Antigama – Meteor

antigama-meteorHardcore music shows us the paradox of the individual and the group. The more individualistic someone is, the more they want the group to like them. But to do that, they need to fit in, even if being ironically “different.” This phenomenon ate up hardcore music as former anarchists found out that soliciting support for their bands was a lot like, well, capitalism and politics.

Since that time, stretching from the dawn of the 1980s to late in that decade, hardcore has been contorting to find a new voice for itself. The best candidates came out of the late 1980s post-hardcore bands, who essentially “got postmodern” by deconstructing music into lots of simple bits put together into something bigger. But instead of becoming complex, it became disconnected, dissassociative and chaotic.

After that point, and the onslaught of grindcore, hardcore headed further into the breakdown model. How chaotic could something be before it fell apart? In the late 1990s, they reinvigorated the genre with a dose of metal, which gave it more complex riffing, but still the songwriting aspect of this new genre was elusive. One reason some bands around here get praised is that they’ve tried to make songs coherent again.

Into this drops Antigama, who use the techniques of the current time but are trying to get back to the punk ideal of simplicity. They use the math-metal slash “progressive hardcore” (emo/indie) riffs as much as the next band, and they feature the frenetic vocals that match eight syllables to each beat and stay slightly ahead of the beat as if commanding it like propaganda through megaphones. However, these songs are at heart very much in the classic hardcore vein of verses and choruses and, when a point has been established, some kind of break (not breakdown) before repeating.

The problem is that the “collage” mentality afflicts them still. Under this mentality, it’s bad to have too much focus on any one thing, but better to be open to everything. Thus you mix it all in your music, throwing in as many radically different things as you can to maintain high contrast. Antigama do this more as the album goes along (was this written in studio?) tossing in bits of hard rock, jazz, blues, and other genres.

The first half of this album is really the part to listen to, which is some good and focused hardcore dressed up as metalcore (the hybrid of metal and hardcore that focuses on high contrast through abrupt changes to unrelated riffs). If this band thought through this situation further, they might pick up where hardcore left off actual experimentation, and try some more complex but structured song forms or more articulated riff styles.

Like most record reviews, this one is essentially a “it’s good if you like this style.” This means the band are competent, but when dialogue is about style only, it means that the content wasn’t there enough. What did this record express? Better than average participation in metalcore by a band that should’ve written hardcore music instead and completed the album before getting into the studio.

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Krieg to re-issue Blue Miasma with original, heavier mix

krieg-blue_miasmaAccording to frontman Imperial, Krieg have unearthed the original recordings of the Blue Miasma album, without samples, and are going to use this heavier mix for the re-issue of the album. Imperial mentioned this in a Facebook post detailing the discovery.

Imperial said, “The original unmastered with no samples mix of Blue Miasma has been unearthed thanks to Jeff Marcheski and will have some minor additions to it for the reissue of the album. This original mix was heavier and dirtier than the one that got released and, to me at least, sounds better.”

While the original Krieg release was improvisational chaotic black metal, the band had drifted into more modern metal influenced styles over the past decade as Imperial and other members collaborated with indie-rock-hybrid black metal bands and took influences from the experience. The latest developments are part of an ongoing arc back toward traditionalist black metal ethos for this band.

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Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult

dayal_patterson-black_metal_evolution_of_the_cultThere have been many publications written about black metal, in an attempt to understand a difficult and enigmatic genre. Most focus on either the musical style of the genre from a historical viewpoint or on the ideology and views of the genre – including the illegal actions taken by a few energetic participants.

Author Dayal Patterson has attempted to combine those methods in his soon to be published book, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult. Featuring numerous interviews and photography, the book aims to be the most complete resource for black metal research:

“It captures the progress of the genre, from its infancy in the early eighties through to its resurrection in the nineties and onwards to the fascinating scene we see today. Combining interviews with the key individuals involved with editorial insight and iconic photography this epic tome examines the artistic, musical, spiritual development of the genre and the creative work, ideologies and often colourful lives of some of its most significant bands.”

The participants interviewed include the most respected among black metal’s elite: Fenriz, Nuclear Holocausto, Tom Warrior, Rob Darken, and others; guaranteeing that there will be a level of quality already present in the tome that hopefully that rest of the book can carry.

Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult can be pre-ordered through Amazon, with a projected release date of November 13th. See the facebook page for more details.

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International Journal for Community Music requests papers for its Metal Special issue

international_journal_of_community_musicThe International Journal for Community Music has issued a call for papers seeking research on “the heavy-metal community (and its communities) and the spaces and practices that shape heavy metal music as community music.”

So what is “community music”? In another issue, the journal defines “Community Music” by saying “community music may be thought of in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to): music teaching-learning interactions (for all people of all ages, ability levels, and interests) outside ‘formal’ music institutions (e.g., public schools, university music departments, conservatories, symphony orchestras), and/or partnerships between formal institutions and community music programs.” In other words, music as the basis for communities within communities, sort of like as a replacement for the culture we gave up for malls and television.

As the papers request itself says, its focus is on “the communities of heavy-metal fandom and the construction of heavy-metal music in community, semi-professional or amateur settings: heavy metal as community, heavy metal as leisure, and heavy metal as a place that fosters local and global senses of belonging and inclusion in an increasingly commercialized and atomized world.” This fits perfectly with the Hessianism concept of heavy metal as an “elective community,” something demonstrated when the National Day of Slayer showed people a metalhead presence in all parts of the globe.

If you are interested in submitting a paper, contact Dr. Karl Spracklen.

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Slayer release cause of death for Jeff Hanneman, memories of their time with him

slayer-jeff_hannemanFoundational speed/death metal band Slayer have released a statement including medical information about the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who passed away from liver failure. From the statement, it is unclear whether there is a single cause of this failure, or whether as in many cases moderate alcohol consumption plus medications and stress eventually became fatal.

“We’ve just learned that the official cause of Jeff’s death was alcohol related cirrhosis. While he had his health struggles over the years, including the recent Necrotizing fasciitis infection that devastated his well-being, Jeff and those close to him were not aware of the true extent of his liver condition until the last days of his life. Contrary to some reports, Jeff was not on a transplant list at the time of his passing, or at any time prior to that. In fact, by all accounts, it appeared that he had been improving – he was excited and looking forward to working on a new record,” said the band on a posting to internet data dump Facebook.

Luckily, it seems as if this was a rather sudden affliction and did not involve long and boring suffering. However, as he had been improving and getting ready to work on more Slayer material, it doesn’t sound like alcohol was the only factor here. Rather, it seems like poor health and medical stress may have contributed to this condition, which then lay dormant until it could ambush. The band also released a lengthy statement of reminiscences as they struggle to say goodbye to their founding member, collaborator and friend:

KERRY: “I had so many great times with Jeff… in the early days when we were out on the road, he and I were the night owls, we would stay up all night on the bus, just hanging out, talking, watching movies… World War II movies, horror movies, we watched “Full Metal Jacket” so many times, we could practically recite all of the dialogue.”

TOM: “When we first formed Slayer, we used to rehearse all the time, religiously, 24/7. Jeff and I spent a lot of time hanging out together, he lived in my father’s garage which was also our rehearsal space. When he got his own apartment, he had an 8-track and I would go there to record songs I’d written, not Slayer songs, other stuff I’d written. At a certain point, you still have the band but you start your own lives outside of the band, so that 24/7 falls to the side, you don’t spend as much time together as you once did. I miss those early days.”

KERRY: “He was a gigantic World War II buff, his father served in that war, so when Slayer played Russia for the first time – I think it was 1998 – Jeff and I went to one of Moscow’s military museums. I’ll never forget him walking around that place, looking at all of the tanks, weapons and other exhibits. He was like a kid on Christmas morning. But that was Jeff’s thing, he knew so much about WW II history, he could have taught it in school.”

TOM: “We were in New York recording South of Heaven. Jeff and I were at the hotel and we had to get to the studio – I think it was called Chung King, a real rundown place. So we left the hotel and decided to walk, but then it started raining. We walked maybe five blocks, and it was raining so hard, we were totally soaked, so we decided to get a cab. Here we are, two dudes with long hair and leather jackets, absolutely soaked, thumbing to the studio. No one would stop. We had to walk the entire way.”

TOM: “Jeff was a lifeline of Slayer, he wrote so many of the songs that the band will always be known for. He had a good heart, he was a good guy.”

The band also announced that there will be a celebration of Hanneman’s life “later this month” and that along with family and friends, the public will be invited to attend.

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Exhumed begin “European Takeover” tour 2013

exhumed-all_guts_no_gloryOne of the first bands to combine high-energy grindcore like Terrorizer with simplified death metal like second album Entombed, Exhumed created an audience for their unique and gore-splattered approach. After years apart, they have returned and are embarking on a European Takeover to support their latest release, a song called “The Beginning After the End” on the Patlapse Tribute Compilation, a tribute to Relapse staffer Pat Egan.

Vocalist Matt Harvey said, “We’re psyched to be back in the olde world for the Summer, exploring every available nook and cranny of Europe and subsequently filling them with empty beer cans, barf, and a hellish racket. We’re here to spread the word about our upcoming record that’s coming out in August, play some killer underground festivals, and enjoy some more flavorful beer for a change. It’s also killer to finally be in Europe with our ever-present staff physician, Dr. Philthy, which will allow us to do our full stage show in Europe for the first time, so it should be a good time for all in attendance. We’re here for quite a while, so we may even accidentally acquire a little class and culture. But probably not. See you all in the front!”

Exhumed will release a follow-up to 2011’s All Guts, No Glory as a full-length set for release via Relapse Records later this summer. The album was recorded at Arcane Digital Recording in Chandler, Arizona with Ryan Butler (Misery Index, Landmine Marathon, Phobia). All drums were tracked at Trench Studios in Corona, California with John Haddad (Hirax, Abysmal Dawn, Intronaut). Commented Harvey: “‘The Beginning After The End’ is something we did during the latest recording sessions, so it will give folks some idea of the sound and vibe of the new record.

    EXHUMED European Takeover 2013

  • 5/08/2013 The Exchange – Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 5/09/2013 Star And Garter – Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 5/10/2013 Franceed Zepplins – Cork, Ireland
  • 5/11/2013 The Pint – Dublin, Ireland
  • 5/12/2013 Voodoo – Belgiumfast, United Kingdom
  • 5/13/2013 Audio – Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • 5/14/2013 Trillians – Newcastle, United Kingdom
  • 5/15/2013 The Hairy Dog – Derby, United Kingdom
  • 5/16/2013 The Garage Upstairs – London, United Kingdom
  • 5/17/2013 May Day Mosh Day – Stockholm, Sweden
  • 5/23/2013 Dna – Brussels, Belgium
  • 5/24/2013 K19 – Kassel, Germany
  • 5/25/2013 Extreme Fest – Hünxe, Germany
  • 6/01/2013 Kulturfabrik – Lyss, Switzerland
  • 6/02/2013 Korigan – Luynes, France
  • 6/03/2013 Le Saint Des Seins – Toulouse, France
  • 6/04/2013 Estraperlo Club – Badalona, Spain
  • 6/05/2013 Tba – Zaragoza, Spain
  • 6/06/2013 Sala Barracudas – Madrid, Spain
  • 6/07/2013 Tba – Valencia, Spain
  • 6/08/2013 Sala La Trinchera – Malaga, Spain
  • 6/09/2013 Open Air Areeiro – Areeiro, Portugal
  • 6/10/2013 Tba – Ponferrada, Spain
  • 6/11/2013 The Class – Gijon, Spain
  • 6/12/2013 Tba – Donosti, Spain
  • 6/14/2013 Tba – Paris, France
  • 6/15/2013 Tavernu Du Theatre – La Louvière, Belgium
  • 6/17/2013 Jc Cerberus Hengelo – Hengelo, Netherlands
  • 6/18/2013 Hafenklang – Hamburg, Germany
  • 6/22/2013 Metal Fest Open Air Poland – Jaworzno, Poland
  • 6/23/2013 Kilkim Zaibu – Varniai, Lithuania
  • 7/05/2013 In Flammen Open Air – Torgau, Germany
  • 7/06/2013 Obscene Extreme Afterparty – Trutnov, Czech Republic
  • 7/17/2013 Vlamrock – As, Belgium
  • 7/23/2013 Metal Days – Tolmin, Slovenia
  • 7/24/2013 Garage – Munich, Germany
  • 7/25/2013 Eisenwahn – Obersinn, Germany

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Incantation announce US tour dates in support of Vanquish in Vengeance

incantation-vanquish_in_vengeanceNew York Death Metal band Incantation embark on a US tour in support of last year’s Vanquish in Vengeance starting in July.

Released last year on Listenable Records, Vanquish in Vengeance features over 50 minutes of the band’s trademark dark and occult death metal. Recorded at the infamous Mars Recording Compound with Engineer Bill Korecky and mixed and mastered by the legendary Dan Swano at Unisound studios, the album explores the genocidal nature of religious conflict.

  • July 18 – TBA
  • July 19 @ The Ottobar – Baltimore, MD w/ Acheron, Deceased Visceral Disgorge
  • July 20 @ Fete – Providence, RI w/ Acheron, Bog of the Infidel, ChurchBurn
  • July 25 @ Magic Stick – Detroit, MI
  • July 26 @ Brauerhouse – Lombard, IL w/ Cardiac Arrest
  • July 27 @ Foundry – Lakewood, OH w/ Embalmer, Soulless, Cardiac Arrest, Sodomized
  • August 10 @ SUMMER SLEAZE FEST OPEN AIR @ Scooter’s – Johnstown, PA w/ Funerus, Mausoleum & many more
  • Sept 20 @ INDIANAPOLIS METAL FEST – Indianapolis, IN
    w/ Funerus, Acheron, Decrepit Birth & many more.

The band commented, “July marks a number of shows for us throughout the States. We’re poised to devour your souls on our ‘Will of Vengeance’ tour. Label mates and brothers in battle Acheron will join us for the first wave of carnage. You’ve been warned!” This release and more band merch can be found at the band’s newly relaunched webstore at www.incantation.com.

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Killing Joke release video for “Corporate Elect”

killing_joke-the_singles_collection_1979_2012Iconoclastic and idiosyncratic industrial traditionalists Killing Joke release the video for “Corporate Elect” today in anticipation of their new compilation, The Singles Collection 1979-2012, and riding on the heels of their success last year with their newest full-length MMXII released on Spinefarm Records.

Active since the late 1970s (hence the title), Killing Joke explored the murky zone between punk, metal, synthpop and industrial music. Years before Ministry, Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails or Fear Factory, Killing Joke found their own voice in this nomansland of styles and also found their own voice in terms of content, exploring ideas that most pop music couldn’t articulate much less contemplate.

The Singles Collection 1979-2012 comprises thirty-three career-spanning singles over two CDs with an additional third disc of rarities which includes previously unreleased studio tracks. The limited three-CD version will revert to two CDs containing the singles tracks. The three-disc deluxe and regular two-CD version is set for release via Spinefarm on the new date of June 4, 2013 and can be pre-ordered here.

For more information, visit the band’s official website at www.killingjoke.com.

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Oceans of Slumber release video for “Remedy”

oceans_of_slumber-aetherialHouston-based progressive band Oceans of Slumber release the video for the song “Remedy” of the song off their self-released debut Aetherial today. They represent the best of this new style of “progressive metal”: musically literate, disciplined and tasteful.

I don’t think it makes sense to call this style “metal.” It’s a polyglot, based in the late 1970s changes to progressive rock, which went more toward a collaborative musician’s musician jam than the epic and overblown custom song structures of the early 1970s.

Similarly, this song mixes up a lot of styles: djent for the rhythm riffs, jazz for the soloing and harmony, alternative rock for the transitions, and a lot of hidden elements from punk, techno and metal in how it frames rhythm and change.

Ultimately its goal is not really to sound like metal so much as it is to be a progressive jam band, which allows this band to drop some of the metalcore-influenced extremes that have blighted “progressive metal,” and instead focus on what jazz does well: stitch together different types of things into an ongoing narrative. This “quiltmaking” has always been part of the heritage of jazz, which has specialized in taking mainstream pop songs and reinventing them with bits of music theory scattered by other genres.

It may be that there are two real styles of writing music. One revolves around the musicians and listeners, and is a personal style that is likely to frame things from the perspective of individuals. The other is a devotional style, in which musicians and listeners are but some members of the group who can receive the signal sent by the music and participate in its meaning.

As a result, “Remedy” is more for those who want the first type of music rather than the second, even though it takes inspiration from it. What impresses me about this track is how polished it is, in the older sense of the word that means every part fits together and there’s no stuff that doesn’t clearly relate to what’s going on. The worst excesses of prog are purged and replaced with a good listen.

While I thoroughly enjoy this song, and note its metal inspirations from 1970s hard rock through death metal, it’s hard to claim it as a metal song. Thus it’s wise to hear this with an open mind and no expectations of metalliness. It’s a universal music now, given freely to the world, not claimed by a genre.

Aetherial was released on February 1, 2013. It “deftly blends an array of styles, emotions and atmospheres” and features former Insect Warfare drummer Dobber Beverly along with a cast of accomplished musicians. Aetherial is available through all major online music retailers or by visiting www.oceansofslumber.com.

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