The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Friday, February 29, 2008

Overkill - "Fuck You" live

Happy Friday, everyone! Let's kiss the week goodbye properly...

Smashing Pumpkins - "Superchrist" video

Featuring Gary and Sky Saxon of The Seeds... Way cool...

The Smashing Pumpkins - Superchrist

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

CD Review: Boris - Smile

Boris - Smile
2008 Southern Lord Recordings
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

On a personal level, this is my most expectant album of 2008. The steps forward Boris has made in a few quick years is nothing short of remarkable, from the Sleep-esque sonic fuzz oceans of Absolutego to the Hendrix-laced Akuma No Uta to their triumphant blend of doom, psychedelia and punk rock on their previous album Pink... Like their drum and percussion neighbors Kodo, Boris is also no stranger to bringing their unique vision of drone reinvention to
collaborative efforts with Merzbow, Keiji Haino, Michio Kurihara of Ghost and White Heaven, as well as doom overlords Sunn O))). That being said, the career path of the Japanese distortion triumvirate known as Boris has become one of the most entertaining to witness, so much that their latest offering Smile has a bit of a rep to live up to, particularly if you've seen them blow the roofs off whatever club lures them in.

With that, consider Boris the coolest fucking band on the planet right now. Smile not only lives up to the hype, it takes them to a whole different playing field, so much that the doom and stoner crowd are going to have to give Boris their due, if they haven't already. If Wata isn't one of underground rock's most underrated guitarists, I don't know who is; the fact you're wont to hear so many newcomers to the band exclaim "The guitarist's a girl?" is maybe a shade chauvenistic, but yes indeedy, Wata's a girl and she'll peel your face by layers with her off-the-radar strumming, sonic paintbrushes and wailing string tugs (listen to her positively shred all over "Statement"). Wata has a tendency at times to recreate ancient Shinto lines through amplified regurgitation, whereas mostly she simply crushes everything in her way through her Orange stack. Of course, Takeshi's no slouch himself on his two-pronged bass, which accounts for a large portion of Boris' thunder (for example, he roars like a dragon on "Lazer Beam"), Atsuo's blaster caster drumming notwithstanding.

The thing with Smile is that it's so damned good you don't get everything on the first listen, so this will undoubtedly be locked on repeat in your player, if not to jam out to the impressively loud and fast "Buzz-In," "Lazer Beam" and "Statement." Check out that sneaky-Pete Clay years GBH-styled hardcore melody in the middle of "Lazer Beam," it's sick. Still, it's the magnitude of songwriting Boris has claimed for themselves that speaks louder than Takeshi's low-end bass blares. Boris is so shrewd on Smile they take a hummable Smashing Pumpkins alt melody that serves most of the cheeky "My Neighbor Satan" before injecting loud sonic blares to offset the basic yumminess of the tune. It is a deliciously savvy and sarcastic tune of such high musical caliber that lets Atsuo toy with us even further by giving us a fake drum roll that sounds like the end of the song before it roars back from its momentary pause.

Boris also dicks with their listeners at the end of "Lazer Beam" with an acoustic fadeout that actually sounds like the beginning of a new song, but is suddenly cut off and left unfinished. Brilliant. Another example is the untitled last track which features Sunn O)))'s Stephen O' Malley on guitar, and how they sneak in a quick overdub thrash blast atop the largely hypnotic drudge that carries the song for miles and miles...

Boris has done for underground sludge, doom and garage rock what their influences such as Blue Cheer and Atomic Rooster did subtly in the late sixties, which is to move the style forward and make a difference upon it while remaining pure by recording on analog with very few dubs. Boris has now become one of modern rock's greatest disciples and now tutors, and it's no wonder their shows in the US are selling out. I mean it when I say Boris is the coolest fucking band on the planet. Somebody give Little Steven a clue...

Rating: *****

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Black Flag - "American Waste" video

Black Flag - American Waste

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Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 2/27/08

Guttentag, readers! Another Wednesday is here and that means it's time for our weekly swap meet on who's listening to what.

I just want to say since reporting a few weeks ago that The Metal Minute reached a hit count of 50,000, another 11,000 hits have come since, which is tremendous growth in such a short time. Each and every one of you are the best and it is my joy to keep this site moving steadily, even when I'm about to physically crash from all that is my life as I did last night. The burnout is coming, I can feel it, but you guys are my inspiration, and I thank you.

Moving on, this past week the old school Chicago stuck to me like glue, though it was their monstrous debut Chicago Transit Authority album that won out over III (gasp!) and it had some stiff competition from heavy plays of Quicksand, Ace Frehley's Kiss solo album and now, the new Boris album, Smile, which got three spins just yesterday. I hereby declare Boris as the coolest fucking band on the planet right now, wowzers....

I have all sorts of goodies coming your way in the future including contests and interviews that I just need some night hours when I'm not falling out of the office chair in fatigue to get on the horn and complete, but trust me, they're coming and they won't disappoint... We're talking Dillinger Escape Plan, Warbringer, Overkill's original drummer Rat Skates and punk legend Dave Smalley, just to whet your appetite and there's other bands who've expressed interest that just need to be booked. Stay tuned...

So on that note, bring out your dead...

Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago - III
California Transit Authority - Full Circle
Quicksand - Slip
Ace Frehley - Kiss solo album
Ace Frehley - Frehley's Comet
Boris - Happy
Boris - Pink
The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath
The Limit - Reinventing the Sun
Ill Nino - Confession
Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul
Palmerston - S/T
L.A. Guns - S/T
Dokken - Tooth and Nail
Beat Union - Disconnected
Steve Stevens - Memory Crash

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

CD Review: The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath

The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath
2008 Universal Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

To think that Yes was virtually crucified for doing what The Mars Volta so cleanly gets away with and garnishes universal praise for. Undeniably albums such as Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer, Going For the One and Tormato are crazy but expressively artistic endeavors that caused so much strife for Yes that principal songwriter Jon Anderson took a hike in frustration of an audience that didn't understand his peculiar art rock vision that's now in-step. Undoubtedly, Anderson, Squire, Howe and the Yes clan are not only in awe of The Mars Volta like the rest of us, but they have to be silently kicking cans against the curb because they were just too radical for their own good in a music public that has only recently grown to appreciate the sophistication of tailspun prog that Yes and King Crimson were both championed and reviled for, and The Mars Volta is now revered as sovereign lords for.

Seriously, how good are Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers making yet another appearance as session player)? They're so good they've managed to become the all-embodied Yes, Crimson and Rush of this generation in one shot and still they possess the utmost aptitude for creating manic funk punk with outpourings of metal and Latin to create a sound undeniably theirs. Ironically, if the Red Hot Chili Peppers had stayed the course of their explosive Mother's Milk album instead of swimming in their more downtempo commercial channels beginning with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, then they might've come close to what Mars Volta has successfully accomplished. Just maybe. Or maybe not.

On their fourth album, The Mars Volta has finally figured out that their blast-quiet-blast formula of their previous couple albums Frances the Mute and Amputechture will only carry them so far into their boundless future, which is exciting, since The Bedlam in Goliath almost never settles down. Like a cup of latte laced with that extra shot of espresso but skimped of the needless gimmicky spice to make it a potent wake-up drink, The Bedlam in Goliath dispenses with those agonizingly prolonged coldwave silent sequences on the last two albums that was novel for a song or two, but damned aggravating when practiced on repeat. When Mars Volta cut loose on their previous albums, it was breathtaking and almost too much to process, the ultimate music nerd auralgasm. Sure, the random pauses allowed you to catch your breath, but done to such extensive measures, it was easy to push the next track button to keep the momentum going.

The Bedlam in Goliath allows no such luxuries. Even better than De-Loused in the Comatorium, Goliath just keeps its foot on the gas, only slowing down as speeders on the road do when spotting the fuzz on the shoulder. Other than that, The Mars Volta pushes The Bedlam in Goliath to the taut, frayed edges of its nerves and twangs them to the point of hypersensitivity. In fact, Rodriquez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala create so much tension on this album the songs ebb into one another so that it takes it all the way the middle of "Tourniquet Man" before The Bedlam in Goliath scales down and splashes around in its off-kilter chaos pool filled with horns and electronic tweaking, frolicking the song almost to the point of implosion.

The expected soundburst then manifests instataneously on the opening bars of "Cavalettas," and The Mars Volta just keeps moving with focus and purpose, as if realizing that this can be their signature moment as a creative entity. Seriously, this is the Close to the Edge of its day and it's astonishingly superior. The way Mars Volta goes out of their minds out the gate on "Abernikula" and "Metatron" is enough right there to declare The Bedlam in Goliath an instant masterpiece, but they don't settle for it there, thankfully. For over an hour, this album is one sensory awakening after another, coming frightfully close to an ecclesiastical music communion with its lyrical theme and especially its unrelenting drive.

If the Bad Brains have a Soul Craft to teleport themselves through their righteous fury, then The Mars Volta jockeys a spiritual chariot through the most cleansingly complex prog funk of any band out there. History is likely going to be much kinder to The Mars Volta than Yes, even when one can be just as inherently goofy and bizarre as the other at times. No doubt that The Bedlam in Goliath has its moments of weirdness (the end of "Agadez" through the first couple stanzas of "Askepios" for example), but this time around there's control and function to their adjunct precipitance as well as the savviness to stay on top of the album's driven pace instead of let it seep into sometimes absurd nothingness. The Bedlam in Goliath still has you in its clutches through rapid percussion and wicked strumming on "Ouroborous" and that's pretty freakin' remarkable, so much that the out-of-control prog on the final track "Conjugal Burns" is the appropriate finale it should be on an album this magnificent.

Rating: *****

Boris - "Statement" video

This just may be the coolest band on the planet. Go, Wata, go...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Behemoth to Play North American Dates With Dimmu Borgir On The Invaluable Darkness Tour Part 2

Photo (c) 2006-08 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

The tireless Polish death squad Behemoth are returning to North America once again in support of Dimmu Borgir on The Invaluable Darkness Tour Part 2. The tour, which is also joined by Keep of Kalessin, will run for a month beginning April 2nd in Toronto.

Frontman Nergal comments, "We’ve always been big Dimmu fans, plus I’ve known the guys since early 90’s and we’ve remained friends ever since. Silenoz (Dimmu Borgir guitarist) and I have been thinking about putting together this package for a long time now. The idea was to create the most lethal bill and bring evil back to States! For Behemoth it’s gonna be the last tour of North American for The Apostasy touring cycle. I’m stoked. I’m more than sure that fans will totally dig this package. We’ve got some surprises ready for this event, so hopefully you are all ready for it. See you all there."

The Invaluable Darkness Tour Part 2 Dates:

04/02 Sound Academy – Toronto, ON
04/03 Metropolis – Montreal, QC (w/Necronomicon)
04/04 The Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA
04/05 Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
04/07 The Myth – St. Paul, MN
04/09 Edmonton Events Center – Edmonton, AB
04/10 MacEwan Ballroom – Calgary, AB
04/11 The Big Easy – Spokane, WA
04/12 Roseland Theatre – Portland, OR (w/Heaven Shall Burn)
04/14 The Warfield – San Francisco, CA
04/16 The Grove – Anaheim, CA
04/17 Rialto Theatre – Tucson, AZ
04/18 Sunshine Theatre – Albuquerque, NM
04/19 Ogden Theater – Denver, CO
04/21 Stubbs BBQ – Austin, TX
04/22 Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK
04/24 Mr. Smalls Theatre – Millvale, PA
04/25 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
04/26 The Palladium – Worcester, MA (New England Metalfest)
04/27 930 Club – Washington, DC
04/28 NorVA – Norfolk, VA
04/30 Culture Room – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
05/01 Jannus Landing – St. Petersburg, FL
05/02 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
05/03 Bogart’s – Cincinnati, OH
05/04 House of Blues – Chicago, IL

Soilwork to Play On Scum of the Earth Tour

Soilwork will be on the lineup of this year's Scum of the Earth Tour. Headlined by hardcore heavies Throwdown, Soilwork will join the tour along with Through the Eyes of the Dead and War of Ages, also playing a couple of one-off dates along the way. Soilwork's vocalist Bjorn "Speed" Strid recently addressed his fans:

"What up everyone!? Soilwork has risen once again from all the Xmas/New Year's decadence (including too much Swedish herring, amber ales and what not). We’re ready to strike North America once again together with Throwdown, Through the Eyes of the Dead and War of Ages. It's going to be a long tour and as you can see by the tour schedule, it will cover a lot of cities. We’ll see all of you out there: long-time fans, the newly converted, doubters, etc. No matter who you are, prepare to be hit by the Swedish bulldozer! Also, watch out for the next video being worked on at the moment for the title track ‘Sworn to a Great Divide’!”

Scum of the Earth Tour Dates:

02/29/08 The Glasshouse – Pomona, CA
03/01/08 Marquee Theater – Tempe, AZ
03/02/08 Launch Pad – Albuquerque, NM (Soilwork Only)
03/03/08 The Door – Dallas, TX
03/04/08 The White Rabbit – San Antonio, TX
03/05/08 Meridian – Houston, TX
03/07/08 State Theater – Tampa, FL
03/08/08 Revolution – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
03/09/08 The Club (at Firestone) – Orlando, FL
03/10/08 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
03/11/08 Tremont Music Hall – Charlotte, NC
03/12/08 The Norva – Norfolk, VA
03/13/08 Jaxx – W. Springfield, VA
03/14/08 Crocodile Rock Cafe – Allentown, PA
03/15/08 The Palladium – Worcester, MA
03/16/08 The Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA
03/17/08 The Penny Arcade – Rochester, NY (Soilwork Only)
03/18/08 The Blender Theater (at Gramercy) – New York, NY
03/19/08 Club Soda - Montreal, QC – CANADA
03/20/08 The Opera House – Toronto, ON – CANADA
03/21/08 Magic Stick – Detroit, MI
03/22/08 Logan Square Auditorium – Chicago, IL
03/23/08 Station 4 – St. Paul, MN
03/24/08 Reverb – Cedar Falls, IA
03/25/08 Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom – Denver, CO
03/26/08 Avalon Theatre – Salt Lake City, UT
03/27/08 The Big Easy – Boise, ID
03/28/08 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
03/29/08 Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR
03/31/08 The Boardwalk – Orangevale, CA
04/01/08 The Belmont – Fresno, CA
04/02/08 House of Blues – Hollywood, CA
04/03/08 House of Blues – Las Vegas, NV

Yakuza - "Black Market Liver" video

Sunday, February 24, 2008

CD Review: The Limit - Reinventing the Sun

The Limit - Reinventing the Sun
2007 The Limit, LLC
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Points to any band with the stylistic funnybone to declare "emo is the new disco!"

There's something idealistic about a concept such as reinventing the sun, and idealistic is basically the tone and vibe of The Limit's step heavy rock 'n roll. If only we could restore some of the protective ozone back in the air to make the sun less stifling and more harmless, then perhaps everyone would come out of their air-conditioning and just hang out more often. This seems to be the modus operandi to The Limit's song structuring, which is largely bar rock-minded, but in rejecting conventional theories of today's hard rock and metal scenes, what The Limit appears to be saying on their debut album Reinventing the Sun is that some restructuring courtesy of harmonious heavy rock has become necessary in a style of music that has become progressively more brutal with each blast beat tick.

For a self-produced album like Reinventing the Sun, you're going to have slight sound muffs and maybe not all of the same polish as delivered by the bigger studios and labels (even on the indie circuit), but it's the inherent charm of Reinventing the Sun's tunes that draws you in. Sometimes The Limit reminds of a stray bullet take on King's X with less reverb, but frequently they embrace a late eighties hard rock twinge complete with agreeable vocal sweeps and tapestry-laced guitars from Mark Daniel, the soul and glue of The Limit. At times The Limit goes for some progressive alt rock layerings such as on "House of Sand" and even "Closer," the latter song also possessing a Steve Vai-minded drive without the mindmelding solos.

In general, The Limit's music is kept at mid-pace on steady cuts like "Sky Walker," "Best Thing" and "Save Yourself." They attempt nothing overtly flashy, other than some psychedelic love lubes from Mark Daniel, a pretty nifty slinger who has a bright career ahead of him. His bandmates, drummer Bob Chmiel and bassist Todd Grosberg give Daniel a straight-flowing ebb from which to tap into his own resources, which is why most of Reinventing the Sun works splendidly.

Reinventing the Sun's statement piece comes via the 2:11 12-string pluck and slide instrumental "Mother Maria," which follows The Limit's uptempo acoustic ballad, "Time Can't Keep Me." In some ways, the couplet brings a reminiscence of American hard rock and even alternative twenty years ago, in the ways bands ranging from Mr. Big to Flesh For Lulu had a tendency to dabble with.

Given the budget of some of the more fortunate bands to have scored prime studio hours, Reinventing the Sun would be an even more noteworthy debut. As it is, what The Limit has concocted in-house is basically its own story. Far more polished than demo cuts, what you're getting with Reinventing the Sun is the rare opportunity to hear a band in development and whenever they catch the ear of a label, then we're likely to hear what these guys are really about. Their hearts are in the right place, their execution is largely solid and they're doing what they want to do, norms be damned. Seldom does DIY sound like it's holding a band back, but that's what we have with Reinventing the Sun. Get on board now because this seems like a potentially groovy ride in the years to come.

Rating: ***1/2

Dead Kennedys - "MTV Get Off the Air" Live

Not politically correct, but politically honest...

dead kennedys at their best

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The Exploited - "Dead Cities" live Top of the Pops

Hardcore infiltrates a new wave crowd...this is classic

The Exploited - Dead Cities

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Underappreciated Slabs Saturday: Bad Brains - God of Love

More than likely you can relate when I say those who don't really know, understand or even appreciate heavy metal and punk have a common unifying thread slogan when trying to make sense of it in a somewhat unintentionally belitting manner. You've heard it before, I'm quite certain of it, because it's almost a cliche misnomer statement as "slow and steady wins the race" (not in today's speed-or-die instant gratification society) or "American Idol is quality music programming."

"That music makes me want to kill someone! How do you stand it?"

Sound familiar? To me, they're almost words of comfort because it means I'm right where I want to be, on the fringe, savoring music and expressionism only a handful of people in the grand collective actually comprehend, much less love with a puritanical heart. It literally makes me laugh like a rowdy hellraiser inside when someone unacquainted with loud and aggressive music hears the detonative bombast of the Bad Brains and it's too much for them that they absolutely fail to realize that HR, Earl, Dr. Know and Darryl are playing to their meanest capacity in the name of peace, not hatred. It's so much you actually pity the fools who hear the Brains and perceive them to be knife-wielding butchers, much as White America was taught to believe about Rastafarians, much less punk rockers with the highest degree of righteousness and soul that profess their unyielding devotion to Jah. Granted, their music is beyond intense, so much that the initial contact can reduce you to your knees, exactly as their masterpiece I Against I did the first time I heard it in the eighties. Still, you need to understand what you're dealing with.

Truly, when you first come to Bad Brains' sonic soul kitchen, it's a devastating experience. The first time I ever heard the punk-reggae swapfest of Rock For Light, I experienced the ultimate form of musical mindrape and I wanted to be absolutely sodomized if it meant my heart and soul was being rescued in the process. Yes, the Bad Brains produce unequivocally angry music, but once you understand where they're coming from, which is to step up Bob Marley's one world, one love encapsulation via a harsher vehicle through punk rock (given alleviation through soothing reggae) then you're on the path to a better being.

Does listening to the Bad Brains make you a better, more wholesome person? If you take the time to see past the ganja haze and get into their spiritual-based world, then it will change your life, most certainly.

Those who have been following the Brains a long time don't really need this lengthy preamble because we've seen the truth and moreover we embrace it and understand that Rasta's Jah is the same embodiment of spiritual being and deity we follow ourselves. The Bad Brains just use a different mode of transporation (or Soul Craft, if you will) towards realizing a communal experience outside this life and how can you not envy them for it? When they rip the hell of whatever stage they take, you can see they've already boarded the portal to enlightenment and they want to take us with them. If you're one of the unlucky few who aren't on the Bad Brains bandwagon (one of the very few worth hopping aboard), then you're quite simply missing out.

In the perspective of the Bad Brains' work, they're so much of an enigma that you don't read or hear a lot of critical ripping of their album catalog, though most people simply pretend that the non-HR-sung Rise never existed. HR is to the Bad Brains and punk what the new Cars is without Ric Ocasek; an excuse to exist but not quite the real deal. The mention of Ocasek here is deliberate as he's been intertwined with the Bad Brains, having produced them a couple of times, including God of Love, an album that's now beginning to fade into the ether of out-of-print import hell, which is sobering considering it was the Bad Brains' first shot at the majors.

Prior to God of Love, there was the aforementioned Rise, which only the curious came to the table to hear how Cro Mags drummer Mackie Jayson handled one of the most important front positions in rock music. Prior to that was Quickness, a very solid outing for the Bad Brains (and an album which Jayson provided some studio drumming), but many argue that the Brains went more metal than punk during this phase, exhibiting very little of the reggae-calypso foundation that is their legacy.

That legacy was tapped to the max on God of Love, a very misunderstood album that was too chaotic even for the adventurous Madonna who signed some of the nineties' more interesting bands to her Maverick label. Certainly HR tended to stray into very weird pastures vocally on God of Love, while many have cited that the album overall is so slick it defeats itself. Taking the very opinionated love I have for Bad Brains out of the equation, I have come to grudgingly concede these points. God of Love is a bit sloppy at times, but it's something I couldn't hear for a very long time because historically I've been so enamored with the tailspinning disorder of God of Love that I refused to give ear to its imperfections.

Yeah, "Cool Mountaineers" is clunky when you get over the outrageous speed and fury of it, which honestly, is the fundamental charm of it. It's hard not to sing along at top speed, even as it skids into a breakdown (not the way young bands do today; this displays a proper breakdown sequence), but that energy is recaptured at once the very second HR snarls "Activate!" on "Justice Keepers" and Earl Hudson lays down a seriously wicked beat that gets you jacked upon greeting. It's hard for me to flatly dismiss what the Bad Brains were attempting with the suave syncopation jazz lines of "Rights of a Child" that just goes out of its skull on the choruses. Ahhh, bliss... And what about the insane thrash of "Darling I Need You?" Or the pumping throb of "Tongue Tee Tie" and "Thank Jah?"

It's the feel of the songs on God of Love that gets overshadowed and lost in translation. Perhaps HR was still a little shaky during the recording of God of Love after he'd embarked on a small-scale solo career that did at least give us the wonderful Human Rights album, or maybe his personal turmoil was temporarily corrupting him in the studio, which has been cited by a few historians. At this time, HR had been busted a few times for pot possession and was reportedly quite violent, so much it thrust a dagger between himself and the rest of the band, hence the rift. Quite likely the platitudes of doubt between the foursome is laid evident at times on God of Love, so much that even the rock-minded Ric Ocasek probably had a bit of a time assembling it all together cohesively.

Still, one of my bigger endearments to God of Love, and some argue against it, is their plethora of reggae songs scattered throughout the album. To me, it's the reggae portion of Bad Brains' music that make them pure artists on top of expressive punk rockers bouncing atop the ultimate platform. The reggae is their center core, their yan, their saving grace, or else quite possibly their manic punk hostility would be all-consuming and rather dangerous. On God of Love, it's the calming vibes of "Overs the Water," "To the Heavens" and "How I Love Thee" that grounds the album and stops it from self-implosion.

Were the Bad Brains so overwhelmed with the uncertainty of HR's peace/hate duality that it held them back a little on this album? It's quite possible, because despite its many strengths, God of Love could've been titanic, almost worthy of I Against I's inescapable shadow of superiority. Still, its inherent strengths lie in Dr. Know's impeccable guitar squeals and Darryl Jenifer's fragmented bass punches, so much that it's literally awesome to hear them jive together on the extensive breakdown finale of "Darling I Need You" as much as it is to hear HR scat "run home to your mama then you run home to your papa" on the reggae rap of "Long Time."

For the album's few faults, they're sadly held too accountable by many listeners. Some just brush this album away as the corporate experiment that failed to their ears, but its the inherent collision of boom and sedation that makes God of Love a mostly righteous endeavor.

And when some outsider tells you they want to kill or break stuff after hearing the Bad Brains, show 'em love anyway, because they just don't understand...

Friday, February 22, 2008

CD Review: Steve Stevens - Memory Crash

Steve Stevens - Memory Crash
2008 Magna Carta
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Obviously a return to the rock for Steve Stevens on Billy Idol's groovy 2005 Devil's Playground album has had an adverse effect on Stevens' solo work. Not that the sometimes underrated shredder ever purged his rocker's soul over the years, but in the past decade or so, Stevens has refined his playing skills via other outlets and projects such as his 2000 Flamenco A Go-Go album in addition to more recent stints with musicians such as Todd Rundgren, Willy Deville and even Pink.

The versatile guitarist is also revered for his here-and-gone side shot Atomic Playboys (still a coveted artifact to old school rawkers and headbangers), as well as his prog rock unification with Terry Bozzio and Tony Levin on the Situation Dangerous and Black Light Syndrome albums. On a more personal level though, it's been years since we've had a chance to hear Stevens plug into his Marshall and wail by himself, which is exactly what we're treated to with Memory Crash, a mostly-instrumental album that has a rare rocker's soul to it, one that pays more attention to maintaining a groove and a pulse instead of merely showing off chops, licks and scales.

Memory Crash is a smart and driving 10 song endeavor that makes its point and goes home after roughly forty minutes, startlingly rare for a guitar rock instrumental album. At times, Stevens implements some spacey synths and samples to coat his tempo-minded tunes, but what's most impressive about Memory Crash is Stevens' focus. Though the title song easily could've been spliced into two separate tunes because the main sections are so diverse, after Stevens cuts loose for a few minutes to a hop-skip beat, he allows well-known drummer Brian Tichy to assume a steady throb and then follows suit, all to the point where "Memory Crash," particularly in the second stanza, would have no problem at all serving as score to an adrenalized high-chase scene in an action flick.

As Stevens lays down all of the guitar and bass licks (all bass except on "Day of the Eagle"), the songs of Memory Crash contain a heavy treble beneath his pinchy high notes and sometimes otherworldly string squeals because of the massive bass thrums Stevens employs, which often leave a sense of carryover vibrato (particulary on "Water On Ares"). He corrals none other than King's X's Dug Pinnick to slap bass and deliver some Hendrix-like vocals on "Day of the Eagle," and the final product is a funky rock jam with some bonus soul lent by Pinnick.

Stevens returns to his acoustic neverland dreamscapes from Flamenco A Go-Go on the sensuous "Water On Ares" while going positively psychedelic on "Josephine" and "Joshua Light Show." Even the seven-minute-plus "Cherry Vanilla" and "Prime Mover" get a bit cosmic the longer Stevens swims in their dynamic vibes. For the rockers' purposes, Stevens amps things up on "Small Arms Fire" and especially with his greasy blues licks on "Hellcats Take the Highway."

Never let it be said that Steve Stevens isn't a guitar player who hasn't withstood the test of time. He makes his random appearances and while people mostly associate him with flogging shrieky licks at Billy Idol's elbows, Stevens has quite a show to put on by himself. Memory Crash is a versatile and creative album that delivers on most levels, and best of all, it leaves you wanting more...

Rating: ****

Children of Bodom - "Blooddrunk" video

Children Of Bodom - Blooddrunk

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Live Photos of Anthrax Reunion 1/06 Nokia Theatre, NYC

A few scenes from one of my favorite road trips...

All Photos (c) 2006-08 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

Dan Keying - "Never Come Back" video

One From the Vault: Dokken - "In My Dreams" video

Never grows old...


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bad Brains - "House of Suffering" Live, Daytona Beach, 1988

More righteousness than you can stand...

Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 2/20/08

Gooooooooood morrrrrrrning, campers!!!

Before I go any further, I'd like to welcome The Metal Minute's worldwide audience. Uncle Ray's been keeping an eye on the site's visitor legend and I'm thrilled so see so many of you checking in from all around the world, so a mighty hello and hails to the UK, Canada, Australia, Guatemala, Chile, Mexico, Hungary, Indonesia, Turkey, Sweden, Latvia, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Poland, France, Estonia, Finland, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Thailand, Norway, Spain and everyone else I've neglected to single out. All of you are proof positive this music boasts a global community network unlike no other. Thank you for your gracious support.

Feeling good though tired as things heat up in metal land. The promo stacks are starting to list to port, so I'll be having to isolate myself in the dungeon and pound away, assuming I can peel myself away from Dallas, Season 8.

This week's rotation was a narrow chase between Cavalera Conspiracy and my all-time favorite album Chicago III, but eventually my funk rock musical soul mate from 1971 won out. Anyone who truly knows me knows this album is my absolute drug and I cannot deal without it. If the first four or five Ramones album saved my life in the late eighties, Chicago III saved my soul. Sounds corny, I know, but it goes beyond me thinking about my toddler days in the early seventies and how this very long album filled my ears along with Motown and Janis Joplin. As an adult, Chicago III is the album that "gets" me and it lets me know all the way. Though not 100% perfect, we'll give it 98% for musical prowess and an off-the-chart rating for lyrical empathy. When I die, if anyone cares to remember me, play this thing (as well as Candlebox's Happy Pills and Bad Brains' I Against I).

Chicago III often comes off the shelf when I feel like the darkness in my life is so great that I'm going to collapse and surrender to it. It knows me better than I know it. I embrace a small portion of the darkness that haunts all of us because I feel it strengthens me inside; sometimes it's an ally, but left unchecked, it can positively dismantle you. I've written a number of things in private lately to dispel these combative sources of confusion, dejection and anger, but when that doesn't necessarily purge it all clean, one of my ultimate remedies is to spin Chicago III relentlessly until the aches go away or at least alleviates, and it allows me to resume my mantras of healing and prayers for peace and inner warmth.

I'm writing this not seeking out pats on the back or sympathy. I say it simply to express to you all that music is so overwhelmingly passionate that it can save your soul, and that is why Chicago III gets this week's front runner. I'll play it as many times as necessary until I feel not only better, but happy, and happy is where I'm at right now. The future looks brighter, the faces I seek approval from seem to be smiling back at me, and while my mind is as jumbled and knotted as usual, my spirit soars and I want to ride this feeling into the unknown future where I know great changes await.

Add on a lot of vintage sixties and seventies soul, some other albums I fuel my confidence pistons with (Quicksand's Slip being a prime example) and those badass Cavalera Conspiracy and Dead to Fall albums, and it's been an eclectic and uplifting kind of music week. That being said, you know what's next.... leave your selections on the table, friends, and grab yourself a cup of tea while you're here. Kettle's hot.


Chicago - Chicago III
Cavalera Conspiracy - Inflikted
Dead to Fall - Are You Serious?
Bad Brains - God of Love
Quicksand - Slip
The Supremes - The Ultimate Collection
The Four Tops - The Ultimate Collection
Spinners - The Very Best of Spinners
Marvin Gaye - Motown 25th Anniversary Series
L.A. Guns - S/T
Agalloch - The White EP
Thievery Corporation - The Mirror Conspiracy
Overkill - Immortalis
The Mars Volta - Bedlam in Goliath
Gods Revolver - Little Black Horse Where Are You Going With Your Rider?
Dokken - Under Lock and Key
400 Blows - Angels Trumpets and Devil's Trombones
High On Fire - Death is the Communion
Cyclone - Brutal Destruction
Indian - Sights and Abuse/The Sycophant

Prog Nation Tour Dates Announced

One of the biggest lineups in North America this year is the 2008 Prog Nation Tour. Get ready as Dream Theater hits the road with one of the best supporting casts of anyone's tour package all year: 3, Between the Buried and Me and Opeth.

What else do I need say?

Prog Nation Tour Dates:

5/02 - Los Angeles, CA - Gibson Amphitheater
5/03 - Oakland, CA - Paramount Theater
5/05 - Seattle, WA - Wamu Theater
5/06 - Vancouver, BC - Orpheum
5/09 - Calgary, AB - Macewan Hall
5/10 - Calgary, AB - Macewan Hall
5/12 - Minneapolis, MN - Myth
5/13 - Chicago, IL - Rosemont Theater
5/14 - Detroit, MI - The Fillmore
5/16 - Columbus, OH - LC Amphitheater
5/17 - Cleveland, OH - Time Warner Amphitheater at Tower City
5/18 - Albany, NY - The Armory
5/20 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theater
5/21 - New York, NY - Terminal 5
5/22 - New York, NY - Terminal 5
5/26 - Washington, DC - DAR Constitution Hall
5/27 - Richmond, VA - The National
5/28 - Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
5/30 - Miami, FL - The Fillmore
5/31 - Orlando, FL - Hard Rock
6/01 - Tampa, FL - Ruth Eckerd Hall

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CD Review: Baroness - Red Album

Baroness - Red Album
2007 Relapse Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Further proof that the South is where it's at these days for underground rock and metal, Savannah's Baroness are the four-year product of scroungy and sludgy art metal in the same mindframe as Mastodon and Pelican, yet there's a hinged affixation towards sixties and early seventies psychedelics and plenty of greasy chicken lickin' teeming beneath Baroness' spindling crunch chords and jam-mindedness on their debut offering, Red Album.

The most impressive aspect to Baroness' Red Album is how John Dyer Baizley and company shanghai their more obvious prog elements along the album's frequently shifting paths but never lose their intricacy along the journey. Listening to Baroness' shifty note structures on songs like "The Birthing" and "Isak" become a boisterous (and frequently trippy) strum fest is not wholly unlike submitting yourself to King Crimson for the first time. Though Baroness is a few hairs away from becoming a southeast American King Crimson, you have to admire their gutsy inventiveness and capacity to create in a non-conventional (even for this particular strain of low-tuned expressive metal) manner, so much that the opening bars of "Rays on Pinion," which sound like a more floral version of AC/DC, reveal a straightforward rock dynamic to Baroness, while the translucent haze through most of "Walking Wintry Wind" before it spikes into a rockout bombast is an entirely different capability altogether.

Red Album is a capricious ride all the way, so much that Baroness' acoustic interlude "Cockroach en Fleur" is an organic and teasingly swampy instrumental that gives way to "Wanderlust," the album's single. Despite the absolute business of "Wanderlust," it is a rightful ear-catcher that has plenty of streamlined rock grooves gluing Baroness' progressive sections (of which there are plenty, most in succession) together and though mainstream radio would still shy away from this song (because their program directors are flat-out payola pussies), in essence, "Wanderlust" is a surprising straight arrow that still yields more notes at four-plus minutes than the average single.

You can't ask for a lot more than the kind of debut Red Album is. Though some may cringe at the number of years it took Baroness to generate this album, very few can argue with its results. Red Album sounds like it only has to prove something to Baroness themselves, let everyone else get on the train who wants to. It is a highly disciplined inauguration that can make a couple of singular rock riffs on the abbreviated "Teeth of a Cogwheel" sound like a monster stomp because of its layered beats and sonic supplements. Sounds like something worth waiting for, wouldn't you think?

Rating: ****

Monday, February 18, 2008

CD Review: Agalloch - The White EP

Agalloch - The White EP
2008 Vendulus Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Portland, Oregon's Agalloch is one of the most literate dark metal bands currently on the scene. Agalloch's songwriting is so articulately textured with a varied range of external stimuli that it often doesn't register to the casual ear they're performing odes to paganism. There's often a feeling of uptempo effervescence that overshadows the gloomy base of Agalloch's music that it's found favor even with non-black metal and non-pagan listeners. 2006's Ashes Against the Grain was Agalloch's most universally-praised album to-date, and as they continue work on their next full-length, here is a limited edition EP (2000 copy run, so get a move on) acting as a concluding partner to Agalloch's The Grey EP, an evolving experimental neuro trip through ambience and acoustics.

The White EP is a highly sophisticated, sensually tenebrous body of work that further expands on Agalloch's aptitude for epicurean wonderment. Agalloch is so sharp they incorporate voluptuary synth scrubs on "Hollow Stone" and earthbound native drumming on "Pantheist" to accompany their tranced ohm vocals and vibrating electric guitar that buzzes into the epic track two-thirds of the way.

At times, The White EP sounds like a homey folk song filled with a Dylan and Neil Young-flavored acoustic sweep like "Birch White," all to provide a secure sensation to ground the monotone poetry narration, eventually giving way to a winding Medieval acoustic twirl accented by hollow bird chirps to give it a more organic resonance. "Birch White" casually slips into the simply gorgeous "Sowilo Rune," a composition filled with 12-string and piano bliss that deceptively houses a state of calm as Agalloch fuses sinister whispering, undermining dank synths and eventually a wailing electric guitar melody, all done in calculated measures so as not to unhinge the nearly pacifist spirit of the core harmony.

Agalloch doesn't waste the opportunity to subtly express their pagan roots by tacking on a couple of British horror movie soundbytes, but that aside, The White EP is a fertile and symmetrical companion to The Grey EP with a deeper--though subtler--shade of expressionism than Ashes Against the Grain and Mantle. Don't be surprised if one day these guys are described as America's answer to Opeth...

Rating: ****

Gypsy Pistoleros - "Un Hombre Sin Rostro, Pistolero" video

Badass and feelgood glam from Gypsy Pistoleros...

GYPSY PISTOLEROS - Un Hombre Sin Rostro, Pistolero

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

CD Review: Cavalera Conspiracy - Inflikted

Cavalera Conspiracy - Inflikted
2008 Roadrunner Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

If anyone tells you Cavalera Conspiracy doesn't live up to the hype, kick 'em in the ass at once. They're lying. They're false. They're posers.

The event that caused a bit of a ruckus in the underground, namely the onstage reunification of Max and Iggor Cavalera during a Soulfly benefit show was thankfully not a fleeting thing. Despite the fact that Soulfly was riding its heaviest album to-date, Dark Ages and Sepultura had whipped up one of its greatest efforts since Roots with Dante XXI, apparently the fences were mended so greatly that the brothers took a break from their main outfits, hijacked guitar virtuoso Marc Rizzo from Soulfly and brought in Joe Duplantier on bass, then called the new assemblage Cavalera Conspiracy.

You have to love the cajones of these guys for picking a name to jibe the Yoko Ono conspiracy theory that divided Max Cavalera from his Sepultura brethren, namely the reported rift caused by former Sepultura manager (and Max's wife) Gloria. For the record, I met Gloria for a couple of minutes on Soulfly's tour bus while waiting to interview Max and she is a very pleasant woman and quite hospitable. Hence the conspiracy, hence the breach between brothers, and hence one hell of a revenge statement years later in the form of Inflikted, the album most longtime Sepultura fans have been bitching to hear.

No disrespect whatsoever to the groundbreaking shredder that Andreas Kisser is, but Marc Rizzo comes damned near close to stealing the show on Inflikted. He is tempered on the main rhythm lines of each song, but is set free like a spiritual horse on cuts like "Terrorize," "Ultra Violent" and "Bloodbrawl," just to name a few examples. If you've heard his breathtaking second solo album The Ultimate Devotion, then you'll understand perfectly why Marc Rizzo was recruited for Cavalera Conspiracy. It's his soul-baring guitar solos and stranglehold riffing to match Max's chord chugs that helps make Inflikted the heaviest effort it can possibly be.

Max is still, hands-down, the greatest growler in the history of metal and he bellows here in his usual beastly candor (if you meet him face-to-face, it will likely shock you how gentle and kind he is), while Iggor pounds the snot of his drums with absolute purpose, as if this is the first time he's ever played with his brother, when in fact, he's making up for lost time and demonstrating how much the separation hurt. That's the primary feel of Inflikted, quick like a tempest, brutally heavy and emotional as all get-out.

Songs like "Sanctuary," "Hex," "Nevertrust" and "The Doom of All Fires" all feel like Arise and Chaos A.D. era Sepultura as the Cavalera brothers effectively recapture the old magic while letting their sleeve ace Marc Rizzo take them into a new, possible future on "Hearts of Darkness" and "Must Kill."

As mind-numbingly fast and precise as "Hex" is and how genuinely pissed off as "Nevertrust" is and how step heavy as "Dark Ark" (which features la familia Ritchie Cavalera on guest vocals) is, to imagine Cavalera Conspiracy as a one-shot entity is unfathomable. Frankly, if they don't nurture this band and take it far as they can, it'll be tragic, or at least it'll be one of the greatest single side projects in the history of any genre. With no ounce of overstatement, Inflikted is a near-perfect engine of thrash aggression, a complete honor to the name of Cavalera.

Yes, it's that good, now shut up and mosh.

Rating: ****1/2

CD Review: Cyclone - Brutal Destruction reissue

Cyclone - Brutal Destruction reissue
2008 Metal Mind Productions / Roadrunner Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

It's amazing how cruel time can be, not just because of age acceleration and the airs of neglect and forgetfulness associated with keeping up with the here and now. In some cases, time really dates something that was strong and meaningful of its era, causing a frequent antiquated feeling to those living in the new. Watching Logan's Run the other night, I could see just how dated that movie is, even though it was considered cutting edge visualization for 1976, and admittedly, it stands up rather well for a mid-seventies sci-fi flick that probably appears primitive to younger eyes accustomed to CGI.

Such is the case with music. At one time Howlin' Wolf sounded like a pure radical of the underground as did Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC years later. How "Crazy Train" and "Back in Black" lost their danger elements over the past couple decades to the point they actually sound tame and primed for classic rock assimilation is beyond comprehension. Ditto for certain old school metal and thrash albums. Today's metal scene is generally set at a much faster pace and the tech is far superior to the eight track analog recording methods of the eighties, so much that to revisit albums that were considered pioneers of the genre, albums that were the heaviest metal had to offer at one time, now sound shockingly domesticated by comparison.

The joy at finding an old friend like Cyclone's Brutal Destruction in the promo pack this past week brought me back to the days of tape swapping and recording, so much that nobody really complained because the music was spreading around and getting these bands noticed and the reason nobody bitched was because eventually we all wanted our own crisp copies with the artwork and (hopefully) lyrics after gnawing the pilfered copies through hungry tape players. Ahh, the glory days...

What struck me upside the head while spinning Brutal Destruction was how astonishingly dated it sounds. Goddammit, this was one of the heaviest thrash albums of 1986 and Belgium's Cyclone was considered an in-the-know metalhead's band because the scene had heated up with enough practitioners of speed metal that Exodus, Testament, Slayer and Megadeth were plenty enough for some listeners. If you knew Cyclone, you knew Heathen, Atrophy, Znowhite, Forbidden and many other lost relic thrashers of the day.

Though Brutal Destruction had a minimal impact on the North American thrash scene, it was considered a gem of its day. Now to listen to Brutal Destruction, one can sadly hear the imperfections, the clunkiness and for many untrained ears, the screeching of Guido Gevels is just way over-the-top. Nevermind the album moves on all cylinders through songs like "Long to Hell," "Fighting the Fatal," "In the Grip of Evil," "Incest Love" and "The Call of Steel."

Brutal Destruction, however, cannot be measured by today's standards, because current techniques and methods would just bury it without a thought. What must be appreciated about Brutal Destruction is its tenacity and swift thrash attack that can now be heard in a lot of younger thrash revivalists like Warbringer, Skeletonwitch and Fueled by Fire who are savvy enough to turn to an album like this and recognize it as a paving stone like Dark Angel's Darkness Descends, Destruction's Release From Agony and Forbidden's Forbidden Evil.

Though it's incomprehensible to unseasoned fans to think that Cyclone's "Take Thy Breath" was considered one of the fastest songs of the original thrash scene, it most certainly was because this was the time when DRI's Dealing With It and SOD's Speak English Or Die came out, two albums that just blew our minds from their unadulterated velocity. So too did Brutal Destruction, and though now it serves more as a metal history lesson than anything, it's most certainly a welcome trip back through red times, as Armored Saint would say...

Rating: ***1/2

"Why Don't You See?" lyrics by Ray Van Horn, Jr.

I'm currently reading Beth Lahickey's All Ages: Reflections On Straight Edge and these lyrics just spilled out. Now all I need's a band!

Why Don’t You See?
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Here I am and there you are
See me yes, see me no
I’m not hard to spot
Even in the dark

I thought you were my friend
I thought we wore the same coat
But our sleeves are fading now
One day they might not fit


Why can’t you see?
The terror stabbing in my heart
Why don’t you see?
The doubt wringing out my mind
How can’t you see?
My smile keeps going away
Why won’t you see?
I don’t want to do this alone

You’ve got your cross to bear
And mine’s been there awhile
Trodden dirt turns into mud
Who says we have to carry them alone?

I need an ear that understands
How I walk and how I talk
And all that punishes me inside
I’m not asking for your blood

Repeat Chorus

We walk two lines once parallel
Now our paths are forked
I count two feet on the move
Where four used to be

Repeat Chorus

Saturday, February 16, 2008

CD Review: Dead to Fall - Are You Serious?

Dead to Fall - Are You Serious?
2008 Victory Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

What an appropriate title for a band that has grown exponentially through four albums and have now reached the pinnacle of their capacities. Each of Dead to Fall's albums preceding Are You Serious? have produced gradually building moments of excitement that has been just a step ahead of their thrashcore competitors. To this point, Villainy and Virtue remained Dead to Fall's highest achievement, though 2006's The Phoenix Throne still carried the band stridently.

Still, if anything was lost in translation on The Phoenix Throne despite capitalizing on word-of-mouth generated by Everything I Touch Falls to Pieces and Villainy and Virtue, it was Dead to Fall themselves, largely due to the chaotic personnel changes that greatly destablized the band's momentum. The shake-up was initially so devastating one had to wonder if the DIY-minded Jonathan Hunt was going to be able to keep a grounded posse in his throng. Doubling as band tour manager in addition to his regular duties as vocalist and face man of the band certainly had to have exhausted him, if not his former bandmates.

Whatever questions existed in the duration of time between The Phoenix Throne and Are You Serious? has been answered with a vengeance, and perhaps with a little more street savvy, so much that Hunt and his current demolition squad waste no time in mocking Dead to Fall's place in the metal world--moreso mocking the seriousness of trying to exist in an overwhelmingly crowded underground with the hilarious "Stupid?" Cutting up with lyrics like "We already have a song about a shark, oh shit, it's the death metal riff!" and "Sit in my room and write some brutal shit I know I'm never gonna do, we gotta make it thrash and make 'em bang their heads real fast, make sure this song is really fucking stupid." How can you not appreciate the maturity level of Hunt to take a swipe at the inherent immaturity of creating this kind of music? Cheers, man...

What's even more impressive about Are You Serious? is Dead to Fall's accelerated sense of style, so much that their non-traditional cybernetic album cover is an indicator of how much Dead to Fall has obviously felt the need to rise to the occasion on this thing. The brisk and controlled melodies floating at will amidst the blazing speed of "Sleeping Bag," "Doombok," "Astral Projection/Dream J(ourney)," and "Robo Destro" are utterly impressive, as if Hunt and his gang spent a little time absorbing some Voivod in their downtime. The feels of these songs are breathtakingly instinctive even if some might think them calculative; not many bands have the guts to pull off the malleable melodies that make these some of Dead to Fall's best-written songs ever, and that only gives us pause to think of what else is coming down the pike in their future.

Are You Serious? moves like a beast on cuts like "Major Rager," "Astral Projection/Dream J(ourney)," "Doombok" and "Cropgrower," but it's Dead to Fall's exploration modes on "Sleeping Bag," "Loch Ness," "Astral Projection/Dream J(ourney)" and "Brainmelter" that is the most telling of how far Jonathan Hunt and Dead to Fall has come in six years. To be at this level of songwriting in a fairly short amount of time, particularly given the band's internal disruptions, hails a haughty and determined resolve to create thrash and grind at a superior level. One of 2008's early gate crashers, Are You Serious? is not to be missed...

Rating: ****1/2

Underappreciated Slabs Saturday: Slayer - Diabolus in Musica

The cult of Slayer is so vast that to insult them means bringing down a hailstorm that could've decimated a Chinese dynasty faster than Genghis Khan. Very few--and I mean very few--bands enjoy the veritible legion of support that Slayer has, and their audience consists of chamber fugue cellists to computer programmers to college professors right on down to a consistently regenerating youth brigade, all tossing horns in the air and yelling "Fucking Slayer!!!" with the same spirited battle roar as an army of pissed-off Celts.

The overall endearment of Slayer's fans to the band is a cultural study in itself, and even though there continues to lurk a lingering debate as to whether or not South of Heaven was a logical follow-up to Slayer's masterpiece Reign in Blood, there's still a respect issued between the minor division lines because to slag Slayer, in particular amongst its fan base, is considered by most to be heresy and high treason.

All that being said, I have to question where the love is for Diabolus in Musica. One of the least-mentioned of Slayer's vast body of thrash (along with God Hates Us All and Haunting the Chapel, inexplicably), a consistent consensus of fans have either cited this album as being too far off the beaten path or outright neglecting to cite it all.

Why is this?

By creating the greatest speed metal and death metal album all-time, did Slayer condemn themselves to a life sentence of strict velocity and brutality that if they try to deviate from the script even to the minutest measure, they're going to get flagged for it? Come on, crew, sometimes slowing the tempo actually increases the heaviness, or are those of you who feel that anything below 100 mph is wussy unfamiliar with the savage and heavy rhythms of doom metal? Woe be to you...

Agreed, Diabolus in Musica is an experimental album for Slayer, so much the common outrage fans have expressed their shock over with this album is Tom Araya's rap-scat on "Love to Hate" and to a lesser degree, "Stain of Mind." Okay, since Diabolus in Musica came out in 1998 during the Limp Bizkit rap metal whatever-you-want-to-call-that-blotch-on-heavy-music-history, there was maybe a tiny cause for alarm at best, but seriously, if anyone thought Slayer was going to turn all-out-rap, then they should've woke up and at least given Slayer some credit for trying a step-heavy, almost jivey death march that, sorry to disagree with you lot, is a hell of a cool song.

Seriously, why not? Kerry King peeled off a couple of juicy solos for the Beastie Boys on their License to Ill album; if they all see something in each other to toss out a little side love in their own work, then respect it. Whether or not you buy into what "Love to Hate" is about, which is almost nonsensical honestly, be glad Slayer still carried iron nads in their jeans instead of filling the song up with scratches and a corporate rap huckster howling "Yeeahhhhhhhhh!!! Money, money, money, pussy, juice and bling...cap that n-- in the head, fool won't feel a thing!" in the background. In other words, just let it be.

Another song from Diabolus in Musica that deserves more respect is the grinding crunch of "Death's Head," one of Slayer's heaviest songs ever, regardless of what velocity you feel constitutes a proper Slayer song. What constitutes a Slayer song, folks, is that "fuck you" attitude, regardless if it's played at the speed of "Criminally Insane" or "Killing Fields" or at a couple of ticks slower, not that "Death's Head" is slow in any shape or fashion. The pounding beats from Paul Bostaph on this song are so extreme you can't help but get ignited, especially once Araya, King and Jeff Hanneman answer Bostaph's war call with a massive rhythm that addresses the anger inside the song as well as the anger inside the bodies of the performers and their listeners. Don't believe me? This past week I left for home late with a thousand ions of anger swirling inside me and the minute "Death's Head" thundered in my face on the road, I was seized by it as I have been countless times and I roared with Tom Araya in absolute frustration, "Death's pointed at your head, your mind's on the trigger, pull it!" In other words, Slayer is addressing the fact we're all so obsessed with death and dying we're afraid to live properly in the moment we have in our hands.

Don't buy that either? Well, it was worth a try, but the point is that Diabolus in Musica is an adventurous album that takes a number of risks but still throws out the blazing cuts of destruction some Slayer fans will sacrifice cats in their back yards to savor, like "Bitter Peace," "Point" and "Scrum." Yes, Slayer makes you wait on these songs before delivering their thrash payoffs, but for crying out loud, what's so bad about that? Are we so unsophisticated we can't appreciate the build-up and suspense like a good horror film that deliberately holds the goods until appropriate, then socks you in the puss when you're perhaps a bit too relaxed?

In many ways, I favor Slayer's pitter-pattering throughout Diabolus in Musica on cuts like "Screaming From the Sky," "In the Name of God" and "Overt Mind," particularly the way the latter two create an ominous presence through their slinking rhythms before stepping on the gas in the second halves of each song. The double-timed parts of "Overt Mind" and "In the Name of God" (with a particularly nasty guitar gang bang from King and Hanneman at the end) are more meaningful because we've had to wait for them, and that's abundanza, as far as I'm concerned...

A final point, how brilliant are Slayer for concocting the ultra time signature swapfest in under three minutes with "Scrum?" If that doesn't give up all the goods in an efficient manner, I don't know what does.

Whether or not this little manifesto convinces you of Diabolus in Musica's worthiness is beyond my control, but I will say that this one and Reign in Blood are my most-often played Slayer discs because each album contains the most overwhelming display of Slayer's capabilities in such personable fashion they're hard to ignore. Hardly Diabolus in Musica is the same masterwork as Reign, but for my money, it is certainly is of Slayer's most interesting and dynamic bodies of work.

Napalm Death and Devildriver Featured on the Bound By the Road Tour

The godfathers of grind join Devildriver, Walls of Jericho, 36 Crazyfists and Invitro for a tour campaign spanning nearly two months on the Bound By the Road Tour.

For Napalm Death, this leg marks the end of their touring cycle in support of their most recent album Smear Campaign. Ringleader/vocalist Barney Greenway comments, "With so many tours under the belt now, I am wary of rolling out the tired out ‘it will be awesome to see you all again’ stuff. But it will be, all the same. Shit, there I go. I really haven’t had much room/time to breathe in any particular direction since we were last in the U.S. and here we are again preparing to come back with DevilDriver. I think we’ll be bringing back ‘Greed Killing’ and ‘Necessary Evil’ (well, that’s the plan at this point) and otherwise it’s going to be breathless, fast, heavy and spontaneous. The setlist will feature some Scum stuff to Smear Campaign and something of everything else – all in a pleasant 45-minute package. Yummy!"

Greenway also states that Napalm Death will be soon working on their follow-up to Smear Campaign, but don't expect any gory details for awhile:

"We are finally discussing and planning the nucleus of the next album. Don’t have any finished songs yet and not really any lyrics that I want to mention – in case they end up not being used. If this all sounds vague, it doesn’t mean that we won’t have an album ready to go by August. We don’t fuck around when the prospect of progress dawns. I did get a tiny sneak listen of one or two of Shane’s songs he’s working on – and they are crazy chaotic-fast-hardcore-mongous. I think we may also further develop the Swans-esque/avant garde angle a little more too in places. We shall see and we hope to see you all soon.”

Bound By the Road Tour Dates:

February 27 - Modesto, CA @ The Fat Cat
February 28 - Orangevale, CA @ The Boardwalk
February 29 - West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
March 2 - Tucson, AZ @ The Rock
March 4 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
March 6 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom
March 7 - Fort Worth, TX @ Ridglea Theater
March 8 - San Antonio, TX @ Scout Bar
March 9 - Corpus Christi, TX @ House of Rock
March 14 - Seminole, FL @ Boomerz
March 15 - Port St. Lucie, FL @ Mojo Room
March 17 - Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
March 18 - Fayetteville, NC @ Jesters
March 19 - Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
March 20 - North Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
March 21 - Jacksonville, NC @ Hooligans
March 22 - Springfield, VA @ Jaxx
March 24 - New York, NY @ B.B. King Blues Club
March 25 - Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock
March 26 - Hartford, CT @ Webster Theater
March 27 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
March 28 - Bedford, NH @ Mark's Showplace
March 29 - Clifton, NY @ Northern Lights
March 31 - Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls
April 1 - Louisville, KY @ Headliner's
April 2 - Cleveland, OH @ Peabody's
April 3 - Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
April 4 - Detroit, MI @ Harpo's
April 5 - Flint, MI @ Machine Shop
April 6 - Mokena, IL @ Pearl Room
April 8 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
April 9 - Maplewood, MN @ The Rock
April 11 - Sauget, IL @ Pop's
April 12 - Kansas City, MO @ The Beaumont
April 13 - Salina, KS @ The Blue Goat
April 16 - Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
April 17 - Famington, NM @ Gator's
April 18 - Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theater

Friday, February 15, 2008

CD Review: Winds of Plague - Decimate the Weak

Winds of Plague - Decimate the Weak
2008 Century Media Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

You're off to a pretty good start when your album cover sports a samuarai wielding bloody wakizashi, but as we all know, it's the meat inside the packaging that counts. If it's full of filler and gristle, then one could easily accuse it of dressing things up, leaving just enough of the good parts to barely warrant its existence.

SoCal's Winds of Plague has a lot of good ideas. Now on their second album Decimate the Weak, the formerly-known Black December obviously has big things in mind. It's fully apparent by Decimate the Weak that Winds of Plague is still scripting together the many influences and external voices to create their own unique style, which is to bring the whole kibosh together in as grand a style as they can muster.

What's to their favor is a terrific pair of guitarists Nick Piunno and Nick Eash, who make a formidable alliance for anyone's band, much less Winds of Plague. Frankly, these guys are the voice of Winds of Plague, even as vocalist Johnny Plague yelps, pukes and displays his affinity for F-bombs, and even as keyboardist Matt Fineman applies nice coats and supplements to give Winds of Plague's disordered metalcore base a slightly grandiose lift, particularly on "Origins and Endings," "One Body Too Many" and "Angels of Debauchery."

What Winds of Plague is attempting to do with Decimate the Weak is to collide American hardcore with Euro and Scandinavian death and power metal. While the intention is noble, it's their propensity to skid all momentum into singular breakdown sequences that only work on occasion, while positively disrupting in others, "Angels of Debauchery" being an example of the former, "A Cold Day in Hell" an example of the latter.

If anything, Winds of Plague are showing a demonstrative ability to think outside the box. Additionally, what they've achieved since their days of playing in limited spurts during college semester breaks is pretty noteworthy. Everything they've put into "Angels of Debauchery," the album's finest cut, brings forth strains of Iron Maiden as it does Faith No More amidst its primary hardcore foundry. Most certainly this band is going to catch on with a number of listeners because they possess the go-nuts breakdown angle that gets the kids bouncing, but Winds of Plague is at least smart enough to recognize the limitations metalcore has milked to death and they're seeking other measures even as they're still confined by its central principles. Given the chance to continue their genesis, hopefully Winds of Plague finds further recognition and then really unleashes the hounds.

Rating: ***

High On Fire - "Rumors of War" video

One of America's best metal bands, period...

Psyopus - "Insects" (soundcheck)

The perfect expression of many frustrating voices crashing inside one's head... Exactly what the doctor ordered this morning...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day From The Metal Minute

2008 Off to a Monster Start in Metal

The outlook for metal in 2008 thus far appears way high out the gate based on a number of forthcoming or already-released albums in quick succession with everyone stepping up their game and collecting heads along the way. The Max and Igor reunion goes beyond the hype with Cavalera Conspiracy, while Dead to Fall have transcended their own capacities on Are You Serious? which comes out next Tuesday, February 19th. By now everyone should be tuned in to Byzantine and Earth, but prepare yourselves for a fiercely competitive 2008. So strap in and hold on, because based on the early entrants, this is potentially a year to remember. It just has that vibe. Here's a handful of albums The Metal Minute suggests you keep you an eye out for:

Dead to Fall - Are You Serious?
Cavalera Conspiracy - Inflikted
Byzantine - Oblivion Beckons
Earth - The Bee Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
Boris - Smile
Ascension of the Watchers - Numinosum
Five Finger Death Punch - The Way of the Fist
Hate Eternal - Fury and Flames
The Ocean - Precambrian

Cattle Decapitation Begins Work On New Album and Issues Playing Dates

Metal Blade announces:

"Everyone’s favorite vegetarian grindcore band CATTLE DECAPITATION has begun writing material for their next album, due out in late 2008. This will be the band’s first recording with new drummer David Mcgraw (ex-Sleep Terror) who joined CATTLE DECAPITATION in fall of 2007.

Cattle Decapitation has also lined up some local Southern California shows, including first time appearances at the Los Angeles Murder Festival and The Gathering of the Sick Festival. Updates to the venues and additional cities will be posted on Cattle Decapitation’s MySpace page and website shortly."

Cattle Decapitation dates:

03/07 Ventura, CA Mais Cafe
03/08 Berkeley, CA The 924 Gilman Project
04/05 Corona, CA Showcase Theatre w/ Anal Blast
04/20 Hollywood, CA The Knitting Factory (Los Angeles Murder-fest)
04/25 Bakersfield, CA TBA
04/26 Lancaster, CA Schooners
05/31 Albuquerque, NM Gathering of the Sick Festival (Venue TBD)

The Red Chord to Tour With Converge on the Lions For Lambs Tour

Where do they come up with these tour names?

The Red Chord and Converge, along with Genghis Tron and Baroness embark upon the Lions For Lambs Tour starting March 30th through most of April. The Red Chord will then continue their road wars into May with Coliseum.

Dates as follows:

Lions for Lambs tour featuring Converge, The Red Chord, and Genghis Tron
dates w/ Baroness

3/30 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
4/01 NYC, NY @ The Blender Theatre @ Gramercy
4/02 Buffalo, NY @ Showplace Theatre
4/03 Cleveland, OH @ Peabody's Downunder
4/04 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
4/05 Chicago, IL @ Reggies Rock Club
4/06 Chicago, IL @ Reggies Rock Club
4/07 Milwaukee, WI @ Richfield Chalet
4/08 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
4/09 Sioux Falls, SD @ Nutty's North
4/10 Iowa City, IA @ The Picador
4/11 Omaha, NE @ Sokol Underground
4/12 Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
4/13 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
4/15 Boise, ID @ The Venue
4/16 Portland, OR @ Satyricon
4/18 Los Angeles, CA @ Knitting Factory
4/19 Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse
4/20 Tempe, AZ @ The Clubhouse Music Venue

dates w/ Coliseum
4/22 Austin, TX @ Red 7
4/23 Dallas, TX @ The Door
4/24 Houston, TX @ Red Room @ Meridian
4/25 New Orleans, LA @ The High Ground
4/26 St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre
4/27 Orlando, FL @ The Social
5/1 Baltimore, MD @ Otto Bar
5/2 Pittsburgh, PA @ The School
5/3 Philadelphia, PA @ Starlight Ballroom

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Slayer - "Chemical Warfare" Live, 1985

In honor of Slayer winning their second Grammy, let's have a dash of 'em old school style... Mosh, you fucks!

Slayer, 1985 "Chemical Warfare"

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Whattya Listenin' to Wednesday - 2/13/08

Time time time...ain't on my side, no it ain't...

So what's happening, my faithful lot? Another week, another Wednesday, more of the same rush rush and cough cough and fielding some particularly nasty brokers and lenders in mortgage land. For a business slowly on the upswing you'd think people would be a bit more grateful to have their jobs instead of being the bitter pills they're collectively acting like these days. Oh well, it's a part of human nature we all have to deal with, the miserery loves company sect.

So Slayer picks up a second Grammy and all they had to do was re-release the same album with a couple bonus tracks. No disrespect to Slayer, I love them to death and I enjoyed talking to an enthusiastic Tom Araya when they won their first Grammy last year. On the other hand, though, for a category (Best Metal Performance) that you have to Google search in order to find out the result, it's telling of the time and effort the Grammy committee puts into this one. Frankly, I was astonished to see King Diamond in contention. Frankly, I would've put Between the Buried and Me and Wolves in the Throne Room up for the award, but that's why I continue to jabber from my computer on the east coast and not find excuses to award someone with chronic substance abuse Album of the Year.

Don't get me wrong, I like Amy Winehouse's Back to Black quite a bit (she even got a few spins this week before the Grammy Awards, no less, interesting karma there), even with the faux Motown swing backing her. Amazing that the sixties soul vibe can catch back on, albeit in roughneck form, but it's ten times better than the corporate (c)rap and blip hop that's turned those fine genres into a money-grubbing joke. Someone who adamantly refuses to go to rehab in song and in life, though? I don't know, man... To quote Ms. Winehouse, what kind of fuckery is this? I'll leave it at that since I don't know the lady personally, only that she was staggering drunk at the Virgin Fest last summer. Hopefully winning five Grammys will enlighten the girl a bit.

But enough of the grousing on this end; mad props to Slayer for representing us metalheads, though shit on the Grammys for being the usual conservative wankers they always are. The White Stripes and Foo Fighters are certainly deserving bands of the categories they won (alternative rock and rock), but they're also totem tokens for a pocket committee at the beckon call of the majors, overriding the handful of renegades who are delegated to cover the more meaningful categories that get no love or attention anyhow. Wait a minute, I did say I'd stop grousing, didn't I?

As for repeat love in my music spinning world, guess I'll go with the Six Feet Under soundtrack. I'm so in love with the majority of these songs that I think I will go and assemble my own take on the concept, though knowing me, it'll be a double disc. Maybe I'll call it The Van Horn Chronicles or The Anti Grammy Album or Love and Anger... Damn, I'm tired...

Six Feet Under soundtrack
Yes - The Yes Album
Yes - Relayer
3 - The End is Begun
Death Angel - Killing Season
Earth - The Bee Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works
Balzac - Chaos from Darkism
Balzac - Out of the Grave and Into the Dark
Air - The Virgin Suicides
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Starofash - The Thread
Hellhammer - Demon Entrails
Lillian Axe - Lillian Axe
Blue Skies For Black Hearts - Love is Not Enough
Five Finger Death Punch - The Way of the Fist
Cavalera Conspiracy - Inflikted
Overkill - From the Underground and Below
Overkill - Immortalis
Candlebox - Candlebox
Candlebox - Lucy
Candlebox - Happy Pills
Depeche Mode - Ultra
Depeche Mode - Exciter
Gorgoroth - Under the Sign of Hell

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Take 5 With Jeff Waters of Annihilator

Unfortunately, perception is everything in the entertainment business, whether you're talking about the inexplicable odyssey of Britney Spears or the missing-parts-dissemination of the career of Jeff Waters and his still-flourishing offspring Annihilator. At one time, Waters used to take it personal if you would accuse him of narcissism or having no personality or most especially get on his case for the revolving door of musicians who make up the historical roster list of Annihilator.

The man takes it all in stride now, because 12 albums later, Jeff Waters is still putting out viable music in the form of Metal, an album that attracted a last minute array of well-known metal revivalists such as Michael Amott and Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, Willie Adler of Lamb of God, Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom, Corey Beaulieu of Trivium, Anders Bjorier of The Haunted and others. These people all recognize what this writer has had the opportunity to know through two interviews with Jeff Waters, that he is frequently misunderstood, one hell of a fun guy to chat with, and the contributions he's given to heavy metal is understated on paper but realized by the current practitioners of the form. It's my privilege to share with you this Take 5 piece with Jeff Waters...

MM: I honestly don’t think a lot of people “get” you or get who you are, and that’s something people should understand: you've been a single dad trying to keep your career afloat which has to have been a bitch over the years...

JW: It has, but you know, but when you have a band, it’s supposed to be a band. It’s called Annihilator, but then not even from the first album but right from the first demos in ’85-86, you’ve got one guy in the band who’s rotating musicians and singers and drummers and touring lineups and it changes all the time...immediately people who don’t know the band will assume--wrongly of course--the guy must be a total asshole, a dictator or whatever, because usually when a guy or leader can’t keep a band together, a lot of the times it’s because the guy’s a complete asshole. In my case, I was in the earlier days; I was this really raging drunk having fun, you know? Because of drinking and being one-minded, Annihilator was just my one and only focus in life. Nobody else mattered, nothing else mattered. In the early days, the initial impression with Annihilator was that, bang, they come out with these demos that are huge! We had like the third biggest demos in that whole cassette tape trading history. Kerrang! and all these big magazines in Europe said it was their biggest demo traded and we went from that to Roadrunner and then Alice in Hell and Never Neverland hit, then Set the World On Fire came out in ’93 and some of the North Americans went ‘Whoa, this is more melodic and more commercial and this kind of metal sucks anyway!’ It was a massive album for us everywhere else and the one after that was even bigger, so it was a very strange career, but a lot of people who don’t know anything about Annihilator in North America or had just heard of the first couple albums, they just would assume ‘Oh, that guy’s a jerk and he couldn’t keep a band together!’

A lot of people just have that in their head, but it doesn’t bug me because since the internet has spawned over here a number of years ago, that’s all you see on the internet, just a lot of negative stuff. There are some people who stand up for me, saying ‘No, no, you’ve got to understand this, and the guy’s a dad, he kept rolling with his metal and he loves it and he doesn’t change and doesn’t give a damn what the record company thinks; he just does what he wants to do and people actually like his records!’ (laughs) You get tough-skinned and don’t let that stuff bother you. It used to bug me in the nineties where I’d be like, ‘Hey, wait a minute, I’m famous overseas! I actually bought a car and a house!’ (laughs) You lose that attitude quickly when you realize it doesn’t matter; who cares what anybody thinks about this anyway? You do it for yourself and if the fans like it, then it’s a total bonus.

MM: Well, cyberspace is like High Fidelity where people just throw in their two cents worth on music topics, but a lot of it is so disrespectful because it’s hypothetically anonymous where people can just say what they want to say without any repercussions held to them.

JW: Yeah, it’s easy to do it behind a computer when you don’t have to face anyone. I’ve been reading a lot of bad stuff over the years, terrible stuff about Kevin Dubrow and Quiet Riot for instance, then all of a sudden Kevin passes and now everybody’s saying how influential he was--and he was; he was part of a band that was just hugely influential back then at that time. People said nasty stuff in the past but then they come out and say what a great guy and influence he was. People change their minds and jump on bandwagons, it’s just normal. Sometimes it’s easy to say stuff behind a computer that you normally wouldn’t say to anyone else. It really doesn’t matter!

There’s people with problems who come on and say terrible stuff about everyone! I read stuff about Jon Schaffer, about Dave Mustaine, about Yngwie Malmsteen, about Eddie Van Halen, about Jeff Waters... Sometimes I read this stuff and go, ‘My God, what is wrong in your lives that you’ve gotta say ‘I hope his family dies in a horrible accident!’ You know the awful crap people say. Wait a second, man; get off the internet! Metal is fun, metal is good. You don’t have to like every song, you don’t have to like every band, but don’t slam personal things like families and assume you know the person just because they do something, and don’t slam somebody when they love what they do. Metal’s such a small community; the real metal community is so small, the people I know in it. The bands in it and the members of these bands, most of us are all friends and we’re all trying to help each other out. That goes right up to the Priests and the Slayers and the Megadeths right down to the newer bands, to Children of Bodom, Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Trivium, everything. Everybody’s trying to help each other out because everyone loves metal, you know?

MM: I agree, and with all of that being said, I think it’s great you put out that DVD Ten Years in Hell that tells your story deeper; obviously I don’t need to tell you about the history of the press being your shadow...

JW: It’s been a long haul. Unless you’re Slayer or Metallica or Maiden, metal is not a thing you do; even the younger bands come out and say it’s not something you do for money. Now there are some guys that have said they got disappointed because they were doing it for money, and it’s kind of easy to tell who those guys are, but at the same time for me, it’s just the opposite. If I was doing it for money, I would never have gone past the first couple of records! I would’ve gotten into a lot of other opportunities that I had in music and doing other studio things and video game music, all those different things that came my way...and joining other bands that are in more of the pop and rock vein. I tried a few times to sort of stray off the path and get tempted by that little carrot dangling, the bag of gold (laughs) but I was like, ‘Wait a minute, if I did this, I could make a ton of money at that and it’s more money than I’ve ever had,’ and things like that have actually come up for me. I’d start to walk down that path and then I’d just turn around and run! It’s not like I’m scared or anything; I just know that I’m going to regret it and I have a feeling that I was meant to do this. I don’t know why, but I enjoy doing the records even though it’s a lot of pain and suffering to do this stuff! (laughs) Sometimes the sales and the popularity are good, and sometimes they dip down, so financially it’s a ridiculous thing to be in! For some strange reason, I know I’m going to die doing this I think, just because I’m a metal fan.

MM: Which leads into your album Metal, with Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom and Corey Beaulieu of Trivium amongst your many guests on the album. You had Schizo Deluxe not too long ago at all, which I look at as a pivotal moment as far as moving from one era to another with Annihilator, but what you’ve got going with Metal is an entirely new direction with all of these musicians you have on it.

JW: Yeah, the Metal record was pretty much finished recording and then I get a call from Corey Beaulieu one day, who just gave me a call and asked how my record was going as he was doing Trivium’s Crusade record in Florida and he asked if I was finished with it and I said almost, so he goes ‘Hey, can I play a solo on it?’ I went, ‘You’re kidding me, right? Wow, that’d be fantastic!’ Originally it was just Corey and I was going to just have him do a little solo on the record because I absolutely appreciate someone who’s in his early twenties trying their best in being huge fans of the eighties metal stuff that I love. Corey was listening to the same music I was listening to in the eighties and that I listen to now. So I thought, ‘He’s got his rock, these guys get slammed all the time with their first Roadrunner album,’ and all of a sudden they’re changing and Matt (Heafy) is singing like (James) Hetfield and it has the Testament, Exodus and Metallica vibe, but you’ve got to give them total credit for trying to bring the right kind of music back to the public.

So within a day of agreeing to have Corey on the record, I was talking to Michael Amott and I thought, ‘Hey, while I’m talking to these guys...’ So I said, ‘Hey, Michael, do want to do a solo?’ (laughs) It just spread and so I called Alexi Laiho the next day and then Willie Adler of Lamb of God and I didn’t have any problems. These guys all said yes and there was no management or record company or hassles or b.s. or ‘We want all of this money’ kind of stuff. It was like, ‘We love your music and would like to play on this record,’ and that was it. I picked guys who liked my music and that I liked their music.

MM: It’s interesting between your last three albums, where I feel like All For You is your dark horse album because it’s so weird and experimental and it has a lot of different things going on, yet I still pick it up and play it all the time, while I think Schizo Deluxe is one of your more brutal albums of the last five years, and now with Metal, you’re all simply over the place. It's a bit of a summary of Annihilator's entire career, wouldn't you say?

JW: It all changes because if you look at even the first four records, which are our four biggest ones, the Alice in Hell album had Randy Rampage on it and it was more of a thrash album, though the songs that made us popular were the first two, and those first two songs were not thrash. It was the classical guitar piece leading into a commercial metal song, “Alison Hell.” If you listen to that now, you realize how melodic that is; it’s not thrash metal. The rest of the album was pretty much thrash, real fast hand picking, drumming and stuff. So it was a thrash album, but the thing that got us going was not the thrash on that; it was more of the melodic stuff. The next record was a completely different singer, a completely different production, and Never Neverland was an even bigger record—-before the Metallica song came out! (laughs) It was a big record for us and then we went into the third record Set the World On Fire with a third singer and a much more melodic thing where we even had some ballads on there and that’s the year when everything seemed to die for metal bands of the old school in North America, but that record was huge everywhere else. We’d go to Japan and Europe where it was a big album and then bang! Four albums and four singers by the time we did King of the Kill!

I thought ‘Okay, my career’s done, this is ridiculous! Fourth singer and now I’m singing? What’s really going on here? This ain’t gonna work, so I’ll just go down in flames!’ A few of my friends convinced me, ‘No, you sing on the demos that you give to the singers; why don’t you do it?’ So I did it and I was pretty damned depressed during that album thinking ‘Okay, this is it! Four records, I cannot complain. I’ve had a hell of a ride on this one.’ How many people get to do what I did through the fourth record? It was amazing because we’d become a number one band in Japan and it was probably our biggest tour in Europe. It was just ridiculous how the whole thing worked and from there it’s just been cruising along, you know?

(c) 2008 The Metal Minute / Ray Van Horn, Jr.