Relapse Records has released a fifteenth anniversary of the technical Death Metal legends Necrophagist’s album Epitaph. The band toured the world, played festivals and tour the US on The Summer Slaughter tour. Sadly, this was the bands’ final record as of now and the group has achieved mythical status in the underground. You can order new bundles from Relapse at the link below. Continue reading →
Oh look, Hate Eternal has a new album on the way. Sweet, let’s see how long it takes before I run out of adjectives to describe brutal Death Metal. On Upon Desolate Sands (Season of Mist) I think I made it to ‘Portal of Myriad’ only to realize I was running on fumes. I’m not sure what kind of pact Erik Rutan struck up with Cthulu, but it’s given him access to enough pulverizing song ideas to power seven long-players and produce countless Death Metal standouts. Continue reading →
In case you were caught unawares, the “tech” in the tech death sub-genre of metal means technical. It’s an important distinction to make since death metal can be many things, not all of it deserves the lofty label. The earliest purveyors of the style might have been extreme, and well accomplished at playing their instruments, but not living up to the name. Later bands definitely upped the ante on what could be accomplished and now we are talking about an umbrella of bands that could mean Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Death, Beyond Creation, Gorguts, Neuraxis, Obscura, Cryptopsy, and many more. Hailing from the small island nation of Malta, comes Abysmal Torment, who want you to know in no uncertain terms they can carry the weight. Their new album The Misanthrope (Willowtip) is a brutal exploration of the style in every track.Continue reading →
In contemporary terms when we think of Progressive Metal, often the first thought (and arguably nowadays the most prevalent style) is of the overtly technical, calculated and near mechanical sounding; that or the likes of Opeth with their marriage of extremity and growled vocals with progressive rock’s expansive structures and complex arrangements. Beforehand, years ago, progressive metal was arguably spearheaded by a vastly different type of beast; the likes of Queensryche with their thoughtful yet anthemic nature and armed with towering, often falsetto vocalists. Howling Sycamore certainly remembers this time well, as their self-titled début (Prosthetic) shows a love and influence from such time period as much as it marries with more modern stylings; creating a sound which in today’s progressive metal climate, actually stands out effectively.Continue reading →
Released twelve years ago, Albert Mudrian’s anthology of Death Metal has stood the test of time; an engaging read taking you on a loose zig-zag through the birth and, um, death of Death Metal. Unveiled through the eyes of its’ progenitors, there is method to the tale that begins in England, moves to Tampa, takes in Entombed and Scandinavia and reserves a special mention for the oft overlooked Dutch input of Gorefest and Pestilence.
Undertaking a task as complicated as trying to find the true source of the Nile (Karl Sanders – badoom tish!), Mudrian begins his tale by trying to uncover the birth of what became known as Death Metal, settling on Napalm Death and their 1985 era hybrid (Siege meets Discharge meets Celtic Frost) of hardcore punk, thrash and a desire to be harder, faster, sicker than everyone else. The book then focuses on the influence of their Scum release (Earache) on other vital artists, like Morbid Angel (via Pete Sandoval, then in Terrorizer) and the incestuous, small nature of the scene where, due to tape trading and pen palling, most of Death Metal’s predominant protagonists all knew and inspired each other.
As the tales unfurl, you find yourself swept up and wanting to revisiting all the classic albums that are mentioned – Possessed ‘s Seven Churches (Combat), Pestilence Consvming Impvlse (Roadrunner), MassacreFrom Beyond (the story of Massacre’s signing to Earache being another fun aside revealed in the book) and Master Master (Displeased) forming part of my own soundtrack while reading.
The re-issue picks things up as the roots of recovery were just sprouting through the top soil at the tail end of the 90’s, highlighting the rise of a new DM general in Nile. After touching on the diversification of Death Metal of this millennium, including the mind-sucking brilliance of Portal and their focus on eldritch, dark atmospheres, Mudrian covers the popularity of technical Death Metal (a section that introduced me to Necrophagist and Obscura as you can’t help but be enthused to check all the recommends as you go) over the last decade. The tome now concludes by covering the return to the scene of the apex predators with Carcass, At The Gates, Death (DTA) and others reforming to reap the benefits of their respective legacies and the rewards of the now lucrative and high profile festival market, and to satisfy an urge that, in the case of Bill Steer, they didn’t even know they had. If you read the original, the added content is an agreeable appendix.
Peppered with short anecdotes, but above all an informative and enjoyable potted history of Death Metal, all imparted with the enthusiastic love that a doting parent has for a child, Choosing Death is an affectionate, if whistlestop, walk through of the story of Death Metal to date. In the authors’ own words, he is “Just a fan. Just like you.” He just happens to be a damn good writer who has written TheImprobable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. And updated it.
Marco Minnemann is a talented man comfortable wearing many hats. renowned for his drumming in many high-profile projects such as The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Levin/Minneman/Rudess (LMR), and countless others, Marco is one of the most respected musician in the world. His solo career has been equally fulfilling and affords him opportunities to be in total control of the creative process, playing all the instruments as well as handling production duties. His new album Celebration (Lazy Bones Recordings) has just been released, and we conducted a Q & A interview over email, to learn more about his creative process, how he deals with challenges in the studio, and the sound of the next album from The Aristocrats.
Celebration is a great title that conjures a lot to mind. What does the title mean to you and what creative frame of mind were you in when you began to write the album?
It started off as a writing process for an album with a fairly dark vibe around it, which I wanted to name ‘Above the Roses’. After re-listening I just didn’t feel that the album was complete the way it sounded like. So I kept writing songs and then basically made a selection of songs I thought would make a statement. And all of a sudden, voila. I had one album that I called ‘Celebration’, leading through aggressive, sparkling and into film music like vibes and missions. And then there’s the more vocal laden, dark song focused ‘Above The Roses’ I just finished now, it will come out as a special vinyl and download edition, but more of that later. ‘Celebration’ just got released and needs the attention now.
Since the topic is partially about Roses, in songs symbolically and in artwork, I thought that Celebration might be a good title.
Marco Minnemann, by Lasse Holie
The album is definitely diverse, but has some of your heaviest songs of your solo albums. Is that a by- product of some of your other bands you are in, rubbing off on your solo work?
That clearly would be a no, as I think that some of the material on Celebration is actually heavier than what we do with the bands I currently play in.
I mean, if we’re playing the category game, maybe then Joe Satriani could be Rock, Aristocrats instrumental Rock/Jazz, And Steven Wilson more well, prog and ambient pop/rock.
On my albums I just really compose for what is needed for ‘the mission’.
You have definitely “arrived” on Celebration as a vocalist and lyricist. Do you think this was an important step for you artistically?
Thank you. But if you look into my solo back catalogue that so far holds 14 albums, I wrote, played and sang as well. But thanks again for appreciating.
As you have become more hands on (creating, playing/tracking, producing/mixing/mastering) with each new project is it more troublesome to wear so many hats, or a relief to be able to oversee it all with confidence?
It’s great I think, because when you know exactly what you want and are able to translate it, instrumentally and production wise, then it’s a fairly seamless and rewarding process. See, my studio is pretty much dialed in to my needs. So once I have a sound in mind I really just record, then add tracks, basically mixing while doing this, and soon the ‘house’ comes together :-).And honestly, it’s so cool that meanwhile you can carry amazing production softwares in your note book. Then along with a few good audio interfaces and outboard recording gear, you can do deliver a great production, that would’ve costed a fortune about 20 years ago.
Is there a style of music you have yet to incorporate into your solo work, that you haven’t yet, but would like to try?
Hmm, I don’t really think that way. I really just do and play what I feel fits the vibe of the composition.
On Celebration, is there a single performance you can name as most gratifying to you?
Hahaha, well, I was doubling my vocals to that guitar solo I recorded on ‘How Can I Help You?’ And I’m not really a trained singer, so fuck, I was punching in numerous times in order to nail that thing. And then later I listened back and couldn’t help laughing, because it came out quite cool, and I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off at first :-). Also, I’m quite happy on how the vibe in ‘4000’ succeeded. I used the chains at the port in Marseille, sampled them and then put them in to additional reverb, undermining the vibe of these fairly ‘evil’ and dark vibes and chords in that song. I wanted to create a haunted environment. And that one came out quite intense I think, as I wanted to achieve it..
You have an intense touring schedule this year with all of your many projects. How do you keep your sanity on the road?
Girls :-). hahaha. What can I say…. well, seriously, with a good and professional organization you learn to feel at home on the road. Good and comfortable travels and schedules are important.
What can you tell us about the upcoming new album from The Aristocrats?
It’s pretty much contains compositions more focused on song structures, rather than soloing, well, hat happens of course too in places, hahaha. But Tres Caballeros is a tad different once again from the last album. Actually, the difference is that this time we have a Spanish album title and wore hats in the desert :-)).
Necrophagist is like the Loch Ness Monster of metal! Do you ever have contact with Muhammed (Suiçmez)? Do you think we will ever hear from that band again, or any other project from Muhammed and yourself?
Well, can’t say too much there. Necrophagist is Muhammed’s project/band, he’s a fiend of mine. But the rest about any release can only be assumed. And I have a lot of things going on myself here, that occupy all of this and next year as well, which is a good problem to have I think 🙂
Celebration is a word that conjures a lot to your mind when you hear it or read it. On Marco Minnemann’s (The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Steven Wilson, LMR) new solo album Celebration (Lazy Bones Recordings), it is Marco clearly doing the celebrating. Not only are these 17 tracks (plus one bonus cut) a great example of Marco’s world-class drumming talents, he plays all of the instruments, provides vocals, co-produced the album, and even mixed and mastered some of it too. The music is also a great reason to get amped, as it displays the many shades of his taste in music, and has something for fans of his entire body of work from his career.
Thirty seconds into the lead track ‘Miami’, and immediately you can tell this album is going to be a next level effort. Crushing guitar riffs, spastic drums, soaring melodies, this is not too far from his work with Levin/Minnemann/Rudess. There is also some funky, odd free Jazz moments that sneak in here and there; be it an odd horn vamp or dramatic Rhodes piano flourish. The title-track is next and is a straight up heavy rock song, with tripped out lyrics and a vocals from Marco. He has sung lead before, but really finds his voice on this album. Continuing the heaviness, ‘It Always Seems’ at least has DNA essence in the monster riffs in common with a few early Helmet songs, before veering into a breezy alt-rock chorus. Marco has no issues going chameleon from one movement to the next, picking up whatever mood inspires him.
Tracks such as ‘How Can I Help You’ and ‘Print Club’ are more of the angular, frenetic prog rock one expects from Marco, but there are some astounding departures stylistically too. ‘The Greatest Gift in Life’ is a lovely pure pop song that would be a big radio hit if given the chance. ‘Everyone Loves A Rainbow’ is a somber piano piece that comes two versions, each with English or Spanish spoken word piece over it. Meanwhile ‘Amina’s Birthday’ is another Jazzy, epic track. ‘Better Place’ puts the exclamation point on the release with more heavy licks and smashing beats.
Turning in the heaviest, yet most diverse album of his career, it’s great to hear what one of the hardest working guys in music will come up with next.
Marco Minnemann, photo courtesy of Lazy Bones Recordings
German extreme progressive metal supergroup Alkaloid is stream their debut album The Malkuth Grimoire below.
Consisting of a pedigree of extreme musicians, including current and former members of Necrophagist, Obscura, Spawn of Possession, Aborted, Dark Fortress, God Dethroned, Blotted Science and Noneuclid, Alkaloid set out to push the boundaries of progressive, extreme music on their full-length debut. The group also decided to self-record and self-release The Malkuth Grimoire via a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com.
Morean (Dark Fortress, Noneuclid) – ¬Vocals, Guitars Christian Muenzner (Spawn of Possession, Ex¬-Obscura, Ex¬-Necrophagist) ¬- Guitars Danny Tunker (Aborted, Ex¬-God Dethroned) ¬- Guitars Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Noneuclid) ¬- Bass Hannes Grossmann (Blotted Science, Ex¬-Obscura, Ex¬-Necrophagist) –¬ Drums
To say that Marco Minnemann is one of the greatest drummers in the world would be an understatement. Putting together an impressive body of work in progressive rock, and metal with a who’s who of bands a bands and projects such as The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, Adrian Belew, Levin Minnemann Rudess, Necrophagist and many more, Marco ought to be even more of a household name. Perhaps owing to his humility and his German roots, Marco is a rarity in this business: proud but well grounded, appreciative for everything his talent has brought him in life. Promoting his new solo album, EEPS (Lazybones Records) Omar Cordy traded some thoughts with Marco for Ghost Cult via email.
How long was this project in the works?
I’m always writing music. It just belongs to my universe it seems, hahaha. So once there is enough material for an album ready I choose the songs for the right vibe and mission and then the thing will be completed. Eeps in particular was written and recorded mostly during the road in 2013 and at home January-February 2014.
As the sole creative force, what was the writing process like?
I usually write from a theme that sort of either way falls from the sky, in the form of a guitar riff, melody or groove, … Or from a vibe a purposely want to create. These things I never force, I just grab the best ideas when they show up and then build on it.
The songs I’ve heard have a very loose feel to them. Was a click track used or did you just “go for it”?
Half and half I’d say. I mainly use a click track, to keep a possible sequencer option open.
But I do like a feel that sounds ‘lively’, not to be confused with un-tightness , hahaha ;-)). I in fact like precision in playing and recording, but I leave a loose feel or also bleeding into microphones on certain tracks, as long as a groove feels right.
Did you use Roland V drums and or DW drums for the recording?
I used 2 different set ups: A DW cherry wood kit and a DW Jazz custom kit, both recorded in different rooms. On the track Eeps, the intro is in fact a Roland TD 20.
I dig the up-beatness of ‘OC/DC’, it feels like a playful 60’s era song. It just seems happy. Was that what you had in mind when you choose to make it the 1st video?
The first video was done by Scott Schorr and a friend of his. He also runs the label Lazybones Recordings and helped greatly with this album here.
And thanks for your nice words on OC/DC. That song was really just a fun experiment, playing everything in one take pretty much without giving a shit and detuning all instruments. I just wanted to see if that approach works and how it would sound like. So it’s just basically ‘controlled chaos’. But I’m happy that some people got it.
You’re mainly known as a drummer, will we be seeing more guitar session work from you in the future?
I’ve been playing guitar on my albums for almost 20 years now. So, ‘yes’, you’ll hear more guitar from me. For example on the LMR project (Levin Minnemann Rudess).
Do you find playing guitar makes it easier to write for yourself or with others?
Absolutely. When I write music on the guitar I really just focus on the drums later to compliment the song. Also when writing for the Aristocrats as an example I basically write for a ‘stringed’ trio.. And writing on a guitar on bass then, definitely helps to translate into the music that the trio is going for.
At this point in your career do you still find time to practice or are you too busy working with others?
Well, I think that composing, recording and performing really is an ongoing process, isn’t it? But I do practice things that I’m interested in and want to be able to explore of course. Also, I really play everyday, music just belongs there in everyday life it seems. And I feel like I’m missing something if I haven’t had a certain dose of it. Like food.
What other projects have you worked on recently that we should be on the look out for?
Hmmm, I’m touring with Joe Satriani right now. Then also with the Aristocrats. Recording wise there’s a new Steven Wilson album in the making. A new Aristocrats album and also Joe’s new recordings. So…, life won’t be boring it seems for a while ;-)).
What was your first concert you ever played?
My first concert I ever played was when I was 12 years old, my drum teacher at that time wanted me to go onstage and play a few songs. Man, and I was soooooo scared. I just sat there thinking ‘don’t fuck up… Just make it though the song… C’mon you can do it’. And then after I played a little solo spot within the song arrangement, people started to applaud. That’s when I basically ‘woke up’, and I saw all these smiling faces looking at me. And then all of sudden I didn’t want to leave the stage anymore, hahaha. It felt so rewarding that people brought the energy back in return to what I’ve worked for. So that moment pretty much defined that music is passion and a dedication for me.