Saturday, December 29, 2007

Top Ten of 2007

Sometimes you go with your gut. This list is by no means complete, and I’m probably neglecting tons of shit (let me know). Here it is, the Metal Flows In My Veins Top Ten List for 2007.

1. Wolves In The Throne Room- Two Hunters (Southern Lord)
2. Mayhem- Ordo Ad Chao (Season Of Mist)
3. Requiem- Premier Killing League (Massacre)
4. Nile- Ithyphallic (Nuclear Blast)
5. High On Fire- Death Is This Communion (Relapse)
6. Obituary- Xecutioner’s Return (Candlelight)
7. Blood Red Throne- Come Death (Earache)
8. Forest Silence- The Philosophy Of Winter (Candlelight)
9. Pig Destroyer- Phantom Limb (Relapse)
10. Municipal Waste- The Art Of Partying (Earache)

Surprisingly good: Megadeth- United Abominations (Roadrunner)

Honorable mentions: Glorior Belli- Manifesting The Raging Beast (Southern Lord), Marduk- Rom 5:12 (Regain), Trelldom- Til Minne (Regain), Ensiferum- Victory Songs (Candlelight), and Deathspell Omega- Fas-Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

Huge disappointment: Angelcorpse- Of Lucifer And Lightning (Osmose)

Mild disappointment: Dimmu Borgir- In Sorte Diaboli (Nuclear Blast)

Albums that I wish that I had more time to listen to: Xasthur- Defective Epitaph (Hydra Head), Exodus- The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A (Nuclear Blast), Drudkh- Estrangement (Supernal), Behemoth- The Apostasy (Regain), Caina- Mourner (Profound Lore), and just about every other album cited while you’re saying to yourself, “Why didn’t this moron pick ________________?”

Best gig: I went to a ton of concerts this year, but the best was 1349/ Goatwhore/ Nachtmystium/ Averse Sefira at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood back in April.

2008: A new Slayer album? A new Testament album? More Gorgoroth fallout? Can I possibly convince she who shall not be denied to let me go to Wacken? Another asshole in the White House claiming to be more Christian than thou? Led Zeppelin coming to Los Angeles?!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Birthday...And A Brief Blast...

Today is Sir Isaac Newton's 365th birthday (born December 25, 1642, Julian calendar).

The publication of Principia in 1687, which quantified mechanics and unified celestial motion and motion near the Earth's surface (it all came down to 1/20th of an inch, or 1.36mm), represents the ascent of modern science and will forever cast aside irrationality, regardless of how the irrational continue to attempt to rule the lives of others.

Yeah, I know that Newton also dabbled in Biblical chronology and, late in life, enthusiastically sent counterfeiters to the gallows while in charge of the Royal Mint. None of that matters; what does matter is that Newton demonstrated conclusively that reason triumphs superstition.

Another brief blast comes in the form of "Endstilles Reich", the fifth full-length from Germany's Endstille.

Endstille have been consistent throughout their career, producing excellent albums one after another consisting of all out, fast black metal in the vein of Dark Funeral or Marduk, but with a bit of a rawer edge than the slick productions from those bands of late. You can read Crin's Live 4 Metal review here.

Regain Records

Sorry, song removed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Brief Blasts...

As I’ve previously mentioned, once in awhile I’ll receive promos that have been covered by other writers at Live 4 Metal. Here are three short reviews of some of those promos.

V:28- VioLution

(Vendlus Records)

V:28 is a Norwegian band playing a mix of styles over a trilogy of three full-lengths, culminating with “VioLution” on Vendlus Records. V:28 nominally play melodic death metal, but there are liberal amounts of symphonic black metal, clean, epic vocal styles, and preferentially applied progressive touches sprinkled throughout “VioLution”, an album that defies easy classification. “VioLution” is a bit all over the map, but V:28 avoid some of the pitfalls that could come with a wide mix of styles. Disparate elements seamlessly weave together to produce an album worthy of the attention of fans of different genres. You can read Ray Van Horn Jr.'s review here.

Gallhammer- Ill Innocence

(Peaceville Records)

Up next is a brief look at the all-female, Japanese trio Gallhammer with the release of “Ill Innocence”, their second full-length overall and their first full-length from uberlabel extraordinaire Peaceville. I haven’t had much exposure to Gallhammer, but with Celtic Frost t-shirts and a name evocative of homage acts such as Warhammer, you can guess at my expectations. Although an influence from Hellhammer is fleetingly present with some heavy riffs, Gallhammer are another band, like V:28, playing a wide range of styles. Variations in tempo, catchy riffs, some progressive touches, a thin production, and some truly bizarre moments that include girlish, high-pitched vocals and moments of out and out pure hardcore produce another atypical release for this batch of reviews. Gallhammer is another act that is all over the map; however, once more, Gallhammer is able to blend together all of the different elements to produce an album that easily crosses genres. You can read D.W.'s review here.

Moonspell- Under Satanae


Moonspell probably needs no introduction to most, but I’ve only paid attention to Portugal’s finest over their last couple of full-lengths. Although usually pigeonholed today as Gothic metal, their early work is symphonic black metal. Here, “Under Satanae” released on SPV, covers some of the band’s early demo material and their first EP (“Anno Satanae” and “Under The Moonspell”, respectively) with a modern sound. I’m not familiar with the original material, but “Under Satanae” consists of mature, symphonic black metal with an emphasis on musicianship and variation. “Under Satanae” does a brilliant job of showcasing a band that was already light years ahead of other established acts when they first appeared on the scene. The last song is from the band's pre-Moonspell days as Morbid God entitled “Serpent Angel”, and resides firmly in the symphonic black metal genre. You can read Steve's review here.

Sorry, songs removed.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Death By Decibels!! Review!! Interviews!!

Death By Decibels

β= 10 log (I/Io)

Bands: Vader, Malevolent Creation, Cattle Decapitation, Light This City, Abigail Williams, and Veil Of Maya

Venue: House of Blues, West Hollywood, California

Date: December 3, 2007

Oh, boy! You had better believe that this one was on my list! Not just for the two main headliners, but also because I was able to score my very first face-to-face interviews with none other than Phil Fasciana and Peter Wiwczarek from, respectively, Malevolent Creation and Vader!! Look for those interviews immediately after the review of the show!

At any rate, the first band of the evening was Veil Of Maya, a deathcore band from the Chicago area. I was totally unfamiliar with the band prior to their performance, and I wasn’t particularly expecting anything of note. However, much to my surprise, Veil Of Maya were a fairly tight outfit with some catchy songs, presumably from their debut full-length from 2006 entitled “All Things Set Aside”. The response from the sparse crowd was positive with a small pit opening up towards the end of their 20 minute or so set.

Abigail Williams were up next, and I had seen them about a year ago opening up for Dark Funeral and Enslaved. Immediately of note was a new keyboardist, Kristen Randall. Abigail Williams’ version of melodic black metal combined with metalcore has garnered them some notice, and some of the fans in the growing crowd were definitely into their performance. Good musicianship and tight songs were on display, but the time is fast approaching for Abigail Williams to show us all whether or not the hype is worth it with a rapidly becoming overdue full-length debut.

San Francisco’s female fronted, melodic death metal act Light This City were up next and I spent most of their set propped up against the bar. Once again, another competent performance, but the crowd’s response was rather muted.

Fresh off of their win at the recent San Diego Music Awards were none other than gore/ vegetarian greats Cattle Decapitation. I’ve seen them a few times over the last few years (unavoidable in SoCal), and they always seem to be a bit off. At any rate, any previous difficulties the band may have had were absent as Cattle Decapitation ripped through a taut set that immediately had the crowd moving. Flying spittle, gore metal hilarity, and feel good song titles such as “Testicular Manslaughter” were all present during an impressive performance. A band on the rise?

As enjoyable as the warm up acts were, I was there to see Malevolent Creation and Vader. A few months back, Malevolent Creation floored me with an impressive performance at the Gathering Of The Bestial Legion III and I was hoping for a repeat. Flying through a 45 minute set, Malevolent Creation were firing on all cylinders with a set list that included tracks from “The Ten Commandments” through “Doomsday X”. Of note were the additions of Fabian Aguirre on drums, and Marco Martell on bass. Each fit in well with the veterans with a taut performance.

Vader are a death metal machine, period. Anticipation had grown considerably by the time Vader took the stage with a blistering rendition of “Shadow Fear”. Unbelievable musicianship, energy, and stage presence typified Vader’s hour-long set with tracks from throughout the band’s long discography. Notables included “Dark Age” and “Black To The Blind” as well as the set closer, a mind melting version of “Black Sabbath”. Throughout the set, a huge pit opened up as the crowd raged. Fantastic!

Luckily, though, this one was over at a reasonable time and I was actually able to get about 6 hours of sleep before getting up for work the next morning. However, my eardrums and neck were definitely shattered from yet another great show! Here's the usual...

First, the t-shirt haul...

Veil Of Maya...

Abigail Williams...

Light This City...

Cattle Decapitation...

Malevolent Creation...


And the videos...

First, two from Malevolent Creation

And, one from Vader...

Well, I'm a bit burned out after three killer shows in less than four weeks. Next up will be Exodus on January 21, 2008!

Now, the interviews!!

House of Blues, West Hollywood, California

December 3, 2007

Prior to the Death By Decibels show at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, I had the opportunity to separately interview Phil Fasciana of Malevolent Creation and Peter Wiwczarek of Vader. The first interview was conducted with Phil at about 5pm.

The Dragon of M87: “Doomsday X” was released earlier this year and has been out for awhile. Overall, are you pleased with the album, and how have you reacted to the metal community’s response to the album?

Phil Fasciana: Well, we’re completely happy with it, I mean, it took us some time because it was weird writing songs on our own instead of doing it all together. We were sending CDs back and forth to each other and we rehearsed before we went into the studio together. Everything surprisingly went smoothly. The recording of the album went well, and we banged it out really fast. We’re totally happy with the result of the album and from all of the reviews that I’ve read; we really haven’t had any shitty ones. People are happy, it sounds like a Malevolent album.

DS: The writing and recording process was different than from albums in the past?

PF: Yeah, because all five of us don’t live together in the same state. There are three of us in Florida and a couple of us in New York. Our singer, Brett, is in New York.

DS: You still have connections to Buffalo?

PF: Yeah, Brett moved back up there, but, we made it happen. It took a little longer than normal and it was a bit of a headache, but we’ve been playing together long enough that everyone knew what was right, and it all worked out.

DS: Have the crowds responded positively to the new songs?

PF: Oh, yeah. We’ve been playing three songs off the new album, even opening up with them, and so far, so good. Lots of positive responses.

DS: Can you tell me a little about Dave Culross’ departure from the band and how was Fabian Aguirre recruited for the drum position?

PF: The problem wasn’t with Dave; it was with Dave’s girlfriend. She thinks that she’s Sharon Osbourne! We were over in Europe and he had apparently given his girlfriend the password to our website, and she started dipping her hands into our business! She was feuding with promoters and making stupid demands; stuff that the band, our manager, or our attorney should be doing. She created so many fucking problems for everybody. She basically runs his life and she said, “He’ll leave this band”, and we were like, fine! He does this all the time; he wants to be on the albums and then he never wants to tour. Tony Laureno has done more tours for us than Dave ever did, which is weird.

DS: Even though Dave’s appeared on multiple albums?

PF: Yeah, he still has done tours with us, but, it’s one thing after another with this girl and finally she said, “I’ll have him walk away from the band” and we said, “Fine.” As soon as she made that announcement and put it on the Internet, we didn’t even have to look. We had over 100 drummers contact us and Fabian was right in Ft. Lauderdale. He had wanted to try out for us three years ago, but Dave had said no, no, don’t get another drummer, I’m in this 100%, I’ll do the tours, etc. This, of course, didn’t happen as Tony did the tours. As for Fabian, we gave him 15 songs to learn and he banged them out as if it was nothing. We were already familiar with him from a band in Ft. Lauderdale called Synapticide (they’re a little bit more melodic) and we were a bit shocked that it was that easy. We said to Fabian, “Thank you very much!” and to Dave, now you’re out of our fucking life. No offense to Dave, he’s a great drummer, but, you know, the band is five guys and not five guys and someone’s girlfriend.

DS: You guys have been with Nuclear Blast since “The Will To Kill”. Given that their roster is huge, are you satisfied with their support?

PF: Yeah, actually, they contacted us when we were in Europe touring for “Envenomed”. We were able to eventually work out a deal as the German guys over there are old school death metal fans. We knew that we weren’t going to be at the top of their priority list as they have shitloads of commercial bands that sell shitloads of records. As long as we knew that our records would be in stores, and the distribution issue was over with and there was some good promotion from magazines and whatnot. Then, it’s up to us to produce a good record and tour to support it. It’s worked out fine, especially since Gerardo Martinez runs the (Nuclear Blast) U.S. office. Without him, a lot of shit wouldn’t be happening. He is a huge factor of us still being a band.

DS: Has this worked out better than Arctic?

PF: Well, actually, Arctic is us and Arctic actually still owns these albums. We’re on Nuclear Blast, but the albums are licensed to them. They take full control over that, but, in reality, we still own these records.

DS: You retain the rights to your own art.

PF: That’s right, especially after getting screwed over by Pavement. Our attorney said that we could do this and not get gypped like we did. Being with Nuclear Blast, however, we knew would work out very well for Malevolent Creation.

DS: How was the Death By Decibels tour put together and when were you asked to join?

PF: A couple of months ago. Our booking agent, Ash Avildsen from TKO, who’s put together tours for us in the past, put this one together and we’ve never had a problem. In the past, we had problems with various booking agents that would lie to us, issues with money, this and that. But, with Avildsen, we’ve never had a problem. He’s put together some good tours for us. He also did Summer Slaughter and basically told Nuclear Blast, “This is what I want to do” and have us with Vader. Of course, we’ve been touring with Vader since 1995. It’s great to tour with our friends, but the four other bands, I had never even heard of them. It turns out, though, that they’re all killer bands! I guess I’m not in the loop with the new school stuff, you know, ha ha! I’m not a MySpace fanatic or anything, but, it’s cool. A lot of these younger bands with us are really good.

DS: It’s good to see the headliners giving the support to the younger bands.

PF: Oh, yeah, sure, they’re all really good guys and girls.

DS: You guys have been to L.A. twice in the last few months. Tell us a little bit about your inclusion on the Gathering of Bestial Legion III show. Also, no offense to Sadistic Intent/ Possessed, but did you guys feel slighted by playing underneath them?

PF: I love Sadistic Intent and I’m still waiting for that damn album to ever come out. We didn’t feel undermined or anything like that. We knew that it was going to be a good show regardless. Simply, we flew out, we played, and we flew back. It was great.

DS: Are there any plans to resurrect Hate Plow?

PF: Yes. I’m finally going to have some free time and we’re going to put together this third album with Kam Lee as the vocalist. The drummer is either going to be Derek Roddy, or maybe the drummer for Abigail Williams. It’s going to be nothing but speed, everything that we could possibly do. I’m going to get the best people I know and friends to make it easy on me. I played guitar and bass on both of the previous albums, Rob Barrett didn’t even play on the albums.

DS: I don’t recall, but is Barrett credited on the albums?

PF: Yeah, he’s credited with being in the band, but he never wrote anything or anything like that. I put all of the music down and he wasn’t even there. He did the tours and stuff like that. He wanted to be involved, but he’s a lazy bastard, ha ha! So, it’s going to me on guitar along with J.P. Soars, who played in Divine Empire. He’s been out of the metal loop for a little while, playing in jazz and blues bands around Florida, but he’s got the itch to grind. Just before this tour, I was talking to him and I said, “Do you want to do the Hate Plow?” As far as I know, Derek’s down for doing it, Kam, me, J.P., and Danny Lilker on bass. We’ll record our tracks, send them to Danny, and we’ll make it work. We’re going to try to make the fastest fucking grind album that we possibly can. That’s what the whole goal is, you know? It’s a band for fun, but when we do it, I want to do it full force.

DS: Lastly, do you think that the overall state of death metal as a genre is good, and what are you currently listening to?

PF: Well, you know, with death metal there was that dead period from the mid ‘90s to ’00, ‘01 or so, but, I have to admit, everything’s gotten a lot better. As far as us touring and other tour packages and stuff, metal’s certainly a lot more popular now than it was back then. There’s a lot of good bands that have put out good records, so it’s cool.

As for what I’m currently listening to, I would have to say that we’ve been listening to a lot of Saxon on the bus! We’re getting the old school, real big time! After playing death metal all night, we don’t go on the bus and put on more, ha ha! We’ve been listening to a lot of old metal, lots of classics. The stuff we were listening to when we were 12 or 13. Saxon, old Priest, and old Maiden. That’s what I’m currently chilling with, ha ha!

DS: Phil, thank you very much for your time.

PF: Thank you, hope you enjoy the show.

DS: Believe me, I will.

And I did. Special thanks to Phil Fasciana, Malevolent Creation, Julian Hollowell, and Jerry Graham.

While I was there, I also spoke informally with Julian Hollowell of Kult Ov Azazel, who was working the tour as a tech. He indicated that Kult Ov Azazel is definitely alive with eight of ten working songs finished for the next album. He hopes to enter the studio soon and put together a tour of the U.S. soon after.

Phil Fasciana and I...

After finishing with Phil, I spoke to Peter Wiwczarek of Vader at about 6pm.

The Dragon of M8h: Are you pleased with “Impressions In Blood”, and how have you reacted to the metal community’s response to the album?

Peter Wiwczarek: Well, it’s been some time since we recorded the album, and we’re almost done with the promotion. It’s been almost two years, but it was something both fresh and refreshed for Vader. Prior to that, we had recorded a mini-album called “The Art Of War”, which, we could say, was a fresh start for Vader. It was a fresh sound. As for the extreme part of the metal community, we’re very pleased because the reaction has been more than satisfactory. That’s important to us because we’re artists; we do music, we do art, and the reactions to it, the emotions are important. There is no art without a reaction.

DS: Otherwise, what’s the point?

PW: Yeah, yeah, it’s good to know that after so many years that we still have a reaction from fans and new generations of fans. So, we’re pretty much satisfied, but we still have saved something for the next album.

DS: Some of our younger readers may not realize that the band began while the Iron Curtain was still up. What did death metal mean to you as a kid growing up in that situation? How has death metal’s relevance changed for you over the years?

PW: It’s good for the kids to know. When we started, we came to the U.S. for the first time with Deicide and Suffocation in ’93, a pretty good start, ha ha! So, we were like a band from an exotic country. People didn’t really know who we were, just a band from another country. No one knew that there was anything in the Eastern countries. We were breaking through at that time. Now, we are a death metal band pretty much known throughout the world, but metal has certainly changed in the meantime. I remember in the beginning, when we first started in ’83 we were an extreme band, but similar to the NWOBHM style such as Saxon, Motorhead, and Judas Priest. These bands were an enormous influence. Then, “Show No Mercy” came out and changed everything, especially the speed. We started to play faster and everything was different. A few years after that album was released, there was a Slayer influence in Vader. We had Doc in the band and, since that time, we started to create Vader like the band is today with this kind of style. That was something fresh and new for Doc, and we started to play faster. Also, I started singing in English. Before that, we had another singer singing in Polish. That was also the time that we started to invade the world with demo tapes.

DS: Yeah, I remember those days.

PW: Those were good days. The metal scene was more passionate than it seems today, especially in Poland, where there wasn’t much available. Sometimes we had to travel for hours just to tape some demo. It was hard, but the passion was there. Today, though, even in Poland, even if maybe Slayer were playing, people would get lazy and say, “Oh, I don’t want to go, it’s too far,” etc. There doesn’t seem to be much passion.

Metal became a big business and maybe something has changed in the minds of the younger generation. They’re still coming to shows, but they’d rather come to spectacular shows and festivals with big bands and thousands of people. I feel something waning, you know? When we started, the bands were sort of like a brotherhood. Maybe something will change in the future, but, to me, that’s the biggest difference. Metal has become more commercial with the younger generation.

DS: Art forms seem to go up and down in terms of popularity and so forth…

PW: Yes, but metal is metal and is probably not going to change too much. It’s become a style which, like rock n’ roll, rules the music, you know? Ha ha! 90% of the music out there seems to be some form of rock n’ roll.

DS: Would you say that death metal is a healthy art form, or is it stagnating in your opinion?

PW: You know, I’m too busy to follow it all. So, we do what we do and transform our emotions into music. Of course, though, something is happening. We see new bands coming up and there are some new styles, but, something is still going on, which is good. It’s not for me to decide what is good and what isn’t. History is going to do that. It’s all about what you feel.

Today, though, too many kids want to be famous. They want to be stars like what they see on TV. MTV, you know, poisons minds, ha ha!

DS: Yeah, I agree!

PW: In the beginning, though, MTV was different. I think that hard rock and heavy metal made them famous. Then they started to forget about it, the roots so to speak. But, you know, there are two of us sitting here into the extreme wings of metal, so I think that it’s going to be alright, ha ha!

DS: So, to some extent, does that keep you going after twenty odd years? Do you feel that you, or the band, suffer from any sort of burn out in any way?

PW: No, no, there is still so much to say, so much to do. We’ve become like an engine. Since we became professional musicians, this has become our job. It’s a big part of our life. We’re recording, touring, the music, etc.; we put all of our attention into that. We’ve got way more to say, way more to do without having to think about a regular life. Of course, it’s not something spectacular in that you’re not going to become a rich man being a death metal musician. But, what we have is good although we do sacrifice for the music. It can be good, but it’s not easy.

A lot of bands get into music because it’s fun; you can play, you can travel across the world, and so on. But, you don’t have your privacy, you don’t see your family, your house and things like that. It’s hard.

DS: The response to the new DVD has been very positive. Can you tell us a little about how the project was put together?

PW: I’m happy that the response has been positive. But, I know how the plans were supposed to be for the DVD, and it was supposed to be way better. We wanted to create something extraordinary. We chose a regular venue to record it, and we wanted to record it from the point of view of the fans without thousands of fucking cameras because you lose something from the show, you know, the metal. We wanted to keep that spirit and we failed. The problem was that we were on tour and couldn’t remain in control. Second, we wanted to have shots from behind the scenes and backstage and show what’s going on in black and white when you, the fan in the mosh pit, can’t see us. We wanted to show our life behind that. That failed as well, and we were pissed off because it was very important to us. We also wanted to put in some very old shots from the ‘80s and ‘90s. But, we may be keeping that for the upcoming album and something special for next year.

DS: There’s more for Vader to do, you said.

PW: Yeah.

DS: So, you have mixed feelings about the film?

PW: Yeah, it was supposed to be way better, something different. Now, it’s just a pretty regular DVD. Next time, we’ll hold more of everything in hand. As artists, we don’t just want to put out a routine DVD.

DS: Lastly, what are you currently listening to?

PW: Oh, man, that’s hard to say now. Of course, I’m a metalhead, so a big percentage of what I listen to is metal. Metal for me is still a lot of the old stuff, what was fun for me in the beginning. But, every now and then, if I get something flashy, I’ll listen to something different, even pop music. Depends on mood. If I want to relax, I don’t put on Suffocation, things like that. I’ll play a soundtrack, that sort of thing, sometimes some blues. There’s so much that I like to listen to, but not everything, though, I hate hip hop. There’s so much out there, though, that I try to take a lot for inspiration.

DS: Thank you for your time.

PW: Thank you.

Special thanks to Peter Wiwczarek, Vader, and Jerry Graham.

Peter, Daray, and I...

In closing, I found all of the people that I spoke to in both bands to be very friendly and gracious. I also enjoyed hearing Phil reminisce a little bit about people in metal that he knows, such as Shane Embury (who was in attendance at the show, by the way), Lemmy, and Gene Hoglan. Julian Hollowell was a really nice guy, as well.

So, here's a rip from Kult Ov Azazel from "The World, The Flesh, And The Devil"...

Sorry, song removed.