Maryland Deathfest reveals 2014 lineup

maryland_deathfest_2014The organizers of the Maryland Deathfest (MDF), which took over from the deceased Milwaukee Deathfest, have released lineup and venue information from the forthcoming 2014 festival which will occur from May 22-25, 2014.

In its newest incarnation, MDF will launch on Thursday, May 22, with bands playing only at the Rams Head Live located in the Power Plant Live! section of downtown Baltimore at 20 Market Place.

However, from Friday through Sunday, two venues will be shared. Metal bands will play the Rams Head Live from 10 pm – 2am, and across the street at the Baltimore Soundstage, grind/crust/HxC/punk bands will be playing simultaneously.

  • AETERNUS (Norway)
  • ARCAGATHUS (Canada)
  • ASPHYX (Netherlands)
  • AT THE GATES (Sweden)
  • BIRDFLESH (Sweden)
  • BÖLZER (Switzerland)
  • BONGRIPPER
  • CANCER (UK)
  • CANDLEMASS (Sweden)
  • CASTEVET
  • COFFINS (Japan)
  • CREATIVE WASTE (Saudi Arabia)
  • CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER
  • THE CHURCH OF PUNGENT STENCH (Austria)
  • CROWBAR
  • DEATH TOLL 80K (Finland)
  • DIOCLETIAN (New Zealand)
  • DROPDEAD
  • ENTHRONED (Belgium)
  • ENTRAILS (Sweden)
  • EXCRUCIATING TERROR
  • EXTINCTION OF MANKIND (UK)
  • FINAL CONFLICT
  • GOD MACABRE (Sweden)
  • GORGUTS (Canada)
  • GRAVES AT SEA
  • HEMDALE
  • HOODED MENACE (Finland)
  • IMMOLATION
  • INCANTATION
  • IN DISGUST
  • MACHETAZO (Spain)
  • MESRINE (Canada)
  • MGLA (Poland)
  • MITOCHONDRION (Canada)
  • MUTILATION RITES
  • MY DYING BRIDE (UK)
  • NECROS CHRISTOS (Germany)
  • NOCTURNUS A.D.
  • NOOTHGRUSH
  • ORATOR (Bangladesh)
  • RATOS DE PORAO (Brazil)
  • ROTTING OUT
  • SACRIFICE (Canada)
  • SARKE (Norway)
  • SICK/TIRED
  • SOILENT GREEN
  • SOLSTAFIR (Iceland)
  • STAPLED SHUT
  • TAAKE (Norway)
  • TANKARD (Germany)
  • THEORIES
  • TORCHE
  • ULCERATE (New Zealand)
  • ULVER (Norway)
  • UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS (UK)
  • UNHOLY GRAVE (Japan)
  • UNLEASHED (Sweden)
  • WAR MASTER
  • WHITEHORSE (Australia)
  • WINDHAND
  • WITCHRIST (New Zealand)
  • WRATHPRAYER (Chile)
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Warmaster releases The End of Humanity

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On October 30, Dutch band Warmaster released its second full-length album The End of Humanity. As our earlier review points out, this is an old school death metal release with influences from grindcore.

What makes Warmaster worth paying attention to is not style but substance. These songs are made of familiar elements, and don’t push any envelopes, but unlike most “old school” releases these days, they fit together well and sound deliberate. You will not find new revelations here but the music works like an entity of its own, not a grab-bag of parts from 1994.

In The End of Humanity, you will find the same power that made death metal a force of musical empire in the 1990s: crushing riffs fit together in tight labyrinths that expand as you traverse them, sonic intensity in distortion and vocals, seemingly unattainable levels of alienation from everyday “be nice to everyone” humanity. You’ll also find a band with its unique voice.

Because of this, we’re excited to introduce Warmaster in interview and a live stream of The End of Humanity. Let’s hear what they have to say.

You formed as a band in 2004 with the purpose of making old school death metal. What prompted this decision?

We all grew up with death metal in the 90s and death metal wasn’t that hot around 2004. We felt the urge and pleasure to revisit Death Metal, the old school way. Inspired by bands such as Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Master and Entombed,we started to write our own songs, blending all the good, which became WARMASTER, straight forward, rude and extremely heavy!

What are your own musical influences? Do these match with favorites you listen to on a regular basis? Do you listen to any of the newer-style metal?

We all have different influences, The binding influence for us all is 90s death metal. As songwriter bands such as Bolt Thrower, Entombed and Hypocrisy influence me. The newer styles do not influence us much. We respect the wave, but it is not our thing.

I had a blast trying to piece together some of the musical allusions you made on this record. So far I’ve identified Blood, Massacre, Terrorizer, Master and perhaps Malevolent Creation. Did I miss any?

Thank you, you just compared us with bands we never thought of. Thinking about it, yes you are right on those, but we are also identified us with Six Feet Under, Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Benediction and many more.

Do you feel a need to live up to a “Dutch style” of death metal? Are you fans of the older Dutch bands like Pestilence, Sinister, Ceremony and Asphyx?

Not at all! We do it the Warmaster way! The common feel though is same with these bands you mention!

Have you talked to the guys from War Master (TX) about having such similar names? Are you worried about causing confusion?

Actually there are multiple Masters of War. You also a thrashy Warmaster from Canada and a Portuguese black metal band called War Master, who were the first using this name.

I do not think people will mess it us up. We both play old school, but you definitely hear differences in music and sound. War Master is a bit faster, while we mostly keep it midpaced, doomy and groovy!

On “Medestrijders Voor Volk en Vaderland” you experiment with some unnerving guitar sounds. Can you tell me how this develops the theme of the song?

This is actually one of the fastest songs we wrote. Rik came to rehearsal with the opening riff and without boundaries and jamming, the song wrote itself. Half of the songs on this album have been written this way.

“The End of Humanity” begins with an intro that recalls the 1980s style sonic paste-ups that Discharge did. What made you choose this intro?

We were playing with song and album title. The original title for the album and the song “Nuclear Warfare” was “Massive Kill Capacity,” which gave Corné, who created the samples for the album, some great ideas. He is very much into bombastic, theatrical themes. He made several samples of which some are used on the album. This is a great opening of the album!

It seems to me the album has a theme based on the title. Why did you choose this now, after most people assumed nuclear war and human self-destruction were off the table after the end of the Cold War? Or did the Cold War not end, or are there newer threats?

Decimation of humanity the horrific way are good themes to write song lyrics about. They cannot be bound to one war or another. “Death Factory” is WWII, with “Barbarians” we go back to prehistoric warfare. And “Medestrijders voor Volk en Vaderland” is about the 80-year war in the 1600s in Europe.

I quote from a punk band of great repute: “World peace can’t be done. It just can’t exist.” Do you think there are solutions to humanity’s problems? Will they be revealed through death metal?

The only solution to world peace is going out with a big bang! …Destruction of the planet!

As long as there are humans, war will be there as well!

Death metal is the solution to write about war in the best way, brutal and aggressive!

You have this great guitar sound on the album, that’s fuzzy and warm like a sweater but mean like the metal treads of a tank. How did you record this album? Do you have a “Warmaster method” of recording yourselves?

The guitar sounds really fits; we experiment a lot with guitar sounds. We have our own Studio, so it’s easy to realise this. After all those years we receive a lot of experience while recording other and own bands. Also listing to recordings of other bands it give you an idea what you want.

Members of Warmaster come from other bands. Can you tell us about those bands, and whether they’re still active, and if not, why they ended and what you hope will be different with Warmaster?

We all played in different bands, some still play in other bands.

Alex and André both play in Dark Remains (Death Metal)

Rik has also played in this band as a bass player. He quit to fully concentrate on Warmaster.

Alex replaced his spot in this band. This band is still active and busy with their fourth studio album.

Alex also played in a band called Exploded (Thrash Metal) but he stopped with this band this year. It is still active.

Marcel plays also in Ceremony of Opposites (Death Metal).

Please forgive me for this question. This cover looks a bit… uh… well, maybe people seem to be reacting badly to it. Can you tell us why you chose it, and why it’s important to the album’s theme and vision? Are you planning on having an alternate cover?

Hahaha…. I have one short answer for your last question.. No! We don’t have an alternative cover.

Because we like this cover! After the first album First War we wanted something different.

Something rare.

I think we accomplished that task. It is different, it is rare.

When recording the album we asked a friend (Ammar) of ours to draw some of our ideas, it ended like it is right now.

We knew what kind of artist he was and what he could do. We wanted to give him a opportunity and he took it.

We took the chance what people think about the cover but we don’t care what others think. We like it!

Maybe with the third album we do something else, something unexpected. Some people will like it, others will not.

But hey, so will our music! You like it or you don’t like it!

What’s next for Warmaster? Will you tour, or write more material? Do you have a long-term plan or are you just enjoying the ride?

We are very creative lately. So far we have released a split 7” EP with Humiliation from Malaysia and our album The End of Humanity on DeadBeat Media and Slaughterhouse Records. And we already have enough material for a new album ……so new album next year!

With the album out we want to play many shows, because playing live is what makes us go on! Maybe tour if the right options are there, but we prefer single shows or weekends instead.

1. Warmaster – Massive Kill Capacity

2. Nuclear Warfare

3. Deadly Artillery

4. Death Factory

5. The Target

6. Lies to Deny

7. Barbarians

8. Poison Dwarf

9. Ancient Anthem

10. Medestrijders Voor Volk en Vaderland

11. Destroyer of Worlds

Available from:

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Mercyful Fate – Melissa is 30 years old today

mercyful_fate-melissaReleased on October 30, 1983, the first album from Denmark’s Mercyful Fate proved to be a decisive one for metal. While the band never ventured behind a NWOBHM-speed metal hybrid comparable to Blitzkrieg/Satan, Tank or Diamond Head, the uniquely operatic vocals of King Diamond and the band’s ability to write compelling heavy metal that also had a touch of the otherworldly quickly made Mercyful Fate an important band.

While many have written about their influence on black metal, it’s important to mention that this is not a black metal band, or album. Expect heavy metal, with the type of muted-strum riffs that later made speed metal capture the attention of metalheads worldwide, but with a greater focus on dynamics and pacing. On the surface, it sounds like many other bands from the era, but Mercyful Fate gave the music a unique spin and pushed quality over the top.

As a result, the band, fronted by the legendary King Diamond in his Alice Cooper-inspired face paint, became a staple of the “below-mainstream” metal crowd and quickly won a place on every metal record store’s walls. Through a series of early albums such as Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath, the band gradually shaped metal’s underground away from repetitive intensity and more toward the type of operatic variation in intensity that marked the influences on King Diamond’s vocals.

30 years have passed since this album first detonated car stereos and home units, but its influence is vast and hard to estimate. First, it shaped bands like Metallica toward more imaginative and melodic songwriting; next, it shaped black metal as a melodic, dynamic, motif-driven genre. Finally, the band’s outright flirtation with Satanism as a form of successor philosophy to the genteel benevolence of the society at the time influenced the metal to follow in non-musical as well as musical ways.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGQFdv6ayHY

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Ildjarn – Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths

ildjarn-seven_harmonies_of_unknown_truthsOriginally shunned by most of the “new and wise” black metal community in the post-1995 era, Ildjarn emerged shrouded in mystery, and its renown has increased over the past almost two decades through the appreciation of writers and fellow musicians.

Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths packages an early Ildjarn demo by the same name into a CD/LP release that showcases this band’s potent sound that mixed black metal, oi, drone and primitive folk music. The album has been released on Eisenwald Records and can be ordered here.

While those who have heard early Ildjarn will note the similarity to both the self-titled release and the material on the Ildjarn-Nidhogg compilation, but like other Ildjarn EP-length material Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths presents a slower and more atmospheric vision of this band.

Structured as seven numbered tracks plus the archetypal Ildjarn song “Death Dynamics,” Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths is like most Ildjarn releases an ambient composition as a whole where songs serve as motifs. Varying between the doomy and the faster edge of mid-paced, these songs return us to the lawless forest where the spirit of Ildjarn resides.

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Queensrÿche releases documentary about new album, mini movie

queensryche-2013_lineup

Queensrÿche began their reign as an Iron Maiden-inspired band that blended American west coast hard rock and progressive guitar rock with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

The result peaked in their most famous release, Operation: Mindcrime, which showed equal parts influences from Yes, Led Zeppelin and The Number of the Beast. The result plus passionate songwriting and intensely theatrical vocals proved a hit with fans and critics alike.

Currently, Queensrÿche are preparing a mini movie that uses tracks from their current self-titled album to tell a ten-minute story. The film, Queensrÿche: Ad Lucem, is expected to be released later this month with the followed embedded Queensrÿche songs: “Spore” “Midnight Lullaby” “A World Without” and “X2.”

Queensrÿche: Ad Lucem was created by Veva Entertainment in coordination with Queensrÿche and is directed by Daniel Andres Gomez Bagby and produced by Marco De Molina. It was filmed last month on location at Central City Stages in Los Angeles.

    Queensrÿche is:

  • Todd La Torre (vocals)
  • Michael Wilton (guitars)
  • Parker Lundgren (guitars)
  • Eddie Jackson (bass)
  • Scott Rockenfield (drums)

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Interview with Chewy Correa of Organic

organic-band_photo

Many years ago, when I was desperately buying up any and all death metal to feed the voracious ears of the listeners of an underground metal radio program, I stumbled upon an album by a band called Organic Infest. The cover used unusual covers, but was dripping in gore-imagery, so I gave it a listen.

Organic Infest is now Organic, and we were lucky to be able to speak with Chewy Correa, bassist and driving force behind this long-standing underground metal band.

Click here for the full interview with Chewy Correa of Organic (formerly Organic Infest).

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Pestilence releases “Necro Morph” from Obsideo

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Pestilence will be remembered as one of the heroes of death metal, but many have stated reservations about their more recent output, which seems unduly influenced by the modern metal movement, including tek-deth and alt-metal, which always seem to go hand-in-hand.

“Necro Morph” shows the band dialing back from the modern metal fringe and making what’s basically renovated speed metal with modern metal touches, avoiding the true randomness of tek-deth. The counterweight to that is that this makes the music more repetitive, which forces the vocals to overcompensate to give it textural depth.

That approach might make sense if the vocals were sung, but it’s an unfortunate choice here. Pestilence has always excelled at instrumentals, not vocals; when your strongest instrument is the guitar, why make a vocal-heavy style? Second, this puts the emphasis on a style of growled/shouted vocals that don’t have that much variation, which requires comedic emphasis that in turn puts weight on the lyrics to be “interesting,” which in rock-n-roll-speak usually means “ludicrous.”

Further, putting the main thrust of the band’s effort into rhythm guitars that support vocals has dumbed down the riffs themselves, which have gone from interesting phrases that use both partial chords and single-string picking to constant power chords that form uniformly repetitive walls of sound interrupted strategically by rhythm for the Meshuggah-style jazz “offtime” effect.

When the solo does appear, it’s a beautiful thing, because these guys not only play their instruments well (which is cheap, as millions play well) but have a good ear for music that is both sonorous and pushing the edges of what we would consider organized sound. Can we have some more of this, please?

If anything, Pestilence should recognize that their audience is not “the kids,” who will always want something dumber than Pestilence can provide, but the maturing listener who wants something with a bit more meat than the mostly rock-based pop metal that dominates the airwaves. You can’t get successful by imitating what works for others, and Pestilence must find their own path.

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Wan – Enjoy the Filth

wan-enjoy_the_filthGenres aren’t arbitrary things. They have certain ideals and certain boundaries, like all ideas or practices. Some people find that constraining and want things to fit in certain genres just because they say so.

Such must be the case with Wan, which is labeled as black metal and has been repeatedly introduced as such. It isn’t. This is a great late hardcore record, and thoroughly enjoyable as that, but it isn’t black metal. Not only that, it would be a total failure at black metal, so it’s unwise to list it as such.

Calling to mind Impaled Nazarene’s Latex Cult, which arose when that band decided black metal was out of possibilities for the time being, Wan Enjoy the Filth is bounding, high-energy hardcore riffs and simple verse-chorus songs. This one comes out of the gate rockin’ hard with riffs that seem inspired by Discharge, Terveet Kadet, the Exploited and GBH. Others might point out late-1990s punk like Driller Killer and Disfear, Dischange, etc.

Most of these songs are based on bottom two-string power chord riffs in the hardcore style, which means they’re less built around phrase and more around droning interrupted by a catchy rhythm. Drums keep up a d-beat or a similar “background” rhythm while vocals belt out a series of ambitious lyrics involving war, evil and hatred.

If you want to compare this band to anything, the aforementioned Impaled Nazarene is the closest link to “black metal,” but it has more in line with the late-1980s hardcore like Sick of It All, albeit in a more European-descended form. It’s quite enjoyable to listen to, and probably won’t stick around for too long, but it’s certainly not black metal.

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Blaspherian recording new 7″ entitled Upon the Throne of Eternal Blasphemous Death

blaspherian_liveTexas rolling destruction death metal band Blaspherian will enter Big Door Studios in Webster, TX on November 24th to finish recording two tracks for an upcoming 7″ entitled Upon the Throne of Eternal Blasphemous Death.

The new recording will be released through Iron Bonehead recordings, following a split 7″ between Blaspherian and Texas death metal legends Imprecation which will be released on Dark Descent Records.

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The relationship between metal and horror films

carnival_of_soulsWe all know why we distrust public statements by musicians. To be popular in this world, you first must endorse the lifestyle that most people lead, and this usually means praising something from the “edgy” mainstream so everyone knows you’re controlled (and thus “safe”) just like the rest.

Ironic, isn’t it. A whole group of people wanting to be rebels, but unwilling to go past that line that no rebel dare cross and still have the support of the peanut gallery which is encouraging him to rebellion. Reminds me of why the James Dean character finally offed himself in Rebel Without a Cause.

But Ihsahn, formerly of arch-rebels Emperor, is now a safe rebel and he’s giving some interviews praising stuff that you’d expect, if you watched your TV attentively, that “edgy” characters might like. However, some of the subversive is still left in him, so he sneaked in a few goodies in a recent interview:

The dynamics and emotional impact of soundtracks have been great influences on me and much of the reason I wanted to implement orchestral sounds in my music. Jerry Goldsmith’s work with the Omen movies has been an absolute highlight and still is. Also, his use of non-orchestral sounds in this context is very interesting.

However, this isn’t the first mention of horror movies as an inspiration. Just this week, Warbeast’s Bruce Corbitt opined that most of his work was inspired by horror movies. Entombed used horror film riffs in their own work. Black Sabbath tooktheir name from a horror movie, and wrote music to emulate the scary sense of suspense in the dark films they enjoyed.

At what point do we acknowledge this pervasive musical influence, with its own debt to modernist classical, as perhaps the foundational influence on metal itself?

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