Success has a way of messing with a good band. First world problems compared to the millions of bands that never make it, sure. However, so often when an emerging band that has fast become a genre leader, big corporate record labels can foul up the flow. This was almost the case of White Pony by Deftones, and the case where the hype was lived up to by pencil pushers, bean counters, and greed almost wrecked the game. White Pony is the band’s pivotal third album, where they built off the stylistic changes that came in with Around The Fur (Maverick) and pushed their sound further than before. In the process, they severed themselves far from the Nu-Metal wave that was exploding at the time and firmly created a new camp of “Deftones Music” as a category. That is, until, the label got in their business later on. Continue reading
For many, the nineties would prove to be the end of heavy metal as we knew it. Bands who rose to greatness in the preceding decade suddenly found themselves either retreading old ground, out of their depth trying to explore new territories, or simply grinding to an unceremonious halt. Within just a couple of years, denim, leather and even the term “heavy metal” itself, were out. Continue reading
Prong has shared a new single, ”End of Sanity”. Recordeed with producer Chris Collier (No Absolutes, Zero Days) the recording is one of two tracks for a new EP, to be released in the fall. The songs were mixed by Terry Date (Cleansing, Rude Awakening). Prrong recently wrapped the “Cleansing” 25th-anniversary tour in Europe, and a tour with Agnostic Front. Continue reading
Prong is hard at work this month in the studio with producer Chris Collier (No Absolutes, Zero Days) recording two tracks for a new EP, to be released in the fall. The songs will be mixed by Terry Date (Cleansing, Rude Awakening). Next month, the “Cleansing” 25th-anniversary tour hits Europe, where Prong will play festivals as well as play intimate club shows in select cities. Then the band will hit the road with Agnostic Front. Continue reading
It’s the mid-nineties and while the economy is flourishing, our president gets cool points for playing the sax on television and we have Super Metroid, we still found the need to complain. And of all the things to moan about during that decade, one of the silliest is to decry the lack of decent metal. Did we all suddenly forget that Pantera dropped possibly the heaviest release to debut atop the Billboard Top 200 in Far Beyond Driven (Eastwest)? Continue reading
Terry Date, the uber-producer who famously worked with Pantera, Soundgarden, and Deftones in the 1990s, has done a track remix for Code Orange. Listen to his remix of ‘Bleeding In The Blur’, which premiered yesterday on BBC Radio 1‘s ‘Rock Show With Daniel P Carter‘. Continue reading
Get in your way-back machine and set the dials for 1997. People back then had big 1990s optimism and even bigger pants (JNCOs). James Cameron’s Titanic was dominating the box office, and sadly two iconic women, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana died. Scotland cloned a sheep named Dolly, and the first of the Harry Potter novels was published. And a band from Sacramento, CA put out their second album. Of course, we mean Deftones and Around The Fur (Maverick). Not just any sophomore effort, the album would be a stylistic left turn for the band that was on the forefront of Nu Metal just a few years earlier. A classification the band would come to shun and remove themselves from over future releases. Continue reading
With the possible exception of Iron Maiden and Faith No More, no album has been more debated by fans and the critics before a note had been heard in 2015, than Slayer’s new album Repentless (Nuclear Blast). Their historical position as a leader and a lightning rod for all of heavy music has had varying consequences to their reputation over time. Nearly oblivious to change with the exception of a couple of albums, Slayer does what Slayer wants to do. Similar to AC/DC or Motörhead, if every fan everywhere and every critic bashed this album to death sight unseen, the band might hardly notice anyway.
However, listening to Repentless in full, there is an undeniable void heard on the album, one the band makes no apology or concession to, the loss of Jeff Hanneman, Jeff is not replaceable, nor have they tried to do that honestly. Recall there were entire albums where Jeff barely had any songs or solos, but he is so clearly part of the soul of this band, his licks and style coded into the very DNA of their songcraft. At the same time, this album belongs to Kerry King and Tom Araya to the fullest, and they totally own it like their life depends on it. The future of Slayer’s career surely does.
Opening with the sinister intro track ‘Delusions of Saviour,’ I look forward to hearing many a future concert begin with this gem. The title track comes next and it is fiery in tempo and anger. It is definitely off to an inspiring start. ‘Take Control,’ another recent single is a little more straight-ahead thrash, though it has all the familiar bells and whistles you want from them. Araya sounds as frightening and strong as ever vocally. His delivery makes up a lot of the strength of this album.
‘Vices’ is a terrific, groovy track and reminds me a lot of Paul Bostaph’s work on Divine Intervention (American). Paul’s return is a solid one. He has a few highlights and the outro of the track is one of them. The dueling harmonized guitars and solo parts bear the proper Slayer mark. ‘Cast the First Stone’ and ‘When The Stillness Comes’ also makes up some of the meat of familiar part of the album. ‘…Stillness’ has the Seasons In The Abyss (Def American) vibe that will drive some purists away, while others will love it. I fall into the latter category.
‘Chasing Death’ has them treading on some Exodus or even Pantera territory jamming out on the power grooves they pioneered. Another killer delivery from Tom sells this badass tune. ‘Implode’ was to my ears, the least impressive track and repeat listens didn’t make it grow on me. ‘Implode’ is one of the few tracks where it does seem to lack some of the old (Black) magic of the band. ‘Piano Wire’ is lone Hanneman composition on the album and it is definitely one of the best. I’d like to think Jeff would approve. ‘Atrocity Vendor’, at least in its first few measures sounds like it could have come off of ‘Haunting The Chapel’. That intro is so old-school, it might shock you. Kudos for doing something more akin to something Overkill or Anthrax would try. More great lyrics on this track and some more killer lead work as well.
‘You Against You’ is a nod to more recent albums from the band. The mid-tempo seems to be where this album lives mostly, so when it kicks into overdrive it definitely perks your ears up. It is the most “Jeff” sounding track on the album. ‘Pride And Prejudice’ ends the album on a heavy note with a screed on the current state of the world and a dim view for the future.
Armed with 12 new ditties toasting humanity’s self-destruction, the new Slayer album is a complex one. That they have made a complete album in 2015, should surprise none. Whether it lands in the pantheon of their greatest works, I’m not so sure about that one. Things that hold the album back from greatness are the differing styles of producers Greg Fieldman and Terry Date, the choppy mixing, and perhaps a lack of the uniqueness where a lot of the songs just sound like tributes to their past. Perhaps next time Gary Holt can chime in and co-write some tracks too. Overall Repentless is an enjoyable, fierce album that sounds essentially like a Slayer album should.
8 / 10
Slayer’s new album Repentless is fast approaching its September 11th release date from Nuclear Blast. The band has released a video of members Tom Araya, Kerry King, Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt talk about working with metal producing legend Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones, Soundgarden). You can watch the clip at this link or below:
Miss May I has been known to be one of the hardest working artists on the heavy music scene today and rarely leaves much downtime in between recordings. They spent the summer on the Unicorn Main Stage on the Vans Warped Tour, in support of their forthcoming album Deathless (out August 7, 2015 via Rise Records).
“It’s important to have something new and exciting to do these summer fests. We dropped [the last] record a little bit before the summer tour last year and it worked really well for us, so we pushed real hard to write a really good one for this year. Luckily we got it done just in time,” explained bassist Ryan Neff, about the quick turnaround on the new album.
“We didn’t have any breaks really. We just slept after it was done for a month straight,” said vocalist Levi Benton.
“It was three or four weeks off right before this [Warped Tour], but we’ve pretty much been out solid, between touring and going into the studio to do this record, since January,” added Neff.
The band had debuted a new song within their set list “I.H.E.,” giving fans a taste of what was coming from Miss May I.
On Deathless, the band reunited with producer Joey Sturgis, who worked on their Rise Records debut – 2010’s Monument. While they worked with someone familiar, the subject themes on the album took on a heavier yet darker overtone.
“It’s mainly written about the struggles we went through as a band. I know we’re young but we’ve been around for a long time. It’s our fifth album,” explained Benton.
“We had a rough year behind the scenes. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever gone into a recording session with a…I don’t want to say a negative attitude because we were obviously very excited about doing a record…the meanings behind the lyrics that Levi would write and then I would write with him a little bit. There’s a lot more aggression on this record than we’ve ever had before,” added Neff.
Following a year’s worth of solid touring behind their last album, 2014’s Year of the Lion, they began working on new material immediately following the conclusion of their album’s touring cycle. They began writing new material and got the creative juices flowing.
“We came into the studio with over 20 songs on the last record, and then we slim it down to ten. Our guitar players (Justin Aufdemkampe, B.J. Stead) are our main writers. They’re on their computers making riffs all day. So we’re always constantly writing.”
“We wrote songs right when we left the studio. We left the studio, went home for a couple of weeks and there were already a couple of songs. They’re like ‘ah…we’ve got some ideas,’ “ explained Benton.
“It’s a lot different than we used to do it, where we went and got started until that time to record everything. We’d try to have everything done, or at try to start it so the ideas are forming and we can starting working on stuff a little bit earlier now,” added Neff.
They spoke about reuniting with Sturgis, and how working with him differed from working with two different producers on the past couple of albums.
“He definitely brought the heavy back out of us, like the first couple of records, which was fun. We haven’t worked with him in a while so it felt like high school again. It was nice to jump in there,” explained Benton, about the working environment with Sturgis.
“We did one with Machine [2011’s At Heart] and one with Terry Date [2014’s Rise of the Lion]. We bounced around for a couple of records, and the thing about those two records was, with those two particular fellows, we didn’t know them before we started the recording. So you kind of have a two week period where you’re getting to know each other and try to figure out how things work, and with Joey it was Day One and we were already friends, ready to go and the working atmosphere was really great for us,” said Neff.
“We brought a whole new sound too. We’re the band that hates releasing the same thing twice, so it’s nice to jump back to Joey because it’s completely different from the last record,” added Benton, about the musical direction on Deathless and working on it with Sturgis.
As they are now reaching five albums with the release of Deathless, Neff admits building a set list covering a cross section of their catalog has become a lot tougher to please both themselves and their fans watching their shows.
“It’s such a pain in the ass! It is the longest discussion that we have as a group. We all have the same goal – make as many people who are watching our band as happy as we can, and everyone has a different opinion about what particular songs to use. For us, it all still comes down to we only get 30 minutes to play and we’ve got five records with at least 30 minutes of material on it. So we can play one fifth of what we’ve created in our career. Maybe a little bit less. It’s a lot more difficult than it used to be.”
“I remember when we did this tour the first time when we had two records obviously we would play these six or seven songs. Everyone would know these six or seven songs. It was easy. It was a lot more difficult this time.”
While pleasing both themselves and their fans on what songs to play, they have occasionally thrown in Miss May I’s versions of deep cuts, which is met with mixed results.
“I remember we tried in the winter with August Burns Red, we threw in this song ‘Tides’ off of our first record. It’s a diehard fan from the early days would know that song, but we played that and it was a whole lot of arms crossed like ‘what the hell is this?’ We’re on stage having a great time, like ‘I remember this song!’ It’s a lot harder to do those to go over real well. Like I said, the whole point of the show is to make the people buying the tickets happy. Sometimes what we feel like playing is not exactly what they want to hear.”