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Ghost Cult brings you the new lyric video from New England’s Caricature today. ‘Stampede’ is a 27 minute long progressive metal epic about Caricature front man Joseph Spiller and his cat, Parmesan.  You can watch the video at this link or below:

The Stampede EP is available  for purchase from Caricature’s Bandcamp. Front man Joseph Spiller, who also produced the video and graphic design for the project, detailed the origin of the track and his relationship with Parmesan for Heavy Blog Is Heavy:

“Some people might be wondering why I made a song that is almost a half hour long about my cat. Well, he’s awesome. That’s why. Bands go out and write about a lot of stuff like quantum physics that they don’t actually understand, murders they would never commit, women/men they will never get up on, so why not pay tribute to a member of the family that gives everything he can at all times, had a rough start to life, and who’s story intertwines with my own?

I was really sick and in and out of the hospital/seeing doctors weekly/all around having a real dumpster fire of a time back in 2014 and start to finish there was over a year and a half where I was battling some complications from Crohn’s Disease that were further complicated by a not very ideal environment. I don’t remember a lot due to how sick I was and the different types of meds the doctors had me on, but I do remember hearing this tiny kitten in the middle of the road in front of my house crying as if his life depended on it who was blind and couldn’t walk. I was using the walls and my wife to hold myself up and get places, but even though I was home alone, I got myself outside to get him before a car hit him. From there it was the both of us fighting to get better. When I would pass out for 20 hours at a time, he would lay on me and watch over me then lick me to wake me up. I don’t remember a lot for a good 8 months, but I remember him.

I wanted to create an “Experience” track. Something that wasn’t just told by the lyrics but by the tone of the instruments and how they were being used; overall moods in the music. Having a song as epic as my cat, Parmesan was only fitting. The song turned into this 27+ minute jam. Long to the point where it doesn’t fit on our upcoming album The Fiction We’ve Become, so it only made sense to make it a stand alone release. Evan Sammons [Last Chance To Reason] had his hands full with the album plus running his own studio, So I took the reigns and played almost everything on this one and even built a custom 8 string guitar that i call the “Parmcatster” for this one. Gerry came in and played some awesome leads and killed it on the mix. We wanted it to sound clean, but not overly edited. Real people playing real music and to top it off, there are samples from videos that I took of Parmesan while he was growing up that we have sprinkled throughout the song. Ken Sorceron [Abigail Williams, The Accuser, Lord Mantis, Ex Aborted] came in and saved my ass at the end and made sure the master was sounding right too. We hope people enjoy this one and go home and give their furry friends a big hug.”

 

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Featuring Evan Sammons (Last Chance To Reason) on drums, ‘Stampede’ was produced and recorded by Spiller, mixed by guitarist Gerrard Vachon, and as has contributions from Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams). It is the second new track to appear in advance of Caricature’s next full-length album,The Fiction We’ve Become due later in 2016.

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It is truly hard to believe that it has actually been around 3 years since death metal pioneers Gorguts returned to action. Still seeming like such a short time ago, but it really was back in 2013 when they ended their hiatus with the brilliantly received Colored Sands (Season Of Mist) and reminded the world how mind-bogglingly exciting and innovating they can be. Now would be the time for many to begin resting on their laurels and maybe relying on nostalgia. Or you could release a single, 33-minute track EP. Apparently this is the Gorguts way.

Following on from Colored Sands’ unpredictable and ever-changing nature, Pleiade’s Dust (Season of Mist) similarly proves as sprawling, veering from blast beat laden fury to more hypnotic atmospheric passages. Despite its frenetic nature however, rather than appearing messy and jarring, it proves a typically thoughtful composition that feels complete and still maintains enough common ground and regularity to feel warrant its duration.

Never one to choose the easy route of convention, Pleiade’s Dust once again proves a head scratching affair at first which may seem daunting, but once delved into proves captivating and, against the odds, not only understandable but essential. Very few bands can take so many directions and do so much with their music as Gorguts and still make it as wholesome, and Pleiade’s Dust is further proof as to why they were so missed.

8.0/10

CHRIS TIPPELL

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A long time ago, Swedish three-piece Grand Magus were primarily a doomy stoner band. In the years since their 2001 self-titled début, an increasingly large proportion of their sound has been dedicated to bombastic heavy metal. With the release of their eighth album, Sword Songs [Nuclear Blast], the transformation is basically complete.

Magus can still write a chunky riff, the solos still invoke the best kind of air guitar and JB’s vocals still have a Dio-esque quality about them, but there’s a worrying sense that every new album is case of diminishing returns. The songs aren’t bad; far from it, but it’s lacking the heaviness or the spark that made some of their previous work so enjoyable.

There are occasionally occasional great moments; opener ‘Feja’s Choice’ is classic Magus; thick slabs of doom combined with wailing choruses and a heavy dose of guitar solos. The latter half of ‘Last One to Fall’ is heavy with a tinge of Iron Maiden running through it, ‘Born for Battle (Black Dog of Brocéliande)’ mixes a rocking stomp with another epic sing along chorus, while closer ‘Every Day a Battle to Fight’ is probably the album highlight; a mid-paced belter that shows off the best of what the band can do.

But there’s plenty of forgettable or just plain naff moments. Lead single ‘Varangian’ is a perfectly passable sing along number that will no doubt get the fists pumping live, but there’s a definitive aura of cheesy heavy metal about it. ‘Forged in Iron – Crowned in Steel’s chant of “Viking Metal” is probably the worst example of over-egging the Viking aesthetic. It just doesn’t sound like their hearts are in it a lot of the time.

Sword Songs feels like an album to drink mead and sing along to. But as fun as it is, there’s a real lack of memorable songs, the Vikings and war shtick is overplayed, and ultimately it’s definite step down from some of the band’s past glories. Go listen to Iron Will instead.

7.0/10

DAN SWINHOE

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In theory, the new Flotsam and Jetsam album Flotsam and Jetsam (AFM Records) should be called Regeneration. Their press brief says that the band really started in 2015 with the line-up of Eric AK, Mike Gilbert, Michael Spencer, Steve Conley, and Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall). For this, I gave Flotsam and Jetsam a fresh listen, forgetting the past albums and attacking Flotsam and Jetsam as a new separate entity. The new album Flotsam and Jetsam is twelve songs lasting 56 minutes. It’s an hour that goes quickly by as the tracks seamlessly blend from one song to another.

The first thing that struck me was the heaviness of opening track. ‘Seventh Seal’ is has a heaviness that weights it down. If it weren’t for the guitar lines and jaunty pace of the song, it could be a doom song. There is something about the song that claws at you and keeps you earthbound. ‘Life is a Mess’ has the same thundering drumming as ‘Seventh Seal’. The vocals have this nu-metal rap feel with 90s metal singing. I hear shades of Testament in the guitar parts. ‘Taser’ opens up like a muscle car on an open backwoods Texas road. It’s fast and it’s wild. The vocals are a bit strained, but the music more than makes up for it. ‘Taser’ has a swagger about it. I went into ‘Iron Maiden’ wanting to love it because I love Iron Maiden. True to form, it’s a Bruce Dickinson epic lyrics love fest. It’s a bit of the ‘Trooper’ in new clothes. I nice wink wink nudge nudge to a great band.

The rest of the album is more of the same. Solid tunes that follow the tried and true metal formula. Flotsam and Jetsam the album has lots of guitar solos in all the right places and heavy drumming and bass playing keep everything solid. Some of the songs are a bit chunky and plodding while others have interesting accoutrements. If you like Overkill and Testament, you’ll enjoy Flotsam and Jetsam.

7.0/10

VICTORIA ANDERSON

Nick Menza (ex-Megadeth) at The NAMM Show 2016, by Melina D Photography

Nick Menza (ex-Megadeth) at The NAMM Show 2016, by Melina D Photography

Nick Menza, who played drums for Megadeth during their most succesful period in their career has passed away at age 51. Reports have confirmed that Nick suffered a heart attack while performing with the band OHM at the Baked Potato club in Los Angeles. Two audience members attempted to perform CPR on him until emergency personell arrived, but he was unable to be revived. Menza was a member for the legendary thrash band from 1989-to 1998 and again in 2004 and played notably on Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction (both Capitol Records).

Menza’s friend Allen Hall posted the following message as a tribute to his friend:

We lost an amazing talent and fantastic person yesterday. Nick Menza was the nicest and most sincere guy you should ever hope to meet. He would take the shirt off his back to help you if you needed it. He had a passion for artwork, not just metal music. His tastes were far wider than that genre, which always irked his manager.

He was a painter, a sculptor, a wood carver, a digital artist, a musician, a handicraftsman of metal and wood. He had an amazing creative talent, a flare for the fringes and a great imagination. I enjoyed the many projects we had where he needed advice on how to manufacture something, or glue it, or plate it. We made a good team, his artful talents and my practical knowledge on making things. Last week we had decided to start full production of 40 cajone drums per week, his talents here were extraordinary and we had discussed that this might be his true calling, a marriage of music, wood and hand carved art. I am sure it would have been a success.

He liked to spin me up over conspiracy theories and aliens on purpose, just so he could get a rise out of me arguing that it was nonsense. He was someone who made hanging out quality time all the time. He used to get pissed at me when i would bring loud or shocking toys over for his kids when they visited, though he shared an equal enthusiasm with his kids for the Tesla coils I brought over.

We used to sit around and think of crazy things to film and put on youtube. Things like alien conspiracy and such just for laughs. We made a fake UFO video once using after effects for fun and were shocked that it had such an enthusiastic following. So we let the story fly and were planning a follow on video of him being abducted. I wish we had found the time to do that, It would have been hilarious.

Nick, you were taken too soon, it must have been a mistake, the world was a better place with you in it. I will miss you dearly my friend. Nicholas and Dante will miss you far worse. My heart goes out to your family.

Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine, learning of the news, tweeted a message of disbelief:

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Friend and former Megadth guitarist Marty Friedman also shared his grief:

 

Megadeth Rust In Peace album cover Ghostcultmag

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Megadeth has enlisted Dirk Verbeuren  of Soilwork to play drums for the band while Chris Adler tours with Lamb Of God. Verbeuren’s live debut with Megadeth will be later today (Friday, May 20) at the Rock On The Range festival in Columbus, Ohio. Verbeuren was recommended to play for Megadeth by Adler, who called Dirk “probably [one of the] top three drummers in the world.”

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Part II

Saturday

Blood Red Throne have been around for some time now, and with Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen they found a vocalist able to bring something more to their shows, as he is able to communicate with the audience in a way that seems sincere and engaging. With a set list comprised of something like fifty percent classics from Altered Genesis, their most celebrated album, the band lay Rockefeller in ruins. Bolt circlebanging, puking, then continuing to circlebang. Not to mention guitarist Ivan Gujic trashing his guitar at the end of the show, then proceeding to down half a bottle of tequila. It seemed like the pep talk backstage had been had. This said, the band could have added some more visual aspects to their show, but as an opening act one couldn’t really expect much more than a backdrop.

Suffocation are veterans by now, and a band that always delivers. However, it’s somewhat disappointing to catch them with only two members from the core lineup, instead bringing replacement musicians for guitarist Guy Marchais and vocalist Frank Mullen. But then again, the stand-ins did a really good job, and we got all the classics like ‘Breeding The Spawn’, ‘Catatonia’, ‘Funeral Inception’, ‘Liege Of Inveracity’, ‘Abomination Reborn’, ‘Pierced from Within’, ‘Effigy Of The Forgotten’, ‘Thrones Of Blood’ and ‘Bind Torture Kill’. It was all delivered with conviction and by a Derek Boyer with his bass literally standing upright on the floor at times, and a Terrance Hobbes looking as he was having the time of his life playing the same songs yet again. Suffocation is indeed always a safe bet, and also grand masters of the brutal death metal genre, even when they are playing far from their own New York scene.

Last band of the night were none other than the proud Egyptophile Americans in Nile. They are usually worth catching for George Kollias jaw-drop inducing drumming on its own. Throw in the fact that they have a solid discography of brutal and truly quality death metal by now, and you can maybe forgive them the fact that they don’t offer especially much in terms of the visual part of the show except their backdrop. But when a band churns out great renditions of ‘Lashed To The Slavestick’, ‘Sacrifice Unto Sebek’, ‘Kafir!’, and’ Sarcophagus’, most are willing to ignore the lack of visual pleasing stimuli – ignoring washed out t-shirts and shorts.

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World record holder in leather, spikes, and mullets, Nifelheim, proved themselves once again worthy of being THE black thrash export number one of Sweden. Lead into battle by The hard rock brothers, twins Tyrant on bass and Hellbutcher on vocals, they held Inferno captive for ten songs, including the massively enjoyable ‘Storm of the Reaper’. They proved once again that to get far all you need is some good tunes and the proper attitude.

Craft was the last band out on the John Dee stage, and saw the venue filled up with people eagerly anticipating an onslaught of Swedish black metal. And they got what they wanted, although I must admit, after seeing Craft twice now, that they sound better on record than live. They also look a bit disorganized in their appearance, as if the band members don’t have that extra cohesive interpersonal dynamic going that makes a band stand out. At the very end drummer Uruz announced that he would be leaving the band, and introduced what might be his successor, Trish Kolstad, a local Oslo-based drummer, also recently making an appearance with Gehenna. She joined the band on stage for their last song, ‘I Want To Commit Murder’.

 

 

A surprise was had with the Finnish legion of Moonsorrow, whose albums I must say I have passed by pretty much in silence and disinterest, seeing as most folk oriented black metal is rather bland, and usually far too jolly, and fits better with the typical German festival goer who enjoys drawing a dick on their forehead and wear viking helmets – the ones with historically incorrect horns stuck to them. But I stand corrected. Moonsorrow was fully enjoyable, and far darker and balanced than I remembered from earlier. If not a band with a great show to coincide with their music, they at least pulled off the musical part with excellence.

 

Mayhem. I have caught them a million times by now, and there’s always an element of surprise to their performances. If not in terms of theatrics, then in terms of songs selected, or even how the band has seemed to vary immensely in how well they perform the material. This time around the band not only put on a great show, had good sound, but also played some songs they haven’t played in a while. In addition they had both former vocalist Maniac on stage, as well as Attila, and Messiah, all doing vocals on selected songs from their own eras and albums with the band. First appearing was Maniac doing five songs from 2000’s Grand Declaration Of War. Then Attila did ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, ‘Life Eternal’, ‘Freezing Moon’ and ‘Illuminate Eliminate’, before Maniac was back on for songs from Deathcrush, which also saw the return of Messiah with the band, probably a byproduct of him appearing earlier on the very same stage with Order. The same band whose drummer Manheim also joined Mayhem on one of the songs he played with them on the Deathcrush EP back in 1987. Basically all in attendance were guided through the bands entire history, pigs’ heads thrown into the audience and all. Wholesome family Easter fun and games in other words. Most definitely a headliner worthy of ending this year’s Inferno festival. The entire Mayhem show is actually on YouTube now  it seems, so you know what to do!

INFERNO FESTIVAL 2016 Part 1

WORDS BY PÅL TEIGLAND LYSTRUP AND JULIA TUOMINEN

 

 

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This article simply doesn’t come close at all in fully capturing the enormously good festival atmosphere at Inferno. From beer tastings with Nøgne Ø and pre-parties and afterparties, to all the food, drinks, good people and merch stands, to the music conference and the actual live shows, Inferno is a well-oiled machine that sees no stopping. Happily this makes each year’s Easter plans set in stone. There’s no other place like Oslo during Easter, if you’re into extreme metal that is, and aren’t we all?

For the first day of the festival there was a lot of different venues being used, some involving a little bit of walking. Basically the easiest way of dealing with this was picking the Scandic hotel Vulkan stage, since this not only is the biggest of the venues, but it also has two stages, a big 1500 or so capacity stage upstairs and a smaller stage on ground level. The first act to be caught live was Australia’s tech death band Psycroptic, impressing with just how groovy and catchy they manage to make a bombardment of death metal sound. It seems effortless as they stomp their auditory boot in our faces. Following the impressive performance by Psycroptic was Gorguts. They sadly came off as a bit too technical for a lot of the audience members , judging from how the room cleared a little bit. Maybe it is their almost jazzy approach at times, or their slightly introverted and inaccesible music, who knows? After catching a very impressive performance by the Icelandic brutal death metal band Beneath dowstairs in the pub venue, we all headed up to catch headliners Exodus. With Steve “Zetro” Souza back, the band – this time missing Gary Holt on guitar – focused slightly more on the material from albums he originally appeared on, making room for songs like ‘Blacklist’ and ‘Impaler’ from Tempo Of The Damned. As usual Exodus deliver the goods, if not in a slightly too relaxed manner, lacking that youthful energy. But hey, who can complain when ‘The Toxic Waltz’, ‘Bonded By Blood’, and ‘Piranha’ are being played? After an hour or so of happy tough-guy-lyrics thrash metal it was nice to go to bed though, knowing that the rest of the festival would be within a 100 meter walking distance from our hotel, and all in one single venue. As we all know, festivals are hard.

Exodus, by Emma Parsons Photography

Exodus, by Emma Parsons Photography

The first band Thursday that we were able to catch, was none other than Polish masters of death metal, Vader. As usual they delivered the goods, dealing out songs spanning all of their career, even though the focus seemed to be on their earliest material, with songs like ‘Carnal’, ‘Dark Age’, ‘Vicious Circle’, and ‘Wings’. Yet again, they also gave us strong renditions of ‘Come See My Sacrifice’, ‘Helleluyah!!! (God Is Dead)’, and ‘Triumph Of Death’. It would also be wrong not to mention the enormous effort taken on by guitarist Spider in keeping the audience thoroughly engaged throughout the show. He basically made up fifty percent of the Vader machine.

Marduk, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

Marduk, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

Next band, delivering blitzkrieg just after the Polish death metal barrage, were Marduk. Opening their set with ‘Frontschwein’ and ‘Blond Beast’, they also proved themselves as one of the better and more relevant bands out there when it comes to a solid live show. Classics like ‘Slay The Nazarene’ and ‘Burn My Coffin’ were intermixed with newer material like ‘Womb Of Perishableness and The Levelling Dust’, and that the band has come to the point were they have to leave out classic songs, is yet another sign that they have been delivering good material for a long time now.

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Both Vader and Marduk were mainstage bands, playing the Rockfeller stage. Cattle Decapitation were to headline the smaller stage downstairs, at John Dee. With last year’s phenomenal The Anthropocene Extinction (Metal Blade) under their belts, the American ensemble had managed to fill John Dee to the very brim with their fans. The band is also clever enough to focus on that album and the one before it, Monolith Of Inhumanity, by far their two best albums in terms of both quality material that separates them from the rest, and also probably their two most popular releases within the metal community. ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’, ‘Your Disposal’, ‘Manufactured Extinct’, and ‘The Prophets Of Loss’ are all really good songs, and with a convincing performance to a Cattle Decapitated-straved audience this went down as a concert to remember. Too bad they were placed on the smaller stage, especially since the sound production is much better at the mainstage at Rockefeller.

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The biggest surprise and the most memorable performance of this year’s festival was easily that of Norwegian veterans Mysticum. They performed live for the first time in Norway in ages, and they brought with them a grand production worthy of an headliner act. All three members were elevated on three tall platforms, the poles for said stands being large videoscreens, as most of the stage was one big videoshow. If not displaying static to accompany the light show, the screens showed huge satanic symbols, war imagery and so on. It was … Well, for the first time in years someone brought something exciting and new to the concert stage, even making a blasé writer like myself smile from ear to ear. 

WORDS BY PÅL TEIGLAND LYSTRUP AND JULIA TUOMINEN