Monday, December 11, 2006


1. Decapitated - Organic Hallucinosis - Sauron finally ditched and his generic death grunts aren't missed at all. They bring in some new kid named Covan who sounds remarkably like Barney from Napalm Death. That implies that he’s also really good. This thing grooves the hell out of the shed and is heavier than Satan the Hutt.

2. Mastodon - Blood Mountain - They're the new Zeppelin.

3. Gojira - From Mars to Sirius - It might have been released last year but that was only in Europe and I don't live there. It came out here this year so I'm putting it on this list. These frenchies knocked it out of le parc with a load of greenpeace whale sludge and the production is incredible.

4. Enslaved - Ruun – Aside from a few exceptions Black metal may be pretty much dead seeing as the only reason most bands play it these days is to have an excuse to wear corpse paint. Thankfully these guys keep recreating the genre by completely avoiding everything that’s so lame about it.

5. Urkraft - Inhuman Aberration – This record can sometimes be pretty generic melodic thrash but the performances are perfect and the riffs are never predictable. They're almost always rolling over the fourth beat and ending up somewhere only Danish people seem to understand.

6. I - Between Two Worlds - Heavy fist pumping rock metal with Abbath on vocals? Duh.

7. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale - I used to dislike his voice on the wu-tang records, I thought it was too whiny. I was so much younger then and too stupid to realize how insanely good he was.

8. Lamb of God - Sacrament - We're not supposed to like them anymore. What did Sloan say? That's rhetorical as I know the answer. They said it's not the band I hate it's the fans. Meatheads across the land may love beating each other up while listening to them (aka looking for an excuse to grab at each other) but to be honest this record is still with me. There’s enough of an evolution to keep me interested, the songs are heavy and catchy and Chris Adler is always entertaining.

9. In Flames - Come Clarity - Hell sometimes I like pop music.

10. Intronaut - Void – I’ve heard it enough to know that it’s top ten worthy. It will likely take many more listens to fully appreciate it’s denseness and weight. Next year I’d be disappointed with myself if I hadn’t included it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


When a supreme talent arises in the metal community it can often be ignored by even more seasoned listeners because at times with this talent comes the desire to create the most caustic racket possible. In cases such as these the average to even advanced music fans are unable to digest what has been laid to .wav. In this case we're going to focus on Necrophagist. A band who falls into the commonly known metal genre as one of the many with too many names to bother attempting to label. Death, tech-death, math-tech, death-math, pyro-tech, ok so I'm starting to make these up but everyone else does so it's not even important. What is important is that if you can get passed the destructive drumming and grunting you'll find, in Necrophagists case, a guy who instead of applying his advanced brain to building a space station decided to pick up a guitar and almost single-handidly recreate the blast-math-being set on fire and put out with rock salt genre.

The band was originally a one man operation helmed by Muhammed Suicmez. His first full length record was called Onset of Putrefaction and he recorded the entire thing alone. If you have any desire to create music like this you'll probably want to start honing your drum machine abilities as it's unlikely you'll find someone who'll ever be able to replicate it live. Unless of course you're Suicmez and your first record does well enough to give you access to the impenetrable fortress where they keep the drummers that aren't accessible to the public unless you've proven your worth.

Another example of a similar band I've endorsed before on here is Decapitated. If you like them at all they can be a good starting point for Necrophagist. Well, Decapitated and say, Eat 'em and Smile by David Lee Roth. I say this because if it wasn't for the vocals you could almost be convinced that this album was recorded by Vai and Sheehan. That being said he did actually manage to put a band together and the newest record, 2004's Epitaph, is a tight and clean shred-fest in every way.

Symbiotic in Theory is a good example of all that this band is. The fast parts rip, the slower sections grind and the instrumentation is mind-boggling.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


From the top to the very bottom, the biggest to smallest, there is no music more broadly scrutinized, dismissed or loved than metal. I know, I know, it’s a sweeping and arguably ignorant statement and one that could be argued by classical music and Steely Dan fans everywhere but I’m referring to music listeners of all ages and cultures. Let’s be honest, Classical music, like Criterion DVD’s or a good pen can only properly appreciated by people at least over the age of thirty and if someone younger claims otherwise they’re either lying to impress or have lost their entire youth locked in a room with a viola. As for Steely Dan, well, either you get it or you don’t and if you don’t I pity your unfortunate soul for you are not even remotely as ‘nerd cool’ as you think you are. Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, myself, my dad, my uncle, and other geniuses are laughing at you.

It’s a complicated world of genres, sub-genres, sub-sub genres and laughable styles that is both intimidating and for the most part a complete waste of time to even try to follow. This is of course the primary reason those who choose to follow it even bother. It’s like collecting hockey or baseball cards. It’s expensive, wastes space, is detailed oriented and all about the thrill of discovery. You are willing to sift through months of junk just for that one solid find. It’s a risky game, entering a room of cynical metal heads that have seen and heard it all. You throw in your tape or CD, or connect your mp3 player, it’s building inside, ‘they’ll love this’, you think to yourself, ‘I can’t believe they haven’t heard this band yet, they’re going to be so blown away’. Are they though? Was I tired when I heard it? Am I completely off? It’s a risk you take and a risk you love. Of course the pay-off is never instant. Like any metal head they won’t give you the immediate satisfaction. That usually comes a few weeks later when you’re in a car with all of them and they somehow now know the good parts. From there it’s air guitars, air drums, and winced eyed head-nodding all around. You’ve done it, time to start the search again.

The complications, though, arise from so many levels which is what makes the genre so difficult to crack into. As a metal head you are willing to listen to almost everything, for a few seconds. The reality is that that’s usually all it takes. If you’re seasoned enough, those two seconds aren’t even necessary and your seemingly closed-mindedness can be perfectly justified. Take a look at your current local metal scene; chances are the bands with the biggest draws are those with the tightest black pants and the biggest high-tops. If you’ve been to one of their shows you were most likely surrounded by a crowd full of people who wouldn’t know Alex Skolnick from Alex Van Halen while they feign interest in a below mediocre band playing songs that are less engaging than listening to a co-worker re-count the dream they had last night. There’s a reason why the most technically proficient musicians look like complete dorks and this reason is something I shouldn’t have to explain.

Here’s where it becomes difficult. Where the fine line blurs, fades, and hides. The local band wearing brand new 1990 Reebok Pumps would argue that they’re old-school, which is perfectly fair as long as you accept that your band will never go anywhere. The second you become that ‘old school band’ in town, that’s it. You’ve dug a stylistic hole that you’ll likely never recover from. The upside of course being that you at least had women at your shows which naturally meant that your audience was doubled, until you tried to evolve your sound. Then the quasi-interested metal heads forgot about you and moved on to some other old-school indulgence to party to in between Deicide binges, the girls left because they discovered some other band with tighter pants on Myspace and their boyfriends finally lost interest because their thirst to be the first to say that they found the new Wolf____ became too much for them to withstand. It’s ok though, shelling out all that extra cash to release a 7 inch was worth it in the end wasn’t it? At least that’s what Slayer would have done in ’84.

The opposite and likely adverse effect to this is a band like The Dillinger Escape Plan. These guys always seem to be ahead of the game, are remarkably proficient technically, and pretty much anti everything. Interestingly enough though is that if you go to a Dillinger show you’ll likely be surrounded by a crowd that wouldn’t know Jim Henson from Jim Martin (you see, I use Jim Martin because most people who would claim to follow Dillinger would be likely to name drop Mike Patton who is widely accepted in the ‘cool’ category as is Faith No More, but probably wouldn’t recognize the bespectacled wonder that was Mr. Martin – aka I’m pretentious). Anyway, I respect DEP but I’ll be damned if I can get through an entire record of theirs. If you haven’t heard them, imagine taking four Steely Dan albums, over-lapping them all, continually speeding up and then slowing down the music, and all this while putting a barking dog next to you while you listen to it. It’s pretty self indulgent stuff and I do encourage you to see them live as their performance is comparable to playing dodgeball with a bee-hive instead of a ball.

What all this could really be traced to is a potential personal indictment of all things power metal. Well, not all things, only things post 80’s. This is unfair of course…yeah, whatever. My point is when it comes to metal, if you have elements to your music that are references to something old and you are not making any attempts to mold or update it than you are likely wasting your time. If you can impress your friends with a wailing falsetto think twice before you put a band together for the sole purpose of making others listen to you sing like Rob Halford. The reality is that you probably suck and don’t sound remotely as good not to mention your lack of Tipton and Downing. It’s a combination of elements that make a great band, not one gimmick. On that note, my apologies to Dragonforce, you’ve got a lot of talent but let’s be honest, you’re robots making the soundtrack for the video game called life.

If you’ve made it this far here is your reward. A British band that I only discovered yesterday and was inspired enough to write about today (if you check for updates at all you can appreciate the meaning of this). They’re called Biomechanical and while they do contain elements previously discussed (mainly high vocals) they are without question taking these elements and processing them through a technical thrashing blender of full on fury and boulders to the face. It’s fast, riff riddled and aggressive. The vocals go from the gut to the top of your head with the high stuff executed very strongly. The worst thing about the fact that they’re touring with EXODUS is that they’re not playing in my living room.

Go HERE and listen to Enemy Within. If you don't like it you're definitely not ready for Aja.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Here’s a bit of a sobering post for any aspiring musicians hoping to start a metal band. Not that I’m trying to discourage anyone but just keep this one important point in mind: A good metal drummer is VERY hard to find. I could give a few examples including the side projects and session work that some have done but it would be almost comical and quite frankly as boring as waiting for me to update this stinking site.

One specific example though is Kevin Talley, a drummer that has appeared on a few tracks that I’ve profiled here.
I’ve ripped off portions of his bio from and included them below. I did take the liberty of leaving out such highlights as 1991’s “Played 1st concert with classic country band at grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.” figuring that if you want to investigate some of his more substantial career moments you can do some homework of your own. What is also crucial is to keep in mind that he was born in 1979 so when you read that he joined Maryland’s underground Grind/Death metal favorites Dying Fetus in 1997, he was 18 years old.

1990 began playing drums.
1996 Joined San Antonio metal band DEITY and made -The Resurrected- demo.
1997 Joined DYING FETUS and re-located to the D.C. area.
1998 May/June filled in for a U.S. SUFFOCATION tour.
1999 FETUS side project KNUCKLE DEEP releases -Come Clean-.
2001 Mar Kevin departs DYING FETUS.
2001 Apr Forms and records w/MISERY INDEX -Overthrow-.
2001 June/July METHOD OF DESTRUCTION (MOD) Reunion tour with Billy Milano of S.O.D. (Charlie and Scott of ANTHRAX).
2001 Dec Session work for DARK DAYS in Cali.
2002 Feb travel to the -Warfield- in San Fran to audition w/ SLAYER.
2002 Apr Travel to SLAYER's rehearsal space and jam with them for 2 days.*
2002 Formed rock band GRAYSON MANOR.
2002 Sept/Oct Session work in SWEDEN for SOILS OF FATE.
2004 Jan/Feb departs GM and forms 5th Wheel, a rock/punk band with Atlanta musician Tyler Edwards.
2004 Rejoin MISERY INDEX and releases -Dissent- EP.
2004 June Departs M.I. and joins Chimaira.
2005 Feb Chimaira records self titled release.
2005 March Record songs for DAATH including -Ovum-.
2006 Jan/Feb Talley fills in for THE RED CHORD.
2006 Feb/Mar Talley fills in for THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER.
2006 Apr/May Talley fills in for HATE ETERNAL.
2006 May session work for ASYLUM.
2006 Nov/Dec DAATH and Cattle Decapitation tour!

*Lombardo came back, he didn’t stand a chance.

It’s a sad reality that these guys are a rare breed. If you’re at all close to a local metal scene you’re likely already familiar with seeing the same guy planted behind the traps of a few bands. If you also have a young kid and they express any interest in playing a musical instrument put on your Earl Woods hat and get your kid some drums because I guarantee that if they end up being any good they’ll be in about 10 bands and one of those will surely make it big.

Talley with The Black Dahlia Murder

Talley auditioning for Slayer (note the walls of cabinets…in a rehearsal space. Hilarious)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Cousin Tim: You're getting pretty lazy with your posts.
Me: I know...
Cousin Tim: You gotta go back to some of the classics, the old stuff.
Me: hmm...

Well, unfortunately for Tim I don't think this next post will necessarily explore a classic that he maybe had in mind so Tim, I apologize. Oh, and eat it also.

Witchery may not be considered classic in the typical sense but what they certainly do without question is play music that calls on and respects artists that most would consider to have earned the title, albeit with a certain thrashy flair that few can match.

The label 'supergroup' can sometimes be used generously and an obvious example shouldn't be too hard to think of. With G 'n R 'legend' Gilby Clarke, locomotive of intelligence Tommy Lee and, well, ok fine Newsted has cred, anyway while these guys may be big names they definitely wouldn't stand a chance against a line-up consisting of Martin Axenrot (Bloodbath, Opeth), Patrik Jenson (The Haunted) and Sharlee D'Angelo (Mercyful Fate, Arch Enemy, Silk shirt wearing, long greasy hair sporting swashbuckling type). Seriously, check that out. No contest.

Something that I've talked about before is how for the most part modern thrash has become clinical or mechanical. A successful band like Lamb of God, who are good, can at times lose my interest because Chris Adler is actually a metronome with an outrageously long beard. Or a band like Unearth release music that is so refined and polished that it can fail to satisfy people, not to mention every song has a scheduled breakdown at the 2:30 mark. The new Unearth record even has some 'Iron Maiden' type guitar parts, but that's all they are, Iron Maiden guitar parts. I don't know, Unearth is ok but I've heard Slaughter of the Soul already, I don't need to hear Slaughter of the Slick. Precision doesn't always equal power, Witchery knows this. That's not to say that Witchery is sloppy, they did pummel Supernova into the ground at the Metal olympics after all but their music grinds along briskly with raw riffing that should please any old schooler.

Wicked from 2001's Symphony for the Devil is an awesome burst of thrash that isn't trying to break into any kind of undiscovered territory but should put a nice Gary Holt grip around your neck and shake your head with it's quick power chord riffing, Slayer-esque breakdown and trading leads.
What's also cool about this song and the band in general is the guitar tone. It's actually pretty 'jangly' for lack of a better word. The advantage to this is that notes stand out with more clarity.

Now I haven't heard the new Haunted record yet but from what people tell me and from what I've read they pretty much aren't even the same band anymore. Also considering the fact that the most recent Witchery record sounds more like recent Haunted makes one believe that Patrik Jenson is starting to slow down a bit. You know, putting more focus on 'song-writing'. Whatever the hell that means.

Sidenote: This post took me about 2 hours, I'm pathetic.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006


How I’ve taken so long to get to this post I can’t really explain. Well, I think the reality is that I’m terrified of how difficult it will be to put into words the significance of this band and how they are not only one of the most important metal bands ever, but how they are also some of the most important individuals to ever pick up instruments and play music together.

From an outsiders perspective all metal sounds the same. Unfortunately for these outsiders and what they fail to realize is that everything from an unfamiliar perspective sounds the same. If you don’t listen to classical music, a violin is merely a stringed instrument. Just like if you don’t listen to metal, a polyrhythmic overlapping drum pattern sounds like ‘the drums’. The argument of ‘all things sounding the same’, though, while being mildly ignorant isn’t necessarily unfair as most of the time the music’s purpose is to work with, or contort something familiar. After all, if you can write a catchy tune who really cares if its foundation is constructed from the same ingredients (AC/DC)?. The reason for writing all that was to point out the fact that at times you get the rarity of a group that has managed to completely carve their own direction with a familiar art form to the point where they have absolutely no peers.

Opeth is the result of one man’s gift of songwriting and musicianship in combination with a few other guys who spent their teenaged years practicing to become better at what they do than the thing you think you’re best at. Their music is what happens when the talent can live up to ambition. This is not normal.

The ‘one man’ here is of course Mikael Akerfeldt; arguably the most versatile vocalist and songwriter in music today. He’s got your death growl well covered but it’s not until he shifts to his ‘other’ voice that the sweet sassy molassy factor of Opeth begins to reveal itself. This guy can sing. And this is no power metal wail, think Thom Yorke. Now in order for the softer vocals to work properly in the same song as the deep growl you need some well thought out transitions and it’s with these transitions that Opeth really shines. They weave sections together that should not, and normally would not work together. This can be attributed to a few things; one being that they’re ridiculously good, the other being that the average Opeth song is about 10 minutes long. Luckily for…well, us, the songs are so interesting that you don’t get bored. Like classical, Akerfeldt writes in terms of movements and not the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/end. It’s more like intro/verse/prog melt-down/chorus/acoustic bit/lead bit/variation of chorus/re-invention of the wheel/end of the world riff/verse/outro/better version of the outro/front-end loader to your face outro variation/end.

Moving on,

If you aren’t familiar with the song from Deliverance called Deliverance and I’m introducing it to you then I will relish the moment of being the annoying guy that always has to tell you about when the really good part of a movie is coming up. In this case it’s obviously a song though, well, in movie format.
Deliverance from the live Opeth DVD Lamentations

1:20 – First transition from loud to quiet. What is most interesting about the quieter Opeth moments is how inventive the chords and progressions are. I assume that the melody comes first and the chords are formed around that. That’s hard.
3:56 – Peter Lindgren makes his presence known with a Middle Eastern type lead. What you may notice here is something that applies to the entire band and frustrates the hell out of me. These guys actually play their instruments with the technique tips that you’re supposed to ignore when you look at beginner’s guides to how-to-play instruments (aka properly).

4:29 – Martin Lopez insults all drummers who don’t listen to what’s happening vocally during the songs they play. Listen to how the fill follows the vocal pattern, crafty stuff. Too bad he’s not in the band anymore, not like Axenrot isn’t a good replacement considering his drumstool residency in both Bloodbath and Witchery.

5:10 – After you threw away your ‘How to play guitar properly’ book written by Opeth you really should have picked up the edition they released called How to write killer transitions in epic songs. Here’s Example 1 from Chapter 1 where it stresses the importance of the ride symbol.

So it’s Opeth and the song is lengthy, here’s the second portion. Please pause this video at the 3:05 mark.

1:10 – This is Heavy with a capitol J for Jackhammer.
1:29 – More ride. Chapter 1,
Example 2.
3:05 – Alright, this is important. In 2 seconds you will become familiar with an Opeth moment that among fans is commonly known as The Part. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out something to write here to prepare you for this but it was a waste of time. Un-pause and enjoy the fact that humans actually created this.
5:20 – They knew it so they worked it. The high part comes out, Opeth rules.

Like Enslaved, Opeth is a metal band that advances by exploring the past. On their most recent release, Ghost Reveries, they became even more influenced by 70’s prog and some songs even had Deep Purple-esque organ parts. What’s also interesting is that the album Deliverance was initially intended as a double-disc with the mellower acoustic based Damnation but label nonsense separated the records by about 5 or 6 months. Damnation is an album by a metal band that your parents/girlfriend/wife will probably like, especially your dad if he’s a big Floyd fan.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

If you click the picture below you'll end up reading something that'll just direct you back here but here's a thanks to Dave Morris.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I’ve admitted before that I’m not exactly the biggest death metal fan. Not that I don’t respect it but I just can’t really get into it. Now, as I’ve been pretty lazy lately I’m going to go back to one of the original focuses of this site, which is the flying feet, and crazy hands of metal drummers.

It would seem as though if someone were to conduct a metal drumming world cup France would be well represented. With players like the previously covered Dirk Verbeuren and Cryptopsy’s Flo Mounier they’d be a pretty tough team to beat. So yeah, this is about Flo.

It’s impossible to deny that this guy is a one man wrecking crew. It’s also fitting that he left France only to move to Quebec, the metal mecca of Canada. Not quite sure what’s going on over there but with bands like Voivod, Cryptopsy, Kataklysm, and Gorguts, that province for one reason or another has seemingly had a head start on the rest of us.

Cryptopsy has without a doubt released some vital Death Metal. With records like None so Vile and Whisper Supremacy they’ve more than established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. But if you listen to their albums you get the distinct impression that it is the Flo show. Not taking anything away from the rest of the band as they have chops to spare but when you listen to their new record the two things that seem to stand out are the sounds of Lord Worm’s dog barfk vocals and Flo’s drum assault.

So here’s a picture of Flo’s drumset. As you can see when he came up with the configuration he decided not only go over the top but also beat the crap out of the top and then eat it. If you look closely you’ll see five foot pedals. If you’re not sure what these are all used for I’ll explain it to you. There are the obvious double bass drum pedals and high hat. There is also the not so uncommon 2nd high hat for open positions and then of course the Flo fast forward pedal which he uses to manipulate time.

Last year there was a music exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and one of the pieces on the display was Flo’s drumset. There were also a few occasions where people could go watch Flo play as part of the exhibit.
Here’s a video of this and watch towards the end where Flo activates the fast forward time manipulator pedal. I swear this is not sped up and you may find youself swearing at the inhuman speed on display.

Here’s a song from the new Cryptopsy record (Once Was Not) called Adeste Infidelis. This is music made by people just because they can and want to. It’s also music made by crazy people for crazy people.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


It's the return of the BEEEEEEENNNNND!! Too bad for the shakey cameras and lame 'metal themed' video insertions. Either way, YESSSSS!!

Watch the video here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


What better way is there to kill time these days than youtube? This past work weekend was somewhat slow and therefore allowed me some serious time killing discoveries on this jungle of video gems. Who knew that Henry Rollins had a tv show show? Well I suppose if you have the Independant Film Channel then you knew but I don't so I didn't. Anyway there's a bunch of cool stuff that he's done including a good Ozzy interview and various other performances. What is also exciting is that an upcoming episode will feature Slayer. This is exciting. Apparently there will be a performance of the new song 'Cult' but what I could find so far is them playing 'Disciple' from God Hates Us All. If you're reading this site you'll probably already enjoy it, so...enjoy it.

First watch this:

Then enjoy the only musician other than Michael Jackson to perform with catcher pads, a singing grizzly bear, a whole lot of drums and Kerry King play a little dity.
Slayer on Rollins

Also, Bravewords has a review of the new Slayer record up and it's pretty positive. Read it here.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I swear I'm not on it, Warner Brothers that is. This is too good not to post though. As some/most/hopefully you know the new Mastodon record entitled Blood Mountain will be released on September 12th. The song Crystal Skull is now online at Mastodon's Website and their Myspace and it kills. Even better is the ripping lead, I always knew these guys had some shred in them and I'm glad they're putting it on display. There is also the first episode of the making of the new record online, drummers beware.

Also of note is that they will be on tour this fall and are playing the Phoenix in Toronto and I have a ticket. I'm almost jealous of myself. This will be the best prog-metal album about fighting mythical beasts while struggling to climb a mountain...ever.

Friday, July 07, 2006


If I were in charge of giving out some kind of music award it would be likely that Devin Townsend would be nominated for every category. Best vocals, best production, best guitar work, most schizophrenic, most likely to explode, etc. Whether you’re dealing with his work in Strapping Young Lad or his solo work you know you can expect something unique and worth listening to.

It’s tough to know where to start when tackling a subject that has as much depth and I will likely not even come close to giving the earned credit that Townsend deserves in this post but whatever.

So, not to get into any kind of major bio but here’s the important details:
- From Vancouver
- Recruited to do vocals for Steve Vai on his ’93 record Sex & Religion (he was 21).
- Released the first SYL record Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing in ‘95
- Did a bunch of other crazy things
- Released the SYL record City in ’97 (City is an unreal album, crazy crazy music).
- Did a bunch of more stuff (made more solo and Strapping records, produce other bands ((darkest hour)), be a general loon).

That pretty much doesn’t cover it at all but you get the idea. If you aren’t familiar with his work I can assure you that few can scream, wail, or shriek like him and as he’s chosen to prove more recently, shred the hell out of a guitar (being in a band with Steve Vai has it’s advantages).

Now on top of all this he’s one of those guys. Of course I know that those can mean all sorts of things. Those guys can refer to guys with spiked hair, shoe polish tans and 2 Fast 2 Furious cars, but can also mean that guy you went to high-school with that you were afraid of because deep down you knew he was infinitely smarter than you and simply had to indicate this to you with a psychotic glint in his eye. Usually these guys move on to do some kind of work in computers, which applies in this case because SYL’s music can sound like several computers self destructing. Let's also not forget his ability to manipulate noise as a producer.

Anyway, Strapping has a new record coming out next week and you can check out one of the songs if you’re interested. If you aren’t interested just listen to it anyway because if you’ve never heard them before you’ve probably never heard such structured insanity in your life.

U SUCK – Well….yeah, say hi to Gene Hoglan. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Hoglan he’s probably one of the scariest drummers ever, not to mention, uhh, the biggest. You should see him play, just one big mess of flying hair and arms. If you’ve heard the live Pantera recording where Phil refers to the drummer in Death he’s talking about Gene (he also played in Dark Angel). Anyway you’ll hear his craziness on this song. Of course the vocals are completely over-the-top and the lyrics are typical Townsend ridiculousness but as usual if you listen closely you’ll hear layer upon layer reveal itself, this guy does vocals like no other and has unreal melodic and harmonic abilities. You’ll also hear his Vai filtered approach to the guitar, which to be honest makes me jealous.

Townsend actually seems like a very down to earth and articulate guy and despite the fact that even he admits SYL is angry music he has balanced this anger with some really elegant solo material. The Accelerated Evolution record is proof of this and I highly recommend it.

Sidenote: Skullet’s are instant scary/crazy.

More Strapping songs, definitely listen to Detox and Shitstorm. Few times has a song title been so fitting as it is with Shitstorm. The scream at 2:16 alone is enough evidence to prove the vocal capabilities of Townsend.
Solo HevyDev here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


In light of my Unholy Alliance Tour experience last night I bring you a video.

The show was great althought it was unfortunate that Thine Eyes Bleed, being the new band on the bill, had to 'pay their dues' with terrible sound. We wouldn't want the new guys to sound as good as the established acts would we? Children of Bodom were as good as they have been all the other times I've seen them. Lamb of God did their job of fulfilling the knucklehead thirst, but they were as good as the other times I've seen them. Slayer were great and Lombardo gets better and better, good to see him back as always. But the night belonged to Mastodon, these guys rule.

Sidenote: A real post is coming soon.

Monday, July 03, 2006


YEAAAH, an audio sample from the new VADER record called Impressions in Blood.
Here's the cover art:

Ohhh, this is going to be good.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


It's interesting to think of which current rock bands will last long enough to reach that coveted spot some of us know as 'dad rock'. I know that may not exactly sound like a good thing but to many people that I've talked to bands like AC/DC, Zeppelin and the Stones fall into this category. To me that's pretty good company so if that means being known as 'dad rock' then I'd consider it an honor. The reality is that the reason the label 'dad rock' exists is because there haven't been many worthy heirs to the great rock throne from my generation thus leaving an enormous gap with seemingly only late 80's Guns n' Roses invited to the party. Now obviously there are all sorts of bands that will be regarded as classic but I'm talking about good old party Rock n' Roll.

Part of the problem is that too many bands conciously try to be the instant classic and the ones that don't are dismissed as going for an old sound. The problem is that a successful rock bands sound isn't necessarily defined by it's ability to play the genre's famliar elements but more importanly take that style and craft solid, catchy material. Let's just say that melody becomes really important.

So, I'm not sure if it's a trend, most likely luck and timing but here we go again with another interview. Here I talk to Mikey, the vocalist and one of Priestess' two guitarists and he confirms some of the things that I've always felt would make rock one of the hardest styles to attempt. They're a really hard working band and as far as I'm concerned have the right elements to do really well.

CB: Firstly, where are you and how did your last show go?

M: We’re on our way to Portland, our last show was in San Francisco, and it was great, one of our best.

CB: Does it frustrate you that people are so desperate to find a new replacement for their favourite classic rock bands? And how depending on what approach you take to your songwriting you can immediately be labelled or dismissed by someone because you're not who they want you to be? Like, "They're from ______? Great! I can finally put away my _____ records!"

M: It’s only frustrating when people dismiss the music because they think we’re trying to sound “retro”. We write songs to be songs on their own, not to be cast into a style. I don’t even think we sound retro, we sound modern to me.

CB: It would seem to me that playing straight up rock would be one of the toughest styles to tackle. While the pay-off could be huge it doesn't have the same kind of committed community like hip-hop or metal and the conversion factor would be more difficult because people generally think that as far as rock goes they've heard it all before. Do you find that you've struggled with this at all?

M: It is a tougher genre in many ways. Metal music can often just rely on super-technical playing and crazy fast riffing and stuff. When melody and feeling is the main focus, it makes songwriting a little more painstaking. And then you are forced to straddle that line, are you a pop rock band, or a metal band? To us it’s very simple, it’s just rock music.

CB: Some bands would strive to record an album that closely captures the live presentation of their music while others would be conscious of maybe holding back a bit more on record to insure a bigger difference between the live element vs. the album. A kind of way to create more of an impact. Do you think Priestess takes one of these kinds of approaches to recording and if so, which?

M: Well, we definitely weren’t holding back in the studio, but we were conscious that we were making something that would differ from our live show. Everybody would agree that our songs performed live are a lot heavier. We wanted the record to capture the songs as clearly as possible, but live we kick the shit out of them.

CB: One mistake a lot of bands make is failing to recognize that the audience is a reflection of the band on-stage. They can get too caught up in not wanting to make mistakes that the crowd most likely won't notice anyway. Was providing an energetic or risky performance the approach from the start or would you say it was more of a trial and error process?

M: No, that’s just the natural way for us to perform, we get intense feelings of passion on stage from the crowd, it’s that mutual relationship of crowd-feeds-band-feeds-crowd.

CB: When it comes to bands that have proven successful playing the style of music you do there has always been a balance between catering to those who just want to have a good time as well as pleasing the more musically technical fan. In the case of Priestess, a song like Run Home is a good example of a song that features both of these approaches. You have your clear melodic focus for the 'beer in one-hand while the other hand punches the air' element but you also have moments like the quick drum fill after the first chorus or the twin guitar lines for the more trained ear. How conscious of this balance are you or am I over-analyzing it?

M: There is a balance there, although we could fill our songs with crazy guitar passages and time signatures, we prefer them in moderation. One guideline we sort of follow is the “less is more” idea. But, at the same time, I could listen to Mastodon and Yes all day.

CB: When a band releases their debut it's not unusual that the songs on it are ones that have been honed and refined for quite some time, years even. Are you at all concerned about the idea of writing a follow-up under more pressure without the freedom to road-test material as much?

M: Well, it’s not going to be easy, but it won’t be hard either. We’re already writing songs that we are excited about, and we’re really looking forward to having a new record.

CB: In reference to the last question, considering the more recent, bigger support behind you have you thought about any kind of experimentation or ideas you'll be able to work with given the fact that the next recording process will probably not be as limited for you?

M: I think we’re going to keep the approach fairly similar. We will likely go for a sound that compares closer to our live sound. But again, we won’t drown our songs in complicated production calls, so that the songwriting remain the focus

CB: A band that always seems to be forgotten as far as influence goes is 70's era Aerosmith. Seriously, when listening to Appetite for Destruction I hear a lot of Aerosmith, especially stuff from the Rocks record. I mention this because your song 'Time will cut you down' has a 'Last child' feel to it. Is this news to you or am I way off? Either way, take it as a compliment because Aerosmith Rocks is a killer record.

M: Ha! We all love Aerosmith, so that’s a great compliment. They are amazing, cause they are the only band from that era who aren’t considered a dinosaur band, and have consistently released awesome records.

CB: Does it sometimes feel like all your hard work is paying off in the form of more hard work? That's not meant to imply anything negative, just that your former struggles can now become bigger pressures. Are you the types that try to prepare for what is to come or will you do your best to take it as it happens?

M: We started this band about 4 years ago with our only goal being to be able to play music as much as possible, and that’s what we’re doing now, and that’s all we ever want to do. So, as long as we can stay on the road, I think we’ll be OK.

CB: Lastly, as this is primarily a metal site and given Quebec's huge scene are there any bands that you can think of that deserve to be heard?

M: There’s a great metal scene in Montreal, people should check out The Expectorated Sequence, Hands Of Death, Mad Parish, and obviously Cryptopsy and Voivod. For more hard rock bands, people should check out Tricky Woo, Bionic and Starvin’ Hungry.

So that's a pretty good list Mikey's left us with and the bands that I knew get a Chaosbeard seal of approval and the ones I didn't know I checked out and you should too.

Priestess site and Myspace

Previous Chaosbeard post

Sidenote: Flo Mounier from Cryptopsy is from planet Ridiculon.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Norwegian Black Metal has been in a bit of a strange place for a while now and the reasons for this are a bit scattered. Bands like Dimmu Borgir took the genre to an over the top extreme with their last release 'Death Cult Armageddon' with songs that were so bloated that they almost developed a genre of their own, sort of an Indiana Jones Metal. It didn't take long before a backlash began and people started to complain that Black Metal had drifted too far from it's roots and bands began to lose sight of what made it distinct to begin with. Whether or not the tides will shift remains to be seen but when Darkthrone releases new material with lyrics like 'Nothing to prove/ Just a hellish rock n' roll freak/ You call your metal black/ It's just spastic, lame and weak', you know that some are calling for a change.

This brings us to Enslaved, a band that has certainly justified their brand of Norwegian Black Metal but has since chosen to evolve in a way that elevates them into far more interesting territory. Like Opeth, Enslaved has in a way evolved by seemingly de-evolving, or digging up the past. Lately these two bands have recorded music that easily could have been found on 70's psychedelic or prog records adding organ instrumentation and taking more time to focus on dynamics and groove based riffs. This isn't to say that they've abandoned their black metal foundation, just listening to Grutle's vocals is enough to distinguish them in that sense but they've clearly made a shift on their two most recent releases (Isa and Ruun) that proves their willingness to take chances.

Here's a video of the first 'single' from Ruun called Path to Vanir. It's proof alone that Vikings are no longer myth and have traded in their swords and clubs for Les Paul's, SG's and Rickenbacker's. Watch the video now, then again tomorrow and I swear you'll be hooked. Like all good music it requires patience and after a few listens you will find yourself rewarded. For those of you complaining about David Gilmour and Roger Waters not making up don't worry, Enslaved are happy to be your friends, as proven in this song.

Sidenote: Although I am not Norwegian I will do my best to justify naming my children Norwegian names, Grutle?? Ivar?? Awesome. 

Please listen to more of their songs at their MYSPACE.

Indiana Jones John Williams Metal

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


1. Here's the new Lamb Of God single. Sounds pretty good, a bit more straighforward. The production is amazing, of course. A whole lot of Phil Anselmo/Pantera in there.

2. This is exciting (and too clever to be fair).

Friday, June 16, 2006


If you've been with the Beard for while now you may remember a previous post I did where I featured an artist that went by the name St. Vincent. Now despite the fact that St. Vincents material doesn't necessarily contain the more common elements of 'heavy' music more frequently seen on this page I did stress that her songs did have a distinct heaviness to them.

So after some communication with the friendly Annie Clark of St. Vincent we now have a Chaosbeard first, a quick interview. Now, for those who read my previous post and thought 'AAAARGGH, this isn't METAL!?' well, fair enough and you're right it isn't, but come back in a few days and I'm sure they'll be something new for you to smash your face against the wall to. For those however that were open to it and hopefully liked what you heard please read on. From her work with the Polyphonic Spree to Hungarian composers and, well, it turns out there's even a touch of Chaos in this Saint.

CB: Firstly, where are you and how did your most recent show go?

AC:I am in Philadelphia, PA, about to jump in a van with 4 lovely men to play
the Knitting Factory (NYC) tonight. The shows have been lovely.

CB: I don't think I'm making a big stretch when I say that the Polyphonic Spree create some, shall we say, happy music. I would assume that the results of your solo material is a reflection of your natural approach to songwriting but do you think that the darker mood of the St Vincent stuff is somewhat triggered by the Spree's poppier optimism?

AC: I thought I was making happy music! Back to the drawing board...There's a
lot of black comedy in my songwriting simply because it amuses me. I
don't think it's a reaction to the optimism of the Spree. On some level,
I wish what naturally came out of my mouth was, "Everything's going to be
alright." But at this point in my life, I need to say, "let's do what
mary and joseph did, without the kid."

CB: When you're an artist that is given the freedom to write and create music on your own terms the idea of 'making it' takes on a different meaning (well that's at least how I see it). By this I mean that it's not so much about the 'fame and fortune' as it is just about being able to go out and play cool places with cool bands and expose your music to as many people as you can. Considering you've been at this for a while are you able to remember what went through your head when a one-in-a million chance suddenly became a reality? Like, ok, I'm going to be doing this for real?

AC: Life is more surreal than real most of the time. I remember playing my
first show with the Spree in Spain on in front of 30,000 people, when a
week earlier I was sitting in my bedroom in Texas
practicing the songs for the audition the next day. Or, one day sitting
in my room singing along to "Marquee Moon" and then getting the call that
Television asked me to open for them. I think it can be a very positive
thing to simply dream your life as you want it, work hard in that
direction, and then be pleasantly surprised. Reality is so fickle anyway.
It begs to be manipulated.

CB: If I pick up a guitar and play without concentrating on what I'm doing my instinct is to plant my palm on the bridge and chug or riff away. What would you say is your natural instinctive approach to the instrument?

AC: It depends on how much caffeine I've had that day. My uncle is Tuck
Andress, one of the world's best fingerstyle guitar players ever, so
genetically, I've tended to be more of a fingerstyle player. The pick is
a new world for me...foreboding, exciting new territory. And it depends
on the guitar. Some guitars beg to be abused, knocked around. Some
require a more delicate approach.

CB: A highlight from an exchange we'd previously had was when you'd mentioned that in high school you did a stint in, and I'm quoting you here 'a maiden/megadeth/metallica cover band'(YES!!). Now, despite the fact that the list of influences on your myspace page doesn't include the names Harris, Mustaine or Hetfield (clearly a mere oversight, clearly) do you think it's possible that that experience may have subconsciously affected the development of your songwriting? If not feel free to lie.

AC: The Metallica documentary on the making of the Black Album has affected me
more than any 8th grade renditions of "Enter Sandman" or "The Trooper"
ever could. Black comedy at it's finest! Truthfully, I've just been
waiting for the right time to throw in the old Hetfield growl and don the
Halford leather.

CB:Your songs are very textured and layered. Is this something that develops throughout the recording process or do you actually hear all those elements in a songs beginning stages?

AC: Some is all part of the grand vision, some is trial and error.
I've found that if I have a clear vision of the song's meaning (lyric,
etc), arranging becomes very easy.

CB: I had said in my original posting that I considered your music to be heavy in its own way. One of the main reasons why I felt this way was because of your ability to create tension. Now tension can be difficult to convey in under four minutes but you have the ability to do this. Is this balance something you're aware of?

AC: I can't say, "people," because maybe I can't speak for everyone, but I
need to freak out once in a while. Right? Tension is only as good as
the release.

CB: Going back to your influences. When my ears hear the song 'All My Stars Aligned' I pick up melodic hints of John Lennon and sonic elements of Brian Wilson, two artists you cite as inspiration. Are these hints intentional or do you think that their styles have been so firmly embedded into you that they are naturally revealed?

AC: I have no qualms about admitting that "All My Stars Aligned" is my love
letter to Plastic Ono band-era John Lennon. I love you, Johnny.

CB: Lastly, is there still a place in Annie Clarks heart for heavy music? If so do you have any examples? Maybe even a song, new or old, that you think rules?

AC: Oh hell yes. It depends on what you mean by "heavy" music. Loud,
distorted guitars? Yes, if the expression behind it moves me. I like
music that scares me and sometimes the scariest words aren't screamed
but whispered with the most frightening intention. Nick Cave's "Red
Right Hand" still gives me chills. Gyorgy Ligeti's music is staggering
and scary as hell. Oh! Some of the most fun I've had was getting
kicked in the shins at a Lightning Bolt concert!

This girl's good, expect to hear more from her.



Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Although it may seem as though close to all major metal bands come from either the United States or Scandinavia to actually believe this would remarkably ignorant. Metal as a genre is actually at a point now where fathers and even grandfathers are fans meaning that its influence from the late eighties and early nineties has not only reached interesting places but also spawned bands.

This point ties in nicely with something that I've mentioned quite a bit which is how Metal music is influenced by its environment. So for example, the dark, gloomy and in some perspectives, oppressed culture and landscape of Norway created, well Norwegian Black Metal. Or the Sunset Strip biker lifestyle of California created Hair Metal and so on. Now, not to say that these are examples of places that
don't have a distinct culture but compare the images of culture that they invoke to that of say, Jerusalem. Now that's some heavy duty culture.

This brings us to Melechesh, a pretty special band. How often can you read a bands bio that states that they released a 7" EP in 1996 and went on to perform several successful shows in the Holy Land? Let me know. Aside from a few EP's they've put out three full-length records but didn't fully hit their stride until 2003 when they put out Sphynx, an album that is without a doubt very metal but with unmistakable trademarks of their cultural history. To quote their site, "this album presents the bands Mesopotamian/Sumerian Metal in a more aggressive and intricate manner", safe to say that not many bands will be able to say that. In other words, KILLER!

In all honesty Purifier of the Stars will speak for itself. The drum production is very very clean and sounds awesome and the vocal element is in a way the main hint of Black Metal. Aside from those things it's well...Mesopotamian? Or dare I say...Sumerian? How about thrashy-death and pretty damn good.

According to their site the new album was to come out early this year but production/mix issues have delayed it until early fall. This means that it will be released right around the time that they play the one-off Sacrifice reunion show in Toronto. Read that last sentence again if your jealousy hasn't quite sunken in yet.

To read the
very positive and articulate AMG review of Sphynx go here.

Melechesh website.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


As if having Thomas Haake in his band wasn't enough, Meshuggah's evil genius Fredrik Thordendal released a solo record and had a drummer named Morgan Agren stir up the rhythmic frenzy. At least he was generous to keep Haake involved and put him behind the mic for a pretty twisted vocal performance. The record is titled 'Sol Niger Within' and despite the fact that it is now out of print it would be worthwhile searching for as it is really something special. It has about twenty-something tracks but it plays as one continuous metal-meets-jazz-fusion science experiment of a song complete with typical Meshuggah-esque spiraling whirlpool riffage, a screaming girlfriend and an amazing saxophone solo.

Here's a video taken from Agren's DVD which features Thordendal. Together they are playing sections from Sol Niger as well as just generally stuffing enormous pieces of humble pie down the throats of aspiring musicians. If Frank Zappa were alive today he'd probably want these guys in his band.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


There are a pant-load of things that attract me Metal music. Too many for me to bother getting into now but it’s not really that complicated to figure them out. One thing that applies to this post though is quite simply the attitude of it. Yeah, it sounds pretty lame but it’s true. Sometimes you just can’t deny a raised clenched fisted moment courtesy of a good bit of attitude in your music. Obviously Metal isn’t the only music where attitude plays a factor which is why if I’m not listening to it I’m usually enjoying Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Halen and The Allmans. That’s some serious clenched fist motorcycle rock with some attitude to spare.

So, while the previously mentioned bands are now considered classic rock they were not labeled as such when they were first starting out. This is interesting because in our modern age of flash in the pan rock it happens all too often where “this new band is so classic rock maaaan”. No they’re not, they’re just rock with no chance of becoming classic. Just because you’re from Australia and you play chords doesn’t make you AC/DC mainly for two reasons, the songs aren’t as good, and Angus Young. Just because you play slow blues based riffs doesn’t make you Sabbath for four reasons, the songs aren’t as good, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Supernaut. And lastly, just because you play blues licks and have a high pitched singer sure as hell doesn’t make you Led Zeppelin for forfty reasons. Most notably being groundbreaking production, crazy tunings, stunning acoustic songs, Page, Plant, Jones and the greatest rock drummer ever John Bonham (it’s the high-hat, you should know what I’m talking about).

Ugh, this post is stressing me out. Anyway, this brings me to Priestess, a band from Montreal who I’m pleased to say are showing a bunch of potential. They’re not hiding their influences but they’re willing to take those influences and craft them into a sound that defines them as opposed to adding themselves to the pile of imitators. They also write catchy songs with good melodies and have a good understanding of how to keep things interesting. This being said, and given my devotion to the Allman Brothers Band, the fact that they utilize harmonized guitar lines is a sure-fire way to reel me in.

Talk to Her – Good clean rock with a steady fist-pumping pace and a super catchy chorus. Are those maracas? Nothing like some Latin percussion to stir things up. It’s clear that these guys respect the importance of guitar tone and don’t feel the need to hide behind a mess of dirty gain.

Their MYSPACE has a few more songs from their solid record Hello Master which looks like is getting a big-time re-release. Good for them. They’re also touring right now (I don’t think they actually stop touring so it would probably be more worth mentioning if they weren’t on the road, lucky for you they are). They’re playing the Horseshoe this Thursday June 8th so check them out.

Sidenote: If you here someone say that ______ is the new Van Halen you can punch them in the neck screaming chaosbeard.

Sidenote part2: There will never be another Van Halen.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


There's nothing like being really impressed by a band that you expected very little from. Especially when you'd heard them before and not been convinced. I saw Chimaira a few years ago when they opened for Soilwork and I don't know, maybe I wasn't in the mood but I just couldn't get into it. They're newest record came out last summer and I probably would never have given it a chance either had I not read the review on Blabbermouth. It was pretty positive and most importantly stressed the fact that it was a rewarding listen if given the chance. I'm glad I gave it the chance.

These guys really dug deep with this self-titled album. Lots and lots of riffs, solid grooves and it gets better and better every time you listen to it. For a while I just kept going back to it and I still do. It's like they found a style that really worked for them and went to town with it.

One of the things about this record that really stands out is their positive abuse of chugging low riffage combined with fast double-bass drumming. If you're familiar with Morbid Angel you'll know what I'm talking about. This album has so much of that but it's just so damn catchy that I'll be damned if you don't nod your head to it. The best way for me to describe their music is that it's really satisfying. Those of us who listen to metal know what it's like to feel the anticipation of a great moment and these guys have seemingly mastered that 'moment'.

Pray for All - It was another tough choice for Chaosbeard but I went with this one because it captures what I'm talking about. Big big moments.
:15 - the riff/double bass, start nodding your head.
:59 - keep nodding your head but raise your fist in the air.
1:20 - while half-time sections can normally cause a song to lose momentum it is welcome this time because it is fore-shadowing a killer moment.
2:12 - killer moment.
So the song pretty much carries on ruling while introducing riff after riff with the odd lead showing up. Seriously, give this full album a chance because it's really memorable and worthwhile.

Their MYSPACE has a few more songs from the new album, one being the first song called 'Nothing Remains' which has the same type of 'moment' at :47. Prepare to be satisfied.

Sidenote: A Chimaira is some kind of mythic beast with two heads, one being a lion the other a goat, the body is half of each animal and the tail is a snake. The cover of the new record is the three skulls of these animals and they form a triangle. It looks pretty cool.