a handful off one-off reunions such as at the Beachwood Ballroom in Cleveland and 4th and 4th Fest in Columbus, Ohio. As of late last year, the have recorded an 18-track double album titled If Memory Serves to be released on Feb. 11 via the band’s St. Valentine Records. It will be their first release in 24 years.

If Memory Serves is comprised of re-recordings of old material. In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Petkovek said that the two-disc retrospective has gotten the band’s creative juices flowing, as they are planning more endeavors for the coming months.

“…a lead-in to a tour and a record of all-new material in 2015,” said Petkovek.

With a wealth of 80s indie rock acts such as My Bloody Valentine, The Replacements and the Pixies reuniting and releasing new music, there is no doubt that the time is right for Death of Samanatha to return to the scene and pick up where they have left off. Perhaps nostalgia for some, and a new chapter, new era or even a new beginning for many others.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Have A Nice Life

Album: The Unnatural World

Release Date: 1/20/14

Rating: 9/10

Every so often, you hear a band or artist that catches your ear in a way unlike any other before it. Connecticut-based noise/doomgaze duo Have A Nice Life have a knack for an effect. For some, it’s not even music in a traditional sense, but just brash noise. Yet for others including the band’s devoted cult following, it’s literally out of this world.

Have A Nice Life first gave the world a heavy dose of noise pollution with their now iconic 2008 debut, Deathconsciousness. Released via Flenser Records, the duo, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga, their debut resonated among fans of various underground sub-genres including shoegaze, noise rock and drone. Eventually being dubbed doomgaze, Have A Nice Life’s unique brand of droning ethereal atmospherics and semi-industrial doom-inspired fuzzed-out instrumentation helped spark interest of a shoegaze revival across the underground.

Although Have A Nice Life may not be cut out for the casual listener, their tendency for soaring atmospheric beauty has struck a chord with a growing audience. This is even more prevalent on the duo’s new highly-anticipated LP, The Unnatural World, their first release in four years.

Leading off The Unnatural World is the ethereal “GuggenheimWax Museum,” setting the tone of Have A Nice Life’s sound. From there, the more biting post-punk “Defenstration Song” and “Brutal Society” take effect, leading into heavier and more brooding territory. Hints of Joy Divison can be heard on “Music Will Untune the Sky,” while the band’s Black Metal influences take hold for the welling “Cropsey” and “Unholy Life.” The album concludes with the noise-ridden tracks “Dan and Tim, Reunited By Fate” and “Emptiness Will Eat the Witch.”

The Unnatural World seems to pick up right were their 2010 EP, Time of Land left off. Their signature sound is firmly in place, but trails deeper down the path the band set onto. Standout tracks like “Defenstration Song” and “Dan and Time, Reunited By Fate” really capture the band’s vibe. Heavy but not metal, loud and ethereal but not complete noise rock, Have A Nice Life have carved a unique niche that The Unnatural World is firmly cemented into.

All in all, The Unnatural World is the perfect album for a wintery night spend home alone or a nightly walk through an old electric forest. The atmospheres are aplenty. It also serves as a good introduction to new fans, craving something heavy and abrasive, but beyond your average “heavy” guitar-driven music. For what it is, The Unnatural World is a practically perfect record, urging the listener to go back into the band’s short but sweet catalogue.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Black Flag

Album: What the…

Release Date: 12/3/12

Rating: 1.5/5

For many, Black Flag are what it means to be hardcore. The abrasive and rebellious act pioneered the early 80’s hardcore punk and straight edge scenes. They took punk up about ten notches, incorporating elements of Black Sabbath’s trademark heavy riffing and The Stooges’ primal energy into an aggressive juggernaught.

Later material featured the dark and satirical poetry of frontman Henry Rollins. Their sound started to evolve as well, slowing the tempos and leading into proto-grunge and sludge. Black Flag disbanded by 1986, leaving much of the late 80’s/early 90’s alternative movement to owe a huge debt to the band’s legacy.

In the years since, the members have gone very separate ways. Rollins formed the successful Rollins Band project and went on to write several books and become an international spoken word artist. Guitarist Dez Cadena joined the Misfits in 2002 and has been writing and touring with them since. Earlier this year however, founding guitarist and songwriter Greg Ginn decided to resurrect Black Flag, much to the dismay of his former band mates.

Despite a lawsuit pending over the use of the name “Black Flag,” Ginn decided to hire a new crop of musicians for the project. Joining the picture are Gregory Moore on drums, singer Ron Reyes (who has since been replaced by pro skateboarder Mike Vallely) and bassist Chuck Dukowski for the new album, What the…

The album features much of the bark found on the bulk of the old material, but lacks the bite. Lackluster performances on tracks such as “Shut Up,” “My Heart’s Pumping” and “Get Out of My Way” show a lack of inspiration, or perhaps lack of the original chemistry of Black Flag. Other lukewarm tracks like “Wallow in Despair” attempt to grasp the lyrical angst of their class Damaged LP, but fail to really get off the ground.

The few highlights of the album would include “The Chase” and “No Teeth” proving interesting musically. The grinding hardcore riffs sound closer to vintage Black Flag than anything else on What the…

Overall, What the…‘s title best describes it. The album as whole sparked the questions “why now?” and “why this?” The songs Ginn comprised aren’t exactly terrible, and perhaps under the moniker of a new and separate project, they may have more of an impact. What the… feels like the sad cries of a tarnished legacy.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Ghost B.C.

Album: If You Have Ghost (EP)

Release Date: 11/19/13

Rating: 4/5

Swedish doom-metallers Ghost B.C. first hit the international scene just a few short years ago. With over-the-top theatrics and horrifying Satanic imagery including mock bishop costumes, the back gave modern shock rock a well-needed kick in the balls. They have single-handedly slayed audiences across the globe, included a top 100 debut in the U.S. with their last album, Infestissumam, and have proven to scare the shit out of parents who have grew up on the likes of Marilyn Manson and Insane Clown Posse. And for their next trick, they cover the likes of pop music icons ABBA!

Yes, on their recently released covers EP, If You Have Ghost, produced by none other than Dave Grohl, the Satanic shock rockers choose to remake some very unlikely numbers from a range of diverse artists. Forget the obvious Slayer or typical dark and brutal heavy metal band. The aforementioned ABBA, along with Depeche Mode, and garage rock pioneer Roky Erickson are just a few of the brilliantly peculiar artists Ghost B.C. have chosen to convert to the dark side.

If You Have Ghost continentally begins with an upbeat rendition of Erickson’s “If You Have Ghost.” The band’s trademark dual lead guitar and soaring vocals are present, yet not much else is very doom-metal about this track. However, it hits on the mark and serves as a very pleasant listen. Next, a cover of ABBA’s “The Marionette.” What do “Dancing Queens” and inverted crucifixes have in common? Not much. But the quirky choice doesn’t necessarily fall completely flat; the falsetto vocals rival the original.

The EP begins to gain some serious steam by the third track, a version of Army of Lovers’ “Crucified.” A touch of darkness is brought to the reimagining of this pop hit, and their natural theatricality proves fitting for the track. Finally, their take on Depeche Mode’s “Waiting For the Night” serves ultimately climatic, taking the somber track to new sonic heights without leaving it’s original vibe in the dust, successfully bridging any gap between DM and doom metal.

Closing the EP is a live cut of a highlight track off Infestissumam, “Secular Haze.” For those who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the band live, this little cut hints at what one can expect.

All in all, If You Have Ghost is a well-produced (kudos Mr. Grohl) and interesting listen. Not all will get it, but for those who will, it’s pretty cool. Perhaps a larger collection of covers, leaning closer to a full album’s worth, might help these tracks not feel so sparse. Still, their take on all of the songs is worth a listen. The EP is definitely not the right record to introduce one to the band. Perhaps Infestissumam, or their equally entertaining debut, Opus Eponymus, should be required listens before checking out If You Have Ghost.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz "King Buzzo" Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

Melvins. Left to right, singer/guitarist Buzz “King Buzzo” Osbourne, bassist Dale Crover and drummer Mike Dillard.

By Rick Pollo (Editor-in-Chief)

In the early 1980s, not many could have predicted that Seattle would be Generation X’s Liverpool in terms of a rock and roll renaissance. Sure, groups like the late-60s garage rockers The Sonics and 70s arena champions Heart call the city home, but a collective scene was yet to put Seattle on the rock and roll map.

By 1984, hardcore punk outfit Black Flag released there slowed down, Black Sabbath-inspired album, My War. The same year, bands like Swans and Flipper began to emerge, also introducing a slower and chunkier approach to aggressive angst-ridden punk rock. This sound was clearly ahead of its time, but left a considerable impression on the likes of Seattle outfits Green River, Soundgarden and the Melvins.

Originally formed as a hardcore punk band, the Melvins quickly emerged as one of Seattle’s most influential and ambitious acts by the mid 80s. Their unique blend of punk rock ethos, sludging heavy riffs and experimental tendencies helped spark a musical movement that would come to be known as “grunge.” Lead singer and guitarist Buzz Osbourne once stated that the band’s sound was “Black Sabbath-meets-Captain Beefheart.” Undoubtedly a perfect summation of Seattle’s perhaps most unsung and influential grunge act.

By the late 80s, the Melvins’ influence among the Seattle scene was blatantly obvious. Groups like Tad, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone and Nirvana all were experimenting with drop tuning and searching for the heaviest and muddiest guitar tones they could find. For a moment, Seattle provided a renaissance in rock and roll, and the paradigm shifted. Over produced balladry was out, and noisy, angry punk and alternative was in. With the success of Nirvana’s Nevermind and several of the Seattle bands finding major label deals and mainstream success, the Melvins were at an epicenter of a movement. However, there break wasn’t easy.

As Seattle bands were getting signed left and right, the Melvins further pursued their musical ambition, shifting deeper into left field and away from what grunge had came to be known as, in the mainstream at least. They went heavier and sludgier, proving to have more in common with doom metal than Lollapalooza. Still, predecessors like Kurt Cobain continued to site their influence and eventually, the mainstream took notice. By 1993, at the height of the grunge scene, the Melvins signed their first major label record deal with Atlantic Records, and recorded their masterpiece, Houdini.

Houdini was unique in several ways. Much to the band’s dismay, it will probably always serve as the go-to starting point for the band. Sure, earlier albums like Bullhead and Lysol are classics in their own right. But Houdini is the first creative peak in an ever-climbing career of innovation.

Originally set to be produced by Kurt Cobain, Houdini is one of the most primal and raw, sophisticated and heavy and underrated alternative releases of the 90’s. Kicking off with droning doom riff of “Hooch,” it is immediately evident that the Melvins were not going for the sounds of Nevermind or Ten, but something more along the lines of the first records from Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath. Signature sludge tracks like “Night Goat,” “Lizzy” and “Honey Bucket” serve as templates for nearly every doom, sludge and stoner rock act that followed, making even Kyuss sound like The Spin Doctors.

Houdini also has it’s share of quark. An unlikely cover of Kiss’ “Goin’ Blind” sounds nothing like the original, yet ultimately caught the eye of Gene Simmons, who often performed the track with the band during the time of its release. Tracks like “Sky Pup,” “Hag Me” and “Copache” are well representations of the band’s experimental side, an aspect of their sound they would also later explore and expand upon.

Commercially, the Melvins were never quite able to top the success of Houdini. Artistically, it was only a launching pad.

As fellow Seattle acts spend the later half of the 90’s and early 00’s dominating rock radio, the Melvins dug deeper into the underground, earning a very loyal following. Despite their lack of commercial exposure, critically acclaimed records like Stoner Witch and Honky resonating hard with their dedicated fan base.

By the late-90’s they were dropped from Atlantic Records but eventually signed to Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings. From there, a golden age of experimentation ensued. In 2003, they collaborated with ambient artist Lustmord for the Pigs of the Roman Empire LP and in 2004-05, they collaborated with Dead Kenndys frontman Jello Biafra and Tool guitarist Adam Jones for the LPs Never Breathe What You Can’t See and Seig Howdy! After a successful period of collaboration, they returned to their roots for the sludgy and trippy Senile Animal in 2007.

This year, the Melvins celebrate two milestones: The 20th anniversary of their landmark Houdini and 30th anniversary together. They chose to celebrate in true Melvins fashion by releasing two artistic achievements within the same year. Earlier this year, they dropped a collection of covers titled Everybody Loves Sausages featuring reworkings of tracks by artists as diverse as Queen, Venom, Throbbing Gristle, The Kinks, David Bowie and Lead Belly. Their latest jaw-dropper, Tres Cabrones, was released in October.

As the Melvins enter their fourth decade, they show no signs of slowing their innovative sound. That innovation has proven very influential, with sound that is impossible to properly categorize. Not only has Kurt Cobain and members of Tool announced their love for the trio, but contemporary players like Mastodon, Crowbar, EYEHATEGOD and The Dillienger Escape Plan have all sworn by the Melvins.

As trends came and went, artists risen and fallen, they continue forward, in a linear but upward direction, blowing minds and provoking thoughts at every peak.

 

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By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Who would have imagined that what began as a short poem 30 years ago by then-unknown artist Tim Burton would become the greatest Gothic romances and holiday-spanning works of all time?

Released in 1993, Tim Burton’s iconic masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas, took the world by surprise. Before the film, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was probably the spookiest holiday tale in existence. That all changed after years of pushing the idea, and repeated edits as not to completely traumatize Disney’s overwhelming young audience. It is a film that spans not one but two holidays, and now ranks as a staple Halloween and Christmas flick, an achievement not seen by any other major motion picture.

The Nightmare Before Christmas also serves as a go-to film for young Gothic culture. For the last 20 years, it has not only turned all the fluffy Christmas hype on its head, but told a tale of dark twisted romance, the ultimate teenage fantasy. Along with his genius visual art, Burton is also a master story tellers, with a glimpse of childish innocence piercing through the dark.

Two whole decades after its release, the film continues to inspire young artists and poets. Featured this month are various pieces of fan art discovered through hash tags across the web. These are true testaments to The Nightmare Before Christmas‘ impact on not only modern counter-culture but genre-spanning multi-platform film, visual art and poetry.

By Rick Polo (Editor-In-Chief)

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Artist: Danny Brown

Album: Old

Release Date: 10/8/13

Rating: 4/5

Indie-rapper Danny Brown has certainly done his homework. As one of the leaders of the genre’s underground movement, just bubbling beneath the mainstream, Brown has gained some serious momentum over the course of his discography. With Old, his newly released third album, he’s again successfully smashed his own boundaries with one of the year’s most well-rounded and enjoyable rap albums.

Brown first hit the scene in 2010 with his ground-breaking debut, The Hybrid. After releasing the near-perfect XXX in late 2011 and stealing the show on featured tracks of the previous two EL-P records, Brown delivered Old in early October, again taking the rap world by brutal force.

Brown took a unique old school approach to the construction of Old, dividing it into two “sides,” as a traditional vinyl would, with two different vibes. Side A, titled “Old,” lives up to its title somewhat. It has a laid back, old school hip-hop vibe with soulful samples and grooving beats. Following opening tracks “Side A (Old)” and “The Return,” the album begins to show its chops, beginning with the third track, “25 Bucks,” which features Brown’s group, Purity Ring. The track seeps with Brown’s lyrical genius. From there, tracks like “Torture” and “Lonely” paint a more vulnerable portrait of Brown, with very self-actualizing and introspective lyrics. A trait not typical among many mainstream rappers.

Side B, titled “Dope Song,” has a high-energy, almost live feel to it. Also certainly not an approach taken by many modern rap artists, as their live performances are merely lip-synced over a pre-recorded beat. No, as those who’ve attended any of the summer festivals of which Brown performed this summer, he’s abrasive and in-your-face.

The second side of Old reflects that, especially with the lead single, “Dip.” The energetic performance factor reels the listener in from the start with an infectious up-tempo dance beat that will make you almost want to slam dance along with it. Fellow tracks “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” and “Handstand” keep the party going, until another stand-out track, “Kush Koma,” featuring talented newcomer A$AP Rocky, takes hold. As many of the songs on Old, “Kush Koma” presents a lyrical juxtaposition to the vigorous music that accompanies it. Brown’s realization of his own debauchery, and the toll it takes on his soul, make up the lyrics on the almost depressing tune. Finally, Old ends on an even more somber note, with the beautiful “Float On,” featuring Charli XCX.

When it comes to honestly, Danny Brown holds nothing back. Like contemporaries Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, the Creator, Brown is not afraid to shed light on his vulnerability, nor is he hesitant to admit to the not-so-flattering aspects of his life. However, he does so in such an earnest and beautiful way, you come to realize that he’s just giving his version of the blues. And with all the raw emotional and powerful songwriting, Old, in a modern sense, is as bluesy as it gets.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Gary Numan

Album: Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)

Release Date: 10/15/13

Rating: 4.8/5

For some, Gary Numan was a mere one-hit wonder amongst a vast crop of early 80’s synth-pop nostalgia. His lone pop hit, “Cars,” has become a staple of 80’s compilations albums, and rightfully so! He kicked the door open for a whole slew of new wave and synth-pop acts in the early days of MTV. However, not as many are aware that he’s been consistently making influential and groundbreaking music for 30 years and counting.

What Numan lacks in chart toppers, he more than makes up for in a strong discography and a prominent presence amongst underground electronic and alternative music. Originally a punk rocker, Numan went solo in the early 80’s and took his love for Kraftwerk and Berlin-era Bowie to the next level, inventing his own brand of electronic, synth-heavy proto-industrial. After the success of “Cars,” Numan continuing making challenging electronic music. His influence has spread far a wide, being covered by the likes of Hole, Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters, as well as acts like Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and Fear Factory citing Numan as a key influence.

Over the years, Numan’s music had grown darker and moodier. By the 90’s he was keeping in touch with the industrial scene, as well as making a splash among the Goth and darkwave scenes. In recent years, Numan’s music has grown increasing aggressive, adapting heavily distorted guitars to compliment the equally distorted pulsing synths.

This sound is most notable on his latest release, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). It kicks off with the heavy riffing “I Am Dust” featuring Nine Inch Nails axeman Robin Finck. The industrial rock powerhouse continues on “Here in the Black” and “Everything Comes Down to This,” creating a wall of noise, laden with driving beats, throbbing synths and mean riffs. The title track “Splinter” stops for a more atmospheric and brooding vibe, while the piano-driven “Lost” provides a dark and moody, heavy NIN-like build. Unsurprisingly, this track also features Finck on guitar.

More head bumping and booty shaking noise takes control from there with the KMFDM-like “Love Hurt Bleed” where Numan growls “everything bleeds” repeatedly. Dance club banger Goth anthems “A Shadow Falls on Me” and “We’re the Unforgiven” continue the assault, finally climaxing with the melancholy closing track, “My Last Day.”

Splinter is, in many ways, the album industrial fans have been waiting for. It’s dark, moody and heavy, but not in the bland and redundant detuned, double-bass metal attack that dominates most so-called industrial. It harks back to golden age of industrial, from 1988-95, before the genre splint into either more metal or techno directions.

Most of the tracks on Splinter are key listens, with hardly a falter throughout the album. Certainly the tracks “I Am Dust,” “Everything Comes Down to This” and “A Shadow Falls on Me” will catch the listener by storm. But it would be foolish to count out the more atmospheric tracks like “Lost,” “Splinter” and “My Last Day,” where although the aggression is more subtle, it’s a slower yet ultimately harder punch.

If Numan continues to make music this hard-hitting and this good, hits or not, he’ll continue to remain relevant for another 30 years.

Lou Reed

Lou Reed

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Visionary, trailblazer, cool, godfather, original, genius, brooding, artistic, inspirational. Those are just some of the terms that come to mind when referencing the godfather of art rock, Lou Reed.

Reed’s 46-year career spanned several eras, trends and movements. Somehow, the iconic rocker always managed to be cited as a leader or influence. And up until his passing last month, Reed was still going strong, still challenging his audience and still making an intellectual and trend-setting statement.

Reed’s career begin in the mid-60’s as frontman of The Velvet Underground. While most bands of the time were drenched in psychedelia and trying to play louder than their predecessors, Reed and his bandmates were taking an intellect in rock and roll to a whole new level, birthing the sub-genre of art rock.

The Velvet Underground were, at the time, rock’s best-kept secret. With themes of sex, drugs and violence, it certainly wasn’t very in step with much of the “hippie” movement. They were arguably the first cult band, with a devoted underground audience despite a serious lack of national radio play or television exposure. In a pre-Internet world, they were among the first acts to connect others like-minded, one a smaller yet wide-ranged scale, selling only 30,000 copies of their debut album. As Brian Eno was once famously said, “…everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

Their association with Andy Warhol and their artsy approach gained the band even more popularity throughout three studio albums in the late 60’s and lasted long after the group disbanded in 1970.

Reed’s career was far from over after The Velvet Underground. He took the world by surprise in 1972, releasing two of rock’s greatest masterpieces, his self-titled solo debut and the David Bowie and Mick Ronson co-produced Transformer. Transformer was arguably the first glimpse of Gothic rock, featuring Reed on the cover donning black clothing and eyeliner. The album’s smash hit, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” was a dark and ironic tune, paying homage to all the misfits and freaks that surrounded The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol in the late 60’s.

The following year, Reed took steps into progressive rock, releasing the concept album, Berlin. Darker than Transformer, Berlin told the story of two junkies in love in the city of Berlin. Songs of severe drug addiction, prostitution and suicide further expanded Reed’s fascination with the darker side of the human experience.

By 1975, Reed released another critical work, Metal Music Machine. Although the album was considered a commercial failure and sold poorly compared to Transformer and Berlin, it’s influence spread wider than originally imaged. The album consisted heavily of electronic noise and feedback; a stark contrast to his well-produced earlier solo works. However, the album’s noisiness went on to heavily inspire early NYC punk/alternative acts like the Talking Heads, as well as entire sub-genres such as noise rock and proto-industrial.

Reed’s experimentation, both sonically and lyrically, continued over the next 30 years. With the occasional commercial successes and the equally occasional commercial flops, Reed always managed to remain relevant through out the ages. Punks admired his ambition and lack of interest to play nice with the music industry. Acts as diverse as Iggy Pop, The Flaming Lips, The Smiths, Sonic Youth and Jane’s Addiction all cite Reed, as well as The Velvet Underground, as critical influences on their music.

His final musical stand came as a very unlikely collaboration when he teamed up with metal icons Metallica in 2009. He first performed with them at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s 25th Anniversary Concert, and later announced he would be recording an entire album with them. The result was 2011’s Lulu. The album, based on a late-1800’s German play, went straight to number one on the Billboard charts. However, the album was quickly deemed a critical and commercial flop. Both parties stood behind the project, as Reed again managed to challenge his audience, whether they liked it or not.

Reed’s unrelenting search for thought-provoking and challenging artistic statements were ultimately the reason for his long-lasting relevance and his wide-spread influence. Reed never tamed himself and never necessarily gave his fans the music they were expecting to hear next. It’s because of his ambition and fearlessness that he remains a true icon, visionary, and the King of Cool. Even after his death, as long as rock and roll is still kicking, his life and influence will continue to be celebrated.

Scar the Martyr. Photo courtesy of roadrunnerrecords.com.

Scar the Martyr. Photo courtesy of roadrunnerrecords.com.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Slipknot drum virtuoso Joey Jordison is no stranger to exploring unfamiliar territory. Aside from the multi-platinum nine-piece unit, Jordison serves as the guitarists and co-songwriter for horror-glam outfit Murderdolls, and has filled in behind the kit for the likes of KoRn, Satyricon, Ministry, and Rob Zombie to name a few. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that during his down time from the Knot he’s getting his hands dirty again.

Earlier this year, Joridson decided to test the waters of the industrial-metal that influenced his formative years, thus forming his new band, Scar the Martyr. Handling the duties of drums, bass and rhythm guitar for the project, Jordison recruited ex-Stapping Young Lad guitarist Jed Simon, ex-Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna for programming and relatively unknown vocalist, Henry Derek Bonner for the studio sessions. The result is Scar the Martyr’s self-titled debut, due Oct. 1 via Roadrunner Records, which fuses metalcore and death metal with elements of industrial metal.

2013 has been a good year for industrial, seeing releases from genre pioneers like Skinny Puppy, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails as well as a successful side-project of Disturbed’s David Dramain called Device. With that being said, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for Jordison to capitalize on. Although Scar the Martyr has it’s share of bleeps and bloops and ambient textures, it certainly has more of a modern metal sound than that of straightforward industrial.

Scar the Martyr begins with an instrumental album opener consisting of frightening samples, setting the tone for the album and project, leading into the track “Dark Ages.” “Dark Ages” is a slamming good time, with grinding guitars and Jordison’s signature machine gun drumming. A good introduction to the band, seeing all of its key elements at full throttle on one track.

From there, the combination of industrial-influenced riffing and slamming percussion continues over the next couple tracks, leading into the lead single, “Blood Host.” “Blood Host,” most likely alluding to some sort of parasitic nature, serves as the perfect single, with a crushing yet dissonant drone similar to Fear Factory. “Anatomy of Erinyes” ¬†and “Prayer for Prey” give off a darker aura, with more descending riffs and tribal drumming. The album closes with the droning and brutal opus, “Last Night on Earth.”

Fans of Slipknot and/or run-of-the-mill industrial metal may be slightly put off by Scar the Martyr, typically because of the abundance of soaring vocals found in more modern styles like metalcore. However, they work in good contrast to the hints of Stapping Young Lad, Fear Factory and Ministry that also ooze throughout the album.

Overall, the album, and band, can see as yet another victory for Jordison. Not only has he futher reached into unknown territory, but he has succeed with an original take on a highly influential genre of extreme and underground metal.

Audiences have agreed, as proven on Scar the Matyr’s initial tour opening for Danzig and strong hype surrounding the album’s release. Die-hard fans of the failing industrial metal can also revel in the fact that new and interesting bands are waving the flag for the genre and taking it to new and interesting places. Without a doubt, it is with great hope that Jordison continues this project between jaunts with Slipknot and that it doesn’t fall into the vast abyss of one-off projects.