RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE was scheduled to make their first performance in Minnesota since their hiatus tonight at the Target Center, but they surprised demonstrators yesterday evening at the Ripple Effect non-partisan demonstration event in front of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul with a festival-ending a cappella performance that began a march towards the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center. Ripple Effect was a scheduled demonstration in support of sustainability, activism, political awareness, and self-actualization, and it was originally expected to feature performances from ANTI-FLAG, I SELF DEVINE, DEAD PREZ, MICHAEL FRANTI, WOOKIEFOOT and MATISYAHU and speeches from Medea Benjamin and Will Steger among others. After a day of performances directing postive support towards non-partisan (yet decidely liberal) causes, ANTI-FLAG announced that it was important that the crowd stay around "because things [were] about to get crazy".
As soon as this was said, I looked to the back of the stage and saw RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE surrounded by a troop of Minnesota state patrol officers! The crowd quickly became aware of the high possibility of a performance by RATM, and began to direct the protest chants in support of the cause. After an entire afternoon peacefully celebrating these positive concepts that I described above, we sang along in unison of our support to let the heavily armed officers know who we wanted to see play: "Who's capitol? Our capitol!", "FREE PRESS! FREE PRESS!", "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me!", "…in the lannnnd of the freee!, anddd the home of thhheeee braaave!!", "music is not a crime!", "LET THEM PLAY!!!" LET RAGE PLAY!!!". Although the fans in attendance were very diverse, the objective of the demonstration was clear, aware, liberal, and focused – and we wanted to see RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE push us over the edge. However, the Minnesota police, the snipers on the roofs, paramilitary troops blanketing the city, and other supporters of the GOP unfortunately had their way and RATM was never allowed to take the stage to play their instruments that night.
Instead, Zach, Tom, Tim, and Brad made their way into the middle of the crowd to perform one of the most intimate sets of their entire career. As the entire audience sat down around the band, the entire crowd launched into a highly inspired accapella jam of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE protest classics like "Bulls on Parade" and "Know Your Enemy" that were led by Zach on megaphone and a rhythm section of Tom, Tim, and Brad on hand-clapping! While Tom Morello may have been relegated to clapping along with the rest of us instead of playing his wah-heavy guitar anthems, the intention of the performance was even more evident as a result. For nearly fifteen minutes, RATM led the focused movement through a set of songs that only helped to reaffirm the definitive values which were shared by all in attendance. "Rally round your family, with a pocket full of shells".. "… Some of those who hold office… Are the same that burn crosses!"..
Immediately after the band concluded their brief performance, they turned southeast and urged all of those in attendance to proceed peacefully as they marched unannounced in the direction of the Xcel Energy Center and the Republican National Convention contained within. In the hours that followed, I and the people of the United States peaceably (albeit loudly and confidently) marched in a defiant parade through the streets of St. Paul, Minnesota in a unified voice opposing the "war against the poor". After a mile long journey we arrived at the convention, and even then the crowd remained polite and responsible. However, following twenty minutes of songs and chants outside the convention , the heavily armed contingent of war veterans and national guard members who formed the police coalition there that night informed us that they would begin to "shoot us, pepper us, and arrest us if we didn't leave within twenty minutes". The only weapon that any of us carried to the convention that night was our voices, but it seems as if that was enough to set the police state in motion all across the city to silence our agenda. Within minutes, their announcement the police began to beat us back with tear gas bombs, batons, and rubber bullets at numerous locations and the peaceful protest that RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, MICHAEL FRANTI, and ANTI-FLAG began on the capitol hill was dispersed.
On the local news that night the peaceful march is never mentioned, only condemnations of the minimal outbursts on the outskirts by so-called "violent anarchists". Tomorrow a new march on the convention is sure to begin.
While no well-versed metalhead would ever consider the ambient sounds of SPYLACOPA to be "metal" by any stretch of the imagination, there are good reasons why news of a debut release from a band that unites members from so many noteworthy metal bands to be of importance. Although this slowly developing project has been Brooklyn-based former CANDIRIA guitarist John LaMaccia's baby since the band disbanded few years ago, the project has accumulated a cast of cohorts over the course of its life that have turned it into a kind of supergroup of sorts. As of now, SPYLACOPA consists of LaMaccia, Greg Puciato of DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, Julie Christmas of MADE OUT OF BABIES and BATTLE FOR MICE, Jeff Caxide of ISIS, (and formerly Chris Hornbrook of POISON THE WELL). Their debut EP will be independently released on November 4 in an extremely limited pressing.
Those who are familiar with CANDIRIA would agree that they were one of the most progressive hardcore/metal bands to be birthed from the scene in the late-90s. While their polyrhythmic technicality and tendency to embrace everything from ambience to free jazz to hip-hop helped to lure in many dedicated listeners, that same eclecticness and propensity to experiment also made it hard for them to cross into more conventional metal territories. In SPYLACOPA, LaMaccia and friends are delving even further into the atmospheric and decidedly "non-metal" aspects which make their respective bands so unique within their sphere of music. SPYLACOPA approach electronic music from a much different point-of-view than is typical for the genre, and as such they layer their songs with a brooding intensity that is not very different structurally from the heavier sounds of their other bands. Although SPYLACOPA has much more in common with artists such as MASSIVE ATTACK or LUSTMORD than the likes of DEP, ISIS, MADE OUT OF BABIES, or CANDIRIA, there is a different kind of rage and a chaos subliminally present within the music that makes it a great listen for even a casual fan of these musicians. Either way, it's an interesting experiment that might give you a better perspective of what is inspiring the artists in all these bands right now. If you're interested in hearing more, check out the band at their homepage at www.myspace.com/spylacopa and pay attention for more info on this unique release in November.
Let me preface this post by saying that it is about the Portland, Maine based doom-metal band called OCEAN – not the Berlin, Germany based progressive/post-metal band THE OCEAN.
OCEAN have finally announced a November 1st release for Pantheon of the Lesser, their long-awaited followup to their the epic 2005 debut album Here Where Nothing Grows. Although OCEAN has been able to secure tours with some of the the biggest names in their realm of music during the last 3 years, they have remained surprisingly under the radar. However, they stand to make a big mark on the ever-growing doom-metal map later this year when they release their newest full length album. Pantheon of the Lesser has been over two years in the the making, and it promises to be the perfect album to listen to it as you look while climate change cracks, melts, and collapses the rest of the Mother Earth's glaciers in the North.
In their approach to metal, OCEAN is a band that strays away from every of form of convention. Even with respect to what may be typical in the mood and atmosphere focused doom metal genre, OCEAN is a band that plays music with an extremely expansive, dynamic, and beautiful point-of-view. In fact, despite their ability to to drive the music forward with deep growls and booming drums, it's safe to say that the epicness of their musical marches place them as close as anyone in the metal community to defunct post-rock gods GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR – and that's something to be respected. OCEAN's bleak and brutally heavy landscapes are simulataneously experimental and focused. I highly recommend that anyone who worships anything from CONVERGE to TODAY IS THE DAY to NACHTMYSTIUM to SUNN O))) to NEUROSIS listen to "First Reign" and "Salt" from their last release, Here Where Nothing Grows. Whet your appetite with these for now, but stay tuned for when OCEAN releases their next doom metal vision Pantheon of the Lesser.
August 29 at The Church in Boston, Massachusetts
November 1 at Space Gallery in Portland, Maine (record release show)
Pitchfork Media tends to be frowned upon by much of the metal community as the spawning ground of many of the hipster trends that eventually make their way into our culture. However, the truth is that they have earned their title as music snobs because they generally know what the fuck they are talking about when it comes to the art. Between the cheap beer drinking, good food, partying with friends and other such things like amazing underground experimental music, it's hard to not want to go see what's playing at Pitchfork (the veritable SXSW of the upper midwest) each year. To be honest, knowing that Japan's metal visionaries in BORIS were invited to perform at Pitchfork 2008 in front of over 15,000 fans was the only justification that I needed to make the 8 hour drive. When I also took into account that they scheduled a post-festival show at the Empty Room in Chicago with the likes of TORCHE and NACHTMYSTIUM for the same night, there was no option for me not to attend.
BORIS put on an amazing show at Union Park in Chicago. Despite the fact the BORIS was the only band worthy of the description of metal on the bill that day, they accomplished the unlikely and quickly won over the hard-to-impress crowd at Pitchfork Festival. Those who are familiar with BORIS's long and storied career know that you can never know what to expect from them, and the same can be said of them on this day. Performing with their friend and longtime collaborator Michio Kurihara, they launched into a compacty yet stellar set that drew from every aspect of their repertoire, focusing heavily on their recent heavy metal fuzz rock epics from their new album Smile. Because BORIS is well known to be one of the most influential drone and doom metal bands in recent years and many of their collaborations with Michio are extremely experimental, I was really hoping to see them space-out in front of the festival crowd, but it didn't matter. They only briefly segued into some brief doom metal psychedelic mindfucks, but no matter what BORIS played, they had they unlikely audience moshing, headbanging, thrashing, and throwing up the metal horns and claw to every entrancing note. It was unfortuante, but BORIS had to cut their energy inducing set short that afternoon. The explanation? As drummer Atsuo said in straight-faced broken English before jumping into the crowd and ending the show, "not enough electric power". Nothing could be closer to the truth. It was clear that BORIS had accomplished the job with their psychedelic metal anthems – the entire crowd gave the ultimate respect and kept their fists raised and the BORIS chant going until the next band was ready to take the stage.
At the Empty Room show that night with NACHTMYSTIUM and TORCHE, we were treated to a more equal dosage of fuzz metal and the extended experimental jams with Michio that I was anticipating. That day in Chicago BORIS proved to be a veteran band that could please a crowd no matter where they play. If you want to catch a thought provoking metal show this year, I strongly suggest catching them on tour this year if they're coming near you.
Here's some fan-filmed footage from the show. If Pitchfork posts pro-shot foot at pitchfork.tv later this week, I'll embed it here and update this post.
BORIS tour dates with TORCHE and LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR:
July 25 at the Marquis Theater in Denver, CO
July 26 at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, UT
July 29 at Neumo's Crystal Ball Reading Room in Seattle, WA
JUly 30 at Richards on Richards in Vancouver, BC, Canada
July 31 at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland, OR
August 2 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA
August 3 at Echoplex in Los Angeles, CA
For the last month, the underground progressive metal band INTRONAUT has been quietly hard at work on their next album Prehistoricisms, and according to a new post on their blog the album will be coming out in mid-September as planned! The writing on their blog also gives us some more info this forthcoming mammoth of a release, including a tracklisting and some high DPI artwork, which can be viewed below.
A few of metal and hardcore's faithful have been quietly watching every move this band has been making since their original Null EP was unleashed a lifetime ago (or 2005 for those keeping track). As one of these faithful, I can honestly say that this quartet greatly exceeds expectations with each release they make – whether it's on a small EP or on their masterpiece full-length Void. INTRONAUT is a band that deserves the captive attention of a wider audience, and by continually making unbelievable records it'll be hard for them to avoid the general metal public's eyes. The exposure provided by their new worldwide deal with Century Media certainly won't hurt either. I can't fucking wait to hear what these guys have in store for us this fall!
Prehistoricisms track listing:
01. Primordial Soup
02. The Literal Black Cloud
03. Cavernous Den Of Shame
05. Any Port
08. The Reptilian Brain
The band is doing a month-long U.S. tour this August with fellow underground luminaries in MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT and BEHOLD…THE ARCTOPUS. Be sure to check out the tour dates on their website so you don't miss out.
[Note from Editor: Make sure to check out some awesome studio footage the band posted on their blog jamming out on some new tunes. The INTRONAUT rhythm section is unstoppable! ]
The now defunct CURSED made an interesting post on their blog earlier this week, and it's worth my mention here. Despite having the brutal new album III: Architects of Troubled Sleep recently released earlier this year and the Blackout at Sunrise EP under their belt as well, they have posted the brand new music video to "The Void" from their second album II. While releasing your first music video for a song that was written two albums in the past might be a surprising move for most bands, time has proven that the moves of unconventional band's like CURSED can never really be proven or understood. This is a band that opened the aformentioned II album with a four minute hardcore metal explosion featuring vocals and the song was entitled simply "Intro" – logic doesn't really apply to them, if you know what I mean. It's clear that CURSED honestly embodies the arrogant "don't give a fuck" attitude that it takes to survive as a hardcore band or metal band, and for that I salute them. What IS surprising is that this song still sounds as fucking awesome and forward-thinking as it did when they released it three years ago. That my friends, is what distinguishes the amazing bands from the rest. It's only all too sad they broke up earlier this summer.
With that said, this video (which was directed by their friend Karol Orzechowski) is a gem, as well. She did an excellent job to perfectly reflect the brutal, inspired, fire-spitting rage of the audio track. CURSED are a band to be feared, and after entering their world, yours will never be the same. Here's the video to "The Void"
The long-running Bay Area metal band SKINLAB has announced plans to release the Bloodclot digital EP later this summer. This is the band's first new material since taking a hiatus following the recording of their album Revolting Room. SKINLAB was rubbing elbows with some of the biggest names in the scene at the end of the last millenium; Robb Flynn landed them their recording deal, Andy Sneap recorded their first album, and they toured with everyone from ENTOMBED and IN FLAMES to FEAR FACTORY and the DEFTONES. It's disheartening to see that since disbanding they seem to have faded into relative obscurity. However, the band just found a way out of their contract with horrendous Crash Music label, they are now working with Dez Fafara, and they are in the studio recording a new full-length album so I would say that things are looking up for them. Hopefully the release of the Bloodclot digital EP will be a precursor of better times ahead. In the least, the tracklist indicates the EP should be worth a listen – who else has covered NAILBOMB, anyway? Check their MySpace page to listen to two of the tracks from Bloodclot and to check out studio video from the forthcoming LP.
We leave you with some "classic" SKINLAB from their 1999 album Disembody: The New Flesh, this is "Know Your Enemies":
TOMBS, an underground psychedelic, experimental band from Brooklyn, NY, has just announced a signing this week to Relapse Records. I had the privilege to witness TOMBS play a set several months ago in Minneapolis at the always-welcoming Triple Rock Social Club and they tore the roof off the place. These guys undoubtedly have a great solid vision behind their raw metal, hardcore, and doom and Relapse seems like the perfect home for them; the label always does an excellent job of developing its bands for long, fruitful careers. Congrats, guys!
This August, TOMBS will be recording their new full length (and Relapse debut) at Translator Audio with Andrew Schneider engineering. You can go to their MySpace page to hear demos of the forthcoming album, which will be released in the early part of 2009.
TOMBS have announced a number of European tour dates for this fall including a performance at the Trainspotting Fest in Germany. And to U.S. folk, listen up! TOMBS will be playing a date at Death By Audio in Brooklyn with no less than BLOODY PANDA for one night of chaos before they head overseas. A listing of confirmed tour dates can be found below with more to be announced soon.
TOMBS Tour Dates:
July 12 – Brooklyn, NY – Death By Audio (w/ BLOODY PANDA, WETNURSE)
September 5 – Schweinfurt, Germany – Trainspotting Fest
September 8 – London, UK – The Old Blue Last
September 10 – Newport, UK – Le Pub
September 12 – Leeds, UK – The Fenton
September 13 – Edinburgh, UK – Henry’s Cellar Bar
September 14 – Bradford, UK – 1 in 12
September 15 – Brighton, UK – TBD
September 16 – London, UK – TBD
September 18 – Ghent, Belgium – Frontline
September 19 – Aachen, Germany – AZ
September 20 – Frankfurt, Germany – Exzess
Although CAVALERA CONSPIRACY just dropped an album in March, it's been three years since Max Cavalera and SOULFLY released new music with their 2005 album Dark Ages. The SOULFLY tribe can finally celebrate a little bit. Today SOULFLY released "Unleash", the first single from their forthcoming album Conquer (which will be released worldwide on July 29, 2008). You can listen to the song on their website and myspace as free download – and unlike the SLIPKNOT song that Roadrunner released this week, you don't have to give away your personal information to download it! Max continues to satisfy this year with "Unleash", and it seems Conquer may be even heavier than Dark Ages or Inflikted. However, I would say the most interesting changes this time around are the improvements on the drums from Joe Nunez and the experimental guitar flourishes from Marc Rizzo. Considering the technicality of the drumming, there is no reason Nunez shouldn't be able to overcome inevitable and unfair Iggor Cavalera comparisons on this one, and Rizzo creates an experimental metal atmosphere that often feels unfamiliar yet never "proggy". Also, the guest spot from Dave Peters finally gives longtime SEPULTURA fans the Anselmo/Cavalera collaboration they've been dreaming of – sort of. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what SOULFLY have done on the rest of Conquer.
This one below is totally free, so enjoy, but if you want a higher quality MP3 of the song, you can also check out the digital release on Amazon.
Several days ago, All Tomorrow's Parties announced the preliminary billing for their annual winter Nightmare Before Christmas festival in England and it looks like its shaping up to be the envy of any fan of experimental metal.The biggest story of this year's festival (which will take place on December 5, 6, and 7) is that it will be curated by both the legendary MELVINS and metal's most prolific visionary Mike Patton of FAITH NO MORE, MR. BUNGLE, FANTÔMAS, etc., etc., etc. As curators, so far these guys have assembled quite an impressive list musicians that are sure to pull in dedicated music listeners around the world for of few nights of the world's finest left-of-center metal. In addition to performances from ISIS, THE LOCUST, BIG BUSINESS, BOHREN UND DER CLUB OF GORE, ZU, NEIL HAMBURGER, and DÄLEK, Nightmare Before Christmas will feature the MELVINS supporting their brand new album Nude With Boots and FANTÔMAS peforming their underground classic The Director's Cut in its entireity! Open-minded metalheads, follow this link to find out all the info you need to make it to the show.
And for U.S. fans, you'll have the chance to see the MELVINS this summer on tour BIG BUSINESS. After they release Nude With Boots on July 8, they'll be hitting the road for over a month across the country to support it! Check out themelvins.net for all the tour dates and head to Pitchfork to hear some new music.
For now, I leave you with some classic MELVINS with the music video for "Honey Bucket" from Houdini:
The long-running, innovative, and influential hardcore band CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE is currently in the studio to record the followup to their 2004 album As the Roots Undo . Although their discography is a surprisingly short list, CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE have made a legendary name for themselves during the last decade with their blend of progressive experimentation and DIY hardcore, metal, and noise. If you have never heard the band before, their sound could best be described as being characterized by a natural fusion of the off-the-wall structures of grindcore and the sweeping guitar dynamics of post-punk. Personally, I've always put them in the same ballpark with artists like TODAY IS THE DAY , but one review hit the nail on the head when they described them as NAPALM DEATH meets FUGAZI .
Over the course of the last decade, the dissonant hardcore sound that was reinvented and pioneered by CTTS and other luminaries like PG. 99 , HOT CROSS , ORCHID , and SAETIA has been drastically altered and bastardized. Meanwhile, CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE have retained their integrity and stayed true to to the grind influenced experimental, progressive hardcore soundscapes that defined the screamo albums of the early part of the millenium. CTTS have indicated that the forthcoming album will continue to expand their chaotic, forward-thinking sound into new uncharted territories; the album is sure to be a monster that will deserve your attention. The album is still untitled and no release date it set, but you can check out their studio blog to stay in touch with the recording session!
KRISIUN – Brazil's reigning death metal elite – have an album on the way, and they have posted the a song from the forthcoming release online this week! Head over to their MySpace page to listen to "Combustion Inferno" from the album Southern Storm, which will be released on July 21st. If this track is anything like the rest of the album, Southern Storm will hold true to KRISIUN's well established reputation for their no frills, brutal as hell, groove laden, fuck you(!) style of death metal. In other words, it will be devastating.
In the eyes of many, KRISIUN are one of the most vastly underrated death metal bands today. Despite proving themselves in their homeland and receiving continuous praise from critics, they have yet to receive the kind of universal respect from the metal community that they truly deserve. KRISIUN's last album, 2006's AssassiNation, serves as an indication of the band's increasing ability to combine extremely catchy grooves with unbelievable technicality and musicianship. Hopefully with death metal's recent resurgence in popularity, Southern Storm will finally allow these brothers to finally gain the fruits of the kudos that they have earned over the course of the past 18 years. Check out the tracklisting for Southern Storm below, and hit the link below to listen to "Combustion Inferno":
1. "Slaying Steel"
2. "Sentenced Morning"
3. "Twisting Sights"
5. "Combustion Inferno" (LISTEN)
6. "Massacre Under the Sun"
7. "Bleeding Offers"
8. "Refuse/Resist" (Sepultura cover)
9. "Origin of Terror"
10. "Contradictions of Decay"
11. "Sons of Pest"
12. "Black Wind"
13. "Whore of the Unlight"