ALL CRASH, NO BURN: Minsk's "The Crash and the Draw" Album Stream

It's hard to think of any instance in which post-metal could be considered uplifting. Minsk certainly aren't going to change that. This Illinois-based act brings a widescreen sensibility to their Neurosis, storming through 76 minutes of sludge and misery. With the ever-dependable Sanford Parker guiding the storm, their latest descent into the void is a suffocating one. Hear it for yourself in its entirety below.

***The Crash and the Draw comes out April 7 courtesy of Relapse. Preorder it.

Maiden Meets Middle Earth: Exclusive Black Tower Video Premiere!

JRR Tolkien meets a seriously eclectic heavy metal melting pot on the upcoming Black Tower full-length debut The Secret Fire (Unspeakable Axe/No Idea, June 2), and we've got the exclusive premiere of the video for the track "Death March."

Here's what drummer/vocalist Dave Williams had to say:

"'Death March' is the opening battle cry from Black Tower's inaugural collection of blood-soaked trad metal legends -- a not-so-subtle nod to both the phantasmagoria of Tolkien's tomes and the dark melodicism of Elixir, Master's Hammer, Maiden, Dissection, et al, all the while rooted firmly in the soil that bore such punk essentials as Against the Grain, Sleep In Safety, and November-Coming-Fire. The video for 'Death March,' cut by Jason Gilmore at Urgency Company, is merely a reconfiguration of the cinematic triumph that is Sorceress, because...well, that shit is crazy."

Exclusive Interview: King Diamond vs. Food Poisoning

Photo credit: Soile Sirrtola

Photo credit: Soile Sirrtola

Last October saw King Diamond’s glorious return to the lighted stages of North America after nearly a decade away. The shows were unanimously well-received—audiences throughout the land were captivated by the massive stage setup, delightful theatrics and spot-on set list. In fact, our #3 extreme vocalist of all time says everything went about as smoothly as it could possibly go…except for a fateful encounter with some truck-stop cuisine. Here’s what happened:

“We were driving from Seattle to San Francisco and we stopped at a restaurant in the middle somewhere. When we came to San Francisco and played, I felt a bit of a weird thing in my stomach. The next night was Halloween and we played L.A., and it got so bad that you have no idea. I never threw up; that was one thing that was lucky for me. But you know, losing liquids and going on stage and sweating really hard, it’s like double dehydration. It’s almost impossible to keep up with. And then driving overnight to L.A., my stomach hurt so bad. I was in such sheer pain that I was standing up in the back of the bus trying to keep it from just exploding.

“So we finally got to L.A., and after sound check it got so bad that I didn’t think I was gonna be able to play. I have never felt so bad. I got no sleep. It was a very scary feeling to go out there and try to do [the show]. I started drinking Gatorade mixed with water because it was recommended by my own doctor, because I called her to figure out what I should do. That was one of the things she said: tons of water on stage. But we had to cut the last song because it became such a dangerous feeling inside. It could have ended really bad. After we finished the show and went back to the hotel, [Metal Blade CEO] Brian Slagel came with his wife to say hi, and I was lying in bed…I could not get up and say hi. I was so knocked on my fucking ass by this thing.

“The next day we had to drive to Las Vegas and it was the same type of painful trip. We got there and played that show, and I don’t know how the hell I did it. We left there and went toward Tucson and got there the day before [the show]. I don’t know if I was really there. I went to a doctor the next day and they checked me out. I tried to get as much hydration back in my system as I possibly could, and [that was the only reason] they didn’t have to perform something that could have been life-threatening. It was that bad. When I look back on it, I should have never gone up and played.”

What did the doctors say?

“I was sitting there, and they said, ‘We have to check your hydration levels and do some tests. When we get the tests back, we’ll know if we have to give you drugs. And if we have to give you drugs for this thing, with your situation, you might incur a heart stoppage.’ I was like, ‘You gotta be fucking kidding me. This cannot be true.’ And they told me, ‘You cannot play tonight. Are you kidding? No way in hell. How many shows do you think you’d need us to write you a doctor’s note for?’ Because of insurance and all that. I said, ‘Just one show. We have a day off tomorrow; I can try to do as much hydration as possible.’

“And that’s something I’m gonna do from now on—start hydrating during the day before the show. It really makes me feel better. Not that I didn’t drink water before, but this is a planned schedule that I go by to get hydrated properly. We have very little breaks in the show, so it’s quite intensive the whole way through. And it’s really cool, I like it. After the show is done, I’m not really out of breath or anything. I drink a full bottle of mixed Gatorade and water the three or four times I’m backstage. I just slam a glass and then go out again. And then all the water on the front stage is gone after a show.”

So, the rest of the tour was OK?

“Yeah, we did the rest of the shows down in Texas and there were no problems. That was the worst thing that happened. Nothing with the voice…the voice was cool!”

The 2015 Decibel Magazine Tour Starts TODAY

Fifteen North American dates, three weeks, one goal: utter decimation. The 2015 Decibel Magazine Tour launches today!

Featuring At the Gates, Converge, Pallbearer and Vallenfyre (and assorted special regional openers), our fourth tour is by far the most representative of the magazine's demented diversity. Multiple shows are sold out or near sold-out, so pick up your tickets now!

One very important note: the Montreal show (Thursday, April 9) has been moved from the Metropolis to the Corona Theatre. If you bought tickets already, don't worry: They're still valid and will be honored. If you still need to buy them, however, get your Montreal show tickets here.

 

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Remaster of Schammasch's "Black But Shining"

Here's one to send you off into the TGIF abyss...

We've got an exclusive stream of "Black But Shining," one of seven gorgeously remastered tracks on the re-release of Sic Lvceat Lvx, the debut album from forward-thinking black metallers Schammasch.

Here's the lowdown from vocalist C.S.R.  

Six years have passed since me and B.A. (drums) met in our old rehearsal room to discuss a new project. After the first few rehearsals in summer 2009, SCHAMMASCH was born. Yet without any kind of clear vision or line, but a strong will, we started to work on two songs which would later bear the titles 'Chaos Reigns' and the metaphoric 'He Whose Face Is Made of Entrails.' Later that year, M.A. (guitars) joined us as a session member. It took us one year of chaotic, fevered work to finish the seven tracks for 'Sic Lvceat Lvx,' which were first released in October 2010.

Now, five years later, many things have changed and I somehow didn't ever expect to talk about a reissue someday. So what else can I say, than just that it's making me proud to announce the reissue of 'Sic Lvceat Lvx,' in a brand new outfit and finally available on vinyl, through a label that actually does stuff on a professional level. Hopefully this album gets its deserved attention at last in 2015. No high-polished production and no technical perfectionism can be found here, but rather simple-hearted rawness, experimental songwriting and charming honesty.

 

This Will Keep Your Brain Busy For a While: Upsilon Acrux Track Premiere

Admittedly, before a couple weeks ago, I didn't know much about California's Upsilon Acrux. I had no idea the band had been around for almost twenty years, is set to release album number seven and have toured and shared the stage with the Locust, the Fucking Champs, the Dillinger Escape Plan, the Boredoms and a bunch of other weird-o bands that don't have "the" in their names. One would have thought that, with all those bands being near the top of my own musical radar since before Unlocking the Truth were even a gleam in their parents' eyes let alone a band, I would have stumbled across Upsilon Acrux at some point in the game. But, in the same way you can't win 'em all, you can't know everything. However, you can expose yourself to a new find if you sit down and shut up long enough, and what a find this band are!

Originally formed as a homage to King Crimson - their debut album was titled In the Acrux of the Upsilon King - Upsilon Acrux has made it their mission to blow, expand and confuse minds and ears since 1997. Imagine King Crimson, Zappa, Don Caballero, Battles, Orthrelm (or any Mick Barr project for that matter), Gore and free jazz bouncing off the padded walls of your local nuthouse and there you have it: a completely ridiculous and unhelpful analogy. Luckily, we've got a tune called "Dogshit on the Shoulders of Giants" from their upcoming seventh album, Sun Square Dialect, on tap for you below. Check it out, then uncross your eyes and check it out again. 

About the song, by guitarist and founding member, Paul Lai:

"Whenever I have the pleasure of having two drummers, I always ask them to write a song, or at least most of a song, just the drums, and we fill in the melodies and do the arrangement together. I think riffs and melodies broken up and set by rhythm is always golden. Different instrumentation facilitates a different way of playing a melody and I generally think the drummer-written songs are the most interesting because rhythm is so fuckin' important, in our band and otherwise. So, this is the drummers' song. I think it's the most briskly moving song on the album with just a tiny bit of repetition.There are constant clashes of 3 vs. 2, or 3 vs. 4, a super-stuttered middle section that has little tempo, and the beginning is an equally fast and slow part depending on which of your ears has less hearing loss.

"I think close intervals in harmonies create a beautiful tension, though some would say it's an ugly disharmony. I feel it's based primarily on what your ears are attuned to hearing. In that same way, I think when you have polyrhythms that don't line up every measure or stack on top of each other or that don't sync together, played without tempo, based on contrast, it's the fuckin' cream! But most people will probably think we're fucking up, so in very certain terms this song to me is close interval drumming at it's best and real proof that when you have two drummers not only working together, but working against each other in a collapsible form, it sets up a hyperized form of dynamic that's equally hard for the performer and the listener. Which essentially is the core of what we do."

*Band photo by Ebrahim Saleh

*Cover art by Rob Sato

Sun Square Dialect is out April 14th on New Atlantis Records

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For Those About to Squawk: Waldo's Pecks of the Week

Is it me, or are the releases pretty slow? I mean, there’s stuff coming out, but nothing that gets my feathers ruffled, if you get my gist. Just seems like a lot of reissues coming out, but hey, that’s cool, too. So, you know, it’s like, whatever.

Teutonic death metal band MORGOTH release their first record in 19 year called Ungod on Century Media. I gotta say, I was a big fan of their first two records back in the 90s; aside from the washed-out cover work, I thought Morgoth were pretty cool. Then they put out the horrible Feel Sorry for the Fanatic. Anyway, onto the new record: This kinda has that Sunlight Studios sorta sound: it’s heavy and there are riffs, riffs and more riffs. Fans of the first two records need not worry too much, as this basically bridges the gap, and there is no tom-dickery a la the aforementioned Fanatic. This is death metal, no doubt, with some melodic passages, and feels and sounds like Morgoth. But the one missing element is former vocalist Marc Grewe. The current vocalist is perfectly passable, but Marc’s screams were downright blood-chilling at times. But Mein Gott, the riffs. I’m liking it. 7 Fucking Pecks.

What is it about Finland, man?  I think there’s some decent bands that come out of there, but however good they are, it just seems they miss the mark a tiny bit--like just aren’t intense enough for me. SATANIC WARMASTER is a little more intense. Fimbulwinter comes out on Hells Headbangers, and it’s black metal, to say the least. Your old boy Waldo doesn’t love black metal, but this isn’t bad--reminds me a little of the first wave of the second wave of black metal. I think this was released previously on Werewolf Records, so all of you black metal dorks can chill on correcting me. Anyway this is trem-picked, screechy-vocal black metal, and the production is crisp and clear without taking a ton of bite out of it. I think they have songs about werewolves and vampires and shit. Take out the acoustic guitar and the Legend of Zelda keyboards (when they appear), and I’d like this a little more. Good throwback, though, and for a black metal record, I kind of like it. 5 Fucking Pecks.

Also, some notable re-releases, the mighty GORGUTS re-release From Wisdom to Hate and Obscura, and you should check that shiz out. INCANTATION seem to be having a resurgence, and are re-releasing Entrapment of Evilso, you know, get into it.


Decibrity Playlist: Sannhet (Part 1)

I'll just come out and say it: Sannhet's Revisionist is one of my favorite albums of the year so far. So I was stoked when John Refano--that's him below--agreed to participate in this little series we've been doing for three (!) years now. I'll let the guitarist/loopist explain what "Kill Yr Idols" is all about: "I think the music on this playlist has sounds and ideas that my playing is still influenced by in some way today. Sometimes it might just be the way someone holds a note, a certain bit of feedback, a haunting melody, or just how crushing a riff is. Regardless of what it is, I feel like there’s a reference in there somewhere."

He included so much tuneage, in fact, that we've broken up his picks into two parts.  While you're perusing part one or waiting for part two, be sure to pick up a copy of Revisionist here (Sannhet's bandcamp) or here (The Flenser). If you're in or around Brooklyn tonight, the trio will also lay waste to Saint Vitus at its record release show--see you there.

Slint's "Don, Aman" (from 1991's Spiderland)

There’s real intense feeling throughout this record. Like something is about to go wrong at any minute. I love the slow build of the guitar and vocals until they break loose at 4:24. That guitar tone is just perfect. The riff itself is so simple but the repetition and slight dissonance carry so much weight. The reverb-ed swell at the end after the song is over is also one of my favorite moments on the record.

 

My Bloody Valentine's "Sometimes" (from 1991's Loveless)

Hard to pick a song from Loveless. My other choice would have been "Loomer" but I went with this because the guitar has one of my favorite recorded tones and performances ever. The slight bend as he plays the chords makes it disorienting and adds just enough dissonance to make the whole thing sound wrong, in a good way. I remember thinking when I first heard this that it sounded like the tape machine was broken. This record definitely changed my idea of what guitar could/should sound like.

 

The Jesus And Mary Chain's "You Trip Me Up" (from 1985's Psychocandy)

This album is genius. Simple pop songs under the most shearing, howling feedback imaginable. I definitely wonder how the recording sessions for this went. It’s undeniably awesome but what producer/engineer in 1985 actually let these guys make this record sound like it does? Let’s just be glad someone did.

 

Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "Moya" (from 1999's Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP)

Perhaps it sounds a little dated now, but these guys invented this sound, and it’s never been outdone since (even by themselves, sadly). Essential, impeccable. Soaring, wistful leads, foreboding drones, distant voices... I love how they play those high melodies but use scales and progressions that aren’t super predictable and stereotypically “epic” like many other “post-rock” bands. I think anyone who listens to my band would not be surprised by this obvious influence.

 

Sonic Youth's "Kill Yr Idols" (from 1983's Kill Yr Idols EP)

I didn’t get into Sonic Youth until after they put out records like Washing Machine and A Thousand Leaves. I kind of always just thought they were just some boring alternative band until one day I randomly came across a vinyl of Confusion is Sex. I couldn’t believe it--not only was it nothing like what I thought they sounded like, but it was insane. The guitar chords sound like a heap of strangled scrap metal. It’s not heavy in a metal way but it's just fucking crushing. I feel beat up after listening to their early stuff. I eventually got into some of their later material but I still prefer the stuff that's angry and/or ugly.

 

Portraits Of Past's "Implications Of A Sinkhole Personality" (from 1996's Portraits Of Past)

This was the first “screamo” record I ever heard, but it definitely predates that label. I love the chimy tone of the guitar and the rounded out bass sound. I really love how much the guitar parts “sing” on this album, if that makes any sense. This record is strangely calming for me.

 

Jeromes Dream's "It’s More Like A Message To You" (from 2000's Seeing Means More Than Safety 10")

I was friends with these guys when they made this record and they are still one of the most intense live bands I’ve ever seen. The guitar parts on this album are really unique for the whole “screamo” thing. I think they are probably the most original band of that time and I still listen to this record all the time.

*Stay tuned for Part 2 next week

**John Refano photo by Charles Nickles

***You can pick up a copy of Revisionist here (Sannhet's bandcamp) or here (The Flenser)

****Sannhet tour dates:

  • March 27th – Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY – Revisionist Record Release Show – w/ Kayo Dot, Oneirogen
  • April 2nd – DC9, Washington, DC w/ Liturgy
  • April 3rd – Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia, PA w/ Liturgy
  • April 4th – Kings, Raleigh, NC w/ Liturgy
  • April 5th – The Masquerade Atlanta, GA w/ Liturgy
  • April 7th – Red 7, Austin, TX w/ Liturgy
  • April 8th – Club Dada, Dallas, TX w/ Liturgy
  • April 9th – Kansas City, MO w/ Liturgy
  • April 10th – Subterranean Chicago, IL w/ Liturgy
  • April 11th – Dionysus Disco Oberlin, OH w/ Liturgy
  • April 18th – The Wick, Brooklyn, NY – Tinnitus Music Series w/ PRURIENT (Record release) and Andy Stott – presented by Pitchfork Show No Mercy and Blackened Music
  • April 24th – Haverford College, Haverford, PA – w/ Liturgy
  • June 14th – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY w/ Viet Cong
  • June 18th – NXNE Pitchfork Showcase w/ Vince Staples, Majical Cloudz, Tink, Jessica Pratt, Amen Dunes and Container
  • June 19th – Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY w/ A Place to Bury Strangers
  • June 20th – Cattivo, Pittsburgh, PA w/ A Place to Bury Strangers