As we have been saying Charlie Benante has been killing it in quarantine, teaming up with many of his famous metal musician friends to play covers from quarantine. Now he has again reteamed with featuring Mike Patton (Faith No More, Dead Cross, Mr. Bungle) and they have done their classic song ‘Speak English or Die’, recast as ‘Speak Spanish or Die’. Mr. Bungle, fronted by Patton, played the song on tour this February. Last month S.O.D., which includes Benante, his Anthrax bandmate Scott Ian, and Dan Lilker, teamed up for renditions of ‘March Of The S.O.D.’ and ‘Chromatic Death’. Patton makes an appearance in the accompanying video as “The Lonely Rager,” complete with a cowboy hat and bandana mask. Watch it now!
Tronos is a side-project born of many late-night conversations between the two of the more prolific creative forces in underground metal, Napalm Death legend Shane Embury and legendary producer Russ Russell. Joining them is the equally talented Dirk Verbeuren on drums, Billy Gould, Troy Sanders and Dan Lilker on bass and vocals by Snake from Voivod – there’s no shortage of talent on display here. Continue reading
Like spaghetti bolognese, it is hard to dislike Nuclear Assault, a thrash metal band who released a three well regarded albums in the mid-to-late 80’s, before internal combustion and some lesser offerings. Like spag bol, they were no nonsense, popular and easy to digest to the taste buds of all who liked their metal fast and thrashy. However, to over-extend the metaphor to the length of a string of tagliatelle, they weren’t as flavourful or complete as others, lacking the depth of ingredients in comparison to their contemporaries, and it’s very unlikely many would call NA their favourite dish.
Since announcing his impending retirement from live playing Dan Lilker has been a machine, blurring (sic) at the pace of his picking hand, bringing each of his projects to a concluding fruition, which has included the Lazarus act being applied to Nuclear Assault once again. Setting out to intentionally write “four killer old-school thrash songs”, the Pounder EP (Sidipus) is the band ramping up to a “Final Assault” tour and album in the second half of the year.
Achieving the majority of their pre-conceived idea, they have written four old-school thrash songs (well, three, and one, ‘Died In Your Arms’, that sounds as if Alan Averill was wailing along to a Metal Church outtake but not able to hear himself through noise-reducing headphones), though they’ve failed to live up to the “Killer” part of that promise. With what could kind-heartedly be called a “raw” lo-fi and DIY production, Pounder displays uncultured punky, chromatic thrash, a dearth of songwriting ideas and John Connolly’s once distinctive yelp having clearly seen better days.
One hopes this is merely the itching to get out of the blocks, let’s get something out there, false-start that serves as a irrelevant pre-cursor to a gold medal winning final sprint, but the portents don’t look promising for the final assault to do anything other than flounder and perish meekly.
Hailing from the New York grind scene can be a challenge for any band. With such a prestigious history of bands the bar is set high for any new acts pushing out of the local scene. Blurring are a band with a difference however as, behind the awkward, uncomfortable mass of noise are the brains behind one of the most influential grind bands of the last 25 years.
Brutal Truth may no longer be sullying stages around the world, but that certainly hasn’t stopped bassist Dan Lilker. Joined by ex-Kalibas guitarists Scott D’Agostino and Matt Colbert and drummer Eric Burke who not only boasts appearances in both of those bands, but also appears as a guitarist in Nuclear Assault and Lethargy, Blurring are already name dropping their way as a serious player.
The only member of this super group that cannot boast a lengthy resume is vocalist Mark Weldin, however what he lacks on the CV, he more than makes up for in performance. Harsh and unrelenting, Weldin’s vocals sound like a man stabbed repeatedly in the throat. No relief can be found in the music either, as ‘Like Wolves’ backs it ups with a dizzying, churning sound only broken by aggressive blasting. ‘Terminus and the Flame’ has menacing undertones at awkward backing chords clash against lead while sole instrumental track ‘Rape Van’, sees a slow uncomfortable drag through 2 minutes of unsettling sounds that, unlike the real van provides a deliciously slow and addictive contradiction to the rest of the album.
Blurring perform the difficult task of taking every element they could think of to repel the listener on this self-titled (Handshake Inc.) début, but rather than adding it in small bite sized chunks, the whole album is a mass of chaotic sound that seems to barely hold itself together. The result is a depraved, uncomfortable half hour of black grind that somehow keeps you clawing back for another listen time and time again.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are, apparently, at war. Not the sort of war that has been on your television news broadcasts, but with technology and appliances the world over. So say the slightly crazed minds of the creators behind Killer Refrigerator. The Fridge And The Power It Holds (Independent/self-released) is KR’s second album of scatalogical humour set to an old school death and thrash metal soundtrack that is every bit as bonkers as you might have already begun to suspect.
Kicking off with ‘Terrorvision’, I had a mental image of black drainpipe jeans, white high tops and old Stormtroopers of Death t-shirts as the band dive headlong into an absurd, whirligig of frenetic thrash metal and punky vocals . We move into more mid-tempo classic thrash territory of ‘Slaystation’ which is eerily like early period Nuclear Assault and no bad thing in my mind. ‘Shower Thrashing Death’ is two minutes of aural stupidity but I mean that warmly. Let’s be fair, any band that calls a song ‘Shower Thrashing Death’ and has a lyric that proclaims the coming of the “toilet gods” and how we will all “bow down to the toiletries!” is not exactly taking itself too seriously. And neither should we.
There’s an echo of Kerry King running through ‘Slave to the Easy Bake’ and a bassline that Dan Lilker would have been proud to call his own. On the title track, it’s totally apparent that this band have a complete love of thrash and death metal that despite the obviously stupid nature of all of this, it’s done with a large degree of love and affection.
In much the same way that Evil Scarecrow have appropriated and twisted the black metal genre then so Killer Refrigerator have taken old school thrash, horror tropes and high school humour and created a small part of the musical universe that is uniquely theirs. It’s unequivocally lightweight and a bit samey in parts: there is only one joke here and whilst it’s amusing enough, you can’t possibly keep on telling it without it wearing a little bit thin. There’s a level of inevitability about that but whilst it’s here, the band are smart enough not to outstay their welcome.
Fresh, stupid, silliness.
My first encounter with Danny Lilker was 27 years ago. Relatively new to thrash metal, I bought Nuclear Assault’s The Plague and that clanking bommm, buh-buh bommmmm of the bass and striking image of a gangling mass of black curly hair stirred me to investigate more. Though he blazed a different trail than mine over the next 25 years, it amazes me upon reading Dave Hofer’s in-depth biography from Handshake Inc. how many times those trails crossed. Death, blackened doom, electronic metal…all twisted and perfected by the constantly low-fi, yet always curious and inventive Lilker.
Hofer paints his subject with warmth, familiarity, and honesty. Having ‘roadied’ for Brutal Truth in 2007 he swiftly became friends with Lilker, and has spent the last six years interviewing and researching for these 160 pages. That warmth is translated into the style of the book, loosely peppered with scrapbook-style photo insertions and dialogue consisting almost entirely of interview transcripts from Danny and many of the people he has encountered down the years.
Lilker’s words veer from self-deprecating – ‘I’m a slavic mutt’, he asserts almost from the off when discussing his Polish / Ukrainian ancestry – to remarkably laid back: even when discussing the tragic downfall of his beloved elder sister Barbara, an influence on his musical direction and lost to drugs when Lilker was just eleven. It was Barbara who introduced him to his lifelong love of ‘pot’, a recurring theme throughout the book and a road seemingly travelling parallel to his love of and devotion to creating music. Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp sums up his first meeting with Lilker thus: ‘The first time I met him, he said it was “Nice to meet me”, then said, “I have some pot. Want to smoke it?”. That was about the extent of it.’ His memory, though, is undimmed, recalling all manner of musical detail such as how the drum sound on the first Brutal Truth album was achieved, and how his arm was a bloody mess through chafing against his bass during those sessions. Every band he’s had an involvement with, even for one live gig or a day in the production booth, gets a name-check: it’s a phenomenal quality that displays his love of what he does.
The near-unswerving reliance on pure interview material becomes a little dry as the book progresses, and the intermittent flood of ‘picture pages’, containing often unnecessary images such as every Brutal Truth record cover under the sun, do break up the occasional monotony. It does, however, allow Dan and the people who know him to paint a picture we’d kind of expect. His likeability despite a laconic bluntness; his breakneck levels of creativity; his need to play music; all fondly recalled by all contributors just as myriad anecdotes affirm his legendary status. The ‘metal comedian’ Steve Hughes calls Lilker ‘…the Yoda of the metal underground’, whilst Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway refers to him as ‘Just a music sponge’. Cadaver’s Anders Oddington recalls how he was assisted in a crowd surge at Roskilde by Lilker; and Immolation’s Ross Dolan talks with reverence about Dan’s navigational skills, referring to him as a ‘Road map’.
Whilst not the easiest read there’s an undeniable attraction in such a wealth of information, opinion, humour and love for one of metal’s most prolific, influential and hard-working characters. The history of extreme metal oozes from every page and, for that reason alone, it’s something that all underground rats will devour.