Devildriver has finished their new album, expected for release later in 2019. Produced by Steve Evetts (Every Time I Die, The Dillinger Escape Plan) the album is the follow-up to 2018’s Outlaws ‘Til The End, and 2016’s Trust No One and due for release via Napalm Records.
Although few EP’s get the Classic Albums Revisited treatment here at Ghost Cult, we have to pause and give all to the glory that The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s 1998 short-player Under the Running Board deserves. Their first release for Relapse Records, it not only boosted them to a higher profile as artists, it definitely was a harbinger of what was to come on future Dillinger releases in terms of a further harnessing of their power and experimental leanings. Continue reading
DevilDriver is no stranger to doing cover songs, but they are about to take their love of covers to a whole new level. Continue reading
Being a new face on a record label with a storied history like Nuclear Blast Records can be a daunting task for any band. For the members of Speaking The King’s, they became one of the label’s newest faces that spearheaded a breed of youth based punk driven metal.
The band completed their full length album Carousel and is excited to share it with the world. The public got their first taste of the band with their debut EP (2013’s Here To Stay), and since then they began growing into their sound by experimenting with a variety of styles and crafting songs that reached a variety of listeners.
“We worked real hard on the EP but we were trying to figure out which direction we wanted to go – if we wanted to go wider, heavier. We wanted to see what we could do. So one of the things we really loved and really wanted to exploit was Bobby’s [Burap, lead vocals] great voice so we figured let’s focus on a lot of using that element that he has and getting that into our songs,” said guitarist Mike Entin.
“When we were writing the full length, it was a lot of basing off of the choruses opposed to who can write the biggest breakdowns. Now granted there are plenty of breakdowns and plenty of heavy parts on the new CD, it does have something for everybody. It’s a much longer roller coaster.”
Taking the name from a familiar film, guitarist Justin Bock talked about how this hit them enough to name the band after this.
“There was a scene in the movie Inglorious Bastards and it’s actually exactly what you said – it’s a shorthand of speaking the king’s English. It’s the scene where an English soldier first sees a German soldier in the basement of a bar and is captured by one of the actual German soldiers. He basically realizes that it’s the end of the line and there’s really no way out of this. So he’s going up to this place and we just felt like we’re just going to take over this place and we’re just gonna throw everything we’ve got into it and just hope for the best and see where it takes us. So that really struck a chord with us and we grabbed the name and the rest is history.”
On Carousel, they enlisted veteran producer Steve Evetts to man the recording sessions. While soliciting producers to work on their record, they found a connection with him over some of his past producing projects was some of their favorite records and ones that helped shape the band’s sound.
“On this one, we were lucky enough to work with Steve Evetts. Nuclear Blast gave us the opportunity and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. There was a point where we got the list of producers on board and we were writing down the list of CDs they did. We wanted to work with Steve Evetts but let’s put him on here and the reason why was, is because he worked on one of our favorite albums – The Here and Now by Architects, and a lot of our favorite CDs in the past ten years.”
“When we got a call a few days later from Nuclear Blast, they said ‘hey we’re meeting Steve Evetts. OK later.’ We just dropped our jaw and said ‘did that just happen?’ Steve Evetts is an amazing producer. He did a wonderful job and we’re beyond stoked on this,” said Entin.
Bock explained their songwriting process and how they approach their vast string of songs they have written. He said they took more chances on the new record that they did not on the EP.
“Typically Mike or I will come up with riffs or chorus parts. We build from there. It’s become a more closed process than it has in the past. I think with the full length there’s much more variety. We feel we put in a little bit more than we did on the EP where it was more straight ahead heavy. We took a little more risks on this one. I think it paid off huge for us.”
“It usually starts off with Mike or I will write and then we put drums to it and then we put the basic idea structure wise. Then Bobby puts the vocals and then we wait and make it fit the way it is. It’s usually small changes and sometimes big ones and it turns into songs.”
They spoke about the variety of styles on Carousel, ranging from heavier mosh songs to more melodic tunes with sing a long parts, which gives listeners an assortment of songs to choose from.
“It’s funny because what we do is when we put the set together, we will try to knock off a little of everything. We try to make sure to play something for the kids with the breakdowns, and we’ll also play something back to back that the girls want to sing along. The other thing that we also do is that all of our biggest fans say that they like it and they have so much fun and they’re involved. We don’t make it seem like we’re not down on anyone and they wanted to listen to it. I think that’s one of our awesome qualities that we like to win people over. We’re trying to get them involved – even if it’s not a genre that you like, you won’t feel like you’re lost in the crowd. We want you to sing along with us. I think that stuff shows how much we like to put into making this more of a band than just a band’s show,” said Entin.
Having Evetts manning the recording sessions helped Speaking The King’s elevate their sound to the next level. They explained how his past experience helped them grow as a band and working hands on with the band made them a better band overall
“With Steve we gave him a much more complete product. When we did the EP, the band and I just recorded. We didn’t have a singer at that point. So it was like doing two halves and it was the EP. With this record, everything was finished and ready to go when Steve came up and spent a week with us at our rehearsal space just going through everything and song structure – change the kick pattern to this and change the guitar chord to this – little things that help make all the songs into something maybe bigger than we had imagined it being.”
“He’s a master at his craft and was one of the single biggest learning experiences of my life, which was spending that one month with him and learning more than I have than all of the records I’ve made combined. It was really cool just picking his brain and letting him show us how he makes records with real sound the whole time. It’s not all that programmed drums. It’s all real live natural feeling and I think to me those records seem to last. We were super fortunate to be able to meet with him and then to work with him and make a record that way with somebody like that that’s done so many records we have so much respect for,” said Bock.
“One thing that he did actually that we all experienced as musicians he broke us down. He made us work until we had the perfect take. He only strives for the best and we all loved that. It made us better musicians as growing musicians. It was hard love but it was awesome because he got a lot out of you. I think that’s one thing that all of us got after we got out of the studio,” said Entin.
“For me, he made me play so much that there were so many drumheads that we had to switch. I even broke one of his cymbals. He made me play so much and so hard to get the recording correct and perfect. I’ve never sweated so much in my life,” added drummer Will Peacock.
At what point did the members of Speaking the King’s realize that Evetts was the same guy who produced records for such artists as Hatebreed and Dillinger Escape Plan?
“I think for me we kind of had an idea of a lot of that stuff when we went in there. For me specifically, I found out during the process that he actually produced a lot of the records I’ve listened to for a long time that I had no idea he did. Bands that whenever certainly I’m thinking about pitching to who was producing one, I found three or four records that were some of my favorites that he had done and had no idea. We went in there awestruck and left there even more awestruck. It’s really cool,” explained Bock.
While the band are still a new face on the music scene, they are learning the ins and outs of how to maneuver in many situations. They shared some of their experiences from their brief time on the road and playing with other touring artists.
“We’ve learned that there’s all kinds of people that know what we do in there. It’s cool the variety of people who come together for music. We also learned that the sound guy is your best friend in the world. We played a festival out here with Emmure and their sound guy mixed for us for the show. There was an incredible difference. We played at The Grove in Anaheim, CA and it’s a pretty good sized venue. It was a night and day difference between what we had with him and what somebody in the band had with the house guy or whatever. Each venue is different and so when you get a good sound guy, make sure you thank him for that,” said Bock.
Peacock concluded, “Another good aspect is keep it simple. Don’t complicate things with your rigs with everything that you’re using. You’re making it in and out on the road 24-7 for 28 shows out of 30 days. You want to keep it simple because it will have a lot of wear on it and take care of yourself.”
Veteran New York hardcore/metallers All Out War will be releasing a new EP titled Dying Gods, due out this summer. The EP was engineered and produced by Steve Evetts (Hatebreed, Turmoil, Buried Alive, Suicide Silence) at West West Side in New Windsor, NY. The record sees the band bringing five decimating new original tracks and covers of two iconic underground anthems.
The band has booked a number of live appearances coming up.
May 22-24: Neumo’s – Seattle, WA (Rain Fest)
Aug 07: JZ St. Peter – Duisburg (DE)
Aug 08: Still Cold Fest – Hannover (DE)
Aug 09: Cassiopeia – Berlin (DE)
Aug 10: Underworld – London (UK)
Aug 11: Werk 21 – Zurich (CH)
Aug 12: Molotov – Marseille (FR)
Aug 13: La Mechanique Ondulatoire – Paris (FR)
Aug 14-16: Motocultor Fest – Bretagne (FR)
Aug 14-16: Ieperfest – Ieper (BE)
ALL OUT WAR:
Mike Score – vocals
Erik Carrillo – bass
Taras Apuzzo – guitar
Andy Pietroloungo – guitar
Jesse Sutherland – drums
Being from New York, you tend to be pretty thick skinned and able to roll with anything that comes your way. Case in point, Omar Cordy recently chatted with his fellow native New Yorker and Prong mastermind Tommy Victor and delved into, wide-ranging, off-the-cuff conversation. Cutting through some sidesteps, clarifying misinformation regarding the line-up, and overcoming some early barriers to end up with an insightful chat, Tommy was affable and honest as ever, remaining professional as well, which we appreciate!
“It’s not the same lineup, I had to find a way to pretty much do this myself. I mean, (drummer) Alexei Rodriguez couldn’t do it because he has a regular job and Tony Campos hasn’t been playing with me since Carved Into Stone.” Tommy explained when we asked about who really constituted the current line-up of Prong. “I’ve had Jason Christopher (Sebastian Bach), and he has been the bassist since that record. Campos, he did a couple of shows, here and there with us for Carved Into Stone. so yeah, those are the changes.”
Tommy has always been thought of a band leader and singular voice, but he actually likes to collaborate with others to get his ideas out:
“I collaborated on all the songs with this guy, Chris Collier, on this record. So, it was bits and
pieces, he helped me out a lot on some songs and on others, I had more of them together, we just split it up really in the end. I have to have somebody with me to do shit because otherwise I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. With Steve Evetts, as far as vocals go, he comes in and produces the vocals so we nailed down some questions that I had at the last stage of putting the melodies together.”
We were under the impression Ruining Lives was done in the same studio as Carved Into Stone, but Tommy corrected us:
“It was done at Mission Black Studio in Valencia, the basic tracks. And then, the vocals were recorded at Steve Evetts’ place in Garden Grove, and mixed there as well. All in the LA area.”
For a guy who has been at this roughly thirty years, Tommy been through a lot musically and personally: “Basically, it’s just room for improvement. I don’t think I’ve reached some kind of pinnacle yet, and I can do it, so those are two good reasons right there, without getting to wordy on it. I’ve seen improvements. It’s not like I’m a baseball player, where I’m hitting thirty-five and it’s time to hang up the jock strap. I can continually move on. I mean, there are a lot of things I could be focusing on musically that I haven’t and that’s even more of a challenge too. I mean, I’ve been guitar playing in the last ten years and before that, I really ignored it a lot and didn’t really pay that much attention to it. And as I work with other bands, and did other things, it’s a progression in that and it’s a lot of on the job training because I’m a lazy bastard and most of the time, I’m not going to try to sit and try to figure things out. And when I do, it’s very rewarding. So, in other words, I know there are lots of things I could be working on to get there.”
With statements like that he proudly wears that New York attitude in his sleeve… by way of Los Angeles. “(laughs) That’s just the way I talk. I’ve been out in California for a long time and everyone, the California people, always gives me a hard time about it.”
The cover for Ruining Lives has that old school feel of it. With its brilliant color scheme it’s simple but effective. It’s one of my favorite Prong covers. We asked about the artist:
“That one and Cleansing, I think they were the top ones for me. I mean, look the EP, the first
record, Primitive Origins that Shawn Taggart did; I really like that one as well. But yeah, that’s just like a black and white format. This one, was done by Vance Kelly and if you look at the cover while listening to the record, it just works; it’s because there are some elements of the record that are traditional Prong and things that only Prong does or cares to do and on the other hand, it’s a little modern and sounds youthful too, so it has a lot of energy in the record, so it just works. I’m really happy with it. I couldn’t be more happy with the cover.”
Youthful is the perfect way to describe the cover and just the overall vibe of the record. It doesn’t sound like a bunch of old guys trying to be current. It is a very genuine sounding album.
“Yeah, yeah, I agree with that and it’s really true. The process it was fairly easy, it was a lot of work; it wasn’t a lot of pseudo-professional, over thinking about every minute detail which is an aspect of making records that I’ve experienced in the past that I’ve had to overcome and realize it’s just a waste of time. A song like ‘Turnover’, that’s really fresh, I mean that’s the last one written, it was dialed in very fast and it’s one of the most successful songs on the record. It’s like the same that happened with ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’, where the thing was written, in like, I don’t know, the lyric was written in about five minutes, then the actual song was written maybe, in about ten or fifteen minutes. So you have to be in this space, or this, I don’t know, spiritual or mental condition that enables these probational times to happen. And I’m not saying this happens all the time, it happens very rarely. And yeah, I got lucky. Lucky to do the right things in order for that to happen, either way. Some people believe in luck and I guess I don’t really, I just think that I’m fortunate.”
Prong tours and shows overseas seem to be more plentiful than there are over here in America. Perhaps the fanbase for the band is bigger over there or touring is just easier. Tommy weighs in on this: “That’s a very good question, it’s a lot easier to set things up overseas; the distances between locations are considerably shorter, and now that gas prices are so high, that contributes to a lot of financial problems while touring here in America. However we have an extensive US tour coming in the fall.”
Because any entertainment business chews you up and spits you out, only the tough, the hard survive. And sometimes people need a few years off, then they come back stronger than ever. I remember when
Prong came back on 2005 after a hiatus.
“That’s the beauty of being a musician; you’ve got guys like Lemmy hanging around and Ozzy
and you know, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. You don’t really have those major league baseball pitcher limitations on your career that much.”
We wonder how tiring it must get to teach people songs again or I have to teach somebody X song for the fifteenth time.
“It’s stressful. I’m not going to say it’s a great thing . But being as trio now I really can’t teach people the way I play and Prong guitar riffs anyhow. Monte Pittman, out of any guitar player I’ve seen or was able to jam with, he came pretty close to emulating the parts. I am sort of a strange player, based on the fingering I use, and the self taught nature that I have, that’s difficult. As far as Raven’s bass lines, a lot of people have problems playing those too because he had a very unique and brilliant approach to playing bass. And now, I’m really lucky, because this guy, Jason Christopher, he’s a fantastic bass player. He’s a rock n roll, punk rock bass player, but he’s really flexible. So I’m lucky to have him. A lot of times you have to trust what’s out there and that guys know what they are doing and pick up and be quick at knowing what’s going on. It’s just you go through a week period where some field problems, but you have to work through them and then you have to adapt to other people too. I mean, not everyone is supposed to adapt to me, I adapt to other people, and I think that’s an important aspect for the way I’ve been able to survive lineup changes and playing with other people and other bands and experiencing lineup changes and the other problems that I can work on is being patient and tolerant of other players. You have to adjust and adapt and work together on things, you know it’s not a dictatorial relationship at all. I try to work with everyone I come into contact with and that includes Glenn Danzig; sometimes I get impatient with him, but I step back and relax and we work on things together.”
With all goes on all that have an effect on what comes out, because when I listen to the new record, it’s a little more aggressive, it sounds like a combination of Carved Into Stone and Power of the Damager; it has some anger and it has some heart on it. “I don’t calculate too much these days what comes out. That reflects on what I said
earlier, I just know for some reason, I’ve been doing it for so long, when I’m working on riffs and initially that’s the way those songs start. Being the singer too, at the same time while I’m writing a riff, I’m thinking if this something I can put to the vocal tone s and lyric line at the same time. So the process is almost instantaneous, it’s not I have to write stuff and then I have to bring it to the singer and work with him and see if he can. It comes out of a lot of that period of the creation of a song. The rapidity of work this record and based on the fact I have a lot of experience in the last five years making records, whether it’s with Danzig, Ministry, or the pretty recent Prong albums. It’s not a lot of calculating for it, it’s just from being beaten into what I am now, it’s a lot of on the job training really, and as far as emotions go, I’ve always been soul-searching , very introspective, and when it comes to writing lyrics, that’s a time consuming and a very serious project for me.”
As a guy that writes all the time, Tommy already has some material in the can for the future.
“There’s some, on Carved Into Stone there was a lot of songs written. And I didn’t go the cheat method on Ruining Lives. I was talking to the co-producer Steve Evetts who produced the vocals about six months ago when we were planning out scheduling for the new record and he goes, “What’s going on material-wise?” I go, “Dude, I’ve been so busy running around touring that I don’t really have that much.” He goes, “You have all those songs from Carved Into Stone that you didn’t use.” And then I had more on top of that stockpile, which may be another ten? And I went back and listened to them and I’m like, “No.” I literally had another album’s worth of material that was ready to go, but I started fresh. I seem to do that a lot, I listen to the stuff I have and I’m just like, “Nah, no.” So it’s always new stuff.”
It sounds like too much work to reinterpret it to make it now. “I can’t even do that and he wanted me to do that on a couple of tracks he liked that were on the earlier demos from Carved Into Stone, which like were 25 songs written for that record and demoed and completed. And he was just like, “What about this?” “what about that one and I was like, “nah, forget it.”
And with that, Tommy Victor just powers along, consistently moving and always ready for anything that gets thrown his way.
Just wow! That was my first thought on hearing Eyes Set to Kill’s fifth album Masks (Century Media Records). Masks is night and day away from their previous work, while still keeping a familiar tone throughout. It’s by far the heaviest and thrashiest album by the band to date. There are some breakdowns, some blasting, and everything in between on here. This is their best sounding album too, with Steve Evetts having produced a sonic masterpiece. Now, on to the songs!
From the eerie to brutal intro of ‘Masks’ you get a the feeling this isn’t the same band you thought you knew. Everything about the band is just better and their growth is impressive. Whether they’re singing together or against each other; Alexia Rodriguez and Cisko Miranda’s vocal styles compliment each other. It’s evident on tracks like ‘Nothing Left to Say’ and ‘The Lost and Forgotten’ . On ‘Surface’ Alexia vocals sound so gritty and angelic, you feel the passion in her words. The standout track overall is ‘True Colors’. Cisko sounds like a starving animal, waiting to feed. Meanwhile Alexias’ guitar work is peppered with a melodic thrash tint with a little NYHC thrown in for good measure. Her solo just sends this song over the top for me.
Anissa Rodriguez has a cutting low end that runs through so effortlessly. She has a dirtiness to her playing as heard on ‘Where I Want To Be’ and ‘Secrets Between’ reminds me of early David Ellefson and John Outcalt. ‘Little Lair’ and ‘The New Plague’ just shows Caleb Clifton is just a powerhouse of a drummer. He’s very versatile and has a hell of a groove that fits perfectly with Anissa. The drums sound so warm and rich it adds an extra layer to an already impressive album. It mellows only slightly with ‘Haze’ and brings it home with the juggernaut of ‘The Forbidden Line’. This band has changed a lot and its a very organic sounding change.