Eleven long years after their last full-length studio release, Floridian act Solstice makes a glorious comeback with Casting the Die (Emanzipation Productions), reuniting founder members Alex Marquez and Dennis Munoz for the first time since 1995’s Pray (Steamhammer SPV).
Diminished twin lead guitars fade in above a filthy, distorted bass line. It segues into the intro of the title track, and Death Becomes My Voice (Relapse Records) begins in ill-conceived circumstances. This intro segment is a slow crawl through power chords and crashing cymbals, and completely unrepresentative of the album as a whole. When the main bulk of the title track begins it’s clear that the slow introduction was a calm before a storm, but perhaps an unnecessary breather to kick things off. It may have worked better somewhere in the middle of this unrelenting album as something of a palate cleanser, but more on that later.Continue reading
Informing me that a band features the talents of Fall Out Boy drummer Andy Hurley probably isn’t the best way to sell me on their album, but I’m glad I swallowed my ignorance. I mean, you should’ve told me that Hurley is super talented and that he’s flanked by members of Cursed, Catharsis and Earth Crisis in SECT. Combine those mega-powers with uber-producer Kurt Ballou and the fabled GodCity Studios and you’ve got a hell of a blast of Entombed-core in No Cure for Death (Southern Lord).
This Is Hardcore Festival has just announced the lineup for this year’s festival, and it’s unbelievably awesome. Continue reading
Spawning out a Long Island music scene that introduced a number of cutting edged bands at the time, Vision of Disorder was part of an era that introduced a modernized version of hardcore and heavy metal that helped shape a sound that eventually morphed into what is now known as the metalcore genre.
Raze To The Ground is the band’s latest album (out now via Candlelight Records) and following the release of their 2012 comeback record, The Cursed Remains Cursed, the band channeled their energies into crafting a record that brings out the aggression and heaviness longtime fans have followed over the years.
Bassist Mike Fleischmann explains how this record came together and whether any new methods were input towards creating the songs.
“We did the same thing we always do, which is we lock ourselves in a dungeon like studio and everyone brings in ideas for a song and work on it. Usually the music’s first and then Tim [Williams] comes down and sees what he can do on it. If it sounds good, we keep it. If it’s not going anywhere, we toss it. That’s how it’s been since the beginning. That’s the way we work on songs.”
Pure angst has played a huge role in their sound over the years, and Raze To The Ground is no different than past material. Channeling their inner aggression, the band has stuck to a formula as on past recordings and is felt throughout the album and rarely letting down along the way.
“Right now we all live boring lives. It’s about bringing excitement to our lives and playing music. We’re all similarly taking our frustrations out on our instruments. Tim channels that energy into his lyrics and frustrations pent up stuff. I think that’s our thing. That’s how it comes out. We don’t purposely set out to write any kind of style. It’s just the music that comes out when we all get together.”
With Williams being the lyricist in the group, they chose the album title based on the state of the world and the negativity surrounding it all. Fleischmann explained how all of that factored into how the album came out.
“Tim does all of the album naming and the song naming, and it has to do with the title track, which he felt summed up the inspiration for this album. They took a lot of inspiration from recent news and the turmoil going on, which is still going on unfortunately! The past couple of years you see the news is flooded with civil unrest and rioting. I think he felt that summed up the feel of the record and a lot of the lyrical content.”
Aside from the music, Vision of Disorder did face a lineup change with longtime guitarist Matt Baumbach bowing out of the band. While over the past few years he was missing from some of their live shows, the band decided to move forward to record the album without him.
“This time Matt our longtime guitar player – he doesn’t want to do it anymore. We were making another record and we moved on without him,” he explained about the departure of Baumbach.
“We weren’t really sure whether he was going to be there. He was in and out. When you’ve been in the band this long, you can always come back at any time. After 20 years, if you’re having a bad year then you might as well have a year off. Until we were making the album and he wasn’t there we were like already he’s really not doing it.”
While the band recorded Raze To The Ground as a four piece, they employed Josh DeMarco for live shows. A familiar face within their scene, he became an obvious choice for Vision of Disorder and filled the shoes nicely.
“We didn’t have anyone replace him on the album. Live we’ve been playing with this guy Josh DeMarco who’s in a couple of other bands and he used to play in adayinthelife in the 90s. We toured the US with them and he’s also in a Long Island hardcore band called Mind Over Matter. He’s a very skilled guitar player. We were lucky he was available and he used to help us out sometimes roadie wise. I used to play in a band with him back in high school so I go back 20 plus years with him as well. We’re lucky to have a guy on deck that’s still a good guy that we all get along with and can step right in.”
Prior to the release of the new album, their 1995 EP Still was reissued by Dignified Bastard, and for Fleischmann, he is still surprised how much their fans have loved a recording that marked the early era of the band.
“It’s crazy that people care about a little seven inch that came out in ’95. People still talk to us about it so we knew some people would be happy that it came back. We pretty much have kept a lot of those songs in the set over the years so we know people are familiar with it over the years. It’s still crazy. That’s what we did before we got signed – before anything we did that Still seven inch. That was one of the first things that put us on the map. The first time we played in New York City the shows we played was based around that.”
He shared his memories of that era of Vision of Disorder and what that time period meant to him. Being that the Still EP was their first attempt at recording songs towards an actual recording, hard music fans from that era became hooked over a raw sound that helped shape a generation of hardcore metal.
“We did our first attempt at touring. We bought our first van and it broke down on the road – so many memories from back then. The New York City shows playing at Coney Island High and Wetlands, and playing with bands like Crown of Thornz and 25 Ta Life, and doing a lot of tri-state area shows and VFW Halls and skate parks. We weren’t playing real venues then. They were all makeshift Sunday matinees shows. It was totally different then what we ended up doing just a couple of years later.”
Vision of Disorder was one of the bands who took part on Ozzfest in 1997, in support of their self titled full length album. While this became a high profile exposure for the band at the time, Fleischmann had mixed memories about that experience.
“Unfortunately the first memory that always jumps out is the very first day of the Ozzfest we got kicked off the tour,” he said, with a laugh. “Our manager at the time rented us this RV, which wasn’t ready to go until the morning of the show. At that time in ’97, the side stage bands played twice a day. You could play two 20-minute sets. You’d play once at 11 am and then once at 3 or 4 o’clock would be your set time.”
“So we picked up our RV and raced down to Washington DC, where the tour started. We were the first band to play on the first day and missed it, so Sharon [Osbourne] kicked us off. We did a lot of crying and begging and they let us back on.”
Aside from the rough start, he recalled some other surreal stories about bonding with a variety of musicians he never imagined to be bonding with during a tour. The Ozzfest experience became a life changing moment for the band.
“That tour was crazy. We were hanging out every day with Neurosis, Pantera and Downset. We were all friends with them. Every day was crazy. We were watching Black Sabbath play every night. It was surreal. It was like a heavy metal summer camp.”
“Every day we’re walking through the cafeteria and we would see guys like Pete Steele or Vinnie Paul eating lunch and we’d feel like ‘what are we doing here?’ We were all 20 years old. It was crazy.”
While his stories about Ozzfest sounded positive, he recalled some of the troubles the band encountered at the same time, including communication issues with their record label and management. Despite those flaws, they survived it and lived to share these stories.
“We had problems from the get go with our first album. We really didn’t like how it sounded and we still aren’t happy with how it sounds and how it came out. From the very beginning of the Ozzfest, the day before, we couldn’t have even been there that first morning. They met the day before. They had a whole soundcheck and a whole meet and greet our manager didn’t even tell us about. We went on Ozzfest without a sound man, which was insane. We were already making mistakes.”
“We were on the Ozzfest and Tim is hooking up this microphone directly into the delay pedal and the speakers are feeding back. So we got no help from anyone. Everyone was holding their ears,” he said, with a chuckle.
Over 20 years have passed since the EP was released and the band has come full circle since then. Some of their peers from their era are still going strong and some others have returned after time away from the scene, but Fleischmann was happy where Vision of Disorder stands within the current scene.
“It’s great for a lot of the bands that we played with are still around, like Earth Crisis and Candiria is making another record. [They were] a lot of the bands we cut our teeth with are still around. It’s great.”
“We went to Australia a few years ago. We did the Soundwave Tour and we got to play with Madball and Sick Of It All, and we did side dates with them too. It was like on our off days we were in hotels and in planes with Madball and Sick Of It All.”
As for current live dates, Vision of Disorder try to play out live as much as they can. Due to personal lives and job reasons, they have a brief Southwestern US run in February and an appearance at Hellfest 2016 in Clisson, France scheduled at this time.
“We really don’t play very often. We all work full time and we have family stuff. It’s hard to get away. I would say it’s more of an older crowd. I don’t think there’s too many younger kids. We don’t play with too many bands that would draw them in either. I think we’re playing for our longtime fans. There are definitely some new people in there but I would say these days we are more playing for our fans that have been around for a long time. I think the percentage of people discovering it now is pretty low. I mean of course we’d appreciate it but we don’t really do the things that would take to get discovered by new people like hitting the road. It’s tough for us,” said Flesichmann, about the realities of balancing music and real life.
“We’ll try to do what we can do with that. It’s got to be worthwhile. We try to do weekends and try to do some international stuff. For five guys with different schedules all to get time off of work at the same time for the same amount of time, it’s tough. It’s harder than we thought it would be for it to get things together.”
Lastly, Fleischmann and Williams launched a podcast called Dead Bloated Morrison in 2013, where the two of them attempted to delve into talking about all things music. While they temporarily set aside this during the writing and recording of the new album, Fleischmann said they may try to do new episodes in the near future.
“We’ll probably end up doing it again. When we got serious about writing the record, we did that when we were bored in between. So when we got serious about writing, we had to use a lot of our free time on VOD. The podcast ends up being work. We’ll get together, schedule people for interviews, do some research…we had to figure out our priorities and do the band at the time. We’ll end up doing it again I’m sure. I’m sure when we go away and do some shows on tour we’ll get some good stories to include them.”
Veteran Syracuse metallic hardcore outfit Earth Crisis have been championing that sound since the early 1990s while tackling subjects such as animal rights, veganism and fighting environmental issues within their songs. Their hard hitting sound paved the way for the early versions of what was known as metalcore began to influence those who fused hardcore and heavy metal into a brand new sound.
Their moment came full circle as they took part on this year’s Knotfest in Devore, CA and nearly 20 years ago they also played on the first Ozzfest at the very same venue.
“We’ve been up to California quite a bit for the past few years. We were out here with Terror and Sworn Enemy. We played with One Choice and Cavalera Conspiracy,” said band vocalist Karl Buechner, about their recent treks out west.
Playing the second stage of the fest, they got to take part on one of the larger hard music fests in the United States. Landing a mid day slot on Day One, they were greeted by a packed crowd who were also eager to see other bands such as At The Gates who were on directly after them.
“Thank you to Slipknot for hand picking us for the festival and putting us on, and to all of the great bands we got to play with today. It was awesome to see At The Gates. We’re looking forward to seeing Slipknot of course and Judas Priest. It’s a stacked bill. Thanks to all of our fans in California who come out to the shows and supporting Neutralize the Threat and Salvation,” commented Buechner.
Since their return to the music scene, following a brief hiatus between 2001 and 2007, they have continued to wave the flag for the sound they championed for over two decades. Guitarist Scott Crouse and drummer Dennis Merrick explained about returning from their hiatus, following the release of their 2001 record Slither.
“We’ve been doing it since 2007 in a more laid back fashion than we used to,” said Crouse.
“We’ve put out three records since then – three full lengths and this year we’ve put out a four song EP – re-recorded two songs from Destroy The Machines and two previously unreleased tracks with Josh Grobelle of Bullet Tooth. We’re still doing stuff. Still playing shows,” said Merrick.
2015 was the 20 year anniversary of the band’s 1995 debut release Destroy The Machines, and the record that introduced a new generation of heavy music fans to a new metallic driven heavy metal sound.
While much of the year was focused around the anniversary set plus the release of their new EP The Discipline, they are concluding that leg with their rescheduled California dates in February 2016.
“We’re pretty much done with that. We had a show booked at Chain Reaction in Anaheim we had to make up. So that will be the last Destroy the Machines show in its entirety show,” said guitarist Scott Crouse.
“So far this year, we’ve played the Black N Blue Bowl, Southeast Beast, a festival in Detroit, Carry the Weight Fest VI and a headliner in Sheffield are where we exclusively did the Destroy The Machines set,” added Buechner.
Would they look into doing other albums in its entirety? Crouse mentioned the next in line was their 1996 album Gomorrah’s Season Ends. “It’s a lot of re-learning,” he said.
“It would be cool to combine some songs from Gomorrah’s [Season Ends] and Breed [The Killers]. Maybe do a combo set,” said Buechner, thinking aloud.
Being that Earth Crisis has celebrated 24 years of existence total, their message behind their songs has not changed much over the years. Themes such as animal rights, environmental issues and veganism are still a central part of the band’s message, which is now adapted towards what is happening in modern times.
“Our message is the same. We believe in kindness towards animals. I think one of the reasons we grew up with those thoughts that are in the forethoughts in our minds was because in Syracuse the city is on the shores of one of the most polluted lakes in North America are on Lake Onondaga [and] have all sorts of toxic poisons in it with factories and clouds of pollution going into the sky – something that would settle around us. A little bit to the north were the dead lakes in the Adirondacks. There was acid rain coming in from Canada, carrying all of the poisons from the factories, and all of the fish and vegetation were dying.”
“When Dennis and I were teenagers, Chernobyl happened. It definitely felt like things were being destroyed around us. So that’s why we took it so seriously,” said Buechner.
“I think now too, veganism for diet has been more of a mainstream thing. The plight of animals is still there. In a way it’s gotten to be more at a critical point. Factory farming has gotten so huge. People are still consuming insane amounts of meat, even though veganism is getting more mainstream.”
“There’s still tons of animals dying and being tortured in laboratories. A lot of organizations end up still doing things, like that No New Animals Lab organization from Seattle trying to stop the killing in underground animal laboratories. The Sheff campaign was a real successful campaign trying to stop animal testing. There’s still very good reasons why we’re doing what we do. The last record Salvation is focused on animal testing more than it was on the meat industry,” added Merrick.
One hotly contested subject that could appear on their future albums is Monsanto, the controversial sustainable agricultural company who has been linked with dumping poisonous chemicals into commonly eaten foods and their ties within the food industry. The band has referenced them, alongside subjects such as genetic engineering and modifying plants for human use on their two recent albums, To the Death and Neutralize the Threat, which adds to their arsenal of hot topics worked into their songs.
“The more you dig into that the more diabolical it is. Their new game – what they’re doing is buying up natural companies and then they use them to stop bills that are labeling genetically modifying ingredients.”
“What they’re for – they’re against labeling, which really Monsanto owns. A lot of these mainstream health products you see in all of the stores, Monsanto has their hands [on them]. They have their hands on their enemies to try to sway the public,” said Crouse, about the controversial company.
“I’m not sure if this is a proven fact or not, but one of the rumors is that in Monsanto or one of the places where the scientists design these things. They have organic food in their cafeteria.”
“We’ve never put that much emphasis on the health benefits of veganism. We’ve always tried to come from the animal liberation side of things to get people to understand what was going on in the laboratories and factory farms and the slaughter houses and the ranches and the Japanese whaling fleets and everything else that’s going on. The oceans are dying,” added Buechner.
Earth Crisis was well recognized for including the veganism subject within many of their songs. While this was one of many subjects the band was well known for, the general attitude towards the band and the subjects they based their songs around had greatly changed over the years. Veganism was no longer a taboo subject, and something the public became a bit more open towards.
“In a way back then when we started people didn’t know what veganism was in the mainstream but there was definitely a lot of underground support for it,” explained Merrick. “In the punk and hardcore community there were a lot of kids that were vegan and that’s kind of shifted. I think veganism for health reasons in a lot of ways have been co-opted by the mainstream and less popular in the underground punk scene. It’s counter culture because it’s not considered a mainstream thing.”
“It’s not a struggle as much. Maybe the counterculture kids steer away from it because their mom or their mom’s friend might be vegan,” said Crouse.
“In some ways it was a good it was co-opted by the mainstream for vegans, whether it was for animal rights or health or environmental issues. It’s for the animals and the environment anyways,” added Merrick.
While Earth Crisis is running once again, the various members have their other musical ventures happening at the same time. Buechner gave the status of his other band Freya, who had been working on their new album, and how the two bands’ schedules balance out.
“We actually had the drummer from Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) play on our new record. It’s done and my guitar player (Brendan Flynn) is doing all of the artwork and the layout,” he said.
“It actually has worked out very well balancing things between the two bands. Freya’s actually played more countries in Europe than Earth Crisis has at this point. We were further into the east last time we went over. We stayed for two months. So it’s great. We work on Earth Crisis and then when people want to focus on other things….I mean all of these guys do other bands as well. Scott’s working on a band with Jimmy [Chang] from Gut Feeling and the singer of Cursed, and Andy [Hurley] of Fall Out Boy. I’m working on Freya.”
Earth Crisis have announced their newly rescheduled West Coast Destroy The Machines 20th anniversary shows.
Feb 05: The Phoenix Theater – Petaluma, CA
Feb 06: Chain Reaction – Anaheim, CA
Slipknot brought back heavy music into their brand of a festival called Knotfest once again to Southern California as they packed two days (plus a VIP only Friday evening event for campers) full of headbanging and mayhem at San Manuel Amphitheatre in Devore, CA.
The VIP pre-party show consisted of brief sets by Khaotika, Motorbreath, Rings of Saturn and The Faceless, while Sepultura became the main focus of that evening, performing many longtime favorites from their 30th anniversary tour, such as ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’ and ‘Propaganda,’ while working on a few of the newer songs such as ‘Choke.’
Saturday’s main stage led the charge with the return of Pepper Keenan with Corrosion of Conformity, working in favorites such as ‘Clean My Wounds’ and ‘Albatross’; then Trivium and Mastodon both brought out powerful sets of powerful guitar driven hard rock leading into Korn’s semi-setlist of their début self titled album (ie they played only half of the album but they still brought their usual powerful live show) while working in other favorites like ‘Freak on a Leash’ and ‘Falling Away From Me.’
Headliners Judas Priest came out strong with a cross-section of newer songs such as ‘Dragonaut’ and ‘Valhalla’ while working in longtime favorites such as ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Hell Bent For Leather,’ as well as ‘Turbo Lover’. Following a strong showing on their previous tour, they did not disappoint and showed that after all of these years they can still deliver classic metal the right way.
Unlike the 2014 edition, Slipknot only played one day instead of both days, and they brought back the mini roller coasters and the Slipknot museum for attendees to enjoy. Another addition to this year’s edition was the Extreme Stage with such bands as Kataklysm, Abysmal Dawn, Belphagor and Inquisition living up to their musical brand and the headbangers representing as well.
The only band who did not quite fit the stage was Chilean-Canadian alternative-metallers The ReAktion, where their synth-driven riff metal was something fans grew accustomed to but was greatly out of place on that stage. The early set time worked in their favor on Sunday, with fans enjoying sightings of Slipknot DJ Sid Wilson around their set. Despite that, their eclectic sound was refreshing and somewhat interesting to see how they evolve from here.
Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor made a brief appearance with fellow Iowans Green Death during their brief set later on Sunday. Fans got acquainted quickly with the band despite their lack of recognition prior to the show.
Stages 2 and 3 were placed on the revolving stage where bands could get going much easier. Saturday’s set began with Battlecross, Red Fang and Goatwhore getting early set calls, but the packed crowd showed up to rock out with each band. Even the well publicized Josh Barnett joined in the pit action early on.
Veteran metallic hardcore outfit Earth Crisis brought back memories of their appearance of Ozzfest 1996 at this venue. Other highlights included At The Gates’ aggression driven set, while Body Count plowed through their set of classics (despite minor technical difficulties with Ice T killing time with his attempt at telling jokes on stage). GWAR capped out the stage with their usual antics and over the top stage show, moving forward post Oderus Urungus (a.k.a. Dave Brockie).
Sunday’s main stage opened with Ghostface Killa and Mobb Deep’s brief old school hip hop set that attracted curious onlookers, while Clutch came in with their usual power riff rock set that their stripped down stage show appeared a bit bare for such a large sized stage.
Bring Me The Horizon’s updated stage show and sound definitely caught the attention of the crowd with their LED powered backdrops with the letters to SPIRIT aligning with each word of their opening song ‘Happy Song.’ Frontman Oli Sykes had the crowd moving along with his commands, and kept the show entertaining. Plus their newer synth oriented melodic rock sound on songs like ‘Throne,’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ made their live show much more anthemic driven tunes for the crowd to sing along to. Even with the older heavier songs like ‘Chelsea Smile,’ Bring Me The Horizon showed that they have a full arsenal within their bag of tricks and is no surprise why they have the attention of the hard music world.
When Slipknot took the stage, they unveiled their new stage setup that resembled the carnival from hell, and they took charge from the opening minute. Opening with ‘Sarcastrophe’ and leading into ‘The Heretic Anthem’, Slipknot was on a mission to show why they are one of the biggest hard acts on the planet and can command their own festival. They even worked in ‘Me Inside’ (which they have never played live before apparently) and ‘Eeyore,’ giving the crowd more to get manic over.
The second and third stages on Sunday featured hard rockers Devour the Day and Kyng giving the crowd energetic melodic rock to nibble on, while semi-hometown favorites Snot got the crowd rocking with selections from their Get Some album while paying tribute to their late singer Lynn Strait.
Helmet, All That Remains and Beartooth all plowed through power sets of rock and metal that got the crowds working up a sweat, while led into the massive stampede of fans eagerly awaiting Cannibal Corpse and Suicidal Tendencies to perform. Cannibal Corpse simply owned Knotfest’s second stage and possibly had the largest crowd of headbangers and mosh pit participants of any act, which bled into Suicidal’s already veteran LA punk rock fan base. Overall, the insanity that came with those acts simply made the observing that much more enjoyable.
Overall, Knotfest 2015 brought together a strong collection of acts within the heavy music world once again and gave fans something to be excited about. After two consecutive years, hopefully Knotfest will continue to be an annual event (or something close to it).
PHOTO SET DAY 1:
PHOTO SET DAY 2:
Slipknot’s Knotfest is taking over, and if you have doubts about this I feel sorry for you. Growing to new locations and opportunities, Slipknot continues to grow their brand and the legend of these concert events. Taking place this weekend at the San Manuel Amphitheater and Festival Grounds in an Bernadino California, kicks off tonight with a private pre-party for campers ad VIP’s with performances from Sepultura and The Faceless among others. In addition to camping and vendors, this year’s Knotfest has crazy attractions like the Knotfest Museum, Street Drum Corps Blood Drums Experience, Thunderdome – Fire Area, Ring of Fire Carnival Ride, Flaming Carnival games and more.
Music is the thing that makes Knotfest come alive and Saturday is headlined by the mighty Judas Priest prepared to put on their legendary stage show. Followed up by Korn, who is in the midst of their debut album, 20th anniversary. Next on the main stage is Mastodon, followed by Trivium, COC with Pepper Keenan and a surprise special guest TBD.
The #2 and #3 stages for Saturday boast the likes of GWAR, Earth Crisis, Body Count, Goatwhore, At The Gates, Red Fang, Born of Osiris and Battlecross. Meanwhile the extreme stage has Kataklysm, Inquisition, Her Name In Blood, Belphegor, Abysmal Dawn, and Khaotika. Plus there is a Headbang for the Highway Stage sponsored by Zippo.
Sunday is no less impressive with Slipknot putting on their typical astounding show. They have out done them selves in every edition, and this should be no different. Bring Me The Horizon has possibly the biggest album of the year on their hands and are in the penultimate support slot appropriately. Rock giants Clutch follow closely along with Mobb Deep and Ghostface Killah.
The eclectic and star heavy second and third stages have bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, Beartooth, Cannibal Corpse, Snot, Helmet and Devour The Day. On the extreme stage legends Dying Fetus with have a chance to show fans how real technical death metal is done. They are joined by Internal Bleeding, The Reaktion, Disgorge, Green Death and Kings of Carnage.
You can still get tickets for Knotfest here:
Apr 03: Charm City Art Space – Baltimore, MD
Apr 04: Drunkhorse Pub – Fayetteville, NC (with Earth Crisis & Bitter End)
Apr 05: Southeast Beast Fest – Jacksonville, FL
May 06: The Pit Palace – Winston-Salem, NC (with Funeral Chic and Afflictive Nature)