A long time ago, Swedish three-piece Grand Magus were primarily a doomy stoner band. In the years since their 2001 self-titled début, an increasingly large proportion of their sound has been dedicated to bombastic heavy metal. With the release of their eighth album, Sword Songs [Nuclear Blast], the transformation is basically complete.
Magus can still write a chunky riff, the solos still invoke the best kind of air guitar and JB’s vocals still have a Dio-esque quality about them, but there’s a worrying sense that every new album is case of diminishing returns. The songs aren’t bad; far from it, but it’s lacking the heaviness or the spark that made some of their previous work so enjoyable.
There are occasionally occasional great moments; opener ‘Feja’s Choice’ is classic Magus; thick slabs of doom combined with wailing choruses and a heavy dose of guitar solos. The latter half of ‘Last One to Fall’ is heavy with a tinge of Iron Maiden running through it, ‘Born for Battle (Black Dog of Brocéliande)’ mixes a rocking stomp with another epic sing along chorus, while closer ‘Every Day a Battle to Fight’ is probably the album highlight; a mid-paced belter that shows off the best of what the band can do.
But there’s plenty of forgettable or just plain naff moments. Lead single ‘Varangian’ is a perfectly passable sing along number that will no doubt get the fists pumping live, but there’s a definitive aura of cheesy heavy metal about it. ‘Forged in Iron – Crowned in Steel’s chant of “Viking Metal” is probably the worst example of over-egging the Viking aesthetic. It just doesn’t sound like their hearts are in it a lot of the time.
Sword Songs feels like an album to drink mead and sing along to. But as fun as it is, there’s a real lack of memorable songs, the Vikings and war shtick is overplayed, and ultimately it’s definite step down from some of the band’s past glories. Go listen to Iron Will instead.
Crossfaith have streamed their entire new album Xeno, due out next week from Razor & Tie. You can hear the album at this link or below:
Xeno track listing:
01. System X 02. Xeno 03. Raise Your Voice 04. Devil’s Party 05. Ghost In The Mirror (feat. Caleb Shomo from Beartooth) 06. Dystopia 07. Wildfire (feat. Benji Webbe from Skindred) 08. Tears Fall 09. Paint It Black 10. Vanguard 11. Calm The Storm 12. Astral Heaven
Ghost Cult is proud to partner with Prosthetic Records to deliver the full album stream of the new Ramming Speedalbum, No Epitaphs, due out on September 4th. You can hear the album below:
Gearing up for their pivotal third album, Ramming Speed stepped up their game considerably following their move from their hometown of Boston to Richmond, Virginia. The simple southern life certainly hasn’t tempered the bands hunger to write crushing, intelligent songs that owe equal parts to classic thrash, heavy metal and more current brutal flavors such as grindcore and d-beat. Working with longtime producer and Converge guitarist, Kurt Ballou at his GodCity Studios, No Epitaphs is a killer metal album that likes to party, but also sounds like Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal and John Stewart combined.
No Epitaphs track listing 1. No Forgiveness in Death
The heaviest tour of the summer rolls across the USA as the 9th annualSummer Slaughter package makes its way from sea to shining sea. We attended the Worcester MA date at the Palladium. Although there have been years past when the tour was much more brutal and years where the bands on the tour was more proggy, but the 2015 line-up ha proven to be solid. Touring behind 2014’s War Eternal (Century Media) album, Arch Enemy continue to be a worthy headline act for this type of tour. They have their full production with them and the showmanship of Alissa White-Gluz and guitarists Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis shows. Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya bring the deathcore fans out and into the pit. One of the highlights of the Worcester date was that for The Acacia Strain, it was practically a hometown show, in a venue they often fill up by themselves. As usual, it was a mix of carnage and hilarity. For a lot of people, the most anticipated band of the day was Cattle Decapitation. With their new album out, The Anthropocene Extinction (Metal Blade), this is just the beginning of a long cycle of tours for the band. Beyond Creation was also warmly received by the early crowd. The Worcester date was captured for Ghost Cult here by Meg Loyal of Meg Loyal Photography, and looks like it was a sick time all around.
Crossfaith has released the first single from their forthcoming album Xeno (Razor & Tie), due out on September 18th. ‘Ghost In The Mirror’ features Beartooth vocalist Caleb Shomo. You can hear the track at this link or below:
Crossfaith front man Frontman Kenta ‘Ken’ Koie has commented on ‘Ghost In The Mirror’:
“This song is about the fight against myself. Everyone has some bad habits, and self-control can be very difficult for humans. And we invited our new best friend, Caleb Shomo of Beartooth, to contribute a guest vocal on the track. His voice made this song more aggressive and offensive. I can’t wait to play this song with him at our show.”
Festival season is just around the corner, and what better way is there to start the summer than with Temples Festival? Launched in 2013, Temples is an independent music festival based in Bristol. The event will take place from 29th – 31st May at the historic venue Motion.Continue reading →
Chevelle released their seventh overall album titled La Gargola this year, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200 album charts. Singles such as ‘Take Out the Gunman’ and ‘Hunter Eats Hunter’ have been strong singles off this album and continuing to attract new fans along the way.
One aspect of the band that they have not been able to shake off is the constant comparisons to such bands as Tool and Helmet, which they have regularly drawn similarities to. This has been a thorn in their side, but drummer Sam Loeffler does not take it personally when this tag comes up.
He shared his thoughts on this subject. “Eventually you kinda go ‘seriously?’,” he said, about the comparison. “We write essentially almost what you would call it radio-ish rock songs. It’s completely different from either band. Once you get a bit of a comparison in a singer, when they are super diehard fans, they can’t see past it.”
“I think a really good example of that is Muse and Radiohead. ‘Let it go. That’s what that guy sounds like.’ He’s not copying anyone. It’s his natural voice. Muse is an amazing band. Radiohead is an amazing band. Those guys go on.”
“Eventually you’ve gotta go ‘come on guys…what do you want us to do?’ When was the last Tool record? Seven or eight years ago, right? At least. We’ve written at least another three records in that time. We’re just writing songs. That’s it. I don’t know what people think we’re doing. Listening to an eight year old Tool record and trying to copy it? It doesn’t make any sense. I know the Tool guys never came up. They don’t think twice about it. They don’t think about us whatsoever.”
“When you’re a rock band, it doesn’t matter what you do. When someone hears you, they’re going to compare you to something. ‘Oh the Strokes! Oh yeah it sounds a lot like the Doors or Led Zeppelin.’ It doesn’t matter. They’re going to compare you to something. That’s the only reason people listen to it and it’s because they recognize something in it that they like.”
“The reality is, that kind of stuff comes up, fine. If you have a problem with the comparison, don’t listen to it. It’s ok. We all learned in kindergarten, if you don’t have anything nice to say….it doesn’t bother me. We have our influences. If you really go back and listen to what our music’s like, I can listen to Helmet Aftertaste, Meantime and Betty and go back to Alice In Chains and even listen to stuff like the Minutemen – stuff that’s really influential to us – Faith No More. These are the records we grew up on and pushed us to write music. If you go back and listen to those records and compare, sure.”
While Loeffler has his influences that helped shape Chevelle’s sound, the music he listens to on his spare time isn’t quite what most may imagine: “I listen to way less music than I used to now, because you start to think about it in terms of your own interests. That being said, a lot of music I listen to is not like our genre, like Every Time I Die and The Bronx are two of my favorite bands right now. Believe it or not, I listen to Duke Ellington and stuff like that because it’s entirely different and you don’t necessarily know where things will go with it. It’s unpredictable which is really nice. Then certain bands come out like Middle Class Rut. They’re amazing records and so fun to listen to. Makes you want to sing along. That’ll be more of a modern rock kinda thing that I’m interested in.”
“Pete [Loeffler, singer/guitarist]’s gone back to a lot of older stuff like the Ministry records have come back up for us – Land of Rape and Honey and Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste. These records that were so influential to us 22 to 24 years ago that helped shape us then. You go back and those records are still great. Recently we got back into Ministry a lot and that’s been fun.”
Chevelle has released their seventh overall album, La Gargola, and continue to venture into new territories while reaching new fans with their music. While the band has found success in North America, one of their goals is to expand upon performing for their fans internationally, including their upcoming UK and Western European run with Black Map.
Drummer Sam Loeffler talked about their upcoming tour. “At the end of October, we have nine shows. We’re doing three in the UK, Belgium and four in Germany, and Paris (France).”
“It’s been like ten years. Last year, we went through London on our way to South Africa. We played a one time headliner show – 800 seater and that went well. [It was] sold out and we played this 800 seater and it was fantastic. It was so fun. We went out to South Africa and played those shows. Those were great as well – packed and sold out 6000 to 9000 seaters. It was great to be received that way. So when we went through London, we did it to test the waters and see if people would come out and they did. So now we’re really focusing.”
He spoke about Chevelle’s recent appearances at this past summer’s Download Festival in Castle Donnington, UK and Rock Am Ring and Rock Am Park in Germany. Getting to play a major UK and German festival placed them in front of larger crowds they hadn’t played for in a while, plus getting them reacquainted with them for their own headlining tour that was coming up in October and November.
“We got to play in front of some people, and more importantly than that, we got the word out that we’re coming back. There were a lot of people that said ‘look we’re not going to Download’ or ‘we’re not going to Rock Am Ring or Rock Am Park’ because it’s too expensive. But when we announced it, we also announced that we were coming there to headline in certain markets in Germany and the UK. That way they could spend the $20 instead of spending $150 to see us do a 30 minute set.”
“It’s different than some festivals, in that they are really so big. But they have three or four stages too, so you really aren’t playing in front of 100,000 people. You’re playing in front of 1500 to 2500 people. It’s a little misleading in that unless you’re one of the headliners at the end of the night. I saw at Rock Am Park, we saw Quicksand play and a couple other bands we really liked. They were later in the day and competing with the main stage bands, and there were 300 people there, watching these bands. Are you guys crazy? But the thing is, the Offspring was playing on the main stage. We get to see the Offspring in the US, but they’re not there as often. There was some real competition for what to go see, but a lot of great bands.”
Loeffler spoke about the band’s desire to venture more overseas on tour, but financial constraints have kept the band from doing so.
“The frustrating thing is not getting to Europe and places like that, because they are so far away and more so it’s so expensive for us to go there. Sometimes it’s just doesn’t make sense. You don’t have the money. Sometimes you end up paying to go there in order to open up new markets, like in the case of playing Rock Am Ring (Germany), Rock Am Park (Germany) and Download Festival in Donnington (England). That cost us a huge amount of money, and we had to tour in the US to build up that money, in order to go there to do those shows. The idea to do those shows is that we get the press for our upcoming tour. That also will cost us money. If we keep going back, it will build and will eventually have new markets open. We have to work to make the money to pay for us to go there. Just those three shows cost us $40,000. We were only there for ten days. $4,000 a day is a ridiculous amount of money. But it’s typical to get six people around – three crew and three band members. You’ve got to be safe. Permits are expensive. Just Canada alone costs $4,000, just to have a permit just to go. That’s a crazy amount of money, but we have to do it. It’s the law. If we don’t do it, we get stuck at the border.”
Aside from the European continent, Chevelle has done some international touring in other territories, such as Australia and South Africa.
“We’ve been to Australia before,” said Loeffler. “We try to hit Hawaii and Alaska every other year. So we do have some stuff we have to do in Alaska and Hawaii. The US, Canada and then we’ll be hitting the UK, Germany, Belgium and Paris (France). Next summer we’ll try to hit a couple more markets. We do have offers from places like Russia, where we’ve never been to. We’ll go back to South Africa eventually, which was really great. We have a real connection there. We have to find the time to write, work and a little time for a family life.”
As for a return trip to Australia and hitting other areas such as Japan has resulted in it becoming a bit challenging. But with a little luck and persistence, Chevelle is hoping to get themselves into those areas in 2015.
“We have a couple of reasons for that. So Australia is a very difficult tour. We did go there once. We did 14 shows in 17 days. We did the mini-van tour and played all the major cities – Sydney, Perth, and some of the outlining markets. In order to do that, you really need to have support of a label. When we were there, we didn’t have much support. The label was really small there. It wasn’t a Sony label, so it ended up costing us a lot of money. To go back, it makes sense to go back and build up that market. You really gotta have that support so you can go in there and actually planning some shows so you have 200, 300, 400 people come out. It’ll cost you $65,000 to play five shows in five major cities. That’s a huge chuck of money to be able to go. So you have to wait and push for a festival tour, which we’ve been doing for seven years, trying to get onto a festival in Australia. We cannot get onto a festival.”
“Japan is a similar thing where you have to go and have a purpose. So we’ve had three major offers to play three shows in Japan. We confirmed all of them, and all of the promoters have pulled out before they were able to do it. It’s not because they don’t believe in us, but what happens is in order to go, it’s so expensive we have to have them pay 50% up front and sometimes they can’t get the money together. If we’re going to book $25,000 worth of flights and another $10,000 worth of whatever…we’re willing to take some of it on, but what if you cancel? So we’ve had three different full things in Japan we were supposed to do that had been canceled. It’s been a frustrating thing.”
“We turned a little bit to the military, who wanted to bring us in to play regular shows, but sponsored by the military. The military has a turnover rate of every six months they turn over their people and bring in. So we’ll book a tour, new people will come in and cancel it. That’s happened to us at least three times. We’d love to see Japan. But we will keep trying.”
In October Chevelle will bring their brand of heart-thumping drums and dark-overdriven guitar riffs back to the UK in support of their new single ‘Hunter Eats Hunter’. Taken from their latest album ‘La Gárgola’ the track will be released on 20thOctober ahead of the band’s upcoming 3 date UK tour. These shows will see the band taking in Manchester, Birmingham as well as returning to London after last year’s sold date at the Islington Academy.
Chevelle were last seen on these shores earlier this year where they delivered an exhilarating performance at Download Festival, following the release of their latest album.
Released at the start of June through Epic – Sony Music, ‘La Gárgola’ (Spanish for The Gargoyle) was described as ‘ a sonic reinvention for the band’ by front man Pete Loeffler [guitars, vocals],
‘I don’t want Chevelle to sound like every rock band out there, I wanted to create something fun in a dark way.’
‘La Gárgola’ debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S becoming the band’s highest charting album.Produced by Joe Barresi [Queens of The Stone Age, Tool, Coheed and Cambria] songs like ‘The Damned’
and ‘Jaw Breaker’ characterize the prevailing feel of ‘La Gárgola’.
Formed by the Loeffler Brothers in Chicago, IL in 1995, Chevelle has sold over four million albums, including their major label debut ‘Wonder What’s Next,’ which went platinum. In their nearly 20-year career, they have notched twelve top ten rock radio hits in the U.S, including the chart-topping singles ‘Send The Pain Below,’ ‘The Red,” and ‘Face to the Floor.’
The band are represented by U.S management company InDe Goot Entertainment, who recently opened an office in London and also take care of artists such as Halestorm, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of a Deadman and Shinedown.
Chevelle – UK tour dates (Support from Black Map & Lieutenant)