New Jersey industrial metallers Face Without Fear have released a lyric video for their first single, ‘Deliverance’. Formed in 2017 by former Static-X, Dope and Murderdolls guitarist Tripp Eisen, the band has a throwback sound to all the great late 1990s, early 2000s industrial metal scene. The band is rounded out by lead vocalist/guitarist Kenny “Mantis” Hoyt (Crushpile), and drummer T.J. Cooke (Methodical), both of and, and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Dante. Watch the clip here. Continue reading
Corrosion of Conformity has announced a European tour to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their classic Deliverance album in 2019. All dates below are on sale now. The band released their latest album, No Cross, No Crown via Nuclear Blast Records in 2017. Continue reading
Radio City Music Hall is one of the most historic venues in all of New York City. Located in Rockefeller Center, the 6,000 capacity venue has held concerts for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and BB King, but last night Opeth took to the famous stage, and absolutely mesmerized all those in attendance with over two hours of music. Continue reading
“Welcome home” is the opening lyric of for Heart Of A Coward‘s monstrous new album (my pick for Album of the Year, by the way), Deliverance (Century Media). And it’s properly apt for tonight’s gig at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston. Seeing bands of tonight’s calibre in a space smaller than many toilets redefines the concept of an intimate gig. The close quarters with the bands coupled with virtually flawless sound have made this place my new favourite venue.
Starting tonight’s proceedings are a hardcore crew from Dublin by the name of Red Enemy, and very nice they are too. Space limitations in the open cupboard that passes for a stage exiled vocalist Kevin “Lefty” Letford to the pit, a state of affairs that can intimidate some frontmen, but this fellow was more than up to the task, spitting his venom directly into the faces of an eager crowd. Classic hardcore.
Next up was (for me) the surprise of the evening, a group of Scouse djentlemen going by the name of Carcer City. With a rare mix of endearing humility and huge sackfuls of charisma, these chaps delivered a headline-worthy set of precise, atmospheric and above all meaty djent metalcore played with delightful abandon. Comfortably one of the best support acts I’ve ever seen, these guys are ideal tour buddies for HOAC, being similar enough to sell to the same crowd, yet different enough to stand alongside rather than in the shadow. Their 2011 album – The Road Diaries – is available on their website for free. Get it, love it and buy merch.
Changeover consolidated the sense of intimacy, with band members threading back and forth through the crowd (backstage is effectively outside, and no space for a crew of roadies) that let them get about it, rather than hassling for selfies. This didn’t feel like a roomful of punters watching transcendent idols – it had the community spirit of a tight group of local bands playing in a room full of their mates.
All comparisons with “local bands” are off, however, once HOAC take the stage. Opening with a pitch-perfect rendition of ‘Hollow’, the headliners delivered a world-class performance that equals anything I’ve seen from the likes of Lamb of God, Devildriver, Machine Head or Killswitch et al.
Jamie Graham‘s vocals are absolutely (almost Randy Blythe levels of) brutal live. His growls are throatier than on record, losing no power through the course of the hour-long set, whilst his clean and semi-clean notes were on the money and lost none of their expression and impact. The frankly astonishing PA preserved more sound clarity of Carl & Steve‘s guitars than is decent, whilst Vishal‘s bass sound must’ve been felt in Surbiton. By rights, Chris‘ drums should have sounded like biscuit tins with the kit being in what’s effectively a sound box, but it seems The Fighting Cocks sourced their PA in Daigon Alley, as there was no sound engineering going on this evening – this was pure sonic sorcery.
A titanic Deliverance-heavy set (‘Turmoil’ I & II, ‘Anti-Life’, ‘Mouth of Madness’ and ‘Skeletal I’ all made an appearance) left an ecstatic crowd stunned, sweaty and in no doubt they’d seen one of the best gigs of their lives. It certainly was one of mine.
Go and see all three of these bands as soon and as often as possible.
WORDS BY PHILIP PAGE
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What year is it again? A new Star Wars movie is about two months away, Iron Maiden has a brand new album out that rules, The Muppet Show has new episodes on TV each week and other amazingness is happening. Somebody pinch me! Or don’t, because I don’t want to wake up if this is a dream. And for the kicker, Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity, frequent touring partners for the last 25 years are out on the road together once again. Playing blistering sets each night for droves of fans, neither band competes with the other. Instead they live in their own bubbles of genre defining greatness. C.O.C., now rejoined by Pepper Keenan (Down), are rejuvenated by going down memory lane for a set consisting of songs from classic 90s albums such as Deliverance and Wiseblood (both Columbia). Although they occasionally toss in an 80s crossover classic, one hopes the band hasn’t abandoned its fruitful “COC trio” work they have been doing the last few years completely. Writing for a new COC album is ongoing and a release is expected sometime in 2016. In the meantime Clutch is just crushing on the strength of their bold new album Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker). Led by the indomitable Neil Fallon, the band has mined this new album heavily live, as well as the classics that have made Clutch one of the premier American heavy rock bands going. Captured tonight by Evil Robb Photography at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire, you have one of the strongest bills of no compromise rock and metal heard anywhere this fall.
Now then. Every once in a while, you find an album where the first track gives you a stupid shit-eating grin because you just know the whole album’s going to kick your ass. Deliverance (Century Media) by Heart Of A Coward is one of those. Writing this review is a bit like trying to make conversation with a devastatingly attractive woman – all I could initially think of to write about each song was “Fucking Brilliant”.
The greatest thing about the djent “genre” is the huge diversity of influences and styles across the different bands. The potential for originality and excellence in such fertile ground is vast – the scene is a passionate community, has already bred a wide cadre of noteworthy bands and boasts its own labels, producers, websites and festivals.
Heart of a Coward are a fairly recent band on the scene, having formed in 2009, and, with the likes of Periphery and Animals as Leaders, are among the second generation of djent acts delivering on the rich promise of the genre. Taking the djent tropes as a given, there’s a plethora of high-grade influences evident in the mix – from Fear Factory crunch to Strapping Young Lad noisescapes through Lamb of God grooves and Killswitch Engage energy with Deftones breaks and Soilwork shout-a-longs. The real achievement of all this, however, is the fact that it’s realised without sounding fragmented or derivative. The different elements all coalesce into a cohesive sound that’s original, distinctive and incredibly full-on.
This is the Milton Keynes noisemongers’ third album, and it’s an absolute pearler. It’s different in tone to their last outing – Severance (Century Media) – darker, fewer atmospherics, more aggressive and only a dash of clean vocals. This one’s less about the story and drama and more straight-ahead moshbait pitched perfectly to destroy any venue that dares to have them on the bill. We start with ‘Hollow’, which has you wishing for a mosh pit before the first bar is done; a blistering statement of intent that leaves you with absolutely no doubt as to what’s to come, ‘Miscreation’ is up next, and is basically one long beatdown interspersed with soaring screamalong vocals. ‘Turmoil I – Wolves’ is a masterpiece of metalcore chug with shades of Killswitch, following into ‘Turmoil II – The Weak Inherit The Earth’ which sounds like early Chimaira injected with a heavy dose of groove.
‘Anti-Life’ and ‘Grain of Sand’ are triumphs of production, successfully replicating Devin Townsend‘s “Wall of Sound” to crushing effect. Absolutely superb before ‘Mouth Of Madness’ slows things down a touch with a Slipknot-esque opening and a chorus that features the first appearance of clean vocals on the album. ‘Deliverance’ is the most outwardly djent entry on the line-up and the song that most closely resembles their prior work. It would be wrong to call ‘Skeletal I – Mourning Repairs’ a slow song, but it’s an immersive, soulful number that’s up there with Filter or Porcupine Tree for heavy shoegazing. ‘Skeletal II – Arise’ follows straight on as an extended outtro and a melancholy end to the album.
In summary, Deliverance is a stunning piece of work that can only be criticised for coming to an end.
More of this please lads.
“There was one conscious decision when it came to this album, and that was to have a bit more pace in there. Once we started playing the Severance stuff live, we sped a few songs up and they sounded way better. We sound our best when there’s a bit more urgency. Then, when it came to recording, we wanted to recreate the live sound as much as possible with natural, organic sounds, with everything properly recorded.”
Jamie Graham sounds slightly worn at the end of a long day of press, promoting the new Heart of a Coward album, Deliverance (Century Media), but there’s no mistaking the glint in his voice when discussing their new release. Because he knows. Part tech-metal, part groove armada, HOAC have taken the slicker, yet oh-so-malevolent approach of Severance (also Century Media) and worked hard on their song writing to produce this years’ sleeper for UK metal’s breakthrough album. He knows Deliverance is a bit special.
“You can’t just play constant ragers for 50 minutes; people want dynamics. But we’re getting to a balance where we don’t have any songs that are there just to make the time up”, he begins, moving on to discuss the flesh of the new offering. And it is a body of work that sees some impressive vocal output from the man himself, with attention in the detail of the different tones of his more aggressive shouts and the nuances and delivery of his cleans, a performance that upped the ante for Graham. “Yeah, it’s tough! I’m not going to lie! Since we’ve started playing the new songs I’m like… Fuck! It’s hard!”
If anything, the laughter that accompanies that comment betrays modesty, for Graham has always delivered as a vocalist. This time around, though, he shines, leading a slew of new metal anthems that should see HOAC truly establishing themselves. “I had that feeling when we did Severance as well. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, to be honest. As soon as you’re setting be all and end all goals, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Hopefully people will appreciate the album, and forward it on, talk about it, or whatever the kids do these days, and the album itself will do the rest.”
While not a concept album, Severance linked itself to a reoccurring theme; Deliverance (continuing the train of album titles ending with ance – “Haha, yes! Well, after the last one came out we thought, why don’t we make this next one the last of set?”) also returns at key moments to motifs and similar notions: “to an aftermath, or a result of something, whether a conflict, or struggle, or endeavour. Most of the songs are about fulfilling something – hence the title. The last record was more about breaking away from things that were holding you back. There’s definitely a cohesiveness between our album titles and themes, but there’s not a story across them.”
Heart of a Coward may seem a relatively new name, but since adding guitarist Steve Haycock and former Sylosis vocalist Graham in 2011, this British quintet have been very much in the ascendancy. If 2013’s Severance saw a refinement from bluster, and a band of raw promise, to a genuine contender to the UK metal throne, then Deliverance should, by rights, see them being fitted with ermine robes and bejewelled, pointy head gear.
“It doesn’t feel like it to us, but a lot of people still perceive us as a new band” Graham confirms. Album three is a tricky place to be for a line-up that is only four years old; but four years that have now seen three increasingly excellent albums. “It works in our favour as we’ve been around the block and fully road-tested, so someone coming to check us out won’t need a second time to be convinced. At the same time, there’s no excuse for complacency. We know we have to put the work in and we do the best we can.”
With convincing recent performances under their belt at both Download and Techfest, one of the questions to be asked is, where do Heart of a Coward fit in? “It’s pit music that has hooks and choruses” states Graham. With his band appealing to different audiences, Deliverance sees further development of a more song-based progression. While this will appeal to the more centre ground, is there a concern of leaving their Tech Metal fanbase behind?
“We’ll always have enough technicality to appeal to the tech fans, but we’re a simpler equivalent” explains the frontman. “I’m not worried about that at all. You’ve got your Born of Osiris and Periphery’s and they do their thing and have a lot of bands trying to copy that, but that can’t do it as well (as they do). We do take a portion of that sound, but then mix it with a Killswitch vibe, and with a touch of Acacia Strain or Hatebreedy stuff.
“With the technical side, a lot of bands lose the purpose of the “song” for the purpose of being technical. But then it can go too far the other way with bands who just have a chorus, and the song becomes far too throwaway. We balance that.”
Graham has already mentioned an insistence on ensuring a live, organic feel to this album, and it is with the live arena in mind that several of the songs were constructed. “We did that with this one, yes”, he confirms. “Songs like ‘Deadweight’ and ‘Shade’, we probably wouldn’t omit from the live set, so we wanted to think of songs that would fit nicely with those songs, but without copying them. You have to pace yourself too.”
And the band are aware of the increased demands live, considering the developments on record. “Steve’s doing more backing vocals and stepping into new territory. He’s got a really good screaming voice, a real proper gruff Scott Kelly smoking through a rubber tube voice, which is wicked, Carl can sing too, but it’s a confidence thing with him as he’s so used to just playing his guitar”, Graham adds.
Deliverance is a maelstrom of modern metal that bridges the age gap within the HOAC ranks. With Graham’s own introduction to metal being Machine Head’s ‘Death Church’ as a mate slipped him Burn My Eyes (Roadrunner), Side B first, to Metallica, Guns N’Roses and then Deftones, it’s no surprise of the diversity flecking the spectrum of HOAC, as Deliverance supplies ragers, groove metal, djent, jagged Gothenburg riffs and modern metal songs with depth and character.
“I like most that it’s got dynamics, and more variety, but it doesn’t lose focus” concludes Graham. While each band spouts their current album is their defining moment, ‘tricky’ album three has proved just that moment for Heart Of A Coward. “I’m really proud of that. A lot of bands struggle on album three to not repeat themselves and whatever big hits they‘ve had before and whatever’s worked for them before, and tend to exploit that too much. Or the opposite, and they veer off in a direction that alienates the whole fan base.
“We’ve straddled both and we’ve paved the way for the next album to be a logical evolution. We know where we want to go with it all, now.”
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
The reunion of the classic Deliverance line up is hotly anticipated with a sold out crowd ready to greet Pepper Keenan and the rest of Corrosion Of Conformity.
Kicking the night off in fine style were London based bringers of sludgy despicable metal Hang The Bastard, and boy were they sludgy. Looking like the Born Too Late-era Saint Vitus (only with less convictions for holding onto Walter White’s stash) and sounding just as punishing, like a wave of grim descended upon the venue. Drawing mainly on their last album Sex In The Seventh Circle the five piece slam through their 45 minute repertoire of heavy lumbering riffs and ear piercing vocals against a constant wall of nothing but uninterrupted feedback. The simple stage set up of red lights throughout added to the hazy almost bleak red room from Twin Peaks feel to the evening, if only instead of weirdest the backwards talking dwarf was replaced by riffs that made your brain want to dribble out of your ears. The fact the PA in the venue was blisteringly loud didn’t half improve the bands’ set, making a hypnotic wall of sound that crumbled each time the bands rumbling bass sound kicked back in.
Playing a set comprised of In The Arms Of God and fan favourites Wiseblood and Deliverance this evening has a greatly celebratory feel from the off as ‘These Shrouded Temples’ and the stomping ‘Señor Limpio’ kick tonight into gear.
Keenan grins from ear to ear as fans raise their fists and voices for ‘King Of The Rotten’ and underground hit ‘Albatross’ which threatens to take the roof off. Woody Weatherman clearly enjoys having his fellow riffmeister back in the fold, trading off licks while Messrs Dean and Mullin hold down the groove with an almost telepathic ease. There are plenty of surprises too. ‘Goodbye Windows’ is given its live debut and ‘Broken Man’ is aired for the first time in nearly twenty years. A stellar performance which receives a rapturous reception, the North Carolinians reputation as a jewel in the crowd of underground metal was cemented tonight.
WORDS: ROSS BAKER AND DAN O’BRIEN
Effortlessly blazing a trail encompassing brutal death metal, British folk and classic progressive rock, Mikael Åkerfeldt has led Opeth through many bold new directions and transcended genre boundaries for the band’s entire career. That 2011’s Heritage (Roadrunner Records) saw Opeth forgo the heavier end of the spectrum was for many a bitter pill to swallow. Whereas previous prog masterpiece Damnation was bookended with a heavier companion in Deliverance, Heritage saw Åkerfeldt indulging influences such as Comus and King Crimson in a fastidious and stubborn fashion claiming freedom from the restrictions of metal.
Fast forward three years and Pale Communion (also Roadrunner Records) is, in many ways a continuation of such a direction, but one that see’s Mikael’s uncompromising view drawing more clearly into focus.
Harking back again to the late 60s and early 70s this eleventh studio opus features fluid dexterous drum patterns, moody distorted organ work and another all clean and highly proficient performance in the vocal department. Where Heritage felt somewhat disjointed on occasion Pale Communion is richly woven into a tapestry of ornate and complex elements rather than flitting from one genre to the next.
‘River’ is perhaps the most surprising moment this time around drawing on the southern sounds of the likes of the Allman Brothers with the addition of a classic Rush middle section. It’s the bravest and most refreshing moment herein, unearthing yet another string to the Swedes’ substantial bow.
Largely a more cohesive work than its predecessor, there is a moment of overindulgence in instrumental centrepiece ‘Goblin’ could have been left on the cutting room floor. Though a tribute to the Italian horror soundtrack masters, it feels ill-fitting and out of place.
Far better is the albums longest moment the undulating ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’ a perplexing beast which keeps you guessing while again highlighting the morose beauty of Mikael’s vocals.
“I don’t want to bare my scars for you” opines Åkerfeldt on the graceful ‘Elysian Woes’. It’s a sentiment which is echoed in the fiercely uncompromising approach he has taken to producing music that truly challenges the listener. Hell bent on reinvention, this is another collection of finely crafted salvos from this prestigious group.