So far, 2020 has been a cruel mistress as the reaper has claimed several giants of the drumming world. One that hits us particularly hard is the sudden death of Wiliam “Reed” Mullin of Corrosion of Conformity, at the young age of 53. Reed was not only a stellar drummer and musician, but he was also almost universally loved by the Hardcore Punk, Thrash Metal, Doom and Stoner Rock community, which is both amazing and insane. It just goes to show the talent Reed had and the breadth of different styles he helped encompass with C.O.C. Equal to his impact on record and behind the drumkit and the microphone, Mullin impacted a ton of people in the scene with his kindness and sense of humor. Continue reading
In a new interview with Revolver, Kirk Windstein has confirmed he will reunite with Stoner Metal supergroup Down for the bands’ upcoming 2020 shows to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of their debut album NOLA. Kirk stepped down from the band in 2013 to focus on Crowbar and his family life. He also has his debut solo album coming in 2020. He was replaced by Bobby Landgraf, DOWN’s former guitar tech who was previously in Gahdzilla Motor Company, a 1990s outfit also featuring Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Watchtower), and Honky. Continue reading
Full disclosure here, when I saw the words “acoustic EP”, my toes curled up so far they nestled in my intestines and set off a chain reaction of cringing and shuddering. While King Creature may have established as a sturdy, powerful, energetic Blues Rocking act of growing repute, the acoustic EP is a difficult beast to digest (even without toes clogging up the tracts), with very few examples coming close to Alice In Chains Sap / Jar of Flies (Columbia) levels, and many more being indistinguishable filler littering the bargain bin of many a record store. Continue reading
Corrosion Of Conformity has added extra dates to their already planned UK tour with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, and Black Moth. Tickets for COC headline shows in Dublin, Limerick and Belfast are on sale now. The band continues to tour behind early 2018’s excellent comeback album No Cross, No Crown (Nuclear Blast). It is their first album with Pepper Keenan since 2005’s In The Arms Of God. Continue reading
It has been 13 years since Pepper Keenan’s last album with Corrosion of Conformity; 2005’s excellent and under-rated In the Arms of God (Sanctuary). In the meantime, the rest of COC ploughed on as a trio, releasing the passable pair of Corrosion of Conformity and IX (both Candlelight); two records which tried to combine their early Punk and Thrash roots with the groove-laden rock and metal of their latter days, to only middling success. Continue reading
Photo by Meg Loyal Photography
It’s been a dozen years since Corrosion Of Conformity recorded new material with Pepper Keenan at the helm, but the long wait for fans is almost over. The legends will be releasing their highly anticipated new album, No Cross No Crown, on January 12th via Nuclear Blast, and I recently got to speak with Pepper about his return to the band, the new record, and so much more. Continue reading
As the earth shook and the ground parted, so did the gates to another world open, spewing forth demons of the Blackest of the Black. Bands, fans, vendors and the occasional celebrity descended upon Oak Canyon Park—a quaint little camping spot nestled in the hills of Silverado, California—for the Blackest of the Black Festival. This gathering of the depraved and debauched was the brainchild of none other than Jersey native and trailblazer of horror punk and doom-goth-metal, Glenn Danzig. Opening day of the festival coincided with the release of Danzig’s new album, Black Laden Crown (Nuclear Blast Records), his follow-up to 2015’s Skeletons. Continue reading
After a wobbly Saturday morning start, Akercocke carried on from where they left off a few years ago, improving and gaining/regaining fans as they went along. Rotting Christ sounded fantastic, The King is Blind completely owned the second stage for forty brutal minutes, and Fear Factory treated the crowd to all of 1995’s Demanufacture album while singer Burton C Bell tried his best to keep his voice from cracking. Paradise Lost played a set filled with heavier material, and Gojira stunned the majority of the audience with a set that not even headliners Mastodon could come close to touching. A typically eclectic set, the Atlantan four-piece struggled to get any momentum going, and even with the aid of some fancy video screens, only occasionally showed signs of being genuine headliners. A new version of old UK thrashers Acid Reign also managed to steal Mastodon’s thunder all the way from the second stage, playing one of the fastest and most enjoyable thrash sets of the festival while singer, ‘H’, looked resplendent in his shocking pink suit and top hat.
And so to Sunday, and to the wonders of Ghost Bath. Only possessing the vaguest of knowledge about this band, I was simply unprepared for the next forty highly confusing (and occasionally eye-wateringly funny) minutes. Imagine a Black Metal band fronted by the shrieking goat from YouTube and you’d have a good idea of what I witnessed that morning.
Although the pedigree of the members of Metal Allegiance is not in question, I’m afraid the same cannot be said of their collective efforts. Cover version after horrible cover version was mauled and discarded, as people turned to each other in disbelief and disappointment. Playing all of 1996 album Nemesis Divina in full, Black Metallers Satyricon put in one of the performances of the weekend, even in the blazing sunshine. Finland’s Whispered took to the stage in their Japanese costumes and make-up and proceeded to win over an entire tent of confused onlookers. Technical Thrashers Vektor followed and even more people left with smiling faces. Symphony X gave everyone on the main stage plenty to sing along to, but Anthrax obliterated their memory in seconds. The last time the New York outfit played here in 2013, it was all fairly average, maybe even disappointing. But not this time. They were on fire from the second they launched into ‘You Gotta Believe’ until they left the stage to ‘Indians’. Nobody even cared that they dropped a couple of favourites in order to showcase newer material.
Even headliners Slayer struggled to keep up. Again, like Anthrax, it was a much improved performance from 2013, but things seemed to go a little awry in the latter stages of their set. For some reason, ‘Hell Awaits’ became an instrumental after the first chorus, and Tom’s demeanour changed from happy and smiling to fairly disinterested around the same time. Still, when they came back out for the encore of ‘South of Heaven’, ‘Raining Blood’, and ‘Angel of Death’ everything was quickly forgiven and forgotten. It was left up to New Orleans band Goatwhore to close the weekend on the second stage, and they did so imperiously with one of the loudest, heaviest hours of the festival.
From the almost comical amount of crowd surfers (Acid Reign alone clocked 263 in one hour – an average of over four per minute) to the spontaneous chant of “MAN IN YELLOW”, directed to one of the security staff stood on the scaffolding before Slayer, to the glorious weather and generally contagious good feeling of everyone in attendance (even a lot of the campsite toilets were still usable by the Monday morning!), there was only one place to be last week.
There were a few odd little problems, of course. Since the festival ended, a story has emerged that a girl was sexually assaulted in her tent, and the amount of moshpit idiocy seems to be on the increase again. Not, this time, from the shirtless circle-pitters and kung-fu merchants, but this time from the people who stand on the barrier all day, doing their best to punch and deliberately tear clumps of hair from any crowd surfer (male and female) unlucky enough to invade their personal space as they get dragged over the front. Making sure at all times, of course, that security have a firm hold of their target first so that they can’t retaliate.
The worst thing this year though was the repeated loop of the same bloody music videos on the big screen all weekend. When I arrived in the main arena on the Friday, I said “hey, this new Wormrot song’s great. I’ll definitely be getting the album”. By the time Saturday evening came around, I never wanted to hear fucking thing again. And as for the constant exposure to the videos of Wakrat and Blackberry Smoke, let’s just say that if I ever meet either of those bands in person, then it won’t end pleasantly for either of them.
Overall though, and yet again, Bloodstock Open Air was a roaring success.
Roll on next year.
WORDS BY GARY ALCOCK
For those of you who may be unaware, Bloodstock Open Air is a UK festival which began at the Derby Assembly Rooms in 2001. After four successful years, the decision was made to turn one festival into two. One would remain at the same venue, while a bold, open air venture would take place at Catton Hall in nearby Walton-on-Trent. The outdoor festival proved to be a hit, the indoor show was subsequently dropped, and the annually held event has gone on to expand in both size and stature ever since.
Thursday’s festivities were kept fairly low-key as usual, with short, enjoyable sets from Karybdis and Sumer, with Ireland’s Psykosis left to really get the party started. The evening was rounded off by the newly renamed Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (formerly Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band), the former Motorhead guitarist ploughing through a selection of Motorhead covers plus ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie, ‘Sweet Leaf’ by Black Sabbath, and ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ by ZZ Top. Joined on stage by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider and Pepper Keenan of COC for a truly memorable version of ‘Born To Raise Hell’, the band eventually brought things to a rousing climax with a cover of ‘Silver Machine’ by Hawkwind.
Friday is where the entertainment really begins at Bloodstock though, and you don’t get much more entertaining than songs about unicorns and space wizards followed by a battle cry of “We are Gloryhammer and we sing songs about hammers!” Evil Scarecrow followed, and you simply haven’t lived until you’ve held your pincers in the air and scuttled from side to side for the mighty ‘Crabulon’. Corrosion of Conformity played a typically crowd-pleasing set of which my only criticism would be ‘Clean My Wounds’ being used as the backbone for a rambling, ten minute long jam session. Venom‘s Legendary bassist/vocalist, Cronos, snarled and joked his way through their set, but the band let themselves down with a poor choice of songs. No such problems from Behemoth though, who played latest album ‘The Satanist’ in its entirety before finishing with a blistering encore of ‘Ov Fire and the Void’ and ‘Chant For Ezkaton’.
Britain has always held a special place in Twisted Sister‘s heart and it really showed in their last ever performance here. Drawing the biggest ever crowd for a Bloodstock headline act, it was the perfect send off for one of the finest American Heavy Metal bands to ever grace a UK stage. Diamond Head finished off the evening on the second stage in competent, if unspectacular style. At least they didn’t sound like a tribute act to themselves like they did the last time I saw them.
WORDS BY GARY ALCOCK
For the first time in their career leading up to an album, Clutch really pulled back the curtain with a series of behind the scenes videos. Clutch discussed their writing and recording processes openly, a tried to articulate the intrinsic elements that makes Clutch what they are. It was refreshing. We asked Jean-Paul Gaster next about stepping out of the groups’ comfort zone collectively and what that added to the album:
I think we’re getting better at it. When we first got into this thing, we didn’t really know what the hell we were doing. Those things you are describing, those intangibles, you can’t really verbalize those things because you don’t really fully consensualize what’s going on. We’ve been around for so long, we’ve played so many shows, made so many records. I think we are better at those things, and just talking about the music. I think we are better at that as well.
With opportunity to talk shop with JP about drums, and knowing he is into a lot of Jazz and blues guys, and a lot of kinds of music that other people normally don’t call attention. JP discussed his favorite drummers, and who’s influenced him. He also mentioned, and who is contemporary that is influencing him now:
Early on, I had the opportunity to see some really great drummers that really formed the way that I look at the drums, my perspective of that. One of the first guys I ever saw was Elvin Jones, and I had the opportunity to see him play many times. I think one of the things that most inspired me about him was that for me, he was greater than just a jazz drummer. He transformed the way that people looked at the drum kit. For me he was very influential and continues to be very inspiring. I got to see a lot of go-go shows early on in Washington D.C. For me, that music is very important. I got to see great drummers like Brandon Finnely and JuJu House. These were guys who played incredibly strong groove, incredibly strong pocket. A lot of times when I’m up there playing, I still think about those guys. I saw Earl from The Bad Brains. He was great. We got to tour with some of my favorite drummers too. Igor Cavalera, from Sepultura. We did a tour with Pantera, got to see Vinnie Paul. These guys really informed the way that I look at the drums and these things just come out in the music today.
One thing about Jean-Paul that the average fan might not know is that he doesn’t single out brands that he is endorsed by. his philosophy of drumming is much the same as his approach to gear:
I don’t think you ever really reach that point. If you ever get to the point where you think to yourself man, I now everything there is to know about this particular drum or this particular style, it probably means that you don’t know anything about that particular style. For me, it’s about the process. It’s not about the end result. It’s not about “I’m going to do these exercises and I’m going to master this style.” That’s not really the goal. For me, the goal is to go through the process, to learn that stuff, internalize that stuff and then make it your own thing. For me, that’s never going to end. I never see an end in sight. Sometimes it can be incredibly frustrating, but I love it.
You can catch Clutch on the road with Lamb Of God and Corrosion of Conformity this spring.
[amazon asin=B011CKVTCE&template=iframe image1]