The 15th of September sees the start of Incubate, an annual cultural festival held in the heart of Tilburg, The Netherlands. The entire week will be filled with exhibitions, lectures, and performances, spread throughout the entire city. The festival focuses on elements from the fringes of the city’s culture, and consequently houses many alternative bands which would not look out of place at Tilburg’s other alternative spectacle, Roadburn. Indeed, many of the bands who have performed at this and previous editions of Incubate have also played at Roadburn. I will walk you through some of the bands that will make their appearance this year.
One of the Dutch bands that will play Incubate is Dodecahedron. While they fit the genre of Black metal, they have an impressive originality with a lot of emphasis on atmospherics.
From Belgium comes the band with the interesting name: Kiss the Anus of a Black Cat. This psychedelic neo-folk band has focused heavily on dark folk in their previous albums, but their new album is very synth-heavy by comparison.
Long Distance Callingfrom Germany are a progressive post-rock band who have experimented with many different sides of their music. This performance at Incubate will give them a chance to showcase their varied and melodious work.
A ‘haunted voodoo village’ in Sweden brings us Goat, a psychedelic worldbeat band which comprises of masked and costumed men and women performing energetic and original music which calls for a lot of dancing around. Goat are a stage-filling spectacle that will leave a lasting impression.
Another amazing show is expected from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (Godspeed You! Black Emperor). This Canadian quintet combines classical instruments with a punk-rock and post-punk style, and promise to fill the theatre with their sound.
Probably the biggest band to grace Incubate with their presence this year is Wovenhand. This dark country band from the USA has a truly unique sound. The music combined with the deeply moving lyrics of David Eugene Edwards is truly spectacular, and with this year’s Refractory Obdurate still fresh, this is a show that mustn’t be missed.
Ghost Cult Magazine is proud to announce the official launch of our very own podcast! The podcast is hosted by Omar Cordy and will be a hub of conversation about metal and other heavy and progressive music, beyond what you see daily on the website or on our other channels.
Episode I of the Ghost Cult podcast features a conversation with owner and Chief Editor Keith (Keefy) Chachkes and covers a multitude of topics. We also have an interview with Matt from King Parrot, an Underground Bands Spotlight with Icarus (Iceland) and much more. Thanks for checking it out and feel free to send us a message or a comment with some feedback!
YOB and Pallbearer are both out on the road in support of stellar new albums. YOB’sClearing The Path To Ascend(Neurot) received a 9/10 from Ghost Cult earlier this month. Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore) was a rare 10/10 from us and was our August Album of the month. Both bands recent teamed up for a co-headlining run of dates in the UK and Luke Denham of Luke Denham Photography caught both bands in front of his lens. A full review is coming soon. In the mean time, enjoy these shots!
Sunday sees the sun come out again, and the weekend rapidly coming to an end. To ease the pain of Sonisphere being over for another year, ska-punk legends Reel Big Fish run riot on the Bohemia stage with a setlist made up of happy-go-lucky, bouncy ska hits. Disappointingly, the sound cut out for ‘Where Have You Been’, causing the audience to flit between chanting to get the sound back on as soon as possible, to helping the band out singing along word for word when the chorus kicks in. The ever notorious ‘S.R’ (‘Suburban Rhythm’) and the bands penchant for playing parts of the song in varying genres throughout the duration gives fans a chance to skank, mosh and any other form of dance that tickles their fancy.
Boston-Irish punks Dropkick Murphys are next, their whisky soaked bar room anthems in full swing today, kicking off with the well suited ‘The Boys Are Back’ before following it up with raucous renditions of ‘Black Velvet Band’, ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ and ‘Shipping Up To Boston’. Despite a hefty collection of songs from previous albums, the Celtic boys opt for playing a fair few from their 2013 album Signed & Sealed In Blood, and it’s a credit to the guys that these tracks are as well received as ones that have been around for years, ‘Rose Tattoo’ being a notable favourite of the crowd.
Over at the Apollo stage, grunge legends Alice In Chains are in full swing, singer William DuVall once again proving his worth as he throws himself around the stage, his vocals mixing perfectly with guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s harmonies. ‘Dam That River’, ‘Man in the Box’ and ‘Stone’ all make obvious appearances in the set, sounding as good now as they ever did back in the day. After their comeback five years ago, Alice In Chains certainly set the record straight for any disbelievers whose opinons may have ever swayed towards their comeback being an unsuccessful one.
Finally, Metallica bring the weekend to a blinding close, the songs they perform chosen entirely by Sonisphere attendees and fans who’ve spent the last few months casting their votes in the run up to the festival, some of whom were invited on-stage to announce them to the audience. Obviously, there were the odd grumble here and there as some songs are cut from their usual set list, but in all honesty, it’s hard to argue with the likes of ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and all the other hits they cram into their two hour performance. It’s a shame that the screens at each side of the stage were unfortunately hindered by the lack of backdrop due to some issues earlier on in the day, meaning that it wasn’t until dark that those of us vertically challenged and/or stood further to the back were able to watch the performance properly. Striding back on stage for their encore of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, James Hetfield announces ‘…And Justice For All’ as the song that had won the vote from the ongoing polls, before ‘Seek and Destroy’ brings the main stage to a close for another year.
With just enough left in our vocal chords to have a sing along to some classic 90’s grunge, The Defiled top off the weekend with their ‘Nirvana Defiled’ set. Playing Kurt Cobain, singer Stitch pays homage and does justice to the raspy, gravelly vocals that Cobain was notorious for, as well as pulling off a performance whilst seemingly a little bit too tipsy. Playing the part of Courtney Love, The AvD wanders the stage in a skimpy dress as his band members crash their way through ‘Rape Me’, ‘Lithium’, ‘Heart Shaped Box’ before ending with the obvious choice ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
With the dawn of Saturday morning comes the rain, but if ever there was a band to provide an antidote to the grey skies, it’s British classics Chas & Dave. Though somewhat hard to grasp that the Cockney legends are sharing the stage with the likes of Slayer and Carcass, there’s no doubt that Chas & Dave’s back catalogue of hits such as ‘Gertcha’, ‘Rabbit’ and ‘The Sideboard Song’ is the perfect way to ease those hangovers and build you up for the rest of the days music.
On the opposing Apollo stage, Ghost take to the stage. A band notoriously ridiculed for their ghoulish garb, they’ve still drawn a large crowd to watch their own brand of heavy doom metal. With a set list severely lacking in any major stand out hits, Papa Emeritus and his Nameless Ghouls still manage to keep the attention of the crowd, the grim grey skies providing the perfect backdrop to witness this Swedish six piece at their best.
Over in the Bohemia tent, Finnish glam metallers Reckless Love welcome an eager crowd in out of the rain, singer Olli Herman sending the girls insane with his leather clad hips thrusting and gyrating as he belts out ‘Animal Attraction’, ‘On The Radio’ and ‘Beautiful Bomb’. Akin to an ever so slightly more serious Steel Panther, Reckless Love certainly know how to fill a tent with both a huge audience and blistering, ear splitting hair metal.
Frank Turner makes his Sonisphere debut, and he clearly couldn’t be any happier that he’s got the chance to coincide this with performing on the same stage as his idols Iron Maiden, a fact that he makes no attempt at hiding throughout his set. It’s a shame then, that he plays to a disappointingly uninterested crowd, save for a handful of die hard fans down the front. Thankfully, it turns out that Frank and his Sleeping Souls put on a rip roaring performance regardless; from opening track ‘Photosynthesise’ to the ever poignant ‘Long Live The Queen’, right until set closer ‘Four Simple Words’.
Despite only playing their last ever gig barely a year and a half ago, Hundred Reasons regroup to play their rescheduled Sonisphere show after the last one was cancelled along with the whole festival back in 2012, with none other than ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ in it’s entirety. The album, released back in ’02, is wonderfully nostalgic; ageless songs such as ‘Answers’, ‘Falter’ and climactic closing song ‘Avalanche’ cause widespread sing-alongs across the entire crowd. It’s hard to walk away from the Saturn stage after watching such a performance knowing that there’ll be nothing from the Hundred Reasons camp any time soon, but it does instil hope in the hearts of their fans that this might not necessarily be a one-off show.
It’s Deftones time back over at the Apollo, and despite there being a good few moshpits and circle pits opening up nearer to the front of the stage, I find myself willing the band to end their fourteen song set by the time they’re only just halfway through. Whether it’s a combination of not knowing much of the material they played or a general lull in the afternoons atmosphere, the Californian five piece failed to entertain not only myself, but a good chunk of the audience who were stood further to the back.
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Saturday night at Sonisphere 2014 plays host to the final date of an epic three year tour by Iron Maiden, and what better way to end it than for it to coincide with Knebworth’s 40th anniversary of hosting live music. Pulling out the big guns with plenty of fire canons, smoke and other pyro, their setlist is a triumph; crammed with all the hits from their forty year repertoire. With his unmistakeable ‘Scream for me Knebworth!’, Bruce Dickinson tells us we’re a ‘rowdy and thirsty bunch’ before launching into classics such as ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Run To The Hills’, the list is endless. Even the ever changing backdrops and various versions of mascot Eddie are overshadowed by the blazing performance that Iron Maiden put on. Even for someone who might not be their biggest fan, it’s hard not to get caught up in the show. Welcomed back onstage for their encore by a recording of a Winston Churchill speech, the band hint towards a new album in the near future, before ending the evening on ‘Sanctuary’.
Skeletonwitch continues up their climb up the modern metal ladder. They seem to be a band generally liked by many, with no real haters as far as I can tell. Their infectious combination of blackened thrash metal frames them as a crossover act for fans of many genres of metal. It doesn’t hurt that they are a tight live act and a lot of fun to see on stage. Waiting patiently for a legit headline tour, not just off dates here and there, the band promised to reward faithful fans with a deep set list. I rolled with Ghost Cult photog Meg Loyal, and we got there early, mingling with a lot of Boston Metaldom’s usual suspects.
Starting things off right was Black Anvil. They immediately ripped Cambridge a new hole from the jump with the lively, caustic stage show and brutal sounds. I was an immediate fan of their album Hail Death (Relapse) which is a modern masterpiece, and it took me by surprise as the venerable NYDM and NYBM scene, although historically great, hasn’t turned out a band that really captured my heart a long time. I think even the early crowd in the venue was shocked at how killer their set was. They played with the energy and power of a headliner and really inspired the early crowd to move around a bit and hurt each other. This is a band definitely on the rise, so don’t sleep on them.
Ghoul is always a lot of fun live and they were the perfect band for the middle slot on this tour. Our heroes from Creepsylvania always come to party with GWAR-inspired fake blood, and all kinds of crazy characters as a part of their performance. More than anything, Ghoul is a killer band with sick chops playing a fun take on a deathly take on old-school Bay Area thrash metal. There were circle pits galore, crazy breakdown and mass hilarity ensued. They definitely had their own core of fans in the house based on all the Ghoul merch being sported (fail!), and also bought and toted (good job!). It’s rare that you laugh as much as you headbang at a show. GWAR (RIP Dave Brockie) is one band that has always done that for me and Ghoul carries on that tradition to the hilt. Do yourself a solid and go pick up their latest EP Hang Ten (Tankcrimes) or any of their albums really.
Time to die for the Witch! The thing I like about The Sinclair is they do run a tight ship. The change over was fast and the band hit the stage with a quickness. There isn’t a bad place to watch the show from in the entire room and I had a good spot. I was interested to see if the crowd had any energy left at all since the Ghoul set was a non-stop mosh-pit frenzy. When Skeletonwitch opened up with ‘I Am of Death (Hell Has Arrived)’, their past go-to closer, it was a glorious moment. It can be hard for bands to break their own mold and change things up, so kudos to them for that. This was a portend of things to come with an excellent set list of “hits” and deep cuts they promised.
And what a set is was! The band brandished their musical might this time with a relentless performance that definitely had the mark of greatness. The fans drank, danced, headbanged and screamed along with every word. Chance Garnette and crew whipped the crowd into a frenzy with cut after cut from their repertoire. Chance paced the stage, inciting more and more fury from the pit and the rest of the crowd. Even up in the rafters, you could see people were feeling it too. This was an awesome night rushing towards an awesome finish; as the band closed out the night with mostly old-school tracks. On this evening if you were in the house, you knew you were witnessing one of the ascendant bands in the American metal scene. Hailz!
“This is the Puya comin’ straight to ya! This is the Puya comin’ straight to ya!” Puerto Rico based Latin metallers Puya have returned from their dormancy to embark on a brief tour of the USA. They hit a bunch of East Coast dates, landed at Sirius XM studios in New York City and and appeared with Jose Mangin on Liquid Metal, and more. The band is revving up their engines again on their way to participate in the Patria Grande Festival in Cuba this November. Hopefully more tours and new music are on the horizon for the ground-breaking act that combined Latin Jazz, hardcore metal, funk and Nu Metal. Check out our photo set from their recent Boston show at The Middle East Downstairs. A full review is coming soon.
Legendary noise, post-metal pioneers Today Is The Day are readying their new album Animal Mother, for release on Southern Lord. They have dropped a new single in the form of a malicious new video for the song ‘Masada’. The video was created with David Hall of Handshake Inc. Led by mastermind Steve Austin, TITD boasts a killer new lineup consisting of Sean Conkling (Regression, Burn Your Halo, Sprawl) and drummer Jeff Lohrber (Enabler, ex-Harlots).
From the Press Release:
The first single from Today Is The Day’s tenth LP, Animal Mother, has been released via Metal Injection through a disturbing new video for the ninth track, “Masada,” as the band begins to divulge the newest developments in their massive upcoming tour schedule.
Produced by visual architect David Hall of Handshake Inc., the disturbing accompaniment for “Masada” delivers the track in a vibrant, high-contrast collage of footage, combining imagery born of nature’s itinerary and humanity’s inherently sadistic and perverse ways. Cult leaders summon more flies to the fire while children learn to handle automatic weapons. Brains decay and maggots feast upon the flesh of mammals, while a twisted, obfuscated plot unfolds amidst several unnamed humans in this disgustingly satisfying slab of cinematic madness. Undeniable lust, seething anger, inward loathing and outward aggression all flow in an occult blend of Americana that is as unique as the song. In other words, it’s “Today Is The Day as fuck.”
Issued director David Hall of the video: “I’m always honored when Steve Austin asks me to create a video for Today Is The Day. Early on we decided that ‘Masada’ should be the track people hear first from the new album because it really represents the album in terms of rock and diversity and TITD insanity. Steve wanted a video that would infect minds and reflect the madness of the music. I ate some meatloaf and went on a vision quest and was shown a couple in a desert being corrupted by their dysfunction and desire to control one another. So this is what I made.”
Southern Lord will release Animal Mother on LP, CD and digital download in North America on October 14th, as the band’s first venture for the label. With Animal Mother still lurking in the shadows, the band prepares for an extensive bout of widespread live actions in support of the album. From October 7th through the 26th, Today Is The Day will shred through the US on a headlining tour with direct support from Chicago deviants, Lord Mantis. This is the first phase of touring which will expand in the coming days, taking the band out on several more excursions through the rest of the year and well into 2015. Stand by for more major developments about to be issued in the coming days.
Today Is The Day w/ Lord Mantis:
10/07/2014 Geno’s – Portland, ME
10/08/2014 Sonny’s – Dover, NH
10/09/2014 Spotlight Tavern – Beverly, MA
10/10/2014 Dusk – Providence, RI
10/11/2014 The Pinch – Washington, DC
10/12/2014 The Acheron – Brooklyn, NY
10/13/2014 Kung-Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
10/14/2014 Church – Boston, MA
10/15/2014 The Depot – York, PA
10/16/2014 Cafe 611 – Frederick, MD
10/17/2014 TBA – Long Island, NY
10/18/2014 Jabber Jaws – Allentown, PA
10/19/2014 Hideaway – Johnson City, TN
10/20/2014 The Handlebar – Pensacola, FL
10/21/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA
10/23/2014 Ground Zero – Spartanburg, SC
10/25/2014 Hangar 21 – Shreveport, LA
10/26/2014 Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
10/26/2014 Hi Tone – Memphis, TN
As always, the dejected and vengeful hymns Today Is The Day delivers with their latest opus are among the most scathing passages of audio one will experience, as Animal Mother unloads just short of a solid hour of pure anguish. The band’s lineup features the rhythm section of bassist Sean Conkling (Regression, Burn Your Halo, Sprawl) and drummer Jeff Lohrber (Enabler, ex-Harlots), fronted by cult leader, founding guitarist/vocalist Steve Austin. Through fifteen diversified attacks,Animal Mother‘s wrath recalls elements of several seminal TITD albums, merging the dementia ofTemple Of The Morning Star with the blazing delivery of In The Eyes Of God, yet several acoustic and more melodic angles elevate the LP’s material to entirely different dimensions. The Animal Mother recordingsessions took place at the notorious architect’s own Austin Enterprises in the deeply wooded Maine wilderness this brutal past Winter, the material fully produced and mastered by Austin, and shrouded in original artwork by Samantha Muljat.
When it comes to black metal Swansea, Wales, doesn’t quite generate the same mental imagery as Bergen, Norway and the grim and frost bitten kingdoms; yet the Welsh city has produced a formidable presence in the UK’s ever improving black metal scene, namely three-piece Ghast.
As a sub genre black metal seems to be known as well for its limitless sense of evolution and direction, and in contrast for those bands that instead choose to a rigid sound and structure. Certainly in their formula, Ghast sit in the latter camp on first listen with the very familiar sonic tones and shrill, unnerving screams that are trait to many such band. On closer inspection of Dread Doom Ruin (Todestrieb) however, its clear Ghast aren’t simply being nostalgic nor set in their ways.
Instead of going purely for full throttle, tremolo and blast beat driven pace, Ghast choose to pummel with a doomier, moody pace with the occasional peppering of speed. Not a unique approach by any stretch, but where this album really stands up is in its sense of near paralyzing atmosphere, which proves both mesmerizing and yet uneasy.
In black metal’s vast spectrum there are tonnes of bands that push the styles and structural and musical boundaries beyond reason, whilst there are also plenty that play the recognisable imprint with greater technicality and precision than is displayed here. Very few bands however can generate such an uncomfortable but addictive atmosphere than is present on Dread Doom Ruin however, making this just as valuable of your time.
More excellent news from our favorite music festival in the world this week. First Enslaved and Wardruna announce they will jointly perform Skuggsjá, an original piece dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution. The Roadburn performance will be the first outside of Norway.
Then the festival released the original artowrk, by Arik Roper (Sleep, High on Fire, Earth, Weedeater, The Black Crows).
And the festival also announced the addition of more great bands such as Bongripper, Floor, Sólstafir, Virus, White Hills, Messenger, Junius, Skeletonwitch, Svartidaudi, Mortals & more.
Ticket Pre-Sales Start Thursday, Oct 16th 2014 at 21:00 CET; Pre-Sales Party at The 013 Venue (NL)
From The Press Release:
Roadburn Festival 2015 Ticket Pre-Sales Start Thursday, Oct 16th 2014 at 21:00 CET; Pre-Sales Party at The 013 Venue (NL)
Bongripper, Floor, Sólstafir, Virus, White Hills, Messenger, Junius, Skeletonwitch, Svartidaudi, Mortals, The Osiris Club and Zoltan also confirmed for the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival.
We’re elated to announce that Enslaved and Wardruna will perform Skuggsjá, the sound of Norway’s Norse History at Houses of the Holistic, Ivar Bjørnson‘s and Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik‘s curated Roadburn event on Friday, April 10 at the 013 venue inTilburg, The Netherlands.
Written by Bjørnson and Selvik for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution and premiered this past weekend at the Eidsivablot festival, this will be Skuggsjá‘s first performance outside of Norway, and will certainly be one of the highlights of the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival.
Skuggsjá translates into ‘mirror’ or ‘reflection’ in the Norse language, and the commissioned piece not only contextualizes harder music’s role in the democracy in Norway in 2014, but also joins threads from the country’s ancient musical history and solidifies harder music’s position as Norway`s most important cultural export.
By highlighting ideas, traditions and instruments of their Norse past, Skuggsjá will tell the history of Norway and reflect relevant aspects from the past into the present day. In light of this they will reflect on themselves as a people and nation. In a magnificent tapestry of metal instrumentation, a wide variety of Norway and Scandinavia’s oldest instruments, and poetry in Proto-Scandinavian, Norse and Norwegian, Skuggsjá will be a fusion between past and present, both lyrically and musically.
We simply can’t wait to experience it ourselves, to hear how how Norwegian metal has developed from its rebellious roots into the highly acclaimed artistic expression of a complex music genre, under Norway’s constitutional right to freedom of speech.
In related news, Virus, Junius, Skeletonwitch, Svartidaudi and Icelandic heathensSólstafir, who are currently making huge waves with their latest release, Ótta, are also confirmed for Houses of the Holistic, Ivar Bjørnson‘s and Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik‘s curated Roadburn event on Friday, April 10 at the 013 venue.
Tickets for the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival, set for April 9 – 12 at the 013 venue inTilburg, The Netherlands, will go on sale on Thursday, October 16, 2014. Set your alarm and get ready to score your tickets at 21:00 CET!
The majority of Roadburners live outside The Netherlands, which is why ticket pre-sales will start at 21:00 CET. This should be convenient for most time zones. Apologies to our friends in Oceania who will have to wake up early (or just stay up late)!
We are pleased to report that there will be NO price increase this year. Three-day tickets will be available for 165 Euros (excl. servicefees); four-day tickets will cost 185 Euros (excl. service fees). Afterburner-only tickets will cost 32.50 Euros (excl. service fees). Please note that one-day tickets are not available for the Thursday, Friday or Saturday Roadburn dates. Online buyers can order a maximum of four tickets.
For everyone in the Netherlands and Belgium: we are aware that your local ticket outlets will not be open when pre-sales start, which is why we are throwing another pre-sales party at the 013 venue in Tilburg (NL). From 19:00 CET – 20:30 CET you will be able to purchase a maximum of four paper tickets for Roadburn Festival 2015. Guaranteed!
In addition to making it easy to get tickets, the pre-sales party is going to be a blast! This year, we have invited The Machine and Radar Men From The Moon to provide the soundtrack.
The live music part of the evening starts at 20:30 CET. Roadburn’s artistic director/promoter Walter Hoeijmakers will be on hand to share the latest festival updates, too.
Chicago instrumental band Bongripper will make a welcome return to the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival with two sets that feature their unique brand of devastating doom. The first will see them play their latest album, Miserable, in its entirety at the main stage onThursday, April 9. The second will be later that weekend (more info about the date to be determined).
If you are a fan of stellar riffs and molasses-thick distorted guitar tone, Floor has everything you want in music. These Floridian sludge/pop pioneers get a lot of comparisons to lead singer/guitarist Steve Brooks other band, Torche — and rightfully so — with his instantly recognizable singing style and guitar tone. Floor, however, is the essence of pure heaviness, with just a nod to the pop melodies that have spurred Torche on to crossover success. Come feel the downtuned thunder of Floor’s bassless power trio attack when Floor plays the main stage of the 013 venue at the 2015 Roadburn Festivalon Thursday, April 9.
Combining many of the essential themes of Roadburn music in their volatile sonic elixir — psych, space rock, stoner rock, kraut rock and noise — have made White Hills one of Roadburn‘s favorite bands. Their bespangled and energetic live shows have a life and chaotic energy of their own that reshapes their music and creates powerful sonic programming driven by pure energy, exactly the kind of thing that Roadburn celebrates, and fans seek. White Hills will make a very welcome return to Roadburn for a main stage performance on Sunday, April 12.
After winning the limelight category for the brightest young rising stars in the progressive sky today at this year’s Progressive Music Awards this past weekend, Messenger will bring their acid folk/prog and psychedelica to the 20th edition of Roadburn on Saturday,April 11.
Mortals, The Osiris Club and Zoltan have also been confirmed for the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival.
Curated by Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Wardruna‘s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik, Roadburn Festival 2015 (including Skuggsjá, Enslaved, Wardruna, Fields of the Nephilim, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performing Dawn of The Dead and Susperia in its entirety, Zombi, Sólstafir, White Hills, Bongipper,Floor and The Heads as Artist In Residence among others) will run for four days from Thursday, April 9to Sunday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Let’s deal with the facts first. Starset is a rock band from Columbus, Ohio, formed by Dustin Bates, who, as well being the main protagonist, also has a bit of a scientific background… he’s been to university in other words. The band’s debut album Transmissions (Razor & Tie) hit #49 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. The band’s first single, ‘My Demons’ is now in the Top 10 at Rock Radio in the USA and has been on the chart for 32 weeks. They are quite popular.
So far, so promising new band story, right? Wrong.
Here’s where it starts getting weird. Dustin formed Starset, according to him, after being contacted by an organization called The Starset Society and its’ President, Dr. Aston Wise. Bates was asked if he was interested in forming a band to promote the organization’s message. At its core, the message is a warning that involves a scientific discovery that is currently being controlled and manipulated by an elite few.
Are you going “Uh-oh” at this moment? Good, you should be.
Remember Babylon Zoo? Yes, well now you’re starting to get the idea. This rampant silliness is all a bit of a shame for this debut because buried in the pointless over-production, the sound clippings from satellites and the wall upon wall of violins are a bunch of pop rock songs that sound fairly decent, are well arranged and, on occasion, hummable. Yes, there are tunes.
Transmissions is the sort of record that lots of people who should know better get inevitably excited about because it has classical orchestration on it which means that they will use words like “epic”, “visionary” and so on to describe a record that, if they were being really honest, sounds an awful lot like a Linkin Park tribute act playing over the soundtrack to Blade Runner. Fair play to Bates- he has got a bit of a vision thing going on – shame then that his vision is the same old hackneyed conspiracy theory trope about shadowy government agencies and mind control.
If you like this sort of thing, well you’re going to like this sort of thing. If you don’t, well you won’t. Each to their own…
It seems like an eternity ago when Brit Prog-Metallers Aeon Zen first commanded attention as fast risers and one to watch. A couple of well received releases and a much coveted European trek supporting modern progfather Devin Townsend has certainly proven them to not be sitting on their laurels but there has been the feeling that something major is still to come of them. New album Ephemera (Independent/self-released) should be just that album.
In hindsight, all their previous works are merely pointers as to what Rich Hinks’ outfit are capable of. Ephemera pushes the band’s heavier side and its obvious prog rock influences to much further lengths than previous culminating in the bands most ferocious yet experimental album to date.
Real plaudits have to go to the vocal performances of both Hinks and frontman Andi Kravljaca who together display a huge dynamic range between the high, power metal like wails found opening ‘Soul Machine’ to harsh growls and even the quirky delivery on ‘Life?’
The vocal diversity sits well as the album veers from the huge pomp of tech metal tinged openers ‘The Entity’ and ‘Soul Machine’, the whimsy of ‘Life?’ and melodic death metal passages. In fact the plethora of ideas at play here is quite staggering. From the odd Gentle Giant reminiscent vocal play to the piano peppering in death metal orientated ‘Remembrance’; Ephemera is full of surprises and unexpected tangents which still remains a completely cohesive piece.
Since their inception to the world, Aeon Zen have always been threatening to be a formidable force in modern progressive metal and Ephemera is the perfect realization of this potential. Offering a combination of Scar Symmetry and The Mountain (InsideOut) period Haken, Ephemera offers enough for the tech metal crowd with and the most stubborn of Prog fans.