Posts Tagged ‘Music’

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

Children of Bodom – I Worship Chaos

Finnish melodeath superstars Children of Bodom have gone through several identity crises. Starting off as neoclassical melodic death metal, they had a lot of success. Their album Hatebreeder is indisputably a classic of the genre. But over time, they turned their sound into a more groove-oriented version of themselves with shred sections. This sound still had a lot of acclaim, as their fourth album Hate Crew Deathroll was also received very positively, even though some lamented the loss of their older influences. With their next few albums, they kept slightly changing their sound to be more accessible while simultaneously trying to capture their spark from their earlier days, but it never clicked, even though slog the way they had some great songs. After several disappointing albums, and the loss of famed guitarist Roope Latvala, Bodom are faced with their deciding moment. They could either pick themselves back up and make a comeback, or risk forever being written off. Thankfully, their ninth album, I Worship Chaos , is more the former than the latter. What really makes a Bodom album tick? If we’re talking post- Hate Crew, it’s basically solid grooves, chantable choruses, angry one-liners from Laiho and cheesy lead sections. Well, I Worship Chaos has got all of those covered. Each song is full of memorable little licks, be it some aggressively-nod-inducing riffs, earworm melodies or just proclamations screamed by Alexi (who sounds angrier than he has in a while). But what’s really important isn’t just that these elements are thrown in to tick boxes, it’s that they all come together in a way that makes for an enjoyable listening experience. And  that’s definitely the case here. Roope Latvala’s departure was definitely concerning as his lead playing was thought to be a big part of the band’s sound, but Alexi seems to be managing just fine without him. Perhaps the solos are a bit less intense, but there isn’t a noticeable drop in songwriting quality overall. In fact, the album feels better written than several of its predecessors. Everything is in lockstep, riffs carry tension and resolution very well between each other, and they don’t feel tired. This is an especially impressive feat if one considers the fact that melodic death metal has been around for quite a while and the template has been “figured out” long ago. Even Bodom have contributed to that process in the past, and nine albums deep into their career, it would be easy for them to feel like there’s not much left to say (in fact many though that was the case even seven albums deep into their career, so in some ways I Worship Chaos is a resurgence of quality). Sure, Alexi doesn’t sound like he feels as rife with angry creativity as he did fifteen years ago, but he sounds a lot more invigorated than he did five years ago. The benchmark for success in melodeath isn’t necessarily innovation anyway, it’s polish. And polish is in abundance on this album. It’s hard to underline in words the specific tightness that makes this album tick. This isn’t something that one can identify on paper. It’s the feeling of genuineness and effort conveyed by the tone of the writing. To the careful listener, that the songs were put together not by haphazard cobbling of ideas that were left on the drawing board after a writing session but were carefully put together to ensure every cog clicks properly with everything else, is obvious, and that is when the heart put into the album is apparent. Overall, I Worship Chaos is a polished, heartfelt album that makes it sound like Children of Bodom are enjoying their own music again; and fans should join in on that as well. The band are better than they have been for several albums, and new life has been breathed into their music. In a way, they’re back from the dead, telling us that we were wrong to write them off. ? Children of Bodom-  I Worship Chaos  gets… 4/5 -NT

VENOM To Release New Album In January

VENOM , the hugely influential British heavy metal trio, widely revered for driving and shaping many aspects of the music industry, including black and thrash metal as well as for their instinctive blending of metallic power and punk spirit, have confirmed the release of their new studio album, From the Very Depths . It will be released January 27 via Spinefarm Records.

Nexilva Discover ‘The Misdirection Of God‘

The release of  Nexilva ‘s new album  Eschatologies now finally has a release date, so you can brace your butts. Come April 7th you can get your grubby mitts on fourteen tracks of crushing deathcore, the likes of which wrecked my ears when they dropped a video for the title track mid-way through last year. However, not content to leave us with just that, the group have unveiled a new track by the name of ‘ The Misdirection Of God ‘ to tide us over. It’s a doozy. The track lies at the front end of the record and, upon first listen, you can definitely see why — it has a real immediacy to it, opening with an off-kilter groove, laced with grinding blastbeats, before winding through the synth-laden paths that they’re so good at stitching together. This bodes well — add this to your watch list if you like your music unrelenting, grooving and above all primally heavy. – DL

Piggy D of Rob Zombie: The Heavy Blog Is Heavy Interview

[Photos By Maclyn Bean] Mayhem Fest shaped up to be one of the strongest lineups the show has seen so far. With bands like Job For A Cowboy, Machine Head , and Mastodon , there are very few bands that would be better suited to headline than ROB ZOMBIE. It’s no secret that he is a busy guy, not only with music, but in other ventures such as movies ( Lords Of Salem is coming to video 9/3/2013) and comic books. His live shows are also an intense visual overload. Bassist Piggy D gives readers a sneak peek on what to expect with the new show, a little behind the scenes look at the recording for their new album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor , working with ALICE COOPER, and of his other musical ventures that are all expected to be seeing new releases of some sort this year. It’s not known to many people, but you actually have a fair amount of song writing ability outside of Rob Zombie’s band, most notably with Alice Cooper. What songs did you write for the newest album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor? I contributed to a track called ”Lucifer’s Rising.” Everybody writes a lot of songs, and everybody comes up front with a bunch of ideas. Usually, they end up becoming other things or they get changed around to fit whatever the vibe is that he [Rob] is going for. He ended up digging that song a lot, which is great. It’s nice and upbeat, makes you want to break shit [laughs], so I’m really happy with the way that one turned out. I do a lot of writing with other artists, I’ve written a lot of stuff with Alice [Cooper]. I wrote a song with him called “Last Man On Earth,” which was on his record Welcome 2 My Nightmare [In addition, John 5 plays guitar on the track “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever” and Rob Zombie does backing vocals on “The Congregation” for this album as well]. We also recorded a Halloween song together called “Keeping Halloween Alive.” It’s kind of like a Christmas song, except for Halloween. Yeah, I just heard it last week for the first time and I thought it was really good. It was fun to do. I called him on a Tuesday and we were recording for it by that Friday. We were done in about two hours. Me, Alice, and one of my writing partners Dave, actually did a whole record together a couple of years ago before his last record. It’s really heavy with some pop elements, some really cool punk stuff on it, all in all it’s just a raw, dirty record. I’m excited to go back and revisit that one. It hasn’t been released or anything yet, we started mixing it, but Welcome 2 My Nightmare needed to happen when it needed to happen, which is how I brought into working on that record. We wrote a bunch of songs for that record and “Last Man On Earth” is the one that made the cut that also fit into the story. To be honest, we actually have closer to two whole albums worth of material that was written around that time frame. One of these days, hopefully, that will see the light of day. That would be sick! I would love to hear that, as I’m sure thousands of other people would as well. Going back to Rob Zombie’s new album, “Lucifer’s Rising” is one of the more faster tracks that relates more to the old school aggressive Zombie. Overall, there is a fair amount of experimentation on the new record that wouldn’t match, say, Hellbelly Deluxe or The Sinister Urge. What is the progression among the band that, while writing, steered towards differentiating from the previous albums? Well, Hellbelly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge , were pretty much just Rob and producer Scott Humphrey that were bringing in different musicians for different songs, like Tommy Lee played some songs and John Freese played on other songs, so it was kind of whatever they felt fit that particular song. The last two Zombie records [ VRRV and Hellbelly Deluxe 2] have been more of a band effort, where everyone is playing the parts and fleshing out the ideas. HD2 , for example, was all recorded live. That signified the beginning of the new process of recording for the band. This record was different from that in some ways as well. Everyone was playing on this record as well, but there were times when Rob was taking the pieces and rearranging them and building new song structures. There was a few tracks where I had to re-track the basses on that, when I heard them, was like “What song is this?” because the parts had been rearranged, but it flowed so much better and it sounded more unique and original. It was an interesting process and it came together really fast. The initial tracking of the record was done in less than a month and a half. What were some of the bigger differences between recording this album and HD2, other than the rearranging bit? Well, like the last album, a lot of this one was recorded live. One of the main differences was the editing because what happened with HD2 was that the overall structure of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge or whatever pretty much stayed the same. With this new one, there was a lot of rearranging different parts and fitting them together to find out where the flow fit better, where song crescendos and putting it in the beginning and such. There was a much bigger emphasis onto the overall flow of the individual track. With HD2 , we would walk in the studio and say “Let’s write a fast song today,” “Let’s write a slow song today,” or “Let’s write an acoustic song.” There was much more thought into this album and Rob wanted it to crescendo at the end, which is why you will find some of the stronger songs at the end of the record. It is one of those records, especially the first few times when you listen to it, you don’t want to turn it off because you’re afraid you’re going to miss something. It really builds up. I felt that as well. When you listen to the first half of the album, it feels really different because it’s not Rob Zombie’s typical sound that people are used to hearing. But it picks up towards the latter half into that familiar territory. What you’re hearing was a very concise effort. What he [Rob] and everyone else said when we first started going into the record was that he wanted to do everything untypical. Typical song structures in this genre start to become really stale, so he wanted to specifically break the mold of how we did the last record. What sort of plans are you guys making for headlining Mayhem Fest this year? I’ve seen Rob Zombie before in 2007 when he toured with Ozzy Osbourne and I remember how much visual production went into that live set. This is a significantly bigger production than anything that has been done before. It’s worth seeing just for the costume changes alone. The whole spiel of the show has just gotten enormous. It’s over-stimulation on every part of the stage and if you blink, you’ll miss something. We’ve been slowly building the show bigger and bigger for the past seven years that I’ve been in the band. This is probably going to be the biggest production he’s ever done. People are going to be really, really excited about it. There will for sure be some correlations to his latest movie Lords Of Salem integrated into the show as well. Tell me a little bit about The Haxans. I’ve read that you’ve released two singles so far under that. That’s been a slow process because my partner Shannon Gallant lives in England, in a log cabin out in the middle of nowhere, and internet is not on her side. While slow, the process has been really good as well as it forces us to work on everything meticulously and get it exactly right. We’re working on an EP of some new stuff and a couple of cover songs. It’s a fun exercise because we’ve never been in the same room creating music, she’s in her world and I’m in my world. We kind of mush the two of them together to create this really unique sound. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done, I’m really hands on with the writing. I like working in a room with someone creating music, and something like someone’s mood can set how the writing session will go. Whereas this, I’m asleep when she’s up and recording her vocals or putting in some weird sounds. In the morning, I’ll go check my email (if she was able to send an email), and I’ll exclaim “What the hell- this is crazy!” We’re two people behind two black curtains, just creating music and sending it to each other via the interwebs. Do you and guitarist John 5 collaborate outside of Rob Zombie’s band? We haven’t in a while. I did three album covers for him and album designing with him, which is really fun to do. He always has some really good ideas and he lets me go nuts with it. My other passion outside of music is designing album art. I’m a purist when it comes to that. It’s a shame that it gets reduced to a .jpeg on iTunes. I love the experience of listening to an album while looking at all of the artwork, read the lyrics, and everything. What future album art will you be doing? A lot for The Haxans. It’s an art overload and it’s taken its own sort of life alongside the music. Whenever I release a song, I always have some sort of artwork with it. I’m working with a new band now, I’m just a co-writer and co-producer, and I was able to dig into my pop influences with this one. I always tell people it’s like a cross between Ke$ha and Cheap Trick. If they had a baby and it came from outer space, it would be this band. They’re called The Doom Party, and it’s very sci-fi, very concept based. It’s a band that is set in the future and the music is somehow very old school. Musically, it seems very radio friendly. My aim is to bring a rawness into the band and to help develop the story through the songs, but also making the songs stand on their own. There are some videos in the works and other really exciting stuff, so just like you, I’m curious as to how it all plays out. It’s unlike anything that’s ever existed before. It’s a new Kiss, in the sense that everybody sings and everybody has their own identity, but it’s a 2013 version- excuse me, 2050 version of Kiss. What other sort of solo stuff do you have in the works? I’m a huge fan of The Replacements and I love old Minneapolis rock, that’s another big comfort zone for me, so it’s fun making that kind of music. I’m also a fan of Nick Cave, so I paint with different brushes depending on how I’m feeling. Sometimes I pick up a guitar and I want to write a fun, summertime, noisy track, and sometimes I get dark and moody and I’ll write some murder ballads. I’m doing everything simultaneously, which is probably slowing down the whole process [laughs]. Any last words for the fans and what to expect from the live show that we haven’t already covered? I’m really excited to bring the new show. It will bring the new songs to life. People who think they’ve seen the band before don’t have idea. They need to come and see the new show. It’s the biggest show you will see this year, so don’t miss it! – RB

Killswitch Engage Post Video For ‘In Due Time’

I think just about everyone who got into metal through the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement of the 00′s is excited for the new Killswitch Engage album Disarm the Descent. The album sees the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach, who sang on their breakout record Alive or Just Breathing. The album’s leading single ‘ In Due Time ‘ seemed to bring excitement to its peak, confirming that the band seemed to be reaching a new peak that the band hasn’t seen in a few years. It’s a damn catchy track, and it’s good to hear Jesse back in the ranks. The video for the song was posted online this week, and it’s actually not all that special on the surface. There’s some standard performance footage and some meta-shots that makes the music video about how they filmed the music video you’re currently watching. Yeah. But the important thing is that everyone seems like they’re having a good time jamming on a new song with an old friend, and after some possible doubt and worry about the band’s future following previous vocalist Howard Jones’ exit from the band, it’s a good sign. Maybe I’m reading too far into subtext that might not be there, but at any rate, it’s good to see that things are looking up for Killswitch. Disarm the Descent will be available April 2nd on Roadrunner Records. – JR

Green Day To Play Three Warm-Up Shows Prior to South by Southwest Gig

Spencer Kaufman, Loudwire Green Day just pushed up their return to the road, adding three new dates that will serve as warm-up shows for their recently announced North American stage return at South by Southwest in Austin. Earlier this week, the band revealed that they would play a set March 15 at Austin’s Moody Theater, coinciding with two of their documentaries screening as part of South By Southwest’s film festival. Now comes word that the band wants to get their chops up to snuff by playing a few shows before performing at the music showcase. The new stops will be at Pomona’s (Calif.) Fox Theater on March 10, Tempe’s Marquee on March 11 and El Paso’s Tricky Falls on March 13. Tickets for all three dates will go on sale this Friday (March 1) at 10AM local time. They join the recently announced April 16 and 18 performances at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre and Los Angeles’ Sports Arena that recently extended the tour by a week. The South by Southwest film festival will premiere the band’s ‘Broadway Idiot’ documentary, which is primarily focused on singer Billie Joe Armstrong ‘s role in the Broadway production of the band’s ‘American Idiot’ album. Also screening at the Paramount Theatre the night of March 15 will be ‘¡Cuatro!,’ a documentary on the making of Green Day’s recently released album trilogy. The new shows are now part of the band’s North American trek, which will keep them on the road through April 18 in Los Angeles. After that, the group will trek over to Milan, Italy for the start of their European tour on May 24, with shows overseas booked through July 13 in Bilbao, Spain. To see the previously announced dates, click here . Newly Announced Green Day 2013 Tour Dates: 3/10 — Pomona, Calif. — Fox Theater 3/11 — Tempe, Ariz. — The Marquee 3/13 — El Paso, Texas — Tricky Falls 4/16 — Berkeley, Calif. — Greek Theatre 4/18 — Los Angeles, Calif. — Los Angeles Sports Arena [button href=”http://loudwire.com/rock-fest-2013-must-see-rock-concerts/” title=”Next: Check Out 2013’s Must-See Rock Concerts” align=”center”]

%d bloggers like this: