Mastodon, Motörhead, Stone Sour, Kreator, AC/DC & More Among 2018 ‘Record Store Day’ Releases

Record Store Day is coming up on April 21st, and just like previous years, there will be a ton of cool releases from artists in rock and heavy metal. Continue reading

Deicide, Despised Icon, Jungle Rot, Beyond Creation And More Booked For Trois Rivieres Metal Fest

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Back On The Road – Andy LaRocque of King Diamond

King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

King Diamond’s appearance on this past summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival became the talk of the summer as metalheads were eager to catch his elaborate show on a larger stage. This follows his 2014 North American tour, which also marked his return to the touring scene following his time off due to various health issues that plagued him for a few years.

This marks King Diamond’s first appearance on a US touring festival that took the band across the country. While the band has played various European summer festivals, they have found subtle differences with the US ones. They had just completed the first night in San Diego, CA and are about to perform at Devore, CA on the second night of the tour.

Exactly it’s a quite different thing actually in the USA, I must say. It’s great. It’s just different in all ways I guess,” said guitarist Andy LaRocque.

Last night was really good. San Diego – first opening night was really good,” said guitarist Mike Wead.

We had a good time. Even the places are a little different from Europe. It’s a different atmosphere. Everything looks different of course. Different organization – it’s great,” added LaRocque.

Andy LaRocque of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

Andy LaRocque of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

They spoke about the big differences between the Euro festivals versus the ones in the US.

No rattlesnakes in Europe!,” said LaRocque.

The weather is different. It’s hotter here. Like Andy said, the organization behind it is a bit different. It’s still a festival and if you’ve done a few or a lot of them, you’ll feel familiar with the system pretty quick. It takes a couple of days and then you’ll understand how everything works,” said Wead.

The big difference with this festival is that it’s the same bands tour around the US, compared to festivals in Europe where there are different lineups on every festival. I don’t think there are touring festivals in Europe,” added LaRocque.

We used to have Sonicsphere but I think they went belly up. So we don’t have it,” concluded Wead.

Mike Wead of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

Mike Wead of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

Having an hour long set time during the tour, LaRocque explained how they picked what made up their set list. While fans each have their favorites, the band managed to select the core tunes that highlighted the main points in their history.

We try to make a good blend of theatrical stuff that fits on the stage and also what the audience wants, and the different time eras too. So I think what we have now is a good mix of that, which I think works really well. The first show was last night and I think everything was in a really good flow. [It was] very intense. We covered up everything. It’s really hard to fit in everything in one hour of course but this works.

Pontus Egberg of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

Pontus Egberg of King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

They took part on a line that featured Slayer, Hellyeah and Devil Wears Prada on the main stage, and a side stage consisting of Whitechapel, Feed Her To The Sharks, Thy Art Is Murder, Jungle Rot, Sworn In and many others. While much of their audience traditionally older, they have found a growing number of younger fans showing interest in their music and live set. LaRocque shared his theories behind this.

Well you could speculate it. There’s been a lot of hyping on the internet, of course, since he got with his health. I don’t know really to be honest why it happened. There were still a lot of things going on in the background, even though we were not playing. Since we came back, we are now able to play bigger places and reach out to a bigger audience. It seems like our fan base is bigger than ever. One of the reasons is we never have been into having internet sites like Facebook, which we created during that period of his illness. That made it grow also.

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

While King Diamond took his extensive time off of the road, the rest of his band kept busy with other things. Aside from the band, each member have their own respective projects they work on to keep busy in the meantime.

I have a studio and produce bands. I’ve had the studio for over 20 years. I’ve been doing that in theory itself, when we’re not doing anything with Diamond – not touring, not recording an album. I’ve also had different projects with different musicians,” said LaRocque.

Same with me – studio stuff, loads of session work as a guitar player, and doing records with other bands,” said Wead.

I only joined the band [in 2014]. I’ve been doing totally different stuff. I’ve been playing with different bands for as long as I can remember, but last summer I hooked up with these guys and it’s been a sweet ride ever since,” added bassist Pontus Egberg, who happens to be the newest member of the band. He joined the band in 2014.

King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

King Diamond. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada

During the downtime, LaRocque admitted that he did come up with rough ideas for new songs but was mainly waiting for King Diamond to recover physically before proceeding.

We really didn’t do anything with Diamond at all. We just talked often – me, King, the guys in the band and management. I actually honestly wrote a few songs in the meantime. It’s still waiting there to go back there to listen, see if any of it could be used for the next album. I’ve got four, five or six songs. It’s nothing focused or serious, but it might be useful.

We’re just waiting for King to come back and took it from there. As soon as he was good enough health wise, we started to do festivals. It started out in Europe and it turned out great. We only did two festivals the first summer back in 2012. It turned out really good. Everyone was like ‘wow! Cool that you guys are back.’ The next summer we did some more festivals, and that was last summer. Then we got the chance to do this. We also did a US tour in October and November (2014). So this is the first festival tour here in the US for us. I’m happy we could do it. As long as he’s fine with everything, with his health and stuff, we will continue.

King Diamond, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

King Diamond, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

In terms of a timeline towards their long awaited new record, LaRocque clarified where the band stood on this.

We have a few song ideas but nothing worked out yet. We were supposed to start working on new material this summer, but then this festival came in between, which we are very happy for. Once we get a break, we’re going to start working on it. It will probably be early 2016 that we start working on the new material. That’s the plan.

Approaching the songwriting process, they had spoken about some of the changes including have various options on where to record. Despite this, the writing process stayed somewhat similar to past records.

It’s mostly King and me who writes the stuff. So what he does is sitting down with now his computer. He used to have this old tape machine type of thing to record. He programs the drum machine and then he sends it to me. I listen to it and we bounce things back and forth. That’s what we usually do.

But for the next album, we’re probably gonna record the drums in a studio in Dallas since the drummer Matt [Thompson] is from Dallas, and King lives there. That’s the most convenient thing to find a studio there to track the drums and come over to track the guitars as well so King could attend the process. Maybe the bass too – I don’t know. We’ll see. Pontus has got his own home recording studio too so he could record that.

I usually record my leads by myself anyways. Andy is the same. He’s more focused. I don’t mind doing it in the privacy of my own studio,” said Wead.

Now, King has his own studio so he could do his vocals there. Then we decided him coming over to Sonic Train Studios, which is the name of my studio in Varberg. We’re going to mix and master the album right there,” added LaRocque.

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

Photo Credit: Hillarie Jason

He gave a preview of their forthcoming album: “I mean it’s going to be the King Diamond stuff…that’s for sure. But when it comes to lyrics and stuff, I don’t really know what he has in mind yet. He told us he has some ideas but nothing I want to talk about right now.

In terms of King Diamond’s health, LaRocque had praises on this subject for him. “He’s better than ever, I would say. He has to take care of himself but when it comes to his physical things, it’s like wow…he’s doing so much better. Eating healthier and all of that stuff….quit smoking, difference in performance.

What about King’s love of coffee? He claimed in past interviews that coffee and cigarettes, which he has since quit smoking, were the secret to his voice. “Not that much any more. He’s like…cleaned up!,” LaRocque said with a laugh.

I don’t know if that’s a good secret or not. I think now he realized that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.

By Rei Nishimoto

Underground Shall Prevail- Jungle Rot

jungle rot 2015 promo_638

Jungle Rot knows a thing or two about death metal. Having eleven years of experience touring and surviving in the trenches of the underground death metal scene, they have slugged it out with various crowds and can prove their place within the scene. Their latest albumOrder Shall Prevail continues the streak of roots death metal they are known to power through.

Sticking to what they know best is playing old school Midwestern style death metal without steering away from their roots. Jungle Rot come from a scene that is often overlooked but still produce strong underground bands with diehard fans who support their scene.

Guitarist Jimmy Genenz talks about what makes it work there. “I’ll tell you why. The kids who were old school 20 years ago are still old school. That’s why. There’s a lot of beer drinking hell raisers there. They just want death metal.

The Midwest is tight. We get overlooked a lot. Everybody’s look for the band that’s furthest away. They must be cool because they’re from far away. It takes more than lifting weights and tattoos and hair cuts to be a metal band. Every major city’s got their new flavor of the month deathcore thing.

Jungle Rot at Rockstar Mayhem (via Facebook)

Jungle Rot at Rockstar Mayhem (via Facebook)

He shared how the band persevered over time, while shuffling drummers and making things work internally.

The first ten years of Jungle Rot was very cataclysmic – members coming, members going. That’s probably why the band didn’t take off at that time, because there was a lot of interest but they couldn’t do the tours. They couldn’t find anybody.

It’s not easy. You can’t find somebody to drop their job for six weeks and take off for minimal pay. You really gotta love it. When me and Geoff [Bub – guitars] joined the band about eleven years ago, the three of us stuck together as a core and that’s been the longest core we’ve had in Jungle Rot. In the eleven years we’ve been in Jungle Rot, we’ve only been through three drummers. The drummer situation’s always been the weirdest. I don’t know. Hopefully Joey [Muha, ex-Threat Signal] will stick around. He’s a good kid. He’s a great drummer. Let’s hope for the best.

By Rei Nishimoto

Staying Underground: Jungle Rot

jungle rot

Sticking it out for eleven years doing old school death metal take a lot of heart and dedication, and for Kenosha, WI based Jungle Rot, they have been slugging it out producing blue collar style brutality and never letting down from it. They have released their ninth full length release Order Shall Prevail (out now via Victory Records) and continue to wave the flag for underground Midwestern death metal.

Aside from the music, the band is taking part on the Rockstar Mayhem Festivalacross North America this summer, and places them in front of a slightly different audience than the underground death metal crowds they were used to playing for. But being a band up for challenges, they were ready to confront this head on.

This is the first time we’ve stepped outside of the underground,” said guitarist Jimmy Genez. “We definitely like playing underground. That’s just home. The label popped up – ‘We’re sponsoring the second stage. Do you want to be involved?’ We’re like sure. Why not? It’s a good chance to get some exposure. A lot of people have seen us but probably never heard us before. That’s a good thing. Will we ever completely out of it? Probably not and I’m ok with that. I’ve been doing this a long time. I think I’ve reached the level unless Slayer asked me to join, I’m never going to be in a band that big. [At least] nothing I started anyways. I don’t have it in me. I’m not a 25 year old kid spending a lot of time fliering on the streets. I’m 40. I don’t have time for that.

While the Rockstar Mayhem Festival is not solely focused on death metal, the band saw an opportunity to play for younger fans of extreme music but other styles as well.

This is going to be good for the band. It’s good exposure. We’re team players with the label. This is definitely a first for us. It kind of sucks to play 25 minutes and just breaking a sweat and it’s time to get off. This is definitely new and we’re ok with it.

Will it be odd not seeing a sea of death metal logos everywhere? “It’s different but we don’t mind different. We want lots of different people to hear our music. I know there’s all kinds of metalheads. There’s pat stubs and stinky fucks and more hardcore Slipknot types. We like to think we can bring something to the table.

jungle rot prevailcd

They began working on Order Shall Prevail immediately after completing the touring cycle for their last album (2013’s Terror Regime). Sticking to a formula that worked best for them, they created another powerful album that longtime fans have grown to know them for.

Right after we released the last one and we did a little touring for it, we sat down and started writing. We started getting some stuff grooving on it. The writing process is pretty easy for us. It’s what you think it would be. It’s a couple of guys getting together, talk, smoke weed and jam. We just write riffs, record them, piece them together, see what works with what riff, mumble tracking the vocals and see if the vocals are strong there. It’s pretty simple.

We didn’t go into any different mindset with this record. We knew we wanted to top the last two. Of course any band will tell you that their latest album is their best album, but I truly believe it is. It’s got everything on there that Jungle Rot’s known for. It’s got the fast thrashy shit, the slower headbangers, the couple mosh riffs…it’s got everything.”

One highly publicized song on Order Shall Prevail is “Fight Where You Stand,” which features Max Cavalera (ex-Sepultura, currently of Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and Killer Be Killed) on guest vocals.

My old friend Joe Nunez used to play drums for Soulfly. He’s from my area. He’d come home and we’d hang out. He would say ‘I know you don’t believe me but the Cavaleras love Jungle Rot. They’d listen to it on the bus, the kids love it.’ Nah I don’t believe it. I never believed him. We played 70,000 Tons Of Metal and we’re playing and I look down and there’s Max banging his head. I was like fuck yeah! That’s cool.

Right after we got off the stage, he and his wife came up to us and they introduced themselves – we’re big fans, blah, blah, blah. It was amazing. I kept in touch and I hit Gloria up and asked if Max would be interested in doing some vocals with us. They were coming to Milwaukee in like a week. She said yeah Max is totally down. We got a laptop and a couple of mics and met him on the tour bus and got his tracks. It was pretty easy. He was really into it. He had ideas he wanted to try.

It was kind of cool having a legend like Max Cavalera sing my lyrics too. I listen to it and like ‘wow. He’s singing to something I wrote.’ It’s pretty cool.

Another change came within their lineup as they enlisted a new drummer (Joey Muha) for this album. Being no stranger to drummer changes, they quickly made the shift and found his enthusiasm to give them an added charge atop of their already energetic sound.

We’re like the Spinal Tap of death metal,” he said, about the drummer changes. “Jesse [Beahler] played on the last two albums and is a great kid. He wanted to move on and try different things. He’s really a tech drummer – really into crazy techniques and stuff. Jungle Rot wasn’t a thing for him. I’m sure playing in the band helped his playing a little bit, because there’s a certain tightness involved. He was a great drummer. He wanted to move on and try different things. Plus he lived far away too.

We got our buddy Joey [Muha] from Threat Signal. He’s from Canada. He’s a good friend of the band. He’s a good hard working kid. He’s really hungry for it. He takes a lot of pressure off of the older guys in the band. He’s out there running around finding the production guys, doing the guest lists – you don’t have to do that and it’s nice.

If you buy a Jungle Rot record, you know what you’re getting into. It’s definitely not a tech-death twist anywhere. It’s not going to happen. It’s gonna be solid headbanging.

By Rei Nishimoto

Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015: Live at San Manuel Amphitheatre, Devore, CA

rockstar mayhem fest 2015

The return of King Diamond on a larger stage became the somewhat saving grace on a somewhat inconsistent Rockstar Mayhem Festival 2015 lineup that otherwise lacked the punch of previous editions.

King Diamond, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

King Diamond, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Following his headlining run last fall, King Diamond brought out featured characters from various points in his career (Grandma from Them and Conspiracy), as well as blowing through longtime favorites such as ‘Sleepless Nights’ and keeping diehard fans on their feet. King himself looked and sounded powerful throughout their hour long set, as he powered through song after song, and immediately won the crowd over.

Slayer, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Slayer, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

After beginning their set with a laser show with a variety of Slayer logos flying above the stage, they broke into ‘Repentless’ (the title song from their forthcoming album in September), as well as their two other previously released yet new songs (‘Implode’ and ‘When The Stillness Comes’). Much of their set list consisted of staple tunes from past set lists, which they powered through and get the eager fans on their feet. Imagery of missiles and word from various songs (the chorus of ‘God Hates Us All’ from ‘Disciple’) flashes throughout their set and amped up the crowd.

Crowd at Mayhem Festival 2015, Devore CA - photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Crowd at Mayhem Festival 2015, Devore CA – photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Hellyeah, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Hellyeah, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

The rest of the main stage featured a mixed response to Hellyeah and Devil Wears Prada’s strong set battling set times crossed with side stage headliners Kissing Candice and Feed Her To The Sharks playing at the same time at the top of the lawn area.

Thy Art Is Murder, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Thy Art Is Murder, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Code Orange, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Code Orange, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

The Victory Records side stage (one stage versus multiple stages on past years) featured a vast array of artists ranging from brief yet powerful sets from Jungle Rot and Thy Art Is Murder, alongside new faces such as Sworn In, Shattered Sun and Code Orange joining into the mix as some of the up and comers within the scene.

Sworn In, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Sworn In, photo©Kevin Estrada / kevinestrada.com

Overall, Rockstar Mayhem Festival endured a hiccup year lacking a strong enough headliner and support acts with drawing power. The long run will see how many of these acts will overcome this and be a band to look out for. As for now, time will tell whether this was a good move or not by the organizers of this festival.

 

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WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO

PHOTOS BY KEVIN ESTRADA PHOTOGRAPHY

Jungle Rot – Order Shall Prevail

jungle rot prevailcd

Jungle Rothas been one of the most consistent bands in death metal for over two decades. The fact that they are not top of mind when talking about the best American death metal acts is a shame for how hard they have worked. Added to the fact that their thrashy, power-groove flavored style has always harkened back to the earliest death metal years, while current popular tastes favor the more flashy technical bands. All that being equal, Jungle Rot always turns out solid albums, and their new one Order Shall Prevail (Victory) is no different.

The best thing about Jungle Rot is they know where they live and breathe: the grinding, grooving mid-tempo jams that make everyone headbang and mosh. Starting with the Slayer-tastic ‘Doomsday’, they serve notice that yes, the`Rot is back! Vocalist David Matrise’s militaristic howling bark has always stood out to me. The second track ‘Paralyzed Prey’ has an angular riff from guitarist Geoff Bub and some tasty soloing going on as well. ‘Blood Revenge’ is one of the best songs on the album. Just a classic badass cut. It has a maelström of cool parts that get better on every listen. ‘Fight Where You Stand’ is a deathy speed metal jam and features Max Cavalera on guest vocals. The Max connection makes sense since Jungle Rot has clearly been influenced by early Sepultura albums such as Beneath The Remains and Arise (both Roadrunner). Cavalera and Matrise’s two vocal ranges mesh beautifully too, in a too often not heard type of team up for death metal.

As you would imagine, the title track is a claustrophobic feeling affair, warning of a dystopian future not too far off for us. You can almost hear this being a huge sing-a-long song live. Drummer Jesse Beahler, who dominates on this album, is on point here. Other top tracks include ‘The Dread Pestilence’ ‘Cast The First Stone’, and ‘Nuclear Superiority’.

At this point in the game, Jungle Rot is not going to change up the formula too much, yet stay true to themselves. Their straight-ahead approach should help win over fans all summer as they appear on the Victory Records Stage at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.

7.0/10

KEITH CHACHKES