Deathcore legends Despised Icon have added some dates to their ongoing comeback tour since reuniting in 2016 for their Beast album on Nuclear Blast. The band has so far announced four dates this fall. Continue reading
Much like with my last review, I’m walking in cold to Malevolence’s Self Supremacy (BDHW). I didn’t even know they were British. That said, reading tracks like ‘Trial by Fire’ and ‘Spineless’ I thought I might have to find myself playing the role of lyric police… and there are lyrical improvements to be made, as we learn on ‘Severed Ties’ that “you have to cut the grass to find the fucking snakes.” Not the most enlightening sentence ever, but the superb musicianship will certainly capture listener attention. Continue reading
Carnifex promised a huge tour announcement today, and here it is. Continue reading
Suicide Silence has been hard at work on their fifth studio album with producer Ross Robinson, and we finally have our first taste of the new material, plus we now know when to expect the new record. Continue reading
Carnifex’s latest LP, Slow Death, is nothing if not about getting down to brass tacks. Quick off the blocks, the San Diego natives jump into the two strongest bangers of the batch, ‘Dark Heart Ceremony’ and ‘Slow Death.’ While doing so, they also set the template of what else to come in the remaining 29 minutes; Carnifex gonna be Carnifex. Continue reading
So it’s 2016 and we have a new album, Beast (Nuclear Blast), from Despised Icon. Yeah, the same Despised Icon that called it a career in 2010 as its members chose to focus on simple family life. The Despised Icon whose music had all the subtlety of a reciprocating saw.
I guess the question is why now? Well, what better place than here, what better time than now? Considering that their last album, 2009s concussive Day of Mourning (Century Media), landed them at number 162 on the Billboard Top 200, they may have called it curtains too soon. Proof? Quite a few “deathcore” acts shamelessly ape Despised Icon and fellow Montrealers Beneath the Massacre’s sonic brew in the years that followed and regularly find themselves debuting in the Top 40.
The better question is, has the passage of time dulled Despised Icon’s edge? Hell no. The Quebec septet are still stitching together bruising hardcore and rapid death riffs and tempos. So much so that about two minutes into Beast there is a clear/brazen callback to 2007s The Ills of Modern Man. The patented Steve Marois lock-stepped pig squeals that are oft-imitated but never matched? Just crank ‘Bad Vibes’ and ‘Time Bomb’ until your heart stops. What about breakdowns? This album is basically a buy one get one free kind of deal with those. ‘Grind Forever’ has a breakdown wider than Texas.
This is a Despised Icon album, through and through. It’s almost like it warrants two ratings. Dyed in the wool Despised fans will love this shit. Those unfamiliar with this noisy and relentless affair? Well, that could be a hard sell. However there are the briefest glimpses of experimentation. ‘Drapeau Noir’ has a name like a cheap boxed wine, but is death metal of the highest excellence, not unlike what you’ll find on a Black Dahlia Murder album. Complete with a fret-burning solo and all the fixings. And I’m usually not a fan of these things, but the two interludes, particularly ‘Doomed’ are used tastefully.
So you could say that the uncrowned kings of deathcore are finally ready to assume the throne.
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Back for an 11th year in a row, Amnesia Rockfest near Quebec, in Montebello Canada will host mega bands such as Blink-182, Rise Against, Jane’s Addiction, Limp Bizkit and Ice Cube among the 125 bands who are slated to perform. Other bands scheduled to appear include Korn, Ontario punks Billy Talent and Sum 41, Bring Me The Horizon, Florida’s A Day To Remember, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Twisted Sister (farewell tour and last show in Canada), Puscifer, NOFX (performing their album Punk In Drublic), The Used (performing their album In Love and Death), At The Drive-In (reunion show), Underoath (reunion show), Blink-182’s Travis Barker (solo show), NOFX’s Fat Mike performing as Cokie The Clown (world-exclusive solo show), Lagwagon (performing their album Hoss), Millencolin, Streetlight Manifesto, Against Me!, Strung Out, Guttermouth, No Use For A Name (special tribute), Leftover Crack, Wizo, Flag, The Adicts, Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Steve Ignorant of Crass, D.O.A., Turbonegro and GG Allin (special tribute), Sepultura, Sodom (first show in Canada in 10 years), D.R.I. (first show in Canada in 20 years), Cannibal Corpse, Korpiklaani, Max & Igor Cavalera Back To ‘Roots’ (performing Sepultura’s Roots album), Corrosion Of Conformity, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Faceless and Poison The Well (reunion show) and many more. Some defunct Quebec bands will temporarily reunite exclusively for Amnesia Rockfest, including Vulgaires Machins, Kermess, Raid, Démence and Yelo Molo. Festival regulars Grimskunk, Despised Icon, The Sainte Catherines (performing Dancing for Decadence), Voivod, Anonymus and BARF will be back this year. In addition, Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project, Bob Bissonnette, Gorguts and WD-40, alt rock legends Ludwig Von 88 (reunion show and only Canadian date) and Les Ramoneurs de Menhirs, Bérurier Noir’s Loran’s group.
Tickets are now on sale at www.amnesiarockfest.com and at Amnesia stores. Once again this year, festival weekend passes will be sold at very reasonable rates: $120 (plus fees and taxes), which comes out to less than a dollar per band! New this year: festival-goers can pay for their order in five instalments. VIP packages are also available.
For the 2016 edition of the festival, the VIP campground will be totally revamped to offer a unique experience to festival-goers. Again this year, several public transit options will be available, as well as an area for RV camping.
Ten years is one hell of a good run for any music festival, but for one with the DIY, underground origins of Ghostfest, it’s a monumental achievement. Beginning in Leeds in 2005, the festival has showcased the best in UK underground metal and hardcore every year (except 2007) with more than a few international acts along for the ride. Early fests featured artists as diverse as Bring Me The Horizon, Cult of Luna and The Berzerker, but since 2009 the emphasis has strongly been on deathcore and hardcore with beatdowns and neck tatts the order of the day.
Venturing out of Leeds for the first time this year with a show in Bristol, the future for Ghostfest appeared rosy but a mid-week announcement that this year’s event would likely be the last had undeniably cast a shade over proceedings. That being said, there was a strong turnout at the Motion and Marble Factory (also the venue for the revered Temples Festival) with the audience determined to enjoy a full day of seriously angry music.
After a delay caused by, of all things, deer on the motorway, the savage death metal-cum-hardcore of Venom Prison rattles the rafters of the Warehouse stage (actually a cow shed) before Casey do their best to enthral with an intriguing set of eerie post-hardcore heavily reliant on wavering guitar-led ambience as well as obligatory crushing riffs. They’re not quite there yet but the ideas are good. Up next are the energetic and impassioned Blood Youth who play as if they’re headlining Wembley despite only having one EP to their name, with tracks such as the anthemic ‘Failure’ calling to mind a more emotive Modern Life is War.
Over on the Marble stage, the furious black metal style assault of Oathbreaker goes over the heads of the br00tal kids in the crowd, but for those who stick around, their utterly furious barrage of Converge-meets-Wolves In The Throne Room noise is nothing short of spellbinding, with frontwoman Caro Tanghe’s hunched over Sadako (evil girl from The Ring) impression a perfect visual contrast to the restless energy of the guitarist and bassist.
And now for something completely different…
Is Ghostfest really the place for an acoustic set from a small girl playing Fall Out Boy covers as well as her own material? You bet your longsleeve Nails shirt it is, as a visibly nervous Siana Sweeney aka Seafoal takes the stage and proceeds to wow all in attendance with her simply stunning voice and gentle guitar playing. A nice bit of backing ambience from a friend on electric guitar helps the songs come to life and although only thirty or so people are present, the change of pace is welcome, the voice a tonic, and her appearance on the bill wholly justified.
French manga obsessives Rise Of The Northstar are a big draw for many here today and as a result, it’s virtually impossible to get anywhere near their set over on the Marble stage but they certainly give it their all, with bouncy riffs and hip-hop laced vocals jostling for prominence. Unfortunately a muddy sound neuters their impact somewhat which is a shame, for tracks such as ‘Demonstrating My Saiya Style’ have the potential to sound absolutely massive.
Ghostfest crowds love a good beatdown and Southampton wrecking crew Desolated have them in spades. Unfortunately that’s all they’ve really got going for them and the repeated bass drops are like catnip for that curious species armspinner pitwanker who get their kicks from punching innocent bystanders. Sadly, their cretinous behaviour mars several of today’s sets.
The large Motion stage is where Heart Of A Coward looks most at home with their powerful, if slightly generic metalcore sounding huge, with vocalist Jamie Graham working the crowd like a pro. However, said crowd is surprisingly sparse for a band that has packed the tent at Download not too long ago. That’s possibly because the cowshed (sorry, Warehouse) stage is filling up in anticipation for the visceral deathcore of Martyr Defiled, who play one of the sets of the day as cuts from last year’s No Hope. No Morality (Century Media) cut a swath through the throng and prove just how far the Lincoln lads have come since their below-par early days.
Having said that, they don’t draw nearly as many punters as reunited deathcore daddies Despised Icon, who deliver a systematic pummelling over on Motion as the poseurs and imitators in attendance are well and truly crushed. The dual vocal assault of Alexandrie Erian and Steve Marois may have been derided in the past, but it’s in the live environment where their presence is really felt. Plus you simply can’t fuck with tracks as brutal yet well-crafted as ‘A Fractured Hand’ and ‘In the Arms of Perdition.’ How long they’ll stick around for is anyone’s guess, but their existence is proof that the dreaded ‘D’ word isn’t so dirty after all.
After Emmure, the only logical band to close proceedings is Hatebreed, an act pretty much every band on the bill owes their existence to. Jamey Jasta’s band of brothers are a lean, mean, metallic hardcore machine and are one of the few acts to transcend the bridge between metal and hardcore, something they achieve not only with their sheer professionalism, but by having a set of seriously catchy yet hard hitting anthems that fans of Slayer and Agnostic Front can dig equally. Tonight’s set has an air of triumphalism about it, with a career-spanning setlist that has heads banging, arms flailing and fists pumping from front to back.
If this does prove to be the last Ghostfest, it will be a cause for sorrow. The vast majority of the bands here are hard working, don’t rely on major labels, and constantly have to put up with arseholes claiming they’re “not metal” because they wear bandanas instead of face-paint. However, there is the lingering sense that it may have run its course. A glance at the bills for previous events shows a troubling recycling of acts, with some bands seemingly guaranteed a place on the line-up year-in-year-out. With such a vibrant hardcore scene in the UK and beyond, there is certainly a deep pool for the organisers to dip into. The reasons for the ominous announcement concerning the fest’s future are still unknown at time of going to press so it wouldn’t be appropriate to speculate. So if this does prove to be Ghostfest’s last stand, it certainly went out with a massive fucking bang.
WORDS BY JAMES CONWAY
PHOTOS BY STEVE WATKINS
Despite already boasting a packed line up, topped by US Hardcore Heroes Hatebreed, alongside Emmure, Despised Icon, Angel Dust, Martyr Defiled and Venom Prison amongst others, Ghostfest 2015 has confirmed the addition of Heart of a Coward, Stray From The Path (both of whom are fresh from devastating sets at this years Download Festival, Malevolence and Blood Youth.
The festival, which takes place with the same line up on two different days, Saturday 5th September at Leeds University Union (site of Damnation Festival) and Sunday 6th September at Motion in Bristol (site of Temples Festival) is shaping up to be the best Ghostfest yet, as the boat is pushed out to celebrate their tenth anniversary.
For Ghostfest ticket information, click here
Sep 05: Leeds University Union – Leeds (UK)(Ghostfest North)
Sep 06: Motion – Bristol (UK)(Ghostfest South)