On Absolute (Rise Records), Kublai Khan ticks off a lot of the boxes I’m looking for in modern Metallic Hardcore or extreme music, but something isn’t quite passing state inspection. They’re blending equal parts Hardcore and Metal fury, have meaty breakdowns, occasional Thrash tempos and happen to be from Texas. I should like this. Or I should like this a bit more. Continue reading
I remember the great commercial Metalcore boom of the mid-aughts like it was yesterday. I was in the twilight years of high school, about 30 pounds lighter and with no useful insight into how to drive a car or pleasure a woman. I had it all figured out. You may not believe it, but I am wearing an As I Lay Dying tee as I type this. Heart of a Coward‘s The Disconnect (Arising Empire) takes me back to many an evening in 2004 hanging with the homies. Continue reading
As I Lay Dying front man Tim Lambesis was released from prison last December after spending roughly two years behind bars for his 2013 plot to have his then wife, Meggan Lambesis, murdered. Last night he broke his silence for the first time since his release with a lengthy apology on Facebook. Continue reading
Seeing that it is 2016, and it has been two years since Our Endless War, it seems that we are due for another studio album from Knoxville’s pride and joy, Whitechapel. And right on cue here it is in the form of Mark of the Blade (Metal Blade).
Young bands could stand to learn from that work ethic as it netted Whitechapel a Billboard Top 10 spot for Our Endless War. That’s a pretty awesome feat for a Metal Blade artist. If memory serves me right, the last time someone on that stable landed on such a lofty chart spot was As I Lay Dying. Yeah, that one didn’t end well.
Will Mark of the Blade spring the trick again? Yeah, probably. After all this is the album that’s been making headlines on metal news sites for containing clean vocals (‘Bring me Home,’ ‘Decennium’) and taking aim at elitists (uh, ‘Elitist Ones’).
Plus it follows the same game plan as Our Endless War and the self-titled before it. What’s that said game plan? It’s less deathcore or death metal and quickly making itself comfortable in the real estate that housed Devildriver for so long; “groove metal”. Who came up with that moniker? Hell, if I fucking know, but it’s certainly proved itself popular. To me it loosely translates to some kind of mutant post-thrash metal. I guess it became vogue in the aftermath of Pantera. If it truly is a subgenre, then its best albums are Burn My Eyes, Chaos A.D., and Wolverine Blues.
But you know what the funny part is? The best moments here are the non-groove bits. That’s not discounting tracks like ‘Dwell in the Shadows,’ ‘Venomous’ and the aptly titled ‘Tremors’ which will fit nicely along Whitechapel live staples like ‘The Saw is the Law.’ But what’s most impressive is that the clean vocals, albeit sparse, truly work. It’s not unlike in Lamb of God’s melodic turn in ‘Overlord.’ And the fact that they were feeling ballsy enough to try an instrumental in ‘Brotherhood’ that has some ‘The Call of Ktulu’ leanings to it.
So, it’s another solid release from Whitechapel, who will likely continue to forge onwards to decent sales and many a Summer tour. Groove metal be damned, there are plenty of cool moments here. I mean, I could do without ‘Mark of the Blade’ and ‘Elitist Ones,’ but there’s more than enough to make for those missteps. Now excuse me, I have to find more subgenres to dislike.
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Being a band like The Devil Wears Prada and sounding the way they do can often be a challenge for those who are unfamiliar with their music. Over the past decade, the Ohio based act has built up a strong yet loyal following that live and breathe their style of metalcore.
They have once again appeared on the main stage of this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, and are tackling larger audiences who are new to their style of music. Vocalist Mike Hranica talked about playing in front of vast crowds at these events, and how much that influenced how they approached their music.
“When we got started and doing Vans Warped Tour back in 2008, it didn’t really influence us too much. We were really influenced by bands like Killswitch [Engage] and As I Lay Dying. They were always doing an Ozzfest and still doing Warped and playing with rockier bands, poppier bands, and all the way to proper metal, Slayer bands. We tried to do the same.”
Ever since the band first appeared on the 2009 Vans Warped Tour’s main stage, longtime fans got their first experiences hearing their chaotic sounds and became addicted. While The Devil Wears Prada immediately became the pit kings at Warped Tour, things became a bit more of a challenge at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival supporting some of the heavyweights in the metal world.
“We get put in our place when we come to Mayhem. It’s actually tough guys and metalheads rather than at Warped Tour it’s a bunch of young bands. We’re less cocky on Mayhem than on Warped Tour.”
“Doing Mayhem three years ago was really eye opening and we know what we’re getting in for. Also at the same time, that was the best summer tour we’ve ever done and already the past two days have been ‘oh my god…it’s so relaxing to come to Mayhem.’ “
“Having such a fraction of the bands on Warped Tour makes it so much easier. We’re pumped. I think it will be a good summer with fans recognizing and doing shows like Graspop and Download Festival overseas. We know the fan dude there standing there like ‘what the hell is this?’ and by the end of the set will be like ‘I can vibe some of this stuff.’ We enjoy that challenge and trying to win people over. That’s a big part of the challenge.”
While playing in front of a tough crowd and seeing a sea of “what the hell is this” looks, bassist Andy Trick had an interesting view on it. “You can see it if you watch the people come up and sit down and then after a few songs they get into it.”
Christian Metal is a marginalised genre at the best of times. Is it all a marketing ploy? Hardcore is a good medium for faith-based metal. It’s easy to convey the passion you have, and they have that in spades, but recent claims from As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis that “maybe one in ten Christian bands” are genuine have not done the scene any favours. Sleeping Giant seem to mean it though. Finished People (Century Media) is the fourth album from the trio (Tom Green – Vocals, Geoff Brouillette – Guitar, Matt Weir – Drums).
Opener ‘Clutches’ builds from a slow start to a high octane crusher; Green doesn’t take long to start singing about spreading Christian love, but his vocal range is impressive nonetheless and he maintains a positive vibe throughout. Repeated breakdowns are to be expected and are delivered on a regular basis and as is often the case, their constant appearances can become fatiguing. But there are also melodic passages on the likes of ‘Overthrow’ or ‘Finished People’ reminiscent of Jamey Jasta’s solo album as well as thrashy elements on ‘Death Knell’ and ‘Brother’s Keeper.’
Overall there’s a good balance between the usual hardcore genre expectations and melody, but there’s plenty of bite in their sound. ‘Son of God, Son of Man’ is a highlight, as are ‘Christus Victor’ and ‘Victory.’ However there are plenty of overly generic, anonymous moments where it’s mostly shouting and breakdowns. The only outright bad song is ‘Violence’; an overblown and pretentious spoken word passage.
Whether they “mean it” or not, Sleeping Giant have made a respectable album full of energy and zeal with a positive message. They’ve also made an album lacking any new ideas and occasionally straying into pretentiousness or generic breakdowns. There a lot worse albums out there, but it’s a decent effort.
If you’ve never been to Camden’s Barfly, the first thing that strikes you is just how tiny it is. Like, really tiny. You can stand right at the back of the room, by the bar and feel like you’re right down the front. It’s the sort of room where you can see the condensation running down the walls, the sort of room where you can see what the band had for their lunch. It is intimate, that’s for sure and a terrific place to see Wovenwar’s first UK live set. We’ll get to them in a bit: first though, time to check out support act Empress AD, ahead of their Reading and Leeds festival slots.
You can always tell whether a support band has a bit of a buzz about them by how early people turn up for their set. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s VERY busy and judging by tonight’s performance, the buzz on Empress AD is entirely justified. Empress AD are the sort of band that’s difficult to pigeon-hole, such is the diversity and dexterity to their oeuvre. But that is part of their charm: they have a brilliant, disorienting blend of music that runs a gamut of styles – they clearly have a Pink Floyd record or nine in their collection and they are self-evidently enraptured by dark dynamics beloved of Cult of Luna. However, theirs is not a simple facsimile. On the contrary, they have taken their influences, blended them and added several ingredients of their own, a recipe for a performance that thrilled as much as it beguiled. Definitely ones to watch, then.
You’re already probably familiar with the backstory on Wovenwar and their phoenix from the ashes development so I won’t labour on it again here but know this. They are the real deal. Wovenwar are just a terrific band. There is an air of expectancy about this performance and, when they arrive on stage, they are greeted like returning heroes.
For a record that has only recently dropped, everyone seems to know every word to every song and they have clearly tapped into something, and something good at that. From the taped opening of Onward through live debuts for Sight of Shore and Moving Up, Wovenwar just exude confidence, class and power and everyone seems to have realized that the band have got “it”; whatever that elusive “it” is.
Lead singer Shane Blay is a veritable bear of a man and a compelling singer, but one with humility and intelligence in abundance. But this is not a show about him, all of the band appear to be having a hugely enjoyable time. Given what they have been through, this can only be seen as something like a victory.
When the band launch into set closer Prophets the entire room goes ballistic and transforms itself into one giant circle pit and it really is a sight to behold. Someone leans over to me and says “You know, I prefer them to As I Lay Dying”.
And, after tonight, I have to agree with him. Brilliant entertainment.
Death To Rights
Sight of Shore
Matter of Time
Wovenwar is a band that should not exist, but they do. I was excited to hear what the guys from As I Lay Dying were going to do next. They have a clean slate now and can go anywhere and with this album, and they did. Their new band are a blend of the heaviness that you know from them, plus an extremely melodic commercial side not really seen before. IF you were expecting Part 2 of their old band, look elsewhere.
Once again they guys teamed up with producer Bill Stevenson and mixed by Colin Richardson, who did the last AILD album. It’s another sonic juggernaut. This album is full of catchiness, it feels like any given song could be one of those radio hits from back in the day. From the opening track ‘All Rise’, singer Shane Blay of Oh, Sleeper fame, shows you that he’s a different voice than you’d expect to hear with these guys. He has a great vocal attack that fits perfect with this ‘Profane’ and ‘Sight of Shore’. There’s a few banging vocal sections spread over this album that just crush. Jordan Mancino’s drums are really solid here on ‘Tempest’. He has this great Meshuggah flavored ending that I just love. Bassist Josh Gilbert is heard playing effortlessly on everything. He just stands out, and when he gets to toss in his vocals on tracks like ‘Matter of Time’ and ‘Prophets’ it just adds so much more dimension to Shane’s sound. There’s some mighty fine solo work all through out thanks to the guitar team of Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso. ‘Death to Rights’ & ‘Ruined Ends’ show off some pretty bad ass riffs.
I think this record is a grower. A few spins, and it all sinks in. Except ‘Moving On’ that one gets stuck in the head from first listen. I don’t know if they were purposely trying to distance themselves from their past or just organically branching out. Either way it’s a solid record that I think could have been just a little more edgey.