Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Rev passes away

Avenged Sevenfold drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan has passed away. He was found dead in his home in California on Monday (December 28th). It is reported that he died of natural causes.

A statement from the band said: “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing today of Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan. Jimmy was not only one of the world’s best drummers, but more importantly he was our best friend and brother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jimmy’s family and we hope that you will respect their privacy during this difficult time. Jimmy you are forever in our hearts. We love you.”

Condolences go out to Sullivan’s family, friends and band mates.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rage Against The Machine clinch X-mas Number 1

If you’ve been unaware of this campaign of the last few weeks then you must have been living under a rock, seriously.

Rage Against The Machine have toppled the Simon Cowell and X-Factor juggernaut by ascending to the Christmas number one in the UK. While the race was close it became unlikely at times but now X-Factor winner Joe McElderry must sorrowfully mope around in the barren lands of No. 2. A response from both Joe and Cowell is still being waited upon.
It all began as a seemingly amiable Facebook group, set up by fan Jon Morter rallying people together to buy Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name” and bring it to the Christmas number 1. The campaign was in retaliation to Simon Cowell and X-Factor's iron tight grip of the Christmas top spot of the last few years. The winner of this year’s glorified karaoke contest (merely lacking a pub setting) Joe McElderry found himself pitted against the political angst band, as he covered the calamitous Disney tune of fucking Hannah Montana fame, “The Climb”.

At first the attempt seemed somewhat fruitless. Sure, people were joining and buying but the mass support it needed wasn’t there to realistically reach number one, if anything at the time it was looking at a measly landing at number 15 or thereabouts. However that all changed when Rage Against The Machine, themselves, caught wind of the campaign and jumped on board to promote it.

Thus, sales skyrocketed in the days leading up to the deadline of December 20th. RATM appeared on BBC radio to chime in with their two cents on the situation. They damned the X-Factor as the vacuous tripe that it garnishes and empathised with the real pain we all feel in this world right now. Furthermore, the band performed “Killing In The Name” on air and fearlessly included the legendary refrain “FUCK YOU! I won’t do what you tell me” resulting in the performance being cut off. To further push for sales they announced that if they win they’ll play a free UK show. Unsurprisingly, this added fuel to the campaign’s fire. Details of that show are now eagerly anticipated of course!

Additionally, all profits the band made from these sales will go towards charity.

Simon Cowell lambasted the campaign from the get go, calling it “stupid” and “cynical.” Joe McElderry, himself rather embarrassingly stated in an interview that he had never heard the song. Then upon actually hearing it, branded the classic as “dreadful.” “They can't be serious! I had no idea what it sounded like. It's dreadful and I hate it. How could anyone enjoy this? I wouldn't buy it. It's a nought out of ten from me. Simon Cowell wouldn't like it. They wouldn't get through to boot camp on The X Factor - they're just shouting” the twat continued.

McElderry seems to be fighting off RATM for the Irish top spot this X-mas, the final results on that have yet to surface. But this campaign was centred on the UK charts. On December 19th the day before D-day saw “The Climb” 9,000-11,000 sales above Rage. Unfortunately it seemed that with the end approaching the grannies and 13 year old girls were vehemently lapping up the X-Factor winner. However with only hours to go 7Digital claimed the race was still tight.

Now, it’s official and it was tight. But with resilience the RATM fans and anti-X-Factor hordes made some history and wiped a smug little grin off Simon Cowell’s face. Granted, he’s still a beneficiary within Sony meaning that regardless of who won, he pocketed. But this campaign wasn’t about who made profits but rather a majority of music fans who wanted something real seizing the spotlight and for the pub karaoke rats of X-Factor that have molested the Christmas number one for years to have no hollow victories to bask in. Merry Christmas!

Getcha Pull! A Tribute To Dimebag Darrell

2009 marks the fifth anniversary of the tragic murder of Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott, one of metal’s most beloved figures. The eulogies have been seemingly non stop since that horrific night on December 8th 2004 and here, five years on it’s only appropriate that the biggest, most lavish honour is to be paid, thanks to Metal Hammer magazine.
Assembled here are some of the most formidable metal acts of the current era, all hammering out their renditions of classic Pantera tunes with the intent of raising another glass to Dime.

This tribute begins in an initially odd sombre fashion, but considering the vibe of the tune and the homage it seems fitting. Zakk Wylde plays out the grave and harrowing “Suicide Note Pt.!1”. Wylde tenders an unusually deviating and extended version but still replete with its poignancy.

There’s then a drastic shift to Pantera’s mega anthem “Fucking Hostile” beaten out by Machine Head, which is drenched in an even more punky vigour. But strangely Robb Flynn’s vocals see a cleaner production, all abounding with some graciously heavier guitar work. Avenged Sevenfold rendition of “Walk” returns here too, remaining the same basic cover.

But upping the eminence, UK metal upstarts Malefice groove fearlessly through one of Pantera’s ultimate staples, “I’m Broken”. But then there’s another shift, this in the way of further calamity. Evile’s contribution to this tribute is outright bitter sweet, as their covering of “Cemetery Gates” is the last recording the band ever made with bassist Mike Alexander who tragically passed away this year. The song is strangely prophetic considering its air and here it serves as not only a remembrance of Dime, but Mike too.

Pretty much each track here is one of Pantera’s most lauded, like “Mouth For War”, duplicated by Biohazard. Chimaira run through “Slaughtered”, with Mark Hunter conveying an odd vocal delivery. Their peers in Unearth then pleasing thunder through “Sandblasted Skin”, the closer of the wholly underrated The Great Southern Trendkill. Throwdown, who’ve resorted to plenty of Pantera worship in recent efforts also snuggle up nicely in the collection with their cover of “Becoming”.

This Is Hell, covering “Rise” provides some welcome change, showing that Pantera weren’t just massively influential to metalheads but formulated effects in hardcore circles too. The Long Island hardcore noiseniks fearlessly meddle with the tune, putting their own spin on it.

While some renditions are underwhelming like Kiuas thrashing through “This Love” feeling somewhat lacklustre, this tribute CD is a fitting commemoration to one of metal’s most sorely missed players.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Dark Tranquillity track

Swedish melodic death metal veterans Dark Tranquillity have released a new track from their forthcoming new album, the highly anticipated We Are The Void. The track “Dream Oblivion” is available to listen to below, or at the band’s myspace HERE.

Stylistically, the melodic riffs are in tact played alongside haunting atmosphere initially. Vocally, Mikael Stanne remains coarse avoiding clean vocals entirely on this route. Keyboards sway with sharp and astute riffs which also stay rigidly in Dark Tranquillity’s comforted melodic territory. “Dream Oblivion” leaves promising expectations in its wake; it’s far from anything shockingly brilliant but certainly raises the bar for We Are The Void.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Túcan Interview

I sat down with Sligo acoustic instrumentalists Pearse Feeney and Donal Gunne of Túcan to discuss how they came to be, their debut record Aliquot Strings, the current state of the band and what 2010 holds for them. Click HERE to read the interview.

Monday, December 14, 2009

… and the Big 4 will share a stage

The Sonisphere Festival in Poland and Czech Republic have confirmed that the Big 4 of thrash – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax will play together… on the same stage… on the same day. Yes, you read that right!

After over two decades of rivalries, animosity, classic albums, countless tours and plenty of blood, sweat and tears the Big 4 will actually share a stage. Metal fans across the globe can collectively let out one big “fuck yeah!!!”

It’s an understatement to say that dreams have materialised here and with more dates promised the news couldn’t come any sooner!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009: End of year report

Before we start let’s make one thing crystal clear. 2009 has simply been a ridiculously phenomenal year for stunning records. Though yes, there have been a few duds and a couple of vomit drenched turds along the way, but overall the year has seen jaw dropping debut records, albums from hungry young bands, established acts asserting their greatness and the old guard reinvigorating themselves.
Top 30 Albums of 2009
Starting in positive fashion, The Grind That Annoys’ top 30 albums of the year:

Click the "standout track" to listen
30 - Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration PlagueIn 2009, Cannibal Corpse are more important than ever. Death metal is enjoying a glorious resurgence and who better than the pioneers themselves to be still leading the pack and releasing quality albums? Exactly! And of course, Evisceration Plague is one such album.Standout track: Shatter Their Bones

29 - Propagandhi - Supporting CasteOn paper Supporting Caste sounds dull as dishwater but after repeated spins these tunes will become effortlessly lodged in your head. There are certainly enough riffs to do so with the title track laying testament to that, and a cover of “Come To The Sabbat”, though odd is a pleasing inclusion.Standout track: Supporting Caste

28 - Absu – Absu
If Absu didn’t make anything of this record than they were possibly looking at drifting off into oblivion. But thankfully this self titled saw a re-invigoration of the Texan black metal crew, with a new style and approach in tow.
Standout track: Between The Absu Of Eridu & Erech

27 - Zu – CarboniferousPossibly one of the most fun releases of the year. Instigating with the chaotic experimental jazz of “Ostia” then through punchy number after punchy number, Carboniferous just bathes in its inexorable rasp while also becoming strangely accessible.
Standout track: Ostia

26 - Shining – IV/ Klagopsalmer
Klagopsalmer is more than likely going to split a few Shining fans. Vocalist Kvarforth delves into melodic singing and it’s all wrapped up by a much cleaner production. But this release still maintains the vitriol and melancholy that is so associated with Kvarforth and Shining.
Standout track: Plågoande O'Helga Plågoande

25 - Amesoeurs – AmesoeursExperimentalism is becoming more and more prevalent in black metal and Amesoeurs attest to that. This French troupe unfortunately split after this record’s release over failing to agree on their future direction but that takes nothing away from their vivacious melding of black metal and shoegaze into this enthusing cacophony.
Standout track: Au Crépuscule de Nos Rêves

24 - Wardruna - Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga
Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga was an entirely unexpected triumph. Led by Kvitrafn but also involving former Gorgoroth mainman Gaahl, Wardruna are a mesmerising assemblage of musicians channelling their Norwegian and Viking heritage into a hypnotic delivery of folk.
Standout track: Algir – Tognatale

23 - Kreator - Hordes Of ChaosHordes Of Chaos is perhaps not quite of the same quality as its predecessor, Enemy Of God. But Kreator still released a scorcher of a thrash record that oozes all the elements that makes them a truly punishing and respected band.
Standout track: Demon Prince


22 - Trigger The Bloodshed - The Great DepressionWith a new vocalist and a ridiculous amount of momentum these young Bath men swiftly recorded their second record, the follow up to Purgation. The Great Depression is straight to the point death metal from hungry upstarts with nothing to lose and everything to gain.Standout track: The Infliction Of Tophet

21 - Heaven & Hell - The Devil You KnowSome bands are happy to rest on their laurels and let victories of yore do the talking; not Heaven & Hell. The Devil You Know sounds like a band desperate to be noticed with Dio hitting soaring notes and Tony Iommi peeling off momentous riffs effortlessly - one of the most striking conquests of the year.Standout track: Eating The Cannibals 
20 - Wolves In The Throne Room - Black CascadeAs mentioned earlier, black metal has been enduring change aplenty and Wolves In The Throne Room can lay claim to be the leaders. Black Cascade is a powerful and somewhat dramatic trek for the ears, pounding its way to vexing yet engaging airs.Standout track: Ex Cathedra 

19 - In Case Of Fire - Align The PlanetsThe Co. Armagh lads had been threatening to make some vibrations for a while. Playing storming sets to massive crowds at the likes of Download and Rock AM Ring, it came as a surprise that they would spend so long unsigned. That all changed earlier this year with Align The Planets, a massively Muse/Biffy Clyro influenced record heaving with choruses and hooks the size of islands. Standout track: Plan A

18 - My Dying Bride - For Lies I SireAs far as melancholy is considered it would be difficult to challenge My Dying Bride. While they’ve earned the right to call themselves veterans, For Lies I Sire could be a contender for being their strongest effort; if not, certainly in the latter half of their career. From the moment Aaron Stainthorpe murmurs his first lyric on “My Body, A Funeral”, For Lies I Sire swans morosely to its dispirited yet faintly pleasing close.
Standout track: Echoes From A Hollow Soul

17 - Steven Wilson – InsurgentesVeering slightly away from his day job with Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson’s debut solo record Insurgentes is a remarkable effort incorporating all the elements and then some that make Wilson such a noteworthy songwriter, the closing title track straightforwardly accentuates that claim.
Standout track: Insurgentes

16 - Sunn O))) - Monoliths & DimensionsSunn O))) are an esoteric entity in heavy music today with many just not understanding their droning soundscapes. But fortunately there are those that do “get” them. But Monoliths & Dimensions sees a slight swerve from their usual sound, collaborating with a Viennese choir and a string and brass section conducted by Eyvind Kang but of course still sticking with vocalist, Mayhem’s Attila Csihar. Top to bottom M&D is utterly astonishing.
Standout track: Alice ("Alice" is unavailable to play now, but click
HERE to listen to "Big Church")

15 - Alice In Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue
Alice In Chains’ recording return had the potential to go horrifically wrong. But for their first album in 14 years and with new vocalist William DuVall, AIC seized your heart for this outstandingly emotive record where themes such as remembrance and new beginnings sway gently together. The victory march begins.
Standout track: All Secrets Known 
14 - Pearl Jam – BackspacerPearl Jam are one of the greatest rock bands of all time for a reason, and that reason is records like this. Ever since their 1991 debut Ten, Pearl Jam have failed in releasing a dud and Backspacer passionately continues that course with the likes of the punchy vigour of “Gonna See My Friend” or the enticingly gorgeous melodies of “Speed Of Sound”.
Standout track: Speed Of Sound

13 - Megadeth – Endgame

Predecessor, United Abominations was where Megadeth returned to the splendour that’s always been associated with them and from there it could only go uphill. Endgame is the peak. It also saw the recording debut of virtuoso guitarist Chris Broderick and the record swells with unyielding riffs and a ridiculous amount for musicality. So, for album number twelve Dave Mustaine can accept a resonant round of applause.
Standout track: Bite The Hand

12 - Devin Townsend – Ki
Ki is the first instalment in The Devin Townsend Project, a four part series of albums each indulging in four different styles. It’s difficult to pin down the style of Ki though. It owes a great debt to My Bloody Valentine for its at times shoe-gaze quality but simultaneously, is wholly in its own league. When it gently swoons it does so uncontested – a relaxing but still invigorating listen.
Standout track: Ki

11 - Scale The Summit - Carving Desert CanyonsScale The Summit could potentially be huge, as far as instrumental bands are concerned. This is their second record proper but the breakthrough that could lead to bigger things. They’ve already got Dream Theater bringing them on tour! But that means nothing if the songs and skills aren’t there and they are here in abundance. There’s technicality but no wankiness, which is something to be reckoned with. Across the 8 tracks here there’s a steady build to the truly awe-inspiring close of “Giants”.
Standout track: Giants

10 - Isis - Wavering RadiantFifth studio album, Wavering Radiant continues these post metal innovators’ relentless trajectory. Never have they released a record that could even be vaguely considered a disappointment and Wavering Radiant stands proudly next to particular career bests Oceanic and Panopticon. It ethereally strides (“Ghost Key”), inescapably creeps to deafening heights (“20 Minutes/40 Years”) and by closer, “Threshold Of Transformation” one’s left winded with wonder.
Standout track: Ghost Key
9 - Animals As Leaders - Animals As LeadersWow is really the only word that could do Animals As Leaders justice. Former Reflux guitarist Tosin Abasi returns with this instrumental project which is dripping with dizzying guitar technicality and breathtaking crescendos, melded with occasional electronics and startling bass skills. It’s all then focussed into twelve simply magnificent tracks. One of the best debut records of the decade.Standout track: On Impulse
8 - Lamb Of God – Wrath
This came as no surprise. Wrath was the album all Lamb Of God fans knew they’d make to follow up the world beating Sacrament. Wrath takes no prisoners and kills at will. A barrage of riffs with Randy Blythe’s blade gargling vocals relentlessly push and push resulting in one of the finest modern metal records of not only this year, but the last ten.
Standout track: Reclamation

7 - Pelican – What We All Come To Need
Pelican’s last record City Of Echoes set a startling new standard for the band. So, how do you go about topping your strongest effort? There’s no particular method just go for it. That’s what Pelican did and while time will tell whether What We All Come To Need bests COE one can certainly gauge that it’s a stunning album, with riffs and ambience in profusion.
Standout track: Specks Of Light

6 - Porcupine Tree – The IncidentThe Incident is a 14 tracked 55 minute conceptual piece. There are few bands of the modern era that can pull off something ambitious like this and Porcupine Tree are one of them. Opening in dramatic fashion with “Occam’s Razor”, The Incident sprawls across varying styles and approaches, integrating enthralling allures like “Time Flies”, “Octane Twisted” and the exceptionally beautiful “I Drive The Hearse”. Dark, introspective, captivating and sophisticated.
Standout track: I Drive The Hearse (only live excerpt available)
5 - Biffy Clyro – Only RevolutionsTwo years ago Biffy Clyro invaded the mainstream with Puzzle, gathering a hefty fan base in the process. The album was rightly deified as their best… until now. Not feeling the pressures of conforming to typicality though Biffy delivered on all levels with Only Revolutions, an album that will only strengthen their course but with one oh so sweet element in tact – their own terms.
Standout track: Whorses

4 - Killswitch Engage – Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage claimed that they stepped out of their “comfort zone” on this self titled effort. While they failed on meeting that promise, the record still strangely delivered on all fronts. It emitted the colossal poignancy of the Killswitch we know and love, bursting with earth shaking choruses, hooky riffs, unrelenting drumming, and Howard Jones further proving that he has possibly the most gifted pair of lungs in metal today. It lacked the versatile deviation many had hope for but when you’ve tunes this good it’s easy to let it slide.
Standout track: Lost

3 - Mastodon – Crack The Skye
Crack The Skye was ridiculously hyped, but even with all the anticipation nothing quite prepared anyone for the majesty unravelled in this complex diadem. Akin to a hypnotic fable, Crack The Skye is a musical journey of overwhelming zeniths that only be truly appreciated when listened to from start to finish. An immense and startling accomplishment only dimly describes it.
Standout track: The Last Baron (excerpt)

2 - Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings
The modern prog metal kings gave each and every one of us more reasons to exalt them with tenth effort Black Clouds & Silver Linings, arguably their best record in ten years. Mammoth riffs on opener “Nightmare To Remember” serve up BC&SL as a lush piece of music through to the 20 minute closer, the vast, undeniably grandiose sprawl of “The Count Of Tuscany”.
Standout track: The Count Of Tuscany

1 - Between The Buried And Me – The Great Misdirect
Between The Buried And Me have, simply put delivered a masterpiece with The Great Misdirect, one that will be sanctified and with justice lapped up by many a new fan to come. 2007’s Colors had a similar effect but BTBAM took on this unruly undertaking and viciously, yet serenely and meticulously topped it. They did so with vivacious zeal and fervour. This is evident by the ferocious rampages and delicate, soaring climaxes that are rife throughout its 59 minutes. The Great Misdirect is an irrefutably riveting and absorbing listen - album of the year was a no brainer.
Standout track: Swim To The Moon

Top 5 EPs of 2009:
5 - Jesu – InfinityInfinity is a one track effort from Justin Broadrick’s Jesu, clocking at an impressive 49 minutes. It’s a strangely soothing yet at times abrasive listen which serves for an enthralling merge.

4 - Alright The Captain - 123This ADD soundtracking debut effort from post rock outfit Alright The Captain does a lot of things particularly well but mostly leaves you begging for more. A debut full length album couldn’t come sooner.

3 - Pelican – EphemeralEphemeral was the precursor to this year’s monumental What We All Come To Need, featuring the engrossing “Embedding The Moss” and a heart stopping rendition of Earth’s “Geometry Of Murder”.

2 - Löbo – AlmaAlma is hauntingly ethereal and effortlessly plunges the listener’s world into darkness. It’s heart crushingly heavy and indoctrinates a vast and sprawling cadence unravelled across its opulent 4 tracks of experimental doom.

1 - Jesu – Opiate SunJustin Broadrick explores new regions on Opiate Sun, leaving behind most of the drone sounds of prior releases. Here, there’s unavoidable poppy hooks and melody. Again, the listen is too fleeting but for its duration it becomes wholly alluring and engaging.

Disappointing albums of the year:

Chimaira – The InfectionIn 2003 Chimaira shone bright with The Impossibility Of Reason and since then their records have been high in quality but just not at the same height. The Infection fluctuates and while there are some eminent moments, in the end it leaves a deficient mood behind.

Muse – The ResistanceThe Resistance had the potential to be monumental, but all it did was remind us that Muse peaked creatively on Absolution. By no means a bad record and certainly a tad mad, but The Resistance just isn’t up to scratch.

Slayer – World Painted BloodSlayer are Slayer, that’s established. World Painted Blood is a good thrash record but with the standard being where it is now WPB’s substance will hinder it from being a great thrash record.

Worst albums of the year:
Hollywood Undead – Swan Songs
Words can’t be conjured; this was covered
HERE last April.
Julie Feeney – PagesPages is supposedly a sublime blend of artistry, but of course Julie Feeney’s press releases will say something like that. In truth it’s a dull and irksomely pompous record seething with pretentiousness and an air of snobbery.
Sepultura – A-LexThe band that still calls themselves Sepultura are still releasing albums and A-Lex is the latest instalment in their latter career slump. It’s a laborious trek but one that’s not as terrible as it’s lacking in a reason to even exist. Sepultura in 2009 sans Max and Iggor Cavalera = virtually nothing.
Chris Cornell – ScreamSimilarly click HERE. Chris Cornell, one of the most revered voices in modern rock, lays down his guitar, grabs a synthesizer or two and shacks up with Timbaland? Fuck off.
KASMS – Spayed

Spayed has some elements akin to Pages in that exhibits a near conceited impression of itself and where “forced esotericism” is exuded. Plus the song structures are a muddled mess and the production is horrendous, reminiscent somewhat of a grimy mire.

2009 had two rather sad incidents. On the 5th October Evile bassist Mike Alexander passed away tragically due to a pulmonary embolism while the band was on tour in Sweden. He was only 32.

The man, the myth, the legend that is Ronnie James Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer at the end of November. Thankfully, however the cancer has been caught in its early stages and treatment began immediately, get well soon Dio.

Hopes for 2010
Here’s a quick look at things to get excited about in the forthcoming year:

Rumours are still lolling around the net that Faith No More may very well enter the studio to record their first new batch of material since 1997. Here’s hoping.

2009 was to be Anthrax’s victorious stride back into the limelight. But with the Dan Nelson drama, the thrash vets found themselves frontman-less. But two “one-off” shows (come again?) with former vocalist John Bush has left fans eager for the man to return full time.

Decapitated are returning, over 2 years on from the tragic death of innovative drummer Vitek. Vogg has assembled an entirely new line-up with touring beginning in February and new record is expected later in the year. Interesting, to say the very least.

Ihsahn’s After is possibly going to be the first big release of the year with a January 25th release date slated. Listen to the new track “Frozen Lakes On Mars” HERE

Another fresh return comes in the form of the new Fear Factory who have already released a new song (HERE). The record, Mechanize is hitting us in February.

Cynic aren’t going to make us wait 15 years for some new material this time. Though, no new album is expected. An EP however containing one new song and four re-workings of Traced In Air tunes will be released in the first quarter of ’10.

Korn have returned to working with producer Ross Robinson, who produced their first two records. The new album is supposedly taking an older, more aggressive approach.

Opeth’s schedule will be largely cleared next year, but will be playing six exclusive shows to commemorate their 20th anniversary. Also, rumours have begun that Bloodbath will be hitting the festival circuit. Mikael Akerfeldt has discussed the possibility of a solo acoustic album, we’ll all just have to wait and see.

Anticipation will be ridiculously high also for Nevermore. They’re expected to drop their new record, The Obsidian Conspiracy in January/February.

Of course, one of the biggest releases next year will be from Iron Maiden. Information is painfully sparse and everyone will just have to wait.

Devin Townsend will release the two remaining albums in the Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction (allegedly his heaviest material ever) and Ghost, an ambient album. News is also making the rounds that Townsend will release a sequel album to 2007’s Ziltoid The Omniscient.

New albums are also expected from Down, Shining (Född Förlorare), Dillinger Escape Plan (Option Paralysis), Soulfly (Omen), Cephalic Carnage and the highly anticipated debut effort from Ne Obliviscaris.

There’s a countless more but we just haven’t got the time. Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Woeful cover versions Pt. 3

Trivium – For Whom The Bells Tolls
Recorded long before Ember To Inferno, Matt Heafy was only around 16 years old when Trivium made a balls of “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. A mixture of terrible sound quality and possibly Heafy’s voice not having even broken yet, made this 4+ minute long cover a truly woeful one.

Stefanie Heinzmann – The Unforgiven

Another Metallica one. What is it about Metallica tunes getting butchered? Does a teeny bopper German pop singer covering one of the formidable staples in Metallica’s repertoire really what we need? No, just no. Click
HERE to be horrified

Black Tide – Prowler
(Iron Maiden)
Black Tide seemingly have a wealth of support behind them, but to be honest it’s only the gimmick of their age that has garnered it. But, anyway this cover of the Maiden classic has a lot in common with their own material – bland and lacklustre.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Propagandhi & Protest The Hero - The Village 3/12/09

For this outing in The Village there’s an eclectic mix of hardcore and some intense technicalities, all delivered from Strike Anywhere, Protest The Hero and veterans Propagandhi.

Strike Anywhere [7/10] show little let up in their set going wall to wall with power and a stripped down oomph in their show. Having a couple handfuls of seasoned fans in attendance only adds to the positives of their short but sweet set.

The response, particularly, at the front for Protest The Hero [9/10] is deafening as they launch into the frenzied "Bloodmeat". The night’s set list is questionable as first album Kezia is eschewed and the first eight tracks of Fortress make up the performance. It’s definitely unexpected but considering the merciless vigour with which they deliver it’s a welcomed development.

Guitarists Tim Millar, Luke Hoskin and bassist Arif Mirabdolgabhi simply stun in their technical majesty displaying near unholy abilities. Meanwhile Rody Walker pushes his lungs into uncharted territory screeching and gutturally growling his way through "Bone Marrow" and "Sequoia Throne" et al.

Their show is their first in Ireland, one long overdue and on this occasion they’re the standout act. Furthermore the guys are more than happy to greet fans after the show and pose for photos, which is always a plus.

Propagandhi [8/10] certainly don’t fail in keeping the unstoppable energy going, inciting mayhem in the pit. Much of the new material from this year’s Supporting Caste often stand out as highlights with the title track and "The Bangers Embrace" being just relentless. The only downside of their set being front man Chris Hannah and bassist Todd Kowalski taking time between songs to rant somewhat about politics and war - blah blah we know we know war sucks. But that’s a minor complaint as top to bottom Propagandhi are solid as fuck.

But as the night draws to close there’s one thing that’s very clear, Protest The Hero rather convincingly stole the show.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Varg - Does anyone really care?

Earlier this year the infamous Varg Vikernes, of black metal fundamentalists Burzum was released from prison for the barbaric murder of Mayhem’s Euronymous in 1993 as well as the many church burnings he allegedly perpetrated and/or colluded in - he denies any such arson attacks. He has also been notorious holding some very far right political ideals and has been accused of homophobia and racism. When Vikernes, under the musical pseudonym Count Grishnackh was sentenced he was merely 19.

The man has a reputation as colourful as a Europe album cover but with a heart and mind as black as the threatening murk of Lake Vostok.

This is a man who, on day release in October 2003, was caught on a motorway in a stolen Volvo with pilfered firearms including, an automatic rifle, a handgun, as well as knives, a gas mask, camouflage gear, a GPS system, a laptop and a fake passport. A few months were added to his sentence.

Regardless of being sectioned off from society in prison he still managed to record 2 albums while incarcerated, all on synthesizers - Dauði Baldrs and Hliðskjálf, both of which brazenly flatter with a sound that has become known as “dark ambient”. The latter of those two records was supposed to be the last Burzum album according to the man himself, but as you will see that is not to be the case.

In March of this year Vikernes obtained parole and was confirmed to have been released from prison on the 22nd May, he served 16 years out of the 21 year sentence, even after his atrocious mishap in 2003. He is, however, on probation. Throughout the summer Vikernes kept a surprisingly low profile, returning to his farm in Telemark. But we’ve now learned in the latter half of 09 that a book is planned and a new Burzum album.

In the early 90s Vikernes was involved in the intrinsic foundation of Norwegian black metal, a movement that has inexorably shaped extreme metal as we know it. Musically, Burzum along with Mayhem and Darkthrone sculpted a sound that could only be described as unadulterated evil. Prior to that, Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Bathory and Venom had all laid the groundwork, a foundation if you will, for the Norwegian extremists to build their malevolent and spiteful house of horrors.

Arrogance is rife in any scene, particularly if anything innovative is being carried out. Some characters stand out more than others. In the early half of the 90s Norway gave us some truly awe-inspiring inventiveness and just plain talented musicians and songwriters like Emperor, or most specifically their guitarist/vocalist (now, solo) Ihsahn.

Varg developed an annoying god complex in which he felt his music and “artistic expression” was worlds apart from his peers, he believed himself to be a visionary. But the truth of the matter is that he is not. Vikernes is a slightly below average song writer and musician. If his abilities spoke the volumes his ego does then no petty, childish church burnings, juvenile ramblings against the church and certainly no homicide would have been necessary. As being perfectly frank, they were acts of extreme attention seeking, not acting out on a “modern world gone mad”.

Thanks to Varg and his like-minded cohorts in the early 90s we had a damaged reputation for metal fans where many that simply enjoyed music with a darker edge were tarred with the same brush and dismissed as infantile hate machines. When, anyone with half a brain and some decency knew otherwise.

Moving on, after many years the egoism remains. His updates on burzum.org, displeasingly spell out that his unruly narcissism still exists within him.

He has become discontented with what black metal is considered in the 21st century as he feels, with gall in abundance, that this is his music, and that it has now been bastardised. But, that is not the case. Yes, he had a hand in the developing the second wave of black metal in Norway. Yes, he made a semi-classic record in Hvis lyset tar oss and the Aske EP. And yes, he still has some devoted fans to this day. But is it his music? The answer is a resounding and emphatic no.

Was black metal supposed to stay stationary? Was it to wait for Varg to be released and let him just pick up where he left off and continue his self-important tirade? No, it evolved… dramatically. Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon penetrated the mainstream. Shining deconstructed all templates and injected some harrowing amounts of melancholy. Emperor and Ihsahn relentlessly pushed all boundaries from sight and created astonishing works of arts. Wolves In The Throne Room have completely eschewed any preconceived notions of how a black metal band should sound. The list goes on and on

That same update posted last month divulged Vikernes’ not only his current state of mind but informed us of his new album Den Hvite Guden (The White God). He delves far into his rectal cavity to further extol himself as a visionary and belittle and dismiss the black metal genre as “tasteless and a low brow parody” and hopes that it meets its “dishonourable end as soon as possible.” Read the entire post HERE.

Supposedly Den Hvite Guden will be a polar opposite to the pop culture and entertainment of today that Varg so vehemently despises. The remainder of the post amiably describes how it may or may not sound.

Regardless of the lambasting aspects in this piece Den Hvite Guden will be greeted with open ears and an open mind. Curiosity will rein supreme, what will it sound like? Will it be a bastion for the negativity that seems to resonate from Varg? But, most importantly, will it be any good? It can be summed up in three words - time will tell. Thanks for reading and Varg, high five me brother!