Friday, October 23, 2020

Full Length Review: Iron Wings "Dzejnieks" (Independent) by Sarah McKellar

Band: Iron Wings
Location: Riga
Country: Latvia
Genre: Thrash metal
Full Length: Dzejnieks
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: March 31, 2020
Iron Wings is an old school thrash project hailing from Riga, Latvia formed in 2016.
After their 2017 EP release [Tumšie miglāji], these Latvians are back with their first full length release “Dzejnieks”.
Polished and professional consistently throughout this release, Iron Wings have developed a unique sound which is reminiscent of Destruction and Kreator.
The vocals add a traditional heavy metal feel to this release and the riffs are consistently excellent, while samples add an eerie feel. The lyrics are in Latvian which is fantastic to see but does present a challenge for this primarily English speaking reviewer- however the music speaks for itself and the meaning can be felt through the tone of the vocalist.
Samples add an eerie vibe in “Svešā”- one of the tracks that can be classified as a ballad but remains unrelenting and heavy none the less. One of the heavier songs “Klusumā” combines raspy vocals with guttural vocals to add a heavier and more ominous tone for the listener to appreciate another musical aspect. “Mācītājs” is a classical, political thrash anthem written about an offending priest within the church: displaying killer riffs, excellent drumming and strong political lyrics, this track is one to listen to.
A spoken monologue adds an eerie feel and acts as an introduction to prepare the listener for the final namesake track of this release. Translating to “The Poet” – “Dzejniek” is a musical journey with Iron Wings through their technical thrash aspects and finishing with an acoustic ending.
Melodic with killer balls to the wall riffs and a gutsy attitude that will not quit- Iron Wings are classic old school thrash at its finest. I genuinely enjoyed this release and look forward to hearing more of Iron Wings material in the future. –Sarah McKellar

Lineup
Andris Veinbergs: Bass, vocals
Dainis Andersons Guitars
Valdis Emīls Popēns: Drums

Track list
1. Krustcelēs
2. Viss mainījies 
3. Svešā
4. Tevi dzirdēt
5. Klusumā
6. Mācītājs
7. Heroīns
8. Es lūdzu izjust nāvi atkal 
9. Monologs
10. Dzejnieks

Split Review: Noisy Neighbors/Shit Life "Competitive Victimhood" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Noisy Neighbors
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Country: USA
Genre: Grindcore
Band: Shit Life
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Country; USA
Genre: Grindcore
Split: Competitive Victimhood
Format: CD (limited to 200 copies), streaming
Label: Independent
Release date: October 16, 2020
Over the last little bit, I have really been slacking on my reviewing duties. In between releasing my own music and working on fiction, review writing has kind of fallen to the wayside.
Earlier today, Dave Wolff from Asphyxium Zine sent me a short split. When Dave sends me stuff there is usually a 4/5 chance that it is something highly enjoyable... something I can sink my teeth into. And just like most cases, the split he sent me was no different. The split in question is ''Competitive Victimhood''... a two way between the two U.S. grind outfits Noisy Neighbors and Shit Life. I have heard of both these bands but didn't know much about them. But as of today, I can honestly say I am keen to their existence.
The grindcore on both sides of this split is well done. Personally, I am leaning towards favoring the Noisy Neighbors side, but honestly, only by a small increment. The Shit Life side is a tad more raw, and the Noisy Neighbors side of the split is a bit tighter sounding (in my opinion). I think what really wins me over to the N.N. side of the court is the percussion. The drumming is really tight (amazing actually), and the tone of the snare and rolls really hit home (for me). With all that said, Shit Life is pretty damn great too, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in grindcore to give both these bands a listen. Hey... it wouldn't hurt, eh?
Noisy Neighbors are from San Antonio, Texas since 2018. Shit Life are from Detroit, Michigan since 2009. This split was self-released in digital format October 2020. The physical CD release should be out by November 2020. There was also a little note on Youtube. If any person or label wants to release a 7'' version of this split, please get in contact with the bands. They would really appreciate indulging in your vinyl goodness!
So, when push comes to shove, this is a pretty damn good split release. So, you should for sure go listen to it. And if not, well... fuck off then! Devin out! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Lineup:

Noisy Neighbors
Shane Elwell: Guitars, vocals
Mike Garrison Guitars
Walter Howard: Bass
John Katastrofe: Drums, vocals

Shit Life
Chris Revill: Guitars, vocals
Zach Gibson: Drums, vocals

Track list:
1. Noisy Neighbors - Cheap Heat 
2. Noisy Neighbors - Dead Serious
3. Noisy Neighbors - Making Things Worse
4. Noisy Neighbors - Terror Pact
5. Shit Life - The Church of Real Grindcore
6. Shit Life - Unlimited Stupidty
7. Shit Life - Rage on Behalf of the Machine
8. Shit Life - Fear of Hydrogen Cyanide

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Full Length Review: Beastial Piglord "Wiped Out..Way Up" (Misanthropik Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Beastial Piglord
Location: Kinston, North Carolina
Country: USA
Genre: Extreme metal
Full Length: Wiped Out..Way Up
Label: Misanthropik Records
Format: Digital album
Release date: September 12, 2020
It’s October of 2020 and Hudson Conner still has an inexhaustible supply of music to go stark raving mad by. It’s frightening how consistently Conner has released Beastial Piglord material since he started in 2018. But his latest release “Wiped Out..Way Up” is testimony that he has an infinite amount of ideas to share. As I indicated in past reviews, what’s most distinguishing about Beastial Piglord is that each full length contrasts the last. “Wiped Out..Way Up” doesn’t sound anything like past Beastial Piglord releases, and it’s an album you”ll have to play at maximum volume to get its full intended effect. Unlike "Viorensilt" depicting your surroundings as lifeless and devoid of animation, “Wiped Out..Way Up” is a represents violence, gore, pain, suffering and anguish at its most graphic and real. The songs on “Wiped Out..Way Up” were recorded with industrial elements, atmosphere, ethereal effects, otherworldly sounds, disembodied voices, more time changes, shades of hip hop and groove death metal, and tortured wailing from a place beyond that makes hell seem a vacation resort. These are equivocally interbred into a framework of nu metal, as if Korn was formed of asylum inmates, or better yet the demented, psychotic freaks of the “Hostel” movies who get off on physical torture. Despite the negative connotations sometimes connected to nu metal, this is in no way mainstream radio friendly nor intended to appeal to the uber cool who do all their shopping at the malls. The ironic thing is, if nu metal bands picked up on anything Conner wrote for this album it would be credited as paving new ground. Besides Korn I heard similar themes to Sepultura, Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy in the vocals and guitars, providing a sense of savagery that enhances the stuff of nightmare that is now synonymous with this project. Beastial Piglord is not a project challenging the mainstream like gangbusters, and they may not receive fame and fortune, but it’s a project chipping away at traditional musical standards piece by piece, in a time when there is more of a need for it than ever. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Hudson Conner: All vocals and instruments

Track list:
1. Taken Advantage Of
2. Reset Character
3. A Rift Apart
4. Lurch
5. Sullen
6. King Of The Worms
7. Hop The Twig
8. Piezoelectric
9. Clutz
10. Conformite Europeenne
11. Beulah Los Gatos
12. Was Your Life
13. Coiled
14. Uncultured Swine
15. N.T.T.
16. Eye Biter


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Full Length Review: Sodom "Genesis XIX" (Entertainment One, Steamhammer/SPV) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sodom
Country: Germany
Genre: Thrash metal
Full Length: Genesis XIX
Format: Digital album, digipack CD, double vinyl LP (Entertainment One)
Label: Entertainment One (North America), Steamhammer/SPV (Europe)
Release date: November 27, 2020
Many cite Kreator or Destruction as the German thrash band to die and kill for; while I hold them in high regard it’s always been Sodom for me. I’ll confess when I was introduced to “In the Sign of Evil” I thought it was the worst thing I ever heard. But while my initial impression of that EP was that it was completely talentless and unprofessional, something about it engaged me. The counterbalance to the perceived lack of ability was the frenzy they displayed, the certain conviction I can only describe as the “Sodom sound”. An assured, almost regal, attitude that returned on “Obsessed by Cruelty” and the “Expurse of Sodomy” EP. It was one part solitary and nine parts diabolic, and finally hooked me. No matter how often their sound fluctuated they held firmly to it. Naturally I jumped at the chance to hear the advance download of the upcoming album “Genesis XIX” from Earsplit PR. I’m more than contented to say the “Sodom sound” is alive and well, and that frontman Tom Angelripper is reunited with guitarist Frank Blackfire who appeared on “Expurse,” “Persecution Mania” and “Agent Orange.” With a new lineup, a return to Tom Angelripper’s working class neighborhood and a rehearsal space described as “ratty,” the band readied themselves to record a rugged, unbending thrash album that respects its roots. If you’re a long-standing Sodom fan you won’t be disappointed in the slightest. It’s not pretty, it’s gruff, raunchy, aggressive and unforgiving, and in every way reflects the band’s industrialized environment as well as their NWOBHM roots as faithfully as ever. “Genesis XIX” was recorded only with analog material, which explains its organic assailment on the senses. Don’t expect something formulaic however; the variety of elements brought into the mix are traditional thrash, metal, punk, blues, hard rock, and black and death metal. Tom Angelripper has always taken liberties to write unsettling, thought-provoking lyrics, and continues to do so here. His chosen subject matter this time includes serial killings, US fighter pilots in the Vietnam war, Western culture and Melville’s classic novel “Moby Dick.” This should be enough praise for the album, check it out upon its release and judge for yourself. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Tom Angelripper: Bass, vocals
Frank Blackfire: Guitars
Yorck Segatz: Guitars
Toni Merkel: Drums

Track list:
1. Blind Superstition
2. Sodom & Gomorrah
3. Euthanasia
4. Genesis XIX
5. Nicht mehr mein Land
6. Glock N‘ Roll
7. The Harponeer
8. Dehumanized
9. Occult Perpetrator
10. Waldo & Pigpen
11. Indoctrination
12. Friendly Fire

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Full Length Review: Deathcraeft "On Human Devolution" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Deathcraeft
Location: Ioannina
Country: Greece
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
Full Length: On Human Devolution
Format: Digital album, limited edition compact disc
Label: Independent
Release date: July 5, 2020
The Greek death-thrash metal band Deathcraeft was formed by Konstantinos Kalampokas, who was a guitarist for the Greek death-thrash band Spider Kickers and live guitarist for the Greek black metal band Varathron. Kalampokas formed Deathcraeft in 2017 and with his fellow musicians spent three years developing “On Human Devolution”. While devising a sociopolitical story with Lovecraftian metaphors is nothing new for metal, Deathcraeft create an expressive debut that inventively retells the Cthulhu Mythos. “On Human Devolution” reaches operatic heights with its diverse vocal range, interflowing old school thrash a la Testament, Megadeth and Possessed with death metal vocals and blast, the abrasiveness and intensity of black metal and orchestral song structure.
Celtic Frost were adept at exploring the decline of ancient civilizations on “To Mega Therion” and “Into The Pandemonium”. In contrast Deathcraeft explores the decline of present day civilization due to its own hubris, no matter how much it’s concealed behind its facades. If mankind won’t recognize its own hubris, “On Human Devolution” seems to say, it deserves what it gets. Do people offer salvation or deny it to others for their own benefit? Do they teach by love or fear? Do they reach for higher spiritual planes or scale the Tower of Babel? “On Human Devolution” suggests the time for answers is past, as the ancient gods have arrived to deliver the discontentment of the deceived souls of centuries past. As these gods are beyond good and evil, they mete justice according to man’s true soul.
What’s special about this album is the music, vocals, lyrics, classical overtones and atmosphere all contribute to the story, presenting it as convincingly as the most heartfelt recordings of Malmsteen, Dio and Judas Priest. On top of the influences listed earlier, there is even a hint or two of Rob Zombie added here and there. Feeling and passion are as integral to this album as technical prowess. The pervading sense of impending, inevitable doom that is to come when the old deities return is as integral to the story as anything else. It’s all the more intense because we already know what is coming, and that the mass destruction awaiting humanity cannot be stopped. The pride, greed, lust for power and control in each person, and the propensity for humans to turn on one another and survive at the expense of others contributes to the growing sense of fear as tangibly as anything else, until the human race falls into oblivion.
For all this, “On Human Devolution” seems to have an open ended finale that questions whether mankind is doomed or will somehow survive the coming apocalypse. As the soundtrack to an apocalyptic movie that likely can never be made, this album is a must have for fans of each subgenre of metal it draws from, and a sure candidate for 2020’s finest moment for metal in general. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Nikonas Tsolakos: Vocals
Konstantinos Kalampokas: Guitars, bass
Giannis Chionidis: Drums

Track list:
1. The Ritual
2. Beginning of the End
3. Spreading Lies
4. Welcome to Oblivion
5. Survival
6. Daydreaming in the Abyss
7. Paving the Way
8. Free into the Void

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Interview with Ritchie Randall of GRAVEHUFFER (second interview)


Interview with Ritchie Randall of GRAVEHUFFER (second interview)

Since Alan Lisanti interviewed you last year, Gravehuffer released a new EP that’s been well received. How long did the band work on it, what platforms is it available on and how many zines have you contacted for a review?
We released a two song EP called “Demon Face and Stalingrad’s Cross”. It was released on NoSlip Records last September on Friday the 13th. It was a vinyl only release that had four different color variations. The first color was solid white, the next was white on black splatter, and then black on white splatter, and smoky swirl. We spent a couple of months writing and recording. We were going through a drummer search at the time and we had a friend of ours named Kasey Denton that helped us out with drums on this recording. The bulk of the two song EP was written by our bass player Mike and myself. We had several other songs we were working on but these two were the most complete. NoSlip Records were the ones that suggested doing the EP. When we were writing “Stalingrad‘s Cross” our singer at the time, James thought that the rhythm of the song sounded like a march for an army. He had always wanted to write a song about the Battle of Stalingrad. We finished the music for “Stalingrad’s Cross” and James wrote the lyrics. Demon Face was something that I had suggested for a subject and it was about a man named Edward Mordrake. He supposedly had a parasitic twin in the back of his head. I thought that subject was perfect for Gravehuffer. Mike and I wrote the music for that in his bedroom one day while we were trying to find a new drummer. We were very inspired at the time. James wrote some fantastic lyrics for “Demon Face”. It was something that he really got into. Once we had the parts and the lyrics together we decided to go ahead and record them. Mike had just moved into a new house and he set up a recording studio on the third floor. We were starting to get a bunch of new gear and were eager to try it out on this EP. I remember we recorded guitars in the stairway and we even recorded a laughing track at the end of “Demon Face” in the bathroom. Some other fun recording that we did was on “Stalingrad’s Cross” where we used a banjo, a pedal steel guitar, and an E-Bow. A couple of our guitar player friends in Joplin played the guitar solos in “Stalingrad’s Cross”. They are in a band called Sardis. We sent the EP to about twenty-plus reviewer‘s. We did get one bad review, but it seemed to be just personal attacks and nothing that amounted to any constructive criticism. Everyone else really enjoyed that these two songs were more experimental.

Why did the one reviewer who gave “Demon Face and Stalingrad’s Cross” a bad review make it more of a personal attack than something constructive?
Our bass player Mike played in another project called Freakflag, and this reviewer had emailed him asking for free merchandise and music. Mike politely told him that he couldn’t afford to ship all of that overseas and sent him a link to order said merchandise. A couple of weeks later, we see the rough draft of this so called review. It was very odd, considering that we had previously done interviews with him, and he reviewed or previous two releases, which were favorable and well written. So we called him out on it and he reacted very harshly. We haven’t spoken with him since. Probably for the best.

Considering your experiences with this reviewer, would you say readers shouldn’t take every review they read at face value?
Yeah, it’s just an opinion of your music from one source, so no need to take it to heart. The problem with the particular reviewer you’re referencing is he was making personal attacks towards the band members, and that is not right. Reviews should be a one hand washes the other sort of thing. Even if the reviewer doesn’t enjoy the music, they should be able to at least realize if there is the quality, hard work, and a good presentation. Basically just constructive criticism. We’ve had some great reviews and a few that are on the fence, typically because they think we haven’t found our sound yet. Haha. That’s the beautiful thing about music is that it doesn’t have rules. As long as you put your best foot forward as a band or artist, then it’s a good thing.

As for the reviewers who appreciated your EP and didn’t trash it for the sake of trashing it, what aspects of it did most of them like?
They tended to like the experimentation of these two particular songs. They also liked that both songs were of the epic variety and took the listener on a journey. They all seemed to think that the music represented the subject matter of both songs very well. There were lots of references to doom and sludge mixed with punk and thrash as far as genres were mentioned. People seemed to also enjoy that each song had movements so to speak. Demon Face getting more aggressive as it goes on and finally ending with the face that the demon face causes Mordrake to kill himself. Stalingrad’s Cross has the marching to battle feel at first then the battle is fought in the guitar solo section and the aftermath is the melancholy ending. We are still very proud of these songs.

In what ways is the EP an improvement from Gravehuffer’s previous releases?
It’s definitely more experimental and the songs are more epic sounding. You can really hear the growth in our songwriting. The recording process was also much more enjoyable and that reflected in the music. These two songs could have ended up on NecroEclosion, as they were written around the same time. They just happened to be the songs most completed at the time.

How did you first hear about Edward Mordrake? How much research was done on him for “Demon Face” and what was the extent of the information you uncovered about him?
I seem to remember years ago, someone posting about Edward Mordrake on Facebook and thinking that would make a really cool subject for a Gravehuffer song. Our singer James spent hours reading about Mordrake online, in books, and watching YouTube videos. There is speculation that he even existed, but either way, it makes for interesting lyrical content. James was able to find out a lot about him and decided to write the song from the point of view of the parasitic twin combined with third person. It seemed more sinister that way. We learned that he was supposedly around in the late 1800’s and had nobility in his bloodline. The parasitic twin which Mordrake himself dubbed his ‘demon face’ apparently liked to whisper ‘things from hell’ into Edward’s ear at night. It would cry when he would laugh, and vice versa. He tried to get doctors to remove his other face, but no one would perform the surgery. Edward could not take any more of this, so at the age of 23 he committed suicide by drinking a bottle of poison.

What videos or books did James find about Edward Mordrake that offered the most information?
With James no longer being in the band, that’s a difficult question to answer. I do remember him mentioning American Horror Story, and most likely Wikipedia. We left James alone for the most part when it came to writing his lyrics.

How much more sinister was “Demon Face” from the parasite’s point of view than it would have been from Mordrake’s point of view?
It just seemed a lot more disturbing to write it from the point of view of a parasite that doesn’t belong. It ties in to fear of the unknown and the alternative, fear of death. Those are the two of the biggest fears of mankind. Tapping into that just made more sense. It does switch to Mordrake’s point of view in the second chorus with him basically succumbing to the demon face and committing suicide by drinking the poison. The song then gets frantic and that is when Mordrake is feeling the effects of the poison he just drank. The ending was fun to do with us recording laughing and crying tracks. We did eight different voices, four of us all together doing one track of laughing then the other track of crying.

Having read James’ lyrics while recording the EP, how would you describe the way they tell Mordrake’s story?
I think they paint quite a picture of pain and suffering. It’s very tragic and scary at the same time. We were quite impressed with the lyrics that James wrote for sure! He’s really good at writing to the music as well. They reflected the intensity. He even recorded his vocals with the building intensity that was reflected in the lyrics. One of James’ finer moments!

At what point after the recording of “Demon Face and Stalingrad’s Cross” did James part company with the band? What led to him leaving after he contributed the lyrics?
James left when we were recording the drum tracks for the upcoming album “NecroEclosion”. There were signs that maybe he was starting to lose interest in general, but there were also signs that he was taking his craft more seriously, such as doing vocal warm ups before shows. It was quite a shock to be honest when he told us. He was saying that he thought maybe he was holding us back. That remains to be seen, but we told him otherwise. He still decided to leave after we told reassured him that wasn’t the case. It was cool indeed for him to give his blessing to use the lyrics he already wrote. He wrote about a third of the lyrics, with Travis, Jay, myself writing the rest. The one exception is the song “Causes”, which was a poem written by a deceased friend of ours, Ryan Smith. We did that as a tribute to him.

What about the lyrics to “Causes” made you want to include it on the new full length? Who in the band will be tasked with writing the lyrics from here on?
It just seemed to fit the mood of the music. It’s basically about the ‘causes’ that can drive a person to have suicidal thoughts. The song starts slow and the start of the poem is more introspective. Then the intensity really picks up musically and it tied in perfectly with how the lyrics change to that same feel. We didn’t have to alter or cut any of the poem. It fit the song perfect. It was kind of spooky how well the poem and music worked together. As far as the lyric writing goes, we really haven’t discussed it, but we seemed to enjoy the collaborative effort from “NecroEclosion” so I think that may be the way things continue to go. It seems to go with our disparate musical tastes and styles.

Is the band seeking another vocalist since James left? Are you looking for a singer whose style is similar to his or something a little different?
We do have a new permanent singer, and his name is Travis McKenzie. He tried out in March and we decided he was the best fit out of the others who showed interest. It’s interesting in that Travis and James are best friends, so we’ve all known each other for many years. It was a no brainier honestly. We were looking for someone who could sing in the gruff style James had, but add their flavor to it. The cool thing with Travis is that he has a few other vocal stylings that he does that work very well with what we do. One is a more 80’s hardcore punk style, and the other has an unhinged almost grindcore vocal sound. It’s really cool! It gives us that much more room to work with musically as well, especially since Travis plays some keyboards, and a bit of guitar as well.

Some people think that underground metal in general has reached its limit of experimentation. Especially with the increasing amount of bands around the world. Do you see this similarly or is there still unexplored turf for bands to tap into?
Personally I think there are no limits to music. There are always new ways to play an instrument, new instruments being invented, and new ways of using the human voice. It will never be an ‘it’s all been done before’ situation. As long as people have this mindset, we will be fine. If you just try and emulate everyone before you, it will get stale. There tends to be a reinvention of sorts when new decades begin. I’m not sure why this is, but that is the pattern that seems to be happening. Someone will get sick of hearing the same old shit and come up with something new. It has always happened that way.

Grindcore, death metal and black metal all exploded onto underground music at the start of the 90s and made such an impact that they lasted to this day. How much would you credit those genres for shaping music altogether?
I would say they are all really important to advancing the extreme music movement. It needed to happen with how violent things in the world were getting and no way to properly express how you feel about it. There seemed to be this pent up anger and aggression that music was not quite reflecting properly until those styles surfaced. I know for myself they really touched a nerve, and I think I speak for the rest of the band as well. It was mind blowing hearing that stuff for the first time! I still listen to that stuff on a regular basis and it is still a massive influence on my playing and writing.

What bands are you listening to lately that are doing something different with their music, or at least making an effort to? What are the reasons you would recommend these bands?
There are so many, but I will list a few that I have been listening to lately: Moths, The Reticent, Uncle Woe, Fog Light, Kosm, Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf, Coming Home The Band, Sapata, Good Against The Living, Voivod, and the list goes on. They are not afraid to play what they like. You can hear the sincerity and conviction in their music and that is my favorite kind of art. They are also very unique to themselves. I am a big fan of distinct sounding music.

From what you’ve seen, do bands last longer when they take time to grow on their own terms, rather than force themselves to please a wider public? How much does the former option help a band’s longevity?
Yeah I believe so. Trends are only cool for the short term, hence the meaning of the word ‘trend’. It’s great to be inspired by a certain type of music, but it usually fades into obscurity after that type of music runs its course. All of the older classic bands were typically given that time to grow on their own terms and that is the reason they are regarded as ‘classics’. Again this goes back to the previous answer I gave about bands being sincere and having conviction in what they do, on their own terms. We just see ourselves as players of extreme music, not just metal, not just punk, not just hardcore, or whatever labels get thrown around. You don’t paint yourself in a corner if you are allowed to develop naturally.

How much do your listeners perceive your efforts to stand out from other local bands? Has the band received feedback from fans on this?
We have always felt like the odd man out every time we play a show or release an album. Our fans definitely let us know that too. We always here people tell us that ‘you guys just sound like Gravehuffer’. It’s like we are our own genre. I don’t mean that in any arrogant way either. Sometimes it can be frustrating for people too because we are so varied that we’re not always considered ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’, so no one knows what bands or shows to put us on. We always tell people that we have enough songs to tailor the set to a particular sound, style, or feel. We’ve played with punk bands, hardcore bands, metal bands, doom bands, black metal, death metal, grind, you name it. It’s something that we kind of pride ourselves on but also understand that we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea so to speak.

Does Gravehuffer tailor their set according to the bill you’re on and/or the bands you’re sharing the stage with?
Sometimes we do if we have time to rehearse songs to tailor the set. Other times we just have to stick with the set that we’re playing at the time. When we write set lists we try to mix it up. Usually every other song will have various tempos and that really helps with keeping the flow and not sounding the same every song. For instance we’ll have something that’s more midtempo followed by a really fast song and then a slower doom style song. That’s the way bands did it when we were growing up watching live shows.

Do your supporters who listen to different genres have favorite Gravehuffer songs in common? Which of your songs stay on your set list most often?
Yeah it seems that there are fan favorites so to speak. “Shut up and Skate” is a song that lots of people like, another one is “Destroyer of Worlds”. The song “Gravehuffer” is a song that is in the set a lot, “Chains Around You” is another, “Demon Face”, “Prince with a Thousand Enemies”, and “Circle of Blood”.

How much of “NecroEclosion” has been completed this far? Is this album intended to be self-produced while it’s being made and self-promoted upon its release? On what platforms will you be advertising it once it’s out?
We’re actually done with the record. It was turned into the label the first of July. We did self-produce it. And as far as the promotion we are using Dewar PR. As far as the platforms it will be on all digital outlets, vinyl, CD, and cassette. The major platforms would be iTunes, Amazon music, Deezer, Napster, YouTube music, and we highly suggest Bandcamp. Our Bandcamp page also has all of our merchandise such as shirts, past vinyl and CD releases, Posters, guitar picks, patches, stickers, and more.

Going by what we discussed above, how do you expect Gravehuffer to progress on releases you’ll be working on in the future? And how do you expect new fans to resonate with the direction you’ll be taking?
It’s still early to tell, but we’ve talked about writing songs that are slower in tempo. I’m sure there will still be fast songs, and our need to experiment will probably be more intense. I have already started writing for the next record, and so far it has a dissonant vibe to it. I also plan on using seven and eight string guitars. It will be interesting to see what Travis comes up with after being in the band longer. This will also be our second album coming up with Jay, our drummer. He’s already writing new ideas as well. As far as fan expectation it seems that our fans like it when we stretch the boundaries a little bit. I feel like we’ve always done that so that has allowed us to stretch out and do different things. We pride ourselves on not having a specific genre. It seems our fans are willing to take the ride with us.

Are there still listeners in your local area who would be willing to travel with you, so to speak?
Yeah I think so. We have a decent following here in Joplin and the surrounding area, enough that people do get excited when we release new material. The thing with the feedback we get locally, is that a lot of them are in bands or play music as well, so they totally understand where we’re coming from on a musical level. We’ve even had people say that we’re not necessarily ‘their thing’ but they still appreciate the work and talent that goes into it. There are a couple of handfuls of local bands that we’re really tight with that we respect their opinion. We’ve even had a couple of them play on our albums. The band Sardis has two guitar players, and they each did a solo on the song ‘Stalingrad’s Cross’. It turned out amazing! It’s important to have that sense of brotherhood in the local scene I think. 

How important is brotherhood and camaraderie, the lack of competition and infighting, to your local scene and underground scenes in the US in general? I heard a lot about the back stabbing that went on in the Long Island scene in the 1990s; was there any you heard about anywhere? How does this affect underground music in your view?
Lots of good points brought up in this question! Brotherhood and camaraderie are super important! The scene can only thrive and prosper with it. The amount of networking we’ve done with other bands in all the areas has been fantastic! We try to live by the adage of ‘one hand washes the other’. I’ll never understand the competition aspect that a few bands adopt. It really can ruin a music scene. That’s probably why I’ve never been into any kind of ‘Battle of the Bands’ competitions. It seems to bring out the worst in people and causes lots of unnecessary drama. We try to avoid all that as much as possible. At the same time, if there is someone trying to have that negative competitive attitude, we will call them out on their bullshit. We’ve unfortunately had to weed out some of the negative attitudes and shout it from the rooftops so to speak. There’s no room for the egos and negativity in the music scene. 

Where will Gravehuffer fit into the grand scheme of underground music, as far as self-promoting on streaming sites and social media and being interviewed on print and net zines?
I feel like we’re still going to remain underground, but will also use any media we can to help spread the word. we enjoy networking with other bands, DJs, as much social media as possible, as well as print zines and Internet zines. As far as we’re concerned the more the better. Using both the old-school and new school approaches really seems to work the best. You can reach a younger and older audience that way and have more exposure and possibly wider appeal. This new album campaign will be the first time that we’ve ever used a PR company, and so far it seems to be working very good. I’m sure will use PR companies for future releases as well.

What PR company are you working with and how long did it take Gravehuffer to settle on them?
We’re using Curtis Dewar with Dewar PR. He’s been fantastic to work with! Our label Black Doomba Records assigned them to us basically. When we turned in the new album in July to the label was when we first started working together. This will be our first time using professional PR and not strictly self-promotion. So far they have gotten us into quite a few big name publications, one being Metal Injection, who will premier our new lyric video for the new single ‘Ghost Dance’. Thanks to Dewar PR, reviews are already starting to pop up and they have been overwhelmingly positive. They also wrote our press release, and it’s written to sound like a review of the new album, so it’s great!

How much do you expect a PR company will help to expand your listenership in the days to come?
So far they have been really good. Our lyric video premiering on Metal Injection is quite cool, and we have the Dewar PR company to thank for that! It seems that we are definitely getting more attention on our social media pages, more requests for interviews, more radio stations wanting our music, and more websites promoting our music. Again it’s that whole positive attitude, networking, and supporting who supports you. That’s one of the most important things in my book. It really goes a long way. People already have moments of feeling insignificant, so why add to that? The arts should make people have strong feelings, because that’s what should be put into it. We try our best to interact with everyone, and share what is shared for us. Pat each other on the back so to speak. The future looks exciting!


-Dave Wolff

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Film Review: Blue Monkey aka Insect (Dark Force Entertainment/Code Red, 1987) by Gene Olivarri

Blue Monkey aka Insect
Year of release: 1987
Movie label: Dark Force Entertainment/Code Red
Director: William Fruet
Film length: Approx. 96 minutes
Cast:
Steve Railsback - Detective Jim Bishop: A police officer who brings his partner to the hospital with a gunshot wound but quickly finds himself helping Dr. Carson hunt down the creature.
Gwynyth Walsh - Dr. Rachel Carson: An emergency room doctor who finds herself hunting down the film's creature along with Detective Bishop.
Susan Anspach - Dr. Judith Glass: The other doctor on call at the time of the outbreak, Dr. Glass rushes to stop the spreading infection started by the creature.
Don Lake - Dr. Elliot Jacobs: An entomologist summoned to the hospital in order to analyze the insect-like creature before its growth.
Sandy Webster - Fred Adams: An aging handyman who becomes "patient zero" for both the infection and the creature of the film.
Helen Hughes - Marwella Harbison: An elderly woman who unwittingly starts the infection after ordering a new species of plant for her greenhouse.
John Vernon - Roger Levering: Greedy, corporate Hospital Director
Greetings from the tomb! My ghoulish cryptians and HAPPY OCTOBER! To all and a happy frightful Halloween to everyone. Tonight we feast on Dark Force Entertainment/Code Red release from the very depths of the VHS realm Blue Monkey (Insect) we received this at the tomb with such happiness after the mailman wandered lost and was ripped apart we took the package and enjoyed! This offering. Dark Force Entertainment did a remarkable sensational job with a BRAND NEW HD TRANSFER from the original UNCUT 35mm negatives with extensive color corrections which Dark Force Entertainment is growing a fast reputation for bringing the color out of these films very much back to life.
The film starts Fred Adams a local handy helping out in Marwella Harbison greenhouse Fred sees an odd looking plant and thinks it's dead or something is wrong with it he then touches it and realizes the plant has no thorns once he walks out he becomes very sick and that my ghouls making Fred (Patient Zero) in the movie. Marwella explains it’s a Volcanic plant from a new volcanic formed island off the coast Micronesia then Fred is rushed to the hospital and this white turd looking creature just pops out of his mouth spewing all this stuff after finally Dr. Rachel has it kept and examined then kids that live in the hospital who have cancer and other illnesses drop liquid on this parasite and the growth is a giant insect killing everyone in the facility one by one and keep them in these crazy looking cocoons.
This film is done in a 50's style type giant insect movie but mixed with modern and more gory and over the top FX the suspense's is very elevated in this film with the search of the insect as it begins to grow as Detective Jim Bishop and the hospital staff look for it and Dr. Elliot Jacobs an entomologist helps with his knowledge of insect and really being amazed and shock with the growth of the insect and how it makes babies the insect reveals it's a hermaphrodite and starts drop eggs everywhere.
All and all I give this movie 7 out of 10 zombie heads it is visually and at grabbing your attention awesomely amazing leaving you hooked through the entire film plus Thank You!!!!!!! so much Dark Force Entertainment for making a glow in the dark insect slipcover for this amazing Blu-ray which has beautiful and breath taking artwork and glow in the dark cover that just pops out. I can honestly say I didn't expect for this movie to be picked out of the VHS realm Dark Force Entertainment/Code Red have really been surprising all horror fans around with their releases and , Hey Dark Force Entertainment/Code Red do it Right!
Take a chance purchase this movie Directly from Dark Force Entertainment for their DARKFORCE SUPER STORE at Dark Force Entertainment. –Gene Olivarri

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

EP Review: Mors Omnibus "The Final Prosthetic Program" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Project: Mors Omnibus
Location: New York
Country: USA
Genre: Ambient, experimental
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: November 4, 2019
This solo project hasn’t appeared here since a sampler for the 2018 full length “Circus Verses” was reviewed in December 2017. To my knowledge I didn’t get a chance to stream the full length since I lost touch with Danny Ryan, writer and composer of all of Mors Omnibus’ material (six releases since 2012). Not only that but I had to refresh my memory of this project and give the sampler another listen, along with the 2015 full length “Nocturnal Carnival” also reviewed here, before giving a careful listen to “The Final Prosthetic Program”. It seems a popular consensus that Mors Omnibus is blurring every line between acceptable approaches to composing music and approaches to composing music that should not be tried since they’re just plain too disturbing. It’s another consensus that Ryan’s compositions for this project are well suited to independent horror or psychological thriller movies. As someone who was a fan of “The Blair Witch Project” before the media hype following its premiere and the release of the promising but convoluted sequel “Book of Shadows” I would think Mors Omnibus would be a most fitting soundtrack. Another example of what I am talking about is an ambient project I was doing from the mid 90s to the mid 2000s called Agamemnon. I released one CD over this time period and one reviewer wrote that the songs traveled to a place that was no longer human. Listening to Mors Omnibus gives me the same intuition of going somewhere that is gruesome, revolting and nonhuman. Unlike Agamemnon which was simplistic and minimal, Ryan makes use of a variety of different instruments to construct this distant place where most would fear to tread or even consider in his worst nightmares. Being that this is a four song EP with shorter songs you invariably spend less time in this place, something for which you might be grateful depending on how much fortitude you have to experience the sonic darkness Ryan summons forth on his recordings. Of course this doesn’t lessen the impact of “The Final Prosthetic Program”. This EP includes quasi futuristic cyber keyboards and effects that compound the utter absence of light and sanity, making it seem you’re traveling through realms of horrific darkness and nightmare while under the influence of acid or ecstasy. There are even jump scares in these songs that shove you farther still into these realms. If you thought Burzum or Abruptum were capable of writing disturbing ambient songs, you are heartily advised to listen to this or any of Mors Omnibus’ previous outings on Bandcamp. –Dave Wolff 

Track list:
1. Unclear Fears
2. Radiation Vapor
3. Hammer Head
4. Schizotypal Anesthetic

Monday, October 12, 2020

Interview with Jamie Cooper and Luke Cooper of Lookin Up by Devin Joseph Meaney


Interview with Jamie Cooper and Luke Cooper of Lookin Up

Cheers Jamie and Luke. Please take a few moments to describe yourselves, your music, and your band!
Thanks for hitting us up mate. We started as a straight Hardcore Punk band back in 2014 and up until 2018 we only ever played shows in the NZ hardcore scene. After a tour with Turnstile at the start of 2018, we felt that we had achieved everything we set out to achieve in New Zealand, so our singer and drummer decided they wanted to do other things with their lives. Jamie (Bass) and I (Guitar) wanted to continue on as Lookin Up but because we had a different vocal style, we couldn't really pull off the straight hardcore sound anymore. This led to more fruity ways of writing riffs and using effects that we couldn't do before, so our sound started to morph into what it has become now. Instead of just drawing from some of our favourite hardcore bands like TUI and Down To Nothing we started to tap into inspiration from Kings Of Leon and Muse to Biffy Clyro and Rage. We didn't realise how restricted we felt by writing purely for the Hardcore Punk scene, so once we started getting more creative with our songwriting, we realised we could be more creative in every aspect of the band. We then decided to record our second album in Norway, having never left the country before, and then subsequently take on self-booking a 30+ show tour of Europe as our first ever shows outside NZ. I think that tells you a lot about what we are like as a band and as people ha-ha.

What is it like in your neck of the woods as a punk band? I mean... is it a huge scene? Or a smaller gathering?
Being a Hardcore/Punk band in New Zealand is extremely difficult. When we first started going to shows in 2008 the local scene still managed to pull crowds of 200+ kids to every show and most of the bands playing would have all their costs covered and made a bit of cash from merch. When we first started playing in bands around 2012 we noticed a huge change in turnouts and the number of bands around and it’s got worse each year since then. Before COVID 19 lockdowns most local shows would pull about 20 payers at the door and the biggest bands in the scene would be stoked with 100 people through the door. Since the lockdowns have ended there has been a massive resurgence in turnouts to pretty much all genres of shows so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next year. 

How many releases have you guys put out so far?
We put our first LP 'Reborn' out in 2014 and toured that for four years then at the end of 2018 we released our second LP 'Gold' with the new lineup and we are just about to release our new single 'Break' later this month. (October 2020)

What are some huge inspirations for your music that you think your fans should be able to hear in your sound? Similar question... but what inspirations are there behind your music that you think your fan basis might miss?
For 'Reborn' our influences are all pretty obvious I think, we are huge fans of Terror, Trapped Under Ice and Down To Nothing but for 'Gold' and 'Break' we took those core influences and then sprinkled a bit of Muse and Biffy Clyro in there. I think people will hear some Rage Against The Machine and Nirvana influences but to be honest, those bands were a bit before our time and we don't really listen to them. All of our favourite bands are heavily influenced by them though so I'm not surprised when we get those comments. I think people would be surprised that we are heavily inspired by Kings Of Leon as well so if you mix in our hardcore roots and add a bit of Muse, Biffy and Kings of Leon then you get something like 'Gold' and 'Break' ha-ha.

How did you guys end up coming up with the name for your band?
Our original singer came up with the name but at the time NZ hardcore was extremely dark and we felt like it was time to bring in a bit of PMA.

When you found yourselves becoming experimental with your sound... did you get any backlash when you guys pushed away from the classical hardcore vibes?
Of course ha-ha, to be fair though, we got known in the local scene for a particular type of energy and everybody knew exactly what to expect when we played a show. After we returned with pretty much a brand new band, we had a period of transition between fans of the old stuff and fans of the new stuff. 

As an Atlantic Canadian (Cape Breton) the underground scene here is also on the smaller side. But sometimes some of those ''small'' shows can be the ones with the highest energy. Did you guys have any of these shows?
Yeah man, some of the greatest experiences in our whole lives have been at small hardcore shows. There are a couple that stick out... we played a show in Hamilton, NZ at about 8pm one night then drove an hour and a half up to Auckland to play another set at around 1am and it was probably the best reaction our band had ever gotten up until that point. Another favourite was when we played a headline show in Hamilton to about 30 people but for the last few songs of our set, the entire crowd came on stage and sung whatever lyrics they felt like into the different mics on stage. We just looped a riff for 6 mins and there were about three different songs being played at the same time and it was absolutely mental. Once we started touring Europe and Asia, it seems like every show we played had something ridiculous happen.

Covid-19 is a terrible thing. But when it comes to all things creative... do you find yourselves MORE or LESS productive?
We actually did really well during the COVID lockdowns. We didn't have any touring plans for the start of 2020 and we were in the process of writing a new album so we doubled down on that. We also had time to think about what we wanted to do going forward as a band and how to avoid getting ruined when something like this happened again. So we ended up building a commercial studio, we started a record label and learnt a lot about music marketing, which has had a massive impact on our strategies going forward.

Tell me one thing each that you guys absolutely despise within the music industry!
To be honest, there isn't really anything that we despise about the industry in general. Everybody that wants to pursue music as a career is dealing with some sort of emotional/ psychological trauma or at the very least, a glitch in our brains that has convinced us that this is a reasonable thing to want to do with our lives. So unfortunately, that can lead to artists expecting to receive more balance and fulfilment from the industry than is possible from any job. Also, being out on tour is so alien to what most people do with their day to day lives that when you add all of these factors together without being aware that it's the sole responsibility of each artist to look after their own mental and physical health, then the music industry on the whole starts to look pretty isolating and bleak. There are 100% some snakes in the grass but we think that if you have realistic expectations and think about your art critically, rather than emotionally, then the music industry is an incredible place to work.

If a blind gorilla and a three legged grizzly bear both got high on liquid adrenaline and got to the point where neither were seeing eye to eye... who do you think would win a physical bout of slap-boxing? And why?
The three legged Grizzly all day dawg. You can't hit what you can't see!

Final comments? *Feel free to drop all links and promo here*
Thanks again for the chat man. Hit up www.lookinup.lu to stay in the loop. We have some absolute bangers coming out in the next few months.

Cheers! Keep at it, my friends!

-Devin Joseph Meaney

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Full Length Review: The Beatersband "Vol Due" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: The Beatersband
Location: Rosignano Solvay
Country: Italy
Genre: Rock and roll, punk rock
Full Length: Vol Due
Format: CD, digital
Label: Independent
Release date: September 7, 2020
“Vol Due” is the new release by The Beatersband, a “vintage punk rock and roll” band dedicated to modernizing classic pop and rock and roll from the fifties and sixties. They describe this process as giving pop and rock new life while retaining their original soul. The band has been promoting “Vol Due” on Facebook, Youtube and Bandcamp since its release last September. My initial impressions of this album were that the musicianship was too subdued and restrained. After a couple more listens I started to perceive something a little more creepy and sinister. I began to comprehend the noirish feeling of Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio program. The sort of dangerous pirate radio vibe that’s practically nonexistent on college radio. Rock and roll’s impact then happened because its fusion of blues, jazz and country with increased volume was something that had never before been done. This being said, it’s almost a no-brainer that it influenced on the birth of punk when early punk bands looked to the fifties to strip rock music back to its basics. From their consistent back beat, guitar bite and femme fatale vocal overtones I gather The Beatersband has a firm grasp on the vibe I’m referring to. “Vol Due” is not exactly a pop punk album but leans closer to Blondie, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello and The Ramones. Basically it’s an album with commercial potential that doesn’t relinquish its musical foundations. The Misfits made a similar statement in 2003 when they covered rock and roll classics on their “Project 1950” EP, only The Beatersband’s approach seems to be a little more lighthearted in comparison. As for whether or not you’ll get something out of listening to this album, it really depends on what kind of a punk fan you are and whether or not you’re a fan of fifties rock. I won’t preach about being open minded but if you’re receptive to the similarities between both genres you might like this. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Donatella Guida: Vocals, guitars
Leonardo Serrini: Bass
Mario Manetti: Drums

Track list:
1. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
2. Calendar Girl
3. Don't Worry Baby
4. Datemi Un Martello
5. Pugni Chiusi
6. Quelli Della Mia Età
7. Hang On Sloopy (Remastered Version)
8. Maybe (Remastered Version)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Demo: The Nosebleed Section "7 Traxxx" (Gorecyst Records, Morgue Rot, Spettro Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: The Nosebleed Section
Country: USA, Canada
Genre: Goregrind
Demo: 7 Traxxx
Format: Cassette, CD, digital
Label: Gorecyst Records (cassette), Morgue Rot (cassette), Morgue Rot (CD), Spettro Records (digital)
Release date: TBA
While listening to The Nosebleed Section I took time to watch a video from an independent Youtube channel, Killbot & GorGor Attack. The video is called “Not All Goregrind Sounds Like Carcass’ and discusses the difference between goregrind bands seeking to recreate Carcass’ early albums and goregrind bands recording with organs and synthesizers, recording with clearer production, writing songs with groove and technicality. It also discusses differences between grindcore, goregrind, pornogore, deathgrind and powerviolence. Coming from a fan of various subgenres who can make distinctions between them, the video suggests said subgenres can evolve as much as any other can. It was something I needed to hear and I would recommend this channel to anyone since there is much more subject matter to choose from. With the help of extreme music supporters including Devin Joseph Meaney, I’ve been hearing of bands who are helping goregrind evolve by releasing albums and EPs with much shorter durations. Meaney’s project The Nosebleed Section is one of them. Their debut “Goregrind Demo 2018” was about six minutes in length and their new demo “7 Traxxx”, released a couple of weeks ago, is less than four. If you don’t normally listen to goregrind or the other genres I mentioned, this release will pass you by before you know what’s happening. If you’re a longtime listener you’ll appreciate how The Nosebleed Section are reaching for their own identity as a goregrind band. As both releases show they don’t typically write about butchery, carnage and slaughter; instead their songs seem to be about internal anguish and manic psychosis, expressing it through one metaphor or another. I gather as much since the Youtube link to this stream didn’t include the lyrics. Still, Meaney and guest vocalist Antichrist enunciate more clearly than most grind vocalists, even with the effects added. While the drums are provided by programming from Jeremy K, this and his guitars (as tight as they are distorted) give each track solid structure. It was generally a good idea to make this release so short as it doesn’t become too tedious or overstay its welcome. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Devin J Meaney: Vocals
Antichrist: Guest vocals
Jeremy K: Guitars, drum programming