GUEST POST: Ghost Cult Alumni Christine Hager’s Top Ten Of 2017

 

Ghost Cult contributor and model Christine Hager has some sick tastes (in both senses of the word) in the dark and nasty sounds that infest our corner of the musical world… Continue reading

Fashion Week – Prêt-à-Porter

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Who do they think they are with that bio? Nirvana? They’ll never own enough plaid! The Ramones with that promo shot in front of the former CBGB’s with is now ironically a high-end fashion shop? Like they’d never look that cool in leather. I would have to agree with Rolling Stone’s senior editor David Fricke though, when he stated “The Ramones were the normal guys everybody loved to love,” in which I could see some parallels and ok, maybe the guitar and bass have some similarities.

This cheeky trio, Fashion Week, featuring guitarist/vocalist Josh Lozano (Jarboe, Cobalt, Family), drummer Carl Eklof (Victory at Sea, Lidia Stone, Inswarm) and bassist Oscar Albis Rodriguez (A Great Big World, No Way, Nakatomi Plaza) set forth their noisy full-length debut Prêt-à-Porter (Solar Flare Records), following up their self-released Applicator and Coextinction Release 11 with Coextiction Recordings. Though the line-up has gone through some slight changes, it’s safe to say the mood and original style has remained intact, with the recording and mixing of Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Keelhaul) and mastering of Carl Saff (Pigs, Sofy Major) ellipsing every into an even greater epic cacophony.
The album starts off with ‘Fendi Bender’ who’s lead in brings me back to 90s noise rock bands like Unsane but with a lighter tone, reflective of an externally cleaner, safer New York, who’s underbelly remains just as thorny and problematic. Sly bursts of Lozano’s raging hardcore vocals, supercharge post-hardcore melody as the guitar trails resonates with every note. Their video for it is now streaming on Metal Injection, featuring Jesse Madre of Tiger Flowers if you want to check it out.
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The third track on the album, ‘Meek is Meeznable’ pummels out catchy sludge riffs, the likes of Red Fang, scattered with raunchy distortion and melodic melodies. It’s as if Jawbox and Quicksand combined to form an amazingly chaotic yet progressive supergroup. After listening to the makings of this album about a year ago, my favourites continue to change, only proving Prêt-à-Porter continues to deliver with every listen.

‘Summer Line’ has a spacey, Failure inspired intro that makes it one of my favourites on the album, along with ‘Haute Topic’ who’s mysterious bass line I just can’t get enough of. For anyone who was a fan of 90s hardcore and noise rock, Fashion Week’s Prêt-à-Porter is a staple that should be added to your collection.

8.5/10

CHRISTINE HAGER

Karyn Crisis’ The Gospel of The Witches – Salem’s Wounds

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After speaking with Karyn Crisis back in April, regarding the beginnings of lifting this very special project of hers off the ground, it’s a beautiful thing to see it fully manifest into this unique occult masterpiece. From the countless hours spent, hand writing cards, creating original art work and hand crafted, bark and moss covered lyric books to thank her financial supporters, the dedication to this creative calling has been crafted into a powerful ghostly presence; an ode to the Tuscan Witch who brought her on this journey. Accompanying her are husband Davide Tiso (Ephel Duath,) guitarist and collaborator, Bob Vigna (guitar) and Ross Dolan (bass/backup vocals) from Immolation, Mike Hill of Tombs on vocals, Larry Burns (sounds) and Charlie Schmid (Vaura) on drums. Out on Century Media Records Karyn Crisis’ Gospel Of The WitchesSalem’s Wounds is set to be released March 24th, 2015.

 

Influenced by the elements and their omnipresence, ‘Omphalos’ approaches symbolic power in a haunting cry to the earth, seeping into the soil like to remain hidden or emerge as flame to ignite, spreading like wild fire to consume all things. “I am no one, I am nothing, I am nowhere. I am everything, I am everywhere, I am everyone,” she chants.

Back to back, tracks ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ weave the origins of the gospel of the witches together.

From a word which carries such nurturing and love, ‘Mother’ is our primordial creatrix. The goddess of the moon, Diana, is transformed into a sacrificial display of of gorgeous atmospherics and powerful growls, chased with layers of death choir backing vocals. ‘Father,’ a plea to Lucifer, god of light, emanates much brighter with it’s atmospherics, tones shimmering off of distant drum skins that hold an even tempo throughout, without lacking accession or climax, maintaining accretion of identity.

Pillars’ pulls apart the turmoil and blessings that bind us to our physical form, finding comfort in post-apocalyptic ruin. Angelic vocals battle those of conflict, which Tiso and Vigna’s guitar work weave through nicely to form my favourite track on the album.

Ending the ceremony with ‘The Ascent,’ slowly summiting into a luminous vortex of evocative melody and progressive guitar work. I’m sort of unsettled by the break near the end and feel like the ‘pitter patter of little feet’ sound effect sort of took away from the momentum and power this album held for me throughout but I suppose a little deviousness and trickery is called for from the witches. Salem’s Wounds succeeds summoning a voice, conveying the history behind paganism as well as Karyn’s own personal journey within, to discover her own gifts and allow her spirits to guide her, even when they may have had different plans.

8.0/10

CHRISTINE HAGER

Wolf Blood- Wolf Blood

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The idea that metal has lost it’s roots is nothing new. I’m sure you’ve heard it too. The complaints that metal has become way too polished and stylized these days. A sound which no layer of grit on your latest vinyl can compete with. I understand why bands do it too, but if these people would just quit their whining, they’ll realize there are plenty of talented bands out there that strive for the same dirty ascetic of their predecessors, who just happened to have limiting recording options. Take the first release from psych doom stoners, Wolf Blood from Burning World/Roadburn Records for instance.

 

Recorded at Sacred Heart by Jake Larson in Duluth MN, the band seems to be making waves in a cross section of scene, calling on the interest of outsiders from other niches. Result of hipster culture holding Wolf Blood in their filthy grasp? In this case, I say let them have it and hop on the Wolf Blood train with them. 

I was in their neighboring Wisconsin recently, and trust me, the festivals that go through there and how it’s supposedly the origin of Thrash Metal in America according to some stoner dude I met on the street (not true at all,) Minnesota they can handle a lot more metal culture inside the scene and out. 

A powerful portrait is constructed in the first track ‘Witch,’ of a vengeful woman, tied to a cross and set a blaze. Lighting the precedent for this psychedelic, pagan blend of doom, Wolf Blood let the bass groves hang low and heavy, keeping the vocals to a happy medium. The solitary instrumental track, ‘Ochro Ologo’s’ menacing force pummels it’s way forward, paving the way for ‘Black Moon,’ which contains my favourite riff of the album. When you hear it, you’ll know. That driving force is relentless. If played to a different tuning, it could have been a Razor riff. 

‘Dancing On Your Grave’ was catchy as hell and remains my favourite on the album. Brian’s bass is prominent and playful. Jake’s wavering vocals sound semi-submerged as he handles the kit masterfully. Each guitar break leaves just enough space for the the next verse to flow or your head to bang in perfect rhythmic balance.

6 tracks long and an athame blade deep, Wolf Blood’s self-titled debut will fulfill your every need for raw, honest riffage, bass heavy mystery and properly recorded drums that don’t sound like plastic over everything else. For fans of Electric Wizard, Uzala, Mala Suerte, Acid King, Dopethrone and Demon Lung, check this band out! I have high hopes for them. 

 

9/10

Wolf Blood on Facebook

 

CHRISTINE HAGER

Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss

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Tapping into their British roots and pulling strands from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motörhead, Orange Goblin’s 8th full length, Back From The Abyss (Candlelight Records) adds melodic guitar moments, roughened lyrics and driving beats to tell the listener a story, taking them under their arm like the newest member of the Hell’s Angels. Recorded in London, produced by Jamie Dodd (The Skints, One Night Only) and mastered at Turan Audio by Tim Turan, the album is refined to a roughened T. Out on October 6th, 2014 on Candlelight Records, Back from the Abyss is more of a rock & roll biker album than the metal force of their last record, A Eulogy For The Damned in 2012. Since their start in 1995, you can slowly see the accumulation of their influences, simmering into one metamorphic mixing pot to bring you this sleazy, speed filled injection.

 

Kicking off the album with ‘Sabbath Hex,’ rocking guitar hits you from the left, chasing up your groove to the brim, with the band kicking in from the right. Ben Ward’s retro, melodic vocals charm your pants off till you’re naked in the middle of your favourite rock club, swaying to the ever-changing rhythm. The centre bridge dips down in tempo, scavenging for energy to built the charge back up and storm back with a vengeance. The best part of the track is the last 35 seconds. Man, does Joe Hoare’s guitar ever wail. Smooth and bluesy, Martyn Millard’s bass injected life into the track, like a speedball never could.

 

‘Übermensch’ was a bit too far on the rock side of the stoner spectrum for me. A mid-tempo, triumphant and alcohol-fuelled manly anthem I can’t say I could relate to.

 

‘The Devil’s Whip’ snaps you into shape quick. A self-described “old school banger,” This rocking piece of rumbling momentum reminds me of the vigour I felt when I first heard Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ and it blasts through things just as quickly. A momentousus jolt of riffage, fired up from hell, with wailing guitar solos and rough, bad boy vocals.

 

Adding some psychedelia to the mix, for anyone into Acid King or Clutch, this might be the track to get you started. ‘Demon Blues’ presents the classic stoner rock persona morphed to fit today’s favourite monster. A vampire with speed in his veins and a loaded shot gun ain’t takin’ no shit. Sorry ladies but this rustic heart throb is a time bomb waiting to explode. The track’s lyrics are solid and tell an interesting tale, not to mention Joe Hoare’s solo at the end is killer.

‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ gets into a down and dirty groove that may just make James Brown rise from the grave. I feel the Hendrix in Hoare’s guitar work as vocals are lathered in whiskey. The bass keeps the groove low while the drumming is simple, yet powerful, leading the story forward into war. Just when you think the end has come, a surge flows back through their amps and their out of the gates again for another round.

 

Other notable tracks are ‘Bloodzilla’, with the intensity of a thrash band, yet matured and rough around the edges. From the speed of lightning fist pounding to the head nodding groove of a stoner outro, this track has everything you could ever ask for. ‘The Abyss’ is one that welcomes you in with caution. My favourite on the album, it adds mystique to the powerful, confident outlaw this album portrays and I can’t help but fall for the tale of such place which could draw you into the black.

 

It seems impossible for Orange Goblin to disappoint. Back from the Abyss keeps the power in your hands and a drink to your lips. As commanding as the stories they tell, any album of theirs could be a gateway drug into their world. This is a must listen stoner album for the year. Watch out for their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus starting October 9th in France.

 

8.0/10

Orange Goblin on Facebook

 

CHRISTINE HAGER

 

 

 

 

Incantation – Dirges of Elysium

 

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Long-time Pennsylvanian Metallians, Incantation, are back with their 10th full-length studio album Dirges of Elysium (Listenable Records). Though the Death Metal mood remains the same, this time around, they’ve taken to exploring the concepts of the Elysian Fields. A realm for the afterlife as originally described by Greek religious sects and cults, that held reservation for only those in relation to the gods. A place untouched by sorrow and shielded from storm. In their blasphemy, it seems, no human is fit for this luxury. The hierarchical ranks, set to determine what we deserve and the upbringing of faith through which some of us are indoctrinated has set the stage for an indignant rebellion. To tear down the walls of this incestuous Eden and expose it, void of self-righteous desires. Released on Listenable Records in June, as with their last 3 full-length albums, Incantation seems to have developed a good working relationship with these guys.

Despite family medical issues in the background, guitarist/vocalist John McEntee has managed to stay focused and on top of his game as the only original Incantation member, releasing his insanely catchy riffs and gutted, raspy vocals on ‘Dirges of Elysium’. Starting off the album with their title track, a spiral of ambient guitar work erupts from a sludge of deathly riffs. This instrumental track echoes with a ton of reverb and feedback from their cabs; rich and sizzling with anger.

Albums highlights were ‘From a Glaciate Womb’ who’s frost bitten stagger, transforms into a chaotic blizzard of ghastly double-pedal, cold, heavy bass tones and scratched up vocals shreds. It may be too repudiative for purist Death Metal fans, but the Doom goddess in me negates that sentiment. How can you deny those glorious drum fills?

‘Impalement of Divinity’, what a sacrilegious title. This track is brutal from the get-go and makes me want to headbang till my neck snaps. Kyle Severn’s pedal packs the punch of a battering ram, occasionally soothed by McEntee wailing on his guitar, rich and shimmering like liquid gold. Structurally this piece has spectacular production and on the engineering side, a good use of compression and attention to tone. Bass holds up the undertones of the guitar work on this album, despite being unneeded to showcase it’s isolated presence boldly. Sometimes a great bass player just knows when enough is enough.

With the final track, ‘Elysium (Eternity is Nigh)’, it seems like Incantation was testing us. As much as this album had been classically, there immensely catastrophic and pummeling presence, a 16:23 death/ doom track came a bit unexpectedly for most. To some, it’s been the turning point that flipped their opinion from “Shit, this is one of the best Death Metal albums of 2014.” to “Why the hell couldn’t they have edited it down? It sort of ruined it.” On the other had, I admire the band for taking a step forward into what has a bit of a Iverloch/Disembowelment vibe. Regardless whether we’ll need to agree to disagree on that one, Dirges of Elysium is definitely worth a listen by any Death Metal fan.

7.5/10

Incantation on Facebook

CHRISTINE HAGER

 

Benighted – Carnivore Sublime

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There’s a reason I’ve had this release since February and am only getting around to it now. No it’s not my lack of productivity. In truth, after listening to Benighted’s Carnivore Sublime (Season of Mist) once, I really had no desire to ever listen to it again. Other reviewers have been talking up its catchiness and how they’re forerunners in this era of new death metal, so maybe I’ve been missed something but isn’t the definition of catchy ‘instantly appealing and memorable?’ Let me repeat my previous statement “I really had no desire to ever listen to it again.”

If I could relate them to any good bands, maybe Job For a Cowboy, though Job For a Cowboy’s drumming, bass and mastery of various vocal styles is far superior. Julien Truchan of Benighted is a pretty versatile vocalist to be fair but in the context of Benighted, his potential is lost amidst mundane, predictable deathcore. The experimental introduction of industrial metal was not a wise direction either in my opinion. The most brutal track is ‘Les Morsures du Cerbère;’ the only track on the album with French lyrics, acting as a sad reminder of this bands origins, France. An association I’d like to forget, since I like to think of the French metal scene as towering above this standard.

The title track, generally, should be the pinnacle of an album. One the entire band can back, that will sell them albums and shake the earth so to speak. ‘Carnivore Sublime’ probably does have the most mainstream composition on the album, which without the vocals, at times, could easily be a tribal influenced club hit. However, it is no where near the best (if I can even use that word in this review without gagging) track on the “Carnivore Sublime.”

I relinquish the efforts of waisting my breath on this album any further and my guess is, if you liked it, you’ve abandoned this review for a more favourable one long ago. Somehow Benighted have 7 albums under their belts so there must be fans out there somewhere. I just can’t call myself one of them.

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2/10

Benighted on Facebook

 

CHRISTINE HAGER

 

Creating Your Destiny – An Interview With No Sir

no-sir_the-future-is-bright-album-cover-artWhere side projects collide, Santa Rosa hardcore punks, No Sir burst forth with blend of energetic aggression, hard coated in perpetual doom to release their latest album, The Future Is Bright. Front man Michael Bingham took the time to talk with Ghost Cult’s Christine Hager about where he grew up, the band’s influences and the secret to a successful band dynamic.

 

 

 

You’ve been compared a lot to local act such as Talk is Poison, Look Back and Laugh, Pissed Jeans etc. What would you compare yourselves to, if to anything or anyone?

There’s a ton of bands we all love that get thrown around during the writing sessions or whatnot. Mainly punk bands. Poison Idea. Minor Threat. etc. Also Pissed Jeans isn’t a local band. They’re from the East Coast.

 

How did your debut album title The Future is Bright come about and how does it relate to the content of the album? Do you consider yourself an optimist?

 

I don’t consider myself an optimist at all. I’m quite negative to be honest. The world is a cruel place… but I believe in the power of manifestation and creating your own destiny. I think the record title is me trying to manifest my future. I want it to be bright.

 

What was the reasoning behind only printing limited copies of the 12″?

There’s no reasoning behind it… It’s just the only medium we as a band are interested in producing. Its what interests us. We all collect it and we all enjoy making it.
I gather you have a really easy going band dynamic. The biggest issue I see with bands that don’t work out is too many members competing for creative control. How was it that this like minded group came to find each other?

 

We don’t have problems with creative control issues because we all respect each other. The problems with bands who are short lived is not that they’re competing with each other, but rather what a competition between people in group like this indicates, and that usually equates to non-equality based environment that isn’t built on respect… but rather one person or another trying to use that group or collective for personal gain. And anyone like that is a snake and we don’t have snakes in our crew.

 

Michael, what does it take for you to get comfortable in the studio recording vocals and how does that vary from your comfort with your talents as a singer, on stage, with the band to back you?

 

It doesn’t take much. I just remind myself I’m only able to do my best and I do that. It’s not something I stress over or second guess. I second guess myself every chance I get and I try to make sure the art I’m a part of isn’t one of those things. I don’t want to limit myself or stress myself out doing the one thing that’s supposed to take me away from my second guessing.

 

I hear The Fest is up on your roster for up coming performance dates following release of your new album. Is this a festival one you’ve attended as a musician or patron before? Any crazy stories from past experiences?

I have attended THE FEST before and had a fantastic time. No “crazy stories” or anything, but definitely had a great time. Got to see a bunch of bands I really enjoy and check out some new ones. See some friends and such… looking forward to going this year.

 

What was it about Nirvana that influenced No Sir to incorporate the grunge sounds of the Pacific Northwest into what could have been a pretty classic Bay Area sounding hardcore punk album otherwise?

I think that’s a subjective statement. I’d like to think our record sounds like a Bay Area hardcore punk record. This whole “taken influence from Nirvana” thing isn’t new. Nirvana was a great band. Obviously they changed everything. We all listen to them a great deal so its only natural that we’d take influence from them. It wasn’t a conscious decision to have some parts that sound like them, I think we’re all just big fans. That band was punk as fuck. People just called it something else.In your opinion, how did Kurt die; murder or suicide? Why?

 

I don’t have an opinion on how Kurt Cobain died.

 

What is it about California that makes you paranoid and fucks up your world, as your debut track ‘C.A.L.I.F.O.R.N.I.A.’ describes or at least personifies?

For as long as I can remember my life has been fucked. I grew up in California and it’s hectic. There’s always something to deal with. Some sort of bullshit being thrown in your face by some asshole. Always someone trying to get theirs from you. It’s a busy place… but I suppose the same could be said for any large state.


How does this vibe differ from that of other cities you’ve spent time in?

 

The vibe is just more personal for me. I know this place so I have opinions on it. I’m sure if I grew up in New York I’d be singing the same tune. But for me, California is home and it’s the place I blame my troubles on.

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No Sir on Facebook

Christine Hager