Tag Archives: Relapse

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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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.

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“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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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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