Voivod release preview track from upcoming album Target Earth

Quebecois metal gods Voivod have released a preview of the title track from their forthcoming album Target Earth.

If the two tracks released so far are any indication, then the album sounds exactly as the promo blurbs have been describing it (which makes a change): a cross between the claustrophobic, spacey weirdness of Dimension Hatross and the rockier, more mid-paced Nothingface with a touch of the sing-songy style of Angel Rat.

Unusually for a band of Voivod‘s stature, their decision to continue touring and making albums after the death of original guitarist Piggy has been greeted mostly positively. This is probably because his stand-in, Dan Mongrain, at times sounds more like Piggy than Piggy did; studiously recreating the tone and feel of classic Voivod whilst helping craft new material faithful to the era of the band most people always wanted to hear continued.

The album is released in Europe on January 21st and in North America on the 22nd. Eagerly awaiting this one.

Full tracklist for album is as follows:

1. Target Earth
2. Kluskap O’Kom
3. Empathy for the Enemy
4. Mechanical Mind

5. Warchaic
6. Resistance
7. Kaleidos

8. Corps Étranger
9. Artefact
10. Defiance

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Bolt Thrower to attend Maryland Deathfest

Bolt Thrower liveEnglish battle poets Bolt Thrower will, according to their homepage, be playing at the Maryland Deathfest on May 23rd, Chaos in Tejas Festival in Austin a week later and Tuska Open Air Festival (Finland) on June 28th. At Deathfest they’ll be joined by Antaeus and Carcass among others.

Bolt Thrower made deathy grindcore during the late 80s and early 90s probably culminating in the epic …For Victory (1994).

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Earthen Grave violinist melds classical, metal

Classical music and metal are not as strange bed-fellows as first seems. Both try to take the listener on a journey from A to B via certain key points emphasizing conflict/discovery/victory in a narrative style that’s as old as the hills.

Both rely on a sense of heaviness of life itself in their songwriting, classical from a typically more light perspective, and metal from a darker one. Both are full of references and allusions to literature and ancient history.

As classical violinist Rachel Barton, who plays in doom metal band Earthen Grave in addition to symphony orchestras, points out, metal finds inspiration and even riffs in classical music, but even when it’s going in a different direction it draws from the same well of inspiration.

“When you listen to the great guitar soloists, they’re stealing licks from Vivaldi,” said Pine. She mixes Led Zeppelin, Paganini, AC/DC, Vivaldi and Black Sabbath in some of her live shows, when not creating crashing curtains of doom metal with Earthen Grave.

Classical music is named for its creators’ desire to allude to ancient civilization in form and ethos, specifically but not exclusively the classics – Greece and Rome. What could be more metal than obsessing about the ancient world? In the post-Renaissance world that classical music came out of, studying those older civilizations and reviving their aesthetic values was seen as enlightened and forward-looking, contrary to the “newer is better, always” argument we’re used to hearing about our own times.

Metal and Classical also have in common then that they are both a kind of romanticism: oddly traditional whilst at the same time being futurist and affirming. Through an embrace of the powerful and epic in life, both use an acknowledgement of life’s heaviness to find meaning in its struggle.

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Heavy metal fans: brighter than you think

A new survey has found that “metalheads” are more athletic, socially successfully and musically literate than fans of other genres.

According to The Australian, one of the largest surveys of Britain’s metalheads discovered that metal is considered “an overwhelmingly positive force in the lives of those who love it.”

The article categorizes metal as “escapist,” meaning that it helps its fans through hard times. Nearly three quarters of the respondents to the survey said metal had helped them through a tough period in their lives, and 79% said they felt “energized” after listening to metal.

Its most interesting factoid came from Spinefarm managing director Dante Bonutto, who counterpointed the idea of metal as escapism with a note on its practicality. “[Heavy Metal] defines itself against the mainstream, the ‘short-term’ music fans that don’t play or think too much about music…Metal defines you against that shallow form of music,” said Bonutto.

Conducted by the British Phonographic industry, the survey asked 3,600 visitors of participating metal labels, metal magazines, and music industry sites about their listening habits.

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Birth A.D. releases title track from new album “I Blame You”

Thrash band Birth A.D., who seem to be a continuation of later 1980s thrash like SOD and DRI, have released a streaming track from their new album, I Blame You.

The new album has been recorded with 80s metal guru producer Alex Perialas and includes re-recorded tracks from the first Birth A.D. release, Stillbirth of a Nation. Much like early DRI albums, this will give fans the band’s entire oeuvre in an updated form.

According to Blistering.com, the new album is “angry, fast, catchy as hell.” Should be a contender for album of the year if nothing else.

Thrash was a hybrid between extreme hardcore and extreme metal that arose in the early 1980s with bands like DRI, MDC, COC, Cryptic Slaughter, Fearless Iranians From Hell and Suicidal Tendencies making short, fast, punk-structure songs with metal riffs.

Currently most people refer to the genre as “crossover thrash” in order to differentiate the term from “thrash metal,” which was a 1980s teen metal name for “speed metal,” and comprises the range of music from Metallica through Destruction.

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Immolation recording new album

NYDM founders Immolation are in the studio and preparing work on their ninth full-length album, according to apeshit zine.

According to the report, Immolation are in Sound Studios in Milbrook, NY with veteran producer Paul Orofino with Zack Ohren behind the mixing desk. The band state the album will be “one of their strongest yet.”

Starting out in the late 1980s as a speed metal band with death metal vocals, Immolation morphed in death metal and then technical death metal with 1996’s Here In After, regarded by many as the apex of the band.

After a long absence, they returned with a series of late death metal albums like Unholy Cult which used a simpler but more streamlined style of death metal.

With 2010’s Majesty and Decay, and later the Providence EP, Immolation went in a more commercial direction, taking the simple songwriting of radio metal like Slipknot and adding to it death metal and speed metal riffs.

As long-time fans, we’re hoping they’ll return to death metal because they do it so well, but we’re not so delusional as to forget that death metal very rarely pays the bills. Good luck to this long-running NY band.

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Summoning album in the works

The latest offering by Austrian Tolkien-inspired black metal band Summoning was Oath Bound from 2006, an album that “re-explore[d] the medieval and naturalistic nature of black metal” and delivered “a new chapter of full-bore dark exploration that dominates almost anything from the last ten years of this genre.”

What of the new album? The Summoning homepage reports that the guitars will be recorded this November and that Napalm Records “will put a one minute trailer to advertise the new CD on [their] homepage, that hopefully will happen around december.” According to earlier news the album will probably be released during the first quarter of 2013.

In the meantime, our forum members have expressed a few requests concerning the future release, including varying the melodies and song structures within songs, cutting down on the drums and using instruments that are “less fruity”.

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Music has gone Emo over the past 50 years

Boo Fucking HooA lot has happened in the last 50 years.

A whole cultural revolution took over, starting in the 1960s, that combined the post-war “Me generation” with the progressive theories of the 1930s. Birth control, Viet Nam, Civil Rights, better quality marijuana, educating women, white flight to the suburbs, the EU, a radical decrease in traditional values and religion. We’ve been weaving in and out of that great cultural change ever since.

Generally, we think of modern pop music as the “counter-culture,” meaning it opposed the culture of its time. Many consider metal counter-culture, still others (paying attention to the early words of Black Sabbath, who claimed they were there to rain on the hippies’ parade) see metal as a counter-counter-culture or a subculture.

Either way, metal’s roots are in pop. Pop music is as eternal as the wind; millennia ago, it was the folk songs of isolated people who sang them to each other in their small towns. In the cities, these became High Art through theatre and later specialized music. But roughly the same idea remains: catchy tunes that make people think of important things in life in an offhand, slightly cynical, humorous and casual way.

During these last 50 years, pop has changed quite a bit as it has become more introspective, less complex and more minor-key:

In the 1960s, 85 percent of the songs were written in a major key, compared with only about 40 percent of them now. Broadly speaking, the sound has shifted from bright and happy to something more complicated.

When the researchers analyzed the beats per minutes (BPM) of each song, they found a decrease from an average 116 BPM in the 1960s to approximately 100 BPM in the 2000s. Songs in the 1960s tended to run under three minutes, whereas more recent hits are longer, around four minutes on average.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is that our current favorites are more likely to be emotionally ambiguous…studies in the past have linked music preferences to personality traits, such as a preference for sadder music being tied to more empathy, openness to experience, and less extroversion.

This points to an interesting facet of our culture during this time.

We too have become “tied to more empathy, openness to experience, and less extroversion.”

We’ve also become more alienated, and more likely to retreat to familiar experience.

Part of this can be explained by the sheer terror of the times. With nuclear missiles ranging around the skies, and non-stop internal turmoil and war abroad, we can’t be blamed for wanting to stay in the basement sometimes.

But even more, we’ve become Emo. Emo music is self-indulgent, a bit more depressed than melancholic, but most of all, it is self-pitying. It is music of the hopeless, kids who’ve given up and so they cut themselves to feel alive.

Our whole society has slowly gone Emo. People talk about their feelings and want someone to make it right for them. If something is difficult, people throw up a half-hearted stab and then run off to the TV or pub. We pity ourselves and idealize being a victim, because then others will take care of us.

In short, we’re an exhausted culture and our music, too, is exhausted.

Where does metal fit in? It’s usually minor key, but also chromatic. It throws the “complicated” emotions out on their ear and replaces them with fervid, warlike, and muscular riffing that fits together into a story.

If Emo is the disease, metal is the cure.

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Punk: caught between protest music and poetry

It’s worth quoting Greil Marcus at length in this regard:

“[I]n the beginning, punk was indeed a sort of secret society, dedicated not to the guarding of a secret but to its pursuit, a society based on a blind conviction that there was a secret to be found. Was it that once the secret was seemingly discovered, once punk became an ideology of protest and self-expression – once people knew what to expect, once they understood just what they would get when they paid their money, or what they would do to earn it – the story was ready for its footnotes? In the United States, primitive enclaves had formed across the country (nightclubs, fanzines, record stores, a half-dozen high school students here, a trio of artists there, a girl locked in her room staring at her new haircut in the mirror) though perhaps less in response to the thrill of hearing $10 import copies of the banned ‘Anarchy in the UK’ single than to newspaper and TV features about London teenagers mutilating their faces with common household objects. Real discoveries were taking place, out of nothing (‘The original scene,’ said a founder of the Los Angeles punk milieu, ‘was made of people who were taking chances and operating on obscure fragments of information.’).” – Souciant

Punk was unformed but searching.

Then later, it became streamlined.

It struggled to escape its rock heritage as protest music, and reconnect with its inner poetry, which wanted more than what life offered.

Punk was initially an orgasmic, messy, uncategorizable cultural explosion of mutually contradictory tendencies. Visually, dayglo pinks and greens (X-Ray Spex) collided with fascist and communist imagery (Sex Pistols) and stark black military surplus (Crass) – or bondage — gear. Meanwhile, guitar-driven rock and roll (Ramones) mixed weirdly with androgynous, keyboard-driven experimentation (The Screamers;) and also, inflammatory and reactionary sentiments (Black Flag’s “White Minority,” or the original version of Siouxsie’s “Love in a Void”) were combined confusingly with Marxist and anti-capitalist motifs (The Dils’ “Class War” or anything by The Clash.) That was why punk was so genuinely scary to the public at large. It was a mess of conflicting imagery and sentiment, all of it intentionally provocative.

After punk died, metal carried on this spirit.

Instead of being confused, it went in a literary direction: aspire to the poetic and epic in life.

For this reason, it is less social, political and concrete, and more spaced out. Hobbits, aliens, zombies, knights and wizards.

It’s worth noting that now metal is trapped between the protest music (Gojira) and that which still aspires (Demoncy).

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After Mayhem metal radio show

“Christian metal,” Led Zeppelin the person, lack of good tour packages, and Benjie’s top 10 EPs. We talk about upcoming possible interviews, lots of gas, and lonely old Benjie after Sawyer graduates. We talk giant bruises, phone attacks during the show, and our upcoming Halloween special. Enjoy this little nugget until we return on Oct. 27th. Keep it METAL!

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