Monthly Archives: April 2013

Pretty much the best 21 touring tips I have ever read

Hey, I am not in a band. But I have gone on road trips with spouses that hated me and toddlers that also hated me as well as being in the car. And I imagine that is pretty much the same as going on tour for a couple of weeks with your closest frenemies, ie, your bandmates. Here are the 21 most sage pieces of advice to prevent homicide or suicide while traveling as a band. Thanks goes to Thor Harris, the percussionist for the indie rock band Shearwater.

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Xeukatre transforms Sidebar into kvlt klvb

Xeukatre transforms Sidebar into kvlt klvb

Sunday night was black metal at The Sidebar. Xeukatre of Baltimore set an eerie mood with props, special lighting and a fog machine. The group is relatively new as a three piece. Go like them on Facebook or check out this video: http://youtu.be/90Rp0SHXCxU

Spikes and spandex at the M3 Rock Fest

Every year, I pick at least one festival I would not normally attend, go with an open mind and see what happens. This year that festival will be the M3 Rock Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion on May 3-4 in Columbia, Md.

What’s so special about M3? What’s the draw? For people who dig what’s called “hair metal”, the M3 lineup is a dream come true. Friday night is the kick-off party, or “Kix-off,” since Maryland heavy metal legends Kix will be performing that night, along with the super young up-and-coming locals Bad Seed Rising (more on them later this week) and sleaze balladeers Danger Danger. Friday’s headliner is the the aggressive L.A. hair band godfathers W.A.S.P.  Saturday starts early and features headliners Bret Michaels Band and Twisted Sister with support from Jackyl, Firehouse, Steel Panther, Kings X, Great White featuring Jack Russell, Loudness, JSRG (former members of Vixen), Love/Hate, Steelheart, Tuff, Trixter, Streetlight Circus, Korupt, and In the Pink.

774610_10151359604131077_160050828_oI know a little about some of these bands. I’ve seen Twister Sister a couple times live. I am very interested in seeing Japan’s heavy metal powerhouse Loudness and the prog rocker King’s X. I have something of an idea of what it will be like,  but for the most part, I will be a stranger in a strange land. It’s possible that the hair metal phase was just something that skipped me.

To gain insight on the genre, I decided to question some hardcore hair metal heads about their love for this style of heavy metal.  I picked fans from different age ranges and backgrounds. They include Lindsey “Turnbullet”, 24 of Silver Spring, an ex-Floridian and government worker bee; Hector Ub, a 30-something from Washington, D.C. who hosts the Latin American metal radio show “Imperdonables Del Rock;” and a married couple, Tess Spradlin-Collins, 41 of Baltimore, who works in health care and is a part-time DJ and her husband Chuck Collins, 39, a bartender.  Most interviewees will be attending at least one if not both days of the event. Lindsey and Hector are newbies, but Tess has gone every year since M3 started five years ago.  Chuck has attend all but the first year.

What band(s) are you most excited to see at M3?

Lindsey: W.A.S.P.! If I stay for Saturday, then definitely Twisted Sister.

Hector: Well, all of them are really good but Kix, W.A.S.P., Firehouse, Steel Panther and Bret Michaels are my faves.

Tess: W.A.S.P, Twisted Sister, Tuff, Love/Hate, Steel Panther, Firehouse, Danger Danger, Great White and Loudness. Almost all of them!

Chuck: Twisted Sister, Loudness, Kix, W.A.S.P. and Steel Panther.

Lindsey "Turnbullet" with Frost. Yes, that Frost.

Lindsey “Turnbullet” with Frost. Yes, that Frost.

Of the lineup, which band did you listen to growing up, if any, and why?

Lindsey: W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister, my dad listened to heavy metal when I was a kid, so I did, too.

Hector: That specific time frame of my life was very special, growing up around the amazing sound of rock and roll and hair bands made a difference in my life. Firehouse is really special with songs like “When I Look into Your Eyes.” It reminds me of a girl I could never have had (she didn’t like long hair dudes,  hahaha!) and of course Kix with “don’t close your eyes” and Bret Michaels with “Every Rose has its Thorn” — that was one of my first songs that I learned to play on my guitar. And how could I  forget Twisted Sister with songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and ” I Wanna Rock,” songs that made me feel free and wild back then, a feeling I want to revive, and that’s why I’m not going to miss this huge festival.”

Tess: I was in junior high when I was first discovered “hair metal.” Twisted Sister was one of the first bands I heard, along with Quiet Riot.

Chuck: Twisted Sister along with Quiet Riot, and Motley Crue were definitely the gateway into metal for me. I guess it was around 1983-84. From there I discovered Ozzy, Judas Priest, Dio, etc. Then came the flood of thrash, punk, hardcore, death metal, doom, black metal and every other subgenre classification that have sort of defined most of my life for the last thirty years.

How would you characterize this kind of “metal’?

Lindsey: Total glam hair madness (and I make no apologies!), except King’s X.

Hector: For everybody else it is glam and heavy rock, but for me is a feeling with no other name than happiness!

Tess: It’s poppy, cheesy, fun, silly, good time music, some of it is really bad, but I still love it!

Chuck: Although it’s called “hair metal,” I think that’s a misnomer. It’s just rock n’ roll as far as I’m concerned.

Hector Ub

Hector Ub

What about this style of music appeals to you?

Lindsey: Big ridiculous aesthetics and “anthemic” songs. I love a good sing-a-long. I also love drag.

Hector: Metal is my favorite and you can include any sub-genres. I’m also into a bit of 90’s alt-rock and some reggae music (Yeah Bob Marley rocks), I’m open minded about music I guess from my musician background.

Tess: It is fun, happy music. Some of the band members were very pleasing to the eye. No one can write a ballad like a hair metal band.

Chuck: It’s fun, it’s goofy, and it reminds me of my youth.

What sort of sights do you expect to see in the crowd?

Lindsey: Oh, it’s going to be prime people watching. Lots of big hair, overly tanned people, tight jeans. People who never grew out of their 80s glam phase. Lots of people with kids. Alcohol consumption.

Hector: I never expect any violence at this kind of festival. It is always full of people wanting to have a good time, enjoying the bands and making friends. I have seen whole families, teenagers, and kids learning and having an awesome time with the music of these amazing bands.

Tess: Sadly, since this type of music has all but died, you will find a lot of people holding on to their youth. I would say the finest of the white trash would best describe what you will see at M3. The people watching will be amazing.

Chuck: I expect to see lots of winners. The people watching is half the fun of this event.

What does heavy metal music mean to you?

Lindsey: It’s everything from the music to the gear to the look to the attitude. Metal has been a big part of my life for a long time and yet, I can’t succinctly describe what it means to me. I guess that means I should shut up and not do the genre a disservice.

Hector: It means my life, for me is not a style, but it is a way to live. Some people ask me sometimes why the long hair, why the rock band t-shirts and jeans.  I just say it is who I am, it represents me, who I’m inside, a wild and free spirit. I couldn’t be another person. This is me being me since I can remember, and I love who I am, hell yeah!

Tess: I like a lot of different types of metal, there’s nothing too philosophical about it.

Chuck: Heavy Metal has pretty much helped to shape the person that I am today, as corny as that may sound. Most of my friendships were forged on common musical interests, my chosen profession stems from being a musician/fan of music, namely metal. My wife and I started talking to one another at a metal show. Lastly, it has afforded me the opportunity to own thousands of black t-shirts.

Chuck and Tess Collins

Chuck and Tess Collins

Is there anything else you want to share?

Lindsey:  I’m really looking forward to it! I love bands that really get into over-the-top live shows. It’s always more fun to watch that than a bunch of dudes who stand there and look bored while they shred totally insane arpeggios or whatever. You’re great, everyone knows, but I want to be entertained, damn it.

Hector: This festival is going to be magical. Even if you already have seen these bands and you know how they rock, come and have a good time and tune in my radio show IMPERDONABLES DEL ROCK www.facebook.com/imperdonablesdelrock, Tuesdays 9:30 pm on www.honduradio.com

Tess: You can share my love of hair metal with me on the second Saturday of every month upstairs at The Otto bar. I DJ “The Hair Ball,” a night of all hair, glam, and sleaze.

Get updates on M3 at their Facebook page here.

Do you recognize this drummer?

Hey, I am testing out posting via email. So I thought I would try a little game. Do you recognize this drummer?
Photo by Lucy_Fer. \m/

Maybe the video will give you another clue:

http://youtu.be/0I0o1VZ45ZM

Black metal gnome is krieg

Original hand-painted gnome by Acacia Levin.

Original hand-painted gnome by Acacia Levin.

I am getting older, older than I want to admit. I hate birthdays and don’t like to think about them much. Something always miserable happens to me around my birthday. But sometimes, someone does something so amazing that it makes the thought of your slow march into the grave just a little more tolerable.

My actual birthday isn’t for another two weeks, but apparently someone could not wait for me to start the celebration. This black metal gnome was hand-painted for me by my daughter, Acacia. All I can say is that she knows me all too well. Writing out the words to the Dethklok song, “Happy Dethday” was just the proverbial icing on the cake.

Thank you, daughter! XXXOOO ❤ ❤  ❤

Latin American metal: Who’s your favorite?

Lately I have had the chance to see several Latin American based metal bands. Some of these groups are from places like Mexico and Central America and some have a few members of Latin American descent. It seems that the more evil and more satanic these groups are, the more popular they are!

One show that I went to that featured quite a few acts like this was held in December. You can check out my review of that show here.

Tonight I will checking out a show at an El Salvadoran restaurant called Sergio’s Place in Wheaton, Md. I am pretty excited about seeing the group Infinitum Obscure, from Mexico. They are touring the US with Sorcery from Sweden. They remind me a little of Dissection, but with their own style. Great melodies. Great riffs.

Check out this track below from Infinitum Obscure. What Latin American groups do you listen to?

REVIEW: Radamanthys – Eternal Judgment takes you to hell, but you’ll enjoy it

Radamanthys, a technical death metal four-some form Towson, Md. have finally released an official recording. You can find it at the end of this blog post, downloadable for free.

I say finally, because I first encountered these guys nearly two years ago and just figured it was a matter of time before they would be opening for important headliners and putting out their first full-length.

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Radamanthys

Well, life is funny and sometimes life gets in the way. Either way, their debut effort Eternal Judgment is a beautiful beast of a thing. It’s just four songs and clocks in a just less than 15 highly satisfying minutes. Radamanthys is Alex Conti on vocals and guitar, Mario Pareja-Lecaros on lead guitar, Basil Chiasson on bass and Dan Sullivan on drums.

Eternal Judgment follows a theme of traveling down into the dark underworld of Hades. The listener is invited along a path from which there is no escape. But it is also about tight musicianship, expert execution and classic death metal melodies.

“March of the Dead” launches the demo with militaristic drumming and searing guitars that foreshadow what’s to come. It goes straight into the title track with its piercing guitar leads and the first strains of Alex’s vocals. And oh good gracias those guitar leads. The rhythm section is on point. You will have to check the stereo again and again to remind yourself that you are not listening to much more experienced musicians.

“Tartanus” pops opens with some heavy King-Crimson-esque chords. The group’s technical savvy really shines in the complexity of this song. The final track “Asphodel Meadows” is amazing, building tension to about its halfway point when Alex cries out “Never to get away!”  In some ways, I feel like this track could be the halfway point of a full length, where the other half tells the story of how our dearly departed possibly escapes his final destination…or maybe he doesn’t.

Anyway, the demo is a brilliant effort for a young band. Hopefully, the people that matter will take note. I sent the band some questions. Here’s what they had to say:

How did Radamanthys come into existence?

Mario: So, since we started playing guitar we wanted to start a band. We use to jam at my house, brainstorming and getting our chops up. Our first incarnation featured Alex and me on guitars, Mo on vocals, Nick on bass and Mikey on drums. We had some disagreements on the bands directions, which led to the departure of Nick and Mikey who later went on to form Myopic. Basil joined us soon after, and I contacted Ari to play with us for the time being. This worked for a while, but we ran into problems with Mo mostly due to the travel distance since he came from Virginia. We brought Alex Hura to fill in vocals for a short period of time but ultimately decided to handle vocal duties ourselves Ari decided to focus on his other band Encrypted Sun. That led to recruiting Dan and that’s where we are now.

Who was Radamanthys (the character)?

Mario: Radamanthys has a few pieces of lore; he was one of the more just kings of Crete and upon his death was appointed a judge of the dead by Hades. He serves in the underworld determining what kind of punishment a person will receive and sending them to the appropriate area of Hades

Who writes the songs and what are they about?

Alex: I wrote most of the music and lyrics. Songs were then presented to the other band members who had free reign to alter their parts. Basil heavily edited the bass parts, I only wrote the basic framework. Sections with solos and leads were left blank to be completed by their respective players. The exception is “Asphodel Meadows” where Basil wrote the bass lead in the intro first, and I wrote a song around that.

The whole demo is a concept EP about descending into Hades to discover your fate in the afterlife. “March of the Dead” is supposed to be a literal march of the dead as deceased souls enter Hades and await their judgment. “Eternal Judgment” is about arriving at Hades and going through the process of being eternally judged. The songs refers to actual places and processes in Hades from Greek mythology such as crossing the river Styx lead by Charon on the ferry to the plains of judgment. It discusses the various realms of the underworld such as Tartarus (hell) and Asphodel (purgatory.) The chorus sums up the demo as we describe Radamanthys’ role and allude to everyone’s eventual eternal judgment. The next two songs are basic descriptions of the places mentioned in eternal judgment as you descend through Hades.

Here is the map I used for reference.

Where did the idea for this come from originally though, I mean for you to make this journey into songs?

Alex: Well, I wrote “Eternal Judgment” first and I realized there were all these cool places that we could elaborate on that were only briefly mentioned in the song. So I had the idea of taking a couple of these places and using them for other song. The melodies may have been already in the process, but I matched them on purpose. “Tartarus” has a very hellish feel, while the tapping riff in “Asphodel” has a very stagnant never-ending feel along with the creepy middle section with solos. That’s because, in a way, Asphodel is the worst of all, not painful but not pleasurable– “The Asphodel Meadows not of virtue nor sin.” We just did some research and tried to use of the information as best as we could and then along the way we made some stuff up on our own, because that’s really what mythology is.

What does the future hold for Radamanthys?

Alex: We will be promoting this demo as much as we can and try to get our name out to as many people as we can. Now that our demo is finished, we are currently looking for shows, and people should feel welcome to get in contact with us through our Facebook page for any show opportunities. We’re also possibly going to shoot a music video for one of the tracks!

Burn down our churches for one day you’ll be Norway’s “brand”

Remember when burning down churches in Norway was bad and black metallers were labeled satanists? Well apparently, all is forgiven and the Norwegian government is looking to black metal to become its “brand.” I guess the country finally figured out that black metal is their nation’s top export over what…..herring?

norway-immortalRead this interesting story here.

The man behind Fenriz’s Band of the Week

It could be said that there is already enough music made that you could never run out of old stuff to listen to, never mind trying to catch up with all that is new. Devotion to old school or traditional metal has become a fascination for some who dislike the “flavor-of-the-week” attitude found among some music fans. But where can you turn for guidance about what’s already there and what’s any good?

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Arjan de Vries

Most metal fans are well aware of the infamous Darkthrone and its drummer/vocalist Fenriz.  Fenriz eschews modern metal and promotes what he classifies as “good, old metal” free of performance enhancing trickery such as drum triggers or Pro Tools. He features this music on his blog, Band of the Week, which he maintains on a weekly basis on MySpace. Yes, MySpace and not even NEW MySpace. The Darkthrone profile on “classic” MySpace currently boasts 69,536 followers.

Instead of promoting Darkthrone’s work on the page, Fenriz focuses on sharing music that he likes to listen to. He states on the blog that he listens to more than 10 hours of music per day. Being chosen as a Band of the Week has become similar to earning the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Groups such as Ghost and Graveyard have been listed on BOTW and in some cases, the listing has helped bands land record deals. Washington, DC’s Ilsa has made the Fenriz list. Band of the Week is totally about promoting honest, raw, and underground music. As Fenriz states clearly on the blog, “THIS PAGE IS RUN BY MUSIC FREAKS –FOR music freaks.”

Fenriz is not on Facebook (or any other social media for that matter) and states he never will be. So what can be done to get the message of this metal guru out to the masses who no longer use MySpace? Clearly someone with that level of dedication to the “old ways” has to have a gentle liaison into the 21st century. And that person happens to be Arjan de Vries.

Arjan shares Fenriz’s passion for great old metal and also his enthusiasm for sharing that musical knowledge with other people. So Arjan established an official Facebook page for Band of the Week and essentially reblogs what Fenriz has posted on the MySpace page. He also adds other comments, posts videos, adds links to Darkthrone interviews and basically keeps the audience of more than 9,700 fans steadily engaged. I contacted Arjan through Facebook and sent him some questions about how he got involved in the Band of the Week project.

How did the blog come about, and how would you describe the overarching mission of Band of the Week?

Fenriz started Band of the Week in late 2009 after the discovery of a great new band. This gave him the idea to post a Band of the Week on the Darkthrone MySpace page, to which 56,000 people had already signed up. (A full history of Band of the Week, written by Fenriz, can be found at http://www.bandoftheweek.net/) It’s all about the good old sound. Bring the right music to the right people, and promote those bands who still play the old way with the old sound and use their typewriter just for typing. This blog should provide enough good old school metal for its followers, enough to ignore the mainstream from now on. It works for me. You name it, I haven’t heard it.

What is the story behind how you became acquainted with Fenriz and affiliated with Band of the Week?

Fenriz had already posted a lot about music on his MySpace blog so I noticed that he had good taste. When I hear something great, and I mean really great, I want everybody to hear it. This great thing was Jex Thoth so I decided to send him a YouTube video. He already knew that band and gave me some tips back, one of them was Evil Army. I had been doing an obscure old school metal playlist for some time with stuff like Brocas Helm, Fantom Warrior, Agent Steel and Trouble and some new bands such as Natur, Hessian and Ghost. I also mixed in lots of 70’s rock and proto-metal like Hard Stuff, Toad, High Tide, Bedemon, Gun, Jerusalem and Lucifer’s Friend. If I found something good, I would send it to him as a tip for Band of the Week. I began to do some more things for Band of the Week such as making a web page with all the band links on it. That way people could browse through the list of bands. A Facebook and YouTube channel followed later. It grew like that, there was no job advert that said: Help needed. Must have absolutely no knowledge of modern metal.

How do you or Fenriz decide who the Band of the Week will be? What happens if you disagree about the band?

Fenriz picks the bands. He asked me to pick a band two times now, but I usually just update the website and post on the Facebook page. I keep on promoting all the bands  from the Band of the Week list by posting videos on our Facebook profile. I do that between Band of the Week posts to keep the profile active. When I find something good, I send him a tip about it. I usually listen to older music for pleasure instead of tons of new records. I don’t get stuff in the mail so I have to come across something during a YouTube browse session or from a tip by one of the many good people in my Facebook friend list.

There seems to be something of a “cult of Fenriz”—people really seem to look up to him and value his opinions about music. Other people, I have read, seem to think his views are off the mark. What do you have to say about this?

Fenriz hates your modern metal!

Truth is that I don’t visit forums etc., so I really don’t know what people say about his opinions. The Band of the Week followers I spoke with are all fans who just like the music he promotes. Good people with good taste who still buy records…

What three recordings are you listening to right now, and what do you think of them?

Just some good old stuff. I like to listen to many songs from many different bands/artists in one music listening session so it’s not really whole albums at the time usually, but here are three I’ve been listening to lately:  Trouble-Psalm 9 (1984), Message-From Books and Dreams (1973);  Scorpion-Scorpion (1969 psychedelic rock from Detroit).

Is there anything else you think people should know about Band of the Week?

The Live Evil festival in London: they pick the bands using the Band of the Week list.

___

HAPPY RECORD STORE DAY! Visit your local record store April 20, 2013 and every day.

INTERVIEW: Old Lines among must-see hardcore acts at MDF

One of the new features at the 2013 Maryland Deathfest is the addition of a second stage at Baltimore Soundstage for punk and hardcore acts.  One of the bands I consider a must-see at this stage is Baltimore’s Old Lines, who will perform on Friday, May 24.
Combining heavy with hardcore, Old Lines is able to strike that perfect balance that makes their music stand out from the pack. Add to this some crusty vocals, d-beat rhythms and political themes and you have band that sounds simultaneously classic and brand new.
Old Lines

Old Lines

Old Lines is Mitch Roemer, Jake Berry, Matt Taylor and Pat Martin. Pat and Matt  thoughtfully answered my standard MDF questions.

What will be the official lineup for Maryland Deathfest?

Pat:  The lineup will be the current version of Old Lines. Me, Matt, Mitch, and Jake. Nothing out of the ordinary over here, haha.
What do you consider to be one of your band’s most essential
recording?
Pat:  Well, haha, we only have one record out, our LP that came out back in January. That’d be our only, and for sure most essential recording this far. It’s also streaming on our BandCamp page all the time, so if you wanna check it out, that’d be awesome. We only have a few copies left, so if you like it, don’t hesitate to mail order one!
How does your band feel about playing Maryland Deathfest?
Pat:  We’re all pretty excited! Being a newer band, it’s really cool of those guys to ask us to be a part of such a rad weekend. Also, not a ton of local bands play it, so it’s a pretty special thing.
Matt: So stoked! MDF is something I look forward to every year, and I’m so excited we can be a part of it this time. Mega-thanks to Evan and Ryan for giving us the opportunity.
What other bands playing MDF do you hope to see perform?
Matt:  Oh man, there are so many:  Abigail, Carcass, Hellshock, Loss, Tragedy, Evoken, Pallbearer, Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Midnight, Pagan Altar, and of course… fucking Infest!  It’s really cool to see more punk bands playing this year, and I think the idea of having a punk/hardcore stage is super rad.  I’m also stoked that Ilsa is playing since they are our homies, and Rotten Sound is going to kill.
Pat:  I’m pretty pumped on seeing a ton of the bands on our stage. Weekend Nachos, Ilsa, Citizens Arrest, Gehenna, DOC, Tragedy, and Infest, for sure. Infest was a band I thought I’d probably never see, so it’ll be pretty cool to see them for the first time. I’m gonna be the dude smashing everything when they play Sick-o, haha. Seeing Pig Destroyer, Integrity, and Midnight over on the main stages should be pretty cool too.
Will you be doing other shows as part of your stop at MDF or is
this appearance exclusive?
Pat:  We’re only gonna be doing the Friday night of the fest, at this point. We kind of had a discussion about trying to do a short tour around it, but it wasn’t really feasible with everyone’s schedules. It’s entirely possible we might try to squeeze another show in right after it, but right now, it’s just the fest.
Will there be any unusual or special merchandize you will be
selling while at MDF?
Matt:  No, not really.  I think the special Pagan Altar patches they made are really cool though since they have “MDF 2013” on them.  I don’t know, maybe we’ll have a new shirt design or patch or something. Of course we’ll have records too.

Pat:  I’m not sure, we haven’t really discussed doing any special merch for the fest yet. We have beer koozies, that not a normal piece of merch, or maybe it is now, but whatever, haha. Gotta keep those beers chilly!

Is there anything else you want people to know about your band?
Pat:  We’re trying to stay busy over the summer. Me and Mitch are about to start writing songs for whatever our next release/releases are gonna be. We probably aren’t gonna play a ton of shows around town, and focus on writing the new jams. As far as touring, we just got home from our first tour about a month ago, which was really awesome, and a ton of fun. I think we’re going to try to go out again in the fall? We’ve chatted with the Ilsa dudes about maybe doing some weekends, but that’s just been bar talk so far, haha.
Matt: Big thanks to Ryan and Evan for putting us on the show, and thanks so much to everyone for checking us out. See you soon!

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