Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – “Apocalyptic Love”

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – “Apocalyptic Love” (Roadrunner Records)

Free the spirit baby! Unlike his self-titled debut solo album where Slash featured a number of big name vocalists from Ozzy to Chris Cornell to Kid Rock, this sophomore is solely a collaboration with Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy, and backed by Slash’s band of bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz – aka The Conspirators. Being the laid back hippy rockers that I’d imagine them to be, this ain’t no fire n ice dicing-with-dictatorship relationship back in his GnR days, and Slash has found in Myles not only a highly capable vocalist but a musical soul mate and together they’ve produced a hit winning partnership here in “Apocalyptic Love”. Slash’s all too familiar guitar tone – one of GnR’s defining points – is omnipresent throughout the 13 tracks here that also hint to a greater or lesser degree of Alter Bridge, whilst the deluxe edition containing bonus tracks like ‘Caroline’ is of the newer hybrid Velvet Revolver sound. Opening with heaps of funky wah in the title track, its LA rock n roll all the way man and then they hit the burn button on ‘One Last Thrill’ and a wave of unbridled rock energy just hits you and you’re off world man. Myles has brought the soul to Slash’s rock n roll heart and it resonates on the anthemic ‘No More Heroes’ and the deep ‘Bad Rain’. “Apocalyptic Love” kills you to death and if this is how Slash wants to check out then I’m with him cos the vibe n groove on “Apocalyptic Love” is nothing short of orgasmic so punch it baby!

Hour Of 13 – “333”

Hour Of 13 – “333” (Earache Records)

LOL – I hope that just cos this album is called “333”, that don’t mean that it’s only half as good as Anvil’s! Still, it’s nice to see a band that has someone older than me (actually he’s younger LOL – Ed). Hour Of 13 is one of these weird musical projects, in this case between vocalist Phil Swanson and Chad Davis, who plays all instruments, although it’s hardly a collaboration from what I hear given they both record independently, and rarely interact socially, which makes a live appearance rare indeed! However, musically there is clearly something that gels these two together in the old school occult doom rock that they play, which is undoubtedly influenced by the likes of Angel Witch, Witchfinder General and naturally early Sabbath, although I would say that songs like ‘Deny The Cross’, ‘Rite Of Samhain’ and ‘Sea Of Trees’ err more to the lighter doom side sorta reminding me of Sweden’s Ghost or Year Of The Goat. It’s especially so in Swanson’s haunting voice, which is a nicer, soulful version of Ozzy’s (i.e. without the drugs LOL!), and while the music is dark in it’s atmosphere, I certainly wouldn’t call it evil by any means – and nor is it intended as such I would imagine – but appealing in its own beautiful way, rather like many horror films also from that 70s era.

TesseracT – “Perspective”

TesseracT – “Perspective” EP (Century Media)

TesseracT play modern prog metal and on this acoustic EP, they have definitely gone into the spiritual dimension judging by ethereal songs like ‘Dream Brother’ and ‘April’ that lean more towards The Doors or even Pink Floyd, while ‘Eden 2.0’, is more in the djent vein with its funky chopping rhythms drawn seemingly from the likes of Meshuggah. New vocalist Elliot Coleman has an amazing voice, high and clean, that adds even more atmosphere to the music, giving the listener an almost trance effect in combination – little wonder then that TesseracT are being worshiped as the next rock n roll deities of India!

Nightmare – “The Burden Of God”

Nightmare – “The Burden Of God” (AFM Records)

Wow – these French guys have been going since 1979 when they started as a NWOBHM influenced heavy metal band and whose career could be veritable nightmare given they were signed to ill fated Ebony Records, had personnel problems owing to the direction of the band which ultimately led to a 10 year hiatus until 1999! Their second coming however, has been better blessed with the Amore brothers taking a more prominent role in the band, better label support and regular touring, including playing the major European festivals. Shifting their sound more towards melodic power metal, there are still HM roots in the guitar work and it’s certainly heavy on ‘Children Of The Nation’ although most of the material is actually slow to mid tempo. Additionally, Jo Amore’s vocals on songs like ‘The Preacher’ give them an almost techno prog feel a la Savatage rather than what might expect from a traditional power metal band. Still, I’m impressed by the epic but melodic groove of ‘Final Outcome’ and the longevity of this band against adversity is truly commendable so bravo mes amis!

Viking Skull – “Cursed By The Sword”

Viking Skull – “Cursed By The Sword” (Transcend Music)

Ingredients: 2 parts Whiskey, Motorhead, Sabbath & Maiden; 1 part WASP and a cupful of AC/DC. Yup, can’t go wrong there! Hailing from the English steel town of Corby, comes Raging Speedhorn’s alter ego – Viking Skull, who started off as a spoof band and having impressed Jack Ass’s Bam Margera to the point where he drafted his brother Jess in as drummer, have become a band in their own right (or wrong LOL – Ed). Clearly a ‘very metal’ band, VS play a booze laden dirty biker rock n roll that is ideal for getting pissed to, or just being a downright pig in general: hoarse, Lemmy-esque vocals, blues boogie stripper club riffs, and a good ‘ol boy rhythm define barroom songs like ‘Machine Gun Honey’, ‘My Bitch Talks Too Much’ and the defining ‘You Look Like I Need A Beer’. Don’t be expecting any Vikings, but you will be right outta yer fucking skull after ‘eadbanging to this LOL!

Sacred Blood – “Alexandros”

Sacred Blood – “Alexandros” (Pitch Black Records)

As ambitious as it is titled, this a concept album about none other than Alexander The Great! Greek epic metal trio Sacred Blood have set themselves as mighty a task as their Macedonian hero did in conquering Persia – but as bold as Alexander they rise to it with no less than 15 stirring tracks like ‘Phalanx Invicta’, ‘Before the Gates of Ishtar’ and ‘The Battle of the Granicus (Persian in Throes)’. With some modern metal hints coming from Maiden, the rest is pretty much in the epic / folk vein steeped in ancient culture and mythology but delivered in the same battle arousing fervor as those Greeks who went to forge an empire in the sands of time. Truly I would’ve only thought something of this magnitude possible from Manowar or Virgin Steele, but I’m really happy its a Greek band and the Hellenic metallers should feel proud for this, as it has done the Macedonian’s life true to his legend!

Kaos – “Validated In Blood”

Kaos – “Validated In Blood” EP (Malevolence Records)

No kidding man, if this should need a validation, then it should be signed by every f–kin thrasher in the Bay Area from the high n mighty Metallica to Exodus to Forbidden for Kaos are their thrash underdogs who have been scorching the streets of San Francisco since 1988! Still with that classic Bay Area sound, these never say die bangers might be a band out of time, but they’re still dishing it out with chopping thrash a bomb riffs, throat strained vocals and pummeling drums on songs like ‘United We Kill’, ‘Alive To Die’ and their cover of Vio-lence’s ‘Kill On Command’. Aggressive, uncompromising and unashamed, this is how it was, still is, and forever will be according to the law of Kaos!

Vera Grace – “Rotations”

Vera Grace – “Rotations” EP (www.facebook.com/veragraceband)

From the English wilds of Oxfordshire come Vera Grace, who are a modern metalcore band influenced by the likes of Underoath and Oceana – although these laid back lads don’t try too hard in being at it! Formed just a year ago after toying with idea for some time, Vera Grace fuse Stephen Nulty’s raw ‘words’ with the delicate guitars of Jonjo Williams and Chris Thirtle on songs like ‘Esther’s Imagination’, ‘Lost’ and ‘I Am The Earth’. Although heavy, “Rotations” appealed to me more in it’s laid back groove, ideal for lazing away on a sunday afternoon on a green field somewhere after a heavy hardcore nite in the pit LOL.

BLACK CROW KING

BLACK CROW KING might sound like a car crash at first but once you get used to the sound you’ll notice different layers and you’ll get dragged into it with no escaping in sight. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

There seem to be a whole new black metal movement going that celebrate mother earth instead of Satan. Where does this love for nature come from?
-I think that people are finally waking up and realising what is important, there will always be an ‘elitist’ group in black metal thinking that Satanism is the only way to go but personally I get more fulfillment from celebrating nature in all its aspects both dark and light. I have always loved and respected nature and turned away from organised religion at an early age because it could not match the feeling I got from nature and the primeval earth gods. I give what I can back to nature because let’s face it without it we are fucked!

What significance does the name Black Crow King carry? There’s a mythological ring to it.
-On the surface it is a tribute to Nick Cave because it bears the same name as one of my favourite Nick Cave songs, but you are correct there is a deeper meaning; I love crows and view them as messengers to the other world and also as the servants of death so therefore the Black Crow King is death personified.

Listening to your music I get a meditative feeling. What pictures is it that you are trying to paint with your music?
-I am glad to hear that you picked up on that, within the brutality and chaos of each song I have woven subtle more gentle sounds in the attempt to draw the listener into the song and thereby into my world. I want to give people a multifaceted experience when they listen to the music, at first hearing the brutality and harshness and then on repeated listens picking up on the subtle beauty running through most of the tracks.

When you write music how do you avoid being repetitive? Where does inspiration come from?
-It can be hard avoiding being repetitive but as you may have noticed I don’t use the verse / chorus / verse method of writing, the only song on the album that has a chorus to speak of is Crowbait but to keep that interesting over it’s 11 minutes I kept on changing the structure of the song and adding in new sounds and elements. That is true for all my music, I keep changing it as the song goes on to avoid the repetition. As for inspiration that is harder to say, lyrics wise inspiration comes from personal experiences and problems, my interest in crows and the primal gods and my misanthropic feelings – once I have written the lyrics I start creating the song and it just seems to take shape around the lyrics, ideas form in my head around the lyrics and the task is to get it down and recorded.

When your write songs that are longer than the standard 3 minutes how do you get them to flow and not stagnate?
-As I mentioned in my previous answer I avoid verse / chorus style writing and keep on changing the basics of the song, be it by adding in new instruments or sounds or by letting the song disintegrate into chaos or turning into a chant as in Excarnation Ritual at the end.

In being alone does that bring with a greater freedom to be creative? What limitations are there to being alone?
-The advantage of being alone is that you don’t have to argue with anybody about the direction of the music and I am naturally reclusive and misanthropic by nature so it suits me better, Black Crow King is very personal to me. I do admit though that I am limited in some respects, I would like to be a better guitarist hence I have 2 guest guitarists on the album who worked strictly to my wishes. Also you can become completely lost in your creations and at times they become very self serving without thought as to how they will be taken by listeners, to this end I have some people that I rely on to send completed songs to for outside opinions, Dave from badGod Music being 1 of them.

What use is a label in releasing your music? What can they do for you that you can’t do on your own?
-Personally I have found badGod Music to be brilliant in the support that they have given me, they have been tireless in promoting the band and trying to get me as much exposure as possible. For me due to my personality I would not be able to do what badGod have done, not only that but it is also easier for a label to get you reviewed as a serious artist as opposed to trying to do it without a label.

I sometime get a feeling that exclusivity takes precedent over exposure of your music when it comes to especially black metal. Can there ever be anything positive to being exclusive?
-I didn’t really set out to be ‘exclusive’ I just wanted to create something new to bring to the musical world. This is my way of communicating with the world for those who want to hear and listen. I find it very hard to relate to the world on a day to day basis so perhaps this has come across in my music but I can ensure you that it has nothing to do with being elitist or egotistical.

How do you expose yourself without losing your integrity? How important is that your music finds an audience?
-Due to my reclusive nature I let the label do the exposure for me and I stay in the shadows as much as possible and I will never go against anything in my nature so will not lose my integrity. It is hard to say, I have been silent for most of my life so this is my scream to the world to be heard but at the same time another part of me wants to just stay in the shadows and never be heard. Sorry but that is the best way that I can answer that question.

Will there be a future for Black Crow King?
-I sincerely hope that there will be, musically I have already completed a split album with The Earth King which is due for release on badGod Music later this year and I have started work on my follow up album as well.

Thank you for your interest in Black Crow King Anders, much appreciated.

BLOOD MORTIZED

I’m not gonna go on about how great the Swedish death metal of the late 80s/early 90s was because that you all know. All I’m going to say is that Swedish death metal of the 10s is just as great. Interview with Anders Biazzi and Gustav Myrin of BLOOD MORTIZED. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

In being a part of the Swedish death metal scene does that bring with it a certain expectation that you feel you need to live up to?
Anders – No we do our thing , we play what we like to play and don’t have no expectations to live up to , the only thing is to do a great fucking album like (The Key to a Black Heart)
Gustav – yeah, Lots of great bands has spawn from sweden, but we dont feel no pressure, only excitment for being a part of it.

It might just be me but I was pretty surprised when I first heard of you guys and noticed that you’d been at it for some time. Why didn’t I know more of you before the Bestial EP (which I bought on tape)?
Anders – I don’t know, I think it’s pretty hard now this days to come out to people in a big scale whit this kind of music if you don’t have good adds. We have had some problems whit labels and stuff, our first label Vrykoblast got bankrupt and fucked us, so our first album did not get any advertising. But our new labels Chaos Records and FDA Rekotz do good adds so hopefully we going to be more out there this time
Gustav – !

You’ve released a couple of records now. Do you notice that you get more coverage because you’re Swedish or because you release quality records?
Anders – A little of both I think, the Swedish DM is in right now and we make killer quality music hahaha so yes we get noticed
Gustav – well Swedish DM is a beautiful thing!! The quality is for Others to decide.

I have no idea what it is like to wait for people’s reaction to something you’ve produced musically. What kind of emotions runs through your head when you have to meet the public’s reactions?
Anders – I think the reviews are the coolest to read, okay it sucks when they are bad
But what can you do? Right! , but when they are good you get like a rush to pick up your guitar and make some more good music. If you only had gotten bad reviews I´d put the guitar in the closet
Gustav – it’s always a rush if someone like what you do, and even bigger rush if someone DON’T like what you do. It’s a win win situation hehehehe.

When you released records on smaller labels in far away countries how much of the promotion side do you have to handle yourself? What does it mean to have somebody professional handling the promotion?
Anders – We have really good promotion but we like to do some our self also , like whit you Anders , sending the album to reviewers that’s given us good reviews in the past I think that’s a cool thing to do , and you get some out faster hahaha as I say I really like reviews
Gustav – we try to get our music to as many people as possible. The record labels ”Chaos records” and ”FDA Rekotz” help us with that and we help them to help ourselves.

How pleased are you with this new album? How much of a progression is it? Do you even think in those terms about your music?
Anders – I’m really pleased with this album , it’s a mile stone in my career and it’s a big progression from the first album . The EP was like a teaser for this album .We really worked hard on this album some of the songs was written like 3 years ago and some now. So you can say it took 3 years on and off hahahah
Gustav – very pleased AND proud!!

Something I always wonder is where bands get their inspiration from. Where do you find enough stuff to actually write an album full of songs?
Anders – It’s hard to explain , you have good days and bad days . Be shore to look up the good days , then the riffs will flow like wine hahaha it’s that simple . If you have a bad day put on some music and get some inspiration that works some time , and it don’t have to be Death Metal
Gustav – Horror movies! And that’s the truth!

When you are a death metal band releasing records what kind of expectations do you have on sale figures and stuff like that?
Anders – The expectations is not big from my side, I only want some for myself and for some friends, records don’t sell that good I think, clothes sell better in this business
Gustav – It’s gonna sell gold hahahaha no no no, no expectations at all, hopefully someone will buy it.

What do you want to get out of releasing records, playing live and being in a band in general?
Anders – Playing some gigs and be a little famous I think, play live is the ultimate rush. So yes bring it on!
Gustav – Playing live!!!

I miss the times when you ordered fanzines from all corners of the World. How has the internet changed the way you promote you band today? Is it just enough to post your music online and sit back reaping the benefits/accolades?
Anders – Its really easy now to promote your band than before the net, but it’s not just to post your music online and sit back reaping the benefits/accolades, for some bands maybe, but you have to work hard for it , you never heard about us before you got the EP hahaha , so it’s not that easy
Gustav – I also miss the paper fanzines, but with the net we reach everybody very fast.