Wednesday, June 30, 2010

War, Wisdom, And Rhyme

Formed in 2003, Savannah, Georgia's Baroness was founded by former members of punk/metal outfit Johnny Welfare And The Paychecks. With a diverse sound that spans everything from prog to sludge, Baroness have developed a sound that appeals to more than just run-of-the-mill metal fans. From 2004-2007, the band recorded and released three EP's, titled First, Second, and A Grey Sigh In A Flower Husk (split with Unpersons). After signing to Relapse records in 2007, Baroness began recording their first full-length, Red Album. Recorded at The Jam Room Studio in Columbia, South Carolina, Red Album finds the band expanding upon their sonic vision, combining colossal riffs and haunting vocals with melodic accents and intelligent guitar work, and was named by Revolver Magazine as 2007's Album Of The Year. Playing almost 250 shows a year, the band have criss-crossed the US three times, the UK and Europe twice, and have played at multiple international music festivals such as SXSW, MacRock, and ZXZW in the Netherlands. Their second full -length, Blue Record, was recorded at The Track Studio in Plano, Texas in early 2009, and was released on Relapse Records in October of the same year. Blue Record debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and was named Decibel Magazine's #1 Record Of 2009.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Waiting For The Moon To Speak

Described as everything from sludge to math metal, Cleveland, Ohio's Keelhaul have been pushing the boundaries of genre classification since 1997. Comprised of guitarist and vocalist Chris Smith (Integrity, Terminal Lovers, False Hope), bassist and vocalist Aaron Dallison (Escalation Anger, Ringworm, Abdullah, State Of Conviction), guitarist Dana Embrose (Suicide King, False Hope), and drummer Will Scharf (Craw), Keelhaul have carved a niche for themselves among fans of bands such as Mastodon, Isis, and Knut. Asked to describe their sound, members of the band have been known to respond with answers like, "Annoying" and "Post hardcore progressive acid rock". After a self imposed hiatus from 2004-2008, the band entered the studio to record their latest effort, "Keelhaul's Triumphant Return To Obscurity", which was released on Hydra Head records in 2009.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Claw

Based in Brooklyn, New York, Acid Tiger are rock/punk hybrid, featuring drummer Ben Koller (Converge/United Nations) and guitarist Lukas Previn (United Nations/Thursday/The A.K.A.s). Infusing raunchy punk with white knuckle rhythms reminiscent of Grand Funk Railroad, Acid Tiger make music that you can dance, drink, fuck, and fight to. Rounded out by vocalist J. Rattlesnake (The Goddamn Rattlesnake) and bassist Adam Wentworth (Bloodhorse), the band is truly best described as a hybrid, taking elements from its member's collective outfits, without sounding like any particular one at the same time. On their self-titled debut, released through Deathwish Music, the band effortlessly melds together their wide variety of influences, ripping through the album's seven songs with an energetic swagger that defines Acid Tiger as a truly unique and diverse animal.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slugs In A Salt Circle

Formed in 2004 by former members of Will Haven and Oddman, Sacramento, California's Abominable Iron Sloth have masterminded their sound into a devastatingly heavy mix of sludge, doom, and hardcore. Described by lead vocalist and guitarist Justin Godfrey as, "Old nihilistic punk mixed with doom" AIS are a Molotov cocktail of a band, ready to incinerate your eardrums and leave you in the burn unit at your local ER. The band creates this sound with a relatively minimal approach, fusing filthy guitars, primal drum pounding, and unnerving vocals that convey true horror. Originally featuring three former members of Will Haven (Jeff Irwin, Mitch Wheeler, and Mike Martin), Abominable Iron Sloth is now comprised of Godfrey, bassist Aubrey Debauchery, and drummer Andre Sanabria. After releasing their self-titled debut on Goodfellow Records in 2006, the band developed a cult following and signed to Black Market Activities to release their sophomore effort, "The Id Will Overcome" in April of 2010.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tower Of The Elephant

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Akimbo was founded in 1995 when bass player and vocalist Jon Weisnewski and drummer Nat Damm met in their high school gym class. Sharing a love for DC hardcore and punk, the two quickly became fast friends. Since playing their first show on Halloween night in 1998, Akimbo have had no less than 11 guitarists, finally settling on Aaron Walters in 2006. After opening for Melvins and punk icon Jello Biafra in 2005, the band was approached by Biafra and signed to his label, Alternative Tentacles, to release 2006's "Forging Steel And Laying Stone". Also released on Alternative Tentacles was the band's first album with Walters on guitar, 2007's "Navigating The Bronze". In late 2007, Akimbo played a show opening for Converge and Neurosis, and was asked by Neurosis frontman Steve Von Till to join his label, Neurot Recordings. In October of 2008 the band released their most critically acclaimed album to date, "Jersey Shores", a concept album inspired by a series of mysterious shark attacks that occurred on the beaches of New Jersey in 1916.  Showing a substantial deviation from the style of their earlier recordings, "Jersey Shores" offers spiraling, melodic lines intertwined with crushing, drop-tuned chugging, the end result of which is a post-hardcore masterpiece. With a discography that channels everything from Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to Converge and Melvins, Akimbo are a band quickly on the rise in the metal underground, and a great addition to any music fan's collection.

*Note* All of the downloadable copies of Jersey Shores seem to have vanished. I can't find a good link to it anywhere. I'll keep looking for one, but in the meantime I would suggest buying it from iTunes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Exorcism Of The Host

Founded by lead guitarist and vocalist Mike Scheidt in 1996, Eugene, Oregon's YOB have been punishing listeners with their brand of doom for over a decade. Cited by Scheidt as being influenced by bands ranging from Soundgarden and Neurosis to Saint Vitus and Black Sabbath, YOB have developed a diverse and unique sound that sets them apart from other doom metal bands. Originally comprised of Scheidt, bassist Lowell Iles, and drummer Greg Ocon, the band has seen several line up changes throughout the years. For the recording of the band's 2001/2002 full length debut, Elaborations Of Carbon, Scheidt recruited ex-Thrombus member Isamu Sato on bass, and ex-Lightweight drummer Gabe Morley. Drawing comparisons to bands such as Sleep, Burning Witch, Electric Wizard, and High On Fire, YOB's debut full length was met with much critical praise. In 2002, the band signed Abstract Sounds and began recording their sophomore release, Catharsis. Featuring a stronger production value and three songs clocking in at 50 minutes, Catharsis saw the band taking their sound in an even darker, heavier direction. After signing with Metal Blade Records in 2004, YOB released their third full length, The Illusion Of Motion and embarked on a headlining tour of the US. Following the release of the band's fourth album in 2005, Sato and Foster left the band, and after six months of searching for replacements, Scheidt announced in January 2006 that YOB was disbanding. In 2008, the band was reformed and began recording and playing shows again, releasing their fifth full length, The Great Cessation, on Profound Lore Records in 2009. Combining thundering, potent guitar riffs with a brain jarring rhythm section, YOB have secured their place among doom metal's elite. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rock 'N' Roll Is Straight From Hell

Born Stuart Daniel Baker, Albemarle, North Carolina's Unknown Hinson has developed a rabid cult following since his debut in 1999. Sporting glued on sideburns, blacked out front teeth, and his dark hair slicked back to reveal a prominent widow's peak, he has often been referred to as "hillbilly vampire". Known as "ever womern's dream and ever jealous husband's worst nightmare", Hinson is revered worldwide as a hell raising, hard drinking country western singer with a preference for "party liquor", sexy women, and fine guitars. Fusing elements of rocakbilly, country, and psychobilly, Unknown's live shows are truly a sight to behold. Dressed in his signature black rodeo tailor coat and black ribbon necktie, Hinson and his band rip through their "chart toppin' hits" at ear splitting volume, often adding extended guitar solos and crowd participation to the mix. Known to tour for months and months at a time, the self professed "King Of Country Western Troubadours" always takes time after his set to meet every fan that has stuck around, graciously taking pictures, signing shirts, posters, CD's, and body parts. In addition to his work as Unknown Hinson, Baker also provides the voice of Early Cuyler on the Adult Swim program Squidbillies, as well playing bass and lead guitar (sans his Unknown Hinson costume) in Billy Bob Thornton's band The Boxmasters.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Negative Reversal

Formed in 2001 by vocalist/guitarist Jason Landrian (formerly of Cavity) and drummer Rafeal Martinez, two piece sludge/doom outfit Black Cobra have slowly developed into a vicious, super distorted heavy metal machine. Drawing comparisons to bands like Mastodon and High On Fire, the duo are known for the intensity of their live shows, as well as the amount of sound they generate with just one guitar and one set of drums.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Abstract Nihilism

Originally founded by lead guitarist and vocalist Blake Judd as a side project, Chicago's Nachtmystium have been described as everything from black metal to psychedelic. Drawing their influence from bands like Darkthrone and Burzum, Nachtmystium released their debut album, Reign Of The Malicious, in 2002. Subsequent albums found the band taking their sound in a much more experimental direction, adding layers of keyboard sounds and synth to their songs. Judd describes 2004's Demise LP as the band's "last, straight forward 'raw black metal' record." The band's next two releases, 2004's Eulogy IV and 2006's Instinct:Decay, draw much more on influences from bands like The Doors, Black Sabbath, and Pink Floyd. Jason Bracelin, of Las Vegas Review-Journal, has even described their sound as, "what happens when Pink goes black." In 2008, Nachtmystium released Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1, and embarked on a tour of the US with Opeth, Baroness, and High On Fire. Garnering critical praise from Pitchfork Media and MTV's Headbanger's Ball, Assassins has been described by Judd as the band's attempt to redefine their image within the music community. He states, " The idea of 'Assassins' is that an assassin kills, gets rid of, or destroys something. It's not directly about us. We want to assassinate all these preconceived notions about where the metal community feels we belong in music, and we want to do our own thing. And what we do is black meddle." The band's latest effort, titled Addicts: Black Meddle, Part 2, expands on their post-rock and industrial influences,  at times channeling bands such as Ministry and The Killing Joke. Blending everything from black metal to jazz, Nachtmystium continue to push the boundaries of extreme music into new and interesting territory.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Total Extinction

Combining the vicious d-beat of classic Discharge and searing early 90's death metal, Austin, Texas' Mammoth Grinder have been punishing listeners with their sound since 2005. While most of the trio's early work favors the band's hardcore/punk influences, later albums find the band showcasing their love of death metal, d-beat, sludge, and doom. Featuring guitar work that is technical and explosive, a pummeling rhythm section, and deep and menacing vocals, Mammoth Grinder have developed a sound that is as subtle as a shot to the head with a sledgehammer.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Septic Werewolves

Originally from Wilmington, North Carolina (also known as Cape Fear), Sourvein was formed in 1993 by vocalist T-Roy Medlin. Self described as "MDC meets My War-era Black Flag meets Melvins", the band embarked on the "30 Days Of Roadkill Tour" in 1994, sharing the stage with the likes of Anal Cunt, Eyehategod, and Buzzoven. Two years later, T-Roy joined Buzzoven as a full time member, providing samples and background vocals up until the band's demise in 1998. After moving to New York City, Medlin began jamming with Liz Buckingham, who was at the time a member of New York crust/doom frontrunners 13. In late 1998, the duo moved to New Orleans to regroup, and once there they continued to tour and record, working with various bass players and drummers along the way, including a short stint with Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod, Crowbar, Down). In 2001, just two months after releasing their debut album on Man's Ruin Records, the label folded. In spite of this setback, the band continued to tour, soon building a reputation for themselves, not only with fans but also with local police. Shut down more than once for disturbing the peace, it is said that they are even banned from playing in Medlin's hometown, Cape Fear. Now signed to Southern Lord, Sourvein continue to tour relentlessly and are set to release a new album in the Fall of 2010.