Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Flying Eyes, Night Beats, Psychic Ills at Golden West Cafe

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Last night, Golden West Cafe in Baltimore, Maryland, featured a trio of bands playing psychedelic, garage rock and soul.

Opening up was Baltimore's The Flying Eyes. Sounding a little like a cross between The Doors, Grand Funk Railroad and Blue Cheer, this band is surfing that "new wave of psychedelia" yet with their own original twists. I picked up a vinyl copy of their newest recording Do So Wrong and will review it in the near future.

Reminiscent of The Animals and early Beatles, Night Beats got a little group of folks dancing. Definitely check out this Seattle trio. They were a ton of fun.

Lastly, Psychic Ills set the strobe lights to stun and lit some incense for their set. They were the slowest tempo group of the bunch and set almost a doomy vibe. I have never seen so many effects pedals in use by a keyboardist.

Kinkade Parodies; RIP Thomas Kinkade

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Kinkade Parodies, a set by martiner1 on Flickr.
Thomas Kinkade, reportedly America's most popular artists and the famed "painter of "light" died today in Los Gatos, California at the young age of 54. Let's have a moment of silence in his memory and enjoy these parodies that I am SURE he would have appreciated.

Consider replacing one of grandma's beloved pieces of home decor with one of these beauties. Which one is your favorite?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Countdown to MDF X: (46) Ghoul

Like a horror comic book coming to life, Ghoul is dead seriously the funniest band set to perform on Friday night at the Maryland Deathfest. Their performance is just as much about the songs as it is about the show. Appropriately this group is just coming off of a tour of smaller venues with felllow goremongers Gwar. Ghoul will be just as fun, but probably not quite as messy.

Hailing from the land of Creepsylvania (or Oakland, California), Ghoul doesn't have members so much as it has characters.  The musicians performing as those characters have also played, without costuming of course, in other notable metal  bands. Currently those characters include vocalist and bassist Cremator (Ross Sewage, who has appeared in bands like Exhumed and Wolves in the Throne Room), vocalist and guitarist Digestor (Sean McGrath from Engorged, Impaled and others), guitarist Dissector (Dan Randall, from Born Dead, Desolation), and drummer Fermentor (Dino Sommese, who has been in Dystopia, Lachyrmose and others).

In addition to the musicians, this group travels with a host of other characters who may show up to torment to audience. Ghoul's arch-enemy is Kill-bot, a 10-foot tall bloody metal monstrosity with infrared eyes. The homicidal werepig Mutant Mutilator may be roaming the crowd on the hunt for nu-metal and post- metal posers who may be lurking among their fans, which they call numbskulls. The Curio Shoppe Owner will be on hand to provide the coffins, or maybe he's just the merch guy.

Aside from the special effects and the showmanship, Ghoul offers head-bang-inducing, honest-to-goodness traditional thrash metal with a good bit of fantasy, comic book storyline and tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in. You will have a smile on your face, right before they kill you.

Enjoy this video, made in part by Agalloch drummer Asesop Dekker.

And the story of Kill-bot....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Countdown to MDF X: (47) Setherial

Sometimes it is best to listen to a band without the distractions of the visuals presented in a storyline video. That is what I had to do with Setherial, a Swedish black metal band founded in 1993. I prefer to just listen to Setherial's excellent musicianship without watching their videos. The reason being, that in some cases, corpse paint, maggots and flaming skulls can become a bit overwhelming. Don't show me how brutal you are, prove it to me with your music. Setherial does so!

Setherial plays that kind of fast guitar picking, melodic, blast beat driven kind of black metal that I favor. Their earlier recordings, such as 1996 Nord,  follow the minimalistic aural aesthetic of their black metal peers, while more recent albums, such as the 2010 Ekpyrosis, demonstrate a more lush, produced sound. Yet they never waver in their extreme brutality. Dark, grim, atmospheric and demonic and dare I say it, even EPIC compositions--Setherial delivers all that and more. If you are familiar with extreme groups like Tsjuder and Gorgoroth, you will appreciate Setherial.

Members include Infaustus (vocals), Kraath (guitar) and Mysteriis (drums). I know there is another member in Setherial but I cannot confirm who that person is. Setherial's website lists Thurz, Metal Archives lists Empyion and Wikipedia lists Funestus! Whoever they bring, I am sure they will be exciting to watch! They perform Friday evening, May 25 at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest.

Countdown to MDF X: (48) Macabre

If you like true crime, serial killers and Grimm's fairy tales AND you also love metal, then Macabre is your band.

Hailing from Chicago, this clever trio includes Corporate Death (Lance Lencioni) on guitars, vocals, Nefarious (Charles Lescewicz) on bass guitar, vocals, and Dennis the Menace (Dennis Ritchie) on drums. They have been putting out recordings since 1987.

Some gore metal bands like to use music styles like grindcore to frame their horrific lyrical content. Macabre does this too, but they are also just as likely to use more minstrel-like tunes with some clean singing and more traditional song structures. Their lyrics are generally based on true events and historical facts. Macabre's most recent album, Grim Scary Tales, recounts murderous exploits through the centuries beginning with the Emperor Nero, Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), Hungarian serial killer Elizabeth Bathory, New Englander accused of killing her parents Lizzie Borden, French serial killer Joseph Vacher (aka the Killer of Little Shepherds) and German serial killer Carl Großmann, among others.

Macabre do not limit themselves to metal but freely blend folk, punk, thrash, acoustic and just about whatever styles they want as they see fit. The musical talent is evident throughout and the vocals are strong and harmonious. They even have an entire collection of campfire songs that should be in every astute child's record collection. Macabre Minstrels: Morbid Campfire Songs, released in 2002, includes their charming version of that well known children's song that all we had to sing in elementary school, "The Cat Came Back," as well as many other classics such as "Tom Dooley" and a bluegrass song about the Ed Gein family. Seriously, I am not making this up. Think of Burl Ives with a really sick, sick sense of humor.

Friday afternoon at the Maryland Deathfest with Macabre should be very interesting indeed. I'm going to prepare for a sing-a-long.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Countdown to MDF X: (49) Demigod

Demigod's Friday appearance at the Maryland Deathfest reportedly will be their second to last show ever, EVER. (Their last show will be in June in their home country of Finland at the Tuska Festival in Helsinki.) But who knows for sure? Demigod has a record for breaking up and reuniting over their 22 year history. Why should we believe them?

Assuming that this actually will be one of their last shows, then, according to the band's website, attendees at MDF should prepare to be treated to a nostalgic retrospective of music from Demigod's most acclaimed recordings: Slumber of Sullen Eyes and Unholy Domain. "Slumber" made Terrorizer magazine's list of 40 death metal albums you must hear. Once you hear it, you will agree.

The group's current members include Tuomas Ala-Nissilä - Vocals, Jussi Kiiski - Guitars, Tuomas Karppinen - Guitars, Sami Vesanto - Bass and Tuomo Latvala - Drums. I am not going to bore you with descriptions. Just listen to this shit--it kicks so much ass on so many levels. Go to MDF! Heck, go to Tuska and see Demigod before they go away forever (or not)!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Countdown to MDF X: (50) Today is the Day

I have never been so excited to see a band live I have never listened to until today. But then again today is the day that you will like Today is the Day, also.

Originally from Nashville, members of Today is the Day include founding member Steve Austin, lead vocals, guitars (since 1992); Ryan Jones, bass (since 2010) and Curran Reynolds, drums, percussion (since 2010). Note: As of March 19, Ryan Jones is now also the bassist for Mutilation Rites, so I don't know what that means for MDF. The band has also featured Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher, now members of Mastodon, and Derek Roddy, who has played with such notable  bands as Nile, Malevolent Creation and Hate Eternal. Their appearance at the Maryland Deathfest on Friday afternoon represents 20 years since the band came into existence.

I quickly discovered that there is no easy way to categorize this band's sound. One song can be thrashy and punkish, the next can be experimental and noisy, the next  melodic and melancholy. There is no doubt they will put on an intense, mosh pit inducing set, I just could not speculate as to what tunes they might play. A friend pointed out that Today is the Day reminded him of a grindcore version of The Melvins and he's sort of right. Both groups have shared the same record label, Amphetamine Reptile. But I would not say Today is the Day is simply grindcore. It there was a metal subgenre called experimental-awesome-core then maybe that is what they are.

Today is the Day seems to play by the rule that there are no rules. They play what they want, or what Steve Austin dreams up, and that works out just fine. If you have never heard them before, go in with an open mind and don't think death metal, or progressive, or grind or whatever. Just think that today is the day you hear a band you will never forget.

I've included three songs here, just so you can appreciate the range and diversity that is Today is the Day.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Countdown to MDF X: (51) Nashgul

Spain's Nashgul is one of those kinds of grindcore bands that draws you in with the first few chords, and then just as you think you might be getting into the song -- about 40 seconds or so later -- the song is over. Naghul generally offers fast melodic riffs, pounding rhythms and deep growling vocals in neat, tidy little packages. The longest mp3 loaded onto their Facebook music page is 2:27, and most are close to a 60 seconds or shorter.

If your Spanish is any good, you might be able to figure out what they are singing about. Apparently their lyrical themes are social and political. There are plenty of horror movie sound clips or political (sounding) speeches thrown in as well on their studio recordings and splits. The also have recorded tributes to Nasum (who are performing later Friday night) and to Repulsion.

Founded in the city of A Coruña in 2001, members include Santi on vocals, Hector on guitar, Luis on bass and Ivan on drums. Just before  Nashgul's show on Friday, May 25 at the Maryland Deathfest, Nashgul will stop by the Saint Vitus Bar on May 23 to do a show with Ghoul, Occultist and Pizzahifive. Afterward, will travel back up to New York to do a show on May 31, also at Saint Vitus, with Marrow, Skelptarsis and Cold Inside.

Since Nashgul's songs tend to be short, here is a video clip from their 10th anniversary show in 2011 with about 20 minutes worth of music. This glimpse into the world of Spanish metal just goes to show you that metal heads are the same every where you go! \m/

Countdown to MDF X: (52) Castevet

Friday, May 25 at the Maryland Deathfest begins with Castevet, a post-harcore, black metal outfit from New York City. Like several of their Big Apple black metal peers, Castevet relies on shrill vocals against a backdop of wall-of-distorted-guitars sound propelled by a crashing backbeat and nearly inaudible bass. Their two recordings, Mound of Ash (2010) and Stones/Salts (2009) both feature those black-and-white Instagrammy looking bleak landscapes on their covers.

Does it sound like I hate Castevet? No, not at all. But I had to set my personal prejudices aside to wade past the hipster trappings to listen to what I think is a far superior alternative to much of what is being foisted upon the late-comer black metal crowd. Aside from the vocals, Castevet reminds me of EVERYTHING I love about some of the most recent Enslaved recordings. Complex rhythms, atonal melodies, musical surprises -- Castevet has a lot to offer. I hope lots of people are there early enough on Friday to see them play.

Launched in 2006, Castevet includes founding members Ian Jacyszyn on drums, Andrew Hock on vocals and guitars and Nicholas McMaster, formerly of Krallice, on bass and who joined this year. You can hear studio recordings of Castevet on their BandCamp page.  I have listened to the offerings there many times since finding this band. (There is an indie-punk band with this same name so beware; often plays the wrong band on the MDFX radio station.)

A band's live performance is important, so that is what you will find in the video below, recorded in 2010. "Grey Matter" is especially good for people who like Enslaved's later stuff.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Countdown to MDF X: (53) Autopsy

Autopsy closes out Thursday of the 2012 Maryland Deathfest. This pioneering death metal band came together in 1987 when death metal was in it's infancy. The group's current line up includes original members Chris Reifert, formerly a drummer for Death, and guitarists Eric Culter and Danny Coralles, along with Joe Trevisano on bass, who joined in 2010.

This California group played for several years between the late 80s until the mid 90s, disbanded for a while and then reformed for the 2009 MDF. Musically, Autopsy is pretty much the template for death metal, characterized by forceful growling vocals, slightly thrashing drums, and heavily distorted guitars punctuated by "invisible orange" inducing solos. Some of their songs even dip into the doomy and sludgey, but pretty much this is the death metal your big brother warned you about.

Lyrically the topics run the gamut for disembowelment to death to corpse rape. You can take their lyrics however you like, seriously or mockingly or as a commentary on our depraved society. It is death metal after all so what do you expect. Musically, I dig this group a lot. It is definitely head-bang-worthy. You won't find me singing along. An exception might be the song below, "Always About To Die," from Autopsy's most recent full-length recording Macabre Eternal released in 2011. The lyrics are poignant because, shit, they are so true!

"In your sleep or on your knees
Killed in health or by disease
Doom bound train is on your track
Feel your mind about to crack
We are always about to die"