GC 17 cover medHells to the yes! The brand spanking new issue of our digimag is out today! Issue #17 features a revealing interview with Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) of Devil You Know. Issue #17 also contains interviews with Twilight, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Apocalyptica, The Wounded Kings, Nothing, Delain, Steve “Zetro Souza” of Hatriot, Carnifex, Scott Lee of the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, Immortal Bird, a tribute to Dave Brockie of GWAR, an exclusive guest editorial from Davide Tiso on his new project Gospel of the Witches. Plus we have a recap of Blastfest from Norway, and other live reviews such as Behemoth & Cradle of Filth in the UK, The Winery Dogs in the USA, Ulver in The Netherlands, Apocalyptica in Finland and special features with Paul Masvidal and Chance Garnette. Made especially for your tablet device or smartphone! Check it out here!

Devil You Know - The Beauty Of Destruction - Artwork 

When Howard Jones parted ways with Killswitch Engage in 2010, his departure sent waves throughout the music world due to his sudden departure. His absence throughout that time period was kept well hidden over the year.

But when Devolved drummer John Sankey and All Shall Perish guitarist Francesco Artusato started jamming together in 2012, they began seeking out vocalists for their then unnamed project.


So how did he find himself involved? “Just through mutual friends. They sent me the demo.”

It was weird. I was definitely hiding for three years. No cell phone…no nothing. For three years I disappeared and it was great!” he said.


So he found himself back with a new band and with new bandmates since his departure from Killswitch Engage in The Devil You Know. “It wasn’t like I realized it. I got the music and I met the guys. We made a demo and it kept going from there. All of a sudden ‘holy crap I’m doing this again?’ It just kinda happened. I’m in a much better place now.”


The Devil You Know played their debut show at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA on February 15, 2014 in front of an eager, yet curious crowd of fans who wanted to get their first look at the new band. They debuted songs from the Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast) album, which this was the first time Jones had stepped onto a stage in a few years.


I was thinking ‘oh my god…I’m doing this again. This is weird.’ That was pretty much what I was thinking. I had fun. I was trying not to think it. I didn’t think about it too much. It was definitely like ‘holy crap…I can’t believe I’m doing this again after so many years of not doing this.’ I seriously thought I was done.”



Jones claims towards the end of his time in Killswitch Engage, he was battling depression and signs of bipolar, which stunted his ability to maintain his sanity. But he claims it was an issue he was dealing with and had nothing to do with his former bandmates.

Trust me. There was nothing wrong with the band. It was all me. I was nuts. I was manic depressive and bipolar and everything else. I’m sure I was driving them insane and I was going nuts. So I’m done.”


So how close was he from entering the funny farm? “Oh wow. Probably when I went there…and was in one for about a month. I don’t think I ever told anyone that.”

Dude I was gone. I’m on good prescription medication. I was definitely in a place for a month. I went nuts. I’ve never told anybody that!,” he added, laughing at himself.


So he explains how bad things got towards the end of his time in Killswitch Engage:

So here’s what happened – we started writing the album that Jesse (Leach) just did. We met at Adam [Dutkiewicz]’s place and we were going over ideas. ‘So let’s meet for two weeks…and let’s come back at noon tomorrow.’ And I just didn’t come back. That’s what happened. I talked to them a week later…’we should move on without you because you hate this.’ No I’ll still do the job. No big deal. ‘You hate this. You don’t wanna do this anymore.’ And I was like…yeah….you’re right. That’s what happened.”


It was nothing to do with them. It had everything to do with me. I was severely depressed and very bipolar and everything else. The thought of doing another album and going on tour for another couple years…it drove me insane. I was done.”



He also dealt with issues with diabetes, which also hindered his health. “That definitely happened. I was dizzy for a week. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was walking up the steps, I passed out and broke a finger as I fell down the steps. I was walking up the steps and passed out and then broke a toe when I fell down the steps. I completely passed out in my bathroom and my friend threw me into his truck and took me to the hospital. I went into a coma for three and a half days. I woke up and didn’t know my name for 48 hours. It was pretty screwed up. My short and long term memory was gone for six months to a year. Basically I watched a lot of TV and read a lot. It came back. I didn’t remember songs I did with Killswitch. It was bad. But now I’m doing very well.”


The Beauty of Destruction became an album of songs largely about Jones’ struggles, and easily became a heavy, emotion driven record that is heard immediately. “What I wrote for this album is so personal. I’ve never written anything this deep before. Basically the past five years of my life, that’s what I wrote, especially if you listen to the last song on the album, ‘Surprise In the Darkness’, that was the last three or four years of my life. It’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever written. But it’s the truth. That’s my life. This album was my life.”


Producer Logan Mader helped Jones sort out his ideas throughout the record. His guidance helped shape the songs on the record and creating powerful sounding songs that are felt as much as heard.

Logan definitely had great ideas. We really worked well together. He’s awesome. Seriously it was awesome working with the guy and then he became one of my really good friends. He basically saw I was going through and what I was writing, he got it. We would go to lunch and said ‘this is what you’ve been going through, isn’t it?’ Yeah. What was awesome was we finished writing the album and went fishing. It was awesome. Logan definitely helped out. This album is personal.”


Yeah it’s basically a diary. It really is. I know it’s goofy to say that, but it really is.”

Musically, between the four other players in the band – Sankey, guitarists Artusato and Roy Lev-Ari, and bassist Ryan Wombacher – they created a diverse record that brought a vast sound to the band.


Writing new stuff differently…this band doesn’t sound anything like All Shall Perish or Fear Factory or Devolved or anything like that. Of course I sound like me. Some of it sounds a little like Killswitch or Blood Has Been Shed, but I really did try to do things differently. That’s why more than half of the songs I pretty much sang. It’s a different album. We really wanted to do something different. It wasn’t like ‘we’ve gotta try to not sound like everything else.’ Let’s try to write an album we’re happy with and doesn’t sound what we’ve done before. That’s what happened.”


That’s what’s awesome. I’ve been lucky when it comes to that, like playing with the guys in Killswitch which were amazing, and then these guys who are absolutely amazing. We did the whole album ourselves and it’s been awesome. Being on stage with those guys, it was so much fun. I’m a lucky guy. That’s pretty much what I think.”

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So who’s the devil in the Devil You Know? “That’s all me. I came up with that. There’s times when I’m a terrible person, and that’s where it came from. I always try to be a better person but there’s times where I’m awful. So I’m the devil you know. That’s where it came from.”


They recently visited the Soundwave Festival in Australia, in which people got their first taste of the band. While most fans had no idea who the band was or had heard any music, they still made a first impression that got attendees figuring out quickly who they were.

Oh they had no idea what was happening. People started recognizing me. ‘Hey I know that guy! I’ve seen that guy before. That black guy looks kinda familiar.’ It was kinda like that. It was fun and weird the position we were in. We played right after Rob Zombie, and right before Avenged Sevenfold. It was very strange. It was like ‘we’re this band you don’t know…so let’s have some fun.’ And buy our record…eventually. It worked out. We had a blast and of course I made fun of people the whole time. That’s what I do. I was going to town on people. It was terrible! I was like ‘I’m the worst human being ever!’”


Now it’s the Americans’ turn on the Revolver Golden Gods tour, headlined by Black Label Society. “I cannot wait. Down played Soundwave and I got to hang out with Phil a bit. That dude is amazing. I absolutely love Zakk. That dude is a great guy. And plus both bands are awesome. I can’t wait to hear Zakk do a bunch of guitar squeals. I’m stoked.”


Devil You Know on Facebook

Rei Nishimoto


Born out of frustration and tragedy, Vallenfyre’s A Fragile King debut saw Gregor Macintosh stepping up to the mic to vent his anger and sorrow he experienced following his father’s death from cancer two years prior. The result was an album of full on brutal death metal with touches of crust and the air of desperation which made day job Paradise Lost’s early work so vital. Following several triumphant appearances it would appear that perhaps the members commitments to their other acts would mean shelving this gnarled beast but clearly Vallenfyre has taken on a life all its own!

Simply put Splinters (Century Media) is a banger. The grime and raw aggression of the debut is all present and correct but greater inspection of their influences reveals the band are as adept at deathly doom as they are at vicious crusty proto-metal. Complete with a production job from Converge axeman and über-producer Kurt Ballou whose subtle contributions help capture a suitably sombre mood allowing the Yorkshire mob to exercise their considerable muscle.

Quite why Macintosh has chosen to conceal his corrosive roar until their 2011 debut is unclear but his savage vocal emissions are matched perfectly by the dense riffs and soaring melodic sections championed by My Dying Bride guitarist Hamish Glencross who brings with him, his considerable talent for twisted minor harmonies.

Pulverising slabs of bitterness such as ‘Thirst For Extinction’ and lead number ‘Scabs’ are equally matched in the misery stakes by ‘Bereft’ and ‘Aghast’ which should appeal greatly to fans of their creators other projects. The two-minute assault of ‘Instinct Slaughter’ is pure hatred distilled into music giving fans of acts like Doom and Extreme Noise Terror a soundtrack to crack skulls to. The deliciously filthy guitar tones and aberrant nastiness never lets up throughout the eleven tracks which hold ‘Splinters’ together. Forget over indulgent tech-death posturing, this is music played from the gut, pure and desensitized filthy and with utter contempt for anything other than being genuine and authentic.

Sadistic and aggressive with endless moments of bleak reflection Splinters is a leviathan unleashed upon unsuspecting listeners and a release surely destined to grace many year end lists.




Vallenfyre on Facebook 

Ross Baker


Easily the most anticipated tour in the USA this year, practically everyone I know that is a fan of metal was going to attend the 2014 Decibel Magazine sponsored tour to see Carcass. Oddly enough I know people who straight out dislike anything resembling death metal, but were still going to attend on the strength of the Carcass name alone. I know some scoff at the near mythological amount of praise heaped on Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast), even though it was the Ghost Cult 2013 album of the year (*cough cough*). Any way you slice it (bad pun intended), it is good to have them back, kicking ass, and going strong. The Paradise isn’t really a venue fit for metal on so many levels: from the awkward layout of the place, the inexperienced staff more used to indie rock fans, and clearly not ready drunk moshers, and stage divers. Most venues in Boston ignore the city-wide ban on moshing (WTF Boston!?!), but these guards were intimidated, overly cautious, and sometimes hapless. I felt a little bad for them, until they treated my friend and occasional Ghost Cult photog Hillarie Jason, and all the other photogs badly too. Sad that a club with the kind of history it has can’t rise up and better.


Nosiem: holy shit! They opened a can of whoopass on the entire Paradise. I really only listened to their Agony Defined (A389) album once or twice, and boy was I regretting it during their show. They were young and full of energy and immediately had the early crowd feeling wide open and angry. Lead screamer Tyler was mad impressive, running all over the cluttered stage. They were a loud unruly bunch, glorious young noise-makers who totally pumped up the already excited crowd. If I was under 20 again, they would be my favorite band.


Gorguts was up next and the Boston nerd-musician-Jazz hands kids quotient in the room rose significantly while the sperm count dipped to dangerous levels. Luc Lemay’s current incarnation of the band includes Colin Marston and Kevin Hufnagel from Dysrhythmia, with Patrice Hamelin on drums. It’s always like going to guitar school watching Luc play his mighty axe, and he sports his glasses on stage now, rocking a very professor-type feel to his demeanor. They did focus their short set list predominantly on the moody Colored Sands (Season of Mist) material, which left me a little flat. Thankfully they did an encore of their classic ‘Obscura’ which saved the day for me. Enjoyable, sure. But Gorguts is a band I really need to see play a longer, or headline set for me to really sink my teeth into.

Black Dahlia Murder-www.hillariejason.com-3

Always a fun time, The Black Dahlia Murder, just hit the stage already seemingly full of sweat and smiles. As per usual Trevor Strnad just flew all over the place, raging hard and high—fiving everyone. He is one of my favorite performers to watch. Similar to Gorguts, they were short on time. However they did a nice job touching on some hits and a few cuts from last years’ Everblack (Metal Blade) album. The band sounded as tight as ever, and despite how much TBDM has toured the New England area, the room seemed to be enraptured by their set. They almost have an arena rock bigness to their shows, which seems unbelievable until you see them live. Ryan Knight in particular was amazing on guitar with a few sick solos, but the entire band continues to be exceptional and consistent year after year.


Despite their comeback US tour in 2009, I was surprised at how many people were seeing Carcass for the first time ever. It guess it owes as much to the latest generation of death metal fans coming up of late. There was a weird energy in the room like anything could happen, in a good way. Rather than watch the show from the crowd, I snagged a spot from the balcony so I could soak in the madness. There was already moshing and a few surfers testing the jumpy security before the first note was played. When the lights went down a roar went up like you wouldn’t believe. I will likely never forget the beautiful insanity of this crowd when ‘Buried Dreams’ from Heartwork kicked in. The miniscule Jeff Walker is like a living Chucky doll, since he is so small and evil. I kind of want to scoop him up and give him big a hug. Dan Wilding was immediately impressive at how perectly crushed on the drums. The early set mixed in Surgical Steel tracks with classic ones perfectly. The material certainly meshed well with the oldies, and since everybody and their mother had the new album, it was cool to hear many folks growling along.


Jeff is still quite the showman after 30 years in the business. Hilariously funny, with a wry sense of humor that is just a little too smart for most Americans, if I may disparage my own country for second. Still, everybody laughed when Jeff singled out a super- tall guy for blocking the view of a short-statured girl. Too funny for words. Of course a lot of people still grump about the absence of Michael Amott, who is no longer in the band, but I have to wonder why? Bill Steer was terrific and new guitarist Ben Ash was more than capable of creating the bands’ signature sound. Steer possesses on of the best guitar tones ever in metal. Naturally the band was flawless in its execution of their classic songs, like ‘Reek of Putrefaction’ and ‘Corporeal Jigsaw Quandary’. It was a pretty amazing night and a good time, leaving everyone satisfied and feeling like we just saw the best concert we will see in 2014.


Carcass Set List:

Buried Dreams

Incarnated Solvent Abuse

Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System

Carnal Forge

Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard

No Love Lost

The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills

This Mortal Coil

Reek of Putrefaction

Unfit for Human Consumption

Genital Grinder

Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)

Exhume to Consume

Captive Bolt Pistol

Corporal Jigsore Quandary 

Keep On Rotting in the Free World



Carcass on Facebook

The Black Dahlia Murder on Facebook

Gorguts on Facebook

Nosiem on Facebook



Words by Keith Chachkes

Photos by Hillarie Jason Photography


Formed by Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish , Francesco Artusato Project) a beast of a guitarist, fleet-footed drummer John Sankey (Devolved, Divine Heresy) and vocalist Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed), Devil You Know had all the promise of a powerhouse, and with its release Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast) it delivers on all fronts. The songs are well-crafted, nicely developed and excellently executed. This actually sounds more like Divine Heresy than Killswitch Engage as it has a lot of gnat-ass tight Dino Cazares-inspired stutter riffs and relentless drumming.


‘A New Beginning’ kicks right in with pure a All Shall Perish ggression and a wall of guitars. ‘My Own’ makes a grand entrance with an almost Pantera-like drive, and goes into staccato rhythms with a tasty guitar lick on top and a catchy chorus. Here, Jones sounds most like the Howard we know (no pun intended) with some metalcore vocal stylings in places. ‘Embracing the Torture’ features some very nice drum work by Sankey and shows off Jones’ range as he goes from growls to melodic chorus hook. ‘For the Dead and Broken’ dials it back a bit, and may be the most commercial sounding song on the release. Bringing in melodic vocals with effects, tamer guitars, and a sing-along chorus, it is reminiscent of In This Moment or Fall Out Boy (if they went Metal). ‘Seven Years Alone’ is very well-arranged song. The multi-layered vocals shine, but Artusato gets to flex his guitar chops quite a bit as well. This is also more on the commercial side of metal but it still hits hard. ‘It’s Over’ is more of a straight-ahead tune that has a Sevendust-like bent; pounding yet soulful. ‘A Mind Insane’ lives up to its title, a mix of tempos and mood with all members showing their strengths and then ending quietly, as if the subject broke free…or got his medication. ‘Crawl from the Dark’ has a sweet, almost dreamy groove in the verses while easily siding into a heavy bridge and chorus, and ending with a blistering solo by Artusato. ‘The Killer’ is a stuttering, creeping thing, with an almost subversive layer of acoustic guitars and a sneaky guitar riff slithering through the chorus. ‘I Am The Nothing’ is a song that features little hooks throughout with just enough keyboards/programming to add interest and color, and Jones really keeping the mood of the vocals in line with the subject matter. ‘Shut It Down’ is a show-closer, with a vocal line that begs to be shouted along with and an outro that will get folks mixing it up in the pit. Closer ‘As Bright as the Darkness’ is dark and cool with flanged-out guitars and vocals layered with echo. It reminded me a bit of ‘Aerials’ by System of a Down in flow and mood, and Jones channels a little bit of Pete Steele as well vocally which is cool as hell.


The production by Logan Mader (Gojira, Divine Heresy, Soulfly) and the mix job by Chris “Zeuss” Harris provides a crisp, big, in-your-face sonic experience. Jones is in excellent vocal form, and while you can recognize the voice, there is definitely a growth and depth that is great to hear. He has clearly found a new “home” in Devil You Know, and in this reviewer’s humble opinion, this release is superior to KsE’s last as good as that was. Good for him…and us.




Devil You Know on Facebook

Lynn Jordan

 pth btx

It was a chilly night in a quieter than usual Saturday in Cambridge Massachusetts. The Middle East nightclub sits on a welcoming strip of culturally diverse shops and restaurants. A perfect location for Protest the Hero’s Volition (Razor & Tie) tour; a multi-national and eclectic metallic offering.

For all of the shows I’ve been fortunate enough to attend in the New England area, this marked the first time I’ve attended a show downstairs at the Middle East. A basement venue that resembles the ultimate metal mancave or what Rocko’s in Manchester New Hampshire could have been if the staff actually cared. An hour between doors and the opening band afforded me ample time to down some economy brews and admire the not particularly well-lit, but intimate locale.

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First up were Protest the Hero’s Canadian brethren in Intervals. For an unsigned band they’ve garnered lots of attention in progressive and tech-metal circles, especially with their latest release, A Voice Within. With the room starving for some live volume, the boys in Intervals were happy to oblige. Heavy 7-string palm muting was underway with tunes like ‘Alchemy’ and ‘Ephemeral’ starting the evening’s first mosh-pits. It was modern tech-metal or djent through and through; Tesseract shirts and Ibanez/Steinberger guitar interplay aplenty. Obviously talented players with a lot of stage energy, the only problem being the repetitive nature of djent. Midway through the set the songs began to feel repetitive. However things livened up again at the end of the performance when they jumped into songs like ‘Automaton’ and ‘Moment Marauder’ which featured some catchy melodies and riffs not unlike Periphery’s.


London England’s The Safety Fire sieged the stage next with their frenetic, noisy art-metal. Since I had missed out on their last North American trek, it was very satisfying to finally catch them tearing into live numbers from last year’s sublime Mouth of Swords (Inside Out). To the best of my knowledge The Safety Fire is considered progressive metal, but to be honest I wouldn’t know what to label them as. As evidenced by live flow of offerings like ‘Red Hatchet’ and ‘Huge Hammers’ their sound is metal one second and sometime that you’d find in Spin magazine the next. And I liked that. A lot, actually. Now that I had gotten a taste of their live sound, I’m ready for a proper headlining turn from these British upstarts.

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At this point the Middle East was a sweatbox and I needed some more Pabst Blue Ribbon relief in order to properly enjoy the awesome that is Battlecross live. After refueling at the bar I took a spot front and center to take in Battlecross’ brand of “Blue Collar Thrash Metal” as close and loudly as possible. The bearded Michigan metal warriors did not disappoint. Guitarists Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala traded off blazing riffs and searing leads effortlessly. What I thought would be a very pro-progressive metal audience ate up Battlecross’ savage thrash stylings. Sure the argument can be made that they only have one speed (a very brisk one, thanks to former Black Dahlia Murder drummer Shannon Lucas holding down on drums), but is that really an issue when you’ve got most of the crowd buying what you’re selling? If you weren’t headbanging you were in one of the various circle pits that would break at the drop of a hat or raiding their merchandise booth. Audience reaction to pit-churners like ‘Kaleb’ and ‘Flesh and Bone’ was so raucous that frontman Kyle Gunther declared Cambridge to be the best crowd of the entire tour.

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Protest the Hero faced the stiff challenge of following up Battlecross’ assault, but the Torontonians were up to the task. Armed with some truly respectable facial hair, Protest served their Dream Theater by the way of Botch sonic cocktail to a crowd that hung on to every word. The young Canadians burned through 12 songs in the span of an hour and ten minutes, ranging from Kezia era anthems like ‘Blindfolds’ to more recent stompers like ‘Underbite.’ Midway into their effort the many fans had forgotten about the “No Crowd-Surfing” policy and were attempting to join the band onstage. Having the best live-sound on the bill paid dividends as it showcased the band’s technical mastery and vocalist Rody Walker’s pipes. And speaking of Walker, his witty lyrics are only matched by his onstage banter. Walker maintained an easy charm with the crowd even though most in attendance were Bruins fans while he’s partial to his Toronto Maple Leafs. I mean if we can’t agree on how much The Montreal Canadians and Max Pacioretty suck, then what can we agree on really? Conversations on hockey and the integrity of modern Star Trek movies is how you make inroads to great international relations. They capped off their set with crowd favorites ‘Bloodmeat’ and for my money is their best song, ‘C’est La Vie.’

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It was good night in Cambridge. Overall we got quality sets from great bands at a good price. If I had my way, Protest the Hero would have played for a little longer than an hour and ten minutes. And maybe I should’ve gotten a couple of more economy suds from the bar before calling it a night. But all things considered, a highly enjoyable time.

Protest The Hero on Facebook

Battlecross on Facebook

The Safety Fire on Facebook

Intervals on Facebook

Words: Hansel Lopez

Photos: Chris Small of CWS Photography

horrible earth

Every month Ghost Cult polls its staff to see what they are listening to at the moment. Sometimes it’s the latest underground album, and sometimes it’s an old favorite. Sometimes the music isn’t even metal, and that’s okay too. This month our scribe Wren Leader gets deep with us about what he is spinning right now. 


Horrible EarthHorrible Earth: These guys totally tore it up at Ralph’s in Worcester a few weeks ago. Their record is equally as awesome. Killer death metal with a little grind/hardcore touches to make things bad ass.

Beth HartScreamin’ For My Supper: Was driving back from DC listening to this album. For fans of chick rock that has a bit more bite and bitch then sweet and poppy.

AlcestLes Voyages de L’ame: Last year I must’ve listened to this album at least twice every week. Sometimes 2 or 3 times in a row. When Neige brings on the black metal vocals on “Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles” I literally get goosebumps

BabymetalBabymetal: I was into Babymetal before everyone and their mother loved/hated them! Gotta say, this is a damn fine merger of some of the most sweet cute pop I’ve ever heard and the gnarliest metal riffs ever.

Kevin Hufnagel - Ashland: Gorguts/Dysrhythmia guitarist playing solo ukulele. Very chill and relaxing but still complex. Great record to sit back and sip on some wine or tea and let the music comfort you.


Wren Leader 


valkyrie live SHOD

Being in a band can be a tough gig. Especially so when one of the members is in a very popular band. Known better as the original band project of Pete Adams of Baroness, since 2002 Valkyrie has put out two solid releases along with some over the years and the occasional regional tour, or festival in their home state of Virginia. Still, this quality outfit should be bigger by now, and is a must listen for fans of Red Fang and High On Fire, proto-metal, doom, and throwback heavy metal lovers. Ghost Cult scribe Dan Swinhoe caught up with guitarist/vocalist Jake Adams, Pete’s brother, to give us an update about the progress of this group, the status of their next album, and the current state of the band.


How do the dynamics of the band work? Is it your band and your rules, or more of a democracy?

It’s definitely democratic. The reason we are playing with these guys is because we know they have a lot to offer as far as ideas and sheer talent to each song that we write. That being said, usually me or my brother (Pete) come up with the bulk of the riffs and song ideas and Alan (Fary, bass) and Warren (Hawkins, drums) will definitely bring a lot to add to that. Most of the basic riffs I write, and Pete often adds harmonies and brings in ideas to get me “out of the box.” The dynamics of song writing work well, as long as Pete and I know what we are doing on guitars – so we spend a lot of time outside of whole-band practices getting our leads and harmonies together.


What’s it like being in a band with family? Easier or harder to work with?

It is definitely easier because we don’t have to think so hard about everything, things just flow naturally because we have such a history playing and being together. There are times where we tend to push each others’ buttons and it makes for some awkward van rides because Warren and Alan don’t want to pick sides. But Pete and I are quick to work through things usually.


When people siblings in the same band, there’s often talk of some sort of psychic chemistry that makes them a better unit- what’s your take on this?

I would definitely agree – often we hear something at the same time and both start taking the song in a certain direction.. it definitely makes things a lot smoother.

valkyrie album cover


How do you and your brother’s playing/songwriting styles differ?

Well, what I tend to play as far as solos tends to be more thought out, but less spontaneous. Pete’s soloing is like capturing lightning in a bottle – he never plays the same solo twice, he tends to “feel” things out more than myself.


Do you feel you fit into any sort of scene at all? There’s been a bit of a resurgence of classic-style rock in the last few years- Witchcraft, The Sword, Graveyard etc- do you think people are looking back to the early days of rock/metal more?

Oh yeah, definitely – there is definitely a resurgence in heavy metal and older rock for sure. We are definitely part of that, but I can’t think of too many bands doing what we are doing. First off, we don’t employ any occult themes or satanic shtick, which tends to define a lot of bands in the hard rock scene, also we lean more to late seventies hard rock than the earlier blues based stuff. Also the vibe of our music tends to be more positive than a lot of bands in the doom scene – throw in clean vocals, harmonized leads, and you start to narrow down the list of bands doing what we are doing. I wouldn’t say we don’t fit it, but our sound tends to stand apart from most of the bands we play with.


Which bands are you a fan of nowadays? 

I wish I could say I was a fan of more new bands, not much is really doing it for me these days. There are some friends’ bands worth mentioning : Inter Arma, Earthling, who are doing great things. I stick to the classics like Priest, Sabbath, Maiden, Wishbone Ash, Camel, Skynyrd, old Scorpions, old Whitesnake, Rainbow, stuff like that. We all listen to different stuff, for instance Alan listens to a lot more death metal and thrashy stuff than I do regularly.


What’s happened to the band since the release of Man With Two Visions?

Well, a lot. My wife and I have had two kids, we have a new bass player ( Alan). Pete joined Baroness and has been touring a ton, and I have started a career in teaching. We have been slowly but surely working on the third record, which is finally getting close to finished.


You’re a teacher now, do the students know about Valkyrie? Do they like it? 

Yeah, I usually tell them about it- you always get a select few that actually go check it out online and a always have a few that are pretty into it. But as you can imagine, not too many 13 year-olds are going to gravitate to traditional doomy hard rock .


How did Pete joining Baroness affect the band?

Well, Pete’s schedule tends to be very busy with Baroness so often times it gets hard to plan for gigs. But Pete’s skills have improved a lot since he plays so often with Baroness and he has brought a new perspective to Valkyrie as far as songwriting is concerned, some new ideas that playing with Baroness has given him.


The first time I heard about the band was the Man of Two Visions re-release on Meteor City, and aside from the quality music the Baroness connection was one of the things that piqued my interest- Do you think the association has been good for the band?

I think so, wherever Baroness goes, Pete can continue to be an ambassador for Valkyrie – and some people have definitely found out about Valkyrie from Baroness.


Likewise- is it tiring at all having that association?

Not really, real fans and genuine music critics “get it,” and can see the relationship between the bands. I have no problem being associated with them, their approach is totally unique, they are one of the most entertaining and talented live acts around. I’m proud of what they have done, because we grew up playing music together, so their success makes me happy. No worries.

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Baroness & Valkyrie are very different bands, but do you ever hear anything in Pete’s playing on the Blue record or Yellow/Green that reminds you of Valkyrie? Have you actually heard the record?

Oh yeah, I am quite familiar with all their stuff. Yes, definitely, you can hear Pete’s playing on the records he was a part of. He has a distinct tone he achieves with the fretting hand that stands out from time to time. Listen to the solo on ‘Horse Called Golgotha’ and you will see what I mean.


Can you talk me through your experience of the crash Pete had while on tour with Baroness?

I was in Honduras, I think it was the day before school was set to start at the private school where I was teaching. I stopped by my apartment for lunch and I happened to look on Facebook, where I saw something about a bus crash. My heart sank and quickly called home for more info. Luckily by that point my brother had called my dad and let him know that he was ok. I was still really concerned for everyone else of course – it is miracle that they came out as well as they did considering the scope of the crash.


How the split with Earthling come about?

Earthling is from the same place ( Harrisonburg, Va) that Valkyrie has considered its “hometown” for a while. They are good friends of ours; a while back the main songwriter/vocalist for Earthling, Alan, joined us on bass. So we are closely connected. It was a logical thing to do, since they were our “brothers in metal” in Harrisonburg – plus they are amazing! We are pleased with the results, it sounds great, and the original 1000 that were pressed are pretty much gone and Tension Head is toying with the idea of a reissue.

What stage are you at with the new album? Can you provide any details? [Album title/track names/release date/anything?]

We know what tracks will be on the album, we are just demo-ing the material right now and tweaking it all out, refining it. Probably 8 tracks. No other info yet.


How are you going to release the new album? Self-release/ via a label | online/vinyl etc…

We haven’t decided yet, but we will probably keep it low-key as far as labels- we aren’t going to be touring constantly anytime soon so we don’t really need a big label to support us right now. Something smaller, where we can maintain a larger share of the proceeds would suit us better. Meteorcity Records still has our cds and records for sale; Tension Head Records has the recent Mountain Stomp 7”.

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Dan Swinhoe




Wherever I go, people bemoan the lack of any kind of scene anymore. First of all, I question how long some of these complainers have been around a scene at all, or tried themselves to build anything personally. It is certainly harder than ever to bring together bands and fans and keep it together. So, when we find people who are waving the flag hard for rock and metal, we single them out for praise. One such person is Rynne Stump. She runs the annual Stumpfest in Portland, OR and has growing it slowly into a killer weekend of bands, art, and community. This years’ fest is next weekend, April 24-27 at Mississippi Studios. It boasts a killer lineup of bands like Red Fang, YOB, Trans Am, Black Cobra, Norska, Lord Dying, Drunk Dad and more in an 300-person venue. We chatted with founder Rynne to get the scoop on how Stumpfest came to be and why it thrives.



We jumped into the questions asking about the history of the fest, so named for its founder and former Portland resident:

I used to live in Portland in the early 2000s, and I used to do small jobs at this club called The Black Bird, where I met with my dear friend Chantell. She put me to work doing random jobs doing posters, doing the door there. She moved to a new club and she asked me to be her assistant. So I started booking the shows, made posters, and eventually ran my own nights. I started booking small shows, my birthday show, I started booking my friends’ bands together. That is kind of where it started to me.”


I moved to Los Angeles, about ten years ago. I found it really hard to see heavy bands that I wanted to see play, that I had grown so accustomed to seeing in Portland. So it was hard for me to find a place to see my bands play without a venue. It was hard to have a scene in Los Angles for heavy music and it still is. Its and interesting place to be, a lot of people want to “make it big” here. A lot of people want to see heavy shows, but to see them really see them, you have to go to Pomona. And of the bands that are playing Stumpfest, aside from Red Fang and Trans AM, those two are kind of a known market. But a lot of these bands have trouble bringing in crowds, and have a hard time trying to find places to play. A few years back YOB went out with Tool, and the last night of the show, I thought, “This is ridiculous! Why don’t I put on a show?” And talked about it to YOB and said, “Why don’t you do this with me?”, and they said yes. So I booked it at Mississippi Studios, and they were more than happy to have us. They were very accommodating. They have great sound, which is why we continue to have it there. Their hospitality is second to none. They really enjoyed having us in their building. That is kind of the framework for it.”


As the years have gone by, it has evolved into something that I didn’t have planned, and that is the magic comes from. The things that are happening at these shows that is super inspirational. Bonds are created, friendships are made, and I can’t take any of the credit for that. Bringing awesome people together, these like-minded quality human beings together under one roof. And it evolved into this larger thing, let’s put it that way. It’s great! I don’t know what happened that way. This year, I had no idea. I cast the net wide, and everyone said yes! (laughs) and I thought okaaaaaaaay. I thought maybe we’ll go back to one night, and we’ll party down. But it grew into this whole thing. All of the sudden, there were so many bands, I had to turn some down. So who knows what’s going to happen next year? I have no idea! (laughs)”



Looking at this awesome lineup of stoner rock, doom, other underground bands, this is what attracted our attention in the first place. We asked Rynne how she chooses the bands.

I choose basically who I love. Usually, who I love to work with. I worked with Trans AM. I’ve worked with them before, that’s when I met them. Well over the years they have become dear friends of mine. Pretty much everyone of these bands on the bill have stayed at my home and have been my dear friends! (laughs) That was kind of the main idea and theme for me, was to have a show, where I could see all of my friends, so I could see them all at one time. I wanted to come up to Portland, get everybody together to have this, big party. That was the main theme. It has become the whole other thing, and I’m so stoked about it. I’m still kind of amazed at how it’s growing, and the interest that is brings. It’s kind of mind-blowing! The sky’s the limit, I suppose, at this point.”


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Mississippi Studios is an intimate place holding about 300 and all of the the three-day passes are already sold out. We asked about the growth of the fest and what the future might hold:


I wish that we could Livestream it or something like. How cool would that be, if we could actually get that set up sometime in the future. And that would bring a whole other cool element to the festival. Maybe next year. I want it to be reasonably priced. I know that bands are getting bigger. The lineup I want for next year, the one that is my wish for… I might have to raise the prices a little bit, but I hope not. I just don’t know. Every year is a new experience and I just kind of let it unfold as it happens.”



I realized that bands are getting busy and everyone needs to be paid. Each year is an experience and Mississippi (Studios)…. I love. And I want to keep things intimate. That is one of the main elements of why I think that is why the festival is what it is, and why it is so connecting and fun. Since you are not drowning in a sea of people you can see all the musicians. I want you to feel by buying your ticket, what you have done by buying your ticket. I want people to be feeling what they have done, to maker this happen. It brought this cool vibe. I feel like spectators are able to feel a connection and be an integral part of it. That is what a community is. A community is everybody working together to create something amazing. Whether that be the survival of that said community. Not that Portland needs to survive. But why shouldn’t we do that? But in the hunter- gatherer perspective, why shouldn’t we do that? I want to bring that back into the scene.”


I’m not into competition. I don’t claim to be an expert about music. I’m a music enthusiast. I love all forms of music! There’s hundreds of amazing bands that I’m sure I don’t know about. I don’t want to pretend I am a master at anything. I am a student, if anything. I love music! I play music. I sang bluegrass when I was a child. I love jazz fusion. I love country music. I write country music. Getting back to the point of community, everybody who plays Stumpfest just brings their “A” game. That feeling translates to everyone, incredibly. The show comes and it just elevates, and elevates and elevates. Everyone just gets super high, naturally off the energy. And that’s not me, that is the magic of it. I am lucky to be a part of this. I just curate it. I am able to curate something much larger than what I imagined. The artwork comes from one of my dear friends Gabriel Schaffer. Another friend of mine, Andrew Brando, who is a friend of mine from LA, helped contribute. Everyone Contributes. It’s not that I am shelling out money, getting everybody’s best work. We all come together because we are a family. Sure, I pay everyone and everyone seems to be satisfied at the end of the night. But some people are like “who cares?” Everyone is just having some beers and having some fun, hanging out, playing some music. It’s a celebration! (laughs)”


I just want to connect the dots and get everyone working together. The artwork just keeps getting better and Gabriel is getting really excited. It’s so exciting. I’ve got Eric Roper working on a limited edition poster for this now. When in my wildest dreams could I get Eric Roper to work on this. He’s like a Roger Dean. It’s just incredible. It’s just incredible. I’m flattered by what’s happened, that people want to work with me, and want to do this, and want to be a part of it. It’s everybody’s. It’s not just mine. It’s for everybody.”




Contrary to popular belief, Portland didn’t show up on the cultural map yesterday, with a funny TV show lampooning its denizens. Portland has always been a big rock and metal town, as has the entire northwestern USA. Rynne gave us her take on why this town breeds cool bands, and high-minded folks who care about art:


Well, let’s see… I mean the first time I ever went to Portland, I felt it. Perhaps it’s just a vibe there. Perhaps it’s the 45th Parallel. It’s a vibration. It was thriving well before I got there in 2001. It had already gone through, I mean in the 80s there was a huge jazz fusion boom with Jeff Lorber. Whether you like Jeff Lorber, and Jazz fusion or not, there has always been something about it. Whether it’s the water, the parallel, or I don’t know what. There is just a vibration. When you have a culture, a creative culture in a small area already there, and people want to moving there with like minds, you are creating a microcosm of this world of art. I have no idea why, but it just breeds there!”


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Keith Chachkes