As a proud Lancastrian all my life, it pains me to acknowledge the occasional superiority of bitter neighbours Yorkshire. One such area of supremacy is within the realm of Doom Metal: Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride have wielded the White Rose over some of the genre’s most memorable, emotional moments of the last thirty years and the latter’s erstwhile guitarist Hamish Glencross is determined to carry on that sound with his latest outfit Godthrymm. Debut album Reflections (Profound Lore Records) oozes the drama, power, and tragedy of his former band.Continue reading
Twin Cities, Minnesota based metal act Reflections will enter The Machine Shop this week with producer Will Putney to begin work on their yet-to-be-titled sophomore release for Good Fight Music / eOne Music, out Summer 2015. “When we heard we had the opportunity to work with Will we were all about it,” says frontman Jake Foster. “We’re huge fans of all The Machine Shop’s work.”
“For the first time, we’ve written an album where listening to it all the way through will tell you a story. After an eye opening year of touring while trying to maintain life at home, I feel that we have truly written our best music yet.”
Stream the official music video for “Vain Words From Empty Minds”, off their last LP Exi(s)t here.
The all new LP will be the follow up to the highly regarded Exi(s)t released by the band in 2013. That release debuted on the Billboard charts for the first time in the band’s history, most notably cracking the top 10 on the Heatseekers chart at #6. “The music that we have been working on is much more thought out and organized. We focused more on song structure and finding a balance of style that will separate us from everyone else.”
REFLECTIONS is: Jake Wolf // Patrick Somoulay // Charles Caswell // Francis Xayana // Nick Lona
Nursing a wicked bangover from the first night, I was already in scramble mode when I got to the venue for day two. We got there in time to hear the last strains of Carnivora, a top local death metal prospect. These guys definitely deserve your attention. Next up on the main stage was Black Crown Initiate, who are on their stint on the Metal Alliance Tour, opening for Behemoth. It’s too bad the festival environment had them playing this early because they are amazing. Their blend of Meshuggah tech riffs and Opeth-ian prog is going to take them very, very far. Taking a short break to run around and do some other Ghost Cult business, the next band I saw was Reflections. They were slightly better stage presence-wise than the flat showing I saw earlier this year, but their music still puts me to sleep.
The shame of alternating stages is the overlap of certain bands. While I really wanted to see Warhound, Lifeless, and especially Born Low upstairs, they were playing opposite better bands on the main stage. Inquisition was highly anticipated by the crowd that had filled up considerably by now. It was almost a nighttime atmosphere for the show as Dagon and Incubus took the stage in a cloud of red lights and smoke. People were literally losing their shit, and it was a great thing to see a lot of people I chatted with seeing this band for the first time. A lot of people donned the corpse paint in tribute to this band and others we saw on this day, which was pretty funny in an un-ironic way. Their best song and my personal favorite song they played was ‘Command of the Black Crown’. A true mix of true kvlt black metal influences, modern sensibility and sonics. For a change of pace, the maulers in Fit For An Autopsy took the main stage next and slayed. Immediately noticeable is the change over from former front man Nate Johnson to the new guy Greg Wilburn (The Devastated). Greg is a beast of vocalist and has far better stage presence than Johnson, giving this already good band a real shot in the arm. They are a fan favorite at the Palladium so the pit was very active for them. I Declare War had to follow them and it was an embarrassment by comparison to FFAO.
Staying in the big room for 1349, I don’t think fans were prepared for the mind-blowing performance we were about to see. It’s always the bands that don’t tour a lot that surprise you at these things. Positively evil and putting forth a great set, 1349 were one of the standouts of the weekend. Not to be out done in the showmanship, Goatwhore does what they usually do when they come to town, audio live carnage. Rev. Ben Falgoust might prefer the intimacy of the smaller stage, such as when they played the fest last year on the upstairs stage, with all the people raging in his face, but they belong on the more worthy platform. They flat out owned the main stage. Playing their hits like “Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult” and ‘Apocalyptic Havoc’ as well as a new song, that, also crushed; they ruled all. It’s gonna be a good summer when that new album drops from Metal Blade.
With more running around to do and needing to get a primo spot to see Slapshot close the main stage, I only caught a glimpse of Within The Ruins, Carnifex, and Thy Art is Murder each, with the latter getting the best response from the crowd. With the fest in full swing- it was cool to see some of the metal band people just hanging out at fest, even if they were not playing. Among those I ran into: Dave Davidson and the Revocation guys, Tony from Vital Remains, Adam from Mongrel, and Jayson Keyser of Origin. I also chatted with actor Brian O’Halloran of Clerks fame who was participating in the Rock And Shock Festival sponsored signings along with horror writer Joe “Zombie Bukkake” Knepper. Brian told me he loves to people watch at metal shows, much more than the bands.
As we were grinding toward the end of the second day I steadied myself for the last few hours with some communal drinking at the bar, which I rarely do at shows anymore. After catching the last half of an excellent set by Cruel Hand, it was time for Slapshot. Slapshot put on a show that put bands half their age to shame. It’s not just about the classic tracks that gets everyone excited, it’s the true spirit of hardcore they embody. There were some pit dancers having fun, and surely some violence going down, but none of the nonsense that pervades the scene at times. No gang BS, even though I suppose there were those types around. From my vantage point in the balcony, keeping my old ass safe and sound, I watched one of my buddies, Anderson Moura, right up at the front, just going nuts the entire time. The Slapshot set was a thing of beauty to behold.
Finally done with the second stage I cooled my heels a bit and chilled out as I watched The Acacia Strain and Whitechapel as the penultimate acts of the day. Their respective fans went bonkers. I have seen each band, together and co-headline this venue cause total chaos with the whole floor as a non-stop violent pit of death. Both bands have their respective fans who love each bands take on meat and potatoes death core. The Acacia Strain is literally from “down the block” as Vincent Bennett likes to say, just a few towns over. They often feel like a headliner, even when they are not last on the bill. Whitechapel on the strength of their brand new album, Our Endless War (Metal Blade) played their “hits” and a few new cuts. With a bigger set and staging than ever before, they are definitely trying to step up into a bigger realm. They are knocking on the door of something really big, so I hope more than just casual fans pick up on it.
Finally it was time for the most anticipated band of the weekend to play. Behemoth had already made a grand return to this venue a few years ago, but this was a lot different. On the strength of The Satanist (Metal Blade), the band has never been more popular. Although some fans gripe about the bands new-found “it band” status, the quality of The Satanist attests to the fact that they are are not going any softer. They seem to be a band everyone likes universally, sort of a modern Slayer, without the drama. This can be further proved by the impressive performance they put down.
And what a show it was! Behemoth always had a flair for the dramatic, be it their make-up, masks or cool lighting, but they have reached a new zenith of quality now. They have achieved the perfect blend of theatricality and their black metal influenced -death metal (however commercially acceptable). Their set list was an impeccable blend of old-school classics and new material. Each song was acted out, as much as it was performed, with calculated introductions and interludes. Nergal spoke little to the crowd, other than some pleasantries, and it added to the drama and mood. This was a ground breaking, avant-garde inspired moment for this band, and this genre as a whole. Nothing will ever be the same again. Every band will have to be compared against what Behemoth is doing now and it won’t be fair. They were already a great band, but now they are all-time greats.
Behemoth Set List:
Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Slaves Shall Serve
Christians to the Lions
Ov Fire and the Void
Alas, Lord Is Upon Me
At the Left Hand ov God
Chant for Ezkaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!
WORDS: KEITH CHACHKES
Compared with last year when I had already started January off with five shows in three weeks, 2014 started rather quiet. These days as Ghost Cult’s chief editor, I simply don’t get out as much as I used to. So you know I wouldn’t brave the (over-hyped) Polar Vortex conditions and hazardous roads for just any show, but I did for Chimaira. It has been well documented that a lot of other bands would have quit in the face of adversity ten times over after what these guys have been through. Still, what keeps me interested as a journalist and earns my respect as a fan is their dedication to take every negative and turn it into a positive, and in the most hostile way conceivable musically. So with a planned set list “Celebrating the Chaos” of their career, and on the strength of another tour supporting the excellent Crown of Phantoms (eOne) release, I was all in for this.
With my buddy and photog for the night Chris Small in tow, we got the the Palladium early in time to get in and mingle with some of our local metal brethren. Beers and Happy New Year’s greetings out of the way and we were ready to get hopping. Starting things off was Reflections, who played a pretty typical bunch of screamy death-core. I was immediately shocked by how bored to tears they looked on this, the first night of the tour. Their emotionless faces, except for the front man James Foster, put me off in a big way. I just couldn’t figure out why. They have enough potential musically for me to say I will give them another shot down the road. Second openers Fit For An Autopsy could not be more different in how they set it off from their first notes. I have seen these guys grow steadily more and more impressive over time and they are definitely coming into their own. Straddling the tech-death/traditional death metal horse with an occasionally fierce breakdown, it was hard not to be amped up for every second of their set. See this is what an opening band should do, be a cool warmup act, and provide a hint of what is to come the rest of the night.
Oceano is one of those bands for me, that it really depends on the day or the show how I feel about them. They have made some killer songs and there is no denying their ability to pump up a crowd and throw down in the death metal/deathcore style. You could also single out their fans in the house on this night by who looked like they were their to punch people, and not really there to watch the show. I’d feel bad about per-judging some of these pit ninjas, but for the most part, I was proven right by the end of their set when about 25% of the crowd left. On the plus side, Oceano is over that entire we’re quitting/we’re back phase and they are just out for blood right now. Front man Adam Warren was all over that tiny stage, imploring the crowd to get violent and trying to drum up their energy. Based on the crowd response during ‘Contagion’, that energy was high. Warren also had some compelling things to say about being a hungry band with a new record out, (Depths on Earache) that not a lot of people know about.
Iwrestledabearonce is in a good place in the penultimate spot in the line-up on this tour. They confound and anger the battle-vest wearing set with their wry sense of humour and mashing-up of sub genres. Seeing all of the day glow shirts, booty shorts, and tons of core kids, outside opinion doesn’t matter tonight as the band came out and crushed it. Playing a short (for them) set of their hits plus a few recent tracks from Late For Nothing (Century Media), the band made the odd choice of having some of their typical production value from their headline set. Strobe lights and amp covers/banners seem a little out of place on the tiny stage when no one else had them, but it is part of their schtick I guess. Courtney LaPlant has really risen to the challenge of coming into a popular band and replacing a popular singer and she has killed it on every level, ever since. Her stage persona makes for the perfect master of ceremonies, and she slays all the material in case you still had doubts. Closing with ‘Tatses Like Kevin Bacon’ is a reminder why this band made it in the first place. These guys are still growing I think it will be exciting to see where they take it next.
The front line gear was removed for a very simple set up as the remaining crowd filled in the front of the stage. I watched from a perch in the balcony, in relative safety, mindful of the the many brutal Chimaira mosh pits I have been tossed around in. The change over was quick as the fans were ready for the final music of the night to ring out. The band took the stage and immediately launched into ‘Cleansation’ and it was pure bedlam in the pit. The band was tight as usual, and as usual on the side of the pit was a group of Eli Werstler worshipers. Watching Eli shred and abuse his guitar is worth the price of admission alone, and he has absolutely carried the mantle of great guitar work in the band. Of course Mark Hunter is front and center in the midst of the chaos. He is always focused, connecting with the crowd and really seems to enjoy his job with an evil relish. The set list was carefully crafted showing the greatness of the bands history, as well as the recent albums too. Sean Z helps take the music to another level with his terrific backing vocals. People forget sometimes that Sean fronted his own, worthy band in Daath not too long ago.
Like a well-oiled machine the band cut through the set list of hits and deep cuts. Mark smiled and cracked jokes between songs, and then menaced and scowled appropriately to the material such as ‘Crown of Phantoms’, ‘Pure Hatred’, and ‘Power Trip’. Simple, Brutal, and tight describes the relentless performance, more akin to a boxing champion than a metal band. ‘The Dehumanizing Process’ for years was a great choice as a set opener, but here towards the end of the night it proves the strength and talent of the band. I finally shed my fear and ran down to the floor to Eli’s side of the stage, of course, to finish out the night. Not quite an encore, but more like an extended ending ‘Resurrection’ would have been a fine choice to end the set. However, the band stayed on stage to play the song that is their new video, ‘Wrapped In Violence’. Proving how strong their last album as with this bruising cut, and hearing everyone left in the venue screaming their lungs out, was killer. What a way to start what promises to be a great year of concerts.
Words: Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Photos: By CWS Photography