Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #16

    Slash and Axl are friends once we have been told. I guess they need to make some extra money.

    Yeah, I have noticed more Guns N’ Roses related articles since the news about Slash and Axl Rose reconciling. Of course, you will notice a majority of the articles are speculating the return of the original line-up from “Appetite for Destruction.” However, no official word yet that says Slash and the other guys are rejoining Guns N’ Roses. For the last twenty something years the band has just been going around as an Axl Rose solo band.

    Personally, I think an “Appetite For Destruction” line-up tour would be great to see for the fans who have wanted it for so many damn years, but I would not pay to attend a show. The tickets would probably be priced at a ridiculous amount and I fear Axl would show up late, pissed off leading to him walking off the stage, or both. No, I am just fine listening to my “Appetite for Destruction” CD. If the original band wants to get together and makes some quick money, more power to them.

    For this next topic I thought I would discuss the new Iron Maiden album which comes out later this week. September 4th the band’s sixteenth studio album, “The Book of Souls,” will be released. After reading a few early reviews, I have noticed that the band is receiving some positive press. The way that the writers are describing the album is definitely getting me interested.

    So, when listening to the radio today I was surprised by how a radio DJ failed to take the opportunity to play the band’s new single for the album, “Speed of Light.” While listening the channel on Sirius Radio called, Ozzy’s Boneyard, which used to just be the Boneyard, a DJ brought up the new single and even plugged the album’s release date. However, after throwing compliment after compliment about the new music, he decided to play, “Hallowed be Thy Name.”

    Now, there is nothing wrong with playing that song, but after talking about how awesome this new single is, I would hope to hear the single. Ozzy’s Boneyard should try to play the new single more often, that way fans can hear the new music and be influenced to buy the new album. I am damn sure the label would give them permission to play, “The Speed of Light,” if the station asked. I honestly found this whole situation to reflect how Iron Maiden is still somewhat held as a nostalgia act in the US and there seems to be more global fans interested in the new music. I am not saying there are no US fans interested in the new album, however, I do believe there is a portion of American’s who only want to hear songs from, “The Number of the Beast.” Anyway, the new Iron Maiden album will definitely be a release I am looking forward to when it drops.

    That is all I can think of this week people. Take it or leave it, that is my hard rock and metal rant. Leave a comment below if you have an opinion you want voiced. -DJ Rob “the metal guy”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Putrid "Proclaim the Pest"

   Hailing from Lima, Peru, Putrid is a band that takes listeners on a chaotic ride through extreme instrumental landscapes and then drags them into an unholy dominion of musical hell.

    I have noticed that after reviewing Morbid Slaughter’s most recent album for this blog, Peru seems to have a strong underground extreme music scene. Putrid is another one of these South American metal bands who are able to draw influences from around the world and craft their own blasphemous sound. The four song release, “Proclaim the Pest,” demonstrates the band’s musical identity by merging black metal, death metal and even some grindcore elements. This album’s sound is raw and reminds me of early black metal production with a more vicious old school death metal style of playing.

    There is not one dull moment once this album starts. The opening song begins with a merciless musical onslaught titled, “Alive in Decay.” Driven by blitzkrieg guitar riffs and intense blast beats, the song exemplifies extreme music. The following track, “Pentamorphic Maze Asylum,” opens with a slower sludge sounding riff before bursting into a wicked tornado of terrifying notes. I definitely hear influences ranging from Napalm Death, Revenge, early Dark Funeral and Mayhem. However, Putrid takes the music into their own realm of musical insanity.

    Track number three, “Desekrator,” is the song I enjoy most on this release. The music is drenched in old school death metal compositions, but presented in that unforgiving black metal tone. Just imagine Morbid Angel and Mayhem had a musical child. Also, the vocals are a brutal reflection of the heavy sounding main composition. The finale to this album, “Triumph,” starts with a haunting sounding intro part. By this time the band has given listeners plenty of extreme riffs that you can’t believe they still have more to offer. The brutality is endless!

    When the album is all said and done, Putrid did not stray away from their vicious sound of black/death the entire time. Very consistent work and the recording quality suited the band’s compositions and musicianship very well. I have reviewed a decent amount of bands who play a similar style, but I think the passion Putrid has for this type of music really jumps out when listening to each of the four songs. After reviewing a fair amount of South American bands, I can honestly say that these metal maniacs really do live and breath metal. Putrid’s “Proclaim the Pest” is a recommended listen for any fan of extreme music desiring solid compositions and a demonic soul ripping sound.

Putrid Facebook Page:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kirra "Run Away"

   You don’t hear too many strong up and coming rock and roll bands these days. To be honest, I usually stick to the various forms of metal since good basic classic rock style bands are in short supply. Well, Kirra is a rock band who seems to have a formula going that might get people like myself interested in a more straightforward style of rock music.

    I think the classic hard rock structure is a rare form these days since most indie rock bands have saturated the music market with watered down nonsense. Kirra revisits that nineties chord punching hard rock sound with their debut album, “Run Away.” Sharp reverb riffs and raw grunge type vocals dominate this twelve track album.

   The band injects some heavier moments during certain songs, and those subtle parts give the sound a slight surge of aggression. The lead guitar playing is precise and fits the songs well. On the opening track, “Tappy Gilmore,” you hear the band taking a solid rock rhythm and developing the piece into an overall catchy rock song. Track number two, “Fly,” maintains that basic bare bones rock and roll mentality with some flashy leads thrown in. Other songs on this album such as, “Lies” and “Lay You Down,” feature similar arrangements to the beginning songs, but the leads and riff offer some variation if you listen closely. 

    Towards the end of the album, Kirra keeps hammering out nineties style hard rock music. The musicianship is not mediocre, however, the style of rock that these guys play is not looking to push technical boundaries. Songs such as, “Stay,” may not be to my exact musical preference, though I do see the potential to where Kirra might connect with a rock fan searching for a solid catchy sound. “Too Far Gone,” was probably my favorite song on the album and the opening riff really stands out. The song has a great main groove and seems to set up this endless drum and guitar highway of rock and roll.

    I think Kirra is possibly one of the most unique bands I have listened to recently, because they are going for a simple hard rock sound. They aren’t playing technical solos or incorporating ambient musical atmospheres, but just hitting away at their instruments like so many rock bands in the past. Some of the songs tend to have very basic rock lyrical structures, but I do believe this band’s sound can attract a wide fan base. If you want some solid crushing hard rock to play as you are driving around town in your car, then check out Kirra’s, “Run Away.”

 Kirra Facebook Page:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #15

    Looks like Disney Land won’t be creating a heavy metal themed ride called, “The Foe Hammer.” Hell, they won’t even let Exmortus play the House of Blues in Anaheim!

    Upon hearing that Exmortus was taken off of the Anaheim, CA House of Blues show with Marty Friedman, I was extremely confused and disappointed that Disney would do such a thing. I found out about the band being taken off of the show upon reading a post from the band’s label Prosthetic Records. Plus, the band confirmed by sharing an article from one of those other metal media websites that reports on stories with lightening quick speeds. Now, I am still trying to figure out why they were declined Disney approval to the play? Did Exmortus fail to pass the Disney qualification test? Are they too extreme for the House of Blues in Anaheim? I just do not understand why the band is not allowed to play at the House of Blues!

    Until Disney or the House of Blues in Anaheim release a valid reason as to why they did not grant approval, I am going to continue to look at them as another entity that discriminates against heavy metal. Surprisingly, Exmortus played at the House of Blues in Anaheim back in 2013! What changed? Maybe Mickey Mouse is afraid more people will become slaves to the sword and less slaves to his annoying teen pop artists that will grow up to crash and burn like the Hindenburg.

    Next topic is about one of my least favorite music journal magazines and a rock musician who played in a band that I used to really respect until I found out he was a complete egotistical jerk. Yes, Rolling Stone asked Gene Simmons to review a track from Lamb of God’s new album. Anyone has the right to review anything in this country, but asking Gene Simmons to review Lamb of God is ridiculous. He did compliment the band on their instrumental sound during the song. However, being the old school music man that he is, expressed how the vocals were not to his liking. Not surprising because Gene still thinks , “I Was Made For Loving,” is on par with Beethoven.

    I understand that everyone can’t be a fan of harsh sounding metal vocals, but do not get a person to comment on a extreme metal release if they are only going to complain that the vocals aren’t melodic enough. If that is the case, go listen to melodic power metal or classic style metal bands Gene. Yeah, while you are at it, go listen to a band like Night Demon instead of doing pointless articles for Rolling Pebbles.

    Okay, that is enough for this week. I need to check my blood pressure after that last topic. Until next time, stay metal and thanks for reading these rants! \m/

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Speedwhore "The Future is Now"

    With a name to upset a wholesome puritan and a sound to win over a group of black/thrash/speed metal fans who sit in front of buildings to scare people away, Speedwhore looks take the metal world by storm with their intense evil sounding release, “The Future is Now.”

    This debut album was released by the label, Witches Brew. After reviewing a fair amount of Witches Brew artists before, I can hear why Speedwhore is on the label. There is a classic extreme element to this group of German based musicians. You get a diverse blend of early black metal and hard hitting old school thrash and speed metal. The singer even tries to scream like King Diamond during certain songs which adds a sinister element to the music. Lyrically I find the band to offer nothing different from the usual groups I have come across who play this style of music. Now, what helps Speedwhore standout a bit is their dark and harsh instrumental compositions.

    The opening instrumental piece, “Requiem Mass,” has this haunting cinematic vibe going on. You feel like you are floating through darkness into unholy dimensions where ancient monsters sleep waiting to destroy the Earth. Soon after the band breaks into the song, “The Call.” Their chaotic black thrash sound hacks away at the ears with rapid drums and intense speed driven riffs. Track number three, “Grand War,” continues the band’s skull ripping style of metal without anytime to catch a breath. I am blown away at how the singer is able growl like a hound of Hades and then all of sudden scream his ass off like a banshee.
    Now, if I were to pick a favorite song on the album, I would chose “Secret Science.” I here some classic doom metal mixed with black metal which reminded me a little of Hellhammer. Also, there are these bizarre high pitched electronic noises that sound as if the band was recording the song for some dark science fiction film. “Camp 44,” is another solid track and maintains a vicious thrash presentation the whole way through. The drummer and guitar player seem to be beating the hell out of their instruments, because the musical intensity never stops! 

    Towards the end of the album, Speedwhore summons up three killer tracks: “Genetic Invasion,” “The Future is Now,” and “Wither on the Vine.” The riffs are not exactly technical, but there is this extreme passion that goes into each note. “The Future is Now,” definitely caught my attention, especially when the chorus hits and the singer screams over the morbid sounding riff. The final song, “Wither on the Vine,” ends with a similar sounding instrumental to that of the opening track. Speedwhore’s bass player comes up with some great bass lines. He definitely captures that doom like style as the music fades away.

    I think Speedwhore’s, “The Future is Now,” is a solid release from beginning to end. Is it the future of metal? Probably not, but I enjoyed how they took a variety of different metal styles and made their own brutal sound. Highly worth checking out if you like black/thrash/speed metal and want to frighten the neighbors on a Sunday afternoon.  

Speedwhore Facebook Page:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: Demonsmoke “Three Song Demo”

    Sometimes you just want to hear a heavy riff that comes crashing down like a vengeful giant stepping upon a small village. That thunderous doom sound is hard to beat, and if you can present the music in a strong and compelling manner, you will get those Sabbath worshipping fanatics interested in a heartbeat.

    Antioch California’s Demonsmoke is an up and coming doom band who I was able to see live in Petaluma, CA before hearing any of their recordings. Compared to the other bands who played that night, Demonsmoke was without question the most solid sounding act. Their sound reminded me of Sleep, but also had the viciousness of Church of Misery and Eyehategod. When the band put out free demos I made sure to grab one right away.

    To begin, I want to point out how the audio quality for this demo is very impressive. Some demos I have heard tend to be really generic sounding and seem to cast a poor light on those bands' songwriting abilities. Wherever Demonsmoke recorded this demo, the sound quality does not diminish the band’s heaviness and songwriting skills. The opening track, “Morphine Moonshine,” begins with a crack of sharp guitar feedback and then cuts into a buzz saw sounding distorted riff. The drums and bass guitar come pounding into the picture with the vocalist screaming right behind. Slowly, Demonsmoke builds up an enormous structure of doom and aggressive musical expression.

    The next song on the demo, “Sever,” is a shorter track and the tone comes across a bit more fierce. I think the band’s delivery is solid, but I would like to hear them expanded on the track or add some extra guitar leads to give the song a dynamic twist. I will say that the singer effectively used his aggressive vocal style which gives the song a sinister edge. The final song, “Creeping Down Your Neck,” hits even harder and contains these seismic earth tearing instrumental parts. Again, I think the demo quality really allows me to hear what this band has to offer and where they might be able to take their music.

    Being a fan of doom metal, or Sabbath worship as some might call it, I believe Demonsmoke is a group to keep an eye on . If you want to hear some heavy reverb head crushing riffs, dark grooving doom rhythms and harsh demon like is a new band to check out people!

Demonsmoke Facebook Page:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Deathrite "Revelation of Chaos"

    Crushing dark jams conjured into existence by some extreme musicians from Dresden, Germany. Deathrite is a band that takes a little death metal, grindcore and hardcore to punk to achieve their brutal casket smashing sound.

    The band’s newest offering, “Revelation of Chaos,” is a morbid world of vicious riffs and intense instrumental speed demons. You get that old Swedish death metal sound which is reminiscent of bands like Entombed and Dismember. There is even hints of that classic grindcore sound that falls into the same category as bands like Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower. Overall, this album is an unapologetic straightforward hard hitting release. They are very consistent and maintain a style that does not tail off into random musical directions. Once locked into one of their brutal pieces of super charged sounding death, there is no stopping this band!

     Kicking off the album is the destructive doom piece, “Melting Skies.” Right after the band hits listeners with a slamming track called, “Circle of Destruction.” The intense sludge death grind quality is very prominent. Also, the songs tend to fall around your two to four minute range. For average length metal tracks, the band seems to pack a mighty punch with bold heaviness. This is definitely a riff driven album, but the main drum and bass rhythms on this album offer an explosive spark of dark energy. “Determinate to Rot,” was one song that caught my attention with its hellish vocally delivery and massive sounding guitar riffs. The production and audio quality is very strong and allows Deathrite to present the music with their own distinct sound.

    There are some other noticeable tracks I would like to mention like “Toxic Hammer” and “Swords and Revolt.” I especially enjoyed “Toxic Hammer,” which contained a mix of hardcore punk and brutal sounding old school death metal. This band relentlessly and in a commanding fashion, paints a toxic head crushing picture with vivid lyrics and heavy sounding riffs.

    Now, I never felt that this album became boring towards the end, but I did notice that Deathrite played their style of music very safe. These guys are consistent and do not search new musical thresholds. Compared to the other bands who play this style, Deathrite’s sound is really solid and the recording quality helps make them sound above the usual amateur level. Still, this is an album that you will either overly enjoy, or find to be no different than the other death grind releases that seem to keep popping up year after year.

    In the end, I recommend Deathrite’s “Revelation of Chaos” for fans who want a nonstop brutal assault of extreme music. As I said in the beginning of this review, they have a casket smashing sound...That sounds pretty damn metal right?!

Deathrite Facebook Page:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rob “the metal guy” Rants About Metal #14

    Supposedly there is new music from Immortal that is in the works, however, longtime member Abbath will not be involved. That is like having an original Black Sabbath line-up without Bill Ward. I can’t imagine any of this nonsense actually happening...oh wait, yes I can.

    To be honest, I was slightly shocked by the announcement that lyricist/guitarist Demonaz and drummer Horgh released this past week regarding their decision to make a new Immortal album. I really believed Immortal was finished since Abbath started a new band after failing to obtain the legal rights to continue making new music as Immortal. I am confused how Immortal will be able to release an album without Abbath. He is the one guy everyone recognizes from Immortal and his voice gives the band a distinct sound.

    I see an Immortal without Abbath like Motörhead without Lemmy. No offense to Demonaz and Horgh, who are both talented musicians, but I do not believe they will draw the same amount of fans to checkout their new music since Abbath is no longer part of the band. I just don’t see how they can successfully sell Immortal if Abbath does not play on the new album. Maybe I will be wrong and this could be the greatest Immortal album ever released...though, I highly doubt it. 

    Next topic deals with some first hand metal experiences involving live shows I attended this past week. First, I went to a metal/punk show on Sunday that was free at some dive bar in Petaluma, CA. The bar was not the most optimal place for a show since there was no stage and not a whole lot of room for the bands to set up. Most of the people inside were already smashed and did not seem like they were there for the music. Also, the booking for the show was a catastrophe with the opening band being the best band that night and the other three being below the average musical level. The headliner was probably the most questionable act and I was literally the only one standing in front watching while everyone else was either passed out or still pouring more alcohol into their systems. Another point to bring up about that night was I witnessed two multi person brawls and a drunk dude getting body slammed. Complete and utter chaos, but these are the places some bands starting out can only play.

    Well, the other show I attended seemed to be in another galaxy compared to the Petaluma show. On Wednesday I saw Night Demon and Holy Grail play in SF at a bar called, Bottom of the Hill. Now, I wrote a review of that show, so I will not go into detail. However, I will say that the promoter and venue were extremely professional. There were no fights and no drunks getting body slammed. The point I am trying to make is that promoters and venues need to hold themselves to a certain level of professionalism, or face low turnouts in the future. Also, 21 plus/bar shows need to be careful, because they do not want the cops getting called and stopping the show. Unfortunately most bands who have yet to reach a certain level can only play bars since all ages venues tend to demand larger crowds and are becoming fewer (In my area at least). That is why I am a proponent of building more all ages venues and finding ways to make them profitable for the bands and owners.

    Alright, I have written quite enough. Of course there is probably some hair metal controversy I could weigh in on, but I will let Eddie Trunk talk about that on his radio show. Okay, thanks for reading this week’s rant and leave a comment if have an opinion about any topic I brought up during this rant. -Rob “the metal guy”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Concert Review: Night Demon, Holy Grail and Asada Messiah

Night Demon!

    The Bay Area metal community made their way out last night to San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill. Even for a Wednesday night show there was a decent crowd who seemed very supportive of the three acts playing: Night Demon, Holy Grail and Asada Messiah.

    It was about a year ago that I saw Night Demon in San Francisco. The band put on a stellar performance that night and seemed to take command of the momentum they were gaining from the release of their four song EP. Well, about a year later the band has an impressive debut full-length album out and have toured nonstop since the album’s release. This band is ambitious and one of the groups that I am willing to risk venturing into the wild piss smelling jungle of San Francisco.

    Actually, I did not have to deal with too much of San Francisco’s insanity as Bottom of the Hill is located close to the freeway with a fair amount of street parking. Once inside the venue, I felt welcomed by the sounds of classic metal being played over the speakers by DJ Rob Metal. Some people that I was the concert’s DJ since my radio name is DJ Rob “the metal guy.” However, there is a difference in how we use the term “metal” after our names. Also, I do not look like an old hippie...yet.

    Now the first band, Asada Messiah, was a local SF band and seemed to be in lively spirits as they took the stage. This group played a mix of traditional metal, thrash and even a bit of punk. Their lead singer/guitarist had a humorous personality and added a few good one liners in-between songs. The band’s sound was tight and the dual guitar attack definitely strengthened their sound. Also, the band would throw in some crushing riff sections to get the fans’ heads banging. I thought the lead guitar playing wasn’t too bad, but the riffs for this band seemed to standout the most.

    Taking the stage second was Night Demon. Compared to the other two bands, Night Demon went above and beyond with their stage set-up. There was a sick background banner with, “The Curse of the Damned,” cover art. The band even started their set with some epic cinematic music and burst right into the song, “Screams in the Night.” Once they started tearing away I was literally taken back by the band’s energy. Plus, they had a well planned out lighting arrangement that added to the overall performance. Drummer Dusty Squires pounded his kit with precision while guitarist Brent Woodward played his guitar with confidence and great attention to detail. Bassist and frontman Jarvis Leatherby seemed to pour endless amounts of energy into each song and played his bass v-shaped bass with fierce aggression.

    The songs from, “Curse of the Damned,” sounded brilliant live along with the tracks off of that first EP. The band even threw in a cover of Riot’s “Road Racin’,” which sound really damn good. Another cool part during their set was when their roadie and merchandise guy, Andrew Bansal, dressed up as the Night Demon mascot “Rocky” during the song, “The Chalice.” Night Demon finished with their self-titled anthem of classic metal rebellion and left the crowd roaring with applause and running to the band’s merch table.

    After Night Demon moved their gear off stage, Holy Grail began setting up. I had not heard much from Holy Grail in a while, but they announced a new album in the works and that seemed to get the fans excited. They are definitely a solid live act and played the traditional metal style in the same vein as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but with a tad more aggression. The band’s two guitar players amazed me with their technicality and dual guitar leads. Also, singer James Paul Luna knows how to handle a crowd by being a fierce high pitch screaming frontman. They seem to really wave that flag for metal and the fans were having a wild time during the band’s set. If this had been an all ages shows I would have definitely expected Holy Grail to get a mosh pit going.

    Overall, the night was what this genre of music needs: passionate fans and hard working bands with plenty of blistering talent. I honestly believe after seeing Night Demon take their live show to a higher level, this time next year they will be headlining an even larger venue. Even the other two bands, Asada Messiah and of course Holy Grail, should be watched closely because they are no subpar acts by far and capture the classic metal spirit in their music. The passion and drive of heavy metal just will not die. I am really looking forward to the future of metal, especially what Night Demon has to offer.

Asada Messiah

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Interview with James Pratt from Countless Skies

Recently James Pratt from the band Countless Skies took the time to answer some questions I had for him about the group's recent single "Solace." Also, he talks about their appearance at the Bloodstock Festival and what they plan to do moving forward. Check it out...

Q: Hey there! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I would like to begin by asking about the recording process of, “Solace,” your brand new single. How long did the writing and recording process take? Who was the main songwriter, or was the entire band involved in the writing process?

A: We wrote the song as part of the writing process for our album. For this one in particular, I took a couple of riffs that Ross had been working on and expanded them into a full song, but it wasn’t until we got into the studio that the song took its final form. In particular, the acoustic interlude that Phil played and his vocal parts weren’t written until we came to record them. The whole experience was great fun, we travelled down to HVR Studios in Ipswich and spent the day with Danny B (of Criminal/Pentagram Chile).

Q: Now that the single has been out for a bit, what responses have you been getting from your fans? Most importantly, give us your thoughts on the single and the overall experience of having a recording available to people across the globe?

A: The feedback has been great, people are really liking the song. One of the most common criticisms of our EP was the sound quality, because we recorded it by ourselves, so the top priority this time round was to get everything recorded professionally.


Q: I think readers might be interested in a little background information, so I was wondering if you could tell me when Countless Skies formed? Also, is “Solace” the first official recording that the band has released? 

A: Ross and I have been mates for years, and started jamming together when we were about thirteen. In 2009 we wrote an EP under the name Hatespire, and Phil agreed to record us and provide clean vocals for one of the tracks. Phil joined us permanently on bass, and Nathan found an advert we’d posted online looking for a drummer. We played a few gigs but then all got too busy, so left it for a few years. After a while we got the urge to carry on, so Ross and I started writing music for what would become our self-titled EP under the new name Countless Skies. We put that out at the end of last year, and Solace will be included on our first full-length.

Q: Being a fan of progressive rock along with heavy metal, I really enjoyed hearing how you guys took the songs into a variety of directions. There was definitely a progressive rock element in the song with that solid metal side too. Could you name some of your musical influences that have shaped your own possible musical identity? 

A: We’re huge fans of Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, and I think that shows. Also, our name is taken from a track by Be’lakor. That said, we all listen to a variety of different genres so we’re always open to take tracks in different directions. Personally, I’m a huge Genesis fan, so it wouldn’t take me long to get bored if all of our songs just stuck to a predicable structure.


Q: After looking at your Facebook page, I noticed Countless Skies was booked to play Bloodstock Festival. That must have been extremely exciting and I was wondering if you might share that experience? How did you guys react when first being told you would be playing Bloodstock? Any bands playing the festival that you were excited to see?

A: We got to play Bloodstock by winning our local Metal 2 The Masses competition, hosted at The Castle in Luton. We were so surprised, the bands we played with throughout the competition were incredible. I had no idea there was so much great talent in the area. We’ve all been to Bloodstock just as fans (for Ross, this was his tenth time!), so playing it this year is a dream come true. Unfortunately, because of when we played, we had to miss some great acts like Ne Obliviscaris, Enslaved and Ihsahn. We did catch Opeth though. There were some awesome bands in the Sophie and New Blood tents this year - King Leviathan, Ageless Oblivion and Fleshgod Apocalypse, to name a few.


Q:With this question I want to possibly get a glimpse into what the future holds for Countless Skies. Are you working on a full-length album or maybe an EP? 

A:Yeah, we’re working on a full-length right now, and it’s coming together great. We’ll be going back to HVR Studios later in the year to record it, so you can expect it to be out in the first few months of 2016. In the meantime, we’ve got a few gigs lined up to keep us busy. The one I’m most looking forward to is with Stone Circle at B2 in Norwich. 

Q: Lastly, explain why you think fans of heavy metal should check out Countless Skies? What separates you from the other bands? 

A: That’s a tough one! If you like the bands mentioned above, or you just prefer your death metal more melody-driven, check us out. I guess I’d recommend everyone go to our Bandcamp page and download Solace, then you’ll know for sure if you like us.

Countless Skies Facebook Page:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Rob “the metal guy” Rants About Metal #13

    For this rant, the beginning topic will be more about hard rock based than metal. Also, the band I will be discussing is my all-time favorite band...Rush, so I will really be expressing my honest opinions.

    Saturday August 1st in Los Angeles, California, was the final date of the Rush R40 tour. The band had put together a stunning tour of North America that I was lucky enough to catch when they came to my area. However, once the tour ended and even before, the internet rumor mill started spinning about saying that this would probably be the end for Rush. Even though the band has not explicitly stated that the R40 was the last official tour and there has yet to be an official press release saying the band is done, I have read articles inferring that the Canadian trio is packing it up. When will these rock and metal websites learn?!

    Well, Alex Lifeson during an interview with Eddie Trunk, finally made a statement to shut everyone up about the band being finished. Alex stated during the interview with Eddie Trunk that, “Whatever this tour is, it's not the end of the band.” So, there you have it people. Rush is not done! If you listen to the interview and hear what Alex has to say, he explains that the band is just becoming aware of what they might be capable of doing in the future because of their age. You really need to read the language of his statements and notice there is no clear cut phrase that says Rush is stopping. Over the years Rush has developed a strong bond with their fans, and would make sure to communicate in a direct manner that they are making a major career decision such as to possibly retire. Rush would not do some article with an elitist piece of crap magazine like Rolling Stone and then just tell their fans to deal with it.

    Okay, moving on before I write an extremely long rant about the flaws of Rolling Stone. Anyone here notice Corey Taylor tends to make statements that receive unbelievable rock/metal media press coverage? Look at what I am doing right now! After reading him make a comment saying how pop music is pretty much equal to complete garbage and then how young metal fans don’t care about the roots of the genre, I feel some need to analyze and discuss his statements. I agree one-hundred percent about his comments on pop music. In an interview with, Taylor said, “You might as well be listening to a fucking piece of wood at that point.” Such an unapologetic and truthful statement. Also, he does a great job pointing out where the mainstream music business is going. Is Corey Taylor running for president? I might vote for him...

    Hold on, I do not agree with everything the guy has to say. His comment on about how younger metal fans don’t care about the genre’s roots was very disappointing. I know plenty of young metal fans who care about the old music as much as the new music. To me Corey Taylor needs to be careful about trying to analyze the entire young metal population. I have gone to shows and talked with young fans who enjoy bands like Rush, Black Sabbath, Hellhammer, Atheist, Carnivore and then started telling me about the new up and coming local bands. I myself am only twenty-three and enjoy a variety of hard rock and heavy metal both new and old. So, I hope Corey Taylor understands there are young metal fans who do care about the genre’s older groups, and are at the same time passionate about the new bands. Maybe he has experienced too many internet trolls and needs to make his way down to more local metal shows to better understand the current young metal culture.

    Well, I hope you were all able to read this long essay of a rant. I should buy you all a drink for reading this whole damn entry. Make sure to comment below if you have anything to add to the discussion. Cheers! -Rob “the metal guy” 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Shrapnel Storm Interview

Coming from Finland, Shrapnel Storm brings a mighty punch of old school sounding death metal. Check out their album, "Mother War," which is a bruising death metal release. Recently, the band took the time to answer some questions I had for them. Here is the interview below...

Q) Hello guys in Shrapnel Storm! Congratulations on the release of “Mother War.” It is a heavy grooving piece of death metal that is loud enough to knock a house down...okay maybe not that loud, but a pretty killer sounding release.

A) Hi! Thanks, we agree everything you say. This is the first time in our history we are 100% satisfied with the sound issues, to be honest. We cannot praise enough our sound engineer Daniel Rantanen who mixed and mastered the album sounding the way it is. He surely made shitloads of work, us concentrating mainly on criticism, but it is all worth it!

Q) First off, how pleased are you with the overall album? Are there any favorite songs or riffs?

A) Our goal was to make some sort of history with our debut, and we think we also succeeded in it. The mission was to create solid, under 40 minute strike of old school death metal with a heavy and battering sound, and the result is speaking itself. We've listened to the songs quite a lot as you can imagine, but the weirdest thing is that our favorite songs are changing all the time. Depending on the mood, the favorite can be our opener "Carpet bombing" or our closer "Rising Storm" or something between them. Some could say it is a sign of a good album, but we're incapable to judge. At some point you always get blind to the art you've created, so we only trust what people say, haha! The reviews have been quite nice, though so we trust them!

Q) How long did it take to record the album? Were there any songs that came across as challenging during the recording sessions, or did you guys have the songs down?

A) Basically we started to compose the songs in June 2014, and we entered the studio late December 2014. The recordings ended March 2015. Some songs were of course more difficult to get together, but overall the recordings went quite well and we kept our schedule. The problems we had were more technique-based and we had also some severe health issues, when our lead vocalist Ykä needed some hospital care. Even the doctors didn't get any diagnose to him, so maybe he was just stressing out, haha!

Q) Maybe you can give readers some background info, how long have all of you been playing together? Who came up with the name Shrapnel Storm?

A) We've formed the group approximately 2007, but nobody remembers what was the exact date. Four of us (Mikko, Tohtori, Aki, Pete) have been in the band since start, and Ykä joined 2011. Creating a name to our group was as difficult as you can imagine. We were ballooning a couple of months with different ideas (incl. Zombie Vomit etc. shitty cliches) when our guitarist Aki came with the name Shrapnel Storm.

Q) The album’s title is “Mother War,” and there a lot of songs about war and battle. Who writes the lyrics and where do they draw inspiration?

A) Basically Aki and Ykä write the lyrics together, and they are very devoted about the words and expressions. Basically we do not play with dates and locations, the songs just have a humane kind of aspect to war and its consequences overall.

Q) Shrapnel Storm’s sound is really unique and has a mix of groove and brutal death metal. What bands did you guys listen to growing up that might have influenced your style of music?

A) The musical taste in our group is quite diverse, but overall probably the biggest influence into our music has been the 90's Florida dm bands and Bolt Thrower or Benediction. Our love towards this kind of style was born already in our teenager years and we guess the flame never dies.

Q) So I see you guys are from Finland, how is the metal scene in your area? Do you play shows often and tour?

A) Yeah, we've done quite lots of gigs in Finland, but we're also eagerly waiting someone would invite us to play outside our borders. Booking agents, wink, wink, haha! The metal scene in Finland is quite big and overall there is more supply than demand.
For a starting band with no name, for instance, there can be some problems to get playing shows. When we are touring, typically we have a couple of shows in a month. That's quite seldom, but as we all have dayjobs and some of us have little children it suits us quite well. Next dates in calendar are:
14.8. Lahti, Finland
15.8. Tampere (Our hometown), Finland
22.8. Helsinki, Finland

Q) If you were to go on a tour, what bands would you like to play with? What is your dream tour package?

A) Tough question! There was some live footage coming from Hellfest, and it seemed Obituary was ripping the stage off, so it would be super fun to support them some time. Also Bolt Thrower can be named as one of our biggest influences, so that would be another killer act. We guess this kinda Obituary/Bolt Thrower/Shrapnel Storm tour is not gonna happen in near future but it is always nice to imagine! To be honest, we're a small band and a support slot for any of the big names would be close the dream come true.

Q) Last question, a fun question I do believe so myself. If you were to make a music video for a song on the album, would you like to have the band driving around in tanks, or maybe have you flying jet fighters?

A) Haha! No, definitely none of the options! We're too poor to execute either one, so the more likely option would be just running topsy-turvy in the forest with AK47's!

Q) Alright guys, thanks for doing this interview and can’t wait to hear more music from Shrapnel Storm in the future!

A) Thanks! We already have some strikes ready for the second album so you'll definitely hear from us later on!

Click Here to Visit the Band's Facebook Page

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Countless Skies "Solace (Single)"

    Coming across the musical landscape with a melodic death metal style and creative determination, England’s Countless Skies leaves listeners wrapping their minds around the variety of sounds that can be heard on the band’s single, “Solace.” The blend of calming melodic touches and aggressive metal sounds takes listeners into a realm of musical fascination.

    Personally, I could not get over how the single’s cover art complimented the song. If you look at the cover for this single, you will notice an individual standing amongst trees under a starry night sky with a green tint to the picture. There is a type of tranquility to this scene, but also a sense of mystery due to the green celestial light. Now, the music definitely conveys that same contrast with calming compositions and then moments of extreme elements to add diversity to the track. Once the acoustic guitar and piano riff set the path for the melodic lead guitar to paint a wondrous picture, you do not anticipate the death growl vocals that soon follow. I thought the track always kept me guessing where the band would go next, and at the same time, they maintained a brilliant melodic sounding atmosphere.

    For one song I do believe Countless Skies demonstrated tremendous musical talent. My only advice would be for the band to not settle for simplicity and to keep pushing the boundaries of melodic death metal. As a fan of progressive rock music, I really do enjoy the cleverness put into the recording of, “Solace.” Can’t wait to hear an entire album from Countless Skies. Also, I hope they make sure to use the same artist who did the cover for this single!

Click Here to Visit the Band's Facebook Page

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Desolate Pathway "Valley of the King"

    Desolate Pathway’s, “Valley of the King,” is a musical journey that take listeners through a valley full of epic fantasy based lyrics and melodic doom metal compositions. This debut release is crafted as if telling a story similar to that of, The Lord of the Rings, but told with melodic metal style vocals and doom sounding instrumental atmospheres.

    The band was formed in the United Kingdom by Vince Hempstead who played in the iconic doom band Pagan Altar for a bit. Now, usually when I think of fantasy based lyrics I tend to associate them with power metal music, so this was a unique blend in my opinion. I noticed when listening to the album, the band really put thought into each songs’ theme by adding different sound effects to compliment the lyrics.

    Musically this album definitely rings true to the traditional heavy metal formula with an emphasis on the haunting doom style riffs. The opening title track, starts the tale off with the sounds of knights fighting and then breaks into a mellow sounding arrangement. The band’s singer narrates over the slow moving catchy riffs with this melodic yet powerful voice that reminds me a bit of Ian Gillan’s vocal delivery.

    The following tracks all seem to demonstrate that slow Sabbath like instrumental style, but the vocals add a melodic deviation from the darker instrumental sounds. Songs like “Desolate Pathway” and “Forest of Mirrors,” come across as gloomy but still inject a triumphant tone at times. “Last of My Kind,” was one song that vividly stood out for me on this album. The song begins with a strong repetitive bass line and eventually develops into this massive sounding chorus section. Overall, I thought the band put a great amount of musical variation into the track and the song was well recorded.

    Track number five, “Season of the Witch,” had a more classic hard rock sound. Besides the cheesy sounding witch cackle, I thought the track was another solid brick in the story Desolate Pathway was telling. “King of Vultures,” continued to focus on the straightforward dark doom riffs and basic rock drum arrangements. The final two songs, “Shadow of the Tormentor” and “Upon the Throne of Lights,” put the finishing touches on this album’s musical and lyrical narrative. Both tracks featured the same instrumental formula that could be heard on the other songs. Of course, there are these deviations from the main verse sections that keep the songs interesting and not too repetitive.

    For those heavy metal fans who might enjoy epic fantasy themed lyrics matched with a melodic doom sound, I would recommend Desolate Pathway’s “Valley of the King.” The album can be a tad gimmicky at times, especially with witch cackles and knights fighting. Still, the musicianship and songwriting is extremely solid, so I think the album is worth hearing if you are a fan of melodic doom metal...or a fan of, The Lord of the Rings, who might become a fan of melodic doom metal after hearing this album.

Click Here to Visit the Band's Facebook Page

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Rob "the metal guy" Rants About Metal #12

    So I finally sat down and listened to the new Nile track, “Call of Destruction.” Well, if anyone was hoping for a strong blistering technical death metal track, they would not have been disappointed.

    Nile is a band that has something to prove with their upcoming album, “What Should Not Be Unearthed.” Their last album seemed to receive mixed responses from fans with the negative reviews tending to be very critical. I believe Nile just needs to keep offering brutal tech death metal and find ways to strengthen the presentation of their lyrical content like on the band’s early releases. I can honestly say the new track, “Call of Destruction,” is a massive step in the right direction. The track is slamming with bombastic sounding wicked compositions. Another area that really stood out is the lyrical content. Nile writes about how there is this call to destroy historic artifacts and monuments in the Middle East going on right now. They even put a disclaimer in the beginning of the video to tell people that they are not trying to put forth a religious or political agenda, but they want to raise awareness about the destruction of human history going on in the world. While most bands tend to leave me hesitant after releasing the first single to a new album...Nile has me sold. Where can I pre-order this damn thing?!

    Alright, next topic that I want to address and evaluate. Recently Helloween announced they will be coming to North America. However, they will only be playing seven shows. The closest show to where I live is in Los Angeles...and that is still about six plus hours of driving. What is going on? Okay, I will do my best to analyze and offer a possible explanation.

    Helloween is an ionic power metal band who seems to get plenty of nods in the metal community. Unfortunately, I have noticed that certain fans only reference the classic Helloween albums and seem to write their new music off as generic. There have been similar cases where a European metal band puts out a new album and American metal fans do not feel the new release lives up to the band’s earlier more iconic albums. Now, because of this a band from Europe will probably decide that touring all across North America will not likely be a financial success. Thus, they only play a few shows where the market looks to be best for them. Helloween’s new album, “My God Given Right,” in my opinion is a great release and features some really good songs. These guys still have the ability to write solid power metal songs along with displaying brilliant musicianship. As I brought up earlier in my evaluation, I think most American fans are stuck believing, “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part One and Two,” are the last two albums worth noting. European power metal fans seem to be more up to date with the genre’s new releases, so the main market for most power metal bands is probably Europe. I might need to move to Europe if I want a better shot at seeing Helloween live...

    That is all I have for this week you metal maniacs. Feel free to weigh in with your own opinions and offer some possible points about the topics I have brought up. Cheers!
-Rob "the metal guy" \m/