Every now and again, a record captures the mood of an era with such frightening accuracy that even though it might not be the greatest thing you’ve ever heard, it resonates so profoundly that you have no alternative but to sit up and take notice. Not since the ’80s, when the burgeoning thrash scene was fuelled by a world living in fear of murky politics and the threat of nuclear war, has the timing been so perfect for such a scathing indictment of present times. Continue reading
With fiery Germans Rammstein readying their seventh studio album for early 2019, guitarist Richard Kruspe has chosen the optimum time to release A Million Degrees (Universal/Spinefarm), his third “solo” record under the Emigrate banner. Continue reading
Hellfest has unveiled the rest of their 2019 bill that had already announced a few bands. Tool, Slayer, KISS, Def Leppard, Gojira, Manowar, ZZ TOP, King Diamond, Dream Theater, Within Temptation, Lynrd Skynrd, Gojira, Whitesnake, Sisters of Mercy, Carcass, Emperor, Dropkick Murphys, Slash ft. Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators, Bloodbath, Deicide and many more. The takes places as always in Clisson, France and you can get tickets now at the links below. Continue reading
A genre born of anger and extremity, Black Metal has always burned with a glorious and uniquely singular spirit. However, with such savage independence at its core, conflict and contradiction have never been too far away. As commonplace amongst its ranks as bizarre names and unintelligible band logos, bitter (and often silly) arguments have raged for decades about which individuals, acts, or sub-genres, are the most – and of course the least – worthy to fly its blackened flag. Continue reading
There used to be a time when side projects and “super-groups” were a big no-no in Metal. You had your band, you knew your place, and that’s where you stayed or else. Nowadays of course, you can’t walk down to the shops without another twenty bands trading members and forming new acts in the time it takes to buy a pint of milk and a cucumber sandwich. Continue reading
A sure sign that time is passing quickly was the sudden realisation that multi-instrumentalist and driving force par excellence of Crippled Black Phoenix,Justin Greaves has been putting forward the sonic ideas for this project for nigh on twelve years now. I could scarcely believe it but then, as Greaves and his co-conspirators have never been ones to rest on their collective laurels, delivering music that is hard to pigeon-hole but easy to love, then one can be forgiven for not paying attention to old father time. Continue reading
Tommy Victor has been a busy boy recently. Since Prong returned from their self-prescribed hiatus in 2012 with Carved Into Stone (Long Branch/SPV), Victor has recorded two more albums with the band, played on Danzig‘s covers album Skeletons (Evilive/Nuclear Blast) and toured with both acts. Now, less than a year after the release of their own covers record Songs From the Black Hole (Steamhammer/SPV), Prong are back with X – No Absolutes (Steamhammer/SPV), their third full length in four years. Or fourth if you include the covers album. (Editor’s note: They also have a self-released live album on Bandcamp they are not counting either!)
Although previous record Ruining Lives (Steamhammer/SPV) was generally well received, it felt a little like the band were trying too hard to make sure they pleased everybody by writing songs which sat nicely inside their own safe little pigeon holes. Hardcore song – check. Thrash song – check. Industrial song – check. This time out, there’s a slightly more organic feel to the record in the respect that although there are songs which clearly fit into each of those little boxes, there are some which cross over into others or have a different sound entirely. It appears that recording a covers album has had a positive creative effect on the band.
The opening trio of songs are all about hitting you hard and fast though. ‘Ultimate Authority’ is a mid-paced stomper with a hardcore chorus and a Pantera vibe to its opening riff. ‘Sense of Ease’ is full-on shouty and aggressive hardcore thrashing with a nice breakdown towards the end, and “Without Words” simply punches its way unceremoniously into your ears.
Things fall into standard territory (in a good way) with the next few songs. The title track stands out with its more laid back, but still purposeful approach, and ‘Do Nothing’ is possibly the closest the band have ever come to writing a ballad. There’s a hint of Ministry during ‘Belief System’, the pacy ‘In Spite of Hindrances’ features an all too brief guitar solo which sounds distinctly similar to old school Metallica, and one of the album’s highlights ‘Ice Runs Through My Veins’ begins with a pulsing bassline and a tickly little riff followed by a chorus not a million miles away from TheSisters of Mercy. Victor’s love of pinch harmonics has been noticeably restrained until we get to ‘Worth Pursuing’ when he suddenly throws caution to the wind and hurls a load of them into the mix just for the hell of it. Closer ‘With Dignity’ although actually pretty catchy, is probably the weakest track on the album, sounding more like Linkin Park than it probably should, the bonus track ‘Universal Law’ saving the album from ending on its lowest point.
The blurb on the label’s website for “Black ‘n’ Roll” outfit Alfahanne says they mix “Black Metal with Classic Rock and Punk” topped off with some “Goth influences”. Well – at least they’re managing expectations.
Whilst broadly true, this mixture fails to produce anything particularly interesting on the band’s latest effort – Blod Eld Alfa (Dark Essence). Weak, repetitive “riffs” coupled with lacklustre production reminiscent of so many mid-90s demo CDs conspire to produce a weak, reedy sound that ultimately fails to evoke any metal claws, banging heads, Sid Vicious sneers or Sisters of Mercy wafts.
The insipidly limp drums sound like a budget drum machine left on repeat, the guitars sound like they’re being played by zombies and the vocals (that seem to be trying to ape one of Dani Filth‘s trademarks for a whole album) sound like they were recorded in Mum’s kitchen.
In a 9-track album of tedium, only 1 song – ‘Skallerormsgift’ – inspires any comment. It’s fairly atmospheric, displaying some Goth chops, a bit of rhythmic variety, shouty vocals that presumably comprise the claim to “Punk” and a pleasant outro that crescendos nicely. Hmmm. That’s not very Black Metal is it?
The band say this music should stop you from feeling pleasure or pain. This leads me to conclude that they set out to record an album of musical anaesthetic. If so, they have excelled themselves.
Prong is streaming their cover of the Bad Brains classic “Banned in DC,” off their forthcoming covers album, out in the US on March 31, 2015 via eOne Music (SPV/Steamhammer special CD and LP edition available in Scandinavia on March 25, in Germany on March 27, and the rest of Europe on March 30), here.
The track list is far from traditional. With covers of artists like Neil Young, Black Flag, Bad Brains and Sisters of Mercy, the band casts their net wide. The goal, says Victor, was to explore the vast landscape that makes up the bands sound, stemming from their roots. “Since the record explores Prong’s roots, musically and geographically, this needed to be expressed visually and this was attained.”
1. Doomsday (Discharge)
2. Vision Thing (Sisters Of Mercy)
3. Goofy`s Concern (Butthole Surfers)
4. Kids Of The Black Hole (Adolescents)
5. Bars (Black Flag)
6. Seeing Red (Killing Joke)
7. Don`t Want To Know If You Are Lonely (Husker Du)
8. Give Me The Cure (Fugazi)
9. Banned in DC (Bad Brains)
10. Cortez The Killer (Neil Young)
The band has also announced their upcoming US tour this fall.
Apr 17: VERA – Groningen (NT)
Apr 18: Poppodium Volt – Sittard (NT)
Apr 19: De Kreun – Kortrijk (BL)
Apr 21: O2 Academy 2 – Birmingham (UK)
Apr 22: O2 Academy 2 – Liverpool (UK)
Apr 23: O2 Academy – Islington (UK)
Apr 24: O2 Academy – Bristol (UK)
Apr 25: L’Empreinte – Savigny Le Temple (FR)
Apr 26: Konzertfabrik 27 – Pratteln (SW)
Apr 27: PPC – Graz (AT)
Apr 28: Szene Wien – Vienna (AT)
Apr 29: Feierwerk – Munich (DE)
Apr 30: Huxleys Neue Welt – Berlin (DE)
May 01: Underground – Koln (DE)
May 02: Turock – Essen (DE)
May 03: Knust – Hamburg (DE)
Oct 23: Ramona Mainstage – Ramona, CA
Oct 24: Las Vegas Country Saloon (LVCS) – Las Vegas, NV
Oct 25: Club Red/Red Owl – Mesa, AZ
Oct 27: Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO
Oct 28: Aftershock – Shawnee, KS
Oct 30: Jake’s – Lubbock, TX
Oct 31: Tree’s – Dallas, TX
Nov 01: The Korova – San Antonio, TX
Nov 02: Scout bar – Houston, TX
Nov 03: Siberia – New Orleans, LA
Nov 04: Orpheum – Tampa, FL
Nov 05: The Haven Lounge – Winter Park, FL
Nov 06: Jack Rabbits – Jacksonville, FL
Nov 07: The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
Nov 08: TBA – Birmingham, AL
Nov 09: Centerstage Bar & Grill – Kokomo, IN
Nov 10: Expo Five – Louisville, KY
Nov 11: Empire – Springfield, VA
Nov 12: Upstairs at the Palladium – Worcester, MA
Nov 13: Trickshots – Clifton Park, NY
Nov 14: Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY
Nov 15: Foufoune’s – Montreal, QC
Nov 16: L’Agitee – Quebec, QC
Nov 17: Ritual Nightclub – Ottawa, ON
Nov 18: The Garrison – Toronto, ON
Nov 19: Hard Rock Café – Pittsburgh, PA
Nov 20: Rt 20 Outhouse – Racine, WI
Nov 21: The Token Lounge – Westland, MI
Nov 22: Agora Theatre & Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
Nov 23: Mojoe’s – Joliet, IL
Nov 24: Spicoli’s Grill & Reverb Rock Gardnen – Waterloo, IA
Nov 25: Fubar – St Louis, MO
Nov 27: POV’s Sports Bar & Grill – Andover, MN
Nov 28: Zoo Cabaret – Winnipeg, MB
Nov 30: Pawn Shop – Edmonton, AB
Dec 01: The Nite Owl – Calgary, AB
Dec 03: Venue – Vancouver, BC
Dec 04: El Corazon – Seattle, WA
Dec 05: Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR
Dec 06: Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
Dec 07: Whisky – West Hollywood, CA
Babylon Whores are the single most underrated band of all time, and Cold Heaven (Misanthropy, though recently re-released on vinyl by Svart) is the greatest undiscovered gem of all albums, so it is with anticipation most foul that Sleep of Monsters’ debut Produces Reason (Svart) saunters into our musical consciousness, being as it is the new vehicle for the distinctive crushed velvet pipes of Ike Vil, former ‘Whores mainman.
It can often be unfair to compare a new venture to a participants old wares, but when the vocal cords are as instantly recognisable and perception shaping as Vil’s it’s hard not to. Accompanied by songwriter and guitarist Sami Hassinen (Blake) and former members of Waltari and HIM, Produces Reason kicks off with a pair of rockers, as if Ike’s former occult troupe had been polished by the HIM hit machine, ‘Nihil Nihil Nihil’ dark, catchy and understated, with a strong vocal chorus hook.
As the album unveils, the rock element is toned down and replaced by a more gothic, sedate feel, led by Vil’s characteristic delivery and melancholic lines, and flashes of Sisters of Mercy, Beastmilk and even Simple Minds decorate their Gothic rock. ‘Christsonday’ liberally dips its toe into Queensryche’s ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’ and emerges with the guitar motif intact, dropping the familiar lick over their death rock, while ‘Magick Without Tears’, the true closer for this album (additional track ‘I Am The Night, Colour Me Black’ is superfluous and dynamically doesn’t work) kneads in the vocal talents of the “Furies”, a trio of female vocalists whose harmonies proliferate the album at various points, over a Pink Floydian organ-led flick.
Managing to retain the core elements of its participants former endeavours, weaving and celebrating their individual talents and ideosyncracies, Sleep of Monsters have produced a credible dark pop debut, reflecting the pasts of its’ creators, and one that leaves the promise of something even more grandiose and fruitful in their future.