Or a larger player, (this is customizable for size, just let me know)
Or a larger player, (this is customizable for size, just let me know)
Where does tech death end and prog death begin anymore?
It's becoming harder and harder to tell all the time. The new
Cognitive EP "The Horrid Swarm" is just another reminder of
how blurred the borders have become. Whether you love brutal
death metal, progressive shreddage, or some chocolate in my
peanut butter combination of these two “The Horrid Swarm” is
a can't miss.
Featuring the dueling guitar work of Rob Wharton, formerly with
The Adapt and Waking the Cadaver and lead guitarist Jake
Iannaco, Cognitive establishes its death metal bona fides early
with a ripping opening track "In the Form of a Drone" that both
showcases vocalist Scheenier Ramirez's intense powerful range
and a compelling progressive guitar solo.
Drops focusing on the so-called Haarp Machine intersperse
"Falling Skies" a more straight ahead death metal song that
showcases the blasts of drummer Mike Castro with just short
hints of the progressive side of the band.
"Numbered and Slaughtered" attacks the listener with more
blasts and dominating bass lines from Pete Ware before the
guitars take over with a compelling and very tasteful prog death
lead that will leave you smiling in pleasure.
On "Essence Oblivion" Ramirez is in full control until the most
specifically tech death solo on the record spirits us away and
then returns us to the controlled chaos of the vocal lines.
"The Horrid Swarm" ends with the title track, a 2:50 celebration
that brings together all of the influences that merge in this
unique sound. There's brutality and intensity sure enough but
the tune ends with a magical lead guitar that stops rather
abruptly and makes me want for more.
The cold ending is something Cognitive excels at. No long
fade outs here. When they bring their death metal power,
it's in your face. When it's gone it's gone. And now that it's
gone I'm ready for more Cognitive.
Give these guys your support. You won't be sorry. Check out
Cognitive on Facebook by Clicking Here
First let me say at the outset that I consider all five of the guys in Fallujah personal friends. My name is in the liner notes for this record as an alleged "notable individual." That's just full disclosure so you know I can't be completely unbiased when I say "The Harvest Wombs", now out on Unique Leader records, deserves five out of five stars, gets The Shields Seal of Approval, and earns my spot as the Death Metal Album of the Year.
One of the things most impressive about "The Harvest Wombs" is that it's hard to categorize it in just one of metal's tidy little sub-genres. Is it tech death? Yes certainly, but there are also atmospheric elements and black metal influences and much more.
The Harvest Wombs opens with some of those atmospheric feelings with "Alpha Incipient" but it doesn't end there. In fact, the opening track contains almost all of the elements that make the Harvest Wombs so compelling. There's Andrew Baird's very precise fills leading to Alex Hofmann's aggressive yet controlled vocals and a short Scott Carstairs solo that provides a hint as to why this young man has a big future ahead of himself as a metal guitar shredder god. Still none of it is over the top, instead it's very much in control as if these musicians know exactly where they want to lead us and how we're all going to make that journey.
This segues into the second track, Ritual of Godflesh, a short focused and intense piece introducing us to the concept of where the ancients spawned. Again a very controlled solo leads us to a cold ending.
As we "Become One," that demon is now awake, alive, and thriving behind Andrew Baird's insistent beats but then Fallujah surprises us again with a change of pace for Scott's soulful solo, a short bridge and then a return to a musical exploration that is both technical and artistic. All through it we imagine and wish we could hear better Rob Morey's precise bass tapping. Still, this is great stuff.
"Cerebral Hybridization", one of the signature tunes in Fallujah's set, again surprises us at the outset with some straight up power metal, a story of the fusing of human and alien species, and then another guitar solo that will set you into ecstasy whether you're a musician or just someone who loves to go on extended musical journeys.
Next comes my longtime favorite Fallujah song, "Prison of the Mind." This is a song that offers amazing tech death with guitar solos that never give up an inch of speed and wizardry while still managing to even be beautiful.
We take a break from Alex Hofmann's intensity for an instrumental that may go down as the very best song on this album. "The Flame Surreal" is an exploration of Scott Carstairs' and Rob Maramonte's collective brilliance. It's very fast, very technical, and yet it's the sort of thing you could imagine playing for a non-headbanger friend to prove that very fast very technical music can also be very artistic and intellectually compelling.
Alex meets us back with full throated brilliance at the start of "Enslaved Eternal Phenomenon", a tune about rebirth and reinvention that will make you sit up and take notice. Again, wait for the guitar solos and you will feel reborn yourself.
"Hallucination" will make you see visions as well, you will think you see demons dancing stirred up by more of Andrew's unmerciful blasts and bassist Rob's tapping.
We start to see the finish line but that too may be just hallucination in the penultimate song on "The Harvest Wombs", the title track. This is an all-instrumental exploration of musical ecstasy which again allows Fallujah to show off the atmospheric and black metal sides of their artistry while not disappointing the cravers of the brutal.
Another monster track, "Assemblage of Wolves" wraps up the "The Harvest Wombs" in a song that brings all of these themes together and wraps them up with shiny bow of pure metal.
On any band's first album, you look for the flaws and while "The Harvest Wombs" is by no means a perfect record, it far exceeds expectations for musicians who are so young. Best of all, there's room to grow for Fallujah, a band I predict has the potential to be as big as any band out there in the tech death space, certainly as big as a band like The Faceless. I can't wait to go along for the ride.
"The Harvest Wombs" by Fallujah gets a solid five out of five stars for me. Go buy it if you love extremely intricate, highly evolved, and overwhelmingly brilliant music.
Soulfulness is not a word you would normally associate with technical death metal but it’s exactly the right term to describe the range of emotions you will encounter on Celestial Pestilence from San Diego’s “Lord of War.” Riding on the powerful sounds of Alexx War’s insistent lead guitar work and Space Metal themed lyrics, this is an album that will engage your brain, energize your body, and ultimately touch your soul in a way that few in the genre, or any genre, seem capable of achieving.
Don’t get me wrong. Your emo sister will fucking hate this record because from start to finish this is music that will grab you by the throat and shake you with such violence that you have no choice but to bang your head. Death metal is an art form of such complexity and musicianship, you have to know what to listen for to find the soulfulness. On this record, if you look, you will find it. Those powerful emotions live in War’s sweeping leads on the title track, in the unabashed love of powerful breakdowns on songs like Bury Your Living and Warpath, inside a fascinating pyramids-inspired story on Hamunaptra, and ending with the satisfying trip that leads to The Awakening.”
“Lord of War” emerges from a burgeoning San Diego area metal scene that has brought us such luminaries as tech death wizards “Burning the Masses” and grindmasters “Cattle Decapitation.” Celestial Pestilence introduces us to a band that proves it has mastered the compulsory intricacies of the genre and shows “Lord of War” is now ready to lead a new generation of death metal warriors into a battle for our hearts, minds, and yes, souls. Sign me up for the ride.
The weekend before the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in 2011, I traveled to Geraldine's in West Springfield, Massachusetts to see a Shadows Fall local show and to finally get to meet up with my Facebook friend Kyle Leary of Western Massacre.
Here I discuss Western Massacre with Kyle, vocalist Matt Lentner, and Jeff Greene "the drumming machine" while sharing with them California's best cash crop. Hope you enjoy.
Constructed in the summer of 2010, Smaragos is a two-piece exploration of avant-garde cacophony. Partners in progressive, technical death metal giants Son of Aurelius, project architect Max Zigman and vocalist Riley McShane bring together influences ranging from the heaviest of heavy music to the most sublime of compositions of the last 700 years. Zigman assembles the mixture as both musician and studio engineer with exquisite attention to the details of recording, programming, mixing and mastering. McShane's vocal stylings help define the musical and lyrical themes of the Smaragos sound.
Released on March 29, 2011, the self-titled E.P. Smaragos also invites the talents of Ivan Munguia (Brain Drill/Arkaik), Alan "Sitar" Brown, and Michael De Martino to contribute to a sum that truly is greater than its parts.
Buy it here (Updated site):
This is what's so sucky about the economics of music today. The guys in Lazarus A.D. get signed to a significant label, put out a very solid record, and they're reduced to having to ask fans for money after getting burgled (I won't go into my rant here about the difference between robbery and burglary).
The band had the following to say about the incident:
“We just want to personally say thank you, to the fuck douche bags who smashed our vans window and stole $1500 and all our clothes and other personal items. All I can say is thank god we had the gear on stage or the fuckers would have stolen that as well.”
Dan Gapen : “they got every cent of band money, Social Security Cards and our birth certificates. Not to mention they took all of our clothes and hygiene items. Thank god we had our passports in our pockets.”
Anyway click the image above or here to donate to help these guys out. I gave 50 bux and if you have some loose change lying around and you like Lazarus A.D., throw it their way. It's not the same scope as Japan but your donation will have a much more direct and significant impact on the victims.
This is the news hook for a longer rant building about the way bands are compensated for their creative work and how something has to change. When a great band like this one has to ask for help on the road, it's a symptom of something much larger.
Thanks to Natalie Camillo for the heads-up on this.
Drove down to San Diego hoping to see Burning the Masses but they had to cancel due to sk8ing related injuries. Still got to see my buds in Fury Never Fades who I profiled in a recent column and who were better live than I expected and I expected good things. But the surprise of the night was Lord of War. This video isn't from the show I saw but the energy and technical skill definitely matches what I experienced.
Check these guys out and pay particular note to guitarist Alexx Walshaw's very soulful playing in a technical death metal context. Good shit.
One of the fun things about writing about music and having lots of cool friends (on social media anyway) is that every now and then someone just drops out of the blue, says we're from 30 minutes up the road and you might like us.
When one of the members of Aenimus did that to me today, I thought What the fuck? might as well listen to a little of it before bed just to be polite.
Now I'm no longer being polite. I'm saying you have to check this shit out. This is exactly the kind of music I love these days and it's great to find an example of technical progressive deathcore that I crave and here's more in the Bay Area (the 9 counties at least)
I think we still have to wait a couple of months for a full CD and to see them live, but it will be worth waiting for.
Originally I was going to drive down to Canoga Park just north of L.A. to see my buds in Fallujah and the wonderful Diskreet but when Diskreet had van problems and dropped off the tour, I decided to stay at home, save my vacation days, and go next month to San Diego to see Burning the Masses and Fury Never Fades.
Damn, looks like I missed a sick fucking show. Fortunately someone shot at least some of the Fallujah performance including this clip which features my favorite of their songs, Prison of the Mind.
The sound quality is amazingly clear with some nice close-ups of Scott Carstair's lead guitar work. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
My last couple of album reviews on The Metal Register have been for records that have really sucked hard so it's good to be reminded about great music out there.
One of my clearest wins in picking new up and coming bands has to be for San Diego (by way of Nebraska) shredders Fury Never Fades. If you love heavy music, you must check these guys out.
Now FnF is out with a very professional looking video for the song "This Declining Hour" Check this shit out and remember you heard them first here.
I don't know what you want for Christmas, but this will do quite nicely. Fresh off their win in the Shields Metal Album of the Year contest, Son of Aurelius is posting new riffage to make it easier for us all to cope with all of the bullshit of the holiday season. These guys are without a doubt on the road to world domination and I'll say I knew them when.
One of the two contenders for the Brian Shields Metal Album of the Year for 2010 is Burning the Masses, an abolutely sick display of breakdown intensive progressive death metal. Now Chris Valenzuela and the guys are putting out this very fun behind the scenes look at the recording of the band's November release Offspring of Time. Enjoy.
When I lived in Dallas, Mesquite was known primarily for its shitkickers and goatropers at the rodeo and it's high school football. I did witness and cover a pretty amazing tornado there in the mid-80's. But soon, I hope, Mesquite will be better known as the home of White Arms of Athena.
Certainly one of the things I'm looking forward to most in the new year is the release of Astrodama from WAoA. This music was recorded last year by Jamie King of BTBAM fame and cries out to be heard. The vocals aren't as heavy as what I usually like but the prog music more than makes up for it.
White Arms is posting two songs that you can sign up for right now and download. called Creationed and Recreationed and soon you'll be Athenaed too.
One of the most bizarre musical experiences ever is back. For the first time in about a decade, Godspeed You ! Black Emperor is back playing live shows together. This video is from All Tomorrow's Parties this past weekend in the U.K. For those of you unfamiliar, GYBE plays very haunting, vaguely heavy music while film loops play over and behind them.
This doesn't just have to be a YouTube phenomenon, a whole generation that feared it might not ever get to experience this band is in for a treat as Godspeed is heading out on a four month tour. Can't wait for the Great American Music Hall dates in S.F. in February.
12/7 | Manchester, UK | Academy
12/8 | Glasgow, UK | Barrowlands
12/12 | Bristol, UK | Ansom Rooms
12/13 | London, UK | Troxy
12/14 | London, UK | Troxy
12/15 | London, UK | Troxy
12/17 | Athens, GR | Gagarin 205
12/18 | Athens, GR | Gagarin 205
1/14 | Paris, FR | Parc de la Villette
1/15 | Brussels, BE | Cirque Royale De Bruxelles
1/17 | Helsinki, FI | Kulttuuritalo
1/19 | Amsterdam, NL | Paradiso
1/20 | Berlin, DE | Astra
1/22 | Poznan, PL | Eksulap
1/23 | Prague, CZ | Palác Akropolis
1/25 | Vienna, AT | Arena
1/26 | Bologna, IT | Estragon
1/27 | Milan, IT | Live Club
1/28 | Marseilles, FR | Espace et Café
1/29 | Barcelona, ES | Sala Apolo
1/30 | Madrid, ES | Joy Eslava
2/1 | Toulouse, FR | Le Bikini
2/2 | Diksmuide, BE | 4AD
2/16 | Vancouver, BC | Vogue Theatre
2/17 | Seattle, WA | Showbox at the Market
2/18 | Portland, OR | Crystal Ballroom
2/19 | San Francisco, CA | Great American Music Hall
2/20 | San Francisco, CA | Great American Music Hall
2/21 | San Francisco, CA | Great American Music Hall
2/22 | Pomona, CA | The Fox Theater
2/23 | Los Angeles, CA | Music Box at the Henry Fonda
2/27 | Tokyo, JP | ATP’s I’ll Be Your Mirror
3/14 | New York, NY | Terminal 5
3/15 | Brooklyn, NY | Masonic Temple
3/16 | Brooklyn, NY | Masonic Temple
3/17 | New York, NY | Church of St. Paul the Apostle
3/18 | New York, NY | Church of St. Paul the Apostle
3/19 | Philadelphia, PA | Trocadero
3/20 | Washington, DC | 9:30 Club
3/22 | Athens, GA | 40 Watt Club
3/24 | Nashville, TN | Cannery Ballroom
3/26 | Chicago, IL | Metro
3/27 | Chicago, IL | Metro
3/28 | Chicago, IL | Vic Theatre
3/29 | Detroit, MI | Majestic Theatre
4/22 | Toronto, ON | Lee’s Palace
4/23 | Toronto, ON | Lee’s Palace
4/24 | Toronto, ON | Lee’s Palace
4/26 | La Pêche, QC | Community Center
4/27 | Montreal, QC | Theatre Corona
4/28 | Montreal, QC | Theatre Corona
4/29 | Montreal, QC | Theatre Corona
Getting ready to interview Periphery today, that rascal Chris Lazzaro suggests I ask them about Chimp Spanner. I say, wtf is Chimp Runner and Lazzaro says, no it's Chimp Spanner and he confesses to listening to this band while asleep.
While I don't want to know most of what Lazzaro does in the sack, this is pretty fucking sick.. And I guess I have Torch Runner on the brain
We have another winner from that reknowned hotbed of metal music known to fans around the globe as Green River, Wyoming.
According to their MySpace, Cody, Caleb, and Ed have been playing together for ten years or half their lives (you do the math), first in a band ominously called "The Alliance" and more recently with Luke and Chris in Picture it in Ruins.
Even more recently they've hooked up with the brilliant North Carolina-based producer Jamie King of BTBAM fame to record a new CD of which there are two songs up on their My_ page. This is fantastic shit that shows an amazing range of influences and styles. I'm definitely looking forward to the complete record.
Don't blink because Picture it in Ruins is a band to keep an eye on.
Deathspell Omega are back! Paracletus their newest release is a lesson tough to swallow Black Metal. Touching and killing sounds that most BM bands would grimace at and they pull it off amazingly once again. If you have enjoyed their previous efforts pick this up. If you havent heard Deathspell Omega then I suggest you start with Paracletus it is actually the most accessible album by D.O to date. Do it, you wont regret it.
Good news from Glass Casket singer Adam Cody for those of you who like a little death metal in their grind (or you got your grind in my death metal!) Either way Columns long awaited EP is about ready for release.
Yes, in case you're keeping score, this is another North Carolina band assaulting your brainwaves. What do they do to those mountain boys to make them rage in such a pleasant and artful way? Not sure I'm ready for the answer to that but I am ready for some new music from Columns so check them and this out.
When I saw Burning the Masses on the Cattle Decap tour with my friends in Son of Aurelius a few weeks ago, at first I was afraid they were another BtM band that I had panned. Fortunately these guys are about 50 times more talented and interesting to me at least.
I spent a little time chatting with Burning the Masses guitarist Chris Valenzuela outside that show and so I was very excited to read his post today that the band's second CD "Offspring of Time" will be on sale starting next Tuesday. I wish to exert whatever peer pressure is at my disposal to urge you to buy it.
Here's a song from that record. The first ten seconds are enough to tell you this is great shit.
Find more artists like Burning The Masses at Myspace Music
As if that's not enough, it appears the dinner table at the Valenzuela house growing up must have been a wall of shreddage after Chris mentions that he has a brother Vance with his own band that blew my socks, shoes, and half my kneecaps off. It's called Vale of Pnath and it's some of the best death metal I've heard in a while.
This band may be too "core": for some of you hipsters, but what I've heard of Sea of Treachery I like and that's the only requirement on this site. Jerry Clubb at Riccochet pointed these guys out to me... another San Diego band that's raging it up these days.
What's the deal with all of the brutal bands out of San Diego anyway? If I lived there, I would be blissed out on the beach everyday, smoking the kind bud, and watching the sewage wash up from Tijuana all day. Still it's great to see so much young talent coming out of those environs.
Check out "A Lifetime Ago"
I suppose what's true about most metal sub-genres is it all depends on how high you have the talent knob cranked on any individual band as to how it's going to turn out in the end.
New Hampshire's own Archaic Eclipse has a new symphonic DM song up for free download on their LastFM page that I think it's worth checking out. If you like this type of thing I think you'll really like this. If you don't, you won't... and for someone on the fence like me, it's seems a very good effort. Check it out for yourself.
When you drive into downtown Modesto, California there's a big curving metal sign over the road that reads "Water, Weath, Contentment, Health." Unfortunately for the citizens of Modesto, far more people think of their fair burg as the home of fertilizer salesman Scott Peterson who is now my Marin neighbor. Although we're separated by just a few miles, Scott's on Death Row and I'm not.
Modesto is also the home of Fallujah bassist Rob Morey and it's from Fallujah (the band, not the Iraqi city) that I learn about Sidian. This death metal quartet has just posted their first rough draft song and while it's a rough draft, I think it's worth sharing with you.
So please enjoy Sidian more than you would a trip in a boat on Christmas Eve morning while your pregnant wife is walking the dog. Just saying.
The Internet is a wonderful thing if your music interests go beyond the mainstream. If you pay attention, it's not all that difficult to find incredibly sick musicians making awesome music in obscure places you will never in your life visit.
At least five years ago I got a MySpace friend invite from just such a band. Electro Quarterstaff put out a record in 2006 with some of the most amazing instrumental metal I've ever heard. I heard they did a U.S. tour but I must have missed it and I just couldn't fit their regular performances at the Manitoba Metalfest into my busy schedule so aside from those tunes I kind of lost track of them.
I can't think of too many better ways to start the weekend than to find that Electro Quarterstaff is back with brand new music and plans for a new EP out next year. Enjoy Descent by Annihilation Operator and explore their My_ site for their older music. I promise you won't be disappointed.
I've been thinking back (yes, if it's too soon for Holiday shit, it's too soon for best of 2010 shit too) to some of the great shows I've seen this year... BTBAM with Cynic, Son of Aurelius in Vegas, BTBAM and Acacia Strain on the Cool Tour, COC-Blind in Raleigh and COC-Technocracy in San Francisco but I think the most brilliant show of the year so far has been the Cynic headlining tour.
Cynic's set itself was so overwhelming, the entire two albums plus the mid-90's demos that went on for nearly two hours, that it's almost possible to forget the insanely sick two opening bands, Intronaut and Dysrhythmia until I came across this video of Dysrhythmia playing on that same tour. It's a handheld camera and the audio isn't great and it cuts off too soon but it does give you a feel for that part of the show.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
One of the fun things about Facebook, specifically being friends with rock stars, or in this case two of the people I think most deserving of being A-List rock stars, the amazing Luke Jaeger of Sleep Terror fame and and the incomparable Navene Koperweis of Animals as Leaders, Fleshwrought, and Animosity fame is that you can eavesdrop on their conversations with each other and check out the music they recommend to one another.
In this case we hit paydirt when Navene recommended Soreption to Luke and now I can recommend to you these "Swedish Death Metal heralds.". Check em out.
As long as we're on the subject of Dallas, one of my two favorite DFW bands is making a comeback. (Check out my other favorite DFW band here) When I was there two years ago taking care of some family problems, I had the pleasure of seeing a show in Plano featuring Pat the Human and hanging out with the guys and doing an interview afterwards.
Now as you can see from this video, Pat the Human is back or soon will be. That's some of the best news I've heard in a while.
|photo credit: Stephanie Mitchell|
If you know anything about me, you know that I'm obsessed with all things Between the Buried and Me so when I saw that former BTBAMer Jason Roe had a project called "Baring Teeth" in my former hometown of Dallas, I wanted to check it out. And sure enough, the song Atrophy on their MySpace page is very cool. Check it out.
Cory Manahan friended me on FB a few years ago. Check out this performance of the song Blinded Life/The Last Time live at the Mod club in Toronto back in March of this year. Check it out.
I am so stoked about Smaragos, the new project from my friends Max and Riley from my favorite new band of 2010, Son of Aurelius. Check this shit out. I've already been assured that I'm the first on my block to put in a pre-order for the Smaragos CD although it's possible I live on a much cooler block than I suspected in Sausalito.
Max does all instruments while Riley adds vocals.
White Noise Metal has been around for a few years now and it's had modest success. I've had the pleasure of interviewing some of my favorite bands of all-time including BTBAM, Cynic, The Faceless, Shadows Fall, Trivium, Gojira, COC-Blind, and more. It's been a lot of fun but producing each interview is time consuming and labor intensive.
So now I'm launching the Daily (more or less) Update version of WNM, a place where I can post interesting metal related tidbits that I come across, cool videos and songs and interesting new bands. If you've got something you think I should hear or check out, e-mail me or leave it in the comments section. As things progress I may add some guest bloggers to this project so if I like your submissions, you might get admin rights here. I think this will be fun.
Update: I'm happy to announce that my friends Chris High and Chris Lazzaro have agreed to join as guest authors. You don't have to be named Chris to sign on, though. Look for their posts coming soon.