Archive for January, 2016

8-Track: Every Time I Die

8-Track takes a band with a storied history and identifies eight songs throughout their career that define their strengths as a band, musically, lyrically, and conceptually. Read previous installments here . Where to begin with Every Time I Die, Buffalo’s favorite party animals? A career that has thrown out more filthy guitar licks and jarring breakdowns than a kegger at the Red Bull headquarters can’t quite be summarised in eight tracks; not quite anyway, but we’ve given it a go for our latest installment of the 8-Track feature here at Heavy Blog. Over seven albums and fourteen awesome music videos later, this mathcore/metalcore/hardcore/riffcore band have amassed a following that is just at home at Warped Tour as it is in that shitty venue in your hometown where people are scared of entering. As usual, we’ve picked tracks that we feel best showcase this band across the years. We disagree on the best and worst albums and we can’t even agree on the best tracks from some of these albums, but we tried. We gave it our all, just like this band do with every show and every release. If you haven’t heard Every Time I Die before, this is a great god damn playlist for you to get stuck into. Enjoy. Everyone seems to forget about the first album from these guys. While it’s still very rough and does not sound like they do now, noticeably lacking the “southern hard rock” charm they’ve worked into their sound, it does make for some damn fine metalcore/mathcore. The album is chock full of bangers, but none more so than “The Logic Of Crocodiles”. The beginning is standard mathcore, but then it builds into this really awesome breakdown towards the middle of the song that absolutely rips. It’s a shame these guys don’t really play too many songs from this album live, because it definitely could be turned into an anthem and become a staple. The most noticeable thing about this track is how harsh Keith’s vocals are over the entire thing. It sounds at many times as if he’s straining while screaming, which adds to the the sheer intensity of the song itself. There’s also some very cool chugging that goes on in the song, which is abrasive from beginning to end. Trust me, if you’ve never visited their back catalogue, now’s the time to do so, and you can begin with this piece of history. -Spencer Snitil As unique and abrasive as ETID’s early career was, it didn’t take long for it to catch on.  Hot Damn!  is considered the band’s breakout record, and with tracks like “Ebolarama,” it’s no mystery why the album caught on. Jordan Buckley’s guitar work bears a catchy mix of mathcore spunk and just the right amount of Southern charm to concoct infectiously aggressive riffing throughout the entire track. And while Keith Buckley’s vocals are commanding as always, it’s never clear which way he’ll stretch his larynx next. He’ll be moaning an eerie drawl one moment before launching into a manic roar the next. Of course, the highlights of the track – like every great ETID track – are the moments when the whole band lines up for a full-throttle romp, channeling the unbridled energy of their live performance. Ozzfest may be no more, but the band surely tore up the stage back in the day with tracks like “Ebolarama,” when they first started introducing themselves to audiences as their newest favorite band. – Scott Murphy Can we all take a moment to look back on Guitar Hero 2 and appreciate what that game did for so many of (pre?)teens in our discovery of metal? Dethklok, Shadows Fall, All That Remains, and of course, Every Time I Die were included as bonus tracks to the game’s “official” setlist. Thanks to this game, Every Time I Die were brought into the mainstream for many would-be metalheads in the form of “The New Black,” an almost uncharacteristically catchy and anthemic rock and roll tune that downplayed their hardcore roots in favor of party-ready riffs and the sassiest of hooks. The group have since gone on to become mainstays in the genre — a no doubt creating masterpieces along the way — but “The New Black” maintains as the group’s most iconic track, and for good reason; revisiting this song will leave it stuck in your head for days on end, so get comfy. -Jimmy Rowe At this point in Every Time I Die’s somewhat lengthy and unquestionably respectable career, no song perfectly encapsulates their signature sound quite like the intro track to 2007’s The Big Dirty , “No Son of Mine.” With both this record (and song alone) the band came steamrolling back after the oddly-flat mixing job that plagued 2005’s Gutter Phenomenon and positively pummel for the next three minutes. This track also boasts some of the finest Keith Buckley-isms in the land, including such greats like “leave your drunken accident at the prom,” “shoot that dog if we can’t afford to feed,” and the world’s finest breakdown accompaniment ever, “don’t ever say rock and roll.” Keith’s cryptic and often scatterbrained lyrics can probably be interpreted a number of ways, but his delivery and conviction is incontestable. Back this bizarre frontman up with some off-time, Botch -esque mathcore that’s as heavy on the dissonance as it is accessibility and you’ve got yourself quite a winning recipe. The song seems to begin collapsing about two-thirds of the way through, constantly pushing the band’s heaviness to new heights. It’s a remarkable opener, and it’s one of the band’s live staples for a reason. There were very few bands even attempting this sound back in its time, making “No Son of Mine” all that more unique in context. -Kit Brown Another fat, Southern sounding track crammed full of dirty guitar licks and Buckley poetry, “We’rewolf” is easily the most memorable track from The Big Dirty. The audacity required to kick off a track with straight cowbell hits is reason enough to give the party boys a clap on the back, but there is far more to this particular rager. At surface level, “We’rewolf” is a track written from the perspective of the perennial party animal, one I can empathise with down to a tee. “It’s a full moon, denim is tight and my flannel shirt is freaking out”. A real lyric in a real song and one that could only be taken seriously in sandwiched between dirty ETID riffs and a country lick that Muse DEFINITELY ripped off in “Knights Of Cydonia”, the scumbags. On arguably their weakest release, this track will always help dust off the air guitar skills of anyone shotgunning a beer or drinking a bar out of tequila. Things I love to do, especially with ETID blasting; it just makes sense to get shit faced listening to this track. -Matt MacLennan Biting sarcasm and a poet’s lyrical ability have always been trademarks of the Every Time I Die sound, and on their fifth studio album, New Junk Aesthetic, the band finally managed to hone those traits to a razor’s edge, such as is displayed on “The Marvelous Slut”. The track is a biting commentary provided by the band’s own vocalist, Keith Buckley, as well as The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato who helpfully chimes in during the choruses. In a way, it sums up nearly everything Every Time I Die is, speaking of their rather insane partying on the road (the “slut” Buckley refers to is himself, in reference to his own habits) all laid over the classic, southern-tinged metalcore attack that fans have come to expect. If anything, this song is a definitive crash course in the catalog of ETID, offering up all of their key elements in healthy doses all while still being compacted into a nice, two minute chunk for easy listening. -Jake Tiernan “Revival Mode” always sounded like an early Every Time I Die track slowed down to me. Seriously, imagine it played a good bit faster and it could be a B-side from Hot Damn!. The leering, creeper of a riff that lurches in and out of the track is almost dissonant, ties in with the vocal line on some of the notes and eventually gives way to an organ grinding verse that continues to keep the creep factor alive. On an album full of rambunctious rippers, this seedy track still blows up and into a big ETID refrain with a classic Keith lyric; “I need to pay the judge”, well, don’t we all eventually? While the band experimented with slow burning tracks right up until Ex Lives (and further, on From Parts Unknown), this is the first time that they perfectly balanced that finely tuned aggression with the nasty side of pop music. Finally, the guitar solo that ties up the final movement of the track is just phenomenal and is an example of how to get a guest musician to really raise the game of a track. -Matt MacLennan In my books, From Parts Unknown was one of 2014’s best. Although the album in its entirety has finally found its way out of my heavy rotation, I often find myself coming back to certain tracks – far and away the most notable of which is “Moor”. With its minimalistic opening, characterized by a marked piano motif over top of which Keith Buckley croons along with an eerie sense of calmness, Moor presents itself at first as an anomaly in relation to both the album, and, on a larger scale, to ETID’s entire body of work – that is, of course, until the track abruptly explodes into the aural barrage of pummelling power chords and fierce bellowing for which ETID have come to be known (and adored). The sudden impact only serves to magnify the mood conveyed by the callous lyrics spat by Buckley, who sounds at times as though he’s on the brink of coming unglued: “All I want is his head and this horrible fucking world will be wonderful again / There’s so much beauty and love and when I eat his beating heart I can bring it back to us.” No sooner is this line uttered in a final desperate croak than the track once again falls off into the simple piano-accompanied croon exhibited at the song’s start – only this time the calmness strikes as twice as distubring following the violent episode that is the song’s midsection. A final note in the lower register hangs in mid air to conclude the song, leaving the listener to whether wonder the madness that just hit them had really actually happened. -Elizabeth Wood -HB

Dream Theater – The Astonishing

While here at Heavy Blog we usually err on the “for its own merit” side of the album/career debate, choosing to focus on an album’s singular traits rather than its place within a band’s discography, this would be a mistake here. While  The Astonishing , one of the most anticipated albums of the year, is certainly a departure from everything  Dream Theater has been giving us in the past few years, it’s also a return to several key sounds from the beginning and middle period of their career. Even that departure requires an understanding of the bigger picture of their trajectory; to depart from something, you need to understand something. And so, the first thing that is immediately apparent when the first real track (that is, not the intro) of  The Astonishing begins to play is: this is a rock opera. When the second track begins to play, something else becomes immediately apparent: the main touchstone for this album within the extensive Dream Theater discography is  Six Degrees of Inner  Turbulence . That spring in the step, that hopeful and cheery outlook, screams of that intricate album, the closest the band have come to a rock opera in the past. Yes, OK, but is it  a good album ? That’s what we’re all here to find out. In two words: yes and no. In more than that,  The Astonishing  contains some amazing tracks, possibly the best the band have produced since the lukewarm  Octavarium  trickled into our ears. When the tracks are playing, it’s impossible to resist how downright energetic this album is. At these moments, the cheesiness is perfectly balanced with that old-school  Rush  feel that Dream Theater have always been famous for and things work. They work really well in several points: on “Lord Nafaryus” for example, LaBrie delivers the intricate villain role with brilliant precision, doing things with his voice that he never has, as far as register and delivery goes. The artificial strings blend perfectly with the over the top piano, accentuated by signature guitar bridges from Petrucci. This cohesion is perhaps one of the best marks of a good Dream Theater album: when they work together, instead of playing against each other, they sound best. The slightest, cheesy touch from Petrucci near the end really closes the deal, making this one of the best tracks on both albums. This track is followed by two more excellent iterations of this new-fangled sound: “A Saviour in the Square” is epic to the exact degree needed, with a splash of horns to spice things up. LaBrie returns to more conventional grounds and reminds us that, regardless of personal taste, he is one of the most consistently excellent singers in the industry. Personal note time: when “When Your Times Has Come” kicks in, the next track down the line, I get teary eyed. This song is cheese to the maximum degree, but Rudess has chosen old school synth effects, with a wink to Kevin Moore perhaps, and LaBrie executes beautifully. This is “Hollow Years” territory: you know it’s cheesy rock but it just touches something within you and it works. Which brings us to the major defect with the album. Honestly, what band can expect to release 33 tracks and get that perfect balance between emotional propensity and technical achievement? Even Dream Theater, one of the most veteran and influential bands operating today, can’t pull it off.  The Astonishing  is replete with filler tracks, songs that really have no right existing other than an obscure parts they play in this (rather underwhelming) story that the album attempts to tell. And that’s not enough: cliche guitar parts mix with over-sweetness in LaBrie’s voice and bounce off the most cliche lines that Rudess can make from his keyboards. And they’re repetitive as well. There’s no reason for “Act of Faythe”, one of the cheesiest songs ever made by Dream Theater, to exist when a track like “The Answer” exists as well. There’s supposedly a common theme being iterated upon here but it’s not interesting enough to carry the tracks forward. Nor are the ways in which the band iterate upon it interesting in anyway: they include shifting the mood just a bit to give it a lighter or darker spin and nothing else. All of these flaws extend to the second “CD” as well, and then some. “A Life Left Behind” for example is a track which could have come right out of  Awake but it’s successor, “Ravenskill” is completely pointless, taking too much time with its intro and failing to deliver when the main theme is introduced. Since the flow between the tracks, a famous trope of progressive records, has been completely abandoned here in favor of the “track by track” structure of rock operas, the second CD is hard to pin down and connect to the first. By the time you’ve reached it, so many filler tracks have gone by without a clear approach to thematization that the thread is almost impossible to grasp. The narrative has been completely lost and every track, even the good ones, start to sound the same. That’s no accident: even the good tricks utilized on this album are the  same old tricks  that we know from this album itself and from past entries in the Dream Theater discography. While the overall style of the album is new, in that it taps into tropes that were only lightly present in their careers so far, the track progression is the same tried and true method. OK, we’ve saved the best (worst) for last. Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned two current members of the band. The first, John Myung, might not surprise anybody; his absence, both in sound and words, from the band is a thing of legend by now. On  The Astonishing , or at least on the copy that we of the press received, he is almost 100% missing. Whether in the mixing or in the recording, the bass was completely swallowed by the other instruments and is completely absent from the final product. However, now we come, here at the end, to the most egregious and unexplainable flaw in this record: Mike Mangini. Throughout the album, Magini displays an almost impressive amount of disinterest in what’s going on around him. The drums line are not only performed in a lackluster way, they also sound as if zero effort was put into their writing. We  know  Mangini is a talented drummer but that talent is nowhere to be found here: obvious fill after obvious fill churn out under paper thin cymbals and pointless kick drums, ultimately amounting to nothing much. There’s literally no moments on the albums that are worth mentioning for their drums and this infuriatingly frustrating, given what we know of  his obvious ability. At the end of the day, when you put all of the above together, you get a disappointing album. If this had just been a bad album, we could have chalked it down to age, momentum and being out of touch. That’s impossible though, since when the album is good, it’s really quite good. If only it had been cut to about ten tracks and purged of the incessant repetitions, it might have been the best Dream Theater album in years. Instead, it’s a puerile attempt at a grand gesture that ultimately falls on its face, caught too close to the sun with wax spilling over, giving all its features the same, bland, indecipherable structure. ? Dream Theater – The Astonishing gets… 3/5

Fleshgod Apocalypse – King

Italian symphonic death metal band Fleshgod Apocalypse have gone through phases that encapsulate the entire careers of normal successful artists in less than a handful of releases. Their debut Oracles was raw and promising and the follow-up,  Agony, was a masterpiece that propelled them to the top of their game. However,  Labyrinth  didn’t take their music to the next level and some listeners were fatigued with their antics at that point, and their fourth album, King , is now anticipated but also slightly dreaded. This is readily understandable, as it is expected to be the album that either breaks the fatigue or leans further into it. What can be heard from the band on King is very characteristically Fleshgod, but also very different from how we’re used to hearing them. Right off the bat, it’s pretty clear that, for better or for worse, King is a bit of a divergence from Fleshgod’s previous work. Not in terms of the band’s general sound but in how they approach that framework. While Agony and Labyrinth both ramped up the intensity in terms of production and orchestration backed by death metal, King takes a more subdued approach. With Jess Bogren’s production and heavier emphasis on blending symphonic elements into metal and less “everything ramped up to the max”, the focus on the band’s fourth album is decidedly different. That description deserves more elaboration though, as it comes with some benefits but also with some trappings. The first thing to be tackled is the production, as it is both the most noticeable difference and also the one that defines the rest of the traits of the album by its nature. While on their previous work the band opted for production that was excessively loud and overbearing, on King they’ve worked with Jens Bogren, who has provided them with a sound that is quite similar to his previous effort with Devin Townsend ‘s Deconstruction . What this means is that guitars are a lot less overdriven than the band’s usual standard, which takes away quite a bit of punch from them. The drumming is also similarly neutered, with the kick drums sounding a lot less prominent and the snare lacking the visceral characteristic it had on their previous work. The end result of this change in the approach towards the “metal” instrumentation is that blast beats sound a lot less heavy and generally rather weak. Considering the one constant tool in Fleshgod’s arsenal has been tremolo-picked neoclassical riffs over fast drumming throughout their career, having that sound nowhere near as energetic and crushing as it used to be takes a lot away from the band’s sound. To compensate, the orchestral elements are a lot more prominent in the mix. While this approach gives the band more room in their sound to work with composition, it also fundamentally changes their entire identity. The wall of sound emanated by the band is a lot wider and encompassing, but more breadth comes at the expense of depth, as there are no heavy-hitting moments like “The Violation” from Agony , or “Elegy” from Labyrinth , or “In Honour of Reason” from Oracles.  In these, the compressed sound, clear cut drumming and powerful guitars just hit the listener with a one-two punch and brought out the primal urge to headbang, whereas King is more of a “sit and nod in appreciation” album. The songwriting doesn’t ignore the change in the sound, which would make the disparity a lot worse. Instead, the band have significantly reduced their technical death metal leanings and instead opted for a more symphonic metal approach. Sure, there are still blast beats and fast riffs, but whenever they occur, they’re blunted by the weak drum sound and less-driven guitars. What the band have clearly devoted more attention to is the orchestration. There are a lot of slower moments where the guitars take a step back and let the orchestra shine. The criticism towards the band’s previous work was that they always pushed everything too far, with the drumming being too extreme, with trem picked guitars accentuated by constant orchestra hits, which made listening to them rather overwhelming. This is definitely a step in the other direction marked by varied and subdued usage of instrumentation. In contrast, this makes another problem with the band’s writing more exacerbated. Since the orchestral elements always have the same melancholically kind-of-epic tone, it results in another kind of listener fatigue where the album listened to as a whole starts to lose freshness. Throughout the first listen of the album, the more creative and proper usage of symphonics is interesting and attention-grabbing, but the lack of over-the-top epic moments which the band are known for start to drag it down. In addition, the punchline to every song being essentially the same feeling with the same setup greatly reduces the album’s repeat listening appeal. That isn’t helped by the fact that, like most of the band’s discography, the album feels way too long. On paper, the album is definitely more interesting compositionally than the band’s previous work, but that extra effort is inherently wasted by still trying to adhere to the band’s neoclassical death metal framework. To be honest, Fleshgod’s riffing was never really that interesting and it could barely carry an album by itself in Oracles , and after that album what the metal section of the band had to say was essentially exhausted. The addition of synths was keeping the band interesting, as at the time there weren’t a lot of artists doing technical-ish death metal with string sections and choirs emphasizing the rather rote drums and guitars. On King , that conceit really falls apart, as at times it feels shoehorned and the need to bring everything back to death metal takes away from the music on most songs, with “Mitra” being one notable exception because the orchestra and the band really play together on that track instead of fighting each other. The album’s leading single, “The Fool” is the closest the band get to their established sound, but as noted, these two tracks are the exception and not the norm. Overall, King is a concerted effort by the band to develop themselves, even though the end result is quite flawed. Fleshgod Apocalypse are suffering from an identity crisis. Being a death metal band whose prime appeal was balls-to-the-walls riffing and over-the-top synths then having your audience be fatigued by how hard you push that meant they had to reinvent themselves to some extent. Trying to take a step back and focus on a more nuanced sound is the approach they’ve taken on King , but they’ve taken away what really defined them. With production that is more well-realized yet significantly less flattering to the band’s death metal roots, they instead focus on their symphonic side, but in doing so they reveal the weakness of their formula. While in early listenings the album is a lot more varied than the band’s previous work, that veneer wears off quickly as the band aren’t diverse enough to pull off being a symphonic metal band, and their death metal presentation isn’t strong enough on King to carry the album by itself. King is definitely competent, and the orchestral work is what really shines on it (in fact the second bonus disc of the album without the metal parts might have more lasting appeal), but as a metal album, and defined by the band’s previous standard, it falls flat. It’s just not as invigorating to listen to as the band’s heavier work, and it’s not novel or ingenious enough to listen to as a more progressive effort. Fleshgod Apocalypse – King gets… 3/5 -NT

Catch Trees On Mars and Se’nam Palmer On The Wintour 2016 Or Your Life Is Forfeit

If you’re looking to get a good dose of prog and shred in your diet so early in the year, look no further than The Wintour 2016 , featuring prog’n’roll act Trees on Mars and the progressive jazz stylings of Se’nam Palmer ! “We’re very excited to get back on the road again and play a few places we’ve never been before! We feel that our brand of prog & roll and Se’nam’s ethereal loops are a perfect match, so you won’t want to miss out,” said Hayden Graham of Trees On Mars. “This is my first tour ever,” Palmer said of the upcoming outing. “I would have never imagined that I would reach a point in my life where I’m ready to hit the road and share my music with you guys. Come to the show, enjoy the music, give me a high five—do whatever you feel to enjoy Trees on Mars and me. I absolutely cannot wait to to see all of you amazing people. ?” Check the tour dates below to see if this tour is coming near you. Mark your calendars! 2/19 Raleigh, NC @ TBA 2/20 Charleston, SC @ The Vinyl Countown 2/21 Savannah, GA @ The Furnace 2/22 Orlando, FL @ Backbooth 2/23 Gainesville, Fl @ Loosey’s Downtown 2/24 Mobile, Al @ The Alchemy Tavern 2/25 Shreveport, LA @ H&H Lounge 2/26 Houston, TX @ Super Happy Fun Land 2/27 Austin, TX @ Dozen Street 2/28 Houston, TX @ Texas Rose Saloon 3/1 Houma, LA @ The Boxer and the Barrel 3/2 Hattiesburg, MS @ The Tavern 3/3 Birmingham, AL @ The Nick 3/4 Nashville,TN @ Spring Water Supper Club Check out their music below! More importantly, if you’re near any of those stops, make sure to catch this tour! You won’t be disappointed. ?

Intronaut Announce North American Headlining Tour With The Ocean As Support

A day for tours? A day for tours. In our second announcement for drool-worthy tours, we are proud to bring you another bomb with Intronaut taking North America by storm with Germany’s The Ocean as support. A long and progressive tale ties the two bands, as they have collective ly played nearly 100 shows together . This tour should push them over that landmark when the bands make their way across North America hitting major cities in the US and Canada. Tour dates below! 03/15 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy 03/16 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick 03/17 Mesa, AZ – Nile Underground 03/18 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad 03/19 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theatre 03/20 Lawrence, KS – Aftershock 03/21 Ft Worth, TX – Tomcats 03/22 Austin, TX – Dirty Dog 03/23 Houston, TX – Walters 03/24 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade 03/25 Tampa, FL – Orpheum 03/26 Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall 03/27 Charlotte, NC – Rabbit Hole 03/28 Washington DC – Rock And Roll Hotel 03/29 New York, NY – Marlin Room at Webster Hall 03/30 Boston, MA – Middle East 03/31 Montreal, QC – Bar Le Ritz 04/01 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace 04/02 Detroit, MI – Loving Touch 04/03 Chicago, IL – Reggies Rock Club 04/04 Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theatre 04/05 Winnipeg, MB – Goodwill 04/06 Regina, SK – Exchange 04/07 Edmonton, AB – Skylite 04/08 Calgary, AB – Dickens 04/09 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre 04/11 Seattle, WA – Crocodile 04/12 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre 04/13 San Francisco, CA – Bottom Of The Hill The Ocean will be playing songs from Pelagial , Transcendental , and Precambrian , while Intronaut will be playing The Direction of Last Things in its entirety, as well as some other tasty goodies. Don’t miss this tour. Do not.

Between The Buried And Me Announce Co-Headlining Tour With August Burns Red; Good Tiger And The Faceless Supporting

Between the Buried and Me is proud to announce a co-headlining tour with friends August Burns Red ! After extensively touring for Coma Ecliptic [ review ] in 2015, the ride isn’t slowing down in 2016 as the North Carolina band will embark on a fourth North American leg in support of their most recent release. As support, we have the tumultuous The Faceless —who recently solidified a lineup Brandon Giffin on bass, Derek “Demon Carcass” Rydquist on vocals, and Justin McKinney on guitar to support Michael Keene—and the very strong-out-of-the-gate favorites Good Tiger ! If you’re not familiar with Good Tiger, make sure to check out our review of their debut, A Head Full of Moonlight , because it’s excellent and you should really be jamming it. Tour dates below! Between The Buried And Me | August Burns Red co-headline tour dates w/ The Faceless & Good Tiger Mar. 4 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom Mar. 5 – Richmond, VA @ The National Mar. 7 – Ft Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution Mar. 8 – Tampa, FL @ Jannus Landing Mar. 9 – Birmingham, AL @ Iron City Mar. 10 – Mobile, AL @ Soul Kitchen Mar. 11 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Theater Mar. 12 – St Louis, MO @ Pageant Mar. 14 – Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall Mar. 15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Complex Mar. 16 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl Mar. 17 – Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Mar. 18 – San Diego, CA @ House Of Blues Mar. 19 – San Bernardino, CA @ Self Help Festival | NOS Event Center Mar. 21 – San Francisco, CA @ Regency Mar. 22 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades Mar. 23 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Mar. 24 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo Mar. 25 – Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Mar. 26 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Mar. 28 – Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall Mar. 29 – Calgary, AB @ MacEwan Hall Mar. 30 – Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brians Event Centre Apr. 1 – Winnipeg, MB @ Garrick Apr. 2 – Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theatre Apr. 3 – Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s Apr. 5 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s Apr. 6 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom Apr. 7 – Peoria, IL @ Limelight Eventplex Apr. 8 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave Apr. 9 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE Apr. 10 – Guelph, ON @ Guelph Concert Theatre Apr. 12 – Quebec City, QC @ Imperial Apr. 13 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre Apr. 14 – Providence, RI @ Lupos Apr. 15 – Philadelphia, PA @ Fillmore Apr. 16 – Albany, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall Apr. 17 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall Between The Buried And Me tour dates May 6 – Concord, NC @ Carolina Rebellion May 22 – Columbus, OH @ Rock on the Range See you on the road!

A Gift to Artwork: Megadeth

Last month we dove deep to explore the importance of cover artwork, namely through our analysis of two excellent pieces of artwork adorning the latest Caligula’s Horse records. This time we take a closer look at the covers of thrash titans Megadeth , starting with 1986’s iconic Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? Given its political nature, context is crucial to understanding the artwork and it was created during the latter stages of the Cold War, amidst escalated tensions between the world’s two foremost superpowers of the time, the USA and the Soviet Union/USSR. The world in this period of history was, at times, on the brink of a nuclear third world war, and it was only knowledge that such a cataclysmic event would bring about the Mutually Assured Destruction of both sides which prevented such horrors from occurring. Unfortunately, in the world of Megadeth, that appears to be exactly what has eventuated. Their undead mascot, Vic Rattlehead, stands before a United Nations headquarters lying in ruins, the shades of red and blue depicting a sky ablaze, fires raging in the background. The scene is reminiscent of a nuclear holocaust as three military jets fly menacingly towards the foreground, seemingly scanning the area for any remaining targets, any last vestiges of life. Such themes are undeniably heavy and unsettling in nature, so it should come as no surprise that similarly unsettling motifs have been woven into the record’s music and lyrics as well. ? (Illustrator: Ed Repka) The obvious starting point to our analysis is the all-time classic ‘Peace Sells’. The track emphatically states that peace is nothing more than a commodity, an item which can be easily traded, bought or sold. It is not some idealistic notion to be strived for, but an easily attainable state of the world which the world’s powers manipulate for their own gains. The UN was created following World War II, to bring peace and prevent such atrocities from reoccurring, yet it was powerless to prevent the numerous proxy wars which occurred throughout the Cold War in Asia, the Middle East, South America and elsewhere. Ironically, rather than bringing about peace of any kind, the UN merely served as another theatre of war, this time a political one, in which the antagonistic forces of the US and USSR could engage with one another. The UN headquarters have been annihilated in the illustration, yet that doesn’t stop Vic, dressed as a real estate agent, from looking to sell what’s left of it. One might argue that this would be a tough sell, that Vic is as likely to find a buyer for the rubble as the UN was to find a buyer for world peace. Further still, the fact the UN is on the market at all suggests that, despite its ruined state, it will be just as (in)effective as ever, and thus it still constitutes a legitimate commodity. Looking more broadly at the themes prevalent within the artwork, there are a host of other comparisons to be made. In particular we can cast our minds to the numerous tracks dealing with the occult, beginning with the eerie fan favourite ‘The Conjuring’. Thematically, the war ravaged landscape and grim colour scheme can be seen to represent hell on earth, tying in nicely with the song’s descriptions of satanic rituals and black magic. The song’s portrayal of the devil’s salesman selling yet another abstract commodity, this time the human soul, is further embodied by the figure of Vic, an interesting allegory to his purported sale of a soulless, in every sense of the word, UN. Musically, with the help of the similarly occult ‘Bad Omen’, the homicidal ‘Good Mourning/Black Friday’, the torturous ‘Devil’s Island’ and others, the album as a whole does a fantastic job of providing the illustration with a suitably ominous, disconcerting and sinister soundtrack. Fast forward eight years and Megadeth had just released the polarising Youthanasia . Like its 1992 predecessor Countdown to Extinction , the album continued Megadeth’s transition from the lightning fast thrash which comprised their first four records, to a slower, more commercially viable sound. This radio-friendly approach, with Mustaine seeking that elusive No. 1 ranking on the charts, also saw a shift in the album artwork of the band. The undead Vic Rattlehead was no longer a permanent fixture, whilst this particular cover featured luscious, rolling green hills and cute, innocent babies, images generally associated with nature, peace and positivity. However, it’s crucial to point out that whilst their shift in sound had changed the method of their delivery, their message remained the same. Megadeth still wrote politically abrasive and, at times, downright aggressive songs, only now they were catchier, reaching a wider audience and allowing them to have a greater voice than ever before. This same duality applied to their artwork as well, the youth of their times, symbolised by the babies, being hung out to dry by the older generation, powerless to avoid the oncoming storm. (Illustrator: Hugh Syme) The result is arguably the most shocking Megadeth cover to date, as Mustaine issued a rallying cry, a call of arms for the youth of the ‘90s to take action and free themselves from the status quo. The dark, brooding clouds take up more than half of the image, highlighting the sheer scale of oppression to which the youth have been subjected. Furthermore, there is a seemingly endless line of babies being hung, yet there is only one elderly figure placing them there, suggesting that the oppressed far outnumber their oppressors, and that there is victory to be had in unity. Finally, the imminent storm is itself duplicitous: on the one hand, if nothing is done it will simply decimate the defenceless babies hanging limply from the clothesline; on the other hand, the revolution which Mustaine calls for will see a raging storm engulf society when the opposing factions collide. Thus, the cover of Youthanasia perfectly encapsulates the lyrics and music to be found within, just like the cover of Peace Sells… before it, as Megadeth and their collaborators prove to be yet another gift to artwork. -KD

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