Check out this interview with doom supergroup Shrinebuilder, which features members of the Obsessed, Neurosis, and the Melvins, from Scion Rock Fest 2010 and watch them play "Science of Anger" and "Architect" at Rock Fest! Scion has also launched a 24/7 online metal radio station called Radio Doom, which you can listen to here.
Check out a Shrienbuilder interview at Scion Rock Fest:
Watch Shrinebuilder perform "Science of Anger" live at Scion Rock Fest here:
Watch Shrinebuilder perform "Architect" live at Scion Rock Fest here:
Prog-metal titans Opeth release In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (Roadrunner) on September 21, but you can be the first to see a bit of the DVD today. The band has given us their performance of "Dirge for Novembber," originally from their breakthrough album Blackwater Park, as it appears on the DVD. Check it out!
Sonic Ritual singer/guitarist Henrik Palm isn't your typical metal-punk character. In fact, he's quite far from the stereotypical bullet belt, denim-and-studs-wearing, Motörhead-worshiping punk rocker. Now that it's cool for underground bands to call themselves metal-punk, Palm sees it differently.
"I think 'heavy metal punk' is a cheesy description for Sonic Ritual's sound. I'd rather say we play D-beat heavy metal," says Palm. "In fact, I don't even like our band name because it doesn't really represent how we sound—it makes us sound like a stoner rock band. But I guess we're stuck with it."
To say that Palm and the rest of his Swedish band—which also includes guitarist Linnéa Olsson and drummer Viktor Bergman (also of Nitad)—are an anomaly in the punk and metal scenes is an understatement. Too fuzzed and tripped out for Motörhead purists, too fast for Hawkwind diehards, too hardcore for metal fanatics and too dynamic for the punks, one can say that the guys and gal in the band must have a deep passion for music all across the board.
"I like bands such as Venom, Bathory and early Voivod, but I also like Poison Idea and GISM," declares Palm. "I think metal and punk have the same feelings, except one's called metal and the other called punk."
While MetalKult was in Bergen, Norway for the insane Hole in the Sky festival, we caught up with Palm (who was also attending the five-day event) where he shed some light about the punk and metal scenes in his native Sweden, gaining respect from Darkthrone's Fenriz, Sonic Ritual's unique sound and what's in store for him and his band in the near future. —Henry Yuan
What was it like for you to be mentioned in Fenriz's Band of the Week blog?
HENRIK PALM [laughs] I wasn't that surprised with Fenriz enjoying our music. I was surprised that we got friend requests from diehard black metal fans from the U.S. These are people who wouldn't have heard of Sonic Ritual otherwise and I was shocked to see that they had our songs playing on their profile. It was just weird, you know? It was funny, too. It was cool. I know he likes metal and punk, so I wasn't that surprised. Nonetheless, it was an honor and still is. We got more attention than ever because of him. I owe it all to him.
Can you give a brief history of Sonic Ritual?
PALM Linnéa [Olsson, guitars] and I are really close friends. I hadn't played in a band in a while since I moved to Stockholm and we talked about starting a band. We started with another guitar player but he quit, and we went through many line-up changes like every other band out there. Then Christoffer [Jonsson, bass] joined and we became the band. We just started out as friends, like any other band, and wanted to play music together. We didn't get serious until our first demo [Red Eyed Ghoul], which eventually became Mother Hearse.
Mother Hearse's artwork is pretty significant, as famed artist Alan Forbes [Queens of the Stone Age, White Stripes] did it. How'd you manage to get him to do the art for you?
PALM Scott from Tank Crimes Records actually got the artwork for us. He was supposed to release it, but couldn't due to economic troubles. He does posters for bands and knew Alan Forbes. He traded some prints with Alan, which is how he managed to get the art. I had no idea who Alan was until I checked his MySpace, and I saw that he has done work with some really big bands. It's a good cover. People seem to like it.
Sonic Ritual's sound is pretty unique, as it blends all styles of punk and heavy metal. Is it difficult to blend styles together?
PALM It's not that hard, really. Heavy metal punk could be crossover or thrash, and we aren't either. It just comes naturally to me to fuse metal and punk together. I don't think about it. I really like d-beat but I can't exactly write punk so this is what happens.
From left: Henrik, Christoffer, Linnéa and Viktor; Photo by Linda Åkerberg
What are the punk and metal scenes like in Sweden?
PALM The punks like metal but the metalheads don't like punk. Punks seem to be more open-minded. A lot of hardcore and punk fans really like black metal. It seems weird, in a way. Those guys really like bands like Funeral Mist and Watain, for example.
Look at Amebix. If you play that to a metal fan for the first time, they'll think it sounds like Venom. They would never discover them only because they are labeled as "crust punk." There's no [united] "scene" in Sweden and I hate that. I think it's bullshit. However, I meet people like Christoffer—who's not in the band anymore, which is a huge bummer—who shares the same views as I do with music. We're just in our own little world doing what we do, you know?
Your first official release was a split LP with Sanctuary in Blasphemy via High Roller Records. How did that come about?
PALM I've already known Anton, the singer of Sanctuary in Blasphemy, and we actually tried him out as a drummer. Linnéa also knows Jens, the bass player, pretty well from his other bands, such as Martydöd. But yeah, they were in the punk scene for years and we just knew them. We like them and they like us so it was a no-brainer. Plus, High Roller Records was interested in both bands very early on and we got everything we asked for, basically. [laughs] I think everything turned out very good. We're two different bands but we play metal and punk so it worked out.
Finally, what's the future looking like for Sonic Ritual?
PALM To be honest, the future looks a bit…bleak. [laughs] Ever since we lost Christoffer, things have slowed down considerably. We haven't done much but we're going to be playing the Live Evil Festival [in London, October 23-24], which is going to be very cool and very fun. We also have a new 7-inch in the works. It's the best recording we have done so far. It's also the last one with Christoffer. What you will hear is my perfect imagination of what the band truly sounds like. I hope we get a label to release it before Live Evil so we have something to sell. [laughs] Those are the two main things right now. Then we'll see what happens.
A couple of weeks ago, we posted the premiere of Scars on Broadway's new song, "Fucking." This week, the band's vocalist-guitarist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan (both of System of a Down fame) answer a couple of questions about the song.
REVOLVER What's this song about? (Dare we ask?)
DARON MALAKIAN This song is about how the media—TV, internet, marketing—sexualizes children by exposing them to Viagra, Girls Gone Wild, etc in between ball games or at your local neighborhood Hooters restaurants, and how this is changing society and the next generation of values and morals. The song is not for or against it, it's just an observation I guess.
Why are you playing only a one-off show, at the Avalon, and what can fans expect at that?
JOHN DOLMAYAN We are playing on August 20 for the pleasure of playing and being on stage together as a band again. Fans can expect to have a great time in an intimate setting which is something different and special for both the fans and ourselves.
"Heavy metal is a clenched fist." - Oscar Thunder (far left)
I still remember the first time I came across the young Swedish classic metal band Helvetets Port. My friend and I were skimming through the vast metal section at New Jersey's music haven, Vintage Vinyl, and Exodus To Hell, Helvetets Port debut full-length, caused me to stop flipping through the records. I was initially intrigued by the seriously Eighties-inspired cover art—of four spandexed dudes standing on a bizarre chess board under a two-mooned sky (which for some reason reminded me of Torch's 1984 album Electrikiss)—and wanted to see if these dudes were for real.
So I rolled the dice and bought the album. When I got home and threw it on my turntable, there was no doubt in my mind that this band—singer/guitarist Witchfinder, bassist Inquisitor, drummer O. Thunder and guitarist Kongo "K. Lightning"—was serious about their heavy metal.
The album's opener, "The Shogun," is a call-to-arms—replete with classic metal riffs, choruses and production—that announces Helvetets Port are on a mission to keep the old metal ways alive. Cuts like "Diamond Claw" and "Killers in the Sand" are loaded with riffs that could easily be featured in any early Mausoleum Records releases and the title track contains a chorus that sounds like it was made specifically for all the fist-pumping, alcohol-fueled heavy metal lifers around the world. Even the music video for "Lightning Rod Avenger" was shot using old-style, 35mm film. Of course, the band's wardrobe and epic set designs alone will transport you back to 1983.
MetalKult reached out to Helvetets Port for a brief chat so they could shed some light on their brand of retro-loving, forward-looking heavy metal. Oscar Thunder took some time to explain why they're hellbent on keeping it true during these plastic times, the current Swedish heavy metal scene, Exodus to Hell and the future of Helvetets Port. —Henry Yuan
It seems true heavy metal is experiencing a "reawakening" with the younger generations in Sweden, with bands like In Solitude, Enforcer and Portrait. How do you explain the rising interest of old-styled music?
OSCAR THUNDER I think it is something that has been building up for years and when a few bands get attention, others follow and the scene naturally expands. The whole scene has grown steadily for the past 10 years with more and more old bands reuniting, new festivals emerging and smaller festivals expanding. Of course, there were always bands that never gave up and new bands delivering heaviness even in the darkest of times—regardless of the lack of common interest for heavy metal. I myself was caught by heavy metal at an early age and have since held it as the highest of styles.
Do you remember a specific moment in your life that made you swear an oath to this music and lifestyle?
THUNDER I remember receiving a Metallica single as a birthday present at an early age. I was actually sitting with my ears to the speaker making the music as loud as possible. When I borrowed a Judas Priest record from a friend a while later, there was no turning back. Together with a couple of friends, I had a period of listening to a lot of thrash bands, but the moments that gave me the most satisfaction were when I discovered
bands like Anvil, Ostrogoth, Thor, Parasite and so forth.
Sweden is a country best known for its death metal. Are you a fan of more extreme music? Is there a "scene unity" in modern day Sweden?
THUNDER Yes I am, but not extensively. I do enjoy the extreme forms of metal, but I don't buy a lot of records or keep myself very updated in terms of new bands in that category.
Hard to say if you can call it "scene unity." The metal scene isn't completely divided since most fans listen to quite a wide spectrum of styles. Of course, there is always the modern commercial crap that is marketed as "metal" but this has nothing to do with our scene and their fans seldom have any respect at all for the real deal. So in that sense, the scene is definitely divided.
Helvetets Port is based in Gothenburg, on the west coast of Sweden. Places like Stockholm and Uppsala, which are on the east coast, seem to be more of the "hot spot" for metal scenes. How does geography play in the band's activities?
THUNDER I actually don't see the east coast of Sweden as a hot spot for metal scenes at all. I can only think of a few good bands originating there. Maybe you're talking about the girly metal scene on the east coast? [laughs] There were a bunch of glam bands coming around over there a few years back. They also had a growing number of old school thrash bands a while back but that seems to have settled now.
In general, bands really are scattered all over the country even though some have moved to the Stockholm area. Kongo [guitarist] is actually the only one in Helvetets Port originating from Gothenburg. Sweden isn't an enormous country so there is a lot of interaction going on between bands and fans regardless of location. In Gothenburg, it's hard to even call it a scene. We have Ram and the new uprising heavy metal band called Katana, who we shared the stage with at a couple of occasions and who you should keep an eye out for in the near future.
Exodus to Hell has an intense old-school vibe to its songs and production. Are there certain "touchstone" bands that you draw inspiration from when composing the songs?
THUNDER Tomas [Witchfinder, guitarist/singer] writes most of the songs and all the lyrics. I think he has a bit of uniqueness to his song-building process. He focuses a lot on what feeling or atmosphere the song should have rather than on any particular band, but I also know that Gotham City and Mercyful Fate are in the back of his mind when generating riffs. Inspiration comes from so many directions that it's hard to name them all.
I don't think we sound like any particular band in the way that some bands do. When it comes to recording, we go for what fits the music and that is the warm, old sound of bands in the early Eighties. I don't like how productions tend to sound nowadays. I especially hate the way people tune and mix their snare drums! To hell with that—that is not how a snare should sound. Really, they can fuck off!
What was the reaction like when Exodus to Hell was released?
THUNDER I think you could call it a love/hate reaction. Either way, I think the album made an impression.
Visually, Helvetets Port looks like a real band from the early Eighties. There aren't many bands, if any, in modern metal that focus on the visual aspects of the band for fear that fans would just pass off visuals as a joke or a gimmick.
THUNDER This is, to me, one of the greatest enigmas of the world. Why would people rather go see a bunch of guys dressed up onstage as if they were going to work at a car mechanic shop? The bands I favor the most have a complete package of visuals that fit their music and imagery. Take Sarcofagus from Finland, for instance. Their mysterious and occult atmosphere…it's perfect and well thought through. People often seem to have the argument that the music is more important. Well, of course it is, but the visuals are enhancing the complete experience. No one can disagree to that. We've put a lot of effort into the visuals over the past two years in Helvetets Port: financing photo shoots, stage props and doing the "Lightning Rod Avenger" video ourselves. Take a look at Dio's stage show for the Last in Line tour in 1984. Who dares call that a joke or gimmick? It's as dead serious as it gets.
Your friendship with Enforcer seems to be pretty strong, with Exodus to Hell featuring guitar solos by Enforcer guitarist Adam Zaars and produced by singer Olof Wikstrand. How did you first meet those guys?
THUNDER We've known Olof for a few years. I think I first met him around the time when he had recorded that Evil Attacker demo. We had some mutual friends, shared the same music interest and the heavy metal scene isn't exactly infinite. It's a good relationship we have with Enforcer, as well with the rest of the bands. Olof helped us with recording and Tomas has contributed lyrics on the recent Enforcer album [Diamonds].
Kongo is currently serving the military and is stationed in Afghanistan and the Middle East. How does this affect Helvetets Port?
THUNDER Since the next obvious step for us was to record a new release anyway, that is what we've taken the opportunity to do at the moment. We recorded three songs just before Kongo left for a 12" Maxi due for release on High Roller Records this autumn. We only have one gig booked during the summer and it is on home grounds in Gothenburg. We'll probably play with a stand-in guitarist.
We're already in the writing process for the next full-length album and we'll record everything this autumn. Kongo will be recording his solos when he's on leave. I feel that we've made the best of the situation and we'll start the next year with a strong hand with newly released, fresh material and ready to take the stage.
Check out this interview with Liturgy from Scion Rock Fest 2010 and watch them play "Ecstatic Rite" at Rock Fest! Scion has also launched a 24/7 online metal radio station called Radio Doom, which you can listen to here.
Liturgy Perform "Ecstatic Rite"
Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine's autobiography, Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir (It Books), comes out today, and he has been kind enough to share a short excerpt with us. This comes just after Mustaine read an ad in The Recycler about a band seeking a guitarist—a band that would become Metallica. Read here what first attracted Mustaine to the band.
Check back tomorrow to enter to win one of 10 copies of Mustaine's autobiographies—signed by Mustaine!
This particular ad caught my attention, though, since it was the first to reference not one or two but three of my favorite bands. The first was Iron Maiden. Nothing really special about that—you couldn't play metal and not appreciate Iron Maiden. The second was Motörhead. Nothing unique there, either. The third, however, was a band called Budgie. Just seeing the name in print made my heart race. I'd been introduced to Budgie, a groundbreaking band from Wales—in fact, they are regarded in some quarters as the first heavy metal band—one night a few years earlier, while hitchhiking on PCH. The driver worked for a radio station in Los Angeles.* He was a decent enough guy. Shared some Quaaludes, kept the music blaring, and at one point, after finding out I played guitar, he smiled and said, "Dude, you gotta listen to these guys." Then he inserted a Budgie tape in the cassette deck. I was instantly blown away. The speed and power of the music, without abandoning melody—it was like nothing I'd ever heard. Now here I was, reading the Recycler, wondering what to do with the next phase of my life, and it was like I'd been sent a message.
That day I called the number in the ad.
"Hey, man, I'm looking for Lars."
"You got him." The guy had a strange accent that I couldn't quite place. He also sounded very young.
"I'm calling about your ad? For a guitar player?"
"Well, I know Motörhead and Iron Maiden," I said. "And I love Budgie."
There was a pause.
"Fuck, man! You know fucking Budgie?!"
That was all it took.
* He claimed to have at his house a replica of the obelisk made famous on the cover of Led Zeppelin's Presence. Looking back now, I totally get it: majormarket DJ participates in graft to put an album in circulation. At the time, though, as a kid, it just seemed like the coolest thing in the world.
Scars on Brodway, which features System of a Down's Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan, are releasing their new single, "Fucking," which you can download by sharing the news.
All you have to do is visit ArmageddonComeAlive.com and log into your Facebook or Twitter account. You'll then be prompted to post a text update containing a link back to the website. After you post it, you get the song.
Thanks to SoundCloud, the band was able to custom build this powerful "Share to Download" feature, using tracks already on their SoundCloud account.
This free download comes upfront of Scars on Broadway playing a special one-off show at the Avalon Theatre in Los Angeles, on August 20th 2010.
Read an interview with the band about the song here.
Check out this interview with Brutal Truth from Scion Rock Fest 2010 and watch them play "On the Hunt" from their Rock Fest set! Scion has also launched a 24/7 online metal radio station called Radio Doom, which you can listen to here.
Christian metalcore sextet the Devil Wears Prada have proven over the past couple of years—with tours opening for Killswitch Engage and All That Remains, earning them a nomination as Best Live Band at the Revolver Golden Gods alongside Slayer and Metallica—that they can play nice with the sinners as well as the saints. But if anything will separate them from the rest of the Bible-thumping crowd, it's their latest project, Zombie EP (Ferret), entirely focused on the undead. A limited-edition version of the release, available at Hot Topic, comes bundled with a 14-page comic book penned by J.L. Bourne, author of Day by Day Armageddon: A Zombie Novel and illustrated by GearHead artist Kevin Mellon. It features the band—in comic form—on a secret mission battling a world overrun with flesh-hungry zombies.
The carnage isn't just in the artwork, though, as the band has focused the EP on containing some of their heaviest music yet. Frontman Mike Hranica has cited Slayer and Hatebreed as big influences on the new material. "It's always been natural for us to do heavy stuff," he says. "I think it's something we've always had in us… Now we just had a chance to really get a focus on thrash songs for the EP." To promote it, the band kicked off their Back to the Roots Tour this past June, when it played some of its biggest—as well as some of the smallest—venues to date.
REVOLVER The band is currently in the middle of the Back to the Roots Tour. How have fans reacted to the smaller show sizes?
MIKE HRANICA Really well. The whole idea was a super personal feel and an in-your-face feel. I don't know, almost like a swampy, chaotic mess. And I think the fans have really enjoyed it. It has definitely been awesome. I think the fans have appreciated what we've been trying to do on the tour.
Has there been any one show or tour moment yet that really sticks out in your mind?
There's been a bunch with Your Demise. Their guitarist Oz [Porkchop] is crazy. If you pretty much tell him to do anything twice, he'll do it. They have a long list of things he's supposed to do, most of which I shouldn't really speak of. They're rather explicit. For example, right now he's had no eyebrows for the past couple of weeks. Last night he was married to a pork chop.
The Zombie EP is scheduled to come out on August 24. Why did the band decide to go in a heavier direction for this project?
It's just something we really enjoy. We never wanted to become a lighter band. We just put the focus on trying to be as heavy as possible for the EP. It was just an opportunity to really focus on being able to write the most evil-sounding stuff we could.
The EP is more serious than past material. Zombie movies can usually be funny, so why are the lyrics so serious?
Yeah, most zombie movies can have that comical, satirical feel to it. The whole focus of being really serious with the lyrics was to not be cheesy. I think if I tried to write something that was a little bit funny, it probably would have come off that way and that was the last thing I wanted. The whole zombie idea has a satirical feel to it, because it's the living dead; it's fictional. I think it's kind of funny on its own.
The EP is being released with a full-length comic book, written by JL Bourne, where the band is depicted as super heroes. Whose idea was it to turn the band members into comic book characters?
I don't even remember whose idea it was to do a comic book. It just seemed natural to do it, because comic books are rad. I wanted to do a preorder package that was more than just your typical T-shirt. We had the idea to do the comic book where we're the military dudes with uniforms and we're basically blasting zombies. We just saw the finalized PDF last night. It's awesome. It's meant to be a full-fledged, no-holds-bar comic.
Are you happy with the comic book version of yourself?
Yeah, we look pretty crazy. It's just kind of funny to see us in military outfits and our eyes are all squinted and really angry. It's awesome. We're all really stoked about it.
Interview by Cody Thomas