Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Ten Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album’s of 2015

    Another year has come and gone with plenty of great releases to pick from, but only ten shall make this list. Alright, here are my picks:

10. Trials “This Ruined World” 

    Really enjoyed this Chicago based band’s diverse sound. You get a blend of thrash and progressive hard rock that molds one head crushing release. The music expresses such raw emotion and the lyrics are just as heavy as the riffs. I would even call this a guitar players album, because the riffs never cease to lose their strength and the sound is well captured by the album’s recording quality. Although the Cubs did not win the World Series this year(And most likely not this coming year), I think the people of Chicago can be proud of Trial’s new album. 

9. Vastum “Hole Below”

    Bay Area old school style death metal to grip your soul with unbelievable terror and brutality. Really impressed by their extreme songwriting skills. Also, the recording for this album is truly evil sounding as if it were recorded in the stinky smelly gutters of hell...a smell similar to that of the Oakland Harbor. All fans of the underground will rejoice when hearing this release. If you want a more in depth review of the album, you can find one on this blog in a previous post. 

8. Rivers of Nihil “Monarchy”

    Sometimes when I see a band live before listening to an album, I find that I have a better appreciation for the songs. I had only listened to the single from this album, but once I saw Rivers of Nihil perform live, I immediately started listening to the entire album. If you want a full guitar sound that hits hard and does not become boring after the first five riffs, this is the album to check out. Also, I found the instrumentals on the album to be well arranged and compliment the release’s overall atmosphere. Lastly, Dan Seagrave’s album art is out of this world!

7.  Abstracter "Wound Empire"

    A Bay Area sludge outfit that creates massive sounding musical worlds of unforgiving doom. Their sound could be used in a film where someone is walking amongst the ruins of a post-apocalyptic society. Also, the band skillfully constructs these dynamic atmospheres to achieve one of the most behemoth sounding releases to come out this year. Most people would not expect sludge metal to offer up such a dynamic sound, but that is what I think makes Abstracter such a solid band. I hope there will be more top quality releases from these guys in the future. 

6. Tempel “The Moon Lit Our Path” 

    A two piece from Arizona that knows how to create epic sounding instrumental metal music. There are some black metal style compositions, then there are some death metal style compositions, and then they add in some acoustic music to give the album a cinematic effect. Just really good instrumental metal music which creates an impressive sounding world that does not need any lyrics to get the imaginations of listeners to start working. Hollywood should get these guys to score a movie, because most of your movies coming out need something extra to justify an increase in prices! 

5. Royal Thunder “Crooked Doors”

    For their sophomore album Royal Thunder did not disappoint and created some powerful songs. Probably one of the best hard rock albums to come out this year. Also, singer and bassist Miny Parsonz sounded phenomenal on the album. The song “Time Machine,” sends chills up my spine and is a track that features deep raw musical expression that you will not hear from any crap pop or rap artist. Royal Thunder is another example of why rock is still alive...Gene Simmons you better hold off on your rock is dead comment.  

4. Helloween “My God Given Right”

    The German power metal icons do not fail to keep the music alive and kicking. When first putting the CD into my car I was hoping to hear them continue the solid sound that they had established with their last release, “Straight Out of Hell.” To be honest, I think this new album is even better than “Straight Out of Hell.” The band’s two guitar attack is elevated to an even greater level with more triumphant melodic leads and bombastic riffs. The songwriting is very solid and the band knows how to write catchy lyrics. They may be getting older, but they sure don’t sound like it! 

3. Egypt “Endless Flight” 

    Better late than never! This album came out in December of this year, so I almost did not add it to this list. Well, after a few days of listening to the album over and over again, I decided to throw it in the mix. This band is easily one of my favorite doom bands around and their sound is extremely solid. Egypt’s debut release, “Become the Sun,” was actually my number one album of 2013. This new offering continues their heavy grooving doom rock sound while adding some really catchy bluesy style riffs. The album’s recording quality is another high point and sounds as if it was recorded back in the seventies with vintage gear. Since the album came out so late, I think I will be still listening to it by the end of 2016! 

2. Scale the Summit “V” 

    These guys right here are probably one of the best modern progressive rock bands around. I thought the band’s last album was a brilliant mind bending release, but “V” is musically unbelievable. The production is top notch, the compositions are extremely well written and the band takes progressive rock into a new realm of instrumental imagination. Scale the Summit hits a progressive instrumental rock home run. I understand some people may not be fans of a strictly instrumental album, but for those of you who are looking for a great instrumental rock/metal album, this is one I would not hesitate to recommend. 

1. Night Demon “Curse of the Damned” 

    So here it #1 album of the year. Looks like Rush did not release a new studio album, so they will not be appearing in the number one spot. Instead Night Demon’s debut release, “Curse of the Damned,” is the album that I think kicked total metal ass the entire year. Since releasing the album back in January, the Ventura, CA based trio has been touring relentlessly. These guys are passionate about heavy metal and their drive to create exciting old school NWOBHM type music is what makes “Curse of the Damned” stand out from the rest. Also, the songwriting is flawless and consistently enjoyable. Each song on the album is important and worth noting, so to pick one favorite track can be a difficult task. I do believe fans of traditional heavy metal will come to recognize Night Demon’s ambitious drive to inject some new life into an old style of metal that is still in high demand. As I have said numerous times since the band released their four song EP, they are going to really make an impact in the metal world. Be on the look out for more great material from Night Demon in the future! 

    There you have it folks! Those are my top ten albums of 2015. If you want to maybe throw out some albums that you felt should have been added, please feel free to comment below. Can’t wait for what 2016 has to offer!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Abstracter "Wound Empire"

    Using their instruments to paint a picture in the mind of post-apocalyptic doom and infinite darkness, the Bay Area’s sludge architects craft a powerful and unforgiving release. Abstracter’s, “Wound Empire,” takes doom and sludge to new atmospheric proportions to where the light is blocked out by endless clouds of dark distorted aggression. 

    I reviewed their previous release, “Tomb of Feathers,” and remember hearing the band’s desire to create these massive sounding sludgy and haunting musical worlds. Although I have taken my time to finally review this new release, I think after carefully listening to, “Wound Empire,” I have been able to recognize what this band has accomplished and improved upon since their last release. Abstractor’s presentation through their lyrical themes and instrumental compositions is in perfect synchronicity. All the songs interconnect to maintain a solid four track tale of doom. Taking their music in very progressive directions at times, the average song lengths tend to be around ten minutes. Four songs might not seem like enough for an album, but the overall length is equal to that of a punk or thrash album with ten or more tracks. 

    The album begins with the ominous sun swallowing piece, “Lightless.” Feedback comes pouring out of the speakers followed by a bone chilling build up of guitar, bass and drums. The riffs are sinister yet hypnotic while the harsh vocals narrate over the abysmal instrumental structures. Abstracter consumes all emotion with this song and channels their inner sludge talents. Track two, “Open Veins,” picks up the same raw gloomy vibe as the opening track. I am drawn to the bold sounding chords the band uses and I like how they let certain notes ring to achieve a full guitar sound. The music is of course dark in sound, but there is a harmonious feel that is expressed throughout the piece. At times the haunting atmosphere is almost comforting and welcoming to those who want to travel into a landscape of massive distortion. 

    Probably one of my favorite songs, “Cruciform,” taps deep into the enormous sludge sounding atmospheric realm of extreme music. The drum parts and guitar riffs inject monumental amounts of energy into the song and shatter these moments of solemn sounding compositions. As the song ends the band unleashes a flurry of musical aggression that slowly fades to set up the following and final track, “Glowing Wounds.” This song contains some more eerie atmospheric elements to add diversity to the band’s overall sound. The creative use of dynamics is what I think separates this album from Abstracter’s last album. “Glowing Wounds” is definitely the track that features some of those strong and noticeable diverse sounding arrangements. 

    Abstracter’s “Wound Empire” is a great example of how sludge metal can be taken into more than one direction. The music is skillfully arranged while always conveying that post-apocalyptic world covered in darkness sound. Quite possibly one of the best sludge and doom albums to come out in 2015. Definitely an album worth checking out if you are a fan of sludge metal and sounds that could inspire imagery of eternal world devastation. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Khazaddum "In Dwarven Halls"

    J.R.R. Tolkien inspired lyrics and technical death metal comes from the creative minds of Milwaukee’s Khazaddum. Their three song EP dives into the world of Middle Earth with a battle axe of technical death metal music in hand. 

    Tolkien’s works have been referenced by many metal bands, and Khazaddum is not the first band to name themselves after something from the Middle Earth stories. Although, I do not believe there are too many technical death metal bands who incorporate the works of Tolkien into their music, as certain black metal bands are notorious for the Lord of Rings type lyrical themes. Khazaddum’s style of technical death metal is similar to that of bands like Nile and Suffocation. Their compositions are intense, but the band does throw in some slow haunting moments during certain tracks. 

   The first song, “The Grey Thus Commands,” was where I really noticed Khazaddum’s fluid technical extreme sound. The band’s drummer holds down the fort by blasting behind his kit at those double bass drums with tremendous force. I would even compare the death growl vocals used during the song to that of an angry Orc. The guitar playing happened to be my favorite part of the song, because I really enjoyed the technical leads and thunderous palm muted galloping riffs. Also, there are some rather ominous sounding breaks that develop a certain atmosphere which reminded me of Nile. 

    “Durin’s Bane,” is the second song on the EP and features one of my favorite lyrical moments. If anyone has seen the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, then they will remember that part where Gandalf battles the Balrog and shouts, “You Shall Not Pass.” Well, Khazaddum takes that famous line and creates an epic death growl chorus towards the end of the song. With the double bass drum rhythm in full force and the guitarist riffing away, the vocalist makes the song very memorable as he growls out, “You Shall Not Pass.” The final song on the album, “Thorin Oakenshield,” starts with some bombastic war like drums and then morphs into a blast beast driven technical death metal attack. The music was fairly similar to that of the other two songs in sound, but the vocals at times seemed to change during the song which add a unique blend of death growls and goblin like shrieks. 

    Khazaddum’s musical journey through mines of technical death metal where fire demons dwell was one that fans of Tolkien and death metal shall find fascinating. Their musicianship was impressive and the songs were well written. Unfortunately, just writing Tolkien themed lyrics might not influence metal fans looking for more in depth and dynamic lyrics, but musically their creativity can appeal to fans of technical death metal. Still, these three songs demonstrate a band with talent and a band that enjoys their fantasy books. Either way I highly recommend this album! 

Band's Facebook Page:

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Egypt "Endless Flight"

    Do not make your top hard rock and metal albums list of 2015 just yet! I knew that if I were to make my list in the beginning of December and publish it, I might be regretting my choice. Sure enough I was right, because this new Egypt release is definitely an album one cannot simply ignore. 

    For their sophomore album titled, “Endless Flight,” Egypt channels their inner blues and doom talents to create a five song juggernaut. The trio continues the sound and efforts that could be heard on their debut release, “Become the Sun,” an album that I considered my top album to come out in 2013. The Fargo, ND based band slams through endless doom rock riffs that groove through cosmic vintage sounding musical landscapes on the new album. For a trio they have such a full sound that really crafts some of the best doom tracks around. 

    The album begins with the bluesy behemoth title track, “Endless Flight.” Lasting about nine and a half minutes in length, the song contains some clever guitar parts and straightforward earth shaking rhythms. Instantly guitarist Neil Stein make his presence aware by laying down a killer blues piece. The band then sets the song on cruise control and jams away on the reverb soaked main verse. Towards the middle of the song band slows down tempo for a haunting doom atmosphere where Neil once again rips away with a fantastic solo. 

    Track number two, “The Tomb,” begins with a catchy bass riff from bassist and singer Aaron Esterby. Soon after the bass riff is joined by the guitar and drums to construct a haunting highway of doom rock. Aaron’s raspy growl type vocals are the perfect match for the sinister groove sounding compositions. Chad Heille’s drumming serves as the main backbone during the song and creates these rhythms that sound so fluid. The music opens up this dark psychedelic door that never loses its edge. 

    Now, I remember hearing song number three, “Tres Madres,” when the band previewed it on SoundCloud. The music conveys this classic seventies sound and offers some crushing riffs. Neil’s solo utilizes one of the most vintage sounding tones to achieve a brilliant lead. Aaron and Chad’s playing during Neil’s solo was very powerful as well, and the two of them sounded locked into that main verse riff. Track four, “Black Words,” shrouds the musical land with distorted terror. Aaron’s shouts send chills down the spine as the guitar riff slowly thunders across the ground like a giant walking down a mountain. The band picks up the pace a few times during the song to offer up a killer old school doom vibe. 

    Finishing up the album, “Shaman’s March,” reminds me of the song “The Village is Silent,” which is from their last album. Both songs feature this massive doom atmosphere which draws me in right away. There is so much raw emotion put into the music that every time the band lays down a crushing riff, I feel the force of the riff hitting my bones. “Shaman’s March,” was quite possibly the best way to end this colossal sounding album. 

    As I said before, do not think to write up those top 2015 albums of the year lists just yet. Egypt’s “Endless Flight,” not only maintains that solid sound from their previous album, but finds more ways to accomplish an even greater bluesy doom offering. The ability to create consistent heavy grooving cuts of music, is just one reason why these guys are one of my favorite doom bands around. There is no dual moment on this endless doom odyssey, so you should all go and check out this album now! 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Concert Review: Soulfly, Thought Vomit, Trecelence, Trial by Combat and Vile Riot Villains


    One can almost not be able to describe in words how massive Friday night’s show at the Phoenix Theater was for the Sonoma County Metal community. Well, I shall try to fill you all in on the enormous metal party that took place at the historic venue in Petaluma, CA. 

    To begin, the promotion for this show was excellent, because there happened to be an outstanding turnout at the Phoenix. The place was unbelievably packed! Of course with a band like Soulfly playing, you were definitely going to draw a strong metal crowd. Also, one cannot ignore the four great local acts who played. Trecelence, Thought Vomit, Trial by Combat and Vile Riot Villains definitely kept the crowd energized and rocking out. 

    Kicking off the show at 7:30pm was Trecelence. Now, before I talk about the band’s set, I want to address the issue of the Phoenix’s house music. For a metal show they really put together a bizarre playlist. They played Bon Jovi and a few other bands who did not compliment the bands actually performing. This is a metal concert for crying out loud! Not an arena rock concert that features old dudes with plastic surgery who charge fans one hundred dollars per ticket! They played one Rush song though, so I am not completely disappointed.  

    Okay returning from my rant... Trecelence put on yet another behemoth headbanging performance of epic thrash. The songs all sound tight live and need to be recorded so people can hear this solid technical thrash band. Also, Bassist Zane Covington sounded in top form by unleashing some epic screams to go along with the thunderous guitar riffs. Donnie Small and Chris Olney Burnett shredded away and let their guitar work twist the minds of metalheads in the front row. Drummer Ilan Cabrera was working pretty damn hard behind the kit by maintaining a strong musical backbone. Overall, these guys just keep demonstrating how passionate they are about the music. The songs are really starting to take form to where metal fans who enjoy old school technical thrash will instantly be slapping Trecelence patches on their vests. 


    After Trecelence finished Trial by Combat began setting up. The last time I saw Trial by Combat back in July they unleashed a killer set of brutality. Continuing to fuel metal fans with loud aggressive metal music, they brought that same level of energy to the Phoenix. Singer Dashiel McKenzie is a brutal sounding frontman who has a solid extreme sounding vocal style. The band’s riff assault was in full operation while the drumming inflicted serious devastation. The song, “Theater of War,” was definitely a crowd favorite and happened to be the perfect song to play given the world’s chaotic state. 

    Third up was Vile Riot Villains who were playing their last show as a band. One could tell they were trying to go out with a major ass kicking set and I am sure the band was glad to be finishing their time together on one epic bill. They brought a more straightforward heavy metal/hard rock sound to the show. I really enjoyed their cover of Kiss’ “War Machine,” however, if Gene finds out don’t be surprised if he wants to collect a fee for playing the song. Once the band ended their set they thanked the audience for the support and received a loud farewell applause. 

    Now the fourth band of the night was definitely a band I knew had plans to turn the venue upside down and inspire massive mosh pits. Thought Vomit being the areas most electrifying and adrenaline pumping band was the most suitable choice to have on right before Soulfly. One could tell how thrilled Thought Vomit was to open up for Soulfly. I think the band put on one of their best sets yet and sounded good all around. Singer Spencer Clark was of course in the pit most of the time getting fans hyped up. Chris Meyer enthusiastically tore away on his guitar as Jordie Hilley and Clay Prieto held down the rhythm section. Towards the end of their set the band was joined on stage by former guitarist Tyler Cole who played some of the band’s old songs. No matter what song they played new or old, the crowd kept running around and shouting their heads off. 

    Once Thought Vomit ended their set in brutal fashion with Spencer actually singing in the crowd, everyone took a short breather to prepare for Soulfly. Then as the lights dimmed the crowd roared with tremendous force. Max Cavalera walked out on stage with his guitar in hand and instantly got the crowd shouting for metal madness. The venue was shaking at times from the crowd jumping up and down along with the titanic sized mosh pit. When they played certain songs like, “Prophecy,” or any of the Sepultura material such “Roots Bloody Roots” and “Refuse/Resist,” the people two streets over from the Phoenix could probably hear the noise. Another cool part of the set was when Max used a shaman stick to create some tribal rhythms that the crowd responded too quite positively. Also, I want to mention the other great musicians Max has in the band who really stood out. His son Zyon Cavalera who plays drums sounded like a juggernaut behind the kit and smashed his cymbals with authority. Lead guitarist Mark Rizzo melted peoples faces with wicked solos and hard hitting riffs. The band’s bassist Mike Leon is an extremely talented player and I remember seeing him when he was with Havok. The dude can play some brilliant bass lines and has great stage presence. Throughout the entire set Max and company never slowed down and gave people their heavy metal fix. 

    When Soulfly walked off the stage and the house music began playing Toto’s, “Africa,” I needed some time to reflect on how awesome this show had been. Some people looked as though they had run two miles because of all the moshing and headbanging. Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore did yet another great job setting up a colossal metal show at the Phoenix Theater. Judging from the turnout, I would hope more metal events like this keep coming around...Lastly, I hope the Phoenix plays more suitable house music...

Thought Vomit

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Album Review: Flight "Self-Titled"

    Turn on that warm vintage amp and start cranking out the riffs of epic metal triumph. Once you here the first song on Flight’s self-titled debut release, you feel as though you are stepping back in time to the seventies metal years where bands like Black Sabbath, early Judas Priest, Pentagram, Captain Beyond and a whole bunch of other groups were making some killer recordings.

    Based out of Norway, these musicians really know how to simply rock. They have a sweet twin guitar attack that is very noticeable on each track. I mean, the guitar parts are thoughtfully incorporated for maximum epic musical landscapes. The bass player and drummer create these jamming rhythms that make the listener feel as though they are soaring over a sea of harmonious ripping classic metal. Also, the singer’s voice really fits in well with the instrumental compositions. The bands lyrics are another area where listeners will be impressed by how the band is able to create this spiritual classic hard rocking world that deviates from the usual themes of which the metal world has become accustomed to these days.

    The opening track, “Flight,” is a splendid introduction to the band and takes listeners away with its hard hitting guitar chords and melodic vocals. Flight's balance of heavy riffs and fluid rhythms creates this portal that opens the mind and allows listeners to fall into this world of rocking wonder. “Lion’s Den,” was another track from the album that I enjoyed. The piece begins with a soft acoustic chord strumming progression and then develops into a catchy distorted riff presentation. As I said before, the bass player and drummer work great together and their tight sound definitely caught my ear during this song.

    Track number four, “Don’t Lose It,” throws listeners back in time to the late seventies and early eighties by incorporating some smashing harmonic lead guitar licks. The overall sound is similar to that of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal period, so fans of early Iron Maiden and Saxon will be in for a treat. “Nightrider,” an instrumental piece was by far my favorite track on the album. Galloping riffs and rapid drum parts construct this fantastic instrumental tale. I have not heard too many solid classic sounding metal instrumentals in the last couple years from new bands, so hearing Flight’s ability to create wonder without words was in my opinion the album’s highest selling point. “Memories Sharp,” “Escape” and “Devil Woman” were the final three tracks on the album and all sound strong until the last note.

    I think Flight put together a great debut release worth checking out if you want to hear a young band transporting the classic metal sound to the modern day. Why not revisit the past by trying to achieve a killer classic sound? If people are still fans of all those classic metal and hard rock bands, then they might be able to recognize the potential of a young band following in the footsteps of the old guard by creating their original pieces to turn up on the vinyl turn table. It shall be interesting and exciting to see how Flight continues to develop their sound in the future, but for now just enjoy this album's cruise control set classic metal vibe.

Flight Facebook Page:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Album Review: 4 Doors to Death

    No matter which door you open on this four way split, you shall be unlocking some brutal sounding death metal. “4 Doors to Death,” features four great up and coming acts from the death metal community. With songs by Cemetery Filth, Ectovoid, Sabbatory and Trench Rot, there is reason to believe that this extreme sounding split can open up portals to realms of unholy ancient terror.

    To begin, one must give credit to Unspeakable Axe Records for bringing these four bands together. The amount of extreme music making talent that can be heard throughout the album is highly impressive. All the bands compliment each other by having a very similar old school death metal worshipping sound, but one can tell where each band tries to carve their own brutal cyclopean legacy of unforgiving brutality.

    The first band on the split, Cemetery Filth, brings forth a crushing style of death metal. Their three songs dig deep into the old school death metal roots and unearths some sinister cuts of extreme music. The Tennessee based band’s first song, “Consumption of Volition,” conveys a very raw sound that reminds me of early Morbid Angel and Pestilence. I especially liked how the drums were recorded which gives the track a solid bone breaking rhythm. Song number two, “Dagonian Dialect... The Obelisk,” is the one piece of music on this album that really shines through the dark musical abysses. With its Lovecraft themed lyrics and its bombastic sounding riffs, the track is pure death metal genius. The vocalist during the song really stands out and his haunting death growl delivery throughout the track has me hooked. For their last song on the split, “Cosmic Wraiths,” the group pounds out more heavy instrumental structures of morbid expression and lyrical tales of unspeakable evil.

    Next up on the split is, Ectovoid, who are from Birmingham, Alabama. These southern death metal dudes explore a whole range of diverse extreme musical compositions while still maintaining a straight forward no nonsense approach. Their first song “Ash Primordial,” begins with a burst of blast beat rhythms and corpse cutting riffs. There is no telling where the band will go musically and they change tempo at times to achieve this slow death doom sound that is massively loud. The next song from them, “Possessed by Ancient Dread,” reeks of gruesome old school death metal remains. I am really impressed by the vocal delivery and the sheer power of their overall riffs.

    Third up on the split is, Sabbatory, who come from Winnipeg, Canada. Now this is a band who knows how to deliver exceptional death metal music. Hell, you play me a Sabbatory song and I might think it was recorded back in the late eighties or early nineties. The band’s extreme music making passion and drive to create vicious pieces of music can easily be heard on their two tracks, “Ascension to My Holy Tomb” and “Primordial.” That guitar sound during “Ascension to My Holy Tomb” is aggressive and unforgiving just like the singer’s vocals. “Primordial” is another exceptionally brutal track and features a brilliant guitar solo of note shredding madness. 

    The final band on the split, Trench Rot, is a sinister sounding necronomicon worshipping legion of musicians from Philadelphia, PA. After reviewing their debut release, “Necronomic Warfare,” I have been a fan of these guys and their Evil Dead and battle themed death metal music. The three tracks they summon forth on this split are nothing short of skull crushing malevolence. “Hell Pilot’s Call,” is a hellish musical bombardment with a crushing riff section that is accompanied by the sounds of air raid sirens. Track number two, “Powerful Kandarian Steel,” contains some awesome lyrics that can be used to summon evil forces from the book bound in flesh. Finishing up the split the band does an impressive cover of Death’s, "Evil Dead.” To sum up Trench Rot’s three songs as Ash from Army of Darkness would say, “Hail to the king, baby!”

    “4 Doors to Death,” might very well be called, “4 Doors to High Quality Death Metal.” Getting these acts together for this spilt is an extreme alliance that needs to be heard if you are wanting to hear what newer bands are doing with the old school death metal formula. Make sure to get a copy when it is released January 22, 2016...or be haunted by the spirits of the Evil Dead for all eternity!

Cemetery Filth Facebook Page:
Ectovoid Facebook Page:
Sabbatory Facebook Page:
Trench Rot Facebook Page:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Concert Review: Infernus Tour 2015 with Hate Eternal and Others at the Phoenix Theater

Hate Eternal

    Friday November 13 at the Phoenix Theater happened to be the perfect day for an all around behemoth of a metal show. Arriving early to the Phoenix Theater, there were already plenty of people lining up for the show and looking eager to get inside. This was a truly solid line-up featuring Hate Eternal as the headliner along with supporting acts Misery Index, Beyond Creation, Rivers of Nihil, Aenimus and Aberration. Anyone who went literally received their money’s worth in brutality and ear bursting riffs. Hell, my ears are still ringing...

    Beginning the show on the side stage of the Phoenix was Sonoma County’s own, Aberration. One could tell the members in the band looked thrilled to be opening this awesome show. Once on stage, they pounded away at some wicked tracks and maintained a fierce edge the entire set. However, the other members could not compete with singer James Owen, who poured out almost every ounce of energy he had during the set. He was running around trying to the get the crowd moving while maintaining a strong vocal delivery. Although their set was not exactly long, I think the band was able to start the night off right and feed the early concert attendees’ a good old helping of melodic death metal.

    After the Aberration’s set I decided to quickly go and get something to eat since I was extremely hungry. Luckily their was a Chinese restaurant a street over and I was able to order my food to go, so I would not miss the next band’s set. Upon returning to the Phoenix I came just in time for Rivers of Nihil’s first song. Finding a suitable place to eat, the top of a skateboard ramp on the side of the venue with a perfect view of the main stage, I was able to enjoy my food while Rivers of Nihil offered sounds of technical death metal brilliance. The band’s musicianship was extremely impressive and the compositions were crushing. The double riff assault from Brody Uttley and Jon Topore was in full effect the entire set. Bassist Adam Biggs was head banging constantly and drummer Alan Balamut was locked in behind the kit. Singer Jake Dieffenbach sounded great too as he growled his way through songs from the new album, “Monarchy,” which I made sure to buy before the night was over.

    Rivers of Nihil finished their set to a thunderous applause from the audience and then concert goers huddled around the side stage for the third act, Aenimus. Another Sonoma County act, Aenimus tore through a set of technical slamming pieces. The band had a very modern metal/deathcore sound that is very popular I have noticed these days. Although I am not a particular fan of this style of metal, I will say that I respected the musicianship and passion the guys showed up on stage. Just like their fellow local act Aberration, Aenimus did a great job representing the Sonoma County Metal community.

    When talking to a few people at the show about who they were interested in seeing, it seemed that the night’s fourth act, Beyond Creation, was a reoccurring answer. The technical progressive death metal musicians from Québec, Canada have been making a name for themselves as a band with unbelievable talent. Sure enough I witnessed that first hand when they began tearing away at their first song. The entire group played with amazing precision and sounded as though they were playing thousands of notes per second. I mean, the guitar tapping dual parts to the complex scale runs were out of this world. Lock me in a room for one-hundred years I do not think I would even come close to the skill level of Beyond the Creation’s two guitar players. Arguably one the most impressive technical live sets I have seen. The crowd was seriously losing their shit after each song!

Beyond Creation

    While still trying to figure out how Beyond the Creation could be so damn musically insane, the fifth act Misery Index began setting up. The death metal dudes from Baltimore have been around since the early 2000s and continue to put out releases that receive fair praise. I thought they played a decent set and their drummer sounded really good behind his kit of double bass drum destruction. Also, the pit was getting more intense and that seemed to be accomplished by the band’s very straightforward hard hitting style of riffs. My only critique would be that the singer kept referring to the crowd as, “San Francisco.” Now, this can be an honest mistake since San Francisco is not too far from Petaluma, but I still felt like he should have known exactly where he was playing. Bit of a Spinal Tap moment one could say. 

    The final act of the night was Hate Eternal who were definitely an act I was anticipating on seeing along with a decent amount of other people at the Phoenix. Erik Rutan after leaving Morbid Angel formed Hate Eternal, and in my opinion is keeping the old school technical extreme metal formula going strong with each new release. Also, Erik’s other two band members are also very accomplished musicians with Hannes Grossmann on drums and J.J Hrubovcak on bass. Once they tore into the opening song, all hell broke loose on the venue floor. People were head banging furiously at the front of the stage and the mosh pit was an all out metal maniac zone. Hate Eternal did an awesome job balancing old songs with new songs in their set list to which fans seemed pleased no matter what. During the set Erik even dedicated a song to those who had lost their lives in the Paris, France terrorist attacks which happened the day of the concert. Overall, Hate Eternal was one of the most solid sounding live acts I have seen. The way that they conducted themselves on stage as players is something young metal bands should take note of if they want achieve a truly brutal and accomplished sound.

    What more can I say about this concert? ...If you were in the Sonoma County and did not show up you really dropped the ball. Each of the six bands did not disappoint and the crowd was always demonstrating why metal fans are the most passionate music fans. From the young fans, to the old fans, and to the fans who walked around eating Chinese food, the metal community came out in full support at the Phoenix Theater. Hopefully there will continue to be more concerts like this one to come!

Rivers of Nihil

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Terror Shark "Last Men Standing"

    Taking a bite out of society with their aggressive brand of crossover thrash, Terror Shark is ready to bring the extreme party to a bloody beach near you. Coming from Montpellier, France, the band cranks up the volume and throws down those intense circle pit forming pieces of music on their first full-length album, “Last Men Standing.”

    Each of the eight songs on this album maintains a consistent crossover sound. Kicking the album off with a mean sounding intro is “Jump For Me.” The band does not hesitate to jump right into a quick verse section that one would expect people to be moshing around to on the venue floor. Track number two, “There Will be Blood,” features some passionate musical expression and makes an impact by containing bold unapologetic lyrical statements. The third track, “Idiot,” has your usual gang vocals while keeping down a fast driving main rhythm. Midway through the song the band slows down the tempo and creates this dark crushing riff and drum section. “Empty,” perfectly continues the vulgar punk thrash assault by adding more high energy instrumental compositions.

    The songs on this album are rather short, so if you do not pay might not realize that the album is almost halfway over! “Never Trust!,” and “Die Fucker Die!!!,” seemed to blend since both were full of lyrical rage and wicked riffs. “Anything at All,” was one of the most explosive songs on the album and reminded me of classic D.R.I. or Final Conflict. The final track, “SSS then FFF,” offers up some of my favorite riffs on the album, but lyrically I felt like the only words I could make out were the curse words. Would have preferred some more lyrical variety there. Now, I am not expecting Rush type lyrics, however, at least above The Mentors level.

    Overall, Terror Shark plays a style of crossover that I extremely enjoy and think plenty of metal fans across the world do too. The band sounds solid the whole way through on this album. Also, really impressed by the recording quality, which I don’t hear too often from young crossover bands. Having a decent recording sound helped me forget that there are about a million other groups who also play this style of music. So, next time you are on the beaches of out for Terror Shark! A punk thrash great white attack of music that can take off half your body...or consume you whole!

Terror Shark Facebook Page:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Concert Review: Vital Remains at the Phoenix Theater

Photo of Sepulchre

    Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore really brought something satanically special to the Phoenix Theater last night. Six bands who all offered some extreme headbanging and mosh pit forming music took to the stage for one epic show. Ever since the show was announced, I had been anticipating the chance to see and hear these six bands decimate the Phoenix Theater with their sheer brutal force. Sure enough, they did just that last night and really gave the crowd a show to remember.

    When arriving at the venue I could tell everyone was in good metal spirits. I was glad to see a decently sized turnout that seemed to grow as the night progressed. The six bands billed were Sepulchre, Barren Altar, Embryonic Devourment, The Kennedy Veil, Necronomicon and the headliner...Vital Remains. Being an old school death metal band that has released a fair amount of albums, one would expect Vital Remains to attract more older metal fans. However, there was a mix of old and new fans with one fan being twelve years old. Another example of parenting done right by having your kid listen to awesome extreme music like Vital Remains.

    Kicking off the show on the side stage of the concert venue was Sonoma County’s young ambitious progressive death metal trio, Sepulchre. Having seen them three times before, I was thrilled to see them open this show. There was a decent amount of people who came early, so Sepulchre was greeted with a loud response once they tore into their first song. Playing in a lower tuning to add an even heavier tone to their songs, the band threw down some thunderous jams. Introducing two new songs, “Iniquitous Indiscipline” and “Immolated Conscience,” the guys seemed to be having a grand old time on stage and the music flowed naturally. I really want them to keep exploring their musical creativity, because the new material sounds great. Of course, “Destiny Destroyer,” is a song they should always keep around since the riffs in that song, especially the guitar solo, literally annihilate my mind every time.

    Second up and switching over to the main stage was Embryonic Devourment from Willits, CA. This technical death metal group really put on a blazing set. Their drummer seemed as if his mind was specifically programmed to perform technical blasts on his kit. The guy was sweating profusely by the end of the set! Overall though they delivered an extremely tight sounding performance. The bass player/vocalist was running around the stage banging his head, while the guitarist shredded his way on an amazing looking white guitar. The crowd was definitely beginning to come alive and the front of the stage maintained a passionate amount of energy during the band’s set.

    Once Embryonic Devourment finished their last song, everyone’s attention went back to the side stage where the third band had already set up and was ready to go. Taking the third slot was, Barren Altar, a blackened death doom band who puts on one haunting ritualistic display of soul crushing music. I could already smell the incense burning towards the end of Embryonic Devourment’s set, and by now Barren Altar had the candles out and were ready to destroy. Once that first riff hit with a force like two planets colliding, I felt instantly drawn to the heavy doom atmosphere. The band’s singer would hit himself with the mic before unleashing a brutal growl to cover the sinister slow compositions. Their final song, which was well over ten minutes, featured some brilliant dynamic parts. I saw the band put on a great set about a month ago, and somehow they were able to execute an even better one last night!

    After Barren Altar finished, the final three bands all performed on the main stage. Fourth up on the night was, The Kennedy Veil, who are one of two bands on tour right now with Vital Remains. The Sacramento, CA based band received plenty of roars from the crowd when they started their first song. They played some technical slamming death metal riffs and sounded pretty solid. Also, the singer maintained great stage presence by constantly interacting with the crowd. He had a strong death growl too, so the brutality from their songs never ended. I think the band has a good formula going, but I would like to hear maybe a little more variation in their songs.

    Once the Kennedy Veil walked off stage, the Phoenix staff and next band were ready to set up. Necronomicon, from Eastern Canada, was a black metal trio who at times conveyed some death metal elements. Dressed as traditional black metal warriors with corpse paint similar to that of Immortal, the band delivered a true frost bitten brutal sounding live show. I especially liked when the guitarist and bassist would headbang in unison. The drummer was wearing chainmail and perfectly playing intense blast beat rhythms. During the band's entire set the audience was going crazy and throwing the horns up. I think the crowd appreciated how far this band had come to play and the black metal style that they have made for an epic live set.

    Finally, the blasphemous death metal lords in Vital Remains were ready to give the concert attendees at the Phoenix Theater a lesson in satanic death metal. I swear, once the band hit the stage and began their first song, the energy in the place was massive. The band’s singer kept trying to get the crowd more ravenous and by the end of the night people were dog tired from all the headbanging and moshing. Vital Remains band simply sound great the whole time on stage. Their lead guitarist was shredding through quick scales and played with tremendous fluidity. To cap off the night, the band was able to create a wall of death and towards the end of their set the crowd began ripping apart a bible that some fan had brought.

    Truly an extreme Thursday night of heavy metal music at the Phoenix Theater. All six bands deserve tremendous respect for their hard work on stage. Of course, the fans deserve credit for coming out and giving their full support. I really hope we see more shows in the same vein as this one. Also, I hope more Sonoma County metal fans continue to find their way out to these awesome shows. More metal maniacs equals larger pits of moshing chaos... Hey, beats going to church! \m/

Photo of Necronomicon

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vastum "Hole Below"

    Creeping across the Bay Area like the shrouded fog of impending doom, Vastum purges the land with a behemoth death metal sound. Their new full-length offering, “Hole Below,” takes listeners on an old school death metal trip through brutal riff battle fields and skull crushing sinister ritualistic rhythms.

    Being from the Bay Area, I am proud to hear a band crafting such an extreme old school sound. I hear influences ranging from such greats as Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Entombed and Master. When first listening to Vastum one can hear a very straightforward death metal sound, yet even pick up on elements of black metal and sludge. Overall, this album’s sound is captured in a brilliant manner which gives the band a vicious edge. Each of the six songs on this release conjures up some massive amounts of raw musical expression.

    Starting off the album is the track, “Sodomitic Malevolence. How can one go wrong with a song called, “Sodomitic Malevolence?!” Distorted noises slowly come screaming in and eventually explode into a forceful riff. The drums feverishly pound away to the main rhythm. Vastum’s overall sound is extremely dark and bombastic on this release. Songs like “Amniosis” instantly lay down aggressive verse riffs with vocals of tortured death growls. The artistic expression is down right unforgiving and undeniably heavy. I especially enjoy the mammoth sounding distorted guitar riffs that can lead to some wicked solos.

    Track number three, “In Sickness and in Death,” screams old school death metal, but also offers that bone chilling death doom vibe. The following track, “Intrusions,” starts out with a slow sinister pounding guitar riff. The guitar sounds like the footsteps of a giant coming out of his cave ready to unleash vengeance upon a village of fear stricken villagers. “Hole Below,” continues to show the band holding true to that raw death metal sound and keeping the brutality going strong. The album’s final track, “Empty Breast,” was one of my favorites. Vastum really put thought into the song and deliverers a creative morbid musical creation. The song’s tone and presentation is relentless to the bitter end.

    What more is there to say about Vastum’s new release, “Hole Below?” ...How can I keep you people from listening to such a solid extreme music?! Literally, stop reading this review and check out Vastum! Bay Area old school style death metal keeping the raw aggression alive with no remorse and plenty of heavy riffs to scare the neighbors.

Vastum Facebook Page:

"Impious Noise Massacre" Featuring: Grave Desecration, Putrid, Diabolous666, Vlad

    From the dark depths of the Peruvian underground comes four bands who all worship extreme music and shall scare away any priest who listens to their blasphemous brand of metal. This four way split is a great representation of what Peru has to offer right now in the extreme music department.

    The bands featured on this split are Grave Desecration, Putrid, Diabolous666 and Vlad. Pentagram Records will be releasing the split and the label has been active in getting these extreme Peruvian acts out among the global metal community. After reviewing a few bands from the label before, I am thrilled to hear more brutal passionate black/death metal cuts of corpse grinding terror.

    Opening the split is Grave Desecration, a band with a name that leads you to believe their music will not be anything too cheery and upbeat. “Triumphant March of War,” begins with a sample of battle field noises and then transitions into a blast beat intense riff slaughter of noise. The band’s sound is explosive! As the singer is growling over the adrenaline pumping compositions the guitar rips through different chords with pure aggression. The next song, “Unholy War Tyrant,” is just as extreme as the first track and incorporates a morbid demonic sounding growl. Grave Desecration pours more energy into the track with a brief guitar lead that returns to a solid black metal style riff.

    The next band on the split is Putrid. I swear the way Putrid recorded their two songs is very similar to early Bathory and Hellhammer. They have this old school black metal sound that at times can take on old school death metal elements such as Deicide and Morbid Angel. For the song, “Necrovomitor,” the band simply hammers away at a vicious sounding riff. Personally I think Putrid’s second track, “Tearing Wings Apart,” is one of the most brutal sounding tracks on the split which is saying a lot, because all the songs on this split are pretty damn brutal. There are some haunting compositions featured in the track and the band conveys such a raw sound.

    Diabolous666 is third up on the split and continues the unholy brutal sounding theme. With the songs, “Funesta Anima Universal,” and “La Luz Carmesi del Fin,” the band crushes my speakers by turning the distortion up and pounding away feverishly at the drum kit. Vocally, the singer has a terrifying black metal style growl which sounds as if he recorded his vocals in a mortuary. When listening to them I felt as though my head was spinning, because Diabolous666 was playing so fast and taking their extreme sound into multiple directions.

    The final band, Vlad, presented a more grindcore fused black metal style. First, the singer’s voice is not human and had to be altered via some hellish vocal effect. “Cokaine Out of Control,” begins with the band slamming through wicked riffs of low tuned horror. Following it up is, “Lust and Death in Your Fucking Life,” which follows the same musical blue-print as the last song. Vlad turns up the heat with a crushing black/grind finale to close the coffin lid on a solid release.

    I am really impressed by the Peruvian extreme music scene and their dedication to creating such diabolic sounding music. “Impious Noise Massacre,” is recommended for any fan of black and death metal who wants to hear some underground extreme mayhem!

Putrid Facebook Page:

Diabolous666 Facebook Page:


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sonoma County Battle of the Bands Concert Review

Thought Vomit

    For the five bands playing last night’s Sonoma County Battle of the Bands, there was an opportunity to win some sweet prizes such as a demo recording from NB Recording, a video filmed by Red Fox Productions and have a show out of the area put on by Pinup Productions. Although this was called a, “battle of the bands,” the night seemed more like a celebration for all those who came out to support Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore community.

    The five groups who played and were hoping to take home the big score were: Thought Vomit, Trecelence, Predation, Gangrene and Abscission. Besides Predation I had seen the other four at least once with this Friday being the third Friday in a row seeing Trecelence. The show was booked at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, CA. This was my first time visiting the venue and I instantly noticed how intimate the room was where the bands would play. The stage was not very high at all, but brought the bands and fans very close together.

    Taking the stage first and right on time was Abscission. For an opening band they had a decent amount of people in the audience. I think that the scene came out for this event in full support. Unfortunately, Abscission was without a bass player so the guitarist and drummer were left to fill the void by providing some extra crushing parts. Compared to the last time I saw them, Abscission played with a little more aggression and that might have been due to the lack of a bass player which the singer pointed out a couple times. If you are a bass player in Sonoma County and want to join a death metal band...Abscission is looking for one.

    Second up was Gangrene, who have just really started and I remember seeing them play their first live show. Their unique death doom style is still taking form, but they always put on a solid set. I think they need to keep pushing themselves by adding some more dynamics to their music. The last song they played really interested me, because the guitar parts stood out from the band’s usual riffs.

    After two bands I was starting to feel the heat...of course I am pertaining to the venues warm stuffy setting and not the band’s attitudes towards each other. All the bands seemed to be enjoying themselves and were talking with each other. The third band of the night was Predation. Yet another group just starting out and I was wondering how they would make a first impression. I will say the band played with passion and the riffs had a powerful groove to them. However, the style was not exactly my cup of tea. I respect the singer for jumping into the pit on occasion and most of the crowd seemed to enjoy their set. 

    Setting up faster than the lightening from Thor’s hammer was the night’s fourth band, Trecelence. They have been playing for some time now and really have down a solid technical thrash sound. After playing two weeks in a row you think there is no way they can top the last two. Wrong! Trecelence took their twin guitar attack, speed demon technical drumming and epic metal screams to put on a wicked performance. There were times where bassist Zane Covington, guitarist Donnie Small and guitarist Chris Olney Burnett looked possessed by the metal gods as they banged their heads throughout the set. Even when Zane was having troubles with his amp during one of the songs, he was able to put the technical difficulties behind him and give all his energy for the next song. I think their relentless work ethic and passion for the music shows why they can put on impressive shows week after week.

    After Trecelence went off the stage the final band, Thought Vomit, began setting up. After seeing them twice already, I wondered if Thought Vomit would bring the same amount of intense energy? Sure enough Thought Vomit took the crowd at the Arlene Francis Center and turned them into wild animals. Singer Spencer Clark was in the pit running around screaming his head off. Guitarist Chris Meyer offered up some killer solos and riffs. Drummer Clay Prieto and bassist Jordie Hilley maintained a heavy rhythm section the whole night. I enjoyed the fact that Thought Vomit played some new material at the show and the new music was met with a very positive response. Also, to point out the local band camaraderie, one could see the Trecelence guys moshing during Thought Vomit’s set. Just another reason why this battle of the bands was less like a competition at times and more like a night full of people enjoying great local music.

    Once all the bands put away their gear, the winner was soon to be announced. Finally, after the judges had evaluated each band’s performance, Seth Stephens got on the mic to announce the winner...(drum role Neil Peart)...and the winner was Trecelence. I think all the bands put on a solid show and one could have made the case for some of the other band’s too. In the end, everyone who showed up last night was a winner because their support keeps the Sonoma County metal and hardcore scene going. Hope to see these bands put on more awesome shows and hope to keep seeing more people at the shows rocking out!


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Under the Church "Rabid Armageddon"

     Swedish death metal that comes from the depths under an abandoned church to where dark abysses lead to worlds of ultimate chaos and infinite destruction. Hell, if you told me that is where the band, Under the Church, recorded their debut full-length album, “Rabid Armageddon,” I might believe you! 

    Under the Church takes brutality and turns the volume up with this release. You hear that gritty corpse tearing death metal sound that captures the true essence of bands like Grave, Entombed and Dismember. Also, the band throws in some catchy hardcore punk style riffs to give the extreme death metal sound a vicious groove. I think listeners will be instantly drawn in by the high pumping blasphemous drive that this album has to offer.

    The recording for each track on this release solidifies the old school sound and allows Under the Church to put together some malevolent pieces. “Sodomy and Blasphemy,” the opening track on this release, is out of this world extreme. Picking away at sinister riffs, the guitar playing on the album rings out notes of terror. The following track, “Rabid Armageddon,” hammers out more grave yard inspiring sounds of brutal force. Tracks like “Triad Ov Inquisitors” and “Suspended in Gore,” begin with a darker and harsh doom like vibe. I personally enjoyed the vicious lyrics on “Suspended in Gore,” which compliment the haunting composition. Under the Church’s vocalist does a tremendous job narrating these vivid lyrics with such a bold death growl.

    Never losing their edge, Under the Church somehow finds a way to create an even stronger second half on this album. Songs like “Mangled to a Bloody Mess,” are gore filled cuts of extreme musical old school genius. “Penance” and “The Trail of Cthulu,” are two of my favorite tracks on this album. The recording of the drums and guitar create these thick thunderous walls of cyclopean power. If you want something heavy and loud to scare the it is!

    For their debut full-length, “Rabid Armageddon,” Under the Church demonstrated one wicked world of old school sounding Swedish death metal. I really enjoyed how Under the Church took from the past and created their own brand of hellish extreme music. This album is a must listen for fans of death metal that sounds as if the band recorded the album in the catacombs. I swear, Under the Church did something outlandish to record this album...maybe sold their souls to the Ancient Ones.

Under the Church Facebook Page:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Concert Review: Skitzo, Trecelence, The Leaders, Shadow of EVE, Scrape the Earth, Gangrene, Kaptowka

Trecelence Live

    After attending an exciting metal show last Friday at the Phoenix Theater, I found myself returning to the Petaluma based venue for another night of talented local metal acts. The night would feature seven local acts from the Northern California region. To put it simple, there was a substantial amount of metal inside the Phoenix Theater last night...enough to build another Bay Bridge...okay, that example is an extreme exaggeration.

    Still, the billing for this show was quite solid and the venues ability to handle seven bands with two stages worked out perfectly. The acts who performed last night were as follows: Kaptowka, Gangrene, Scrape the Earth, Shadow of EVE, The Leaders, Trecelence and Skitzo.

    Opening the show on the main stage right when I arrived to the Phoenix was Kaptowka. Interesting band name that I am still trying to figure out how they came up with. This four piece seemed to play a very basic form of heavy metal with plenty of modern metal influences. One could tell they were just starting out and still need to work on getting down their timing. They covered a Killswitch Engage song and some people in the crowd responded positively.

    Following Kaptowka was Gangrene who played on the stage set up at the side of the main floor area. I had the opportunity of seeing Gangrene before when they played in Sebastopol. I noticed the young death doom dudes were maintaining their slow casket crushing sound. The band’s singer has a powerful death growl which adds a heavy foundation to the music. Their set was short yet for the most part solid, and I think they are still working on crafting a unique extreme sound. Overall, they seemed to be in good spirits which carried over into the audience.

    The third act of the night was a band called Scrape the Earth. This Novato, CA trio played a mix of death and thrash while adding a variety of other metal elements. Their instrumental compositions were clever and fairly technical, but the lyrical delivery area needs some more attention. The band’s bass player had really good stage presence and I commend him for interacting with the crowd in a way that did not come across as too desperate. I honestly get tired of those bands who constantly tell people to form a pit or come close to the stage. Win them over with your music and then they will form pits and come close to the bloody stage!   

    Switching back over to the floor stage and taking the fourth slot was Shadow of EVE. These Sonoma County Metal newcomers were positively welcomed by the crowd. For their first show, I was impressed by how this young group of headbangers was able to conduct themselves on stage. One could tell they have been working on getting their songs down and each member played their instrument well. Also, the younger fans were starting to form a more energetic mosh pit, so Shadow of EVE looked to have won the crowd over which is great to see for their first show.

    Once Shadow of EVE finished their set the crowd began to focus their attention back to the main stage. The Leaders, were the fifth band to lay down some metal riffs of brutal destruction. Unfortunately, the Leaders seemed to have lost half the crowd as I noticed the floor was not as full during their set. The band’s music was slightly repetitive with a continuous style of composition. The Leaders finished in a quick fashion and came and went just like the 49ers chances of winning another Superbowl.

    After seeing Trecelence put on a smashing set last week, I was expecting to hear them offer up that same mind shredding technical thrash sound once again. Bassist Zane Covington worried me at first as he took his time setting up, but he eventually allowed me to put my worries aside by leading the other three members in a furious metal jam of battle like proportions. Some of these songs are full of technical genius and standout when listening to the different parts. I especially cannot stop focusing on how well Trecelence utilizes the two guitar attack approach. The riffs are amplified to another level while the bass and drums maintain a tight backbone. Trecelence you could tell has been working hard for a while now and the hard work is paying off through their strong heavy metal sound.

    The final act Skitzo, added a veteran presence to the night. These guys have been around for some time now and even though they may be older, they connected with the young fans who began moshing around right away. The band’s bass player wore a kilt, the singer/guitarist had on his shades and the music was thrash’n good. Throughout their set I was banging my head along withe the other enthusiastic concert goers. Then out of nowhere the band brought out a female with a shaved head and the singer/guitarist “spit up” on her chest. I have seen Gwar live and can say at least I knew what I expected to happen before hand. Skitzo literally threw a curve ball at me and I was still processing what I had just witnessed while the band closed their set with covers of Motörhead's “Iron Fist” and Kiss' “Love Gun.” They know how to add shock value to their set...that is for damn sure!

    Well, a night of young talent working to improve their musical chops, Trecelence continuing to strive for thrash excellence and Skitzo completely leaving me with a live set that I will never forget, it was a great night to be at the Phoenix Theater! Just another reason why you should go check out your local scenes. You never know what you might see?...Trust me.

Shadow of EVE Live

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Concert Review: Thought Vomit, X-Method, Trecelence, Hereticide, Vile Riot Villains, Channel the Suns

     October is just beginning and the Phoenix Theater started the month off with an explosion of local metal talent. Six bands took to the black stage to appease the passionate and ravenous concert attendees.

    I must say that this was one of the best turnouts at the Phoenix Theater that I have been present for. Also, the crowd’s energy throughout the whole night never faded, which fueled the six hardworking bands. Besides Thought Vomit who I saw back in July, this would be the first time for me seeing these other five bands. Now, I was especially excited to see Santa Rosa’s Trecelence who I interviewed for the radio show a few months back.  After a week of tests and being sick, I was ready for a metal show! 

    The opening band, Channel the Suns, started the show off with some unique prog metal jams. I was intrigued by the band’s dual vocal delivery where one singer used a death growl style while the other vocalist used a clean style. Their instrumental compositions where creative, but seemed to be all over the place. I think the talent was there and I applaud the desire to be dynamic. The bass player and singer who did the clean vocals was extremely energetic and would run around on stage with a superhero cape. For the most part Channel the Suns did a solid job kicking off the show.

    The second band Vile Riot Villains, whose members had painted markings on their faces as if they were part of the 1979 cult classic movie The Warriors, had a strong response even before they started their first song. I could definitely tell the band’s groove/thrash style clicked with most of the fans in attendance. People were banging their heads and starting to move around more. Vile Riot Villains really exerted plenty of energy during their set and did an efficient job building up the momentum.

    Taking the third slot was Hereticide from Los Angeles. This out of town bunch of brutal death thrashers brought the heavy metal thunder to the Phoenix. One of their guitar players looked like a Viking Warlord and played his guitar as if he was beating down upon an enemy. The band would shout, “Oh Yeah,” throughout their set to keep the crowd going crazy and alive. For the most part their sound was nothing new that I have not come across before, but the energy and passion elevated them to a level where they stood out. Also, any band who gives free CDs away after their set is cool in my book.

    Fourth up was the band who literally stole the show, Trecelence. This group of Santa Rosa, CA based musicians sounds solid on their demos, however, put them in a live setting and they will knock you over. I mean, the dual guitar attack was in high gear with plenty of wicked technical solos being traded by guitarists Donnie Small and Chris Olney Burnett. Bassist and singer Zane Covington was full of passion while he hammered away on his sunburst Rickenbacker bass. Zane’s vocals were very strong and conveyed the lyrics with such potency. Of course I cannot leave out drummer, lIan Cabrera, who was a technical beat master behind the kit. Overall, the crowd was worked up into a thrashing frenzy throughout the whole set.

    On stage next was, X-Method, a group of Bay Area thrashers who knew a thing or two about laying down some heavy riffs. Their singer had amazing stage presence and did a great job interacting with crowd. Also, one of the band’s guitar players successfully did that swing around guitar trick without it falling, so that added to their live show. The band even played a sick Sepultura cover which I can honestly say sounded not too far from the original. From the beginning of their set to the end, X-Method never let their foot off the gas pedal.

    The final act of the night was Sonoma County’s Thought Vomit. If any one is looking to see a furious mosh pit, just attend a Thought Vomit show. Even if the crowd at first is not moving around, Thought Vomit’s singer Spencer Clark will do something about it. The guy is in another world while up on stage...or in the middle of the crowd. The band’s songs are pure unapologetic expression which comes from each band member’s inner rebellious musical soul. Thought Vomit had the singers from X-Method and Vile Riot Villains come out and perform a cover of Black Sabbath’s, “Paranoid.” A perfect way to end a metal and punk filled evening of nonstop entertainment.

    Well, one show down and plenty more to come this month for the Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore community. Try to make your way out if you can and keep headbanging and supporting the local scene!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hypermass "Clouded Visions EP"

    With relentless fury and technicality, Norwegian melodic death metal madmen, Hypermass, unleash a brutal burst of mind crushing music. Their EP “Clouded Visions” is a feverish sounding extreme music attack that definitely explores the realm of technical and progressive boundaries.

    I have been noticing a strong surge of young bands keeping a diverse musical mentality and taking their music in a variety of directions. Melodic death metal seems to be pumping out these bands who know jazz and progressive rock structures which can be applied to a more brutal style of music. Honestly, Hypermass is a great example of technical music knowledge mixed with passionate extreme aggression.

    The band’s riff are slamming, yet can dive into these prog jazz parts that demonstrate excellent instrumental technique. Some of the guitar solos are unbelievable, especially during the final song where the music takes a break from the heavy death metal style and goes off into a mellow jazz world. Of course the band presents solid dynamics and definitely keeps the songs interesting. After hearing so many bands attempt to mold melodic death metal into something more unique, I notice certain moments where Hypermass tries to standout from the rest.

    Once the album’s introduction instrumental song begins the band belts out some ripping riffs. The drumming on this album is really impressive and the drummers technical ability can vividly be heard on the song, “Ionized.” Overall, the band offers up a no holds barred style of metal which the singer expresses in a simply unapologetic manner. “Embracing Erasion,” is another solid track and showcases the masterful dynamic guitar playing that Hypermass puts great emphasis on. In the end the final song, “Clouded Visions,” steals the show and is the most creative and progressive track Hypermass has to give listeners. If you want to hear Hypermass lay down all their extreme and diverse musical skills...this is the track that does it...enough said.

    Wrapping this review up, I think Hypermass really presented some skillful songs and musicianship with their EP, “Clouded Visions.” To hear where the band takes their music in the future is going to be something of interest for fans of progressive extreme music. I think any fan of creative melodic death metal should check out this release and understand there are still dedicated creative minds making extreme music.

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