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Gorguts tears up Mojo 13 and our second podcast!

I don’t go to Delaware for shows that often. But when you are presented with the option of driving an hour and a half to Springfield, Virginia on a weekday night  or driving on hour and twenty minutes to Wilmington, Delaware on a Saturday night to see Gorguts, you pick Delaware. At least that’s what I do.

Gorguts is a technical death metal band from Quebec. They have been around since 1989, which is probably longer than many of their fans have been alive. My exposure to Gorguts came backhandedly because I listened to the German tech death group Obscura first and then later found out that they took their name from Gorguts album by that name. I felt late to the party.

This week, my podcast partner Derek and I traveled to Delaware to see Gorguts, Sapremia, Pale Existence, Lesch-Nyhan, Nightfire and Alustrium. This week’s podcast talks about that show and the new Gorguts album Colored Sands. Everyone seems to love this album. Find out what we think and then decide for yourself.  You can stream the album here on YouTube for reference. Check out some of the photos I shot in the gallery and leave your comments about what you might like to hear on the podcast in the future.

Here is a list of events we mention in the podcast:

9/11 Iron Man at Cafe 611

9/14 Beelzefuzz at Lallos

9/19 Day of the Beast at  The Sidebar

9/20-22 Stella Natura Fest

9/26 DC 4th Anniversary Party


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.



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!

REVIEW: Carthage – Salt of the Earth

Carthage of Baltimore

Math-core, metal-core, djent, technical death metal. All these subgenres of heavy metal have one important thing in common—complexity. The new album by Baltimore’s Carthage is rife with challenging complexity and notable musical virtuosity. But do I like it?

Well, yes, but not for the reasons you might like it. Or hate it. Salt of the Earth does not fit neatly into my typical musical palate, which by choice is filled with a lot of fairly dark and evil black metal. One simply does not listen to blast beats and tremolo riffs all the time. I am also a fan of much more technical metal bands like Obscura (and their inspiration Gorguts), the math metal geniuses Meshuggah, djent groups like Vildhjarta; and straight up tech death groups like Decapitated and Atheist. And, of course, my secret guilty pleasure—The Acacia Strain.

The subtle rhythmic complexities of whatever it is you want to label Carthage as playing are mentally and intellectually simulating. This is not background music; it commands your attention from start to finish throughout 12 tracks and about 40 minutes of music. A standout track for me includes “The Furthest Thing” that blends some lovely harmonics and melodies with some insanely challenging riffs. Lovely harmonies mixed with death metal-like growls and screams can be heard throughout the album. This dichotomy is sometimes why I don’t like bands in these subgenres.

Another standout feature of the record is the fat bass and precision percussion. These two instruments alone lead listeners into another standout track called “Pushing Forward.” The vocals here start much cleaner at the beginning but then move into the familiar growl. Vocally, I like the middle part of this song better than the “call to action” at the beginning (and which returns in the end). But hey, the melody is nice and rather proggy.

As with many groups today, the vocals can kill the songs for me. It’s not that the vocals here are bad—not at all, these guys are very talented vocally. And there are many guest vocals (**see note below). It is just that there are too many different KINDS of vocals—some clean, some death growls, some guttural, some pretty. This is really a kind of a taste thing. Many groups use this technique with great success, and there is a fan base that thinks this style is awesome. I am just not one of those people.

Musically, however, Carthage’s Salt of the Earth presents a masterful collection of thought out, finely tuned compositions. And I don’t mean that like their instruments are “in tune;” I mean that like the music is well written, sharply honed and expertly executed (and recorded). Guitarist and vocalist Tre Watson says these songs have been around since 2010, so apparently Carthage has had time to perfect them.

Other favorite tracks on the album include “ To Return” and “Green.” Both tunes have memorable, melodic riffs and cool sections. The album closes out with the quite beautiful “Continuous,” which happens to be the longest track on the record. Frankly, I think some of the songs leading up to this encore piece could have been a little longer.

And yes, like many groups in this category, Carthage songs have “breakdowns,” but it’s not like the breakdown section is the only heavy part of these songs. Carthage provides aural assault from the first chord to the last note.

In the final analysis, Carthage seems to be carving out a unique enough niche that should break away from the pack. I don’t think Carthage sounds like anyone else—I think they sound like themselves, and that is a good thing. It is the worst thing for a band to be an obvious derivative of another group.
I would not be surprised if Salt of the Earth is part of the plan that puts Carthage on the world’s musical map and gets them noticed for tours with more well-established groups or airplay on stations like Liquid Metal. That would be a good thing for Baltimore, because as the cliché goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

The members of Carthage include:
Eric Hendricks – Vocals

Tre Watson- Guitar/Vocals
Ian Starks- Guitar
Noyan Tokgozoglu – Guitar
Robby Gossweiler- Bass
Billy Berger – Drums/Vocals

**According to Tre, there are many guest vocals on the album as well, “including members of our friends in In Dying Arms, Forgive The Fallen, VELA and Sky Came Burning! and of course, you! A lot of you submitted your vocals to be on the song “1984/4” and everyone who submitted was used. I hope you’re really excited.”

You can listen to Carthage – Salt of the Earth below.

Countdown to MDF X: (24) Confessor

Strong harmonies, melodies filled with pregnant pauses, usual time signatures and interesting lyrical subject matter make Confessor’s progressive technical death metal an interesting choice for MDF.  I played a song by the group for a friend. He’s impression was that they were a little Queensrÿche-like. I thought they seemed a bit Alice in Chains-y. Either way, this North Carolina group should get a reaction from the audience Saturday, May 26, at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest.

The current lineup includes Cary Rowells (bass), Steve Shelton (drums), Brian Shoaf (guitar), Chris Nolan (guitar) and Scott Jeffreys (vocals). Founded in 1986, Confessor developed an underground following. Even when they split up in 1994, interest was sustained in their music. Their final recording sessions eventually resulted in the post-breakup release of the album, Unraveled, from which the song “Wig Stand” in the video clip below was taken. I’ve also included a clip from their 1991 full-length Condemned that perhaps more clearly demonstrates their progressive leanings. The group reunited in 2011 and is ready to hit the road.

Countdown to MDF X: (56) Dying Fetus

Dying Fetus, a technical death metal band from Upper Marlboro (in my homeland of Prince Georges County) Maryland, has steadily gained national and international acclaim since their inception in 1991.  Their guitar and drumming prowess in undeniable. Their vocals are guttural and unforgiving.

The band includes only original member John Gallagher – Guitar,Vocals; Sean Beasley – Bass,Vocals and Trey Williams – Drums. This Relapse recording artist makes a good addition to the Thursday, May 24 line up for Maryland Deathfest X. The band was featured most recently on the Metal Alliance Tour with Devil Driver, Faceless, Job for a Cowboy et al.  Then following the MDF X, they will embark on summer tour with Six Feet Under and Revocation. They will make a short stop in Frederick, MD at Cafe 611, only with Revocation and local support on June 6.

Dying Fetus is on par with a band like Suffocation, which originated from the New York Death Metal scene. Yet, Dying Fetus deserves special recognition because they are among the few bands that by sheer force of will and perseverance put the state of Maryland on the map for metal, They are also probably the only group with the technical ability, artistry, and creative skills to be thought of as Maryland’s original death metal band [in my opinion]. Perhaps because they were spawned so close to the nation’s capital, their lyrics often invoke political themes. This fact sets them apart intellectually from some others in the death metal cohort that focus on gore and violence.

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