Mr. Bungle performed their first show in almost twenty years last night in Los Angeles at the historic Fonda Theater in Hollywood. Watch fan-filmed footage of the band performing their debut EP The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, a brutal brand new song dubbed ‘Meth”, some inventive covers (Slayer, S.O.D., Siege, Seals and Croft, The Exploited), and more! Continue reading
Hitting the halfway point of Maryland Deathfest is usually a milestone that no one really notices and those who do will actually not speak of it. No one wants to think the weekend is going to end nor that the end is already halfway here. Instead, hangovers are nursed, more questionable food is consumed, and everyone marches back to Rams Head Live and Baltimore Soundstage for another day of partying. Fortunately for myself and my party of friends, we know how to party but dodge the hangovers. So, we made sure to be on time for Soundstage opening up with the first band playing slightly before four in the afternoon. That included polishing off a bottle of vodka left behind by the previous renters of the Air BnB. Thank you to those unnamed heroes! Continue reading
Memorial Day weekend in the United States is a time to remember our veterans who have served in the country’s military and most will commemorate such an occasion with cookouts. In Baltimore, Maryland, the partying starts a few days before the weekend but the celebration is about extreme music. This weekend is known to the fans as simply, MDF, or in full, Maryland Deathfest. Doom metal, black metal, grindcore, punk, and of course, death metal, take over multiple venues in the Inner Harbor area of the city all weekend long as the streets run black with hideous, graphic band t-shirts. For me, this is my sophomore year of the festival and could not be more excited to return. Continue reading
Maryland Deathfest 2017, sure to be North America’s metal event of 2017 has already announced its daily lineups. Headlined by Morbid Angel, Candlemass, Autopsy, Tiamat, Cryptopsy and others, according to a post to the MDF Facebook, there are now less than 100 4-day passes available and less than 200 Rams Head 3-day passes available for MDF XV. Once these are gone, they won’t be releasing more. Full details are below. Continue reading
With a final salvo of bands, 2017’s Maryland Deathfest XV is set at last. Added to the final line-up are legends like Candlemass (Nightfall set), Tiamat (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Grave (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Root (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Oranssi Pazuzu, Acheron, GosT, Samothrace, and more. Continue reading
Maryland Deathfest, the long running American metal festival institution has announced their first wave of bands for MDF XV in 2017. Headlined so far by Morbid Angel and Autopsy, the first wave of bands includes Siege, Terrorizer, Macabre, Akercocke (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Behexen (Exclusive U.S. Appearance), Brodequin, Decrepit Birth, Dopethrone, Embalmer, In The Woods… (Exclusive U.S. Appearance!), Iron Lung, Kerasphorus, Macabre, Nightbringer, Nordjevel, Sargeist (Exclusive U.S. Appearance!), and Usurper. In addition to special appearances denoted above, Morbid Angel will be performing with their new/old lineup including Steve Tucker, Terrorizer will perform all of their World Downfall album, and many more surprises to come. Limited early bird (4-day) passes go on sale today at 11 am EST at this link. Once these sell out, more will be released will be released at a later date.
Maryland Deathfest 2017 lineup so far:
Akercocke (UK) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
Behexen (Finland) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
In The Woods… (Norway) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
Morbid Angel (with Trey Azagthoth and Steve Tucker)
Sargeist (Finland) – Exclusive U.S. appearance!
Terrorizer (World Downfall set)
Long-running activist hardcore leaders DROPDEAD have been around long enough to know, their path is marathon and not sprint. When you make non-sellout music that demands critical thinking from fans, you are not going to get asked on late night TV, or find your music in movies and football stadium. But what drives this band, a staple of the Providence, RI music scene for two-plus decades is not the same motivation for everyone else. Ghost Cult’s Andrew Francis met up with Ben Barnett and Bob Otis in Austin Texas, a long way from home. The band was in town for the Housecore Horror And Music Festival, and despite playing an incredible set, true to form, they never felt “at home”.
Curious about the origin of the band, we started off by asking Ben and Bob what has a great influence on their style: the scene in New England or was it shaped by other bands and their teachings?
Bob Otis: “It was a combinations of things really, me Ben and Bryan started the band. Ben came from California and Bryan and my self grew up in Providence but we all listened to a lot of different stuff.”
“Ben brought a lot of his California influences when he joined the band that I had never heard and I did the same for him with a lot of the anarco – punk, Bryan was in to Japanese punk but we all bonded around the same like of similar forms of music and hardcore punk and the philosophy behind it.”
DROPDEAD is the epitome of n East Coast Hardcore band, but like most in the genre, one can’t deny a multitude of broader influences in the punk rock spectrum: Bob: For me it was more to the punk side, I was really in to anarco-punk and the philosophy and Ben was more to the hardcore side”
Ben Barnett: “I was more into Infest, Negative Approach”
Bob: “Where I was in to Crass and Conflict”.
Ben: “But still in to the politics of that stuff.”
The band has an unmistakable agenda, but bandmates don’t always have the same word view. We asked Ben and Bob if they shared a lot of the same political ideas
Ben: “Oh yeah definitely”
Bob: Whats great about these guys is that they believe exactly the same thing as me, and they allow me to get up on stage and expound upon the beliefs that we all have, together. It’s not just we are going to get together and write the music and you can just go do what ever as long as it doesn’t sound silly?
Bob: “We believe the same thing ,we have the same core values.”
Ben: Yeah I don’t think we could go up there and say what we say and do what we do if we didn’t mean it.
Bob: “No one in the band is going to McDonalds that’s for sure.”
Aside from punk, few bands shaped the political landscape for bands in history like Napalm Death has. A definite influence on the band, we asked both at what point did they discover the seminal Brit grindcore band and if they seeped in.
Ben: “That first Napalm record in 87 definitely blew my mind at first, i never heard anything like it.”
Bob: “To be honest with you they weren’t one of my favorite bands but I can appreciate what they did and stood for, but at the time i was more in to anarco punk but i appreciate it. You can see where the comparison comes from with short song times and ferocity and lyrical content.”
Bob: “Well yea we can see that but we also got a lot of our sound from the Boston Hardcore bands, Siege and California bands like Infest.”
Ben: “We acquired our name from a Siege song the and store name are from a Siege song, we became very influenced by a band from Weymouth.”
If a band was to be considered top-tier and the biggest influence on the band you would all say its Siege?
Bob: “Musically for sure.”
Ben: “Lyrically its not terribly that far off either. If you don’t listen to them already, Siege comes highly recommended young readers!”
Ben is the owner of Armageddon Record Shop and its accompanying label. One of the defining businesses in the North East music scene at the moment, we asked if the distro through the label was created because it makes life easier for a DIY band.
Ben: “I had done a label since the late 80’s up until 98 and I decided it was just time to call it a day. we had a record to put out and we wanted a fresh start and we figured we would do our own thing. we had some not terrible but not fantastic experiences with some people. back in the day Earache hit us up, Century Media hit us up it wasn’t really what we wanted to do.”
Bob: “Part of it was it was all stuff Ben could do himself so why get some one else? I don’t think any one could do it any better than him. he has an invested interest as our guitarist and best friend so obviously he’s gonna put every thing he’s got in to the band so i don’t think a record label would have as much invested in us as someone who’s in the band.”
Ben: “There might be more press, maybe more hype but ..”
Bob: We’ve done pretty good for our selves, he’s done a great job!”
Ben: “We just chug along do our own thing if people buy the records we appreciate it and if not then.. oh well? we’ll play a show some one may be excited then that’s pretty cool too, they go slow but they go.”
We then asked if starting the label became a necessity of being in the band or as a fan of music who later ended up in a band:
Ben: “Originally it was cause I was excited about music, I put out my first record for a California band Apocalypse in like ..1989. Just cause they were friends. It was kinda like you can be a guy going to shows or you could do something, and Otis can attest to this, I’m not really a do nothing kinda guy. kinda a workaholic.”
Bob: “One of the busiest guys I know.”
INTERVIEW BY ANDREW FRANCIS
PHOTOS BY EMMA PARSONS PHOTOGRAPHY
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), Massacre From 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 The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. And updated it.
Grindcore is not a genre renowned for embracing diversity. Sure, there are degrees of complexity, sub-sub genres (the much reviled Goregrind and unbelievably-somehow-even-worse Pornogrind being tragic examples) and bands who’ve found their own sound, but the basic template laid down by Siege, Deep Wound and the original Napalm Death The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit) is as relevant to the genre now as it ever was.
Which makes Cloud Rat both extremely important and extremely difficult to describe, because their thoughtful, reflective Grind manages to capture musical territory that is both recognisably Grindcore and recognisably different. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how they accomplish this – they slow down quite a lot, but that’s hardly a new thing; sure, they use spoken word sections and Dark Ambient elements, but again Grind’s involvement with Noise is hardly new. It’s more the way these elements are used, not to crush or destroy but to create a sense of distance and space, which is then contrasted with the more genre-conventional violence and blasting to heighten the impact of both. “Contemplative” is not a word you might ever have expected to read in a Grindcore review, but for Cloud Rat it honestly fits.
Their third full-length album (fifth if you count odds-and-sods collection Fever Dreams and Blind River) since 2010, Qliphoth (all Halo of Flies/IFB) is a snapshot of a ferociously dedicated and hardworking band continuing to carve out their own unique sense of what Grindcore can be. It’s a varied collection, its songs as meandering and reflective as my raiding-the-thesaurus-for-words-that-mean-thoughtful would have you expect, while still as savage and devastating as a Grind album should be. Anyone just seeking wall-to-wall blast beats and mosh breakdowns will be disappointed, but it’s not like those are exactly hard to find. Cloud Rat have offered something both more rare and more interesting, and have made themselves genuinely the best new Grindcore band in years in the process.
Cloud Rat on Bandcamp