DEMO REVIEW: Enmachined – Thrash Assault (BANGLADESH)

Contributed by Jake Holmes

For those of you who have been keeping up with my column, you’ve probably been made aware of my extra-curricular activities of playing in a death metal and a black metal band.  And while my journey through metal’s history has led me to the more extreme side of things, I still have fond memories of how I was first introduced to this music that would completely encompass my life — thrash metal.  As alluded to in my review of Slayer’s performance at Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2013, my first step into metal was through the thrash metal of the first three Metallica albums, Slayer, Anthrax, and other basics that would give way to faster, more violent thrash, which would give way to death metal and so on and so forth in rough chronological order.  Unfortunately, it’s also a metal form that has suffered greatly in terms of contemporaries keeping up with the classics in a fate that death and black metal haven’t suffered.  This peaked with the “retro thrash” invasion of several years ago that showed a legion of acts who somehow made playing at lightning-fast speed seem boring, and with a few exceptions, there’s not many from that wave that I would ever listen to when I could be listening to Rigor Mortis, Exhorder, or Slaughter (to provide a few examples you should absolutely listen to).  Whether it’s the modern production or beating the same ideas into the ground (see also “thrashing for the sake of thrash”), modern thrash, for all its speed, just hasn’t kept up.

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This brings me to Bangladesh’s Enmachined, who provided their debut demo “Thrash Assault” to Southern Decay for review.  There are three songs on this demo, so we can look at each one individually.  “Loggerhead” initiates the thrashing with a mid-paced number that features twin-guitar riffing and some interesting harmonies, although it’s nothing that hasn’t been done by numerous bands from thrash’s past.  The demo hits its first hurdle in the form of the curious vocal style that appears prominently throughout “Loggerhead”, and as we’ll soon discover, the demo as a whole.  The singing on the “Thrash Assault” demo is a bizarre blend of a bark and a throaty half-singing that brings Overkill’s Blitz Ellsworth to mind, albeit lacking control to the detriment of the demo as a whole.  This strange ululation is neither melodic enough to sing along to, nor aggressive enough to add a violence to the music as a whole, resulting in a negative impact on “Thrash Assault”.

The title track (“Thrash Assault”, if you have the memory of a goldfish) follows “Loggerhead” and manages to pick up the pace after a somewhat rough start to the demo.  The nimble riffing recalls certain moments from Death Angel’s “The Ultra-Violence”, and while there are moments of promise (mainly in the form of the instrumental guitar gymnastics), the songwriting again doesn’t display anything that hasn’t been brought to the thrash table before.  I would say that it is the most energetic song on the demo, and it would have likely served better as the introductory piece on “Thrash Assault” due to its speedy tempo and precisely-played guitar parts.

“Piranha” (not an Exodus cover) begins with a distorted bass riff and an ominous lead line that quickly gives way to a slower groove that is maintained for the entirety of the song.  Instrumentally, the song is relatively inoffensive; however, the wailing of the vocalist is jarring and ill-fitting with the chunky riffing, and the mid-to-slow pace of the song fails to retain interest through the song’s four-minute and forty-five second runtime.  The singer provides numerous falsetto wails, which is a style that is very difficult to pull off if your name isn’t Kim Petersen (King Diamond to most), and Enmachined’s constant caterwauling fails to contribute much to the atmosphere of the instrumental accompaniment.  Perhaps this should be something that all bands should keep in mind — if your song shares a title with one of the greatest songs of its genre, it needs to be one hell of a face-ripper (personally I would just advise choosing a more original title, but that’s just a personal opinion).


Production-wise, this demo is very clean, with each instrument being given appropriate spot in the mix.  The guitars have a modern crunch to them and the lead playing has a solid tone to it that is responsible for the most enjoyable moments on “Thrash Assault.”  As one could conclude from this review so far, the vocals are at the forefront, although as we’ve mentioned this is not to the demo’s benefit.  Bass is audible throughout the demo, with it having a fuller presence than the rest of the songs on “Piranha”.  The backbone of “Thrash Assault”, the drumming, also has a notable place, with a crisp snare and overall positive playing.  For its flaws, the way that this demo is produced is beneficial as a whole, with this style of thrash metal being served well through a cleaner production.

Although Enmachined have their hearts in the right place, the execution is ultimately lacking, and I wouldn’t be able to recommend this over any release from the golden age of thrash metal.  If “Thrash Assault” happens to get your head banging, then by all means enjoy, but I wouldn’t be able to join in.  As a side note, if you’re a thrash kid at heart who is interested in some local talent, I’d recommend checking out Austin’s Birth A.D. and Killeen’s Hexlust, two bands who are carrying on the thrash lineage that both pay respect to the ways of old while injecting new venom into the genre.  Fans of black/thrash can also explore Austin’s Widower, who are quickly proving to be fully capable of the kind of face-ripping furor that speed metal needs.  In the meantime, if you want to check out Enmachined, you can go to the Salute Records Bandcamp to hear the whole demo at the link below:

http://saluterecords.bandcamp.com/album/enmachined-thrash-assault-demo-salr-161

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Jake Holmes is a Central Texas heavy metal writer who lives by the pen and will (likely) die by the sword.  Originally from a suburban town outside of North Austin, Holmes moved to San Antonio during his college years.  After several years and thousands of miles driven to see shows in San Antonio and Austin, he returned to the Austin area due to his graduation and continued to see as many shows as humanly possible.  His interests include going to shows, blasting Carnivore as loudly as possible on the way to shows, and sleeping upon his return to his home from shows.  His “dislikes” include hearing loss, traffic, and unnecessary bonus tracks on album reissues.
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Review Eyehategod – Red 7, Austin TX 12/30/13

Contributed by Jake Holmes


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If you wanted to close out 2013 with some holiday cheer, positive vibes, and uplifting music, then Monday night’s Eyehategod show was not for you.  The Louisianan nihilists brought their all-encompassing negativity to Red 7 on December 30th, and anyone looking for an experience in Southern aural violence to combat that pesky holiday cheer that goes around at this time of the year was rewarded with one of the best shows of 2013.

This review will begin at Eyehategod’s performance, since two of the opening bands were not to my taste (Houston’s Venomous Maximus were on the flyer but didn’t play due to a member undergoing surgery as stated on their Facebook page), and I’ve covered Curse the Heavens before in a previous column (and I did enjoy their set, so check ‘em out if they play near you).  I did spend some time visiting the always-quality Encore Records at their new location on 809 E. 6th Street and snagged Widower’s “Goat Throne” EP and Mala Suerte’s “The Shadow Tradition”, which were both awesome when I was able to listen to them the next day.  Side note: Remember folks, support your local bands and record stores, and that means buy their stuff!

I ventured back to Red 7 after dropping off the spoils of my quest and at the midnight hour (or at least, very close to it), it was time for a sonic beatdown by way of crushingly-heavy guitar riffs.  If memory serves correctly, the title track of “Take As Needed For Pain” kicked off the band’s exercise in Southern sludge, with “Story of the Eye” following it to create a raucous mosh pit.  In fact I took a couple of hits to the back of my skull, but that’s a good pit for you (I will also use this head injury to blame for any errors in the setlist instead of just lazy journalism).

The atmosphere in Eyehategod’s music conveys the worst experiences a person could have; it is the sonic representation of total self-loathing, the consequences of addiction, and violence directed at anyone around you (or even yourself).  Stylistically, Eyehategod play a mixture of doom metal (inspired by the very best riffing of Black Sabbath) and hardcore punk with notable influences from blues and southern rock.  This style is called “sludge metal”, and Eyehategod are the genre’s absolute peak (even if the band themselves do not prefer to be labeled under a single category if the liner notes to “Take As Needed For Pain” are any indicator).  The band even experiments in guitar feedback that manages to illustrate chaos and composition in a paradox that is part of the appeal of Eyehategod.  All of these elements work together to create a band that is unlike any other in the sludge genre, and the impact of their live show speaks for itself, with even causal fans of the band being certainly overwhelmed by their intensity.

The majority of the setlist seemed to focus on material from “Take As Needed For Pain” (including “$30 Bag” and “Shoplift” among other crowd favorites) and “Dopesick”, although the setlist had some surprises as well including the excellent newer song “New Orleans Is The New Vietnam”, which only proves that Eyehategod are still as angry as they were when they first started.  “Jack Ass In The Will of God” was also a highlight of the evening, with the second half of the song borrowing a riff from one of my personal favorite Eyehategod songs, ‘Southern Discomfort” from the 7” split with 13.  Thankfully, Eyehategod’s discography has a consistent level of quality so the band can play just about anything from any album without causing the audience to bat an eye (unless the six-minute sound collage “Disturbance” from “Take As Needed For Pain” counts, which might raise a few eyebrows).

One of the things about Eyehategod that draws me to them is their guitar riffing style.  Just about all of the riffs are very simple, and anyone who has been playing a guitar for a few months could probably figure them out with relative ease.  However, there is a feeling in the riffs that cannot be duplicated by simply copying the notes – it’s the chug of “Blank” or the surly swing of “Dixie Whiskey” that would still sound off if played by anyone other than Jimmy Bower or Brian Patton, the band’s two guitar players.  The bass also holds a vital role in Eyehategod’s songs, particularly on the “Take As Needed for Pain” album, and bassist Gary Mader (who joined the band in 2001) played every bowel-rumbling note with the accuracy and groove that one would expect from Eyehategod’s four-stringer.  Although longtime drummer Joey LaCaze passed away earlier in 2013, the newly-recruited Aaron Hill did justice to this fallen percussionist.  Hill faithfully reproduced the loose-yet-precise style necessary for Eyehategod’s bluesy Southern punk metal that held down a solid base for his bandmates to riff over, such as in “Masters of Legalized Confusion.”  With this style of music, anything less than A-grade rhythm could seriously compromise the entire set, but I am pleased to state that Hill’s drumming exceeded expectations.

No description of an Eyehategod show is complete without speaking of the band’s scribe of suffering, Mike IX Williams.  There are very few people able to convey the level of pure negativity that Williams is capable of, and every lyric yelled out tells tales of horrible choices and worse consequences.   Mike’s vocal style may not be for everyone, but it is impossible to imagine anyone else shouting out the chronicles of tortuous times as he does so masterfully.  Between songs or whenever the stringed instrumentalists needed to tune, Williams riffed with the crowd in a surprisingly light-spirited manner, telling jokes about legally-troubled rapper Gucci Mane or about stories from the road.

The set lasted about ninety-minutes, with plenty of classics to appease old-school fans as well as some newer material which showed that after twenty-five years of dysfunctional family abuse (as noted on the shirt I purchased at the show), Eyehategod haven’t lost an ounce of venom.  Eyehategod laying waste to Red 7 was the best possible way to close out 2013, unless you’re into that feel-good holiday spirit that we talked about earlier.  If that’s the case, what are you doing at an Eyehategod show anyway?

On a related note, I didn’t do a full article on this, but here were my top ten favorite shows (excluding festivals) of 2013, ranked in chronological order and not in order of preference.  I left out shows that I played with either of my bands as well.  Here’s to many more in 2014!

1. Absu – Dallas, The Boiler Room
2. Total Abuse – Austin, The Annex
3. War Master – Austin, Infest, Beerland (tie because I’m indecisive)
4. Shawn Whitaker – Austin, Headhunters
5. Deicide – Austin, Infest
6. Watain – Austin, Red 7
7. Rottenness – Austin, Headhunters
8. Witchtrap – San Antonio, The Korova
9. Disfigured – San Marcos, The Triple Crown
10. Eyehategod – Austin, Red 7

Honorable Mentions: Leftover Crack at Beauty Ballroom, Dropdead at Red 7, Dying Fetus at Red 7, Birth A.D. at Zombies, Suicidal Tendencies at The Mohawk

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Jake Holmes is a Central Texas heavy metal writer who lives by the pen and will (likely) die by the sword.  Originally from a suburban town outside of North Austin, Holmes moved to San Antonio during his college years.  After several years and thousands of miles driven to see shows in San Antonio and Austin, he returned to the Austin area due to his graduation and continued to see as many shows as humanly possible.  His interests include going to shows, blasting Carnivore as loudly as possible on the way to shows, and sleeping upon his return to his home from shows.  His “dislikes” include hearing loss, traffic, and unnecessary bonus tracks on album reissues.

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We hope you are having a great 2014 so far.  Just a friendly reminder…..January 25th 2014 – Austin, TX @ Dirty Dog
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SHOW REVIEW: Megadeth – 12/11/13 ACL Live, AUSTIN TX

Contributed by Tristan Spears

Financially this has been the worst year for my family, and especially this month. Xmas, my birthday, we are struggling to make ends meet.

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I was looking forward to going to see Megadeth on December 11th, but once I realized there’s no way to afford a  ticket, I let it settle in that I wasn’t gonna go. Today though, today dec 5th, 6 days until Megadeth at Acl Live the best thing that could have happened , happened. I won a pair of tickets on 93.7 KLBJ, THE ROCK OF AUSTIN!!! I’m fucking goin to MEGADETH!!!! (Ya I’ve seen them plenty of time, but it never gets old for me)

The day is upon us! It’s the day of MEGA who……MEGADETH!!!! It’s 8:15 there’s a small crowd of maybe 500 people in the whole theater.

First band is Nonpoint. Idk anything about them. The crowd is having literally ZERO fuckin reaction and the band sounds like its from the Mrs. Fields fucking cookie cutter factory! The guitarists act like they’re in a “Hardcore” band (hardcore in quotes cause hardcore ain’t hardcore and more) while the drummer thinks he’s in Soulfly. Needles to say (then why say it) the drummer is the best part.  Although the band does have the Flood lights in the cabs which I’ve always been a fan of. I just love when a band has theatrics. As long as they WORK. This band is like “Korn meets Static X”

Up next is Fear Factory and even though I have never fallowed them at all, I am excited to see them.

Not being wise to Fear Factory I must say I like what what I’m hearing/seeing. I’m getting the feeling of Ministry but without their industrial aspect. Yeah there’s the same style chugging that the crappy “hardcore” bands are doing now a days, but this… This is done correctly.  Of course when I say industrial I base my idea of industrial off of Ministry ( RIP MIKE SCACCIA) and Skinny Puppy, Mortiis,  etc. This is nothing like that. It’s as if Mike Scaccia was playing lazily and didn’t give a fuck. It’d still be good, but not great. As the Fear Factory set comes to an end, I realize that the guitarist Dino; in every song starts or at least has the same style chugging, but somehow… (Maybe its because as a guitarist my ears are tuned for this shit) it always sounds different. I give’em a 6 outta 10.

The crowd swells to about 1500 and
Megadeth comes on 13 minutes early… Open with Hangar 18 and just fuckin BRING IT, as usual. I was not writing this as Megadeth was playing, it was just way to good of a show to not be completely focused on it. They played Peace Sells, She Wolf, Tornado of Souls, Holy Wars, Trust,and more.

Setlist:
Hangar 18
Wake Up Dead
In My Darkest Hour
Tornado of Souls
Sweating Bullets
Set the World Afire
A Tout Le Monde
Kingmaker
Trust
She-Wolf
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells
Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

All fuckin great songs. As a Megadeth fan, it’s never enough. I was up in the balcony for the show. This was a angle I wasn’t used to seeing my favorites bands in. Acl live is a great venue with good sound and not a bad seat in the house. From my angle I could see all I needed to see of the stage and also enjoy a sky view of glorious PIT. Viewing a mosh pit from above is a new and old school experience .

Just before Holy Wars Dave talked to the audience. I was ready for his usual spill of the mouth about how the government is fucked. Instead he says something about Xmas and finishes quickly with all I want is a government who can get along. I think we can all agree with that.

Over all the show was great and way too short. Until next time Dave!

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tristan
Tristan Spears was born into a religious family and found his escape in metal at young age. At 15 he hit the open road and traveled all over the U.S. and Canada bangin as many chicks as possible to the best metal every written. Six years ago he arrived in Austin, TX and made it his home. In 2010 he started Motorbreath Entertainment as way to help his friends bands get good shows. It took off quickly and he has booked such acts as Destruction, Exhorder, WARBEAST, Heathen, 3 inches of blood, and many, many more

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SHOW REVIEW: Morbid Angel, Vex, Flesh Hoarder, and Vesperian Sorrorow – Red 7 ATX, 12/3/13

Contributed by Jake Holmes

When I was 17, I bought — for the unbelievable price of $5 — an album from a band I had only heard stories of up to at that point, a band named Morbid Angel.  I had spent the last several years working my way through metal’s history and was just starting to delve into the absu of Florida death metal, as I was pretty much starting with the ‘70’s and ‘80’s of metal and working my way through time.  Having worshipped the death/thrash of Slaughter and Voor and the brutal speed of Exhorder, the pure death metal of bands like Obituary was a kick in the face to me, and I knew I had to seek out more.  When I bought Morbid Angel‘s third album, “Covenant”, I knew I was getting into something evil.  The artwork on the CD itself was extremely unnerving, with arcane sigils and depictions of blasphemy that went even beyond Slayer’s vile exaltations to the depths.  As was the case when I heard “Raining Blood” for the first time, I dove into the Acheron as I blasted the album on my way home.  I was hooked.  I was convinced that Morbid Angel were absolutely the most evil band in existence, devouring “Altars of Madness” and “Blessed Are The Sick” with equal passion as I continued to feed my appetite for death metal from the Abyss.

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Fast-forward to almost seven years later and Morbid Angel were announced to be playing “Covenant” from start-to-finish in my hometown with some of my favorite local bands opening up, and it should have gone without saying that there was no way I was missing this.  As I was not interested in seeing them on their previous tour after they released an album whose name I shall not mention (and whose spirit I do not embrace), this would be the first time I would be able to witness Morbid Angel live after wanting to see them for all those years.  With tickets purchased for me and my girlfriend, we arrived at Red 7 to a packed house and unusually-excellent weather, so things were looking pretty damn good for the performance minus the signs that were posted everywhere that reminded us that if anyone even so much as looked like they were stage diving, the entire show would be over before you could say “WHIPS CRACK!” (but what can you do about that?)

Having seen many a national touring show with a subpar local backing, I am pleased to report that the local support for this show was top-notch, with some of Central Texas’ most professional talent taking the stage to set the stage for Morbid Angel.  The melodic Vesperian Sorrow kicked off the festivities with a symphonic serving of extreme metal songs that are thoughtfully composed and precisely played.  Symphonic metal of any kind is not usually my cup of tea but Vesperian Sorrow play the style very well, mixing choral keyboards (delivered by backing tracks, with former keyboardist Subversaph switching to bass recently) with wicked guitar riffing and thunderous percussion.  They were joined by Erika from Austin death metal band Morgengrau for “Casting Dawn Into Shadow” (full disclosure: I also happen to be a member of Morgengrau), who provided soaring clean vocals in contrast to singer Donn Donni’s harsh growling.  Additional backing vocals were provided throughout the set by bassist Subversaph, which were fortunately prominent in the mix as they added power to the band’s already-strong vocal style.  Vesperian Sorrow’s set brought a welcome diversity to Tuesday’s bill, showing that there was something for everyone throughout the show.

Flesh Hoarder’s death metal attack was the closest to Morbid Angel’s style on Tuesday’s bill, albeit taken to several further levels of brutality in a way that only Texans (and a select number of New Yorkers) can accomplish.  Guitarist “Metal” Mike De Leon (who had played a killer show with Disfigured in San Marcos that Saturday) showed no sign of fatigue as he riffed and headbanged, making his famous “pufferfish” face while notably clad in a killer Angelcorpse shirt.  Vocalist “Sick” Nick Moreno (also of Eviscerated) gurgled stories of perversity and gore while his bandmates passionately churned out sickening riffs and, in the case of drummer Rene Martinez, versatile rhythms.  The band persevered through some technical difficulties involving a guitar amp (a completely forgivable situation) and presented a good impression to the receptive crowd.  A mosh pit had started to take place during Flesh Hoarder’s set, with several people reacting to the movement-inducing riffs, especially the slower, grinding sections that force anyone not trapped in a mosh pit to start headbanging at once.  The show was going smoothly at this point, with each band keeping to its set time and gear turnover going quickly, which is always a bonus at a live show.

The prog metal maestros in Vex served as direct support to Morbid Angel, and played a concise set filled with atmospheric intensity.  The great thing about Vex’s brand of progressive metal is that they aren’t the type of progressive metal where bands wank around on a bunch of scales over the course of fifteen minutes and call it a song; rather, they blend multiple approaches to metal to compose the best possible song that they can for the ideas presented.  Starting their set with a new song whose vocals reminded me of a deathly take on Yes’s “Close to the Edge”, Vex blazed through their set with fury.  Guitarists Michael Day and Ciaran McCloskey traded off everything from effected-speed strumming to finger-picked arpeggios (with McCloskey being only identifiable as a giant mass of red hair during most of the set) while new bassist Joel (also of Bat Castle) and drum wizard Eoghan McCloskey locked the beat in regardless of whichever bizarre meter or accent the rhythm of the song was in (watching a Vex set requires you to know how to headbang in multiple time signatures, you see).  Singer Joe Jackson is a man of many voices, ranging from a low growl to singing as appropriate, with his lower barks recalling those of Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ.  Vex’s set was a welcome placement on Tuesday’s bill, and the next time the band plays near you, you should certainly make it a mission to check them out.

The only thing I did not enjoy about the Vex set was the unimaginable stench that crept out of nowhere from somewhere near the outside stage (its source was allegedly a burst sewer pipe).  Readers, I have been to many a sketchy thrash metal or crust punk show and have smelled some rank odors at shows, but this smell topped everything, including Winter’s crowd at Chaos in Tejas 2012 (the previous title holder of the “What Died In This Venue?” trophy even if the show itself was awesome).

Thankfully, this odor from beyond dissipated fairly quickly, and at 11:55PM, the lights dimmed, the stage crew departed, and four musicians emerged from the shadows: the hour of “Covenant” was upon us.  The opening notes of “Rapture” heralded the initiation to madness, and within seconds the crowd went wild.  “Pain Divine” continued the assault faithfully and powerfully, and I found myself screaming the lyrics and thrashing around with my eyes rolling back in my head as if by possession.  The highlight in the set came in the form of the third song, a personal favorite, “World of Shit (The Promised Land)” with its initial sludgy stomp transitioning into a blistering blast with some of the most vitriolic lyrics on the album it is featured on.  The first three songs of the set had the show off to a great start, with the band reproducing the songs from the album accurately, with fog machines and lighting to enhance the setting.

However, after “World of Shit (The Promised Land)”, there was a noticeable shift in energy that took place, and I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was (maybe it was the way David Vincent yelled “OH SHIT!” at the start of “Vengeance is Mine” in the same way a rock band would lead into a riff they wanted their audience to jump up for).  It was a strange aura in the venue indeed; not “strange” as in the obscure creatures from weird tales that inspired the lyrical content of some of Morbid Angel’s best songs, but rather in the sense that there was a presence that was missing from most of the rest of the show that was there at, for example, Deicide and Watain recently.  The setting was similar (for Deicide, at least, the atmosphere for Watain was something else entirely) and yet the evil that had been in the air was absent for most of the set on Tuesday night.  That said, there were several points in the performance that were enjoyable, including “The Lion’s Den” and “Angel of Disease”, both of which received some of the crowd’s best responses, although I wish they hadn’t turned on the strobe lights at the start of the latter — trying to jump into the pit when you’re being blinded takes a lot of the fun out of it.

I will say that the star of the show was absolutely Trey Azagthoth.  Eccentricities aside, he is still the reigning king of death metal guitar soloing, summoning unholy ones of Lovecraftian origin with his warped, twisted playing.  I did not detect a single error as he shredded and thrashed on his guitar, ringing in loudly and clearly over the rest of the band.  His solos are the perfect balance of chaos and structure, paradoxically delivering mayhem through atonal mastery.  I had started off the show on the left side of the venue while Azagthoth turned out to be on the opposite side, so I had to get closer to be able to watch his demented playing.  Even though I saw his solos performed with my eyes it was still difficult to wrap my brain around his techniques.  The sound was good on the outside stage from where I was standing throughout the night, and the guitar tones on the “Covenant” album were reproduced faithfully by Azagthoth and guitarist Thor Anders Myhren.

After the “Covenant” portion of the set ended, however, my enthusiasm for the show in general dropped out substantially.  The band went from “God of Emptiness” (which was a solid rendition minus some sung vocal embellishments) into “Where the Slime Live” and three songs from the Steve Tucker era of the band, and while none of the above are bad songs at all, there was a conviction missing that would have been crucial at this point in the setlist, as we were nearing the end of the show.  The inclusion of “Existo Vulgore” from the-album-that-shall-not-be-named managed to drain a sizable portion of the crowd’s energy, and even “Immortal Rites” (which in case you got into metal yesterday is one of the greatest songs ever written) was compromised by the puzzling singing (as in “not growling”) by Vincent during the bridge of the song, which was repeated each time the passage occurred for some reason.  The band ended with “Fall From Grace” from “Blessed Are The Sick”, and while it is a great song, at that point the mood was set in stone.

I must reiterate that it was not a “bad” show by any means.  I had a good time and was able to thrash and scream for some of my favorite songs from “Covenant” with some of my best friends.  When factoring in the rest of the setlist and the overall atmosphere, however, the majority of the show left me underwhelmed. I wanted this show to be one of my favorites of the year, and perhaps it was a matter of expectations that were placed too high, but the end result simply did not live up to the hype.  After all, Morbid Angel playing all of “Covenant“ should be hyped because it should be undisputedly amazing, not “OK” or even “reasonably good.”  I’m sure that my opinion will not be echoed by many people who were at that show since many people seemed to be having a very good time for the whole thing (until “Existo Vulgore” at least), but I have to be honest with how I felt during the show.  Nothing will ever stop me from worshipping the first three Morbid Angel albums (hell, I listened to the song “Abominations” approximately 36 times while writing this article), but as far as their next live appearance, I’ll likely have to pass.

Morbid Angel setlist:

Rapture
Pain Divine
World of Shit (The Promised Land)
Vengeance Is Mine
The Lion’s Den
Blood On My Hands
Angel of Disease
Sworn to the Black
Nar Mattaru
God of Emptiness
Where The Slime Live
Bil Ur-Sag
Ageless, Still I Am
Curse the Flesh
Existo Vulgore
Immortal Rites
Fall From Grace

 

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Jake Holmes is a Central Texas heavy metal writer who lives by the pen and will (likely) die by the sword.  Originally from a suburban town outside of North Austin, Holmes moved to San Antonio during his college years.  After several years and thousands of miles driven to see shows in San Antonio and Austin, he returned to the Austin area due to his graduation and continued to see as many shows as humanly possible.  His interests include going to shows, blasting Carnivore as loudly as possible on the way to shows, and sleeping upon his return to his home from shows.  His “dislikes” include hearing loss, traffic, and unnecessary bonus tracks on album reissues.

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Greetings readers.  I thank you all for your support thus far.  This will likely be the only article to be posted until after the holidays as SDM has a lot to prepare for in early 2014.  Don’t forget about Southern Decay’s first hosted show in conjunction with Motorbreath Entertainment to take place January 25th, 2014.    The show is free and doors are at 8.  Don’t miss it.
Slay.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Interment – Still Not Dead

Contributed by Rex Tremendae Majestatis

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Listening to Interment’s album Still Not Dead – available for download here –  led me to muse on what drives different people to participate in death metal bands. In Interment’s case, it appears that they play death metal in order to pay tribute to the era when several of death metal’s distinguishing devices were just becoming codified. Listening to the album is like perusing a magazine in an archive, observing the photographs of smiling people in antiquated styles of dress and appreciating the novelty of a glimpse at society’s inevitable temporal progress, frozen and preserved.

PURPOSE

The great old school death metal records of their time convey energy and conviction due in part to their being on the cutting edge of extreme music. As time progressed, some acts also progressed, combining their influences with the unique inspiration and creativity that they channeled from within themselves. Other acts, however, lacked this critical second element and still continue to. Based on my listening to Still Not Dead, I conclude that Interment is one of these acts. This is why I say it appears that Interment plays death metal to pay tribute to the era of these aforementioned bands. Their object is to create a facsimile of the overall texture and execution of older death metal without attempting to create actual music on par with these acts. Elements of early Carcass are there; elements of Incantation are there. However, Interment creates the rind without the fruit. Most of the riffs are placeholders between more inspired sections. Even the album cover is strictly dictated by precedent. It is a conceptual clone of The Wretched Spawn’s cover. Both feature zombie children emerging gorily from a living woman attended by malicious zombie deliverers.

FORM

One of the band’s strengths is an ability to begin songs in a variety of ways. Most of the openings on this album are quite distinct from one another, which is a talent that many bands in this genre lack. Listening to the first 30 seconds of every song gives an impression of a band with a variety of compositional tools at their disposal.

The downside is that they don’t seem to have a damned clue about how to follow their introductions. Riffs are awkwardly smashed together, demonstrating a lack of attention to context. The writers of this music certainly live in the moment. They generally don’t concern themselves about what material preceded the current riff and usually have no concern whatsoever about what comes next. The track “Natas” exemplifies this treatment. Almost every time a riff changes, the entire band stops playing, letting the guitar have the riff for two repetitions before joining in. The result is that any time the song builds momentum, the band kills it to emphasize the arrival of the next riff. I shall discuss this more when I review the album’s motivic construction.

There are times when this treatment works well, however. The first half of the track “Dorment Souls” [sic] is the best example of this. The track begins with the bass playing the first riff by itself one time. The entire band, including the vocalist, joins in on the second repetition. The riff is slow and sustained and very reminiscent of doom metal, giving it a vaguely Incantation vibe albeit with more forward rhythmic motion. After a couple of repetitions, a reverberated solo guitar doubles the riff in a higher register. This introduction indicates attention to progress. This is good stuff. A percussive fast section follows, then is abruptly interrupted by the return of the bass playing the initial riff alone in the manner described in the previous paragraph. In this context, however, it works well. This is because
of the way the initial riff developed and segued into the fast riff. The abruptness of the bass interrupting the fast riff provides needed contrast with the smoothness of the way the initial riff developed. In the case of “Natas”, because almost every transition is abrupt, the result is a disjointed mess in which no single section is allowed to blossom. Unfortunately, the second half of “Dorment Souls” returns to the wandering that plagues much of the album.

I find it ironic that the track entitled “Meaningless Progression” is the track that progresses most meaningfully. The song opens with a 6/8 groove featuring the album’s most melodic riff. The motion stops, setting up a riff in triple meter consisting of descending arpeggiated [015] trichords that repeat, descending chromatically with every repetition. The motion breaks again then resumes with a mid-paced groove that is first executed with ringing power chords that give way to the same riff with more rhythmic palm muting added. None of the riffs from this section appear again; it is an introduction. The bones of this piece appear next with a slow chunky riff accentuated by the toms. This builds until the beat and vocals drop on that riff at the same time. This sequence is what makes the piece so interesting formally. Complete with the tom-tom buildup, it appears three times: First, following the introduction; second, after a fast riff that punctuates the first iteration of this sequence; lastly, after an interesting riff that follows the second such punctuation. The body of this piece is effectively one riff put in the right places. Good composers can make a lot with a little material by adeptly manipulating form. This piece demonstrates that Interment have that ability, although they don’t employ it as often as they ought to.

MOTIVE

If they have the ability to generate interesting forms, why don’t they apply that ability to the entire album? I feel that the answer is they just don’t think about it. The guitar riffs generally indicate a similar lack of thought. All of the riffs are extremely idiomatic 1) for guitar and 2) in the death metal genre. It appears that the riffs are the result of an eagerness to generate material that sounds a certain way. This is more apparent in the fast sections than in the slow sections. Whatever the meter may be (most of the fast riffs are 4/4), the fast riffs are invariably tremolo-picked with an unvarying, redundant, beat-level rhythm. Thus, if a fast riff is in 4/4, the notes change every quarter note. This is the mark of someone who thought a fast riff was in order in a song because precedent dictated it, then stuck with the first riff that made it to the fretboard. The result is that nearly every fast riff sounds cliché and is utterly unmemorable. The only fast riffs that escape this are in the song “Meaningless Progression”, especially the short riff that punctuates two iterations of the main slower section. Although it exhibits the same characteristics that defeat the album’s other fast riffs, it is tailored in such a way that it leads back onto itself, making its repetition drive motion forward. Furthermore, since it is a punctuating riff, the band doesn’t dwell on it, allowing them more time to play more mid-paced and slower riffs.

Mid-paced grooves and slower doom-ish riffs are what the band does best. These kinds of riffs allow more rhythmic emphasis. Rhythm is what drives this band, so much so that notes are almost inconsequential (as if they are either an afterthought or a skeleton to make rhythm on) with few exceptions. The fast riffs are weak because they are stripped of the rhythmic power that makes the slower riffs so damned effective. At times, the rhythm in the slower riffs gets downright intricate. The track “Engulfed in Flames” presents the most obvious example of this rhythmic focus. The chunky 6/8 riff that opens the song would sound good on a hand drum as well as a guitar due to its incisive rhythm. The riff that follows has a pretty cool melody, but the way it interacts with the drums and vocals is what really sets it apart. It changes meter and rhythm several times within the course of one repetition in a manner that gives it a frantic, maniacal appeal.

On a side-note: The band is so steeped in tradition that they utilize a Black Sabbath quotation on the track entitled “The Dead”. Interesting title. I wonder if Interment are Jerry Garcia fans. Around 0:13 is a two-part riff, the first half of which sounds almost exactly like “Electric Funeral”. I can’t say if this is intentional or not. If it isn’t, I’d consider it a strike against the song. Either way, it’s funny.

EXECUTION

The slow-versus-fast dichotomy has a major impact on the way the band plays. Their performance comes off as more aggressive and more inspired in the slower riffs, particularly in the drums. The drummer plays with a lot more nuance in the slower riffs, which contributes greatly to the rhythmic focus of the riffs themselves. The result is that the entire band plays off one another with greater fury, hitting their stride and creating down-to-earth brutality even when the rhythm gets intricate. They internalize and connect to the slower riffs, whereas they usually merely recite the obligatory fast riffs as one recites mathematical formulas when called on in algebra class.

The track “Fetal Mutilation” makes this painfully apparent. About 30 seconds into the song there is a slow, galloping 6/8 riff that interacts with the vocal rhythms rather interestingly. In addition, the kick drum plays a different rhythm that emphasizes the meter but remains distinct from the guitar riff. Overall, the result is rather powerful. Not only does the faster riff that follows have the compositional attributes that I lambasted earlier, it also is played weakly. The decision to palm mute may be the culprit, since it made slight rhythmic errors more noticeable and reduced the amount of physical power the guitarist could have put into the string. The power of the slow groove immediately precedes the weakness of the fast riff, making the dichotomy clearer than my hatred of breakdowns and stacked fifths.

The track “Killer Elite” has some of the best execution in the album. The fast riffs are delivered much more aggressively, thanks in part to the vocals and drums. Although the vocal rhythms aren’t as interesting as they are on some of the other tracks, the consistent belching helps push the music forward the way the man with the hammers on the slave ship in Ben Hur makes the slaves row faster. One highlight of this song is the bluesy wah-wah laden guitar solo, which serves as an effective climax and helps set up the next riff. I feel like the band enjoyed performing this song more than most, because the recording just has more fire.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall this album is rather formulaic in its riffing and adheres more closely to convention than composition. There isn’t anything that makes this band stand out from other bands that pay tribute to the early years of death metal, thus listening to this album is listening to a genre more than it is listening to a band. That being said, it’s in-the-moment construction makes it a good album for listening to while drunk, when one only gives a damn about how brutal the current riff is. Many of the slower grooves on this album are very powerful. I wish the band would focus on them more, because I think the weakness of the fast riff is part of what contributes to the weakness of the overall form. Not only are the slow riff better written and better played, they generally flow into each other more smoothly.

Pros:
Faithful adherence to oldschool death metal sound with minimal bullshit
Powerful rhythmic drive on slow and mid-paced riffs
Each track has distinct opening, making sitting through the album more enjoyable

Cons:
Worships precedent to the point of sounding formulaic. Cliché
Generally lacks formal focus. Riffs smashed awkwardly together
Riffs are so idiomatic that they sound improvised

Best Tracks:
Killer Elite
Engulfed in Flames
Meaningless Progression
Dorment Souls

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rex

Rex Tremendae Majestatis is a composer and an eclectic musician. He has has traveled far and wide performing everything from black metal to blues to choral singing. He firmly believes that music’s quality is independent of genre. He approaches listening with an open analytic mind and is quite opinionated about what he concludes.

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Death In June – 9.13.13 Live in Worcester, Mass

Courtesy of Mike Shea of Codex Obscurum Zine

The Live Performance & The PC Witch Hunt That Almost Ended It

What do you do when wet blanket email warriors vow to shut down a show at all costs? Apparently, you move it a mere 45 minutes west and watch some really “passionate” people lose interest fast. For those not fortunate enough to follow the Facebook pissing match, the show was originally booked at the historic Salem Old Town Hall and pre-sale tickets sold out in a matter of hours. The usual song and dance went down and a bunch of people no one has ever heard of came out of the woodwork to protest the show armed mostly with circular logic. Sadly, and as expected, enough of them got together to pressure the town of Salem into pulling the plug. You heard me: the same town that pays the bills with cutesy witch t-shirts mocking the massacre of innocent people thought the best way to avoid offending everyone still alive was to let anons bully an aging homosexual from playing his acoustic guitar. According to Disques de Lapin, the group run by musician Thomas Nola who took on this suicidal booking task, the city, the fire department, and even the Salem police did everything they could between lying to the press, lying to the promoter and physical intimidation to keep the show from happening. Congratulations ANTIFA scene police, you’re a less organized version of the actual crooked police. A few days of clandestine internet works later and the show had a new secret home, dangled just out of reach in the laisses faire free thinking land of… downtown Worcester? Puke. 

 The actual show was well worth all the bullshit. A masked Douglas P made his way through the crowd dressed in a white urban-camo-ish outfit to set the sketchy tone for the evening. They jumped right into the longtime classic We Drive East done entirely with percussions and windchimes. For such a minimalist effort it was absolutely overwhelming. After a few songs on the drums the masks came off, the acoustic guitar went on and the duo went into Ku Ku Ku. The entire show seemed to loosen its collective Hitler Youth ties and relax a little after that. I was told not to expect much in the way of stage banter but the between song dialog from Douglas remained lighthearted and witty throughout the night. It was a far cry from the stoic downer I had come to picture in my head from the recordings. Dare I say it made him look like an actual human being.

I was expecting to be a little bored at times but that wasn’t the case. They hit song after song I was waiting to hear: Hollows of Devotion, All Pigs Must Die, She Said Destroy… And beginning with a plea for What Ends When the Symbols Shatter (from local shock rocker Paul CNV) they took just about every request you could belt out loud enough to hear (minus Holy Water).

Again, it was a very humble and down to Earth showing from an artist who has been painted by a lot of people to be a lot of things to the contrary. The sound was actually decently done as well (without even having to grade on a curve for a metalcore/cover band venue), beyond a comical moment of Douglas asking to “turn the delay up to 11.” Towards the end of the set there was quite a bit of griping about the monitor sound on stage, but I think they may have been shooting themselves in the foot by constantly getting feedback by smacking the wind chimes mic. You’d think they’d build a more robust, SPL-heavy wind chime mic, right?

The set wasn’t without its bumout moments. He’s Disabled was a must hear and I was glad they played it, but it doesn’t have the same punch without the harmonized vocals in the chorus. Little Black Angel was another must and I was thrilled to hear it, but they did they speed up because it’s live thing and blew threw the song. The set had been going at a pretty solid pace and I don’t know why the drummer chose that song to attempt an Alex Van Halen impression but it was much too busy with percussions and everything went too fast. Also, not a complaint, but the collection of weirdos this show brought out was inspiring. Between goths, sketcho hessians, stuffy Kraftwerk types in button down shirts, some guy that looked like Tom Hank’s ghost, not especially ex-junkies, some girl in a turban eating a donut, and a guy I deemed Renaissance Fair Danzig, if anyone could see who these shows actually attact they would feel like a moron for protesting them.

Some shows you walk out and get on with your life. Some shows have you buzzing the whole next day. This was a gloomy guitar strumming in your brain, floor tom banging in your heart all morning and night after kind of show. I was glad to finally cross this fascist war machine off my list and have it to remember. And above all I’m glad that reactionary narrow worldview pants shitter “activists” are predictable blowhard posers.

This article appears in Southern Decay courtesy of Mike Shea and Codex Obscurum Zine, a New England based old-school print zine dedicated to Underground Metal, Music, Art and all things dark.

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INTERVIEW: Mike DeLeon of Disfigured, Flesh Hoarder, and M.O.D.

Interview conducted by Tristan Spears on behalf of Southern Decay Media and Motorbreath Entertainment

 

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Tristan:  You were in Disfigured, one the most brutal TXDM bands to ever hit our soil. Now you’re in M.O.D. Tell us….What brought about the end of Disfigured?

Mike:  First off wanna say huge thanks for taking the time out to set up this interview. Much appreciated. The end of Disfigured came with a lot of factors. We as a band have been together for about 12 years and played with them all. Released a couple of demo’s and studio albums so I definatly gotta say we are ending on a high note. Is it the end forever, Hell no! we will be back someday! but can honestly say not sure when. What brought on this break or hiatus or whatever ya wanna call it, came the facts that we all have a ton of other stuff in our personal and professional lives. I myself have been busy with Milano and M.O.D which started taking up a huge amount of my time personally. Our bassist and brother Adam, became a first time father and who is also busy with finishing up school. Rene, our drummer, also my fkn brother, is in like 4 other bands too which are pretty busy bands. Whore of Bethleham and Scattered Remains to name a few. Rene and I also jam in Flesh hoarder together which we are still keeping it going. Our other guitarist in Disfigured, Phil king, is also a member of WOB, so that is keeping him going. And lastly our vocalist Ryan is doing the Scattered thing now too. So musically were all still very connected, but with all that going on, it gave us little time to focus on Disfigured as a leading band. So with that said, we are coming to an end of of long lasting run. It still amazes me and the guys knowing what kinda impact we had on some folks. We hear cool stories from around the globe saying they love Disfigured. Again, this is not the end, but a well needed break.

Tristan:  How come you just don’t stick with Flesh Hoarder?

Mike:  Flesh Hoarder is defiantly one band I’m very proud of. I love being in that band with those guys. Nothing but fun brutalizing show after show. We have also had a few bumps in the road, but rest assured, come 2014, things are just gonna get even more busy for us! Hopefully release our debut album and play anywhere and everywhere behind that album as we can. You’ll for sure hear more news from us Mexicans in Flesh hoarder.

Tristan:  What is it like playing Thrash/Crossover versus playing Death metal?( the feeling it gives you)

Mike:  Coming as a guitarist, it’s been a blast playing these thrash songs. I’m a fan of metal in general, so to go from playing brutal deathmetal to playing thrash/crossover tunes, has very much stepped up my skills on the ole guitar. Whether I’m playing either of the styles, I still get the same feeling from both. Just being up there on stage and doing what I do best and that’s FKn jamming man. Gotta for sure give a shout out tho to Billy and Tank from the M.O.D camp for shaping me up. I went in that band a death metal dude and came out an overall Metal guitarist.

Tristan:  How did you come about joining MOD and what is it like playing in MOD?

Mike:  I get asked this question pretty often. When billy first moved to the Austin area back in like ’07, him and I immediately hit it off as friends. He was always a cool dude and we always kept in touch. Used to run our sound for Disfigured at Headhunters. I was always a fan of S.O.D/M.O.D so it was awesome having Milano live right up the road from me. Prolly a year and a half ago now, I got hit up by Mike Arellano who drums for the band, saying billy was interested in putting the band back together and he asked if I would be down to jam on guitar. I remember sitting at my mother in laws kitchen table, being floored with the fact that I was getting asked to play for billy and M.O.D. Without any hesitation, I said yes. The rest is history…

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Tristan:  What’s it like working with Billy Milano?

Mike:  Here’s another one I get asked a lot. Haha. Working with this guy has been like going to Rock N Roll Bootcamp and the drill Sargent is Billy Milano. Dude has so many tricks of the road for on and off the stage. It has made me become a more professional musician and made me think more widely about the way things get done with a band. Lots of crazy stories from the road  already as well. Dudes a pretty smart guy and pretty man funny. Sometimes it hits me when I’m up on stage there and look over and there’s billy screaming his heart out while we’re jamming on S.O.D.’s Fuck the Middle East. Pretty surreal.

Tristan:  Can we expect a new MOD record anytime in the future or at least new songs?

Mike:  New songs are in the works for a possible new album and or E.P. Can’t wait to be apart of that as well.

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Tristan Spears was born into a religious family and found his escape in metal at young age. At 15 he hit the open road and traveled all over the U.S. and Canada bangin as many chicks as possible to the best metal every written. Six years ago he arrived in Austin, TX and made it his home. In 2010 he started Motorbreath Entertainment as way to help his friends bands get good shows. It took off quickly and he has booked such acts as Destruction, Exhorder, WARBEAST, Heathen, 3 inches of blood, and many, many more
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REVIEW: Slayer @ Fun Fun Fun Fest – Austin, TX 11/10/13

Contributed by Jake Holmes

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Dear readers, I have yet another confession to make: Until Sunday, November 10th, 2013 I had never seen Slayer live.  Given as how the California deities of darkness were just about everyone in extreme metal’s initiation into this twisted music (including my own), this comes as a puzzling statement.  I had been into Slayer since the age of 14 (more on that later), and somehow nearly a full decade had passed without seeing these metal gods.  Thankfully, after years of unexpected circumstances coming up that prevented me from seeing Slayer, I was finally able to bear witness at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest at Auditorium Shores.  When guitarist/songwriter/icon Jeff Hanneman passed away earlier in the year, many in the metal scene questioned whether Slayer should continue without him.  While I do understand that point of view, in my mind there was no better way I could have paid tribute to Jeff Hanneman’s memory (and his impact on myself) than by watching his musical brothers play songs in his honor, similar to Voivod’s continuation after Denis “Piggy” D’Amour passed on in 2005.  With that explained, it is time to move on to the review.

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 I arrived just in time to watch NYHC legends the Cro-Mags tear Austin a new one, playing a set that was old-school in approach with an extremely receptive crowd.  The talk around Auditorium Shores was that the Cro-Mags’ show at Holy Mountain the night before had left the venue all-but-destroyed, and the anticipation from another performance was running high.  Fortunately, the Cro-Mags showed no sign of fatigue as they delivered a focused set of old-school passionate hardcore.  All of the favorites were played, including “Malfunction” (with one of the most memorable opening lines in all of hardcore), “Show You No Mercy”, and the introductory one-two punch of “We Gotta Know” and “World Peace”.  Singer John Joseph had an unbelievable amount of energy, jumping off the drum riser and passing the mic off to rabid fans who were screaming along to every word.  He established an excellent rapport with the crowd, voicing his relief that the emo trend that plagued hardcore (and music in general) during the MySpace days was over.  There were many stage-dives and circle-pits; the ideal vibe for a hardcore show with violence on violence that was paradoxically all in good fun, with nobody seriously getting hurt (at least, not intentionally).  The Cro-Mags ended their set with one of the best songs they ever wrote – “Hard Times”, from the “The Age of Quarrel” album, generating a huge pit with two wrestlers in costume making their way into the pit (I can’t make this stuff up, after all).  This was my second time seeing the Cro-Mags and, while the first time was good friendly violent fun, the second time was even better.

As I didn’t care for any of the bands on Sunday other than the two covered here, I found myself killing time by watching a wrasslin’ match and by eating a tasty sandwich and waffle fries (SUPPORT!) from a food stand.  With this nutrition energizing me, I made my way to the Orange Stage and after what seemed like an agonizingly long wait was rewarded with a spot in the crowd right near the front to bear witness to the carnage that awaited Austin.

Finally, as inverted crosses were raised and smoke filled the air like fire and brimstone from Hell below, the intro started —  and any true Slayer fan knew exactly where it was coming from:  That backmasked chorus of demoniac voices beckoning from beyond, which declared a haunting message once the recording was reversed — “JOIN US!”  The title song of the landmark second Slayer album (“Hell Awaits”, in case you just got into metal about five minutes ago) came blasting through the PA, played by what seemed to be four horsemen of the apocalypse.  At once, the pit was chaos, with the audience thrashing and slamming around as if possessed by malevolent spirits hell-bent on destroying anyone in their path.  It only took about ten seconds before reality sunk in — it was time to face the Slayer.  Once the last notes of “Hell Awaits” rang out, Slayer jumped right into “The Antichrist” just like in their 1991 live album, “Decade of Aggression”.  From then on, it was classic song after classic song, delivered faithfully and driving the crowd insane.  There was no material from after 1990’s “Seasons in the Abyss” played, only old-school songs such as “Captor of Sin” and “Postmortem”.  No release from the classic era of Slayer was neglected, with songs from “Show No Mercy” fitting in alongside “Seasons in the Abyss” in perfect (dis)harmony.  Slayer may be known for their speed, but they are able to create a truly sinister aura in their slowest moments as well, such as those found on “South of Heaven”.  For example, “Dead Skin Mask” was never my favorite Slayer song (albeit still a great one), but after hearing it live, I found myself with a much greater appreciation for the macabre atmosphere that the song creates with its morbid crescendo and haunting lyrics.  The title track of “Seasons in the Abyss” is similarly unsettling, and hearing thousands of metalheads screaming along to the chorus would be enough to frighten any concerned parent fearing that their child would go to a Slayer concert (the frantic mosh pits would also play a part in this hypothetical fretting).

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Photo by Ashley Garmon

The biggest surprise of the evening came in the form of an Exodus cover, “Strike of the Beast”, and the unexpected thrash anthem was rendered faithfully (as it should be, with Exodus guitarist Gary Holt playing it) and Tom Araya’s shouts perfectly fit over the razor-sharp riffing.  In a way, this song’s inclusion allowed the night’s ceremony to be a tribute to not only one, but two fallen heroes of metal — the aforementioned Hanneman, and Paul Baloff, the undisputed king of poseur-killing who passed away in 2002.  My personal highlight of the entire set was “Black Magic”, which was played immediately following the open chord of “Raining Blood” (another heavy-hitter in an already-stacked setlist).  Even before the main riff was played, the low buzz of the guitar matched against the flurry of hi-hat hits was instantly recognizable, especially when the thump of Araya’s bass came in to signal the arrival of one of the best riffs Slayer ever wrote.  Having covered the song live with my band, it was an unforgettable experience to witness it being played by the masters themselves.

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Photo by Shaun Regan

As the song “South of Heaven” was drawn to a conclusion, there was still time for one more assault.  Arguably the pinnacle of Jeff Hanneman’s songwriting and a contender for the most chilling lyrics in all of metal:  The maliciously majestic “Angel of Death”.  Musically, it is chaos; lyrically, it is pure terror.  Sure, there are bands with more extreme or violent lyrics, but in my personal opinion, there is nothing that truly captures the grotesque inhumanity depicted in “Angel of Death”.  It is a picture of mankind at its worst, and easily one of the most controversial metal songs every put to tape.  Needless to say, screeching out these lyrics while moshing around in a giant pit (one of the biggest I have ever seen) was unreal, and everything I had imagined since my days as a high-school freshman.  Once the opening riff was heard through the speakers, it was pure insanity, with an old-school circle pit breaking out during which yours truly was nearly trampled (it wouldn’t be a bad way to go out, but luckily I was picked up before I could be stepped on worse than I was).  In a final honorable gesture, a banner, bearing Hanneman’s name in the style of the Heineken beer company logo, was unfurled during this last song, paying the night’s final tribute to the deceased legend.

When I first got into metal, I discovered the horrifying music of Slayer.  It was jarring, sickening, and unlike anything that the 14-year-old version of me had heard up to that point, as “Master of Puppets” (being my original exposure to legitimate metal) did not even come close to these dissonant, chaotic, and vile exaltations coming from my CD player’s earbuds.  It legitimately terrified me, having grown up sheltered in a small Texas town and being unexposed to this evil in musical form.  It was at that point that I realized that I was looking into an abyss, and there were only two options:  Flee in terror at the devilish hymns to darkness, or dive in to devote myself to this music for the rest of my life — everything else be damned.  As I am here writing this review, it should be obvious what path I chose.  On that black Sabbath, the path I had been walking since those nascent days reached a peak I had been striving for through the entirety of my journey in metal.  Not that there was any doubt in my mind, but watching Slayer play all the songs that I had grown up with affirmed what I’ve known for so long:  This is not just music.  This is life.

Hail Hanneman.  Hail metal.  Hail Slayer.

To the death.

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Jake Holmes is a Central Texas heavy metal writer who lives by the pen and will (likely) die by the sword.  Originally from a suburban town outside of North Austin, Holmes moved to San Antonio during his college years.  After several years and thousands of miles driven to see shows in San Antonio and Austin, he returned to the Austin area due to his graduation and continued to see as many shows as humanly possible.  His interests include going to shows, blasting Carnivore as loudly as possible on the way to shows, and sleeping upon his return to his home from shows.  His “dislikes” include hearing loss, traffic, and unnecessary bonus tracks on album reissues.
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A short message from Dear Leader:
I apologize for the lack of updates.  Spineless cowards had temporarily disabled my ability to continue updates and promotions as needed.  I apologize for the delays
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SLAYER

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State of Decay: A Message from Dear Leader

Hello readers.

Disclaimer:  I will be switching between “I” and “we” a lot during this write-up.  I don’t like taking credit for things but we are glad you are all along for the ride.

I am your Dear Leader.  I wanted to post this message as a thank you for the support from all of you thus far and provide you with some details about who we are and what we do.

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We are Southern Decay Media.  I started this project in early 2013 as a radio show for an unmentionable network.  I left that network to venture off on my own.  Initially this was going to be simply an outlet for show reviews and op-ed pieces, but it is turning into so much more.  This is becoming a machine.  After bringing someone in to work alongside myself, we now have our first hosted show in conjunction with Motorbreath Entertainment taking place at Dirty Dog on January 25th, 2014 in Austin, TX.  I am absolutely honored and privledged to be able to host the level of talent and musicianship this show holds.

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Hod.
The Black Moriah.
Plutonian Shore.
Vex.
VBT.

It will truly be a night to remember for a variety of reasons.   The show is free and is for you.

Now there’s a reason I typically like to stay behind the scenes and have contributing columnists.  I’m not much of a writer.  I enjoy the music I enjoy but my writing capabilities could never do the bands that are often reviewed on this blog any justice.  Jake Holmes has been a top contributor and I thank him immensely, along with Tristan Spears, Malaking Gulo, and some guest contributors as well.  We plan to continue the show and album reviews with a primary focus on independent/local bands, but we have obviously published reviews of shows that took place in Austin/Satantonio that featured internationally known musicians.  We will continue this pattern but I’d like to provide you guys with a little bit of what is to come.

We are in the process of engineering a podcast.  The podcast will be 15-30 minutes long and will feature interviews with various locally known bands/musicians.  Eventually we plan to expand that to touring bands that come through that’d be willing to sit down with us for 5-10 minutes.  These podcasts will be structured with an introduction by Goatcraft, a short blurb from myself, a song by the featured band, a brief interview with that band, and will close with yet another song by the featured band.  The podcast interviews will be conducted by Tristan Spears.  Any bands interested in being featured on a Southern Decay Media podcast, please contact us via the e-mail below.  There will be no schedule for podcast releases at this time.  We had a couple planned over the past two months but they both fell through due to unforeseen circumstances.

We are also in the process of compiling information for bands interested in being a part of Southern Decay Media’s compilation CD to be put out in early 2014.  So far five bands have committed. We are seeking five more.  The compilation will come at no cost to any band and will be completely free to anyone that wants one.  It will feature professionally produced packaging including a ten page book detailing each band on the compilation.  200 copies will be made, some of which are already commited to be shipped to two different continents.  I want to make one thing very clear.

Southern Decay Media is not going to claim to be a label for any band on the compilation and all credit will be given where credit is due.

Bands interested, please send an e-mail to southerndecaymedia@gmail.com.  Please include a brief bio, names of the members in your band, a picture and/or band logo, and credits to labels along with information on how to obtain your music.

In other news, my business partner and I are in the process of organizing a rather significant event to take place on August 30th, 2014.  So far we have one major name committed.  At this point we will remain silent on who that is.  We have a list of bands we are interested in for this event that we are maintaining contact/negotiations with.  No matter who it ends up being, I can guarantee you that this will not be a show to be missed.  It will be a very special occasion if all goes according to plan.

Southern Decay is always looking for show review submissions as well.  You don’t have to be a regular contributor but if you want to write something up for us, send it to the e-mail above along with pictures and/or a flyer from the event.  Please don’t forget to provide the date and venue of where the show took place.  Please also include your pen name and brief bio of yourself  for crediting purposes.

Again I’d like to personally thank each and every person that has made this tiny project become a young demon.  Keep your finger on the pulse.

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ass2
Dear Leader is the founder of Southern Decay Media and has long dreamed of giving back to the community.   He typically remains silent and keeps to himself but is slowly building an empire….

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SHOW REVIEW: Witchtrap, Hod, Sturmgewehr, Womanthrower at the Korova – San Antonio, TX 11/12/13

Contributed by Jake Holmes
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Although I’m almost always at weekday shows in the city of Austin, I usually can’t make trips to San Antonio shows from Sunday through Thursday due to work commitments in the morning.  For Tuesday’s show at the Korova, however, I had to make an exception to drive down to see Colombia’s black/speed metallers Witchtrap play their first show in the U.S. of A.  After an excruciating drive through rush-hour Austin traffic (which I know to expect every time I make the drive at that hour and somehow it still manages to infuriate me like it hasn’t happened a million times), I made a pit stop at a fine Jim’s establishment in San Antonio (SUPPORT!).  I caught up with an old friend from Killeen thrash metal band Hexlust, and headed to the Korova to catch an amazing show that I am happy to provide a complete account of below.  The show began with San Antonio thrashers Womanthrower (and yes, you read that name correctly).

Womanthrower is a very entertaining live band, with a heavy thrash metal sound that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  I’m usually not into thrash with lyrical subjects that focus on partying, but Womanthrower have enough conviction to pull the style off, much like ’80’s Portland thrash kings Wehrmacht. Their sound reminds me a lot of the first Carnivore album mixed with the second Carnivore album with a touch of Demolition Hammer (mainly in the guitar tone) for good measure, and anyone reading this column (or just happened to stumble upon my author bio on the site) should know that I support anything that sounds like Carnivore.  The band was playing as a four-piece tonight, as bassist Danny “Blackwolf” Luebben was playing guitar in Hod on the same night (more on that in a minute).  Nonetheless, the rumbling bass and powerful guitar filled out the sound in the room and also allowed the guitar solos to stand out against the solitary presence of the bass guitar.  Vocals, delivered by a character by the name of John Womanthrower, barked out exaltations to inebriation in a mid-range shout and often yelled out lyrics in a rapid-fire pattern.  The drumming was very energetic, complimenting the rest of the band and locking into a punk-thrash rhythm whenever the song calls for it.  Ending with “Beer, Sex & Violence” (an obvious homage to Carnivore), Womanthrower showed that they were a great fit for this show, especially as a last-minute fill-in for a band that had dropped.  Womanthrower plays San Antonio consistently, so if you dig thrash metal, you’d be wise to check them out.

With the conclusion of Womanthrower’s set, it was time for the Korova to bear witness to San Antonio’s purveyors of blackened violence, Sturmgewehr.  Sturmgewehr has gone through some lineup changes since the last time I saw them (which may have been the Rites of Darkness III prefest, although I had seen them many times before then) and they have added a second guitarist.  This second guitar greatly enhances their power in a live environment, and from the first song I was floored by how massive their onstage tone sounded now.  Sturmgewehr plays a mix of punk and black metal, with d-beats over inverted chords and shrieking vocals.  The bass tone is distorted and pick-driven, adding an extra level of sonic grinding into the Sturmgewehr sound, which as previously mentioned benefited immensely from the wall of sound that both guitarists were contributing to.  Although speedy d-beats were plenty, there were also a number of atmospheric slower sections that drew from the black metal side of the band’s influences.  The guitar chords contributed to the harsh environment of these sections, with the drums crashing away with precise and powerful technique to allow for headbanging.  Vocally, frontman Zach Daniels concentrates on a hateful rasp, screeching out declarations of misanthropy and anger which match the aura of Sturmgewehr’s music.  Closing with “Stoking the Embers of Woe”, Sturmgewehr’s set went by quickly but was nonetheless an excellent part of Tuesday’s lineup, bringing an aggressive touch that was greatly appreciated.

Black/death metal warriors Hod are always a good addition to any extreme metal show, and Tuesday’s show was no exception.  The five horsemen of metallic destruction played with violence and force (spot the Exciter quote) to a receptive audience that made its way up front to mosh and bang their heads.  This was also the second time a new song “Where Are The Demons?” was played, and with riffs that to my ears reminded me of the “In The Eyes of Ioladanach” period of Absu combined with the usual Hod touch, it was a great fit for the rest of the material that was played.  Bassist Trans Am (fresh off an inaugural tour with Houston death metallers War Master) delivered his speed-picked basslines to occupy the low-end of the sonic spectrum against the twin riffing of the guitars and clash of the drums.  The band closed with “Demoralizer”, which never fails to get a pit going, with its shoutable chorus and ending chant of “Are you wanting to die?”, ending the song in a manner similar to the immortal “Do you want to die?” line from Slayer’s “Postmortem”.  We’ve covered Hod many times over the course of this column, always with positive words, so we’ll move on to Witchtrap’s headlining set.

I am very pleased to report that the first Witchtrap show on U.S. soil was an absolute ripper of a time, consisting of an hour and a half of old-school black/thrash with a notable heavy metal influence.  To me, many of the riffs recalled a mix of “Show No Mercy”-era Slayer and classic Destruction, while some of the slower, more melodic moments brought Accept and Iron Maiden to mind.  It was an ideal blend of extreme metal with a classic metal mentality and the crowd absolutely loved it.  Witchtrap played a whopping seventeen songs, including crowd favorites “Ripping Torment”, “Dark Lord” (which resulted in an especially crazy mosh pit), and the first song Witchtrap ever wrote — the eponymous “Witchtrap”.  The sound was perfect all night long, with the bass, drums, and guitar blasting away in perfect sync.  Bass guitarist Enforcer had several show-stealing moments where the bass took the lead role, including the anthemic “Metal Army March” with a memorable vocals-and-bass verse.  Frontman Burning Axe Ripper’s vocals were akin to Schmier’s on Destruction’s “Infernal Overkill” album, and his guitar playing was electrifying, bringing songs like “Metal Mania” to another level with his skilled soloing.  It seemed as if Witchtrap also wore a good amount of Sodom influence on their sleeves, particularly from the “Obsessed By Cruelty” album, as evidenced by the patterns of the riffing and drummer Witchhammer’s pseudonym.  A select few mosh warriors dominated the pit for most of the performance, thrashing around at many faster parts of Witchtrap’s set (and there was certainly no shortage of speed through the ninety minutes), and the audience was also appreciative and clearly here for the music and not because it was “hip” or because they just happened to wander into the bar to drink.  In fact I saw more patch-adorned vests at this show than I have in quite some time, which is always a good sign at a speed metal show.  It looked as if the show was going to end with one of the band’s defining works, “B.L.M.D.” (which stood for “Blood Leather Metal Damnation”), but even after an hour and a half of visceral black speed metal, the crowd was still not done, demanding an encore that was provided in the form of “Pay in Blood”.  With this final metal hymn, Witchtrap left the stage and ensured that this would be a show that the audience would remember for some years to come.

San Antonio (and a select number of Austinites who made the trek — represent!) came out in force and welcomed Witchtrap with open arms, and I’d say it was an excellent first show in the US from an audience perspective.  For those who may not know, I lived in San Antonio for three-and-a-half years, and it was the main city where I went to local shows when I first started attending them.  As such, it’s great to come back to the city, see old friends, and thrash like a maniac. That having been said, hails and thanks to Witchtrap, Hod, Sturmgewehr, and Womanthrower for putting on killer performances, and to the legendary Hogwild Records and the Korova for putting the show on.  Additional hails go to Tomas Stench of Morbosidad and his wife for always having great patches for sale at shows, allowing me to snag an Obeisance patch to add on to my vest (which is pretty much out of real estate at this point, not that this is a bad thing).  This may have been Witchtrap’s “First Necromancy Over [The] U.S.” (as printed on their tour shirt which I am now a proud owner of), but let’s hope it isn’t the last.  See you around, San Antonio!

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jgsdm

Jake Holmes is a Central Texas heavy metal writer who lives by the pen and will (likely) die by the sword.  Originally from a suburban town outside of North Austin, Holmes moved to San Antonio during his college years.  After several years and thousands of miles driven to see shows in San Antonio and Austin, he returned to the Austin area due to his graduation and continued to see as many shows as humanly possible.  His interests include going to shows, blasting Carnivore as loudly as possible on the way to shows, and sleeping upon his return to his home from shows.  His “dislikes” include hearing loss, traffic, and unnecessary bonus tracks on album reissues.

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