Thursday, March 31, 2016

Concert Photos: Fozzy at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles July 24, 2014 - photos by Danny Nichols

Chris Jericho of Fozzy kicking off their "Do You Wanna Start a War" tour at the famed Whisky A Go Go.

Album Review: "Fort Bak Lyset" by Tusmörke

Fort Bak Lyset
It's not really evidenced on these pages, but personally, I love Broadway Musicals.

Naturally my favorite one is Spamalot which is lovingly stolen from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Three times I've seen that play.

There are few things in this world that strike me like the flutes of Robin's wandering minstrels.

It's something that's very conspicuously insane. The music they play is just as important as the crazy words they spew about their brave master.

Sadly, their musical bit is very short. In the play it is fleshed out a bit more, but I still think back to the movie, where the show was sourced, when I hear anything with a similar timbre. If only it could be used in some psychedelic Norwegian prog-metal....

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Album Review: "Crippling Lack Vol. 1" by David Thomas Broughton

Crippling Lack Vol. 1

I like a challenge.

Ever since the phrase "experimental folk" has been in my personal lexicon, it's been a passion of mine.

Many are the minutes whiled away devouring an experimental folk record in my car trying to break it down and analyze it's rough hewn edges.

In fairness, that's only been about two weeks after an email arrived telling me about Yorkshire's own, David Thomas Broughton.

Apparently, he's decided that creating a triple vinyl LP, recorded in Pyong Yang, North Korea, and releasing it in three volumes, on three record labels, over the course of 5 months was a good plan. So, like my man Bender said, OK. I like a challenge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Album Review: "Priests of Annihilation" by Enthean

Priests of Annihilation
Sometimes you can judge an album by its cover.  The first thing I noticed about Enthean’s debut album “Priests of Annihilation” is the spectacular cover art by Marco Hasmann, which depicts some sort of high priest and his minions orchestrating a hurricane composed of tortured souls.  

It is striking, bombastic and a perfect introduction to the music contained therein.   All eight tracks are a relentless assault of symphonic black metal, fueled by the driving riffs which are a hallmark of technical death metal.  With intricate musicianship reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir, 

Immortal and Emperor and a lyrical focus on epic mythology one could guess this band hails from Scandinavia.   However, these masters of the European sound are actually from South Carolina, further serving as proof the United States can compete with the old world masters in the black metal genre.

While the foreground features soulful fretboard defying scale runs the background hums with rhythmic orchestrations which then segue into violent passages of tremolo picking and blast beats.  The result is an album which  manages to be both melodic and atmospheric at the same time, adding a distinctly American sound to a northern European canvas.  

Album Review: "Face The Sun" by Dam Gila

Face The Sun
What you might not know about me, aside from being a Grade A nobody in the international internet media, is that I'm also a pretty crappy guitarist.

Like being media, I'm also a musician.

Over the course of my professional career, I have earned tens of dollars performing music.

I believe the kids call that stacks on stacks.

So, that's part of why I tend to focus on the guitars and stick to, for the most part, guitar music because it's what strikes my fancy. That's part of why pop music doesn't really much appeal to me. It often lacks guitars, atmosphere, wah wah pedals, and kick ass solos.

Dam Gila, the nom de plume of an already established musician is known for dream psych pop. I'd tell you the real name, but I'm a bit tired and I've got to YAWN.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Album Review: "Diabolical Scriptures" by Engraved Darkness

Diabolical Scriptures
Gene Simmons has been making some interesting comments about the state of music lately.

Rock is dead.

He can't wait for the end of rap music.

How amazing is it that he has become an old curmudgeon in his social security years.

It just means that we're all suspect when it comes to music as we start to have more rings around the tree I suppose. Things like this to me are why I soldier on here.

His distaste for rap in particular is what I find the most interesting. He claims not be gangster enough to relate to it. As if one has to be a mythical god to be able to relate to God of Thunder or a werewolf to be able to relate to Almost Human. I won't even touch Christine Sixteen or Domino...

Well here's another album full of songs that I don't personally relate to...because you don't have to be able to enjoy it.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Album Review: "Breaker" by Phosphene

My whole life has been spent largely with my nose in books.

My time riding public transport has always been welcome because when on the train, plane, or the bus there is plenty of time and access to reading.

During this summer past I read Hikaru no Go manga whilst commuting to the office and back.

It will be wonderful when I can go back to that commute instead of fighting rush hour traffic twice a day. It's just so much more peaceful.

But  moving on, growing up in all of the make sure you read PSAs, it was always about how books can transport you to a different place and time which is very true. Still, literature is my second favorite art form. My first being music. Its beauty is something we all behold on a daily basis. Music is playing in my personal sphere around 12 hours a can transport you through your own history....

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Concert Photos: Alice Cooper at the Verizon Wireless Ampitheater in Maryland Heights, MO July 9, 2014

Bassist Chuck Garrick, Alice Cooper and guitarist Tommy Henricksen

Album Review: "The Chris Rolling Squad" by Chris Rolling

The Chris Rolling Squad
How many times have you heard the blues?

It's a musical genre that has gone farther underground than any other in the world. I believe that in 2016 it's "cool" to say you listen to the blues.

Is there a generation growing up that thinks the genre began with Jack White or the Black Keys? (Note: both groups are awesome.)

There is something truly beautiful about using sadness to combat itself. I suppose it's like using a depressant (alcohol) to chase the blues away?

There are times hearing a blues tune is like hearing it all for the first time again. Keeping the flame alive can be largely attributed to the English Blues scene. When it was dying out in America, the English picked up the torch, but what about the French?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Album Review: "s/t" by Volker

A lifetime ago, I was an "aspiring" "musician." Meaning, I played guitar in a band.

That band had major success by getting our "single" played on the community college radio station in the northern part of our fair city. The "singer" was a dj there, but I'm certain that had nothing to do with it.

Well, I was being "interviewed" on the station and I was flipping through albums in the control room. There was a band, and their name has been long forgotten, where the singer was wearing a t-shirt that said "Another Female Fronted Band."

I think they were on Atlantic Records.

Anyway, what was then a small fire beginning to burn in rock music was the advent of women asserting themselves. Whereas Arch Enemy, The Agonist, etc are great bands, aside from Obituary, I kind of look down on death metal bands where the singer doesn't play an instrument.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Album Review: "All Empires Fall" by Tombs

Tombs: All Empires Fall
One thing I have discovered during my foray into music journalism is the amount of incredible music being produced which flies under the radar, and would have likely escaped my notice, had I not been actively been covering new music.  

The rise of so many platforms for delivering music to the world has greatly reduced the role of mainstream radio and ensured a vehicle for many bands who never could have existed if reliant solely on airplay.  

Hence the existence of a website such as this, and my mission to call attention to bands which might otherwise have not found their way into your ears and eyes.  Brooklyn based Tombs is a perfect example of this.   

Tombs has existed since 2007, with "All Empires Fall" being their sixth release (if you count EPs). Yet before now, I had not heard their music.  Clearly I have been missing out as I could not have been more impressed.

Album Review: "Breach | Submerge" by Cetacean

Breach | Submerge
Famous metal historians, The Beastie Boys, once claimed during the song No Sleep Till Brooklyn, NEVER EVER FALSE METAL!

Since that line was uttered by the punk rockers turned rappers turned punk rockers turned punk rappers turned hipsters who didn't know what they were, there's been a seismic shift.

The rallying cry of Death To False Metal can be found on shirts, hats, and probably coffee mugs.

In the past I've spoken about the tribunal of heavy metal and it's still very much alive. In the past 25 years, Black Metal, Folk Metal, Pagan Metal, and whatever Steve'n'Seagulls are have all worked hard to change what metal is and what it can be.

Growing up listening to Black Sabbath, it was just a guitar, a bass, drums, and vocals. Then keyboards, later banjos, and whatever instruments they have in Finland. Recently a band from Canada was playing a French Horn....

Monday, March 21, 2016

Album Review: "Three Men and a Baby" by Mike and the Melvins

Three Men and a Baby
Let's go back twenty years in time.

Consider where and whom you were at that time. Bill Clinton was president and Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first lady.

Email was only known to serious nerds like myself. A national brand of tooth whitening cream was using the website on their commercials.

The Sega Saturn was dying its painful death. Sony had just joined the big boys in the video game world.

The United States military wasn't involved in another drawn out war, just the typical skirmishes that have dotted our history.

KSHE 95 was still playing the exact same music they play today. Myself, I was in my first apartment and working over 70 hours each week at two retail jobs just in order to pay my rent. My dreams of becoming a professional musician were dying.

Thankfully no one has tried releasing whatever tapes I made then onto an album now.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Album Review: "Cult of the Empty Grave" by Barbarian

Cult of the Empty Grave
This past week in my house it's been a little rough.

Both my wife and daughter have been sick and stayed home from work. I had to suffer through a Tori Amos LP. The cats are not behaving at all and by "the cats," I mean a certain polydactl mudblood kitty that is neither mine nor my daughter's cat.

Our cats behave like champs.

Even when things aren't going swimmingly in my personal universe, it always feels like a breath of fresh air to cross the threshold into our 115 plus year old house.

That's because it's my home. Be it playing video games in the living room, listening to hockey games on the sunporch, cooking in my kitchen, or listening to records in our sitting room, I feel like I have always been there, even if it's only been eight of the 40 years I've been walking this earth.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Concert Photos: Ghost at the Pageant in St. Louis October 6, 2015

Ghost vocalist Papa Emeritus III - photo by Danny Nichols

Album Review: "Enslaved" by Murder Made God

What if the Headless Horseman's horse didn't have a head?

That would be chaos!

My favorite comedian, Mitch Hedberg spoke those lines, though not quite as PG as that, on his posthumous album Do You Believe In Gosh?

There's a man that left us too soon. There were still a great many things that Hedberg had yet to teach us.

And you know, what if Spiderman shot hammocks instead of spider webs? Let's move on a bit toward some brutal death metal though.

In Metal Evolution David Vincent of Morbid Angel described death metal as being a lot of notes, a lot of abrasion, and more. Host, Sam Dunn, talked about how extreme metal, to most people sounds just like noise. Both he and Vincent had a very clear idea why Death Metal wasn't as popular as say, Power Metal, but what about metal that's heavier than death metal?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Album Review: "The Burden Is Mine" by Demonstealer

The Burden Is Mine
New things can be uncomfortable.

When melodic singing started taking a back seat to the more guttural variety, Fear Factory charged back with a style of singing that incorporated both the growls and the singing.

Bruce Dickinson has made a fantastic career out of singing very powerful notes and on the flip side, John Tardy hasn't exactly had a terrible career for himself growling in Obituary, and only growling.

Back to Fear Factory, after hearing so much about this band, they left me disappointed at Ozzfest.

Unlike King Diamond, the changing of the vocal styles did not feel like a method of improving the delivery of a message, but a gimmick to be exploited in order to stand apart from the crowded field of angry vocalists.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Album Review: "Lusus Naturae" by Beastmaker

Lusus Naturae
I am not sure how true this is in other genres of music, but in heavy metal fandom there certainly exists a reverence, respect and admiration for the forbearers of the craft.

Since no band is more significant to heavy metal than Black Sabbath,  it stands to reason there will be bands who will seek to flatteringly imitate the founding fathers. 

After all there is no limit to the amount of down tuned doomy power chord riffs the world needs, and Tommy Iommi and company cannot write them all.  In steps Beastmaker.

Every song on this album sounds as though it could be the lost track from one of the classic Sabbath albums.

They have truly achieved the Sabbath sound, which is all the more remarkable because the album was completely produced and recorded by the band.  This allows them to explore the underground (and underserved) world of doom metal free from the influence of those who would steer them back to the commercialized surface.

Album Review: "Friches Et Bestioles" by Neurococcyx

Friches Et Bestioles
Basically what I do is sell air.

Remember that scene in City Slickers when Billy Crystal's character was talking about how he sold on air ad time for a radio station when he was discussing how unfulfilled he felt at work?

Think about all of the thousands of bands out there are doing just that?

Naturally, I don't mean this in a bad way! It's a whole other world out there. Some people in this great big marble we call Earth prefer no physical copies of anything. Movies, books, music, video games what have you. They want digital.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have purchased digital things too. My most recent digital purchase was Dungeons & Dragons Shadow Over Mystara to play it in English on the Wii U. My copy was for the Sega Saturn and in Japanese and my daughter wants to know the story!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Album Review: "New Misery" by Cullen Omori

New Misery
When the days are dark and there's no hope, what is your first move?

For me, it's to immerse myself in something else that helps me understand the feelings and take my mind off of them.

Music is a great way of handling that, whether it's relaxing in my upstairs sitting room listening to vinyl or enjoying the soundtrack of my iTunes while playing a video game in my living room.

Music, and any art for that matter, has an amazing ability to help me deal with my internal struggles. It would be nice to say that there aren't ever struggles in my life or my brain.

If I said that though, it would be the biggest lie of my life. Finding hope where from where there is none is an amazing feeling that will reverberate and imprint onto your soul permanently.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Album Review: "Excluded" by Defecto

During the excessively long four years of high school, many of us were doing something that was laborious.

How many times was the phrase this is the best time of your life spoken? Or it gets better?

For me, one of those statements is true and the other is a god damned lie and they  knew it!

I'll leave you to choose which one.

But what was high school? It was an effort, at least for me, to show everyone how cool you were. This same concept also came about with the rise of social media.

For many of us, trying to compete and show others how cool we were was really just showing how cool we were not. When someone tries too hard, their work and life, smack of effort, in a bad way.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Concert Photos: Black Sabbath at the Sprint Center February 17, 2016

Ozzy Osbourne and drummer Tommy Clufetos -photo by Danny Nichols

Album Review: "Snow//Heritage" by Chiral

In no genre of music is the one man band more prolific than black metal. I understand why Varg Vikerness of Mayhem and Burzum fame had to go it solo after having killed the guitarist in his previous band, but why have so many others (Old Man’s Child, Xasthur, Myrkur, Leviathan, Panopticon to name just five of hundreds) gone this route? 

Maybe it is difficult to find other musicians with the ability or desire to play this most extreme of music.  Or maybe the misanthropic mindset which leads one into this genre just doesn't allow for dealing with bandmates. Whatever the reason, it often leads to an uncompromised product of the creator's artistic vision.

This is certainly true of Italian one man band Chiral’s soon to be released instrumental EP “Snow/Heritage”.   The artist does not categorize this album as strictly black metal, rather opting for the tag of atmospheric-post black metal neofolk.  

Certainly elements of black metal are there on the first and last songs of this four song EP, “Sage Moon ” and “Whiteness (The Snow and the Borrowed Lights)” .  Some of the hypnotic sections which feature blast beat drums surely sound as if they are ominously emitting from a frozen Norwegian forest.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Album Review: "Chief" by Talmud Beach

Recently I had a lovely time with a friend of mine and his wife. He'd invited my wife and I over for dinner and an evening of conversation, laughter, beers, and records.

Jokingly...He was asked if I should bring my Carcass records? Well, my buddy's not really metal at all and his wife is certainly less so.

After we discussed it, Kaki King, The Hiders, and Labors were all under my arm when we arrived. My six pack of Michelob Golden Light Draft was in my other hand.

Many folks have this impression of me that all of my music is hail Satan this and Rock'n'Roll All Nite that. In all honesty, that's very untrue. Perhaps you've noticed the new header photo I recently posted on all of my social media pages and this very blog. There's nearly no metal in that slab of vinyl.

With that in mind, let's check out something from the Heartland.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Album Review: "Of Despair" by Horrified

Of Despair
Do you remember the point when you truly found yourself?

Up until that point you seemed like a different person. We all have a moment in time, or some cases many moments, when we walk away from what we were and into what we will become.

Those steps can be big or small.

For this author, I was truly found after getting serious with my wife. I know, it sounds cliched doesn't it? Some people were wondering if I had given up and had changed myself.

That was surely not the case though. That was when I stopped trying to be cool and accepted that I'm gloriously uncool. That was when I could accept me for me. It wasn't like Nik Cameron became a whole other person. Much of who I was remained in what I became, but it wasn't all the same.

Always be true to yourself, especially when who you were isn't who you are.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Album Review: "Advent of the Human God" by Necronomicon

Advent of the Human God
Let's talk about metal sub-genres!

The collective groan is palpable all seven of you reading this right now.

This is a common topic here, but this is on of those times  when it's really important to discuss them. It's pretty well known that I am a big fan of Death Metal, with Tampa Bay Death Metal being my favorite.

So, this email arrives asking if I would like to check out Blackened Death Metal Band Necronomicon.

Blackened Death Metal isn't Black Metal, which it's well known that is not one of my favorites, right? I have no strong feelings regarding Black Metal, but it's just not my bag. To me, Blackened Death Metal is a bit of a useless name meaning Carcass like death metal that sings about Satan and his underlings....and I can get behind that.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Album Review: "A Formless Dawn" by A Soul Called Perdition

A Formless Dawn
In the music world there are no shortage of solo artists. What always gives me pause is when I think about someone who was in a famous band that sold arenas and then decides to break out on his own.

Peter Criss is a prime example, and easy target, to demonstrate what it means to leave a platinum selling band without the name.

Criss went on to a dismal solo career. In the 27 total years outside of Kiss, he has released 4 albums and only one of them is remotely worth listening to.

It's not the quantity or the quality really of these albums though. In those 27 years Criss has only embarked on two concert tours, and they were back to back on the heels of his best solo effort, Cat #1.

As detailed in his autobiography, he would be disappointed when only 250 people would attend. Mind you, he never played any Kiss songs and didn't perform soundchecks. Criss simply thought people would show up and buy millions of albums because of him.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Concert Photos: Abysmal Dawn, Cryptopsy, Obituary and Cannibal Corpse at the Ready Room February 24, 2016

Abysmal Dawn drummer James Coppolino   -photo by Danny Nichols

Album Review: "The Lost Estate" by John Dillon

The Lost Estate
Perhaps you've caught me waxing nostalgic on Twitter for Full House after beginning the Netflix sequel to it, Fuller House.

As much as American intellectuals, may wish to decry it, the American Sitcom is just as much a valid art form as painting.

Not that I'm saying Full House is more important than Starry Night, but art is art is art.

What makes this show so engrossing for me isn't the story lines, the acting, the characters, or the new additions.

It's the feeling of home, but without rehashing what's been done in the past. Even the mighty Gene Roddenberry couldn't pull this off with the first season of Star Trek. 21st Century music in a similar spot.

New styles of music are often rehashes of what's been popular in the past, but they don't always offer something we haven't heard in the past.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Album Review: "All That Is Beautiful" by Deathkings

All That Is Beautiful
One of the things fans of more extreme types of music hear is how can you possibly listen to music like that?

Our world is populated with a great many people who think that if one listens to angry music all the time that they must be angry people.

It's not often that someone would say the same things about blues or country music is it?

It's not music is another chestnut we hear all the time. As if the super twangy country music vocals are.

Music conveys mood and emotions. That's what makes music art. It's one of the few art forms where the consumer can hear, see, and feel the emotional connection from the creator of the art.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Album Review: "Ad Mortem Festinamus" by Anger As Art

Ad Mortem Festinamus
It is good to know the spirit of the 80s bay area metal scene is not only alive, but well, in the hands of thrash masters Anger As Art.  

Although the four piece does not actually hail from near San Francisco their sound would fit well amongst the legends of northern California.  

Their third album Ad Mortem Festinamus, which will be released by Old School Metal Records on March 11, 2016, not only keeps the thrash genre alive, but contributes significantly to it. If drawing comparisons, I would consider their sound to be most similar to Exodus and Overkill with maybe an influence from Hallow's Eve and Iced Earth. 

Yet they manage to put a unique element on these classic sounds, with relentless riffs and aggression infused melodies. What I like best about the album is how the song compositions allow the musicianship of each individual member of the band to take front stage at various intervals.  

The listener gets the impression creation of these songs was a truly collaborative process, and a quick glance at the songwriting credits indicates contributions on this front were widespread.

Album Review: "Across Corpses Grey" by The Wolves of Avalon

Across Corpses Grey
Possibly the best activity in the world is drinking while talking, or talking while drinking.

When you're at the bar with your buddy, whether people watching, watching the sport on the TV, or just reminiscing about how great Kiss used to before they went straight up cosplay, telling a story is what it's all about.

No one sits at the bar with a cold pint and fails to tell a story, at least not at our table.

When one finds themselves across the table from this guy, a great many long stories can seep out, especially after being plied with a double IPA.

Telling an overarching story isn't the same as repeating that joke your co-worker told this morning. The storyteller has to be able to hold their listeners' interest. Therein, lies the task.