23 February, 2014

Aenaon: Der Müde Tod – new video & Extance – new album

(So here we are, the last day of 2014 Winter Olympic Games: truth be told, following the Games on mostly muted TV set – since some – not all! - of our here commentators' and winter sports experts' expertise starts and ends with ice cubes in their drinks – is quite tiring, but thankfully ICED EARTH (their Transformers headgear-wearing soundman including) refilled the batteries with their performance yesterday.)

AENAON's ‘Der Müde Tod’, “the tired death” - as far as I know, comes off the Greek progressive black metallers' second full-length album ‘Extance’, issued through Code666 Records/Aural Music on January the 20th, 2014. The tune, its video created by Sotiris Benekos, features guest vocals by FUNERAL and IN VAIN's Sindre Nedland and saxophone by Orestis Zirinis. ‘Extance’ was recorded at Crown Studio in Greece, mixed by AENAON and their guitarist Achilleas C., mastered by Tom Kvalsvoll at Strype Audio in Oslo, Norway, while its art was created by Polish artist Lukasz Wodynski. Purchase this interesting album here (AENAON's store), on iTunes or through Amazon:

According to the official bio, AENAON was born in 2005, somewhere in the central Greece – as an idea. If I deciphered the given information properly, that  idea occurred to bassist Thyragon and guitarist Draugen. When vocalist Astrous and drummer Vanghmar comprehended that idea during the year that followed, the quartet started to work on materialising it. Achilleas C. joined the band as second guitarist in 2007 for a brief period of time and as Dagwn was brought in as his replacement, AENAON signed with the Canadian Bleak Art Records through which they released an EP entitled ‘Phenomenon’ in 2009:

Alas, Draugen and Vanghmar left the group by the end of that year and Achilleas C. was once again drafted as guitarist. A split 7” with Romanian band SATANOCHIO came out in 2010 on Floga Records/Orkestral Promenade Productions, before AENAON signed with Code666 which was to release their first proper album:

‘Cendres Et Sang’ followed in 2011 through Code666 Records, a sublabel of Aural Music. The album was recorded at Crown Studio in Greece, produced and mixed by Achilleas C. and Astrous, engineered by Pantelis Kalogiros and Stratos Kountouras, and mastered by Tom Kvalsvoll. The album featured guest appearances by vocalists Ørjan “V'gandr” Nordvik (of HELHEIM and AETERNUS fame) and DAKRYA's Thomais Chatzigianni, as well as contributions by pianists Vasilis Agiomyrgianakis and Pantelis Kalogiros and saxophonist Christos Agouridakis:

AENAON features: Astrous – vocals, Achilleas C. – guitar, Anax (J.M) – guitars, Thyragon – guitar and Nycriz – drums


20 February, 2014

Chrome Division: Lady Of Perpetual Sorrow – new video

(Norwegians started to train for Winter Olympics right after the huge ice shelf of the last ice age first melted (between 11,000 and 8,000 BC), and that’s why they top the Sochi 2014 medals table with 21 medals in total (10 gold, 4 silver and 7 bronze). And do remember, Norway is a country of a little above 5 million inhabitants – 134 of those compete in the current Olympics). CHROME DIVISION of course know the colour of their metal; this lovely although sad tune, ‘Lady Of Perpetual Sorrow’, comes off their fourth album ‘Infernal Rock Eternal’, issued through Nuclear Blast Records in January 2014. On it, Shagrath (born Stian Tomt Thoresen/of DIMMU BORGIR fame) and his merry men (Shady Blue, Damage Karlsen, Ogee Ferrari and Tony White) bring shamelessly back the memories of those awful 1980s, calling this travesty “their different side” and “their love for dirty rock and roll” (and I’m still not kidding about the 80s). CHROME DIVISION's ‘Infernal Rock Eternal’ awaits your order here (Nuclear Blast store), on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon/Amazon MP3 etc.

“For some mysterious reason (maybe long winter boredom), Scandinavians find time to start more bands - full-time and side-project - in any given week than the rest of the planet's denizens will manage in a lifetime,” writes Eduardo Rivadavia (AllMusic Guide). It actually started in the summer of 2004 for CHROME DIVISION, with DIMMU BORGIR's vocalist Shagrath and then-bassist Nagash. After enlisting bassist Björn Luna (ASHES TO ASHES), vocalist Eddie Guz (THE CARBURETORS), lead guitarist Ricky Black and after Nagash opted to bow out of the band and was replaced with drummer Tony White (“From this point it was evident that CHROME DIVISION was to be more than just a side project. From now on they were like a force, spawning stripped down groovy rock'n'roll, with a primitive attitude, also labeled as “doomsday rock'n'roll,” claims the band's official bio), out came debut album entitled ‘Doomsday Rock 'n Roll’. This 2006 Nuclear Blast release was commented by already mentioned music critic as follows:
“It must be said that the album's 12 gas-guzzling hard rock anthems are pulled off with astonishing confidence and what seems like surprising ease. Maybe it’s the freshness of working within such purely hard rock idioms that help these normally uptight black metal musicians rid the music of its inherent clichés.” [More here]
The album reached position number 31 on the Norwegian Albums Chart: 

“After a while Shagrath rejoined the CHROME guys,” reads on the band's bio, “exhausted [from] touring in the name of Satan, hungry for more rubber-smelling rock. It was time to create another CHROME album.” And accordingly, the second album, ‘Booze, Broads And Beelzebub’, followed in 2008 which Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic, dutifully reviewed:
“Don’t make the mistake of letting a few quick listens convince you to miss-categorize CHROME DIVISION as some outdated, Scandinavian chapter of L.A. GUNS, because buried beneath the relative simplicity of all these songs can be found frequent little reminders of DIMMU BORGIR's usual songwriting complexity - be they subtle minor chords or unforeseen dynamic shifts in the arrangements - that help to keep things interesting.” [More here:]

The Norwegian ambassadors of decadence released their third album, ‘3rd Round Knockout’, in 2011. Marcus Jervis, About.com, listened and learned the following:
“Both musically and lyrically, there is little deviation from the formula; simply a stream of snotty riffs and driving rock rhythms providing the backbeat to tales of heroic drinking, back street brawls and endless sexual conquests. Even a punked-up version of the Johnny Cash classic ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ is given similar treatment, proving that these boys take no prisoners.” [More here:]

CHROME DIVISION features: Shady Blue – vocals, Shagrath - guitar and backing vocals, Damage Karlsen - lead guitar and backing vocals, Ogee Ferrari – bass and backing vocals and Tony White – drums 



19 February, 2014

Adrenaline Mob: Men Of Honor – new album


ADRENALINE MOB, also known as Uomini D’Onore, are back with new album called ‘Men Of Honor’, albeit without drummer Mike Portnoy (who is currently busy drumming for THE WINERY DOGS, one of his numerous projects). First album ADRENALINE MOB recorded with the new (albeit veteran) drummer TWISTED SISTER's A. J. Pero, was produced by vocalist Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X) and shred extraordinaire/guitarist Mike Orlando at Orlando's Sonic Stomp Studios. Their first worldwide release on Century Media Records (Elm City Music covered the band's North American distribution until now), also featuring DISTURBED's bassist John Moyer, was released on February the 18th, 2014 in North America and is due on February the 24th in Europe. The band feel strongly about themselves (“Regardless of what’s changed, we are men of honor, and we will honor this entity until we die. We’re tight like brothers. This is a musical gang. The message is to stand strong with ADRENALINE MOB.”), and they want you to feel strongly about their new record (“I want everyone who listens to this to feel psyched,” conveyed Orlando, “I think it’s going to leave everybody with a variety of emotions, and there’s nothing better than getting a reaction.”). ‘Men Of Honor’ awaits your order here (CM Distro USA) and your pre-order here (CM Distro Europe), on iTunes, Amazon etc:
“The album blows open the doors of the arena with a massive show-starter intro, before ADRENALINE MOB does what its namesake suggests and engages in criminality… However, they do it with ball-outs, in-your-grill energy and oomph. The intro turns into ‘The Mob Is Back’, which is the most testosterone infused, groove and knuckle NICKELBACK song never recorded. Yes, I said it. Metal elitists can kiss my distortion pedal. … On and on the record goes with one air-drum frenzy, riff-fueled, meat and potatoes heavy rock and roll track after another. It is what one would expect from an elite group like ADRENALINE MOB. Listening to ‘Men Of Honor’ there is a sense of putting on your favorite classic band T-shirt and broken-in jeans: There may not be much new here, but what you get is fulfilling and makes you remember what you love about hard rock. The album goes from pedal-down metal to emotive and poignant moments flawlessly, and it flows with seamless continuity and soaring individual performances. In short, ‘Men Of Honor’ kills it!” [Examiner's Rustyn Rose – more here]

Although officially founded in 2011 in New York, USA, according to some reports singer Russell Allen and drum wizard Mike Portnoy knew that they would eventually work together ever since Portnoy had handpicked SYMPHONY X to play on MEGADETH's “Gigantour” in 2005. Next, Portnoy insisted SYMPHONY X tour Europe with DREAM THEATER in 2007:
“In the back of my mind, I always knew I’d love to be in a rock band with Portnoy because neither of us had done that previously,” [revealed Allen, apparently with a smile] “I watched DREAM THEATER every night, and I thought, “This guy is a rock drummer in a prog band!” He never failed to steal the show, and his energy was infectious. I was inspired by it.” [Allegedly, Portnoy was also watching Allen closely while they were on the road:] “Doing something together was inevitable.” [Portnoy somberly added:] “This is a new band with a new sound and a new beginning. Forget what everyone has done in the past. I’ll cherish and look back on my 25 years in DREAM THEATER with great pride, but it’s time for me to begin this next chapter.”
(And quite a few next chapters have begun for Portnoy since - but let us return to the matter at hand:) With the addition of guitarists Mike Orlando and Rich Ward (STUCK MOJO) and bassist Paul DiLeo (FOZZY), the group released their self-titled EP in 2011, followed by their debut album titled ‘Omertá’, which was released in 2012 through Century Media Records/Elm City Music. The 11 “bruising hard rock anthems” featured on the album landed position number 62 on the Billboard Top 200, selling over 6600 copies its first week.‘Covertà’, the follow-up EP to ‘Omertà’ came next in March 2013, turned out to be the last ADRENALINE MOB recording with rhythm guitarist Rich Ward and bass player Paul Di Leo, as well as with founding member drummer Mike Portnoy, all of whom left the band due to scheduling conflicts with their other bands. ‘Covertà’ peaked on Billboard Top 200 at position number 173.

ADRENALINE MOB features: Russell Allen - vocals, Mike Orlando - guitar, John Moyer – bass and A.J. Pero – drums

Kill Devil Hill: Leave It All Behind – new video

(Excuse me, yes, but Tina Maze (Slovenia: population 2 million approx / 7 current Winter Olympics medals in total) yesterday, Ted Ligety (USA: population 317 million approx / 21 current Winter Olympics medals in total), Patrizia Kummer (Switzerland: population 8 million approx / 10 current Winter Olympics medals in total) and Vic Wild (Russian Federation: population 143 million approx / 21 current Winter Olympics medals in total) today, surely killed the devil out of that hill.) ‘Leave It All Behind’ comes off KILL DEVIL HILL (Kill Devil Hills is an actual, existing town in North Carolina, USA, renowned for its pirating past (occurring around Kill Devil rum) and the Wright brothers' first successful powered flights) second studio album ‘Revolution Rise’, out since October 2013 on Century Media Records and which, I swear, did not purposely ignore. KILL DEVIL HILL, featuring such heavyweights as drummer Vinny Appice (former BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN & HELL, DIO etc), bassist Rex Brown (former PANTERA, DOWN), guitarist Mark Zavon (former W.A.S.P.) and vocalist Jason “Dewey” Bragg (former PISSING RAZORS), produced ‘Revolution Rise’ along with Jeff Pilson. The album was mixed by Jay Ruston, and its art created by Sam Shearon. It sold around 2,150 copies in the USA in its first week of release and will sell much more internationally, if you buy ‘Revolution Rise’ here (CM Distro USA), here (the band's store), on iTunes or via Amazon.

Formed in 2011 in Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina by Appice, Brown, Zavon and Bragg, KILL DEVIL HILL released the supergroup's debut, self-titled album in 2012 through SPV/Steamhammer:
“Yes sir, some tasty metal is served. … That’s because KILL DEVIL HILL is not an album that requires detailed analysis to appreciate. Its sole mission seems to be one based in listener appreciation for no-frills metal/rock that grooves and hooks with just enough grit to maintain street-cred with the perpetual naysayers. Mission accomplished,” [went straight to the point Scott Alisoglu, Blabbermouth – more here:]

KILL DEVIL HILL features: Vinny Appice – drums, Rex Brown – bass, Mark Zavon – guitar, Jason “Dewey” Bragg – vocals 


18 February, 2014

Full Album Stream: Wolves Like Us: Black Soul Choir – new album


This just in: visit Metal Hammer here and listen to the full new WOLVES LIKE US album ‘Black Soul Choir’. Metal Hammer promises WLU's “metallic, punked-up anthems will get your week off to a cracker”, but you better check it out first yourselves before you order your own copy here (Prosthetic Records store), since Metal Hammer reads kind of partisan on the matter, calling WOLVES LIKE US “one of their very favouritest new bands”. Anyhow, ‘Black Soul Choir’ will be issued through Prosthetic Records on February the 24th, 2014 in Europe (except in Germany where it’s due on February the 28th) and on March the 4th in North America. Produced at the Propeller Studios in Oslo with Mike Hartung, ‘Black Soul Choir’ is the follow-up to the band's acclaimed 2011 debut album ‘Late Love’, which the band supported with no less than five tours (150 shows) and fifteen festivals: “We are extremely proud and happy with the record, and can’t wait for people to hear it and [for us] to play these songs in front of an audience. It’s been a long trek making these traps of sonic feedback for you to enjoy. We hope you like it,” said vocalist and guitarist Lars Kristensen. ‘Black Soul Choir’s art was created by Matt Ryan:

Singer and guitarist Lars Kristensen, guitarist Espen Helvig, drummer (and cymbalist) Jonas Thire and bearded bassist Toy Kjeldaas, influenced by artists such as QUICKSAND, HUSKER DU, SWERVEDRIVER and AFGAN WINGS, formed WOLVES LIKE US in 2010 in Oslo, Norway in order to “make the urgent, powerful new music they love”. The group had signed with Prosthetic Records in early 2011 and began recording ‘Late Love’ in Oslo with Ruben Willem at Haust / Caliban Studios. ‘Late Love’, depicted as “solid, moving album” by Greg Pratt, Revolver, followed in June 2011 in Europe and in September of that year in North America:

WOLVES LIKE US features: Lars Kristensen – vocals and guitar, Espen Helvig – guitars, Jonas Thire – drums and Toy Kjeldaas – bass

Full Album Stream: Artificial Brain: Labyrinth Constellation – new album


We are not talking Jupiter or Saturn here, we’re talking “a planet which walks in a swarm of suspended moons that burns itself upon the sun to build immunity to radiation as well as gorges itself on poisonous light and colon spasm its roots unto the sediment”. We are also talking an album that will affect your day. Which way – it depends on your predispositions. Therefore you better steel yourselves before you delve into ARTIFICIAL BRAIN's ‘Labyrinth Constellation’. Out today, February 18th, 2014, on Profound Lore Records, the agonising debut LP featuring the talents (and ails) of REVOCATION's Dan Gargiulo on guitar, Keith Abrami on drums, Samuel Smith on bass, Jon Locastro on guitar and Will (Smith) on vocals, awaits your order here (Profound Lore store) and on BandCamp here. ‘Labyrinth Constellation’ was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Colin Marston (of GORGUTS, KRALLICE and DYSRHYTHMIA fame) in his Thousand Caves studio, while its art was concocted by Paolo Girardi. Activated in 2009 in “fucking space”, momentarily acting out from Long Island, New York, this is, as already mentioned, ARTIFICAL BRAIN's debut full-length album, although they have already butchered cosmic giants in 2013 on ‘Butchering Cosmic Giants’ EP. But let us concentrate for a moment on what MetalSucks' Dave Mustein (who “enjoys overanalyzing, overthinking, and meddling with your heads”) thinks about it:
“It’s post-death metal, if you will. … The most instantly noticeable quality of ‘Labyrinth Constellation’ is its evocative power, inspiring vivid images and adjectives alike. This means that the band's space themes aren’t lost in gimmickry à la RINGS OF SATURN; ARTIFICIAL BRAIN are fully aware that there’s more to “space” than randomness, dissonance, and abrupt rhythmic shifts. … It’s a kind of swirling, mesmeric force, exemplified in tracks like ‘Orbital Gait’, whose recursive ellipses seem to fling us out of our time and space and through a portal to dimension 5612. This leads to the development of fuzzy but widely diverse atmospheres, resplendent with contrasting emotional premises. … Though despite its sonic variance and meticulous songwriting, ‘Labyrinth Constellation’ doesn’t entirely fulfill its name. A constellation is a gestalt, a composite, greater than the sum of its individual stars; ‘Labyrinth Constellation’, were it a true constellation, would be pretty difficult to recognize as a single amalgamated entity,” [heh… and you will find much more here:]

ARTIFICIAL BRAIN features: Dan Gargiulo - guitar, Keith Abrami - drums, Samuel Smith - bass, Jon Locastro - guitar and Will - vocals

17 February, 2014

Full Album Stream: Sahg: Delusions Of Grandeur – new album


Well, it is a new album (as far as I’m concerned and) as far as Americans are concerned, since SAHG's fourth LP will grace their stores from tomorrow, February the 18th, 2014, on, courtesy Metal Blade Records. ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ – a fine, fine album - just listen to it below – became available in Europe in October 2013, apparently, through Indie Recordings. “Nothing less than 48 minutes of impeccable musicianship and flawless delivery”, the album was recorded live at Solslottet Studios/Castle Of The Sun with producer Iver Sandøy. SAHG's “fourth entry in the annals of wickedness, a doom-infused, heavy rock fireball that’s set to torch speakers around the globe”, as put by Metal Blade, was welcomed with open arms by European press. For example, Rock Hard Greece described it as “an epic culmination of artistic maturity, intelligence and inspirational prog melodies”, and France's Metalchroniques advised: “Try the trip, you will not be disappointed”. So, try the trip after you’ve read the instructions provided by the label, and then order your own copy of ‘Delusions Of Grandeur’ here (Metal Blade store), here (Indie Recordings store – top right corner), on iTunes, Spotify etc:
“Inspired by imagery from Stanley Kubrick's “2001: A Space Odyssey”, Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece “Metropolis”, the eerie aesthetics of sci-fi author Sean Williams' “Astropolis” quadrilogy, and Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgård's explosive autobiography, “My Struggle” [yes, “Min Kamp”], there’s no denying the depth of thought as well as musicianship that underlies SAHG's fourth, most ambitious release. And from the breathtaking, cinematic dynamics opening salvo ‘Slip Off The Edge Of The Universe’ to the thundering muscularity of ‘Firechild’ and the utterly cosmic, 11-minute sojourn of ‘Sleeper's Gate To The Galaxy’, this is the stuff landmarks are made of. Get involved:”

Active since 2004, Bergen, Norway-based SAHG quickly impressed Swedish Regain Records who signed the band on strength of just a few demos; apparently “filling the void in the Norwegian metal fauna”, SAHG's debut album, counting vocalist and guitarist Olav Iversen (MANNGARD), drummer Kvitrafn (WARDRUNA), bassist King/Tom Cato Visnes (GOD SEED, OV HELL etc) and guitarist Thomas Tofthagen (AUDREY HORNE), was a success in Norway where it entered charts at number 31, as well as abroad. Their 2006 debut, ‘Sahg I’, was praised by critics and fans alike, receiving a perfect 10/10 from Germany's Rock Hard and a 8/10 rating from Metal Hammer UK. Shortly after, drummer Kvitrafn announced his departure from the band and was replaced with Tor Bjarne Bjelland. Classic Rock magazine hailed SAHG's sophomore album, 2008's ‘Sagh II’, as one which “teeters on the edge of a modern day classic”. With new drummer, Thomas Lönnheim, the group recorded ‘Sahg III’ which was released in 2010 through Indie Recordings:
“Now, given SAHG's roots in the Norwegian black metal movement and the unfair expectancies imposed upon its former practitioners (i.e. thou shalt not, under any circumstance, be likable), it’s entirely possible that a few fans will perceive these new heights of compositional maturity and widespread appeal as demystifying and even downright offensive to some long-abandoned cause. But, one can always hope that those goblins gave up searching for the one ring long ago, and will thus leave SAHG alone to grow and prosper in the real world,” [commented Eduardo Rivadavia – more here]
SAHG features: Olav Iversen - vocals and guitar, Thomas Tofthagen – guitar, Tony Vetaas - bass and vocals and Thomas Lønnheim – drums and percussion

Flotsam And Jetsam: No Place for Disgrace – 2014 – new/rerecorded album


American classical thrash/speed metal legends, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, had listened to their fans' requests, searched for the original master-tapes of their second album 1988's ‘No Place For Disgrace’ in order to re-release it, had eventually abandoned their quest and instead:
“decided to re-record the album and use some of today's technologies to recreate it. The aim was not really to change but to enhance it with the opportunity with the use of new tools. A lot of the die hards are really nervous about it but I think after the final result they will embrace it. The sound quality is 100% better and more refined!”
Since one should not argue with the masters of their craft, check out the rerecorded ‘P.A.A.B’ below and get yourselves a copy of ‘No Place For Disgrace – 2014’ here (Metal Blade shop), from iTunes or from wherever you usually get your music. ‘No Place For Disgrace – 2014’ was issued through Metal Blade Records on February the 14th, 2014 in Europe, on the 17th in the UK, and will become available in North America on the 18th (on March the 4th, 2014 as a CD):

Founded in 1981 by drummer Kelly David Smith and guitarists Mark Vazquez and Kevin Horton in Phoenix, Arizona, later on joined by bassist Jason Newsted (who just happened to be stuck in Phoenix and not belonging to any band at the time) and vocalist Eric “AK” Knutson, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM used to be known as “Paradox”, “Dredlox” and “The Dogz”, before adopting the name that stuck. In 1986 they recorded their debut album ‘Doomsday For The Deceiver” with producer and Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel, which was described as “a little rough in the production department”, “displaying a refreshing sense of humor” and “an important record for fans of early thrash metal” by Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic (more here). The record was reissued remastered in 2006 by Metal Blade:

Jason Newsted had joined METALLICA after ‘Doomsday For The Deceiver’ and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM signed with METALLICA's label Elektra Records through which they released their second album in 1988; ‘No Place For Disgrace’ featured new bassist Troy Gregory, as well as “a chaotic version” of Elton John's ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’. Next, the band signed with major label MCA Records and produced ‘When The Storm Comes Down’ in 1990, depicted as “one of thrash metal's more accessible offerings” by music critics. Prior to the release of FLOTSAM AND JETSAM's fourth album, 1992's ‘Cuatro’, new bassist Jason Ward became an integral part of the band. 1995's ‘Drift’ was succeeded by ‘High’ two years later, “marking a return to the old days of thrash, bereft of any mainstream or prog-rock influences” (Jeremy Ulrey, AllMusic – more here) and marking the band's return to Metal Blade Records. Michael Gilbert and Kelly Smith left after the album's release and were replaced by guitarist Mark Simpson and drummer Craig Nielsen. “Given many chances by the record industry to fulfill their potential, offerings like ‘Unnatural Selection’ seemed to pop up at the most inopportune times, stalling the momentum created by superior recordings,” was Jason Anderson's, AllMusic, opinion of FLOTSAM AND JETSAM 1999 recording (more here):

Twenty years and a dozen bandmembers after the band's inception, ‘My God’, issued in 2001, exhibited “fine musicianship, some exceptionally heavy riffs and tight harmony solos”, according to music critics. Nevertheless, disheartened after years waiting for success, singer Eric Knutson left the band. And FLOTSAM AND JETSAM took a long break:

In 2005, the band returned to the studio. They created a 47-minute concept album that revolved around the theme of death-related nightmares, ‘Dreams Of Death’, of which Alex Henderson managed to write the following:
“… in a sense, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM are like “Saturday Night Live” - even if they disappoint you today, you figure they’ll bounce back creatively tomorrow,” [more here] “… And Dave Mustaine [MEGADETH] thinks he’s had it rough, living in METALLICA's shadow… boo-f**king-hoo! No, that shadow has certainly loomed much larger over FLOTSAM AND JETSAM's career, as they weathered the innumerable years (including the brutal grunge era) of touring whenever and wherever they could while recording for a number of decreasingly invested labels, and gradually losing founding members along the way so that just a shadow of their old selves remained by the turn of the century. And yet, every time they were supposedly left for dead, the group showed signs of life via sporadic new studio albums that, though notably inconsistent, still boasted a few flashes of glories past,” [contributed Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic – more here]
Defiant, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM rebounded in 2010 with their tenth album, ‘The Cold’:

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM's eleventh full-length album, ‘Ugly Noise’, came out in April 2013 through Metal Blade Records, their first release on the label since 2001. The record saw the return of original members guitarist Michael Gilbert and drummer Kelly David Smith, who last appeared on FLOTSAM AND JETSAM 1997's album ‘High’. ‘Ugly Noise’, partially founded by Pledge Music, was produced by the band themselves who describe it as mature and close to 1995's album  ‘Drift’. ‘Ugly Noise’ awaits you here (Metal Blade store), on iTunes and Amazon: 

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM features: Eric “AK” Knutson – vocals, Michael Gilbert – guitar, Jason Ward – bass, Kelly Smith – drums and Steve Conley - guitar

Scorpion Child: Kings Highway – new video



(Having been immersed deep in my own transcendence's wheel of time… and, of course, the Winter Olympics… (quick medal count: Germany leads with 7 Gold medals and 12 in total, Netherlands (the kings and queens of speed skating) are second with 5 Gold medals and unbelievable 17 medals in total, Norway stands firm third with 5 Gold and total 14 and SCORPION CHILD's home country (even Texas played its snowy part this year, I read) currently occupies seventh place on the medals table – and thank you, Ov Father, for finally recognising the hard work of one of your bests: Bode Miller) So, SCORPION CHILD, in cooperation with the talented director and award-winning stop-motion animator Jess Cope, released a new video for ‘Kings Highway’ (“a bluesy slow-burner”) off the band's eponymous debut LP out on Nuclear Blast Records since June 2013. Upon its release, ‘Scorpion Child’ entered German Media Control charts at number 84. SCORPION CHILD's nine, hook-filled chapters of heavy psych rock, produced and arranged by Grammy-nominated Chris “Frenchie” Smith using analog recording technology, got the metal press' big league excited (see below). To get exited yourselves, shop here (Nuclear Blast Europe store), or search for this wonder, available as CD, vinyl and digitally, on iTunes or Amazon:

“This eponymous debut from Texan quintet SCORPION CHILD surely ranks among the most head-scratching LPs of 2013, maybe the entire decade thus far. Why? Because it’s so damn hard to fathom what heavy metal category to file the band under: trad, retro, stoner, groove - heck, even '80s hair metal springs to mind, at times - like some kind of headbanger morality test, nagging one to distrust that gut feeling insisting everything will actually be just fine in the morning. Which is another way of saying you’ll probably need several listens to solve SCORPION CHILD's riddle; but given some effort, you’ll be glad you did,” [wrote Eduardo Rivadavia for Blabbermouth – more here]



It is fair to say that SCORPION CHILD come from lots of different places, not only logistically but musically as well, with influences as diversified as classic 80's thrash metal to the old school southern blues of Blind Willie Johnson, Lemon Jefferson and Willie McTell. In 2006, the musicians gathered in Austin, Texas to form a band and soon enough they found their own footing. After years of balancing full-time jobs at coffee shops and bars around the town, an experience they say forced them to be very disciplined, in 2010 SCORPION CHILD finally gained peer recognition and critical praise from local and regional press.

SCORPION CHILD features: Aryn Jonathan Black – vocals, Shaun Diettrick Avants – bass, Christopher Jay Cowart - lead guitar, Shawn Paul Alvear – drums and Tom “The Mole” Frank – rhythm guitar





13 February, 2014

Full Album Stream: Benighted: Carnivore Sublime – new album


Saint-Étienne, known for its bicycle industry and the Society of Mary (“...think as Mary, judge as Mary, feel and act as Mary in all things”), also managed to produce one of the most vicious death metal bands of late: BENIGHTED. Stéphanois' (that's how inhabitants of Saint-Étienne are called in French, apparently) new and seventh album is streaming in its relentless-vocal–onslaught-bulldozer-heavy-riffs-and-close-to-inhuman-drumming entirety here/Terrorizer and here/Stereokiller. ‘Carnivore Sublime’ is due on February the 14th, 2014 in Europe and on February the 18th in North America on Season Of Mist. The album, recorded at Kohlekeller Studios in Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany, features eleven ferocious new tracks and a guest appearance by Niklas Kvarforth (Sweden's SHINING). The new BENIGHTED video, ‘Experience Your Flesh’, was directed and produced by Kick Your Eyes Productions. In case you survive the audio/videoonslaught, BENIGHTED's ‘Carnivore Sublime’ (plus goodies) awaits you here (Season Of Mist e-shop), on iTunes and BandCamp (here).

BENIGHTED was formed in 1998 in Saint-Étienne, France by members of French death and black metal bands DISHUMANIZED, DARKNESS FIRE and OSGILIATH. A mix of death, black metal and grindcore comprised BENIGHTED's first self-produced and self-titled album in 2000. In 2001, BENIGHTED signed with French label Adipocere Records and recorded their brutal and technical death metal album, 2002's ‘Psychose’. Inspired by vocalist Julien Truchan's work in a psychiatric hospital, the schizophrenic album (of black, thrash metal, grindcore and hardcore), ‘Insane Cephalic Production’, was released in 2004. Recorded during 2005 at Kohlekeller Studios, the band's fourth LP, ‘Identistick’, appeared in 2006, followed by BENIGHTED next brutal offering, 2007's ‘Icon’ (Osmose Productions). Once again returning to Kohlekeller Studios in Darmstad, Germany where BENIGHTED recorded their fastest and most violent songs yet, BENIGHTED's sixth album entitled ‘Asylum Cave’ featured guest appearances by ABORTED's Sven de Caluwé and DEVOURMENT's Mike Majewski. ‘Asylum Cave’ was issued through Season Of Mist in 2011:

BENIGHTED features: Julien Truchan – vocals, Olivier Gabriel – guitar, Kevin Foley – drums, Eric Lombard – bass and Adrien Guérin – guitar

12 February, 2014

Full Album Stream: Cynic: Kindly Bent To Free Us – new album


Me, I am a terrible CYNIC - yet, Winter Olympic Games seem to bring out something positive as well. So before you “leap (before you look)” over here/Metal Hammer Germany, here/Metal Hammer Greece, here/Prog Magazine UK or here/Rock Hard Italy to enjoy the new CYNIC album (somewhat sarcastically called) ‘Kindly Bent To Free Us’ in its cosmic-riddles-alien-transmissions-tasty-riffs totality, let us first check the latest medal count: Germany suddenly leads with five gold medals, Norway is second with four gold medals and no less than twelve in total, Canada is third, Netherlands fourth, Switzerland fifth, the mighty United States and Russian Federation sixth and seventh respectively, then (what-is-going-on-with-the-new-BELPHEGOR-album) Austria is 8th and, finally, tiny Slovenia to whom I congratulate on their first-ever Olympic gold medal – 9th. Now let us continue with the serious business that is CYNIC's third full-length album: ‘Kindly Bent To Free Us’ will be released on February the 14th, 2014 in Europe and on February the 18th in North America through Season Of Mist. Guitarist and vocalist Paul Masvidal, drummer Sean Reinert and bassist Sean Malone recorded and produced the album at Perfect Sound Studios in Los Angeles; it was engineered by Jason Donaghy, mixed by R. Walt Vincent and mastered by Maor Appelbaum. The album's art was created by late American artist Robert Venosa. So, “have [CYNIC] finally gotten lost deep up their own asses” or “they’re still plotting to get things in motion eventually, having everything coalesce in the end in a way you never thought possible. (Dare I say, they’re not entirely unlike Larry David in that regard.)” to borrow Sammy O'Hagar's words (who, btw, believes “while it may not be as iconic as their first two albums, ‘Kindly Bent To Free Us’ is nothing less than the band maintaining their excellent status quo” – more here/MetalSucks)? To ascertain, do listen to the record filled with some delightful statements such as: “True hallucination speak/inhale/you better get a friend to help you” or “Animals are something invented by plants/to move seeds around/An extremely Yang solution”, and then order the album available as digipack CD, as limited edition collector's box, as limited edition double LPs in various colours, and digitally here (Season Of Mist e-shop), on iTunes or from BandCamp here.

Formed in 1987 in Miami, Florida by vocalist and guitarist Paul Masvidal, guitarist Jason Gobel, bassist Mark Van Erp, and drummer Sean Reinert, CYNIC began recording their first demos after bassist Tony Choy joined the band. In 1991, as the band went on temporary hiatus, Masvidal and Reinert performed on DEATH's ‘Human’ album and Choy joined ATHEIST. In 1992, CYNIC reunited with new bassist Sean Malone and signed with Roadrunner Records; the band's ground-breaking debut full-length album ‘Focus’ “meshed metal and jazz on an unprecedented scale, and explored the creative possibilities of this strange musical hybrid to a degree which has yet to be equaled” (Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic – more here). Citing musical and personal differences, CYNIC disbanded again in 1994. Most members turned to side projects: Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert and Jason Gobel formed the short-lived project PORTAL together with bassist Chris Kringel and vocalist Aruna Abrams. Season Of Mist released the PORTAL demos as ‘Portal Tapes’ on CD and vinyl  in 2012:

Reunited again in 2007, CYNIC's second LP, 2008's ‘Traced In The Air’, featured newcomer Tymon Kruidenier who replaced guitarist Jason Gobel:
“Ultimately, the album does CYNIC's legacy justice precisely because it challenges the listener to comprehend, by opening more doors than it closes and posing more questions than obvious answers - and what could be more “progressive” than that?,” [had asked/answered Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMuisc – more here:]

Next, CYNIC explored “sci-fi prog folk” (which is “part psychedelic rock, part minimalist restraint”) on 2010's ‘Re-Traced’ EP, and journeyed from the Amazon jungle (“on the lips of a shamanic wise-woman as portrayed by Amy Correia”) to outer space (“on the luminous wings of songwriter and guitarist Paul Masvidal's electric guitar”) on 2011's EP ‘Carbon-Based Anatomy”:
“In spite of its rather grotesque cover art, this six-song suite hardly ever roams into recognizably “metallic” terrain, but instead coasts along dreamily on ethereal sounds more typical of new age or ambient music. At their most aggressive, ‘Box Up My Bones’, ‘Elves Beam Out’ (say what?), and the title track partake in patches of hyperactive drumming, minor-chord guitar figures, and fluid solos, but never will they ignite anything resembling a mosh pit. There’s also no sign of either Paul Masvidal's processed vocoder or coarse death metal vocals of yore, leaving his newfound shy croon fully exposed to the elements, nude and fragile, yet compatible, nonetheless, with its new surroundings. So too are the variety of female voices provided by one Amy Correia on ‘Carbon-Based Anatomy’s remaining three cuts, which largely serve as connective tissue between the proper tunes cited above; hear her ululating like an aspiring Asha Bhosle [Indian singer/Bollywood] on ‘Amidst The Coals’ and ‘Bija!’ (the latter rich in atmospheric tabla), then coolly narrating esoteric mish-mash on the closing ‘Hieroglyph’,” [commented Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMuisc – more here:]

CYNIC features: Paul Masvidal – vocals and guitar, Sean Reinert - drums, percussion and keyboards, Sean Malone - bass (album), Amy Correia - vocals (album) and Max Phelps - guitar and vocals (live), Brandon Giffin - bass (live)

10 February, 2014

Korn: Spike In My Veins – new video

The American nu metal institution known as KORN has just unleashed a new video upon this world; Rolling Stone has premiered ‘Spike In My Veins’ video - the site's John Gentile explains: “KORN fight media manipulation with ‘Spike In My Veins’, the tune is “tension-filled”, it “attacks governmental data surveillance and modern information overload” and that “the video reflects the band's mindset”. And then he proceeds:
“From the onset, we see them stomping around a room filled with TV monitors, as the video first cuts to news reports of data surveillance before the broadcast is interrupted with a Justin Bieber report. There’s not-so-subtle images of President Obama walking out to give a Presidential Address that’s spliced with him walking onto Jimmy Fallon's stage and videos of Toronto mayor Rob Ford and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie interrupted by shots of Miley Cyrus and Kanye West. KORN's point is clear: Is news news or just entertainment?” [More here]
For a four and a half minute-long self-explanatory video – that’s a lot of explaining, a “modern information overload”, maybe? And if KORN's point is so clear, why is the point a question? Anyhow, ‘Spike In My Veins’ comes off KORN's eleventh studio album ‘The Paradigm Shift’, issued in October 2013 on Caroline Records/Spinefarm Records. ‘The Paradigm Shift’ sold nearly 46,000 copies its first week of release in the USA alone, to land position number 8 on the Billboard Top 200. The album charted at number 7 in Germany, Austria and Australia, at number 11 in Poland, at number 20 in Denmark and at number 26 in France. The first KORN album to feature original guitarist Brian Welch since 2003's ‘Take A Look In The Mirror’ was produced and mixed by Don Gilmore, engineered by Mark Kiczula and mastered by Brad Blackwood. The album's art was created by Roboto (David D. Navarro). ‘The Paradigm Shift’ awaits you in stores, on iTunes, Amazon etc:
“Replacing the sort of creeping, churning aggression that emanated from their earlier work is a newfound vigor. This makes for a refreshing change of pace from the band, who have been on a real hot streak when it comes to experimenting with their sound. And even though ‘The Paradigm Shift’ might not be the album that listeners might expect after a reunion with “Head” [Brian Welch], it shows the kind of creativity and inventiveness that, love them or hate them, helped to make them an influential force in heavy music. This capacity for change is what has helped KORN to make it this far, and it’s a quality that will probably see them continue to flourish as time goes on,” [wrote Gregory Heaney, AllMusic – more here]

Formed in Bakersfield, California by guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch, bassist Reginald “Fieldy Snuts” Arvizu, and drummer David Silveria, KORN were known as L.A.P.D. before they met (mortuary science student) Jonathan Davis in 1993. As KORN, they have recorded their debut self-titled album with producer Ross Robinson, with it establishing a new wave of metal (nu metal) as well as starting off Robinson's career. Their 1994's debut, released through Immortal/Epic, peaked at number 72 on the Billboard Top 200 and was eventually certified Gold. KORN's second album, 1996's ‘Life Is Peachy’, reached position number 3 on the Billboard Top 200 and sold in excess of 100,000 copies in its first week; the album was certified Platinum in the U.S., Platinum in Australia and Gold in Canada. KORN's third full-length release, 1998's ‘Follow The Leader’, is credited with bringing nu metal to the mainstream; produced by Steve Thompson and Toby Wright, the album peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Top 200, and conquered Australian, Canadian and New Zealand's charts. ‘Follow The Leader’ was certified Platinum five times in the U.S. alone (and three times in Australia and Canada). 1999's ‘Issues’ propelled KORN straight to the top of American charts. Produced by Brendan O’Brian, the album has reportedly sold over 11 million copies worldwide since its release. KORN's fifth album, 2002's ‘Untouchables’, reached position number 2 on the Billboard 200 Top and had won the band a Grammy for the single ‘Here To Stay’. In 2003, KORN released ‘Take A Look In The Mirror’; the self-produced album entered the Billboard charts at number 19 and peaked at number 9. ‘Take A Look In The Mirror’ was the last album (until now) the group has recorded with guitarist Brian Welch and KORN's last issued on Immortal/Epic. KORN's next Platinum album, 2006's ‘See You On The Other Side’, was released on EMI/Virgin Records. Their last to feature drummer David Silveria was produced by Davis, Atticus Ross and the production team The Matrix. ‘See You On The Other Side’ debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Top 200, and remained on the chart for 34 consecutive weeks. In 2007, KORN released their “untitled album” which reached number 2 on the American charts. For their next record, the band had returned to their first producer, Ross Robinson; ‘Korn III: Remember Who You Are’ was issued on Roadrunner Records in 2010. With it they peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200 (and “remembered who they were just in time to forget it all again on ‘The Path Of Totality’” as put by S.T. Erlewine, AllMusic): 

In December 2011, KORN came up with ‘The Path Of Totality’, on which the band explored dubstep and electronic territory with some of the world's leading dubstep and electronic producers and DJs, including Skrillex, Excision, Datsik, Noisia, Kill The Noise and 12th Planet. The album had conquered the U.S. Dance & Electronic Albums chart and had peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Top 200. ‘The Path Of Totality’ sold 55,000 copies during its first week:
“Unexpected this move may be, but not unnatural. KORN always emphasized texture over riffs, so shifting from a gray guitar grind toward claustrophobic electronic collage doesn’t induce shock, apart from the shock that the album actually works. KORN's cast of collaborators … does not redefine the band's character but rather reinterpret it, retaining the same tempos, the same creeping minor-key melodies and riffs, the same sense of enveloping angst that have been present since their 1994 debut. The difference of arrangement - heavy on skittish drums and electro walls of assault - has the curious effect of making KORN seem not adventurous but rather mature… [took the words from my mouth Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic – more here:]

KORN features: Jonathan Davis – vocals, James Shaffer – guitar, Brian Welch – guitar, Reginald Arvizu – bass and Ray Luzier – drums 


Death Angel: Left For Dead – new video

The “powerhouse of tight and shiny thrash metal”, DEATH ANGEL, have released a new Tommy Jones-directed video for ‘Left For Dead’, off ‘The Dream Calls For Blood’, the band's seventh album. Issued in October 2013 through Nuclear Blast Records, ‘The Dream Calls For Blood’ sold 5,400 copies in the United States in its first week of release, and had cracked U.S. Top 100 (at number 72 on The Billboard Top 200 chart). The album was recorded at AudioHammer Studios in Florida with Jason Suecof, while Brent Elliot White provided those seriously upset wolves for its cover. “DEATH ANGEL still sound visceral and hungry decades into their work, a rare case of a band getting sharper as it goes instead of mellowing,” voiced his opinion Fred Thomas, AllMusic who placed the group's latest offering in the “top tier of extremely inventive and exciting metal albums” (more here). To discover just how visceral and hungry they sound you’ll have to buy a copy ‘The Dream Calls For Blood’ here (Nuclear Blast Europe), here (Nuclear Blast USA), on iTunes or Amazon:

Instrumental in the development of thrash metal genre, DEATH ANGEL was formed in 1982 in San Francisco Bay Area by cousins guitarist Rob Cavestany, vocalist and bassist Dennis Pepa, guitarist Gus Pepa, and drummer Andy Galeon. While still in their teens, DEATH ANGEL recorded their 1986 Kirk Hammett (METALLICA)-produced demo ‘Kill As One’, and drummer Galeon was only fourteen when the band recorded their debut full-length album, 1987s ‘The Ultra-Violence’ (which went on to sell 40,000 copies in just four months) with vocalist Mark Osegueda. The track ‘Bored’, off DEATH ANGEL's second release 1988s ‘Frolic Through The Park’, had won a spot on MTV's “Headbanger's Ball”, impressing Geffen Records enough to offer the band a record deal. Regarded by many critics (and fans) as the band's finest effort, they next recorded 1990s ‘Act III’ with producer Max Norman; with it “finally reaching musical adulthood (though some band members were still barely old enough to vote)” (Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic – more here) as well as reaching position number 24 on the Billboard Top 200. The group's rise to fame was tragically cut short in 1990, when the band's tour bus crashed in the Arizona desert. Drummer Andy Galeon was critically injured, and would need more than a year to recover. Following, vocalist Mark Osegueda left, while the remaining bandmembers went on to form THE ORGANISATION, releasing two full-length albums under that name. DEATH ANGEL reassembled in 2001 to perform at a cancer benefit for TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy. In 2004, they released their fourth album ‘The Art Of Dying’ through Nuclear Blast Records which peaked at number 50 on the Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart. The band recorded their fifth album at Dave Grohl's Studio 606 with producer Nick Raskulinecz; the end result, 2008s ‘Killing Season’, was described as a “modern heavy metal album, with selected hallmarks of old-school thrash (and a few other musical styles) seamlessly woven together” by Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic (more here). In 2009, DEATH ANGEL released their first-ever live concert DVD called ‘Sonic German Beatdown’, followed by their sixth album ‘Relentless Retribution’ in 2010, which peaked at number 9 in Hungary, at number 45 in Germany and at number 10 on the Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, selling over 2,700 copies in its first week in the U.S. alone:

DEATH ANGEL features: Mark Osegueda – vocals, Rob Cavestany – guitar, Ted Aguilar – guitar, Damien Sisson – bass and Will Carroll – drums


Eyeconoclast: Rise Of The Orgamechanism – new video & Drones Of The Awakening – full album stream

According to EYECONOCLAST and filmmaker Giulio Ferro, the time “when man will stop being merely human and will give birth to a new, stronger and improved version of himself through genetic manipulation and integration with technology” nears. Well, I don’t know about genetic manipulation, but integration with technology, fine genes and hard work work very well for some mere humans these days in Sochi; I would like to congratulate to Norway on seven medals (and many more to come) in total so far, to Canada for current best medal ranking to that crazy Austrian kid (Matthias Mayer) who won yesterday's crazy downhill, to Poland for yesterday's ski jumping gold and to Slovenia for their ski jumping silver, and so on. Incidentally Italy, EYECONOCLAST's home country, has currently two medals: Christof Innerhofer's downhill silver and Armin Zoeggeler's luge bronze. But back to business: ‘Rise Of The Orgamechanism’ comes off Italian death metal maniacs' Prosthetic Records debut ‘Drones Of The Awakening’ which is conquering the world in its full metal attire since April 2013. EYECONOCLAST's second full-length album, which introduced new vocalist Giuseppe Di Giorgio, was recorded at EYECONOCLAST guitarist Stefano Morabito's 16th Cellar Studio in Rome, Italy. Courtesy Prosthetic Records, listen to the full ‘Drones Of The Awakening’ below, appreciate, and buy the album here (Prosthetic Records store), from iTunes, Amazon MP3 or BandCamp:

Formed in 2003 in Rome, Italy, EYECONOCLAST “began their venture into the eerie realm of heavy music” in the already mentioned 16th Cellar Studios where they recorded their first official demo, ‘Binary Encoded Sunset’, with Stefano “Saul” Morabito who would eventually end up replacing Cristiano Trionfera (these days FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE's guitarist and vocalist) on guitar. In 2005, EYECONOCLAST self-produced their second demo ‘Clustered Dead Ending Corridors’; containing five tracks, two of those were included on separate compilation CDs issued by Terrorizer Magazine, the recording gained the band a deal with Swedish label Downfall Records. In 2008, EYECONOCLAST released their debut full-length album, ‘Unassigned Death Chapter’, which featured HOUR OF PENANCE's Giulio Moschini on bass. In 2011, the band recorded their latest EP with current bassist Paolo Ballarotto; ‘Sharpening Our Blades On The Mainstream’ proved to be the last recording with vocalist Carlos “Synder” Mastantuono, who has been since replaced by Giuseppe Di Giorgio. 

EYECONOCLAST features: Giuseppe Di Giorgio – vocals, Stefano Morabito – guitar, Alessio Cosenza –guitar, Paolo Ballarotto – bass and Mauro Mercurio – drums