There’s a fine line between “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “there’s always room for improvement”, and more often than not the re-recording of old albums usually falls snugly into the former category. No matter how much more accomplished the revised version might sound from a technical standpoint, the overall results rarely change. Lightning in a bottle cannot be captured twice.
I wish I could say I knew Jonny Zazula back in the day, but I wasn’t quite old enough. Sure, I had heard all the stories. As a major Metallica and Anthrax fan, Jon and his wife Marsha’s life stories are Metal history as much as any riff, album or chorus. I bumped into Jon about twelve years ago at Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. I was there to see a Testament headline show. Jon and Eddie Trunk, who owes his career to Jon and Marsha to an extent, walked right by and I totally fanboyed out. I’m pretty sure I blurted out something lame like “Holy shit, Jonny Z! Thanks for everything!”, since that what was in my heart. He gave me like a half-pat on the arm, half a “hey dude I need to get by you” move and slipped past me on his way backstage. Trunk just smiled. That was my in-person brush with him, until a recent phone interview (coming soon) for this book release. The book is a memoir about an enterprising music lover who put a genre or two on his back and raised up everyone around him toward greatness.
In a post to Facebook today Maryland Deathfest announced their first 30 bands for the 2016 event, taking place from May 26-29th, once again held at the Edison Lot, Rams Head Live, Baltimore Soundstage. Among the notable first wave of bands announced are Venom, Samael, Exciter, The Haunted, Hail of Bullets, Mitochondrian, Disgourge, Desrtoyer 666, Saturnalia Temple, Grusome, Jungle Rot, Sinister, Severe Tourture, Wormed and many more. Samel will be playing a special Ceremony of Opposites set.
Here we go again!
MDF 26-29, 2016
Edison Lot, Rams Head Live, Baltimore Soundstage
30 bands confirmed for MDF XIV:
Denouncement Pyre (Australia)
Hail of Bullets (Netherlands)
The Haunted (Sweden)
Lord Belial (Sweden)
Malignant Tumour (Czech Republic)
Nocturnal Graves (Australia)
Samael (Switzerland) – “Ceremony of Opposites” set
Saturnalia Temple (Sweden)
Severe Torture (Netherlands)
A limited amount of 4 Day passes will be on sale at 12 Noon EST until they sell out. Tickets can be bought at this link:
The first track of Pulses of Pleasure (Napalm) is called ‘Fast, Loud and Rude’ and that tells you everything you need to know. Once it kicks off with a riff that buzzes around like a pissed off wasp you’ve just failed to swat, high on the spillage of your fizzy drink, you know exactly what type of journey Evil Invaders are going to take you on.
With a more melodic (and slightly restrained) take on Exodus, and lashings and thrashings of Exciter worship, Evil Invaders don’t do subtle. Or diverse. They do, however, pedal a line in nostalgic old school thrash and speed metal and everything, from the retro production to the squealing solos (nice harmony lead in the title track, by the way guys) and the pacy chromatic riffs is lovingly recreated. Existing in a bubble where metal ended when Udo quit Accept and Kai Hansen stopped fronting Helloween, Evil Invaders’ sound and influences begin in 1979 and end in 1986.
While the production and performance values and the base level of pretty much every band releasing music out there these days has increased a thousand-fold in the last thirty years, Speed Metal still allows, nay, welcomes with studded wrist band adorned arms, the amateurish “rough and ready” approach which did alright by Raven and Razor (one assumes the band name is taken from the Razor album of the same name?). Deliberately Shit Metal only exists in the hearts and minds of those with both (white hi-top clad) feet in yesteryear, and Gehennah, who do this retro thing with more balls, menace and conviction, shit Evil Invaders for breakfast.
Some might argue naïve charm and a love of a bygone age, when denim and chains (and rivets) ruled the roost, but the fun factor soon wears off as Pulses of Pleasure reveals itself to be big on style and short on substance. The classic speed metal albums were great because, above all, they lived and died on standout riffs and excellent songwriting. Evil Invaders fall short on both counts.
Friends, allies and countrymen lending each other not just their ears, but their riffs too, and sharing black wax time and what we have here is a pretty cool, if gratuitous, way for two bands to promote themselves and each other. The premise for Under Command, a split EP (Metal Blade), is that each band contributes a new original, a re-imagining of the other band and a cover.
First up is RAM’s original, a spiky Judas Priest inspired 80’s rocket called ‘Savage Machine’. It goes without saying originality is at a premium, but it’s delivered in the right spirit. However, the best of RAM’s trio of unholiness is their take on Portrait’s ‘Welcome To My Funeral’, outdoing the original with graveyard tones and atmospheres working well. All the good work done in the first two, RAM chuck it away with a piss-weak and stock cover of KISS’ ‘Creatures Of The Night’ that seems to go on for double its four minute length.
Portrait have been (unfairly? the jury is still out…) tagged as wannabe Mercyful Fate merchants, with people comparing Per Lengstedt to the King, in an evaluation that the Portrait man can only come out second best in. ‘Martial Lead’ does little to dispel the Fate association, with Lengstedt’s voice and falsetto too rough and no Diamond. Their version of Exciter’s ‘Aggressor’ is decent, raw and aggressive enough, and they run through RAM’s ‘Blessed To Be Cursed’, a more underground and Satanic British Steel era Priest tune, with enough intent to do it justice.
All six tracks suffer from a retro production, and it’s interesting that by the end the differences between the two bands are negligible and this could be one release by the same act. It’s also of note that the more high profile of the two, Portrait, come out second best, but, then, RAM have more to benefit from this, and it shows in the power they put into their track.
All said and done, this is a decent enough curio, but no more than that.
Aggression has reunited around founding guitarist Denis “Sasquatch” Barthe selecting players for their appearance at the 2015 Defenders of The Old Festival on March 13 and 14, 2015 at The Old Festival in Brooklyn, NY. The band will feature vocalist Brian Langley (Infernal Majesty), bassist Darin Wall, guitarist Dave Watson (Entropia), and drummer Ryan Murray Idris (Expain).
This will be Aggression’s first show since 2005, where they reunited at the Montreal Metal Massacre fest and unleashed their un-released 1986 album ‘Forgotten Skeleton’.
Defenders of The Old Fest Line Up:
Exciter – The First U.S. show with the original Beehler, Johnson, Ricci, line-up in 30 years.They will be performing classics from the first 3 albums.
Brocas Helm – First East Coast show ever
Machine of War – Featuring NME’s Brian Llapitan to perform Unholy Death in its entirety
Aggression (Canada) – Legendary Speed Metallers from Quebec. First show in the U.S.