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Brootalisk’s Top Ten Loud Rock Albums of 2013

When each year is over, I’m always at a loss for how to summarize what a phenomenal year it’s been for metal, and 2013 was no different. It was the first year ever that a metal album was named the best record of the year by Metacritic, that Justin Bieber made his love for Metallica known, and that a metal cover of a pop song was voted to be the best out of 30 other covers. Normally, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck about these sensationalist news articles that exist only to get ratings and views. However, my recent trip to New York for the CMJ convention really taught me a lot about where the genre of metal stands right now in the grand scheme of things. To put it short: we metal heads NEED these kind of attention whoring events. With the music industry as a whole becoming less and less of a viable and sustainable option for many, the metal genre too is hurting because it’s not receiving the attention (and therefore sales) that it used to get back in the ’80s and early ’90s. That’s why I encourage people like Justin Bieber to wear a Metallica shirt, or for Kanye West to don “heavy metal” pants, no matter how atrocious they are. At least the metal genre is garnering more attention now than it has in the past decade. And while you may discourage attention from “non-trve” fans, keep in mind that the more attention the genre gets, the more sales, and thus money, it receives, which in turn emboldens upcoming artists to make new and exciting material, which (hopefully) garners more attention, and so on, until the circle of life is complete. /endrant

With that long winded tirade out of the way, let’s get back to what we’re all here for: me showing you a list of pretentious albums that you probably don’t care about but feel like you should because they’re my favorite albums of 2013. If you think you know better than I do, feel free to reply below, and I’ll take your choice into consideration as I cure cancer and solve world peace.

 

Entities

10) Pomegranate TigerEntities

Entities isn’t just a great album; it’s a great instrumental album, something that is becoming increasingly difficult to do in today’s over saturated instru-metal genre. What ‘s even more impressive is the fact that Pomegranate Tiger have managed to create an album that’s just as technically advanced as the frontrunners of the genre (see: Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit) while also being a coherent piece of art. And it’s exactly that: the progressive metal outfit have created a work that doesn’t just flaunt their prowess, but progresses the waterlogged brand of music, something that was desperately needed.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 11

 

 

 

 

 


Gorguts-Colored-Sands9) Gorguts
Colored Sands

I remember seeing Gorguts last year when they played with the Death to All group in San Francisco and thinking to myself, “This does not sound like a band whose last album was released eleven years ago.” Indeed, a year later, Gorguts has come out to show all the posers how it’s done with Colored Sands. With the record, Gorguts combines a few tricks they’ve learned with the trademarked technical brutality that they are just so damn good at. Couple that with the prowess of Kevin Hufnagel (of Dysrhythmia fame), and you’ve got one undeniably sexy record.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3 9

 

 

 

 

 

Russian-Circles-Memorial8) Russian Circles – Memorial

Arguably the most elegant release this year, Memorial is an amalgamation of everything Russian Circles has been up to this point. While “Deficit” showcases their inhuman capacity for catchy hooks, “1777” extracts itself from Russian Circles’ earlier moments featuring beautiful soaring melodies that transcends everything in its class. Unfortunately, Russian Circles apparently suffers from a short attention span, as the album is well under normal LP length times. Clocking in at 37 minutes, its just 7 minutes longer than Between the Buried and Me’s Parallax EP. An unfair comparison maybe, but it is worth noting. Nevertheless, less of a great thing is a good problem to have, and it’s still an achievement in of itself to accomplish so much with so little.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 6

 

 

 

 

 

pth7) Protest the Hero – Volition

Tell me, what were you thinking when Protest the Hero successfully funded their newest album Volition via Kickstarter? Were you thinking that the album would be as good as it was? Because I sure as hell was not. I was half expecting Choady to just run off with the money and buy as much cheap booze $300,000 could get him. Instead of shitty liquor, we’ve gotten Volition in return, and what an investment. The album’s chock full of what you’d expect from P T to the motherfucking H, but it’s also got a much more mature feel than their last effort. The record also harks back to the good ol’ days of Kezia, and even has a direct reference to Fortress in “Animal Bones,” which, if we’re being honest, I am a huge sucker for.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 10


 

 

 

 

Altar-of-Plagues-Teethed-Glory6) Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury

While Altar of Plagues is regrettably no more, we can celebrate their previous existence with their unforgettably enduring swan song that is Teethed Glory and Injury. During the album’s intense 48 minutes, you can definitively detect the painstaking detail that went into each and every note of the album. This record will chill you to your very core. It will rattle your mind. There is nothing easy about this album, which makes it that much more great. Unlocking an album of this magnitude takes time, but it is time well worth investing.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 9

 

 

 

 

 

Vertikal+cult_of_luna5) Cult of LunaVertikal

My deeply personal inner struggles with the ISIS disbandment has left many emotional scars on me, causing me to have trust issues with post-metal bands. However, there is one outfit that I can always have confidence in: Cult of Luna. With Vertikal, they’ve solidified what I’ve always known: they’re the best active post-metal ensemble right now (come at me Neurosis). And what a way to showcase their vast expertise and knowledge: Vertikal is a concept album that, at its core, deals with a government who is corrupted in a big-brother fashion. With the NSA scandal, never before is such a notion as relevant as it is today, and Vertikal was released before that defamation even occurred. Either Cult of Luna are indeed really good at writing concept albums, or they’re psychics from another dimension. I’m leaning towards the latter.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 6, 8

 

 

 

 


Deafheaven-Sunbather4) Deafheaven
– Sunbather

No band on this list, and potentially in all of metal, shows more blinding potential than San Francisco’s own Deafheaven. Everywhere I look, George Clark (vocalist) is right there with his creepy ass stare. Hell, they were even in an Apple advertisement for fuck’s sake. Combine their increase in popularity with an entrancing live performance, and there’s only one thing missing for this band to blow up: good music. HAH. Just kidding. Sunbather kicks monumental anus. The record perfectly treads the line between uplifting affection and sinister despair. 

Recommended Tracks: 1, 5, 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ovid's Withering Scryers of the Ibis3) Ovid’s Withering – Scryers of the Ibis

Talk about coming out of nowhere. By the time I had heard this album for the first time, I already had my top ten list nicely made and organized, and Ovid’s Withering throws their debut album right out of left field to fuck everything up. And I couldn’t be happier about it. Scryers of the Ibis is everything I have ever wanted from a technical metal record, and more that I couldn’t have ever dreamed of. From the absurdly destructive riffs to the intricately and impeccably placed electronic segments, Scryers of the Ibis is one of the greatest debuts of any technical metal outfit in history. Period.

Recommended Tracks: 4, 8, 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprous Coal2) Leprous – Coal

Coal is arguably the most criminally overlooked album this year. It’s also one of the best progressive metal albums in recent years. No more is Leprous just Ihsahn’s “back up band.” Gone is the looming moniker of “Opeth wannabes.” Leprous is a genuinely original band with a hell of a lot of talent, and Coal features every aspect of their incredible musicianship. From Einar’s soaring vocals to the ridiculously catchy rhythms by bassist Martin, this album has everything you would ever want from a progressive metal record. Also, I don’t care what anyone says, but “The Valley” is undoubtedly the best song of the year.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 5

 

 

 

 

 

TheOcean-Pelagial1) The Ocean – Pelagial

Ultimately, there’s not much to say about a #1 album of the year except to simply yell through your computer LISTEN TO THIS GODDAMN ALBUM OR I WILL SHOVE IT INSIDE YOUR EARHOLES. Assuming you have listened to it, here’s a reason why this is the definitive metal record of the year: it’s a concept album about the motherfucking depths of the ocean written by a band called The Ocean. All kidding aside, Pelagial is, in this humble writer’s opinion, the epitome of a perfectly executed metal record. It’s coherent in every sense of the word. Each song flows flawlessly into each other. Everything is meticulously placed where it should be while still feeling natural and organic. It is the perfect mix of experimentation and execution. There will never be another record quite like Pelagial, and because of it there will never be another year quite like 2013.


Recommended Tracks: 2, 4, 9

TopTenAlbumsOfTheHalfYear1

Brootalisk’s Top Ten Albums of the Half Year

Since everyone is doing it, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon (that’s what all the cool kids are doing, right?) and share the ten albums in 2013 that have made me change my booty shorts more than I’d like to admit. Without further ado, here are my ten favorite albums of the year so far (in alphabetical order). Oh, and I think it goes without saying that if you haven’t heard an album listed here, do yourself a kindness and crank that shit up.

Altar-of-Plagues-Teethed-Glory-InjuryAltar of PlaguesTeethed Glory and Injury

 

 

 

 

 

Anciients-Heart-of-Oak-SmallAnciientsHeart of Oak

 

 

 

 

 

vertikalCult of LunaVertikal

 

 

 

 

 

Deafheaven_-_Sunbather_LPDeafheavenSunbather

 

 

 

 

 

Intronaut-Habitual-Levitations-800x800IntronautHabitual Levitations (Instilling Words with Tones)

 

 

 

 

 

Leprous-CoalLeprousCoal

 

 

 

 

 

mouth-of-the-architect-dawningMouth of the ArchitectDawning

 

 

 

 

 

TheOcean-PelagialThe OceanPelagial

 

 

 

 

 

imagesPomegranate TigerEntities

 

 

 

 

 

Scale-the-Summit-The-MigrationScale the SummitThe Migration

 

 

 

 

 

Another 10 bands to keep on the lookout in the 2nd half of 2013: AlcestBehemoth, Exivious, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Gorguts, Opeth, Protest the Hero, Revocation, Rosetta, Russian Circles.

DEP3

Greg Puciato from The Dillinger Escape Plan Talks Crazy Shows & Crazier Poop!

Yes, you read that headline correctly. As the vocalist for (in)famous extreme metal band The Dillinger Escape Plan, Greg Puciato has seen some shit. Literally. In this exclusive interview, Greg mentions a hilariously disgusting event that will go down in UK history. Have I piqued your curiosity? Read below to satisfy those dire questions that I just know you have.

From what I’ve seen, your newest album has been garnering rave reviews from critics and fans alike. How does it feel to know that something you’ve spent so much time and effort on has been widely praised?

It feels good. I actually haven’t read any of them, I know it’s been positive across the board but I try not to read any of them. I mean, we already recorded it, so we wouldn’t have put it out if we didn’t think it was good. We can’t change anything about it now, so I don’t want to hear why someone thinks it sucks, and I don’t want to hear why someone thinks it good either. It just makes you too self aware. It corrupts you artistically. Obviously, though, someone else liking what we do is a good thing. It always startles me, because we make music for selfish motivations. So when you put it out and other people are able to relate to it, it’s pretty gratifying.

What are those selfish motivations you mentioned?

Obviously artistic people have issues, otherwise they wouldn’t be making art. So the fact that we’re in our thirties and we’re choosing to do something that’s not really commercially motivated is probably the reason why none of us go to therapy *laughs*. We use this to work things through in our lives and because we feel like we have something to get out of ourselves, and the fact that people buy it or show up to see us create it is a huge plus.

“We had to petition to be allowed back inside the UK because apparently we broke some sort of public indecency law sixty thousand times over. They told us, ‘It’s illegal to shit in public in front of one person, and you did it in front of sixty thousand people.'”

I understand that MetalSucks recently voted you as their #1 front man. What was your reaction to that?

It’s a huge honor. I don’t really think about that stuff too much, because once you start becoming too self aware you believe that you have to fulfill certain things. However, from an objective standpoint, I don’t think there’s anyone in my generation out there that’s doing what we’re doing as a band. So I do feel that we’re collectively at the top of our games, and I don’t really think we have any competition at being The Dillinger Escape Plan, but for someone to say that I’m the best current modern front man is crazy. Like I said, I don’t really listen to a lot of this kind of music to know the type of people who I would be “competing” against. I don’t really think of music as a sport, but I get that it’s fun to make lists. I saw the list though, and it’s weird to quantify art and to try to say something like, “This is the BEST director.” But maybe there’s people who do different things? Obviously Stanley Kubrick is really good at making a certain kind of movie, but maybe Judd Apatow is better at making silly romantic comedies. So it’s hard to say that, but I really do appreciate it.

I know you were voted #1 mainly for your insane live performances. Where do you find this kind of crazy energy for every single show? Starting out, what made you decide to do these kinds of stunts?

Really, it’s because I’m a crazy person. *laughs* Honestly, once we start playing, our music is very energetic and very cathartic, and you kind of instinctively become a physical embodiment of that. The day it becomes theatre, I don’t want to do it anymore. There’s never a moment where I say to myself, “Oh I’m gonna climb on this thing or jump on this thing”, and a lot of the time I don’t even know that it happened until afterward when someone shows me a YouTube video or something. Usually I’m very calmed down by then and when I see the video it looks really dangerous, and I’ll say, “That’s crazy, did I really do that? That’s not safe!” I wouldn’t do that stuff if I was just walking around during the day, but when you’re playing you kind of get out of your head. You’re in a different place completely and you don’t really think about that stuff, which is the way it should be. The second I start thinking about something, I don’t do it. I don’t want to corrupt the process.

Greg bloodied at the Golden Gods Award Show.

Greg bloodied and bruised, but not broken, at the Golden Gods Awards Show.

I watched your performance at the Golden Gods Awards show, and while I thought you guys put on a fucking awesome show, I was disappointed at the crowds enthusiasm. How did you feel about that?

Well, we knew that was gonna be the case. When they released tickets to the public, the people that bought them up instantly were Metallica fans. At that point, we had two choices. We could either meet those people halfway and play catchier songs and tone down our performance, or we could recognize that in those three of four minutes we have the opportunity to show those people shit that they would never ever see in their entire lives. Those people are used to seeing bands like Disturbed and Metallica and Godsmack and, in general, active rock bands that play radio rock. If those people have never seen anything like us, even remotely, then why not play that angle and go in the complete opposite direction and make them look at you like you have thirty fucking heads. We’re not trying to win over a room full of fourty year olds. We were aware that the point would be to be the oddball at the show by a landslide.

I’m excited as fuck for this years Summer Slaughter, but I’ve been seeing a lot of other perspectives, with fans exclaiming how this years tour isn’t extreme anymore. What’s your take on it?

I know that festival has a history of being more of a death metal tour, so I think the criticism is directed at us not being a death metal band, and I think this might be the first year that it’s not primarily death metal oriented. I think it’s a smart move on the promoter’s end though, because if they cater to their audience, then they’re going to be pigeonholed forever, and that’s been our thing too. We never want to give people exactly what they’d expect from us. People might bitch about it on the internet, but they’re going to respect the tour more for doing what it wants to do. It’s not like the rooms aren’t going to be full, they have us and Animals as Leaders headlining. The rooms are going to be packed. If people bitch about it and they don’t want to come, they don’t have to come. But if they bitch about it and they do come and they see us live and they still say that we’re not extreme, then they’re just lying to themselves. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to me.

What would you say was the craziest show you ever performed at?

It’s crazy because we’ve played so many shows, literally over two thousand shows. It’s so much easier to remember albums and the recording processes because there’s less of them, but shows…Even in the last 30 days we’ve played 27 shows, so a lot of the time I’ll forget them until someone reminds me, but there are still some things that when they happen you’re like, “Whoa that was fucking crazy!” There was a show in Los Angeles at the House of Blues where it basically became a riot and security guards were everywhere and six police cars came. People were throwing shit around, someone got hit with a chair, and it was one of the only times where I was like, “Okay, this is out of control now.” Then there was a show in Virginia where our guitarist’s guitar got stolen off the stage, my foot got ran over by a car when I ran out in the parking lot to try to get it back, and a guy from Cattle Decapitation threw a hammer at the car and smashed out the back windshield. There’s been some stuff that has happened that’s been out of our control, and those are the ones I kind of remember the most. The shit that people talk about, like running on people’s heads, I don’t actually remember those things happening. The crazy stuff is the stuff where you’re on stage and you say to yourself, “Whoa this is getting out of hand” and you become a spectator of the environment instead of them being a spectator of you.

When I was doing research to write the questions for the interview, one of the things I read about was your performance at the Reading Festival in the UK back in 2002.

You’re gonna ask about the throwing shit thing.

You got me!

Haha, well again it was kind of like the Golden Gods situation where we were playing with a bunch of radio rock bands. We played first on the main stage, at about noon. At those types of festivals, a lot of people sleep in tents at the festival itself, and they’ll start meandering around at noon not really paying attention, so we were wondering what we could do to separate ourselves from the rest of these bands that are playing, because we have absolutely nothing in common with Puddle of Mudd and stuff like that. So all these weird radio rock bands are playing, and we’re going to play in front of all those fans. We were gonna be a spectacle anyway, so lets just take it as far as we can. You know, you see people like GG Allin who do all this gnarly shit, but they do it in front of twenty people in a basement. I want people to see stuff en masse that they’ve never seen before, and metal and rock is all about theatrics. If there’s fire on stage, it’s contained, it was planned, it explodes a certain way, and there’s not much risk. If there’s blood, it’s fake blood. If Gwar is shooting feces at the crowd, it’s actually chocolate milk. For someone to see shit being wiped over a person and thrown out into a crowd, or to see you on TV bleeding from the face shooting fire that isn’t contained, that jars people. It takes them out of their comfort zone, and that’s what we wanted to do, and it worked, because it was unheard of and we almost got banned from the UK. We had to petition to be allowed back inside the UK because apparently we broke some sort of public indecency law sixty thousand times over. They told us, “It’s illegal to shit in public in front of one person, and you did it in front of sixty thousand people.” *laughs* We actually had to petition to come back, and now it’s following me forever. It’s really interesting, because outside of the music scene, that became a news story over there, and on mainstream newspapers and stuff like that with the headline, “Dude from band that you’ve never heard of does this horrible thing.” So sometimes over there mainstream press that don’t know about The Dillinger Escape Plan will say, “Oh that’s that guy that shit all over his face.” *laughs* That’s just so weird to me that that’s even a thing.

Thankfully, Greg decided to spare San Francisco his fecal matter...this time.

Thankfully, Greg decided to spare San Francisco his fecal matter…this time.

What do you attribute to playing with all these commercial rock bands? You guys are arguably one of the craziest acts out there and yet you’re playing with all these safe rock bands.

The people that are in charge of those things are still awesome at heart. That’s what it is. And they’re still on our team. Whether it’s the guy who runs Golden Gods or the people who run the Reading Festival or all these fests, they know they have to balance a line between selling tickets and appeasing their inner wish of cool shit running the earth. They’re always kind of behind the scenes to us. We’re really lucky to have those kind of people in our corner that are higher up and get us into all these bizarre situations.

Taking it down a notch from shooting fire and smearing feces, now that you’ve finished One of Us is the Killer, what are your plans for the rest of the year and next year?

Well we’ve still got like one hundred and forty shows booked in 2013 so we’re slammed. I actually just looked at my schedule for this year for the first time and it’s pretty nuts. We only have about six weeks off between now and December. So, we’re gonna do this tour, we’re gonna go straight to Orion Fest with Metallica, go to Europe for a few weeks, come back to the states, and do Summer Slaughter. THEN in the month of September I’m going to record a project with Max Cavalera and Troy Sanders from Mastodon as a kind of one-off album. In October and November we go back to Europe and in December we’re looking at possibly going to Australia and Japan, and then probably another headliner in the U.S. in early 2014. By that point hopefully we’ll know what we’re doing for the summer of 2014. As you can tell, once you put a record out, the opportunities to go places and do stuff are endless, and we want to keep doing as much as we can because we won’t be able to do this forever.

Is that collaboration with Max and Troy the one planned back in 2011, and do you mind expanding on it a little bit?

Yeah, it is. We’ve got about twelve songs written and it’s a little thrashier and doomier than my usual stuff. It’s kind of like my homage to more straightforward metal and what I grew up listening to. Max Cavalera and I met each other at a Deftones benefit for Chi Cheng (former bassist for Deftones) a few years ago, and I sang a song for him on a Soulfly record, and we just wrote really quickly together and had a lot of fun, so we toyed around with the idea of writing a whole record together. We would test one another every time we saw each other, asking if we were serious about the project, but after a while we just said fuck it, and started writing some songs. Then we were on tour with Mastodon, and I was telling Troy about it, and he asked who was playing bass. When I told him we didn’t know yet, he said, “I’m playing bass. I’m throwing myself into this. You’re not saying no.” It was at that point when I realized that this could turn into something really cool, because we have three different singers, all writing riffs for this thing. We only want to do one record, I’m not trying to launch another band. It’s something a lot of jazz and hip hop musicians do, where they get together to write something, maybe play a few festivals together, and then be done with it.

You’ve done collaborations with a lot of artists over the years, from Devin Townsend and Prong to Soulfly and Genghis Tron. You seem to really enjoy doing these one-off collaborations.

I love em man. I feel like you grow so much, artistically, when you take yourself out of your comfort zone. I love writing songs with Ben (DEP lead guitarist) and Liam (DEP bassist) and we are definitely growing, but if we didn’t take things from outside influences, we wouldn’t have anything new to bring to the table. You have to grow as an individual and put yourself in crazy life experiences to write crazy music, but you also have to grow musically, and the best way to do that is for someone to throw you a pitch you’re not quite sure how to hit. That’s why I like doing it so much. I wouldn’t have written Dillinger vocals on this record anywhere close to how I wrote them if I wasn’t doing other collaborations on the side.

Greg preparing to take a dive into the welcoming crowd beneath him.

Greg preparing to take a dive into the welcoming crowd beneath him.

When I talked with Misha Mansoor of Periphery a year or two ago, he said that the reason why they write what they write is because of their love for electronic music and the influences that genre has on them, and it seems to be the case for you as well.

Yeah, I think it’s important because if you’re listening to just your peers, you’re going to regurgitate all the same stuff that they’re doing, but I think it’s way more interesting for people to not be able to trace your influences. If you’re listening to some weird underground electronic thing that only a thousand people like, and you bring that into what you’re doing and filter it and put it into Dillinger, people will ask where you come up with that. But if you’re just listening to Converge and Lamb of God and stuff like that, it becomes too incestuous creatively. You’re not making any forward progress.

You guys write a lot of weird time signatures, which is why many dub you as “mathcore.” I’m actually a math major myself, and I’m super into math. Are you guys into that kind of thing as well?

We’re terrible at it. Absolutely terrible. *laughs* We don’t really write thinking about that kind of stuff. Other people tell us what they are. We’ll have people tell us, “You guys are playing in sixteen over seven, that’s crazy!” I’ve never once in my head counted Dillinger time signatures. In four albums over twelve years, I could not tell you off the top of my head what time signature any of our songs are in.

Does that just happen organically?

Yeah, I think we just write very instinctively, and Ben’s brain is really out there too. I know that when he sits down and writes, he’s writing based on feel. To me, the alarming thing is that that’s what that guy writes when he sits down by himself. He’s a crazy person. Normal people sit down and it doesn’t sound like pots and pans falling down steps. When Ben sits down and writes that, the fact that that’s what’s going on in his brain when he picks up a guitar and writes is terrifying.

[Author’s note: Ben was in the room chuckling to himself as Greg discussed his lunatic ways]

Is that what you base your range and lyrics on?

Well, he and the rest of the band send me finished songs, and then I try to write as close to recording as possible. That way I have emotional relevance of what I’m screaming about. I mean, if I wrote six months ago, and tried to pick pieces apart and fit them in a song, not only would they not make sense together, I wouldn’t even remember what I was writing about. Or, if I did remember it, I wouldn’t have any emotional connection to it. If I went into the studio to try to scream, which should already be a very intense emotion, you’d be screaming trying to remember what you were pissed or depressed about, which you probably won’t be pissed or depressed about six months down the line, so you have to create a facsimile of it. Then you’re giving someone a copy of your genuine emotion. That sucks, you shouldn’t do that. So I pretty much try to make a mess out of my life close to the recording process, and then write all my lyrics really quickly.

I know you fairly recently took to Twitter and Facebook to rant about religious and political issues. Was that part of the writing process you mentioned?

No, I write pretty much completely autobiographical. The only people who really know what I’m writing about are my producer, the people in the band, and everyone else directly around me. I also never start writing with a topic in mind. I just start writing to see what comes out of me, and maybe about halfway through the song I’ll see what I’m dealing with and try to hone in on it a little bit more. But when I write, I write almost automatically and abstractly. I just sit down and blurt it out, and afterward I’ll try to figure out what’s going on in my subconsciousness that I need to dive into. To do that you only really have two options. You can either pull it out and lay it out for everybody to look at, or you can hide from it and say that’s too much, and not go there. But pretty much everything I write about is coming directly from my subconscious.

Have you ever written something so wild that your band mates or producer don’t want to use it for a song?

Nah, I don’t think they’d care. I don’t think they even read my lyrics to be honest. They weren’t there when I was tracking vocals, they had gone home already. However, they have very high respect for my process, and I don’t think they’d ever question what I put out there. We are more of an artistic band than a lot of other bands, so it’s not necessary for us to spell things out for other people. If we were writing a pop song, and the lyrics were really abstract, we’d reach a point where we’d have to make our message more obvious because we’re trying to reach a wider audience, but like I said before we are doing this very selfishly, so I don’t really care if other people know what I’m talking about or not.

Last question for the day and I’ll get out of your hair: who, or what, would you say are some of your outside influences?

Like Misha, I really love electronic music too. That’s probably the music that I listen to the most right now. I like electronic a lot. I’ve been writing music on the side with this electronic guy, who is in Nine Inch Nails now, and he’s been feeding me all of this really out there electronic stuff. That’s kind of been my last two years of listening, all this bizarre out there ambient electronic stuff. When I was young the stuff that planted the seed for me was death metal and thrash and punk and hardcore and that kind of thing. I grew up in the city so I listened to a lot of Hip Hop and R&B as well, which I think has colored my note choices and overall sound. Certain inflections in my voice probably wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t grown up listening to a lot of “urban music”, for lack of a better term. Now though, I just like music that moves me. I don’t really care what genre it’s in. If there’s an Oasis song on that I like, I’m not bummed. I’m not like, “Oh man I can’t like Oasis!” There’s different stuff for different times of day or different vibes in your life. The music you want to party to isn’t necessarily the music you want to drive somewhere in a hurry to.

I remember reading somewhere that when you first joined Dillinger, you were a fan of their music. How was being in a band that you grew up listening to?

It was definitely weird. Well, it’s not weird now because I’ve been in the band for twelve years, and I pretty much separate my life by Dillinger and pre-Dillinger. Pre-Dillinger to me is like childhood, because I was only twenty-one when I joined, so before that I was a baby. I had only known about the band for maybe a year and a half before I joined, and we moved so fast between the time I joined the band to our recording of Miss Machine that I didn’t really get a chance to stop and think about it until like four or five years flew by. But now, looking back, I don’t know what else I would be doing. This band and the music that we’re playing and the creative relationship that Ben and I have…not that I believe that things happen for a reason, but I could not have found a better vehicle for my skill set as a writer and performer than this band. I wouldn’t be writing aggressive music or playing in any other capacity. I believe that people manifest their destiny, somewhat, so I think that Dillinger and I are on a great journey and that we were supposed to meet.

That’s all that I have for you! Do you have anything you would like to add?

I just want to say thanks to all the people that give a shit about us, whether you’re new or old. I know that we’re not the easiest band to like, but if anyone is into it at all, I know that you put some work in to get here, so we really truly appreciate it.

 

You can catch Greg and his band The Dillinger Escape Plan on their headlining tour with The Faceless and Royal Thunder before they play Orion Fest on June 9th. 

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Intronaut Vocalist Sacha Dunable Discusses New Album, New Tour, New…Dolphin T-Shirts?

As one of the quickest risers in metal right now, Intronaut has been maintaining a very healthy fan base and a very solid discography. Recently, they added to that collection with Habiutal Levitations (Instilling Words with Tones), and apparently it was good enough to get a headlining tour with master instrumetallers Scale the Summit (which, by the way, comes to San Francisco on July 5th). Yours truly recently got to talk with the lead vocalist from the stoner metal outfit and chat about their newest album, their tour with Scale the Summit, and their latest additions to their shirt catalog.

What were you looking to accomplish with the new record?

Well, I don’t know if there was any one “goal” that we had in mind to accomplish necessarily, but I guess the thing that you’re always going for is to make a better record than the last one and to let ourselves evolve and progress into something new and fresh each time rather than putting out the same kind of record over and over again.

Habitual Levitations doesn’t feature the “growly vocals” that were present in your past records. What made you decide to do this kind of transformation?

Like I said, it’s just evolving as a musician and a person, really. Especially with the new record, and partially with the last, writing music where you’re just growling into a microphone after spending all of your time writing well thought out instrumental parts just seemed like it didn’t quite fit anymore.  The music isn’t really coming from an angsty place at this point, if that makes sense? It’s hard to explain to somebody that might not be in a band, but if you’re on stage screaming into a microphone, it just doesn’t feel as natural. Expressing that kind of angry, angsty side wasn’t what I was after, it just doesn’t feel natural anymore. Not to say that it will never happen again in our music, but while we were writing that record, that’s where we were all coming from.

How do you feel towards the reception you’ve received towards your latest album?

It seems fine, about the same as always really. Most people are into it, and there’s always some people who aren’t into it, which is to be expected if you’re changing things up from record to record. This time however there’s been more passionate hatred, and I take that as a good sign *laughs*. It shows that people care enough to say something negative about it. Everything else has been really good I think. I haven’t really noticed anything out of the ordinary as far as that goes.

You’ve always kind of been the “poster boys” for stoner metal. How do you feel about that label? Do you embrace it or try to shrug it off?

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I don’t really care. I mean, I would be lying if I said a lot of our music wasn’t written while under the influence, but personally I’m not what you would call a “stoner.” I think we’ve just played into that because we think it’s kind of funny, you know? It enables us to do ridiculous things, like a dolphin in a spacesuit smoking pot *laughs*. Also, when you’re on the road, you end up smoking pot with random fans. It’s just a good way to interact with people. So I don’t know if one would say we’re the “poster boys” for stoner metal, but we’ll play into it. It’s funny.

Is that why you guys made those shirts? I mean, I find them hilarious, but I really have to ask: whats with the dolphin t-shirts? 

*laughs* I don’t remember exactly where it started, but basically whenever we’re writing records, we’ll name our recordings in the hard drive with a joke title, and a few records ago one of those joke titles was “Barbecued Dolphin.” So, that became our funny little inside joke, and finally I just decided to ask this guy to make a barbecued dolphin t-shirt. He ended up flipping it around and turned it into a bunch of dolphins barbecuing, which is still to this day my favorite Intronaut shirt ever. We just loved it so much we started incorporating dolphin stuff into other things. This one time, we were playing at Budapest, Hungary, and this guy brought us this beautiful carved dolphin out of soapstone. And on this last tour, someone brought a dolphin glass pipe *laughs*. I don’t know, I guess it’s kind of become our thing.

Speaking of excitement, how pumped are you guys for the upcoming Scale the Summit tour?

It’s gonna be awesome man. We’re really excited to get out and do a real proper headliner, and we have Scale the Summit coming along too. It’s gonna be sweet. We’ve never actually played with them, I don’t think, but we’ve known them for a really long time. They actually used to live here in L.A., so we would always go to each others shows and whatnot. So we’re excited to be out with them. And then Mouth of the Architect, which is a band we’ve played with a couple times, and Joe, our bass player, actually filled in with them a few times over the years. So yeah, it’s gonna be a killer tour, for sure.

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What are your plans for the rest of the year, and what do you hope to accomplish as a band?

We’re working on getting more tours lined up. So we’re going to be touring more this year, and into next year, I’m sure. We’re already starting to think about the next record, but of course that’s going to take a while to get put together. As far as our goals, I don’t know man, we just want to keep doing this band. It’s just what we love doing. We’ve gotten to a point where it’s pretty much sustainable and we can hopefully just keep making records. Who knows what the future holds as far as the music industry goes, but I think we’re in a pretty good place. We have a nice small fan base that are devoted enough to help us do this. Hopefully for as long as we want to do it.

Intronaut are headlining a tour with Scale the Summit and Mouth of the Architect/Castle, starting in June. If you’re interested (which you should be) you can find more information here

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A Critical Analysis of the Summer Slaughter Butthurt

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On the fateful day of Friday March 22nd, a dramatic event that has shaken and reverberated across the entire metal community occurred: the line up at this years Summer Slaughter Festival was announced. Hordes upon hordes of furious metal heads took to their respective computers to proclaim that this is irrevocably the worst thing to happen since the first use of Comic Sans. It was as if thousands of voices cried out in terror, with guttural screams ranging from how the tour has “sold out” to shrieks of despair exclaiming that Summer Slaughter has gone soft on us. All this backlash from a simple tour announcement raises the questions: what gives? Why all the moaning and groaning at what seems (at least at first glance) like a solid line up? It’s prompted yours truly to do some critical thinking, like counting on my fingers, to try and figure this whole mess out.

 

First, let’s look at the bands on the line up. As seen to the left, four of the eight announced bands (Dillinger, Animals, Periphery, and The Ocean) are almost universally considered to be some of the premier progressive acts currently making music in the metal genre. It’s also worth noting that of these four, three of them are at the top of the bill, implying that they’ll be playing the longest sets during every show. The remaining four bands could loosely be described as death metal, with Norma Jean being the outlier. The point of all this band cataloging  is to show that at least half of the tour will be playing progressive metal. This isn’t counting the bands that have yet to be announced, which, if my sources are correct, include Veil of Maya and Within the Ruins, two more fairly progressive metal acts.

Another important note: Animals as Leaders and Periphery have already both been on this bill, with Periphery touring as recently as last year (you can throw Veil of Maya in that bucket too if my hypothesis is correct).

Looking at the previous Summer Slaughter line ups, it’s really interesting to see how the tour has progressed over these past 5 years. It’s gone from featuring some of the biggest death metal bands in the genre, such as Necrophagist and Black Dahlia Murder, to more progressive outfits, like Between the Buried and Me and Dillinger Escape Plan. In reality, this is where the entire metal genre has been headed during the past 5 years. We are currently in the middle of the transition from death metal being the most popular subgenre to progressive metal. If you’re still in doubt, just look at how fast Protest the Hero completed their Indiegogo campaign, or the incredibly rapid rise in popularity both Animals as Leaders and Periphery have found after only two albums. The point is, there’s a big shift in the metal genre right now, and the current Summer Slaughter line up is entirely indicative of this.

Thus, with all this information in mind, can we really blame all the angry metal heads out there raging over the Summer Slaughter bill? If, hypothetically, the Progressive Nation Tour started to feature black metal after 5 years, it’d be pretty easy to be upset at such a scenario. Sure, there are definitely black metal bands who push the envelope and “progress” the genre, but do they really belong on a bill that advertises itself as a progressive metal tour? An answer to such a question is one of pure opinion, and it can be debated, but there’s no real right answer. It’s just like saying that Animals as Leaders aren’t “extreme” enough to be on a tour that showcases some of the most “extreme” bands in the metal genre. How is “extreme” defined? The trio that make up Animals as Leaders are without a doubt some of the most talented musicians out there, and can certainly shred it up when they want to, but does that make them “extreme”? The same goes for the rest of the aforementioned bands. It’s completely up to debate just how extreme these musicians are, with no clear right or wrong answer. Even so, it’s hard to deny the fact that each and every band on the current line up is unique and different in their own way, and should not be missed simply because they might be out of place on this festival.

So when you’re on the forums of Heavy Blog is Heavy, or you’re perusing the Summer Slaughter Facebook page, before you go judging the metal heads who are completely bashing the line up, understand where they are coming from. Sure, they’re going to be missing out on some of the finest acts that the metal genre has to offer when the festival rolls around this summer, but know that their indignation is at least somewhat reasonable, with just a slight hint of butthurt.

Dan Briggs

Between the Buried and Me Bassist Dan Brigss Talks New Tour, New Band & Album

I recently was given the opportunity to chat with the bassist from progressive metal giant Between the Buried and Me. Below you can read highlights of our conversation in which we cover Russian Circles, Dan’s new band Trioscapes and even an AMA they conducted on reddit not too long ago. 

Brootalisk: How did you feel about the critical acclaim towards The Parallax II? Do you think it’s been a long time coming, or were you surprised to see it atop many year end lists?

Dan Briggs: Definitely not. We set out to kind of make our own version of a rock opera, just trying to make an over the top, thematic, progressive metal, operatic story, and it ended up being 70 something minutes long. You never know how something is going to turn out and be perceived. So we in the studio really felt like it was the best thing we had done, and that’s a hard thing to try to instill on people before they even hear the record. With all that in mind, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how it’s been received. It’s definitely a bit of a shock for such a long record to be embraced by so many people. For me, when I listen to it, it doesn’t quite feel as long. The important thing about it was the flow, and I think there’s a lot of that that contributes to the theatrical feel that we were going for. We’re definitely excited about it.

Brootalisk: Were you surprised at all to see it atop of many year-end lists?

Dan: You know, I didn’t really see that it was, but that’s cool!

Brootalisk: Oh yeah, it topped a lot.

Dan: Oh wow, that’s awesome! [laughs]

Brootalisk: Your upcoming tour with Coheed and Russian Circles is obviously in support of The Parallax II. How much of your set will be devoted to new material, and can fans expect some of their favorite old tunes to make it into the set list?

Dan: It’s gonna be about half new stuff time wise. We didn’t want to do too much off of it. Of course, for us we just want to got out and play the whole thing, but we can’t. It’s kind of a matter of picking out songs that we were really excited about and that we wanted to play, and that we though would be a good balance for this tour, and finding older songs that compliment those well. We have such a big catalog now that making a set list is almost like creating an album. You want to have a good flow and have it come down at the right moments to give yourself and the crowd a break. Our music has a lot of those dynamics naturally, so it’s just finding the right mix of songs. It gets harder and harder because we keep putting out records, so we just have more songs to choose on. But, it’s the first tour we’re doing in America since the album came out, so hopefully people will want to hear new stuff.

Brootalisk: How much time are you given for your set?

Dan: We have around an hour.

Brootalisk: I’ve heard some unique and downright strange ways band members ready their bodies for a set. Do you have a preshow warm up? If so, what does it consist of?

Dan: I stretch before we play. I always stretch to get my body looser, but I’ve also employed deeper stretches for my legs and IT bands. Aside from that though, we don’t do anything weird. We just sit there and practice our instruments. Maybe some casual stretching on the side. I think Blake does some push ups. So that’s kind of weird, I guess. [laughs]

Brootalisk: I was surprised, but very happy, to see that Russian Circles were chosen as the supporting band for the tour. Did you have any influence in choosing them to support your and Coheed’s tour?

Dan: We did! What originally happened, we were supposed to be in the middle of a headlining tour at this point that was going to involve Russian Circles as well, and I think Coheed had some tour packages fall through, so they picked up our tour package and added it to theirs. Russian Circles was a band that we picked to go on tour with us, and now they’re going on tour with Coheed and us!

Brootalisk: What’s your opinion of the band?

Dan: They’re cool! I’ve been getting into some of their more recent stuff. I remember listening to their very first record when it first came out, and I thought it was cool, but I just kind of fell off after that. Not for any reason, I just kinda stopped listening to them. They’re a very interesting band and very interesting kind of instrumental band, so I think it’s going to be a very neat package. I think every band has their own crowd. I’ve been a huge Botch fan, so I’m extremely excited to nerd out on their bass player a bit.

Brootalisk: Going off topic a little bit, you conducted an AMA on reddit before your newest record released. Can you give some insight on what kind of experience that was for you?

Dan: It was fun. I had never been to reddit before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea. I didn’t know the format at all. When it started, we weren’t together at all. We were at our respective homes, so I didn’t really know what to do! But it was fun! It was cool. There were a lot of people that asked questions, and we tried to answer as many as we could. Paul’s personality definitely shined through. He’s a very sarcastic and funny guy, something that people might not necessarily get just from watching him play on stage or reading his interviews. We did it with the hope that it would be a bit more laid back and teach the fans more about us than they normally would get.

Brootalisk: Would you ever do one again?

Dan: Yeah totally, now that I actually understand the format!

Brootalisk: Speaking of internet popularity, are you aware of Protest the Hero’s attempt to go independent with their latest album? What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it’s a potentially viable way for bands to start funding an album?

Dan: It seems like it, if they raised that much money! To make an album, we’ve probably only ever had about half that much. I guess you don’t really need that much to make an album nowadays. But, I’m glad it’s an option for people to come out with their own stuff. Artists have been doing that for decades. Peter Gabriel has been putting out his own records since the ’80s, so it’s nothing new, but I think it’s reached the point where people who are underground can do it. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that you don’t necessarily have to rely on making a CD that has a national distribution that’s going to be in every Best Buy or whatever. I think the fact that you can get your music out through the internet, from either digital files or even your own webstore, that’s a huge thing. And maybe you can get a smaller distribution deal to sell at indie stores. That’s perfect, what else do you need?

Dan Briggs

How metal? Dan’s so metal he shoots laser beams out of his instruments.

Brootalisk: What are your plans after the tour?

Dan: BTBAM is going to Europe in the Summer, but right after this tour my group Trioscapes, which is a three piece fusion project with bass, saxophone and drums. We’re doing a couple weeks on the East Coast and we’re going down to Puerto Rico to do a masterclass and a concert of course. That’ll be fun. I’m going to be working with my third group Orbs. We just finished writing a new album that I’m probably going to try to and record the guitars, bass, and drums in May before BTBAM goes to Europe, and hopefully I can finish that in the fall. So, you know, staying busy.

Brootalisk: Do you think Trioscapes would ever tour with Tosin Abasi’s side project, T.R.A.M?

Dan: Yeah, you know it was really funny because we’re all good friends, and we all went to different countries touring, so we hadn’t seen each other for a long time. So we find ourselves in Europe together after a year or so and we ask them what they had been up to, and they were like, “Oh we started this fusion group with a saxophone player!” and when they asked me what I had been up to, I was like, “Oh I started this fusion group with a saxophone player!” That was weird. It ended up because we just have similar influences. Tosin and Javier are big into Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin, and John McLaughlin is a big influence to me and everyone in Trioscapes, and that was sort of a chance thing. However, I don’t think they have live ambitions. I kind of made it pretty vocal from the get go. Trioscapes started as a live band, after all. It’s very much an active group. So, I would love to, and I think that would be super fun. I’m sure kids would love to see that, but I think there’s a better chance of seeing us on tour with Animals as Leaders than seeing T.R.A.M.