Friday, May 20, 2011

Hellwitch Interview and Playlist

1. Dio - Night People
2. Heir Apparent - Screaming
3. Accept - Up To The Limit
4. Horrifier - True Metal Never Rusts
5. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Milk Lizard (Request - I forgot the guy's name)
6. Running Wild - Diamonds Of The Black Chest (Request - Lumberjack)
7. Dark Black - Doom Herald
8. Motorhead - Iron Fist
9. Manilla Road - Feeling Free Again
10. Pentagram - Into The Ground
11. Grand Magus - Kingslayer
12. Shadowkeep - The Trial Of Your Betrayal

Hellwitch Interview and tracks from Syzygial Miscreancy and Omnipotent Convocation
13. Hellwitch - Nosferatu
14. Hellwitch - Viral Exogence
15. Hellwitch - Sentient Transmography
16. Hellwitch - Mordirivial Dissemination
17. Hellwitch - Vicious Lividity
18. Hellwitch - Opiatic Luminance
19. Hellwitch - Irreverent Salvation
20. Hellwitch - Days Of Nemesis
21. Hellwitch - Purveyor Of Fear

22. Watchtower - Social Fears
23. Velnias - Risen Of The Moor
24. Primordial - The Mouth Of Judas
25. Sapremia - The Despair Of Winter
26. Sapremia - Spawn Of Desolation
27. Bolt Thrower - In Battle There Is No Law (Request - Lumberjack)
28. Von - Watain

The Hellwitch Interview has been added to the radio archives along with the tracks listed here. Enjoy! Thanks again Pat, Joe, Hellwtich and Vinny at Signature Riffs for a great show and interview.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Velnias, Nuklearenpest, Lone Summer, Ithi - 05/17/2011

... and there were fourteen of us in a circle worshiping by candlelight.

I've never been to Montclair's famed Meatlocker before. Maybe "famed" is the wrong word. But the venue has created quite a name for itself amongst this generations crowd of music lovers in New Jersey looking for their own CBGB styled hole in the wall - or in this case ground - that contains a certain smell and gritty aesthetic. The fire Marshall warning cites the legal limit for occupancy at forty-nine people. There weren't half that many people at a show that should have been packed, especially for being completely free and especially with the interest in black metal and noise recently. The entire show was worth every cent in gas even if only for Velnias, which wasn't the case.

Opening group Ithi was an electronic noise duo, consisting of Luke Krnkr and Joshua Convey, both armed with synthesizers and an army of effects pedals, loop stations and midi sequencers (I think) tied together with two miles of patch cables. I've never seen their kind of band live before and it was an unsettling experience to watch two guys behind a desk covered in gizmos wavering back and forth like horror movie archetypes. Speaking of such, musically and sonically I describe the duo as Cannibal Holocaust's soundtrack with distortion in John Wayne Gacy's basement. It was creepy but completely enjoyable. I would have been a bit frightened just to walk into their performance if no one else was in the room. Their record, The Persistence of Meaning, while a good representation of the band doesn't seem to capture the same energy the band displayed in the live setting but the vocals, which were difficult for me to hear from my position at the gig are more audible which is nice. I'm sure any fan of electronic noise would enjoy their record.

Lone Summer wasn't really my thing but would probably appeal to fans of bands like... Wolves In The Throne Room or Alcest or whoever. But, one of the highlights for me, was seeing Nuklearenpest for the first time. I've known Z. and A. for several years now. I thought their set was, immediately, loud, but once my ears adjusted, their brand of black metal was the perfect fit for the evening. Memorable, well written songs were briefly interrupted by a broken string which Z., after trudging through one track without, left his guitar on the side of the stage. Unnerved, second guitarist, H.L., handled all the guitar duties while Z. gave an impassioned performance on vocals.

Last band of the night, and who I was really there to see, aside from hanging out the Nuklearenpest dudes, was Velnias, the Colorado entity which take Funeral Doom, Black Metal and god knows what else, and lays waste to all. While on record, Velnias may be more reserved and meticulous, live, auditory impalement is the name of the game distorting their songs into body numbing ritualistic self mutilation. It's like listening to Lordamor's take on Burzum covering Under A Funeral Moon. Lights were turned off, the wall of amplifiers - most hand made by guitarist Petras - turned up, candles lit, and tracks from their album Sovereign Nocturnal were summoned amidst a small but loyal grouping of onlookers. I hope one day to see the video to this as I know that the band was given a black and white grainy bootleg styled video at the end of the night. If you have the chance, go witness them live.

I had the opportunity to interview Petras after the show as well. That interview will air on The Vault June 8th at 10PM EST.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Primordial - Redemption At The Puritan's Hand

2011 brings us a new Primordial album to follow up the critically acclaimed "To The Nameless Dead." And while "Redemption At The Puritan's Hand" is by no means an album to ignore, it also feels underwhelming compared to what I felt would be a near impossible album to summit. So in the end, after thinking about it for a few weeks now, I place "Redemption..." as tied for second place amongst their discography with The Gathering Wilderness, the first of the band's decidedly current-sounding albums. Spirit The Earth Aflame is right on their heels though. I still feel that "To The Nameless Dead" is their iconic release. It may be that a year from now, when I revisit this record in full, and give it two or three more listens, I may feel differently about it's place in the ranks of Primordial's past efforts but my feelings on the tracks will most likely remain and, something I thought I would never have to say about the band, is what will ultimately always drag the record down; Alan Nemtheanga's vocals do not live up to my expectations.

For me, and I feel the vast majority of Primordial fans, Alan separates Primordial from the vast majority of other bands. Of course the music is excellent but it is propelled to a different level with Alan's heartfelt vocals and unique melodic confidence. I remember reading that Alan was sick during recording this record and maybe that had an effect on his performance. To be blunt, I don't feel the vocals on many of the tracks flow naturally, there is a hesitation in the rhythmic patterns, a staggered movement through the verses usually bogs down what should be a smooth moving and confident proclamation. Of course, this is only apparent on some select tracks and I find my favorite tracks don't suffer from this uncomfortable stumbling across the vocal parts. At times, a trained ear can easily hear overdubbed vocal parts meant to thicken up what would be thin sounding vocal tracks. At times the vocal production on the record is sloppy, something that a record with so many eyes and ears focused on it should be careful to avoid.

Where his vocals disappoint, Alan has once again, with the aid of Irish poet Padraig Pearse on "Death Of The Gods," written a strikingly aware commentary with the lyrics on this record. Where "To The Nameless Dead" questioned why it is we fight and die for the concept of the nation, "Redemption At The Puritan's Hand" feels like a purging of feelings built up as a result and, I feel, possibly answers the questions posed on the previous record with a simple answer. To be free. There are scattered fragments of a single thought across the record all told through different metaphors. According to Alan on the Primordial website, he claims this is the "Death" album. Some would say death is just another road to freedom. Overall, the album is full of the same grandiose poetry we have come to expect from Primordial and in this regard Nemtheanga delivers. You can make your own interpretations of the lyrics of course.

The production is similar to The Gathering Wilderness with a bit better mixing job. It's not quite as treble-laden as To The Nameless Dead and I felt a stronger bass presence from Pól MacAmlaigh which I personally love because his bass lines across the record are phenomenal. I feel he plays a lot like Geezer Butler would in this kind of band, giving the album weight by building his lines around the rhythm of the drums and not following the guitars as we would expect. Simon O'Laoghaire is becoming a more elite drummer with every record. He isn't just playing drum parts to fill in. Rhythms are calculated. Simon, on this record, is the cue giver; deciding what moments are build up sections, what kind of a feel a certain moment on the record will have and practically conducting the dynamics of the record from behind the kit.

Ciáran MacUiliam and Micheál O'Floinn once again leave us with captivating melodies. Rhythmically, the record follows in the vein of "To The Nameless Dead" except for "God's Old Snake," which reminds me of their much earlier records like "Journey's End" and "Imrama." It's difficult to pick out a real difference in tone between this record melodically from the Previous record but I don't find as many memorable sections. I don't feel like Ciáran and Micheál have fallen prey to using more clean guitars or playing more leads, or doing any egotistical guitar showmanship. Honestly, Primordial never needed that.

A quick run through of the record would read like this if I were asked to give a few sentences on the album. Opener "No Grave Deep Enough" is pretty much a whole lot like opening previous album's opening track "Empire Falls" with a short clean buildup, heavy intense riff, some of the harsher vocals on the album, and basically blasting Primordial's now solidified style through a megaphone. "Lain With The Wolf," the album's second track and third track, "Bloodied Yet Unbowed" are both immediate hits owing their success to Alan's vocals which shine on these two tracks best of all. "Bloodied Yet Unbowed" feels like an attempt at doing another "Heathen Tribes" styled anthem and works well but not as well as "Heathen Tribes." I have been skipping fourth track "God's Old Snake," I just don't care for the verse at all - something about the combination of the drumming and guitars that feels awkward to me.

The album at this point could take two paths. It could turn instantly boring should Primordial not have something exceptional next. "Mouth Of Judas" is absolutely excellent. Notable in this song is the lead 3/4 in which is layered over another emotion vocal section. At first I dreaded that the track would ride the album into the ground. It starts very slowly. I assume the band chose the track specifically for this reason after the faster, more aggressive previous song. "Mouth of Judas" never gets boring though, it is like watching a slow moving tragedy with every sad moment lingering, pressuring its sadness into the listener. It's a weaving song though - the track builds on itself, it's previous melodies. The song instantly codifies Primordial's elite place in metal, perhaps even more so than any one track on "To The Nameless Dead" did.

"The Black Hundred" is another good track, this one faster, again shaking up the pacing of the record and offering a different texture utilizing some baritone vocals in the style of a 1940's propaganda audio sample. The title track on the record, "The Puritan's Hand" is completely forgettable. Doesn't do anything for me and is relegated to the ranks of filler tunes on good records. Final track "Death Of The Gods" I want to love so much but really is a prime example of the lack of vocal flow on the record. Every vocal phrase feels truncated and shortened. Great lyrics which could probably be photocopied and dropped out of helicopters into the middle east to increase the upheavals and protests in those countries against the dictators and leaders who kill their citizens and suck dry any hopes for a decent life.

Since this is getting longer than I wanted, a really succinct conclusion is this: Primordial fans will adore this record though probably agree it isn't better than "To The Nameless Dead." People who have never listened to the band before, wouldn't be discouraged from checking out this record as it really is a good representation of the band's work, at least their past four records. I think that this album will make most of the "best of 2011" lists and I'm sure it will propel Primordial into the vocabulary of most aware metal fans. I doubt that Eddie Trunk will take notice even though he claims to be one of the world's leading experts on all things metal. Metal Blade will probably cash in on this record too. Primordial's next album will do for Primordial what Ghost Reveries did for Opeth and pretty soon when they tour the USA with Enslaved and a random folk metal band being peddled as the next great thing, we will find ourselves squashed between fifteen year old overweight high school girls and their gothic boyfriends in HIM beanies.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hellwitch Interview on The Vault

Next Wednesday tune in to check out my interview with Pat of Hellwitch on The Vault!

The Vault airs every Wednesday night, at 9PM EST only on WP88.7 Brave New Radio.

You can download this interview via the Audio Archives Page. 

Entrenched Interview and Playlist

NJ Death metal machine, Entrenched's drummer and vocalist Charles Snyder - live vocalist it seems - joined me on The Vault this Wednesday for a few hours of military jargon in regards to Preemptive Strike, the band's debut album. As usual, the band picked 95% of the playlist and by the end of the night, we played their entire new album. The full interview with their tracks included can be downloaded here or simply go to the radio archives page and download all The Vault interviews for free.

1. Entrenched - Intro (Mobilize)
2. Entrenched - Bred To Kill
3. Accept - Princess Of The Dawn (Request: Lumberjack)
4. Razor - Thrashdance (Request - Tony)
5. Suffocation - Funeral Inception
6. Entrenched - Landbrecher 666
7. Death - Symbolic
8. Whiplash - War Monger (Request - Tony)
9. Entrenched - ICBM
10. Entrenched - Frenzied Amputation
11. Children Of Bodom - Lake Bodom (Request - Ryan)
12. Sodom - Agent Orange
13. Pestilence - The Process Of Suffocation
14. Bolt Thrower - Cenotaph
15. Entrenched - Burnt And Destroyed
16. Blood Feast - Suicidal Mission (Request - Tony)
17. Hellwitch - Nosferatu
18. Carcass - Incarnate Solvent Abuse
19. Entrenched - Tooth And Nail
20. Morbid Angel - Chapel Of Ghouls
21. War Master - Chapel Of The Apocalypse
22. Entrenched - Anesthetic Death
23. Hail Of Bullets - Ordered Eastward
24. Asphyx - Death The Brutal Way
25. Decapitated - Spheres Of Madness
26. Gorematory - Zombie Slaughterfest
27. Gutwrench - Crawl
28. Napalm Death - I Abstain
29. Slaughterlord - Eulogy
30. Entrenched - Dropping The Tsar Bomb

31. Von - Watain
32. Hell Rot - Marginal

Once again a HUGE THANKS to Charles Snyder for coming on the show with me. I'll be sure to have him and, hopefully next time, guitarist Sean Fitzpatrick on the show again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Entrenched Exclusive Interview

Next week be sure to tune in to The Vault on WP88.7 for an exclusive interview with black thrash up-and-comers Entrenched who will talk about their new album, Preemptive Strike, their favorite artists, and a whole lot more.

The Vault airs every Wednesday night, 9PM EST.

Pek - Shut Up And Suffer

Look up the definition of raw in the dictionary and Pek's name will be there. At least, a picture of this 2005 demo will appear. Shut Up And Suffer is a sonic bludgeonment of auditory torture not unlike Von. Militant precision, instantaneous transitions into riffs that barely make sense and songs that begin and end in the duration it takes a bullet to end a life. Pek seem to take the stance that if a song can get it's point across in the minimal amount of time, then that's all the song needs. You'll find no selfish three minute solos, no Burzumesque hypnotic expanses and no "epic" compositions. Pek want to kill you immediately.

So does it work? Sometimes. Opening track Shut Up And Suffer, which includes the demo's intro is pretty much an album summary. Riff leading into riff, total disregard for songwriting - not that I think the album needs it - and primitive crushing components one after another until main man Pek, decides the song is done. I already mentioned Von and it's something like that though with a less complete concept of song structure. The seven tracks though have moments of noteworthy interest. Second track, "Pek" - maybe Pek is a little full of himself - starts off with a triumphantly evil march feel, "Surrounded By Evil" is simply weird, with an unsettling intro that's tough to follow followed by the strongest combination of riffs on the demo creating the highlight of the track. Sixth track, Deceased Fuckbeast, aside from having one of the more comedic album titles to exist from a Belgian band, is actually somewhat enjoyable in one of those "What-the-hell" kind of ways.

It's a demo for sure, though an odd little relic of black metal nonconformity. Not everyone is trying to sound like someone else and this is an example of the many different stylistic oddities you'll come across in the genre. Will everyone like this? Fuck no! Do I? I still don't really know but Pek and his machine-like drummer Nefasto have carved a nice chunk of the black metal flesh out for themselves to occupy. There are a strong grouping of fans out there who are into this and I'm sure any one who gets soggy over Von, Beherit or the more unique side of black metal will enjoy Pek's brand of indifference.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Playlist 05/04/2011

1. Mercyful Fate - The Oath (Request - Tony)
2. The Beast - Enemy Ace
3. Dokken - Into The Fire
4. Impaler - Crack That Whip
5. Overkill - Sonic Reducer
6. Overkill - Fatal If Swallowed
7. Type O Negative - Christian Woman (Request - Andrew)
8. Anthem - Black Eyed Tough
9. Helloween - I'm Alive
10. Coroner - Masked Jackal
11. Manilla Road - Out Of The Abyss
12. Sabbat - How Have The Mighty Fallen
13. Napalm Death - Suffer The Children
14. Sapremia - Spawn Of Desolation
15. Darkthrone - Under A Funeral Moon
16. Slauter Xstroyes - Battle Axe
17. Exciter - Iron Dogs (Request - Lumberjack)
18. Tad Morose - Lord On High
19. Sodom - Outbreak Of Evil (Request - Tony)
20. Morbid Angel - I
21. Pek - Surrounded By Evil
22. Virgin Black - Velvet Tongue
23. Nex - Over Fjell Og Gjennom Torner
24. Holy Cross - Twilight Of The Gods
25. Burzum - Morgenroede
26. Hammerfall - Heeding The Call
27. Teitanblood - Seven Chalices of Vomit And Blood
28. Stargazer - Pypes Of Psychosomatis
29. Primordial - Bloodied Yet Unbowed
30. Accept - Up To The Limit
31. Judas Priest - Freewheel Burning