Saturday, October 29, 2016

Thought Vomit Release Show (10/28/16)

Thought Vomit

    You could not have asked for a better night to have a release show for Thought Vomit’s new album, “Punks Brutal Retaliation/Sync the Skies.” With only a few days before Halloween, the Phoenix Theater was jam-packed with fans who were highly anticipating Thought Vomit's performance along with the other six supporting bands on the bill.

  Opening the show was the young punks from Ukiah known as, R4ID. The self-described, “Turd Punk,” dudes never fail to deliver that radiant hardcore punk attitude. I saw these guys a couple times over the summer and this time they would be joined by their new singer Clayton King. R4ID started their set off with just the original three members Daniel Young on drums, Phoenix Lewis on bass/vocals and Boden Vogus on guitar. Right away the band tore into a tidal wave of angry sounding classic punk jams to kick off the night. The people in the front row of the stage were really rocking out to the music’s overall unapologetic punk vibe. The drum sound and bass tone were well mixed, however, I wish the guitars could have been a bit louder. Still, that did not stop Boden from striking the chords with pure aggressive force and putting on a solid performance. When Clayton joined them onstage the band really came alive and I think the addition definitely adds to the band’s sound. Overall, the stage presence from the entire group was strong and I cannot wait to hear what they have down the road.


  Following R4ID was a local band who I would be seeing for the first time called, EveryDayFreak. This trio played a style of hard rock/metal that took on a variety of different elements, but maintained a solid and consistent sound. The mixing of their instruments sounded good and the bass tone was probably the most noticeable during their set. EveryDayFreak was a group who seemed like they had their songs down and the band sounded very tight. I am sure they are still working on ways to push themselves as songwriters and I felt like the compositions were very simple and not too technical. Definitely a group to keep an eye on and it will be nice to see their progression with more shows in the future.


  Third up on the bill was Petaluma locals, Pacifists. Unfortunately, Pacifists happen to play a style of hardcore/metal that I choose to not review too often. I shall be as constructive as possible, but their style of breakdown driven music is personally not my favorite. Whenever I see people doing that karate in the pit style of hardcore dancing, I just burst out laughing. The band relied heavily on simple breakdowns and can benefit from more dynamic instrumental compositions. Pacifists seemed to have their songs down and I noticed that the band had a loyal following giving them support. Like I said before, this is a style of music I struggle to comprehend along with the karate dancing. I’m surprised no one dressed up like the Karate Kid and went into the pit.

  Taking the stage fourth and hopefully deviating from the karate dancing was, Cyborg Octopus. This East Bay progressive metal outfit really explores the different musical thresholds available to them. Dressed up like characters from Scooby-Doo, the band began their set with some latin sounding dance music and then transitioned into a more modern progressive metal sound. They are very talented musicians who go outside the box on occasion to where you never know which direction their music will go. The saxophone player was really getting into the music and at times he was headbanging with great enthusiasm to the riffs. I noticed the fans were having a difficult time figuring out when to mosh, because one guy was doing his karate in the pit crap while the band was playing a more smooth jazz composition. Overall, their set was solid and entertaining with regards to some of the crowd members.

  After Cyborg Octopus wrapped up their unique sounding set, Predation, cranked up the volume and unleashed some riffs of brutality. The few times I had seen Predation before were unfortunately plagued due to poor sound quality. Tonight was a lot better, because the band sounded unbelievably solid during their set. Plus, vocalist Phil Bassini performs with great passion to where even though I am not a massive fan of their style of music, I find myself interested due to his delivery and stage presence. The riffs were brutal and thanks to that wicked guitar tone I thought the band definitely delivered a strong performance. It goes to show what can happen when the sound guy and the band are able to figure out the most optimal sound.

  What band we up to now? Oh yeah number six, Wolf King. This trio of blackened hardcore riff crushing maniacs put on one extreme set. They did not need a bass player as their guitarist, drummer and singer formula proved to deliver quite the impact on the crowd’s ears. Very relentless and vicious sounding compositions that contained simple structures, yet powerful moments of distorted expression. I felt like you had some recycled and generic compositions at times, but the band’s passion and energy seemed to carry them a lot during their set. People were headbanging along and the reaction after each song was positive.

  Finally, the band celebrating the release of their new album, Thought Vomit, started their set with an enormous roar from the audience. Everyone made a push towards the stage as the band began their first song. Guitarist Chris Meyer and bassist Jordie Hilley hammered madly away at the main riff, while drummer Clay Prieto handled the main rhythm with ease from the behind the kit. Singer Spencer Clark came out and as always poured endless amounts of energy into his onstage performance. Playing mostly new material the musicians in Thought Vomit put on one stellar and enthusiastic set. Probably one of my favorite songs during their set was, “Glad to Lose.” The crowd seemed to be digging the song as well and the pit kept growing throughout the piece. Later during their set the band was joined by Abby from X-Method who contributed a strong vocal performance. Abby was not the only person who joined the band up onstage. A fan with a chicken mask showed up and started rocking out with the band. In conclusion, Thought Vomit sounded brilliant and the crowd seemed to maintain an amazing level of energy during each of the band’s songs until the end.

Thought Vomit featuring Abby from X-Method

If you have read this far I congratulate you, because writing this review was not a simple task, especially with seven bands who offered many memorable moments. Although some bands I found to not suite my personal musical taste, I respect all the bands who played and congratulate all the musicians for putting together one gigantic night of hardcore and metal mayhem. Also, congratulations to Thought Vomit on the release of their new album and may their hard work and DIY ethic continue to carry them forward.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Trecelence "Justified Atrocities"

    Over the last last year I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the growth and accomplishments of an extremely talented group of very passionate thrash metal musicians. Trecelence is a band that to strives make solid headbanging technical thrash music and they have gained a loyal following within the Sonoma County Metal Community. The Santa Rosa, CA based band's new full-length album, “Justified Atrocities,” now looks to take the global metal world by storm with a fierce arsenal of technical thrash tracks.

  To start, I am already aware that some will question the authenticity of this review and will claim that I am being biased since I know the band. However, as I have mentioned before when writing reviews with bands who I happen to know, I find that I can still present a fair assessment of the music. If I do not particularly like something, I will express my opinion. Also, all humans are biased and this bullshit about being as unbiased as pure white snow is a freaking joke. If the mainstream media is biased as hell, then I can write reviews about my friends’ music.

  Moving on, “Justified Atrocities,” can be described as a technical thrash offering that pays homage to all those eighties bands who led the way by shredding and headbanging with endless amounts of mosh pit conjuring riffs. The album opens with the triumphant instrumental piece, “Canis Major,” and gives listeners a brief introduction to the technical guitar talents of Chris Olney Burnett and Donnie Small. The track then perfectly transitions into the next song, “Into the Gateway,” where bassist/vocalist Zane Covington unleashes an epic scream as the guitars and drums viciously begin their thrash journey into the chaotic sounding vortex. Drummer Ilan Cabrera maintains a solid presence on the track and along with Zane, creates a heavy sounding backbone where Chris and Donnie are able to come up with some impressive leads.

    The area that stands out the most for me on this album is the guitar playing. Song number three, “Shrapnel Surroundings,” is filled to the brim with heavy skull crushing riffs and of course those tremendous note shredding leads. You even get a King Diamond like scream from Zane during the song to add that extra emphasis. I want to point out how Zane’s vocals have definitely improved since the band’s first EP “Acidic Demise,” and his ability to hit the high notes really stands out. Following it up, “Systematic Intimidation,” keeps the thrash machine moving and driving at top speed. At times I felt like the lyrics were getting lost in the riffs and Zane vocals during the verse sections could have been slightly louder.

    Probably my favorite track on the album, “Corporatocracy,” contains a variety of dynamic riffs that have elements of more than just thrash. There is this one part towards the end where one of the guitars picks through these haunting minor chords and sounds a bit like something you might hear in a black metal song. “Agenda 21,” and “Burning the Pendulum,” are a couple of solid tracks that sort of maintain the same style and sound you heard from the previous tracks. The bass playing really stands out during, “Burning the Pendulum,” which helps add that devastating low end punch to the music.

  The final three tracks are, “Under the Elusive Sky,” “Battle Beneath the Skull,” and “Aridscape.” All three tracks do not disappoint and the band stays consistent until the end. My only minor complaint is I am still not completely sold on the production for the vocals. I felt like the guitars and drums would drown out what Zane was saying, but that was only during a few sections. Overall, the band sounds really tight throughout the release.

  To conclude, Trecelence crafted one ambitious sounding album that enters the gateway into the global world of metal by delivering some relentless and ferocious sounding tracks. Unlike some bands in the thrash genre who settle for basic recycled thrash worship riffs, one can hear where Trecelence is pushing themselves to create clever instrumental compositions to compliment their thought provoking lyrics. This is definitely a good starting point for the band and I know that their hard work ethic will allow them to construct even more solid technical thrash tunes in the future. So, get off your Twitters and stop worrying about who is going to be the next circus clown leader of the world circus and go pick up a copy of, “Justified Atrocities.”

Trecelence "Shrapnel Surroundings" :

Trecelence Facebook Page:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Skogen “Svitjod”

    After being out of print for a long time, Skogen’s, “Svitjod,” is being rereleased through Nordvis Produktion and will be available on a variety of formats. This album really takes listeners across the Scandinavian landscapes by unleashing a brilliant atmospheric black metal sound. 

    The Swedish band's second album is considered to be one of the finest atmospheric black metal albums from the region and the band continues that tradition of Scandinavian black metal which goes all the way back to Bathory. When listening to, “Svitjod,” you will find yourself becoming immersed in the mix of atmospheric black metal and Scandinavian influenced metal. Similar to Bathory’s, “Nordland 1 and 2,” Skogen introduces listeners to more than just a style of music, but it is an homage to one’s culture. 

    The solemn intro riff on the first song, “Dighra dödh,” creates this ominous atmospheric tone and the harsh black metal vocals provide such a powerful sound. Eventually, the band develops the music into more of an epic sounding section with these great melodic touches. However, there is always this contrast between the black metal and more Scandinavian folk metal elements. Probably what makes this album’s atmosphere so mesmerizing is the contrast of styles. Track number two, “Häxsabbat (Crimen Laesae Divinae Maiestatis),” creates more of a grim atmosphere as if one were walking through a blizzard across a frozen tundra under a full moon on a pitch black night. The music expresses such raw emotion and the notes played on the guitar send chills down your spine. It is really great music to clear your mind and lose yourself in the dark yet pleasant atmosphere. 

    Another notable track is, “Vinterriket,” which is the album’s longest piece that goes for about elven plus minutes. The music journeys through a variety of transformations and features acoustic incorporation to offer that Scandinavian sounding theme. Overall, it is an amazing piece of music that demonstrates tremendous songwriting talent. “Storm,” is another dynamic and captivating song on the album. The brutal black metal vocal delivery is perfectly recorded over the guitar and drum parts to inject a more aggressive sounding tone. A great point to bring up about the album is that the recording for this release was extremely well executed. The recording of each instrument truly stands out and plays an important role in the overall structure. Also, the keyboard sections definitely deserve recognition for building a landscape in the background to contrast with the extreme sounding compositions. 

    A few final tracks I want to mention are, “Blodörnshämnd,” “Dauðaferð,” and “Svitjod.” These songs contain some great riffs and triumphant sounding pieces of atmospheric black metal. When you look at the album cover you could imagine yourself hiking through the forests of Sweden listening to this album. Although the Scandinavian themed atmospheric black metal style has been created numerous times before, Skogen does make it interesting and is able to find ways to make you become engaged in the music. 

    If you have heard this album before, or if this is your first time even hearing about the band Skogen, you still need to go and check out the rerelease Nordvis is putting out. I do believe they are already selling copies on their page, so go and grab a copy if you enjoy this type of music. As a fan of atmospheric black metal, I truly think this release stands out amongst the crowd and deserves high praise for its musical creativity. 

Skogen “Häxsabbat (Crimen Laesae Divinae Maiestatis)" : 

Skogen Facebook:
Link to Label: 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Trecelence Release Show (10/8/16)


    There is without question that Saturday, October 8th at the Arlene Francis Center was a monumental celebration for the Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore Community. For this was not just another show, but the release show for Trecelence’s debut full-length album, “Justified Atrocities.” These die-hard local thrashers have put in a great amount of work leading up to the release of this album and playing in front of their local metal community made the release of this album even more special. 

    Playing alongside Trecelence were five other talented metal acts. You had Hellbender, Trial by Combat, Stained Humanity, Sepulchre and Hemotoxin. It was great to have Hemotoxin come from up from the East Bay to play this show. After reviewing their most recent album, “Biological Enslavement,” I was eager to hear the new material live. I found when arriving to the venue everyone was in great spirits as the metal community seemed extremely proud of Trecelence for their accomplishment. Plus, the guys in Trecelence were overly excited to play and give people a chance to hear some music from their new album. One could say it felt like Christmas, besides the fact that inside the venue was hotter than hell and could melt a snowman faster than a grindcore song. 

    Kicking off the massive metal celebration was Stained Humanity. I saw these guys for their first show and was looking forward to hearing how they have progressed. Compared to their first show, one could tell the young dudes were becoming more conformable onstage. The band is starting to form a solid sound that will help them continue to improve and allow them to open up more creative possibilities. The lead guitar playing stood out more too this time around and I think that is going to be an area where they can really explore their technical writing potential. Just need to keep practicing and finding ways to develop a tight and unique sound. 

    Second up was the Pittsburg, CA based group Hemotoxin, who would be playing Santa Rosa for their first time. I think the local audience responded quite well to the technical thrash four piece. Hemotoxin is an extremely atypical thrash group, because you have elements of old school death metal and the band even displays some progressive elements in their music. If you have followed these guys then you cannot deny that, “Biological Enslavement,” is a release that simply raises the bar for this type of music. The technicality in the riffs is top notch and the fluidity of the lead guitar playing is astonishing at times. Towards the middle of their set the pit was furiously moving and the band kept on delivering plenty of crushing songs to bang your head. 


    After Hemotoxin was local veteran metal warriors, Trial by Combat. The band would be playing their first show with a new drummer and hopefully he would not combust onstage like the drummer in Spinal Tap. The band of course unleashed their brutal assault of distorted destruction on the crowd and got the people going crazy within seconds. The vocals that came from singer Dashiel McKenzie offered up great amounts of brutality while the riffs from Jesse Palmer and Aaron Dudley annihilated people’s ears. Towards the end they threw in a cover of Amon Amarth’s, “The Pursuit of Vikings,” which went over well with the crowd. 

    Fourth up after Trial By Combat was the three piece old school death metal worshipers, Sepulchre. These guys are very talented and their sound takes from a variety of influences, which I think allows them to separate themselves from the usual old school death metal worship type acts. Also to point out, Chris Olney Burnett would be playing in Trecelence a little later in the evening, so for him to be playing a set with Sepulchre showed how much this young man is dedicated to the music. I would have also liked to see him play a set with his other band Amnesia, but already playing two sets was probably quite a test already. Overall, Sepulchre put on a tremendous performance that in my opinion is their best performance to date since I have known these guys. The passion that Chris along with drummer Forest Giulietti and bassist Luis Olguin had during their set was unbelievable. The riffs conveyed this malevolent sound from abysses beyond and the vibe from the music sounded simply unforgiving at times. For their last song they cranked out a very old school grindcore type song where Chris decided to break his guitar strings and let the crowd partake in the execution of the strings. 


    After Sepulchre delivered their killer set, Hellbender went on next to play their style of skull crushing metal. The guys in Hellbender are decent musicians who know how to get the crowd going. I just think a lot of people were feeling the heat inside the venue area and needed a chance to cool off and get some water. Even though the crowd was having a tough time with the temperature, I think the band played a decent set that was well received. They did a solid cover of Mötley Crüe’s, “Live Wire,” to finish off their set with Miguel Martinez from Aftertayst getting up onstage to sing with them.  

    Finally, the band of the night who would be playing songs from their new album hit the stage with an atomic explosion of raw energy. Trecelence tore right into the first song of technical thrash insanity that conjured up a cyclone of moshing metal maniacs. “Into the Gateway,” sounded spectacular and for me it brought back memories when they were guests on my old radio show and we played the demo version of the song. Bassist Zane Covington put on yet another solid performance by offering constant energetic stage presence. Chris Olney Burnett and fellow guitarist Donnie Small shredded their way through scales with tremendous skill and hammered out endless amount of wicked headbanging riffs. Behind the kit Ilan Cabrera pounded his way through each song and provided a strong backbone. Hearing the new material live was a great introduction for the audience and who were hopefully able to pick up a copy of the new album after the set. Overall, Trecelence kept on rocking hard and the crowd kept moving around until the very end. 

    Wrapping up this review, I just want to say that Trecelence should feel really proud about what they accomplished. Also, all the bands deserve major respect for their contributions to this memorable show. Now, I want to point out that the release of this album is a stepping stone for Trecelence. As the band sets their sights on the global metal world, I do believe their dedication, hard work and passion for the music will help achieve more of their goals. To conclude, may Trecelence keep melting metal minds for many years to come and congratulations on the release of, “Justified Atrocities.” Get yourself a copy if can!