Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Minas Anor "Helm’s Deep"




    The writings of J. R. R. Tolkien have been used as the inspiration for numerous recordings. Black metal bands and dungeon synth bands have literally taken the stories of Middle-Earth and created some epic albums. Minas Anor is a dungeon synth act from Ukraine that may not use words to narrate the world of Tolkien, but instead allows listeners to create their own mental imagery based off of the sounds from the band’s 2010 release, “Helm’s Deep.” 

    I have a very selective ear for dungeon synth music. There are bands who I think provide listeners with dynamic and fascinating landscapes of atmospheric brilliance. However, there are some dungeon synth bands that don’t put that much thought into their recordings and the music sounds like cheap video game music that offers no strong emotional appeal. So, where does Minas Anor’s, “Helms Deep,” fall in the world of dungeon synth? 

    Honestly, I am going say right away that this could be my favorite dungeon synth recording of all time. The compositions are cinematic and the music tells a compelling story without words. I find myself closing my eyes and following along to the sounds from the synths and the pounding of the drums. There are moments where you could imagine yourself standing upon the walls of Helm’s Deep as the rain begins to fall and the Uruk-hai army is approaching. 

    The opening piece, “Approaching,” perfectly sets up the album with a synth arrangement and the pounding of epic sounding war like drums. Compared to other dungeon synth projects I have heard, the recording of the instruments does not sound to cheaply done. Following the first piece is, “Storm,” where the sounds of rain create a soothing effect. Midway through the album, “Sunrise,” changes the music’s emotional tone for a short period of time until it reaches the last part, “Departure.” Throughout the entire release you find yourself locked-in as the synth dictates the direction of the album's overall sound. As I said before Minas Anor isn’t just another stereotypical dungeon synth ambient band, because there is just such attention to detail with each sound and how the music progresses until the final note fades away. 

    Minas Anor released, “Helm’s Deep,” in 2010 and I have not heard much about the band since its release. I really hope that this album is not the only recording we get from Minas Anor, but if it is I think the release definitely stands out within the world of dungeon synth and ambient music. For people who enjoy this type of music, I think you will be instantly hooked by Minas Anor’s music.



Listen to the full album below and if you can find a copy... buy it and support the artist!



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Seventh Sun Records Show (February 24, 2017)


Cursed 


  In this life you are faced with choices and sometimes you have to pick and choose which metal show to attend. In San Francisco you had the option of seeing thrash legends Overkill and the technical death metal masters in Nile on the same bill. Your other option was attending the five band show hosted by Seventh Sun Records at the Phoenix Theater. Also, Bret Michaels was performing in Santa Rosa, but no decent human would subject themselves to that hair metal hack’s music.

  When it came to decision time, I decided to go to the Phoenix and support Seventh Sun Records along with the five bands who were playing the show. The bands who performed were: Eye for I, His Name is Robert Paulson, The Bill Decker Band, Cursed and The Ghost Next Door. I liked how this show brought together acts that I had not yet seen before with the exception being Eye for I who I saw last year at the Phoenix.

  Starting the show off was the progressive hard rock/metal band, Eye for I. As of lately, I have noticed these guys working more towards getting their music heard amongst the local scene. Unfortunately, the band’s bass player was unable play due to back problems, which the band announced to the audience during their set. I hear people say sometimes that bass players don’t do much and why have them at all. In this case, I have to say that Eye for I is a band that needs a bass player, especially if you are going to be covering Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast.” I give credit to the three members who performed and worked hard to make up for the absence of that low end presence. I think their original material is creative, but needs a full band to really show what they have to offer. Then again, things come up and I commend Eye for I for showing up and giving the people a solid performance.

Eye for I


  Second on the bill was, His Name is Robert Paulson, a band that writes heavy metal songs about Brad Pitt movies. Compared to Eye for I, His Name is Robert Paulson turned up the aggression and had a heavier and more thrash like sound. The band’s singer delivered some brutal vocals while the two guitar players were feverishly striking chords to follow along to the decimating drum parts. I am not really a Brad Pitt fan, but their idea is definitely unique. I just can’t wait for a band to come out that plays grindcore and writes songs about Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son and they call themselves, “Watch It Sucka!” Also, during their set I noticed these stepping stools the band would clime up on as if they were playing a massive arena show. They looked like they were having fun and the crowd was really getting into the music due to the band’s stage presence.

The His is Robert Paulson 



  Third up was the instrumental trio, The Bill Decker Band. I have to throw this out right away that these guys could play their asses off. Their skill level was very impressive and the songs sounded tight. Even though I usually get tired of hearing instrumental shredding after a long period of time, The Bill Decker Band knew how to create some dynamic arrangements. The guitar shredding by Bill Decker was amazing to watch, but the skillful bass playing and drumming definitely added to the overall sound as well. In the end, they demonstrated what it means to be a skilled musician. You won’t get that at a Beyonce or Lady Gaga performance...instead you have a higher chance of getting an STD.

The Bill Decker Band


  After Bill Decker and his two other amigos finished their set the fourth band, Cursed, started getting ready for their performance of skull crushing heavy metal mayhem. After hearing about them from people and seeing their name numerous times on bills for other Bay Area shows, I had the opportunity to finally see them live. They seemed like passionate metal fanatics who are determined to make their presence known in the metal world. Overall, their sound is very straightforward classic thrash with other brutal heavy metal elements that resonates with fans who want something that is fast and unapologetic. I don’t know if they were able to play as long as they wanted to because of time constraints, but they put together a decent performance. Plus, the band’s singer provided some comedic relief by saying stuff like that they had 36 more songs when in reality they had about two.

  The final band of the evening was, The Ghost Next Door. These guys came all the way from the great city of Oakland. Well, The Ghost Next Door was sort of dealt a rough hand and right from the get go their singer/guitarist let everyone know that he was upset. I understand his frustration with being the last band and noticing that half the venue has disappeared since the start of the show. Yes, bands should encourage their friends to stick around and support all the acts, but you can’t let that get to you. The Ghost Next Door seemed like they had a very atypical sound that I am not going to try and classify. The music varied from hard rock to heavy metal, which allowed for them to craft very progressive and diverse sounding pieces. The band’s singer/guitarist also said he was sick and I could tell during certain vocal parts, but he soldiered on through each song. Again, I feel bad about the crowd leaving early, but you can't let that get to you when you still have people there watching you.

The Ghost Next Door


  How do I wrap this concert review up? One recommendation is...people...stick around if you can for the entire show! That behavior is extremely obnoxious. Next recommendation is about time management...bands should know how long to perform and the stage manager should be keeping a close eye on that too. Aside from my couple recommendations, it was a solid show for the most part and there are definitely some talented bands in Northern Californian who I recommend people check out. I truly give credit to all the bands who preformed, especially the ones who were dealing with illness, or had a member for the time being on the disabled list. Looking forward, Seventh Sun Records is going to hopefully build off this experience and put together another kick ass metal show for all the die hard headbanging fanatics.



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Antifa Strikes Again: Marduk's Show in Oakland Shutdown




  When I wake up in the morning, I wake up with the hope that black metal bands can play concerts without having to worry about dealing with Antifa, or any other extremist group who thinks they are fighting for some supposed glorious cause. Unfortunately, I wake up and see that once again these ignorant humanoids have forced the cancellation of yet another black metal concert based off of bogus claims.

  Marduk was supposed to play in Oakland, CA at the Oakland Metro Saturday February, 18th along with Incantation and Svart Crown. However, due to safety concerns the show was canceled. The Metro issued a statement explaining the reason for the cancellation and stated how they were informed by the Oakland Police that canceling the show would be highly recommended, especially after what happened in Berkeley with the Milo event. I won’t blame the Metro for the cancellation, as they were making a decision based off of a recommendation from the Oakland Police Department. Also, I would not want the Metro to be besieged like the University of Berkeley campus. I know people who work at the Metro and I would not want their place of business being potentially destroyed.

  As it should come as no surprise, Antifa is the main driving force behind this cancellation and the group who deserves all the blame. The group Anti-Fascist Action Bay Area posted a bogus list of reasons why the Marduk should not be allowed to play on their Facebook Page. The post I believe has been taken down, but for the most part they claim Marduk is a black metal band with, “known white supremacist ties from Sweden that profits off of glorifying Nazi imagery and songs about Nazi SS officers and anti-semitism” (Anti-Fascist Action Bay Area).

  Overall, they used really weak evidence to make the case that Marduk is a white supremacist band that promotes Nazism. If anyone took the time to actually look at the band’s history and past interviews, they would find that Marduk has never advocated for the mass genocide of any race. Marduk’s lyrical themes deal with World War Two, so there have been songs written about Nazis, because...Nazis were involved in World War Two! Writing songs about the history of the Third Reich is not enough evidence to justify the claim that these guys go around glorifying Nazism. I think certain people forget World War Two history is a fascinating subject and can be explored further in extreme music. I mean, Slayer’s, “Angel of Death,” is not advocating for another Holocaust. Should Antifa call for the cancellation of Slayer shows since Slayer writes songs referencing Nazi history?

  Another point I saw brought up against Marduk is that their guitarist Morgan "Evil" Steinmeyer H√•kansson knew Varg Vikernes back in the day. Since Varg has made some anti-semitic remarks in the past that means by association that Morgan “Evil” is anti-semitic. Yes, in their sick and twisted minds having past association with someone automatically makes you connected to that person’s exact ideology. Seriously, I can’t understand their logic and will just leave it at that!

  At the end of the day I can only repeat to everyone that Antifa is creating a fascist environment based off of extremely weak claims. What world do we live in where people can go around using fear and lies as a tool to silence people? Where have we seen this before? Nazi Germany? Well, to those Anti-Fascists who are celebrating the cancellation of the Marduk show, congratulations as you are now on the path to actual fascism...you hypocrites. One day hopefully more people will see them for who they really are... One day we might be able to go to our black metal concerts without the fear of them being canceled... One day...



Here is an article from Metal Injection that gives some good info on what happened and also served as a basis for my rant. It also contains the statements by the Oakland Metro and Oakland Police:

http://www.metalinjection.net/latest-news/marduks-show-in-oakland-got-cancelled-because-people-think-theyre-nazis-were-pretty-sure-theyre-not

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Interview: Death of Kings





After reviewing their new 7” single, “Hell Comes to Life,” which is expected to be released in late March through Boris Records, I decided to come up with some questions for the Atlanta based thrash metal maniacs in Death of Kings. Two of the members, Matt Kilpatrick (Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals) and Scott Price (Bass / Backing Vocals), were kind enough to answer these questions that give more insight into the band's history and upcoming releases. Their enthusiasm for heavy metal music is undeniable and they are definitely an act to keep an eye out for in the world of metal.

Hi Matt and Scott! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about Death of Kings and what you guys have in the works for this year. 2017 is looking to be a busy year for the band.

Matt: Our pleasure, man. We’ve got a lot coming this year. This band has been at it for more than seven years and after numerous line-up changes, these guys are ready to show the metal world what they’ve been stewing on for so long.

Scott: With a single and a full length coming out, this is the year we’ve been working toward for a long time. The anticipation is killing me!

To begin, you guys have a new 7” single, “Hell Comes to Life,” that will be released March 31st through Boris Records. How excited are you about this release and what are your thoughts on the two songs featured on it? One of the songs is a killer cover of, “Hell Patrol,” by Judas Priest and I wanted to know what made you guys decide to choose that song in particular?

Scott: I was pushing for it for a long time. Painkiller has always been my favorite Judas Priest album. For so long I was dying to hear our vocalist/guitarist, Matt Matson, sing it. I’m really excited – it’s the first official release to feature Matt Kilpatrick, and we’ve been waiting to drop the song Hell Comes to Life since not long after we released the Knifehammer single in 2013.

Matt: We’re all really excited about this release. It’s the band’s first official release since the Knifehammer 7” and we’re extremely stoked on how this one sounds. Raheem Amlani (of Withered) of Orange Peel Studios really delivered on engineering these two songs, and Damian Herring (of Horrendous) mastered the tracks to perfection. When I was first thinking about joining the band in early 2015, our drummer, Amos, mentioned covering Priest’s “Hell Patrol” and I think that made me realize I was meant to play with these guys. That’s always been one of my top Priest songs, and I never thought I’d have the chance to play it with such rad dudes.



After the single is released I read that you have an album in the works that is expected to come out later this year. Can you maybe tell readers a bit more about when the full-length will be released? Also, how would you compare the new material to Death of King’s older material?

Scott: Having Knifehammer on the record really helps the transition from the old material to the new material. That song was really a turning point in our sound – and it set us down the path that lead to this album. Compared to the band’s previous efforts, this full-length is a complete work – every one really stepped up their game to bring a crushing final product.

Matt: The full length is scheduled for an early June release. The new material is far more developed, destructive, and vicious than previous efforts. The band has gone through its fair share of line-up’s before my time, and I think the band has really cemented their identity with the songwriting it’s been doing since the last single in 2013.

The band has been around since 2009, however, Matt joined later on from what I read in the bio. Matt, how did you come to join Death of Kings? Also, I know that you play in another awesome brutal band called, Cemetery Filth, so I wanted to know what it’s like balancing the work between two bands?

Scott: THIS IS NOT ABOUT SCOTT. NEXT QUESTION.

Matt: Haha… I didn’t join Death of Kings officially until early 2015. I temporarily left Cemetery Filth in late December on 2014, and moved back to my hometown of Atlanta. Death of Kings drum lord, Amos, knew me from booking a couple of Filth shows, and asked if I was interested in joining DoK. Based off my prior knowledge of Death of Kings, I wasn’t sure if my riffing style would work with the band – but he showed me some secret demos of some new songs that really turned my head. I was extremely excited to finally play in a band with songs in the classic thrash vein. I grew up on 80’s thrash metal and slowly developed into a death metal guy. Being able to play in a band that plays the old thrash style in such a new and refreshing way really fulfilled a lot of dreams I had as a teen in Atlanta, back before the metal scene had fully re-developed.
Balancing work between the two bands can be difficult – but we all make it work. The Filth guys still live up in Northern Tennessee, so I’m about 5 hours from them. It sucks, but we make it work – and Amos’ promotion company, A.Rippin Production, still treats us as Atlanta-locals – so we’ve gotten a lot of opportunities through him that we’re eternally grateful for (thanks man!) Both bands are on different schedules, though. I’m very lucky in that respect.
We all have had more than one project going at once...  Our vocalist/lead guitarist, Matt Matson, recently re-started an old hardcore band (and underground legends), The Despised; Amos has been full-force with Death of Kings while in grind destructors, Spewtilator, new wave vet’s, Lust, and until recently, Magoo’s Heroes, as well as some other fun new projects; and Scott’s been working with a local band called Air Wolves. When you’re into music – you make time for it. If you don’t have the time for it, well…You usually start looking for a new job.

Death of Kings has shared the stage with some very influential and iconic metal bands over the years. Is there a concert that stands out, or do you have a few memorable performances?

Scott: Dude, D.R.I. were the coolest dudes. We shared a few beers and partied down in their mini-van listening to other projects they had in the works. They put on a great set for about an hour and a half. Playing with Ghoul, Skeletonwtich, and Black Anvil was also a dream line-up for me. They were all great guys and we raged – destroying the place.

Matt: Though it was a year or more after Scott’s favorite show with Ghoul; opening for them was a dream come true. Playing with Horrendous, All Hell, Night Magic (former members of Hour of 13) and so many others at Mac Rock Festival last year was also an incredible experience. Opening for the legends VOIVOD and our bro’s in Vektor was a show I’ll never forget...there’s just so many. It’s so fun to be a part of Death of Kings because they’re an amazing live band – and it’s an endless party at their shows.

Sort of jumping back to the new music and the songwriting process in general, how does the band go about writing songs? Do you all sort of pitch in, or does one person come up with something and then you work together on it from there?

Scott: Matson usually comes in with some riffs and we jam it out from there. Our drummer, Amos, helps us figure out timing and arrangements. Matt and I throw in riffs as the song progresses. Then we just put it all into a Thrash Compacter.

Matt and Scott


Keeping with songwriting as a theme, what do you think makes for a great thrash/heavy metal song? What elements do you like to hear and maybe offer some examples from bands who may have influenced you?

Scott: It’s all about the chug’s (fast or slow), over-the-top solo’s, and crushing change-up’s. Riffs with a little dose of hardcore and crossover. In regards to bands who influence us: Motorhead, Slayer, Megadeth, Bad Brains, DRI, Suicidal Tendencies, Exodus, Cro-Mags, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest – throw all of those together and you get Death of Kings.

Matt: These guys have been playing music for years – Matson and Amos for around two decades. They were punks then (and may still identify that way)…but that raw, spiteful energy flows through in the forms of blood-hungry riffing and ripping drumming. When it comes to excellent thrash and heavy metal songs, we’re all about writing parts that make you want to break your neck to – riffs that release all of your frustration’s with the world.

When the full-length album is released do you plan to go on tour? If so, are you heading out West? I am sure the Bay Area thrash metal maniacs would be ready for some of your headbanging riffs of hellish nature.

Scott: We’ve got a short run planned for the single release, and Amos is vigilantly working on planning a tour for the early summer when the record is released.

Matt: We’ve got plans to do a Northeast circuit as soon as the record drops in June – and we hope to head out West and hit the Pacific coast either late this year, or Spring of 2018. We’ve got a lot of energy built up behind this album and have some awesome new ideas formulating for what’s next – so you’ll be sure to know the reckoning of Death of Kings.

Thanks again for doing this interview and can’t wait for more face melting riffs of thrash insanity from Death of Kings! Keep up the good work and I am glad to know that there are young bands enthusiastically carrying the flag for heavy metal!

Scott: Horns and Hails!

Matt: Many thanks and hails as always, Robert! Hopefully we can get out to the Bay Area and party with you soon!


Follow Death of Kings on Facebook by clicking on the link below:
https://www.facebook.com/deathofkingsmetal/

Friday, February 10, 2017

Petrification "Summon Horrendous Destruction"




    Creeping from the depths of the malevolent abyss, Petrification unleashes a devastating assault of gruesome sounding terror with, “Summon Horrendous Destruction.” The four songs featured on the Portland, OR based band’s debut demo, demonstrates vicious songwriting skills and conveys that corpse ripping old school death metal sound.

    Being released through one of my favorite labels, Sentient Ruin, the demo simply captures everything that I enjoy about old school death metal. Not only do you hear influences from Swedish and Finnish death metal bands, but I also find the band’s sound contains British death metal influences like Bolt Thrower and Benediction. The abysmal doom like atmospheres along with the crushing riffs of unforgiving distorted carnage present some goliath sounding cuts of extreme music.

    Petrification knows how to create impactful songs and you hear it on each one of the four tracks. The opening song, “Summon Horrendous Destruction,” totally consumes you as if you were slowly drowning in a sea of turbulent distorted waves. The band’s singer provides these haunting old school death metal growls and his vocals compliment the song’s massive fear inducing atmosphere. Track number two, “Stagnation of Transmigration,” feverishly tears through some monstrous riffs of extreme aggression. Also, the band’s drummer sounds really good on the release and I like how the drums were recorded. The sound from his drum kit injects great ferocity into the music’s overall presentation, so the person who mixed the drums deserves some major credit.


    The last couple tracks, “The Headless One” and “Desecrators of Conscious Entropy,” maintain that brutal and unforgiving sound that you heard on the first two songs. There is consistency yet, each song offers its own unique delivery of musical destruction. Yet again the musicians prove they know how to play their instruments, which allows for tight sounding tracks that do not come across as painfully dual.

    Petrification’s, “Summon Horrendous Destruction,” is a great introduction release and one that has me wanting more from this band. I think fans looking for solid old school sounding death metal music need to check out Petrification right away. Yes, there are numerous bands coming out calling themselves death metal these days, but there are few who can truly capture the essence and horrifying nature of old school death metal like what Petrifaction did on this demo.


Petrification "Summon Horrendous Destruction" :




Petrification Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/petrificationdm/

Sentient Ruin Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/SentientRuin/

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Death of Kings "Hell Comes to Life"




    Summoning the power from an apocalyptic motorcycle riding demon from the netherworld, Atlanta based metal maniacs, Death of Kings, looks to raise some metal hell with the release of their new EP, “Hell Comes to Life.”

    Death of Kings is an act combining their love of thrash and classic heavy metal music to create songs that I know will resonate with those listeners who desire furious riffs and face melting screams of epic metal proportions. The band has been around since 2009 and in that time has shared the stage with numerous notable metal acts such as DRI, Skeletonwitch, Voivod and many more. After self-releasing their first couple EPs the band teamed with Boris Records in 2013 to release the 7” single, “Knifehammer.” Once again the band is working with Boris Records for the release of this new EP, which will be available March 31st. Plus, a full-length from Death of Kings is expected to come out later this year.

    Before being sent this EP for review, I had heard of Death of Kings and was aware of their presence within the Atlanta metal scene. However, after listening to the two songs featured on the upcoming EP, I have an even greater understanding of what these guys have to offer and are capable of writing. Their old-school thrash metal meets traditional heavy metal style is extremely profound. Although, there are plenty of acts playing this type of music, Death of Kings displays tremendous passion for the music they write and you can really hear that in their songs.



    The first song which is the title of the EP, “Hell Comes to Life,” is a blazing track of thrash metal aggression. You hear influences from Exodus, Testament and DRI throughout the song, but done in a creative and distinct manner. I especially like the vocals which provide such an impact to the instrumental parts and they really do compliment the song’s overall sound. Also, one cannot leave out the maniacal shredding abilities during the guitar solo. The second song is a supercharged cover of Judas Priest’s, “Hell Patrol.” Death of Kings does a solid job paying tribute to Judas Priest and the song they picked happens to be from one of my favorite Priest albums.

    Overall, Death of Kings did exactly what a band is supposed to do when releasing an EP, and that is to build-up anticipation for future releases. I am definitely going to be looking forward to their full-length album when it comes out. I can’t wait to hear more destructive metal sounding riffs of madness, because these guys seem to know the right balance between technicality and also making the music sound tight. I highly recommend you check them out if you are a fan of thrash and classic heavy metal. Remember... Death of Kings is coming people...and Hell’s coming with them!


Death of Kings Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/deathofkingsmetal/

Boris Records FacebooK:
https://www.facebook.com/borisrecordsatl/