Thursday, July 31, 2008

Interview with Crucifier


Crucifier are a thrash band from Greece who have been around for over a decade. Recently I got to interview vocalist Hlias to find out more about this band and their plans for the near future.

Hello, tell us a little about the history of your band.

CRUCIFIER was formed in February of 1995 by Hlias "Thanatoid" Kyriazis (vocals) and Giorgos Kyriazis (bass guitar) in Athens, Greece. With 3 demos (1995-Infernal Pain / 1996-Totally Madness / 1998-Fear is your Mind) 2 Ep's (2001-Innocent World / 2004-Escape or Die!) and a full length album (2002-Merciless Conviction) after several changes in the line-up, the band recorded the second full length (2006-Cursed Cross) with new members from 2003-'04 and '05 except Thanatoid. Crucifier have played in many live gigs until now and as a support they have played with Paul Di'Anno in 2003 and with Tankard once in 2004 in Athens and again in Larissa in 2006. Currently the band has changed once again his line-up with a new drummer, bass player and continue with one guitar. A new album is in pre-production, and Cursed Cross was released recently by Anger of Metal in vinyl Format. A couple of 7" as well as our new album will come out on ibex moon records in 2009.... so keep watching this space !

Who are your musical influences?
Canadian speed thrash and bay area bands too....Exodus, Razor, Sacrifice, Vio-lence, Rigor Mortis, Sacred Reich, Exhorder and shit like that.

I understand that you are working on material for a new album. How is that going? Do you have a possible album title and release date figured out yet?
We 're signed to ibex moon records, so the new album should be coming out sometime in 2009, we 'll start recording towards the fall, we also did a split with Hirax and one with slaughter. The new album remains untitled for the time being until we figure that one out !

How do the new tracks compare with your previous material?
Faster and more furious, also hopefully the recording will be even better !

How did you come to be influenced by a style of music that happened when you were fairly young?
It doesn't really matter, if we were young or not - as far as we love and breathe it... also we 're a little older than some may think... haha ! Shitty old lechers from hell!!!

What do you think about the metal scene in general today? Is it getting better or worse than it was say at the beginning of this decade?
The scene was always strong - no matter if the bands were more prominent or not. Right now the scene is strong and it will become even stronger so it's an exciting time for us. Generally every decade has it's own bands, style and history and we appreciate them all !!!

Old style thrash bands have been popping up more and more in recent years. Why do you think that is? Are the thrash acts today doing anything different from the acts twenty years ago?
Well, there's renewed interest in the scene - a lot of the old bands - are back with a vengeance - offered a second chance .... I don't think they really do anything differently - not really, it's just the way things's a cycle and things have come full circle !


What is your band doing that sets you apart from other thrash bands?
Thanks for the comment - we don't think we do something differently - or that we 're better than others... we want to be the best we can and we try to do our best.... we play with conviction and feeling... and we try to stay true to our roots ! In union we stand with all the other metal thrashing mad bands !!!!!!

What’s the metal scene like in your part of Greece? Are there any great bands there that we should know about?
The scene is blooming here too, there are many good bands, here too, but the promotional means are lacking, however I'd like to point out that bands like Infest, Mortal Threat, Braindead, Conviction , Steamroller Assault and many more are really kickass and you ought to check them out !

What are some of the most memorable shows that you have played so far?
With Tankard in Larissa (2006) and quite a few local gigs, with Paul Di anno in 2004.... hmmm... well we are looking forward to be seeing you in a pit near your house ... or not so near your house ... hahahaha.
Have you played any shows outside of Greece yet? Do you hope to play outside the country in the near future?
There are some shows in Belgium and Holland in the horizon - our first gigs outside Greece, so we're pretty much excited..... !

Who do you think are some of the best of the younger thrash bands going today?
Fuelled by fire, Merciless Death, Strikemaster, Avenger of blood, Hatchet, Vexed, Violator, Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Executioner, Indemnity, Retzet !!!! HAHA ! Slaver, Nuclear, Head on collision, Cross Examination, Armored Assassin, Diamond Plate, and more.

Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked that band.
All are super bands - but I'll pick them according to tastes.... which are like arseholes ! hahaha ! You know the saying !
Destruction or Sodom
Destruction, cause I love them from a very young age.

Nuclear Assault or Overkill- Too hard too choose ! Nuclear assault are one of my fav bands !!!

Death or Possessed---- Even harder !

Slayer or Venom- Venom !!!

Is there anything else that you would like to say about you band or your music?
Not really - we appreciate your interest - please keep an eye on us - and the forthcoming release ....and keep thrashing like MANIACS !!!!! Thanks for the interview - see you in the PIT.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Clash of the album covers

It is....


Deep Purple-Fireball


Rainbow-Long live rock 'n' roll

***So which cover do you prefer?

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Cult of Luna-Eternal Kingdom


Sweden's eight piece band Cult of Luna encompass many styles as they take various parts of doom, death, progressive and others into their sound. Perhaps they fall into that post-metal category like Isis and Neurosis and others yet Cult of Luna's material is far more appealing to me. On Eternal Kingdom they slowly and I mean very slowly create emotional landscapes comprised of music, sounds and noises. The pace is plodding at times and the music can be repetitive yet the moods even the ones that make my nightmares seem tame are stunning. Other bands playing a similar style seem to live by a thick, textured feel and I think Cult of Luna have a more singular sound that allows the listener to really soak in each little part that they are churning out. Many of the parts they play might be simple by themselves yet the tones, pitches and arrangements help to turn something basic into something very rich. Sometimes the songs come out in a hazy trickle and sometimes they are cranked out with spine rattling heaviness. Yet just about every song had me waiting in anticipation for what was coming next. Now, despite everything I love about their music I have always struggled to deal with the vocals and they are not a great deal different here than in the past. Granted they are somewhat few and far between as the music takes most of the running time. Yet the vocals are just gruff at best and flavorless at their worst, either way they do more to distract than they do to enhance the overall sound. Slightly irritating vocals aside, this is still an album that is as dynamic as it is interesting.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ancestors interview


Ancestors hail from southern California and play a style that includes doom, stoner and various other sounds all swirled together. I recently got to interview to find out more.

First let me say that your Neptune with fire album is just amazing. So please introduce yourselves and tell what instrument you play.
Justin: I'm Justin and I play guitar and sing.
Nick: I'm Nick and I play bass.
Jason: I'm Jason and I play organ.
Chico: I’m Chico and I do noise and ambiance as well as vocals.

Tell us a little about your band's history.
Justin: We initially formed as a three-piece: just bass, drums and guitar. We played a few shows with very loosely written songs that were mostly just "stoner rock" jams. We tired of it fairly quickly and were eager for additional inspiration. We were looking for an organ player, but during our search Chico fell into our laps and starting adding the soundscape type elements to the music. Eventually Jason joined the band as our organ player and it just took off from there.

Who are your musical influences?
Justin: Our influences are pretty diverse, but some are definitely more prevalent than others. I'd say that Pink Floyd and King Crimson are probably our biggest influences. As for others in the prog/psych realm would have to include Nektar, Hawkwind, Agitation Free, Arzachel, Amon Düül II, Rush, Gong, Ash Ra Tempel, etc. More experimentally, and I know I can speak for both Chico and I when I say, Lars Gunnar Bodin, Stockhausen, Luc Ferrari, John Cage, Schaeffer and the whole musique concrète movement have been a big influence on the more abstract and ambient aspects of our music. And as far as the more modern influences, stuff like Neurosis, Sleep and Kyuss are probably the most obvious choices.
Jason: I am a classical pianist and I like a lot of Russian romantic/modern composers. I like a lot of heavy music and all the stuff that Justin just said.

What are some of your favorite albums of 2008 so far?
Justin:Tweak Bird - Whorses 7";Graveyard - Graveyard;Annihilation Time - III: Tales Of the Ancient Age;REM - Accelerate
Nick: I haven't really been paying attention to new music lately. Although I'm digging the new Melvins record. Tweak Bird's Whorses 7" is killer, too.
Jason: I dont listen to much new music, however, I’m pretty stoked that we get to play with a lot of the bands who are actually putting stuff out that I like a lot like Earthless and Graveyard.

Who have you opened for? What have been some of your more memorable shows so far?
Justin: We've played a lot of great shows. We've opened for a lot of incredible bands like Earthless, High on Fire, Today Is the Day, Saviours, Witch, DMBQ, Black Cobra, Lesbian, etc. Our most memorable shows tend to be the shows we play at The Smell. They're always a great time and we always play with really great bands like Jesus Makes the Shotgun Sound and Tweak Bird.
Nick: The Smell is great, we fit perfectly in that place. It's also much more loose as far as set times etc.. it's not a "Rush your ass off to set up, or cut into your own set time." Type thing, like Hollywood venues we've played.Jason: I was pretty excited to play with Today Is the Day. They had been one of my favorite bands since high school, they were totally brutal.

Are you all from Southern California or are you originally from other places?
Justin: I'm originally from Southern California.
Nick: I'm from Colorado but moved to Southern California when I was 19 with my band at the time.
Jason: Southern California.
Chico: I’m originally from London. I only moved to Los Angeles about two years and a half ago.

You have two songs on your album. How did the writing process go for the album? Did you plan from the start on just doing two songs or did you just work that out along the way?
Justin: We have a tendency to write long songs by nature. We have a lot of ideas flowing out constantly and have never seen a reason to cut off the ideas just because a song is getting long. A long song only feels long if you let it get stale, and we're always trying our best to keep the songs from getting stale. Initially we were just writing songs to write songs, with no real thought as to what we were going to do with them. As the concepts started to come together we began to realize that a two song record would probably be ideal and that it would give us a lot of breathing room within each song.

What are your songs about? Where do you get the inspirations for your song topics?
Chico: The songs have so far been about endeavors within the human condition, in particular the egocentric and the dumbfounded. Until now, they have played upon the much expected platform of mythology, which I'm avidly in favour of abandoning for the context of the next record.


How do you think that your band has progressed since you first started out?
Justin: Our music has definitely gotten more progressive. We're less focused on being heavy, which I think just comes naturally at this point, and much more focused on making interesting and intricate songs. The newer songs have more of an ebb and flow and moves a bit more than the songs on Neptune. And as far as the music prior to Neptune, it's much more cohesive. The jams became songs. That's not to say that we no longer jam, but it's no longer the foundation of our music.
Nick: I think we've always been in a good environment where we tend to push each other to play better and take it to the next level. It's completely natural. It's just the order of how the five of us write together.
Jason: Everyone has gotten more used to each other but everyone has also gotten a lot better as individual musicians recently.

In what areas do you think that you still need to improve?
Justin: I think we could always get tighter. And as we progress we continue to develop what seems like our own sound, but we'll never be truly satisfied until we get to the point where you could walk into a room and hear an Ancestors song that you've never heard and say "this is Ancestors." If you were to hear an AC/DC song you've never heard, you would still know that it was AC/DC, despite the fact that they're a rock and roll band and most rock and roll bands sound relatively similar.
Nick: We're constantly learning how to balance our own critiques of our music and see clearly what works and what doesn't. It's a balancing act that only experience can teach.Jason: Levels are tough to balance when your band is ungodly loud.

What are you doing that sets you apart from other bands going today?
Justin: I would like to think that we have our own way of approaching the style that we play, whatever you want to call it. A lot of bands have similar influences, but I think that we implement them in our own way and that hopefully sets us apart. There is an ever growing "stoner rock" and "doom metal" scene and we're growing increasingly more tired of the idea of being just a "doom metal" band. I hope that people will see us as more than that. But in the end, we're making music to please ourselves so that's all that really matters in the grand scheme.

Is this the only band that all of you are in or are any of you in any side projects as well?
Justin: Brandon and I are in a rock and roll band called Night Horse with the former vocalist from Bluebird.
Nick: I have a one man drone project called Bruinen.
Jason: When I get home I play jazz piano in my underwear to my cat.

I know you have a few dates coming up in your area. Any plans for more in the near future? Are gas prices forcing you to think about where you can really afford to travel to play at?
Justin: We're playing Diamond Days Festival in Oakland on July 19. Gas prices have definitely put a damper on potential tour plans, though we do hope to get on the road a bit this winter. Until then we'll probably continue our sporadic Los Angeles shows and occasionally take a weekend to go out of town for a couple of shows here and there.


What other interests do you have besides music?
Justin: I'm in law school and I work, so I don't really have time for other interests with two bands. I like movies?
Nick: I like to party.
Jason: I don’t get out much.

Pick the band from each of the following pair that you prefer and tell why you picked them.
Captain Beyond or Sir Lord Baltimore
Justin: Fuck that's hard...I'm not sure I could pick which one I like more, so I'm just going to go with Sir Lord Baltimore because I get all pumped up when I listen to them.
Nick: I'd have to go with Captain Beyond, because their rhythms and song structures are a little more complex than Sir Lord Baltimore. Though both bands are excellent.

King Crimson or Pink Floyd
Justin: That's even harder. I'm not even going to answer that one because it would change depending on my mood. They're even in my book as two of my all-time favorite bands.
Nick: That is really difficult. Especially considering both bands have had such a significant impact on our music. I think I'd have to go with Crimson in terms of experimentation.

Electric Wizard or Sleep
Justin: Sleep, hands down. I like Electric Wizard, but Sleep introduced me to the whole stoner rock thing and introduced the world to Matt Pike and that guy is a monster on guitar (aside from Asbestosdeath, but whatever).
Nick: Sleep!

Black Sabbath or Hawkwind
Justin: I love Hawkwind, but Black Sabbath is more timeless, so I definitely have to choose them.
Nick: Black Sabbath. They defined heavy.

Is there anything else you would like to say about your band or your music?
Justin: Not really, thanks for listening and taking the time to interview us.
Nick: I'm good. Thanks again.

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Griffen-Linked in eternity


This five song demo from Sweden’s Griffen seems deeply embedded in a mid-late 1980’s melodic metal and hard rock. I heard some early Queensryche, Dio, Rising Force and maybe even a touch of Pretty Maids mixed in different songs. They obviously are very much focused and that comes through in their sound as they are certainly very tight in many aspects of their playing. They manage to be fairly heavy, melodic at times and show a decent amount of technical flair to boot. One of the most important things they are doing though may be that they have a good degree of balance. They are not playing an overpowering style, but they certainly have enough going consistently to be interesting. The vocals are strong and the music flows along fairly well plus they mix up their direction enough on each song. I wish they would have had a few more heavier parts because they handled that well when they used that style, but I think they would have been even better with a slightly heavier edge mixed in a little more. The production is certainly first rate and I think their sound certainly benefits from this. Still I liked every song, they have a great deal to offer and Griffen are cranking out some solid classic style metal.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

TAB the band-Long Weekend

Professor Vegas

This power trio have only been around since early 2007, but you wouldn’t know it by the manner in which they attack their songs. It took all of about oh a minute into the swirling, screaming opener “Backseat Lover” for me to realize that this band was going to be bringing some serious garage rock my way. Indeed they keep it coming with an attack that has some basis in classic Rolling Stones, the WHO and early Aerosmith. Yet they take those influences and twist them in with a massive spinning array of charged up blues, bouncing funk, grinding guitars and deep pounding beats. They don’t really give you time to catch your breath as the tracks are short and too the point because they don’t waste time on unnecessary build-up. The style is very much based on late 1960’s-early 1970’s music primarily garage rock and classic rock. However TAB the band inject that particular sound with a healthy dose of adrenaline as they all the soul and fire that was good about this type of music and they thrust it out there with pure grit and surging grooves. I am fond of the production too particularly on the drums because they catch all the little echoes and nuances in a sound that’s almost like being in the same room hearing them be played. My only real gripe is that the whole album seemed to go by too fast and it left me wanting more.

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Dragon-Scream of death

Metal Mind
1991/2008 Re-issue

Dragon’s third release has every song being about some element of a future apocalyptic world. The lyrics are about dying and suffering is far more alive on their previous album “Fallen Angel”. The speed comes in spurts mostly be intermingled with mid-tempo parts that are even heavier. Additionally they seemed a little more confident in adding short musical bursts incorporating slightly offbeat sounding parts. More than anything the playing here is easily tighter than on the previous album plus on this album seemed to know exactly what direction they wanted to go in. However they likely traded speed and raw aggression for a far more creative and interesting sound. For 1991 they were really reaching out a bit in their attempt to try and include different sounds. The vocals are more typical of death metal of the early 1990’s but far better and more consistent than on the previous album. It’s produced by the same person that did “Fallen Angel” yet this album has a much richer sound. The rhythm section really stands out here with the steady changes and the sound of the guitar is overall solid. There are a few times where it seems a little dry and dull, they normally would shortly pick up and move along after that. Yet it seems like some parts could have been speeded up a little more to make the songs more concise. Still this was a fine effort that saw a great of progress taking place in just one year’s time. As with the “Fallen Angel” re-issue Metal Mind have included bonus tracks and a lyric booklet with a band history and pictures.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dragon-Fallen Angel

Metal Mind
1990/2008 Re-issue

Poland's Dragon had a history that dated back to 1984 and even though they got some praise early on they ran into some tough times with members having to serve in the military and members fleeing the country. Yet eventually times would became a little more stable for them and they would get to concentrate on their music. Before death metal was really an established genre or sub-genre some bands came from thrash and started adding elements that would later become traits of death metal. Dragon fall in that category as they obviously loved thrash as you can hear some Slayer, Kreator and early Sepultura in their music. Yet they were trying to push beyond the typical thrash style as they approached their sophomore effort "Fallen Angel". The music contains a variety of heavy, wormlike crawls, rapid fire blast of blurring speed and the typical thrashing sounds as well. Despites the inclusion of a moderately divers range of sounds, I am not sure that their writing skills could handle it all. The arrangements very from competent to amateur and rather messy as I think they knew they wanted different sounds, but they didn't how to piece them togethe to compliment one another. At times it's heavy and they shake things up with the pace changes and other times it sounds like they needed to spend more time thinking their ideas through. The vocals were not of the thrash variety as vocalist Adrian "Fred" Friedrich attempts a rather loose, semi-growl talking style that didn't really work for me. The heaviness of their music is there in spots and they hit on different sounds and approaches, but really it's just a little sloppy and fairly easy to understand why they never got that far.

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Take it back-Can't fight robots


Arkansas's Take it back hit somewhere between the drive of hardcore and the melodies of punk rock on their debut "Can't fight robots". They rely on melodies, but they never quite go over to a power-pop sound as they manage to retain enough of the energy to keep things afloat. They come across as being rather upbeat, but the rough vocals and drive pull things along nicely. Take it back do manage to mix up their sounds enough and it always seemed to happen right when I was just beginning to think they were playing a bit too safe. So they did enough to prove me wrong on that train of thought. My tastes tend to lean more towards hardcore, but their brand of punk rock manages to be very catchy without being soft or watered down in any way. That approach might actually be the most attractive attribute of their music because it would be so easy for them to play a little lighter in the hopes of being more accessible. However just as they believe in their spiritual lyrics, they also believe in the spirit of the style of music that they have committed themselves to. Really an album with a great deal to offer to different audiences and one that was almost instantly likable.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

H.A.T.E. Interview

Ohio's H.A.T.E were first around two decades ago before disbanding a few years later. Now they have a stable line-up as well as a new record deal. I recently talked with drummer Michael Harris to find out more.

Please introduce your band and tell what instrument everyone plays.
Greg Wagner - vocals/guitars, Chuck Ruszin - bass, Michael Harris - drums, Curran Murphy - guitars

Congratulations on signing to Auburn records. How exciting is that? Was it unexpected or had you been in negotiations with them for a while?
It has been in talks for years and we are very excited to be under the Auburn label.

You guys have been around for a while. Tell us a little about your band's history?
H.A.T.E was originally formed in 1988 by Greg and Chuck and disbanded in 1991. Greg carried on with other projects and chuck filled his time playing in various punk bands. Greg decided it was time to bring back that true metal sound and reformed the band in winter 2004 with Chuck and Michael. Curran got on board in summer of 2005 and here we are about to release our sophomore album and 7 more songs in the can for the 3rd release.

So have you started work on an album for auburn? If so how much do you have done and how has the writing and recording process gone so far?
We are currently mixing and mastering the album at Curran’s studio (Smiley sound) in Akron, OH. Everything has went smooth. we captured the drum tracks in 7 hours. Greg, Curran and Chuck got all their parts down a few weeks later.

Do you have an album title picked out yet? Do you have a possible release date or approximate date scheduled yet?

Yes, the album title will be "inject the infection" and is scheduled for release late fall/winter 2008-2009.What should someone who comes to see you live expect?
Solid, old school metal with no gimmicks. Just in your face, bone crushing metal with an emphasis on song writing and structure.

I saw that you have a few dates coming up. What have been some of your more memorable shows?
Every show has some form of memories. And when we perform, we do so like it's our last show.

I remember hearing that Cleveland had a pretty active metal scene back in the mid-late 1980's. What's the scene like today?
Yes it did, but it's made a downward spiral over the years and with the help of Bill Peters (Auburn records C.E.O.) and a few other promoters that use bands like H.A.T.E., it's gaining popularity again and is making a strong resurgence.


Now that you are signed can you share the wealth and mention any great unsigned bands in your area? M.S.O.D. and DOFKA are solid bands with excellent musicians.

What were some of the first metal bands that you really got into?
Early Van Halen, Judas Priest, Accept, Scorpions, Slayer, Metallica, etc.

What do you think of today's metal scene in general?
You hear one, you hear them all. Boring and stagnant. There are a few that still know how to write a song.


Name some of today's younger bands that you like a lot?
Killswitch Engage, In flames, Bobaflex

Where do you hope to be in three years? Still on earth grinding the metal.

Pick the band from the following pairs that you prefer and tell why.

Dio or Ozzy
Both, because they were both very important in their contribution to metal.

Breaker or Destructor
Breaker, because I like their songs better and I also sing for them, so I am partial to Breaker

Iron Maiden or Judas Priest
Judas Priest because I thought Rob Halford was god of all singers and their guitar attack was so original to me.

Megadeth or Slayer
Megadeth basically I like Mustaine’s writing a little more than Slayer, but they both kickass.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?

Just that we have always stayed true to our sound of the 80's metal and always will! Thanks to people like you, and our fans for sticking with us! See you on tour!!!

***Thanks to Michael for doing the interview.

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What's coming up?

I have been on vacation this week. We just took a few day trips though nothing big. The kids enjoyed it though I think. I have been watching a lot of Schoolhouse Rock lately with my four year old. This week I hope to get a lot out so here is what I hope to get out.

Reviews of...
Take it back-Can't fight robots
Griffin-Linked to eternity
Dragon-Fallen Angel and Scream of death re-issues (hopefully on the same day)
Big Elf-Cheat the gallows
TAB the band-Long weekend
Cult of Luna-Eternal Kingdom

Interviews with...

First day flashback and maybe a Clash of the album covers if I can get to it.

***Have a great week.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Grave Robber-Be Afraid


I have always loved Halloween, horror movies, monsters and everything that goes along with them. So when I first heard the Misfits twenty plus years ago I was thrilled because here was a band who treated every day like it was Halloween. Their look, the lyrics, the album covers, the simple music and everything about them was just so very cool. Of course I wasn't the only one who was influenced by the Misfits as many people discovered them even years after their first run ended. One of the last things I expected was a band with Christian lyrics to be so heavily influenced by the Misfits. However here we have Grave Robber who are very much in the horror punk style with straight ahead music and their lyric booklet contains an explanation about the meaning behind everything they are doing. They obviously love the whole horror aspect though as it is evident in all of their songs and they wear masks and costumes. The music is simple and you instantly recognize the Misfits style although I thought that they actually lean more towards sounding like the Michael Graves version of the band than they do the classic Danzig fronted version. The vocals are more straight up and the music is a little heavier than the first run of the Misfits so they had me thinking more of the late 1990's version of the band. There are not as many "whoaa ohhhs" wedged into the lyrics and the production is so sharp as well so both those facts had me thinking more towards the second version of the Misfits as well. Grave Robber play a pretty likable if unoriginal style of punk rock as they plunge ahead and just go at it. They aren't bending over backwards to discover or even trying to bring about anything new whatsoever then again I liked every song on the album whether it was original or not. Yet they are obviously doing the music they enjoy and that comes across instantly.

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TONA hail from Serbia and claim influences from punk, metal and other sources. The album is released for SKC NS, a regional government sponsored label that aims to promote alternative culture in Serbia. I can hear different musical genres in their sound here and there although it varies. Sometimes the styles are blended and sometimes one will jump out as being more evident than the others. In many ways they remind me of late 80's early 90's hard rock only with a stronger groove and heavier. One thing a lot of hard rock bands lacked back then was a really solid rhythm section that wasn't afraid to be heard. With TONA we get that and the strong rhythm section gives many of their songs a definite backbone to rely on. The vocals are a little hit and miss for me as they fit at times, but were perhaps a little dry and slightly flat on other songs. The guitars were largely where they should be, certainly varied enough although they could have come up in the mix a little at times. However that would be more of a production issue than a performance problem. They do a decent job of mixing up styles and largely keep things fairly interesting with pace changes and having different bits thrown in at unexpected places. I know very little about the music scene in Serbia, but these guys get some gigs because they have the kind of layered sound and enough talent that makes me think they could cut loose live. Overall a decent stab at laying down their influences and expanding on ideas as well.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

War of ages-Arise and conquer


Back in the mid-80's there was a point where the worlds of hardcore punk and metal (largely thrash) seemed very distant from each other in the minds of some. Yet to others the two were not that distant as both were fast, heavy and aggressive. Very briefly there in the mid to later part of that decade the crossover stage occurred when some bands like C.O.C., DRI, Agnostic Front and others attempted to combine hardcore and metal with various results. In recent years there are more bands who combine metal and hardcore yet again the styles of the combinations vary as do the results. To my ears Pennsylvania's War of Ages are one of the better bands combining these styles. The "to the point" vocals and no nonsense attitude are very much in keeping with the traditional hardcore style. The music is a more metal and actually fairly technical and involved as well. The sounds falls somewhere between metalcore and melodic death metal. What I like most about this band is that no matter what they are doing they still manage to propel everything they do forward like a massive machine. This band likes both styles of music and they wear both badges proudly without trying to hide or sugar coat any sounds as too many other bands do. They have an agenda and they plunge forward doing absolutely as much as they can with their time and skill. "Arise and conquer" sees War of ages easily displaying emotion as the music and vocals are very direct in what they are trying to accomplish. If I had to attach one word to describe this album then it would be "honest" because the entire album comes across as just being such a truly genuine effort in every manner and way possible.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Clash of the album covers

This time it is...





David Lee Roth-Eat 'em and smile

***So which cover do you prefer?

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Exmortus interview

Southern California's Exmortus are signed to Heavy Artillery records and they play a killed blend of thrash and death metal. I recently got to interview drummer Mario to find out more about this band, their music and their new album.

Have you been writing any new songs recently? If so then how does it compare with your previous material?

We've actually been hitting the drawing board a lot more recently and dishing out a few songs that we're most likely gonna use on the next album. It's definitely gonna be a set up from "In Hatreds Flame", more shredding up the ass, more heavy riffs up the ass, more "whirlwind" drumming up the ass, A LOT OF SHIT UP YOUR ASS!!! The last track off Hatred (Fimbulwinter) is a sample of what the bands gonna head into. I definitely think the fans are gonna dig it.

What are some of your favorite tracks off of the album and why?

Triumph By Fire and Fimbulwinter!!! In my opinion their the best written songs we have. it showcases every instrument in the band and has a steady groove to it, I just dig the shit out of them. Plus their the funnest to play on drums haha.

What do you think about the metal scene in general today? Is it getting better or worse than it was say at the beginning of this decade?

The metal scene has always been strong but with this new generation of kids I see it coming to a whole new level (since the beginning of the decade). A lot of people have been calling it the "thrash rival", and although we really aren’t a "thrash" band it definitely contributes to all the metal genres and i cant argue with that, its freakin’ great! I know you have some tour dates coming up. Tell us some about that. YES WE DO! We're embarking on our first US tour from the beginning of august up to mid-September. We're really stoked to finally be touring more than just our neighboring states. We'll be hitting the road with our buddies Bonded By Blood and our label mates Phantom Witch so keep a look out. The official dates will be posted up soon.

What are some of your most memorable shows that you have played so far?

We have a few but last years California Metal Fest was fuckin’ RADDDD!!! We got to play with Testament and an arsenal of bitchen bands. Our power kept going out (or some asshole kept turning it off), but that didn’t stop the crowd from going nuts. Definitely a show ill never forget.

Old style thrash bands have been popping up more and more in recent years. Why do you think that is? Are the thrash acts today doing anything different from the acts twenty years ago?

I think its something that just kind of happens on its own, the "cycle of life". Every few years another genre takes the lead (remember when everyone and there moms was listening to pop punk or some shit?) and this time bands are picking up that old school sound and people are diggin' it.

Back in the 1980’s a lot of the thrash bands that started out hard and heavy slowed down after a few albums and becoming more mainstream. How do today’s group of thrash bands avoid doing the same thing?

A lot of the recent bands are sticking to what sparked the genre, keepin’ it hard and heavy!!! That’s not to say that these bands wont slow down after a few albums as well. But for now, HARD AND FUCKIN HEAVY!!

What do you think are some of the best albums of 2008 so far?

Hmmm that’s tough, because a lot of bitchen cds were released late last year and I know a lot of bands are scheduled to release, but from what I've gotten a chance to hear id have to say the new Judas Priest and Testament. Definitely a good example on how a band should progress unlike other bands and albums (I wont say any names but it involves a saint and A LOT of ANGER!!!). But aside from "major" acts Bonded’s "Feed the Beast" and Warbringer’s "War Without End" definitely crush some skulls and ball sacks!!! I recommend you pick those up if your looking for the next up and coming bands.


Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked that band.

Death angel or Dark Angel
DARK ANGEL- heard some of Death Angels new stuff and I really wasn’t diggin it, it didn’t suck but if i had to choose between what both bands have released Dark Angel would get my vote.

Deicide or Obituary
DEICIDE!!!! I remember hearing the Serpents of the Light CD when I had started getting into death metal and it blew my mind!

Municipal Waste or Bonded by blood
Bonded is fuckin’ badass and good friends of ours, but I would have to go with THE WASTE!!! haha. Their just heavy as fuck!!! really in your face!!!

Sepultura or Slayer
FUCKIINN SLLAAYYEERR!! Mostly because they’ve been a big influence on me and writing music.Is there anything else that you would like to say about you band or your music?


***Thanks to Mario for doing the interview.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Alice Cooper-Along came a spider


To say Alice Cooper's career has been varied would be an understatement. He has never been afraid to take chances as far as changing musical styles. That approach has worked out with albums like "Welcome to my nightmare" and "Raise your fist and yell" but he has had far more disastrous results on efforts like "Lace and whiskey" ,"Special Forces" and others. So with a track record like this you never know quite what expect although the last few albums have generally been decent. As a whole "Along came a spider" is actually not all that surprising in the musical approach that it takes. That's not to say it's restrained though it's just that Cooper taps into some styles he has tried before. Tracks like "I know where you live", "Killed by love" and "I'm Hungry" actually have me thinking of "Welcome to my nightmare" and "Goes to hell" era Alice. Other tracks take more of modern hard rock approach or well, modern as in the last twenty years. The concept behind the album is that it is supposed to be about a serial killer named "spider" and follows what he does and his ultimate fate. The music is fairly varied and a brisk pace for many of the tracks helps. Alice's previous album "Dirty Diamonds" tried a similar approach of mixing earlier sounds from Cooper's career with newer hard rock. However "Dirty Diamonds" struggled because it seemed very forced, but "Along came the spider" has Cooper and his band sounding very natural and even more confident than he has in some time. Whether it's a heavy track or a ballad Alice just very much seems logged into his comfort zone here and that's very key. Talking about killers and murders is something that not every singer could do in this context without it sounding like total cheese. Yet Cooper has always had a knack of taking dark topics and pulling it off because that whole horror aspect (rather real or movie type horror) has always been a part of his identity. A few songs are a little more typical music wise than I would liked, but overall this release goes into Alice Cooper's stack of good releases.

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Austrian Death Machine-Total Brutal

Metal Blade

Have you ever wished that someone would make an album where ever song was based on an Arnold Scharzenegger movie? No? Well me neither and I am a fan of his movies. However, Tim Lambesis of As I lay dying obviously had some spare time and he took on this project and even played all the instruments on the first version of the songs, but called in additional musicians to help tighten up the final version. So each song is based on and Arnold film often based on actual lines from a film and it's set to thrash/death metal with the appropriate growling and screaming vocals shoved in. This is a joke album and we all know that and it makes no attempt to be anything else. Maybe this joke would have been funny around oh say 1991 before it was completely old. Yes, Arnold was not a good actor and he thrived on one-liners in overblown action films and we all knew that, but all that has been spoofed, laughed at and done and re-done long before the 1990's were even over. Perhaps this album is a bit more of a laughing tribute than the typical jokes because Lambesis might be of the age of many us who sat there watching these films over and over. Yet still this whole idea is as fresh as stale popcorn from the dollar theater. The music is basic and heavy and the lyrics include verses to sing along because if you know the movie then you know the lines. That's great that Lambesis is doing a project that he wants to it just across as a very dated idea. Quite honestly if I want to laugh or enjoy an Arnold movie or do both at the same time then I'll watch the movie and skip this rather mediocre CD.


Monday, July 21, 2008

TKO-In your face

1984/2008 Re-issue

I have had this for years on vinyl and the release date of 1984 had me thinking that it was recorded that year. Although a good album my thoughts were that they had indeed been influenced by bands who had released albums before that. However now with this re-issue (first time "officially" released on CD by the way) the liner notes inform me that this material was actually written in 1980 and recorded in 1981 with a different line-up than the one pictured on the old record jacket. Now those three years change a lot because doing this kind of stuff in 1981 puts them ahead of a lot other hard rock bands because the real explosion was still a couple of years away. So with this new knowledge I think that knocks this album up half a peg or so in the whole scheme of things. Vocalist Brad Sinsel was the only member left from the "Let it roll" line-up and they had wisely decided to drop the keyboardist and go down to being four piece. This line-up included a rhythm section of bassist Evan Sheely, drummer Gary Thompson (both would later be in Q5) and guitarist Adam "Bomb" Brenner. Some of the new members were more into metal and the band obviously saw the tide turning so they went that way as well. What we get is some rough hard rock with gritty vocals from Sinsel. I wouldn't say they sound exactly like any one other band, but I would say that fans of Y&T, 80's KISS, Twisted Sister and Black n' Blue would like this. It's a shame for these guys that this album had to sit on the shelf before Combat records picked them up in 1984 because instead of spending those three crucial years moving ahead, Sinsel saw members come and go as the album sat on a shelf collecting dust. This re-issue also includes ten bonus tracks and the booklet has lyrics and a background on the album.

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TKO-Let it roll

1979/2008 Re-issue

I heard TKO's efforts from the 1980's which fell very much in the category of the style of hard rock that was popular in that decade. I never heard their debut back then though largely because it just didn't seem to be easy to find. Now I get to hear the re-issue and it's quite a different sound and vocalist Brad Sinsel is the only member from this line-up who was still with them in the 80's. The sounds here is very much entrenched in 1970's hard rock sound and even what we now refer to as classic rock because I hear parts of the Who, the Stones, early Boston and maybe even some mid-70's Alice Cooper. The keyboards actually make it sound maybe slightly older than it's release year of 1979. It's a slightly stripped appraoch, but by and large most of the songs work due to some solid vocals and steady if not overwhelming approach to their music. I was shocked by this sound because it has arena rock written all over it. When I first heard it wasn't at all what I was expecting from a band whose other albums were far more along the lines of a hair metal sound. However after this release their label ran into troubles, members left and vocalist Sinsel ended up recruiting a new line-up with new ideas for the next album. Despite the obvious differences in style between this and the sophomore album "In your face" I can still honestly say that the band sounds comfortable with both sounds. I suppose was just due to the members playing off their influences and the two different line-ups followed some different bands. TKO did get to tour the Kinks, Cheap Trick and Heart back around this album came out, but their prospects were soon going to change due to label problems. "Let it roll" was a fine debut even though the band would eventually follow a different avenue. The re-issue includes nine bonus tracks recorded at a radio session in 1978 plus a booklet with lyrics and some history on the band.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Billy Idol-Idolize Yourself


Certainly not the first greatest hits compilation for Billy Idol, but this one has 18 total tracks including two new tracks and a DVD with 13 of Idol’s videos. Billy Idol used parts of hard rock, punk rock, rockabilly and even new wave (early on) in his music although it was often very light versions of all or most of those sounds. You normally just got a little of this and a little of that and that worked in many cases for him. The general results were pop songs that varied from the very catchy like “Rebel Yell” and “Dancing with myself” down to worthless and severely dated dribble like “Hot in the city” and “To be a lover”. Plus he hit one various levels in between although he always sneered, twisted his lip and raised his first like he believed in everything he was doing at the time. His solo career has always been a rather hit and miss affair although it probably leans a little more towards the plus category. The first of the pair of new tracks here is John Wayne which wanders around a bit with out a great deal of direction. The other new song is “New Future Weapon” which is a fairly sturdy and busy enough track with solid vocals. Somehow it’s very appropriate for a DVD with many of Idol’s videos to be included on this set. Idol probably did as much for music videos in the early days as they did for him. Sure, they are highly dated now yet the apocalyptic city on a budget and it’s new wave hair-do, rag wearing inhabitants of “Dancing with myself” and the semi-Gothic, but completely cheap oddness of “White Wedding” were very exciting or at least entertaining back when music videos were a fairly new format. Of course there also videos like “Flesh for fantasy” and “Catch my fall” that were mind numbingly bad back then and they have of course gotten worse over time. I certainly have not liked every song that Billy Idol has done yet he has had enough moments and this is a likable enough greatest hits collection.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

What's coming up?

Summer is just rolling along whether I want it to or not. This past week I have been gardening, watching a lot of Star Trek the animated series episodes and listening to a lot of music when I had time. This coming week I hope to have these topics out...

Reviews of...
War of ages-Arise and conquer
Alice Cooper-Along came a spider
TKO-In your face and Let it roll re-issues (on the same day I hope)
Billy Idol-Idolize Yourself

Interviews with...

Plus a Clash of the album covers if I can get to it.

***Have a fantastic week!

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Sound and Fury

Rebel Youth

The 1970's was in many ways such a great decade for music partially because of the energy and the attitudes, but also because so much had yet to be musicly. So you had a number of bands hitting upon new ideas and exploring new avenues. Thirty some years later it's often difficult for a band to copy the music of the 1970's and have it seem fresh or particularly engaging. That seems to be what Toronto's Sound and Fury are up against on their self-titled debut. The 70's hard rock influences are obvious and abundant plus there are some punk influences as well although they are a bit more spread out. There are several tracks where they manage to tap into a fairly fresh approach on old ideas just due to a whirlwind arrangement and acting they really mean what they are tryingto accomplish. However all too often the sound just kind of dissolves into sounding rather like run throughs of AC/DC style rock with very little style or ideas of their own. Besides AC/DC I can hear some Ted Nugent, Ramones and other influences mixed in on certain songs. It just seemed like the explosive songs were few and far between which is a shame because they handled them well. The impression I gathered that were content to put sit back and glide through a bit too many run of the mill style songs that really lacked the personality that their best songs contained. The production was very strong and they laid out some good ideas, but in a crowded field the album overall didn't quite do enough to really grab my attention.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ganon interview


Ganon hail from the Ann Arbor area of Michigan and play a blend of stoner rock, doom and other heavy styles. I recently interview vocalist/keyboardist Kenny McNabb to learn about this band.

-Hello, please introduce yourselves and tell us some about the history of your band.
Hello mark, thanks for taking the time out to conduct an interview with us. Kenny McNabb, vocalist and keyboardist will be your loyal participant on behalf of Ganon, which is comprised of Clark Eagling on bass (let it be known that there is applause after each introduction) Mr. Greg Heaney on guitar, Mr. Ryan Toohey on guitar, and on drums we have Brian Fredenburg. Ganon started out circa 2002, the actual date was never recorded, but the band has had many births and deaths, so the actual date has been skewed over the years. Ganon first started off 4 friends who got together to start as an Eyehategod and Melvins worshipping band to give the struggling Detroit metal scene a bit of a makeover, and over the years as we all matured and members moved on, we have grown into our own sound that has no longer been directly influenced by the heavy doom community.

-Tell us some about your latest album "As above, so below".
Well, "As above, so below" is the newest album we wrote with newest addition, Ryan Toohey, who really brought a different sense of melody into the band and where we could mark a new beginning for Ganon. The album as a whole has a running lyrical theme of everything on earth affecting that of the celestial bodies and the celestial bodies affecting everything on earth. We went back to the same studio that recorded our first album, so we felt more comfortable in the studio this time around and didn’t feel inferior to our producer since we have established a good relationship with over the years.

-How do you think it differs from "In the dead of sleep"?
Well, as with most bands, this sophomore album, depicts the maturity in songwriting and lyrics. The first album was made over 4 struggling years and we still had the sense to want to pummel the listener. For this album, we intrinsically had the sense to not do that to the scale we did it before, now its just in moderation.

-How did the writing and recording process for the new album go?
With writing, we would hash out a lot of material in the practice space from various members presenting ideas to one another. In the practice space we record demo tapes for reference and expound on those ideas. For lyric and keyboard placement, I would take the tapes home and practice placement on my own terms. From there we recorded demos in Clark’s home studio so we could easily streamline our efforts in the studio as to not waste time and money, we knew exactly what we were doing and how we were to do it. After we recorded at the studio, Clark would mix and master the material and he would present it to us, and we would write down our gripes, he would remaster until we came to an amicable decision that the record was mastered to everyone’s liking.

-What has been the response to your new album so far?
So far the response has been very positive, we have been getting the feedback that we really wanted. everyone has really focused on our songwriting ability, the sense of melody and maturity that makes us standout from the fledgling pack we are running in. albeit, they still reference the traditional heavy hitters, but it gives the reader something tangible to grasp onto, which is definitely a benefit for us.

-Under sounds like on your Myspace page under sounds like it says "a force that bulges with a spacious atmosphere and dust-laden trances of building rhythms and frequencies". Where did that come from and how would you describe your sound?
That was a quote from a Metal Maniacs review when we did a DIY 2 song EP, which featured the song "The calm of unlight" which was ultimately re-recorded, and the song "murder the silhouettes"To describe one's own sound without sounding pompous is difficult, but to give it a shot, it's an organic sound that ebbs and flows to keep the listener attentive.


-How did you come to get signed to acerbic noise development records?
Well, as with a lot of indie labels, we aren’t actually "signed" per-se. It’s more of a gentleman's agreement. After we recorded "In the dead of sleep," I was researching labels to release it, and I came across this young label and in the matter of 2 years since there inception, they became an impressive and respectable force in the indie community. The label owners, Chad and Heather Baker, immediately really impressed us with their instant hospitality. They were very accomidating and accessible before they even agreed to release our album, so we knew instantly that they were a good fit for us.

-So you have some tour dates set up in august, are you psyched up for that? Will there be any more dates coming soon?
We are very excited for this little jaunt, as we should be. we are coming to some areas that we havent been before, and the reaction has already been positive from club owners about booking us, so its been flattering so far. Since the gas prices are high, we are limiting and moderating our time out on the road, we now have a publicist, so we have the ability to make sure the timing is right each time we go out on the road, and just not arbitrarily tour, which could be disasterous.

What are some of the more memorable shows that you have played so far?
Well, as of recent times, we played with coalesce in Detroit. coalesce was very important to me as a young hardcore kid, so it was very special to me share the stage with such a groundbreaking band. we just recently toured with Sourvein and Zoroaster, and each show was memorable in its own sense since it was our first time touring for more than 3 days.

Is there much of a metal scene in the Ann Arbor area?
In the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, its on a smaller scale, its still struggling, we have been doing pretty well recently in the Ann Arbor area, thank to our good friends idol and the whip and a working model, they introduced their fans to Ganon and in the past 2 years, Ann Arbor has been very good to us.

-What are some of your songs about? Where do you get your ideas for your song topics?
All the songs revolve around the same concept of the celestial bodies and how they influence our circadian rhythm and vice versa. The topics basically came from a time where I was working 2 jobs and going to school and sleeping about 2 hours a day. My rhythm was way out sync and saw nature in a different perspective. But, I wrote the lyrics in such a way that was not personal and therefore subjective to the reader. I really object to the use of words like "my," "me," and "I" I don’t want to exclude anyone, so those words are not in my vocabulary when i get influence to write a new song. but every once in a while ill use "us" or "our" to include everyone.


-What do you think are some of the best albums of 2008 so far?
Well so far, the new Nick Cave and the bad seeds and Torche album' are stellar. And of course, all of our label mates albums are something that are interesting that you should check out, El Chupa Cobras, Devil and the sea.

-Under "influences" on your Myspace page it says "alcohol and video games. Does that mean you do those two things at the same time? What are some of your favorite video games?
Well, the name Ganon came from the legend of Zelda, 4 out of 5 members of Ganon are highly into video games, I am not, so I put alcohol in there so I wouldn’t feel excluded. I do occasionally play Dr. Mario with a nice micro brewed India pale ale (ipa) on my 8 bit Nintendo, but that now lasts only a few minutes before it starts malfunctioning, the NES that is.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about your music or band?
With Ganon, you are getting honest music that is not a direct carbon copy. we are just constantly pushing ourselves to make things interesting to us and the listener, to give us and them something memorable, on recorded format as well as our live set. a few listeners have mentioned that they find themselves humming our songs as they are walking down the street, so I think we are accomplishing that feat. Thank you, Mark!

***Thanks to Kenny for doing the interview.

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Neuraxis-The thin line between


Montreal’s Neuraxis play a fairly technical, semi melodic brand of death metal that seems to thrive more on smoothness than on actual aggression. They do rattle off at a rather rapid fire pace as they oftentimes just soar into their songs with little build-up. I think their approach of launching into most of the tracks helps to just pull your attention straight in to what they are attempting to accomplish. Melodies make up a big part of the material here and they handle them with a good deal of finesse. I didn’t take to the album immediately because I think that some of the heaviness that could have been present is slightly lost beneath the gloss of the overall sound. I think they may have benefited from some sharper cuts and hooks because there were a number of times where it feels a bit one dimensional. They do let loose a few times and with spine jarring moments that were both slightly surprising and certainly welcome. It just seemed there were too many times where they kind of glided into a rather limited sound array of sounds and I could just feel the indifference rising inside me. The drums seemed more focused on speed than on actual heaviness and the difference left a few songs sounding a bit hollow. The vocals were also a bit repetitive and began to drone on at times without any real emotion or change in pitch. I like their control of the pace, but the details within the songs vary from fair to good. A decent release, but not as heavy or dynamic as I would have liked it to be.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interview with Eye

Eye are an AOR/hard rock band from Sweden who have an album due out soon. I recently got to interview drummer Rob Degén and guitarist/songwriter Oz Osukaru to find out more about this band.

MM-Hello, please introduce your band and tell us what instrument you play.

Oz: Hi Mark, really nice to talk to you!! Well, we are a Swedish west coast based rock group called EYE. Our music is pretty much inspired by the American FM Rock from the mid. 70's to early 90's and got some elements from Scandinavian AOR. I'm the guitarist and one of the songwriters.

Rob: My name is Rob and I'm the drummer of EYE. We are a Swedish rock band recording the last part for the forthcoming record "2 Hearts". We are 5 members in the gang; Me and Oz of course, and then Ivan "Ivve" Höglund on lead vocals, Jace Fevero on bass and Mathias Rosén on keyboards and piano.

MM-Tell us a little about how you formed and your band history.

Oz: The idea behind this band came early 2006, but then as a side project with me and a singer only. But as time went by, we went separate ways. I started to search for new members and it turned out to be more of a band then just a small side project. I wanted to make this group a bit more special so instead of searching among different melodic rock and glam outfits, I asked some of the best local musicians I know from the independent music scene, musicians that have played everything from pop, funk, rock and punk to a more aggressive kind of metal. In early 2008, the last piece of the puzzle was found in the amazing voice of ex. Sharp's lead singer Ivan "Ivve" Höglund. I saw him perform live and I knew he was the right man for the job!

MM-What are you currently working on?
Rob: My fat belly! I want to lose some weight... Oh, you mean the band? Haha! Well, we're recording and mixing the songs for the record "2 Hearts" right now!

Oz: Yes, we are in the final stage of recording our debut CD. Can't wait to get it out for everyone to enjoy!

MM-I know there are plenty of glam bands coming out of your country, are there many other AOR bands like yourselves playing around there as well?

Rob: Well, in our area, Gothenburg, there is mostly metal and glam rock.

Oz: There are a few bands in the melodic scene here in Sweden today, H.E.A.T. from Stockholm for example. The beautiful thing about this is that none of the bands sounds exactly the same. Every one of us marks a different part of the huge stadium rock scene.

MM-I know that some of you have been in other bands. What bands have you been in?

Oz: All of us have been in other bands, and some of us still are. I play the guitar in the hard rock band Katana since 2004 and I'm also doing sessions with various artists. Ivan was the lead singer of Sharp for a couple of years and are now, except EYE, singing in a sleaze rock act called Pretty Wild. Jace played bass in Rattlesnake since the late 90's or early 00's and Mathias are the keyboardist of a death/black metal project called Deletion. He's also doing sessions with various artists.

Rob: I'm in a progressive metal band called Masugn and I have also played the drums in Damaged Dolls plus a few demo acts.

MM-How does being in this band different from being in those others?

Rob: This is a band where you don't wait, you just do it. We're all in it and we all put as much effort as we need into it! And you'd better do it good or Oz will... well, you know Oz hahaha!

Oz: Hahaha!

Rob: In my other bands, there have been a lot of waiting and other things that have stopped us from doing what we wanna do 24/7. Thats not the case with EYE.

Oz: Well, it has been a while since we started the recording of the CD. We're all perfectionists so it's gonna be good I tell you, haha! But to answer your question, Mark, EYE gives us all a musical freedom that I haven't felt in an other band before. If we write a blues, a pop song or something that sounds a like Van Halen, it doesn't matter! We can always "Eyealize" it, haha!

MM-Who have you played with live so far? What have been some of you more memorable shows so far?

Oz: We have not yet performed live with EYE. But the most memorable show I've done must be Katana live in Halle/Saale, Germany 2006! The audience we're quite few in noumbers, but they really did know how to treat a band well! Katana also did a show at Armageddon Open Air in September '07 and we were opening for Treat, Freedom Call and Nocturnal Rites among others. Hanging and partying with the guys in Treat and Nocturnal Rites after the show was totally awesome and we had loads of fun!

Rob: I played with a local demo band at valand in '06. That was an amazing show and I had loads and loads of fun with those dudes back than. That is definatly my funniest gig so far, no doubt!

How did you link up with Rock It Up records?

Oz: Katana had a distribution deal with Rock It Up Records for our EP "Heart of Tokyo" in 2006 and when I mentioned for the label that I had this project coming up, they were interested in signing us for a record deal! I really love working with Rock It Up Records and that they are a great label for this record!

MM-I noticed on your Myspace page that you have some dates lined up for the fall and the end of the year including some dates in Texas. Have any of you ever played in the states before? How excited are you about playing those dates?

Rob: Its my first time ever in the states, so it's very very exciting. I'm really looking forward to it !

Oz: Neither have I been in the U.S. before so this will be awesome! I can't wait! This visit is set up by our wonderful booking agency for North America; Heaven Productions in co-operation with our fantastic U.S. management Saba Records USA.


MM-Will you have more U.S. dates coming? Are you going over with another band or will you just be playing with local support acts?

Oz: No, this time we're only visiting 4 citys in Texas; San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and Dallas. I don't know which other bands who will be playing but in San Antonio we will support the American heavy metal legends ByFist, with members from David Wayne's Metal Church and Reverend. It's a bit different kind of music then what we play, haha, but it will be really interesting!

MM-Judging from you list of influences it seems that you are very much into late 70's-80's AOR/hard rock. What do you think was so special about those bands and that time period?

Oz: It's all in the melodies and the lyrics. You still had so much left to give back in the days! The special thing about this kind of music is that it brings so much hope and happiness. The lyrics really means something and it's about love, life, faith and hope. The music really touch your heart and stays.

MM-What are some of your favorite albums of 2008 so far?

Oz: Journey - "Revelation"! What a fantastic and heartful album!! H.E.A.T.'s self titled debut album and Steve Lukather's "Ever Changing Times" are 2 other surprises this year!

Rob: Journey - "Revelation".

MM-What are you bringing to the AOR/hard rock sound that makes your band different?

Rob: We bring it back the way it's meant to be played.Oz: Well yeah! But I also think it's that we're trying to create classic rock for the future. We take the best from 1988 and update it to 2008, if you know what I mean, hehe.

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pair that you prefer and tell why you picked them.

Dokken or Europe

Oz: Hard one, but I must say Europe. They are the reason why I first got interested in harder rock when I was a child.
Rob: Europe! A childhood classical band. I just can't vote them down!

Asia or Toto
Oz: It's getting harder, haha. I love Asia's latest album, but Toto are always Toto. So Toto it is!Rob: Toto! Great inspiration! Great musicians in both bands, but Toto has always been the favourite.

Scorpions or Whitesnake

Oz: Whitesnake, no doubt! Their music is full of passion, hunger and soul!Rob: Whitesnake! David Coverdale is amazing and the songs are just stunning!

Foreigner or Journey

Oz: Journey! The best band there is if you ask me! Foreigner is good but Journey is fantastic!!Rob: Journey! I find them more inspiring and I like their material through the years much better!

Is there anything else that you would like to say about your music or your band?

Oz: I think the most of this interview covers it all up! I just want to say thank you to everyone who supports us!! Thank you for all your trust and belief! And thank you so much for this interview Mark!
Rob: Whatever he says, haha! And thank you so much Mark and everyone else that supports us!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Motley Crue-Saints of Los Angeles

Motley Records

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the members of Motley Crue seemed distant from one another and certain members seemed very much involved in other projects, actually that was last year. It was beginning to feel like another studio album might be a long ways away if ever. Then all of a sudden Tommy was back in, the band was working hard (and apparently rather quickly), they crank out a new album glistening with nude bodies on the cover and everyone is throwing up their hands in praise proclaiming that the old Crue is back. Whoa, let’s back up a little bit and see what’s really transpiring here before we start tugging on our old faded “Shout a the devil” pentagram shirts, strapping on studded bracelets and flashing devil horns like it’s 1983 again. There are thirteen tracks on the new disc so they have given us a lot to absorb, but quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality. Not to get too far sidetracked, but a good portion of this album reminds me of Ozzy’s "Ozzmosis" album in a way. Granted the Crue’s album is better, yet both albums have a number of songs with a thick (not altogether heavy) sound that is almost like a shell around the song. At first it seems sort of heavy, but really it’s just a rather tacky glob of production that’s covering up a rather mundane riff. They try this tactic on several tracks and I got the impression that the thought this was a stab at a “modern” sound, but really that style just came across as being rather lazy. However, there are few tracks that are rather heavy including the title track, “Goin’ out swingin’” and a few others. Now these songs are nowhere near a “Shout at the devil” or “Too fast for love” level yet they work. Is the old attitude there? I think their attitude was always rather fake, but they do a good job of believing in what they are doing for a few songs on the new release. Okay, that’s probably descriptions of the worst and best type of songs on this disc. The rest is largely filler that varies from tolerable down to “this is going nowhere fast”. I would have welcomed a return to form for this band because those first two records were two of if the best hard rock albums of their decade. Still at best we get a few tracks here that might be as good as some of the material on “Dr. Feelgood” which is a plus, but unfortunately it’s just a few tracks. There are also several very moderate songs and a few groan worthy clunkers. In the end “Saints of Los Angeles” is a little above average and would fall right around the middle if I were ranking their albums. Return to form? For a few tracks only, but unfortunately it contains far too much padding and limp noodles hiding behind some generously slathered production work. So for Motley Crue their once glorious past remains a peak they will never likely fully achieve again in their career.

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