For any fan of old Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Entombed and the first two Cattle Decapitation albums, this is for you. Originally found on as a demo entitled Swallow The Symmetric Swab and a mini-album Nookleptia (Morbid Records), the songs on the 11 track compilation Swallow This (Svart) are remastered for this release to show the bands fully formed ideas of how the songs were supposed to sound on the original tape and vinyl pressings in 1993.Continue reading
At first glance of the title, one would think it’s awfully close to Chris Barnes‘s former band Cannibal Corpse’s album Torture (Metal Blade), and this is only where the problems begin. The twelfth album for Barnes and hired gunsContinue reading
London-based Progressive Black Metal group code wanted to revisit some older material on their Lost Signal (Agonia) EP to see if they could cast it in a new light. This EP is six songs in total, comprising of three from the album Mut (Agonia) and three from their first three records. The band produced and mixed the EP themselves to show rich power melody and dynamics.Continue reading
On a brisk fall evening we arrive at SPACE Gallery in down town Portland and await the avant-garde Black Metal explosion that was set to begin. Emma Parsons and my self make a home stage left where we can sit comfortably and still see the bands. All around the room are the banners that have been closed while all the other bands play as not to ruin the experience that Wolves In The Throne Room delivers.Continue reading
Reclusive grindcore masters Agoraphobic Nosebleed have been downright prolific the last few years. Playing multiple special shows at festivals, and with a great new EP out earlier this year Arc (Relapse) ,the band has seen a resurgence of popularity, and as usual, unwavering respect in the underground. They will take a turn as one of the headliners this weekend at Southwest Terrorfest V in Tuscon, AZ. Ghost Cult’s Andrew Francis caught up with Adam Freisch, Richard Johnson, and Scott Hull earlier in the year to discuss the current state of the band, future recordings, and the difference in the record industry between being in a grindcore band, versus say Slayer, Iron Maiden or Tool.
After a fairly quick work day and speedy drive to the city we are met with the universal issue when in any city , PARKING! But after spotting a Wookie known as Tim Ledin (also of Ghost Cult) and acquiring a spot we await the start of the show!
Slowly the intersection is flooded with metal heads like zombies at a mall, and slowly we all shamble in to the hopefully air-conditioned venue. For those who have not been to Cuisine en Locale AKA Once Ballroom there’s an upstairs bar to the left of the main door way and straight ahead is the main dance hall, both excellent for watching the bands and having beers. Upstairs obviously having the best vantage point to the stage aside from of course directly in front of the 3 ft high structure.
First band of the night probably had the youngest members out of all of them Black Mass. Brendan O’Hare and two cohorts make up a thrashing mad three-piece akin to Blue Cheer but of speed metal. Brendan’s vocals sound a lot like Max Cavelera and Chuck Schuldiner’s love child of sorts and back up vocals from the bassist really add dimension and punch to the already catchy vocal lines. Ending their set with the sing along of “East Coast Thrash” with a very easy line to remember with three magical words!
Up next is Lich King keeping the thrash train a moving and if you’re reading this and haven’t witnessed them live its like a mash-up of all the good things about Slayer and Exodus rolled in to one! I’m not a thrash junkie like many of my friends may be but sometimes every thing blurs together and in a flash its gone , sadly that was my experience with this band, not saying they are bad or aren’t deserving of praise just not this writers cup of tea, check them out for yourself and form your own opinion. maybe you’ll have something to show me or a song I should listen to that may really get my attention and I will become as big a fan as some of you readers.
Magic Circle is next to take the stage and start of with a quick jaunt of ‘Kings and Queens’ by Aerosmith song then almost as quickly diving in to the opening song of their set. Two more songs in I am bathed in riffage similar to St. Vitus or Pentagram and I am finally in my element and enjoying my self and being swooned by vocals very similar to the late great Ronnie James Dio being channeled from the other side, I was almost sad to see them end but now we enter the main event, the reason we are all here sweating , now .. it is time for THE WITCH!
Between sets people step out side to take a smoke break and that is where I happen to find Adam Clemans having a smoke and had a quick chat about the tour and whats in store on the set and whats in BOTH Wolvhammer’s future and the witch with Clemens at he helm and 2017 sounds promising.
What do I really need to say about this new line up of Skeletonwitch that hasn’t already been said? Yes, Chance is no longer the singer no he probably isn’t coming back to the band, but most importantly, yes Adam Clemens is the best fit for the band for the foreseeable future. Let me tell you why: because he is a new fresh face and well of ideas the band needs at this time. the band didn’t want a chance sound alike they wanted to try and move forward from his leaving and go in a new direction while still maintaining the Skeletonwitch sound, and I believe they’ve achieved that. although at first I wasn’t overly enthused about the choice after seeing Clemens works with the guys and the sound of the songs found on their new EP The Apothic Gloom (Prosthetic) Clemans fits perfectly among the blackened riffs the band had been writing.
Pulling put all the stops and playing a majority of The Apothic Gloom as well as some older material mixed in with fan favorites (with the exception of my favorite ” submit to the suffering” which Adam assures me is going to be on the set in October but they will not be coming to Boston…) an other notable change is guitarist Nate Garnette has picked up on backing vocal duties which also adds to the songs as well as the performance. Sweating through the expansive set and a few beers later sadly the set is over and now begins the mad rush out of the building and back to our homes to try and make it home safe and to bed after an amazing week night show.
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In Part II of our interview with DROPDEAD from last fall’s Housecore Horror Festival, Ghost Cult’s Andrew Francis along with Ben Barnett and Bob Otis discussed the challenges of running a veteran band and still having the everyday challenges of life to deal with. Also they spoke of their lifelong political activism, and how it has stood on equal footing to the music they make since the beginning.
The music business is an unforgiving career choice for most. We asked Ben and Bob about their family lives, and how they manage to keep up with personal responsibilities and still tour, make albums etc.
Ben: “I have a girlfriend and help take care of my gram when I have time.”
Bob: “I’m a mental health worker during the day, and I do animal rescue during the night and also the
band, which is an extension of the animal rescue work because it’s animal rights related and politics. Maybe not all animal rights, but things based in that area. just an extension of things I already do.
Ben: I own two shops (Armageddon Record Shop in Cambridge, MA and Providence, RI ) a label, try to hang out with my friends, play a little music, take care of my Gram. As I said, there’s a lot of shit going on.”
Ben: “We fit it in best we can , we’re not trying to make it- there’s no goal besides to play music with our friends. Occasionally we have the opportunity to come to fest’s like these (Housecore) make new friends, see some great bands, hang out, and have some vegan tacos.”
Bob: “Part of it for me, personally is it’s a good podium to talk about our beliefs and the things we really believe in. I do cat rescue and similar things, and the animal rights as part of my life is fully supported in the band and my home life.
Considering the above sentiments, we figured out that it must be hard to hit the road and tour, leaving behind your family:
Bob: The days of being able to jet out and go somewhere for six months out of the year are definitely behind us we all have our responsibilities and real jobs adult jobs but we do the best we can. We’ve been going for 25 years now so, and I’ll go for another 25 if I can do it with this guy here. I don’t care aha! We’ll be in wheelchairs still trying to play in the band!”
On the differences between local shows in New England and playing Texas where fans might not be too familiar with your band:
Ben:“Yea there’s definitely stuff going on back there. Like today one of the guys at the shop in Providence, his grandfather is going to pass at any moment, and we just gotta tell him take the day off and close up shop. it doesn’t matter.”
Bob: “I actually have a house full of sick cats and kittens that my girl friend is home taking care of while I’m gone. Funny enough my father is watching mine back home as well.”
Bob: “Those things are our responsibilities back home, but stepping away and being here is our responsibility too. We’ve had a message for a very long time and I truly believe it, so to me this is equally important to me as well.
So basically being in DROPDEAD means staying humble, no vacations, and no party type atmospheres other bands dream of.
Ben: “Well no there’s some of that, I’ve never like to go out and have fun as much as we do now. back in the day I probably took it for granted but now I really enjoy it for what it is. My friendships too. The business part of it and the shows is just an extension of what we are doing for fun. I think I’m having a good time and enjoying it. I don’t think I let myself enjoy it that much back in the day. I was a little more serious.
Bob: “And we didn’t have time, most of the stuff we did was on a super budget and sleeping on a concrete floor somewhere and it was real raw. After 25 years and getting the respect of other bands and people and putting in the time now we get the flight paid for, or the room, and we never take that for granted. We still play cellar shows and shit like that but it’s a little easier that way now than it used to be when we were sleeping out on rocks on the side of the road.
Ben: “So no I don’t take any of this for granted I don’t think any one owes me anything, but its nice to stay in a hotel for a night and some one pays for the flight we’ve put in a lot of hard years lost girlfriends, apartments, and jobs to continue this because we believe what we say and you suck it up do what you love or you don’t do it. Don’t complain about it. Both worlds can co-exist, and we are thankful.
This interview took place in November during the Paris terror attacks. Having to talked to the politically astute guys who have made a career of understanding crisis worldwide, we could not help but ask about the relevance to those tragic acts. The bands own desire to shine a light on similar situations, such as their song ‘Bosnia” in 1992, or other songs in their catalog seemed relevant at the time:
Bob: “I say its extremism which is happening then with ethnic cleansing and same with France yesterday its extremism and ridiculous beliefs and religion things that we stand against all things we don’t believe in.
“That and none of us are religious in the band. I think its one of the biggest problems in the world next to capitalism and to me personally, is the destruction of the animal kingdom. All of those three things are the big factors of whats destroying the world to me. so of course we don’t believe it or we try to talk about it and share our ideas on it. When we first wrote the song ‘Bosnia’ that was in the early 90s and with the ethnic cleansing that was going on. I felt it was important to talk about. It’s kinda of a quick song, really four lines long. I always thought of it is political haiku the guys don’t leave me a lot time to write a long song to get our ideas out.”
We asked if there was a song about the Paris attacks coming as a form of a response:
Ben: “I may, we sing about a lot of things but I’ve been writing about animal cruelty so the songs will deal with that more so but once I have time to digest it and form my own thoughts on it then yea, maybe we’ll sing about it. but definitely we will sing about religious extremism in one way or another.”
Shortly after this point the interview kinda turned in to more of a conversation about a slew of other things. Interviews are great but as always to learn more about the band, they encourage fans to seek them out and to get involved in their causes, or your own. When not on tour, Ben can be found in the Armageddon Shops and Bob is accessible via Facebook, or of course going to a DROPDEAD show. They are more than willing to talk you and share their ideas and have a beer. Check em out, expand your mind, and get some more food for thought…
“Don’t you realize? you’re eating death! and the taste in your mouth, is the corpse on your breath!”
INTERVIEW BY ANDREW FRANCIS
Long-running activist hardcore leaders DROPDEAD have been around long enough to know, their path is marathon and not sprint. When you make non-sellout music that demands critical thinking from fans, you are not going to get asked on late night TV, or find your music in movies and football stadium. But what drives this band, a staple of the Providence, RI music scene for two-plus decades is not the same motivation for everyone else. Ghost Cult’s Andrew Francis met up with Ben Barnett and Bob Otis in Austin Texas, a long way from home. The band was in town for the Housecore Horror And Music Festival, and despite playing an incredible set, true to form, they never felt “at home”.
Curious about the origin of the band, we started off by asking Ben and Bob what has a great influence on their style: the scene in New England or was it shaped by other bands and their teachings?
Bob Otis: “It was a combinations of things really, me Ben and Bryan started the band. Ben came from California and Bryan and my self grew up in Providence but we all listened to a lot of different stuff.”
“Ben brought a lot of his California influences when he joined the band that I had never heard and I did the same for him with a lot of the anarco – punk, Bryan was in to Japanese punk but we all bonded around the same like of similar forms of music and hardcore punk and the philosophy behind it.”
DROPDEAD is the epitome of n East Coast Hardcore band, but like most in the genre, one can’t deny a multitude of broader influences in the punk rock spectrum: Bob: For me it was more to the punk side, I was really in to anarco-punk and the philosophy and Ben was more to the hardcore side”
Ben Barnett: “I was more into Infest, Negative Approach”
Bob: “Where I was in to Crass and Conflict”.
Ben: “But still in to the politics of that stuff.”
The band has an unmistakable agenda, but bandmates don’t always have the same word view. We asked Ben and Bob if they shared a lot of the same political ideas
Ben: “Oh yeah definitely”
Bob: Whats great about these guys is that they believe exactly the same thing as me, and they allow me to get up on stage and expound upon the beliefs that we all have, together. It’s not just we are going to get together and write the music and you can just go do what ever as long as it doesn’t sound silly?
Bob: “We believe the same thing ,we have the same core values.”
Ben: Yeah I don’t think we could go up there and say what we say and do what we do if we didn’t mean it.
Bob: “No one in the band is going to McDonalds that’s for sure.”
Aside from punk, few bands shaped the political landscape for bands in history like Napalm Death has. A definite influence on the band, we asked both at what point did they discover the seminal Brit grindcore band and if they seeped in.
Ben: “That first Napalm record in 87 definitely blew my mind at first, i never heard anything like it.”
Bob: “To be honest with you they weren’t one of my favorite bands but I can appreciate what they did and stood for, but at the time i was more in to anarco punk but i appreciate it. You can see where the comparison comes from with short song times and ferocity and lyrical content.”
Bob: “Well yea we can see that but we also got a lot of our sound from the Boston Hardcore bands, Siege and California bands like Infest.”
Ben: “We acquired our name from a Siege song the and store name are from a Siege song, we became very influenced by a band from Weymouth.”
If a band was to be considered top-tier and the biggest influence on the band you would all say its Siege?
Bob: “Musically for sure.”
Ben: “Lyrically its not terribly that far off either. If you don’t listen to them already, Siege comes highly recommended young readers!”
Ben is the owner of Armageddon Record Shop and its accompanying label. One of the defining businesses in the North East music scene at the moment, we asked if the distro through the label was created because it makes life easier for a DIY band.
Ben: “I had done a label since the late 80’s up until 98 and I decided it was just time to call it a day. we had a record to put out and we wanted a fresh start and we figured we would do our own thing. we had some not terrible but not fantastic experiences with some people. back in the day Earache hit us up, Century Media hit us up it wasn’t really what we wanted to do.”
Bob: “Part of it was it was all stuff Ben could do himself so why get some one else? I don’t think any one could do it any better than him. he has an invested interest as our guitarist and best friend so obviously he’s gonna put every thing he’s got in to the band so i don’t think a record label would have as much invested in us as someone who’s in the band.”
Ben: “There might be more press, maybe more hype but ..”
Bob: We’ve done pretty good for our selves, he’s done a great job!”
Ben: “We just chug along do our own thing if people buy the records we appreciate it and if not then.. oh well? we’ll play a show some one may be excited then that’s pretty cool too, they go slow but they go.”
We then asked if starting the label became a necessity of being in the band or as a fan of music who later ended up in a band:
Ben: “Originally it was cause I was excited about music, I put out my first record for a California band Apocalypse in like ..1989. Just cause they were friends. It was kinda like you can be a guy going to shows or you could do something, and Otis can attest to this, I’m not really a do nothing kinda guy. kinda a workaholic.”
Bob: “One of the busiest guys I know.”
INTERVIEW BY ANDREW FRANCIS
PHOTOS BY EMMA PARSONS PHOTOGRAPHY
On Saturday we were running a little late to the venue for Housecore Horror Festival III. I made it just in time to catch most of NAILS’ set, most of which Todd Jones was visibly displeased the entire time. While dozens of kids could be spotted wearing their hardcore and metal shirts all around San Antonio, the floor of the theater was lightly peppered with kids there to watch the band. Coupled with the fact that there was little to no moshing, or just overall lack of general mayhem during their caustic performance, it was leaving a bad taste in Jones’ mouth.
Catching only snippets of Poison Idea and Crippled Bastards, we jumped over to see Providence, RI power-violence group Dropdead. Seeing our fellow New Englanders in the south was cool. Dropdead are here with a message, and that message hasn’t changed, nor will it ever; says singer Bob Otis. Otis is also the main lyricist and mouthpiece of the group, and he made a speech about animal cruelty and corporate greed. The group wants you to leave their shows informed, if anything. After getting crushed by Crowbar, then sped back up again by Negative Approach, we close in on the headliners of the night , Corrosion of Conformity, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, and New York’s own Suffocation.
COC, back with Pepper Keenan at the helm, had a setlist full of classic tunes ending with ‘Clean My Wounds’. Jesus then showed up to clean the crowds wounds and sung with Pepper, followed by stage diving off both ends of the stage to “bless” the theater. To the untrained eye, ANB look like four people standing around waiting for something to happen. But as soon at the lights dim and the projector flashes their name, the audible noise of our butt holes tightening with excitement shadowed the opening notes of the set. It was strangely entertaining to see such a large stage completely devoid of a drum kit, yet welcome.
Suffocation began much like that of ANB, a few people standing on stage waiting for the go ahead amidst sound checking. Once the OK was given, the lights go down and the grindcore onslaught began. Shortly before the small tour they embarked on leading to Texas, the Suffo guys asked the fans what songs they wanna hear in an online poll, and boy did they deliver. From classics to more recent jams, few songs were spared. A love song, ‘Entrails of You’, seemingly penned by Ed Gein himself for a long since passed lover was a highlight.
Sunday Funday! Day three of the festival and the wear and tear is starting to show on just about everyone, but spirits remain high. Maybe they were just waiting for the headliners or even just to hang out and shop upstairs at the booths in the convention floor. By the way I got a great haul of shirts, patches, and the god-like Boss HM-2 guitar pedal; the most Swedish of all metal pedals! The fest had great vendors with booths both local and internationally based. Often times it was hard to traverse due to hall size and all the people, but with a little courtesy and sucking in of the gut, the metal head marches on! After being preoccupied with a handful of other tasks and waiting in lines, I got to chit-chat with horror film legend Mr. Bill Mosley for a bit before heading back over to the stage,
Next up was the barrage that is Author & Punisher. Tristan Shone was joined onstage by tour mates Muscle and Marrow for a song, but was mostly accompanied by projections and skewed video segments. They were followed by YOB who were flawless, even with a sick Mike Schiedt. Had he not told me himself that he was ill, I’d have never known.
Shortly after YOB’s set I caught up with Mike to have a chat and we found ourselves at Whataburger a block away. We got to talking about touring, music and the state of metal. We discussed the weekend so far and previous tours they had been on, and our mutual love and admiration for Neurosis. In short Mike was my own personal Yoda for an hour and I couldn’t have been happier. Next I briefly checked out Autopsy and Incantation and while both are awesome and historic in their own right, at this stage of the game I was so tired every thing was blurring together tonally. Old school death metal just wasn’t for me that night. To close out the weekend Dawn Of The Dead was screened with the live film score to accompany the film performed by Goblin. Unfortunately by this time it was getting close to midnight, and the walk to the hotel was getting longer. My hotel bed was actually starting to look comfy.
The long trip was totally worth it, and I’m very honored to have gone and shared this weekend with both the bands, the fans, and fellow metal heads. Thanks to the staff of The Aztec Theater for being both friendly caring, and above all professional. Lastly every one behind the scenes working with Philip Anselmo to put the Housecore Horror Festival III together.
WORDS BY ANDREW FRANCIS