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OS Flashback: Metal Mondays – Obligatory Halloween Playlist

From the vaults – a Halloween classic from 2011.

Halloween falls on a Monday this year, which means that it would almost be a disservice to readers everywhere if this post didn’t honor the day in some way. Because of metal’s dark nature, the possibilities are endless. I’ll save the “Rocktober” and Misfits references (as awesome as the Misfits are), and just deliver you eight great OurStage metal songs that directly or indirectly relate to Halloween. Scary things, ghosts, zombies and/or the undead ” you name it. Why exactly the eve of All Hallows Day (aka All Saints Day) was chosen to be about evil things we’re not so sure, but we’re not going to argue.

Now that you’ve got your tunes, let’s tell you a bit about them:

“Initial State of Death” by They Might Be Zombies – Zombies and Halloween go hand in hand. This band may or may not be solely comprised of zombies (we’re still not totally sure). All we know is that, if they are indeed the walking dead, they’ve still got pretty good finger dexterity.

“Epidemic” by hord – Ah, the zombie apocalypse. 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead showed us the terror an epidemic just might lead to. Here’s the sonic version.

“Where Did They Hyde Dr. Jekyll” by Social Jet Lag – The classic tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is always appropriate for Halloween. We’re not sure that the song is actually about that story, but the title is, and the song’s good enough that we’ll let is slide (just this once).

“Night Of The Rising Death” by Black Divinity – We promise we’re not intentionally filling this playlist with zombie-themed songs, but sometimes a song is just too evil to pass up. Black Divinity bring the fire with some truly evil vocals and riffs galore.

“Today You Will Die” by Gargantuan – Zombies are pretty scary “ that’s no secret. You know what else is scary? Serial killers. Something about sensing your own impending doom is just a tad unsettling, and Gargantuan capture the feeling pretty well on this track.

“Arise” by Still Screaming – There’s not really all that much you need to know about this song other than that it’s a crossover thrash/hardcore punk jam with the hook “We arise from the ashes of the dead tide!” If that’s not evil sounding, I don’t really know what is.

“Gift of a Ghost” by Einvera – I’m not sure about anyone else, but giving someone a ghost as a present seems like a really lame gift. I wouldn’t exactly be pumped up about being haunted. Thankfully, however, Einvera’s music is better than their gift ideas.

“Jesus Hates Zombies” by Above The Abyss – Jesus probably hates evil, that much is evident. Zombies are evil, that’s also pretty obvious. I think Above The Abyss might be onto something here. Jesus might also be into irony, since by some definitions, Jesus could be considered a zombie (after all, he was dead, and then alive again).

What metal songs get you in the Halloween spirit? Let us know in the comments.

Metal Monday: So Long, Farewell

It wasn’t long ago that I was pondering the history of my Metal Monday column, and just how long it had been since its inception. July 20, 2009. Almost three and a half years ago; my how time flies. At this juncture, it’s time for me to bid all of you faithful readers adieu in this post, my last post for the OurStage magazine. Listen, it’s not you… it’s me. Y’all should keep on being your awesome selves and keep up on the latest happenings here on the OurSage Magazine (you’re in good hands). As a bit of a going-away present, though, I’ve compiled some of my favorite metal jams I’ve found on OurStage over the years into a playlist for you. Even I was surprised with just how many gems I have accumulated over the years and I’m more than happy to share them with you one last time, especially for those of you who are newer readers. Enough babbling, though, it’s time to shred. (more…)

Album Review: Deftones – "Koi No Yokan"

After more than 20 years, Deftones are still going strong. In fact, they may be stronger than ever these days. Their newest, highly-anticipated album, Koi No Yokan, is clearly the work of a well-seasoned group that is truly in touch with their sound and who they are as a band. However, something about the album still leaves more to be desired.

First off, if you are a fan of Deftones, then you can rest assured, this is definitely still the band you know and love. They haven’t changed very drastically (not for the worst at least), and when you listen to this album, all of the components that drew you to the band in first place are still there. It is a well-produced, well-written, and meaningful record that has been graciously welcomed by fans and critics into the band’s discography. Still, something about the work as a whole just does not have as lasting an impact as it’s 2010 predecessor Diamond Eyes. It could be considered a close second though.

Right off the bat, Koi No Yokan”a Japanese phrase for the sense that a person feels upon first meeting someone that the two will fall in love”hits the listener hard with the deep Meshuggah-like tones of Stephen Carpenter’s 7-8 string guitar in opener “Swerve City.” This sound sets the stage for most of the album, especially in the tracks “Poltergeist,” “Tempest,” and “Rosemary,” which repeats a dark and brooding riff in the breakdown with surprisingly similar tones of The Acacia Strain. While Carpenter’s guitar is the first distinguished trait in the song, it’s Chi Cheng’s smoothly ascending and descending bass lines that carry the verse of “Swerve City.” Vocalist Chino Moreno leads the track and the album as fluidly as ever, with his signature “soaring-over-the-mountains” reverb and elongated melodic phrases.

The second track, “Romantic Dreams,” follows up this feeling with a pulsing 3/4 groove that alternates to optimistic riff-laden sections in 4/4. “Leathers” ups the intensity with dissonant sections of chugging and screaming, while still interlaced with emotively grandiose and flowing choruses. As mentioned before, “Poltergeist” utilizes the lower and grittier qualities of the guitars, which accompany an intense 7/8 polyrhythmic intro held down by drummer Abe Cunningham”with handclaps that are sure to make this song an interactive crowd favorite.

“Entombed” is a nice change of pace for the album. The feeling of this track can largely be accredited to Frank Delgado’s synth work, which provides a harmonically rich and ambient foundation for an overall uplifting song. When combined with droning delayed guitars and Moreno’s expansive vocals (“Shapes and colors are all I see/Shades of colors are all I feel“), this spacious and electronically grounded track sounds like it could easily be on a Team Sleep album (Moreno’s side project).

The variations between the first half of the album are more or less reflected throughout the second half as well, making for an overall pleasant yet somewhat unmoving experience. The song “Rosemary” contains an interesting dynamic balance between dark intensity and soaring ambience, but the closing track, “What Happened To You?” is the only song on the album that seems to stand out slightly more than the others due to upbeat rhythms by Cunningham and a sort of “bouncy” bassline by Cheng. If Deftones want an honest answer to the question posed by the title of this final track, I would have to say,”nothing.” Nothing happened to me. I enjoyed the album for what it was, but no part of it stuck with me afterward.

Despite some dynamic variations, the whole experience of Koi No Yokan felt very one dimensional. One could argue that, since their formation, Deftones have only gotten better with each album, but this one leads me to believe that they may have finally plateaued. That being said, Koi No Yokan isn’t a bad place to level out. There is nothing overtly groundbreaking about it, but it is still better than a lot of other music coming out these days. I just feel like whatever edge that Diamond Eyes may have had seems to be missing from Koi No Yokan.

If you like Deftones, check out OurStage artist Moving Atlas.

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Metal Monday: Saille Return With Ritu

For longtime readers, repeated features on some of OurStage’s best metal bands will come as no surprise–if an OurStage band keeps doing awesome things, I’ll keep featuring them. Well, that time as come again as we’re approaching the release of Saille‘s new album, Ritu, set to release in early 2013. For those new to Saille, they’re a black metal band from Belgium who began their journey in 2008. As of now they have release one full-length album, Irreversible Decay and have played a number of shows in their home country.

Ritu appears to pick up stylistically right where Irreversible Decay left the band. Falling dead-on with the classic orchestral black metal of legends like Emperor’s early material or along the lines of Satyricon/s catalog. Catastropic, noisy guitars, grand orchestral crescendos, prototypical rasping vocals and blast beats for days can all be found throughout Ritu in standard black metal style. Saille don’t often appear to be looking to break the mold on Ritu, but the odd moments when they find themselves a bit out of the black metal character are also quite enjoyable“such as the bridge of “Haunter of the Dark” where there’s a dreamy passage filled with piano that leads directly into another black metal march. (more…)

The Dillinger Escape Plan Start Recording New Album

Visceral math-core metal masters The Dillinger Escape Plan are overdue for a new album. Luckily, according to vocalist Greg Puciato‘s Twitter, a follow up to 2010’s Option Paralysis is in the works:

“Oh, and The Dillinger Escape Plan officially began recording our new album today. It is indeed a good day.”

You can say that again. What to expect from this next release? Probably a lot of mind-bending riffs and rhythms mixed with some sort of jazz fusion, or perhaps they’ll throw us a curveball like a cameo from Australian pop star Kimbra. Who knows! But you can bet yourself that whatever it is, it will not be for the faint of heart.

If you like The Dillinger Escape Plan, then you might also like OurStage’s own The Summoned.

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Metal Monday: Imperium Pledge Themselves To Metal

Side projects, second bands, solo acts”they are all a well-established part of the music world. Sometimes a musician has too many ideas for just one band, sometimes a musician just wants to do something totally different. Whatever the reason, these offshoots exist. Newly formed Imperium is no exception. Consisting of Steve Garner (of OurStage’s own The Bridal Procession), Robert Purnell (of Trigger The Bloodshed) and guitarist Mike Alexander, Imperium are set to release their debut album, Sacramentum on November 20, 2012 via New Division Records.

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Metal Monday: Pig Destroyer Q&A

Five years after the release of Phantom Limb, Pig Destroyer are about to make a whole bunch of grindcore fans really happy with their new album Book Burner. Just as ferocious and unforgiving as ever, this album is going to receive a lot of attention in year end lists, as it should. Of course, the second we heard about the new album we had questions, and Blake Harrison (electronics) came to the rescue with some answers.

OS: In the five years it’s been since Phantom Limb, Pig Destroyer has seen a lot of change surrounding the band, including a new drummer”what of these things do you think had the most pronounced effect on the material on Book Burner?

BH: Well, I think the most pronounced influence on Book Burner was the time, we felt like we wanted the record to be lean, stripped down, fierce. (more…)

Metal Monday: The Melvins Lite Experience

Just about thirty years into their career, Melvins are still going strong. Perhaps even stronger than ever with the in 51 States in 51 Dates tour. As explained to me by the band, that’s 19 more consecutive shows than their current record of 32. The Melvins Lite experience, as it were, happened to be an incredibly good one”even from the moment I got in line. Outside the venue I had an extensive conversation with a guy who was planning on seeing a vast majority of their northeastern U.S. dates (12 in all) as well as a nice gentleman who came all the way from Israel to see the Melvins, in addition to Big Business and a few other shows, a fitting audience for a band that doesn’t do “typical” very well at all. For those unaware, Melvins Lite consists of regular Melvins members Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover joined by bassist Trevor Dunn, without other regular Melvins members Jared Warren and Coady Willis.

Fifty-one consecutive shows in as many states is sort of a crazy notion. By most measures, this would be considered the record”even if the Guinness World Records folks don’t ultimately decide that the feat is worthy. The current record is held by George Thorogood for touring 51 states in 50 days back in 1980 (this includes Washington, D.C. as a separate state)”or so they say. The Melvins’ camp doesn’t so much believe that, though, and it’s not in the record books. (more…)

Metal Monday: Podcast 3

They say third time’s a charm, right? Well, I’d like to think that both my first and second podcasts were also pretty charming, but I’ll leave that decision up to you. This is the time of the year when most bands are embarking on a huge fall tour, gearing up to release a new album or just taking a well-deserved break. What this means is this: there isn’t a lot of newsworthy stuff to report since the last podcast. So, this week’s topic will be a bit different. While I’ve heard most of the albums of interest from 2012, I was thinking about the early stages of my “best of metal” tally for the year and comparing it to my list from last year to see how the lineup held up. Let’s revisit some of my opinions from last year this week. Don’t worry, though, I’ve still got some tasty tunes in this week’s podcast for you (because I don’t want to disappoint).

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  • Metal Monday: Summer Video Roundup

    We all know that video killed the radio star (or something like that), but what killed the video star? Live streaming? Or did radio get revenge? Whatever the case, music videos just don’t seem to be as big of a deal as they once were. No longer do fans turn on MTV or VH1 to watch a few hours worth of music videos and related video countdowns in prime time slots. Fortunately for us music video lovers, this hasn’t stopped artists from still making music videos (and really good ones at that). It’s been a pretty good summer for metal videos, so I’m going to share with you some of my favorites. (more…)