Carcass didn’t invent death metal, but they helped perfect it. The didn’t ascend to the pantheon of the death and goregrind genres overnight either. Their earlier work, especially their debut Reek of Putrefaction, Symphonies of Sickness, and Tools of The Trade and a few EP’s were all growers. The band had a penchant of shifting genres and styles within songs and albums, owing to their talent, but displeasing some of the more ardent fans. They likely didn’t think about this or even discuss it, just musically going wherever the evil spirits guided at the time. This kept their growing fan base agitated, but interested to see what the band would do next in the burgeoning underground scene. So when Heartwork was unleashed on the world (Earache) in 1993, it seemed like all of these elements coalesced. Continue reading
On March 25th Machine Head’s impeccable second album The More Things Change… (Roadrunner) turned 20 years old. Released at a time when thrash was struggling, and hardcore metal bands were mostly in a time of transition, they dropped this bombshell of heaviness and rage that cemented their legacy as one of the leaders of American Metal that they hold to this day. Continue reading
To celebrate the release of the awesome 11 album, 13 CD boxset of HistoriKill (via Nuclear Blast), that details the OverKill musical story from 1995 to 2007, Ghost Cult lit the touch paper, stepped back and let live-wire New Jersey chat-meister Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth do the talking…
On doing it for 35 years…
It’s become quite a ride! I guess I’m in forever now. But isn’t that the beauty of it? It never was a plan. It’s all just happened; finding a great working partner, having a great work ethic and continuously re-inventing ourselves as the world and the music industry crumbled around us. And somewhere in there’s the truth. If you can reinvent and embrace technology and changes, you have the opportunity to keep moving forward.
On I Hear Black and W.F.O (both Atlantic), the last albums before HistoriKill
I can’t tell you what I was thinking back then, but I can tell you for sure there was no record company pressure to change sound; that never existed for us. I think what happened is DD and I wrote Horrorscope, and that was the quintessential thrash record for us. We started understanding groove but without losing our identity. We had 2 new members, Merrit Gant and Rob Cannavino, for Horrorscope, whereas prior to that we had Bobby Gustafson writing. After Horrorscope, the two new guys said to us “If you want us in the band, we have to write music” and DD said, “OK, I’ll give that a shot”. But he had a hard time writing with these younger guys, who were thinking more in terms of what was happening at the time, the grunge, the rock scene. For sure there’s thrash on there, but the thrash numbers are DD’s songs.. So, we had a mix of the new meets the old, but we didn’t see the direction the record was going in until it was done. And still to this day I like I Hear Black, it’s just probably the one album that’s a departure from our path.
It’s multi-faceted to do this for so long – it’s not just sitting in the basement playing guitar, chain smoking and wondering why people don’t appreciate my genius! It’s obviously a business too. You’re in a band because you want to be in a band; you want to run through walls, knock through them, make some noise, with some people that you respect, admire and, to some degree love. But the other side is a business. And we started taking that over right post-W.F.O. and we became a self-managed band. We were forced into the underground a little more so by the grunge scene, so, and I don’t know if it’s genius or not, but we realised that licensing would be our future and we started licencing and taking a little less money so as not to let the labels own those records in perpetuity.
On “The Dark Days Of Metal”
When we started hooking up with Nuclear Blast, who are guys in fucking Exodus T-shirts, they know what’s fucking going on, so we said, “Hey, if we do worldwide with you, would you be interested in a package?” We wanted to call it “The Dark Days of Metal”. And they said absolutely. And these were the albums that got the least amount of light shined upon them. I don’t know if we knew it was smart move about the licensing, but it turned out to be, so we had this whole block of a period of time when metal was less popular where now we can introduce it to this whole new audience of whippersnappers that exists now who are wearing the uniform of white hi-tops and patches on denim jackets. They can know there was some solid releases in the late 90’s because we decided to not go home and work for Mommy and Daddy.
On Knowing Where He’s Been
It’s a great opportunity to even have the HistoriKill stuff and to introduce new people to it. It’s not so much for the people who were there at the time, but for those who are now fans who want that 11 CD history of us that only time can give you. To be relevant in 2015, I have know where I’ve come from to know where I am, and HistoriKill is part of that for sure.
On the standout moments of HistoriKill
As you can tell, I’m pretty good with remembering our past. One of my favourite records is From the Underground and Below. We had Colin Richardson come in and mix it. He was state of the art, in demand at the time. I remember picking him up at the airport, then we went to the studio in Conneticut. He was listening with the engineer, and we could see him through the glass. So, I see him listening to ‘Long Time Dyin’ and he’s doing the Pete Townshend guitar wheel while he’s standing on a fucking chair!
I said to DD “We’ve either made the best decision of our lives, or we’re fucked!” …and he helped turn that record into a gem for me. It’s one of my favourite Overkill records of all time. It’s cohesive. When I was a kid, when I put on Volume 4 (Vertigo), I never took the needle off until the record was done. That to me is a gauge of success. And it’s the way I think of Underground; a cohesive whole.
I remember going through some personal issue shit at the time of Necroshine that was like a 1, 2 to the stomach and then a 1, 2 to the jaw and I honestly didn’t think I was going to get off the canvas. I was waiting to get some results on some tests and it was a coin toss at the time how it’d go. In any case, I have a great relationship with DD and he was in touch continuously. I remember he called me when I was waiting for results, and he goes “Hey man, you need me to write you a cheque? You need me to come up, you need me to hold your hand or you need me take care of your family, tell me what you need, I’ll do it” but I knew what I needed was to get my mind off this shit. So I said “DD, I could use a song.” And he sat and did it, and three days later I had the rough musical demo to ‘Necroshine’ in my mailbox. I then remember writing it over this two week waiting period and I’ll never forget the song. It got me through the other side. I might be an abstract lyricist, and not tell you what this song or that song is about, but that song got me through that period and to this point in my life. It was a jumping off point because it gave me the opportunity to understand it’s not about the problem, it’s about getting through the fucking problem at all costs. It was a great lesson, but also a song that will remain the top Overkill song I ever wrote. It was life changing for me.
On his Health
It’s good. I mean, I walk around with that attitude that I’m bullet proof. Obviously I’ve caught a few shells here and there though! But I still think of myself as bullet proof, and that’s the way you should present yourself. You get one shot at this. I’m not going to sit here and worry about touring, or this or that… it’s just due diligence and fucking move forward man. I’m doing well and looking forward to getting on it all again!
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
Bullet For My Valentine is streaming the first single “No Way Out” from their fifth studio album Venom on August 14, 2015 via RCA Records. The album was produced by Carl Bown and Colin Richardson (Slipknot, Machine Head, Trivium) at Metropolis Studio in London.
Venom track listing:
02: No Way Out
03: Army of Noise
05: You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)
08: Harder the Heart
10: Hell or High Water
Deluxe edition also includes:
12. Playing God
13. Run For Your Life
14. In Loving Memory
15. Raising Hell
The band has announced upcoming South American tour dates as well as their North American tour with Slipknot, Lamb Of God and Motionless In White.
Jul 08: Opiniao – Alegre (BRA) (w/Motionless In White)
Jul 10: Vanilla Music Hall – Curitiba (BRA) (w/Motionless In White)
Jul 11: Via Marques – Sao Paulo (BRA) (w/Motionless In White)
Jul 12: Circo Voador – Rio De Janeiro (BRA) (w/Motionless In White)
Jul 14: Groove – Buenos Aires (ARG) (w/Motionless In White)
Jul 16: Teatro Cariola – Santiago (CHL) (w/Motionless In White)
Jul 18: Downtown Majestic – Bogota (COL) (w/Motionless In White)
Jul 24: Coral Sky Amphitheatre – West Palm Beach, FL (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Jul 25: Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre – Tampa, FL (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Jul 26: Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood – Atlanta, GA (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Jul 28: DTE Energy Music Theatre – Clarkston, MI (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Jul 29: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center – Darien Center, NY (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Jul 31: Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 01: Nikon at Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, NY (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 02: Xfinity Theatre – Hartford, CT (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 04: Zfinity Center – Mansfield, MA (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 05: PNC Bank Art Center – Holmdel, NJ (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 06: First Niagara Pavilion – Burgettstown, PA (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 08: Molson Canadian Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 09: Heavy MTL – Montreal, QC
Aug 11: Jiffy Lube Live – Bristow, VA (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 12: Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach, VA (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 14: Klipsch Music Center – Noblesville, IN (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 15: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre – Tinley Park, IL (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 16: Hollywood Amphitheatre – St. Louis, MO (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 19: Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 21: USANA Amphitheatre – West Valley City, UT (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 24: Rogers Arena – Vancouver, BC (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 26: Concord Pavilion – Concord, CA (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 28: MGM Resort Festival Lot – Las Vegas, NV (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 29: Ak-Chin Pavilion – Phoenix, AZ (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Aug 30: Isleta Amphitheater – Albuquerque, NM (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Sept 02: Austin 360 Amphitheater – Austin, TX (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Sep 04: Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – The Woodlands, TX (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Sep 05: Gexa Energy Pavilion – Dallas, TX (w/Slipknot, Lamb of God)
Sep 28: Ulster Hall – Belfast (IRE)
Sep 29: Olympia – Dublin (IRE)
Oct 01: Bournemouth – Academy (UK)
Oct 02: Reading – Hexagon (UK)
Oct 03: Guildford – G Live (UK)
Oct 05: Aylesbury – Waterside (UK)
Oct 06: Stoke – Victoria Hall (UK)
Oct 07: Lincoln – Engine Shed (UK)
Oct 09: York – Barbican (UK)
Oct 10: Aberdeen – Music Hall (UK)
Oct 11: Dunfermline – Alhambra (UK)
Oct 13: Middlesbrough – Empire (UK)
Oct 14: Carlisle – Sands (UK)
Oct 16: Leicester – Academy (UK)
Oct 17: Bexhill – De La Warr Pavilion (UK)
Oct 18: Folkestone – Leas Cliff Hall (UK)
Oct 20: Swansea – Brangwyn Hall (UK)
Oct 21: Southampton – Guildhall (UK)
Oct 22: Ipswich – Regent Corn Exchange (UK)
Bullet For My Valentine have posted a teaser for their forthcoming fifth album, due out this summer. The album is produced by Colin Richardson (Carcass, Fear Factory, Machine Head) and producer/engineer Carl Bown.
Much like some stretched and requiring-a-suspension-of-disbelief set of circumstances in ‘Swords and Sorcery’ Fantasy films that bring about the fulfilment of the prophecy of the chosen one(s), so every now and then in the rock and metal world it is exactly the right time for the right band to make “the right record” and catapult themselves not just several rungs up the ladder, but crashing through the glass ceiling to establish themselves as the major players in the scene. Trivium did it with Ascendancy, Killswitch Engage did it with Alive or Just Breathing (both Roadrunner) and now While She Sleeps have done it with Brainwashed (Search and Destroy).
Not just the album they “needed” to make, like The Black Album (Vertigo) was the culmination and definition of heavy metal and the birth of “new” metal, so Brainwashed is the defining statement of what “modern/metallic hardcore” actually is. Throughout the forty-five minutes on display, While She Sleeps destroy any connotation that the genre is creatively redundant as ‘New World Torture’ seethes and slams before opening up, paving the way for a vibrant title track that ends in savage thrashery before ‘Our Legacy’ and its gang vocals and melodic leads provide an alternative anthem.
And “anthem” is the right word to describe damn near every track on display, as each song takes on that larger than life feel and you can already picture packed festival fields baying, swirling and shouting every word of songs like ‘No Sides, No Enemies’. In an album packed full modern hymns, ‘Four Walls’ manages to stand even taller, a song more than worthy of carrying the band to the next level and heading rock channel playlists for years to come. ‘Life In Tension’ is another highlight, rattling along, before hitting a half-time call to arms; one that will ignite live performances with massive pits and a sea of arms and voices aloft, before its melodic guitar lead spirals and wah’s off into arena filling glory.
Considering the genres have been smooshed together for over a decade, Brainwashed is the perfect combination of metal and hardcore, and the Sleeps deserve credit for not cutting their nose off to spite their faces and actively encouraging catchiness in the right places. Alongside that Brainwashed has all those clever touches the truly great albums have, little guitar licks, drum inflections that enhance grooves and an excellent thick, warm production that captures and reflects the energy of a band on creative fire, rather than stifling (and it’s no surprise to see the name of the legendary Colin Richardson among the credits).
Vocalist “Loz” Taylor has overcome serious throat surgery to produce the ideal modern hardcore performance – aggressive in the shouts, versatile in vocal, and melodic and tuneful when required, without losing intensity, and projecting a credible emotion that you can believe in. These aren’t empty songs; from the rising chatter of opener ‘The Divide’ to the dying strains of ‘Modern Minds’, this is an album that matters both to its protagonists and to its fans.
And ultimately that is key. Not only is Brainwashed a collection of excellent modern heavy songs, but it is dripping with conviction; more than just an assembly of songs, it delivers and is a real album, connecting on a level that so few do. The hardcore attitude that is often missing from the bigger albums these days is vibrantly present as While She Sleeps take their roots from metal, from Machine Head, from hardcore, from artists like Funeral For A Friend, and from the best bands of the last twenty years, to produce an album that stands not just as a genre marker for others to be measured by, but as a statement of intent and a challenge to their peers.
For the bar has now well and truly been raised.
Forget the arguments and discussions about who the next Metallica will be, about who will be the next festival headliner, because right here, right now, is the right band with the right album at the right time to be not just the future, but the now.
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.
In what has already been a banner year from Nuclear Blast Entertainment, the label has announced that Machine Head’s highly-anticipated new album will be called Bloodstone & Diamonds and release this fall. Produced by Robb Flynn and the band’s house co-producer Juan Urteaga, will be mixed by perennial MH cohort Colin Richardson (Carcass, Fear Factory, Slipknot,Behemoth, Devildriver). Additional tracking, editing, and mixing was done with heavy metal legend Andy Sneap (Exodus,Testament, Arch Enemy, Accept, Megadeth) and Steve Lagudi.
Heirs to the throne of Bay Area Thrash and arguably the best modern American metal band right now, Bloodstone & Diamonds is the follow-up to the commerical success of Unto The Locust (2011), and landmarks of modern metal The Blackening (2007) and Through The Ashes of Empires (2003). Flynn is the sole remaining founding member of the band he formed in 1992, after he left third-wave Bay Area thrash rebels Vio-lence, after early turns in the formation of Forbidden (then known as Forbidden Evil) and Defiance.
Never short on words, Robb Flynn comments:
“I cannot even begin to tell you how proud we are of this album,” comments frontman Robb Flynn. “It’s been a heck of a ride. It looked like it might not ever happen again at one point, but man, this album is a milestone for us. You’re going to love it HeadCases.”
“Without getting too philosophical on ya, bloodstone and diamonds represent two of the hardest materials on earth, it is also a lyric from the opening track of the album ‘Now We Die’. In many cultures the bloodstone has been used as an amulet to protect against evil, and is the symbol of justice. Diamonds and are hardest natural material on earth (which is how we feel about our music), and it also represents the diamond logo I drew 22 years ago (in my wife’s apartment on Dover St. in Oakland) that has become the symbol for the band.”
Bloodstone & Diamonds track listing:
1. Now We Die
2. Killers & Kings
3. Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones
4. Night Of Long Knives
5. Sail Into The Black
6. Eyes Of The Dead
7. Beneath The Silt
8. In Comes The Flood
9. Damage Inside
10. Game Over
11. Imaginal Cells (instrumental)
12. Take Me Through The Fire
“10 songs, an interlude, and an instrumental with an audio collage of spoken word snippets (think ‘Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies’) by Dr. Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman, taken from their (incredibly inspiring) audiobook Spontaneous Evolution.
“Guest musicians include 2 different string quartets featuring the original Quartet Rouge that appeared on our last album Unto The Locust. And a new all-male quartet which we featured on the song ‘In Comes The Flood’.”
“String arrangements for 2 of the songs ‘Now We Die’ and ‘Sail Into The Black’ came courtesy of myself and Rhys Fulber who has worked with everyone from Sarah McLachlan, to Fear Factory, and the string arrangement for ‘In Comes The Flood’ came courtesy of myself and ex-Worship and current-Bring Me The Horizon keyboardist Jordan Fish, who is a producer in his own right.”
“We worked with several artists to complete the 28 page (!) ‘standard’ CD booklet, as well as the 48 page (!) hardcover leather-bound Media-book that will serve as the special edition, including Rafal Wechterowicz, Marcelo Vasco, and long-time Machine Head art-collaborator Strephon Taylor. The theme was to have both CD and hardcover Mediabook look like an old Alchemy book from the 1800’s, with weathered edges, sepia toned pages, and magic / masonic / alchemy themed woodcarvings throughout.”
Bloodstone & Diamonds mediabook edition:
Lyric Sheet Sample:
Make sure to catch Machine Head on the road this fall with Children of Bodom, Epica, and Battlecross.
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