The case by Chris Fehn against Slipknot has played out as expected in the music press with allegations and some mudslinging, and few details. We are not really privy to the back story and all the context about the relationships in the band that got us to this point. We are also not legal experts at Ghost Cult, so rather than speculate and guess, we asked a lawyer, Matthew Quigley, to analyze the lawsuit filed by Fehn and his lawyers with the State of New York, and give his own take on the finer points of the case. As journalists, we are not taking a side with either party, we only mean to understand the case better and hopefully enlighten our readers on this aspect of the music business. Continue reading
It’s starting to feel like I’m repeating myself here, but “Cinematic Dark Ambient” specialists Cryo Chamber remain one of the most consistently engaging and accomplished in any genre, and one of their more interesting qualities is their themed collaborations between artists. For a Metal label these would likely be little more than indulgent acts of vanity, but Cryo Chamber’s collaborations are always among the most distinctive and evocative of their releases, the artists combining their disparate approaches to create a shared atmosphere, often based around a narrative or themed. Continue reading
Fifty years ago this week, The Jimmy Hendrix Experience exploded on the scene with the release of their début album Are You Experienced (Track Records), and changed music forever. A critical and commercial success at the time, the album stands today as one of the most innovative and enduring records ever released, with a musical shadow that is still inspiring new guitar players today across every genre of music. Continue reading
Halloween is rapidly approaching, and Iron Maiden has you covered! Continue reading
Many people may know visionary artist Alex Grey from his contributions to Tool’s use of his artwork from such albums as Lateralus and 10,000 Days (both Volcano Entertainment). Alex and his wife Allyson have much of their life’s work on display at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, now located in Wappingers Falls, NY. However, there is so much more to the environment and artwork at CoSM that must be experienced and felt that makes a trip to Dutchess County, New York definitely worthwhile.
On August 1st, 2015, Alex and Allyson held their “164th Full Moon Ceremony” at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. With their intricate artwork lining the walls of the house, the beautiful ceremony commenced at 7:30p.m. as the Greys appeared from behind a doorway adorned with a tapestry of Psychic Energy System. They began the ceremony by playing a rhythm on gongs set on opposite sides of the stage.
Allyson spoke briefly at the beginning of the ceremony, bringing to stage two poets in order, Brett Bevell and Fun Yung Moon. Following their appearance was Joness Jones, who gave her Astrological weather forecast in disguise, discussing Leo and Aquarius as well as Venus being in retrograde. To conclude the ceremony, that had been primarily a reminder of love, Alex read a passage from his book, Art Psalms. The Ceremony left a clear impression on those who attended and set the stage for the evening’s festivities to follow.
As the night continued, inside, there was live painting by artists Caren Charles and Alexia Velez; a Sand Mandala was created by guests in another room, as well as Tarot Readings by Marcy. All the while Alex and Allyson sat in the main room speaking with guests and signing books and posters. Outside there was a gorgeous laser light show, and music ensued. In addition, there was everything from Reiki therapy on the patio, a fire spinner, acrobatics, and a bonfire to entertain the onlookers.
Later in the evening, Alex painted a Supportrait of one of the attendees. The proceeds of the Supportrait go to helping build Entheon. Entheon is their latest project on the property, a building to house the Greys CoSM Art Collection.
More information about the Greys, The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, and the Entheon project can be found at their website here:
This month’s Under the Surface has us traveling from the familiar trappings of Manchester, New Hampshire all the way to London, Scandinavia and the heart of Southeast Asia. The mission as always is the pursuit of the latest and greatest in unsigned or undiscovered heavy music.
I start not too far from home, with New Hampshire’s At the Heart of It. The challenge, particularly in the New England area, is finding a way to stand out in a crowded hardcore scene. You can’t swing a dead cat in Boston without hitting 14 bands cannibalizing each other’s sound. With their self-titled EP, At the Heart of It found a way to stand out. And the here’s the catch what helps separate them is not their aggression, but the more quiet moments like in ‘Create/Sustain’ and ‘This World Has Teeth.’ The vocals are so pained that I just want to buy the band a cup of coffee and tell them that things will get better soon. But not too soon, I’m really digging this sound. 8.0/10
Next is Abodean Skye and their new LP Echoes of an Astral Empire. This UK trio are the type of band that gladly remind you that it’s hip to be square as proven by singing that would make Geoff Tate, soaring melodies and keyboard runs that wouldn’t feel out of place in a vintage Final Fantasy game. Then you have song titles like ‘Battle of Tears’ and ‘Return of the Fleet.” And that kind of nerd cred isn’t a knock, either. Echoes is a very fun album, particularly if you have a sweet tooth for histrionics and bands like the underrated Cellador.
Sure at 55 minutes it can feel a bit lengthy, but it seems like epic was the MO here. And while on the subject of epic, I would’ve liked the production to have a little more pop to it. The mix here is serviceable, but the compositions could’ve used a little more energy to them. It’s a quest worth venturing. 7.0/10
Keeping with that same nerd enthusiasm is Helsinki, Finland’s Tulitera. Seriously, that cover art is probably the geekiest thing I’ve ever seen and I collect Batman comics. But this instrumental collective is so much more than their art suggests. Move past Tulikaste’s crude sword illustrations and you will find a very sophisticated and ambitious sound. Fans of Tesseract will feel right at home with songs like ‘Voidborn’ and ‘Firedew’ has sweeping synths that sound like something that Vangelis forgot to use in Blade Runner. And while ‘Firedew’ is one the album’s highlights it illustrates that much like Abodean Skye, Tulitera let the songs run for a little longer than expected. Case in point, ‘Percolator’ feels less like an introduction and more like 3 minutes of nothing.
And I can already hear you shouting “but Hans, this progressive metal, it’s supposed to have longer songs.” Yes and no. If the riffs are there then go for that 14 minute Between the Buried and Me musical freakout. If not, then trim it and get your point across a lot faster. But given that this is a debut LP it’s a flaw that can be overlooked. 8.0/10
And since we’re on the subject of longer songs why not talk about the Burning Water split EP between Philipino sludge acts Death After Birth and Surrogate Prey. How do I put this? One of these bands has a promising future and other does not. I take it they haven’t been around long, but Death After Birth really shit the bed with their half of the recording. They slog by checking off all the traditional doom and sludge checkboxes with a sound that only can be described as basement quality. It’s like Crowbar, but without the riffs or Kirk Windstein or the great guitar tone. However, Surrogate Prey sound like they know a thing or two about playing low and slow. ‘Crevianitus’ is soul crushingly heavy and memorable and ‘Banquet of the Beasts’ has a breakdown the size of Alaska. Surrogate Prey save the day here. 6.0/10
And to wrap things up we have another split EP, Irk | Wren, featuring the British talents of Irk and Wren respectively. Irk storms out of the gate with a brand of noise highly reminiscent of fellow Brits, Fudge Tunnel and a vocal delivery that sounds like Jonathan Davis on Quaaludes. And tracks like ‘You Sound Like my Ex-Wife’ and ‘Cibo Per Gattini’ are some of the rare and very awesome instances where the bass is more prominent than the guitar. As good as Irk is, Wren steal the show with some of the heaviest post-metal goodness since Isis. If you’re still heartbroken over their breakup then Wren are more than willing to fill in that blank space in your life. Forget an EP, after listening to the atom smashing closer that is ‘An Approach’ I need a double LP. 9.0/10
Under the Surface is our new column in which we take a listen to and critique artists with independently released albums. As with our website, we will explore the boundaries of heavy music by reviewing releases that range from fringes of post-rock to the heaviest of the heavy. The releases will be scored from on our 10 scale (poor – fantastic). The goal is to promote the underground and give artists the chance to be heard, providing descriptive overviews, kudos – and constructive criticism – as necessary, giving our readers the opportunity to check these artists out and support our scene.
Alek Darson – Panopticon
Alek Darson is a Berklee College graduate by way of Serbia, and has the guitar chops to prove it. After paying his dues for a decade, he has released Panopticon, which clearly showcases both his virtuosity and songwriting skill. Conceived to reflect the range of emotions he has experienced throughout his life, his influences of Dream Theater and Steve Vai are pretty clear. However, this release reminds me very much of Animals As Leaders. If you enjoy those artists, you will totally love this release. It is primarily instrumental, using three drummers, a flautist, keyboards and a string section over the course of five songs, which are all carefully crafted. The last song, The Rind, finally brings in vocals courtesy of Vladimir Lalić, and while his vocal performance is excellent, he sounds so much like Devin Townsend that it is uncanny – and a bit distracting. Lalić also wrote the lyrics, which, while cool and interesting, are also very Townsend-esque. I hope that on a future release Darson will utilize Lalić more so we can get a better gauge of his range – and hopefully individuality – as a vocalist. But even with that, sounding like Mr. Townsend is never a bad thing, and what he does is perfect for the song. This EP is quite impressive on a few levels, and if you love music that is not shy with the technicality but still manages to incorporate some dynamics and feeling, this is a must-have. Purportedly Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess is a fan, and after listening to what Mr. Darson is capable of, I can understand it. This fellow is as good as anyone out there, and he definitely should be given the opportunity to flex his musical muscle in front of a much larger audience.
Formed by members of In Mourning, October Tide, Majalis and others, this is an instrumental, psychedelic Post-Rock journey with an ambient bent. Palefeather is a very relaxing and downright pretty release and easily reminds one of Opeth, Devin Townsend or even Tiamat in their mellower moments crossed with Pink Floyd. Since I do enjoy that type of stuff, I really enjoyed this CD. Great as ‘chill out’ music or for spacing out, hell, I’d even do yoga to this. Mind-expanding without being overly prog, this is well worth checking out. 7.5/10
Palefeather on Bandcamp
The Cloud Shoveler – Les Jeûnes de la Chair
Nicolas Aubé-Lanctôt, alias Le Pelteux de nuages (The Cloud Shoveler) is a celestial-sounding post-rock release. This album is the first of a trilogy entitled Sahara d’endorphine, and while there is no indication of what the remaining two albums will sound like, this one is clearly out to set a melancholic
mood. The guitars are layered with effects, and combined with the onomatopoeic vocals (which are overused a bit for my taste), lends a very dream-like quality to all of the songs. There are other instruments involved, such as accordion and piano, and altogether creates a release that may intend to be soothing, but there is an undercurrent of tension that, for me, keeps it from being relaxing; in fact, at times it is a little creepy. So, if you like your ambient music to have a little bit of a Gothic bite to it, you’ll probably love having this in the background of your next dinner party.
Minimal Bogart – Cosmic Caveman Blues
Formed in 2008, Minimal Bogart is stoner/psychedelic/blues from Bulgaria. The music is instrumental and quite musical without getting either boring or totally distracting. There is a very strong 60’s influence, with a good amount of keyboards and harmonica. As far as execution, it is a bit loosey-goosey in spots, and the production is pretty lo-fi (perhaps that is where the ‘Minimal’ in their name comes from), but that definitely lends to the 60’s rock feel if that’s your thing. Picture an old Kyuss jam crossed with some 60’s dudes in someone basement or a crusty bar on the edge of town. Titles such as ‘The Intergalactic Drug Baron’, ‘Reefer Madness’ and ‘Interlude – Quest for Shrooms’ should further give you an idea of what you should expect sonically. The guitar tone did get a little grating after awhile, but he has got some chops. Unfortunately, the band members are not named on any of the links that were provided.
Hoth is a two-member music project from Seattle consisting of Eric Peters and David Dees, and they have quite the release in Oathbreaker (Epicurus Records). A concept album about a person descending into darkness from birth, it’s a task that requires a lot of dynamics, thought and, of course musical execution. This record has all three qualities in spades, traveling through many Metal genres such as Black, melodic Death, and Traditional. The vocals, reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir‘s Shagrath, are not as dynamic and they do not stray from a Black/Death growl. They are heavily effected to convey the coldness tension that matches the storyline, so while not particularly unique, they do fit the music perfectly. They introduce violin, choir sounds, acoustic guitars and keyboards to really set the Black Metal mood, but it is so well-crafted and produced they know when to change it up and keep the listener engaged. Other musicians appear to have been involved and it is unclear what their contributions were, but overall every musician and element is used to best effect. Picture Dimmu, Opeth and a touch of Amon Amarth and maybe even a dash of The Haunted – that’s a mix you can’t go wrong with! I was truly impressed by this release from beginning to end, and it is something that I will actually keep and play as part of my regular collection.
Burning Witch – Crippled Lucifer (Southern Lord, 1998)
Before he was lost in the murky drone world of Sunn0))), Stephen O’Malley knew his way around a doom riff or two and he demonstrated this with aplomb in the short-lived Burning Witch, arguably one of the most hideous and difficult bands possible to love. This was the sound of Black Sabbath forcibly injected with bad smack and made to get up and dance for the sick enjoyment of the assembled wasters in the shooting gallery as the relentless bad vibes of the likes of ‘Sacred Predictions’ and ‘Warning Signs’ bore down on the listener with pitiless intent. The drone sections hinted at horrors not yet to come, while the anguished screeches and mocking croons of deranged vocalist Edgy 59 were more than many could bear. Reissued several times with varied track listing, Crippled Lucifer is difficult to digest on every level and not something that can be endured by many. For those who crave the foulest of sludge however, it’s an addiction that can’t be sated.
Weakling – Dead as Dreams (tUMULt, 2000)
With rumours that only one copy was going to be produced, and later that hand-drawn treasure maps would provide fans with the buried location of copies of the album turning out to be record company mischief, the truth was that San Francisco’s Weakling were in no need of gimmickry, for Dead as Dreams, their only album turned out to be one of the finest records of that genre ever, and one of the most influential to boot. Who would have thought that a member of a band as different as The Fucking Champs could be responsible for the seething mass of darkness, wide-eyed insanity and crushing extremity that was captured here? Who knew that the agonised vocals, half comprised of actual lyrics, the rest gibbering screams would terrify and enrapture in equal measure. Who would have anticipated the impact that a debut featuring songs tipping the scales at 20 minutes would have on a black metal scene that had always lagged behind its European rivals? No one was prepared for Dead as Dreams but a hell of a lot of people paid attention and its legacy is felt to this day. Still the finest USBM album ever.
THORNS – THORNS (Moonfog, 2001)
It’s fair to say that Snorre W. Ruch made some mistakes in his early days. After joining Mayhem as a second guitarist just before the recording of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, one night he decided to take a car ride with Varg Vikernes to visit his erstwhile employer Euronymous and the rest is history. After a few years in prison he emerged keen to show the world what impact he would have made on the black metal scene had he been wiser in the company he kept. The result, with a little help from his friends was the towering, lethal and magnificent self-titled album under the THORNS moniker; a forty-eight minute assault on the senses that further dragged black metal kicking and screaming into the future. With far more emphasis on atmosphere and shifts in pace and tone, but still with litres of venom and a chilling, sterile atmosphere permeating every facet of the recording, especially Hellhammer’s artificially enhanced drumming, the likes of ‘World Playground Deceit’ sound challenging and evil as hell to this day, and that is Ruch’s true legacy.
Warhorse – As Heaven Turns to Ash (Southern Lord, 2002)
No, not the Deep Purple side project, one of the finest examples of stoner/doom this side of Electric Wizard, who the band happened to be on tour with when the initial line-up crumbled. Operating as a three-piece, it’s staggering just how a band with only one guitar could be so monolithically heavy, so brutally crushing yet still find the time to forge memorable riffs and bluesy solos with such ease. Some brief interludes gave you time for a smoke-break, but it wasn’t long before the lysergic steamroller began moving again and the likes of ‘Devil’s Bride’ crushed you under its Jupiter-heavy weight, not that you’d want to stop nodding your head along enthusiastically. Music for dropouts, freaks and heads it may have been, but anyone who has ever enjoyed the music of an obscure band called Black Sabbath would do well to wrap their lugholes around As Heaven Turns to Ash before it collapses under its own corpulence.
Insect Warfare – World Extermination (Six Two Five Thrashcore, 2007)
The shortest album on our list, and undeniably the most brutal. In fact, quite possibly the most brutal album ever recorded. If you thought Napalm Death and Brutal Truth were the heaviest grindcore had to offer than do yourself a favour and check out the twenty-two minute blast-a-thon that is World Extermination and when you’ve stopped crying and wretching on the floor, punch yourself in the face a few times for not having known about Insect Warfare and their ruinous, fast-as-fuck grind devastation. Despite a plethora of split releases as is the grindcore way, World Extermination is their only full-length release and one that pisses all over its competitors. Songs are short, ugly, chock full of screams, blasts, thrash-core, powerviolence and surprisingly catchy riffs and the album cover has a giant skeleton presiding over a swarm of bugs. What more could you want?
Disagree with our choices? Discovered someone new that has blown you away through this feature? Think we’ve missed someone? Let us know who you think about one-hit-wonder bands on our Facebook page, via Twitter or Google+
Body Count has historically found a way to grab the attention of the listening public and shock the masses with its controversial themes to its songs while raising awareness to various social issues at the same time.
While their methods do not always sit well with everyone, Body Count always becomes the subject of conversation amongst the musical scene. As in past favorites such as ‘Momma’s Gonna Die Tonight’, ‘KKK Bitch’ and ‘Cop Killer’, the band has tackled controversial subjects such as racism and police brutality and brought it out into the national spotlight.
Their latest release Manslaughter (Sumerian Records) found new subjects to tackle including female empowerment, pop music and their takes on a couple of familiar songs.
Band guitarist Ernie C gave Ghost Cult Magazine a run down on a few high lights on Manslaughter:
‘Bitch In The Pit’
Ernie C: That’s a song about women empowerment – being empowered to control. Girls love that song. They want to be the bitch in the pit, and the girls are in the pit. That’s what that song is.
Jamey Jasta on ‘Pop Bubble’
Ernie C: He’s a fan and knows Ice. Ice was on his podcast, he called in and said he wanted to do a song. We were like ‘what song?’ The perfect song ‘Pop Bubble Full Of Bullshit…’ That’s a good song actually. I remember when working on it, Ice said ‘pop mutherfuckers don’t want no fight. Muthafucker’s pants too tight.’
Ernie C: It’s a rant. It’s bringing it contemporary. It’s the same rant that Mike [Muir] had 25 years ago about his parents, but we’re bringing it up to now. It’s a lot of fun.
We had to get clearance to do that song. So we started calling around. We thought Mike had it. Mike didn’t own it. This guy named Glen Friedman owns the rights to the song. That’s Ice’s photographer from back in the day. We didn’t know who owned the song. So he gave us the rights to do it but he said…he’s a vegan so “you’re coming down hard on the vegans!”
You know Ice loves video games. We did the ‘Gears of War’ song two years ago (for Gears of War 3). He loves videos games. It’s like his second job. It’s therapy.
Ernie C: Ice did that on a record (1993’s Home Invasion). There’s a story in Rolling Stone about it. Chris Rock was talking to Rick Rubin and he said you should use his hook that Ice has on one of Jay Z’s songs. That’s how that came about. But Jay Z stole the song. People hear the song now and ‘Ice is doing Jay Z’s cover’. No, Jay Z did Ice’s cover. They act like it didn’t happen. The catch about is we didn’t have to get clearance from no one. He had to get clearance to do that. He has to pay Ice on royalties on that song. They act like nothing’s going on. So we just took it back. They can’t claim we stole their song. No, it’s our song.
‘Talk Shit Get Shot’
Ernie C: You know Body Count is extreme. It’s taking everything to the extreme level. So that song – ‘Talk Shit, Get Shot’ – it goes out to internet bloggers. People that are on there – sometimes I listen to things – ‘the band sucks…’ and this and that – you really haven’t heard the band. We really don’t suck. People might not like it. I can play guitar. I have played guitar for 42 years. I don’t really suck. I might not be as good as so and so but I don’t suck. So this really tells the truth about some people.
Demilich –Nespithe (Necropolis, 1993)
After all the noise being made about the giants of Sweden and the USA, it’s about time the Finns got a look in. Although don’t look too closely as you may not escape with your sanity intact after any length of time exposed to Nespithe, the single album by Kuopio’s Demilich, a quartet who decided to take death metal, dissect it in the most painful and morbid ways possible before reassembling it with alien technologies. The riffs and guitar lines make Voïvod sound like AC/DC, so complex, mangled and downright weird are the time signatures. The percussion and bass guitar are restless and almost jazz like, and as for the bizarre, almost burped vocals (recorded with no effects) and long-winded sci-fi themed lyrics, no one apart from the band had any idea what was going on. Too weird to live, Demilich, have reformed and split several times since the release of this thirty-nine minute monument to madness and maybe, just maybe it’s for the best.
diSEMBOWELMENT – Transcendence Into the Peripheral (Relapse, 1993)
Surely the North of England, with its bleak moors, freezing temperatures and morbid ethos was the perfect setting for doom/death, especially when you take into account the impact of the Peaceville Northern Doom Trinity of My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost, right? Well you’d be dead wrong, for the finest example of that genre, then and ever, crawled out of the Australian bush twenty years ago in the form of diSEMBOWELMENT, who with the utterly peerless Transcendence Into the Peripheral mashed death metal and doom together not in some harmonious accord, but more like a berserk Victor Frankenstein drunk on the horror of his own creation. Nightmarish, drawn out doom sections sap your energy and will before rabid grind-speed blasting parts appear out of nowhere to pin you to the wall and spit blood in your face before retreating back into the darkness, while the sinister melodies and tortured moaning vocals do their best to make things even worse. An endurance test that few make to the end of, Transcendence Into the Peripheral proved that location meant jack if you hated yourself enough to begin with.
Thergothon – Stream From the Heavens (Avantgarde, 1994)
Just when you thought that metal couldn’t get any slower or depressive sounding, along came a trio of Finns who had other ideas, all of them in different shades of black. They were known as Thergothon, and with the forty minutes of anguish and drawn-out misery they committed to tape in the beginning of 1994, they not only explored more of the abyss than ever before, but created an entire new genre; funeral doom. Characterised by one-note downstrokes, haunting, ethereal keyboards and vocals alternating between diseased death grunts and stark clean-sung laments, the music captured was so wrist-slashingly bleak it’s no surprise that the band called it a day soon after. The host of imitators spawned was inevitable, but none yet have come close to capturing the barren, disfigured beauty on offer here.
Mysticum – In the Streams of Inferno (Full Moon, 1996)
Black metal was in a tight spot in the late 90s with the old guard past their best and the new school more interested in vampires and bloodsucking than darkness and extremity so thank fuck for bands such as Norway’s Mysticum who decided that the way forward was to look to the future. However, this was a nightmarish, militaristic future of deadly guitar riffs, merciless programming in place of live drums and an aesthetic that was just as grim as anything the Helvete brigade could ever conceive of. In short, Cyber-Black Metal was born, and were it not for the utterly shoddy efforts of the bands that followed in Mysticum’s wake, the black metal landscape would look very different today. Doubt the quality of this recording? Then head over to the band’s website where it’s free for all to hear.
Floodgate – Penalty (Roadrunner, 1996)
If you thought that Down were the only stoner/doom band with a singer recruited from a thrash/groove act that mattered, then you’ve obviously never heard Floodgate, and shame on you. Featuring the mightily refined and recognisable pipes of Exhorder’s Kyle Thomas, Penalty is a timeless classic that will appeal to anyone with a passing interest in rock and metal. The songwriting is stellar, with the effortlessly catchy grooves of ‘Through My Days Into My Nights’ and the loose, flowing rhythms of ‘Shivering’ lodging into your brain for days afterwards. Heavy without being abrasive and always enjoyable, it’s a tragedy and a mystery that Floodgate only ever recorded one album given the talents and resources at their disposal. As it is, we only have Penalty but it’s a record that keeps on giving and will never let you down, and for that we should be thankful.