Anthrax, along with Death Angel, have spent the better part of the last 2 months on the road-supporting and pumping up their new album For All King’s (Megaforce) and as well as supporting their brothers in metal crime the almighty Slayer. But what is a thrash metal band suppose to do once a Big 3 metal assault across the USA comes to an end? Grab Death Angel and do it some more… And that’s what Anthrax set out to do. Continue on and melt the faces of more metal heads!Continue reading →
Sunflower Dead have spent this summer on tour, much like they have the last year. Supporting their 2015 release It’s Time To Get Weird, from their own label Blood Bat Records, the band has gone from unknown to underground sensation in a few short years. Just off the road from the tour bus, we spoke to frontman and leader Michael Del Pizzo about the bands’ recent tour with Avatar, breaking an “art rock” band in today’s climate, and the fun challenges of being a “different” kind of band than people are used to.
With Avatar and Sunflower Dead being like-minded bands and talents, we asked first how the tour went:
The Avatar tour was great. The way it happened was we had not signed onto a booking agent for our first album, and then this album, we were picking up so much steam that their booking agent came to us and said “Look, we want to pick you guys up and then we’ll put you with Avatar to get it going.” We were like ” That’s perfect.” It’s a perfect match. Those guys are very theatrical like we are, but they are a little more metal than we are, and I think we’re a little more rock than we are. The fans, in my opinion, really got their money’s worth. It was a great show and I know people have been emailing me already being like ” Are you guys going to tour with Avatar again? We’d really like to see that again.” I’m like “Hopefully.” We definitely got along great and the show, every night was just phenomenal.
In addition to the recent tour, Avatar played dates with Hellyeah and In This Moment, and have another leg of the Hellyeah tour booked, along with Escape The Fate. As a relatively new band in the last few years, we wondered how the band deals with trying to convert new fans all the time?
The live thing has been great for us since day one. The weird looks we get, they are purposefully weird. We usually start with me just playing the accordion by myself for the crowd, and for people that don’t know or haven’t heard of us, they are just bewildered that a guy in makeup would walk onstage by himself with an accordion at a metal show, but I’ll tell you what, it gets everyone’s attention and makes them shut up. The camera phones start coming out. They start filming and then when the band joins me, we start our set, and by the end of the night, we’ve made a whole slew of new fans.
Michael is a well-known multi-instrumentalist and singer, but the accordion is his main weapon of choice. We asked what drew him to him to a non-traditional instrument and when did he figure out if it could work in rock context:
When I was younger, I played the piano. I play the piano in Sunflower Dead and we haven’t been able to bring it out on the stage alone yet. I play the piano, so I just wanted to pick something up that was challenging. I never has any kind of magnetism towards the guitar or the bass or drums. I just wanted to challenge myself, and I went to a used music store when I was a kid and bought an accordion. I picked the thing up and it felt like eerily right. I just started writing on it. I don’t know why, it just worked. I showering it to my guitar player at the time when I was a kid and he was like “Wow that is really cool.” I showed him how I was playing and he was like ” Wow. That is he creepiest thing I’ve ever heard.” I don’t know how it worked for me when we started Sunflower Dead. Jamie, my guitar player in the band said ” Why don’t you play that instrument you play, the accordion. It’s just so visual.” I was like “Cool.” It’s coming to the band, and when you put it together with the band and the makeup and the music, it just fits.
Do you use a special custom microphone? How do you mic that for a live a club setting, a club PA?
I have a mini accordion. It’s made by Roland. It’s made completely different from an acoustic accordion. The mic actually plugs directly into the accordion itself and I go direct into the PA system. It’s all MIDI. It’s like this little keyboard thing I have. It’s crazy! Roland did a really great job with mocking what an accordion does, but giving something with the versatility to create sound and just have it be very simple work. If I had the mic and the acoustic accordion with the band, that would be terrible.
There is a tactile thing about accordions, if you’ve ever played one. There’s a pressure and a feeling like a real piano. Does your instrument simulate that well or did you have to get used to it?
It worked really well. The feel is there, it’s amazing what you can do with these things. There’s no doubt about it, what Roland did and the feel of the instrument is incredible. I love it. I actually love it more than the acoustic accordion because of other things I can do with it. It’s quite an instrument. They’re not cheap, but I’ve beaten it up. I’ve broken it a couple of times already because I’m a little violent with it onstage, but hey, it’s all about a show, right?
It is all about the show, and that’s the thing. I know there’s an audience of people who appreciate theatricality, not just makeup and costumes. It’s putting on a show. It’s a display of performance art really. It comes from art. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that and just making your music as art, not a band with a gimmick.
Sure. The thing about having an image, it’s funny. There are a million bands who try to be the whole image thing and if you really don’t have the art part of it to back it up, people just see through it very quickly and write it off. They’re like ” Oh, it’s a gimmick.” In fact, I believe we do have the art to back it up, but we still have to fight in Sunflower Dead to show people that no, it’s not just a gimmick. They are actually challenging you to pay attention with this image and what I’m doing artistically. It’s easy to write people off when they have makeup or look, but I believe that what we’re doing is challenging people a little bit to have fun with them, and then when they get it, they’re like okay cool. I see what’s going on here. That’s just my personal feelings on it.
On October 8th, 2014, In the Minds of Evil North American tour featuring Carach Angren, Abysmal Dawn, Inquisition, Septic Flesh, and headliners, Deicide, took The Webster in Hartford, CT by storm. It is not often that a tour package truly puts together from to opener to headliner a bill where every band brings out excitement in the audience. This tour, however, defied those odds and had every fan in attendance wanting more after the final note ended.
First up is symphonic black metal three-piece, Carach Angren. Coming into this show, I had not heard a single peep about this band or what they were all about. Sure, some of you may think that is ignorant and I should listen to the band’s work first. I, however, love the element of surprise and this band surely had the upper hand on my ignorant ears. Most of the set was dedicated to the latest album, Where the Corpses Sink Forever, with half of the songs being from said album. Personally, my favorite track played, entitled ‘Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log’, is off of the previous album that is entirely about The Flying Dutchmen legend. Upon doing some research, I found that Carach Angren albums are all concept albums, each about a different folklore/legend. This band will certainly be making their way onto my iTunes library in no time.
Another new band to me was up next on the bill, Abysmal Dawn. Awkwardly enough, I confused this band for Amberian Dawn which is a vastly different band. In my opinion, I think I made off a lot better with Abysmal over Amberian. I unfortunately do not have any of the song titles that played, but I am certain we got one song off the yet to be released album entitled Obsolescence (Relapse). If that song was just a taste of things to come, I will be sure to pick up the next release without a doubt. Abysmal Dawn rocked The Webster hard throughout the whole set with their aggressive yet groovy death metal which certainly left me wanting to hear more of what the LA foursome had to offer.
The celestial black metal two piece known as Inquisition had the middle of the card to play (which I was extremely excited for as they have become one of my favorite black metal bands out today). I figured with a new album out last year and minimal North American tour exposure we would get a good chunk of new material and we did. The set opened up with ‘Force of the Floating Tomb’ (yes I chanted “raise the chalice” with Dagon) and saw other new favorites ‘Master of the Cosmological Black Cauldron’ as well as the closing song, ‘Infinite Interstellar Genocide’. The Hartford crowd also got older tracks such as ‘Those of the Night’, ‘Nefarious Dismal Orations’, and ‘Command of the Dark Crown’. Overall, Inquisition got to play 8 songs in total over a 40 minute span which actually seems like a lot, but of course I could really go for a headline tour at some point by the next album’s release. If you have not checked this band out yet, the new album, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist), was one of the best albums to come out in 2013 and I highly recommend it.
What better way to follow up the band that released my favorite album in 2013 then to have the next band playing be the creators of my favorite album of 2011! Septicflesh, who may be the greatest extreme metal band out there today, brought their A game as per expected with the creepy sounds of the Prague Philharmonic playing over the PA. I may have mentioned how good The Great Mass (Season of Mist/Prosthetic) was in 2011, but Septicflesh’s newest release that came out this year, Titan, is also a larger than life release from these Greek geniuses. Ironically, only two new songs made the cut for the set. Even so, the two choices were excellent choices with ‘Order of Dracul’ and ‘Burn’. Staple songs such as opener ‘Vampire From Nazareth’, ‘Communion’, and ‘A Great Mass of Death’ kept the fans head’s banging and bodies colliding in the pit. Typically, I have seen Septicflesh close their sets with ‘Five Pointed Star’. This time around, I actually got to see one of my favorite SF tracks as the closer, ‘Anubis’. I am happy to report that I sang along with the Sotiris vocal recordings over the PA while others just started at me like I had six heads.
To close out the night, The Webster attendees were greeted to a lengthy set list from the death metal icons themselves, Deicide. The set list contained a couple of select tracks from the newest release (‘Beyond Salvation’, ‘End the Wrath of God’, ‘Thou Begone’, and the title track, ‘In the Minds of Evil’). However, most of the remainder of the set list brought a ton of classic Deicide for fans ranging from as young as 17 to as old as 48! Some of the classics played were: ‘Once Upon the Cross’, ‘They Are the Children of the Underworld’, ‘Dead by Dawn’, ‘Dead but Dreaming’, ‘Trifixion’, and the set closer, ‘Kill the Christian’. The moment that I got the most excited (along with a lot of other fans around me) is when album track ‘Scars of the Crucifix’ was played. Something about that song live just brings out the crazy side in people which I absolutely loved. Front man/bassist Glenn Benton was in his usual form. He even got a good laugh out of the audience when he flicked a bass pick over to a fan, the fan missed it, and he exclaimed “Nice catch, Fuck Face!” Overall, this showing by Deicide was the best I have seen them yet and I am looking forward to the next time they come around.
Even though I was coming right from my day job almost two hours away, had a hard time finding parking with no cash on hand, and was a little nervous for my interview with Christos from Septicflesh (coming soon) this journey was very much worth it! This was also my first show at The Webster in Hartford and I have to say I certainly enjoyed the venue. I will definitely be making a return to Connecticut for the next big tour that does not make it to Massachusetts for sure. For now, I am going to catch up on my Deicide and Inquisition while growing my music library with albums from Abysmal Dawn and Carach Angren.
A popular name amongst the musical community, there are several Ghouls in the band world. There are the legendary punk rockers from Japan, the cult black metal outfit from the UK and the gothic German rock band who only made one 7-inch vinyl. There are also a few others, including the subject of this review, the Ghoul of Oakland, California. With a cult following and more masks than WesCraven’s garage, Hang Ten (Tankcrimes) is the quartet’s latest EP and it’s one that combines their penchant for the thrash, the punk and the death.
Largely instrumental, the six-song release weighs in at just over 17 minutes long, giving you small and quick blasts of music throughout. Leading with speedy thrasher ‘The Midnight Ride of the Cannibals MC,’ Hang Ten starts and continues to be short but deathly sweet. From the 70’s punk-esque beginnings of ‘Sidehackers’ to the mixture of death and hardcore vocals on ‘Kregg’ this EP may sound at first like a straight up thrash affair but for those willing to give it another listen, there’s more dimensions to Hang Ten than first meets the ears. Got a spare twenty minutes? Give this a try.