Archive for the ‘all things heavy’ Category

Iwrestledabearonce – It’s All Happening

November 28, 2009

Dethklok, Mastodon and Converge

November 23, 2009

Article and Photos By: Dave Brooks

View all of Dave’s concert photos here.

Converge! Yea. Mastodon! Yeaaaaa. Dethklok. YEAAAAAA!

Oh man. I get to the show and quickly start to notice a trend….

That’s a cool black Mastodon t-shirt, I think to myself. Wow, look at that black Dethklok shirt. Is that a black Barbie t-shirt? Goddamn! Do metal bands make any other color shirts? According to the merch booth, no, they do not.

I must have missed the memo as I show up in my gray Unearth tee.

I know why they wear all black! For when half of a gigantic Jagermeister shot (it pays to take care of your bartenders kids) drips down the side of your mouth and dribbles onto your fucking shirt! Luckily the lights are going down, Converge is getting ready to assault the stage and I’m getting too drunk to care anymore. Lead singer Jacob Bannon is an energetic force the entire set. Carrying the live performance with manic vocals, he laps across the stage with veins pumping out of his head. He does his best to stir up the crowd, but they don’t seem to be interested. I couldn’t figure it out… Are they waiting for….. ::rumble:: Mastodon?

I am taking this break in between bands to eagerly await my next $14 bud draft and Jager shot combo. Did I tell you about tipping well? I just drank a shot that could choke a horse. Holy shit. I plow through my beer fast enough to get back to periphery of the crowd, but you can’t see shit from here and I have to take pictures too. The front of the stage is blocked by sweaty youths. My only alternative? ENTER….THE….PIT.

Fuck you, you fat bastard! ::ELBOW:: Why is a girl in the pit? ::FACE PALM:: Is that adult latino man 4 feet 11 inches tall? ::LEAPFROG:: I’m beginning to love going to shows in L.A., as I can see over nearly everyone. Jockeying for space in the front of the crowd becomes difficult as while I would normally be pushing people in the back and shoulders. I end up half punching these midgets in the head instead. Whoops. Screw’em. Mastodon are already 2 songs deep and they kick ass. Guitarist/Singer Brett Hinds is going to be a crazy, old man someday. That guy doesn’t care about anything besides ripping on guitar and making sure he is alcoholically imbibed. They tear through old and new songs with ease. Bassist Troy Saunders kinda looks like he has muppet lips when he sings. Is it his beard outline or am I that drunk?

I realize that I am that drunk as I go to take a picture and get my camera knocked out of my vice- like grip. Some guy doing his best Jerry Rice impersonation catches that shit without even knowing it was coming. Insane! You had to see it.

Uh oh. I thought I might make it through a show without seeing these guys, but there they are. I run into the “I work out a lot, like to keep my shirt off, don’t like to have a neck and will not alter my path to avoid contact with other concertgoer” douchebags. My kingdom for a cattle prod!

Another break in the action and I find some dude dressed up as Dr. Rockzo from Metalocalypse. Hillarious. Even got his autograph. Back to the bar? Yes. I get my usual combo and decide to check out the lounge area. There seems to be an unsecured door in the back. Oh, is this where you keep all of your beer stored Palladium? :: evil laugh :: Don’t mind if I do! I spread the word to some fellow drinkers, but they arrive too late. Dethklok’s opening vid has started and I am nowhere near the stage. Let’s fix that shall we?

I use my trusty, get to the front of the stage, pit maneuver and I am back in action. I’m not sure what it is about this crowd, but for a bunch of sweaty dudes, you guys smell great! Lot’s of good deodorant here. Dethklok is tearing it up. They have a video show behind them and the lights are lower than usual. Brendan Small is one talented dude. Handling vocals and guitar he flawlessly plays one Metalocalypse hit after the other. During breaks between songs he alternates between normal stage banter and doing characters from the show. Funny shit. A video interlude at about the halfway mark takes a jab at normal, concert procedures in comedic fashion. “Mermaider” gets the crowd chanting as the lyrics are projected on the screen. Luckily I know the song because I am seeing more than double, but less than triple. Trouble?

No. Everything is fine. I sweated out most of the booze being in the first 4-5 rows of people. Name another reviewer that gets deep in the crowd like that! The show is over and I had a blast. I’m sweaty, my back kind of hurts from the elbows and jostling, I’m tipsy and it was awesome.

Too bad for anyone that missed out that this tour is over. Get yourself out to a show and remember these 3 things:

1) Keep your fucking shirt on, you muscle-headed, no neck-having, fuck.
2) Get drunk as soon and as consistently as possible. Tipping well will accelerate this.
3) If you are in L.A., the best place to be is in the front of the stage. If you are elsewhere, you might want to hold your nose.

Awaken Demons – The Mirror

November 18, 2009
Awaken Demons - The Mirror

Written By: Tim Bannock


Label: Trustkill – Rating:

A mix of old-school Biohazard (more of the NYC hardcore element) and Earth Crisis (fitting, considering Karl shows up on “Drawn To Death’s Door”), Awaken Demons has unleashed The Mirror, a criminally uneven release that shows potential despite some head-smackingly obvious faults. Boasting Max Cavalera-esque vocal stylings and some pretty monstrous riffs, the ten tracks on this disc will demand your attention, but may not fulfill your desires. It’s not for lack of trying though, as the production values gain a big thumbs up, and the good tracks really shine.

The Mirror gains some immediate traction with the opening track, “Coming To An End” and follows through on “Drawn To Death’s Door.” Crazy bass drops and an excellent break down section close out this track, wreaking havoc like a fifty-foot monster laying waste to Tokyo for the umpteenth time. But then “Path of Lies” kicks in exactly where “Drawn…” left off…to the point that it’s annoyingly similar. Did they plan the continuity, or did they just write the same song twice? There are some thrashier moments, but otherwise it is a copy/paste job of the previous song. Why not combine them? Toss in different vocalizations, at least? Such an early start to the questions that do not cease.

“Abandon the Darkness” is a ditty about how “I can’t. Fucking. Trust you.” This song does right what so much of this disc does wrong: cocky, hardcore posturing and swaggering moshpit breakdowns. It works on this track, which is fantastic, but it serves as a bittersweet moment when you discover this is the second best track on the disc, so they’ll never quite get back to par (wait a few moments and I’ll reveal the best track, I swear!). “World Collapses” follows, and is damn near as good as Abandon, if it weren’t for the over-use of pinch harmonics and rolling riffs that we’ve heard everywhere else on this disc. A swift boot to the ass and Awaken Demons could turn tracks like this into something amazing, but as it stands, it feels like your listening to a band going through the motions. Good, fun motions, but it’s still all just rote rehearsal.

And guess what they repeat endlessly on “Fight To Overcome.” If you guessed, “I like Ball Park franks,” you’re a flaming idiot. They mention passingly how they don’t like you, how they don’t need you, and how they don’t trust you. They might even tell you to fuck off. But mainly they just tell you how they’re going to “Fight to Overcome.” I’m guessing it’s not about women’s rights, so “overcome” does not refer to the glass ceiling. Wild guess: they will fight to overcome you. Or the man. Or something else equally vague. No matter how you cut it, it’s nothing you can’t find somewhere else, but it’s sure as hell a lot less creative. (Listen to Turmoil for a more creative spin on this kind of lyrical wit. When they open a disc with “What the fuck are you looking at?” you actually feel like they just punched out your lights.)

The lyrics on “Real” are so ridiculously generic that I thought it was done with tongue planted firmly in cheek. But it definitely takes itself too seriously, because it leads into “Victim of Your Game,” which is even worse. It’s about the gang-like brotherhood that surrounds…metal? Gangs? Straightedge kids? Who cares? It’s pretty dumb. It’s like Godsmack’s nine hundred songs imploring people to “stay away, get back, don’t come near me.” The actual line here is actually more ridiculous though: “Unite as a family, together we walk, we’ll never be alone, we’ll be forever true, so keep your fucking mouth shut, and get your shit out of my way.” All well and good (well, no, it’s cheesy as all hell), but the line flows against the music and basically sounds like a retarded white guy from Westchester, New York trying to get in good with the most badass South American drug dealers ever. To say “it doesn’t quite work” is the understatement of the year.

And then there’s “The Mirror,” an amazing, melodic metal instrumental that completely betrays everything on this disc because it’s so shockingly good. THIS is the best track on the disc (told ya I’d get to it)! It shrugs off the formulaic approach of earlier tracks, it features fantastic melodic heaviness, and smooth, fluent harmonic solos. Breathy keys overtake the track and lend beautiful opposition to the grungy open chords before moving into a stoner rock anthem. Discordant, heavily distorted notes grind out the last teeth-clenching seconds of this amazing track. Where the hell did this track come from? It feels like some other band forgot to take their songs from whatever studio this was recorded in and the producer said, “Hell, this hasn’t been claimed in two weeks, so I’m throwing it on Awaken Demons’ disc.” Completely out of sync with the rest of the album, and totally amazing.

As with all music, at least take a listen before you pass on the disc. You’re tastes might be different than mine. But if the above didn’t sell you and a sample of some the tracks doesn’t change your mind, you might want to look for something by a more refined outfit.

Like Awaken Demons? Check out: Turmoil, Reflux, Hatebreed

Adversary – Singularity

November 18, 2009
Adversary - Singularity

Written By: Tim Bannock


Label: Trustkill – Rating:

The thunder of drums have been unleashed! Adversary’s Singularity is a pummeling debut that will have you crying for Excedrin with it’s up-front-and-center bass drum assault, but you’ll also be crying to hear their next album because there’s just not enough material on this disc to sate your metallic appetites. This is a great first album for a band to have despite the over-the-top bass drum sound, as the band displays great chops throughout and makes no mistakes. If a bit by-the-book, Adversary’s got enough spit and vinegar in their veins to keep you coming back for more.

“Hedonist” is probably the perfect opening track: the double bass is absolutely relentless, so anyone looking for lighter fare (or who are sporting a head cold) will know to turn the disc off, while the rest of us begin the journey down death-thrash alley. Clearly inspired by the Gothenburg sound but with vocals and breakdown sections that scrape together the shattered pieces of metalcore bands left dead in this speed-metal wake, this first song is filled to brimming with great riffing and sweet solos.

The disc takes a turn very fast on second track The Grand Mistake, as well as several of the following tracks, applying Adversary’s more personalized touch to the genre. “…Mistake” and titular “Singularity” are more death-rock oriented, presenting harmonized solos and more of a rolling, head-banging groove. Some sing-songy screams show up too, followed by a second or two of clean vocals with a bluesy influence. All of this is a nice change of pace, but there’s something going on beneath the surface…

“In Vino Veritas” has more of this clean singing over some groovier crunch. And that’s when it hits: the clean singing doesn’t quite get off the ground, often hitting some flat notes. It doesn’t detract much, but it definitely stands out enough to raise an eyebrow. Upon hearing one track, All Things Heavy’s own Dave Brooks launched into a fine impression of a rickety old grandma and said “That’s right grandson! You should sing more! You have such a lovely voice.” If granny asks you to sing more, you sing more. That’s just how it is. But in this case, granny is best left to her own devices; Adversary’s clean singing is okay in parts, but the off-key notes are very noticeable and are a little too common on some tracks. A few rounds with a vocal coach and this won’t be an issue, but until then, it might be a good idea to back off, Sonny Jim.

Anyway, back to the CD! “Manifest Humility” is like an In Flames/Arch Enemy mashup that showcases some intense guitar work. I feel like some of it’s been done before, but maybe not quite this well. The song has some breaks that kick ass, and once again, if the clean singing was either pitched correctly or cut out altogether, this track would be a momentous jam. Its limitations drag it down, but not too far; cover the vocals under lots of bass and treble and you’ll be more than happy. More importantly, the death vocals on this track near the end are some of the most blistering on the album.

You get a lot more, too: the melodic instrumental “Ashes of Faith” with its great time changes and crazy fills; “Dying Art” is a direct In Flames rip-off, but a damn fine one; “The Romance of Lies” features guitar dueling that spins off into straight up death-thrash assualting; and finally some more off-key singing juxtaposed by some viscerally exciting growls. Tough call at times, but overall, this stuff is good.

I can’t stress enough that musically this is a great, blistering disc of deathy thrash metal, with some groovy licks and great instrumentation all around. The singer’s good, but he had to listen to Grams, to the detriment of several tracks. It’s never enough to kill the whole ordeal, and if you crank your music loud enough, you just won’t care. Don’t pass on this disc because of the faltering vocals: it accounts for like 2% of the album, so you’d be screwing yourself out of 98% killer material. Here’s a tip to avoid the bad vocals: learn the key he’s trying to sing in, and just belt out the lyrics louder. You won’t notice the difference, and it’ll make the whole thing a little more interactive.

Better than entering an air guitar contest, anyway!

Like Adversary? Check out: Imagika, In Flames, and an ass-load of other bands on Trustkill!

Between The Buried And Me – The Great Misdirect

November 17, 2009
Between The Buried And Me - The Great Misdirect

Written By: Dave Brooks


Label: Victory Records – Rating:

The Great Misdirect. You’ll know what’s causing it. When you’re turned inside out, flipped around and feel backwards. All the insanity from Alaska mixed with the complexity and depth of Colors. I feel like they made their last 2 records have sex and this is the offspring. Between the Buried and Me have outdone themselves in every way.

Just give in already! More great transitions, bridge work and disgusting heavies knock you down. This won’t end until you just submit to it. You mind if the keyboard (organist) gets a few solo’s? Told ya. You hear that killer, dual guitar soloing section? I know, the moon is far away, but it will be worth it. We’re almost there.

There you go. “Slide in to the water. Become one with the sea. Life seems so much smaller. Swim to the moon.” is chanted. The only thing we are missing is some sing along action. It hasn’t been brutal in a while, let’s throw that in there. Speed riffing next. A maraca and hand drums break here. A whistle signals a fastest drum solo contest at roughly the 5 minute mark. If you rest for a moment, you will drown. The starts and stops, style changes, keyboards, guitars…..EVERYTHING here is on 11. My takeoff is joined by a trippy intro filled with exotic percussion. In the time it takes for this next track (17:54) to end, I could “Swim to the Moon” and back. It feels as if it’s a lost song. Good ‘ol strumming carries this relaxed tune. Guitarist Paul Waggoner opens on guest vocals with a baritone that accompanies the lead well. Get down, country blues is a’comin your way partner.

An acoustic led, orchestral salute will send you along to find the “Desert of Song”. I would be a proud BTBAM citizen. “Trust us and we will all be safe. We are the new government.” It will not let up! It doesn’t end! A pentadecainstrumental freak out happens to stir up some more heaviness. Amazing. Did I mention this track is 12:11 long and NONE of it is boring? I want to feed from Cloud Mountain if this is what’s being served. I start to think “Sure, no prob…” ::CRUNCH::. “Stand back, relax, enjoy the ride” orders Tommy Rogers. Go buy it. The bass slides on the 5.1 audio are SICK. I’ve been beamed “Fossil Genera – A Feed from Cloud Mountain” and wonder if I’m in a old timey saloon, mixed with a bodega, decorated by a shaman.

But it won’t just end on with a repeat. Extra flair accompanies and extends our opening stanza. This throwback, solo jam leads back superbly to the start of our 11:03 track. I need more cowbell. Is that cowbell? Did I just hear a horse neigh? What in the hell? Second only to Meshuggah in off time skills, they bring out a beaut here. Slumber and inventive dual vocals overtakes the beast only to abruptly wake him. Let’s just say it left footprints when it did. “Control…and collapse…collide” ignites the way for another heavy to land. “Disease, Injury, Madness” overcomes you.

Who knows what’s going to happen next? You’re out of your comfort zone and it’s great. A bass riff breakdown snaps a foot off in your ass and it’s on for the rest of the track. “ALL-DOMINANT … This is what we call a brain” is barked with disappointment towards the masses. “Obfuscation” can’t be what’s happening now, as the transition to the more violent side of BTBAM isn’t clouded, but lurking. Dan Briggs work on the fretless bass is absolutely brilliant. A beautiful, haunting intro opens you up to your “Mirrors” reflection.

What’s all the fuss about you say? I am officially putting this in my top 10 metal albums of the naughts. Imagine true 5.1! Every tiny detail of BTBAM’s latest release is available here and I only have 2 speakers and a sub. A pity, as you’ll miss out on the 5.1 Surround Sound edition that comes with the official version. It will lead to you downloading acquiring this album. Don’t be fooled! You’re about to read a review for The Great Misdirect.

Did this review confuse you? Feeling ‘Misdirected?’ Try this review instead.

Evarest – Fear

November 16, 2009
Evarest - Fear

Written By: Tim Bannock


Label: Strawhouse – Rating:

Some people think that hiring a female singer for a metal band is a fad; others don’t think that, but still treat it like it is. The bad news is that many bands get by on this schtick without any real other qualities of merit. The good news is that some bands just happen to have a female singer, and the “baggage” that the media associates with that (both good and bad) just doesn’t factor into the deal. Czech power metal band Evarest is of this latter type, so let’s jettison the “oh my gawd, it’s a chick singer in a metal band!” stuff right off the bat. Eva (see where there name comes from?) doesn’t do the operatic stuff like Nightwish, nor does she do the death growls of Arch Enemy: this is straight up, classical singing that is probably best related to The Gathering, or even Grace Slick on the harder rocking Jefferson Airplane tunes. Straightforward, but very powerful and good.

There’s a lot of elements that are good about Evarest. The pinch harmonics and whammy bar squeals on songs like “Searching for Lost Times” and the titular “Fear” are fantastic, and the music is really a mesh of Sonata Arctica mixed with classic Iron Maiden. There’s ripping solos everywhere, there’s keyboard-guitar interplay that would make Warmen/Children of Bodom fans happy (but certainly not outperform said bands), and quite frankly, it’s the little guitar fills that showcase this band’s fresh songwriting approach. The drummer and bassist put in workman-like performances, but that’s par for the course with power metal, and frankly, that means that they are solid and do their part; nothing amazing, but certainly nothing to be snobbish about.

But why, oh why 2 Guns, then? The first is the sound of babies crying on “Requiescat.” That’s a sample that was creepy enough opening Queensryche’s Promised Land album, but when you have a female singer? Ten times creepier.

The second is the ho-hum songwriting. Now, I mentioned that there’s some fresh songwriting in the fills, and the fact that you can place this band up there with Iron Maiden and Sonata Arctica in terms of sound says something. But the problem is that beyond the fills and the presence of lots of solos and interludes, you really are getting a pretty stereotypical power metal disc. It’ll sound like 75% of your collection, and you’ll probably toss it out of the rotation within a few weeks. If you don’t like female vocals, then this disc won’t even make into your rotation (but if that’s the case, you’re already doing yourself a disservice). Beyond the few joys I’ve mentioned, you’re getting everything that other power metal bands offer: clean production, perfectly in-time double bass (and lots of it), and verse-chorus-verse-chorus-interlude-verse-chorus-outro music that you’ve heard a dozen times before.

There’s another “but” in there, so pay attention: but for all that, I must stress the greatness of the fills and the sound of this band. With a producer that kicks them in the ass a little more, Evarest could churn out a disc of solo-crazy guitar and keyboard madness the likes of which has not before been seen. Their talent is there on Fear, and it’s not a huge leap for them to pull something amazing out for their next disc.

So check out some songs, and if you like it, pick up the disc and support the band. Keep them around long enough to make that second killer album, and you are sure to be rewarded. If they die off now and fade away though…will they be missed? Ever the optimist, I say, “take a chance on them and the next disc will show you what they can do.”

Like Evarest? Check out: The Gathering, Sinergy, Stratovarius

I Will Never Be The Same – Standby

November 14, 2009
I Will Never Be The Same - Standby

Written By: Tim Bannock


Label: Self-Released – Rating:

The perfect marriage between live instrumentation and electronic atmospherics is something that hasn’t been realized since Trent Reznor decided to grow some rather large nails. Los Angeles-based I Will Never Be The Same effortlessly steps into these shoes – very hard to fill – and proves that the multi-instrumentalist/song writer/producer can turn their apartment into the home base of an evil mastermind.

Overall, Standby comes across as a mix of really strong electronica (from the rave-tastic opening chords of “I’m Not the One” to the haunting ambience of “Starfields”) and hyper-melodic rock (“Worldless” and “Speak”). The variety on this disc is amazing, as it veers into the dancefloor stomp of “Motherfucker Burn” and the crushingly riff-laden hooks of “All For You” (equal parts power ballad and monster rocker). “Last Goodbye” is a trippy, acoustic psychedelia that features slick effects on the vocals and music, and is followed up by the piano-driven, dark ambient “Set Your World on Fire.”

Worried the album’s going to be too goth? “Superfuck” is an instrumental guitar jam. Worried it’s going to be too much like Nine Inch Nails or Orgy? “Eyes Turning Black” is an atmospheric track that’s more reminiscent of Phil Collins’ experimental stuff. Need something more melodic? Check out their cover of “Cry Little Sister,” the theme from Lost Boys. This disc has no boundaries, and none of the tracks come off as filler, with the instrumental “Prelude” building perfectly toward the rock-oriented electronics that unfold on this disc. At its worst, Standby might border on being a little too radio-friendly for some people’s tastes, but its clear this is an outfit that is more than comfortable with experimentation, so any doubts of that nature will fade fast as the album explores ample territory.

That the entire album was written, produced and recorded by one man – Josh Atchley – is just more icing on an already delicious cake. It’s clear that this was a labor of love based on the strength of the album’s entire sound. Clear production means that every piece of electronica isn’t lost under the pounding live drums nor the chugging guitars nor the keyboard/guitar tradeoff solo on the second track. A real drum set gives way seamlessly to thumping percussion samples, and guitars die out on distorted notes as clipped dance chords come screaming in to take you away on a halcyon journey to synesthesia. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s time you give this album a listen and join your flesh and blood with the circuits and keys that pervade Standby. Indeed, you will never be the same.

Like I Will Never Be The Same? Check out: Tweaker, Razed In Black, Orgy

Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue

November 14, 2009
Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue

Written By: Tim Bannock


Label: Virgin – Rating:

Chilling, discordant notes open “All Secrets Known,” and just as haunting, the vocals come in and remind us all what Alice In Chains lost
when Layne Staley died, but tell us that there can be new beginnings. The guitars build on those first, icy notes to become something filled with melody and hope and loss all at once, and that’s when you remember why this band is where they are right now: they are the masters, and they’ve come back to impart their
otherworldly wisdom in the form of song. All secrets are surely known by these lords of grungy, doomy, melodic rock music.

You can make a big deal about the speaker of this knowledge being new and unknown to you, but the voice of these seraphic beings is not something that can be conveyed by one mouth. No, in this case the Metatron is the entire unit: Sean Kinney, Mike Inez, William DuVall, and Jerry
Cantrell. And even these angels (or demons?) understand that they are but a small piece of something else beyond this realm, and that’s why they have to check their own sanity on “Check My Brain” to make sure the great power of crunching, down-tuned riffage hasn’t turned their wisdom to madness.

Poetry aside, Alice In Chains show that they have moved forward and that they have grown and that they are just as unassailable as they ever were. “Last of My Kind” really showcases the new sounds of the vocals while pummeling you with classic Cantrell power chords. “Your Decision” hints at the acoustic melodies that are to come later on, but rocks you out at the 1/3 mark just to make sure you don’t think they are getting soft. “A Looking In View” crashes to the ground like a meteor, bouncing along the surface of the Earth, laying down destruction and leaving a wake of burning silence on the tongues of the onlookers. “When the Sun Rose Again” is a momentary reprieve of acoustics and guitar acrobatics, wailing away at loss, endings, and hope. And then the
“Acid Bubble” bursts, a stoner rock riff that takes Alice in Chains’ onslaught to new levels of ferocity.

From that point out, the classic AIC sound does not relent. Every song juxtaposes doomy guitars with melodic song writing, versatile singing, and a rhythm section that absolutely crushes every one of their peers. Nirvana died with Cobain; Cornell went on to Audioslave and his own experimental stylings; Pearl Jam shunned the limelight while never escaping it; only Alice In
Chains is left of that 90s sound. They were among the heaviest and most aggressive of that era of bands, and they have not changed, nor have they stagnated. Their sound is alive and well; it pays tribute to the times and crimes of Layne, and it soldiers on with a new beginning, and mixed hope and apprehension. It shows battle scars and even exposes a few new wounds, but it revels in the pain because it knows it will heal, coming back stronger and steeled against adversity.

Alice In Chains is back after a dozen years, and they aren’t fucking around. Beware.

Like Alice In Chains? Check out: Solitude Aeturnus, Karma To Burn, Cathedral

Megadeth – Endgame

November 6, 2009
megadeth end game

Written By: Dave Brooks


Label: Roadrunner – Rating:

ME-GA-DETH, ME-GA-DETH, ME-GA-DETH!

“Endgame” hits my ears and I’ve been transported back in time to the late 80’s. Metal is god. Grunge has yet to exist and plague humanity. I look in a mirror and realize that the time travel machine has turned my plain black tee into a blazing, patch filled denim jacket. My
normally comfortable jeans have shrunk and are ball-huggingly tight.

Rips and frayed denim thread are plentiful in the knee area. My normally trim beard is ratty and I…have…a….MULLET! Goddammit! I’ve got to review this album before I can rejoin the present. Let’s go!

Logic is exposed on “Dialectic Chaos” as it can’t be possible to open an album with this much shred. This instrumental is preparing you for the journey of destruction that you will be undertaking. Chris Broderick and Mustaine will literally lead you the entire way. There is no scale or sweep left unturned in their path of thrash. “This Day We Will Fight” is announced by the duo as they take turns melting each others faces. SOLO WATCH: 9.

Give me “44 Minutes” and I’ll give you an entire Megadeth album (44:34). Weird coincidence? The subject of this track are two guys, wearing full armor, who shot up Noho with high powered automatic rifles after robbing a bank. I’ve been to this bank! The lyrics here are a little corny, but it doesn’t really matter. A pounding, mean solo backing riff is the perfect climate for virtuosity gone mad. You have “1,320′” worth of guitar doodling at this point. Time to check in on the solo watch. SOLO WATCH: 19. Whoa. Some of the best shred so far is on this track. It fingerbangs out in a blaze of glory. You should “Bite The Hand” that doesn’t solo as there are “only” 2 featured. Wha? I agree with Mr. Mustaine though. Down with corrupt corporations!

Throw their “Bodies” off the top floor! Get fucking thrashed and witness the classic ‘Deth riffing that’s showcased here. Dave’s getting political and he means it. The old snarl is back and he’s
barking at FEMA, the President and the New World Order on the title track “Endgame.” Did you know that there are over 100 concentration camps in the US? You do now! The softer Mustaine arrives with that old school croon on “The Hardest Part Of Letting Go…. Sealed With A Kiss.” The tender intro segues into a galluping riff tutorial waiting to end with more Mustaine serenade. SOLO WATCH: 28.

Plead death to the “Headcrusher” and get rewarded with the grandfather of chugs. It’s old, but it’s aged well. The 2nd to last track is “How This Story Ends.” What a great last track name! You blew it…..you blew it. A great heavy riff and (you guessed it) solos hold this track up. I am granting myself “The Right To Go Insane” when I hear intro bass and accompanying riffage. However, the rest of the track kept me quite sane and didn’t really close out the album for me. By the way, FINAL SOLO WATCH: 32!

This small sour note does nothing to make me want to stop listening, but the review is over. I’m transmetamorpholizing back to the present. Megadeth’s latest release is the finest of the “Big 4” by far. I think Dave Mustaine has finally topped Metallica and it was about damn time. Now, to hit play again. The mullet wasn’t that bad….

4 Guns

If you like Megadeth you probably already know a lot about metal. Continue on sir/madam.

Chevelle – Samuel Has Problems!

November 6, 2009

Interview By: Jim Markunas
(Editor-In-Chief)

Photos By: Jeremy Ross

View all of Jeremy’s photos of Sam here.

Chevelle is not a band you like ‘just a little bit,’ you either love them or you hate them. I’m one of those people that loves them. I’ve been a die-hard Chevelle fan since 1999. When I was 15, I saw “Mia” on MTVX (remember that shit?), I was blown away by the song, and made my friend Chris drive me to the nearest Best Buy to pick up a copy of Point #1. Foregoing all other records, I spent weeks listening to that album. My obsession was so immense, I made my guitar teacher teach me every song from beginning to end. Chevelle, although somewhat similar to early Tool, are pioneers of the Alt-Metal genre. Point #1 started a revolution in Chicago, gaining steady momentum with radio play on Q101 and sold-out dates at venues like the Metro. After a deal with Epic Records and numerous modern rock radio hits, Chevelle is now a household name in the Alt-Metal genre.

We caught up with drummer, Sam Loeffler at the House of Blues in Anaheim for a quick interview.

Jim: I’ve seen you guys 5-6 times and I want to know why you don’t play “Mia” anymore.

Sam: The reason is that the percentage of the crowd that knows that song is small; many fans are not familiar with it. Playing it causes a dead spot in the show.

Jim: I’m slightly disappointed when I don’t hear it.

Sam: I understand, but there are so many songs, we’ve published over 60 songs, so we can’t do everything. Our set is 16-18 songs (about an hour and half of music), so we have to be selective.

Jim: Back to the progression of the band, since Point #1, you’ve changed a lot. The press criticizes you guys and says Chevelle does exactly the same thing on every record, but I disagree; I think every album sounds different and fresh. Vena Sera, for example, in addition to being a great album was very different. I’d even call it experimental. How do you guys keep it fresh after five albums?

Sam: Thank you. I think you progress as a musician, your interests change and your influences change. It depends on your frame of mind while writing the album. On “Sci-Fi Crimes,” we wrote all the songs at the same time; we weren’t trying to write an album to cross over, we weren’t going for a heavy record…these were the songs that came out.

Jim: I was listening to the album on the way over. Let’s talk about “Sci-Fi Crimes;” it is a concept album, correct?

Sam: I wouldn’t say it is a concept album. It comes off that way and I can see why; the cover art matches the album name and some of the songs titles. It’s a coincidence.

Jim: What was the big thing you were going for on this album?

Sam: I think you said it best, we just want to progress as a band. We don’t go into with an idea of where we want it to go; we just want to write good, melodic songs.

Jim: Can you tell me about some of your influences? Who has influenced you the most as a musician?

Sam: I think things change. I remember when we first starting playing. Pete and I listened to the Dead Kennedy’s, Firehose and The Minutemen. That was a certain scene. I think for Pete, one of his influences singing-wise was Lane Stanly. When he was learning to sing, Alice In Chains taught Pete that rock can be melodic and still be heavy and dark. That was a big turning point for him. Pete would say that any strong vocalist is an influence.

Jim: Some say that Pete sounds like Maynard James Keenan of Tool. One of the things that attracted me to Chevelle was that you guys are a more melodic version of Tool.

Sam: Anything within the genre that sounds similar to something else, it is going to be compared and people are going to compare bands they like and that’s OK.

Jim: Pete plays a baritone guitar. Can you explain what makes a baritone guitar special, how it works and how it helps to create the overall sound of the band?

Sam: The guitar has a longer scale, but the same number of frets. When you de-tune to lower tunings, the strings are too loose to stay in tune with a shorter scale. With a longer scale, the strings are tighter. It is very technical and there’s all this science involved.

Jim: How often do you practice the drums?

Sam: I practice every day, depending on our schedule, we warm up and do a sound check and then play for about two hours before the show.

Jim: About “Sci-Fi Crimes,” are you guys into spaceships, conspiracy theories, that sort of thing?

Sam:
Well the “Sci-Fi Crimes” title is about less about aliens, and more about the people who have had ‘sci-fi crimes’ committed against them.

Jim: Stuff like “The Fourth Kind?”

Sam: Sure, I think that most people are intrigued by other life-forms.

Jim: Do you believe that we are the only intelligent life in the universe?

Sam: Are you asking if I think if man is the only intelligent life?

Jim: No, I mean do you think there are aliens out there?

Sam: Sure! From where we are in the universe, we can only see in one direction based on the way light travels, so I think we can’t say we’re the only ones out there. If there is intelligent life, I don’t know if it would come here.

Jim: How do you guys deal with all of the hardship? It seems with every album there’s something bad that happens to you guys (a member leaves, a manager dies.) Is it hard to move forward without that support group?

Sam: At this point, I am glad we are checking a lot of things off the list- we don’t have to deal with it anymore. There is a lot more bad stuff that can happen. I see how it appears that bad stuff happens each time an album comes out, the reason is because we were able to hold on as long as we have. The longer you go, the more that’s going to happen. What happens next? There will always be something.

Jim: In the future, I hope only good things happen to you guys!

Sam: I hope so too. Five records is a very good run; with the success of this record, I don’t see why we couldn’t keep going. As long as we keep developing our sound, we can make new fans.

Jim: Tell me about the songwriting process as a band, does Pete write the vocals and the guitar parts and bring it to you, or do you all collaborate?

Sam: It’s both. Half the time, Pete will bring a line or melody, and we have to figure out if it is a verse or a bridge or an intro. The most common thing Pete brings is us is a verse or a chorus and we end up with 6-8 songs and 3 of them have bridges and 4 have no bridge. The way a bridge works (or how I think it should work), is that it’s a song within a song, and bands get around that by doing solos or breaking down the chorus and humming to it, and that’s not a bridge. You don’t want to run with the first thought in your head.

Jim: You don’t believe in winging it?

Sam: No, once in a while, winging it will work, but most of the time it doesn’t. If the song has two parts, and it’s not Bad Religion, it probably means someone didn’t put in the effort. Bad Religion is the best at doing two-part songs.

Jim: Some bands write 80 songs for an album and cut it down to 12 for the final record. Does Chevelle work that way?

Sam: No, we’re the opposite. We won’t work on something unless it’s good. We don’t get an extra 80 songs after recording. Think about it, if you have 80 songs and only use 12, that means that 68 of them are bad. If you write 80 songs with intros, verses, choruses and outros, you can’t keep it fresh. Most people couldn’t write 80 songs worth of lyrics; any fifth grader can rhyme.

Jim: So… Chevelle focuses on quality instead of volume?

Sam: Yes. Thanks, I hope people like it at the end of the day.

Jim: Who is your biggest influence now; what are you listening to?

Sam: A band called The Bronx. Everytime I Die is great as well; they’re amazing! I don’t get to listen to a lot of music, since I’m surrounded by music all day, but we do listen to every demo we get. We get demos from random people. We were at a haunted house the other day and someone gave us their demo, and I respected the guy for it, you got to jump at every chance you get.

Jim: Fred Durst was famous for finding bands and getting them record deals, like Puddle Of Mudd, etc. Has Chevelle discovered anyone? Or.. Could you see yourselves in an ‘A&R-type’ role?

Sam: If there is someone we like, we would do everything to push them through and help them, but we’ve never gotten a good demo. There was one that we liked, but they were already signed, so they didn’t need our help.

Jim: Is it hard to be on the road when you have family at home?

Sam: Yes, it is, but it’s what we do and everyone has to make money. It’s the price you pay to live the dream, right?

Jim: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Sam: No. I think you’ve covered everything.

Other Chevelle Articles:
Chevelle Live @ The House Of Blues
Review of Sci-Fi Crimes

View all of Jeremy’s photo’s here.