020 Maryland Deathfest 2015

Chris and guest host Billy discuss the brutality of Maryland Deathfest 2015. Billy had an all-venues pass, so he ended up seeing many more bands than Chris did. Hanging out with Chris Dick and the gang made another Memorial Day weekend even more memorable! We were sad that Spence couldn’t join us, but next year will be different, he assured us. Here’s a smattering of our top picks of the weekend:

Tombs at Deathfest 2015

Tombs at Deathfest 2015

Vallenfyre, “Splinters” from Splinters (2014, Century Media)

            Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh is certainly exorcising his demons in Vallenfyre, replete with mega-doom chordage and guttural vocals. We thought their 2011 debut A Fragile King was pretty swell, but the recent Splinters album pushes the gloom envelope even further into doomdeath territory.

 

Master, “Smile as You’re Told” from The New Elite (2012, Pulverized)

Paul Speckmann may be the ultimate death-metal musician. Having recorded a handful of albums in the ’90s, he began working with the guys in Krabathor and ended up moving to the Czech Republic to join the band—how metal is that?!? This DM king was hailed loudly ‘n’ proudly on the Edison Lot stage.

 

Triptykon, “Tree of Suffocating Souls” from Melana Chasmata (2014, Century Media)

The mighty Celtic Frost lives on in Thomas Gabriel Warrior’s Triptykon, a doom/thrash/death amalgam that puts the “e” in extreme metal. With a limitless audience in the Internet age, Warrior is now more legendary than he ever was before, and his band slayed with effortless abandon in Baltimore.

 

Suffocation, “Entrails of You” from Suffocation (2006, Relapse)

Death-metal institution Suffocation delivered the goods like they always do, with frontman Frank Mullen hilariously chatting it up between songs and doing a blastbeat motion with his hand that was mimicked by the crowds for the entire weekend.

 

Obituary, “Violence” from Inked in Blood (2014, Relapse)

            One of the headliners that we were the most excited to see, Obituary did not disappoint, in a way. They covered a few new songs plus the usual suspects from their back catalog with dark, chugging riffage and John Tardy’s famous growl, yet they just didn’t seem as tight as we expected.

 

Razor, “Sucker for Punishment” from Open Hostility (1991, Relapse)

Other than seeing huge Razor backpatches on fans’ battle vests throughout the crowd, we really didn’t know much about Razor. This Canadian thrash band only gets together for festivals and one-off appearances, so the crowd was beyond stoked to see them. Kudos to Relapse for their reissued albums!

 

Goatsnake, “Elevated Man” from Black Age Blues (2015, Southern Lord)

Despite having the most gilded pipes of the weekend, Goatsnake vocalist Pete Stahl was the only band member at the fest who wore a Polo shirt onstage—which made him more metal than the unwashed hordes. This set was the only one to feature both harmonica and tambourine as well.

 

Winter, “Servants of the Warsmen” from Into Darkness (1990, Nuclear Blast)

What happens when a ’90s band is asked to play MDF but has only one album? They play that one album, and Winter has become experts at reproducing their sole release. Influential doom from a truly cvlt band, but we wish they had—at the very least—a sophomore album in the works!

 

Neurosis, “At the Well” from Honor Found in Decay (2012, Neurot Recordings)

Since they announced their retirement from extensive touring, Neurosis has become extremely sought after to play festivals. They’re also one of the few metal bands that started in the ’80s that have actually gotten better over the years without simply retreading their back catalog. Smothering doom!

 

Amorphis, “Black Winter Day” from Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994, Relapse)

Sunday’s headliners brought the frigid folktales of Finland to us sweaty festivalgoers. Amorphis played their pivotal Tales album in its entirety, and frontman Tomi Joutsen entraced the crowd like the professional that he is. All this, plus an urgent cover of “Vulgar Necrolatry” from their early days as Abhorrence for those Privilege of Evil adherents!

 

Cacophonous shout-outs to Chris Dick, Billy Gamble, Kevin Stewart-Panko, Sean Palmerston, Gordon Conrad, Ian Christe, Magnus Henriksson, bootleg patch vendors, and the lovely staff at Crazy John’s and Zombie BBQ! Here’s to MDF 2017!

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019 Machine Head

We’d like to welcome back Machine Head into the pantheon of quality metal with their brand-new album, Bloodstone & Diamonds, on Nuclear Blast Records! This is a band that has weathered a tremendous amount of criticism over the years, yet they still have the wherewithal to release one of the best albums of their career and continue to be a vital voice in the metal community. [Editor’s note:  this was supposed to coincide with Decibel’s Machinehead cover story.  We reference that issue a lot in this episode.  Alas, *sigh*, Spencer is slack and took 4 months to edit the damn thing.]

Thou canst get more metal than wearing a Rush Signals shirt.  Good thing they had 'em in black on that tour.

Thou canst get more metal than wearing a Rush Signals shirt. Good thing they had ’em in black on that tour.

“Davidian” from Burn My Eyes (1994, Roadrunner)

Oakland, CA-based guitarist Robb Flynn played with ’80s Bay Area thrash bands Forbidden Evil and then—and most famously—Vio-lence on three full-length albums and an EP. After a falling-out with the band, he left and formed Machine Head (NOT named after the 1972 Deep Purple album, contrary to popular belief). Monte Connor signed them to Roadrunner upon the strength of their demo, which later became Burn My Eyes, one of the greatest debut albums of its time. Heralded as the missing link between Pantera and Slayer, it was Roadrunner’s #1 top-selling album until Slipknot’s 1999 debut. It was produced by the famous Colin Richardson (Carcass, Napalm Death, Fear Factory, Brutal Truth, Fudge Tunnel, Bolt Thrower, et al.).

I'm not even sure where Chris got this.  Admittedly, it took me a second to realize that this is not the actual cover.  Can we write to Roadrunner about a possible reissue?

I’m not even sure where Chris got this. Admittedly, it took me a second to realize that this is not the actual cover. Can we write to Roadrunner about a possible reissue?

“Struck a Nerve” from The More Things Change… (1997, Roadrunner)

Once again produced by Colin Richardson, their sophomore album showed the band already aligning themselves with the nü-metal movement.  The video for the album’s first single, “Ten Ton Hammer,” shows Flynn dressed like Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies with a kerchief on his head, looking like a gangsta rapper! They didn’t use their signature MH diamond logo on the cover of this album—a visual cue to their stylistic shift—and other songs had those nü-metal underpinnings. Drummer Chris Kontos left and was replaced by Sacred Reich’s Dave McClain.

“The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears” from The Burning Red (1999, Roadrunner)

One of the most maligned albums of the ’90s, this is Machine Head’s #2 best-selling album behind BME. The single “From This Day” contained their first blatant rapping, and the subsequent video placed the band firmly in the nü-metal camp, with Flynn sporting spiky, Korn-esque hair and a red track suit! The first and only album produced by Ross Robinson (Korn, Limp Bizkit, Sepultura), TBR gained legions of fans of the nü-metal craze from Coal Chamber, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, et al. but lost fans from their core metal audience, who naturally thought they were selling out. Guitarist Logan Mader left for Soulfly and was replaced by Manmade God’s Ahrue Luster. This was also MH’s first standard release to include a cover: the Police’s “Message in a Bottle.”

Nu Metal, or what?

Nu Metal, or what? “The more that things change. . . the more they stay the same. (Hey, he was wearing a Rush shirt in the other photo. Why can’t I quote Neil Peart in this one?)

“Bulldozer” from Supercharger (2001, Roadrunner)

This album somewhat continues the rappish metal of TBR, though the music is heavier. The cover art did bring back the original MH diamond logo, but the music didn’t translate to anything that we were remotely interested in at the time…which is a shame, because they are some strong tunes on this release. It was produced by Johnny K (Staind, Mushroomhead, Disturbed, Sevendust), and in 2003, the band released their first live album, 2003’s Hellalive, and satisfied their contract with Roadrunner.

“Imperium” from Through The Ashes of Empires (2003, Roadrunner)

Roadrunner re-signed the band and released this album, which marked their re-ascendance to metal greatness: epic-length songs, darker material, and NO rap! Most bands that started out brutal then lapsed into mediocrity for whatever reason have this option to return to previous sounds, and this marked the beginning of Machine Head’s extreme metal Renaissance. Luster left for Ill Niño and was replaced by former Vio-lence guitarist Phil Demmel. This was the first album produced by Robb Flynn himself, and he would produce all albums henceforth.

“Aesthetics of Hate” from The Blackening (2007, Roadrunner)

Before this, the band released 2005’s Elegies, their first live DVD. The Blackening won awards, finally: “Album of the Decade” by Metal Hammer, and “Album of the Year” by Kerrang! “Aesthetics of Hate” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance but lost to Slayer; this was controversial, since Slayer had already won a Grammy the year before for the same album: 2006’s Christ Illusion.

“Pearls Before the Swine” from Unto the Locust (2011, Roadrunner)

Chris should’ve made this one of his albums of 2011, but he heard it too late! This album fires on all cylinders, and there is not one note wasted on it: incredibly dark and heavy. Many cite The Blackening as the best modern MH album, but we think this one is king. It contains covers of Judas Priest’s “The Sentinel” and a phenomenal take on Rush’s “Witch Hunt.” After this, the band released their second live album, 2012’s Machine F**king Head Live.

Being in Machine Head is almost as enjoyable as being in Nile (see:  episode 10).  Live at the Mayhem Festival, July 21, 2013

Being in Machine Head is almost as enjoyable as being in Nile (see: episode 10). Live at the Mayhem Festival, July 21, 2013

“Eyes of the Dead” from Bloodstone & Diamonds (2014, Nuclear Blast)

Their brand-new album with solid material continues the band’s impressive career turnaround. Overall, it’s much more melodic than Unto the Locust, and this time the band adds strings to a few songs. Longtime bassist Adam Duce was replaced by former Sanctity guitarist Jared MacEachern. The album is produced by Flynn and mixed by Colin Richardson.

018 Brutal Truth

BrutalTruth_logo_inv

Before Metal Urges was born, Brutal Truth was one of the first bands we talked about covering, and it just so happens that bassist/vocalist Danny Lilker announced last year that Brutal Truth, the band that he founded in 1990, is disbanding on Oct. 18 of this year, which was his 50th birthday. In a prepared statement, he remarked that he is “retiring from being a full-time recording and touring musician.” So this is a tribute to his longest-running band—long live Brutal Truth!

P.S.P.I.,” “Birth of Ignorance,” “Collateral Damage,” “Walking Corpse,” and “Time,” from Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses (1992, Earache)
BT was formed when Anthrax bassist Danny Lilker left thrash band Nuclear Assault. Their more-death-than-grind debut on Earache is one of our favorite metal debuts of all time. “Collateral Damage” holds a Guinness Book world record for the shortest video: 2 seconds long with 48 still photos displayed in rapid succession, ending with an explosion. “Walking Corpse” was later re-recorded in 2011 for a Decibel Magazine flexi.

BrutalTruth_NTC_1

“Black Door Mine,” “Godplayer,” “Ordinary Madness,” and “Choice of a New Generation,” from Need to Control (1994, Earache)
This was the mindblowing sophomore album from these soon-to-be grind freaks. Original drummer Scott Lewis was replaced by Ninefinger’s Rich Hoak, who has been their drummer ever since. Hoak changed the band’s output with his grind drumming style, whereas Lewis was more of a death-metal drummer. NTC had less death metal and more grind this time, yet it was hailed as their most progressive and experimental material. This is the band’s definitive album, though its music is not indicative of the majority of their output.

“Blind Leading the Blind,” “Pass Some Down,” and “Hypocrite Invasion,” from Kill Trend Suicide (1996, Relapse)
The band split from Earache because of ongoing frustrations with the label and joined Relapse, which certainly boosted their status as the premier grindcore label. BT would stay on Relapse for the rest of their career. KTS was a definite musical shift for the band: no more death-metal leanings, just straight-up grind, some slow, some fast: 10 songs on a mini-album. The cover art was photographed in the old Lancaster apartment of Pellet and Jeff Wagner, then publicists at Relapse.

Sounds of the Animal Kingdom album cover featuring the old Relapse UPS guy.

Sounds of the Animal Kingdom album cover featuring the old Relapse UPS guy.

“Jemenez Cricket,” “Callous,” and “Pork Farm,” from Sounds of the Animal Kingdom (1997, Relapse)
This album was a rapid follow-up to the very short KTS with much of the same grind. The cover art shows a half-man, half-ape—one of the coolest metal covers at the time. The model was actually Relapse’s UPS delivery man, and after the photo shoot they gave him a case of beer in payment!

“Sugar Daddy,” “Branded,” and “Humpty Finance,” from Evolution Through Revolution (2009, Relapse)
The band had broken up in 1998 and released a swansong compilation of odds-and-sods, 1999’s Goodbye Cruel World. During this hiatus, BT members kept themselves busy in other bands: vocalist Kevin Sharp joined Australian death/grinders Damaged for 2000’s Purified in Pain on Rotten Records. Before and during BT, Lilker played in the bands Anthrax, Exit-13, Nuclear Assault, Hemlock, The Ravenous, Stormtroopers of Death, Malformed Earthborn (Shane Embury’s noise band with former BT drummer Scott Lewis on their sole release, 1995’s Defiance of the Ugly by the Merely Repulsive), et al. After BT, Lilker starred in a reformed Nuclear Assault, Venomous Concept (with Sharp plus Danny Herrera and Shane Embury of Napalm Death). Hoak heads up his own grind band Total F**king Destruction and founded Deaf American Records. Longtime guitarist Brent “Gurn” McCarty didn’t return for this reunion; instead, Lethargy guitarist Eric Burke joined the ranks. ETR is much more grind-based than their other recordings, almost to the point of redundancy.

brutal-truth-51226c1708a24

“Simple Math,” “Malice,” “Swift and Violent (Swift Version),” and “Trash,” End Time (2011, Relapse)
End Time sounds like much of the same from ETR: very grindy, very fast, better production.

“The Stroy,” The Axiom of Post Inhumanity (2013, Relapse)
BT’s swan song is a split release with powerviolence noisemongers Bastard Noise from California. Bastard Noise have over 100 releases since the ’90s, so we’re sure BT were excited to do a split release with them. It’s fitting that their final (?) recording is noise, so our outro for this episode is a noise track similar to our episode intro: the noise track #1 from their debut album.

The Future of Brutal Truth?
Sharp is now in Primate (with Bill Kelliher of Mastodon), Lock Up (with Tomas Lindberg of At the Gates and Shane Embury of Napalm Death) and writes a monthly column for Decibel. Lilker is back in Nuclear Assault and is working on a new album for release in 2015; he adds, “I will still have creative output with my 2 local bands in Rochester NY, Nokturnal Hellstorm and Blurring and do the occasional project tour, but as of mid-October, Brutal Truth will no longer exist.” Hoak continues to have amazing drum faces in TFD and his ambient band Peacemaker.

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017 Alice in Chains


They're so metal, they even have a patch for your denim vest, dude.

We love Alice in Chains! And we were so inspired by Requiem Metal Podcast’s Alice in Chains Episode 164 that we wanted to do our own tribute to Layne Staley and the boys. Consider this a companion to the Requiem episode, and we guarantee that there’s no overlap in songs. AIC was the most metal of the Seattle grunge bands, naturally, and deserve lots of love from Metal Urges!

Look, ma!  A cassette tape!  How does that even work?!

Look, ma! A cassette tape! How does that eve work?!

“Whatcha Gonna Do (Demo),” 1999’s Music Bank (originally from 1988’s Treehouse Tapes)
The band was first called Diamond Lie before changing it to Alice ‘N Chains. Treehouse Tapes was AIC’s third demo as a band but their first as Alice in Chains (the band was called Alice ‘N Chains on the first two demos)—and their first to feature the classic line-up of Layne Staley (vocals), Jerry Cantrell (guitar), Mike Starr (bass), and Sean Kinney (drums), Four of the eight cuts were compiled on 1999’s Music Bank box set, and our pick, “Whatcha Gonna Do,” shows Staley’s obvious worship of Guns ‘N Roses’ Axl Rose (maybe Alice ‘N Chains was titled after G’NR?).

Facelift

“It Ain’t Like That” and “Love, Hate, Love,” Facelift (1990, Columbia)
The band’s debut album, Facelift, went gold after the video for “Man in the Box” went into heavy rotation on MTV. They opened the Clash of the Titans tour for Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer and also opened for Van Hagar on their For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour. Sadly, AIC lost their Best Hard Rock Grammy to Van Halen that year, mimicking a hauntingly similar upset during 1989’s Grammy Awards when Jethro Tull’s Crest of a Knave won over Metallica’s far superior …And Justice For All.

“Right Turn,” Sap EP (1992, Columbia)
This acoustic EP was an interesting shift for the band, released at the same time when Nirvana’s Nevermind was at the top of the charts, thus augmenting their grunge cred. It featured contributing Seattle mega-stars: Heart’s Ann Wilson, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm. “Right Turn” was credited to Alice Mudgarden in the liner notes because of Cornell and Arm’s vocals. AIC were featured as the bar band in Cameron Crowe’s 1992 movie Singles, and they recorded the classic “Would?” for its soundtrack.

Dirt Image

“Rain When I Die” and “Dam That River,” Dirt (1992, Columbia)
This was a busy year for the band: after mega-success with the Sap EP and Singles, they released their sophomore album Dirt, which turns out to be their defining album. It sold quadruple platinum and is the most popular album of their career. Slayer’s Tom Araya lent his screams to “Iron Gland.” AIC were one of the top featured bands on the Lollapalooza summer tour in 1993 but refused to headline; Primus gladly accepted. They opened for Ozzy Osbourne on his No More Tears tour. Bassist Mike Starr was having drug problems, so he was replaced by Ozzy bassist Mike Inez.

“What the Hell Have I? (Remix),” 1999’s Music Bank (from 1993’s Last Action Hero)
This was a predominantly metal soundtrack to Ahnold Schwarzenegger’s box-office flop. It featured non-album tracks from Megadeth, Anthrax, Tesla, Queensrÿche, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Fishbone, Aerosmith, et al. and spawned five singles in its wake! AIC was the only band featured to have two songs—this one and “A Little Bitter”—and were the only reasons to keep the CD until both tunes were compiled on 1999’s Music Bank.

“I Stay Away,” Jar of Flies EP (1994, Columbia)
This was first EP in rock history to hit #1 on the Billboard charts. After extensive touring in support of Dirt, the band decided to return to the studio and record acoustic songs like on Sap. Jar of Flies produced AIC’s first #1 song, “No Excuses”; second single was “I Stay Away.” Their summer ’94 tour was scheduled with Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, Danzig, and Fight, but Staley’s heroin addiction flared and the band backed out one day before the first gig; they were replaced by Candlebox, which proved to be pivotal for that band’s career.

“Again,” Alice in Chains (1995, Columbia)
Before recording this album, Staley joined Mad Season for a one-off album, Above, which featured members of Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, and the Walkabouts. That album produced a #2 single, “River of Deceit.” Staley rejoined AIC to record their self-titled album, also called the “Tripod” album because of the three-legged dog on the cover. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, though the band didn’t tour in support of this album because of Staley’s drug problems. Staley overdosed and died on April 19, 2002. Cantrell dedicates his second solo album, 2002’s Degradation Trip, to Staley.

“Check My Brain” and “A Looking in View,” Black Gives Way to Blue (Virgin, 2009)
After a few one-off shows with Comes With the Fall vocalist William DuVall, AIC begins to write brand-new material, the first without Staley at the helm. BGWTB is released in 2009 on Virgin, the band’s first non-Columbia release. “A Looking in View” and “Check My Brain” are the first two singles, respectively. Heavy touring followed, including the Blackdiamondskye tour with Deftones and Mastodon.
On March 8, 2011, former bassist Mike Starr died from a drug overdose; he had been the subject of a MTV reality show called Celebrity Rehab.

“Stone,” The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Columbia, 2013)
DuVall & company follow up BGWTB with The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, back on Columbia, and the album peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts. The title is a reference to a religious belief that Satan buried dinosaur bones in the earth to confuse believers.

Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

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016 Maryland DeathFest 2014

On the hotel nightstand.  In the drawer:  Gideon's Satanic Bible.

On the hotel nightstand. In the drawer: Gideon’s Satanic Bible.

For this episode, your intrepid metalhead Chris made his way down to Baltimore for MDF XII, and while mourning Spence’s absence, he drank in the synergistic vibe of the diverse crowd and hung out with Chris Dick of Decibel and Billy Gamble of Dig. The weather was amazing: sunny but cool for the leather-clad folks and that guy wearing only sneakers and a custom-made Death’s Symbolic Speedo. Billy was the only one of us who had an all-access pass, so he got to see Incantation, Asphyx, The Church of Pungent Stench, et al. at the smaller venues, while the two Chrises had to settle for the Edison lot only for the mainstage bands. Maybe the promoters will eventually have all the stages in one place, like a real festival! Special high-fives to Gordon Conrad, Sean Palmerston, Kevin Stewart-Panko, Ian Christe, and Magnus Henriksson! All the following songs were played live and are in semi-chronological order:

“Cold” from At the Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul (1995, Earache)

Arguably the most anticipated reunion of the year, these Gothenburg metal pioneers—the ones who put the “S” in NWOSDM—blasted through a treasure trove of gems to top off Friday’s events. Drummer Adrian Erlandsson missed some beats and dragged a bit through the first half of the set, but “Under the Serpent Sun,” “Windows,” “Blinded by Fear,” and “Kingdom Gone” were top-notch. Frontman Tomas Lindberg was nice enough to hang out with us while watching bands throughout the fest, too!

“Zombie Attack” from Tankard’s Zombie Attack (1986, Noise)

These German thrash stalwarts and self-proclaimed ‘Kings of Beer’ have released 16 full-lengths about brewskis since 1986—that’s more than one new album every 2 years! Much like Sacred Reich at last year’s fest, Tankard provided much comic relief in a set highlighted by “A Girl Called Cerveza,” “Ice-Olation,” “Die with a Beer in Your Hand,” and “Stay Thirsty!” Even funnier than the massive crowd sing-alongs were the choruses when frontman Andreas Geremia lifted his shirt and thumped his beergut with the mic to the beat of the tune. By the time of their finale, the eponymous “(Empty) Tankard,” we all wished for more…much more.

“Merciless Death” from Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends (1986, Combat)

What’s most amazing about these old-school L.A. thrashers is that drummer Gene Hoglan—who’s played in practically every band from Death to Dethklok—nailed every stroke and never broke a sweat. Since 1986’s Darkness Descends gets name-checked by lots of bands, the band stuck to that album (“Darkness Descends,” “Merciless Death,” “Perish in Flames,” “The Burning of Sodom”) with a few chestnuts (“We Have Arrived,” “Time Does Not Heal,” “Welcome to the Slaughter House”) in the mix. Word is that a new album is on the horizon, too!

“Neolithic” from Nocturnus’ The Key (1991, Earache)

Yeah, Nocturnus haven’t released anything since Ethereal Tomb, which resulted from a brief reunion in 2000. Original drummer/vocalist Mike Browning got this line-up together, but legally he’s not allowed to use the Nocturnus name, hence Nocturnus AD. Even though they were one of the first DM bands to incorporate keyboards, the tuneage sounded muddled as they chugged through The Key in its entirety. Browning was the original drummer for Morbid Angel, however, and after flubbing the first take, they successfully covered “Chapel of Ghouls” as their set closer. But does that mean they have to pay royalties twice?

Best T-shirt award:  guy with Gorguts Colored Sands parody. Best hat award:  Chris, who just popped out of a Viet Kong foxhole.

Best T-shirt award: guy with Gorguts Colored Sands parody.
Best hat award: Chris, who just popped out of a Viet Kong foxhole.

“The Longships Are Coming” from Unleashed’s Sworn Allegiance (2004, Century Media)

The longship definitively arrived at MDF with the Viking visage of Johnny Hedlund at the helm. Unleashed gave us one of the fest’s strongest sets, though we’d’ve preferred to hear their older death metal; they played nothing from their 1991 debut, and only “Never Ending Hate” from 1992’s Shadows in the Deep. Still, “To Asgaard We Fly,” “Death Metal Victory,” and “Wir Kapitulieren Niemals” slayed as usual…but three cuts from Midvinterblot? Seriously.

Soilent Green is (texting) people!

Soilent Green is (texting) people!

“Sewn Mouth Secrets” from Soilent Green’s Sewn Mouth Secrets (1998, Relapse)

Soilent Green live? Aren’t they too busy between guitarist Brian Patton’s Eyehategod and frontman Ben Falgoust’s Goatwhore tour schedules? Guitar strings shredded and snare snaps buzzed as Falgoust worked the crowd in fine form with their frenetic swamp-grind lockstep. The manic hordes were treated to “Build Fear,” It Was Just an Accident,” “Antioxidant,” plus “Numb Around the Heart” from that forgotten 2006 Sulaco split. Eyes rolled back in sockets of kvlt fans as the band played the first few notes of “Slapf**k” from their debut…tiiiiiight!

“This Place Is Poison” from Graves at Sea’s This Place Is Poison (2014, Eolian Empire)

Frankly, seeing Graves at Sea on a mainstage kinda blew minds on Sunday. This Portland, Oregon-based band has only released splits and EPs—yep, zero full-length releases in over 10 years. Yet they completely perforated eardrums with their numbing Yob-like sludge/doom. They rumbled through both cuts (“Confession” and “Betting on Black”) from their split with Sourvein, “This Place Is Poison,” and “Praise the Witch” from their Documents of Grief EP. We would’ve loved to hear their recent Black Sabbath cover of “Lord of This World,” but we can/will wait until next time.

“Le Toit Du Monde” from Gorguts’ Colored Sands (2013, Season of Mist)

Seeing Gorguts live nowadays is amazing, but seeing Gorguts boasting Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston from Dysrhythmia is even more so. Luc Lemay and co. are still playing difficult tech-metal but doing it very well. The setlist stuck to selections from the remarkable Colored Sands album, though the band also threw in death classics “Orphans of Sickness,” “Inverted,” and a rousing finale of “Obscura.” Their #1 fan was the guy in the smartly homemade Colored Sands T-shirt, though.

“Solitude” from Candlemass’ Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986, Black Dragon)

Obviously we haven’t kept up with doom originators Candlemass in quite some time, since Mats Levén was hired as the new singer after Solitude Aeturnus’ Robert Lowe was kicked out of the band in June 2012 due to poor live performances. Regardless, these Swedes had a tremendous stage presence and an eye-popping light show, and they stayed close to Messiah Marcolin-era material with “Mirror Mirror,” “Bewitched,” and “The Bells of Acheron.” With the exception of 2007’s “Emperor of the Void,” the rest were all late-‘80s selections, and man, does Levén have the pipes!

No, it isn't Ed Norton on a juice diet.  It's only Aaron Stainthorpe.

No, it isn’t Ed Norton on a juice diet. It’s only Aaron Stainthorpe.

“She Is the Dark” from My Dying Bride’s The Light at the End of the World (1999, Peaceville)

During a head-scratching set from Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, a bold fan yelled, “Where’s the ‘death’ in Deathfest?!?” Our sentiments exactly! But My Dying Bride were due to change that. After 17 years, our favorite UK doom ‘n’ gloomsters finally played on American soil again, and the anticipation was electric. Frontman Aaron Stainthorpe walked onstage, wearing a shirt and tie and fake blood dripping down his arms. Ripping through a setlist of crowd favorites—“Like Gods of the Sun,” “Turn Loose the Swans,” “The Dreadful Hours,” “The Cry of Mankind”—the band efficiently floored the sparse audience that stayed around to see the final act. Shudder to think that MDB are the only crusaders of the Peaceville Three who’ve never strayed from the path!

Here are our Top 10 crossed-finger predictions for MDF 2015:

  1. Massacre – with a strong new album Back From Beyond, they should’ve played this year!
  2. Loudblast – see #1.
  3. Spazztic Blurr or Lawnmower Deth – for comic relief. Think about it; it would be brilliant.
  4. Bolt Thrower – where they actually play a main stage this time.
  5. Solitude Aeturnus – why not, since Robert Lowe’s out of Candlemass?
  6. Pitchshifter – playing only classics, with nothing older than, say, 1993’s Desensitized.
  7. Mindrot – special one-off set to perform 1995’s Dawning in its entirety.
  8. Botch – special one-off set to perform 1999’s We Are the Romans in its entirety.
  9. Dystopia – not a stretch, since vocalist Dino Sommese is currently singing for Noothgrush.
  10. Acid Bath –will probably never, ever happen, but we can still hope.
I'm totally taking my family next year.  But mom won't be wearing her Pentagram Ass Cheek pants.  Hopefully.

I’m totally taking my family next year. But mom won’t be wearing her Pentagram Ass Cheek pants. Hopefully.

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015 Sweetish Death Metal vol 3: Carcass

Carcass-Logo

Welcome to Episode 015! Every fifth episode we devote to death metal, and the recently reunited UK titans Carcass certainly deserve recognition. The band reclaims their metal throne with the release of their mighty comeback album, Surgical Steel. We cover their career in reverse chronological order, starting with their most recent melodic death material and ending with their earliest grind.

 

“Captive Bolt Pistol,” “316L Grade Surgical Steel,”  “Unfit for Human Consumption” from Surgical Steel (2013, Nuclear Blast)

 

A captive bolt pistol.

I bet this’ll cure your migraine (a captive bolt pistol, duh).

Carcass’ first album in 17 years, Surgical Steel was the #1 Metal Album of 2013 by Metal Urges, Decibel, and many other outlets. Produced by Colin Richardson, it was recorded with only two original members, bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker and lead guitarist Bill Steer. Drummer Ken Owen had been replaced because he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage back in 1999 and couldn’t play drums at the level that Carcass required. Walker recruited Trigger the Bloodshed drummer Daniel Wilding, and guitarist Ben Ash was added to augment the live band. Prior to this reunion, the band had reunited for touring in 2007 with Walker, Steer, Necroticism-era guitarist Michael Amott (who founded Arch Enemy), and Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson (original). Amott & Erlandsson eventually departed to focus on Arch Enemy.

 

“I Told You So (Corporate Rock Really Does Suck)” from Wake Up and Smell the…Carcass (1996, Earache)

 

This cut was one of five unreleased tracks from the Swansong sessions, and Walker stated in interviews that these songs were stronger than the material on Swansong itself.

Those tracks were released along with other odds & sods on this posthumous compilation. No surprise that it didn’t make the Swansong cut with that title!

 

The much maligned Swansong.  But seriously, death metal would have been really popular if this thing didn't suck so much.

The much maligned Swansong. But seriously, death metal would have been really popular if this thing didn’t suck so much.

“R**k the Vote,” “Tomorrow Belongs To Nobody” from Swansong (1996, Earache)

 

Definitely the most accessible—and most divisive—album of their career, Swansong fully embraced the melodic death metal subgenre that they founded. It was recorded during Carcass’ major-label deal with Columbia Records, though the recording was fraught with difficulties, mostly because Columbia withdrew their support. Since Amott had left after Heartwork was recorded, guitarist Carlo Regadas joined for the recording. Walker said at the time that the album was taking on a Thin Lizzy, rock-based approach, and it shows in the basic verse/chorus/verse structure of a few songs. Carcass had broken up even before this album was released, and with Columbia keeping their distance, the album was released on Earache after all! With one of the worst metal album covers ever, Swansong is the album that everyone loves to hate…except us.

 

 

 

“Heartwork,” “This Mortal Coil” from Heartwork (1993, Earache)

 

Once upon a time, Carcass were hailed as grindcore godfathers, though they ushered in melodic death metal with Heartwork. Gone were Steer’s death vocals, and Walker’s vocals were cleaner but still growly. The lyrics steered away from the usual “medical dictionary” subject matter. With iconic artwork by H.R. Giger, Heartwork is considered one of metal’s greatest achievements and continues to influence hoards of bands around the world. After this album, Carcass signed with Columbia Records and began recording their major-label debut, the ill-fated Swansong.

 

“Rot ‘n’ Roll” from Heartwork EP (1993, Earache)

 

This EP was released one month before the full-length album. It previewed the title track from the Heartwork album, plus “Rot ‘n’ Roll” and “This Is Your Life.” The latter two tracks were later included on 1996’s Wake Up and Smell the…Carcass compilation.

 

“Tools of the Trade” from Tools of the Trade EP (1992, Earache)

 

This was released to coincide with the legendary Gods of Grind tour with Entombed, Cathedral, and Confessor. Three of the four tracks were later compiled on Wake Up and Smell the…Carcass.

 

“Corporal Jigsore Quandary” from Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious (1991, Earache)

 

This was the first album to feature guitarist Michael Amott, though Steer had written 95% of the guitar parts already. Amott contributed one riff plus leads. Again produced by Richardson, Necroticism was definitely death-metal but very progressive for the time. Along with Death’s Human (also released in 1991), Necroticism is still one of the shining gems in Carcass’ metal crown.

 

“Exhume to Consume” from Symphonies of Sickness (1989, Earache)

 

Their sophomore album found the band moving away from the grind sound and more toward the pure death-metal sound of the time: longer songs with varied tempos. Symphonies was the first time that Colin Richardson produced the band. Carnage guitarist Michael Amott joined the band during the touring cycle. The band recorded their second Peel Sessions EP, later included on 2004’s Choice Cuts compilation.

 

Check the dreads on a young Jeff Walker.  Or is it dredds?  Did he have to wash 'em and stuff?

Check the dreads on a young Bill Steer. Or is it dredds? Did he have to wash ’em and stuff?

“Maggot Colony” from Reek of Putrefaction (1988, Earache)

 

Bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker quit crust-punk band Electro Hippies to form Carcass. Bill Steer replaced guitarist Justin Broadrick in Napalm Death and recorded Side Two of Napalm’s Scum album in 1986. With its frenetic density and medical terminology-laden lyrics, Reek of Putrefaction made Carcass pioneers of the grindcore movement, and the famous Grindcrusher tour (with Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower) solidified their stance in the genre. Though the band was displeased with the production on Reek, John Peel, the famous Radio 1 DJ, loved it and promoted Carcass as one of his favorite bands. They recorded their first Peel Sessions EP in 1989, later included on the 2004 Choice Cuts compilation.

 

Carcass continue to tour, most recently headlining the Decibel Magazine Tour with Gorguts. With Surgical Steel hailed a grand return to form, who knows what the future holds for Carcass?

 

Now they're old guys.  But know this, youngsters:   Jeff Walker's still pissy and Bill Steer can still shred.

Now they’re old guys. But know this, youngsters: Jeff Walker’s still pissy and Bill Steer can still shred.

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014 Best of 2013

[Editor’s note:  Spencer was really lame and did not post this on time.  Metal Urges as a whole practiced due diligence in preparing, recording, and even writing this post on time.  Shame on you, Spencer]

We’re back with another year-end list, and this time we’re almost on time! This was another big year for reunions that resulted in new albums (for starters, Carcass and Broken Hope, both of whom made this list), old bands with amazing albums (Monster Magnet, Flotsam & Jetsam, Year of No Light, Gorguts, Immolation, Pyrexia, Autopsy), and relative newbies that totally owned the place (In Solitude, Watertank, Purson). There was a supergroup of note (Corrections House), and even a well-publicized swan song that didn’t suck (Cathedral). And no Converge this year to screw up our list, yay! Hopefully you’ll agree that our list meets and exceeds your expectations of what qualifies as metal…

Devourment:  their future's so bright, well. . .

Devourment: their future’s so bright, well. . .

#10: “Heaving Acid” from Devourment’s Conceived in Sewage (Relapse)

This quartet from Dallas, Texas has been slaughtering souls since 1995. Produced by Hate Eternal’s Erik Rutan at his Mana Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida (not Russia), Conceived in Sewage is their 5th full-length (4 studio albums plus 1 compilation) and their 1st for Relapse Records. Put yer deth on, minions!

Batillus or Predator?  Perhaps some other hydra-like beast.  You decide. Photo by Greg C

Batillus or Predator? Perhaps some other hydra-like beast. You decide.
Photo by Greg C http://www.gregcphotography.com/

#9: “Concrete” from Batillus’ Concrete Sustain (Seventh Rule)

Pronounced “Leh-nerd Skin-nerd” (just kidding, it’s “buh-TILL-us”), Batillus is an industrial metal band from New York City. Originally started as an instrumental trio in 2007, later incorporating black/death metal vocals, synths, and samples, Concrete Sustain is their 2nd full-length…and it is a whopper!

#8: “Pouring Out the Hatred” from Grime’s Deteriorate (Forcefield/Mordgrimm)

Grime is from Italy, but not the ancient Roman-laden parts: these guys hail from Trieste, a port city in the northernmost corner of the Adriatic Sea bordering Slovenia. They play Grief/Noothgrush-styled sludge doom, replete with creepy voice samples and absolutely smothering chordage. The cover art for Deteriorate is by Jason Barnett, a Texas-based street artist who’s also done covers for Noothgrush and Cleric.

Grime

Grime.

#7: “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny” from The Ocean’s Pelagial (Metal Blade)

Based in Berlin, Germany, The Ocean is more of a collective: guest musicians contribute to each album, along with the core members of the group, led by guitarist Robin Staps. Pelagial is their 7th full-length and is a concept album about the ocean: each song is named after a deeper layer of water, and the music gets denser and darker as the album progresses. The cut we chose, “Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny,” is the 2nd track and is very melodic, since it’s closest to the surface.

Th Oceans contained in a pool.  Wow, that's like poetry, man.

The Oceans contained in a pool. Wow, that’s like poetry, man.

Doom kings we call Kongh.

Doom kings we call Kongh.

#6: “Rendered Into Lard” from Broken Hope’s Omen of Disease (Century Media)

After a decade of inactivity, Chicago’s death dealers Broken Hope reunite with a new vocalist and release their 6th full-length and one of their best, Omen of Disease. The deluxe CD comes with a bonus DVD chronicling the band’s career—which is absolutely essential for any death-metal fan—and included is a chapter on Joe Ptacek, their original vocalist who died in 2010.

#5: “The Portals” from Kongh’s Sole Creation (Agonia)

Formed in 2004, Kongh hail from Nässjö, a small town in southern Sweden (hometown of the Backyard Babies, if that matters). Their 2nd album, 2009’s Shadows of the Shapeless, was one of our top albums of that year, but we didn’t really dig this new album until the 5th or 6th spin. Sole Creation is so different from Shadows: where Shadows was more post-hardcore doom like Lento or Callisto, Sole Creation is more head-down doom like Yob mixed with High on Fire.

#4: “In Remorse” from Author & Punisher’s Women & Children (Seventh Rule)

One-man band Tristan Shone does it again with his 5th full-length, Women & Children. It’s less brutal industrial than last year’s Ursus Americanus, but still just as infectious. We have an exclusive interview with Tristan to be featured as a future episode, so stay tuned!

#3: “In Awe Of” from Cult of Luna’s Vertikal (Indie Recordings)

Hailing from Umeå, Sweden, Cult of Luna has long been a proponent of the harsher end of atmospheric post-hardcore. Vertikal is their 7th full-length and the first in which they’ve slowed things down to incorporate more melodic sections, like Jesu or Hyatari. They also released a companion EP, titled Vertikal II, with extra songs and a Justin Broadrick remix (!).

#2: “Winter” from Secrets of the Sky’s To Sail Black Waters (Kolony)

An amazing band from Oakland, California, Secrets of the Sky burst onto the scene with their award-winning debut, To Sail Black Waters. They were originally signed to Gravedancer Records, but the label went under and ripped off the band in the process; Kolony Records emerged from the dust to release the majestic new album. To Sail Black Waters is what we wish Novembers Doom became, instead of the overtly melancholic doom that they’ve choked out over the past few albums.

And our #1 pick: “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills” from Carcass’ Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)

The godfathers of UK grindcore & melodic death metal return with their first album in 17 years! Surgical Steel sounds more vicious than their genre-defining 1993 opus, Heartwork—may be their best album EVER. We’ve got a big surprise planned for Episode #015 as a continuation of our death metal theme…so stay tuned!

Best Carcass ever?  Hmm. . .

Best Carcass ever? Hmm. . .

 

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013 Eyehategod

On August 23, 2013, EyeHateGod drummer Joey LaCaze passed away after finishing another successful tour with the band. He died from respiratory failure, as he’d been a longtime asthmatic. We’ve always wanted to do an EHG episode—one of the very first bands we talked about covering, actually—and though this is not exactly the reason we wanted to do this episode, we tip our Slayer ball caps to the fallen drummer of one of our very favorite bands. Joey was also active in Outlaw Order and Clearlight, but we stick to his tried-and-true EHG output for this episode. (Joey’s page on the EHG site.)

Joey La Caze hammerin' skins back in the day.

Joey La Caze hammerin’ skins back in the day. (photo from Facebook)

“Depress,” “Man Is Too Ignorant to Exist,” “Left to Starve” from In the Name of Suffering (1992, Century Media)

EHG’s original band name was original band name was Snuffleapagus on Acid (!). 1992’s In the Name of Suffering was their debut album after recording two demos: Garden Dwarf Woman Driver and Lack of Almost Everything (the latter of which is named after a Charles Bukowski poem). It was recorded at Festival Studios in Kenner, Louisiana for $1,000, and the band had no idea what to do in a real studio, so they “went with instinct.” The album was first released on a French label called Intellectual Convulsion, and reportedly they pressed around 2,000 copies, gave the band members five copies each, then promptly disappeared! Century Media offered to re-release it and send them on tour in Europe with Crowbar. This album really helped to define the “Louisiana sound,” as it mixed punk rock with doom. This strain of metal was started by Exhorder, who first combined thrash with doom metal.

“Blank,” “Shop Lift,” “Serving Time in the Middle of Nowhere,” “Southern Discomfort” from Take as Needed for Pain (1993, Century Media)

Mike Williams’ favorite album title of any band, Take as Needed for Pain was released in 1993. EHG had finally reached the apex of their Southern hardcore blues sound that they’d been striving for. The album was recorded at Studio 13 in New Orleans, which was on the thirteenth floor of an abandoned department store on Canal Street. Mike was homeless at the time, having been thrown out by an ex-girlfriend, and was “living” in a flea-infested space above a nightclub on Bourbon Street. They toured with Buzzov*en, White Zombie, and Corrosion of Conformity. Most of their live set, to this day, comes from this album, as it is the favorite of most of the band. The remaster includes six bonus tracks compiled from their hard-to-find seven-inches on Bovine, Slap-A-Ham, and Ax/ction Records (“Serving Time” and “Southern Discomfort” are two of them). Back in the day, these singles served as amazing holdovers for fans while waiting for new material between full-lengths.

Jimmy Bower can barely control his axe.  It is possessed by a thousand demons.  (photo by Diana Lee Zadlo of MetalSucks.com)

Jimmy Bower can barely control his axe. It is possessed by a thousand demons. (photo by Diana Lee Zadlo of MetalSucks.com)

“Dixie Whiskey,” “Lack of Almost Everything,” “Peace Thru War (Thru Peace and War)” from Dopesick (1996, Century Media)

Mike Williams had moved to NYC to write for Metal Maniacs magazine with his then-girlfriend, editor Alicia Morgan (then vocalist for doom band 13, who did two split singles with EHG) and was taking a Greyhound bus back and forth to New Orleans to practice and record this album. Alicia even co-wrote some of the lyrics on this album. Dopesick was recorded at Side One Studios in New Orleans with Billy Anderson and Pepper Keenan at the controls. This album had a slightly different sound from the previous two records, but it still dripped feedback-laden blues that was now the signature EHG sound of sludge metal. The band toured extensively in bigger venues and stadiums with White Zombie and Pantera.

Unsettling artwork in EHG's typical collage style.

Unsettling artwork in EHG’s typical collage style.

“Jack Ass in the Will of God” and “Self Medication Blues” from Confederacy of Ruined Lives (2000, Century Media)

Before this album came out, Mike Williams quit the band briefly in 1998 while on tour with Acid Bath and Crowbar. In the interim, Century Media released the Southern Discomfort compilation in early 2000, with the Confederacy album following in September of 2000. EHG’s first and only live album, 10 Years of Abuse (and Still Broke), was released in 2001. Confederacy was recorded at Balance Productions in Mandeville, LA and produced by Scott Fortman, guitarist for Ugly Kid Joe and owner of this studio.

“Age of Bootcamp” from Preaching the End Time Message (2005, Emetic)

Preaching was a second compilation of previously released tracks from various splits, soundtracks, etc. “Age of Bootcamp” is taken from the 2002 split with Soilent Green on Incision Records. Also included on this album are three demo tracks of then-new songs that were to appear on their next full-length, recorded in 2005.

“New Orleans Is the New Vietnam” from New Orleans Is the New Vietnam 7” (2012, A389)

 

“New Orleans Is the New Vietnam” was in their live set for a year or two. Joey did a great must-hear interview with our friend Teabag Stallone & Lizardmessiah on Core of Destruction Radio in February of 2013. According to Joey, the new EHG record called Possession with Intent to Distribute, and he stated that he’d finished the drum tracks for fifteen songs at the time of the interview. Metal Archives lists that the band is now signed to Housecore Records, Phil Anselmo’s label. Joey had also been working for years on independent noise projects and had “thousands of tapes” of sounds that he used! His last project was called Solemn Sickness Continuum and had opened for Mike’s Corrections House with Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Sanford Parker (Nachtmystium), and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza). Joey spoke candidly about wanting this project and others released this year (2013), so who knows what we may see for sale in the future?

Here’s to one of metal’s greatest drummers, Joey LaCaze (1971-2013)! May he rest in peace. Joey’s family set up an account for the benefit of his daughter, Lilith LaCaze. Checks can be made payable to the Lilith LaCaze or Joseph LaCaze donation fund at any Capital One Bank in any city. Click here to find a Capital One bank near you.

Tags: Eyehategod, EHG, Joey Lacaze, Mike Williams, Jimmy Bower, Teabag Stallone, Lizardmessiah, Core of Destruction, Outlaw Order, Clearlight, Take as Need for Pain, Dopesick, New Orleans Is the New Vietnam, Nola, Confederacy of Ruined Lives, In the Name of Suffering, Century Media, Emetic, A389, Lilith

012 Maryland Death Fest 2013

As if Deathfest or inner city Baltimore aren't brutal enough. . .

As if Deathfest or inner city Baltimore aren’t brutal enough. . .

This year, both of us attended Maryland Deathfest to witness the metal event of the year. Not only did we join Chris Dick of Decibel for band sets, Bergers cookies, and late-night chili dogs, but we also met Mark Rudolph of Requiem Metal Podcast to talk shop about podcasting. The weather in Baltimore was unseasonably pleasant, and we all had a blast hanging out and breathing in the not-so-fetid air of the Charm City. Shout-outs to our comrades Sean Palmerston, Kevin Stewart-Panko, Gordon Conrad, Ian Christe, and Magnus Henriksson! All the following songs were played live and are in chronological order:

“Incarnated Solvent Abuse” from Carcass’ Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious (1991, Earache)

The reunited Carcass—well, Jeff Walker, Bill Steer, and the new blood—came to slay, and slay they did indeed. The godfathers of UK grindcore who pioneered the melodic death metal subgenre even have a new album, Surgical Steel, out October 1 on Nuclear Blast. Mark your calendars!

Pelican gettin' all Pink Floyd-y.

Pelican gettin’ all Pink Floyd-y.

“Ephemeral” from Pelican’s Ephemeral EP (2009, Southern Lord)

Some fans may’ve thought that post-rockers Pelican didn’t belong at MDF, but actually they added a much needed diversity to the brutal mix. I found it touching that before playing two new songs, guitarist Trevor de Brauw asked the crowd politely to refrain from recording the songs and posting them online: a heartfelt plea from a true artist. Sadly, this made even more people pull out their cells and record the proceedings!

“Skybone” from The Obsessed’s Incarnate (1999, Southern Lord)

The Obsessed, the true grandfathers of doom, formed in 1976 (!) but hadn’t played together since the band broke up around 1995. A few festival gigs and here they are in Baltimore, their first hometown gig in twenty-odd years. For all you collectors: “Skybone” was originally released on the 1991 Hellhound Records comp What the Hell! and later included on their final full-length, The Church Within (1994, Columbia/Hellhound). Wino’s long locks are graying and sophisticating as the years roll on.

When Eric eats a bannana, he becomes. . . BANANAMAN!

When Eric eats a bannana, he becomes. . . BANANAMAN!

“I Am God” from Broken Hope’s Loathing (1997, Metal Blade)

Chicago’s Broken Hope have peddled meat & potatoes death metal since 1991, to varying levels of acclaim. Critics severely panned their early albums, but 1997’s Loathing introduced a more technical style, furthered by 1999’s Grotesque Blessings. Founding throat Joe Ptacek left in 1999 and tragically died in 2010, but the band reunited with Gorgasm vocalist Damian Leski and recorded their first album in almost fifteen years, Omen of Disease, out September 30 on Century Media!

“Night Goat” from Melvins’ Houdini (1993, Atlantic)

Ahh, the Melvins…what can we say about these guys?!? We’ve loved them ever since Houdini blew our minds back in high school, regardless of how spotty or inaccessible their output has been since then. We thought that their inclusion at MDF didn’t make the most perfect sense but were glad when they stuck to their Atlantic catalog for their set list. King Buzzo dressed like a wizard for the festivities, and thankfully Dale Crover was NOT wearing only a Speedo!

“Lifer” from Down’s NOLA (1995, Elektra)

Down is Phil Anselmo’s most famous on-and-off band outside of Pantera, still going strong since 1995. Our enthusiasm for their albums has decidedly waned since the initial fireworks of NOLA, mainly due to the band’s extreme lethargy in releasing albums (usually 5-7 years between them, due to the obligations of the members’ main bands). Yet they released the new Down IV Part I – The Purple EP last year, and it wasn’t half bad. We just wish Pepper Keenan would rejoin COC and set them straight!

“Independent” from Sacred Reich’s Independent (1993, Hollywood)

Straight-up thrash from Phoenix, Sacred Reich was an early signing to Metal Blade in 1987, and major-label Hollywood Records picked them up for only one album, 1993’s Independent. We feel that the Reich hasn’t received a whole lotta love over the years, so we were very pleased with their very enthusiastic reception at MDF. As bassist/vocalist Phil Rind commented during their set, “You younger fans don’t know that we used to a cool band. Now we’re just fat!”

“Dragonaut” from Sleep’s Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1993, Earache)

Since 1991, San Francisco’s infamous Sleep have been the progenitors of stoner doom alongside Kyuss and Monster Magnet. They’re also one of the only metal bands that’ve released only one truly great album before breaking up, the pioneering 1993’s Sleep’s Holy Mountain, which spawned numerous sound-alikes. Check out the original video for “Dragonaut” here [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-FjO3E8K-E].

“Road of Kings” from Manilla Road’s Open the Gates (1985, Black Dragon)

Three crucial game-changing points to remember about Manilla Road: (1) their hometown is the awesome Midwest burg of Wichita, Kansas; (2) they began crafting their cult traditional metal sound in 1981, while most of their fans were still sucking their thumbs; and (3) they’ve released a whopping 18 official albums! The MDF crowd was visibly stoked to see these guys, especially founding guitarist/vocalist Mark ‘The Shark’ Shelton, now 56 years young and rocking like he was a teenager!

You're never too old to play guitar either.

You’re never too old to play guitar either.

“Treat Me Right” from Pentagram’s Last Rites (2011, Metal Blade)

If you haven’t seen the recent documentary Last Days Here about Bobby Leibling’s return to metal, please binge-stream it on Netflix asap. The elder statesman of Sabbath-inspired doom, Leibling was late as usual, but this crowd didn’t mind as they gave this 60-year-old metalhead an ear-splitting ovation as he shuffled onstage. Bug-eyed Bobby aimed to please with fan faves like “Be Forewarned,” “Livin’ in a Ram’s Head,” “20 Buck Spin” (which inspired the record label of the same name), and of course “Forever My Queen.”

“Black Metal” from Venom’s Black Metal (1982, Neat)

We’ve never quite understood the appeal of England’s Venom. They’re known for extremely influential proto-thrash that started as the NWOBHM movement was ebbing. They coined the term “black metal” as the title of their 1982 album and inevitably named an entire metal subgenre/movement. They formed in 1979, before most of their fans were born. But when Cronos took the stage to the fathoms-deep bellows of the MDF crowd, we understood everything. This is metal, after all.

Look:  RequiemMetalUrgesPodcast.

Look: RequiemMetalUrgesPodcast.

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010 Sweetish Death Metal vol. 2

Continuing our SDM series (this happens every 5th episode because there is too much great death metal out there for us to cover in single-band episodes), this episode’s theme is “new material from the genre’s leaders”: every one of these albums was released in 2012. Plus, this is really a tribute to all these classic DM bands!

“Sarcophagic Frenzy” from Cannibal Corpse’s Torture (Metal Blade)
Hard to believe that Torture is Cannibal’s 12th studio album since their 1990 debut, Eaten Back to Life! These Buffalo, New York natives later moved to Tampa to pioneer the “Tampa Death Metal” scene and record with producer Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios. Cannibal still sounds as vital as ever, despite the band’s creative nadir in the late ’90s after founding vocalist Chris Barnes departed to form Six Feet Under. Drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz and bassist Alex Webster are the only original members still in the band. Watch them slay on the Decibel tour this summer with Napalm Death and Immolation!

Grave

Grave

“Encountering the Divine” from Grave’s Endless Procession of Souls (Century Media)
This is Grave’s 10th studio album since their 1991 debut, Into the Grave. This Swedish group is considered royalty among old-school Swedish death along with Unleashed, Entombed and Dismember, and guitarist/vocalist Ola Lindgren is the only original member still in the band.

“Gathering the Batallions” from Unleashed’s Odalheim (Nuclear Blast)
Odalheim is Unleashed’s 11th studio album since their 1991 debut, Where No Life Dwells. Like Grave, this is another Swedish band which paved the way for the NWOSDM movement. Bassist/vocalist Johnny Hedlund and drummer Anders Schultz are the only original members still in the band; in fact, Hedlund played in an early line-up of Nihilist, which spawned Entombed.

“The Gods Who Light Up the Sky at the Gate of Sethu” from Nile’s At the Gate of Sethu (Nuclear Blast)
This is Nile’s 7th studio album since their 1995 debut EP, Festivals of Atonement. This band is from our home state of South Carolina in Greenville and quickly gained recognition for their wild Egyptian mythology references. Guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders is the only original member still in the band. As opposed to Unleashed, this guitar solo from Nile is all about speed and fretboard gymnastics, though the song gets slightly theatrical near the end.

It is such a joy to play guitar in Nile.

It is such a joy to play guitar in Nile.

“Red-Skinned Scapegoat” from Cryptopsy’s Cryptopsy (Cryptopsy/Candlelight)
This self-titled record is Cryptopsy’s 7th studio album since their 1994 debut, Blasphemy Made Flesh. One of Canada’s most popular metal bands, Cryptopsy hail from Montréal, and guitarist Jon Levasseur and drummer Flo Mounier (considered one of metal’s top skinsmen) are the only original members still with the group. This self-titled album is considered a back-to-their-roots release of the tech-death that made them famous. Last year, they also released a two-CD compilation with three new songs, The Best of Us Bleed.

“18 Days” from Six Feet Under’s Undead (Metal Blade)
Undead is Six Feet Under’s 9th studio album since their 1995 debut, Haunted. Their 10th album, Unborn, was just released in February of this year. Vocalist Chris Barnes—who left Cannibal Corpse to head SFU—is the only original member still in the band, which once boasted Allen West of Obituary and Terry Butler of Death. Depending on whom you ask, SFU is both worshiped by fans and reviled by critics worldwide. Stay tuned, as there’s a SFU episode in our future!

“Redirect the Evil” from Master’s The New Elite (Pulverised)
The New Elite is Master’s 11th (or 12th, depending on which you’re counting) studio album since their 1990 debut, Master. Guitarist/vocalist Paul Speckmann is the only original member still in the band and is without a doubt one of the hardest working musicians in the metal underground. He hails from Chicago and was a member of Warcry when they were included on the fourth of Metal Blade’s ultra-famous Metal Massacre compilations. He moved to the Czech Republic to pursue his band—how metal is that?!?

Does Asphyx's rehearsal space smell like beer and farts too?  Photo by Dario Dumancic (moltenmagazine.com)

Does Asphyx’s rehearsal space smell like beer and farts too? Photo by Dario Dumancic (moltenmagazine.com)

“Der Landser” from Asphyx’s Deathhammer (Century Media)
Deathhammer is Asphyx’s 8th studio album since their 1991 debut, The Rack, not counting the Crush the Cenotaph EP or the Soulburn record. Vocalist Martin Van Drunen and drummer Bob Bagchus are the only original members still in the band. This group is considered among the top Dutch death/thrash bands of metal’s early years along with Pestilence (Martin Van Drunen sang on the first two Pestilence albums, including their 1989 sophomore release, Consuming Impulse, which was just inducted into the Decibel Hall of Fame by our friend Chris Dick).

“Transcend into Absolute Dissolution” from Incantation’s Vanquish in Vengeance (Listenable)
Vanquish in Vengeance is Incantation’s 9th studio album since their 1992 debut, Onward to Golgotha.
Guitarist John McEntee is the only original member still in the band. Compared to other Northeast DM bands like Immolation, Suffocation and other bands whose names end in -tion, Incantation have consistently released strong DM that never veers off-course. Incantation are also featured in our Episode 011: Best of 2012, so please check that out!

Vanquish in Vengeance album cover.

Vanquish in Vengeance album cover.

“Broken People” from Autopsy’s All Tomorrow’s Funerals (Peaceville)
All Tomorrow’s Funerals is a remastered collection of all four OOP EPs, rarities, and brand new studio recordings from these Bay Area death metal mavens. What we find fascinating about this band is that their sound really hasn’t changed much from their humble beginnings: still raw production, grumbly vocals, etc. This song is a brand-new track from this compilation and still sounds like early ’90s DM! How do they do that?!?

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