At this stage in their career, Lamb of God can pretty much do what they want, when they want. And the Virginianatives have found a winning formula with their sound, which has been honed over nearly thirty years since they began life as Burn The Priest. Since the name change at the beginning of the millennium, Lamb of Godhave proven themselves as one of the premier contemporary metal bands, progressing from their earlier more death metal style, into the kings of modern groove metal, which has seen multiple Grammy nominations and some almighty tours including this year’s monster outing with Megadeth, Trivium and In Flames, which they are about to follow up with the likes of Killswitch Engage, Baroness, Spiritboxand Suicide Silence in support. (Read our reviews here and here).
Jake Oni, frontman of the band Oni had a chat with Ghost Cult’s Keefy outside of Irving Plaza in New York City, before their stop on their tour with Children Of Bodom, Abbath, and Exmortus. Jake talked about the tour, the crowd response to Oni overall, the Iron Shore album, their new label Black Light Media, one of his favorite bands The Human Abstract, and Japanese culture and its relation to the band. Iron Shore is out now on Metal Blade Records. Videography by Jonathan Arevalo for Ghost Cult Magazine.Continue reading →
Seeing that it is 2016, and it has been two years since Our Endless War, it seems that we are due for another studio album from Knoxville’s pride and joy, Whitechapel. And right on cue here it is in the form of Mark of the Blade (Metal Blade).
Young bands could stand to learn from that work ethic as it netted Whitechapel a Billboard Top 10 spot for Our Endless War. That’s a pretty awesome feat for a Metal Blade artist. If memory serves me right, the last time someone on that stable landed on such a lofty chart spot was As I Lay Dying. Yeah, that one didn’t end well.
Will Mark of the Blade spring the trick again? Yeah, probably. After all this is the album that’s been making headlines on metal news sites for containing clean vocals (‘Bring me Home,’ ‘Decennium’) and taking aim at elitists (uh, ‘Elitist Ones’).
Plus it follows the same game plan as Our Endless War and the self-titled before it. What’s that said game plan? It’s less deathcore or death metal and quickly making itself comfortable in the real estate that housed Devildriver for so long; “groove metal”. Who came up with that moniker? Hell, if I fucking know, but it’s certainly proved itself popular. To me it loosely translates to some kind of mutant post-thrash metal. I guess it became vogue in the aftermath of Pantera. If it truly is a subgenre, then its best albums are Burn My Eyes, Chaos A.D., and Wolverine Blues.
But you know what the funny part is? The best moments here are the non-groove bits. That’s not discounting tracks like ‘Dwell in the Shadows,’ ‘Venomous’ and the aptly titled ‘Tremors’ which will fit nicely along Whitechapel live staples like ‘The Saw is the Law.’ But what’s most impressive is that the clean vocals, albeit sparse, truly work. It’s not unlike in Lamb of God’s melodic turn in ‘Overlord.’ And the fact that they were feeling ballsy enough to try an instrumental in ‘Brotherhood’ that has some ‘The Call of Ktulu’ leanings to it.
So, it’s another solid release from Whitechapel, who will likely continue to forge onwards to decent sales and many a Summer tour. Groove metal be damned, there are plenty of cool moments here. I mean, I could do without ‘Mark of the Blade’ and ‘Elitist Ones,’ but there’s more than enough to make for those missteps. Now excuse me, I have to find more subgenres to dislike.
For many metalheads, and for this writer personally, December 8th 2004 is the day the music died. Maybe not completely, but a little piece of all of us fans of this thing we call metal music felt a loss at the news that Dimebag Darrell, beloved Pantera guitarist extraordinaire had been murdered on stage in Ohio. We are not going to use this space to recount what happened that fateful day since the story has been told enough already. Like many others, I remember where I was when I got the devastating news. I remember my time going to Pantera concerts like some people talk about religious experiences. I have lived and loved, made friends and lovers all around Pantera events and happenings, played their songs in my own bands on stages big and small, and hated every single cover of ‘Walk’, ever. Being a fan definitely made my life in metal better, and Dime was obviously part of that. I recall The Great Southern Trendkill (EastWest)getting leaked on WSOU in New Jersey and running a bell wire out of my projects window to try and get the station in clearer, just to record terrible sounding versions of those new songs. But Dime has passed away, and he’s not coming back, and neither is the band, no matter what people want to think about that topic. Rather than sulk in our collective misery about our lost hero, we want to revel in the greatness that Darrell gave out in life. What we will do is show some love for our fallen brother, as his light has certainly shone brighter than ever since his passing.
While much has been talked of Pantera’s blatant hair metal days and glammy bleached roots, (those records are actually really good in spots) one undeniable factor from the early days of Dimebag (or Diamond as he was then called) was that life was about having fun. Whether it was on stage in front of ten people or tens of thousands’, this guy lived to laugh and make others around him happy. It showed in his personal style if you ever met him, and it came up in his music over and over again. Fun. Fun is not a word that comes easily to the black garbed scowling-faced, long-haired, fist-banging mania of metalheads, but it is an element about this man that stands out to me. Fun! Dime was having fun and wanted the world to join in on the joke, at all times. Pantera followed Darrell and embodied this spirit, not just back-stage, but musically too. When metal was taking itself too seriously, there was this bunch of guys from the American south hamming up like you couldn’t believe, no matter how hardcore the music was.
Of course Dimebag was a master musician and it bled through from his writing and arranging down to his killer solos. Known as a great soloist, Dime’s lead guitar work both on record and in concert was the gold standard of the early-to-mid 90s in metal. As much as people still worship those Pantera albums, Dime has some other terrific performances worthy checking out. Dime was known for his many guest solos, including several prominent Anthrax albums (Stomp 442, Volume 8: The Threat is Real, & We’ve Come For You All). Even if you are not a fan of country music, I highly recommend checking out the Rebel Meets Rebel (Big Vin Records) album made with Pantera (minus Phil Anselmo) and outlaw country legend David Allen Coe. It is an album of surprising quality songs, hilarious topics, and many great guitar moments. Of course more people are acquainted with Dimebag’s post-Pantera band, Damageplan which was solid, but ultimately had songs more conducive to a live environment.
Naturally the wonderful personality that emanated from Darrell only made the devastation of senseless death that more hurtful and confusing to us all. All we can do on this date every year is celebrate the life he had and the music and laughs he left behind. Ghost Cult is honored and humbled to have photographer Evil Robb Noxious of Evil Robb Photography, a friend of Darrell and frequent Pantera photographer contribute some exclusive, never before seen pictures of Dimebag from his personal collection to this piece. Thanks for sharing these Robb!