Friday, 31 October 2014

Album of the Week: Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe

     This week's album is just a fun one in honour of Hallowe'en. Put your graphing calculators away, prog heads.

     Regardless of what you might think of his career in film direction and production (ie: not much) you almost can't help but have a soft spot in your classic metalhead heart for Rob Zombie. I've always had this notion that White Zombie was somehow somewhat more legit than Rob's solo work, but if you're looking for a campily creeped out Hallowe'eny album, Rob's debut solo record has got you covered.

     So if you've got any metalheads at your Hallowe'en gathering this evening, or even anybody of a certain age, put on any or all of 1998's Hellbilly Deluxe and I guarantee you there'll be some smiles and more than a little singing along.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Enter Shikari - The Last Garrison

     Time for a bit of a Don't Call it a Comeback Thursday post, if you will. It's been a few years since I've paid much attention to British electro-metal amalgamators Enter Shikari, but I used to really dig Take to the Skies. I still take it for the occasional spin, so when I hear that the band has a new album in the works, I get interested.

     The Mindsweep won't be sweeping us away until January, but we can all enjoy a little new Enter Shikari right now. "The Last Garrison" is a bouncy piece of dancey pop-metal, so I don't know if it will hold any appeal for the trooly brootal among you. It will, however, find a home in the ears of fans of catchy, fun jams from bands that understand small doses of heavy don't need to be accompanied by big doses of serious. Rock "The Last Garrison" if you Thursday evening needs a pick-me-up.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Circa Survive - Schema

     For your Album of the Week I pointed you in the direction of Death Before Disco, a band I've frequently referred to in the past when comparing other bands to them. Today, we've got a new track from another band I've as a point of comparison on occasion.

     Pennsylvania post-hardcore band Circa Survive have a new album, Descensus, coming out towards the end of November, and they recently released a video for the album's first single "Schema". It definitely sounds like classic Circa Survive (owing in no small part to Anthony Green's vocals) but it's also a little more aggressive sounding, a little rough and jagged around the edges.

     We'll see if the rest of Descensus turns out anything like this, but for the time being "Schema" sounds pretty promising.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Hybrid Sheep - Liar's Promises

     How about some technically-minded deathcore for a Tech Tuesday song? Close enough? It better be.

     Tonight we've got a song from French deathcore act Hyrbid Sheep. "Liar's Promises", the first track from the upcoming Free From the Clutches of the Gods to receive video treatment, is a concise slab of deathcore riffing that alternates between higher speed, trem-pickier stuff and some slightly slower, head-bangier grooves. The latter almost have an old-school Lamb of God flavour to them, right down to the mid-temp harmonized guitar solo.

     Check out Hybrid Sheep and "Liar's Promises" if you're looking for a bit of a deathcore pummeling this evening.

Monday, 27 October 2014

36 Crazyfists - The Deserter

     Over the weekend I was talking about solid metalcore, the kind that makes you unashamed to be a fan of the genre. Today I've got another of those kind of songs for you, the kind that aren't reinventing the wheel but rather are fine examples of well made wheels.

     I've written about Alaskan metalcore act 36 Crazyfists before, and they're the perfect example of a band that's just been doing what they do for years now. Sure, they're not rocking the boat, but I can still put on virtually any 36 Crazyfists record and find something that rocks me.

     Which is what I've been doing lately, listening to 2010's Collisions and Castaways over the past few days, whence comes your song for tonight. "The Deserter" is pretty standard melodic metalcore: chorusy, with some meaty riffs and a breakdown or two. But 36 Crazyfists do it all well enough that instead of noticing the pieces you're too busy enjoying the whole. If metalcore is still your thing at all, get to know these guys.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Job For a Cowboy - Eating the Visions of God

     As I've said before, I've never really given Job For a Cowboy the time of day. But then "Sun of Nihility", the first song to be released from the band's forthcoming Sun Eater, started the process of changing my mind about Job For a Cowboy.

     "Eating the Visions of God", the second track released from Sun Eater and the album's opener, may well finish that process. It's an honest to Satan death metal track, complete with a pretty rad guitar solo and some downright badass bass work. If you can listen to this track and not come away convinced that Job For a Cowboy are a fully legit Metal Band, you're probably a lost cause. For realz.

Saturday: ERRA - Dreamcatcher

     I've written a number of times about how the now-oft-reviled genre of metalcore is neither completely dead nor wholly worthy of the scorn sometimes heaped upon it. I've also written about today's band before, because they're one example of how to do solid modern metalcore.

     Sure, there's not really any innovation here, and the riffs and melodies sound at least vaguely familiar. Where ERRA succeed is in following the formula well and crafting solid, catchy songs within the conventions of the genre that still manage to have moments of genuine heavy rather than simply "radio" heavy.

     ERRA have a new video out, for the song "Dreamcatcher" off of their upcoming debut Sumerian EP Moments of Clarity. It's not going to blow your mind, but it might just tap your foot or bob your head, so have a listen and see what you think.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Friday: Primus - Candy Man

     It's somewhat apt that I was writing about weird, dark music the other day, since today (for yesterday) I've got a new track from one of the finest purveyors of dark weirdness from the last twenty years or so.

     As you may or may not know, the classic lineup of Primus is back together, and they've just released a new album this past week. The weird catch? It's a tribute to, and re-imagining of, the soundtrack from the classic movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. You know, the Gene Wilder one that haunted your dreams when you were a kid, not the Johnny Depp-Tim Burton trainwreck that haunts your dreams as an adult.

     This strange new slice of Primus is entitled Primus & The Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble, and the band's particular take on the music from this children's classic is exemplified by their version of "Candy Man". Sure, he can do all those things to a sunrise, but should he?

Album of the Week: Death Before Disco - Barricades

     I've long extolled the virtues of now-defunct post-hardcore band Death Before Disco, so I figured it's high time I set you the task of getting familiar with this criminally underrated band. Little did I know what a challenging task I had conceived...

     I'd like to be able to say, "your album for this week is Barricades, Death Before Disco's 2006 album", and then give you a nice convenient Youtube link or something, but there isn't a playlist for this album, nor a single video version. The band doesn't have a Bandcamp or a Facebook page that I can find, so good luck finding anything that way.

     You basically have two options if you want to complete your homework assignment: you can go to Amazon or Ebay or somewhere and get yourself a copy (luckily Barricades is still relatively available; good luck finding much of the rest of their catalogue) or you can settle for hearing several tracks from the album, which I will link to below -- it's about half the album, so it could be worse. Whichever you choose, prepare to take in some energetic post-hardcore that still sounds fresh eight years on.

Barricades of Rumble (track 2, previous Song of the Day)
Jaguar (track 4)
Goodbye (track 5)
Kill the Dancer (track 8)
Modern Times (track 9)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Reign of Kindo - Breathe Again

     There's dark music, and then there's weird music, and then there's darkly weird music, or weirdly dark music. Today's song is one of those last ones. But it's also, as I'm hoping you'll discover, a beautiful song.

     I've written about New York's The Reign of Kindo and their piano-centric jazz-pop before, but I recently picked up a copy of their first record Rhythm, Chord, & Melody and one song in particular struck as being twisted in just the right way. It's way not metal (except maybe lyrically...) but it might still be up your alley.

     "Breathe Again" is a dark little song about a Christmas morning gone awry, and while I won't spoil how that happens, or how the story turns out, but I will say that it wasn't at all what I expected after the first few lines of what sounded like another sappy Christmas song. Check it out and have your expectations blown apart.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Rosetta - Soot

     Remember last year's critical darlings Rosetta and their densely atmospheric post-prog metal album The Anaesthete? Yeah, those guys: they flew under a few radars, but also garnered a fair amount of praise for their fourth LP. And now they're back with a new EP.

     I could go on at some length describing the sound of Flies to Flame, comparing it to The Anaesthete, comparing it to other bands, and otherwise generally exercising my typing fingers. Or, you could listen to the opening track "Soot" and get swept away by Rosetta's latest release. The nine-and-a-half minutes of "Soot" take a little bit to get going, but I promise you the release will be worth the build up, and you'll be left drained and wanting more. Headphones are recommended for this one.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tuesday: Archspire - Fathom Infinite Depth

     Time to finish catching up with another installment of Tech Tuesday. This week we're going back to well of Vancouver's Archspire and their latest slab of high speed, high precision tech-death The Lucid Collective.

     Fans of this kind of stuff could really just put this album on and let it go, but for those of you who're on the fence and need a push, try "Fathom Infinite Depth". One pummeling assault of riffs and a heaping helping of Oliver Aleron's rapid-fire vocals later and you should be suitably agape. Pick you jaw up off the floor and hit replay, then check out the rest of the album, and as Archspire would advise, stay tech.

Monday: Beatallica - A Garage Dayz Nite

     It's Tuesday already, and I'm still playing a little catch-up, so it's actually time for a Monday post. It's been a bit, so I've decided to have another go at Metallica Mondays... sort of.

     How can I "sort of" do a Metallica Monday post? Well, picture the old, "you-got-your-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate-no-you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter" thing, only replace "peanut butter" with "Metallica" and "chocolate" with "The Beatles". The resulting Reeses cup of awesomeness, and subject of today's post, is Beatallica.

     I first heard Beatallica way back in the day, after the release of their first EP A Garage Dayz Nite. As you can hopefully infer from that title, Beatallica is a ridiculous mash-up of Metallica songs and Beatles songs, with musical and lyrical cues coming from either or both. Sure, it's jokey and silly, but it's also pretty well done. Think Weird Al-levels of quality and you'll have an idea of how seriously these guys take their strange brand of alchemy.

     I'm going to start you off where I started, with the title track "A Garage Dayz Nite" from the aforementioned 2001 EP, because it will give you an instant feel for what Beatallica sounds like in a way that my descriptive powers never could. What you do with the knowledge that such a bizarre amalgamation exists is up to you.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Sunday: Finch - Anywhere But Here

     I wrote about Finch's new record Back to Oblivion a few weeks back, but now that I've had some time to chew on the whole album, I feel like it's time to give you another reason to get into the band's return to the land of the living.

     This time around I'm picking the other of the two songs we got to hear before the record's release, "Anywhere But Here", for the simple reason that it's one of the songs on Back to Oblivion that I feel best harkens back to the band's old energy while still looking forward to what Finch might sound like if the guys continue on after this record. I just hope they will continue on to a fourth record, and beyond, and that it doesn't take them so long to do it this time.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Saturday: Raunchy - Truth Taker

     I'm not normally a big fan of mixing electronic and/or pop influences into my metal or metalcore. Don't get me wrong, those kinds of cocktails can definitely be done right (I like some stuff by The Algorithm, for example) but most of the time that's just not really my cup of tea. Basically, I got into heavy music because I didn't really care for those genres.

     But dammit, sometimes somebody comes along and makes me go, "OK, now that could change my mind". Today (or yesterday...) it's Danish band Raunchy that's got me rethinking my stance on bouncy, bassy choruses with dancey-sounding synths. What is it about their latest single "Truth Taker", from the upcoming Vices.Virtues.Visions., that has me hooked? Some fucking meaty metalcore riffing, that's what.

     It's not really anything I haven't heard before, which is why I'm not completely blown out of the water or anything, but "Truth Taker" has some punchy, heavy riffs that speak directly to that reptilian part of your brain that controls head-banging and foot-tapping. I can picture even the proggiest, most pretentious of metal pedants nod their heads both in time and in approval. If it's enough to warm the cockles of our cynical hearts, it should be enough to get you moving for a few minutes at least.

Friday: Pray for Sound - Sonder

     Don't let the naysayers sway you with their saying of nay: heavy music is in a pretty strong place right now. The recording industry as we've known it is still changing and shifting in response to the new realities of a modern, increasingly digital marketplace, but musicians continue to put out heavy music of every stripe, and it's us fans who're reaping the rewards.

     Case in point: post-rock and post-metal, with or without vocals, are burgeoning sub-genres with all kinds of different flavours for all kinds of different fans tucked away under their overarching umbrellas. For my Friday post, I'm going to point you in the direction of one such flavour, Boston's Pray for Sound.

     Pray for Sound is definitely more post-rock than post-metal, but that doesn't mean they lack the energy or musicianship that one might expect from a more metal band. Similarly, they fall in the instrumental camp of post-stuff, and yet they don't suffer from the lack of focus that can affect some bands that lack vocals.

     Instead they sit comfortably at an intersection of all of these elements, with enough technicality to hold the attention of a jaded metalhead such as myself, but not so much that their songs become centered on instrumentation instead of on songwriting. Songs like "Sonder" from the band's debut LP Dreamer still move from A to B to C without getting lost in the landscape of instrumental post-rock. If instrumental post-rock with a healthy helping of melody is at all your thing, check these boys from Beantown out.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Album of the Week: Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman

     The observant among you (or just the extremely set in the routine among you) may have noticed something missing from your week last week: an album recommendation from yours truly.

     Don't worry, I didn't forget about you, and I haven't called it quits with the Album of the Week feature just yet. The last couple of weeks have been a little busier than normal here at Loud Noises HQ, and last week's album just slipped through the cracks. By the time I got my shit together to do one, it was already the weekend, and I figure you deserve the full week to do your homework.

     On the other hand, I don't like the idea of just skipping last week, even though that's essentially what we're doing here today, and I'd like to play catch up a little bit, even if it is only symbolic. To that end, I've decided that this week's album pretty much has to be a double album. Is this cheating? Maybe, especially when you consider that the record(s) I've chosen weren't even released simultaneously, but who cares?

     So, without further ado, this week you're going to spend some time with one, or preferably both, of Coheed and Cambria's Afterman albums. I've been a fan of Coheed for years, but even if you haven't, I think you'll still appreciate the high calibre of the total Afterman package: poppy, rocking, proggy, songs that span a gamut of styles and moods; some sci-fi concepts woven into the lyrics (but not an inextricable part of them -- no need to find a Coheed wiki to get up to speed on their albums-spanning space opera); hell, even the album artwork is suitably far-out.

     As much as the band's sophomore In Keeping Secrets... might still be my favourite record from their catalogue, there's no question that The Afterman, Part I: Ascension and The Afterman, Part II: Descension represent the band's best work in years, and there's also no question that I eagerly look forward to whatever they release next. Give these records some spins this week and I'll bet you'll be clamouring for new Coheed too.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Circles - On My Way

     Another day, another new video to share with all of you. The universe just seems to keep dropping tasty tidbits into me lap. Thanks universe!

     The Australian djentlemen in Circles have been somewhat busy over the last few months, partly because they've been trekking around the world on one tour or another, and partly because they've been working on a couple of things. Thing One: perhaps earning the ire of early purchasers and pre-orderers, the guys have worked up a new, deluxe edition of the debut full-length Infinitas, with some extra tracks and some fancy pants packaging. Curse my impatience!

     Thing Two: a new music video to go along with the Infinitas re-release (or for said re-release to accompany, take your pick), this time around for the song "On My Way". It's not a straight performance video, but it's not a tour/behind the scenes-type video either. It's got a little bit of both going on, and the song is just as groovey and snakey as you could want too. Initially I was definitely a bigger fan of Circles debut EP The Compass than their debut LP, but "On My Way" is making me think I should give Infinitas a revisit or three. You should probably join me in doing so, for your own good.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Skyharbor - Patience

     As I've said before, there are days when it takes me a while to find a song that hooks me enough that I feel I need to share it with all of you. And then there are days when a perfect song more or less falls into my lap -- or, more accurately, our collective internet laps. The latest track from Sylosis, which I featured over the weekend, is one good example. Today's song is another.

     Those regular readers I'm so often addressing should know by now that I'm a big fan of both Skyharbor and their vocalist Dan Tompkins. I threw some money at the crowdfunding campaign for their sophomore album Guiding Lights and have been awaiting the record's release ever since, with only lead single "Evolution" to tide me over. And while "Evolution" is completely badass, I'm impatient and don't want to wait for the album's November release date to roll around before I get to hear some more new Skyharbor.

     Thankfully the guys have got me (and you!) covered. Today they publicly unveiled the video for second single "Patience" after giving it a limited release yesterday to their pledge campaign supporters. Musically the song's a bit of a ballad, meaning it's not necessarily as heavy as "Evolution" or some of their older material. But throw in the cool paper cutout puppet-style animated video, and fugedaboudit, you've got something pretty sweet on your hands. If Guiding Lights isn't a top ten of the year candidate, I'll eat my beard.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Interloper - A Red Letter Day

     As you may have noticed, I occasionally dabble in the internet's latest exercise in bandwaggonery, Throwback Thursday, both in a genuinely retro way and in a somewhat ironic, non-retro way (ie: my occasional "Techback Thursday" posts). But as I was listening to today's song, it occurred to me that I could just cut straight to the chase and make this thing un-ironic, non-retro, and totes badass.

     With that in mind, I give you the first installment of what I hope will become at least a semi-regular feature here at Loud Noises: Tech Tuesday. Is it the most original idea ever? Nope. Has it already been done before? Probably. Do I give any fucks at all? Sure don't.

     To kick things off today, I'm going with "A Red Letter Day" from Interloper, a proggy, instrumental band that's made up of members of Aenimus and Rings of Saturn. Now, I know that in the past the internet's had a decent amount of hate for Rings of Saturn and the idea that they can't actually replicate live what you hear on recording, but regardless of how you feel about Rings, and regardless of whether or not they have 100% of the chops they claim to possess, you should still check out "A Red Letter Day". It's nice and shreddy and techy, with a strong sense of melody, and even if were edited to shit to sound like it does, it still represents some solid composition. Keep an open mind and you might just have it blown.

     Oh, and happy inaugural Tech Tuesday everybody!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Mogwai - Teenage Exorcists

     Back when I was in high school, I had a friend or two who, like me, was into Scottish post-rock band Mogwai. We weren't many, and we weren't diehards or anything, but we definitely thought Mogwai had a cool song or two (some of which I've even featured here on Loud Noises over the years).

     Now, even back then I knew Mogwai wasn't a strictly instrumental outfit, but a lot of my favourite tracks by them were/are instrumentals, or at the very least lighter on the vocal side of things. Add in the fact that I haven't followed the band all that much since back then, and you might arrive at the conclusion that I can be perhaps be forgiven for sort of forgetting that lots (and lots) of Mogwai songs have vocals in 'em, even if they are awash in one effect or another.

     You might also be able to understand why, to my ear, the vocals in Mogwai's latest track, "Teenage Exorcists", seem so prominent, so central, and so initially out of place. Mogwai has a song with clean, intelligible vocals? Well, yeah, they've got a whole bunch. Duh.

     Anyways, my own musical ignorance, or mental block, or whatever you want to call it aside, "Teenage Exorcists" is a cool little cut from an upcoming EP of material, some new, some remixed, from the recording sessions for the band's last album Rave Tapes. If you're an avid Mogwai fan, you probably know about this EP and are perhaps a little more familiar with the band's musical direction of late. If, however, you're like me and haven't really paid Mogwai much attention in the last few years, then maybe "Teenage Exorcists" will be just the something-a-little-different to draw you back into the fold. So check it out -- just don't feed it after midnight.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sylosis - Mercy

     Today's song was an easy choice. A very easy choice. As soon as today's band announced the existence of, and release date for, their latest record Dormant Heart, and subsequently started teasing the release of this song, I knew it would be Song of the Day pretty much as soon as it dropped.

     Yesterday's interview with Eidola deserved an accompanying song (and you should go check out both the song and the interview, because Eidola are a rad bunch of dudes making some rad post-hardcore), which is why I didn't join everybody else in posting about the latest from badass Brits Sylosis when it made the rounds over the last day or two.

     But today is a new day and we've all got a new Sylosis song to jam, so let's get to it. "Mercy" is the first song to be released from the based forthcoming fourth LP Dormant Heart, due out in January, and while it perhaps isn't quite as shreddy or quite as blisteringly fast as some of my favourite Sylosis material, it is still new Sylosis, which means it does still have healthy doses of both.

     Now I just have to decide whether the tease that is "Mercy" will make waiting for January easier or harder.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Eidola - The Alchemist and The Architect

     By now you've hopefully had the chance to read a bit about Utah's Eidola. If you already knew about these guys, perhaps you learned something new from Andrew's answers to my interrogation. If you didn't know Eidola already, then perhaps you're ready for a more formal introduction. Either way, you know the drill when it comes to Twenty Questions, so here's your side order of Eidola-flavoured Song of the Day.

     There's a number of cool tracks I could feature from the band's The Great Glass Elephant (in addition to the song "Going Nowhere", which I wrote about back when I first discovered these guys, and which is an awesome song) but I think tonight I'm going to go with "The Alchemist and The Architect" as another good representation of what Eidola brings to the table.

     And what might that be? A high-energy, multi-vocal, multi-guitar mix of post-hardcore and rock, post or otherwise, that reminds me a little of Circa Survive or Death Before Disco, or even Closure in Moscow in their more restrained (read: less ridiculous) moments. If you're a fan of any of those bands, or if the aforementioned high-energy cocktail sounds tasty to you, why not check out "The Alchemist and The Architect" to get yourself a little more familiar with The Great Glass Elephant while you wait for Degeneraterra?

Twenty Questions with Andrew from Eidola

Hey everybody, happy Friday! It's been a while since the last Loud Noises interview, and it's time once again to rectify this unfortunate situation. As always, I try to keep things interesting around here, and to that end I've gone with a band that's somewhat less "metal" this time out, but no less awesome for it.
     So: who, or what, is Eidola? Why don't you read on to find out?

- LN: Why don’t we start by getting your name, what you play, and who you play it for.
     Andrew: My name is Andrew Wells, I sing and play guitar for a band called Eidola from Salt Lake City, Utah.

- LN: Band nomenclature is a constant fascination to me, so I’m going to subject you to the same question I ask everybody: where did your name come from? You’ve got some stuff on your Facebook relating to the Greek word “eidolon”, but I’m wondering how you came to this as the source of your name?
     Andrew: We went through hundreds of names when we started. We wanted something short and simple, but with some contextual weight to what we wanted to do as a project. Originally I wanted to name the band Jagannatha after a Hindu deity. One of the first songs we wrote together was entitled Eidola from the core semblance of multiple ideals being grouped together as an amalgamate. After a week of playing together and writing lyrics to that song we decided to swap the names. It just felt better that way and the lyrics ended up fitting much better under Jagannatha.

- LN: How did Eidola first come together?
     Andrew: Eidola first started after my previous band Follow The Earth broke up, of which Brandon and James were both a part of. After a few weeks of writing by myself I met up with my old high school nemesis Matt Dommer and it was magic. Eventually we recruited James Johnson and Harold Riding to start mapping out songs and developing live show aesthetics. We recruited Zac Bryant (My Fair Fiend) and recorded a home demo 4-song EP. When Zac bounced to play in Sea Swallowed Us Whole we recruited Matt Hansen and fell in love. I had known that dude for years from multiple local bands and always admired his playing, so I asked him if he wanted to join up with us. Brandon and I are brothers, so we kept in contact for about a year after FTE broke up. When we signed to Blue Swan and started writing Degeneraterra I wanted to take the band to new heights and recruited him on guitar. The guy is insanely talented and we could not be more stoked to spend sweaty nights in the van with him.

- LN: Your music isn’t exactly overly technical, but it isn’t exactly simple either. Do any of you have any musical training, or are you all essentially self-taught?
     Andrew: The definition of technicality is always funny to me because it's incredibly subjective! I think the reason we didn't do a lot of crazy shredding on The Great Glass Elephant was because we were really focused on creating a conceptual atmosphere and concentrated more on the dynamic elements than the mixed meter structures and polyrhythms. The new album's concept certainly called for much more technically inclined parts matching the dynamic elements and we're really excited to release it. A few of us are self-taught, and a couple of us have some formal training, so it creates an interesting balance.

- LN: You guys are from Utah, which is not necessarily somewhere those of us out here on the internet might think of as a hotbed of interesting music, heavy or otherwise. Prove us ignorant and narrow-minded and tell me about anybody cool I should know about from your neck of the woods.
     Andrew: Hahaha that is the best way I've ever heard that phrased! Utah is surprisingly rich with talent. Whether you're looking for metal, indie-folk, pop, electro-hippie-jam-stank band music; Utah has got you covered. Cool bands I would recommend checking out? Visitors, Wearing Thin, Captives, Grass, I Am Designer and My Fair Fiend are all incredible bands that I would highly recommend looking into.

- LN: Like I said, I dig names, so I’m curious about the name of your latest record, Degeneterra. The meaning, so to speak, of that title might seem somewhat obvious, in an etymological sort of way, but I’m curious about what it means to you guys.
     Andrew: So DegeneRAterra was a title we came up with when observing the scope of the album. We wanted to offer up something that really captured a conceptual piece that James and I had been refining for like six years. The original idea for the name came from the physics term for the third stage of the entropic cycle of the universe, The Degenerate Era. After a few weeks of kicking that name around I think it was Matt that suggested we bring the words together and add the extra "r" to add real world relevance to the term in an attempt to create something we hadn't really seen or heard before. Degeneraterra was the result, and we could not be more satisfied with that decision.

- LN: From what I can tell online, it looks like Degenterra is your second full-length album. How has the writing and recording of Degeneterra differed from that of The Great Glass Elephant?
     Andrew: It was completely different! Without going into too many details the differences were stark. Writing for TGGE was pretty scattered and laid back, over the course of many months. Degeneraterra was a much more consolidated writing process with a very detailed conceptual basis in mind. I quit my job for six months and locked myself in my house to write, refine, re-write and demo out Degeneraterra. The Great Glass Elephant was recorded over the span of like seven months in various shady locations. It was done pretty much DIY with the help of a guy named Randy in Provo, UT. Degeneraterra was recorded at the incredible Pus Cavern in Sacramento with Josh and Will, so the experience was completely different. Will and Josh were hands on producers too, which we really liked, and the outcome is vastly different than anything we've done to this point.

- LN: How did you guys get hooked up with Will and Blue Swan Records?
     Andrew: We got hooked up with Will through Sergio Medina of Stolas. We opened for Stolas on the "Living Creatures" tour and we just hit it off. I ended up giving them a copy of TGGE, word got back to Will and we had some lengthy talks. After a while of pre-pro demos being sent back and forth we worked out a deal, drove to Sac, and made an album.

- LN: You’re about to release Degeneterra this fall – what’s next? Maybe some touring?
     Andrew: We are indeed! The wait has been arduous for a lot of people that have been with us from the start, but all good things come with time. We are working with Josh and Will to ensure this is the best release it can possibly be before we put it out. Once it's out there we want to tour as much as humanly possible. 400 shows a year? Yes please!

- LN: Speaking of touring, any plans to come north of the 49th? Canada – specifically eastern Ontario – would love to have you...
     Andrew: I would absolutely love to come to Canada! If we can swing it, we'll be there in 2015 ;)

- LN: How about a few quick ones, like: Dance Gavin Dance or Secret Band?
     Andrew: DGD fasho. Love me some Tilian and Tim. And now Aric from HTS has been killing it with them, so yeah. DGD.

- LN: Favourite Blue Swan labelmate?
     Andrew: Stolas. We wouldn't be where we are without them. Plus, Sergio and I are pretty damn close. I would do anything for that guy.

- LN: Band you wish were a Blue Swan labelmate? (Hint hint, Will...)
     Andrew: That's a tough one! If we're offering hints to Will, I would probably have to say my boys Visitors from SLC.

- LN: Favourite city or venue to play?
     Andrew: SACRAMENTO! Hands down. We opened for Birds and HTS on a tour last summer and it was amazing. The crowd was insanely receptive and we loved every minute of it. Eidola has never played there, but Houston slays pretty hard. We would love to get out there and show Crimson Arrow and Mosaic Dream some love.

- LN: Worst tour or show story?
     Andrew: Oh Jesus. . . There are a few. The worst tour story I have is way too long. Basically, we got stranded in Los Banos, CA on our way to Los Angeles. We took our van into the shop and the mechanics gave us some bull shit story and said it would be a week to get it fixed. We ended up renting a u-haul and towing the van, trailer, and gear to Vegas only to find out the fucking mechanics cut our breaks and fried our engine computer.

- LN: Now for a few of my standards: If you could make everyone stop what they’re doing and listen to one song right this minute, what song would it be?
     Andrew: "Something" by Snarky Puppy. Lalah is one of the most talented singers I have ever heard. Her voice is mind blowing.

- LN: Dream Tour: who would you guys open for, or who would open for you?
     Andrew: Dream tour for me would be: Deftones, Circa Survive, From Indian Lakes, Eidola. Hands down.

- LN: Almost done. What have you been listening to lately?
     Andrew: Personally, I've been listening to a lot of Snarky Puppy, but I've always got a slew of artists on repeat. The new From Indian Lakes jams are incredible, Hail The Sun's new album "Wake" is one of the best records I've ever heard, and I'm extremely excited for the new Stolas jams.

- LN: Last one! What’s your favourite metal album of all time?
     Andrew: Favorite metal album?! Too many to choose from! Probably Panopticon by ISIS or Paranoid by Black Sabbath. Both of those albums were what got me into heavy music in the first place and will always remain sacred in my heart.

     As usual, my Jerry Springer-esque Final Thoughts before I wrap this one up:
- I know Eidola isn't a heavy-as-shit metal band, but Hindu deities = heavy-as-shit, metal band name-wise. Just saying.
- I don't know what I was expecting when I asked about Eidola's worst tour story, but somehow I'm not at all surprised to find that it involves the band's van. If I ever win a shitload of money in the lottery or something, I'm going to buy some bands some better vans.
- I'd see that tour, Andrew. Make it happen. ;-)
- Hail the Sun's new album Wake *is* pretty awesome. Methinks those guys have some more Songs of the Day in their future...
- Excellent choice of metal albums. Panopticon's where it's at in terms of Isis, and obviously Paranoid is a piece of heavy metal history.

     And there you have it. Another day, another round of questions. Got a suggestion for who I should grill next? Leave a comment, and then stay tuned!

Friday, 10 October 2014

White Arms of Athena - Heavy Sleep

     One listen to the first single from the forthcoming sophomore White Arms of Athena album and I think you'll agree that Converge's Kurt Ballou definitely left his mark.

     The band recorded White Arms of Athena, due out in December, at God City with Kurt, and I think "Heavy Sleep" is dirtier and more abrasive for it. Converge's brand of hardcore/post-hardcore has always been rough and jagged around the edges, and while White Arms of Athena aren't the same kind of band at all, it certainly sounds like they've had a bit of Kurt and Co.'s grit applied to their more metally sound.

     Will the whole album be reflective of this? Who knows. We'll have to wait until December to find out. For now, just listen to "Heavy Sleep" and check out that crazy album art. That's some trippy shit right thar.

Thursday: Misery Signals - One Day I'll Stay Home

     I know I've bucked the trendiness of Throwback Thursday a few times by doing stuff like Thrashback Thursday, but today I've got a little catching up to do, and to do it I've decided to jump on the interwebz bandwagon and throw it back for my Thursday post, old school.

     Regular readers might remember that I'm a pretty big Misery Signals fan, and have been for a long time, to the point that Misery Signals even has the power to get me to like pop-punk veterans Fall Out Boy... or at least one fourth of pop-punk veterans Fall Out Boy.

     Being in high school, and then at university as an undergrad, in the early 2000's, it was easy (and indeed somewhat fashionable amongst my metalhead friends) to hate on Fall Out Boy. They were big and catchy and everywhere, and they certainly weren't heavy. (Yes, yes, I know the band's got some back-in-the-day connections to the Chicago hardcore scene, doesn't make them any heavier in my book...)

     But they, or at least the aforementioned 1/4 of them, were heavy enough to appear on the 2006 Misery Signals album Mirrors. Specifically, Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump had enough of the heavy in him to provide some backing vocals for one of that album's strongest tracks, "One Day I'll Stay Home". Whether or not you like his work with Fall Out Boy, I don't think there's any question that Pat's work on this track fits perfectly. Check it out and maybe have your opinion of Fall Out Boy shifted just a little.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Wednesday: The Contortionist - Ebb & Flow

     It's been a few weeks since the atmospheric prog djentlemen in The Contortionist released their third album Language, and now that I've had some time to sit with this record I've decided that there's at least another day's worth of song to be featured there.

     Initially, I didn't react as strongly or as positively as I did to the band's last album; I really liked Intrinsic when it came out, so much so that I named it one of my favourite albums of 2012. I was little disappointed to find that Language did hook me quite so instantly or quite so hard. But that's not to say that Language isn't a good record, merely that it's a bit of a grower and not a shower, so to speak.

     For me at least, Language has improved with every play, and I'm liking it more and more as time goes by, thanks in no small part to penultimate track "Ebb & Flow". True to its title, "Ebb & Flow" does a good job of incorporating the potentially disparate heavier and lighter elements that are The Contortionist's stock-in-trade. Have a listen -- if you dig this one chances are Language will grow on you too.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Xerath - 2053

     Normally I'm not the hugest fan of symphonic metal -- typically too much overwrought 'cinematic' drama and epicness, not enough actual heavy for my taste -- but the Brits in Xerath just might be able to change my mind with their latest album III.

     See, Xerath don't just take some mediocre metal and put an orchestra behind it (or, worse, put some orchestral keyboard samples behind it). Instead, songs like "2053", for which the band has recently released a lyric video, take heavy-ass death metal riffing, prog said riffing up a smidge, and then gloss the whole thing over with just the right amount of symphonic seasoning.

     The result, at least in the case of "2053", is a killer track that had me hitting 'replay' a handful of times when I first heard it. Check it out and see if you've got the same repeat reaction.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Thomas Giles - Mutilated World

     If you're a fan of Between the Buried and Me, you're no doubt aware that the band recently released their Future Sequence: Live at Fidelitorium live DVD/Blu-Ray performance of The Parallax II: Future Sequence in its entirety (what a mouthful!) But you might be somewhat less cognizant of the fact that the band's frontman Tommy Rogers is a little over a month from releasing his second solo effort under the Thomas Giles moniker.

     Or maybe you're super aware of this already, I don't know. Maybe you've already heard "Mutilated World", the first single from the upcoming Modern Noise, and discovered that it's pretty different from Between the Buried and Me while still having flashes of heavy-ish-ness. The little guitar run/drum fill bits that serve as transitions at a couple of points in the song seem particularly BTBAM-ish to my ear, as if the band were experimenting with their kind of style in a new musical context.

     But it's a Thomas Giles record, not a BTBAM record, which means the whole thing will likely be a somewhat mellower affair. Does that mean you as a metalhead won't find anything to get behind? Not necessarily. Check out "Mutilated World" and see if you dig Tommy's vocal work in a non-prog/tech/death setting.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sunday: Bloodshot Dawn - Smoke and Mirrors

     I've written about British melodic death metal band Bloodshot Dawn and their upcoming album Demons before, but now that the band has released a video for a track from Demons I can point you in the direction of the very latest in well done, heavy-ass melodeath.

     "Smoke and Mirrors" checks all the right boxes and covers all the right bases for this kind of music: lots of good, meaty riffs; tight drumming; evil-sounding leads; good growls at both the lower and higher ends of the scream spectrum; and all of it done fast and with pummeling relentlessness.

     If this sounds like something you'd jam, or if you're at all into this little corner of the metal world (melodeath with some modern thrash), I highly doubt you'll be disappointed with Bloodshot Dawn, Demons, and "Smoke and Mirrors". Click the link above, and then consider how great these guys are going to be in a couple of albums if Demons is just their sophomore effort.

Saturday: Instar - We're Getting Older

     Just a quick late-night post for today, with something a little weird and spacey (figuratively and literally) to get you thinking this weekend.

     "We're Getting Older" is the latest track from self-proclaimed purveyors of adventure prog Instar, and its nearly six minutes of shifting grooves and ambient synthiness (aka figurative spaceyness) feature several guest session appearances from a variety of contributors, including Darkest Hour drummer Travis Orbin.

     Add in the fact that the song is lyrically sparse and instead interspersed spoken-word bits primarily concerned with the image of a starship and the listener's reactions and speculations and emotions on seeing said starship for the first time and you end up with the aforementioned literal spaceyness. For maximum effect, have a listen while staring up at the stars and contemplating our insignificance in the universe.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Mezonz - Untangling the Quantum Pull

     If I were a gambling man, I'd be willing to bet that you probably haven't heard about today's band before. But I'd also be willing to be that, if your musical tastes align at all with mine -- which there's a halfway decent chance they do, since you're reading this right now -- you'll be glad you checked them out.

     Atlanta's Mezonz self-identifies as a two-man jazz-prog outfit on their Bandcamp page, but that's a bit of a dry description, and one that leaves a great deal to the imagination. A better approximation of the band's sound, especially on recently released EP Harmonic Oscillators might be to say that Mezonz sounds a little like a slightly more metal-flavoured amalgam of Animals as Leaders and Chimp Spanner (if the latter weren't quite so guitar-centric): heavy, proggy, and groovy instrumental stuff that's technical but not overly so.

      Since it's Friday and you've probably got all kinds of Friday-night-type shit to do, I'm going to forgo recommending thirteen-and-a-half-minute EP closer "Projective Space: Fields of Matter" (which is a badass thirteen-and-a-half minutes, so you should really check it out, too) and instead suggest that you start exploring the world of Mezonz with "Untangling the Quantum Pull". It's a much more reasonable four-minutes-and-some, and better yet is a prime example of some of that grooving I was talking about. Tasty.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Star Ark - Prey

     I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there's some sort of magic in the air in Australia. Maybe it's the Fosters.

     Tonight's peal of thunder from down under comes courtesy of one man project Star Ark. On his latest EP God Complex Avatar, Neil Flavelle has managed to craft a cool sound that's grounded firmly in metalcore but also shot through with enough twists and turns to still sound fresh.

     I don't know what the best way to describe Star Ark to you is, so I'll just let you discover for yourself. Start with "Prey", the opening track from the aforementioned God Complex Avatar, and see how it fits you.

Album of the Week: East of the Wall - Redaction Artifacts

     This week's album is another instance of me putting your money where my mouth is, so to speak. What in the fuck do I mean by that? Well, it's not unheard of that I recommend a song to you on any given day with the caveat that, sure, song X is great on its own, but put back into the context of album Y it's even better.

     In other words, I often tell you about bands and artists whose work is best experienced in complete, album-sized chunks rather than one song at a time. These are the albums that, for one reason or another, demand to be heard in full -- no skimming just the singles, no skipping the "boring" stuff, just put in on and let it go.

     One of the aforementioned possible reasons for taking in the whole of an album like, say, East of the Wall's 2013 record Redaction Artifacts, is sheer density. There's just so much going on in East of the Wall's intricate, layered compositions on Redaction that it takes more than one song to get your head around the band's sound.

     But like a Tootsie Roll, I promise you the time investment will pay off when you get to the creamy centre. The only downside? No full album streams floating around that I've found, so you'll either have to content yourself with the band's previous album The Apologist or you'll just have to do yourself a favour and pick yourself up a copy of Redaction Artifacts.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Queens of the Stone Age - If Only

     Venerable stoner rock/post-rock/whatever band Queens of the Stone Age have been around long enough, and developed a back catalogue deep enough, that everybody's bound to have their own opinion about what's good and what's not.

     While we're not going to debate which album is the band's best (because that's clearly 2000's Rated R) we could spend some time one which album is most underrated. Or most overlooked. Either way, the answer is Queens' 1998 self-titled debut. Most Queens fans would likely acknowledge how great Rated R and Songs for the Deaf are, but might also forget that Queens of the Stone Age is a great record full of great songs.

     Grooves like today's song. I thought perhaps you could use something a little more chill today, both because it's Humpday and because I've been assaulting you with technical death metal for the last two days, so I've decided to go with the laid-back groove of "If Only" from Queens of the Stone Age. Sit back, turn the volume up, and let your fondness for newer Queens of the Stone Age be swept away in a wash of fuzzed-out guitars.