Tag Archives: Bolt Thrower

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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