Maryland Deathfest 2013 begins tomorrow. I haven’t been to a music festival of any kind since Lollapalooza… 1996. Ok, that’s not entirely true, I did go to local hair band fest a few years back, but I got in for free and was only there for an hour to see Ace Frehley play and grab a tenderloin, so I don’t think that one really counts. Anyway, every year when MDF rolls around, there’s a part of me that wishes like hell that I was going. Take this year’s installment for instance; I’d kill to see the likes of Integrity, Manilla Road, Revenge, Aosoth and Bolt Thrower, what metalhead in their right mind wouldn’t?
I’ll be thirty-four this year; just short of halfway to forty. But I’ve never felt like I was getting older as a metalhead until recently. It occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was attempting to listen to a new album by a band that shall remain nameless and is being released by a well respected label; for the first time, I felt like the crotchety old fart who didn’t understand what the hell the young whippersnappers were doing. I simply could not wrap my head around what the appeal of this album was supposed to be or what the intent was. I shut it off after one track on my first attempt, after three tracks on my second attempt. And that’s when it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
The first time I heard/saw Slayer was on Headbanger’s Ball. It was either the video for the atmospheric yet pummeling “Seasons in the Abyss” or the flat-out face-fucking bulldozer that is “War Ensemble.” I was just starting to get into heavy metal in those days, and Slayer blew me away with their intensity and darkness; they seemed way more evil than Megadeth or Metallica, which I was already quite familiar with, and in those days, especially being confined to Catholic school for seven hours a day, the more evil, the better. It was love at first sight. From there, I slowly started buying up Slayer’s back catalog with my meager allowance money, reveling in the Satanic-sounding, speed-demonomania that was their early career.
Being a one-man project released on cassette, you’d probably be expecting DeathCult’s The Test of Time to be some kind of depressive/suicidal/ambient black metal clusterfuck. Fortunately you couldn’t be more wrong, because this Chicago-based maniac’s stock-in-trade is ripping, heavily blackened thrash that as expected pays its grim respects to the unholy trinity (Venom/Bathory/Celtic Frost), while at the same time putting its own nasty-ass stamp on one of metal’s gnarliest subgenres.
Hells Headbangers is one of those labels that cranks out the hits faster than I can write about them. And while I’m usually opposed to these types of roundup style reviews, my recent Oodles of Brutals series (HERE and HERE) has taught me that it can actually be pretty fun to write them and other people seem to dig it, which is always a nice perk. Not only that, but let’s be honest, not every metal album, no matter how great it is, warrants a full-on 400 to 700 word review. So without further ado, I present my thoughts on a ton of recent releases from the goddamn mighty HHR. If you’re not familiar with this ridiculously awesome and quality consistent label, consider this a way to get your feet wet. If you’re a longtime fan, you’ve probably snapped all of these up already, so just consider this “bonus material.” Onward and downward…
Another poison arrow in the heart of print is now unleashed…
Backlit / 1
Now available at http://backlitzine.com/
Cover Art by Christian Edler
Articles, Columns & Interviews:
Frayed Threads of Vanity / Kyle Harcott
Worship Black Twilight / Jordan Campbell
Interview With Wreck & Reference / Josh Haun
Interview With Voivoid / Josh Haun
Midnight Ride of the Graveyard Mule / Jordan Campbell
Doomsday Device #2 / Josh Haun
Raping Angels in America #2 / Josh Haun
Libations in the Labyrinth Vol. 2 / Danhammer Obstkrieg
Beneath The Grime #1 / Jon Rosenthal
Progressive Regression / Jordan Campbell
Art & Fiction:
Perfume Virus / Jordan Krall
Interview with Christian Edler / Brandon Duncan & Philip Tyson
For over three decades now, Canadian legends Voivod have been making a name for themselves as one of the most forward-thinking metal bands to ever pick up instruments. Their sci-fi-damaged punk-thrash has never been copied (though some have tried); they are one of those bands that is truly unique in every sense of the word, thanks to the singular musical alchemy created when its individual members come together. That alchemy seemingly came to a tragic end in 2005 when founding guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour passed from this plane of existence due to a bout with thyroid cancer. The band went on to release two albums welded together using riffs D’Amour had recorded prior to his untimely death (2006′s Katorz and 2009′s Infini), but it appeared for all intents and purposes that the warriors of ice were no more in the wake of the loss of their beloved guitarist.
2012 has been more stressful than a motherfucker; probably one of the most all-around stressful years of my life. Buying a house + assorted family and work-related issues that I wouldn’t even dream of getting into here managed to turn the year into a goddamn pressure-cooker. I’m pretty sure the only things that kept me alive were my wife’s unwavering love (and limitless patience) and an avalanche of incredible music. In 2011 I was feeling pretty jaded and dissatisfied with the state of heavy metal, this year I found myself feeling better about things than I have in years. That isn’t to say there weren’t great albums released in 2011, there were, but in 2012 I felt like there was so much greatness that I couldn’t possibly keep up with it all.
My problem with the bulk of today’s thrash is that it just isn’t fucking ugly enough. Don’t get me wrong, crystal clear production and ultra-slick musicianship have their place, but I like my thrash with a shitload of grit and grime, and 99.9% of the time I don’t get it when I listen to a modern band. Enter Dallas, TX thrash-mongers Steel Bearing Hand. You might think their moniker is a dead giveaway, but this trio brings much more to the table than mere Tom G. Warrior worship.
First thing’s first; yes, Skeletonwitch did headline this show. However, I opted not to cover them in this review for a variety of reasons. First and foremost because I’ve been following the band since 2007′s Beyond the Permafrost and wanted to enjoy them as a fan rather than a “journalist;” snapping photos, taking notes and trying to remember setlists often feels a lot like “work,” and no matter how enjoyable that work may be, it isn’t the same as just watching and enjoying a band for no other reason than pure entertainment. Secondly, does Skeletonwitch really need another live review, considering the heights they’ve achieved within the metal underground in terms of popularity (especially when their current tour is almost over with)? I’m thinking the answer is “no,” so I decided it might be more rewarding from the “journalist” perspective to focus on Mutilation Rites and Havok, the young and hungry opening bands who might have a bit more use for the exposure.