Monday, February 19, 2018

Tri-Valley Music Venues: A Tale of Struggle and Nonexistence

Somewhere in Dublin, CA

    Containing the cities of Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Dublin and Danville, the
Tri-Valley is a massive region located in the Bay Area. With such a massive population many have asked the question, why are there so few music venues? …If any for that matter…

    In this article I am going to offer my thoughts as to why there are not a lot of venues in this area, but I want to begin by pointing out there is no definite reason. I think there are multiple reasons and people can make the case for more than one. After connecting and meeting some musicians from this area over the years, I do not think that it because there are no musical acts in the area.

    There is definitely a desire for more music venues and a chance for up and coming bands to play shows. Most of the time the only option is to play in major cities like San Francisco and Oakland. Those cities already have a large amount of bands competing to play the venues available to them, so for a band in the Tri-Valley you are already facing a real uphill battle when it comes to getting a show.

    One reason as to why there are not many music venues in the Tri-Valley Area is quite simple to point out, and that is that it is an expensive area to live in. Property values are ridiculously high and leases are set at such a high rate that turnover is extremely high. If you were to open a venue in one of these cities you would need to be booking shows where you are constantly getting a return, because once your expenses start overshadowing your profits, you are pretty much toast.

    I am a resident of San Ramon and have seen over the last seventeen years living here numerous businesses go under due to the rise in rents. At one time San Ramon had a Warehouse Records, however, with economic factors like Amazon and iTunes along with the lease in the shopping center going up, they were not able to survive. Another interesting point to bring up about the shopping center where Warehouse Records was located in, is that for years numbers business have come and gone with the only main staple being Starbucks and Petco.

    Another reason why cities in the Tri-Valley do not have music venues is that the people who run these cities are corrupt pieces of human garbage only willing to okay development projects for new homes and apartments. Yes, supply and demand would say that with people wanting to live in the area you will have a need for housing, but I tend to notice the amount of new developments is ludicrous. In the end, you know these city council members are getting kickbacks from the developers. I look at Dublin and can tell that the city council is addicted to the offers made by major developers, because over half that city is and endless sea of apartments and condos! 

    The final reason as to why there are so few music venues in the region is that people create this preconceived notion that having a music venue will bring out trouble. These cities want to portrait a certain image and you know hosting potential punk, metal and rock shows might challenge their perfect little world. This is what sort of happened to the Cactus Club in San Jose, CA. I watched a documentary about this historic music venue and one reason why it was struggling in the end was that the city felt like troublemakers were coming through due to the music venue.

    This is a sad misconception, because if we really stop and think about it, a music venue can take kids with nothing to do off the streets and give them an environment to feel safe in. Having kids on the streets with nothing to do actually increase the chances of crime and dangerous behavior. I have always felt like the argument that a music venue would create more crime is just pure ignorance. Crime and the history of why crime increases is more complex and cities should think about that before making weak accusations against music venues.

    In the end, I write this article with the hope of getting more people to become aware of the insufficient number of the music venues in the Tri-Valley. I hope to also inspire people to take action and come up with solutions to this problem. Of course, it will require tackling difficult factors such as the economic factor and the city council factor, but if people are passionate about live music I believe the fight may be worth it. I am optimistic and hope that we can getting something going, so please either share this article, or reach out through the R & R Rocks Facebook Page and see how you can help spread the word about the fight to build a strong music scene in this area.

R & R Rocks Facebook Page:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Putrid & Pathetic Split Release "Devorando Carne Divina"

    Teaming up for an unholy assault upon the world, Putrid and Pathetic look to unleash extreme apocalyptic chaos with the release of, “Devorando Carne Divina.” The split features eight tracks of vicious blackened death metal that shall slam through your speakers with behemoth unapologetic force powerful enough to demolish Vatican City.

    I am quite familiar with Putrid since I have been reviewing their releases for a couple years now. The Lima, Peru based band blends black metal and death metal to create some blasphemous sounding extreme music. The raw sound that they conjure up is in my opinion very bold and instantly grabs your attention.

    Putrid offers four killer songs on this split and they once again establish themselves as a strong up and coming force in the extreme metal world. The first song, “We are the Cult of Cain,” pulls listeners into an abysmal world of crushing guitars and decimating drums. Adding to the already destructive sounding mix, the insidious growls provide by the band’s vocalist inject a truly sinister touch. The second track, “The Great Serpent Await Us,” begins with a burst of feedback and then explodes into another tornado of musical insanity.

    The third song by Putrid, “The Age of a Lower Race,” is a juggernaut of pulverizing noise terror. I am instantly drawn to the gruesome sounding riffs and all around diabolic verses. Putrid’s last song on the split, “The Curse!!,” is a cover that was originally recorded by the band Slaughter (Not the annoying hair metal band Slaughter). I thought it was a good cover and I like how Putrid added their distinct take on it instead of just copying the original song note for note.

   The other band featured on this split is the Canadian blackened death metal act, Pathetic, and this was my first introduction to them. I must say that Pathetic is a solid act and one I shall definitely keep an eye on as well as go back and listen to their previous recordings. The band delivers such unforgiving and aggressive tracks of bombastic sounding blackened death metal. The vocalist has an incredible growl that stands out during their tracks and provides vivid lyrical delivery.
    Pathetic’s four songs on this split had me constantly headbanging and reveling in the extreme excess of morbid brutality. “Bataclan” is an assault of distorted hell and I could not believe how well the guitar and bass sound was captured. You definitely get a punch right to the gut when this band hammers out their riffs. “Cannibal Fuck Fest,” is a gory cut of music that reminds me of classic Impetigo with its burst of vile sounding intensity.

    Probably my favorite song on this split is, “Army of God,” and one I think Pathetic did a stellar job writing. The song exposes the disgusting religious fanatics who are part of that Christian terror group and contains some ultra killer riffs. I also really liked the drumming and felt like the song’s overall structure was very well composed. Their final song, “The 12 Kings of Hell (Boleskine),” maintains the band’s monstrous style of blackened death and simply does not disappoint.

    In the end, if you enjoy blistering blackened death metal then you need to check out this split and start paying attention to what Putrid and Pathetic are doing. Whoever came up with the idea of bringing these two bands together is a genius, because their styles really do compliment each other. Easily one of the best splits I have heard in a few years, so really check it out and support the bands!

Check out the split via the band's Bandcamps :

Putrid :

Pathetic :

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Project Pain "Brothers in Blood"

    Project Pain is band that continues to crank out wicked thrash music with each new album. I have been reviewing releases from this band since their 2012 debut album, “I Have Sinned.” Over the years I have witnessed them maintain a solid presence in the world of thrash metal by not compromising and constantly cranking out some killer thrash riffs.

    The Netherlands based band does not deviate from their previous releases with, “Brothers in Blood,” which is their third full-length album. Project Pain’s sound stays true to that old school thrash mentality and I like how they focus on coming up with solid kick ass thrash riffs. There are so many bands trying to be Slayer knockoffs that I like when I band focuses on coming up with their own unique thrash sound instead of being just another copycat.

    “Brothers in Blood,” contains ten aggressive tracks that are guaranteed to make you want to bang your head and jump into the pit. The opening song, “Primator,” unleashes a tsunami of merciless riffs and skull crushing drum parts. Overall I liked the sound of the song and I felt like the production was executed extremely well. This might be the best produced and recorded Project Pain album to date. Song number two, “Final March,” is a piece of music that throws you into a chaotic battle field of vicious distortion that has you locked-in until the song finishes.

    I really like the intensity that Project Pain delivers with this album and song number three, “Silent Invader,” is an adrenaline pumping melee of thrash. The band’s guitarists throws in some tasty licks and his solos get the job done. Tracks four and five, “Eternal Flames” and Decay,” maintain a bellicose tone and keep the thrash assault going strong.

    The final half of the album is really no different from the first half, because Project Pain does not stop hammering out their brand of unforgiving thrash metal. The instrumental piece, “Fueled by Fear,” I thought was a creative way to set up the next song, “Driven by Hate.” There are some well written bass parts and the guitar parts really capture your attention. The final song, “I Don’t Give a Fuck,” I think was the best choice to end the album. The song’s pissed off sounding theme and blitzkrieg of riffs once again shows Project Pain’s ability to write some killer thrash music.

    As I stated earlier, this is quite possibly the best sounding Project Pain release I have heard reviewed and I can hear the band pushing themselves to write even more aggressive and explosive sounding pieces thrash metal. After hearing what they did with this album I shall be looking forward to hearing how they can expand from here. If you enjoy thrash metal that gives you a rush of intense headbanging, then you will want to check this album out right away!

Project Pain "Silent Invader" :

Project Pain FB Page:

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Sepulchre Releases New Single "Iniquitous Indiscipline”

    The Santa Rosa based death metal trio, Sepulchre, conjures up a brand new single so insidious sounding that you are left speechless after listening to the brutal onslaught. Recorded for a Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore Compilation, the new single, “Iniquitous Indiscipline,” contains some dynamic extreme compositions that convey an unforgiving overall sound of vicious death metal.

    Unlike some bands who just stick to the basic death metal formula, Sepulchre explores more progressive structures to incorporate into their blistering style of extreme music. Every second of this new single keeps you engaged and succumbing to the extreme realm of mind bending brutal guitar riffs, wicked bass parts and ear shattering drumming. The vocal presentation is another area that took me by surprise and you hear a strong delivery similar to that of bands such as Morbid Angel, Obituary, Death and Entombed. The music just hits you with such tremendous force that you really want to keep listening to this song over and over again.

    I have seen this band live on multiple occasions and I feel that, “Iniquitous Indiscipline,” finally captured their distinct savage and raw style of technical death metal. They are a creative bunch of musicians who are extreme metal fanatics, so I know that they have plenty more to offer the world of extreme music. I really would like to see a full-length album soon, but in the meantime I can listen to this song until they are ready to begin work on a full-length release. Definitely check it out if you are fan of old school death metal with a progressive mindset.

Check out the new single below via their bandcamp:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Summoning "With Doom We Come"

   In the world of atmospheric black, Summoning is without debate one of the most respected and important acts around. Using music to create vivid sounding landscapes that bring Middle Earth and the world of Tolkien to life, Summoning has released album after album of captivating music. “

   The band’s new album, “With Doom We Come,” is another part of Summoning’s epic journey into the world of atmospheric black metal and is an album that continues their legacy in the black metal sub-genre. The band’s first album, “Lugburz,” released in 1995 is a black metal gem and one of my favorites, however, the album is very raw and not as atmospheric as following releases. It is really not until their second album, “Minas Morgul,” that Summoning fully dives into the atmospheric black metal world and truly became an inspiration for so many bands.

   On their 8th studio album, “With Doom We Come,” Summoning continues along the path of epic cinematic sounding fantasy themed atmospheric black metal and creates a unique release that does standout from the other albums in the band’s discography. Compared to some previous albums, I feel like this new release is much more cinematic and the production goes for a very grandiose sound at times. Another area I want to focus on is the vocals and how Protector and Silenius trade of lead vocals throughout the album. I believe the vocals were something I took notice of the most when listening to this album. Although I think both singers do a solid job handling the vocal parts, I tend to prefer the songs with Silenius more than the ones with Protector.

   Out of the eight songs, you will not find any weak tracks, however, there are definitely songs I would recommend over others. The opening song, “Tar-Calion,” is a strong piece of music with thunderous war like drums to start off the album in triumphant fashion. Also, I really like how the guitar builds up this dark sounding mood that compliments the vivid cinematic like atmosphere. The next track, “Silvertine,” is a more bombastic sounding piece and the style of songwriting definitely reminds me of previous Summoning songs that have that majestic atmospheric quality.

   Tracks 3 and 4, “Carcharoth,” and “Herumor,” are two solid tracks and contain these vibrant sounds which create powerful and impressive landscapes for the vocals to narrate over. “Barrow-downs,” the fifth song on the album, is an instrumental song that creates a suspenseful mood which I could see being used to accompany a scene in a movie based on Tolkien’s writings. “Night Fell Behind,” offers a burst of guitar distortion in the beginning of the song and maintains a very consistent sounding tone. My favorite song on the album, “Mirklands,” is a dynamic song with a strong atmosphere and haunting vocals provided by Silenius. I also like how the instruments were layered and it is just a really well produced song.

   To be honest I was not completely sold with the album’s final song, “With Doom I Come,” which was actually the first single off the album. Before the album was released I heard this song and had some reservations mainly due to the vocals and instrumental structure. Now after listening to the entire album and looking at the song as the album’s outro, I understand where the band is coming from and why it is the outro. I think the choir vocals on the song are probably my favorite part and remind me of classic Summoning songs like, “Farewell” and “Land of the Dead.”

   In the end, “With Doom We Come,” is a release that I think fans of atmospheric black metal will appreciate and let their minds escape into a world of endless epic sounding compositions. Sometimes you have to not set expectations too high, which I think I did at first when I heard the first single. After listening to the entire album one cannot deny the high caliber of musicianship and songwriting skills that Summoning has to offer. Just like the one ring to rule them all, Summoning is the one atmospheric black metal band to rule them all.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ethos "Two Song Demo"

  Hailing from the dark shadowy lands of Livermore, CA, the black metal band Ethos offers listeners two new songs of blasphemous grim sounding musical retribution. Building off their debut EP, “Empty Path,” that was released a couple years back, the band continues to write songs of blackened death like terror and keeps finding new ways to express their extreme music making talents.

    It was around two years ago that I interviewed the band's guitarist/vocalist for this blog and talked in-depth about the EP. I remembering hearing great potential on that debut EP and felt like the band had something to offer the extreme metal world. Compared to most black metal bands, Ethos wasn’t trying to go for the simple trim picking riffs and gimmicky simplistic satanic lyrical content that has been overused to death.

    The two new demo songs, “Unfathomable Essence” and “Decried by the Presence Beyond,” convey a more unapologetic and heavier tone. There are these thick layers of guitar that provide a more bombastic delivery. I find the recording of the vocals to be extremely well matched with the instrumental compositions which the band also did on “Empty Path.” Another strong area is the drumming and I notice a slight improvement in the playing and recording of the drum parts.

    “Decried by the Presence Beyond,” is probably my favorite of the two, mainly due to the heavier and slower riff sections that present more of a death doom sound, yet still conveys that raw black metal tone. You feel as though you are being sucked into a void of endless darkness falling through time and space with the sounds of guitar distortion and drums to lead you on through the cosmic infinity. Overall, it is a well crafted piece of music and one that I believe helps to separate Ethos from being labeled a generic black metal act.

    The other song on the demo, “Unfathomable Essence,” is a solid piece of music and definitely has the potential to become a strong song if featured on a full-length album. I just wish the drums would have been recorded slightly louder, because the drumming seems to get downed out by the guitars. The song’s overall atmosphere is what really captured my attention and the musical composition is also well thought out.

    After hearing these two songs I am definitely looking forward to Ethos releasing more new material, especially with what I think can be explored further if the band builds off the musical style that they established on these two tracks. If you enjoy raw black metal that opens your mind to the dark worlds beyond and shows no mercy, you need to check out what Ethos is currently doing.

Ethos “Decried by the Presence Beyond” :

Ethos Facebook Page:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dekapited "Sin Misericordia"

    Merciless is quite possibly the best way to describe the sound conjured up by Chilean thrashers, Dekapited. These musicians show no mercy with their latest release, “Sin Misericordia,” (Without Mercy). The EP is a joyride through hellish sounding landscapes of pure thrash brutality.

    I think what stands out the most on this new EP is the aggressiveness and the unforgiving attitude that the band conveys with each track. Their style of thrash metal definitely has been done before, however, the band focuses on delivering their music with a tight and intense sound to vividly capture the listener’s attention. The EP opens with some suspenseful film score music, so right away the band attempts to get people anticipating what is to come next.

    After the intro fades out the song “Aniquilacion Total,” feverishly explodes into full force with a wicked main riff. I hear elements of not just thrash at times which I think gives the music a dynamic unholy sounding twist. The drum parts are well recorded and inject a raw sound to compliment the savage guitar riffs. The third song of the album, “Mundo Decadente,” unleashes more intense rhythms of thrashing hell to where you know mosh pits would be forming and people would be banging their heads ferociously in front of the stage. I also think the vocal style used by the band’s singer is very solid and matches the music’s overall tone.

    Track number four, “Sin Misericordia,” contains more strong palm muted riffs of apocalyptic fury. Once again, I really like the drum sound, especially the way that the toms and cymbals were recorded. The overall composition is haunting and each musician provides a noticeable contribution which goes to show that everyone in the band is pulling their weight. Track number five, “Condenado a Morir,” offers more furious compositions along with some frantic lead guitar playing that slightly reminds me of classic Slayer solos and Morbid Angel solos. Until the very end, Dekapited does not slow down and keeps hammering out sheer musical brutally without hesitation.

    I must say that Dekapited did a solid job with this new EP from start to finish. I think going forward I would like the band to continue to push themselves as songwriters, but always maintain that unforgiving and merciless approach. Too many thrash bands either recycle the same riffs, or get lost in trying to become too progressive. If Dekapited could find a balance between brutality and high caliber musicianship, I bet these guys will have some killer releases in the future. Definitely check this EP out as I do believe you can’t beat the impressive quality of unholy sounding thrash that would most likely scare the pants off your local priest.

Check out the full EP below! And if you like it buy a copy to support the artist:

Dekapited Facebook Page: