Sad news to report as Marilyn Manson and former The Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete is in the hospital and in a coma with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a solo bicycle accident. According to his wife, Anne, the 56-year-old musician sustained serious head trauma and the prognosis is varied, but still allows for the possibility he will recover. In an Instagram post on Friday (January 24), Anne wrote: Continue reading
Davis M. Shubs of Philadelphia rockers The Bad Larrys shares his favorite concert memory with Ghost Cult. Continue reading
Post-hardcore fans rejoice! According to a reply in a tweet by Cedric Bixler-Zavala, The Mars Volta may be reuniting and doing it soon. A fan tweeted some love for the seminal band that broke up officially in 2012, and Cedric responded with a not so subtle answer about a pending reunion. Former members of The Mars Volta play in offshoot bands At The Drive-In and Antemasque among others. No word yet if a return from TMV includes new music or just touring. Continue reading
Despite this being a début release, the name Schiermann is highly regarded in the contemporary progressive metal/djent community. At the helm is guitarist Chris Schiermann, who over the course of a decade of recording and writing music has befriended many titans in the genre, with the likes of Animals As Leaders, DispersE and TesseracT, and has taken inspiration from a wide range of influences and styles from such contemporary metal maestros to the virtuoso guitar players, most notably like Randy Rhoads. A wide palette that is abundantly clear on his début solo project release Schiermann (Purple Sun), which includes a plethora of guest appearances from such alumni as mentioned and thus offers a vibrant mix and character. Continue reading
With their debut mini-album on the horizon, Yorkshire UK discordant hardcore newbies False Flags have made available the excellent preview track, ‘Last Screen Goddess’ that turned heads at Ghost Cult towers. Vocalist Chris Jenkinson helped us piece the puzzle of the band together…
You all know each other from various bands (Red Stars Parade, Whores x 3, Year Of The Man) from a couple of years ago, so how did things come together, and considering you’ve had a break, why now?
We all met through playing gigs together in our old bands back in 2005ish. After all the bands split up, Charlie told me that he, Mark and our old drummer Kev were jamming some new material and I, being quite drunk at the time, said I would be up for doing vocals. The day after, I couldn’t remember saying that at all!
But I still joined anyway.
A year or so of writing and playing the occasional show, Kev left the band so we met Mike through advertising for a new drummer. We’re all in our mid 30’s now, so I think we just do this to get out of the house and hang out.
You’re self-releasing your mini-album. What does “DIY” mean to you?
DIY, to me, is just cutting out all the bullshit and stress that we’ve had in the past with regards to putting the mini-album out. It’s just so easy to put it out ourselves these days rather than trying to get a label to do it.
Speaking of which, Hexmachine is out on 20th November. What can people expect who don’t know about you?
It’s a pretty heavy, straight to the point record from start to finish but you can tell that there’s a structure to it. Rather than most math/hardcore records being all out nuts, we’ve kept it so you can follow what’s going on so its a tad more palatable. I think it’s an age thing really.
You’ve made lead-off track, ‘Last Screen Goddess’, available. Tell us about it, and what do you think it brings that maybe others don’t?
It’s one of the last tracks that we wrote for the record and it kind of just wrote itself. The name came from a headline in the newspaper when Elizabeth Taylor died so I wrote the lyrics about a fictitious character and what they would do to become a famous film star.
It’s pretty much a verse, chorus, verse tune which I don’t think many bands are doing in the DIY scene these days.
What bands do you relate to, and are there any in particular in mind when you’re looking in terms of what you want to emulate?
We’re still fans of the bands that we listened to when we were kids. Pixies, Nirvana, Deftones etc, so when it comes to writing I try to use the same dynamics with a cleaner vocal for the verses and then scream the “chorus”, but then put that into a hardcore band. I remember going to see The Chariot years ago and thinking, that’s the type of band I want to be in, so we bring that dynamic to the table too! Structured chaos!
What’s the deal with the lyrics… Is it true you’re a bit random with them? Are you not worried about not connecting, or are the words just a means to an end? Or is it just trying to do something a bit different and not just bro-downing?
The lyrics are kind of weird really. Each song has a theme but they’re not really about anything in particular. Most of the time we come up with the title first, then I try to write around that. Charlie came in one day and said “Can we call a song ‘Pet Wolf’?” So that ended up being about one of my Chihuahuas being a little shit!
I’m a big fan of lyricists like Cedric Bixler (The Mars Volta) and John Congleton (The Paperchase) so I try to do that “interpret it how you like” kind of thing.
How’s it all fit together with your every day lives? What you guys up to outside of the band?
I have a Mrs, 3 kids, a mortgage and work 6 days a week, so for me this is just a hobby that I love doing and it’s the best way for me to still hang out with old friends. The older you get, you tend to drift away from your mates with settling down and stuff, so it’s cool that my partner still lets me go out and pretend to be in my 20s and fuck about in a band!
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
Following the ending of The Mars Volta, it seemed the long time working relationship and friendship between Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez had sadly soured and it did seem that tensions were high and this dynamic duo was gone for good. Then, out of the blue arrived Antemasque, with both of them at the helm once again.
After the visceral post-hardcore of At The Drive-In and the explorative and unpredictable prog journeys of the The Mars Volta, Antemasque (Nadie Sound) sees them in new territory. This is a much more straightforward album than they have been accustomed to producing, part blues rock, part indie rock (think NME fodder) with shades of punk. Aside from Bixler-Zavala’s instantly recognisable voice this has little in common with their previous works, and even then this suitably lacks the vocal spite in At The Drive-In.
This is the most simplistic album of the duo’s career; song structures are a stock verse-chorus formula, only 3-4 minute average durations and focused on catchiness and tune rather than tangents and thought provoking routes. The indie vibes may put off many people especially those who discovered them from a progressive background, but otherwise this should make a great summer soundtrack, especially in a festival setting.
Lightning can in fact strike twice. Perennially hard-working metal legend Max Cavalera has been a prolific writer and frequent collaborator, both in his for band Sepultura, but also in his other projects such as the long running Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. Twenty years ago Max formed a partnership with Fudge Tunnel’s Alex Newport and Nailbomb was born. One of the best heavy albums ever, the true spirit of creativity and melding the styles of the artists involved. Along the same lines, but conscious of not repeating the past, Max has a new group in Killer Be Killed, featuring leaders of the heavy music scene like Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Troy Sanders of Mastodon, and Dave Elitch (ex-The Mars Volta) to create something truly unique, heavy, yet quite melodic. We caught up with Max by phone at his home in Arizona, and in the many times we have chatted with the man, he has rarely sounded this excited about a new project.
Several years in the making and now poised to come out, Killer Be Killed has been the buzz of the metal press for sometime yet. Max was positively jubilant discussing the album and the final results.
“I love how Killer Be Killed came out. I really love the blend of all the melody and thrash. I really love all the guys in the band, Troy, Greg, and Dave. We made the best record we could possibly make. Only a few times in life you get a chance to make a special album like Killer Be Killed. I love hearing all the great reviews coming in from all over, really great people are talking about it, and that the people really love the record. It’s really amazing to me that the album is getting this great praise, and I’m very excited for it.”
Instantly noticeable upon hearing the album is how melodic the album is, without sacrificing any of the heaviness. We asked Max what the genesis of the sound was and if this element was pre-planned:
“It came naturally to us, but we really wanted it. You know Greg and me have a side to us that has, an attitude like Nailbomb, really really aggressive and we wanted it to keep it on the cutting edge of heavy music. So part of Killer Be Killed is a part that very fast, thrash and on cutting edge kind of vibe. The other influences that come from Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan. There are some vocal melodies and parts Greg singing his ass off on on this record, throwing on some of these really catchy choruses. Really beautiful, beautiful melodies. I don’t even think he does that kind of stuff in Dillinger. He did it especially for Killer Be Killed. Then Troy was just amazing man. He has such an amazing voice, with the parts he put on. It was so amazing. Even I was surprised at how great it was and I am so stoked for how the record came out.”
For all the deserved hype surrounding the big name guys coming together to make this record, Dave Elitch put down a brutal and classic performance on this album, almost like a secret weapon. Max weighed in on this: “Dave’s a great guy and a great drummer. He tore it up with (The) Mars Volta. I totally agree with you, he is really like the secret weapon of the band. He really shined on this recording as a killer drummer. Some of the fills he did were just unbelievable on this record. He really did some Dave Lombardo stuff. I so happy that he got to do that and he contributed that. It’s great to have someone who can play technical and fast. Dave can really do it all. It was super cool and really great having him in the band. He killed it!”
Even though Max purposefully wanted to evade any musical references to Nailbomb, aside from his own writing style, the KBK album does have a fire political angst running through it. We asked if the album was meant to be so forward and radical in its philosophy.
“There is a political side to the album, it’s very much against police brutality. Like ‘Setting Fire To Your Flag’ is very political. There is a song, ‘Forbidden Fire’, about kids in The Middle East who can not listen to metal. There is a level of a lot of political stuff that is similar to Nailbomb. Even how it started, the project started with ‘Face Down’, that was the first song we wrote for the record, and ‘Face Down’ is a Nailbomb type of song. And the second song we wrote I.E.D., is also Nailbomb type of song.”
“But what I think is cool is that Killer Be Killed is different than Nailbomb too, and has a different vibe. I think what is cool is that it is different than Nailbomb; there is a lot more melody. I am so glad that Killer Be Killed is its own thing. I didn’t want to just make another Nailbomb. Nailbomb was already done and I’m really proud that this album has its own set of values and its own sound, and its own identity, and is its own thing. It was very important to me.”
Max is very fond of producing his own albums, so we were intrigued as to why he was comfortable handing the reigns over to someone else. Picking Josh Wilbur, whom Max had never worked with before, seemed to be a very inspired choice:
“Yeah was a great guy. You know he did a great job on the Gojira album and the Lamb of God records. He was a big guy in the studio for us. He is fan of all of ours. He was a huge Sepeultura fan, and he learned everything he knows from Andy Wallace, which is to me, he is really the master of production. He produced Chaos A.D. (Roadrunner). So Josh really came from that school. So to me working with Josh was like working with Andy, in the sonic field. I also think Josh took it very seriously, to make a really great record. He tried to get something really special out of all of us, who are very established musicians. Sometimes its hard to take established musicians and get something great out of them. It can be very hard to do. Sometimes you get lazy and you don’t really want to do a lot of the work to get the best out of it. Josh did that. He really drilled the work out of us. He somehow made everybody excited and get the best out of us, to make a great album. He got the best out of all of us: out of me, out of Greg, out out of Troy. At the end of the day it was the right choice to make the record with Josh. I think he did a fantastic job.”
“I love the sound of the record. Especially a lot of the rhythm guitar work. I wrote 80% of the rhythm guitars. And also I played most of the riffs on the album, on the recording. So I worked very hard on the writing of the record and the creation of the songs. I worked very hard with Josh to get the right sound.”
“You know I like to do it all. I like to produce my own stuff, and I also like to work with different producers. You can get really cool stuff from working with different producers. It was really important for this record to have a guy who can get stuff that you might not get naturally, and you need the right guy to get that out of you. And Josh was the right guy for it. “
Much has been talked about the punk-rock vibe and guerrilla style used to put the album together with, but Max demystified that idea a little and gave us a breakdown of how the album was really created:
“It was done in different phases. In the first phase it was just me and Greg, and we wrote some songs. Then where was a phase where it was just me and Dave, and we wrote some more songs. Then it was me, Greg, and Troy and we wrote even more songs! And then we entered the studio and we wrote more songs, and we used some of the old songs, and some of the stuff just came out in the studio. Like ‘Fire…’, it was born in the studio. And its got new stuff like ‘Robots…’, and ‘Forbidden Fire’ and ’12 Labors’… they are newer songs, that we gave the same treatment as the older songs. In the end, even though the album was made quite fast, when you hear the songs they sound quite elaborate. We worked for a long time on the record, much more than it seems like it really was.”
In spite of the success of creating this special album, fans of KBK will have to wait until 2015 to see them live on a stage as a touring entity.
“Yeah, next year man. It’s going to have to be next year. Greg is on the road with Dillinger. Troy is on the road with Mastodon. I am going on tour with Korn in Russia. Next year we are all going to dedicate some time only for Kill or Be Kill, and try and get to play some of this music live for people.”
KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES
Collaborating with people and attempting to create something original in music, or any kind of art is always a risky proposition. Much like a relationship you must trust the process and become vulnerable in order to let your guard down and let things happen naturally. Sometimes things have a way of coming together in an unexpected way, and sometimes they go south in a big way. Especially when said collaborators are legendary figures in a scene, expectations tend to run high. We are writing of course about super-groups and really notable ones like Killer Be Killed who just finished their self-titled, debut album for Nuclear Blast. Names that have defined three generations of heavy music fans such as Cavalera, Puciato, Sanders, and Elitch put their stamp on this recording, making a memorable, political flavored, heavy album that certainly lives up to the hype.
Holding nothing back right out of the gate, ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ is blast of super-catchy, melodic post-hardcore. From Max Cavalera’s instantly recognizable gritty guitar tone, to the vocal majesty of Troy Sanders on the verses and Greg Puciato on the choruses, they let you know that this album is going to be special. There is a great breakdown where Max comes in on the vocals and there are a few thrash breakdowns added in. For the most part is sounds pretty smooth and well done. The chorus is almost a little too sugary for my taste, but it gets the job done for a lead off track. The next song ‘Face Down’ is a step up, more metal and pissed off all the way through. It is not unusual to hear Max and Greg switching off lines, but Troy is really the interesting element here. Troy’s voice being so strong, he struck a balance between heaviness and melody that is a great treat. By the time you get to ‘Melting of My Marrow’, you find the real star of the album is Dave Elitch (ex-The Mars Volta) whose power-house drumming and killer grooves makes the tracks jump through your speakers. The best cuts are the groovy ‘Snakes of Jehova’, ‘Save The Robots’, ‘Fire To Your Flag’, ‘I.E.D., ‘Dust Into Darkness’ (the most Dillinger type track), and ‘Twelve Labors’.
Many of the songs hold up on repeated listens, while a few are just good, not great. For some, it may take a few listens to really sink in and get a hold of you. This may be since the album was written over a brief period of time without a ton of wood-shedding. It’s raw in a good way, and not all balls out heavy at the time either. Mellow parts, interesting use of vocorders, dynamic shifts, tempo drops all give the album a lot of character. Producer Josh Wilbur’s (Lamb of God, Gojira, Avenged Sevenfold) clean tones definitely are an ear opener too. This album gives a much needed shot in the arm of the current scene, and sounds like nothing else. Here is hoping they get to more music like this in the future.
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Keith (Keefy) Chachkes